Trade visit forges Kazakhstan links for North East firm Kilfrost

A North East company that produces de-icer for the rail and aviation industries has confirmed it hopes to open a new manufacturing plant in Kazakhstan

Gary Lydiate of Kilfrost
Gary Lydiate of Kilfrost

A North East company that produces de-icer for the rail and aviation industries has confirmed it hopes to open a new manufacturing plant in Kazakhstan.

Chief executive of Kilfrost, Gary Lydiate, was among a 30-strong delegation led by Prime Minister David Cameron, and Trade and Investment minister Lord Green, which visited the country a week ago on a mission to boost business links.

During his time there, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of Astana that could be worth £50m within five to ten years’ time.

Although nothing is set in stone, Mr Lydiate says the company would like to open a new plant there, complementing its manufacturing facilities in the UK, North America, Japan and Belgium.

Kazakhstan provides the perfect location, being at the centre of the continent.

Huge opportunities could also be created through the extensive rail network in the region, which extends from Shanghai to Antwerp, and through a thriving aviation industry that includes the likes of Air Astana.

“The mission was a success for the UK, for the North East of England and definitely for Kilfrost,” Mr Lydiate said.

“When you’re travelling with a high level delegation being led by the Prime Minister, it means you get to see the right decision makers.

“I also got five minutes to talk to the Prime Minister about how important this region is to the UK economy; it was something he took in and he is proud of what we do.

“There is some pleasing activity taking place and I am meeting people in London this week to further progress negotiations.

“This is about Kilfrost and the UK getting money back here.”

Established in the 1930s in Whitley Bay, Kilfrost, which is now headquartered in Newcastle, is a market leader in de-icing and anti-icing products, but is also focusing increasingly on a range of specialist fluids used for everything from clearing snow from train tracks to aiding heat source technologies.

In the past six years, since Mr Lydiate has been at the helm, staff numbers have increased from 26 to 91, while turnover has risen dramatically from �12m to over �60m.

Over 80% of the company’s business now comes through export, but its core product, and intellectual property, remain in the UK.

“Every penny we make overseas comes back to this country,” Mr Lydiate said.

“We are proud of our heritage in the North East - we have been operating here for over 80 years.

“It’s important to get money back here.”

He added that strong business links could help bring positive changes in Kazakhstan itself.

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