NEW YORK — Fiber maker Unifi Inc. said Tuesday it planned to cut more than 60 percent of the staff of its Kinston, N.C., polyester plant as part of an overall drive to cut the facility’s output and improve its efficiency.

Unifi said it plans to close two of the plant’s four production lines, with one shutting down in December and the second in March. It will also reduce staff to about 250 employees from 740. Altogether, Unifi currently employs about 4,300 people.

Greensboro, N.C.-based Unifi bought the plant from Invista in September, in a $22.5 million deal.

“We’ve been working over the last several months on a plan to exit nonprofitable businesses,” said Bill Lowe, Unifi’s vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, in an interview.

Lowe said the company planned to reduce the volume of commodity polyester the Kinston plant produces.

“The commodity products are more under pressure from the Asian factor than the specialty and differentiated yarns,” he said.

The plant is one of three that had been covered by a “manufacturing alliance” between Unifi and Invista, the former DuPont fiber unit that is now owned by Koch Industries. That deal soured in 2002, when DuPont filed a complaint with an arbiter that Unifi was not living up to its agreement. In June 2003, the arbiter awarded DuPont $16 million in damages.

— Scott Malone

This story first appeared in the October 20, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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