NEW YORK — Nautica Enterprises is calling its blue jeans baby home.

Looking to leverage its existing infrastructure, Nautica will move Earl Jean Inc.’s headquarters to New York from Los Angeles by the end of summer 2003.

Nautica expects to save $1 million a year in expenses, adding 2 cents a diluted share to the company’s earnings on an annual basis beginning in fiscal 2005. Savings will be offset in its next fiscal year by nonrecurring costs associated with the wind-down of headquarter operations in Los Angeles, although Nautica declined to quantify them Monday.

Despite the move, Nautica said it remains comfortable with guidance disclosed Jan. 10 of earnings per share of between $1 and $1.10 for fiscal 2004. Nautica’s 2003 fiscal year will end on March 1.

The move will affect about 55 employees. According to Bonnie Takhar, president of Earl Jean, the firm is in the process of determining which positions will move to the New York office. Negotiations for a site below 25th Street are in progress. Nautica’s offices are at 40 West 57th Street here. Earl Jean will still have a presence on the West Coast, as its showroom in Los Angeles will remain open.

Harvey Sanders, Nautica’s chief executive officer, said one advantage of the move, in addition to closer communication, is that customer service and shipping functions now handled by a third party will be integrated into Nautica’s Martinsville, Va., distribution center.

Nautica completed its acquisition of Earl Jean in May 2001.

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