ANYONE who has come across an RU branded company could, understandably, believe the name is simply a clever marketing ploy.

After all, putting “RU” before any other word – RU Active, RU Hungry, and so on – creates an instant question, to which the company can invariably provide the answer.

But RU is more than just a name, it is also my initials. As the RU brand of businesses, many of which have offices in Stockton-on-Tees are growing at a rapid pace, so does my love for the area.

The group of companies encompasses OES Oilfield Services, Askaris IT, RU Active Sports Services LLC, RU Living, RU Listening Ltd, RU Hungry, RU Training, RU Talking, RU Roaming, Bespoke Wellness, Harley Street specialists Exclusive Beauty and the most recent addition, Dubai-based Top Sports Coaching, which is now a subsidiary of RU Active.

While many of the RU companies are primarily based in Dubai, over the past three years, I have invested more than £6m in the Teesside area – an area for which I have a particular fondness – through RU businesses.

My companies currently employ more than 200 staff in or from the North East, and have trained and employed hundreds of people over the past few years, many through their apprenticeship schemes and traineeships.

Through RU Listening Ltd, my music artist management company with an office at Stockton’s Bowesfield Industrial Estate, six young singers have been signed, all from the Teesside area.

At the heart of every business I have invested in are people with a desire to change their own lives and those of the people around them, whom for whatever reason have not been empowered to do so previously.

With strong back office support including finance, marketing, PR and senior management, I have enabled many businesses to share in resources that only large global corporations usually enjoy which in turn has given them a platform to reach their true potential.