BQ2 Yorkshire Special Report

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In association with

BUSINESS QUARTER Yorkshire: Spring 2016


Culture power

How the UK’s City of Culture programme will change Hull



Humber LEP chief on revitalising a region

Live debate

Business leaders discuss Humber’s economic future

















Interview with Martin Green, CEO of 2017 City of Culture programme

A look at some of the region’s capital investment projects

Mark Jones head of economic development has big plans

Is it all about City of Culture and renewables?

The chair of Humber Bondholders wants to attract the world

A look at caravan maker Swift Leisure

Working together will secure the future for the Humber region


Interviewing the chief executive of the Humber LEP


The sense of excitement, self-belief, partnership, collaboration and urgency is palpable around the Humber. You can tell that the people who live here and the businesses which trade here have had enough of waiting. They want to secure the future of their region for the long term, with or without devolution. In the context of its illustrious history, the time the estuary region has to return to global prominence is short. As the spotlight shines on the surge in renewables, via Siemens and Dong, and the rise of digital activity and then sweeps across towards the City of Culture in 2017, there is no better opportunity to make an indelible mark. Santander’s timing is perfect. This BQ report will record the major achievements of the key players in the Hull and Humberside area just as confidence is rising to a new high alongside an awareness that there is a once-in-a lifetime legacy to be created, nurtured and exploited. Perhaps it is being generous to say that this magazine marks the middle of a ten-year window of opportunity here. The last five years leading up to the start of the Culture year have been so very impressive with new firms, new sectors and new investment putting the Hull pin firmly back on the map. Then Martin Green’s team will deliver 365 days of achievement, excitement and wonder – and then comes the legacy. Humberside is up for the fight. But it knows it will need every ounce of energy and commitment from tens of thousands of people to define what the legacy can produce for the following five years (or 10, or 20, or 30) and how to make sure it delivers. Events this year and next need to bring jobs and major new projects along with the TV cameras and visitors. As an employer, investor and supporter, Santander is at the very centre of the determination Hull has to make the most of this. The BQ headlines of 2022 will record the game-changing events that turned a city around and made it proud again. Mike Hughes, editor, BQ Yorkshire In association with

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room501 Publishing Ltd, Spectrum 6, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, SR7 7TT. Business Quarter (BQ) is a leading national business brand recognised for celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship. The multi-platform brand currently reaches entrepreneurs and senior business executives across the North East, Scotland, Yorkshire and the West Midlands. BQ has established a UK wide regional approach to business engagement reaching a highly targeted audience of entrepreneurs and senior executives in high growth businesses both in-print, online and through branded events. All contents copyright © 2016 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 profiles are paid for advertising. All information is correct at time of going to print, March 2016.


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Jonathan Thompson, Santander’s regional director across South Yorkshire and the Humber, says the bank is helping shape an exciting and powerful future for the area

We can be the catalyst of confidence


Five years ago we established a corporate and commercial banking team from a standing start in the region and have grown to a full time team of eight supported by a wider array of credit and product specialists as well as a strong retail and business banking team across Hull and the Humber. We always saw this as an investment in the future of the region which was clearly ready for growth. It was a very positive decision to take in 2010-11 and the outcome has been our team’s strong growth over the last five years as well as the region’s own soaring success. Even when we were planning the significant investment in our new premises on Humber Quays it was on a backdrop of enhanced prominence for the whole Hull and the Humber region in the UK landscape. The amazing City of Culture title will add to that, and bring positive impacts from across the country, and will be the catalyst for shifting attitudes. Just as we have experienced already at Santander this surge of support and confidence will draw in specific investment that can change the face of the region. This is an important time in this remarkable part of the country, and one theme that came out of our dinner event with BQ which is reported later in this magazine is how that stimulus needs to be sustained and wrapped into the longer term vision for the region. We are here to play a key role locally, the bank also recognise the boost this will give to the wider economy and the effect it will have for the future prospects of regions across the whole country. Santander is here for the long term to support businesses and help realise their growth aspirations, be that on the international or domestic scene. Our Breakthrough programme, and in particular our growth capital fund is evidence of our determination to support the growth journey of local businesses at home and abroad.


“The number of businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber exporting goods and services last year grew by 21% to more than 13,900”

We see ourselves as a natural collaborator for ambitious, internationally minded businesses, be those importers and or exporters, and we have some unique capabilities like Trade Club and Trade Portal, which complement our international reach which naturally comes with being part of the Santander group. The potential of the region to be a major player globally was emphasised recently when Santander analysed the latest ONS figures and showed that the number of businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber exporting goods and services last year grew by 21% to more than 13,900. That is the second highest figure in the UK and proves the crucial role exporting can play in the growth strategies of firms of all sizes, and the importance of working with a bank like Santander which has such longestablished international experience. We want to support ambition and help take the Hull and Humber vision to an international level by building great relationships across all sectors. We work with all areas of business from traditional sectors to cutting-edge tech specialists, but if you look at the sort of people we work with, they are growing companies who share our vision of how important this region is to the regional and national economy. As we play our part, we will help them employ more people and play an even bigger role in the area. Across our business from the earliest days we wanted to build an influential presence around relationships and local connectivity. In the Humber region, we knew we needed to have

local teams of directors within the towns and cities we wanted to grow in. And that has now been mirrored across the UK, with high quality relationships which can be seen at their very best in the Hull and Humber franchise. Our aim is to support the most significant events in corporate life, be that starting up, investing for growth, reaching out into new, maybe international markets or providing financial support for acquisitions or shareholder reorganisations. Our relationship approach, with a local, named point of contact for any business, enables us to operate effectively and in a joined up manner across different products and jurisdictions. We keep it simple, with our local relationship team acting as the primary point of contact for all our customers, empowered by global reach of the Santander group. This BQ2 report will show how unique and powerful this area is, and how perfectlypositioned it is for investment and growth. Santander is at the very core of that potential, working closely with the businesses who will help it become reality. n Lending is subject to status and lending criteria. Santander Trade Portal is provided and managed by Export Enterprises S.A. Santander provides access to its corporate and business customers but is totally unrelated to the database contents, which are the responsibility of Export Enterprises S.A.



Martin Green, the man behind Hull’s UK City of Culture programme for 2017, talks about the life-changing effect it will have on the region

The power of culture: Changing the culture of a whole city Poet Philip Larkin’s summary of Hull describes the place where he was a university librarian as “a city that is in the world yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance.” That sense of place – a mix of independence and inclusion – is the perfect backdrop for Martin Green’s job. As CEO and director of the city’s 2017 City of Culture programme, he has to harness both elements and make the residents as awe-struck as the hundreds of thousands of visitors a wealth of events will attract. “I have had great friends in Hull for many years and knew the city, so the idea of living and working in a city that was seeking to change was enormously attractive,” he tells BQ in his team’s offices at Pacific Exchange. “What I didn’t realise at first was that I was coming to the North at a time when it was the place to be. With the Northern Powerhouse conversation going on and being in the east of the North has been a real pleasure. “I am passionate about how culture changes places, so when the call came asking if I would like to come to Hull and run the capital of culture, I think I said ‘yes’ before they got to the end of the sentence because it said everything

I wanted.” His obvious passion for the place as much as the project fills the room. Sport can transform a city, new businesses can transform a city, and investment and jobs have to be a part of any plan. But culture gets to the very roots of what the people are about, how they have created and then changed where they live and, crucially, how committed they are to looking after Hull’s future. “I knew it had potential for real change, and when I met the city council I knew they were trying to take this city into its next chapter with some speed and with some aplomb,” says Martin. “I saw the bid and knew that part of what we would be doing here would be setting a blueprint – our egos tells us that in 40 years’ time they will be saying ‘do it like this because that is how Hull did it’. “In the next 40 years the City of Culture will change ten cities. When you look at it on that scale it gets really interesting. We haven’t even done it yet, but over the last two years you can see the physical changes here.” That amount of confidence and foresight is challenging for a city that has struggled to

realise how remarkable it is. But the ambition of the council to aim for THAT guy to do the job – the man who ran the breathtaking 2012 Olympic opening ceremony – speaks volumes. Hull believes in itself again. “When they started the bidding process, only 20% of people were behind it but by the time they entered the bid that figure was up to 80%. One of the things I am most pleased about is that we have managed to keep that faith,” he explains. “The legacy of events like the Olympics, the Tour de France and the Commonwealth Games has proved to the country that these things work and that the British are rather good at them. “People will now come along with you because they understand a bit more about the journey. There will still be people who are waiting for proof and I totally understand that, but the grants programme opens soon and then the volunteer programme and before Easter we will start talking about one or two of the major projects and in the summer we will do some warm-up work.” One of the early events this year was the launch of a Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Business Club partnership aimed at significantly expanding


networks and opportunities and attracting the all-important support from a revitalised business community. It was there that Lord Mandelson added his own powerful backing, saying: “You don’t have to look far to see the progress that is being made towards the transformation of this city. With less than one year to go until Hull becomes UK City of Culture 2017, the impact of the title and its associated economic benefits are plain to see. Hull is undergoing a period of rediscovery that is bringing jobs and investment to the region. It is now up to all sectors to continue working together to make the most of every opportunity that Hull 2017 brings.” Those sentiments, putting rediscovery alongside investment, dovetail perfectly with Martin Green’s philosophy. “There is no better symbol of a city going through change than it being a temporary building site,” he says. “Cities like this go up and down socially and economically and that can engender a certain lack of belief and one of the great things this project has already done for Hull is build confidence – and confident cities can do what they like. Legacy is often about bricks and mortar, but it is also memories, confidence and pride and the country has got increasingly better at that legacy. “Every decision we take about 2017 answers the question ‘and then what happens?’.


“There is no point in having jobs in a city if no one wants to live and work there. The cultural fabric is what makes a city an attractive place to live, work, study and invest and that detail is where my team comes in”

“For instance, all our venues are adopting the same ticketing solution and putting it up in the Cloud so we can share data for the future. Cities have been trying to do that for ten years, but we did it in three months because of the will of the city to make it happen. “We will also look at the database of volunteers and see how we can pair them up with organisations across the city. And we operate a programme called ‘Performance, Residency, Legacy’, which means anyone who does something for 2017 has to come and do their thing, performance, tell us where their team is staying for three months, residency and tell us what you will be leaving behind, legacy, which can be a thing, an idea or a promise to return. Martin’s work is very much spread between short-term, medium-term and long-term goals, from the immediacy of a contract being signed this week to the jobs, apprenticeships and confidence that will be created for years to come. There are ten KPIs he and his team are committed to in their business plan, including

365 days of events The 365-day programme of events will be split into four ‘seasons’, each with a particular theme to tell the full Hull story from beginning to future. ‘Made in Hull’, from January to March, will “shake up the preconceptions and show people what Hull is really made of and the many incredible things Hull has made for the world. From theatre, music and poetry to wind turbines and caravans, Hull has long inspired great ideas, great people and great artists.” Season two goes international with ‘Roots and Routes’ running from April to June, showing how the city and its people are connected to the rest of the world and how the year will lead to long-term partnerships and collaborations. The 2017 team sums it up as “This is a place of migration and transitions; like the tidal movements that govern its rivers, always in constant flux, often buffeted by outside influences beyond its control. In season three ‘Freedom’ sees the city in its summer season. “Hull has always attracted creative risk takers and rule breakers; it is a place that seems to inspire rebellion and freedom of thought, not bound by the conventions of others. This chapter will not only explore the pivotal role Hull played in the emancipation movement, but also a broader interpretation of equality and social justice. Finally, season four from October to the end of the year, will look to the future and explore what might come next.

a million extra visitors in one year, £60m of economic impact, 84 jobs directly in the cultural hospitality sector and 63,000 young people being given the chance to take part in 2017. The stats will be checked by City of Culture partners University of Hull, which is a measure of how important the tangible benefits are to the city. It’s a golden opportunity and everyone is focused on making the most of it. Alongside Martin’s work, the city is developing a 25-30 year plan which will soon involve an events centre in 2018 which will have a 3,500 capacity and the cruise terminal a few years later. This is all the essential Bigger Picture in the Hull ecosystem, but for now the eyes of the city, the country and the world are on Martin Green and his team. “There is no point in having jobs in a city if no one wants to live and work there,” he says. “The cultural fabric is what makes a city an attractive place to live, work, study and invest, and that detail is where my team comes in. Most of them, if not from Hull, are from the North which is absolutely purposeful. “This will never all come out of the mind of one person – I have an extraordinary team of people who blow me away daily with their knowledge, passion and excitement. It is a cumulative act. “I have a great love for what I do and how culture changes places and to see that is happening in Hull is a great joy. But you are never unaware of the faith that has been put in you. “But I don’t work down a pit or in a hospital – I put arts programmes on.” Outside the more celebrated urban giants blinking in the spotlight like London. Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, there has always been an impatient cluster of cities which know they are worthy of the same level of attention and won’t stop trying to persuade others that their time is now. Their voices just need to be loud enough and Martin Green is Hull’s loudspeaker – turned up to 11. n



Tailor-made for success Kishor Tailor, chief executive of the Humber LEP, tells Mike Hughes about the challenges and opportunities for a revitalised region There would be a sharp intake of breath from many seasoned business leaders at the role Kishor Tailor has, to knit together the different factions and authorities that have dominated the headlines and to be seen to be at the forefront of a united and focused region around the Humber. His polite and welcoming approach earns immediate respect and attention, which is a powerful tool in persuading investors that this is not only a place to come to, but a place to stay and build a future. He is a diplomat, working from the LEP ‘embassy’ a few yards from the Humber at Queen Street. Perhaps the challenge of improving tourism provides a good metaphor for his role across the whole area. People will spend a few days visiting areas around Hull, Beverly, Goole and Grimsby, but the trick is to get them to want to stay for a week or a fortnight. So it is with businesses. There is obviously work to be done around the port and in the towns, but Kishor and his team need to create reasons why you would want to commit the future of your firm to this part of the country. But there are hopeful signs that the LEP might be winning the ‘hearts and minds’ campaign. “We have a group of bankers, lawyers and accountants here who help us as our intermediaries with the businesses themselves and provide us with some form of intelligence

on the economy and how the region is performing. “The general view is that there is investment, including from SMEs, because there is a confidence that things are moving. Certainly capital investment, which had been held back since 2008, appears to be back. “And unemployment, which is dropping to one of the lowest rates we have seen, shows that jobs are being created in our economy. “But there is a fragility to that confidence that we must address. There is uncertainty over Europe and what the Government will do there and around the Humber and the Government’s energy policy. Those things seem to be holding people back from saying ‘let’s do it’. “There are also challenges in big industries like steel, with the impact that has in Scunthorpe. Our refining industries aren’t doing too badly, but Government policy will again decide whether they will continue to deliver. “Our focus is all about energy, from what we provide to the UK in the form of gas that is landed here, electricity that is produced here and oil. When you drill down into those you can see the challenges presented by, for example, the Government deciding it wants to get rid of coal-generated electricity when one of our ports is the biggest coal importer. “Also, if the subsidy period for offshore wind was to be extended past 2020 that could have a big effect here on the sector and the jobs

being created.” The effect of this tidal wave of inter-related Government policies crashing into the Humber makes it a microcosm of the country. National decisions matter here, and Kishor’s diplomatic skills are essential to bridge the gap between local and national government and businesses desperate to secure long-term growth. “This is about the confidence of big sectors that are about to come forward like offshore and the industries that come on the back of it. People can see those jobs coming and the opportunities there will be and the confidence fuels the investment. “There is also great potential for growth in our digital sector with the arrival of the C4DI (Centre for Digital Innovation) next door to us in Hull which will help increase the competitiveness of our industries if they adopt the technology. “We want to build on that and we now have the country’s largest allocation of enterprise zones, so we are putting the infrastructure in place for potential investment in the region. There are new sites coming on stream and we are looking at the connectivity of those sites, whether it is transport, flood mitigation or power connectivity, so the sites become competitive.” This forward planning is crucial. The investment enquiries Kishor is dealing with need facilities Now, not the hope of planning permission or an impressive CGI rendering. They want the keys.


There is uncertainty over Europe and what the Government will do there and around the Humber and the Government’s energy policy. Those things seem to be holding people back from saying ‘let’s do it’




So over the last few years Hull has stopped tinkering and debating and has rediscovered its ambition. A flame has been lit and business organisations from one side of the region to the other are playing their part in fanning that flame so that the Humber region becomes a beacon rather than just a short-lived flare. Kishor explains: “What we are seeing – using offshore wind as one example is that the Siemens announcement (building a wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Hull, with 1,000 jobs) brought a glut of enquiries from the likes of Denmark and Germany saying ‘things are happening there – we want to be near you. What have you got to offer?’. “We are also seeing local companies wanting to grow and stay in the region. At sites like Bridgehead, the firms locating there are not all new and from outside the region, they have grown organically here and they want a new site. “We are showing that we are not here for a short-term fix. We want continuing investment in a long-term framework.” That idea of the region being a microcosm of the country surfaces again as Kishor and his team address the skills issue. For older industries that need support for survival and then growth and new industries that need an inexhaustible supply of the keenest young minds, the provision has to be there and has to quickly react to changing needs. “It is a mix of old and new skills and the challenges they represent are two-fold,” says Kishor. “We presume we are not turning out enough people with the right skills, and there also has to be an awareness that the Humber is a place to come and work and stay. “The perception of the place from outside is not very good – so we have to answer the question ‘why would you want to come and work here?’. “So we need to do quite a bit more work in promoting the area to a full spread of sectors. We are a gateway to Europe, but we don’t use that gateway effectively enough. “The freight movement in this country is northsouth. Why don’t we do more East-West to take away some of the costs?” It is obvious from our conversation that the LEP’s ‘to do’ list runs off the boardroom table, out of the office and down the stairs at Wykeland House. But none of it fazes Kishor, who sees

“The perception of the place from outside is not very good – so we have to answer the question ‘why would you want to come and work here?” each point as a challenge rather than an obstacle. Now the early days of the Northern Powerhouse could provide the region with a much-needed boost and a wider feeling that we really are all in this together. “When you look at where it started from – transport – you can see that it was centred around Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. We therefore have been battling to get ourselves onto that agenda,” says Kishor. “We want something out of the Northern Powerhouse, but look at what we bring to it: the gateway to Europe with a ports and logistics sector which works with the freight sector. We will be a net contributor, not a net taker. “If people live here, go and work in Leeds and

spend their money here I would be all for it because that would bring the spend we need and will be a positive if we speed up that social mobility. “I am confident in this place and what I see here. We have pieces falling into place in our jigsaw that show how people are committed to the area and enthusiastic about its future.” That commitment and enthusiasm is just as evident at the LEP as in any business it works with. The letters sum up Kishor’s targets very well. Local. Enterprise. Partnership. As the LEP keeps its eye on all three it will continue to be a major influencer on what this region becomes. n



How the LEP is helping drive growth The Humber LEP is driving growth by supporting partner projects across the region with £58m now committed to 16 projects. Funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund is being invested alongside other public and private sector funding in projects that will help to create an infrastructure that supports growth. Five projects were recently approved with £750,000 released for the A1105 Anlaby Road / Park Street bridge strengthening, a key city centre diversion route for Hull; while Bridlington Integrated Transport Plan Phase 2 will see £5.75m Local Growth Fund go towards further improvements to roads, footpaths and cycle access as well as improvements to parking. Flooding mitigation also featured with the approval of a £3m contribution to the Hull and Holderness Flood Alleviation Scheme, while regeneration projects will see £3m go towards repurposing Hull’s Old Town (currently on site around Holy Trinity church), and more than half a million for an enterprise hub in Scunthorpe’s Westcliff area. The latest approvals will bring the total to be released to almost £20m in 2015/16 with £40m planned for release in 2016/17. The projects which help to deliver the aims of its Strategic Economic Plan are identified by partners and independently assessed before being approved by the Humber Leadership Board and the LEP Board. Ten of the 28 projects from rounds one and two of the five-year Growth Deal are underway, while in the background the LEP is developing a project pipeline to help access more resources. Other projects underway include infrastructure and enabling works in Grimsby town centre to improve highways and the look of the area to unlock a major mixed use development including ‘grade A’ office accommodation, improvements to Humberside International Airport access routes, support to enable the increasing demand for high cube container freight by rail from the South Humber Ports to Doncaster, and a learning centre of excellence for the ports, energy and logistics sectors Modal the first in the UK to offer integrated logistics training when it is completed. Lord Haskins, chair of the Humber LEP board

said: “None of these projects sits in isolation; all are taking place alongside wider public and private investment in regeneration projects, transport schemes, skills provision and Enterprise Zone sites to name just a few. “For example, in Hull, the approval to invest £3m LGF towards improvements to Hull’s Old Town and the planned £4m towards an iconic bridge connecting the city with its waterfront sit alongside other city regeneration all of which will play a central part in the City of Culture 2017 celebrations. “While the investment in skills provision to serve the needs of emerging and existing Humber businesses is supported by the Humber LEP’s employment and skills strategy to address the wider needs of developing a productive and skilled workforce in the Humber. Modal logistics learning hub from project sponsor Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education is one illustration of how we are working with colleges, the University of Hull and specialist training providers to develop facilities, skills and employment support.” The Humber LEP secured £113m LGF in July 2014 to support Humber projects that contributes to a total local investment of £367m across 19 projects. A further £9.9m was secured in January 2015 to develop nine projects on both banks of the Humber, which coupled with the £37m local investment, amounts to just under £47m capital injection.

One SME that has been helped by the LEP’s Growing the Humber programme is creating 10 more jobs. Kirmington-based Agrimin, which manufactures specialist nutritional products for cattle and sheep, needed to invest in new machines and equipment as well as extend its premises to create a 14,000 sq ft warehouse, to help it increase its capacity and productivity. Company secretary Robin Jackson believes that the project, which cost £769,400 and is being supported by a grant of £137,474, is already having a positive impact. He said: “The increased capacity will give the sales team the confidence to reach out to new customers and markets knowing the business can deliver. “Since securing the grant the company has recruited 10 more staff on site and allowed us to bring the testing of raw materials in-house which has improved timeliness – meaning the business is not reliant upon third parties to release product or raw materials.” He adds: “Preparing the application was very good discipline in making the company focus more seriously about where it was going and when it was going to get there. Agrimin secured its grant from the current £4m Growing the Humber programme funded via the Government’s Local Growth Fund and builds on a £30m Regional Growth Fund scheme, administrated by North East Lincolnshire Council. So far Growing the Humber has supported more than 200 businesses with grants that help them to invest in equipment and other capital purchases and create jobs. The current programme runs until 2017 and is anticipated to create 275 jobs and leverage an additional £20m in private sector funding. There is still funding available for SME businesses in the Humber looking to invest in and grow their businesses. n If your business has a project for which it is looking for funding and you are interested in applying for a grant, you can find out more by accessing the Humber LEP’s website at, calling the Humber LEP on 01482 485260 or emailing



Council’s laser-like focus on building a future

Mark Jones, head of economic development at Hull City Council, has inspiring memories of the Port of Hull – and big plans for its future


With around 10,000 businesses dealing with everything from caravans to Yorkshire puddings, Hull City Council has a lot on its plate. But the city has a much wider brief than a Manchester or a Birmingham because this is a port with expectations of global traffic choosing it as the gateway to Britain. It is proud to be the entrance to our country and the council has a huge role in making sure the welcome mat is always out for international trade. Mark Jones, head of Economic Development at Hull City Council, was born and brought up in the city and has passionate views on how vital the port is to the Hull and Humberside region. His first job was importing timber through Alexander Dock, and he retains a lifelong positivity about the area – although he still regrets the loss of the cream phone box on the quayside from where he would ring his first girlfriend. A key part of the future blueprint for the region is Green Port Hull the global vision, shared by Hull City and East Riding councils, Associated British Ports and Hull University, to create a centre for renewable energy, anchored by Siemens’ 1000job wind turbine facility. “Green Port started as a concept in 2007 after we identified the three major areas where we should concentrate our efforts to attract investment and establish growth,” said Mark. “The no-brainer part was to get more value out of the port logistics side, but also renewables along with health and personal care, which we were already working in with Smith & Nephew and Reckitt Benckiser. “Siemens had looked at more than 100 locations worldwide for their facility and announced a year after we launched Green Port in 2010 that they had chosen Hull.” The revitalisation of the port operation and the re-energising of interest and investment is at the top of the council’s list, and Mark wants to make sure that it also helps restore the city’s “sense of place”. “In the early 2000s a lot of cities in the North were reinventing themselves with major regeneration schemes because their purpose had gone – they weren’t shipbuilding anymore and they weren’t making textiles. “For us, there was a sudden dawning that there is a major city here on a major estuary facing

“Siemens had looked at more than 100 locations worldwide for their facility and announced a year after we launched Green Port in 2010 that they had chosen Hull”




Europe and our place was as a port, and port cities don’t get by by taking their own washing in – we have always won our wealth from beyond our borders whether that was port-related or trade-related or in manufacturing. “So we didn’t have to really reinvent ourselves, we were a workaday city that can see how it makes its money.” This combination of inspiration and logic underpins the future of the whole region. Just as sharply as Bill Clinton reminded America that the economy was what mattered, so Hull’s business leaders are pointing to the estuary and saying ‘have you noticed that port? That’s what our future will be built on.’ “Then we were able to build confidence before a big knock of the financial crash of 2008 when we haemorrhaged jobs, 1,000 a month in manufacturing, much more than any other Northern city,” Mark explained. “But we picked ourselves up and stabilised in 2009 and steadily built from the launch of Green Port. Then our City Plan looked at how we could capitalise on not only the port, but our city

“Hull used to have that circle, but it was broken about 20 years ago and now we are pulling all that wiring back together with a huge amount of support and commitment across the board.” centre as well. “What we are doing is not a one-hit wonder – the City Plan goes on to 2023 – but it is not complex. It has created a laser-like focus for the public and private sectors on respecting the heritage here while building a future. It is a statement of intent that will build confidence from investors. “I have a lot of pride and passion in all this, but there is a great story to be told here. We were at the bottom of the league table, but then there things like the major investment from ourselves and Government through the Building Schools for the Future programme, which renewed all our secondary schools, and the LIFT programme for all the health facilities. “So we renewed all the public estate, which

has created a platform for £800m of private investment underway now. I can’t think of another city in the North that has reached that amount. “With projects like Siemens, who want to see a mutual success story, they are working with us to address a future agenda so we can get more local people into skilled Siemens jobs. Then the virtuous circle starts happening because those people spend their money in the city centre. “Hull used to have that circle, but it was broken were about 20 years ago and now we are pulling all that wiring back together with a huge amount of support and commitment across the board.” The depth of that support has not gone unnoticed at Westminster, which has granted Enterprise Zones as a reward, with the latest ones



Hull facts and figures • Around 8,300 businesses of which 4,800 are VAT registered • 80% employ fewer than ten people • 5% of total businesses employ 57% of the working population • Businesses locating to Yorkshire benefit from operating costs up to 20% lower than the UK average • Salary rates in the Humber region are around 14% lower than the national average • The value of the region’s competitive property market is 30 to 50% lower than London • Cost of living is around 40% lower than the national average • In March 2013 Hull topped the table for businesses experiencing the highest level of sales growth • The value of Hull economy in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) is estimated at over £4 billion

“We all meet there with a can-do attitude and just make sure everything goes well, which is a big lesson for other parts of the country.” in the east, west and central areas of the city only being granted towards the end of last year. At almost 500 hectares, the Humber Enterprise Zone where Siemens is based is the biggest in the country and has taken huge advantage of the council’s very flexible Local Development Orders, but there is also remarkable success over at Marfleet, where an 11-acre site developed by Stoneferry Estates is now full. “One of the biggest successes of the Siemens planning consent was that we got all the agencies to work together to meet the timelines,” said Mark. “It is the first time in my experience that this has happened, led by the Single Conversation group on the LEP, chaired by Lord Haskins. We all meet there with a can-do attitude and just make sure everything goes well, which is a big lesson for other parts of the country. “We can now push on from those foundations and one of the things we are very keen to do is

share knowledge to improve local productivity. Reckitt Benckiser are already under way with their R&D centre in Hull and we are developing a new medical school with the university to support the healthcare sector and give us a critical mass there and have previously worked with them on an Institute of Logistics. The two organisations are also developing a centre which will investigate lowering the cost of energy, including offshore wind power.” “We are not at all complacent, and are driving forward from a competency basis, rather than just grabbing at things,” explained Mark. His list of achievements and targets and its chance of coming to fruition would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But Hull has changed - is changing - and its people and businesses have started to realise it and those businesses unlucky enough not to be based here are dusting off the sat navs and putting in HU1 2AA. n

Green Port facts and figures • Major deepwater port operated by ABP • Fully serviced Operations and Maintenance Port • International communications infrastructure (commercial ports, airports, heliports, national rail, rail freight and major road highways) • 50% of UK manufacturing capacity is within two hours’ drive time • A population of 5.2m people, a labour pool of 2.5m and the youngest workforce in the UK • Forty colleges, nine universities and specialised training providers producing over 10 per cent of the UK’s engineering graduates • Hull and its city region already has a large skills base in advanced engineering, employing more than 12,500 • Comprehensive training exists at Hull College, University of Hull and Humberside Offshore Training Association • 12 hours’ sailing time to Round Three wind farms • Over 300,000 businesses in the region



The issue: Is the economic future of the Humber region intrinsically aligned to the City of Culture and renewables, or are there other key factors? Santander had pulled together a ‘boardroom table’ of 18 business leaders from across the region, all affected in their own way by the regeneration of the area led by the renewables sector and the high profile events planned for 2017. There were common themes around collaboration, leadership and skills, with great enthusiasm across the board for the opportunity that exists in the next few years to establish Hull & Humberside as a thriving and vibrant region built around a world-class city and port. Jonathan Thompson, regional director of Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking, opened the evening by saying: “We are passionate about the Hull & Humber region and are personally highly invested in it, including new premises on Humber Quays. That gives us a fabulously improved platform from which we can build our franchise locally and across the region. We are here for the future. The skills agenda is really exciting and critical, not only for City of Culture and the energy theme but for the long term.” Looking at the priorities for the debate, Mike Sutton, MD of Hull-based Afos, which exports

much of its stainless steel equipment made for the food and medical sectors, said the issues affecting his firm were global. “It goes way beyond Hull to the oil crisis and foreign exchange rates. But also the skills shortage and SME funding – lack of.” John Bird of farming business FD Bird & Sons, which also has Yarrow Aggregates supplying sand and gravel to builders’ merchants, and Heron Lakes holiday park near Beverley, said there was a lot of opportunity, but it was a question of councils getting together with everyone else to look to a positive future. “We are as well-positioned at the moment as

we will ever be. We must stick together and have a plan for the future.” His colleague Ian White said their company had already seen benefits, but added: “My main concerns are education and tourism, and I question that the benefits coming to Hull are actually coming to the Hull people. It is a muchmaligned city, but a beautiful city.” He also talked about Yorkshire Wildlife setting up a ‘Nature Triangle’, a vast area bounded by the East Coast from Filey Brigg in the north all the way down past Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea to Spurn Point then by North Cave, the Yorkshire Wolds and the River Hull



catchment to the west and by the Humber tidal estuary to the south. “In that area we have the most diverse wildlife in the whole of Europe and we are not making enough of it. I would like to see more support for such initiatives.” From the UKTI, Mark Robson agreed that the opportunities were beyond the immediate area, telling his fellow guests: “Companies that grow rapidly have a novel way of thinking about how to create a market. It is all about creating that attitude to look for new markets and new ways of selling and growing.” Ian Plunkett, who has recently taken over as senior partner for PwC in Hull, admitted he was getting into “the rhythm of Humberside”, but said the company still struggled to find the right calibre of talent in the right quantities, so there was particular interest in the skills agenda. “I am also interested in how bigger business associates with the offshore wind opportunities,” he said. Paul Barker, a partner in Andrew Jackson Solicitors, said: “This region is the eastern gateway to the northern trade corridor that stretched all the way to the Mersey and businesses here are advantageously placed to exploit the many and varied opportunities. These arise not only because of the growth in the renewables sector and the City of Culture, there are lots of other factors, including the regeneration of the arena and the fruit market area.” “The resurgence will boost the economy and the leisure and urban living sector.” Andy Bowden, one of Santander’s relationship directors in the region, was another born and bred Hullensian with a passion for the future. “We need to focus on renewables and the City of Culture, but we mustn’t forget all the other industry that I have seen since I was a lad growing up. I have seen the boom and the bust and we simply cannot let this opportunity go, because we won’t get another one like it in the future. The traditional industries like food, chemicals and leisure all need to be promoted as we push forward in a united front.” Kishor Tailor, chief executive of the Humber LEP, said his role was to facilitate the muchneeded growth of the region. “Skills is a huge challenge, and continues to be, but do we have the infrastructure right to support the growth?

“We need to increase the competitiveness and the productivity of the place – because that is where the jobs will come.” Mark O’Reilly leads the Team Humber Marine Alliance, which has huge focus on offshore wind power. He told guests it was vital that the expertise he sees every day, and which is now sought-after around the world, stays in the region. He said: “We are taking a Northern Powerhouse trade mission to the USA, where they need our help because they are where we were six years ago. We will be in Boston, Washington and Virginia and have a constant flow of people from Germany, Denmark and the States coming to see us because this region is at the centre now and people want to know how we are doing things. “Skills is a vital area. We used to have two nautical colleges on the Humber which have disappeared – we need to revive those marine skills, which is something we are working on because our maritime history has been a bit buried but we should all be very proud of it.” From University of Hull, vice chancellor Prof Calie Pistorious started by challenging the evening’s main question itself saying it was not a matter of either/or when we asked ‘Is the economic future of the Humber region intrinsically aligned to the City of Culture and renewables, OR are there other key factors’. “There are game-changing opportunities with City of Culture and with renewables, but there are so many more things we can and must do. For instance, the opportunity for heritage tourism is fantastic and also in the digital economy. What universities like ours should do is be an anchor institution and make sure the region around us benefits from what we do. University and research skills are just as important as FE skills. The university is a net importer of skills into the region and makes a huge difference. “We must remember, it is not only about economic performance, it is about infrastructure, a healthy environment and all the rest. We must ask what we can add to make the region more competitive.” Richard Field, managing partner at the Rollits law firm, said he saw the importance of authorities working together. “The answer to getting this all to work properly is for the

TAKING PART Jonathan Thompson, regional director for Santander Corporate & commercial banking Kishor Tailor, CEO of Humber LEP Peter Aarosin, CEO of Danbrit Paul Barker, partner at Andrew Jackson Anita Pace, chair of the Humber Bondholders Allan Rice, director of Atom Beers James Landau, MD of Wastewise Ian Plunkett, senior partner for PwC Mike Sutton, MD of Afos Mark O’Reilly, CEO and chairman of Team Humber Marine Alliance Andy Bowden, relationship director Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking Roger Esler, owner and director of Dow Schofield Watts Richard Field, managing partner at Rollits Prof Calie Pistorious, VC at the University of Hull Mark Robson, regional director for the UKTI Barry Haslam, relationship director, Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking John Bird, MD of FD Bird & Sons Ian White, FD Bird & Sons In the chair: Caroline Theobald CBE, BQ Group Taking notes: Mike Hughes, Editor of BQ Yorkshire Venue: Lazaat hotel and restaurant, Wood Hill Way, Cottingham.

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“This area could shout louder, with less modesty and more flag-waving attracting more investment across a whole range of sectors”

region to be part of a combined authority. It can’t possibly operate effectively otherwise – if Sunderland and Newcastle can work together then I don’t see why the South Bank and the North Bank can’t do it as well. Entrepreneur Allan Rice of Atom Beers from the Food & Tech Park on Malmo Road in Hull, said he had a different perspective. “We are one of the fastest growing breweries in the UK and have won numerous awards and during our two years we have worked extensively with other small businesses. “I think renewables and 2017 are almost the icing on the cake. My primary concern is that not enough focus is put on small companies founded by people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s. They are intrinsically forward-thinking and up for a challenge and want to drive forward, but I don’t think the region capitalises on that enough. There is an area in Manchester called the Northern Quarter which is going great guns, set up to make the most of a number of cultural assets. We could have had that here, but we have been lagging behind.” James Landau, MD at waste management firm Wastewise, said: “My burning issue apart from

the two on the agenda is a clear vision for the region. There are pockets of inspiration and ideas, but it needs businesses and a political leader to get behind a greater vision and really drive that. “I don’t really know what we are trying to achieve as a region, so the whole thing needs pulling together – City of Culture, renewables, infrastructure and a number of other things. Bind them into something everyone can buy into.” Roger Esler of independent advisory business Dow Schofield Watts admitted the firm was a relative newcomer to the region. “We advise companies on raising finance for growth, buyouts and other corporate activity,” he said. “We put our money where our mouth is in Yorkshire, with our own equity fund which invests in smaller businesses where we see quite a gap for equity financing where cheques are being written in the £500,000 - £3m range, which is quite a difficult space. “Working across the east, south and west of the region, in this particular area the corporate population is particularly modest and private. But we have worked with some fantastic businesses that could shout a little bit louder about their successes. “That is significant because when we look at the market coming in to deploy capital, to create jobs and expansion, this is the area of Yorkshire least known to them, but they will spend a lot of time in Leeds and Sheffield. This area could shout louder, with less modesty and more flag-waving attracting more investment across a whole range of sectors.” For Santander, corporate relations director Barry Haslam, has been in banking for 38 years working in 12 countries. He said: “My last assignment before Hull was Sierra Leone and my employer sold the next move to me as a challenging frontier place and I thought ‘good grief, where is this place?’. And it was Hull, where I am really passionate about driving Santander’s work throughout the area. “We find 2,000 interns each year through a programme called Breakthrough Talent, so if anyone is looking for the right talent in this area, whether or not you are a Santander customer,

we can help.” Peter Aarosin of the Danbrit shipping and logistics company said: “I have thought for a long, long time that it is such a shame to see such a world-class estuary which is not known. My absolute passion is to see it get more on to the world map, but what is clouding the issue has been all the talk about devolution. In my opinion businesses should stay well clear of that, leave the politicians to find out who they want to jump into bed with so we can concentrate on getting the estuary known around the world.” Anita Pace the chair of Humber Bondholders, a network of more than 300 businesses promoting the region to create jobs and wealth, said the digital sector was a huge opportunity. “We need to make sure we embrace that enough,” she said. “But top of the agenda at Bondholders is recruiting and retaining talent, and I am nervous that we are pinning our hopes on Culture and Siemens. They are both fantastic, of course, but there is so much more we have to offer, so we must make sure we don’t expect everything to happen only as a result of those two things. My concern is 1 January 2018 and beyond, and what will happen then.” “Bondholders is here to tell the story, which must be consistent and collaborative and have conviction and passion. We can already feel the energy here.” But the challenges for the region were also clear, with Mike Sutton saying: “It is so difficult to get high-quality electrical, mechanical and design engineers. For me, Siemens coming in is just going to take salaries up and people out and I don’t know how we will counteract that because of the infrastructure and simply because of where Hull is.” Anita Pace said UTCs (University Technical Colleges) were starting to tackle this, with one in Scunthorpe already and one planned for Hull. “The idea there is to grow and keep talent in this area with skills that are relevant to businesses, with mechatronics being one of the specialisms. It’s a step towards helping that problem and it is being driven by businesses and the university.” Prof Pistorious said he had gone from being


an electrical engineer to being a social engineer. “If you talk to the engineers, you find that we are not training enough engineers across the country, let alone the region. There is a shortage and a huge need for their production, but they are very mobile so the fact that we are training engineers in Hull doesn’t mean they stay here. “So we also have to be able to attract them here and we have to look at how competitive this environment is. Is it a nice place to live? If we create an energy it will become a more attractive place to come. If the tide rises then all the ships rise.” Kishor Tailor said there needed to be an aspiration to get people into engineering. “Yes, we need them now, but when you go down to the school level, we have not got many people being trained into the subjects that will lead to a career in the sector. “There is a perception issue with families of seeing engineering as not a good profession to be in, yet we know that when it is explained in the context of the current environment there is a change of emphasis.” There was a difference of opinion over the average age of an engineer in Hull, with Mark O’Reilly saying it was 56 and Mike Sutton saying in his area it was nearer 30, but Mark said one of the biggest obstacles was getting pupils past their five GCSEs. “It seems to be a real issue with colleges trying to get that ‘C‘ pass to get them into the next level, so that seems to be key for all schools and FE establishments.” Peter Aarosin pointed out that businesses weren’t blameless in the situation. “I am surprised at how many businesses are not inviting junior and senior school pupils in to have a fortnight or three weeks. That is

not happening and neither are university placements. Within our business here and in Denmark we educate about four new shipbrokers every year – and then those guys who get so fired up are poached by our competitors. “But our approach is that it doesn’t matter because at least we are putting new people into the industry and I am so proud to see our old trainees in jobs around the world. “We have taken part in school events whenever they have asked us – it is so important for businesses to play their part. At one event a guy came up to us and asked what logistics was all about, so we told him and he asked what school he should go to and what he should do next. He eventually came back to us and asked for a job and is still with the company.” Paul Barker added an issue to the engineering debate, saying: “In the Sixties, the schools were churning out engineers and a lot of them engineered in Hull, because that was where the work was. “There is a problem now, but how do we solve it? Can we produce engineers in this area, or is it a local problem rather than nationwide?” Allan Rice explained that Atom had not been launched only to make great beer but also to inspire the next generation of workers in science and engineering. “We proactively work with 16 to 19 year olds and let them know that they are capable of doing this. My co-founder and better half Sarah is a teacher at Wyke College and she has about a quarter of her students wanting to do engineering and science. But their main reason for doing it is to leave Hull, so the hard bit of this question is ‘how do we retain them’. “We have to make this an area where people


want to stay. Our own customers may live in the area, but they actively seek to go to Leeds or Manchester or Sheffield.” James Landau said he was recruiting from Leeds because he couldn’t find the right people in Hull. “I don’t think it is just us, but there are a lot of local businesses that can’t see where the benefits are going to come from. The companies that are going to attract the talent are the Siemens. This is a Humber project – where are the Humber companies? “I don’t know where the opportunities lie for my business and I think a lot of businesses are grappling with that. So a lot of the bigger companies need to invest in their Tier One and Tier Two supply companies in the region, which will attract the engineers you want because a Siemens is supporting them and investing in the region.” Mark O’Reilly said the Siemens hope initially had been for a turbines plant with lots of engineering jobs, but that had gone to Germany and Hull had been chosen instead for the bladebuilding operation, with its emphasis more on manufacturing and production. “There are not many opportunities in the blades supply chain, but rather they will be on the ports and logistics side handling the products. There has been £60-70million investment, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions in the supply chain and there was a debate in Parliament just last week which mentioned the Dong plans where it was asked ‘Dong said £6bn – where’s our bit?’” Kishor Tailor said the challenge for companies like Siemens and Dong is that they would have received subsidies from the Government, and the requirement would have been for local content.



“What everyone is pressing to say now is they have the subsidy, they have the benefit, now show us the local content,” he said. Ian White added: “I’m fairly sure the majority of the concrete used in the Siemens development would be made using produce from Norway, so where is the benefit to the local economy? “It is not going to come to us as an aggregate business supplying cement and gravel, it is going to go back to Norway. “We need to wave the flag, but after City of Culture and Siemens, we need another flag to wave.” Mark O’Reilly said Siemens had made a big point of employing local people, and seemed very genuine about it, with quite a few construction companies winning multi-million pound contracts on the port. “It is a competitive world,” he said, “but nearly all the workers on the port are UK guys. They make it a rule that you have to live within a certain distance from the work.” Santander’s Andy Bowden said it was important “not to have all our eggs in one basket”, and Anita Pace said the whole situation needed to be looked at in the longer term. “The suppliers might not be getting the contracts, but if they are employing outside the region then they are new people coming in to this area, with disposable income to be spent in this area,” she said. “It is the knock-on effect that is important. We might not see the benefit now, but in five or ten years’ time the money that has been spent as a result of those people living in this area, going out and eating here will be a benefit.” With new figures showing a regional digital economy worth more than £200m, Caroline Theobald asked what could be done to group more high-growth companies like Atom Beers and Biowise to the benefit of the whole region. Allan Rice said that in cities like Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds the grouping by the council focuses on specific areas and brings the flag-wavers together. “They drop the rents and let them encompass one another and create a market for them to train staff and bring them on. Because these high-end craft sector firms have generated something unique to themselves, you find that a lot of the small businesses in Manchester

“We need to wave the flag, but after City of Culture and Siemens, we need another flag to wave.” have sprung up from employees of interesting, forward-thinking companies who have let them do their own thing, but as a collaborative effort.” James Landau agreed that the City of Culture title was a hook that other cities like Liverpool and Manchester have used as a mechanism to attract business into the city. “Now, what are we going to use to keep people here? We will generate so much interest in Hull in 2017, what else are we going to do as a bigger vision? It is more than Siemens and Renewables, but it needs to be brought together into one story. “It has to have a political element, but it will be run ultimately by business. If we don’t get our act together quickly in this region and in the Northern Powerhouse we will lose out on a lot. It requires a political leader to take that vision and drive it forward.” Kishor Tailor took up the discussion about the Northern Powerhouse. At a recent meeting in Manchester, a delegate said the triangle of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield was the Powerhouse. “His thesis was based on geography, but also on the mobility of people within the triangle to make the economy work. My approach to the meeting was that I didn’t want anything from them, I wanted to show what we could offer to them and what we could bring to the table. “I told them we are a gateway in and out of Europe, with excellent connectivity, and yet people came up to me after the meeting and said they hadn’t known anything about us. “This is about the image of our place, which we need to shout about more to raise the profile about what we do. We are almost like a forgotten place, but we now have things that people will remember us for and we need to continue to build on that. A strong vision would be a big part of doing that.” The UKTI’s Mark Robson said he was involved with the Northern Powerhouse strategy, saying that there were two elements to it.

“A lot of the thinking is about tying places together. If you drive from here until you hit Castleford, it is continuous street lighting. If you drive south to just beyond Sheffield, or if you go west until you get to the Pennines, you get almost continuous street lighting again – you basically have one great big city if you pull them together. “If you can link it, then you have a world-class hub and then you may not need this extra runway in the south. It is a doughnut, with the bit in the centre which is all the good that will come from tying up and creating a highlyintegrated city and then there is the ‘stuff’ around the outside. “This is a very proud old city, the bread-basket of the UK with its agriculture, food and fish. After York this is probably the most historic city in Yorkshire and one of the most historic in the North, but we just don’t think of it like that.” Paul Barker agreed, saying: “We are sitting on the cusp of a very good success story here, with the regeneration of the marina area. We made a start on it with the removal of the fruit market to a new site on Priory Park, but unfortunately nobody saw how deep and long the recession was going to be and it all came to an almighty halt but it is starting again. “If you look at the work going on, we are going to see a success story in a very short space of time, with the digital building bang in the middle of it. This is a combination of private enterprise with, for the first time in my 30-odd years of experience, the local council actually engaging. “Unifying the authorities is crucial to the estuary area because we need them to work together, not always be in competition. This city could be the capital of an area that expands all the way up the corridor to the west.” John Bird touched on the vital role grain has to play. “We have brought in all this world-leading technology right in the heart of one of the best places in Europe for producing grain, but there are unforeseen factors always coming in, like the big plant in Middlesbrough that has just closed for a second time. “There are people investing, but we need to get that one step in front. One of our biggest problems is infrastructure and they have been talking about the A63 all my lifetime. This is down to politicians and it is right that we need the political clout to get ourselves ahead.”


Richard Field applauded the infrastructure point and added: “Business does need to be leading here, but unless business is given the infrastructure and the facilities to do its work it won’t be able to. “All of these great ideas will only work if there is also the catalyst from a political infrastructure to deliver them and get the big grants. Manchester is so successful because you have two leaders there who know exactly what to do and have a vision and know how to deliver it. If others can do it, we can as well.” Kishor Tailor said there was a clear commitment from the private sector to the estuary and its value to the region. “Politically, there are different agendas. Devolution started as an economic entity, but it is now a political ballgame all about power. “That is the challenge we have here, because the way it is shaping up could split the Humber. You will end up in six months’ time with a structure which we will still have to work within, but which will not be cohesive. Where is the political leadership in all that? Prof Pistorious said there were a lot of discussions going on to make sure everything

was in place for a strong future. “At the LEP level, we are asking what can be done to leverage the Humber as an economic asset. Then we have devolution discussions and then Northern Powerhouse, all at the same time. “What we need to do here is hear the voice of the people who are out there. The Humber LEP has a skills board and is battling to get the voice of industry on there. If you want to make a contribution, go and sit on the skills board and make your voice heard and get the politicians to respond to that voice. Mark Robson added: “If we are still thinking that we want a strong political leader, then there isn’t one, is there? “I don’t think one is going to emerge, but this is another way we externalise the problems of our success as a region. We have to have a growth plan despite the politics. We have to talk to people who have the ears of the Treasury and get them to support what is going on here. “If we want to win things, we have to start now.” Roger Esler said the common denominator seemed to be the need for a voice to help with attracting infrastructure or general investment


or talent. The area that I see is more around funding and buyers for businesses in sectors like food, renewables and transport. “There is a propensity in other parts of the country to make more public announcements about their successes or their products or developments. We seem to be a bit more publicity-shy. “Investors will tend to devote time and attention to areas of the country where they are seeing a news flow. There is no differentiation between the types or quality of business, it is about the voice we have. “We have just been concluding a deal with a French firm who will become a major investor in the region. But the fact that they flew in by private jet wasn’t a touch of glamour – it was the only way they could get to Hull from the South of France.” Ian Plunkett from PwC has spent the last four years in the Middle East and drew some interesting parallels. “There are lessons to be learned from the bold and ambitious ‘build it and they will come’ strategy, whether it is Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai or Sheikh Khalifa in Abu Dhabi. “They have oil revenue, which is clearly a difficulty here, but if you have a 2030 strategic vision like Abu Dhabi has, which transcends any political cycle, and you have strong visionary politicians then you do attract private capital. This will come when there is confidence in what is being created. “There has to be a very distinct Humber vision, and not just something that apes Leeds or hangs on the coat-tails of Manchester or Sheffield. Geographically and historically we have a fantastically unique product and this is a great opportunity to play to our strengths and see



what success looks like when our grandchildren are sitting round the table like us tonight. “I don’t know whether that vision comes from central government or from devolved government. Coming back to his country into the teeth of the Northern Powerhouse debate, I’m still a little bit confused about that. “Siemens is a great start, but what do we want to be famous for?” Caroline Theobald took on the idea of a future vision of the area and asked what that would look like. Mark O’Reilly said: “We want to see a vibrant city – at the moment I think we must be the only city in England without a four-star hotel, which is a serious thing to think about when people are coming here to visit or look for conference facilities.” Andy Bowden said: “At the moment, people look at Hull and see it as the end of a road and nothing happens. We must be the start of the road that goes north, south, east and west, with people coming into the city for business or tourism and us sending things out of the city and out of the region.” Barry Haslam added: “If you look at the last three Cities of Culture, Londonderry, Liverpool and Glasgow, they have all had similar legacy issues as Hull has had geographically and as former ports they have had their woes and have seen their fishing industry and docks go. “But they have all kicked on, with Londonderry having a fantastic year in 2013 and the troubles around there must have been far worse than anything we have experienced here with an unjoined approach across the estuary. It is not insurmountable, but it is the business leaders who have to drive it without waiting for a supermayor. I am not sure that person is coming.” Ian White said: “Perhaps what is missing here is the cement that holds the communities and businesses together. As a 19-year-old visiting Newcastle, it was the filthiest place I had seen, but what a shock when I returned. It is a vibrant city very much alive and driven largely by the university.” Peter Aaronsin said the region’s voice needed to be loud. “There is only one thing to do and that is for businesses to tell politicians exactly what they want in a 2020 plan and stop politicians domineering the businesses.” Allan Rice said: “If you look at the Hull Daily Mail whenever there is a big news story, there

are lots of comments and the standard one is ‘it will never happen’. “To get that vision and be a city going west and east we need to pull our fingers out and start doing things. We have to be seen to be doing it ourselves.” Mark Robson reminded the guests “2020 is too close. If there is to be a vision, it has to be to 2030. “But at the moment the local authorities get a fair amount of money from central government and when devolution happens that won’t be the case – it has to be generated locally. “It is worth getting the political leaders round a table and pointing that out and asking where the money will come from.” Jonathan Thompson said: “It is not about five years, but 15 or 20, which plays to the digital agenda and is about people coming here and staying, not just because of our legacy sectors but because they see what is coming down the track. “It is incumbent on us all to look at our own visitors and think what they will look like and what factors will impact on our businesses. Preparing for that and having a plan will force us all to have macro view of what needs to happen. “With so much successful commerce, we need to make sure we convert a short-term fillip into a long-term investment.” Kishor Tailor added: “The vision has to be owned and delivered by everybody and we have to make sure we can then set out a road to that vision. I would like more private sector people to be more engaged in the delivery process. We need that input and we need to get the corporate decision-makers here and inspire them so they appreciate the value of the businesses

we have here.” Mark O’Reilly said the region had completely changed in three or four years. “Collaboration has massively increased, and the LEP has a lot to do with that. There are a lot of groups with marketing skills and very strong business networks, with mightily impressive international corporations.” Prof Pistorious said: “We need to have an ability to innovate as a key to the future. There are three types of people, those who make things happen, those who watch what happens and those who wanted what happens. Get the voice out there.” Anita Pace talked about the challenge of devolution, saying: “I think it is happening at the worst possible time for us, because it is distracting us when we have this amazing thing about to happen in our area. If we wait for the politicians to act, we will have missed it. “I think a combined authority is a long way off if it happens at all so I think we need to park that and carry on regardless. At Bondholders we are going to be taking the initiative on a few things and driving the agenda we all need.” She also challenged Prof Pistorious to see if there was a way to get the vibrancy and spending power of the university area and its students spreading to the city centre. Prof Pistorious replied: “These days students aren’t there to drink their lives down town. They come to study and have a life at the university so we should have much more of a focus on how we can get those students to deliver and stay to make a bigger contribution. “We are a net importer of talent so the issue isn’t how many of them can we get down to the pubs, it is how many can we get to stay in the region. To do that we need the jobs and we need the entire region to thrive.” After a passionate and region-wide discussion, Jonathan Thompson thanked all the guests on behalf of Santander for their contributions. He said: “This has been a very broad-ranging and engaging debate, on a subject clearly of prime importance to the region and very close to many people’s hearts. Hopefully out of the soundbites we have collected here we can play our part in capturing the views and perspectives of people around the table on the future of the region. “We hope this will provide a platform for an ongoing debate.” n



Sky-high ambitions connecting Humberside to the world As MD of Humberside International Airport, Deborah Zost helps connect the region to the rest of the world Alongside so much recognition about how portcentric the region is, the value of the airport to businesses and travellers has played a crucial role, particularly with the recently extended enterprise zone. Under the watchful eye of MD Deborah Zost, Humberside International Airport connects the Humber, East Riding, North Lincolnshire and the Lincolnshire region to the rest of the world with three flights daily to Amsterdam, high-frequency services to Aberdeen and charter flights to a range of holiday destinations. It is a proud airport that seems to be constantly growing and attracting investment, from the new BAE Systems National Training Academy and plans for the Hampton by Hilton Hotel, to new routes providing further global connectivity for the region. BAE now has a £5m national training academy to produce up to 60 apprentices every year and more than 150 new jobs over three years. The facility houses the RJ Mitchell Aircraft Maintenance Academy which will act as a nationwide hub to train apprentices for the maintenance and servicing of UK fighter jets and to support international customers. The Hilton chain will operate a £7m, 103room hotel, with Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton Worldwide’s senior vice-president of development for Europe and Africa, saying at the time of the announcement: “Humberside Airport is a vibrant passenger and cargo hub, and home to the second-largest heliport in the UK. Hampton by Hilton Humberside Airport will appeal to

passengers travelling through the airport, and alleviate the growing need for quality, economy hotel accommodation in the wider Humber region.” Work has already started, with a new roundabout built on the airport entrance to improve access. Deborah told BQ: “This is an exciting time for Humberside Airport and the wider area as we see a great deal of investment and the development of the UK’s largest Enterprise Zone, which has recently been extended to include the airport. “We are confident that this will encourage new businesses to Humberside. The airport’s location has been a key driver for businesses in the past and this development will provide a further incentive. “At Humberside, we operate one of the UK’s

“This is an exciting time for Humberside Airport and the wider area as we see a great deal of investment and the development of the UK’s largest Enterprise Zone, which has recently been extended to include the airport.”

busiest airport-based heliports, home to the three major offshore helicopter companies, Bristow, Bond and CHC which provide services to the Southern North Sea gas platforms. We were also chosen as a strategic location for the vital civilian Search and Rescue operation, which Bristow now operates on behalf of HM Coastguard.” Developments on site continue to progress, and this includes the BAE academy which opened at the end of last year and will take up to 15 students from the new Humber University Technical College. “We are thrilled to have the academy at Humberside Airport, where the aircraft technicians and engineers of tomorrow will learn their trade in a world-class facility. We firmly believe Humberside Airport plays a very important part in the region and this development strengthens the links with both business and education and underlines our commitment to the area.” “As well as these developments, a new investment programme is underway to refurbish the departures lounge and its catering facility in the terminal,” added Deborah “We continue to work closely with our airline partners and new operators as we aim to further enhance worldwide connectivity from Humberside. Last summer, Thomson and First Choice returned with flights to Majorca after a four year absence. Having these leading names back at the airport is a great vote of confidence. “Additional charter operations are departing to Majorca, Spain, Bulgaria, Austria, Italy and Jersey. A new programme of luxury breaks for 2016 has also been introduced to Venice, Pisa, Rome, Dubrovnik and Madrid from Humberside. “We have just announced that Thomson will provide Humberside Airport with its first, direct, regular winter sun flights since 2008. This new Tenerife service is great news for holidaymakers and fantastic for the airport,” added Deborah. n





We are the UK’s energy estuary As a former Bondholders chairman and LEP board member Peter Aarosin, MD of the Danbrit Shipping Company, has a lofty vantage point from where he can see that collaboration is the future for the Hull and Humber region Peter Aarosin says the pivotal moment for the region was when it started talking about ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. The idea of regular collaboration rather than constant competition was finally bedding in as a foundation on which to build a scaleable future for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on it for a home and a living. “We managed to get the four unitary authorities to work together – which is so important to be able to clearly see the opportunities,” he explained. “For far too long we have been looking at the Humber as a split unit – the North Bank and the South Bank. “We have also looked at individual ports, rather than one whole port community. Look at the Humber estuary compared to Rotterdam, which consists of numerous ports, but all trading under one single name. So when you come to attract business everyone from far-flung China or South America knows where Rotterdam is. That has not been the case with the Humber. “The four unitaries had just been looking after

their own little area, but now when we go out to business we are saying ‘The Humber’ to attract business to the area, first and foremost, then we can decide whether it goes to Grimsby, Immingham, Goole, Hull or some of the other areas. “It is only in the last handful of years that this view has started working deep down at a company level, which was needed because when the region had to be represented internationally, suddenly there were separate delegations from Hull, Goole and Immingham and Grimsby, which confused the whole picture. “But now people are prepared to go in together under the one banner.”

These divisions are natural from town to town, port to port, but there must be a mechanism by which they can be put to one side and for the region to become united. That mechanism is itself a collaboration of LEPs, councils, trade organisations and business leaders showing how co-operation is the true expression of support. “It seems so simple, but it has been deeprooted in the North Bank and South Bank who have been unable to talk together. But now we must build on the opportunity we have around the City of Culture and the renewable energy sector,” says Peter. “Renewables are not the whole answer, but

“Within the Bondholders, we coined the phrase ‘Humber - the UK’s energy estuary’ which is a fantastic strapline for us as we talk to people around the UK”



they are a catalyst to make an awful lot more happen outside the sector. Because there is a natural focus there at the moment, we need to grab that sector and use it to get the other industries behind it. “Within the Bondholders, we coined the phrase ‘Humber - the UK’s energy estuary’ which is a fantastic strapline for us as we talk to people around the UK. “But we need the UK to have a long-term energy policy to work with, not just talking around five-year election cycles, which isn’t enough. We need to be able to make investments that we can write off over 30, 40 or 50 years. “Because you could suddenly get a government pulling in a different direction, which makes people nervous of putting an investment into the ground. “There is also still a long way to go for the unitary authorities. Everyone has been talking about devolution, which is about getting the best possible financial result for the region as a whole. “But I think going back in now and changing things around for the four existing authorities will set us back. My view is that if we can continue getting the four working together on joint ventures that would be the right route. The LEP can play a huge role here, otherwise we could waste a lot of time. “If we look at the portfolios of North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Hull and East Riding, surely there will be a lot of services they can run jointly. I think there is an achievable balance that can be reached. “On a wider view, I have also told politicians we should link the estuaries of the Mersey and

“When the region had to be represented internationally, suddenly there were separate delegations from Hull, Goole and Immingham and Grimsby, which confused the whole picture. But now people are prepared to go in together under the one banner”

the Humber. We have to bind them very closely together, with a good railway connection and sort out the M62 – which can take you anything from an hour and a half to three hours to travel along. “For freight traffic, the amount of extra money and time it costs has to be changed. One simple solution, which has so far fallen on deaf ears, would be to give freight traffic an advantage on motorways between 6pm and 6am. “Perhaps it would be the suspension of road tax during that time. A lot of freight can be moved in unsociable hours and it would help even out the traffic. It might not be popular to change it to a night economy, but compare it to the cost of building another three lanes.” There is such a bright mind at work here, seamlessly mixing experience with innovation, just as he would advise any business to do if they want to plan for a long-term future around The Humber. “I have always been positive and I think that is the best way forward. I am absolutely convinced that, one way or another, we will come through it. But we will do it all the quicker if there is political back-up and we get everyone together for the common goal. “We must make sure we push on all those things. One of my favourite quotes is from Winston Churchill, who said: ‘I am an optimist.

“I have always been positive and I think that is the best way forward. I am absolutely convinced that, one way or another, we will come through it. But we will do it all the quicker if there is political back-up and we get everyone together for the common goal”

It does not seem much use being anything else’. “That is so true you must have a positive spin on events, rather than let it be so easy to be down in the dumps, moaning and groaning. “Of course, there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism if anyone can come up with better ideas.” As BQ has found across Yorkshire, entrepreneurs are often the source of the best ideas, because they have freedom of expression coupled with a strong sense of ownership that brings passion and inspiration to any argument. Peter says they are thriving in the east of the county. “There is a lot of help for new businesses, which is one area where the UK leads Europe. The real collective goal for everybody is wealth creation and the only way we can do that is to have good, long-term, sustainable jobs. “That means that if a new business does well, the local council does well and the region as a whole does well and we find out that the place where we live, work and play every day can grow and become better in every respect. “The family side of life around the Humber is absolutely crucial – and the City of Culture has a great job to do here. Five years ago, when you had to go out for a meal or a lunch it was always so difficult to find a good restaurant. “But that has changed now. There is an absolutely superb choice, and you could be sitting in the middle of London with the quality we have here now. “I think I have certainly ‘got the bug’. The opportunities here are so exciting.” The region should take great reassurance from Peter Aarosin’s 18 years at the helm of Danbrit. That is commitment you can bank on, and no better example for younger firms and prospective new arrivals. n



Waves of enthusiasm Much of Steve Norton’s 50-year career has been spent championing the seafood industry – and BQ editor Mike Hughes finds him a fiercely loyal supporter of the whole sector as CEO of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association You get an idea of how central the fishing industry is to the Humber region by looking at the launch date of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association – 1911. The region needed one of the oldest trade associations in the country to fight its corner and provide a focused and cohesive industry because for most of the last century the tides of change have been rising and falling around it. The majority of members are small processors employing between 5 and 20 staff, but it is rightly proud of the fact that larger companies who supply 70% of the nation’s chilled seafood are also on board and work alongside a team of seven directors spanning both sides of the estuary. With those companies employing 2,500 people, Steve shoulders responsibility and attracts respect in equal measure as he embraces change for the region and his sector.

“We may not get another 100 years, but I would like to think we could certainly get to 115 or 120 without any problems,” Steve tells me. “In recognition of that forward planning, we recently set up Seafood Grimsby & Humber to represent the industry on a pan-Humber basis and enhance the performance, practices and reputation of the sustainable seafood processing industry. “We all share a passion and desire to see that succeed, with an ultimate objective of simply encouraging more people to eat more seafood. We reckon there could be 60 species from 30 countries in the port at any one time, so it is not just about your traditional cod and haddock.” Warnings of dwindling stocks and ‘the last cod being fished’ are swept aside, with applause from Steve for the work of the Sea Fish Industry Authority in working with the industry to make sure quotas in the North Sea are increased by

good management, so that there will soon be an upturn in supplies. Colleagues in Peterhead, north of Aberdeen, are also being contacted because new vessels being built there mean an increased catching capacity that could easily spill over to hugely experienced processors on the Humber. “The Humber, with its critical mass of processors, is the gateway to the consumer, so it would make eminent sense to have Scottish and English fish being brought here for processing,” says Steve. “There is a good story to be told about these British products and we should champion it more, particularly the seafood. Overall the future is pretty good and I am always optimistic, even though we must acknowledge that Grimsby does not have the catching fleet it once had, but is still a thriving centre for processing, with our whole cluster around the Humber generating


around £2.5bn a year. “We have some big names anchored here, like Youngs, Icelandic Seachill who have its fantastic Saucy Fish brand, and Morrisons, who have a processing plant in Grimsby. And we had a local firm, Quayside Distribution, being bought out by DFDS Logisitics, which is a positive sign because given the sort of company DFDS is, they wouldn’t buy a company if they didn’t think there was a future.” That future relies, as with so many sectors, in a tailored link back to education. “The Grimsby Institute is working in partnership with industry and asking what we need in respect of training,” says Steve. “It is not always looked on as a sexy choice to go to work in the food industry, certainly not seafood, but it is not just about getting up very early to go and work in a cold, wet environment. People do that and will continue to do it, but you could be an accountant in the seafood industry or marketing or product development. “It would be a tragedy if my 50 years of knowledge, and that of so many other people in this industry, was to be lost. We want to pass our experience on to the next generation. “A lot of fish is still converted into fillets by hand, and the age profile of those filleters is more likely to be in their forties rather than their late teens or early twenties. We have to do something about that and there are schemes we are piloting, like Traineeships which introduces 16-24 year old to the industry and gives them a taster while they are still receiving benefits. “Seafood has often been the Cinderella of the food industry, but that has changed now and the companies based here take things very seriously and have very high standards of provenance, traceability and integrity.” With a rare, if not unique, accreditation for the fish market from the British Retail Consortium, which demands high standards of food going out to retailers, the sector is still big business. It would be the perfect fillip for its thousands of workers if the person buying the Friday fish in the supermarket took a second to think about the crew on a fishing vessel, being tossed around in storm conditions, miles away from safe harbour and a landed catch. “When that catch comes in, you see that the supply chain is quite unique. The market itself is not the supply chain in its totality, and the route

“The fact that fish and seafood is so high on the agenda in terms of celebrity chefs and health benefits can really add to the feelgood factor across the region.” there has diminished over the years,” Steve explains. “One reason is that it is very easy for a processor to access the fish directly, just as you and I would shop on Amazon to save the time going around to look at a purchase. The Norwegians in particular are very good at marketing their cod and haddock by direct selling, and even a small company could have ten boxes delivered to its door. A few years ago that would have been a full truck or nothing. “Of those 60 species from 30 countries some like swordfish or tuna might come in direct by air freight to a processor who will sell them on, some to the food and restaurant trade.” With such a global demand and ever-keen business strategies, the firms at the centre of this historic trade need the support of the GFMA and Seafood Grimsby & Humber more than ever, and that often comes down to financial backing for new investments from such sources as the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, which just opened a new scheme earlier this year. “This is crucial, and is aimed specifically at SMEs in the seafood sector, from catching right through the chain,” Steve tells me. “It means that those SMEs can apply for funding of up to 50%, either individually or potentially as a collective bid brought together by us, which could lead to a better price being negotiated at the other end. “I’m very pleased this is now in its second phase and that its application is so much easier now. We are asking for a number of workshops to be set up as well to talk people through the process because a lot of these guys work long and hard and are very good at selling fish, but can be daunted by a 15-page document and think they can’t be bothered.” This year will also see the return of the Humber Seafood Summit in September, after a gap in 2015 to allow for the World Seafood Congress. The summit is now a fixture in the fisheries calendar and will again bring a key focus to the


area and visitors from international companies. The range of the sector will be a key factor in its future direction, stretching from the household names like Youngs right down to craftsmen like Richard Enderby, whose smoked fish has been awarded the coveted PGI – the Protected Geographic Indication. “It took the best part of 12 years to get through the bureaucratic treacle of the EU, but it did and people like Richard and these very old smokehouses dotted around the port are now protected, and are rightly prized by chefs like Rick Stein. “It is a fantastic accolade for our seafood industry and one that I think we should be promoting again and again and pressing for export so that a Grimsby product can be found in the top class restaurants of the Middle East. “The fact that fish and seafood is so high on the agenda in terms of celebrity chefs and health benefits can really add to the feelgood factor across the region. A lot of businesses now see the bigger agenda and the advantages and are working towards them, along with local authorities doing their bit to engage and improve community spirit. “Grimsby has a loyal, hardworking and dedicated workforce, but it is at the end of the A180, a very long cul-de-sac. That said, it has some wonderful assets and attributes like the port of Immingham, which handles one of the highest tonnages in the UK, and Humberside International Airport providing a very good hub into Schiphol and then onwards. “There are good schools and we are surrounded by great countryside and I think people don’t always look at the advantages of living in a place like this. I will do whatever I can to encourage inward investment and see what we can do to encourage the smaller companies operating in niche artisanal areas.” I’m tempted to finish with some fishing puns, but it is a better use of words to simply say instead that Steve Norton’s work is not far short of heroic. He might as well be the man at the wheel on one of those storm-battered trawlers, unafraid of anything that might be thrown at him, always knowing where the port is. His 50 years of service to a traditional and historic sector shines like a beacon guiding his ships home, and, if the region could distil such loyalty, businesses on both sides of the Humber would be better off. n



The Pace of change



Anita Pace, chair of the Humber Bondholders, has a story to tell that will have the world heading for the Humber region, as Mike Hughes reports

There has never been a more important time for the Humber to tell its story during what might be the most pivotal time in its history. As the City of Culture attracts the attention of millions around the world Anita Pace, as head of the 300-strong Bondholders business network, is challenging the whole area to come together under one banner. “Our remit as Bondholders is to promote the region as a great place to live, work and invest,” she said in the organisation’s Queen Street offices just across from two crucial landmarks, aquarium The Deep and new digital innovation centre C4Di. “When we were originally set up our brief was just covering Hull, but now we are Humber-wide, and I argued when I took over in September that the Humber is really just a label on the map, that if you go anywhere outside this region people don’t know where it is. It had become almost a meaningless word. “So to do our job properly we needed to create a brand for the Humber to represent something meaningful. “Bondholders is a powerful businesses community, but alongside our remit to promote the region we are also embarking on a journey to better set out our aims and objectives as an organisation and to be clearer about what we do – Market the Humber. “There has also been a lot of work done under the banner of Energy Estuary, which is clearly our unique selling point and our driver for economic growth, with huge investors like Dong, who will be pumping £6b into the region from now until 2020. Energy is the anchor, but there is so much more to the region than the estuary,” she says. “I am passionate about the area. I am Hull born

and bred, went to London for a while but came back for quality of life when I got married and had two daughters (now aged four and six). I have a 20 minute commute and I live in a nice house in one of the villages in West HullullHull, a beautiful part of the region which I would have no chance of affording if it was in London.” Anita follows founder Jim Dick and her predecessor Peter Aarosin as the head of the Bondholders group and perhaps the time is right for a marketing expert to get her name on the board for a couple of years. The reputation of the group is rock-solid, but now it can go flat out to promote, promote, promote, just as Martin Green launches the biggest and most influential event this part of the world will ever have seen. “When I lived in London I was always very defensive when asked where I came from, because inevitably there would be some derogatory comments,” said Anita. “So I think if you ever get the opportunity to change those perceptions, you should jump at the chance because there is a lot of work to do, but that excites me. “We don’t want to always be looking west with envy at Manchester, we want them to be looking east with envy at us. When we get that to happen it will define ‘success’ for me.” Success will also come with the City of Culture and with the huge boost provided by the Siemens turbine blades project at Green Port Hull, and if Anita’s brief was to support those two blockbusters until they drift off the front pages, then she would have a fairly straightforward job. But it isn’t, so she doesn’t. Her brief is region-wide and with no finishing date, going well past her term of office at Wykeland House.

“Businesses have really embraced the opportunity – they can almost smell it,” she says. “They recognise that the whole redevelopment of the area is a huge chance, but coming from this area I can say that the people are quite insular, which can have its pros and cons. “Hull has been downtrodden quite publicly so there will be people who are cynical. But when we put in a bid for City of Culture there was a sense that we deserved it and we needed it and it was our time. It was so heartfelt because it was the people saying ‘come and see us’. “As Bondholders, we don’t own the ‘products’ that make up this fantastic region we just tell their story, but we can’t do that without the collaboration of everyone else and bodies like the LEP, UKTI and the Chamber are all now striving for the greater good. “Northern Lincolnshire authorities are also keen to harness the new emphasis that private sector investments have placed upon the region, seeing them in turn investing in multimillion pound town centre developments as well as new retail, cultural, business and leisure facilities to offer residents pride of place and drive local economy.” The ability to knock on any of those doors and have them eagerly opened was very much a Pace priority when she first started work. The insular, perhaps blinkered approach of people and businesses is a thing of the past now. Organisations being linked by the Bondholders want to work together and ride the wave of publicity and opportunity surging up the estuary. “We certainly can’t do it in isolation,” says Anita. “People recognise there is a need for a collective voice – a sense of a community coming together to help change the perception of the area “Each of the businesses has the chance to be



an ambassador in its own right, which we are encouraging them to do and which will in itself help tackle one of the items at the top of the business agenda here which is recruiting and retaining talent. “People being approached about a move here will still say ‘why would I want to leave London and go to live in Hull?’ – my husband is from Melbourne so I know all about that.... “We need them to come for an interview or a visit and see it, feel it and experience it, along with the parts of the region they may not be familiar with like Beverley or parts of Northern Lincolnshire. What about the fact that Hull has a marina in the city centre – how many other cities can boast that?” Bringing individual talent here and winning them over is one thing, but the work has to be here in the first place and that means translating interest from the broadest range of sectors into straightforward investment from start-ups to multinationals. The conversation can’t finish with ‘that’s very impressive, thanks for your time’ instead, for the whole Hull story to have a happy ending, the potential new businesses have to extend their hand and say ‘that’s very impressive, when can we start’, just as Siemens did after looking at 100 sites across the world before deciding to put its 1,000-job investment into Hull. “There will be lots of factors a firm will look at as part of an investment programme and organisations like the LEP and UKTI are equipped to deal with that,” says Anita. “When they are considering coming here, we need them to know that Bondholders is the go-to organisation to get to know the area, so we need to go out tell the story and not wait for them to come here. “In terms of growing a pool of talent, we are working very closely with educational establishments like the two University Technical Colleges we have in the area. These are examples of businesses getting right behind organisations to help grow the right talent in the right places. “The skills that are being learned need to be relevant to the businesses that are already here or may move here. If there is a pool of affordable talent ready to work with the right skills the whole thing comes together. “We also have a unique position as Yorkshire’s port. Leeds may have a lot going for it, but it hasn’t got the access to Europe that the water brings us.”

“I want my two girls to have the opportunities that didn’t necessarily come my way. I don’t want them to feel they have to move away to get what they want” For a marketer, Anita deals a lot in brand, emotion and enthusiasm, and it will be the same when she is gauging the success of her time at the head of the organisation. There will be specific investments that she can put a tick next to, but a single conversation a few hundred miles away may mean just as much to her. “Personally, I look forward to the time when if you can go somewhere else in the UK or further afield and tell people where you are from they will say ‘I went there, it was great’ or ‘I’d love to go there’ - we want them to have a reason to come back for their next visit. “We are also about longevity, people moving here and living here and bringing up families here and companies investing here for the future. There are a lot of houses being built in the right areas to accommodate that movement.” Getting all that ready in time means that the city has been lined with cranes and orange barriers, a sure sign of construction and change and a multi-

million pound council investment. Driving into work past them each morning might not have been much fun, but it’s been a small price to pay for a revitalised region. And it brings headlines that mean something to potential investors. The Tech Nation Report 2016 said Hull’s digital companies produced goods and services worth almost £190m between 2010 and 2014, employing more than 6,000 people with an average salary of more than £37,000. “If I go to a city and see the cranes overhead, I think ‘wow’ this place is really going somewhere. Here, there has been so much work in the marina and around the fruit market area and just a year ago the whole Centre for Digital Innovation wasn’t even there. Let’s wait and see – it will look so good. “The C4DI is also a huge sign of the digital focus in the area, with KC rolling out superfast broadband and the students being taught now with all that in their futures. “Hull University was telling me that more than 40 per cent of their graduates stay in the area, which is an example of students coming into the area, falling in love with it and choosing to stay. “And C4DI, as well as being a digital catalyst, is another example of the amount of entrepreneurship in the region, which thrives even as so much around it is developing. “There are distractions like the devolution debate and we could easily use them as excuses, but our 300 members have strength in numbers and a sense of community in getting the word out there at every opportunity. “I tend to be a very positive person and I am excited by all the energy going on here and want to make a difference to the Humber and keep the momentum going. “My mood is focused and optimistic, but also very realistic, because it is quite scary how time is passing. But I love what I do and I know I am literally in a good place at the moment. “I want my two girls to have the opportunities that didn’t necessarily come my way. I don’t want them to feel they have to move away to get what they want. It is all about a very empowering freedom of choice and, like so many other people here, I want to help give that to my kids.” That very personal mix of a passion for family, lifestyle and work is the perfect balance for the new region laid out in front of us. Tick those three boxes and the blueprints and dreams of so many people and businesses will become a much-deserved long-term reality. n


Meet the Humber Bondholders, working together to promote the region



WELCOME Bondholders BQ special feature



Swift Leisure’s success in selling a lifestyle







The Humber as international hub

Hull University working for business and changing lives

Vivergo Fuels works for a sustainable economy


PEOPLE FOCUS How Sewell Group builds on its culture

READ ONLINE BQ Magazine is available to read online at for when you are on the move



Getting down to business in the Humber The feeling of community has never been stronger on both banks of the Humber, as the spotlight of worldwide attention is turned on the area, highlighting the opportunities that are on offer here Hundreds of businesses large and small from all corners of the region have chosen Bondholders to amplify their voices – whether sole traders, SMEs, start-ups or multi-nationals operating at a senior management level. The Bondholder scheme is a powerful network of more than 300 engaged and influential businesses. Meeting throughout the year at Bondholder Breakfasts, they work closely together towards the ultimate goal of promoting the region to create jobs and wealth so that new investors won’t be able to resist bringing their plans here to join a thriving environment in which businesses can prosper. Every member makes a difference through financial support and being a critically important ambassador for the region. With every new member the message is louder, stronger and travels further, with over 30 million people being reached with positive messages about the Humber through the work of the Bondholder Scheme last year alone. The Humber region is perhaps the most diverse in the UK and is a microcosm of the whole country, with long-established sectors like manufacturing, logistics and fisheries working alongside game-changing digital, wind power and leisure sectors. The area has changed and Bondholders has changed with it, growing and developing to reach new businesses in areas that didn’t even exist a decade ago. Such diversity is set against a level of unity, co-operation and collaboration

other regions can only dream of achieving – which is the very reason why Bondholders holds such a crucial key to our future prosperity. City of Culture is the headline-grabbing signal to the rest of the world of how far Hull alone has come and how bold its aspirations are. Amidst tough competition from Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay, Hull had shown it could host the UK’s most awe-inspiring cultural event by setting out ambitious plans for a unique and thrilling programme of cultural activity that the whole world will be watching. The events, led here by the man every city wanted as their team captain, 2012 Olympics opening ceremony maestro Martin Green, are the essential balance to all the commercial activity. Culture is well recognised as a catalyst for regeneration, inward investment and crucially the bringing together of communities and businesses. Bondholders seeks to harness the opportunities that Hull 2017 presents to the wider region, through media and marketing initiatives to maximise the Humber’s position. “We understand that whether a business or individual chooses to relocate here, or is already rooted within the region, they expect the full package since lifestyle is as important as industry,” says Anita. “They deserve a strong combination of investment, infrastructure and culture that creates a thriving economy. Alongside this, a major asset is offering quality housing at

WELCOME Bondholders BQ special feature


“We now have 6,500 business leaders who receive our e-newsletter, more than 6,700 followers on Twitter and since becoming a Humber-wide organisation two years ago have more than doubled our network”

Picture: Neil Holmes affordable

prices, creating a sense of community and a place where children can be well-educated and trained and build careers here. “Businesses won’t come here just to be supportive, or just because we have one year of culture. Like Siemens, multi-nationals and SMEs alike will only put down roots if they know they can grow. They need five and ten-year projections to be rock-solid and to feel secure about returns on investments that can take decades to come through. “That is the wider view of the Bondholders’ mission – to tell the full story chapter by chapter to potential employers and investors.” Since its inception, Bondholders has been a powerful voice for businesses, whilst also seeking to challenge outside perceptions of the region and to consistently raise awareness of its assets both in the UK and internationally. From business leaders to investors, through to those seeking to live and work here; through its work Bondholders has helped to connect people across the Humber. Core activities include regional and national PR, the development of professional marketing materials, business engagement, events and networking – all with a strong thread of communications. Being very much of the moment, the Humber is fuelling demand for high quality offices, hotels, restaurants, shops and leisure facilities with new investments being made consistently across these areas – never more so than right now, linked to the City of Culture reign. With its expertise in demand around the world, the development of a knowledge-rich society

has become ever more important to the Humber. Developing and harnessing talent has become a major focus, and linked to the progressive nature of its industrial sectors, investment in educational excellence and leading training facilities is being made within the region to solidify its legacy. Bondholders work is also about winning the hearts and minds of the people who live here

and the ones looking at the region from across the world. The contents of this Bondholders section will highlight just a part of the regionwide story being told. In the following pages you will meet some of the members, and see the ground-breaking work they are doing here and how it is helping build the foundations of the new Humber. n

PORTS & LOGISTICS The Humber has the UK’s busiest ports complex, with its location and connectivity making it the natural home for a unique combination of port-related logistics and manufacturing knowhow. CHEMICALS World-class expertise in chemical research, innovation and manufacturing is also put in to use every day, with the Humber having the second largest chemicals cluster, bringing eight world-class chemicals and green energy businesses together. RENEWABLES The Humber is leading the UK renewables sector with a collective of over £700million being invested through Siemens, Able, ABP and the development of Greenport Hull. Between 2015 and 2020 Dong Energy will have invested a colossal £6bn, including the development of the world’s largest Offshore Wind Farm right here in the Humber. This will support an average of 1,600 construction jobs per year and an estimated 500 long-term jobs could be created in the company’s operations and maintenance activity post 2020. FOOD The region is also a vital food provider, at the centre of the UK’s seafood industry and having the largest concentration of food manufacturing research, storage and distribution in Europe. Over 500 companies within the Humber contribute £1bn to the UK economy and employ over 28,500 people. DIGITAL Worth an estimated £7bn its Digital Sector is thriving too, boasting the largest cluster of digital expertise outside of London and some of the most advanced broadband in the country. 58,000 people work across digital activities regionally and in late 2015, Hull opened a new £4m Centre for Digital Innovation in further demonstration of its commitment to developing its leading approach.


INTERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

INTERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

Business built on 100 acres of Yorkshire James Turner, MD of Swift Leisure, tells BQ editor Mike Hughes why caravanning is cool and sales are soaring Let me start at the end... If you’ve got a few minutes before you go I’ll show you the site, offered James Turner in one of the offices at the very smart Swift Leisure headquarters at Dunswell Road, Cottingham, just outside Hull. We strolled out... and fifteen minutes later we still have not reached the other side of the 100acre site. It is a vast area, but with everything filed away in its own section. James keeps himself fit with a walk through the site every morning, along routes defined by full pallets of parts, caravans, motorhomes and access into the huge production area, to check all is right for the day’s production. Most impressive of all is that the hundreds of caravans here – soon to be moved to a new storage area at the furthest part of the site to allow expansion of the main production facility are either already sold or being sold. Forget Clarkson and his Amazonian mates, caravans are cool. Now back to the beginning, MD James Turner says his business is in a good place thanks, in part, to a stronger UK economy and better consumer confidence, but inevitably helped by

a bit of good British weather. There is a great divide between caravanning in the wind and rain and the same under blue skies and warm sunshine. “It gives the whole industry a good footing on which to base their performance,” he tells me. “I guess what is different at Swift is that we are pressing on with product development all the time, introducing new ones and changing how existing ones look to give an advantage to the consumer. “If you put the economy and the consumer enthusiasm together you get a reasonable result. We are a fashion industry and often track domestic trends, but consumers like to see a new product so that’s what we give them.” Those products, brought together by more than 1,000 employees, cover a vast range from a £14,000 Sprite, the UK’s best-selling caravan brand, to an £80,000 luxury version of the longestablished Kon-tiki motorhome and on to 11 different holiday homes. James, aged 46, is proud of that range, which makes it pretty much impossible to visit any campsite in Britain and not see one of his Yorkshire-grown products being used.


“The majority of our products change on an annual basis, but that could just be small cosmetic changes, but then we are also more akin to the car industry in that we will make major engineering changes and deeper styling changes on a rolling periodic basis around every three to five years.” It all started more than 50 years ago, when the present chairman’s father, Ken Smith, started Swift in 1964, later passing the title to his son Peter. “I joined 22 years ago as a production engineer, so I have quite a long history with the firm,” said James. “I spent the bulk of my time in manufacturing, but have worked my way through the business in various positions, including engineering and production management, which means I tend to know my way around the site and the product reasonably well. “Even 22 years ago when I was working in the aerospace industry in Leeds, Swift was a well-known organisation and a market leader. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing because it was a difficult place in which to make visible changes. “I hadn’t planned on a return to Hull, but Swift is a business where you can see your output on a daily basis and make effective and positive change. I saw the advert, applied and got the engineering job.” James’s role back then was important for the future development of the brand as he helped define new methods and processes for the factory and bought the equipment those new processes needed to change the way the product was put together. “We have changed a reasonable amount over the years, including adding holiday homes to the portfolio, which is now a really good growth area for us, and the way we construct the vehicles has also changed in terms of materials and methods. “It’s very important to us that alongside marketing the actual products we make, we believe in very positive promotion of the lifestyle they can give our customers. It is a way of


INTERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

spending time with your family, which is very special, and getting to the outdoors. It is very much a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign where the caravan is the hero of that moment when the family needs a holiday together. “If the family is talking at Christmas about what they have been up to together over the year, the holiday that the kids remember is the week in the caravan or holiday home as opposed to the fortnight abroad. That happens because you’re closely connected and living in a comfortable space together. That’s a powerful message.” He’s right, and my own mind flashes back almost 50 years to holidays in Bude and Perranporth in Cornwall, filled with buckets and spades, the smell of the gas mantle, sand on the floor of the caravan and box after box of games behind those sliding doors under the bench seats. There was a unique warmth – and affordability – of those times for the Hughes family, and although the gas mantles have long gone, the boxes of games are still a part of the atmosphere James’s customers are looking for. “We understand why people who try it get really hooked and in terms of the way the

“The company has exported to Holland for many years, has recently started selling in Germany and has just added Sweden to the list” product performs, it is much more robust now,” he says. “We have two construction techniques, Smart Plus and Smart HT. The HT is entirely timberless and is put together with large aluminium extrusions where the panels interlock. Where we do see the occasional accident, the caravan always comes off better than the car.” James’s answer to the obvious follow-up question is that yes, he has tried his firm’s caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes with his own family and is a big fan of the freedom and the time they allow with the children. Back to business: founder Ken Smith was from Hull, which is why the group grew at Cottingham, but now a remarkable 80% of the UK’s holiday homes are built by firms in this area, including Beverley and Hull.

“We are here because our chairman’s father was here,” says James. “But there was a huge amount of timber being imported into Hull at that time which was one of the drivers for the growth of the sector. Swift now has three sites, 100 acres here where we make the touring caravans and also base the admin, design and sales teams. “At our site in Hull we manufacture about 60% of our holiday homes and in Mexborough, which we acquired when we bought Autocruise Motorhomes, we now build about 80% of our motorhomes – all built on Fiat cabs.” That’s the UK side of the operation but, perhaps surprisingly, there is a strong exports market for these little pieces of Yorkshire craftsmanship. The company has exported to Holland for many years, has recently started selling in Germany, a notoriously tough market for English products, and has just added Sweden to the list. “The work is predominantly in touring caravans and motorhomes. We have a little export of holiday homes, but they are a very large object and they are not flat-packed, so you are shipping quite a lot of fresh air when you export them to France or Belgium.

INTERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

“On a more global scale, we are exporting to South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, where the attraction starts with the fact that they drive on the same side of the road as us. So our vehicles that are right-hand drive with the habitation doors on the left are already 90% engineered for those markets. “There has been a trend in Australia – where the market is about 18,000 -19,000 units a year – to move more towards a European-style product rather than the locally produced ones that are more off-road to cope with the Outback conditions. Our models are made for sealed Tarmac roads and Australia has more of them now because it has come a very long way in the last decade or so and customers look for a more luxurious and lightweight product. The South Korea sales started in a reassuringly old-fashioned way, with a conversation at a trade fair and a growing awareness of lifestyle choices being made there. Back home, James senses a confidence in the air for the whole region, driven by the Siemens headlines and the awarding of the City of Culture for next year. “The Siemens move is driving expectations in the labour market and we are an organisation looking to employ more people – and we are not unique in that. Our industry is doing well, so some of our competitors are looking to recruit along with other local industries. “We have just launched the Swift Academy, which recognises the need to develop people within the organisation and means around 10% of our employees are in some form of education activity. “We also took on a number of apprentices last year and are committed to doing that on an annual basis, as well as recruiting from graduate schemes into areas throughout the company. “This is all part of what makes this such an interesting place to work, we do the lot, accounting, joinery, fabrication, 3D modelling, rapid prototyping all the skills associated with the car industry but we just don’t shout as much about them. “It doesn’t look like a very glamorous or exciting industry, but it is and if we carry on as we are we will get to the stage where people instinctively say they would like to buy a Swift rather than just buy a caravan.” With the company now making more than 8,000 caravans a year, working 24 hours a day

to keep up with demand, there is momentum and commitment here that has taken it to top spot for touring caravan and motorhome sales, and third spot for holiday home manufacturing. With that label of ‘market leader’ comes the expectation of innovation and Swift has certainly changed the look of caravans since the Hughes family invaded Perranporth. Instead of the gas mantles, for instance, Smart Command lets you control the heating and lighting from your phone or tablet, neither of which we had in the Sixties and Seventies. “The saying is ‘innovate or die’ and as the technology changes we like to be at the forefront, grasping the challenges,” said James. “That keeps the pace of development and delivery relentless, with computer simulation at all stages, then put it all through a lifecycle around a test track at Millbrook in Bedfordshire.” Looking ahead, there is a rolling five-year plan for all Swift’s ranges which allows James to see what will be changing and when it will happen, and what technological or manufacturing advances will be needed to get there. “My role in the organisation is to make sure that all the facets are knitted together and all aligned in one direction, and that people have the scope within their roles to be creative so that we can draw out of them all the ways they think they can improve the company.


“It is a very broad role that takes in everything from pricing a product, to making sure we get the right margins to finding out how engineers will make a particular new element and where that will sit in the factory. “From a customer’s perspective a product is tracked using a system called Connect. From its initial build through to dispatch and onwards through every point of service and contact with the vehicle dealership. “We also allow customers of our high-end products to access parts of Connect, so they can order a spare part from us directly and we can send it out there and then.” Backed up by a 13,000-member social media community called Swift Talk, this is innovation at work and shows there is a confidence and depth of experience at Swift that is allowing it to look deeply into its own organisation and constantly refresh the four Ps - products, people, processes and profits. A 100-acre business can hardly be a secret, but the speed of growth at Swift and its dominance and influence in a global market might still be a surprise to many in the region. The company’s approach to a market and product it knows down to every last nut and bolt is impressive –and the fact that those nuts and bolts are sitting in some of the most scenic surroundings on the planet is something for every Yorkshire business to applaud. n


OVERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

The Humber: The international gateway for logistics Currently experiencing brisk growth and an economic revival, the Humber region is building on its rich maritime heritage and emerging rapidly as the UK’s Energy Estuary, an international hub for energy and renewables. As home to the country’s largest, multi-purpose ports complex – ‘HumberPort’, the region is experiencing significant growth in the trade of fuel, cars, food, freight, passengers and petroleum. Over £6bn of private investment and Government funding are helping to drive the Humber’s prosperity, with industry-leading developments placing the spotlight on the region’s rich ambition. CAPITALISING ON THE HUMBER’S STRONG POSITION The projected increase in employment opportunities in the ports, energy and logistics sectors presents a fantastic opportunity for the Humber region, as well as in the wider UK economy. In the UK alone, 2.2 million people are employed in logistics – a number that is set to rise. However, recruitment remains a challenge. There are worker shortages, with an ageing workforce a contributing factor, along with the fact that the industry struggles to attract young people. In order to reach the potential in the thriving Humber region, the Grimsby Institute and the Humber LEP have joined forces to create Modal Training, a leading training initiative for the region. It will ensure that businesses operating in the ports, energy and logistics sectors have access to the training support they need to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Modal Training intends to work with them to develop their existing teams, train new members and raise the profile of career opportunities in these sectors to facilitate future recruitment. Once in full operation in September, Modal Training will enjoy an ideal location in Immingham, on the south bank of the Humber, Europe’s fourth-largest trading estuary. Until now businesses and their employees have

Kongsberg’s Class A full mission K-Sim Offshore vessel simulator, which will form the centrepiece of the maritime simulation kit at Modal Training

had to travel to access this specialised skills training. Now it’s available in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Not only will it help businesses in this area benefit, but Modal Training will serve companies from across the UK and internationally. THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTIMODAL Multimodal logistics plays a key role in the Humber, connecting businesses in the region with the rest of the UK and beyond, via road, rail, air and sea. Modal Training will be the first in the UK to offer integrated, multimodal logistics training, as well as a full range of support services. The idea of having everything under one roof is to centralise training for

businesses who often have more than one requirement, or who are part of a supply chain with multimodal disciplines that need more consistency and connectivity between them. INVESTMENT IN WORLD-CLASS SIMULATOR TRAINING Modal Training’s new £7million centre of excellence will be located in a 5,696 sq m bespoke designed facility, equipped with stateof-the-art simulators for training maritime crew, truck and crane drivers. It will deliver realistic training in a wide range of settings. The first phase of work is currently underway and will include the learning resource centre, with its ICT suite, classrooms and

OVERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature


“Modal Training’s new £7million centre of excellence will be located in a 5,696 sq m bespoke designed facility, equipped with state-of-the-art simulators for training maritime crew, truck and crane drivers”

Modal Directors Sam Whitaker, left, Vice-Principal for Strategic Projects at the Grimsby Institute and Board Member of Modal Training, and Patrick Henry, CEO of Modal Training, at the Humber Bridge

seminar and conference facilities, followed by the installation of simulators, as well as a live rail track centre. It will also include warehouse operational training and working at height training to support the renewables and energy sectors in the region. Modal Training has recently made its first investment in simulation – a full suite of advanced ship, offshore vessel, engine room and radar simulators from Kongsberg Maritime, the global leader in marine training technology. The equipment, which includes a detailed 360 degrees model of the Humber, will be used to support the delivery of advanced training courses for maritime professionals and businesses. The simulators will enable Modal to offer training that effectively replicates the working

environment for a wide range of maritime roles, including bridge crews, navigators, maritime engineers and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) operators. Each part of the simulator system can be operated independently, or be interconnected to provide full vessel operation exercises for an entire crew. Modal Training listened to leading companies from across the maritime, offshore and renewables industries, and is now in the process of developing an extensive suite of equipment designed to meet their real-world training requirements exactly. INDUSTRY-LEADING EXPERTISE The idea behind Modal Training is to provide training of the absolute highest quality to

businesses across the logistics supply chain. Not only does there have to be investment in advanced equipment and facilities to achieve this, but also a solid, knowledgeable team to develop and deliver these courses – through in-house staff, as well as training provider partnerships. Modal Training is currently designing and creating courses and workshops for freight forwarding in the logistics industry. This includes workshops that are specific to the HMRC AEO accreditation application process, which businesses can take advantage of from May 2016, when changes in EU customs rules come into force. n Visit


CASE STUDY Bondholders BQ special feature

Open for business The University of Hull has played a pivotal role in supporting businesses

Fact file

Haydn Ward, R&D project leader at BemroseBooth Paragon and University of Hull chemistry graduate, and Rob Burgin, managing director of BemroseBooth Paragon.

• The University of Hull generated nearly £1bn for the UK economy and supported 8,000 jobs last year. • The University advises and supports Governments all over the world. • It made the UK’s top 50 institutions for research power. • A £200m investment programme is well underway to create an outstanding student experience.

CASE STUDY Bondholders BQ special feature


Hull University does more than getting the best from undergraduates. Last year, they made critical breakthroughs for industry, celebrated the success of the University of Hull’s lifesaving work and helped fledgling businesses get off the ground. Here we take a look at a few examples of the University’s work VIRTUAL STARS Gaming is a growth industry in the region because education and business have combined to create a fertile breeding ground for creative entrepeneurs. Hull graduates have founded a number of companies making their mark in global industry. These include Gateway Interactive whose debut title Spectre has been launched on the Xbox One and VISR whose virtual reality headsets were used to view 3D scenes at the UK premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Leicester Square. Knowledge gained from the University coupled with support from mentoring organisation Platform Studios helps graduates make Hull the springboard for them to enter the global digital gaming market. BetaJester’s director Adam Boyne said: “BetaJester would not be where we are without the opportunities and support available at the University of Hull and through Platform.”

“Without a shadow of a doubt BetaJester would not be where we are without the opportunities and support available at the University of Hull and through Platform.” MAKING A GLOBAL IMPRESSION Ink developed by Hull Chemistry graduate Haydn Ward is being used on tickets for everything from the New York Subway to the Paris Metro and UK rail tickets. Haydn graduated with a first class honours in Chemistry in the summer of 2014. A day later he began work at BemroseBooth Paragon (BBP), in Hull, after signing up to undertake a Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme, a part governmentfunded programme to encourage collaborations between businesses and universities. Haydn’s primary task was to formulate magnetic ink that could be used in the manufacture of tickets.

Adam Boyne, Ryan Lay and Josh Porter, University of Hull computer science graduates and Co-Founders of BetaJester

“We have been extremely impressed by the University, by the knowledge, the commitment, the enthusiasm and support.” This was followed by ‘scale-up’, through the design and development of a full-scale ink manufacturing plant. For several years BBP had been buying magnetic ink from an external supplier but it became essential for the company to develop its own solution for the ink. Twelve months after beginning the KTP, Haydn, who was keenly supported by the University partners, had developed ten types of magnetic ink. The ink has helped BBP to secure a multi-million pound contract with UK rail and other organisations around the globe.Haydn said: “If I look back at what I have achieved over this last year, I find it incredible. I couldn’t have been given a better opportunity than this.” Haydn is now trying to develop new products using the ink he has developed as well as undertaking a higher degree in Chemical Engineering. Rob Burgin, MD of BBP, said: “We have all gained a great deal from our partnership with the University. Haydn is an asset to the company and his work has contributed to the future stability and profitability of the company. We have been extremely impressed by the University, by the knowledge, the commitment, the enthusiasm and the support.” LIFE SAVING DEVELOPMENT This year marks the tenth anniversary of the University of Hull’s development of critical software to help fire fighters in their

lifesaving work. In 2005 Cleveland Fire Brigade asked the University of Hull to help them develop 999 emergency mobilisation systems so that fire fighters could use computer technology. Today SEED, a unit within the University’s Department of Computer Science, has a portfolio of ten products, but its flagship software remains the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), first used a decade ago. The refined and updated MDT helps firefighters from all over the country get to the scene by the most effective route, provides vital hazard information, rescue procedures and secure communications. Firefighters say it helps them save lives. Humberside Fire and Rescue Operations manager Robert Hawkins, who has been a firefighter for 29 years said: “It has changed how we approach a job. When we are on our way to a fire or an accident I can see exactly where we are going and I can begin to plan how we will manage the situation before we arrive. For example, if we are going to a fire in a terraced house, I can see the street before we arrive and I can work out how the crew can get round the back of the house. The clock is always ticking for us, particularly if someone is trapped

“The University of Hull has changed how we approach an emergency.” in a burning house and this equipment saves us time which is vital – it could be the difference between life and death.” SEED now serves more than a third of the UK fire and rescue services. n


CASE STUDY Bondholders BQ special feature

A champion of the energy estuary At the heart of the Humber’s ‘energy estuary’, Vivergo Fuels is not only a major contributor to the regional and wider UK economy but is significantly reducing transport emission levels

CASE STUDY Bondholders BQ special feature

At the heart of the Humber’s ‘energy estuary’, Vivergo Fuels is not only a major contributor to the regional and wider UK economy but is significantly reducing transport emission levels. Vivergo Fuels was established in 2007 and has grown into one of the UK and Europe’s largest producers of protein rich animal feed and bioethanol – a renewable transport fuel blended with petrol. Occupying a major site on the Saltend Chemicals Park, Vivergo represents a £350m investment into the Humber region and wider UK economy. The Vivergo Fuels plant commenced production in 2013, and directly employs more than 100 highly-skilled people at its two sites in East Yorkshire. Vivergo, owned by AB Sugar and Dupont, produces 420 million litres of bioethanol a year – enough to meet half of the UK’s current demand. Importantly, the bioethanol produced by Vivergo Fuels is already blended seamlessly in the UK’s petrol pumps hundreds of thousands of times a day with its bioethanol offering greenhouse gas savings of more than 50 per cent against standard petrol production, the equivalent of taking 180,000 cars off the road. The plant also produces up to 450,000 tonnes of animal feed per year. “At Vivergo Fuels, we produce sustainable and environmentally friendly feed and fuel. We take locally sourced animal feed-wheat that would normally be exported, and turn it into bioethanol and highly nutritious animal feed, benefitting the environment, the economy and the food chain,” explains Rick Taylor, Commercial Director of Vivergo Fuels. Vivergo Fuels’s strategic location in Hull is a key reason for its success. “The Humber region has proved to be the ideal location for Vivergo Fuels’s world-scale biorefinery and we are proud to be leading the advancement of biofuels here,” says Rick. “Our administrative head office is in Hessle which has excellent transport links. And although numerous sites were considered for our plant, Saltend Chemicals Park offered clear advantages. “Firstly, it boasts an attractive combination of existing infrastructure and utilities, available land and a skilled workforce. “It is also in close proximity to the UK’s wheat belt area; one of the highest yielding in the world, as well as offering combined heat and power technology, which supplies sufficient steam and power to our bio-refinery. “Finally, Saltend Chemical Park’s deep port


“We produce sustainable and environmentally friendly feed and fuel. We take locally sourced animal feed-wheat that would normally be exported, and turn it into bioethanol and highly nutritious animal feed, benefiting the environment, the economy and the food chain” location helps to optimise supply chain logistics, by providing us with easy access to both UK and European ports.” And the company is rightly proud of its location in Hull. “Vivergo Fuels is a champion for the Humber region, its economy and its aspiration to be the UK’s ‘energy estuary’”, explains Rick. “We are proud to employ a skilled workforce – recruiting many of our colleagues from the Humber region - and to date we have raised and donated in excess of £300,000 in support of local charity and community groups.” During the construction and operational stages of its development Vivergo Fuels worked closely with Jobcentre Plus to offer training and employment opportunities to the local population. Almost a dozen local apprentices worked on the construction site while 24 unemployed people were offered training opportunities through Jobcentre Plus, six of whom have gone on to secure permanent employment within the company in highly skilled positions. And Vivergo Fuels recently recruited two apprentices to work in its plant maintenance team. At full production, Vivergo Fuels is the UK’s biggest single-source supplier of animal feed, providing enough protein to feed around 20 per cent of the UK dairy herd, the equivalent of

feeding 340,000 cows per day. “We buy feed grade wheat direct from UK wheat and arable farmers – and supply high quality protein back to dairy farmers, with almost half the volume of wheat returned as animal feed. “This has clear advantages for the agricultural sector, with our bioethanol manufacture boosting the fortunes of wheat farmers across the region to the value of £1m a month, as opposed to the smaller export value they could achieve. “Vivergo Fuels provides a uniquely sustainable option for alternative energy production, efficiently converting UK feed-wheat into both bioethanol and animal feed. “The sustainable, traceable and high quality protein produced replaces imports that historically have accounted for up to 80% of the protein needed for UK agriculture. “And as the UK’s biggest wheat buyer, we offer a 365 day demand for local arable farmers – providing a new sales channel, often giving more competitive rates for their feed-wheat as opposed to the previous export of the product. “We aim to source from local farms within a 50mile radius; which has created a new market for animal feed grade wheat, and directly supports local farmers and agriculture in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.” n

E10 - The Greener Fuel Vivergo Fuels is supporting industry calls for the Government to support the introduction of E10, a renewable transport fuel containing 10 per cent ethanol – roughly double the amount contained currently in the petrol motorists buy from the pumps. The use of E10 in transport fuel has the potential to help significantly in reducing global emission levels. It has been introduced at pumps all over the world, including the USA, New Zealand and Brazil, as well as in Europe where it is proving increasingly popular in Finland, France and Germany. All cars built since 2000 can use E10 without any changes to the vehicle, and from this March onwards, every new vehicle will be optimised for E10. Although Vivergo Fuels is enjoying positive progress from its Humber base, the company is keen to support the wider industry. “We’re keen to support the UK Government in the adoption of E10 as the fastest, most cost effective and straightforward channel for the UK to meet vital renewable energy renewable energy targets,” concludes Rick.


OVERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

Over 100 years old and still “one to watch” Wilkin Chapman has expanded throughout the Humber region and beyond, but it has not outgrown the values which lie behind its success Pan-Humber law firm, Wilkin Chapman Solicitors

they prepare to expand in a number of areas.

substantial clients, such as the Brocklesby Estate.

welcomed the arrival of new chief executive, Des

The firm’s history started in 1900, when Wilkin &

The firm’s commercial property team, led by Ruth

Mannion in April 2015, taking over from, Julia

Chapman was created by James Whiteley Wilkin

Brewin also has a very impressive portfolio of

Whittaker who had served 28 years. In her time,

and Ben Chapman. Grange Wintringham, with

clients throughout the UK. The large team act for

Julia led Wilkin Chapman through five mergers and

whom the firm merged in 2010, came into being in

5 regional divisions of Linden Homes along with

acquisitions, leading to it being recognised as one

the 1860s. Beverley-based, Cooper & Wright, with

award winning local developer Cyden Homes and

of the region’s legal powerhouses. Prior to joining,

whom it merged in 2005, was created in 1880. In

Maltgrade, the owner and developer of the hugely

Des fulfilled the role of operations director in Grant

a fascinating and complex history where the past

successful leisure complex at Meridian Point in

Thornton’s UK Advisory Practice, London, but was

has shaped the present, one of the constants is the

Cleethorpes. Moving further afield, the firm acts

drawn to the fantastic opportunity of leading a

firm’s core values which place the client at the heart

for national clients such as Aga Rangemaster PLC,

thriving and well-managed regional business.

of the firm.

manufacturer of the iconic Aga.

Upon joining Wilkin Chapman’s head office

Wilkin Chapman has continued to expand

The firm also has a specialist division acting in the

in Grimsby, Des said: “The Humber has great

experiencing yet another successful year in 2015,

healthcare sector with clients such as Care Plus

opportunities for businesses with ‘The Northern

with turnover rising by 10.4% to £20.3m, up from

Group and Navigo.

Powerhouse’ offering exciting developments. 2015

£13.38m in 2013-14. Revenue has risen by 44% in

The Corporate and Commercial arm of the business

saw the World Seafood Congress descend upon

the last five years - achieved by organic growth and

has substantially developed, currently advising on

Grimsby, the offshore wind sector continues to

mergers on both sides of the Humber.

deals worth in excess of £350m. Grimsby-based

develop and business as a whole appears

Now employing over 400 staff, of which 47 are

partner, Ian Sherburn, views client relationships

very buoyant.”

partners through 9 regional offices, this full service

as an integral part of the service, and with an

Now, almost a year in to the role, Des has embarked

law firm has recruited professionals with expertise

impressive list of regional, national and international

on a process of increasing partners’ involvement in

in very specialist areas to ensure they can deliver the

clients, acts for firms such as Yara UK Limited,

management and cross-departmental integration.

best possible service locally, regionally and nationally.

Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises and those

Wilkin Chapman has begun 2016 taking on 11 new

The firm prides itself on not just delivering excellent

listed below.

staff members, appointing seven legal executives,

legal advice but commercially aware business advice.

The employment team, led by partner Teresa

a senior solicitor, solicitor and two modern

The agriculture sector is one of the largest specialist

Thomas, delivers HR and employment law advice

apprentices. In late 2015 the firm increased the

areas the firm serves. Appointed for the seventh

to clients based across multi-sectors and includes

number of trainee solicitors from 4 to 8, reflecting

consecutive year as the NFU legal panel member

national clients such as Mizkan Euro Limited who

their structured growth and development plans as

for the East Midlands region, the firm acts for some

manufacture the popular brands Branston pickle,

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Sarson’s Vinegar and Haywards, as well as Dunlop

recommendations and seven individual lawyer

Oil and Marine, North East Lincolnshire Council and

rankings, singling out the firm’s agricultural and

Total UK.

rural affairs expertise across York, Hull and the

A recent growth area for the firm is the education

surrounding region. Corporate and commercial

sector. With the introduction of academies, the

property teams, as well as several of the firm’s

conversion of schools to academy status and the

partners were also acknowledged – further

establishment of multi-academy trusts, the firm has

testament to Wilkin Chapman’s knowledge and

developed an expertise which supports the sector

proficiency. Putting this into context – there are over

through the entire conversion processes and future

10,000 law firms in the UK.

development needs, acting for clients such as Tollbar

Whilst favouring the top flight, the firm can also

Multi Academy Trust. Jane Eatock, partner in the

boast client confidence. In the 2015 edition of

employment law team, has recently organised and

Legal 500, compiled through feedback from

delivered the second education conference drawing

clients and those working in the legal market,

in speakers from Osfted to address delegates from

Wilkin Chapman was recognised for its ‘excellent

across the region.

practice’, ‘intelligence and experience’. The results

The future for the firm is further enhanced by the

reinforce the firm’s reputation as a leading national

move later this year into new four-storey offices on

recoveries specialist across a wide range of sectors, with their recovery, insolvency and corporate

built around staff training and development, a

“The Cartergate development is great example of local partnership to create a winwin scenario for the Council, Wilkin Chapman and the wider community as part of the regeneration of Grimsby town centre.”

commitment that we work very hard to maintain.”


instructions are generally a sign of more activity

the Cartergate site in Grimsby. The site, has been derelict for at least seven years, and Des said: “We are the biggest law firm in the area by some margin and we like as much as possible to work in partnership with the Council in terms of regenerating the town. This is also a key part of our own progression and development. We want to invest in the local community and all that comes with it. As an ‘Investor in People’, we have a very clear ethos

Having been situated within the Humber since infancy, its location has led to the firm’s expertise in renewables - working with landowners, developers and investors on wind farm projects ranging from single 300/500KS – 1MW turbines, through to multi-landowner projects of 15 – 40 megawatts. They have also built considerable expertise in the biomass field, advising on projects such as the acquisition and construction of a 400kw anaerobic digestion facility in Huddersfield. In the recent well respected Lawyer UK 200 publication, which ranks the top 200 legal firms by

turnover, Wilkin Chapman moved up the rankings six places to 105th nationwide. Identified as a ‘regional trailblazer’ and as one of only two firms mentioned in Yorkshire, Humber and the entire East and West Midlands, Wilkin Chapman was cited as the ‘one to watch’. Adding to their national accolades, Wilkin Chapman gained further legal recognition in another of the UK’s prominent legal publications, the Chambers 2016 guide. The law firm received five practice area

recovery department being specifically recognised. The recoveries team, headed by partner Chris Grocock, achieved a tier one ranking for the third consecutive year, experiencing a remarkable first six months of 2015, with growth of 18% achieved across a number of significant contract wins. The firm’s commercial property and agriculture teams also sit in the tier one position. CEO Des Mannion explained: “Our business growth is a reflection of increasing consumer confidence. Increases in within both the consumer and business markets. For example, the growth of our recovery team over the past six months has meant the breadth and depth of this service has been strengthened, enabling us to enhance our national debt recovery expertise for the utilities, local authorities, properties and credit union sectors.” With more than a century of experience behind them, and with leading sector commentators describing them as ‘one to watch’ Wilkin Chapman is set to continue its remarkable growth, underlining its position as one of the country’s top law firms. n


OVERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

A people-focused culture is still at the heart of company’s success Trusting in its own culture and seeking long term partnerships has brought customer loyalty to the Sewell Group

OVERVIEW Bondholders BQ special feature

A business leader has reaffirmed his belief that people and relationships are at the heart of business growth. Hull-founded Sewell Group is famous for being a Sunday Times ‘Best Company to Work For’ business and has delivered over £500m of new and improved buildings within East Yorkshire over the past decade. Now, its project management expertise and people focused culture are being sought-after further afield. The firm has recently transformed a Grade II listed Print Hall into a stunning library and learning space on behalf of Leeds City College in the emerging South Bank of Leeds, and is currently on site preparing the second Print Hall for a significant refurbishment scheduled for later this year. Sewell is also working with the University of Leeds, refurbishing a four storey geography block into a new School of Fine Arts, and is supporting Huddersfield based Greenhead College with an extension building. Managing director Paul Sewell explained that the business has not proactively planned to stretch its geography so rapidly, but has been fortunate in finding partners that regard relationships and ‘cultural fit’ as highly as Sewell. “What we think we do really well is work as a single team with our partners and their consultants to find and deliver solutions, whether that be through investment, construction, or facilities management” said Paul. “We want long term partnerships with likeminded partners, who believe in honest and open relationships and see the benefits when we’re in it for the long haul. “We have our own investment portfolio, and over the years we’ve developed our learning in sustainability and flexible design, so it’s in our nature to approach every project as if it was our own investment, thinking about the whole life of the building, rather than just the immediate project that’s in front of us.” Sewell Group’s construction division has been recognised for its approach in a published academic journal, written by Professor Terry Williams, Dean of University of Hull Business School. The internationally recognised paper echoes that culture and a single


University of Hull’s £30m student residences.

“It has been refreshing to work with a partner who not only espouses collaboration but truly believes and delivers on their promises.” JASON CHALLENDER, DIRECTOR OF PHYSICAL RESOURCES AT LEEDS CITY COLLEGE team, partnership mentality breeds construction excellence. Paul continued: “When I look at our success over the past ten to fifteen years, it has been all about our culture. We know who we want to be and who we are. It is not easy but we trust our culture and believe that, as long as we deliver construction excellence, our customers will remain loyal. “We have to stick to what we believe in a crowded market place. We’re not the knocking on doors kind of business. Our partnership approach will suit some customers, others it won’t. “We’ve been fortunate to find some fantastic partners in Leeds who have the same partnership ethos as us. We work as a single team and when there are problems, we run towards them together and put them right.” But the firm is far from turning its back on its

home city. Sewell is project managing The University of Hull’s £30m student residences. Work on the University’s new complex at its Cottingham Road campus is progressing at a pace and will see six new accommodation blocks, housing 560 students, open in September 2016. Paul said: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to be carrying out such a significant and prestigious project for our own University, in our home city. The benefit of the completed project to the University will match the benefit to the local economy. “At this stage it’s very much a volume project. In the last 20 weeks of the development we’ll be completing 33 bedrooms each week.” Sewell is also supporting Hull City Council with its legacy projects as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2017, a 365 day programme of arts and cultural events to be hosted in the city.


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Managing director Paul Sewell with Hull2017 chief executive Martin Green

Subject to financial close, the Hull New Theatre scheme will include a part demolition of the building to the rear of the facility, a reconfiguration of the backstage access and stage improvements. The customer experience will also be much improved with improved front of house facilities. Reinforcing its support and commitment to Hull, the business has also given its backing to the nation’s next major cultural event, signing up to a major sponsorship deal. “Hosting UK City of Culture 2017 is a phenomenal accolade for Hull and it is only right that local businesses and their partners now support them in making the most of the year” said Paul. “This is a major investment for a company like ours, but it’s also a major national and international event. No one wants to look back in 2020 feeling they could have made more of it. We have to grasp these opportunities now.” n

“We want long term partnerships with like-minded partners, who believe in honest and open relationships and see the benefits when we’re in it for the long haul”

Subject to financial close, Sewell will be refurbishing Hull New Theatre

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