Ebac save freezer manufacturer, creating 100 jobs
Ebac has agreed a deal which will preserve the brands and products of UK manufacturer Icetech Freezers in a multi-million pound acquisition and investment deal, after the company fell victim to the collapse of Comet.
The deal is for an undisclosed seven-figure sum and will involve a further investment at Ebac’s factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
The move will see production of the firm’s Norfrost domestic chest freezer range moved to Ebac’s North East base, with up to 100 jobs expected to be created in the long term.
The Norfrost name and the company’s equipment, designs and copyright agreements have been acquired after production closed at the firm’s factory in Castletown, Caithness, Scotland, at the end of 2012.
Production is expected to begin by the end of 2013, with the aim of building up to match the previous output of 80,000 Norfrost chest freezers a year. The existing Norfrost range includes freezers from 57 litre to 204 litre capacity for the domestic market. Ebac was founded 40 years ago by refrigeration engineer John Elliott, who built the business around that expertise.
In 2012, Ebac was placed into the ownership of a foundation, one of the key principles of which is to see money reinvested in manufacturing in County Durham. Production of the freezers will run alongside the manufacture of Ebac’s watercooler and dehumidifier ranges at the firm’s Newton Aycliffe site.
As well as upholding that principle, the acquisition is part of the Ebac management’s pledge to invest in domestic appliance manufacture, with the company also in the process of developing production of washing machines.
Pamela Petty, Managing Director of the Ebac Group, said: “Preserving the manufacture of the Norfrost products range is a natural move for Ebac. We have 40 years’ experience in refrigeration engineering and a passion for making things. It is always sad to see a British brand in difficulties, so when the collapse of Comet proved the breaking point for Icetech and the Norfrost brand it was a huge shame. When we were approached by the interim liquidators to see if we were interested, it quickly became clear that there was an opportunity to keep Norfrost alive.
“There is a big job to be done in relocating the factory equipment from Castletown, which is as far North as you can get on the British mainland, but once we are up and running, we will be in a position to start filling the gap in supply of a popular British product.”