AN iconic century-old Bury mill which has changed hands for almost £1 million will generate 100 jobs as it undergoes a new lease of life.

Up to eight starter units for fledgling businesses are proposed to be constructed in the grounds of the landmark Pilot Mill in Alfred Street by its new owners, Baum Trading.

The importers of ready-made garments and fashion accessories are working closely with Bury Council’s planning department.

Baum is owned by Whitefield man and managing director David Weidenbaum, aged 56, and co-director Nandas Varsani, aged 54, who have been in business together for 30 years.

Non-executive director is David’s father, Peter, who before he retired was well-known throughout the Bury area and chairman and managing director of measuring equipment firm, Trumeter, and past president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

David said: “We acquired the Pilot Mill from Antler last November for just under £1 million. We knew that several developers were after the building for residential development and that would have meant Pilot Mill being demolished.

“We anticipate spending a further £700,000 over the next couple of years on construction of the starter units and refurbishment of the main building and grounds. Selected areas of the main mill will be tenanted to small, start-up businesses, run by individuals known to us.”

The five-storey building, which commands 240,000 sq ft of floor space, had served as the head office of luggage firm Antler since 1962.

But the company closed the Pilot Mill earlier this year with the loss of 46 jobs after a decision to relocate to London.

As well as the units, a new factory outlet shop is to open in September under separate management which will employ up to 12 people — including three ex-Antler staff who had previously worked in the company’s factory shop.

Since 2003, Baum has operated its business from the Devon Mill in Oldham which it also owns.

However, 30 of its 50-strong workforce have transferred to Pilot Mill.

David added: “We engaged with Bury Council very early on. They have been very co-operative. Above all, we shared the same vision that the building and land remain as an employment zone.

“It is our hope and intention to have more than 100 people employed at the Pilot Mill by 2016.”

Peter added: “We want Pilot Mill to be the brand name here. We are bringing back to life a facility that could so easily have been eliminated.”