North West business briefs: UK Electronics; Network Rail; Stagecoach; Fibrus Broadband; GaraDry; Private Client Solicitors

Neil Carr and Ian Duckworth

Oldham-based UK Electronics has made the move to employee ownership (EO) following the sale of all its shares to an employee ownership trust. The firm specialises in the manufacture of electronic assemblies, providing a completely comprehensive, cost-effective service to customers who choose to outsource their PCB assembly, electronic design, final build, and any test requirements.

Neil Carr and Ian Duckworth purchased the company in 2003 and have been instrumental in supporting and financing the development and expansion of UK Electronics, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, by investing in people, skills, and the latest technology available.

Director, Neil Carr, said: “Upon deciding to step away from the business, it was extremely important to Ian and me to find a way to recognise the hard work and efforts of all the employees at UK Electronics who have been instrumental to its growth and success. We’ve long had a policy of training junior staff on the job and promoting from within so the move to employee ownership is not only a way of retaining all our staff but also a way to continue our market leading legacy and values. The new management team have the right skills to take the business forward.”

Ian Duckworth, also a director, said: “It seems appropriate that in UK Electronics’ 4 th year and 20 years after we acquired the company, we have made this important change. The great thing about employee ownership is that our valuable customers and suppliers will not notice any difference in the short term because our dedicated employees will still be providing the same high quality service. In the long term we expect the move to employee ownership will help the business to get even better, which was a key attraction to us of the employee ownership model.”

Neil and Ian will remain involved in the business as directors, with Martin Ainsworth taking over from Neil as managing director, Caroline Newton as supply chain director, and Philip Knapton taking over from Ian as finance director.

National law firm TLT provided legal advice, led by Douglas Roberts and Nimarta Cheema, with Holly Bedford and Dominic Lay of K3 Tax Advisory advising on tax matters and corporate finance support from Stuart Lees and Susan Lees of Signia Corporate Finance.


Rail passengers in Network Rail’s North West and Central region are advised to check with their train operator and plan journeys in advance over the Christmas period when upgrade and maintenance work will take place on some of the region’s routes.

The essential upgrades on the West Coast main line, Chiltern main line and routes in the West Midlands, North West and Cumbria, have been carefully planned to impact the fewest number of passengers. Network Rail is investing £15m this festive season on: Improving and maintaining track, overhead electrical wires and signalling equipment on the southern approach to Birmingham New Street station; upgrading Platform 3 at Lichfield Trent Valley station, following work completed in the summer to remove the old platform. A replacement deck will be installed and reopened on the Cross City line in the new year; continuing with work to connect the Strategic Rail Freight Terminal at Northampton to the West Coast main line for freight trains to start using the terminal in 2024; improving and maintaining track, overhead electrical wires, signalling equipment and bridges from Euston to Crewe; vital repairs to steelwork and drainage near Manchester Piccadilly station; maintenance work along the track at Oxenholme in the Lake District.

While improvements take place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, HS2 will continue with construction work for the Curdworth Box which will take new high speed trains over existing rail lines as they travel from London and Birmingham before joining the West Coast main line in Staffordshire. Most of the improvements will happen during the traditional railway shutdown from the end of service on Christmas Eve until the railway fully reopens on December 27.

However, some of the work could impact journeys after then so passengers are advised to plan their journeys in advance by visiting

Dave Penney, Network Rail’s North West and Central region passenger director, said: “I know there is never a good time to disrupt journeys while we carry out large pieces of work but whenever possible we do this at times when there are significantly fewer people travelling by train, such as Christmas and other bank holidays. I appreciate people have important plans, so I urge them to please plan ahead and check before they travel for the latest journey information.”


L1 Bus Station

A highly anticipated night bus service, linking Liverpool and Birkenhead, will return from next week. Late night revellers and shift workers will soon be able to travel across the Mersey into the early hours of the morning as part of a new trial being launched in the Liverpool City Region.

The N1, which will be operated by Stagecoach, will enter service just before half midnight on Friday, December 8, with buses running every hour until around 5am every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, has worked with local campaign groups, students and the hospitality industry to reinstate the service, which had previously been removed by private operators during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Steve Rotheram said: “We’re about to enter the busiest time of the year for our visitor economy and, while we want everyone to have a great time celebrating in our region, we also want them to get home safely. This a massive result for local people, many who have been campaigning for this moment for three years. Following our decision to take back control of the region’s buses and move towards a franchised system, this is another positive step on the journey to putting the public back at the heart of public transport.”

The new night bus service will run between Birkenhead and Allerton with stops across Liverpool city centre. The route also includes dozens of stops serving Toxteth, Wavertree and Mossley Hill. Tickets will cost £2, in line with the reduced adult single fare introduced by the Mayor in September 2022.

Matt Davies, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside, said: “We are pleased to be working with the Mayor and are excited to relaunch this much-anticipated commercial Night Bus Service, creating new links and better coverage than what we have had previously and with a much lower fare, addressing the need for accessible and affordable transportation during late night hours.”


Full fibre broadband company, Fibrus Broadband, is the new official shirt sponsor for Workington Town Rugby Club for the next two seasons, having already invested in the club, with the ground now known as the Fibrus Community Stadium.

The company is currently sponsoring the new ladies’ team, who were able to play their first ever competitive league game last season, thanks to Fibrus’s investment in the club.

Graeme Peers, director and commercial partnerships manager at Workington Town RLFC, said: “Fibrus will be our principal front of playing shirt sponsor for Workington Town RLFC men’s team for the next two seasons, meaning both the Workington Town men and ladies will play with their logo at the Fibrus Community Stadium. We would like to place our sincere thanks to Stephen Calvin at Myers and Bowman Toyota for their sponsorship in the 2023 season and their support off the field over recent years.”

Chris Collins, head of network build and maintenance, Cumbria, at Fibrus, said: “We’re proud to be partnered with Workington Town, and to be represented by the club on the front of their kit for the upcoming seasons. Sport – much like broadband – is about bringing people together and uniting communities. Workington Town Rugby Club acts as a hub for the local community here, and we, too, have an important role to play in the wider community as we continue to build critical infrastructure across Cumbria.”

Fibrus has further demonstrated its support for Cumbrian sport this year by launching its Play it Forward fund, which has been providing grants to nearly 20 Cumbrian grassroots sports clubs. It also sponsors the Fibrus 100, the first Cumbrian cricket league for girls. This investment sits alongside The Fibrus Community Fund, in which Fibrus has invested £60,000 this year to tackle digital poverty across Cumbria.


Duke of Gloucester and Ashley Smith

Ormskirk-based firm GaraDry has received its King’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category during a visit by The Duke of Gloucester.

Ashley Smith, 43, who founded the company in 2009, attended Buckingham Palace during the summer to celebrate his company’s achievement. The actual award was presented by The Duke of Gloucester last week. Managing director, Mr Smith, said: “We were thrilled to receive the visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester who presented our team with this award which will now take pride of place in our reception. We are all delighted and humbled for our company, which started off life in a garden shed, to receive this accolade.

“It encourages us even further to continue designing innovative products for people all over the world. This has been a great year for GaraDry and this is the perfect springboard for us as we work on our growth plans for 2024.”

Ashley Dalton Labour MP for West Lancashire, said: “It is good to see innovative companies like GaraDry getting recognised in this way and I’m sure this will inspire them to grow even further and continue to do great things on the international stage.”

Based in Ormskirk, Lancashire, GaraDry designs, manufactures, and sells the world’s largest range of threshold seals for residential garage doors and commercial doors. GaraDry opened a subsidiary in the USA in 2017, to handle strong interest from Americans in the products and launched a fulfilment centre in Tennessee to ship transatlantic orders quickly. A warehouse was also set up in Germany in 2022 to fulfil all EU orders and smooth the challenges of Brexit.


Tasnim Khalid

North West law firm, Private Client Solicitors, has announced a partnership with dementia charity, Together Dementia Support (TDS), to aid the growing number of families across the region affected by the condition.

The arrangement will see the law firm draft wills for those helped by TDS and their families on a pro bono basis. Founder and managing partner, Tasnim Khalid, has described how the move demonstrated the firm’s desire to “put our skills to use where they are they most needed”.

She said: “Dementia is a quite horrible disease, robbing hundreds of thousands of people across the country of the ability to perform even basic tasks. As we know from our own families and friends, it also takes an immense toll on those caring for people diagnosed as having the condition. Managing their everyday lives and financial affairs can be a real challenge, so we are only too delighted to do what we can to alleviate some of the anxiety which it can create.”

TDS was founded in 2014 by its chief executive, Sally Ferris, following her research about how best to help those living with dementia. Since its launch, TDS has supported more 1,000 dementia sufferers and their loved ones at various venues across Manchester and Trafford throughout the year. In addition to social group sessions involving walking, arts and crafts activities, the charity offers one-to-one home support.

Private Client Solicitors and TDS will host clinics on the third Thursday of every month at the charity’s head office in Hulme’s Kath Locke Centre. Anyone wishing to take up the facility is advised to contact the charity in advance to book an appointment.