Fight to keep open 'crucial' factory backed by politicians
A VOW to keep the doors of an Ammanford warehouse — which is due to close before Christmas — open has been made by two Carmarthenshire politicians.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have said they would do all they could to ensure the doors of the Dewhirst warehouse in Capel Hendre remained open, after reports the site would close and 114 members of staff would lose their jobs by December 20 if a new owner was not found.
The Dewhirst site in the Amman Valley currently acts as a holding warehouse for Marks and Spencer, which announced it was looking to stop using the factory as a warehouse.
M&S first announced that it was to reduce its dependency on external warehouses in 2010 and Dewhirst first announced the possible closure and job losses in January.
Operations manager for Dewhirst ladieswear division, Paul Hollins, said: "Nobody has bought it yet. One or two people are looking at it but no firm offers have been made yet."
The warehouse has a custom-built garment-hanging unit which opened in 1997 and has the capacity to hold 2.5 million garments on storage equipment worth £3 million.
Earlier this year Mr Thomas met with Welsh Government Economy Minister Edwina Hart and urged the Welsh Government to work closely with the local authority to ensure a successful purchaser for the site and he has met with Ms Hart again this week to express the urgency of situation.
Mr Thomas: "I have again this week met with the economy minister and expressed the urgency of the situation at the Capel Hendre warehouse.
"While there has been some interest in purchasing the factory, which could perhaps bring greater employment opportunities in the future, we must look also at the short time interests of the workforce."
He said his office had spoken to both Dewhirst and the company which is marketing the factory to potential buyers.
"I now have a greater sense of how the Welsh Government can support the sale of the factory. With that in mind, I have proposed to facilitate a meeting between the minister and her officials with representatives of the seller so that we can get the best possible action plan in place to secure a buyer as soon as possible.
"My priority is the workforce and retaining the 114 jobs in Carmarthenshire. I won't stop until that's done," he added.
Mr Edwards MP added: "The Dewhirst factory is located in a crucial strategic place for potential buyers. The Capel Hendre site is located on the gateway to Ireland — the UK's greatest export market.
"It's crucial that this state of the art factory remains open and these jobs are protected."