An Marks & Spencer spokeswoman said the Claudy office was set up in 2002 as part of the Zip project, in collaboration with supplier Desmonds, as a dedicated sourcing facility for childrenswear. Buyers there negotiate directly with suppliers and manufacturers and make all the supplier arrangements. Last year, Marks & Spencer bought Desmonds' share in the operation.
'We conducted a review of our buying operations and decided that we had to have a standardised buying approach. The Claudy operation was no longer economically viable,' the spokeswoman said.
It is understood that the facility will close in December. The retailer will conduct a 90 day consultation with the operation's employees to determine whether they can be relocated. The spokeswoman said that there are store vacancies in the area and that some employees may be moved to the head office in London, or to buying offices overseas.