Motor makers Nissan are poised to pass a milestone mark of eight million cars produced next year after racking up sales of more than £5bn in the last 12 months.
The Sunderland plant, which now employs more than 7,000 people, announced the looming landmark figure after unveiling a big hike in sales, which have grown by 7% to £5.3bn.
The UK manufacturing arm of the Japanese giant has published its accounts for the year ended March 2014, posting a rise of £356m on the turnover figure it recorded for the previous 12 months.
And while its previous accounts saw the firm post an operating loss of £7.9m – a figure narrowed considerably from 2012’s loss of £23.3m – the company behind the Qashqai and Juke is now firmly in the black with operating profit of £71.1m and pre-tax profit of £70.2m.
In all, the firm made 516,000 cars, marking another strong year for the Sunderland site.
Demand for the popular Qashqai and Qashqai+2 model led to 284,000 being made and 70,000 Notes were made – well up on last year’s 44,000 – and 150,000 Jukes were produced, slightly down on the previous year’s 155,000.
The financial year was also a landmark time for the Japanese giant’s Leaf, as it was the first full year of the electric vehicle’s production, with 13,000 vehicles built.
Looking ahead, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice president for manufacturing in the UK, said the coming year also promises to be strong, with the launch of production for the brand new Infiniti.
In December 2012 it was announced that a cash injection of more than £250m would prompt the creation of hundreds of North East jobs to aid production of the luxury Infiniti car.
Since then – during the accounts year – a ground breaking ceremony has taken place and ongoing investment made to prepare for production, the design division expanded in London to support the brand and the company accepted conditional grant support from the Business Investment Schemes to support Infinity and Note.
The average number of employees has also grown by 13%, from 6,695 to 7,564.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “We are looking ahead to another exciting year for the company and the historic launch of Infiniti production in Sunderland.
“Total production on site will go past the eight million mark in 2015, our 29th year of making cars in the UK.
“A quarter of this total will have been built in just four years, reflecting the confidence and trust our European customers now have in our brand, and our innovative model range of Qashqai, Juke, Note and the all-electric LEAF.”