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Truck plant plan brings jobs hope to Longton

DOZENS of jobs could be created with the launch of a new truck company.

Longton Avia has teamed up with automotive giant Avia Ashok Leyland to launch its mid-range truck into the UK market.

And although the vehicles are currently being made at the Avia plant in Prague in the Czech Republic, there are plans to build a new assembly plant in Longton itself.

Directors at Longton Avia say that will depend on how well the truck sells in the UK.

The firm has been set up by a group of Staffordshire businessmen including Jonathan Dale, previously director of logistics at a construction company. It employs five people at its base in Beaufort Road.

Mr Dale said: “We know there is a market there for a new mid-range truck, and now we have identified a global manufacturer to support the venture we are trying to build a customer base. We are approaching this from the bottom up.

“The trucks are already in production in Prague and have been for a little while now. We are introducing them to the British market.”

Avia Ashok Leyland is part of Indian manufacturer the Hinduja Automotive Group.

Mr Dale said he believes the trucks will sell well in the UK, which will enable the firm to set up a manufacturing base in Longton.

He said: “It all comes down to selling trucks in the short-term.

“We just have an office at the moment, but we are in the process of setting up a national network of dealerships to deal with things like servicing.

“Once we can see the sales volumes, we are planning on putting in a local assembly.

“We would hope to be cutting the first piece of turf towards the end of next year.

“We would be looking to take on local skilled workers, and we are very keen on apprenticeships because we feel that is what Longton and Stoke-on-Trent needs.”

He added: “It will create jobs but we are talking dozens rather than thousands. Motor manufacturing is not what it used to be, there is a lot of automation.”

Mr Dale said the firm has not yet identified a potential site for the plant, but added that it is considering a number of options and is in talks with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Directors are hoping Longton Avia can create “a new engineering tradition” in the town.

Mr Dale said: “We felt Longton was a very strong, British sounding name like Bedford.”

Rob Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, said: “This is such exciting news as it will bring many new opportunities to the area.

“It is anticipated that this initiative will assist in the regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent, not only by creating extra jobs, but by giving an extra boost to the existing automotive engineering industry.”

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