HYNDBURN'S largest and oldest-established textile company could soon be on the move.
The Hilden Group is planning to close mills in Accrington and Oswaldtwistle and centralise its manufacturing operation under one roof.
And council planning chiefs are pulling out all the stops to try and find a suitable site to keep the firm and its 370 employees in the borough.
Workers have been told of the plan, which would be carried out in two phases. The move would involve the closure of Clifton Mill, Oswald-twistle, Woodnook Bleaching and Dyeing and Woodnook Hemming, Accrington, and Britannia Mill, Blackburn, in favour of a more modern single-storey centre.
Warehousing and transport staff would also be based at the planned new site.
Hilden chairman Mr Peter Hargreaves said the strategy would cut costs and enable the company to make the best use of its buildings.
He hoped to complete the move within the next three years and wanted the company to stay in Hyndburn. He said: "We have spoken to both Hyndburn FIRST and Hyndburn Council's planning department about finding new premises.''
Mr Hargreaves added that if the move went ahead there were plans to redevelop Clifton Mill and the five-storey Woodnook Mill to allow the company to diversify.
Mr Nigel Rix, director of Hyndburn FIRST, said: "I have engaged in positive discussions with Hilden about its relocation needs.
"I have identified two or three options which need to be examined in more detail over the next few weeks as to their feasibility. Hyndburn Council and Hyndburn FIRST, working with development partners, will do their utmost to retain this long-established and successful company within Hyndburn.''
In an unconnected move, Hilden is to make 12 workers redundant next month after deciding to close the old "bleach croft'' at Woodnook Mill. The firm, believed to be the biggest textile firm in East Lancashire, makes table linen, furnishing fabrics and ticking for bed mattress covers.
One worker warned that retail outlets near the firm's existing mills would suffer when they closed.