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Aviation stockist eye sup city's marine and shipping industry; DavidJonesmeets KAY ROBINSON,awomanina malebastion.


STOCK control of parts for the aircraft industry is a line of work that seems to run in Kay Robinson's family.

She is site manager on Deeside for James Fisher Warehousing & Distribution (JFWD), which provides a centralised warehousing service for the RAF, among other customers.

Mrs Robinson previously worked in progress tracing for British Aerospace, at Hatfield, but had picked up an early interest in the aviation industry from her father, Cliff Durban. He worked in interfactory control for de Havilland, later Hawker Siddeley, and then for British Aerospace at three sites, including Broughton, near Chester. And she admits that it is unusual to see a woman holding a senior position in a major warehousing operation like JFWD.

"I think the industry is seen in some ways as a last bastion of male dominance," she said.

"I took over as site manager here two years ago, but I very much started at the bottom. I had been on a Women Returning to Work course and did an NVQ4 in information technology.

"I went on a two-week work placement with James Fisher and on the second day I was offered a full-time job as an assistant stock controller."

Mrs Robinson says she loves her job and the responsibility that goes with it, but also pays tribute to the staff of nine full-timers and two part-timers, many of whom have been with the firm for 20 years.

The Ministry of Defence contract to service all the requirements of the RAF was set up in 1989 and won by James Fisher in 1994. The company has subsequently won tenders at fiveyearly intervals to continue the work.

"It was a huge contract involving the supply of parts to contractors who were repairing and maintaining RAF places at sites around the UK," said Mrs Robinson.

"We were based at RAF Sealand and had about 40 staff - but, because the building was owned by the RAF, we were contractually obliged to service only the RAF."

JFWD relocated from the Sealand site to the nearby Deeside Industrial Park four years ago - a move that opened up additional commercial business opportunities for the firm. It recently changed its name from James Fisher Defence to JFWD, to better reflect the nature of the work it does.

'Froma 20-anchor The MoD contract is still JFWD's core business activity on the site where the company has around 30,000 sq ft of warehousing split between a main site and adjacent overflow facilities. Depending on how successful the company is in attracting new clients from the private and public sectors, the company says it will consider moving to larger premises in the Deeside area, giving it roughly double the floor area to accommodate expected growth in the business. atiny washer' "If we do move to bigger premises on Deeside Industrial Park it will allow us to provide more office accom-modation for the group's marine and shipping services for contractors based in Liverpool and other ports," said Mrs Robinson.

JFWD delivers daily to numerous customer sites nationwide, using a combination of company fleet vehicles and a national courier service.

It makes regular deliveries from its existing Deeside base to aerospace firms Goodrich (formerly Lucas Aerospace) in Huyton and APPH in Runcorn, she added.

tonne to The company is searching out new commercial opportunities in North Wales and the North West of England - it says its transport links are excellent, making it easy to dispatch items held in storage for clients by road or by air from Liverpool and Manchester airports. But it also aims to build on the expertise it has built up through its work for the MoD to source new contracts in the public sector, for example - but by no means exclusively - NHS document storage.

JFWD has been awarded a Substantial Assurance Audit certificate by the MoD's asset accounting centre, the highest accolade for that type of operation, and its personnel are cleared by the MoD to counterterrorist level.

The warehousing and distribution business is part of James Fisher Marine Services, based in Barrow, which had a turnover of pounds 29.3m in 2008. The James Fisher group generated total revenues of pounds 233m that year. Recent mergers and acquisitions have positioned James Fisher as one of the largest marine services companies in the UK.

The Deeside operation holds about 15,000 different lines or parts for the RAF but also has commercial customers.

The largest item held in stock currently is probably a 20-tonne anchor, the smallest a shim - a tiny washer.

Mrs Robinson says the company has bespoke stock recording and accounting software, but she adds: "We do a stock take every year and we count every single item - the majority of them by hand." Her ambition for the Deeside site is to grow the business: "Originally, we had 40 staff. I would like to get back to that level of employment."


Kay Robinson, at James Fisher Warehousing and Distribution's base, in Deeside Industrial Park
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2010
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