Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Viyella goes into administration

Viyella clothing
Viyella is best known for its womenswear

The womenswear company Viyella, which was founded in 1784, has become the latest long-established British company to call in the administrators.

The company has annual sales of about 30m and operates 40 stores, 64 concessions and four clearance outlets.

Viyella, which employs about 450 people, said it believed there would be strong interest in buying the brand.

It also expressed the hope that the administrators would be able to sell the business quickly to protect jobs.

"The Viyella brand is trusted and respected both at home and abroad, and we expect that the prospect of a sale of the brand and the infrastructure will raise significant interest amongst other retailers. Indeed we have already been contacted by interested parties," said joint administrator Andrew Turpin.

Viyella's menswear and homeware businesses are unaffected.

The directors have reluctantly decided that they have no alternative but to place the business into administration
Viyella statement

The jobs at risk at Viyella are the latest news on what has been a bad day for UK jobs.

• Marks and Spencer announced it was closing 27 stores and cutting back at head office, with the loss of 1,230 jobs

• The finance company Cattles cut 1,000 jobs as it cuts back on lending

• Barclays Bank announced it was cutting more than 400 technology jobs.

First branded cloth

In a statement, Viyella's directors said, "Following an assessment of the current economic situation and the prospects for the future, the directors have reluctantly decided that they have no alternative but to place the business into administration."

Viyella was originally registered in 1894 as the name of a cloth made from 55% wool and 45% cotton, which was the world's first branded cloth.

More recently, it was part of Coats Viyella and was a manufacturer and supplier of womenswear to retailers such as Marks and Spencer.

Since splitting from Coats Viyella, the company has had a number of different owners and built up the retail side of the business.

"The City fat cats and their hangers-on who brought us the credit crunch have now brought down another iconic brand," said Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union.

"The clothing jobs that were once a mainstream of manufacturing first migrated to China, while those within retail have gone as well now."

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