North West business briefs: Sutton Kersh; First Bus; United Utilities; Plasma Clean; TalkTalk

The Bolton church

Sutton Kersh Auction’s penultimate event of the year saw the first property offered sell for £333,000 over its guide price. There were 450 people registered for the October auction, which resulted in a total of £8.2m-worth of property sold so far. The auction echoed the trends of the national property market with residential investment properties receiving multiple offers and bids both prior to the event and on the day itself.

The team sold £1.4m-worth of property prior and offered 80 lots at the auction on the day, and the auction got off to a sensational start with Lot 1, a three-storey detached former church building in Bolton, which has been converted to provide 16 self-contained flats, together with a manager’s office, ancillary staff facilities and communal areas. An intense bidding war took place, lasted almost 20 minutes, resulting in the property selling for £333,000 over its guide price.

Lot 5 also gained great interest as vacant land is currently in high demand. This particular plot is at the junction of Warbreck Moor and Hall Lane in L9 and had a guide price of £100,000, but sold for £181,000.

There were eight lots that had a guide price of under £40,000 and all sold for over their guide. Lot 38 received a lot of interest and with a high number of bidders eager to get this property it ended up selling for £63,000 over its guide price. It was a three-bed mid-terraced property in Bootle, L20. The other seven properties were a mixture of apartments and mid-terraced homes.

Another property in Bootle also had strong interest, a three-bed double-fronted detached house on Breeze Hill in L20, in need of a full upgrade and refurbishment, which had a guide of £90,000 and sold for £134,000. Lot 25, a three-bed mid-terraced property in need of full renovation on Rice Lane in L9, sold for £87,000, which was £37,000 over its guide price. Another mid terraced property which caused a stir was on Rydal Street in L5. It had a guide of £55,000 and sold for £86,500.

Associate direcgtor, Cathy Holt, said: “I am delighted with today’s results for our vendors, we achieved over £880,000 in total above reserve for our clients. The property market is still buoyant and an attractive investment for many. Auction lots in areas where properties have a high yield once again performed really well at auction and are still proving popular with investors and owner-occupiers.”


Programme leader Simon Bishop, left, with apprentices

First Bus has helped to establish the UK’s first bus and coach engineering academy with hybrid electric buses for training apprentices on the next generation of zero-emission vehicles. The operator has partnered with Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire, to open the national centre which started to welcome its first apprentices last month (October).

First West of England has loaned two ADL Enviro 400 VE (virtual electric) hybrids to support training in a purpose-built workshop facility dedicated to the company’s trainee engineers. Other First Bus operating business have also donated vehicles and purchased equipment. This includes an Enviro 300 from the Adderley Green depot of First Midlands, an engineering training bus from Central engineering, air tools supplied by First West Yorkshire, together with a range of spare parts and plans for a Volvo from Eastern Counties in Norwich.

Reaseheath College has invested £50,000 in new equipment. The facility adopts a work experience-style environment to help instil a workplace mindset among apprentices and maintain a seamless switch from depot to learning. Ian Warr, engineering director of First Bus, said: “Creating this academy has needed a collective effort by our businesses around the country to ensure our apprentices have the best start to their training and careers. We’ve been determined to make sure access to vehicles and equipment for technical skills development matches the superb study environment at the college.

“Zero-emission engine technologies are evolving rapidly as First Bus invests in greener fleets to reduce carbon and improve air quality. It’s vitally important that we build a pipeline of highly skilled bus engineers with the right knowledge to maintain the next generation of buses.”

Reaseheath College curriculum area manager for engineering apprentices, Katie Whiteman, said: “This exciting new collaboration with First Bus has enabled us to offer the expertise of industry professionals within a teaching and learning college environment. We have created a first class apprenticeship programme for the bus and coach sector which addresses existing skills gaps and will respond to future skills requirement within the sector.”


United Utilities ramps up search for apprentices

Warrington-based water company United Utilities is set to increase the number of apprentices it has, with the creation of a further 115 opportunities.

After a challenging 18 months for so many across the region, United Utilities has been working hard to create job opportunities and currently has 160 apprentices gaining rapid professional development and the opportunity to achieve nationally recognised qualifications, including degree-level, all while working alongside the best professionals in the business.

The company’s apprenticeship window is now open for applications. Most of the new cohort will join in September 2022, but the company is looking to welcome 12 customer service and 18 credit controller apprentices in March 2022. Lucy Perry, a current credit controller apprentice at United Utilities, has not looked back since joining the company. She said: “I can honestly say I have been given endless opportunities, I have experienced many different departments, become multi-skilled and believe with the experience and qualifications I’m gaining now, I’ll have so many job opportunities ahead of me, thanks to my apprenticeship.”

Jacqui Kawczak, apprentice delivery manager at United Utilities, said: “Due to the size of our business and the different careers within our organisation, we’re delighted to be able to offer opportunities in areas including, data scientists, quantity surveying, tanker drivers, metering technician, process operators, financial analysts, engineering, water technicians and exciting customer service roles.”

Katie Moffatt, early careers manager at United Utilities, said: “We want a truly inclusive workforce, and we continue to focus on the most vulnerable groups within the communities we serve. Every person needs opportunities to help them get ahead and we hope our virtual work experience course will inspire and attract students to apply for our apprenticeship roles.”


MSA Stockport

Plasma Clean, the Oldham-based infection prevention firm, has helped Stockport gym, Master Sken Academy, to double its occupancy levels by creating a safer environment for its members.

With class occupancy down by 75% on pre-pandemic levels, Master Sken Academy approached Plasma Clean with the aim of implementing infection control measures to give members the confidence to return to sessions. Employing a range of techologies which enable continuous disinfection, harmful microbes, viruses, bacteria and mould in the circulated air are inactivated.

Intelligent air sensors were also installed, enabling Master Sken Academy to monitor its indoor environment in real-time and take action to keep members’ and its staff’s health and wellbeing protected from the potential negative effects of poor air quality.

Steve Keogh, Plasma Clean CEO, said: “Our market leading technology means Master Sken Academy can be assured that their members and staff remain happy, healthy and safe whilst on their premises, whilst also providing a revenue recovery solution through the doubling of their class sizes.“

Mike Richardson, owner and senior Instructor at Master Sken Academy, said: “Plasma Clean’s expertise and research-led approach provided us with a thorough understanding of the solutions needed to ensure safe air quality levels in the day-to-day running of our gym. Both our staff and gym users are now at ease and have a greater level of confidence to continue to push hard in their training sessions, knowing they’re in a safe and clean environment.”


Manchester Academy of Gymnastics

With ‘Restart a Heart Day’ taking place in October and highlighting the importance of swift CPR action, Salford-based connectivity provider TalkTalk recently supported the Manchester Academy of Gymnastics in their goal to purchase a defibrillator by providing the funds to make the necessary purchase.

The donation to the Manchester Academy of Gymnastics follows TalkTalk’s long standing sponsorship of Salford City Football Club. Based in Salford, the gymnastics academy is just one of the six sports clubs across Greater Manchester benefiting from a TalkTalk donation, with each choosing a different use for their money.

Maxine Quinlivan-Grech, one of the founders of the Manchester Academy of Gymnastics, said: “We’re thrilled to have received this donation from TalkTalk. We have seen interest in gymnastics rise over the last few months and we only expect this to continue thanks to the Olympics. The money donated by TalkTalk will be put towards a defibrillator that could one day save a gymnast’s life or a member of our community.

“We want our young gymnasts to feel supported and safe while performing a high intensity sport and pushing themselves to the limits. Should they, or anyone in the community, need our help, we’re thankful to TalkTalk for helping us invest in the necessary equipment.”

Becki Smith, general manager, Ultrafast at TalkTalk, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to help the Manchester Academy of Gymnastics continue bringing the local community together by providing funding for a defibrillator.”

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