More than 100 workers face a jobs axe at two local firms.

Jobs are to go at one of Huddersfield’s most famous firms – despite it doubling turnover and boosting employment.

Linthwaite-based pharmaceutical firm Thornton & Ross Ltd is to axe 44 posts by handing its warehousing and distribution operations to another company, UDG, based in the East Midlands from September.

It will mean closing the firm’s warehousing facilities at Linthwaite, Marsden and Bedford and transferring those operations to UDG’s site at junction 28 of the M1 at South Normanton, Derbyshire.

And 65 jobs are to go at Lawton Yarns. The textile firm, based at Ravens Ing Mills, Ravensthorpe, said the company was “reluctantly” proposing the redundancies following investment in less labour-intensive machinery.

The company was formed two years ago with the merger of long-standing Huddersfield carpet yarn spinner Fred Lawton & Son Ltd and William S Graham, of Ravensthorpe.

Thornton & Ross said it was working closely with the employees affected to find them alternative work. Staff would be able to transfer to UDG if they wished while a number of vacancies had been left open in other departments at Linthwaite.

Thornton and Ross in Linthwaite
Thornton and Ross in Linthwaite
 

The move comes eight months after Thornton & Ross was taken over by German pharmaceutical group Stada Arzneimittel AG in a £221.11m deal which has resulted in the Linthwaite site expanding its manufacturing activities.

Dieno George, director at Linthwaite, said the company had almost doubled turnover from £60m a few years ago to £120m and had seen a 25% increase in employment to 525.

But he said the firm’s warehouses had been operating at capacity on and off for some time and had become inefficient.

“We looked around this area for another site, but we could not find anything that would be appropriate,” he said. “Ours is a highly-regulated industry and those regulations are becoming stricter, which not only affects where you store pharmaceuticals but also how you transport them. Outsourcing the distribution and warehousing was the only practical solution.”

Mr George said: “We expect to invest in Linthwaite to get to £200m turnover and there are going to be lots more jobs. We are committed to the site and we have become a very important part of Stada. They have given us all this new business and we are growing in the UK and internationally.

“We are investing in new capacity for creams, liquids and packaging and we are creating more space for manufacturing as well as building a new laboratory. It is a success story.

“We don’t like to disappoint any of our employees and we are doing the best we can to minimise any problems.”

Lawton director Tim Kay said: “Lawton Yarns is the largest woollen spinner in the world.

“Lawton Yarns has been investing heavily, spending over £2m in product development and equipment with more in the pipeline.

“Over the past two years, the customer base as well as the product portfolio has expanded in the UK, Europe and the USA with new and exciting products.

“Output has increased year on year and growth continues. As part of this expansion programme and investment in new plant, Lawton Yarns has developed cost-efficient process routes.

“By utilising less labour-intensive machinery and processes, the company reluctantly is proposing to make around 65 positions redundant.”

Fred Lawton has produced carpets and other textiles since 1902 while William S Graham was incorporated in 1965. Fred Lawton was founded in Lockwood and for many years was based at Firth Street Mills in Huddersfield.

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