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Japanese warehousing firm invests £22.5m in North-East site
A HUGE new car parts warehouse has become the first business in the country to open on one of the government's new enterprise zones.
Construction of Vantec's half a kilometre long building, which sits close to Nissan's Sunderland factory, is a major coup for the North-East and further boosts the region's reputation as a global hotbed for the automotive industry.
The £22.5m project has created 140 jobs with 60 more workers set to join the ranks by April.
Japan-based Vantec looks after warehousing and logistics for leading vehicle and engine makers such as Cummins in Darlington and Komatsu UK in Birtley.
Vantec's biggest customer is Nissan and the new facility will handle about six million packages a year containing parts destined for the Sunderland car plant.
The project went ahead after it was pledged £2.7m from the government's Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which aims to bring jobs and investment to hard hit areas. Furthermore, the land where the warehouse was built is designated an enterprise zone, which means Vantec will benefit from business rate relief and enhanced capital allowances, which give tax breaks to support investment in new machinery.
Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East LEP, which manages the North East Enterprise Zone, hailed completion of the landmark project. "It's great to see Vantec's new warehouse building open for business on the enterprise zone. The North-East, and Sunderland in particular, is already a hugely important area for the UKs automotive industry. The city's ambitions are enhanced by this development, and we are working hard alongside the City Council and partners to build on this success by attracting new investors to the region."
Martin Kendall, the managing director of Vantec Europe, who welcomed dignitaries from Japan to yesterday's opening ceremony, explained: "Securing RGF money was the key to this going ahead. It is the largest investment on a project ever made by the company since it set up in the North-East (20 years ago). This is testament to our strong and growing customer base and we couldn't have achieved it without support from Sunderland City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership."
Vantec, which was bought last year by Hitachi Transport Systems, already employs more than 900 people in the North-East at sites across the region including a 148,000 sq ft warehouse at Cherry Blossom Way in Sunderland and a facility at Cummins' factory in Darlington.
In recent months, the firm has won major orders from Johnson Controls; a deal to set up a logistics operation to support Nissan's St Petersburg plant, and one with an unnamed client.
"It is so pleasing to have completed this project ahead of schedule and with no negative impact on the day-to-day operations at Nissan," added Mr Kendall. "I cant heap enough praise on the team who helped to design and build this project - many of them gave up their Christmases to ensure this was delivered on time,"
Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles said: "This is good news for Sunderland, and testament to the potential of enterprise zones to deliver growth across the country. The Government is fostering local enterprise and creating the conditions for businesses like Vantec to further invest and thrive in low tax, low regulation enterprise zones. This means businesses can have all the incentives they need to grow their local economy and create new local jobs."