A FAMILY-RUN shed and canopy maker hopes to create jobs after complementing a County Durham expansion with a lucrative market move.

Ellipse Fabrications has switched to Stainton Grove Industrial Estate, on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, to maintain its growth.

The business, known for designing and making agricultural sheds and garden centre canopies, is now producing mobile pods used by campers wanting to add home comforts to their holidays.

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Stuart Metcalf, Ellipse founder, says the fashion for such ‘glamping’ is a growing market, and came up with an idea for a pod on wheels following an enquiry at an exhibition.

Mr Metcalf, who grew up on a dairy farm close to Staindrop, near Barnard Castle, and studied for an agricultural engineering degree before embarking on a career in the horticultural engineering sector, said the camping industry can provide fresh impetus for his business.

The firm already designs units, such as fodder stores, horse shelters and calf rearing units, while its canopies now account for around a third of business, thanks to garden centre demand.

However, Mr Metcalf, who runs the business with wife and co-director Julie, said he expects to add to the firm’s eight-strong team this year as its ‘glamping’ endeavours augment such traditional work.

He said: “It’s taking something, which is pretty much off the shelf for us, and adapting it for the market, as each of the leisure shelters can be customised to whatever the clients want.

“The response we’ve had has been quite remarkable. The things that set it apart are the veranda, which others don’t seem to have, and the quality of internal space.

“Others also seem to have curved roofs running in the opposite direction, so it tends to feel a bit claustrophobic at one end.

“We’ve created more headroom so people tell us it feels enormous by comparison. We’re pretty innovative in what we do, and we have a core customer base, which works with us.

“Customers come to us with challenges, like ventilation issues, and we come up with the solutions.”

Ellipse’s move to Stainton Grove has been supported by Business Durham, Durham County Council’s business division, which runs the park.

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director, said she was looking forward to seeing the company flourish in its new surroundings.

She added: “With their skills and ability to create products, they have all the elements for success.”