HYNDBURN'S largest and oldest textile firm has been saved from closure – but a third of its employees could still face losing their jobs.
Hilden Manufacturing has been rescued by Manchester-based soft furnishing company Vision Support Services (VSS) which also safeguarded 53 of the company’s 80 jobs.
Administrators Ernst and Young are now searching for an alternative to redundancy for the 27 staff members still employed by the Hilden Group.
Hilden, based at Clifton Mill in Pickup Street, Accrington, was established in 1874 by the family descended from textile pioneer James Hargreaves, the inventor of the Spinning Jenny.
The company, which has an annual turnover of £15M, continued to trade while administrators tried to sell it as a going concern. It was once a world leader in importing and finishing bed, table and bathroom linen for hotels, restaurants, councils and health authorities.
VSS, owned by former investment banker Dan Wright, plans to build on Hilden’s heritage and expand its market share in hospitality, textile rental and leisure sectors worldwide. This deal swells the group’s turnover to £40M a year.
Mr Wright said: "On behalf of the Hargreaves family, I would like to thank our employees, customers and suppliers for their support – we firmly believe that Hilden has an exciting future under its new leadership."
Managing director Laurie Thomas said: "We are delighted to have completed the deal.
"This is a transformational deal – it will give us greater purchasing power and Hilden is a great fit with the strategic position of our business."
He said the Hilden name would be retained and it would be run as a stand-alone business within Vision. He said Vision has invested ‘significantly’ in the deal.
It is understood Hilden suffered a sharp downturn in sales in the first three months of this year, and although trade had improved it had run out of cash. Since 2000 the company has downsized with more than 100 job losses in 2004 when it switched its manufacturing base to Egypt.
Ernst and Young partner and joint administrator Tom Jack said: "This deal is great news both for VSS and Hilden. As a result of joining forces with VSS, staff at Hilden can look forward to a more secure future, while VSS has gained a valuable addition to its operations which will strengthen its presence in the market as it looks for further expansion."
The Hilden Group was the parent company of giant retail complex Oswaldtwistle Mills which is unaffected.