Record Year for Polypipe

Listed piping system manufacturer Polypipe Group has reported a record performance in 2015, pushing revenues past the £350m mark and underlying pre-tax profit close to £50m.

Revenue for the year to 31 December 2015 increased by 7.9 per cent to £352.9m, an improvement which Polypipe said had been driven by a strategic focus on structural growth opportunities and the continuing recovery in the UK construction market.

Complementary acquisitions, including the £144.3m purchase of Nuaire in August 2015, also boosted performance.

“2015 was a record performance and another year of excellent progress for the group,” said chief executive David Hall. “The acquisition of Nuaire was an important step in our strategic development and our growth initiatives continued to deliver.

“I am delighted to report such a strong performance since our IPO in April 2014, with underlying operating profit growth of 36.5 per cent over the last two years.

“While there are economic and political uncertainties, 2016 has started well and the board is confident that the market fundamentals in our main UK market remain positive and that we are pursuing a sound strategy for the future development of the business”.

Source: Laurence Kilgannon, Insider Media, 31 March 2016

Tata Steel – Government Announcement


The government is considering providing financial support for Tata Steel’s UK steel operations to allow more time to find a buyer that will safeguard thousands of jobs.

Business minister Anna Soubry said ministers were considering “all options” following the Indian-owned company’s decision to sell off its UK assets.

This could include “holding” the plants under public ownership until a deal can be reached.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Soubry said: “We are, and have, and continue to look at, all options and I do mean all options.”

However, she stressed that the UK had to work within EU rules over state aid. But Soubry added: “We want enough time to be able to secure a buyer.”

The planned disposal affects Tata’s steelmaking plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, as well as sites in Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.

A statement from the company said: “Given the severity of the funding requirement in the foreseeable future, the Tata Steel Europe Board will be advised to evaluate and implement the most feasible option in a time-bound manner.”

Tata, which bought Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus in 2007, blamed high manufacturing costs, market weakness and increased imports into Europe from countries like China for the decision.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of steelworkers’ union Community, has called for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said: “The UK is now on the verge of a national crisis. Tata Steel withdrawing completely from the UK risks destroying our entire steel industry. That would be a disaster both for those communities reliant on steel jobs and our entire industrial base.

“For any advanced, manufacturing economy, steelmaking capacity is not optional. Losing the ability to make steel would fundamentally change our economy forever.”

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, has already requested to recall the Welsh Assembly for crisis talks on the future of steelmaking in Wales.

Source: David Casey, Insider Media, 30 March 2016

Manufacturers braced for skills crunch – EEF

Almost three quarters of manufacturers have faced difficulties when attempting to recruit skilled staff, with the situation expected to worsen over the next three years, a new report by industry organisation EEF has revealed.

The report found 73 per cent of respondents had struggled to hire skilled workers since 2013, with 64 per cent stating they had received an insufficient number of applications to fill roles.

EEF members also revealed that they are expecting the situation to worsen over the coming three years. During that time, six in ten companies expect to need more staff in leadership and production-related skilled roles.

Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy at EEF, said: “Despite multiple warnings about the UK’s yawning skills gap, the dial hasn’t moved since 2012. Manufacturers continue to struggle to find the right people with the right skills – undoubtedly this has led to lost opportunities for employers, would-be employees and the UK economy.

“Had manufacturers not already been taking action we would arguably already be over the cliff-edge and not just approaching it. But this report contains a clear warning – we are just about treading water today and the struggle is only going to get harder.”

Thomas also called for the government to “match the ambitions of industry”.

“Policies must help, not hinder firms,” he added. “They should provide support, rather than hitting employers with additional costs that could potentially hold them back. Above all, an April 2017 start date for the apprenticeship levy is looking increasingly ambitious.

“A patched and piecemeal implementation will cause complexity and confusion for employers, apprentices and providers alike. Without a single, coherent levy platform ready well before April 2017, the levy launch risks sinking.”

Source: Storm Rannard, Insider Media, 29 March 2016

For further information on the EEF report, please click here

FOOD INNOVATION WITH NESTLE – Manufactured Yorkshire

Nestle have done some fascinating research into heat recovery from hot food/baking processes assisted by Sheffield Hallam University – with some astounding results. Andy Griffiths is the Head of Sustainability for Nestle. He takes the stage alongside Dr Martin Howarth, the Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University to reveal the research and explain how these techniques can be used by manufacturers working with heat to reduce overheads and increase profitability.

Join the seminar at the Manufactured Yorkshire event on the 11th May in Leeds to find out more!

Seminar seats are filling fast – please book your place now

Roll-out set to gather pace at Xeros

Roll-out set to gather pace at Xeros

Rotherham-based Xeros has said it is rolling out commercial laundry machines at an approximate rate of one per working day and expects this to progressively increase as it keeps pace with the plans outlined at the time of its £40m fundraising in November.

The Advanced Manufacturing Park-headquartered company, which floated on AIM in 2014, supplies laundry systems to commercial laundries, hotels, spas and gyms.

Earned income at Xeros increased to £744,000 in the five months to 31 December 2015.

The accelerating roll out in its commercial laundry operation had led to 56 commercial washing machine installations for the five-month period, and 94 for the seven months ended 29 February 2016. The installed fleet stood at 200 by the end of February 2016

Xeros is also developing a leather processing division with processing trials continuing at a European leather tannery, as part of joint development agreement with LANXESS.

Source: Laurence Kilgannon, Insider, 22nd March 2016

Locations selected for UK’s First Science and Innovation Audit

The Sheffield City Region and Lancashire have been selected as one of the UK’s first Science Innovation Audit sites to identify investment opportunities and enhance research innovation and infrastructure across Britain.

The Advanced Manufacturing Corridor (AM Corridor) was proposed by a consortium which represents innovation partners in the Sheffield City Region and Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and is led by the University of Sheffield and Lancaster University.

The consortia is one of five chosen for the first Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) which will test the potential for these areas to build and develop world-leading ideas, products and technologies which will create jobs, increase UK productivity and drive growth.

The focus will be on the globally relevant science and technology areas that underpin advanced manufacturing now within the AM Corridor and as it evolves in the future.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “From Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park to the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, the UK has hot-spots of expertise that are propelling us forward in global innovation. Auditing the strengths in our regions will help us to build a long term strategy for global competitiveness and help ensure that hotspots generate more than the sum of their parts.

“Science and innovation are crucial to increasing regional productivity and growth which is why we’ve protected the science budget in real terms until 2020, and why we are developing a National Innovation Plan.”

The audit will investigate how much science and innovation is being produced, how good it is, and most importantly, how its outputs can build on existing investments and successes to drive the UK’s productivity from the North.

It will also look into the skills needed for companies to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the current revolution in manufacturing, which brings with it the need to upskill quickly.

In addition, it will investigate how new forms of higher education can be rolled out to support the adoption of new technologies in both original equipment manufacturers and supply chain companies including new apprentice based approaches to higher education.

Source: Laurence Kilgannon, Insider, 23rd March 2016

Hallam teams up with local engineering firm on mentorship scheme

Sheffield Hallam University has joined forces with a local engineering firm as part of an innovative mentorship scheme. 

The University has set up an Enhanced Mentored Internship (EMI) with Sheffield-based Mayflower Engineering, which involves academic experts working with the company to mentor a graduate intern.

EMIs are similar to knowledge transfer partnerships and are a three-way partnership between a business, an academic institution and a graduate.

Mayflower Engineering’s intern, Joe Wright, is working as marketing manager for the company on a 12-month contract.

He said: “This internship is a unique learning opportunity, as it gives me the chance to work alongside the university’s expert team.

“Crucially, the partnership also provides Mayflower Engineering with access to specialist support and marketing know–how. My mentor Nigel Jones has been a pillar of support, both in terms of personal development and guidance on marketing initiatives.”

Joe is receiving half-a-day per week of academic support from Nigel Jones, principal lecturer in marketing at Sheffield Hallam.

Nigel said: “As a university our role is about trying to upskill people and we can do that by establishing these relationships with local businesses. Enhanced mentored internships are a win-win for everyone involved.”

Mayflower’s Managing Director Kevan Bingham said of the partnership: “At Mayflower Engineering, we have a culture of continuous improvement which drives us to be innovative in our approach. Working alongside world class institutions such as Sheffield Hallam University is an integral part of our plan for innovation and growth.”

The University is currently running EMIs with two other companies; C-Probe Systems Limited and Stylex Auto Products.

For press information: Joanne Beattie in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email


Structural steel and construction safety systems provider Billington Holdings has reported its strongest results for five years.

In the year to 31 December 2015, pre-tax profit at the Barnsley-headquartered business increased by 63.2 per cent to £3.1m on revenue which climbed from £45.1m to £56.7m.

The group’s structural steel business was said to have been very busy throughout the year and carried out a number of large, high-profile projects.

A steady level of demand was reported for its easi-edge safety barrier division, while its hoard-it division, which produces a range of sustainable hoardings, has continued its market development and is now established within the industry.

The Peter Marshall Steel Stairs subsidiary was said to have continued to make good progress and achieved a contribution for the year broadly in line with budget.

“2015 was a significant year for the company and I am pleased to deliver the strongest full year results in five years,” said chief executive Mark Smith.

“Billington’s expansion strategy has progressed significantly following the purchase of the Shafton site which increased the capacity of the company’s structural steel work activities and, in the future, will provide increased opportunities for development.

“Although the industry continues to recover, the market remains competitive and the proposed dividend of 6 pence is a result of Billington’s ability to deliver quality results to both clients and shareholders.”

He added that after “a slow start to 2016 as a result of a number of significant contracts being delayed”, the remainder of the year “looks set to be busy for all divisions, providing management confidence for the full year”.

Source: Laurence Kilgannon, Insider, 22nd March 2016

UK aerospace maintenance, repair, overhaul and logistics industry analysis

Analysis of the aerospace maintenance, repair, overhaul and logistics industry in the UK.


This research examines the size, nature and scale of the UK aerospace maintenance, repair, overhaul and logistics (MROL) sector and the growth opportunities associated with it.


UK businesses report boost in innovation

More UK businesses than ever before are coming up with new ideas and products, according to official statistics.

  • the UK has seen its biggest boost in business-led innovation since 2010
  • Yorkshire and Humber has the most innovative businesses in the UK
  • the government commits the UK to go further and become best place in Europe to innovate

More UK businesses than ever before are coming up with new ideas and products, according to official statistics released today (11 March 2016).

The statistics, based on a survey of almost 30,000 employers between 2012 to 2014, show over half (53%) of UK businesses are actively engaging in developing and introducing new products and ways of making them, as well as new services and ways of doing business. Up 8% in 2 years alone.

The positive figures come after Business Secretary Sajid Javid set out his goal to make the UK a world leader in new ideas and innovation – helping to drive up competition, creating jobs and providing new and improved products and services – with a new national innovation plan.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

From new disruptive business models to driverless cars, innovation can not only revolutionise the way we live our lives, it can bring real opportunities for businesses to tap into and grow. That is why we are determined to make the UK the best place in Europe to innovate and start a company.

And these figures show that businesses throughout the UK are already leading the way, delivering exciting opportunities across the nation. The number of companies innovating and coming up with new, dynamic ideas is on the rise – up 8 percentage points between 2012 and 2014, with over half of businesses now developing new products and services, some with the potential to revolutionise their industries.

Yorkshire and the Humber leads the UK for innovative businesses, with almost two-thirds of businesses engaged in innovation in the region. The East Midlands is also well above the UK average at 57%, and the West Midlands has seen one of the largest increases in business led innovation, up 12 percentage points over 2 years.

The figures also show how important innovation is to global business success. 28% of innovative businesses were exporting abroad; bringing new British products like advanced medical scanners chargers to an international market. That compares to only 10% of non-innovating businesses.

More information and a breakdown of statistics is available at UK innovation survey 2015: headline findings