A HISTORIC Oxford building firm which cut its workforce as the recession struck in 2008 is looking to recruit once more.

Knowles and Son, which dates back to 1797, saw its workforce almost halve four years ago as orders dried up and bosses were forced to cut costs.

But now the business, based on the Osney Mead industrial estate, is looking to expand its workforce again, despite the economy sliding back into recession.

A key appointment has been director of building Alistair Lindsay, 50, who will generate work in maintenance and smaller projects up to £5m.

Chairman Tom Knowles said: “We are cautiously optimistic and we have made three new appointments recently, with two more to come.

“We are also re-employing people such as estimator Andrew Morris who worked for us before but had to let go. Contract inquiries are up and down but the level is fairly good now.

“We are being pro-active. The best quality business is what you want to do and you have to look for that.”

Mr Knowles, 37, is the eighth generation of the family firm. He said one of the growth areas was in student accommodation, with the firm working on the redevelopment of the Lumleys Tea building on the corner of Oxford’s Walton Street and Little Clarendon Street.

Other projects include the £950,000 refurbishment of Christ Church’s Grade II-listed Meadow Building.

The firm, which shrank from more than 140 to 77 today, is also looking to restart its apprenticeship scheme.

  • Older workers and experienced professionals are being urged to consider construction as a career as part of Adult Learners’ Week – see the website cskillls.org