Renowned Derry shirt maker announces closure of factory at cost of 34 jobs
A DERRY shirt-maker has announced the closure of its long-standing factory later this month, at a cost of 34 jobs.
Smyth & Gibson, which has manufacturers garments for leading brands, including; Marks & Spencer, Fred Perry, JW Anderson, Tiger of Sweden and Margaret Howell for the past 15 years, has cited the recent loss of key customers as one of the main reasons for the decision.
The shirt-making company, which also exported its products across the world, will be proposing a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with creditors following an increase in production costs and a drop in retail sales.
Smyth & Gibson director, Sam Morrison described it as a "sad day" for the company, which supplies high street giants, Selfridges and House of Fraser.
"For many years our factory in Derry has been one of the last remaining traditional handmade shirt makers in Britain and Ireland. We have taken every step we could to avoid the closure of the factory, however we are facing a volatile retail climate which has meant that our current business structure is simply no longer viable," he said.
Of the 34 staff made redundant by the factory closure, Mr Morrison confirmed that following a formal consultation process 20 have secured permanent employment with O’Neills Irish International Sports Company in Derry.
President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Brian McGrath described the factory closure as “very sad news” for the city.
“The shirt factories are a huge part of our city’s heritage and Smyth and Gibson is one of our last remaining shirt factories.”
“It is welcome news that another company has offered permanent jobs to some of those affected, but there will still be a lot of families worrying this evening,” he added
The Victoria Street factory closure comes just over a year after Smyth & Gibson announced it was temporarily laying off 50 staff for a period of five weeks after losing a major contract with a key customer.
Management told workers not to turn up for work from April 9 to May 14 and offered those affected £27 per day for the first week of their lay-off and nothing thereafter.
In 2017 the company secured a £500,000 loan from the Growth Loan Fund to support global expansion plans.
Speaking at that time, managing director Richard Gibson said:
“This investment, combined with the continuing support from Invest NI and our equity partners, will allow us to implement our future growth strategy, which will be concentrated on further developing our existing export markets of Canada and Germany, as well as supporting growth in our direct retail channels.”