What was once the largest furniture manufacturer in the country is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Furniture Brands provides furniture to several stores across the Charlotte area, including Drezel Heritage in Pineville, PJ's Design on Rea Road in Charlotte and the Thomasville Store in Pineville.
Workers are still getting paid, but it’s unclear how long that will last.
Furniture Brands plans to sell all of its lines, except its Lane division, to a private equity group called Oaktree Capital Management out of Los Angeles. The investment firm has already committed $140 million.
The takeover will allow Furniture Brands to continue operating, including being able to pay employees, give them benefits and continue service for customers.
But with declining revenues and a pension plan that's underfunded, a lot could happen during bankruptcy proceedings so employees aren't guaranteed their full retirements.
“I think the pensioners are on the head of the credit list so they have to get something, but I can’t say fully with a 100 percent certainty what they get, and are they going to get everything they put into it -- probably not,” said Ray Allegrezza, editor of Furniture Today magazine.
Furniture Brands could ask for help from a federal pension benefit corporation. It would be a huge request because the company has about $200 million in pension obligations for nearly 20,000 current and former employees, many of whom live in Hickory and the Triad areas.
Experts say filing for bankruptcy is the only way Furniture Brands would be able get help to pay for retirement plans.