Major employer marks 50 years in city with new training academy and 100 apprenticeships

Ripon’s largest employer hosted a family fun day to mark 50 years in the city and to thank its employees for their commitment throughout the Covid pandemic.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 1:04 pm
The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Eamon Parkin, is flanked by Wolseley UK's finance director Mark Stibbards (left) and CEO Simon Oakland as they officially re-open the company's head office and support centre following a major refurbishment. PHOTO: Sara Porter.

Wolseley UK , which sells heating and plumbing supplies nationally, invited all 400 of its employees and their families to the event, which was also attended by representatives from the local charities and community groups that the company has supported.

Finance director Mark Stibbards told this newspaper: “It was really nice to have a fun day to celebrate the company’s 50 years in Ripon and also to thank our current teams, because they’ve really worked very hard over the Covid pandemic.

“Wolseley UK is considered an essential service, and we’ve been supplying all the UK’s Nightingale Hospitals, including the one in Harrogate, as well as many of the supermarkets and other big customers. So the success of the business is really down to our wonderful employees.”

The firm also unveiled its Boroughbridge Road support centre, which is reopening after a £400,000 refurbishment, and its new training academy.

Mr Stibbards added: “We expect to offer about 100 apprenticeships a year, but our new training academy is about more than just apprenticeships. Through the Wolseley Talent Guild we also offer a combination of in-house NVQs and professional training in, for example, finance or IT.

“Some training may involve no formal qualification at all, but we can also provide support for MBAs. So all our staff have the opportunity to do something at the training academy, and we want to make it available to our charity partners too.”

Wolseley UK employs about 280 people at its head office and support centre in Ripon, and a further 120 at its distribution centre in nearby Melmerby.

The company first arrived in Ripon in 1971 as The Wolseley-Hughes Group. It incorporated three businesses – OBC, Yorkshire Heating Supplies and Granville Controls – which had initially joined forces in 1965 to maximise the financial capital available to them after the discovery that year of North Sea gas.