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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Carlisle steel firm Thomas Graham planning move to Kingmoor Park site

Thomas Graham, the steel stockholder and industrial supplies company, is leaving the centre of Carlisle for a bigger site at Kingmoor Park.

Thomas Graham photo
Ross Nicolson, Kingmoor Park property manager, managing director Roger Smith and chairman Ian Smith inside the former Baxters warehouse

The multi-million pound project will allow room for expansion, potentially creating more employment.

The firm has acquired the 38,000sq ft warehouse premises of Baxters International Removals, which has operated at Kingmoor Park since 2003 but pulled out last month.

Thomas Graham has also bought three acres of land from Baxters plus another five acres of undeveloped land.

It has submitted a planning application to Carlisle City Council for a 75,000sq ft warehouse building – about the size of a large supermarket.

When the development is complete in approximately 12 months, Thomas Graham plans to move operations from its current headquarters at The Maltings, Shaddongate, and from a warehouse at Dalston.

All its steel warehouses, trade counter and offices will be consolidated at Kingmoor Park where the extra warehouse space will increase storage capacity by 50 per cent. Managing director Roger Smith said: “We have reached a point where we are bursting at the seams and need to create quality space to enable our continued development.

“We had to make a decision – do we stay as we are or move and invest for the next 25 years.

“There has never been a better time to buy land or borrow money and while business is competitive, it isn’t impossible.”

Mr Smith added: “We take great pride in being a Carlisle company and wanted to secure our future in the city.

“Kingmoor Park was able to meet all our needs including a fantastic location so close to the M6.

“We can streamline our operations and maximise the resulting efficiencies whilst our customers will benefit from easier access and better distribution. There will also be an opportunity for job creation.”

The firm already employs 150 people, half in Carlisle.

It also has sites at Egremont, Kendal and Morecambe, which will stay open. It supplies customers across Cumbria, north and central Lancashire, and into Northumberland and south west Scotland. Once the move is complete, Thomas Graham plans to sell its Shaddongate premises and the warehouse in Dalston.

Mr Smith said: “We are not looking to dispose of it all immediately. The deal isn’t dependent on us selling the [Shaddongate] site first.”

Tony Goddard, chief executive of Kingmoor Park, believes that the opening of the city’s western bypass, the Carlisle Northern Development Route, has been the catalyst for investment such as Thomas Graham’s.

The link between the A595 and M6 junction 44 passes through Kingmoor Park.

Mr Goddard said: “The road has given the site added importance as a serious business location and is giving Carlisle companies the confidence to embark on ambitious expansion plans.

“This activity marks a turning point in 2013 as it indicates that Kingmoor Park and Carlisle are very definitely open for business.”

Thomas Graham is one of Carlisle’s oldest and best-known companies, beginning life in 1892 as an ironmonger. Mr Smith is the great, great, grandson of the original Thomas Graham.

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