BOLTON is ringing the changes as a number of modern successors to the old red phone box spring up in the borough.

Readers will have noticed the black New World Payphone kiosks dotted around the town centre – as well as one in Farnworth.

But some may not be aware that the booths were made at a Westhoughton factory by Lord Sugar’s company, Amscreen.

The company based at Wingates Industrial Estate, has provided media giant Clear Channel, which owns New World Payphones, with more than 350 booths currently being installed all over the country.

The state-of-the-art kiosks feature a payphone, a touch screen with local services, and wi-fi capability. A large advertising screen forms the back of the booth.

Simon Sugar, the firm’s CEO, said :“We are really proud of what we have achieved. Previously the business was involved in wireless communications. It’s essentially a technology business - and used to be involved in monitoring things like vending machines and working for water utility companies. It was interesting but not very commercially viable.”

He continued: “As a business we took the technology and integrated into the back of screens. There’s been a big push in the market to transfer lots of paper to digital, so we were one of early starters in that field, initially focusing on indoor screens.

“You may have seen them up and down the country in petrol stations and have about 15,000 indoor screens out there across our markets.

“The big push for us was the big outdoor screens and the phone boxes are a part of that.”

The business, which also provides screen at bus shelters and supermarkets, has tripled its staff since launching – and the Clear Channel contract has been a significant part of that success.

Mr Sugar added: “When first started off as a business we probably had about 20 people there- all really smart people and we have a head office, engineers and helpdesk and a factory where we assemble all the equipment.

“The business, in a sense, is growing and we bring on people when we need to. We now have a core team of about 60 people and when we have a new project bring other people on, whether as part-timers, or consultants.

“Creating jobs has been fantastic, so we are assembling these big units and also providing lots of business to businesses locally .

“Anything we can buy locally, we do. It’s a win-win. We get a shorter lead time and support local business.”

Clear Channel is Amscreen’s biggest customer in the UK and Mr Sugar says that they media giant is ‘kind of married’.

He adds that while Clear Channel is essentially an advertising company, the booths will bring real benefits to communities.

He said: “Believe it or not the total call users are in phone boxes going up. That’s not the primary focus but if these things are a lot cleaner than the old boxes , they’re more appealing to use and offer adverts and way-finding for The Samaritans and a few other charities Clear Channel has worked with.

“People like them and there has to be a few phone boxes in an area for emergencies. But it’s new and clean and, over time, are going to offer additional services.” Mr Sugar also says the black boxes have been ‘built to last’ and could one day be seen as iconic as the traditional red phone boxes.

The New World Payphones in Bolton have been installed in Deansgate, Knowsley Street, Oxford Street, Great Moor Street and Bradshawgate - all in Bolton town centre - and Higher Market Street, in Farnworth.