1. ITV Report

Is Wales working? Welsh manufacturing 'on the up'

Corgi make socks, knitwear and now home accessories. Photo:

Wales's economy is more reliant on the manufacturing sector than other nations and regions. The industry provides one in three Welsh jobs, so it's important for Wales's manufacturers to be on the right track.

Corgi Hosiery has been making socks in Ammanford for 120 years and in recent years it's had to reshape its business to be fit for the challenges it faces in the modern world.

The business started with work socks for local colliers, but now it's a luxury brand producing hand-knitted wool, cotton and cashmere socks and knitwear, stocked in some of the UK's most prestigious stores.

The company is now run by Rhys Jones's great-great-grandchildren Chris Jones and Lisa Wood. Credit: ITV Wales

The company is run by brother and sister team Chris Jones and Lisa Wood, who are the great-great-grandchildren of the company's founder.

Lisa, who is also design director, says business is looking good and they've been working with designer brands including Burberry and Fred Perry.

I think with every business you've got to change with the times. In my grandfather's day it was predominantly socks, then my father introduced the knitwear which helped the next generation and I think when Chris and I joined the business nearly 17 years ago now we've had to adapt to the changing market.

We've introduced quite a lot of new products. We're doing the children's wear - both knitwear and socks - which is one of the newest things. We've also introduced home accessories - blankets, cushion covers, all in cashmere of course...

It's made a massive difference. The business year on year has been almost doubling in size.

– Lisa Wood, joint managing director.
The company employs around 50 people, mostly from the local area. Credit: ITV Wales

The business employs around 50 people, most of whom work on the shop floor. It's part of the recent Welsh export success story, with strong demand in America, Japan and China.

We sat down, worked out what we wanted to do and started putting the investment in place that we needed to do that. It took about four years before we even started seeing the smallest bit of improvement and then the last four years it really started to snowball. So year on year things are improving.

I think generally the outlook for the whole of the UK is good. Compared to most countries, we're doing better now. We've really got something we can sell, you know, 'Made in the UK' is a good brand. So we've got an edge. In the past there were all these countries that could make things cheaper, but people don't necessarily want things made cheaper. So I think we've got something to sell. We're on the up...I think that applies to the UK and Wales.

– Chris Jones, joint managing director

The company draws on more than a century of tradition and for those who are working there the future is looking very bright.

The company is based in Ammanford. Credit: ITV Wales

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