North West business briefs: Peel Ports; Everton FC; Cumbria LEP; Valvworx; Sambro International; Mix56; Metro Tyres

Liverpool-based Peel Ports Group, the UK’s second-largest port operator, has announced E.ON as one of its net-zero partners, helping to meet its goal of net-zero emissions by 2040. As the first of a number of projects, plans have been announced to install the UK’s largest roof-mounted solar energy system at the Port of Liverpool, alongside a future project to repower the existing wind turbines on the banks of the River Mersey with fewer, larger turbines.

This is the first stage of a 25-year agreement between the two companies which will help Peel Ports Group reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2040 and could see as many as 63,000 solar panels – the same as 18 football pitches – installed on 26 buildings across Port of Liverpool. The panels could generate up to 31MW of renewable electricity and provide the same amount of power as the yearly needs of more than 10,000 average UK homes1. The exact number of panels and their generation potential will be confirmed in the final designs but the solar array is expected to be the largest of its kind in the UK and will generate up to 25% of the port’s annual electricity needs.

Minimising disruption within the local area, the project will be wholly contained within the existing footprint of the port, using existing roof space and bringing all equipment and technology directly to the port by sea, removing any impact on local roads. More than 6,000 solar panels have already been delivered to the port ready to be installed on the new 240,000 sq ft Alexandra Dock warehouse which is nearing completion.

The project is being financed and delivered by E.ON with installation of the solar panels under way and due to be completed by mid-2026. E.ON has committed to using local contractors where possible and will also be looking to work with local companies for the ongoing upkeep of the 25-year period. The second stage of the agreement will replace the five existing wind turbines at the port with four new, larger turbines generating close to 20MW.

Claudio Veritiero , CEO, Peel Ports Group, said: “We’re proud to be embarking on this long-term partnership with E.ON and to be undertaking this important project together, revolutionising the Port of Liverpool’s energy system. Ports of the future need to become more sustainable environments and we must play our part in a greener supply chain. There is still work to do, but this project is a huge step for Peel Ports Group in cutting emissions and driving our ambition to become a net-zero port operator by 2040.”

Chris Norbury, E.ON UK CEO, said: “The Port of Liverpool is a critical piece of infrastructure for the UK and decarbonising sites like this will be vital for the UK to achieve its environmental goals. Simply put, we all need to move faster on reducing emissions and this huge project will be a massive step in the right direction.”


The first steel pedestrian gate has been fully integrated into its historic surroundings at Everton Stadium’s Bramley-Moore Dock site.

Restoration work has been ongoing to rebuild the Grade II-listed wall around the galvanised steel gate, which was lifted into one of three new pedestrian access points on the eastern boundary of the site last November.

Stones that had been removed to create the space were all individually catalogued, photographed and numbered for later reintroduction by heritage specialists.

And experts from Specialist UK Restorations, based in Ormskirk, have now completed their work to replace the stones in their original positions and ensure the wall is rebuilt sympathetic to the appearance of the historic structure.

Three main pedestrian access points on Regent Road, all manufactured less than half a mile from the stadium site by Warbreck Engineering, are to be installed in total. These will be central to the flow of all visitors to the stadium, as all entry will be via the eastern side of the site.


Georgia Neild

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) has launched an innovative programme for 18-35 year olds, which is designed to develop Cumbria’s next generation of leaders. The programme is fully funded by CLEP and is designed to support young people to develop the skills that they need to lead both now and in the future.

The programme provides a flexible new approach to developing Cumbria’s next generation of leaders through four one-day leadership events throughout 2024. The first one takes place in Penrith on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 and people need to register by Friday, March 29.

Jo Lappin, chief executive at CLEP said: “’Today’s Talent Tomorrow’s Leaders’ has been specifically designed to help younger people on their leadership journey. And developed by young people on the Futures Forum. It will be a combination of inputs from experts and industry leaders, alongside workshops and networking with a range of tools used to help participants better understand themselves as leaders. At the first event, I am delighted that Jon Turner, managing director, of Electrification & Automation, Siemens, will be providing the keynote speech and giving his thoughts on what the future holds.”

Georgia Neild, co-chair of the Futures Forum, said: “The Futures Forum is excited to be able to make a real difference to the leadership skills of young people throughout Cumbria. The team have worked hard to ensure that the programme is of the highest quality.”

The ‘Today’s Talent Tomorrow’s Leaders’ Programme consists of four events (9am-5pm) which are being held at the North Lakes Hotel, Penrith on Wednesday, April 24, Tuesday, July 2, Tuesday, September 17, and Tuesday, November 19, 2024. Demand for these limited places is high and people need to sign up by Friday, March 29, by visiting the Kendal-based TryBooking website, using the ‘buy ticket’ button and searching for ‘Today’s Talent Tomorrow’s Leader’.


Four first time Warrington entrepreneurs – Ivor Jones, Stephen Duxbury, Paul Warburton and Selwyn Jones – have secured a £75,000 Start Up Loan, delivered by GC Business Finance, to start a local engineering business, Valvworx, which will create jobs in the area.

Having never launched a business before, the team researched the various funding options available to them. The team opted for the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme, which enabled them to split the personal loans and financial responsibility between three of the co-founders. As the national business support partner for Start Up Loans, GC Business Finance supported Valvworx through the process, swiftly securing them the loan.

The loan went towards the purchase of essential testing equipment for flow control and relief valves, allowing them to certify safety for customers. It also enabled them to sign a lease for a new workshop, which they completed fitting towards the end of 2023. Since officially launching in early 2024, Valvworx has already received orders collectively in excess of £100,000, setting it off on a promising start.

The team have ambitious plans and will be seeking to bring on apprentices. Aso, sights are set on securing contracts with the new carbon capture scheme in the North Sea. Ivor Jones said: “Since officially launching and trading in our primary service of valve overhaul and certification, our order book is filling rapidly and business is going well. As of last week, our test rig was delivered and commissioned, meaning we can now operate at an increased capacity, and meet customer’s needs better than before.”

Alex Mearns, Head of Startup Lending at GC Business Finance, said: “Valvworx provides a perfect example of what the Start Up Loans programme is all about – encouraging entrepreneurship, helping start-ups to survive, and breaking down the barrier that is accessing finance. Ivor, Stephen, Paul and Selwyn have been able to secure a local trade and have ambitions to train new apprentices, and we wish them all the best when they open soon.”


Partnering with Bulldog Licensing, Bury-based toy manufacturer and distributor, Sambro International has announced a new contract which will see it deliver a range of new products to support the growing licensee portfolio of Magic Mixies, from innovative toymaker Moose Toys.

Under the three-year contract, Sambro will support the expansion of the Magic Mixies universe with the creation of a compact range of new novelty products, to build on the ‘real magic’ experience associated with the franchise. The inspired range will cut across arts & crafts, back-to-school and stationery categories, as well as Sambro’s own IP range Puzzle Palz, creating collectable and swappable character toppers, with magical UV light-activated features and water-dissolving magic reveal elements incorporated into the designs.

The range includes tactile character secret diaries with magical invisible ink, magical wand pens with spin, dissolve and reveal elements, jewellery creation kits containing UV light-reveal beads, as well as a doodle plush with colour change pens. Each feature-packed product, uniquely inspired by the Magic Mixies characters, taps into their unique play patterns.

Clare Rix, brand and licensing director, Sambro, said: “Magic Mixies has been one of the most exciting new launches in the last several years, tapping into an untouched space, surprising and delighting children through its magical appeal. We cannot wait to launch our own ranges this year. We’ve worked closely with the Bulldog Licensing team over the last few months to develop the range, leaning on our expertise in the licensing and arts & craft space to do so. This is an exciting new partnership and we’re looking forward to expanding the range even further over the next 12 months.”

Rob Corney, managing director, Bulldog, said: “Sambro continues to go from strength to strength, bringing great new innovations to the magical Magic Mixies. The brand is enormously popular right across UK retail and, with a plethora of great new licensed lines launching throughout 2024, continues to build a broader universe of wonder for kids everywhere.”


Penny Dee

There’s a new voice behind the mic on fast-growing regional radio station, Cheshire’s Mix 56, as speaker, author and podcaster, Penny Dee, takes to the airwaves with a new Friday lunchtime show.

The Cheshire businesswoman will bring a slice of the ‘world according to Penny Dee’ to the station’s programming schedule, inviting listeners to tune in on Fridays from 12noon until 1pm for a lifestyle show that promises a cross between Loose Women and a chat with your best friend. Over the course of one hour, show will deliver a range of inspiring and uplifting lifestyle content for women including topical chat, engaging interviews, empowering thought perspectives and upbeat music.

Penny said: “After meeting the Cheshire’s Mix 56 team for the first time and learning more about the station’s aspirations, I was immediately on board. I love what they’re doing, the commitment to true regional radio and the focus on bringing out the best in our wonderful communities.

“I’m a real woman’s woman and I’ll be using my show to champion and highlight a range of important topics that impact women across our broadcasting area. The show will provide insight into what it means to be a woman in the world today and how we navigate the twists and turns of life with strength, resilience and spirit. I’ll be covering a range of issues including the workplace, relationships, motherhood, children, the menopause and health in an authentic and easy to engage with way.”

The Penny Dee Show starts at 12noon on Friday, April 12. Station owner and presenter, Paul Smith, said: “We’re incredibly excited for Penny to join the team and can’t wait for her get started. An authority in her area of expertise, Penny is easy to listen to and speaks fluently and inclusively on a range of issues – our listeners are going to love her.”


A Liverpool-based automotive tyre supplier has purchased a new premises with support from HSBC UK.

Metro Tyres has utilised a six-figure funding package from HSBC UK to complete the purchase of a new 10,500 sq ft warehouse in Liverpool. The newly-acquired warehouse will enable Metro Tyres to meet increased demand from commercial garages and individual motorists, specifically increasing capacity for the supply of used tyres. The enhanced availability of reusable tyres will help to improve sustainability efforts of customers, as less raw materials are required to create new products and supply chain emissions savings are made.

The new premises is also expected to drive direct customer traffic to Metro Tyres, contributing towards an anticipated 30% increase in turnover. Director, Jordan Flynn, said: “We have experienced substantial growth in demand for used tyres over the past two years, something driven by a wave of people seeking more cost-effective yet reliable car parts. Our new site will enable us to meet this continued demand and enjoy further growth across the business for many years to come.”

Charley Hudson, Relationship Manager at HSBC UK, said: “It is great to support Metro Tyres and help the business achieve its next phase of growth. The rising cost of living and scarcity of car parts has led to a shift in demand across the automotive repairs sector and Metro Tyres has done a fantastic job in identifying this trend early and providing a solution of motorists. The new premises offer a host of opportunities for the business and we look forward to seeing the positive impacts to come.”

Founded in 2005, Metro Tyres is a supplier and wholesaler of second-hand tyres. It employs seven staff, providing tyres suitable for cars and commercial vans, as well as offering a range of services including tyre checks and tyre fittings.