EXPANDING oil and gas engineering firm FES International is moving into premises seven times larger than its existing space but is still concerned the new building won’t be big enough as it continues to grow.
The Blyth-based business is shifting from Riverside Business Park to a 35,000sq ft workshop in North Seaton Industrial Estate after securing a number of new orders.
The business, which specialises in manufacturing fluid transfer systems for subsea oil and gas extraction, currently has an £11.3m order book, and counts industry giants Shell and Total among its customers.
FES managing director Rob Anderson said: “It’s a huge step forwards for us ... massive. The new workshop will give us the space and facilities we need to keep growing and servicing the industry.
“It’s probably the biggest investment we’ve made in the last 12 or 15 years of the business. We’ve been in the existing premises for 12 years, but we’ve really grown out of them.
“Instead of leasing, we’ve decided to purchase. This one is seven times larger. I just hope it will be big enough because we are on the edge of some very large contracts.”
They include a £7m-£7.5m contract in Singapore with McDermott and a North Sea deal, currently under discussion, which is potentially worth £12.5m to FES.
“We don’t do much in the North Sea, it is mostly in the Far East and Asia,” said Anderson. “We operate on the world stage – Asia-Pacific is a massive market for us and South America and Brazil. We’re not restricted to the UK economy. It really helps us (during the recession).”
He estimates that around 90% of the firm’s work is exported but the same percentage is manufactured within a 25-mile radius of Newcastle. The £15m turnover firm also has satellite offices in Brazil and Singapore.
FES has just taken on three extra staff and will be looking at further growth in the new year.
In the short term, Anderson said the present staff level of fewer than 30 would not top the 40 mark but the business is responsible for around 300 jobs in the supply chain.
“We’re a proud North East company and that means it’s particularly gratifying to commit to a new property and new jobs here,” said Anderson.
“Delivering high-quality heavy engineering within the oil and gas industry’s tight time frames is the challenge and we’ve always risen to it.
“In three months we’ll be in our new premises which will be fully kitted out and we’re looking forward to maintaining our momentum.”