COMPANIES are lining up to take space in the business park on the site of Samsung's doomed microwave factory, the new owner said last night.

North-East businessman Chris Musgrave has lost no time in marketing his latest acquisition.

The Northern Echo revealed last month that he had agreed a deal to buy the plant at Wynyard, near Billingham.

Negotiations began before Samsung confirmed it was pulling out of UK production with the loss of 425 jobs.

Last night, a delighted Mr Musgrave told The Northern Echo four companies had been shown around the site.

He refused to confirm who they were.

"My first priority has to be to get tenants in existing buildings and to help replace jobs that have been lost," he said.

"There are lots of skilled people who have lost their jobs, and I am aiming to have a new tenant in place before Samsung closes down."

Before he does that, Mr Musgrave will need to obtain planning permission.

At present, the site can only be used as an electronics components park. Mr Musgrave said he would be submitting a new planning application for change of use to a business park as soon as possible.

The deal brings with it renewed hope for some of the 425 Samsung workers who are due to lose their jobs.

Mr Musgrave said: "I am confident we can turn this into a success story for the North-East, but it is early days and we face a number of challenges. I know everyone involved shares the same objective I do, and that is to attract business, creating long-term sustainable jobs."

Explaining what attracted him to the site, Mr Musgrave, 38, who comes from Hartlepool, said: "The site really appealed to me because it is on my patch and I pass there every day.

"It has also has excellent links to major roads and the buildings are of a good, high quality."

He also moved to scotch fears that the site could be used as a warehouse for disused freezer cabinets earmarked for disposal by his other company JCM, based at another defunct Samsung site in Billingham.

He said: "I do not want to create a business park full of crinkly tin sheds. I would like to attract companies from all around the UK and the world."

The Samsung factory was opened nine years ago by the Queen after the company received at least £10.5m in government grants.

However, Samsung said UK workers' £5.50-an-hour wages were too high for the plant to be cost effective.

News of the deal has been welcomed by The Samsung Project Group, who are working with Wynyard Limited to see how the site can be developed.

George Garlick, project group chairman and chief executive of Stockton Borough Council, said: "We are committed to working with developers to ensure any scheme for the Samsung buildings and land brings the maximum benefits to the surrounding area and the North-East as a whole in terms of job creation and quality development."