ReportageIn the Loire, a historic clothing basin, SMEs are automating everything to produce at a lower cost, and thus compete with imports. The key is a hoped-for restart of employment.
Liliane Simon came “See if we recruit”. Without having an appointment, this 55-year-old woman presented herself, Wednesday, May 19, to the premises of the Marcoux Lafay knitwear factory to submit her CV. She already knows all the twists and turns of this concrete building built in Sainte-Agathe-la-Bouteresse (Loire), in the plain of Forez. She worked there “Nearly ten years”, until 2004, as a cutter and knitter.
Since August 2020, the one who had reconverted in the preparation of orders, before being made redundant, is registered with Pôle emploi. She has every chance to find her former colleagues and to point again every day, at 7:30 a.m., for a contract of 39 hours per week, behind a sewing machine or an electric scissor, under the neon light, in the noise of knitting looms and “Best of Scoop radio hits” that a radio-cassette sputters.
Karine, co-manager of the company with her partner Arnaud de Belabre, smiles. Those who spontaneously present themselves to the premises of the workshops to be hired “Are often very good candidates, very motivated”, she judges. However, since December 2020, under the leadership of these two new owners, the manufacturer of medical sweaters and knee pads is recruiting again. The Marcoux workshop, which employs a dozen people, could increase its workforce to “Twenty-five people”, we loveme Renouil-Tiberghien.
“Nothing will be the same”
In Roanne (Loire), the Jean Ruiz factory, another establishment that the two entrepreneurs own, is also recruiting a dozen people, to bring its workforce to twenty-five in the medium term. For months, Florence Lassagne, the head of the clothing workshop, has been looking for seamstresses and « remailleuses » to ensure the finish of the sweaters, manufactured in thirty to forty minutes on automatic looms, for Aigle, Système U or Leclerc.
She is not the only one in the Roanne region. In Charlieu, Eric Boël, CEO of Tissages de Charlieu (LTC), a specialist in jacquard and the making of canvas bags, is also hiring. The establishment employs 80 people, against thirty-five in 1997, when it was taken over by the entrepreneur. “In three years, we will be 150”, predicted this one.
All these manufacturers in the Roanne region say they are benefiting from the renewed interest of consumers for items made in France, and from the desire of distributors to sell more tricolor products.
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