MORE SARA LEE LAYOFFS: Sara Lee Intimate Apparel Products, a division of Sara Lee Corp., will lay off approximately 40 of its 320 employees at its Woolwine lingerie factory near Stuart, Va., published reports said. The Chicago-based consumables giant said the layoffs are a result of excess capacity and sluggish sales at retail. In 2001, the company eliminated approximately 350 positions when it closed two facilities in Gordonsville, Va., and last Tuesday, Sara Lee Intimates said it will eliminate approximately 1,200 jobs in Puerto Rico at three plants that manufacture Playtex innerwear.
HIGH LIFE: Bluefly Inc. said its living expenses ran on the high side, compounding a fourth-quarter loss amounting to $1.7 million, or 22 cents a diluted share, compared with a loss of $1.4 million, or 22 cents, in the corresponding year-ago period. The company also experienced a higher operating loss from continuing operations, $1.6 million, a 17.9 percent increase over the $1.3 million in last year’s fourth quarter. Net sales during the quarter strengthened 24.7 percent to $9.9 million over year-ago sales of $7.9 million and gross margin increased 20.8 percent to $3.1 million from $2.5 million. Selling, marketing and fulfillment expenses rose 18 percent to $3.5 million and general and administrative expenses rose 25 percent to $1.2 million. Some of the increases were attributed to the relaunch of Bluefly’s Web site and higher customer service and technical expenses incurred when the site ran into technical problems. “We are in the awkward teen phase,” Ken Seiff, chief executive officer, told WWD in a telephone interview. “We are past the infant stage and are pretty close to surviving on our own, but we are not there yet.” In 2002, its losses narrowed to $6.5 million, or $2.44, when compared with losses of $25 million in 2001. Sales rose 33.4 percent to $30.6 million over year-ago sales of $23 million and gross margin rose 43.4 percent to $10 million from $7 million.