A north-east home-grown sawmill is moving to a double shift and creating new jobs as timber orders increase, despite the recession.

Northumberland-based family-run A&J Scott is moving to a double shift on the main mill at the end of February – a move which will see it take on an additional 10-12 workers to take staff levels to 125.

The company also created five positions in January and took 10 jobs back on that it cut in October.

Finance director Rosemary Bertram said the pound’s fall in value had helped make the home-grown product more competitive against imports, with several customers switching to home-grown as a result.

“There are quite a few sawmills which are getting busier,” she said. “We are really promoting the home-grown product.”

A&J Scott’s versatility in producing a wide range of products, including bespoke items, was helping the company thrive during the recession, she added.

Ms Bertram predicted the level of orders would remain busy until the end of June, but said it was difficult to forecast further at this stage.

She expects sales to increase in the current financial year but with smaller profit margins.

Manufacturing efficiency improvements, through the help of regional development agency One North East, are also to potentially save the company more than £100,000.

Engineers from One North East’s MAS-NEPA manufacturing task force have already helped to reduce set-up time on one saw from more than 700 seconds to 140 seconds, potentially saving the company more than £39,000 annually. Now the process is being rolled out to other machines.

“The advice and guidance we have received on eradicating waste from our manufacturing process from MAS-NEPA engineers on site has helped us meet the rise in orders and keep up with the increasing workload,” said Ms Bertram.