NEW YORK — Tommy Hilfiger Corp. continues to clean house.

The $1.8 billion apparel firm cut about 135 U.S. employees Thursday as part of its initiative to align the cost structure of its U.S. wholesale business.

Although Hilfiger is experiencing growth in its retail and international wholesale segments, its U.S. wholesale segment remains challenged. U.S. wholesale revenue for the first quarter dropped 29.4 percent to $115 million from $163 million in the year-ago period. The company has said it intends to improve its financial performance through product initiatives and cost reductions.

Last January, Hilfiger restructured its design and production operations and its women’s, men’s and children’s divisions, and closed its young men’s division, resulting in a cost savings of $40 million and the loss of 200 positions.

Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday, but said in a statement the new round of staff reductions was necessary to “better align its cost structure with the size of its business and its financial goals.” The financial impact of the job cuts on the current fiscal year is expected to be neutral, according to the company.

J.P. Morgan Chase has been retained by Hilfiger to try and sell the company. Among those eyeing it is Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is considering a bid.

Last week, the company released preliminary financial results due to an accounting restatement. For the fiscal year 2005 that ended in March, the company said preliminary net income was $86 million, or 93 cents a diluted share. It added that it expects to reduce fiscal year 2004 net income to $131 million from $132 million and increase the net loss for fiscal year 2003 to $518 million from $513 million.

This story first appeared in the October 7, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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