AFTER 60 years of manufacturing clothes here in Barnsley, Denby Dale Clothing is having to move its operations abroad - leaving employees who’ve been with the company for decades without work.

Founded in 1963 as a subsidiary of a larger company before going independent in 1965, the family-run manufacturer - based in Barugh Green - has been producing businesswear and schoolwear locally.

However, due to increased financial pressures, as foreign producers keep providing cheaper and cheaper options, the company has finally had to shut off its sewing machines and make the loyal workforce redundant.

Director Charles Mallinson told the Chronicle: “It’s the end of an era.

“It’s been really hard, we almost subsidised UK manufacturing before by moving some stuff offshore.

“The UK manufacturing side has been just a bit of an extra service to back-up our offshore offer - it’s not a profit centre, that’s for sure.

“We’re just purely making offshore now, sending fabric out from here to the Far East and then bringing it back in.

“We’ll keep that going for as long as we can but you never know what’s round the corner as it doesn’t get any easier.

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“It’s unfortunately had to be moved offshore because of the cost of the wages and other costs in this country.

“I’m not saying our workers should only be paid minimum wage but it’s all we’ve been able to afford.

“Then obviously when the minimum wage goes up by ten per cent year on year it becomes impossible to fund.

“That, among other costs, has been an influence.”

To thank the staff, and celebrate the dedication of retiring Karen Ruth - who has been with the company her entire working life - Charles and his wife Emma bought flowers, cards and bottles of wine for each member of the sewing team.

Over some cake, the management and staff joined together to share stories of the company.

“A company is made up of its employees and they’ve all been good,” Charles added.

“We had up to 60 people working here back in the noughties and they’ve all contributed.

“Obviously most have them retired or moved elsewhere, but I’d like to thank them all, everyone who’s worked here over the 60-odd years.”

While Karen was already prepared to retire and move on with the next part of her life, she still worries about her colleagues and friends.

She said: “I started when I left school.

“It’s a long time to work at one place, but I’ve never known any different.

“It’s been good, I’ve met a lot of good people through the years.

“We used to be chocker-block full with girls mainly all from around the village, so it was a good employment for people.

“It’s been changing because people started leaving to get other jobs, and they did have to make some redundant and it’s become smaller.

“It’s a shame that it’s had to come to this.

“I would’ve retired anyway but it’s a shame for the girls who would still want to be coming here to work.”

Meanwhile, others like 53-year-old Debbie Crossland, who has been with the company for 19 years - one of the shortest-serving employees - is now having to look for other work.

“We’ve all only done sewing up to now.

“When we started sewing you thought it was going to be a job for life because there were loads of sewing factories in town and nearby, but one by one they’ve just gone.

“You thought ‘we’re sewing for Marks and Spencer, that’s going to last forever’, but it all changed.

“It’s all gone abroad for whatever’s cheapest, not for the good quality.

“We know customers who’ve come and said they loved the work from here, it’s all good quality, but they’re not willing to pay extra than what they’d pay abroad.

“It doesn’t matter what quality you achieve, if they can get it cheaper then they’ll get it cheaper.”