North West business briefs: Liverpool FC; Unity Trust Bank; Manchester Hoteliers Association; Ripple & Co; TapTrip

Liverpool FC

Liverpool FC has joined with one of Europe’s leading football retailers, Unisport, in a new partnership that will enable more fans in the region to access official club merchandise.

LFC will work with Unisport to expand the club’s retail offering and bring the official Reds’ retail experience to fans across Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Finland and Austria.

Unisport will deliver the LFC retail experience both through on and offline retail channels, with future plans aiming to open new stores and retail space. As a key distributor for Nike, the partnership with Unisport will bring fans access to both LFC Nike merchandise, as well as exclusive LFC branded merchandise.

Based in Copenhagen, Unisport has provided a premium service across Europe for more than 25 years. Besides flagship stores in central Copenhagen and Paris, Unisport run localised web shops in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria.

Mike Cox, Liverpool FC senior vice president, merchandising, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Unisport to our global football and retail family. Relationships like this are incredibly important to the club to ensure that we can bring LFC closer to all our supporters who are based across the world, not just at home in Liverpool. With a strong fan base in the Nordics and Central Europe, Unisport are an ideal retail partner to provide the LFC retail experience to our supporters in this region.”

Michael J Burk, CEO of Unisport, said: “I’m extremely excited to bring the full Liverpool FC experience to the Unisport customers, providing the best shopping experience both digitally as well as physically to Reds supporters in Scandinavia and Central Europe. Liverpool FC has such an incredibly strong fan base in our region and this partnership will help deliver on our mission to make football dreams come true. A very warm welcome to the entire LFC family and all LFC supporters.”


John Copping

Unity Trust Bank, the specialist commercial lender, has released its half year financial results, which report net lending for socially-responsible businesses in the North-West of £11.648m.

As SMEs, organisations and charities across the region look ahead to post-lockdown recovery, Unity Trust Bank said it has continued to deliver a positive impact from its Northern hub in Manchester over the past six months. Funding has enabled local businesses to continue making a positive social and economic impact within their communities. This includes the investment of £3.2m in affordable housing for 85 vulnerable people across the North West, and £1.8m to support the development of a regeneration project in Manchester.

Unity has reported an increase in total net lending across the UK of more than £68m. It said this increase demonstrates how Unity continues to deliver safe and sustainable growth, reporting pre-tax profits of £5.2m for the first six months of the year, up 65% on the same period in 2020. Growing at more than 25% per annum, Unity supports SMEs and organisations that share its values in wanting to contribute to positive economic, social and environmental change.

In addition to Unity’s continued focus within education, housing and social care, there has been significant growth across the healthcare sector during the past six months, particularly in pharmacy and dentistry. John Copping, regional director of the North for Unity Trust Bank, said: “My team has demonstrated incredible resilience over the last 18 months, having provided unwavering support for our customers and adapting services to meet their evolving business needs at a time when income generation continues to be a challenge – it is a testament to the strength of our customer relationships and Unity’s people-first approach.

“We are proud to be able to support local organisations that operate for the greater good and demonstrate how finance can have a positive impact on society. We understand how crucial access to funding is for our customers to make an impact within their local communities, and to help vulnerable people across the region.”


Adrian Ellis

The Manchester Hoteliers Association (MHA), the non-profit organisation of the key hotels within the city centre and the Greater Manchester area, has responded to the hospitality sector’s recruitment difficulties with a three-tiered approach. The Association will tackle the challenge on three levels: Working with secondary schools, with local colleges in the region and with strong contacts already made with universities.

At secondary school level, the MHA is carrying out an extensive school liaison programme, working with Springboard and partnering with five local Manchester secondary schools. Commencing in September 2021, hotels will work closely with schools to help with careers days, work experience and visits to the hotels to gain a better understanding and awareness for careers that are open to school leavers.

For college students, the MHA is partnered with Manchester colleges in the region, offering 400 placements to students at hotels across the city. The programme starts in September 2021 and will equip the students with real experience to put on their CVs, aiding them in entering the world of work. The aim is that each hotel participating will offer up to 15 placements for college students as part of the programme.

The MHA will also continue its strong partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), running its pioneering work experience and hotel mentoring scheme for the new university term. The initiative sees all first year students offered an opportunity to gain work experience with hotels in the city. The MHA will also relaunch its pioneering mentorship scheme, which, in its fifth year running, links General Managers with final year students to help guide them through their final year and support them in their professional development.

Adrian Ellis, MHA chair, said: “Through our three-tiered approach we are committed to inspiring the future generation into joining the vibrant hospitality sector. Whether it be through fun work experience days with Year 11 students or formal mentorship programmes at university level, we are dedicated to positively making an impact and making hospitality a career of choice.”


Eileen Donnelly

A Manchester-based business which specialises in workplace wellbeing and mental health support services is launching an app to make logging information easier for colleagues and managers.

Ripple & Co specialises in developing evidence-informed, wellbeing strategies and policies for businesses across the UK. As well as offering various wellbeing, leadership team development and mental health products, it has developed an innovative training solution which gives line managers the confidence and skills to support their employees, and create an open culture where employees feel psychologically safe, satisfied and able to deliver their best work.

During lockdown Ripple & Co said it has also developed a unique to market product which supports those in the business who have been designated the go-to person for colleagues experiencing poor mental health. They are trained to be wellbeing champions and mental health first aiders. But quite often they have their own history of mental ill health and the employer’s duty of care must extend to these, too. Ripple & Co recognised not only the importance of supporting these volunteers, but also the opportunity to amplify their work through an empowered peer-to-peer support network.

The app, currently in development, will enable the volunteers to securely track their interactions with colleagues, provide valuable insight and real time visibility of the company’s wellbeing footprint, ultimately transforming workplace culture and mental health.

The business was founded by Eileen Donnelly who, for more than two decades, worked for large corporates building purpose-driven and workplace culture strategies. She said: “As the country opens up and we return to our offices and workplaces, I think a lot of employers will realise the significant value of focusing on wellbeing. As leading neurologists and scientists predict a global wave of mental ill health is set to follow the pandemic, companies who recognise the proven return on investment in wellbeing will be the ones who ensure they have a workforce that is healthy and future fit.”


TapTrip founders, from left: Jack Timblin, Neil Ruth, Thomas Young

Innovative business travel company TapTrip has teamed up with Trainline Partner Solutions (TPS), Trainline’s B2B arm and a leading distributor of global rail content, to further elevate and streamline its service to business users as rail becomes the primary source of travel for more and more domestic business customers post-COVID.

Within the current TapTrip platform users can already save train tickets directly to their itinerary, so the mobile ticket is accessible alongside any other travel documents. Thanks to the partnership with TPS, TapTrip users will now have access to greater rail coverage than before, plus other added perks and flexibility to make booking and managing travel and expenses even easier.

With the addition of Trainline technology, users will be able to process rail ticket refunds within the TapTrip platform itself. For businesses, it means managing refunds for employee travel is both quicker, and more efficient as everything is in one place.

The move to further TapTrip’s rail inventory comes after a year of substantial growth for the business. In the past 12 months the company has secured significant new funding to aid expansion, branching out into several new vertical sectors and nearly doubling its workforce. Most recently, it expanded into the marine and energy industry with new product Vessul, which has since become TapTrip’s fastest selling product, revolutionising the way crew rotation travel is managed in the sector.

Thomas Young, CEO and co-founder of TapTrip, said: “The Trainline platform leads the market for a reason – their technology and UX is simply some of the best in the business. It’s been really exciting to see how the integration of their systems can help us refine and optimise our rail inventory, improving efficiency for users at a time when rail travel is fast becoming the number one choice for business travel.”

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