Raven Industries, the US based special apparel manufacturer, announced today that foreign competition from lower cost countries has forced it to close two plants in its sportswear division.Sportswear division sales had slumped by 23 per cent this year, or £7m, the company said.The two factories are located in Salem and Beresford, South Dakota, two of five sportswear-manufacturing facilities. The company said it would close the two sites by the end of November 2000. There will be no material gain or loss resulting from the closings, the company said.Product lines that have been produced in the two plants will be shifted to the other facilities, which are also in South Dakota. Some 80-85 employees will be affected, Raven said, which is about 25 per cent of the sportswear division employees. Raven employs some 1,000 workers nationwide in all divisions."We are hopeful that a new employer will be found to take over these facilities and discussions are underway with several interested companies. Some employment possibilities do exist within other Raven facilities and, if qualified, some employees could transfer," a Raven spokesperson said.Management said it has always been opposed to moving its sewing operations outside of the United States in spite of opportunities created by the removal of trade barriers. The company has manufactured superior performance outerwear for more than 30 years.