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New firm to revive Northeast production

Three former suppliers to Marks & Spencer aim to recruit more than 100 young people as part of plans to revive a manufacturing hub in the Northeast.

The AMA (Apparel Manufacturing Academy) Group has been created by former Claremont Garments directors Julie and David Price and Paul Watts.

The trio, with fellow directors Steven Price and Steve Lawson, are opening a 45,000 sq ft factory at Whitehouse Business Park in Peterlee, Durham, which will begin making garments including shirts, dresses and trousers by early April. The team are recruiting a mix of young people who will be trained in-house with the support of East Durham College, alongside experienced machinists.

The company will be split into three divisions: contract manufacturing for high street retailers, supermarkets and designer brands; commercial training for suppliers within the retail sector; and a consultancy service for retailers focusing on design and garment development.

Julie Price, who in the 10-plus years since Claremont Garments closed down has run her own lingerie business, Essensual Lingerie, said she was targeting retailers who were dissatisfied with the inflexibility and rising costs of manufacturing in the Far East.

“We’ve developed an ambitious and exciting business plan which over the coming months will become a reality. I genuinely believe we can lead the revival of the industry, not just in East Durham but the Northeast as a whole,” she said.

Watts, who used to work as an HR consultant and is now overseeing the recruitment drive, added: “The jobs we’re creating are skilled and we are keen to employ young people in the 16 to 24 age bracket who want to learn and share our long-term vision for the company, as well as experienced workers who were employed in the sector in years gone by and would be interested in coming back.”

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