Local businessman Karl Symmonds has completed the management buy-out of Tru-Plas, the home improvements company based in his home town of Haverfordwest.
Financed by a six-figure loan from the Development Bank of Wales, the management buy-out has enabled former owner and Director Rhys Hoddinott to handover Tru-Plas to Karl who first joined in 2018 and has since been responsible for the management of the business.
Rhys will remain involved in an advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition with customers and suppliers.
Established in 1991, Tru-Plas is a well-respected home improvements company that specialises in PVCu doors, windows, conservatories and porches throughout Pembrokeshire and South Wales. The company benefitted from the support of the Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme in 2020 to help manage the impact of the pandemic on the business and turnover is now on target to reach £1.2 million in 2021/22.
Since completing the management buy-out, Karl has already opened a new 100 square metre showroom and set-up a uPvc trade counter selling windows, doors, fixings, adhesives and accessories on a supply only basis.
Rhys Hodinott said: “We’ve built Tru-Plas with a philosophy that is focussed on people, product and punctuality. Indeed, we have always been very proud that we have so much repeat business from our customers who also take the time to refer us to their family and friends.
“Karl has been an integral part of our success over the last few years. I am delighted that I am now able to handover the business to him knowing that it is in a safe pair of hands and that he will continue to look after our much-valued customers with the same care and commitment that they have always known with Tru-Plas.”
Karl Symmonds said: “As a local person, I knew before joining the business that Tru-Plas has an impressive reputation for its friendly and professional customer service. My job is to now build on this excellent foundation as we continue to deliver for our customers throughout South Wales.
“We’ve got lots of exciting plans including the opening of our new 100 square metre showroom that will offer a great customer experience with dedicated car parking and we’ve opened a uPvc trade counter. But if it weren’t for the Development Bank of Wales then this deal simply wouldn’t have happened.
“It’s the first time that I’ve ever bought a business or been part of a management buy-out so I was naturally a little nervous about the process. However, the help and guidance from the Development Bank and our advisors meant that I was worrying unnecessarily.
“It really couldn’t have been any more straight-forward and I’m so grateful that we had the support of the Development Bank because they really are experts in structuring finance for management buy-outs. Their understanding of the art of the possible when it comes to funding options is pretty impressive.”
Ruby Harcombe, Investment executive for the Development Bank of Wales said: “This has been a lovely management buy-out to work on with a great team of people who have all supported each other and focussed on getting the deal done in a way that is best for all parties including customers.
“Management buy-outs are often a preferred form of succession planning as they offer vendors a quicker completion and they are usually the least disruptive type of succession as is the case with Tru-Plas. We’re delighted to have provided the funding that has enabled Rhys to reap the rewards of his hard work over the years and we wish Karl every success as he embarks on his journey as the new owner of Tru-Plas.”
The funding for the management buy-out came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund. Financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government, loans, mezzanine finance and equity investments from £50,000 to £2 million are available for businesses with fewer than 250 employees based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales. Terms range from one to seven years.
Financial consultants Carrie Barford and Emma Owen-Davies of Barford Owen Davies advised Tru-Plas along with Cardiff-based McTaggart Solicitors.
Carrie Barford said: “It’s been a pleasure acting as lead advisors on this management buy-out, working closely with the Tru-Plas management team and the Development Bank to structure the deal. We’re also thrilled to be supporting Karl and the team as they begin their next exciting chapter of growth and success at Tru-Plas.”
£67k contract win with leading power tools specialists for Swansea’s Uplands Communications
Uplands Communications is celebrating a major contract win to the tune of £67k, having closed a deal with a division of Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd.
The deal sees the Swansea-headquartered telephony specialists supply connectivity for more than 130 users.
Techtronic owns brands including Ryobi, Milwaukee and AEG. The company enjoyed record 2021 worldwide sales of US$13.2 billion and has more than 51,000 employees.
Paul Hooper, MD of Uplands Communications, which is based in Swansea, said: “We are pleased to forge a new partnership with Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd, a leaders in its field which is committed to ensuring its customers receive the best experience whenever they interact with the business.
“The past two years have been challenging for businesses across all industries, including for telephony and communications, and, of course for construction and for their supply chain colleagues.
“However, we are seeing, across the board, companies becoming increasingly aware of the need to make sure their communications are in the best shape possible and are modern and fit for purpose.
“The pandemic has brought about a sea-change in the way consumers and businesses interact with each other. Carefully-tailored telephone and communications solutions are more essential than ever if businesses want to thrive.”
Natasha Russell, Financial Accountant at Techtronic said: “We operate a multi-million pound operation across a range of products and sites and we deal with a broad customer base – both commercial and domestic.
“The solution we sought from Uplands will give us a more seamless billing functionality and smoother processes, as well as more robust day-to-day support. We are pleased to enter into an agreement with Uplands Communications and we look forward to our ongoing relationship with them.”
Uplands Communications, based at Swansea Enterprise Park, is a leading managed services company delivering flexible voice, data and mobile communications.
The firm, which has its HQ in Swansea and an office in Somerset, specialises in independent network management and providing bespoke, converged solutions that aren’t tied to technology and supplier.
64% of Wales employees set to leave due to cost of living
During the biggest cost-of-living crises most people will have ever experienced, only 6% of employees in Wales believe their employer is doing enough to support them through the crisis.
Even though staggering 72% believe their employer has a responsibility to support them through the current climate.
That’s according to new research from Blackhawk Network, which says that according to employees, employee benefits are no longer just added incentives, they are now a way for employers to support their staff.
It says it’s now essential employers are informed on what employees want and ultimately need from benefits schemes to help guide them through the cost-of-living crisis.
Other key findings in Wales show 94% of employers agree that they have a duty to support their employees as the cost-of-living rises, with 79% of employees saying employee benefits play, or could play, an important role in improving the cost-of-living
Almost two thirds (64%) would leave their current job in order to find an opportunity that provides better financial support during the current cost-of-living crisis.
The findings come from research conducted by Blackhawk Network in conjunction with Sapio, to support the launch of its new Blackhawk Network Extras Benefits Platform.
Workplace benefits are hot property at a time of crisis
According to the UK-wide data, 85% of employers agree that they have a duty to support their employees as the cost-of-living rises. While raising wages might seem a simple fix, businesses are also impacted by rising costs and inflation making pay increases unviable. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can do to help. 83% of employees agree that workplace benefits play an important role in helping to balance finances as the cost-of-living continues to rise; and 95% of employers agree.
It is telling that almost a quarter (24%) of employees admit they’ve already used their benefits package more during the cost-of-living. In addition, almost three quarters (73%) of employer’s state that prospective employees are looking for employee benefits as part of the solution to the crisis.
Employers must dial-up on support to have real impact
The report says that dialling-up cost-of-living support through employee benefits is a must when talent is at risk. For example, salary sacrifice, where employees are offered the option to pay for services or products from their salary before they receive it to reduce tax, can be found with offers such as Cyclescheme, on technology or gym memberships, to save money that would otherwise eat into pay. However, there are still barriers to overcome.
When employees were asked what the term ‘salary sacrifice’ meant, almost three quarters (73%) admitted they did not fully understand it, including 18% who had not idea at all. In contrast, to almost all employers (98%) believing employees understand it to some degree. There is a clear disconnect between the employer and the employee, yet salary sacrifice can save employees money and help in mitigating the effects of the cost-of-living crisis.
If employers want to support employees, they need to make information about benefits, like salary sacrifice, more accessible and digestible to prove that it can have a real-life impact on their current financial situation by making their pay go further.
Over half (53%) of employees say they would be more likely to use salary sacrifice schemes if they had a better understanding of how they work. But this is an issue that only employers can fix. Better communication is essential to close the perception gap on employee benefits to be the support employees want and need during the cost-of-living crisis.
Chris Ronald, VP EMEA Incentives & Operations at Blackhawk Network said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that employers have a vital role to play supporting their employees during the cost-of-living crisis. But the rising costs also mean that businesses are unable to offer blanket wage increases.
“Our research takes an in-depth look into the current state of employee benefits and the perceptions of the employees who are in a position to use them. With the release of this research, we hope to give businesses the tools they need to improve their benefit packages so they continue to support staff throughout the crisis.”
Welsh insulation company partners with Swansea University to explore capturing carbon emissions
Brigend-based insulation company ROCKWOOL Ltd. has announced it is partnering with the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University to research the capture of carbon dioxide.
Researchers are aiming to develop new carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) technologies that can assist Wales and the UK achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Researchers at ESRI have been working on a process called Pressure Swing Adsorption to separate carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases. To date, this has been shown to work under laboratory conditions and so the next step is to investigate how it works in a real life industrial process.
Over the next 12 months, researchers will be experimenting with different adsorbent materials and operating conditions to determine the most effective method for removing carbon dioxide. Isolating carbon dioxide from a mixed gas stream is an important step in developing opportunities for use or long term storage.
Darryl Matthews, Managing Director of ROCKWOOL Ltd, said: “Alongside ROCKWOOL Ltd.’s membership of the South Wales Industrial Cluster, I am delighted we’re partnering with Swansea University to pilot new technology designed to capture CO2 emissions and are excited about its potential in supporting the drive to Net Zero.”
The demonstration unit is being developed as part of the £11.5m Reducing Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) project which has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and is aimed at the deployment of industrial scale demonstrations of new technology.
Darryl continued: “Taking these important steps to understand how we can develop CCUS technology further is another important piece of the decarbonisation puzzle for us as a business. The ROCKWOOL Group has long been committed to operating sustainably and in December 2020, ROCKWOOL announced commitments to accelerate the decarbonisation of our business, with specific long-term targets verified and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.”
Professor Andrew Barron the Principal Investigator of the RICE project summarized the achievement, “with 2050 arriving fast, the time for research is over, it is imperative to get new technology onto industrial sites in order to demonstrate viability. Partners such as ROCKWOOL are vital in achieving this goal.”
In 2020 the ROCKWOOL Group announced ambitious, science based global decarbonisation targets that have been verified and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The targets, which supplement existing sustainability goals, amount to an ambitious one third reduction of ROCKWOOL’s lifecycle (Scope 1, 2 and 3) greenhouse gas emissions by 2034 while at the same time continuing the reduce the carbon intensity of production.
These commitments build on ROCKWOOL’s existing status as a net carbon negative company, in that over the lifetime of its use, the building insulation ROCKWOOL sold in 2021 will save 100 times the carbon emitted in its production.
Welsh Government Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “These are the partnerships that will drive a stronger, greener Welsh economy. Putting world class expertise into practice is critical to our journey to net zero and this work means Bridgend will play a leading role in these exciting developments. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the project through the European Regional Development Fund.”
(Lead image: ROCKWOOL)
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