Greetings card giant Hallmark UK has signed an exclusive deal with a Shipley printing firm to produce 20 per cent of its cards and become its new UK manufacturing base.

The move followed US-owned Hallmark’s decision to outsource card manufacturing from its Dawson Lane, Dudley Hill, site – mainly to the Far East – by the end of 2014 with the potential loss of 300 jobs.

Hallmark UK boss Steve Wright said the deal to transfer 20 per cent of its production to Herbert Walker printers showed its commitment to Bradford, where it has operated for 30 years.

He said full details of the new arrangements would be agreed during consultations about Hallmark’s restructuring, but would include some workers transferring through TUPE arrangements to Walkers, which will also take over some of Hallmark’s printing machinery.

Keith Chapman, Herbert Walker’s chairman, said: “We can confirm that we’ll be handling some of the printing that is being outsourced from Dawson Lane and, over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working closely with Hallmark to ensure that the transition process runs according to plan.”

Workers being transferred will come from a 40-strong pool of Hallmark staff who will either move to Shipley or be redeployed within Hallmark, leaving the net number of potential job losses at 300.

Mr Wright said “By signing this deal with Herbert Walker we are retaining our UK manufacturing in the Bradford area, which was a conscious decision.

“This is a difficult time for everyone and we are genuinely sorry about those individuals affected by the outsourcing of card manufacturing and will do everything we physically can to help them through this.

“It is a business decision based on changing market needs and my responsibility to ensure a healthy long-term future for Hallmark in the UK and in Bradford.

I have choices to make on where we put our money and what differentiates us is our design and innovation capability on which we are focusing. We have a supply network which includes the Far East where they are geared to satisfy our production needs.

“It is not economically viable to satisfy those needs through our operation at Dawson Lane.”

The Unite union said Hallmark’’s outsourcing decision was “devastating” and officials have held talks with the company’s management to discuss the job losses .

Chris Daly, Unite regional officer, said: “This is a truly devastating blow, not only for the workers at Hallmark, but also for the wider community.

“The 300 jobs that will be lost because of Hallmark’s decision to outsource manufacturing will leave a huge hole in terms of employment and the loss of incomes of those affected.

“It is enormously disappointing that yet another company has turned its back on UK manufacturing and UK workers. We will do our best to ameliorate the impact of these cuts.”