New era underway as Norwich firm is renamed Briar Chemicals

The boss of a Norwich-based chemical company said the business must learn to stand on its own two feet following a change of ownership and the launch of a new name to mark the start of a new era.

Briar Chemicals in Sweetbriar Road is the new name for Bayer CropScience after its German parent company sold the business to the Munich-based Aurelius Group.

The sale, announced earlier this year, follows plans to invest nearly �10m in new facilities and the new owners insisted it would help safeguard the jobs of more than 250 staff and 50 contract workers with plans to allow the firm, which specialises in the production of agricultural products such as weed killers, to bid for new work.

Tim Green, site manager, said: 'This is a Norwich company now, it's one and only base is in Norwich and it feels quite different. It's very exciting, we are a bit apprehensive, but it's down to us to make it work. All the staff have transferred. We are looking now to bring in business from Bayer's competitors.

'We are exceptionally busy at the moment and it is good that the future of the site has been secured as a going concern. As far as we are concerned, it's business as usual and we look forward to the challenges ahead. '

The company said the business will focus on extending its product portfolio and expanding contract production for third-party customers. Investment in a wastewater treatment plant and a multi-production facility will assure its long-term viability. The group anticipates that the expanded sales capability of its other specialty chemical subsidiaries, ISOCHEM and CalaChem, will enable it to grow faster than the market in the specialty chemical industry.

Dirk Markus, chief executive of Aurelius, said: 'The site in Norwich is in outstanding technical condition and a leader in its field. We are delighted that with Bayer CropScience another well-known company has decided to sell part of its manu-facturing activities to Aurelius.'

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Mr Green added that the new name, a variant of its Norwich address, followed a staff competition which saw the firm pick the idea proposed by Nicola Theobald, a member of its quality control team.

The 28-year-old UEA chemistry graduate, from Dereham, said: 'I didn't want to go with anything too corporate because the Norwich site has been here for a long time and has got a long history. I wanted something which would continue that.'