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Specialist engineering business achieves record success

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A Welsh engineering business that supplied parts that helped keep the RAF’s Spitfires flying during World War 2 has achieved record-breaking export sales after expanding into new international markets.

Llanelli-based Teddington Engineered Solutions has seen its turnover grow by 18% in the last two years, largely thanks to export sales which made up 66% of the firm’s total sales in the last financial year.

Established in the 1920s, Teddington designs and manufactures expansion joints for a range of industries including aerospace, marine, nuclear power and defence. The joints compensate movement in pipe work caused by temperature change, pressure or vibration.

The company has exported its products to more than 90 countries since 2003, with China, the Middle East and Europe being among its largest markets.

Now for the first time it has entered a developing sector within the steel industry – manufacturing expansion joints for use within direct reduced iron steel plants. Direct iron reduction allows steel to be made more cheaply as it removes the need for conventional blast furnaces, instead using alternatives such as electric arc furnaces.

Jason Thomas, Commercial Director at Teddington Engineered Solutions said: “Our order book has increased significantly over the last two years, so much so that it reached a record high recently. It’s all down to exports and securing contracts with new clients.

“We’ve been trying for many years to get into this specialised steel making industry so doing so is a real breakthrough for us. We’ve already supplied three contracts since April last year and have been assured that we are the preferred bidder for future contracts.

Originally specialising in solutions for the aircraft industry, the years after World War 2 saw Teddington diversify into new sectors such as the petrochemical industry, with the firm selling its expansion joints all over the world.

Key to the company’s export growth, Teddington has received a range of support from Welsh Government export specialists including help with trade missions, exhibitions and identifying trade opportunities, as well as general export advice.
The company’s firm focus on international trade has resulted in a nearly 30% increase in staff over the past four years with Teddington now becoming one of the largest employers in the area.

China is one of the firm’s largest markets. Teddington was the first company to supply bellows for the LNG tankers that are currently being built in China and is also a leading supplier for the nuclear industry in the country. It is now looking to secure similar work elsewhere.

Speaking about the company’s international success Mr Thomas added: “We buck the trend compared to a lot of UK companies which import their product from China. Instead, we export into China. It’s a specialised product and in many industries, our engineering experience along with a reliable, quality product makes choosing Teddington an easy choice.

“The same goes for the Middle East, there are no reputable manufacturers of our product in the area. So the need for overseas expertise is required to resolve issues, design and manufacture solutions.”

In the Middle East, Teddington has been involved in some very prestigious projects. In Dubai alone, it has supplied Dubai airport, the metro system, the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa, the biggest mall in the world and the Palm Jumeirah.

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Almost 100 jobs to go at Calsonic Llanelli

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A MAJOR Llanelli employer is to shed almost a quarter of its employees following what it describes as a ‘significant drop-off in sales’.

Calsonic Kansei, based says that continuing political and economic uncertainty have contributed to its decision to lay off 95 workers at its Lleithri Road factory on the outskirts of the town.

Calsonic were offered £4.4m from the Welsh Government to create 88 jobs at the plant late last year.

Llanelli’s local AM, Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for the Economy and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement about the jobs blow.

Lee Waters AM said “Nia Griffith and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected. And the Welsh Government will be extending the taskforce helping workers at Schaeffler to offer practical support.”

“Calsonic were offered significant Welsh Government help to develop new products at the end of last year, and we will continue to do what we can to help create a sustainable future for the site, through what is clearly a troubling period.”

Nia Griffith MP said “The next month will be a difficult period for the workers and their families at Calsonic, both Lee and I are ready to do whatever we can to help anyone affected. Alongside working directly with the factory staff and the trade unions, I’ll be using my voice in Parliament to ask the UK Government to match Welsh Government’s ongoing commitment to the plant and the workforce.”

Calsonic’s vice-president of HR for Europe, Neil O’ Brien, said: “The automotive industry is at a transitional stage, as well as being at a key point in several major vehicle ‘life cycles’, with car manufacturers developing their technologies to satisfy the ever demanding environmental legislation and moving towards autonomous and electric vehicles.

“During this period of transition, the added pressures of market instability caused by the political and economic conditions have affected our customers’ volumes and, consequently, Calsonic Kansei’s sales have seen a significant drop.

“The company intends to do everything reasonably possible to reduce the impact of this proposal on its employees.”

In January Schaeffler announced plans to close its plant in Leave-voting Llanelli with a loss of 200 skilled jobs.

Schaeffler also cited uncertainty about the UK’s economic and political future as being partially responsible for its decision.

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West Wales responds to Notre-Dame ‘tragedy’

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Notre-Dame de Paris: The large fire partially destroyed the cathedral on Monday

THE WORLD has reacted to the major fire that partially destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral, with religious leaders of west Wales among those to have sent prayers to Paris.

The large fire on Monday (Apr 15) damaged much of the historic landmark, destroying the roof as well as the famous spire. The fire began at around 6:30pm local time (4:30pm GMT) and it took until 10am (8am GMT) on Tuesday morning for firefighters to fully extinguish the blaze. Many of the relics held in the cathedral, including the crown of thorns brought there in 1239 by St. Louis, said to be that which was placed on the head of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion, were saved by firefighters. One firefighter is said to have suffered minor injuries while tackling the fire. The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but Paris’ public prosecutor is working under the assumption that it was an accident.

Whilst the principal structure was saved, including the famed towers, the building is still seen as unstable. Prior to the fire, there was already scaffolding in place to deal with the cracks appearing in the stonework. Renovations were underway and 16 copper statues had already been removed last week.

Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning ‘Our Lady of Paris’, is one of the most widely recognised symbols of France, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site of the cathedral is thought to have been of religious significance dating back as far as Roman Gaul. The construction of the modern church began in 1163, and the cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Already hundreds of millions of euros have been donated towards the reconstruction of the site, as people across the world have reacted to the news and sent both prayers and funds to Paris.

Bishop of Menevia Tom Burns said: “For a thousand years it has stood as a beacon of prayer and hope. But what a tragedy struck Paris and the French nation on Monday evening at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. It is a beautiful creation that resides at the very heart of French life and in the hearts of French people wherever they happen to be, of whatever faith or none. It has struck chords in all people of good will who have walked through its doors into an arena of peace and calm.

“Some years ago, after wondering at the flying-buttresses that supported the thick stone walls, I had entered under that roof, never conscious of the vulnerability of its wooden structure. As I saw on television on Monday evening the fire raging through the roof, and the spire disintegrating piece by piece, I felt a lump in my throat. I shared with the people of France my sense of having once touched something quite unique. For, it had been my privilege, as Bishop of HM Forces, to preach from the Cathedral’s vast pulpit on Remembrance Sunday just over a decade ago.

“Now this was another sad occasion to remember, though thankfully without any loss of life. As York Minster was resurrected from the flames some years ago, and similarly Windsor Castle in more recent times, may the experts in restoring ancient buildings combine their God-given skills to rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris. May it rise from the ashes to fulfil its function as God’s House in this world and to re-assure us that such a building evokes belonging and inspires us to greater things. It is still greatly needed, if not even more so now.”

Fr. Liam Bradley, Parish Priest at St David and St Patrick Church in Haverfordwest, said: “We hold in our hearts and prayers those who take risks to save life and property. May God bless the skills of craftsmen and women as they undertake the task of rebuilding.

“God our Father, let the community of Paris come together in this moment of difficulty and grace, to rebuild your house and do you honour, and so provide an enduring monument of how high the human spirit can soar in the face of adversity.

“As buildings crumble, may our faith be strong; from the ashes, may new fruit be born. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Paris, may all the people of France be filled with the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, risen for us at Easter. Amen.

“St Denis – Pray for us!”

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New funding for businesses to improve key areas of county

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A NEW pot of funding has been opened up to support regeneration, business growth and job creation in key priority areas across Carmarthenshire.

The Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) programme is part of a Welsh Government regional scheme to drive economic development in areas deemed most in need.

Areas chosen for investment in Carmarthenshire are Llanelli Town Centre and Station Road, and Ammanford Town Centre.

Businesses can apply for funding from two main thematic funding streams – a Property Enhancement Development Grant and Sustainable Living Grant.

Projects must promote economic regeneration – creating jobs, enhancing skills and employability and creating the right environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

A Property Enhancement Development Grant provides gap funding for owners or occupiers of vacant commercial buildings to enhance frontages and bring vacant commercial floor space back into use.

Where a local need has been identified, it could also fund development projects that create new commercial floor space.

A Sustainable Living Grant supports the conversion of vacant commercial space on upper floors into new homes. It can be used alongside the Property Enhancement Development Grant, and other initiatives, to encourage mixed-use regeneration of properties.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Council Leader and Executive Board Member for Regeneration, met Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn in Llanelli Town Centre recently to discuss the TRI programme and other ongoing improvements to the town.

He said: “This targeted investment has potential to make a real difference in Llanelli and Ammanford, and complements the council’s on-going efforts to regenerate these important towns.

“We are pleased to be part of this regional programme that will make the most of vacant commercial space and help improve the appearance and vibrancy of our town centres.”

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “We want to support local businesses, grow our fantastic town centres and create job opportunities in Llanelli and Ammanford. Creating more good quality commercial and retail space will play a real part in this, as will creating homes in the centre of our towns, so people can live and work centrally and contribute to the local economy.

“This fund will help to create opportunities out of empty properties and attract more people to our town centres. I look forward to seeing some exciting refurbishments, and businesses growing and prospering across in Llanelli and Ammanford as a result.”

Any businesses or applicants interested, or with a deliverable project in the priority areas identified, should contact Carmarthenshire County Council’s Economic Development Team for an initial discussion.

Contact Economic Development Coordinator, Tessa Peregrine, on TPeregrine@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or 01554 748815.

More information is available on the business section of www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales.

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