BUSINESSiQ Editor Mike Hughes looks back at a year of great change for North East businesses



HOSPITALITY and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000, the Government has announced. The payments will cost the Treasury £4.6 billion and are aimed to help support the high street as new lockdown measures take hold.

HIGH street bakery chain Greggs has said it is set to slump to an annual loss and warned profits will not recover until at least 2022 as the pandemic hammers sales.

THE UK economy may be heading into double-dip recession – but the North-East remains optimistic. New figures revealed the UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November as the country continues to grapple with Covid.

MORE than 12,500 businesses in the North-East have reported “distress”, according to research by  rescue and recovery specialist Red Flag Alert.


THE Centre for Process Innovation  at the Wilton Centre in Redcar has been given £4million in funding to support the expansion of bio-manufacturing facilities in the region.

BISHOP  Auckland was hoping to receive an economic boost and become a world-class visitor destination with the submission of a bid for almost £50million in regeneration funding through the Stronger Towns Programme.

A NORTH-EAST law firm was marking its 125th anniversary this year. Since its foundation in 1896, Sintons has grown to become one of the leading law firms in the North of England.

THE first images of how a redundant office building on Teesside’s former steelworks could look like were revealed. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen wants Steel House to become the base for the Teesworks development site.

ANNIMERSION UK has completed its move to new offices within Middlesbrough’s landmark Boho Zone and announced plans to use part of its new office space to work collaboratively with local freelancers.

LEGAL & General submitted proposals to deliver a £60m business park at Hillthorn Park, expected to create 1,600 new jobs in Sunderland.

NORTH-EAST sliding door gear manufacturer PC Henderson celebrated its 100th year in business.


A RADIATION detection technology has secured new orders worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Kromek, based at NETPark, Sedgefield, has received two orders worth a total of $750,000.

TRAINING company Learning Curve Group (LCG)  completed the acquisition of Antrec Limited. Antrec, established in 2011 in Liverpool, delivers a range of funded and commercial adult learning courses.

One of the UK’s biggest care home groups is selling 52 of its homes and closing four so it can “better meet” current and future care needs. HC-One, which has its headquarters in Darlington, is planning to sell off 52 homes.

THE Chancellor announced that the bid to set up the UK’s first and biggest freeport in Teesside has been given the green light.

HITACHI’s investment at its County Durham factory – which now totals £110million – sees new facilities completed, allowing welding and painting to start on brand new UK passenger trains. 

COUNCILLORS have approved a scaled-down version of the Boho X tower which has been described as a “significant landmark” for Middlesbrough and the regeneration of the town.

FEARS have been raised over the future of thousands of steel workers – including those in the North East – after Liberty Steel’s lender filed for administration. Greensill Capital counts David Cameron among its advisers.

The Northern Echo: Demolition at the former steelworksDemolition at the former steelworks

THE first explosive was detonated to demolish the former Redcar Steelworks site. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen pushed the button on the controlled explosion to level the old coal handling facility.

HUNDREDS more Government officials will relocate to Darlington after the Department  for International Trade confirmed they would be moving to Treasury North.

FIRSTSOURCE, a global business that already employs 500 people in Middlesbrough, is planning to create up to 200 more jobs this year after relocating to Centre Square.



A COUNTY Durham firm involved in the manufacture of coronavirus vaccines claimed it could have been forced out of the area if it was denied permission to expand its current base. Teesdale-based plastics firm Technimark hopes to take advantage of growing demand and create up to 40 jobs, with plans to demolish and rebuild its current warehouse and toolroom.

BUSINESSES leaders have welcomed the second step out of lockdown saying they are looking forward to town and city centres across the region thronging with life again.
Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms, nail salons, libraries, and outdoor attractions such as theme parks will be allowed to reopen, along with outdoor hospitality, including pubs and restaurants - with the rule of six or a larger group from two households.

SALESFIRE, an award-winning SaaS company that specialises in conversion rate optimisation and intelligent personalisation, has doubled its office footprint in Middlesbrough to accommodate recent growth.

CONSTRUCTION of more than 20 modern business units will begin this summer next to Amazon’s warehouse at its £300m mixed-use Integra 61 development at J61 of the A1(M) at Bowburn.

A REDCAR businesswoman has been listed in Forbes magazine’s top 30 people under 30. Chloe Clover, 28, who is the co-founder of ideo marketing and production company Wander Films made the list which includes the top entrepreneurs to watch across Europe.

THE number of UK sectors reporting output growth rose to a six-month high in March as businesses prepared for the end of the third lockdown.

COUNTY Durham-based Believe housing is set to build 1,250 new homes, upgrade thousands more, and extend the support it offers to communities after a £250m funding boost.

THE Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), a national indicator for how well universities are supporting the economy, assessed Teesside University as being in the top 10 per cent of higher education providers for growing skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship.



A FABRICATION company  secured an investment of £500,000 to help it develop and safeguard 20 jobs.
North Yorkshire company Allerton Steel Ltd was given the investment by NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

THE North-East company behind an anti-ageing supplement has been named one of the Top 200 female-powered businesses in the UK. Newcastle-based Nuchido Laboratories is led by biologist Dr Nichola Conlon.

The Northern Echo: Ben Houchen, Heather Scott, Kwasi Kwarteng and Peter GibsonBen Houchen, Heather Scott, Kwasi Kwarteng and Peter Gibson

ANOTHER 100 civil service jobs are being moved into Darlington. Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will join the 750 Treasury workers and 500 Overseas Trade civil servants in a new “economic campus” which is to be built at Central Park, near Bank Top Station.

DARLINGTON Building Society is named as one of the UK’s top 100 mid-sized companies to work for.


A NORTH-EAST health technology company has become the latest company to be snapped up by a fast-growing software group. Clarity Informatics, which provides software to GPs, announced that it has been acquired by Agilio Software.

A COUNCIL officer charged with leading the economic recovery of North Yorkshire following the pandemic has forecast “an absolute boom year” for businesses in the county.

A DIRECT link to the nation’s capital came one step closer as an LNER Azuma train pulls up at a Teesside station. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has welcomed the first of LNER’s Azuma trains calling at Middlesbrough station as part of critical driver training.

TEESSIDE’S skyline is set to change forever as officials pledge that every structure of the former Redcar Steelworks will be down within a year.


A LEADING Tees Valley law firm is making a key top-level change, with one of the sector’s best-known personalities moving to a consultancy role. Jane Armitage, who has been Managing Partner at Jacksons Law for more than six years, is to hand over control to Tony Wentworth, currently Head of Corporate and Commercial.

NORTH East England Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey shows a significant improvement in business performance and confidence for the first time in more than 12 months.


A NEW report from the UK Space Agency has highlighted that revealed the number of people employed in the space sector in the North East is up 12% to over 1,000.

BUSINESS leaders across the region led tributes to James Ramsbotham, North East England Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, who says he is stepping down after 15 years.

ONE of the top ten dairy groups in the world bought Wensleydale Dairy Products for £23million.

NORTH East-based construction company Tolent secured a £12m lending facility to help strengthen its position after a challenging year.

MORE than 300 jobs are being created in the North East in an offshore wind production boom thanks to more than £70m of government and private investment, Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng announced.

ONE of Teesside’s most influential business leaders, Prof Jane Turner, died. Teesside University, where Jane was Pro Vice-Chancellor, said she was much-loved, respected and valued.


The Northern Echo: Jane TurnerJane Turner

BILL Scott’s Wilton Group bought a 58-acre manufacturing facility next door to its Teesside base, creating up to 200 new jobs in the renewable energy, defence and logistics sectors.

THE administrators called in to help find a buyer for Cleveland Bridge said the Covid pandemic is to blame for the shocking collapse. They say they have already started the search for investors to buy the business and secure its future.



CHRIS Droogan, the Managing Director of Cleveland Bridge left his job as the search goes on for a new owner at the crisis-hit business. Two days later, 53 staff were told they had lost their jobs.

RYANAIR announced a new base in Newcastle for Summer 2022, with 12 new connections across Europe including Paphos, Milan and Ibiza.

NORTH East England Chamber of Commerce has announced its new leader will be John McCabe, a former President and the managing director of Fusion PR Creative.

TAKEAWAY giant Just Eat will employ 1,500 people in a new North East customer service site as it brings jobs back from India and Bulgaria.

BRITISH Steel has announced the single largest investment for more than 30 years at its Skinningrove site. The £26 million project will see new processing facilities constructed at the Special Profiles site.


THE North East’s most successful technology park is to expand, with councillors being asked to support a £50m investment at NETPark in Sedgefield.

AFTER weeks of desperate negotiations to try to save Cleveland Bridge, time has finally run out for the firm and its workers as it was confirmed that the Yarm Road site will close for good.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland Bridge on Yarm RoadCleveland Bridge on Yarm Road

MAYOR Ben Houchen welcomed a deal with bp  which would see them collaborate to develop low carbon hydrogen hubs, supporting a wave of investment and jobs.

THE Government has struck a deal with fertiliser firm CF Industries in Billingham to restart production at its UK sites. As a by-product of its production of fertiliser, the company is the UK’s biggest supplier of CO2.

NEWCASTLE software group Sage is to cut more than 800 jobs globally.



A CONTROVERSIAL plan for an expansive garden store and 40-bedroom hotel on a greenfield site at the entrance to Leyburn has been recommended for approval, despite planners concluding pre-emptive action is needed to stop it undermining town centre retailers.

AN auction date was set to sell off the contents of the Cleveland Bridge factory after a global search by a team of administrators from FRP failed to find a buyer willing to take on a £21million mountain of debt.

THE construction firm Esh Group reported a £3.7 million loss in 2020 after being hit by the pandemic.

BLACK  Sheep Brewery made a profit of just over £1million during its 2020-21 financial year despite the pandemic crippling the pub and brewing industry.

NEWCASTLE United ushered in a new era after the consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund completed its takeover of the club.

A GREEN energy project in the North East worth £250 million is set to be approved by a Saudi Arabian state-owned petrochemical company. It was understood Sabic is close to approving the major investment deal.

ELECTRONICS manufacturer PragmatIC Semiconductor, based in Sedgefield, secured $80 million of funding to build a new fabrication plant.

ANDY McLeod, the boss of Tolent, one of the North East’s largest construction companies, is leaving as its latest results show losses of £8.3m despite a record turnover.

KROMEK Group, based at NetPark in Sedgefield, won a contract worth $17m over seven years to provide its detection skills to a US-based company.

NORTHUMBERLAND based offshore engineering company Osbit joined new offshore wind group Venterra Group which could invest £250m by mid-2022.

STOCKTON-based Archers Law has been acquired by Knights, one of the UK’s fastest growing legal and professional services businesses, for more than £5million.


ENERGY giant BP, which is investing heavily in Teesside’s energy revolution, has recorded impressive profits in the wake of soaring oil and gas prices.

CUMMINS, whose landmark Yarm Road factory in Darlington produces engines for a global market, has reported revenues of $6bn in a strong set of results.

The Northern Echo: Cummins on Yarm RoadCummins on Yarm Road

ICL Boulby, the world’s first and only producer of the ground-breaking mineral polyhalite, is continuing to break production records—and has increased sales volume by over 90 per cent in the third quarter of the year compared to 2020.

ELAINE Stroud was confirmed as the new chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum following the departure of Jonathan Lamb due to health reasons.

TEESSIDE steel company Paralloy secured a £15 million funding package, enabling it to fulfil the most exports in its 90-year history.

NEWCASTLE’S Pilgrim’s Quarter, part of the Pilgrim Street development, is set to become the new home for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the North East.

DIGITAL giant Accenture announced plans to create 3,000 new technology jobs in the UK over the next three years, with a focus on three key Northern cities.



Fujifilm at Billingham - which has made 60 million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine and is now waiting for approval  - announced a £400 million investment that will create up to 350 new jobs.

THE Boulby fertiliser mine in East Cleveland is celebrating approval for another 25 years of work at the site - even though it will cost it around £14million.

GATESHEAD-based contractor Tolent has started work on the first phase of works on the £50m Brett Wharf development on the town’s quayside.

MORE than £500m is to be spent over the next year developing the Woodsmith mine project on the North Yorkshire coast and Teesside. Chris Fraser will step down as CEO.

EUROPE’S largest battery is to be built on Teesside, delivering 70 jobs and a huge boost to the UK’s power network. Sembcorp will build the 360mw energy storage system at its Wilton International site.

BUS and coach group National Express has agreed an all-share takeover of rival Stagecoach in a £437million deal.

INSURANCE company AXA UK is to move more than 450 staff into a new office development at Centre Square in Middlesbrough.

GE Renewable Energy, the global company behind a turbine blades project at Teesworks confirmed there are talks over the future of the deal.

THE former Cleveland Bridge site on Yarm Road, Darlington is set to be turned into a new industrial park after being bought by commercial property investor Adhan Group.


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