North West briefs: Bluebell Fitted Furniture; Parfetts; Old Stamp House; Winter Gardens; Sovini Group; Everton FC; Peel Ports Group

Bluebell Fitted Furniture

Cheshire-based Bluebell Fitted Furniture, a provider of bespoke and high quality furniture, has completed a management buyout, as it looks to continue to build its long established brand and move to its next phase of growth.

Established in 1992 by Alison and Mike Reuben, the firm manufactures and supplies both consumer and business clients with solutions for the bedroom, kitchen, home study and media rooms. The firm has been acquired by James Ordsmith and Stephen Capel, who Alison and Mike have mentored as their ‘adopted sons’ for many years in the business. Continuing on at the business as non-executive directors, Alison and Mike will maintain an active role in overseeing the day-to-day running of the business.

Commercial law firm, Kuits, provided legal advice across its corporate, commercial property and employment teams. Steven Gordon, of Smg-Cf advised Mike and Alison Reuben while accountancy firm JS, advised the incumbent management team.

Mike and Alison said: “We are not stepping away completely as we take on our new roles as non-executive directors and, as always, customer service remains our top priority.”

Helen Mather, corporate partner at Kuits, said: “We were delighted to have advised on the MBO of Bluebell Fitted Furniture, especially to see it be taken over by James and Stephen who have an exceptional understanding of the business.”

Lucy Williams, tax partner at JS, said: “This latest step for Bluebell Fitted Furniture represents an exciting opportunity, as the team continues to scale and grow. We have worked closely with Steven Gordon, to ensure a cohesive approach has been adopted to assist with the transition, with all parties focusing on the longevity of the business.”



Employee-owned wholesaler Parfetts is awarding colleagues a 10% profit share bonus to recognise their contribution to the continued growth of the business.

The move follows Stockport-based Parfetts’ announcement that sales topped £634m in the past year. The wholesaler has grown rapidly, expanding its Go Local fascia to more than 1,100 stores and opening a new depot in Birmingham. Following a year of investment into safeguarding retailer margins with an expanded promotional plan, including significant events like the company’s annual Parfest, like-for-like sales increased by 4.7% on £605m in the previous financial year. The profit split comes after all qualified Parfetts employees received a four per cent tax-free sales bonus in July.

Guy Swindell, joint managing director of Parfetts, said: “As an employee-owned company, our people are at the heart of everything we do. It is their hard work that is driving the business forward and supporting retailers across the UK. The year ahead will continue to provide a challenging environment for retailers, and we are increasing our efforts to support their margins and give them the service they need to operate efficiently and effectively.”

Over the past 12 months, Parfetts has invested in reducing its carbon footprint by rolling out LED lighting and solar panels at its depots across the UK. The move drastically reduces the company’s carbon footprint and generates cost savings that help drive value across the business.

Noel Robinson, joint managing director of Parfetts, said: “All of our dedicated colleagues deserve praise for the outstanding service they provide all year round. As an employee-owned company, we can ensure the success of the business is shared, and hard work is rewarded.”


Ryan Blackburn

A Lake District restaurant has been named the best fine dining restaurant in the UK for the third consecutive year, as Tripadvisor announced the winners of its 2023 Travellers’ Choice ‘Best of the Best’ Restaurants awards.

The title of UK #1 Fine Dining restaurant has been awarded to the Old Stamp House, in the heart of the Lake District village of Ambleside, housed in the former office of renowned poet William Wordsworth. This intimate restaurant boasting a Michelin Star and three AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence, celebrates both the distinctive food and cultural heritage of Cumbria.

Diners are invited to experience dishes from aspects of the landscape and the coast. Dishes include Arctic charr, a traditional potted charr, with cured seaweed, pickled cucumber, dill and horseradish; Yew Tree Farm Herdwick hogget, broth, braised shoulder, celeriac, garlic and bread made with Herdwick fat; and Brambles, gingerbread, bee pollen, marigold and a sweet cheese mousse.

The Old Stamp House was also named number three in the World, behind Restaurant Bougainville, Amsterdam, in the Netherlands at number one, and Ise Sueyoshi, Nishiazabu, in Japan, at number two. The Ambleside restaurant was also named number three in the UK’s Date Night category, with its sister restaurant, Kysty, named in 10th spot in the same category.

Old Stamp House chef patron, Ryan Blackburn, said: ”Both teams constantly listen to our guests and that feedback helps us to develop, so that we can continue to deliver consistency and excellence across everything we do in both restaurants. Following on so closely from being named the AA’s Restaurant of the Year for England 2023, we’re all a little bit lost for words. But we want to say thank you to our guests, our amazing suppliers and to our team for helping us achieve all that we do.’’


Art deco bar

Winter Gardens Blackpool has unveiled a stunning Art-Deco space which saw a major refurbishment plan to reinstate the original features to provide a luxurious hideaway for guests, with table service, to enjoy while visiting the venue to watch a show.

Guests will arrive through the double sand-etched doors featuring geometric shapes and curves and walk into a space that is reminiscent of the 1939 space when the room was first built as part of the Winter Gardens complex. Welcomed by a host they will be able to take a seat on one of the seven original refurbished banquettes that have been re-sprung and recovered and admire the original wooden friezes of figurines, installed by architects Magnall and Littlewood, while enjoying a complementary pre-show drink.

At the show’s interval they can re-join the host in the intimate space with their pre-ordered drinks waiting for them on low tables, served in cut crystal glasses and make use of the private restroom facilities before returning to the theatre. The Winter Gardens’ team of designers have emphasised the era’s love of curves with a specially sourced drinks cabinet and bar to complete this intimate retreat. Green velvet is punctuated with chrome fittings, carefully placed foliage and the new hardwood, polished floor reflects the candlelight.

Michael Williams, managing director of the Winter Gardens Blackpool, said: “This is a real jewel in the Winter Gardens Blackpool crown. The team have delighted in the reinstating of this room creating the ambience of the 1930s while adding in extra features for the comfort of our discerning guests.

“All the companies used in the refurbishment are Lancashire-based and it has been a real team effort. The room has been mothballed for a number of years and we are thrilled that it is now once again open to the public for guests to take their seats and relax in this stunning space.”


Northfield Junior Football Club

Sovini Waste Solutions, part of the Liverpool-based Sovini Group, have sponsored Merseyside’s Northfield Junior Football Club.

The club was established in 1990 and currently has more than 20 teams in local leagues, allowing around 200 children access to grass roots football. The club promotes affordable prices and relies solely on volunteers to ensure the sport is attainable for all children.

Tony Beckett, operations manager at Sovini Waste Solutions, said: “We’re proud to sponsor Northfield Junior Football Club. We believe doing good is good business and focus on investing our profits back into the community. It’s great to see the positive impact this has, and we look forward to following their success.”

The sponsorship deal supports the company’s corporate social responsibility objectives, which encourage community collaboration and contribution to create a better future. Northfield Junior Football Club relies on sponsorship and donations to run sustainably. Neil Faraday, club chairman, said: “Everything from the footballs, training kits and maintenance of our training grounds are only possible because of sponsors like Sovini Waste Solutions.

“The sponsorship of our Under 8’s team has allowed us to purchase the necessary kit for the new season. Many people unfortunately don’t have the means to spend extra this year. We are thankful for being able to keep children from the local community doing the one thing they love – playing football.”


FIGS partnership

Everton FC has welcomed healthcare apparel and lifestyle brand FIGS as its latest partner in a deal that will see the US-based brand support the club and Everton in the Community’s healthcare professionals.

As part of the agreement, the first of its type in the Premier League, FIGS will supply technical clothing specifically designed for the medical teams of the Blues’ men’s and women’s senior squads. Off the pitch, FIGS will work with Everton’s club charity, Everton in the Community, to support its important efforts, which include providing health care across Merseyside and beyond.

Michelle Gaster Wasserman, FIGS’s general manager (international), said: “Partnering with Everton is a natural fit for FIGS. Our mission is to serve those who serve others, so we could not be more excited to support Everton’s medical staff as they support an elite sporting environment. This allows us to celebrate the incredible work of the many different kinds of global healthcare professionals we serve, as we continue to grow internationally. Beyond football, Everton’s charitable focus closely aligns with FIGS’s impact-oriented mission, and we look forward to making an even bigger impact with Everton in the Community.”

Mark Rollings, Everton’s director of partnerships, said: “From our very first conversation with FIGS, it was clear they were a brand whose values mirrored our own. They are people-centric and put the healthcare professionals they cater for at the very heart of their products. The support they will offer through this partnership will directly benefit the medical staff who are responsible for preparing and rehabilitating our professional players across the men’s and women’s teams, and also those delivering the life-changing and life-saving work of Everton in the Community.”

Richard Kenyon, Everton’s chief commercial and communications officer, said: “We are really pleased to welcome FIGS as our Official Healthcare Apparel Partner and to continue growing our portfolio of global partners.”


Peel Ports Group

Peel Ports Group has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions across its port facilities, cutting these by almost a third since 2020.

The reduction is revealed in the group’s new 51-page ESG report – one of the most detailed reports of its kind to be produced by any UK port operator of similar size. As the country’s second largest port operator, Peel Ports has published the document to showcase its commitments to sustainable port operations.

The independently verified figures confirm the group has reduced Scope 1 & Scope 2 emissions across its port operations by a total of 32%, against its 2020 baseline and using a market-based accounting approach. The company’s Scope 1 emissions across its port operations have fallen by 47% alone during that time, largely helped by transitioning to using biofuels instead of diesels in straddle carriers and other equipment, and through the electrification of 97% of the group’s vehicle fleet.

Claudio Veritiero, Peel Ports Group chief executive, said: “As one of the UK’s largest port operators, and a major employer in the areas in which we operate, we are fully aware of the role we need to play in driving the sustainability agenda. We took the lead within our industry when we announced our commitment to become a net-zero business by 2040, and this level of ambition has been replicated across our other focus areas of sustainability, including our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion as well as social issues.

“This report represents a stepping stone in our journey to delivering sustainable growth for the business and we remain fully committed to building on the achievements we’ve made to date while working to further embed sustainability as a driver for our future success.”