RISING energy costs represent a major threat to the growth of Britain’s manufacturing sector, according to the managing director of a fast-growing family firm in Yorkshire.
Trojan Plastics is seeing increased demand for its bathroom fixtures on the back of the housing boom and has added 40 new jobs in the last four months, bringing headcount to nearly 180.
The Huddersfield company is expanding into global markets and has won approval to supply its products to the United Arab Emirates and hopes to start exporting to Germany and Belgium soon.
Trojan turned over £17m last year and expects to grow by 10 per cent this year, creating 20 more jobs over the next quarter.
But managing director David Mosley is concerned about the rising cost of energy and believes that it is making British companies less competitive.
He invited Conservative MP Jason McCartney and The Yorkshire Post to his busy factory at a former textiles mill in Colne Valley yesterday to discuss the quandary faced by British manufacturers.
Mr Mosley said: “The challenge is as we grow we use more and more energy. Our energy bill last year was more than £500,000, a substantial cost. Our overseas competitors are paying half that, if not less.”
He raised the wider issue of energy security in the UK after the industry watchdog called for the deepest-ever investigation into the big six power suppliers. At least one firm, SSE, announced a price freeze this week.
Mr Mosley said: “Energy companies need to invest. To freeze prices, they are not going to invest. If they don’t invest, we are going to have shortages. If we have shortages we are going to have blackouts.
“They have to invest in energy. Unless the Government incentivises energy companies, we are not going to get cheap energy.”
Trojan, founded by Mr Mosley’s father Maurice Mosley nearly 40 years ago, commissioned two new production lines last year, bringing the total to 10 and has invested in a new warehouse to store raw materials. The company is weighing up whether to invest in a hydro-electric station on the River Colne to help control energy costs.
Mr McCartney, the MP for Colne Valley, said manufacturing companies in his constituency are “booming”.
He said the Chancellor announced a £7bn package to help manufacturers in last week’s Budget, which should help companies like Trojan save £50,000 a year. Mr McCartney said: “At the end of the day we have to have a grown-up conversation about where we are going to get our energy from.
“It’s all well and good for people saying they don’t want shale gas, or they don’t want nuclear, or they don’t want a dirty coal-fired power station, but where are they going to get their energy from?
“We are investing in renewables – we have the Siemens announcement in Hull – but we need some new power stations.
“Once we are in control of our own energy we are not hostages to the wholesale price in Eastern Europe or other parts of the world.”