More than 70 former Laura Ashley workers are set to return to the clothing industry following Fashion Enter’s decision to open a new production facility in Powys

More than 70 former Laura Ashley workers are set to return to the clothing industry following Fashion Enter’s decision to open a new production facility in Powys

Training and technical skills provider Fashion Enter (FEL) is to open a new production facility in Wales with support from the Welsh Government after securing a major contract with online fashion retailer Asos.

Established in 2006, Fashion Enter offers multiple training and technical skills development services, encompassing the entire design to production cycle.

It has received funding from the Welsh Government's Economy Futures Fund and will use the cash injection to establish its new factory in Newtown, Powys. 

Following crucial support from the ReAct wage subsidy programme, FEL has also hired 77 former Laura Ashley workers who will initially help to produce 10,000 garments a week for the Asos contract from FEL's new base. This will increase to 20,000 a week within a month.

"Many of the stitchers we have hired had loyally worked at Laura Ashley for more than 35 years. I couldn't rest knowing they were going to lose their jobs. You also don't find experienced stitchers of that number anywhere anymore, they are like gold dust," FEL CEO Jenny Holloway said.

FEL will be based in the Royal Welsh Warehouse, known locally as the Pryce Jones building. The landmark building is owned by the Potter Group of Welshpool, who have also invested in the building to facilitate its use by FEL.

In addition, FEL will also provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for luxury clothing brand Private White VC.

Holloway added FEL is still looking to hire an additional 30 stitchers and its "order book is currently full."

The organisation also plans to increase local employment and invest in local skills levels by establishing a textile academy in Newtown over the coming months, and is committed to promoting good sustainability practice, and reducing its own environmental impacts along with that of its partners and clients. In addition, FEL has signed up to the code of practice on ethical employment in supply chains.