Firm hopes being made in Thetford will keep it fit

An outdoor fitness firm is hoping a move to bring all its manufacturing to Norfolk will keep it fit.

By the end of this year all of the Great Outdoor Gym Company's products will be moved from China to Garmet Ltd's factory in Thetford.

The company – which was founded in January 2007 – decided to bring its manufacturing back to the UK two years ago.

In Thetford Garmet Ltd employs 35 people to make the equipment and by the end of the year the last of its equipment – including leg presses and shoulder presses to be used outside – will be made in the UK.

As well as plans to expands its UK market, the company is already exporting the equipment to eight countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

'Because we are looking to go global we are already expecting to expand the manufacturing many, many times more the size it is at the moment,' said co-founder and creative director Georgie Delaney.

The company currently employs 12 people in Cambridge and London as well as the 35 that Garmet Ltd employs to build the equipment in Thetford.

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Mrs Delaney said that she believed many more people would be employed as the British and export market grows.

She said the firm had decided to return its manufacturing operation to the UK to improve quality. 'We used to have to babysit the whole manufacturing process to ensure it was to our standard,' she said.

'We wanted to move over to the UK to improve the quality and to have greater confidence in things like the quality of the steel and the integrity of our cutting and the quality of our welders. The skills that we have got in this country are far superior to the skills in some places like China. We are benefiting from the great engineering tradition we have here.'

'It is definitely more expensive to manufacture in the UK, but what we do get is superior material. The labour is more expensive, but we have the assurance that it is not anyone who is under age who is making the equipment. It is locally sourced and we are also cutting down on transport costs.'

'There is certainly a demand for outdoor gym equipment and we have established that demand. The worry is that because of the cuts, parish and district councils will take the cheapest option in the tender process.'

She said that while foreign-made equipment may be cheaper, she questioned whether it would be the best quality.

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