Lightweight Containers, a Dutch-based manufacturer of lightweight kegs for the drinks industry, has chosen to locate its first UK manufacturing plant in County Durham. The company has taken a 10 year lease on a 62,000 sq. ft. unit at Foxcover Industrial Estate in Seaham and expects to create around 35 jobs within two years. The company is currently fitting out the unit with the aim of commencing production in July.
The company already has production plants in Holland, Germany and the United States and has been searching for a site in the UK to satisfy a growing demand for its products, due in part to an upsurge in the craft brewing sector. It has opted for Seaham after a lengthy collaboration process involving Metnor Group, the owner of the site, HTA who acted as agents for Metnor and the inward investment team at Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council.
Ruud Bais, Chief Technical Officer at Lightweight Containers, has been closely involved with the selection process and said: “We have been searching for a suitable site for several months and were particularly impressed by the commitment and desire of Business Durham and Metnor to attract us to the area. They were able to satisfy all of our requirements and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship with them as our business develops.”
“As a business, we aim to support the local community and to this end we have engaged predominantly local North East based contractors to carry out the initial fit out of the unit. Whilst this will be the base for our UK operations as a whole, we are aware of the North East’s brewing heritage and look forward to showcasing our products to the region’s growing number of craft brewers”.
Peter Rippingale, inward investment manager at Business Durham, has been involved with the deal from the outset and said he was delighted with the outcome.
“When we heard about Lightweight Containers’ interest in the area we were able to demonstrate to them the strong manufacturing heritage of the North East and the availability of a skilled pool of labour which were essential to their needs. They are committed to using the local workforce and I’m delighted they have already recruited a factory manager alongside a number of other skilled roles. This can only be good news for the local economy.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, the councils Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “It is great to see another company choosing County Durham as a place to expand and this again reinforces our growing reputation as a desirable location for business.
“This will provide another boost for the local economy both in Seaham and further afield and we look forward to production starting in June.”
Keith Atkinson, director at Metnor Group, helped negotiate the deal and is delighted with the outcome stating that: “Bringing an overseas business to the area has been an exciting challenge for all those involved. For our part, we have invested a significant sum of money in upgrading the power supply at our unit, which was a pre-requisite before production could start, and we look forward to seeing the first kegs roll off the production line.”
Russell Taylor, director at industrial property specialists HTA Real Estate who brokered the letting, added: “Industrial premises of the size and quality of Foxcover continue to be in short supply within the North East market and so interest in the property was strong. It was particularly pleasing to be able to satisfy an inward investment enquiry such as this. It is becoming increasingly important for the region to have an active development pipeline of new high-quality accommodation for the manufacturing and logistics sectors in order that future inward investment can be satisfied.”