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Crane maker extends reach

Wednesday 9 January 2013 5:00

Crane manufacturer Liebherr is expanding its Wearside site to help it stay ahead of global demand.

Liebherr is to extend to its plant in Sunderland by close to 6500sq ft to allow it to build its maritime cranes in advance of orders being received to significantly reduce delivery waiting times.

The company recently won a major order to build North Sea offshore cranes for energy and utilities giant GDF Suez, and reports a significant growth in demand for its cranes for offshore projects.

Ralph Saelzer, managing director at the Liebherr Sunderland plant, said: “Through being able to manufacture cranes off the shelf, we can cut down on waiting times for potential clients and offer a very short delivery time. It gives us an advantage to be able to say we have cranes there ready, instead of saying they will have to wait a long time – sometimes it can be many months.

“We have been hit by the global downturn along with everyone else, but thankfully our workload has always remained at a level where we can sustain our operation. We hope that building these cranes ahead of orders being received will allow us to place ourselves in a very strong position going forward.”

Liebherr, which employs 200 people in Sunderland – including 29 apprentices from the local area supplies both offshore and ship cranes around the world. International orders
account for more than 90% of Liebherr’s business.

Liebherr’s Sunderland plant has grown steadily since opening in the city in the 1980s, being initially based in the former Wear Dock shipyard, and then expanding into the adjacent Deptford shipyard in the late 1990s. The plant is part of the Swiss-based Liebherr Group, which employs more than 35,000 people in 120 countries.

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Liebherr is a company of huge importance, both as a local employer and an international supplier and exporter, and we are very pleased to have been able to support them in this latest expansion.

“Our business development team has worked closely with Liebherr for a number of years and it is great to see the company continue to develop and grow its presence around the world.

“For a city with the long maritime and crane-making heritage of Sunderland, we are immensely proud to have a company such as Leibherr here.”