Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paying Tribute to the Region's Rising Stars

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paying Tribute to the Region's Rising Stars

Article excerpt

THE Newcomer of the Year accolade recognises the rising stars among the North East's youngest companies that have made the most impact.

Teesside firm PJA Distribution Ltd scooped the big prize last year, presented at the North East Business Awards.

The Thornaby retailer develops and sells mobile accessories to customers in the UK.

Founded by managing director Andrew Simpson, the company started trading from tiny premises with one part-time employee in 2010. Just three years later, the workforce exceeded 50.

But it's the company's policy on recruitment as much as its rapid growth, which has won praise.

Just days after winning its Teesside heat, PJA Distribution had appeared on BBC's The One Show for helping to tackle youth unemployment.

PJA Distribution took part in the Government Youth Contract programme, offering potential new recruits eight-week work placements in return for a permanent role. The Youth Contract programme provides opportunities for 18-24-year-olds to help them get experience of work, including sector-based work academy placements and support from a coach in local Jobcentres.

The company has also taken part in a round-table discussion about youth unemployment chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Bosses say that, where possible, the company aims to provide opportunities to young people in the community, offering real jobs in customer services, stock control, its warehouse and in website administration.

The company has also recently announced a three-year rapid expansion plan as it moves into new premises on Thornaby's Teesside Industrial Estate.

Turnover has increased from PS1.5m in 2012 to an anticipated PS7m this year and exports have grown worldwide. Mr Simpson said: "Mobile phone accessories have become a 'must have' fashion accessory and we've been able to secure suppliers in China and export our stock worldwide.

"Purchasing premises for the business not only provides security for the future but it also enables us to increase stock and production so that we can offer more lines. With low interest rates we decided the time was right to make that investment decision. …

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