Car-parts firms get into gear create 250 jobs at new Wearside base

TAKING SHAPE: From left, Jim Casey, plant director at Lear Corporation, Coun Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Dave Bartell, operations director, Expert Tooling, outside Expert Tooling's building under construction in Sunderland.

TAKING SHAPE: From left, Jim Casey, plant director at Lear Corporation, Coun Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Dave Bartell, operations director, Expert Tooling, outside Expert Tooling's building under construction in Sunderland.

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THREE major business developments set to create more than 250 jobs for Wearside are nearing completion.

Lear Corporation, TRW and Expert Tooling and Automation, which all operate in the automotive supply sector, are based within yards of each other on the Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate.

The expansions now approaching completion at the council’s Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate demonstrate how important this industry is to our local economy.

Coun Paul Watson

All three began work last year to increase the size of their facilities.

Foam seating supplier Lear is creating more than 100 jobs with a 3,500sqm extension, allowing it to double production of its car seats annually.

The US company moved into Rainton Bridge in 2011, its first site in the UK, and supplies foam seating for Nissan Qashqais manufactured in the city, and also Jaguar Landrover.

Once the extension is completed in the summer, Lear’s capacity will increase by more than 300,000 car seats per year, taking its total capacity to more than 600,000 per year.

Neighbour TRW has received assistance from Sunderland City Council and £1.95million from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), to double its factory floor space.

Expert Tooling is preparing to move into its new facility in the summer.

The company counts Nissan, Rolls Royce, Jaguar Landrover and TRW among its clients.

The new factory, which triples assembly space to 30,000sq ft, will lead to the creation of 25 new posts, half of which have already been filled.

City council leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “Sunderland is a national – and international – force in the automotive sector, and the expansions now approaching completion at the council’s Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate demonstrate how important this industry is to our local economy.

“TRW, Lear and Expert Tooling chose Sunderland as a location based on the city’s strength and depth in this sector, and the excellent workforce we have locally.

“We have been proud to help, support and advise on their growth.

“This is a sector that is continuing to expand in the city, thanks to our strong supply chain, excellent location and logistics and the groundbreaking work taking place in the field of electric and environmentally-friendly vehicles.

“The council is keen to work with other automotive businesses seeking support to expand in Sunderland and businesses looking for a new base for their automotive operations.”