Washing machine production will officially return to the UK in January when Newton Aycliffe manufacturer Ebac start churning them out for real.
As revealed on Aycliffe Today last week, full production of Ebac’s range of washing machines was delayed until early 2016.
But managing director Pamela Petty has told us she expects production to start in January, with the ambitious target of eventually producing more than 100,000 units a year.
Mrs Petty told us: “We actually have the capacity to produce 300,000 washing machines a year, but that would be more than 10% of the market share and, while anything is possible in the future, we think 100,000 to 120,000 a year is more realistic.
“Right now there are still a lot of tests to do. We’ve changed one of the components so we do have more testing.
“From an industry standard’s point of view, if we’re putting a badge on this machine we need to be satisfied that we’re classifying it in the right way and that it stands up to the number of washes we say it will.
“We also have to test it for reliability because we’re putting five-year warranty’s on these – we envisage these machines to last for seven to eight years.”
Ebac is already famous for producing dehumidifiers and water coolers, and has now started producing its Norfrost chest freezers for Argos and Amazon.
Its new washing machine production line – officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent last week – will increase staff numbers again.
Ebac currently employs about 240 people but hope to increase that number to 400 over the next three years.
Mrs Petty added: “When this all works, we will look at other opportunities to grow.
“We will have to take stock of the washing machine production and see what worked for us and what didn’t.
“Previously we’ve worked in very niche markets, but the washing machine market – while we don’t produce any here in the UK – is globally very crowded.
“Are we best at carving out a niche market for ourselves, or going into busy markets with products we know can sell? It’s working out which is the right one for us to do.
“Right now I think we have a positive future in appliances, but ask me again in a year or two when we’ve actually sold some and we know where we are in the market place.”