A NORTH-EAST engineering firm, which supported work on the UK's largest nuclear project, says it hopes to strengthen its order book again after moving into a new plant.

SBV Fabrications, which supplies steel fabrication and pipework to nuclear, subsea, and oil and gas companies, has opened a factory on the banks of Middlesbrough's River Tees.

Bosses say the 27,000 sq foot plant will allow it to target new contracts across the offshore energy sector, while providing support for its existing bases in South Bank, near Middlesbrough, and Hartlepool.

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The company, which employs more than 300 people, has more than trebled its workforce since 2010, and earlier this year secured a £400,000 investment from regional fund management firm, NEL Fund Managers, to maintain its growth.

It carried out £1m work to supply steel structures for the Sellafield Evaporator D plant, which will handle the UK's liquid nuclear waste, and works across a number of industries, providing gas holder refurbishment, steelwork for mine faces and pit heads, and lifting frames for offshore remote operated vehicles.

Directors David Geary and Samantha Condren acquired the business in 2008, just before the start of the recession.

Ms Condren said: “This new factory gives us the ability to take on even larger projects in the offshore, subsea and oil and gas sectors, while still continuing to develop our existing customer base.

“We are working with a number of new customers who need suppliers that have the established ability to support their requirements and the new plant shows we can meet that need.”

Ms Condren said the financial help from NEL had provided a timely boost, which it was now benefiting from.

She said: “The difficulties that everyone in our sector experienced when the recession hit are well known.

“However, by widening our horizons, we equipped the business to not only get through the worst of the downturn, but to also be ready to capitalise on new opportunities as things began to slowly improve.”

In 2007, SBV bought HQ Engineering, in Hartlepool, which went into liquidation two days before Christmas, with debts of more than £2m and the loss of 95 jobs.

The firm bought its assets and invested £90,000 to buy new equipment and re-employ 50 workers.