A TEXTILE and soft furnishing manufacturer is to create 70 new jobs including apprenticeships.

The recruitment is a result of a £3million investment by Herbert Parkinson's parent company the John Lewis Partnership earlier this year.

It will develop new skills for the workforce as part of a reorganisation of how the 82-year-old firm operates.

Stuart McDonald, head of branch at Herbert Parkinson, said: “I confirm we are recruiting up to 70 new roles, creating new skills and opportunities for apprenticeships

"For decades Herbert Parkinson has played a huge role in offering John Lewis customers the very best in soft furnishings.

"This investment aims to secure and establish Herbert Parkinson for the future and we are excited about the new roles, apprenticeships and opportunities which will be created.

"This investment will secure and establish Herbert Parkinson for the future, and we look forward to producing exclusive products for John Lewis for years to come.”

In January John Lewis invested £3m to expand the Herbert Parkinson's Harvest Mill factory in Monton Road, Darwen.

It extended the curtain and blind service it currently delivers, growing the range of products offered to customers that are made at the site.

The servicing of John Lewis’s ‘any shape any fabric’ offer was also moved from the Darwen site to Magna Park in Milton Keynes. The weaving process at Herbert Parkinson was also closed.

The shake-up has created the space for extra product lines and new employees.

The announcement of the recruitment, on top of the existing 250 workforce, has been welcomed by Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley, and borough Tory group leader Cllr John Slater.

The news follows paper tissue manufacturer Accrol in Blackburn last week announcing 89 redundancies, mainly at its Roman Road headquarters, and BAE Systems proposing to cut 750 jobs at its Lancashire military aircraft factories at Samlesbury and Warton.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Mr Berry said: "I visited Herbert Parkinson recently to be updated on the investment.

"It is great to see the national John Lewis Partnership investing in the long-term future of their site in Darwen.

"I am delighted to see its £3m investment resulting in much-needed, high-quality jobs including apprenticeship for our growing younger population."

Ms Barker said: "This splendid news especially the apprenticeships which are the sort of training for business that our young people and companies need.

"Herbert Parkinson are the hub of a network of local textile firms across East Lancashire who will benefit from this investment."

Cllr Riley said: "Herbert Parkinson is a great local firm and it is tremendous to see it doing so well.

"These new jobs, especially the apprenticeships, are an optimistic sign for Blackburn with Darwen and I hope to see the companies expansion continue in the future."

Cllr Slater said: "This is excellent news.

"It is particularly welcome after the recent announcement of job losses at Accrol.

"This is good news for Darwen, for the borough and for our young people in view of the quality apprenticeships involved."

The company said the 'significant investment, would enable the site to grow and develop for the future, improving efficiency while maintaining high standards of customer service.

Herbert Parkinson was founded 1935 and taken over by John Lewis in 1953

It is a leading supplier of soft furnishing products including curtains and blinds and make up cushions and naturally filled duvets and pillows.

Initial plans to raise the height of the factory roof to fit in new machinery were dropped as they found an alternative building on site.