Historic Sunderland sail makers increases work force after branching out into specialist kit bag industry

Staff at Speedings, Carrmere,  Road, Leechmere, Sunderland, whi have been nominated for Portfolio Award
Staff at Speedings, Carrmere, Road, Leechmere, Sunderland, whi have been nominated for Portfolio Award
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One of Sunderland’s oldest firms is doing so well, it has taken on more staff.

Speedings was established in 1827 as a Wearside sail makers, nearly 190 years later, a major new order to make specially-designed bags mean the company has increased its workforce to 45 people by taking on 10 extra employees.

At present we have around 45 staff, which isn’t bad for a sector which has for many years been sent abroad to places like China

Rob Hammal, director of Speedings

Its success has won the firm a nomination in this year’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards.

Director Rob Hammal said: “At present we have around 45 staff, which isn’t bad for a sector which has for many years been sent abroad to places like China.”

The firm, based in Carrmere Road on the Leechmere Industrial Estate, has always been closely linked to the ship building industry.

But the demise of shipbuilding on the Wear meant a staff reduction from around 40 to 12.

Rob added: “In order to survive, it was decided we had to diversify.

Joe Hammal, our previous director, then started contacting fire services in the UK. This was a hard process, but we now produce goods for nearly all the UK and Ireland.”

The firm is now the main supplier of cylinder covers to breathing apparatus manufacturers and the fire service generally, said Rob.

“We have become very well known in our sector and are selling goods worldwide as far afield as Australia.”

Speedings joins an ever-growing list of entries for the Portfolio awards. There is still time for more before the deadline at the end of August.

Make it Sunderland is again our headline sponsor, and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.

This year sees a new category, also sponsored by Make It Sunderland, which will recognise the contribution social enterprises make to the city.

Sponsors are Gentoo, Stagecoach, Andrew James, Station Taxis, TTR Barnes, Thompson Waste, Sunderland BID and Maxim Facilities Management Ltd, The Bridges, Telfer Carpets and Flooring, while Sunderland College is our partner sponsor.

So far, we have had fantastic entries and we want more in all of the following categories.

Apprentice/Trainee of the Year; Best Training Provider; City Centre Business of the Year; Creative Industries Award; Employer of the Year; Exporter of the Year; Large Business of the Year; Leisure Award; Lifetime Achievement Award; Medium Business of the Year; Overall Business of the Year; Social Enterprise Award; Special Community Award; and Technology of the Year.

To nominate your favourite firm, visit www.jpne-events.co.uk, or e-mail lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk,.