Norton Motorcycles to create up to 150 jobs with move to Donington Hall
A world-famous motorbike firm says it will create up to 150 jobs by moving production to the grounds of an historic hall.
Norton Motorcycles yesterday announced it had bought the 18th century Donington Hall for a seven-figure sum.
The company plans to relocate its assembly operation from nearby Donington Park race circuit to a building close to the hall.
Stuart Garner, Norton's chief executive, said the firm had outgrown its factory, near the track's paddock, and was moving to Hastings House, an office block vacated last year by BMI.
He said the larger space available at Hastings House meant it could quadruple production to 40 bikes per week within 18 months and increase its workforce from 50 to between 150 and 200.
Norton's machining and fabrication operations will continue to be at Donington Park.
"Donington Hall conjures up a uniquely British way to show style, strength and quality, which are all great attributes of the Norton brand," said Mr Garner.
"It's a picture postcard frontage. Our bikes are hand-made in Britain. Now we can say our headquarters are, too."
Mr Garner said having a historic building as its new headquarters would help attract Japanese, American and Canadian customers.
He said he was looking to use the hall, which would also house office staff, to host race day events and product launches.
Until a year ago, 1,000 BMI and Bmibaby staff worked at the hall.
They have relocated to East Midlands or Heathrow airports or been made redundant.
"What we are looking to do is bring some job growth to the area," said Mr Garner. "Hundreds of jobs have been lost at Donington Hall, but Norton is giving the opportunity for some of them to be put back."
Norton is in talks with North West Leicestershire District Council about planning consents.
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said: "I am delighted Donington Hall is going to be put back into use. The fact a local manufacturing company such as Norton is taking on the building and creating jobs is excellent news."
Lesley Pendleton, county councillor for Castle Donington, said: "It's great news."
Norton has also announced the creation of the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy at Donington Hall.
It will be run in partnership with Loughborough College.
Norton makes two models – the Commando 961 Sport and Commando 961 Cafe Racer. Prices start at £13,500.
Last year, Norton made a profit for the first time since Mr Garner bought it from a US businessman in 2008.