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Author Topic:   Reed & Barton -- Another One Bites the Dust
chicagosilver

Posts: 227
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 02-23-2015 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chicagosilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Silver City no more? Taunton's Reed & Barton files for bankruptcy

According to United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston), Bankruptcy Petition No. 15-10534, the Silver City's landmark silversmith may be closing its Taunton doors forever.

Charles Winokoor
Taunton Gazette Staff Reporter
Posted Feb. 21, 2015 at 12:01 AM

TAUNTON — Reed & Barton, the last and oldest silversmith company in a city still known as the Silver City, will cease all operations in Taunton no later than June.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Riddle confirmed Thursday that the 191-year-old family business had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will close its West Britannia Street facility in late May or early June.

Riddle blamed costly pension liabilities, ranging from $9.6 million to possibly $18 million, for sealing the fate of the historic business — which since 1824 has been operating in Taunton’s Whittenton neighborhood adjacent the Mill River.

“It absolutely killed us — for years it just drained the company of cash,” Riddle said of the pension costs.

“We hung on as long as we could,” he added, “But it’s been all-consuming for the past year and half.”

He said Reed & Barton now employs about 80 people, most of whom are office and management workers. He also said he doesn’t anticipate more than about five will likely be retained once a pending sales deal has been finalized.

Riddle, who was hired as CEO in 2001, said the company has a $15 million sales agreement with former competitor Lifetime Brands.

He said the Garden City, New York-based Lifetime, whose 30 or so brands include KitchenAid and Farberware, has offered $10 million in cash and a $5 million promissory note to buy Reed & Barton’s assets — including its brand name — but none of its real estate holdings.

“They won’t keep the buildings or buy the real estate,” Riddle, 58, said.

In addition to 27 attached and separate buildings on the Taunton site, those holdings include an Elm Street parcel in Norton, where up until it closed in 2007 — at which time 70 workers were laid off — Reed & Barton’s Eureka division manufactured jewelry boxes, flatware chests, humidors and other gift items.

Riddle said there is a 90-day bidding period before Lifetime Brands can be assured of a deal.

He said besides inventory assets being stored in the Taunton warehouse, the deal includes temporary use of two leased showroom sites, one in Atlanta and the other in Manhattan.

Chief financial officer Chuck Daly said the pension liability became something that “we could never get our arms around — it was a big cash drain.”

Daly said the final pension-cost estimate will depend on end-of-the-year, financial actuary reports.

He said nearly all of the nearly 900 former employees collecting pensions will not be affected. The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which insures defined-benefit pension plans, will eventually fill any funding gap.

Daly said generations of heirs to the Reed family, through “multiple trusts,” own the company and its real estate holdings. He said a final decision pertaining to real estate ultimately will be decided by an unsecured creditors’ committee.

Both Daly and Riddle said the company was further staggered in 2013 and 2014 when its two major customers, Costco and QVC, recorded poor sales numbers.

Reed & Barton was established in 1824 after Henry Reed and Charles Barton took over and revived a business formerly owned by Isaac Babbitt.

At its manufacturing zenith, Reed & Barton employed hundreds of people during and after World War Two.

It also operated retail stores, including a factory retail store at the Taunton site.

But with overseas competition and declining profits, the company during the past decade was forced to streamline operations by outsourcing manufacturing mainly to China, but also to Poland, Slovakia and Italy.

It also, in 2008, eliminated 20 jobs in Taunton and closed seven of its nine retail stores. The Taunton store is still open, but a store in Kittery, Maine, closed in January.

Tony Barreiro, a maintenance worker at Reed & Barton for 15 years, blamed the company for outsourcing, which he says led to a compromise in quality of goods.

“The junk killed this company. I guess it’s come back to haunt them,” Barreiro, 55, said.

But Riddle strongly disagrees, saying that he and others always made certain that foreign manufacturers always maintained an extremely high level of workmanship.

“We absolutely used the best factories in the world, which is why Lifetime was so interested in buying us,” Riddle said.

Wally Brandon, 65, said he’s worked as a security officer at Reed & Barton for 48 years.

“It’s just like when you lose someone,” he said of the bad news. “It’s going to take time to sink in.”

Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr., in a statement, called news of the bankruptcy filing “heartbreaking.”

Hoye, who worked there during the summers while attending college, said the company, according to city assessor’s records, does not owe any real estate taxes for its 15.7-acre site.

Riddle said the trouble the company has faced is no reflection on its workforce.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the great people who ever worked here,” he said, adding that the Reed ownership family has shown itself to have been “wonderful and supportive.”

During the last years of its operation, B&J Manufacturing in Myles Standish Industrial Park was the only regional company to provide Reed & Barton with goods.

B&J filled orders for sterling bowls and silver-plated gift pieces.

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Polly

Posts: 1843
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2015 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sad news.

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dragonflywink

Posts: 953
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 02-24-2015 06:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad, the last of their kind - would be nice if their archives could be salvaged before Lifetime steps in...

~Cheryl

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 03-06-2015 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Lifetime Brands Agrees to Acquire Reed & Barton and Amends Credit Agreement

Published: Feb 23, 2015 4:03 p.m. ET
Company Will Report Fourth Quarter 2014 Financial Results on Thursday, March 12, 2015

GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Feb 23, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Lifetime Brands, Inc. (nasdaqgs:LCUT), a leading global provider of branded kitchenware, tableware and other products used in the home, announced today that it has entered into an asset purchase agreement to acquire the operating assets and to assume certain liabilities of Reed and Barton Corporation, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. The agreement provides that Lifetime will purchase the assets pursuant to Section 363 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The transaction is subject to a number of conditions, including completion of an auction process and bankruptcy court approval.

Jeffrey Siegel, Lifetime’s Chairman and CEO, commented, “Reed & Barton’s tableware business in flatware, crystal and silverware fits nicely with our own and also will immediately establish for us a strong position in the giftware category.” ......


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chase33

Posts: 360
Registered: Feb 2008

iconnumber posted 05-29-2015 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chase33     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well it looks like Lenox stepped in at the last minute and bought Reed & Barton.

Since Lenox had previously owned other silver companies (Gorham, Kirk-Stieff)and then sold them, I wonder how this is going to work out?

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