He toured several facilities at the site, including a £6.4-million (€7.1 million) testing laboratory for International Paint's Fire Protection business that was opened in June. AkzoNobel has invested €10 million in its R&D operations at Felling in 2011, adding around 40 highly paying research jobs and taking total employment at the site to over 950.
"We are proud to have made such a significant financial commitment to the North East of England," said Ian Walton, Director - Europe Region for International Paint, who hosted the visit. "The latest investments have made Felling the largest R&D centre for AkzoNobel worldwide."
In addition to the new Fire Protection laboratory, AkzoNobel recently completed a new €2-million laboratory for Powder Coatings polymer research and a €1.4-million corporate research laboratory.
"I am delighted to re-visit the AkzoNobel Felling plant and to see local industry powering ahead in technology in coatings," said Mearns. "I am very proud that the plant is in my constituency."
International Paint is the world’s biggest producer of protective coatings and fire protection for major structures—its products are used on a number of iconic landmarks, including the Sage Gateshead, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the London Eye. It is also the world leader in coatings used in ship and yacht building, maintenance, and repair—International's coatings feature on many famous vessels including the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner.
The company is part of AkzoNobel, the world's largest paints and coatings producer and owner of the famous Dulux brand.