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Century old Hartz apparel to close down

Aug '06
A tailored clothing manufacturer, Hartz and Co., headed by CEO Robert Watson, a family-owned business that began in Baltimore in 1893 and moved into Frederick in 1975 has planned to shutdown.

Increasing competition from lower-cost overseas operations played a role in Hartz's decline.

A year ago, it indicated a new deal to manufacture women's clothing for Brooks Brothers but the company now plans to shut down in October 2006.

Due to previous rounds of layoffs, Hartz now plan to close the
plant and lay off 260 workers.

Hartz, which makes primarily men's suits that retail for US $600 to $900, is one of the few US apparel manufacturers that do not outsource any of its operations overseas.

Company had been having financial difficulties for more than a year and closed its 150-employee manufacturing facility in Broadway, Va., earlier this year.

The city, county and state economic development organizations had been working with Hartz for a number of years to assist in several capacities but they were falling on difficult times, particularly with labor costs with so much manufacturing in clothing being overseas.

The US apparel manufacturers, especially those that choose not to offshore labor to cut costs, have seen steady declines the last few decades.

Since 1983, apparel production jobs such as sewing machine operators have dropped by about 40 percent, according to the US Department of Labor.

According to the US Commerce Department, apparel exports declined almost by half from 2000 to 2005 to $4.4 billion, although such exports rose more than five-fold in Maryland to $24 million.

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