Bowling Green, Ky.-based branded apparel manufacturer Fruit of the Loom Inc. (FOTL) has announced it will close its Jamestown, Ky., plant and move the operations to Honduras. The company cited economic considerations as the basis for the decision. The closure will result in the loss of 601 jobs in the area. Operations will be phased out over a period of seven months, from June 8 through December 31.
“This decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication and efforts of the employees in our Jamestown facility, but is a result of a competitive global business environment,” said Tony Pelaski, the company’s executive vice president and COO.
FOTL, which was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2002, will continue to be headquartered in Bowling Green, where it also maintains a distribution center. The company also has distribution and/or yarn spinning facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana.
As one of the largest private employers in Honduras, FOTL has put considerable effort into making its operations in that country a model of social and environmental responsibility. Initiatives include: establishing a collective bargaining agreement with its Honduran workers; recognizing unions and assuming a union-neutral stance at its facilities; offering health screenings in local communities; and reducing carbon emissions and providing ecological stoves in rural areas. Earlier this year, the company received the 2013 Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) in recognition of its role abroad as a good corporate citizen within the local Honduran community. It also received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leadership Award for its commitment to reduce electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2015 — with a large portion of that reduction related to electricity consumption in Honduras, where the company will offset all of that consumption with renewable sources including onsite biomass electricity and local hydroelectric power.
April 21, 2014