An oil and gas firm is to create new jobs following a £7.5 million investment.

Howco Group will take on 67 employees at its Ayrshire engineering division, supported by the money from Japanese parent company Sumitomo.

The firm is also receiving a £750,000 grant from Scottish Government agency Scottish Enterprise.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the investment after hosting a meeting of his ministerial cabinet in the area.

"The record investment being made in the oil and gas sector, of which Howco is part, points to a bright and healthy future for the industry for decades to come," he said.

Mr Salmond announced a further £1.7 million package of funds to support jobs and regeneration in Irvine and its surrounding area.

Local projects to get a share of the cash include Irvine Bay Gymnastics Club, which started with just 12 members but now has more than 600.

"There is a wonderful commitment from many locals to help regenerate the town centre and further afield, with a lot of great work under way and planned for the future," Mr Salmond said.

"These small steps will build momentum and this funding will help the community continue to work together to regenerate the area, create jobs and opportunities."