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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Dewhirst closure 'cannot be halted'
The Welsh Assembly Government has admitted it cannot intervene to prevent the closure of the Dewhirst ladieswear factory in west Wales.

The end of production of jeans for Marks & Spencer at the Cardigan plant will mean the loss of 325 jobs by November.

Cardigan town centre
The job losses will hit Cardigan

Community leaders have urged action to put in place measures to minimise the impact of the job losses in the region, which is heavily dependent on the plant.

Dewhirst cut 435 jobs at its Swansea plant in May, moving production to Morocco.

It was announced on Thursday that a 90-day consultation period about the Cardigan factory closure would begin on 12 August.

A woman worker, who did not wish to be named, said some workers burst into tears when they were given the news.

"We were called to meet the managers this afternoon and when we saw their faces we realised that something was wrong.

"They told us that there was no easy way to tell us, but after the holidays, we would be given 90 days notice.

"It is going to be very difficult now with 300-400 of us all going after the same jobs.

In a statement, the company said it "regretted" the decision and blamed "continued consumer pressure on prices".

Coun Adams-Lewis
Coun Adams-Lewis: 'Blow to community'
"...that has led to insufficient profitable business being available to maintain our UK manufacturing at current levels," the statement added.

Ceredigion MP Simon Thomas said the news was a "huge shock" and he likened the impact of the job losses to the decline of the south Wales steel industry.

He said the firm had post profits of 23m last year and claimed the move abroad was an attempt to make more money.

"I feared this might happen. The company is in profit but it can make more money by relocating abroad," said Mr Thomas.

Marks & Spencer
The firm supplies Marks & Spencer

"The workers produced the best clothing and now they are seeing their jobs lost to cheaper countries outside the European Union.

"There are no jobs available in the area in this industry."

Councillor John Adams-Lewis said: "This is a very dark day for Cardigan. Dewhirst has been a very good employer for about 30 years and a great number of families here depend on the company."

Dewhirst's trading position worsened this spring when it was revealed deflated high street prices meant the manufacturer had been steadily losing money for more than 18 months.

Workers at the Swansea plant at Fforestfach, which is due to close in August, were told in May there was opportunity for relocating jobs.

Dewhirst is switching production at Swansea of trousers and skirts for M&S to overseas factories.

The company has been cutting its UK workforce since 1998, when 300 jobs were lost at its Ystalyfera factory near Swansea.

Then a further 165 jobs were lost last year when it shut its Lampeter plant.

Turbulent times

The company has another factory at Fishguard, west Wales.

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.

On those occasions, Dewhirst was badly affected by the decision by M&S to transfer large parts of its clothing production outside the UK.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Hywel Griffiths
"Dewhirst workers arrived today knowing they will soon be out of a job"


Seeking the spark

Analysis

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

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