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New Bideford plant will retain trusted people, skills and experience

Skan Group Holdings, the West Midlands Engineering Group which owns Boughton Engineering, has revealed the outcome of its consultation and strategic review of its North Devon operations. A new fabrication, machining and manufacturing operation is to be commissioned in Bideford at the beginning of April, retaining a significant number of skilled jobs from the former Winkleigh site.

Whilst a range of componentry production previously based at the dilapidated Winkleigh premises will move to Skan’s freehold headquarters facility in Wolverhampton, fabrication and manufacturing operations will continue, with some additional work also to be located at the site. Importantly, the move saves an as yet undisclosed number of jobs in the North Devon area and retains the deep rooted knowledge and experience of the product which existed within the old facility.

Group Managing Director Richard Skan says, "We announced in January that we would fully engage in an ‘everything on the table’ open and transparent consultation with our staff in Devon, regarding the future of the operation. Everyone involved actually accepted that retaining the out of date and costly facility at Winkleigh was not an option.

"Concurrently, we reviewed all options for the future fabrication of components and major sub-assemblies – including overseas production and outsourcing manufacturing to low cost economies as most of our competitors do. That process absolutely confirmed that we should retain fabrication and manufacturing capability in the UK, where we have full control of both quality and process – characteristics of the Boughton product which we will never compromise. Moreover, we were keen to retain the exceptional skills and experience from the Winkleigh plant and supporting jobs in British engineering is an embedded part of our family business ethos."

Skan Group’s new Boughton Engineering facility will commence operations at the beginning of April on the Clovelly Road Industrial Estate in Bideford. Site Manager John Symonds, who will move with the plant says, "This is the best possible outcome for all concerned and demonstrates particularly Skan Group’s committed loyalty to its workforce – a now all too rare culture in Britain, particularly in the current climate. The new premises will allow us to further optimise our latest lean production processes, which will help us to remain extremely competitive in the market. In addition to the fabrication and manufacture of key components for the Boughton product, we will support service engineering requirements for Boughton’s growing customer base in the South West. We will also be able to support some of our sister company, Oldbury’s defence sector customers in the region."

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