A Droitwich, UK, supplier to BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and the new Chinese owners of MG Rover has invested GBP4m in a new factory.

Barton Cold-Form, maker of specialised metal and alloy components, is four months away from moving into its new purpose-built facility site on the town's Stonebridge Cross business park and is already setting its sight on increased sales in both the UK and abroad.

Backed by supply chain initiative Accelerate, Advantage West Midlands and Vital EU, the development will safeguard the 125 jobs at the company and will provide productivity and capacity boosts for the future.

The 53,000 sq ft factory is nearly a third bigger than the existing plant nearby and will have both office space and an open plan manufacturing layout to increase speed and flow of work.

Each specialist unit will be set-up in a cell.

"It will be great to have everything on one level and virtually within view of everyone of the shop floor. In addition to improving communications, it will also allow our employees to see how each process works and their role in making it happen," said managing director Paul Denning.

The supplier has also spent an additional GBP1.2m on new machinery.

Its automaker customers receive a complete service from prototyping to assembly and just-in-time delivery.

Denning said: "We've seen major growth over the last five years and it had got to the stage where our existing factory in Kidderminster Road just simply wouldn't be able to cope effectively with what we'd got planned.

"We needed a new site and, after exploring facilities currently available, we decided the best way forward was to invest in a design and build facility, which we could shape to suit our exact requirements.

"Considering the competitive nature of the industry, it is a very bold move, but one that is essential if we are going to build on record sales of GBP9m this year."

"We've recently just produced the first batch of valve spring retainers for Nanjing Automotive Corporation," noted Denninf.

"NAC has placed an order for 19,000 units, which are used to keep the valve springs in position above the cylinder head of the K series engine for the Rover 75 and MG TF."

He added: "It is a very complicated component and we are the only company in the world with the tools to make it."

The last month has seen better news for the hard-hit West Midlands auto sector which has weathered Jaguar and MG Rover plant closures and will lose Peugeot Ryton production next year.

Nanjing has announced that production would recommence at Longbridge, albeit on a very small scale, and Ford has committed GBP£1bn for new UK R&D facilities.

Barton Cold Form is setting up its first overseas sales and distribution operation in Poland and is looking to build on initial contacts in the Far East.