MORE than 100 jobs are being created at an automotive parts supplier thanks to a grant of £500,000.

The grant will help brake pad manufacturer TMD Friction, in Hartlepool, increase its capacity by more than 50 per cent.

The company will add a further 102 staff to its workforce of 190 thanks to the regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grant.

The grant was announced by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, who said: "I am delighted that the DTI is able to support TMD's investment in the latest technology, plant and equipment, so that it can maintain its competitiveness and continue to grow in Europe through exports to existing major customers and to new ones.

"The investment represents a significant opportunity for the Hartlepool operation to become the centre for excellence for Europe for car accessory shops, dealer networks and garages.

"It will create high-skilled, technical, supervisory, manufacturing and administrative jobs."

The grant forms part of the company's £2.9m expansion programme.

TMD UK is a division of TMD Group, which has operations in Germany, France, Spain and Sweden, as well as a presence in North and South America and China.

TMD develops, manufactures and supplies a range of more than 900 own-brand automotive friction products through dealer networks, independent garages and retailers.

The company's dual phase expansion includes the building of a 6,000sq ft extension to its existing premises, and the purchase of new moulding machines and paint curing equipment.

Nigel Topping, operations director at TMD, said: "The after market serviced by the Hartlepool plant is crucial to the group's plans for growth, and the support of the RSA grant will help us to realise those plans.

"One of the goals of TMD is to be recognised as a world class company in each of our markets, excelling in everything we do and distinguishing us from our competitors.

"To achieve this, our strategy will be to utilise the full potential of our workforce, by promoting training and encouraging them to contribute to all areas of the business.

"This is very much the case in Hartlepool where, over the next 12 months, TMD plans to invest £100,000 in training done in conjunction with Hartlepool Borough Council."

Antony Steinberg, Hartlepool council's senior economic development officer, welcomed the company's expansion.

He said: "This is great news for Hartlepool. TMD is one of the town's major employers and this expansion will create a range of good quality jobs for local people."