Mattress Firm Inc. is seeking additional tax breaks from Nassau County in return for retaining what's left of its workforce at an office and warehouse in Hicksville, officials said.
The retailer, in the midst of a bankruptcy reorganization, hopes to keep 175 of the 183 people who work at 1000 South Oyster Bay Rd. The facility had been home to more than 600 jobs when it served as the headquarters of Sleepy’s Inc.
Texas-based Mattress Firm bought Sleepy’s in 2015 for $780 million and assumed the remainder of a 10-year deal that reduces property taxes on the 450,000-square-foot building, which is owned by local developer Steel Equities Inc. The deal expires Jan. 1.
“The track record has been a reduction in employment,” Daniel P. Deegan, an attorney representing Mattress Firm, told the county’s Industrial Development Agency last week. “We are really trying to stabilize this [local employment level]. I would call this a job retention project.”
He said about half of the Mattress Firm payroll in Hicksville is in customer service, information technology and real estate — positions that are “precarious” because they could be done elsewhere, he said. The other half of the workforce is in warehousing and logistics, which is needed to support the company’s local sales.
Deegan said that because of job cuts in Hicksville, Mattress Firm last year repaid $240,000 in tax benefits it had received from the IDA.
Last week the IDA agreed to negotiate with Mattress Firm on its request for another 10 years of property-tax reductions. In return the company would promise to make $500,000 in improvements and preserve jobs.
The company also has asked for a sales tax exemption of up to $43,125 on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and supplies for the improvements.
Deegan said South Nassau Communities Hospital may add to its back-office operation in the Hicksville facility, forcing Mattress Firm to move the office jobs to another location in the county.
IDA board chairman Richard Kessel said the agency is concerned about the former Sleepy’s employees. “Without the IDA’s intervention, it’s possible that a number of these people might lose their jobs,” he said last week.
Board member Anthony Simon said the IDA will hold Mattress Firm accountable to keep its employment promises.
The company’s lawyer responded, “This is a commitment they feel comfortable in making.”
Since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors last month, Mattress Firm has announced plans to close its stores in Plainview and Oceanside.