CHICAGO -- Sara Lee Corp. said Wednesday it is closing three fleece sewing plants in its Champion Products and Sara Lee Knit Products divisions, as part of the major restructuring of its personal products businesses an-nounced June 6.

Champion plants in Norwich, N.Y., and Slocomb, Ala., will be closed by Nov. 1, eliminating 530 jobs. A Knit Products plant in Midway, Ga., will be closed July 1, terminating 245 jobs.

Another 250 jobs will be eliminated from other Champion facilities, including the head office in Winston-Salem.

"We have recently reduced fleece textile production to deal with an overcapacity issue, and now we have to reduce our sewing capacity to align the two operations," said Jack Ward, senior vice president of Sara Lee and the head of Sara Lee Knit Products.

As reported, Sara Lee earlier announced plans to close nine other plants and distribution centers, mainly in the Southeast, and the termination of its private label underwear and activewear business, moves that will eliminate about 3,000 jobs in hosiery and knit products.

In this restructuring, aimed to cut production in the firm's lagging U.S. and European hosiery and fleecewear business, Sara Lee will cut overall 8,000 to 9,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its total work force.

The company is also taking an after-tax charge of $495 million in its fourth quarter ending July 2 for the restructuring.

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