SOG Ltd – Creating Sustainable Futures For Sites and People

SOG was created in 2000 with an innovative plan to purchase The Heath in Runcorn, transforming this from a single-occupancy corporate site faced with closure into a thriving multi-occupancy business and technical park, safeguarding jobs and creating a sustainable regional asset in its wake.

Since its inception over 500 businesses from a broad spectrum of business sectors have utilised The Heath as a business location and on average 150 businesses with 1800 people are employed at The Heath each year. SOG not only provides an innovative platform for such businesses to grow and be successful in their own sectors of expertise but it has also provided sustained employment for its own staff in this period.

In November 2014 SOG purchased a former Sanofi plant in Dagenham, East London that was also faced with closure and created Londoneast-uk Business and Technical Park applying the pioneering and successful model of replication used at The Heath. Less than 12 months after SOG launched Londoneast-uk some 7 companies and 500 people are accommodated at the Park.

Whilst SOG sites are now recognised as key employment centres that contribute significantly to the regional and national economies SOG is also recognised as a socially responsible company that embraces its employees and the local community, which has always been central to its company ethos.

Health and Safety

The safety and wellbeing of employees, contractors, customers and site visitors is SOG’s number one priority. All SOG’s business is conducted within the required laws and regulations.

Policies and procedures are in place to mitigate risk and to ensure that SOG and its resident businesses operate safely and do not pose a risk to anyone at the business parks or in the neighbouring residential communities. Regular ‘Safety Net’ meetings take place which provide an opportunity for all businesses to communicate on SHE (Safety/Health/Environment) related issues that affect their business operations.

Education and training is key to SOG’s strategy; all staff and residents at the business parks undertake initial induction training and have access to additional training offered by SOG. This includes but is not exclusive to SOG’s Safety Culture and Training programme called ‘Deal With It’® which is now a global training package designed to drive a positive culture among businesses and their employees – making work places safer for all. The course has been translated into 25 languages and delivered to 120,000 personnel across 5 continents.

Our Green Agenda

SOG’s initial concept of regenerating and recycling former corporate sites, safeguarding skills and providing sustainable employment for generations to come was ground-breaking and back in 2000 had not been carried out on such a large scale previously by any privately owned and funded SME organisation. SOG has been committed from the start to safeguarding specialist facilities that otherwise would be demolished, protecting critical skills-bases and providing an environment in which to thrive.

A large number of green initiatives take place at our sites and include:

  • Recycling of waste – office waste, paper waste, scrap metal, oil, food, garden, glass, electrical, hazardous waste and toner cartridges
  • Energy management – upgrade of building management system, installation of water meters and energy efficient boilers, movement sensor light switches, high-efficiency variable speed motors to reduce electrical consumption
  • As part of The Heath’s 2030 Strategy demolition of older less-efficient buildings and infrastructure – with 96.5% of materials being recycled in a recent project
  • Cycle parking provision to encourage people to leave their cars at home
  • Maintenance of green/landscaped garden environments for residents and visitors to enjoy

It is important to consider the scale of SOG’s initiatives taking into consideration the number of businesses that occupy its sites. It reaches far beyond SOG as an individual organisation contributing to sustainability; it is multiplied by over 150 times due to the number of companies that reside in its buildings.

Social Engagement

SOG is proud to support its local communities and this is central to its company ethos. The campus style environments allow SOG to embrace the local community through the provision of its land that is made available to community groups for fundraising activities and events and also through the provision of services and facilities that visitors to its sites can enjoy. A whole host of activities take place at The Heath and Londoneast-uk throughout the year and include:

  • Education links – school industry days, work placements and training events
  • Fire service – training environment for its fire fighters
  • Police service – community office base accessible by all
  • Community tea dances for mature citizens
  • Scouting meetings and camping expeditions
  • Blood donation sessions
  • Fundraising for MacMillan, British Heart Foundation, Rotary Club and local care hospices such as Halton Haven
  • Social events – family celebrations, sporting events, exhibitions, seasonal fairs, Christmas lunches and parties
  • Driver awareness courses, road safety campaigns

Economic Sustainability

ICI’s decision in 2000 to close its chemicals headquarters at The Heath in Runcorn with the loss of 1100 jobs was seen as the death knell for Runcorn – until SOG stepped in and saved the site from demolition by developing a platform for a regeneration process that created vast new employment across a range of business sectors.

Through private funding – and at no cost to the taxpayer – SOG’s model brought and continues to bring sustainable employment to generations of families; generating huge inward investment and significantly boosting the local and national economy, which faced devastating consequences from Runcorn’s biggest employer closing and additionally with Sanofi’s planned closure of its site in Dagenham.

SOG’s blueprint for regeneration of The Heath has evolved into the Fusion Process where SOG, through it’s 4-stage process, can identify a site’s strengths and development opportunities, subsequently providing factual evidence to assist such organisations in their decision making process regarding future opportunities for surplus/redundant sites or sites facing downsizing.

The Fusion model has successfully been applied to Londoneast-uk and SOG is working to an identified plan to regenerate the site, again safeguarding and creating employment opportunities for the longer term future.

Since 2010 SOG has invested £6M upgrading and developing The Heath and has committed to a £1M investment at Londoneast-uk developing London’s first post incubation centre that will be opened in April 2016.

SOG provides a platform for businesses of all sizes and sectors to grow and in many instances has supplied solutions to resident companies, enabling them to remain within the region and indeed within the UK, generating further inward investment from their own and associated companies.

The Heath 2030 and Beyond

The Heath has been at the heart of the regional economy for over 50 years, originally as ICI’s global headquarters but since March 2000 as a thriving business and technical park providing a home to world class organisations with a particular emphasis on science.

SOG places high value on its people and skills and specialist scientific skills, not easily found elsewhere in the region, are available at The Heath providing much needed support to its resident organisations. Services such as scientific glass-blowing, precision engineering and bespoke laboratory design and build are skilled roles that SOG saw as key when they transferred staff under TUPE from ICI to SOG Ltd, providing continued secure employment. Ordinarily such skills would have been lost from the region if The Heath site had closed its gates when ICI decided to close the facility.

Halton Borough Council is now working in collaboration with SOG and The Heath to ensure The Heath remains as an employment centre and supports a shared vision of improving on-site facilities as well as increasing employment to 3000 jobs by 2030.

SOG has completed 2 new build projects at The Heath and planning permission has been gained to expand The Heath to accommodate future growth. Companies are now able to create their own unique identity within the business park whilst having access to the services and facilities available, not forgetting free car parking. Technological advances and the use of modern building materials will enable SOG to reduce its carbon footprint as it develops its sites going forward.

Click here to see The Heath 2030 and Beyond brochure.