Foundry expanding after record high for exports

EXPORT SALES RISE: Pouring ten tonnes of molten steel at Bonds Foundry, in Tow Law

EXPORT SALES RISE: Dressing a casting for the construction industry at Bonds Foundry, in Tow Law

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Business Editor

EXPORTS from the North- East have reached another record high, with the region exporting £14bn in the 12 months to the end of June.

The figures from HM Revenue and Customs show the region has increased exports by 7.8 per cent on the previous 12 months – to the end of June 2011 – despite a dip in the latest quarterly figures of about 6.3 per cent.

The US remains the largest single market for North-East goods, with a 12-month export value of £2.4bn, an increase of 17.9 per cent on the previous 12-month figure.

One of the region’s fastest growing markets is Thailand with an increase of £90.5m, or 316 per cent, to give a total of £119.2m.

Exports of beverages and tobacco and crude materials are up on the previous year by 83.5 and 29.5 per cent respectively.

There were also increases in machinery and transport equipment (14.8 per cent), chemicals and related products (4.98 per cent), food and live animals (7.3 per cent) and manufactured goods (ten per cent).

Among those succeeding in the international marketplace is Bonds, an expanding group of foundries in the north of England which sells more than half of its steel castings directly overseas to 23 countries.

While its top export markets are in Europe, last year Bonds added Mexico, Brazil, Israel and Japan to its growing list. The company, which won the Queen’s Award for International Trade last year, has benefited from a range of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) support services.

The company, which runs Bonds Foundry, in Tow Law, County Durham, and Bonds Precision Castings (BPC), in Alston, Cumbria, is also converting a derelict site that will boost its production capacity.

Building work at the former Kenmore plant, in Crook , County Durham, is due to be complete in the autumn.

Bonds group director Jon Blackett said: “Exporting is the lifeblood of our business, with some 90 per cent of our castings ultimately being used overseas.

“This year, we anticipate our export sales to rise by 35 per cent and with signs of growing demand, particularly from the oil and gas sector, we have increased our workforce from 175 to 220 people and are investing here in the north of England to expand our manufacturing capacity.

“We are proof that traditional engineering can survive and prosper in the North by being adaptive and responsive to the international market.”

David Coppock, UKTI’s regional director, said: “Despite a dip in export figures during the past three months, the North-East has enjoyed another excellent export performance this year – our highest recorded. But we cannot be complacent. We want to see even more companies stepping up to the international trade challenge, as Bonds has done so successfully.

“Our aim is to help create 500 exporters over the next two years and we will be spending the next quarter encouraging and supporting firms to do this.”

To get help with exports, contact the North-East International Trade Hotline on 0845-05-05-054 or email enquiries@uktinortheast.org.uk

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