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Apparel Maker Cuts Jobs

St. John Knits International Inc. next month plans to cut 130 jobs at its facilities in Irvine, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification it filed with the state Employment Development Department.

“We recently adjusted a significant portion of our manufacturing process, and although this change strategically situates the company to meet the future needs of our consumers, it very regrettably resulted in the elimination of some full-time and part-time positions,” the company said in a statement.

St. John employs about 400 workers in Irvine and another 600 at a plant in Mexico. The brand’s sales are down substantially from its peak about a decade ago, according to industry sources.

Its products are in 230 retail outlets globally, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom department stores. St. John also operates 35 boutiques and 20 outlet stores of its own.

Marie Gray co-founded the company with husband, Robert, in 1962. Escada AG in Germany paid the Grays $45 million for an 83.5% share in 1989 and took the company public in 1993.

New York private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners bought a majority stake in the brand in a 1999 deal that pegged St. John’s value at $522 million and took it private. Shanghai-based investment firm Fosun International Ltd., which picked up a 33.3% interest in St. John in late 2013 for $55 million.

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