LEGBEAT

Byline:

THE PESO’S SILVER LINING: Declaring that “in turbulence is opportunity,” the chief executive officer of Mexico’s leading legwear maker, Grupo Synkro, sees the Mexican economic crisis as a temporary, if devastating, event that gives Mexican exporters the chance to prove their mettle.
“Many experts have pointed out that the peso devaluation opens the door for Mexico to evolve into an export-driven economy. That might be the best strategy for us. And we may not have seen that had it not been for the peso devaluation,” said Jose Luis Ballesteros, Synkro’s executive vice president and ceo, in a recent speech marking the opening of a trade office established by the state of North Carolina in Mexico City.Last year, Synkro bought North Carolina-based legwear maker Kayser-Roth as part of its global strategy.
In so doing, Synkro tripled its production capacity, thereby becoming the world’s second-largest legwear maker behind giant Sara Lee Corp. The year before, Synkro purchased an Argentinian legwear company, Modecraft. Synkro, with 56 percent of the Mexican market, had 1994 sales of $461.4 million.In his remarks, Ballesteros emphasized the importance of a global point of view for business survival.
“The dinosaurs of the 21st century will be those businesses that intend to stay 100 percent domestic,” he said.

TRIMFIT ENDS OLDHAM DEAL: TrimFit Inc., the sock label, has nixed its licensing agreement with Todd Oldham to produce a line of socks and tights under the designer’s label, according to Tony Longoria, Oldham’s business partner.
Marty Kramer, chairman for TrimFit, declined to comment and referred inquiries to Longoria.
After signing a license in Decem-ber, both parties planned to launch its collection during March market.
In January, Celeste Stein Designs Inc. introduced its licensed Times Seven by Todd Oldham socks and tights. TrimFit’s decision was a reaction to that line, Longoria said. Longoria said he would reconsider several of the licensing agreements that were proposed before the TrimFit contract was signed. However, the company does not plan to finalize a new agreement for at least a few months, he said.

HOSIERY MILLS GET SMART: Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health division of North Carolina’s Department of Labor are out in force these days, and an increasing number of hosiery mills are standing at attention.
Through a new data system that matches workers’ compensation claims to the number of employees at each respective site, OSHNC is targeting sites with the highest rate of injuries. While the campaign is not aimed specifically at hosiery mills, some legwear manufacturers want to be prepared for inspections.
A growing number of mills, including Kathy Hosiery and Ridgeview Hosiery, have hired Angie Ward, safety and health training coordinator for Catawba Valley Community College’s hosiery technology center, to evaluate their sites.
Based in Hickory, Ward started inspecting hosiery manufacturing facilities in December 1993 to insure their compliance with the more than 1,000 regulations issued by the state. In addition to inspecting sites due to complaints, OSHNC routinely visits manufacturing facilities. In the past five years, OSHNC has more than doubled safety inspectors and health inspectors, according to a spokeswoman.
Most mills inspected are not in compliance with OSHNC’s regulations for hazard communications, safeguarding abrasive wheels and fire extinguisher safety, Ward said. Some hosiery manufacturers do not realize they must provide hearing testing, respirator programming and a safety and health committee, she said.

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