Iceland's ambassador to the UK was in Colchester yesterday (25 June) to open AEW Delford Systems' new manufacturing plant.
In addition to the ambassador, His Excellency Sverrir H Gunnlaugsson, the Mayor and Mayoress of Colchester and the president of the Essex Chamber of Commerce were at the opening of the new 11,000sq m site, which represents a £1.8m investment by Icelandic group Marel Food Systems.
AEW Delford Systems has moved all of its food weighing and labelling equipment production to the new factory from its old site at Harwich. The company decided to make the move following its merge with Marel, as the Harwich factory was deemed inefficient and unsuitable for a modern business.
David Ashmore, AEW Delford Systems' managing director, said: "Following extensive refurbishment, this new factory should significantly improve our efficiency. We will also have the benefit of a much larger base for sales and service operations around the world."
Marel CEO Dr Hörđur Arnarson said: "It is just two years since our companies joined forces as part of our growth strategy. We chose to acquire AEW Delford Systems because not only does it make the best quality of products, but it also has the best drive for innovation. We believe that this new factory will be one of the cornerstones of our future."
Despite moving 17 miles, 117 of the company's original staff have been retained.
"It took us a long time to find the right site, because we wanted to be the right side of Colchester and therefore retain our employees. Of the seven staff that took redundancy, five were close to retirement anyway," said Ashmore.
Following a brief speech in which the Ambassador stressed the importance of encouraging international trade, he wished AEW Delford Systems all the best for the future and unveiled an engraved plaque to commemorate the event. He then joined other VIP guests for a tour of the new factory, which included demonstrations of some of the company's latest machines and systems.