A NORTH-EAST construction firm has bought £750,000 machinery to maintain its work in across the region.

The Owen Pugh Group has invested in seven excavators and two shovel loaders from Newcastle-based Scot JCB.

Bosses say the excavators will be used for earthmoving and demolition work, with the loaders shifting deliveries at the firm's aggregate base in Marsden Quarry, South Tyneside.

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Owen Pugh, which employs 364 North-East workers, has its headquarters in Dudley, Northumberland, and runs its HCS Drains Service division, in Stockton.

Earlier this year, its construction and civil engineering business secured a £2.3m deal to build an ash processing plant at recycling firm Sita UK's Haverton Hill site, near Stockton, which will handle up to 200,000 tonnes of ash every year.

Paul Cockburn, general manager of Owen Pugh and Co, which is responsible for the company’s plant hire and haulage businesses, said the investment will increase work and cut fuel costs.

He said: “Excavators are the lynchpin of our on-site work, so these machines will help maximise efficiency.

“The two loading shovels at Marsden will replace ageing equipment and the fuel efficient engines should bring a positive impact on fuel costs.”

Earlier this month, Owen Pugh announced increased turnover to about £32m, but saw operating profits fall, blaming the stagnant construction sector and bad weather affecting work.

John Dickson, Owen Pugh chairman, said: “Given the trading conditions, we were pleased the results, and when the North-East civil engineering industry recovery arrives, we're ready to take advantage.”