Auction centre set up by property agent

Property consultant Eddisons has launched a new national auction centre in Bradford as the headquarters of its machinery and business assets team.

The 15,000 sq ft building, on Ounsworth Street in the city, which opened earlier this year, is currently filled with several thousand items, from classic cars to fabrication equipment, that are awaiting disposal via auction.

Jason Pinder, Eddisons machinery and business assets director who heads up the auction centre team, said: “We have really stepped up the asset disposal side of the business and the new UK auction centre enables us to provide an even more responsive service to our clients.”

With a team of five machinery and business assets staff currently on board, Eddisons expects to make further hires later in the year to meet the growing demand for the sale of assets by auction.

“We are making big strides in gaining new business from private organisations that have assets they want to sell, alongside the work we do holding auctions as part of the insolvency process,” said Mr Pinder.

“Auctioning assets is increasingly becoming the go-to method of disposing of outdated or surplus machinery that is taking up space, reducing efficiency and tying up funds, providing swift and profitable returns.

“The new auction centre gives us ample room to store and display items that are due to go under the hammer and as Bradford is well connected to the motorway network, we are able to dispose of assets for clients from right across the country,” he added.

ENDS

Photos:  From left: Zoe Bridgestock, Jason Pinder, Richard Temple, Leanne Lingwood at Eddisons national auction centre, Bradford

New apprentice for IT provider

One of the region’s leading IT services providers, Vital Technology Group, has taken on a new apprentice in its technical department to help provide further support for its growing client base.

Vital's Tom Harrow
Vital’s Tom Harrow

The appointment comes on the back of the Wetherby-based company being awarded Microsoft Gold Partner status for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions, as well as Silver Partner Status for Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Seventeen-year-old Tom Harrow lives in Chapel Allerton and joins Vital after a year studying for AS-levels at the city’s Allerton Grange High School.

He will now split his time between Vital’s Audby Lane office and specialist training college QA, in central Leeds, where he will work towards gaining industry recognised qualifications from Microsoft and CompTIA.

Tom said: “I’ve always had a knack for IT and really enjoy working with computers, but after a year of studying at sixth form I realised that I’d rather be doing something more hands-on than merely studying, so I’m really pleased that Vital has taken me on as an apprentice.”

Lee Evans, managing director of Vital Technology Group, said: “Tom isn’t the first person to have joined us having made the brave decision to leave sixth form in favour of a more practical career.

“It’s great to welcome him to the Vital team and onto our award-winning apprenticeship programme, where I’m sure he will excel.”

Anniversary celebration includes extra staff holidays

Bradford head quartered car retailer JCT600, one of the largest privately owned companies in the UK, last week (20 June) marked its 70th anniversary by inviting all of its 2,300 colleagues to a celebratory lunch and giving them all a special gift of an extra day’s holiday.

Colleagues from the company’s head office and its 50 dealerships from Lincolnshire to Newcastle marked the special occasion by enjoying lunch courtesy of JCT600 and will be able to take an additional day’s holiday in the next 12 months.

Founded in 1946 by Jack Tordoff, current chairman and father of chief executive John Tordoff, the historic business began life as Brooklands Garage on Sticker Lane, Bradford, subsequently becoming Tordoff Motors and selling its first vehicle, a Jowett van, for just £175.  In 1961, the current company name was born after Jack bought a Mercedes 600 with the registration JCT600, which included his own initials.  Over the last seven decades, it has grown from a single dealership into a £1.1bn turnover company, representing 18 of the world’s leading car marques and selling more than a million vehicles.

John Tordoff, chief executive of JCT600, said: “We have come a long way over the last 70 years and are very proud not only of our long heritage, but also of the fact that we have remained true to our family values.  Putting the customer first remains central to everything we do and this is only possible if we have a committed and loyal team which shares our culture.

“As we continue to strive to make JCT600 the best place to work, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank every single colleague for their hard work by ensuring that they are all included in our anniversary celebrations and feel appreciated for their part in the company’s success.”

With its head office in Bradford, JCT600 is a family business with 50 dealerships throughout Yorkshire, the North East, the Humber, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.  It sells 18 of the world’s most respected brands such as Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW/MINI, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

PR firm takes on two staff

Huddersfield based marketing, PR and social media agency, KC Communications has appointed two further employees as the business continues on its expansion path with turnover on track to increase by 70% by the end of 2016.

KC Communications, founded in August 2014, has seen phenomenal growth over the past six months, leading to the appointment of an Account Manager and a Marketing Assistant.

The appointments come after a series of account wins and their expanding remit for digital infrastructure provider, CityFibre.

Sarah Benson, who joins as Marketing Account Manager from a Leeds based PR agency will be responsible for the management of both existing and new accounts whilst playing in key role in driving the business forward. Olivia Bates has also joined as Marketing Assistant from local charity, Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice to support the growing team.

The company, which is approaching the end of its second year in business has recently moved to larger premises to cater for a growing team, whilst growth has been continual both in turnover and sales enquiries.

Katrina Cliffe, Managing Director at KC Communications commented:

“The past two years have been phenomenal for KC Communications and the future looks promising. Even with the recent Brexit vote, our sales pipeline has increased by 52% this month which shows British businesses are keen to keep the momentum going. I am excited to watch how our third year in business develops and expect another recruit in the pipeline very soon. I am delighted to welcome Sarah and Olivia on board and look forward to contributing to their future career development”.

Fleet firm goes electric

York based Fleet Management Company Autohorn has been awarded ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status and have taken delivery of a BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid super car, to broaden the choice of electric and hybrid cars they have on offer.

The ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status is part of a new government and automotive initiative which recognises UK businesses that are embracing electric vehicles and the arrival of the BMW i8 means Autohorn customers are now able to choose from seven different types of electric or hybrid vehicles.

Go Ultra Low exists to help UK organisations and motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of the raft of electric vehicles on the market. The award is in recognition of Autohorn having already opened its vehicle fleets to plug-in cars and vans and making a commitment to boosting their intake over the next five years. Autohorn aim to have 100 electric vehicles in their fleet by 2020.

The arrival of the BMW i8 sports car means that Autohorn customers can now enjoy a car which offers a supercar performance whilst still remaining environmentally friendly. The i8 is the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car thanks to its powerful plug-in hybrid system. The electric drive is combined with a TwinPower Turbo 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol engine allowing the car to accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 4.4 seconds.

In November last year, Autohorn became the first car rental company in York to have pure electric vehicles for hire when they took delivery of ten Mercedes Benz vehicles having already introduced plug-in hybrid vehicles to the fleet in 2014. Autohorn also has seven of its own electric charging points in the city, contributing to the further expansion of the network of UK charging stations.

The ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status and i8 arrival has cemented Autohorn’s ongoing commitment to reducing emissions and the environmental footprint.  Scott Jenkins, Sales & Operations Director, Autohorn said: “Offering our customers ‘green vehicle hire solutions’ have been a large part of our business for a number of years now so it’s great to have been awarded the ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status. The arrival of the i8 has coincided nicely with receiving the award and together they have taken our ‘green’ commitment to the next level. We offer our customers a superior service and being able to offer them the i8, which uses world leading technology, aligns itself perfectly with that.”

Lee Underwood, Managing Director said: “These recent developments are part of our ongoing plan to help York become an ultra-low emission city. We are dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint surrounding the city and will continue to advocate and facilitate the use of low emission technology to help to create a healthier environment for the people of York.”

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, said: “We want to encourage every business in the UK to follow the example set by Autohorn in offering electric vehicles. Not only can they promote cleaner motoring, but there are multiple short- and long-term financial benefits for companies and their employees to enjoy. Thanks to the variety of models available and their cost-saving potential, this is a realistic and rewarding option for businesses large and small.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “It’s great to see a growing number of British fleets going green and I would encourage other businesses to learn from these Go Ultra Low companies and benefit from the huge fuel and tax savings offered by electric vehicles.

“The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.”

Autohorn specialises in fleet management for companies that run fleets of vehicles. Its services include vehicle hire, vehicle leasing, flexible leasing, fuel management, driver training and accident management which it offers throughout the UK.  It also provides personal vehicle leasing under its 1st Car Leasing brand and offers vehicle rental from its Europcar franchise which is based at York Railway Station.

Grant scheme to boost community activities

Charities and community groups across the city are set to benefit as The Leeds Fund opens its first grant giving programme- #GiveLoveLeeds Grants.

The Leeds Fund, backed by Leeds-born TV presenter Gabby Logan, got off to a great start at its recent launch with donations from Anchor Partner, John Lewis Leeds, and other local businesses. The Leeds Fund opens its first cash giveaway today (1st July 2016) with £50,000.

#GiveLoveLeeds Grants will provide financial grants between £500- £2,500 that will support locally-based community activity across the city. The scheme will focus on providing support to smaller community organisations with an annual turnover below £150,000. At least two grants rounds will be held per year, with the themes changing each round in response to emerging needs.

This grants round will prioritise practical projects with tangible outcomes working towards skills enhancement, social inclusion or being better neighbours in Leeds inner city wards.

James Prince, Head of Branch at John Lewis Leeds, who spoke at the launch event last month, said: “We are delighted to open the first round of #GiveLoveLeeds Grants to support community led activity across the city, and the neighbouring suburbs of our new flagship shop. The Leeds Fund is a fantastic initiative which we’re very proud to be a part of, and we look forward to seeing the impact the grants will have on the lives of local people.”

The Leeds Fund launched on Friday 10th June, with overwhelming support from the local business community and third sector. Over two hundred people turned out to hear about this fantastic new initiative and support this long term community investment in the city’s future.

Managed by local charity Leeds Community Foundation (LCF), The Leeds Fund aims to raise and distribute a minimum of £500,000 each year from 2020.

LCF Chief Executive, Sally-Anne Greenfield, said: “Smaller community organisations often struggle to secure funding and, with continued government cuts, are at risk of closure. Thanks to the support of organisations such as John Lewis Leeds, the #GiveLoveLeeds Grants will be able to help these smaller projects continue to reach parts of the community that other organisations just can’t, tackling really difficult issues and having incredibly positive impacts. We hope the announcement of this scheme will encourage other companies to get involved with The Leeds Fund and help us gain investment into the Fund to ensure we can continue to distribute these grants year on year.”

#GiveLoveLeeds Grants are open for applications until Friday 12th August. For more details on how to apply and how to support The Leeds Fund, visit: www.theleedsfund.org.uk

Exporter goes down under

The Yorkshire-based world leader in polymer safety barriers has opened its tenth overseas subsidiary. A-SAFE, which was recently placed in The Sunday Times Top 100 list of the fastest-growing UK SME exporters for the second successive year, has opened new offices in Sydney, Australia.

Mark Collins, who previously worked as an A-SAFE reseller in Australia, will become the new Australian director. He has already worked on large-scale installations for A-SAFE in Australia with Mars Petcare, Dulux and Kimberly-Clark, among other companies, and he was the first person worldwide to work with and introduce A-SAFE to global companies Caterpillar and Chep Pallets.

Mark said: “A-SAFE was looking to set-up a new subsidiary in Australia, so the hands-on experience I’d already had working with A-SAFE products for other blue chip companies put me in a strong position. I love working with A-SAFE products – they provide genuine, long-lasting safety solutions for health and safety-focused companies, and I’ve already had great success with the products as a reseller.”

Mark believes there is huge scope for A-SAFE success in Australia – despite the obvious challenges with distance and timings.

“Food, pharmaceutical and the warehousing/logistics markets are probably the big three safety-focused industries in Australia. Certainly, there is already large demand for world-class safety products – and the hygiene angle of A-SAFE products is a huge thing. Of course, there will be timing issues because my working day will start when it’s evening in the UK – but that’s nothing we can’t overcome as a global company.”

The vastness of Australia also creates its own logistical issues, with a 5hr flight separating the company’s base in Sydney from another key area, Perth.

“We’re based in Sydney because it’s midway between Brisbane and Melbourne. The growth markets will be in Sydney and Melbourne. But Perth is also important as they have a lot of warehousing opportunities – but it’s over five-hour’s flight time away. So there are logistical issues even within Australia.”

With containers of A-SAFE stock already arriving in Australia, Mark knows that there is a lot of hard work and organisation to come over the next coming months.

“Firstly, we need to get everything in place and up and running. We’ve already started employing people and the containers with vast amounts of stock product are coming in. So I’ve got to deal with all that – and then there are even more containers coming! Stock is so important to me because, obviously, I’m on the other side of the world. Shipping times are long, so I need to keep up to date with stock so that lead times are kept as small as possible. There will be timing issues because my working day will start when it’s evening in the UK – but that’s nothing we can’t overcome as a global company.”

Mark, who is an avid supporter of table-topping Australian rugby league giants Cronulla Sharks, is relishing the challenge: “I’m looking forward to it – but I’m especially looking forward to when everything is in place and we’re ready to really start selling. At the moment it’s planning and logistics, putting things in place, but I’m eager to start meeting the demands of customers and helping them with safety solutions. That’s the real pay-off for me.”

A-SAFE barriers have revolutionised barrier protection and segregation in industrial environments. The polymer-based system flexes on impact, absorbs impact forces and then reforms, as well as being hygienic, low maintenance and modular.

The new Australian subsidiary joins other A-SAFE offices in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and USA.

Veg wholesaler invests in growth

Third generation family business Troy Foods has extended its West Yorkshire-based operations with a £2m investment in a new distribution hub at Stourton Link in Leeds, complementing its existing two processing plants in South Leeds and creating 20 new jobs.

Dating back to the 1920s, the business began as a vegetable wholesaler and now employs 350 staff as well as up to 400 agency workers in peak seasons.  In the 1980s, it moved into supplying prepared vegetables and now processes around 800 tonnes a week at its Royds Farm Road facility, supplying a selection of prepared vegetables for ready meals and retail packs in the supermarkets.  In recent years, Troy Foods has diversified into processing value added lines such as dressed salads including coleslaw, potato salads and pasta salads as well as mayonnaise and dressings.  This operation, based at the company’s Hunslet facility, currently supplies around 1,000 tonnes a week direct to the leading retailers and food service groups.

Located close to Troy Foods’ two processing sites, the new 38,000sq ft distribution centre will provide ambient and chilled storage of raw materials, increasing capacity at the processing facilities and enabling production to be expanded.  The company secured a five year lease on the new premises with the help of Clarion’s property team.

“Over the last four years, we have seen really strong growth, particularly in the wet salads and dressings part of the business which now accounts for the larger part of our turnover,” explains James Kempley, commercial manager at Troy Foods.  “Last year, revenue in this division rose by 17% and we expect our total turnover to be close to £40m this year.

“As we continue to take advantage of new opportunities within the food sector, such as the growth of discount retailers, we expect our business to continue to grow and the expansion into our third premises will enable us to increase production in line with customer demand.  Going forward, our longer term vision is to move both of our processing operations onto a single site while remaining in West Yorkshire.”

Mr Kempley continues: “Having used Clarion for all of our legal work over the last five years, they have proved able to support us as the business has expanded and taken on the role of trusted adviser.  From advising on property, employment and intellectual property matters to litigation and corporate, there’s no doubt in my mind that they have played an important part in our success.  They are an excellent firm with people who are personable and straightforward in their approach and who understand our business.”

Simon Young, partner at Clarion, says: “Troy Foods has established a niche business, proving able to adapt to changes in what is a notoriously competitive and fast moving sector.   With a heritage of almost 100 years, it has diversified to meet new eating and shopping trends while retaining a focus on customer service whether working with traditional supermarkets or newer discount retailers.  In what is a very seasonal and time critical business, they have demonstrated an ability to provide high quality product and at the same time cope with the peaks and troughs in customer demand.”

Construction industry levy to be reformed

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is to consult the industry on how the CITB levy should be redesigned to work alongside the apprenticeship levy.

This will happen in 2017, followed by the apprenticeship levy’s introduction in April and a reformed CITB levy in 2018.

The CITB will seek views from employers about how it can best meet their needs, for example by making grant schemes more relevant and accessible for small firms.

Read more about the CITB’s plans here.

Referendum Result: Chamber Reaction

Stephen Wright, Chairman of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The people have spoken and now the Government must navigate a path for Brexit to be realised.

In the wake of the electorate’s historic decision to leave the European Union, the immediate priorities for UK business are market stability and political clarity.

Some businesspeople will be pleased with the result, and others resigned to it. Yet all companies will expect swift, decisive, and coordinated action from the government and the Bank of England to stabilise markets if trading conditions or the availability of capital change dramatically. Firms across the UK want an immediate and unambiguous statement from the Prime Minister on next steps, along with a clear timeline for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Business will also want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period – as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty. If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it.

Our members will want to see action to maintain economic stability, a timeline for exit, and answers to their many practical, real-world questions about doing business during and after this historic transition.

Businesses want certainty, clarity and the confidence to invest and we will be reminding Government of the need to focus on those issues which have been sidelined during the referendum. We need to move quickly back to business as usual and ensure a smooth transition. The health of the economy must be the number one priority – not the Westminster political post-mortem.”

NOTE: All the information made available by the Chamber leading up to the Referendum is still on this website here.