Friday, November 15, 2019

News: Rotherham recruitment ramped up at McLaren

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British luxury supercar maker McLaren is on the hunt for some unexpected recruits for its new £50m innovation and manufacturing facility in Rotherham.

Earlier this year, the McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, delivered the first prototype carbon fibre MonoCell, the tub that forms the main structure of McLaren's cars.

After perfecting the production processes, McLaren is now doubling the workforce at the MCTC to over 200 by the time it is in full production next year.

Recruitment is underway and applicants with experience in a wide variety of sectors from boat-building to the textiles trade and sporting goods industries are being encouraged to apply for the next wave of jobs, apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships.

Those skills are required because materials like carbon fibre start life as a fabric that has to be cut, put into moulds before being treated through a variety of processes before becoming a hard material.

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McLaren aims to win the automotive race to lightweight which will become ever more important as cars move towards hybrid powertrains which are generally heavier than their traditional petrol counterparts. The MCTC aims to be a world-leader in innovating lightweight composite materials.

The recently announced McLaren Elva is set to be the lightest road car ever from McLaren Automotive, with Rotherham-made MonoCells as part of a bespoke carbon fibre chassis and body combined with unique carbon fibre seats and sintered carbon ceramic brakes.

Mike Flewitt, chief executive at McLaren Automotive, said: "As we're working with advanced, lightweight materials in new ways that have never been used before on this scale for car production, McLaren is looking for a range of skills you wouldn't normally associate with the automotive industry.

"We're also looking to hire apprentices and degree apprentices. The advanced technologies and processes they will be working on could one day be used in other industries to produce lighter, and therefore more efficient, vehicles which will not only help McLaren to continue to innovate, but the UK to become a global leader in composite materials expertise."

McLaren Recruitment website


Images: McLaren

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News: Three lettings at new Rotherham commercial development

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Three businesses have signed up to take space at the recently completed £5.5m Northfield Business Park in Rotherham.

The major 64,000 sq ft development at Parkgate, was speculatively built by local developer E V Waddington and features two terraces offering ten industrial and manufacturing units.

Heating control manufacturer Salus, bearing distributor Bearing King and print product supplier Solutions 23 are the first occupiers.

Salus expand into 22,500 sq ft from Barnsley while Bearing King and Solutions 23 each take 5,500 sq ft at the site completed this summer and made possible with £1.47m funding from the ERDF.

Rebecca Schofield, partner and head of the yorkshire industrial team at Knight Frank, said: "The premises, ideally located within the Parkgate area of Rotherham, have been designed with the utmost flexibility and are suitable for manufacturing and industrial use hence the quick take up by three local companies looking to move quickly and expand."

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Units at Northfield Business Park include 6.5 m height; connection to all mains services including 3 phase electricity; fully insulated buildings with full height roller shutter loading door; fitted office accommodation over two floors, good sized external yard areas; dedicated car parking; fibre enabled and are all built to BREEAM very good specification with solar power LED lights to the office and warehouse.

Simon Moss, assistant director for planning, regeneration and transportation at Rotherham Council, said: "This is another great example of companies investing in industrial space right in the heart of Rotherham. With such significant investment Rotherham maintains its position as one of the fastest growing economies in the region, continues to provide employment opportunities and welcomes the boost to the local business economy."

EV Waddington website
Knight Frank website

Images: Knight Frank

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News: Professor Brian Cox set to star in Rotherham science school

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World renowned physicist and TV astronomer Professor Brian Cox will be the star name in Rotherham next year as a pioneering education event ventures North for the first time.

The London-based Science Summer School was established a decade ago by Lord Mawson with the scientist, writer and broadcaster in a bid to encourage careers in the UK’s science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) industries.

Rotherham has been chosen to host next year's northern expansion which takes place in November 2020, led by Well Rotherham and supported by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Rotherham and Sheffield councils and the Harworth Group.

Jack Forrest, from the AMRC STEM and Outreach Team, said: "We're really pleased Rotherham has been chosen as the location for this satellite event; it brings it to the heartland of advanced manufacturing.

"This event will allow us to highlight the opportunities that are on the doorstep for young people in Rotherham, such as the AMRC Training Centre, and shows we are a region committed to nurturing the future talent that is vital to ensure our engineering and manufacturing sectors can thrive."

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The announcement follows a trip in the summer organised by Well Rotherham which saw 23 pupils from local schools - Wath Academy, Wales High and Maltby Academy - journey down to London to take part in Prof Cox's science summer school, joining hundreds of other young people from across the country.

Kris MacKay, programme manager for Well Rotherham, said: "It was such a fantastic experience to be able to go to London. Watching these young people who are so passionate about the world of science start their journey as ambassadors was an incredible opportunity.

"Over the next year they'll be working together to help us co-produce the satellite event. This will be happening in November 2020 and it will be such a joy and privilege to have Professor Brian Cox come and join us."

As well as TED-style talks from special guest speakers, industry and academic leaders, and lots of hands-on workshops and experiments, an exposition will be held at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) working in partnership with local businesses on the Rotherham park including Rolls-Royce and McLaren, along with Gulliver's which is developing a theme park in the borough.

Kris added: "This isn't going to be a one-off event. Throughout the year we'll be working with our partner schools Wath Academy, Maltby Academy and Wales High to organise activities and events that continue to inspire the students."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

News: Hammer blow - Homebase closing Rotherham store

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The tumultuous timeline of a Rotherham retail unit has taken another downward turn with Homebase confirming that it is to close.

Rothbiz reported last August that the DIY retailer merry-go-round at Parkgate had come full circle with Homebase returning to the 70,000 sq ft unit at Northfields.

Just over a year later, the Homebase store is now "in clearance/closure mode."

The closure follows on from Australian retail giant, Wesfarmers, opening and closing a Bunnings Warehouse in the unit in the space of five months. It announced that it was selling up and pulling out of the UK market.

Following a comprehensive review of the business, Wesfarmers announced that it had agreed to divest the Homebase business in the United Kingdom and Ireland to a company associated with Hilco Capital.

The store at the Northfields Retail Park at Parkgate was formerly occupied by B&Q having been purposely built for them. It was vacant since June 2016 when B&Q cut back its UK store numbers.

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Opening in December 2017, the first Bunnings opening in the North of England, created 80 new full and part-time jobs. It was rebranded as Homebase in August 2018.

Following the sale of Homebase, one of the UK's leading home improvement and garden retailers, in June 2018, the management team restructured the business and is implementing a comprehensive turnaround plan.

The plan included a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which saw the closure of 47 significantly loss-making stores (which did not include Rotherham at the time) and securing rent reductions on an additional 70 stores.

Homebase, which acquired struggling chain, Bathstore in August, has confirmed that four Homebase stores are closing: Brecon, Horwich, Kidderminster and Rotherham.

Andy Coleman, CFO of Homebase, said in April: "Central to our turnaround plan was the need to reduce our cost base through a series of difficult but necessary measures and we have already removed £100m of fixed costs from the business.

"These changes combined with our improved operational execution are already bearing fruit with EBITDA [earnings before taxes] losses declining by nearly £140m in the second half of 2018. We are encouraged by the progress we are making on our turnaround plan and believe that we now have a stable platform in place to support future growth."

Homebase website

Images: Tom Austen

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News: Applegreen for go - £40m Rotherham motorway service area set for planning approval

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Proposals for motorway service area that would create 300 jobs alongside the M1 in Rotherham are being recommended for approval by Council planners.

If approved, the decision would be a blow for the developers hoping to build a rival scheme further along the motorway in Sheffield.

Applegreen plc, a major petrol forecourt retailer in the Republic of Ireland with a significant and growing presence in the UK, submitted outline plans to Rotherham Council in September 2017.

Landowners and developers believe that their site at Junction 33 of the M1 at Catcliffe in Rotherham is preferable to the site at Junction 35 at Smithy Wood in Sheffield where a long-running planning battle continues.

A paper to the planning board at Rotherham Council states that the principle of a Motorway Service Area (MSA) on the Catcliffe site is considered acceptable, given its existing allocation for mixed use and the previous plans for a hotel and pub which were approved but never implemented.

Currently scrub land on either side of the motorway, the plans, produced by Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson, are for HGV parking and amenities to the north of the M1 with customer parking and amenities for other motorway users to the south of the M1, via an underpass.

The MSA would employ circa 300 staff and represent a circa £40m investment.

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Overcoming converns from Highways England, access to the MSA would be from the roundabout junction via a new arm junction between the M1 Southbound off slip and A630 Rotherway. This would lie within the Green Belt.

Exit for the majority of traffic would be via a new access to Sheffield Parkway some 300m from the junction. This exit will create new traffic lanes on approach to the junction on Sheffield Parkway. An alternative exit for HGVs would be created via a new slip road to the A630 Rotherway.

Highway improvements would tie in to the £45m plan to widen the Parkway and deliver the first part of the widening scheme with the provision of three lanes on the A630 from the east of the MSA to and around J33.

The application has attracted a number of objections, mainly in terms of traffic impacts and the potential in restricting further developments in the area such as at the Sheffield Business Park and Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID).

Extra MSA, the promoter of the rival scheme has objected, believing that J33 is not a viable or deliverable location for an MSA.

With other conditions, such as limits on retail floorspace, planners conclude that the the principle of the development is acceptable, that the scheme conforms with local and national guidelines, that the proposed access is acceptable. Further issues around appearance will be addressed in subsequent detailed planning applications.

On transport issues, the planning report to the board states: "It is considered that the improvements to the A630, the roundabout of the A630 / A631 and the M1, would not adversely affect congestion on the highway network, but would improve the current situation, especially with the proposed Parkway widening scheme."

Applegreen website

Images: Applegreen / Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson

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