Shropshire Star

Firm hires 77 former Laura Ashley workers at Newtown factory

More than 70 former Laura Ashley workers are set to return to work after it was announced that a new factory is to open in Mid Wales.

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Fashion Enter Ltd is opening a factory in Newtown

Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL), a social enterprise specialising in training and manufacturing, is hiring the workers at its facility in Newtown.

The move provides a major boost for the town in the wake of the closure of the Laura Ashley factories this year after the business fell into administration.

FEL received investment from the Welsh Government after securing a major contract with online fashion retailer ASOS.

The Welsh Government moved quickly to provide funding from its Economy Futures Fund, with FEL using the cash injection to establish its new factory in Mid Wales.

Following support from the ReAct wage subsidy programme, the 77 former employees of Laura Ashley will initially help to produce 10,000 garments a week for the ASOS contract from FEL’s new base. This will increase to 20,000 a week within a month.

FEL CEO Jenny Holloway said: “Many of the stitchers we have hired had loyally worked at Laura Ashley for more than 35 years. I couldn’t rest knowing they were going to lose their jobs. You also don’t find experienced stitchers of that number anywhere anymore, they are like gold dust.”

FEL will be based in the Royal Welsh Warehouse, known locally as the Pryce Jones Building. The landmark building is owned by the Potter Group of Welshpool, which has also invested in the building to facilitate its use by FEL and whose project team of contractors, solicitors and surveyors were able to deliver the accommodation for occupation in a very short time frame.


FEL will also provide PPE for luxury clothing brand Private White VC.

Jenny added: “We are absolutely delighted with the support and guidance we have received from the Welsh Government which has resulted in Fashion-Enter being able to employ staff and we still want to recruit a further 30 stitchers. Our order book is currently full, and the sky is the limit.”

Fashion-Enter Ltd also plans to increase local employment and invest in local skills levels by establishing a textile academy in Newtown over the comping months.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “Powys, and the Newtown area in particular, has a rich manufacturing history, with highly skilled and experienced individuals.

"I am delighted Fashion-Enter Ltd has seized the opportunity to put their valuable expertise to work with this important investment in Mid Wales, which will continue that rich tradition for years to come.

“I am also pleased our support will not only see former staff of Laura Ashley re-employed at a time of such economic uncertainty but that it will also enable a raft of apprentices to gain new skills and in doing so will bolster the region’s manufacturing value even further.

"Fashion-Enter Ltd’s investment in training and upskilling, and in the well-being of its workforce, is exactly the sort of behaviour we are trying to drive with our Economic Contract.”

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