THE parent company of one of Darwen’s oldest firms has gone into receivership.

But administrators have sent out a message of reassurance about Shaws of Darwen, based in Waterside, near Hoddlesden.

They said the firm was a profitable arm of parent company Qualceram Shires, a Republic of Ireland-based bathroom suite maker, and should find a buyer.

Shaws of Darwen has been producing ceramics such as Belfast sinks and handcrafted terracota fascias for 109 years.

The company employs 82 people, some of whom are third-generation workers.

On Tuesday Qualceram Shires, suspended its shares on the stockmarket. It has gone into receivership.

Now administrator Ernst and Young has been brought in for Shires UK-based companies - Shaws in Darwen and Shires, of Bradford.

The company had been in talks with its landlord and banks since last year about disposing of some properties and renegotiating rents.

Joint Administrator Hunter Kelly of Ernst and Young said: “Despite their efforts, the board had no alternative but to appoint administrators.

“The Shires business has been making heavy losses for sometime, exacerbated by the downturn in the economy and particularly due to a fall in the development of new housing.

“Shaws is a profitable business that should attract interest from potential buyers and we hope to be able to sell it as a going concern.”

Last year Shaws celebrated its centenary at Waterside, having first established in 1890 in Whitebirk, Blackburn Its handcrafted sinks, named after local villages, are exported all over the world, while terracotta can be seen on famous buildings such as Chicago's Wrigley Building and the Royal Albert Hall.