Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday announced the creation of 67 highly skilled new jobs at oil and gas service company, Howco Group plc, in its Ayrshire engineering division following a £7.5 million investment.
The company, which specialises in the provision of specialised steels and equipment for the buoyant oil and gas sector, has ambitious expansion plans which are being supported by Japanese parent company, Sumitomo Corporation and a £750,000 Regional Selective Assistance grant from Scottish Enterprise.
The investment will bring the total number of Scottish jobs across the company’s Aberdeen, Cumbernauld, Glasgow and Irvine sites to over 360 and will see an additional 2,000 sq metres of factory space being created, to accommodate the company’s ambitious international growth plans.
As a major local employer, Howco is committed to opening up youth employment opportunities through the Modern Apprenticeship Programme to ensure a readily available supply of skills for Scotland’s future oil and gas industry.
The company, which currently employs nine apprentices across its Scottish sites is in early discussions to potentially boost this figure by a further eight apprenticeship placements in the coming months.
Visiting the company’s manufacturing facility at Shewalton Road after the Scottish Government’s Cabinet meeting in Irvine, First Minister, Alex Salmond said:
“The creation of this number of highly skilled jobs is excellent news for North Ayrshire.
“I am delighted that Howco are investing more than £7 million to allow them to improve their facilities here, as well as expand to their new site nearby.
“This is a tribute to the success of the team here at the Drybridge site, supported and enabled by Scottish Enterprise, and North Ayrshire Council.
“The fact that the company is so supportive of training by offering apprenticeships is also to be welcomed.
“The record investment being made in the oil and gas sector, of which Howco is part, points to a bright and healthy future for the industry for decades to come.”
The expansion is expected to support significant further growth in the company’s market share building on its existing position as one of the UK’s largest independent processors and distributors of speciality steels with operations in nine countries including the USA, China, Canada, Norway, Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia.
Steve Hoggan, Manufacturing Director at Howco said:
“Our primary market in the oil and gas sector is forecast to grow strongly over the next three to five years, both in the UK and overseas. Our worldwide reputation as market leaders places us in a strong position to capture a share of that growth and by investing in our facilities and our workforce we can maintain and grow our market share. With the additional capacity from the project, we anticipate turnover almost doubling within the next five years.”
Adrian Gillespie, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise, said:
“Howco’s decision to invest in the Ayrshire facility is testament to the skilled workforce and ambitious leadership team which aims to double the company’s turnover within the next five years.
“We are focused on supporting Scottish businesses to increase their international success and so are pleased to have been able to work with the company here in Scotland and with Sumitomo in Japan to support this investment which will undoubtedly drive greater global trade for the company.”
Patrick Wiggins, Chief Executive of Irvine Bay, said:
“This is tremendous news for the area and demonstrates yet again the enormous value i3, Irvine’s Enterprise Area to the region in helping attract investment, jobs and opportunities. We are seeing very significant interest in the Enterprise Area from businesses within Scotland and from overseas, and already we have secured a number of projects which are creating jobs and helping develop a stronger and more sustainable local economy.”
Oil and gas is one of Scotland’s biggest success stories, supporting over 200,000 jobs and generating £8.2billion worth of exports to 100 countries last year alone. Across Scotland there are more than 2,000 companies in the oil and gas supply chain, supporting the entire oil and gas upstream lifecycle through exploration, development, production and decommissioning.