A family-owned textile firm which hosted a visit by royalty last year has ended manufacturing operations with the loss of half its workforce.
But SKA Textiles, which marked 40 years of trading with a visit from the Princess Royal, said it was not leaving the sector.
Instead it was continuing as an importer and supplier of fabrics to the retail trade as well as retaining laboratory facilities for inspecting, testing and product development.
Managing director Zeb Pervaiz said a combination of rising costs for labour and energy and increased competition meant the company’s in-house manufacturing plant was no longer able to compete on a commercial basis.
The move means the loss of 15 jobs from its 30-strong workforce. Much of the firm’s machinery has been sold off – some of it to SKA’s overseas suppliers – while parts of the firm’s nine-acre site off St Thomas’ Road, Longroyd Bridge, are being let out to other companies.
The decision also means the owners will be able to devote more time to their other business interest in property development.
Back in January, 2015, Princess Anne was given a tour of SKA’s modern dyeing, finishing and knitting departments. The company made a multi-million pound investment in new machinery to turn SKA into a major supplier of knitted fabrics for products such as ladies jackets, tops, skirts and dresses, car seats and upholstery for office chairs and screens.
The company still lists big-name retailers such as Debenhams, Wallis and Marks & Spencer among its customers.
In a letter to suppliers, SKA stressed that the business would continue to trade adding that “this is not an insolvency but a decision taken collectively by the family as shareholders and directors of SKA for the benefit of us all and to enable us to concentrate on other business interests.”
Mr Pervaiz, who was named Business Person of the Year at the 2014 Examiner Business Awards, said: “A view was taken earlier this year that manufacturing was getting really tight. We were manufacturing ‘close to the bone.’
He said the move would allow the family to focus more attention on their growing property development business.
That includes the 40-bed student accommodation at Thread Works, formerly Thatchers furniture shop in Dundas Street, which opened in 2013, and The Works, a £5m five-storey redevelopment of Standard House at Half Moon Street, to provide accommodation for more than 100 students.
The Works is partly complete with some of the 56-bed accommodation on the ground floor, first and second floors already occupied. A further 46 beds will be provided with phase two which will see the addition of a further two floors to the building.