Sonia Rykiel cuts a quarter of staff, ends Sonia by Sonia line

PARIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Sonia Rykiel is axing nearly a quarter of its staff and shutting down its Sonia by Sonia Rykiel line, hit by a drop in tourist spending in Europe and lower demand from Russia, the fashion brand said on Wednesday.

The company, known for its tongue-in-cheek style and brightly striped sweater dresses, said it would cut 79 positions out of 330, recentre its activities on its original Sonia Rykiel line and introduce more accessibly priced products.

“Refocusing the business’s resources on the main collection will strengthen its distribution and enable the organisation to adapt to the challenges of tomorrow,” the company said in a statement.

Sonia Rykiel’s move echoes comments this week by Hugo Boss , which is planning to ditch efforts to move the brand upmarket and widen its offering of more accessible products.

In 2012, the Rykiel family sold an 80 percent stake to Fung Brands, an investment company backed by Hong Kong billionaires Victor and William Fung.

Now called First Heritage Brands, the holding company bought the balance from the Rykiel family earlier this year. It also controls Belgian leather goods firm Delvaux and French shoe brand Robert Clergerie.

Designer Sonia Rykiel died at the end of August aged 86. Instantly recognizable by her bushy red hair, she founded her fashion house in the Saint-Germain des Prés quarter of Paris in 1968, when France was rocked by violent student riots, aiming to counter stiff, bourgeois dress codes with inside-out stitches and extra-short skirts. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by David Holmes)