The managing director of leading French babieswear and childrenswear producer, Petit Bateau, has left the company following a row over plans to manufacture some its apparel in Tunisia in north Africa.

The Breton-based apparel firm has replaced Vincent Huguenin with Stephane Bianchi, chief executive of its parent company, cosmetics group Yves Rocher. Reports say Huguenin left the company because of "major differences of opinion over the implementation of the strategy of outsourcing from Tunisia".

Petit Bateau was founded almost 110 years ago and now employs more than 1,000 workers. In 2001, it posted a 44 per cent climb in net profits to 17.1 million euros on sales of 209 million euros.