Belfast Telegraph

Upmarket Derry shirt factory to close its doors

Richard Gibson (left) of Smyth & Gibson with Noel McClean of Invest NI after the firm launched a new £500,000 specialised shirtmaking facility in Londonderry back in 2007
Richard Gibson (left) of Smyth & Gibson with Noel McClean of Invest NI after the firm launched a new £500,000 specialised shirtmaking facility in Londonderry back in 2007
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

One of Londonderry's last remaining shirt factories is set to close with all 34 workers to be made redundant.

Smyth & Gibson on the Victoria Road made high quality shirts which retailed at around £150 each.

Customers included Marks and Spencer, JW Anderson, Fred Perry, Tiger of Sweden and Margaret Howell.

The company has been struggling for some time. Last April staff were laid off for a number of weeks after the firm lost a number of contracts, and this revenue has not been replaced, leading to the decision to close.

The firm will be proposing a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with creditors following an increase in production costs and a drop in retail sales.

Sam Morrison, director of Smyth & Gibson, said: "This is a very sad day for the company. For many years our factory in Derry-Londonderry 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 no longer viable.

"We have been in close contact with our employees and have already completed a formal consultation period.

"I am pleased that we have been able to secure permanent employment for 20 of those affected with O'Neills Irish International Sports Company."

Derry has long been synonymous with quality shirt manufacturing and shirt factories were the main source of employment from the early 1900s up until the 1970s.

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said it was a sad day for all concerned.

He said: "It is of some comfort that 20 of the people made redundant have secured work at O'Neill's factory in Strabane and I hope the remaining staff are able to find work soon."

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Michaela Boyle, called for relevant statutory agencies to provide business support that enables local companies to be more sustainable.

She said: "This news is extremely disappointing and sad news for everyone involved.

"I would like to reassure those affected that I will be proactively putting pressure on both the British and Irish Governments to place job creation high on their agenda for the people of the north west region."

Belfast Telegraph

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