CRANE maker Liebherr is expanding its Wearside premises after winning a lucrative contract.
The Sunderland firm recently won a major order to build North Sea offshore cranes for energy and utilities giant GDF Suez and will push on with plans for its extension, following planning approval from Sunderland City Council.
The extension will enable Liebherr to build its maritime cranes in advance of orders being received, which will reduce waiting time for delivery to customers.
The company, which employs 200 people in Sunderland – including 29 apprentices from the local area – is seeing a significant growth in demand for its cranes for offshore projects, and supplies both offshore and ship cranes around the world.
International orders account for more than 90% of Liebherr’s business, making it one of the region’s major exporters.
Ralph Saelzer, managing director at Liebherr’s Sunderland plant, said: “Through being able to manufacture cranes off the shelf, we can cut down on waiting times for potential clients and offer a very short delivery time.
“It gives us an advantage to be able to say we have cranes there ready, instead of saying they will have to wait a long time – sometimes it can be many months.
“We have been hit by the global downturn along with everyone else, but thankfully our workload has always remained at a level where we can sustain our operation.
“We hope that building these cranes ahead of orders being received will allow us to place ourselves in a very strong position.”
Coun Paul Watson of Sunderland City Council said: “Liebherr is a company of huge importance, both as a local employer and an international supplier and exporter.”