Citing the rapid and severe downturn in the overall economic conditions in October and November and increasing global competition in socks, Gildan announced that its Hillsville operations would cease by the end of February 2009.
In all, 180 employees at the Carroll facility will be out of a job.
“It was a decision that was made very recently in light of the economic conditions,” said Gildan Director of Corporate Communications Genevieve Gosselin. “It was very difficult in October and November.”
Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe said it’s tough news for the county, but citizens of Carroll have always found a way to bounce back whenever they’ve been dealt a tough hand.
“We’re very disappointed for our citizens that would be associated with Gildan and that we hope and pray for a better day,” Larrowe said. “One of the things, though, is the folks of Carroll County have a lot of tenacity and work hard and they always come through. We will get through this one as well.”
Larrowe said the county has been in touch with Gildan officials, as well as the Virginia Employment Commission, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and local General Assembly members, among others.
“There are things that are taking place,” Larrowe said. “This isn’t our first rodeo but it doesn’t mean we like these.”
Larrowe said the county will continue to explore ways to bring in jobs for its citizens.
“We’re continuing to fight the battle to put infrastructure in place,” Larrowe said. “We’ve always come through these downturns in the economy and there’s always been an upturn.”
Gildan purchased the Hillsville operation on June 20, 2006 when it bought Kentucky Derby Hosiery. In May 2007, Gildan announced the closing of its knitting operations in nearby Mount Airy, N.C., which was completed in August of that year. That closure resulted in 520 employees losing their jobs.
Gosselin said Gildan would work with local organizations to assist the Hillsville plant employees in transitioning to new jobs or to educational opportunities.
“We’ll do everything we can for these employees,” Gosselin said. “The first step was to give them a prenotice of more than 60 days, during which they would be able to have time to think about and find new opportunities. We’ll also work with local organizations to have a workshop to help employees transition to new opportunities.”
Gosselin said that Gildan will apply for U.S. Trade Adjustment Assistance Act benefits for the impacted employees. She said if the application is accepted, the employees will be eligible for additional benefits.
Bill Webb at the Virginia Employment Commission said the VEC will be working with Gildan in the process to help the employees in their transition.