Jobs lost as Tog 24 closes

ONE of Spen's longest standing manufacturing plants has closed down – leaving 30 people jobless.

The boss of troubled Heckmondwike firm Tog 24 said it was a sad day for British manufacturing when the decision was taken to axe its production department, which has been producing outdoor clothing at Spen Vale Mills in Station Lane since 1968.

Brian Ward, who is joint managing director of Mileta Sports which trades as Tog 24, with his brother Ian, said it was a difficult decision to have to make, but a number of factors had contributed to the firm's decline – the recent good weather being one of them.

"It has been exceptionally dry since February, so there has been little demand for the waterproof jackets and the fleeces we produce," said Mr Ward.

"Stock has been piling up and we are not able to sell it."

He said competition from companies manufacturing products overseas was another contributing factor.

"Wage rates are much higher in the UK so we are already at a disadvantage to our competitors like Berghaus and The North Face, who have been manufacturing in the Far East for the last 10 years or more," he said.

"In addition, the raw materials that we need are not available in the UK so we have been importing them in order to carry on manufacturing the products over here.

"We were already manufacturing 90 per cent of our products overseas so from now on we will be manufacturing 100 per cent overseas."

Mr Ward stressed that the offices, shops and distribution side of the business would remain unchanged.

He added: "We had to think about the other people who work in the company and if we carried on too long we would run the risk of bringing other people down as well. We didn't feel we had an option.

"It has been a distressing time because we have known some people for more than 30 years, but this has been building up for a few years and the recession definitely hasn't helped.

"It is also very distressing that we have had no support from the government. If we had been in Germany – they have a splendid scheme where they pay employees say two or three days a week and the company pay the rest. This would have helped us.

"This represents the demise of British industry on a small scale. We are all extremely upset."