Sunderland-based car parts manufacturer Gestamp is geared up for expansion after winning its first major contract with BMW, to provide parts for the new MINI series.
The firm has added the global giant to its list of clients which already include Nissan, General Motors, Jaguar Landrover, a move which has led to £150,000 being invested in a new 1125 sq m extension at its Washington plant to store the newly-produced MINI parts before they are delivered to Oxford.
The company, which designs and builds chassis and parts for the motor manufacturers at its sites on Wearside, Newton Aycliffe, Cannock, Llanelli and Fareham, has 196 employees at Sunderland, but as a result of the BMW contract, which runs until 2021, nine temporary staff at Gestamp have become permanent this month.
A review for more to be transferred from temporary to permanent roles to cope with growth in demand is underway.
Mark Potts, operations director at Gestamp, forecasts a lift in turnover in 2015 to between £34m and £37m as a result of the new long-term contracts.
Potts said: “We’re delighted to have won this contract. Four years ago this company worked 100% for Nissan. Now we have contracts with Nissan, General Motors, Jaguar Landrover and BMW.”
The success in attracting new customers follows a change in strategy at Gestamp in 2008, when it also introduced a “lean development” programme which involved each employee receiving an average of eight to 10 hours of lean management training.
Mark Potts said: “The changes to our strategy with the introduction of lean development and a culture change from the workforce has changed perceptions across the company.
“There’s a real team spirit here which has definitely helped productivity levels and staff retention. Gestamp is a family-run company with its headquarters in Spain and our plant reflects those values of working together well as one team. ”
Sunderland City Council works closely with Gestamp, and provided advice and support for the newly completed extension at the company.
Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council said: “Gestamp is an important part of Sunderland’s automotive sector, with a first-rate customer list, and a series of successful contract wins.
“We’ve worked with the company for many years which means we can offer advice based on up-to-date knowledge of its plans. Gestamp’s ambitions echo our city’s world-class ambitions to be Europe’s automotive hub. It’s the best possible news to hear that Gestamp is creating new permanent jobs at Sunderland through major new contracts in the global automotive market.”