A BICESTER lighting firm is bucking the manufacturing trend by moving its production back from China.
Zeta Lighting is in the process of getting its Telford Road headquarters ready to open a production line at the site.
The move will create almost 30 jobs and boost the local economy by about £15m over the next three years.
It also places the firm as the only company in Europe which can manufacture LED lighting from start to finish.
Managing director Phil Shadbolt says the move is a “game changer” for the firm.
Last summer it won a £5m Government grant, part of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI), to help pay for the three-year project.
Cash has been invested in plant and machinery, test equipment and new staff.
First off the production line this April will be the firm’s new innovative ‘lifebulb’.
Mr Shadbolt, who set up the firm in Bicester in 1989, said: “This is a game changer for Zeta and for LED lighting in the UK.
“Receiving this significant award from the Government is like having a VC (venture capital) funder on board.
“It allows significant investment in technology, plant and equipment and skills that will allow Zeta to change from a very small local supplier of specialist lighting to become a serious international supplier that can compete on a global scale.
“For so long manufacturing has been dominated by the Chinese – we now have the opportunity to repatriate this to the UK and provide better and lower cost products from Great Britain.
“China is renowned for low cost, but the quality issues are worsening.
“Another issue with China is shipping delays and costs associated with shipping.
“On all new products, we now do a comparison of manufacturing costs in China and in the UK and recently the costs are almost on a par.”
He said the firm was currently developing a lighting system that will automatically adapt to what is needed in a particular room at different times of the day, and was working on low-energy lighting for the North West Bicester 6,000-home eco town.
A spokesman for Bicester and District Chamber of Commerce said: “That Zeta, one of our technology-focused local businesses, is expanding its capacity is excellent news for the town.
“This demonstrates that Bicester is a great place to be in and do business and that those already here have confidence in the town’s future.”
Susanne Austin, co-founder of the Oxfordshire Green Construction Network, said moving manufacturing to Bicester would save money in terms of time and travel, as well as reducing the firm’s carbon footprint.
She said: “Bringing this production home also allows for UK quality and safety standards to be achieved and for Zeta to place the Union Jack proudly upon their products.
“In short, it’s good for Zeta, good for Bicester and good for the planet.”