Around 100 jobs could be lost at a major East Lancashire home décor manufacturer following plans to transition to digital production.

The plans will see Graham & Brown close their Blackburn production site and increase investment in digital capabilities at their new low carbon production site in Padiham.

The proposals, which were announced to colleagues, customers, and suppliers on Wednesday (August 16), also include the transition of its traditional wallcovering production to manufacturing partners based in Europe.

If the plans go ahead, it would lead to the closure of the manufacturing site at India Mill in Blackburn, which could lead to the loss of approximately 100 jobs.

A consultation process with the colleagues who could potentially be impacted has started, during which the company will explore viable alternatives to avoid or reduce job losses.

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Graham & Brown said the proposals were a response to “ongoing structural change in the global wallcoverings market”, which has seen demand for traditionally-manufactured wallpaper reduce, and demand for more environmentally-friendly, design-led, and digitally-printed products increase.

This, it said, has led to “rising production inefficiencies” at its traditional manufacturing site.

The business, which became carbon neutral last year, has pledged to become net zero by 2030. Its new digital printing site – which it believes is the most advanced, sustainable wallcoverings production facility in Europe – uses 100 per cent renewable energy, solvent-free inks, and sustainably-sourced paper.

It said digital printing also made it easier to access its archive of 35,000 designs and it planned to expand to ranges and volumes produced at the new facility significantly in line with rapidly increasing customer demand.

Andrew Graham, chief executive of Graham & Brown, said: “The global wallcoverings market has been undergoing structural change for many years due to the growth of online retail and the category’s contraction in physical retail, trends which have accelerated post-Covid.

“Consumers and retailers have also become even more environmentally conscious and are actively seeking more sustainable home interiors products.

“Due to reducing demand for traditionally-manufactured products and rising production inefficiencies as a result, our manufacturing operation at India Mill in Blackburn is no longer fit for purpose.

“Sadly this means we need to explore the difficult decision to close the operation.

“Our team have investigated a number of specialist manufacturers – several of whom we have worked with for many years already – and we are confident they have the right capacity and capability to meet our needs.

“This would give us the flexibility and cost-efficiencies we need to continue serving this important part of the market even more strongly over the years ahead through our ongoing commitment to exceptional design development, customer service, and category management.

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“What remains paramount is we continue to support colleagues during what will be a personally unsettling period.”

Mr Graham continued: “As a business that’s been innovating the market for over 75 years, we need to look ahead and respond to these changes to make sure Graham & Brown remains at the very forefront of our industry, with a more efficient, flexible, sustainable, and digital-led operation capable of delivering our customers’ changing needs and meeting our ESG goals.

“We plan to continue growing and adapting the capacity of our new digital production facility over the coming years, which will ensure we can manufacture the most innovative, design-led wallpapers for our customers and fulfil our ambition to be the world’s leading wallcovering design house.”

Graham & Brown was founded in 1946 and remains a family owned business. It currently employs around 400 people, including approximately 325 in the UK.