New jobs for region as Turkish firm unveils first UK manufacturing base

The firm produces sustainable building materials and is one of the world's market leaders in this sector. The move to Gateway 14 will create around 100 highly skilled jobs in Stowmarket and bring an investment of up to GBP45m. The announcement comes at a time when the UK and Turkey are discussing an enhanced Free Trade Agreement.

Both Freeport East and Assan Panel are keen to ensure the investment acts as a positive signal to other companies looking to strengthen trade connections between the two countries. Contingent upon securing required approvals, Ihsan Tolga Akar, Managing Director of Assan Panel, mentioned that the goal is to have the new plant operational by Autumn 2025. As part of its investment, Assan Panel, which exports to 85 countries from Turkey, is planning to establish a new office in Ipswich to cater for the UK market.

A skilled workforce will be required at the new multi-million-pound facility, which will manufacture sandwich panels filled with Polyisocyanurate (PIR), mineral wool, or polyurethane - critical components in constructing sustainable and eco-friendly buildings. Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, comments: "This announcement represents a real milestone in strengthening the presence of green industry in and around the Stowmarket and wider Freeport East area. "As well as direct job creation, the investment will provide opportunities to build strong local R & D relationships with universities and drive the development of the skills and innovation cluster at Gateway 14.

"With close proximity to the Port of Felixstowe and the flexibility of the freeport customs model, locating in Freeport East provides Assan Panel with the ideal base from which to serve both UK and European markets. "We are confident this is a model that will encourage other international manufacturers to consider Freeport East as a future strategic location." Haluk Kayabasi, CEO of Kibar Holding, adds: "Kibar Holding, one of the leading groups of the Turkish industry and under which Assan Panel operates, is taking firm steps forward on its globalisation journey with its unabated investment moves.

"We aim to further strengthen our presence in the European market with the new facility investment of Assan Panel in the UK, which has previously increased its presence abroad with the investments it has realised in Jordan and Azerbaijan. "By making a difference with the innovative, pioneering, sustainable, energy-efficient products we offer, we serve for the transition in European sandwich panel market for sustainable solutions, and now with more concentration in the UK." Minister for Investment in the Department for Business and Trade, Lord Dominic Johnson, was thrilled by the timely news.

He said: "Assan Panel's investment underscores Freeport East's outstanding offer to businesses operating in green industries and will create new, skilled jobs in the region. "UK Freeports are perfect places for businesses to innovate, collaborate and grow. This news highlights Freeport East's exceptional opportunities which underpin their vision of a global hub for trade and investment into advanced manufacturing and green energy."

Gateway 14, led by Mid Suffolk District Council-owned Gateway 14 Ltd with development partner, Jaynic, is next to the A14 at Stowmarket.

It is East Anglia's largest business park, providing 2.36 million sq ft of accommodation and as part of Freeport East the site offers tax reliefs and simplified customs arrangements and is fast becoming a hub for manufacturing, logistics, and R & D firms.