HRH The Countess of Wessex Officially Opens the David Nieper Academy

HRH The Countess of Wessex was welcomed to Alfreton in Derbyshire today, as a crowd of over one thousand people gathered to greet her on her official visit to open David Nieper Academy and take a tour of the David Nieper fashion house.

The Countess was welcomed to the Academy by Headteacher, Dr Kathryn Hobbs, Chair of Trustees, Christopher Nieper, employer partners, teaching staff and students.

The Academy, formerly known as Alfreton Grange and Mortimer Wilson has been at the heart of the Alfreton community since the 1930s and recently started a new chapter in its history, when David Nieper Education Trust took over the governance of the school in September 2016.  Since then, the school has moved into a brand new building and doubled student numbers.

Dr Kathryn Hobbs, Headteacher David Nieper Academy commented:

“What an exciting time our students have had today!  We would like to thank The Countess on behalf of everyone at the school for taking the time to visit and officially open our Academy.

This visit marks a real milestone in the history of our school, which has been on an incredible journey striving to become a school of which the whole community can be proud.


The visit by The Countess has made this an occasion that all of our students will remember and cherish for years to come.”

The Countess made a second stop in Alfreton at the David Nieper fashion house, where she was given a tour of the sewing rooms and presented with a gift by the company.

The Countess is Patron of the London College of Fashion and also works to support the Campaign for Wool with the Prince of Wales; The Countess also supports many prominent children’s charities including NSPCC and the Wessex Youth Trust established with her husband the Earl of Wessex in 1999

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper Ltd and Chair of Trustees at the David Nieper Academy commented:

“It has been a great privilege to receive The Countess at both our Academy and the fashion house today. The David Nieper Education Trust was established to forge closer links between business and education, giving children a privileged connection with local employers and a career enriched curriculum.

We are incredibly proud of all the teaching staff, students, employer partners and also staff from our own business who have worked so hard to make the Academy such a success.

We are grateful to The Countess for her support and endeavour to continue our work to ensure that all young people have equal access to good education regardless of where they live.”




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Year 7 Student Challenges David Nieper Design Team

The team at David Nieper fashion house in Derbyshire is challenged every season to come up with a new collection of luxury styles for discerning customers all over the world. However, this season the team was tasked with one of their biggest design challenges to date, when they were asked to redesign and reconstruct a school uniform for a Year 7 student, starting at the David Nieper Academy. 

Laura Worthington measuring up for Libby’s new uniform.

Libby Whitehouse, age 11 suffers from a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) which means she is hypersensitive to wearing clothes and wouldn’t normally be able to tolerate something as restrictive as a school uniform.

David Nieper, Managing Director, Christopher Nieper challenged the grading team to come up with a design solution that worked for Libby so she felt as comfortable and smart in her school uniform as her classmates.

SPD is a neurophysiological condition where the brain and nervous system have trouble processing or integrating stimulus. It is common for children with SPD to be intolerant to textures and often they are not be able to wear certain fabrics, or have to wear clothes inside out to reverse the seams.

Libby’s mum, Sally Whitehouse commented:

“It’s daunting for any child to start a brand new school, but for Libby because of her SPD we were worried that the whole experience would be overwhelming, we knew Libby’s main concern would be her uniform. She was dreading wearing a shirt, tie and blazer as she knew the sensations would be unbearable, but at the same time she was adamant she wanted to be the same as everyone else.

Alison and her team have been so supportive in creating a uniform that is just right for Libby – it has made starting a new school so much easier.”

It is the job of the David Nieper grading team to ensure that clothes are made to be the perfect fit. So, after spending time with Libby and her mum they started the redesign by taking apart a David Nieper Academy school uniform and piecing it together in a way that Libby would find comfortable.

A regular sized blazer was no good for Libby as she found it too constricting. The team selected an oversized blazer which was taken apart and shortened; more panels were added to the lining which was reshaped to give her more room around the arms, this allowed more space to move without the fabric pulling.

The trousers were trickier – school trousers are required to be durable and hardwearing, usually made from a synthetic reinforced fabric such as polyester. Libby was unable to wear this type of fabric, so after several attempts at reshaping the trousers the team opted for soft jersey trousers from the David Nieper collection, these were quite similar to the fabric of Libby’s sportswear and after alteration were a perfect fit.

Alison Kelly, Head of Grading said:

“It was really important that Libby felt comfy, she has enough to contend with starting a new school without worrying about her uniform. Outside school Libby likes to wear sportswear and soft leggings, her parents often have to ‘break in’ her clothes and by wearing them first, to soften the fabrics before she can wear them next to her skin. It was our goal to create soft linings and a roomy fit within the garment, while keeping it looking smart enough for school.”

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper commented:

“We think Libby looks great! She is very smart and can wear her uniform with pride. The staff at David Nieper Academy has done a superb job supporting Libby to help make the transition to her new school as smooth as possible. We wish her all the very best at the David Nieper Academy.”

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The Derbyshire Dressmaking Gene Gives Boost to David Nieper Sewing Academy

The David Nieper Sewing Academy in Alfreton has seen an influx of new recruits this season with 10 new starts in the sewing room after scoring highly in their sewing skills assessment tests.

The Sewing Academy was set up in 2015 to address the chronic skills shortage in the UK’s fashion and textiles industry with the intention of developing specialist skills locally.  For decades the UK’s fashion industry has designed in the UK but manufactured collections overseas, leaving a lack of skilled British dressmakers.

The new team of dressmakers at David Nieper have come from a variety of backgrounds – some returning to dressmaking after career breaks, some totally new to the profession and several having recently graduated with university degrees in related subjects such as textiles. 

However, interestingly  one common element shared among the new trainees  is that several have had a mother, grandmother or family member that has either sewn as a hobby or professionally, many growing up to the sound of sewing machines at home.

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper commented:

“Dressmaking seems to be in the genes of Derbyshire people, perhaps unsurprisingly as this region was the heartland of the UK textiles industry for hundreds of years – with a rich industrial heritage of cotton spinning, silk throwing, lace making and framework knitting.”

The Derwent Valley UNESCO World Heritage site has one of the most highly concentrated clusters of mills in the UK. We do believe that some of the industrial heritage of the area has been carried down through to the community today, with a high percentage having a natural inclination for this type of work.

As part of the David Nieper recruitment for dressmakers, candidates are asked to complete a practical dexterity test or pin test which measures their speed, accuracy and hand to eye co-ordination to ensure they have the natural ability to develop dressmaking skills. Our last round of trainees in our Sewing Academy shows us that the Derbyshire dressmaking gene is alive and well!”

Lucy Eaton, a new trainee at the Sewing Academy and Fine Art a graduate from Sheffield Hallam University, took up sewing as a hobby several years ago, making her own clothes from commercial patterns with the help of her mum who is a lace maker.

Lucy commented:

“After only a few weeks’ training I’ve learned so much already!  I’ve wanted to do something creative and this is the perfect opportunity. It’s great working with really experienced dressmakers to learn all the essentials such as cross-stitch, overlock, lockstitch and bar tacking.

After starting work on paper patterns we progress through a range of different fabrics including; pure cotton, pure silk, viscose elastane and luxury wool.

It is definitely a challenge – A very high level of skill goes into making clothes from scratch.  I have found adding collars to be really tricky and it has taken a while to get positioning exactly right, but I do find that seeing the end result and knowing that I have made a beautiful garment that someone will wear to be hugely rewarding.”

The Sewing Academy acts as a platform for trainees to pursue a variety of careers in fashion manufacturing from dress making to pattern cutting, fabric cutting, design, knitwear and quality control.


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Young Designers Inspired by ‘Fashion through the Ages

Over one hundred primary school children aged 5-11, have taken part in the annual ‘Fashion for Free!’ design competition at David Nieper  fashion house in Alfreton.  The competition which is in its 8th year has been established to help encourage children to use their imaginations, be resourceful and learn how to create and make things.

The ‘fashion through the ages’ theme has sparked the imagination of children from local schools including Copthorne Church of England Junior School, Mundy Church of England Junior School, Swanwick Primary School and Woodbridge Primary School. 


Children were asked to create an item of clothing, hat or bag by re-using scraps of material, old clothes and unwanted odds and ends from around their homes and school to create an original design. The results were outstanding and the children produced a unique collection of cleverly thought out and beautifully created designs.

This year’s winners included Erin Bowden (5 ) from Swanwick Primary School who impressed the judges and was awarded first prize in the ‘Best Made’ garment category for her sixties inspired dress in striking monochrome black and white.

Effie Trower (5) from Munday Junior School was also given first place for the ‘Most Inventive’ design for her ragdoll, stylishly dressed in a hooped skirt, lace top and choker necklace.

 The first place in the ‘Most creative’ category went to Year 6 design duo Ethan and Louis from Woodbridge, who perfectly captured the spirit of the seventies by designing an outfit using a tie-dye technique to apply bright colours and bold patterns to their outfit.

There were also prizes awarded for overall school effort. Copthorne was voted ‘Most Creative’, Swanwick was nominated for ‘Best Made’ and Mundy Junior School won the place for ‘Most Inventive.’

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper Ltd commented:

“What a fantastic display of talent!  Some of these children are only 5 years old and their ideas and needlework skills are exceptional. It is really heartening to see the enthusiasm these children have shown for designing and making things.  

Sadly the UK has lost much of its manufacturing, so it is important to encourage the next generation to start making things again and instil in them a sense of resourcefulness and environmental responsibility.”


Prizes were awarded to the children by Dr Kathryn Hobbs, Headteacher of the  David Nieper Academy  and as part of the day’s activities the children were given an interactive tour of the David Nieper fashion house. They visited the sewing rooms and design studio, where they were able to watch designers and dressmakers at work, and they learned about how clothes are made from start to finish.

The children also had the opportunity to join in fun, craft and sewing activities during the day including button and bow making as well as practicing their cross stich, before the presentation of prizes.

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Derbyshire Top Design Talent Awarded by David Nieper Fashion House

A glitterati of young fashion talent packed Derby Theatre this week to showcase the work of the University of Derby fashion and textile design students, with a stunning parade of skillfully tailored  styles in a beautiful display of colour and fabric. 

The event culminated in prize giving, firstly for second year fashion and textile design students who had taken part in the prestigious David Nieper 2018 Fashion BA and Textile BA Scholarship. 

The students had been briefed to take inspiration from the work of American underground graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and design a capsule collection of four garments – one each for nightwear, evening wear, day wear and travel wear designed specifically for the elegant and discerning older woman.

In the fashion design category the standards were extremely high but with one clear winner – Emma Holmes was awarded first prize and a cheque for £500. In the textiles design category judges awarded three students for their exceptional work. Toni Hibberd was awarded first prize and was overall scholarship winner receiving a cheque for £1000, fellow students Carrie Murphy and Sarah Cobb were presented with runner-up awards and prize money.

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper commented:

“Creativity and fashion ingenuity is alive and well in Derbyshire! It is also fantastic to have several mature students amongst our winners, which shows it’s never too late to follow your dream career. This was a fantastic show and superb effort from all the students who participated.

We are also delighted to see our 2016 David Nieper Scholarship winner show her final year collection this evening, and win a host of awards including Best Portfolio and Best Collection – congratulations to Freya Whittaker, who has a very bright future ahead of her.”

Textile design student and overall winner of the David Nieper Scholarship 2018, Toni Hibberd commented:

“I am absolutely thrilled to win, it was a challenging brief but I enjoyed every moment, we had to gel the outlandish art of Basquiat with creating an elegant and stylish collection that would appeal to David Nieper customers.   

As a mature student it has been a big gamble for me to give up work, follow my passion and go back to school to learn textile design – but it has definitely paid off.   I’m doing something I love and winning this scholarship has really boosted my confidence in making my dream job a reality.”

Colin Thompson, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion at the University of Derby, said:

“The quality of work produced by our fashion and textile design students goes from strength to strength every year. Working to the brief of a professional fashion house such as David Nieper gives our students great real life work experience.

We were very impressed by the vision of the students who have been able to create really outstanding designs which are both incredibly creative and commercially sound. Well done to all of our winners.”



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David Nieper championing women in the workplace – from sewing room to boardroom

British fashion business David Nieper is supporting International Women’s Day 2018, through a photography campaign to mark the start of this year’s #pressforprogress movement championing the empowerment of women all over the world. The campaign captures some of the incredible women that have helped build the success story of the David Nieper fashion house.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a key date in the calendar celebrating social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally.


For over 55 years, David Nieper has championed the achievements of its 87% female workforce, giving recognition to both individual and collective contributions made by staff. The company is predominantly female; the majority of key roles are secured by women who account for almost all of the senior management team, as well as skilled production work.

David Nieper has over the decades created a unique work environment which allows women to thrive. Staff are supported not only in their own professional capacity in the workplace but also within their community and family.


David Nieper prioritises the issues that matter most to female staff, for example the future of local children through the establishment of the David Nieper Academy.  The family company is the first private fashion business to form a Government approved ‘multi-academy-trust’ and has taken the unprecedented step of sponsoring a secondary school to help raise the level of education and skills in the area.

Additionally, the company appreciates its female workers’ family commitments and offers more flexible and part-time hours especially around school hours and term times for parents and carers.

Diane Marshall, is a good example of the company’s approach to promoting women. She started in the company’s call center 25 years ago and has been promoted from within several times, she is now Director of Manufacturing.

Diane commented:

“Here at David Nieper, since day one we have supported our female workforce by equipping them with skills and education, offering independence and the opportunity to follow a career of their choice from dressmaking to IT, finance, retail, logistics, HR and marketing.

Handing down specialist skills and ensuring a good education for both our staff and students at the David Nieper Academy is the best legacy we can leave to ensure economic and social freedom for generations of women to come.”

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director, David Nieper Ltd is truly a man in a woman’s world but welcomes the success of his team. 

Christopher commented:

“I feel privileged to work with so many inspiring and competent women. They are the magic ingredient that makes our family business the success that it is.  The well-being of staff is paramount and as such we strive to ensure our team has a healthy balance between work and home life.”

David Nieper rewards staff loyalty. The company enjoys very low staff turnover and more than half its 280 staff have service records of 10+ years.




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David Nieper becomes first ever UK fashion manufacturer to break into Best 100 Companies list

David Nieper  in Derbyshire has become the first ever British fashion manufacturer to break into Britain’s prestigious ‘Best 100 Companies to Work For’ list published for 2018 by The Sunday Times.


Decades of manufacturing overseas has decimated the UK fashion manufacturing industry, which has shrunk by over 90% percent since the seventies.  So for David Nieper, a family run fashion manufacturing firm this recognition is a truly remarkable achievement.

The independent and confidential survey which was conducted with David Nieper staff had one resounding message… ‘It’s great to work in British fashion!’  The company scored highly in the category of looking after staff wellbeing, with a consistently low staff turnover and 50% of the company holding long service awards of 10+ years.

In comparison to other businesses in the category, the company also scored very highly for ‘giving something back, indeed supporting staff and the local community is at the heart of everything the company does.  

The David Nieper approach is both altruistic and far reaching, not only creating jobs for local people, but also prioritising the educational welfare of local children. Within the last two years David Nieper has taken the unprecedented step of sponsoring the local secondary school to help raise the level of education and skills in the area.

Results from the survey reflected that staff are proud to work for the organisation and believe that it is run on sound moral principles and personal growth is encouraged. The survey also revealed that David Nieper staff are excited about their future prospects working for the company.

David Nieper Managing Director, Christopher Nieper commented:

“Our place in the Best 100 Companies list is credit to our wonderful staff.  We are one of the few fashion houses that have never taken production overseas and have always prioritised local people and local jobs, so we are incredibly proud to be the first ever British fashion manufacturer to be included.

I whole heartedly agree with our staff that this is a very exciting time to work in British fashion  and am excited about the future. Inclusion in the list goes a long way to marking the revival of the British fashion manufacturing and demonstrating that British fashion is a great place to work and build a career.”

Over the last 12 months, the David Nieper fashion house has had the most successful year in its 56 year history.  The company’s performance has been attributed to staff performance and an increased consumer appetite for British Made goods.  

The Sunday Times Best Companies programme started in 2001 and is based solely on the results of staff surveys. A broad cross section of the British workforce has been polled, with over a quarter of a million staff giving their opinions about their work environment and employers. 




For more media information contact: David Nieper Press Office

Lauraine Jordan, [email protected]

Tel: 07904 257687

David Nieper Academy student attempts new John O’Groats to Land’s End record

Kian Pearson, a Year 8 student from the David Nieper Academy in Alfreton is attempting to set a new record and become the youngest person in the UK to do the John O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) cycle in less than 20 days.

The 998 mile journey stretching between Great Britain’s extremities in the south east and north west takes most adult cyclists between 10 -14 days, Kian who will be just 12 when he does the marathon cycle plans to complete the journey in 14 days with his dad and uncle this July, in a bid to raise £10,000 sponsorship money for Dementia UK.

Kian is enduring an intensive fitness regime in preparation for his cycle ride and is training at Demon Gym UK  in Somercotes 6 days a week, as well as swimming regularly and doing practise rides from his home to Skegness. Kian’s grandad recently passed away following a difficult battle with dementia, prompting Kian to raise money to help other people with the illness.

Kian’s Dad, Ian Pearson commented:

“Kian has been effected by what happened to his Grandad and is 100 percent committed to completing this cycle ride in his memory, we are really proud of the effort he is putting into his training, diet and fundraising activities. We urgently need more sponsors to get involved and help Kian reach his target.”

 Dr Kathryn Hobbs, Headteacher at the David Nieper Academy commented:

“This is a huge physical and mental challenge for someone of Kian’s age – he is incredibly courageous and totally focused on his goal. It is rare for someone so young to take on such an ambitious challenge, so it would be fantastic if the local community and businesses could get involved and visit Kian’s fundraising page.”

Kian said:

“I saw my Grandad when he was poorly and it was awful – I just want to help other people who have this disease.”

Kian’s journey will start on 22 July this year from Scotland, to support his fundraising campaign visit

Kian’s Itinerary

Day 1 John O’Groats – The Crask (82 miles)

Day 2 The Crask – Inverness (66 miles)

Day 3 Inverness – Glencoe (83 miles)

Day 4 Glencoe – Loch Lomond (66 miles)

Day 5 Loch Lomond – Moffat (83 miles)

Day 6 Moffat – Keswick (72 miles)

Day 7 Keswick – Stainburn (75 miles)

Day 8 Stainburn – Runcorn (64 miles)

Day 9 Runcorn – Clun (80 miles)

Day 10 Clun – Monmouth (65 miles)

Day 11 Monmouth – Glastonbury (64 miles)

Day 12 Glastonbury – Moretonhampstead (60 miles)

Day 13 Moretonhampstead – Fowley (64 miles)

Day 14 Fowley – Land’s End (64 miles)

Day 15 Home! 


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From Derbyshire to Davos – is the Chancellor out of touch with British SMEs?

Following a national television news interview with Channel 4’s Nick Scott Plummer, regarding the latest Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) figures from the Office of National Statistics, Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of luxury ladies clothing firm David Nieper has asked if the Chancellor is completely ‘out of touch’ with British SMEs.

The Channel 4 news programme filmed from the fashion studios at David Nieper in Derbyshire where the company has had the most successful year in its 55 year history.  Its performance was attributed to a more competitive pound boosting exports, and an increased consumer appetite for British Made goods.

The GDP figures showed a 0.5% increase in the UK’s service industry in the last quarter, but a much more significant 1.3% increase in the manufacturing sector. Export orderbooks are at a 30 year high and unemployment is at a 30 year low.

  Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of the clothing firm painted an upbeat and positive picture of what is happening at the coalface of British manufacturing, including a surge in sales, increased productivity and more jobs. However, this interview when aired on Channel 4’s news programme appeared in stark contrast to the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond’s comments from Davos.

A world away from British manufacturing, in the luxury Swiss ski resort, the Chancellor spoke from the World Economic Forum in the company of the world’s political elite, and set a much more gloomy tone for British business, promoting a climate of economic uncertainty.

The Chancellor talked about an uncertain future, business decisions being postponed and investment being put on hold, until the government provide greater clarity on the future relationship with the European Union.

Following the broadcast, Christopher Nieper commented:

“Uncertainty, what uncertainty?   Is the Chancellor out of touch with SMEs who make up 99 percent of British companies?  Growth comes from being competitive in a global market and the key to recovering Britain’s deficit and eliminating austerity is through productivity.  Making things is back in fashion and Brand Britain is sought after the world over. Please Chancellor, don’t talk the economy down when it’s growing all around you.




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David Nieper Academy to Memorialise School’s Rich History

The David Nieper Academy in Alfreton, Derbyshire has announced plans to create a memorial in honour of former Headmaster Wilfred Dawes O.B.E. and Alderman William Mortimer Wilson, local businessman, lawyer and chairman of the county education committee, who founded the school in 1939.  As the first, and the School’s longest serving Headmaster, Mr Dawes was awarded the O.B.E. in 1959 for services to Education. He retired in 1974.

The David Nieper Academy, formerly Alfreton Grange Arts College and Mortimer Wilson School has been at the very heart of the Alfreton community for decades where often generations of the same family have attended.

David Nieper Academy governors, along with some of the school’s former pupils plan to create tributes within the new school campus to honour two of the individuals that have helped shape the school’s history, and contributed so much to the community and educating Alfreton’s school children over the years.

The final location and nature of the memorial is still to be confirmed, however plans so far include a Wilfred Dawes memorial garden to create a living remembrance, and the official naming of the new school’s sports hall as the ‘Mortimer Wilson Sport Hall’ with a commemorative plaque and an annual sports’ day fundraising event. 

Also under discussion is the provision of a cup or trophy, awarded to pupils annually and large enough for the names of the recipients to be engraved.

The school is keen to work with the local historical society to create a permanent exhibition within the school to provide information about the work and lives of Alderman Mortimer Wilson (1865–1941) and Wilfred Dawes O.B.E. (1909–1986).

Dr. Kathryn Hobbs, Headteacher at David Nieper Academy commented:

“Both Mortimer Wilson and Wilfred Dawes are held in highest esteem in the world of education and it is entirely fitting that we commemorate their achievements here at the school. They are an important part of the school’s history; we want to create a memorial that will be here for years to come to be enjoyed by Alfreton’s future generations.”

Stephen Beet, a former Mortimer Wilson pupil, now living in Novosibirsk, Russia said:

“The fact that both my father and I were taught by Wilfred Dawes is testament to the great influence he had on the people of Alfreton over the years.  He raised many of us from humble beginnings and enabled us to reach our goals.  For this we shall ever remember him and be grateful.”

I am delighted that governors of the David Nieper Academy are keen to commemorate these two great men who not only made an outstanding contribution to education but personally touched the lives of generations of children.”



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