International interior furnishings group, Walker Greenbank, is entering a new era with its textile division by closing a 150-year-old historic mill in Yorkshire.

The Hartley mill in Cowling near Keighley is closing this year. Work is being transferred to a 10-year-old factory nearby at Silsden, to help the firm compete in a tough global climate.

At the same time, three businesses, John Hartley, Harris Fabrics and Weavestyle are being integrated at the new site, which is called F3.

Managing director, Peter Alderslade, said that integrating the businesses will enable the company to offer a full range of fabrics to existing customers and to attract new business.

He said the move would also enable the business to compete in a tough international market.

He said: "Silsden is modern, has the necessary capacity and room for expansion, and we are able to meet the increasing demand for improved efficiency, environments and health and safety that a 150-year-old mill cannot deliver.

"We are growing our businesses despite international competition, fuelled by the weak Euro, which disadvantages all UK manufacturers.

"It is the strategy of our group, Walker Greenbank, to be a powerhouse of design and operational excellence. We continually drive product and process innovation, through skill and technical excellence."

All three businesses - Harris Fabrics, Weavestyle and Hartley Hemisphere - will retain their name in the marketplace.

Harris Fabrics makes furnishing fabric for the international retail, hotel and leisure markets, Hartley Hemisphere manufactures office, education, church and general contract fabrics and bespoke designs for the international market and Weavestyle makes exclusive bespoke fabric for window blinds, home furnishing departments of leading high street chains, the luxury interiors market and furniture manufacturers and wholesalers.

Mr Alderslade said the name`F3' had been chosen because it was short and memorable.

He said: "We felt it was important to have a name that describes our new integrated organisation and our new opportunity. It breaks from the past, recognises the generations of skill that our business is built upon and points to the future. It represents our new beginning.

"It is our plan to fully integrate the new organisation, and to achieve world-class standards of performance in every area. Everyone will play his or her part in finding and improving the best way, so that John Hartley, Harris Fabrics and Weavestyle prosper for another 100 to 150 years. That is our challenge."

By Deborah Bowyer