M&M Group – the Staffordshire-based business which incorporates Fix Auto Stoke-on-Trent, Fix Auto North Staffordshire, M&M  Information technology’s and M&M Signs & Graphics – are delighted to announce that owner and Managing Director Mick Whitehead has returned to work, less than two years after a serious motorsport accident.

Mick continues to recover well from his accident, and has now commenced light duties back in the business which will steadily build up over the course of 2019. One of his first actions has been to promote three members of his Management team to the board to reward them for their efforts in continuing to run and grow the businesses during his absence.

Angela Henry (Customer Service Director), Adrian Leese (Bodyshop Director, Stoke) and Tony Birchall (Bodyshop Director, Leek) have joined Mick and fellow director Dave Willett on the business’ Executive board to create a leadership team with almost 150 years’ industry experience.

Commenting on the appointments and his return to work, Mick Whitehead said: “Despite what has been a very tough period for me personally, I have been very impressed with the way everyone in the team has pulled together to ensure that all our businesses continued to thrive, both in terms of turnover and operational performance. It is a testament to their dedication, and to the structure and business practices that we have in place that this has been able to happen.

“Dave, together with the three new directors have led the business brilliantly over the past two years, and creating these new board positions feels like the right way to reward and thank them for this. I would also like to give huge credit to Deborah Broadhead, Company Accountant, who has also played a vital role from a financial perspective. But in truth, all 110 people in the business have done me proud, and I am very thankful for their efforts.

Dains Corporate Finance has advised ATP Industries Group Limited on the sale of ATP Automotive Transmission Remanufacturing Specialists Limited, ATP Electronic Developments Limited and ATP Holdings USA LLC (collectively “ATP”) to US-based ATC Drivetrain (“ATC”), a leading independent remanufacturer of automotive drivetrain components. ATP’s founder and major shareholder Alan Smart was advised on the cross-border sale by Roy Farmer and Rob Wilson of Dains Corporate Finance and Lodders Solicitors.

Founded in 1969 by former coal mining engineer Alan Smart, Cannock-based ATP is a leading European remanufacturer of automatic transmissions, including torque converters and automated manual transmissions, electronics and mechatronics, as well as a manufacturer of diagnostics systems and provider of associated services. ATP achieved revenues of £12.6m and EBITDA of £2.1m in the year ended 30 April 2018, which represented sales growth in the year of 24%. ATP’s client base includes various European and global automotive OEMs, including Ford, Volvo, Fiat-Chrysler, Aston Martin, JCB and many others.

ATP has achieved significant external recognition in recent years which has included being awarded the ReMaTec News International Remanufacturer of the Year (2013), Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Business Award Manufacturer of the Year (2015) and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Award for Excellence in International Business (2016). ATP was also granted a Queen’s Award for Innovation (2016) and a Gold Award Winner at the Ford Supplier Excellence Awards (2018), all of which reflects the standing ATP has in its markets and the wider business community.

Alan Smart said: “Having founded ATP in 1969, this year marks ATP’s 50th year in business and I felt it was an appropriate time to secure the next phase of ATP’s continued growth. The exciting combination of ATC and ATP will allow for ATP to increase the ways in which we can serve our customers and secures the future of ATP’s employees, many of whom have over 30 years of service. I am confident that ATC is the right home for my life’s work and that ATP will continue to flourish under its new ownership.”

“The team at Dains provided me with exceptional advice and guidance throughout the entire process and have achieved a very successful outcome. Their experience and expertise in managing the complex sale process was invaluable and I would not hesitate to recommend them to others in my position.”

Lead advisor Roy Farmer from Dains Corporate Finance added: “As a firm we have worked with ATP for over ten years and have been working closely with Alan during this period to develop his exit plans. We identified the US-based remanufacturer ATC as a potential acquirer at an early stage and it quickly became apparent once we had met with them that they would be a great fit with ATP, both strategically and culturally. We are delighted to have now completed the transaction, which will allow Alan to enjoy his retirement in the knowledge that ATP will continue its growth strategy under new ownership. The combination of ATP and ATC has created a group with over 130 years of global automotive remanufacturing experience and allows it to better provide products and services to its growing customer base around the world.”


ethero staffing, one of the fastest growing multi sector recruitment agencies in the UK “13th” has taken on new larger premises in Stoke-on-Trent after first opening in 2016. Taking a prominent site on Trinity Street in Hanley, ethero is now set for its next stage of expansion and is hoping to provide further recruitment support to its growing customer base in the region.

Managing Director, Gareth Hughes commented, “We have really enjoyed our first three years in Stoke and we are excited about the future. Our new offices are super high tech and specifically designed to ensure that we can provide the most modern, flexible  and effective recruitment services in the area. Over the last ten years ethero has built a reputation for doing things the right way for our customers. We ensure they really feel that we care about them and their business aims and we design our services around them.

Since we opened up in Stoke we have supplied over one hundred local Staffordshire companies with candidates across a broad range of skills sets from temporary staff into Industrial, food manufacturing and warehousing clients to senior candidates for management and technical roles. As a business our main ethos is to be an ethical and helpful supplier of first class recruitment services and we are looking forward to working with more fantastic local firms over the coming years. We can also offer specific training and testing as we have built a training suite into the new site. We can train and test anything from Food Hygiene Standards to Call Centre Techniques, Microsoft packages and even Sage accounting and payroll skills.”

You are invited….

The team will be holding an open day to showcase the new offices in conjunction with the Chamber on Wednesday 12th June and would like to invite all members to attend the event. Guests will have the opportunity to talk about staffing challenges they might be experiencing or any upcoming recruitment projects. There will also be the chance to meet Councillor Abi Brown.

Guests will also be able to view the brand new high technology training centre which is now available for corporate hire. With two dedicated training rooms, ethero is now able to offer a broad range of training and testing services both to its own staff and to the wider business community. The main training room is able to accommodate sessions for up to 20 delegates with full IT, projector, refreshments and washroom facilities. There is also a dedicated technology training and testing suite set up as a mini office with 5 fully operational desks with PC’s, phone system and an impressive list of different training modules available. These include, Call Centre Techniques, the full Microsoft Office package , Food Hygiene and many more. The business is even able to design any specific training and testing that a customer might need its staff to complete.

Facilities can be hired on a full or half day basis at very reasonable rates and the team can even provide access to professional external training providers if required. To find out more about the open day or the facilities available, please call 01782 308401.




Hosting Systems are pleased to congratulate Lucy Kenny (Head of Accounts) on her 10 years’ service award.

Lucy is a fantastic asset to the team and is integral to the company.  Over the years, Lucy has seen many advancements in the cloud technology services offered by Hosting Systems. Such advancements include the evolution of their own internal accounts to an automated system as the company has grown, enabling Lucy to spend time on more strategic accounting. Lucy is extremely valued for her dedication and hard work.

Lucy is pictured with Managing Director, Alastair Bates.


Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s coalition has pledged to continue to work together and build on the success of the last four years.

The move comes following the results of the recent local elections, which saw Conservatives and City Independents gain 27 of the 44 seats across the city. Labour won 16 seats and one Independent was also elected. The Conservatives and City Independents have agreed to form a cabinet again, to officially be announced at next week’s annual council meeting.

Conservative leader councillor Abi Brown, who was previously deputy leader of the council, is set to become the new leader. Councillor Ann James will be the new deputy leader, having previously led the council. Cllr Brown paid tribute to the successful working relationship between the two parties, and the achievements that have been made over the last four years. These include creating one of the most successful enterprise zones in the country, helping to deliver and secure nearly 2,000 jobs; the launch of the city council’s housing repairs and maintenance company, Unitas; and its private housing company Fortior Homes, which aims to create a property portfolio worth £68 million within 10 years.

She said: “The two parties have worked incredibly well together over the last four years, which is testament to the many successes we have seen. But a lot of credit must go to Ann, who became the first female leader of the council in February 2018 and has worked tirelessly to improve the city, especially in areas such as adult social care.

“As part of our Stronger Together delivery plan we have shown that both parties are committed to making the city a better place to live, work and visit, and creating jobs and growth – and this arrangement means we can carry on with the great strides we have made already.

“A lot of exciting projects are already under way, such as the redevelopment of the East West Precinct and the restoration of two historic town halls. We also have a lot of important work ahead in children’s services following the recent Ofsted inspection. Focusing on that will be our top priority once the new administration is officially in place.”

Cllr James, who took on the role of leader following former councillor Dave Conway’s decision to step down, said: “The City Independents and the Conservatives have had an excellent working relationship over the last four years, and it’s the passion between the two groups that has enabled us to achieve so much. It was Dave Conway who led us at the start, and the dedication of everyone else that has kept things going.

“The past four years was never about politics, it was about making improvements for residents – which we have proved we can do. And now we can continue what we have started, for the good of everyone who lives, works and visits here.”


Sponsorship with Team Toyota GB in their much-prized return to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) is revving up the profile of Staffordshire firm Graphix on the national stage.

At the same time, the deal is adding to the work load at the print, design and signage specialists, with marketing collateral, newly branded bumpers, bonnets and car panels needed for every race. With three races at each track event, the Norton company has to pull out all the stops to keep the pit crews supplied.

“There’s 10 rounds of the BTCC and FP1, FP2, Qualifying &three races in each round. This means we have to ensure three fully branded body kits are available for every event,” explained Graphix MD Steve Ward. As a company, we have been associated with motor sport branding for many years and the return of Team Toyota GB has really upped our profile in 2019.

“I am a petrol head, so really enjoy it and the whole team at Graphix gets a thrill from watching the racing from the paddock and also live on TV.”

Team Toyota GB has returned to the Kwik Fit sponsored British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 2019 with the all new Toyota Corolla and main sponsors, Ginsters and Hansford Sensors. The car manufacturer is competing in partnership with Northwich based Speedworks Motorsport and two-time BTCC independent champion Tom Ingram.

Graphix have worked with Speedworks for several years and completed the branding for the stunning new Corolla. After debuting the Corolla at Brands Hatch in early April, Tom took top spot on the podium at Donington Park in late April, with Graphix branding proudly displayed among the logos on the car.

Steve said: “Speedworks have become great friends of Graphix and their partnership with Team Toyota GB is recognition of years of hard work and development.

“Alongside the thrill of the race, there’s an awful lot of work for our team, as we have completed the Team Toyota GB branding, hospitality branding, signage for the pit lane and for the Team Toyota GB  race trucks & garages at each track. The BTCC has three races at each event and they get through a lot of kit as the touring car series is well known for its close quarters racing.

“We have to prepare three sets of everything on the car for each race week as they get through an awful lot of bumpers, spoilers and bonnets.

Christian Dick, Team Principal (Speedworks), said: “We have worked together with Steve, Simon and the Graphix team for a number of years. Their passion and commitment to deliver the very best under tight deadlines is something that we understand only too well here at Speedworks. There are very few companies that can perform under pressure but Graphix always pull it off in a professional and friendly manner. Graphix is a family owned and run business, like ourselves, and I believe that this is a quality that sets us both apart in our respective industries, nothing is ever too much trouble. I’m pleased to call these guys the best in the business and our friends.”

Brothers Steve and Simon Ward founded Graphix 26 years ago. The company has grown to a full-service agency with a team of 12 including graphic designers, printers and signage specialists. A major investment programme over the past three years has seen Graphix spend around £300,000 on state-of-the-art small and large format printing and developing in-house capabilities to work on any size of print, design and signage project.

The company works with many companies, including well-known names such as bet365 and Novus and has also grown a reputation in the world of sport.

Along with motor sport links, Graphix work with football clubs including Huddersfield Town and Stoke City, where they are the club’s official print and signage partner.

FOOTBALLING staff from Leek United kick off against a team from The Donna Louise at Stoke City FC’s bet365 Stadium this week as part of a fundraising goal for the North Staffordshire charity.

The ‘friendly’ on Sunday 19 May is just one of a series of events that Leek United staff are planning throughout this year to help the Donna Louise Hospice for Children & Young People* in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a return match for the two sides, who first met 12 months ago when Leek United ended the game with a 3-0 victory.

Dan Berrisford, the Society’s Business Development Manager – who helped to organise the match – said: “It’ll definitely be a tough game this year, with The Donna Louise side out for revenge, but we’ve had a fresh intake of staff since 2018 and there is some new talent in the Leek United squad.

“It should be a great day’s entertainment, and we’d love as many colleagues, friends and family as possible to turn out and support both teams.”

Players themselves will get the fundraising off to a good start by paying £5 each to take part, while tickets on the gate are £3 for adults, £1 for children.

Chris Belyavin, Relationship Manager at The Donna Louise, added: “We’re delighted to be returning to the bet365 stadium for the rematch! It was a great success last time and we’re so grateful to Leek United for putting this event on to support The Donna Louise.

“Huge thanks also to Howdens who’ve sponsored The Donna Louise team, meaning more of the money raised will go straight towards supporting the families who rely on our services.”

Gates at the bet365 stadium open at 1.30pm on 19 May, with the match kick-off at 2.30pm.

MyCleverGroup is pleased to announce that it has acquired 100% of the share capital of talent management software developer, Digital Balance.

This is MCG’s second acquisition as it looks to buy and build out its digital and cloud-based platforms, specialising in making it easier for organisations to embrace technology.

Digital Balance employs 15 people and specialises in the development of software solutions that help organisations manage and engage with their workforce through a range of cloud based products, from learning management, mentoring, skills and talent solutions, event management, appraisal systems and community sites. Digital Balance was founded in 2013 and has quickly grown a long list of high profile clients including the likes of L’Oreal, Santander, Talk Talk, Now TV and BT, along with many other well known national and international brands.

MyCleverGroup’s CEO, Gareth Mobley, said, ‘We are really excited to announce this acquisition. As part of MyCleverGroup, Digital Balance is now in an ideal position to expand and offer its learning, talent and development solutions to new clients while maintaining the world class service levels they are noted for to its existing client base. The team, culture, working ethos and track record at Digital Balance are a perfect fit with what we look for at MyCleverGroup’.

Chris Keeling, COO of Digital Balance, commented, ‘We’ve already identified a number of key appointments that we’re looking to make over the next 12 months to help us fulfil our mission of helping organisations to better engage with their employee base through the use of our technology. We’re delighted to be joining the MCG family and see the backing of a well invested group as essential for us to maximise the potential at DB.’

Digital Balance will continue to invest heavily into increasing its proprietary cloud based technologies, building on its well invested foundations and growing its in-house team from 15 people to over 30 in the coming months, further increasing their service offering and capabilities.

Nicky Hoyland, CCO of Digital Balance, explained, ‘We’ve quickly become the ‘go to’ people for organisations looking to digitise engagement with their colleagues. We have well over 1 million users of our systems globally, with the majority of our new business coming from recommendations, which points to our clients and users being really happy with what we do. This next chapter is hugely exciting because it will allow us to invest more in making what we do even better, and will help us to scale up our reach.’

Gareth continued, ‘Day to day, the guys will remain firmly at the helm of Digital Balance to ensure it continues to do great things, but as part of the deal, Nicky and Chris have both become directors and shareholders in MyCleverGroup, and the board is really looking forward to their contribution and working closely with them as we grow. They’ve already demonstrated that they are highly innovative, with a clear focus on delivering exceptional levels of customer service.

‘MyCleverGroup wants to make the use of technology in organisations simple, taking the jargon and pain away. It’s a hugely exciting time to be a part of MCG, and we are very pleased to have the team at Digital Balance on board alongside Harrison Carloss. We recently invested £2m in our HQ on Festival park, and as part of this deal we are investing a further £200,000 to accommodate the DB team later on in the year.’

MCG now has a talent pool of over 40 people, with the majority currently based at our HQ in Stoke, and further offices opened in London and Manchester. By leveraging clever yet simple technology, MCG can help drive top line growth and profitability, whilst enhancing both customer and colleague engagement.

A blockbusting start to 2019 for Reels in Motion has been capped by a listing in the UK’s Top  50 Production Companies list by Televisual magazine. Stoke-on-Trent based Reels in Motion are the only Staffordshire production house to make the industry list.

Director Matt Hubbard said: “Our financial year has started with the best ever financial figures we have ever experienced and to make the top 50 for the second successive year is a fantastic achievement.

“The Reels in Motion team sat down in 2016 and committed to making the list by 2022. We have now made the Top 50 in 2018 and 2019 and this puts us in an elite category in our industry. It is fuelling success and we are now known on a national as well as a regional stage.

New client wins in 2019 include Saladmaster, Valour Hospitality, EU Automation and the British Chambers of Commerce. 

Founded 16 years ago, Reels in Motion has grown to work for some of the UK’s major brands. Co-owners Matt,  Joe Gordon and Phil Bland have grown the business from small beginnings in an office at Staffordshire University business village and now have a 10-strong team. A major step change came with the opening of the company’s own studio complex, the Production House, Tunstall, in 2017.

“We have grown year on year since the start, but taking the leap of faith to open the Production House has been a huge boost,” said Matt. “We invested around £250,000 and created a state of the art facility which gave us the ability to shoot large scale productions in our own studios. Large companies from London, Manchester and across the whole UK are recognising Reels in Motion’s production values and are coming to Stoke-on-Trent to shoot corporate videos.

“The Televisual list is dominated by film makers from the big cities and we are so proud to be in there representing the Potteries and Staffordshire. It puts Reels in Motion in the top one per cent of video production companies in the UK and places us firmly amongst the elite in our industry.

“Our team of creatives have fully committed to our vison and making the Televisual Top 50, two years in succession is reward for all of the hard work, creativity, and passion that our team bring to all of our productions.  It puts us in position to continue our growth, providing more skilled, creative jobs for film staff in Stoke-on-Trent.”


Husband and wife team Tim and Suzanne Davy have seen rapid expansion in the growth of their business, Moorland Contract Cleaning (MCC) since its formation in 2012.

The business has reached a significant stage in its evolution coinciding with a recent move to new headquarters in an iconic refurbished building in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The growth has been no accident but is the result of years of business experience and some canny decisions along the way.

The company has grown over the past six years to a 170-employee operation working in over 80 customer locations. 2018 saw a move from a small office at home to brand new headquarters at Daisy Bank House in Cheadle, a former nursing home which has been converted to business use by Cheadle based Hewitt & Carr Architects (HCA).

The move has coincided with investment in IT and vehicles and has allowed MCC to create two full-time office-based positions to facilitate future growth.

Suzanne said: “Having committed to new offices at Daisy Bank House from the start we were able to have an influence on how our space was laid out were able to follow a bespoke approach to configuring the space for our specific needs. We already had a great relationship with Natalie Hewitt and Mark Carr, directors at HCA so it was easy for us to follow the project from inception in March to moving in in August 2018.”

Tim added: “On reflection it’s been an incredible journey to arrive where we are today. I’ve spent all my working life putting in long hours and always building business based on it being all about the customer. We pride ourselves on being hands-on and visible to customers and stakeholders.. We are experiencing rapid growth, but this is never at the expense of service delivery or support for employees and clients. We pride ourselves on the fact that customers can always talk to the decision maker by phone or by us travelling to their premises.”

MCC puts store in being integrated in the local business community. Suzanne has put a good deal of effort into making connections and building strong relationships with other businesses and clients.

Suzanne became President of the Staffordshire Moorlands Chamber of Commerce in 2017, a role which she will continue until late 2019. Suzanne added: “It’s been an honour to be elected President of my local Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber shares the same vision as our business in striving for growth through sustainable relationships and in increasing the prosperity of the local economy.”

So, what is the secret of a husband and wife team building a successful business? A prospect that may strike fear and dread in many a married couple. “Well defined roles!”, said Suzanne emphatically. “Tim looks after the operational service delivery whilst I deal with the commercial aspects including finance, compliance, HR and marketing.”

Tim added: “As the business has grown it has taken on a life of its own, however we both retain a clarity and focus of where we are heading. We are now extremely well positioned to continue onwards with the next phase of our growth plan.”