MORE than 200 jobs looks set to come to Blackburn in a major boost to the town’s textile industry.
Plans are being put forward to open a new factory in the area by textile company Figure 8 Fashion Ltd, which designs and produces clothing for high street retailers across the UK.
Although in the early stages, the plans have been given backing by council bosses, who are helping the owners find premises.
Factory bosses said they chose Blackburn because of ‘its rich textile history’ and because they know workers have the skillset.
Director Saeed Khilji, set up his Leicester-based company three years ago with just two members of staff. The company now has more than 300 employees.
He has promised he will invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in getting the project off the ground.
The father-of-three said: “I have been in this business for three years and we have done very well.
“We are promoting ‘made in Britain’. That is our aim.
“We believe there is a workforce in Blackburn that we can use to produce more garments
“We want to utilise their talents.
“Blackburn has always had a history of textile production and we think there are people out there with the skills. We want them to come forward and contact us.
“We are aiming to employ around 200 people in different roles from designers to machinists, packers and transporters.”
He said the firm would be getting in touch with colleges to link up with students who may be interested in the roles.
Mr Khilji has also met with regeneration bosses at Blackburn with Darwen Council.
He said: “The council responded very well. They are very keen to help us and hopefully we will be operating here soon.
“When we have premises we are ready to start as soon as possible. It depends how quickly we can find the right location.
“We want to make as much as we can in the UK. We want more jobs so we can get economically stronger. Even after Brexit. We do not need to rely on anybody else. This is a plan for the future,” he said.
Mr Khilji, who was born in a tiny village in India and moved to the UK 16 years ago, said the firm would be looking for premises of about 15,000 to 20,000 sq ft.
The former accountant said depending on demand there was scope to expand and create more jobs and the company is willing to work together with other manufacturers.
“We are quite open in this. We do not see people as competitors. We want to work together,” he added.
Phil Riley, executive member for the council’s regeneration portfolio, said: “As a council we are really keen to support new businesses and Mr Khilji is obviously interested in a business we used to have here, which is the textile industry.
“We are making progress in the textile industry with people like Patrick Grant.
“This idea will compliment that and we are more than keen to support where we can.”
Mr Riley said the firm would be looking at premises the council owns as well as other sites.
Ian Richardson, Capita’s partnership director for Blackburn with Darwen, said: “The council will do all it can to identify a suitable site to help with the overall ambition of investing in and celebrating what we make here. It is a positive step for Blackburn with Darwen.”
Miranda Barker, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is absolutely brilliant to hear of a business looking to locate in Lancashire.
“East Lancashire has a long standing history in manufacturing in textiles as well as other areas.
“We have some really high quality current businesses and an amazing heritage.
“Any inward investment is welcome.”
People interested in finding out more about the roles on offer can email email@example.com or phone 0116 319 3290.