A CONSULTATION into plans to shut Aspatria’s Sealy plant, with the loss of 267 jobs, have been extended until next month.

Parent company Silentnight Group announced in April that due to a challenging market, the impact of coronavirus and uncertainty surrounding its major customers, it was reviewing the future of the site.

It launched a 45-day consultation, due to end this month.

But following talks with representatives from the GMB union, which argued that Government support during the Covid-19 pandemic aimed at protecting jobs that it should be extended, the deadline has been moved to mid-July.

Christopher Preston, regional organiser of the GMB, said: “This will allow further time to consider the position with further meetings with the employer in arranged for the coming weeks.”

Silentnight Group was forced to furlough 262 members of staff when coronavirus hit the UK, but said this week that around 50 per cent of the workforce had returned to the plant.

Mr Preston said the union had also met virtually with Allerdale council and Workington MP Mark Jenkinson.

He added: “We discussed what support they may be able to offer the employer and workforce during this difficult period which they are currently looking into.

“However, they have committed to offer whatever support is available to them.

“Following the Government’s recent announcement regarding more businesses opening in the coming weeks, we are of course hopeful this will see an increase in orders for the high-quality Sealy beds and mattresses which are made in Aspatria.”

When the proposed closure was announced, Adrian Fawcett, chairman of Silentnight Group, said: “The UK bed market has been challenging for a number of years and the profitability of the Aspatria site has progressively declined.

“The impact of the current coronavirus pandemic, coupled with uncertainties regarding some of the site’s major customers, has substantially exacerbated this situation.

“Our priority now is to support all employees affected.”

He added that the move was regrettable, but the decision had been made following an in-depth review.

Set up in the USA in 1906, the company began in the UK in 1974, following the acquisition by the Silentnight Group of bedding and furniture company M Hackney & Co, in Aspatria.

At its peak, the 160,000 sq ft factory in the town made around 3,500 mattresses a week.