Mersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseysideMersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseyside

By Mersey Maritime

Fire suppression systems are essential to protect your business

Mersey Maritime member Firetrace is urging local firms to installing a fire suppression system to minimise risk to your business and your people.

The company recommends an automatic fire suppression system as they do not require manual operation. What happens, they ask, if a fire breaks out and no one is there to turn it on?

Firetrace would also advocate fitting a self-contained system that does not require an external power supply. This ensures that your business is protected even if there is a power cut.

The company adds: “Make sure that the system you have installed has been approved by leading safety consulting and safety agencies and complies with national and EU regulations. Specifically, LPCB, PER 1999 (PED), ISO 9001:2015.

“Also ensure that the system is compatible with commercially available fire supressing agents such as Novec 1230. If you need to replenish your system, the last thing you need is a long wait whilst the suppressing agent is shipped from the other side of the world.

“And finally, who fits your fire suppression system is important. Select a reputable company that has experience of installing systems to a wide range of applications and situations.”

Firetrace Ltd is a UK based manufacturer and installer of automatic fire suppression systems with nearly 30 years’ experience in the sector.

To find out more about Firetrace call 01473 744090 or email

By Mersey Maritime

Essar confirms significant retail expansion with MPK deal

Earlier this month Essar Oil UK announced a new agreement with top independent MPK Garages to rebrand and supply an initial tranche of twelve sites.  The deal, which is the biggest secured by the Essar team to date, will see the company network expand to 67 stations and include the first rebrand of a BP site.

Under the new agreement, the first Essar site was officially launched this morning at Riverside in Belper, Derbyshire.  The 3ml pa station, previously under the BP marque, will be followed by a further eleven sites that will be rebranded by the end of November.  The twelve new sites range from Worcester to Doncaster in South Yorkshire.  MPK have also entered into a franchise agreement with Morrisons, which will see the addition of Morrisons Daily convenience stores at most MPK sites.

Essar Oil UK Chief Executive, S. Thangapandian, commented:  “This is a defining moment for the Essar retail proposition in the UK.  Our team had been working with the new owners of MPK, Stratford Retail Group Limited, ahead of their acquisition of these sites and we were delighted to reach agreement to support their plans to transform the business.  At an average of 3ml pa, this is exactly the right platform for our retail offering and with guaranteed quality supply, we also expect to be able to expand our range of premium fuels through this estate.  The new MPK partnership with Morrisons is very exciting and will see investment over the coming months to further improve the customer experience.”

Nerissa Haskic, Director of Stratford Retail Group Limited said:  “Our business plan is focused on transforming and expanding the retail business and we felt that the partnerships with Essar and Morrisons could best support our strategy and underpin growth. There is a great working relationship between our companies, with Essar demonstrating they have both the capability and the ambition to support our growth in the UK.  They were a logical choice for us, with an outstanding brand image, product range and quality.  We expect to experience strong growth in fuel volumes and retail sales and our Managing Director, Paul Kershaw and the MPK management team are very excited about this project.”

For more information on how to transform your forecourt and join the Essar brand – please call 0151 350 4003.

By Mersey Maritime

Liverpool to welcome 87 cruise vessels in 2019 – 48% more than 2018

There will be 87 cruise vessels calling at Liverpool Cruise Terminal in 2019 – a 48% increase on the 57 that arrived in the Mersey this year.

Liverpool Cruise Terminal welcomed more than 100,000 international passengers and crew during the 2018 cruise season with many more expected next year, new figures from Liverpool City Council reveal.

The Council said around 50,000 people came to the waterfront during the season to view the vessels. The economic impact of the terminal’s operations on the city this year is estimated to be around £7m.

Total tonnage of the cruise vessels coming into the River Mersey was 3m gross tonnes and the team at Cruise Liverpool facilitated 24 turnaround calls and 33 transit calls throughout the season.

In addition to cruise ships, the terminal provides specialist support to a range of working vessels, such as dredgers and offshore wind farm support vessels. It has also welcomed calls from both the Royal Navy and foreign navies.

Inaugural calls

During the 2018 cruise call schedule, Liverpool Cruise Terminal received four inaugural calls, including the first ever call by a Japanese vessel, Ocean Dream – which will be returning to Liverpool in 2019 for an overnight visit.

In May the city welcomed the three Tall Ships as part of the Tall Ships Festival. The berth was open to the public over the bank holiday weekend. Almost 10,000 visitors were recorded.

The ‘Magic on The Mersey’ event took place in September to mark the return of Disney Magic and included spectacular street theatre, a Disney character parade and a farewell pyrotechnic display attracting 30,000 visitors and bringing in approximately £250,000 to the city’s economy.

Such was the popularity and success of ‘Magic on the Mersey’ it won the 2018 Tourism Event of the Year at the Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards.

Even more ships

And 2019 is shaping up to be better still with 87 Cruise Ships due to visit Liverpool, a 48% increase on this year, and will include 11 inaugural calls, 23 different cruise lines, including Costa and Norwegian lines arriving for the first time.

Liverpool’s terminal is gearing up for site preparation works for the new facilities with work expected to start in the New Year. Equivalent to the size of two football pitches, the terminal will be serviced by an off-site multi-storey car park and will enable the world’s largest cruise ships (up to 3,600 passengers) to embark and disembark at Liverpool. It’s also expected to directly create more than 500 new jobs.

Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Cabinet member for Culture, Tourism and Events Cllr Wendy Simon, said: “2018 has been an extraordinary year for Cruise Liverpool – winning tourism awards and having staff internationally recognised as dynamic leaders in the global cruise industry.

Click here for the full cruise call schedule in 2019

By Mersey Maritime

‘World class’ Sensor City attracts 42 businesses in its first year

Liverpool’s pioneering technical innovation centre Sensor City has attracted 42 businesses in its first year.

The £15m facility, a joint venture between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, offers world-class research and development into the use of sensors across a host of industrial processes.

Since it was opened in November 2017 by Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark, Sensor City has welcomed 11 tenants and 31 hot deskers and has worked with student start-ups, entrepreneurs and big businesses from America, Asia and Europe.

Multiple projects

It has seen the completion of 45 projects to date, covering healthcare, sport and industrial – with a 50% rise in laboratory projects in the past three months. They have included 3D printing support, use of its specialist laser cutter and mechanical laboratory work and there is an increasing interest in access to the centre’s unique 3D electronic prototyping facility.

Engineers have also assisted with a further 27 projects through Sensor City’s partnership with LCR 4.0 – a part ERDF funded business support programme.

New tenancies

Dr Joanne Phoenix, interim executive director at Sensor City, said: “The progress we’ve made in the last year is really encouraging. We’ve surpassed what we thought was possible in terms of providing business support and bringing in state-of-the-art machinery, as well as attracting new tenancies and stimulating community engagement.

“Liverpool City Region is innovative by nature, so there are many new and existing companies coming up with pioneering ideas every day. It’s our job to make those ideas a reality through the advanced technology, funding, partnerships and expert support we provide.”

Industry partnerships

As a flagship University Enterprise Zone, Sensor City is paving the way for bringing knowledge and experience in technology together through fostering industry-academic collaborations. It has established 12 partnerships in its first year, in addition to hosting almost 300 events at the building, with 10,000 people in attendance.

Sensor City has also established a corporate partner programme, linking major enterprises with SMEs to drive innovation and collaboration. Three of these have been undertaken to date with Unilever, EDF Energy and housing provider Halton Housing.

The long-term objectives of the technical innovation hub is to create 1,000 jobs and 300 businesses over the next decade.

By Mersey Maritime

Cammell Laird boss says strike action is putting more jobs at risk

Striking workers at Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird shipyard are costing it millions in lost orders and putting more jobs at risk, the company claims.

Hundreds of workers walked out as part of a series of strikes over three weeks in protest at plans by the firm to lay off 290 employees by March 2019 as a number of contracts come to an end.

The GMB and Unite unions say they have put forward a “credible and very reasonable alternative’ to the redundancies which they say will “lead to untold hardship on workers and their families”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also backed the strike action.

Albie McGuigan, GMB regional organiser, said: “For workers to make a decision to take strike action especially at this time of year demonstrates how angry and frustrated they are at the lack of support from Cammell Laird.”

Contracting business

However, on Wednesday afternoon Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret claimed the industrial action was “counterproductive” and “undermines our ability to create jobs and work”.

“We are a contracting business, and like any other we have to increase and decrease resource in line with employment legislation to ensure we deliver our obligations and maintain a competitive cost base,” added Mr Syvret.

“This strike action has facilitated a loss of over £1.5m pounds worth of business already, and with growing concerns from other customers more losses are imminent. It may be obvious but put simply, without customers there are no jobs at all. These lost contracts are now being undertaken in other shipyards.”

Misinformed claim

He pointed out that since 2008 the company’s shareholders, including property and ports giant Peel, have made more than £93m of investments in the business and its infrastructure and he rejected union claims Cammell Laird was “casualising” its workforce.

“We reject the misinformed claim that we are moving toward casualisation,” he said. “The simple fact is that we are in a contract-driven industry and, following a period of peak work, we are seeing contracts come to an end.

“The trade union claims we are casualising our workforce when we have never even considered zero hours contracts and have restarted one of the biggest apprentice training programmes in Britain with investment of more than £18m in 250 apprentices.”

Mr Syvret said redundancies are unfortunately necessary as contracts are coming to an end and it is not commercially viable to carry such a massive overhead without work.

By Mersey Maritime

Work under way on two new vessels for Stena’s Birkenhead-Belfast route

Ferry operator Stena Line says work has started on the next generation of vessels to be deployed on its Birkenhead to Belfast route.

Currently Stena Mersey, Stena Lagan and Stena Precision all ply the Irish Sea route between the Mersey and Northern Ireland sailing to and from the Twelve Quays terminal on the Wirral side of the river.

More capacity

However, as part of its wider fleet investment programme, the Swedish company says three of its new E-Flexer RoPax vessels are now under construction in China. The first of the trio will operate on is Holyhead to Dublin route in early 2020 with the other two introduced on the Birkenhead to Belfast route on in 2020 and 2021.

All three Irish Sea E-Flexer vessels will be bigger than today’s standard RoPax vessels at 215 metres long with a freight capacity of 3,100 lane metres and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers.

Stena Line has also ordered a further two E-Flexer RoPax vessels with a larger design, to be deployed within its network in 2022.  These larger ships will be 240 metres long with a total freight capacity of 3,600 lane metres, and passenger capacity of 1,200.

Steel cutting

Stena Line chief operating officer Peter Arvidsson said: “We are delighted to report that the steel cutting ceremony for the third of our Irish Sea E-Flexer ships has now taken place and that construction is going to plan across all three of our new generation RoPax vessels.

“Having visited the site several times, we are very impressed with the work being carried out by Stena RoRo, the Avic shipyard and its subcontractors.”

“With continued investment in our fleet, we want to lead the development of sustainable shipping and set new industry standards when it comes to operational performance, emissions and cost competitiveness.”

Internationally, Stena Line is one of Europe’s leading ferry companies with 38 vessels and 21 routes in Northern Europe. The company is family-owned, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg.

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey firms invited to take part in offshore careers recruitment event

Training firm Complete Training Solutions (CTS) is inviting companies to take part in a free event in Liverpool aimed at people looking for a career working offshore.

The CTS Offshore Wind Industry Open Day takes place on Wednesday, December 5, at its base at 12 Glacier Buildings, Harrington Road, Liverpool L3 4BH, close to the waterfront and south of the city centre.

Organisers are expecting more than 200 people who are interested in working in the  offshore, maritime, construction and health & safety sectors. The event takes place from 10am until 3pm.

CTS wants companies to set up stands on the day, adding that it also offers an opportunity to network with other organisations attending. Firms taking part will be offered:

  • 1 x 160 x 80 cm or 1 x 140 x 80 cm table to set up in the main training area. This is a large open space which will be cleared for the event to allow exhibitors to recruit
  • A larger space for marketing stand if required, access to electricity points
  • Free lunch and a chance to network with other companies in the industry

CTS also has one slot left to give a presentation or a Q&A for those attending on the day. This could be in the form of a company presentation, highlighting what you do and what your requirements are.

Alternatively it could involve you discussing industry in general and where you see it heading over the next five years.

The event will also include a networking lunch for organisations attending, a career and CV drop in session, presentations and Q&As from leading companies and practical showcases.

For more information contact CTS operations manager John Dagger via email – – or by phone on 0151 708 9785.

By Mersey Maritime

Liverpool Airport reports 5% rise in October passenger numbers

Passenger numbers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) were up 5% in October with more than 467,000 people passing through during the month.

Thanks to an increase in routes from airlines including easyJet and Ryanair, LJLA handled and additional 22,000 passengers In October bringing the total extra for the year so far to 135,000 passengers.

Some of the most popular destinations included a mix of holiday resorts and European capital cities including Alicante, Malaga, Palma, Rome, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris.

Queue times for passengers to go through airport security continued to remain low throughout October too, with 99% of all passengers taking 10 mins or less to pass through security.

Last month also saw five new services start from Liverpool to Cluj, Iasi and Bucharest with Wizz Air, to Paphos with Ryanair and to Toulouse with easyJet, in addition to Ryanair announcing new routes to Copenhagen and Corfu from Liverpool for summer 2019.

In August LJLA enjoyed its busiest month in seven years, handling more than 535,000 passengers. It was a 3% rise on August 2017.

By Mersey Maritime

Angels offer down-to-earth answer to Mersey entrepreneurs’ funding needs

Law firm Brabners, a member of Mersey Maritime, is has played a major role in establishing a business angel network in the Liverpool city region.

Earlier this year, Brabners, along with loan and equity provider MSIF and the Liverpool office of accountancy firm Grant Thornton, came up with the idea of a local angels network. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money into start-up or early-stage businesses in return for an equity stake.

MSIF chief executive Lisa Greenhalgh, Brabners head of corporate, Mark Rathbone, and Grant Thornton regional growth manager Gaynor Dykes identified a gap in the local mix for business finance.

Financial support

The LCR Angel Network identifies promising businesses and puts them in-front of their growing number of angel investors. The Investors then have the opportunity to invest alone, or as a syndicate, providing not only financial support but experience and knowledge to an early-stage business.

With 69% of Angel Investors choosing to invest inside of their home region (research commissioned by the UK Business Angels Association, 2017), it was important to all parties involved to create an Angel Network for the Liverpool city region.

In June representatives from the British Business Bank – the national economic investment  arm of the UK Government – were at Liverpool International Business Festival to bang the drum for angel investing.

Three events

Free to all angels, the LCR Angel Network has already held three successful events throughout year, with the most recent event taking place in early November, called ‘the Winter Pitch’.

Each ‘pitch’ event sees growing businesses that have been chosen by the LCR Network founders, present to a panel of investors. The aspiring entrepreneurs are offered a five-minute opportunity to describe their business, growth aspirations and most importantly, the funding amount they need.

Investors who like what they hear then spend the rest of the event getting to know the business and their director.

The LCR Angel Network is a member of the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), which will further provide opportunities for guidance and training for new angel investors. The UKBAA will also facilitate more networking and syndication possibilities for existing angel investors in the region.

And 2019 will see the launch of the LCR Angel Network website and an increase in event opportunities, which will ultimately bring more opportunities for growth to the Liverpool business community.

Disruptive businesses

Mark Rathbone said: “We know that this region has great entrepreneurs with some excellent disruptive business ideas and models that need funding and mentoring support. There are also many successful business people who have strong profitable businesses or who have successfully sold their businesses.

“We want to engage these potential business angels to direct some of their time, funds and energy to help our regions budding entrepreneurs.

“There is a great deal of existing wealth and some real new hidden talent in the Liverpool city region. Our aim is to bring those new, entrepreneurial, growth businesses to the forefront and help deliver the backing they need.”

To find out more about the LCR Angel Network, follow our twitter account @LCRAngelNetwork or contact to be part of the network.

By Mersey Maritime

Member of the Month: Acer Engineering

Jaguar Land Rover’s £110m investment into its Halewood factory to upgrade it to assemble the new generation Range Rover Evoque was not just great news for the people that work there – but also other firms across the supply chain.

They include Widnes-based Acer Engineering, which manufactures a wide range of steel fabrications, including ladders, platforms, stairways, barriers, trolleys and many other items for a host of clients across a number of sectors.

JLR is one of those clients and a team of Acer engineers have been working to help the carmaker carry out the necessary work at the Halewood factory in readiness for the new model.

Learning curve

Acer was founded as a family firm by Alan Ewan in 2000. In 2014, the business was taken over by David Halton, now the managing director. He joined the firm in 2003 as a project manager and admits the initial learning curve was a steep one.

He said: “When I joined the business, my background was in project management and I had no experience of engineering. I went and learnt the engineering aspect through the Open University and on-the-job training.”

Acer is a growing business which currently employs 20 people. It has just recruited an additional project engineer and is currently looking for an additional design draughtsman.

Customer base

According to David, one of the key factors in its ongoing growth is the diversity of its customer base. He explained: “We work across a number of sectors, they include automotive, with companies such as JLR and Bentley, the chemicals industry, with clients such as BASF and Croda, and construction with a relatively new client, Buckingham Group.

“Historically we have steered clear of the construction sector because it can be quite volatile. But we have dipped our toe in the water with Buckingham and they are a fantastic business to work with.

“When you work across a range of sectors it means you are less vulnerable when one sector suffers a downturn. We are a little worried about what the impact of Brexit might be, we don’t export, but it could affect our clients.”

Competitive field

David adds that Acer works in a very competitive field and one of the competitive edges they have is the specialist knowledge acquired working with companies such as JLR and Pilkington Glass.

“Within JLR we operate mainly in the paintshop part of the operation,” he said. “Working in that environment takes a lot of care, and the client needs to be confident you know what you are doing – and our people do.

“Another challenge for us is the growth in regulation and red tape. We embraced the ISO 9001 quality system back in 2004, and added the BSEN 1090 in the last few years, we also hold several Health and Safety accreditations.

“Our customer base includes large corporations and local SME’s, we work hard to give the client the flexibility they need from their supplier.”

Acer has recently joined Mersey Maritime, a move David believes will prove to be advantageous in more ways than one, he explained: “The maritime sector itself is very diverse.

“Obviously, we are looking to win more clients for ourselves but we also see it as an opportunity to expand our own supplier base.”

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey marine specialist SeaKing Electrical takes on four apprentices

Birkenhead firm SeaKing Electrical has taken on four new starters on the 10th anniversary of its apprentice training scheme.

A total of 43 apprentices have now been employed by the marine electrical specialist. SeaKing employs more than 100 engineers worldwide with a track record delivering projects across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Caribbean and US.

Two-year course

New apprentices Callum Mulrooney, James Fields, Michael Mcevoy Hayes and Bradley Jones will now embark on a two-year extended diploma, NVQ Level 2 and 3, in Electrical Installation alongside a BTEC Diploma in advanced Manufacturing & Engineering.

SeaKing managing director Dave Gillam said apprenticeships represent a long-term investment for the firm and the new recruits underwent rigorous panel interviews before securing the roles.

“SeaKing is experiencing an exciting period of growth as we look to expand into markets including the superyacht sector, while increasing our presence in our more established areas such as naval, cruise and commercial marine,” he said.

“It is essential our team has the skill to fully capitalise on the new opportunities that we have identified in the coming years. This is one of the reasons we like to train people from grass roots level.

Excellent foundation

“SeaKing invests heavily in apprenticeships because they provide an excellent foundation in technical skill and knowledge. We can then mould the recruits into world-class marine electrical engineers.

“Our apprenticeship programme has attracted a great level of interest over the years and we take great pride in nurturing talent and providing jobs for our local community. We are also proud of the strong partnership we have developed with the Engineering College since 2013 which has enabled us to convert many apprentices into full-time workers.”

The Engineering College runs 20 maritime, engineering and sector-support apprenticeships. Courses focus on welding, mechanical and electrical engineering, computer aided design, pipetting, project control, rigging, steel erection, railway track maintenance and non-destructive testing (NDT).

By Mersey Maritime

Take an ‘exhilarating’ December dip in Liverpool docks and raise cash for charity

Nothing says Christmas like a cold swim in a Liverpool dock – but if you are prepared to brave the cold in December you could raise vital funds for charity.

On Saturday, December 8, the Liverpool Winter Swimming Championships takes place at Collingwood Dock, Regent Road. And organisers are offering people the opportunity to take the plunge themselves to mark the occasion.

With temperatures of between five and eight degrees celsius it may seem a daunting challenge but Collingwood Dock manager, Les Heather, insists it can be an “exhilarating experience”.

Liverpool’s history

Says Les: “This will be a rare chance to do a cold water swim in challenging open air conditions and, to mark the opening of the dock for this type of extreme activity, it seemed a great idea to combine it with a big charity fundraiser just before Christmas.

“It will also be an amazing way to have an exhilarating experience in a place that’s a part of Liverpool’s history and, at the same time, raise some money for two exceptional causes.”

Collingwood Dock, where Liverpool-headquartered Complete Training Solutions runs health and safety courses, is part of the Stanley Dock Conservation Area and has hardly been altered since its construction in 1848.

Charities being supported on the day are blood cancer research organisation Bloodwise and Action on Pre-Eclampsia, chosen because of close personal connections to both Les and his water safety instructor colleague Debbie Adams. Les has twice recovered from leukaemia while Debbie’s son Riley was stillborn a year ago.

For serious swimmers, there’ll be solo and team swims in a 25m square in the dock specially constructed with pontoons. The day starts off with a 100m front crawl followed by a 50m front crawl, a 50m “head up woolly hat” breaststroke event and a 50m race for teams of four.

Fancy dress

For the less hardy, there’ll be a chance for a traditional quick pre-Christmas dip in optional fancy dress. Throughout the day there’ll also be rides in Collingwood’s speedboat training RIB, team life-boat challenges and drills in the dock’s indoor heated pool as well as other entertainment and sea safety demonstrations.

Les added: “Because of the extreme temperatures in the dock, the cold water swim is only for the physically fit. Exposure to the water will only be for around five minutes, depending on the speed of the individual swimmer.

“It will be a great experience though for those who take part – literally breath-taking. As well as bringing a sense of adventure, cold water swimming is now known to have immense physical benefits and can help to reduce stress levels.”

Experienced swimmers

For safety reasons, the swim will be restricted to experienced swimmers over the age of 14. The entire event will be strictly supervised with qualified safety personnel and paramedics in attendance.

The event starts at 10am. Entry is free but there will be a £5 charge to cover parking and showers with proceeds going to Both charities. For more details, email Les Heather or Mike Alexander or call 07490 970455.

Fire suppression systems are essential to protect your business
Essar confirms significant retail expansion with MPK deal
Liverpool to welcome 87 cruise vessels in 2019 – 48% more than 2018
‘World class’ Sensor City attracts 42 businesses in its first year
Cammell Laird boss says strike action is putting more jobs at risk
Work under way on two new vessels for Stena’s Birkenhead-Belfast route
Mersey firms invited to take part in offshore careers recruitment event
Liverpool Airport reports 5% rise in October passenger numbers
Angels offer down-to-earth answer to Mersey entrepreneurs’ funding needs
Member of the Month: Acer Engineering
Mersey marine specialist SeaKing Electrical takes on four apprentices
Take an ‘exhilarating’ December dip in Liverpool docks and raise cash for charity