NW business briefs: DJ Battle; Merseyrail; Invest In Women Hub; Crystal Doors; Salford Business School; Bentley Motors

Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham

Metro Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram are set to face off against each other in a DJ Battle fundraiser in Liverpool.

The pair will be taking to the decks on Friday, February 2, 2024 at Camp and Furnace, as Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region go head-to-head in a good-natured music battle, all for a worthy cause. The charity event will be somewhat of a round three re-match for the pair, with their first clash taking place online during the pandemic and an award-winning follow-up in Manchester in December 2022 raising more than £25,000.

Proceeds from the night will be distributed between the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester charities, with all funds supporting initiatives to tackle homelessness and end the need for rough sleeping. In the Liverpool City Region, proceeds will be directed to homeless charities across the area through Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside. In Greater Manchester, the money will support A Bed Every Night, Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity’s flagship ongoing programme to provide emergency wrap-around support to those rough sleeping, offering guaranteed food and shelter.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “I’ve long said that our region is the undisputed home of British music and I’m looking forward to going head-to-head with Andy to settle this debate once and for all. Best of all, this year’s contest is on home soil. Despite all the light-hearted jokes we make about regional tribalism, we were absolutely blown away by the support and generosity of everyone who got behind last year’s DJ battle and donated to such a cause that’s very close to all our hearts.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “We’re coming back but this time we’re heading over to Liverpool. I was so proud of what we achieved with our DJ Battle last year, using the power of music and friendly rivalry to unite behind one powerful message, that homelessness has no place in Greater Manchester. It’s going to be bigger and better this time round, as we spread the fundraising and ramp up the noise over in Liverpool.”

Last year’s celebration at Manchester’s Mayfield Depot saw Rowetta, Nihal Arthanayake, Stanley Chow and Clint Boon show up for Manchester, while Team Liverpool boasted Peter Reid, Ian McCulloch, The Farm, and actress Sue Johnston. It famously saw Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner MP swap the despatch box for the decks, with a now viral clip of her spinning N-Trance’s ‘Set You Free’.


Merseyrail trains will be running every day over the festive period, except for Christmas Day.

Boxing Day trains will be running, with a limited service starting at approximately 09:00 and finishing at approximately 18:30, calling at selected stations across the network. This will help to support those making journeys on Boxing Day, including those heading to the races at Aintree, to the Boxing Day Sales or sporting events. Services will run every 30 minutes calling at the following stations:

Chester and Ellesmere Port lines: Services will start and terminate at Hooton calling at Bromborough, Bebington, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead Central, James St and Liverpool Central. There will be no services between Liverpool and Ellesmere Port, Chester and Hooton. New Brighton line: New Brighton, Birkenhead North, Conway Park, James St and Liverpool Central. West Kirby line: West Kirby, Leasowe, Birkenhead North, Conway Park, James St and Liverpool Central. Southport line: Southport, Birkdale, Ainsdale, Formby, Blundellsands & Crosby, Waterloo, Bootle Oriel Road, Sandhills, and Liverpool Central. Hunts Cross line: Liverpool South Parkway, St Michaels and Liverpool Central. Ormskirk line: Ormskirk, Maghull, Aintree, Orrell Park, Kirkdale, Sandhills and Liverpool Central. Headbolt Lane via Kirkby line: Headbolt Lane, Kirkby, Fazakerley, Kirkdale, Sandhills and Liverpool Central.

There will be no train services on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day a 30-minute Sunday service will run on all lines across the network.

As has been the case in previous years, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve will see services finish earlier than usual. On both days, from approximately 19:00, final services will run with trains reaching their final destination by 21:30. Customers should check the journey planner at Merseyrail.org to plan their journey. A normal timetable will be in place on all other days.


Hub launch

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT), in partnership with the Council for Investing in Female Entrepreneurs (CIFE) has unveiled the new-look Invest in Women Hub at a launch event in Manchester.

The online hub is the go-to resource for female founders seeking to understand how to access the finance needed to start, grow and scale a business. The new hub has been re-designed and updated based on feedback from founders across the UK, and collates practical resources, tools, relevant news and events to inspire and accelerate female entrepreneurship.

The refreshed hub was officially launched at a panel event hosted by UBS in Manchester, where representatives from across the entrepreneurial landscape, including female founders and investors, came together to discuss the current landscape for female entrepreneurs in Manchester and across the UK. Speakers included Pinesh Mehta, Investor at Business Growth Fund (BGF); Rohini Gupta, founder and CEO at FinregE, an automated financial regulatory compliance solution; and Helen Oldham, co-founder at Lifted Ventures, an angel investor network primed to address the lack of funding going to diverse entrepreneurs outside London and the South East.

There is a wealth of online information available for the UK’s entrepreneurs, but the fragmented nature of these resources can be confusing for founders trying to navigate an overwhelming digital landscape. The Invest in Women Hub is intended to address this issue, by serving as a reliable first port of call for female entrepreneurs all around the UK, supporting them with pathways to the finance needed to start, grow and scale a business. The site features expertise from leading financial institutions, law firms, private equity investors, advisory services companies across the UK business ecosystem who share that goal.

The Council for Investing in Female Entrepreneurs, which runs the hub, is a voluntary collective established in 2019 to encourage and support women in business, comprised of organisations including the British Business Bank, Diversity VC, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, NatWest and UBS.


From left: Richard Hagan with Mairead Platt and Stephen Hadlow (Brabners)

Rochdale-based sustainable furniture manufacturer Crystal Doors, which earlier this year became a certified B Corp, has become an employee-owned business, in a deal supported by independent law firm Brabners.

The deal, which was led by Brabners’ specialist employee ownership team, will see managing director Richard Hagan retain an active role in the business. Founded in 1994, Crystal Doors manufactures and supplies vinyl wrapped doors and accessories for kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom retailers, using wood from sustainably managed forests.

The transition to employee ownership also maintains the carbon neutral business’s commitment to halving its total value chain emissions by 2030 as it targets reaching net zero across its operation before 2050. The deal represents the 15th business Brabners has supported on the transition to employee ownership this year – its strongest year to date. The firm is home to one of the UK’s largest Employee Ownership advisory teams, led by partner Stephen Hadlow, and is also B Corp-certified.

Logros Advisory Partners provided corporate finance advice and Claritas Tax delivered tax advice on the deal.

Richard Hagan, managing director at Crystal Doors, said: “The success of Crystal Doors is owed to our people and the unparalleled culture we’ve built, so their wellbeing and participation in the future of the business is hugely important. Given our commitment to sustainable industry and a better future for the planet, becoming employee owned represents the perfect way to provide them with meaningful, shared ownership of the business.”


Subrahmaniam Krishnan Harihara

National Productivity Week ran from November 27 to December 1, and was a chance for businesses to consider how they can help boost their productivity. In a new project delivered by Salford Business School in partnership with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, businesses in the Rochdale area will be given the chance to learn about how to improve productivity rates through a dedicated programme of mentorship.

Currently in its six month pilot, the project brings together academics from Salford Business School and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the North Manchester area, to help them better use digital solutions to boost productivity across sectors. The first stage was an in-depth analysis of current productivity rates in SMEs.

Dr Maria Kutar, co-lead for the Disruptive Technologies Cluster at Salford Business School, said: “This is a really exciting collaboration with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – one which we hope will help SMEs in North Manchester to realise the benefits of technology investment to improve productivity. Productivity is a key measure of success for any business, and I look forward to working with businesses in Rochdale to support their employees to realise the benefits of new technologies, and contribute to improving productivity in the area.”

Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, deputy director – research and information systems at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are pleased to collaborate with the University of Salford Business School on this pioneering project and would like to thank all the businesses who are participating in this project. Since Greater Manchester suffers a productivity deficit relative to the national average, it is important for businesses across the Greater Manchester region to improve business efficiency and productivity. Taking a new approach with a focus on mentorship will, we hope, yield real results.”

While the pilot runs for six months, it is hoped the success of the programme will mean it can be rolled-out across businesses in the Greater Manchester area.


First response vehicles

Bentley Motors has initiated the renewal of its First Response Team fleet, with the arrival of two fully electric models to handle day-to-day activities such as medical emergencies and off-site events at the company’s UK headquarters in Crewe. The new Volkswagen ID3 and ID Cargo Buzz can be charged at 107 onsite charging points powered by more than 36,000 on-site solar panels.

The switch to electric First Response Vehicles supports Bentley’s commitment to meeting its environmental targets in line with the brand’s Beyond100 strategy, while the new vehicles are also quieter, minimising noise pollution for neighbours. From a technical standpoint they are also better placed to operate within the confines of the 10 mph speed limit in place at the Bentley site, not facing the same strains placed on their predecessors’ gearboxes and Diesel Particulate Filters.

The ID3 will be used for medical emergencies, off-site events and day-to-day duties onsite, with the ID Cargo Buzz used to transport confined space, height and environmental emergency equipment.

The arrival of the two new electric First Response Vehicles follow the lead set by the company’s on site logistics operation, which only uses battery-powered vehicles, and are in line with the Bentley’s Beyond100 strategy to be end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030. In fact, the switch to these two new models will reduce the amount of fuel used from 1,261 litres in a year to 0 litres.

The Crewe site currently uses 100% renewable energy and in 2018 became the UK’s first luxury automotive factory to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust. Other eco-friendly innovations have included a water recycling system in the paint shop, local tree planting and the installation of more than 36,000 on-site solar panels. The company aims to make Crewe a ‘climate positive factory’ by 2030, actively reducing levels of carbon in the atmosphere.