AN CONGRESS: Suppliers drawn to Sunderland as Nissan thrives
Booming exports from Nissan's Sunderland plant in north east England are behind a supplier influx in response to the demand.
There are now around 20 suppliers, including TRW, Johnson Controls and Lear in and around Sunderland, ploughing major investment into the region that benefits from UK and European Union backing.
"There has been around 50% growth with Nissan models and the supply chain has had to respond to that," Sunderland City Council chief investment officer, Tom Hurst, told just-auto on the sidelines of the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.
"It has been fantastic news. You can't be complacent but it is standing the test of time so far."
Last year Nissan set a new production record of 500,000 vehicles at Sunderland. In December, it said plans to build a new C-segment model had been axed and the plant would now assemble a new luxury Infiniti model which is expcted to be a rival for Audi's A3.
Of equal importance to the city is the 2,000 new jobs created and GBP355m spent by automotive companies in 2012, with Vantec, SNOP, Lear Corporation and Interplas now operating in the area.
"The [Nissan] plant is very good at what it does," said Hurst. "It [has] low labour turnover and low absenteeism - productivity is way up there.
"Nissan is working three shifts [on] two lines - they are not reliant on one model which is wonderful."
Hurst added potential suppliers could get help from the city council to find land and buildings and also to assist in the recruitment process and provide advice on available financial help.
City representatives often visit Detroit and Michigan to see suppliers such as TRW and Lear and regularly talking with national government departments such as Trade and Industry, whose business minister, Michael Fallon, for example, has won praise from international supplier bodies such as FKG in Gothenburg, representing Scandinavian component makers.
"We are trying to influence the people who are writing the cheques out," said Hurst.