Record November for sales points to Likewise hitting its year end targets

Likewise Group plc, the fast growing UK floor coverings distributor, has notched up a record month in November.

The AIM-listed company, headquartered near Birmingham, recorded total revenue of £14 million for November 2023.Group revenue to the end of the month increased by 13.3% compared to November 2022, while revenue in the expanding Likewise Floors business rose by 29%, reflecting excellent organic growth.

Tony Brewer, chief executive of Likewise Group plc, said the record performance had been achieved despite challenging market conditions, which were undoubtedly adversely impacted by macro-economic headwinds.

He added that the group remains on track to achieve its current market expectations for the financial year ending 31 December 2023.

Mr Brewer said: ““The growth of Likewise Group plc has been achieved through the huge contribution from our management and staff, plus the support from suppliers, customers and shareholders. We thank all our stakeholders and wish them a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.”

Likewise has continued to invest in logistics, sales teams and point-of-sale to expand its geographical coverage and presence with existing customers.

Following successful development in South Wales, Valley Wholesale Carpets Ltd is now expanding into Bristol and South West England. Further capacity has been created in Derby which will allow Valley to increase its processing volumes in 2024.

A&A, acquired in 2020, has developed its residential business and is now also investing in additional sales management to expand into commercial flooring. The group is near to agreement to relocate A&A into new premises and is progressively benefiting from the Likewise logistics network.

Likewise has established a presence in South Wales by recruiting a team in both residential and commercial flooring to operate from the previously under-utilised distribution centre in Newport with further support of the extensive Likewise product portfolio.

The new Glasgow Distribution Hub is now established, and Likewise operational procedures are being implemented to allow Likewise Scotland to be a key component to the Likewise Logistics Network, while also providing considerably more capacity to increase business in its home Scottish market.

Further investment has been made to develop the management and sales teams in Likewise South East and Likewise London to increase significantly market penetration in these important geographical areas.

Likewise South will now increase its reach by investing in additional sales resource for Bristol and South West England.

Likewise has also invested in the Delta, H&V and Floors by Lewis Abbott Trade Brands during 2023 which have provided limited return currently but are poised to improve their market presence and return on investment during 2024.

Tony Brewer said: “The development of the group reflects the excellent relationship with suppliers and, very importantly, the presence in independent retailers and flooring contractors through the experienced sales teams.

“Likewise has undoubtedly increased market share during 2023 and with capacity in the logistics network developed over the last three years can look forward to further growth in 2024 towards the group’s medium term ambition of £200 million sales revenue.”

Ends (493 words)

Issued on behalf of Likewise Group plc, Unit 4, Radial Park, Birmingham Business Park, Solihull Parkway, Birmingham B37 7YN

For further information, please contact: 

Andy Skinner, at ASAP PR – 07990 978257

Editors’ Notes

Likewise Group plc is a distributor of floorcoverings and mattings established with the intention of consolidating the domestic and commercial floorcoverings markets to become one of the UK’s largest distributors in this sector. The UK floor and wall covering market is worth circa £3.2 billion and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.1% from 2019 to 2024 to reach £3.5 billion, split between the residential, commercial, public and industrial markets. Likewise Group’s strategy is to focus on the residential and commercial sectors.

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Teenager joins dad at Midlands steel specialist as finance apprentice, helped by PTP

School leaver Mia Liggins has become an apprentice in finance at the Midlands steel specialist where her dad works, with the help of Performance Through People (PTP).

Mia has just started her Level 2 Accounts/Finance Assistant apprenticeship with Steel Processing (Midlands) Ltd in Staffordshire, a programme accredited by the Association of Accounting Technicians.

The 18-year-old from Aldridge made the decision to start earning a wage at the same time as continuing her learning when she was due to leave school this summer.

Her dad Nick Liggins is commercial director of Steel Processing (Midlands) Ltd, a privately-owned steel service centre occupying a 50,000 sq ft warehouse in Burntwood.

He explained that the company had long been committed to apprenticeships with the assistance of PTP, and that he was delighted to see Mia starting her new role.

Mr Liggins said: “There are always some reservations about taking on relatives as there is probably more pressure for family members to live up to the standards we set for other employees.

“That said, we are fundamentally a family business and I came into the firm when my father was a director/owner.

“Also, Kevin Haynes – our managing director and owner – currently has his son and daughter in the business which has worked well, so there is no reason why Mia should be any different.

“Ultimately, there was a vacancy arising, the timing was right for her and I trust she will show the desire and appetite to learn the role and become an asset to our business.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to learn in the classroom with the back-up of real-life situations in the workplace, applying learning to practical situations to build your knowledge.”

Mr Liggins added: “I’m more than happy that Mia has decided on this route, as the transition from apprentice to fully-fledged employee should be much easier as she progresses in her career.”

Steel Processing (Midlands) Ltd employs around 45 people and has been working with PTP for more than 20 years to recruit and train its staff.

It supplies around 100,000 tonnes per annum to many market sectors and has built strong relationships with its customers over the last 30 years.

The company has invested around £5 million over the last few years in specialist technology that enables it to offer a one-stop-shop for many of its customers.

Gill Durkin, business executive at PTP, said: “We have worked with Nick and the team for many years, and Nick supported our original Ladder for Staffordshire campaign back in 2016.

“Steel Processing has always punched above their weight and is a great place for apprentices to start and then develop their careers.”

Other former apprentices include Georgia Edwards, aged 23, from Burntwood, who started with the company in 2019 and studied Business Administration Level 2, finishing this in 2020.

Another worker who came through an apprenticeship scheme is Nathan Hitchcock, who has accompanied Mr Liggins to St James’s Palace in London to meet royalty.

Ends (493 words)

For further information, please contact:

Gill Durkin, Business Executive

Tel: 01543 460050, mobile: 07734 814905

Email: gill.durkin@ptp-training.co.uk

Website: www.ptp-training.co.uk

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257.

Note to editors:

PTP Training Ltd has been providing high quality training to companies throughout the Midlands for over 40 years. It has a strong track record of working with employers, with Ofsted commenting that its partnership engagement is ‘outstanding’.

Likewise Group continues growth in challenging conditions with sales up 17.3%

Likewise Group, the fast growing UK floor coverings distributor, has weathered a challenging year to report continuing sales growth in the six months to 30 June 2023.

The board has announced the AIM-listed company will pay its maiden interim dividend of 0.1p on 17 November 2023.

Total sales revenue increased by 17.3% from £56.8 million to £66.6 million, including Likewise-branded sales growth of 23.3%.

Adjusted underlying profit before tax of £0.7 million (H1 2022 – £1.9 million) has principally been affected by the board’s decision to accelerate investment in the business.

Likewise balance sheet continues to be strong with net assets of £38.9 million including four freehold properties valued at £22.3 million and net debt of £2.1 million.

Tony Brewer, chief executive of Birmingham-based Likewise Group, said: “”We have so many opportunities before us as we continue to enlarge the group’s infrastructure which will create additional sales and increased profitability.

“With the original targets before us, Likewise can now focus on creating a much larger business than previously anticipated.”

Positive cash generation from operating activities of £1.68 million has allowed for further investment in property, plant and equipment.

The company has increased the capacity of its distribution network to 15 million cubic feet and has continued to invest in point of sale materials.

Mr Brewer said that strong increases in group revenue over the past four years demonstrated an exponential gain in market share, and the ongoing continuation of logistics and sales infrastructure will facilitate the further winning of increased market share.

Further testimony of the group’s progress is that August was a record month for total revenue which provides confidence entering the traditionally busy Autumn period.

Along with normal business development, Likewise Group has accelerated its logistics capabilities.

The new high bay distribution centre in Glasgow is now operational and the group is in the process of significantly increasing the cutting capacity in Birmingham and Derby, with additional opportunities to now fully utilise the previously dormant distribution centre in Newport.

Likewise has now established a sophisticated logistics network from its distribution centres in Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Newbury, Sudbury and London.

Valley Wholesale Carpets Ltd distributes significant volume from three centres in Erith London, Derby and Newport.

Mr Brewer pointed out that the group is currently using less than 60% of its total processing capacity through its established logistics operations and this headroom could be further increased with relatively small investment and capital expenditure.

Likewise has also announced that, following five successful years implementing the financial infrastructure, reporting procedures and supporting the group’s successful listing on AIM, Roy Povey has chosen to step down from his role as Chief Financial Officer for personal reasons.

He will continue to support the business until his proposed exit in Spring 2024, and he will be replaced in the immediate term by a combination of internal promotions for Ben Ashforth to Head of Financial Accounting and Reporting with Ian Roberts and David Fullard who will be responsible for the Operational Finance team.

Mr Brewer said: “The board wishes Roy well for his future and thanks him for his significant contribution to the group’s development.

“Undoubtedly the most pleasing aspect is that we have recently been able to make announcements whereby individuals who are ‘learning their trade’ have been promoted into senior and middle management positions across our various activities of logistics, IT, sales and finance.

“As Likewise Group continues to expand, it allows hardworking, diligent people the opportunity to fulfil their career aspirations with the group.

“Likewise continues to make significant progress and it is brilliant to see our people progressing their careers and make an increasingly important contribution to the group’s future.”

Ends (611 words)

Issued on behalf of Likewise Group plc, Unit 4, Radial Park, Birmingham Business Park, Solihull Parkway, Birmingham B37 7YN

For further information, please contact:

Andy Skinner, at ASAP PR – 07990 978257

Editors’ Notes

Likewise Group plc is a distributor of floorcoverings and mattings established with the intention of consolidating the domestic and commercial floorcoverings markets to become one of the UK’s largest distributors in this sector. The UK floor and wall covering market is worth circa £3.2 billion and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.1% from 2019 to 2024 to reach £3.5 billion, split between the residential, commercial, public and industrial markets. Likewise Group’s strategy is to focus on the residential and commercial sectors.

Social media 

@LikewisePlc

linkedin.com/company/79711376/

@likewise_group_plc

facebook.com/Likewise-Group-PLC-109865531380022

Black Country engineers join Ladder campaign to recruit welding apprentices

Two engineering businesses are the latest to join the Ladder for the Black Country campaign as they look to recruit five new apprentices.

Lead training provider Performance Through People (PTP) is recruiting for four welding vacancies at European Heathyard Engineering in Brownhills, which supplies the nuclear power industry, and two more for kiln and furnace manufacturer Bricesco, based in Wednesbury.

To support the recruitment programme – and provide an opportunity for anyone local who is considering an apprenticeship in welding – PTP is running a six-week Route to Work programme at its engineering centre in Walsall.

Kevin Newell, the project manager at PTP Training working with the two companies, said: “There is a high demand for skilled welders in the Black Country but also for fabrication skills.

“This course will provide applicants with a grounding in both skill sets and follows consultation with both employers. We work closely with recruiting companies to ensure they can find recruits with the right attitudes and aptitudes.

“Here at PTP we are also ensuring that these new recruits will fill the needs of the engineering businesses we work with, as well as providing opportunities for applicants to launch themselves into new careers, learning skills while being paid a wage.

“Ensuring the right fit between company and recruit is vital to the success of any apprenticeship. For example, European Heathyard needs to find candidates with a particular approach, combining a positive attitude to persistence and precision.

“Welding in the nuclear industry is an especially delicate and accurate job – there are very narrow margins of error. As a result, the company has very particular needs when it comes to recruiting apprentices.

“Here at PTP we recognise these needs and have already helped recruit a previous apprentice at European Heathyard who is make excellent progress.”

Both Bricesco and European Heathyard are recruiting due to expansion, so both employers are providing an ideal opportunity for the right candidates.

Gill Durkin, business executive at PTP added: “Both businesses want to recruit apprentices who wish to learn new skills, be rewarded for a good day’s work and grow with them.”

The six-week welding course is fully funded for any West Midlands resident aged 19 years or over who is not in employment, education or training.

The course will provide English, maths and digital support where required, pre-employment training to give the applicant the best chance of securing the job, training in the principles of MIG & TIG welding, health and safety, crane handling, safe use of grinders and cutters, basic understanding of Computer Aided Design, understanding drawing and diagrams, measuring and marking out.

As part of the process both employers are offering hands-on work experience where the applicant can shadow experienced welders whilst being mentored in the workplace. Any interested parties should email apprenticeships@ladderforblackcountry.co.uk or call 01922 651100.

Ends (466 words)

For further information, please contact:

Gill Durkin, Business Executive

Tel: 01543 460050, mobile: 07734 814905

Email: gill.durkin@ptp-training.co.uk

Website: www.ptp-training.co.uk

PTP Training, Essex Terrace, In-Town, Walsall, West Midlands, WS1 1SQ.

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257.

Note to editors:

Performance Through People (PTP Training) is one of the leading providers of workplace training and apprenticeships in the West Midlands. PTP supports employers, individuals and communities offering local solutions with national coverage. It delivers apprenticeships, bespoke commercial courses and a range of government funded training programmes to suit the needs of our customers, whoever they may be.

How apprenticeships make sense for businesse

The benefits for companies of taking on apprentices have been highlighted by the Ladder for Staffordshire.

Kevin Davis, chairman of the Ladder, explained how with schools now closed and with some school leavers undecided about what to do next, the marketplace is vibrant for offering apprenticeships.

Mr Davis said: “Taking on an apprentice comes with plenty of exciting benefits for businesses and can help them to fill skills gaps.

“There are a huge variety of standards to choose from, each designed to set out the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for an occupation.

“This means they’re responsive to the wants and needs of organisations – both now and in the future.

“Apprenticeships aren’t only suitable for bringing in new employees – they are also ideal to help businesses to upskill or retrain existing employees, of any age, and at any level.”

Mr Davis said that apprenticeships are available from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) right through to Levels 6 and 7 (equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree), and some may also offer additional professional qualifications, such as Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

He added: “The important thing is that the apprentice will develop new skills to help them succeed in their chosen occupation.”

One example of a successful apprentice is Charlie Dance, who initially joined Valyou Recruitment, a firm based in Burntwood, Staffordshire, that specialises in the construction industry, on a Kickstart programme in November 2021.

He did so well that he was taken on as a trainee payroll administrator in March 2022, and started a Level 2 Accountancy apprenticeship alongside that role in September.

Charlie, aged 23 and from Burntwood, was helped on his apprenticeship by Performance Through People (PTP).

He said: “When the option to do a Level 2 Accountancy apprenticeship at Valyou arose, I jumped at the opportunity.

“I am handling invoicing and payroll to make sure that our workers are paid correctly and on time, plus I work on our internal database, finding ways to efficiently present and find information as well as keeping it up to date and relevant.

“So far it’s been the perfect blend between on-the-job experience and in-class learning, and being able to see the progress I’ve made since I started is really encouraging.”

Jason Challoner, managing director of Valyou, added: “Charlie is doing really well in his role and has definitely benefited from his apprenticeship, supported by PTP.”

Results for the 2022/23 year show that under 19s accounted for 24.8% of the overall number of people starting their apprenticeships.

Advanced apprenticeships accounted for 43.2% of starts (119,170) whilst higher apprenticeships accounted for 34% of starts (93,970), a 6.1% increase on the previous year.

Whether you are an employer or an individual, anyone still undecided should visit www.ladderforstaffordshire.co.uk or email apprenticeships@ladderforstaffordshire.co.uk.

Ends (457 words)

For further information, please contact:

Gill Durkin, Ladder for Staffordshire Manager

Email: apprenticeships@ladderforstaffordshire.co.uk

Website: www.ladderforstaffordshire.co.uk

Tel: 01543 460050, mobile: 07734 814905

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257.

More than 40 jobs created by BCTG’s customer service ‘bootcamp’ with Firstsource

A customer service “bootcamp” run by Midlands training experts BCTG has resulted in more than 40 full-time jobs at banking business process specialist Firstsource.

BCTG ran its first “bootcamp” with Firstsource last summer, giving unemployed participants an introduction to the banking sector and a short course on how to deliver excellent customer service.

The session resulted in a work-based experience session, plus guaranteed interviews for full-time roles located at Firstsource’s site in Birmingham city centre.

Steve Burnet, business development lead coordinator at BCTG, explained that more than 70 jobseekers took part in the bootcamp, and that Firstsource offered over 60% of them full-time contracts.

Mr Burnet said: “The project proved to be a big success and has resulted in more than 40 of those who took part landing full-time jobs with Firstsource.

“As the course was open to anyone who was socially inactive and over the age of 19, we were able to attract a rich, diverse selection of candidates.”

One of the jobseekers who attended the bootcamp and then ended up with a full-time job was Morgan Street, of Kings Norton, Birmingham.

Morgan, aged 21, was unemployed and had been unsure about his future career when he attended a BCTG open day looking for possible apprenticeship opportunities.

After a chat with a BCTG advisor, Morgan was introduced to the Firstsource bootcamp and decided to see if his existing skills matched a role in the banking sector.

Mr Burnet said: “Morgan was initially a little fazed, given he had no prior working experience, but soon grew in confidence during the programme and headed into his interview in a buoyant mood.

“He gave an excellent interview, using the skills and techniques he had developed with BCTG and impressed Firstsource enough to be offered a role as a customer service agent last August.

“Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, and we understand he has become a key part of the team.”

Morgan himself said: “When I completed the Firstsource bootcamp, I learned a lot of useful skills and gained knowledge that would help me in a position as a customer service advisor.

“During my first eight months as a customer service advisor I have learnt to use my listening skills actively, and adapt to each customer’s query to give them the best outcome.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far at Firstsource and feel my experience there will strongly benefit my future.”

Jo Dunn, business skills curriculum lead at BCTG, added: “All the learners were grateful for the opportunity to explore new avenues and increase their knowledge ready for employment.

“They liked the support that we gave and the opportunity to work as a team, enjoying the interaction within the group and sharing experiences.

“They felt they learnt a lot and were more prepared to enter or re-enter the world of work and that the guaranteed interviews gave them a real advantage.

“They also liked having a structure again, felt that they were doing something worthwhile and had access to roles that would otherwise have been unattainable for those with no banking or customer service experience.”

Ends (517 words)

For further information, please contact:

Chris Luty, Chairman,

BCTG Group, European Business Park, Taylors Lane, Oldbury, B69 2BN. Tel: 0121 544 6455

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner, ASAP PR – 07990 978257

Note to editors:

BCTG Group is a West Midlands-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

The group has ten sites in Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and includes PTP Training, trading as Performance Through People, BCTG Ltd, Eurosource Solutions, Further Training and The Apprenticeship Works.

The group offers 166 different types of apprenticeship, 84 different adult upskilling and reskilling courses and 27 pre-apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds. These include everything from healthcare and early years care to construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistics, through to business skills in IT, management and team leading.

Expanding computer online retailer enrols staff onto new training programmes with PTP

More than a dozen staff at an expanding computer and gaming online retailer are attending new upskilling workshops leading to apprenticeships with Midland training experts Performance Through People (PTP).

Overclockers UK, based in Stoke-on-Trent, is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of PCs, hardware, components and accessories for customers across the UK, as well as supplying globally.

The company has recently relocated into larger 100,000 sq ft premises in Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramic valley, and the training investment has been agreed as part of its continuing growth.

Tracey Boulton is programme leader at PTP, part of the BCTG Group, and is based at the training firm’s offices in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

She explained that 13 staff from Overclockers were already booked onto workshops that would result in Certificates in Principles of Customer Services and Principles of Team Leading.

Ms Boulton said: “We are already discussing the potential progression of staff from the first course onto Customer Service L3 apprenticeships.

“Once the team leading workshops are held, we will also be discussing more progressions to Team Leading/Supervisor L3 and Departmental/Operational Management L5 apprenticeships.”

Melanie Taylor, senior HR and office manager at Overclockers, explained that the company’s relocation to Shelton Boulevard was a symbol of the investment being made back into the business and its colleagues.

She said this had already resulted in the first batch of Overclockers’ technicians and customer support staff completing the Customer Services certificate, which will now benefit customers seeking technical support and sales advice.

Ms Taylor said: “We are providing a modern workplace and facilities with the space to improve the service we offer, enabling us to grow quickly.

“We are also making investments into future growth through education and training, by partnering with PTP to upskill colleagues and find new ways of working to bring even more value to customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

“We’re delighted with the support that PTP has already provided and look forward to developing the workshops that will see many of our staff enrolling onto formal apprenticeship programmes.”

Ends (333 words)

For further information, please contact:

Gill Durkin, Business Executive

Phone: 01543 460050  Mobile: 07734 814905

Email: gill@ptp-training.co.uk

www.ptp-training.co.uk

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257. 

Note to editors:

PTP Training Ltd is part of the BCTG Group, a West Midlands-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

The group has ten sites in Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and also includes The Apprenticeship Works, BCTG Ltd, Eurosource Solutions and Further Training.

Overall, the group offers 166 different types of apprenticeship, 84 different adult upskilling and reskilling courses and 27 pre-apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds. These include everything from healthcare and early years care to construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistics, through to business skills in IT, management and team leading.

Care provider wins new Adult Learner Award, thanks to support from BCTG

A Black Country care provider supported by training group BCTG has won one of the first Adult Learning Awards from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

LJM, based in Brierley Hill, delivers care packages for around 300 individuals in the local community, with services ranging from shopping to dispensing medication.

The company picked up its trophy on Thursday 18 May at the inaugural Adult Learning Awards, which showcased the impact of WMCA-funded adult learning, skills and training courses.

BCTG has worked alongside LJM for the past two years and has successfully delivered 25 Adult Care Diplomas at Levels 2 and 3.

BCTG also ran its first pre-apprenticeship ‘bootcamp’ with LJM, which gave unemployed participants an introduction to the care sector, a short course on care delivery and a work-based experience week, with guaranteed interviews for full-time Level 3 apprenticeships.

Steve Burnet, business development lead coordinator at BCTG, said: “LJM fully deserves this award, as they pride themselves on outstanding customer and client services and are incredibly focused on developing staff within the business.

“We nominated LJM on the back of the tremendous service they provide to the community, as their staff are very passionate about providing the best care service possible and the general welfare of everyone they look after.

“By administrating medication, doing health checks and the like, LJM reduce the need for their service users to contact local GPs, thus reducing the strain on the NHS.

“In times where perhaps the care sector has had its fair share of negative press, it’s very refreshing to see such a people-first focused employer.”

Samantha Little, care manager at LJM, said: “We’re thrilled to have received this award and want to say a big thank you to everyone at BCTG who have supported us in developing the skills of our staff.”

The Adult Learning Awards took place at Conference Aston in Birmingham where Andy Street, the elected mayor of the West Midlands, presented the awards.

The event was hosted by Nicholas Bailey, the Birmingham-born actor, research fellow, writer and coach, best known for playing the role of local GP Dr Anthony Trueman in BBC’s Eastenders from 2000 to 2005.

The awards have been developed in partnership with the Learning and Work Institute.

Ends (373 words)

For further information, please contact:

Rachel Highway

Design & Marketing Co-ordinator, BCTG Group

0121 824 4065

07801 573 623

rachel.highway@bctg.org.uk

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257.

Note to editors:

The BCTG Group is a West Midlands-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

The group has ten sites in Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and also includes PTP Training Ltd, BCTG Ltd, The Apprenticeship Works, Eurosource Solutions and Further Training.

Overall, the group offers 166 different types of apprenticeship, 84 different adult upskilling and reskilling courses and 27 pre-apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds. These include everything from healthcare and early years care to construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistics, through to business skills in IT, management and team leading.

Crowe event highlights £1 billion in HS2 opportunities for West Midlands businesses

West Midlands businesses have been urged to seize the opportunity of £1 billion of HS2 contracts that are coming up for grabs this year, at a round table event hosted by national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe.

At the same time Johnathan Dudley, Crowe’s Midlands and South West Managing Partner and  National Head of Manufacturing, urged the HS2 partnership to use the railway scheme as a platform to revive the UK’s traditional railway engineering industry.

Representatives from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), HS2 construction partner Balfour Beatty Vinci and Birmingham Chamber met with a select group of business leaders at Crowe’s offices at Black Country House in Oldbury.

They outlined the opportunities the rail project offered business, with £1.7 billion in contracts already awarded to West Midlands companies, with another £1 billion of civil engineering contracts due to be awarded by the end of this year.

Businesses were urged to use the HS2 Supply Chain School and online platforms such as CompeteFor to find out how they could win work on the high speed rail scheme.

But Craig Wakeman, Head of Transport Implementation at the Combined Authority, and Matt Munn, Head of Supply Chain Management at Balfour Beatty Vinci, said they were also there to listen.

They encouraged companies to talk about the challenges and issues they had faced trying to secure HS2 contracts, leading to a lively discussion.

Steve Morley, President of the West Bromwich-based Confederation of British Metalforming, said an initial attempt to engage with HS2 by his 200-strong membership two years ago had been “a nightmare”.

Craig Wakeman said this highlighted a “timing issue” – many manufacturers wanted work on the railtrack system and rolling stock contracts, and HS2 plans to issue an update when more information becomes available.

The HS2 team said they would now press for the release of a Gantt chart, which would detail the project’s schedule of procurement from construction through to track and train delivery, giving companies a better idea of when to bid for contracts.

Matt Munn also said the meeting had raised issues over effective communication surrounding information on “meet the buyer” and other HS2 events.

Geoff Archenhold, CEO of Lichfield-based Integrated System Technologies, urged the HS2 design team to engage with small and medium-sized companies at an early stage, saying they could offer levels of innovation often 20 years ahead of general industry thinking.

Craig Wakeman added: “We have always believed that HS2 can bring regeneration and long term economic benefits to the West Midlands, which is why we have adopted the line: ‘Beyond Building a Railway’.

These benefits could continue decades into the future but needed schools to start encouraging more young people to consider engineering as a career.

And he urged businesses in the room to support the establishment of a HS2 Strategic Supply Chain Panel to secure long term benefits for the region.

Johnathan Dudley said: “There are still railway carriages built in Birmingham, in use across the world, today. HS2 provides a golden opportunity to re-establish the British rail industry and its supply chain.

“We are already seeing remarkable work in Dudley and Coventry in the field of very light rail. It’s time to reclaim heavy rail as well. This is a real opportunity to inspire innovation and generate engineering expertise for generations to come. Indeed, much more than ‘building a railway’.

He added: “This round table event has been more successful that we could have hoped, providing a platform for real debate and exchange of views and producing solid results that will benefit both local companies and HS2.

“It proves the value of meeting face-to-face, when both sides come with a positive attitude, prepared to express frank opinions and listen with open minds.

“As a result, we are looking at repeating it in a few months’ time, with a view to making it a regular event on the business calendar.”

Ends (649 words)

Contacts:

  • Miriam Sherwood, Director, People Communications & Marketing, Crowe UK. Tel: (0)121 543 1900, sherwood@crowe.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

About us
Crowe is a national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm offering global reach and local expertise. We are an independent member of Crowe Global, one of the top 10 accounting networks in the world. With exceptional knowledge of the business environment, our professionals share one commitment, to deliver excellence.

We are trusted by thousands of clients for our specialist advice, our ability to make smart decisions and our readiness to provide lasting value. Our broad technical expertise and deep market knowledge means we are well placed to offer insight and pragmatic advice to all the organisations and individuals with whom we work. Close working relationships are at the heart of our effective service delivery.

For more information, visit: www.crowe.co.uk

Crowe industry recognition

  • UK Member of one of the top 10 accounting networks in the world (International Accounting Bulletin World Survey 2022)
  • Top charity auditor for 14 consecutive years (Charity Financials Auditor Benchmarking and Charity Finance Audit Survey, 2009 – 2022)
  • Awarded Silver in the 2022 Citywealth Brand Management and Reputation awards – Best Overall Marketing Campaign category for Your Life Builder
  • Awarded Silver in the 2022 Citywealth Magic Circle awards
  • Ranked 5th in the AIM auditors ranking by number of audits (AIM Advisers Rankings Guide, January 2022)
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Disabled fitness company expands with two apprentices, helped by PTP

Two apprentices are helping a disabled fitness company’s expansion of its production and sales of a revolutionary wheelchair treadmill, thanks to Midland training experts Performance Through People (PTP).

Invictus Active, based in Four Ashes, Wolverhampton, was set up by Scott Smith and Paul Cooksey, who are both full-time wheelchair users following spinal cord injuries.

Launched in 2015, the company is now focusing on the market growth of its Invictus Active Trainer, a lightweight, portable fitness machine, similar to a treadmill, which helps wheelchair users to get fit.

With the help of PTP, Invictus Active has recruited Kenzy Wilkins, aged 16, from Wolverhampton, on a Lean Manufacturing Level 2 Apprenticeship, and Michael Hogg, aged 22, of Wombourne, on a Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship.

Mr Smith, co-founder of Invictus Active, said: “The recruitment went really well thanks to PTP who screened all the applicants so that we had a good list of suitable people for interview.

“Kenzy started with us in December and is already helping with our development of the warehousing and assembly operations.

“Michael joined us in March to assist with the expansion of our administration and sales, and is quickly picking up the basics of the job.”

Invictus Active supplies many disability products across the world, as well as providing online wheelchair fitness sessions, with the aim of enabling anyone to be as fit and active as possible.

The Invictus Active Trainer has sold more than 1,000 since its launch, and the company is now developing links with gyms and international dealers to accelerate its growth.

Mr Smith added: “The trainer has proved itself as a crucial, life-changing piece of equipment to help wheelchair users who are not fit but want to get fit.

“It’s been used in many situations, from the home to hospitals, and the results it gets are amazing.”

Invictus Active received grants from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business campaign to recruit the two apprentices who have expanded the company’s workforce to six.

Gill Durkin, business executive with PTP, which is part of the BCTG Group, said: “We’ve really enjoyed working with Invictus Active, which is a fascinating company with a growing reputation for assisting wheelchair users with their unique products.

“We were successful in helping them find the apprentices they needed for their expansion and we’ve already heard good reports on their progress.”

Anyone interested in Invictus Active’s products and services can find out more by visiting wwww.invictusactive.com.

Ends (405 words)

For further information, please contact:

Gill Durkin, Business Executive

Phone: 01543 460050  Mobile: 07734 814905

Email: gill@ptp-training.co.uk

www.ptp-training.co.uk

Prepared and issued by ASAP PR – 07990 978257.

Note to editors:

PTP Training Ltd is part of the BCTG Group, a West Midlands-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

The group has ten sites in Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and also includes The Apprenticeship Works, BCTG Ltd, Eurosource Solutions and Further Training.

Overall, the group offers 166 different types of apprenticeship, 84 different adult upskilling and reskilling courses and 27 pre-apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds. These include everything from healthcare and early years care to construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistics, through to business skills in IT, management and team leading.