Yaskawa will move in during spring 2024. Credit: via Creo

Yaskawa commits to Sunderland

In a major inward investment win, the Japanese robotics company is to open a 35,000 sq ft facility at Hillthorn Park, adjacent to Nissan and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The new UK headquarters mark a continuation of the company’s expansion strategy in Europe. Yaskawa Electric Corporation, founded in Japan in 1915, is consciously following the trend towards building up technology know-how and production competence in Europe.

The drives and motion products it makes are manufactured in Cumbernauld, Scotland while 80% of the European robot demands are produced in the European robot plant at Kočevje in Slovenia.

Yaskawa has shipped more than 33 Mio AC Drives, 25 Mio Servo Drives and Motors and over 500,000 industrial robots across the globe, thousands of which are deployed in the UK.

One of the industries the company has seen present new opportunities for growth over recent years however is the electric and hybrid vehicles sector, which was a key motivator when moving to Hillthorn Park.

David Walsh, managing director at Yaskawa UK, said: “We continue to see positive growth and investment changes across our European organisation which includes the continued desire to invest in the growing opportunities for UK markets in the robotics, drives and motion control industries we work in.

“So, it really is a huge vote of confidence in the UK and our new location in the North East is a huge driver for major industrial investment and opportunities to help shape, create and contribute to innovative automation solutions for several industries such as automotive, food and beverage, logistics, packaging, manufacturing and wood and metal working.

“As a business, being close to customers is extremely important to us and this move binds perfectly with that, putting us right at the heart of one of the UK’s largest manufacturing clusters and some of the biggest names in EV development and production.

“We also have plans to continue growing our headcount over the course of the next year and this will give us the space required to enable that, as well as ensuring we can continue to tap into the region’s rich talent pool of skilled workers.”

Situated just a short drive from the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and within an hour’s drive from Newcastle International Airport, the £60m business park is being developed by Legal & General.

Once complete, the site, supported by funding from central government, the North East LEP and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – will deliver 620,000sq ft of prime industrial space in Washington, with 11 commercial buildings ranging in size from 21,550 to 124,250 sq ft.

“Globally, we’re committed to becoming a more sustainable business and futureproofing our operations and the move to Hillthorn Park is a perfect example of that,” Walsh added.

The firm expects to move in spring.

Yaskawa has been supported in its move to the city by the business investment team at Sunderland City Council.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of the council, said: “We are fortunate as a city to be home to a number of multi-national manufacturers, and we are delighted that Yaskawa will soon join the ever-growing list of businesses that can now call Sunderland home.

“Through the development of Hillthorn Park and IAMP, our goal was to attract more inward investment into the city and create more highly skilled jobs for residents and in Yaskawa we have a company helping us to achieve just that.”

Helen Golightly, chief executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Yaskawa’s decision to invest in Sunderland reinforces our region’s position as one of the most important advanced manufacturing hubs in the UK. The company’s new state-of-the- art manufacturing facility at Hillthorn Park will bring more jobs to our region and help attract future inward investment as more businesses look to benefit from our skilled workforce and world-class infrastructure.

“The £2.5m investment from government’s Getting Building Fund, which is managed in the region by the North East LEP, has helped ensure this strategic Enterprise Zone site has the utility infrastructure to meet the needs of incoming businesses. As a result, one of the world’s leading global technology companies has chosen the North East as the base for its new UK headquarters, and the future growth of its business.”

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