Coronavirus business update: Latest news across the North West

Magenta Living tenant Dawn has received a bike

Following the launch of its #BikesForNHS campaign in April, social enterprise Hype Merseyside has loaned 186 bikes to NHS workers supporting the fight against COVID-19.

The organisation – which focuses on getting people involved in cycling – has also seen 67 unwanted bikes donated by the public and is still appealing for more, so that they, too, can be refurbished and loaned to the NHS workers who applied for the scheme.

The scheme, which received hundreds of applications, was launched to allow staff on the frontline of the national health crisis save money by not having to take taxis when public transport wasn’t available, save time and allow them to spend more time with their family, and to improve their own health and general fitness.

The #BikesForNHS Merseyside initiative even gained the support of The Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris, who described it as a “fantastic scheme” in a Zoom call with organiser Matt Houghton.

The success of the initiative with NHS workers at The Royal Liverpool Hospital, Aintree Hospital, Broadgreen Hospital, The Walton Centre, Arrowe Park and the Clatterbridge Hospital, has also encouraged other local organisations to invest in similar schemes.

Magenta Living, the largest provider of affordable housing in Wirral, has committed £6,000 to provide up to 60 of their residents with a bike and access to workshops delivered out of Hype Merseyside’s new unit at the Environmental Innovations Centre in Birkenhead.

The free bikes will be loaned to Magenta Living residents who are front line workers for three months.

Matthew Houghton, chief executive at HYPE Merseyside, said: “We set out to loan 100 bikes to NHS staff in the first phase of the campaign and we exceeded that target by almost double – 186 in total. The response has been incredible and we are proud to still be supporting the fantastic frontline workers who applied to the scheme with free, healthy and safe transport until the end of the year.

“It is also wonderful to see other local organisations like Magenta Living recognising the potential health and lifestyle benefits of cycling and investing in our bikes for their residents.”


Carex, the UK’s No.1 hand hygiene brand and part of Manchester-based PZ Cussons, announces it is working in partnership with the Government to support its #EnjoySummerSafely campaign.

The Government’s nationwide campaign is designed to encourage a safe and responsible return to Summer and leisure activities.

Carex, together with a number of leading brands, will launch promotional initiatives to encourage good hygiene behaviours and ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’.

As part of the campaign’s safety guidance, the population is reminded to wash their hands regularly and use sanitiser products when outside their home to stop the spread of COVID-19.

During the outbreak Carex significantly increased the manufacture of its hand wash and hand sanitiser products to ensure the unprecedented demand could be met. In addition, the company has donated more than 500,000 bottles of Carex’s essential antibacterial products to a variety of charities and trusts across the country.

Carex is also encouraging consumers to consider the environment and reuse their hand wash bottles by using its eco-refill pouches.

Jonathan Myers, PZ Cussons chief executive, said: “I’m proud that Carex can play a key role in helping everyone get back to doing the things they love and to stay healthy. Our dedicated teams have been working tirelessly to increase production and ensure stores across the country are stocked up with Carex products so everyone can get outside and enjoy the summer safely.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m grateful for all the businesses who are playing their part and have contributed to this campaign. Our new campaign marks an important moment in reminding everybody of the part we all need to play in limiting the transmission of the virus.”


Process room

Rochdale firm BES had been praised by COVID-19 vaccine researchers.

Despite the challenges of social distancing the pharmaceutical design and construction specialists completed a new facility for Keele-based Cobra Biologics, who are at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine research.

The time-critical viral vector suite project is a pivotal element of Cobra’s commercial strategy and BES delivered the project despite the supply chain challenges of the pandemic.

Peter Coleman, Cobra chief executive, said: “From the outset, the BES team understood our commercial and operational requirements and worked with us to design and programme the project around those needs.

“The company’s experience in the pharmaceutical industry makes them ideally placed to deliver complex projects like this for the gene cell therapy sector.”

Located within Keele University campus, Cobra has invested in upgrading part of its existing development and production facility with three viral vector suites.

The project, which started in September 2019 and finished in May 2020, will enable Cobra to expand its clinical and commercial viral vector services as a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO).

Paul Marsh, engineering director at BES said: “This project highlights the level of expertise within the BES team which makes us a key delivery partner for specialist environments designed for pioneering scientific businesses. It is a project of national and international significance and we are proud to have delivered it.”

BES was founded in 2002 and is part of the Boulting group of companies.