A British manufacturing firm which featured on BBC2’s Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter, will next week launch its made in Britain Norfrost chest freezer range and open a third factory.
On the programme, in which the former trade minister and Confederation of British Industry director general Lord Digby Jones set about helping businesses realise their potential, he worked with Ebac as they were establishing the line.
The firm, committed to manufacturing in County Durham, bought the Norfrost brand and equipment in 2013. Pamela Petty, the firm’s managing director, took the decision to sell freezers after being sent a list of assets of Norfrost-maker Icetech Freezers Ltd based near John o’ Groats, which had gone into liquidation after the demise of Comet. Lord Digby Jones will launch the range, to be sold through Argos and Amazon and directly, and debate the future of manufacturing with industry bodies on November 6.
Petty said: ‘We have had a phenomenal response from consumers who are pleased we are bringing manufacturing back to the UK, but retailers don’t seem to value British-made goods as much. We naively thought more retailers would welcome Norfrost back. Freezers mostly come from China and some from Turkey. It is perhaps a bit of a burden in the UK that we follow energy efficiency rules more closely.’
The business also plans to launch ‘made in Britain’ washing machines this year. Petty has said: ‘We love making things and never plan to import anything. It blew me away when I found out 3million washing machines are imported per year. Freezers is smaller, we think around 300,000 a year are sold
Petty’s father John Elliott turned the business into a foundation and the family say it is committed to the local community for the long-term.
Petty has said: ‘We’ll stay and manufacture here even if we could
make more money by moving abroad. Dad decided to put the company into a foundation three years ago. The employees were chuffed because if they were worried that I might decide to retire and go to the Bahamas on the back of selling the business, well I can’t now.
‘This business will stay here hopefully making things for ever. I never really saw it as mine anyway. Now it is a trust I feel more responsible. It has crystalised it for me. I did have one night where I realised I am kind of giving up inheritance, not that I would have sold it off. The best thing that Ebac can do is be here making things and creating jobs. That is more valuable than anything it can do for me. We can all be selfish at times. This is of wider benefit to the economy. We have employees I feel responsible for.