Business Reporter Chris Holland rounds up recent key business developments

The boss of Morrisons’ new online grocery operation said this week’s launch of deliveries to the Bradford-based retailer’s heartland would put it nearly halfway towards reaching 50 per cent of UK households by the end of the year.

Delivery vans started rolling out from the Birstall depot on Monday to households in Bradford, Skipton and other parts of Yorkshire.

Simon Thompson, head of online food at, said the Birstall hub would supply about eight per cent of Morrisons online sales and the expansion into Yorkshire would see it achieving about 40 per cent of its intended coverage for 2014.

The roll-out in Yorkshire has created nearly 100 jobs for delivery staff.

Mr Thompson said: “We have been most encouraged by sales over the first three weeks which have been better than expected.”

  • Oxford-based property investor Ray Withers has sung Bradford’s praises, predicting it would become a magnet for savvy investors.

Mr Withers, chief executive of Property Frontiers, which is selling buy-to-let apartments in the £45 million Aspire Citygate development on Manchester Road, said regeneration of the city would attract more demand for luxury apartments through people returning to the district.

He said: “Bradford offers a good, yet affordable standard of living and its migrating population has made the city one of the UK’s top residential property hotspots for 2014.

House prices in Bradford are, on average, one third less than London and half the price of the South-East. However, the growing demand in the area is pushing up prices in the property market, making it an excellent location for capital growth investments.”

  • Export officials from Bradford-based Chamber International revealed they are trying to resolve an international dispute over the export of blended teas.

Experts are advising Taylors of Harrogate, which blends Yorkshire Tea, to resolve a regulatory dispute with South Korea, which has been accused of ‘protectionism’. Chamber International warned that the ‘country of origin’ labelling dispute could become an EU-wide issue.

The dispute revolves around the definition of the ‘substantive change’ in a tea product which is used to determine its country of origin.

Mike Strawson , Chamber International senior export advisor, said: “In our view, this is a clear case of protectionism on the part of the South Korean authorities. It could be the thin end of the wedge and, if not resolved, this dispute could affect all blended teas exported from within the EU.”

  • Bradford-based steel stockholder Barrett Steel Group bounced back last year in the face of challenging trading conditions and remains confident about future prospects.

The family-owned business saw pre-tax profits leap by nearly 50 per cent from £3.1 million to nearly £4.6 million while turnover rose by five per cent from £261 million to £273 million in the year to September 30.