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VF to Close 3 Plants, Eliminate 1,801 Jobs

U.S.apparel manufacturing will suffer another blow this fall when VF Corp. closes three jeans plants in North Carolina and Oklahoma, cutting 1,801 jobs.

NEW YORK — Domestic apparel manufacturing will suffer another blow this fall when VF Corp. closes three jeanswear plants in North Carolina and Oklahoma, at a cost of 1,801 jobs.

The Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel maker was one of the last of the industry giants to begin moving the bulk of its production from company-owned factories in the U.S. to contractors abroad. But in recent years, VF has instituted a series of plant closings that has reduced its payroll by about 16,000 workers and led to the shuttering of almost 40 factories.

On Monday, the company said its VF Jeanswear division would close one factory each in Ada and Seminole, Okla., and cut its workforce at another Seminole factory at a cost of 909 jobs in that state. In addition, VF Jeanswear plans to shutter a Windsor, N.C., plant and cut back its workforce at a second factory there at a total cost of 892 jobs. Following these cuts, VF’s U.S. workforce will stand at 16,500.

In a statement, Sam Tucker, vice president of human resources, said, “This year has been a very challenging one for the apparel industry, as well as for our company. In order to remain competitive and profitable, we found it necessary to make these extremely difficult decisions.”

Tucker was unavailable for further comment.

A spokeswoman was unable to provide current head count figures for the company, but the cuts are believed to represent about 8 percent of VF’s total staff. At the beginning of the century, VF still manufactured more than 25 percent of the goods it sold in company-owned plants. The latest round of cuts will likely reduce that number to below 10 percent.

For the first six months of the year, VF posted net income of $167 million on sales of $2.38 billion. That compared with a $359.4 million net loss a year earlier on sales of $2.37 billion. The prior-year figures included a $527.3 million accounting write-down. The company also signed a $585.6 million deal this year to buy Nautica Enterprises and executives have indicated VF remains on the acquisition trail.

VF started its aggressive move out of manufacturing in November 2001 by closing more than 30 domestic factories. At the time, chairman and chief executive Mackey McDonald said, “It’s prudent to permanently reduce our capacity, to minimize or eliminate the potential for downtime at plants. We’re in more of a position to control our destiny as a marketing company.”

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.