I was delighted recently to visit one of Pendle’s best-known employers, Silentnight in Barnoldswick.
I have visited the company before, including taking George Osborne there in 2009, but wanted to get an update on the business and their plans for the future.
The company currently employs around 675 people and is seeing growing sales and market share.
I was particularly encouraged to hear about the multi-million pound investment being made in the company, including changing and updating their fleet of wagons, which are such a familiar sight on our local roads.
This is good news because, following the change of owners a few years ago, there was concern by some that the company would not get the investment needed to help it expand and compete with international competition.
I was also delighted to be asked to present awards to three of Silentnight’s apprentices. Thanks to the strong focus of the current Government on apprenticeships, the company launched its own scheme about two years ago.
This is helping bring more young people into the business and ensuring they develop the skills and focus that can help both them and the company grow.
Finally, we discussed concerns over UK flammability regulations. The bed and upholstery industry (which is a major local employer) has had a problem over recent years with imported products not conforming to UK flammability regulations. This not only costs UK jobs, but puts at risk the lives of consumers who unknowingly buy products that do not meet the legal standards.
Silentnight’s concerns are shared by other reputable manufactures and the National Bed Federation.
A recent episode of BBC Fake Britain - “Furniture Inferno” – showed just how dangerous the problem is. I will continue to apply pressure down in Westminster to ensure this is addressed and the regulations are enforced.