BOSSES of upmarket furniture firm Smallbone of Devizes hope to start building a new factory in the town within a year.

Director Bob Moore said the company, which supplies kitchens to the rich and famous, is looking at several sites close to its existing base on the Hopton Industrial Estate.

The sites include land between London Road and Horton Road near the bike school, farmland owned by the Crown Estate and another plot on the Hopton estate.

He said: “It is early days but I would like to have completed a deal for around five acres of land and got planning permission within six months.

“We will be having discussions with Wiltshire Council.”

Lux Group Holdings, who own Smallbone has already spent £1 million updating the existing factory, which is leased from Gaigers, but the new machinery will move to the new site.

Mr Moore estimates it will cost around another £3 million to buy land, put in infrastructure and build a super-modern factory.

Fellow director Iain O’Mahony said it was hoped the new factory would open in early 2021.

Last week the firm confirmed that it has started redundancy negotiations with unions.

It was thought that about 50 people would lose their jobs but Mr Moore this week clarified the situation and said the total figure was likely to be 66 but this included those who were opting to leave.

He said: “We are upbeat about the future of the company here in Devizes but at the moment that is rather overshadowed by the redundancy discussions.

“We understand that causes uncertainty for the work force.”

Many of the big decisions on the future Smallbone are now taken by Americans Gary Barnett and Ron Shemesh.

New York based entrepreneur Mr Barnett stepped in to save the Smallbone brand and workforce last November when former owners Canburg faced liquidation.

He has now been joined as a partner in Lux Holdings by Mr Shemesh who is a frequent visitor to Devizes and has a far more hands on role.

He approved the £1 million upgrade of the Devizes factory which had seen little money invested in it for a number of years.

Now it has state of the art technology but Mr Moore said that the craftsmanship of the experienced Devizes employees was still a prized asset and was one of its top selling points with wealthy clients.

Mr Shemesh said: “While some of the employees have decided to take leave and pursue other avenues, and some others might be made redundant, the company intends to grow the operation over the next several years.”

He has agreed plans to keep the factory in Devizes and recognises the heritage of the business, which was started in the 1970s in Bishops Cannings by Charlie Smallbone and Graham Clark, is enjoyed by many clients.