A FAMILY steel firm could create jobs as it expands into a new base, The Northern Echo can reveal.

SM Thompson is switching factories amid plans to strengthen its order book.

The business, which cuts steel plate for customers, is leaving its Marathon Works headquarters, under the shadows of Middlesbrough’s Newport Bridge, for a site in nearby South Bank.

It added the move, expected to be completed by the end of the week, will provide potential to add to its workforce of about 25 staff.

Harvey Thompson, managing director, said the South Bank base, on the other side of Middlesbrough, offers greater space to bring in more advanced cranes to move stock.

He also said the plant will mean the business can operate more efficiently, reducing customers’ waiting time.

He told The Northern Echo: “We have been in the throes of this for about a year and a lot of the lads are there already.

“It’s down to growth; we needed the space for the extra cranage and we can run a lot more efficiently.

“We have about 25 people here and there is scope to employ more.

“When the opportunity came up we knew it was the right thing to do.”

The business which carries out flame, laser and plasma cutting, as well as plate rolling, has customers across sectors such as the construction, manufacturing and oil and gas markets.

With its core client base stretching across a 60-mile radius, Mr Thompson said he hopes the factory move will strengthen its industry standing and offer a gateway to potential new trade.

He also said the switch will provides a timely lift after the company, like so many across Teesside, was affected by the collapse of Redcar steelmaker SSI UK.

The Thai steel firm’s liquidation forced many suppliers to cut jobs as they dealt with the loss of valuable contracts.

However, while Mr Thompson said his business wasn’t immune from SSI’s troubles, he added it has continued to move forward.

He added: “We did a little bit of work directly (for SSI) but a lot more indirectly with sub-contractors.

“But this move means we are sustaining our future.”

Property firm Dodds Brown, which has offices in Middlesbrough, has been appointed to find a new tenant for Thompson’s base, which includes 11,387sq ft of warehousing and workshops and more than 1,000sq ft of offices.

Stephen Brown, senior partner, added: “There is a shortage of such flexible premises on Teesside and this site would suit a variety of industrial occupiers.”