Manufacturer Ebac has sealed a multi-million-pound deal to preserve the brands and products of UK manufacturer Icetech Freezers after the company fell victim to the collapse of Comet.
The seven-figure acquisition and investment deal will create about 100 jobs in the long term, as production of the acquired firm’s Norfrost chest freezer range moves to Ebac’s North East base in Newton Aycliffe.
The Norfrost name and the company’s equipment, designs and copyright agreements have all been acquired after production closed at the firm’s factory in Caithness, Scotland, at the end of last year.
Production is expected to begin by the end of 2013, with the aim of building up to match the previous output of 80,000 Norfrost domestic chest freezers a year.
Ebac was founded 40 years ago by refrigeration engineer John Elliott, who built the business around that expertise.
In 2012, Ebac was placed into the ownership of a foundation, one of the key principles of which is to see money reinvested in manufacturing in County Durham.
Production of the freezers will run alongside the manufacture of Ebac’s watercooler and dehumidifier ranges at Newton Aycliffe.
The acquisition is part of the Ebac management’s pledge to invest in domestic appliance manufacture, with the company also in the process of developing production of washing machines. Pamela Petty, managing director of the Ebac Group, said: “Preserving the manufacture of the Norfrost products range is a natural move for Ebac.
“We have 40 years’ experience in refrigeration engineering and a passion for making things.
“It is always sad to see a British brand in difficulties, so when the collapse of Comet proved the breaking point for Icetech and the Norfrost brand it was a huge shame.
“When we were approached by the interim liquidators to see if we were interested, it quickly became clear that there was an opportunity to keep Norfrost alive.
“There is a big job to be done in relocating the factory equipment from Castletown, which is as far North as you can get on the British mainland, but once we are up and running, we will be in a position to start filling the gap in supply of a popular British product.”