Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Lumberton pantyhose maker blames 136 job losses on fashion changes

A hosiery maker will lay off 136 workers in Lumberton, which the company blames on fewer women wearing pantyhose and tights. The cuts take effect by the end of the year.

Greensboro-based Kayser-Roth has owned the manufacturing plant in Lumberton since the late 1970s. It manufactures women’s hosiery under the No Nonsense and Hue brands, says plant manager Zachary Greene.

Workers were caught with a double-edged sword, says Greene. In addition to less demand, the cost of production kept rising, he says.

“There used to be a whole section of our products hanging in a store,” Greene says, “and now it’s just a few pegs hanging our product in stores.”

About 200 people work at the non-union plant, and it will remain a distribution center. Those losing their jobs work in manufacturing. The layoffs will occur in three rounds starting Dec. 1 with 30 employees losing their jobs. Thirty more will lose their jobs Dec. 8 and 76 will lose their jobs Dec. 22, according to paperwork filed with the N.C. Department of Commerce.

About 10 years ago, more than 600 people worked at the plant, says Greene, a 14-year plant employee and its manager since 2017. The plant employed even more decades ago when pantyhose and the thicker tights were more in fashion and  manufacturing process was less automated, he adds.

Demand for hosiery products has been in a steady decline for several years, and the company says it could not pass any cost increases on to retailers. As a result, profitablity weakened.

The company will work with the N.C. Department of Commerce and other companies in Robeson County to help affected employees find jobs, Greene says. Robeson County, located 35 miles south of Fayetteville, had a 5.2% unemployment rate in August, down from 5.5% in July. North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 3.3%.

Kayser-Roth has other manufacturing plants in Burlington and Asheboro that make socks.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect 136 people will lose their jobs..


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