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Munro & Co. to Idle 2 Plants, 260 Workers.

Munro & Co., the footwear maker based in Hot Springs, will permanently close its plants at DeWitt and Clarendon within 60 days.

DeWitt Footwear employs about 200, and its satellite plant, Clarendon Footwear, employs about 60, according to a company press release.

An unidentified "major customer" - one whose business accounted for more than half of the two plants' production - has canceled its order from those plants, vice president Mollie Munro said.

The plants are more than 40 years old and were bought from Brown Shoe Co. in the 1970s. The DeWitt plant did complete manufacturing on men's casual shoes for Red Wing, Sears and H.S. Trask, among other customers, while the Clarendon plant did only overflow stitching for shoes that were then finished at DeWitt.

"We just don't see the demand coming back in the men's shoe category adequately to support that plant," Munro said.

Production will continue at Munro plants in Hot Springs, Mount Ida, Clarksville and Wynne, but there will be some restructuring at those plants, the company said in a press release. Those plants make women's shoes and industrial footwear.

"Our women's business is actually getting better," Munro said, but not fast enough to justify retooling the DeWitt and Clarendon plants.

The company's total employment now is about 900, Munro said, down from about 1,500 two years ago.

"We really do believe in our heart of hearts that we have taken the steps necessary to remain a viable business," Munro said, but she said she could make no promises for an industry that has almost entirely left the United States for cheaper foreign labor markets.

The plants at Dewitt and Clarendon, suitable for light to medium industrial uses, are for sale, Munro said.
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Comment:Munro & Co. to Idle 2 Plants, 260 Workers.
Author:Moritz, Gwen
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Oct 8, 2001
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