South Africa's largest clothing and textile maker, Seardel Investment Corporation Limited, is to close the unprofitable spinning, weaving, finishing and denim divisions of its Frame Textile unit with the loss of 1,400 jobs.

The company says it has taken the decision to restructure its business - including shuttering the region's largest producer of cotton spun yarns - after struggling to compete with low-cost imports from China and subsidised state-owned firms. 

It also said it had been hit by massive hikes in input costs, such as electricity.

Seardel hopes the turnaround plan will return it to profitability, after swinging to a loss of ZAR183m (US$19.9m) in the six months to 31 December, from a profit of ZAR4m a year earlier.

The affected Frame Textile divisions, which are set to close in early July, convert raw cotton into yarn, the majority of which is then converted into woven fabric for use in garment manufacture and home furnishings.

Among the units set to go, Frame Spinning is the largest producer of cotton spun yarns in the Southern African region, comprising state of the art spinning mills, yielding in excess of 25,900 tons of short staple yarn per year.

Frame Woven Fabrics produces in excess of 33m metres of fabric per annum; while Frame Denim specialises in the production of indigo denim fabric for the local and export garment industry.

Seardel says it has tried to stem losses at the units by reorganising, restructuring and downsizing the operations, as well as investing ZAR360m over the past ten years on new machinery to try to raise efficiency levels.

It has also sought government help, but "to no avail."

"As there is no indication that there will be any improvement in the trading conditions or performance of the affected divisions in the foreseeable future we, regrettably, are left with no alternative but to close these divisions and sell the assets," the company said.