Factory buyer promises to invest in town

Factory bosses say they will invest in Highbridge.

Factory bosses say they will invest in Highbridge. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

THE new owners of the old Woodberry Brothers factory in Highbridge have promised to provide ‘investment and commitment’ to the area after buying the 21-acre site.

The factory, based on the Walrow Industrial Estate, has lain unused since furniture company Woodberry Brothers went into administration last July, after 55 years of trading in the town, with almost all 175 staff laid off.

Weston-based Briarwood Products has now completed a purchase of the site, with a plan to relocate gradually from its current Winterstoke Road base.

A company spokesman told the Mercury the firm hopes to be operational in its new premises by the end of next month, but declined to comment on how many jobs the move would bring to the area – or confirm how many would be lost to Weston.

Alan Janes, Briarwood’s managing director, said: “We are very proud to have completed the purchase of this excellent site. Our investment and commitment to the local area will enable our plans for continued growth to be realised.”

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Administators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said in July ‘numerous parties’ had expressed interest in the site, and appointed property advisors GVA in August, but recently told the Mercury ‘nothing imminent’ was in the pipeline.

GVA director Paul Hobbs said: “The site attracted a significant number of bids from occupiers and property investors.

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“It is great news that Highbridge has real potential to recover here as the project takes shape for Briarwood.”

Highbridge town councillor Chris Williams welcomed the takeover but warned even more local jobs are needed.

He said: “Everyone in Highbridge is pleased to see that the site will be filled, it’s great news. It might not be as big a recruiter as before, but it’s still welcome.

“With the amount of housing due to go up in and around Highbridge in the next few years, it seems ridiculous to get them to travel to Bridgwater or beyond. We need jobs in this area and hopefully this sets us on the way.”

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