MORE than 100 jobs are set to be created thanks to a group’s vision to bring clothing manufacturing back to East Durham.
New company The AMA Group is opening a state-of-the-art facility at Whitehouse Business Park in Peterlee which signals the revival of the industry – one once regarded as the bedrock of the area.
The company is being launched by former Peterlee-based Claremont Garments directors Julie and David Price and Paul Watts along with two other directors.
Production is expected to begin in early April.
A recruitment drive, which will be phased throughout 2014 and 2015, is underway with the company keen to employ a mix of young people, who will be trained in-house and with the support of East Durham College, and experienced machinists who have worked in the clothing manufacturing sector.
Julie Price ran her own lingerie business Essensual Lingerie after the closure of Claremont Garments UK Manufacturing.
She has been working on plans for the facility with her fellow directors for a number of months after seeing a change in retailers’ and shoppers’ attitudes, the expected increase in costs to buy products from abroad and a lack of flexibility from countries in the Far East.
She said: “The clothing manufacturing sector was at the heart of North-East industry for many years and
was particularly prominent in the East Durham area.
“But when retailers started looking overseas for the manufacture of their products in a bid to reduce costs, sadly the sector declined and eventually became virtually none existent.” She added: “We’ve developed a very ambitious and exciting business plan which over the coming months will become a reality and I genuinely believe that we can lead the revival of the industry, not just in East Durham but the North-East as a whole.”
The AMA Group will occupy a 45,000 sq ft unit which was specifically chosen to reflect the modern, hi-tech approach to clothing manufacturing.
The company will have three divisions, contract manufacturing of garments for high street retailers, supermarkets and designer brands, commercial training aimed at the retail sector, and a consultancy service for retailers focussing on the design and development of garments and how to purchase the best quality goods at the most competitive prices.
Business Durham, part of Durham County Council, has supported the directors during the development of their ambitious plans and helped with the search for suitable premises.
Joanne Urquhart-Arnold, business development area manager for the east of the county, said: “This is a massive boost for the East Durham area, not just because it will see the creation of over 100 jobs and
support young people into secure employment but it will also see the revival of an industry which was once
one of the area’s most important employers.”
Councillor Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration at the council, said: “Textiles
coming back to Peterlee and bringing so many jobs is fantastic news and once again shows that County Durham is the place for business.”