ISSUE TWELVE: SPRING 12
Shepherd’s delight Leading the Black Sheep flock into pastures new waiting to launch Patience pays off for tech guru cheese spread Yorkshire’s most cherished export is off to sunnier climes the equaliser Meet the unstoppable champion of gender balanced boards
queen vic ISSUE TWELVE: SPRING 2012: YORKSHIRE EDITION
How the only girl in five family generations now rules the roost in a sector dominated by men BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS
The new indispensible online companion to BQ. Register now. www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire Business Quarter Magazine
Our clients state our case: â€œWe have a great deal of confidence in Gordons. They thoroughly understand our business and provide us with a competitive advantage in the corporate arena.â€? Jon Ellis Managing Director Emergency medical equipment specialist Ferno (UK)
To find out more call
0845 273 3050 www.gordonsllp.com
BUSINESS QUARTER: SPRING 12: issue TWELVE Family businesses and the ins and outs of being part of them come under our scrutiny this quarter. And that includes one of the most famous names in brewing. It is 20 years since an argument about the direction Theakston’s should be heading in led Paul Theakston to break away and set up his own brewery called Black Sheep – a name whose meaning has been much discussed over the years. What is business like now that his son Rob has taken over – and now that the original Theakston’s is back under family control and relations have apparently been restored? We aim to find out. Victoria Hopkins, meanwhile, was a scuba diving instructor in the Caribbean with a grandfather who didn’t want her to be any part of the catering equipment manufacturing business he had founded back home in Pudsey. Then in a story that exemplifies what John Lennon meant about life happening to you when you are busy making other plans, she ended up back at the family firm, and now runs it. None of the many men in her family seem interested in challenging her in that position. She talks about how the last few years have really put all her eminent capabilities to the test, but how she is now looking forward to the future when the company can start innovating again. And Heather Jackson talks movingly about what being the daughter of one of Yorkshire’s best known artists really meant, particularly when you have ambitions of your own that you are willing to sacrifice more or less anything to achieve. Fortunately things have turned out well for this business lady, who counts prime minister David Cameron among her supporters. Of course, sometimes old traditional companies need an outsider to come in and really rediscover what they are all about. That’s certainly what David Hartley has done with the Wensleydale Creamery. In this issue he talks about his campaign to give Yorkshire’s most famous cheese, beloved of Wallace and
Gromit, the same protected status that Gorgonzola currenty enjoys, as Wensleydale even makes it onto supermarket shelves in faraway Hawaii. Building a business can also be a hard slog, as Arron Tolley, whose company Aptamer Solutions was a winner at this year’s Venturefest, tells us. He has yet to award himself a salary after four years of proving his own technology. Or you can go on working for many years without realising you have the potential to go out on your own. Simon Richardson of iTogether says it took another entrepreneur he moved next door to and who became a client of his to persuade him that he had it in him to launch his company. This month we also look at construction company Esh as it rebrands and reaffirms its presence in Yorkshire. Esh’s divisional director Chris Walker talks about how seriously the company takes its responsibility to the community, particularly school leavers. And don’t miss our working lunch interview with the coruscating Steve McKevitt. He has two books on the way, and is, as ever, a perceptive commentator on business life today. Finally, we are pleased to announce the launch of our new website, bq-magazine.co.uk, which offers readers a rich archive of content from past issues of BQ as well as new, online-only interviews, analysis and insight from our editorial team. Peter Baber, Editor BQ Yorkshire
THE LIFE AND SOUL OF BUSINESS
CONTACTS room501 ltd Christopher March Managing Director e: firstname.lastname@example.org George Cheung Director e: email@example.com Euan Underwood Director e: firstname.lastname@example.org Bryan Hoare Director e: email@example.com EditorIAL Peter Baber Editor e: firstname.lastname@example.org Andrew Merrin e: email@example.com Alastair Gilmour e: firstname.lastname@example.org Design & production room501 e: email@example.com Photography KG Photography e: firstname.lastname@example.org NR Photography e: email@example.com advertising For advertising call 0191 537 5720
room501 Publishing Ltd, 16 Pickersgill Court, Quay West Business Park, Sunderland SR5 2AQ www.room501.co.uk room501 was formed from a partnership of directors who, combined, have many years of experience in contract publishing, print, marketing, sales and advertising and distribution. We are a passionate, dedicated company that strives to help you to meet your overall business needs and requirements. All contents copyright © 2011 room501 Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, March 2012.
YORKSHIRE EDITION BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd.
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
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. Figures include 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 ÂŁ1,173.00 followed by 35 monthly rentals of ÂŁ391.00, mileage charge in excess of contract mileage 11.57 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.
BMW | MINI Business Partnership YOUR COMPANY BENEFITS.
THE NEW BMW 316d SPORT SALOON £391 PER MONTH (PLUS DEPOSIT)*. • 118g/km CO2 • 13% BIK • 62.8mpg combined • Includes service and maintenance • Includes complimentary reversing assist camera • Includes Xenon headlights
Delivering outstanding efficiency and unrivalled driving dynamics, the new BMW 3 Series Saloon is good news for the person behind the wheel as well as the one balancing the company’s accounts. With class-leading performance and efficiency, newly-refined styling plus a high level of standard specification, this is a car that is sure to make a big impact with small fleets everywhere.
For further information and to find your nearest Business Partnership dealer, visit www.bmwbusinesspartnership.co.uk
CONTE BUSINESS QUARTER: SPRING 12
40 built to last Why construction group Esh has designs on the Yorkshire market
20 Queen vic How the only girl in five generations took control of the family firm
26 Shepherd’s delight Leading the Black Sheep flock into pastures new
36 waiting to launch Meet the tech guru whose prolific past has finally paid off in business
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
66 Cheese spread
26 THE EQUALISER
Wensleydale Creamery’s global expansion continues
72 the equaliser The woman leading the drive for gender balanced boardrooms talks to BQ
76 eureka moment After years of toil two young scientists finally have their reward
TENTS YORKSHIRE EDITION
32 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
The landmark developments creating our industrial landscape
44 BUSINESS LUNCH
The author who’s ruffled more than a few feathers in these parts
50 WINE Cycling fan Stuart Cottee oils his engine with a red and a white
52 MOTORS Does the latest BMW 6-series live up to Chris Manners’ expectations?
8 ON THE RECORD The headline makers this quarter
10 NEWS Who’s doing what, when, where and why, here in Yorkshire
18 AS I SEE IT Alastair Broom on the rise of cyber crime
56 FASHION Josh Sims on the enduring lure of Vivienne Westwood
62 equipment Getting close to the super-wealthy
80 FRANK TOCK Gripping gossip from our backroom boy
50 BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
ON THE RECORD
Reflections on a long awaited project, fans asked to dig deep, all change in Leeds, hub plan carries on regardless, jewellery maker rings the changes and no calm after the storm for CPP >> Bulls turn to supporters for help
>> Bradford finally gets its mirror pool Bradford’s City Park, the regeneration scheme which includes the highly controversial mirror pool, was finally opened at the end of March after many years of being on, then off again. The opening of the 4,000 sq m mirror pool and over 100 fountains was marked by a special concert which included parkour freerunners, theatre groups and the City of Bradford Brass Band. The opening marks the end of a two-year construction project. However, the plan to bring water back to the centre of Bradford was first put forward by the now defunct Bradford Centre Regeneration (BCR), the urban regeneration company for the city led by Maud Marshall. But the plan failed to win much-expected lottery funding, despite being heavily supported by Yorkshire Forward, and was still only a plan on paper when BCR was wound up and Marshall returned to her native Scotland. This month Barra Mac Ruairi, who was Yorkshire Forward’s head of regeneration but is now Bradford Council’s strategic director for regeneration and culture, said: “City Park is a fantastic foundation for the future regeneration of the city of Bradford, a first class urban park which acts as the centre piece of our ambition for the city. “The park has a range of features like the mirror pool, fountains, artworks, interactive laser light projectors, green spaces and places to sit and relax, which offer something for everyone and it is already proving very popular. We are proud to have delivered City Park during a time of unprecedented economic pressures and we now look forward with optimism to how City Park will help Bradford over the long-term.”
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
The Bradford Bulls, one of the most high-profile rugby league teams in the country, has gone to its supporters claiming it has to raise £1m by the middle of April if it is to survive. The club blames the recession, sponsorship falling to an all-time low and the lack of any playoffs in the last three seasons for its unfortunate predicament. It wants each supporter to pledge £100. “Unlike the majority of other Super League Clubs, we have no wealthy benefactor,” a message on the club’s website said. “Every penny of income comes from the hard work of the team at Odsal, and the dedication and unrelenting support of people like you.” The club added that a recent deal on the stadium “only enabled us to address our long term liabilities but could not help us stave off the grave financial situation we find ourselves in”. David Wilson, senior partner for Begbies Traynor in Yorkshire and the North East, said the Bulls’ situation “reflects the more pronounced trend we’ve already seen among football clubs”, although he thought the club could have sought professional advice earlier. “The pressures of rising player wages, growing overheads and dwindling income as crowd levels fall together with sponsorship income also suffering, mean that all types of sports clubs are struggling to make ends meet,” he said. “In the case of rugby league, clubs are just entering the new season after a winter with little income so will, of course, will be more vulnerable to cash flow issues.”
The board recognises the importance of putting Leeds on the map
>> Marketing Leeds gets new board members Marketing Leeds has appointed nine new non-executive board members in what the organisation says is a move to provide “strategic leadership” as it moves forward with a “broader role to attract inward investment and tourism.” The nine incoming board members include Wayne Bowser from HSBC, Alastair da Costa from DLA Piper, and Sarah Dunwell from Leeds-based social enterprise Create, as well as Professors John Fisher and Susan Price from the two universities in the city, Nigel Foster from professional services firm Arup, Leeds City Council assistant chief executive James Rogers, and Councillors Andrew Carter and Richard Lewis. The new appointments will work alongside the existing board which includes chairman Andy Clarke, the chief executive of Asda, and Roger Marsh from PwC. The appointments come just a month before Lurene Joseph arrives from the London Development Agency to take up her position as the new Marketing Leeds chief executive. Clarke said:“Today’s appointments signify a real step change for Marketing Leeds. “The board recognises the importance of putting Leeds on the map and they will play a pivotal role in guiding the strategy of the broader Marketing Leeds as it expands with a wider, integrated remit to attract jobs, investment and visitors to the city.”
>> Lep to press ahead with hub plan The York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Enterprise Partnership says it is determined to press on with its plan to develop a network of enterprise hubs where business network and professional advisers could meet despite the fact that the plan has not won any backing from central Government. The LEP had submitted a £32.5m bid to Defra’s Rural Growth Network to use under-utilised buildings in rural areas as a base for these hubs, but failed to win over the department.
ON THE RECORD
However, it now says it has generated enough interest in the idea to press ahead without public funding. LEP chairman Barry Dodd, who insisted that it had not developed the idea “to chase funding”, said: “We already have a number of businesses interested in establishing enterprise hubs without public sector funding, as they recognise the benefits this will provide them and their local business community. Although the funding would have been a big help, there are plenty of opportunities remaining to develop our approach.”
the company had still managed to pull off a “robust” performance in a difficult year. He said the top priority now was to ensure that the agreement the company has now reached with the FSA will be effected, in order to “shift our culture and operating model to one of growth through customer-centricity, supported by strengthened management discipline and enhanced governance.” Shares in CPP, which only floated in 2010, were temporarily suspended while discussion with the FSA went on, but normal trading has now resumed.
>> Abbeycrest in prepack deal
>> Glimmer of hope for the region
Formerly Leeds-based jewellery manufacturer Abbeycrest looks to have been saved by a pre-pack deal after it went into administration shortly after moving its head office to Hertfordshire. The listed company, which has been refinanced several times in the past few years, could not prevent going into administration despite closing its Leeds office and trying to sell off its Thailand division. But its subsidiary Brown & Newirth has been rescued in a management buyout.
Confidence among businesses in the region may be turning around after plunging at the end of last year, the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) survey suggests. According to the survey, the confidence index in the region scored -0.9 for the first quarter of 2012. Although that is well below the record high of 24.9 recorded in the second quarter of last year, it is above the -3.4 recorded in the third quarter. However ICAEW regional director Chris Manners urged caution. “There is no doubt that times are still difficult,” he said. “Firms are reporting that both turnover and sales are only up by 1.3 per cent over the last year - a lower annual growth rate than recorded throughout 2011, and the picture for gross profits is weaker still. The word on the street seems to be that there have been more retail failures during the first few weeks of 2012 than in 2010 or 2011, and that is without the public sector job losses which have not really started working their way through yet.”
>> Cpp sees profits fall International assistance provider CPP Group has announced a 29 per cent fall in full-year profits just weeks after reaching an agreement with the Financial Services Authority about how to address failings in some of its sales processes. The company, which is also York’s largest private sector employer, saw pre-tax profits for 2011 fall to £28.3m, compared with £39.8m in 2010. Turnover was up by 6 per cent to £346.1m. The full year reports also reveal that costs associated with the ongoing FSA investigation have so far reached £16.9m – actually higher than the £10m to £15m forecast it made in February. However chief executive Paul Stobart, who only joined the business in October, said
There are plenty of opportunities remaining to develop our approach BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Sub standard deal signed, long-sighted optician expands, coalfield investor mines new vein, tanks a lot says manufacturer, new duke of York tourism group and ice cream firm gets double helping >> Numiko takes on good causes Leeds-based digital marketing agency, Numiko has won two new projects with the National Lottery Promotions Unit (NLPU) and Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The company has been commissioned to redesign the National Lottery Promotions Unit’s website to bring together various functions including the existing National Lottery Good Causes directory, which is currently the subject of a nationwide television and press advertising campaign. The new site will help users to find out more about how Lottery funding works, where it goes, who has benefited from it and how to apply. People will also be able to search and browse their local area. With the other contract win, Numiko is to develop a strategy aimed at helping young people improve their knowledge and understanding of mental health problems, make sense of their own feelings and experiences, and reach out to others by starting conversations about a topic that is still often misunderstood. Numiko managing director Emma Harvey said: “It’s always exciting to be working with new clients, but especially so when we can work on projects that really make a difference like Time to Change; and those where we get to communicate the good work carried out by organisations like NLPU.”
>> Ellis cables to go in sub Emperor cable cleats from North Yorkshire-based Ellis will be installed in the first five of the Ministry of Defence’s new generation of Astute-class nuclear powered submarines after BAE Systems confirmed a repeat specification for the fifth boat in the fleet.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
The manufacturer received its first order from BAE Systems Maritime Submarines back in 2003, with the BAE site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria taking delivery of the latest order just last month. Paul Nolan, UK sales manager for Ellis, said: “Repeat orders are the kind of business sales people, no matter what sector they work in, dream of. “But to receive five significant repeat orders over such a long period, with the potential of two more to follow, is virtually unheard of.” The Astute-class is the latest class of nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarines. Seven boats in total are to be constructed, the first of which, Astute, was launched in 2007 and commissioned in 2010. The second, Ambush, was launched in January 2011 and successfully completed its initial dive test in September.
Sunny outlook: Christian Cain
>> Inline moves Leeds-based Inline Health and Beauty has invested over £75,000 in a relocation across the city so that it can double its available manufacturing space and bring in four new members of staff as it aims for a £5m annual sales target by 2015. Founder and managing director Christian Cain plans a further nine new recruits as he claims sales, which reached £2.5m last year, are currently rising by 20 per cent, with particularly strong interest being generated in
the company’s Aloha sun care range. The move has been supported by a £10,000 grant from Leeds City Council’s business growth fund, which was set up to support SMEs investing in growth and creating new job opportunities. The company, which was previously based in Holbeck, had been on the hunt for new premises for two years before it moved into a 26,000 sq ft unit on the Felnex Trading Estate in Cross Green, bought from former owner Apollo Lighting. Cain said: “Aloha is now on course to be a £1.5m brand, swiftly followed by our Tropical Sun For Kids range that is attracting substantial six-figure orders from discount chains. Sales of our umbrella brand Anovia Bodycare lines are also accelerating and we have recently diversified into pet and equine products.” Phil Cole, head of Leeds City Council’s business and enterprise service said grants of up to £10,000 are still available to support investment by fast growing businesses which he believes “have a vital role to play in creating employment and generating prosperity.” The firm’s recent manufacturing investments have included £200,000 on a modular filling system with a 50,000 daily unit capacity and £30,000 on “just-in-time” production facilities.
>> Alstoe takes ownership of pets drug Alstoe, the York-based supplier of animal healthcare products, has acquired the worldwide rights, trade mark and intellectual property of Vetergesic from Reckitt Benckiser for an undisclosed sum. The company has been running the marketing of Vetergesic, which is an injectable analgesic used in operations on pets, in the UK and some other countries since 2001 under a licensing agreement. It now intends to try to expand Vetergesic’s
products which are used on small companion animals and horses. Alstoe director John Nellis said: “This purchase from Reckitt puts us in another league. “Vetergesic is a significant addition to our product range, complementing the international brands within the Alstoe portfolio.” Alstoe was advised by Clarion’s corporate team in Leeds led by corporate partner, Christian Hunt. He said: “This strategic deal cements Alstoe’s reputation as one of the leading firms in the industry.”
>> Dibbs in for small business A former director of Barclays and Bank of Scotland has set up a new consultancy in York offering advice to small businesses, particularly in their dealings with getting finance from banks.
Phil Dibbs, founder of Hawkmoor Associates, says he has seen many examples of small businesses who find speaking to their banks an intimidating experience, even though they are often in desperate need of flexible funding and support. He said: “My view is that there is a real need for a mediation service – a bridge between the demand and the supply sides of the SME and their sources of finance. Many banks, hit by the credit crunch, have become very risk averse and, sadly, too many high street managers do not truly understand the needs of individual companies and industries. “Add to that the directives being issued from head offices far removed from the UK, and the SME is left with little or no choice.” Dibbs has 25 years’ business experience not just in banking but in industry as well. He formerly served as project manager at Westland Helicopters.
>> Jct600 promotes former bmw man Motor group JCT600 has appointed Richard Hargraves to be operations director based at its Bradford head office. Hargraves has 27 years’ experience in the motor industry and first joined JCT600 in 1994 as a used car buyer, rising to become BMW general manager in 1991 at the age of 29, when at the time he was one of the youngest such managers in the entire BMW network. He moved to a BMW/Mini dealership in 2001 before coming back to JCT600 five years later as Porsche brand director, responsible for the company’s three Porsche centres in Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. He also took responsibility for JCT600’s Bentley dealerships in Leeds >>
NEW three-day, residential courses Rapid upskilling for leaders and entrepreneurs. Immediate real-world application. • Change management • Crisis management • Delivering service excellence
• Globalising strategic management • Scenario thinking • Strategic marketing
Now also available: Manufacturing Leadership Programme for SMEs in the North East, with short workshop sessions by leading experts in the field. Access world-class management thinking without compromising your schedule. A progressive mix of academic rigour and a practical approach.
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
and Newcastle and its BMW/MINI dealership in Bradford. In his new role, he will be responsible for the company’s Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Bentley and Lotus dealerships which represent around 50 per cent of the group. He will work alongside JCT600’s existing operations director Phil Southern who will be responsible for the remaining dealerships and brands. JCT600 chief executive John Tordoff said: “Richard has been a real asset to the JCT600 team throughout his career - he is a great example of how someone can rise through the ranks through hard work, commitment and flair.”
>> Bayfields makes it number four Leeds-based Bayfields Opticians has made its fourth acquisition by taking over S Yager Opticians in Pontefract for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is part of the company’s ongoing plan to have 50 outlets within the next 10 years. Managing director Royston Bayfield, who recently won the ActionCOACH UK Business Award for entrepreneur of the year, said: “This latest acquisition widens our geographical reach in the region. “Currently we have outlets in Headingley, Yeadon and within the University of Leeds and are already looking at a number of other opportunities.” The company was founded in 2004 and currently employs 27 people. Marcus Armstrong of law firm Shulmans, who acted on the deal, said: “Bayfields’ success demonstrates that business growth is possible with the right mix of high quality products and a keen eye on customer service.”
>> Rostra uk left on its own two feet A fund which provides investment for companies in former coalfield areas has exited one of its first investments. Barnsley-based Rostra UK, which employs 11 people and specialises in the treatment of varicose veins, was founded by former nurses Ian Brown and Melanie Moore in 2005 with investment from the Coalfields Fund.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
New horizons: the RAW team
>> A raw move PR, marketing and design agency Raw Creative has moved to a new more central location in Harrogate and created a new brand identity. The agency, which focuses in particular on the retail, fashion and beauty sectors, and includes Jones Lang LaSalle and Hunters Estate Agents among its clients, is seven years old, and currently employs 12 people. It has moved from John Street to Albert Street next to Dacre, Son & Hartley. Managing director Kirstyn Pollard said: “The move seemed like the perfect time to launch our new brand. With several new additions to the office, the Raw team is passionate about the company, what we do and what we stand for. I have no doubt that, with the help of our new brand, new team members and new creative environment, 2012 will be our best year yet.”
The fund, which offers sums of between £40,000 to £1m to SMEs to support start-ups, provide growth capital, or back acquitisions, has now exited the business, giving full control to the management team. Rostra works in partnership with hospitals and primary care trusts to help them manage their waiting lists and can offer same-day appointments and diagnosis as well as treatment, where appropriate. Over 70 per cent of patients are currently discharged within four weeks of receiving their GP referral letter. The company also runs Laserveins, an online service which matches patients seeking private
treatment with surgeons within their area. The Coalfields Fund, which is managed by EV, and has made 28 investments since it was founded in 2004, has continued to work in partnership with Rostra UK since its initial round of investment. Wayne Thomas, investment director with EV, said: “We are delighted that backing from the fund has helped Ian and Melanie to put their business idea into practice and create new jobs in this former coalfields area. “Rostra UK provides an efficient and valuable service to the NHS and is also taking up opportunities within the private health sector as part of its ongoing growth plan.”
Dickinson Dees law firm has embarked on a period of expansion as it opens the doors of its new 17,000 sq ft Yorkshire office in Leeds.
LEEDS MOVE HERALDS EXPANSION FOR DICKINSON DEES
HE firm, which is moving into No 1 Whitehall Riverside over Easter, is currently announcing a string of senior appointments across all departments, which will strengthen the talented 50-strong team it is bringing from York. John Marshall, the senior partner at Dickinson Dees, whose other offices are in the North East, and London, said: “By moving to one of the top five commercial and financial cities in the country we are positioning ourselves for further expansion of our business. “If we are to meet our ambitious plans to grow our business, it is important for us to seize the opportunities presented in Leeds and across the region. Our move gives us the opportunity to grow by providing the very best service for our clients.” Dickinson Dees is one of the UK’s leading fullservice law firms. The firm provides legal services to corporate, commercial, public sector and private clients across the UK. Clients include Carillion Energy Services, Partnerships for Schools, Bellway, Formica Group, Grainger plc and Melrose plc. He explained: “To continue to provide the best possible service we must have the best lawyers. Our current recruitment drive has resulted in significant interest and we are now making a number of key appointments, with more to follow. We have the capacity to double our 50-strong staff in Leeds, which demonstrates our investment in the Yorkshire market.” Dickinson Dees first moved into Yorkshire in 2007 with the takeover of boutique law firm Philip Ashworth & Co in York. The Yorkshire practice developed swiftly during the next four years, with turnover increasing from £1 million to £4.5 million and staff increasing from 10 to 50. There were a number of significant clients wins during the firm’s time in York, including the
AS WE SETTLE INTO OUR NEW OFFICES OVER FORTHCOMING WEEKS, WE EXPECT TO MAKE FURTHER APPOINTMENTS TO THE FIRM University of York, Leeds City College, Yorkshire Bank and the York Diocesan Board of Education. These wins showcased the firm’s talent and expertise across the legal spectrum, including litigation, private client, corporate, commercial and property for both the public and private sectors. The move into Leeds has already attracted a number of top lawyers to Dickinson Dees, including
Mark Owen, formerly head of Pinsent Masons in Leeds; Nick Mason, who has joined as a partner in the commercial disputes group from the National Trust; and David Cunningham who has joined the commercial team as a director from Eversheds. John Marshall commented: “We are extremely pleased to welcome lawyers of Mark, Nick and David’s experience and expertise to Dickinson Dees. They are all highly regarded in their specific fields and they will be invaluable additions to the firm as we continue our expansion in Yorkshire and, indeed, in London”. Mr Marshall explained: “The quality of these appointments clearly demonstrates our commitment to creating a first-class team in. As we settle into our new offices over forthcoming weeks, we expect to make further appointments of lawyers of similar experience and stature.” He added: “We do not consider Dickinson Dees to be just a regional firm. Many of our practice areas are ranked highly on a national scale and we are currently increasing our presence in London as well as Leeds. Moving to Leeds will give us the tremendous opportunity of competing with the leading national law firms based in the city, with all of us striving to do our very best.”
For more information about Dickinson Dees and the services that it can offer, visit the firm’s website at www.dickinson-dees.com. You can also follow developments at the firm on Twitter @dickinsondees
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
>> Tasca takes over Sussex firm Wakefield-based tanker manufacturer Tasca Tankers has acquired the business and assets of Maidment Tankers in West Sussex out of administration. The company, which employs 100 people at the Diamond Business Park, says it will continue to use Maidment’s base in Littlehampton to provide a sales, service, commercial painting and repair facility. It now also plans to boost the Wakefield workforce by around 20 new recruits this year, in addition to its annual commitment to taking on three new apprentices from Wakefield College. Tasca Tankers makes tankers to transport liquids including fuel, oil and water for a wide-range of industries. The company’s turnover has increased from £4.6m in 2009 to an estimated £7m in 2011 and staff levels have risen by 50 per cent to 60 during the same period. Its export drive has resulted in orders from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Tasca’s Shaun Harte said: “With a steadfast reputation for quality and service in the South of England, which mirrored Tasca’s reputation in the North, it was a natural move for Tasca to acquire Maidment from the administrator.” Neil Large, partner at HLW Keeble Hawson Solicitors and Lyndsey Shaw of Sterling Corporate Finance acted for Tasca Tankers. Large said: “The company’s growth and innovation during the challenging backdrop of the last years, coupled with the Maidment development, leverages its position as a leading player in its field which is proud of its Yorkshire roots.”
>> Big hitter joins Visit York Nick Cust, a veteran of the travel industry who is currently chairman of York-based Amber Travel Partnership, has been named as the new chairman of Visit York, the city’s tourism promotion body. Cust, who has also held board positions with Superbreak and Holidaybreak and has been on the board of Visit England since 2002, will be
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
responsible for developing the strategic direction and driving the growth of the tourism industry in a city which already gets over 7 million visitors and brings in around £443m a year. His appointment follows the retirement of John Yeomans who has held the position of chairman for four years. ”My ambition for York is to build on the world class reputation of the city, ensuring we deliver the highest levels of customer care and all importantly a quality visitor experience, whilst taking York to new markets across the globe,” said Cust. Visit York chief executive Gillian Cruddas said Cust’s appointment was particularly important as the city prepares to celebrate York 800, the 800th anniversary of York becoming a self-governing city. “Nick’s experience in financial management, marketing, communications and strategic business planning will be key assets,” she said.
volumes of late paying debtors. Kapp has 13 years’ experience in credit management, eight of which were spent working for KPMG’s receivables realisation division and three running her own successful Yorkshire-based credit management business. She said: “With my extensive background in credit management I can help Winterhill Largo offer the very best range of credit control services to our clients.” She said the company was also seeing increasing demand for credit control from insolvency practitioner clients. “Often when a company seems destined for insolvency, we can save the day and bring a business back from the brink of disaster with some careful attention to its credit control procedures and systems,” she said. Winterhill Largo chief executive Neil Duckworth said he now expected to be expanding the credit control team even further. The company already employs over 60 people. “Marisa’s wealth of experience in credit management makes her an invaluable addition to our team at a time when our credit control and debt recovery services are in greater demand than ever before,” he said.
>> Marketing boss moves to top of Animalcare
Staying in control: Marisa Kapp
>> Kapp takes top spot in Winterhill team Marisa Kapp has joined asset recovery and insolvency support group Winterhill Largo to head its strong credit control team, which is headquartered in Wakefield. The company says it is seeing a surge in demand for credit control services, which include on site training as well as outsourcing, as increasing numbers of companies struggle to cope with growing
Veterinary medicine and product supplier Animalcare has promoted Dr Iain Menneer to be managing director. His appointment will enable other senior managers at the listed company to focus their attention on growing sales of existing products in export markets as well as speeding up the group’s pharmaceutical new product development programme. Menneer, who joined Animalcare in 2003, has been head of marketing since July 2009 and was promoted to the board as director of marketing last year. Previously he has worked in the research and innovation office at the University of York to commercialise research via licensing or spin-out companies. Having graduated with a degree and PhD >>
FOOD COMPANY ACHIEVES CARBON TRUST AWARD AFTER EXPERTISE FROM TEESSIDE UNIVERSITY
AIN DANIELS GROUP has achieved A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was set up the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard with the University to help the company develop across all of its companies thanks and implement a carbon management system with to a business partnership with the intention of reducing their carbon footprint. Teesside University. KTPs see talented graduates working in International Cuisine, a subsidiary company of partnership with local businesses to help improve Hain Daniels Group, was the first food company to competitiveness and productivity through achieve the Carbon Standard back in 2008 with the the better use of knowledge, technology and help of Teesside University. skills. Businesses get the benefit of an outside After this success, Hain Daniels decided to perspective as well as the support of experts from continue the partnership with Teesside to achieve the University in their particular field. the Standard across the entire organisation to With seven sites spread across the country with improve its carbon and energy efficiency. It is different product lines, achieving the Carbon currently one of only eight other food production Standard TU-AD166 BQ 175 x 120_Layout 1 16/03/2012 Trust 08:36 Pagewas 1 a major undertaking. Hain companies to have achieved the Standard. Daniels Group sought out solutions to their
problems, in partnership with Teesside University, and implemented a series of new energy saving measures. In doing so, they gained a better understanding of their energy usage, which continues to help them make energy savings throughout the year. Technical Director of Hain Daniels Group, Alison Robertson, based in Leeds, is delighted with the progress they have made and the recognition received: “Thanks to the business partnership, we have not only gained Carbon Trust Standard but retained the appointed graduate, Kate Tavernor, as our Group Environmental Manager which was our main objective in moving forward with our carbon agenda.”
The University for BUSINESS
A spark of “ inspiration in Yorkshire
I DECIDED TO DO MY MBA AT STRATHCLYDE AS THE BUSINESS SCHOOL WAS NUMBER ONE IN SCOTLAND AND ONE OF THE TOP SCHOOLS IN THE UK.”
ALKIRWI , SSE PLC, PART -TIME MBA 2009-11 Find out how your company MAZ could benefit from a business partnership
Your business – however large or small – could benefit from a spark of inspiration from Teesside University. Whether your firm is wellestablished, a recent start-up, or a dream you want to turn into reality, we can help you to prosper and grow. We can support and inspire you with training and development, consultancy, recruiting talent, knowledge transfer and starting your own business.
Be inspired – contact us now. T: 01642 384068 E: firstname.lastname@example.org tees.ac.uk/spark
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
in chemistry from the University of Newcastle, he then spent six years working in the brewing industry; initially in a research role at an independent brewing consultancy and then in new product and technical development Animalcare Group chief executive Stephen Wildridge said: “This important step recognises the ability and success Iain has already demonstrated in growing the UK business. At the same time, it also frees up valuable senior management time and resources to focus on key opportunities outside the UK both at product level and for the business as a whole.”
couldn’t get the same benefits as the bigger firms with thousands of desks. It’s also reassuring for smaller organisations to have people they know managing their data in servers here in the UK, so that everything is more accountable.”
>> New jobs to follow new head office at Harratts Family owned motor group Harratts is looking to create new jobs after opening its new head office in Wakefield – the biggest construction project in its 45-year history. The new building on Denby Dale Road is next to a new two-storey, purpose-built Honda dealership of 12,000 sq ft which will open in the coming weeks, creating around 25 jobs. Managing director Shaun Harratt said: “The opening of our new headquarters marks the start of an exciting chapter in the history of Harratts. We now have a fantastic facility that will enable us to continue our expansion across the region, whilst offering staff a wonderful working environment with state-of-the-art facilities.”
Head in the clouds: Jonathan Edwards
>> Yorkshire firms get served a new solution A Yorkshire IT company has launched its own regional cloud computing server for small businesses in the region after it claims it became frustrated at trying to source such a service for its own clients. Harrogate-based Integral IT has worked with local data storage specialists to launch www.yorkshirecloud.co.uk. The company says the new service ensures customers know who is holding their data, and provides transparent fixed costs for smaller businesses who find themselves below the entry level of the services currently offered by the larger cloud computing service providers. Managing director Jonathan Edwards said: “The cloud is a great concept that is transforming the way large corporates manage hosting and data, but we found smaller and medium sized customers
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
>> Yummy gets bigger A grant from the Rural Development Fund for England has helped Huddersfield ice cream producer Yummy Yorkshire double the size of its ice cream parlour, buy new freezing equipment and take on two extra members of staff. The £55,000-plus investment is also intended to help the company, which we featured in BQ last year, expand its retail and wholesale business. It plans to increase production levels by over 60 per cent over the next three years. The investment has seen an extra 20 table settings created, bringing the total to 40, as well as a takeaway hatch. Customers will also be able to purchase a selection of locally made products in the
shop including chilli jam, Yorkshire honey, homemade marmalade and preserves, dry cured bacon, salami and chorizo plus a range of cheeses, milk and cream. Yummy Yorkshire co-founder Louise Holmes said: “It’s fantastic that we now have the space to accommodate our visitors comfortably as well as the ability to showcase our products and those of the suppliers we work with.”
>> York company wins through on cancer funding York-based Neotherix is among a consortium of companies that has won funding to develop a novel regenerative medical product aimed at helping wounds such as those suffered by cancer patients. Its EktoTherixTM product is a biodegradable ”tissue scaffold” material that can assist in tissue regeneration, thus avoiding the need for skin grafts or extended healing with regular dressing changes. The consortium, which also includes Smith & Nephew and East Midlands-based Lorien Engineering Solutions, has secured 50 per cent of the £414,000 funding needed to take the therapy in to final development trials. The funding has come from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which has already supported the project twice before. Neotherix chief execuctive Mike Raxworthy said the funding would “move the development of the product towards full commercialisation.” He claimed the global market for such a product could be as high as US$350m per annum.
>> Correction In the wine review of our last issue we referred to Linda Pollard as the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. She is in fact Deputy Lord Lieutenant. We apologise for the error.
Read the latest news and views from the Yorkshire business community every day by visiting our new website: www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
If you need encouragement about the prospects for Yorkshire’s economy, you could do a lot worse than spending some time with the region’s entrepreneurs says Deloitte’s Tax Partner Stephen Hall.
ENTREPRENEURS GIVE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
HE latest Deloitte Yorkshire Entrepreneurial Business dinner brought together many of the region’s leading lights and while market conditions continue to remain extremely uncertain, entrepreneurs are by their nature optimistic. Anyone who chooses to set up or run their own business requires a great deal of self-belief combined with talent and a healthy appetite for risk. No one can be 100 per cent sure that their investment will succeed but without a group of bold individuals willing to take a risk, we won’t see the creation of new jobs and wealth that is needed to kick start the economy. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to ensure they mix this optimism with enough realism to weather the economic headwinds. One of the key areas entrepreneurs can look at with a view to strengthening their business is how they can use allowances in the tax regime. From the 1 April 2012 the main rate of corporation tax will be reduced to 25 per cent following the announcement of this change in the 2011 Finance Bill. And there are a number of measures included in this year’s Finance Bill published on 29th March that will help businesses. The 2012 Finance Bill includes plans for the introduction of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) from April 6th 2012 that will be of particular interest to smaller businesses seeking investment. SEIS will provide income tax relief of 50% of the investment to individuals investing up to £100,000 in qualifying companies and is expected to prove
ANYONE WHO CHOOSES TO SET UP OR RUN THEIR OWN BUSINESS REQUIRES A GREAT DEAL OF SELF-BELIEF COMBINED WITH TALENT AND A HEALTHY APPETITE FOR RISK attractive to business angels. In the first year, there will also be capital gains tax relief to kickstart the scheme, allowing individuals with gains, to exempt those gains from tax by reinvesting in a qualifying company. This could potentially offer tax relief up to 78%. Taken together with the decision to raise the company limit on the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) from £2m to £10m entrepreneurs could find it easier to win backing for their
ideas, particularly for novel businesses or those with an interesting idea that will catch the eye of investors. Even when profits are down businesses can still benefit from the allowances provided by HM Revenue and Customs, for example if you anticipate a drop in income it could be worth reviewing your payments on account to make sure they aren’t being paid on the basis of a much higher income than is currently being received. Although care should be taken with this, as an incorrect estimate could lead to interest charges against the incorrectly reduced element of your payments on account. Another area that is worth sole traders and partnerships reviewing is whether it makes sense to adjusting your accounting date to ensure it is the most tax and cash flow efficient for your business. For seasonal businesses such as tourism or parts of the food and drink industry, moving your accounting period so it comes in the off-season or at a time when the funds aren’t needed elsewhere can ease pressures on cash flow. Ensuring they are tax efficient is just one of the many ways entrepreneurs can give themselves the best possible chance of succeeding and lay the groundwork for future success.
Stephen Hall Tax Partner at Deloitte Yorkshire 0113 243 9021
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
INTERVIEW AS I SEE IT
SPRING SPRING12 12
Cyber crime: it matters to you BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
SPRING SPRING12 12
INTERVIEW AS I SEE IT
Increasing use of new services like cloud computing makes cyber crime even more of an issue you have to face, says Alastair Broom Regardless of size, no organisation is immune to cyber crime, data loss or fraud. As high profile incidents featured across the media have highlighted, the affect on reputations, brands and the expense of fines from regulators can be significant. No organisation is immune and it is also impossible to be 100 per cent secure, as much as we strive to be. Over the past year, we have seen a number of public sector firms fined by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for data losses, and while the fines create enough bad press, the mud sticks and those firms are now facing life as a bad statistic. There could be more of a burden to bear in the future too. Recent changes proposed by the European Commission to its Data Protection Directive mean that victims of data breaches would have to be informed within 24 hours, although it is not yet clear what would constitute a breach and whether the scale of the data leak or the nature of the information compromised determines its importance. Under the proposed changes, authorities would have powers to fine organisations up to £1m for failure to comply with the legislation. Although small to medium enterprises will be exempt from employing an internal data protection officer, SMEs should still consider appointing a suitably skilled person to take on this role. Having a specific person to manage data protection is basic good practice and will help ready the company for any tightening up of legislation. The Government claimed that cyber crime was costing the UK economy an estimated £27bn annually, and one of the main reasons for that is how easy it is. Online attacks are very different from those in the physical world where the attacker needs to be where you are, needs to penetrate your locked doors and burglar alarm and know where to look. With cyber crime, your attacker can hit you from anywhere in the world. The risk versus reward ratio is so much more attractive for the criminal.
Security these days is mostly about people: they are your weakest link and most likely to cause damage via an avoidable mistake. There are some basic steps you can take to ensure that your employees value the company’s security and play a role in ensuring it is protected. These include making sure that: • Employees do not visit suspicious or inappropriate websites or open any suspicious emails • Employees understand their obligations around data protection; and • There are policies in place for mobile working and that these are supported by the appropriate technology solutions. At a time when cyber crime seems to be escalating and becoming more organised, our data is becoming more mobile through the
Keeping secure Here are some ways to ensure you are better protected: Review and tune your IT policy so that it is current and staff understand their responsibilities. Never compromise security as you look to work more using mobile and cloud computing. Where you don’t have the requisite skills, ensure you partner with a security provider who does. Ensure your IT infrastructure is fully secure with patches and security updates installed. Also, make sure your existing security policies map into your cloud and mobile environments. Consider investing in a technology that controls social networking rather than blocking it. Restrictive policies will lead to frustrated staff and frustrated staff will always find a way to circumvent the barriers preventing them from working in a way that suits them.
consumerisation of IT and cloud initiatives. As tablet and smartphone devices have become more popular in our homes, they have begun to enter the work place too. This is proving to be a real challenge for IT departments as the network is accessed from unknown, potentially vulnerable devices which may be downloading sensitive corporate data. While many chief executives may see mobile working as positive, if it creates an increased risk of data loss it will need a robust security policy underpinning it. Banning consumer devices and social networks from the workplace would simply create a frustrated workforce who could, in any case, circumvent security policy, perpetuating the problem. Businesses need to design and implement their own individual strategy for mobile device use that works for them and their employees. Creating clear policies and processes will make for happy, productive staff while minimising the security risks. An organisation is most effective when it deploys a robust strategy and uses process and technology to enforce the strategy. Worries about security, however, shouldn’t put you off using cloud or third party network services, as long as you have a robust system in place. Many SMEs are discovering the potential of the cloud as a means to reduce infrastructure costs and improve business agility. This may appear to increase risk further, but a properly managed cloud provider’s data centre is arguably more secure than what you could offer. In short, you need to make sure you thoroughly review your security policies and ensure that you have made a risk assessment of your infrastructure and data assets. Ensure your policies are supported by robust processes and people who are appropriately skilled and motivated. Use technology where appropriate to enforce policy, but the goal should be to make security seamless for the end user. n Alastair Broom is solutions director for IT security company Integralis
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Not quite running the family
The only girl in five generations in her family, Victoria Hopkins swapped scuba diving in the Caribbean to lead the family firm in Pudsey. She tells Peter Baber why
I am on a street in Pudsey – not perhaps the most dazzling of Leeds suburbs. And not even in the centre of Pudsey, in fact, but on a street leading out from the centre that is lined with the usual kind of metal bashing and engineering firms that most northern towns seem to spawn. It’s not a particularly appealing road either. Halfway along it, the council has put up a barrier apparently, it turns out, to stop joy riders who had previously taken advantage of this long uninterrupted stretch of road to roar out into the countryside beyond. So who would have guessed that just here, in amongst this very masculine environment, is a catering equipment manufacturer called Hopkins
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
My granddad was very much into the idea of women staying at home. He told me as a small girl that he didn’t want me anywhere near the business
which, despite being owned by a family which has seen five generations of nothing but boys, is now effectively run by the one girl they have had in all that time? That’s right – a woman running an engineering firm. She
unfortunately remains a real rarity – the kind of person that girls’ empowerment programmes should perhaps come running to. (And, as we shall find out later, they have.) I say “effectively” because Victoria Hopkins, >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
ENTREPENEUR the lady in question, isn’t actually the overall head of the company – her father Chris still is, although she is clearly the point of contact for all aspects of running the business right now. “I haven’t got full control,” she says. “My dad and I are very much key. I am officially deputy managing director. But I am not really into titles. I come in and I do my job.” Nevertheless she has a fair idea of what her grandfather Vince, who founded the company more than 50 years ago, would have thought of such a situation. “My granddad was very much a chauvinist,” she says, “very much into the idea of women staying at home. I remember as a small girl him sitting me on his knee and saying: ‘I don’t ever want you near the business. If you want to run a business, I will open you a teashop.’ “If he knew what was happening now he would be turning in his grave.” Such instruction must initially have taken its toll, because when she was growing up Victoria wanted to be a barrister. She did try engineering at university when she didn’t get the grades for her chosen profession and went through clearing, but she only stuck it for one term. “I just decided that engineering wasn’t for me at the time,” she says. Instead, like all young adults, she felt she wanted to travel and see the world and in particular continue with a sport she had been crazy about since being a young teenager – scuba diving. For two years she went off to be a scuba diving instructor in the Caribbean. “I was living a very glamorous life,” she admits. “I had done a couple of seasons of it, and got a bit bored, so I had planned to go out to the Philippines instead. I came back to the UK to get my visa. Someone in the sales office had left. So dad said: “I am not having you sitting at home, come and answer the phone for two weeks. That has been the longest two weeks of my life.” She giggles when she considers that, in a choice between the Caribbean, the Philippines and Pudsey, she chose Pudsey. “There are moments when I think: ‘What was I thinking?’ she says, “although not so much now I am a mother. There was a guy involved in this. The Philippines went out the window, but I was originally going to emigrate to Australia with my then partner who was studying to be a
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
As a family member you have to work twice as hard for half as much. You have to earn respect, which I think I’ve done now and get on well with the staff nurse. I wanted to get there on my own visa, so I needed a degree and thought I would do a part-time business course at Leeds Met. Yet the more I got into it, the more I came back and started integrating things I had learned into the business, the more I enjoyed seeing the results of what I was doing. “To cut a long story short, my partner went off to Australia, he is living the dream there, and I stayed in Pudsey.” It could be said that Victoria had the advantage when it came to joining her company of being the oldest in her generation. All her brothers and male cousins – only two of whom have followed into the business, with only her brother staying for any length of time – are younger than her. Nevertheless this is a company that has thrived on innovation from the start, so perhaps the innovation of having a woman at the head was no big deal. “My grandfather started the business and he was an inventor,” she says. “He had an electrical shop, and one day someone brought in an onion peeler, which he thought he could improve on, so he started fixing people’s catering equipment. The machine he created then is similar to a machine that we make now that does potatoes.” Hopkins Catering, as it was then called, quickly established fish and chip shops as its significant client base. Today it supplies a full range of catering equipment, offers a design service, and can manufacture bespoke orders too. Victoria says there is no other company like it in the country – which is one of the reasons why it is hard to talk about the firm’s market share. “There is no other company in the UK that does exactly what we do,” she says. “There are probably around five companies who manufacture fish and chip ranges. Two of
them are Dutch. We certainly have competitors in our online department, and then you’ve got other designers, you’ve got service companies and people who build fish and chip ranges. But no other one company has the broad spectrum of what we do.” But in fact, Hopkins has never been entirely focused on the fish and chip business either. It also supplies to school, hotels, and nursing homes. And in the 1970s, when the recession and cod war with Iceland caused something of a hiatus in the number of people wanting new fish and chip shop equipment, Vince Hopkins soon found new markets to focus on and products to produce. “He was living next to a canal at the time, so he started making narrow boats in the yard,” says Victoria. “The skills were there, and it was important to sustain the workforce through difficult periods.” More recently, when Chris Hopkins bought a house belonging to a man who had previously made refrigerators for undertakers (a niche market if ever there was one), and continued getting calls after the man had emigrated to Australia, the company soon decided there was business to be had in making smaller cooling units for smaller undertakers who only needed a cooling unit to sit on top of the coffin. This led to enquiries from most unusual sources. As a small girl, Victoria remembers being taken down to London by her father, who had been contacted by archaeologists who urgently needed some cooling device to preserve a prehistoric man they had excavated from a peat bog. More recently, the company has been producing armour for a man who hires it out to theatrical groups. Victoria shows me a stage dagger. As it doesn’t retract, it looks surprisingly like the real thing. So does she think innovation has been >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
ENTREPENEUR the key to the company’s survival? “That is absolutely how we survived,” she says, “by looking at other areas we can venture into without moving away from the main focus. It is imperative that the company has that flexibility.” It is one of the reasons why the decision was made to drop the word “Catering” from the company name. “This other business probably only accounts for 5 to 10 per cent of what we do,” she says. “But we didn’t want to be synonymous with catering.” As for her own managerial experience, she admits that coming in as a family member to run the family business does set up extra challenges in terms of your relations with the workforce. Particularly when on the surface you do not appear to have the kind of engineering qualifications to run an engineering firm: Victoria’s father, by contrast, was forced to serve as an apprentice in another engineering firm before he was allowed in. “As a family member you have to work twice as hard for half as much to get that respect,” she says. “You have to earn it. I like to think I have done that. I get on really well with staff. They know I don’t have the technical capabilities that my dad or my granddad had, but I have got the best interests of the company at heart. They are very much my family – I know that sounds cheesy, but it is true. They have seen me grow up. They have confidence in me.” But it is in fact only in the last few years that that confidence was really put to the test. The last few years have been “all about survival, rather than growing.” That wasn’t necessarily the result of the recession. She says although this is the first recession she has been through where her customers have really “felt the hit”, Britain’s 11,000 chippies are “not doing too bad.” Some are even expanding through franchising. “People can’t afford to go out now, but they are still lazy, so they will have takeaways,” she says. “Fish and chips is recession-proof.” Nor, she says, has the industry been hit by the new emphasis on healthy eating. “Fish and chips is the healthiest of all takeaways,” she says. What did, however, hit the business was first
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
The last few years have been really tough but the staff have really pulled together and I have learned so much for the better the huge rise in commodity prices, particularly stainless steel, and then the bank manager coming in to say he was withdrawing the company’s overdraft facility virtually overnight. “The last few years have been really tough,” she says. “Previously we had always done all right. Now I know what it’s like to run a business when it’s not all right. But the staff have really pulled together. “In fact, I have learned so much for the better. I have had to re-evaluate the business and how we do things.” This re-evalutation has included effectively getting rid of the company’s telesales operation – most orders come through the internet these days. And Victoria has been introducing key performance indicators (KPIs) for the first time. “We had some KPIs through our ISO accreditation before but now we are all about production efficiencies and financial efficiencies right across the board.” As a result she feels that over the next financial year, which starts in August, for the first time in ages the company will be able to focus back on innovation. It already is, to a certain extent. “We have started bringing back in equipment we used to make years ago,” she says. “There’s a machine – called a little willy – that spins fat scraps and heats them off to take off the oil. The cost of oil has been going up and up, and it has really been eating into the bottom line of fish friers. So more and more customers have been asking if we still made the product. The amount was getting so high I realised we needed to start making it again. The machine is currently out on test and a prototype is launching soon.” As well as launching higher efficiency ranges which are at the top end of the market, she was pleased to see “the lads on the floor” come up with their own design for a more budget range too. “It’s only been on the
market a couple of months but we are already seeing lots of orders,” she says. “It’s a real ‘what you see is what you get’ range.” The fact that the lads on the floor came to her to put forward their designs must surely show that, after all, they are comfortable with having a female boss. However, although she is heavily involved in encouraging schoolgirls to take up careers in engineering, and was very disappointed when the company’s first girl apprentice left early, she says she personally has hardly had to battle any sexism at all in her role. “There aren’t many glass ceilings there any more,” she says. “I have never seen them. If you really want something, you will go for it.” But there is one young lady Victoria certainly looks to guide; her five-year-old daughter Abigail. Because Victoria is a single mother, and despite them both having wide support from the family and friends, Abigail does spend a fair amount of time in the office – so much so that she has her own desk complete with executive chair and pink laptop. Victoria says she has certainly become accustomed to this. “She understands that if she wants the latest Barbie DVD then Mummy has to go to work and earn pennies for it,” says Victoria. “But she has never known any different.” And Abigail being there is starting to have an effect. “She emulates me,” says Victoria. “We recently had a bad break-in in the accounts office. Abigail walked in and started organising everybody else doing the clean up. She does little jobs for me – she opens the post and hands it around to everybody. A lot of women would disagree with what I am doing, but I am making the best of a situation I have found myself in.”And possibly building up another generation of Hopkins female leaders, you can’t help thinking. n
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
SUCCESS STORY in association with
Black Sheep grows up Taking over a company is never easy but when it’s the family firm that has carved its name in its industry’s history, it’s a big ask, as Alastair Gilmour discovers
As an inspirational business story or tale of subterfuge, enterprise, enthusiasm and oomph, Black Sheep is a prime example of converting “what if” into “what next.” The Masham, North Yorkshire, brewery is 20 years old this year and its beers have become such a favoured sight across the country that some people would swear they’ve been around far longer. To others though – Black Sheep founder Paul Theakston and his recently-appointed managing director son Rob
among them – the past two decades have disappeared in the snap of a finger. Britain’s beer industry has always been a turbulent arena with takeovers, amalgamations and closures littering the landscape since the days when wooden barrels were hauled by horse and cart. The Theakston brewing dynasty – begun in 1827 by pub-owning Robert Theakston – was never going to be immune to those outside influences and inside shenanigans. In what must now seem another life, Paul Theakston – Black Sheep’s present chairman – represented the fifth generation of ale-producers at T&R Theakston, but a takeover by Matthew Brown of Blackburn in 1984 was followed by a Scottish & Newcastle buyout three years later.
Ownership battles and business upheaval tend not to nurture happy families. So, recognising that he wasn’t a corporate animal (“I was too old a dog to learn big company tricks”), he took a financial package and left. That was in 1989 and Paul Theakston had had his fill of squabbles with his namesake cousins who remained in the firm through the new ownership, public petitions, writs, injunctions and High Court rulings that followed from a bewildering array of directions. “I was 17 or 18 and at Sedbergh School when dad left T&R Theakston,” recalls Rob Theakston, who shared the Black Sheep joint managing director role for a year with his father until the back end of 2011 when he then took on the sole responsibility. “We had him go through his ‘wilderness years’ – >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
hanging about, seemingly doing nothing. He had been working flat out and to have him at home all the time was strange. “But he set up an office in some old stables we had at home and then spent two years plotting his next move. “We knew something was going on and talked about it as a family – in fact, it was my mother Sue who came up with the Black Sheep name.” Theakston père had spent his “stable” time wisely, planning to buy the redundant Lightfoot Brewery buildings in Masham from Scottish & Newcastle through a twice-removed purchaser. Had they known the true identity, however, we would be supping a very different beer today. (Incidentally, and fortunately for lovers of good ale, T&R Theakston has now returned to family control; its beers and the Black Sheep brand are similarly highly valued across the nation, and all relations have been restored.) For a brand new business, it would have been much easier to acquire a new factory unit, install a shiny, stainless steel plant
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
I knew I’d be taking it up as a career sometime.When you’re part of a family dynasty like we are, it’s in you
and produce perfectly acceptable beer, but that was a million miles away from Paul Theakston’s concept of cast iron, slate and copper. And, great beer is not just the product of the ingredients and the recipe, but also of its provenance, plus the vital ingredient – the people who make it. The landmark Lightfoot Brewery building, standing high over the banks of the River Ure, had fallen in to disrepair as years of neglect as a semi-redundant grainstore had taken its toll. Despite its overburdening rodent population, rundown fabric, and the little matter of raising
the money, Paul Theakston assembled a small team around him to fight the rats and build a brewery – a traditional country brewery. He searched the length and breadth of Britain to find suitable plant and equipment. The early 1990s had seen the demise of many breweries following rationalisation within the industry. At times it became a race against the demolition contractor to whisk away vital and rare equipment before it became scrap. Black Sheep’s brewing copper, mash tun and hop-back came as a matched set from the old Hartley’s Brewery in Ulverston in the Lake
District. Its first three traditional Yorkshire stone square fermenting vessels were refugees from a Hardy of Nottingham modernisation programme. A further three were literally snatched from under the ball of the demolition contractor who was levelling Darley’s Brewery at Thorne, near Doncaster, to make way for a supermarket. Rob Theakston says: “Then when Dad got the keys (to the redundant Lightfoot pile) during our school holidays and was looking at building a brewery I was drafted in as a hired hand and we got stuck into clearing it out.” Rob has three brothers, Jo, Matt and Alex; the latter two happily following careers in London not remotely connected with brewing, while Jo is Black Sheep’s director of marketing. “I knew I would be taking it up as a career sometime in my lifetime,” Rob continues. “When you’re part of a family dynasty like we are, it’s in you, and I used to help Dad mash in before I went to school in the morning. “The whole thing in the beginning was quite a covert operation; we needed to get the
brewery sorted and to make sure it was going to work without setting the hares running. The building purchase was kept very quiet until the last moment. “The brewery was going to be called Lightfoots after the original one, but that leaked out somehow and Scottish & Newcastle registered the name first which rather scuppered our chances. “Actually, it probably did us a favour as the Black Sheep name really works on all levels, plus it has that tongue-in-cheek element. Masham at one time was one of the biggest sheep markets in the country. “We didn’t let the name out of the four walls till it was done and dusted.” The young Rob Theakston originally harboured thoughts of becoming a vet but didn’t take enough science subjects at school. A year in Canada studying dairy farming kindled the farming bug. “My gran was originally from Canada and came back to Masham after the war but went back regularly to visit family,” he says.
“Learning dairy farming was brilliant. It was -25°C and you were hugging a cow to keep warm, but it was brilliant. “I came back and went to agricultural college – Harper Adams in Shropshire – to do a BSc in agriculture and animal science. But at that time there wasn’t much money in farming with the likes of government cuts and milk quotas so I looked at getting into brewing. “Dad, being a traditionalist, advised me to do a sort of apprenticeship going round large and small breweries learning from like-minded brewers. I started in sales at Shepherd Neame in Faversham in Kent, then had a spell with Beer Cellar – now Waverley TBS – selling Black Sheep beer around London. “I realised sales wasn’t my forte – I’m more practical and hands-on and really wanted to be in production. “I made a conscious decision to gain as much knowledge over a two or three-year period early in my career before I settled down into Black Sheep. I’ve never been shy about getting my sleeves up and I’m happy whether it’s shoveling spent grains or sorting out some production problem.” Rob is also happy throwing himself into regular Monday five-a-side football sessions with brewery colleagues. “If I had only worked here all I would have known is Black Sheep. I’ve seen the science side, driven forklifts – have my class 1 and class 2 licenses – the whole professional competence that you need. Jo started on his own path too and got a job with Wells & Youngs in Bedford and got a passion for it. Then we poached him back here.” Theakston fils then did a year’s post-graduate study in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh – and even got married there. He eventually took up a position at Carlsberg-Tetley in Leeds. “I was in the brewhouse doing all the shifts – two on days and two on nights – for two years, which was a fantastic experience,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoyed it, the Leeds boys were great. I was doing everything from scrubbing out Yorkshire squares to driving a desk with a mouse. “It also allowed me to experience corporate management which was an eye-opener. “At that time they were honing the >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
A lot to live up to: Rob Theakston says trying to emulate his father was daunting at first but his confidence is now growing in his role machine – making efficiencies – all of which involved people, and to see it on that scale was fascinating. Eventually I got the chance to go back to Black Sheep under Paul Ambler who was then head brewer (and has since retired), and Alan Dunn (now head brewer) learning about distribution and technical services for two or three years and progressed to a stage where I was offered the joint managing director role last year, trying to steer this beast through choppy waters. “It was always at the back of your mind that you’d do this. Dad is a legend of brewing – that’s not too strong a term – and what he’s done over the last 20 years is amazing. “You think: ‘How will I ever emulate that?’ and: ‘Will I ever achieve that?’, but as you get older you get more confidence in your own skills and you take the good bits anyway and do it your own way. “I realised I didn’t need to compete with my dad in that way. I’ve always got him as a backup. And we’ve got such a fantastic team
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
here with Alan Dunn; Steve Constable, the finance director who’s been here since the beginning, and Brian Smith in sales. “They’ll certainly tell me if I’m doing something wrong. “It’s a big change for those guys as well; it’s tough for them – Steve’s only known dad as the boss. They’ve got to trust you to make it work and they have to have the confidence in you to move the business forward – and for their own sanity.” The Government isn’t exactly helping the brewing industry at present – there have been huge hikes in duty over the past four or five years and brewers can’t get price rises from supermarkets and major multiples, no matter how hard they try. Beer is a commodity item; it’s what people will give up when the going gets tough. “We’re a manufacturing industry and the Government is always going on about manufacturing driving the economy,” says Rob. “We’ll still be driving the economy but we’re getting crippled for it. They see us as a
never-ending source of cash.” Black Sheep now produces 70,000 barrels (20 million-plus pints) of beer annually which puts the operation alongside long-running regional outfits such as Timothy Taylor. A former food factory has been bought in Masham and is being refurbished as a base for distribution, telesales and technical services which, at the moment, is off-site. A plan to move casking the beer to the new premises is also under consideration which will free up space at the main plant for fermenting and conditioning beer. Paul Theakston’s new role as company chairman allows him the work-life balance he now enjoys. He’s looking after Black Sheep exports in an executive capacity and is apparently drawing up battle plans for a renewed assault on the US where beers like Holy Grail – with its Monty Python connections – sell particularly well. “He’s also our voice in the industry and has always been very involved in industry bodies,” says Rob.
SUCCESS STORY Ahead for business Whether you’re starting a new business or run a multi-million pound enterprise, we want to help you achieve your ambitions. We believe in providing the best possible breadth and depth of support to you and your business and that’s why our team of locally based Relationship Managers go through independent accreditation to ensure they fully understand the challenges and opportunities for your business. It’s also why we have developed a wide range of products and services that can be tailored to meet your needs – whether it’s through specialist financial propositions, unique business planning and management software, or sector and industry information, guides and case studies. We also provide a network of business service experts who can provide additional support and even outsourcing of your legal and HR requirements. For further information contact:
We’ll still be driving the economy but we’re getting crippled for it. The Government sees us as a never-ending source of cash
Peter Sleigh, Regional Director Commercial Banking, North Email: Peter.email@example.com Michael Burrow, Regional Director Business Banking, North Email: Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org Try our online business planner by visiting app.natwestplanner.co.uk ahead.natwest.com
“He’s as busy as he wants to be and he can tailor that to suit himself.” Rob’s continual references to his family demonstrate the closeness and the strength of the unit. The lineage is set to go on and on: he has three sons aged between three and one and brother Jo has two boys of a similar age (“Mum’s desperate to have a girl in the family”), so the Theakston name has an awful lot of legs in it yet. “There are no issues either with T&R Theakston,” he says. “We’re competitors and always will be, but
we’ll have a beer together. We really need to be working together to promote Masham; it’s the Burton of the North, after all. We’re both good, strong local employers. “It’s a tough market and I think North Yorkshire has more microbreweries per square inch than anywhere, but we’re also local and still care, producing quality beer as we’ve always done. Those drivers are at the centre of everything we do.” During his more reflective moments, Rob Theakston might still ask himself “what if”, but he can now answer that himself with a definite “what next?.” n
Security may be required. Product fees may apply. Over 18’s only. 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.
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Standing up for hospital patients, talent spotter’s new home, Britannia flag raised, countryside cash boost, Fire station’s early start, Chinese firm puts cherry on top and business park spurred on by refurb >> Another restaurant at Brewery Wharf New Indian restaurant Urban Turka is leasing 4,000 sq ft on the ground floor of Brewery Place, facing the River Air in Leeds at Brewery Wharf. The restaurant joins other leisure occupiers including Azucar Cuban tapas restaurant, Oracle Bar and Yum-Yum delicatessen, at the £120m mixed-use Brewery Wharf scheme, which has been developed by Leeds-based Rushbond during the last decade. The 600,000 sq ft scheme comprises 80,000 sq ft of offices, a delicatessen, hotel, bar and women’s spa as well as more than 700 apartments all in an extensive landscaped environment including formal planting and public art.
>> Poole goes for cool
>> Rushbond deal sees scanner move in A new upright private MRI scanning facility will open in Leeds in May after the company behind it leased 4,000 sq ft of office suites at Tower Court, Armley. The new Leeds scanning centre is the first satellite base launched by the London Upright MRI Centre which opened in 2006. The centre will be based on the ground and first floor at the Grade II listed Tower Court, which it is leasing from Leeds-based property company, Rushbond, which redeveloped the former school in 1990. Upright MRI scanning differs from conventional MRI as it scans patients in an upright position, rather than supine. This enables the operators to demonstrate the effect of gravity on the back which can reveal problems that can be missed when a patient is scanned lying down. Centre commercial director Bruce Madge said the upright scanner could also help patients who only felt pain in certain positions or who were claustrophopbic and did not like being examined by the conventional scanners. “We decided to open in Leeds as it is particularly well positioned to cater for patients in the north of England and Tower Court is an ideal location within the city,” he said. Rushbond surveyor Richard Baker said: “Tower Court is a mixed-use scheme with several office occupiers and one last suite of 1,996 sq ft is available for lease for offices or to a further healthcare occupier.”
Locate in Leeds BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
Executive search and selection specialist Poole Resourcing, has relocated its Leeds office to Highcross’ Broad Gate development in the centre of the city. The company has taken Suite 3 in Air, the penthouse office space on the top floor of Broad Gate. The suites, which are accessed by a dedicated private lift, have panoramic views over the city centre and access to a rooftop terrace. Highcross has let the 2,397 sq ft suite to Poole Resourcing on a ten-year lease. Poole Resourcing managing director Ian Cundale said: “After eight years in serviced offices elsewhere in the city, we wanted to find premises that give us flexibility for growth. Although there are plenty of interesting deals out there, we chose Broad Gate not only because there is room for us to expand in line with the market, but also because it’s a
Find business premises in Leeds www.locateinleeds.co.uk
fine-looking building in an excellent location.” Iain Taylor, senior asset manager at Highcross said: “The suite offers an exceptional working environment, with the potential to expand in the future. Following this latest letting, two Air penthouse office suites remain available, offering 3,400 and 3,900 sq ft of office space.” Agents for Broad Gate are Colliers, DTZ and Savills.
>> One City West refurbished Soon-to-be-refurbished 10,000 sq ft accommodation at Once City West Office Park is currently being marketed by CBRE’s Leeds office agency team. A refurbishment programme by CBRE’s own building consultancy team is currently underway at One City West, and is due to be completed by the end of April. Situated to the West of Leeds city centre overlooking Junction 1 of the M621 motorway, the site includes a Premier Inn Hotel and Refuel coffee shop. CBRE senior surveyor Alex Hailey said: “The current refurbishment programme to the common parts and ground floor offices, plus an installation of a 4-metre high mural, will further enhance this already superb offering in a prominent location.”
>> Ramada hotel becomes Britannia Britannia Hotels has bought the 103-bedroom Ramada Hotel Leeds North from the administrators – and immediately changed it name to Britannia Leeds Hotel.
The hotel is well known in the area as it incorporates the shell of the old Seacroft Windmill, which has been a local landmark for many generations. Situated six miles from Leeds city centre, the hotel also offers a 78 cover restaurant and a range of conference and banqueting facilities for up to 340. Kirstie Provan, joint administrator of Millgreen View Securities, the previous owner, said the sale would save 42 local jobs. Britannia Hotels managing director Alex Langsam said: “We will be carrying out a programme of refurbishment and adding extra bedrooms. We look forward to welcoming guests and feel sure they will appreciate the improvements taking place.” Chris Moore, director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s hotels team, who brokered the deal, said: “We expected and received strong interest in this hotel which enabled contracts to be exchanged within two months of launching the sales campaign. “This underlines the considerable appetite in the market for corporate size properties and especially where there is clear potential to grow the existing business.”
>> Parkhill gets three more Three units at the Parkhill development in Wetherby have been sold to expanding local companies. Jacky Cornforth Interiors, architects Wildblood Macdonald and veterinary practice Hutchinson Dunlop Baird have all taken space at the park in deals arranged by Carter Jonas. Wildblood Macdonald and Jacky Cornforth are already trading on the site while the vets’ surgery has just been completed. Jacky Cornforth said: “I love working at Parkhill and clients love visiting. What is not to like? Open spaces, a view to die for and peaceful surroundings. I find it all quite
Search our online property database www.locateinleeds.co.uk
inspirational, with the added bonus of having good neighbours and easy motorway access.” There are currently two plots still available on the site, providing 8,500 sq ft and 4,800 sq ft respectively.
>> Scott to head Harrison Yorkshire-based property and development company S Harrison has appointed Ann Scott as managing director. Scott, who joined the company in 2001, takes on the role just as the company announces an operating profit for 2011 and a strengthened balance sheet, in the face of some of the most difficult trading conditions in the sector in living memory. Before coming to the business she worked for BT and Kelda subsidiary White Rose Environmental. Group chairman Martyn Harrison, whose father Stanley Harrison founded the business in 1952, said: “Since she joined the group, Ann has always played a role far beyond her finance remit and her managing director title simply reflects the job she has been doing so effectively for some time.” The company, which was based in Malton until it moved to York in 2007, is currently working in partnership with Buccleuch Property to deliver a new £32m headquarters for the City of York Council.
>> Edwardian mill sees business again An Edwardian mill office in Farsley near Leeds has been converted into a suite of offices as part of a £500,000 refurbishment and has already welcomed its first tenant. Local firm Stroud Consulting has taken a 300 sq ft suite on the first floor of the 9,000 sq ft Sandsgate building.The building is an integral part of Sunny Bank
Locate in Leeds BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY Mills, which has been modernised by Horsforth-based architects Kilmartin, Plowman and Partners. It is spread over three floors, with office suites available from 300 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft. The suites, many of which contain original historic features, still have original large windows and high ceilings. There is on-site car parking and rents are in the region of £14 per sq ft. John Gaunt, joint managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the owners of Sunny Bank Mills, said: “The atmospheric boardroom is also available to rent on an hourly basis for local Farsley-based businesses which don’t have that kind of space themselves.” Joanna Stroud, co-founder of Stroud Consulting, said: “Sandsgate is a superb place to work. The location is brilliant, too, half way between Leeds and Bradford, with all of Farsley’s community facilities on the doorstep. Mike Dove, of Leeds-based property consultancy Dove Haigh Phillips, who are joint agents with Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “The owners have taken the brave decision to invest heavily in this building and this decision is already paying dividends. “They have created city centre standard offices at out-of-town rents.”
>> Student homes go for £23M The University of Leeds has sold the freehold of its student residences at Clarence Dock to Liberty Living for £23m. The sale includes a nomination agreement which means the residences will continue to be available for the University’s students for the next 15 years. The 612 bed site will be renamed Liberty Dock. Ian Robertson, head of residential accommodation at the University of Leeds, said: “Liberty Dock is a core part of our accommodation provision for students. Its sale,
Locate in Leeds
with a nominations agreement, will allow us to invest the proceeds in the development of brand new residential accommodation at one of our own retained sites, while still ensuring that accommodation is also available to us at Liberty Dock in the long-term.” Andrew Smith, director of corporate real estate consulting at DTZ, which advised on the deal, said: “There has been a considerable amount of activity in the student residential market in Leeds recently and this sale follows some important strategic thinking about how the University can make rooms available to students in the long-term.” Liberty Living is the exclusive brand of the Brandeaux Student Accommodation Fund which currently owns and manages 15,000 beds for university students across 40 residences in 17 UK cities.
>> Raithwaite gets a further £10M The York-based financial advisory company that provided the initial £7.2m funding to develop Raithwaite Hall is to provide a further £10m to expand the country retreat at Sandsend near Whitby after completely redeeming the initial investment it made. The new funding – of up to £10m – from Grosvenor Financial Consultants will be used to develop the 80 acre site and add further value to the overall development,
including more luxury accommodation and residences as well as further land for the estate for future expansion. Grosvenor director Mark Pepper said: “Extending the funding for Raithwaite Hall will allow developer Skelwith to develop other opportunities within the Raithwaite Estate and add further value for the company and investors.”
>> New owner for old chemical works Blenheim Developments has bought the old Yorkshire Chemical Works site on Kirkstall Road in Leeds for around £3m. Yorkshire Chemical Works closed in January 2006, and although the site was acquired the same year for as much as £15m by Gladedale Group, who cleared it, it has remained open land ever since. Blenheim said it will be looking to reapply for planning permission on the site as the current permissions, for around 1.5million sq ft of office space, residential units and a green urban park, would no longer be viable. Blenheim’s Peter Burrows said: “Kirkstall Road has an existing planning consent to some amazing development opportunities. But the property market has changed dramatically over the last few years and the plans, which were first submitted back in 2006, just don’t make commercial sense in this current market. We do want to stick to the original principles of the plans where possible but make them work in today’s market.” The company is still open minded about what the plans might be, although a mixed-use scheme including commercial office space, retail, leisure and residential seems likely. It is currently talking to a number of potential occupiers and is even looking into the potential of working in a joint venture. Savills bought the site on behalf of Blenheim and has been retained to market the scheme. Development director David Aspland said: “No
Free commercial property search service www.locateinleeds.co.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
other site in Leeds can boast such a unique position, with frontage from both the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the River Aire. This site has great potential and it took a developer like Blenheim to commit to the opportunity.”
>> Fire station ready early Caddick Construction has completed the construction of a £1.69m fire station in Normanton three months ahead of schedule. The contract for West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service involved the demolition of the existing fire station, which was built on the site in 1959, as well as the redevelopment of a nearby house, which has been converted into five bedsits to be used as sleeping accommodation for night shift fire fighters. Chris Allott, contracts manager for Knottingley-based Caddick Construction, said: “The existing fire station remained operational throughout the construction phase but everything came together really well, which allowed us to complete the project ahead of schedule. We applied good management, good planning and good organisational skills ensuring materials were available as they were needed, avoiding a sometimes restrictive ‘just-in-time’ approach.”
>> Chinese retailer expands Clothing retailer Dishang Cherry has doubled the size of its office space at The Exchange, Harrogate’s tallest building. The retailer, which is China’s third largest clothing manufacturer and exporter, has leased an additional 1,000 sq ft on the second floor of The Exchange, in a deal brokered by Jones Lang LaSalle acting for the landlord, London-based Commercial Estates Group. Dishang Cherry has had a UK base at The Exchange since 2008 and now occupies 2,000
Full house: Simon Mydlowski, commercial property solicitor at Gordons (left), with Candelisa directors Frank McAleer (centre) and Guy Taylor, outside the fully let Ilkley business centre
>> Architects turned developers make acquisition Ilkley-based property developer Candelisa has acquired a 4,430 sq ft property on Wells Road in the town from the receivers and already fully let it out. The two-storey building has been refurbished and is now occupied by the Swedish bank Handelsbanken, luxury car funder Bridford Financial Solutions and payroll specialists Modus UK. Candelisa occupies the fourth unit, which is the group’s new head office. Candelisa was formed by two architects and is now a UK and internationally focused property development group. Simon Mydlowski, commercial property solicitor at Gordons, advised Candelisa on the purchase and letting of the Wells Road building, a process completed in less than six months.
sq ft. The company sells a wide range of men’s women’s and children’s formal and casual wear as well as fabrics and also supplies some of the world’s leading clothing brands. Strutt & Parker acted alongside Jones Lang LaSalle in the letting deal.
>> Shining spur Gildersome Spur industrial park close to Junction 27 of the M62, has been extensively refurbished following its acquisition on behalf of St James Place by
Orchard Street Investment Management. Over 50,000 sq ft of existing vacant space has been refurbished since September last year and the estate now offers the market high-quality units of between 8,000 sq ft and 40,000 sq ft. Paul Mack, associate director at DTZ, part of UGL Services, which is marketing the estate jointly with Carter Towler, said: “Orchard Street’s commitment to invest in their newly acquired property has provided some excellent industrial and distribution stock to the market.
Keep up to date with the latest commercial property stories from Yorkshire by visiting our new website: www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
Find offices, retail and industrial premises www.locateinleeds.co.uk
Locate in Leeds
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
Waking up to opportunity Simon Richardson took a while to launch his own company iTogether. But, he tells Peter Baber, it is now buzzing along in an industry that few people realise is the biggest in the world Listening to Simon Richardson, managing partner of Leeds-based IT company iTogether, talk about his past career, it is a wonder that after over 15 years in the industry, iTogether was his first serious attempt at starting his own business, apart from a small venture into website building that he ran with a couple of colleagues in the early 1990s and soon pulled out of. After all, the IT industry by its very nature is full of thrusting entrepreneur types, and Richardson has worked with his fair share of them. For the early part of the last decade he
worked for Zeuros, subsequently Harrierzeuros, an IT company built up over the course of the 1990s by one David Cheesman, a man he clearly regards as a kind of hero. “He eventually sold the company for £26m, yet he had started out as a TV repair man. He was my inspiration,” he says. It was because of Harrierzeuros that Richardson came to Leeds. Although he hales from Hull, like many in the IT business he learned his trade first down south in the M4 corridor. “I came up to Leeds in 2000 primarily to >>
Going places: iTogether founder Simon Richardson sees great potential in his new venture
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
ENTREPENEUR work for O2, or what was then Cellnet, as the company had sold a lot of services to them.” He was made head of the northern region technical team, and says the period between 1999 and 2005 was like an apprenticeship in how to start businesses. “We were building networks and securing networks, mainly selling to big business. But we soon found people were also coming off the street to find out more about our products, and we started training in some of the products we supplied. It was a great way to get new customers through the door and convert them into service customers.” Yet even when the company was taken over by a group of serial entrepreneurs whose philosophy he didn’t agree with, he didn’t do what many might have done in that situation and go out on his own. Instead he joined up with one of his key customers, an Irish-based company called Sopra Newell and Budge. “I had known these guys for years and years,” he says. “When I realised I would have to leave where I was, I rang them up and happened to tell them I was thinking of leaving. They said: ‘Come over - we want to talk to you.’ And when I got there they said: ‘We would love you to start an English business for us.’” So, over the course of the next few months, that is what he did. He clearly believes the British Isles are more disparate than many companies think. “You can’t do business in Scotland, Northern or Southern Ireland without having a base there, and vice versa,” he says. “In any case, Ireland buys in a different currency.” So what, after all this time, convinced him to start up on his own with a company originally called Network Integration Technologies? After all, the company, since its launch, has not been doing badly. “In our first year, which was a short year, we made £30,000, in our second that had grown to £300,000. We made £2.1m last year, and we’ll do £2.5m this year,” he says. The answer, it seems, was a next door neighbour. A significant next door neighbour, and another one of Richardson’s inspirations. Jonathan Hirst is founder of Leeds-based media recruitment companies The Book and Network Marketing, which have been going strong since 1996. He is also something of a
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
I hadn’t realised that I had customers already. They had been buying me, not the business, for 15 years. All I did was go back to friends of my old company serial entrepreneur. Richardson got talking to him one day, and, soon enough Hirst was one of his biggest customers. But it soon moved to more than that. “One day Jonathan said: ‘I have two companies merging together in Leeds. Can
you come and sort out the networking for us?’” says Richardson. “I said: ‘Sure, I will get someone from our Manchester office to do it,’ and then when that was done he wanted another job doing and I said I would get someone from our Leeds office, but he
stopped me and said: ‘No, will you do it yourself?’ When I looked a bit puzzled he said: ‘I really think you might be ready to do it yourself. To go into business on your own.’ Up until then I hadn’t been so sure about that. I had set up a business before, but I had sold out in time and in the end it spectacularly failed in the dotcom crash.” Looking back, he thinks, what was really putting him off making such a venture was the fear that, once he was outside the comfort of a large corporation, customers would be very hard to find. This is a worry that many people thinking of setting up on their own have, he says, and it is a worry they should immediately dispose of because it has very little bearing on reality. “When Jonathan said those words to me I worried about how we would get customers,” he said. “The thing you think you will be missing if you start out on your own is your customers. But to be honest I hadn’t realised that I had those customers already. “They had been buying me, not the business, for 15 years. All l did was go back to friends of my old company.” He and Hirst co-founded the business in August 2005, while he was still working for Sopra Newell & Budge. Hirst was the company’s first customer, and Richardson thought that would be a safe way to test the relationship, but by November, when additional customers were coming on board, he felt he had to tell his Irish bosses that he was leaving to start out on his own. He says they were perfectly content with what he was doing. “They were on earn out in Ireland anyway, having done a deal in which they had got, to use their own expression, a wheelbarrow of cash. They were very pleased for me, and said that if it ever went wrong, I should come back to them.” And in fact he found having Hirst as a customer enormously valuable too. “Jonathan will always be best customer,” he says. “He will tell you what is wrong. He can be very honest.”The company took off quickly, seemingly on its own. “We each put £10,000 into the business when we started the company in August 2005,” he says, “but by September we had taken it back
out again, because it had already become largely self-funding. In the end the cost of starting up was about £8,000. It was just like David at Harrierzeuros, he also didn’t spend much money on marketing in the early days because he was good on good will.” He is not particularly surprised that, even in a highly competitive industry like IT, a network company based in Britain should do so well. The UK is in fact the world leader in providing networks – it’s just that not many people appreciate that. “England is the best market in the world for networks,” he says, “and I think it is down to that little village down the road called London. There you have a massive concentration of technology, purchasing power and skills. The industry has grown exponentially from when I started. The amount of product people buy here never ceases to amaze me. For example, look at our biggest vendor, Check Point. “It’s an Israeli company which I am pretty sure is the most profitable company on the Nasdaq. Its share price is currently around US$60. But where does 70% of its revenue come from? England. We are a massively important market for it. “The strange thing is that after 20 years it’s only now that it is coming under massive attack from other vendors who have woken up to the fact that it relies for much of its business on this tiny little island. Our market is bigger than the US by a mile – bigger in absolute terms.” Nevertheless, while London may be the catalyst for setting off a burgeoning networks industry, Richardson says there is no particular reason for setting up a company like his there. Yorkshire is a much better option. “I have lived in the Thames Valley but I would rather set up here than anywhere else,” he says. “You have a really good ‘can do’ attitude here compared to the South East. “There’s a much more entrepreneurial spirit, a good support network, although perhaps now it is not as good as it was, and the cost of setting up a business here is lower. “I really didn’t get much of that can do feeling when I was down there. In any case, how do you make a shining light down there?” It is precisely to make more of this shining light in an increasingly crowded market that the
ENTREPENEUR company rebranded last year from Network Integration Technologies (admittedly a bit of a mouthful) to iTogether (pronounced the same way you pronounce iTunes, in case you were wondering). The name is designed to show how the company’s consultants engage fully with their clients, and to show how it offers more that just networking products, but security, storage and voice products too. Nevertheless, there is clearly no problem in getting work. iTogether already works the Arcadia Group, Media Vest and Welcome to Yorkshire, among others within the UK. “We have customers in USA, Spain, and Vietnam – a very small software developer there,” says Richardson.“We also have customers in Australia and Japan.” The company also specifically looks for potential clients who are likely to be needing work on networks because they are in the process of expanding. “We target companies that are growing, acquisitive,” says Richardson. “Most of our businesses are very acquisitive.” In fact the only issue he is having at the moment is getting hold of talented sales people. They are all staying where they are in these current depressed times,” he says, “because their employer realises how valuable they are.” Retaining staff has also been difficult, which is one of the reasons the company has taken its accreditation and training with Cisco so seriously. Partnerships like that can really be a pull for new staff. But then again, having brushed with some serious entrepreneurs in the past, Richardson should be fully wised up on what works in IT. Way back in the 1990s he worked for Netscape, a name largely forgotten now even though it was one of the first widely available internet browsers. Netscape was founded by Marc Andreessen, who went on to be a major stakeholder in Facebook Richardson is clearly impressed by some of the motivational ideas companies like Facebook and Google have introduced. “They do look after their staff,” he says. “At Google they have a policy that you are never more than 30 feet away from food or drink. You get free food all day, but that of course means you stay there all day. It’s genius.” Something to emulate here, perhaps. n
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Constructed with a heart Diligent attention to community work has paid off for construction company Esh Group and will pay off as it expands in Yorkshire, its regional head tells Peter Baber Esh Group – who are they? Even Chris Walker, divisional director of the Yorkshire arm of Esh Build, admits that most people in the region probably won’t be familiar with the name – especially given that its overall group headquarters are in the North East. But they should be familiar with at least some of the work the company has done in the region, particularly through its civil engineering subsidiary Lumsden & Carroll. Its clients have included Yorkshire Water. “We have actually been in and around Yorkshire for the last 20 years through Lumsden & Carroll,” says Walker. “We are definitely not new kids on the block.” It was precisely because of Lumsden & Carroll’s already established brand name, in fact, that it was one of the few divisions of the company that didn’t end up with the prefix Esh before it when the company restructured and rebranded its divisions and opened an Esh Construction Yorkshire head office in Thorpe Park in 2009. Now the Esh Construction brand comprises Esh Build, Esh Property Services – a facility solutions company - Lumsden & Carroll itself, and Stephen Easten, a specialist building company with its focus on churches and listed buildings. Walker, a construction industry
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
veteran who has previously worked for the likes of Allenbuild and Malton-based Harrison Construction, is the man who has been given the task of raising the company’s profile in its newest region. But what is this Esh? Here, perhaps, a little knowledge of the North East would come in handy. Esh Group got its name because it was based in the village of Esh Winning in County Durham. But as any self-respecting Geordie football fan would know, Esh Winning was also the birthplace of the late Sir Bobby Robson, former England manager and widely respected across the whole football community, not just on Tyneside. That connection proved useful in setting up the company in Yorkshire. Robson himself came to the opening of the Leeds office, just a few months before he died. In fact, the event was probably one of the last functions he attended that wasn’t football related. Such a big name at the opening, however, was clearly something of a pull. “What an ambassador that man was,” says Walker. “He had had ties with the company for a number of years. He had worked closely on rebranding and on our expansion into this region. Because of him being there we got the press here, with TV coverage.
“It really went well, considering he was poorly at the time. We had 150 guests, and he brought with him his autobiography. I think he must have sold well over 100 copies of it that night. But even then he stayed behind, and people came up and they were talking to him, talking generally about family as well as football. He had a word with everyone.” Walker clearly likes the community-centred ethos behind such events. In fact, he says it was Esh Group’s strong record on corporate social responsibility that got him interested in joining the company in the first place. One project he likes to talk about in particular is the work the company does with the Cyrenians, a charity supporting vulnerable and homeless people. “Work like that really touches on parts of the community that are struggling,” he says. “After all, it’s easy as a company to offer work experience, but there is still a plethora of people out there who have been pushed to one side or ignored because of their backgrounds – through no fault of their own. You try and tap into those people to give them chances for life by offering some kind of work. Supervising such work can of course be demanding, but our results have been successful. Some people drop off within minutes because it’s not for them – I don’t
know, perhaps they do want to go back to not working hard. But some do tune into it. We make sure these individuals come away with NVQs that are recognised within the industry, so that they get opportunities within Esh or within other employers.” The company is actively engaged in more conventional CSR too, for example by going into schools to help would-be construction
workers build their CVs. “That might seem rather basic,” he says, “but people in sixth form often have very little to sell at their age other than their personality. And how do they get that across in a letter? We have found that when we talk to them on what we are looking for when we see a CV we can then show them how to do it. Plus it builds their confidence. We can run it as a mock
interview.” While such work started in the North East, it has been brought down into Yorkshire as well. “We may approach a school in the area,” says Walker. “We are currently working with Allerton High School. We may be there for an hour, giving them briefings.” He insists that such work does more than improve people’s sense of doing good. For any
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
construction company, he thinks, it is essential. “Typically when you start building on a site potentially you are a nuisance,” he says. “People are always inquisitive with regards to what you are doing. Perhaps they are not in favour of what you are doing anyway. They didn’t want that building in the first place. But if you start growing people more towards what they are getting out of the project, and perhaps if there are employment opportunities there and in the future, they may become part of it instead. So at least when they are talking to their friends and neighbours they make a point of letting them know what the product is. It might even get to the point of saying: ‘Actually my son/father is employed on that site.’ It draws people in.” The work in schools, he says, also serves a useful purpose in reminding school leavers just what a potentially rewarding career construction can be for some of them. “We try to give them an insight into construction,” he says. “There are so many opportunities out there, from hands on working through to site administration, contract administration, accounting, and clerical. Within construction you have loads of disciplines.” He shares the view of many in the construction industry that too many schoolchildren are led to believe that an apprenticeship in construction would be unrewarding, and so instead go to university for a course that is not really suited to them. But he doesn’t necessarily blame the schools themselves for this misdirection. “Opportunities have actually expanded in recent years because of modern materials and alternative methods of construction,” he says. “Traditionally you would have thought of a bricklayer or plasterer, but because of modern materials those have extended with regards to alternative types of roof tiling, for example. We can engage with younger people under apprentice schemes so that they can become involved in groundworks, drainage, roof coverings, and all the basic traditional trades as well. We do need to focus on traditional trades, otherwise in years to come there will be no one to focus on traditional tasks, but at the same time we need to make sure we are bringing people through to understand and
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
We are hopeful of Yorkshire being the next strategic area because we are convinced there is more work here. It’s now a matter of raising our profile learn alternative new methods.” It isn’t all touchy-feely, however. In its relatively short lifetime, the company’s Yorkshire division has been involved in some exciting projects. One of the biggest in the early days was the refurbishment of the Weeland Road glass bottle factory in Knottingley. The factory has been producing bottles since the 19th century and claims to be the first ever factory in the world to use a machine for making them. The factory was acquired by Austrian company Stolzle Oberglass in 1994, and the subsidiary it formed to run the factory, Stolzle Flaconnage, has since been producing bottles for a wide range of customers from Boots to Glenfiddich. But by 2009 the company felt the factory was in need of an upgrade. “Our involvement started out when the client invited us to look around their existing facilities with a view to making a customer centre,” says Walker. “They make perfume bottles and beer bottles and they are just like a food company in the way they need to manage their production line. We had a live environment throughout, so coordination became a key issue. We built the customer centre, then ended up extending their factory on an open book basis to make sure we can give them a competitive price. It was a good project, worth around £2.4m.” In 2010 that seven-month project won the value award at the Construction Best Practice in Yorkshire and the Humber awards. One of the first projects the company took part in had a more sinister evolution when a tenant in a block of 72 apartments in Glossop decided to set fire to the building one bank holiday weekend. It was completely gutted, and Esh was called in. “The whole building needed new structural support,” he says, “and it was a tricky situation because all the flats were separately
owned. It was quite a stressful time, because quite rightly all the tenants wanted to know when their apartment was going to be ready to move back into, because they had been living in hotels for months on end. But we got them all back in the end.” Currently the company is involved in building a £4.5m care home for the Turning Point charity at Mastin Moor near Chesterfield. But there are wider projects to follow too. Esh Build has worked for Morrisons, and is now part of the Yorbuild framework, while Lumsden & Carroll are on the Yorcivils framework, and hopefully there may be some crossover. “We also get opportunities through universities, who do tend to stand alone in terms of their own frameworks. We are now on the framework for Sheffield Hallam, and have worked previously at Huddersfield, and done a scheme at Leeds. We were involved in the refurbishment of the library at Huddersfield, while it was civic realm works at Leeds. Again that was harder to co-ordinate because it had to be done during live term. We have also just found out that Esh Facility Solutions has just been awarded the framework for reactive and routine maintenance at Leeds Met. That may develop things. They already work for the likes of Boots and Barclays, and that brings opportunities for ourselves, because while they look after facilities management, Esh Build could tender for associated work. Our Leeds office is like a central hub.” With work like that, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that Walker feels Esh hasn’t really experienced any of the current downturn. “The bigger schemes, while still there, are fewer and further between,” he says. “And most councils, especially with regard to education, are looking to refurbishment and extensions, whereas eight years ago they
New heights: Chris Walker is charged with building up Esh Group’s construction presence across Yorkshire would knock down and build again. But there is still quite a bit of work out there. We are hopeful of Yorkshire being the next strategic area in particular because we are convinced there is more work here. It’s now a matter of trying to raise our profile so people know we are here and the benefits we have.” One factor in Walker’s favour, he says, is the benefit of having a strong balance sheet –
something many other construction companies wish they had. At the end of the last financial year, Esh Group as a whole reported a turnover of £169m, an operating profit of £5.9m and a cash balance of £28m. “On that basis we can talk to clients and categorically guarantee that we will be here to finish the project,” he says. “You can’t always do that these days. It also gives reassurance to
our supply chain, because they know they are going to get paid on a regular basis.” As a result, when asked where the Yorkshire division may be in five years, he sees a rosy future ahead. “It’s difficult to mention turnover,” he says, “but in that period I would like to think we will be turning over in excess of £35m. We did £13m last year here alone.” n
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Talking about us? Steve McKevitt’s books have poked fun at modern business. But, he tells Peter Baber, no one’s offended and it’s only a sideline of his anyway
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
“When you are the head of communications, and you find yourself fantasising about where you are going to hide the chief executive’s body – that’s when you realise it is probably time to leave.” Not perhaps the most diplomatic of comments you might expect from a business interviewee over lunch. But such wickedly funny asides, I discover, are very much the bread and butter of Steve McKevitt, especially when he is describing why he chose to leave one of a number of communications, marketing and PR jobs he has held over the last two decades. But this is no lax performer. In his time, McKevitt has been head of communications across Europe for some of the biggest names in computer gaming (although to avoid offending any chief executives out there, we will avoid mentioning them). He has also managed to keep hold of such a career while always being based in the one city he has come to call home – Sheffield. Although he was born in Liverpool and brought up in north Lancashire, he has been based in the city since 1985 when he came to Sheffield University to study politics – naturally. While he has an affection for the place, and still lives there despite basing his latest venture, design agency Golden, in Leeds, he says there has been no want of trying to move somewhere else. With one European communications job he was told he could base himself more or less anywhere in Europe, in particular places like Geneva, Lyon or Madrid. With a totally deadpan face, he tells me how he went to relay this particular piece of information to his wife, who is Sheffield born and bred. “’Great,’ she said. ‘That means we can stay here.’ To be fair, we had just had a baby, and she wanted to be near her mum,” he says. Nonetheless, his commitment to staying in Sheffield on that occasion led to him having to make virtual daily commutes from the city to Lyon. He is something of an opinion former too, first in Sheffield and even now in Leeds. He was involved in both Creative Sheffield, the marketing and inward investment agency the city set up when city regions were first all the rage, and now, despite being in Leeds for only three years, he already has a seat on the employment and skills sub-committee of the
I am always amazed at the amount of successful people you couldn’t find anybody to say a good word about
Leeds local enterprise partnership (LEP). Clearly his opinions are listened to. You expect that, of course, in a consummate PR professional. One of the reasons why he chose Create, the social enterprise restaurant in Leeds, as the venue for our interview, was that he knows Create’s national executive chef, Richard Walton-Allen, from the days when he was executive chef at Harvey Nichols and McKevitt’s firm, McKevitt & Kenwood, was given the task of promoting the
restaurant in Harvey Nichols Leeds. But there are good reasons why more and more people might soon be tuning in to what Steve McKevitt has to say, as over the past few years he has started writing books – two books to date, with another two on the way. Of course, there are many people who yearn to write books, who either never succeed, or end up pretending to have done so when in fact the publisher they opt for is a vanity publisher. McKevitt has succeeded without any of that, although he admits that he only started writing non-fiction books because he thought that would be an easier way to get in to write fiction. “But you get pigeonholed into being a non-fiction writer,” he says. (A novel he is writing still remains unfinished.) While he says it’s a hard slog, pitching a book isn’t necessarily any different from any other kind of pitching you would do in the normal course of your business life. “The way you get a book published is you have an idea, and you get an agent interested, then you write a proposal. I have always pitched the idea, got an agent interested and tried to get a publisher, rather than present the completed book at the start. It is, after all, very difficult to get an agent interested unless you are Katie Price.” McKevitt’s agent, the Marsh Agency, we should point out, also represents the likes of Booker prize winner Ben Okri and current hot young talent China Mieville. McKevitt’s first book, City Slackers, which came out in 2006, had this interviewer literally aching with laughter, so near to the bone did much of his caricaturing of modern business life seem to be. “I am always amazed at the amount of people I have seen having successful careers who you couldn’t find anybody to say a good word about - or even an equivocal word about,” he says. The book’s central explosive tenet was that there are legions of people out there, in all walks of life, who take on high profile jobs knowing even before they start that whatever they are supposed to be achieving will be a failure. Failure, the books suggests, is a given. “There was no way you could ever say in a business meeting that the new project everyone is raving about simply won’t work. >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Such talk would get you fired, or at the very least you would have the technical director coming down on you, saying things like: “Don’t you f*****g talk like that and demoralise my team,” and the chief executive quietly saying that you had reached your opinion too early. But privately if you spoke to these people everybody would know the project was a turkey. It’s a culture of failure no one talks about.” He puts such blindness down to people’s innate optimism, and cites as evidence a
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
research project he read about where people were put through an MRI scanner and asked what they thought their chances of dying from cancer were. They were then told what the chances actually were – almost invariably higher than they thought. Yet when they were put through the scan again, and asked the same question again, the only people who revised their chances upwards were people who were naturally pessimistic to start with – something he insists he isn’t. “I suppose when people are bombarded with
3,000 messages a day,” he says, “they are selective and like to listen to the good news.” McKevitt’s next book, Why the World is Full of Useless Things, he thinks was a bit of self-indulgence brought out in the wake of the relative success of his first. But he is much more excited about his new book, Everything Now, due out in June this year. He says it follows on from some of the issues raised in City Slackers – how people are “shown the answer and they ignore the evidence”. If the book is exploring territory
that has been trodden over before – why it is that people in consumer society today are less happy than they should be - it is pointedly aimed at those in his own profession of marketing in giving its answers. “Over 30 years there has been a drive to provide people with more choice,” he says, “but in order for that to be sustained people need to be kept in a permanent state of dissatisfaction. Only by selling you dissatisfaction with your current PC can I sell you the newer upgrade. We are not actually concerned with needs at all as all our needs have been assuaged. We live in a want-based society, and wants are being enacted.” The problem with such a culture is that is unsustainable. We’ve all heard that one before, but McKevitt takes it further by suggesting that it also deadens innovation – something all marketers should be concerned
about. “Innovation is still making place,” he says, “but we are making baby steps, not the giant steps we used to make in the past.” This came home to him most forcefully when he was watching Back to the Future with his children at home. “The kids were really surprised to find that the film had been made in 1985 because they thought it had been made a couple of years ago,” he says. “When it came to the part where he goes back to 1955, they could see that was a different world. But 1985 looked very similar to theirs. Michael J Fox has got a Walkman, he’s got jeans, a computer, and he is watching TV. They don’t know that the Walkman he is wearing plays cassettes. Innovation is taking place under the bonnet. A car looks much like a car did 30 years ago. What we have been doing in the past few decades has been incrementally trying to improve things that don’t necessarily
need improving.” This is important, he says, because real innovators should be facing up to much bigger challenges. “This world is going to have 9 billion people in 20 years. Yet oil production will never be higher than 89 billion barrels a year. We need to find alternatives to that. The irony is that the technological solutions to all those problems exist today. “There is no R&D needed. What is lacking is the will to change things.” There are many people who would disagree with him on that last point, particularly on his insistence that there is currently an alternative to petrol in the form of photosynthesising algae. Many scientists say that the prospect of producing sufficient energy from such organisms is many decades away – if it is there at all. Yet he does have powerful people on his side. He is already writing another book,
Serious business At Rockliffe, we view conferencing very seriously. We also recognise delegates improve their focus when enjoying time out in our excellent facilities. Quite simply, Rockliffe is best for business because we provide a rest from business.
www.rockliffehall.com Hurworth-on-Tees, Darlington County Durham, DL2 2DU 01325 729999 email@example.com
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Choice words: Steve McKevitt’s new book Everything Now ponders why so much consumer choice has left us so dissatisfied Shine, in collaboration with Tony Ryan, Pro Vice Chancellor for Pure Science at the University of Sheffield. This, he says, will cover “major issues such as how we solve population control, climate change, food shortages and energy supply. Tony likes the books I have written”. He says he now probably would be able to make a living from the books he has written, “but it wouldn’t be a very good one”. “You would have to write one successful book a year to make a good living,” he says, “and
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
that is very difficult. I don’t actually know how many books I have sold.” Yet he must still be relatively comfortable from having sold his equity in Zoo Digital, a Sheffield-based technology and media company that floated on the stock market some years ago and at one stage had a market capitalisation of £48m, despite having never made a profit. McKevitt has largely severed his ties with the company now. He says he likes the book writing because it “fits in” with his work being chairman of his
new agency, Golden. He founded the agency with Rob Brearley, a former winner of the Designer of the Year award at the Roses Design Awards, and they are already winning pitches to the likes of Nike and Umbro. It is a design agency, he says, but very different from Designers Republic, the now largely defunct Sheffield-based design studio he was asked to come and manage for a few years which had something of a worldwide reputation, largely from having designed many of Pulp’s album covers.
McKevitt says he learned a lot from the relatively short time he spent working with “DR”, as he calls it, but not all of it was good. “DR had a global capability to get clients all over the world,” he says. “Whether they could keep them was another matter. I think the problem was that they were artists. They would say to a client: ‘This is your answer.’ And if the client said: ‘I don’t like that,’ they would say: ‘You are wrong.’ They didn’t really have any account management. The ideal client was a client who would come and let DR do what it wanted to do.” Golden, he says, is different from that. “Our designer’s attitude is: ‘It could be any of these solutions. Which one works for you? None of them? What about that?’ We are solutions-based, and working to a brief. It’s not enough to give somebody something brilliant, the experience of getting something brilliant has got to be sufficient as well.” He says he based the agency in Leeds primarily to try and attract more people who might be willing to move north, and to get more business – although ironically Golden hasn’t had a single client in Leeds since it started. But is he not finally running away from Sheffield? After all, surely he must have annoyed quite a few people in his time? There are many people referred to in City Slickers, for example, whose identity, if you really worked hard enough, should not be that difficult to establish. McKevitt says no – he has never had any adverse reaction to his books. But that doesn’t surprise him. He likes the tale John Cleese told of being approached by a man at an airport who said he loved the sketch Monty Python had done mocking accountants. When Cleese asked the man what his job was, the man said he was himself an accountant. But when Cleese subsequently wondered how he could find such a sketch funny, the man said he was a chartered accountant, and Cleese had been making fun of lesser brethren. “People won’t know you are making a joke about them unless you put their postcode at the bottom of the joke,” he says. “I have been told by people who are actually in the book that they like the book.” I wonder if such people are reading this? I hope not. n
Giving the city a lift Create has already been getting quite a high profile, as its approach is broadly similar to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, only potentially much more wide-ranging. Much more than just a restaurant, it is also a social enterprise that trains vulnerable and formerly homeless people – not to the high levels of Mr Oliver’s establishment, but to an entry level in the catering industry. Its flagship restaurant on King Street in Leeds has already won rave reviews from the national press, so we were certainly hoping for good things. And we largely weren’t disappointed. Certainly not with the starter: we both opted for fish, with Steve choosing chargrilled mackerel, pomegranate and blood orange salad, and myself pickled herring, watercress, cucumber and toasted rye bread. As for the mains, they certainly like their meat. My chargrilled skirt steak was very much a maxi, although delicately finished off with a Yorkshire blue cheese and spinach fritter, roast shallot and wild mushroom dressing. Steve’s pan seared rump of hogget, lamb shank pie and garlic spelt was chosen largely because he was not sure what a hogget was, and still wasn’t sure afterwards. (It’s actually a name for a young lamb.) But he still seemed more than satisfied. The white with only occasional colour interior might seem clinical for some, but the service was excellent, and the location makes it a great place for lunch. Create restaurant, 31 King Street, Leeds, LS1 2HL, 0113 242 0628
ONLINE: Steve McKevitt tells us what he thinks of marketing in Yorkshire and talks about the struggle to get talented people to come here. www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
PERFECT TRAINING PARTNERS?
Stuart Cottee, Deloitte’s head of tax for Leeds and Newcastle, finds time to enjoy his wine whilst completing a 100 mile bike ride in Cheshire I am well known by my team as someone who finds the time to both work hard and play hard. This weekend was no different. Having enjoyed another fabulous victory by the ‘red and white army’ at the Stadium of Light with my two eldest daughters I set about planning how best to enjoy the red and white wines I had been asked to taste by BQ magazine. I was staying overnight in Crewe before embarking on the 100 miles ‘Cheshire Cat’ bike ride the next day as part of my ongoing training for this year’s Deloitte Ride Across Britain. The red went with me and the white stayed behind for my return.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
2010 Finca La Nina, Argentina A warm red Malbec from Don Cristobal 1492 was shared with my training partners as part of our pre-race preparations. Any keen cyclists would probably be horrified at the prospect of us enjoying a bottle before a testing ride, but our cycling is about the banter and a desire to exercise so that we can participate in the drink and food that we enjoy so much. As someone who normally prefers white wine I was pleasantly surprised by how nice a good red could be and a number of things struck me about this particular wine; 1) The resounding first impression when tasting the wine was the short hot sensation
which washed through my mouth. This was welcomed by all concerned as we carried that warmth with us into the cold early morning start the next day. 2) The second, perhaps surprising sensation (for a relative novice on reds) was the smooth fruity tastes which then followed on behind. I really enjoyed this as there was none of the harshness I often associate with reds. Consensus amongst the group was that this was a really nice red. We all identified the stalky aromas (which I believe arise from hay and herbs) and the undoubted taste of raspberry which in itself has pricked my interest in revisiting reds again.
2007 Moulin de Gassac Faune, France Whilst I was happy to share the red with my training partners the white was saved for my return home (knackered) and was shared with my wife (scant reward for having looked after our six children on her own on Sunday). I am a big fan of a good bottle of white wine. My tastes have changed over time (largely as a result of who I have socialised with) moving from French whites and in particular a good Chablis through to a good New Zealand Sauvignon in recent years. I was therefore a little sceptical about a return to French produce. This scepticism was further fuelled by the strong pale gold colouring of the wine and the powerful aromas which sprung from the glass upon pouring. These all suggested to me that this was
COTTEE ON WINE
going to be a strong wine capable of flooring me after a hard day on the bike. Tasting was however a massive surprise as whilst the wine was definitely full it was extremely smooth and fresh and really quite balanced in the way it delivered its exotic fruit ending. Both my wife and I really enjoyed this wine and the bottle was happily consumed in conjunction with a nice salmon salad meal as we refuelled for a busy week ahead. Overall a great weekend and further evidence that you can’t judge a book by its cover. On face value I am not built for cycling, but the Cheshire Cat was ably completed at a pace over around 14.5mph despite a testing course and unseasonably warm
weather. I went to bed tired, but satisfied and slept like a log with my mind opened again to trying new wines. Stuart Cottee is riding the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in aid of the British Paralympic Association. Money raised from the Ride goes towards sending the best prepared team possible to the London 2012 Paralympic Games and he can be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/ StuartCotteeRAB2012/ n The wines provided were Moulin de Gassac Organic Faune, Languedoc, France £8.40 per bottle. Finca La Nina Malbec, Argentina £7.38 per bottle Both wines are available at www.michaeljoblingwines.com or call 0191 378 4554
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
measuring the joy of six Chris Manners, ICAEW regional director, Yorkshire & Humber, gets his hands on the BMW 640d M Sport Coupe to the test whether it drives as well as its head-turning power suggests
The lumpy haunches have been toned to pertness and the curves sweep fast and low. It looks fabulous on the drive, begging to be off eating tarmac
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
This latest 6-series is better looking than its previous avatars; the radiator grille’s now in proportion with the rest of the front, the lumpy haunches have been toned to pertness, and the curves sweep fast and low between the two. It looks fabulous, especially in the blue of my demonstrator, crouching on the drive and begging to be off eating tarmac. Inside’s a stateroom of cream leather and rich wood (though the back seats aren’t for the tall), full of gizmological toys; bumpermounted cameras to help avoid kerbs and lurking molehills; whole Britannicas crammed in the on-board computers. It’s bigger than first sight. I drive a 5-series and thought the two would feel similar, but as I pulled away I’d have appreciated a tug boat towing me safe into open water. Partly that was because the delivery driver set the seat low – once I was higher I had a better sense of the car’s corners – but even so there were some oncoming-lorry country lane moments that had me inhaling sharply. The 3 litre V6 is creamy smooth and very quiet, with only the rev counter maxing at 5500rpm to betray that it’s a diesel. Just once, crawling in low revs and low gear through Skipton, was there even the faintest echo of a school bus. On open dual carriageway, when there’s chance to plant a foot, there’s a sense of enormous unstrained power. >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Fit for a king: Chris Manners sensed an air of majesty behind the wheel of the 640d M Sport
It corners flat and taut and grips like a Dales farmer clutching a £50 note. The gear box is Sudoku fiendish... in manual your fingers are playing Yakety Sax
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
BMW claims 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, which I well believe: the steering wheel hauls on your arms like a Great Dane straining after next door’s cat and in no time I was queuing behind a loose box across Blubberhouses Moor. Processions are for May Day. Turning off toward Pateley Bridge on empty B-roads gave me the chance to switch from comfort into sport mode (tighter suspension, quicker throttle response). The 640 corners flat and taut, and grips like a Dales farmer clutching a £50 note. But the ride, oh the ride. BMW fits run-flat tyres – for which I had cause to be thankful only last week – and on good roads they’re fine. But the stiff sidewalls grumble about every pothole and pebble. Running over cat’s eyes on the narrow lanes in North Yorkshire wasn’t enough to jar bones and rattle teeth, quite, but was definitely unsettling. The gear box is Sudoku fiendish. The simple thing is to leave it in automatic, when it’s smooth if a tad languid, but there’s a manual option either with stick or wheelmounted paddles. I think I counted 13 forward gears, of which I managed to use 8, with the first few close-ratioed for low speeds; in auto it changes up four times before 20mph, in manual your fingers are playing Yakety Sax. And the engine keeps mum about what’s going on. I was reading the rev counter for clues. There’s also BMW’s trick of cutting the ignition when the car’s foot-on-brake stationary - worthy and eco-friendly at traffic lights, but it makes nipping into small gaps at roundabouts a dicey experience; you want to be across the road, but the motor’s still coughing back to life. I was certainly impressed by the 640. It has looks, power, even a trace of majesty. But it’s not smooth enough to be a cruiser, and not direct enough to raise goosebumps. One foot’s in spikes, the other a slipper, and I didn’t like it enough to want one. n The BMW 640d M Sport Coupe that Chris test drove is priced at £74,750 and was provided by Stratstone Leeds, Sheepscar Way, Leeds, LS7 3JB For Further details contact, John Hill Tel: 0113 262 0641, John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Putting the show back into business at the Leeds Mal. BRING YOUR MEETING & EVENT TO THE NEW LOOK LEEDS MALMAISON.
Private dining room
The Leeds Mal is now bigger and better than ever before. The most unique, stylish and flexible venue in the heart of the city has had a meeting and private events facelift and can now cater for 80 delegates or 60 private diners. Itâ€™s perfect for your event. Come along and see what you and Leeds have been missing. We dare you.
To book call in or call quoting
0113 398 1000 or email: email@example.com 1 Swinegate, Leeds, LS1 4AG
For the best room rates GUARANTEED visit malmaison.com
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,
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
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 >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
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: >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Her clothes shape fashion, but also defy it – they remain as current now as when they were designed
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
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
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
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 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 diamond-
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
studded 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 >>
Safe hands: Patek Philippe president, Thierry Stern
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 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 www.patek.com
Patek is one of the few companies to design, make and even distribute its watches in-house
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
The man bringing Wensleydale to Waikiki
David Hartley’s tread from the cow shed to the boardroom rescued, then revived and revolutionised, one of Yorkshire’s most famous products. Andrew Mernin meets the Wensleydale Creamery’s top man as he rolls the cheese into yet another export market >>
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
SUCCESS STORY As they gather in the evening sun with the sound of ukuleles and the swish of hula skirts coming in on the breeze, there’s a new ingredient on their alfresco supper table. It’s crumbly but moist with a mild yet slightly honeyed flavour. And, most importantly, it’s made in Yorkshire. Wensleydale cheese – the original one which has been made in these parts since as early as 1150 – has just spanned the Atlantic and Americas to land on the shelves of 50 supermarkets in Hawaii. The deal is the latest exporting success for a product which, just 20 years ago, faced certain doom against a backdrop of economic turmoil. The volcanic craters and golden sands of Hawaii are a world away from Hawes, the Yorkshire Dales market town which has been home to Wensleydale for generations. As Wensleydale Creamery’s managing director David Hartley and his thousands of repeat visitors will tell you, though, the town is no less idyllic in the postcard stakes. Lancashire lad Hartley’s career has been almost entirely defined by the dairy industry. He left school at 16 with a handful of O-levels and the very next day was starting his first proper job milking cows and helping to process and deliver milk at a farm in Barrowford. Agricultural college and a career with Dairy Crest Longridge Creamery near Preston followed before he was eventually appointed production manager at what was then the firm’s site in Hawes. His name became part of the fabric of Wensleydale folklore in 1992 when he spearheaded a management buyout of the creamery, after Dairy Crest’s decision to close it with the loss of 59 jobs. Since then he has resuscitated the Wensleydale brand from a deathbed business into a thriving exporter and, as Hartley explains, a company which makes a major contribution to the North Yorkshire economy. “We buy milk from around 50 local farmers and annually buy something in the region of 25 million litres of milk,” he says. “At the current price of about 30p a litre, that’s £7.5m. We think our wage bill and milk contracts put something in the region of £12m into the local economy. “In a way our company ethos is more of a
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
cooperative style than a hard-nosed capital business. Clearly we are massively interested in profit and need profit to reinvest in the business so we are staunchly capitalist in a way, but we are also very mindful of what we need to make the business work.” Within Wensleydale Creamery’s 230 employees is the 40-strong team employed by the visitor centre in the picturesque town it calls home. This brings in around 250,000 people every year, although Hartley is expecting an increase this year as an estimated 5 per cent of Londoners head for the countryside when the Olympic circus roll into town in July. As a product with ancestral lineage all the back to the Norman era or, according to some historians, to the days of Roman Empire, Wensleydale is almost as old as the hills surrounding its spiritual home in Hawes. From the outside looking in, this is an industry that is unchanging, non-progressive and risk-averse. Far away from the cyber-din that engulfs city-based businesses, here live the Yorkshire cheese makers frozen in time doing as their forefathers did before them. Or so BQ thought before Hartley opened his doors to a sector as fast-paced, fickle and challenging as just about anything in the retail, technology or fashion space. “We are always innovating on the way we do things,” Hartley says as he explains how the business benchmarks against – and strives to beat – the competition. Granted, traditional methods have survived the passage of time. And few managing directors have as green and pleasant a journey to the office as Hartley on his 15-mile daily
commute through the Dales. But make no mistake; this is a modern business as equally reliant on spotting new trends as a high street clothing empire or tech firm. Hartley and his team are constantly monitoring shifts in demand from the consumer’s palate and applying its findings to its hugely important blended cheeses division. “You have to put together flavours that actually work from the outset. Then it’s about getting the proportions right. We ask ourselves how sweet it should be, how savoury, whether it should be spicy, if so should it be mild or hot pepper. So you’ve got to do a lot of work and then look at the market and benchmark what’s there and see where there’s a gap and try and pitch in. It can also be incredibly collaborative with individual retailers that might be looking for particular attributes. Cranberries are a very important part of what we do and make up 30 per cent of our cheese business. There are lots of wacky ideas in the market that don’t always work. Our range includes apricot, ginger and Peruvian ginger for the Australian market. They really do work and we generate some really good sales.” Such sales helped the group to a 200 per cent year-on-year increase in mail order business in the crucial festive trading period last year. Having just closed the book on Wensleydale’s 2011/12 financial period, meanwhile, Hartley is expecting an increase of between 6 to 8 per cent in overall annual sales this year, taking revenues to around £22m. Profits, however, will remain “pretty flat.” “It’s been quite a challenging year in terms of cost increases and milk price inflation. It’s our key raw material and puts us under >>
This is an industry as fast-paced, fickle and chellenging as just about anything in retail, technology or fashion
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
enormous pressure. Like lots of other businesses, there’s the cost inflation on fuel, distribution and other price increases throughout. I think it’s difficult to recover that. “I think the challenge for the business is to manage costs even more rigourously than we have been doing. I have taken quite a bit of cost out in the last 12 months and I think we’ve got to look at it in even more detail. Which parts of the business can we lose and which can we afford not to do because the margins aren’t necessarily there?” This is not to say that investment and expansion are on hold. Hartley is currently looking to raise up to £6m in new finance – through various sources – to fund a mass restructuring project at the company. Currently the group makes cheese at Hawes and an additional site 33 miles away in Kirkby Malzeard . Hartley intends to raise enough investment to shift the firm’s entire cheese making operations to Hawes and bring other duties such as packing together at its secondary site. “At the moment it’s a bit disjointed and there’s good reason to do it, we just need to work out exactly how. “We want to promote a cheese making facility that is modern and traditional so it satisfies all of the standards, all the good manufacturing practices that any modern consumer will be comfortable with and yet we still retain all the traditional hand crafted values that we’ve had for so long. “It feels like the right thing to do and we’ll end up with a more efficient system and a better flow through the business. “Hopefully if we can time it with an upturn in economic conditions, we can be on the front foot,” he says. Meanwhile, exports have held up well in recent years, with Hartley seeing evidence of new opportunities emergiung in the Far East market in particular. “We did a trade show last year in Shanghai and we are getting quite a bit of interest from parties in the UK who export food to China,” he says. “There is also tangible interest in the Hong Kong market, where our premium cheese is already sold. “We’ve got good distribution routes in
America but there’s still a lot of potential for us over there and in Canada.” Much of Wensleydale’s success is intrinsically linked to its association as a traditional product of Yorkshire. A Visit York poll, which surveyed 4,000 people throughout the UK in 2010, labelled Wensleydale as Yorkshire’s third most cherished export behind puddings and tea. Such national adulation, says Hartley, warrants recognition from Europe that only cheese made in Wensleydale’s spiritual home is the genuine article. His battle to achieve Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the European lawmakers is not done yet. He oversaw the creation of a 14,000-strong petition, as part of a local media campaign, which was delivered directly to Richmond MP William Hague in support of giving Yorkshiremade Wensleydale the same kudos as Melton Mowbray pies and Gorgonzola. Today, although there are still hoops to jump through before official recognition is signed and sealed, the end goal is in sight. With only 44 per cent of Wensleydale cheese on supermarket shelves actually being produced by the Hawes creamery, it’s little wonder that Hartley is so determined to see the legal wrangling through to completion – not least to fight back against rival cheese makers. But surely a Wensleydale truckle by any other name would taste as good? Not so, says Hartley. “Of the main territorial cheeses there are, it will become one of only three that has
protected food name status. It is protecting the heritage and giving customers the confidence that they are buying Wensleydale that’s actually made in Wensleydale. “People are really interested in the Wensleydale story; they understand it and they are interested in whether it is the genuine article or not.” If, as expected, Wensleydale is given PGI status by Brussels, no other producers of the crumbly cheese will be permitted to claim to be made in Yorkshire. Recognition as the only thoroughbred cheese of its kind on supermarket shelves looks certain to bolster its marketing credentials. But let’s not forget the unfading power of its two most famous ambassadors; Wallace & Gromit. Grinning man and eye-rolling dog have been champions of the cheese ever since Wallace pondered whether the moon was made of Wensleydale before he embarked on his first adventure with his four-legged friend. By the time they came to the second chapter in 1995, A Close Shave, Wensleydale was declared their favourite cheese and reports at the time charted a genuine spike in sales of the cheese at the firm which was then struggling for survival. This eventually prompted an official commercial tie-in and the pair continues to adorn and market the product to this day. Having been to the moon, battled robot dogs and fought off mutant rabbits, perhaps the warmth and tranquillity of Hawaii will provide welcome respite for the duo. n
There are still hoops to jump through before official recognition is signed and sealed but the end goal is in sight
Go online to read a special report on Yorkshire’s most successful exporters and the challenges they face in maintaining their market share overseas. www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
What women want now Women don’t need quotas or leg-ups into the boardroom, says Heather Jackson whose fastgrowing organisation has transformed the corporate equality debate. Here she tells Andrew Mernin about the risks, break-ups and challenges which shaped her pioneering approach to business
Waiting anxiously for a meeting which will make or break her business, Heather Jackson ponders what she’s risked to get to this point. She’s walked out on a £100,000-plus salary by shelving her flourishing consultancy and jeopardised the accompanying comfortable life for her and her two young children. She’s put her house on the line, having remortgaged it to fund this latest foray as an entrepreneur. Then there’s her reputation. “They thought I was a sandwich short of a picnic,” she says of the derision she faced from sceptical peers in the Yorkshire business community. In the bank is just enough money to pay her only employee one month’s wages. Beyond that failure looks almost certain for a business that’s leaking money on a daily basis. “He didn’t know I was a month away from packing it in and getting back to the real world,” she says. ‘He’ was the chief executive of corporate banking at RBS and he was about to change her life. “I walked out of that meeting with a three-year sponsorship deal that enabled me to grow the team very quickly and within seven months we had 29 global companies working for us, representing 4,000 women.” Jackson is the founder of An Inspirational Journey, a Leeds-based national organisation now backed by RBS which aims to redress the gender balance in boardrooms without enforced quotas. Its pioneering approach steers clear of giving women a head start in business or putting men at a disadvantage and has, in a short space of time, won it the support of some of the UK’s biggest corporations. It has also propelled Jackson into the national spotlight as the go-to girl within media and >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
ENTREPRENEUR political quarters on equality in business issues. She even has the Prime Minister on her side – with a letter to prove it. Her argument is based on simple principals: businesses with a gender balanced boardroom have been proven to perform better than those without. Also, many of the perceived barriers to women in climbing the corporate ladder no longer exist. There is, it recognises, a pressing need to educate women that there is no glass ceiling and that they can and should apply for executive level roles. “We need to accept that women and men are different and we shouldn’t expect women to act like men. The world economy needs women to be women and men to be men,” Jackson says. Her rise to prominence in the recent years has been rapid to say the least, with international expansion now beckoning for her firm. But if risk taking, stubbornness and a very strong male role model hadn’t played their part in her own journey, the corporate equality debate might never have made the meaningful progress it has of late. As a teenager, Jackson looked to have a future as an eminent musician. At 13 she won a place at music school thanks to her prowess in classical guitar and even performed in front of leading lights like composer John Williams and Spanish virtuoso Segovia. “I was technically good but my passion and enthusiasm weren’t there. It was a good time but I was doing something that I was making myself good at rather than being naturally good at.” Jackson’s father is the hugely successful watercolour artist Ashley Jackson whose works are synonymous with Yorkshire and have been exhibited worldwide, adorning the walls of the rich, famous, royal and even a certain Mr Clinton. “I always put my father on a pedestal and believed if I became a famous guitarist he’d have more respect for me as a person because of his art but actually I realised he’d love and respect me whatever I did. I had been chasing the wrong dream.” Her father’s success did, however, give her the opportunity to grow up in an environment rich in creativity, colour and light. “His mentor was LS Lowry so I was brought up in the art world and had a fabulous life where
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
I had to prove I could do it. They said I was being a very selfish woman and having a midlife crisis but there was something driving me forward I was meeting unique, talented people. “We weren’t wealthy but I was very wealthy in terms of the experience and the people I met; the entrepreneurs, the artists, musician, actors and business people.” She recalls how Lowry, just after selling a painting for what was a vast sum at the time, despondently told her father that he felt like a racehorse that had just won its race. And this notion of being out of control of one’s own success seems to have been something she has strived to avoid throughout her career. “My father never had an agent, he was always master of his own ship and he brought me up on that idea.” By the time Jackson’s father called her up unexpectedly to ask her to work for him, her ship had spent several years sailing through the retail sector, before following the coast north to Newcastle to study retail marketing. It had also charted the farthest reaches of the globe to New Zealand where a backpacking Jackson was picked up by a fashion designer
who enlisted the Holmfirth lass to assist with a number of store launches for 18 months. “My father called me up and said: ‘If you can do it for some bugger else, you can do it for me,’ so I did,” she says. “My father had a gallery anyway but we then built a print company, wrote books – with me writing them and him doing the painting – and then we made TV programmes which taught art.” Anyone who remembers watching Pebble Mill at One in the 1980s may recall seeing A Brush with Ashley, which ran nationally for three years, with the artist making various other appearances on Yorkshire Television. As with so many family businesses though, there was an impending conflict which came to a head after 13 years of father and daughter working together. “One day I decided my dad had everything he wanted in life and had reached his aspirations. He had his family around him, his grandchildren, his Aston Martin and children. “I realised I hadn’t fulfilled myself. I had taken
my dad where he wanted to go but I couldn’t go any further. Instead of looking at him as a father I was looking at him as a product and that was the wrong way to do it so I needed to go out and start my own business. “This is the best and worst thing I’ve ever done. The worst thing because it shattered the relationship with my father but the best thing in the sense that I went from having a very privileged life to doing the things I wanted to achieve. It was actually sh*t or bust.” They say the first year in business is always the toughest. But Jackson faced far more pressures than the usual cash flow issues which blight start ups, having split from her husband of eight years at around the same time as the rift with her father caused by her career change. Her ship, it seems, was ready for a new voyage of discovery. “If I think back, I had lived in a life full of gambles. My father had risked the house on a better life and always taken risks for our future but it could have gone either way. “At that time I was leading a very staid life but when you’ve been on a rollercoaster or in a Ferrari it’s very hard to then get in Skoda and drive it along at 20mph. “It was very hard at the time but I had to prove that I could do it. My family and my ex-husband’s family thought I was being a very selfish woman and having a midlife crisis but there was something driving me forward. I was on my own, there’s no doubt about that.” Hungry for success and eager to make her mark in business, Jackson launched Believe Corporate Relations in 2004. The company quickly blossomed and before long Jackson was flying solo with a sizeable income and numerous blue-chip clients like Barclays Wealth, Vidal Sassoon and Northern Rail on her books. The firm was built around its ability to solve problems, but despite its success, there was an underlying problem of its own that needed addressing. “An executive from National Australia Group told me he didn’t know how to introduce me to people. He said: ‘I know when you come into a company you make a difference, but I don’t know what you do,’ and it was then that I realised I still hadn’t found what I was meant to do.” At this time a 2009 BDO Stoy Hayward report
showed that Yorkshire had 16% less women on boards than any other English region. “Yorkshire was low in the league table because Yorkshire was a law unto itself – it has been run by some very successful men and even now we still have what we call the Yorkshire mafia.” Jackson often cites the report as her calling as a champion of harmonious, mixed boardrooms. But there were personal reasons too which fired her up for an onslaught on the old ways of tackling corporate equality. “Everyone believed there was a glass ceiling but there really wasn’t. It’s like the Berlin Wall – it came down a long time ago but it mentally took a while to come down. Women had to accept there was no ceiling. “I also looked at my children who were 10 and 9 at the time and thought how could I ensure they would have the choice and control to do what they wanted. Giving my children the ability to know I was making changes that would benefit them in the long term was the fire in my belly. In 10 years I want to think that no man or woman thinks they can’t get to the top of the corporate tree.” She initially launched an initiative called The Two Percent Club, which aimed to bring together women in Yorkshire already operating at the senior corporate level to encourage collaboration, profile raising and new cross sector opportunities. “Yorkshire was very cynical with what I was doing, really cynical. If I could bring leading women together, firstly they wouldn’t want to network together and secondly, what would it achieve anyway. What it’s achieved is to set women on a drive forward to build something that’s going to be a global model. That came out of cynicism in Yorkshire.” Then came the launch of the Women’s Business Forum. At this stage, with Believe now on the backburner, Jackson set about raising what little funds were available to her and within six months of jotting down her idea on a sheet of A4, she had created a nationally significant
forum. It had even attracted the attention of David Cameron, Jackson explains proudly. “I received a message of support from the Prime Minister and had 500 women come from all over the UK. I wanted to show women that this was a business issue and was no longer about equality or diversity. I was nearly broke by the time I did the first forum but managed to break even on it. “I was still doing the corporate relations company but it was coming time to do one or the other. “I was seriously starting to run out of money but I knew it needed to happen.” The majority of revenue was being driven by the Pearls programme – a membership scheme for women working below the senior level identified within an organisation as having the potential to become a future leader. It was RBS’s decision to get involved with Jackson’s organisations by supporting it with a three-year sponsorship deal that not only saved it from the brink of being wound down but, less than a year down the line, has helped it to become a national player with global potential. Today Jackson’s business has 10 members of staff and four strands – the Women’s Business Forum, Two Percent Club, The Pearls programme and a mentoring scheme known as The 150 Programme. Women from Germany, Spain, France and Italy are all taking advantage of the organisation’s initiatives while plans for spreading the Yorkshire firm’s global reach have also been talked about. Utilities giant Northumbrian Water, engineering design consultancy Atkins Global and transport plc Arriva are among the business behemoths to support its programmes. And so it seems An Inspirational Journey has much unexplored and exciting new ground to cover in the future. Jackson’s own journey, meanwhile, has gone full circle, taking her back to family life in the small town near the Peak District she grew up in and back into the good books of her hero, biggest influence and inspiration, her dad. n
Visit our new website for an in-depth look at the true impact that balanced boardrooms have had on corporate UK. www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
Lab partners: Dr Arron Tolley (right) with Dr David Bunka, co-founders of promising science business, Aptamer Solutions
Proof that patience pays
A science firm forged in the dead of night on a university campus has, after years of relentless hard work, finally made its breakthrough with news of a ÂŁ430,000 funding boost. Andrew Mernin meets Dr Arron Tolley to discover the global potential of Aptamer Solutions
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
Hidden deep in the basement of a Yorkshire terrace for some years was a laboratory which passing folk on their way to the nearby church, library or park were perhaps oblivious to. But there was nothing sinister about this tiny pocket of test tubes, liquids and scientific endeavour concealed amid the chimney pots and old brick of residential Pudsey. The homemade lab in LS28 was not part of some dastardly plot, but was actually built on a desire to help improve medical diagnostics, treatment and research. Although no longer active, it formed the catalyst for one of Yorkshire’s most promising science businesses. Its creator is Dr Arron Tolley who, alongside his business partner Dr David Bunka, is co-founder of Aptamer Solutions. Their story features a long hard slog, personal sacrifice and most definitely not overnight success. It is a fable for would-be entrepreneurs who may be under any illusions about how tough it can be to make it in business – an antidote to the notion that running a globally successful business is anything other than incredibly difficult. The fact that chief executive Tolley has not drawn a wage from the business in four years, for example, serves as a reminder to budding Zuckerbergs of the level of commitment often needed to turn a start up into an empire. “I’ve got a very understanding wife,” he says, explaining how the foundations for the business were entirely self-funded. But Aptamer Solutions also shows that risk does – albeit eventually – follow reward if the business plan is viable, carefully thought out and backed up by unswerving determination. The company’s breakthrough came earlier this year when it won £400,000 worth of Technology Strategy Board-backed funding to support its work on a £2.2m collaborative project that is developing a potentially game changing diagnostics device. It is also celebrating its recent success in an investment competition at the annual enterprise event Venturefest, in York, for which it landed a £29,000 package of support from local businesses. The firm produces molecular substances called aptamers which can be used to replace antibodies in life sciences research into areas
In the next five to seven years the device will enter a market believed to be worth £50m in the UK alone such as diagnostics, therapeutics, biomarker discovery and nanotechnology. The company is now on the verge of a move to a “bigger, better” location near York and is confidently awaiting news of a number of tender bids spread across the UK as it rapidly emerges from the R&D stage into the commercial market. It started life in 2008 when two studious scientists crossed paths at a deserted Leeds University coffee lounge in the early hours of the morning. “I met David while I was working on my PhD. We both regularly worked very late into the
night and because we were the only people left in the building we’d go for coffee breaks together and got chatting about what he did. At the time he was a post-doc and when I was having problems with my work, he’d help me through them and became a mentor to me.” Tolley’s commercial expertise, gained from a past career as a sales manager in the construction industry, quickly fused with Bunka’s research in aptamers to form a promising business plan. “David had been working on aptamers for 10 years and as soon as I understood what they were and what they did, I was extremely >>
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
There’s a huge market out there for the simple detection of molecules that antibodies can’t detect interested in working with them. He didn’t have any experience in the commercial area being a pure academic so I said I would set the company up and do the due diligence.” The company also needed to create some intellectual property so Tolley built a lab in his basement – an undertaking which spanned three years given the time taken to save up for expensive components. The 34-year-old, who left school with no formal qualifications at 16, still insists he is not an academic despite a mature student’s degree in molecular medicine from Wolverhampton University and a PhD in biophysics and
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
structural biology from the University of Leeds. The Midlander does, however, have an eye for an untapped commercial territory. Although hugely lucrative, the aptamer market is relatively sparsely populated by suppliers. On a global scale Tolley reckons there are a mere 10 to 15 firms currently active in the industry. The antibody market is entirely different, with around 400 players all battling it out for a share of the estimated US$67bn market. But since “aptamers can do things better than antibodies,” according to Tolley, there is much room for growth and certainly enough demand for a small Yorkshire start-up
to live out its considerable ambitions. “Aptamers will increasingly take a larger chunk of the antibody market in the coming years,” he says. “Antibodies are made in animals and are ubiquitous in the life sciences industry. They are used in areas ranging from R&D in the lab to the active component in pregnancy kits and to deliver chemotherapies specifically to cancer cells. There’s quite a broad spectrum of things that antibodies can be used for and aptamers can not only do what antibodies do, but can also work in areas where antibodies don’t function properly and often do what antibodies do better. “For example, if you wanted to detect toxic substances in urine samples, some antibodies can’t be generated as you can’t inject an animal with a toxic substance in the first place to get an antibody. “However, aptamers, are made in a lab and because of this we can tightly regulate the conditions and get them to stick to molecules that antibodies can’t stick to. There’s a huge market out there for the simple detection of molecules that antibodies can’t detect.” Although Aptamer Solutions is still waiting for certain patent-related processes to unfold and for several leads to turn into full blown contracts, the future is certainly bright for the firm. Having been self-funded for the past four years, the company now has a supportive private investor within its ranks. A standout achievement is its ongoing involvement in a £2.2m collaborative project with electronics titan Sharp, the University of Southampton and UK technology group Oxford Instruments. Buoyed by £400,000 in funding, Tolley and Bunka will develop the aptamers to be used in a new handheld device which will detect respiratory diseases. “The funding has been key to us in climbing to the next level. “A company of our size could never have afforded to do this level of R&D on our own and the Technology Strategy Board assistance has been invaluable in giving us a push forward,” says Tolley. “The project and funding have opened up great opportunities for us and will greatly assist us in the undertaking of cutting edge
R&D that could give our company a global presence. The device will enable doctors to take a quick blood sample and measure markers for respiratory diseases and tell whether a patient has had an asthma or heart attack, for example. “It could also be used by parents at home to monitor children suffering from severe asthma attacks and to check whether their medication is working.” The device is expected to enter a market which is believed to be worth around £50m in the UK alone, within five to seven years. Tolley is keen to explore other applications for the device, such as the detection of tuberculosis, although he admits further funding would be needed to exploit such potential opportunities. Meanwhile, another major milestone for the firm has been the £29,000 it has received in February as part of the Venturefest Yorkshire 2012 event – which saw five firms compete in an investment competition in the backdrop of an innovation exhibition at York Racecourse. The company, which Tolley says has always been conservative in its commercial targets, was chosen as the business most likely to fulfil the aims of its business plan. Unlike many investment competitions, however, the prize does not come in cold hard cash, but through contracts with professional services suppliers. It includes the essentials – like legal advice worth £2,500 from Nabarro and £3,000 of accountancy services from Atkinsons – to important luxuries which are out of reach of many start-ups, such as sizeable PR and business development coaching contracts. “The prize has been really useful because it covers every possible variable and has allowed us to restructure the business.” Taking on new employees, forays into Asia and the US and broadening its portfolio of aptamers all beckon for the business in the not so distant future. In the meantime Tolley’s personal lab has been packed into boxes awaiting the move into the company’s new residence at Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire. Now perhaps, after years of toil, endurance and faith in his business plan, Tolley can finally treat himself to a salary. n
Where to venture next? Just as the companies it showcases display a great ability to innovate and adapt to market trends, Venturefest Yorkshire is itself moving with the times. The annual expo of inspiring science and technology firms this year enabled 30 regionally-based businesses to promote their new ideas. Among the highlights at York Racecourse were Aptamer Solutions’ success in the £29,000 investment competition and Leeds-based technology and consultancy The Test People’s receipt of the £12,000 Innovation Showcase award. But after spending six years as project manager of the event, Chris Wilson believes the time has come to refresh its format in response to feedback from the Yorkshire business community. “Next year will be the tenth year of the event in Yorkshire,” he says. “There is a core of people that are absolutely enthusiastic about the event being repeated in whichever format. “But like any business we need to listen to our customers and perhaps come up with a new innovative offer. Some people have said it has become too much about business to business so we’re going to strip it right back to what it was originally intended to do, which is a festival of venture capital investment and innovative approaches. “There will be more investment pitches, a larger innovation showcase and a lot more growing and innovative companies exhibiting. “We’ll see a lot more innovative solutions to everyday problems.” According to Wilson, the exhibitors at this year’s event reflected the ongoing rise of 3D printing technology, mobile apps and commercially viable social networking tools. Next year, he says, green technology, cloud computing and robotics are all likely to feature highly.
Visit our new website for a special report on how business incubators for science start-ups are changing in line with market conditions. www.bq-magazine.co.uk/yorkshire
BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 12
BIT OF A CHAT
owned the Penrhos Court Brewery in Herefordshire, was the driving force behind the anniversary beer. “At first, we didn´t have a name for it, so I just called it Mr Creosote´s Ale. You know, he had one too many wafer-thin mints...”
>> Let’s hear it for the men
with Frank Tock >> Straight from the heart There is nothing like hearing it from one who knows. Myself and the young lad are currently learning to scuba dive, so I was interested to discover this month that Victoria Hopkins was once a scuba diving instructor. Now that her intense work on the company seems largely over, and as her daughter grows up, is she tempted to go back into the deep? She shakes her head. “I think about it, but I am just too scared.” Even though you used to be an instructor, I venture? “That’s exactly why I am scared,” she says.“I know what can go wrong.” Enough said. I mentally tear up my scuba club membership.
>> Seventh python If George Best was known as The Fifth Beatle, it wouldn´t have been unfair to refer to now retired Black Sheep head brewer Paul Ambler as The Seventh Python. He delighted in all of a brewer´s eccentricities (they´re a rare breed), coupled with an acute sense of humour marinated in an encyclopaedic knowledge of Monty Python´s Flying Circus. For example, to mark the 30th anniversary of television´s most anarchic comedy series in 1999, he developed Monty Python´s Holy Gr-ale, which he claimed had been “Tempered Over Burning Witches”. At the time he said: “It has a very, very pronounced hop flavour and citrus character, with more hops than a killer rabbit.” He also claimed Python Terry Jones, who
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
Women’s Business Forum’s Heather Jackson is on a mission to get women in high places. Her heroes, then, are surely the likes of Hilary Clinton or, closer to home, perhaps Karen Brady or Debora Meaden. Er, not so. The business leader that impresses her most? “Richard Branson.”
comedian and actor Brendan Healy and Kevin Jones, described as a “celebrated heart surgeon and after dinner speaker.” Now there is an interesting mix of jobs.
>> Just a trifling sum There are some companies out there for whom the loss of £230,000 would probably be a death knell. But Leeds marketing agency Brass is not one of them. In March Kay Fearnley, the company’s former accounts clerk, was convicted of stealing that amount of money from the firm over the course of the nine years she worked there to fund her gambling habit. But almost immediately the company issued a statement saying such a loss “does not affect our financial position, and nor will it affect us adversely in the future.” There is obviously more money in marketing than a lot of people – including some marketing agencies themselves – like to make out.
All smiles: BBC presenter Harry Gration and Jacquie Cross of the Leeds Children’s Hospital Appeal toast the success of the fundraiser with organisers Andrew Walls (back left) and Chris Silverwood of Ethos Corporate Finance
>> Abl pays out… Well done to all those involved in asset based lending in the region for helping to raise money for a much needed charity. The inaugural Asset Based Lending Charity Dinner managed to raise £15,000 for the Leeds Children’s Hospital Appeal. The event was organised by Ethos Corporate Finance. Partner Chris Silverwood said: “The asset based lending market has grown rapidly over the past few years. The event was a great way to bring everyone together for the first time to share news about the sector, as well as raise much needed funds for a fantastic cause that needs as much help as possible.” The event was hosted by Look North presenter Harry Gration, but also included
Feet on the ground: Helen Gott and Stephanie Dunderdale of Clarion after their 15,000ft skydive
>> …As lawyers fall And well done too to Helen Gott and Stephanie Dunderdale, two associates from law firm Clarion in Leeds, who have managed to raise £1,650 for St Gemma’s Hospice by doing a sponsored sky dive. The event included a one-minute freefall when the pair were plunging at 120mph. Luckily nothing went wrong, but it would make for an interesting insurance claim if you were unlucky enough to be down below. “Cause of damage/injury: hit by flying lawyer.”
bq-magazine.co.uk - more than just a magazine, when and where you want it.
The indispensible online companion to Business Quarter Yorkshire in print, bq-magazine.co.uk aggregates all our magazine editorial interviews and multi-regional content onto a single website for ease of reference. Regularly updated, bq-magazine.co.uk allows 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 weâ€™ll also keep in touch with our regular BQMobile 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 bq-magazine.co.uk could benefit you and your business contact the sales team at room501 publishing on 0191 5375720 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
APRIL 5 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking. Leeds United Football Ground, 7.30-9.30am. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk. 11 The Met Club – Yorkshire’s own networking club. Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Leeds, 5.30-7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622 19 The Met Club Futures –launch of new club for under-35s. Ford & Warren, Leeds, 8.00-10.00am. For more details ring 01423 525622 18 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch. Mercure, York Fairfield Manor, 12.00-2.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk. 19 Visit York Tourism Business Master Class. Ron Cooke Hub, University of York. For more details ring 01904 554457. 19 The Met Club – Yorkshire’s own networking club. Cedar Court Grand, York, 5.30-7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622
22 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking. Grange Hotel, York, 7.30-9.00am. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk 23 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Road Show. Talbot Hotel, Malton, 4.30-6.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk 25 The Met Club Harrogate Networking Lunch. White Hart Hotel, Harrogate, 12.00-1.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622 29 The Met Club York Networking Lunch. Hotel due Vin, York, 12.001.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622 29 Leeds and Bradford Chambers Construction Lunch. Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, 12.00-2.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk 30 Yorkshire Business Market, organised by Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce. Pavillions of Harrogate. To register visit www.yorkshirebusinessmarket.org
20 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Forum. HSBC, York, 9.00-11.00am. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
24 Leeds Media & techmesh social. La Tasca, Leeds, 5.30-8.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
7 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking. Leeds United Football Ground, 7.30-9.30am. For more details visit www. yourchamber.org.uk
25 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch. Crown Spa Hotel, Scarborough, 12.00-2.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
13 The Met Club – Yorkshire’s own networking club. Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Leeds, 5.30-7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622
14 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch. Best Western Monkbar Hotel, York, 12.00-2.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
1 - 5 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Eco Fair. Leeds United Football Ground, 8.00am-4.00pm. For more details visit www. yourchamber.org.uk
19 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Property Forum. Leeds, venue tbc, 5.00-7.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
3 Visit York Tourism Business Master Class. Drax Power Station. For more details ring 01904 554457
20 The Met Club – Yorkshire’s own networking club. Yo Yo Restaurant, Bradford, 5.30-7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622
9 The Met Club – Yorkshire’s own networking club. Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Leeds, 5.30-7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622
21 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Golf Day. Rudding Park Harrogate, 12.00-9.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
9 Techmesh Cloud Computing. Hilton York, 5.30-8.30pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk 11 The Met Club Harrogate Ladies Lunch. White Hart Hotel, Harrogate, 12.00-2.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525622 15 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Ladies Evening in Leeds. Create, Leeds, 6.00-8.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk 17 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch. Merchant Taylors’ Hall, York, 12.00-2.00pm. For more details visit www.yourchamber.org.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 12
25 The Met Club Harrogate Breakfast Meeting. White Hart Hotel, Harrogate, 8.30am-10.00am. For more details ring 01423 525622 Please check with the 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 know of them.
The diary is updated daily online at www.bq-magazine.co.uk
It’s the bottom line that counts. So we know that you need your people focused on driving the business onwards and upwards. That’s why with SystemCare you know your IT is working hard. Working hard for your team. Monitoring. Troubleshooting. Fixing. Reporting. Providing security. Maximising productivity. When you need information, SystemCare delivers direct to your inbox. And it’s backed by hundreds of technicians at the TSG Operations Centres throughout the country. If you already have SystemCare, it’s time to think about an upgrade. If you don’t, it’s time you caught up with the next generation of IT. www.tsg.com
When IT works you notice the difference IT makes
The future of IT Support
SystemCare just got even better
New to SystemCare is Live Connect - this technology allows our experts to connect to your system and troubleshoot problems in the background, leaving you to get on with your work.
More monitoring – over 100 elements of your system More reporting – over 40 reports available More automated fixes – over 100 scripts
Use your smartphone to scan this code and find out more.
Audit • Tax • Advisory
Fresh thinking. At Grant Thornton, we’ve always gone about our business in a very different way. Delivering a bespoke service to all our clients is our primary concern and we won’t offer you or your clients an ‘off the shelf’ financial and tax solution. Far from it. Our advisers take the time to understand a client’s individual circumstances and aspirations. We believe it’s important to provide flexibility to meet our clients’ needs, to tailor our solutions accordingly and to dedicate the right people to the job in hand. For further information on our services or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact: Jonathan Riley Office Senior Partner T 0113 200 1542 E firstname.lastname@example.org
grant-thornton.co.uk ©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 grant-thornton.co.uk
Published on Oct 8, 2013