Workers at Staffordshire excavator manufacturer JCB are celebrating after the firm agreed to a pay out a record £5.5 million Christmas bonus in recognition of the most successful year in its 62-year history.
Global sales will reach a new record in 2007 by exceeding the £2 billion mark for the first time. Production is also set to hit a new peak with more than 70,000 machines being manufactured by the end of the year - a 27 per cent rise compared to the previous 2006 record of 55,000 units.
The bonus applies to all 5,500 employees at the company's 10 UK factories in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham. Each will take home an additional £1,000 in their Christmas Eve paypackets.
JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said: "We have always rewarded our people when the company has done well and this year is no exception.
"What's extraordinary about this year is that we have set new records for sales and production, which makes 2007 our best ever year."
However, while recognising the achievements of this year, he said there was still no room for complacency as there were likely to be major challenges in the year ahead.
"As we go into 2008 we need to be vigilant of the challenges ahead, particularly in North America, the world's biggest construction equipment market, where the deterioration in the market continues to impact on our business," he said.
John Hepden, aged 41, of Tean, Stafford-shire, who has worked at JCB for 15 years, said: "The bonus makes it a really special Christmas. There are not many companies nowadays that would make a gesture like this."
The previous biggest Christmas bonus the firm paid to its UK employees stood at £850 in 2006. The new figure was announced yesterday.