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Woolrich Shutters US Mill Over Rising Manufacturing Costs and Eroding Margins

Woolrich Inc. on Thursday said it will be closing its historic woolen mill in Woolrich, Pa., with fabric manufacturing operations expected to cease by the end of the year and affect up to 40 employees.

“The decision to close the mill was made following a comprehensive review of our overall woven fabric business and the considerable capital improvements needed to modernize and maintain viable operations,” Nick Brayton, president of Woolrich, said in a statement provided to local news outlet, The Express. “Unfortunately, due to higher manufacturing costs, eroding margins and continued unprofitability within the mill, it is no longer economically feasible to continue our Pennsylvania-based woolen mill operation.”

Woolrich, which made wool blankets and fabric at the site, said it will provide career transition services for affected employees, including severance pay based on years of service, outplacement assistance such as resume preparation and interviewing skills, and job placement assistance with local employers. Retirement and pension planning services will also be provided for those employees not seeking re-employment. The company also plans to work with state and federal dislocated worker agencies to provide additional benefits and services that might be available to employees.

“We are eternally grateful to all our employees for their years of dedication and loyalty to the company and our number one priority right now is to help affected employees through this transition,” Brayton said. “While this was a very difficult decision, our strategic approach to align our collections globally remains our primary focus and we are continuing the next stage of the globalization of the Woolrich brand.”

The company said it will maintain its wholesale, retail and e-commerce apparel businesses. Established in 1830, Woolrich is considered the oldest U.S. outdoor clothing brand, with two labels: Woolrich Outdoor, distributed in North America, and Woolrich John Rich & Bros., a contemporary high-end outerwear line distributed worldwide.

Woolrich collections are distributed in 45 countries through a network of 25 stores around the world. The company merged with its European counterpart in 2016 and has since sold stakes in the company to several investors.