There's more bad news for the struggling United Kingdom clothing industry with the announcement of the planned closure of a workwear factory in South Yorkshire.

William Sugden and Sons Ltd is to close its Barnsley factory, which employs 88 people. Some jobs will be moved to the group's main centre of operations in the United Kingdom at Wakefield in West Yorkshire, but most of the production will be lost to overseas manufacturing plants.

Mr John Donner, deputy managing director of the parent company - Wakefield Shirt Company - blamed continuing pressure on British clothing manufacturers for lower prices and competition from cheaper manufacturing plants abroad.

"The UK clothing industry is going through a very tough time," he said. "The Wakefield Shirt Company and its two subsidiaries - Double Two Ltd and William Sugden and Sons Ltd - have over the past few years had to close a number of factories in this country and replace production in lower cost countries."

He said he would love to maintain all production in the United Kingdom but the market at the moment would not allow it. Turnover had been going down at the group, wholly as a result of price cuts, even though it was successfully winning new business.

The 88 staff employed at the Barnsley factory have entered into a 30-day period of consultation with management at the company. John Donner said the intention was to offer 15 of the staff jobs at the Wakefield factory, where a small rapid production unit would be set up for workwear.

While the bulk of workwear production would be concentrated overseas - where the company had long term partners - the rapid production unit would enable the company to respond to last minute demand from customers. It would also service the dwindling number of customers who would source only garments produced in the UK, he said. The unit will produce shirts, blouses, trousers, jackets and coats.

All production for the group in this country will now be concentrated at Wakefield, where Double Two shirts are produced. The Wakefield factory employs just over 300 people.

"We greatly value the work that has been put into the company over the years by our employees. Unfortunately this is more bad news in an industry that has had a lot of bad news recently," said John Donner. "The market is very tough indeed."

By Clive Hinchliffe