By  on April 2, 2010

French firm Lejaby, maker of the Lejaby, Elixir and Rasurel lingerie, corsetryand swimwear brands, said Thursday it wouldclose three of its five factories in France andlay off 30 percent of its work force in a bid to reverse a sharp slide in sales.

Lejaby, which marks its 80th anniversary this year, plans to close plants in Bourg-en-Bresse and Bellegarde in eastern France and Le Teil in southeastern France in the restructuring, which will entail 197 job cuts.

The company, which is based in Rillieux-la-Pape on the outskirts of Lyon, plans to relocate part of its output to the nearby Yssingeaux factory, which is to be transformed into a pilot site dedicated to innovation and manufacturing lines.

The company, which also holds the license for Nina Ricci lingerie, said previous efforts to cut costs had failed to restore the firm's competitive edge at a time when a growing number of consumers are seeking lower-priced options.

At present, 30 percents of products sold by Lejaby are still produced domestically, compared with zero to 5 percent for the competition. Given that the production cost per minute is four times higher in France than in North Africa, this has affected Lejaby's competitiveness," the firm said. 

Lejaby, which exports more than 60 percent of its output, saw net sales drop 23.6 percent in the last two years.

Lingerie sales in France fell 1.5 percent year-over-year in 2009 to 3.03 billion euros, or $4.23 billion at average exchange rates.

The company, which was purchased from Warnaco Group Inc. in 2008 by Austrian firm Palmers Textil AG, plans to preserver know-how by maintaining between 7 and 10 percents of its manufacturing in France.The news comes after Huit Diffusion, owner of the Barbara and Huit lingerie and swimwear brands, filed for the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in France.French fashion brands are due to sign a charter of good conduct with their subcontractors on April 14 in in a bid to preserve local jobs and skills.

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