North East manufacturer Ebac falls under the microscope of Lord Digby Jones in the return of a popular primetime business programme.
The former CBI director general started out working in his family’s corner shop in Birmingham but worked his way up to Trade and Investment Minister.
Now Lord Jones has taken part in a revival of the popular 1990 TV series Troubleshooters, spending time with three businesses around the UK.
The original series was the first to put business at the heart of primetime TV, long before Sir Alan’s The Apprentice, placing former ICI boss Sir John Harvey-Jones as the show’s troubleshooter, dishing out advice to struggling businesses.
As well as spending time at Hawick Knitwear in the Scottish Borders and Hereford Furniture, Lord Jones spent months working behind the scenes with the team establishing a County Durham facility to manufacture Norfrost freezers.
He drove management at Ebac to reexamine everything they have learned over 40 years of manufacturing as they worked to relaunch the Norfrost brand, taking on the likes of Indesit, Zanussi and Hotpoint, in a market which saw the collapse of Norfrost’s previous owners.
The Norfrost brand and machinery were bought in 2013 by Ebac, which is based in Newton Aycliffe.
Viewers will see how Lord Jones has been working alongside management, led by managing director Pamela Petty, in the build-up to the first new Norfrost freezers being produced next month.
Pamela Petty said: “The launch of Norfrost freezers marks a major investment for us, so to be under the spotlight from Lord Digby Jones and the TV cameras at the same time has added a real element of external scrutiny to the process.
“Working with Lord Jones has been more than just filming a TV series.
“It has been a great opportunity to use and learn from his experience and to take on board his views and criticisms, as well as taking pride in what he feels we do well.
“We have a wealth of experience in manufacturing products for the home and in refrigeration, but having an outside expert to give his view on what we are doing and how we are doing it has been hugely valuable.
“Lord Jones was very thorough and really put our plans, processes and thoughts to the test, which is great for us and for the final products because no stone has been left unturned.”
The programme will air at 8pm on Thursday, April 24, on BBC 2.