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Kayser-Roth Invests $28M for Made in America, Wal-Mart Commitment

Kayser-Roth president and ceo Kevin Toomey hopes the initiative will spark new jobs in the U.S.

No Nonsense, a division of Kayser-Roth Corp. will be expanding its Made in America “sock initiative” at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in early 2014.

This story first appeared in the August 28, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A $28 million cash infusion will be implemented by Kayser-Roth to increase production by 30 to 40 percent for the women’s sock program at the world’s largest retailer, as well as bolster technology and machinery at brick-and-mortar manufacturing facilities, said Kevin Toomey, president and chief executive officer of Kayser-Roth.

“We have a chance to do a good thing for our company and we plan on creating a minimum of 100 new jobs. Wal-Mart has a similar interest in trying to do more in the U.S., and the key is they have a real commitment to this program. Wal-Mart challenged us significantly.…We talked for months about making a better sock at a better price in America. That’s the proposition they wanted,” said Toomey.

The No nonsense/Wal-Mart commitment came to fruition last week at a manufacturing summit in Orlando, Fla., hosted by the discounter and the National Retail Federation for 1,500 suppliers, retailers, governors and business leaders.

Toomey said that 90 percent of the 120-year-old company’s products, which include sheer hosiery, tights, leggings and socks, are produced exclusively in the U.S. The company, which has invested more than $100 million in domestic production over the years, operates plants in Dayton, Tenn., and maintains three facilities in North Carolina: Burlington, Lumberton and Asheboro.

Asked how Kayser-Roth can remain competitive in the U.S. market while the lion’s share of commodities such as socks are manufactured at cheaper prices off-shore, Toomey replied: “It might cost a little more, but our pricing in this [Wal-Mart] program and our value pricing in other programs will be competitive.…We’ll be achieving a lot of this through [advanced] technology. We have a very unique set of highly skilled, technical people, and we employ 1,600.”

Suggested retail for the No nonsense sock initiative at Wal-Mart will be $4.97 for six pairs of women’s socks.

“We look at this as the first step. If the women’s program is successful, the [product] possibilities won’t stop there,” said Toomey. “But you have to be committed to it and stay the course, because you are going to hit a lot of obstacles. Hopefully, this will start a movement that will create lots of jobs elsewhere.”

Kayser-Roth’s owned brands include No nonsense, Hue and Burlington. The company also distributes Calvin Klein Hosiery, Simply Vera and Jockey legwear.