NEW YORK — As sheer hosiery continues to struggle, Sara Lee Corp. and Unifi Inc. both announced job cuts this week in their divisions related to this category.

Sara Lee Hosiery, which owns Hanes, L’eggs and Just My Size brands, said last week it will cut about 175 jobs in its plants in Winston-Salem and Rockingham, N.C., over the next several weeks. The jobs include manufacturing, distribution and finance positions, said a Sara Lee spokeswoman.

"As more women favor casual lifestyle choices, our capacity exceeds our needs, and to remain competitive, adjustments are required," said Howard Upchurch, president of Sara Lee Hosiery, in a statement.

Unifi, meanwhile, said it will consolidate its nylon plant in Mayodan, N.C., with a nearby facility in Madison, N.C. The plant makes fine-denier covered nylon, which is used primarily in sheer hosiery. The closure will eliminate about 65 jobs — or about 3.4 percent of the company’s workforce. In addition, equipment and 37 workers will be moved to the Madison plant.

Sheer hosiery has faced sales snags in recent years, due in large part to the growth of casual and the movement away from dressier attire.

"The continued reduction in consumer demand for sheer hosiery, coupled with increases in imported yarn, requires us to take measures to improve the efficiency and cost structure for fine-denier covered nylon," said Unifi senior vice president Mike Delaney in a statement. The company said annual shipments of sheer hosiery to retailers and distributors in the U.S. in 2001 were 60.4 million dozen pairs — or about 725 million pairs — a decline of about 540 million pairs from 1998 levels.

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