A FIREPLACE maker aims to invest in new machinery to continue its strong growth.

Katell, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, says it wants to maintain its ongoing expansion after increasing turnover by 10 per cent.

The company, which employs 72 workers, expects turnover to hit £6m by the end of March.

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Operating on projects across the UK, it has secured high-profile contracts at Heathrow Airport and is working for a chain of Italian restaurants in Scotland.

The firm, owned by Charlton and Jenrick, makes about 500 fireplaces and surrounds for Homebase, Asda and Tesco every week, as well social housing providers and local authorities.

It also makes wardrobes and furniture, including items for care homes, with bosses saying these divisions are helping to make up about 30 per cent of turnover.

Martin Holmes, design director, has been with Katell since 2000, and said it planned to buy new machinery in the coming months.

He has worked on its product ranges since the firm moved to Durham Way North, in Newton Aycliffe, after fire damaged its former factory eight years ago.

He said: “We have had a really good start to the year and we are working on a couple of exciting projects.

“One is sub-contract work for a shop fitting company who are renovating a first class lounge at Heathrow, and the other is counters and benches for a chain of Italian restaurants in Glasgow.

“We have also increased our workforce to 72, and just taken on a new sales rep to cover the North-West and West Midlands.”

Mr Holmes said Katell, like a number of firms, have had to adapt to the difficult business climate.

However, he said its reputation, coupled with its experience, has allowed it to remain successful.

He said: “Fireplaces and surrounds have been our mainstay from day one and we continue to mass produce them for councils as far Cornwall, South Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland, as well as for big name national retailers.

“Our in-house design team has more than 20 years experience in the furniture and joinery industry, and our designers can create fully working prototypes from basic sketches or fully detailed piece part drawings using 3D modelling software.

“We can supply realistic renderings and have an extensive range of timber processing machines and highly-trained workers to produce accurate components at a very high standard.”