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The BBC's Rebecca Pike
"Up to 4,000 jobs all over the country have been lost"
 real 28k

Monday, 19 June, 2000, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
M&S fights compensation claim

Marks & Spencer says there is no case to answer
High Street giant Marks & Spencer is mounting a High Court challenge against a 54m claim for compensation by one of its former suppliers.

The textile firm William Baird, which has factories in Bangor and Newtownards in County Down, is suing M&S for breach of contract.

The company wants money to cover redundancy payments to some 4,000 workers who have lost their jobs.

M&S
Former M&S suppliers are expected to watch the case with interest

The firm was M&S's fourth biggest supplier of clothing before it became a victim of the chain's need to cut costs in the face of fierce competition and falling profits.

At the end of last year, Baird, which made had clothes for Marks & Spencer for 30 years, was told its services were no longer required.

The claim for compensation is based on two main points:

  • Baird's UK factories had an exclusive contract to supply M&S
  • Marks & Spencer did not give them enough notice.

Baird says the firm was left with no alternative customers when the relationship with Marks & Spencer ended.

Marks & Spencer says there is no case to answer.

The court's decision will be announced in a few weeks.

It will be of interest to smaller firms such as Daks Simpson, which were dropped at the same time.

A number of other local firms were also affected by the Marks & Spencer move.

The legal battle is the latest episode in the steady decline of the textile industry throughout Britain and Northern Ireland.

Thousands of jobs have been lost as manufacturing has been moved overseas, where labour is cheaper.

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See also:

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