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Published: Tuesday, 8/10/2004

La-Z-Boy to cut 525 jobs as it closes 3 plants

MONROE - La-Z-Boy Inc. said yesterday it will eliminate 525 jobs and lay off 120 employees as it closes plants in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

In announcing a steep loss for the fiscal first quarter, the company said it will close a plant and warehouse in the Lewisburg, Pa., area and will close a plant that assembles dining-room chairs in White Deer, Pa., and an upholstery plant in Booneville, Miss. Most products made there will now be made overseas, officials said.

About 120 workers will be laid off when an upholstery plant in Hudson, N.C. closes by mid-September, the company said.

The Monroe furniture producer reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $3.5 million, or seven cents a share, compared with a profit of $5.8 million, or 11 cents a share, for the same period a year ago. The company said this year's results were mostly caused by restructuring charges.

The company said it had sales for the quarter ending July 24 of $466 million, up 3 percent from $451 million for the period a year ago.

"We are disheartened by these additional plant closures and the disruption to the lives of our employees at the affected locations, but we strongly believe these actions are necessary for the company to remain competitive on a long-germ basis," Chief Executive Officer Kurt Darrow said in a written statement.

The moves will reduce employment in the firm's troubled wood furniture unit by 15 percent, executives said.

Shareholders are to gather to today in Monroe for the firm's annual meeting.

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