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SIS PITCHES: UK sports surfaces supplier moves into premier league | City & Business | Finance

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Based in Maryport, Cumbria, the independent business designs and constructs synthetic, hybrid and natural pitches. From big ticket tournaments to club and training grounds, it’s a portfolio that includes football, rugby, cricket, hockey, golf, tennis and multi-use games areas. For last year’s World Cup in Russia the company supplied six stadia  including the final in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium and then a contract for venues used in the Club World Cup staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December and the Asian Cup held there earlier this month.

Sport’s global expansion and the double digit increase in the use of lower cost artificial pitches have been the background driver to the firm’s rise up a leader board dominated by multinationals. 

But its operational model and build innovations are what underpin its move into the premier league of producers, says founder and chief executive George Mullan.

“We’re different because we offer a full service, end-to-end solution, controlling the whole process from design and manufacture of synthetic turf in our own factories, right through to installation and maintenance. Customers in the public eye know it’s just us they deal with – that’s very important for trust and efficiency.”

Turnaround specialist Mullan acquired the business in 2001, then expanded Maryport as its HQ and built an international company with an office network stretching from Ireland, the Netherlands and Russia to Turkey, the Middle East and Angola. 

SISGrass is its flagship hybrid system deployed for high profile projects.

Combining 95 percent natural grass stitched with synthetic fibres, the technology delivered by the firm’s pinpoint accurate machines reinforce surfaces, taking half the time of competitors.

The resulting products last longer and provide more consistency for players.

For pitch rebuilds in the Middle East all the grass came from the business’s own purpose-built turf farm there.

“We’re a small company, it’s through innovation that we can compete on the biggest stages,” says Mullan who funds from profits and has just overseen a £1.8 million investment in new equipment at Maryport. 

This is now paving the way for the launch of new synthetic pitch systems, with the latest infill, yarn, polyurethane and shockpads.

Introducing technology not available elsewhere in the UK the new coatings production line can deliver backings in both latex (more common in UK) and polyurethane (for overseas) for the products, increasing their strength and durability. 

Rolling out the green carpet in North America – a new key target market – has also begun with supply to National Football League team Green Bay Packers and a pitch in Toronto next month.  

“Russia and the UAE have given us fantastic exposure but much of our business is not in the high-profile tournament sector but with colleges, clubs and schools,” points out Mullan who is also making inroads into the landscaping sector with BuzzGrass, its website selling artificial grass to emerging consumer and commercial markets.

Increasingly popular among those with window sills, balconies and small plots, it also appeals to less able gardeners and schools looking for backdrops for events.

But with over 424 staff worldwide, Mullan is in no doubt people are SIS Pitches’ best asset.

“It all stems from choosing the right teams,” he says, “then leaving them to get on with their jobs”. 

www.sispitches.comwww.buzzgrass.com

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S&P 500 posts highest close since November 8 on trade optimism

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Nov. 8 on Friday as investors clung to signs of progress in the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China.

Investors assessed a slew of headlines on the talks, with top trade negotiators from the two countries meeting to wrap up a week of discussions on some of the thorniest issues in their trade war.

If the two sides fail to reach a deal by midnight on March 1, then their seven-month trade war could escalate.

“People are expecting some sort of positive news on trade and tariffs with China fairly soon,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“But we won’t know until the end of next week,” he said, and, “there has been a lack of specifics.”

Optimism on the trade front and dovish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve have driven the recent gains and left indexes well above their lows of December, when the market swooned on fears of an economic slowdown. The S&P 500 is now up about 19 percent since its late-December low.

The S&P 500 technology index was up 1.3 percent, leading gains among the 11 major S&P sectors, while the trade-exposed industrials index climbed 0.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 181.18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 26,031.81, the S&P 500 gained 17.79 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,792.67 and the Nasdaq Composite added 67.84 points, or 0.91 percent, to 7,527.55.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

All three indexes registered gains for the week, with both the Dow and Nasdaq posting a ninth week of increases.

The number of New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stocks hitting 52-week highs hit 367, the most since mid-September and outnumbered those hitting year lows by the widest margin in six months.

Stocks briefly pared gains after U.S. officials briefed on the negotiations said more time is likely needed in the talks given China’s resistance this week to American demands for specific steps by Beijing to end forced transfers of U.S. technology and certain other policies.

Afterward, President Donald Trump said there was a very good chance the United States would strike a deal with China to end the trade war, and that he was inclined to extend his March 1 deadline to reach an agreement.

“Right now the downside risk has been not as steep, but there’s always a concern that something happens last-minute,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

“Having a Chinese economy that stabilizes is constructive for global markets,” she said. “That’s what is key in terms of the market looking at the results.”

Kraft Heinz Co tumbled 27.5 percent, and was the biggest drag on the S&P along with a 1.7 percent fall in Class B shares of the company’s controlling stakeholder, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The packaged food company posted a quarterly loss, disclosed a Securities and Exchange Commission probe and wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.

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Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.99-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.45-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 64 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and 21 new lows.

About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 7.3 billion-share daily average for the past 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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FCA sets $14 million annual target compensation for CEO Manley: filing

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FILE PHOTO: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Mike Manley arrives at the memorial service held in honor of former CEO Sergio Marchionne in Turin, Italy, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) has set an annual compensation target for Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley consisting of pay, cash and equity bonuses of $14 million, the automaker said in a regulatory filing on Friday.

Manley took over as the head of FCA last July after the abrupt departure of his predecessor Sergio Marchionne. The company paid its new CEO 600,442 euros ($680,240) for 2018 and he will receive a bonus for 2018 of $367,000 to be paid this year.

Manley also was granted FCA 180,364 shares for his work in 2018, which will vest in 2019 if the company meets certain targets. The fair value per share on the date those were granted was $16.61, FCA said.

His target annual compensation consists of a base salary of $1.6 million, and a bonus of $2.4 million and an equity award valued at $10 million, both linked to the company hitting certain performance targets.

Former CEO Marchionne received 6.6 million euros in compensation for 2018, which consisted of nearly 2 million euros in base pay and an annual bonus for 2017 of just over 4.6 million euros.

For the 2014 to 2017 time period, Marchionne also received 2.8 million FCA shares. The fair value per share was $14.84, FCA said.

FCA chairman John Elkann received a base salary of 1.7 million euros and no annual bonus.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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Flattening U.S. yield curve in late 2018 ‘flashing red’ on economy: Fed’s Williams

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President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, John Williams, addresses a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A flattening U.S. yield curve in December, which was close to being inverted, was “flashing red” about a deceleration in U.S. economic growth heading into 2019, despite some solid data at the time, New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said on Friday.

The yield curve flattens as the gap between short and long-dated yields narrow, suggesting investors’ worries about a slowing economy.

The yield curve inverts when shorter-dated yields rise above longer-dated ones. An inverted yield curve has preceded all U.S. recessions in the past 50 years.

Williams was giving closing remarks at a conference about quantitative tools, jointly sponsored by the New York Fed and the Atlanta Federal Reserve.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Diane Craft

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