Layoffs to hit St. John Knits

St. John Knits Inc. plans to cut 72 positions in December. A company spokeswoman confirmed the layoffs, which were first reported to the California Employment Development Department. The cuts are effective Dec. 11 and follow a June round of cuts totaling 130 manufacturing positions.

The company said in June it had adjusted its manufacturing process, and work previously done by sewers, cutters and knitting machine operators in the company’s Irvine, Calif., factories was being moved overseas to its Mexico facility in addition to contractors in Asia and Los Angeles.

St. John at the time said the “change strategically situates the company to meet the future needs of our consumers.”

The company’s spokeswoman confirmed the December round of cuts are in line with the same strategy that prompted the June layoffs.

Fosun International, of China, gained a minority stake in the St. John business in 2013. A good read on the company’s business has been hard to come by. The privately held business doesn’t disclose revenue and much of its communication in more recent years has focused on telling a design story keen on breathing new life into the brand, while retaining a firm grip on its heritage in luxury knitwear.

In September, it was revealed that St. John planned to relocate its Orange County flagship from South Coast Plaza after a more than two-decade run at the Costa Mesa shopping center. The boutique will be located at Fashion Island, with an opening date slated for February. The store will boast a new coastal-inspired design that, if successful, could inform the look of other boutiques in the future.

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