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PITCH PERFECT From terrace songs to Take That DRIVING AMBITION A fond farewell to a captain of industry OUTSIDE THE BOX Plans to transform the housing sector LEP OF FAITH The treasurer with regional wealth in mind


Filling two leadership roles can’t be easy, especially if one puts the demands of the nation’s directors on your shoulders BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS Introducing the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Magazine Six pages of news, views and insight


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04/05/2012 15:06

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BUSINESS QUARTER: SPRING 12: ISSUE 17 In this issue of BQ we look at the progress and prospects of the North East economy through the work done by One North East up to its recent demise, and the objectives laid out on behalf of the Local Enterprise Partnerships now. We welcome and interview exclusively Edward Twiddy on his imminent arrival as director of the North Eastern LEP, one of two bodies now covering the territory that One North East did. One of the encouraging indications from Edward Twiddy in these circumstances is that, like Stephen Catchpole his peer interviewed in BQ previously, there is acknowledgement that the two partnerships will be willing and able to work together for the common good of the entire North East, however much the Government may have wished to steer us away from joined-up regional thinking. It’s also good to learn the views of Ian Dormer, an indefatigable champion of North East industry, as he takes the national helm of the Institute of Directors. He is not only intimately acquainted with the challenges and ambitions of business in our part of the world, but also with the particular needs and opportunities of small and medium size enterprises too. We highlight the abilities also of two dynamic women entrepreneurs, Sarah Pittendrigh and Hayley Lumby, both of whom brighten their customers’ surroundings. On your behalf we say Sayonara to Trevor Mann, who’s now in Japan and destined perhaps for even greater things. He’s done a great job at Nissan – he and his colleagues – in driving the North East and indeed the entire British automotives industry forward in defiance of difficult times. We pay tribute also to two sterling companies forming our region’s marine insurance sector. By winning trust, building confidence and

offering superior service they command a sizeable slice of global business. Our thought provoking Live Debate centres on the critical issue of how we can raise even more quickly and more obviously the North East’s high performance in the field of healthy ageing. The worldwide reputation already gained over many years could be jeopardised unless the minds of decision makers are opened to the opportunities possible, and unless networking can be intensified among small businesses, academics alongside public sector representatives. Our debate participants have produced constructive and far from exorbitant proposals which, upon their acceptance, could benefit not only firms existing, but also inward investment to the region. On the lighter side, we acclaim Gary Hutchinson’s commercial acumen, which is building Sunderland’s reputation as a national centre of big name entertainment. It has taken him several years to get the show on the road. But that just shows how perseverance pays. We hope you enjoy the topics we’ve selected for your pleasure on this occasion. Brian Nicholls Editor

CONTACTS ROOM501 LTD Christopher March Managing Director e: George Cheung Director e: Euan Underwood Director e: Bryan Hoare Director e: EDITORIAL Brian Nicholls Editor e: Andrew Mernin e: DESIGN & PRODUCTION room501 e: PHOTOGRAPHY Kevin Gibson e: Chris Auld e: ADVERTISING If you wish to advertise with us please contact our sales team on 0191 537 5720, or email

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BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd.





Official fuel economy figures for the new BMW 3 Series Saloon range: Urban 25.4-57.6mpg (11.1-4.9l/100km). Extra Urban 46.3-80.7mpg (6.1-3.5l/100 km). Combined 35.8-68.9mpg (7.9-4.1l/100 km). CO2 emissions 186-109g/km.

*Offer is available to business users only, figures exclude VAT. Participating dealers only. Not available in conjunction with any other offer. Offer excludes service, maintenance and repair for the duration of the contract. Hiring example is based on a 36 month BMW Corporate Finance agreement for the model shown. A BMW 316d Sport Saloon, a deposit of ÂŁ2,070.00 followed by 35 monthly rentals of ÂŁ345.00, mileage charge in excess of contract mileage 10.38 pence per mile. All agreements are based on a contract mileage of 30,000 miles and include metallic paintwork. Vehicle condition charges may apply at the end of your agreement. Offer correct at the time of printing and may change without prior notification. All hiring is subject to status and available to over 18s in the UK (excluding the Channel Islands). Guarantees and indemnities may be required. Hiring facilities provided by BMW Financial Services, Europa House, Bartley Way, Hook, Hampshire, RG27 9UF. BMW EfficientDynamics reduces BMW emissions without compromising performance developments and is standard across the model range.



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316d Sport

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60 OUTSIDE THE BOX Jonathan Ryder’s masterplan which could transform the housing industry



Nissan’s Trevor Mann says Sayonara to his native North East

70 LIVE DEBATE How can we tap into the opportunities of an ageing population?

36 DIRECTOR’S CUT Institute of Directors chair Ian Dormer’s vision for a new business landscape

42 ON WITH THE STARS SAFC’s Gary Hutchinson on how he got the football club dancing to a new beat

48 SAILAWAY SUCCESS Why the region rules the waves in the marine insurance sector


100 BRUSHING UP The bank exec who’s painting a bright future in interior decorating

106 EDWARD THE FIRST An exclusive chat with the Treasury bighitter set for LEP leadership

114 SPEED DEMON Swapping the desk job for the thrill of the open road on two wheels






34 AS I SEE IT Redundancies should be avoided at all cost, argues Will Fatherley


52 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY Landmark deals and developments from the North East skyline



ON THE RECORD Who’s making headlines this quarter

12 NEWS Who’s doing what, when, where and why, here in the North East

27 ENTREPRENEURS’ FORUM MAGAZINE Welcome to the first edition of the Forum’s new look publication

Determined Sarah Pittendrigh talks bows, buttons and bankruptcy


CarEEr CHangEr’S nEW LOOk

Nick Shottel feels the wind - and rain in his hair in the Porsche 911 Carrera

88 EQUIPMENT Keeping watch on the luxury market

120 FRANK TOCK Gripping gossip from our backroom boy





Agency could one day return, support groups unite, start-up champion named, capital gains for Onyx, subsea but not substandard, law firm squares up, and culture call goes out

>> Regional development agencies have just been buried. Brian Nicholls wonders if they may have to rise again The 351 departing staff of the now disbanded regional development agency One North East left with an average £907 bonus – reasonable given their achievements against the bonuses of many bankers and their disservices. For almost 50 years off and on until now the North East, England’s smallest region, has had a dedicated home-ground team to guide the entity’s development. This need was acknowledged from the time prime minister Harold Macmillan’s Tory government worked with a North East Development Council set up in 1962 with former Labour MP, George Chetwynd as director. Chetwynd had given up a safe seat to serve the region. He and Macmillan had both represented Stockton as MPs. They knew well the challenges a heavily industrialised but economically declining region faced and felt for it. Even in the Thatcher years, when development corporations were centrally imposed on the North East and similarly pressed regions, that Tory government saw the value of continuing what became the North of England Development Council (NEDC). But today’s coalition government, however, recognises for the purpose only areas within, and shorn of powers, despite the Chancellor having had to hesitantly admit the existence of regions. So what did the last North East agency achieve before its doors slammed shut? One North East was set up in 1999. Far from maverick, it worked to a Regional Economic Strategy (RES) supported and subscribed to by the North East’s private, public and third sectors. It set out to narrow the economic gap between the North East and the English average. Hundreds of different organisations signed up to the RES, ONE’s role being to provide focus, leadership, coordination and investment. Over 13 years it shaped a £40bn regional economy now underpinned by world-class strengths in, for


example, process industries, low carbon and other advanced manufacturing. ONE nurtured activities of 21st Century promise. It put £200m into promoting sectors indicating long-term jobs, growth and wealth. Teesside was pinpointed for chemicals, Wearside for low carbon development and Tyneside for renewables. It also catalysed long overdue improvements to the region’s appearance. Its international marketing campaign, Passionate People, Passionate Places, has, since 2005, helped tourism become a £4bn-a-year industry here, employing more than 50,000 people and contributing 10% of the regional gross domestic product. ONE invested in firms regardless of size that promised returns for the common good. Its Grant for Business Investment in 2010 alone backed 156 companies with £13.8m to foster growth and expansion – all aimed at creating 1,500-plus new jobs and protecting 970 more. It secured match funding to deploy the £340m

>> Figuring it out Over 13 years, ONE has: Invested around £2.7bn into the North East economy Achieved a £4.50 economic return for every £1 invested Helped create or protect 160,000 jobs Helped create or attract 19,000 businesses Reprioritised £52m into frontline business support during the recession Regenerated 1,500 hectares of disused land, many to cultural icons such as the Sage and the Mima art gallery Established a £125m fund to support hundreds of small businesses Guided North East tourism into becoming a £4bn a year industry.


European Regional Development Fund 2007-2013. Foreign investment was attracted, the earlier lesson learned that global names like Siemens, Samsung and Fujitsu did not in themselves guarantee such permanence as Nissan and Komatsu had brought. Where inward investments did prove short-term, ONE worked to retrieve taxpayers’ money. Yet 56 inward investments were made in 2010-11 alone, promising £670m of benefit to the region. The team also worked closely with 500 key North East firms capable of advancement. Before 1999 the North East was the only English region with job levels declining, businesses becoming fewer and the lowest regional GVA per head (the contribution of workers to the economy). How things changed... From 1999 until the 2008 recession, the North East showed the highest economic growth outside London, stabilising the economic gap with the national average which for many years had been widening. Its employment rose at the third highest rate in the country It had the highest growth in the number of new businesses (18.7%) and GVA per head outside London. Midway through its existence, the National Audit Commission gave ONE a 22 point assessment out of 24, praised its achievements extensively and suggested it might have undersold its success in setting up centres of excellence. Some struggling firms it helped still succumbed. But that’s a fact of business life. Some feel, however, that although a government agency, it could have better avoided bureaucracy and jargon. Its concern for “spatial progress” suggested the region might be about to join the USA and Russia in planetary adventures. Often it stamped its brand unnecessarily on lesser matters. Others felt that while as a government agency, ONE occasionally sat at the government table and sometimes too >>

ON THE RECORD cosy there. It concurred with government expectations it would not rage publicly, even on burning issues, and it could have fought more publicly on the critical issue of infrastructure. Fire flared in the belly a year ago when Paul Callaghan, ONE’s last chairman appointed only four months earlier, said of the closure: “I think it a decision more about politics of the South East than economics of the North East.” ONE invaluably assimilated statistics and records. Unless someone else picks up this baton, beneficiaries will be those indifferent towards the widening once more of the North-South divide. But neither were Labour governments faultless. They formed


and perpetuated nine English agencies like ONE, even though some regions were affluent enough compared with those like the North East where genuine transitional problems existed. Ironically their agencies were less efficient, damaging the concept as a whole. Thus today’s government saw excuse to abolish all on a blanket but unjustifiable charge of cost ineffectiveness. Its power challenged on one side by the devolution of Scotland and Wales, and on the other by the growing influence of the EU, it will surely continue to centralise control over English regions, regardless of suggestion to the contrary. Regionalism may be down for now,

>> Triple endeavour

>> Onyx into London

Three support groups have joined forces to help to improve the performance of North East exporters. A consortium of North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), RTC North and the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) has a £3.6m contract from UK Trade & Investment to deliver export services across the region.

Onyx Group has bought a data centre at Slough to serve London and the M4 corridor. The Stockton group is developing its business in the financial services market, including banks and hedge funders. The new centre now gives Onyx six data centres across the UK.

>> Where growth focus lies Private equity backed companies expect to step up turnover and profit in 2012, says Paul Mankin, partner at PwC in the North East.

>> Dan’s a winner Dan Makaveli, founder of Media Savvy Training Solutions CIC, won best start-up award for a business in its early stages in the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards for the North East and Yorkshire. His Sunderland firm provides workshops helping young people in marginalised, hard to reach groups.

>> Access to capital The best places in Europe for raising capital to start a business have officially been named as Sweden, Switzerland and Finland by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


>> Growing success Entries are being invited for this year’s Culture for Success Awards. Contenders for the Service Network honours must show how they have inspired a culture for success over the past 12 months. These ninth awards celebrating North East achievement are open to any company, irrespective of sector, specialism or size - and both to Service Network members and non-members. Deadline for entries is May 8 (4pm). Details on:

>> Duco delights Duco which has a Tyneside operation has been named national Subsea Company of the Year.

>> Higher minimum Minimum wage rates for adults increase by 1.8% from £6.08 to £6.19 an hour from next October. Youth rates are unchanged.


and the North East itself pickpocketed (the transfer of a £100m property portfolio to the national bank of the Home and Communities Agency being an obvious instance). But if the North-South gap widens a rise from the dead may have to be contemplated, or at the very least a LEP evolution.

>> What do you think? Do you think the North East needs a regional development body to achieve the region’s maximum potential? E-mail your views to

>> Squaring up Square One Law will celebrate its first birthday in May with high-profile clients and its staff of 26. The Jesmond, Newcastle, firm’s clients include Miller UK of Cramlington, Shepherd Offshore of Newcastle and Nigel Mills, founder of the Mills Group, and current chairman of The Entrepreneurs’ Forum. SQ1’s co-founders – Ian Gilthorpe, Alan Fletcher and Robin Winskell – have five peer partners now in their ranks. The latest are Jeremy Swift (corporate, from Dickinson Dees) and Jean-Pierre Van Zyl (employment, from Short Richardson & Forth). They join property partners Barney Frith (ex-Watson Burton) and Simon Priestley (ex-Ward Hadaway), and private client partner Stuart Hamilton (ex-Ward Hadaway and Crutes). Senior partner Ian Gilthorpe says a firm of up to 50 people is envisaged. Square One has advised on the £5m sale of Yorkshire software firm Atlantic Global to a US group, and on fundraising for the North East movie Harrigan, starring Stephen Tompkinson. It also acted for Amplifon, the hearing aid specialists, on acquisitions and lease renewals for its 300-plus retail estate.

>> Sage-acious steps Sage Pay has acquired for €20m Integral Computers Ltd (Integral), a Dublin-based provider of present solutions for card holders.



The region’s Finance for Business North East Fund was launched to meet the equity gap faced by SMEs looking for funding. Backed by money from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), it is driving deal making and growth by investing in exciting businesses and technologies. BQ speaks to Andrew Mitchell, chief executive of North East Finance, the holding fund manager, about the fund’s success.

Investment funds drIvIng sme growth on Teesside which has just received funding from the Proof of Concept fund.

Q: and what about the pIpelIne? Is demand For FundIng stIll as strong as It was at the start?

andrew mitchell, chief executive

Q: It’s been two years sInce FInance For busIness launched. what has the Impact been? am: I think it’s fair to say that the impact has been very good and arguably exceeded our expectations. You always get a ‘bow-wave’ effect when any new investment fund is launched but our fund managers have already completed more than 300 deals which is very much in line with where we wanted to be. The crucial thing is that the quality of the deals has been, and remains, very high. We’ve been able to support some fantastic businesses and innovative technologies which, in the current climate, with the banks very much in ‘risk aversion’ mode, might not have received backing. That’s very important.

Q: how much has been Invested so Far? and how much Is stIll to be Invested? am: The seven funds have invested more then £40 million so far. That’s in turn leveraged a further £38m in private investment, so we’ve certainly been able to use public money to stimulate the market. The programme runs through until the end of 2014 by which time we’ll have invested the rest of the £125m.

Q: what type oF Investments are the Funds makIng? am: We’re investing across sectors as diverse as computer gaming, engineering, clean technology, e-commerce, manufacturing and healthcare. There have also been some groundbreaking investments too, like the exciting biomass demonstration plant

am: Demand remains strong and numbers are certainly holding up which is very encouraging. There was some concern that interest might drop with the continued slowdown but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Indeed, in many respects, the fact that banks are still not lending to small businesses means more are looking to alternative finance. The reality is that if you run a small business you’ve just got to get on with things.

Q: how do companIes access FundIng? am: Through any of the seven funds in our portfolio: North East Technology, Angel, Proof of Concept, Growth, Growth Plus, Accelerator and Microloan Funds. We have a broad range of funds so we can meet the needs of businesses across the spectrum of sectors and funding needs. The funds are managed by separate fund managers who are specialists in their own areas and can be accessed via our website www.northeastfinance. org. Investments range from £1,000 at the lowest end right up to £1m plus for the biggest deals.

Q: the seventh Fund – the mIcroloan Fund – was launched last year. why was that?

‘super-fund’ of its kind in England, although the North West and Yorkshire introduced similar funds not long after us. Both programmes have shown how public money can drive the market and are certainly models that could be adopted in other areas of the UK and beyond. Access to finance is a critical issue right now and the Government is looking very closely at alternative forms of finance.

Q: what wIll eventually happen to any returns From the Investments? am: It’s very important that these funds create a strong legacy for the region. For this reason, any investment returns will be released to a regional legacy programme to support economic growth after 2014.

Q: how wIll thIs be managed? am: The main responsibility for utilising our investment returns will lie with North East Access to Finance (NEA2F). They will receive the capital returns and develop new funds for reinvesting the money. The Local Enterprise Partnerships will also play a key role to ensure regional ‘ownership’ of the key asset allocation decisions. To avoid any confusion, NEA2F is precluded from any operational role with the funds we are managing now. Their role is to look to the future. Our job is to ensure that the money is there to finance that future.

am: When NEF was developing the programme, we wanted to ensure it was flexible enough to adjust to market demands. The Microloan fund is a prime example of this flexibility. We recognised that small businesses were struggling to access finance from the banks and the Microloan Fund is designed to help out here at the lower end of the market.

Q: you mentIoned small busInesses across the uk are strugglIng to access FInance. could the neF model be copIed In other areas? am: The North East has certainly led the way in adopting a model like this. Ours was the first


north east Finance, st James’ gate, newcastle upon tyne, ne1 4ad 0191 211 2300




Quarterly economic update, cybercrime concerns, visibility remains poor at airport, engineering a future for apprentices, marketeers recognised, and oil tech firm strikes it rich

>> See-saw gets frenetic as region’s slip shows Q1 in the North East closed with private sector output and new orders down in March for the first time since last November. This contrasts with faster growth for the UK over all, a Lloyds TSB North East Business Activity Index shows. Input costs and output charges both rose at solid rates, the index suggests. Craig McNaughton, area director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the North East, says: “Incoming new business fell at its fastest since June 2009 and work backlogs depleted, while input prices continued to rise steadily despite a fall in client demand, as oil prices rose on the previous month.” PMI Composite Output Index, SA (50 = no change)

65 60 55 50 45 40

All UK

North East England

35 30

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

The region’s see-saw of jobs fortunes and fallouts gets increasingly frenetic, with its unemployment rate still the country’s highest. But the automotives and offshore industries are prospering. Nissan’s decision to build two new cars at Sunderland, besides the electric powered Leaf being assembled from next year, entails the workforce rising to a record 6,225. Three years ago workers were being paid off. The new models are a compact car based on a concept model – named the Invitation – which is also being built from next year. Then from 2014 a new medium-size model will be built. In all the two most recently announced models will add more than 3,000 jobs – 625 at Nissan and the remainder among suppliers. An annual production of more than half a million models of the new hatchback is expected. Like the Invitation, this will be


named closer to its sales launch. And more than 500 of the additional support jobs expected have already been announced. Financière SNOP Dunois Group, already a body parts supplier, is making Wearside its UK manufacturing base, investing millions to convert the former TRW Valves facility at Washington. In the first UK development under the latest round of Enterprise Zones, Vantec Europe is creating 230 jobs in a new £22.5m building beside Nissan. The Japanese firm, with a Wearside warehouse already, provides storage and logistics for Nissan, Komatsu, UK and Cummins Engines in the North East. The new warehouse will handle around 6m containers of Nissan car parts yearly. Meanwhile Calsonic Kansei has received a £15.3m investment as it creates 145 new jobs and widens its product range. Unipres earlier announced an expansion, and Lear Corporation an opening with 300 jobs. Up to 1,000 jobs are expected through a government grant of £640,000 enabling OGN Group to establish a Tyneside role in the manufacture of offshore wind turbines. OGN is investing £50m. Meanwhile Technip, through an Aberdeen operation, is creating 60 more Tyneside jobs in the same sector, and Osbit Power under local entrepreneur Tony Trapp has a £615,000 grant to design equipment to relay offshore workers safely between turbines and visiting vessels. But Northumberland has lost 500 jobs with Rio Tinto’s closure of Alcan aluminium smelter at Lynemouth. The energy plant there may be sold and converted from coal to biomass feed, but with relatively few jobs. Rio Tinto, until now Northumberland’s biggest manufacturer, bought the operation in 2007. Rising costs, overcapacity and heavier UK taxes on high carbon users proved toxic. David Merlin-Jones, a research fellow of Civitas independent social policy think tank, says Lynemouth’s closure is actually a blow to


environmentally friendly industry. He explains: “British aluminium production is noted worldwide for its efficiency and low emissions relative to other countries. “Since 1990, Lynemouth had reduced its emissions by 65%, far above the UK goal of a 34% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020 and the wider EU's 20% reduction by 2020. “It is painfully ironic that a plant that has done its utmost to reduce its environmental impact is now shutting due to environmental regulation.” At nearby Ashington, Akzo Nobel will provide 140 jobs in a new manufacturing plant but is closing at Prudhoe and not all workers are likely to transfer. Norwegian chipboard maker Egger is investing £20m to make its Hexham plant Europe’s most advanced. With 521 employees, it will become the county’s biggest manufacturing employer. In Newcastle, despite £100m recently invested, 450 jobs are going with the closure of Sanofi’s 50-year-old drugs manufacturing plant at Fawdon, where 4bn tablets are produced yearly. With patents expiring for pharma giants on older prescriptive medicines work may increasingly be outsourced, to the gain of smaller North East firms like Aesica, Piramal, the Specials Laboratory and SCM Pharma. GSK, however, is investing £15m at Barnard Castle where more than 1,000 staff work, dispelling prolonged speculation it might close its operation there. Back on Tyneside, around 100 waterfront jobs may be lost at South Shields with McNulty Offshore’s entry into administration. There had been hopes of work as the nuclear industry modernises. The neighbouring A&P Tyne repair yard at Hebburn is faring better, however. McNulty, which started as a small stevedore supplier in 1906, is one of a number of older firms troubled, including furniture retailers. North Shields family business Chapmans, established 165 years ago, is closing in Newcastle and Carlisle with a loss of 49 jobs. But 16 jobs at the 92-year-old Stockton >>


Happy times: Allan Cairns, managing director of Fabricom Offshore and Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside, at the opening of Fabricom Offshore’s new premises on Quorum Business Park furniture firm Race For Furniture, and sister firm Home Interiors, have been saved by Michael O’Connor Furniture’s takeover amid administration. Matthew Charlton Slaters, of Northumberland, believed to be the UK’s oldest roofing contractor, collapsed, costing 40 jobs. And 60 more jobs have been lost with the collapse of GT Contracts, which did joinery and balustrades at The Sage, and had the like of Nexus and Fenwick on its client list. Many of the 350 jobs ended with the demise of Teesside based MJN Cobton, mechanical and electrical engineers, are at Thornaby and Gateshead. MJN had worked on Paddington Station’s renovation. In County Durham, the 105-year-old Rock Farm Dairy employing 88 people went into administration despite £17m sales. But Lincolnshire supplier Cool Milk prevented a closure and now the business operates as UK Dairy Sales Ltd. Rock Farm was started in 1907 when Ruth Gregory, an antecedent of the family owners, delivered by handcart to homes of Wheatley Hill mining families. North Tyneside packaging firm Cope Allman Jaycare was set to fold with a loss of 140 jobs. But a £16.5m purchase by Nolato Group of Sweden – the fourth sale of the Tyneside firm in 12 years – has spared the operation. And jobs are appearing elsewhere:

• Greggs, despite the Government’s controversial tax now on food kept warm, expects to create 800 more jobs in the North East and elsewhere this year • Tanfield expects to recruit 120 at Washington as construction recovery abroad raises demand for cherrypickers • Another 25 jobs likely at lighting manufacturer Raytec, following its takeover at Ashington by Japanese manufacturer Optex Technologies • Also 180 more staff over 18 months at Fabricom Offshore Services, newly relocated within Tyneside to Quorum Business Park • The North East will get a share of 20,000 new jobs Tesco proposes too, plus 250 jobs in Sainsbury’s Sedgefield supermarket that Terrace Hill is developing. The think tank IPPR North sees five areas where the Government could divert some of the proposed ultra High Speed Rail investment to foster instead 20,000 new jobs in the North East. Around 87% of commuter trains here are reckoned to need new rolling stock. Agility Trains, the Hitachi and John Laing consortium, still plans 500 jobs at Newton Aycliffe with the building and running of its rolling stock assembly plant, a £4.5bn project considered the region’s most important since Nissan’s start-up in 1986. Planning delays have knocked back construction to the end of this



year or early next. But work is still expected for more than 1,000 in the supply chain and 200 construction jobs. About 1,500 private sector jobs are being created or safeguarded in the region by the European Regional Development Fund’s Competitiveness Programme, helping firms raise turnover. Early in Q1 Northern businesses seemed the most confident anywhere about recovery, according to an ICAEW/Grant Thornton monitor. The IPPR has since claimed the North-South jobs divide to be at its widest yet, with the northern labour market entering a “double dip” over the past year. The North East has, at 11.8%, the country’s highest unemployment, despite a 9,000 improvement to 144,000 over the previous quarter in the December to February period. The national average is 8.3%. Little surprise, then, that recruitment firm Manpower’s latest survey of 2,100 North East companies suggests the earlier confidence is being chipped away. Q2 should start to show benefits or otherwise from business measures introduced in the recent Budget.

>> Power to the people John Elliott the County Durham multi-millionaire industrialist has given his company Ebac foundation status by transferring ownership from his family to a trust, with future profits going to the community rather than to his family or other private shareholders. Elliott, 68, hopes the trust will double its existing 200-strong workforce at Newton Aycliffe and grow into bigger premises. His daughter Pamela Petty remains managing director. Ebac, set up in 1973, makes dehumidifiers and water coolers, and may diversify into washing machines. It has a £15m turnover and makes £3m profit.

>> Sunny Tyneside Solar panel supplier Synergy Solar has made Tyneside its fifth franchise territory after Durham, Sunderland, Birmingham and Reading. The firm recently completed work for Sunderland Marina.




(Peterlee), Soil Machine Dynamics (Wallsend), Union Electric Steel UK (Gateshead), and Walker Filtration (Washington). Pearson Engineering (Newcastle) receive the award for innovation.

>> Merlin and more

Debra Halcrow: Warns of an underground thieves’ market for data

>> Corporate crime concerns rise Experts are further concerned about soaring rates of corporate crime following BQ’s warning on the issue in our previous edition. Cybercrime over the past year has become the second most commonly reported economic crime hitting firms in financial services (FS) after asset misappropriation, which is the most common way of defrauding an organisation. A global survey by PwC shows cybercrime accounted for 38% of economic crime incidents in financial services, compared to 16% for other industries. Growing use of Apps to access banking services, and mobile phones to make payments, look likely to raise these risks. Debra Halcrow, forensic services director at PwC in the North, says: “There is an established underground market for stolen and compromised data.”

>> Regal performance Twelve North East firms are among latest winners of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise, 11 of them for export performance. The 11 are Culpitt (Ashington), Immunodiagnostic Systems (Boldon), Integrated Display Systems (Wallsend), Nissan (Sunderland), Pearson Harper (Billingham), Peel Jones Copper Products (Saltburn), Rayovac Micropower (Washington),Seaward Electronic


Santander raised its business lending in the North East by 95% last year, providing £158m of new funding to local businesses. It also exceeded its Merlin commitments, lending £8.7bn to UK businesses with £4.3bn going to SMEs.

>> Flying success Air parts manufacturer Ford Aerospace has brought a £500,000 order home to South Tyneside. It is providing undercarriage parts for the Airbus A350 passenger aircraft due to take to the air from 2014.

>> New Business Link disappoints A survey among members of the Forum of Private Business has concluded that the present support offered by the new “streamlined” and centralised Business Link is inadequate.

>> Questions still cloud airport The clouds have lifted slightly for Durham Tees Valley Airport with the facility’s sale back to Peel Group. Control of the beleaguered airport is restored to Peel Group after 18 months-plus under the majority holding by Vantage Airport Group (VAG) – formerly Vancouver Airport Services. The loss-making airport was put up for sale in December by Peel Airports Ltd - whose ownership was 65% with VAG and 35% with Peel Group. Now Peel Investments (DTVA) Ltd - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peel Group - has full majority shareholding. Concerns are still being expressed, though a minority stake remains with six local authorities - Darlington, County Durham, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, and


Redcar and Cleveland. Peter Nears for Peel Group says interest and support for the airport has been significant across the region. “We look forward to capitalising on this and going forward with stakeholders in the region,” he added. So, uncertain reprieve rather than administration dreaded. Passenger numbers had fallen to about 190,000 a year – with losses of £1.6m in recent accounts. Representatives have met with North East MPs hoping for help to get landing slots needed to resume scheduled services with Heathrow. And the future of development land on the airport’s south side? Nears told The Northern Echo development was important to any successful airport. “We need to do this in association with the local authority stakeholders,” he added. When councils sold their majority stake in the airport, it was agreed their remaining 25% could be reduced if Peel invested in the airport. Peel now appears to have a big say on the future of this land earlier envisaged for an offshore cargo and assembly centre. Security flow should be faster at Newcastle Airport this summer following a £3.2m extension that is well under way. Baggage clearance has more space too. Emirates airline will mark its fifth year at Newcastle on September 1 by introducing Boeing 777 aircraft in place of Airbus 330s. This means 428 seats a flight against 278 potentially another 100,000 passengers a year, with 300 more jobs created directly and indirectly on Tyneside. It also brings closer the possibility of a scheduled service to the USA. Also at Newcastle, Easyjet is introducing a new link with Amsterdam.

We look forward to capitalising on this and going forward with stakeholders in the region



With the 2012 Budget behind us and the new tax year underway, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to take a careful look at your finances. Conducting the tax equivalent of a spring clean, reviewing and updating your arrangements is a critical part of sensible tax planning.

Make sure everything goes to plan


hile the chancellor’s annual Budget grabs plenty of headlines, it is what you do next that is key to successfully managing your arrangements. The Budget and more recently the 2012 Finance Bill introduced a range of new taxes, reliefs and rates for both businesses and individuals. If it’s hard keeping track of the annual changes in the tax regime that affect you, without a regular review of your tax affairs changes in your individual situation will mean you’ll find yourself paying more tax or qualifying for new reliefs as your circumstances change. The first step for individuals should be to make sure you are using your full ISA allowance which has been raised to £11,280 for 2012/13. The reduction in the 50 per cent rate from next April announced in the Budget will be welcomed by higher rate payers but will be offset by the introduction of a restriction of uncapped tax reliefs that has already raised major concerns in the charitable sector on the impact this will have on philanthropic donations. Elsewhere the changes to the Child Benefit proposals include a phase out of the benefit for those earning between £50,000 and £60,000 with the amount received being reduced by 1 per cent for each £100 of additional earnings between those limits. Those falling within this limit should consider salary sacrifice options. And while there was much talk of changes to pensions the position remains unchanged, with a £50,000 annual limit and marginal tax relief available although family pension scheme rules will be changed from 2013. And the government continued the trend of using the tax system to encourage greener company cars and along with the increase in the car fuel benefit charge will make free fuel an unattractive benefit. The increases to the EIS investment limits up to £1

Stephen hall, Tax Partner

if it’s hard keeping track of the annual changes in the tax regime that affect you, without a regular review of your tax affairs changes in your individual situation will mean you’ll find yourself paying more tax or qualifying for new reliefs as your circumstances change million make it one of the best tax reliefs available to private investors and entrepreneurs, providing 30% income tax relief up to a maximum of £300,000 and capital gains exemptions on disposal of shares in the qualifying company. Together with the Small Enterprise Investment


Scheme (SEIS) these schemes should encourage equity investment into SMEs although the complexity of the schemes mean it’s worth seeking advice if you are considering either investing or seeking investment. On a business front, the North East video games industry will welcome the specific corporation tax relief aimed at the industry as part of the government’s agenda to make the UK a European tech hub and firms operating in this sector should keep an eye out for the consultation on the measure expected this summer. This relief is part of a broader push by the government to encourage innovative businesses that companies operating in these areas should be seeking to capitalise on. April saw the tax credits available to smaller businesses carrying out research and development work increase from 200 per cent to 225 per cent but the announcement of an ‘above the line’ credit for larger companies will give them the option of claiming a cash credit for R&D work. And although the ‘Patent Box’ will allow profits from patents/exclusive licenses to be taxed at 10 per cent from next April firms can agree with HMRC in advance the methodology for agreeing qualifying profits. Planning in advance remains as important as ever but the good news is that it’s never too late to start.

Stephen hall Tax Partner at Deloitte 0191 261 4111




>> In the right direction Thousands of students and museum visitors are exploring their surroundings in a new way. They’re using their mobile phones equipped with a North East firm’s cutting edge technology. Just by holding up their phone and using it to look around them, mobile users can view information about their location on their smartphone screens including photos, videos, audio, 3D models and can even get directions on how to reach the place they are viewing. With support from Newcastle Science City, Paul Smith of Chester-le-Street has launched a new venture, Virtuteq, to lead the way in this emerging new medium, called mobile augmented reality. He is using geographic content to develop applications for a range of clients. At Sunderland University and Leeds Trinity, students are now using Virtuteq’s technology to find facilities on campus, and the company is currently working with local museums to provide an interactive guide enabling visitors to have information about attractions at their fingertips. There are also discount vouchers for food, location maps with a Take Me There functionality and even treasure hunts for children, with clues being triggered when the mobile user is near a particular location. Dean Hale, web manager at Sunderland University, says: “Virtuteq’s application is extremely simple to use and the additional content you can add to enhance the points of interest is invaluable. The application is a useful orientation tool helping new students, staff and visitors to the university find their

>> Taking a chance Michelle Lower, 32, has remortgaged her home to help fund a new company following the closure of Amdega, the world’s oldest conservatory maker founded in 1874. She and others among 200 employees made jobless through the Darlington firm’s crash last April, have set up Chelsea Summerhouses in the town, using old Amdega jibs that were bought from the administrator.


Distinguished: Apprentice Harry Teasdale Jnr (centre), with (left) Howard Tribick, director of HT Energy, and (right) Harry Teasdale Snr, head of sustainability at Renewable Technologies, and STEM ambassador at Redcar and Cleveland College

>> Harry nears a first Harry Teasdale Jnr, who left school with 17.5 GCSEs, is on track to become Redcar and Cleveland College’s first ever renewable energy apprentice after teaming up with a growing local business. Teasdale, 17 and from Stockton, is on a four-year apprenticeship with HT Energy in Swainby, North Yorkshire.

>> Apprentices value questioned The North of England heads the rest of the country in offering engineering apprenticeships, research shows. A quarter of sector employers in the North East, North West Yorkshire and Humberside are offering apprenticeships, against a national average of less than a fifth, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (SEMTA) estimates in a new study. This has helped In the North East especially, where apprenticeship scheme uptake has risen dramatically - from 18,510 in 2009/10 to 34,000 in 2010/11. Research also shows the North is where half of the engineering apprentices in England over 25 are training, indicating that businesses are prepared to invest in their current workforce, rather than recruit school leavers who attract more funding. But the National Audit Office, Britain’s spending watchdog, says one in five


apprenticeships lasted less than six months last year – with some over in a bare five weeks. Quality of apprentices emerging is also being questioned. Just one third of apprenticeships are at advanced level in England, compared with 60% in France.

>> Access to success Who Dares Wins, the annual conference and biggest event on the Entrepreneurs’ Forum calendar, is being held on May 17 - open to members, guests and partners. Speakers include serial entrepreneur Martyn Dawes of CoffeeNation, UK Entrepreneur of the Year Stephen Catlin and Ray Mears, the TV survivalist. The conference at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead is followed by an awards dinner. Conference tickets start from £150. Contact: www. Tel: 0191 500 7780. (See p27 for more on the Forum).

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>> Franchise chaser Transport operator Go-Ahead is bidding for two more rail franchises, Thameslink and Essex Thameside. The Newcastle group already holds Southern, Southeastern and London Midland franchises. The firm also operates nearly 4,000 buses in the UK and has acquired a London bus depot in a £14m deal – its third acquisition since February.

>> Passionate buyers

Marketing stars: Entertainer Rory Bremner (left) acclaimed NBS’s winning marketing team (second left to right) Lyne D’Evelyn, Drummond Central, Christine Heslop, head of marketing communications, NBS, Ryan Quinn, product development assistant, NBS, Amy McKenna, direct marketing manager, NBS, with the manager of Marketo who presented the award.

Tourism bodies in the North East have jointly bought the intellectual property and branding for the regional slogan Passionate People Passionate Places, formerly championed by One North East. Under the Northern Tourism Alliance banner, NewcastleGateshead Initiative - on behalf of Visit County Durham, Northumberland Tourism, Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd and the North East Hotels Association - has bought the assets from One North East to retain and protect the promotional brand. The Northern Tourism Alliance was established last year to take forward regional co-ordination and grow the visitor economy further.

>> Triple crown It’s been a triply successful 2012 so far for Newcastle Building Society. It’s thriving on more than 25,000 new customers gained last year. It has returned to the black.And it has won a national award for its Big Little Saver marketing campaign, aimed at encouraging youngsters to save.

>> Jobs come North

>> Boxing cleverly

Bank note printer De La Rue is moving about 100 jobs from the South to its Gateshead operation. It expects within about 15 months to have shut its factory in Bedfordshire switching the work to its biggest UK banknote printing centre at Team Valley, where 180 are already employed.

Insurethebox, the Gibraltar car insurer expects to employ 700 staff at Quorum Business Park, North Tyneside, within three years. It opened there with 20 in 2010 and now employs 142.

>> Timpson’s fit James Timpson, chief executive of the UK’s biggest shoe repair and keycutting chains, is the 11th David Goldman visiting professor of innovation and enterprise at Newcastle University Business School.


>> Half pay ‘too much Former Greggs chief executive Sir Michael Darrington, who condemned declining corporate ethics in last spring’s BQ, has told a conference organised by corporate governance advisory group Pirc that if current pay packages for senior executives and bankers were halved they would still be overpaid.


>> Happy crossings Danish owned DFDS Seaways’ Newcastle/Amsterdam ferry service, which employs about 60 people at North Shields, has had record traffic for three years running now.

>> Sling shot Government funding of £50m over five years will boost Narec’s new and renewable energy work at Blyth.

>> Gingering business The Hexham botanical drinks manufacturer Fentimans has introduced a new Cool Ginger Beer in a 275ml serving, which is less fiery than its traditional ginger beer after successful tests among crowds at Chatsworth, Kew Gardens and the Royal Highland Show.

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provide around £4bn nationwide to SMEs. Armstrong is chief executive of The Alchemists, the organisation which supports high growth medium sized businesses from its Newcastle headquarters. She will serve in a non-executive capacity from April 1 until 31 March 2015. CfEL is the largest single investor in UK venture capital. Around 85% of net new jobs in the EU are being created by small and medium-size businesses.

Engine drivers: Some of the Mediaworks team

>> Blooming good Cowell’s family run garden centre at Woolsington, near Newcastle Airport, has been named Garden Centre of the Year by the Garden Centre Association for a second year in succession.

>> Over to Ireland

>> London calling Mediaworks the search engine specialist, set up at Gateshead in 2007 by the current North East Young Business Executive of the Year Brett Jacobson, now employs nearly 40 staff. Jacobson, a Northumbria University graduate, is considering a London opening also.

>> Brighter side

>> Taking to the road

UK Asset Resolutions, which runs the taxpayer-owned half of the now broken up Northern Rock and the also publicly owned Bradford and Bingley, repaid taxpayers £2.15bn last year through profits raised by almost 50%.

Gateshead College has acquired Tyneside Training Services (TTS), the Kingston Park-based road transport and construction plant training specialist. The jobs of 23 people remain secure.

>> Perky pair Barratt and Bellway have perked the housing market. Barratt showed an 8.6% rise in first half turnover to £952.8m, with pre-tax profit at £21.6m compared with £4.6m loss before. Bellway has raised pre-tax profits 70% to £40.6m in six months to January, on turnover up from £407.9m to £458.6m. The North East’s housing market failed to rally in March, however, despite improvement in some parts of the country due to the stamp duty holiday finally ending, says RICS.


NEL Fund Managers of Newcastle is part of a consortium picked to manage a new £50m investment fund for small and medium-size firms in Northern Ireland.

>> More hellos Hartlepool call centre operator Respondez is recruiting again after shedding 20 staff in 2010 and hopes to have the firm growing its workforce up to 300 by the end of this year.

>> Making Hays Hays Travel has passed the £500m turnover mark in its latest annual results reported from its Sunderland headquarters.

>> Lucy advises further Lucy Armstrong now chairs Capital for Enterprise Limited (CfEL), advisor to the Government whose programmes will


In support: Customers like Wilton Engineering need highly specialised access and scaffolding solutions, Pyeroy’s divisional director Jim Anderson says

>> Pyeroy piles in Industrial services firm Pyeroy of Gateshead is to support Teesside’s Wilton Engineering Services in its offshore work by providing access systems.

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>> £1bn breakthrough Vertu car group under chief executive Robert Forrester expects annual turnover to reach £1bn shortly, six years after its launch. It has 80 franchised dealerships and three non-franchised operations on 66 sites. The Gateshead firm’s results will be out on May 16.

>> Charter option Eastern Airways, which serves the North East, has introduced a new charter service of 29 to 50 seats for businesses and other clients.

>> One of the best >> Rob’s responsible Rob Langley (above), partner and head of the construction and engineering team at law firm Muckle LLP will be president of Newcastle upon Tyne Law Society for 2012/13. It is one of the UK’s oldest law societies, dating back to 1826.

Vertem Asset Management, the Newcastle investment management and stockbroking firm, is now among the Top 10 wealth manager profiles picked by Citywire.

>> Changing hands London firm Capita has bought Smiths Consulting of Newcastle for £10m, boosting its computer consultancy side. It expects to grow the firm further.


This should not be the time for a “new broom” Secretary of State, but one who understands the benefits of renewables, and particularly offshore wind, not only to the environment and the country’s energy requirements, but also to UK industry...In our region alone a group of 22 companies, part of North East England’s renewables group Energi Coast, have already invested £400m in their renewable energy operations and employ 6,500 people Alex Dawson, Energi Coast chairman and chief executive of Billingham based TAG Energy, commenting on the Government’s appointment of a new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.



Investment spur: Datum360 managing director Steve Wilson (right) with IP Group investment manager Nick Edgar

>> High-tech double Datum360, a Teesside provider of information management and software consultancy to the oil and gas sector, has received a £500,000 investment grant from the Finance for Business North East Technology Fund, managed by IP Group. The investment enables Datum360 to offer new capability. Formed in 2009 by Steve Wilson and Dave Mitchell, Datum360 works around the world. Clients include ConocoPhillips and BP. A second firm, The Test Factory, plans expansion with investment of £435,000 from the same source. The online assessment and survey business, which employs 28 staff at Sunderland, creates bespoke, secure assessments for clients including Microsoft, HSBC, Cambridge University Press and the BBC. It works in more than 20 languages with users in more than 150 countries.

>> Home helpers fund A half-million pound fund has been secured to help businesses take on new homebased employees in the North East. The Home Working Fund, managed by Entrust business service, will contribute up to £3,000 towards training and equipment for each new home worker.

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>> R&D stepped up AAF Power & Industrial now has a £1m research and development centre at its Cramlington site, creating eight jobs now and 20 more over the next three years.

>> Totting up the years

Top tier: (left to right, front) Niall Ash, commercial director, and Chris Molloy, production manager, with (back) Peter Bernard, managing director of the Responsive Engineering Group

Family run Slaters Electricals is marking over 600 years of combined staff service from its 47 employees this year. Seven staff have each been presented with service awards after 25 years or more there. The Blaydon company, which specialises in re-engineered and new transformers, LV and MV switchgear and support services, was set up in 1946 on Newcastle’s Quayside. Today the fourth generation family business, under managing director Fiona Slater, turns over £7.5m.

>> Touch and go

>> Top-tier spend

Zytronic, the AIM listed Blaydon business employing 200 staff, is moving wholly into touchscreen technology and away from laminate products that now realise only some 30% of the business.

Top tier supplier Responsive Engineering Group, under managing director Peter Bernard, has completed a £2.5m investment to support the production of complex, mission critical parts and assemblies used in oilfield exploration and production applications. The Gateshead group’s turnover, under £4m in 2005, is now £15m. Forty new jobs in two years have raised the workforce to 165.

>> Entrepreneurs acclaimed A campaign launched by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) will highlight entrepreneurs who are contributing to growth and jobs in the North East.

>> Tees firm up front TAG Energy Solutions on Teesside is one of the first UK companies to join a new renewables sector initiative launched by Prime Minister David Cameron. Unveiled at the Clean Energy Ministerial Conference, Norstec is a new industry partnership, which brings together key players that are out to make the most of the North Sea’s renewable energy resource. More than 20 firms in several countries have signed up to a shared vision to create a major new renewable energy power centre in the North Sea, and to maximise the opportunities there.


>> Better times for road users Bus passengers and other road users in Tyne and Wear are to benefit from a package of measures that will save them up to 1m hours a year from shorter journey times and reduced delays. The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority has been awarded almost £5m from the Government’s Better Bus Area Grant funding to provide it with a string of new highways improvements. Upgrades to junctions and congestion hotspots on 19 key routes into towns and cities will benefit all road users, and provide buses with more reliable journey times. The improvements will benefit 35m bus journeys a year – a quarter of all trips made in Tyne and Wear – and reduce carbon emissions by 46,360 tonnes a year. Cllr David Wood, chairman of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, says: “This is going to make a real difference to the


reliability of bus services on our key journey corridors, at the same time helping all road users by easing congestion. “It will assist economic growth, reduce the costs of bus operation and promote a shift towards public transport, so achieving carbon reduction. This work will be complemented by a range of additional measures to make bus services more attractive and accessible, including feasibility work into the development of further voluntary partnerships across Tyne and Wear.”

>> SMEs favoured The Vela Group, which spends millions of pounds a year on goods and services, is opening up opportunities to mostly small and medium-sized enterprises through a new tendering process in collaboration with Constructionline.>>

COMPANY PROFILE £30M SOLAR DEAL POWERS NEWCASTLE COMPANY’S EXPANSION A Newcastle-based business, named after one of the world’s biggest corporations, has signed a £30-million deal for the exclusive distribution rights for their namesake’s solar panels. Linuo Power UK Ltd has taken on many of the household names in the solar sector to win exclusive UK distribution rights for Linuo Power Group’s high-quality high efficiency solar panels – the most efficient in the world. Ed Corbett, the founder, explains: “I think the other big wholesalers that were fighting for this contract thought they had a God-given right to win it but we were working really hard behind the scenes to make sure we had the best chance and in the end our fantastic branding - both on- and off-line, our knowledgeable staff, the enthusiasm of our whole operation and the genius of naming the UK company after our Chinese supplier were just some of the reasons they chose us. “The Vice President of the Linuo Group, Mr Ben Lee, flew in to hand over the distribution rights, and was given a magical time on the Tyne. The visitors were given signed football shirts, photographed with

Demba Ba, given a stadium tour of St James’ Park and then introduced to our wonderful nightlife, which they absolutely loved. They also spent some time going to see some of our installers & suppliers, who buy the panels from us and then sell to both the domestic & commercial market.” After setting up in August last year, Linuo Power UK

began selling in October and has not looked back. This deal with Linuo Group, however, will not only provide £30m for the business over the next 18 months, but will also create at least ten new jobs in customer service, finance and sales at its Quayside offices. Should Linuo UK honour its targets, the offer of expansion into the Saudi Arabian and U.S. markets is already on the table, but MD, Ed Corbett, is keeping his workforce’s feet firmly on the ground, ensuring everyone involved is totally committed to the current project: “Linuo Power UK has been approached by some of the other big manufacturing brands to also distribute their products in the UK but we don’t want to dilute our energy just yet. “We are fully focused on the Linuo product and brand, and that’s how it will be for the foreseeable future. Our supplier is one of the largest companies in the world with the best technology in their high-quality products, so why look elsewhere when we have spent such a long time creating the relationship which has now all paid off?”

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Vela, which embraces Tristar Homes in Stockton and Housing Hartlepool, manages more than 17,000 affordable homes and provides support and services across the area to improve the lives of residents, regenerate communities and invest in homes for the future. Vela is committed to offering work to as wide a cross section of contractors as possible. So it is revamping the way it manages its tendering processes to make it easier for SMEs to bid for new work, as well as making it less bureaucratic for others in the bidding process. To update existing and potential contractors about its new tendering procedures, Vela is holding an open day on May 17 at Wynyard Park, Wynyard. Instead of having its own approved contractor lists, Vela will use Constructionline, the Government’s established database of assessed contractors and consultants. The change will save time and money for contractors by reducing duplication when bidding for work. Organisations will no longer have to repeatedly fill in standard pre-qualification forms for every construction tender. Cath Purdy, Vela’s group chief executive, says: “Over all, this is a great opportunity for SMEs.”

>> US buys UK spinout The Tyneside firm that over a decade has become one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of incontinence pads is now in American hands. Attends Healthcare, which chief executive James Steel spun out originally from Procter and Gamble in the North East, is now owned by US paper and print industry giant Domtar at a cost of £150m.

>> Fuelling growth A Redcar firm specialising in global marine fuel analysis is working with Teesside University to develop its marketing and sales processes and grow its customer base worldwide. Guardian Marine Testing Ltd (GMT) wanted to further invest for growth by enhancing its marketing and sales function.


The project with Teesside University involves the creation and maintenance of a dedicated client relationship management (CRM) system allowing GMT to continue to communicate efficiently with an increasing client list. GMT’s main business is to test fuels used by ships, to confirm the fuels are safe to use. This involves collection from any port in the world and transit of sample, to testing and reporting from the laboratory. The vast majority of the firm’s business involves overseas customers, from ship owners to anyone involved in the purchasing or use of marine fuels. Launched in 2008, the company is led by managing director Andrew Shaw and is based at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar. The company is also supported by a network of other global facilities. Teesside University was able to offer assistance through a Knowledge Exchange Internship (KEI), part funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The KEI involves a six-month graduate placement for Jamie Stevenson who recently completed an MSc management course at Teesside University.

>> Leading edge welder Investment in new facilities will secure Responsive Engineering Group of Gateshead a position as one of the UK’s foremost specialist welding and fabrication operations in the UK. The firm has completed a £1.7m investment in its specialist welding division (Weldex), doubling capacity and enhancing abilities to deliver high-end welding and fabrication solutions for customers. Operating from its newly refurbished and expanded 20,000sq ft site, the firm is specialising in subsea valves and high pressure pumps for the oil and gas sector, as well as cooling impellers for nuclear power plants.

>> Law firm behind major transaction Dickinson Dees law firm has advised property investment and development group Terrace Hill on the £75.3m sale of more than 500 English homes to Swedish private housing group Akelius. The deal involved apartments spread across Clapham, Ealing, Kennington, Watford and Milton Keynes. Experts from across the Newcastle-based law firm’s specialist property, residential investment, tax, construction, employment and corporate teams were involved, led by partners Duncan Fisher and Nigel Emmerson. Terrace Hill, based in London, has offices across the UK in Teesside, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. Chief executive Philip Leech says: “This marks a significant step in our strategy of divesting the company’s residential investment portfolio. We expect to make further sales during this year.”

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Announcements A word from Nigel As we enter our second decade with a refined vision and great opportunities, there is much to celebrate and look forward to at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. In our first issue in partnership with BQ, I’d like to clarify this vision, what the organisation looks like and how you can get involved. We were set up over ten years ago by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs to provide a unique place where business experience is shared. The first of the Forum’s three pillars is to provide world-class, inspirational events which are either exclusively for entrepreneurs or for a mix of entrepreneurs and business leaders from small, medium and large size corporate organisations. The aim is to mix the two together and progress with the best possible knowledge and experience. Secondly is mentoring for everyone from emerging businesses via the highly successful If We Can You Can Challenge, to one to one mentoring, and sharing the knowledge of larger organisations and entrepreneurs. Thirdly is our role as a political voice in terms of business development in the North East by putting together data faster and more imaginatively for government and other influential bodies about the importance of the North East. Stay tuned, get involved, and seize the opportunities. Nigel Mills Chairman, Entrepreneurs’ Forum


Welcome to our first edition of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum magazine in partnership with BQ. We’re really looking forward to telling you more about our members’ stories, sharing their expertise and celebrating what’s great about the North East’s entrepreneurial spirit We have the power to achieve great things if we develop the right mindset to overcome barriers to business success. That’s the message that resounded from our recent Achieve conference - and I’m proud to say it was a brilliant success (see page 6 for details). There’s a heightened sense of energy at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum right now, for a number of reasons. Firstly we are delighted to be able to announce the new vision for the Forum which you can read more about opposite. We are also in the thick of preparing for our biggest event of the year, our annual conference and awards ceremony on May 17. This year’s theme is ‘Who Dares Wins’ and promises to be a strong return on investment for those of you brave enough to take a day out of your busy schedules to soak in our unique atmosphere of optimism and opportunity. Our awards dinner will also crown the region’s most stand out entrepreneurs – it really is an event not to be missed. We are

also about to reveal a powerful new look and feel for the Forum, thanks to the creative strategists at Hedley McEwan. Meanwhile, our If We Can, You Can Challenge 2012 (www. has revealed some brilliantly inspiring business people. The winners will be revealed on May 17. We look forward to welcoming you to the Forum’s dynamic entrepreneurial environment. Nicola Short Executive Director, Entrepreneurs’ Forum

A busy quarter of events ahead From show stopping conferences to Exchange programmes, our events programme in the coming months is as packed as ever. Watch out in May and June for the chance to gain insight from Wilton Group CEO Bill Scott, ecoentrepreneur Peter Candler and Gadget Shop founder Jonathan Elvidge. For full details of these events and more visit

Follow us on twitter @entforum Join us on The Entrepreneurs’ Forum 2nd Floor, Anson House, Fleming Business Centre, Burdon Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 3AE 0191 500 7780 /

A New Vision for the Entrepreneurs’ Forum For future issues of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum magazine we will use this space to demonstrate the power of sharing knowledge in creating growth and wealth for the region and celebrating the North East’s entrepreneurial spirit. For our first issue however, we thought we’d tell you a little more about what the Entrepreneurs’ Forum is and means, and how you can get involved

“None of us got to where we are today by ourselves. We all need mentors, friends and advisors to achieve success and we all continue to learn as we continue to grow.” Sir Peter Vardy, the Vardy Group of Companies WhAt is the eNtrepreNeurs’ Forum? The Entrepreneurs’ Forum is a unique crosssector membership organisation having been established by North East entrepreneurs for North East entrepreneurs. We have a proven track record gained over the course of a decade in providing a dynamic and stimulating environment where entrepreneurs can share valuable business knowledge, be inspired and create the connections to help them grow their organisations, creating wealth and jobs. Our community of members – who have a combined turnover of £6.9bn and 34,000 employees – is our biggest resource and an immense bank of information, ideas, contacts and opportunities. The Forum also has 200 mentors willing to volunteer their time to help our members. There are 3 ways to get involved with the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and our board and executive team, led by Nicola Short, will work with you to help you maximise your investment.

iNdividuAl membership As an entrepreneur, whether relatively new or established, you will have ideas and experience to share altruistically for the benefit of others. In that sense, membership not only helps you develop as a business leader but also allows you to play your part in the region’s prosperity. Leading a business can be isolating. The Forum puts members in touch with a peer group of like-minded individuals who understand the challenges and recognise what it takes to be successful. They will help

you, protect you and give you the confidence to be as ambitious as you want to be.

exchANge membership Exchange Membership allows senior executives or identified future leaders who are not the founder or owner of an organisation to benefit from the Forum’s dynamic entrepreneurial environment. Exchange Membership is an excellent motivator and incentive for senior colleagues, a perfect method of providing personal and professional development, an ideal opportunity to expose staff to an inspirational, free-thinking environment and a chance to provoke entrepreneurial spirit.

corporAte pArtNer Becoming a corporate partner of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum gives you unprecedented personal contact with the most senior people among the North East’s business community within an effective and powerful B2B environment. By supporting us you also have the opportunity to become a champion of entrepreneurialism in the region.

become A pArtNer We are proud to have the support of TSG, Brewin Dolphin, Close House, PwC, Sage, Yorkshire Bank and Gateshead College. For details of how to join them please call Christine Balford on 0191 500 7780.

“We believe the Forum plays a pivotal part in the region’s future economic success. it’s unrivalled both locally and nationally and we’re delighted to be a corporate partner so that we can share our experiences and offer support in achieving these aims.” Jonathan Greenaway, Assurance Partner, PwC Who is iNvolved? We have a passionate and dedicated board of directors including: Chairman: Nigel Mills Vice Chairman: Lorna Moran Board Members: Sir Peter Vardy, Tom Maxfield, Steven Bell, Keith Miller, John Hays, Julie Drummond, Lisa Hart Shepherd, John Waterworth, Paul Walker, Brian Jobling, Graham Robb and Alastair Waite.

get iNvolved We’d be delighted to talk to you more about the Forum and if you have any questions please call us on 0191 500 7780.

“the exchange programme is the perfect opportunity to learn from inspirational and enormously successful business leaders and mix with others who are driving businesses forward in the region. it will be immensely valuable for me and my team and i’d encourage others to involve their leadership teams to gain an entrepreneurial perspective alongside their other development activities.” Silvie Adams, Spire Washington Hospital


News Powerful news stories from the Forum’s Individual and Exchange Members and our corporate partners based throughout the North East region

Individual Members

Star quality: The Keltie Cochrane team

FeeliNg the Force Newcastle-based creative firm Keltie Cochrane has completed a major assignment to design the front covers and online trailer of the latest Star Wars novels. Keltie Cochrane’s unique design talents were sought out directly by Random House in New York and Lucas Film Ltd in San Francisco to pitch for the project. Despite being up against a movie poster design studio in New York, the firm won out with its unique style and ideas. “It’s a dream come true,” said creative director Ian Keltie.

mAteriAl WeAlth Green innovation support company C2M UK Ltd has been awarded €800,000 from the European Union’s Eco Innovation fund to produce a new material which could revolutionise the UK and European construction sectors. The innovative Recycled Glass Hybrid (RGH) material, made from recycled waste, has been developed and tested by C2M and the funding has enabled the company to move into a 12,000 sq ft, manufacturing facility in County Durham.

Exchange Members

Corporate Partners

it’s A deAl For geNtoo

gold seAl oF ApprovAl

Property business Gentoo has become one of the UK’s first Green Deal pioneers that will work towards becoming an accredited Green Deal Provider after signing an agreement with the Government. The company has joined a group containing 22 other organisations which will work on developing key Green Deal systems and processes that will need to be fully functional to ensure the scheme works for consumers when it goes live.

North East technology company TSG has struck gold in a tough test of its services by global software giant Microsoft. The Gosforth-headquartered IT support business is now among only 1% of the 650,000 Microsoft Partners worldwide good enough to achieve gold in a string of top level competencies, including server platforms and enterprise resource planning.

Nissan has signed a memorandum of understanding with Gateshead College to develop a Zero Emission Centre of Excellence in the North East. The new centre will act as a business incubator for the electric vehicle industry, creating jobs in the region and developing knowledge and technology. The initial research and development focus will be on battery second life and charging points.

third time lucky Benfield’s expansion continues at pace

AccelerAted groWth The North East’s largest motor group, Benfield, is continuing to drive its expansion plans with the announcement it is building a flagship £5m Ford Dealership in Sunderland. The proposed Ford retail outlet on Newcastle Road follows Benfield’s acquisition of the present Jennings Ford passenger car franchise on Riverside Road on Wessington Way in Sunderland.

busiNesses to shApe up

pedAl poWer

A North East entrepreneur has joined academics from Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities to launch a new service aimed at improving the profitability and performance of firms by focusing on the health and wellbeing of their employees. Newcastle-based EIP Group, which is the brainchild of entrepreneur Neil Cameron, has developed a range of health promotion programmes to engage and inspire workforces by helping them to improve the way they manage stress, fitness and nutrition.

Law firm Muckle LLP is helping former footballer Robbie Elliott raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer as he plans to cycle between the clubs managed by Sir Bobby Robson. Muckle assisted in setting up a foundation to distribute the funds raised. The firm recently won the Yorkshire Bank and Entrepreneurs’ Forum-backed Heart of the Community award at the nebusinessawards 2012.


vehicle ceNtre revs up

Organisations can now bid for a share of the third round of the Regional Growth Fund, which aims to deliver a further £1bn into the economy to encourage local enterprise, growth and job creation across a range of sectors. PwC has supported a number of organisations in the first two rounds and there is already a significant level of interest in the third round, which closes on June 13.

Deal maker: Mark Webster, partner at PwC

In Focus

Fast tracker founder sara murray on the rise of her latest venture, tracking technology firm buddi

Given that she founded one of the UK’s most lucrative insurance-related products, it’s perhaps a little surprising that Sara Murray finds the whole insurance game entirely boring. What does float her boat, however, is nurturing ideas, which may have crept up on her unexpectedly, into money-making machines with global potential. Not that money is her goal, the founder insists, as she ponders the choices which led to her early success. “Building a business is my motivation. It’s almost like having a child, growing something from scratch,” she says from the sidelines of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Achieve conference. “Confused came out of an internet bubble and it was an extraordinary market in that, as a start-up in the UK, you normally can’t get any funding from anywhere. I had the idea and wrote the business plan overnight and the next day went to 3i and asked for £6m and they said yes, which just doesn’t happen ever.” Within 18 months of

that remarkable funding feat, having built up a customer base of 250,000, Murray sold what was then known as to Admiral. When she’s not flying helicopters or skiing, Murray’s days are now dominated by buddi, the £4m-a-year technology business she launched in 2005 which is currently threatening to become a global phenomenon. It started as an idea for a device to keep her children from wandering off. Today, however, it is used by local authorities to monitor dementia sufferers, mental health patients and also has applications in the security sector – including the monitoring of young offenders here and overseas. The idea behind buddi first struck her on a trip to the supermarket during which she had briefly lost one of her children. Such stories, admits Murray, do help entrepreneurs in the early days when pitching for funding and selling the concept of their products. “If you tell the story in a way that people get, then they will be more likely to engage with the product and the company.

“They’ll also see that it isn’t purely about making money – nobody likes someone who’s motivated purely by making money.” Murray believes the ability to unearth talent before others has also played a key role in the rapid rise of buddi. “I try to spot the talent and then work out a role for them in the business. When I see someone who’s clearly talented I want them first, and then figure out what to do with them,” she says. Alongside her 34-strong cherry-picked team, Murray also relies on mentors and a heavyweight board of advisors. “It’s hugely valuable to have an advisory board or a group of people that you don’t have to give very much to that just enjoy being part of the business. You get really different advice which you can’t get from one person. “Sometimes you are making decisions where you are thinking this is either going to be a Harvard business case or it is going to destroy the company and I don’t know which it is before I’ve done it and embarked on a decision. So if you ask lots of people for advice, hopefully you’ll minimise the chances of it going wrong.” While many entrepreneurs reflect on highs and lows in business, Murray sees only opportunities and the challenges they present. “I don’t have low points because you’re running on adrenalin all the time. People are happiest when surviving in a challenging environment. A problem can just be brushed off as a chance to ask yourself how you can make it better or avoid it next time.” To hear more inspiring stories like Sara’s, which she shared at the Achieve conference, book a place at our annual conference by visiting

sara murray on... Women in business...”We should encourage more women into engineering. I left school without ever having heard the word engineer.” Government strategy...”We have to focus on high growth businesses which account for the new jobs that we need.” Nature or nurture?..”For me it was definitely innate. I had the same upbringing as my siblings but none of them are entrepreneurs.”


Conference Reflections on one of the biggest events for business women the region has ever seen and a look forward to two major conferences for North East entrepreneurs


Who Dares Wins

Almost 200 female entrepreneurs and senior women in the corporate world were encouraged to focus less on finding the ‘big idea’ and more on seeking the confidence and determination to succeed at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Achieve conference, which was sponsored by Gentoo Group. Held in Gateshead on International Women’s Day on March 8, the event set out to inspire female business leaders and encourage growth through the sharing of stories by women who have already enjoyed regional and national success. Speakers at the event included founder Sara Murray, frozen foods entrepreneur Kirsty Henshaw and Judy Naake, who brought St Tropez tanning to the UK, alongside North East entrepreneurs Fiona Cruickshank, Fiona Raglan, Sara Davies, Dr Joanna Berry and Nickie Gott. Forum vice chairman and founder of recruitment firm NRG, Lorna Moran, told delegates at the conference that women needed “talent, the vision of where you want to be and the life you want to lead; you need a dream and self belief”. The conference generated the best feedback ever received by the Forum, with a post-event survey recording an average satisfaction rate of 88%.

Optimism and opportunities will provide a backdrop for our biggest event, showcasing the true spirit of entrepreneurialism in the North East. Our Who Dares Wins conference on May 17 promises to be a day of inspiration and knowledge sharing with some of the country’s most successful business leaders. From Coffee Nation’s Martyn Dawes and the Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Stephen Catlin to outdoors expert Ray Mears, agile business leaders will pick up vital techniques from the experts for staying fighting fit in business. Also in attendance will be Keith Milller, founder and group chairman of globally successful Cramlington-based firm, Miller International. Meanwhile, author and former City editor of The Times and Evening Standard, Anthony Hilton, will be on hand to offer his views on the market. Penny Mallory, the first woman to drive a World Rally car who now works with the McLaren Formula One team, will host the event, which is followed by a black tie dinner and awards ceremony in the evening to celebrate the region’s big entrepreneurial achievers. We are proud to have the support for this event from headline sponsor Yorkshire Bank, and our associate sponsor Nine Software.

Fortune Favours The Brave To achieve success and growth in business you need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Simple? Never! Whichever route you take, whichever corner you turn, the challenges remain the same - creating the vision, empowering the team, communicating effectively, getting the culture right and as a leader making decisions - and ideally but not always getting them right. One of the best ways to help you make decisions is to learn from those who have already navigated a successful path to creating a great business. Sometimes no amount of research can prepare you for what’s in store but hearing about the experiences and mistakes of others whose business has survived to tell the tale, can be invaluable in avoiding the pitfalls and seizing the opportunities before you. Join us at this powerful autumn conference and celebrate what happens when fortune favours the brave. The conference promises to be an unmissable event and is open to people running businesses of all sizes.

Secure your place now for the Forum’s showcase conferences:


may 17, 2012: Who dAres WiNs: Annual conference and Awards ceremony

November 8, 2012: FortuNe FAvours the brAve: Autumn business conference

Venue: Hilton NewcastleGateshead Time: Conference 8am – 4:30pm Awards Ceremony 7pm – 11:30pm Cost: Conference tickets from £150 + VAT, Awards ceremony tickets from £75 + VAT Tables are available for the evening awards ceremony if you would like to bring guests for a night of celebration. Please contact us immediately to secure your seats.

Venue: Hilton NewcastleGateshead Time: 8am – 5pm Cost: From £135 + VAT

march 7, 2013: Achieve: international Women’s day North east conference Venue: Hilton NewcastleGateshead Time: 9am – 4pm Cost: From £75 + VAT

Install a charge post and join the North East electric vehicle revolution

% 0 0 1 50% g

n i d n u f available

Electric vehicles are a major part of the transport of the future and are set to revolutionise our lives. With tens of thousands of sales predicted over the next few years, these green vehicles are not only good for the environment but they’re incredibly cost effective to run too. Of course, putting the infrastructure in place to ensure that drivers are never too far away from a charging post is essential – that’s why the North East is leading the way. These posts are popping up everywhere and businesses are seeing the benefits of providing charging access for themselves, their employees, customers or clients. And with funding available towards every standard post fitted in North East England there’s never been a better time to lead the charge.

Up to 1,000 electric vehicle charging points are being installed in North East England. Find out how you can play your part at or email Project funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), One North East and North East regional parties.



REDUNDANCY’S NO ANSWER Businesses of all sizes are having to work harder than ever to maintain profits and sometimes even to stay afloat. Frequent as they are though, arbitrary decisions to reduce head count are not the way to cut costs and do more damage, argues Will Fatherley Whether around the boardroom table, on the golf course or by the water cooler, everyone has been privy to conversations about companies that have been through at least one round of cuts – with usually around 10% of staff across the board paying the price. Some readers may even have led the cuts at their organisation or experienced them the hard way, through redundancy. When times get tough, pressure soon builds and stakeholders look for decisive action. Scrutinising accounts invariably shows salaries as one of the big overheads. Management often then leap ahead - reducing head count, while expecting those left to cover the additional work. But although losing some of your workforce is never an easy decision, it’s almost always the wrong one too. In most cases the best staff leave, remaining employees suffer and in time, quality and clients suffer. The business spirals downwards. It becomes harder than ever to turn it around. The good news is that those desperately needed savings can usually, with effort, be found in a more structured way elsewhere. The road to success lies in objectivity. Employ someone internally or externally with the time and knowhow to scrutinise your businesses processes - not just the figures in front of you - and you’ll be astonished at what comes back. Quick wins can be gained doing this in even the most basic ways. For example, when negotiating deals or looking at supply contracts, businesses often neglect to build in review periods – or don’t actually carry the reviews out. The worst cases arise where a


supplier has been in place for years and good service has created loyalty. It is guaranteed that those contract fees will have increased over time. A quick review of competitor costs can be an eye-opener and a useful prompt to reopen dialogue. Admittedly this is an approach which may be more appropriate to commodity markets; the delivery of key performance indicators should be the focus where more stable markets are concerned. Having looked at price, which can reveal savings, look at the consumption of these goods and services. Ability to identify waste is a very powerful thing within a business. Research by the Lean Enterprise Research Centre has shown that in physical environments (such as manufacturing or processing), only 5% of work done is what the customer is paying for – the rest is either waste or a support activity. In the environment of information (eg offices), the figure drops to 1%. If you know how and where your business is being inefficient, you can address the situation. Organisations can quickly eradicate waste and make savings if they take the time to look and find it. Properly looking at what’s going on within an organisation can actually cause deep unease at management level, which is why many businesses choose to maintain the status quo. How often have you heard someone say they’d do it differently if only they had a blank sheet of paper? A restructure is a brave move but can pay dividends fast – and it doesn’t have to be synonymous with job losses. Interrogating processes may take time but are worthwhile. March ThirtyOne has just completed a study for a North East Top 200


company and is now projecting to save 20% of its base costs, working out about £300k a year. The key to this achievement was an ability to get under the skin of the operation, identify excess consumption and waste and structure a planned solution based on the needs of the business. One of many reasons why Nissan is a world leader in its sector is because it has continuous improvement at its heart. When the recession hit, among other initiatives it introduced Free Cash-Flow Management. Recognising it might not be able to rely on cash from sales and profit (remember, cash flow is king), it focused on expense and inventory reductions. These have enabled it to continue its investment into new core technologies for the future, such as the electric vehicle and global compact car. It forced itself to look internally for solutions, showing what can be achieved when you do this. Conversely, the public sector has the reputation it does because cost improvements have historically not been at its heart. Ever had a public sector contract and been asked to bill for work not yet carried out before the end of March so the contact can safeguard next year’s budget? This is illogical and potentially damaging to the business. Money should not be ring fenced because that was the figure allocated the year before – instead the budget should reflect the costed plan for the year ahead. With the right rationale, it’s possible the budget could increase rather than decrease. There are no good and bad industries where achieving cost efficiencies are concerned. It all comes down to the culture within an individual organisation. Those investing the time and resources to look openly and honestly at their procedures – and making changes where they’re merited - are the businesses seeing a positive impact on their bottom line. n Will Fatherley is managing director of the Newcastle firm March ThirtyOne.



When times get tough, pressure soon builds and stakeholders look for decisive action





CHANGE THE FRONT PAGE Ian Dormer, a champion of North East business, hopes headlines and chatter will have changed for the better after his term as national chairman of the Institute of Directors is over. He tells Brian Nicholls why




Ian Dormer’s aspirations as he heads the Institute of Directors nationally are twofold. At the end of his term as chairman – be that three years on or six – he’d like business, when reported in the media and discussed on the high street, to be seen as “a really positive good thing, rather than the negative image often projected on front pages now.” He’ll also work from his privileged London chair to realise the IoD goal of ensuring directors are fit for purpose. “The two things are linked,” he points out, contemplating with BQ the new appointment from his spartan managing director’s office at Rosh Engineering in Birtley. “If we directors do our job well, business will be regarded as a good thing.” Dormer loves media, in truth, especially the memories of working in it himself, and the journalists he knows and has known - even if he did have to act unilaterally to modernise print publishing. Early in his career, during the battles over modernising British print and publishing technology, he worked at Flight International, a major title in a 100-strong publications group. Many journalists on various newspapers and magazines for some time refused to use computers without a pay rise. Dormer, who’d used them at university, couldn’t abide copy paper, “carbons” and rip-it-out- and-startagain rituals. He quit a recalcitrant trade union to use a computer. He kept his job, and within six months of seeing the user benefits, the entire editorial staff had followed suit. He only gave up journalism when invited to inherit the business his parents Roy and Sheila – hence Rosh – ran. It was 1989. “The business then was run from a front bedroom, and employed three people on a temporary ad hoc basis,” he recalls. “I’m not an engineer. The best thing I could do was grow the business and employ qualified engineers. Over the next five years I drove the business very hard.” Wise thinking. The firm works with on-site electricity transformers – replacing, uprating, repairing, dismantling, cleaning, painting, testing, project managing and advising. It has just helped resuscitate Redcar’s massive steelworks under SSI’s new ownership after near closure. The work generally is critical,


potentially dangerous and without scrupulous application of safeguards. Dormer pushes our two mugs of tea closer together on the table between us. He explains: “You can have two pieces of equipment close together like this with only four or five metres between. You’re working on one with no power going through. But there may be four and a half thousand volts going through the other. Do something stupid like swinging a scaffolding pole the wrong way or toppling a ladder, and you’ll die. It’s very demanding work, but satisfying and rewarding also when all goes well.” All’s going well. The firm has now grown into its fourth location. The workforce, up to 30 strong and mostly working away at power stations and big industrial sites, includes five fully qualified graduate engineers and two trainee engineers. The client list includes EDF Energy, Scottish and Southern Energy, Western Power Distribution, United Utilities, Nexus, Lafarge, and Ford Motor Company. Turnover is £3m-plus, with profit rather than turnover the goal. Under Dormer, the firm also covers the Benelux countries and Ireland, but focus presently is on the UK where a lot of the electricity supply’s network installed in the 1960s has a lifespan now requiring attention. Outside the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the British Safety Council you’ll be pressed to find anyone more concerned than he about health and safety. A plethora of framed certificates hanging in the reception area, and his chairing of an IoD-HSE group, confirms this. He lectures on the subject across Europe. He’s concerned that British firms often lose out because they follow EU rules conscientiously

while others apparently don’t. He cites insistence on scaffolding for work even only 12ft off the ground - the essence of a transformer painting contract he pitched for in The Netherlands. He agrees the sense in scaffolding but was asked why he intended using it there. He explained the height and safety factor but was told: “No Dutch company would use it.” Says Dormer: “How can I tell my site staff that it’s safe to work off a ladder at that height in Holland but unsafe in Britain? We bid to include scaffolding and lost the contract. We wanted to do it safely. The Dutch didn’t.” He cited this instance also during a speech on essential leadership at an EC conference in Bilbao. A sympathetic member of the audience, from an Irish company, quoted a similar deadlock over building a power station there in Bilbao. An EC commissioner present agreed this was all wrong; the same standards should be applied throughout Europe. “We need more legislation,” he declared. Says Dormer: “My head hit the lectern. I told him he was missing the point. There’s already legislation. It’s just not being applied. UK business is damn good at complying with rules and laws. This is the world we’re in. We knock ourselves in Britain about how we run British business. Yet It has transformed itself over the years.” Dormer, 48, has been active with the IoD nationally since the early 1990s serving also as chairman in the North East, a region whose way of life (he and his family live in Gosforth) he much prefers over London’s. Having worked so extensively also with other bodies promoting the North East’s good, might he as national chairman now advocate a national economic push for weaker regions, to >>

There may be four and a half thousand volts going through. Do something stupid like swinging a scaffolding pole the wrong way or toppling a ladder, and you’ll die. It’s very demanding work




benefit the UK economy as a whole? “One of my bugbears,” he replies, “is that we knock ourselves in the North East far too much. We have some top drawer businesses that are extraordinarily successful. Instead of focussing on what works, and what we’re good at, we hanker after things now not successful, or which have even died. The more we start building ourselves up, the better. “I’m a big advocate in London of how great the North East is. We’ve an extraordinarily skilled, dedicated, committed and passionate workforce.” He cites how Nissan, as Europe’s most productive operation, has ended an embarrassment of Britain’s motor industry having once been the laughing stock. He cites high tech achievements of a home-grown Sage now gaining global domination. And Greggs, started on Gosforth High Street and now having taken over the UK. “These are what we should sing about,” he suggests, “not shipbuilding and coalmining.” But what if coalmining returns under a new



First and foremost, we need a central government giving businesses an environment in which to prosper. Take our handcuffs off. We’ll do the rest clean process safer to human life than earlier methods were? “Fine,” he says. “But we’ve got to start saying where the real positives are in business and industry. Success breeds success.” He was much involved in the work of One North East. Now the regional development agency is no more, does he sense a loss of platform from which to progress strategic policies? He replies: “The Local Enterprise Partnerships now in place obviously must try to find their feet and move forward. ONE shifted a great deal forward in terms of


structural improvements. But there’s no point in saying it would be good to have that still. That’s it. “We must move on and make the most of what we’ve got. Let’s hope LEPs can do things. Government doesn’t have the money it once had. We have to do things for less. “Through innovation, we in the North East will make the most of what we do have. I believe government should only do what we can’t do for ourselves. Say we want to build a decent road north and a decent road west from Newcastle. I’d like also high speed trains to


come to the North East too, not just Birmingham and the West. We also want the best airport and port facilities. Businesses can’t necessarily do these things. We need government to come in with us there.” Would this prominent North East antidevolutionist take the same stand now that the Government has favoured Scotland with the new Green Investment Bank that the North East made a case for, and which some might feel is part of a bigger appeasement to weaken support for Scottish independence in any referendum held about that? “I took my stand because the North East wasn’t offered devolution,” he answers. “The Bill in question gave us fundamentally no more power than we have now. It was almost a sop, merely committing us to another tier of political bodies likely to get even more in the way of business. “All we need is for our political representatives here to get together. This region isn’t a diverse political grouping. We’ve Labour MPs and Labour councillors very largely. We need to have them fight for us politically if that’s what’s needed. But, first and foremost, we need a central government giving businesses an environment in which to prosper. Take our handcuffs off. We’ll do the rest. “Politicians often think they’re helping when really they’re hindering. I’m often asked what piece of legislation would you like rid of? It’s not one piece; it’s a multitude. So much time in business is distracted by legislation. Employment laws are probably the biggest hindrance to moving forward. With so much new legislation coming out constantly you can easily make a mistake unintentionally.” The IoD tries, even so, to promote among members and the general corporate community good leadership, good corporate governance, and responsible leadership. Dormer explains: “You become a director suddenly and think you know what you’re doing. Rubbish. We expect our staff to learn continually. So should company directors.” Thus it runs programmes leading to chartered director status, which carries Royal Assent. “It’s now an important pillar of what we do – tough, but meant to be,” he says. “The end game is that you understand about processes and standards a good company director


should follow.”Participants undergo a certificate of diploma course, followed by a peer group interview. It’s based on academic knowledge, technical knowledge and personal experience and, he points out: “Even when you have it the only way you can maintain chartered status is by continuing professional development. I’ve sat in on interviews with extremely capable directors and when you shake their hand at

the end it’s sweating. It’s not easy, not cheap but valuable. Directors coming through say it improves their own performance and, in so doing, benefits their organisations.” Ian is himself doing the course. Meanwhile, back to the economy. His conviction is that a low tax economy will encourage firms, whether coming to the UK or in the UK already. He describes GlaxoSmithKline’s recently announced £500m investment >>

Ian Dormer in person Ian Dormer, born Loughborough, raised in Newcastle from the age of 11. Attended university in Essex and Washington DC. A journalist in London for four years. Returned to the North East permanently at the age of 25. Early 1990s becomes a member of IoD, later joins the main board (1999) and chairs the membership and chartered director committees, sitting also on the nominations committee. 1998 - 2001 North East chairman, IoD. 1999 - 2005 Director, Northern Business Forum. 2000 - 2004 Director and chairman, Business Link Tyne and Wear. 2004 - 2010 Vice chairman, the Institute of Directors. 2004 A founder/director in the successful North East Says No Campaign Group. 2007 - 2010 Chairman of the IoD - HSE oversight group on guidance for leading health and safety at work. 2007 - 2012 Board member, One North East, and later chairman of its audit committee and its extended enterprise holding company, Enterprise Development NE Ltd (as above). 2008 - 2011 Chairman, Enterprise Development North East Ltd. 2009 - 2010 (approx) Chairman, North East Business Support Simplification Programme’s transition management board. 2009 - 2011 Board member of 1NG Ltd, the development company covering the Newcastle and Gateshead area. 2012 National chairman, IoD.





I come from a small business but we depend on big businesses for our livelihood. We must work together. Both have challenges and different ways. But we need businesses big and small into UK operations as “significant”. The firm says recent tax cuts were an influence. Whatever, it brightens prospects for Barnard Castle whose plant was repeatedly rumoured to be nearing closure. And Dormer maintains that low tax economies encourage businesses, and businesses employ people. “The more people we have employed, the better life is for society,” he adds. “I come from a small business but we depend on big businesses for our livelihood. We must work together. Both have challenges and different ways. But we need businesses big and small.” Within the IoD his commitment to the best interests of British business is praised, as is his championing of responsible commerce and the positive role it can play. The organisation he now leads has 40,000 members, from corporation chief executives to start-up directors, and a 109-year history. It calls itself a non-party political organisation, passing members’ views to ministers, MPs and senior civil servants. Ian Dormer may not be a sparkie in the day job at Birtley, but behind the majestic Regency facade of the IoD headquarters on Pall Mall his enthusiasm should get sparks flying – in a practical way – both for the North East and for businesses big and small. n


Time to unite: Ian Dormer believes small and big firms need to work closely together ONLINE: As the nation is plunged back into recession, BQ analyses the state of play for directors across the region’s key sectors.



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ON WITH THE STARS Sunderland’s lift-off in international entertainment is fuelled in part by Gary Hutchinson, who’s bringing in big names of showbiz and raising standards of catering. All that plus his task list for the Premiership football club. He tells Brian Nicholls what’s involved

Centre circle at The Stadium of Light once had a simple purpose. It was where forwards kicked off again after someone, hopefully Sunderland, had scored. Now, while the red and white fans will still see it that way, Gary Hutchinson sees it also as a magic circle, where the way is prepared perhaps for an elephant to appear out of nowhere. Or a big clown. A massive man. A waterfall. A fire, even – albeit controlled. “Logistical challenges is one way of putting it,” he suggests, speaking now of his moneyspinning fulfilment of ambition to diversify his love supreme, Sunderland AFC and its stadium, far beyond its core activity of Premiership football. An ex-waiter recently appointed to the club board as commercial director, he now builds the club’s and ground’s reputation also as an

open-air concert venue and events organiser. It’s maximising assets and building on the city’s growing name as an entertainment venue, Sunderland already being host to Europe’s largest free international air show. By the end of this year the stadium will have hosted 12 big-name concerts, and 650,000 music fans in all, in addition to the football spectators, will have packed the venue. The local economy will be better off by maybe £42m. Over three years nine musical events have already been held, starring the like of Take That (twice), Oasis, Pink, and The Kings of Leon. On June 7 it will be Coldplay, with Bruce Springsteen to follow on June 21 and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on June 24. Limited to football’s close season, concerts have a small window of opportunity, especially as the


football pitch has to be reseeded before each new soccer season. This year, with the football season due to start later due to the London Olympics, there has been a little more time. Even so, planning and organising each concert takes up to nine months, and far from it being a soccer sideline, more than 200 businesses work with the club including Nissan, Gentoo, Nexus and Caterpillar. Hutchinson, who himself looks a little like a young David Essex, is involved in every step, and six working groups have specific tasks. Sunderland the city also benefits in having Hutchinson as unpaid chairman of its committee within the North East Chamber of Commerce, and therefore having bearing there on aspects of the city’s economy and general progress. Hutchinson sees that role >>

New turf: SAFC’s home is now far more than a football stadium thanks to Gary Hutchinson


SUCCESS STORY as being a conduit between the private and public sectors. It’s working very well, he says, because the sectors share a synergy anyway. So they should. For these concerts alone, day visitors from anywhere in the North East may each spend £30 plus in the city. They’re perhaps 80% of an audience. The other 20% may spend £54. And none of this includes tickets or overnight stays. Transport, infrastructure, hotels, stock,


tourism, leisure – it all swells local income. “It was a bit of a battle to convince some people Sunderland was suitable for a stadium concert,” Hutchinson says. “Gateshead Stadium had staged the last one in the region, with Tina Turner, and that was some time previously. The Arena at Newcastle sells very well. We still felt there was a gap in the market.” Even so, it took nearly four years of pestering

promoters before one agreed. The outcome was a success. “In years since it’s been all about building pedigree,” Hutchinson says. “A promoter wants maximum capacity, and all tickets sold. If you’ve the necessary catchment area of interest you’re halfway there. But also a promoter needs to find it easy to do business with you.” He admits he’s gone through a culture change. “There’s far more to it than hiring out a >>

A tasty date Still only 31, Gary Hutchinson has launched a second non-football enterprise for club and city. 1879 Events Ltd, a subsidiary started early this year, is now the club’s external event management company, a “collective brainchild” that he says is “raising our reputation, expertise and skills and taking them off-site - a one-stop shop, events service away from the stadium as well as at it.” Besides overseeing club sales and events divisions as before, and leading business partnerships and strategies with key regional stakeholders, Hutchinson says for the additional job now in hand: “Few companies in the country have the mass resources and equipment we have.” While it enjoys a midweek business separate from match day catering - dinners, conferences and other events – the club recognises some firms and other celebrants might wish to hold dinners and other social events in their own factory, or other venue. “Catering, hospitality, stewarding, ticketing, facilities management – we can still provide any or all of that anywhere,” Hutchinson promises. “A customer could say: ‘Put that event in the middle of a field in Northumberland and deliver me xxx. We can go away and do that.” Hosting 40,000 or so during football, and maybe 56,000 during a concert, the 1879 product – he is confident - is bang up to 2012 in meeting market needs as little or as plentiful as a client wants. He recites the human resource: over 400 experienced stewards, 700 catering staff, a core team of leaders. A corps


of event management students too, through a club partnership with Sunderland University, which includes a presence in the varsity curriculum. “A massive skills base of well over 1,000 staff,” he points out. He should also include his own attributes. He and Sunderland AFC have been inseparable for 14 years. He left Red House Comprehensive School in the city with 11 GCSEs including an A* in French. In other circumstances he might have been working today on Nissan’s production line. But besides learning engineering at the car factory initially, he was a part-time collector of drinks glasses at The Ropery restaurants, part-time also at The Saltgrass bar. Increasingly he felt pulled towards the leisure industry. After some shifts at the football club he left Nissan to join sales with Scottish Courage, rising to sales executive then regional key account manager and sales manager for Newcastle Breweries in the North East. He had continued working part-time at The Stadium of Light, diners and management having appreciated his smile and prompt service as a waiter in the banqueting suite. Then eight years ago, he was made full-time catering manager. Catering revenues rose as relegation lowered the football income temporarily. Once made general manager, he considered live concerts. These experiences now enable him to take 1879 Events out into a wider market away from home. “I want to add our unique selling point,” he says. “We produce over 75% of the food here on site from scratch - soups, stocks, desserts. We do mass volume for match days. We have good suppliers behind us. So we’re


confident about quality and volume. The service was trialled throughout last year. Now? “We’re getting some good pick-ups so far.” These include Teesside business awards at Teesside University and Sunderland’s retail awards at The Bridges shopping mall. The 1879 date was when the football club was founded – subtle reference to it in the business name. The debranding is to counter football rivalries. “People won’t want to see Sunderland AFC delivering an event in the middle of Newcastle for example,” he admits. “This 1879 isn’t Sunderland AFC but, rather, an expert in catering, hospitality and venue management. Our aspiration is to go right across the region.” He’s modest about his achievements. “I was raised on a council estate and went to a tough school. I haven’t got a degree but I do have drive and have worked 110% to get to this point. If I can do it, anyone can,” he suggests. And if he had a free choice of acts to bring to the North East, who would they be? “I’m a fan of many types of music – it happens when you’re in the business. So: Killers, U2, Madonna – and Kings of Leon again.” Gary Hutchinson could clearly be on the way to something bigger. But thousands of Mackems whose lives he has lifted will be delighted that the club and the city are where he intends to stay. SAFC chief executive Margaret Byrne describes his commitment, enthusiasm and drive as “tremendous assets” for the club. “His knowledge of the regional business landscape and the effective partnerships he has established with key stakeholders throughout the city and the North East will be invaluable as we look to grow and develop the club on and off the field,” she says.

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Afterwards: two or three days’ stripdown. Take That, rigorous rehearsers, arrived in Sunderland two weeks beforehand. They found the North East crowds are very lively, and loud. But any footballer could have told them that. n

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Pitch battle: Turning The Stadium of Light into a concert hub hasn’t been easy

Music promotion is very rewarding but very challenging. We’ve enhanced what we are and we have really good people working on this

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stadium. Music and football are two very different businesses. “So you must get into their world, build relationships – understand the market and know what’s going on there. It’s no good going to a promoter just about to launch a tour. So it’s also about timing. “I think we do these things very well now. Partnership working is something this city is very good at.” There can be no insistence about who should appear. The promoter indicates who might be available, bids for the act and must be confident the venue will fill. Liabilities for the club? “Yes, as with any event. Cancellation where perhaps an artist can’t perform is a risk. It’s up to us to protect our business against that, and any disaster or major issue. Touch wood, that hasn’t


happened at many venues. When it does, you need procedures. We’ve contingency plans for football too. “Music promotion’s very rewarding, but very challenging . We’ve learnt a lot. We’ve adapted some things that didn’t always work well and kept on things that do. We’ve enhanced what we are, and have really good people working on this.” As a concert approaches, the promoter may be present for up to eight days. A fleet of anything up to 90 trucks turns up with the electronic equipment, lighting – plus elephant, clown... who knows what other eye-popping props and gimmicks an act will ask Hutchinson and his teams to accommodate? Normally there’s a three or four day build, then a production day and the main show day.


peter Sleigh, regional Director Commercial Banking, north Email: Michael Burrow, regional Director Business Banking, north Email: Try our online business planner by visiting

All information within this magazine is produced by room501. Please note that the views and information have not been endorsed, issued or approved by NatWest. Any views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of NatWest.


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Sailaway success North East waterfronts look quieter than they once did. But the region’s marine insurance sector has a new unity promising rich global growth, as Geoff Parkinson explains to Brian Nicholls BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12



No seagull in sight, no whoop from a ship. We’re on a wooded business park, 13 miles inland, visiting elated insurers of more than 12,500 fishing vessels – and thousands of other craft working around the world besides. They’re elated because they’re celebrating their 130th anniversary with an entry into a strategic partnership, an “exciting opportunity” that promises to progress their own global networks and raise the North East region’s growing stature as a major hub of marine insurance. Elated, too, because Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company, amid challenges from the global financial crisis, sees new markets and opportunities and new products of global potential. The firm insures boats against damage and ship owners against financial loss in more than 50 countries. It’s the eldest provider of insurance to fish farming and a global leader in aquaculture markets. Yet its auspicious anniversary falls not in the coastal city it’s named after but inland at Durham City, to which it relocated its international headquarters in 2005. Success and necessity dictated the move. It previously operated from a row of nine Victorian houses on the Esplanade at Sunderland, six of which it owned. With staff numbers and overseas business rising, space ran out. Chief executive Geoff Parkinson recalls: “We tried to relocate within Sunderland on several occasions. But it wasn’t that easy. We discussed three sites with Sunderland Council. “One offered to us we spent some time and money researching, only for it to be pulled

away with no real reason given.” Sunderland’s different now. Sunderland Council’s business investment team, by attracting inward investment and supporting and developing home grown companies, has attracted 5,500 new jobs and £900m of capital investment during the past three years. That didn’t cover Sunderland Marine’s hour of need however and, frustrated, it contacted County Durham Development Company. The CDDC responded the same day. Parkinson had noted a site previously used by Sport England and yes, County Durham could consider that. The deal was done. “Such wonderful co-operation, it was incredible,” Parkinson says. “It was a very easy choice for us to move here.” Here is Aykley Heads, where neighbours include North East Chamber of Commerce and the Vardy Group of Companies. Sunderland City Council, had it been championing the private sector and the city port’s regeneration as it does now, would probably have moved heaven and earth to keep on its patch this company with £73m turnover and international renown. But as Parkinson says: “We were welcomed to Durham with open arms.” Many employees have relocated into the county. And building the new headquarters cost amazingly little. “We were able to pay for it within a year and still show a record year of financial results.” It worked like this. The Georgian buildings in Sunderland needed reroofing, rewiring and reheating, with new windows throughout. Total cost: £2.5m, yet no extra space. Instead the company sold the six buildings it owned for the same price, put the two sums together



and developed its modern premises for £5m. The land was freehold, and no developer was hired. A four-strong team including Geoff, Angela Vipond the chief risk officer and Alan Rowland the company secretary, did the job. Architects Tony Nicolson and Garfield Nairn of Whickham relished designing a new building with a maritime feel. While external appearances are fairly conventional, the boardroom has a wall like a ship’s side, ribs and all. Many windows are virtual portholes, marine paintings proliferate and the entrance suggests a bow. The award-winning building was delivered on time and to budget, 15 months from breaking ground. An entrance model of the lighthouse at Roker Pier reflects the Sunderland link and London, Capital of Risk, was never considered for relocation. As the company is a mutual, with policyholders the owners too, it represented, as Parkinson says, excellent investment. Its prestigious look and setting impresses visitors, often from abroad, as do its air, rail and road communications. Progress since the inaugural meeting in 1882 might astound the attendees, could they see it now. They were ship owners and brokers largely into fishing, and from Sunderland and North Shields. Meeting at John Street, Sunderland, they formed an organisation. At the time Sunderland was the country’s fourth biggest port after Newcastle, Liverpool and London. Their objective was better financial protection in event of loss or damage to their sailing drifters. Their banner was the red pennant forming today’s logo of >>

Trawling the past: Images of the once-thriving North Shields fishing industry (pictures courtesy of Beamish Museum)




Sunderland Marine. Distressed members flying it then could expect, in any crisis afloat, another member would come to help and, if necessary, tow them back to port for free. The company spread benefits south to Whitby, Scarborough and Bridlington, and north to Amble, Eyemouth and other parts of Southern Scotland. With diesel power, it became a national company insuring in Cornwall, the North East of Scotland and Ireland. Yet even in 1972, when Parkinson joined as a junior claims clerk, the operation was modest, despite already being the UK’s major insurer of fishing vessels. Parkinson was its first new employee for 15 years, joining four operational and two support people working from four rooms rented in just one of the Esplanade buildings. Business then, as now, hinged on quality, not high volume. Parkinson, not yet 18, was fascinated; every day brought something new. “The company let me visit fishermen claiming for damage, unlike in earlier years when this was done through marine surveyors,” Geoff recollects. “This way we developed a closeness with clients, sharing their problems and concerns face to face. I spent many holidays fishing as a crew member. “I learned, working closely, what winch damage or engine damage was all about. I experienced the arduous life. Fishing’s still probably one of the most dangerous industries. It’s important we fully understand its workings.” Geoff got interested in diving, did lots of the salvage work. It was comforting, literally, when the company replaced his wet suit with a dry version; comforting, too, when he was made executive director in 1993. Already a decade before, Sunderland Marine had been evolving from insuring vessels 100% in the UK to the position where, today, 85% of the business is international. The company, with 10 offices abroad, can respond 24/7 if, for example, a ship runs aground. Parkinson says: “By the time we’d almost saturated the UK market it was a question of: What now? Drop our criterion of quality to bring in more business, or look overseas?” Abroad, was the answer. First, some re-insurance in The Netherlands - business which is ongoing today. Then on to developing


We developed a closeness with clients, sharing their problems and concerns face to face. I spent many holidays fishing as a crew member. I learned, working closely, what winch damage or engine damage was all about. I experienced the arduous life. Fishing’s still probably one of the most dangerous industries. It’s important we fully understand its workings English speaking countries. “We were invited into the United States,” Parkinson points out. “The industry there was finding premiums might jump 30% one year, drop to 20% the next, then go up by 15% the year after. “But we give good security and stability. If you’re a fisherman or a charter vessel owner, or a commercial vessel operator in general, you’ve the comfort of knowing your premiums aren’t going to jump around wildly.” Now Sunderland Marine, doing all its own risk


assessment, is the dominant insurer for commercial fishing vessels in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. “I think this projects the right kind of image for an international company,” Parkinson observes – and claims a 95% retention level of members year on year. There’s no cover for vessels in the pirate infested Somali region - “there have been one or two incidents, but nothing where vessels have been taken and seized.” Fraud is no great concern either, though Parkinson admits:


“You get the odd case that’s not as it should be. We take appropriate action. If someone has a genuine claim we pay it quickly. If someone has a claim we believe is fraudulent then we aren’t very nice people to deal with. We’re protecting the interests of all members, not just one member.” Establishing a presence overseas was challenging. “The biggest thing we could offer in the like of Australia and the USA was the ethos and the ethics of doing business where the company always strongly desires to protect the client. We do lots of risk and enquiry assessment before people are allowed to join the company. We try to select the cream. “The mutual ethos is important where we take people on as policyholders and members of the company. It’s a different approach from a normally composite company. Many members have been with us for generations. It’s almost a family atmosphere. “If someone has a claim we look for a way to pay, rather than try to avoid. That gives us strength and membership loyalty.” Staff loyalty plays its part too. Many have given 20 to 30 years’ service, and often clients have dealt with the same person throughout. In a three-year cycle, probably about 80% of members will be seen. “It’s a hands-on, close control business, all about people and relationships,” Parkinson says. Anything from a 30ft Amble-type coble up to the modern supertrawler, 116m or longer, is on the books, entire large trawler fleets too. On the Thames, about 80% of local traffic – cruise and sightseeing vessels, ferries, pilot boats, refuse collectors – are entrusted to the denizens of Durham. About 30% of business covers non-fishing now - tugs, barges, harbour craft, chartered vessels. The yacht portfolio is growing too. Thus Sunderland Marine has adapted to a fishing industry which, for a century plus, has been downsizing through efficiencies, and fewer vessels – many of them computerised trawlers – are needed to net the same catches. And, adds Parkinson: “The industry also works with scientists now, so there’s close control to avoid overfishing. “There’s common ground as to how many days they can spend at sea, and allocated quotas of catch per year. Incomes are still

good and reasonable, there’s fuel efficiency and a sustainable industry that serves the biomass of fish in the sea.” Sunderland Marine spotted early on a resultant potential for fish farms, and for a quarter of a century now has also covered them, their stock and their equipment. Parkinson says: “There’ll always be a catching sector. But diversifying into farms for us has also been beneficial.” Indeed, Sunderland Marine covers members in over 15 countries for more than 50 species, and has become world-leading insurer for aquaculture products and stocks in Canada, Scotland, Australia and Chile – with their colder, clear waters. The UN considers aquaculture the world’s fastest growing animal food-producing sector, with a market value of around £50bn yearly, and yearly growth of almost 7% looking certain to accelerate. Proximity of the Scottish industry was an incentive for Sunderland Marine to stay in the North East. But also, Parkinson adds: “The North East remains very conducive to our kind of business. We’ve not only easy communication with our many clients across the border but also, with Newcastle Airport near, if we must be in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or South Africa, we’ve the wonderful Emirates airline services. Or we can be into Amsterdam or Paris – Heathrow if we must use it - within an hour to go on to our offices abroad.” Through its Vancouver office, the firm is also diversifying into cover for marine trades, such as diesel and boat repairers, and equipment suppliers. A UK tailoring is under way in conjunction with UK broking and underwriting partner, Knighthood Corporate Assurance Services. Cargo insurance may also be developed beyond stock throughput. Sunderland Marine is encouraged that already since the start in January of its collaborative agreement and partnership with North of England P&I (protection and indemnity) Association, “very interesting” opportunities have appeared. Nepia, headquartered on Newcastle Quayside, is 152 years old - the world’s second largest P&l, insuring 12.5% of the world’s tonnage. It focuses on freighters and other larger vessels. “A competitive



situation has never existed,” Parkinson says. “We insure hull and machinery. They insure owners’ legal liabilities, not ships. It’s two distinct but important sides of marine insurance. The companies have long enjoyed an open relationship. Now clear cultural and service synergies also give exciting opportunities,” he adds. Nepia employs 226 people - 192 in the region, 34 abroad. Sunderland Marine employs 113, 78 of them in the region. n

Risk brings them together There’s no financial link or merging between Tyne and Wear’s big two marine insurers. Rather, they’re sharing expertise and global knowledge. Sunderland Marine’s offices overseas include the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Nepia’s include Greece, Singapore and Hong Kong. North East standing, then, will no doubt rise too. Paul Jennings and Alan Wilson, joint managing directors of Nepia, confirm the alliance will encourage diversification, and Nepia has had Sunderland contractor Brims carry out a £4.5m extension and improvement to the Newcastle headquarters it has occupied for over 17 years. With the global market growing at around 5% annually, it too is confident of increasing market share from a current 4,000 vessels (170m tonnes), especially since seven years of perseverance have enabled it to open an office in Japan now. It’s only the third foreign insurer there, and aspires to a £30m benefit eventually. Instead of publishing its revenue and profit accounts, it calculates a free reserve, a bottom line profit based on underwriting surplus and income available to invest. It could announce soon a 15% increase in annual business, giving a bottomline gain of 9.5-12.5%.




Retail influx at Quorum, Sleeperz wakes up to North East market, For Sale signs hammered in at hotel, Parsons picked for new role, Beacon beckons, student make-over, and Valad the improver >> Nifco the giant Q10: The biggest Quorum building of all

The new factory where Nifco turns out plastic parts for almost every UK-made car is also the largest factory built in theTeesside area for almost two decades - at 130,000sq ft.

>> Senior moment Up to 60 staff will be taken on by Utopian Leisure when Newcastle entrepreneur Bob Senior opens a £1m restaurant seating up to 300 in premises formerly Bar 55 at Swan House roundabout in Newcastle.

>> Pressure’s on

>> Quorum gets shops Work on building 10,000sq ft of shops at Quorum Business Park in North Tyneside is due to be completed this autumn, with Greggs and Tesco Express among tenants committed. Office development there is now complete. It has been the UK’s largest speculative office build outside London. Currently 4,000 people work there and more are expected. The final two office buildings to be completed are Q10 - the largest building of all at 104,000sqft, and Q3, the smallest at 26,000sqft. Both hold BREEAM Excellent environmental awards. Fergus Trim, Quorum’s development director, says: “It’s been a huge project, transforming the area’s business environment.”

>> Beds galore Budget-stay Sleeperz Hotels has its second UK hotel running now - in Newcastle. The 98-bedroom, six storey rebuild on the site of a former Central Station parcels office has created 25 full-time jobs. General manager Mark Armstrong says: “We have easily exceeded our occupancy and sales targets for the first quarter and are regularly fully booked at weekends.” There could soon be two more hotels nearby. Work on Silverlink’s delayed Stephenson mixed development district behind the station, looks set to start this summer, but without a new postal sorting office earlier planned.


But the 10 acre site is expected to have besides the hotels - offices, flats, an art gallery, shops and restaurants. Its facades will now be red antique brick instead of natural sandstone. The area includes the Stephenson works where the Rocket and other early locomotives were designed and built, and which may become a major rail museum. A £25m plan for a 130 bedroom hotel, 386 bed student residences, and 30 two and three bedroom flats on the site of the former Tyne Tees TV studios in City Road, Newcastle, has been submitted by Northern Developments of Carlisle and site owner Buccleuch Property (for the Duke of Buccleuch).


With the abolition of regional development agency One North East, commercial estate agents now have a lobby group, G9, to press the Government on inward investment in the North East. They pledge to find suitable space for incoming industries and services. Participants include DTZ, Gavin Black and Partners, GVA, Jones Lang La Salle, Knight Frank, Naylors Chartered Surveyors, Sanderson Weatherall, Storeys Edward Simmons, and JK Property Consultants.

Gateway: Welcoming SMEs and start-ups

>> Serviced offices A new serviced office scheme is now open at the BREEAM “Excellent” rated business park, Gateway West, on Newburn Riverside. Business Space Solutions is providing facilities for SMEs and new enterprises. Gateway West Business Centre will accommodate set-ups from two to 250 desks on flexible terms.


>> Gate is widening More than 400 people now work at DurhamGate, Spennymoor, currently the North East’s largest mixed-use regeneration project. Alongside Stanley Black & Decker’s 180 staff at its European research and development facility, and the team delivering the DurhamGate project, 170 people work at the new headquarters of homes and communities company, Livin. DurhamGate is also home to the Fox Cub, owned by independent pub operator Marstons, which provides 45 jobs. The development, which has already received £45m of investment, comes through a partnership between Carillion Developments, part of Carillion plc, and


regional property business, Arlington Real Estate. It will feature commercial, living and leisure opportunities. A concierge service to support its marketing activities and services to residents is being led by Helen Attley, from Bishop Auckland, previously conference and events manager at Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club.

>> Suite surprise For Sale signs appeared unexpectedly at the 128 room Staybridge Suites Hotel, which opened less than three years ago in Newcastle. It was put in administration and carries a price tag of £12.5m following the collapse of its owner, Trinity Hotels of Liverpool. Trinity’s second hotel of its kind when it opened, it has been aimed primarily at


business people requiring longer stay accommodation in the North East. Tony Hordon, senior director at agents DTZ which was instructed to sell, says: “Staybridge Suites Newcastle achieved 78% occupancy in 2011 in only its second full year’s trading.”

>> £100m paint plant gets under way At least four construction firms are bidding to build AkzoNobel’s new £100m paint making plant and new home to the company’s UK Decorative Paints operations in Ashington. Kier, Sir Robert McAlpine, Morgan Sindall and GMI are all understood to be after the main £25m construction contract. Building, due to start later this year, should be >>


COMMERCIAL PROPERTY finished by late 2014. The plant will employ about 140 workers producing famous brands like Dulux. At the end of 2014, the Dutch multinational plans to close its present site in Prudhoe and its manufacturing operations in Slough. UK country director Guy Williams says: “This investment in a new world class facility highlights the importance of the North East to AkzoNobel’s operations, placing the region at the heart of our UK manufacturing business, long term.” James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, says: “This will bring jobs to an area where, with Alcan’s closure, 600 are being lost.”


>> Newcastle revivals Old look, new life

Retail review: A Grainger building is cheered inside

Leigh Parsons: Finds the right buyer

>> Fresh challenges Leigh Parsons, who brokered the sale in 2010 of the four star Doxford Hall Hotel in Northumberland, now heads up the licensed and leisure team in the North East and Yorkshire for agents Colliers International. He previously ran his own consultancy and had roles with two other agencies. Doxford Hall, developed out of a John Dobson designed country mansion, was sold by multi-millionaire Tyneside philanthropist Brian Burnie to raise funds for a cancer charity. He wanted the buyer to be a charity donor. The buyer was Robert Parker, clergyman owner of Eshott Hall and Guyzance Hall holiday and function venues. Parker has subsequently bought the award winning 29 bedroom Dalhousie Castle Hotel near Edinburgh from administrators of the Von Essen group. Parsons is focusing on pub disposals in the North East and Yorkshire in his new role.


Some of Newcastle’s finer old buildings are enjoying a new lease of life. Retail refurbishment has been completed on a Grade II listed building of three storeys on Newcastle’s Grainger Street. The building is home to Fatface and Dune, and Calvin Klein and Urban Outfitters, new to the North East. Jones Lang LaSalle, for landlords Aviva Investors Pensions Ltd, have project managed an internal transformation. The property, within Richard Grainger’s 1830s city centre development, was previously home to the Green Market. In a second project, Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle becomes, in effect, “corner store” for tenants of a revived 1-3 Gallowgate block. The five-storey architecturally listed building beside the square has had a £500,000 refurbishment and the four upper floors, unused for decades, are now apartments for up to 21 people. Only the ground floor has been used regularly - for business. Owner Lugano Property Group has had architects Archial design a six-bedroom apartment, and several single and two bedroom homes. Lugano’s land and property bank is valued at


£100m-plus. The estate is mainly in the North East but extends as far as Devon. In a third project, the Grade II listed Yorkshire Chambers at the foot of Pilgrim Street is having its offices revitalised. Originally built for Consett Iron Company, the chambers were occupied for more than 20 years latterly by GVA Grimley (formerly Lamb & Edge). Owners are the private investors Peter Smith and John Walder, former partners of Lamb & Edge. Silverstone Building Consultancy is project managing the work. Newcastle Council sees the area there as a likely new retail-led mixed use quarter. The former Bank of England building forming part of the East Pilgrim Street site may be demolished soon. In a fourth project, £50,000 is going into improving the Assembly Rooms in Westgate Road. Owner Antony Michaelides says all refurbishments are sensitive to the building’s history, and business will not be disrupted. Built in 1776, the venue showcases some of the city’s finest Georgian architecture. Conferences have recently been held there for Proctor and Gamble and the Royal Institute of British Architecture.

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>> Business park booms

>> New hotel for Darlington A multi-million pound, mixed-use commercial development is coming up on the site of the former Torrington works at Yarm Road, Darlington. Planned is a new four-storey Travelodge of 60 bedrooms, a Toby Carvery, up to 4,000sq ft of retail/ restaurant space and a speculative 17,000sq ft industrial/warehouse scheme. Completion is expected in September with 50 jobs initially, including 20 at the carvery. Agents Sanderson Weatherall are acting for Commercial Development Projects Ltd. Tim Catterall at Sandersons says: “The land had stood dormant for eight years after Torrington’s closure there in 2003.” The new development closely follows the latest letting at Unit 4 on Faverdale East Business Park. This 190,000sq ft scheme owned by Easter Developments is now taken up by Cold Store Logistics, Capita Business, Cosentino UK and Tekmar respectively.

>> Beacon beckons Harlands Accountants has taken a unit at The Beacon, the new business centre on Newcastle’s Westgate Road. Philip Murray, customer services director, says: “Around a third of our clients have NE postcodes so getting a Newcastle presence makes sense.” The firm, established in 1981, became the largest accountancy practice in Derwentside within10 years of its inception. It has restructured following the retirement of founder Ian Harland. It now comprises Harland & Co. Financial Planning LLP; and Harlands Accountants LLP. It employs 27 staff in Consett and at its Newcastle office.

>> Student takeover Danieli Group is transforming a 2,000sq m site in Newcastle – formerly a Shieldfield social club – into 105 flats for Newcastle University students, with retail and bar facilities. Gordon Brown Law Firm is advising.


Inspiring: Helen Hurry whose artwork on Teesside University’s Athena building is admired

>> Art of moving Huntsman is moving its pigments division business centre and research and development to purpose-built offices at Wynyard. For the new buildings, Titanium House and the Innovation Centre, the company has asked Teesside University’s School of Arts and Media to create large pieces of art for external decoration. Competition entries will work either as a pair or as individual pieces. The aim is to repeat the impact of the university’s £10m Athena Building on Southfield Road, Middlesbrough, which has an image created by Teesside graphic design graduate Helen Hurry.

>> Brewery linkmen The multi-million pound Sandman Signature Hotel in Newcastle is making ready its new meeting rooms named after two business notables. This 175 bedroom venue stands on the site of the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery and its Porter Room, for up to 60 delegates, is named after Colonel JH Porter, inventor of Newcastle Brown Ale. The Younger Room, for up to 35 people, is named after Sir William McEwan Younger, first chairman and managing director of Scottish and Newcastle. Both rooms have audio visual equipment, broadband and wireless internet. General manager Kevin Gilhooly says: “Both men had tremendous vision and should inspire today’s executives and entrepreneurs.”


Aycliffe Business Park, the North East’s second largest business park, has enjoyed a successful year in occupancies. Valad, the European estate investor, has completed 228,500 sq ft of lettings and sold 121,500 sq ft of industrial and office space there. All deals were on behalf of The Industrial Trust, and Valad was advised by Jones Lang LaSalle, Sanderson Weatherall and Morganfield Developments, joint agents on the park. It now has more than 250 companies on its 672 acres. New tenants include Stiller, Husqvarna, Katell and Raisco. Units sold went to A-Tech Fabrications, Finleys and BTS, which has an option to buy 50,000sq ft more.

>> Going down The unsightly 1960s three storey Wouldhave House, shops and offices in South Shields Market Place, will be demolished by year end to allow redevelopment and a clearer view through to the Tyne riverside. The market place was blitzed during World War Two.

>> Town’s twin boost Cramlington town centre is to get an M&S Simply Food outlet and a multiplex cinema – Northumberland’s first. The food outlet will open autumn 2013, creating about 80 jobs. The cinema at Manor Walks is coming through one of the UK’s largest cinema chains.

>> Extra! Read all about it Work is under way on a supermarket and four shops at Roker Retail Park in Sunderland. Contractor Barr Construction is expected to complete the 8,378sq m Tesco Extra for a spring 2013 opening. Other buildings there are being retained for existing businesses. At the north end of the city, developer Terrace Hill is about to develop a 100,000sq ft Sainsbury’s at the former Jennings car showroom. Bowmer & Kirkland is expected to build the food store, fuel station and 517 parking spaces.


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>> Office and leisure pull round Offices and leisure show market promise. Office take-up in Newcastle city centre was higher last year despite a Q4 73% plunge, compared with that of 2010, agents Knight Frank say, while another report says lettings in the North East – at 181,243sq ft – have almost doubled in Q1 this year compared with a year ago. But retail demand in the North East failed to match availability in Q1 and rental expectations still fall, says an RICS survey. Interest in retail space was flat up to March. Leisure is different. A site sold after just one day during a Q1 here of good trading, say agents Sanderson Weatherall. Futures of two major North East hotels, the Vermont and Seaham Hall, look brighter now they are sold out of administration. The four star Vermont, and nearby Martha’s Bar and Courtyard in Newcastle, has been sold to Gainford Hotels, acquired from joint administrative receivers Adrian Berry and Dan Butters of Deloitte. Gainford Hotels is part of Chester le Street’s Gainford Group that also has care homes, nurseries, building and development. The hotel was offered at £9m in September after Anthony Zivanaris, millionaire owner of the parent Lincoln Group, decided to retire. In January Lincoln Group went into receivership. A Gainford Group spokesman says that with the purchase now, supported by Santander, the 60 staff may be increased. A £3m upgrade is planned. Previously the home of Northumberland County Council, it was made into a hotel in 1993. On Durham’s coast, Seaham Hall Hotel was reportedly sold for £5m or under despite a £20m refurbishment. The buyer, following the entry into administration of Bath based Van Essen Hotels, is understood to be Bristol based Seasons Holidays. Tom Maxfield, former Sage director, who developed the hotel out of a crumbling 18th Century mansion and won it five stars before selling to Van Essen, hopes standards will be re-raised. It is one of 27 Van Essen hotels sold off and was originally placed on to the market for £12.5m. Among smaller leisure deals, The Elgins site on Redcar High Street went to best and final bids


within 24 hours of its release to market. Contracts were exchanged after three days. Kevin McGorie at Sanderson Weatherall reports “steady activity from cash-ready buyers looking for reasonably priced, well-appointed properties”. He added: “Interest is coming from parties looking for alternative uses from redevelopment of former pub/bar sites, also smaller regional leisure operators looking to extend their local portfolios.” Freehold sales of the former Base Bar in Ashington and the Hen and Chickens Hotel in Berwick have been completed. Both properties have additional upper floor accommodation. Sandersons has also been marketing the sale freehold of The Black Bull at Wardley, Gateshead, whose 1.34 acre site was being promoted as a development opportunity. A deal was expected during April. Half the former Principle Leisure Bar and Restaurant group has been acquired by Popolo Leisure of Gosforth, saving up to 300 jobs. It now has the Popolo outlets in Newcastle and Sheffield, San Lorenzo outlets at Gosforth and Cramlington and Establishment Sunderland, all acquired from the administrators, Begbies Taylor. One of the five remaining venues on the former Principle Leisure (North East) circuit put into administration last April is now individually managed. The Blackbird pub at Ponteland was taken back by its landlord and closed. Like The Blackbird, The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel at Blanchland, one of the oldest hostelries in the country, has been handed back to its landlord, in this case trustees after no suitable buyer was found. Lord Crewe was traded by J&G Inns Ltd which entered administration last November. Joint administrators Andrew Haslam and Gillian Sayburn of Begbies Traynor in Newcastle traded the loss-making hotel for two months during a marketing exercise. Haslam says: “It is sad to see such a historic inn close with the loss of eight more jobs, but we are hopeful the landlord may still secure a future for it.” The reputedly haunted building, on the edge of County Durham and the North Pennines, dates back more than 800 years. It was once


part of Blanchland Abbey. Admired by the poets Philip Larkin and WH Auden, it has been a setting for the TV plays based on Catherine Cookson’s books. J&G Inns Ltd was formed in 1996 following the purchase of the Brackenrigg Inn beside Ullswater. It was run directly by directors Garry Smith and John Welch for some years. In 2003, a limited company was formed which, in 2004, also acquired the Warkworth House Hotel in Northumberland. In 2009 the group defied tough trading and expanded again. In 2010 it acquired The Lord Crewe and The Bull Hotel, Sedbergh. Agents Christie & Co have now sold the Warkworth to an experienced family returning to the region. No decision was made immediately about the future of Brackenriggs. Confidence is growing though that pub closures may now be easing.

Appearances: How Trinity Square development will look from High Street

>> Cine-attraction Gateshead may soon get its own multi-screen cinema in the town centre for the first time. An application has been made to build a £4.7m cinema as part of the £150m Trinity Square development under way. An alternative to the out-of-town Metrocentre, the cinema would be run by the Vue chain, which has ambitions in the North East. The 24,000sq ft (2,230sq m) cinema could provide 60 jobs in a development by Tesco subsidiary Spenhill. Its Trinity Square comprises 45 shops, a student village for 993 students of Northumbria University, health facilities and a Tesco Extra store.



Having overseen the transformation of some of County Durham’s most vulnerable local communities, social landlord Cestria is building for the future with plans for growth and further investment

bringing investment home


estria Community Housing has set out plans to expand its portfolio and invest in new technologies and projects after dramatically improving thousands of homes in the area it serves. The social landlord was formed in 2008 to own and manage 4,500 properties that were previously owned by the now defunct body, Chester-le-Street District Council. At the time almost half of the properties were deemed to be below the decent homes standard set out by the Government, largely due to a lack of available public funds for investment into improving local communities. With customer satisfaction among the tenants standing at around 75%, Cestria had an immediate remit to transform both the bricks and mortar on its books and the lives of the people living in those residential areas. Having invested an estimated £65m in the four years since its inception, Cestria has not only delivered on its targets but is well on track to further enhance the affordable housing market in County Durham. The group has reduced the proportion of homes under its ownership which fail to meet the decent homes standard from 44 to 4% since 2008 and by spring 2013, it expects this figure to reach zero. At the same time, the organisation has achieved a sharp improvement in the satisfaction of its tenants, with the latest survey last autumn revealing a 91% rate of satisfaction – placing Cestria in the top 25% of UK housing organisations when it comes to looking after the needs of its customers. “Our three priorities are to deliver outstanding services, to make a difference in our communities and to grow our business,” says chief executive Paul Fiddaman. “We are forging ahead on all three and, after a great year, we look forward to the future with optimism.”

Paul Fiddaman, chief executive, Cestria

“our three priorities are to deliver outstanding services, to make a difference in our communities and to continue to grow our business” Much of Cestria’s success, says Fiddaman, stems from the organisation’s ability to understand the desires, priorities and concerns of its tenants by liaising closely with them through various groundbreaking initiatives. “We are a community organisation and are very committed to doing everything we can to make our communities better places to live. This includes offering communities better schools, more training opportunities and access to financial support and advice. “We do a lot of work around financial inclusion. Our view is that, in the aftermath of welfare reform, things are going to get tough for people and we have to continue delivering the services that they need.” As part of its drive to continually improve the standard of its services, Cestria recently launched


what it calls a ‘scrutiny panel’ of tenants which regularly holds the organisation to account and makes suggestions on ways it could better serve the community. “Involving our residents in what we do has really helped us to strengthen the services we offer,” says Fiddaman. Alongside heavy investment in improving its existing property portfolio, Cestria also plans to develop 250 new homes in the next five years as it looks to play its part in plugging the affordable housing shortage. It is also involved in a number of pilot schemes with various forms of green technology, such as solar panels, ground source heat pumps and wind turbines, as it strives to make its homes as fuel efficient as possible. “We are doing everything we can to reduce fuel poverty amongst our tenants. We have also teamed up with energy advice organisation Energy Angels to help our tenants switch to cheaper tariffs and save energy.” The company, which employs 150 people and has an annual turnover of around £15m, is also a partner of the England Illegal Money Lending Team which aims to stamp out illegal ‘doorstep’ loan operators. Cestria is recognised by national equality initiative Stonewall as a Diversity Champion for its work to support lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in the workplace and has also met the Equality Standard framework .

tel: 0191 385 1900




The house that Jonathan built Jonathan Ryder, who has just project managed one of the UK’s largest speculative office developments, tells BQ readers exclusively of his entrepreneurial plan now to transform housing in the North East. Brian Nicholls reports

You’ve heard of the house that Jack built - but not the one that Jonathan Ryder’s developing. His carbon neutral Chameleon House, patent pending, is aptly named, adapting to almost any shape an occupier prefers. An “easy concept”, it will meet standards of sustainability applying to the construction industry from 2016 and beyond that. The house is an eight-year-old vision almost reality, now that Ryder’s able to concentrate on it after completing in January the immense task of assembling Quorum Business Park at Longbenton, North Tyneside. He was project manager throughout for the £375m-plus park whose 1m sq ft or so of offices has proved to


be the UK’s largest speculative office development outside London, attracting prestigious firms at enviable speed. Jonathan, who’s 49, can now advance this long gestating venture of his own, and he expects prototypes of his Chameleon House to come up later this year at Whitburn and North Tyneside. Leggo lovers will easily understand one of its principles. Such houses will be built of “boxes”, laid atop each other or side by side. There being few other components, doors and windows can be placed in almost any configuration. And note: the system can also apply to big non-residential builds such as office


blocks, hospitals and schools. The boxes form highly insulated, airtight entities, mechanically ventilated and doing one air change an hour internally with no heat loss. It’s goodbye to dust mites too. Energy demand is low. As for appearance, buildings can be timber frame, timber, brick or stone clad, rendered, and with a flat or traditional roof. As work can be accurately measured, costs will be fixed. Speed of construction will be a unique selling point, for internal work can begin at the end of the first week from the start of the superstructure. Ryder promises: “Customers will be able to visualise their >>







The boxer: Jonathan Ryder’s new construction concept involving ‘boxes’ could transform the region’s housing sector design, and have that vision managed through to delivery.” This is because building information modelling (BIM) is being used, enabling clients to see beforehand the outcome. He explains: "BIM’s laser-scanning gives customers accurate 3D and internal visuals of their proposal. They can determine their preferences with absolute accuracy, whether for an entire housing development or just a loft conversion.” The project site can be plotted on a Google map and linked to a weather station showing how the wind and other elements act around it, and how it thermally performs. Fixtures inside can be planned around information about how occupants will move within the space. Acoustic and lighting aspects (natural and artificial) can also be ironed out beforehand. You’ll know in advance the effect of the


Customers will be able to visualise their design, and have that vision managed through to delivery

light through windows as they’re planned, and the effect of internal light fittings; how, for example, shadows would fall from a light when you’re at a desk in the study. To develop his idea, Jonathan collaborated with architects – notably Tim Bailey, founding partner of xsite Architecture in Newcastle – and other experts such as Mark Dutton, the chartered quantity surveyor and director of Summers Inman construction and property consultants in Newcastle, also Northumbria


University, materials suppliers alongside other key stakeholders. Ahead of the prototypes being built, extensions and alterations to existing buildings are already being offered under the system as a one-stop shop service. Their planning should take only half the usual time. And while Code 4 is the requirement in sustainability necessary by 2016, builds in Codes 5 and 6 will also be available. To take forward Chameleon and its >>


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ENTREPRENEUR eco-advantages in both commercial and house construction – hopefully improving North East housing stock generally - Ryder has started up NEBS Projects. This is an arm of NEBS (North East Building Services), run from Sunderland by his friend and now business partner, Laurence Richardson. NEBS, started in 1999 by Richardson and Gerald Fidler (since retired), has a £3m turnover and a client list that features Lloyds Bank and Homeserve. Its workforce includes surveyors, contracts managers, estimators and all construction trades, which will enable the firm to tackle Chameleon projects directly. Laurence, 41, is like Jonathan, a construction graduate keen to innovate in the sector, and NEBS will build the prototype houses working with property agent GVA. Through software to be made widely available, other contractors and firms of architects and consultants will be able to apply this technique also, promising at last – and paradoxically to console the veteran folk singer Pete Seeger in his 1963 lament about little boxes made of “ticky tacky” and how they all look just the same. Stout-hearts eager to build their own home should be able to plan it largely without professional help by spending four or five days mastering the licensed software. Ryder says: “You’ll purchase it and plug into the modelling system. “A button pressed on the computer will tell you what materials to order. You could send your purchase lists to five manufacturers and get five prices back to choose from. You’ll then have all the components and, if you feel competent, can build the house yourself. Your structure will conform to all regulations – no need to call in a qualified engineer. It could all be put on a DVD and run off your x-box. You pay for what you produce. So it’ll be a minimal fee.” Designing an average size house, Chameleonstyle, might cost £800 to £900. But as it can be achieved without an architect (whose charge might be 5% of a building cost) a few thousand pounds could be saved there. Your proposal would be welcomed at planning departments since you’d presenting not a plan but an actual model. If you needed a



mortgage you’d have to use an architect or surveyor at some point, but to a lesser extent. As for developers, since relatively few panels are needed, they could – say, for 200 houses – have them all made at a factory beforehand, reducing the external building time to two days. And whereas they’re presently deterred from varying house designs now because modifying layout and design is comparatively costly, the Chameleon method could come

down to a 10 minute job. For major buildings like hospitals and schools, various consultants would be needed, but efficiencies would result from working off the same electronic model; BIM is to be a government-stipulated standard within a year or two. The house that Jack built is all in the mind. The house Jonathan Ryder is developing looks certain to become reality. n

Home’s close to the heart Jonathan Ryder’s expertise in project management is stamped on many high-value regional and national projects besides the eight years of work he did on Quorum. The BBC’s “Pink Palace” television and radio centre in Newcastle, Nissan factory’s first phase at Washington, Darlington Memorial and Hartlepool Hospitals, and the Rowntree Mackintosh factory at Fawdon in Newcastle, all took shape under him – as did, further afield, Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and defence research buildings at Farnborough. He also worked on the Vodafone rollout for 3G, building 400 sales sites, and has worked on 25 RAF sites. But for all the satisfactions such high-profile completions bring, Jonathan retains a prime interest in adding quality to building people’s homes, whether bespoke or on entire developments. Leazes Housing and North Housing in Jarrow and Walker, and many large housing estates have been completed under his purview, and he worked at one time for Shepherd Construction. Indeed, he’s passionate about improving North East housing stock. He explains: “We built ourselves out of previous recessions with housing that many of us are still living in. We need to build homes now that are attractive to look at and live in, and that in addition are warm, efficient, affordable and meet, even exceed, the Government’s eco-requirements.” One government directive is that houses should now be built where water supply is plentiful which, Ryder agrees, raises questions about the extent to which central government will stimulate future business investment in the North East. As he explains: “When I first started working on Chameleon there was a demand for about 50,000 houses in the North East. That has since been recalculated and bumped up to 250,000. One of the drivers in this is the presence of Kielder reservoir.” It’s pretty certain, though, that few people of working age will relocate enthusiastically to the North East unless many more jobs are created here. Jonathan’s own loyalties to the region are strong. He attended school at Askham House, Newcastle, and Bootham in York, and Ryder is of course a name notable in North East built environment; Jonathan’s father, the late Gordon Ryder, founded Ryder Architects with his friend the late Peter Yates. Gordon, fresh from a studio assistantship at Durham University, had met Yates at Peterlee New Town in 1948. From 1953 when their practice opened in Newcastle, and until the late 1970s, they were committed modernists ahead of their time in regional architecture, and nationally acclaimed. Some of their best known work was done at Killingworth. Today Ryder Architecture as it’s now called operates from Newcastle, London, Glasgow and Liverpool, claiming to be still strongly rooted in the heritage and tradition of the founders. Jonathan, his wife Denise, and their two sons live at Riding Mill, as does Jonathan’s mother at nearby Triangles, a striking house that Gordon designed.


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Up the organisation


Job done: Having made a huge impact on the regional economy, Trevor Mann faces a new challenge in Nissan’s homeland




It’s Sayonara to an extraordinary manufacturing boss. Trevor Mann’s inspiring leadership helped pull a key North East industry back to its feet, post-recession. Brian Nicholls reports What a legacy he bequeathes – more than 3,000 new jobs for the UK automotives sector, and many of them in the North East, the region that set him on the road to success. Trevor Mann, of course, being a down to earth, practical engineer by background modest too, friends say – wouldn’t have dreamt of suggesting on his recent departure that he was responsible for Nissan’s amazing take-off in face of economic recession. Until recently, as senior vice-president of manufacturing, supply chain management, production engineering and purchasing for Europe in Nissan International, he could even be thought of in many homes as being one of the family. Whenever news of Nissan Sunderland, Europe’s most efficient car producer, popped up on television screens it was often his familiar face, beneath that familiar shiny pate, telling the story – usually good news too. Now he’s in Japan, having just celebrated his 51st birthday taking up a top job at Nissan Motor Company’s headquarters in Yokohama. Obviously a global group like Nissan, representing a £3.5bn investment made and announced in the UK, is driven by corporate decisions. But as the region for which he has done so much bids him Sayonara, it will also feel that Mann, who worked his way up the Sunderland organisation from its start-up, did so much towards instilling confidence about potentials here that Nissan’s global hierarchy felt comfortable giving the North East the opportunity to manufacture three new models over the next two years. As James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, told BQ: “Trevor has successfully steered Nissan Manufacturing UK through some of its greatest challenges to become the leading automotive producer it is today. “He can take much of the credit for the success of the Nissan Qashqai which led to the plant’s strong performance during the

toughest of recessions. Recent announcements on the Leaf, the Invitation and now the new hatchback all to be produced here in our region, give ample evidence of his achievements.” With more than 6.4m units produced to date – it will be even more as you read this - Nissan has been the UK’s largest car manufacturer for the last 14 years, as well as the North East’s largest single site employer. And, Mann reminds us, it continues to go from strength to strength. The Sunderland plant provides 20% of all the UK’s new car production, making at present the Qashqai, Qashqai+2, Juke and Note. This year also it begins production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles such as the 100% electric Nissan Leaf, due to be made there from next year. Now, the Leaf project was announced some time ago, as was the battery making that will also supply Nissan’s partner Renault. And coinciding almost with Trevor Mann’s departure from the North East manufacturing floor, Nissan has announced two more models to come out, as well as the Leaf over the next two years. A compact car based on a concept model – named the Invitation – will be in production from next year, and a year later a new medium-size model. These two new models will result in more than 3,000 new jobs in the UK automotive sector within the next two years – 625 at Nissan and the remainder among suppliers, many of whom operate in the North East also. Once recruitment for

both models is complete, the workforce at Sunderland will be a record 6,225 and production lines will run 24/7. Three years ago Nissan was paying workers off, which suggests that investment – both private and state - is a powerful antidote to recession. The Government’s trade-in support to encourage new purchases has played its part, and it’s also sound logic to run production lines round the clock. But Trevor Mann meanwhile has shown by example that the North East produces outstanding engineers, still, and we also have educational institutions capable of preparing them for stellar journeys. Born at Leigh in Lancashire, Mann after early education at Durham Johnson Grammar School attended both Durham and Gateshead Technical Colleges. He became in 1980 a management trainee with BBH Coil & Transformer Ltd, a subsidiary of the Yorkshire group Farnell Electronics. He worked in light manufacturing and electronic services for five years before joining Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd as it prepared for production start-up at Sunderland in 1985. Thus began a career that in 26 years has taken him from team leader in production’s trim and final assembly department to a key lookout position at the top of Nissan’s global tree. “It’s been a privilege being involved in Nissan’s growth and success over 26 years, and to have played my part in the company’s European expansion,” he says. >>

Trevor has successfully steered Nissan Manufacturing UK through some of its greatest challenges to become the leading automotive producer that it is today



SUCCESS STORY His qualities and competence have been recognised beyond the industry. He was named Wearside and Durham Business Executive of the Year in 2008. Then, as a mark of his services to the business community in the region, he received in 2010 an honorary doctorate in science from Sunderland University, followed in 2011 by an honorary doctorate in technology from Northumbria University. This year he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list for his services to business. Now at headquarters in Yokohama, Trevor Mann is senior vice-president for global supply chain management, retaining also his place on the operating committee for Africa, India and the Middle East. No less than 80% of the vehicles produced while he has been there have gone to 97 markets. Nissan is Britain’s biggest car exporter, working wonders for the UK’s balance of payments. The British automotive sector’s average export earnings of more than £25bn a year now give the country more than 10% of its total overseas earnings. Changed times from that sad period in the 1970s and 1980s when British motor manufacturing became a laughing stock abroad. Sunderland has been a catalyst in this. By 2010 it was the first UK car plant ever to turn out more than 400,000 vehicles in a year, and it has now built 12 models to date: Bluebird 1986-1990, Primera 1990-1996, Micra 1992-2002, Primera 1996-2001, Almera 2000-2006, Primera 2001-2007, Micra 2002-2010, Micra C+C 2005-2010, Qashqai 2006-present, Note 2006-present, Qashqai+2 2008-present, Juke 2010-present. Mann’s role of deputy managing director, overseeing operations, was crucial when the Sunderland plant first proved it could produce three new models in less than two years. Between 2005 and 2007 it rolled out the Micra C+C, the Note and then the multiaward winning 4x4 hatchback Qashqai from March 2007. One month later Mann was promoted to the level of senior vice-president. He has said of the Qashqai: “The market proves if you have got a good car at a competitive price, you can grow."



Building vehicles like the Leaf and the Qashqai, and opening the battery making plant – Nissan’s first such venture outside Japan - are by no means automatically assigned to Nissan’s Sunderland workforce. They have to be fought for claw and fang, other Nissan centres in various countries being in contention too. Here’s where Trevor Mann has particularly excelled, getting best endeavours out of suppliers as well as Nissan employees, and convincing decision makers at the very top that the North East of England’s abilities to deliver investment value are unquestionable. Nissan’s latest injection of £127m in the factory – also boosted by an £8.2m pledge from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund – will now help support an annual production

The serial rise of Trevor Mann 1985 At 23, team leader, trim and final assembly, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd - ahead of the start of the Bluebird’s production. 1987 Supervisor, engine shop 1989 Senior supervisor, engine shop 1991 Production manager, engine shop 1994 Production manager, trim and final assembly to oversee Micra’s production in No 2 Plant 1998 Project manager, engineering, project managing the Almera replacement model 1999 General manager, production 2000 Production director 2003 Director of operations and production 2004 Deputy managing director, operations 2006 Vice-president, Manufacturing UK, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited 2007 Senior vice-president, manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management for Nissan International SA, for Nissan Europe and overseas all Nissan’s manufacturing plants in Europe, India and South Africa. 2011 Senior vice-president, global supply chain management and operating committee – Africa, the Middle East and India.


of more than half a million models of the new hatchback which, like the “Invitation”, will be named closer to its sales launch. And besides its pole-positioned promotion of zero-emission motoring, coming through the launch of the Leaf, Nissan is exemplary in its recycling, now achieving 90% plus. This, all in all, is some organisation, and with some remarkable individuals driving it; not only Mann himself, but Colin Dodge previously whom Mann succeeded in 2007, and Sir Ian Gibson before that who has gone on to take his talents into the media and retail sectors. Dodge became senior vice-president, general overseas markets, China operations and global information systems, serving also on the Nissan executive committee. Good news on the training front, too, with an international skills academy for sustainable manufacturing and innovation being opened at Gateshead, underpinned by the Nissan performance model and providing 1,000 places where future generations of technicians can learn and perhaps even aspire as Mann has done. Mann, a father of three, is naturally pleased he found a position within such a global company, and gratified to be where he is today. “This, I owe largely to Nissan’s philosophy of nurturing from within, a practice we continue to promote,” he reflects, which might be a helpful hint to people wondering if their future might indeed lie in manufacturing. Mann in fact puts the entire Sunderland operation’s success down to “an enormous team effort”, and made a point before departing to thank the whole workforce for sustained and continued support, and the suppliers and many regional bodies for their part too. James Ramsbotham highlights the fact that Trevor Mann while at Sunderland was also responsible for Russia and Europe in his latest role. “This enabled him to demonstrate his strategic ability, which he’ll take to his new role in Japan. We wish him every success,“ he adds. Mann, besides looking forward to his new challenge in Japan as chairman of Africa, Middle East, and India regions, says he looks forward to watching Sunderland ’s plant break even more records. n

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Taking part Colin Williams, director of transformation, Newcastle City Council Gregor Rae, chairman, Business Lab Peter Fullarton, managing director, Heridian Ltd Graham Armitage, programme director, Campus of Ageing & Vitality, Newcastle University Lesley Nixon, senior scientific consultant, Nigel Wright Recruitment Andy Hudson, founder & chief operating officer, Broadband Computer Co Simon Green, programme manager, Newcastle Science City Martin Quinn, founder, Glidepath Prof Peter Gore, managing director, ADL Smartcare Fiona Birkbeck, managing director, Multiminded Simon Roberson, regional partnership director, BT Brian Nicholls, editor, BQ Magazine In the chair: Caroline Theobald, BQ Live Venue: Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Newcastle

in association with

Ageing forwards The issue: How can small businesses in the region capitalise on the opportunities presented by an ageing population? The debate relates to AdvantAGENewcastle, an economic programme for change going on in the North East. Simon Green briefed on how, amid an ageing demographic, stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors are working to identify new opportunities beneficial to local businesses and attractive for new international investment. Interest is growing worldwide in the ageing boomers, a lucrative but demanding market, and Newcastle – just as other cities develop clusters of expertise and know how in other sectors – wants to pioneer in support of healthy ageing. AdvantAGENewcastle is managed by Newcastle Science City. Healthcare, pharmaceuticals, leisure, tourism and financial services are among sectors that could gain. About 75% of firms surveyed by The Economist Intelligence Unit recognised significant differences in older customers’ needs. How can businesses better understand and respond? Businesses generally must also consider the


management of their ageing workforce. Flexible working policies and age friendly working places become increasingly important. So does knowledge retention and succession planning. The loss of key knowledge and skills through retirement can be damaging. Participants agreed the North East, with its global reputation for research into ageing, is ideally placed to build regionwide capacity for developing the products and services. Age management can also be intensified across key sectors – such as retail and tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced engineering. Places more age friendly, it’s widely believed, will also attract generally. So how should services be upgraded in the home? What technologies, products and services can businesses offer? How would these be paid for? What new financial modes will emerge? Four stages of ageing need considering: preparing for old age, active older age, vulnerable older age and dependent older age. How, in this, can Newcastle and the North East gain competitive advantage by better sharing


BQ is highly regarded as a leading independent commentator on business issues, many of which have a bearing on the current and future success of the region’s business economy. BQ Live is a series of informative debates designed to further contribute to the success and prosperity of our regional economy through the debate, discussion and feedback of a range of key business topics and issues.

of information, expertise, knowledge and experience in the subject. Gregor Rae: City regions that make various dramatic positive changes do so after some crisis or sense of urgency has been articulated. [He cited instances from Boston, Houston and Calgary where a very strong partnership had been moulded between public and private sector, with a strong illustration of entrepreneurial business]. Everyone will give you their perspective on the ageing demographic. It doesn’t join up to create one big picture. We’re not quite at that point. But public sector partners are doing a fantastic job in working together, looking at the work of universities and Science City and communicating with SMEs starting to appear on radar screens. He said research is currently ongoing in the USA on how to design cars suitable for women up to 100 years old. Andy Hudson, resident in the Far East for 25


years until two years ago, told how in South Korea considerable high-tech assistance was installed through a little box at apartment doors, placed by central government. That was 11 years ago. The e-health stuff there enables you, for example, to take your blood pressure in the bathroom. Where are we here? Colin Williams: If we look to central government we’ll wait 100 years. Central care funding is bust. Will central government fix it? Will they hell? It’s not in their interest because they have to go back to the electorate and ask for more money. Any change at all will be driven by local government, powered by half a dozen big cities in the UK. Would the NHS take a lead? The jury is out amid all the uncertainties. Don’t underestimate the ability of the NHS management class to re-invent itself, either. Andy Hudson: In a recent debate I took part in, as did Danny Alexander [Secretary to the Treasury], I asked how civil servants could waste £18bn on IT and not get even a rap on the knuckles? He assured me they’d got much more than that. When I asked for their names, he replied that he couldn’t do that but action was being taken. Fancy being able to sweep £18bn of total waste under the carpet. A BT representative had told me four years earlier it couldn’t work. What could we do with £18bn? Solve a lot of problems. We’ve got to stop this profligacy that’s shrouded in government policy. It’s not just one ministry. Where’s the leadership? Academics aren’t good at leadership now either, generally, because say something out of order and your grant may be gone. Local authorities too, unless it’s the council’s leader. If we have an age-friendly city with lots of corporate energy, how are we going to get it out there? If we can say we’re best on the planet for dealing with this you get a momentum. Other things drop into place. I don’t think we’ve achieved it yet. I’m not sure how we do. In the UK Newcastle is recognised as a world leader in ageing and had been likewise in genetics but is now number two there. Things are happening here we should all be vicariously proud of. We don’t make enough of them. Lesley Nixon pointed to a need for businesses to carry out a big debate on the question of managing succession. She agreed on the need


We’ve a lot of traction with the S end of SMEs - they’re dynamic and innovative - but there’s little traction with the M end and that’s a real problem in this region

for pride and said it was still early days for this. But there was some way to go, and some countries were ahead that we could learn from. She also heard many companies talking about succession planning. She felt this could be made more widely known. Fiona Birkbeck: It’s amazing when you see parents and grandparents whose business skills today are just thrown away once they’ve retired. They love talking about business at any opportunity available. Fiona Birkbeck: Does anyone from private care homes enquire about the latest research? Reading up on dementia, I find even 10 minutes on the web reveals all sorts of amazing stuff from around the world. Even when you go into homes with a good


reputation they’re not following any of the latest research. Even colour schemes there show it. Graham Armitage: We’ve a lot of traction with the S end of the SMEs. They’re dynamic, still innovative and able to manoeuvre. But there’s little traction with the M end and that’s a problem in this region, where they are much more significant employers than they would be in other areas of the country. They’re not fast movers on these things. Care, in particular, is an area where the rate of staff turnover and all those day to day management problems overwhelm the managements to an extent they don’t go looking for expertise elsewhere. That’s exacerbated by a lot of information being in language they don’t understand. >>




Everyone knows there’s a spending crisis but what are we doing to find solutions to address the gulf being created?

Andy Hudson: Wearing my Codeworks hat, a lot of our members are super-small companies, often with lots of potential, comprising two people and two laptops. They find the procurement process too cumbersome. They can’t divert resources maybe to gain a partnership in a bigger tender. Simon Green believed it would be feasible to try to bring smaller companies together for this purpose. Andy Hudson: We found with Codeworks membership - pretty typical of small businesses - it wasn’t easy to get them to collaborate even for their best interests. One firm might have a grant it was hanging to, the other not. Yet the sum of the parts would have been better. There’s a bit of a heritage of non


co-operation. [His favourite story of cooperation involved Mills Studio making Oscar award winning film Gladiator. James Morris had the opportunity to pitch but couldn’t do it alone as a small London company. So he resorted to the Soho Net, a high bandwith connectivity, invited competitors to lunch and apportioned them each a contribution to a production. He pitched successfully and big American rivals wondered how a Limey firm only that big could have won; 16 companies had collaborated, leadership had made it happen.] Gregor Rae: I’m working in the United States with a consortium of continuing care retirement communities, phenomenal operations in terms of award winning


leadership. But their model doesn’t work now. People are living longer in their own home, are coming later to continuing care retirement community and spend a shorter time there. It becomes more intense support, expensive, and less attractive to the younger oldies. The challenge for the communities is: Can we take up care without walls? Take our models into cities wishing to be age friendly? Can they harness the know-how, capability, capacity and experience? The brief to me is: it must be open sourced. So the organisastions will not own the solution. They got funding, handled through one of the big retirement care communities and entered a partnership also. Any retirement care community anywhere can use it. That’s the US dynamic. A model would be good to see around Newcastle. Colin Williams: We’re probably talking here of 2-4% of old people. The frail, elderly, vulnerable. Here, all funding for health care or social care support is being massively squeezed. At one end is the rising demographic, at the other the Government taking massive chunks from budgets. Our council has to lose 25% of the spend from its social budget over three years. The margin in which to do things radically differently is incredibly small. Conversation has to be about collaboration across the industry with the public sector on, how together, might we do things differently, not focusing on individual bids. Otherwise you’ll get a response that we are not in a position to do this presently as we don’t have any money. If we even achieve savings from what’s being done now that will be taken up by the growing number of people being looked after. Any collaboration must be at a kind of macro level. Andy Hudson: Is there a forum for looking at things we do and doing them radically differently? Everyone knows there’s a spending crisis but what are we doing to find solutions to address the gulf being created? In Far East society older people are revered. A Thai businessman told me his parents live at his home, a fundamental part of the family. Not long ago that’s how our society was. Maybe the fundamental is to go back to social education: this is a valuable member of your family - why palm them off? Peter Fullarton (married into a Far East


family): That’s falling off in the Far East rapidly. I’d imagine 10 years from now they’ll be following us. Several participants shared a belief care homes wouldn’t innovate as theirs was a cut-throat business now, largely property orientated. But an update of sheltered housing with wardens, using the best of new technology, could be considered. Peter Gore: There’s a tendency across Europe for families to come back together, not so much the granny flat, but children coming back. Academics talk lots about what they do but mainly to their peers. So people doing ageing research will say this is the fourth biggest place in the world now but you won’t hear that outside the Monument in town because no-one there heard that message. I don’t know how you turn that round. Academics think peer. How do we communicate academic achievements beyond where they take place? Maybe with the help of business and Science City we have started to get that message out. But there’s a long way to go. He told of a recent collaboration set up in his experience which had come about simply through a chance meeting. Andy Hudson wondered if Science City should be more aggressive with the message of collaboration. Peter Gore felt it could be a catalyst. Simon Green agreed opportunity existed. Gordon Armitage suggested Science City was not more aggressive because of its university culture within. He felt that as the university campus became more business led there’d be a more aggressive approach: “At the moment it sits in a difficult place between the university and the hospitals trust, neither of whom dares speak outside its ethos.” Fiona Birkbeck: In a lot of sectors people are realising one company can’t always do everything. They’re merging activities, recognising it’s all about collaboration. Only two years are remaining to get the message out about the value of collaboration, it was suggested. Gregor Rae: Somewhere ageing must make sense, be part of Newcastle’s picture, part of the brand. It’s got to be part of a proposition that this is your base if you’re a small business aspiring to get into the ageing space. When

the key theme is around branding it’s around this, and around identity. It’s also about supporting businesses, whether they’re already around and maybe need help, need to bump into one another, or whether it’s about firms that need to come here and do business. What’s being built on the campus now is probably the best thing to show anyone from outside. Forward thinking university, smart businesses. Even a user group, Voice North, giving phenomenal access. The holy grail at the moment is assisting technologies. Everybody’s chasing it. Nobody has the answer. People are still experimenting, so we’ve got more pilots than BA. Where’s the best place in the world just now to run a technology pilot? Where are the best partners? Where’s the best universities? It’s here. Simon Roberson: We’d be a supplier. There exists a super-connected city fund from government. Newcastle ought to be developing a regular theme to exploit the technology and develop themes we’ve heard. One thing you could do with such funding is to ensure this technology is available for every person in the city to make use of. Whatever house in the city you wanted to install your technology in, the means would be there.



There could be faster connectivity between the SMEs too. We may presently be 10 years behind Seoul on this but at least for now we’re probably as well advanced as anywhere else in the country. Peter Fullarton: Rural communities are increasingly the issue. Younger people are polarising towards cities, coming to university and staying on. We’re ending up with a skewed landscape where older people are living in rural areas and don’t have access to super broadband. I know something will be done about that but it may be some time yet. Colin Williams and Gregor Rae said among developments presently, one at least might provide a massive opportunity within 12 months. Talks were going on with a party that had been involved with work done elsewhere in the world, notably Washington state. Peter Fullarton: We must find a way to bring providers and consumers together. There’s a whole bunch of great solutions but people don’t know they exist. We’ve a pile of people, let’s call it the NHS, with a whole bunch of needs and a pile of opportunities but they don’t know of solutions that exist. Somehow we have to get the two sets together in a forum. We’ve talked about >>




communications and about a forum. Put the two together and maybe that’s what we’re looking for here, a communications forum, a market place in which to debate and look at needs and also opportunities with local SMEs in the area. Martin Quinn: You have to provide solutions the NHS wants to buy. Don’t ask for forums to do it. Don’t ask Science City to sort it out. It’s your business. You sort it out. Peter Fullarton: We’re doing that outside of this country. Martin Quinn: There’s no point in SMEs waiting for some big firms to win a huge contract then hanging on their coat tails. You identify a need then go and sell it to customers who can afford to buy it. Peter Gore: It’s slightly more complicated than

that. People don’t know what they can use and how to use it. They need expert advice. So there’s a load of other people with influence over what technology people have. It’s also about influencing the people who influence the purchasers. That’s hard. When we sell our system into a local authority we present to maybe 20 to 40 people, most of whose only responsibility, potentially, is to say no. I may want to buy but if my doctor won’t co-operate I’m stuffed. Martin Quinn: Trying to go through those 40 people small businesses stand no chance. They have to identify niches to operate in. Find actual decision makers and focus on them till they get you in. Or, a participant, interjected, you work in collaborations. Gregor Rae: The parallel I think of is

There’s no point in SMEs waiting for some big firms to win a huge contract and then hanging on their coat tails



renewables. How do you enable SMEs to get experience in the sector, and develop capability and capacity? Some SMEs are moving forward now in that sector. They needed a break. Martin Quinn: We talked about getting word to the general public. We in business know what’s going on. We’re saying the NHS doesn’t know. There’s a limit to what we can do. We have to be more focused on who we want to get this message to and how we get it over. How do we get five regional councils together, go through this with them and say: How are we going to get something that’s going to work? We can demonstrate. Much as One North East was great but got bloated, it did a great job messaging what it was doing. Now we have LEPs. I’ve been to two meetings within a week... still don’t know what they’re doing. Fiona Birkbeck: Great ideas that may involve bringing in partners. We know certain organisations won’t give money at the moment. But companies like ours might find it great to put a team together that can deal with really interesting projects. It’s not just asking for money. It would be lovely if you had a project and could find a door to knock on in your search for partners. I think that would work well with a council. So what could be done to help AdvantAGENewcastle take steps forward? Gregor Rae: I like the idea of a business forum to address specific fundamental challenges: The Forum for Thinking Differently. Look at a particular challenge from 360 degrees. Define the challenge, make it as profound as possible. Then get people to contribute from their different angles. Martin Quinn: Could that be facilitated as a hothouse environment. Get a group together, split off into various bits then bring them back. It has to move forward at each stage. Gregor Rae (agreeing): Let’s define the challenges of delivering AdvantAGENewcastle. Keep things co-ordinated, bringing in the private sector including SMEs and micros to address challenges as advised by group leaders in AdvantaAGENewcastle. That would be terrific. Colin Williams: We have to think about the politics. Newcastle Council has a Labour


administration. It won’t buy outsourcing. But equally the solutions don’t lie within the public sector. A different relationship would not just be about procurement. So what’s the different partnership arrangement that allows some kind of collaborative space with positive advances. It was considered all 12 local authorities in the North East could be involved by access through the Association of North East Councils. All had recognised the significance of ageing. The “tricky bit” was finding people most appropriate in the authorities. Graham Armitage: Newcastle University will provide space for forum meetings. But the project will need facilitation. That requires resource. Fiona Birkbeck: Dementia’s not going away soon. Companies should have access to research, be able to sign a document verifying they’re involved in work with the Institute for Ageing and Health. We’d love to be involved with all collaborations. Andy Hudson: If we think about solving local problems percolating up, that’s more likely to create businesses than a top-down idea. We’ll try to talk to councils and the NHS. But there we’re up against one of the world’s biggest inhibitors of productivity and profitability in IT departments of the world. I’d fire the lot of them. There’s a sort of mafia of “we know what we’re doing”. A lot of stuff needs to manifest itself through modern technology. Yet we face inhibitors. It’s not much better in local government but how to challenge it? You defer to their “expertise”. Martin Quinn: Find a way that says “we’re removing a problem”. I agree a forum must concentrate on little specific local problems first. That’s where you’ll get credibility. Then you can move to bigger things. Andy Hudson: Partly through the demise of One North East, part of the social and business evolution of what Codeworks did – the public as distinct from the business message – was funded by ONE. Codeworks promotes business and business relationships. Now it is little more than a knowledge and conference company. But we still have a network of 300-plus members. That will dwindle unless we provide value for the membership. I could help. Probably 150 of the companies are one to

three people. We know pretty well what each is about. Lesley Nixon: Our company engages extensively. With around 100 other consultants I can engage with businesses and business leaders in conveying any message quickly to the right level of people, candidates and clients. The question was asked whether Codeworks could include an ageing theme in its “brilliant” conferences. Peter Fullarton: We’re very happy to participate as one of those two people and a laptop companies. There are a lot of issues out there, a lot of solutions too. We must find how to bring a complexity of issues into a complexity of solutions. Graham Armitage: The campus is there – let’s use it. Please don’t think the university is public sector any more, though. It has been clearly stated we’re not. We’re just a big business now. I’m happy to provide support but am not in a position to resource. Simon Roberson said BT could definitely be involved in a forum, could look for more participating partners among SMEs with which it is involved, and try to benefit the project generally around the innovative communication already in hand for Newcastle. Colin Williams: A local authority does try to advance economic development. What it doesn’t do – from what I gather here – is engage with business, online or offline. To the extent it thinks it does, it does so through intermediaries. Maybe I could do something there. Peter Gore: EU funding opportunities are coming up concerning older people and diet. There are experts here. We know them, and know if there are opportunities. We’d like to try get networking involvements there. If we know of someone with a problem fitting into that, we can go back and say so. There’s a switch from assessing good research in universities now. Once the penny drops that research is not just about publishing papers but about having impact, academics will clamber over themselves to gain impact. Some are more enlightened than others, especially on the technical side. Graham Armitage: Of course no individual necessarily has to make the impact. So it’s a



corporate rather than an individual issue. Simon Green: The hothouse idea sounds a lot of work but if we can make it succeed there will certainly be something there. Society is changing. Our job is to communicate some of the dynamics expected over the next few years – ensure that our business community in the North East is informed about that, and look to inventive people for inventive solutions. It’s been a very helpful conversation. We must carry some of this energy into the future. n

Working as one “Newcastle is seen as being a couple of years ahead in its work to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing society. However, in such a competitive environment, for Newcastle to stay ahead we need the public, private and third sectors to work together even more closely. Newcastle’s advantage is built on world class research at Newcastle University, the focus on healthy ageing provided by the City Council and a willingness to work with partners to solve problems. The public sector can provide an environment and collaborative structures for innovation but at the end of the day it is businesses and charities that must deliver new solutions.From our work on the Advantage Newcastle project, through our groundbreaking Opportunity Canvas programme (designed to inspire innovation by highlighting market needs), to the hugely popular First Friday networking sessions, Newcastle Science City works at the interface of public, academic and private organisations to develop innovative solutions. However, this debate has highlighted areas in which we need to do more, particularly in bringing public and private organisations together. We will be working closely with the University, City Council and our business networks to make this happen over the coming months.” Simon Green, Head of Business Support, Newcastle Science City




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Lady in the red

Sarah Pittendrigh is a businesswoman who’s picked herself up, dusted herself down – buttons, bows and all – and now tells Alastair Gilmour how despair can turn into runaway success

Ups and downs, twists and turns, thrill, belief companies and manufacturers she had been and fear – a description that could be applied working with had faded to grey. to most businesses. Rollercoaster rides and Personal bankruptcy was her pay-off and the white-knuckle experiences, after all, can be feeling of her stomach being detached from the ‘reward’ for innovation and creativity. the rest of her body wasn’t going to go away But the switchback invariably slows and after a three-minute fairground ride – being eventually stops trying to eject its driver. In left only with a laptop, no bank account, on one young entrepreneur’s case, however, the income support, and the threat of her home rollercoaster plunged so far that very few being repossessed, were stark facts of life. people could hear her scream. Now, just over three years after setting up In 2008, Sarah Pittendrigh was a casualty of Simply Bows and Chair Covers, Pittendrigh economic downturn; someone who had has been invited onto Women’s Hour, is feted simply poured more and more money into her in Easy Living and Tesco magazines, consulted corporate events venture in the belief that it about her experiences, and asked to mentor 0000_LH_BQ_175x55_v1 23/4/12 10:30 Page 1 would save the day and everything would be would-be entrepreneurs. She’s working so all right tomorrow. But the blue-chip closely with top-class North East hotels – Close

House, Rockliffe Hall and Redworth Hall – she feels more of a team member than a supplier. She’s part of the fabric, which is not an inappropriate comparison to draw. Simply Bows and Chair Covers specialises in quality chair covers and linen for weddings, balls and corporate events, and if it weren’t for her brother’s nuptials, the company wouldn’t exist and she’d be living in a caravan in her parents’ yard. “Being bankrupt was heartbreaking,” says Pittendrigh, over the lunch table at Close House’s No 19 restaurant. “I was a single mum with a nine-year-old son; our house was in danger of being repossessed, I had no job, and I just didn’t know what to do. There was >>

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no positive news and I knew that getting a job with the salary I needed was going to be incredibly difficult.” She, like many others with a keen business eye, had already spotted a gap in a market, a niche where she might feel comfortable, so she gave it the “nothing to lose” treatment. She says: “One of the things I’d identified previously was the market for specialist event linen – something really different – but what really reinforced that was in June 2008, just before we lost the company, my brother was really struggling to find some nice table linen for his wedding. “I’d never done anything like it in my life until the idea hit me. My brother ended up with poor quality service; they didn’t deliver enough on the day and it was just an unpleasant experience for a wedding day. “Later I thought, ‘you’re on the dole, on



income support, you can’t get any lower, so why don’t you see if there’s an opportunity for delivering specialist linen but instead of doing sheets and volumes, look at a quality service with a bespoke product and really be accountable for what you do.’” A business plan followed which impressed Business Link enough to part-fund a website, company vehicle and a contribution towards marketing. “So, I brought my ideas and fabrics to the Close House, went in cold and said ‘I hope you like it’,” she says. “They did like it and eventually gave me preferred supplier status. The Marriott in Durham, Doxford Hall and Rockliffe Hall liked what I did, too, and things kept rolling on and the business just kept growing. “After you’ve been made bankrupt, you worry every day because you don’t want it to happen again. It drives you. I was up front about it


when I went to see people. “There’s no point hiding it and keeping skeletons in the cupboard. “I was so scared going to my first appointments but I told them, ‘look I’ve been made bankrupt and I want to get this business off the ground’. “Some people would hide it and if they don’t want to work with me for who I am and what I can do, I don’t really want to work with them either. Part of me felt like a real failure, but another part told me I’d done far more in my life than many other people.” She’s always been a grafter, starting with her first job at 15 in Brocksbushes Farm Shop near Corbridge. “Then I worked in Safeway at Hexham at 16, right the way through till I was at Durham Business School and still did it three or four nights a week while I was studying. I’m an HGV Class 4 driver as well – I got it to drive


our horsebox. I’m not scared of work – when I was on the dole I thought if the worst came to the worst I could always drive a wagon.” Pittendrigh had worked as a brand manager for Land Rover and Jaguar; she earned a great salary, drove a company car, and had an enviable lifestyle – she thought – while enjoying the material fripperies that go along with it. “But I didn’t have the quality of life I have now,” she says. “The Range Rover only got me to meetings and I didn’t really have a family life.” She and her husband Stewart, a farmer and amateur National Hunt jockey, had parted in 2002 and were eventually divorced. They remained friends and he was the first person she turned to when her events business had collapsed – as she was for him when his parents were both diagnosed with cancer. But rollercoasters have a habit of going up as well as down. “By October 2008 I had Simply Bows sorted out and was trading by the January,” she says. “I had an incredible first month’s sales and it just continued and continued and continued. “In my first year I turned over £79,000 – that was just me. What we tapped into was the wedding sector where the discerning bride wants something different and of high quality. “If we haven’t something they want we’ll make it for them. We go that extra mile for our clients. That’s why our business has grown so quickly. It gives us the edge.” Sarah Pittendrigh then started to get national enquiries from the website and thought how she could capitalise on the interest, turning her thoughts to franchising the Simply Bows and Chair Covers concept. “As the business was growing I was able to start paying my mortgage again – keep my house - a great relief,” she says. “That was in November 2009 and my first franchisee came on that year. Now we’ve just opened our 10th office – in Berkshire – and are currently interviewing for another two. The business has grown beyond my wildest dreams. “With franchising, if someone is buying into your brand they’ll want a return on their investment. You’d hope they’d be more passionate and self-motivated to make it succeed, so if I interview the right people, >>


More than just location: No 19, Close House Sarah Pittendrigh is no stranger to Close House. She’s developed great friendships with the staff and feels more like part of the team than a supplier, as she does with all her clients. “I’m not a great luncher, so a starter will probably do me,” she says. “I love it here; we had our wedding in Argent D’Or restaurant and the night-time do in No 19.” At our lunch, she likes the sound of twice-baked Northumberland cheese soufflé with salad – and perceptively remarks that it’ll look good on the photographs. Mine is a “steak sarnie” with “real” chips – shaped like blind cobblers’ thumbs (with soft drinks each: £28.45). The drinks offer is impressively international – with Czech Staropramen on the counter along with San Miguel from Spain and ubiquitous Guinness, plus Wylam Brewery No 19 ale, brewed half-a-mile up the hill, representing the local team. The wine choice is similarly broad and eclectic. And diners have a full range to choose from – the fruit-laden No 19 House White, £16, to stewed plummy Rioja Reserva, £35. Views from the restaurant’s huge windows are stunning – over fairways, down to the Tyne Valley and up over into County Durham (“I live in Kiln Pit Hill, just over those fields there,” she says.) In another direction there’s the backdrop of Close House itself then a lake bordered by a practice putting green. Beyond that: the Filly and Colt Courses that comfortably rival anything golf-wise anywhere in the world. It’s an occasion when jaw drops, steak sandwich goes in, jaw closes – but only for a few seconds before a brace of ducks belly-flops onto the lake – then the jaw, sandwich, chips thing continues. No 19’s two large rooms are contemporarily stylish and busy with couples, families and groups winding down from a round of golf. But somehow it also retains an intimacy. One diner admitted going there regularly to work on her laptop – it’s such an inspiring setting, and she says she can get so much done in a short space of time. And No 19 is impressive, not only by location. Its menus are shaped by seasonal availability, changing regularly to reflect what’s growing in the region. Head chef Simon Walsh is passionate about local, original, inclusive, affordable, seasonal, unpretentious and super-fresh food. Signature dishes include locally-foraged wild mushrooms on toasted sourdough, slow roast belly pork, chorizo casserole and rice pudding with roasted plums. There are daily specials and a set priced menu. “It’s been a mad three years,” says Sarah Pittendrigh. “I never thought I’d be sitting here after all that’s happened.”



BUSINESS LUNCH as a group we’ll be able to grow the brand. “You want innovative people to come in; you want them to bring something to the table – allow people to have a say in how the business grows, rather than surrounding yourself with yes men. “I need to call on other skills so I look at the skills of the franchisee and utilise them. They’ve all had really good careers before they took up a franchise. So rather than bringing in third parties we maximise what’s already there. “One franchisee is also my marketing manager who makes sure everyone is adhering to brand guidelines. Another is our events manager, making sure everything happens to standard. “I learned mistakes from my last business where we had five offices around the UK. That was very, very hard to manage. The fixed overheads every month were really high so I didn’t want to get back into that trap.” On a personal level, the rollercoaster still had some momentum, something straight out of one of those magazines Sarah Pittendrigh has featured in. “My son William – now 13 – was very aware what was going on,” she says. “He’s very bright and we’ve always been a very close family. I explained the situation about us maybe having to lose the house. His father and I remained very good friends and he was very supportive when I lost the company – a real rock for me. “His parents died within 18 months of each other, so we were thrown into a situation where we both needed each other – best with each other than without – to such an extent that we got married again on March 3, here at Close House. What a really nice way to end three years of hell. “Our second wedding couldn’t have been further removed from the first. We were very young then and very immature. He was race-riding quite a lot and we probably weren’t ready to be married. “Then you have a baby and dynamics change – we parted in 2002, he got on with the farm and I got on with my career until disaster struck. However, we were never not friends and it was inevitable we’d help each other out.” Though the franchises are scattered around the country – with Europe beckoning, but not until she feels the time is right –



Some people would hide it and if they don’t want to work with me for who I am and what I can do I don’t really want to work with them either Pittendrigh retains her North East-based suppliers. It’s a source of pride for her and her company to have templates made up in the region. It’s a reminder also she’s running the show, and how far down into the depths the rollercoaster has taken her. “I’ve created a brand that’s around me,” she says. “It’s a lifestyle, it’s what I want. In 2008 I saw a man in the garden of my house. I was quite frightened. “He said he was from the bank and he was taking a picture of the house because they were going to repossess it. You can’t imagine


how your heart pounds after something like that, and thinking ‘how am I ever going to get out of this?’ “Then I’ve won a North East business award – that really freaked me out – a franchise marketing award, and an Entrepreneurs’ Forum If We Can You Can Challenge, and you think ‘how did that happen?’ It’s not just the awards but the standard of people who were in those rooms. Then you think it’s maybe not been such a bad idea after all.” n

The Audi A6. Enhanced driving. This is what we mean by enhanced driving; A lightweight design, fuel efficient engines, advanced driver assistance and a high level of technology as standard. Technology such as SD card based Satellite Navigation and optional Wi-Fi that lets you and your passengers access the internet on the move. To arrange a test drive contact your nearest North East Audi Centre or visit

Available from only £359 per month.

Newcastle Audi

Tyneside Audi

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Stadium Way (Opposite Stadium of Light), Sunderland SR5 1AT. Tel: 0843 248 7248 (local rate)

Brooklime Avenue, Preston Farm, Stockton on Tees TS18 3UR. Tel: 0843 248 7238 (local rate)





Business users only. Typical example: The New Audi A6 Saloon 2.0 TDI SE (177PS) Manual. 3-year contract hire, 35 monthly rentals of £359 (plus VAT), initial deposit of £1077 (plus VAT), 10,000 miles per annum, total contract mileage 30,000 miles, excess mileage 6p per mile (plus VAT). Further charges may be payable when vehicle is returned. Indemnities may be required. Subject to status. Available to over 18s from participating North East Audi Centre’s only for vehicles ordered before 30th June 2012 (subject to availability). Offer may be varied or withdrawn at any time. Specification correct at time of publication. Prices quoted and examples shown are correct at time of publication (May 2012) and do not take into account any variation to government taxes or charges arising after the date of publication. Terms and conditions apply. Audi Finance, Freepost Audi Finance. Model shown for illustration purposes only.

Official fuel consumption figures for the Audi A6 range in mpg (l/100km): Urban 26.2 (10.8) - 48.7 (5.8), Extra Urban 42.8 (6.6) - 64.2 (4.4), Combined 34.4 (8.2) - 57.6 (4.9). CO2 emissions 190 - 129 g/km.



appreciating the good stuff





Gary Mowlem, owner of bespoke furniture and kitchens firm Mowem & Co spent a rare evening of relaxation putting his tastebuds to the test

While I would never claim to be a wine expert, when you have built and run your own successful business you learn not only to appreciate all the good things that make ‘downtime’ more satisfying, but also to see the parallels when it comes to investing time and love into creating a quality product. Perhaps developing a fine wine is not so different to making a fine bespoke kitchen from scratch? You begin with ideas, inspiration and an understanding of your customer, ensuring you use the best and most appropriate of materials and methods. Of course you also want the process to be profitable, but on a personal level, above all you hope your product will be enjoyed. So did I enjoy the two wines that I was asked to review for this column? I was sent an Italian red, a Masi Modello Delle Venezie 2010 and a Spanish white, a Torres Gran Vine Sol Chardonnay 2010. By nature this has to be a very personal opinion, but I will try to be impartial, despite the fact that I am not normally a Chardonnay fan. The fruity-flowery aroma and oaky tones don’t suit me, but in the right conditions and if properly chilled, say for a summer evening at the seaside, or when served to me by good friends, I can occasionally appreciate its appeal. Unfortunately, a rainy night in Gosforth wasn’t really conducive to capturing

the sunny essence of the Costa Brava! To be fair this is not all Chardonnay, it is blended with a more delicate Parellada, which does balance the oak and the intensity to some degree. This pale gold wine with its tropical fruit aroma was pleasant enough, but not enough to convert me to a Chardonnay drinker. However, if that’s what you’re after, I can say that this came across full and complex with a potent finish and with clear flavours of peach and fennel. I’m sure it would work well for Chardonnay fans with an al fresco meal of fresh seafood or some tasty tapas. The red was much more up my street, especially after a game of golf and to accompany one of my favourite dishes of a Chateaubriand steak, whipped up by my lovely wife, Robin. Being in the kitchen business you’d think that I might tire of spending too much time in my own kitchen, but that’s not the case at all and an evening at home with gourmet cooking and a decent wine is as good as it gets. So I was looking forward to opening this Italian blend of Refosco and Raboso grapes from the Veneto region. In the glass it was ruby bright, offered a cherry-ripe aroma and went down very pleasantly with a perky acidity, a touch of heat and a soft, if too hasty, finish.

This wine is fresh and nicely balanced and could well be an easygoing and popular crowd-pleaser, but as such maybe it sacrifices some complexity. It would accompany many different dishes (but especially herby pastas, cold meats and hard cheeses), though is perhaps not quite mature or full enough or with a truly satisfying finish to compete with the some of my favourites. However, I would happily recommend that, if the occasion calls, you give it a go. n The wines Gary tasted were,Masi Modello Delle Venezie 2010, £8.99 andTorres Gran Vina Sol Chardonnay 2010, £8.99, both available form Fenwick, Newcastle.

It came across full and complex with a potent finish and clear flavours of peach and fennel and I’m sure it would work well with for Chardonnay fans






As an official of the fine dining trade, 21 Hospitality Group’s Nick Shottel is used to speedy delivery and imaculate presentation. Would the latest Porsche 911 Carrera live up to his impeccable standards?




When I was asked by Chris March at room501 Publishing if I would like to road test a sports car for BQ magazine, I jumped at the chance without even knowing what or when I’d be reviewing. The date was arranged and I was asked to report to JCT 600 at The Silverlink. I was immediately apprehensive. I am not a small man. At 6’3” the thought of trying to drive a sports car wasn’t going to be as straight forward as one might think. The weather on the day in question was also cause for concern as it was ‘chucking it down’ to put it mildly. The car I was given was the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. After a few minor seat

adjustments, I took stock of what I was about to experience. The fears regarding my height were totally unfounded. There was a good three inches clearance between my head and the roof. In fact the car is incredibly spacious inside. There is an array of gadgets and switches that control everything from the satellite navigation system to making sure your seats are cooled enough. All very simple to master. The central console is the same as that of the Cayenne, as are the instrument dials. All are positioned to achieve the greatest efficiency. The tan coloured interior shouts quality and functionality. The Bose sound system is fantastic, the seats adjust in all



manner of ways to ensure optimum comfort and you almost feel engulfed in leather and shag-pile. Everything about the interior screams luxury. My only criticism is that the angle of the windscreen is such that the top of the dashboard reflects in it which did, at times, impair my vision. The roof of the Cabriolet appears to be canvas when, in fact it is made of metal with the canvas stretched over it to form what’s effectively a hard top. There is little to no wind noise and the traditional 911 shape is maintained. The roof folds down into an incredibly small space in around fifteen seconds, unlike most other folding hard >>




What Bob says...

The wind may be blowing and blustery around you but when you’re sitting in the cockpit, all is calm tops that seem to take an age to perform the action and you end up with cramp in the finger depressing the button. With the roof down the aerodynamics are terrific. The wind around you may be blowing and blustery but when you’re sitting in the cockpit, all is calm. An electric roller blind-type screen rises up from behind the back seats which stops any wind buffeting and protects any delicate hairstyles. You can complete your journey without looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. I can imagine having the roof down in all sorts of inclement weather as the heated seats are so efficient it’s like sitting on warm coals. Roof up or down the road noise is minimal which allows you to revel in the mesmerising growl of the engine. I ended up spending over a fiver just driving through the Tyne Tunnel purely and simply to listen to that wonderful sound. This is a ridiculously comfy convertible. A fantastic sports car. You hear people use expressions like ‘It cornered as if it were on rails.’ Well it does! There is no fear of the rear end kicking out when cornering. You feel as if all four tyres are sharing the responsibility of making the ride as comfortable as possible. The PDK clutch system makes the gear changes so smooth that there is absolutely no lag whatsoever. Everything about this car is


quick. It responds to everything in an instant. There are practicalities about this car. You can actually get quite a lot in the front luggage space. Something my wife was quick to point out after an enforced visit to the supermarket, the kids can fit in the back (so long as the driver is shorter than me) and I’m led to believe that it is very efficient on fuel. Overall, I loved road testing this car. The weather was absolutely atrocious, but I enjoyed the search for that elusive patch of blue sky. When I found it, it was roof down and on with the sun glasses. When it rained, the roof was reluctantly reinstated but the driving experience suffered no impairment. A thoroughly enjoyable experience that, maybe one day, I’ll be able to repeat. n The Porsche 911 Carrera 2s (991) with the PDK gear box that Nick test drove was supplied by Porsche Centre Newcastle, Silverlink Park, Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE28 9ND, Tel: 0191 295 1234, The Porsche 911 Carrera S starting price is £81,242 + Road Tax. With thanks to the Tanfield Railway.


It seems hard to believe that the Porsche 911 was launched back in 1963, especially since the basic shape has changed very little since then. The design brief was to make the car more luxurious and more economical, and Porsche have used aluminium to help reduce weight; the latest car is 60kg lighter than the outgoing model, and is 18% stiffer- making the car much more tight and rigid with the roof down. The new 911 is 100mm longer, and even though that does not sound like much, it seems to give the car not only more room, but helps give the car a more sporting look. The cars interior comes straight out of the Panamera and all switches and buttons look much classier. It is the first car in the world to have a 7-speed manual gearbox, although it’s likely that most customers will opt for the excellent PDK auto box. In sport mode the gear changes are lightning-quick, and the engines exhaust note becomes even more of a howl. Economy is improved by the introduction of stop start technology and a coasting feature; when you lift your foot off the accelerator at speed the cars engine is merely coasting and therefore saving fuel. The engineers tried to make the convertibles silhouette the same as the coupes. They have used magnesium panels in the roof, which help give the car a much more fixed roof appearance. Porsche have ditched the manual wind deflector for an electric wind blocker which rises up at the push of a button- it was really effective and stopped me having a bad Turban day! The roof can still be raised and lowered while on the move which is handy with the terrible weather recently. Bob Arora is an independent car reviewer and also owns Sachins restaurant on Forth Banks, Newcastle.


RX 30 mile Bur




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RX 450h prices start from £44,571 OTR. Model shown is RX Advance at £49,056 including metallic paint at £610. †Available on new sales of Lexus RX 450h Advance when ordered, registered and financed between 3 April 2012 and 30 June 2012, through Lexus Financial Services on Lexus Connect Contract Hire. At participating Lexus Centres. Advertised rental is based on a 3 year non-maintained contract at 10,000 miles per annum. For Business users only. Excess mileage charges apply. Other finance offers are available but cannot be used in conjunction with this offer. Terms and conditions apply. Indemnities may be required. Finance subject to status to over 18s only. Lexus Financial Services, Great Burgh, Burgh Heath, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5UZ. Subject to availability. Lexus Centres are independent of Lexus Financial Services.

RX 450h fuel consumption figures (MY11): urban 43.5 mpg (6.5 l/100km), extra-urban 47.1 mpg (6.0 l/100km), combined 44.8 mpg (6.3 l/100km). CO2 emissions combined 145g/km.



class design takes an upward movement Traditional watchmakers – like any other manufacturer of high-quality merchandise – need to stay ahead of the game, writes Josh Sims

Safe hands: Patek Philippe president, Thierry Stern


For watch fans, one new model from Patek Philippe this year has been news enough to start a queue. The Aquanaut, arguably Patek’s most famous model, certainly among its more contemporary designs, has been launched with its first complication – a dual time function. That may mean little to those for whom a watch is just a means of telling the time, secondary perhaps to their mobile phone. But to horolophiles, any new watch from Patek – one of the most revered of Swiss watch brands – is an event. The imminent Basel Watch Fair – where the world’s watch brands meet to show off their new wares – will no doubt spark similar interest. Certainly, Patek Philippe has seen one of the most adventurous periods in its recent history, perhaps aware that while it could coast on its illustrious reputation – the brand has almost come to define the watchmaker of watchmakers, challenged only perhaps by the


likes of Vacheron Constatin, A Lange & Sohne and the more esoteric pieces from independent brands, the likes of MB&F – to do so would be to risk being overtaken in an ever-more dynamic market. Recent launches from the company have, for example, included an ultra-classic self-winding Calatrava with an officer-style case (the Spanish knights who defended the citidel of Calatrava from the Moors in 1158 have given Patek its logo), with the same in red gold with a distinctive date-pointer hand. Also included is the first world-time model for women – although the fact that the bezel is diamondstudded may be more for sales appeal than the ability to find out the time in Caracas – and the Art Deco-inspired rounded square case of the Gondolo, also for women. There have been several grand complications too, of course, notably an annual calendar regulator, using a new ultra-thin movement

and the brand’s first regulator dial wristwatch. Indeed, the ultra-thin movement is just the latest example of the brand’s reminder that its pedigree should not yet trump innovation. Its Oscillomax, for example, also launched last year, is a case in point. It is a perpetual calendar model from the company’s limited edition Advanced Research collection. The watch employs the company’s silicon-based Silinvar technology, using the material to make several components, including its patented Spiromax spring balance, Pulsomax escapement and GyromaxSi spring balance. They add up not only to a clear indication of someone having fun in the patent-naming department, but, for those who understand the technicalities of improved functionality, accuracy and wear, Patek’s determination to be a brand as much looking to tomorrow as one that, with all its refined classicism in style terms, harks back to yesteryear. Certainly Patek has a convincing record as a pioneer. Founded in 1839 by two Polish immigrants, Antoine Norbery de Patek, a salesman, and Francois Czapek, a watchmaker (the company was renamed Patek Philippe in 1851 when Czapek left and French watchmaker Adrien Philippe joined), the brand has a number of firsts to its name. Not least is the creation in 1868 of the first Swiss wristwatch, made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. The 1880s saw patents for a precision regulator and a perpetual calendar; 1922 the first split-seconds chronograph; 1925 the first wristwatch with that perpetual calendar; 1956 the first all-electronic clock, and so on, with several “world’s most complicated complication” records along the way too. In addition, the decades of the last halfcentury have seen the launch of a number of watch collections that are still with us, underpinning their iconic status among collectors, such as the Ellipse, Nautilus and the aforementioned Gondolo. Small wonder that the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday, offers something of a roller-coaster ride through watch history – via some 2,000 watches and 8,000 books, not to mention housing the Caliber 89. Whisper that name with some reverence if you are in watch circles – it is >>



Patek is one of the few companies to design, make and even distribute its watches in-house recognised the most complicated timepiece made to date. It has, in case you are wondering, very good security. Arguably, such developments would not have been possible with shareholders leaning over one’s shoulder looking at the bottom line. But with Patek Philippe the last remaining independent, family-owned Swiss watchmaker, that has allowed a degree of experiment only usually afforded to much smaller artisan companies. The company has been in the hands of the Stern family since 1932, with Philippe Stern having driven much of the company’s growth and the next Stern in line, Thierry, having become president in 2009. Family ownership has allowed it to maintain quality control too – Patek is one of the few companies to design, make and even distribute its watches entirely in-house, each carrying the Geneva Seal hallmark, signifying the meeting of the various criteria for fine watchmaking laid down by the Republic of Geneva in 1886. Such aspects of the company also means its production is relatively small, from as little as five to, at most, a few hundred of each model. But that rarity, naturally enough, is part of the appeal of owning a Patek Philippe. Those who have seen Patek Philippe’s advertising over recent years will know, however, that it plays on the idea of temporary ownership – that each watch is merely being safeguarded by its wearer until it is time to pass it on to some lucky recipient of this mechanical maestro heirloom. It is a nice idea. But who are they kidding? What fool wouldn’t keep hold of their Patek unto the grave? The kids can earn their own. n


The new BMW 3 Series

Lloyd Newcastle

The ultimate Driving Machine


THE NEW CLASS-LEADING BMW 3 SERIES SALOON IS A CAR WITHOuT COMpROMISE. Lean? The sleek new BMW 3 Series Saloon might be bigger with more cabin space, but it’s no heavier. Weight-saving measures contribute towards lower emissions, as low as 109g/km in the case of the 320d EfficientDynamics model. With selectable ECO PRO mode standard on all models, it also offers greater efficiency and a highly impressive 68.9mpg on the combined cycle. Mean? One look at the athletic stance and it won’t surprise you to discover that the new BMW 320d EfficientDynamics model also reaches 62mph in just 8.0 seconds. With three new models – Sport, Modern and Luxury – joining the popular ES, SE and M Sport variants, no matter which model you choose, don’t think the specification is mean. They all have Bluetooth, cruise control, USB iDrive controller and a 6.5” colour screen fitted as standard. If you’re leaning towards the new BMW 3 Series Saloon, call Lloyd Newcastle on 0191 2617366 for more information and be one of the first to enjoy a test-drive.*


35 Monthly Rentals

BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Saloon



Contract Mileage

Excess Mileage Charge



11.11p per mile

Lloyd Newcastle

Fenham Barracks, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4LE. Tel: 0191 261 7366 Official fuel economy figures for the new BMW 320d SE Saloon: Extra Urban 74.3mpg (3.8l/100km). Urban 48.7mpg (5.8l/100km). Combined 61.4mpg (4.6l/km). CO2 emissions 120g/km. † Business users only. BMW EfficientDynamics reduces BMW emissions without compromising performance developments and is standard across the model range. *Test-drive subject to status and availability. Image for illustration purposes only.



in association with

queen of the ritzy The name Vivienne Westwood will always create a reaction – but ultimately one of awe, writes Josh Sims

“One of the best things about my work is that I have the most incredible clothes to wear,” Vivienne Westwood once said, with characteristic immodesty – the one thing about her that isn’t terribly English. “Just don’t let me near a washing machine. I hate washing.” The idea that Westwood should put any of her fantastic and often fantastical creations on anything as mundane as a spin cycle may seem anathema both to the perceived glamour of fashion, and of her reputation as something of an eccentric. But then Westwood cycles to work each morning, cooks each evening for her husband, and sometimes they go to the Festival Hall together for a concert. It paints a picture of unexpected domesticity for the fashion designer who went knickerless to receive her OBE from the Queen and, in her floaty skirt, did a twirl for the paparazzi outside – revealing more than her pride. She has recently put her stamp on another award,


having redesigned the Brit statuette. Yet the unexpected is what Westwood has always been about. To call her an eccentric – as she often is – is somehow to belittle her talent. No doubt about it, if she was Italian or French (like her fashion hero Yves Saint Laurent) she would be hailed as a national institution. Instead, while her fans are both legion and dedicated, her designs are too often dismissed by the middle brow as shocking or unwearable. Her business figures sing a different tune – off the back of her many shops from Paris and Milan to Moscow and Seoul, diffusion brands, fragrances, sunglasses and cosmetics, homewares for Wedgwood, wallpaper for Sanderson, a diamond jewellery collection and an atypically profitable couture line – has seen her sales top £60m. What is more, all of that is Westwood’s. She has never had any backers. It’s not bad for someone who never trained in fashion – she started to, but dropped out of Harrow College after a few weeks, convinced


that London’s middle-class arts scene would find no place for her. Crucially, this independence has given Westwood the freedom to pursue her own design agenda, one that is founded more in ideas and concepts than controversy. Westwood, an ex teacher, is an extreme bibliophile and museum groupie – and one who has never sought to slot neatly into seasonal trends. Indeed, Westwood has repeatedly set the broad sweeping trends that define an era: punk, new romanticism, underwear-as-outerwear, asymmetrical layering, conical bras, tube skirts, bondage trousers, vertiginous shoes (an exhibition dedicated to them is now touring the world)... Westwood was there with them all. Not that Westwood’s designs are as outré as many perceive them to be. A cursory summary of her most influential collections might not support this statement: Pirates (1979), for instance, gave us the frills and Regency splendour; Buffalo Girls (1982) saw petticoats aplenty, worn with bowler hats and bras over blouses – dressing-up box looks that actually transcended the catwalk and influenced mainstream fashion in a way that, with the exception of a tiny clutch of designers, modern fashion, with its monolithic bland brands, seems unwilling to do. But for all that, Westwood subverts the very forms she references – she is actually an arch traditionalist, with precision pattern cutting at the heart of it all and a belief that to do something new is not to dispense with the techniques or conventions of the past. She >>





looks forward only by looking back and reinterpreting. Westwood, as she puts it, “composes on the body” (she rarely sketches) and her designs very much relate to the body they swathe. “Eventually,” the designer has noted, “people buy clothes in order to wear them. That’s why, in spite of designers’ efforts or revolutions, the traditions of fashion should be taken into account. One can’t neglect customs.” Ardent feminists may not approve of the overtly sexy, almost restrictive femininity of her designs – many of which make an eyepopping highlight of bust and bum, set upon the pedestal of high-rise clumpy shoes – but it is by reinventing historical dress that she takes fashion forward. Bustles, frills, corsets, petticoats, voluminous skirts, bubble skirts, mini-crinolines and kilts, tweed remodelled as medieval armour, 18th century costume reconsidered for the 21st century, have all become signatures of her collections. “I certainly think that people wouldn’t look the way they look or think about clothes in the same way if I had never lived,” she has said. It is a statement of some grandeur, but no less true for that. She has not been alone in recognising her talent. Women’s Wear Daily, the US industry bible, claimed that she was one of the six most important designers of the 20th century, alongside those of more established reputations as giants, Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani. The V&A had started collecting her work as long ago as 1983. It must all seem a long way from her native Glossop, in Derbyshire, where Vivienne Isabel Swire was born in 1941 – her mother a sausage factory worker, her father a greengrocer – a long way from selling her own design jewellery on London’s Portobello Road market, as her first foray into fashion would be, and a long way from Let It Rock. This was the shop opened on London’s Kings Road in 1971 by one Malcolm McLaren – and he needed Westwood’s then rocker style clothing to fill it. She gave up ideas of going to university to make clothes – record-making consecutive British Designer of the Year awards followed. Both the shop, and what was on the rails, would go through many permutations over the coming years: >>



Her clothes shape fashion, but also defy it – they remain as current now as when they were designed



renamed Too Fast To Live, Too Young to Die; Sex; and then Seditionaries in 1976, it was to be the birthplace of punk. Although from 1981, with her Pirates collection, McLaren’s professional and personal influence ceased, even today she works closely with her husband Andreas Kronthaler whom she met when he was a fashion student. He effectively designs her menswear collections on her behalf, shunning, with old fashioned values, any opportunity to take the credit for it. He is 25 years her junior, and maybe that is what keeps Westwood’s energy at a peak – certainly Westwood has said that she has no issues with ageing. She even revels in gently mocking her industry’s obsession with it. But, unless Kronthaler takes over some day – Westwood has spoken of retirement in order to write (indeed, her recently launched Get A Life website is packed with essays on everthing from the environment to culture) it is Westwood’s name that will be part of fashion history. Her own history is already in demand. One only has to attend fashion auctions at the likes of Sotheby’s – where pieces from her best collections go for as much as £2,500 each, many times their original price – to get a final measure of Westwood’s enduring influence. Her clothes shape fashion, but also defy it – they remain as current now as they did when they were designed, as they would have had they been designed three centuries ago. “You have a much better life if you wear better clothes,” Westwood once said. “And the last thing I’m interested in is keeping up with the times. If you keep up with the times you’re always just missing something.“ Clearly that is a sentiment that her many dedicated followers agree with. n



Have brush, will travel




ENTREPRENEUR Hayley Lumby has crossed the divide between bankers who counsel small businesses and small businesses that struggle to get along with bankers. She tells Brian Nicholls how it has come about


Let those who see no room in business for sentiment see Hayley Lumby. She was a bank executive when she heard in the local golf club that a local company might be folding after 40 years, its founder caught up in a family illness. It was an interior decorating business and Hayley, who knew its work and those who did it, thought it a terrible shame. She told her husband Gary as much because it was a “fantastic company and the lads were great”, their quality of work was unmatched in her experience. She slept on it. Then at five o’clock one morning she woke Gary. “I think I’ll buy that,” she said. It was 2009, clouds were closing in on the economy, and logic suggested that after 26 years with Barclays and in a key position of commercial director, she might be financially rash to plunge into small business. But she was resolved. “When I had previously bought houses, refurbished and sold them in personal capacity, the company had done my decorating work,” she says. “I knew the men and their standards of decorating. They weren’t only competent but polite towards customers. I thought: ‘I don’t want them to lose their jobs.’” >>



Three were involved, and a part-time administrative assistant. Hayley in her bank chair was more used to assessing the workings of companies with maybe £25m turnover. But negotiations went ahead. The deal was signed. And while the business has in no way been run as a social enterprise, Hayley has ensured that beyond the bottom line jobs have actually increased too. Today’s workforce can be up to 20 depending on the job in hand. Besides an additional two to the full-timers, Hayley has a reliable list of similarly proficient painters who come in on a sub-contract basis. Most names on the customer list now represent new business, and that business can vary from Grade II Listed houses, universities,



colleges, hotels, schools, factories, public sector buildings and shops to white lines on badminton courts and car parks. “We can do very intricate work but also large factory ceilings and anything besides,” she says. “Our men cover a wide range. We’ve strength and depth.” So much so, that tenders are being won not only on home ground Teesside, but also in the like of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Hull. And those convinced a website is almighty in attracting new business might be surprised that even a lot of Hayley’s distant work is coming through longstanding contacts, both hers and her husband’s. She also works closely with another firm, Learning Space and Design.


The company’s main revenue streams are in the education sector and hotels just now. Hotels especially value the firm’s ability to redecorate by closing only one room a night, and Hayley’s particularly proud of the work done on The Cleveland Tontine at Staddlebridge, Northallerton. “I loved that – a fantastic job,” she recalls. “Tom and Eugene McCoy there had been my clients at Barclays. We picked wallpapers and furnishings together, and we all had a say. The hotel has always been renowned for its quirkiness, and I think we’ve maintained that.” Pride hasn’t clouded her business sense either. The company is still run as SE Decorators, the name given by the previous owner. “I could think of many other names to give it,” she


admits. “But SE Decorators after four decades carries a brand value not to be dismissed lightly. If you have a good brand, it’s worth keeping.” Hayley doesn’t physically paint, but does all the pricing, invoicing, estimating, and goes on site all the way through to check the quality. “I also interact with the client on colour and appearances and do a little design work.” Even three years ago, when she first went out to win work, she found herself considered to be doing man’s work. “I had a variety of reactions,” she recalls. “On one job the project manager said: ‘I’ve decided to employ you to keep the men happy, a little bit like Marilyn Monroe in the trenches,’” she adds. But she says: “The bank then had been very male dominated at my level - so no huge change. I don’t mind going in with steelcapped boots on. I don’t mind climbing up ladders to inspect the work in a warehouse with my hard hat and reflective jacket on. My knees might quake a little bit coming down. But I won’t be beaten.” There’s self-fulfilment in controlling a job from start to finish. ”I like delivering customer service, making sure clients get what they want at the end of the day,” she says. “I also think having a woman’s eye on decorating brings attention to detail that a woman has and a man may not have. “Our work standards have been excellent all along – don’t get me wrong. But I go on site every other day and I’ll walk around finished rooms and say what I’m not happy with and ask for a check-over. “Our quality’s excellent. That’s the greatest pleasure I get out of the business. “A lot of tradesmen go into people’s houses and aren’t polite, maybe don’t sweep the floors or vacuum afterwards. We walk into a house, paint it, come back out and the house, we hope, is as clean if not cleaner than when we went in. We’re conscientious like that about commercial and public buildings too.” A customer in York recently emailed, saying: “I didn’t realise contractors like you still existed – unbelievable.” Unsurprisingly that letter’s going onto the updated website. Her steepest learning curve was in pricing to gain pole position. Here she’s been greatly


I knew all the men and their standards of decorating. They weren’t only competent but polite towards customers. I didn’t want them to lose their jobs helped by Dave Livesey, the foreman, who’s been with the company since a teenager. “He’s been fantastic,” she says. “He’d come out with me and say: ‘Come on, what do you think this should be?’ Then he’d talk me through... guide me through the process to get the price right. If I got the price wrong, even by £1 a square metre, I could really catch a cold.” Today, of course, colds can be caught in other ways, especially from the knockout effect of one firm collapsing and bringing down others. SE Interiors got the sniffles when a building firm it had worked with for 30 years went bust, owing SE about £12,000. Hayley has spread risks now by expanding the customer


base and its sectors covered. Much more work is done now for hotels and government departments such as probation and passport offices. Her banking instincts still intact, she manages prudently – not from a business park but from a room at the family home in Wynyard, Sedgefield, where she and Gary were among the first residents 16 years ago. She had taken no salary for the first 12 months after they invested in the business. “This gave us a chance to buy more vans and other equipment. We’ve four vans now and can go anywhere.” She has no regrets about the career change and loves working for herself, even though she has to work far beyond normal working hours, ensuring compliance with all the health and safety, employment and other regulations and paper work. “We can’t afford to take on someone who’ll take over that side of it. I understand the reasons for it all but it is hard work. We comply. It’s the right thing to do. “When you work for a big organisation you‘ve a help desk and if anything goes wrong you just ring and someone else can fix it for you. Now I’ve had to teach myself a lot of skills I didn’t have before. I went from having many conveniences to having to solve even the computer problems.” And far from offloading admin, Hayley’s preparing to shoulder more. She’s taken to serial entrepreneurship, modestly but ambitiously. She’s opening a five-station hairdressers and a beauty treatment business, Tilli Catelli and Omkara Beauty respectively, in Thornaby. This has meant buying the former James and Baker solicitors building that’s lain empty for three years at Thornaby, after Andrew James retired and sold out to Blackett Hart & Pratt. Besides the business premises there are two two-bedroom flats and five rooms, and in five months Hayley has organised a full conversion, discovering also that getting gas and electricity put in is nowhere as easy as it used to be. While she owns the businesses, she’s bringing in Sam Mulgrew to run Tilli Catelli and daughter Emily, 19, a qualified beauty therapist, for Omkara. So son Adam, 21, is now the only Lumby not directly involved in family business. He works in sales for >>




Lookers Teesside Volkswagen at Middlesbrough. And Hayley in fact will be doing consultancy and administration for Gary’s new company that she has a stake in too: Focus on Success Gary, who was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to the finance industry, also worked at Barclays, heading the small business unit, before becoming North East regional business manager at Yorkshire at Yorkshire Bank. He was joint head of business banking for five years before heading the company’s retail banking, overseeing more than 230 branches and 2,500 staff. He eventually became UK director of small business at Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, managing a team of 350. He’s on the board of several organisations including the Leeds, York and North York Chamber of Commerce, and has recently been appointed non-executive director at Guisborough based Active Financial Services. It looks as if a lot of admin at Focus on Success, working from Wynyard, will fall on Hayley’s shoulders. But she’s up for it. “I always worked very long hours at Barclays,” she says. “I love a rather busy life.” n

We walk into a house, paint it, come back out and the house, we hope, is as clean if not cleaner than when we went in. We’re conscientious like that about commercial and public buildings too


Both sides now Given her background, Hayley Lumby understands some current banking attitudes to small business. “It’s difficult from the banks’ perspective to go on giving loans like they once did because at the end of the day they have to insist on security. The property market isn’t what it was. So there’s no uplift usually in property values. “But I also see it from the small business point of view. They need help to keep trading and to keep their employees. It’ll never be an easy balance. I think banks have to be more understanding around pressure on cashflow. When a small business rings and says it knows it will be paid by a customer but there’s a delay on the payment, there could be little more understanding there perhaps. But that’s about knowing not only their clients, but their clients’ clients too.”

ONLINE: Visit the BQ website for a special report on a new scheme aimed at supporting North East SMEs like Hayley Lumby’s.




Edward Twiddy’s leaving his executive job at the Treasury to run the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. He tells Brian Nicholls exclusively his view for the North East’s future, and how he knows the region so intimately already

Edward the First Edward Twiddy’s doubly on the move. He’s striding the long corridors of Whitehall between appointments as he describes to BQ over his mobile the prospects he sees for the North East, whose Local Enterprise Partnership he’s joining as its first director. He’s serving notice as deputy director of Local Government and Regions at the Treasury in London, armed already with optimism about, and sound knowledge of, the area whose LEP he’ll spearhead in fostering and co-ordinating both enterprise and economic growth. The North Eastern LEP (NELEP) will need clever co-ordination, to judge from its performance so far, and chairman Paul Woolston must be delighted that his own unquestionable skills of leadership are to be complemented by those of this 42-year-old former Stockton schoolboy


and Durham University doctor of philosophy, who impresses with his frankness and humour. In his 10 years at the Treasury and on secondment to the Foreign Office, Twiddy’s diverse responsibilities have included involvement in protecting the assets of individual companies during Northern Rock’s nationalisation. Anyone expecting a Whitehall mandarin stereotype will be surprised. Twiddy’s a product of the occasional intake of recruits from the University of Life rather than the dedicated civil service career ladder. He helped feed starving Kurds as they fled to the barren and bitterly cold wilds from Saddam Hussein’s bombs in Iraq, for example, and worked in bomb disposal there too. Looking to his new area of activity, he sees “unbounded potential”.


He explains: “I envisage in the North East a renaissance in natural resource exploitation, fuelled by resource prices globally, by renewed interest in these issues, the fact we’re a strategic centre, and that we have, either buried under the ground, growing on the surface or blowing over us, all kinds of natural resources in demand. “Also the North East knows how to export. It’s the country’s only net exporting region. It’s also a region with an output gap – a gulf between what it could and what it does produce. So growth is possible without pushing up costs. We can become competitive, taking advantage of a cheaper pound, low interest rates and the fact inflation’s starting to raise its ugly head in some other parts of the world.



Coming home: Edward Twiddy spent much of his education in Durham and will now make a permanent return to the city “Those things together begin to make people looking for places to locate think: stable economy, stable places, strong workforces and a tradition of manufacturing and exporting. That gives us a strong sell not just in the UK and Europe, but around the world. “I think we must recognise we’re going to be a branch economy predominantly. We’re going to have to be a UK or European arm of businesses headquartered elsewhere. But that’s probably the lot for most places around the world, as well as the UK. Headquartering will always be very mobile. We’ve got to think production, employment, adding value, and contributing to the prosperity and wealth of the region. This doesn’t require a headquarters.” Retaining the status of the region’s universities for their contribution is also a priority, in his view. And another factor, clearly, is one influencing him and his wife Helen to return to the North East. “It’s a great place,” he says. “People want that. Some places aren’t so

great. People want somewhere offering a night-time economy, a culture economy, one with recreation and real potential for them to raise their family and enjoy their lives in a rounded way.” The Twiddys, who have two sons – one five in June, the other three in August – have their house on the market and have made an offer for a house in Durham City. His overview of the North East prompts him to question whether the North/South divide is re-opening. He refers to a recent study in The

Economist. It showed, admittedly, that between 2000 and 2010, the North East was second only to Wales in showing the lowest GVA, or average individual’s contribution to the economy. But the amount of growth in GVA over the same period, he observes, showed the North East “only a smidgin” below national average, against the like of West Midlands (5% below) and North West (3% below), with Scotland showing an “equally small smidgin” above national average. He points out: “We have in this >>

We can become competitive, taking advantage of a cheaper pound, low interest rates and the fact inflation’s starting to raise its ugly head in some other parts of the world




SUCCESS STORY country the world centre for capital markets, which means a growth issue. Level is a different thing. “The North East’s productivity level measured by GVA is too low. That’s something we must target, something the LEP is there to do. It’s there to create the entrepreneurial depth and spirit, and to be a landing pad for inward investors so that we can leapfrog other regions. We’re holding our place in the national averages, so I don’t think it’s all gloom and doom.” Asked about NELEP having been slow to bid for growth funding, Twiddy replies: “I’m coming to make sure we’re at the front of the pack, not just in queuing for handouts. That’s not really what we’re about, though of course we should make the most of every opportunity that central government presents. “But we must be up front also in showing our determination to act as one, clear in our priorities. We’ve to be clear about economic prosperity’s role in every single person’s life in the region, whether they live on top of the Cheviots or in Hetton le Hole.” NELEP is picking up on the fact that the Government wants people with the interests of their place in mind to run economic development, services and all kinds of things run before either by government agencies or by departments of central government. “We’re going to do this for ourselves. So yes, we’ll be in the front and we’ll do it by strong governance, strong prioritisation, and by showing we can make the best choices for everyone in the North East.” Does he consider that with the geographical North East now divided, LEP-wise, common ground will still exist, enabling the two LEPs to work together? “Absolutely. I know Tees Valley. I was brought up there. I know Stephen Catchpole, Sandy Anderson and others of the LEP there very well. I’ve done a lot concerning their Enterprise Zones in my present job. “Teesside’s still one of Europe’s great process innovation hubs, having fabulous success getting its blast furnace back on its feet.” And, he adds, Teessiders are finding success in sectors other than manufacturing, and have things in common with Newcastle and Sunderland. “There will be competition,” he agrees. “And yah, boo, sucks too – but that’s



New team mate: NELEP chairman Paul Woolston will work closely with Edward Twiddy life, you know. It can happen everywhere. It happens in every committee. “It’s about how you take that forward and present it externally. The best run organisations have those debates. “Then they move on and create opportunities together. I don’t think it stops us sharing our ambitions with the rest of the country, or indeed with Scotland.” He sees a need to change the North East’s dynamic with Scotland. “A bunch of companies is going to be looking very closely at devolution, and how the debate plays out. We’re involved with Scotland whether it’s, say, Narec at Blyth and its relations with establishments in Orkney or Clydeside, or

whether it’s the process industries and their relations with Grangemouth. We’ll still have links. Then there’s the finance industry. All these are things to make the most of.” Twiddy acknowledges, however, spend per head tension between the North East and Scotland. “That’s something the North East must continue to make its case for. It’s partly the reason I’m interested in my new role. “It’s also part of the reason I was given the opportunity. I think it’s all about how we present ourselves, our arguments and opportunities to people in Whitehall who may feel the North East a bit too far to jump on a train and visit in a day. “Let’s have our debate about what the North

We’ve to be clear about economic prosperity’s role in every single person’s life in the region, whether they live on top of the Cheviots or in Hetton le Hole


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SUCCESS STORY East contributes not just within the region, but right across the country.” How does someone with obvious drive and ambition feel about leaving the Treasury employing 1,000 people to join an organisation possibly of 10 staff maximum? Twiddy replies: “I run a team with direct responsibility for about £60bn of spending, and indirect responsibility for about another £90bn of spending. That team comprises nine people. I believe small is beautiful. “I also run a charity reaching nationwide and into Ireland and the Continent. We do that with seven people. It’s all about the quality of people, and how you work. So we’ll be employing the best people we can and working very effectively, I hope.” Appointments to date include Gillian Roll, former head of regional strategy at One North East who’ll be Twiddy’s deputy, and Helen Golightly, who’s been co-ordinator for economic development and planning at Newcastle City Council. She’ll be responsible for Enterprise Zones and Growth Funding. Twiddy’s heartened by the backing to the LEP now from the relevant local authorities, and the access to resources being offered. “The challenge now,” he suggests, “is how do we pick some winners and show real progress in the short term, then get people to get behind a single strategy and vision for the area?” The lure of the LEP for him is partly that much of his time in Whitehall has been at one end of delivering economic development. “I feel it’s time to come back and put myself at the other end,” he says. There are personal reasons too. Mum and Dad, as he says, were married at Ponteland. His mum’s family lived in Durham, Northumberland and Thirsk. Grandad worked for the Agricultural Advisory Service, restoring colliery sites to grassland. His dad worked in agricultural chemicals at Urlay Nook. Twiddy himself was born in Reading in 1970 after his parents moved south. They moved back to Teesside when Twiddy was five. “I know what it is to support Middlesbrough – wouldn’t say avidly, though! I remember Irving Nattress, David Armstrong and, for a couple of seasons, Graeme Souness.” Work took the family south again when he



was 11. But he returned later to enter Durham University. “I wanted to do geography and environmental science but I’m afraid,” he confesses, “my other great passion is fishing. The only decent uni with a salmon river running through the town is Durham. Exeter may claim also but it’s not really a decent uni.” After gaining his first degree, he researched for a couple of years then returned to Durham and a PhD. He worked for a couple years in spin-offs involving the Middle East and environment. He worked in Iraq with a Unicef team on the “awful” food deal. In project planning and survey work he tried to plan the spend available to feed the refugee Kurds in the no-fly zone. Following another UN job there, in mine clearance, he gained another degree, in public law. “Just couldn’t get enough of it all,” he recalls. “Then I found myself going on holiday with a girl I’d known from Durham 10 years before. We looked at each other and thought: ‘Oh, this might work!’ She worked in London. I vowed I’d never work in London. Sometimes different parts of your body take over. I found myself in London looking for a job.” The girl of course was Helen, and she looks forward to a return north now. Her mother, Carolyn Andrews, recently retired from her post in the education department of Sunderland University. In his Treasury career Twiddy has worked on a European team, served in private office with former Cabinet minister Ruth Kelly, then in 2003-4 on secondment to the Foreign Office returned to Iraq. He worked on tax policy, then corporate finance including the Northern Rock assignment. After a central government project he spent three years in the regional job he now leaves. “The great thing about the Treasury,” he says, “is that it does everything, and everything must come through it, whether bank insurance or building bridges. Out of the 1,000 working there 600 or 700 are supporting key policy people. So actually it’s one of the smaller government departments and certainly one of the meanest in pay. No, it’s true! We recently produced a report on ourselves. It shows just how frugal we are.” n


‘It could bring more devolution...’ Edward Twiddy’s new job has him working alongside partners and the NELEP board of business bosses, local government leaders, and representatives of universities and colleges. Chairman Woolston says Twiddy’s experience has given him invaluable insight into challenges being faced. “We’re confident in his ability to lead development of innovative strategies to tackle the economic pressures facing the region,” he added. NELEP is the fourth largest LEP in the country, covering the council areas of Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland - an area with a population of 2m, and economic value of £32bn a year. Twiddy will be fully engaged in his new post by end of May and fully resident in the region immediately once house deals go through. He’s already giving input and holds great hopes for LEPs in principle. “I think there’s all to play for. I think we’re going to see LEPs of different sizes and shapes. Some probably aren’t going to work. “Some have up to 30 on their board, making it very hard to be functional or make decisions. “Others are probably too small. “There’s going to be an evolution. I think it’s exciting that the North East has said ‘we’re going to resource this and not just do it on the side.’ There’s a real opportunity for some LEPs to become leaders. Some will work well. It’s all about good governance, and local authorities and businesses making things happen. “If Whitehall sees that and sees the right capacity going in with capability and sound decision making, more devolution will happen.” Some phone call, that. Some caller...

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Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Chemicals Renewable Energy

Bordered by the A689 to the north. To the south and east of the site lies the South Works industrial area. Frontage is landscaped to a high standard, with tree-planting along wide spine roads

Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park MIDDLESBROUGH

11 Ha

Local Development Order

Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Chemicals Renewable Energy

Located between A66 to the east and the River Tees to the west. Adjacent to Riverside Park providing river wharfage and rail halt.

Kirkleatham Business Park REDCAR & CLEVELAND

12.6 Ha

Local Development Order

Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Chemicals Renewable Energy

Located east of Wilton International. The A174 trunk road is closely located to the south of the site, providing access to the A19 and beyond.

Belasis Hall Technology Park STOCKTON ON TEES

8.5 Ha

Planning Performance Agreement

Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Chemicals Renewable Energy

Tees Valley central approximately 2 miles from A19, 1 mile from Billingham Town Centre, less than 5 miles from Middlesbrough Town Centre. Set in mature parklands.

Government Funded enterprise Zone – Enhanced Capital Allowance Sites all sites receive first year capital allowances at 100% on qualifying plant and machinery to offset against corporation tax if the investment is made before april 2017. Site


Simplified planning Regime

SectoR focuS

Site deScRiption


56.9 Ha

Local Development Order

Renewable Energy Advanced Engineering

5 Quays, 3 berths, seafront land and a fully serviced site.

South Bank Wharf PD Ports / Tata REDCAR & CLEVELAND

80.7 Ha

Planning Performance Agreement

Renewable Energy Advanced Engineering

Development land with river frontage.

Wilton International REDCAR & CLEVELAND

164 Ha

Planning Performance Agreement

Chemicals Renewable Energy

Five development plots located within the fully serviced chemical complex at Wilton.

New Energy & Technology Park STOCKTON ON TEES

41.3 Ha

Planning Performance Agreement

Renewable Energy Chemicals Advanced Engineering

This site has the benefit of B2 planning designation which permits the land to be developed for potentially high hazard plant and energy generation.

Where the company makes a trading loss for tax purposes, and the loss is not offset against other group profits or carried back, it can be carried forward indefinitely to be set against taxable profits from the same trade in future accounting periods.

Tees Valley Funded Enterprise Zone – Business Rate Discount Sites tenants can benefit from business rate relief of up to £55,000 per annum for a five year period. Site


Simplified planning Regime

SectoR focuS

Site deScRiption

Oakesway Industrial Estate HARTLEPOOL

12.7 Ha

Local Development Order

Renewable Energy Advanced Engineering

Large site adjacent to the Hartlepool Port 1 mile North West of Hartlepool Town Centre East access to A19 and A1


5.1 Ha

Planning Performance Agreement


Served by A66, A19 and less than a mile from rail connection to East Coast Mainline. Easy access to Stockton Town Centre and Teesdale Business Park.



Local Development Order


Linked to A1 and A66 and close to Durham Tees Valley Airport. Adjacent to East Coast Mainline, walking distance to Town Centre


8.1 Ha

Local Development Order


Expansion to adjacent BOHO – Middlesbrough’s innovative creative sector development. Easy access to A66, Town Centre and railway station.



On the road to relaxation Peter Bigge is the founder of Town and City Management, a Darlington firm of independent property management and block management that specialises in residential leasehold throughout the North of England. Services offered by the company, formed in 2002, include management of facilities, retirement accommodation and estate staff, also collection of ground rents, insurance valuations, right to manage applications and company secretarial services. The company is a member of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, and Peter himself a member of the Institute of Residential Managing Agents. Outside work, however, Peter’s passion is motorbikes and, as he admits here, he sometimes wonders what might have been had he put racing before business as his career I had never even sat on a motorbike until I was 50. But an opportunity came along to have a test ride. After that, I was hooked. Now, four years or so later, riding motorbikes is my main form of relaxation. Whatever I get involved in I like to do. And I make sure I do it properly. As a result, I have taken lessons from one of the world’s leading experts. I turned to British former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer Ron Haslam. He has been racing for more than 30 years, winning three world titles and four British championships. He has ridden in nearly 110 Grand Prix races. Learning from such a legend, whose nickname is Rocket Ron Haslam, has been inspiring while it further fuelled my passion for riding motorbikes. Motorbike racing really gets the adrenalin pumping, and gives you a fantastic sense of exhilaration and freedom. The moment I don my motorcycle gear and get on my Yamaha R6, I feel on top of the world.  It’s a great way of blowing away any cobwebs - an antidote also to working in a demanding and busy business environment. As well as competing in novice races, I love to spectate at track days. I regret I did not get involved in this sport at a much younger age. I do wonder what I could have achieved if I had taken up motorbike racing in my teens or early 20s. My dream would have been to emulate the success that the likes of Ron Haslam and fellow champion


Speed demon: Peter Bigge swaps pinstripes for leathers when he’s not at work

The moment I don my motorcycle gear and get on my Yamaha I feel on top of the world. It’s a great way to blow away the cobwebs Clive Padgett have achieved. I am a driven and ambition kind of person. If I had started motorbike racing several decades ago, I would have put my all into trying to become one of the best in this field. I would love to have competed at the highest


levels of motorbike racing. I might even have challenged the likes of Ron Haslam! However, this obviously was not meant to be. At least, I discovered the wonders of motorbike racing - even if it was as I embarked on my sixth decade of life. n

Apr 2

Leading the way In constructing communities Esh Construction is the multi-disciplined “one stop shop” construction division of Esh Group. We have delivery arms for building, refurbishment, historic restoration, housing & regeneration, civil engineering and facility solutions. Our vision is clear. We see construction as dynamic, exciting and rewarding. Our business directly employs around 1,000 people and Esh Group’s turnover in 2011 exceeded £170m. We have regional offices in Durham, Leeds, Northumberland and Kendal. The communities in which we work are supported through our ‘Added Value’ approach. Our people are our strength; we succeed and achieve through their experience, commitment and training. In short, Esh Construcion delivers. To find out more please visit:

Apr 2012.indd 2

4/25/2012 11:09:40 AM




By John Wall The Prince’s Trust youth charity is appealing for local businesses to sign up to its North East Leadership Group after the group raised £80,000 at its launch in February. They would join firms that have already signed up to the group which aims to raise money and help disadvantaged young people in the North East set up their own businesses. Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman of The Prince’s Trust, Charles Dunstone, spoke to more than 80 business leaders and entrepreneurs at the launch event, held at the Aston Workshop in Beamish. Young people also attended who had set themselves up in business already through the trust’s Enterprise Programme. The programme supports and funds young people exploring their enterprise ideas to start their own businesses. One of the young people, Craig Smith who founded The Printed Bag Shop at Killingworth, spoke with guests over lunch. When his family’s business collapsed in 2006, Craig was left unemployed, with spiralling debts, life on benefits and no education. His job applications were getting him nowhere.


But Craig didn’t give in. With help from the trust he set up his business selling bespoke printed bags. In his company’s five years of trading, growth has been remarkable. It supplies firms such as Virgin, Boots, Vivienne Westwood and Coca Cola. He now employs eight staff on a permanent or freelance basis. Besides raising funds to help the like of Craig, the Leadership Group enjoy benefits such as exclusive invitations to the trust’s special fundraisers, and events in the region. Chris Gray, who’s with the trust in the North East, says: “We’d like to thank everyone who has joined the Leadership Group so far. Their contribution will immensely help young people like Craig into work. “Places are still available. We would encourage people to join and help us make a difference in the region. Together we can help even more young people into business and help at the same time to revive the North East economy.” Three meetings are held throughout the year, the next one is at the Nissan centre on September 26 when the speaker will be the former head there – and now chairman of Trinity Group and Morrisons, Sir Ian Gibson. I am confident it will be another great event. Nissan’s recent announcement of two new car models to be built at Sunderland is fantastic for the region. Here’s a great opportunity to learn more about how the North East economy will benefit. We would advise people to book tickets early. Please contact me, John Wall, on 07802917615 ( if you’d like to join the North East Leadership Group and for more information about the next event. The Prince’s Trust will also host a top class clay pigeon shoot at Lambton on May 25 organised by John Holland of JR Holland, and sponsored by Dickinson Dees. The day will be


hosted by Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Lewis actor Kevin Whately, a long standing supporter of the trust. Further details can be accessed from Erin Beattie: tel 0191 279 9373, John Wall is chairman of The Prince’s Trust North East Development Committee

Kevin Whately: Trust supporter

Together we can help even more young people into business and help, at the same time, to revive the North East economy



Hay & Kilner’s HR Key service is transforming the way its business clients gain legal advice when managing their workforce.

Hay & Kilner launcHes new Hr service for employers


ORTH East law firm Hay & Kilner has launched an important new service aimed at helping the region’s business leaders steer clear of the rising tide of employment tribunal claims. Mass redundancies, corporate restructuring and wage disputes caused by the tough economic climate have contributed to rocketing levels of employment tribunals in recent years, leaving employers at increased risk of substantial payouts which many of them can ill afford. Newcastle-based Hay & Kilner has responded with the launch of its tailored HR Key service, which transforms the way its business clients gain legal advice when managing their workforce. Businesses of all sizes, from SMEs to plcs, can now sign up for the fixed fee service which gives them unlimited telephone support from experienced solicitors. Subscribers to the service will also be given generous insurance protection and online access to an extensive range of HR documents aimed at preventing and resolving employment issues. The product is particularly attractive to businesses as they receive unlimited telephone advice from Hay & Kilner’s top solicitors. All of the documents in the databank were also personally prepared and are regularly updated by Hay & Kilner’s employment law team. Hay & Kilner employment partner Sarah Hall said: “We’ve seen a real surge in employment tribunal claims. A lack of job opportunities means that people who have been made redundant are more likely to pursue disputes with their former employer. Employers are understandably concerned about any unwanted spend and if a tribunal claim lands at their door they are at risk of having to make a significant and sometimes hugely damaging payout. HR Key is designed to deal with exactly this situation.”

from a handful to hundreds of workers.” Alongside telephone support, and access to scores of useful documents related to employment issues, HR Key comes with the added benefits of an annual audit to review contracts and staff handbooks, regular Email updates and invitations to Hay & Kilner HR events. Among the first companies to take advantage of the HR Key service is The Travel Bureau in Gosforth, Newcastle, whose financial director Graham Knight said: “HR Key is a cost effective service. We are a caring and responsible employer but we need expert advice to ensure that our employees receive the benefits they are fully entitled to. By ensuring they are protected we in turn protect ourselves from legal and tribunal costs that might very well be incurred if our HR policy is found to be wanting.” Washington-based food wholesale business Ellwoods is also an early adopter of the new service, with director Jackie Ellwood describing it as a “must-have” in the current compensation culture. L to R: Sarah Hall & Sarah Furness of Hay & Kilner with Graham Knight - finance director of The Travel Bureau.

hr key operates on a fixed fee basis with the price being determined by the size of the employer Associate solicitor Sarah Furness added: “HR Key operates on a fixed fee basis with the price being determined by the size of the employer, so it really is ideal for businesses that employ anything


For more information on any of Hay & Kilner’s services, please visit: or call 0191 232 8345



The Scrutator


- even measuring the return on investment. He believes: “Just as the Web and e-commerce have dramatically changed how organisations operate, social technology will change how we do business.” He has led three successful start-ups, and practiced what he preaches in compiling this (Greenleaf) book. He prepared an outline chapter by chapter, wrote the first section and last two chapters, then socially outsourced the rest of the work to distant participants. Klososky provides a model for implementing social tech within any size organisation: • How to set social tech goals • How to assemble a social tech team • Integrating social technology tools into the sales process • Online reputation management. Klososky predicts the future of social technologies too.

>> Tools and techniques

>> Second time round

Antonio Weiss’ Key Business Solutions (Financial Times Prentice Hall) is an inventory of proven problem solving tools and techniques to help tackle even the toughest business dilemmas effectively. It has reached third place in the WH Smith business best seller list already. Increasing company sales, effecting cost cuts, formulating strategy and improving your team morale – all this and more are gone over. Weiss is a consultant at 2020 Delivery, a leading public sector management consultancy. He has worked for several clients in the National Health Service and central government departments, and has also assisted with projects for the United National Industrial Development Organisation.

We gave readers the wrong e-mail address to use if applying for a copy of Geoff Greenwood’s manual, The 12 Biggest Business Problems You Cannot Solve, a good read I reviewed in the previous BQ. Some copies are still available free. Contact Apologies if any reader used the previous address and received no reply.

>> Drivel or drive? The title may not sound alluring. But Scott Klososky’s book Enterprise Social Technology is topical. It’s about harnessing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking to advantage in business. Klososky suggests how they may help goal setting and other planning


>> What a remarkable person We’ve been anxious to win friends and influence people ever since Dale Carnegie, the lecturer and poor farmer’s son, suggested how with his multi-million best seller back in 1936. The stream of subsequent authors on the same tack since he left to charm the angels in 1955 suggests either his wasn’t a definitive guide or else we long for further re-assurance. Pamela Milne in The People Skills Revolution (Global Professional Publishing) examines how to influence others as part of leadership skills in running a business and improving negotiating abilities. Life, she suggests, is a playground not a battlefield. Her advice is based on 20 years working with thousands of clients.


It’s a step by step “pull different leaders, push different buttons” approach. If you want insights instead into the aura of presence, such as Sir Richard Branson showed yet again on his recent visit to Newcastle, you might wish to read Andrew Leigh’s Charisma (Pearson Prentice Hall). The ability to walk into a room, instantly win the attention and create a lasting impression surely equates to a Midas touch. While for many it may be a natural gift, Leigh believes that anyone can develop a personal palette of impact skills. Leigh has turned out more than a dozen books on management. An economist initially, and later a business writer for The Observer, he also holds an MA in human resources and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development organisation. He co-founded a UK company that helps clients achieve behavioural change at individual, team and corporate levels. Clients of the company include Aviva, Barclaycard, DHL, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Visa. There, how many charismatic people have you met from those organisations?

>> Word juggling You get an idea of the work pressures our region’s journalists are under in media’s recession when The Northern Echo announces that Mark Tallentire, besides being its local government correspondent, is also now assistant editor of the Durham Times and Durham reporter for The Durham Advertiser.

>> Woman with balls Finally, advice for young entrepreneurs. Lara Morgan in More Balls than Most shares with us some outrageous highs and lows of building her business Pacific Direct from scratch into a £20m disposal. She transformed the hotel amenities market by uniting some notable brand names. She explains all this and what’s needed to balance a strong and successful business ethic with a healthy lifestyle (you can also read her tips for exporters on our website, - more than just a magazine, when and where you want it.

The indispensible online companion to Business Quarter Magazine in print, aggregates all our magazine editorial interviews and multi-regional content onto a single website for ease of reference. Regularly updated, will allow you to choose when, where and how you read your latest content interweaving key features from the magazine with additional online editorial compiled by our award winning business journalists. Register with us and you also have the ability to tailor your own personal magazine content, choosing which content you wish to read from our regions and join other BQ readers to contribute your own thoughts whilst also having access to a range of unique offers and special promotions. Should you wish we’ll also keep in touch with our regular bqlive update which will bring you details of our most recent key interviews and stories as well as news and events of interest that we feel are worthy of your time.

For more information or to find out how could benefit you and your business contact the sales team at room501 publishing on 0191 5375720 or e-mail sales@

BQ Magazine Charity Golf Day & Barbecue in aid of the Variety Build A Bus scheme Date & Venue: Wednesday 27th June @ Matfen Hall, Matfen, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Appeal This event is being organised in aid of the Variety “Build A Bus” scheme in which room501 publishing has committed to raising £20,000 over the next two years to raise sufficient funds to build a community bus for a worthy local cause. room501 has become one of the first sponsors of Variety the children’s charity’s (formerly Variety Club) latest campaign, and pledged their support in order to literally pay for a specialist Sunshine Coach, piece by piece.

The Golf Day The golf day will consist of a four ball Stableford competition. The day will commence with bacon sandwich and tea/coffee from 10.30am teeing off from 1.00pm. During the morning, teams will have full use of the facilities on the course. There will be numerous competitions during the round including nearest the pin and longest drive as well as the opportunity to win prizes in our hole in one competitions.

Enter a team of four players for the charity golf day • 18 holes of golf in teams of four • Full use of Golf Facilities • Pre and post golf refreshments • Barbecue and Prize Giving • Golf day goody bag

Cost £400 per team/£125 per person Sponsorship opportunities also available

To Get Involved To book a golf team or discuss sponsorship contact any member of the sales team at room501 by e-mail sales@ or by telephone on 0191 5375720.


with Frank Tock >> It’s all in the mind So what thoughts circulate in the new, pristine Newcastle Business School? Professor James Hayton says entrepreneurial organisations need mavericks in their ranks or only incremental progress at best will follow, though an organisation run wholly by mavericks gets nothing done. It’s ability to balance individualism with collectivising that gives entrepreneurialism best prospect. Whereas managers have systematic qualities, entrepreneurs have the quality of gut instinct, he reasons. But can entrepreneurialism can be taught? Dr Tyrone Pitsis considers an unsettling theory: while innovation is core to democracy in a business, ownership may actually be moving away from democracy. Where does that leave innovation? Professor Dimo Dimov, firmly believing that entrepreneurs must embrace failure (not flee from it), suggests the line between genius and lunatic is fine. But as the final outcome in a business decides it, individuals should be free to walk the line. Professor Pooran Wynarczyk meanwhile focuses on science, innovation and technology. The school is keen to involve local businesses of all sizes in its explorations. A chance to be one up...?

>> Rally round, folks Whether it’s employee apathy or lack of employer motivation, I don’t know. But, given the existence of some great companies I come across, I do wonder why not one North East firm stands out in its



own right in either list of best companies or best small companies to work for that The Sunday Times compiles. Can’t be good for our business reputation. North East broadcaster Star Radio is named with 15 sister stations as best mid-sized employer for a second year running. The station, which is part of UKRD Group, serves Darlington, Durham and Northallerton area. Luckily too, we figure handsomely in the 100 best not-for-profit employers to work for: Dale and Valley Homes (Bishop Auckland housing service) 11th in the country; St Oswald’s Hospice, Newcastle (13th); and also Northumbria Students’ Union, The Cyrenians (Newcastle), Harbour domestic abuse charity (Hartlepool), NCFE awards body (Newcastle), the Five Lamps social enterprise charity (Stockton), Coast and Country social housing (Redcar), Gateshead College, and Norcare social housing (Newcastle). At least we’re a caring region...

>> Swinging to the ‘60s Perhaps that suggestion of the 1960s that Teesside Airport’s London flights should touch down at Luton isn’t so daft now. Easyjet says the transfer from Luton to St Pancras International today takes only 26 minutes, against Heathrow Terminal 5’s transfer of 47 minutes. London Gatwick transfer to Victoria Station, too, takes only 30 minutes. Maybe instead of begging for scraps, defenders of the troubled Teesside airport should seek an airline willing for now to give Luton a shot. The likelihood of a totally new replacement for Heathrow in the Thames Estuary looks increasingly impractical - in time, investment and environmental terms. Besides, there are already six airports and seven runways in and around London. Developing Northolt, used while Heathrow was first being built nearby would avoid destroying villages such as a third runway at Heathrow would. It’s essential London should catch up soon with Paris and Frankfurt, which now enjoy 1,000 more flights yearly than Heathrow to China’s three largest airports; also to end a situation where 21 emerging market destinations have


daily flights from other European hubs not served from Heathrow. But campaigning to ensure more landing slots in London also provide sufficiently for UK regional services must also be intensified. So must the fight against the the Government’s world-record charges, raised a staggering 8% - more than double inflation – in airport passenger duty in the recent Budget. I worry about the Oxford Economics findings that 14% of jobs in the North East depend on foreign investment, and more than half the companies concerned can only reach their home market through a hub airport. Some £3.6bn of North East exports also rely on air travel - 96% of them through a hub. Controversy over Heathrow’s future is no mere squabble, and it’s damaging to our economy that a government report on the future of Britain’s air traffic should be deferred yet again.

>> One for the road Many of the hundreds of mourners who attended the funeral of Frank Cook, Stockton’s former MP, must be still chuckling at a whisky toast his friend Sir John Hall gave in closing his eulogy. As Sir John raised a glass and drank to the memory, he spoke of the many times he and Frank had discussed local planning and world affairs at Wynyard Hall. Parish priest Father John Cooper, of St Cuthbert’s church, Stockton (where the eulogy was given) had given his blessing for this. Later, Wynyard Hall, which is now jointly Sir John Hall’s home and also a country house hotel – “the most splendid 19th Century mansion in the country”, the architectural expert Nikolaus Pevsner once opined - put on a lunch for around 100 of the mourners.

>> Telltale signs A cynical economist I know in the South who’s also a footie fan tells me he instantly knew when he switched telly on recently that a North East derby was in progress. One side wore shirts sponsored by a pawnbroker, the other by an online bingo firm.


Reason says: there are three ways to go.

Instinct says: only one leads to growth.

Business decisions are rarely black and white. Dynamic organisations know they need to apply both reason and instinct to decision making. We are Grant Thornton and it’s what we do for our clients every day. Contact us to help unlock your potential for growth. ©2012 Grant Thornton UK LLP. All rights reserved. Grant Thornton UK LLP is a member firm within Grant Thornton International Ltd. Grant Thornton International Ltd and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered independently by member firms. Full disclaimer available at



BQ’s business events diary gives you lots of time to forward plan. If you wish to add your event to the list send it to The diary is updated daily online at

MAY 2 No 2- Show Me How Radio Can Work for Me, Durham Office Services event, Belmont (4pm). 0191 375 5700. 2 Customer Service Excellence Awareness event, Gateshead (9.15am). 01925 256650 3 North East CIPD and HR&D Awards Evening, Gateshead Hilton (6.30pm). 0191 201 6435. 3 Introduction to B2B Sales, John Buddle Work Village, Newcastle (9am). www. 8 Deadline for entries in Service Network Culture for Success Awards. 0191 244 4000. 10 The Sponsors Club 21st Birthday Party and Awards, Great North Museum, Newcastle (7pm). 01912220945. 10 Jump Start Your Sales, John Buddle Work Village, Newcastle (noon). www. 10 NECC event, What’s in it for You? DFDS Seaways, North Shields. (11am). events@ 0300 303 6322. 15 Tyne and Wear Commercial Property Show, Hilton Hotel, Gateshead (10am). www. 15 NSCA, SAR, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham (1.30pm). Marie Rice 0191 300 0532 or 16 EEF Health, Safety, Climate and Environmental Update, EEF House, Gateshead (9.30am). 0845 293 9850. 16 Muckle LLP event, Selling with Social Media, Time Central, Newcastle (1pm), 16 South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, Speaker tba, Bede’s World, Jarrow (noon). 0191 427 2324 17 NOF Energy UK Offshore, Wind Supply Chain Event, St James’s Newcastle (8.30am). 0191 384 6464 18 Sunderland University Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, Media, Place and Mobility, four speakers, at The Cinema (1.30pm). Open meeting. 19 Winning against the Odds, The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Annual Business Conference (7.30am), Dinner and Awards (7pm). Hilton, Gateshead. 21 Closing date (noon) on application for fellowship scheme in digital media, technology and creative fields in the DigitalCity Innovation and Growth project at Teesside University. 22 Newcastle Science City event, Working with Newcastle University, 22 NSCA, Capital Taxes Update & Planning, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham (9.30am). Marie Rice 0191 300 0532 or 22 Watson Burton/CECA seminar, Case Law Update, Durham County cricket ground, Chester le Street (8am). Tel 0191 228 0900, 22 NSCA, Essential Tax Updates for the Busy Practitioner, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham (1.30pm). Marie Rice 0191 300 0532 or 22 Investors in People event, Your Business Network, Gateshead (1.30pm) iip@i-dg. 0844 406 8008 22 Briefing: ISO27001: What is it and the Benefit? Darlington (9.30am). Tina Deighton 0845 58 27001. 23 Nepic Project Finance Workshop, Wynyard Hall Hotel, Billingham (8am). 24 Tomorrow’s World: Bank of England Economic Review, Service Network and Bank of England presentation, Dickinson Dees, Quayside, Newcastle. 0191 244 4031


24 Exposure, business exhibition, seminars and workshops run by Sodexo Prestige, Network North and Back Consulting at the Bamburgh Suite, St James’s, Newcastle (9.30am). 24 Sell More in B2B Sales, John Buddle Work Village, Newcastle (9.30am). 28 NOF Energy Oil and Gas Business Visit, Milan and Rome. 0191 384 6464 29 to 31 Thinking Digital Conference, Sage, Gateshead. 30 Money into Property, DTZ and BDO investment presentation, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle (8am). 31 No Obligation Apprenticeship Event, Rolls-Royce North East, Newcastle (1pm). 31 Jump Start Your Sales, John Buddle Work Village, Newcastle (noon).


11 NOF Energy, Market Visit: Oil and Gas to Trinidad. 0191 384 6464. 14 Itroduction to B2B Sales, John Buddle Work Village, Newcastle (9am). 19 EEF briefing: New Pension Obligations, auto-enrolment for beginners, EEF House, Gateshead (9.30am). 0845 293 9850 20 NOF Energy Annual Supplier Day, tbc 20 NOF Energy, Subsea North East Networking Dinner, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham. 0191 384 6464 14 NSCA, Anti Money Laundering Update, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham (9.30am). Marie Rice 0191 300 0532 or 14 NSCA, Related Party Essentials a Practical guide for Accountants and Auditors, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham (1.30pm). Marie Rice 0191 300 0532 or Marie. 20 Investors in People, Preparing for your Assessment, Quayside Exchange, Sunderland (1.30pm). 0844 406 8008. 20 South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, Speaker tba, Bede’s World, Jarrow (noon). 0191 427 2324 21 NOF Energy, Annual Suppliers Day, tbc. 0191 384 6464.


2 - The ninth annual Culture for Success Awards, The Stand Comedy Club, Newcastle (7pm). 3 NECC Business Barometer Briefing, Middlesbrough 3 No Obligation Apprenticeship Event, Rolls-Royce North East, Newcastle (9am). 5 NOF Energy, Subsea North East Networking Dinner, tbc. 0191 384 6464. 18 South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, Speaker tba, Bede’s World, Jarrow (noon). 0191 427 2324 please check with contacts beforehand that arrangements have not changed. Events organisers are also asked to notify us at the above e-mail address of any changes or cancellations as soon as they are known.

The diary is updated daily online at


It’s a great place to do business Matchday hospitality for the 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season is now available at the award-winning Stadium of Light. The perfect combination of superb facilities, first-class service and top flight football ensure an event quite simply in a league of its own. Boasting a range of new additions including the development of our new Executive Business Lounge and our brand new reward scheme, our matchday packages have something for everyone. Guarantee your place at next season’s biggest matches. Book your seasonal pass now from just £845 per person + VAT.

C ALL 0 8 7 1 9 1 1 1 5 5 5 O R E M A I L HOSP I TA L I T Y@ SA F C .C OM John Mowbray - President North East Chamber of Commerce

1879 Events Management is an innovative, all-inclusive event management company With a proven track record of working with regional, national and international event organisers, planners, promoters and performing artists, Sunderland AFC has established itself as a market leader in this specialised field. Companies and individuals can now harness this expertise and experience for their own events – whether large and small - away from the Stadium of Light, through 1879 Events Management. Our vast team of dedicated staff, from catering and hospitality to facilities, stewarding and ticketing, offer a blue-print in event management expertise and 1879 Events will liaise directly with agencies, service providers and suppliers to ensure that your event is both safe and successful. We are proud of our standards of service, quality and reputation - let us bring this to you at your selected location.

For more information on how we can make your event a success please contact Claire Saunders on 0871 911 1261 or e-mail for more information.

Until Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit of Everest, they would not rest. (Kathmandu, 1953.)

Why should Tenzing Norgay be showing your bank the way forward? It has been said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. We suggest there is a third component. Collaboration. As Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay proved to the world, even the most extraordinary talents need support if they are to achieve peak performance. This is as true of the world of finance, of course, as it is of mountaineering. Because as we all know, the economic climate can be as fickle as the rarefied air of the Himalayas. The pitfalls of ignorance as treacherous. The rewards of success as exhilarating. So until we’ve helped our clients in their efforts to achieve their financial ambitions. For more information about UBS Wealth Management please contact Nick Swales on +44-19121 11000

Wealth Management · Asset Management · Investment Banking

We will not rest

The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise as a result of market and currency fluctuations and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Names, images and/or references to third parties used in this advertisement are used with permission. Location and date stated in the legend indicate where and when the image was taken. © UBS 2011. All rights reserved.

BQ North East Issue 17