A COUNTY Durham furniture company has unveiled £1.8m growth plans that will almost double the size of its manufacturing operation and enable it to look at national expansion.

Ambic, which designs and makes furnishings for the education sector, is celebrating its 25th year in business by defying the downturn in the manufacturing sector and wider economy by building a new factory.

The 24,000sq ft facility, in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, will bring Ambic’s manufacturing and administration arms under one roof, and will raise its workforce from 30 to 40.

The factory will help streamline the company, which operates from nine units in the town’s Stella Gill Industrial Estate.

The site, which is due for completion early next year, is being constructed nearby.

David Potter, managing director of Ambic, said the plans will help the company target national expansion.

“We have an ambitious vision for the way we want to take the business in the future, and our new factory will give us greater efficiency in all departments,” he said.

“This expansion will give us the foundations to improve market penetration and export the Ambic brand nationally. It secures allround improvements for our woodworking, metal, sheet metal, painting and precision engineering operations.”

The company was originally established at the Enterprise Workshop in Byker, Newcastle, and has established itself as a regional leader in its field.

It has amassed a strong client base among schools and further education centres, making products for classrooms, science laboratories and student accommodation.

Ambic also designs for, and supplies to, the NHS, police forces, blue chip businesses and some of the North-East’s universities.

Mr Potter said the new factory will help the company to be more environmentallyfriendly, and will shred or chip surplus wood to fuel a biomass furnace with clean air after-burners to heat the new factory.

“Incineration will reduce land-fill and greatly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and the current soaring energy costs,” he said.

Councillor Linda Ebbatson, leader of Chester-le- Street District Council, praised Ambic’s expansion during a time of widespread economic downturn.

“I would like to wish every success to this venture.

Ambic’s continuing positive approach to investing in the Chester-le-Street community and the economic well being of the area is excellent news,”

she said.