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Church News

Clerical clothing firm Wippell & Co to close by the end of the year

by Premier Journalist

Wippell & Co, that supplies clothing to clergy around the world, is set to close by the end of the year after losing thousands of pounds during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Exeter-based company makes handmade cassocks and altar frontals among other clerical garments and also supplies graduation and mortarboards.

Founded in 1789, the firm opened branches in London and New Jersey, US.

Robin Richardson, chairman and director of Wippell & Co, told the BBC: "It's an incredibly sad day and I want to pay tribute to all my colleagues.

"We will be supporting everyone through this difficult period. The company is committed to providing fair redundancy packages and giving everyone many months' notice ahead of closure.

"Most people, including incredibly skilled embroiderers, seamstresses and cutters, have worked here for decades, with many approaching retirement age.

"I want to personally acknowledge everyone's dedication and craftsmanship."

People have described the closing as the “end of an era”.

Writing on Twitter, Bishop of Crediton, Rt Rev Jackie Searle said: “This is sad news, I bought my first cassock from Exeter Wippells and will be very sorry to see them go.”

Andy Hartley suggested Brexit was an additional reason for the clousure.  “I worked for this company doing summer graduation ceremonies for many years (including a random Saturday last year). This was not only the pandemic but also Brexit because a lot of staff came from the EU and those numbers are no longer there. Very sad day.”

Rev Neil Alan, Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, also wrote on Twitter: “The first Anglican cassock I bought 28 years ago near the end of divinity school was custom tailored by Wippell. My second one was purchased only last year from J&M, also in England. Well done, good and faithful creators of beauty.”

The firm said support and consultations around the redundancy process are now underway with 44 employees expected to be affected.

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