PARIS — Sofama, a French leather goods manufacturer which supplies Louis Vuitton, has offered to buy ailing lingerie brand Lejaby’s last manufacturing facility in France in a move likely to save dozens of jobs threatened by the factory’s planned closure.

This story first appeared in the February 2, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury group which owns Louis Vuitton, said it had pledged to place a long-term order with Sofama if its offer is accepted, in a bid to safeguard employment at the plant in Yssingeaux. The plant has become a focus for political debate in the run-up to French presidential elections in April.

LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault noted that his group created scores of jobs for craftsmen in France each year and exported French goods worldwide. “We are proud today to facilitate the preservation of jobs at the Yssingeaux site and thereby contribute to the battle for employment in France,” he stated.

Sofama’s plan would require staffers specialized in making lingerie to switch to textiles and leather goods manufacturing. No further details of the bid were made public.

After Lejaby was placed in liquidation on Dec. 22, a commercial court in Lyon last month approved a takeover of the company by a consortium led by former La Perla ceo Alain Prost. Its plan involved the closure of the Yssingeaux facility and 93 layoffs there, with production outsourced to Tunisia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to run for reelection, pledged in a televised address on Sunday that he would seek a solution for the Lejaby staffers. Politicians from all parties have vowed to fight globalization and boost French manufacturing, popularly known here as “le made in France.”

Lejaby SAS had revenue of 52 million euros, or $66 million, in the 12 months ended Jan. 31, 2011, down 9 percent compared with the prior-year period. The company manufactures the Lejaby, Elixir and Rasurel lingerie, corsetry and swimwear brands, and also holds the Nina Ricci and Christian Lacroix lingerie licenses.

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