On 14 March Stephen Timms conducted the official opening of Buhler Sortex, the world class manufacturer of optical sorters for food processors, which recently moved to a purpose built plant at Gallions Reach.

The company was founded, as Gunson’s Sortex, in 1947 when London was preparing for the 1948 Olympic Games. Now, as part of Switzerland’s Buhler Group, the infrastructure requirements of the 2012 London Olympics have led to its relocation from Pudding Mill Lane.

The hard work, creative thinking and commitment that made it possible were praised by Stephen Timms. He recalled his first visit to the Pudding Mill Lane factory in 1986 and how encouraging the achievements of Sortex, as a knowledge based manufacturer, were to an area where established traditional industries were in decline.

“Sortex has made an important contribution to the remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of East London,”…. “I take great pleasure and pride in declaring the factory open and wish everyone involved great success in the future.”

Newham councillor Alec Kellaway echoed the minister’s good wishes:

“The company is a real asset to the borough and has a good reputation for employing and retaining local staff and getting involved with the community.”
It was, said Managing Director Bruno Kilshaw, one of the most demanding projects he had ever undertaken.

“When the Olympic City selection process was under way I was convinced that Paris would be chosen. I watched the announcement of the IOC’s decision on TV with some colleagues and when London was named I was stunned. I knew that we had barely two years to relocate and was not convinced that it was possible.”

The new site also becomes home to the UK offices of the Buhler Group whose CEO Calvin Grieder is convinced that significantly greater efficiencies and cost savings will result from a single site operation.

He told guests, who included staff, customers, business partners, suppliers and Sortex retirees, that Bruno Kilshaw’s leadership of the project had been superb. In recognition of that achievement he presented him with a traditional Swiss commemorative gift, a cowbell!

AuthorStephen Timms