Burnley’s aerospace skills making ‘a real difference’

The strength of Burnley’s aerospace industry and the skills of its workforce were highlighted at the launch of the latest issue of Lancashire Business View.

Michael Rigalle, managing director of Safran Nacelles, one of the borough’s advanced manufacturing big hitters, told the networking event that the area’s knowledge made “a real difference”.

He added: “The workforce is very open to new innovations and technologies. We are not scared of it here, we embrace it.”

Part of an international high-tech group operating in the aerospace and defence markets, Safran Nacelles can trace its history in the town back seven decades.

Today it employs 750 people in the town and has a £12m investment programme planned over the next four years.

Michael, who was appointed managing director for the site at the end of last year, was speaking as part of a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities for the borough at the event held at Prairie Sports Village and sponsored by Burnley Council.

Mick Cartledge, chief executive of the council, spoke of the collaborative approach in the borough, including the highly-acclaimed Bondholders group. He said: “We work together in so many different ways.”

He also pointed to the work taking place in the town centre as Burnley looks to become a university town.

Claire Whelan, director of BCW Manufacturing group, and Chris Speakman, director of Speakman Contractors, highlighted the skills and recruitment challenges facing the area and their businesses.

Burnley College principal Karen Buchanan said that it was working along with UCLan to grow degree apprenticeships, adding: “That is really important for local employers.”

David Lawson, director at DRN Solicitors, said the image of Burnley was changing and improving. He told the 80-strong audience: “The image we now portray is very positive. The council is doing a lot with that and this is a good place to work and to live.”

The networking event also heard from Peter Slater and Steve Turner, chief operating officer and chief executive at CMAC Group.

They shared the story of the growth of the Accrington-based provider of emergency ground transport and accommodation solutions.

And they revealed the role it played in the wake of the 2017 collapse of airline Monarch in what became the biggest repatriation of UK citizens in peace time.

Technology has played a central role in CMAC’s development and today the business employs 200 people and has a £70m turnover.

A full interview with the pair, plus an in-depth look at Burnley, including interviews with Claire Whelan and Michael Rigalle, can be found in the current issue of Lancashire Business View, which is out now. Click here to buy.