A Stoke-on-Trent window manufacturer is moving part of its business after proposals were put forward to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to the town.
Listers is moving its Big Trade Counter – which is currently based next to its factory on the Fenton Industrial Estate – a few miles away.
It comes months after Stoke-on-Trent City Council submitted plans for a CAZ as part of efforts to reduce air pollution.
Listers says the proposals could cost the company up to £4m a year.
Now he is moving his trading post to another building outside the proposed CAZ, having agreed a 10-year deal for another building on the Etruria Trading Estate near Basford.
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Listers CEO Roy Frost – who saved the business from collapse in 2017 – said: “Since 2017 we have invested over £2million in equipment and created around 70 new jobs – and now we have a really successful business.
“Of course it hasn’t been without its challenges, including covid, and now we find our business is falling into the proposed clean air zone.”
CAZ would mean a daily charge put in place for certain pre-September 2015 diesel or pre-2006 petrol vehicles. It applies to buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans and minibuses – but not Particular Cars.
CAZ would be introduced before 2025 and would remain in place until nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels are within acceptable limits. The city council expects this to be no later than 2029.
Wayne Tracey, Listers Trading Desk Manager, said: “When we heard about the proposals, we decided to carry out a survey so that we can get an exact idea of how it will affect us.
“We found that of the 62 vehicles that came through our doors, 32 of them were older vehicles that would be charged under the new rules.
“It basically means that once the CAZ was in place, those 32 people would have had to pay to get here.
“We deliver to customers all over the country, but we also have a lot of traders who collect their goods from us and if they have to pay to come here, they will just go elsewhere.”
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Roy added: “As a company, we are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Our car fleet is now electric and, when viable, all of our commercial vehicles will also become electric. We are therefore not at all against the CAZ. But there’s a lot of uncertainty around this and we’ve already had customers, competitors and staff talk about it.
“Everyone is affected. We estimate we would lose around £4million in sales every year if we don’t move, so we had our hand forced.
“When this unit became available we decided to go for it, we didn’t want to wait and deliberate as there aren’t many commercial properties in town.”
From the end of March, Listers’ Big Trade Counter will be based in its new premises.
In addition to avoiding CAZ, the move will allow Listers to increase its factory space and pave the way for expansion.
Roy said: “It’s a bigger unit, it’s in a better location, it’s more accessible but most importantly it’s outside the clean air zone.
“It also gives us the opportunity to expand. We need more space in the factory, so once we move the trading desk to the new premises, we will be able to use the additional space for manufacturing. .”