St. John Knits lays off 130 workers

Irvine, CA-based St. John Knits is the next retailer to run into financial trouble, having given 130 production workers notice that they will lose their jobs at the end of this month.


The Southern California company is reorganizing its manufacturing processes. Major changes include moving its primarily US based manufacturing from its Irvine facilities down to its twenty year old factory in Tijuana, Mexico.

St. John Knits is also outsourcing jobs to a sewing contractor based in Glendale, CA, GSA Design. It is also moving jobs further overseas to factories in China.

Bruce Fetter, President, Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer at St. John Knits said, “We have been doing some restructuring of our manufacturing team here over the last 12 months, and this reduction has been planned for some time."

Regardless, it is disappointing to see a brand with a Southern California heritage and commitment to US manufacturing have to go abroad to continue to operate. St. John Knits operates the largest flat knitting operation in the US. It operates 300 knitting machines in its in house factory adjacent to its corporate headquarters in Irvine.

St. John Knits has had an interesting financial history, having gone public and then privatized again over its 50 year history. Started by the Gray family in 1962, the company was sold to Escada in 1989 for $45 million. In 1999, Vestar Capital Partners bought it back with the Grays who brought it private again. Vestar currently is a majority owner.

While the company has struggled with executive leadership, it has tried to remain true to its target consumer by manufacturing timeless designs for the 40 year old professional woman. Over the years it has enlisted Angelina Jolie and Gisele Bündchen as key models. Outsourcing production is an unfortunate reality for a company built on high quality American made designs.

The layoffs in manufacturing will be effective June 26, 2017.



 

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