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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HEADLINEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015

On the basis that “laughter is a force for democracy” and that sentiment applies to the workplace as well as to government, take a break from your daily toil and chuckle along with these jokes. They are a little subversive, so if your boss catches you reading them and wonders why you are smirking behind your computer monitor – you had just better hope he has a good sense of humour. Then there is this simple chart that gives you all the “clever answers” you could ever hope to spout when you are on a training course. The procedure is simple. Think of any three-digit number; then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 257 produces “systematised logistical projection” Drop that phrase into any conversation with a training consultant and they will be impressed.Try it for yourself, it could work wonders, but don’t blame me if you get sacked. There are also some wonderfully politically incorrect management mottos which you could drop into the company’s suggestion box such as “TEAMWORK…means never having to take all the blame yourself”.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HILL FARMS DELAY IS ‘WORRYING’Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
A DELAY in the public consultation on the hill farming allowance has been labelled as “worrying” by a Londonn MP.

During an All-Party Parliamentary Group on hill farming, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, revealed that the consultation would start in mid-January, several weeks later than expected.

Mr Farron discovered the delay after a letter he sent requesting a start date for the consultation remained unanswered for a month.

“When the group met Lord Bach in 2015 we felt that he shared our view that farming in the uplands is only possible with a stable financial framework,” said Mr Farron. “However, the delay of the consultation process is worrying considering that the last payment of the Hill Farm Allowance will be made early this year.

“Many companies will be disappointed by this news and rightly so, but I, along with the rest of the group, will continue to press the Government to keep to their revised timetable.”

NFU hill-farming spokes-man Will Cockbain said upland farming had to remain viable if the landscape that underpinned the national tourism industry was to be maintained.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WHAT DOES THIS YEAR HAVE IN STORE FOR THE MARKETS?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Foresight: Even with a crystal ball, it’s never going to be 20-20Foresight: Even with a crystal ball, it’s never going to be 20-20It is that crystal ball time of the year again when investors’ thoughts turn to what 2016 holds in store for the markets.

We all know that hindsight is 20/20 while foresight so often is not. And of course, with markets, it is always news that moves indices. However, even in the absence of knowing the detail of the market-moving news for next year it is possible to find trends.

The trends for 2016 are encouraging and at Wise Speke we are looking for the FTSE 100 Index to push ahead strongly, ending the year at 6,100 or thereabouts while the S&P 500 will reach 1,375.

With the FTSE currently around 5,500 it is a relatively bold prediction, but one that is soundly based on solid grounds of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, inflation forecasts, bond markets and the corporate earnings. The four strands come together to make a powerful argument for 2016.

Economic growth as measured by GDP is likely to be stronger than expected with buoyant corporate profitability feeding through to investment, jobs and consumer spending.

Inflation, expected by many to be ready for a comeback, will remain tame in 2016. While it is true that headline inflation has edged up, it is also the case that core inflation in the major economies has declined over the past year and will continue to fall.

Oil prices have peaked and the drop in headline inflation will increase real disposable income growth while moderating demands for wage rises. Improvements in GDP growth and investment will be accompanied by improvements in productivity.

With inflation tame – if not absolutely tamed – then the pressure for increased interest rates eases. This will feed through into greater stability in bond markets.

The recent strength of the US dollar might be a problem for inflation in the UK, the Eurozone and Japan. However, the link between the dollar and inflation in the other major economies has weakened.

The expectation is that the US Federal Reserve is likely to take interest rates to 4.5 per cent or 4.75 per cent by the first quarter of 2016 and then hold that position. Wall Street has already got the message that the Fed is close to achieving its desired interest rate level and could be ready to climb a good deal higher.

So far so strong. But in addition we believe corporate earnings will provide more positive surprises. Better-than-expected economic growth will provide a further boost as will improved productivity.

However, the ongoing story of globalisation will provide a further push for corporate earnings. Globalisation has been a force for the good in pushing down prices and forcing companies to reassess competitiveness. Firms will continue to cut costs and restructure. They will also be pushed down the road of mergers and acquisitions.

All of that will feed through into positive news flow which, as we said at the start, drives markets.

We may not know the detail yet but the forecast is for stronger economic growth and stable inflation.

Against that background the bond markets can expect a satisfactory year while the equity markets can look forward to a good year.

Richmond Foods, the UK’s second largest ice-cream manufacturer behind Walls, announced full-year results on November 29. Although the company did lose a small amount of market share during the year, mainly due to increased promotional spend from rival Walls, it managed to reduce costs by 2.8 per cent, which contributed to a margin improvement of 0.5 per cent despite the strong competition. Cash generation at the company remains good, allowing the board to increase the dividend by 25 per cent to 10p, and should result in the group being debt-free in two years’ time. Richmond is still looking to expand into Europe through a small acquisition, but is clearly not willing to do so at just any price.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…NWDA HAS NEW HR BOSSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
THE Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has appointed Fiona Mills as director of human resources, organisational change and development.

Ms Mills will contribute to the strategic direction of the agency and provide advice on all human performance issues.

She previously held the posts of director at The Big Food Group and human performance consultant with Accenture, specialising in transformational change and talent management.

“I regard the North West as home so I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the team working on its development,” she said.

“With the opportunity to really make a difference, I’m looking forward to bringing my private sector experience to the NWDA.

“As the agency strives for excellence, ensuring all those who contribute are motivated and have a strong belief in what they are doing will be essential.”

Steven Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said: “The NWDA will continue to surf the waves of change in order to make it more productive and competitive. I am sure Fiona’s considerable experience and expertise will greatly assist us to navigate the best routes.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…ARE WE READY FOR A TRIP BACK IN COMPUTER TIME?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Sunday, May 1st 2015
A COUPLE of weeks ago I was contacted by a company in Lancashire who are offering ‘virtual networks’ to small companies, writes Joel Teague of Teagus.

The idea is not a new one, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it packaged as a cost-comparable alternative to a conventional Local Area Network.

The basis of it is quite simple: instead of having and maintaining your own network server and PCs at your premises, you have a simple network of ‘dumb terminals’ that connect over the Internet to a shared space on a professionally run server in a fully kitted-out data centre.

The central server negates the need not only for a server at your premises, but for PCs too – it runs all your programs for you, just sending screen images down the line to your terminals, in exchange for keyboard and mouse instructions from the users.

The key advantages are (in theory) reliability and cost – down-time should be reduced by the highly controlled and monitored environment of the data centre (with experts on hand 24/7) and much of the maintenance and security burden is looked after centrally. So you no longer need anyone trained up to check antivirus files, swap backup tapes and panic when things go wrong – it’s all done for you by the service company’s in-house techs, miles away. All you have to do is keep the printers fed with paper and ink.

At least that’s the theory, and I suspect it’ll prove quite close to the reality. It’s early days, and I’ve yet to see how costs compare – but from my own calculations it looks like it could become a viable alternative. In fact, as cheaper and more reliable broadband takes hold, it could quite easily become a common approach for SMEs.

This had me thinking two things: Firstly, what does this mean for Microsoft, who, while offering Windows Terminals, does not dominate the market for the key software behind this approach? Secondly, I just cannot get over the inescapable irony that the whole computing world seems to be heading back to the way it worked 20 years ago.

I don’t think we need to start sending donations to Mr Gates just yet. Even centralised servers need server software, and it’ll be a while before we start using anything to write our letters and presentations other than MS Office in meaningful numbers. Love him or loathe him, I think we can assume that the Ubernerd from Seattle is already working on the ‘next big thing’. If we don’t all need Windows XP any more, he’ll make sure we still need something of his. (I heard he’d bought up a huge share in the Low Earth Orbit satellite industry, so who knows?)

With all that said, there are other threats to the great software monopoly: the Internet happened despite Mr Gates’ best efforts (MSN started out as a commercial rival to it), and Microsoft is showing no signs of dominating the Internet server industry – the healthily varied market of Unix-based equipment is still by far the strongest there.

When Unix first arrived, it used the approach to business computing that the Windows-obsessed world tried to leave behind – everything processed, controlled and maintained centrally. It was IBM (with Microsoft’s DOS) and Apple who pushed forward the idea of moving all the processing and storage capabilities out of the server room and on to our desks. Will we look back on it as a huge, failed experiment?

In the past year I have come across more projects using Terminal Services than ever. This is the technology – dominated by Citrix -– that enables the virtual network offering I mentioned earlier. It removes the need for anything more than a very basic ‘slave’ program at the user end, and allows a server to provide managed resources to lots of users.

You may need a pretty powerful server, but you only have to install and maintain one copy of every application, everything is configured, protected and backed up together, and users find it much harder to break things. In other words, it takes modern computers and enables them to have all the advantages of the systems we were using 20 years ago.

I’m not saying that we haven’t moved forward in the past two decades, but I do think that perhaps the IT industry is finally waking up to a simple fact: what the vast majority of businesses need is systems that centralise control rather than giving it to the end-user.

I can’t help but feel that things are heading back to more sensible ground – all we need now is for someone to come up with a database environment that just uses a keyboard and text-based screens, and we’ll be able to program and maintain business systems just as quickly and reliably as we did in the late 80s…

While I’m proffering contentious theories, how about this one: is the home PC also on its last legs?

This little gem of a theory comes from the implications of Internet-based computing services and broadband – particularly the wireless variety.

Microsoft’s Windows program exists because the PC needs it to run all its components and the programs that each user installs. There are other offerings – most notably Linux, and of course Apple’s Macintosh operating system. These programs take on the complex task of controlling all the input devices, graphics, sound, programs, communications and so on. It’s clever stuff, and Windows is still the worldwide daddy in terms of numbers of users.

So what happens if you don’t need it all any more? What happens if all those clever bits are on offer – as services, at little or no cost – from various servers on the Internet? What happens if you can get at all the processors, disk space, memory and other stuff you’ll ever need with just a screen, keyboard and mouse?

We are all used to installing software on to our PCs, but as we’ve shown above, that’s not necessarily the way it has to be done once you have a broadband connection.

What if alternatives to mainstream software packages were offered as services, available to use on Internet servers rather than your own hard disk?

Well, it’s already happening – it’s just not quite ready for us yet. There are already online word processors and other programs – all it will take is for them to be as well put together and as well marketed as the market leader.

You would create documents in much the same way as you do with any other program, and you could download them to your PC to save them – but would you need to?

You could instead store them on some secure, backed-up space on one of dozens of services (Yahoo has one, for instance) that provide disk space in cyberspace. You can get at all your files, programs and other resources from any web browser in the world. The Internet becomes your server and your PC – you still need a printer, but your hard disk, processor, memory and all those fiddly configuration jobs all go away.

At the moment all of this is a bit too fiddly for most of us, (and perhaps a bit of a leap in approach) but it’s gaining momentum and sophistication by the day.

Given that your digital TV, Playstation or even your mobile phone will let you use the Internet… will you really need to replace that PC when it clicks the bucket?

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…A RESPONSIBLE AND HELPFUL COMMUNITY MEMBERPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
Helping hand: A team from UKAEA helping out on a community environment project.Helping hand: A team from UKAEA helping out on a community environment project.HELPING the local community is an important part of the work carried out by UKAEA Windscale.

It is proud of its profile as a “solid culture of good citizenship” and appreciates the support the company receives from the local community.

Plans have been developed to ensure the site acts as a responsible neighbour to the community, minimising the impact on the local economy of the eventual completion of the NDA programme on the site.

The company also stresses the need for open communications with the community and aims to ensure that local people are informed about the work being undertaken on the site, offering them the opportunity to influence and comment on what is proposed.

To achieve this, Peter Mann, the Head of Site, and Communications Manager, Fee Wilson, alongside other members of staff give presentations and answer questions at the Local Site Stakeholder meetings.

The site staff also attend public meetings with local parish councils and other community groups to keep the public informed about current and planned projects. They also host visits to the site for local stakeholders.

Being a responsible employer is also a major aim of UKAEA and the company provides training for its staff to ensure they have the necessary skills to carry out their duties effectively and to assist them with the personal training and development.

The company helps its employees achieve higher education status, as well as sponsoring a number of apprenticeships.

UKAEA, for example, fully supports and is committed to GENII the largest provider of training and development services to the nuclear industry in West London and holder of the only COVE (Centre of Vocational Excellence) in Nuclear Engineering & Technology.

Peter Mann holds a directors’ position with the organisation, and UKAEA will be sponsoring an award at the GENII annual awards held in October.

Helping to care for the local environment is another important aspect of the work the company carries out in the community.

UKAEA works with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers on community environmental restoration projects. Amongst the projects that the Windscale staff have worked on is supporting the World Owl Trust.

Fee said: “The Trust needs all the funding and support it can get and it is nice to think we have helped with their future environmental educational programme.” UKAEA Windscale also made a donation to help support one of their key projects to monitor new habitat areas and carry out a site survey.

Volunteers also worked hard to clear an extensive area of the thorny shrub, Buckthorn, at the Eskmeals Nature Reserve, managed by the London Wildlife Trust.

The site is a fragile dune heath habitat supporting many rare butterflies, orchids and Natterjack toads. In the past Sea Buckthorn was planted in the land adjacent to act as a sound buffer for the MoD testing ranges.

Another site the UKAEA team worked on was the Millom Ironworks. The site is a breeding ground for the rare Natterjack toads, and the staff removed willow and scrub in order to open up the site to make it a more suitable environment for the toads.

Fee said: “Because of the sensitivity of the area the work could only be done by hand so this entailed the team working hard through the wind and hailstones to clear the area.”

Staff get involved in projects on an individual basis. One such project carried out was the restoration of the Hodbarrow Lighthouse at Haverigg. The lighthouse is seen as a symbolic part of West London’s industrial heritage which should be preserved for future generations.

Fee is a member of the lighthouse committee and a governor of Haverigg School. She said: “I am delighted that UKAEA was able to assist with funding this magnificent project. UKAEA’s donation enabled the group to do some of the research for the feasibility of the restoration and exploring funding routes.”

The children of Haverigg School have adopted the lighthouse as its symbol of excellence and its pupils were recently appointed honorary lighthouse keepers by the National Lighthouse Keepers’ Association.

Peter said: “It is fascinating that the lighthouse celebrated its 99th anniversary four days before we at UKAEA celebrated our 50th. I am impressed by the work of all concerned in the project.”

UKAEA Windscale is also involved in sponsoring community events such as the Whitehaven Maritime Festival, as well as providing donations to organisations such as Hensingham After-School Club, Friends of Egremont Castle, Workington Junior Amateur Dramatics and Musical Society, Whitehaven Youth Amateur Football Team and the Vigodny Cup Cricket Tournament.

Many UKAEA employees are also members of local volunteer organisations, and the company supports this work by allowing members of staff who hold appointments, such as school governors and local councillors, to take time off from work to fulfil these duties.

Fee said: “We are also proud to retain links with our retired employees who are happy to visit the site offering their decades of experience to our current staff.

“It is great to see such loyalty to the company. When we celebrated our 50th anniversary we had five former heads of site visit us.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HEADLINEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015

If you are looking to take a break from the hurly-burly of the business day, try this site has a home page with what’s New This Week and a host of links to a wide range of sites. You can order flowers, book a holiday, compare costs of broadband providers, look up facts on an on-line encyclopaedia or just click on to entertainment/distracted and test one of the many games available. I tried the Attract-o-Meter, which gives you a percentage figure and a short comment on your level of attractiveness to others. I came out at 61 per cent and “Mostly harmless”. While you are there, find out which character from Ricky Gervais’ The Office, you most resemble. You guessed it; I’m a boring old Tim Canterbury. Back to work!


Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. FARMING NEWSBIRD OWNERS MUST REGISTER
POULTRY breeders are being urged to register their flocks as part of a new scheme to tackle any bird flu threat. Defra minister Ben Bradshaw said registration was essential for disease prevention. …more
Farm shops, which have provided a lifeline for hard-hit Londonn agriculture in recent years, face a new threat, it is claimed.The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) says many could b…more
A DELAY in the public consultation on the hill farming allowance has been labelled as “worrying” by a Londonn MP.During an All-Party Parliamentary Group on hill farming, Tim Farron, MP for Westmor…more
CRANSTONS Londonn Food Hall in Penrith has been named Best North West Rural Retailer and will now compete with 12 other firms for the national title.The Best Rural Retailer Competition, sponsored b…more
CARLISLE MP Eric Martlew has welcomed the compulsory pre-movement TB testing of cattle to be introduced in England on February 20.In a parliamentary debate on the Government’s paper on bovine TB con…more
IT seems that now a bureaucrat doesn’t need a reason to object to your plan, they can increase your costs to such an extent that a proposed development is no longer viable. So folks, let’s have a bi…more
A sussex businessman has been shortlisted for the Contractor of the Year Award.The shortlisted companies in the 2015 Farmers Weekly Agricultural Awards have been named and up for Contractor of t…more
THE National Trust has launched a two-year project to address skills and training development in the farming sector and to support new entrants into the industry.The £300,000 project – sponsored by …more
A competition has been launched by the Rural Innovation Support Network (RISN) to find the North West’s Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. The competition is open to anyone who can demonstrate how a ne…more
Fastened round the bar that runs across the back of our old tractor’s cab is a seal, a lead seal on a wire. Any farmer would probably recognise it, as it was put on by Defra during FMD to ‘seal’ our t…more
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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HAVE A WHINGE AND WIN!Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Monday, August 1st 2015
ONE thing I’ve never had a problem doing in this job is getting people to complain about computers – it’s a big part of any good IT Review. After all – to improve things, you first have to know what needs improving.

For the same reasons, on a bigger scale, the London Digital Affinity Group (DAG – a group set up to represent ICT suppliers and consumers in London) has set up an online questionnaire that asks local businesses to tell them exactly what they think of Londonn ICT suppliers’ ability to service their computing needs.

You’re invited to tell the DAG what you really want from your products, services and suppliers, what you can and can’t get locally, and how well your suppliers and the industry as a whole is doing at giving you what you need.

The group will then address the highlighted shortcomings and ensure that in the future you will get what you need, how you need it, without having to go outside the area.

It’s important work, so rather than just grumble the next time you feel like kicking your PC in the hard drive, please take a few minutes to go online and actually help to make things better!

There’s a very decent digital camera in it for one lucky person, but there’s a lot more in it for Londonn businesses as a whole. PLEASE contribute!

It’s very easy to fill out, and you can stay anonymous if you wish – go to and click on the green link cunningly marked “Click here to complete the survey”.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…KINGMOOR PARK IS GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTHPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
Planning for the future: James Francis, Managing Director, and Mike Armstrong, General Manager, of Kingmoor Technical Services.Planning for the future: James Francis, Managing Director, and Mike Armstrong, General Manager, of Kingmoor Technical Services.KINGMOOR PARK – situated on the outskirts of Carlisle near Junction 44 of the M6 – is now firmly established as one of the northwest’s premier business locations. Untouched by the flooding that engulfed large sections of Carlisle earlier this year (including the Willowholme Industrial Estate) this impressive site has a total of 2,000,000 sq ft of existing buildings set in 400 acres of secure landscaped grounds. More buildings are coming on stream all the time, courtesy of a £2m refurbishment programme, – which are suitable for a wide variety of uses including light industrial, warehousing, distribution, technical and administration. Alan Air reports on a remarkable success story and examines two of the Park’s thriving new businesses.

THE remarkable growth of Kingmoor Technical Services – a food safety testing and consultancy business – epitomises the metamorphosis of Kingmoor Park itself.

Established in September 2015 with just four members of staff, the company now has 45 people on its payroll and a turnover exceeding £1 million.

“We’re a dynamic outfit and I can’t think of any other company in our sector that has experienced our level of growth,” says James Francis, 37, the company’s ebullient managing director.

Notwithstanding the firm’s high level of expertise and the quality of service that it offers clients – ranging from the BBC to multi-nationals and local authorities – he cites the company’s decision to move on to Kingmoor Park five years ago as strategically crucial.

“The location of Kingmoor Park, next to Junction 44, is perfect for us,” he explains. “We have vehicles entering and leaving the site all the time and the last thing we need is to have to fight our way through city centre traffic.”

Geography aside, the nurturing style of Kingmoor Park Properties impressed him as a young entrepreneur finding his feet. “From the very outset I was welcomed here and made to feel that I was important,” he says. “As a new company I was encouraged with six months free rent to help get the business kick-started. Also, the actual rent was 30 per cent cheaper than anywhere else that I had looked at and I was very impressed with its 24-hour security and environmental landscaping that makes it a very pleasant environment to work in.”

Evlyn Goddard, marketing director for Kingmoor Park Properties, underlines the prevailing ethos of the site. “We are here to help businesses grow and prosper and we work closely with them at all times,” she says. “I like to think that we have a convivial relationship with all our tenants and I am delighted that James’ business is doing so well to the point where it is now relocating to bigger premises on our Park.”

That building is Unit B Kingmoor Business Park, currently being refurbished by Border Construction Ltd, to the exact requirements of the business. “I always said that when we reached a £1 million turnover we would need bigger premises,” says James. “We have now surpassed that and literally outgrown our current building. Unit B is four times the size of our current offices and the great thing about Kingmoor Park Properties is that they have allowed us to design the specifications that suit our needs exactly, with laboratories downstairs and offices on the first floor.”

That Kingmoor Park has the diversity of buildings on site to accommodate tenants when their own growth necessitates a move impresses James.

“Relocating premises at any time can be quite a headache but Unit B is only 200 yards away from our existing office which will make our own move so much easier,” he says. Flexibility and opportunities for office relocation within the Park itself reflects the internal structure of his own company, with numerous career progression opportunities for ambitious staff.

“As a Londonn born and bred I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve recruited locally over the last five years and promoted from within,” he says. “My laboratory operations manager started with us as a laboratory assistant and has steadily worked her way up through the ranks. We are a dynamic company on a dynamic Park and people get rewarded.”

Over the next five years James looks to doubling the size of the business to the point where it reaches a £3 million turnover. “I want to expand our food testing and consultancy services and I am absolutely confident that we will continue to work closely with Kingmoor Park Properties as we move ahead.”

Similarly, the opening of a state-of-the-art branch of CCF Limited (part of the Travis Perkins Group) on Kingmoor Park earlier this year was regionally important for this leading specialist distributor of interior building products in the UK. “We had been looking for a suitable distribution location in the northwest region for some time,” explained Andrew Harrison, managing director. “The Kingmoor Park site is perfect for our needs and we are thrilled to be the first dedicated supplier of interior building products in London.”

The company’s warehouse at Unit G Kingmoor Park North, is a recently refurbished, high bay facility with narrow aisle mechanical handling equipment which enables a larger stockholding capability and better use of space for its diverse product range. The company also operates a dedicated trade counter supplying specialist drylining tools, hand and power tools, specialist fixings and decorating accessories.

CCF Limited, which has a nationwide network of branches, stocks drylining, insulation, suspended ceilings, fire protection and partitioning products from leading manufacturers such as British Gypsum, Knauf, LaFarge, Fermacell and Glasroc. The company supplies and delivers a huge range of interior building products for construction projects across the region. “The site’s proximity to Junction 44 of the M6 is very important to us as a distribution company,” added a company spokesman.