Manufacturing hidden gems on either side of Hadrian's Wall

Manufacturing hidden gems on either side of Hadrian's Wall

 16 Mar 2017


For many years, heavy industry dominated the manufacturing scene in Northern England and Scotland.  Nowadays it could not be more different or varied. It is an area which much to offer, and many hidden gems that are attracting attention.


Take Hexham based soft drinks company, Fentiman’s for example. For over 100 years, it has been making artisanal drinks like Curiosity Cola, Victorian Lemonade, Rose Lemonade and Wild English Elderflower.  Over the past six years, a focus on exports has led to such strong sales in the US, Belgium and Austria that it has been listed at number 30 in the Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 league. Not surprisingly, the company now has ambitious growth plans.


Alcoholic beverages are also attracting attention.  The number of micro breweries has escalated dramatically.  According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) there are now 115 breweries in Scotland, compared to just 93 in 2015. Brewing is becoming highly popular, catering for discerning drinkers wanting to try a wide range of beers.  Typical of these breweries is Born in the Borders Brewery which is a multi award winning microbrewery adopting a ‘plough to the pint’ ethos.  Its real ale has evocative names such as Foxy Blonde, Holy Cow and Gold Dust, and is brewed using barley grown in adjacent fields.  It even a unique product called Wild Harvest using locally foraged ingredients to flavor an alternative range of beers.


Repurposing waste has provided opportunities for other businesses.  Ogilvy Vodka is an award winning alcoholic drink created out of rejected waste potatoes.  Sufficient to say that export deals are being negotiated with Australia, Japan and America! 


While Celtic Renewables have taken waste products from whisky distillation and created a biofuel capable of fuelling cars.  It’s first factory is about to be constructed in Scotland.  Equally unexpected is a company that has created a substance from vegetables that is strong enough to be made into a fishing rod.  CelluComp’s Curran fibre is derived from the extraction of nano-cellulose fibres in root vegetables like carrots and sugar beet. They say that the fibre can be used in paints, shampoos, face creams and oils.

There are already column distilleries in Scotland that are burning by-products of the distillation process as a fuel for their own whisky manufacturing process and up in Speyside Rothes Distillers (CoRD) and Rabo Project Equity have joined forces to create a biomass-fired CHP plant. This facility has an annual fuel input of 115000 tonnes of wet draff (whisky distillery by-product ) from local whisky distilleries and over 60000 tonnes of clean uncontaminated wood chips. This impressive process utilises a combination of draff and wood chips to generate 7.2 Mega watts of electricity which is enough to supply 9 000 homes, not bad for a previous unwanted waste product!


To the south of Hadrian’s Wall there are more companies that are attracting attention. Weardale Cheese are creating some of the most sought after cheeses in the area.  Based in the unlikely setting of a former Prisoner of War Camp, the white and blue artisan cheeses with names like St Cuthbert and Bonny Moor Hen are proving to be best sellers.


Other companies to watch for include five firms that have just won bespoke packages of support from the South Tyneside Export Growth Programme. The range of products manufactured by these five companies emphasizes just how great the versatility of this area has become. The five companies are: Ford Components which specializes in high precision engineering; Herban UK suppliers of essential oil products to animal feed producers; Katy Sue Designs a craft and cake decorating product manufacturer; MAC SciTech which focuses on the maintenance of electronics and advanced manufacturing equipment and gaming merchandise supplier Yellow Bulldog. 


It is small to medium sized companies which are leading the way in virtually every business sector. Innovative, creative and adaptable this is clearly the future of Scotland and Northern England.


There can be little doubt that investors seem to agree.  Last year, South African bank Investec chose Leeds as the site for its first investment banking office outside London.  According to Investec’s Dan Sheahan “A lot of private equity deals have been in the north. We felt there was a gap in the market for a full-service investment bank for mid-market entrepreneurs.

Scott Buchanan - Recruiting Partner

Bonfire Recruitment


Currently there are no comments. Be the first to post one!

Post Comment