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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Clothing firm sheds 400 jobs
Dewhirst is to close its factory in Swansea
Clothing manufacturer Dewhirst has announced the closure of its Swansea factory with the loss of more than 400 jobs.

The firm, which makes women's skirts and trousers for Marks & Spencer, has said it will shut down the operation in south west Wales by the end of August.

Marks & Spencer
The firm supplies Marks & Spencer

In a statement issued on Thursday, the company blamed the move on a loss of profits due to "continued consumer pressure on prices".

A spokesman said approximately 435 jobs will be lost in Swansea with up to a further 20 supporting jobs going elsewhere within the division.

Chancellor Gordon Brown told BBC Wales the loss of jobs was a "personal tragedy for those people affected".

Dewhirst's two other factories in Cardigan and Fishguard, which employ around 250 workers will not be affected by the announcement.

However, the local council have said the region will be hit hard by the Swansea closure.

Swansea City Council said Dewhirst was the third largest manufacturing company in the area.


Dewhirst has been caught in international trend which is not really of their making, production base costs are competitive

Craig Anderson, Swansea council

Craig Anderson, director of development for Swansea council said: "We are meeting with the company managers tomorrow along with the WDA.

"It is bitterly disappointing coming on the back of last year when we've seen a lot of growth in the local economy in many areas.

"Dewhirst has been caught in international trend which is not really of their making, production base costs are competitive.

"It is nothing to do with quality or output of the workers - just down to costs.

"Dewhirst is not alone in this, its a tough business."

Consultation

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown expressed regret at the cuts, but stressed the Government was working to build British industries as a whole.

"If jobs are being lost in one area, it's obviously a personal tragedy for those people affected and it's sad for the area," Mr Brown told BBC Wales.

"But over the last five years we have been trying to create new jobs, new opportunities and new occupations for people in Wales and employment is up by 25,000 since 1997.

Chancellor Gordon Brown
Chancellor Gordon Brown: "Very sad for the area"
"For jobs that are lost, jobs are gained - as for manufacturers it is very important we build modern manufacturing strength."

Dewhirst will now be entering into a formal 90 day statutory consultation period with the union and the workers, a spokesman said.

Swansea council have also pledged to assist workers made redundant in the move back into employment.

Mr Anderson said: "Our priority is to get people back into work they have lost through no fault of their own."

The latest jobs blow comes after the company announced the closure of other plants in Wales, including one at Lampeter employing 165 people.

Dewhirst had been badly affected by the decision by Marks & Spencer to transfer large parts of its clothing production outside the UK.

The company's Fishguard operation was also under review, with employees being offered transfers to the Swansea factory and another at Cardigan.

In 2000, the company closed two plants on Teesside and Stoke-in-Trent in England.

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Chancellor Gordon Brown
"If jobs are being lost, it is very sad for the area"

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

11 Jan 01 | Business
13 Jan 00 | Business
26 Nov 98 | Business
28 Jan 00 | Wales
10 Sep 99 | Wales
12 Dec 01 | South Asia
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