WORKERS at a troubled carpet firm were left stunned by the announcement it is to close down with the loss of 134 jobs.
Gaskell Mackay Ltd, which operated from Wheatfield Mill, Rishton, shed its workforce and called in Leeds-based BWC Business Solutions to handle its affairs following a cash crisis.
Workers at the company, which made Wilton and Axminister carpets, were called to a meeting last Thursday when they were told the devastating news.
One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: "We were told about the meeting by e-mail and we were all called into a room. We were told that the business was in trouble and that sales had gone right down.
"When we heard we would be laid off everyone was shocked. I don't know what I will do as I will have no money coming in. I know I will have a hard time getting another job."
Gary Blackburn, one of the administrators called in, said: "The firm has been in trouble for the last few months and we understand it was making losses.
"We are exploring the possibility of an early sale of the major items of plant and machinery and a number of approaches have been made to interested parties.
"The directors and financial backers have made efforts to dispose of the business as a going concern without success."
It is believed that the company's patents and designs had already been sold to a company in Middles-borough before BWC was called in.
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said: "This is really bad news for Rishton and for the people who work there and their families.
"It must be terrible and very distressing to lose your job and I know nothing I can say can make it easier for them and the next few weeks will very very hard."
A spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
The beleaguered Gaskell group was split up after hitting financial trouble last year. The Rishton-based contracts division, which then employed 145, was sold to a management team led by chief executive Gerry Wheeler.
The underlay division at Clayton-le-Moors Business Park was bought by Condor Combifloor Ltd, based in Bedfordshire, while the Rishton-based retail division was sold to a subsidiary of Birmingham-based Headlam Group plc.
Gaskell had already come close to going out of business in 2003 before selling its carpet tiles division and its Kidderminster factory for a total of £21M to clear its debts.