Havertys preps to reopen stores this week, but eliminates 1,200 jobs

Havertys, the Atlanta-based furniture store chain, announced it is reopening stores shuttered as the pandemic grew. But it also said it is eliminating jobs of 1,200 people, more than a third of its workforce. MATT KEMPNER / AJC

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Havertys, the Atlanta-based furniture store chain, announced it is reopening stores shuttered as the pandemic grew. But it also said it is eliminating jobs of 1,200 people, more than a third of its workforce. MATT KEMPNER / AJC

Atlanta-based Havertys announced Monday that it will reopen most of its 120 furniture stores later this week, but it will have a far smaller staff.

The 135-year-old company is eliminating the jobs of 1,200 workers it had previously furloughed temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic. The cuts affect just over a third of Havertys' workforce.

Meanwhile, furloughs will be extended another month for 730 other Havertys workers, who won’t be paid but will have health insurance partially covered by the company.

The retail chain reported in a press release that 108 stores will open Friday, with the remainder coming back on line by mid-May across its 16-state territory. The stores will have shorter hours and limited staffing. Distribution and delivery operations also are restarting.

Havertys had put itself in hibernation as coronavirus concerns grew, closing its stores March 19 and halting deliveries three days later. Idled workers continued to be paid at first. But then the business began unpaid furloughs of more than 3,000 of its nearly 3,500 employees.

“We are navigating through uncharted waters of a health and economic disaster,” Chief Executive Officer Clarence Smith said in Monday’s press release.

ExploreSmith is a great grandson of Havertys’ founder.

The company had largely relied on sales from its brick-and-mortar stores before the pandemic. While its revenue was down much of last year, it had been profitable, with essentially no debt. But, like many other local companies, Havertys borrowed money as the coronavirus' fallout spread.