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Haworth to Close Plant, reduce working week and lay off 350 employees

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Following the lead of the other major office furniture makers, Haworth Tuesday announced it is closing its plant in Allegan, Mich. and shedding 350 jobs, saying the company \"has not been immune to the unprecedented economic turmoil that has assailed our nation\'s and the world\'s economy.\"

The job cuts are focused on the company\'s blue collar workers, but sources have told The Monday Morning Quarterback that the company has slowly bled its white collar workforce as well. Spokeswoman Julie Smith would not comments on rumors of the office cuts.

The only communication from the company has been in the form of a statement from President and Chief Executive Officer Franco Bianchi, who said Haworth has been \"proactive in planning for these difficult times and our members have performed admirably in their efforts to increase sales and constrain costs.\"

The cuts, he said, allow Haworth to maintain a \"strong and competitive\" business position.

By mid-2009, the company will close its Allegan, Mich. plant, which produces the Haworth\'s seating products. Smith said a decision has not been made as to where that production will move, although she did say the production would remain in North America.

The company also is moving to a four-day work week beginning Jan. 16. The company will be closed on Friday unless the work load demands the plants stay open. Haworth will review its order rates each week to determine how long the short work week will last.

Workers at the Allegan plant who lose their jobs will be offered an \"enhanced\" severance package that nearly triples Haworth\'s standard severance for hourly workers, provides medical coverage during the severance period, pays vacation/personal time for 2009 and offers outplacement services. The company also will offer the same package on a volunteer basis to all hourly production members in its Holland and Douglas, Mich. plants.

\" Haworth will continue to closely monitor the evolving business situation and make investments to enhance our capability to grow market share,\" Bianchi said. \" We are working hard to achieve a balance that will enable us to weather these difficult times. Despite the economic turmoil, Haworth is fortunate to remain a privately-held, stable, profitable and financially strong company.\"

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