An Essex-based PC manufacturer has won a #240,000 grant from the DTI to help it move to larger premises which will create up to 150 jobs for local people.
Hi-Grade Computers, based in Barking, will use the money to move to a 40,000sq feet building close to its present site. Additional plant, machinery, furniture and equipment is also being purchased to develop new products. It currently employs 55 people.
Ori Yassoumis, sales director at Hi-Grade said: ?Since we moved to the new premises we have won two new deals with Great Universal Stores and Argos to sell our computers in their respective catalogues. We are also in negotiations with John Lewis. We wouldn?t have been able to do this if we didn?t move to bigger premises.?
The grant, called Regional Selective Assistance, is offered to companies of all sizes in areas considered by the government as suffering high unemployment. A DTI spokesperson said: ?The project for which the grant is provided must be commercially viable, create or safeguard unemployment, demonstrate a need for assistance, and offer a distinct benefit to the regional and national economy.?
Hi-Grade will receive the grant over three years. The first payment of #120,000 was made in August 1996 which enabled it to move premises and create 30 jobs.
The next payment of #60,000 will be made a year later when it is required to create 60 jobs. The remaining #60,000 will be given in August 1998 when a further 60 jobs are created. Yassoumis said most of the jobs will be for production and technical work.
The news was met with surprise among fellow UK PC manufacturers. Chris Bakolas, technical manager at Dan Technologies said: ?I wish I knew about this grant -- it sounds great.? However he voiced concern over whether Hi-Grade can sustain the kind of growth in an uncertain market that would enable it to honour its agreements with the DTI.
He said: ?Creating 30 jobs in the last few months has been the norm for everyone -- the market has been so busy. Sales in November and December have been through the roof but what of January, February and March? If Hi-Grade doesn?t make it happen what will the penalties be? They are taking some gambles but I hope it works for them.?
Yassoumis believes Hi-Grade will sustain a growth of 30 per cent in the next three to five years. Turnover has leapt 45 per cent each year, he continued. He said the company would stay at its new premises for at least five years which has the capacity to make 300 PCs a day.
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