Johnston Industries, Inc has announced plans to reduce the number of operating plants by consolidating weaving operations. The company will consolidate its Columbus Mill plant into other operations.

D. Clark Ogle, president and CEO of Johnston Industries said: "I deeply regret the impact this will have on many of our loyal Johnston employees." The facility has 375 employees who produce fabric from cotton fibre.

Johnston Industries is one of the last textile companies of its size to take this sort of action. Company officials noted they have resisted such action in hopes of an improvement in the markets.

While new business opportunities are being pursued, these do not justify four weaving plants, the company said. Increasing competitive pressures have compelled Johnston to remove equipment that is not cost-effective, and focus resources on equipment more suited to its product offering.

Construction on the Columbus Mill plant began in 1898 and production started in 1902. For almost 100 years the facility has produced woven fabrics. The 572,000 sq ft plant has been owned by Columbus-based Johnston Industries since 1992 when the company acquired the Wellington Sears operation of WestPoint Stevens.

Columbus Mill business will be merged into Johnston Industries Southern Phenix Textiles and the Opp & Micolas Mills. With the merging of business into Southern Phenix, many Columbus Mill employees will be relocating to the Southern Phenix operation in Phenix City, AL, where employment will be given based on seniority.

Mr Ogle said: "Employees at Columbus Mill and Southern Phenix have been notified of how they will be impacted by these plans. This course of action is a necessary step in rebuilding Johnston Industries and ensures that each employee has an opportunity to consistently earn a full week's wages. I feel confident this will enable Johnston to enhance its global market position and posture it for profitable growth and stability."