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    07 September, 2006


    As soon as we heard the devastating news about the planned closure of the Burberry factory yesterday Chris Bryant MP and I went to the factory in Treorchy and spoke with workers as they left the plant. We also saw the GMB union representative and then had a meeting with Burberry’s UK management.

    Following our meeting Burberry’s management have agreed to meet representatives of the Welsh Assembly Government.

    The company said it was willing to talk to the Welsh Assembly Government about whether any grant support that could be available would make a difference to their review of their polo shirt business.

    We wanted to ensure that Burberry’s were aware that the Assembly Government had schemes in place which could support companies such as property and technology and training grants, regional selecfive assistance and so forth.

    I spoke to both First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies yesterday and they have agreed to ensure that all avenues are explored. Officials were making contact with the company yesterday to try to set up the meeting.

    However even with additional support, Burberry’s have made it clear that they could produce polo shirts far more cheaply in Asia.

    The Burberry’s management told us the decision was not yet final, so we have to look at every option to try to keep the factory open. But it’s not going to be easy.

    Burberry has clearly been conducting a confidential internal review for some time, looking at the cost of their production in Treorchy and the potential savings they could make if they combined polo shirt production at another plant, possibly in Asia or Latin America. They told us explicitly that production costs in Asia meant potentially huge savings for them.

    The Burberry factory in Ynyswen, Treorchy, still known locally by many people as Polikoff’s, has been associated with the clothing industry for 70 years. Its loss will be a major blow to the community. 310 people currently work there, and make up about a third of Burberry’s UK manufacturing base.

    Meanwhile, Burberry’s are making good profits.

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