A South Tyneside car parts firm is to create more than 70 jobs with the opening of a new sister plant.
FM Coatings is branching out from its home in Boldon Colliery into 23,000 sq ft premises at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate after seeing its turnover triple since it was established in 2007.
The business employs 90 staff in Boldon – but with no scope to increase capacity on site, it sought out extra premises.
The company paints plastic automotive components, using a wet spray system, and is a tier two supplier to a number of car manufacturers including Nissan, JLR and Ford.
Part of its expansion has come from an increasing demand for exterior painted car parts in modern cars, and the majority of new jobs, up to 75 by 2020, are likely to be for operators of the hi-tech machinery.
The firm has begun installation of a bespoke, technically advanced automated paint plant at Seaham, capable of achieving the required quality standards for exterior automotive components.
Director Mick Ford said: “There were a number of reasons for choosing the factory in Seaham, including the excellent support we received from Durham County Council.
“The new fully automated paint plant in our Seaham factory will allow us to expand further into the exterior component market, where we have seen considerable growth over the last 12 months.
“The new plant will be commissioned in June, with the first project starting in December.
“We expect the majority of new employees to come from the immediate local area and look forward to recruitment starting later this year.”
The firm has been assisted in its expansion by Business Durham, the economic development company for the county.
Inward investment manager Peter Rippingale said: “FM Coatings is a classic example of a company whose skills and expertise are in high demand from some of the biggest car manufacturers in the country.
“We look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength following the installation of their new state of the art paint plant.”
Durham County Council leader Coun Simon Henig, added: “We’re delighted FM Coatings has chosen Durham as the location for their expansion.”