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Subsea Firm Flexlife Arrives in NE with Promise of Jobs

21 July 2011

Scotland’s fastest-growing company has established a base in the North East and unveiled plans to create 50 skilled jobs in the next 18 months

Subsea consultancy specialist Flexlife is opening a base on Gateshead Quayside to take advantage of the engineering talent in the region.

The Aberdeen-headquartered company also has offices in Brazil and operates in Africa, the Far East and Mediterranean.

The business will use the Quayside base to attract new recruits into the industry and also attempt to retain in the region specialists who currently travel to Aberdeen and other energy hubs on a weekly basis.

Chief operating officer John Marsden said: "We service the oil and gas industry with project management, putting the bits of kit on the seabed, and integrity management – ensuring the bits of equipment don’t fail.

"The new office’s function is to do the concept engineering phases of developing a project, looking at the major risks and making sure we can develop it to their specifications.

"We have a team ready and want 20 people by the end of the year.”

The business has taken one floor at the Robertson Baltic Place development on Gateshead Quayside near the Millennium Bridge and aims to fill it to its capacity of 75 staff within two years.

Marsden, who lived in the North East as a child and went to school in Durham before attending Newcastle University, said: "Trying to recruit in Aberdeen is difficult because the oil and gas industry is pretty buoyant up here.

"There is an abundance of good engineers in Newcastle. It’s not a cost base necessity. The primary driver is getting the right people.

"It’s a premium industry. There’s quite a lot already employed in the subsea sector in the North East – the number of engineers in Newcastle is excellent and the skills are amazing.

"Even if someone has not worked directly in the subsea sector – if they worked for, say, Parsons or Rolls Royce – they have the prerequisite skills to do what we do.”

The company has recruited chartered engineer Andy Lake, formerly of Newcastle-based subsea firms SMD and Wellstream, as the new office’s director of operations.

He said: "Flexlife is experiencing a period of significant growth and the new office will expand our capability to offer specialised support to our clients.

"The choice of Newcastle for this latest expansion recognises the skills in the region and will be a new addition to the growing subsea sector in the North East of England.”

Flexlife was last year named as the fastest-growing company in Scotland and Marsden said there was no reason to believe the firm would not retain that title this year.

Set up in 2007, the business currently has 75 staff and aims to have a total workforce of 141 by March next year.

Marsden said Flexlife had not seen any effects of the recession and is continuing to expand.

Its turnover grew by more than 50% for 2010/11 from £4.8m to £7.5m and it forecasts sales of £17.8m in the current financial year.