Christopher Nieper on Record Sales and a Visit from the PM

Following the Prime Minister David Cameron’s surprise visit to the David Nieper factory in Alfreton, the fashion house’s managing director Christopher Nieper reveals how the factory tour was planned and organised at such short notice. Staff who got the chance to meet the Prime Minister and ask him questions said “He was particularly interested in the fact we still manufacture in this country – we have an onsite factory and we employ more than 200 people to work and manufacture our goods.”

David Cameron visits David Nieper


In the morning, I gather the whole company together on the factory floor and announce that we are to have a visit. Some of the girls are hoping that it will be Prince Harry, others want it to be Duchess of Cambridge. Then I tell them that it is the Prime Minister and there is a big round of applause. This doesn’t necessarily reflect the politics of the workforce but pride in the fact that the Prime Minister has chosen our factory to visit.

The idea is for the Prime Minister to speak to real people and a few of our employees will have the chance to ask questions. Almost everyone wants to ask something. At 10am, the film crew arrive and instead of three people there are 15 with wires, lights and cameras everywhere.

The level of excitement builds throughout the day. The PM arrives dead on time at 12.55pm and I meet him outside with my father, who founded the company. Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills is there too and we have 15 minutes with the Prime Minister. We talk about how the Government can help British manufacturing and the culture of the family business. Samantha Cameron is an ambassador for British fashion and is also learning to sew so we give the Prime Minister a pair of scissors for his wife that we had specially produced for our 50th anniversary.

On the tour he asks about our experiences during the recession. He asks a girl on a graduate internship with us how many people on her course have found jobs on leaving university. She replies that they have found it very difficult. Our employees ask him about university tuition fees, pensions and one says that if she were Prime Minister she’d give everyone a raise. He gives his full attention to each question.

I try to get across that this industry is not a distant memory and that it is worth £21 billion but the bulk of that goes overseas and is doing nothing to help the UK’s balance of payments. The Prime Minister gives a speech to our employees, is relaxed and is a good performer. At about 3pm he heads off for another grilling at the Derby Telegraph. Our factory is buzzing with people talking about the visit. Later, I learn that Harold Tillman has sold Jaeger, which is an interesting development.

Read the full diary article here.

David Cameron in discussion with our design grading manager