Rescue for Laura Ashley factory

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The Independent Online
William Baird, the textiles group, will today sign a contract to take over one of Laura Ashley's two clothing factories in Wales which have been threatened with closure. The move will save 100 jobs. Baird plans to use the factory to manufacture men's casual trousers for Marks & Spencer and expects the extra capacity to add pounds 5m to the group's pounds 60m UK sales with M&S.

Baird is taking over the lease and liabilities of the factory, which is in north Wales, and will invest pounds 100,000 in new machines. David Suddens, the new-broom chief executive, hopes to have the factory up and running by October. Speaking as the group announced half-year profits to June up a third, Mr Suddens said Baird planned to track M&S expansion outside the UK, by opening factories in Morocco, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. He said Baird should double its profits made overseas from 20 per cent currently by 2000.