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Home » North East Deals Of The Week: Key Acquisitions, Contracts And Investments

North East Deals Of The Week: Key Acquisitions, Contracts And Investments

Northumberland confectioner Sweetdreams is set for significant growth after being snapped up by a national food firm.

Cramlington-based Sweetdreams has been trading for more than 30 years and is best known for its Choc Nibbles range – sweets made from chocolate, caramel, biscuits and icing sugar which are sold online and in retailers including B&M and Aldi. The company has now caught the eye of Surrey based SugaRich, a leader in former foodstuff processing, which sees it save surplus food from going to waste, instead turning it into animal feed.

SugaRich is now keen to expand its offering to the food sector, prompting the strategic acquisition of the North East business.

Matt Stephenson, managing director of Sweetdreams, who runs the business on the Admiral Business Park with his wife Cathy, added: “This is an exciting time for Sweetdreams and our fantastic brand Choc Nibbles. Becoming part of the SugaRich family allows us to release the full potential of our range of products, offer our suppliers a unique and innovative solution to reduce surplus food waste, while benefiting from a significant increase in commercial return.”

Hays Travel chair and owner, Dame Irene Hays. (Image: Tim Richardson) Sunderland based holiday company Hays Travel has acquired a family run group with travel shops in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. The Holiday With Us Group is a collection of independent travel agencies in March, Spalding and Wisbech, which was established by Christina Fitzpatrick and her family in 2009. The business started with just one shop but now operates the three stores with six people, all of whom now join Hays Travel.

Dame Irene Hays said the acquisition will create new jobs too, with Hays Travel looking to recruit staff – experienced travel agents and people considering a career change – in all three branches. The transaction has been made to coincide with the peak holiday trading period, and was completed after Hays Travel marked its most successful day of trading on Saturday, January 6.

Mammoth founder and CEO John Tuton with Mark Wharton, senior portfolio executive at NEL Fund Managers (Image: NEL Fund Managers) Newcastle mattress and seating company Mammoth is set to create new jobs after securing a six-figure investment.

Mammoth has introduced new technologies into its mattresses and seats over the last 10 years, including ‘medical grade’ foam, and it has also forged partnerships with the likes of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Premier League football teams and leading universities. Now the company has tapped into investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, which it will use to help drive sales of its recently revamped product range.

The firm will also recruit new staff and invest in new warehousing for its bedding collection, as well as a new European mainland international showroom, plans for which had been delayed by bad debt suffered as the result of supply chain issues and the challenges of Covid-19.

Mammoth founder and CEO John Tuton said: “There’s no doubt, through no fault of our own, we’ve been through a challenging period over the last two years and weathered some tough trading conditions, which were compounded by the unfortunate loss of suppliers, but it’s a testament to the team we have in place and the relationships we have built that we’re now in a position to secure investment and grow once again.”

L-R – Douglas Cranston, MCM Group, Nathan Douglas from Knight Frank and Gareth Ellery of Global Maritime at 8 Nelson Street. (Image: Ian McClelland Media) Two business have signed contracts to take up space at the former Café Royal building in Newcastle. The historic property – now called 8 Nelson Street – was home to Café Royal until it closed in 2020 after more than two decades in business. The whole building was acquired by developer and landlord MCM Group, a property company owned by Ian Watson, the founder of successful luxury care home business Hadrian Healthcare.

MCM Group has been carrying out a lengthy, £1.5m makeover inside and out, turning the building into a contemporary space for new tenants. It has previously been revealed how chef and TV presenter Nisha Katona has chosen the Grade II listed property to provide a home for her 22nd UK Mowgli restaurant. And now international engineering consultancy, Global Maritime, has also signed a deal to move into the building.

Douglas Cranston, investment director, at MCM Group which owns 8 Nelson Street, said: “It is fantastic to see our vision for the building now come to fruition. Our strategy was to bring this iconic city centre building back into use with a high-quality refurbishment. It is testament to the immense character of the building, the team that has been involved and the standard of the refurbishment, that we are now able to welcome two tenants of such stature to the building.”

A dog wearing one of Kromek’s D3S detectors. (Image: Kromek) Dogs wearing radiation detection technology produced by Kromek have taken to the battlefields of Ukraine to alert soldiers to potential harm near nuclear power stations.

Eight dogs kitted with pocketsized detectors built by County Durham’s Kromek are helping Ukrainian troops to identify risks where there has been heavy fighting near nuclear sites. The detectors – which can pick up low levels of radiation and the type of source – send data back to the soldiers up between 20-30m away via an app that will sound an alarm almost immediately if the dog gets too close.

The devices are strapped to the animals using a harness and are said to be sensitive enough to alert handlers in time for them to get the dogs out of harms way. The dogs – called Rapina, Lilly, Tomy, Bella, Dimico, Zorr, Zyga and Ines – are made up of different breeds including German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd.

The European Commission has said it will train and donate 50 explosive and mine detection dogs for Ukraine by the end of this year in a project supported by the Belgian military and the Carpathian Unit of the Polish Border Guard. The dogs are being trained in Belgium before being transferred to Ukrainian handlers.