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VF Corp. begins custom-fit jeans as part of major restructuring

February 11, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Those jeans too tight around the hips or loose in the rear? The maker of Lee and Wrangler jeans may soon have your perfect fit.

Like rival jeans-maker Levi-Strauss & Co., VF Corp. is heading into the custom-fit business, catering to those folks who want made-to-measure pants to suit their body contour.

``Each person has their own unique fit problems,″ said Mackey McDonald, VF’s president and chief executive. ``This offers a solution.″

The program is part of a four-year restructuring plan VF announced Tuesday aimed at saving $150 million a year as it focuses on its core product lines, like jeans, intimate apparel, backpacks and work wear, such as uniforms.

VF Corp. denied a Wall Street Journal report that said the restructuring will call for the elimination of up to 3,000 jobs over the next four years through a mix of voluntary and involuntary departures.

``We are not announcing any layoffs now,″ said Cindy Knoebel, director of investor relations at Wyomissing, Pa.-based VF. ``It is possible that there would be some loss of jobs, but we haven’t put a number on it.″

Starting later this year, women will be able to order jeans based on their dimensions. The service will be available at stores where VF products are sold and the company is also exploring other means of distribution for the custom-fit line, but Mackey refused to elaborate.

Levi’s began a similar service in 1994, and won praise from consumers who finally found wearable jeans.

Under the restructuring, VF will introduce new technology to allow individual retailers to customize their product assortment on a store-by-store basis. That means stores in college towns may have a different product mix from stores near retirement communities.

Mackey said the restructuring would cost about $150 million to combine its manufacturing and administrative functions. An additional $250 million would be spent on brand development.

The restructuring will have no impact on earnings, he said.

``VF has a presence in every layer of retailing and they are trying to customize products to service each layer,″ said Jay Meltzer, managing director at LJR Redbook Research. ``VF is definitely on the cutting edge of technology and shouldn’t have a problem with these changes.″

On Tuesday, VF also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $82.7 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with a loss of $35.6 million, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose to $1.38 billion from $1.27 billion.

For the year, VF earned $299.5 million, or $4.64 a share, compared with $126.8 million, or $2.41 a share, in 1995. Sales rose to $5.14 billion from $5.06 billion.

VF shares rose $1 to $69 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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