HanesBrands, based in Winston-salem, North Carolina, will ramp down production at Mount Airy over the next several months

HanesBrands, based in Winston-salem, North Carolina, will ramp down production at Mount Airy over the next several months

Underwear and activewear maker HanesBrands is to close its sock manufacturing plant in Mount Airy, North Carolina, as part of wider moves to realign its global sock production in Central America and Asia.

The Winston-salem, North Carolina based company, whose brands include Hanes, Champion, Maidenform, Bali, Playtex, Alternative, L'eggs, and JMS/Just My Size, confirmed the move to just-style on Friday (12 April), adding its Mount Airy production would ramp down over the next several months.

"We have done all that we can over the years to keep our Mount Airy facility competitive in the global sock manufacturing industry," explains Mike Faircloth, president of global supply chain, information technology and e-commerce for Hanes.

"Unfortunately, the higher costs of raw materials, including polyester, in the Western Hemisphere, necessitate that we realign our global sock manufacturing."

To remain cost competitive, the company will begin purchasing some of the socks it makes in its El Salvador sock plant in Central America from large-scale specialty producers in Asia. The Mount Airy production will move to the available capacity in El Salvador.

HanesBrands says it will begin to wind down its Mount Airy manufacturing from next month, and is expected to substantially end all production by October. The Mount Airy facility, which makes Hanes and Champion socks, has around 220 employees.

Workers will be offered jobs within the company's distribution centre operations 30 miles south of Mount Airy in the Northridge Industrial Park in Rural Hall. The company also operates distribution centers in Winston-Salem and High Point, as well as elsewhere in North Carolina and Virginia.

In its last financial year, the company booked a 5.1% rise in net sales to US$6.8bn, while net income soared to US$553m from US$61.9m a year earlier.

"Our diversification strategy is working," said HanesBrands CEO Gerald W Evans Jr at the time. He noted that global sales of the Champion brand were up, as well as demand for innerwear from Australia, Asia and the Americas.

The company's Innovate-to-Elevate strategy is at the heart of its business model, leveraging its low-cost, world-class global supply chain, and consumer-centric innovation platforms across brands.

By owning the majority of its supply chain, HanesBrands enjoys a competitive advantage in terms of cost, scale, flexibility and compliance with best-in-class management practices. It has fabric production, cut parts and sewing across hemispheres, in the Americas/Caribbean (Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras: underwear, intimates, socks, hosiery and activewear); Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam: underwear and intimates;  Europe/Africa (France, Germany, South Africa and Romania: socks, hosiery and intimates); and the United States (socks, hosiery and specialty fabrics).

A separate article on just-style today (15 April) looks at how El Salvador is gearing up as a niche regional supplier of lingerie and more basic underwear for customers such as HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom and Intradeco.