A FAMILY-RUN firm has moved closer to bringing washing machine manufacturing back to the UK.

Ebac, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has launched a website to find out about consumers and experts demands.

Bosses say it will allow designers to tailor its products to market needs.

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The company has invested £7m in the washing machine venture.

Pamela Petty, managing director, said: “This is a great chance for people to shape the next generation of British-made washing machines.

“We have done a lot of research, but the people who use the machines are the real experts.”

Mrs Petty previously told The Northern Echo it hopes to start making the machines in September, with production line equipment due to be installed in the summer.

The firm, which already manufactures water coolers, dehumidifiers and heat pumps, employs about 200 workers and says it could make more than 100,000 appliances in the North-East.

Mrs Petty added: “The washing machine market is very competitive, but we are confident we can do well.

“It's a technological shift for us because we are the leader in two niche markets.

“However, there is no glaring reason why we can't make and sell washing machines profitably in the UK.”