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Northern Society of Chartered Accountants

At the heart of northern business since 1882

Tyne and Wear Society visits Nissan Sunderland 24 May 2015

Northern Society of Chartered Accountants visit Nissan ManufactuNissan Manufacturing has been a success story for the North East of England and it was a unique privilege for the ICAEW Tyne and Wear Society to be granted the opportunity to arrange a tour of the Nissan Manufacturing Sunderland plant on 21 May.

Land of the Rising Sun in Sunderland

Currently Nissan Sunderland is the largest manufacturer of cars in the UK, producing over 500,000 in 2014. The plant supports a staggering 39,000 direct and indirect UK jobs, and the finance team at Nissan Manufacturing includes thirteen ICAEW Chartered Accountants.  The plant has increased its initial output of 12½ cars per hour 30 years ago to its current day output of almost five times that.

Nissan opens - Northern Society of Chartered AccountantsOpened in 1986 by the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on the old Sunderland Airfield site, the plant started its manufacturing life with the Bluebird model on one line.

Today, across two lines, the plant manufactures the Qashqai, electric Leaf, Note and Juke models.

Nissan manufacturing plants across the world compete for work and it was excellent news that Sunderland was successful in its bid to build the new premium Infiniti Q30, currently in production for launch later in 2015.

Chris Soan, Chairman of the Tyne and Wear Society said ‘During my two years as Chairman, I was keen on using our profession’s networks to arrange visits that got behind local businesses.   Last week’s Nissan tour of the Qashqai manufacturing line was a superb experience and last year we toured The Port of Tyne, which helps export some of the 80% of the Nissan Sunderland output to the end users around the world; a perfect example of company symbiosis.’

using our profession’s networks to arrange visits that got behind local businesses

The Sunderland site provides an excellent example of vertical integration.  For example, the Leaf model is powered by a battery manufactured in a bespoke facility on-site but throughout the plant, there is further evidence, with the Press Shop, Body Shop, Body Paint Shop, Plastics Shop, Castings Shop, finally leading to the Trim and Chassis plant where our tour enjoyed seeing car bodies move through the assembly line on suspended cradles, on a ‘just in time’ basis.

The evolution of the plant over the 30 years has been helped by the Kaizen ethos of ‘continuous improvement’ which actively encourages its workforce to seek out areas in which improvements can be made.  There is also a policy whereby each worker should be competent in at least three different jobs to provide variety and to ensure seamless cover in case of absence.

fascinating business insight

It is actually challenging to explain how interesting the tour was without using every hyperbole available, but it is highly possible that if Roald Dahl was on this plant tour, a few follow-up books of his would be being penned.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Nissan Manufacturing UK for this fascinating business insight afforded to members of Northern Society of Chartered Accountants and with best wishes for a continued bright future.

About Nissan

You can find out more about Nissan on their website nissan.co.uk and read about the history of Nissan in the UK on the History of Nissan in the UK page.

About Nissan Manufacturing UK (NMUK) in Sunderland

The NMUK plant was opened in 1986 and became the sole supplier of the Nissan Bluebird to the UK market.  Ongoing development has brought the plant to today’s impressive employment figure of circa 6,700 direct staff and production of over 7 million vehicles.  The plant currently produces the Juke, Note and Qashqai models as well as being the European manufacturing location for the Electric Vehicle, the Nissan Leaf.

Nissan has also been head of The Journal’s Top 200 North East companies 2014 for the fourth year running.


With 250,000 new Qashqai’s sold since its launch in 2014 and 2.5million total owners throughout the world, it’s been a great year for Nissan’s latest generation of its pioneering crossover. Check out its best bits in the video here:

About Tyne and Wear Society of Chartered Accountants

The Tyne and Wear Society of Chartered Accountants is a branch of the Northern Society of Chartered Accountants (NorSCA) which represents 4,000 ICAEW Chartered Accountants and ACA students working in business and the finance profession across the North East of England, Teesside, Northern Yorkshire and Cumbria. We have been assisting businesses in the north of England and producing chartered accountants for over 130 years.

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