THE speed and scale of JCB’s expansion would have been impossible without ‘vital’ improvements to help traffic flow on the A50 near Uttoxeter, Lord Bamford has revealed.
The digger giant’s boss said his firm could have expanded ‘anywhere’, including overseas, but decided to centre its £150 million development near Uttoxeter.
He was speaking to the media after the announcement of 2,500 new jobs, which will be full-operational by 2018.
Lord Bamford praised Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths’ ‘great work’ in helping to secure a £40 million project to improve roundabouts at Derby Road and McDonalds.
This has helped JCB immediately announce the creation of a new Cab Systems factory in Beamhurst – replacing a smaller facility in Rugeley.
Rugeley workers’ jobs will be moved to the Beamhurst plant, which will also produce cabs currently made by third-party European suppliers.
The firm will also extend its Rocester World Headquarters by 126,000 sq ft to increase hydraulic cylinder production.
Lord Bamford said: “JCB is a worldwide business but it all comes from where we’re sitting right now.
“Uttoxeter will benefit from the A50 plans and they’ll definitely take traffic away from the town centre.
“We can move our very bulky products, of which hundreds are made each day, around without clogging up the road network.
“We’d have still invested here without the road plans, but not as quickly or in the same way.
“We can bring work currently done by suppliers in mainland Europe back to the area with the expansion.
“The cost of shipment is huge and moving some of these operations to the local area will save us money and create more jobs necessary to fill the gap.”
Discussions with the county and borough councils about the A50 work, which will involve building flyovers across the Derby Road and McDonalds roundabouts, have been ongoing for ‘some months’.
But Lord Bamford insists what has spurred JCB’s new investment is ‘the success of the business and ambition to grow’.
He said: “This isn’t something that’s just suddenly happened. Andrew Griffiths has been giving us plenty of advice about problems in his constituency and traffic on the A50 is a real hindrance.
“But what’s spurred us on to make this investment is the success of our business and, going forward, we anticipate a really strong future.
“I’m a Staffordshire person and was brought up here. We don’t have to invest in the county but it’s a place that’s very strong in engineering and has a lot of good people.”
While making it clear that there are no guarantees there will not be a repeat of 2008 and 2009, when JCB made redundancies, Lord Bamford said the government’s Autumn statement has improved conditions for business.
He said: “We can never say any jobs are secure. At the end of the day, how secure is running a business? It’s a very fragile thing.
“The government’s been really helpful, particularly on scrapping national insurance for young apprentices.
“We’ve got the JCB Academy and take on a lot of apprentices, most of whom get degrees while they’re here.
“The other thing they’ve done is continue to reduce corporation tax and that money can be reinvested into the business.”