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

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

Tyneside firm Kitwave has continued moves to consolidate the UK wholesale market with a £21m deal for another company in the North.

The North Shields-based business has announced a deal to buy Total Foodservice Solutions, which is based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, with another depot in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The deal will be paid in cash and funded from Kitwave’s current banking facilities.

Total Foodservice has a history dating back more than 130 years and supplies customers around the North that include pubs, restaurants, cafes, schools and universities, and companies in the care sector. Its most recent results showed a turnover of £25.4m and profit before tax of £2m. Its acquired balance sheet includes £4m of cash and property worth £2.1m.

Ben Maxted, Kitwave’s chief executive officer of Kitwave, said: “Total Foodservice is a well-established business in the catering industry and we look forward to welcoming its team to Kitwave and integrating the business into our Foodservice division. This acquisition is in line with Kitwave’s growth strategy, and we will continue to seek to identify further opportunities in the UK’s highly fragmented wholesale market to deliver further value to the group and its shareholders.”

Lee Hartley, CEO at Fairstone Group (Image: Fairstone Group) North East wealth manager Fairstone announced the full acquisition of East Midlands business James Ryan Thornhill (JRT). The independent firm, based in Nottingham and trading for 20 years, has joined the growing Sunderland group after a period of integration as part of its Downstream Buy Out (DBO) programme. Fairstone’s DBO model sees the business act as an investment partner, providing the centralised resource, technology, and capital to support the ongoing growth of ambitious financial firms ahead of a future sale.

The deal brings over £110m of assets under management, £1m fee income, 600 clients, and a five-strong team of financial advisers supported by seven paraplanners, mortgage advisers and administrative staff.

Fairstone CEO Lee Hartley said: “JRT and Fairstone were an excellent match from the outset. I take great pride in Del-Ryan’s comments around the value we place on people. This is exactly why our DBO mod­el adds enormous value over and above other acquisition programmes in the sector. We work in partnership during integration stage and embrace the skills and knowledge of the whole team.”

Di Gates, founder of Connection Heroes (Image: Di Gates) North East entrepreneur Di Gates has scooped a national award to help grow a new platform designed to boost human connections in the workplace. The founder and owner of virtual consultancy Stick Theory is one of scores of high-potential entrepreneurs from around the UK who have been awarded £50,000 each by Innovate UK, to help launch a series of new ventures.

The award will support the launch of Connection Heroes, a new development programme which recognises how the working world has changed radically in recent years, leaving many people disconnected from their work, workplace, managers and colleagues. Connection Heroes was triggered by research explored by Ms Gates, which showed that 90% of UK employees are currently disengaged from their job and 71% are looking for a new job this year.

She wanted to design a platform to address the growing problem of employees disconnecting from work, while recognising how improving connections across hybrid teams can be complex and difficult. The platform is aimed at organisations that want to improve human connections across hybrid workplaces, to help them drive employee engagement, retention and wellbeing.

Ms Gates said: “I’ve worked with dozens of organisations since the pandemic, helping them build better connections across their remote and hybrid teams. This funding has allowed me to formalise my framework and build an intuitive digital platform that powers a unique and fun learning and development experience. I’ve had loads of interest already and I can’t wait to start the pilot programme in June.”

Kromek CEO Arnab Basu with detection technology (Image: Kromek) County Durham tech firm Kromek has sealed a $2.1m deal with a US customer which it says will lead to orders for “years to come”. The NETPark company develops radiation detection and bio-detection technology solutions for advanced imaging and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRN) sectors. The firm, which also has a manufacturing base in Pennsylvania, said it had received the order from an existing manufacturing customer, which is an emerging leader and global company in the homeland security marketplace.

The order is for the supply of key detector components to be incorporated into the customer’s advanced security screening system for the detection of explosives. It will start delivering the contract this year and complete it in the first half of its 2025 financial year.

Left to right: Susan Snowdon of NEL Fund Managers with Alan Sawyers and Nathan Cockburn of AS Design North East. (Image: NEL Fund Managers) A Northumberland design company which counts musicians Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp as clients is set for growth after securing a five-figure investment. Prudhoe-based AS Design North East was originally set up in 2011 by founder Alan Sawyers as a sideline to his role as an in-house graphic designer, before he decided to focus on the venture full-time in 2019.

The company – which provides graphic design services across print and digital media including branding, logo design, web design, social media and marketing – has since grown to five people, including designer Nathan Cockburn, who was recruited via the Government’s Kickstart programme and is now a senior team member, leading work as co-owner of it sister company, SNAC Digital.

The firm has a list of North East SMEs as clients, as well as the influential musicians Toyah Willcox and her husband, King Crimson founder and guitarist Robert Fripp. It is now expanding its range of services and creating new jobs, after working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in investment from the North East Small Loan Fund.

Mr Sawyers said: “I’d never really planned for the business to be anything more than just me, but when I saw the growth potential that it had, it was a natural move to begin to realise it. Being able to provide a wider range of services means we can meet more of our clients’ requirements and provide them with an efficient single point of contact that delivers more of what they need.”

The Livit ACE platform from CellRev and Getinge (Image: CellRev/Getinge) Newcastle University spinout CellRev has joined forces with a Swedish firm to launch a platform which could help give patients access to new life-saving treatments. Newcastle Helix based CellRev’s technology provides cellular product developers and manufacturers with a scalable, cost-efficient platform that means cells for gene therapies and lab grown meat can be produced more quickly, efficiently and in greater quantities.

The company’s continuous processing platform is attracting interest from around the globe, especially from those involved in innovative cell and gene therapies because the global production of cells is forecast to soar over the next decade.

The cell therapy market is an emerging field and there are growing therapies currently undergoing trials, highlighting that demand in the industry is set to increase. CellRev has been working with Getinge, a global medical equipment and solution supplier, since January 2023 on CellRev’s prototype system, ahead of releasing it to the commercial market.

The companies have now finished the design and development of the platform – called Livit ACE – and after concluding initial customer trials the product has been officially launched.