A LONG-ESTABLISHED envelope manufacturer has won a major new contract creating up to 20 new jobs.

The £5million-a-year deal with a major UK company will see the Blackburn firm increase its turnover and production by a quarter.

Mark Sears, Heritage Envelopes boss, revealed the firm is now set to invest millions of pounds in new equipment and a new 40,000 square foot warehouse at its Davyfield Road site.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is stunning. Really brilliant news."

The company, established in Hilton Street Darwen in 1984 with just six workers, now employs 135 staff and is set to add 15 to 20 more employees to service the new contact secured earlier this month which starts production on July 1.

Mr Sears, a 60-year-old grandfather from Darwen, said: "This is really good news for the company.

"It will see our turnover rise from £20m a year to £25m and give us a bigger share of the still buoyant envelope market.

"We are looking at recruiting 15 to 20 experienced staff.

"The contract with a major UK company and user of envelopes is initially for two years but we expect to see it extended or we would not be planning new investment.

"We recently spent £300,000 on a new envelop manufacturing machine which was very timely.

"The company is looking at building a new high-bay warehouse with space for 6,000 pallets and investing several million in new equipment."

Mr Sears, who started as an apprentice at Chapman Envelopes before moving to the shop floor at Heritage and working his way up to become chief executive, said his firm now produces 2.2billion envelopes a year out of a UK market of £13.5bn, down from 25bn 15 years ago.

The company moved from Darwen to its current 100,000 square foot site in Davyfield Road in 2OOO.

Mr Sears said: "We do bespoke, specially printed envelopes for companies and stock envelopes as well. This contract, our biggest ever, is for stock envelopes.

"Despite email there is still a big market from companies for envelopes. They are more personal and letters get read rather than deleted."

Mrs Barker said: "This shows that East Lancashire continues to lead the country in manufacturing. These are the sort of high-quality secure jobs the area needs."