Its been in gestation for the best part of a year and a half but, finally, the UK now has a Taiwanese bike factory soon to be churning out machines for export to Europe and for internal consumption by Moore Large.
The idea for a Taiwanese factory in the UK was a throwaway line (in a bar) from Jon Edwards to Arthur Hsu, chairman of A&J Enterprises of Taiwan.
Id only do it if I had a British person I could trust running it on the ground, said Hsu.
And thats how Edwards left the company he was with man and boy for 23 years.
The 40 000 sq ft facility on Mochre Industrial Estate in Newtown, Powys, is in the same building British Eagle vacated in 1996. This is pure coincidence, says Edwards. The building has been vacant since British Eagle moved.
The A&J factory has had two Taiwanese production lines fitted by Taiwanese engineers and will be assembling frames and parts until a new TIG-welding and paint shop is built on an adjoining plot when the Newtown factory will be one of the few bike builders in Britain. The extension will be up by October.
A much fuller report on the A&J plant will appear in the June print issue of BicycleBusiness, issue along with a ton more pix.
Top - Jon Edwards inspecting the first Emmelle frames on the newly installed production line
Middle: New wheel building kit has been installed by Holland Mechanics and the workers are nearly fully trained on operating them.
Bottom: The new production line is still sparkling, having yet to be used in anger but one of the two lines will be humming with activity by the end of the week. 60 workers are employed on site now, this will leap to 125 when both lines are operational.