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Subsea Technology Firm Move to Forres

by Ellen Hardy
29 May 2008, at 1:00am

UK - Internationally known subsea technology firm, Bennex, has just moved into a purpose-built new unit at The Enterprise Park, Forres.

Bennex base in Forres

The company, which already has offices in Aberdeen and Nairn, has taken occupation of a 3,000 square foot, light manufacturing unit provided by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), owner of the Enterprise Park.

Four new jobs have been created by the move and another four workers are expected to be taken on within the next 12 months.

Bennex is recognised throughout the world as a key supplier of components, systems and services to the subsea oil and gas industry and also to the fishing and aquaculture industries.

It is intended to make the new unit the 'global hub' for Bennex's aquaculture products which include subsea cameras.

Chris Hyde, aquaculture technical sales manager with Bennex, said: "We will be moving in over the next couple of weeks, with a target for us to be up and running and completely operational by the end of May."

The arrival of the company has delighted HIE officials who say they are pleased to be able to support such a highly innovative firm supplying a specialist market and employing highly skilled people.

HIE area development manager Howell Davies said: "Part of our Moray 2020 strategy and also of the Government's economic strategy is to develop modern infrastructure in the area.

"We are pleased to have completed this unit and to have been able to attract such a prestigious company as Bennex. They are offering high quality jobs which will add to the economy of the area."

Bennex is switching its production of its underwater camera system from a location abroad to the Forres outlet and will also be manufacturing in the new unit an acoustic deterrent system that prevents seal attacks on offshore fish farms.

In addition the firm will carry out from Forres a contract it has to support and service fish counting and automatic weight estimation systems manufactured by Icelandic firm, Vaki. There is also the prospect in the imminent future of further work being carried out at the Forres unit.

Mr Hyde said: "We are in well progressed talks with other suppliers about the possibility of manufacturing other products under licence in Forres. We also hold patents and intellectual property on several other products that we hope to bring to market within the next couple of years.

"The idea is that the facility will be our global hub for aquaculture products with all manufacturing resources based there. Within the next year there will be at least seven staff based in this office. Our idea is that we end up with dedicated engineering and research and development resources on site."

The workforce at the unit is expected to number around eight by this time next year.

Said Mr Hyde: "All employees have been sourced from the local area to date and we plan to continue in that vein with future employment."

The timber frame unit, situated to the north west of the park is of a very advanced design and construction. It is highly insulated and not only has solar panels, but also a geothermal borehole system with very sophisticated underfloor heating and in-wall cooling systems. The building will require no fossil fuels and only tiny amounts of electrical power to heat it.

A new access road and roundabout has been constructed which has served to open up the north end of the park. European funding totalling £317,000 was secured towards the project.

The new unit contains room for up to ten work bays plus a moulding room for the production of underwater cable connectors. It is being handed over with all the data, power, compressed air and extraction systems in place. The facility has also been designed to allow for a 50 per cent extension to be easily added at a later date.

Ellen Hardy