October 2020


News in Brief

UK begins mainline testing of hydrogen-powered trains in Warwickshire

Warwickshire enjoyed a UK first with the trials of the HydroFLEX hydrogen train, the first time a hydrogen powered train has run on the UK network.

It follows two years of development by the University of Birmingham BCRRE (Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education) and rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook with a £750,000 grant from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The testing took place between their base at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre near Stratford-upon-Avon, and Honeybourne in Worcestershire.


New director for UK BMW engine manufacturing plant

BMW Group has appointed Dr. Dirk Dreher as the new plant director at the company's UK engine production plant in Hams Hall, North Warwickshire.

Dirk’s career with BMW Group spans almost 20 years with a variety of management roles and key positions under his belt.

He succeeds Bernd Gress, who after more than three successful years leading the plant, moves to a new role within BMW Group, based in Germany.


Mercedes-Benz takes increases stake in Aston Martin Lagonda

Mercedes-Benz to take 20% stake in Aston Martin, increasing current minor stake. The company already supplies engines to the Warwickshire sportscar maker, so the increased links create the potential for collaboration on EV powertrain.


WMG Announces new Catapult Chief Exec

Professor David Greenwood will replace Archie MacPherson who has led the WMG Catapult team since 2016.

Prof Greenwood currently leads WMG’s Energy Research and also holds advisory and board positions for the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Innovate UK (Faraday Challenge and IDP and the Faraday Institution, and is head of the Advanced Propulsion Centre's Electrical Energy Storage Spoke.


Gigafactory Key Place in Coventry & Warwickshire Reset Strategy

Two leading business organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire have put extra charge in the call to Government to build a factory in the region that could create thousands of jobs.

A recent Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce PolicyHour video call with businesses in the region included representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) who joined to discuss its reset strategy for the economy.

Nick Abell of CWLEP said: “The Government is going to back a Gigafactory and, wherever it goes, it is going to create thousands of jobs, potentially tens of thousands. There is no doubt, we want it here.


Lotus and Sarginsons Team up to Develop EV Tech

Coventry-based light-weighting specialist, Sarginsons, has been chosen to be part of a ground-breaking engineering partnership led by Lotus, known as LEVA, which has won UK Government support and funding to develop an all-new, next-generation Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) architecture. Lotus recently set up an R&D base at Wellesbourne.


New Battery Role for ex-Aston Martin Chief

The former chief executive of Aston Martin Andy Palmer has been named as InoBat's new non-executive vice chairman. Since leaving Aston Martin, Palmer has also become the chairman of Optare plc.

InoBat is based in Slovakia and was established in 2018.


Car Retailer Results Impacted

Listers, one of the largest privately owned automotive groups in the UK has warned that the Covid-19 lockdown had a "significant detrimental impact" on its profitability.

The Stratford-upon-Avon-headquartered company operates 30 sites across the country and employs more than 2,200 staff.


Jobs at Risk at RSC

Almost 160 jobs have been put at risk at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The RSC has said it does not know the final number of redundancies until the end of the consultation but 158 positions are currently at risk. This would be up to a 17 per cent reduction in the workforce.

The RSC added that it will focus its efforts on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, with Swan Theatre and The Other Place remaining closed until 2022.


Performance Improves at Leamington Software Company

Leamington Spa-based Solid Solutions has reported a turnover of £53.8m for the 12 months to 31 December 2019, up from £51.6m.

Founded in 1998, the company provides software, support and training to thousands of engineers, designers and manufacturing companies across the UK and Ireland. Its customers include the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Stannah Stairlifts, Oxford Space Systems and contact lens manufacturer Coopervision.



West Midlands 5G Investing in Digital Transport Solutions

The company creating a 5G network in the West Midlands is set to invest £2.4m in seven consortiums to support the development of new products and services to transform transport across the region.



New Chief Exec Appointed at Nuneaton Based Holland & Barrett

A new chief executive has been confirmed at Holland & Barrett after his predecessor stepped down after less than 18 months in the role.

The former digital director at B&Q owner Kingfisher, Steve Willett, has been appointed to succeed Tony Buffin.



Warwickshire Group Announces Strong Results to March 2020

Turnover jumped more than £90m at Rigby Group, the largest private company based in Warwickshire, which is behind airports, hotels, a developer and IT and investment firms, during its latest financial year. Its founder has hailed the period as its most successful since being established in 1975.


Cadent Letting at Ansty Largest in UK

Cadent, the gas supply company, is moving its UK HQ to Prospero Ansty, to a new 90,000sqft purpose built development, the largest out of town office let in the UK in 2020. The company is expected to complete the move in early 2022.


Spec Build Units Completed in Leamington Spa

Stoford Developments has finished units three and four at Spa Park in Leamington Spa which comprise 61,075 sq ft and 30,715 sq ft of space respectively, rounding off the first phase of the project.

The units, which are now available to let, sit alongside a 50,000 sq ft unit, which is occupied by Liberty 920E, part of the Liberty Vehicle Technologies, and US-based Martin Sprocket & Gear, which occupies unit five, a 41,173 sq ft warehouse and offices.


Government Funding Unlocks New Flexible Workspace in Nuneaton

A grant of £1m from the Government’s Towns Fund team will be used to repurpose the two floors above 22 Queens Road - known to many as the former Woolworths store - and create flexible working spaces that include both shared and dedicated office space with a new dedicated public entrance, creating up to 75 jobs.


 New Leamington Co-Working Complex Announces New Tenants

Marketing agency Gibsonhaus and creative engagement agency Purple Monster have both signed up to move in to 1 Mill Street, an exciting new office space in Leamington Spa.

The Victorian building on the corner of Mill Street and Leam Terrace has undergone a transformation and will now feature flexible offices, dedicated desks and hot-desking, a video and sound studio, The Muse Coffeehouse, meeting areas and world-class events space.


Warwickshire Venues Shortlisted for Awards

The British Motor Museum (BMM) at Gaydon ‘Best Independent Venue’ and the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre (NAEC) at Stoneleigh ‘Best Exhibition Facility’ have been shortlisted at the CHS Awards for the Hospitality industry.

Winners announced on 27th October at online ceremony.


 Warwickshire Businesses Recognised in ‘Made in the Midlands’ Awards

Due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, no awards ceremony took place this year, but the achievements of the region's manufacturers were still honoured by Insider.

Local winners included CoFresh and Ricardo, Lanner and Purity were among the finalists.


Coventry 2021 Moves Ahead with Announcement of First Events

As well as announcing the date of the opening event – called Coventry Moves – other highlights include the world-renowned Turner Prize exhibition and ceremony being held at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, a major co-commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company and a three-day weekender curated by Terry Hall, the lead singer of The Specials.

The events announced are a preview of the full programme announcement in January 2021.


Chamber Annual Conference Moves Online

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Economic Conference, in its 20th year in 2020 as a key event in the business calendar, will take place online on Wednesday, November 11.

Speakers include West Midlands Mayor Andy Street; Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business & Industry; Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG; Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities; Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust; Leigh Hunt, CityFibre’s City Manager Coventry; and Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council.


FirstPro 2020 Awards Go Online

Coventry & Warwickshire First Pro 2020 Awards will be going online for the first time this year. Each of the FirstPro categories showcases the talent and capability of the business services, professional and financial services sector in our region. The event takes place on Thursday, November 12.



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