North West business briefs: Lume; Coral Products; Virgin Media; Salix Homes; General Store

Chris Bradley

Lume has received significant investment from a syndicate of angel investors following the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Angel Network’s introductions.

Founded in 2020, city centre-based Lume is a workplace mental wellbeing platform aimed at building better places to work and helping people to thrive. The Lume app enables companies to better track employee mental health and identify what is impacting it. This makes it possible for companies to proactively prevent mental health problems, rather than reacting after the event.

Co-founder and CEO Chris Bradley attended one of the LCR Angel Network’s recent digital events to pitch his business to a virtual room of angel investors. Lume secured investment from several angels via the network, including from entrepreneur and angel investor Geoffrey Bibby, which it will use to scale-up the business.

Chris Bradley said: “Lume was born out of seeing first hand just how much work impacts mental health, and how much mental health impacts work. We are on a mission to realise this vision of building better places to work and helping people to thrive in life. The LCR angel network has helped us to get a step closer to this vision, through a fantastic event that put us in front of the right people.”

Angel Investor, Geoffrey Bibby, said: “Through the LCR Angel Network I have seen a number of amazing companies pitching for investment. Lume was one of the companies that managed to attract both mine and other Angels’ interest meaning we were able to team up to get to an investment stage.”

Mark Rathbone, a partner at Brabners and co-founder of the LCR Angel Network, said: “It has been an interesting year for everyone, not least our angel network. Moving to an online pitch scenario and running two pitch events in the autumn of 2020 was a great challenge for the network. We lived up to that challenge, with some fantastic businesses pitching to a wide range of angels at each event.”

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Coral Products’ food recycling bin

Plastics manufacturer, Coral Products, has announced it has repaid the £402,380 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL).

The specialist in the design, manufacture and supply of plastic products such as food recycling bins and tote bags, said the repayment allows it to return to normal commercial operations.

Executive chairman, Joe Grimmond, said : “Following the repayment of the CBIL, we are enabling a return to normal business activity, with three profitable, cash generative businesses, a strong balance sheet and a healthy cash balance.

“This will support organic growth whilst allowing for us to seek acquisitions to augment our existing activities and reward shareholders for their long term support.”

Coral recently relocated from Haydock to Wythenshawe, following the £3.5m sale of its former headquarters.

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Virgin Media

Virgin Media has opened applications for its Inbound Sales Advisor apprenticeship scheme in Baguley, Manchester, with at least 12 roles now available.

The scheme offers apprentices the opportunity to earn while they learn, with a starting salary of £18,530 plus bonuses – well above the national average for apprentices.

All roles are offered on a permanent basis, providing new joiners with job certainty and the chance to progress in their careers at a time when many companies have cut back on staff training programmes.

Virgin Media’s contact centre teams have been working throughout the pandemic, helping the country stay connected at a time when broadband, TV and mobile services have never been more important. Over the past year, the company has invested in more than 1,000 UK-based contact centre roles to help support its customers.

Karen Handley, head of future careers at Virgin Media, said: “The apprenticeship opportunities we’re creating in Manchester offer successful applicants the chance to learn the skills they need to get ahead, at the same time as earning an industry-leading salary. We’ve continued to invest in a broad range of apprenticeships covering everything from field technicians, project managers and sales advisors to keep the country connected when it matters most and support the UK to bounce back stronger.”

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Arthur Millwood and Canon Hussey Court

Salford-based housing association Salix Homes has been praised by a leading figure in building safety for its commitment to fie and building safety after announcing the completion of its cladding remediation programme.

Dame Judith Hackitt, chair of the Industry Safety Steering Group who led the Government’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy in 2017, wrote to Salix, saying: “As a social housing provider, it was clear to the ISSG that you have made a concerted commitment to address building safety. It was evident to us that there is a sense of genuine responsibility to put things right, supported by Salix Homes’ participation in the Early Adopter programme.”

Salix Homes has now completed the multimillion-pound cladding remediation and safety enhancement work across its tower blocks in Salford. The housing association owns 18 high-rise buildings, eight of which were deemed to have cladding systems that did not meet the Government’s test criteria, including Mulberry, Magnolia and Sycamore Courts in Pendleton, Blackfriar Court, Riverbank Towers and Newbank Towers in Greengate and Arthur Millwood Court and Canon Hussey Court in Islington.

Sue Sutton, Salix Homes chief executive, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our tenants is the utmost priority for Salix Homes. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy we moved quickly to enhance safety measures across all our high-rise buildings and raise the bar on building safety, so to be commended by Dame Judith Hackitt is a real testament to our efforts.

“We’ve worked alongside technical experts to develop a permanent solution to replace the affected panels and cladding systems, as well as implement additional safety measures, and we’re pleased to announce that this extensive programme of work has now drawn to a close.”

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General Store MediaCityUK

Manchester-based independent retailer, General Store, has opened its latest venue in MediaCityUK – its first two-storey site – creating 20 jobs.

It includes a coffee shop, plus an alcohol emporium with tasting area, rotating streetfood vendors, local fresh baked goods and zero-waste, household essential refill stations. There will be an outdoor seating area for up to 30 covers coming soon after launch, so customers will be able to grab a coffee and food to go or enjoy with a view of MediaCityUK.

The new venue is the first in the Store Group to be designed by Youth Studios, the Manchester designers responsible for some of the city’s high profile new residential spaces, and Mital Morar, founder of Store Retail Group said: “I’m really excited to serve the unique and diverse community at MediaCityUK. It is an amazing place and we’re looking forward to bringing something new to the area. It feels like a really special opportunity to be able to expand the business at such an exciting destination and to be so central to it.”

Chris Reay, property director for MediaCityUK, said: “MediaCityUK is committed to supporting local, independent operators and the General Store MediaCityUK will bring a unique experiential retail experience right into the heart of our community.”

General Store MCUK follows existing venues in Ancoats, Stretford and Sale. General Store Deansgate Square has already been announced with an opening planned later this year.

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