North West business briefs: Mather & Co; Piccolino Caffe Grande; Kingsland Drinks Group; Trelleborg; Peel L&P

From left: Chris Mather, Fiona Hampton (Director, Inverness Castle), Sarah Clarke (Mather & Co MD)

The Highland Council has announced the appointment of Wilmslow design specialist Mather & Co as the successful exhibition designers for the project to transform Inverness Castle into a world class visitor attraction.

Mather & Co has completed the design of some of the most successful exhibitions, visitor attractions, tours and museums in the world since 1995. With 25 years of experience in creating world class attractions across the world, their work consistently features new and innovative ways to tell stories, engage visitors and attract new audiences. Examples of the firm’s high standards can be seen at attractions such as Downton Abbey: The Exhibition; The Ultimate Lap at the Silverstone Experience; The Royal Mint Experience; and The R&A World of Golf Museum in St Andrews.

The transformation of Inverness Castle is supported by £15m Scottish Government and £3m UK Government investment through the Inverness and Highland city region deal. It will create a gateway for Highland tourism, contributing to reinvigoration of tourism across the area and providing much needed investment for the industry to aid the recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mather & Co will bring creativity, experience and innovation to the transformation of Inverness Castle and the development of the ‘Spirit of the Highlands’ project. Their approach will consider the whole experience of the visitor, including what people see and interact with before, during and after their visit, to make sure that everyone who visits the castle has an incredible time and can’t wait to return.

Fergus Ewing MSP, co-chair of the Inverness Castle Delivery Group, said: “The appointment of Mather & Co as exhibition designers for the project is an important step in the transformation of Inverness Castle. Their wide experience across a varied range of visitor attractions throughout the world will be a welcome contribution to the development of the castle as a gateway for tourism in the Highlands, as well as a place that locals and visitors will be keen to visit again and again.”

Chris Mather, CEO of Mather & Co, said: “We are excited to be a part of the project team and get started by creating a first class and compelling destination attraction – showcasing the rich heritage of the Highlands and Islands and the Castle itself.”


Piccolino Caffe Grande has unveiled a new private dining room at the acclaimed Manchester city centre restaurant and bar. The impressive new 135 sq m event space, combining a private bar and separate function area follows the business’s acquisition of neighbouring Northern Assurance retail unit, 87 Bridge Street, in April of this year and subsequent 12-week renovation programme. It sees an investment of £400,000.

Designed by leading restaurant designer, Bernard Carroll of Carroll Design, the stylish new private hire space blends seamlessly with the existing restaurant, carrying Piccolino Caffe Grande’s signature polished marble tables, soft duck egg blue leather seating, and light washed wood finishes through. The former iconic shop front’s expansive window affords an enviable view across to Albert Square and Manchester Town Hall.

Accessed directly through the premium Italian restaurant, guests arrive into their own private bar area where Piccolino Caffe Grande’s extensive selection of sparkling wine, wine, premium spirits and beers, many of which are exclusive to the restaurant, can be enjoyed. A cloakroom takes care of every guest’s needs.

From here the main multi-purpose function room opens up, along with a wide array of event opportunities. Featuring a 78” plasma screen and private sound system the bright and airy space provides the perfect space for business presentations or intimate preview events, with capacity for 22 in a boardroom setting or 40 theatre style. For guests looking to host a celebratory event the opportunities continue to grow with standing space for 80.

General manager, Ettore Cicchetti, said: “After what has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry we’re incredibly excited to unveil our beautiful new private dining room and event space. Investing such a significant sum in the expansion of the restaurant during the national lockdown is testament to our belief that the hospitality industry will bounce back bigger and stronger.”


Andy Sagar

Irlam-based independent drinks firm Kingsland Drinks Group, including Kingsland Drinks, and newly established Ten Locks, has made a move to being partially employee owned.

Current director shareholders, Andy Sagar, Karen Wilson, Michael Forde, and Mark Dixon have successfully managed the business for 17 years, investing significantly in capability and capacity and diversifying the business into new markets. After a period of careful consideration and planning, the owners have agreed that the time is now right to restructure the ownership model while recognising any changes in the stewardship of the business will need support and take time to transition.

After reviewing all the potential options, the shareholders concluded the best outcome was to sell a majority of the shareholding into an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) structure.

The shareholders will remain active in the business as exec members of the board and will retain an equity interest while moving the majority – 51% – of the company into the EOT, giving employees Indirect Ownership status. The remaining 49% will continue to be held by the owners. There will be a board of trustees, consisting of one external independent trustee, two founder trustees and two employee trustees, charged with looking after the best interests of the co-owners of the company.

The company has also agreed new funding facilities in conjunction with its existing provider, NatWest, and a new partner, Wells Fargo. This provides the business with additional funding headroom and the capability to plan for future growth with its stakeholders. The funders have been fully supportive of the transfer of 51% of the equity in the group to an employee-owned trust, and the future business plans.


Image courtesy of Great British Sportscars

The Rochdale-based applied technologies operation of Trelleborg will undertake a research and development project focused on electric vehicle (EV) battery material and design, as part of a collaboration with Far-UK, Great British Sportscars, and Engenuity.

Funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) through The Niche Vehicle Network, Trelleborg’s early stage R&D stream initiative provides a platform for collaborative research in the area of zero emission vehicle technologies within the UK niche vehicle sector. The focus of the R&D project is to develop a novel material as an alternative to aluminum, that can be integrated into an EV battery to reduce the overall weight of the battery case, supporting the decarbonisation of vehicles on the road and reducing emissions through light weighting.

Neil O’Keeffe, technical director at the Rochdale operation, said: “We are actively developing new materials within the EV sector, and we know that collaboration is key to understanding industry challenges and speeding up the development process. Electric vehicle production is a critical emerging market for Trelleborg, and we are keen to support the progression to electrification.”

Richard Hall, director of Great British Sportscars, said: “Building a working proof-of-concept within a vehicle is the end goal for the project. Working with other like-minded companies that are focused on innovation is key for us, there is a synergy in our outlook, with this project providing a great basis for knowledge sharing and collaboration.”

The R&D project is for a six-month period, with findings and results published during 2022.


James Whittaker at Liverpool Waters

Manchester-based Peel L&P’s executive director of development, James Whittaker, has embarked on a 5,700km challenge to cycle the entire coast of Britain in 31 days, all to raise vital funds for WaterAid. James set off from St Andrews in Scotland on June 30, to give vulnerable communities across the globe access to clean water.

On Monday, July 19, having cycled for 18 days, the route took James through Wirral and Liverpool before heading off to Levens in the Lake District. Accompanied by Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters, James stopped off to see progress at both the Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters regeneration projects, before passing the famous Bramley Moore-Dock, proposed home for Everton’s new £500m stadium, on his way north.

James said: “The coastlines of Wirral and Liverpool are among the best in the UK, and it is fantastic to see them bathed in this glorious sunshine. It has also been great to see the progress being made at two of our strategic Waters projects – from the newly completed Tower Road streetscape and the Hythe office under construction at Wirral Waters, to the almost complete Lexington and, of course, the now world-famous Bramley-Moore Dock at Liverpool Waters.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported me today and please keep the donations coming in as it will make a huge difference. There are 785 million people throughout the world who do not have access to clean water. With your help, we can help change the lives of the poorest communities by funding the digging of a well or installing a tap stand in the most needed places.”

The original fundraising target of £25,000 has been smashed with more than £35,900 already donated.