Furniture Biz Shows Signs of Stress

Layoffs, plant closings increase amid oversupply and under demand

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The supply chain pendulum has been cruel to the furniture industry.

Following two years of inventory outages and unprecedented demand, manufacturers and retailers are now facing far different circumstances.

Just as warehouses became flush with home furnishings after vendors found their post-pandemic footing, rampant inflation and rising home mortgage rates have quelled consumer demand. New orders for furniture fell 20% in April from the prior year, according to the Smith Leonard consultancy, and layoffs and factory closures are mounting as vendors attempt to right-size their operations.

The latest manufacturer moves include a reorganization at United Home Furnishings, parent of case goods and upholstery maker Lane, which is cutting 300 jobs, closing a metal stamping plant and shifting two production facilities, reported Home News Now. “Our industry is experiencing a drastic decrease in consumer demand,” said newly named CEO Todd Evans, who was promoted last month amid a C-suite shakeup. “Our inventory levels remain high and new orders from our customers remain slow.’’

Plant closings are also in the offing for Serta Simmons, which has filed at least three WARN Act layoff notices over the last three months, affecting workers in  Virginia, Iowa and Kansas, according to Furniture Today. In addition, the company is consolidating its two Wisconsin factories into a single 500,000-square-foot plant in Janesville that will produce Beautyrest and Serta mattresses, the company said.

Similarly, Southern Furniture Industries, parent of motion upholstery maker Southern Motion and upholstery manufacturer Fusion, cut its workforce by about 15 percent last month after a voluntary layoff proved ineffective, Furniture Today said.

The most drastic action was taken by mattress maker Corsicana, which filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month to cut costs and relieve its debt load in advance of its proposed purchase by private equity firm Blue Torch Capital. According to Home News Now, the filing followed word of two planned plant closures, including a recently opened Indiana facility and a factory that Corsicana acquired with last April’s purchase of Symbol Mattress.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.