NW business briefs: Open Media; Moneypenny; Gran Caffè; Crewe BID; Cumbria LEP; NetZero Collective

Plans for BOXPARK Liverpool

Open Media, the Liverpool-based out of home media company, has sealed an exclusive partnership with BOXPARK Liverpool to deliver one of the North West’s biggest out of home advertising opportunities.

This collaboration marks a significant moment for both brands, as BOXPARK expands its reach across the UK and Open Media further solidifies its reputation as a key player in cultural moments within the communities it serves.

Signifying 13 years since the launch of BOXPARK’s first, iconic East London site in Shoreditch, the arrival of BOXPARK Liverpool next month marks a defining moment for the brand as it continues to grow and expand across the UK. BOXPARK Liverpool will become Open Media’s second exclusive out of home media offering in conjunction with BOXPARK, adding to the original site at BOXPARK Wembley. This move will also officially mark Open’s ninth unique location in the Liverpool City region, further bolstering its presence in its homeland.

Over the past decade, BOXPARK’s food and entertainment venues have redefined the ways in which people socialise, as well as drink and dine, with each venue positioned strategically in emerging, trendy, urban areas – a strategy which very much complements Open Media’s growth plans, where the expansion of its OOH networks continues to be focused on securing uncharted locations in up and coming, aspirational areas.

Mike Smith, CEO at Open Media, said: “As the exclusive media partner of BOXPARK Liverpool, we are thrilled to be growing our presence in the North of England, while furthering our long term partnership with the BOXPARK brand. Strategically, this addition to our portfolio represents a remarkable milestone for us as a business. BOXPARK Liverpool will mark our ninth unique location in the Liverpool City region and the expansion very much reaffirms Open Media as the main OOH player within the culture, leisure and entertainment space.”

Dan Fullarton, BOXPARK Head of New Business & Partnerships, said: “Our long standing relationship with Open Media has been a game changer, generating fantastic opportunities for us both in terms of brand partnerships and revenue. We are incredibly excited to launch our first site outside of London and look forward to working exclusively with Open Media in our new, Liverpool location.”


Richard Culberson, Moneypenny CEO North America, Andrew Gross, Peter Gross, Andrew Collis, Moneypenny CFO

Outsourced communication services specialist, Moneypenny, has extended its services in the US with the acquisition of Sunshine Communication Services, for an undisclosed sum.

Sunshine is a provider of bilingual (English and Spanish) call management solutions to businesses of all sizes ensuring they run smoothly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Based in Florida and founded in 1975 by the Gross family, the company is dedicated to representing clients’ business in providing customised services across a variety of industries.

The North Wales-based Moneypenny Group has a US HQ in Atlanta. The company employs more than 1,000 people globally and delivers virtual receptionist and phone answering services, Live Chat, switchboard, fully outsourced customer service teams and a host of AI and technology-enabled services handling in excess of 20 million calls and chats annually for thousands of businesses, from sole traders to multi-national corporations.

Joanna Swash, Group CEO, said: “This is our fourth acquisition in the US following Alphapage in 2022. Sunshine Communication Services is a successful brand and its acquisition will further complement the services we can offer to our clients in the US. Our aim is to be the number one provider in the US for outsourced communications, supporting businesses of all sizes to deliver a great customer experience with every interaction, regardless of channel.”

Brothers, Andrew Gross and Peter Gross, from Sunshine Communication Services, said: “We are excited about the opportunities this next phase presents for our business, and more importantly, for our team and customers. From the moment we met Moneypenny, it was clear our companies have a great fit, not just with our products and services, but also more importantly, with our strong culture and ethos. Looking after our people and putting the needs of the customer front and centre are at the core of both of our companies.”


Authentic Italian coffee shop Gran Caffè is set to open a third Liverpool site, this time in South Liverpool on Lark Lane, in late spring.

Owned by Italian brothers Paolo and Donato Cillo, Gran Caffè first opened in Williamson Square as part of the popular Italian Quarter more than 10 years ago. Since then, the family business has enjoyed fantastic growth, opening another coffee shop on Duke Street in December 2023. The third Gran Caffè is the first to open outside Liverpool city centre, on the city’s bustling Lark Lane, with an even further developed menu and all day offering.

Gran Caffè, which translates to ‘Great Coffee’, was created by Paolo and Donato out of a love for the rich atmosphere that can be found in every Italian coffee house, transporting the strong coffee culture of the Italian homeland to the city of Liverpool. The Cillo family is passionate about sharing an authentic Italian experience with guests, serving an array of Italian delicacies that are hand crafted each day and supplied by family members.

Their brother freshly bakes their sourdough and pinsa focaccia, and Donato’s wife, Antonietta, creates delicate cakes and traditional gelato each day.

All ingredients for Gran Caffè’s dishes are provided by their sister’s A Tavola da Maria Delicatessen and their coffee is ground from beans from their family’s roastery, Torrefazione Lucana, in Potenza.


Crewe BID board: Thomas Jones, Juliet Davies, Mark Hill, Graham Saunders

Crewe’s Business Improvement District (BID) received the support of local businesses in November 2023, and local business leaders have now formed a company to lead on delivery of the five-year programme of improvements planned for Crewe.

The BID has been set up as a limited company with a board of voluntary directors, made up of local business leaders, starting from April 1, 2024. The establishment of the new BID Company follows a vote in which businesses approved a proposal to support a five-year £1.6m private sector-led investment for Crewe town centre, Grand Junction Retail Park and Nantwich Road.

This will be Crewe’s first BID, and it is expected to lead and support a wide range of activities, events and festivals, additional projects and services that will help to make Crewe more economically vibrant, increase footfall and support the creation of a safer, cleaner and greener town.

The current board comprises representatives from Nantwich Road, Crewe Town Centre and Grand Junction Retail Park, however, new board members are invited to get in touch. The newly elected chair of the BID is Graham Saunders from South Cheshire Glass who said: “The creation of a Business Improvement District in Crewe enhances the overall economic health of our town. The business community in Crewe has achieved so much under difficult circumstances over the past few years, and the creation of the BID demonstrates the aspiration of businesses to support the regeneration of Crewe and unlock further opportunities to enhance the town’s offer as a place to work, live, shop and entertain.”

The development of BID was funded by Crewe Town Council in 2023 and 2024. A council spokesperson said: “The BID will empower businesses and create a more vibrant and diverse visitor experience for all. Working together to improve marketing, events, transport, cleansing and security will make a massive difference to Crewe and the business community.”


Jo Lappin

At its board meeting on March 22, 2024, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) finalised the arrangements to transfer its responsibilities for economic growth to Local Government. This is in line with the Government’s announcement on August 4, 2023, that funding to LEPs in England would cease.

This means that the LEP will transfer its staff and contractual activities to Cumberland Council as from April 1, 2024. In Cumbria, Cumberland Council will take over responsibility on behalf of itself, and Westmorland and Furness Council, for the delivery of economic activity across the whole of Cumbria. This includes delivering government-funded activity to support businesses and the economy.

The LEP’s staff, who successfully deliver a wide range of business support, skills and advice programmes, including Skills Bootcamps, Careers and Enterprise and international relationships, will transfer to Cumberland Council under TUPE arrangements.

Lord Inglewood, Chair of CLEP, said: “This decision has been made by government and as such we are working productively and cordially to achieve the best possible outcome for Cumbria, our economy, our businesses, our staff and everyone who lives or works in Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness. The intention is that this transitional period will run through until 30 September 2024, with the LEP increasingly moving into its ‘sunset’ phase as the new Economic Growth Body moves into its ‘sunrise’ phase.”

Jo Lappin, CLEP Chief Executive, said: “The LEP has two paramount concerns – to make sure that the key priorities of Cumbria’s economy and businesses are understood so that opportunities are secured and challenges addressed, and that the transfer of the CLEP Team to Cumberland Council goes really well and allows the team to concentrate on doing what it does so well – supporting Cumbria, its economy, its businesses and everyone who lives and works here.”


Neil Waite

Liverpool-based NetZero Collective has been awarded two new contracts, with Sanctuary and Welsh landlord Hafod. The contracts will progress decarbonisation efforts on more than 5,600 homes across England and Wales.

Welsh housing association, Hafod, has enlisted NetZero Collective to support its decarbonisation journey and an ambitious future upgrade of 5,000 homes across Wales. NetZero Collective has been awarded the £200,000 consultancy contract as part of Hafod’s wider decarbonisation plan which aims to ensure that all its homes, including existing properties, achieve at least an EPC Rating of C by the government target date of 2029.

Over the border in the North West of England, Sanctuary has awarded NetZero Collective a one year contract for retrofit surveys, assessments, and installation of measures for more than 500 homes. This work is to part-deliver Sanctuary’s aim of improving in excess of 2,000 homes to EPC Band C under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1, for which it has received £12.5m in grant funding.

NetZero Collective secured both contracts via direct award from the Greener Futures Partnership (GFP) Decarbonisation Delivery framework, managed by Pretium Frameworks.

Neil Waite, Director at NetZero Collective, said: “We’re looking forward to bringing in NetZero Collective’s skills and expertise to support these organisations’ retrofit plans.”