DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Bridgwater’s Mulberry factory today (March 21) to see how the company has been benefiting from Government funding.
The luxury handbag factory started up its Bridgwater branch in July 2013 and is just weeks away from being at full capacity, thanks to £2.5 million of support from the Government's Regional Growth Fund.
The investment will be used to help recruit and train new staff, doubling Mulberry’s UK capacity, and has created 300 jobs for the area.
The Deputy Prime Minister toured the factory and met apprentices pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing).
Clegg said: “I’m really impressed by the craftsmanship and skill shown by workers at Mulberry and I’m delighted the Government is able to offer assistance to help the company expand. “The Regional Growth Fund is a pot of money where we say if companies can prove to us that they will be able to create jobs that will last, we will seek to help them.
“Mulberry could have easily chosen to set up another factory outside the UK, but they chose Somerset. By supporting companies who invest in the UK we are safeguarding jobs in Britain.
“We need to tackle snobbery regarding apprenticeships and it’s also important to get more women taking up careers in STEM.”
Staffing at the Bridgwater factory is evenly split 50/50 between men and women, who both do the same types of jobs for the same pay.
A bag can take between three to five hours to make. The factory produces around 1,200 bags a week. Every now and then, staff will cheer when they reach their targets, because it means they get a bonus.
Mulberry group supply director Ian Scott said: “Bridgwater is very significant to the chain and this factory is our largest leather goods manufacturing site in the UK.
“The town has a good manufacturing legacy; there was a lingerie factory here and Clarks. The skills are already here and people from Bridgwater are motivated and enthusiastic.”
The factory will be Mulberry’s second in Somerset to manufacture the company’s luxury handbags. Added to Mulberry’s own investment, the total investment in the new factory is approximately £7.5 million.