AN ever-expanding East Lancashire metal fabrication firm is set to expand with a new 120,000sq ft plant.

The WEC Group, based in Darwen, has taken over a six-acre site at the Walker Business Park off Blackamoor Road to continue its growth.

The firm, based in Junction Street in the town, wants to expand in a number of sectors, most notably in the aerospace industry.

WEC carries out fabrication work for industries ranging from rail to offshore oil and gas extraction.

Its manufacturing ranges from footbridges and bus frames, to log-fired stoves and street furniture across 12 divisions and with operations in Darwen as well as Blackburn, Knowsley on Merseyside and Leeds.

The new investment comes on the back of an ambitious expansion plan that has already seen the group open two factories in Blackburn last year, creating 50 new jobs.

Group bosses also want to utilise available capacity at its West Yorkshire plant, which manufactures bus structures, with new orders.

Looking further ahead, its rail division is hopeful of securing work as a result of the proposed HS2 high speed rail link infrastructure programme.

The firm has also recently launched a Middle East Division looking at the Gulf States after sealing a £1million order for its CCTV structures business.

Ten per cent of WEC’s workforce is made up of apprentices as the firm boasts the only in-house welding and fabrication training academy in the country.

Wayne Wild, group commercial director, said the expansion was a ‘real statement of intent’. He said: “The land we have bought gives us much-needed space to grow as our other sites are near capacity in size and in operation.

“We continue to invest in machinery and in our workforce as we look to continue our growth.

“We see aerospace as a sector where we can make great strides and we are actively working to ensure that happens.”

The WEC Group was founded in 1979 by business partners Steve Hartley and Ross Place.

MD Mr Hartley said: “We have invested in the region of £5million over the past three years.

“We have also continued to diversify and to develop businesses across the whole spectrum of the engineering sector.”