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700 jobs threatened by Claremont closure

Up to 700 workers in Glasgow have joined the battle to save their jobs at a clothing factory owned by Claremont Garments. A spokesman for the company, which is a supplier to Marks and Spencer, said yesterday that Claremont could not justify keeping the plant open, despite six weeks of rescue package consultations with the GMB Union, the Scottish Office and the Glasgow Development Agency.

He added: "Having considered all alternative options, it has not proved possible to establish any basis for a long-term future for the company in the Glasgow area. It is with regret that manufacturing in Glasgow will definitely cease."

The factory would close by the end of the year although it hoped to keep as many people as people employed at the factory, which makes womenswear, between now and the closure, which will cost Claremont pounds 6m.

The product lines currently produced at Glasgow would now be made at Claremont's factory in Peterlee, County Durham, where the group has its headquarters.

Up to 250 jobs would be created at Peterlee by the move but, the spokesman added, it was too early to say whether existing Glasgow workers would be offered relocation.

The spokesman said: "The textile industry is going through a difficult time and the company has seen its profitability decline significantly over the last few years. But they [Claremont] are committed to the UK manufacturing business and did not want to see this work go offshore.

"But if they were going to retain the work here it had to be more efficient and if they can make the same clothes with 250 jobs in the North-east, what option is there?"

The textile industry has been hit hard by a rising tide of cheap imports. In March, Claremont said it was undertaking a strategic review to counter the problem as it announced a drop in pre-tax profits for 1995 from pounds 15m to pounds 12.9m.

That fall was recently followed by a announcement of a even sharper slump in profits for the first six months of this year from pounds 6.8m to pounds 2.7m.

Claremont's falling profits have been matched by a tumbling share price which, over the last year, has plunged by more than 35 per cent. However, yesterday's closure news helped settle investors and the share price dipped just 1p to 206.5p.