To quote one of the city’s best-loved sayings: it’s never dull in ‘ull.
When it comes to business across Hull and East Yorkshire in 2019, no expression could be truer.
The last 12 months have seen major investments, unveilings and takeovers, as some of the region’s biggest companies hit the headlines.
Who could forget the month-long KCOM takeover saga, which culminated in a dramatic auction between rival bidders Macquarie and USS?
There’s been some big-money announcements in 2019. INEOS unveiling its £150m plant at Saltend, RB opening its long-awaited £105m Science and Innovation Centre in Hull, and Siemens having early plans for its £200m Goole rail factory approved.
For all the good news though, there have been unfortunately been some setbacks.
The last calendar year has seen the likes of aerosol manufacturer McBride and furniture manufacturer Kingstown close their doors.
Such is the merry-go-round of business.
Here, Business Live takes a look at all the standout news stories from the world of business in 2019.
Smith & Nephew announces £80m Ceterix acquisition
Smith & Nephew agreed to buy an American medical technology firm in a deal which could rise to more than £80m.
The Hull-headquartered medical equipment manufacturer paid an initial $50m (£39.6m) to acquire Ceterix Orthopaedics Inc, followed by up to $55m (£43.6m) over the next five years.
Ceterix is the developer of a device which helps surgeons repair meniscal tears – an injury found in the knee.
Hull business APD bought by global giant NEC
The Hull software company announced it had been bought by a section of global corporation NEC.
APD, which supplies control room software to emergency services and airports, was acquired by Northgate Public Services.
The deal came on the back of a strong 2018 for the business, which saw turnover increase to more than £9m, and operating profits soar by almost a third.
Drax captures carbon dioxide for first time at power station
Carbon dioxide was captured for the very first time at Drax Power Station in February.
Drax is currently piloting a BECCS (Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage) project, which aims to capture harmful emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.
It was the first time carbon dioxide had been caught from the combustion of a 100 per cent biomass feedstock anywhere in the world.
INEOS announces £150m investment in Hull plant
Chemicals giant INEOS announced plans to build a new £150m facility at its site in Hull.
The new plant will produce Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM), a key component used in adhesives, textiles and packaging.
INEOS pledged to create 40 new jobs at Saltend Chemicals Park, doubling its existing workforce.
Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm generates first power
Clean energy was produced for the first time at the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the coast of East Yorkshire.
Hornsea Project One will once fully commissioned generate 1.2GW of electricity.
All of the 174 turbine blades for the wind farm were manufactured by Siemens Gamesa at its facility in Hull’s Alexandra Dock.
Croda had planning granted for its £7m Goole warehouse, and the green light was also given to two new luxury car dealerships in East Yorkshire – one for Porsche, and one for Mercedes-Benz.
Smith & Nephew announces £500m Osiris deal
Smith & Nephew followed up its £80m Ceterix deal with a major £500m deal to buy American medicine firm Osiris.
The US specialises in regenerative medicine products.
The acquisition came as Smith & Nephew aimed to increase its own revenue by up to 3.5 per cent in 2019.
Kingstown Furniture closes in Hull
The manufacturer closed its doors without warning on Wednesday, March 13, leaving almost 300 staff out of work.
Administrators at the time cited “challenging market conditions” and a drop in sales as the reason for the shock closure.
Kingstown Furniture was a long-standing family business, with more than 40 years of experience.
Bus operator EYMS rebranded to East Yorkshire, and announced £6m of investment into new buses. Elsewhere, Hull’s McBride aerosol factory closed its doors for the final time, with around 100 jobs lost.
Ideal Boilers wins two prestigious Queen’s Awards
Hull manufacturer Ideal Boilers won a Queen’s Award for both International Trade and Innovation in April.
The business, founded in 1906, was one of just over 200 businesses in the country to receive a prestigious accolade, to celebrate Her Majesty’s 93 birthday.
Ideal Boilers collected a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation back in 2014, but the awards are only valid for five years.
Plans submitted for £200m Siemens train factory in Goole
Plans for Siemens’ new £200m train factory in Goole were submitted, in a move which would create up to 700 jobs in the town.
The state-of-the-art facility, which would initially build more than 90 new tube trains for London’s Piccadilly Line, would take up a 104-acre site on the Goole 36 Enterprise Zone.
Early plans were submitted to East Riding Council for the factory, which is hoped to be fully operational by 2025.
The first takeover bid for KCOM – from Universities Superannuation Scheme – was submitted, triggering a dramatic race for the business.
British Steel enters liquidation
British Steel collapsed into liquidation, putting almost 25,000 supply chain and direct jobs in the Humber region at risk.
Business leaders spoke out across the estuary as they fought to save the company, and Humber LEP chair Lord Haskins said “every possible option” must be explored.
Since then, Chinese buyer Jingye Group entered talks to takeover British Steel. Those talks remain ongoing.
Siemens Gamesa completes blade order for Scotland’s biggest wind farm
The last of more than 250 turbine blades manufactured by Siemens Gamesa in Hull for Scotland’s largest wind farm were installed.
Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, a joint venture which includes energy company SSE Renewables, can now generate enough clean electricity to power over 450,000 homes.
All of the turbine blades for the world’s fourth largest offshore site – and Scotland’s biggest – have been manufactured at Hull’s Alexandra Dock facility.
Wren creating 1,200 new jobs with £120m Barton investment
Wren Kitchens unveiled plans to 1,200 jobs at its headquarters near Hull as part of a £120m new manufacturing facility.
The kitchen giant has submitted plans to build a new 910,000 sq ft factory next to its existing site in Barton-upon-Humber.
Wren Kitchens currently employs more than 1,500 people at its headquarters in Barton, with another 1,000 employed at its sites in Hull, Howden and Scunthorpe.
Heeco collapses in Hull
One of Hull’s oldest electrical engineering companies collapsed into administration after 111 years in business .
Heeco – the Humber Electrical Engineering Company – had more than 100 years of experience in providing electrical services both on land and at sea.
All 47 members of staff were made redundant and the firm stopped trading with immediate effect.
Big names including Lord Sugar and then-Siemens UK boss Juergen Maier speak at The Business Day in Bridlington – the finale of the blockbuster 2019 Humber Business Week. Elsewhere, the Humber LEP also released its draft industrial strategy for the region.
Macquarie wins KCOM takeover race
Telecoms investment specialist Macquarie won the takeover race for KCOM, after it came in with a massive £627m bid on the final auction day.
Going into the finale of a week-long battle for KCOM, Macquarie was just ahead of rival USS after its bid of £578m on Thursday.
Both prospective buyers had to submit one final bid for KCOM. Macquarie’s £627m offer was significantly higher than USS’ final bid of £589m.
Cranswick buys Mediterranean food firm Katsouris Brothers
Hull FTSE giant Cranswick completed the acquisition of Mediterranean food firm Katsouris Brothers for a fee which could rise to £50m.
The takeover was worth an initial £43.5m, with a further £7m set aside dependent on the performance of the business.
Katsouris Brothers operates from two facilities in Wembley, London, and employs around 250 people.
Funding was secured for Hull’s @TheDock tech campus expansion, and Siemens had outline plans approved for its £200m Goole factory.
KCOM’s £627m takeover completed
KCOM’s £627m takeover by Australian firm Macquarie was completed, with early details for the future of the broadband provider revealed.
Those plans included expanding KCOM’s network beyond East Yorkshire and opening its current network up to other firms to “improve customer choice and retail competition.”
Macquarie also outlined its intention to keep KCOM’s headquarters rooted in Hull.
Smales announces plans to close part of Hull factory
Historic Hull fish merchant F Smales & Son announced the potential closure of its chilled seafood division, putting almost 100 jobs at risk.
The firm, which had been running in Hull since 1937, said the loss of business with a major customer – discovered to be Aldi – had contributed to the decision.
It came as a bitter blow for Hull’s food sector, with Smales being one of the UK’s biggest fish and seafood suppliers.
House of Fraser closed its flagship Ferensway store in Hull city centre for the final time.
End of an era as Lawns Caravan Show leaves East Yorkshire
The 2019 Lawns Caravan Show was the last to be held in Cottingham as the exhibition bid farewell after 44 years.
The six-day event has for decades been the most anticipated trade fair of the year for the caravan and holiday home industry, and includes big-hitters including Willerby, Swift, ABI and Coachman.
However, after over four decades in Cottingham, the boss of one of Hull’s biggest holiday home manufacturers confirmed 2019 will be the show’s last year in East Yorkshire.
The event will move to Harrogate to form the largest outdoor show in all of Europe.
Ideal Standard plans to axe 95 jobs in Hull
Ideal Standard announced plans to cease bath production at its facility in Hull, putting 85 jobs at risk.
The company, which began making bathrooms in the city in 1936, revealed in September proposals to move its bath manufacturing out to an existing site in Egypt.
Ideal Standard said the decision to start the process “was not taken lightly” and added it was “not related to the quality of work or skilled people in Hull.”
Humber LEP chair Lord Haskins announces he is to step down from the role, and Siemens Gamesa announces it will make all the wind turbine blades for offshore site Hornsea Project Two.
£12m Aura Innovation Centre construction completed
A major milestone in the Humber region’s clean energy journey was reached as work was completed on the £12m Aura Innovation Centre.
The centre, at Hessle’s Bridgehead Business Park, will bring together experts from the University of Hull with ‘green’ companies across the region.
Working in collaboration, the innovation centre will provide a space for businesses to develop new renewable energy technologies, create a stronger supply chain, and spearhead the Humber’s low carbon ambitions.
Lagoon Hull unveiled for first time
In October, bold plans for Lagoon Hull were revealed for the first time.
Costing an estimated £1.5bn, the project aims to dramatically re-shape the city’s waterfront with a new road built in the Humber estuary.
Supporters say the scheme would provide a major long-term boost for the city by helping to create 14,000 jobs, reducing congestion and ensuring enhanced long-term flood protection.
Wren has its £120m plans for a new manufacturing facility at its headquarters in Barton approved.
Construction underway at Arco HQ and C4DI expansion
Two major construction milestones were passed in Hull’s Fruit Market district in November.
First was the breaking of ground at the site of Arco’s new £16m headquarters. The project – the largest development of its kind in the city for over half a century – will eventually see over 500 Arco staff move into the new, five-storey complex.
The second big landmark was the announcement building work had started on the expansion of Hull’s @TheDock tech campus.
Once completed, the new building will free up space in Hull’s thriving C4DI centre, creating room for innovative tech start-ups to move in.
Hull hosts two major conferences
November saw Hull’s Bonus Arena play host to two major energy and climate change conferences.
First to be held was the Energy & Clean Growth in the Northern Powerhouse conference – a two-day event which brought together business and political leaders from across the North of England to discuss and debate the future of energy.
That conference was quickly followed by The Waterline Summit. Organised by Marketing Humber, it hoped to highlight the opportunities up for grabs as the Humber region transitions to a zero-carbon economy.
Hull business MKM announces the acquisition of Brooke Ceramics for an undisclosed fee.
RB announces £200m investment in Hull
Global health giant RB opened its new £105m Science and Innovation Centre in Hull, creating 200 new jobs.
The S&I Centre, at RB’s site in Dansom Lane in Hull, will act as a global innovation hub for household products including Nurofen and Strepsils.
RB, with roots in Hull which date back to 1840 with the creation of Reckitts, has also committed £95m to significantly upgrade its manufacturing facilities in the city.
Hull Trains rolls out £60m Hitachi fleet
Hull Trains rolled out its new £60m Hitachi fleet throughout December.
The new trains, running under the name Paragon, signal the start of an exciting new era for the UK’s smallest operator.
Five new trains were gradually brought into service throughout December, offering 5,500 extra seats per week, as well as greater reliability and a smoother ride.
How to contact Phil Winter and Business Live
Business Live’s Hull & East Yorkshire journalist is Phil Winter, also the business editor at the Hull Daily Mail and Hull Live.
You can follow Phil on Twitter @PhilWinterBiz, or on Linkedin by clicking here.
Alternatively, email him on email@example.com, or call 01482 315360.
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