Your guide to who’s moving, hiring, investing, teaming up and winning awards this month
Office moves, expansions and acquisitions
Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group
Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which owns The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks, is set to open a further 100 stores in the next two years after recording strong sales and record profits.
The Group, which also owns fashion brand Jane Norman, homewares retailer Ponden Mill, and golfing brand Pro-Quip, said that its focus on quality, value for money products and positive customer service had helped it deliver strong underlying like-for-like sales across its brands in the year to February 28, 2015.
Total sales at the Group – which opened a total of 71 new stores in the UK and Ireland during the period – had increased to more than £562.6 million (2014: £551.9 million), with profits before tax rising by 28 per cent to £91.2 million (2014: £71.3 million).
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was also up 16 per cent to £100.9 million (2014: 86.9 million).
Continued investment in the estate will see the Group open a further 53 outlets in the current year, including five new overseas stores, and creating 800 new jobs. It will also further update its existing estate as it targets the organic growth of both its Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks brands.
The group currently operates more than 1,000 stores across the UK, as well as hundreds of concessions and multiple e-commerce sites, and employs more than 10,000 staff across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Group commercial director Steve Simpson said: “Each of our brands has its own core focus, but they are united in their determination to reward strong customer loyalty with excellence in quality, value for money, and customer service.
“Whether they are cost-conscious mums looking for family fashion or discerning shoppers seeking a more timeless sense of style, our customers know they can rely on us to deliver what the quality they want, at the price they want, both on the high street and online.”
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill saw positive like-for-like sales, although it recorded slightly reduced total sales of £166.2 million (2014: £168.5 million) after closing a small number of underperforming stores.
Online sales grew by 15 per cent, partly thanks to enhanced e-commerce platform that allows ‘in store’ ordering and click and collect, while it had also increased its range to include ladies’ as well as men’s fashion, helping it broaden its customer base.
Sales in destination towns such as Oban, Fort William, Stratford, Oxford, and Windsor, also rose due to strong numbers of overseas visitors keen on buying British.
Peacocks, which focuses on value fashion for the entire family, grew sales by eight per cent to £351.7 million (2014: £324.9 million).
The business, which was founded in 1884 by market trader Albert Peacock as a Victorian penny bazaar, has so far received more than £150 million in investment since being bought out of administration in 2012. It now has 477 stores in the UK and Ireland, with international operations in a further eight countries.
Online sales at Peacocks rose by 62 per cent, including a 154 per cent increase in purchases made on mobile devices aided by the implementation of a new mobile optimised platform. Online sales also rose by 23 per cent at Jane Norman.
Simpson added: “Edinburgh Woollen Mill was already a category leader in over-40s fashion, and further broadening its demographic will only help it to continue its growth, both here in the UK and overseas.
“Peacocks, meanwhile, is benefiting from a truly omni-channel approach comprising online, mobile and high street, as well as out of town stores and concessions.
“While this has helped boost sales across both brands, control of sourcing and input prices has helped deliver strong margin growth.
“As well as opening more than 50 stores during the current year, we are now actively looking for new sites both here in the UK and overseas with a target of opening a further 100 new stores in the next two years.”
The Group said it believed the fact that it was debt free and with a strong balance sheet meant it was in a good position to continue its strong performance to date, despite increased competition and a growing squeeze on consumers’ disposable income.
Pagan Osborne – Sue Arrowsmith Roger
Property and legal firm Pagan Osborne has appointed Sue Arrowsmith Rodger as partner at its St Andrews practice.
Arrowsmith was one of the first solicitors in Scotland to complete the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners’ formal exams and has a particular interest in helping clients future-proof their estates and in the setting up and administration of Trusts.
Pagan Osborne’s chief executive, Alistair Morris, said: “Sue is a talented and skilled legal practitioner who prides herself on building close and lasting relationships with her clients. Her depth of knowledge and understanding of the requirements of our local clients means she is a perfect fit for the company.”
Change Recruitment Group – Steven Frost, Lynn Fairservice, Scott Taylor and Steven Fairlie
Change Recruitment Group says it’s continuing to transform its management team in a bid to adapt its offering to the ever-evolving market.
It has announced two significant hires and a series of internal promotions.
Steven Frost and Lynn Fairservice have been recruited to the roles of supply chain, procurement & operations associate director and business services associate director respectively. Frost will be based in Edinburgh, while Fairservice will work across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Scott Taylor and Steven Fairlie have been promoted to accountancy & finance associate director and investment & risk managing consultant respectively.
Group managing director Mark McFall said: “I’m incredibly proud to announce such a wealth of appointments and promotions. This year our main focus has been on business growth, internal development and transformation in order to guarantee a better client and candidate experience, and to evolve with the ever-changing recruitment industry.
“Business growth will come in three main forms, namely market specialisation, segmentation and the acquisition of new emerging markets along with greater emphasis on providing ROI for clients. Having created a senior team that has the drive, talent and the passion to rethink and develop our client and candidate engagement strategies, we are in a strong position to achieve great success in the coming years.”
Change says it has undergone a revolutionary year, achieving a head count growth of nearly 25% across the over Group, spread across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts – 400 new trainees
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has pledged to take on 400 trainees in 2016.
The independent UK hotel group, which operates a number of hotels in Scotland, says it will work in partnership with UK recruitment firm Total People to offer quality work placements in 17 of its 48 properties.
The initiative – entitled ‘Future Talent’ – will be embraced by three of its Scottish hotels: Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh, MacDonald Crutherland House Hotel in Glasgow, and Macdonald Inchyra Hotel in Falkirk.
Unemployed 16 to 24 year olds will be eligible to apply for the 16-week programme and experience various aspects of the hospitality industry, such as food and beverage, conference, and front of house roles.
After four weeks, individuals will be able to put their on-the-job training to good use within their preferred positions within the hotel and will be mentored by senior managers.
Candidates will also spend two days a week with Total People, which will deliver theory-based lessons.
Successful participants will then go on to graduate and be placed within a vacancy or apprenticeship programme at the hotel.
Kellie Rixon, brand director at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said: “Where university doesn’t appeal to school leavers, or graduates are looking for a change of career, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is offering young people a fully rounded, high quality, introduction to a career in the hospitality industry.
“As a leading name within the sector, we’re committed to providing real opportunities for people to enter employment. The training is rigorous, but participants will have access to some of the best in the business, putting them on a genuine path to success.”
The first cohort of 25 trainees are currently being selected and assigned to their hotels.
Bilfinger – BP
Engineering and services group Bilfinger has secured a £100 million contract to provide BP with maintenance services at two of its oil and gas terminals.
The three-year contract covers scaffolding, rope access, insulation, blast cleaning, painting and fire-proofing and will be delivered by Bilfinger’s Industrial Services division.
This agreement will see Bilfinger deploy more than 240 employees with many based permanently on-site at BP facilities at the Forties Pipeline System (FPS), Grangemouth and Sullom Voe Terminal (SVT), Shetland. Some 24 roles will be apprenticeship or trainee positions.
Bilfinger Industrial Services is one of two Bilfinger UK businesses to have existing agreements with BP, alongside its electrical engineering division, Bilfinger Industrial Automation Services. The global energy giant and the engineering and services group have worked together in the UK for more than six years.
Duncan Hall, executive president of Bilfinger Oil & Gas, said: “BP is a long term strategic partner for Bilfinger and we support them across their upstream and midstream assets. We have been delivering these specialist and critical areas of plant maintenance across these key UK assets since 2010.
“This latest agreement is a landmark for Bilfinger in the UK which further cements our position as a leading support services provider to the energy sector. Two thirds of all diesel and petrol sold in the UK comes from production assets that we help maintain.”
The Bilfinger UK group of businesses also includes real estate advisory firm Bilfinger GVA and integrated facilities management provider Bilfinger Europa. In total, the group employs more than 9,000 people across the UK generating revenues of £650 million annually. The UK is the second largest market for Bilfinger globally.
Graham Stewart, 20/20 Productions – Digital Innovator
Graham Stewart, senior digital designer at award-winning 20/20 Productions in Edinburgh, has been crowned Digital Innovator 2015 by the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC).
He said: “I’m delighted to have won the Best Digital Innovator award. It’s great to be recognised for the digital products we’ve developed. I’m lucky enough to work with a really talented team that understands our industry inside out – so thank you, guys. It was my colleagues that nominated me, and I’m very humbled to accept this award.”