South West Wales

Ex-Remploy staff back at work on Swansea factory site

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Media captionEx-Remploy workers reopen old factory as co-operative

Seven former Remploy workers are back in work after investing their redundancy money in a co-operative on the same site in Swansea.

The Forestfach plant was one of seven Remploy factories in Wales shut after the UK government decided they were not financially viable.

Accommodation Furniture Solutions will assemble and make furniture for public and private sectors customers.

The firm hopes to employ at least 25 people within two years.

The seven workers back at work were among 52 who lost their jobs when the factory in Fforestfach shut last year.

Two hundred and eighty workers lost their jobs when the Remploy plants in Wales closed.

'Ashes of Remploy'

It marked the end of an era which began in 1946 when the company opened its first factory in Bridgend employing disabled ex-miners to make furniture and violins.

Ray Donovan, one of the ex-employees who has invested in the business at Fforestfach, said: "It's a job. It's a long-term sustainable job. It's in the ashes of Remploy. There's a business here. There's a market here.

"Remploy was a huge industry in Great Britain. They closed that industry. The market place was still there for the factories supplying that market. It was a shame."

Accommodation Furniture Solutions managing director Kevin Edwards said: "It was a huge blow, both for everybody that was here - there was 52 here originally - that was very upsetting for them and the community.

"But we were absolutely convinced we could make a business out of this and that's what we wanted to do."

The firm received funding and IT training from the Welsh government and is supported by the Wales Cooperative Centre (WCC).

Rhian Edwards, of WCC, said: "Their business plan shows they will employ about 25 people so we want to help them get to that size.

"There's definitely a trade. They've had lots of local authority interest, public sector interest and private sector interest, so the future's really bright for this business."

Their first job for the workers is to begin assembling kitchen cabinets.

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