Avon Rubber made 'record profits'

Cows on farm The returned profits of more than £11m by producing gas masks and dairy milking equipment

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One of Wiltshire's oldest companies has reported "record profits" during 2011.

Engineering firm Avon Rubber, based in Melksham, started trading more than 120 years ago.

Last year it returned profits of more than £11m by producing gas masks and dairy milking equipment for the global market.

Chief executive Peter Slabbert said reducing staff numbers at the Westbury factory four years ago had made the business sustainable.

"We lost about 70 people from this plant as we outsourced some of our production to Eastern Europe," he said.

"We were losing money at the time, we needed to find a way to make this business sustainable.

"I think with hindsight it's exactly what we've done and fortunately we're now reversing that trend and while we're not hiring people at the same rate as we lost people a few years ago, we are starting to move in the right direction."

He added that the "significant investment" in enlisting staff in Malaysia, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Russia and South America was "absolutely paying off".

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