North West business briefs: English Lakes Hotels; Enspec; Evolution; Shoosmiths; St Helens Chamber; Magenta Living

Daniel Winstanley

A head chef from a Lake District hotel group has been selected to join a research team travelling to Ecuador to find out about more sustainable food production techniques and farming.

Daniel Winstanley from the English Lakes Hotels Culinary Academy applied to take part in the initiative through Kendal College to explore new practices in farming land management, crop growing, energy and water resourcing. Under the UK Government’s Turing Scheme training programme, the group will be staying and working at Río Muchacho organic farm and eco-lodge, an internationally recognised exemplar of sustainable land management through permaculture design and agro-ecology.

Nestled in a small valley on the coast of Ecuador, the 10-hectare sustainable farm features ‘food forests’, extensive vegetable gardens, pasture, agroforestry areas and models of alternative energy. More than 100 crops are rotated throughout the year and the farm is also home to a diverse range of livestock.

During his two-week placement as a working member of the farm team, Daniel will learn about optimising food production and crop growing using permaculture principles and design ecosystems, renewable energy and water recycling. Daniel, a member of the Masterchefs of Great Britain, said: “Our role will be to look at different food production and sourcing methods and practices which can be adopted and adapted for the UK and which can achieve low carbon solutions.

“I hope I will return with knowledge and skills to benefit English Lakes Hotels in terms of sustainability, food waste reduction and more efficient cooking methods. This will feed into our ongoing engagement with local suppliers and add to our training offer with the Culinary Academy based here at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa.”

English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues managing director, Ben Berry, said: “The funded research trip offers Daniel the chance to look at more sustainable working practices in food production and maximising use of fruit and vegetables for less waste. We are also taking measures to purchase carbon offsets for Daniel’s flights.”


Tim and Mara Rastall

Enspec, a St Helens-based power quality engineering company, has completed a management buyout, for an undisclosed sum, along with the appointment of a new chief executive and chief technical officer.

Husband and wife, Tim and Mara Rastall, are the new co-leaders of the business. Tim, who has been with Enspec for a decade, is the new CTO and Mara is taking the position of CEO. The pair were previously directors alongside Enspec’s sibling founders David and Stephen Jones and have bought the majority share of the business.

The MBO heralds a new era for Enspec, with the company forecasting further growth during 2023. Mara said: “We’re delighted and honoured to have completed this MBO. Myself and Tim are excited to be taking the reins during an exciting period for not just Enspec, but for the energy industry also. The energy industry is growing and there are more players in the market than there have ever been before. With 10 times the amount of renewable projects in planning and development than those in operation, Enspec will continue to play an active part in the net zero revolution, not just in the UK, but globally.”

The company, which also has a design and manufacturing site in Newcastle, provides a range of services to its customer base, including power system studies, power quality analysis, renewable energy consultancy and site maintenance. Enspec also designs, manufactures and commissions bespoke products.

Following the MBO, David and Stephen Jones said: “Enspec has enjoyed rapid growth of late in an industry that is subject to rapid change. The last almost quarter of a century has been an incredible journey. We are a family-run business and offered Tim and Mara the opportunity to buy the business due to them very much being part of the family. Under their leadership, and with support from the wider leadership team, Enspec will continue to thrive.”


Get into Construction course in Fleetwood

A pioneering construction business has joined an initiative to help give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a better start in life. Blackpool-based Evolution creates positive social impact across the communities it serves through more than a decade of success in the construction industry.

Managing director, JJ Fitzgerald, is passionate about helping to give young people, who might otherwise slip through the net, access to opportunities to build a career, so Evolution is partnering with organisations on the Fylde Coast to help teenagers not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).

JJ said: “It’s about changing people’s lives. We renovate houses to give people quality homes and we provide jobs which help people build a better life. Having a roof over your head and being able to feed yourself are two of the basic essentials of life. We can help people with both by providing training and employment opportunities.”

Evolution has linked up with Fleetwood Trust, Calico and The Prince’s Trust to provide NEET young people with work experience as part of short-courses to help them on the road to employment. JJ said: “I always take the view that ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. I had my mum to get me back on track when I was young but not everyone has that.”

Evolution joined the Get into Construction programme in Fleetwood to provide hands-on work experience for a group of seven young people. It worked with Calico, a skills and training provider, to offer the work experience for the course. Chris Marsh, an apprentice engagement officer at Calico, said: “We worked on health and safety in construction, asbestos awareness, wellbeing, team building and communication skills. Team building was the best thing to get them motivated together and problem solving. At the end of the course they sat their Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) test and received a green card qualification.”


Luke Stubbs

Law firm Shoosmiths has been appointed to The Co-operative Bank’s legal panel.

The firm’s appointment is on a full-service basis, spanning areas including real estate, tax, employment, corporate and commercial matters, as well as funding and regulation. The panel covers operations in England and Wales and is due to run until December 2025.

Luke Stubbs, Manchester commercial partner at Shoosmiths, will be leading the client team appointed on the panel and the client will be supported by experts from across Shoosmiths, including Liz Sweeney (banking) and Sarah Teal (restructuring).

Stubbs said: “This is an exciting appointment for Shoosmiths, particularly in Manchester. The firm has extensive experience advising national banking and finance clients and many of our team have already supported the Bank on a number of strategic projects.

“We’re looking forward to strengthening our relationship with the bank’s team, while providing full service legal support, backed up by specialists from across Shoosmiths. Our aim is to help the bank deliver its long term objectives and commitment to ethical, environmental and community matters – a shared vision that shapes our legal approach.”


St Helens Chamber

St Helens Chamber has launched its first annual Expo to showcase the best of the region, on May 17, at Totally Wicked Stadium. It will combine four zones to support businesses, suppliers/buyers and local people looking for work or training.

Rachel Wellens, events, education and partnerships manager at St Helens Chamber, said: “We are happy to be hosting this new event in St Helens. There is so much great work happening in the borough, and so much support available, we wanted to get this all in one place.”

The four zones are an employment zone, business zone, supply chain zone, and local skills improvement zone. Rachel said: “St Helens Expo will give people a chance to explore everything St Helens has to offer, from business to employment opportunities, opportunities to have your say on local skills needs and more. It also provides a perfect time to speak to some of the biggest suppliers/buyers in our region.”

The chamber is expecting a footfall of around 1,000 people throughout the day. There will also be four breakout sessions available where delegates and exhibitors can hear from industry experts sharing their advice and best practice, covering access to finance, digital marketing, international trade and business start-up and franchising.

Rachel said: “The breakout sessions have top local businesspeople as guest speakers. At the chamber we strongly believe that working collaboratively is the best way to take the borough forward and create even more opportunities, so we’re confident their insights will be useful to many attendees.”


Sharon Graham

Strikes at Birkenhead social housing landlord Magenta Living by more than 100 maintenance and repair workers have ended after a deal regarding safe working with asbestos was agreed.

The workers began strike action in February over a change in the organisation’s asbestos policy that compelled them to handle the substance if they came across it in a property, said trade union Unite. It said the new agreement stipulates that for those technicians who have opted out there will be no requirement for them to undertake essential tasks with asbestos.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “This is an excellent result for our members at Magenta Living that was achieved by them standing together in their union. The safety of our members is non-negotiable and Unite always supports workers concerned about their health and wellbeing in the workplace.”

Magenta Living is a housing association that manages 13,000 properties, mainly in the Wirral.

Unite regional officer, John Sheppard, said: “Our members at Magenta Living are pleased that this deal has been struck and will now return to work as normal.”

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