If Government believes in levelling up it should study Yorkshire Fastest 50 - Greg Wright

If the Government really believes in levelling up, it should take a long, hard look at the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50.

As businesses across Yorkshire are infuriated by the malfunctioning public transport system, post-Brexit labour shortages, supply chain disruption and soaring inflation, it’s important to seek out reasons to be cheerful. The Fastest 50, which has been held in partnership with The Yorkshire Post since 2011, honours the dynamic profit-making, private companies who are the real Northern Powerhouse. Instead of fighting culture wars, the Government should listen to business people who are rolling their sleeves up and creating jobs.

Last year, central Government was in turmoil, as Boris Johnson’s Premiership finally came off the rails and his successor, Liz Truss, proved to be hopelessly out of her depth. Rishi Sunak’s arrival at Number 10 in the autumn steadied the ship a little, but many business leaders must have felt like they had been dragged through a hedge backwards as policies were devised and ditched in a matter of weeks. Political uncertainty often leads to reduced levels of investment. The Government has said it remains committed to levelling up, although many people will wonder if we will see the fruits of this policy in our lifetimes.

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But nothing, it seems, can stop entrepreneurs who are determined to plough onwards through stormy seas. Take for example, Power Sheds, which came home with two trophies from the Fastest 50 awards.

The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 shines a light on the region's rising starsThe Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 shines a light on the region's rising stars
The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 shines a light on the region's rising stars

Power Sheds was crowned as the fastest growing company in Yorkshire, after experiencing an exponential rise in turnover over the last three years, recording average growth of 268.8 per cent.

So what’s its secret? Bradford-based Power Sheds was created in 2019 when its founders, Jack Sutcliffe and Simon Hobson, noticed that consumers often struggled to assess the quality of the sheds they were buying, especially when shopping online.

As parts of the economy were paralysed by lockdown, the company’s turnover rocketed as it placed the emphasis on quality and durability, instead of just hitting sales targets. The company had already won a hatful of trophies before last week’s ceremony.

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Perhaps most significantly Power Sheds is committed to equality and diversity in manufacturing. It’s keen to see more women and people from a wide variety of backgrounds take up careers in the sector. As Power Sheds acknowledges, UK manufacturing has a large gender and diversity disparity, and progress appears to be moving at a glacial pace.

With the country facing a seemingly perpetual skills shortage, industry’s traditional approach towards recruitment needs to be left in the past. Power Sheds aims to be a part of a movement that revolutionises manufacturing and ensures it has a long term future, as more companies seek to hire staff close to home.

The economy cannot secure growth without companies like Power Sheds. If the Government is serious about reducing divisions between the regions, it should pick the brains of bosses at Power Sheds and the other business leaders who secured stunning rates of growth while politicians exchanged jibes in the Westminster village.

Greg Wright is the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post