A Year in Business; Business Post Editor Martin Williams Looks Back at the Highs and Lows of 2012

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Year in Business; Business Post Editor Martin Williams Looks Back at the Highs and Lows of 2012


JANUARY Crisis-hit fish farm Selonda (UK) Ltd was sold, saving 32 jobs.

Administrators announced it was bought by a purchaser to trade as Anglesey Aquaculture Limited.

Workers at consumer giant Unilever took to the picket line in a row over pensions. More than 300 staff at the company's IT headquarters in Ewloe began a 24-hour walk-out after proposals to axe a final salary pension scheme.

Airbus revealed it had beaten Boeing in the annual sales race, ending 2011 with 1,600 aircraft orders, compared with just over 900 for its US rival.

Glyndwr University chiefs were confident it would remain independent amid fears the Wrexham seat of learning could be merged or taken over by Bangor and Aberystwyth universities.

A report released by the National Assembly for Wales revealed lower business rates, a mixed retail offering and better coordinated policy, planning and financial levers were needed to rescue our ailing high streets.

Businessman Iain Falconer aimed to become the UK's leading supplier of commercial electric vehicles by opening a PS1million factory in Minffordd, creating up to 80 jobs.

FEBRUARY Ruthin civil engineering firm Jones Bros made a flying start to 2012 by securing three wind farm deals worth PS8.6m. The firm won contracts to build the infrastructure in East Yorkshire, the Outer Hebrides and at Leicestershire's largest wind energy project, near Swinford.

Workers at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant braced themselves for bad news as rumours circulated parent company General Motors was going to shut the factory. Officially, GM Europe remained upbeat - but sources close to the company were quoted as saying it is suffering from 'overcapacity', with a slowdown in European car sales.

JD Wetherspoon opened a new pub in Ruthin, creating 45 jobs. The company spent PS2.1m on renovating and redeveloping the former Castle Hotel.

More than 3,000 jobs were axed when ailing fashion chain Peacocks was sold to Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

In North Wales and Cheshire, stores in Wrexham, Flint, Ellesmere Port and Chester closed, with the loss of up to 70 staff. Bangor, Rhyl, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Mold, Holywell and Connah's Quay remain open.

MARCH Frozen food king Malcolm Walker bought back the Iceland chain he founded in a deal worth PS1.45bn. Mr Walker, who started the Deeside-based company more than 40 years ago, will own 43% of the business.

The Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth cut jobs after a review. The centre, which opened in an old slate quarry in 1974, holds courses and welcomes 50,000 visitors each year.

More than 40 staff at a furniture factory found out they were facing the axe. Remploy's Wrexham site was one of 36 across the UK set to close, leaving more than 1,700 vulnerable workers facing compulsory redundancy.

Thousands of public sector employees in North Wales faced years of pay freezes because of a Budget decision to bring in local wage rates, critics warned. They said Wales would be the hardest hit place of anywhere in the UK by the policy, because of claims it had the biggest pay gap. There was also disappointment Chancellor George Osborne did little for hard-pressed motorists, facing soaring prices. However, Mr Osborne did give the go-ahead to the first Enterprise Zone in Wales, in Deeside, and announced boosts to mobile phone coverage and broadband provision.

Energy giant DF Suez/International Power (IP) announced it was to close Shotton Combined Heat & Power (CHP) plant by the end of 2012. It meant the loss of 32 jobs.

APRIL Two north west Wales businesses were named among the 100 fastest growing firms in the UK.

Holyhead Boatyard Ltd and Pwllheli-based Portgrade Ltd - holding company of Afonwen Laundry - made it into the Investec Hot 100.

The Gwynedd group reached 65 in the list with 34% compound turnover at PS16. …

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