"With the backing of ERDF funding Mersey Maritime had the clout to put our case [against backdated port rates] across with conviction.”
Tony Woolrich, N W Trading
N W Trading - SME Case Study
N W Trading Limited is one of Merseyside’s leading bulk cargo handlers. It has operated for more than twelve years from Cavendish Wharf in Birkenhead and has sister companies in the ports of Goole and Hull. Despite formidable growth, the firm found itself rocked by a large backdated business rates bill in 2008 following an adjustment in rateable value by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency. This presented an unexpected and significant financial burden during a time of recession and tight credit control from banks.
Tony Woolrich, managing director of N W Trading, said Mersey Maritime helped raise the importance of the issue by coordinating a high profile and vigorous campaign using its extensive network of contacts, including journalists and MPs.
Mr Woolrich said: “The VOA landed about 600 port companies nationwide with controversially backdated rates bills. The total of these was estimated at between £50m-£75m - a colossal sum for an industry already struggling to keep its head above water.
“N W Trading was handed a retrospective bill of around £2m and an ongoing liability of £500,000 a year. For our Mersey business with annual sales of £7.5m, this was crippling.
“In response, we set up an interest group with Mersey Maritime to lobby against the bills. Mersey Maritime was a real driving force, acting as the linchpin in bringing together the maritime businesses in the region. Its team is extremely well connected and took us to Parliament, putting us in the driving seat in front of MPs and national press. It actively went out and knocked on doors to fight on our behalf. This allowed us to concentrate on our jobs and continue trading.
“Critically Mersey Maritime also managed to get David Cameron to visit Birkenhead and pledge to cancel the retrospective bills if he won the election.
“With the backing of the European Regional Development Fund, Mersey Maritime had the clout to put our case across with conviction. At the time, it was lobbying for around 70 local firms, fighting to save around 3,000 jobs which were under threat as a result of the legislation.”
He added: “The imposition of backdated rates bills caused huge damage. Jobs were being lost across the ports sector, companies were closing down and investment was grinding to a halt.
“Mersey Maritime played a crucial role in ensuring our collective voice was heard, providing tremendous support at a time of real strain.
“As a result of the successful campaign against port rates N W Trading has continued to grow successfully and our Group turnover has doubled to £40m in the last 12 months.”
How Can I Access this Support?
To find out how your business could benefit from ERDF funding through the Maritime Sector Development Programme, call Mersey Maritime on 0151 647 4747 or email Tim Morgan on: email@example.com
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