High-end gun manufacturer creates 30 new jobs in move to Northampton Enterprise Zone

Longthorne marketing director, Elaine Stewart, and company managing director, James Stewart, with Councillor Tim Hadland (centre)

Longthorne marketing director, Elaine Stewart, and company managing director, James Stewart, with Councillor Tim Hadland (centre)

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A gun manufacturer has revealed plans to move to Northampton’s Enterprise Zone creating 30 new jobs, it has been announced.

Longthorne is relocating from Lancashire but wanted to create a new base in the Midlands.

The Enterprise Zone was set up in 2011. Northampton Borough Council claims it has created more than 1,400 jobs since its launch. The zone has seen a number of existing Northampton businesses use the opportunity to expand, such as Cosworth and Church’s, while the University of Northampton is relocating its campus to the Riverside site within the zone.

The borough argues that some businesses may have left the town had the Enterprise Zone not been in place. Critics say that it has not achieved its original aim of being a centre for high-performance engineering firms and attracting a swathe of new businesses to the area.

The announcement of Longthorne’s move to Northampton is thought to be one of the most significant in terms new companies coming to the area in the five-year history of the Enterprise Zone.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “Business is booming, and the company is increasing its production tenfold in the next decade, so needs experienced engineers and youngsters seeking to learn a trade.

“The firm is a subsidiary of Engineering Technologies and Manufacturing (ETM), which launched in Australia in 1989, but has operated from the UK since 1998.

“ETM produces precision-engineered parts for many sectors, including autosport components and machine tools, but managing director James Stewart has diversified the business.

“He has long had a passion for country pursuits, particularly sport shooting, and in 2006 started developing a unique process to create a shotgun barrel from a single block of steel, rather than separate pieces welded together.

“The company is currently producing 100 high-end shotguns per year, but plans to increase that to 1,000 across their range with this latest investment,” the spokesman said.

Marketing director, Elaine Stewart, said: “Our former premises were small and restrictive and not in the best area for attracting technical engineering staff, limiting our growth. We also have a much larger potential client base closer to London.

“We chose Northampton because of its proximity to London, and motorway access. The fact that there are other companies in the area using similar technology to ourselves means that there will be a good potential labour force, and the Enterprise Zone incentives offered certainly made it attractive.”

Longthorne has several high-profile clients including the Duchess of Rutland, Lord Coke of Holkham Hall in North Norfolk, and Middle Eastern royalty. Their standard model guns are priced from £15,200 for the Hesketh model, to £28,090 for the Rutland, which features gold inlay and a gold-plated trigger.

Longthorne already exports to Australia and the USA, and is looking to widen its reach across Europe, visiting a number of international trade shows during the past year.

Enterprise zones offer up to £55,000 per year in business rate relief, simplified planning, enhanced infrastructure investment, and improved superfast broadband.

Councillor Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “This area has a proud heritage in country pursuits, and we’re perfectly situated for Longthorne to build its business.

“The company’s model is a perfect fit with our aspirations for the Enterprise Zone, and with Northampton’s reputation for high-quality goods that attract an international following.

“Enterprise Zone status allows us to offer some fantastic benefits to businesses, and has already helped us create more than 1,400 jobs since its launch.”