Greensboro-based International Textile Group will close the Cone Denim White Oak plant in the city before the end of the year, according to a press release from the city of Greensboro.
“We are saddened by today’s announcement,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said in the press release. “The city of Greensboro is committed to helping these employees and their families plan for their futures with the resources available at Guilford County Workforce Development. This loss is regrettable, as Cone Denim has long been an important part of our City’s history and heritage. That will not change, especially as International Textile Group will retain its headquarters, community involvement, product development and other corporate and division activities in Greensboro. We remain optimistic about Greensboro’s employment prospects, as we chart an aggressive path toward new economic development with our regional partners.”
A spokesperson for International Textile Group could not immediately be reached to confirm the release or provide additional details. The news section of the company’s website makes no mention of the closure (as of 4 p.m. on Oct. 18).
Cone Denim celebrated 125 years in business last year. Its website also makes no mention of the planned closing.
The company announced almost exactly a year ago that it was acquired by Platinum Equity.
White Oak is Cone Denim’s only mill in the United States — the other two are in Mexico and China.
Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, is the former owner of International Textile Group.
From our reporting back in December 2016: “A former banker, Ross snapped up Cone Mills and Burlington Industries, two once-mighty Greensboro firms facing bankruptcy, at fire-sale prices in 2004, and operated them through International Textile Group until he sold them to Platinum Equity two weeks before the election. He performed a similar function in steel and coal by buying up distressed properties and consolidating them.”
Textiles, and denim in particular, are a huge part of Greensboro’s history. It’s the headquarters of global apparel brand VF and Wrangler, which are independent of ITG. A recent branding campaign drawing on Greensboro’s history refers to the city as “Jeansboro,” and painting sculptures of jeans adorn the city’s downtown streets. At least some of Wrangler’s products are made with denim from Cone Denim’s White Oak, according to the company’s website. Levi’s and other brands also source from White Oak.
(Disclosure: The author’s girlfriend is an employee of VF.)