The Brooks Brothers clothing company is closing its factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, as it struggles with declining sales, dealing an economic blow to the community.
The Southwick factory in Haverhill employs more than 400 workers and is the city's second largest provider of jobs. It's the company's largest factory in the United States.
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he's disappointed by the news and hopes there’s a way to keep it from closing.
“Unfortunately, what looks like what's going to happen is sometime in mid-July they're going to close that factory and ship the jobs overseas,” Fiorentini said. “We’re very upset about it, and we’re very concerned and working with a couple of groups that are interested in buying either the business or the factory or both.”
Brooks Brothers, which is also closing its two otherU.S. factories, has not responded to requests for comment.
According to Fiorentini, Southwick was first located in Lawrence under the name of Greico Brothers. For nearly a century, the company manufactured high-end men’s suits in a factory off Canal street, and it grew to 300 workers. Brooks Brothers bought the company in 2001.
In 2008, when the building was being refurbished, the company considered going overseas, Fiorentini said. But he and state officials led by then Gov. Mitt Romney, lured new owner Brooks Brothers to Haverhill with generous tax incentives.
“They were considering going overseas, and I worked with Gov. Romney's administration and we were able to convince them that 'Made in America' meant something and they should stay here,” he added, noting that the company was given more tax incentives under the Deval Patrick administration.
In March, Brooks Brothers announced it would use it's clothing facilities to make personal protective equipment, or PPE, during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has since announced layoffs of 700 workers at its three factories, including in Massachusetts.
Fiorentini says the location of the facility is conveniently located off the highway and he’s convinced the location will be reused and that jobs can be saved.
“This is the last of an era. ... When the pandemic is over, people are going to want to buy American," Fiorentini said. “We will encourage them to rethink this — that 'Made in America' is going to be a great selling point.”