Portas knickers company goes under


Mary Portas and knickers

A family firm that manufactures underwear for high street brands and is backed by retail expert Mary Portas has gone into administration with the loss of 33 jobs.

Headen & Quarmby, a 79-year-old business based in Middleton, Greater Manchester, was chosen by Ms Portas to make underwear for her Kinky Knickers brand.

She launched the underwear venture - chronicled in a 2012 television series - to see if the once-thriving British textile industry could be revived after being decimated by the availability of cheap imports.

But today business restructuring firm BDO announced that Headen & Quarmby had gone into administration and all its employees had been made redundant. It is seeking a buyer to acquire the business as a going concern.

BDO business restructuring partner Kerry Bailey said: "A drop in post-Christmas orders from key customers and a decline in sales volumes has significantly affected the business and resulted in a deterioration of its working capital position.

"However, we are doing everything we can to try to secure a future for the business, and we are hopeful of securing a sale."

Ms Portas created her brand as part of a bid to revive the British clothing industry in 2012 and it was documented in Channel 4 series Mary's Bottom Line. Its products are sold at a range of stores including Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser.

She reopened the sewing room floor at the Headen & Quarmby factory, taking on and training apprentices to start a new production line in an area which once supported a thriving garment trade.

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