A PRECISION engineering firm says it could double turnover after building an £8m factory.

Darchem Engineering, in Stillington, near Darlington, says its 75,000sq ft plant will spearhead further growth in the nuclear sector.

Bosses say it will be capable of making large-scale products, including 350-tonne stainless steel waste boxes.

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The factory has created 86 fabrication and welding jobs and will support 29 posts, pushing the Esterline Corporation-owned firm’s workforce to 865.

The move comes as the Government targets low-carbon power and reduced generating costs.

Last year, ministers approved the UK’s first new nuclear station in a generation at Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, and US firm Westinghouse could build a new plant at Sellafield.

Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, due to close in 2019, will also remain open until 2024.

Billy Meijer, Darchem’s managing director told The Northern Echo its factory expansion would deliver a number of benefits, including increased turnover.

Darchem’s turnover stood at £83.5m for year ending October 2013.

He said: “This has been built for the nuclear sector and we are bidding for a lot of work on that side.

“It could potentially double turnover because of the opportunities in the industry.

“This factory is purpose-built to our needs.

“The waste boxes are 11 metres high, and it means we have the room to work on them.

“It demonstrates our strength in the markets we serve and the confidence of Esterline.”

The company also makes specialist metal fabrications, fire protection and insulation products for the aerospace, oil and gas and automotive industries.

Last year, it signed a contract to protect Indian sailors with a fire barrier designed to withstand temperatures up to 1,000C, and has deals with Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

Mr Meijer added: “We have seen significant growth in aerospace, defence, automotive and energy, winning many contracts, and we have the chance to bid for even more substantial projects, which is fuelling this new plant.”

The factory was supported by £1m Government Regional Growth Fund (RGF) cash and Energy Minister Michael Fallon visited the site to officially commission its development.

Mr Fallon, the former Darlington MP, said: “This is a company that is going places.

“The investment in nuclear is creating jobs right across the UK.

“Darchem is a part of the North-East’s manufacturing history, but its work on energy means it’s also very much the future and key to the area’s reinvention.

“This is one of the most important companies in the region with a big future in growth sectors offering high-tech jobs.”

Mr Fallon also said the company’s plant was proof the Government’s RGF scheme was working.

He added: “This is a dynamic new factory and a fine example of the impact RGF can have in supporting businesses to deliver growth, win new contracts and create jobs.

Teesside has done well out of the RGF with some £164m going into the area and I urge any companies looking at investment to see how it can help.”