Thursday, June 21, 2018

News: AESSEAL increases pipeline of apprentices

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Innovative Rotherham manufacturer AESSEAL has announced that it is increasing its apprentice intake for 2018 to 40 places.

With its global headquarters at Templeborough, the award-winning company manufactures mechanical seals for a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Having had an active apprenticeship programme for many years, a high bias has been on recruiting apprenticeships for machining. For the 2018 intake, the company has decided to recruit 12 apprentices for its machine shop, but a further 28 people in other support roles.

The company's ethos is based around providing such exceptional service to customers that they need never consider alternative sources of supply.

Apprenticeships will be offered in Computer Aided Manufacturing, reliability, marketing, design, HR, business assurance, sales, the stores function, IT, the Test House, the purchasing function, the systems division, the commercial department and other internal functions at its Rotherham facilities.

At the end of the apprenticeship the successful applicants, depending on the area they hold their apprenticeship in, will be expected to achieve Engineering Technician level, or an NVQ in, for example, Marketing or Sales. Other qualifications might include BTech in Business Administration, Certificate in Warehousing and Storage, or Infrastructure Technician (IT).

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Group turnover rose to £170.6m in the year to December 31 2017 as the group benefits from the weakness of the pound. Organic sales growth was 6.75% on the previous year when adjusted for acquisitions and currency fluctuations.

Group net assets rose to £103.5m, a rise of 14.2% from 2016, and the group held a positive cash balance of £17.4m at year end, after increasing capital expenditure – which included investment of £6.8m in additional 9 and 11 axis machining capacity.

The company has continued to grow with May 2018 proving to be a record month with sales of over £16.25m.

Julia Bloomer, head of learning development at AESSEAL, said: "It is our intention to have a very significant apprentice intake, for all areas of the business, including our traditional manufacturing apprenticeships.

"We fully intend to ensure that all of our apprentice intake is given the opportunity to study appropriate qualifications. Mentors have been interviewed and selected for all areas of the business for which apprenticeships have been approved. The business is therefore confident that the apprenticeships will work both for the successful candidates and for the need of a growing organisation to hire even more great people."

AESSEAL apprentice Amber Nicholson has recently been named Apprentice of the Year in the Derby College Peak Awards. Amber is a Level 3 mechanical engineering apprentice at the AESSEAL International Seal Repair Centre in Derby and was named Apprentice of the Year in the East Midlands Enterprising Women Awards in March.

AESSEAL website

Images: Get Up To Speed

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News: Planet X on track with a focus on profits

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Profits are up at Planet X following two years of restructuring at the Rotherham-based specialist in providing bikes at no-nonsense prices.

Originally founded by keen triathlete Dave Loughran in the 1990's, Planet X now sells over 10,000 bicycle products worldwide and employs 60 staff. It designs and sells under its own Planet X, On One and Titus brands. It has also acquired the respected Holdsworth and Viner brands, relaunching them by manufacturing the bikes in the UK and Italy.

For the year ending March 2018, turnover was £15m, down from the highs of £20m in previous years due to the company's strategy of focusing on the most profitable areas of the business and improving operational efficiencies. A number of redundancies were reported in 2016.

Now profit before tax for the year has risen from £1.1m to £1.8m, a 64% increase on the previous year.

With a showroom at Templeborough, Planet X previously invested in new 47,000 sq ft warehouse facilities across Rotherham, at Aldwarke.

Loughran has recently been working with Trevor Parker, chairman of strategy execution experts, NorthCo Management, to drive forward the business and support its growth ambitions. The focus is on reaching a wider consumer base online and on designing and developing its core product range.

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Dave Loughran, chief executive at Planet X, said: "Our strategy to focus upon great quality at sensible prices really resonates with an ever-savvy customer base. We are very excited with the growth opportunities of the business as we resurrect some iconic cycling brands."

Trevor Parker, chairman of NorthCo Management, added: "Planet X's profit margins are a real indicator of how the business has responded to our operational restructuring programme.

"Our focus has been on simplifying Plant X's business model in order to create a robust direct to consumer distribution platform, placing Planet X in prime position to take advantage of market opportunities as they arise. The adage of turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is king is very fitting. Turnover has been sacrificed for an impressive rise in profit.

"In addition, the impact of our continued work at Planet X on the balance sheet over the year has seen us pay down debt of £2.8m so that we are now debt free and despite significant dividends being paid, cash reserves have improved by over £400k to £1.7m."

One highlight for Planet X was bringing Holdsworth, a prominent professional bike racing team of the 1970's, back to professional racing. The team secured a coveted place on the recent Tour de Yorkshire.

Planet X website

Images: Planet X / holdsworth

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News: Millers land Meditemp deal

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Away fans will be watching Rotherham United in the Championship next season from the newly named Meditemp Stand after the club secured a new partnership deal.

Back in the second tier of English football, the Millers will welcome thousands of fans from teams up and down the country, including former European Cup and Premier league champions.

Meditemp, a provider of clinicians to various health centres throughout the UK, have signed a two-year deal with the Millers which will see their logo take a prominent position on the internal and external areas of the South Stand.

Steve Coakley, commercial director at Rotherham United, said: "We are very excited to be working alongside the team at Meditemp, and it is another new and forward thinking business to add to our portfolio of Club partners.

"This is a significant deal for both parties which will see the Meditemp name appear on our South Stand for the minimum of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

"We are thrilled to join forces with Meditemp, who are a partner which have shown a great desire to join forces and become part of what we are trying to achieve here at the Club.

"We look forward to a long and successful relationship and we can’t wait to get started."

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Rebecca Andrews, business manager at Meditemp, added: "We are delighted to be announcing our new and exciting partnership with Rotherham United, a team and a business that share the same ambitions and core values that we endorse here at Meditemp.

"There has never been a better time to join forces as our business continues to expand, whilst the Club are again enjoying a golden period in their history.

"The initial two-year deal is a real statement of commitment from both parties, and we are very excited about working alongside the Club and seeing our name appear at the fantastic AESSEAL New York Stadium."

The Sky Bet Championship season begins in August with the first home game in Rotherham on August 11 against Ipswich Town.

RUFC website
Meditemp website

Images: RUFC

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

News: Rotherham Council considers support to stop Trump's steel tariffs

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Councillors in Rotherham are condemning the 25% tariffs imposed on steel imports to the US, a move that could affect South Yorkshire expansion plans by Liberty Steel.

US President Donald Trump made the tariff announcement in February and from the beginning of June, America imposed a 25% tax on steel and a 10% tax on aluminium from the EU, Mexico and Canada.

The EU is the UK steel sector's biggest market but nationally 250,000 tonnes of steel was exported to the US in 2017 which amounts to £360m of exports.

In March, John Healey, Wentworth and Dearne MP, whose constituency includes Liberty Speciality Steel's Aldwarke plant, wrote to Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, setting out his concerns that a 25% tariff could halt Liberty Steel's expansion plans.

A motion is set to be put before the Council next week that notes with alarm the imposition of 25% tariffs which it believes will be harmful both to the US and global economies.

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The motion, put forward by Cllr. Stuart Sansome, a retired steelworker and union branch secretary, asks for members to support a position where "the Council resolves that the protectionist policies of the current US administration be condemned, that the government be urged to make the strongest possible representations on behalf of the UK steel industry, and that the Community Union's "Stop Trump Tariffs" campaign be supported."

Exports to the US account for almost 12% of revenue for Liberty Speciality Steel in Rotherham and the introduction of a 25% tariff could mean the business would have to re-consider plans to increase exports to the US.

Liberty formally completed a £100m deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK last year. It is undertaking a multi-million-pound investment by the Liberty House Group – a member of the GFG Alliance - that is creating 300 new jobs at Rotherham and its sister plant in Stocksbridge.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers' union, said: "Trade unions across the world must stand together in opposition to these measures. The problems of steel dumping will not be solved by unfair tariffs, and steelworkers in the UK and USA must not fall into the trap of believing rhetoric from the likes of Donald Trump."

Images: Liberty Speciality Steel

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News: Magna appoints new chief executive

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A new chief executive has been unveiled at Magna to build on the Rotherham venue's success.

Kevin Tomlinson, who is from Rotherham, was UK head of global outsourcing company Capgemini until retirement in 2008. He became a trustee of Magna, which is a charity, in 2014 and has now taken over as chief executive from John Silker who died last year.

Set in the former Templeborough steelworks, Magna is a family attraction with more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Millions of pounds have been invested in conference facilities at the centre which is operated by a charity, the Magna Trust.

Kevin, who was born in Eastwood and went to Rotherham Grammar School, said: "I have worked away from Rotherham, everywhere from the US to Australia, but I have always lived here. I'm nearly 65 now so this business opportunity is probably my last chance to give something back to my home town."

After leaving school Kevin went to work for British Steel as an apprentice in Rotherham, working his way up to become one of the youngest senior managers at the company, before leaving to join Capgemini in 1996.

Kevin was in charge of more than 5,000 employees and IT systems for giants including the Metropolitan Police, Matalan and HMRC. After retiring in 2008, he ran a management consultancy turning businesses around, before ill health forced him to give that up. Frustrated by having little to do, he was persuaded to join the board of trustees at Magna, before now taking on the mantle of chief executive.

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Tomlinson added: "This role is an exciting proposition, a real business challenge where the opportunities for improvement are enormous. We need to build on what has been done so far, grow the business revenues and invest even more to enable us to further improve the customer experience in the science centre and our educational services.

"We are already seeing more growth. Last year corporate events had a turnover of £900,000 and we are on track to reach well over a million this year. As a charity, any profits we make are reinvested into the attraction and the school visitor programme.

"I believe Magna should be at the heart of the Rotherham and South Yorkshire community and we want to connect more with people and inject a greater sense of pride in the facility and its services."

Brian Chapple, chair of the Magna Trust, added: "The trustees were delighted when Kevin agreed to become chief executive of Magna. Kevin's successful track record in business and his personal knowledge and understanding of the steel industry make him the ideal person for the role."

Magna recently won "Best Unusual Event Space Award" in the CHS Awards 2018 in recognition of Magna's multi-storey, multi-media and multi-purpose Face of Steel which over the past 12 months alone has played host to a car launch, numerous music concerts, exhibitions, dinners, the World's highest indoor bungee jump and a Victorian themed carousel.

Magna website

Images: Magna

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