Grimsby engineering firm wins £5.5m contract to build Nike Flyleather production facility

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Jul 2018

A GRIMSBY engineering firm has won a contract worth more than £5.5 million to build a new production facility for global sportswear giant Nike’s new wonder material.

Blackrow Engineering has been signed up by ELeather, a UK firm that has entered into a long-term strategic innovation partnership with the US corporation, to introduce Nike Flyleather.

The performance-grade engineered leather is made from at least 50 per cent recycled fibres, and is now featuring in the latest footwear, from tennis shoes to baseball boots.

Reconstituted with synthetic materials, it is a process that will use 90 per cent less water, with an 80 per cent reduction in carbon footprint. ELeather exports to more than 40 countries, with a blue-chip global customer base. It also supplies upholstery and cladding for airlines, vehicles and trains. 

Read more: Regional offices to boost Blackrow growth plans

Darren Broughton, chairman, said: “This is a completely new industry for us and a high profile contract win. We will be mechanically and electrically installing all the production machinery and associated equipment. 

The contract also involves manufacturing large mezzanine platforms and lots of pipework. It is a new client, they were very impressed with Blackrow’s facilities and the professionalism and response of the project team during the tendering process.” 

A squad of 60 or more, working on manufacture at the sprawling Grimsby site and installation in Peterborough, will be assembled, with the South Humberside Industrial Estate team currently working through materials orders.

Blackrow Engineering is to manufacture and install the equipment for British firm ELeather to produce Nike Flyleather.

Already a major employer in the town with a very healthy order book, the win means the team is looking to add to its headcount, across sheet metal, pipefitting, welding, electrical, site installation and design disciplines. 

“A total of 180 people are now employed, we have added 20 in recent months and we are looking to increase even further,” Mr Broughton said. In its traditional sector, food, Blackrow has recently secured other large projects with Haith Group – installing potato handling equipment for a well-known oven chip producer, Moy Park Poultry – installation of new production lines, Greggs and other leading bakeries – for various factory improvements around the UK, as well as Tate & Lyle, Walkers Crisps and a leading salad producer.  Other industry sectors Blackrow is also busy in include waste to energy, petrochemicals and power generation.

“This is in addition to our normal ‘running work’ which includes us servicing the engineering needs of clients all over the UK and even abroad,” Mr Broughton said.

“We are not just busy for a couple of months, this is long term work we are building,” he added, underlining how there are currently 12 apprentices on the books, and a further six in this year’s intake.  

Read more: Trio of huge processing investments progressing at Blackrow

A significant increase in turnover is anticipated on the back of the winning the latest order, with more in the pipeline.

To complement the work, the Blackrow team has also invested in new machinery, including a large CNC lathe and horizontal borer.

Tony Booker, projects director, said: “This is equipment that is larger than we have ever had, it increases our capacity. The borer is something we have never had before and allows us to do more in-house. It improves our skilled machining capability.

“There is a real feel-good factor around the business, all of the staff at Blackrow have contributed in some way to this ongoing success and we are trying to recruit even more people from the local area as we have a substantial amount of work for months in advance.”

Read more: Service with a smile from engineering veteran

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