A TV star is leading the way to revive Blackburn’s textile industry after saving a historic clothing company and announcing major expansion plans.

Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant, 43, who is famed for his style and exacting standards on the BBC2 cult show, has bought ailing clothing manufacturer Cookson and Clegg on Shadsworth Business Park for an undisclosed sum.


The dashing designer has already created 30 jobs and plans to double the number of machinists at the factory. He is also offering apprenticeships to young people from the area, with the first two candidates set to start.

Mr Grant’s investment in the town has been hailed as a vote of confidence in Blackburn’s future by business and political leaders.

He said: “This corner of Lancashire is going to become great again. I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen of Blackburn and its people. There’s a ‘can do’ feeling about the place that I really like.”

The company, which was set up in 1860, originally made protective clothing for miners, but had struggled since losing a lucrative military uniform contract in 2009.

Since taking over the business five months ago, Patrick, who rejuvenated the Savile Row bespoke tailoring business Norton and Sons and has his own range, Hammond and Co, in Debenhams, intends to double his workforce of skilled machinists.

He said: “Our order books are full to overflowing and we’re even having to turn down work, so I need skilled staff as soon as possible.”

Cookson and Clegg specialise in high-end clothing – mainly outerwear, jeans and Chinos - for top British brands which include Paul Smith, Ben Sherman, Baracuta and Crombie.

Mr Grant said: “This was a business that was our best supplier and when I heard it was going to be shut I called the boss straight away.

“As British clothing factories go this is a very modern, brilliantly equipped, bright, cheerful, well laid out, well organised factory. Compared to some I have dealt with in the past, it’s in a different league and I didn’t want to see it close.

“The company was a supplier to my ready to wear label E. Tautz, part of Norton and Sons. We bought it in April and run it in pretty much the same way that it was run before. Cooksons make for all sorts of great British bands, a huge list of customers.

“We’re also starting to work with even bigger customers who are household names. So I’m on the look-out for staff as quickly as possible.”

Blackburn with Darwen council regeneration boss Phil Riley said: “This is an absolutely great example of a businessman who cut his teeth in London’s Savile Row coming to Blackburn and believing in the town and its future.”

Khalid Saifullah, chair of the HIVE business network, said: “This is a great confidence booster for the town.”

Ian Brown, director of Graham and Brown wallpaper manufacturers, said: “Patrick’s arrival to invest in Blackburn is wonderful. It’s a major creative and cool businessman showing his confidence in the town.”

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms said: “This is really good news for Blackburn which will create employment and bring the town credibility on a national stage.”

Do you want to work for the Great British Sewing Bee judge at Cookson and Clegg? Send details of your experience to jobs@cooksonclegg.com or call 01254 844544.