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February-March 2018



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Chamber president John McCabe Twitter: @John_fusionPR

We have made a determined start to help all companies grow their businesses in 2018 with the launch of our Stronger North East campaign. I urge you to support this work to make our region more influential, global, connected and competitive. In the last year we have achieved real change through our campaigning. We secured additional support for exporters to break into new markets and we were part of the drive for devolution north of the Tyne. There is now a pledge for substantial investment in the refurbished Metro fleet which will have a transformative impact on many businesses and their employees. Our latest Quarterly Economic Survey also shows that in the last three months of 2017 almost two thirds of employers who responded aimed to recruit full-time staff. This figure is the highest since 2015 and shows the level of ambition and determination to succeed. We know we have challenges with Brexit, but trading overseas is a hugely beneficial marketplace so I was delighted to learn that our exporters shipped more than £1.3bn of goods and services last year. In addition to major companies like Nissan in that figure, smaller businesses are making their presence felt outside the UK, some of them for the first time. The Chamber is planning a major Brexit information event in March to highlight what needs to be done to prepare for leaving the EU. Details will be posted on the Chamber website in the coming weeks. Finally I wish you the very best for 2018 and thank you for your support of your Chamber in 2017.

John McCabe, Chamber president EDITOR Jane Pikett EDITORIAL TEAM Dean Bailey Jane Hall Paul Robertson Contact is the magazine for North East England Chamber members. News and press releases should be sent to ADVERTISING Colin Rutherford 01661 844 115 PHOTOGRAPHY Kevin Gibson Nicky Gibson Dave Charnley Gilbert Johnston Peter Skelton

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Power up your business.

If you’re ready to grow, get in touch. We’d love to help. Call 0300 303 6322 Visit Connect @neechamber

“Of course there are challenges, notably Brexit, but whatever that throws at us, we will overcome it with ingenuity and creative thinking.” Geoff Ford, Ford Aerospace

32 60 Seconds: Allison Antonopoulos

Profile: Carol Bell

Flying high: Geoff Ford of Ford Aerospace


06 60 seconds

36 Profile

Wynyard Hall's Allison Antonopoulos

The Great Exhibition of the North's Carol Bell

10 In my view

40 Success

With James Ramsbotham

Global reach with Andrew Tomlinson

13 Inbox

42 Special focus

News and views from the world of business

Apprenticeships and training

14-23 News

54 Motoring

News from the Chamber and its members, including Partners and Presidents Club updates, a GDPR Summit and the BCC Awards in London

The future is... driverless

58 People Movers and shakers across the region

28 Policy

60 Events

Plans for a stronger North East

Were you there?

32 Profile

64 Last word

Ford Aerospace's Geoff Ford

Bank of England agent Mauricio Armellini contact   5

One for the Hall Wynyard Hall MD Allison Antonopoulos describes following in the footsteps of her father, Sir John Hall, her pride in her native North East, and what the future holds Jane Hall meets the daughter of one of the region's most prominent entrepreneurs and learns about her plans for one of Teesside's most important buildings Famous parents are a notoriously hard act to follow. Offspring who are tempted to tread in a legendary parent’s footsteps may discover to their cost that the magic formula isn’t always passed down as a right of birth. Allison Antonopoulos is an exception to that rule. The daughter of Sir John Hall, she has proved she is more than up to the task of keeping alight her father’s legendary entrepreneurial spark. As MD of Teesside hotel Wynyard Hall, she has been instrumental in the last decade in developing the former family seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, otherwise known as the marquesses of Londonderry, into a luxury four-star hotel and wedding venue. Since Sir John bought the estate in 1987, millions has been spent on the restoration and development of the Palladian mansion, grounds and walled garden. Antonopoulos credits her father with her drive – a trait she has passed on to her daughter, Sarah; the latest generation to join the family business. And like her father, Antonopoulos is passionate about ensuring this fine country estate is preserved for future generations. Q Tell us about your life before Wynyard Hall. I’ve always been involved in the family business, initially in corporate hospitality at the Metrocentre and then with Newcastle United as non-executive director. Q I’m about to meet you for the first time – what sort of person can I expect to encounter? Friendly, fun, usually accompanied by my pugs Hugo and George. Definitely not formal!



Q Did you always plan to join the family business? No, it was a natural progression. As a family we recognise the importance of safeguarding Wynyard Hall for future generations. It was in a state of disrepair when my father bought it and we spent millions restoring it. While it is our family home, we see ourselves as custodians of an historic asset, and the only way to safeguard its future was to find a commercial purpose. My insight into corporate hospitality at the Metrocentre and Newcastle United inspired me to open Wynyard Hall to the public, initially for weddings, at the beginning of a long-term commercial strategy. Q Have you inherited Sir John’s ambition, drive and leadership style? I’ve definitely inherited his drive, creativity, long-term vision and ambition. Our leadership styles are probably quite different! Q What have you learnt from him? Stay ahead of the game. Reinvent yourself. Q Is it hard for children following in a parent’s footsteps? For me, no. I’ve never felt any pressure to measure myself against my father’s success and there have never been any expectations upon me. I’ve been able to make my own mark and my family have always been supportive of my ideas. Q Did you encourage your daughter Sarah to join the business? She studied business management and hospitality at university, so it was natural for her to get involved. We work well together – it’s a great partnership.

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One for the Hall Q Hospitality is a tough industry. What makes Wynyard Hall stand out? We care about the building and we spend a lot of time and money making sure we maintain its 18th Century splendour. We are also getting to grips with some of the 150 acres of historic parkland, restoring it to its former glory. There are so many stories to be told and artefacts of historic value to be seen here and we often hold tours, which people genuinely love; many local people have a childhood affiliation with the estate. The main thing that makes Wynyard stand apart is its people and its quality standards. In many respects this is still in its infancy as a business, but we have a fantastic team who are very much part of the family and together we learn and adapt very quickly. Q How successful are the North East’s businesses and politicians in working together? While I don’t get directly involved in politics, we host a multitude of events on behalf of various bodies, such as Tees Valley Business Club. From what I see, North East businesses and politicians seem to be working together proactively. Q What’s your career highpoint to date? Opening the gardens – it was the realisation of a long-term vision for my father and me. Q Boring workaday office or a view to die for? My office looks across the lake – definitely a view to die for.

Q What are the key ingredients in creating a successful business team? Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can understand and execute your vision, advise and challenge you. Q You have been instrumental in developing Wynyard Hall into a hotel and visitor attraction. What’s next? We have short- and long-term plans to develop the estate further. At present we are restoring and opening up some of the historic parkland. Q What does Wynyard Hall brings to the North East? In 2017 more than 100,000 people from all over the world visited the hall and gardens and it’s a wonderful place for local people to enjoy. We employ almost 250 people and we showcase produce from hundreds of local suppliers in our farm shop and at events throughout the year. 8


Q Who would you want to play you in a film of your life? My children tell me I’m like Jennifer Saunders, so probably her! Q And your dream dinner party guest? Kit Kemp, co-owner and design director for Firmdale Hotels. I share her passion for interior design and I’m a big fan of her work. Q Which word do you use too much? Fabulous! Apparently some of the staff count how many times I use it in one meeting. Q And finally…what will the Hall family legacy be at Wynyard Hall? We have achieved a lot, alongside the hall’s previous owners, to restore and protect it. Developing it as a commercial business will safeguard its future for generations. It is important that we have opened it to the public; as an historic stately home, it should not just be for the enjoyment of a privileged few.

Chamber Annual Dinner 2018 Durham Cathedral Thursday 6 September 2018 £1500 plus VAT per table of 10 To register please email Join us to experience a momentous occasion in our great region’s history. The Chamber Annual Dinners will move to one regionwide event hosted within a North East icon and one of Europe’s finest buildings. The first ever dinner to be held in the heart of Durham Cathedral will be the business moment of the year, a perfect opportunity to entertain clients and colleagues.

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In my view

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham looks forward to more businesses joining forces

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham Twitter: @NEEChamberJames

Happy New Year, and in this issue you will see how our research into what North East companies need to achieve growth and maximise potential has become our most ambitious campaign to date. Throughout 2018 you will see how we are supporting businesses through our work to deliver a Stronger North East. One of the key issues is the creation of an influential North East. The national media can appear to be full of problems particular to the Home Counties and our own needs are too frequently sidelined. We will work to ensure the Government remains committed to closing the economic gap between UK regions - a challenge the Government has called the ‘greatest prize in Britain today’. The North East must develop an influential voice that is heard. To this end, last year we facilitated a Chamber members’ meeting with Brexit ministers including Lord Bridges and Greg Hands MP. Concerns about leaving the EU were addressed directly from those at the heart of Government and we are continuing this dialogue. In March we will also be holding a Brexit Summit to highlight key considerations for

“Together we grow stronger”

10 contact

companies and help them prepare, as far as possible, for the changes to come. I have immense pride in being part of a region with an outstanding export tradition and in the last quarter we were the only part of the UK to increase export figures. It is imperative Brexit does not impact negatively on this. Connectivity is also vitally important. We welcomed the funding announcement for the new Tyne and Wear Metro fleet, but that is only part of the story, and we will continue to campaign for further improvements. We need major investments in the regional rail network and other major projects which will strengthen our business environment. We will continue to push for appropriate infrastructure funding and our list of priorities for road, rail, digital and other improvements is being prepared with our stakeholders and partners. It is imperative the North East has the physical and digital connections to exploit opportunities and our mission is to help everyone to be ahead of the pack. Knowledge is the lifeblood of entrepreneurs and we organise a vast range of events to help you to supplement your knowledge and skills base. One of the most well-attended events of last year

Together We Grow Stronger

was so over-subscribed we have arranged another on the same topic - General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It may not prompt an adrenalin rush, but this is a huge concern for businesses, taking over from existing Data Regulation legislation and requiring companies to ensure they hold data whether for marketing, HR or clients - in a systematic and compliant way. That can be a headache, but it also presents an opportunity to be more effective with your data. There will be helpful information on our website after the next event in February. We have long championed the need for school careers advice which prepares

the next generation for their next step, whether university, an apprenticeship or work. With Esh Group, we have been working to form closer working relationships between education and business and our target of 30,000 learner contact hours between pupils and companies within 12 months looks achievable. We know that Together We Grow Stronger and there is so much we can achieve by working closely. If you know of a business interested in joining forces with us, please email me their details The more companies we represent, the more success for us all. contact   11

2 May 2018, 09:00 - 16:00 Newcastle Falcons Kingston Park Following the success of the Chamber Showcase @ North East Expo, the Chamber have once again joined forces with member Fresh Start Events, and together we are promoting The North East Expo which is taking place in May 2018. There will be more than 200 companies exhibiting and around 1,500 delegates in attendance. Chamber members can exhibit on level 2 from ÂŁ180 or attend the event as a delegate completely free. The event will feature a variety of seminars, masterclasses and workshops throughout the venue, incuding a presentation from James Ramsbotham. For more information about the event and to book your stand or free place visit

Inbox Have you got something to say about Contact magazine or about business in general? Then this page is the place. Email your news, views, comment and gossip to

Cooking up success Reggae musician, entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den success story Levi Roots paid a visit to the North East to launch the multi-million pound Scaleup North East programme. The programme, which aims to dramatically increase the number of growing businesses in the region, has been launched by RTC North and the North East Growth Hub and aims to create more than 6,000 new jobs and boost the number of scale-up businesses in the region by Levi Roots 50% by 2024. Roots, who rose to fame after his appearance on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, was the keynote speaker at the launch event – sharing the secrets of his success as he went from bottling sauces at his kitchen table to securing investment and leading a brand which is now a familiar sight on the shelves of all major supermarkets.

Safety first Young actors and filmmakers from Stockton headed north to px group’s St. Fergus Gas Terminal, north of Aberdeen, to shoot a new safety video for the px group’s Michael Derbyshire with industrial complex. the filmmakers Members of Page2Stage drama group - including former film students from Stockton Riverside College - planned, shot and edited the short film as part of new venture - Ufilms Productions. The film will now be shown to all those visiting the St. Fergus site. Kelly Fairhurst, who runs the drama group and is a lecturer in film and TV production at Stockton Riverside College, said: “The students set up their own film production company last year as part of the college’s enterprise initiative. The aim is to gain experience and build something that can be continued when they finish their studies."


Our pick of recent events across the region on Twitter Newcastle NE1 Ltd‫‏‬ (@NE1BID): Huge thanks to @USAmbUK for his visit to Newcastle yesterday, and to @UniofNewcastle, @NEEChamber and @BlackfriarsRest for their help in making the visit such a success. Ben Houchen (@BenHouchen): Amazing tour around @DarlingtonHipp. What an amazing building. Hats off to @darlingtonbc and @BillDixonDton. Yet something else for the Tees Valley to be proud of! Darlington BS (@DarlingtonBS): “I am incredibly proud that after all these years we have a regional building society that is driven by the same values and purpose as it was back in 1856.” Outgoing DBS Chairman, James Ramsbotham Lynsey Fairless (@NEEChamberLyns): Lovely catching up @NorsemanTravel delivering a 25 year @NEEChamber member gift! Thank you for your continued support! Gateshead Games (@Games_GC): Massive congrats to the winners of the #UoCGameJam. Great work everyone & our very own HND yr2 students won best video game! @gatesheadcoll

Wayne Harrison and Paul Gair

New school Peerz Academy, which has been funded by the North East Business and Innovation Centre’s (BIC) Innovation Programme, has launched an online peer-to-peer mentoring platform to support students across the North East. Founded by former teacher Wayne Harrison, Peerz Academy has recruited four new employees and is working with five North East universities through the FutureMe programme to support 108 schools.

Shed loads of talent Members of Men in Sheds South Tyneside are ready for a new year of work on community projects thanks to a £2,571 grant from Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund. The project, based in an industrial unit on Hutton Street in Boldon Colliery, offers a fully equipped workshop where men aged 55 and over can work together. Thanks to the grant, new equipment has been added to the workshop – to make garden furniture, bird boxes and bird tables, and other items for the local community. contact   13

News Sarah Daun, Womble Bond Dickinson

Data day More than 350 North East companies took advantage of specialist data regulation advice at the NE GDPR Summit held at Ramside Hall, Durham. Organised by the Chamber, guests heard experts from Womble Bond Dickinson, Arthur J Gallagher, KPMG, Pulsant Business Unlimited and the Northern Society of Chartered Accountants set out the new regulations, which come into effect in May 2018. Arlen Pettitt, Chamber knowledge development manager, said: “The Summit made clear what businesses need to do now. We have recommended companies are transparent with how they are getting consent and holding details. The new rules encourage businesses to engage with their customers, find out what they want to know and what they are happy to be stored.” A key suggestion from the experts at the event was for companies to be certified through the Governmentbacked Cyber Essentials scheme, or ISO27001, and to use suppliers who are certified. There will be another event on GDPR on February 20 at Ramside Hall, Co Durham.

Going for growth Co Durham-based construction Chris Hyde, MD of JDP Contracting Services with UK Steel Enterprise’s Sarah Thorpe company JDP Contracting Services is preparing for further growth following a second six-figure investment from UK Steel Enterprise. The company is the largest specialist roofline contractor in the North, employing more than 30 people at its Newton Aycliffe HQ and 10 in Sheffield. UK Steel Enterprise's first investment enabled a management buyout headed by MD Chris Hyde. The latest investment from the Equity Growth Fund, backed by the Regional Growth Fund, will support product development, expand footprint and increase apprenticeships. 14 contact

NEWS IN BRIEF CONTRACT HUNTER Sunderlandbased business communications and systems specialist Cellular Solutions has won preferred supplier status with national estate agency group Hunters. Cellular Solutions has worked with Hunters in the region for more than eight years, providing mobile communications packages. DIGITAL DRIVE Digital Drive County Durham, a new £4m programme from Business Durham, is aiming to help small businesses thrive in the digital world. Providing funding and practical support to make better use of digital technology. It is being delivered by BE Group over the next three years. WARMING UP FW Capital has invested £515,000 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund in North East energy consultancy Cenergist. The investment has created four new jobs in a new office in Billingham as Cenergist expands its work with major energy firms under the Government's affordable warmth obligation, which supports vulnerable and low-income households.

The Komatsu plant at the Shotton surface mine

Mining partnership Banks Mining has extended its relationship with Komatsu with a new six-figure plant investment at its Shotton surface mine in Northumberland. Family-owned Banks has taken delivery of its first 265-tonne Komatsu PC3000-6 mining shovel to expose coal at Shotton. This follows the purchase of three 27.5 tonne Komatsu WA470-8 loading shovels sourced through Marubeni-Komatsu at Chester-le-Street. A further £3.5m investment was made in new mobile plant for Shotton last year through the Boldon branch of Finning, Caterpillar's Peterlee site, and the Scot JCB dealership in Newcastle.

Fast work The latest ultrafast broadband, known as Gfast, is now available in Newcastle. The city is one of the first UK locations to pilot Gfast, offering download speeds up to 330Mbps – roughly seven times the UK average. Openreach has made the technology available to more than 390,000 homes and businesses ahead of a nationwide roll-out, which will see ultrafast broadband reaching 12m UK premises by 2020.

The Auckland project team

Ground force Work is underway at Auckland Castle’s 17th Century Walled Garden, which is being reimagined as part of The Auckland Project’s wider £130m revitalisation project. Co Durham-based Rainton Construction has begun clearing rubble, preserving and storing historically significant stonework and preparing access routes for further works. Supported by Garfield Weston Foundation and The Headley Trust, it is due to open this year.

Industry honours The North East’s brightest youngsters and best companies from the chemical-processing industry were recognised at the 12th NEPIC Industry Awards. Eight of the region’s rising young stars were honoured at the event, while Dr. Stan Higgins OBE, who founded NEPIC in 2003, was awarded the outstanding contribution award. Company awards were also picked up by Greenergy Biofuels (Industrial Environmental); Sirius Minerals (Communities & Reputation); Biochemica Water (Small Business); Tomlinson Hall & Co. (Engineering Firm); Aesica Pharmaceutical (Manufacturer) and Micropore Technologies (Innovation).

Driving tourism VisitBritain, Newcastle Airport and NewcastleGateshead Initiative have announced a new partnership to promote the North East overseas. The three-year partnership will focus on driving visitors to explore the North East’s culture and heritage. In year one the initiative will target visitors from Germany, highlighting direct flights from Berlin to Newcastle Airport and the Great Exhibition of the North as a reason to visit. The partnership is also working with destination management organisations Northumberland Tourism and Visit County Durham, and tourism colleagues at Sunderland City Council, North Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Council and the Tees Valley Combined Authority to develop itineraries showcasing the region. Nick Jones, chief executive at Newcastle International Airport said: “By growing inbound numbers we will not only further strengthen routes, but also boost the North East economy.” VisitBritain commercial director Carol Dray said: “Increasing regional connectivity not only makes it easier for visitors to see more of Britain, it boosts economic growth, further cementing tourism as one of the UK’s most valuable export industries.” NewcastleGateshead Initiative chief executive Sarah Stewart added: “This partnership strengthens our work to inspire and attract visitors from key markets.”

BCC honours Two North East companies came away with honours at the national British Chambers of Commerce awards at the Brewery, London in November. Seaham-based Prima Cheese was runner-up in the Export Business of the Year category and EGGER was runner-up in Back row Tobias Zimmerman (EGGER UK), Nima Beni the Commitment to People (Prima Cheese), front row Arthur Harvey (EGGER UK), James Ramsbotham (Chamber) and Nagma Ebanks Beni Development category. (Prima Cheese) Prima Cheese director Nima Beni said: “We are honoured to have achieved second place in the country. What we have achieved in the last six years has put us in a great position for the coming year.” EGGER technical director Tobias Zimmerman added: “This proves the effort and commitment to the development of our staff is appreciated and we will continue with our strategy going forward.” Omega Plastics, O’Brien Recycling and Mediaworks were also represented. contact   15


Partners update I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

Happy New Year from President’s Club, and we start the year by welcoming my new colleague Michelle Ord, who will be helping us to engage with President’s Club members in the coming months. It’s been another busy couple of months, first getting to meet the new leadership team at Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe and hear about their exciting plans for the future, and see a finished train going into service. We’ve also had fantastic news from Paragon Group, which has announced an additional 60 new jobs in its Sunderland plant as part of a recent contract win. I also wish good luck to East Durham College lecturer Alison Scattergood, who has been nominated as Teacher of the Year in the TES FE Awards finals, which take place in February. Wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin offers Chamber’s President’s Club members a free, no obligation financial planning review. Contact 16 contact

With Tom Warnock, Chamber partnerships manager Chamber Partners form an exclusive group from a range of sectors across the region, working closely with us to maximise their impact on the North East I hope 2018 has got off to a great start for you. Certainly, it is looking good for Chamber Partner members, following 2017, when we reached our highest ever number of Partner members. It’s tremendous to see this group of members grow, enabling us to do even more work for the North East. In December we held our Christmas Partners Lunch at Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle, enjoying the company of guest speakers from the House of Lords - Viscount Ridley, Lord Shipley and Baroness Armstrong. Partners questioned them on a variety of topics, from Brexit to regional image to the importance of a North of Tyne devolution deal. We’re continuing to work with Partners on a host of topics. Go North East will lead a corporate and social responsibility project to highlight the benefits of adopting a policy for businesses and the local community, culminating in an event and brochure later this year. We’ve also almost finished our work raising awareness of home-ownership with Virgin Money, Teesside University and Thirteen. The end result will be a self-service mortgage assessment tool and myth-busting resource for young people and employees unsure where to start when buying their first home. In January we hosted the Apprentice Reform: One Year On event at Teesside University, we’re adding to our knowledge event series and we’ll also be kicking off our 2018 Partner Lunch programme in February with BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern as our first guest speaker.


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News Historic move Beamish Museum is set to create almost 100 new jobs as part of its planned £18m expansion. Work is underway on the Remaking Beamish development, the largest in the Co Durham museum's 48year history, which will include 30 new exhibits on a 1950s town and farm and an expansion of the Georgian landscape including a coaching inn with overnight accommodation. The project is designed to attract 100,000 additional tourists to the region, with the Heritage Lottery Fund providing a £10.9m boost to the initiative. Michelle Lagar, Remaking Beamish project officer for skills, said: "We're looking for qualified and experienced local tradespeople who would like the opportunity to work on this unique project. Our in-house buildings team have extensive experience in creating both historical and modern buildings but, to deliver a project of this size, we need to grow our construction capacity." The project will take place over the next three to four years.

Round the table Tait Walker’s annual round table brought together the North East’s manufacturing and technology leaders to debate the biggest issues affecting the industry. The event saw representatives from Lloyds Banking, CPI, TSEC, Durham University Business School and the County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network debate Industry 4.0 - the current trend of automation and data exchange, skills shortages and on the need for better facilities to train graduates to enter higher level jobs.

Seb Luder of Nicholson’s Transport

Space to grow Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College

Sunderland top the league Sunderland College has been named the top college in the North East in a new league table. Using Government data, more than 200 colleges were ranked in the FE Week league table, which took into account learner and employer satisfaction, positive progression for 16-18-year-olds and adult student employment rates. The college received nine points out of 10 for learner and employer satisfaction, and secured an overall score of 33 - two points less than the highest-ranked college in the league table. Ellen Thinnesen, Sunderland College’s principal and chief executive, said the results are indicative of the college’s approach to education and employer support. 18 contact

Teesside logistics firm Nicholson’s Transport has invested £150,000 into its warehousing facilities. The Billingham-based company has refurbished its 55,000sqft warehouse with new internal walls and racking, additional pallet areas and improved loading bays for vehicles. The refurbishment will allow the business to expand its pick and pack services at its 15,000sqft warehouse near Eaglescliffe.

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Just the jobs The latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results published by the Chamber show strong recruitment figures from employers. Almost two thirds of respondents aimed to recruit full-time staff (63.9%) with the overall workforce scores at the highest since 2015. Chamber president John McCabe said: “These results show that the region’s economy is entering 2018 in a strong position. We know there is more to do to improve our resilience and build an even stronger platform for growth, but we’ve seen growth domestically and in exports, while our region’s remarkable improvement in private sector employment looks set to continue.” The final QES report for 2017 shows a continuation of the overall growth trend of the previous 12 months, due primarily to solid growth in domestic sales and a turnaround in exports. Concerns over exchange rate fluctuations have eased, though concerns over inflation have grown. It has given firms confidence to invest, and plant investment in the final quarter of 2017 was the highest since mid-2015.

Food for thought Hebburn-based Restaurant Design Associates has been appointed to design and fit-out BUILT Custom Burgers’ first UK site in Ilford, London. Following the success of The Counter, which opened in Glasgow in June 2017, RDA has been appointed to create the “fast casual” version of the restaurant, serving Build Your Own burgers, fries, shakes, and more in an urban industrial interior. RDA was recently selected based on its design concept for The Counter, which stayed true to the brand’s LA roots while adding a UK twist - resulting in a high-end American style diner in the heart of Glasgow.

Tel: 0191 482 42 71 Earlsway, Team Valley Trading Estate Gateshead, Tyne & Wear NE11 0RQ Fax: 0191 482 4214 E-mail:

‘Press’tigious Print


#SPECIALISTA4&A5PrInTErS 01924 220633 contact   19

Commercial Profile

Cellular Solutions spearheads innovative communications product Business communications and systems specialist, Cellular Solutions is spearheading the rollout of a smart communications system in the North East. Sunderland-based Cellular Solutions is now offering smart communications system, NEC SL2100, which is designed to support businesses in scaling up and adapting to industry and workforce changes. Its flexibility means it can easily adapt to new levels of staff, making it easy for growing companies to scale up, and the system can ‘grow with the business’, meaning that incremental upgrades are cost-effective and scalable. NEC SL2100 features VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) capabilities which enables a business’s phone service to be delivered via an internet connection, putting unified communications within reach of small businesses, or it can also be used as a TDM solution with future-proof upgrade potential. The system also enables flexible, mobile and home working as its handsets and desk space can be shared by a number of employees, and users can be contacted on a single number – regardless of if a call is taken at their desk phone or mobile. Cellular Solutions works hand in hand with companies to improve communication, operations and processes. The company provides communications and business systems – including mobile, landline, broadband, software and digital – to organisations ranging from start-ups and SMEs to large, multi-site organisations, supporting them at every stage of their business journeys.


Mike Wade (Hodgson Sayers) speaking at the 2017 Durham Review & AGM

Have your say

The Chamber will hold its local AGMs in February and March 2018, offering members across the region a chance to network, hear about the organisation’s policy work in the last 12 months, and hear its plans for the coming year. The AGMs are also each member’s chance to get more involved in the decision making processes of the Chamber and put their names forward to be involved in committees or for a place on the Chamber’s Council. Expressions of interest are welcome at any time, from any member. For more information contact (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Co Durham) or Rachel. (Tees Valley). For all the information on this year’s AGMs see page 62. CONTACT YOUR RELATIONSHIP MANAGER TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP Medium Membership Manager - Julie Digman tel 07912 478 964 Twitter @NEEChamberJules Darlington and West Durham Susan Anderson tel 07736 799 727 Northumberland - Claire McCabe tel 0191 3746487 Twitter @NEEChamberClare Newcastle/Gateshead - Lynsey Fairless tel 07834 444 627 Twitter @NEEChamberLyns International - Les Dixon tel 07850 740 645 Twitter @NEEChamberLes

For more information on NEC SL2100 call 08700 118 000, email or visit 20 contact

Sunderland and Durham - Julie Charlton tel 0798 025991 Twitter @NEEChamberjac1

l-r Joanne Davison (Muckle LLP), Helen Beaton (Tyne Coast College) and Tony McPhillips (Muckle LLP)

College merger

Muckle LLP has provided extensive legal services on three major college mergers in the last six months, including the partnership between South Tyneside and TyneMet colleges to create Tyne Coast College. Muckle provided all aspects of legal advice on the deal, having previously advised on two mergers for NCG. Partner Joanne Davison led a team of legal experts overseen by partner Tony McPhillips, head of Muckle LLP’s education team. Since January 2017, lawyers across several departments have been working with the colleges on a range of commercial, governance, property, banking and employment issues. Under its news name, Tyne Coast College will deliver educational and training opportunities across existing campuses and cater for around 20,000 full and part-time students.

Setting safety records The Fastflow Group, which operates in gas and water pipeline and property maintenance sectors around the UK, has set a new record for safe working. Its three divisions have for the first time clocked up more than 3.3m working hours without a lost-time accident. Chief executive Neil Armstrong said: “We have put a lot of effort into instilling the importance of safety in the workforce. Much of what we do has an element of risk and we do everything possible to minimise this.” Fastflow Pipeline Services, which operates in the North East and Scotland supplying almost 3m customers, has recorded almost 500,000 safe Neil Armstrong working hours.

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First class growth Work to expand Durham University’s facilities in the historic city is underway. Development of the university’s new Centre for Teaching and Learning at its Lower Mountjoy site is well underway, while work to develop a new college and student facilities at the Mount Oswald project off South Road begins in March. The Lower Mountjoy site, set to open in autumn 2019, will be home to a £40m development hosting a wide range of learning environments and technologies, lecture theatres, teaching rooms, education laboratories, student learning zones and catering facilities. The Mount Oswald project includes a new home for John Snow College, which is relocating from Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees. There will also be an events hall, gym, music practice rooms, a launderette, faith room and a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).

Going for gold Ramside Hall Hotel Golf and Spa in Co Durham has received a Gold Award from Visit England, placing it among the best hotels in the UK. The hotel has been The Celebration Suite at Ramside promoted from its silver Hall Hotel rating, received a four star rating and has retained a Breakfast Award following a visit by Visit England inspectors. Meanwhile, a scheme to create six luxury twoArtist’s impression of the new treehouses at Ramisde Hall Hotel bedroom treehouses at the hotel has been given the green light by Durham County Council. Construction is set to begin in February 2018 with the first three expected to open in June. 22 contact

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE Hospitality and events company The Concerto Group has appointed Gradvert to deliver a commercial account management programme to its sales teams across its seven UK offices. DEAL-MAKERS Environmental consultancy RSK has acquired the business, operating assets and employees of Washington-based Ian Farmer Associates - a site investigations company working throughout the UK. The acquisition, brokered by North East accountancy firm Clive Owen LLP, brings new services to RSK’s fast-growing environmental, engineering and technical support services business with all 108 Ian Farmer Associates staff being kept on. GROWTH INVESTMENT Moody Logistics is delivering a £500,000 investment to boost productivity at its base in Cramlington. The company is constructing a 12,000sqft addition to its facilities at the seven-acre Bolam Business Park – increasing capacity for its cross-deck operations and the process of loading and unloading HGV trailers.

Students in the college's Aviation Academy

Royal approval

Newcastle College has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The award, the highest honour that can be awarded to a UK college or university, recognises the college’s commitment to vocational training through its Transport Academy comprising Aviation and Rail Centres backed by employers and industry bodies. NCG chief executive Joe Docherty said: “This is a fantastic achievement. Newcastle College’s Transport Academy is the result of a long-term strategy which aims to support the transport infrastructure of the North East and the wider economy.”

l-r: Blackwell Grange Hotel’s Danny Piper, Victoria Taylor, Dawn Raine, Rebecca Bogle and Julia Demidova

New look

The first phase of a fiveyear multi-million pound refurbishment has begun at Blackwell Grange Hotel, Darlington. A substantial amount of the planned works, overseen by Niven Architects, will be carried out in the first quarter of 2018. General manager Dawn Raine said: "We can’t wait to give our beautiful hotel the restoration it deserves."

To infinity…

On the roads Leaders from across the region have agreed a 30-year plan to transform the region’s transport infrastructure. Transport for the North’s draft Strategic Transport Plan will outline seven rail and road corridors requiring improvement and call for investment for the upgrades. The plan is expected to include upgrades to Darlington and Middlesbrough railway stations, improvements to the A19 and A66,

and the expansion of freight routes from the River Tees to markets across the UK, including the Northern Bypass in Darlington. Tees Valley Combined Authority’s cabinet has approved progress on business cases for a new Tees Crossing and a new Northern Link Road in Darlington. Transport for the North will reveal full details of the scheme soon with a public consultation to follow.

The 2018 North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence annual conference is at Ramside Hall Hotel, Co Durham on March 22. This year’s Discover the Possibilities event will highlight the business opportunities for firms in the North East to develop data-led satellite applications to solve the industry’s challenges. Organised on behalf of the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, this year’s event is the fourth in a series of annual gatherings looking at the key challenges facing the sector.

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Commercial Profile

County Durham’s NETPark Expansion supports huge growth for North East firms The North East Technology Park in Sedgefield, County Durham is known for providing the right environment to accelerate the growth of ambitious, innovative, high tech companies into global markets. But it doesn’t stop there, NETPark is building for the future and when companies are ready to grow and need bigger manufacturing facilities or larger offices, they need look no further than the brand new £7.6m NETPark Explorer buildings. That was just the case for two of the North East’s leading tech companies IBEX Innovations and PragmatIC Printing. Both companies had outgrown their existing premises at NETPark and on completion of the NETPark Explorer buildings in January these companies moved to the new world class facilities. IBEX Innovations are an X-RAY imaging specialist who started their journey as a virtual member of NETPark before moving to its Incubator and then later the 2,000 sq ft of office and lab space in NETPark’s Discovery building. Expanding into bigger, custom-designed offices in Explorer 2 to accommodate huge growth over the next few years –will see IBEX shift into profitability and double its highly skilled workforce. Chief executive, Dr Neil Loxley, said the relocation into one of the new Explorer units, which are managed by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham working on behalf of Durham County Council, will be instrumental to IBEX’s future success. Said Dr Loxley: “We have had a great deal of input into the design and layout of the office and laboratory, which will take us through the next five years of growth comfortably and allow us to increase our workforce from 18 to about 30 or 35. “The quality of the facilities at NETPark and the attitude of staff is first class. It has a really dynamic, innovative atmosphere.” PragmatIC Printing, a world leader in the design and manufacture of ultra low cost, flexible electronics move to Explorer 1 occupying 5,000 sq feet of ground floor lab and first floor office space will support its rapid growth and create more jobs. PragmatIC’s products can be embedded in a vast range of applications, ranging from intelligent packaging to wireless document traceability for security and identification. Ken Williamson, chief operating officer, said “The new Explorer building really is an ideal place for us. We initially 24 contact

Dr Neil Loxley CEO IBEX Innovations

PragmatIC Printing CEO Ken Williamson

came because of printable electronics centre but the access to a highly skilled semi conductor workforce in the North East has been a key factor in us staying and growing here as well as the value for money office space and the access to funding. Expansion plans don’t stop there, NETPark Phase 3A, will see the completion of a 1km access road linking the A177 to a new 26 acre development at the north of the park, creating additional space for research and development companies who need room to prototype and scale up to manufacture on site. To find out more about the opportunities at NETPark visit 01740 625250 @netparknet

Commercial property Manufacturing future

in association with

Artist’s impressions of Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park

l-r Swinburne Maddison partners Jonathan Moreland, Carolyn Beal and Martyn Tennant with AMH Interiors’ Heather Baxter and Ian Moir

Middlesbrough is set to take a leading role in the UK’s advanced manufacturing future with the development of the £22.46m Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TAMP). Work on the first phase of TAMP, which aims to attract high productivity manufacturing companies, will start in the coming months. Phase one will create 180,000sqft of accommodation across 10 buildings, creating up to 1,000 new jobs. The plans for the South West Ironmasters site were first put forward in 2013 to create significant research and development opportunities for SMEs in Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley. The site is already home to TWI’s £10.8m Technology Centre, site of the UK’s first Offshore Wind Validation Centre delivering

New look at Aykley Heads

Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd and deputy mayor Coun Charlie Rooney

research and validation services for offshore wind tower manufacturers, as well as for the oil and gas, subsea and other industrial sectors. Middlesbrough Council will put nearly £12.5m towards the total cost, supported by more than £7.5m investment from Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Award-winning law firm Swinburne Maddison LLP has secured £500,000 of funding for its new 10,000sqft base in Aykley Heads, Durham. The law firm is working with local contractor AMH Interiors on the refurbishment, which will see the building remodelled to create open-plan office spaces, a staff and client lounge, serviced meeting rooms and an impressive reception area, to open this year.

New spaces Calysta president and CEO Alan Shaw

Calysta expands at Wilton Centre World-leading biotech company Calysta has expanded its facilities at the Wilton Centre, Teesside, one year after moving in. The US firm, which has developed a new naturally produced fish and animal feed ingredient called FeedKind, has leased an additional 2,400sqft of office, laboratory and storage space in addition to the two laboratories, seven offices and production plant it took on in December 2016.

The new space takes Calysta’s total occupancy at the Wilton Centre to more than 29,000sqft. Calysta and partners, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), also based at the Wilton Centre, and Otto Simon Ltd were awarded the 2017 Institution of Chemical Engineers’ Global Team Award for excellence in November 2017, beating more than 140 entries from 21 countries.

GVA has brought 100,000sqft of industrial space at Baltic Park, Saltmeadows Road, Gateshead to the market. Construction work at Baltic Park, the largest speculative industrial development to be built in the area without grant funding since 2007, continues to progress. The six acre, £6m site is being developed by Langley Holdings and follows on from a previous phase involving the demolition of two redundant properties that had been vacant for a number of years.

Commercial property Adderstone Group success continues

in association with

Student spaces rising in Newcastle Newcastle’s student offering could be set to rise by some 4,500 bed spaces according to new research. Cushman & Wakefield’s UK Student Accommodation Report 2017/18 has found that more than 1,000 spaces were brought to the market in 2017, with Newcastle now home to 16,434 purpose-built student accommodation beds. Home to two universities, demand has continued to grow in the city over the past five years.

Be our guest

The Chamber is looking for neighbours in its newly refurbished offices at the Stamp Exchange next to Newcastle Central Station with the release of two suites for rent. Based in the historic part of Westgate Road, opposite the Literary and Philosophical Society, the suites are 1,516sqft and 3,384sqft. The offices have a manned reception, good IT infrastructure, comfort cooling, raised floors and LED light fittings. Both suites are available separately or as one office space from Chris Pearson, Gavin Black & Partners. 26 contact

Leeds Building Society’s office on Cobalt Business Park

Newcastle-based property developer Adderstone Group has announced consolidated annual profits of £4.45m to March 2017. The results highlight continued growth, with turnover increasing to £43m from £34m in the previous year. The £4.45m profit remains consistent with the £4.3m posted in the year to March 2016, despite losses of £662,000 resulting from unsuccessful planning applications in Newcastle. The group has completed a number of developments in the period

including the Jesmond Exchange 70bed apartment scheme, and Lidl stores in Blyth and Killingworth. 2018 will see Adderstone Group complete another Lidl store in Richmond, North Yorkshire, homes for 600 people in Newcastle, as well as its first luxury apartment development in Bermondsey, South London. Brims Construction also contributed through high profile projects such as delivery of LiveWorks on Newcastle Quayside and the Colman’s Seafood Temple in South Shields.

Stephen Brown

Regeneration reality 2018 is set to herald a commercial property regeneration for Middlesbrough, according to the town’s most experienced commercial property agent. Stephen Brown, senior partner at Dodds Brown, expects the rate of development to grow rapidly in the coming months with the completion of the new restaurant and leisure destination on Albert Road and Centre Square, the launch of Tees

Advanced Manufacturing Park and the anticipated launch of 200,000sqft of Grade A office accommodation in Centre Square. “TAMP and Centre Square will put Middlesbrough on the map as a real business location, not just somewhere to be serviced from an office in Leeds or Newcastle,” he said, while the launch of South Tees Development Corporation provides further optimism.

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A stronger North East Jonathan Walker, North East England Chamber of Commerce head of policy and campaigns, outlines the Chamber’s campaign priorities for 2018 Through 2017 we continued to see our businesses perform well and progress made towards removing some of our biggest economic barriers. Last year the Chamber championed the cause of North East businesses and achieved real change. We helped to secure more support for exporters to break into new markets. As well as this we were part of the successful drive for devolution in the North of Tyne area and further regeneration funding for Tees Valley. We have challenged politicians at the highest level to invest in North East infrastructure, including the commitment by Government to fund Metro fleet replacement. The continued success of our members reflects not only their ability to make the most of the opportunities the North East offers, but also their resilience in dealing with the challenges we still face. Despite this, we know North East England can be so much better. Our businesses have the right assets, attitude and abilities to make a far bigger contribution to the national economy, but are all too often prevented from doing so. A Stronger North East will be Influential, with the power to make decisions about its own future. Successive governments have committed themselves to closing the economic performance gap between UK regions, yet progress remains very limited. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. Our members are tired of policy initiatives that deliver little in the way of material change. We need a government that recognises the huge untapped potential that exists in our 28 contact

region and equips us with the tools to unlock it. Devolution to Tees Valley and the North of Tyne authorities is a good start, but this must be seen as the first step on a longer journey towards greater freedom and autonomy to shape our regional economic growth. We want a region that is bold in its vision, realistic about its challenges and strident about its needs. Above all, North East England must develop an influential voice that is heard in the conversations that really matter. This means action by Government to support our role in the Northern Powerhouse, a consistent set of investment priorities agreed by public and private sector and a commitment from politicians and other leaders across our region to work together. A stronger region will also be a global one; exporting further and more successfully than anywhere else while welcoming investment and visitors from around the world. A poorly managed exit from the EU must be avoided, while the support available to new and existing exporters should be enhanced to allow the full range of global opportunities to be exploited by North East businesses. A Stronger North East will be a place that is connected, where infrastructure enables commercial opportunities. Sadly, this infrastructure has received insufficient investment for decades. We know there have been some improvements, yet successive Governments have failed to grasp the ways in which infrastructure spending systematically favours developed areas in the South East, thereby entrenching the regional economic divide.

© juliewatsonphotography /

We want Government to change the way it assesses the benefits of infrastructure spending to take into account the need to rebalance the economy. Alongside this, we must see further major investment in our rail network, more energy generating capacity developed in our region and backing for our expertise in new forms of connectivity, such as 5G. North East England should aspire to be more competitive; to be recognised as the most welcoming, supportive and costeffective place in which to establish and grow a business. We must also ensure that those who want to build a business or career in our region are able to do so. Our housing offer needs to be vastly improved. This is a wonderful place to live; we must ensure good quality accommodation is available for those who wish to do so. We need Government to go deeper and faster to reform the business rates system, new thinking in relation to public procurement to create more opportunities for North East businesses, local initiatives for regenerating town centres and an increase in the construction of new and better homes in

our region to support economic growth. The people of North East England are by far its biggest assets. We have a loyal, committed and skilled workforce that is behind our business success. Despite this, far too many people are unable to make a full contribution to the economy. The frequently hidden problems of physical and mental health issues are an economic as well as social challenge. In a year in which our region hosts the Great Exhibition of the North, we must capitalise on the opportunity to showcase North East England’s potential. This is a campaign which is shaped and owned by our members. It is the collective strength of the Chamber that gives us our influence. Please get stuck in, and help us make the North East the best it can be.

❝We want a region that is bold in its vision, realistic about its challenges and strident about its needs❞ contact   29


l-r Awards host Steph McGovern with Elfab’s Emily Smith, Christopher Stavers, Lewis Baker and Samantha Nicholson at the Manufacturing Champions Awards

One to watch

Nissan's Sunderland production line

All around the world

North East exporters have blazed a trail over the past year, with figures for 2017 showing £1.395bn of goods and services shipped overseas. Thanks to North East England Chamber of Commerce’s international trade team, companies from car giant Nissan to beverage business Fentiman’s have been supported in selling products and services around the world. There were also successful trade missions to China and Boston in the final two months of 2017. Beverage specialist companies including Cameron’s Brewery and Sunderlandbased Poetic License attended China’s largest food and beverage

trade show, FHC, in Shanghai. Similarly, a Boston mission in early December gave businesses including Chamber members AES Digital Solutions, Datatrial and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative/Invest Newcastle the chance to build connections with industry and innovation leaders. Chamber international trade director Julie Underwood said: “The trade documentation figures are a great indicator of our exporting prowess in the North East. “Many people who export start small then develop their confidence and trade further afield. We have a range of trade shows lined up in the coming year to give North East businesses the chance to grow their client base.”

North Shields-based Elfab Limited has been picked as One to Watch in a new list highlighting business excellence published by the European Business Awards. Elfab, which won the SME Innovators Category for the Manufacturing Champions Awards 2017, produces pressure relief systems to protect people, plant, processes and the environment. It provides products for end users and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in sectors ranging from automotive to pharmaceuticals and its products can be found in more than 70 countries across the globe.

Global reach

Brexit-busting plans

Dame Margaret Barbour. Credit Jason Bell

Teesside-based MI Supplies, which relies heavily on the European market, has launched an ambitious three-year plan to grow sales. Project 2020 - a digital campaign to include new online stores for Germany and France - is hoped to drive overall turnover to more than £11m. The Thornaby-based supplier recorded record sales in 2017 with turnover climbing to £2.5m, up from £2.3m in 2016, with online sales climbing from £150,000 in 2016 to £700,000. MD Alex Ingham, who wants to achieve £10m-a-year online sales

Clothing company Barbour has grown its sales around the world, according to its latest accounts. The South Tyneside business posted turnover of £184.3m in the year ended April 2017. Operating profit margins rose from 13.76% to 15.96%, with profit for the financial year £24.1m. MD Steve Buck said: “Barbour continues to perform strongly and we are satisfied with our progress, despite challenging market conditions."

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MI Supplies MD Alex Ingham, with l-r warehouse workers Andrew Noble and Lewis Hanson

by the end of 2020, said: “We need four online orders every 15 minutes. We’re not looking to re-invent the wheel, we’re just building on what we’ve already achieved and doing what works.”

Brexit Summit Chamber policy adviser Jack Simpson

l-r Oran Robson (finance director at Port of Blyth), Michael Hindhaugh (relationship director, Lloyds Bank), Geoff Hodgson (chairman, board of commissioners at Port of Blyth), Martin Lawlor (chief executive, Port of Blyth)

Setting sail on £12m investment Port of Blyth is set to make major investments in its terminal infrastructure and the construction of new warehousing, strengthen quays and install new cranes with a new £12m banking facility with Lloyds Bank. Having reported a second consecutive year of record financial figures in April, including a 17% increase in turnover, the Port is now one of the UK’s fastest growing trust ports, driven largely by the continued development of offshore energyrelated activities.

This expansion has necessitated a record level of investment via the consolidation of a long-term relationship with Lloyds Bank, with spending set to support developments to serve clients in the offshore energy, dry and liquid bulks sectors. Oran Robson, finance director at Port of Blyth, said: “The potential at the Port across numerous sectors is huge, and it’s crucial we invest now. New developments will facilitate a large number of new jobs on Port land as we aim to double the number of those employed to over 1,000."

Welcome for US ambassador Following the successful visit to the North East by acting US ambassador Lewis Lukens in 2017, the Chamber welcomed the new ambassador Robert Wood Johnson to the region. A member of the Johnson & Johnson dynasty and owner of the New York Jets, he met with representatives from the Chamber and Newcastle’s business improvement district company NE1 as well as prominent business figures from across the region.

Craig Priday (Pearson Engineering), ambassador Robert Wood Johnson, John McCabe (Chamber) and James Ramsbotham (Chamber)

Johnson discussed a range of issues at a business lunch before visiting The Reece Group's Pearson Engineering, which develops and supplies defence equipment to US armed forces, and touring Newcastle University’s Institute of Genetic Medicine based at the Life Science Centre.

Given the outline Brexit deal has to be submitted to the EU Parliament by September 29 2018, the current level of ambiguity is particularly worrying for businesses, especially those involved in international supply chains. The Chamber has partnered with commercial law firm Square One Law to launch a project entitled Brexit Ready Supply Chain, intended to help manufacturing businesses of every size to anticipate the risks of Brexit, identify future opportunities and explore different ways of working. While unfortunately no one can predict the ultimate outcome of the Brexit negotiations, we hope this direct approach will allay some concerns, encouraging a positive approach to seizing opportunities that will inevitably start to emerge. The Chamber is inviting members to support the campaign by hosting a round table consultation to discuss the campaign and other issues in relation to supply chains and Brexit. To be involved, email jack.simpson@

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Flying high With 108 years of skilled manufacturing and engineering to its name, the Ford Group is a great North East success story whose products fly the North East flag worldwide. Jane Pikett meets its chairman Geoff Ford There is something reassuring about stepping into a company reception to be met with framed photographs of its leaders through its history. At Ford Engineering Group, South Shields, the visitor is met with photographs of the founder Robert Ford, his son Robert, and Geoff Ford MBE (Robert Geoffrey) - thirdgeneration incumbent of the company chair. His is a tireless voice for the region, he is a great advocate for skills and training, manufacturing and engineering, and he is a gentleman of the business community. Quietly spoken, impeccably mannered, with a kindly smile and time for every colleague from trainee to MD, he is a credit to the family line; a natural entrepreneur who has taken the company from £330,000 turnover when he joined in 1974 to £11m today. The group, which employs 160, comprises two operating subsidiaries - Ford Aerospace at Tyne Dock, where those photographs hang, and Ford Components at North Shields, which supplies pressed components to the automotive and power generation sectors. The company has come a very long way since it was founded on nearby Commercial Road on February 5, 1910, and according to the founder's grandson, it has a very long way to go, but it will never, at least while he is here, forget its roots. Hence the photographs and the glass cases displaying historic records, precision engineered components and memorabilia of which Ford’s pride is evident. Robert Ford’s black and white portrait reveals a determined gaze, a bushy

Edwardian moustache and, wrapped around a cigar, two fingers shorted by an accident at Newton and Nicholson, South Shields, where he was works manager. It is because of that accident, or rather the fact that Ford was sacked while he was off work recuperating, that the business is here today, founded by a man who wasn't about to be beaten by the loss of his job - or the ends of two fingers. Ford Aerospace, where I meet Ford, provides precision-machined components to the global aerospace industry, serving customers including Airbus, BAE Systems, Leonardo Helicopters (formerly Westland), and Avio in Italy. Aerospace accounts for 60% of group turnover, serving Europe, the US, and China's booming aerospace sector, where opportunity abounds. Ford says Tyne Dock is the firm’s spiritual home. “We have about 80 years to go on the lease and I intend to be here to sign the renewal," he says, smiling. “What people may not know locally is that we make safety-critical components. We are proud of what we do and never satisfied we do it well enough.” The growth of the business has been organic – no mergers, no acquisitions, and a can-do attitude. “Nothing is beyond us,” says Ford. “The only thing that can hold us back is lack of vision. We could double turnover in the next three years. We are independent and family-owned. We don’t have to get the begging bowl out.” A graphic reveals the company’s range of products and worldwide competition for contact   33

Profile each. In some sectors, it has thousands of competitors, in others, one. The key is in the mix. “We have limited competition and a vast array of products in different areas,” Ford says. “There is competition in each area, but no-one has all that we have. We are a one-stop shop the Amazon of precision engineering. That is how we will prevail.” The group’s family-owned status counts for much, he says. “A family business is more paternalistic. Our people are extended members of the family. We look after our workforce and we have quarterly employee briefings in which everyone is encouraged to contribute. Everyone also receives exactly the same amount of money in the profit share.” This paternalistic nature is apparent on the factory floor, where Ford has a kind word for all and people look up and smile as he passes. The company also prides itself on long-term client relationships. “I was once told a company should strive to lead in two of four things – better, cheaper, faster, nicer. We are faster, and being nicer is very important to me.” He credits his father as his inspiration. “He joined the company aged 14, so he learned on the job. He also spent his entire working life here. He was firm but fair and I have aspired to that. I never saw him lose his temper. He was always thoughtful.” Passing a firm from father to son/daughter does not guarantee success, and Ford and his son Chris, who is MD, both spent the early years of their careers outside the company. Ford says his son is, “by far the most highly qualified employee we have”, and he trusts him to take the company into its next half-century. Of his own work over 43 years, he says: “My father was prudent and cautious, for which I respect him greatly. But I have always seen the potential to expand. To do that, you need vision and to know there is a difference between vision and ambition; you can be ambitious without anything to base it on.” He campaigned against Brexit, but he is philosophical about the challenges it presents to a company whose biggest export market is Europe. “I’ve always had a can-do attitude and we look forward to the future with confidence – though of course with some trepidation regarding Brexit. If we get a sensible arrangement without tariffs we will be okay. Either way, the most nimble - those who think on their feet - will prevail. Opportunities in UK aerospace are probably the best they have ever 34 contact

been, and soon every Chinese city will have its own airport.” The company is also privileged, he says, to be located in an area with a long history of manufacturing and engineering excellence. “We are also incredibly well-connected,” he says. “Our client Leonardo Helicopters is in Somerset yet we see them every week. They fly up from Bristol and get the Metro from the airport. They are amazed how quickly they can get here." One of the North East's best-known advocates, he received a Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2007 and an MBE in 2008. He is a recipient of the North East Business Awards Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2014 he was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in UK Manufacturing. The Ford Group is a founder member of the North East Automotive Alliance, which at two years old is the largest automotive cluster in the UK; an example, he says, “of what we in the region can do when we put our minds and hearts into something.” In July 2013 the Ford

❝We have 80 years to go on the lease and I intend to be here to sign the renweal❞

Group launched a training academy, which since 2016 has been run by Gateshead College and is currently training 32 young people aged 16-24 for the benefit of engineering employers all over the region. "Of the 32 who started in September, 24 are from South Tyneside,” says Ford. "I’m very proud of that.” Teachers, he says, can lack understanding of career opportunities in the sector, so the group works to maintain strong links with local schools. The Government’s apprenticeship policy, meanwhile, is heading in the wrong direction, he says. "The shortage of skills is terrible, the apprenticeship levy is nothing but a tax and the Government's apprenticeship targets are plucked out of nowhere." A strong manufacturing sector, he says, is vital. “Manufacturing makes the world go round. It creates the original wealth. We will always need to make things." But the North East, he says, can under-estimate its own prowess. “We shouldn’t forget how capable we are. As we look

ahead, we need to be more determined. We can be the North East Powerhouse. As home to the likes of Nissan, Siemens, Hitachi and more we can lead the way.” And what might he have done differently over the years? “I wish I'd launched our academy years ago. It's our way of giving back - producing work-ready young people for employers all over the region. I'm very proud of that. "I also wonder if we have achieved as much as we could have since 1974. I think probably not, but we are proud of what we do, proud of our workforce and proud of the 64m individual components we produce every year.” Aged 74, he shows no sign of slowing down. “I have never thought of retiring. Of course, there are challenges, notably Brexit, but whatever that throws at us, we will overcome it with ingenuity and creative thinking. We have survived this long and come through two world wars. We will be here for a very long time yet.” contact   35


The greatest show on earth NewcastleGateshead will stage the biggest event in England in 2018, celebrating the North’s revolutionary role in shaping the world we know today and the economy of tomorrow as Carol Bell, executive director of the Great Exhibition of the North, tells Jane Hall Before the advent of the train, the quickest way to travel was on the back of a galloping horse. Then came the pioneering railway engineer and inventor George Stephenson, and with him a new world. It is fitting that Stephenson’s Rocket will return to its birthplace in Newcastle this summer, taking centre stage at what will be the biggest creative, cultural, and design event taking place in England in 2018. By the time Stephenson died in 1848, the railways he had helped establish had made Britain the richest country in the world and his native North an industrial powerhouse. The Great Exhibition of the North will celebrate the trailblazing role our region, with Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds, has made in shaping the world today. It is the North that brought us groundbreaking firsts including the programmable small-scale computer in 1948 (Manchester, building on the work of Alan Turing and paving the way for today’s computers, smartphones and tablets), stainless steel in 1871 (Sheffield), movies in the 19th Century (Leeds, where the first motion pictures were filmed), free lending libraries in 1802 (Liverpool), the friction match in 1824 (Stockton-on-Tees), and the incandescent lightbulb in 1860 (Newcastle). The North can also lay claim to the contraceptive pill, the light switch, cat’s eyes, atomic theory, the original steam-powered mill, the windscreen wiper, the world’s first tilting bridge, the hydraulic crane, the lifeboat, the hovercraft, Yorkshire pudding 36 contact

and the world’s smallest secret agent, Danger Mouse! Taking place over 80 days from June 22-September 9 across NewcastleGateshead, the £14m Great Exhibition of the North will celebrate the creative, cultural and design innovations that have made this area of England stretching from the west to the east coasts and the Scottish Border down into Yorkshire famous across the globe. Events and exhibitions will showcase the creative leaps being made now, transforming global perceptions and inspiring a new generation of visionaries to follow in the maverick footsteps of their forbears. It will, maintains Carol Bell, executive director of the Great Exhibition of the North and the person charged with turning it into a reality, be the biggest opportunity business has had for generations to shout about this area, while helping to lay solid foundations for a post-Brexit era. In the process, the event is expected to attract 3m people to NewcastleGateshead, bring an £189m boost to the North East economy, and see tens of millions more injected into industry as long-term partnerships and projects are forged. Aside from a packed programme of exhibits, street entertainment, cuttingedge culture and technology, there will be numerous opportunities, including a Business Expo, for business people, academics and politicians to network and explore new opportunities. It will, says Bell, ensure that NewcastleGateshead is not just

The Great Exhibition of the North takes place June 22-September 9.

❝It will put NewcastleGateshead on the radar❞

It will open when an 80-metre long water fountain springs into life on the River Tyne. Reaching the height of the Tyne Bridge, the dramatic display has been commissioned to showcase the collaboration between industry and art which runs through the entire programme. Inspired by The Angel of the North, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, three newly commissioned musical compositions will provide a soundtrack to the water fountain, each premiered on the evening of June 22. Renowned writer, poet and playwright Lemn Sissay will unveil a specially commissioned anthem for the North on the opening night and an arrival film telling the inspiring story of the North will have its world debut, projected in large scale at the quayside. Following the opening event, the water sculpture, arrival film and anthem for the North will be available to enjoy every day during the exhibition. During the free exhibition, walking trails focusing on arts and culture, design and innovation will showcase exciting ideas from across Northern England. The event also includes a display of iconic objects, including John Lennon’s Record Plant piano and the spacesuit worn by the first Briton in space, Sheffield-born Helen Sharman, which will both go on show at the Great North Museum. Stephenson’s iconic Rocket will return to its birthplace in Newcastle for the first time in more than 150 years, and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid will present an exhibition of new work at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. contact   37


John Lennon’s piano

Great Exhibition of the North_Rocket The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

the place to be this summer, but establish the North as the region to be seen to be doing business in long-term. “It will put NewcastleGateshead on the radar,” she says. “The Business Expo will showcase northern ingenuity and innovation in the arts, design and culture, offering businesses the chance to talk about the opportunities, challenges and future economic prospects which need to be tackled to create a sustainable economy. “A key reason we have brought current innovation into the Great Exhibition of the North is as a means of ensuring there is a reason for businesses to be involved and grow economically as a result.” This, she says, makes this great exhibition different from past namesakes in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 1851 Great Exhibition, organised in part by Prince Albert offered a marketplace in which many nations could show off 38 contact

Detail of Helen Sharman's Zvezda Sokol spacesuit © Science Museum Group

their industrial prowess and proclaim their achievements. The Festival of Britain in 1951 aimed to lift post-war morale, while the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition in Newcastle, just before the start of the Great Depression, celebrated in part different cultures from within a British empire which at the time held sway over 412m people. The Great Exhibition of the North may well have been inspired by these expositions, but it is not, Bell states, about “bringing things from far flung places,” even if its goal is to attract businesses and tourists from them. “This is about what the different cultures and communities in the North are doing that is so great,” she says. “It is an opportunity for institutions across the North to show and share potentially world-changing developments which usually happen behind closed doors.”

❝This is a once-ina-lifetime thing❞

A consortium comprising NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), Sage Gateshead, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, and the North East Cultural Partnership pulled together the bid to host the event, beating off competition from Blackpool, Bradford and Sheffield. The Government has given £5m towards the exhibition, and to date public, European and private money has gathered £11.5m of the £14m needed. An £813,100 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been awarded to TWAM to bring the story of the North of England to life, Virgin Trains is a premier partner, Newcastle Airport is a supporting partner, and law firms Ward Hadaway and Womble Bond Dickinson are providing legal support. Bell is not worried about the financial

shortfall, “given the significant achievements we have made in the 12 months from the initial announcement,” and is confident the target figure will be reached. “When you go out and talk to people and say it’s a chance for the North of England to shout about itself and its achievements, they get it,” she says. “We are talking about the ground-breaking things happening in the North now, like the innovative work in train design at Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe, which is transforming the world and the way people travel in the same way that Stephenson’s Rocket did.” Bell – who is building on her extensive experience and contacts as director of culture and major events at NGI in this role – says there were never any doubts about bidding to host the event, despite the cost and 18-month timescale. “Everyone could see that hosting it would bring a global profile and position the winning place at the very heart of the Northern Powerhouse,” she says. “It’s a big coup for us. It’s an opportunity for NewcastleGateshead to put itself on the map and make people aware of what is going on up here and in the wider North. This is a oncein-a-lifetime thing; it won’t happen in this way again. NewcastleGateshead is the canvas for the wider North.” Bell and her team are also looking beyond 2018 and the exhibition’s legacy, which has taken on a new importance given the Brexit vote. For example, an extensive school engagement programme that feeds into the national curriculum has been developed to inspire young people into careers they might never have done. “This is not looking at an insular North,” says Bell. “We want to build a more connected region by bringing people together, helping to change perceptions of the area and spending time celebrating not just the achievements of the past, but the ambition and drive of the present that is going to shape and change all our futures.” contact   39


Recipe for success

Kay Wilson meets Andrew Tomlinson to discover how a fruitless search for a German grill resulted in the establishment of a global force in homewares When Andrew Tomlinson was 17, he had no work, no money for his electric meter, and he was living in the next street to the one where the notorious TV programme Benefits Street was set. Today, he has a multi-million-pound kitchenware, garden and homewares business, Andrew James, which exports to 80 countries from its new £8m warehouse in Seaham, Co Durham. How? Well, he has an innate entrepreneurial drive which got him out of his bedsit as a teenager to create his first business, supported by the Princes Trust, supplying prepared vegetables for local pubs and hotels. A huge success, by the time Tomlinson was 20 he employed 14 people. But a bad debt caused major cash flow problems and the realisation that Tomlinson was lacking financial skills. So, he sold the company and enrolled on a business management HND at Sunderland University. “I was worried about whether I would cope intellectually and if it would be snobby, to be honest,” he says. “On the first day we were told our work was going to be delivered over a semester and I had no idea what one of those was, so I asked the person next to me. He said he had no clue either and from that point forward I knew I need have no fears.” He completed the HND, then a degree at 40 contact

Northumbria University and a series of jobs in sales and then logistics followed before his late 20s, when the eureka moment which resulted in the formation of Andrew James came. At a dinner party hosted by his cousin James Buckle, Tomlinson was impressed by a raclette grill from Germany, but when he tried to buy one he found it was not available in the UK. So, he and Buckle went into business, buying 3,000 raclette grills and putting £15,000 on a credit card to get the business started. After spending £7,000 on newspaper advertising which resulted in just three sales, they embarked upon selling the grills, at this point stored in a garage, at trade shows, travelling with their friend Barry Robertson, who still works for the business, to shows from the Good Food Show to the Royal Highland Show and many in between, learning the fine art of cookery demonstrations as they went. They opened a distribution depot in Ferryhill, Co Durham, which they outgrew in two years. A move

to Bowburn followed, which was outgrown in three years, to be replaced by another larger unit nearby, now overtaken by the new Seaham warehouse. Turnover increased at the same pace as their need for larger premises, increasing from £1.5m in 2010 to more than £20m today. The recession of 2007-09 killed the trade show market, but at the same time the online market, Amazon orders in particular, boomed. Tomlinson says: “The first Black Friday in 2012 brought us around £6m of orders to process in a short period of time. It was such an unprecedented amount of work it almost brought the business to its knees. We were literally in a position where we didn’t want more orders. “I knew then that if we were going to take advantage of all of this potential we had to be a slick operation on top of its logistics. “We can now process 28,000 orders a day

and store up to 3m items,” says Tomlinson. Company HQ, around the corner from the distribution centre in Seaham, has benefited from a £900,000 investment which includes a demonstration kitchen, and a Hong Kong office will open soon to help source new kitchenware products. The hard work has brought accolades including a Sunday Times Fast Track 100 award for Effective Use of Capital, an HSBC Global Connections Regional Winner award, and a finalist’s place in the British Chambers of Commerce Business Awards 2015. With an eye on his own teenage ambitions, Tomlinson now supports a local school, The Peter Jones Academy in Peterlee, giving regular inspirational talks. “People told me I was a failure, but you need to brush it out of the way and do what you are enthusiastic and passionate about,” he says. “The success will follow.”

l-r Jonathon Aungiers, Barry Robertson, Andrew Tomlinson and Matthew Grey

contact   41

Commercial Profile

NorthumberlandCollege CollegeProvides Provides Northumberland anEnhanced EnhancedApprenticeship ApprenticeshipOff Offer an er to Employers to Employers Northumberland College has augmented

As one of the largest apprenticeship providers in the

region, the college with over Northumberland College has augmented its strong apprenticeship offerworks to now off er 1,000 employers its strong apprenticeship offer to now offering apprenticeships at Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5. apprenticeships in more than 50 subject areas.

offer apprenticeships in more than 50College subject areas. The already offers apprenticeship Frameworks in more

than subjects, but recently began the roll out of apprenticeship The40 College already offers apprenticeship Standards with subjects as diverse as Hospitality Catering to Frameworks in more than 40 subjects, butand recently Furniture Manufacturing. began the roll out of apprenticeship Standards with subjects as diverse as Hospitality and Catering to Susan Goldstein, Director of the Apprenticeship Academy at Furniture Manufacturing. Northumberland College, said: "Apprenticeships offer a fantastic Susan Goldstein, Director the Apprenticeship opportunity for employers to of recruit and further develop staff Academy at Northumberland College, said:organisation's with the skills and expertise needed for their "Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for success. employers to recruit and further develop staff with the “For individuals, regardless of their age or background, skills and expertise needed for their organisation's apprenticeships offer access to structured industry-standard success. learning and qualifications.” “For individuals, regardless of their age or background, The College’s Apprenticeship Academy aims to support apprenticeships offer access to structured apprentices in achieving their career educational goals and industry-standard learning and and qualifications.” atThe the College’s same time Apprenticeship help employers toAcademy meet current andto future skills aims needs. support apprentices in achieving their career and educational and atapprenticeship the same timeproviders help As one of goals the largest in the employers to meet current and future skills needs.

The Apprenticeship Academy works in partnership region, theCollege's college works with Training over 1,000 employers offering with the Business Solutions team to apprenticeships at Levels 2, 3, 4 andadvice 5. provide bespoke information, and support to employers and their Academy apprentices. The Apprenticeship works in partnership with the College's Business Training team Susan says: “Standards focusSolutions on job skills andto provide bespoke information, advice and support employers and their competency with exacting End PointtoAssessment, apprentices. which, while incorporating flexibility for employers, ensures apprentices well-rounded to Susan says: “Standardsare focus on job skillsand andable competency perform better in their roles.” which, while incorporating with exacting End Point Assessment, flexibility for employers, apprentices are well-rounded The College provides ensures full advice and support to and able to perform betterto in the theirApprenticeship roles.” employers in relation Levy and Therecently College provides full advice and£14m support to employers in has invested more than in industry standard facilities and learning across relation to the Apprenticeship Levy environments and has recently invested its campuses. more than £14m in industry standard facilities and learning environments across itsto campuses. Employers wishing find out more about Employers wishing to find out more about apprenticeship training should contact theapprenticeship College's training should contact the College's Business Training Business Training Solutions team on 01670 841Solutions 268 or email team on 01670 841 268 or email


THEIR FUTURE Supporting your training needs

Advice on the Apprenticeship Levy

Apprenticeships, Up-Skilling, Professional Accreditation, CPD, Degree Level Courses and BSRS Recruitment Service

Talk to us about how we can support your business training needs and recruitment of the right people...

T. 01670 841268 E. 42 contact


Apprenticeships and training This month we highlight the businesses, educators and training providers which are supporting the region’s workforce

contact   43


Recruitment drive

Businesses looking to recruit high quality young people for apprenticeship roles are being urged to consider employing Sea, Army & Air cadets. “The Sea, Army & Air cadets in the region are as close to 'work ready' as I think any young person can be,” says Lt Col Andy Black from the Cadet Apprenticeship Pathway programme. “Through a range of personal development activities they demonstrate those life skills needed from a young talent pool by employers.” Across the North East and Yorkshire there are 7,500 Army cadets, 2,500 Air cadets and 700 Sea cadets from 13-18-years-old. For more information visit www.cap-uk. or email

Funding boost for Tees Valley employers

Success story The diverse opportunities for businesses and young people through apprenticeships are highlighted by the impact of training delivered by Northern Skills Group. The training and apprenticeship arm of Middlesbrough College has become the largest apprenticeship provider in the North East, serving a number of industries in the region and beyond since its launch in 2016. Northern Skills Group has now worked with more than 2,000 employers, training more than 2,500 apprentices. Peter Wilson, director of Northern Skills Group, explains: “The businesses we work with understand how vital apprenticeships are to securing their future..” Northern Skills Group delivers apprenticeship training in a wide range of disciplines – including traditional industries for apprentices as well as delivering programmes in project management, credit management, dental nursing, leadership & management, business administration and health & care. Among the firms working with Northern Skills Group is Parkdean Resorts, the UK’s largest holiday park operator, which currently has 36 apprentices training across a number of disciplines.  Northern Skills Group also works closely with international accounting and payment systems company Sage to support its apprenticeship delivery. Employing more than 13,000 people across 23 countries, Sage currently has a group of 92 apprentices being trained in accounting, customer service and business administration.

Stars of the future Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen visits apprentices James Williams (left) and Dave Hennessey (centre) at Bridgeman IBC

Tees Valley employers working in key sectors are being encouraged to recruit apprentices through a new grant scheme. The £1.3m Apprenticeship Support for Employers (ASE) scheme is provided by Tees Valley Combined Authority and offers opportunities for employers in key sectors to grow and develop their workforce. For more information visit 44 contact

Gateshead College has teamed up with local primary schools to help develop the next generation of computer experts as part of worldwide Computer Science Week. Gateshead College software development students and teaching staff hosted a special event for children from primary schools Rowlands Gill and Bede Community to introduce them to the worlds of computer coding, robots, packet tracer and virtual reality. Kevin Marston, assistant principal for curriculum innovation at

l-r Gateshead College computing student Kelsey Andrews , Bede Primary School students Wayne Dale, Oliver Nieznanski, Kaiser Tanedo, and Gateshead College computing student Rhian Lukins

Gateshead College, said: “It is our responsibility to promote careers to children, providing them with the knowledge and understanding of the broad horizon of jobs they could have within STEM industries.”

Commercial Profile

Northern Skills Group marks first anniversary with top success rates Since its launch, the organisation has recruited an impressive 1,362 apprentices, with 133 of those apprenticeships at management level. Overall, Northern Skills Group apprenticeship success rate stands at 82.5% – well above the 67% national average. With a team of sector experts in-house Northern Skills Group provides tailored apprenticeship programmes, advice on the Apprenticeship Levy and a free recruitment service. Director Peter Wilson said: “Apprenticeships are a proven, cost effective way to increase business growth. By investing in skills businesses can bank future productivity gains.” Northern Skills Group is the product of Middlesbrough College’s acquisition of NECC Training – already a significant apprenticeship provider.

The North East Ambulance Service – an Apprenticeship Levy-payer – is just one organisation to benefit from its expertise. Nine apprentices have embarked on a year-long programme as ambulance care assistants – delivering inter-hospital transfers, hospital discharges and palliative care transport.

For more information on how Northern Skills Group can help your business, contact our business advisors on 03453 40 40 40 or

GIVE YOUR BUSINESS THE COMPETITIVE EDGE WITH APPRENTICESHIP SOLUTIONS FROM NORTHERN SKILLS GROUP Over 2000 employers are already working with us, join them and see how Northern Skills Group can grow your business through effective workforce development. With an apprenticeship you can: Employ new staff Improve skills of your existing team Ensure senior staff have recognised management qualifications

NEW TO APPRENTICESHIPS? Increase productivity Remain competitive in the market place

From accountancy to engineering, we specialise in over 100 types of apprenticeships.

Speak with one our Business Advisors for expert advice on the apprenticeship reforms and be at the forefront of the changes

Call 03453 40 40 40 or email



contact   45

46 contact

Commercial Profile

The changing shape of apprenticeships Sophie Pickup looks at the changing face and broadening appeal of Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for people to start, or move into, a new career. They have evolved significantly in recent years and many people have yet to notice. Whilst apprenticeships are still available for traditional technical and practical roles, they are now increasingly also a great option to ‘earn and learn’ for people who might previously have chosen a more academic route. Likewise, they offer an alternative to college for learning about subjects such as business, administration and customer service. Apprenticeships can also create valuable opportunities for people already in work to increase their knowledge, perform their current role more effectively, and open up more career options. They enable people to build up work experience, earn and gain a relevant qualification – up to as high level as Masters – all at once.  Someone doing a degree apprenticeship could end up leading a team before their peers studying at university have even started their career. We’ve examples of apprentices at Northumbrian Water who’ve taken on responsibility for a team or been promoted within a couple of years of completing their apprenticeship. Despite figures highlighted in the media recently, the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, is, in our experience, certainly encouraging larger employers to think differently about the way they recruit. The Levy, brought in to raise funds to support a growth in the number of apprentices in the UK, is creating new opportunities for universities, colleges and training providers to translate academic, vocationally-oriented qualifications into apprenticeships. Over the past few months at Northumbrian Water, we’ve started really challenging ourselves when recruiting: could more roles be suitable for apprenticeship recruitment? It’s early days, because there aren’t yet appropriate apprenticeships for all of the roles we could consider recruiting differently, it takes time to ensure teams are set up to support apprentices and we’ve seen some big changes already.  There is a real appetite to find a way to make apprenticeships work more effectively for us as a business and the individuals completing an apprenticeship. We currently have more than 50 apprentices gaining valuable experience with us, and we only anticipate that number growing. Undoubtedly, this is being reflected in other large employers.

As well as the shift in employers’ thinking, there also needs to be greater awareness among teachers and parents, who have the power to inspire and influence the choices of young people, about the reality of apprenticeships in the modern day. The myth that Apprenticeships are manual “fall back” options for those who choose not to, or who are told they “aren’t bright enough”, to go on to A Levels, is completely outdated. It is a much more positive, progressive option. Here in our sector, the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership has highlighted the need to bring in 221,000 new recruits to the industry by 2027. The ability of apprenticeships to meet those needs, not only in relationship to teenagers entering the sector, and certainly not solely through the traditional trade roles, is powerful indeed. Many of the young people who have joined us as apprentices over the years have developed skills and proved themselves to have the aptitude to be hugely valuable people within our industry for the long term, and the potential to expand this to new areas is very exciting. Sophie Pickup is Learning and Development Manager at Northumbrian Water.

To find out more about the types of careers that are available with Northumbrian Water, visit and click on “careers”, or visit contact   47

GREAT LEADERS NURTURED FROM WITHIN The Apprenticeship Levy provides your business with the opportunity to do something great for the future. Find and upskill talent consistently. We can support you to ‘Think Beyond the Levy’. E: W:


Focus Flying the flag

North East Futures UTC principal Dan Sydes

Super-school open day North East Futures university technical college welcomed a full house of young people at its first major open day ahead of its launch this autumn. More than 350 budding developers and would-be scientists filled the Boiler Shop in Newcastle to hear from leaders in the worlds of technology and science about how NEF will develop next generation talent. North East Futures UTC will open its doors in Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter this September and will provide spaces for some 600 young people from across the North East. Principal designate Dan Sydes, who joined North East Futures from Reading’s Ofsted Outstanding UTC, said: “It was fantastic to see so many young people and their families coming to hear about the new UTC. The excitement in the room was palpable and we are looking forward to welcoming many of the young people we met when they join us in September.” Staff from games giant Ubisoft were on hand to demonstrate live gaming, answer questions about the latest releases, and share their own stories of how they got into the tech sector. Representatives from a wide range of NHS services, corporate computing specialist Accenture and FTSE 100 software firm Sage were also at the event, explaining how the UTC will help them recruit talented people in the future.

Apprenticeship honours Northumbria University has developed partnerships with organisations in the region to facilitate degree apprenticeships . The university is facilitating degree apprenticeship partnerships with organisations including Balfour Beatty, Durham County Council, Foster + Partners, HMRC, NHS

Business Services Authority, Turner and Townsend, Tech Partnership and Vertu Motors. The university currently offers three degree apprenticeships - in Chartered Surveying, Chartered Management and Digital and Technology Solutions and is developing its offering further.

Principal Darren Hankey with Hartlepool College students

Hartlepool College of Further Education has been shortlisted for the Apprenticeship Programme of the Year at the TES Further Education Awards 2018. The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry and the college has been recognised for its strategic and innovative delivery of apprenticeships, as well as its commitment to support its students and business partners. The College works with more than 500 firms.

Skills catalyst

Teesside University is to receive a share of a multi-million pound national funding initiative aimed at developing new courses to teach the skills of the future. Universities and colleges across the country are set to benefit from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund programme. In total, £6.1m has been awarded for institutions to develop new and enhanced courses. Teesside University will receive upwards of £160,000 for a project to help grow the bioscience sector. The project will be delivered through the National Horizons Centre (NHC), a new £22m Universityled centre of excellence - due to open in Darlington in early 2019. contact   49

Develop your people. Shape the future. Degree Apprenticeships

路 Chartered Manager 路 Chartered Surveyor 路 Digital and Technology Solutions 路 New areas are in development which

include Construction, Project Management, Accounting and Law.


Focus First stage

l-r Kieran Wilson, Harry Renwick and Shaun Baxter

Three young engineers have taken their first steps on the career ladder after being selected to join a four-year apprenticeship with Stagecoach North East. The local bus operator has taken on Harry Renwick, Kieran Wilson and Shaun Baxter to train at its depots in Newcastle, Teesside and South Shields - where they will learn all aspects of vehicle maintenance through their workshop experience, preparing vehicles for the road, conducting MOTs and making repairs. Gary Chisholm, engineering director at Stagecoach, said: “Our apprenticeship programmes give us the chance to nurture the best talent in the area. It is vital that we give our young people a chance to fulfil their potential, learn new skills and be ready for the world of work.”

Tees valley apprentice funding

Brenda McLeish (Learning Curve Group CEO), centre, with l-r Jon Cummins (LCG commercial director), Janeen Nevison (LCG head of apprenticeship levy services), Nicole Bewley (LCG director of business support) and Liz Kitson (LCG director of employability and skills)

Back-to-back winners

Training and recruitment provider Learning Curve Group has successfully defended the Education Business of the Year award at the national EducationInvestor Awards. The Bishop Auckland-based company was praised by judges for its ability to respond to market changes - including its use of e-learning and development of the apprenticeship academy model - and for its work in the UK’s vocational training sector. The award adds to the success LCG has enjoyed throughout 2017, including securing a number of Apprenticeship Levy partnerships with blue chip companies. Brenda McLeish, CEO of LCG, said: "To successfully defend the Education Business of the Year award is such a fantastic achievement. Our team work so hard to ensure that we deliver on our vision of transforming lives through learning.” The company has 300 employees and more than 250 associates, and delivers vocational training in a range of subjects. It also delivers apprenticeship training and has skills centres in Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Yorkshire and Leeds - where it works with people not in education, employment or training.

Inspiring the next generation

The TTE Technical Training Group has secured funding from the Education & Skills Funding Agency to support Tees Valley SMEs recruiting and training apprentices. The funding, part of £650m available to the ESFA, is accessible to all SMEs which do not pay into the Apprenticeship Levy from January 2018 to March 2019. TTE has a strong reputation for the delivery of industry-based vocational training programmes with a 96% apprenticeship success rate of young people completing their training programmes.

Northumberland College has launched a series of STEM events to encourage young people to progress to higher education. Delivered by the college as part of the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme, a consortia of all the universities and colleges in the North East, the first FutureMe event brought together science and geography students from Berwick Academy and Prudhoe High School, and students from the College’s STEM and countryside management programmes, at the college’s new £2.5m STEM Centre. Activities included a conference call with the manager of the Bonner

lr Emma Croft, Jillian Rees and Maria Avila (Northumberland College), Lewis Cuthbertson and Lucie Malard (PhD Science students from Northumbria University) and Northumberland College science students (in the lab coats)

Laboratory in Rothera research station in the Antarctic Peninsula and the chance to conduct a series of experiments looking at the effects of climate change. Further FutureMe events are planned later this year. contact   51

Commercial Profile


Training provider aims to change how businesses approach Apprenticeship Levy Learning Curve Group (LCG), one of the country’s largest training providers, is encouraging Apprenticeship Levypaying employers to ‘Think Beyond the Levy’ in their approach to the recent reforms. The Apprenticeship Levy, introduced in May last year, has had a huge impact on the way that employers approach apprenticeship training. For large employers, with a wage bill over £3 million, they must contribute 0.5% of this to the Levy, which must be used for apprenticeship training. The team at LCG see the importance of employers fully understanding the Levy, as it can heavily impact their existing training and development strategy. Recently launching their ‘Beyond the Levy’ initiative, LCG is leading the way in supporting employers with a full service offering, and going beyond just apprenticeship training. LCG is one of the only providers that offer the breadth of programmes which include; fully funded vocational training, ‘pathways to employment’ schemes, campaigns to boost English and mathematics skills or a programme to develop awareness of Equality and Diversity in the workplace. As part of the ‘pathways to employment’ provision, LCG also offer the option of Sector-Based Work Academies. These are set up to accommodate the needs of the client, and allow unemployed individuals the chance to train and upskill, with real job prospects with the company at the end. North East housebuilding giant Bellway plc are an early Apprenticeship Levy partner and have worked closely with LCG to deliver their new apprenticeship schemes. With dozens of vacancies created around the North East and nationwide, LCG is also supporting Bellway with the recruitment of apprentices, as well as offering pre-apprenticeship courses through their North East Skill Centres. Learning Curve Group CEO, Brenda McLeish, said: “We have worked closely with Bellway to develop a fantastic proposition for both new and existing employees, with a range of training solutions to suit their learning and development needs. Our vision is ‘transforming lives through learning’, and I look forward to developing this long-term relationship with Bellway and seeing the apprentices and other team members flourish.” LCG has received Government funding to deliver apprenticeship training and is engaging with hundreds of SME’s and providing a wide-range of courses.

To find out more about how LCG can help your business, email or visit www. 52 contact

Dr Susan Laing

Building the next generation of entrepreneurs Teesside University Business School has launched a new MBA programme which aims to build the region’s entrepreneurial skills The course is the flagship programme for the newly launched Business School and brings together local, national and international leaders with experience in management to learn how to manage complex business challenges in today's global economic environment. The course is offered in a full-time or flexible format with each cohort undertaking international study alongside MBA students at a host university overseas. Partnerships are planned in Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai.  Employers who pay the apprenticeship levy can take advantage of the MBA through the Professional Manager Degree Apprenticeship.  The MBA launch is part of a wider programme of investment which will see the creation of a new £21m home for the school under its new dean Dr Susan Laing, more new courses, and new flexible ways of working with employers.

Looking to the future

Michelle Lagar (Beamish), Ivan Jepson (Gateshead College) and Celyn Williams (Beamish)

Co Durham open-air museum Beamish is investing in the future of its workforce after implementing free business skills training. Delivered by Gateshead College as part of Go>Grow,

a regional skills and enterprise programme, the free training includes short courses on SEO, Excel and Microsoft Access. Dozens of employees are benefiting from free training as the museum undertakes the £18m Remaking Beamish project, which aims to boost visitor numbers and create new jobs with the addition of new exhibits and the expansion of several areas of the museum.

Commercial Profile

WSP-Investing in Teesside apprentices WSP, the global professional service and engineering consultant, is seeking talented individuals over the age of 16 to be based in Middlesbrough to join its award winning apprentice programme. WSP offers apprenticeships for school leavers as well as degree apprenticeships throughout its UK offices. The apprenticeships are full time, permanent roles with clear progression pathways over various technical disciplines, from engineering to commercial. Apprentices continue their education whilst gaining valuable work experience and have the opportunity to study relevant qualifications ranging from a BTEC Level 3 through to a master’s degree. Two Middlesbrough based WSP apprentices, who have taken different technical paths share their experiences so far: Tom Clark, aged 19, joined WSP Project and Commercial Services in Middlesbrough as a degree apprentice in 2017 and will soon be hitting his one year milestone. He is currently working as a quantity surveyor based on the petrochemical plant, Lucite International on Teesside, who produce acrylic based products such as Perspex, and is part of a team responsible for managing the finance relating to the mechanical, fabrication, rigging, electrical and installation contract. He explains: “Quantity surveying allows me to get involved in the commercial aspects of the contract at Lucite. The information I produce informs the client on the financial performance each month. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and I’m looking forward to progressing both my work experience and education with WSP”

Katie McQuade is a 17-year old, who joined WSP Structures in Middlesbrough as a school leaver apprentice in civil design engineering five months ago. Katie comments: “My role involves reviewing and analysing different building structures, working with different materials such as steel and reinforced concrete and modelling buildings according to the client’s requirements. I find it very rewarding as it’s improving and shaping the world we live in for future generations.” By choosing an apprenticeship with WSP, Katie has joined a team that is pushing technical boundaries to come up with innovative solutions on construction projects.

If you’re interested in a stimulating career in STEM with the chance to work on important regional projects, nationally significant infrastructure projects and the opportunity to travel in the future visit: source=homepage&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=apprenticeships_uk_2018

Stephenson House, High Force Road, Riverside Park Industrial Estate, Middlesbrough TS2 1RH Phone: 01642 356688

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Cruise control Autonomous car technology is developing rapidly, and with it the prospect of driverless cars comes closer, says Jane Pikett Time was, I could park my car without the danger of distraction from deafening sensors and dashboard graphics, and wrap it around a car park pillar whenever I chose (ie, yesterday, but that’s another story). If you have a newish car, chances are it can keep itself in lane, maintain its distance from the vehicle in front, and park itself, which in my opinion simply further de-skills the driving public, but then the sizeable dent in my car’s offside rather makes the case for all these things. This brings me to the subject of driverless cars which, if we are to believe the hype, are the next big thing. No longer restricted to the likes of Google and Waymo, all the big names in motoring are experimenting with increasingly sophisticated autopilot technology. Take BMW, which is testing a 5 Series prototype capable of driverless straight line motorway driving, lane changes and all, at 120kph. It’s not the finished article by any means – the driver has to take over in unexpected situations such as roadworks or lane alterations – but it provides a glimpse of the near future. In the US, Waymo’s prototype driverless cars are already familiar in Arizona, where there are no restrictions on self-driving cars. Waymo has also just announced it is to start testing its vehicles in Atlanta – its 25th test city in eight years – and it expects to start carrying passengers in the coming months. Meanwhile, Apple is expanding its fleet of self-driving cars in California to 27 Lexus SUVs, though it is still playing catch-up with the fasterdeveloping Waymo, Lyft, Tesla and Ford. Volkswagen, Merc and Audi have been testing autonomous car technology for years now, VW’s autonomous concept Sedric causing a major stir at the Geneva Car Show last March. Sedric, which has no pedals or steering

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wheel and comes when you summon it with your smartphone, is described by VW as a “cross-brand ideas platform” which means its technology may appear in the group’s brands including Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Skoda. Ranging in sophistication from levels 1 to 5, Honda says it wants to have a level 3 autonomous car on the market this year, and a level 4 model by 2025. Honda’s CEO of R&D in Japan, Yoichi Sugimoto, has said: “We want highway autonomy by 2020, and want an accident-free society. By eradicating human error, 90% of collisions will be avoided.” That 90% stat remains to be proven, but the increasing intelligence of cars is inarguable. Toyota and Hyundai are following close behind Honda, while Airbus is working with automotive development company Italdesign on the Pop.Up which can move on the ground and in the air, which means no more traffic jams, at least on the road. The word in the trade is that the major car companies are competing to hit the market with autonomous cars by 2020, which may sound somewhat pie in the sky, but there is no doubt we can expect to see increasingly sophisticated concepts unveiled in Geneva in March. Back to BMW, and its semi-autonomous 5 Series Touring, launched at Geneva last year, is the closest you’ll get to autonomy on the road today. Adaptive cruise control keeps the gap between it and the car in front at a safe distance, active lane-keeping and collision warning systems keep you on the straight and narrow, and you can operate remote-controlled parking using the key fob. The new systems providing steering and lane control assistance up to 130mph effectively mean the car is capable of driving itself. Tomorrow’s world, it appears, is just around the corner.

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Motoring World’s first graphene for vehicles Lookers named one of the best places to work National motor retailer Lookers has been recognised as one of the UK’s Best Places to Work in 2018. The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards rely solely on the input of employees, who provide feedback on their jobs, work environments and companies via Glassdoor. Lookers features in sixth place overall - ahead of Apple (UK) Limited, which is in 9th place, Rentokil (7th place) Hiscox Insurance (8th place) and HomeServe (10th place).

University of Sunderland academic Ahmed Elmarakbi has successfully produced the world’s first prototype composite component. Elmarakbi, professor of Automotive Composites, is leading Task 10.11 – Composites for Automotive, part of the European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technology Flagship. The project is exploring how graphene, which is just one atom thick and a million times thinner than human hair, could be used to create lighter, stronger, safer and more energy-efficient vehicles. Sunderland, leading a consortium of five research partners from Italy, Spain and Germany, over the last two years has been conducting a series of tests with support from Centro Ricerche CRF of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, analysing the properties of Graphene and it uses in vehicle production. Taking the bumper of the car, Graphene was embedded into a polymer and mixed with traditional

Prof Ahmed Elmarakbi

carbon fibre or glass fibre structural material, which led to changes in its properties, making it lighter, stronger and tougher, allowing the researchers to reduce the thickness of the components. Prof Elmarakbi said: “The results in the first stages are significant; we achieved a lot more than we ever anticipated. The material is very light and very strong.” The ultimate prize will be new lightweight components for vehicles, which will lead to significantly lower fuel consumption and emissions.


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Claire Clough and Paul Lee

Rosemary Anderson and Tony Luckett, managing partner at Clive Owen LLP’s Darlington office

l-r Roger Crosby, Mark Gubbins and Ben Crosby

Business communications and systems specialist Cellular Solutions has strengthened its Direct Marketing Unit with the appointment of Angela Anderson, Claire Clough and Paul Lee to support building the Sunderlandheadquartered organisation’s presence in target sectors.

Chartered accountant Rosemary Anderson has joined Clive Owen LLP as a partner advising on corporate tax matters and personal tax for high net worth clients. Anderson brings with her more than 26 years’ experience and will be working with clients across the region.

Catering supplier Crosbys has appointed Mark Gubbins its new MD. A chartered accountant with strong hospitality experience, Gubbins joins the expanding Newcastle business to lead the 46-strong team having moved from his role as finance director at bar, restaurant and hotel operator The Gainford Group.

Stuart Cottee

l-r Ian Scott Bell with Digital Allies MD Steven Parker

l-r Lee Bramley, Sharon Hutchinson, Paul Bury and Stephen Elliott

Digital asset

Top team

Business advisory expert Deloitte has appointed Stuart Cottee as practice senior partner for the North East and Yorkshire. An experienced tax partner, who has worked for Deloitte for 24 years across a range of roles, Cottee led Deloitte’s tax practice in the North East for 10 years until 2015.

Houghton-le-Spring-based digital marketing business Digital Allies has appointed Ian Scott Bell to its senior management team. Scott Bell joins the team, and the board as an investor, having worked in senior business roles at Procter and Gamble, Nigel Wright, and Sedbergh School in Cumbria.

Endeavour Partnership has a new management team after the most successful year in the firm’s history. Paul Bury, remains as managing partner at the Stockton-based business law firm with Lee Bramley, finance partner; Stephen Elliott, HR partner and Sharon Hutchinson as operations director.

Chris Hind

Libbie Henderson

National accountancy firm Haines Watts has appointed Chris Hird as an associate partner to bolster its team in Darlington. With experience across corporate finance and general practice, Hind qualified as a chartered accountant in 2007 and has worked with a broad spectrum of businesses.

Independent law firm Muckle LLP has appointed a new partner Libbie Henderson, and solicitors Janine Slesser and Nikita Bos to its construction team. Henderson was head of real estate at Watson Burton, Bos has been recruited from Winns Solicitors and Slesser from Muckle's paralegal team.

Magic number

Best practice

New associate partner

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It all adds up

l-r Keith Bishop, Janine Slesser and Nikita Bos

Teaming up

Catering for growth

l-r Laura Foster, Andrew Esson and Craig Huntingdon

Howdy partners Laura Foster, Craig Huntingdon and Andrew Esson have joined RTC North as Scaleup North East Partners to help lead the new programme. The partners will use their business experience to unlock the potential of the North East’s most progressive businesses.

Mark Sowerby

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, Jonathan Ruffer and Dr Charles Adams, Professor of Physics, Durham University

Durham honours Philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, filmmaker Chris Terrill and children’s champion Wendy Shepherd have been awarded honorary doctorates by Durham University. Receiving the awards alongside more than 1,300 students from over 70 countries at Durham Cathedral, Ruffer was made an honorary doctor of letters, Terrill was awarded an honorary doctorate of science, and Shepherd was made an honorary doctor of civil law. Jonathan Ruffer has become renowned

in the region for his establishment of The Auckland Project which has seen huge investment in new projects for Bishop Auckland. He is also a fellow of St John’s College, Durham University. Chris Terrill is a pioneering anthropologist, adventurer, author and filmmaker. Wendy Shepherd has devoted decades to improving the situation of children, young people and vulnerable adults who have experienced sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking.

Money matters Esh Group has appointed Mark Sowerby as chief financial officer. He joins the Co Durhamheadquartered construction company to lead the £242m turnover, multi-disciplinary group’s finance function. Having trained with KPMG, Sowerby had worked with engineering consultancy WS Atkins plc for more than 21 years, most recently as finance director of its worldwide project management business Faithful+Gould.

A new venture

Michelle Cooper

Northstar Ventures investment director Michelle Cooper has been appointed the new chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation. Copper will take over in February and is aiming to build on the success of the organisation, which awarded a record £3.5m to individuals and community groups in Co Durham and Darlington last year, and now manages 215 charitable funds. She succeeds Barbara Gubbins CBE, who is stepping down after nine years.

New Year’s Honours Buisness leaders recognised in the New Year’s Honours List included, CBE: Northern Matthew Boyle Housing Consortium chief executive Jo Boaden; Gateshead College principal Judith Doyle; Lakes Distillery chairman Nigel Mills; North Tyneside mayor Norma Redfearn; Redcar and Cleveland Council chief executive Amanda Skelton; South Tyneside College chief executive Lindsey Whiterod and former Sage Northern Europe managing director Jacqueline De Rojas. OBE: Sevcon’s chief executive Matthew Boyle and Stan Higgins, lately NEPIC chief executive.

Judith Doyle

Nigel Mills

l-r Luke Robinson, Marivel Burden, Emily Kelly and Ellie Woodhead

Six of the best

Alnwick-based contract research and development organisation Arcinova has announced a major expansion of its Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) department with the recruitment of six new scientists. Arcinova, which provides services for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, has appointed Luke Robinson, Ellie Woodhead and Lucy Carruthers as analytical scientists; Hannah Reed as a manufacturing scientist; and Emily Kelly and Marivel Burden as microbiologists. contact   59

Events Chamber Exchange

Chamber Showcase at the North East Expo November 8, Newcastle Falcons

March 8, Darlington Rugby Football Club, 11:00-14:00, FREE The Chamber’s flagship networking event encouraging an exchange of experiences, ideas and offers. A round-table networking event with two table changes, held the second Thursday of each month across the region. At the first table Sharing a Success - delegates are encouraged to share a recent business success. At the second table - Discussing a Challenge - delegates are encouraged to discuss current or recent challenges, how you may have overcome this challenge or if someone is facing a current challenge, those around the table are encouraged to offer advice and guidance. Chamber staff including senior management and partners will lead each table.

Ashley Thirlwell (Ramside Hall) and Christine Wood (Aon)

Sue Han (Westfield Health)

Gabrielle Morris (North East Art Collective)

Graeme Tennick (GT Accountancy), Jess Crowe and Sam Grigg (Blusky Tax)

Bethany Williams (The Laundrette) and Chloe Page (The Office Rocks)

Venue sponsor

Be part of upcoming Chamber events

Karen Berry, Nynzi Maung and Laura Farrey (Dept International Trade)

Mick Johnson, John Atkinson and Jonpaul Heron (NBSL)

The Chamber has various opportunities for event sponsorship. For more information contact Tom Warnock, tom.warnock@, tel 0771 484 5617

Rachael Richie (Qdos) 60 contact

Abby Robinson and Will Nash (Parkinson's UK)

Sophia Gowland and Andy Taylor (Espressoweb)

NBSL Digital Marketing & Social Media Masterclasses November 22&29, Beamish Hall

Clair Elvin (Marmax Products), Rachael Dixon (All UK Adjusters) and Olivia Stephenson (Adderstone Management)

Nicky Gibson (KG Photography) and James Houlder (Polymer Compounders)

Daniel Briggs (CIL Europe), Daniela Nastase (Westwray Recruitment), Alan Jones (Copperchase), Kelly Skaife (Ford Castle Adventure)

Chamber Exchange December 1, sponsored by North East Growth Hub and Copthorne, supporting Cash for Kids

Ken Ellington (Copthorne Hotel) and Amy West (Cash for Kids)

Debbie Craig and Michael Dickinson (Dickinson Media)

Milly Bond (Northumbrian Water) and Amy West (Cash for Kids)

Melissa Bourseau and Faiza Ariech (The Language Centre)

Paul Tute (Boomerang Consulting) and Christopher Elliot-Newman (First Standard)

Chamber Exchange December 14, sponsored by Cornerstone and Blackwell Grange, supporting Butterwick Hospice

Lucy Critchlow (Dependable Productions), Matt Prosser (Go Limitless) and Andy Davis (Trident Manor)

Alison Gittins (Durham Business Group) and Margaret Bradshaw-Gill (Redbutton Marketing)

Patricia Boynton (Butterwick Hospice) and Victoria Taylor (Blackwell Grange)

contact   61





FEB 27

MAR 06

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ONE SUNDERLAND One Sunderland Small Business Expo, which takes place on February 15, 2018, is offering Chamber members event sponsorship packages for £225 (£300 for non-members).

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Last word

How the word on North East streets is keeping the Bank of England on track The North East may be geographically distant from the Bank of England’s head office in London, but agent Mauricio Armellini says it’s more interested than ever in how the region’s economy – in all its guises – is faring

Mauricio Armellini

Much has changed in the North East economy since 1828 when George Carr became the Bank of England’s first agent for the North East. From his office on the corner of Clavering Place and Bailey Gate in Newcastle city centre, George was charged with meeting with the region’s industrialists of the day and reporting back his findings to the bank’s governors in Threadneedle Street. It would be fascinating to read those early reports on how the region was faring at the height of the industrial revolution. Roll on the best part of two centuries and a great part of my role is much the same as that of George and my many other predecessors who’ve been lucky enough to hold the office since. Our North East agency today engages with more than 500 of the region’s organisations on a regular basis to listen to their perspective on a range of issues, from the strength of demand for their products and services, through to decisions on things such as investment, hiring, and access to finance.

"The Bank has a role to play in informing the wider community about economic issues"

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As you’d imagine, while our fundamental objective remains much the same, plenty has changed in the way we go about our intelligence gathering. Today it’s a more systematic process. For instance, we produce a series of qualitative measures of what we observe in the economy, and these are published in our regular agents’ summary of business conditions. We’ve also significantly broadened the range of organisations we talk to. And we’ve done this in a number of ways. First, as you’d expect we really value the insights we receive from the region’s largest businesses, but we realise that the bulk of the North East economy is made up of much smaller enterprises, which face quite different issues. So we strive to ensure we hear regularly from them, and we do this by talking directly to them, or through a number of round tables and events organised in conjunction with other bodies, like the North East England Chamber of Commerce. Second, broadening the range of businesses we talk to also helps us to understand how the economy is changing, as we enter what some commentators have described as the third industrial revolution.

If we neglect to talk to those companies engaged at the forefront of the emerging sectors of today then you might say it’d be the modern equivalent of George Carr ignoring the shipbuilders on the Tyne, Tees and Wear. Third, talking to businesses of different sizes and sectors is still not enough. We recognise that organisations in the third sector can provide a really important insight into what’s happening in the economy, especially amongst those facing financial hardship. And the third sector is also an increasingly important agent of economic activity in its own right, as a major employer and provider

of services, and one which faces its own particular challenges. So a lot of our time is dedicated to listening from a wide range of people about what’s going on across the North East. However, we aren’t just in listening mode all the time: the bank’s agents are also its voice in the regions, and on that we have a valuable role to play in helping to build understanding of what’s happening in the economy. Traditionally that activity has been heavily focused on talking to the business community, to help those running companies understand the outlook for the UK economy from the perspective of the contact   65

Last word

bank, which could help them make key decisions on investment and hiring etc. But our role on this front has also changed a lot. Increasingly, we recognise that the bank has a role to play in informing the wider community about economic issues, and not just the business community. Whilst ‘the economy’ might seem a dry concept to many people, once you start talking about jobs, pay and the prices of goods and services, then the voice of the bank begins to resonate. As a result you should begin to see much more of us talking to a wider range of groups across society. In the coming weeks we will formally launch a range of new education resources aimed at 14-16-year-olds who have had little or no economics or business teaching. To be clear, we don’t see this as a way of inspiring the next generation of brilliant economists who could one day go on to lead the Bank of England (though it would be great if it did). Rather it’s about explaining why the economy is relevant to us all, whether that’s in the context of thinking about your career prospects or understanding the way interest rates work 66 contact

when you take out a new credit card or mobile phone contract. And our materials for schools also help young people to think about decisionmaking more generally – skills that almost everyone should find useful in their lives, whatever they go on to do. You’ll also see more of us – be it agency staff or colleagues from head office – out and about in North East schools and colleges, talking about these issues and others. I have been surprised by how much I like doing this part of my job, which was totally unexpected when I first joined the bank. I’m not sure what George Carr would’ve made of it all. But we’re confident that, much as our banknotes have evolved over the last few years from paper to their modern polymer alternative, we need to continue to change how we engage with communities across the UK. As far as I’m concerned it’s never been more important that the North East economy – in all its guises – is well understood by institutions such as the Bank of England. And, on that, I think George and his successors would surely agree.

Beat the end of tax year rush Making the most of valuable tax reliefs As the end of the tax year gets closer there is a window of opportunity to make the most of valuable allowances, reliefs and exemptions that can help reduce your tax bill and make sure your finances stay tax efficient. Some of these allowances will be lost if not used before the tax year end on April 5 - and the sooner you claim them the better. Leaving planning until the eleventh hour increases the risk that you will discover you have left it too late and missed out on the chance to improve your financial position. Acting well before the tax year end means you can be sure that you are maximising your opportunities and minimising your stress. At Brewin Dolphin, our experts can work with you to incorporate tax-efficient investing within a broader tailor-made financial plan to make sure the allowances work best for you. We can help you put the money you save in tax to work harder elsewhere. The annual allowance is the limit on the amount of pension contributions that can be made each year and qualify for tax relief. In the 2017/18 tax year, the standard rule is that you can contribute the lower of your annual earned income, or £40,000. Currently the lifetime allowance is £1m. Any savings above this level when you begin to draw your pension will be subject to a lifetime allowance charge. For 40% tax payers the charge is 55%; for additional rate taxpayers it is even The personal savings allowance means that basic-rate taxpayers can earn up to £1,000 of interest on savings without having to pay any income tax. Higher-rate taxpayers can earn up to £500 interest tax free. Brewin Dolphin’s financial planners can help you to build a tax-efficient financial plan that ensures you are making the most of the reliefs and allowance available to maximise returns on pensions, savings and other investments. Our experts can also introduce you to tax specialists where appropriate.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please call 0191 230 7155 or email Leave it too late and you could really lose out. Brewin Dolphin Limited is a member of the London Stock Exchange and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Register reference number: 124444).

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Contact Magazine February - March 2018  

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Contact Magazine February - March 2018  

Contact Magazine February - March 2018