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Logicor secures its largest UK letting in Tamworth

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Logicor has secured a deal with XPO Supply Chain UK Ltd (XPO) to take a new long-term lease on 645,000 sqft (59,920 sqm) at Bonehill Road, Tamworth, its largest UK letting to date.

The site previously housed a combined 595,000 sqft (55,277 sqm) warehouse unit, split into three bays. The middle unit will be redeveloped, raising the eaves height and adding an extra 50,000 sqft (4,645 sqm) of Grade A warehouse space to accommodate XPO’s new business contracts.

Works are due to complete in January 2018.

XPO has secured a new distribution agreement with Premier Foods and the deal will see the company move its multi-site warehousing operations to the Tamworth facility.

XPO expects to manage throughput of approximately two million pallets per year at the dedicated centre, which has the capacity for 80,000 pallets and will be fully operational from mid-2018 following a phased transition programme.

The facility will employ around 170 workers and be equipped with XPO’s state-of-the-art warehouse management system.

Charlie Howard, Logicor’s Managing Director, UK, comments: “We are delighted to conclude our largest UK letting, building on our strong relationship with XPO. This was a complex deal, with a number of parties involved, facilitated by working closely with our customer to accommodate their requirements.”

Make It team exceeds jobs target

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Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s inward investment team – responsible for attracting new business to the area and helping existing firms expand – exceeded its jobs target for the last financial year.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said that the focus remained on a drive towards the creation of better paid, better skilled jobs – with the inward investment team playing a major part.

In 2016/17, the Make It team had a target of supporting the creation of or safeguarding 2,000 jobs across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Its final figure was 2,138 jobs, with 20 companies supported. Successes have included securing Spanish automotive supplier Gestamp’s relocation to the Bericote site in South Staffordshire, communication solutions specialist Ascom Wireless relocating to Lichfield and WaterPlus to Stoke-on-Trent.

Mark Winnington said: “It is pleasing to see our inward investment team exceeding its job target and demonstrates the strength of the local economy. We have seen some real inward investment successes over the last 12 months and in our key industry sectors. This ultimately means more and better paid jobs for Staffordshire people and in turn builds on the confidence we have to attract further investment.”

Make It Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire covers the local enterprise partnership area of both county and city.

Fast-growth Staffordshire companies contribute £1.59bn in revenues

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  • Top 50 companies generate £1.59bn in revenues, up 36% on previous year
  • Palletforce lead the way for growth in the region
  • Burton-on-Trent comes in top as the district with the highest average growth

The fastest growing companies in Staffordshire have contributed £1.59bn in revenues, a 36% increase from the previous year, according to the Staffordshire Growth Barometer published today by accountancy and advisory firm BDO LLP.

The top 50 list of fast-growth companies is measured on average turnover growth. In addition, the report also identifies which sectors have experienced the largest increase in job creation along with which districts in the Staffordshire region have seen the highest amount of turnover growth.

Logistics firm Palletforce takes the top spot with an impressive 237% average growth rate over the last three years. This significant growth has led to transport and logistics being identified as the fastest growing sector in the region with a 131% growth in turnover, closely followed by utilities (125%) and real estate and construction (60%).

Leading the way in job creation is the utilities sector, which has seen a 54% increase in jobs over the past three years; largely due to the growth of Stoke-based utilities firm Water Plus.

Staffordshire is a region with a strong manufacturing heritage with a number of manufacturers listed in the top 50, including George Koch Sons, Wacker Neuson and AWS Electronics.

BDO’s report also identifies biotechnology as an emerging sector, with an average growth in turnover of 37%.

Peter Coleman, CEO of Cobra Biologics Limited, was interviewed as part of the report and has said that he would “love it if Staffordshire could become a centre of excellence for the biotech field in the future”.

Commenting on Cobra’s success, he said: “Working closely with Keele University has really helped us with our growth. We’ve also had assistance from the Local Enterprise Partnership, which has encouraged us to apply for a number of grants in order to expand further.”

Mr Coleman also spoke of the importance of raising the area’s profile to boost business

“If Stoke-on-Trent won the City of Culture Bid for 2021, the profile of the area would be massively enhanced, making it a more exciting place to live and work. Anything that raises the profile of this region has to be good for business,” he said.

The report illustrates the growth of different districts within Staffordshire, and whilst Burton-on-Trent is leading the way with an 88% average revenue increase, there is also significant growth in Cannock (49%) and Stoke-on-Trent (42%).

David Pooler, Partner at BDO and Head of the Staffordshire Team, is pleased to have seen such a positive outlook for the local economy.

“Our top 50 list demonstrates not only an optimistic future for the Staffordshire economy, but also illustrates just how varied the region is in terms of industry.

“It is promising to see growth in such a wide geographic area, including traditional industrial centres such as Stoke-on-Trent as well as in relatively ‘upcoming’ areas such as Lichfield and Cannock.”

He adds: “Having spoken to business leaders and influencers within the region, it is clear there are certain challenges being faced, particularly that of skills and education. However, it is great to see the ongoing work of Staffordshire and Keele University, as well as the LEP which are all striving to support businesses in Staffordshire.”

Backing for business to transform rural buildings in Staffordshire into industry hubs

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Vacant buildings could be transformed into thriving business hubs for small and medium sized enterprises thanks to a new initiative launched this week.

The Rural Enterprise Programme will make grants of between £10,000 and £65,000 available to businesses that can demonstrate they will create jobs as a result of a move to the refurbished building. Grants are also available to property owners with a business lined up to occupy their premise. Businesses and property owners will need to match fund any grant. The initiative is being coordinated by Staffordshire County Council.

Properties will need to be converted for manufacturing, creative or service industry use. The funding can be used for works to build or refurbish workspaces, build extensions, installation of services, access works, car parking and landscaping works needed for planning permission. Properties in all areas of Staffordshire are available, including the county’s towns.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said: “It remains a top priority of the county council is to continue to support job creation, particularly better paid, better skilled jobs. The Rural Enterprise Programme is an addition to our package of support for small businesses, helping them to expand and create jobs. It will also add incentive to Staffordshire businesses to utilise existing buildings and further grow the county’s economy.”

Grants are not available for retail, agriculture, tourism or residential end uses. Funding for the scheme has come from the European Regional Development Fund.

Anyone wanting to find out more should visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/REP call 01785 277400 or email REP@staffordshire.gov.uk

Mill Green Designer Outlet Village Cannock Sold

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U+I, the owner of Mill Green Designer Outlet Village in Cannock has sold the development prior to any work commencing on site. A consortium consisting of Aviva, the Richardson family and McArthurGlen have signed a deal which will result in the partnership bringing £120 million to the development. U+I and its development partner Rioja Developments will remain as an investor in the project.

50 Jobs at Cobra Biologics

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Keele based Cobra Biologics has announced a £15 million investment requiring a further 50 staff.  The company globally employs 250 staff of which 85 are currently based at their Keele University Science and Innovation Park facility.

CEO Peter Coleman said: “Over the last few years we’ve seen a massive boom in organisations turning their attentions to gene therapy.

“There’s a lot of hype around it and we’re seeing that there is a tremendous rush by our customers to get products on the market – so there’s a massive demand for our services.

“At the Keele site, we have seen demand grow significantly – in terms of order numbers and revenue – by more than eight times in just the last two or three years.

“We are one of just a handful of companies in the world doing what we do and we have a good reputation as a trusted company.”

Mr. Coleman further commented: “We have been doing this for more than 20 years so this investment will help us to stay at the forefront of this exciting field. We are committed to investing for both present day needs and for the future at this extraordinary time in the history of gene therapy, when so many new and potentially life-changing medicines are in the pipeline.”

International Trade Minister Greg Hands welcomed the news. He said: “This new investment by Cobra Biologics is another boost for UK life sciences, creating high-skilled jobs in Keele as the company expands its operations.

“It comes as global demand for gene therapy manufacturing is surging, helping to put the UK at the forefront of developing revolutionary disease therapies and new treatments to be exported around the world.”

Construction of New Student Accommodation in Hartshill Gathering Pace

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Further evidence of Stoke’s continuing economic development comes with the announcement of the construction of Q Studios – a new 300-studio student property in the Hartshill area of the city.

Adjacent to Stoke’s rejuvenated University Quarter and Staffordshire University’s main campus, the 1.5-acre site on North Street has already been cleared and work on the foundations is scheduled to commence later this month. Forty local jobs will be created during the build.

The arrival of this £14 million development is welcome news, with Staffordshire University centralising operations in the city and Keele currently one of the fastest growing universities in the country. This brings with it increased student housing requirements and explains why Q Studios has already won the backing of university officials.

It also ties in with the long-term strategy of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire University and Keele University to attract 17,000 more students to this thriving student city over the next decade.

Construction is being carried out by Alpha Homes – an NHBC-accredited commercial property developer. Established in 2001, they have successfully brought 15 purpose built student properties into operation in locations that include Durham, Leicester, Loughborough and Bradford.

Once completed, in September 2018, Q Studios will be managed by Mezzino, who will install a ten-strong team to manage the development on a day-to-day basis.

Mezzino are a specialist student property management company, with a portfolio of 1,800 beds throughout the country – collecting more than £9 million in gross rents each year.

Q Studios will be the first all-studio development of its kind in Stoke. Each apartment will boast a private en-suite bathroom and open plan living space – with both social and study areas, as well as a double bed and fully-equipped kitchen.

Resident facilities will also include a cinema, gym and study centre, alongside off-road parking, bike storage and a laundry room.

This development is further evidence of Stoke’s appeal to investors.

The city is recognised by global forecasting experts Oxford Economics as having had the second fastest growing local economy over the last five years, with growth since 2010 sitting at nearly six times the national average.

More broadly, the West Midlands attracts the most investment of any region outside London.

Much of Stoke’s success can be put down to the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, which is recognised by fDi magazine as a top three local enterprise partnership for attracting inward investment.

James Harrington, Business Development Manager for Emerging Property – Q Studios’ exclusive marketing agents – said:

“Stoke-on-Trent has all the characteristics we look for in a student property investment location. It has two large and well-respected universities, and widespread investment initiatives are forever increasing the city’s appeal as a student destination.

“The poor standard of current stock and nominal supply pipeline make the city ill-equipped to meet fast growing demand, and we look forward to our development being welcomed by students and local residents, as well as by the universities themselves.”

Councillor Jack Brereton, cabinet member for regeneration and transport at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “It is fantastic to see Stoke town, the University Quarter and our city as a whole undergoing significant regeneration.

“Staffordshire University is expanding to be wholly based in the city with around 3,000 more students and staff, which will give a real boost to our economy and local businesses. We need additional, good quality student accommodation to meet this demand and it’s great to see the private sector showing such confidence in our city with developments like this coming forward”

Transport vision maps out a better connected city

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A transport vision that will make Stoke-on-Trent a better connected city by linking the local economy, environment and health issues is being developed.

The ‘Transport Vision’ maps out future road, rail and bus connectivity in a way that will support the city’s continued growth.

It builds on multi-million pound investment by the city council through its capital programme that is already seeing £20.44m pumped into improving roads across the city over the next five years including £10.1m on repairs, £7.8m on energy efficient street lighting, and £3.3m on flood prevention works. The council has also set aside £8.3m for public transport and road safety improvements.

The vision includes:

  • Creating the UK’s first ‘smart’ trunk roads on the A500 and A50 to complement an upgraded ‘smart’ M6 between junctions 15 and 16, with greater capacity at junction 15.
  • Working with the government and rail providers to develop a fully connected HS2 station in the city – putting London under an hour away; direct rail connectivity to Manchester and Birmingham airports and redoubled tracks between Alsager and Crewe to increase connectivity between Stoke and Crewe.
  • Improved local rail services, with at least two trains per hour to all existing stations between Crewe and Stoke, and Stafford and Stoke.
  • Remodelling the Cobridge traffic lights road junction, with widening of both the A50 and A53 to increase capacity.
  • Continuing work on the £38m Etruria Valley link road which will open up new development land and provide additional direct connections into the city centre from the A500.
  • Continuing the £10.2m further upgrade of public areas in the city centre to improve paving and landscaping.
  • A £16m link road connecting the city centre to the expanding south east of the city.
  • A £4.5m programme to improve connectivity around Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent Station.
  • Working with partners to operate newer, cleaner buses, with more electric hybrid vehicles.
  • Easier and quicker bus fares with contactless, mobile and web-based payment options.
  • Developing mobile bus timetable and service information.
  • Better integration of fares and services between bus and rail routes.

Work on the vision is being developed with a wide range of partners and funding bodies including the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Highways England, Midlands Connect and other transport providers.

The vision will be put before the council’s cabinet on 16 May for consideration.

Councillor Jack Brereton, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming the development of this important document and proposing it to cabinet. The transport vision will build on our multi-million pound capital investment and create the clear direction for further investment to better connect our city.

“This is about ensuring we have the transport we need to support more jobs and increased homes in Stoke-on-Trent. The document sets clear goals to work with government and key partners in transport such as Network Rail and Highways England to improve our transport infrastructure.

“Traffic flow is a big issue and this document is about helping to address congestion and improve both our road and rail connectivity. Better connecting all of our communities, opening up new opportunities for people to access jobs and improve quality of life.

“We don’t have enough local rail connectivity so we need to improve services and connect more places to Stoke-on-Trent. But also it’s about our bus network and our sustainable transport – in line with the national cycling and walking investment strategy – looking at how we can ensure the city is much more effectively connected throughout the entire area so that we can prosper as a city in the future.”

XPO Logistics Chooses Tamworth

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It is reported that XPO Logistics has signed a lease on Tamworth 594.

The present tenants, Hermes Parcelnet and Euro Car Parts will be vacating the property and moving to a nearby scheme. In order to meet XPO’s requirement for a 645,000 sq. ft. logistics hub, the site owner, Logicor, plans to extend the building by a further 50,000 sq. ft.

Staffordshire Housing Association Wins Queen’s Award

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One of the first recipients of the new Queen’s Award for Promoting Opportunities has been achieved by Aspire Housing.

Aspire Housing, a housing association based in Staffordshire received their award due to their work in addressing social disadvantage and supporting local communities to maximise their potential.

Sinéad Butters, chief executive at Aspire Housing, said: “We are passionate about making a difference in our region, in our neighbourhoods and to people’s lives.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background. Our role is to assist them through provision of quality housing, employment and training and support.

“It is an honour to be among the first recipients in the promoting opportunity category and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues who make such a difference in our communities.”

The award, which is equivalent to an MBE for businesses, will be presented to Ms Butters at a Buckingham Palace reception later this year.

It will be her second visit to the palace, having previously received an MBE from the Queen in 2016.

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