Playtex bra manufacturer and clothing giant Sara Lee Corp on Tuesday said it expects apparel sales to slip one per cent in 2002 due to its hosiery division and lower sales because of divestitures.

The forecast was made by Cary McMillan, chief executive of Sara Lee's branded apparel business, who added he sees combined sales growth of three per cent in its core apparel businesses.

"Hosiery is going to cost us about 1.5 points of growth from the top line," he said. "We're also going to feel the wrap-around effect of the businesses we exited."

In fiscal 2001, sales of Sara Lee apparel climbed 2.2 per cent to $7.7 billion, with 2002's results out next month. In fiscal 2003, it sees sales of intimate brands sales including Wonderbra and Playtex rising up to five per cent from fiscal 2002.

It added that sales of US underwear, sold under the Hanes label, are seen up around three per cent from 2002, and sales of US socks up at least five per cent. Activewear sales are seen as being flat.

Sara Lee also plans to expand its plus-size Just My Size intimates brand and is eyeing sales of $500 million by 2006 compared to current sales of around $300m.