Kronospan, the Chirk-based wood panel manufacturer, welcomed Alun Cairns, the secretary of state for Wales, last week to discuss its investment and renewal plans for the factory.

Mr Cairns said: “Since manufacturing began at its Chirk site 45 years ago, Kronospan has played a crucial role in helping to demonstrate why Wales continues to be a prime location to invest and do business.

“The company’s long-standing presence on the north Wales border and the confidence it has instilled in its workforce and supply chain has led to the creation of sustainable, local jobs and stronger communities.

“Manufacturing, innovation and exports are key drivers for economic growth in Wales and across the UK, and I was hugely impressed by Kronospan’s plans for growth and expansion.

”The UK government’s comprehensive industrial strategy will help ensure we have the right infrastructure, skills and support in place for world-leading industries like this as well as support for new emerging sectors to flourish.”

Kronospan has been developing its 2020 Vision for the site and is planning to invest £200 million over the next three years updating and renewing its existing facilities. The investment programme is already under way and the site is being modernised to secure its future.

Company chairman Mike McKenna said: “We were delighted to show the improvements we have been making to the secretary of state for Wales and discuss our vision for the future.

“We aim to make our Chirk site one of the best factories of its type in the world and we are investing in the best available technologies to secure jobs, reduce our environmental impact, working closely with all our stakeholders in the process.”

As part of its investment plan, Kronospan wants to start producing OSB, replacing imports, which is needed to build new homes. It is hoped that would create 100 jobs at the Chirk site.

Planning permission has already been granted for a building to house new wood chip preparation equipment, and the company is now seeking planning approval to upgrade its board storage capability, and replace its chipper and hacker equipment.

The company says these improvements are vital to the future of the business – and says they will signal environmental improvements at the site.