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Harbor Footwear to close LI headquarters, lay off 53 employees

The company, almost 50 years old, will shutter its Port Washington operation by July 31, according to a state regulatory filing.

Jason Lazar, a third-generation family member who helps

Jason Lazar, a third-generation family member who helps run Harbor Footwear, is seen at the company warehouse in Port Washington in May 2013.  Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A nearly 50-year-old footwear company will close its Port Washington headquarters, laying off all 53 local employees, a state regulatory filing shows.

Harbor Footwear Group is set to close its Long Island location for economic reasons on July 31, the company said in a WARN notice posted online this week. The notice did not indicate whether the company plans to shut down operations completely or move to a new location.

Company executives did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.

Harbor Footwear Group was founded in 1969 by Murray and Evelyn Friedman, specializing in that era’s colorful, high-fashion styles such as platform shoes. It evolved to include the Giorgio Brutini line of men’s dress shoes and a sporty, urban line called GBX. Harbor also has manufactured shoes for iconic brands IZOD and G.H. Bass.

In 2013, Jason Lazar, grandson of the company's founders and Harbor's chief operating officer, told Newsday that the company got its start importing shoes and expanded to hire its own design staff and manufacture shoes for major chains such as Sears and J.C. Penney. 

Lazar said his grandfather kept such a watchful eye on trends that when Lazar went off to college, his grandfather instructed him to report back on what the kids were wearing.

"You have to keep changing with the times," Lazar said. "With the fashion business, you're always looking for what's a hit."

Harbor’s revenue and its local staff have seen reductions over the past 15 years or so. In 2013, the company said it had 190 employees, including 100 on Long Island. It reported revenue of more than $100 million.

Ten years earlier, the company said its Long Island staff included 145 workers, and it reported revenue of $160 million.

The WARN notice was posted last week. Under New York's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, companies with at least 50 full-time employees must file a 90-day notice of a mass layoff or closing.

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