An outdoor clothing company based in White River Junction has laid off a dozen employees, and more changes could be coming.
Ibex Outdoor Clothing eliminated the positions last week, though the company still employs 20 people in Vermont, according to a statement from Ibex’s CEO given to the Valley News.
Michael Harrington, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, says the state offered an unemployment and re-employment orientation session to Ibex employees this week. While twelve workers have lost their jobs, Harrington says thirty people attended the state-run session. However, he says it's hard to say if that's an indication of more layoffs to come.
"There are some challenges that the company is facing, and I think they're doing everything they can to weather the storm and make sure they're putting their employees first and making sure that those who are impacted have the services they need," Harrington says.
Harrington says the eliminated positions at Ibex range from entry-level positions to middle management.
The company specializes in high-end wool clothing, and sells its products through outdoor retailers. It also operates three of its own stores in Boston, Seattle and Denver.
Ibex began planning changes to its business model began earlier this year, according to Marc Sherman, president of Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, which sells Ibex products. Over the summer, Sherman says, Ibex told retailers that it would begin selling its products exclusively through its website and its own retail stores in the spring of 2018.
Sherman says he’s hopeful that Ibex will survive, but if it does go out of business, he’s concerned about what will happen to customers looking to make good on Ibex’s lifetime warranty.
“In the short-term, that’s my biggest concern: how we’re going to be able to handle customer demand for warranty processing if they don’t succeed,” Sherman says.
Ibex's CEO, Ted Manning, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview for this story.
Disclosure: Outdoor Gear Exchange is a VPR underwriter.