Colors: Purple Color

The CEOs of City First Bank in Washington, DC and Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles have decided to merge to create one of the largest in the US - and Black-led Minority Depository Institution (MDI) in the nation - with more than $1 billion in combined assets under management and approximately $850 million in total depository institution assets.
Brian E. Argrett, CEO of City First, will be CEO of the newly combined company, which will use City First as its banking brand but keep the publicly-traded Broadway Financial Corp (BYFC) as its bank holding company. Wayne-Kent A. Bradshaw, Broadway’s CEO, will be the chairman of the new company.

Combining the two institutions increases their collective commercial lending capacity for investments in multifamily affordable housing, small businesses, and nonprofit development in financially underserved urban areas while creating a national platform for impact investors.

Both banks have held a strong financial position as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and have a longstanding history of advancing economic and social equity through the provision of capital in low- to moderate-income communities. The combined institution will maintain its CDFI status, requiring it to deploy at least 60% of its lending into low- to moderate-income communities.

CDFIs help to close funding gaps, create jobs, expand critical social services, and spur equitable economic development with a mission to strengthen the overall well-being of vulnerable communities. Since the beginning of 2015, City First Bank and Broadway Federal Bank have collectively deployed over $1.1 billion combined in loans and investments in their communities.

The new institution will maintain bi-coastal headquarters and will continue to serve and expand in the banks’ current geographic areas, with a desire to scale to other high-potential urban markets. As a national bank, the combined entity intends to continue to operate under the supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and to be listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

In a potential bid to restart the persistent near standstill in transatlantic travel UK and US government officials are reportedly looking at establishing regional air corridors. Localized travel bubbles could allow for UK quarantine exemptions for passengers from low-infection rate areas, such as New York, and jumpstart the world’s most revenue-generating route.

Even as the UK removes more and more European countries from its quarantine exemption list, talks seem to be moving ahead on a travel corridor with the US. Regional “air bridges” could allow people arriving from areas with low infection rates, such as New York, to forego the 14-day quarantine requirement currently in place.

A source said: “There are discussions going on at a very senior level around opening up London and New York. They are at a very early stage but it is vital to get business going with a major trading partner especially as we near Brexit”.
Before corona restrictions were imposed, London-New York was the world’s most revenue-generating route, with over $1 billion in annual sales.

Business travellers to the UK from the US spent £1.06 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019, according to Statista. This is far more than the £372 million ($495 million) spent by Germans in second place, or the £199 million ($265 million) by the French.
At the moment, along with all other Europeans, UK nationals are still prohibited from entering the US. Similarly, any Britons returning from the States are subject to a two-week-long quarantine. While all of the USA remains red-listed, some states and areas are experiencing much lower rates of infection than others.

Early virus hotspot New York has, following strict lockdown measures, reduced its weekly infection rate to 7.2 cases per 100,000, which is lower than the UK’s 11.3. At the same time, other areas such as the southern states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana are faring much worse.

But, of course, as the term implies, travel corridors are a bilateral affair. The US must make equal considerations. Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, told the Telegraph that these talks could increase pressure on the UK to introduce COVID-19 testing on arrival.

Mr Charles said: “The US will only agree to this if there is proper testing in place in the UK. The delay in establishing a testing policy is in danger of holding up the opening of commercially-important travel corridors”.

Only a week ago, Germany’s leading aviation industry group, BDI, proposed the creation of limited air-travel corridors between major US and European hubs. The proposal would require passengers to produce a negative COVID test before flying.
The pilot project would include Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Newark in the US, and Frankfurt and Munich in Germany.

Severn Trent is encouraging its customers to look back to the Swinging Sixties, after it was revealed that people now use more than 50 litres of water each day, compared to 60 years ago. That’s the equivalent of an extra 200 cups of tea or coffee every day for everyone in the UK, as the average person uses around 130 litres each day now.

The recent ‘Great British Rain Paradox’ report supported by the Environment Agency suggests the UK could face water scarcity in just 25 years, if behaviours towards water don’t change.   Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said on the report:

“People might wonder how a country with such a reputation for rain like the UK could reach a tipping point where demand for water outstrips supply in just 25 years. But this may become a reality if we don’t take action to save water now.  The fact is a convergence of factors underpinned by climate change has led us to this frightening prospect. But if we all take concerted action now we can ensure that there will be enough water to go around for generations to come.”

So the fact is that in the future we may have less water available, and yet we’re using more and more.  So looking back to the Sixties may well help us when we’re looking ahead.

Severn Trent says we’re using water in different ways these days compared to the Sixties - most of us will now have water hungry devices like jet washers, sprinklers and huge paddling pools which all contribute to the increases in consumption. So in this unique Summer with more people at home than ever before, its encouraging its customers to think about their water use and get into good water saving habits now for the future.

Doug Clarke, Severn Trent’s Water Resource Lead, said: “While the world has certainly changed over the last 60 years, one thing’s for sure, we can all still learn a thing or two about saving water from those in the Sixties.

“Today we’re likely to bath or shower more, be watering our garden more often with sprinklers, have bigger paddling pools and while no one wants to stop people washing their hands, having showers or even having fun with water, we really want to encourage people to maybe be a bit more Sixties, and a little less 2020s in how they think about their water use.

“There are loads of really simple ways to save water – you can use a water butt to harvest rainwater which you can then use to water your plants and garden, turn the tap off while your clean your teeth, reuse your washing up water on your plants or use a bucket and sponge to clean your car” said Doug.

“And super soakers might not have been around in the Sixties but they’re great fun for kids and grown-ups, and use a heck of a lot less water than giant paddling pools!”

Some of the top ways you can save water include:

Putting the garden hose or sprinkler away; a brown lawn quickly bounces back to green when it rains again;
If you’ve filled your paddling pool up, keep the water for the next day by simply covering it. This will also help keep any creepy crawlies out!
If you’ve got a traditional toilet without the two button flush, order a free Buffaloo from Severn Trent that’ll reduce how much water you use each flush.

You can also get your hands on some free water saving devices, visit

There are now only a few more days left for businesses to submit their applications to host an event in the 2020 Black Country Business Festival.

The Festival closes its doors to new event applications at 5pm on Friday 14 August. Anyone can run an event and it can be about anything so long as it helps other businesses or employees to learn, share or grow. Events can be digital, physical or a mix of the two, where a minimal amount of delegates will be able to attend while the event is live-streamed. A Business Festival digital platform has been created on ‘Zoom’ [digital live streaming platform] to allow event organisers to run their events online.

Already there are nearly 80 events in the Business Festival which is taking place from 5 to 15 October. There is a good mix of physical and digital events which shows that businesses have really adapted to new ways of working. Tickets to events will start to go live on the Business Festival website ( from 17 August. Events are split into sectors to make it easy to browse and sort and there are so many different topics there is bound to be something for everyone.

Sandwell Council in conjunction with construction company, Balfour Beatty is running a virtual ‘meet the buyer’ event on 8 October, where they will be sharing tips with local supply chains on how to win business on the landmark £267m MMUH healthcare project as well as some of Balfour Beatty’s other regional projects such as the redevelopment of the Black Country Living Museum. In Walsall, the council’s Works, Skills & Jobs Expo on 5 October is an all-day event for businesses and training providers, where there will be details about jobs, apprenticeships and courses for local residents.

Business Festival partner, the University of Wolverhampton is once again holding several excellent events which range from examining the advantages and disadvantages of developing brown field land right through to Intellectual property protection on innovations and the business of cyber protection.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, which initiated the BCBF three years ago, said, “There is such great engagement from the business community that the Festival is proving to be a showcase in itself of the positivity and resilience of the Black Country. But there are only a few more days left before the portal closes so any business wishing to be part of this brilliant fortnight needs to get their application in now.

“This is the third year of the Black Country Business Festival and this year is possibly more important to our businesses than ever before, because of the solid platform on which to re-energise and re-engage that it provides.”

The BCBF relies on sponsorship from organisations in the Black Country. The 2020 Festival Partners are: University of Wolverhampton, Talbots Law, Dudley Business First, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and the Black Country Growth Hub; sponsors are: Wolverhampton Racecourse, Thomas Dudley, Casino36 and M6toll.

The Festival is also supported by Gecko Programmes, Sandwell Council and Walsall Council with media partners, Elonex, Signal 107 and Metro and app partner, Infonote.

Survey shows shoppers in the West Midlands expected to shop second-hand to save money and support those in need, following pandemic

Charity shops could be vital to the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by helping people save money, shop sustainably and fund charitable services, according to a new survey. 

The survey commissioned* by the British Heart Foundation showed that over a quarter of adults in the West Midlands (28%) feel that charity shops are more important to society following Covid-19, while just under four in ten (38%) agree that being sustainable and thinking about the environment when they shop is more important than before.

Of those who think charity shops will be more important for society in the West Midlands: 

Over three in five (64%) say it’s because charity shops provide affordable items to those with financial concerns.
Over three in five (62%) say it’s because they raise funds for charitable causes at a time many of these causes are in high demand. 
More than half (52%) say charity shops are vital because they prevent items from being thrown away.
Four in ten (40%) respondents say they provide jobs and volunteering opportunities in community at a time the UK is facing recession. 

Last year alone, thanks to the generosity of donations to our shops the BHF helped re-use an incredible 71,000 tonnes of items and prevented 135,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. The BHF say the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the benefits charity shops bring to the economy and consumers, from saving people money, to preventing items going to waste and funding causes that have given vital support to people during this time. The charity hopes its shops will be a first stop for those wanting to declutter and donate as people are more conscious of these benefits than ever.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This pandemic has been devastating for so many of us and the reopening of charity shops is going to be vital for millions as we look to recover. Charity shops provide high quality items at affordable prices, power charitable services that have never been more in demand, re-use thousands of tonnes of items and provide a community space for so many volunteers and customers.”

 “Every pound raised in our shops helps us to support the 660,000 people in the West Midlands living with heart and circulatory diseases, many of whom are at increased risk from Covid-19. Shopping at the BHF will help us, help them.”

At the end of March, the BHF temporarily closed its 750 nationwide shops in order to protect staff, volunteers and customers. The charity has since revealed that its funding budget to support research into heart and circulatory diseases may be reduced by £50 million this year and needs the public support more than ever to maintain progress.

Just £16 worth of your donations can support an early career scientist in carrying out an hour’s research and £25 gives a researcher an hour’s access to equipment. If your donations raised £100, this would fund a DNA extraction kit to identify genes linked to heart and circulatory diseases. 


Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok Win 2020 Travellers’ Choice Award By TripAdvisor for Exceptional Hospitality

The Covid-19 has definitely affected many people in one way or another, but it hasn't stopped the two sister hotels - Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok, Hong Kong from achieving more. Last week, both hotels saw their hard work being paid off when they were announced the award-winners of the 2020 Travellers' Choice Award by TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel platform.

The annual award recognizes the top 10% of hotels that perform exceptionally well in the hospitality businesses based on a large volume of positive travellers' reviews received globally and verified by TripAdvisor in the past year.

Ms Anita Chan, General Manager of Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok said: "Despite tourism industry being heavily impacted by Covid-19, our commitment to serving our guests with genuine hostility has never once been shaken by the pandemic. Winning this award has a special meaning for us this year. Not only does it assures our guests that we are still a trusted place to stay, it also proves that nothing is impossible with a passionate heart.

“Therefore, I want to take this moment to thank all our guests for their support and to the hotel staff for doing a marvelous job in keeping guests safe and well during these extremely challenging times. We wouldn't have achieved this without the trust of our guests and the full support from our people".

At Dorsett, the safety and well-being of the guests and staff has always been the top priority.

In the past few months, they have been taking cautious steps to upgrade our safety measures.

They have partnered with Ecolab and use their medical grade disinfectant; we also incorporate technology to increase cleaning and disinfecting efficiency, such as the AI vacuum cleaner and AI thermal scanner.

They have also launched a new foodpanda menu to enhance our in-room dining experience, and a vending machine fully-stocked with sanitizing amenities and daily necessities to provide convenience for in-house guests.

"We are better prepared than ever in face of the pandemic in Hong Kong. When you are ready to travel again, we are ready to serve you at Dorsett," said Ms Chan.



The latest research by leading property recruitment specialists, Rayner Personnel, has revealed which areas of the UK offer the greatest potential earnings for estate agents operating in that particular market.  

Rayner Personnel looked at the average monthly earning potential on offer across each of the UK’s regions and major cities, based on the average fee and the average number of monthly property transactions. The research shows that across Britain, there is some £274.4m up for grabs in estate agency commission every month.

In England, the current average fee of 1.5% means that potential earnings hit £248,667,842 per month, based on the average earning potential of £3,774 per property completion, multiplied by the 65,895 transactions that take place on average every month.  

Regionally, London tops the table as the most lucrative region for estate agents based on monthly earning potential. With an average fee of £8,501 and an average of 6,867 sales each month over the last year, there is a potential £58.37m to be earnt each month in the capital.

The South East isn’t far behind (£56.29m), followed by the East of England (£34.18m), the South West (£32m) and the North West (£21.13m).

Outside of London, Edinburgh is the second most lucrative city. On average, 953 transactions completed every month over the last year, generating a potential £3.26m in estate agency income on a monthly basis.

Birmingham (£2.99m), Leeds (£2.71m), Bristol (£2.31m), Bournemouth (£2.3m), Sheffield (£1.61m), Glasgow (£1.56m), Cardiff (£1.47m) and Manchester (£1.27m) also rank as some of the most potentially lucrative major cities for estate agents on a monthly basis.

Founder and CEO of Rayner Personnel, Josh Rayner, said:  “London is always going to drive the market in terms of volume and estate agent earning potential due to the generally higher fees. However, it’s important to remember that while these potential earnings differ by region and city, so too does the number of agents battling it out for this business.  

“The threat of the online and hybrid model hasn’t escalated to the levels previously expected, but they still pose a threat in terms of acquiring transactions across the UK which will also reduce available income.  

“While we appreciate that not every agent charges the average fee for their services, we wanted to highlight that the UK property market is alive and well despite wider uncertainties and estate agents can still make a very good living.  

“Of course, one way to ensure you acquire as much potential business as possible is to have the very best team, delivering the very best service in your given area. This comes down to hiring the right people, with the right attitude and this can be the difference when it comes to staying ahead of the competition.”


Flour Mills of Nigeria release positive audited financial performance report, finishes strong with a record 184% growth in after tax profit


FMN (Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC) the largest Agro-Allied and food group on the Continent of Africa, recently announced its audited financial performance for the 2019/2020. The report released on the 3rd August to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, highlights a number of remarkable achievements despite the prevailing economic headwinds and difficult operating terrain in Apapa, Lagos. 


In line with the group’s management focus of developing Nigeria’s self-sufficiency within the agricultural value chain, FMN has invested heavily (over 150 billion Naira) in recent years to ensure Nigeria has the infrastructure and capabilities to create its own raw materials to support the food sector.


This is now clearly paying off as the Agro-allied segments saw strong profit growth in Oils and Fats and Proteins, with a Gross profit doubling both segments on an annual basis. 


The Group realized a revenue growth of 9% (YoY) to N574 billion naira, Profit Before Tax also increased by 72% (YoY) to N17.5 billion Naira and a whopping 184% (YoY) Profit After Tax increase to 11.4 billion Naira.


Commenting on the result, Paul Gbededo, the Group Managing Director said: “The 2019/20 financial year was a remarkable year for our Group and I am really pleased with the result.

Our Profit Before Tax saw a remarkable increase of 72% to 17.5 billion Naira, while our Profit After Tax nearly tripled from 4.0 billion Naira last year to 11.4 billion Naira in the current year. This is partly attributable to the improved performance of our Agro Allied Businesses and in line with our strategy to continue to grow the wealth of our shareholders.”


He further stated: “We will remain focused on increasing operational efficiency within the group as we continue to implement our accelerated cost optimization plans across all businesses to ensure profitability in the new operating environment.”

Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc was incorporated in September 1960 as a private limited liability company and commenced operations in 1962 with an installed flour milling capacity of 500 metric tonnes per day. In 1978, Flour Mills of Nigeria was converted to a public limited liability company and its shares were subsequently listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange. Today,

Flour Mills of Nigeria is the largest flour milling company in Nigeria, with an installed flour milling capacity of approximately 12,000 metric tonnes per day. The Company continuously strives in its purpose to “Feed the Nation, Everday” through its five core food value chains: Grains, Sweeteners, Oils and Fats, Proteins and Starches. The Company is increasing local content in a substantive and sustainable way with its “farm-to-table” model in order to further mitigate reliance on imports and exposure to external volatility in the food business.

Flour Mills of Nigeria remains Nigeria’s largest and oldest food and agro allied company, with a broad product portfolio and a robust pan-Nigerian distribution network. The Company’s three major business segments are constantly evolving to meet the diverse needs of all stakeholders.



The latest completion of an 11,000 sq. ft warehouse by Stepnell has been a project with a difference, with the construction firm not only acting as the landlord, developer, principal contractor, and employer’s agent, but also successfully implementing its “whole team” approach to deliver in an efficient manner.

Acting as a “complete construction partner”, the detached warehouse is part of the latest phase at OGEE Business Park in Wellingborough.

Stepnell provided master-planning to create more than 350,000 sq. ft. of high-quality warehouse, industrial and office space. The 24-acre OGEE Business Park offers design and build opportunities available for sale or to let through Stepnell’s property team.

The warehouse unit is being leased by one of Stepnell’s existing tenants at the business park, Double R Glass and Roofing Systems Ltd. The double-glazing supplier is expanding from its current warehouse at Ogee Business Park that it has leased since the unit was first built by Stepnell ten years ago.

The new warehouse, located at the entrance to the business park, features fully fitted office space, including kitchen areas, a reception space and private offices.

Edward Wakeford, property director at Stepnell, said: “We are delighted to have completed our latest project at OGEE Business Park. The development showcases our ability to offer a complete service; from planning and construction, all the way through to the development overseen by our dedicated team.

“Using our own in-house expertise and property management team, we’ve been able to manage the project as a whole rather than having to tackle each part individually, making for an efficient build. We are proud to be able to offer this end-to-end approach, helping to provide continuity and consistency throughout the development.

“We are really pleased to have supported our tenants Double R Glass and Roofing Systems on this development as part of their business growth and to provide the new warehouse facility, which they will now expand into. Stepnell built the first unit that Double R Glass and Roofing Systems occupied for the past ten years and it is great that we are able to continue the relationship.”

Made up of a steel portal frame construction, the building also features fully landscaped external areas, providing a loading area with two five metre high loading doors as well as a dedicated car park for up to 17 vehicles. Once fully complete, OGEE Business Park - situated on the Finedon Road Estate and approximately a mile and a half north of Wellingborough town centre - will bring new investment and commercial opportunities to the area, providing new jobs for the Midlands region.

Stepnell’s in-house property management experience includes an £8 million commercial development at Stepnell Park, which features ten industrial warehouse buildings and will eventually house a new head office for the 154-year-old family-owned firm.

Badby Leys in Rugby, a development of three homes, which was completed at the end of March 2020 was also fully developed, built and managed by the construction company. Other occupiers at OGEE Business Park include Bedford Battery Company Ltd, Double “R” Glazing, Robinson Manufacturing and Tripal International.

There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Sandwell in recent weeks. This has been partly driven by outbreaks in workplaces.

Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “We need businesses to let us know if they have two or more cases of COVID-19 among their workforce. We can help to prevent a larger outbreak. If businesses delay in letting us know then outbreaks can become out of control and the business may need to close.

“Businesses should also contact us is they need advice on how to prevent coronavirus infection in the workplace. We can offer a telephone or on-site visit and really help them make their workplace COVID safe. 

“Business owners can get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling the Healthy Sandwell team at 0800 011 4656.

“If employees are concerned about COVID cases or prevention at their workplace they can also contact us at the details above.  Obviously, anything they tell us will be treated in confidence and they can remain anonymous if they wish.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader for Sandwell Council wants to reinforce the message to businesses and asks for everyone to work together. She said: "We are ramping up our efforts with local businesses as these potentially hold the key to making sure we don't get large outbreaks of Covid-19 in Sandwell.

“We need everyone to work together to stop outbreaks and I urge business owners and employees to get in touch with any concerns they have.

“It is in the interests of all businesses to contact us so we can provide the necessary help to business owners and save them from a potential closure.” 

For more details about getting in touch, go to

Businesses and employees should adhere to the following advice:

Anyone who develops symptoms – persistent cough, temperature or loss of smell or taste – needs to immediately self-isolate for 7 days.
Where possible people with symptoms should be isolated from others in the household who do not have symptoms. If you develop symptoms book a test immediately online or by calling 119.
Avoid any unnecessary interaction with people from outside your household. Crowded environments should be avoided. 
If you have to go out, maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (preferably 2 metres) from other people and wear a face covering.

City of Wolverhampton Council is calling on the city’s home-based businesses to check if they are eligible for the second round of its Discretionary Grant Scheme.
The fund is offering free grants to small businesses who have seen trade and sales drop significantly due to the impact of Covid-19, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.
The deadline for applications is noon on Thursday, August 6, 2020.
Businesses MUST demonstrate they are a registered business, were trading as at March 11, 2020, and show loss of income and property costs such as mortgage or rent.
The scheme is aimed at small businesses who have been ineligible for previous Government grants such as the Small Business Grant and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

The Government initially awarded City of Wolverhampton Council £2.3 million for the Discretionary Grant Scheme, with more than 130 eligible businesses awarded grants in the first round.

The second round of the scheme continues to support those businesses in the city which have a small workforce, operate in shared premises, are regular market traders, small charities and bed and breakfasts which pay council tax rather than business rates.

But it has also been broadened out to help businesses that employ up to 50 employees, who have relatively high ongoing property costs and have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The council will continue to operate the scheme on a first-come, first-served basis until the fund is exhausted.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “Many of our struggling home-based businesses will not have qualified for previous Government grant schemes, which is why it is critical they take advantage of this opportunity now.
“These second-round grants are to help those small businesses which have been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus.
“Our priority in distributing this funding is to help businesses recover and retain as many employees as possible.
“Many of these businesses are the bedrock of our local economy and our local community. These grants could prove critical in their recovery and that of the city.
“I would urge businesses to check the guidance and submit their applications as soon as possible as grants will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.”

With more than 90% of its income comes from visitors paying an entrance fee, Westminster Abbey has declared that it is down more than £12m in revenue this year and is set to make about 20% of its staff redundant as a result of the lockdown. It closed its doors on 20 March and only began to reopen for limited tourist visits on July 11.

The dean of Westminster Abbey, the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle, said: “The coronavirus had dealt a shattering blow to the Abbey's finances”.

Separately, the Church of England's 42 cathedrals are projected to be down more than £28.4m on what they thought their budgets would be this year.
They are projected to lose another £15.5m next year.

The Association of English Cathedrals, which represents Westminster Abbey and the Church of England's 42 cathedrals, warned job cuts would hit churches around the country when the government's job retention scheme ended in October.

The Abbey's financial reserves would be depleted by a third from September, Dr Hoyle said, and would continue to fall as visitor numbers were not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for up to five years.

"There is a real need here," he said, warning Westminster Abbey expected a similar "breathtaking" loss of between £9m and £12m next year as well.

The Abbey is open for services and visits, but numbers are limited as social distancing is enforced.

Ambitious independent logistics operator Europa Worldwide Group which recently opened a state of the art site in Corby (Northants) has revealed its results for year-ending 31st December 2019, showing another 16.5% growth with a record turnover of £205million.
Europa has a huge presence in Minworth, at Prologis Park which is home to all four divisions of the business, Europa Sea and Europa Showfreight as well Europa Road’s regional team and a 16,536m2 Europa Warehouse.
These figures show that Europa has succeeded in achieving the target it set 12 months ago to exceed the £200million mark.
Europa Worldwide Group has six divisions – Europa Road, Europa Air & Sea, Europa Showfreight, Europa Warehouse, Europa Contact Centre and Continental Cargo Carriers  and has featured in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for two years running. 
In 2019 Europa’s turnover increased from £176million to £205million – a £29million increase – and net profit before tax increased to £6million from £5.2million in 2018.
The business, which has just opened a £60million future proofed 715,000 sq ft state-of-the-art, 3pl logistics facility in Corby (Northants) has also reported an increase in its net assets, which now stand at £12.9million compared to £8.4m in the preceding financial year.
2019 saw a year of huge investment by Europa – including the acquisition of part of the assets of Menzies at the start of the year.  This included Menzies’ warehouse based in Rushden, Northamptonshire and its PCI compliant contact centre based in Ashford, Kent, from its parent company, Menzies Distribution, to strengthen the Europa Warehouse division.
Other investment during the period included £250,000 in refitting its Birmingham site as part of a company-wide estate improvement.  The business also invested hugely in Brexit preparations, including over £2m in its Dartford transit warehouse to increase racking capacity by 75 per cent.      
Europa has continue to invest in its systems including further developments in the bespoke IT system “Leonardo” which continues to expand and will eventually provide a fully harmonised system for every aspect of the business’s operations.  Utilising the latest technologies, this sophisticated system provides in-house control to improve responsiveness, efficiency, productivity, and scalability.  Europa has already launched 10 different Leonardo modules deployed across the operation from road freight to finance.
Finance Director at Europa Worldwide Group Adam McBride said: “The 2019 results are our best yet and show a really positive, solid year of growth for our business across all divisions. This has enabled us to continue investing throughout the business and across teams, which will allow us to continue this fantastic growth and meet any challenges head on.
“2019 saw us add two more sites to the group as well as increase the headcount to support the progression of the business, so we are happy with the figures. 
Managing Director at Europa Worldwide Group Andrew Baxter added he was pleased with the figures for last year, but his focus is on driving the business successfully through the impact of Covid-19. 
Andrew comments “The growth in 2019 was a result of the great team we have as well as our continued dedication to providing the best, most efficient services for our customers. This enabled us to win new business across the divisions and I am very proud of what we have achieved.”   
Europa Worldwide Group has continued to operate all of its services, across all divisions as normal throughout the pandemic with staff, where possible, working remotely.  The company refused to add Covid-19 surcharges to it services or reduce any of its operations. 
He said: “From March onwards we like every other business were hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic but I believe we have weathered the worst of it pretty much intact, as well as opening our new Corby site on schedule which is a massive success.  Our ongoing investment in technology has certainly paid dividends this year.   
“I am really happy with the results from 2019.  We anticipate that this year will be a different picture with limited or modest growth due to the pandemic, but we are highly optimistic for 2021 and march on towards our target of achieving £400million turnover.”

A Telford nursery, which was left devastated when its premises were destroyed in a major blaze, is celebrating after receiving a £10,000 donation from its neighbours.
The dramatic fire completely destroyed Halesfield Day Nursery’s playground which was full of wooden huts and playhouses as well as sand trays, furniture and toys. But thanks to a £10,000 donation by its kind-hearted neighbours, Besblock, the nursery is now able to get on with renovations ready to open back up in September. 
Concrete manufacturers Besblock were also affected by the fire at the Halesfield 23 industrial estate in June. 

Managing director Andrew Huxley said: “There was widespread fire damage to a lot of our buildings.

“We lost the works canteen, as well as the parts warehouse and a lot of stock was destroyed. We were looking at a six-figure bill.”

He said that he was devastated by the impact of the fire on his long-running family firm but that his heart went out to the other business on the site who had suffered too. “It’s been a tough year for us all, but especially the staff there who have been looking after key workers’ children throughout the Coronavirus lockdown. 
“We knew we had to help them get back on their feet somehow.”
The £10,000 donation has been used to get brand-new soft pour flooring outside and will also go towards a full outdoor learning experience for the children including an outdoor classroom. 

Nursery manager Helen Childs said: “We were completely overwhelmed by Besblock’s donation - it’s so very kind of them.

“Without the support from Andrew and his team, who knows when we would have gathered the funds to start rebuilding the outdoor space. 
“Thanks to them, we’ll be able to offer our children a full outdoor learning experience in September, which is a total game-changer for us.” 
Besblock has given away more than £50,000 to charities in the last five years. 
The firm also sponsors Newport Rugby Club, Shropshire Cricket Club and Shropshire Disabled cricket club, too.



Birmingham City University is set for a £5 million expansion to its City South Campus, which will provide additional teaching and training space for more than 1,000 healthcare and education students.
The University has acquired a new property at 12 Harborne Road, close to its campus in Edgbaston, to boost capacity and learning space for students taking up courses at its Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences.
The building has been purchased for £2.2 million with a further £2.8 million to be invested to transform it into a state-of-the-art training facility for students.
The new building will provide a host of additional teaching space for existing students, as well as creating capacity to train over 1,000 more public service professionals of the future.
The Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences is the largest trainer of undergraduate nurses in the Midlands, and also offers training for a range of public service careers, including allied health professions and teaching.
Executive Dean of the Faculty Professor Ian Blair said: “This is a truly fantastic acquisition for the University and Faculty.  It will facilitate practical skills development for our nursing programmes and provide much needed teaching space for all courses based in City South.
“This could not have come at a better time for the Faculty as we continue to expand our student population and curricula offering.”
The acquisition will also see the University’s Skills Practice and Care Enhancement lab relocated to the state-of-the-art building.
This follows a £41 million extension to the City South campus opened in 2018, which provided professional level learning facilities for all HELS courses, including specialist facilities for those studying to become primary or secondary school teachers.


Lotus establishing new advanced technology centre at
University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus

Lotus have just announces a dedicated and specialist advanced technology centre, which will also be home to a new headquarters for the company’s engineering consultancy.
Located on the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus, the new facility is established in partnership with WMG at the University of Warwick.  WMG is an international leader in successful collaboration between academic research, teaching, training, and industry. The substantial facility consists of offices, workshops and laboratory space with ample opportunity for expansion.
Initially, 130 engineers will move in, complementing the 500-strong engineering team at the home of Lotus Cars in Hethel, Norfolk.
Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus Cars, said: “This is a big step forward for Lotus and our engineering consultancy.  The new space, facilities and job opportunities at Wellesbourne will be in great demand as we rapidly build our portfolio of external projects.  Our team and specialist skills have grown significantly in the last two years as renewed impetus has been put in to the business with new shareholders and management.  The all-electric Evija hypercar is the first new Lotus Cars product for us to deliver, with significant focus on this at Wellesbourne as we complete the project and continue to advance its technologies for our future programmes.”
Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, added: “Wellesbourne offers an excellent facility, with plenty of expansion potential, and will be the perfect home for our new advanced technology centre.  Our engineering and R&D strategy around advanced propulsion systems is lock-in-step with the Government’s vision and broader global ambitions for a low-carbon automotive future.  We look forward to working in collaboration with Government and with our new campus neighbours on this future.  Having research partners at the University and WMG will bring significant benefits, as will the Midlands location, which is both very accessible and home to a rich pool of automotive talent.”
Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK Government’s Business and Industry Minister, said: “The West Midlands has long been the beating heart of the UK’s automotive and engineering industries, and this announcement is further evidence that this proud history will continue. Lotus’ new advanced technology centre will secure over 100 highly-skilled jobs in Warwickshire, support a strong economic recovery across the region and drive forward the low carbon, electric technologies of the future.”
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said: “We are delighted to welcome this key part of such a significant and legendary technology based company to the University and our Wellesbourne campus. This is just the beginning of a partnership. I know that it will grow, thrive, and bring prosperity and new opportunities to both Warwickshire and the West Midlands, and will call on and benefit from the significant automotive and technology skills and talents of many people in our region.”
Margot James, Executive Chair, WMG, comments: “This is wonderful news not only for WMG, the University of Warwick and the region, but also for the UK automotive sector. The UK needs to retain R&D capability in our manufacturing sector, and at WMG we are working with partners on many R&D programmes which are focused on innovation and future growth towards net zero. We look forward to collaborating with Lotus on projects which seek to create a greener, more connected future”.
Councillor Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, said: “This is really good news for the Wellesbourne campus, Stratford-on-Avon District and the region as a whole. We are totally committed to supporting the development of the Wellesbourne campus. We see it as a major asset for both Stratford-on-Avon District and the region and we welcome the addition of 130 skilled roles to the District. We look forward to the future development of the campus.”
Lotus Engineering, which celebrates 40 years since its incorporation in 1980, works with customers all over the world.  The confidentiality of its work is paramount with strict firewalls in place between project teams.  Some of the more widely acknowledged Lotus Engineering programmes from the past include the Lotus Carlton, Tesla Roadster, multiple Formula 1 campaigns, and a host of products outside of the auto industry from Olympics track bikes to boats and light aircraft.  Today, Lotus Engineering’s specialisms include vehicle dynamics and advanced propulsion systems, encompassing lightweight structures, ride, handling and performance.