Luxury car-maker Aston Martin (AML.L) has officially opened its new factory in St Athan, in south Wales on Friday.
The site on a 90-acre former Ministry of Defence base includes three converted “super hangars” for the manufacturing of Aston Martin DBX – the brand’s first sports utility vehicle (SUV) in its 106-year history.
The factory is expected to employ about 600 people when full production begins in the second quarter of 2020, rising to 750 when peak production is reached.
The company hopes that sales of its new £158,000 SUV, the DBX, will give it a much-needed boost.
Aston Martin floated on the London Stock Exchange in October last year, and in that time its shares have lost nearly two-thirds of their value.
Last month the firm recorded a £92.3m pre-tax loss for the past three quarters, after cutting its 2019 sales forecast in July, down from about 7,300 units to maximum 6,500 after it said it had too many unsold cars in dealerships.
The company raised £121m ($150m) in a bond sale last September in order to manufacture the new DBX, counting on the booming global SUV market to lift its flagging sales.
Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive Andy Palmer said at the time: “Taking this debt on – short-term – is we think the correct tool to completely remove that thesis that we don’t have sufficient liquidity.
“In every substantial and material way, this ensures that we can get through to DBX in spite of what all of those global uncertainties might throw at us.”
Speaking about the new factory today he described the opening as a “pivotal day” for the company and a vote of confidence in the UK.
It is “integral to our ambitions as a global luxury brand with a presence in all major sectors of the market”, he added.
The opening of the site comes a day after Aston Martin shares leapt more than 17% after Autocar magazine reported that billionaire Lawrence Stroll is considering bidding for a stake in the company.
The choice of location is good news for Wales, with Palmer adding: “Our core business of producing beautiful, hand-crafted cars in England is now extended to Wales, which is extremely pertinent to us as a Great British company.”
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said: “Locating this world-class and globally recognised brand in St Athan is a huge vote of confidence in the Welsh workforce. It is an example of the Welsh government’s support and can-do attitude driving economic growth and creating jobs.
“I look forward to the first made-in-Wales Aston Martins rolling off the production line next year.”