ONE of East Lancashire’s biggest companies is set to cut 140 jobs because of the impact of coronavirus.

The Senator Group, based in Altham, is considering reducing its workforce by a tenth as demand for office furniture falls because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its founder and chairman Colin Mustoe said the company would hope to start recruiting again when business picks up after the current crisis.

The reduction in staff would bring the workforce to around 1,300 employees, with around half still working on site.

Mr Mustoe said: “We have started a consultation process that could result in the loss of 140 jobs. This is a result of coronavirus. We make a product that, although important, is not essential in the current circumstances.

“Senator is one of the major employers in East Lancashire and we will still have 1,300 employees if the redundancies go ahead.

“We are doing everything we can to retains staff and once the current situation is over we would seek to recruit again and re-employ.

“One of our companies Teal has switched to making furniture for the the NHS and its new Nightingale hospitals.

“We have also produced a 35-page brochure on how our products can make firms suitable for the new socially-distanced era when they go back to work.

“Senator is doing everything it can do in the current circumstances to retain staff and this consultation is part of how we are responding to the crisis."

The 44-year-old company, headquartered at Altham Business Park, has stressed it remains a healthy business and any job losses will be part of a wider review and restructuring of is operations.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said:

“It is sad this is having to happen especially for those affected and their families.

“It will have a big impact on them and their families.

“It will also have a big impact on local spending and the local economy. We just have to hope Senator can bounce back quickly and re-employ them after the current coronavirus crisis.

“Sadly I suspect that when people and companies go back to work after the lockdown, we will see a number of jobs at other firms being lost as a result of the crisis.

“We need local firms and the local economy to be in a position to bounce back.”