Lord Digby Jones opens new factory

Posted on 24 Jan 2011 by The Manufacturer

Former trade minister Lord Digby Jones has cut the ribbon on a brand new £8m site in Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire, for SME automotive supplier Olympus Engineering.

The company, which makes precision machined parts for customers including Bentley and JCB, has moved to the new 82,000 square foot premises in Garner Street, Etruria from its old factory in College Road, Hanley, where it has been based since its foundation 11 years ago.

Visiting the company for an official opening, Lord Jones – who also spent six years as director general of the Confederation of British Industry – said: “Companies like Olympus Engineering are living proof that the UK does make things and it’s firms like this which are pivotal to the country’s future success.

“If this nation is going to succeed it has got to manufacture its way out of economic difficulties. That means exporting and that means manufacturing and engineering.
“As a country we are only going to succeed by making things and it’s small to medium engineering companies like Olympus Engineering who will help generate the wealth for the UK and create jobs for the future.”

The opening truly marks a new dawn for Olympus, after recession almost left it ravaged. The move had already been initiated when the downturn began but, unsurprisingly, given its customer base, the company was almost ruined. It had to lay off half of its 120 employees but, now, the payroll is back up to pre-recession levels.

Olympus founder and managing director Neil Blood said: “As a company we are living proof that you should always invest in a downturn to take advantage of the upturn when it arrives.

“That’s precisely what we’ve done and while we were severely affected by the recession, we have recovered strongly and in a position to seize opportunities for growth in the future from our new site. We are already looking to expand after just a short time in the new premises.

“This City has endured some very tough times in the past few decades and I believe, as a relatively young company, that Olympus Engineering highlights that industrial regeneration is possible if you have an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Olympus was aided in the move by outgoing Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands who secured £1.36m of public funding to regenerate the Garner Street site and grants totalling £900,000 for new machinery, including a rapid prototyping centre and facilities for machining components up to 2.5 tonnes in weight and two metres long.