Winners taking on staff and going for growth

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THE regional winners of the Yorkshire Post-backed Local Business Accelerators competition are expanding and creating new jobs in their communities.

Energy-saving specialist Compliance365 of Wakefield, logistics training provider Viamaster Training of Castleford, and online retailer Approved Food of Sheffield were selected by Yorkshire Post’s judging panel from 33 entries from companies across the region.

The Newspaper Society’s LBA campaign, supported by 500 newspapers across Britain, seeks to find Britain’s most promising young companies. It aims to give a boost to young businesses and help invigorate local communities.

Viamaster Training, Approved Food and Compliance365 all won mentoring from senior business leaders and free advertising in the Yorkshire Post and one will be chosen to enter the national final, which was won last year by Ilkley Brewery.

Approved Food, which sells short-dated grocery goods like tins of soup, rice and pasta, has seen its headcount increase significantly in recent times, with 16 new staff taken on since the start of the year. The business, based in Sheffield and now employing more than 40 people, started out as a market stall in 2009, before moving online. It buys in large quantities and passes on savings to customers.

Its annual sales last year were £3.25m, up from just under £2m the previous year, and Dan Cluderay, the founder, said he expects “significant” growth this year. “What really made us was that I wrote a system from scratch that absolutely models our business. That was what really took us from the 2009 embryonic stage to where we are now.”

The system helps the company build up profiles of its customers’ spending habits so it can target its market appropriately.

Mr Cluderay added: “Our customers are affluent people who actually want expensive products, but cheaper, they want really nice olive oils, they want good brands.”

Compliance365, based in Wakefield, is also expanding and now counts the likes of Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns among its client base. The business has developed cloud-based energy audit and certification services aimed at helping businesses and organisations save money on energy bills and reducing carbon impact on the environment.

Founded in October 2010, Compliance365 now has around 25 staff, with this figure expected to rise to 35 by the end of its current financial year, which closes in March 2014.

Malcolm Wallis, managing director at Compliance365, said revenues are growing year-on-year, adding: “A lot of organisations are wanting to reduce their running costs and operational expenses.”

Also using cloud-based technology, the business has developed C365 Online, an innovative compliance management system to help organisations and businesses manage their legislative obligations around an array of areas, from heath and safety to employment.

Commercial director Keiron Gavaghan said: “There are more than 80 statutory compliance areas which significantly impact on businesses and property owners if they are to remain within government legislation.

“Managing all the suppliers to complete the compliance checks and subsequent remedial actions takes up a lot of time, human resources and, ultimately, money.”

In Castleford, Viamaster Training, which serves public and private sector clients, is also growing rapidly with annual turnover up 83 per cent to £275,000 last year.

The business, which provides services including commercial vehicle driver training as well as instruction in health and safety, compliance and first aid, has also seen its headcount grow, with a current total of around eight full and part-time staff, some of whom are self-employed.

Andy Wood, training manager and a director at Viamaster Training, said: “In the last 12 months, what’s taken off largely is that we’ve moved into a contract with Barnsley College.”

The college provides training for unemployed people or staff facing redundancy in the region. “We are a provider to them of logistics training and we are one of the biggest partners on that front.

“We are also getting link-ups as training providers to independent companies. We have a contract for driver training with Yorkshire Water and work with other local companies.”

Viamaster Training recently moved from Morley to Castleford, as Viamaster Transport group consolidated its firms on to one site.