Top Stories of 2021

The end of 2021 is nigh, and so that means it’s time to look at the top five stories on in what has been a rollercoaster 12 months.

The top story for the year was a sweet treat from January about the Savy Baker from Leeds who launched an online brownie business during the first national lockdown of 2020 and has since gone on to open a store in Leeds and has been making regular appearances at a pop up in the Trinity Centre.

At the time the Savannah Roqaa who founded the business said that “What started as something to make my friends happy in lockdown has now turned into a full-time business. I’m super grateful for the success I have achieved to date.”

Next up was the news that hundreds of jobs were saved following a deal to sell restaurant chain Fazenda to Southern Wind Group which continued operations at he Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool Fazenda sites.

Making a late push for the top three was the news on 1 December that Azets the UK’s lagrest regional accountancy firm and business advisor to SMEs had acquired Garbutt + Elliot. Speaking about the deal Ruissell Turner, managing partner at Garbutt + Elliott, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our heritage and motivated to deliver success throughout the next chapter as part of the Azets family.”

The remaining two stories, were the news that Toyoda Gosei, a specialist car parts manufacturer with operations in Rotherham and Swansea was planning to leave the UK as a result of changes in the “global automotive sector”, and the news that Sheffield-based ITM Power had secured a “transformative deal” late in 2020, raising £172m to accelerate its technology and manufacturing strategies.

But that was just the start for ITM Power in 2021, since then the business which took part in’s Invest North Conference, has not only opened its first gigafactory – the world’s largest electrolyser – but also announced plans for a second while also raising a further £250m through a share placing and securing a number of contracts and seeing a “significant acceleration in demand”.

Other news which didn’t make the top five but certainly got people talking through the year was the saga around the future of Morrisons, which started with news the board had agreed to a £9.5bn takeover but evolved into a bidding war between two US-based investment groups. Eventually going to an auction which private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) won in October.

2021 in fact saw a number of big deals take place, with a £100m LDC backed merger leading to the creation of a national lettings and estate agency group. While Sheffield game developer Sumo Digital is to be acquired by Chinese multinational technology conglomerate, Tencent for over £900m .

Endless was also in the market in 2021, acquiring Findel Education Limited from Studio Retail Group plc in a deal worth £30m following the collapse of a £50m agreement for Findel Education by Wakefield-based YPO.

Elsewhere sat down with a number of leading figures to discuss everything from why Sheffield is critical to the European salmon market, and what the opportunities really are for the North.

We hope you have found our stories interesting and informative and we will be back in 2022 with more of the same and some new features. Until then we would like to wish all of our readers, partners and sponsors a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2022, when
Invest North, the Northern Leadership Awards and the Yorkshire Business Masters will all be back.


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