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Cobble Blackburn opens carpet machinery plant in China
Jul '08
As ITMA Asia + CITME 2008 opens its doors, world-leading carpet machinery manufacturer Cobble Blackburn announces the start-up of a new factory making tufting and Axminster weaving equipment, at Suzhou, 75 kilometres from Shanghai.

With the new plant, Cobble becomes the first major tufting machine supplier to manufacture equipment in China. It will initially produce components and eventually machines for both China and international markets.

At the same time, Cobble reveals significant investment in diversification, with the establishment of a subsidiary company in the UK which designs and engineers high-tech and robotic machinery for the automotive, aerospace, nuclear and iron and steel industries. The new firm, AMTRI Cobble, based in Macclesfield, was set up after Cobble purchased and revived the former AMTRI company. Manufacturing of its designed products will take place at Cobble's main UK plant in Blackburn, – securing the future for this location and its employees.

Blackburn will also continue to manufacture Cobble's high-end tufting machines -- scroll, level cut loop and complex servo-based types for international markets – while the Suzhou plant will ultimately focus on standard ranges, as well as the Crabtree brand Axminster weaving machines.

Cobble president Geoff Hemingway says: “The Suzhou factory demonstrates our commitment to the future of carpet machinery manufacturing on a global scale. The shifting of some products to a lower-cost manufacturing base will help to optimise profitability at the Blackburn site, where we have been adjusting for some years to the overall shrinkage of the traditional tufting machine business. At the same time, the skills and facilities available at Blackburn can readily be adapted to other non-textile sectors.

“We are excited at the potential offered by the new Chinese plant, and we confidently expect to outgrow it within five years or less.”

Cobble's USA plant, at Dalton, Georgia, will continue to manufacture its own range of machines, including LCL & scroll types and the Colortec multi-colour patterned tufting technology, but may also receive components from the new Chinese factory.

The Suzhou operation is a wholly-owned Cobble subsidiary, with the title Cobble Machinery (Suzhou) Ltd. It is housed in a brand new, purpose-built factory, with 2,200 square metres of production space and 800 square metres of space for offices, labs and engineering. It will ultimately employ up to 70 people.

Cobble already has a sales, service and support facility in China, provided by the Cobble-CTS representative office set up in 2000 in Shanghai. However the company's track record in selling to Chinese customers extends back more than 30 years, and the installed base over that period has included some 400 tufting machines, as well as 250 Crabtree Axminster machines, making it the leading supplier of top-technology carpet manufacturing equipment there.

• ITMA ASIA + CITME 2008: Cobble Blackburn Ltd. is exhibiting in Hall: E6, Stand: D27.

Cobble Blackburn Ltd

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