Freeport East attracts £45m boost for East of England’s sustainable building sector

Freeport East attracts £45m boost for East of England's sustainable building sector

£45m investment and jobs boost for sustainability industry in East of England

Assan Panel, a major affiliate of Kibar Holding, a renowned name in Turkey’s industrial sector, has confirmed its plans to locate its first UK manufacturing facility at Gateway 14, part of Freeport East.

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 £45m.

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, İhsan 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 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 Kayabaşı, CEO of Kibar Holding, made a statement regarding the new facility investment: “Kibar Holding, one of the leading groups of the Turkish industry, under which Assan Panel operates, is taking firm steps forward on its globalization 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 realized 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, 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.”

The Minister for Levelling Up, Jacob Young, said: “This significant commitment by Assan Panel, made possible by the government’s Freeports programme, not only brings high-skilled jobs and investment to the east of England but also strengthens the UK’s important trading relationship with Turkey.”

Councillor Richard Smith MVO, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Skills, Transport Strategy and Waste, said: “It is excellent news that Assan Panel will manufacture its panels here in Suffolk. This is a substantial investment which will create many new local jobs and be a significant boost for Suffolk’s manufacturing sector, and I would like to commend the joint inward investment and Freeport East teams for their important role in securing it.” 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.

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