ONE OF the south’s leading engineering firms has opened an extension to its factory.

The extra 6,600 sq ft of space will enable the New Milton-based RHH Franks to increase its manufacturing capacity for the global aerospace, defence, nuclear and marine industries by more than 25%.

It follows a successful application to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

RHH Franks, part of the local business scene for 60 years, was awarded more than £97,000 towards the cost of enlarging its premises on Gore Road Industrial Estate.

The family-run firm has bought new technology worth more than £150,000 and is also looking to take on a further ten skilled personnel.

Managing director Elsa Hogan said: “As part of our intense growth strategy which we have launched to mark our 60th year, we are thrilled to unveil our newly expanded premises.

“They will significantly increase our manufacturing output to meet the growing demands of our clients and their supply chains.

“Our team and contractors have worked extremely hard to create a modern and fully-equipped facility that provides our skilled engineers with a positive and productive working environment, improving capacity and lead times.

“When circumstances allow, we are looking forward to welcoming clients to our new facility.”

Founded in 1961 by Ronald Henry Herman Franks and Basil James, the firm’s first task was to manufacture parts for the BAC111 short haul jet airlines being constructed at Bournemouth Airport.

Since then it has grown from a modest sheet metal workshop to a sizeable end-to-end sub-contract manufacturer providing a range of services.

Clients include Leonardo Helicopters, Eaton Aerospace, Cobham Mission Systems, SEA Ltd and QinetiQ.

RHH Franks employs more than 40 skilled engineers from Hampshire and Dorset and is committed to inspiring the next generation of young engineers through its apprenticeship and work experience offering.

Brian Johnson, chairman of the Solent LEP, said: “I am delighted to see how the LEP’s Local Growth Fund has been put to such good use in the region.

“The Solent has a strong manufacturing base relative to the rest of the country that accounts for 11% of Gross Value Added.

“RHH Franks is one of many high performing businesses who are providing much-needed innovation and jobs."