Sport-Haley Inc is to close its golf apparel manufacturing operation located in Four Oaks, North Carolina. The plant is the latest casualty of the company's increasing focus on offshore sourcing.

Sport-Haley acquired a majority interest in the cutting and sewing manufacturing plant in 1998 and increased its ownership to 100 per cent from 1998 through fiscal year 2000. It now anticipates that its wholly-owned subsidiary, B&L Sportswear Inc (B&L), will cease manufacturing operations on or about August 10, 2001. The B&L facility currently employs approximately 35 people.

Over the next few months, Sport-Haley expects to sell the physical assets of B&L, consisting primarily of manufacturing equipment, the majority of which is in new or near new condition.

Ove the past year, Sport-Haley has greatly increased its reliance upon foreign suppliers to manufacture its apparel. In a statement, Kevin M Tomlinson, chief operating officer, said: "Operating a domestic cutting and sewing operation no longer makes sense. Because many domestic fabric mills have closed during the past year, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain the fabric and trim necessary to produce garments at B&L at a competitive cost.

"Foreign suppliers have the capability to produce higher quality garments, using fabrics that cannot be produced in the United States, at a lower cost than garments that we have been able to produce domestically. We believe the discontinuation of the B&L operation and the increased reliance on foreign suppliers will be beneficial to the company in the coming years. We expect that our gross margins will continue to improve without B&L and increased reliance on foreign suppliers will enable the Company to better manage inventory levels by eliminating fabric and trim component inventories."