500 jobs are on the way thanks to Ripponden company

Official opening of new call centre at JLA, Rochdale Road, Ripponden
Official opening of new call centre at JLA, Rochdale Road, Ripponden

A THRIVING Calderdale company has started a five-year growth plan that will create up to 500 jobs.

Around two-thirds of those will be based at JLA’s HQ in Ripponden.

The firm supplies and services laundry and dishwashing equipment and has enjoyed steady growth since being founded by John Laithwaite in 1973.

But that growth is now being accelerated after private equity investor HG Capital bought a majority shareholding in March 2010 and is supplying the funds for rapid expansion.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker yesterday opened a £1m call centre, which will accommodate 60 staff, and the firm is currently recruiting marketing and sales staff and engineers.

Company chief executive Stephen Baxter said the business was going from strength to strength.

“Our vision is to double the company and the good news is that creates a lot of jobs,” he told staff and guests at the opening.

JLA has also started an apprenticeship scheme providing engineering training for youngsters and established a business development team to research and develop new products and services.

He said innvoation helped JLA keep ahead of competitors and a revolutionary development is the high technology Otex disinfection system which destroys superbugs and other bacteria.

It cost £5 million to develop and also uses mostly cold water thereby reducing utility bills.

“We will be growing our laundry business and moving into new products and services our customers want,” said Mr Baxter.

Catering products, medical equipment, and boilers are all targeted in the drive to push the business past £100 million turnover

Mr Whittaker said JLA was a fantastic business and success story.

“JLA is a fantastic good news story with 370 employees and 30 jobs currently advertised and this new centre will support it in a big way,” he said.

More than 120 engineers are employed on the road offering a rapid response to limit downtime which can have serious consequences for customers which include care homes, hospitals, prisons and university halls of residence.

Around 200 staff are based in Ripponden which will remain the company’s headquarters and it is also looking at acquisitions to add to organic growth.

Mr Baxter joined the business in October 2010 and was previously chief operating officer at airport owner BAA and chief executive at Peel Ports Group.