Riaz Ahmed, owner and MD of Lancashire bed and furniture manufacturer Sweet Dreams, was invited to visit Chancellor Rt Hon George Osborne MP last week to discuss how to promote business in the north with other major employers and influential players from the region.
The visit was part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative begun by Mr Osborne following a speech he delivered in Manchester last June, when he talked about harnessing the strengths of the northern regions. As a result, prominent business people and MDs were invited by MPs based in northern England to join in talks at a reception held at No 11 Downing Street on 20th January.
The reception involved the various groups of the influencers discussing the benefits of working together in promoting and maximising opportunities for business in the north. The networking was followed by a speech from the Chancellor, who is the Conservative MP for Tatton in Cheshire, in which he was keen to emphasise the strengths of the north as a region and how forging links working together could help business in the region as a whole.
Riaz comments: "It was very kind of my MP, Andrew Stephenson, to invite me to take part in the Northern Powerhouse event. It was both illuminating and edifying. It’s good to see that the people who run the country are aware of the force that is northern business and gratifying when they recognise the contribution we make to the country’s economy and consult our views."
Sweet Dreams, established in 1988, now employs around 250 local people at its Primrose Mill premises in Burnley. The premises were recently extended in a £3m project that saw an additional 56,000 sqft created for warehousing, production and showroom purposes, and in 2013 won a Burnley Business of the Year Award. In 2014 Sweet Dreams won the Gold Standard Award for quality and service from AIS, the industry’s largest buying group, and was Highly Commended in the bed industry’s prestigious Bed Manufacturer of the Year Award. Turnover at Sweet Dreams will this year be around £17m and the last few years have witnessed steady growth. Sweet Dreams sells beds, cabinet and sofas into retailers nationwide, including blue chip multiples as well as many independent stores.