Japanese corporation, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe, is gearing up for growth after becoming the first tenant at a new County Durham business park.

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe (SEWS-E), is expanding and relocating its workforce from its base at Rainton Bridge, Houghton-le-Spring to a new site at Jade Business Park, near Seaham.

Jade Business Park is a 55-acre employment site next to the A19, close to Dalton Park, and is set to provide over 1 million sq ft of new employment space and over 2,500 jobs.

The park is owned by Durham County Council, managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of the council and developed by Highbridge Properties PLC.

SEWS-E produces and distributes automotive wiring harnesses, fuse boxes, connectors, and cables throughout Europe. With a turnover in excess of €700m and over 20,000 employees in Europe, it is part of the Sumitomo family of companies which was founded in Japan over 400 years ago and now operates in 65 countries.

The company’s unit is part of the first phase of Jade Business Park, which will be completed this summer, delivering a total of seven new industrial units, equivalent to 155,000 sq ft of new space for distribution, technology, and advanced manufacturing businesses.

Mike Hall, DC Manager at SEWS-E, said: “We’re looking forward to getting into our new site at Jade Business Park in Durham.

“The site’s location and offer is perfect for us. It is just six miles away from our previous facility which we have outgrown, close to the motorway and to our major customers.

“Our new building is purpose built, enabling us to grow and also accommodate a number of exciting new projects that have in the pipeline.”

Sarah Slaven Interim Managing Director at Business Durham, said: “It’s a very exciting year for Jade Business Park as we welcome our first tenant SEWS-E, bringing new jobs and economic growth to the area.

“The park is a prime location for businesses to establish themselves in Durham or for relocation and expansion, thanks to its high-quality industrial units and excellent transport links.

“As the economy moves into the recovery phase we continue to support businesses to grow and create jobs and hope to welcome further businesses to this premier development in the near future.”

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “It’s more important than ever to support businesses and create new employment opportunities, which is why I am delighted Jade Business Park has welcomed its first tenant. This is a major milestone in a project that will a significant number of jobs to County Durham and boost our economy by tens of millions of pounds.

“I am sure Sumitomo will be the first of many companies making Jade Business Park their home and I would like to wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.”

Guy Marsden, director at Highbridge Properties PLC, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Durham County Council to deliver this great opportunity at Jade for the region. Its strength has been demonstrated by the pre let of 50,000 sq ft to Sumitomo within the first phase. Despite the COVID pandemic there is strong interest in the scheme and other developments on the 55 acre site.”

Jade Business Park has been built on the former colliery and cokeworks. It is located in a designated Enterprise Zone, with a rates benefit of up to £275,000 for occupiers.

The development of the new industrial units has been made possible by an investment of £14m from Durham County Council.

Additional support for highway and infrastructure works has come from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and the Highways Agency. It will help fund a programme of works to increase the capacity of the A19/A182 junctions serving the business park, which will allow for future growth.

The North East LEP funding came from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which supports major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

Helen Golightly, chief executive at the North East LEP, said: “It’s really encouraging that SEWS-E has chosen Jade Business Park for its expansion. Being located directly off the A19 is an attractive proposition and we look forward to welcoming more high-value manufacturing businesses to the site who can take advantage of its Enterprise Zone status and its excellent transport links.”