Peterlee car parts maker Mecaplast in £3.5m expansion after Jaguar Land Rover deal

A CAR parts maker has undergone a £3.5m expansion to build on a lucrative contract.

Mecaplast has bought machinery and invested in staff training ahead of a deal with Jaguar Land Rover.

The company, based in Peterlee, east Durham, will produce parts for the marque next year.

The move comes after Mecaplast, known for making plastic door mouldings and wheel arch liners, previously spent £6m to create new jobs and extend its plant to handle contracts for Sunderland’s Nissan.

Bosses say their latest venture includes four injection moulding machines, ranging from 800 tonnes to 2,300 tonnes, and a partnership with Gateshead’s Access Training to develop management. They say Access will help eight workers go through apprenticeships to oversee senior positions.

David Cann, plant director at the company, which employs about 150 staff and also works with Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW, said it was primed for further growth, adding the Jaguar Land Rover agreement will be followed by further deals. He said: “We have several new contracts in the pipeline.

“The business is going from strength-to-strength and the pace is set to continue.

“As we expand further, we need first-class managers and I’m very encouraged with how the training is going.

“We needed to develop new skills and as I have experience of using Access Training, they were my first choice to bring us what we are looking for.”

Within Mecaplast’s training drive, Michael Butler, Mick McAvoy and Jeff Dickinson are working towards a higher apprenticeship, which is designed for senior staff to develop leadership and management skills.

Meanwhile, Dale Atherton, Simon Varley, Marc Golightly, Richy Ward and Karl Catleugh are studying an advanced management apprenticeship, which develops skills for planning, project management, budgets and customer service.

The expansion represents another fillip for Mecaplast after officials earlier this year revealed they were setting their sights on international growth following a finance deal. Investment organisation, Equistone Partners Europe, now backs the Monaco-headquartered business and bosses say the arrangement will allow it to develop overseas sites, including Peterlee, to achieve further global dominance.

Access has helped more than 5,000 people start and improve their careers and offers apprenticeships at intermediate, advanced and higher levels in a wide range of areas.