Linen manufacturer set to tackle skills shortage by teaching people how to sew

11 January 2023

Richard Haworth is inviting those seeking to upskill themselves to free event backed by its local MP in a bid to combat a sewing skills shortage. The company is hosting an event at its Kearsley Mill headquarters to teach people how to sew. As a leading supplier of linens to the UK’s hotel, hospitality and restaurant industry, Richard Haworth has been manufacturing at its Greater Manchester headquarters since 1986, boasting Wimbledon, The Midland, Manchester, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants and The Fashion Awards among its clients.

However, the business has identified a genuine shortage of skilled people, who can operate a sewing machine and carry out technical finishing work, to ensure the continuation of its British manufacturing operations.

Raj Ruia, managing director, said: “It is a sad reality that we no longer have individuals entering the workplace with the practical skills we require, such as cutting, sewing and embroidery - all of which are fundamental to our production process. In a world where so many manufacturing lines are turning to AI and robots, and the education system is less focused on equipping students with hands-on skills, we still very much need and want to employ people. It is due to our skilled seamstresses that our products are of the highest quality and our talented team ensures that we continue to surpass the industry standard.”

However, with some of its machinists having been employed for more than 40 years, Richard Haworth is now looking to recruit and train up the next generation of employees to join its manufacturing team, and work across its various sewing and hemming stations.

Ruia continued: “Historically, Kearsley has been a mill town and attracted local workers, but since so many more people now commute, we hope to attract talent from across the Greater Manchester area. Not only can we offer secure and stable employment, but practical training that will teach employees the skills to plug this very real shortfall.”

Current research shows that there is a “severe labour shortage” in the UK since the focus of education has shifted to STEM, felt across the fashion and textile industries. The Confederation of British Industry also reported in October 2022 that three-quarters of businesses have experienced difficulties filling vacancies and a shortage of workers.

During Richard Haworth’s Sewing Skills Workshop event, taking place on Monday 23 January, participants will learn how to use a sewing machine and be taught how to hem a tablecloth and create a pillowcase, overseen by production supervisor, Sharon Stevenson. There is no prerequisite for attendance or prior sewing experience or knowledge required.

Local MP, Yasmin Quereshi and Councillor for Kearsley Ward, Tracey Wilkinson, are backing the event, which is set to be attended by The Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Akhtar Zaman.

Councillor Wilkinson said: “Encouraging British manufacturing is so important for creating job opportunities in the local area and providing tangible skills to future generations. I personally am unable to machine sew but often wish I could because it would open my skill set for repairing and making my own products, such handmade clothes, for which I am a big advocate. I cannot encourage people enough to upskill themselves and potentially find new employment too.”

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, said: “Local manufacturing businesses like Richard Howarth Ltd in Bolton are crucial to supporting good jobs and ensuring that our local and regional economies grow at a sustainable rate. Our local Council and national Government must create an environment which allows business to flourish and grow, whilst supporting the wider workforce.”

To register for the event, visit



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