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New hope for Tolwood jobs.

Byline: Helen Logan

Hopes are rising for the future of 270 North-east workers' jobs as interest grows in troubled motor industry supplier Vickers Pressings Tolwood Automotive.

Administrators said today they were hopeful of achieving a sale after more than 20 different firms expressed an interest in taking it over.

The Tolwood Automotive arm of the company, based in Newton Aycliffe, employs around 100 people.

The Vickers Pressings side of the business employs around 170 staff at its Scotswood Road factory in Newcastle.

The firm was plunged into administration two weeks ago. Last Tuesday administrators KPMG made 14 redundancies - 12 at Newton Aycliffe - to help stabilise the business.

However, the other good news for the workforce today was that administrators said more redundancies were unlikely.

The company, which is trading normally, makes all types of automotive products for use in car production in the UK and overseas.

Tolwood operates in lower value, higher volumes and Vickers specialises in the lower volume, higher value segment of the market.

Now the Amicus union has held a meeting with KPMG to examine the chances of a buyer being found for the business.

Regional organiser Gerry Hunter said: "They have produced a brochure, and that has been sent out to a number of people interested in buying the company.

"In total, there are approximately 381 employees at four sites, 170 at Scotswood Road, 100 at Newton Aycliffe, 100 in Wolverhampton and just nine at Walsall.

"The administrators told us today it is their intention to sell the company with all current employees.

"Customers are staying loyal to them, as are their suppliers."

It was only in February this year that Tolwood, of Newton Aycliffe, and Vickers Pressings, of Newcastle, combined to form VPTA ( one of the region's largest privately-owned metal-pressing companies.

Vickers Pressings had previously been owned by Derbyshire-based Rolls-Royce.

Chief executive Geoff Marshall said then that the merger represented "a fantastic development" for the two firms, and there were predictions of turnover increasing from pounds 26m to pounds 50m by 2007.

Mr Marshall said at the time that the scope provided by the merger, both in terms of the combined skilled workforce and production capacity, meant that VPTA would be able to better compete with some of the larger automotive suppliers.

A spokeswoman for KPMG said: "We have had a lot of interest and we are liaising with interested parties.

"There are no details at the moment, but we have 20 interested companies. We are optimistic of a sale.

"No further redundancies will be necessary. The company is continuing to be run as it was and we are continuing to successfully deal with its customers."
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Title Annotation:Business Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2005
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