NISSAN workers in the North East were celebrating after the car company revealed it had been handed £20m by the Government to refit its Washington plant to build the Leaf electric car.
The move would see the sister plant in Sunderland start work on producing batteries for the cars, and would safeguard more than 2,000 jobs and make the Washington plant the largest in Europe. Nissan had also been offered a £197m European loan, and production was set to begin in 2013.
BAE Systems was dealt a crushing blow by the Government when it opted to give the £1bn contract to build the Scout light tank to American rival General Dynamics. Unite’s regional secretary Davey Hall said the workforce had been “let down by management” after they lost out on the bid, but BAE Systems’ Land and Armaments operating group president Bob Murphy said the “disappointing” result did not affect the outlook for the business. It had already announced it planned to slash 217 jobs from its Newcastle plant, but could save 105 if the contract went to BAE. It had also submitted a last-minute change to its bid, which would have seen fit-out work move from Sweden to Newcastle.
NORTH East family clothing business Visage was sold to a Hong Kong company in a £173m deal. Li & Fung said it took on the company as part of a drive to increase its European profile with acquisitions, and said more positions may be created as the firm expands.
The company, which was set up by Mukesh and Promila Sehgal in 1981, supplies imported, private-label clothes to high-street and mass retailers in the UK. It has bases in South Shields and Washington.
LONG-standing North East marketing and advertising agency Robson Brown was sold to Californian company Round2, ending its 26-year association with founders Alan Brown and Stuart Robson.
Brown and Robson set up the company in 1984, turning it into a firm that boasted revenues of more than £37m last year and employed close to 100 staff. However in December Robson Brown was placed into administration before being relaunched by three of its former directors.
SAGE co-founder Graham Wylie donned his hard hat as work began on the second phase of his £7.5m Close House Hotel and Golf Club development in Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland. The development, which will include a £2.5m clubhouse and championship golf course, has been among Wylie’s interests since he retired from the FTSE-100 software firm in 2003 aged 43.
He hopes the course, which sits in the grounds of the 18th Century hotel and golf course he bought from Newcastle University in 2004, will become a destination for players from the area and beyond when it is complete.