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  • 60th Anniversary Celebrations At Nottingham Family Business

    One of the UK’s only family run packaging firms is set to celebrate its 60th anniversary this month – citing its staff and ability to adapt at the heart of its success. Nottingham based food packaging giant, The Wilkins Group, may have humble beginnings but the family run business has successfully built an empire that is continuing to innovate and grow. The award-winning local company has a client list that reads like a who’s who of retailers and manufacturers. It has divisions across the globe - in fact, it is one of the names behind the innovative M&S gin snow globe bottle - and is assisting the nation's supermarkets with their eco packaging initiatives. The firm even received the seal of approval from world champion boxer Carl Froch who officially opened its multi-million-pound Colwick factory. The firm, which is heading towards a UK turnover of £50M this year, isn’t stopping there. The Wilkins Group director, Justin Wilkins said: "We've still got some targets that we want to achieve. We're the largest independent carton company in the UK, so we're wanting to keep our foot down on the accelerator pedal.” However, life for the award-winning Nottingham firm started small, as the firm's directors explain. Back in 1963, graphic designer Ken Wilkins formed Ken Wilkins Design Associates – this would eventually be changed to Ken Wilkins Print Ltd. before coming under The Wilkins Group umbrella. He based himself on Talbot Street in the city with just a drawing board and an artistic passion to set him on the road to success. Justin Wilkins, Ken’s grandson and one of the firm’s directors, said: “My grandfather was into anything creative, he enjoyed painting portraits and he started the business owning just one drawing board and sharing a room to split the rent with another designer friend." “My father, André Wilkins joined the business at the age of 18 whilst holding down other part-time jobs. It was his role to promote all of the design and creative services that the business had to offer. With a keen interest in production and manufacturing he set about starting a printing operation to produce the designs his father Ken created. They both worked hard together for over 30 years until Ken’s death in 1993. André is now group chairman.” In those early days they eventually moved to a large, converted house in Nottingham, their aim was to develop the business and focus on customer service and innovative creative design. Justin continued: “It was a typical British start-up with an’ in house’ manual screen-printing operation and Litho printing press all from a converted house. They spent 25 years serving predominantly the textile market with printed packaging products.” On a course for expansion, they would soon move to Private Road No 8 in Colwick, purchasing a 5000 sq. ft building. Honing their efforts around Nottingham’s rich textile history, they concentrated on designing textile packaging. The move and direction for the company proved successful enabling further expansion and investment in the latest high speed automated printing and finishing equipment. The site would eventually span some 170,000 sq. ft and include an impressive head office as well as a 68,000 sq. ft, fully integrated multi-million-pound warehouse and logistics facility. The latest expansion opened by world champion boxer Carl Froch in November 2022. At the time that the phase three factory extension was unveiled, Justin Wilkins said that Froch was the obvious choice to open the latest phase, revealing that Carl's Uncle Mick had worked at the firm for 46 years and that Carl grew up on a cul-de-sac next to the factory. Froch was reported as saying: "As far back as I can remember, around two or three years old, my uncle Mick has worked for Ken Wilkins... Me and my brothers, we used to jump in the paper skip and mess around and try to bury ourselves in the paper and get paper cuts all over our hands - my mum used to go mad at it. I've gone from being chased off the site to being invited back on. It's a bit of a turnaround." Another area of expansion came as a result of changes to UK manufacturing. Justin said: “The 80s saw major moves to source garments from ‘offshore’ areas and it became clear the business needed to evolve to support the many apparel and retail customers who were moving their production away from the UK. We also needed to change the business model to keep the UK business growing.” Group chairman, Andre Wilkins, said: “The Wilkins Group was the largest player in the industry at that time and was growing fast. So, in 1999 we set up our first ‘offshore’ business facility in Sri Lanka.” It was the first of several overseas bases. He said: “A lot of textile firms relocated to Sri Lanka in the 90’s, as did some of our textile-packaging competitors, which resulted in many UK workers losing their jobs." “We didn’t make any job cuts, and instead made sure that we diversified into the food packaging industry as an alternative. Our workers in the UK kept their jobs and the facility in Sri Lanka created new ones. If anything, we needed to employ even more staff to cope with the increased workload.” Despite the Wilkins Group now operating on different continents, it still remains a family-owned business with its UK headquarters in Nottingham. The directors say they retain the same values and employee care of its founding principal. Today, The Wilkins Group employs 340 people at its headquarters in Colwick. It is these hard-working team members that continue to help make the business a success. Justin said: “Family is crucial. Our family still runs the business, and we see our teams as extended family.” André and wife Ann, and sons Justin and Aron, along with their wives also work within the firm. He added: “We have established a reputation as a ‘go to’ company for innovation, design and competitive production. We make food packaging for most of the UK’s leading supermarkets, are developing carton board packaging to assist with Eco initiatives, made PPE during the pandemic and made headlines back in 2020 when joined forces with M&S to help create their sell-out illuminating snow globe liqueurs – a partnership that continues.” Justin concluded: "We've still got some targets for ourselves. We want to take the business to the next stage by improving efficiencies. It has been an ongoing project for us, and we have managed to already open up some capacity in our print and die-cutting departments thanks to our phase three factory extension. We are also aiming to reach £50M turnover later on this year in the UK. "We are proud to be the largest family run business in our sector and see it as certainly one of our strengths."

  • Generational Insights From Robinsons On National Family Business Day

    Robinsons Brewery is a multi-generational family business based in Stockport. They are great family business ambassadors and have produced a perfect video for National Family Business Day 2023 that encapsulates everything that makes a family business special. As Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO of Family Business United explains, "This short film, featuring different generations of the family encompasses the essence of family business." "It reflects the shared purpose, vision and values that underpin the business and clearly demonstrates what it means to family members both personally and collectively. It is a great way to celebrate their business and help amplify the important voice of the sector across the UK and beyond."

  • Grant Thornton Release 2023 Australian Family Business Survey

    Grant Thornton launched its 2023 Family Business Survey to coincide with Australia’s National Family Business Day revealing the key challenges and focal areas for Australian Family Businesses. With family businesses accounting for around 70 per cent of all Australian businesses and employing approximately half of the country’s workforce, this research aims to help future-proof family businesses by highlighting the challenges and opportunities for the sector. Increasing costs, high inflation, rising interest rates and an uncertain future are all factors derived from the current state of the economy, with predictions Australia could be heading into a recession. However, the research showed 67 per cent of family businesses are very optimistic about the current economic outlook, particularly in relation to the development of new products and expansion into different markets showing their resilience and adaptability. The 2023 Family Business Survey revealed the top five challenges for Australian family businesses: 1. Improving cash flow (91%) 2. Recruiting, retaining and upskilling family members and employees (86%) 3. Succession planning (72%) 4. Developing/launching new products (70%) 5. Expanding into new markets (69%) Australian family businesses have a clear focus on growth, looking to improve cash flow, develop new products, and expand into new markets. But family businesses are underutilising research and development grants and other government assistance, with a majority family businesses surveyed (between 50% and 72%) noting that accessing government support was deemed generally not important. Succession continues to be a key priority for family businesses with 72%of family businesses rating this as important for their business in the next 24 months. Only 15% of family businesses have no plans in place for succession, with 43% currently formulating a succession plan, and 38% already implementing a plan. Kirsten Taylor-Martin, Partner & National Head of Family Business Consulting said, “The top two challenges are interesting as they can be linked to the current economic climate where the majority of Australian family businesses are looking to improve cash flow, while also attracting and retaining the best staff." "Succession planning comes in at number three and is still such an important issue for family businesses as it can be extremely challenging to balance maintaining family relationships and fairness while encouraging business growth." “Government Grants appear to be an untapped resource for family businesses indicating there is a need for education, simplification and support for understanding available benefits, particularly for innovative family businesses, like the R&D Tax Incentive and Government Grant programs.” Upon analysing the 2023 Family Business Survey results, Grant Thornton found the statistics illustrated four key themes for family businesses: 1. Leaving Your Legacy – there is a mindset change between generations and whether they see themselves as owners or stewards of the family business. From the 2nd to 3rd generation, there is an opportunity for the family to discuss their involvement in the community and the impact they wish to make. As the family moves from 3rd to 4th generation, the focus shifts to the family legacy. 2. Succession Planning – this continues to be one of the major concerns for family businesses in 2023. The challenges include maintaining family harmony, fairness and ensuring the business prospers. 3. Future Growth – sustainability and ESG might not yet be fully resonating with family businesses. It is clear family businesses are guided by their family values not terminology and mandatory standards. 4. Embracing Diversity – the potential for growth when it comes to diversity in family business is currently untapped. Similar to sustainability and ESG, there is a disconnect with many family businesses not fully realising power of diversity and how it can contribute to expansion and longevity of the family business. The complete 2023 Family Business Survey report showcases what makes family businesses distinctive and unique, and the integral role they play in Australia’s wider economy. Download and read the full survey here:

  • Skills Shortages Slowing UK Business growth

    Research conducted by Reed Talent Solutions has found the ongoing skills crisis is putting UK businesses at risk. More than three quarters (77%) of senior managers state there’s a significant gap between the skills held by their workforce and those needed to meet business goals. To tackle this pressing issue, Reed Talent Solutions has launched its recruit, train, deploy programme. Majority of UK businesses are struggling to meet objectives due to skills shortage. Skill shortages are slowing UK business growth, with 77% of businesses stating a lack of access to necessary skills will restrict growth over the next three years. The same number (77%) are also already seeing a significant gap between the skills the current workforce has and what’s needed. Majority of senior hiring managers (73%) say their business is finding it harder to recruit now compared to previous years. Difficulty on both ends, with 91% of unemployed people, or those out of work, who are actively looking for work saying they struggling to find a job. Reed Talent Solutions recruit, train, deploy solution aims to combat the shortage. Adding to the struggle for UK organisations is the fact recruiting talent has become significantly more challenging, with seven-in-10 businesses claiming they are finding it harder to recruit now compared to previous years. The top reason behind the struggle is a lack of candidates with the right skills and knowledge for the role (60%). Louise Reed, Solutions Director at Reed Talent Solutions, said: “It’s no secret the UK employment market is suffering from an ongoing skills shortage, but this research really highlights the depth of the problem. The UK employment market is trying its best to recover from labour shortages caused by Brexit, the pandemic, and the Great Resignation." “To exacerbate the struggle, the incessant inflation, political uncertainty and global macroeconomic challenges have further heightened the skills gaps crisis, adding even further strain on UK businesses.” There is also a concerning digital skills gap, with nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses currently lacking in computer and digital literacy. “The technological boom has brought forward the importance of digital skills. Businesses need to look at ways they can reskill their existing workforce and new talent to meet the demands we are currently witnessing in the employment market,” added Louise. Masses of unemployed people struggling to find work Reed Talent Solutions’ research also questioned 1,000 adults not in work, revealing there’s a largely untapped workforce available and looking to return to work. Half of those surveyed would consider going back into employment if they could find a job with the flexibility to fit around their current situations. However, a quarter of people (27%) didn’t feel they have the right skills to be able to enter the workplace. Out of those people, 39% felt they needed greater digital/computer literacy skills, while 22% said they needed more customer service skills. What is more concerning is the majority looking for employment (91%) said they were struggling to find a job, with over two-thirds (69%) claiming they don’t have the right skills or qualifications. Louise adds: “While organisations are struggling to recruit and fill the widening skills gap, there’s still a large talent pool struggling to find work. By tapping into this market and offering skills programmes, businesses can start to solve their recruitment and retention problems." “Unfortunately, less than a third of employers offer incentives such as internal mobility schemes, older workers initiatives or returners programmes. And while the ‘Back to Work Budget’ implemented by the government has good intentions, businesses need to delve deeper to offer what people want and support their return to work if we’re going to make a difference." “For instance, we found nearly two-fifths (38%) of candidates are struggling to find a role as the hours don't match what they need. Businesses may need to break away from what they know, such as the typical 9-5 model, in order to unlock a new pool of workers.” As expected, aside from salary, the majority (87%) selected flexible working as one of their top three priorities when it came to choosing a new role. Remote and/or home working came in second (44%), with pension options coming in third at 19%. Training and upskilling opportunities was the fourth most chosen priority at 16%. To tackle the ongoing skills shortages, Reed Talent Solutions has launched its recruit, train, deploy solution, providing individuals with futureproofed careers through ongoing skills development programmes and organisations with the skilled workforce they need for successful business growth. “As it stands, less than half (49%) of businesses say they are upskilling to tackle the current skills shortage; this simply isn’t enough. We designed recruit, train, deploy to tackle this by helping business leaders to adapt and develop new strategies to attract, prepare, train and retain new talent." “We need to make sure we are sustainably working towards a workforce that is ready for the jobs of the future. Upskilling has never been so important,” concluded Louise.

  • Frozen Food Distributor Central Foods Switches To 100% Green Energy

    Frozen food distributor Central Foods has switched to using renewable energy as part of its commitment to sustainability. The company, which is based at Collingtree near Northampton and operates nationally, has made the move to use 100% green energy from Scottish Power. The energy used by Central Foods will be from renewable sources in the UK that do not harm the environment and is backed by green energy certificates known as Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGOs). As well as powering the office and the company’s development kitchen, the green energy will also power two onsite cold stores. MD of Central Foods Gordon Lauder said: “Sustainable choices are at the heart of our business, and this move to choosing renewable energy will help us towards becoming a net zero company. " “The renewable electricity is verified by independent auditors and sustainability experts. It is fully compliant with the World Resources Institute (WRI) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Scope 2 Guidance, which is the global standard framework for measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions." “We will be able to claim zero emissions under the GHG Protocol, using the market-based method for our Scope 2 purchased electricity. We are also future-proofing the business as renewable energy becomes more widespread and as the country moves towards net zero.” Renewable energy occurs naturally and repeatedly in the environment, such as from waves, wind, sun and geothermal heat from the ground. It will not run out and helps to reduce a company’s, and the nation’s, carbon footprint." Central Foods is one of the UK’s leading frozen food distributors. The company was founded more than 25 years ago and is a catering partner across the whole food service sector, supplying to hotels, restaurants, bars, universities, schools, pubs, care homes, garden centres, leisure outlets and more. It currently sells to over 180 independent wholesalers, as well as larger national and regional wholesalers.

  • Doncaster-Based Lawn Care Couple Receive National Award

    Doncaster-based lawn care owners, Lesley and Jamie Clark, were recently named a winner of the Great British Franchisee Awards (GBFA) in recognition of their ongoing success and exemplary customer service at their business, Greensleeves Doncaster. The accolade considers areas such as business growth, staff retainment, business experience, customer satisfaction, community involvement, and inspired leadership to determine worthy franchisees across the UK. Due to their excellence in each of these categories, the Clarks are now celebrating their prestigious business award win. The husband-and-wife team have been operating Greensleeves for 12 years and are great advocates for their business and the brand. With their combined skillset and experience, they have exceeded their targets year on year and increased the turnover by over 800% since they took over the business in 2011. Through hard work, passion and determination, the business has also significantly expanded its client base to deliver lawn care services to over 2,700 customers across Doncaster. The couple are equally active in their community and support three local sports teams (junior football, cricket and golf) and voluntarily look after the green spaces in their village, as well as donate free lawn treatment vouchers for charity raffles. “Over the years we have grown in scale and reputation to be the leading lawn care provider across Doncaster, so we are delighted to be recognised with this great honour,” said Lesley. “We have an amazing team of five lawn care operatives with five branded vans, and together they have enabled us to extend the business and deliver the service that all of our customers expect of us. Our 15-year-old son also works with us, helping with the admin in the office a couple of nights a week - it’s a true family affair where we are building a business with a lasting legacy." “Our driving force is the exceptional customer service we provide to our customers, and in return we have a high retention of customers who are loyal to us - some have been with us since day one! With Jamie and I both being from service backgrounds, we understand the importance of providing consistently high-quality customer service, so we are extremely hot on providing the best service possible to our customers every time.” The judges of the Great British Franchisee Awards explained that Lesley and Jamie were really impressive business owners and highlighted what they had achieved in terms of their excellent customer growth and future planned development of the business. They stated that they were very supportive of their staff and had a very good level of community involvement. They also praised their support of the franchisor and concluded that finding people like Lesley and Jamie, who are constantly exceeding targets and demonstrating excellent leadership qualities, is exactly what they were looking for when granting the award. “Working with family can be challenging at times, but we have learnt to balance our work/home life and separate the two,” added Jamie. “Our values are simple - we strive to be the best in everything we do, from the mechanics of the job to the customer service we offer. Lesley and I might be the face of Greensleeves Doncaster, but it is our fantastic team who do the hard work. Together, we want to make a difference, so this award is for everyone. It means the world to us.” One local customer, Ken Sykes, who has been with Greensleeves Doncaster since 2011, feels he has been really lucky to have had his lawn cared for over the years by the business. “From ease of communication to onsite work, we have always been impressed by the knowledge , expertise and professionalism of all the staff we have encountered. They are always friendly, arrive on the stated day and clear up after scarification treatments, as well as giving sound clear advice. Our lawns, front and back have always looked impressive under their care, despite the sandy dry nature of the soil on which they are based. This summer, many a friend and passer-by have commented how wonderful our grass is looking following the work of Greensleeves – brilliant! We’re looking forward to their continuing help and expertise in the years to come.”

  • John Carey Appointed As CEO & President Of EG America

    EG Group is pleased to announce the appointment of John Carey as CEO and President of EG America, effective from 1 October 2023, to drive forward its successful growth strategy in the US. John brings significant experience of operating global businesses and a track record of delivering high-quality returns. He has previously held senior executive positions including at BP plc and ADNOC Distribution, where as deputy CEO, he led its IPO on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange in 2018. During his 10-year career at BP John’s senior roles included CEO of Castrol's global B2B business encompassing the aviation, industrial, marine and energy businesses, and the same position leading its Liquefied Petroleum Gas business, including operations in the US for both companies. In addition, John already has detailed knowledge of EG Group’s operations having been a non-executive member of the Board since November 2020. As a result of this appointment, John will become an executive director on the Board, and EG Group will commence a process to identify and appoint a new non-executive director to join the Board in due course. For EG Group, the US is a core strategic market with multiple opportunities to grow organically through the continued delivery of its proven convenience retail, foodservice and fuel offering. John will succeed George Fournier, who stepped back as EG America President in the fourth quarter of last year for personal reasons, before returning in the spring to support the business. The interim EG America President, Nick Unkovic, will revert to his role as Chief Legal and Administrative Officer of EG America. Zuber Issa, CBE co-founder and co-CEO of EG Group, commented: “John is the ideal leader to drive forward EG America’s proven strategy. He has an excellent track record and knowledge of the sector, as well as a detailed understanding of the Group’s ambitious plans for EG America. We look forward to working closely with John in his new role as we continue to execute our growth strategy with the support of US colleagues. I would like to sincerely thank Nick and George for their continued contribution and support.” John Carey, CEO of EG America, commented: “EG Group is a great business, which I have learned first-hand. EG America has a strong platform and a clear strategy to drive growth at its market-leading sites through enhancing its convenience retail and foodservice offering across its much-loved banners. It will be a privilege for me to lead EG America and I very much look forward to meeting colleagues and key stakeholders. I can’t wait to get started.” EG America is the Group’s largest market, both by revenue and sites, reflecting how it owns and operates 1,645 convenience store and fuel retail sites across 10 banners in 30 states: Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf N’ Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Sprint, Tom Thumb, and Turkey Hill. In 2022, EG America delivered total revenue of $10.2bn. EG Group launched in the US in 2018, when it acquired Kroger’s 762-site convenience store business, giving it the platform to grow strongly both organically and through acquisitions.

  • Bridge Of Weir Leather Accelerates Sustainability Leadership

    Bridge of Weir Leather, supplier of Fine Automotive Leather to the world’s most respected luxury car brands, has today further cemented its position as a global sustainability leader in its field with the opening of a hyper-efficient new Super Tannery. Setting new standards for the production of leather, the new facility is the result of the latest round of multi-million-pound investments in its world-class facilities from Scottish Leather Group (SLG). Over the last seven years, £14 million has been invested in a wide range of strategic innovations and improvements, culminating in the Super Tannery, with a central focus on hide processing technology. Tanning, one of the first steps of the leather production process, involves hides undergoing treatment in drums filled with water and tanning agents to provide them with distinctive strong, flexible and durable quality characteristics necessary for the highest quality leather. Compared to previous equipment, the Super Tannery reduces the total number of hide drums from 30 to 14, while at the same time enabling Bridge of Weir to process greater batches. The state-of-the-art technology brings about a further step change in energy and water use with a reduction versus previous equipment of 82% (energy) and 42% (water). In addition, and as part of its commitment to complete circularity, the outgoing wooden drums from the tannery have also been stripped down and repurposed. While the environmental performance has been dramatically increased, the recruitment and retention of skilled workers is critical to its successful operation and ensuring the company’s sector-leading quality standards. Improvements in efficiency and sustainability from the new Super Tannery, which is now fully operational feed into Bridge of Weir’s Life Cycle Analysis, currently a sector-leading 8kg CO2e/m2 on average, which provides car makers with an independently verified and quantifiable contribution to their Scope 3 reduction targets. Nicholas Muirhead, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Leather Group, said: "Since 2003, we have continuously invested in strategic initiatives designed to optimise and improve productivity, quality and sustainability. The new Super Tannery is the latest significant milestone on that journey." "It’s a state-of-the-art facility that builds on the considerable savings we have already made in reduced energy and water use, improving our efficiency, and futureproofing our production. This will provide our customers with further evidence of Bridge of Weir’s position as the leader in the supply of sustainable Fine Automotive Leather for the world’s luxury car brands.” Dr Warren Bowden, Head of Innovation & Sustainability, Scottish Leather Group said: “Over the last twenty years, we have pioneered and patented circular manufacturing processes that minimise waste to landfill and radically reduce our carbon footprint, with initiatives such as our Thermal Energy Plant [TEP} and Ultrafiltration plant." "The Super Tannery builds on these sector-leading actions, providing a step change in productivity and environmental savings. Our sustainability journey is continuous, and this new facility will play a vital role in enabling us to achieve zero impact leather manufacturing. We are committed to net-zero for our own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025 – ahead of Scotland’s net-zero ambitions – and delivering zero waste to landfill by the same year, further fortifying our sustainability pledges.” The Group’s recent 2023 ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) report details its progress towards its ambition of achieving net zero leather production by 2025 and how the business can directly support its customers’ sustainability targets. Among the key achievements it highlights are a 90% reduction in the carbon intensity of its leather over the last 20 years, 100% traceability of raw materials and 77% of waste recycled in 2022. It also provides details of the group’s latest industry accolades including a sought-after ‘Gold’ award from global standards organisation, the Leather Working Group, in recognition of its accomplishments in operations of key areas including staff performance, business structure, business resilience, and health and safety. Further notable accreditations include endorsement of the group’s working practices by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX), which assures ethical trading and compliance with international labour standards, while the group’s track record in health & safety was recognised for the 12th consecutive year by Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold awards. Dr Warren Bowden, adds: ‘The continuing expansion of our product offering through innovation and improvement of operational performance across the ESG agenda, in line with all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), reflects the passion we have for our products and the responsibility we hold as sustainable manufacturers.’ As part of its leading sustainable leather production process, Bridge of Weir sources natural, clean, local water from its own loch – its Water Treatment & Recycling Plant (WTRP) plant enables the recycling of up to 40% of treated water back into use within production – while its world-class tannery uses 50% less water per hide than the industry standard. The raw hides used to make Bridge of Weir leather are always sourced from responsible suppliers with 100% traceability and without risk of deforestation. It is the only automotive leather manufacturer to publish an independent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of the product and makes the lowest carbon leather for the sector, helping its customers reduce their carbon impact without offsetting. The LCA will be revised as further improvements or reductions to direct product impact are made. Bridge of Weir Leather is the ultimate upcycled material made via a ‘circular’ low impact manufacturing process. All the raw hides used by Bridge of Weir in leather-making are a by-product of the local beef and dairy industries, of which over 98% are sourced within the UK and Ireland. Upcycling raw hides prevents them from going to landfill where they would emit hundreds of tonnes of methane each year. Bridge of Weir leather is the material of choice for the world’s leading automotive luxury brands, including Aston Martin, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover and Polestar, thanks to its quality, durability, versatility, and sustainability.

  • The LEGO Group Plants 50,000 Trees In Vietnam

    The LEGO Group celebrated the completion of 50,000 trees being planted at its new LEGO® factory in Binh Duong province in southern Vietnam. The event was attended by His Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Le Minh Khai, national and provincial officials, as well as business and community partners. The tree planting comes as the next round of LEGO Manufacturing Vietnam’s community engagements begin, which are expected to reach nearly 5,000 local children, and as the company accelerates recruitment towards a total of 100 employees by the end of 2023. Preben Elnef, General Manager of LEGO Manufacturing Vietnam and Vice President of the LEGO Group, said: “Today is about taking a moment to celebrate the positive environmental and community-focused momentum the LEGO Group has had in Vietnam, as well as recognizing the significant progress we’ve made in the construction on our state-of the-art factory – our most sustainable to date.” “As construction is underway, we are grateful for the continued support from the authorities and our many partners, whose collaboration has ensured that we are on-track to begin production in the second half of 2024, allowing us to reach even more children with learning through play and creating long-term growth in the Asia-Pacific region.” Tree planting marks environmental milestone for the LEGO Group in Vietnam The LEGO Group aims to ensure that the factory has a minimal impact on the environment. As part of this ambition, the company completed its planting of 50,000 trees at the site, which began in September 2022 and amounts for twice as many as were removed for construction of the new factory, and includes seven different species native to Vietnam, fostering greater biodiversity in the long term. The planting was supported by Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park Joint Venture Company Limited (VSIP). The factory is designed to be the LEGO Group’s most sustainable to date, supporting the company’s sustainability ambitions to reduce absolute global carbon emissions by 37 percent by 2032*. It will feature rooftop solar panels, and a solar plant will be built on a neighbouring plot of land, which combined aims to match the total annual energy requirement of the site. The factory will use the latest energy-efficient production equipment while buildings and manufacturing processes are designed to minimise energy use. Next phase of local community partnerships to benefit nearly 5,000 children In August 2023, LEGO Manufacturing Vietnam began implementation of its Build the Change (BtC) programme together with the LIFE Centre in the Tan Uyen District of Binh Duong. The programme encourages children to use their creativity to solve real-world challenges with LEGO bricks and other creative materials. The company is piloting a new delivery format for the first time, equipping mobile vans and motorbikes with resources to conduct workshops in farther, more remote locations. A total of 60 workshops are expected to be completed through Q1 2024, benefitting over 2,000 local children. The LEGO Group is also helping to fund OneSky’s pilot project which seeks to develop and strengthen private independent childcare services in support of low-income families through a co-led Vietnam government and OneSky training model, benefitting over 2,600 children in Binh Duong in its first year. The company’s funds will primarily go towards supporting capacity-building efforts of government trainers and lead educators, as well as towards establishing a demonstration centre in Binh Duong. Preben Elnef said: “While it will be some months before LEGO® bricks are produced in Vietnam, our work with the local community began back when we broke ground here in November 2022 and continues today. We are thankful to local partners and organisations who have collaborated with us thus far and share our commitment to give children opportunities to realise their potential.” Recruitment to reach 100 employees by end of 2023, up to 500 by end of 2024 The LEGO Group is committed to building a local talent pool and contributing to the local community through the creation of highly skilled jobs. The company is on-track to hire 100 new employees by the end of 2023, with up to 500 to be hired by the end of 2024, to be responsible for operating state-of-the-art moulding, processing, and packing machinery when the factory is fully operational. On-site training will begin in Q1 2024, with the company’s overseas factories providing additional opportunities for further training and knowledge exchange. More than 2,000 contracted construction workers are working on-site – a number that will double by the end of 2023. With more than one-and-a-half million working hours recorded to date, there have been no lost-time injuries, ensuring that the LEGO Group and its facilities remain a safe workplace for all. Production on-track to begin in H2 2024 Significant progress has been made on the 44-hectare site since the company broke ground in November 2022, including the ongoing construction of an energy centre and 110kV power station, moulding and packing facilities, and an automated, high-bay warehouse. The LEGO Group announced its plans to build the new US $1 billion factory in December 2021. The investment is the largest by any Danish company in Vietnam and part of the company’s strategy to expand its supply chain network to support long-term growth and locate production facilities close to its major markets to respond to shifts in local demand, shorten the supply chain, and reduce its environmental impact. Facts LEGO Manufacturing Vietnam Investment: US $1 billion. Jobs: 4,000 positions over 15 years, recruitment ongoing for roles. For a full list of jobs, visit: Land: 44-hecares, size of 62 football pitches. Buildings: Five buildings that will span over approximately 150,000 m2 ranging from office spaces, energy centre, moulding, packing buildings, a high bay warehouse and other miscellaneous buildings. Blueprint: Same blueprint for all LEGO factories – high-tech production equipment that ensures each brick is made to the accuracy of 1/10th of a hair’s width. This precision means that LEGO bricks made today fit perfectly with bricks and products made over the past 60 years. Location: Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, approximately 50km from Ho Chi Minh City. Sustainability Solar power on-site: 12,500+ (7.4 MWp) rooftop solar panels to be installed; solar plant to be built on neighbouring plot of land. Production: The packaging line in this new factory will only package LEGO bricks in our new paper-based bags, replacing single-use plastic bags. Compliance: Delivered following our Responsible Business Principles (RBP) due-diligence plan and timeline. Zero waste to landfill: The new factory shares the same ambition as all LEGO operations of achieving zero waste from factories to landfill. Certification: The aim is to secure Gold LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for the building once it is completed including energy, water and waste. Planted trees: 50,000 new trees over 30 hectares, creating a self-sustaining Miyawaki forest of native trees along the factory perimeter.

  • Work Restarts On £8.7 Million Pattern Shop Redevelopment In Tyneside

    Recently appointed Robertson Construction has kick-started work on the iconic Pattern Shop redevelopment in the heart of Newcastle. Work on the £8.7m office scheme stalled earlier this year after the collapse of the previous contractors Tolent. However, work has now resumed on the Forth Street site with the scheme projected to complete early 2024. Joinery, mechanical and electrical works are now well underway and groundworks including drainage and building services installation will restart imminently, paving the way for surfacing works scheduled for later this year. The remaining external curtain walling sections will then be installed enabling the final finishes and commissioning before the Pattern Shop welcomes its first occupants in the new year. With spectacular southern views of the Tyne Bridge, the Pattern Shop is situated directly adjacent to Central Station and other major transport links. The scheme will combine industry-leading telecommunications connectivity alongside cutting-edge sustainable technology, as well as low carbon, low energy infrastructure throughout the three-storey building. Following the extensive remodelling and renovation of the circa 3,000 sq. m site, the hub will provide a large-scale exhibition and creative space for the city, as well as offering flexible SME workspace, or a single let, for up to 300 people. Situated in the heart of Stephenson Quarter, the scheme marks the start of the next phase of development on this historic city centre site by Stephenson Works LLP, a joint venture between PfP igloo (PfP Capital and igloo Regeneration) and Newcastle City Council. Newcastle City Council owns and will retain the building. Built circa 1880, the Pattern Shop was originally used by the world-famous locomotive designer Robert Stephenson, one of the greatest engineers of the Victorian era. Now reinvented for today’s innovators, this striking Grade II Listed building with its remarkable industrial legacy, will be the ideal base for businesses looking to make their mark on the city’s vibrant creative and digital sector. Pippa Heron, development manager at igloo, said: “We are delighted to see Robertson hit the ground running and continue the transformation of this forgotten site into a truly iconic building for the city. There are already clear signs that we are back on track, with the eye-catching mezzanine floor, for example, already visible. This will be a signature feature of the scheme and signals our intent to make the Pattern Shop a key anchor in the continued renaissance of this district.” As part of its impressive sustainability credentials, the Pattern Shop will be BREEAM “Very Good”, with an EPC “B” rating. Its close proximity to the train station as well as cycle storage and showering facilities are also designed to encourage sustainable commuting by its future occupants. Garry Hope, managing director, Robertson Construction North East, said: “The Pattern Shop will once again become a pivotal part of Newcastle’s history. Buildings like these have incredible stories to tell and we will be honouring the well-known history and legacy of the building as we continue the works to create a modern working environment. “Where possible we are working with the previous supply chain and works are progressing well with a targeted completion of 2024. Upon completion, The Pattern Shop will provide a space for new innovators in an environment which prioritises sustainability, comfort and wellbeing, with beautiful views of Tyne Bridge.” Patrick Matheson, Partner from Knight Frank, agents for the Pattern Shop, said: “The vast majority of occupiers are now focusing their property requirements on highly sustainable, inspiring office spaces. We are seeing occupiers using their offices as a strategic business tool to significantly enhance their staff’s experience, collaboration and wellbeing. “As we move towards 2024, we expect this trend to continue and the Pattern Shop, with its incredible history, character and very strong environmental credentials, will be well placed to deliver a superb workspace in the very heart of Newcastle city centre.” Office and workspace already thriving in the district includes Central Square, with its neighbouring hospitality businesses, including the Crowne Plaza hotel and Spa, Gin Bar, The Boiler Shop music and events venue, 5 Quarter Café & Bar and The Arches Beer Street MicroPub and Bottle Shop. Councillor Alex Hay, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for a Thriving City, said: “It’s brilliant to see works back in progress at the Pattern Shop and I’m excited for this key strategic development to get back on track." “This is a significant element of the transformation of the Stephenson Quarter, and will present a host of new opportunities for people at the same time as breathing new life into the rich history of an important part of the centre of Newcastle.”

  • Eco Joins Forces With Globally Renowned Business Gurus

    An Innovative solutions business developing a range of world-first green technology has been chosen as the UK’s first exclusive partner by globally-renowned business gurus. Eco has teamed up with Dr Ernesto and Martha Sirolli to join businesses in Italy, Switzerland and the USA in a network of companies working with the dynamic business leaders to bring innovations to market. Eco’s mission is to make a profound and positive difference in people's lives and have a significant and sustainable global impact. The link-up with the Sirollis was formalised after Eco’s founder and Managing Director Eddie Black and Eco’s Group Opportunity Strategist Gary Robertson met with the duo at an innovators conference they hosted in Italy this summer. Eddie said: “As soon as we met Ernesto and Martha and heard more about their approach to business and innovation we were blown away by their way of thinking, their knowledge, their ethos and their connections." “We knew immediately that we wanted to continue the association in some form and we are over the moon that they have chosen Eco as a business they want to collaborate with in the UK to help make innovations happen. It’s an exciting and potentially transformative partnership for our business." “We are committed to being at the forefront of the net zero revolution - and working in collaboration with businesses so they can do the same, creating a legacy which will make a difference now and for generations to come." “By harnessing our expertise, resources, and innovative spirit, we aim to spearhead transformative initiatives that address pressing environmental challenges, foster sustainability, and enhance the well-being of individuals and communities worldwide." “Through our collective efforts and partnerships, we aspire to leave a lasting legacy for future generations, inspiring others to join us on this journey towards a better, greener, and more equitable world.” Dr Sirolli, a highly-respected authority in the field of sustainable economic development, said: “We are delighted to be working with Eddie and the team at Eco. Innovation is now on the mind of every CEO of every company in the world. Technology is changing so fast that businesses must adapt or die.” The Sirollis’ work with Eco will initially focus on bringing innovations even further to the forefront of the business through their Boundary Rider programme. A Boundary Rider is an Australian term for a cattle station employee, like a cowboy, whose duty is to check the outer perimeter - ie the boundary of the property - and to report anything out of the ordinary back to management. They can work independently, are resilient and reliable. The Sirollis apply this methodology to an organisation where it is the job of a person, or a group of people, within an organisation, to be scanning the business and society horizon for innovations which have the potential to positively change the world, as well as transform their business. Dr Sirolli said: “We offer corporations a tool to search within teams, the people with emerging strong entrepreneurial spirit. We focus on ‘intrapreneurship’ making sure the smartest people on the team are listened to." “We then create a safe space, what we can call an ‘innovation oasis”, and build a clear path to bring innovative ideas and practices to the attention of the senior management for evaluation and decisions. It offers businesses a risk-free, cost-effective, well-managed tool to empower action inside any organisation wanting an edge in competitive markets.” The programme helps ensure winning ideas aren’t shut down as in many companies because of tiers of management who might have contradictory agendas. It means instead that innovations are owned by those who are passionate about them, have ‘skin in the game’ and then the innovations go through a fast-track and structured process to help deliver business success. Dr Sirolli, founder of the Sirolli Institute, an international non-profit organization, is also an author and among his titles is: How to Start A Business and Ignite Your Life - A Simple Guide Combining Business Wisdom With Passion. He gave a TEDx talk: "Shut up and Listen" which has been translated into 35 languages and downloaded more than three million times since he first delivered it in 2012. The Sirrollis will be visiting Eco at its 3,000-square-metre self-built HQ at Annan, Dumfries and Galloway later this month to start the Boundary Rider programme. Eco’s services include its EcoGoZero range of carbon mitigation strategies; dry ice cleaning; process solutions; design, build and fit out; IT and communications; and bespoke training systems.

  • Turcan Connell Partners with Family Business United On Flagship Awards

    Turcan Connell is once again delighted to support The National Family Business Of The Year Awards organised by Family Business United to celebrate the UK family business industry and recognise the achievements of small to larger family firms from all sectors of the economy. The prestigious and inclusive awards are presented with regional, sector and national titles and special recognition for family firms demonstrating sustainability, innovation, entrepreneurship and community involvement. Partner and Lead of our Family Business Team Mike Kane commented, "The Turcan Connell Family Business Team is delighted to lend their expertise to the process and engage with a fantastic range of quality candidates from all corners of the UK including young, long-standing and multi-generational family businesses." "Family Business United remains a significant facilitator of family institutions and this industry is one of key focus to our firm as we strive to support and secure the future of the UK’s family businesses with the very best legal and tax advisory services." Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO of Family Business United added that “These awards are always a significant celebration of the very best of British family businesses and we have had some amazing winners over the years - family firms of all sizes and sectors and from all four corner of the UK." "We are delighted to be working with Turcan Connell and to have their support for these awards, and for their sponsorship of the Scottish Family Business of the Year for 2024. The process culminates in an awards evening where the family business community comes together to celebrate the very best of British family firms." "Family firms are the engine room of the national economy and these awards celebrate all of their achievements. All of our winners are fantastic examples of great British family firms and it is a real honour to host these awards and celebrate with them and we look forward to the 2024 awards process and announcing the winners in due course.” The awards process for 2024 is now open for nominations. Enter using the link here by 30th November.

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