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    Fingers crossed for coastliner country! Britain’s most scenic bus route shortlisted in...

    Booming bus route serving Yorkshire’s glorious coast and countryside chosen to compete at industry-wide celebration of talent and innovation

    It’s now famous as Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route – and now the team behind Yorkshire’s booming Coastliner bus service is to compete in the UK bus industry’s biggest awards celebration of excellence and innovation.

    The UK Bus Awards recognise and reward the industry’s finest talents and are hotly contested by hundreds of bus operators across the country.

    Coastliner’s parent company Transdev is shortlisted in three of the most keenly fought categories in this year’s Awards, with the team at Coastliner lining up to compete in the Sustained Marketing Excellence category, recognising companies with a strong customer focus which have succeeded in getting more people to leave their cars at home and catch the bus.

    The high-profile promotion of the Coastliner bus network, linking Leeds and York with the Yorkshire Coast under the message “Welcome to Coastliner Country”, began at the end of 2015 with the launch of the first of a fleet of brand-new twin deck buses featuring bespoke interiors with skylight roofs, family zones, part-leather seats and USB and wireless power for mobile devices.

    The service surged further ahead in 2018 when Coastliner was voted Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route in the first-ever national poll of bus users, with positive media coverage fronted by Coastliner driver Adam Davies seen by millions on TV and in national newspapers. The promotion has helped to attract up to 15 per cent more customers travelling on Coastliner from Leeds and York to the coast.

    Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see our great Coastliner team being chosen to compete on the national stage for these prestigious awards, which recognise the great innovation, talent and pride driving our bus industry forward throughout the UK. We’re very proud of Coastliner’s success, and grateful to every single one of our amazing people for all they do to look after the growing number of customers choosing to travel with us.

    “I’m also delighted to see our talented people deservedly lined up with the nation’s finest as they continue to deliver amazing customer service here in ‘Coastliner Country’ and right across the North. We’re earning a reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative and successful transport operators, and as ever, our customers are at the heart of everything we do.”

    UK Bus Awards Chairman Mark Yexley said: “We’re delighted to see Transdev reach the finals in three categories. Buses play a vital role in helping to improve our environment, and it’s so good to see companies that are truly dedicated to improving air quality across our towns and cities.

    “It’s an honour to be able to recognise businesses who consistently show a commitment to encourage more and more people to catch the bus. We wish the team at Transdev the very best of luck in the finals.”

    Two more Transdev companies are also on the shortlist for the UK Bus Awards – its ground-breaking electric buses in Harrogate for the Environment Award, and its turnaround of the once-struggling North West bus firm Rosso into a fast-growing business in the Making Buses A Better Choice category.

    Transdev’s teams will now head to London for the UK Bus Awards finals, to be held on Tuesday 19 November 2019.

    14th November 2019

    Powering onto the national stage – Harrogate’s amazing all-electric buses shortlisted in...

    Spa town’s innovative zero emission electric buses chosen to compete at industry-wide celebration of talent and innovation

    They’ve spearheaded Harrogate’s successful bid to become Britain’s first ever Low Emission Bus Town – and now the team behind the spa town’s ground-breaking electric buses at The Harrogate Bus Company is shortlisted to compete in the UK bus industry’s biggest awards celebration of excellence and innovation.

    The UK Bus Awards recognise and reward the industry’s finest talents and are hotly contested by hundreds of bus operators across the country.

    The Harrogate Bus Company’s parent company Transdev is shortlisted in three of the most keenly fought categories in this year’s Awards, with the team in Harrogate lining up to compete in the Environment category, which not only recognises the green credentials of bus services, but also improvements made to the overall environment in the communities they serve.

    As part of its own plan to create Britain’s first Low Emission Bus Town in Harrogate, The Harrogate Bus Company launched eight all-electric buses onto three local routes in Harrogate in 2018, supported by a successful bid for £2.25m from the Government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme.

    The company has also invested significantly in new and revitalised buses powered by low-emission Euro 6 engines – and formed partnerships with Harrogate’s businesses to offer free journeys to everyone on Sundays on three town routes served by the electric buses.

    Promoted as ‘Sunday Freeway’, the move quickly proved a major success, generating a 70 per cent rise in customers travelling into Harrogate on Sundays within a single month.

    In another first, electric powered and Yorkshire-built buses have also been introduced to the company’s service along Nidderdale, between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge.

    Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see our great Harrogate team being chosen to compete on the national stage for these prestigious awards, which recognise the great innovation, talent and pride driving our bus industry forward throughout the UK. We’re very proud of our success in Harrogate, and grateful to every single one of our amazing people for all they do to look after the growing number of customers choosing to travel with us.

    “I’m also delighted to see our talented people deservedly lined up with the nation’s finest as they continue to deliver amazing customer service in Harrogate and right across the North. We’re earning a reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative and successful transport operators, and as ever, our customers are at the heart of everything we do.”

    UK Bus Awards Chairman Mark Yexley said: “We’re delighted to see Transdev reach the finals in three categories. Buses play a vital role in helping to improve our environment, and it’s so good to see companies that are truly dedicated to improving air quality across our towns and cities.

    “It’s an honour to be able to recognise businesses who consistently show a commitment to encourage more and more people to catch the bus. We wish the team at Transdev the very best of luck in the finals.”

    Two more Transdev companies are also on the shortlist for the UK Bus Awards – its ground-breaking electric buses in Harrogate for the Environment Award, and its turnaround of the once-struggling North West bus firm Rosso into a thriving business delivering double digit increases in customers choosing to travel on its new and revitalised buses, in the Making Buses A Better Choice category.

    Transdev’s teams will now head to London for the UK Bus Awards finals, to be held on Tuesday 19 November 2019.

    14th November 2019

    As Brexit deadline approaches 30,000 Yorkshire businesses now in financial distress, up...

    Business distress has risen by 33% in Yorkshire since the EU referendum in June 2016, according to the latest research from Begbies Traynor, the UK’s leading independent insolvency firm.

     

    Published today (17 October 2019,) the latest quarterly Red Flag Alert data, which monitors the health of UK companies, shows that a total of 29,410 firms in Yorkshire were in significant financial distress by the end of September, compared with 22,161 distressed businesses at the time of the EU referendum.

     

    Significant distress refers to companies with relatively minor financial problems such having CCJs of less than £5,000 filed against them, or showing a marked deterioration in key financial ratios and indicators. It is often viewed as a warning of more serious financial problems to follow.

     

    Across the UK as a whole financial distress has risen by 40% since the referendum three years ago, affecting 489,000 businesses.

     

    With the lowest September consumer spending figures on record and the housing market remaining subdued, customer-facing sectors have been particularly badly affected as confusion and uncertainty over Brexit continue.

    The real estate and property services sector, both in Yorkshire and across the UK as a whole, has been especially hard hit with a 13% rise in the number of Yorkshire property businesses suffering significant distress since Q3 2018. By September a total of 2,878 Yorkshire property firms were undergoing financial difficulties.

     

    Consumers’ reluctance to spend has also affected bars and restaurants across Yorkshire: a total of 1,331 businesses in the sector were in financial trouble in Q3 2019, a 10% rise on the same period in 2018 and 5% more than in Q2 2019.

    According to the Begbies Traynor research, construction remains the most severely distressed sector. By Q3 2019, 4,202 of Yorkshire’s construction firms were in financial distress, a 2% increase on the previous year.

     

    By contrast, travel and tourism was one of the few Yorkshire industries to see distress levels fall, with a 6% drop in distress year on year and quarter on quarter, and 174 companies in trouble.

     

    Julian Pitts, regional managing partner for Begbies Traynor in Yorkshire, said: “The uncertainty and weak consumer spending in the wake of the EU referendum that was held more than three years ago now is having a cumulatively devastating effect right across our economy.

     

    “While the low pound, and perhaps the success of large-scale events such as the UCI World Championships last month, has helped to generate some good news for tourism in the region, overall the picture is far bleaker.

     

    “Businesses are increasingly frustrated that they cannot plan for the future, and that is putting a brake on the whole economy. For some, especially small companies, these kinds of setbacks are too much to bear and can lead to very serious problems indeed. I’d advise any business owner whose firm is in trouble to seek advice as soon as possible in order to avert potential disaster.”

    14th November 2019

    Esh Build completes expansion work on pupil referral unit in Wakefield

    Esh Construction completes a pupil referral unit refurbishment in Wakefield for Metropolitan District Council Crofton which will provide more space and better facilities for 11-18-year-olds.

     

    The £1.2m project, which was secured by the YORbuild framework, will help Springfield School provide enhanced teaching space and workshop facilities for students that have challenging experiences in mainstream education.

     

    Wakefield Metropolitan District Council commissioned the scheme to aid the school in helping students gain qualifications and practical experience best preparing them for adulthood.

     

    Stuart Leslie, Divisional Director of Esh Build in Yorkshire, said: “Projects like this are crucial to providing the correct facilities for young people. Our client identified a need for a larger space and modernised facilities to provide a fit for purpose learning environment. Due to the efforts of our delivery team the scheme was delivered 3-weeks ahead of schedule.”

     

    Esh’s social value team worked with the adjoining school local residents during the scheme to deliver STEM sessions, organise work experience placements and site safety talks for students while the works were ongoing.

     

    This is the latest education schemes completed by Esh Construction in the region. Others include a £1.1m two-storey classroom extension and remodelling of a hard play area for Horbury St Peter’s School in Wakefield and a £1m classroom refurbishment for St Wilfrid’s School in Pontefract.

    14th November 2019

    Pretty in Pink – Caddick’s construction teams go all out for cancer...

    Caught on camera! – Caddick Construction teams across the region ditched their conventional hi-vis vests for a more vibrant version to take part in the “Wear it Pink” Day (today – October 18) to support breast cancer research.

     

    Employees across dozens of Caddick Construction sites in Yorkshire were encouraged to pink-it-up for the day and it is hoped thousands of pounds will be raised for the life-saving research. To date, £33m has been raised nationally by Pink Power.

     

    More details are available on: https://www.wearitpink.org/about

    14th November 2019

    Gravity springs into tenth site in Leeds

     Gravity Active Entertainment, the trampoline park operator, has signed its tenth site at Cardigan Fields out of town park in Leeds. Savills advised the firm on the letting.

     

    Gravity is set to open in Leeds during the October half term. Over the next six months the company will be investing of £500,000 into new equipment to provide a boost to the party packages and class schedule.

     

    Stephen Henderson, retail director at Savills, comments: “Gravity continues to expand across the UK and we are delighted to support them as they grow. The new site in Leeds will undergo a comprehensive refurbishment over the coming few months and will provide the area with an exciting new trampoline park.”

     

    Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive of Gravity added: “This is an ideal destination for our latest trampoline park. The thriving area welcomes an impressive amount of daily footfall and a whole range of entertainment, making it the ideal spot to launch a new site.”

    14th November 2019

    Rollits Continued Expansion

    Rollits has made two new solicitor appointments with the recruitment of Amy Buttrick and Harriet Wheeldon, who have successfully completed their two-year training contracts with the firm.

    Amy and Harriet joined Rollits as Trainee Solicitors in September 2017.
    Based in the Hull office, Amy will specialise in general corporate work dealing with a variety of corporate matters including company formations, mergers and acquisitions and banking matters, along with work on partnership matters, share buy-backs and re-organisations.

    Harriet will qualify into the Charities team, and will deal with all aspects of charity legislation, including creating and registering new charities, re-structuring and re-organising charities, charity incorporations and mergers.

    Ralph Gilbert, Managing Partner at Rollits, commented: “As we continue with our expansion strategy, we are pleased to have been able to offer jobs to Amy and Harriet upon qualification as solicitors. Over the last two years they have proved themselves to be valued members of the Rollits team and we look forward to helping them develop and learn as they move along their chosen career paths.”

    14th November 2019

    Sadeh Lok in top customer service recognition

    Sadeh Lok staff and customers are celebrating achieving a top customer service milestone.

     

    Each year the Huddersfield-based housing association is assessed for the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard, a national recognition scheme for public and private organisations.

     

    This year they have again achieved ‘full compliance’ in every area and an additional ‘compliance plus’ for their work supporting hard to reach disadvantaged customers.

     

    The assessment followed a visit by an assessor which included gathering feedback from customers, staff and board members covering different elements of its services.

     

    The assessment report highlighted many positives including:-

    –                   the enthusiasm, commitment  and ‘can do’ attitude of staff

    –                   an in-depth understanding of their customers needs

    –                   a focus on putting customers at the heart of their work

    –                   recognising and celebrating staff performance

    –                   excellent partnership working since the group’s merger with Incommunities four years ago.

     

    Their assessment report adds ‘Sadeh Lok is to be congratulated on providing an excellent service for 20 years (recognised by CSE accreditation) which reflects the dedication of staff….. residents continue to receive an excellent level of service.’

     

    The latest assessment also now gives the association seven ‘compliance plus’ ratings.

     

    Bushra Nazir, Interim Operations Manager at Sadeh Lok, said: “This is fabulous news which recognises the commitment of everyone to support our customers and deliver services that they really value.

     

    “Our merger with Incommunities has been a positive driver for change and the assessment recognises the opportunities this has brought in improving our service delivery. It is particularly welcome news as we mark 30 years as a successful housing provider.”

     

    Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group Chief Executive, said: “Two decades of achieving this national standard is a fantastic achievement and I would like to thank the whole team on their success.

     

    “This is a prestigious standard and achieving full compliance in all elements underlines the commitment of everyone to deliver excellent customer services. As the assessment shows, our partnership with Sadeh Lok has also brought significant benefits both for customers and operationally.”

     

    14th November 2019

    SAP Partner, LAKE, Sponsors Yorkshire Food and Drink Awards 2020

    LAKE is SME business of the year category sponsor for the Yorkshire Food and Drink Awards 2020. There are two categories for this award and LAKE is sponsor for companies with income over £500,000.

    Edward Bentley, General Manager for LAKE’s SAP Business One division, will be presenting our category award at a ceremony to be held in April of next year. In his “spare time” Edward is also Senior Vice Chairman of Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’

    “Working across food sector implementation projects, growing up in agriculture and working in a farm shop for 7 years, I understand how the sector can be at times, challenging, but also incredibly rewarding when a product comes to fruition. Outside of work, I would confess to being bit of a foodie!”

    “LAKE’s focus on the food and drink sector made our sponsorship decision an easy one to make. The choice of category winner will not be so easy. With so many great Yorkshire food and drink companies to choose from, it almost seems unfair to pick a winner. However, I relish the challenge and my mouth is watering in anticipation.”

    About LAKE

    LAKE is an SAP channel partner for the award-winning SAP Business One software and member of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

    The annual food and drink awards are organised by accountancy firm Garbutt & Elliott.

    www.lake.co.uk/food/

    14th November 2019

    Palliative care transformed thanks to stair lift company’s contribution

    Leading manufacturer Acorn Stairlifts has raised a life-changing £20,000 for Marie Curie to support people living with terminal illness.

     

    As part of a continued partnership between the Steeton-based stairlift manufacturer and the charity, Acorn pledged to donate £10 for every stairlift installed during a six-week period between April and June 2019.

     

    The £20,000 raised will help support people living with a terminal illness and their families in the Bradford district and across the UK who need access to specialist care.

     

    The cheque presentation at the Marie Curie Hospice in Maudsley Street, Bradford, marked a double celebration as Acorn announced that in the last three years, it has donated the supply and installation of 151 stairlifts into the homes of Marie Curie patients to give them the freedom to be cared for at home.

     

    Caren Larkman-Ayre, national sales manager at Acorn Stairlifts, said: “We’re very proud to be supporting Marie Curie, a charity that does amazing work caring for people during exceptionally difficult times.

     

    “Since our partnership began just less than three years ago, we have installed over 150 stairlifts for people living with a terminal illness, enabling them to be cared for at home and helping them to make the most of the time they have with their loved ones.

     

    “With such vital, life enhancing work already undertaken by this incredible charity, we are delighted to support their essential work even further through the free installation of our stairlifts. We know from our customers how life-changing a stairlift can be and are proud to be helping even more people through our partnership with Marie Curie.”

     

    Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts, which has been manufacturing and installing stairlifts for more than 20 years and employs over 800 people in the UK, has been named a British manufacturing champion after its innovative and easy to use stairlifts received national industry recognition and its customer care achieved Trustmark accreditation.

     

    Acorn Stairlifts’ partnership with Marie Curie was announced with the support of the charity’s patron Christine Hamilton-Stewart MBE, who helped raise the £3.5million funds to build the Marie Curie Bradford Hospice in 2001. Christine helped unveil the hospice’s £1.5 million refurbishment last month which has transformed its Day Therapy Unit into a state-of-the-art outpatient facility that will improve the care received by terminally ill people and their loved ones.

     

    Christine said: “Corporate support from local businesses is so important to any charity but to see this incredibly generous partnership between Acorn Stairlifts and Marie Curie have an impact on our patients nationally and locally is absolutely fantastic.

     

    “For families where quality of life is of the essence, fast access to a free stairlift means precious time can be spent at home. And for those needing to access the many services offered here in Bradford and throughout the UK, this £20k raised will help to extend our care to many families in need of our support.”

     

    She added: “We are delighted that Acorn has pledged such a significant amount and look forward to the partnership continuing to blossom into the future.”

     

    To find out more about Acorn Stairlifts and its partnership with Marie Curie, visit www.acornstairlifts.co.uk/mariecurie or call 0800 016 9075

    14th November 2019

    A very Grand Christmas

    York’s leading hotel is offering guests the perfect gift this Christmas – the chance to spend three days in five-star luxury.

     

    The Grand, York, at the heart of the city has created a special package for those looking for a stress-free Christmas.

     

    And along with Champagne and music, fine food and festivities – they will welcome an extra special guest – Santa Claus himself.

     

    Guests are invited to check in on Thursday 24 December where they will be served with Champagne and mince pies prior to a seasonal meal in the hotel’s The Rise restaurant, with music from an acoustic singer.

     

    The concierge will then make the necessary arrangements for those wishing to

    attend a Christmas service at York Minster.

     

    Christmas Day will be heralded with breakfast and optional festive activities before residents sit down to a four-course Christmas lunch in the hotel’s historic Grand Boardroom.

     

    This will begin with a Champagne reception, followed by a starter of oak smoked salmon with shaved fennel and orange and a crab mayonnaise.

     

    This will be followed with a velouté of cauliflower and Crabley goat’s cheese with truffle and brown butter croutons before the traditional main course of Thirkleby turkey with winter vegetables, roast potatoes and cranberry stuffing.

     

    Lunch will be rounded off with Christmas pudding and brandy sauce along with coffee and petits fours, before the final guest – Santa Claus – joins the party.

     

    On Boxing Day, 26 December, guests can spend the morning exploring the city ahead of a Grand Afternoon Tea served to the backdrop of a string quartet in the Grand Boardroom.

     

    The three-day package then draws to a close on 27 December – unless guests wish to extend their stay with an extra night or two.

     

    “What we are offering, really, is what a great number of people would consider their dream Christmas present,” said general manager, Philip Bolson.

     

    “The chance to be completely cared for and pampered – with no cooking, no washing up and no pressure to keep everyone entertained.

     

    “Quite simply, we will do all that for you – all you have to do is relax, unwind and enjoy this lovely hotel at the heart of one of the UK’s most fascinating cities.”

     

    The three-night Christmas package at The Grand, York, costs £720 per adult and from £360 per child.

     

    To find out more, or to make a reservation, call 01904 380038, email events@thegrandyork.co.uk or visit www.thegrandyork.co.uk

    14th November 2019

    Laboratories worldwide have welcomed the launch of SDCE’s new Proficiency Testing Programme

    Laboratories worldwide have welcomed the launch of SDCE’s new Proficiency Testing Programme, citing increased competition as a key factor in the need to maintain their market position. The scheme – which is due to launch early next year – is a global project allowing laboratories in the textile sector to audit their test procedures and technicians, rate their performance against that of their competitors and gain the kudos of participation in a globally-recognised independent benchmarking scheme.

    Many laboratories are already accredited by ISO 17025; the main ISO standard used to by testing and calibration laboratories for technical competence. However, regular participation in PTP scheme demonstrates an ongoing commitment to quality control and technical competence.

    “As an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, we have participated in PTP schemes in the past to empower our technical staff and to maintain our high levels of quality assurance,” says Mehdi Zaatir, technical manager at Total Testing Service in Monastir, Tunisia. “Lately, we have been made aware of several laboratories gaining ISO 17025 accreditation, which could lead to increased competition in the textile sector.”

    Such competition has increased the pressure on long-established facilities to set themselves aside from their similarly-accredited counterparts. As well as the assurance that PTP participation can offer outside clients, the insight into the performance of one’s own facility cannot be under-estimated.

    “Do we want to know how our performance compares with that of our competitors? Of course we do,” admits Mr Zaatir. “We want to deliver our results with as few uncertainties as possible.”

    In a straw poll carried out by SDCE ahead of the launch of PTP, respondents indicated that the scheme would allow laboratories to identify any areas requiring improvement before reaching the potentially-damaging stage of customer complaint.

    “Being made aware of any weakness in any section of our performance means we can take serious action, and ultimately become stronger,” says M.Nik Panjeh, managing director at Niktex Consultancy in Iran. “We were the first ISO 17025-accredited laboratory in Iran and we carry out our own internal testing, but we want to go above and beyond that. We have not previously participated in a PTP scheme, but we believe that it would give us assurance and even more confidence in our testing results.”

    Many respondents also praised the anonymity of the benchmarking scheme, maintaining that results should be informative and confidential, without any potential compromise to the reputation of a facility.

    “The ability to identify faults or deviations is of course useful,” reported one UK-based textile testing facility. “However, having information shared with other laboratories giving an insight into faults with certain tests could harm a laboratory’s reputation, which is why most PTP participants prefer to remain anonymous.”

    SDC Enterprises is currently in the final stages of tailoring the PTP programme to the needs of the industry. Derived from the educational charity the Society of Dyers & Colourists and a global specialist in testing consumables, SDCE is completely independent from actual commercial testing procedures, and perfectly placed to provide a professional benchmarking service for laboratories worldwide.

    Testing professionals can have their say here, and make sure that the tests most relevant to their business are available as part of the industry’s Proficiency Testing Programme.

    14th November 2019

    Industry guide confirms Andrew Jackson as Leading legal practice:

    Andrew Jackson is delighted to announce that it remains a top ranked law firm in the York, Hull & surrounds region, according to the latest research findings of Chambers & Partners, a leading guide to the UK’s top law firms.

     

    In the 2020 edition of Chambers, published 15 October, Andrew Jackson has achieved several recommendations both regionally and nationally, with 11 of its lawyers being recognised for their expertise.

     

    Among the numerous comments in the latest guide, sources describe the top-ranked family practice as “a very cohesive and thorough team in all regards,” possessing “excellent knowledge of the subjects they are dealing with.”

     

    Also highly recommended in the York section, the firm’s agriculture team is described by one commentator as having “the strength and depth to handle matters quickly and efficiently, whether complex or straightforward.”

     

    Mark Pearson-Kendall, managing partner of Andrew Jackson, said: “The recommendations we receive in Chambers & Partners’ annual guide are always very important to us, as they are based on a combination of objective research and interviews with clients, so they provide us with valuable insight into how we are performing.

     

    “The aim across the firm is to provide exceptional legal services built around our clients’ specific needs. I am very proud of the team for continuing to deliver a very strong and consistent client offering across the whole business.”

    14th November 2019

    Barratt Developments PLC Continued strong performance

    Barratt Developments PLC (the ‘Group’) is today holding its Annual General Meeting (‘AGM’) at 12:00pm in London and issuing a trading update for the 15 week period from 1 July to 13 October (the ‘period’). All comparatives are to the prior year equivalent period (‘2019’) unless otherwise stated. Barratt Developments PLC’s year end is 30 June 2020.

     

    David Thomas, Chief Executive commented: “We have started our new financial year well, with a good sales rate and a healthy forward order book. As the only major housebuilder to be awarded a 5 Star rating for customer satisfaction for ten years in a row, we continue to lead the industry in quality and customer service.

    “Whilst there is economic and political uncertainty, we continue to be disciplined and have a strong balance sheet and cash position which we believe provide us with the resilience and flexibility to react to potential changes in the operating environment in FY20 and beyond. We maintain our focus on the delivery of operational improvements across our business, and our commitment to deliver the highest quality homes across the country.”

     

    Ian Ruthven, Managing Director of Yorkshire West commented: “Barratt Developments Yorkshire East and West were recently crowned Best Residential Developer at the Yorkshire Residential Property Awards and it’s really positive to see that there is continued customer demand for high quality homes across Yorkshire and beyond.  We look forward to continuing to deliver quality homes to address the housing shortage and help local people get a foot onto the property ladder.”

     

    Daniel Smith, Managing Director of Yorkshire East commented:

    ”Barratt Developments retained its five star rating for the tenth year in a row in 2019, and we are determined to do the same in 2020 and beyond by delivering quality homes as sustainably as possible. We look forward to seeing what the next quarter brings and adapting to any changes in the property market.”

     

    Trading update

    The Group has started the new financial year well with good customer demand for high quality new homes across the country. Our sales rate in the period was 0.72 net private reservations per active outlet per average week. In the equivalent period last year the sales rate was also 0.72 but this included two bespoke design and build arrangements, without those the sales rate in the equivalent period in FY19 was 0.69.

     

    We are progressing as expected on site openings, with 26 (2019: 53) new developments launched in the period (including JVs). We operated from an average of 374 (2019: 365) active outlets (including JVs).

     

    As Britain’s largest housebuilder we remain committed to playing our part in addressing the housing shortage. We continue to increase volumes whilst maintaining our industry leading quality, and remain committed to investing in the future of housebuilding. In the period we have delivered 3,252 (2019: 2,852) home completions (including JVs), up 14.0% on last year. Total forward sales (including JVs) as at 13 October 2019 are strong, comprising 12,963 homes (14 October 2018: 12,903 homes) at a value of £3,070.2m (14 October 2018: £3,146.5m).

     

    We continue to make good progress on our medium term targets with a focus on driving margin improvements through our business without compromising quality. Our new product range is now in build on 74% of our active outlets, providing us with greater flexibility to replan sites to suit market conditions and consumer demands. Our new housetype ranges are suitable for modern methods of construction  which we continue to develop, trial and implement and aim to use in the construction of 25% of our homes by 2025.

     

    We continue to buy land at a minimum of 23% gross margin and to expect to approve between 18,000-22,000 plots for purchase this year to support our volume growth aspirations.

     

    Leadership in quality and customer service

    We have an absolute and long term commitment to quality and customer service. Not only is this the right thing to do for customers, we believe it is also fundamental to business resilience. Our quality is recognised through the NHBC Pride in the Job Awards for site management. In June 2019 our site managers were awarded 84 awards, more than any other housebuilder for the 15th consecutive year. We are also the only major housebuilder to be awarded the maximum 5 Star rating by our customers in the HBF customer satisfaction survey for ten years in a row which means that our customer satisfaction rating is consistently over 90%.

     

    Capital returns

    In accordance with our extended Capital Return Plan announced in February 2019 and the continued strong financial performance of the Group, in September the Board recommended a final ordinary dividend of 19.5 pence per share (2018: 17.9 pence per share) and a special dividend of £175.0m (17.3 pence per share). Both the final and special dividends will be paid on 5 November 2019, subject to shareholder approval at today’s Annual General Meeting. The total proposed dividend for FY19, including the interim dividend of 9.6 pence per share paid in May 2019, is therefore 46.4 pence per share (FY18: 43.8 pence per share).

     

    Outlook

    We remain focused on delivering our medium term targets of volume growth in wholly owned home completions of 3 – 5% per annum over the medium term, land acquisition at a minimum 23% gross margin and a minimum 25% ROCE.

     

    We have started our new financial year well. Based on current market conditions, we continue to expect to grow volume towards the lower end of our medium term target range this year, whilst ensuring we maintain our industry leading standards of quality and service. The housing market fundamentals remain attractive, with a long term undersupply of new homes, strong Government support to the sector and a positive lending environment.

     

    As we said in September, whilst there is increased economic and political uncertainty, the Group is in a strong position. We recognise that the economic outlook will depend on the form of the UK’s EU withdrawal in the medium term. We have a substantial net cash balance, a well-capitalised balance sheet, a healthy forward sales position, a continued focus on delivery of operational improvements across our business and an ongoing commitment to deliver high quality homes across the country. The Board will continue to monitor the market and economy and believes that our strong financial position provides us with the resilience and flexibility to react to potential changes in the operating environment in FY20 and beyond.

     

    Annual General Meeting

    The Group will be holding its AGM today at 12:00pm at The Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4LE.

    Further information

    For further information please contact:

    Barratt Developments PLC

    Jessica White, Chief Financial Officer                                              01530 278 259

     

    Analyst / investor enquiries

    Jenny Matthews, Interim Head of Investor Relations                        020 7299 4894

     

    Media enquiries

    Tim Collins, Head of Corporate Communications                            020 7299 4874

     

    Brunswick

    Jonathan Glass                                                                                  020 7404 5959

     

    This trading update contains certain forward-looking statements about the future outlook for the Group. Although the Directors believe that these statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, any such statements should be treated with caution as future outlook may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different.

     

    Notes:

    • Unless otherwise stated, all numbers quoted exclude Joint Ventures (JVs) throughout this statement

     

    Appendix

        13 October 2019   14 October 2018 Variance (%)
    1.  Forward sales   £m Units   £m Units £m Units
    Private   1,634.4 5,172   1,698.9 5,446 (3.8) (5.0)
    Affordable   1,102.8 6,869   1,023.6 6,615 7.7 3.8
    Wholly owned   2,737.2 12,041   2,722.5 12,061 0.5 (0.2)
    JV   333.0 922   424.0 842 (21.5) 9.5
    Total   3,070.2 12,963   3,146.5 12,903 (2.4) 0.5

     

        Current Year   Prior Year Variance (%)
    2.  Forward sales roll   Private Total   Private Total Private Total
    June   3,827 11,419   3,863 10,155 (0.9) 12.4
    Reservations   3,922 4,796   3,880 5,600 1.1 (14.4)
    Completions   (2,577) (3,252)   (2,297) (2,852) 12.2 14.0
    October   5,172 12,963   5,446 12,903 (5.0) 0.5

    14th November 2019

    Project extension has £1.25m to fund small to medium businesses

    £1.25m of grant funding is now available for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) businesses, thanks to an extension of a successful funding project.

     

    PAPI (Product and Process Innovation) is delivered by the University of York and helps start-up and existing small businesses across the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. A grant of 40% is available for the purchase of equipment on project spend of between £20k – £50k, which equates to a grant of between £8k – £20k. Grants will help the regional economy grow with the creation of new products, services and jobs.

     

    The extension builds on the project’s previous success which has to date provided over £1m of funding, supporting 68 businesses, created 130 new jobs and 100 new products since its launch in 2016. The project is now set to run until 2022.

     

    Programme Manager Matthew Kirk says “The PAPI project has successfully delivered innovation support to SME’s across York and North Yorkshire providing grant funding to unlock business growth and job creation.  With this latest release of funding the PAPI project will aim to support many more businesses to access the funding they need to develop new products and services.”

     

    One business who has already benefitted from the scheme is Cooper King Distillery, based near York. Set up by Chris Jaume and Dr Abbie Neilson, the business grew from an initial spark of an idea to the launch of their first product ‘Cooper King Dry Gin’ in May 2018. The PAPI project provided funding support to purchase initial equipment including a bespoke copper pot still and specialist gin distillation equipment.

    Chris explained that “the PAPI grant provided much needed support; it enabled the purchase of key equipment which allowed us to produce our first product, a dry gin.  We have been able to enter the market place and develop new products at a much faster rate than would otherwise have been the case with the first aged whisky product likely to follow in 2023.”

    Regarding the PAPI application process Chris and Abbie explained “The responsive business support and guidance provided by the PAPI team ensured that the grant process was smooth and efficient. This complimented the development timescales set out by Cooper King to ensure a swift introduction of a new product to market.” 

    Following the PAPI grant, Cooper King have won a number of business contracts and several industry awards. They continue to grow and have implemented a sustainability plan which includes running their distillery on 100% green energy, planting one square metre of woodland for every bottle of gin sold, offering a gin refill scheme and using plastic free packaging.

    PAPI can support SME businesses located in the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. This covers the districts of York, Harrogate, Selby, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and East Riding. A separate project also runs in the Leeds City Region. The project is now open for applications and businesses can quickly check their eligibility and apply on the website at papi.org.uk or by calling the PAPI team on 01904 32 8076.

     

    The PAPI project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

    14th November 2019

    York Handmade provides 100,000 bricks for stunning Riba Stirling prize runner-up

    The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company supplied 100,000 bricks to London Bridge Station, the runner-up in this year’s prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture.

    London Bridge, one of Britain’s busiest railway stations, reopened in 2017 after a redevelopment that cost £1billion and took five years to complete.

    The RIBA Stirling Prize jury praised the station’s “voluminous spaces and impressive new concourse, which had significantly improved the experience of those who use it daily”.

    The Times newspaper, which supported London Bridge Station in its bid to win the Stirling  Prize, wrote a leading article extolling the “stunning redevelopment which restored London bricks and archways to their former glory and washed commuters in natural light”.

    York Handmade, based at Alne, near Easingwold, also supplied 100,000 bricks for London Bridge Place, a superb new office and retail development, next door to the station. Together the contracts were worth £250,000 and the company have created special bricks called Autumn Sunset and London Stock for the two projects.

    David Armitage, the chairman of York Handmade, the leading independent brickmaker in the north of England, commented: “We are honoured and humbled to have played a part in London Bridge Station coming so close to winning the Stirling Prize, the most prestigious award in the architectural world.

    “The whole station development is absolutely stunning – and sets the bar incredibly high for future station redevelopments and restorations.  This contract, together our work at London Bridge Place, has really put York Handmade on the map. Our ability to produce attractive bespoke bricks to order means we are now on the radar of influential architects and builders across the country.

    “They follow on from our work on the nearby Shard, arguably the most iconic modern building in the whole of London. It is fantastic that a Yorkshire company should have played a significant role in the acclaimed regeneration of the London Bridge area, which is now a commercial and residential hotspot,” he added.

    Since work began in 2013, London Bridge has been transformed by Network Rail as part of the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, while remaining open for the 50 million passengers that use London’s oldest station each year. The vast new concourse, larger than the pitch at Wembley, unites all fifteen platforms for the first time and modern facilities make the landmark station fully accessible for all.

    Other high-profile projects carried out in London by York Handmade include Highbury Stadium, Carmelite House and Highgate School.

    He added: “Our acclaimed work in London means that our reputation as a premier brick supplier in the capital for both residential and commercial developments is gathering its own momentum. Our work on the Shard led to the prestigious London Bridge commissions, for example, so the future looks bright.”

     

    For further information, please contact Robert Beaumont of Robert Beaumont Associates on 01423 323139 or 07710 127713.

     

    14th November 2019

    Students and businesses celebrate the start of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

    More than 50 local students, businesses and dignitaries gathered in Bradford for a tour of a 38-acre manufacturing facility to kickstart a fortnight of events for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019.

     

    Attendees at water solutions and chemical manufacturer, Solenis, included 12 students from three schools – Dixons Allerton Academy, Parkside School and Appleton Academy – alongside MP Judith Cummins and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chair, Roger Marsh, OBE.

     

    Organisers believe Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is set to provide almost 6,000 manufacturing experiences to pupils of 45 Bradford secondary schools and colleges in the district. More than 65 local manufacturers will facilitate work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. The initiative, led by Bradford Chamber and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

     

    During the launch event, attendees heard about the initiative from founder, Nick Garthwaite, as well as hearing about the Leeds City Region’s support for the district and Bradford Manufacturing Weeks from Roger Marsh.

     

    Addressing the attendees, Roger Marsh said that Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the might of manufacturing in the district. He said: “Bradford has a lot to be proud of – we must be positive about what we have to offer. Through engaging young people manufacturers are thinking not only of their employees of today, but also considering their employees of tomorrow.”

     

    Experiencing the vast manufacturing site for themselves, Parkside School student, Albert Lawler said: “I didn’t know what to expect and I have really enjoyed exploring Solenis. This experience has changed my outlook on manufacturing massively in a positive way.”

     

    Dave Calder, site manager at Solenis, said: “We were delighted to host the launch of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019. Having been involved last year, we recognise the importance of showcasing the opportunities available within manufacturing. In the past two weeks we have  offered  work experience opportunities and site tours to schools. It was an amazing initiative that brings together our manufacturing community to help potential future employees realise that there is a vast range of careers available.”

     

    The calendar of school and manufacturer events is a West & North Yorkshire chamber initiative and is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

     

    Of supporting the weeks, Judith Cummins MP said: “I am proud to continue to support this initiative. Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has gone from strength to strength; now involving over 40 Bradford secondary schools and providing over 4000 manufacturing experiences for students. I know how much hard work has gone into organising these two weeks, and I want to congratulate the businesses, schools and students involved.”

     

    Nick Garthwaite, founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and managing director of international chemicals and detergents manufacturer Christeyns said: “It was fantastic to kick start the weeks at one of Bradford’s many magnificent manufacturing sites. It is thanks to employers like Solenis that we are on target to hit 6,000 experiences for young people this year, which is more than double what we achieved last year.”

     

    He added: “I can’t wait to hear about the experiences and outcomes of the next two weeks – I hope Bradford’s manufacturers are ready for an influx of apprenticeship applications!”

     

    Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019 runs from the 7–18 October. For more information and to register for key events see the website https://bradfordmanufacturingweek.co.uk and for regular updates follow @Bradfordmfg on Twitter.

    13th November 2019

    Clarion appoints partner to lead its new regulatory team

    Clarion is extending its services to businesses with the launch of a new regulatory practice that will be led by partner Sarah Taylor who joins the firm with extensive knowledge in this specialist field, advising UK businesses on regulatory investigations and enforcement.

     

    Sarah joins Clarion with 20 years’ experience as a regulatory lawyer including the last 10 years as a legal director at Pinsent Masons.  Sarah will be supported by Lucy Alderson who joins the team as an associate.

     

    Matthew Hattersley, partner and head of Clarion’s commercial practice, comments: “While this is a new service line for Clarion, it is very much a natural extension of our commercial offering to businesses in the region by supporting them with any regulatory challenges they may face.

     

    “With her extensive experience and knowledge in this specialist area of law, Sarah is the ideal person to lead our new offering and we are very pleased that she has chosen to progress her career with Clarion. Sarah has particular strength advising on issues in the health and safety, food, retail and crisis management spheres, and a proven track record of working with leading UK businesses on criminal prosecutions and compliance. The launch of this new specialist practice is already being welcomed by our clients as it will help protect them from regulatory enforcement.”

     

    Sarah adds: “I really enjoy working with clients to protect their interests in the face of enforcement action. They work hard to build a compliance agenda and a strong brand, and I enjoy helping them to deal with challenges from regulators.

     

    “I’m excited by the opportunity to head up a brand new practice area for Clarion and to build on the firm’s strong reputation for client service and commercial advice.  I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.”

     

    Sarah’s practice spans health and safety, food safety and trading law, and advertising and marketing. She is able to support businesses and directors in relation to fatal and serious accidents in the workplace, unsafe food, unhygienic food premises, food labelling, date coding, pricing and consumer protection. She has extensive experience of advising clients in the retail and food and drink sectors. Sarah has Higher Rights of Audience in the Criminal Courts and appears regularly in the Magistrates’ Courts and at Coroner’s Inquests.

     

    Sarah’s non-contentious practice includes training directors and senior managers on regulatory compliance and evaluating systems and procedures in terms of due diligence.

     

    13th November 2019