North West business briefs: Mitchell Charlesworth; Browne Jacobson; A Few Scoops; UTP Group; Edge; Building Equality

Phil Hartley
X The Business Desk

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During the COVID-19 pandemic Mitchell Charlesworth has helped businesses in the North West access more than £3.6m from the Government’s research and development (R&D) tax credit initiative.

The average amount of R&D tax relief received by clients was more than £42,000. Successful claims have been made across a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, technology, construction and professional services. Not all of these industries are offering high tech solutions or groundbreaking research and the R&D tax relief is available across a wide range of business activities.

Phil Hartley, tax director and R&D specialist at Mitchell Charlesworth, said: “As we draw closer to the end of the pandemic, I look back on this period of uncertainty with great pride at the support that we have been able to provide to our clients through R&D tax relief, which, in some instances, has been crucial to allowing the companies to not only survive but to grow during the past 18 months.

“R&D tax credits are continuing to play a crucial role in supporting companies with their innovative activities and we have seen an increasing number of companies looking to make a first time claim for the relief during 2021.”

He added: “However, it is important to note that HMRC have recently issued a consultation document on R&D which indicates they are looking to ensure that the scheme ‘remains up to date, competitive and well targeted’. This suggests that changes to the relief are coming.”

The Chartered Accountants and business advisers employs more than 160 staff across four offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Widnes and Chester.


Peter Allen

Browne Jacobson’s North West-based corporate team, led by partner Peter Allen, has advised British farmer-owned dairy co-operative First Milk on its strategic investment into soil carbon measurement company, Agricarbon.

Dundee based start-up business Agricarbon was set up by Scottish farming entrepreneur, Stewart Arbuckle, data services entrepreneur and decarbonisation expert, Annie Leeson, and technology commercialisation expert, Alan Strong. The business aims to support the reduction of CO2 in the agricultural industry through its unique service which helps its global customer base scientifically quantify its soil carbon stock.

Agricarbon has already been working in partnership with Glasgow-based First Milk and Nestlé on a pioneering large scale soil carbon capture project using state-of-the-art machinery to run an intensive soil carbon analysis.

The Browne Jacobson team comprised Manchester-based corporate partner Peter Allen, senior associate Ryan Brown and associate Bethany Pickup, supported by expert input from the Browne Jacobson employment and IP teams.

Peter Allen said: “This is a fantastic investment for First Milk and is a significant step towards the First Milk business fulfilling its net zero pledge. It reflects a growing focus across all industries, including us in the legal sector, to address issues of sustainability in our own businesses. We were delighted to act for long standing client First Milk in achieving this step and look forward to seeing the great things which the team at Agricarbon can achieve with the support of First Milk and other investors in the future.”


A Few Scoops, which specialises in alcohol-infused ice cream, sorbets and ice pops, has launched its new eight-week pop-up concept at Selfridges Trafford, via its show-stopping pink push bike barlour, affectionately known as Dolly.

Boozy flavours from the Manchester ice cream maker include an Espresso Martini Ice Cream, Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Pina Colada Ice Cream (vegan), as well as alcohol-free options such as Oreo Shake Ice cream, Biscoff Shake Ice Cream and Cream Soda Ice Cream. There will also be boozy and non-boozy vegan sorbets, such as a refreshing Mojito Sorbet (with alcohol) and a Vimto Sorbet (without).

Owner and founder of A Few Scoops, Alanna Atkinson, said: “When we started A Few Scoops, we knew we didn’t want a standard ice cream van, we wanted something that was different and joyful, something that people would want to capture and share with friends.

“We’ve had such an amazing summer, touring events and festivals all around the North West, we’re so excited to be working with Selfridges on our next chapter of events.”

The eight-week stint at Selfridges Trafford began on August 26.


UTP, a provider of market leading credit and debit card payment solutions which recently opened a Manchester office, is launching a new eBook for SMEs, offering advice in how to future-proof their businesses.

The eBook, entitled ‘Never Going Back: How SMEs can future-proof for post-pandemic success’ explains how a secure, fast, and smart payments infrastructure can help SMEs become more resilient and adaptable to events such as natural disasters and trade restrictions.

Chief executive, Michael Ault, said: “We may not live in a cashless society just yet, but it’s clear that cash is diminishing in usage, and the sooner any business can start taking digital payments, the better prepared for the future they’ll be. And with digital payment acceptance in place, small businesses can drill into a goldmine of data analytics that can tell them who their customers are, how they pay and how best to reach them with targeted offers generated by their preferences. That’s yet another way businesses can ensure they get future-proofed with ease.”

It is fundamental changes to how we shop that inspired UTP to create its eBook. In it, the business shares how SMEs can use available payments and commerce options to protect their revenues in any eventuality – even those that cannot be predicted.

The free eBook can be downloaded via the ‘news’ section of UTP’s website.


Vape brand, Edge, has partnered with the UK’s third-largest supermarket, Asda, in a landmark win for the Stockport-based business. The partnership will see Edge’s latest premium vaping products available in 615 participating Asda stores across the UK, marking the first significant outing for the brand in a major retail environment – beyond smaller convenience locations and online retail.

Edge’s said its strict adherence to regulatory legislation and concern for public health have been backed by the major retailer, with the induction of Edge products further validating the business’s efforts towards becoming the safest and most trusted vaping brand in the world.

Established in 2016, the company realised the demand for its products far outweighed the local shops it was previously stocked in – launching its online store in 2019.

Chris Carr, sales director at Edge, said: “We are thrilled to have found such common ground with Asda in our joint aspiration to provide our customers with reliable easy access to only the finest quality, affordable vaping products. Not only will this partnership help us to understand and connect with our customers in a more meaningful way, but furthers our mission to help people quit smoking by making the vaping experience more accessible to all.”

He added: “All of our e-liquids are produced right here in the UK at our newly redeveloped ISO-accredited production facility. We use only the highest quality ingredients available, and we pride ourselves on providing exceptional quality.


Building Equality – the construction industry’s LGBTQ+ alliance – is excited to be bringing the iconic Manchester Pride selfie favourite, the Rainbow JCB back for its annual outreach event on Exchange Square today (August 27).

While Manchester Pride may be a little different this year, Building Equality was determined to organise an event that enables it to safely show its support of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community. Building Equality members from more than 50 construction organisations will be on Exchange Square all day showcasing the accessibility of the construction industry to LGBTQ+ individuals and other minority groups.

Members will be offering advice and guidance to anyone interested in construction, the work of Building Equality and the career opportunities within the sector, in the shadow of the famous Rainbow JCB, provided by long term supporter P.Flannery Plant Hire.

Lucy Bradbury, Building Equality Greater Manchester co-chair, said: “Building Equality are so proud to be able to host our fourth public outreach day at Exchange Square on Friday, 27th August. We aim to challenge and change preconceived perceptions of the construction and engineering industry by visibly demonstrating and celebrating our diversity and inclusivity.

“We won’t be attending Manchester Pride in the usual fashion this year, but we still need to demonstrate the incredible progress the industry has made by supporting the LGBTQ+ community, as well as some of the challenges we’re still working to address. As with all our events this year, we are fundraising for the George House Trust.”