New move for manufacturer after ‘Trouser Town’ Hebden Bridge social media row

The Last Factory: Richard Pickles with cutter Trevor Snell at Shorties, with the new outlet - The Last Factory - selling direct to the public for the first time; its website is expected to be up and running in just a few weeks. Picture: Charles Round
The Last Factory: Richard Pickles with cutter Trevor Snell at Shorties, with the new outlet - The Last Factory - selling direct to the public for the first time; its website is expected to be up and running in just a few weeks. Picture: Charles Round

The last factory in Hebden Bridge which manufactures trousers is set to soon be selling them directly to the public.

Shorties (UK) Ltd, of Melbourne Street, is ready to open its first direct sales outlet under the name The Last Factory, following a falling out with another Hebden Bridge company HebTroCo, which was a retail customer.

With HebTroCo still having £20,000 worth of stock of cords and moleskin trousers for sale and using local craftsmen to produce other goods it sells, such as belts, products made in Hebden Bridge will be available from two outlets, for a while.

Last week a social media row broke out between the two companies with Richard Pickles of Shorties alleging HebTroCo had switched production to another factory, which is in Lancashire.

Mr Pickles posted on Facebook asking HebTroCo to remove any references in its promotional material which were filmed at Shorties and featured its staff. He said HebTroCo had made much of the back story of “Trouser Town” - a reference to days when Hebden Bridge produced a huge amount of clothing - and helping revive the trouser manufacturing base there.

But Brant Richards of HebTroCo says that with plenty of stock and with summer approaching HebTroCo had to concentrate on lighter summer wear which was not produced by Shorties but had expected to pick up orders with them again in the autumn. He said he, business partner Ed Oxley and staff had been stunned and upset by the social media campaign and it had impacted on them. “We were just astonished and horrified, shocked at what happened,” he said. “I don’t like fighting in public. They have asked us to remove imagery and we have done that in as best and timely a manner as we could.

“Our desire is for British made goods from the north of England to be sold worldwide and we will continue to proudly sell trousers made in Hebden Bridge - we have £20,000 worth in stock and we are happy with the quality.”

Meanwhile Mr Pickles said his company, having cleared time for manufacture, had to utilise it and The Last Factory website should be up and running in just a few weeks.

“If I’m going to show loyalty to my workforce - and some of them have worked for me for 25 years - I had to do something,” he said. “The back story is true - I’m a third generation textile trader in Hebden Bridge. It is vital we get this going as soon as possible.”

He said Shorties, founded in 1979, had not previously had any issues with HebTroCo.

Both companies agreed they had a right to source and sell their goods as they wished.

Brant said he hoped some good could come out of the disagreement, which had been painful. “If people can get motivated about British goods, that’s great for everyone,” he said.