Friday, December 2, 2016

News: ALS completes acquisition of Alcontrol UK

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ALontrol's Rotherham laboratory has been acquired by ALS Limited as part of a significant deal for ALcontrol's food, water and environmental businesses in the UK.

Environmental and food testing specialists, ALcontrol has UKAS accredited laboratories at Templeborough which provide testing for food micro, food chemistry, water micro, water chemistry and molecular biology. It is headquartered in Hawarden, North Wast Wales.

ALS Food and Pharmaceutical provide a comprehensive range of microbiological, physical and chemical testing services for food and drink, dairy, water, and pharmaceuticals.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, from ALcontrol Financial Ltd includes laboratories in Hawarden, Rotherham, Aberdeen, Bellshill, Dunstable, Shrewsbury and Newton Abbot as well as the online reporting systems.

ALcontrol UK employs 650 staff and with revenues of £39m. ALS said that the acquisition will be fully integrated into ALS' existing hub and spoke service model in the UK and once fully integrated is expected to deliver in excess of £7.93m in EBITDA (earnings before taxes) per annum and position ALS as the largest provider of both food and environmental/water services in the region.

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The acquisition will result in the creation of one of the largest analytical testing organisations in the UK and Ireland, operating from a total of 22 sites and employing over 1,500 staff in the food, water and environmental sectors.

Andreas Jonsson, general manager of ALS Europe, said: "The ALcontrol businesses represent a good strategic fit to the ALS UK businesses as we look to re-inforce our position as the number one laboratory service provider in the UK & Ireland. The addition of these laboratories into the ALS portfolio will allow us to enhance our service offering to clients in the region and open up wider opportunities to the ALS Group across Europe."

One of the world's largest and most diversified analytical testing service providers, ALS Global has its corporate headquarters in Queensland, Australia. In November 2015, ALS undertook a capital raising in part to provide funding for acquisitions in the non-cyclical sectors of its businesses. Other parts of the business have been affected by the downturn in oil & gas, and mining sectors.

ALcontrol was born out of Yorkshire Water owner Kelda and sold to Bridgepoint in December 2000. It was sold to private equity group Candover in 2004 before being sold to U.S. investment firm Blackstone in 2009. A restructure followed the recession and the Rotherham site in the asbestos, air emissions and occupational hygiene services division of the business was sold in 2012. In 2011, the Rotherham laboratory relocated from Templeborough House to nearby Aspen Court.

ALcontrol website
ALS website

Images: ALcontrol


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News: D4 marketing South Yorkshire manufacturing to the world

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Rotherham-based manufacturing company, AESSEAL, has praised the services of a specialist industrial design consultancy, D4, in helping it to grow business.

With global headquarters at Templeborough, AESSEAL manufactures seals to stop leakage of harmful liquids and gases into the environment for a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals. It is one of three major South Yorkshire manufacturing companies who have recently started working with industrial design specialists, D4.

Based at The Electric Works in Sheffield, D4 specialises in solving marketing challenges for engineers, manufacturers and distributors.

David Amory, global head of marketing at AESSEAL, said: "D4 have been extremely responsive to our needs, producing a brand new mini-site for an important product launch in just a few days. The project was delivered both on time and on budget and we look forward to working more closely with D4 in the future."

Justin Williams, creative director at D4, added: "We are delighted to be working with AESSEAL who are a wonderful representative of the industrial heritage that is so rich across manufacturing companies in Rotherham and the rest of Yorkshire."

Williams and managing director Paul Herron established the company in 2011 alongside senior creative Matthew Hall and head of digital Jeremy Hoke to work specifically with British industrial brands. Their aim is to establish Sheffield-based D4 as the region's leading industrial brand consultancy.

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Williams added: "Good design sells, so why is all the best work aimed at consumers? Let's face it, many designers simply don't want to work with unglamorous clients, and many industrial leaders think design is artsy-fartsy fluff. So, they commission, and receive, second rate work that gets poor results.

"D4 are different. We're passionate about industry and fascinated with the heritage and traditions of people who make things. We’re not interested in egos, we want to ensure that the businesses we work with perform better in a world that is changing fast."

Clients such as Sheffield based international metal traders Asmet and Doncaster's cryogenic valve specialists Herose Ltd have recorded year-on-year growth – in enquiries, exports, sales, turnover and profit – since beginning work with D4.

Herron said: "We're proud to be taking the products and services of South Yorkshire industry into the wider global economy. In my experience the best MD's and CEO's are always thinking three years ahead. Our job is to translate their vision into opportunities that can be converted into sales.

"Clients we work with have sold more products to existing customers, broken into new markets and discovered fresh revenue streams.

"Post-Brexit industrial marketing needs to be adaptive as new markets and locked-in networks won't open by themselves. Products, services and currencies demand change fast, and we know you need to flex with them to have profitable conversations with industrial buyers."

Herron added that design consultancies need to speak the same language as their clients. He said: "You won't hear any "full service agency" talk about "transformational branding" or "integrated campaigns" here. Just clever, well executed communication strategies that work as hard as our clients."

AESSEAL website
D4 website

Images: AESSEAL


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News: Spend Small Business Saturday in Rotherham

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This Saturday, December 3, is Small Business Saturday and a number of events are taking place in Rotherham town centre where you can shop local.

Launching in the UK in 2013, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots, non-political, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to support them in their communities, both on the Saturday and beyond.

The concept is based on the initiative that already exists in America. In the US, Small Business Saturday takes place on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving celebrations, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Conceived and promoted by American Express, Small Business Saturday complements "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" which focus largely on big box and online retailers.

Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said: "Last year, small business owners, local authorities, a wide range of other organisations and members of the public embraced Small Business Saturday more than ever before.

"The British public has a great affection for small businesses and tapping into that continues to be important. The small businesses themselves really make the campaign as they effectively deliver it on the ground and collectively show the depth and breadth that exists within the sector.

"This year we aim to reach more people, get more engagement, and encourage more people to support small businesses. We will be talking a lot about community because whether they are selling to consumers online or in a particular location or B2B businesses working together and doing business together, our small businesses are a community that benefits both our local and national economies."

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In Rotherham town centre, celebrate by shopping local and visit staff (elves) in All Saints' Square between 10am and 2pm to take advantage of the free Christmas gift wrapping stall, plus you can pick up a copy of the town centre gift guide.

Also in All Saints' Square, the Festive Wonderland event includes free Christmas crafts with expert help from Dawn at High Street's Craft Corner, free face painting, mischievous elves, storytelling, festive photo boards, bronco reindeer as well as Father Christmas in his grotto.

The Old Market Gallery, now at Keppel Wharf, is hosting a Christmas Market from 10am to 3pm with crafts and artworks by local artists for sale, as well as free arts activities, acoustic music, poetry and festive drumming throughout the day.

Rotherham Council has unwrapped the parking offer that sees car parking made free on Saturdays (as well as every Sunday as normal), including Small Business Saturday, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Free parking is available as usual at weekends on Forge Island as well as for up to two hours for free on weekdays in the "red zone."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-size business, 63p is re-spent in the local area. This is compared to 40p in every £1 spent with a chain or larger business.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "As we approach Christmas, now is the time for all of us to go out and celebrate our local businesses.

"Small firms make a big difference to their community and the life of the nation, with many going above and beyond to help their small business neighbours and local start-ups. FSB backs the campaign at branch, region, nation and UK level as a way to say a simple 'thank you' to small business owners in every corner of the country.

"We hope even more people will turn out this year, to value the diversity and vibrancy of the UK small business community. This is a good moment to check out what small local businesses offer the whole year round. Whether you're shopping, buying services or products, choosing where to go for a meal, or building a website - hard working, innovative small businesses in the UK are the first place you should look."

Rotherham Town Centre website

Images: Small Business Saturday


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

News: Chamber alignment as devolution continues

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Presidents of both Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce have announced their intention to promote a greater sense of partnership between the two organisations.

The move reflects a desire to work as a "regional chamber movement" across South Yorkshire, ensuring powerful representation of the local business community in a time of devolution, and mirroring the Combined Authority (CA) and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Currently the region has a forum for Chambers to connect. However, a more aligned position, which will initially see the two chambers strengthen their ties and co-operation, represents a new stage towards the potential creation of a South Yorkshire chamber body, reflecting the voice of business for the whole region.

Darren Pearce, president of Sheffield Chamber, said: "The leadership and governance of the region is set to experience significant change over the next few years, with the establishment of the Combined Authority, the potential of a city region Mayor, and devolution of funding to the region.

"The role of the Chambers is to support business in the evolving economic landscape and our intention is to work ever closer together, positioning the South Yorkshire Chambers as the voice of business for the region."

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Lisa Pogson, newly appointed president at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, added: "There is a commitment by both Chamber boards to work in greater co-operation to find an aligned voice on many key issues and establish areas of joint working to ensure we strengthen our proposition to members."

The prospect of electing a mayor for the Sheffield city region in May next year is in some doubt as the CA waits on a draft Devolution Order from the Government. A verbal update on devolution is on the agenda for the upcoming CA meeting.

The authority was seeking clarity from Government on whether a mayor is still needed as there are still significant concerns around the mayoral model amongst a number of city region authorities. Derbyshire County Council is mounting a legal challenge against the consultation regarding the creation of the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority. A two day judicial hearing about devolution plans for Chesterfield took place at the High Court in London earlier this month.

BR Chamber website
Sheffield Chamber website

Images: SCR


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News: Rotherham colleges focus on future following review

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The final report of a Government review into post-16 education and training across the Sheffield city region (SCR) has confirmed the recommendations regarding the future of Rotherham colleges.

The Government is undergoing a restructuring of the further education sector leading to "fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers" as it believes that substantial change is required to deliver its education objectives while maintaining tight fiscal discipline.

In addition to the expansion of the apprenticeship programme, reform is proposed to ensure there are high quality professional and technical routes to employment, alongside robust academic routes; and that there is a better responsiveness to local employer needs and economic priorities.

Since concluding its Area Based Review in June 2016, the recommendation that Dearne Valley College (DVC) should join forces with the RNN Group - which is made up of Rotherham and North Nottinghamshire Colleges - has progressed with outline merger proposals going out for consultation in September.

The colleges believe that the merged organisation would offer school leavers the widest range of college courses, apprenticeships and higher education provision within the region, and would educate and train more 16 to 18-year-olds than any other school or organisation in the area, whilst working with over a thousand companies offering specialised training and apprenticeships to support business growth and success.

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Under the proposals, DVC's Manvers campus would continue under the name of Dearne Valley College but will become part of a family of organisations supported by the RNN Group, encompassing three further education colleges and five training providers, with a projected annual turnover in excess of £50m.

It follows on from the merger in February 2016 that saw Rotherham College of Arts and Technology (RCAT) merge with North Nottinghamshire College to form the RNN Group, creating a single general FE college.

The report includes an assessment of the finances of the two colleges that shows that a merger of RNN and DVC would provide a large college with a clear prospect of meeting benchmarks.

It is not anticipated that the merger, scheduled for February 1 2017, will lead to compulsory redundancies of teaching staff, as there are no proposals to reduce the curriculum offer or to close any of the campuses but the report adds that possibilities for rationalising estates are being considered.

The review also recommended that Thomas Rotherham College (TRC) should look at joining a multi academy trust. The Rotherham sixth-form college, which has had a growing technical education offer over recent years, has been looking at partnerships and academy trust models to improve the quality of the offer to pupils and students at all ages, and increase their own financial resilience.

The corporation at TRC was due to meet this month in order to make an "in principle" decision on whether to join a multi-academy trusts with local schools or pursue an alternative option. Due diligence on the costs and nature of post-16 provision in the trust model are being carried out.

Nigel Brewster, vice chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), chaired the City Region's Area Based Review. He said: "Local partners in Sheffield City Region are working together to drive forward the transformational changes set out in our Area Based Review. The hard work begins now as partners jointly work through due diligence on the recommendations to ensure that our Further Education sector can deliver the best outcomes for residents, businesses and ultimately the economic growth that our city region is striving to achieve."

Despite a recommendation to merge, Doncaster College's Board of Governors decided not to pursue the merger with Barnsley College.

DVC website
RNN Group website
TRC website

Images: RNN Group


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