Wednesday, October 17, 2018

News: Shares suspended in Fishing Republic

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Rotherham-based Fishing Republic, one of the largest retailers of fishing tackle in the UK, has seen trading in its shares suspended three years after floating on the London stock exchange.

The Eastwood company that floated on the AIM stock exchange in 2015 raised millions to help carry out its expansion plans. However, turnaround plans were required during 2017 to tackle "a significant deterioration in trading."

Reporting its interim results for the six months ended June 30 2018, the company said that it is in a year of transition and that financial results "reflect the challenging period, including the very difficult trading backdrop."

Revenues of £3.4m for the period, down from £4.1m in the same period of 2017, meant that Fishing Republic posted a loss before exceptional items, interest and taxation, depreciation and amortisation of £1.4m, compared to breaking even in the same period last year.

A statement said: "This difficult trading environment has continued and the Board has been informed that certain major shareholders are no longer willing to provide further short-term financial assistance to the Group.

"Trading in the Company's securities on AIM was therefore suspended at the Company's request pending clarification of its financial position."

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Growth plans had been based on snapping up smaller competitors, opening destination stores and boosting online sales.

It had been announced that Daniel Quinn, who has experience in senior commercial roles at Tesco and GO Outdoors, would be joining the board as CEO in October. However, the company was forced to admit that Quinn has agreed to assist in assessing options for the business but will not be taking up his role as CEO or joining the Board at this time.

James Newman continues in his role as executive chairman until further notice.

Ten million new shares at 15p per share raised £1.5m in 2015. A new share placing during 2016 landed a further £3.75m and £1.3m was raised through a new share placing at the start of 2018. This was followed up with a secured loan of £500,000 from existing shareholders in June.

At 31 December 2017, major shareholders were S J Gross (24.1%), Tinley Nominees Limited 15.9% and Miton Group plc 12.2%.

In November 2017, Steve Gross, the company founder, stepped down as CEO but remained on the board as an executive director.

Fishing Republic website

Images: Fishing Republic

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News: College chief exec steps down

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John Connolly, the principal and chief executive of the RNN Group, has decided to take a step down from his day to day activities with immediate effect.

Deputy principal, Phil Sayles left earlier this year.

The organisation has completed two mergers in recent years and now incorporates Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College. Last month RNN Group opened its new the £10.5m HE campus in Rotherham town centre.

Connolly was previously the principal of North Notts College and became the first chief executive of the RNN Group in 2016. At the time, the principal and chief executive of Rotherham College, Gill Alton OBE, moved back to become chief executive of the Grimsby Institute, where she previously held the position of vice principal.

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In a statement, the RNN Group said: "John Connolly has considered for some time whether he is the right person to take the RNN Group on to the next stage of the group's journey. After discussion with the Board and by mutual agreement, John will take a step down from his day to day activities with immediate effect.

"John will continue to work with the Board during this transitional period, which will allow the Board to identify the right individual with the skills and attributes to lead the Group forward to achieve its strategic ambition of becoming one of the UK's leading Further Education Colleges.

"The Board and members of the senior leadership team would like to publicly acknowledge and thank John for his contribution, commitment, professionalism and achievement in bringing the RNN Group together, and creating an organisation with a solid platform on which it can continue to develop and build.

"The RNN Group and its colleges remain focused on its students, their education and ensuring they receive an inspirational experience."

The group added that it had "successfully navigated a period of significant growth and change, all against a backdrop of a very difficult and challenging political and funding landscape."

Minutes from March's board meeting of the RNN Group revealed that an initial draft budget for 2018/19 indicated a loss of £1.3m. Income had declined mainly due to a reduction in 16-18 numbers, a shortfall in Apprenticeships, and lower than expected HE enrolments.

A three year plan for the group is being developed. HE and Apprenticeships had been identified as key areas for growth.

Having played a key role in Rotherham College attaining its best ever Ofsted grade in 2013, last month, Phil Sayles was announced as the new principal and chief executive of Selby College.

RNN Group website

Images: RNN Group

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News: Clifton Park again amongst nation's ten most popular parks

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Clifton Park on the edge of Rotherham town centre has again been voted one of the public's favourites in this year's People's Choice contest.

For the third year running, the popular park is one of just ten from 1,800 locations in the whole of the UK to be successful in Keep Britain Tidy's "People's Choice" Awards. It is the only park in England which has achieved this award for the last three years in a row.

Clifton Park was awarded its eighth Green Flag this summer and the public were once again given the opportunity to vote for it as one of their favourite parks in the UK.

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Cllr. Sarah Allen, Cabinet Member for Cleaner, Greener Communities at Rotherham Council, said: "Everyone works very hard behind the scenes to make the park so welcoming for visitors. The Friends of Clifton Park have once again provided invaluable support. All the staff, volunteers and visitors should be proud of this achievement.

"We're very proud of this wonderful accomplishment, especially as we're the only park in England to have attained this award three years in a row. I would like to say a huge thank you to people who've played their part. This includes those who took the time to vote and helped the park achieve this wonderful accolade."

Paul Todd, Green Flag Award manager at Keep Britain Tidy, added: "We know that parks matter to people and that those tasked with looking after them have faced and are facing some significant challenges with shrinking resources.

"The number of people that took the time to vote for their favourite park is testament to how much they are valued and we would like to congratulate all the winners."

Clifton Park website

Images: RMBC

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

News: Profound transformation of Orgreave site

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There are now more people currently working at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham than at the height of employment when the site was home to the Orgreave colliery and coking plant.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP was at the AMRC's Factory 2050, over the border on Sheffield Business Park recently to officially open the University of Sheffield's three new multi-million-pound engineering research centres which aim to boost the Sheffield city region's (SCR's) reputation as a hub for advanced engineering and industrial digital technologies.

Berry told the audience gathered on the gleaming factory floor that he had looked at aerial photographs from 30 years ago which show a derelict and decaying coking plant amid a bleak wasteland. "The transformation has been profound," he said.

Recognised as the UK's premier advanced technology park, the AMP is home to the likes of Rolls-Royce and McLaren, leading names who have been attracted by the state of the art research institutions created at the site by the university.

Previously the site of the Orgreave coking works and opencast mining, the site has recently been restored and engineered by landowner and developer, Harworth Group plc. Consent has been given for 2.1m sq ft of commercial space and 1.3m sq ft has been built.

Around 1,500 jobs have been created on the Waverley site, more than the 1,000 jobs during the mining heyday.

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Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), joined with Rotherham-born businessman Adrian Allen OBE, commercial director at the AMRC, to launch the centre with Boeing in 2001 on derelict wasteland at Waverley in Rotherham. In 2004, the AMRC moved into a purpose-built facility as the anchor tenant for the AMP.

The AMP is key to the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) where the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster in the SCR. It is described as "a 2,000-acre centre of excellence for innovation-led research and industrial collaboration, it boasts exemplar models of university and industry collaboration in metals, materials, health technology and wellness."

Berry added: "This is what can be achieved by government, business, research and higher education working closely together at a local level. The former site of the battle of Orgreave in 1984, a symbol of confrontation is now being recognised as an example of collaboration."

"This site demonstrates the Northern Powerhouse in action. When I go to London I am the voice of the North and it is the AMRC I point our Business Secretary, our Chancellor and our Prime Minister to when I talk about what the North can and will achieve if the government gives us the tools to control our own future. And on this historic site, we are ushering in the brightest of futures."

The launch event was for the £47m Royce@Sheffield, Laboratory for Verification and Validation and Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR)

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority told the audience that this "is a city region that is experiencing a renaissance in advanced manufacturing and engineering – for the first time in a generation we have seen a growth in high value manufacturing and engineering roles. This renaissance is evident in the performance and capabilities of businesses such as Nikken, Metalysis, PES, Magnomatics, Metlase and Iceotope, to name but a few.

"We should be confident about our future. This is a region with its best days in front of it – rather than behind.

"We're putting in place the right assets, developing the right people and growing and attracting the right businesses. And we're doing it by focusing on what we're good at – our capabilities. By doing so we'll build more resilient businesses – equipped to explore and exploit new and emerging markets – and respond to the challenges of the 21st century."

AMRC website
Harworth Group website

Images: Harworth / AMRC

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News: Entrepreneurs reflect on growth of mirror business

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A family run business that started as an eBay shop has secured business investments worth over £30,000 with the help of a local lender.

Based at Dinnington in Rotherham, JS Mirrors has secured investment from alternative funding specialist Finance For Enterprise which will be used to help the business invest in its customer service offering, creating new roles within the business as it sets its sights on future growth.

Today, JS Mirrors employs seven members of staff and since the business was launched in 2005 has established itself as one of the UK's largest mirror specialists in the UK, which are sold exclusively online. The company was founded by Stuart Morgan after he received a sum of money on his father's retirement. Stuart, along with his siblings, were given £500 on condition they grew, rather than spent the money.

As the business began to grow, Stuart began developing additional business ventures. Today he operates four dedicated e-businesses, helping homeowners to source chandeliers, home furnishings and mirrors from the comfort of their own home.

Larger premises were needed, and unable to secure lending from a traditional high street bank, Stuart turned to Doncaster-based alternative funding provider, Finance For Enterprise for help.

Earlier this year, Stuart and his co-director Joanna Morgan called upon the help of Finance For Enterprise, enabling him to invest in a new technology infrastructure to improve the efficiency of the business. Previously known as Donbac, the lender previously helped to fund new premises and purchase stock in 2011.

Following the additional investment, Stuart and Joanna are hoping to create new customer service roles within the business.

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Clients range from members of the public, business-to-business establishments such as hotels, salons and restaurants, and even the occasional celebrity! The company has received orders from professional footballers, actors and both Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel-Horwood and Liam Gallagher have both purchased unique creations for their homes! Three mirrors were donated as part of a recent episode of Love Your Home & Garden with Alan Titchmarsh.

Joanna Morgan, co-director at JS Mirrors (pictured, left), said: "Investing in staff is a big commitment for any business and we contacted Finance For Enterprise to help our business receive a cash injection as we entered into a new phase of business growth and development.

"Like many businesses, we had a proven business model and good trading history, so it came as quite a surprise when our high street lender told us that we weren’t eligible for lending. After spending some time researching our options, we contacted Finance For Enterprise, who helped us to secure the vital capital our business needed.

"The support we have received from Finance For Enterprise has proved to be invaluable to our business journey. They made the application process quick, easy and straightforward and as a result we have been able to create new jobs within the business as well as invest in new technology to prepare our business for further growth."

Alan Scott, investment manager at Finance For Enterprise (pictured, centre), added: "Many business owners are often surprised when they visit a traditional high street lender and are unable to secure the lending they need. In Joanna and Stuart's case, securing a business loan was vital to their future growth plans, ensuring they could implement the systems and procedures to improve efficiency within the company as well as enabling them to create new jobs within the local economy.

"I have worked with JS Mirrors for a number of years and they have enjoyed a significant period of growth during that time. When Joanna and Stuart approached me earlier in the year to discuss their further growth plans, I worked with them to identify a loan package which was capable of meeting their needs. I examined a number of different options and was able to help them access the right form of financial help which was capable of meeting their needs."

Exclusive Mirrors website
Finance For Enterprise website

Images: Finance for Enterprise

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