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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 18:35 GMT
Shoe firm cuts 120 jobs
Shoemaker Clarks is shedding 107 jobs with the closure of its factory in Barnstaple, north Devon.

The company says most of the jobs at the Abbeyfield plant, which opened in 1964 and once employed 250 people, will go by April.

The firm, which is also laying off 13 people at its headquarters in Street, Somerset, has blamed lower wage costs of South Asia factories.

Clarks, which once had 30 factories in the UK, has closed all but three.

We can no longer justify the increasing losses we would make if we continued production at Abbeyfield
Peter Bolliger, Clarks chief executive
A spokesman said the firm had attempted to keep costs down at Abbeyfield by using new working methods and importing shoe uppers from India.

But lower wage costs in South Asia factories had forced the closure of the plant.

He said: "Shoe making is fairly labour intensive and the UK cannot compete on wages.

"We have factories in Vietnam which are superbly equipped and can offer the same standard of product as our UK factories."

The company said it would offer staff specialist support to look for alternative employment.

'Wide impact'

It said it hoped that the majority of job losses in the technical support section at the Street headquarters would be voluntary.

Peter Bolliger, Clarks chief executive, said: "The decision to close a factory is always taken with deep regret because of the impact it has on loyal employees and in the wider community.

"However we can no longer justify the increasing losses we would make if we continued production at Abbeyfield."

It is the latest in a series of jobs blows to north Devon.

Last year Dartington Crystal in north Devon announced it was laying off 43 staff and more than 500 workers at Appledore shipbuilders lost their jobs.

In August, chimney factory Selkirk closed with the loss of 180.

The closure of the Croydex factory in Barnstaple in 2002 led to the loss of 69 jobs.




SEE ALSO:
Jobs go at crystal factory
24 Oct 03  |  Devon
Time 'running out' for shipyard
24 Sep 03  |  Devon
Chimney factory finds buyer
21 Aug 03  |  Devon
Jobs to go at shoe factory
30 Apr 03  |  Somerset


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