A multi-million pound deal for iconic shoemaker Church’s to buy the old First Bus depot in St James will secure its future in the town for a generation.
The deal announced yesterday will see the company create up to 150 jobs at the site in St James Road, which First Bus is vacating after deciding to pull out of Northampton.
Church’s chief executive, Stephen Etheridge, said the firm had been looking into expanding for a while and would probably have had to leave Northampton had the bus station site not become available.
He said: “This is a multi-million pound project over the next three years which secures Church’s manufacturing operation in Northampton for the next generation.
“It’s good for the town and good for us. It really shows Northampton is open for business.
“We have been on this site in St James for 60 years now, and one of the things we have been looking at is building a new factory.
“Most of our employees live in St James and there is no opportunity to expand within our current vicinity. We fully occupy the site.
“So, without the bus station site, any development we were going to do would have had to be somewhere other than St James. In reality, we would probably have had to go out of town. So this secures us in St James, and we can grow and develop. It’s perfect for us.
“To keep jobs in Northampton and to grow in Northampton was the primary objective.
“Working with the council has helped us get the deal over the line. They’ve given us the tools and it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Northampton Borough Council brokered the deal, which also includes land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency. To do this, it will purchase the land from First and sell it straight to Church’s. The council says this should be cost-neutral.
The deal will be discussed by Guildhall officials next Wednesday. Once it is rubber-stamped, Church’s plans to move in on a phased basis. They want to be on site by the middle of next year, and complete development work in two to three years.