BOSSES of the doomed Lear Corporation factory in Colne have begun talks with a second potential buyer in a move which could avert dozens of job losses.

The car interiors company, the town's biggest employer, is due to shut the works later this year with the loss of 350 jobs unless a purchaser can be found.

Last month Lear managers opened talks with one firm which is interested in taking over part of the factory in a move which would save more than 80 jobs.

Now Enterprise plc, which carries out job creation work for Lancashire County Council, has said a second company has expressed an interest in buying another section of the works.

Bosses at Lear and the two firms are staying tight-lipped about the talks and the identity of the companies has not been revealed.

Workers at Lear, formerly John Cotton, are also being offered support to improve their job chances in a project jointly funded by Lancashire County Council and the company. The council's deputy leader, Frank McKenna, said: "While we are disappointed that Lear is transferring production to the Midlands to be closer to its clients in the automotive industry, the company is committed to mitigating the impact on its workers.

"The counselling and training support we are providing will greatly improve the job prospects of the employees."

The initial package, which is being co-ordinated by the county's jobs creation group Enterprise plc, will include individual counselling, identifying training needs and an on-site "job shop" to match the skills of workers with local job vacancies.

Some workers are also getting help in starting up their own businesses.

Pendle county councillor Tim Ormrod said: "It has been a bleak eight weeks for the 350 employees at Lear but I believe we can now do something positive to help them make a new start."

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