LEE, Mass. — The shareholders approved the liquidation of Country Curtains on Wednesday.
The vote by the shareholders of the Fitzpatrick Companies follows the recommendations of the board of directors in September calling for the closure. Country Curtains employs 360 people throughout the country, with 175 of those working in the Berkshire County headquarters and distribution center.
"This has been a heartbreaking decision, but in sharing the background and facts with our shareholders, it was clear that the changing retail environment made it increasingly difficult for a small, independent company to compete and meet customer expectations on price, product delivery, and product mix," said CEO Celia Clancy in a prepared statement.
"Though this was a difficult decision for all shareholders — including current employees — by proactively addressing these challenges, we can support an orderly transition for everyone involved."
The decision comes after the board of directors spent more than a year working with an investment banking firm to find a buyer, or improve the company's operations. However, neither were successful.
The decision to close was made in September in an effort to preserve value for the current and former employees in the employee stock ownership plan. Employees own 40 percent of the company through that plan.
The liquidation of assets will begin immediately and a going out of business sale will be launched on Thursday both online and at all 19 retail locations. The sale of the assets, including properties, will also occur. Most of the company's operations are expected to end by the end of the year.
The employees will maintain a role for the next two months and County Curtains is offering severance packages and other transitional support — such as job fairs on site and connecting workers with other jobs in the area.
"I wish you could all know how our board and senior leadership worked for a different ending," Nancy Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
"Still, we had nearly 60 years of splendid success thanks to every one of our employees, but most importantly, to our loyal customers. It has been a real honor to know you and be part of Country Curtains."
The company was formed by former state Sen. John Fitzpatrick and his wife, Jane, in Whitman, two years before they moved to Stockbridge, and focused on signature curtains and styles. It had expanded to 22 retail locations across the nation with the main shop opening in the famed Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge that the couple bought in 1968. The senator died in 2011 and Jane in 2013.
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