GREENVILLE, S.C. — J. P. Stevens & Co. reported Thursday that about a fourth of the company's holdings are for sale, including 18 apparel plants in four states that employ 7,500 workers.
The company said the move was designed to "reduce the exposure" of the company to cheap imports.
If the textile giant finds buyers for the plants, it would be almost totally out of the apparel-making business, Chairman Whitney Stevens said Thursday in Greenville.
The sale "would represent a very considerable reduction in the size of the company," Stevens said at a news conference attended by most of the company's top management.
J. P. Stevens, the nation's second-largest publicly held textile company, has corporate headquarters in New York City, but its manufacturing headquarters are here.
"The whole import issue has had a lot to do with the decision we are making here," Stevens said. "This will greatly reduce the exposure of this company to imports."
If Stevens sells the apparel plants, the company will concentrate on manufacturing towels, sheets, bedroom accessories, carpets, industrial fabrics, auto products and elastic products.
Stevens said he will know within six months if there is interest in buying the plants.
The company is selling four divisions: Delta Fabrics, which has six plants in South Carolina; Woolen & Worsted Fabrics, which has five plants in Georgia; United Elastic Fabrics, which has two plants in Virginia, and Stevcoknit Fabrics, with has five plants in North Carolina.
Each division will be sold as a unit. The investment banking firm of Goldman, Sachs & Co. has been retained to help with the sale.
There already have been "some unsolicited expressions of interest," Stevens said.
The estimated sales in 1985 of the four divisions is $487 million of Stevens' total estimated sales of $2.1 billion, company spokesman Ron Copsey said.
As a whole, the four businesses are "breaking even," Stevens said.
"If they are not sold, we will continue to operate them," Stevens said. "They will not be closed."
Stevens will not sell its fine goods division, which makes shirts for men and women at two plants near Newberry, S.C., and Rockingham, N.C. The fine goods division is the only other apparel-making division in the company.
In the first six months of the year, Stevens announced closings and consolidations that claimed the jobs of about 1,500 workers.
Last week, Stevens declared a quarterly dividend of 30 cents per share on its common stock. Analysts predicted earlier this year that, because of cash-flow problems, Stevens would have to cut the dividend to 15 cents this year.
In its most recent financial report, the company said it lost $4.8 million in the second quarter of 1985. Sales were down 14% over the same period last year.
Stevens has more than 32,000 employees nationwide.