Business Today

Custom glove makers Chester Jefferies to close

For over 85 years, Chester Jefferies has been making gloves fit for a queen. But now the business that once supplied the royal family is closing, with the owner saying many young people lack the interest or patience to take up the ‘old-fashioned craft’.

Mark Pearce, who has worked at Chester Jefferies glove manufacturers in Gillingham, Dorset since he was 14, along with his father who founded the company, predicted that the bespoke industry in Britain could cease to exist within 10 years.

Pearce says that despite spending “thousands” educating young people, the amount of time it takes to become qualified enough to become glovemakers, and the low salary apprentices usually receive, meant that most young people not long in the field.

On the week of the Queen’s Jubilee, he said: “For a period of years we have tried to retain young people, but in the glove industry it takes six to nine months to become a decent machinist and cut a few “of gloves in the right way. The apprenticeship lasts five years and young people were not willing to get a low salary to make sure they were qualified – we couldn’t hold them.”

In the earlier days of Chester Jefferies, Pearce said the factory employed about 52 people and described the atmosphere as “buzzing.” Today, despite several attempts to recruit young people, he says there is no incentive to learn the trade or work in a factory.

Pearce said another reason for the company closing was the existing staff who had worked at the family business and wanted to retire.

“I understand that glove making is an old fashioned craft and to be honest, young people can earn a lot more in other areas and in the end they have to make the best decision for themselves.”

Dents Gloves, a glovemaker company founded in 1777 that specializes in leather gloves, says that while business has been good this year, factories in Britain are closing quickly