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US car giant to invest £19.4m in Chester start-up
February 13, 2019

American car making giant General Motors is pumping millions of pounds into a fledgling Chester company specialising in driverless technology. Wejo has received £19.4m from the automotive group, according to reports by Sky. General Motors, which last year sold its Vauxhall division for £1.9bn to the French owner of Peugeot and Citroen, including the Ellesmere Port Astra manufacturing plant in Cheshire, is also believed to have agreed a long-term data-sharing agreement with Wejo. This arrangement involves wejo managing data from millions of GM’s vehicles over a seven-year period. GM’s investment, having taken a 35% stake, is believed to value Wejo at £213m. Wejo was founded by entrepreneur Richard Barlow, who recognised the value of data from ‘connected cars’ to insurers, local authorities and breakdown recovery services. To date, the start-up has processed data from 78 billion miles of car journeys. Wejo employs approximately 150 people in the UK and US, and is expected to use its new funding to grow its workforce. It believes it can improve vehicle safety and the car-driving and ownership experience in areas such as real-time parking availability and local petrol price comparisons. This includes the ability to predict breakdowns and collisions, while monitoring traffic and air quality. “The value of this data to industries like traffic and mapping, urban mobility, insurance, parking and geolocation is potentially enormous,” one insider said. Sources also claimed that, as well as the GM investment, wejo will continue to work with a range of other major car manufacturers. It is believed that GM’s backing will make wejo the most valuable British start-up in the connected car space, amid an anticipated explosion in the number of internet-enabled vehicles during the next decade, as well as boost its efforts to turn itself into a genuinely global data exchange. Analysts at Gartner expect the connected car market to grow to more than 250 million cars by 2025, with 20 million cars projected to be on the wejo platform by the end of the year, according to internal company forecasts. Last year, Mr Barlow recruited Tim Lee, the former head of GM’s business in China, as its new chairman A wejo spokesman told Sky News: “GM has more experience with connectivity than any other automaker and wejo’s data scientists are at the forefront of analysing and understanding the data generated by vehicle sensors. “Together, we will create even more value for customers from connectivity.”

Haulage firm expands with the aim of Southern growth
February 13, 2019

JWT Commercial, a growing independent haulage firm, has expanded its footprint at the Port of Liverpool by investing in more than five acres of land. It will use the new site to manage its growing workload as more and more businesses start to ship their cargo closer to their destination – a move that will see the rebalancing of UK logistics flows. JWT’s site at the port includes five acres of container storage facilities, allowing it to handle larger volumes of goods for distribution to stores across the UK. JWT has also spotted an opportunity to work with Peel Ports’ other UK ports, including London Medway and Great Yarmouth, and has invested almost £2m into new trucks, with trained staff ready to be deployed to the South East ports. The move will allow them to transport a range of cargo, including steel, bulk and containers, that are bound for other areas of the UK, including Greater London. The move comes as cargo owners continue to experience growing delays in the South-East and re-route using alternative solutions. JWT estimates it will be able to operate upwards of 100 containers per week for each customer through the new service. Last week multibillion-pound value retailer B&M announced plans to increase its imports in to the Port of Liverpool by 30% after growing increasingly frustrated with delays at Southern ports. JWT is the inland logistics supplier for the retailer. Jon Whiteley, JWT director, said: “We are delighted to be investing further at The Port of Liverpool and to be working so closely with Peel Ports. “Not only does this relationship allow us to be closer together, it allows us to offer customers a joined-up approach to logistics, and a consistently efficient service. “Because of the current delays being experienced across major ports in the South East of the UK, there is a real gap in the market to anticipate increased cargo throughput through ports, including London Medway and Great Yarmouth. “This investment puts us in a strong position to offer our services to cargo owners looking to transport their goods across the UK in the fastest way possible.” Stephen Carr, commercial director from Peel Ports, said: “JWT’s investment in Liverpool illustrates the confidence the firm has in growing even further this year. “With problems only expected to worsen as Brexit moves closer at Southern ports, congestion shows no sign of easing and delays get longer. “Because of this we are seeing ports such as Liverpool and London Medway benefit, and firms such as JWT able to help customers move their goods to where they are needed in the most efficient way possible.” JWT has also invested £500,000 at its Port of Liverpool base to create an automated system that will significantly speed up its turnaround time for containers travelling through the port. JWT Haulage is a family-owned haulage company that has been operating since 2001, based in Bootle, North Merseyside. It provides road transport across the UK, working with global shipping lines and freight forwarders. It currently employs around 135 staff.

New production line will add more capacity and safeguard jobs
February 06, 2019

Oldham-based Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) has unveiled a £3m production line to expand the manufacture of vinyl-wrapped doors. The second production line will serve UK and Irish customers. HPP manufactures its own-brand products including Avanti doors, Glide sliding doors, and Aspect and Aspire kitchens and bedrooms. It also supplies products by other UK and European brands. It currently offers 6,000 products which cover full and processed MFC (melamine faced chipboard) sheet material, vinyl-wrapped furniture doors and associated furniture fittings. The new production line enables HPP to increase output of its bespoke vinyl-wrapped doors from 30,000 to 45,000 units per month in the short term. In the longer term, it can increase manufacturing to 50,000 per month, or more. Oldham West MP Jim McMahon and Cllr Sean Fielding, leader of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, took part in an official opening ceremony. HPP managing director, Keith Wardrope, said: “It’s great to see people of such high-calibre and enthusiasm as Jim McMahon and Sean Fielding taking time out of their busy schedules to visit HPP. We all share a desire to support manufacturing and economic development, quality careers and skills. “This new production line shows the continuing importance of the company’s agenda of moving forward through automation while also securing jobs for people. “Automation can be seen as a double-edged sword, if it leads to job losses.