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Simmons factory lays off 52

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 8, 2008
— A continuing downturn in the U.S. economy has forced the layoff of 52 workers at Simmons Co. in Janesville.

The workers learned of the layoffs—some of them permanent—last week.


Simmons isn't alone in its struggles, as its main competitor in the bedding industry, Sealy, said Monday that it will reorganize to reduce costs and maintain its competitive position.


"As the rebound in the domestic economy continues to elude us, we feel it prudent to take additional actions that will position Sealy to weather the current economic storm and make a strong recovery when market conditions finally improve," Sealy CEO Larry Rogers told Furniture Today, a trade publication.


Simmons officials in Janesville referred questions about the layoff to an Atlanta-based public relations firm.


Before the layoffs, the Simmons' plant on Adel Street employed about 330 workers.


Earlier this year, the plant laid off 71 workers but was able to call back most of them.


The Atlanta-based Simmons operates 19 conventional bedding manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.


Last month, the company said it would close a plant in Ontario, Canada, and cut 153 workers after a strike by union workers created unacceptable losses in revenue and customer business.


Seventy-five percent of the Ontario plant's production was expected to transfer to Simmons' plants in Janesville and Pennsylvania. Had that work not transferred to Janesville, the local layoffs could have been more extensive, sources have told The Janesville Gazette.


Earlier this summer, Simmons reported a second-quarter sales decline of 3.7 percent. For the first six months of 2008, net sales were $544.6 million, down slightly from the $545.3 million posted in the first six months of 2007.


"The economic environment we operated in during the second quarter was very difficult because of reduced demand and increased costs..." said Charlie Eitel, Simmons's chief executive officer. "Despite the difficult sales environment, our products continue to be among the best performing at retail."



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