Troubled textile giant Burlington Industries Inc on Friday said it plans to axe up to 4,000 workers in the US and Mexico as it bids to streamline its apparel and fabrics business while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The North Carolina-based firm says it plans to slash manufacturing capacity by closing down or selling off five factories within the next six months as part of a major reorganisation.

Burlington will axe 2,800 jobs in the US and a further 1,200 in Mexico although some of those positions could be saved if buyers are found for the plants. It also plans to merge its separate apparel sales and marketing operations under one roof.

Senior executives today blamed the job cuts on continuing pressures from cheaper foreign imports and the weak economy.

The news comes less than 48 hours after it was revealed that some senior managers could see their pay more than double.

George W Henderson III, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "We are moving aggressively to create more value for our customers and provide a broader range of new products and fabric innovation.

"Our business model going forward provides us the flexibility to expand our North American capabilities through increased innovation developed by Nano-Tex, LLC and expanded global partnerships established through Burlington WorldWide Limited, our Hong-Kong subsidiary.''

He added: "We deeply regret the loss of jobs resulting from these actions. Continued pressures from foreign imports and unfair trade practices coupled with slowing and uncertain economic conditions have made it necessary for us to further reduce our US capacity."