HNI to shutter Hickory plant as part of consolidation plan

HICKORY, N.C. – Office and contract furniture giant HNI Corp. will shut down its Hickory, N.C., plant early next year, laying off 200 production and operations workers. The move is part of an effort to consolidate operations across other North American facilities, as well as to save costs.

“Closing a facility is a difficult decision and is not a reflection on the hard work and effort of the Hickory operations team,” said Jeff Lorenger, HNI CEO. “We are grateful for their dedication and will work to assist them through this transition.”

HNI expects the consolidation to improve productivity and strengthen operations, without sacrificing capacity or creating disruption, it said in a release. The company will maintain a commercial presence in Hickory with its HBF brand of workplace furnishings and textile products. HBF’s brand headquarters will remain in Hickory as will its marketing, customer experience and product development employees.

“This is a strategic decision to optimize our operational footprint and improve business performance,” Lorenger continued. “We are announcing this several months in advance as part of our commitment to make the transition as smooth as possible. We will continue to grow our premium HBF business with our talented brand team in Hickory. This move will improve the customer experience for our trade partners and end-users, and more efficiently deliver on our commitments to safety, quality, lead-times and reliability.”

Specifically, HNI expects the closure will save $11 million annually in costs by 2026. Savings expected for 2025 are $8 million to $9 million.

HNI acquired competing contract furniture giant Kimball in June 2023 for $485 million. Its quarterly sales have been bolstered by the acquisition, with sales rising 22.7% in the first quarter of this year. When excluding the acquisition, however, sales have fallen organically. Last quarter, organic sales fell 8.1%. The quarter before that, organic sales fell 6.4%.

Still, the company reported a profit for the first quarter: a 33.6% increase with Kimball and a 0.9% increase without.

See also:

  • Kimball acquisition continues to bolster HNI’s earnings in Q1
  • Thanks to Kimball acquisition, HNI sees major sales gains in fourth quarter

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