Sunderland’s business year 2015: Part Two

Maxim Brewery managing director Mark Anderson (left) with Sunderland city councillor Harry Trueman.....(pic David Charlton)
Maxim Brewery managing director Mark Anderson (left) with Sunderland city councillor Harry Trueman.....(pic David Charlton)
1
Have your say

July

Sunderland is top of the table for expanding entrepreneurial businesses, according to a new report. The UK Growth Dashboard analyses the growth of both new and existing businesses across the country between 2011 and 2014. It found Sunderland had a greater proportion of surviving 2011 start-ups reaching a £1m turnover by 2014, than any other selected “primary urban area” in England, including cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Doug Dooley, MD at TRM Group, Cllr Harry Trueman, Dep Leader of Sunderland City Council and Nick Morton, director TRM Group

Doug Dooley, MD at TRM Group, Cllr Harry Trueman, Dep Leader of Sunderland City Council and Nick Morton, director TRM Group

Sunderland’s retail economy could receive a shot in the arm after the city was included in a high street regeneration programme.

Business bosses are celebrating after it was announced Sunderland is one of 34 new areas selected in the Healthy High Streets programme.

The scheme, set up by Business In The Community (BITC) in June 2014, aims to increase footfall on high streets by 10% and reduce the number of vacant properties by 20%.

Nissan’s bid to drive forward an eco-friendly energy scheme steps up a gear.

BIC director of operations David Howell

BIC director of operations David Howell

Sunderland City Council is set to approve a plan to power the firm’s Sunderland plant through the construction of a solar farm filled with more than 19,000 photovoltaic panels.

Sunderland’s North East Business and Innovation Centre (Bic) opens its second spin-off. The Hub, on Crowther Road in Washington, is in an ideal location for new businesses, less than two minutes’ drive from the A1, and boasting excellent road access to major regional towns and cities including Gateshead and Newcastle in the North and Durham, Darlington, and Newton Aycliffe to the south.

Work resumes on Sunderland’s new £7.5million Premier Inn.

Investment management specialist Savills is now overseeing the development on behalf of a pension fund which owns the building.

Launch of new Infiniti Q30 at Nissan Sunderland.    **** PLEASE SEE KEVIN CLARK FOR NAMES ****

Launch of new Infiniti Q30 at Nissan Sunderland. **** PLEASE SEE KEVIN CLARK FOR NAMES ****

But creditors are still waiting to hear whether they will get any money back.

Sixty jobs will be created in the city centre with the arrival of a new contact centre.

Ambassador Theatre Group, which operates the Sunderland Empire, is relocating some of its contact centre function to the High Street West theatre.

August

The Mayor of Sunderland Coun Barry Curran and Mayoress Carol Curran join Premier Inn managers Louise Hope and Karen Lynch officially open the new city centre hotel, with staff Prakash Sharma and Karen Reed.

The Mayor of Sunderland Coun Barry Curran and Mayoress Carol Curran join Premier Inn managers Louise Hope and Karen Lynch officially open the new city centre hotel, with staff Prakash Sharma and Karen Reed.

Workers at a Wearside care company are been left shocked by its collapse.

Employees of The Care Fayre Ltd/St Martha’s are given the news via a letter, informing them the company has gone into liquidation and will be unable to make wage payments due the previous day.

Computing students in Sunderland are being given a head-start in the digital industry. Sunderland College has joined forces with digital delivery company Leighton to offer students high-quality work-experience placements at its Rainton Bridge headquarters.

A derelict pub, once one of the busiest in the city centre, reopens.

City businessman Les Ojugbana takes over the lease at Varsity, in Green Terrace, after the previous operators went into liquidation two years ago. Though it occupies a prime position in the Galen Buildings, the 630-capacity pub has been empty ever since.

Union chiefs fear compulsory job losses are inevitable as city housing giant Gentoo announces it has to cut more than £70million from its budget.

AWARDS NIGHT: Overall Business of the Year winners Expert Tooling & Automation receive their award from Sunderland City Council Leader Councillor Paul Watson during the event at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD

AWARDS NIGHT: Overall Business of the Year winners Expert Tooling & Automation receive their award from Sunderland City Council Leader Councillor Paul Watson during the event at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD

The firm needs to save £18million a year between now and 2020. Staff are informed of the required cuts at a meeting at Rainton Meadows arena when chief executive Peter Walls blames Government funding cuts – specifically reductions in social housing rents and other welfare reforms.

Sunderland manufacturer Thermal Resources Management has organised its own Chinese takeaway.

The firm has bolstered its supply chain in China by snapping up a 40 per cent share in a Shanghai-based joint venture with sister company MICC (Mineral Insulated Cables Company). The Chinese operation includes a manufacturing plant in Hefei, where it is seeking local suppliers to reduce the costs of exporting components from the UK.

September

Chancellor George Osborne is on as the Japanese car giant announces its Sunderland plant is to produce a new version of its successful Juke small crossover car, guaranteeing thousands of jobs into the next decade.

The £100million investment secures both production lines on Wearside and the jobs of 34,000 people employed by the firm and its British suppliers beyond 2020.

Nissan’s second generation Qashqai is a record-breaker ... 500,000 times over.

The Sunderland plant celebrates a record breaking milestone, as the 500,000th new-look Qashqai rolled of the production line.

Wearside’s Maxim Brewery is celebrating a top industry taste award.

Maxim has been awarded the British Bottlers Institute Gold Medal for its Maximus brew, the latest honour for a beer which was named Sunderland Camra beer of the year in its cask form in 2013, and won the Tesco beer competition in its bottled version.

Sunderland sportswear company Total Sport North East is strengthening its squad.

The company, which provides sports, coaching and training kits for teams, schools and colleges, has invested in new equipment to increase the production of printed and embroidered customised items, from its 11,500 sq ft site on Hendon Road.

October

Drivers are facing more than a year’s worth of traffic pain as work takes place to pave the way for the new £100million Wear bridge.

Advance road works start on the A1231 Wessington Way with a 250m stretch of the westbound carriageway reduced to one lane until the end of the year, before roadworks, lane restrictions and reduced speed limits are put in place from January.

The North East is bidding for a share of £35million government cash to boost the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) such as the Sunderland-built Nissan Leaf.

The North East Combined Authority – which brings together Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Northumberland and Durham Councils – is one of 12 vying to be chosen as one of UK’s irst ‘Go Ultra Low Cities.

The Wearside initiative aimed at giving school pupils a taste of the workplace has a new man at the helm.

North East Business and Innovation Centre chairman Paul McEldon is the new co-chairman of Work Discovery Sunderland.

Shoppers get a first look at the Bridges’ expansion plans, with a consultation exhibition of the proposed development going on display in the centre.

The scheme, on the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site, includes a new large store for an as-yet-unnamed leading retailer next to the centre, and will provide improved public spaces and new parking.

Port of Sunderland strengthens links with Sunderland’s Liebherr plant after major infrastructure improvements pave the way for it to handle more cargo.

The port has completed two rounds of cargo handling projects for the Deptford crane manufacturer, making use of its redeveloped Jubilee Quay, which underwent a £400,000 resurfacing programme during the summer.

Washington-based Expert Tooling and Automation is the big winner at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards, lifting the title of Overall Business of the Year, as well as the Best Training Provider category. The lifetime achievement goes to Nissan plant boss Kevin Fitzpatrick.

Sunderland MP Julie Elliott brands the Government “solely responsible” for the loss of hundreds of jobs at Wearside housing provider Gentoo. The company announces that 330 jobs are being axed – 18% of the workforce.

November

Better late than never ... Sunderland’s Premier Inn finally opens. Mayor Barry Curran cuts the ribbon to unveil the new venue as Premier Inn cluster manager Louise Hope says: “I am absolutely over the moon – it has definitely been worth the wait.”

Union officials hit out at the closure of Wearside tax offices which will affect thousands of jobs.

HM Revenue and Customs announces plans to close six tax offices in the North East as part of a ten-year modernisation plan. The closures will affect 2,150 staff at Waterview Park in Washington, 380 workers at Waterside House on Sunderland Enterprise Park and 500 employees at Emerald Court in Peterlee.

Bright sparks Spec is to create up to 20 new jobs after expanding into the North East.

Yorkshire-based substation support contractor Specialist Power Engineering Contracts (Spec) Limited has opened a new office at The Hub in Washington.

“Count the jobs. Count the cranes. And feel the vibe.”

Paul Callaghan yesterday tells an audience of business leaders construction projects alone will be worth £1.8billion to Wearside’s economy over the next nine years but the challenge is to ensure the city reaps the maximum benefit.

The chairman of the city’s economic leadership board is outlining more details of the city’s 3, 6, 9 economic vision at Sunderland University’s new Fab Lab in Silksworth Row.

The Esh Group goes into the teaching business.

The firm is creating a new Esh Academy building next to its Bowburn headquarters, which will be the focal point for the 150 apprentices the firm has committed to taking on over the three years to 2017.

December

Nissan begins production of its first-ever model for the car giant’s Infiniti brand.

Former plant boss Trevor Mann – now based in Japan – is back on Wearside to see the launch of the Q30 active compact, after a £250million investment that has created 300 new jobs.

Company bosses downplay claims a row on the other side of the Channel could threaten jobs on Wearside.

A national newspaper reports British jobs could be hit if the French government presses ahead with plans to take a major stake in Renault, which owns more than 43% of Nissan.

The firm unveils plans for a massive new extension to the Sunderland plant. A planning application has been submitted for a new paint shop for Line 1.

Portfolio award winner Expert Tooling is gearing up for its biggest ever order as it opens its new multi-million pound plant at Rainton Bridge.

The industrial automation supplier has won a major order from a tier one supplier to Alfa Romeo to design and manufacture a production assembly facility to produce parts for the Italian car company.

City call centre Fusion is creating 50 new jobs.

Recruitment has already started at the firm, which has just opened its third building in the city, and already employs almost 600 people in Sunderland.