Sunderland factory beats off European competition to get £1.5m extension

Lear Corporation in Sunderland.
Lear Corporation in Sunderland.
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A Sunderland factory has beaten off competition from across the continent to be handed a £1.5million extension - and become a key base for a major company.

US automotive giant Lear Corporation has chosen its base at Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate, Houghton, as the location for its European research and development decision.

There are 420 people employed at the factory in Houghton.

There are 420 people employed at the factory in Houghton.

The building and fitting out of the extension is expected to be completed by September at the factory, which employs 420 people in Houghton.

Jim Casey, operations director at Lear Sunderland, said: “The Sunderland plant is recognised as a model plant worldwide for Lear Corporation.

“We have really talented workers at this plant, proven capability and strong links with the city council and the university, all of which contributed to us securing this significant new dimension to our work at Lear Sunderland.

"I’d particularly like to thank Sunderland City Council for its much-valued support because without it this development would not have happened.”

The extension will be built after support from Sunderland City Council's business investment team.

It comes two years after the company doubled the size of its plant in Houghton, creating over 100 jobs.

The factory opened in 2011 and was Lear's first UK foam manufacturing facility for vehicle seating.

It has now ramped up production to meet existing Nissan business and additional business for Jaguar Landrover.

Irene lucas, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Lear’s decision to bring the European R&D facility to Sunderland is fantastic news.

"It’s a huge vote of confidence in Sunderland from a world-leading company, and strong evidence that this city is a global player in the automotive market.

“It will create new highly skilled jobs and strengthens the city’s reputation as a strong location for high tech, research and development companies.”

Lear has 243 manufacturing sites in 37 countries, with about 150,000 people employed worldwide.

Its seating and electrical components are found in more than 300 types of vehicle made by almost every car manufacturer around the globe.