Food and consumer products group Sara Lee Corp is axing 775 jobs from its Branded Apparel business as it prepares to turn the division into a publicly held company.

Approximately 285 employees located at Sara Lee Branded Apparel's US headquarters have accepted a voluntary transition program, some of whom will be replaced.

The unit employed approximately 45,000 people worldwide before the job cuts, which will affect approximately 2 per cent of the work force.

Sara Lee announced earlier this year that it plans to spin off Sara Lee Branded Apparel into an independent, publicly held company in 2006.

Branded Apparel said it anticipates adding positions over the next nine months to staff new functions required after the spin-off.

Sara Lee Branded Apparel's chief executive officer Lee Chaden said that the changes accomplished the company's goal of reorganising the business to fit its long-term plans.

Chaden said that the job cuts would also allow the company to "become more cost competitive" and lay the foundations for "a highly successful independent company".

Sara Lee Corporation said in February that it would implement changes aimed at narrowing its focus to food, beverage and household products.

The group's spin off of the Americas/Asia apparel business Sara Lee Branded Apparel is expected to be closed between July and September 2006.

Sara Lee Branded Apparel makes apparel under brand names such as Bali, DIM, Just My Size, Hanes, Hanes Her Way, L'eggs, Playtex, and Wonderbra.