ONE of Pendle’s biggest employers - Silentnight Group - has announced a multi-million investment in its site which could lead to the creation of more than 100 new jobs.
The group has worked with Lancashire County Council over recent months to develop the strategy that will see more support of Silentnight’s people, production and service principally at Barnoldswick, but also at the company’s other plant in Cumbria.
However, Silentnight has entered into a consultation period with employees and trade union officials to discuss the closure of one of the company’s other plants at Batley, West Yorkshire, as it consolidates production.
Adrian Fawcett, chairman of Silentnight, said: “We are operating in an extremely tough climate for consumer-facing businesses and Barnoldswick is large enough to potentially absorb the forecast production requirements of both these facilities.
“It is with great regret, therefore, we are now having to consider the closure of Batley. We are extremely grateful to the hard work of all our colleagues at the factory over the years and will do our utmost to support our people should they have to move on.
“We are, however, very pleased Barnoldswick will remain at the heart of our business and are delighted Lancashire County Council has been instrumental in making this happen. We hope this can be the start of a long-term working relationship that will bring major benefits to the local economy as well as enabling Silentnight to build on its market-leading position.”
Barnoldswick will become the main production factory for the UK’s leading brands such as Silentnight, Layezee and Rest Assured, while the company will also be developing its sales and support service areas to better meet changing customer needs. In practical terms this will mean new investment for the business in people at Barnoldswick as well as new marketing and trade support for 2012 to support a planned upgraded range and product portfolio.
News of the investment in Barnoldswick has been welcomed. Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “Following the change of owners at Silentnight earlier this year I met bosses at the Barnoldswick site in July. At the meeting they set out their desire to modernise Silentnight and invest in the business, partly through the rationalisation of their three manufacturing sites across the UK.
“Following the meeting, Pendle Council, Lancashire County Council and myself set about making the strongest possible case for the Barnoldswick site, which currently employs 600 people. We argued that not only was this a great site, but there was also significant potential to expand and grow their operations in Barnoldswick.
“This announcement is fantastic news for West Craven and Pendle. This will lead to a very significant investment and the creation of over 100 new jobs. It also reaffirms the status of the Barnoldswick site as, not just where the company was founded, but the heart of Silentnight production.”
Coun. Mike Blomeley, Leader of Pendle Council, said: “This is extremely welcome news and I’m delighted Silentnight is not only securing existing jobs in Barnoldswick but planning to expand and create new ones.
“Pendle Council has worked closely with Lancashire County Council, who have played a vital role in persuading the company to invest in the site and I want to thank them for their tremendous support. This announcement is good news for hundreds of workers, their families and the many small businesses that benefit from Silentnight’s presence in the town.”
County Coun. Keith Bailey, county councillor for West Craven, which includes Barnoldswick, said: “Everyone who knows Barnoldswick knows the Silentnight factory and its presence is extremely important to the town. I’m delighted the county council has been able to work with Silentnight to secure its long-term future here and would also like to pay tribute to the men and women who’ve worked so hard to make the factory a success.”
County Coun. Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “I’m delighted Silentnight is expanding its operations in Barnoldswick. Even in this economic climate, Lancashire is a great place to do business and the county council was able to put together a compelling case for the company to focus its long-term plans here.
“We’ve agreed a support package for the company which they’ve confirmed will lead to significant new investment in Barnoldswick including the creation of new jobs. Most of all I’m pleased for the workers and their families, whose skill and commitment no doubt played a big part in the company’s decision.”
Edwin Booth, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is excellent news for Lancashire, where manufacturing remains a linchpin of our economy.
“Big companies have to look very carefully at how and where they develop their operations and it is a compliment to the efforts of the county council and the workforce at Barnoldswick that Silentnight has made this announcement. It also sends out an important signal to other employers that Lancashire is very much open for business.”