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Business & Economy

Dismay over Nissan announcement

Nissan’s announcement that it is not, after all, going to produce its new X-Trail SUV in Sunderland has been greeted with dismay writes Chris Dobson.

Not only is this a back-track on its earlier announcement that it would bring the production of this model to Sunderland, it has come at a time of pressure on car sales in the UK generally but above all at a time of ever-increasing angst over Brexit.

Very clearly an announcement of this significance has received widespread media coverage but the one thing missing from all coverage has been the mention of ‘supply chain’. So there are 7000 jobs at the Nissan plant with no indication so far that they are at risk. But the new model gave significant hope of job security. The news is clear – the new model will now no longer come to Sunderland. The uncertainty is gloomy enough but what of the supply chain within which there are up to 30,000 jobs reliant on delivering daily, seamlessly, millions of parts to the Nissan plant?

If these jobs are also open for debate what of the buildings that suppliers occupy to deliver just in time and sequential services? Such has been the demand for space that some deliveries come from north of the Tyne Tunnel so the supply chain is wide-spread and a very important part of the manufacturing process but also a key element of the commercial property industrial sector.

For example, there is the South Tyneside/Sunderland Councils International Advanced Manufacturing Park presently being developed on a 150 acres site immediately north of Nissan delivering in due course 1.6m sq ft in  units from 50,000 sq ft to 500,000 sq ft.

Clearly, the locational juxtaposition of IAMP with Nissan’s 800 acres site is an important proposition for potential occupiers. Access to the A19 is another key benefit as is access to the Port of Tyne important for exporting Nissan cars. Yet more uncertainty I would suggest. It will be interesting to see what scale of comfort HM Government can supply at this crucial time. Hopefully it won’t be a reminder that Sunderland was the first UK city to vote ‘leave’ and therefore it’s a simple case of, in common social media parlance, ‘living with it’.