Forgotten Communities Champion Hailed In New Year’s Honours List

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director, David Nieper Ltd has been awarded with an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2020, for services to UK Manufacturing and Apprenticeship Development.

David Nieper is a designer, manufacturer and retailer of luxury women’s fashion established in Alfreton, Derbyshire in 1961.

Alfreton is a former coal-mining town, which following the closure of the mines has suffered a raft of social issues, unemployment and poor education. It is a town illustrative of Britain’s forgotten communities, often referred to by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

From early in his career, Christopher Nieper has been passionate about British
manufacturing and rebuilding prosperity in his hometown of Alfreton.
Christopher has made it a personal mission not to turn his back on his local community, but instead has worked tirelessly to support, develop and enrich community life by creating local jobs and developing skills and education.

Christopher commented:
“What a tremendous start to the New Year! I was totally overwhelmed to be included in the Queen’s Honours List, and humbled to be recognised among so many inspirational and well-deserving individuals. It is an honour that can be shared by our whole family and wonderful staff.

The honour is a boost to British manufacturing, but is also fantastic recognition for the town of Alfreton. I am incredibly proud of this community and the hardworking, skilled people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.

Through apprenticeships and training our company is committed to ensuring that young people in our town have the same opportunities to progress in life irrespective of postcode.

I was encouraged by the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of Britain’s ‘left-behind’ communities and wholeheartedly support government plans to address the north/south divide, by driving a new and better deal for communities beyond the M25.

All over the UK in former industrial regions, rural areas, and coastal towns there are towns just like Alfreton desperate for support. I believe inclusion in the list goes a long way to demonstrating that these towns can be a great place to work and build a career.

With more government support, private sector and wealth creation investment we will really see these left-behind communities start to thrive.”

Christopher joined his family’s business in the eighties – at time when the majority of UK fashion designers were taking their manufacturing overseas. Christopher took the decision to keep manufacturing in Alfreton, to build economic prosperity in the town and secure jobs for its people.

His vision to drive a manufacturing renaissance in Britain, along with his unswerving commitment to local people and local jobs has created a centre of fashion manufacturing excellence in the heart of Derbyshire, where the company is today one of the largest employers with over 300 staff.

In 2015, Christopher set up the David Nieper Sewing Academy to address the chronic skills shortage in the UK’s fashion and textiles industry. One year later in 2016, the Derbyshire fashion house became a national trailblazer for the government’s apprenticeship drive. The company pioneered a system, which replaced the previous framework to develop new standards for fashion and textiles.

Further to this, in 2020 David Nieper Ltd will become an employer provider of apprenticeship training regulated by Ofsted, to develop specialist skills and create a new generation of British dressmakers.

The David Nieper approach is both altruistic and far reaching, not only creating jobs for local people, but also prioritising the educational and future of local children.

Within the last three years Christopher Nieper has also taken the unprecedented step of sponsoring the town’s secondary school for 850 pupils – now the David Nieper Academy.