Shoe component company Texon International's Esjot Group unit is opening a new factory in Foshan, China, which will manufacture steel toecaps for safety shoes.

The factory openings comes as international manufacturers drive new legislation demanding stricter safety controls and implementation of new quality requirements within China, including personal protective equipment.

The factory - which will make high-quality steel toecaps - aims to meet the local requirement for the products, which looks likely to increase by more than 60 per cent in 2006 and by more than 75 per cent by 2007.

The new factory will open alongside Texon's existing manufacturing facilities in Foshan, which have been established for more than 14 years. 

The plant will also utilise the knowledge, resources, and equipment of Esjot's European facilities, introducing experienced European technicians to provide rigorous training in China and ensure that European standards are maintained.

In addition, European machinery is being shipped to the Chinese factory, enabling the site to produce toecaps from a much larger coil of steel. 

Esjot divisional managing director Jim Wainwright said:   "Our aim is to produce better quality, more cost-effective products that will rival the marketplace.          

"Improved delivery time to local shoe manufacturers will reduce their stock inventory by as much as 30 per cent, making Esjot Group a more attractive and competitive supplier."

Wainwright  added: "I am confident that in three years time we will be producing over 50 per cent of the world's steel toecap requirements."

Texon is owned by MatlinPatterson, a global investment firm that holds investments in more than 25 companies worldwide.