Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, September 29, 1998 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK


Business: The Company File

European job cuts for Levi's

The world's oldest jeans company is facing falling demand

Levi Strauss, the company that invented blue jeans, is to close four plants in Europe with the loss of 1,560 jobs.

The company said it was hit by a shift in demand away from denim products.


[ image: Competition in the jeans market is intense]
Competition in the jeans market is intense
It also cited the falling European youth population and competition from smaller "own label" brands.

Carl von Buskirk, president of Levi Strauss Europe, said: "We regret that these restructuring proposals might lead to plant closures and lay-offs, but these options have to be considered given the current and future business realities."

Levi's also said it would be setting up a new marketing organisation to develop products "that meet the needs of existing and potential customers."

Plants in France and Belgium to close

The four factories that are to close are based in Belgium and France.

The company plans to lay off 931 workers at plants in Gits, Werwik, and Beurne in Belgium, and 530 at a sewing plant in the northern French town of La Bassee. It says these were chosen because they are high cost plants.

There may also be further lay-offs of office workers across Europe.

In total the cuts amount to some 20% of the total European workforce of 7,500.

Levi's also has manufacturing plants in Scotland, Spain, Poland, Hungary and Turkey.

Demise of denim?

Levi Strauss is said to have invented blue jeans during the Californian gold rush in the l850s.

His company became the largest single branded apparel manufacturer, with nearly $7bn in worldwide sales, as demand for more informal clothes spiralled in the last few decades.

But changing fashion, and competition from other blue jeans manufacturers, has already taken its toll, despite the launch of a successful non-denim brand, Dockers.

Last year the company's sales fell by 4%, and it was forced to begin a programme of lay-offs in its North American operations.

It has closed ten factories this year in its home territory, making one-third of its US workforce redundant.

And on Monday it announced the closure of two more plants in Texas, with the loss of nearly 1,700 jobs.

Clothing manufacture is highly labour intensive, and even market leaders like Levi's are finding it more and more difficult to maintain jobs in the industrialised countries.

The Asian crisis has made Third World wages even more competitive.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |


The Company File Contents

Internet Links


Levi Strauss


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Microsoft trial mediator welcomed

Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Christmas turkey strike vote

NatWest bid timetable frozen

France faces EU action over electricity

Pace enters US cable heartland

Mannesmann fights back

Storehouse splits up Mothercare and Bhs

The rapid rise of Vodafone

The hidden shopping bills

Europe's top net stock

Safeway faces cash demand probe

Mitchell intervenes to help shipyard

New factory creates 500 jobs

Drugs company announces 300 jobs

BT speeds internet access

ICL creates 1,000 UK jobs

National Power splits in two

NTT to slash workforce

Scoot links up with Vivendi

New freedom for Post Office

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Airtours profits jump 12%

Freeserve shares surge

LVMH buys UK auction house

Rover - a car firm's troubles