Minister hears concerns over leaving the EU on visit to Lowestoft
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Lowestoft business success story has said that Britain leaving the European Union would 'send us back to the Stone Age' after a high-profile visit from Conservative foreign secretary Philip Hammond.
The cabinet minister visited refrigeration company Adande, based in Pinbush Road on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate, to hear about how the company has grown to be an innovator in the food service sector and relies on trade with Europe.
Although Mr Hammond said during his visit that: 'I have no doubt that businesses, by and large, want us to remain in the European Union' and that it would be 'very bad news for local business', his party has promised a referendum on the issue if still in power after the election.
That has led to claims from Labour that the Conservatives are putting the country's future at risk, saying that a vote to leave the EU could damage Britain's standing in the world.
Adande managing director Ian Wood said: 'It would send us back to the Stone Age. We will become a marginalised tiny country on the back of all these growing economies around the world.
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Adande currently employs 32 staff. In three years time, it is expecting that number to double.
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This is through a £2.1million grant and a loan of £380,000 as part of the £4.2million project to develop and produce a new type of energy-efficient refrigerated retail display cabinet to store and present perishable foods.
The project will create up to 97 jobs and safeguard 144 more.
Adande's units are produced and sold in the UK, India and the USA and throughout the whole of Europe.
According to its figures, the firm's current revenue ranges between £5million and £10million.
After being given a tour round the premises, Mr Hammond then spoke about the importance of maintaining small businesses.
He described the East of England as 'the most prosperous area of the country' and said: 'A business that is built over many years is usually a very solid, well-founded business, gradually making its way into export markets becoming bigger and bigger.
'That's what makes areas of the country prosperous and secure.
'Everybody talks about the very big household named companies and of course they are very important to us, but most of the jobs being created in our economy are being created in small businesses - that is where the future is.'
Peter Aldous, the Conservatives' parliamentary candidate for Waveney, added: 'I was very keen for Philip to come up here and see what I have seen over the last four years; how Adande has grown and is moving forward.
'They are up for the challenge and pursuing export markets around the world; this is the type of business that we need to be encouraging and helping to facilitate their growth.'
Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council added: 'It is great to have a company here in Lowestoft which has patented a unique opportunity in refrigeration which can be applied worldwide.
'To have that based in Lowestoft, where they are expanding and taking on new staff, really excites me.'
What impact do you think Britain leaving the EU would have on the Waveney area? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org