By MARIANNE MARTIN-COHENAssociated PressNEW YORK (AP) Asics, the maker of the popular running shoes with more than 500 million pairs sold worldwide, has shuttered its Japanese factories and announced it would close all its manufacturing operations in Japan by the end of the year.
The company has already said it will lay off more than 5,000 workers in Japan, including 2,000 in its Shibuya factory, which is about 100 miles north of Tokyo.
Asics’ Japan factory is now owned by a private equity firm.
The closure of its factories in Japan was the first step in Asics plan to exit the footwear business, said Asics spokesman Yoshihiro Yamashita in a statement.
The company expects to continue operations in China.
Yamashita did not provide details of the factory closings.
The shoes maker announced in January that it had been forced to lay off nearly 4,000 employees worldwide in the wake of an outbreak of the coronavirus that has sickened more than 2,100 people and left more than 7,000 dead.
In a recent quarterly earnings call, Yamashitta said the company expects more than 6,000 layoffs worldwide in 2016.
The firm also said it expects to cut 5,400 jobs in China in the coming year.