Car parts maker Gestamp has reported an increase in turnover to more than £460m.
The Spanish-owned group, which has five sites in the UK including its Newton Aycliffe plant, has published group accounts for 2015 which show that sales rose 9% year-on-year to reach £468.5m on the back of a “pan-European success story” of rising car registrations.
Pre-tax profits also rose at the firm, which produces chassis structural and body components for the likes of Jaguar, Landrover, Volvo, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Honda, by 32% to £18m.
The group has more 2,300 people across UK sites at Cannock in Birmingham, Fareham on the South coast, Llanelli in Wales and Washington, as well as its biggest UK site on Aycliffe Business Park, which employs more than 1,300 staff.
The accounts year covered saw the firm update the oldest part of its site with a £11m investment at Gestamp Tallent in Aycliffe, providing an extra 3,900sqm of space, with a 250m-long press shop.
The space also houses the state-of-the-art presses the firm invested in, costing £6.2m between them.
During the year the firm also spent £6.99m on research and development activities – up from the £6.54m spent the year before.
In a report accompanying the accounts, outlining its year in business and future development plans, directors said there was a level of optimism across the industry and that it intends to continue making investments to stay competitive.
The report said: “UK car registrations in 2015 exceeded 2.6m vehicles, a year-on-year rise of 6.3% and only the fourth rime car registrations have surpassed 2.5m. In Europe, including the UK, registrations increased by 9.3% totalling 13.7m vehicles.
“In summary, a pan-European success story, giving a level of optimism for the coming months and years.
“Car registrations grew across all five major European markets, Germany, France, UK, Spain and Italy.
“The company has demand from the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, with a majority reliance on domestic demand. However, a number of the vehicles are exported so the wider economic balance cannot be ignored.
“In 2015 the company made a significant investment in project and strategic fixed assets, an increase of just under £10m on the previous year.
“Such investments are always largely dependent on new project introduction and activity in this area can vary year to year depending on the number of new vehicle programs.
“The strategic asset investment will provide the business with new efficient, up to date technologies capable of providing service for many years to come.
“The company will continue to invest in production and strategic assets in the coming years to ensure it retains its competitiveness, embracing new technologies and the ability to provide its customers with innovative concepts in such areas as weight, cost and safety.”
Earlier this year, one of Gestamp Tallent’s newest sites at Aycliffe – plant 5 which opened in 2012 – was sold for £11.5m by its owners, the private equity real estate investor Henley, to a private international investor.
The unit was purchased by Henley in 2013 and is let to Gestamp for a term of 25 years, expiring in 2039.