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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Clothing workers end final shift
Dewhirst factory
Dewhirst's Swansea plant is closing for the final time
More than 400 workers at the Dewhirst clothing factory in Swansea completed their final shift at the firm on Friday.

The company announced in May that the Fforestfach plant was to close after losing money for the last 18 months switching production of trousers and skirts instead to cheaper workforces in Morocco.

Parc Fforestffach retail development in Swansea
Parc Fforestffach is creating 500 jobs

As the 435 Swansea workers completed their redundancy period, there was a glimmer of hope for them.

A 15m shopping complex creating around 500 jobs is opening for the first time to customers just yards away.

A former industrial site has been developed privately by The Stadium Group, and the existing Tesco Extra is being joined by other High Street retail and restaurant names.

Job creation

The official opening of Parc Fforestffach was performed by Welsh Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies, with Swansea City football players and club mascot Cyril the Swan also taking part.

The group says the retail park is creating more than 500 jobs, and some of them have been filled by those made redundant at the Dewhirst factory.

However, as many of the positions at the retail park are part-time, workers from Dewhirst who need full-time work were left facing a difficult future.

Some wept as they left the factory for the last time.

News of the end of Dewhirst's Swansea operation was swiftly followed last month by the announcement that its plant at Cardigan was to finish production jeans for retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Another 325 jobs in the small west Wales town where the company is the main employer are due to go in November.

Powerless

The clothing manufacturer's fortunes have been caught up with those of its principal buyer - M & S - which is only now recovering after a turbulent few years.

As well as the hundreds of job losses announced this year Dewhirst has been retracting its operations across Wales and the rest of the UK over the last four years.

It has meant the loss of well paid skilled jobs with the Welsh Assembly government saying it was powerless to intervene.

In 1998, 300 jobs at the Ystalyfera factory near Swansea went.

A further 165 jobs were lost last year when the Lampeter plant shut.

Two years ago the company also close two of its factories in Stoke-in-Trent and on Teesside in England.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Rebecca John
"A handful have managed to get jobs at the new retail park"


Seeking the spark

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Where I Live, South West Wales
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