Whatever it is that Nick Garthwaite has for breakfast, I’m having it. The managing director of Bradford chemicals company Christeyns was unstoppable in October: he masterminded the fantastic success of Bradford Manufacturing Week and last week Christeyns bought Clover Chemicals, a Derbyshire manufacturing business, in a tidy bit of business.
Nick is a great advocate for Bradford and I know he will be delighted at the growing momentum in Bradford’s economy. In my Yorkshire Post column last week, I wrote about the success of Bradford Manufacturing Week, Bradford Bulls’ promotion to the Championship and the success of the Business Improvement District (BID), which will mean an additional £2.5m investment in the city centre over the next five years.
It was a hard act to follow, but the good news seems to be all around us with fresh investment into the city. Seabrook, the historic Yorkshire crisp company, was bought by the UK subsidiary of Japanese food giant Calbee. The Bradford business, which employs around 160 people, will continue as normal – only now as part of a multinational business with a record of investment. It means more crisps made in Yorkshire will be sold around the world.
In July 2015, private equity business LDC invested in Seabrook and money was put into improving facilities and expanding to new markets. Bradford’s finest crisps are now sold in the likes of the Middle East, China and Australia. No doubt Seabrook’s new Fire Eaters crisps – billed as the spiciest crisps around – will go down a treat in Tokyo.
More good news came with word that mobility technology company Fleetondemand is creating up to 40 new jobs in Saltaire and Leeds after lining up a £5m investment through the Business Growth Fund (BGF). The Saltaire-based firm, which connects business people to vehicle rental, car leasing and business travel services globally, is expanding and plans to develop new products and boost sales.
These are skilled jobs in an innovative, growing business. They are the type that our region needs if we are to achieve the ambitions set out in the Economic Strategy for Bradford District 2018-2030. The strategy sets out a plan to turbocharge the economy and drive innovation, increase productivity and create wealth by building on our strengths in engineering, chemicals, digital technologies, energy, utilities and food manufacture. The news about Fleetondemand, Seabrook and Christeyns plays to these strengths. There are also signs of growth in the region’s drinks manufacture sector too.
EYES Brewing said last month that it was putting down roots in Bradford. EYES, which calls itself the UK’s first wheat-focused brewery, is moving to the former Bradford Brewery building. It was a shame to see Bradford Brewery shut in mid-August, but the building will now be brought back into use. EYES Brewing looked at Leeds for its base but could see Bradford’s potential. The brewery should open by Christmas and I will be stopping in to say hello.
Another clear sign of investor appetite in the region is plans to develop up to 400,000 sq ft of industrial, distribution and office space at a local former water treatment plant. Keyland Developments, which owns the 57-acre site in Oakenshaw, is selling the vast site because it sees demand for space in the regional industrial sector. As many as 800 jobs could be created and planning consent is already secured. It will make a great piece of business for someone.
Taken in isolation, each of these investments are interesting tales. But when put together, they tell a clear story – established businesses expanding, new ventures being formed in our historic heritage buildings and growth opportunities being seized.
As chair of the Bradford Economic Partnership, what’s really pleasing is that they reflect both our region’s historic business strengths and point to growth in newer sectors too. It’s clear – things are happening because people’s noses are pointing in the same direction and momentum is building in our civic and business communities. Members of Bradford’s business community are seizing the day. I wonder what they are all eating for breakfast.
• Dave Baldwin is chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club.