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Miss. Furniture Parts Maker Plans Layoffs

Leggett & Platt said it will lay off 259 workers at two plants in northeast Mississippi, due to a consolidation of operations.

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) -- Furniture parts maker Leggett & Platt said it will lay off 259 workers at two plants in northeast Mississippi.

The announcement Thursday is one in a string of hits for the battered northeast Mississippi furniture industry.

The Carthage, Mo.-based company says the layoffs will begin in stages around Dec. 8 and are due to a consolidation of operations.

The layoffs were announced for the Omega Motion facility in Saltillo, where 172 production workers will be affected, and the Super Sagless facility in Tupelo, where 87 workers will be laid off.

The Saltillo facility makes furniture hardware for recliners and rockers.

The Tupelo plant makes hardware for recliners, rockers and sofa sleepers.

The company said the laid-off workers would receive at least 60 days of pay and benefits and job placement services.

The L&P layoffs come on the heels of other industry setbacks this week.

On Monday, ACT Electronics in Corinth said layoffs for 200 workers could begin as early as Dec. 4. Another 50 temporary and contract workers also are employed at the plant. The company is trying to find a buyer for the facility.

And Tuesday, Parker Hannifin Corp. said its Mobile Climate Systems plant in Booneville would close by Dec. 31, affecting 150 workers.

In September, Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. said it would cut 200 jobs -- 5 percent of its Mississippi work force -- at plants in Ecru and Ripley.

Ken Pruett, president of the Mississippi Furniture Association, said the state's $5.4 billion furniture industry is feeling the pain of tightened credit.

"Our plants are getting orders, but there's a lot of concern that customers may not be able to pay.

In fact, the turndown rate for credit in furniture stores is usually about 15 percent, but we're hearing much bigger numbers. That means people can't buy furniture, retailers can't order furniture, and manufacturers can't make it. It's a serious situation," he said.

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