|Major UK hosiery manufacturer in administration|
Belper - Historic hosiery firm Courtaulds, manufacturer of Pretty Polly, one of the UK's best-known hosiery brands, has gone into administration with the loss of up to 350 jobs.
The Derbyshire firm, which also supplied a host of private label firms, was significantly hit by the recent collapse of high street chain BHS. CUK Clothing, which merged with Courtaulds in 2006, also went into administration.
The company, which was also a major supplier to Marks & Spencer, employed 380 staff at its Belper and London sites making hosiery, lingerie, formal and casual wear, jackets and coats for UK and international stores.
In a statement, administrators RSM Restructuring Advisory said BHS was a major customer. "The administration of BHS has added to the challenge of operating within a fiercely competitive market for seasonal products. This has left the directors with little choice but to place the companies into administration.
"Regrettably, we have been forced to make 350 employees redundant to align with the current order book, and we are assisting them with their claims to the Redundancy Payments Service."
Courtaulds collapse will come as a surprise to many in the industry. Over the last few years, the company had invested heavily in new equipment and increased its production of high-quality hosiery from 20,000 dozen pairs per week to nearly 60,000 dozen. At its peak, however it could produce up to 78,000 dozen per week.
Using mainly Italian yarns, sourced from suppliers such as Fulgar, around 70% of total production took place in Belper with the remaining 30% sourced from plants in Germany and Turkey.
The knitting room in Belper included 438 hosiery machines of which 330 were Lonati models complemented by Sangiacomo and Matec including two and four-feed Pendolina machines. The vertically integrated site also operated its own dyeing equipment and boarding and finishing processes, a part of the business that was also growing with the installation of a new packaging system from Tinarelli.
It also operated several Santoni Pick & Place systems which helped the company in terms of both production efficiency and cost control as it continued to expand.