Hanesbrands, the apparel business spun off from Sara Lee in September, is to shut a high-cost distribution centre in Florida and consolidate two other distribution centres in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, into a nearby third facility.

The company will cut the amount of space dedicated to men's underwear, women's pants and sleepwear by more than 400,000 sq ft.

The closure of the centre in Weston, Florida, will lead to 79 job losses. However, Hanesbrands said no jobs will be lost at the consolidated facilities.
"We are moving quickly to drive improvements throughout our global supply chain," said Gerald Evans, Hanesbrands executive VP and chief global supply chain officer.

"We want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our distribution operations by operating fewer and larger distribution centres that are strategically located to support our long-term vision for a supply chain that significantly spans both the Eastern and Western hemispheres."

The company expects charges of about US$8m related to the closure, which is due to happen by March next year.

Hanesbrands' latest announcement follows last month's revelation that it will shut three factories in the US and Mexico at the cost of 2,185 jobs. Earlier this year 510 jobs were axed as US operations were downsized.

The company will move distribution of men's underwear and sleepwear products handled in Weston to the company's existing distribution centres in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Rural Hall, North Carolina.

The company's 446,000-sq-ft Almondridge Road distribution centre in Rural Hall will be upgraded in order to assume distribution operations that are performed at two Winston-Salem centres, as well as the added product from the Weston centre.

Operations at the 90,000-sq-ft Empire Drive distribution centre and the 240,000-sq-ft West Point Boulevard distribution centre, both in Winston-Salem, will be relocated by April 2007 to the Almondridge Road distribution centre, approximately 20 miles north of the Winston-Salem centres.

The company's approximately 140 employees at the Empire Drive and West Point centres will be transferred to the Almondridge Road centre.

Hanesbrands specialises in apparel essentials. The company's brands, which hold either number one or number two sales market positions in their US product categories, include Hanes, Champion, Playtex, Bali, Just My Size, Barely There and Wonderbra.