44 JOBS are under threat as one of East Lancashire's iconic firms faces restructuring.

Wallpaper giants Graham and Brown, who employ 380 people at the moment, announced the move to its staff yesterday morning after what they described as a "challenging time" for the sector.

A total of 44 positions will go but the firm will back-fill the 14 current vacancies across the business and the they will be offering enhanced voluntary redundancy to mitigate the amount of compulsory redundancies.

Additionally, the firm will close its warehouse in Blackburn and consolidate its e-commerce business at its facility at the Shuttleworth Mead business park in Padiham.

Andrew Graham MBE, chief executive of Graham and Brow said that the trading climate over the past few months meant it was time to "right-size" the business now to meet the challenges of the future.

He said: "It's been a very challenging year with significant cost increases on our major raw materials. We have been looking ahead and things don't look like getting any better in the short to medium-term.

"We have seen Debenhams put out a profit warning and our customers, Homebase and House of Fraser, have both announced store closures, trading conditions within UK retail are increasingly challenging, with falling levels of consumer confidence and increasing uncertainty creating a slowdown in discretionary purchases including wall decoration.

"We made an announcement to our colleagues at 10am yesterday morning and will now go into a 30-day consultation with the union and set up a consultation committee for the non-union colleagues."

Mr Graham said that despite the restructure, the firm will continue to invest in marketing wallpaper and are finalising plans for International Wallpaper Week in Oct 1-7 as well as new wallpaper, paint and wall art products.

The firm began in 1946 with Harold Graham and Henry Brown and they now have divisions across Europe and in China, Canada and Russia.

Unite regional officer, Darren Barton said: “Unite was only made aware of these redundancies today. We are now seeking an urgent meeting with the company.

“Unite will be seeking detailed assurances that these redundancies are really necessary.

"If the company does go ahead with redundancies Unite will ensure that numbers are minimised and that they will be voluntary and not compulsory.

"Unite will also be seeking the maximum possible terms for our members if the company goes ahead with its redundancy proposals.”