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Zumtobel opens state-of-the-art lighting facility in UK

© Zumtobel
13. February 2009

The Austrian lighting manufacturer Zumtobel has opened the largest lighting plant the UK has seen since the 1940s. The new facility in Spennymoor, County Durham is worth £32m and has created 700 jobs.

Thorn Lighting's manufacturing, training and research site, which has been five years in the planning, is now open at Spennymoor.

The firm has invested £28m in its factory, £1.3m in a new Lighting Academy for training and £3m in research and development of lighting technologies at its laboratory and the neighbouring NETPark.
The company, which is owned by Austria's Zumtobel Group, has been based in the town since it was founded by lightbulb manufacturer Jules Thorn in 1952.

The new 40,000 sq m plant on Green Lane brings the company's production together on one site after more than 40 years in a collection of former munitions buildings in the town's Merrington Lane. In addition to making the working day more efficient, the new site's carbon footprint has been reduced by 25%.
But managers of the site, while confident of growth, are still reviewing how this will be affected by the global recession.

Thorn spokesman Hugh King said: "This probably represents the largest investment in lighting equipment and training in the UK since the 1940s. It shows our commitment to the UK and supports us being as close as we can to the customer. We are looking to growth in the future but currently conditions are a concern. We will have to react to that in the short term. We have to consider the effects on our capacity."

Mr King did not elaborate on those options or whether they included cutting growth projections. However, the original plans submitted for the plant ensured its commitment to the region for at least 21 years as a condition of the planning application.

"We have invested here and we do expect growth in the future," said Mr King.