Losses widen at Calida

Calida is tightening its belt as revenues shrink Keystone Archive

Switzerland's favourite underwear maker has seen its losses swell four-fold over 2001.

This content was published on February 26, 2002

The canton Lucerne-based maker of underwear and nightwear revealed a net loss of SFr40.3 million ($23.7 million) last year, after falling into the red to the tune of SFr10.3 million in 2000.

Calida's chief executive, Felix Sulzberger, told swissinfo that the scale of the loss was because of over-ambitious expectations about sales and the clearing of inventory at marked-down prices.

"We had planned for a strong increase in turnover and we prepared capacity for that, but we didn't reach our targets, Sulzberger explained. "Also, we had to reduce inventories at a partial loss and that was the main reason for this result."

Closure in India

Following its poor performance in 2001, Calida has scaled back some of its overseas operations. On Tuesday, it said it would cease production in India, with the loss of 250 jobs, and reduce capacity elsewhere.

Sulzberger said Calida would be concentrating its sewing operations in Hungary and Portugal, although these would be slimmed down, and that its core activities would be continue to be centred in Switzerland.

"Basically we want to have the whole supply chain - that is planning, marketing and product development, as well as cutting and knitting - done here in Switzerland," said Sulzberger. "That leaves only external activities - ready-to-wear product sourcing and sewing - in Hungary and Portugal."

The group, which was founded in 1941, currently employs around 1,300 staff worldwide.

Switzerland's favourite underpants

Calida is the top selling underwear and nightwear brand in Switzerland, with the domestic market accounting for 43 per cent of total sales. Germany is another key market, accounting for 40 per cent of the company's sales.

"Swiss consumers, and Germans too, seem to love Calida because they've grown up with the brand," said Sulzberger. "They have a very close relationship with it... and that's one of the strengths of the company."

Celebrity bottoms

Calida underwear adorns some high-profile bottoms, too. One avowed Calida wearer is brand guru, Tyler Brûlé, editor of style bible magazine, "Wallpaper".

He's also the man who took the "air" out of "Swissair" by rebranding Switzerland's new national airline as simply "swiss".

"Brûlé calls us from time to time and asks for some products - he seems to like us a lot," noted Sulzberger.

by Tom O'Brien

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