New presses planned for Sunderland based Unipres UK as turnover rises to £181m

The firm has invested heavily at its Sunderland plant in recent years, preparing for new production for clients including Nissan, Honda and Renault.

Nissan's factory in Washington
Nissan's factory in Washington

Motor vehicle parts maker Unipres UK plans to invest for the future by installing two new presses to boost its capacity and keep pace with customer orders.

The Sunderland-based firm, which makes steel components used to form the internal structures of cars, has invested heavily in recent years, ploughing £40m into its facility over 2012 and 2013 as its expanded in preparation for model production for neighbouring Nissan.

Now the business, which forms part of the Japanese Unipres Corporation, is installing two new presses as it braces itself for new orders from Renault.

The significant investment is revealed in the firm’s latest annual accounts, for the year ended December 2014, which show turnover rose from £171.8m to £181.9m, a rise of 5.9% on the previous period.

Operating profit was relatively flat at £17.17m from £17.47m, while pre-tax profits for the period creeped up from £16.96m to £17.83m, an increase of 9.6%.

Unipres has enjoyed unprecedented activity over the last few years, during which it has launched a range of products for Honda CRV as well as supporting increased production for Nissan Qashqai and Juke models, while also being involved in Nissan Leaf, Invitation and the Qashqai replacement.

The strategic report accompanying the accounts said: “In 2014 after the unprecedented level of new product launch activity in the previous year the company worked to stabilise the business.

“The gross profit margin as a percentage of sales increased to 16.7% principally due to lower material costs and some one-off factors.

“Despite this the gross profit per employee decreased to £27,974 (2013: £28,966) which reflects relatively low productivity on new models production.

“In 2015 the company faces further challenges from the launch of new products for common platform vehicles to be produced at Renault’s operations in Spain.

“The company continues to invest for the future and will install two new presses to support capacity requirements.”

Headcount grew to an average of 1,089 at the major Wearside employer, where 145 new employees joined the team over the course of the year.

The remuneration for the highest paid director also rose significantly, from £210,000 to £307,000 – a 46% hike.

The firm said a dividend of 10p per share was declared and paid during the year, the same as the dividend paid out in 2013.

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