By Dennis Seid
NEW ALBANY – The closing of Newport Furniture could be the end of a 65-year-old furniture manufacturing legacy.
Last week, Newport filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, an unsurprising move given its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing a few days earlier.
Production at the plant had all but ceased in recent weeks, and more than 100 employees were told in June that they would be laid off.
Newport was made up of two divisions – Newport Upholstery and Newport Accessories.
Newport emerged in 2010 shortly after the closing and liquidation of Caye Home Furnishings.
Caye’s demise forced the layoffs of more than 600 workers.
The company’s brands included Stratford and Stratolounger, whose roots go back to Morris Futorian.
Futorian is considered the father of the upholstered furniture industry in Northeast Mississippi. The Chicago native moved his furniture operations in New Albany in 1948, introducing mass production techniques he modeled after Detroit’s automakers.
Futorian opened Stratford Furniture Co. in New Albany in September 1948. The plant grew to more than 1.2 million square feet, making it the largest upholstered furniture plant in the world. At its peak, the company employed more than 2,000 people.
Futorian sold his furniture holdings in 1964 but maintained a role until he retired in 1981. The Stratford plant closed in the 1990s. It was reopened when Caye bought the remaining assets in 2002.
Newport, which had shown at the Tupelo Furniture Market, occupied two spaces – an 11,715-square foot space in Building VI for his upholstered furniture and a 2,400-square-foot space in Building III for its accessories unit.
TFM President Kevin Seddon said the spaces won’t be left empty for the upcoming fall market, with both spaces filled by exhibitors.