A LONG-ESTABLISHED engineering firm has shrugged off the effects of the recession and is undergoing major expansion.

EP Barrus has spent £2.6m building an expansion to its existing site in Bicester as well as taking on two large distribution buildings in Upper Heyford.

It has boosted its workforce from 125 to 148 as it continues to grow.

Managing director Robert Muir said: “We have built an 8,000sq ft building after moving out of the Bicester garrison site.

“We have a fantastic workforce and we are growing again which is very exciting.”

EP Barrus, which supplies and re-engineers a wide range of machinery from garden equipment to motorcycles, was hit hard during the recession with the workforce cut from 196 to 127.

Mr Muir added: “We are now a more capable, more structured operation.”

The company has a commitment to recruiting locally and has relationships with schools and colleges as well as Oxford Brookes University.

“We are blessed with some very good schools and universities and we are taking students on gap years to gain work experience with us,” said Mr Muir.

The new Bicester operation in Glen Way also has enhanced training facilities which attract customers from across the UK.

EP Barrus was founded in 1917 in London, moved to Bicester in 1977 and has become one of the town’s major employers.

Mr Muir said the company would continue to grow consistently in the near future, although one sticking point was the price of buildings and land in the county compared to some of its international competitors.

“Our intention is to expand and we want to expand in Oxfordshire.

“Pension funds seem to be pushing up rents and there are few affordable large buildings. What we need is affordable land to develop.

“We want to employ more people but we need more space.”