KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) Lenox Corporation will close its facility, Lenox China Manufacturing, in Kinston due to COVID-19.

According to a letter by Lenox Corporation, the company is in “extreme financial distress” due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On April 14, all affected employees were sent a letter as soon as the company became aware that permanent separations were necessary.

These affected employees will remain on temporary furlough until the conclusion of the COVID- 19 outbreak, and are anticipated to return to employment to complete the wind-down of the manufacturing operating unit.

Tony Sears, city manager for the City of Kinston says the company’s closure is a loss of identity to the area. The facility has been operating for about three decades.

“I think this part of our industrial identity we’re unfortunately losing,” said Sears.

He is positive about a new manufacturing company AirCraft Solution USA at GTP to bring in more than 400 plus jobs to the area.

Officials said the plant closing is expected to be permanent and the entire manufacturing operating unit will shut down.

This will result in an employment loss of 159 employees.

Lenox CEO, Mads Ryder released the following statement:

“It has been a very difficult decision to decide to close the factory. It is closing a chapter in Lenox’s long and illustrious history as an American manufacturer of fine dinnerware products. These achievements were only made possible by the competent, dedicated and proud team of the Kinston factory.”