Black & Decker to shut N.C. plant, cutting 700 jobs


Black & Decker Corp. yesterday announced it will close its Tarboro, N.C., plant, which will eliminate about 700 jobs but may boost employment at its Easton plant by as many as 100 during the next year.

The shutdown of the plant, which makes cordless power tools and household products, will begin this fall and be finished by the middle of 1996, according to Barbara Lucas, a spokeswoman for the Towson-based power tool and appliance manufacturer. The plant's production will be shifted to factories in Easton, Fayetteville, N.C., and Asheboro, N.C.

While exact figures have not been determined, as many as 100 new jobs could be added to the Eastern Shore plant as a result, Ms. Lucas said.

"It will be very gradual and phased in over the next year. It's not an immediate thing," she said.

Ms. Lucas said the Tarboro plant was chosen for closing because it assembles parts made at other plants rather than making key components like electric motors.

"From a logistical point of view, it makes sense to combine assembly operations where we already have core manufacturing going on," she said.

Employment at the Easton plant, which makes power tools and lawn and garden equipment, has increased steadily in the last several years. It currently employs 1,116 permanent and temporary workers, up from 801 in 1991, according to Carolyn DelBello, human resources manager for the company's North American Power Tools division.

Besides the Easton plant, the Fortune 500 company also employs 1,000 people at its Towson headquarters and 900 in Hampstead, where power tool accessories are packaged. The closing of the Tarboro plant, which is near Raleigh, is part of a $100 million cost-cutting effort started last year.

Already plants in Germany and South Carolina have been closed and factories in Sweden and Singapore are being cut back or converted to other uses.

A Raleigh distribution center, with 60 jobs, also was closed last year after the company opened an 800,000-square-foot distribution facility in Fort Mill, S.C. Distribution workers in Hampstead also were affected, but they were transferred to other jobs, Ms. Lucas said.

The cost-cutting efforts, along with increasing manufacturing efficiency, helped boost B&D;'s annual profits to $127.4 million last year, 33.8 percent higher than the previous year excluding a special charge for accounting changes.

The company's stock, which has been in the doldrums for the last decade, has taken off in recent months. Yesterday it closed at $26.50 a share, down 25 cents from Tuesday's close, which was a 52-week high.

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