Performance fabric maker Polartec is to close down its Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile mill and relocate to plants in New Hampshire and Tennessee due to what it says are capacity and marketing pressures and customer needs. 

The textile mill, which employs around 200 full-time workers and 100 seasonal part-timers, was nearing the 20-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the building, then part of Malden Mills. Polartec, owned by private equity investment firm Versa Capital Management, said it will keep its headquarters and research and development in Lawrence.

In a statement, the company said it had no specific timetable for the move, adding that it had met with the leadership of Unite union and provided a letter outlining its plans to consolidate US manufacturing in New Hampshire and Tennessee. 

As part of that consolidation, operations are expected to be wound down in Lawrence in a phased process over the next few years.

"The intended change in Polartec's manufacturing is the result of global marketing pressures, customer needs, and an over-large facility in Lawrence that cannot be made to support Polartec's production needs. In its most productive year, the company has only been able to use 25% of its Lawrence facility," the company said.

"Polartec intends to meet with local elected officials and employment development agencies to mitigate the impact of the consolidation and related wind-down on Lawrence and the region. These mitigation efforts include exploring the potential sale of all or portions of its assets in Lawrence, obtaining for impacted workers skills training and entries into other local companies with employment opportunities, and pursuing alternative uses for the Lawrence site that would have a positive employment impact on the city and region. However, there are no specifics to discuss at this time."

Polartec said its employees will be provided with further information as lay-offs and other consolidation and wind-down procedures become known. 

Versa, which rescued Polartec from liquidation in 2007, said in a separate statement that it supported Polartec, which it says has "re-emerged as a strong and innovative global competitor in its markets". 

"With cooperation from state and federal agencies, Polartec has successfully retained hundreds of jobs and converted empty, decaying buildings into vibrant mixed-use and residential apartment communities in Lawrence, contributing to the ongoing renewal of Lawrence and Methuen through its successful real estate re-development activities. Polartec continues to work with interested parties to develop solutions for its real estate assets in Lawrence that will help both the company and the Lawrence and Methuen communities."