YARMOUTH — Blaming a labor shortage, Cuddledown has closed its local call center and moved the operation to Massachusetts.
A company representative said manufacturing operations continue at 14 Yarmouth Junction. The company’s outlet store, at 554 U.S. Route 1 in Freeport, also remains open.
Cuddledown, which began in Yarmouth in 1973 as a family-owned business selling down comforters directly to friends, has expanded it’s product line to high-end bedding, sleepwear, and home decor.
Potpourri Group, a catalog retailer based in North Billerica, Massachusetts, bought Cuddledown in 2013.
Stefanie Swalgen, vice president of human resources for Potpourri, Tuesday said the call center was the company’s smallest, with 26 employees.
“The difficult decision was made … mainly due to labor shortages in the area, to service our needs from our other locations,” Swalgen said.
Maine’s unemployment rate in December, 2017, was 3 percent, down from 3.3 percent in November and 3.8 percent a year ago. The jobless rate in greater Portland was even lower, 1.8 percent, according to the Maine Department of Labor.
Scott LaFlamme, Yarmouth’s director of economic development, said he heard about the closing Monday, Feb. 12, and plans to meet with representatives from Cuddledown next week.
He said he could not confirm the number of employees affected.
“What it seems like is a corporate reorganization,” LaFlamme said. “It sounds like they are going to do everything they can to have (call center) employees relocated.”
He said he was surprised by the closing, but remains “supportive of their continued manufacturing” in town.
Representatives from the Maine Department of Labor on Monday said they were unaware the call center had been closed, and could not respond to questions about how many employees were affected or whether their Southern Maine Rapid Response team would intervene to assist displaced employees in their job search.
According to Swalgen, Potpourri has transferred some of the employees affected by the closing to other jobs within the company and has offered assistance to others with “career transitions.”
She emphasized that Cuddledown’s other operations in Maine remain in business.
“We value our Maine employees and their skills, and intend to continue operating the Cuddledown brand out of our Yarmouth, Maine, location,” Swalgen said. “We have all of Cuddledown’s manufacturing in our Yarmouth location and will continue producing our quality bedding products from this facility. We will continue selling our high-quality Cuddledown products out of our existing Freeport (store).”