One of the oldest producers of silk in England, The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company in Sudbury, is as busy as ever.
Its silk fabrics are much in demand all over the world. And now it has a full contingent of weavers to work on its century-old production methods.
Having launched a recruitment drive last year for new weavers to join the 114-year-old business, months of back orders are being fulfilled and all the company’s vacancies have been filled.
Director Neil Thomas said: “We were successful in recruiting the weavers we needed, and the only vacancy we have to fill at the moment is for a maintenance engineer.”
Gainsborough’s manual looms, dating back to the 1930s, and electronic weaving machines at its factory in Alexandra Road produce unique and elegant fabrics used in palaces, historic homes and by businesses.
Everything is done in-house and the company has an archive of thousands of different silk fabric patterns.
Last year, manager director Emerson Roberts said the company was busier than it had been for years, but was sitting on months of back orders because it was short of staff.
Mr Roberts said the business needed at least three more weavers to join its 30-strong team of designers and loom operators, but it was difficult to find skilled workers with the relevant experience.
“We used to have successive generations of families coming to work here, but social changes mean that people do not necessarily want to work in a factory,” he said.
Back orders include fabrics for luxury homes and hotels in the UK, as well as in Ireland, and included orders from the National Trust properties to high-end residences in the UK.
Gainsborough buys its silks in Euros, importing them via Italy, so the company has been affected by currency fluctuations due to the implications of Brexit.