A major investment is taking shape to improve facilities at a North Shields factory and safeguard hundreds of jobs.
Fletcher Building is planning to invest tens of millions of pounds over the next three years in Formica Group’s North Shields factory and office.
Formica Group, which employs more than 300 people, produces thousands of different laminate sheets for doors in businesses, schools and hospitals around Europe.
Mark Adamson, CEO of Fletcher Building, was at the factory in Norham Road to see the progress on work bringing all staff back under one roof at the site.
Office space is currently being refurbished to bring sales staff and management from nearby Cobalt Park back onto the North Shields plant.
Speaking to the News Guardian, Mark said: “The investment will be spent in new technology and upgrading facilities.
“The problem with North Shields is that while people were spending money in North America and Asia, this business didn’t get its fair share of capital.
“They put together a business plan for me, suggested regenerating production capacity here, we looked at it and saw the Brexit vote was making the business more viable.
“We’re bringing the sales and management teams together under one roof, alongside the factory floor, so everyone will have a better idea of what is happening.
“It will certainly secure these jobs and if we’re successful with the new products there is potential we will grow jobs going forward.
“We will have the official opening of the new offices in June. It will be a really big occasion. Formica hasn’t had this much investment since it opened in 1946.”
The investment follows Fletcher Building’s cash-injection at its North America and Asian sites, bringing the North Shields into line with the latest technology.
Mark, who was born in Consett and now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, started work with Formica before moving up the career ladder.
Mark, who comes back to the North East at least twice a year, said: “I know the workforce really well, been involved in the business for 20 years.
“One thing you can rely on is the passion of the workforce, they are good in the North East. You need good leadership and investment and we’ve got both now.”
Formica makes laminate sheets of different sizes, colours and thickness, meaning there are tens of thousands potential products available for customers and for staff to make.
And their procedures mean that even if they get an order for one sheet, they are able to make it.
Tyler Fenwick, plant manager, said: “We have an extensive range of 250 colours and finishes, added to the various thickness and sizes, the potential for combinations is tens of millions.If we have the paper in stock and someone wants just one sheet, we will do it. We can do custom made sheets as well as custom or digital print. It’s all part of our ‘younique’ product range.”
Their latest big seller is a fingerprint resistant product Formica Infiniti, which is proving popular in additional commercial environments such as offices, and hospitality and retail.