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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Dewhirst shuts last clothes factory
Dewhirst factory in Fishguard
Over 160 workers at the Fishguard plant will lose their jobs
Marks and Spencer clothing manufacturer Dewhirst, which once boasted five plants in Wales, has confirmed it is to close its last remaining factory.

The 168-strong workforce at the plant in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, was told on Wednesday that it would shut following a 90-day consultation period.

Machinst generic
The factory makes trousers for Marks & Spencer

It is the latest in a long line of closures for the manufacturer which has been badly affected by the withdrawal of orders from the high street giant Marks & Spencer.

The new job losses bring the total in Wales to around 1,400.

In a statement the company said they "regretted" the move.

It said continued consumer pressure on prices had hit profitability.

Emily Thomas from the GMB union said the union would be looking for meetings with the Welsh Assembly to assist the workers.

"We will spend the 90-day consultation period trying to work out every way for them to keep their jobs or get trained for other jobs - they're a highly skilled workforce," she said.


Dewhirst has made a strategic decision to withdraw from manufacturing in Wales in a move to increase profits

Economic development minister Andrew Davies
The GMB wants manufacturers and the government to develop strategies to save jobs in the sector, including getting contracts for public sector worker uniforms such as nurses, emergency and military staff.

"British firms aren't winning these contracts but we have the skills, and it would save a lot of jobs," added Ms Thomas.

Assembly economic development minister Andrew Davies said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the decision to close the factory.

"Dewhirst has made a strategic decision to withdraw from manufacturing in Wales in a move to increase profits.

"Regrettably, they have kept us in the dark about their plans and have given us very late notice of their announcement.

"The significantly lower wages they pay workers abroad means that by re-locating they can achieve higher profit margins for the company," he said.

Series of closures

Dewhirst factories began closing in Wales back in 1998.

  • Last Friday the Dewhirst plant at Fforestfach in Swansea, closed with the loss of 435 jobs.

  • Another 325 jobs are to go at the Dewhirst factory in Cardigan in November.

  • The first factory to close was at Ystalyfera in Swansea when 300 jobs were lost in 1998.

  • Last year 165 jobs went when the plant at Lampeter was shut down.

Workers at the Fishguard plant were told that the company had decided against moving their cutting operation from the closing Cardigan factory around 15 miles away.

A consultation period started two weeks ago, when the factory re-opened after its annual leave.

Dewhirst in Fishguard makes polyester ladies trousers for Marks and Spencer.

There will still be around 200 Dewhirst adminstration and technical staff left in Wales but they will not be involved in making clothes.

This latest news make a further dent in the already fragile west Wales economy which has been subjected to severe job losses.

In May more than 1,000 jobs went when the ITV digital call centre closed at Pembroke Dock.

Dewhirst's own prospects have been closely linked to those of M&S which has experienced a turbulent period in the past two years.

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

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Claire Summers
"It was the turn of the Fishguard workers to hear they were surplus to Dewhirst's requirements."

Where I Live, South West Wales


Seeking the spark

Analysis
See also:

23 Aug 02 | Wales
18 Jul 02 | Wales
Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


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