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Gun Plant Closes; Connecticut Manufacturing Jobs Lost

Posted on March 31, 2010

Marlin Firearms Co., a 140-year-old company which made a gun that was a favorite of Annie Oakley, is closing its Connecticut plan, a move that will cost Connecticut manufacturing jobs.

According to the AP, workers at the plant in North Haven say they’ve been told all 265 employees will lose their jobs.

Jessica Kallam, a spokeswoman with Madison, N.C.’s Remington Arms Co. Inc., which owns Marlin, said the Connecticut plant will close by June 2011 and employees would be offered severance and help finding jobs. She said Marlin is relocating its manufacturing operations to an undetermined site.

Kallam could not confirm if all employees in Connecticut are losing their jobs.

She read a company statement that says Freedom Group, which owns Remington, must reduce its costs to remain competitive.

“Although long term prospects of the business look positive, economic factors beyond Freedom Group’s control related to increasing costs and pricing pressures within the firearms industry are impacting the entire Freedom Group of companies,” the statement said.

Remington Arms bought Marlin for nearly $42 million in 2007.

Remington began in upstate New York, was once headquartered on a 73-acre campus in Bridgeport but now is based in rural North Carolina. It’s owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which closed the Massachusetts plant in 2008.

Marlin’s Web site says John Marlin opened the company in 1870 in New Haven after having worked at the Colt plant in Hartford during the Civil War. The company says its lever action 22 repeater was a favorite gun of Annie Oakley.

The North Haven plant will close by the middle of 2011. Its workforce had shrunk to 265 workers, even as sales of guns and ammunition soared after President Barack Obama’s election.

“We must reduce our costs to remain price-competitive,” said Roy Gifford, vice president of brands and research for the Freedom Group, Cerberus’ guns division.

According to the Hartford Courant, Remington executives told investors in early 2009 that the profit margin in its firearms division had dropped — even as sales surged after Obama’s election — in part because of Marlin.

“This decrease was primarily due to an unfavorable product mix during the first quarter of ’09, including product sales attributable to the Marlin acquisition,” said Chief Financial Officer Steve Jackson.

Scott Hoffman, owner of Hoffman’s Gun Center in Newington, said he expected Marlin’s lever-action rifles to continue as a brand, just as Harrington and Richardson’s single-shot rifles continued after that company was bought by Marlin.

“Oh, they’ll keep the name and they’ll keep part of the product line, but it won’t be the same,” Hoffman said. “They own the lever-action market since Winchester stopped making theirs.”

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