NEOSHO, Mo. — La-Z-Boy is hiring up to 125 workers for its plant in Neosho.
The employer — one of the largest in the area, with 815 workers currently — announced the hiring plans following an uptick in sales.
"Since furniture retailers reopened and our plants restarted operations, we are experiencing stronger-than-expected demand and have been ramping up production to meet that demand and service our customers," said Bill Snow, vice president of La-Z-Boy Residential, in a recent email to the Globe. "As we increase production, we are looking to hire approximately 125 additional plant workers.
"It’s too early to tell for certain what’s driving demand — whether it’s pent-up demand given the long period of time retailers were closed, or sector rotation with consumers shifting discretionary spending to their homes in an environment of no travel and limits on other leisure-related activity, or probably a bit of both," Snow said.
Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president and CEO, also noted the increase in sales on Aug. 18 while announcing first-quarter numbers for the corporation.
"Our first quarter began in May with most of our customers still closed due to COVID-19. However, as retailers reopened, written orders rapidly accelerated in June and July, with consumers spending a higher percentage of discretionary dollars on home furnishings. During the quarter, we reopened all operations across our retail, distribution and manufacturing businesses," Darrow said in a statement. "After temporary shutdowns for most of April, our plants have increased production weekly to meet demand, and are operating at about 90% of prior-year levels."
For the entire La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries network, the company reported that same-store sales increased 14.8% for the fiscal 2021 first quarter compared to the previous year. The company reported a decline in May of 13% due to store closures, but said that was more than offset by increases of 30% in June and 32% in July.
La-Z-Boy Neosho also has been a beneficiary of the Michigan-based company's decision to close other operations elsewhere in the country.
In June, La-Z-Boy announced the closure of an upholstery manufacturing plant in Mississippi, which employed 300 workers, and said it would transfer that production to other plants, including Neosho and Siloam Springs, Arkansas. That followed a similar announcement in 2019 when the company closed its upholstery plant in Redlands, California, which employed 350 people, and transferred that production to Neosho and Siloam Springs.
La-Z-Boy in March temporarily closed all of its U.S. manufacturing operations and regional distribution centers, as well as its galleries, because of the pandemic. It resumed production in May.