Lane president says layoffs done and no more planned

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Lane Furniture Industries President Greg Roy, following up on comments by other company officials last week, also disputed reports that hundreds of employees have been or will be laid off and called the rumors “ridiculous.”
On Monday, Roy said the layoffs were done more than three weeks ago before the High Point fall market.
“Lane has 1,946 employees, which includes our Royal Development mechanism facility in High Point,” he said. “We downsized less than 3.5 percent, so you can do the math and see how ridiculous these high numbers are that I continue to hear in the community.”
Roy declined to give specifics on who and where the layoffs were within Lane but reiterated it did not exceed the 3.5 percent figure announced last week.
“One single person is too many, and every decision made to reduce and control costs is based on the long-term health of Lane Furniture Industries, the largest division of Furniture Brands International,” he said. “No further reductions in force are planned for Lane.”
On Thursday, officials with Furniture Brands International – the parent of Lane, Broyhill, Thomasville and other brands – said it had cut about 3.5 percent of its workforce company-wide in order to help reduce costs.
Lane, which has facilities in Belden, Saltillo, Verona and Wren, employs nearly 2,000 workers.
Lisa Hanly, a spokesperson for Furniture Brands, said Friday rumors that hundreds of Lane employees were laid off were incorrect.
Roy did confirm that the Lane Home Furnishings store on McCullough Boulevard is closing Nov. 18, the last of its free-standing Lane stores. At its peak, Lane had 29 stores. He said Lane is focusing on its more than 3,000 retail partners and Lane showcase galleries in North America and Europe.
He said Furniture Brands owns the property and hasn’t decided what to do with it.
Roy also said that the Wren distribution center will not close next spring.
“We absolutely have no intention of closing Wren,” he said. “In fact, it has been a terrific facility for us, and we utilize it for both wood and upholstery distribution.”
Roy said Lane is in the process of signing a new lease on the center and added, “I am hopeful Lane will enjoy many more years working with the tremendous team and good people in Wren.”
He said Lane’s recent showing at High Point was “terrific,” with attendance up 12 percent. He also said order rates last week were the highest in 30 days, giving Lane momentum heading into the holiday selling season.
“The key for us now is to focus on building high quality and comfortable furniture for our customers across the world and to remain positive as we work together to grow our business in 2012,” he said. Escalating raw material and freight costs have swung the pendulum back to U.S. and Mississippi manufacturing, Roy said, and “I couldn’t be happier with that transition.”
Lane is the biggest division in Furniture Brands – the second-largest furniture company in the world. By itself, Lane is the seventh-largest.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com