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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Laura Ashley shuts 'home' factory
Laura Ashley site in Carno
Laura Ashley has been based in Carno since the 1960s
Clothes and furnishings firm Laura Ashley has announced it is closing its factory at Carno, in mid Wales.

The company said the jobs of the 220 staff at the Carno site would be moved to the company's nearby Newtown factory, but 12 jobs would be lost.

Carno was the original Welsh base of the company when Bernard and Laura Ashley moved there from Kent in 1961.

The current factory was set up in the village in 1967.

Subject to consultation, the Carno factory will close early next year.

The decision that the Laura Ashley factory in Carno is to close is a very bleak day for the village
Glyn Davies AM

The company said it wanted to modernise its Newtown site, including an expansion to accommodate office staff from Carno.

A company spokesman said there were plans to create new jobs at the Newtown site.

Ainum Mohd-Saaid, joint chief executive of Laura Ashley, said: "Whilst we continue to draw on the qualities and inspiration of the past, it is also important that we transform the business into a modern manufacturing facility, capable of developing to meet the needs of customers in the 21st century."

'Devastating impact'

Mick Bates, Liberal Democrat AM for Montgomeryshire, said: "The end of Laura Ashley's association with Carno is deeply regrettable and will be the cause of much sorrow in the area.

"The impact of closure on small communities can be devastating and we welcome the Welsh Development Agency's (WDA)intention to find new investors for the site. "Whilst there were tough issues to be considered by the company, we are relieved that Laura Ashley will not be leaving the area altogether."

Glyn Davies, Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, called on the WDA to launch a recovery plan for Carno following the loss of the factory.

He said: "The decision that the Laura Ashley factory in Carno is to close is a very bleak day for the village.

Laura Ashley
Laura Ashley set up the family-run company in the 1950s

"I have already spoken to the WDA about the need for a major campaign to find a new tenant for the Carno factory which has played a prominent role in the history of the area.

"The names Laura Ashley and Carno have been inextricably linked for the last 30 years and it will be difficult to accept that the village fairy story has reached its final chapter.

"But I am pleased that Laura Ashley Industries are simultaneously making a commitment to mid Wales and expanding its workforce at Newtown."

A WDA spokesperson added: "The closure of the Texplan Manufacturing site at Carno is extremely regrettable.

'New investors'

"Laura Ashley was established in the community more than 30 years ago and its presence there ever since is testament to the loyal workforce which has served the company during that time.

"The company's decision to consolidate its operations to the Texplan site in Newtown has been crucial in ensuring its future long-term presence in mid Wales, where around 750 people are employed by Laura Ashley and its subsidiary Texplan Manufacturing Ltd.

"We will be working with the company to market the Carno site to potential new employers and investors."

After setting up textiles firm Ashley Mountney in London in 1953, Laura and Bernard Ashley moved to Kent in 1955, before relocating to Carno in 1961.

The company grew rapidly in the late 1960s and early 1970s with shops opening in major cities across the world.

The success of the 1970s meant that by 1981, when Laura Ashley moved into home furnishings, the company had 5,000 retail outlets throughout the world.

In 1984 the opening of new company headquarters in Newtown, Powys, created 500 jobs.

Laura Ashley died the following year, aged 60, after an accident at her daughter's home.

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22 Apr 04  |  Business

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