Munro & Co. Shutters Mount Ida Shoe Plant, 85 Jobs Lost

About 85 workers lost their jobs when Munro & Co. shut down its shoe manufacturing plant in Mount Ida on Friday.

Munro & Co., headquartered at Hot Springs, announced the immediate halt to production in a news release. Cleanup operations will continue through Oct. 25, when the facility will be closed permanently, according to the release.

The company will continue to manufacture shoes at facilities in Clarksville and Hot Springs, and Mount Ida employees who want to apply for jobs at those plants will be given priority. The displaced workers will receive an unspecified severance package based on seniority, and the company said it would work with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Development to assist employees in job placement, training and other programs.

"Since my father built the Mount Ida factory in 1968, our family has been proud to be a part of that community. We could not have asked for a more cooperative, skilled and loyal workforce," President and CEO Bruce Munro said in a press release. He is the son of company founder Don Munro.

The principal brand of Munro & Co. is the Munro American brand of women's footwear.

"We are one of the very few remaining domestic shoe manufacturers in America and we are committed to maintaining as large a domestic presence as is competitively feasible — but that comes with a price," Munro said. "To remain a viable company and retain our reputation for manufacturing very high quality footwear known for exceptional fit, it's apparent that the production needs don't support our current production capacity.

Despite magnificent cooperation from a skilled and loyal workforce, it has become increasingly difficult to compete with imports from low labor cost countries in an extremely competitive footwear market."

The company also described itself as an importer of footwear. Once one of the largest private companies in the state, Munro & Co. has seen its annual revenue slip from about $100 million a decade ago to about $50 million in each of the past two years.