Positive energy for future across Hull and East Yorkshire business

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 21 Dec 2016

IT HAS been the year of Brexit, its shockwaves being felt across many sectors and fears voiced about its impact on the world of business.

But the success stories that continue to be told through these pages and elsewhere have shown the resilience of Hull and East Yorkshire businesses in meeting challenging situations head-on.

The uncertainty continues, but the region's companies have emerged from the shadow of the Brexit vote, ploughing on with their growth strategies, finding new markets for their services and, in some cases, reporting post-referendum success they had not even dreamt of.

Green Port Hull and the recent opening of Siemens' £160m blade factory have been central to renewables developments in the region.

The offshore wind turbine facility was officially opened by business secretary Greg Clark earlier this month and forms part of a £310m transformation of Alexandra Dock by Siemens and Associated British Ports.

Having altered the physical face of Hull, it is hoped it will also change the city's employment prospects, with 700 jobs already created and plans to reach 1,000, with the majority of employees coming from Hull and the surrounding area.

TRG Wind, a turbine support company, also chose Hull as the base for its European offshore operations this year.

A number of communications companies have been helping to transform Hull's digital landscape, with plans to continue that upward trajectory in 2017.

Hull-based KCOM passed a landmark 100,000 properties reached with its ultrafast fibre broadband this year, and is hoping to have rolled out Lightstream to at least 150,000 properties by this time next year.

The eyes of the world were on another local communications firm this year, Connexin, when it was awarded a contract by Hull City Council to deliver free public wi-fi across the city.

The firm said the development of its flagship network in Hull would be used as a model to showcase its offering nationally and internationally.

Manufacturing and exporting are both sectors that have remained optimistic, and are forging on in the wake of the vote, many companies seeing it as an opportunity to strengthen their growth ambitions in new areas.

Chaucer Food Group, of west Hull, a global producer of freeze-dried foods and specialist bread products which was recently bought out by a Japanese firm, expects to increase its exports significantly over the next three years, believing "Leave" has created many advantages that can now be seized upon.

Another Hull company, food giant Cranswick, said sterling's weakness after the Brexit vote had made the cost of British pork more competitive internationally and cheaper for UK retailers than EU imports.

The FTSE 250 firm saw its Asia exports grow 60 per cent to £50m in the first quarter alone, compared with last year, as it capitalised on China's appetite for pork and the country's dwindling domestic supply.

There have been the continuing developments of RB's £105m laboratory complex at Dansom Lane, in east Hull.

The Centre for Scientific Excellence is billed as the largest investment in the pharmaceutical company's 170-year history, and is due to open in 2018.

Retail has had its share of milestone moments in 2016, with developments including the opening of a flagship Next store in Kingswood – a huge department store, complete with garden centre – which has created 150 jobs.

Last month, The Derwent Group announced more new store openings at its Anlaby Retail Park, including arrivals by fashion retailer Peacocks and Cancer Research UK, following on from a Food Warehouse – the latter being a first for the region as frozen food retailer Iceland sought to expand its Food Warehouse brand to 19 sites across England and Wales.

The hospitality sector has also had its place in the headlines, with work beginning in Hull on the largest conference and events venue outside Leeds and Manchester.

The city centre's DoubleTree by Hilton hotel is costing £25m to build and will offer 165 beds and an events facility for up to 1,000 people when it opens next November.

This year also saw a revamped programme for Humber Business Week, hailed as one of the most successful in the history of the event, and companies highlighted for their award-winning people and activities – not least those heralded at the Mail's own Humber Renewables Awards and the Hull Daily Mail Business Awards, which celebrated a new dawn for the local economy.

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