A DISTRIBUTION centre employing hundreds of North-East workers has secured a deal with a luxury luggage brand.
Clipper, which operates a factory in Wynyard Park, near Billingham, will handle stock for Antler.
Bosses say the company's suitcases and bags will be delivered to Teesport, near Middlesbrough, and processed in the region for global wholesalers, retailers and online customers.
Clipper's 342,000sq ft plant already looks after Asda's clothing range and imports most of its products through Teesport.
The base is capable of employing up to 650 workers at full capacity.
Derek Hunt, Clipper operations director, said the Antler deal represented another high-profile coup.
He said: “Antler are an exciting addition to our work.
“We will look to remove the risk from the supply chain process while offering the business and its customers a first-class experience.”
Julia Reynolds, Antler chief executive, said it had no hesitation in choosing the North-East as a key base for its work.
She added: “Antler is a great British brand, which is well regarded at home and overseas.
“With our stockists ranging from well-known high street chains, to independent retailers, it was vital we found a flexible solution to match our ambition and reflect our quality.
“We needed something that would also allow for growth of online sales, and look forward to a successful partnership with Clipper.”
The distribution centre, which was praised in a visit last year by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, can process up to 240 lorry loads of garments every 24 hour.
It supplies Asda's main centres in Washington, Wearside, Lymedale, in Staffordshire, and Brackmills, in Northampton, and includes 43,000 metres of rails for clothes and a steam tunnel to remove creases.
ANTLER - A BRIEF HISTORY:
- The company's history dates back to 1865, when John Boultbee Brooks began making horse and bicycle saddles.
- In 1914, it entered the passenger luggage market with leather wardrobe trunks for ocean liners and trunks to for cars.
- A keen interest in wildlife led it to adopt the stag's head and Antler luggage branding.
- During the Second World War, Antler made haversacks, webbing belts and military equipment.
- After the war, it returned to luggage, developing soft sided products and combinations of soft and hard materials and fabrics in suitcases.