New £22m factory helps save 80 jobs
EIGHTY jobs have been secured at a brick-making factory thanks to a £22 million investment.
Ibstock's transformation of its plant at Chesterton will boost its production capacity from 50 million bricks a year to 80 million.
The investment will safeguard jobs for the next 25 to 30 years, as well as cutting carbon emissions by 15 to 20 per cent.
Work on the redevelopment started in the summer and full production should be underway by June next year.
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Ibstock, based in Leicestershire, has 19 brick works across the UK. As well as its Audley Road plant at Chesterton it also has a factory nearby at the Parkhouse Industrial Estate East in Newcastle.
Managing director Wayne Sheppard said: "The factory was coming to the end of its life and becoming uneconomic so I'm delighted we've managed to approve this investment.
"It gives us a modern, new efficient factory but the key is that it secures jobs for the area, which is great news.
"The investment guarantees the factory's life for the next 25 to 30 years, and because we are going to be using very efficient, environmentally-friendly technology, emissions will be 15 to 20 per cent lower even though we will be making more bricks."
The factory dates back to the 1960s and although it will stay the same outside, the interior is to be overhauled with the latest kiln and brick-making technology.
Production has been halted to allow the work to go ahead but should be up and running again early next year.
Mr Sheppard said: "All the existing plant has been taken out and the whole factory floor is being replaced, like a replacement factory being built inside."
Plans for the redevelopment have been in the pipeline for around seven years.
The Sentinel reported last August that the firm had secured planning permission to keep taking clay from Knutton Quarry until 2042, securing 200 jobs at Chesterton and Newcastle.
He said: "Initially we needed to make sure that the clay reserves were there, and then we had to make a planning application for the quarry. With that in place it enabled us to get started on this proposal.
"Brick-making is a long-term industry so we have to think quite far ahead."
Dr Laura Cohen, chief executive of trade association the British Ceramic Confederation, which is based in Stoke, welcomed news of the redevelopment
She said: "This is a vote of confidence in the future of the ceramics industry in the UK and for the North Staffordshire area in particular."
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