STAR TV tailor Patrick Grant has shut historic Blackburn clothing company Cookson and Clegg making 45 staff redundant, just a year after rescuing it.

The 44-year-old Great British Sewing Bee judge bought the ailing 150-year-old


garment manufacturer on Shadsworth Business Park a year ago for an undisclosed sum but yesterday was forced to shut it.

He had doubled the workforce and gained high-profile clients including Marks and Spencer.

In October he spoke of his hopes that the firm’s rescue could spearhead a revival of the town’s textile industry.

Mr Grant came to the Sovereign House factory in Lions Drive on Wednesday to warn staff of the impending closure before putting the company into voluntary liquidation yesterday lunchtime.

On his way back to London, he rang the Lancashire Telegraph to confirm the closure because its biggest customer had cancelled its contract.

Mr Grant said: “It is the worst thing I have ever had to do in my professional career.”

Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss Phil Riley said the closure was ‘sad and disappointing news’.

Hobkirk’s Sewing Machines Ltd director Peter Hobkirk said: “I am shocked.

“This is grim news for Blackburn, the workforce, the town and its textile industry.”

Blackburn Business Improvement District manager Harriet Roberts said: “I am personally devastated as will be BID’s members.

“It is very, very sad.”

Speaking from the train as he returned to the capital, Mr Grant said he still hoped to rescue part of the former military uniform manufacturing business from the liquidation and re-employ some of its ‘excellent’ staff later this year

He said: “I have had to close Cookson and Clegg and it is enormously sad.

“Telling our excellent, experienced and skilled staff was a dreadful moment.

“There is nothing worse in business.

“When we bought Cookson and Clegg I had very high hopes for the business.

“However we simply could not carry on after we lost our biggest customer which provided more than half our work.

“I cannot disclose who it was, but it is not M&S.

“It is very disappointing for me personally, Blackburn and our 45 excellent, experienced and highly skilled staff.

“I have put the company into voluntary liquidation with BDO in Manchester.

“I can make no promises but I hope to be able to rescue some of the business and jobs later in the year.”

He said his new Community Clothing venture, partly-based round Cookson and Clegg, to provide items at cost during slack production times would be unaffected with products sourced from other factories in his business network.

Mr Grant, whose new series of the ‘Great British Sewing Bee began airing on BBC2 earlier this week, added: “I haven’t even through about the TV programme.

“Trying to save Cookson and Clegg was much more important.

“This has been dreadfully sad for me and most of all the staff whom I really feel for”

Cllr Riley said: “This is very sad news for the town and in particular for the employees and their families.

“Cookson and Clegg has been a part of our manufacturing heritage since 1860 and there were high hopes for its future under the new owners.

“To lose such a historic institution makes the news even more disappointing.

“We will be seeking assurances regarding the provision that has been made for staff and working with the relevant agencies to provide advice and support.”

Mr Hobkirk, who persuaded Mr Grant to open Hobkirk’s new sewing machine museum at its Darwen Street premises in September, said: “Patrick was very optimistic about his business and spent a lot of time there.

“I had really high hopes for it.”

Mrs Robert said: “This is really grim as we all had high hopes for Cookson and Clegg and a possible outlet in the town centre.

“I feel for the staff.”