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400 new jobs hope at former LG factory site.

Byline: By Rebekah Ashby

Manufacturing group Tanfield is to bring new life ( and 400 new jobs ( into the mothballed LG Electronics factory in Washington.

County Durham group Tanfield plc is poised to take over the factory ( which employed 370 people at its peak and finally closed its doors in May 2004 when the Korean company moved production to China ( to make its electric vehicles, aerial platforms and tractor units.

Sources close to the deal said the company, currently at Stanley, will take over the 250,000sq ft buildiing, off the A1 near Washington Services, as a result of snapping up aerial platform maker UpRight, of Ireland, two months ago.

The Journal reported last April that Tanfield chief executive Roy Stanley was looking for huge premises to consolidate all operations of the enlarged business on one site in the region and cut back the Irish firm's sites in Japan and the US.

The news provides a shot in the arm for Washington after Dunlop, owned by US company Goodyear, announced plans to close its plant last April, with the loss of 585 jobs.

Last night, business leaders welcomed the news as a boost to North-East manufacturing and expanding homegrown businesses.

Washington West MP Sharon Hodgson said: "After the recent announced closure of Dunlop, we needed some good news in Washington and this kind of major investment shows that manufacturers still recognise that the North-East is a successful place to do business.

"Gateshead East and Washington West has talented and skilled workers and I'm sure Tanfield will have no problems recruiting high-calibre employees."

Engineering Employers' Federation Northern director Alan Hall said: "This is excellent news for Washington and excellent news for the North-East.

"Roy Stanley is a visionary individual who to me symbolises entrepreneurship, and to find entrepreneurship being focused on the manufacturing sector shows what could be done with many business opportunities and job creation in this region."

TUC Northern secretary Kevin Rowan said: "It puts the comments from those who said manufacturing has died in the region into perspective.

"We have always recognised we have the skills and experience to compete in manufacturing and it's a very welcome boost to see jobs coming to the region rather than leaving the region for cheaper labour costs.

"It's great to see a homegrown manufacturer doing well and it's great to see them continuing to expand."

Aim-listed Tanfield has said it hopes to double sales of UpRight products, which would boost its 460-strong workforce to almost 900.

Tanfield and One NorthEast last night declined to comment.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2006
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