TUPELO, Miss — A Mississippi-based company that had become one of the largest furniture businesses in the country has laid off nearly its entire workforce.
Approximately 2,700 workers, most of whom live in northeast Mississippi, lost their jobs Monday, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
Just days before the Thanksgiving holiday, United Furniture Industries sent a memo via email and text to workers late Monday night informing them not to report to their shifts Tuesday.
A second email informed workers their "layoff from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA,” referring to the federal law that gives people who lose their jobs an option to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage under some circumstances.
Some employees were sound asleep when the emails hit their inboxes. Others never saw the emails before heading to work. Company drivers who were out making deliveries were told to return to a United Furniture location immediately to turn in their trucks.
The memo said the layoffs were made at the instruction of the company's board of directors and were due to “unforeseen business circumstances.” The memo did not offer any specific details about what led to the layoffs.
The company's communications team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
United Furniture Industries, based in Okolona, Miss., makes furniture under its brand and the Lane Home Furnishings brand, which it acquired in 2017 from Heritage Home Group LLC for an undisclosed sum. Lane was founded in 1912 in Virginia and merged with Tupelo-based Action Industries in 1972.
Furniture Today, a trade publication, reported that United fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vice president of sales in June. It then named Todd Evans, the former president of Standard Furniture, an Alabama-based company, as its new chief executive.
In addition to eight plants in Mississippi, United also had six plants in North Carolina and one in California. Layoffs took place at the North Carolina and California locations as well.