North West business briefs: Together; Manchester University; Optimum Pay Group; Department; Lancashire Cricket

Marc Goldberg

Specialist lender Together, based in Cheadle, has broken its all-time lending record for the second month in a row. The finance group, which provides personal and commercial mortgages, bridging loans and development finance across the UK, revealed its monthly figures for May – and total new lending of £300.8m.

The figure, which includes lending for commercial and personal finance, is an eight per cent increase on its previous record of £277m set in April.

Commercial CEO, Marc Goldberg, said the new record was due to the “fantastically strong” performance of sales channels across the group during the period. He said the volumes of deals had dramatically increased, with record levels of unregulated bridging and auction finance deals, and the lender’s new digital and retention channels growing, while its back book remains “resilient.”

The latest figures also revealed its highest ever monthly lending through Together’s intermediary sales team of £164.4m, with records in terms of its unregulated bridging and buy-to-let (BTL) products.

Mr Goldberg said: “These are excellent results and are testament to the hard work of all our Together colleagues. We’re delighted to have achieved this milestone figure of £300m-a-month with other records set in terms of commercial lending. It is the second month in a row that we’ve lent £100m in bridging finance, which stood at £106m in May, which, in itself, is a fantastic achievement.

“Importantly, our Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures customer satisfaction and whether they would recommend our business, reached 68 for our commercial lending teams reflecting how satisfied our customers are. We have robust plans to build on this success to help even more clients meet their ambitions.”


University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is currently hosting the third International Conference on Energy Research & Social Science, one of the largest of its kind, involving more than 400 delegates from across the world.

The conference, running from June 20-23, is unique in its global commitment to speak to cutting-edge issues of conceptual, methodological and policy concern at the intersection of energy, society and low-carbon futures. Discussions, led by presenters from all continents, will cover all aspects of energy from production to consumption, with topics including energy poverty, role of gender and just transitions.

The conference has been organised by a committee, chaired by Stefan Bouzarovski, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Manchester, of nine esteemed academics and three conference chairs from across the world. It features five eminent keynote speakers.

Conference chair, Prof Bouzarovski, said: “The conference aims to offer a vibrant and innovative forum for discussing the latest research on low-carbon energy policy transformations. We were heavily oversubscribed, having received a total of 1116 abstracts for oral and poster presentations.

“Reflecting Manchester’s heritage, we have a strong commitment to questions of justice and democracy – especially in relation to inequalities around gender, income, development, and other axes of difference – and this is also reflected in our line-up of outstanding keynote speakers and committee members.”


From left: Ian Hart (British Airways i360), Eleanor Pizzie, Louisa Targett (Optimum Pay Group), Grant Ferguson (British Airways i360)

Crewe-based Optimum Pay Group has announced a new partnership with British Airways i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower.

Standing at 162 metres high on Brighton seafront, the i360 is the world’s first vertical cable car and the world’s most slender tower; customers flying into Gatwick airport can see the spectacular attraction from the air.

Guests can board the 18-metre-wide glass viewing pod at ground level and take a flight 138 metres high where they can enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of Brighton and the Sussex coastline.

Optimum Pay Group, which currently handles more than 1,500 payroll clients monthly, will be providing British Airways i360 with all their specific payroll needs, streamlined for their employees. It will be delivering a full-service payroll departmental outsource, allowing the client to utilise its detailed understanding of the modus operandi of the payroll market for them in full detail.

Tamara Beckett, UK sales director at Optimum Pay Group, said: “Our team is made up of decades of experience in payroll process and we look forward to this being the start of a long and successful relationship with British Airways i360.”


Heather Linnitt

A new Manchester interiors store says it is pioneering a fresh approach to sustainable retail. Department, which is inspired by concepts from Stockholm and Barcelona, is the first in the North West to offer both vintage and contemporary furniture and accessories styled within a modern home setting.

The store, which occupies 157 sq ft premises on Chorlton’s Barlow Moor Road, acts as a showcase for a handpicked range of local designers, makers and dealers. It aims to provide an alternative to mass-produced homewares by offering unique pieces at accessible prices and meet the growing demand for more sustainable products.

The store has been set up by Heather Linnitt, who founded the former Blackbird home store in Leeds and has also run a successful upholstery business for 20 years.

She said: “With limited choice on the high street, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to bring a sense of individuality to their homes and for products that are more sustainable. Department offers a different approach, by showcasing the work of local makers and upholsterers and encouraging the use of vintage furniture.

“Vintage not only makes sense from a recycling point of view, it is often better value. These items may cost little more than a flatpack piece yet are better quality and built to last. Department aims to inspire people to mix old and new to create a look that is more stylish and sustainable.”


Lancashire Cricket and UA92 deal extension announced

Lancashire Cricket and Emirates Old Trafford have renewed a partnership with University Academy 92 (UA92) in a three-year deal which includes work and learning opportunities for students.

UA92, the higher education institution co-founded by the ‘Class of ’92’ and Lancaster University is based opposite Emirates Old Trafford, the home of Lancashire Cricket. The initial partnership was struck in 2018, before the opening of UA92, and Lancashire Cricket helped to co-create the curriculum alongside other strategic partners.

The university, which opened in 2019, is committed to making higher education accessible to all, no matter the background, through its founding principles of accessibility, social mobility and inclusivity. The higher education establishment offers a portfolio of degree and higher education courses across business, sport, media and digital disciplines.

The extended partnership includes a broader remit of opportunities, with Lancashire Cricket offering UA92 students work and learning opportunities across sports science, media, content, marketing, hospitality and events. Students will play a key role in specific projects at Emirates Old Trafford, offering them valuable insight and high quality experiences to bolster their higher education.

In addition, the stadium’s world-class media facilities will be renamed the UA92 Player & Media Centre, providing awareness and branding across major events and media broadcasts. UA92’s graduation ceremonies, as well as a variety of other university events, will also be hosted at The Point, the Club’s award-winning conference and event facility.