New Balance vows to stay put in UK

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New Balance, one of the world's biggest sportswear firms, has shrugged off Brexit fears and committed to the UK, where it employs around 600 workers.

Chief executive Rob DeMartini told the Press Association that New Balance - based in Boston, Massachusetts - is staying put and the future of the firm's factory in Flimby, Cumbria, is secure.

"We have faced plenty of political and economic challenges before and we are committed to the UK, our European headquarters are here.

"We're not going anywhere. We have a big business here, we have a long standing commitment to manufacturing in the UK, that will continue. We won't be pushed out or scared out by regulation or economic factors."

The Flimby factory employs over 240 people and the firm's European headquarters are situated in Warrington, where it employs over 160 more.

Mr DeMartini added that Brexit will bring the US and the UK closer together, "we've been friends a long, long time", he said.

New Balance, best known for its footwear and more recently for bagging a kit deal with Liverpool Football Club (LFC), turned over 3.8 billion US dollars in sales last year.

In the UK, the group has just opened a flagship retail outlet on London's Oxford Street and the chief executive flagged that Britain is one of the New Balance's fastest growing markets.

"The UK is one of our largest growing markets, which is atypical for a developed market.

"Between the work we've done with track and field and the work we've done with LFC, we've really got the business moving in the right direction."

The privately owned company was founded in Boston in 1906 and has been owned by billionaire Jim Davis and his family since 1972. New Balance has no plans for a stock market flotation, Mr DeMartini explained.

"We love the fact that we're private and Jim Davis is fiercely independent.

"It's not my decision, but we've been through tough periods, if we can fuel our own growth, what's the point?"