Smyth & Gibson in Derry closes with loss of 34 jobs

Smyth & Gibson label
Image caption The company said every step had been taken to save the Derry factory

The shirt maker Smyth & Gibson is to close its Londonderry factory with the loss of 34 jobs.

The company manufactured for high-end brands, but has lost a number of key customers in the last year.

Sam Morrison, director of Smyth & Gibson, said it was "a very sad day" and that every step had been taken to avoid closure.

But a volatile retail market meant the business was no longer viable, he said.

Twenty of the staff affected have already found new jobs with O'Neills, the sportswear manufacturer.

"We will continue to provide support to all employees as we approach our closure date in May," Mr Morrison said.

Image caption There were once more than 40 shirt factories in Derry

President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Brian McGrath said: "This is very sad news for the city.

"The shirt factories are a huge part of our city's heritage and Smyth and Gibson is one of our last remaining shirt factories.

"It is welcome news that another company has offered permanent jobs to some of those affected, but there will still be a lot of families worrying this evening.

"Our thoughts go out to the employees and the owners at this time."

Derry was historically a centre for shirt-making, with the industry developing from the late 19th century.

By the 1920s there were more than 40 shirt factories employing thousands of workers, with thousands more servicing the industry from their own homes.

There were still hundreds of people employed in clothing manufacturing up to the early 2000s.

However, the industry has been all but wiped out in the face of global competition.

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