Örkelljunga Textil AB has announced that it plans to process nylon at a plant that it bought in Latvia last December. The purchase of the synthetic textile plant in Daugavpils, has been kept secret up to now, but is considered one of Sweden's biggest investments in the country.

The factory will manufacture women's nylon stockings, socks and panty hose.

"It is a big advantage to have our own processing plant when we are talking about these sort of products," said Lars Erik Johansson, part owner of Örkelljunga Textil AB and who handled negotiations with the former owner of the factory, Rhodia Industrial Yarns.

"We are now up to full production and within the year will be up to 200 employees."

Reckoned by number of employees, this is the biggest Swedish investment by a textile company up to now in Latvia, reported Dagens Industri. The owner Örkelljunga Textil AB has been well-known as a clothing wholesaler for the past 25 years.

Latvia's wage levels have made it possible to produce at considerably lower costs than in Western Europe. Daugavpils is Latvia's second largest city, but only one eighth of the inhabitants are Letts - Russians predominate.

During the Soviet era, a large synthetic yarn plant, Daugtex, operated in the city with 6,000 employees. When Latvia gained independence 10 years ago, Daugtex was privatised. The unit making women's nylons was sold, and bought by Örkelljunga Textil AB just before Christmas last year.

By Penny Leese