Nissan driving jobs boom

The One Millionth Nissan QASHQAI coming off the production line at Nissan's Sunderland Plant.

The One Millionth Nissan QASHQAI coming off the production line at Nissan's Sunderland Plant.

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HUNDREDS of jobs are set to be created in Wearside’s car industry as companies cash in on a bumper year for Nissan.

Council chiefs say they are helping several firms with plans to expand their operations in the city, with hundreds of jobs expected to be created at components supplier Unipres alone.

Sunderland City Council said it is also expecting more component firms to set up shop on Wearside in the near future.

The news comes after Lear Corporation, the firm that produces seats for the Nissan Qashqai, announced it was creating 300 jobs at a new plant producing upholstery foam at Rainton Bridge.

Bryan Charlton, the senior councillor charged with making Sunderland a more prosperous city, said: “The automotive supply chain in Sunderland is now bigger and more resilient than ever before, putting the city at the heart of a manufacturing sector that is driving the UK’s economic recovery and fuelling a boom in exports.”

He added: “Nissan has just had its best ever year – with 480,000 vehicles produced in 2011 – and now employs more people than ever, with 5,500 working at the plant.

“The company also has ambitious plans for further growth, which is cascading to its supply chain through a series of expansion projects with have benefited from multimillion-pound Regional Growth Fund awards.

“For example, Unipres has just been awarded planning permission for a quarter-of-a-million-square-foot extension to its plant on Cherry Blossom Way, which should result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.”

Coun Charlton was responding to a question set down by Washington Central councillor Dianne Snowdon at a council meeting.

He said there was also potential for second and third-tier suppliers to cash in on the growth in Wearside’s automotive sector.

Coun Charlton said car manufacturers were becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of components produced by “low-cost” countries – creating opportunities for firms closer to home to cash-in.

“This means local small and medium enterprises are increasingly able to win work in the UK automotive supply chain, and already the city council is handling enquiries from companies that are seeking help with their expansion plans,” he said.

“This is all good news at a time when the rest of the country seems to be stuck in the economic doldrums, and more announcements on our successes in attracting key automotive suppliers to Sunderland are expected soon.”