TalkTalk, Boohoo and Castore: 10 of the best read North West business stories in 2021

It was a bumper 2021 for BusinessLive’s North West coverage, with more readers and engagement than ever before.

Our daily and weekend newsletters have been showcasing the biggest business stories from across the region all year long.

A whole host of articles have proved to be very popular reads, with record page views being racked throughout the year.

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Below, BusinessLive runs through some of the best read stories that were published over the last 12 months:

£1.1bn takeover of telecoms giant TalkTalk set to be completed

TalkTalk's Salford headquarters
TalkTalk’s Salford headquarters

BusinessLive reported in March that the proposed £1.1bn takeover of TalkTalk had taken another step forward and was set to be completed later that month.

Tosca IOM was behind the deal after having first made a non-binding proposal in October 2020.

Under the terms, scheme shareholders were set to be entitled to receive 97 pence per share.

The Salford-headquartered firm’s investment in the telecommunications giant saw it taken off the London Stock Exchange.

You can read the full story here.

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Billionaire Issa brothers’ EG Group abandons £750m Asda petrol stations deal

Fresh petrol and diesel shortage updates from ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, BP and Esso
Fresh petrol and diesel shortage updates from ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, BP and Esso
(Image: PA)

In October, the billionaire Issa brothers’ EG Group confirmed it had pulled out of its planned £750m acquisition of Asda’s forecourt business.

The Lancashire-headquartered company, which is backed by TDR Capital, had only recently agreed a deal to sell almost 30 of its own petrol stations sites to appease concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority.

That announcement was made at the start of October after fears were first brought up by the watchdog in May.

The group then offered to sell a number of sites to address the CMA’s concerns, which was then accepted in June.

You can read the full story here.

Graduate’s delight after private message to Social Chain founder Steven Bartlett leads to job offer 10 minutes later

Steven Bartlett at his Diary of a CEO live show at Manchester's Albert Hall
Steven Bartlett at his Diary of a CEO live show at Manchester’s Albert Hall
(Image: Amy Heycock)

In March, a North West graduate revealed his delight after a private message to Social Chain co-founder Steven Bartlett led to a job offer just 10 minutes later.

Nathan Bickerton said he had Googled Mr Bartlett’s name one morning and noticed he didn’t have a Wikipedia page.

Writing on LinkedIn, Liverpool-based Mr Bickerton explained: “I thought he deserved one and needed content for my writing portfolio so I drafted one and got it uploaded.”

He said he hoped it would help with SEO for an upcoming book campaign for Mr Bartlett.

He added: “After reaching out to Steven for permission to share the entry on my LinkedIn, he surprisingly responded offering me so much more!”

You can read the full story here.

Who is Mark Stott? The businessman in charge of Stockport County FC and Cheshire-based Vita Group

Owner Mark Stott was born and raised in Stockport
Owner Mark Stott was born and raised in Stockport

There aren’t many people who get to own their hometown football club, let alone two.

But that’s what Stockport-born property entrepreneur Mark Stott has managed to do, and the CEO of Cheshire firm Vita Group is now considered by many to be his town’s most successful businessman ever.

One of his clubs, Stockport County FC, hit the headlines recently after beating Bolton Wanderers in the first round of the FA Cup.

The club certainly have big ambitions, and was bought almost two years ago by Mr Stott, whose other main interests are in his property firms Vita Group and Select Property Group. Working side by side, these two businesses are a global developer, retailer and operator of leading property investment brands.

This article receive a huge boost in readers when Stockport County beat Bolton in the first round of the FA Cup.

You can read the full story here.

Stobart Group announces name change to Esken Limited after trademarks sold for £10m

The Eddie Stobart and Stobart trademarks were sold to Eddie Stobart Logistics back in May 2020
The Eddie Stobart and Stobart trademarks were sold to Eddie Stobart Logistics back in May 2020

This story, first published all the way back in January 2021, details Stobart Group’s announcement that it would change its name to Esken Limited after two trademarks were sold for £10m.

The Carlisle-based aviation and energy infrastructure group sold the Eddie Stobart and Stobart trademarks to Eddie Stobart Logistics back in May, with the name change set to take effect by the end of February.

An announcement to the markets said Stobart Group’s operating divisions may continue to use the brand to May 2023 – and London Southend Airport will not change its name.

You can read the full story here.

Inside Avanti West Coast’s new-look trains as £117m upgrade begins

A Pendolino train in Widnes as Avanti’s huge upgrade begins

In July, images and details were revealed of how Avanti West Coast’s new trains will look as the operator began its £117m upgrade of the famous Pendolino fleet.

The firm, which operates services between cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, was to transform all 56 of its trains in the UK’s biggest ever fleet upgrade.

Regarded as the UK’s hardest working train fleet, clocking up more than 270 million miles since they were launched, the Pendolinos have served the west coast mainline for almost 20 years – and the upgrade will return the vehicles to an ‘as new’ condition.

You can read the full story here.

Show of faith’ in UK car industry as Ford takes full control of Halewood transmission plant

(Image: Pexels)

Towards the start of 2021, BusinessLive reported that hundreds of jobs had been protected after Ford took back ownership of a Merseyside plant in what was been described as a “huge show of confidence” in the UK automotive industry.

The iconic Ford sign was put back up in Halewood after the deal for the transmission plant was completed, with the car manufacturing giant taking over the remaining 50% of the site.

The factory, which makes transmission systems for Ford vehicles, was previously run in collaboration with German firm Getrag.

You can read the full story here.

The PrettyLittleThing and Missguided designer who left fast fashion to launch her own sustainable gymwear brand

KIHT Collective’s founder Danielle King

In August, BusinessLive published an interview with a designer and entrepreneur, who helped some of the most prominent fast fashion brands soar to prominence.

Manchester-born Danielle King helms her own business KIHT Collective, an ethical gymwear firm, and revealed how she used lessons in the industry to launch her sustainable ‘slow fashion’ company.

Danielle, 35, from Sale, has worked in various top design roles for fashion giants including PrettyLittleThing, Missguided and Bon Marche.

Moving to PrettyLittleThing from Missguided in 2015, Danielle helped the firm now owned by Boohoo through its rapid expansion, as it became one of the world’s fastest-growing fashion retailers.

You can read the full story here.

Billionaire brothers behind EG Group and Asda ‘take major stake’ in sportswear brand Castore

Phil and Tom Beahon from Castore
(Image: Colin Lane)

In May, it was revealed that the Lancashire-based billionaire brothers behind petrol station giant EG Group had become the largest outside investors in Castore, the sportswear brand that has a partnership with Andy Murray.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa invested in the brand through their Jersey-based Monte Group.

Castore, which has a kit deals with the likes of Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, had recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Liverpool to Manchester as well as open five new stores in 2021.

You can read the full story here.

What next for Boohoo after unprecedented year for the fashion giant

(Image: PA)

BusinessLive published a special report into online fashion giant Boohoo which has had a more eventful pandemic than most.

From booming sales to allegations of modern slavery to buying up household brands Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, the Manchester-based firm was never far from the headlines.

BusinessLive reviewed a year of ups and downs for Boohoo – and asked the experts what could come next for the online retail giant.

You can read the full story here.

Business Live – North West