Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Having nixed plans to sell its women’s hosiery division to the president of that unit, Ridgeview has handed out pink slips to more than 50 employees.
The Newton, N.C., legwear maker has closed the fashion and branded component of its hosiery business. Employees were told Thursday the layoffs would go into effect Friday, said Barry Tartarkin, former president of Ridgeview’s hosiery division, who was also axed.
Ridgeview will continue to produce private label hosiery for women, men and children for the mass market. The 88-year-old company has ceased production of its licensed brands — Ellen Tracy, Dolce Calze and Evan-Picone — but spring orders will be shipped to stores, Tartarkin said.
The hosiery division, which does about $25 million in annual sales, has private label deals with Target, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, The Gap and Liz Claiborne.
Ridgeview said it expected to record a loss for 1999 of between $3.10 and $3.40 per share, or $9.3 million to $10.2 million.
For the past four months, Tartarkin and Ridgeview had been negotiating the sale of the company’s licensed brands. The $8.4 million cash deal was expected to be final by April 10.
“I thought a thorough plan would be put in place to move the business forward,” he said.
Having met Monday with executives at Ellen Tracy and the Jones Apparel Group, which owns the Evan-Picone license, about maintaining those hosiery licenses, Tartarkin said he expected to have an answer within the next few days. An Ellen Tracy spokeswoman said discussions were under way.
Mary Belle, president of licensing for Jones, said, “We are working … on an orderly transition of the Evan-Picone business.”