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Nearly 100 Lee Jeans Workers Set To Lose Their Jobs With Company's Move To North Carolina

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Lee Jeans owns this building at 67th Street and Antioch Road in Merriam. As of last year, it employed 130 workers there.

Nearly 100 Kansas City-area employees of Lee Jeans are slated to lose their jobs in connection with the company’s relocation from Merriam, Kansas, to North Carolina.

Federal law requires companies with more than 100 employees to give workers 60 days' notice before being laid off. Lee's parent company, VF Corporation, filed such a notice on Monday, saying 93 employees will be affected by the move.

VF Corporation announced last August that it was relocating the company along with VF’s Wrangler brand and outlet businesses to Greensboro, North Carolina, as part of a spinoff from VF. It said it expected the spinoff to occur in the first half of 2019. 

Lee, founded in Salina, Kansas, in 1889, has been based in the Kansas City area since 1917. As of last August, the iconic brand employed about 130 people at its headquarters building on 67th Street and Antioch Road, making it one of Merriam’s largest employers.  

Lee owns the 44-year-old building, and it's not clear what will become of it. 

In its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, VF reported that global revenues for Lee declined 9 percent in the quarter that ended in September. 

VF’s denim business generates annual revenue of around $2.5 billion. As of last year, Lee accounted for about $1 billion of that amount and Wrangler for $1.5 billion.

A spokesman for VF did not return a phone call and an email inquiring about the layoffs.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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