The Journal Annual North East Business Review 2014: May

We look back at the North East business news from May 2014

Greggs Coffee cup
Greggs Coffee cup

The month got off to a great start for bakery giant Greggs, which revealed how it was gradually winning its battle to cement its position in the food-on-the-go market, having seen sales lift 4% at the start of the year.

Better-quality coffee, increased supplies of sandwiches and longer opening hours all helped the Newcastle-headquartered firm to improve its sales, having shifted its focus to the food-on-the-go market in 2013, a competitive market putting it up against the likes of Pret A Manger and Costa Coffee amongst others.

The firm’s plans included scores of refits for its shops, many of which have now been carried out for customers to see in the region and beyond.

Hundreds of leading members of the region’s business community came together at Hardwick Hall for the crowning night of the North East Business Awards (NEBA), run by The Journal and our sister paper, the Gazette, in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce.

The North East Business awards night at Hardwick Hall, Co Durham 2014 Nixon Hire winning
 

Designed to highlight the inspiring work being done by firms of all shapes and sizes across the region, the annual awards capture exactly what makes this region great – and it was Nixon Hire of Newcastle who took home the coveted Company of the Year trophy. Nixon Hire was established by John Nixon in 1967 in tiny Newcastle headquarters. Since then, the business – one of the longest running in the plant hire sector – has grown to the point where it now employs more than 350 staff, reporting a 2013 turnover of £32.2m.Over the last four years alone, the company has experienced an average year-on-year growth of 17% and Graham Nixon, who runs the business jointly with his brother Chris, believes it will hit its 2020 turnover target of £50m two years ahead of schedule.

“My late mother sold her car to start the business,” said Mr Nixon.

“Who would’ve known back then that 47 years later we would have 13 depot locations and a presence in Qatar.”

Full-year results came out in May for motor dealers Vertu, uncovering astonishing growth.

The firm more than doubled its pre-tax profits to £17.5m in a “transformational” financial year, which ended February 28, revealing it had also created around 200 extra jobs during the period. Since then, the firm has grown its portfolio to 114 sales sites, following a series of key acquisitions.

Guy Berruyer, Chief Exec of Sage Group
Guy Berruyer, Chief Exec of Sage Group
 

Newcastle-headquartered software giant Sage Group revealed chief executive Guy Berruyer had announced his wish to retire from the firm and from executive life, prompting a search for a new leader.

Mr Berruyer worked at the company – a global leader in software for accountancy, payroll, HR and more – for 17 years. He said: “I am extremely pleased with all we have achieved since I joined the company but life is about making choices, and at 63 years old I still have many things I want to achieve besides my executive career.”

The business awards season continued in May with the North East Exporters’ Awards at Ramside Hall, where Cramlington-based industrial lighting specialist A-Belco Ltd, which makes more than half its takings through overseas markets, take the top prize.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer