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Portas' Kinky Knickers boost Manchester factory

The British factory used to manufacture Mary Portas’ range of Kinky Knickers is to quadruple its volumes following the product’s success.

Headen & Quarmby, based in Middleton, Great Manchester, plans to manufacture 400,000 units of the Kinky Knickers in 2013 after securing contracts with eight major high street retailers including Asos, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Next as well as 25 indies who will all stock the range.

Initially Headen & Quarmby was contracted to manufacture 5,000 of the knickers as part of Channel 4 documentary The Bottom Line, in which Portas produced the range for London department store Liberty.

The factory took on eight local people, offering them NVQ training qualifications, to meet the order.

Headen & Quarmby managing director David Moore said: “Since the media exposure, the country’s retailers have really got behind ‘Kinky Knickers’ and, by the end of this current season, we’ll have sent 85,000 units out of the Middleton factory and into stores all over the UK, many already selling out.”

“We’ve introduced five new colours to the range and are currently working with Mary and her team to design some exciting new products for the spring 13 offer.”

Headen & Quarmby now plans to take on 32 new staff over the next six months, comprising a mixture of skilled workers and apprentices, taking the total number of factory workers to 74.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service has been working with Headen & Quarmby for nearly five years, by providing ongoing management training and help with strategy development.

Tim Fox, manufacturing adviser at MAS, said: “The TV programme has created a new opportunity for Headen & Quarmby, but there’s not many companies who could have seized it with such enthusiasm and turned it into such a success story.”

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