2019 review - Sheffield businesses celebrate a year to remember

There’s so much to look forward to in 2020 - a £900m devolution deal, a £350m-a-week Brexit dividend, a free trade agreement with the European Union AND a stonking US trade deal.But seriously, whatever difficulties lie ahead, Sheffield’s firms will adapt and thrive - as 2019 has shown.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 11:08 am

We started the year with small business utilities provider xln expanding its office on the Wicker and announcing 150 jobs.

The firm spent £1m on a revamp to accommodate the extra, after deciding to make the Sheffield operation bigger than its headquarters in London.

The firm, based at One North Bank on the Wicker, was aiming to grow turnover by more than seven per cent to £80m this year and increase Sheffield staff to 240.

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The xln team at One North Bank.

Roles being recruited included customer service, broadband support, tech support and sales.

In March, a former apprentice from Darnall who made a fortune in the tech industry donated more than £1m to the AMRC Training Centre, part of Sheffield University, so more youngsters “can go on to run a company.”Dr Graham Siddall grew up in a two-up-two-down with no bathroom and played on the spoil heaps of Orgreave Coking Works. A five-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship at the UK Atomic Energy Authority led to top academic qualifications and a glittering career at Silicon Valley companies.He said: “The people who benefit most from apprenticeships are kids from disadvantaged families. That apprenticeship changed my life.”

Developer Capital & Centric has dramatically increased spending plans in Sheffield after gaining approval for a £20m redevelopment of a former cutlery factory.

Co-founder Tim Heatley said he wanted to spend up to £200m in the city centre over the next five to 10 years - as well as converting the listed Eye Witness works into apartments.

Donna and David Copley of Coppergreen.

He announced the ambition after Capital & Centric was given the green light to redevelop the site on Milton Street. It is the Manchester firm’s first project in Sheffield.

Fast-growing software company Ansys moved into Sheffield city centre to help it attract staff. The US-owned firm moved into 3 St Paul’s Place on Norfolk Street to offer a more “dynamic” environment for workers and potential recruits.

The company, which makes simulation software, had been based on Sheffield Business Park since 2000. Ansys employs 60 and took room for up to 80.

Anthony Hinchliffe celebrates 30 years in business. Picture: Chris Etchells

In May, Sheffield-based B.Braun Medical Ltd is reporting record sales and ‘healthy’ £6.5m profits despite spending more than £3m preparing for Brexit.

UK group sales grew from £186m to £194m in the year to the end of December 2018, while profit after tax was up from £4.1m to £6.5m.

The firm, which employs 1,400, paid £1.47m tax. Towards the end of the year, longstanding German-born boss Hans Hux announced plans to retire.

A Sheffield engineering company is set to open a new factory after winning a record £165m contract with Rolls Royce.

How Gripple Automation's new factory will look.

CW Fletcher in Wales Bar will supply jet engine parts over 10 years in a deal which “dwarfs” everything from Rolls in a relationship dating back to the 1940s. It secures a £2.5m investment in a factory and safeguards 186 workers’ jobs.

Boss Steve Kirk said they had contracts worth £200m in total, giving the 126-year-old firm “relative safety.”

Sheffield manufacturer Gripple is growing again with plans for a £2m new factory making hi-tech assembly machines. The firm, famous for its wire joining device, is set to build a state-of-the-art Gripple Automation facility on Foley Street on a derelict site beside the River Don near the Veolia incinerator.

It will be its fourth in the city.

The building combines the firm’s red brick heritage - like the Gripple headquarters at the Old West Gun Works, Savile Street East - and cutting-edge features including a green energy plant and living green external wall.

CW Fletcher MD Steve Kirk, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley

A Sheffield holiday park firm is up to 400 staff after spending millions on sites serving the UK’s booming ‘Staycation’ market.

Coppergreen Leisure Resorts opened a 60-lodge site at Clumber Park, creating 70 jobs, a year after buying the land - and six months after starting on site.

It is also built an extension on its hotel at Kenwick Park in Lincolnshire where it installed 17 luxury lodges, with plans for another 70. The firm bought both sites last year for £25.3m.

Some 35 lodges have been added its Piperdam site near Dundee and Woodland Lakes, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, is having a new spa.

Chief executive David Copley said they continued to see a “huge increase in people holidaying in the UK.”

A Sheffield call centre company signed a deal for its third site in the city - paving the way for 80 new jobs.

Ant Marketing took a lease on the former Mike Brewer Motors showroom on Bramall Lane. It is the firm’s third base in Sheffield and pushes staff numbers to 430. The firm’s other sites are at Victoria Quays and head office on St Mary’s Gate.

Chief executive and founder Anthony Hinchliffe said: “We are delighted to have secured this impressive property on Bramall Lane. We are looking forward to the future at our new site.”

Ant Marketing was established 30 years ago, customers today include Heinz, The Economist and RBS.

Hans Hux, of B.Braun.
Graham Siddall at the AMRC in Sheffield.