This month marks the dawn of a new era for Nissan supplier Hashimoto , as it changes its name to Faltec in line with its Japanese parent company and sees the arrival of a new managing director. Ruth Lognonne caught up with the boss Chris Pennison as he drives South Tyneside’s biggest private sector employer on the road to recovery.
TRADING has been difficult for Boldon-based Hashimoto, now Faltec, since the onset of recession in 2008. The firm has experienced a tough couple of years, like most of the motor industry, with sales falling from a record level of £34.5m in 2008 to £21.5m in 2009 as the market for new cars fell in the recession.
It cut its production of plastic trims and radiator grilles in line with demand, but the introduction of the scrappage scheme helped boost its output for parts for the Nissan Micra.
The South Tyneside company, which receives 60% of its business from the Japanese car giant’s Washington plant, saw its turnover grow from £21.7m to £29.5m in the year ending December 31, 2010, with the popularity of current Nissan models, including the Juke, boosting sales.
However, the firm was unable to significantly reduce its pre-tax losses, which came in at £3.7m, down from £4.4m in 2009, saying Nissan’s success has not been mirrored elsewhere in the automotive industry.
As a result, the company was forced to make additional redundancies during the period, with its workforce dropping from 354 to 335.
But what has failed to kill off Faltec has only made it stronger as the firm forecasts a turnover of £40m for 2012, up £7m from a year earlier.
It believes it is in fighting form, having just secured a host of new orders from Nissan, including continued work on the Juke and Qashqai. Managing director Chris Pennison says Faltec has won a lot of new business going into next year, and has won it competitively.
“The automotive parts sector is competitive, especially among the leading cost-cutting countries like China and India,” he said. “We can’t compete on a labour basis so we have to take the whole cost element into account where possible.
“We have to embrace newer technologies in order to reduce costs and in the past 12 months we’ve invested around £1m in new equipment.”
The company has been based in Boldon since 1989 with Nissan in Washington and Honda in Swindon accounting for a large part of its output.