Tag: Leeds

Yorkshire fashion designer says ‘slow’ may become the fashion

A top fashion designer who came back to her Yorkshire roots to launch a high-end brand says the current lockdown may change the way people shop.

Sonya Bachra-Byrne, who is originally from Bradford, travelled the world working at top fashion houses for 18 years, before coming back to West Yorkshire to launch AVIE with her husband Liam last year.

Based in Leeds, the company specialises in ‘slow fashion’, or clothing that is stylish and lasts, as opposed to the ‘fast fashion’ of many high street brands.

AVIE, which was named ‘Emerging Brand of 2019’ in the prestigious Drapers Independent Awards and invited to exhibit at Paris Fashion Week 2020, has been given business support by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Sonya said: “In the current situation, if you look at the sales figures, consumerism seems to be changing and it is more about buying less and buying better quality that will last longer. People are slowly moving away from the fast fashion of the high street and buying investment pieces that transcend seasons.

“As a brand we also strive to work with sustainable fabrications from natural fibres where possible, created with less chemicals. So, the environment benefits too.”

AVIE manufactures ethical luxury clothing aimed at women professionals, particularly those in the creative industries, with samples made in London and manufacturing in Europe. But Sonya hopes one day to move the manufacturing nearer to home.

The original idea for the brand started when Sonya was working in New York with celebrity clients like Demi Moore, Jessica Alba and Helen Hunt. The plans slowly grew as she travelled the world, working in countries like Spain, Italy and Denmark, before finally ending up in Australia as head of global design.

“My own experience gave me the idea for the brand. At the level I was working at I needed to look the part to be taken seriously as I could be presenting to a board of directors who were all men for example. I needed to have authority and style without looking like a fashion victim.

“And then I took a little bit from each country I had worked in. For example, New York is polished with an attitude and Denmark is effortlessly edgy and minimalistic. So, when I came back to the UK, I had a clear idea of where I wanted the business to be and who I was targeting.”

But as a start-up business, AVIE needed to make the right impression to be taken seriously. This is where AD:VENTURE came to Sonya’s aid with advice and funding. The company was given a grant to pay for top-end portable photographic equipment, which meant Sonya and Liam, who is a photographer and videographer, could set up professional photoshoots in impressive locations.

The pictures from those shoots literally opened doors for the company, with the invitations to Paris Fashion Week and an invitation from an exclusive online German marketplace for sustainable fashion.

AVIE also trades online via its own website and, when they are open, through independent boutiques in Leeds and London.

Sonya said: “I can’t believe how far we have come as a business already and a lot of that is thanks to the support from AD:VENTURE. Working with them was a catalyst that propelled us forward as a business. My AD:VENTURE mentor was amazing at putting us in touch with the right people and the grant really helped us get to the next level. Without that support I think I would have struggled for the next four or five years.”

AD:VENTURE  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the regions nine local authorities.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Avie are a fantastic example of how business support programmes can give exciting local businesses the tools they need to grow, which in turn creates jobs and prosperity for the region.

“With the current challenges affecting businesses, we would urge them now more than ever to get in touch and access programmes like AD:VENTURE, and make sure they are taking advantage of support available to them to put them in the best possible position to thrive and find new ways through these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.”

To find out more about Avie, visit avie-studio.com.

Leeds manufacturer to supply emergency Excel hospital

A Leeds healthcare manufacturer is supplying equipment to the new emergency hospital being created in London.

Staff at Herida Healthcare are working around the clock to make thousands of specialist mattresses, with the initial delivery to the hospital at the Excel today (Friday 27th).

The air-pump mattresses are designed to reduce the chance of patients developing bed sores and are usually sold to NHS trusts and long-term care homes across the UK and abroad.

Company founder Neil Smith said everyone at the company wanted to help the NHS as much as they could.

“While we all really appreciate the work the NHS does at its centre, the response to Covid-19 needs a chain of suppliers who provide critical links. This includes delivery drivers taking it there, packers, mattress welders, cutters, administrative staff working from home and all others in between.

“Our staff are working so hard and we are all a bit exhausted as we have turned this round in 72 hours, but morale is very high as they are so proud to take part.”

The new hospital at the Excel conference centre in London’s Docklands will initially have 500 beds, rising to 4,000 to cope with the expected increase in Covid-19 patients. Military personnel have been involved in setting up the new facility, which will be called the Nightingale Hospital.

Staff at Herida Healthcare are working shifts over 24 hours to fulfil the initial order, with more orders coming in. All staff are wearing PPE and carrying out social distancing.

The company was only set up in 2016 but has grown rapidly with help from organisations such as Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Leeds City Council, and AD:VENTURE, which provides support for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

It has 42 staff and expanded into a new 30,000 sq ft factory in Morley only a few months ago.

Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Judith Blake said: “This is great news for Herida Healthcare and I am really proud to see a local up-and-coming company doing its bit to help the national effort.

“UK manufacturing will be a crucial part of tackling this crisis and it shows how the whole country is pulling together to help each other in a time of need.”

Roger Marsh OBE, Deputy Lieutenant and chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, said: “The swift response by Herida Healthcare to this national call for such an urgent national need is real testament to the region’s manufacturing capability. They are just one of many local businesses who are fundamentally changing their operations to assist at this difficult time, and we must all thank all of those smart people who are driving forward solutions for the national effort.”

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

Bang for your buck: Here are the best locations to run your business in the UK

New rankings reveal the best locations to run your business according to average rent prices, size of the talent pool, access to government funding and broadband speed

Leeds leads the way as one of the best places to set up a business

Four Leeds City Region locations appear in the top ten in the UK

From monthly bills to access to the best talent, a new ranking reveals the best places in the UK to run a business – and Leeds City Region is leading the way.

Having developed the ranking system based on evidence from a variety of metrics linked to setting up and running a business, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aims to highlight some of the best locations around the country for business leaders to set up shop.

The ten metrics used to create the ranking system were:

  • Price per square foot for commercial rent properties1
  • Parking availability and price (£)2
  • Number of finance and support schemes available from Government3a & 3b
  • Broadband speed (average download speeds Mbit/s)4
  • 4G coverage (%)4
  • Unemployment rates (%)5
  • Quality of life score6
  • Young population (ages 18-34) (potential employees for businesses)7
  • Number of arts, entertainment and recreation services/professional, scientific and technical businesses per 1000 18/34-year-olds8
  • Annual media gross pay (2019)9

The LEP also reviewed population statistics10 in the top ten metropolitan districts, as well as the capital, and ranked each according to the ten metrics

The three best areas for business leaders to pay attention to were revealed as Leeds, Kirklees and London, with Leeds leading the way as the number one location for businesses across all metrics.

The top ten places to run a business from in the UK according to these measures are:

  1. Leeds
  2. Kirklees
  3. London
  4. Bradford
  5. Liverpool
  6. Birmingham
  7. Wakefield
  8. Coventry
  9. Manchester
  10. Sheffield

With the average rent per square foot coming in at £301, Leeds is not the lowest cost destination to host a business. Kirklees* takes that coveted spot with the average rent per square foot in the area costing only £13.501.

However, Leeds ranks best in terms of low unemployment rates (4%)5, a high quality of life score (7.76)6, a large percentage of young population in the city (222,673)7 and a high annual pay (£33,245)9, helping the city achieve the overall top spot.

Looking outside of Leeds City Centre, other areas within Leeds City Region also ranked highly for low rent prices alongside Kirklees* (£13.50)1, including Bradford (£15)1, Wakefield (£16)1 and Sheffield (£25)1. The findings indicate the Leeds City Region should be a real consideration for any business leaders looking for a new location.

Bradford also ranked highly for the average cost of parking, which on a weekday is only £3.342 compared to rocketing prices in places such as London (£44)2.

For businesses still looking to establish their headquarters in London, leaders should be prepared to pay 344% more per square foot compared to Kirklees, with the average rent in the capital coming in at a hefty £60+ per square foot.

Unsurprisingly, businesses based in the capital have access to a higher volume of government funding schemes (44)3 compared to other cities, however everywhere within the Leeds City Region (including Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Kirklees) has access to an impressive 12 schemes3b. Manchester (10)3, Coventry (4)3, Birmingham (3) and the other listed cities also have access to a range of funding opportunities, should businesses qualify.

Other costs to be considered include energy bills, however this is determined by the size of the business rather than location. Large businesses can expect to foot a bill of around £3,139 each year for energy compared to £706 for small businesses11.

In addition to these metrics, Leeds has a large volume of higher education student enrolments, with over 63,00012 currently in the city, meaning businesses have access to a high volume of graduates who are keen to begin their professional careers. The education ecosystem in Leeds City Region also boasts nine universities and 14 higher education colleges contributing to a fast-growing talent pipeline.

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11 commented “We’re thrilled to take the top spot when it comes to entrepreneurs looking for a place to set up their business. We truly believe that the Leeds City Region has so much to offer, from top of the range office space and a thriving business scene, to an impressive talent pool, it’s a fantastic place for any business to start, or continue their journey.

“We’ve so far helped 11,000 businesses to grow through £43 million funding, and have also launched the £2.5 million Digital Investment Fund which includes the #Grow and #Welcome programmes to help tech businesses thrive in our region.”

“With tech giants such as Channel 4 and Sky making the leap to the Leeds City Region, we look forward to welcoming more businesses to our community.”

Recent investor Paramjit Uppal, Founder, AND Digital added “We decided to open an office, or as we call it, a club, in the heart of Halifax as we saw a fantastic opportunity to help organisations in West Yorkshire accelerate the development of its digital capabilities. West Yorkshire is a vibrant, welcoming region with a real appetite for growth and innovation – we’ve been delighted by the warm and enthusiastic welcome we’ve had and the support we have received from the LEP.”

Compliance Manager

Compliance Manager (AD: Venture).

Fixed term contract for up to 24 month (with the potential extension)

Grade – SO2 (£29,636- £31,371)

The Ad: Venture Enterprise Growth Programme is an £18m Business Support project which offers wrap around support to help new and young businesses in their first three years of operation. To date the programme has worked with over 2700 individuals & businesses.

The project is a partnership between Leeds City Region local authorities, Chambers of Commerce, Universities, the Voluntary Sector and West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is partly funded by the European Union* until 2022.

Having secured a second round of funding we are currently seeking to strengthen our programme delivery team by recruiting a Compliance Manager. This is a new post, and will play an important role in helping us deliver a successful second phase of the Ad: Venture programme.

The successful candidate will be responsible for managing contract compliance across the Ad: Venture programme, ensuring that the project meets a range of contractual obligations, while fulfilling its overall objective of supporting new and young businesses to grow and prosper.

The positon represents an excellent opportunity for a highly motivated individual with; an interest in helping businesses in the Leeds city region grow; experience in a project or programme management role and an understanding of how to work with a diverse partnership to deliver systems and processes that work better. You should also have a good working knowledge of ERDF Regulation as they apply to business support projects.

We are looking for an individual who is a good team player but also has the confidence and ability to work and lead on their own initiative – often working to tight deadlines, ideally with some experience of working with or developing information management systems.

The post is offered on a fixed term basis for an initial period of up to 24 months – with the potential for extension. The post holder will be based in Leeds City Centre but with regular travel to Ad: Venture partners across the Leeds City Region.

For more information please contact Sarah Carling, Ad: Venture Programme Manager – sarah.carling@leeds.gov.uk

As this is a fixed term position secondments from partner organisations would be welcome. If applying as a secondment please seek the approval of an appropriate senior manager before applying for the post.

Applications should be submitted no later than 6th Oct, 2019.

* On the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union project funding currently provided by the EU is subject to a Treasury guarantee.

We promote diversity and want a workforce that reflects the population of Leeds. Leeds City Council is a Stonewall Top 100 employer, a Mindful employer and a Disability Confident employer.

All new Leeds City Council appointments are made subject to the satisfactory completion of a six month probationary period.

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£31m added to regional economy thanks to social enterprise

A Yorkshire-based social enterprise has announced it has boosted the region’s economy by £31m in the last 12 months as well increased lending to female entrepreneurs by 9%.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), has made the announcement as part of its annual social impact report which also reveals the not-for-profit organisation has loaned a total of £7.08m in the last year, helped to create 175 new UK businesses and generated or safeguarded 820 jobs.

 

Specialising in responsible and flexible finance to businesses making an impact in their communities, 36% of BEF’s loans in the last 12 months were to female-led businesses across West and North Yorkshire and the North East.

 

Steve Waud, chief executive at BEF which is celebrating its 15th anniversary later this year, said: “At BEF we remain dedicated in our role to supporting under-represented yet tenacious SMEs across the North, who don’t necessarily have the same level of investment available to their counterparts in the South.

 

“We are proud that 36% of our loans in the year have been to female entrepreneurs which is higher than the industry average and we’re continuing to promote the support available to help tackle the evident funding gap, which has also recently been highlighted in the Alison Rose Review. The economic impact our lending continues to generate is something we are hugely proud of at BEF.”

 

BEF has made 331 client deals in the last 12 months with the highest number of loans being made to businesses in the manufacturing (25%), business services (18%) and retail (17%) sectors.

 

Shainy Moscovitch and her husband co-founded CP12 Energy, a gas and heating specialist partnering gas safe engineers with domestic and commercial jobs. A £50,000 loan from BEF contributed to creating three new jobs, marketing activity and fitting free carbon dioxide detectors across the North East region.

 

She said: “Most would think the odds are against me. I am a female entrepreneur and I am currently writing this with my one-month old baby beside me. BEF looked past all that and saw the company that I am passionately building. It is their belief in me and CP12 Energy that has given us wings to grow and expand.”

 

Steve said: “As part of our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), we continuously aim to empower people from all backgrounds in starting their own businesses with our tailored support and flexible finance solutions.

 

“This year 40% of our lending has been within lower-layer super output areas which is a 6% increase from last year. These individual businesses are in areas which can be excluded from mainstream funding but are often having the highest impact within their communities.”

 

BEF has hired five new employees this year in a bid to provide further support and finance to business owners across the North of England, including the North West. Further to its lending, the social enterprise has supported a range of good causes including its continued work with Bradford charity, One In A Million for which it raised more than £7k in the last year.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund has offices in Leeds, Bradford, Goole and Teesside. For more information please visit www.befund.org

Leeds entrepreneur builds sustainable future for 3D printing

SME grant

3D printing is a fast-growing disruptive technology. From humble beginnings as a novelty demonstration tool 3D printing has become a growing player in the manufacturing world, as the technology to utilise it becomes faster and more efficient than ever before.

Leeds Entrepreneur of the Year Ravi Toor is all too aware of this. Having graduated with a BA in Environment and Business and Leeds University he saw a need for change in the market, which relies on plastic ‘filaments’ to build models and products.

“There’s a clear environmental need for recycled filament” Ravi said.

90% of all plastics worldwide are derived from non-recyclable sources, so in response to this Ravi founded Filamentive.

Using recycled polymers, the business has quickly gained traction in producing environmentally friendly filaments for the industry.

“I want to transform the 3D printing industry” said Ravi.

“The technology is brilliant, but now it can be sustainable too.”

Ravi approached the AD:Venture business support programme to help him set up his business. AD:Venture Advisor Rebekah Smith supported Ravi with writing a business plan and cash flow forecast, as well as steering him to digital marketing advice for the start-up business.

AD:Venture partner the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) then followed, by delivering start-up funding to boost Filamentive’s stock capacity.

“The business support has been invaluable; not only are we growing, but we’re also improving the sustainability of 3D printing at the same time.” Said Ravi.

“Over the last year’s trading, while I was still finishing my degree, we achieved £50,000 revenue and we’re aiming for six figures in the next 12 months.”

Julie Micklethwaite, BEF Start Up Loans Manager, delivered the funding for Ravi.

“Filamentive is a fantastic example of how to find a gap in a very innovative market. The Start Up Loan we provided has been put to great use, and I’m delighted to see the business thrive.” She said.

Filamentive has since secured a trade deal with Amazon, opening the market to customers in the USA, including schools and manufacturing businesses such as NOA Brands – the world’s largest producer of mannequins.

 

AD:VENTURE supports launch of innovative new tech business

Business support

Remind2Find launches online gift platform that keeps on giving!

The founders of Remind2Find have taken their pioneering shopping platform to the next level after teaming up with Futurelabs and the AD:VENTURE business support programme to take part in an innovative workshop programme designed to take new business ideas into reality.

Supporting early stage or first time tech entrepreneurs or teams with an idea or a product not yet ready for an accelerator or to raise funding, the funded programme was delivered free to businesses by Emma Cheshire, Co-Founder of Futurelabs, bringing a number of specialists to Unity Works in Wakefield to deliver specific content over a 4 week period in March and April 2017.

Launched in August, Remind2Find is a smart shopping platform that takes the guesswork out of buying for other people. After creating and sharing profiles with family and friends, users receive convenient reminders before an occasion along with inspiration on what to buy.  Profiles can be fully personalised to include favourite brands and retailers, links to wish lists or, for those who don’t want anything, alternatives such as going for a drink or charitable donations.

Steven Binnion, co-founder, says “91% of people shop in a rush at the last minute and only 23% have received a great gift in the last year, so there is significant room for improvement. As fast paced as the world is now, consumers really value services that actually save them time and stress!

After a period of slow progress setting up the business, I looked for a workspace that offered informal mentoring. Futurelabs became an obvious choice, having a genuine interest in real grassroots start-ups and an understanding of what they need.

Whilst working from the space at Futurelabs helped us to recover some momentum, the opportunity to receive structured mentoring and support through the FutureStart workshop programme tipped the balance. We quickly validated and spotted some gaps in work we had done. Most importantly, we left with a clear plan about what to do next and knowledge of people who could help us. Without this I fear we could still be refining our service rather than trialling it and getting customer feedback”

Steven, and his co-founder, Marc Mills are now working hard on the launch of the live platform and will continue working with the AD:VENTURE programme and the Futurelabs team as the business launches and begins its exciting growth journey with ambitions to take the platform to a worldwide audience.

Funded by the European Regional Development fund, AD:VENTURE enables businesses to grow through support such as expert mentoring, grants, professional workshops, finance brokerage, incubator office space and peer to peer learning.

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We are delighted to see businesses already benefitting from the opportunities and connections a regional programme like AD:VENTURE can offer. The programme was developed to help businesses just like Remind2Find to get off to the best and most informed start, and this is a fantastic example of how this type of programme works to boost the growth of SMEs in our region”

Artisan Baking Starts Rise to Growth Challenge with a Business Funding Grant

Business funding grant

Award-winning Leeds based artisan bakery Tarte and Berry have shown commitment to the company’s continued growth by harnessing the support of a regional business programme and accessing a £15,000 grant towards costs of relocating to a new premise suited to their ambitious growth plans.

Named as one of Yorkshire Business Insider’s ’42 under 42’ rising stars of business, Tarte & Berry is owned and managed by sisters Jane and Lucy Batham and has seen a rapid rate of growth since it was founded in 2014, more than doubling turnover to £150,000.

An open letter from the FinTech Capital of the North

Dear Chancellor

I am delighted to see you “banging the drum” for the UK’s important and fast growing technology sector as you lead a delegation to India.

Wakefield business commits to quality through skills funding

Start-up Funding 1

Businesses in Wakefield and across the Leeds City Region are benefitting from over £2 million worth of training grants thanks to the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The funding has supported the training of over 600 businesses, enabling them to invest in the development of their workforce.