A £10 MILLION expansion is underway at British Gypsum as the firm celebrates its centenary.

The Sherburn in Elmet-based business, which processes and manufactures gypsum plaster products, such as plasterboard, is taking on an additional 20 members of staff to boost its 130 strong workforce as it upgrades its existing operations.

The, which is part of parent company Saint-Gobain’s global empire covering 67 countries with 170,000 employees, received planning permission from Selby District Council to extend an existing mill building at its plant to house new equipment.

The plant was unable to grind natural gypsum rock on-site and operated solely on the use of synthetic desulphurised gypsum (DSG) supplied as a by-product from the nearby Drax Power Station.

British Gypsum is now building the plant’s capability to enable natural rock processing which will increase operational flexibility and safeguard the future of the plant.

Darren Hodsman, general manager of British Gypsum at Sherburn-in-Elmet, said: “There is certainly more positivity in the market now, highlighted by the fact that we are now currently recruiting 20 new employees, as the recovery and expansion of the building industry has led to ever increasing demand.

“Eighty per cent of our workforce live in the Selby district, so we are proud of the contribution we make towards the Selby economy.

“It is important to stress that we don’t just supply the residential housebuilding market; we also work with the DIY sector, supplying major chains like B&Q and Wickes; and we work on commercial developments, such as schools and hospitals.

“The scope of our work means that our new building was absolutely essential to our future and I would like to thank Selby District Council for being supportive and pro-active in determining our planning application.

“Their help and their understanding of the nature of our business, has been invaluable and an object lesson in how local authorities and local businesses can work together.”

British Gypsum, which was bought by Saint-Gobain in 2006, recently donated free plasterboard and finishing plaster to the old Sherburn Girls High School building, which had fallen into disrepair, and is set to be renovated to become a café with room to rent out to local businesses.