Fred’s Inc. has added stores in White Oak and Hallsville to the list slated for closure as the struggling discount retailer continues restructuring its business. The two were among 104 stores the company said Thursday it will close by the end of June.

They join Fred’s stores in Gladewater, Kilgore, Tyler and Whitehouse, which were on a previously announced list of 159 “underperforming and unprofitable” stores set to close by the end of this month.

Liquidation sales are underway at all the stores.

“These additional store closures are a difficult, but necessary step in the continued restructuring of Fred’s,” said CEO Joseph Anto.

The latest round of closures, in 13 states in the Southeast, will leave about 290 stores in the chain.

The stores at 605 E. U.S. 80 in White Oak and 1000 W. Main St. are now slated to shutter. In April, Fred’s said it was closing stores at 601 Broadway Ave. in Gladewater, 605 N. Henderson Blvd. in Kilgore, 1803 E. Gentry Parkway in Tyler, and 1123 Texas 110 N. in Whitehouse.

Fred’s said the decision of which stores to close was made after evaluating historical and recent store performance and the timing of lease expirations, among other factors.

In 2017, a deal for Fred’s to acquire hundreds of Rite Aid or Walgreens stores collapsed when a mega-merger between the pharmacy giants deteriorated.

Months later, Fred’s said it was considering “strategic transactions and alternatives for certain non-core assets,” including real estate and specialty pharmacy business.

Marshall CEO on trade

Mark A. Trexler, CEO of Marshall’s Master Woodcraft Cabinetry, was recently included in an article in Forbes magazine about the topic of tariffs and the struggle to beat China.

“I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and let another industry go under and be destroyed by the Chinese,” Trexler said.

The North Carolina native said he has watched as the Chinese market cut hundreds of jobs in that state, saying the losses also affected the textile and women’s hosiery industries.

Trexler is a founding member of the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance, which he said has filed suit against the Chinese for dumping. The case involves two filings. The alliance is asking for tariffs of more than 200 percent against the Chinese.

“Trump can make a deal, but he could change it two weeks later. This deal will last for five years,” Trexler said about the lawsuit by the association.

In Marshall and Jefferson, Trexler said about 900 jobs are at stake, and his own business has declined by 7 percent in the past two years.

Master Woodcraft Cabinetry owns manufacturing facilities in Marshall and Jefferson and includes a total of more than 600,000 square feet of manufacturing space and more than 300,000 square feet of warehouse space.

In 2017, China shipped $13.6 billion worth of furniture to the U.S. market. Vietnam shipped $3.8 billion, and there was about $1.4 billion from Malaysia and Indonesia combined.

Other countries such as Mexico and Taiwan shipped another $1.5 billion to the U.S. In 2017, according to In the U.S., the household furniture manufacturing business is a $26 billion industry, according to a report from .

Terminal damaged

Kilgore-based Martin Midstream Partners said its Neches Terminal in Beaumont was damaged by severe weather two weeks ago, curtailing sulfur shipments.

The early morning May 10 storm caused structural damage to the terminal’s mobile ship-loader and crane. There were no injuries to plant personnel or marine crews, Martin said. But until the damage is repaired, the terminal will be unable to load prilled sulfur onto oceangoing vessels.

No other structures were impacted, and all other terminalling operations were fully functional. No estimate was available for time or cost of repairs.

— Business Beat appears Sunday. If you have items for the column, email to; mail to Business Section, Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606; or call (903) 237-7744.