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Friday, October 29, 1999 Published at 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK


Business: The Company File

'King of Socks' leaves UK

Pex is moving English production to Romania

One of Europe's biggest sock-makers is pulling out of England amid controversy over unpaid wages.

Pex makes 23 million socks a year at its three factories in Leicester and one in Northern Ireland.

It now plans to switch its English production to Romania and China.

But unions are picketing the English factories after pay cheques bounced. The knitwear union says employees also turned up for work at one of Pex's Leicester factories to find the locks changed.

The employees are now mounting what they call a vigil outside the gates. They are concerned about yarn inside which they say is to be moved to the plant in Romania.

Pex's chairman, Count Andrea Cattaneo della Volta - once dubbed the King of Socks by an Italian newspaper - confirmed the three Leicester factories were to close and wages had not been paid.

He said the move to Romania would cut costs, provide a more flexible workforce and improve on what he called a "poor performance".

"We have had a lot of faulty goods," he said.

He added the pay had not been processed due to technical problems which had now been ironed out.

"This quarrel is the fruit of very sour feelings and antagonism because we have stopped manufacturing," he said.

Pex will continue making socks in Northern Ireland.



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