Fleetwood-based businessman Andy Pilley knows a thing or two about success – in the diverse fields of running a professional football club and a company supplying trade gas and electricity.
Mr Pilley, director of BES Utilities and chairman of League One club Fleetwood Town, had the chance to talk about both when he played host to Matthew Hancock, the minister who holds the joint portfolios of business and energy.
Mr Hancock was keen to hear about Mr Pilley’s role as an independent energy supplier.
Only recently the company, which is based in plush offices at Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town FC, was able to take on 50 new staff.
And with a total roll call of 450 people, it means that BES is now one of the biggest employees on the Fylde coast.
Given that the minister’s visited coincided with Apprentice Week, he also heard that the football club – sponsored by BES Gas – has taken on 17 young football apprentices.
Mr Hancock, accompanied by Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw, said: “We want to try and encourage new energy suppliers because they give people more options.
“You can see how innovative businesses like BES can help customers. Interestingly, here at Fleetwood, the growth of this company fits in nicely with the growth of this football club and there are knock-on effects here for the whole community.”
Asked how the Government could help companies like BES, he said: “Part of my reason for visiting this area and talking to businesses here is to find out from them how they would like us to help.”
Mr Hancock added: “We are looking for apprenticeships to become the first choice for businesses and employers, right up to university age, so we can train the next generation and give them the skills they need. I am very encouraged that here, at Fleetwood Town, they are doing that too.” Mr Pilley said: “At BES, we are an alternative to the Big Six energy suppliers and Mr Hancock is a supporter of de-regulating the industry, so I welcolmed his visit.
“One of the things I am most pleased about is that we have been able to give people jobs and put something back into the community.
“What’s more, these jobs are sustainable. People will always need gas and electric.”