County Durham manufacturing giant Thorn Lighting is looking to employ an extra 30 permanent new staff to cope with huge international demand for its state-of-the-art products illuminating some of Europe’s most sophisticated cities and helping councils save energy costs.
Spennymoor-based Thorn has increased its turnover by nearly 55% in the past year from £65m to £100m, taking on 260 new employees in that time to meet a surge in demand for its LED indoor and outdoor lighting range.
Seventy-five of these new workers were employed and 19 existing jobs at the plant secured thanks to a £473,000 Let’s Grow Regional Growth Fund grant.
Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, worked with Thorn to successfully access the funding which also bought new equipment for the Spennymoor plant.
The firm is a key supplier of its latest technology to local authorities across the UK, including Durham County Council, and to cities such as Oslo and Copenhagen to illuminate their chic streets.
Durham County Council has retrofitted thousands of new Thorn LED street lights in Durham City and towns and villages across the county, replacing inefficient and expensive sodium lights with high-tech LED lights, tackling one of the council’s major energy costs.
Since 2010, Thorn has supplied more than 14,000 street lights to help Durham County Council retrofit inefficient lights and cut maintenance costs.
The council has replaced more than 20,000 old sodium lamps with LED lights, with plans to retrofit 55,000 lights in total over the lifetime of the six-year programme.
The new white LED lights use far less power while providing sharper light and colour rendition for pedestrians and motorists, giving clearer definition of traffic and people and reducing light pollution.
Thorn Operations Director Steve Nixon said: “We have seen continued growth right through 2015 and expect that we will still grow in 2016.
“Essentially the extra growth has come from three main areas. Firstly, taking over the work from our Swedish factory, secondly from the growth in our outdoor lighting, including the street lights, and thirdly from the continued move towards LED lighting which now accounts for the majority of our sales.”
Business Durham Managing Director Simon Goon said: “Thorn Lighting is an international manufacturing success story based in the heart of County Durham which we are proud to support.
“Its product innovation is in high demand, winning it major new contracts across the UK with the public sector and transforming the look and appeal of European capital cities with its intelligent LED lighting.”
So far, the county council’s highways team estimates the energy efficient LED lights have saved the local authority more than £800,000 in electricity and maintenance costs and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3,500 tonnes.
Thorn’s rapid growth has seen Copenhagen install 10,000 of its LED street lights, making it one of the first cities in the world to use intelligent street lighting.
The energy efficient lighting designed by Thorn will reduce the city’s energy costs by up to 70% and substantially cut carbon emissions. The new street lights will automatically adjust brightness to traffic flow and are ready for integration with future communication devices such as cameras.
Thorn Lighting is producing between 12,000 and 14,000 units at its plant everyday to service its order book.
Production of LED lighting recently exceeded traditional lighting for the first time to reflect sales performance and a fundamental change in the industry.
Their products are fitted into offices, schools and hospitals across the world with a new product range planned for launch in 2016, including Poppack LED offering a state-of-the-art update of the traditional fluorescent strip light.
Business Durham is highlighting the strength of County Durham manufacturing excellence through a specially commissioned infographic ‘House of Durham’, showing how its products and innovation impact everyday life.
Business Durham is also celebrating the International Year of Light 2015 by promoting the area’s strength in this sector. The link to this video www.businessdurham.co.uk/thornwembley shows Thorn Lighting’s project to replace Wembley Stadium’s iconic arch lighting with a custom LED lighting system.It is designed for full colour as well as special moving light effects.
The Let’s Grow Fund is operated by BE Group in partnership with UNW LLP, The Journal and Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. It is a £60m Regional Growth Fund programme which provides grant support for capital investment and R&D projects that will create new, sustainable jobs.