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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the June 2017 issue

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Positivity is the buzz word for the business fraternity in the North East Lincolnshire town of Grimsby this year with plenty of investment, growth schemes and interest being shown in the area.

Renewable energy, seafood companies and the fishing industry all continue to flourish and confidence in the future is running high in Grimsby. Chamber of Commerce chair Kevin Hopper says because of its location, Grimsby doesn’t tend to experience the ‘booms and busts’ that other places go through.

“The local market of North East Lincolnshire and in particular Grimsby is reasonably busy. Despite the recession and Brexit, I think we have done quite well,” he said.

“I have acted for a lot of seafood clients and they seem to be in a reasonably good position. The last twelve months has been difficult for them because of the exchange rate and it has been a bit of a strain but I think they are doing better than they were pre-recession.

“It is all very positive and I don’t think we have seen the potential yet. But from what I have seen we seem to be doing better than other areas of the country.”

There is a lot of positivity around renewables, with Dong and Centrica investing in the area, and with the potential development at Freshney Place shopping centre set to boost the evening economy in the town, there is plenty to look forward to. The plan is for a £20 million leisure development to be built as an extension to Freshney Place bringing up to seven brand new national restaurant names and a nine-screen cinema to Grimsby.

Called Freshney Place Riverhead, it is expected to create up to 350 jobs, including at least 100 construction jobs at any one time, together with initial and long-term investment in the local economy.

“Freshney Place is a very large shopping centre, one of the biggest in Lincolnshire,” said Mr Hopper, who is a partner at accountants Forrester Boyd Ltd. “When you start having a few of the big High Street names pull out of the retail side like BHS, it puts pressure on other sectors but with the opening of the new Primark store and the planned development, it should attract people and businesses back. There are a lot of things to be positive about.”

Another trend that is raising its head is interest from trade and businesses elsewhere in the country.

“A number of clients are picking up work from down south. Engineering clients are doing very well. People are seeing Grimsby as an area that is moving forward. Products and services are better value and the cost of labour is cheaper,” said Mr Hopper. I am not seeing any major issues with any of my clients, so in general business is buoyant.”

Grimsby is also attracting many investors from overseas, including Europe.

Industrial Packaging Group, which is an £85 million turnover operation based in Belgium and part of the family-owned and Luxembourg-based holding company, Gaasch Packaging, has recently completed the takeover of Pattesons Glass Ltd in a multi-million pound deal.

Pattesons, established in Wootton in 2007, is one of the leading distributors of glass jars, bottles and containers for the food and drink industry. Having enjoyed rapid growth, launched and then expanded a purpose-built base – Atlas House – on Grimsby’s South Humberside Industrial Estate, it now employs twenty-four people and last year turned over £5.5 million.

Grimsby’s seafood industry is at its biggest for nearly a decade. A total of 4,922 full-time equivalent roles exist in the region’s processing sector, with the vast majority of the sixty-one sites in the town. Humberside, as it is referred to, is the only area in the whole of the UK to see an increase – up ten per cent on 2014 – and higher than it has been in studies undertaken biannually since 2008. The major expansion of Morrisons’ operations and the consolidation of Young’s Seafood have played a major role, with several smaller processors also growing strongly. Figures come from an in-depth study completed by Seafish, the industry authority, and forms part of the 2016 Seafood Processing Industry Report, recently released.

Simon Dwyer, who has taken on the secretariat role for Grimsby Fish Merchants Association in the past twelve months, and is a driving force on public/private cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby & Humber, said: “I am encouraged by the findings, and I think it will surprise a lot of people that it is a growth industry, and not in decline.

“When you think we have other food industry manufacturing here, the bread, the soups and the ready meals, then the supply chain too, you easily get to 25,000 jobs in the wider industry. And the vast majority of businesses and people are local, paying local taxes and spending locally too.

“It is testament to Grimsby that we have this, and not only is it nationally recognised, but internationally recognised as a seafood and food processing hub.”

The latest figures value the sector of the industry at £3.13 billion, with £942 million of turnover generated in the Grimsby area.

Work has also begun on a new £29 million development at the former Birdseye site on Ladysmith Road in Grimsby.

North East Lincolnshire Council, in partnership with ENGIE, has been working to accelerate this development, which will result in 184 houses, seventy-six apartments and around 1,000m2 of commercial floor space.

Ming Yeung, managing director at Yeung Property Group which is behind the development, said: “Ladysmith Road is an area that has been derelict for a number of years and working with ENGIE, the council’s regeneration partner, we have been able to progress much faster with this development.

“North East Lincolnshire is an area showing real economic potential and we are proud to be working towards the ambitions of North East Lincolnshire Council and bringing a long term brownfield site back into use.”

Redevelopment schemes are not just earmarked for Grimsby though and near neighbour Cleethorpes is also set to receive a boost. CoastNEL has been awarded nearly £4million from the Coastal Communities Fund to help deliver a number of key projects in the town. The £3.8million project will cover a range of projects to enhance key areas of Cleethorpes, provide new facilities and deliver some exciting events in the resort.

Key elements of the project include plans to improve key arrival sites, the promenades and the historic town centre streets; marketing and events to attract new visitors to the area and help extend the traditional tourist season and plans to transform a beachfront kiosk into an eye-catching entertainment venue.

The CoastNEL team, which successfully led the bid, is a partnership of local business people, arts, heritage and tourism groups and the local authority.

Julia Thompson, chair of CoastNEL and a member of the Visitor Economy, Services and Retail Group said: “We are thrilled to have successfully brought this investment to Cleethorpes and this is thanks to our strong partnership approach through our network of community, arts, heritage and cultural interest groups, and also the local authority, which has helped to develop and support the bid.

“Our town already has a vibrant mix of businesses and retail, along with a thriving night-time economy and a great beach. This investment means we have an exciting future to look forward to, with projects and events that will attract even more visitors and businesses to the area, as well as making it an ever greater place for residents to work, live and play.”

Councillor Peter Wheatley, NEL Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said the award builds on work already underway in Cleethorpes: “The Coastal Communities funding will help us create the right foundations for investment and growth in our coastal area and support the council’s plans for the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes over the next few years.

“There’s a renewed energy in the resort and the area, with growth being forecast in many of our industry sectors that are based and specialise here. We’ll be continuing to work in partnership with local residents, businesses and community groups to deliver this activity over the coming years.”

The programme will run from 2017 to 2019.

GRIMSBY FISH MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION
Once the world’s largest fishing port, Grimsby is today synonymous with the food industry and is a thriving modern town known as ‘Europe’s Food Town’.

Thousands of people are employed by around 500 food-related businesses, ranging from the modernised fish docks and market through to the global headquarters of major food brands. The seafood industry is worth £1.8 billion to North East Lincolnshire alone and the town supplies the vast majority of seafood for the UK’s retail, food service and consumer markets.

With Brexit now to the fore, protection of Grimsby’s place in the national and international seafood sector is of paramount importance but it does have a strong voice in the form of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, which has been operating for 106 years. It used to represent just the fishing sector but its scope of representation is much wider now.

“Traditionally it used to represent all the people who went out to catch the fish and all those who bought the fish,” explained Simon Dwyer, who manages and administers the association.

“It has evolved as the sector has evolved. We are a seafood sector that processes fish and we are one of the largest seafood processing clusters in Europe. There are 5,000 people directly employed in the seafood processing industry in Grimsby and the region.”

The Association has sixty-six members that include some of the larger organisations with some big brands such as Icelandic Seachill and Young’s.

“We represent the smaller fish merchants all the way down to the mobile fish vans that go out everywhere to sell fish across the country. There are 100 of those vans going out individually every week.” said Mr Dwyer. “The Association looks after the interests of all those companies.”

Three years ago, it also established an umbrella organisation called Seafood Grimsby and Humber, a cluster group that represents the seafood sector in the region and which is also managed and administered by Mr Dwyer and his business Seafox Management Consultants.

“That group is strategically future-proofing the sector going forward, looking at issues like Brexit, supply and legislation and it also works with the wider support chain – organisations that are involved in packaging, logistics, storage and distribution,”  said Mr Dwyer.

Seafox Management Consultants has been operating for seven years and is aligned to the seafood sector nationally and internationally and also has a strong working background in logistics and shipping.

Mr Dwyer represents both the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association and the Seafood Grimsby & Humber organisation on Defra’s Brexit & the Seafood Processing Sector Committee.

He explained: “We are carrying out risk management in terms of how to safeguard the sector and the jobs once Brexit happens. We have a seat at the table, which is all important. Ninety per cent of the seafood processed in Grimsby is imported from all over the world, particularly Iceland, Norway and Alaska on the west coast of America. It is important going forward that we get the right conditions for Brexit for us.

“In terms of seafood processing, Grimsby is in a good place because of its reputation, the skills it has in the supply chain and the fact that major global seafood processing companies are catered for here. The jobs count is going up and hopefully that will continue in the future, in terms of investment in the future.”

Grimsby has also secured a food enterprise zone after being awarded a significant portion of a Local Growth Fund for Greater Lincolnshire, which will go towards extending the town’s Europarc. The award will allow them to offer developer-friendly benefits such as enhanced capital allowances or business rate discounts.

The investment will support infrastructure and services to accelerate the development of the zone, creating employment land and enabling key buildings specifically designed to support the growth and expansion of Greater Lincolnshire’s agrifood clusters.

“We have a food enterprise zone that has been awarded further investment and we have a global reputation,” said Mr Dwyer. “In the food sector we have bakery, making soup and the ready meals and in terms of every else, the wind power sector is vibrant and the chemical and engineering industry and ports industry still play a vital role in the economy.”

EASTWOOD ACCOUNTANCY SERVICES
The world of finance can be a stress and a worry for many business owners, particularly the small one-man band operations. But for those that are based in and around the Grimsby area, there is expert help at hand on the doorstep.

Eastwood Accountancy Services has been serving the business community in Grimsby for fifteen years and places high importance on offering personal service. It offers a broad range of services for business owners, executives and independent professionals and is not only friendly and helpful, but affordable too.

Pauline and David Thompson relocated to Grimsby and realised their dream of being able to offer personal, professional services to the local business community at very competitive rates.

“We believe in helping small businesses succeed. We are passionate about personal service to those small operations, the one-man bands. People basically get that personal professional input and we try to offer a no-nonsense but caring approach to all our assignments,” said David.

David has worked for small-to-medium-sized professional practices for many years, as well as in senior management in small companies, but has also had experience in larger PLC operations such as Unilever in London.

Eastwood Accountancy Services offers a range of services that include accounting, bookkeeping, small business accounting, payroll and submitting tax returns. It also offers in-house services which include secretarial, payroll and bookkeeping.

“We offer ongoing bookkeeping, accounting and taxation services for small-to-medium-sized businesses. We pride ourselves on a personal service including bank visits, visits to clients’ premises etc, on an as-needed basis,” added David.

CLEETHORPES MOBILITY
Cleethorpes Mobility Scooter Centre is a family run business that always puts the interests of their customers first. Whether you are looking for a new mobility scooter, wish to part exchange or to simply rent, you can be sure you will receive first class service from our friendly team of mobility experts.

Cleethorpes Mobility stocks a wide range of new and reconditioned mobility scooters so you can be confident that you will find one that suits you and your pocket perfectly.

You will also find wheelchairs, powerchairs, riser recliners, stair lifts, rollators and many other living aids.

Regular servicing is vital if you want to keep your mobility scooter in good working order.

At Cleethorpes Mobility Centre, they can help ensure your scooter continues to offer you trouble free scootering for years to come – through regular annual servicing.

You don’t need to have bought your scooter from them to book it in for a service as their scooter mechanics have all the expertise and the tools to repair every type of mobility scooter, wheelchair and powerchair.

Visit Cleethorpes Mobility Scooter Centre 11-13 High Street, Cleethorpes.

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