North West business briefs: Pets Choice; DAM Health; Preston City Centre BID; Everkool; Lifeshare

David Taylor and Tony Raeburn

Pet food, healthcare and accessories manufacturer, Pets Choice, has acquired The Hatchwell Company, which manufactures treats and hygiene products for dogs, cats and small animals, for an undisclosed sum.

Tony Raeburn, CEO of Blackburn-based Pets Choice, said: “We are always looking for opportunities to expand our business, a key part of that is identifying acquisition opportunities that compliment our existing offering.

“The Hatchwell Company is a fantastic addition to our portfolio, offering high quality and great value products. Another key appealing factor for us, is that their factory is near to our Blackburn base, meaning we can further enhance opportunities in this geographical region as our company continues to grow.”

The acquisition was finalised on December 3, and brings the number of brands in the Pets Choice portfolio to 14. Pets Choice says there will be no disruption to customer service as the company changes hands.

Tony added: “This is an exciting move for our company as we expand our pet treat offering and further enhance our well rounded portfolio for all things pet.”

David and Emma Taylor, owners of The Hatchwell Company, said: “We have developed Hatchwells as our family business for 23 years, so it was very important to us to find the best buyers. We decided Pets Choice were the ideal option as they are locally based with a similar ethos to ours. We have no doubt that our brands and staff will be in safe hands – we’re excited to see what’s to come.”


Prof Frank Joseph, left, and Liam Spence

Liverpool business DAM Health has been selected as the only COVID-19 testing company in the UK to partner with a new global health passport app.

DAM, which operates clinics throughout the UK, is a Government-approved expert for coronavirus testing and its status has now been reaffirmed after Health Passport Worldwide selected the firm as its only British partner. The company will also partner DAM Health exclusively in Spain, too.

It means holidaymakers booking a mandatory PCR test with DAM Health will see their PCR and lateral flow test results uploaded on to the health passport app – providing greater reassurance and confidence for travel plus a smoother process at airports around the world. DAM Health director of partnerships, Liam Spence said: “This will make it much easier for people travelling, attending events or even at hospitality venues if required to prove their coronavirus status on a recognised platform – so we’re really proud of the partnership as it’ll benefit everyone using DAM Health services.

“It uses a secure digital technology to provide a mobile health passport system and your vaccination or test result can only be updated by a medical professional upon your consent, giving you direct access to your personal status which you can display or scan whenever appropriate. There’s no tracking involved, nor GPS or bluetooth, so it’s completely safe and secure. This is part of a wider strategic partnership with health passport which will see us provide medical testing in other areas which will be included on the mobile app.”

The Mossley Hill-based company, headed by Prof Frank Joseph, has clinics across the UK, Europe and Mexico, is also the selected testing partner for high profile outfits including Scottish Rugby, Glasgow Rangers FC and Crystal Palace FC.


One of the speakers

Preston city centre’s high street has become the first destination in the country to install an audible messaging system to welcome people back to their city centre and say ‘thank you’ for their continued support. In partnership with local audio technology company, Audiebant, the Business Improvement District (BID) has commissioned two audio-messaging systems, one on Friargate and one on Fishergate.

The system will play scheduled messages sharing information on key events, activities, and campaigns within the city centre to passers-by. While discreet, and non-intrusive, the announcements are currently interspersed with some festive music while people visit for their Christmas shopping.

The system also provides for key safety messages to be shared, especially relevant in light of the recent changes to legislation surrounding the wearing of face masks. A new message has been recorded and installed thanking people for playing their part and wearing a face covering inside retail premises, where they are not exempt from doing so.

The audible messages also include some ideas of where to visit, what to do in the city centre, and also details of free events and activities for the family. While it is hoped that it is never needed, the system has the option for officials to dial in to the speakers to issue urgent, real-time, safety and emergency messages to people on the high street. The system also has the potential to ask for public support in certain scenarios.

A spokesperson for Preston BID said: “We’re happy to be teaming up with Audiebant to be the first high street to install these discreet speakers to share important and useful information with visitors. Preston’s high street relies on the unwavering support of local people choosing to spend time, and make purchases here, and we wanted to say ‘thank you’ to those people in a discreet and friendly way.”


Craig Greenwood

Liverpool air conditioning and ventilation specialist, Everkool, is to roll out groundbreaking air and ground source heat pumps to Liverpool homes in 2022 after the company won a contract to provide several new-build residential developments with the new technology.

The Bootle based company has been a provider of air conditioning and ventilation to many of the region’s organisations such as Merseytravel, and Epic Hotels. However, following a collaborative research project with the University of Liverpool, the company is now making significant investment into ground source and air source heat pumps which can be used as a more efficient replacement for gas boilers.

By 2025 the Government has announced all new homes built will be banned from using gas fired boilers and homes will need to be heated using low carbon alternatives such as air source heat pumps. Currently, Everkool is installing an air source heat pump in the City Suites Hotel in Manchester and has recently won a contract to provide air source heat pumps to several residential properties in Liverpool for 2022.

Everkool founder, Craig Greenwood, said: “We are really excited by the prospect of this new technology, our bread and butter is air conditioning and ventilation, but the skills required for HVAC are extremely transferable to what is needed for the installation of air source heat pumps.

“There is a huge drive from the Government to make homes across the UK more energy efficient, they’re particularly keen on greater investment in alternatives to gas fired boilers.”


Matt Legg and Judith Vickers at New Victoria

The team behind the New Victoria residential development, next to Manchester’s Victoria rail station, has come to the rescue of a local homeless charity by offering facilities, food and a raft of support to make sure its ‘at risk’ annual Christmas Project can go ahead.

New Victoria partners, main contractor VINCI Construction UK, urban regenerator Muse Developments, and site owner Pension Insurance Corporation, have all come together to offer Lifeshare – Manchester’s oldest charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people in the city – the location for its Christmas Project, funding for the food, rafts of volunteers and a series of other much needed resources.

Lifeshare’s Christmas Project has run for 34 years and offers homeless people and those in crisis a place to find hot meals, companionship, medical and personal care, shower facilities, veterinary care and other amenities with the aim to reduce isolation and bring people together over the Christmas period. During the pandemic in 2020, the service was drastically cut down for safety reasons, and this year Lifeshare was struggling to find a location suitable for the week, December 23-29.

Matt Legg, VINCI’s project manager for the New Victoria scheme, said: “We’d been chatting with Lifeshare since VINCI started on the New Victoria scheme, wondering how we could help a local based service. After hearing the possibility that the Christmas Project might not go ahead, it just dawned on us that our construction shuts down for Christmas and all the staff welfare buildings are free and available. We have kitchens, space, bathrooms and it seemed silly not to offer the site.”

Judith Vickers, operations manager at Lifeshare, said: “We cannot explain how amazing this donation is. I was really starting to panic that we had no location to hold this year’s Christmas Project – a scheme that helps so many people at what is one of the worst times of the year if you’re on the streets. We owe a lot to VINCI and the other parties involved. I’m really hoping that after the horrendous few years people have had, this Christmas may bring some much needed festive cheer and real, tangible support for those in need.”