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Firms to Watch


SuperGroup: The retail giant under analysis

IS THIS THE BEST BUSINESSMAN IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE? BOB HOLT, the architect of a modern plc, tells his story

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User Guides Training Manuals



Editor’s Letter

Welcome Welcome to the first edition of Agenda, our monthly magazine for and about Gloucestershire’s business community.

Andrew Merrell 01452 690792

Each month we will do our utmost to bring you features which give you an interesting and valuable insight into some of the individuals, teams and companies that make the business landscape of this county so fascinating.

The team: Bev Hawes and Chris Campbell Lead designer: Hattie Nicholson

ADVERTISING Head of Business & Sponsorship: Nicole Archer 01242 278003

ON-LINE For all the latest business news from across Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath visit Receive your free daily business briefing delivered to your inbox every morning. Visit and register your details at the bottom of the homepage.

Agenda is a Gloucestershire Media publication. Floor 3, St James House, St James Place, Cheltenham, GL50 3PR. This month’s cover features Mears Group plc chairman Bob Holt. The picture was taken by Robert Davis, staff photographer at Gloucestershire Media at Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham in April 2012.


workers admit to yelling at a computer


We’ll surround this with pictures of your business events, diary dates for the weeks ahead, snippets of news from the month gone, finance, legal, commercial property, motoring, gadgets, eating out, and rural business stories. We want to deliver something that showcases the breadth and depth of talent here in Gloucestershire, that turns the spotlight not just on the beauty of the Cotswolds but the county’s capital city, its regency neighbour, the industry of the Forest of Dean, the thriving businesses of Tewkesbury and the firms of the Five Valleys. We’ll also be telling the news as it happens on our new adaptive website (see page 11), built specially for the purpose, and for hosting your views, events and pictures, and delivering it to your in-box for free through Twitter and our re-launched free daily business email briefing. All of which will be done with the support of our reporters from this magazine’s parent publications, The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo and their weekly Business Week title. But none of it will be possible without you letting us know your stories and sending us your ideas. We look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy Agenda.

A. Merrell

Andrew Merrell Editor

Twitter Follow us on Twitter (@swbusinessnews) – almost 3,000 others already do. We’ll drop you the top line on one or two of the day’s best regional stories. All of which goes back to our adaptive business website and its free daily newsletter.


of couples in the UK speak to their partner for fewer than ten minutes a day June 2012 AGENDA 3


June 2012

In this issue 14



We’re not just a pretty magazine. Our bread and butter is actually our new website and free email newsletter operation covering the county and beyond. Find out more here or visit www.


News, views and diary dates. We remind you of a few of the last month’s most significant news stories, pick one from the web and flag up business events over the coming weeks.

12 Networking. Pictures from the business events county-wide (see also pages 28, 29 and 45).

Cover image Bob Holt He won’t thank us for suggesting as much, but Mr Holt could lay claim to being this county’s most successful businessman. Find out why from page 22. Picture by Robert Davis.

4 AGENDA June 2012

14 Stuart Barnes. We introduce you to business expert Mr Barnes who has agreed to write a monthly column for us.

15 The Game Changer, alias Mr Barnes (see

above). He’s been there and done it and now his business is helping businesses. We think you’ll find what he has to say enlightening.

17 Finance. The business of cricket, the

sport which is unfathomable to some and impossible to live without for others. GCCC talks money and hopes for 2012.


Talk is cheap. What I want to see is action. That’s what’s important. Bob Holt


20 My Green Eye. Sarah Daly busts the myths around



21 Environment. Can a manufacturing company really make high end products here in Gloucestershire and be carbon neutral? Everhot breaks rules and wins.

22 Bob Holt, the man who led Mears from small

Gloucestershire business with 80 staff to the Stock Market and a forward order book of £3blln talks life and business.

32 SuperGroup plc. The hugely successful

Gloucestershire business is a jewel in the crown of the county’s economy, but it’s also navigating some difficult times with the City.

38 Up and coming. We turn the spot light on some of the county’s lesser-known businesses doing great and interesting things.

42 Commercial Property. 46 An appetite for acquisitions. Cheltenham financial firm Attivo Group sees opportunity for growth in an industry desperate to restore some faith.

49 Where are they now? When they’re done with


entertaining us on the fields of play where do they go? Ex-Cheltenham town manager Chris Robinson tells us.

50 Appointments. New faces strengthen the ranks of Gloucestershire businesses. We pick a few from the pack.

51 Motoring. This month organisers rev up the

Gloucestershire Motor Show at Highnam Court and a classic Bentley will be star of the show. We also catch of glimpse of the marque’s Mulsanne.

52 Gadgets. We come over all patriotic, with this

being Jubilee month, and show off the wares of English watchmaker J & T Windmills.

54 Eating Out. Good places to eat in the county. 57 Rural business. Five Valleys Cordial quenches our thirst for interesting business in out of the way places.

58 Dress to impress. Businessman Mark Boyce, MD

of Utility Customer Service Management Ltd and president of Gloucester Chamber of Trade.


is the average sum that people think necessary to change their lives June 2012 AGENDA 5


Adapting to fit the new on-line world Alongside this new magazine we have also launched what for us is one of the most exciting new websites currently being pitched to the business news market - anywhere.

6 AGENDA June 2012


The site in question is special for a number of reasons, but what’s got us most excited is that for the 50 per cent of you (and rising) who currently go on-line using your phones, i-pads or netbook, is adaptive.

“Next we had to find a developer. There is some incredible talent in the South West when it comes to website design, but we knew we had our man in Andrew Webley. Since leaving possibly Bristol’s most successful company in recent years, Hargreaves Lansdown, to form the Smarter Web Company he has turned the business model of site building on its head and into a mass production process which delivers, we think, astonishing value for money. He agreed to bend his own rules a little and produce the first of what he thinks will be a next generation of sites specially for something missing us.

That means it will shape itself to fit your mobile device, streaming the content in a way that means you only scroll up and down, which aside from the technical ‘wow’ factor means our service to you is user friendly in a way that is streets ahead of the competition. “If you want to get the best out of online and your site is not adaptive, it is no longer fit for purpose for business people. They’re often on the move. They want to find the information they are looking for, read it and move on,” said Andrew Merrell, online business editor for www.

from your brand?

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“To help get them to the story faster we’ve also re-launched out free email morning news briefing which means they simply open their email, click on the story of interest, and the news is there in front of them. It’s not new, but we know our readers wanted it back and at last we can deliver it in a way that suits their needs.

“A key factor in our decision making was also the question of relationships. Building something which exists as a different idea in the heads of all those involved, and keeping everyone happy, is a difficult process to manage. We have not been disappointed and we hope you are not either.”

If you want to get the best out of online and your site is not adaptive, “Other websites have come to the market place offering it is no longer fit for purpose for business news since we started our service in March 2009 business people. They’re often on as, but we have built a sound knowledge of what people want to read on a business site the move. They want to find the – be that news stories, blogs, picture galleries or comment information they are looking for, read and how long they visit for. We, as reporters of news – not people, a spec around that information. (and even a little poetry). We technical specialise inwrote branding, design & all things online it and move on We also demanded a fast, simple, user-friendly admin-light find us on facebook

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News & views NEWS & VIEWS

MULTI MILLION POUND DEAL Helicopter company Bond Air Services, of Gloucestershire, successfully landed a contract worth £8 million from air ambulance charity, Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. The five-year deal will see Staverton-based Bond continue to provide a complete helicopter support service, including aircraft, crew and maintenance support until 2017. Bond has been providing the helicopter emergency medical service for the air ambulance charity since 2000 and it will continue to operate the organisation’s existing Eurocopter EC135T2i on a seven days a week basis from its operational facilities at Henstridge.

AND HE’S OFF Edward Gillespie announced he would be stepping down as managing director of Cheltenham Racecourse. Mr Gillespie is credited as one of the key architects of the on-going and growing success of what is widely acknowledged as one of the jewels in the crown of sport in the UK and jump racing world-wide. After 32 years in the role at the Jockey Club Racecourse venue the well-known county businessman, 59, who has enjoyed a stellar career, starting as a trainee manager at United Racecourses in 1974, becoming racecourse manager at Kempton and Sandown Park, and then part of the management team for the Derby at Epsom, is handing over the reins. He is expected to remain available to help the next incumbent settle into their role and also to oversee the next phase of major redevelopment at the racecourse, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study. We wish him well. 8 AGENDA June 2012

CLEAR VISION FOR NUCLEAR The Government’s nuclear programme has not been derailed by the decision of two German power giants to pull out of the market, Energy Minister Charles Hendry insisted. He said he believed new investors would take over the projects started by Horizon Nuclear Power – including in Gloucestershire and the county workforce would be retained. It emerged as French energy giant EDF denied national newspaper reports earthworks needed to prepare for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point have been delayed (see page 42).


£60 MILLION GLOUCESTER QUAYSIDE Developers struck a landmark deal to allay fears competition for new traders could have harmed major plans for Gloucester’s regeneration. Plans to revamp the cinema site at the Peel Centre, which will be vacated when the £60million Quayside scheme opens next year, initially caused controversy. Stanhope PLC, the developer involved with the multi-million pound proposals to breathe life into King’s Square, had raised concerns the revamp of the Peel site would harm its own ability to attract shops. But Peel Holdings Ltd, which also owns the Gloucester Quays outlet, has written to Gloucester City Council, amending its plans to restrict the use of the retail park, ruling out fashion, book and stationery stores.

WEATHER SCUTTLES BADMINTON The south Cotswolds was forced into issuing a statement announcing it was still open for business after the Badminton Horse Trials were called off because of the wet weather.


Business chiefs are still counting the costs of the late cancellation of the event which saw hundreds of thousands of people who normally travel to the county stay away. They were quick to tell everyone that even without the event the Cotswolds was still ripe for a bank holiday weekend break.

Mark Boyce, president of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, announced Age UK Gloucestershire as his nominated charity for 2012. Christina Snell, chief executive officer of Age UK Gloucestershire, said the charity was “delighted” to be chosen.

The event brings tens of millions to the county annually.

“It’s not just about the money,” she said. “By selecting us as their Charity of the Year it will hopefully mean more people find out about what we do.’”

Each year GCC organises several fund raising events supported by members for the benefit of their chosen charity, including a Banquet & Ball, Christmas Dinner, and Golf Day.


Hopes for 200 jobs dashed - A business park which it is claimed would have brought almost 200 jobs to Cheltenham

was blocked by planners Tewkesbury Borough Council. Plans to transform derelict farm buildings off Gotherington Lane in Bishop’s Cleeve by developer Comparo were thrown out. Comments posted online: “Thrown out! Good! The junctions and roads in Cleeve and Gotherington are not suitable for the type of traffic an Industrial or ‘Business’ park would need to enter this site. ....and 200 jobs ? really!” “The proposed site is only derelict because the greedy landowner/farmer sold his land to build houses on rather than try and make it work as a farm.” “The infrastructure is pushed as it is and will be further stretched by the existing plans for development.” June 2012 AGENDA 9


Legal entrepreneurs Hopson Solicitors was founded by corporate and commercial solicitor Guy Hopson in October 2010.


t the outset, Guy was a sole trader operating out of a small office in Eagle Tower. Guy was joined in April 2011 by employment law specialist Andréa Bateman. Andréa has recently become Andréa Hopson so clearly the working relationship has not taken its toll! Owing to the volume of work and the success of the 2 partners, Hopson Solicitors are now a 5 strong team and, in August 2011, moved to more substantial offices in Imperial Square, Cheltenham. The success of the firm to date is founded upon a personal service given to its clients at affordable rates. The firm is proud of its reputation for having a realistic, pragmatic approach and a commercial attitude. When setting up the firm, it was clear that overheads could be kept lower than those of other firms and hourly rates have been set accordingly. In the current climate, people are keen to see value – especially in their legal advice. This is what Hopson Solicitors endeavours to achieve for its clients. Indeed, existing clients receive the same service for substantially less 10 AGENDA June 2012

whilst new clients are attracted by the lower rates and first class service levels. Guy has 12 years’ experience in the legal profession. Born and raised in Gloucestershire, Guy is well known among the business community and indeed, among other professionals – as well as in the rugby sporting arena. Andréa has in excess of 14 years’ experience in employment law having been a Partner at both Harrison Clark and BPE in Cheltenham. Born in the North East, she has that certain “northern” charm. Hopson Solicitors like to understand their clients’ businesses and to form solid relationships from day one. They know how a business operates, doing it themselves, as entrepreneurs. The calibre of the existing client base speaks for itself – and the fact that this is the first editorial Hopson Solicitors has ever written shows that its reputation and word of mouth referrals are working. If you don’t know Guy and Andréa please get to know them. They are confident that they can add value to your business and help your business grow.

Services Employment services include: • Unfair and wrongful dismissal • Unlawful deductions from wages • Discrimination • Termination • Restrictive covenant enforcement • Employment Contracts and Policies • Director Service Agreements • Employment Policies and Handbooks/HR advice and support • Redundancies, restructuring and reorganisation • TUPE transfers • Redundancies • Internal training e.g. discipline, absence management, discrimination Corporate & Commercial services include: • Business start-ups; • Mergers and acquisitions; • Management buy-outs and buy-ins; • Corporate restructuring and joint ventures; • General corporate/commercial transactions; • Shareholder agreements; • Commercial agreements (uk and internationally); and • Partnership and llp agreements and arrangements.

2 Imperial Square, Cheltenham, GL50 1QB,

01242 243820


Diarydates JUNE 14

Business West stages its bi-monthly event at Mercedes-Benz dealership showroom in Staverton, Gloucester. This is a networking event, not a sales event for MercedesBenz, although they will have a few minutes at the beginning of the evening to explain what they offer. Members can attend free of charge but there is a charge of £20 per person for non members. Due to take place from 6pm to 8pm. For more information contact the events team on 01275 370849 or email

June 15

Gloucestershire Export Club

June 21

Swinging into charity action Creed Foodservice has announced its first Charity Golf Day will take place on June 21 at Brickhampton Court Golf Complex in Churchdown, Gloucestershire. The foodservice wholesaler is inviting customers and suppliers to take part in this popular event to raise money for Gloucestershire charities Winston’s Wish, Sue Ryder Care and County Community Partnership (CCP). For more information or to sign up email rachel.jones@

July 3

Charitable intentions

Business West stages this exporting special, hosted by HSBC, to launch its new exporting club. It is described as an opportunity to share best practice and access to experts, such as UK Trade & Inverstment.

This year’s Gloucester Chamber Golf Day will take place at Brickhampton Golf Complex on Tuesday 3rd July 2012 when, as well as taking part, there are sponsorship opportunities for local businesses.

Due to take place from noon to 2pm at HSBC’s offices on the Waterwells Business Park, Gloucester. Chaired by Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester.

Money raised at this and other charity events in 2012 will now go to Age UK Gloucestershire, the chosen charity of this year’s chamber president Mark Boyce.

To find out more contact 01275 370849 events@

To find out more email or call 0845 2712844.

June 20

July 18

Bruton Knowles Civic Reception at Blackfriars in Gloucester. The property services company celeberates 150 years this year (1862 to 2012).

June 20

Business Breakfast Club This month is a “pure networking” Gloucestershire Business Breakfast Club meeting.

Networking The Gloucestershire Business Breakfast Club are pleased to welcome Naomi Kent from the Parliament’s Outreach Service who will be giving a 30 minute presentation about what the service does and also how businesses can help. Due to take place at Hatherley Manor Hotel, Down Hatherley Lane, Gloucester, GL2 9QA. Price: £12.50 plus VAT. To find out more contact 01275 370849 events@

Due to take place at Hatherley Manor Hotel, Down Hatherley Lane, Gloucester, GL2 9QA, from 7.45am to 9.30pm. Cost is £12.50-plus VAT. To find out more contact 01275 370849


people on average apply for every job vacancy in Britain



is the age at which most Britons think people become “old” June 2012 AGENDA 11


Employment law in the dock


ore than 70 of the county’s business leaders were brought before a judge recently - for a seminar. The special Employment Law – State of the Nation event was hosted by Cheltenham-based solicitors Sherbornes at Ellenborough Park Hotel, Southam, and featured guest speaker and barrister John Livesey.

Doug Armstrong and Simon Sheldon

Simon Collingridge, Darren Sherborne and John Livesey

John Barker, Gareth Parry and Steve Jones

Urmi Ahmed and Jo Blackett

Gill Pearson and Steven Walker

Julie Heather and Karen Minett

12 AGENDA June 2012

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A passion for winning Stewart Barnes has a taste for winningboth on and off the pitch. Since he was eight he has captained football teams and played for the affiliated West Ham youth side, writes Bev Hawes.


inning is clearly a passion the 45 year old Selkirk-born Scot has taken into his successful business career and in more recent years to help develop leadership and management skills in others. Mr Barnes gained a degree in chemistry at Aberdeen University but one of his professors spotted other skills that would transfer into business.

He gained a Master of Business Administration with distinction at the University of Lancaster, finishing as the top student and commenced a part-time PhD at the University of Gloucestershire, retaining strong links with both centres as a guest lecturer.

I had a romantic notion of working for a British company making things for the good of the UK.

A wise choice as it turned out. He gained experience in marketing, selling, international business, management and much more, becoming part of the team that developed the global branding strategy for the group.

Then in 1997 Mr Barnes was head hunted by Hansen Glass, becoming a group main board director at 34 and then joint chief executive at 37. In the 10 years Stewart spent with the family owned multi-national group he succeeded in growing the business by 50 per cent to £100 million with responsibility for 1,000 employees in six countries. During that time he also earned a reputation for creating 14 AGENDA June 2012

Then in 2005 whilst on holiday in Perth, Australia, Mr Barnes made a critical work/ life balance decision.

“I had a romantic notion of working for a British company making things for the good of the UK,” he said. He had a choice between starting his business career with BP or Pilkington, the leading flat glass manufacturer, and chose the latter, admittedly for a much smaller salary because after visiting Pilkington, “it felt good.”

highly profitable operations leading their market sectors, something he achieved by working with strong management teams - a taste of what was to come in his later career.

Mr Barnes used his invaluable business know-how as a consultant with Northern Arc and Business West working with companies up to £40 million in size, helping to accelerate growth, setting out detailed programmes for structural and strategic changes for fulfilling potential. Then in 2011 he formed a new company QuoLux (two Latin words which mean providing light in a certain direction for others to follow) offering leadership development and business consultancy. One of the services he offers is LEAD, a leadership and business growth programme under exclusive licence from Lancaster University Management School, for small to medium sized businesses.


The game changer Secrets of Success What do ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, Bottlegreen and Fluid Transfer have in common? On the face of it, not much perhaps, writes Stewart Barnes.


hese are companies that supply magnetic filters to builders’ merchants, refreshing drinks to supermarkets and refuelling equipment to airports. But, scratch the surface and you will find that there are a number of common factors to their success. The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo have recently launched the 2012 Business Awards, the country’s largest

regional business awards. ADEY, Bottlegreen and Fluid Transfer were crowned Business of the Year in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. I have had the privilege of working with the boards of all three companies helping them produce and improve their business plans and strategies. This has given me a unique insight into the “secrets” that are common to their success.


The business leaders – Chris Adey, Simon Speers and John Little – know their businesses, products, customers and markets extremely well. They not only spot opportunities, they seize them.

teams, with actions owned by the top team members which, in turn, they have rolled out to the staff in each of their departments. This created “buy-in” with staff and senior management aligned.



Despite all their industry knowledge and considerable skills, these business leaders recognise that they can benefit from external independent assistance. They are aware that they do not have all the necessary answers themselves, so seek stimulus and inputs from the right sources. This is a sign of strong leadership.


They recognise that they cannot run and develop their business on their own. All have built very strong management teams around them.


Together with their Top Team (the senior management team) they have created a vision of what the future will look like and established a set of values – “the way we want to do business”.


They have a plan, a market based plan, with strategies and actions for the key product to key market segments that they operate in. They have then aligned their operations to deliver the value sought by their customers. These plans were created with their top

The leaders and their top team members again recognise that they cannot do everything in the business. They have empowered, motivated staff and much effort is expended “managing the people to manage the process”. Management style is open, encouraging ideas, recognising good work. There is much communication up, down and across these businesses. Staff are encouraged to make decisions. These businesses embrace good employee practices and measure themselves against appropriate standards. All three companies know the few key measures that they must continually monitor and improve. They meet regularly to review progress against the plan.


Finally, I saw that these business leaders created a sense of urgency to further drive change and improvements in their companies. They had guts to change an already successful formula, to transform their companies into even better performing businesses.

Stewart Barnes, is founder of QuoLux, developing world class leadership and management skills. June 2012 AGENDA 15

11-22 July 2012 at Cheltenham College

Gloucestershire Cricket returns to Cheltenham this summer with 5 exciting fixtures 2012 fixtures


11 july essex

4 days


15 17 18 22

1 1 4 1

cb40* cb40* lv=cc** cb40*

july july july july

essex worcestershire leicestershire middlesex

day day days day

* Clydesdale Bank 40 ** Liverpool Victoria County Championship

This is one of the most loved events in the social & sporting calendar. Last year’s festival was the most successful yet, attracting 25,000 spectators & 3,000 corporate guests. All of our hospitality guests are catered for in our pitch side marquees with private gardens. This year promises to be even better with a brand new selection of hospitality packages for you to enjoy from just £50 pp + VAT.

For more information visit or contact: Kevin Ashley 0117 910 8013 / Julie Waite 0117 910 8022 /


Cricket club on track for golden summer

Excellent ticket sales and strong sponsorship ties were behind Gloucestershire Cricket Club recording a small profit for the year to last September, but the club has passed a “major crossroads”, according to its chief executive.


n the 12 months to September 30, the club made a small surplus of £3,000, following pre-tax deficits in the previous two years of £244,000 and £182,000. Chief executive Tom Richardson, said the club was fortunate in the support it receives from its sponsors and business clients. “I think they are massively important in a wide variety of ways because in terms of what cricket can do for potential sponsors is huge,” said Mr Richardson. “They get exposure in a sport much loved and well-liked by a huge number of people and it is important for us to have partners both locally and nationally.” Seven of the club’s major sponsors hail from Cheltenham and Gloucester. They include business telecoms specialists Official Club Partner Total, privately owned client investment managers Brewin Dolphin, luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, used car specialists Completely Motoring, aerospace company Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Mercedes of Cheltenham & Gloucester and The University of Gloucestershire. But the very future of club at Nevil Road, in Bristol, has been in jeopardy with Bristol city councillors making a decision on a planning application to guarantee

international matches at the County Ground (see more next month). The club has also put its surplus down to England’s international Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka last June, with ticket sales up due to what it described as an “excellent” England team performance the winter prior. Honorary treasurer Tony Elgood said: “We are forecasting a significant surplus for the current year.” The club also adopted a new digital ticketing system. This greatly increased advance ticket sales and doubled them for last year’s Cheltenham Cricket Festival. Ian Selwood, managing partner at business experts Randall & Payne, Stroud, said: “It is important for every entity to make surpluses for their long term survival be they businesses, charities or sporting associations. It is great news that it’s is turning around its deficits into surpluses. The question is how much of this is sustainable.“ Read more next month.


Olympic evictions

No matter how tempting a property’s earnings potential as a result of a nearby sporting event landlords should be wary of the consequences of trying to cash in, according to law firm Rickerbys.


he Cheltenham solicitors issued the advice after learning that in the East End of London some tenants are facing a stark choice in the run up to the Olympics: move out of their flats or face paying exorbitant rents to their landlords over the period of the games.

seeking possession of a property during the first six months of the tenancy. Even after the fixed period of the tenancy has expired, a landlord must overcome several hurdles before he can regain possession of the property.

“First, a notice must be served on the tenants, which provides the tenants with at least two months notice of termination of their tenancy. If the Letting agencies are reportedly promising landlords an earning Even after the fixed period tenants refuse to vacate the property after the two month notice period potential of up to £2,500 per week of the tenancy has expired, a has expired, which is becoming for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the county firm and landlord must overcome several increasingly common, the landlord is then required to commence as a result many are attempting to proceedings in their local county remove their tenants with little or hurdles before he can regain court to recover possession of the no notice to re-let their properties possession of the property property. Once the landlord has to Olympic visitors. obtained a possession order from Andrew Turner, head of property litigation at Rickerbys LLP the court, he can then appoint a court bailiff to legally evict solicitors, said: “Recovering possession of a property from the tenants.” a tenant legally is not as simple as asking a tenant to leave Needless to say, said Mr Turner, landlords should think and showing them the door if they do not leave. There is a twice before acting rashly because it could cost them legal process that needs to be followed. financially and could cost them their freedom: it is a “Many residential short lets are governed by an assured criminal offence to illegally evict someone from a property, short hold tenancy agreement, which prevents a landlord which is punishable by imprisonment.

18 AGENDA June 2012



Sustainable Competitiveness > Sustainable Growth


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Sustainability gives businesses a different perspective By Sarah Daly, strategic sustainability consultant, MyGreenEye


here are some interesting debates currently about the semantics of sustainability. It’s one of those words that means everything and nothing. Like religion, it has the benefit of being what you want it to be. But it can also be divisive; it creates zealots and evangelists and gives people the opportunity to opt-out if they disagree with something contentious and fundamental ... like climate change.

So let’s do some myth-busting. Myth 1 – We’re not in the ‘green sector’ so it’s not relevant to us Every business has impacts (however small) and every business has the opportunity to do things which will reduce its use of resources and potentially save them money. The public sector must reduce its emissions by 30% by 2020 – that means they must positively select companies to help achieve this.

Myth 2 – There’s no legislation to force us Legislation is a last resort as it’s costly and takes time. Governments will always allow market forces to create change where possible and they can clearly see that competition is driving change through supply chains especially in the public sector which is ‘pulling’ the private sector.

In a business context, think of it simply as a marketing issue as it deals with the fundamentals of product, promotion, price and distribution. What you sell, how and where you sell it and how you promote your goods and services is increasingly being perceived in the wider context of responsibility and accountability.

Myth 3 – We can’t afford it This pre-supposes that there are costs and in many instances there aren’t. The best starting point is to make a one-page business plan focussing on how to do the headline activities differently. This invariably generates operating cost savings that can be invested into areas which will retain or win business. I’m doing exactly this with several companies.

Myth 4 – We are too busy Once you’ve engaged minds you can all be busy doing it all but in a more sustainable way! It isn’t necessarily about appointing a sustainability manager, though this works in some organisations. All your people can be empowered to do ‘better business’ and will soon discover the multiple benefits and paybacks. There are many more myths and many more sensible responses. Please feel free to email me on sarah@

Sarah Daly strategic sustainability consultant MyGreenEye Tel: 07818 888333 Email:

1 in 5 20 AGENDA June 2012

employers believe school-leavers make better workers than university graduates SOURCE: ADECCO


Manufacturing green credentials For a company which has just invested considerable time, effort and money in two major green projects there is very little desire to dress up the venture in any ribbons and bells.


here is a sense from speaking to managing director Guy Goring that planting 10,000 trees over 12 acres in Gloucestershire and fitting 200 50kw solar panels to his company’s roof should make a clear enough point without having to go on about it.

Advice before a business enters into any scheme is key, said Mr Goring, who used Sanctus Energy, based at nearby Stonehouse, and Chalton Abbotts Forestry Ltd, Cheltenham.

Nevertheless, we asked him anyway, keen to glean just what a business which makes top of the range cookers stands to gain.

The 43-year-old father-of-two studied engineering in Bristol and began his career at Honda in Swindon, working mainly on the business side, before establishing Everhot. His father did the difficult part, he said - inventing the product.

Everhot makes electric range cookers for the premium end of the market and a visit to its website reveals its products in all their colourful glory, fit for any Cotswold kitchen.

With the combination of PV panels, water power and tree planting and that the ranges are built here in Britain, the firm now offsets almost twice the carbon it produces.

It was never actually a question of converting to reneweable energy; being based in an old water mill we’ve always used hydro electric power.

“It was never actually a question of converting to renewable energy; being based in an old water mill we’ve always used hydro electric power. My father installed a state of the art water turbine that produces 25kw of energy in 1978; he then invented the original cooker to work alongside the turbine output,” said Mr Goring, explaining the roots of the business which as well as its original base at Coaley Mill, a former wool mill, now also has an operation on the 92-acre former Lister Petter site at Littlecombe in Dursley.

But the Dursley-based company is also British manufacturing in the old sense of the word – it actually makes its product, almost entirely, here in Gloucestershire - and its ‘green credentials’ are part of its very fabric.

Parts are made nearby at its Stroudbased DKM Sheet Metal business, run by managing director Steve Hearn, which employs 25 staff. The firm also makes parts for other companies. Everhot itself employs 22 and turns over £4.5m annually.

June 2012 AGENDA 21



Is this the county’s greatest businessman? Bob Holt’s successful stewardship of Mears Group from Gloucestershire backwater to PLC status has made him one of the most successful businessmen of his generation.

22 AGENDA June 2012


My mother ran a small chain of grocery shops in the north of England. She was an absolute grafter. I think the work ethic I have I got from my mother.


e meet in the comfortable surroundings of the reception of the Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham. He must have overheard me explaining to the receptionist I was here to meet ‘Mr Holt’, and then gesturing to the smartly dressed man reading a broadsheet business section. His first action, aside from getting up to shake my hand, is to dispense with formality. “Please, call me Bob, not Mr Holt,” he said. I tell him I am interested in his roots – where it all began. “My mother ran a small chain of grocery shops in the north of England. She was an absolute grafter. My father worked for her. I think the work ethic I have I got from my mother.” He was born in Littleborough, Lancashire, in 1954, harboured sporting ambitions, and spent his time after school running errands for the family business and people in the community. We order tea. It seems to best fit the surroundings somehow and he pours. We had spoken before, as I remind him, a good five years ago. I have heard tales since then of an exacting man who does not suffer fools gladly. He talks of his “Marmite” relationship with the City. They either love him or loath him, he feels. He bought Mears to market – AIM, to be precise – in October 1996, selling two million shares for £5m. It grew by an average 42 per cent a year for the next eight years. Within a decade the business had won AIM-related accolades for company of the year, best chairman, chief executive, best commitment to the environment. The list goes on. For a man with a great sense of duty to those shareholders who invest in public companies the short-termism and money chasing attitude of some in the City rather tarnishes the bigger picture for him, and you sense he has run out of patience with their questions. “The City exists to make money. There is no doubt it does bring tremendous rewards for people who get it right. And those who have been with me for quite a while will have enjoyed the rewards,” said Mr Holt. June 2012 AGENDA 23


It was not like he took over a business obviously at the foot of a massive growth curve, although he is keen to stress the company, whose founder is still a close friend, was built on very good footings. What fires the imagination is that he paid a reported £50,000 for the eight-year-old Berkeley-based buildings maintenance business in 1996. Then it employed 80 staff. And then he transformed it, taking full advantage of the Labour Government’s mass move towards outsourcing its social housing maintenance. Today, he remains chairman. CEO is David Miles. The company moved to the full Stock Exchange in 2008 and continued its broadly debt-free growth with reported group revenues of £589m last year (up 12 per cent on 2010) and a forward order book close to £3blln. His business interests are more streamlined these days, but he is also chairman of Worcester-based Green Compliance PLC and non-executive chairman of Inspired Energy PLC, based in Lancashire. He remains a firm believer in the green energy sector and its potential, despite the Government’s abrupt change to the feed-in tariffs which caused Mears to close its solar panel installation unit and issue a profits warning last year.

Holt, who has long-standing relationships with companies including BPE and Camberleigh-Hay. Abbey Business Equipment, Cheltenham, has been a partner for 23 years. But just what was it that makes Mears a success? He does not discount luck, and his thoughts on senior staff are well documented – ‘hire good quality people who you can’t afford’, one publication quoted him as saying. For him the reason is simple – attention to detail. That, and a longer term view – even when others around him were questioning why Mears wasn’t chasing the money harder like Rok and Connaught. That the firm’s strategy was questioned seems astonishing in hindsight when you look at the considerable growth of Mears and vindicated when you look at the fate of the two rival firms. Both collapsed last year. He doesn’t take any pleasure from what happened to the two rivals. Mears stepped in and bought contracts from Rok – in particular with Bristol City Council and Merlin Housing Society in South Gloucestershire – saving 100 jobs. “I take my role as a public company director very seriously. I always have done. I get very angry when I see anybody abuse a public company. Why? It affects other public companies which are being run properly.

He probably won’t appreciate the remark, but it was business which saved him from a career as a footballer. Unlike some high profile figures Mr Holt quickly plays down his early ambitions within the game and he won’t indulge I get very angry when I see suggestions of false anybody abuse a public company. modesty.

Perhaps this is a Why? It affects other public hint that the same microscopic attention companies which are being run to detail which has properly. set Mears apart from the competition runs even deeper. He could let it go, have people talk about the player that could have been, but the detail is too important. He remains adamant that despite trials for Preston as a lad he didn’t have what it would take and that’s that. The more we talk the more the picture builds of a man who values passionately those he can trust, who values relationships, and appreciates those who work hard for him. When that happens they will have his loyalty and probably have a lot of fun along the way. Divorced six years ago after what he calls a “successful” marriage his favourite residence now appears to be Burgundy, France, but he has strong ties with Gloucestershire and no plans to sever them in a hurry. All three of his sons have gone to school in Cheltenham and he cannot speak highly enough of the town or the county as a place to bring up a family. His allegiance to the county is demonstrated in the list of those who handle his business and personal tax affairs. “Not many listed companies have the same auditors as when they started out,” said Mr 24 AGENDA June 2012


Connaught was a FTSE 250 company. The effects of a FTSE 250 company going belly-up are far reaching,” said Mr Holt, explaining that as well as thousands losing their jobs investors lose and companies in the same sector get hit too. Value was wiped off Mears as the city got jittery. He makes no bones that he puts the failure of these other firms down to mismanagement, acknowledging early on that “there is not much grey with me”. His early career was helped hugely he says, by the opportunities afforded him working for Michael Ashcroft, the Tory Peer. He was beginning to forge a career as an accountant at the time (although never finished his exams). “Michael Ashcroft always said what he wanted was a failed grammar school boy,” recalls Mr Holt, the logic being that such a person would be bright enough to survive by proving themselves through working hard. Mr Ashcroft’s side of the bargain was that he would reward that hard work with more and more opportunity. There is no sense of regret or even an inkling of any inferiority for not having attended university and it reflects a solid self-belief, no doubt tempered by his achievements in business. But he admits he was also born with an innate self-confidence. “Michael, now Lord Ashcroft, was incredibly inquisitive. In those days I think we had bought about 50-odd companies. And if you don’t learn from that you don’t deserve to do anything. Then I was headhunted by Blue Arrow. I am incredibly proud of being part of the management that grew that business from a small company into a FTSE company. That was four years of experience that was invaluable. I was very lucky. Most of the transactions we made turned out to be the right ones.” Luck or not, he had caught the eye and on return from America, where he had been working, he was made a managing director of division at the relatively tender age of 31. Was that young? I ask him. He supposes it was, but he’s not interested in making a big deal out of it. I imagine a press officer in tow, out to build his profile, having to admonish him for another opportunity for myth-building missed. “First the football, now this! It’s there in a plate,” they

Mears. Runners-up at the Citizen and Echo business awards 2009

would tell him. Which is probably why he doesn’t have such a person in tow. Not that he or Mears are adverse to publicity, but style is second to content. Heaven forbid if they were to find out that Mears charitable foundation has been involved in more than 10,000 community projects to date (there is no official PR for this either). And then there is his own charity, The Footprints Foundation – which raises money through walking challenges. He was, he admits, courted by the makers of the television show The Secret Millionaire, in which wealthy individuals go undercover in communities before showering them with money. It comes out when I mention I had tried to imagine him tearing strips off people on Dragon’s Den. The idea amuses him, but he is clear he has no interest, although reveals Mears has held some in-house versions of the programme to bring business ideas to the fore. He is friends with Dragon panellist Theo Paphitis, and seeing how he can be mobbed as a result of his television fame is quite happy to steer clear, his own life as a PLC boss and self-made man giving rise to its own real-life version of the show where he is continually approached by companies. He’s rarely interested. But every now and again, like with Inspire, he cannot resist. “I usually say I will not get involved. I spend an awful lot of time getting out of things. I usually look, and then say ‘no’. But a very good friend asked me to look at Inspire and when I went and met Janet and Matthew Thornton I was absolutely surprised at the business they have there.” Inspired advises clients on maximising energy efficiency and joined AIM at the end of last year in a £10m listing, underlining his confidence in the market to provide funding for good businesses. It’s not an aversion to the press, I don’t think, probably more to do with something he mentions at the start when I tell him Brian Souter had once told me the world was full of people with qualifications who had no sense of application. “Talk,” said Mr Holt “is cheap. What I want to see is action. That’s what’s important.”

June 2012 AGENDA 25

Talk is cheap. What I want to see is action. That’s what’s important.

26 AGENDA June 2012

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Small business is beautiful


he New County Hotel, Southgate Street, Gloucester, staged a business exhibition featuring more than 60 small county firms and guest speakers from the likes of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Jackie Afflick and Gary Holland of Chemex

David Battrick, of the FSB

Gordon Dwyer, of Gloucestershire City Council and Jonathan Pollinger, of Intranet Future

Event organisers Steve Davis, of Cotswold Computer Medic, and Kelly Bartlett

David Riddell, of Fastsigns

Simon Davies, of Your Name On It, and Neil Hampson, of Tutor Doctor

28 AGENDA June 2012


Tax breaks and patents


ore than 60 delegates attended Hazlewoods’ latest Breakfast Briefing at Hatherley Manor Hotel, in conjunction with Wynne-Jones and Dyson, which focused on tax breaks on profits from patents and other intellectual property.

David Pierce of Hazlewoods and Ron Tyler of Helipebs

Anthony Pilkington of BookCheck and Damian Smith of Hazlewoods

David Bush of Wynne-Jones and Mike Lane of Ultra Dynamics

David Williams, of Hazlewoods

David Funnell of Stewart Golf and Paul Fussell of Hazlewoods

Jason Stratford-Lysandrides of BPE and Richard Emsley of Mesuro

June 2012 AGENDA 29

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Growing pains As a retailer of a stylish blend of urban fashions selling predominantly to the youth market the description of SuperGroup as a business suffering growing pains is perhaps apt. 32 AGENDA June 2012

The Cheltenham firm made no secrets of its plans to open 150 Superdry and Cult Clothing shops in Britain and expand world-wide. “I think there’s room for 1,000 franchises in Europe,” said Mr Dunkerton. “We’re nowhere near the peak.” It was one of the most successful stock market flotations in March, 2010, with an oversubscribed shares offer selling at 500p and valuing the firm at £395 million. The company was famously founded by Julian Dunkerton as Cult Clothing and bolstered later on with the branding skills of James Holder, the founder and designer of the Bench fashion brand. Diane Savory, sighted as one of the key early architects of the business – the organiser to Mr Dunkerton’s entrepreneurial flair - left the board amicably after its flotation. At the time Ms Savory, now chairman of Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, reportedly held just over 1m shares in the retailer, equating to a 1.37pc stake worth more than £15million. And then the unforgiving microscope of the City of London trained its beady eyes on the firm good and proper. The double edged sword of PLC status is well documented. The rewards can be enormous. But then the City also likes its companies to be accountable – publically, which means issues once managed in-house suddenly make national news. SuperGroup, clearly no mean business to begin with, is having to do a fair amount of growing up in public and it is proving a painful experience.

Last month (May), as it announced its fourth quarter trading update, Mr Dunkerton found himself defending the company’s brand and potential going forward. It came just after a third profits warning in a year wiped nearly 40 per cent of its share value away – more than £170m. Predictions of pre-tax profits for the full-year were slashed by £7m after a routine audit discovered a plus sign had been added instead of a minus. City analysts were astonished. According to the Daily Telegraph one described it as a “calamity”, another “shambolic” and another said management credibility was “close to zero”. Shares, which had reached a high of 1,820p last year, fell from 346p to 205.3p. Poorly received trading statements in May and October last year also damaged the company’s standing in the City. “Whilst we don’t believe the brand is dead, we accept that until confidence in forecasts and management’s ability to deliver on reliable expectations materially improves the stock remains uninvestable for many,” said Singer Capital Markets analyst Mark Photiades. Mr Dunkerton said: “Although the fourth quarter has been a disappointing end to a challenging year, the brand remains strong and this, together with the group’s investments in key senior personnel and system infrastructure, provides a solid platform for the coming financial year.”


uch was the excitement just prior to SuperGroup’s flotation the Daily Telegraph asked founder and chief executive Julian Dunkerton if he thought the FTSE100 was a possibility. “I see absolutely no reason why it’s not achievable,” he said.


I think there’s room for 1,000 franchises in Europe. We’re nowhere near the peak. Continues on page 35

June 2012 AGENDA 33

Inspiring and informing Gloucestershire’s B2B community



a fresh approach to business To rece Agend ive your free a e-zin e email to you ed r inbox every month email: louise.b a glosme ker@ k

For opportunities of how you can get involved contact Nicole Archer 01242 278003


Nevertheless SuperGroup was still able to report a 14.1 per cent growth in the fourth quarter, although some pointed out this represented a slowdown from third quarter growth of 25.3 per cent, which the company blamed on the tough retail environment. News agency Reuters pressed Mr Dunkerton harder on the future of the brand to continue to deliver.

“You have to remember we have grown by 675 per cent in four years and we are now building up the structure to assist us going forward.”

You have to remember we have grown by 675 per cent in four years and we are now building up the structure to assist us going forward

Strengthening of the board has been a priority over the last few months. A new chief financial officer was installed the day after the last profit warning hit with Shaun Wills replacing Chas Howes. It is understood Mr Howes had for some time, for personal reasons, wished to have a role less demanding of his time. A new chief operating officer, Susanne Given, also joined the group in March from John Lewis Partnership’s where she was director of fashion and beauty. “I feel very strongly that the team around us will now deliver a solid path for growth,” Mr Dunkerton told Reuters.

The massive SuperGroup warehouse facility in Hurricane Road, Brockworth

“I’m fully confident that the brand is strong and healthy and alive,” he told Reuters.

Following its admission back in Spring 2011 that it had missed a mini heatwave, failing to get clothes to stores in time, it became apparent it was also grappling with distribution issues and shortly afterwards appointed Tim Owrid to reorganise this part of its business. It announced a £1.5m investment in a move into a 250,000sq ft Wincantonowned warehouse in Brockworth, Gloucester to ease its woes. The announcement was accompanied by news that the new site required fewer staff and up to 60 of its 186 staff were at risk of redundancy. One analyst from Numis Securities, Andrew Wade, came to the damning conclusion after the recent profit warning that the brand was past its peak and that the company would experience a “negative trajectory through 2012”.

But others believe there is plenty of investment potential in the company, as long as it manages to convince the City it has sorted out its issues. Tim Green, retail analysis for financial and investment experts Brewin Dolphin, Cheltenham, said: “The group expanded quickly from a small base which it had to do. The question is ‘following the profit warning how is the management going to deal with the expansion going forward?’.

June 2012 AGENDA 35


“Are they going to be more conservative or continue apace? Perhaps a more prudent approach going forward under the circumstances, they need to consider rationalising or reducing their expansion programme and avoid gearing up if possible. “You can’t expand regardless of the market conditions. “They need to get a hold of the accounting issues and have hopefully made a step forward here with a new CFO starting. “The company still has potential but with so much stock tightly held by the management it will remain fairly illiquid and as a result the share price is likely to continue to be volatile.” Professor Barry Davies, from the University of Gloucestershire’s faculty of business, education and professional studies, said: “I think this is a special business because the success of fashion brands seems to go in cycles. Brands can become extremely popular and then subside, but to create one to become popular in the first place is hard. The real trick is to keep it there. “I think currently the firm is really putting its grunt into the organisational side of things. They are really attending to that now,” said professor Davies, who added this was probably what was needed to appease the City after the recent profits warning. “I think that (profit warnings) will cost them a lot of friends in the City, if it hasn’t already.”

Julian Dunkerton Born: London in 1965. School: London and Hereford when his former BBC producer father decamped to the countryside. Started what became SuperGroup in the 1980s aged 19 on a market stall in Cheltenham’s Regent Arcade with £40 a week from the Enterprise Allowance. Added the SuperDry brand to its label in 2004. The brand got a big boost when superstar footballer David Beckham was pictured wearing a Superdry tee-shirt on his 2005 calendar. Mr Dunkerton is no one-hit wonder. Soho Coffee Bar was an early success. Massive Records was Cheltenham-based and won an independent retailer of the year award from a prestigious music magazine. A night club venture proposed by Mr Dunkerton for Cheltenham back in 2004 never saw the light of day after he withdrew the plans following a public campaign against the idea. Recently invested some of his money in property, including a manor house in a Gloucestershire village.

36 AGENDA June 2012

Professor Davies compared SuperGroup’s achievements to another Gloucestershire resident, George Davies, who has had massive success with the Next, George, Per Una labels – as well as Marks and Spencers. “A lot of this is about branding. People like SuperDry. They have an emotional attachment to the label. SuperDry seems to have struck a chord with a core audience.” But while brands, even the most successful, could come crashing down he saw no reason either why SuperDry could not continue to grow and establish itself, like brands such as Gap have done. “When you look at the markets they have still to go into, there is a lot of the world left. They need to stablise and sort out their operating processes. They can’t afford to have any more cock-ups, then they can continue to expand. They are not strong in the US yet, in India or China, for example. Potentially massive markets.” Of course, companies also leave the City and thrive. Mr Dunkerton also found himself dismissing such talk following last month’s trading update. Some analysts are suggested that with 63 per cent of its equity held by management and directors there was a possibility of the firm returning to private hands through a management buyout or sale to private equity. Mr Dunkerton is adamant there are no plans to take the firm back into private hands. “I am determined to make this work in the structure that we exist in,” he said.


Top 100, top people, top do!


ore than 70 business leaders attended a reception for the launch of the 2012 Top 100 Businesses in Gloucestershire supplement, due to be published in The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo on June 26. The event was held at the Cheltenham campus of Gloucestershire College and the supplement is being sponsored by BPE solicitors, Endsleigh Insurance and Hazlewoods accountants who were all represented.

Top 100 Businesses Networking Event

Chris Oldershaw, left, and Greg Smith

Speakers and sponsors

Ian Mean, of Gloucestershire Media, addresses guests

June 2012 AGENDA 37


The tip of the iceberg Well aware some firms are very good at grabbing all the plaudits we turn the spotlight on some of those with a lower profile within the county, but all doing great business out of Gloucestershire, writes Chris Campbell.

Leeways: Tony and Lee Walding

he county’s depth of business talent in an astonishing array of sectors is one of the factors that makes this county such an interesting place to live and work.

Unfortunately we only have room to draw your attention to a handful of firms – the tip of the iceberg. First up is Gloucester-based Leeways Packaging. The family-run business has grown to become one of the leading suppliers of thermoformed plastic packaging solutions in the UK.

Investment has been made into a new warehouse, which holds in excess of 3,500 pallets of computerised stock, allowing the company to grow its off-the-shelf stock lines.

We have come from humble beginnings and have shown that, with our style of management, a strong level of investment and forward planning, we can achieve great things

Leeways is not a company scared of change or growth. It has invested £1.5 million into a new machine line to cope with increased customer demand, which has also helped to launch them into the soft fruit punnet industry. Established in 1971 by Trevor Walding, the business is still 100 per cent family-owned and run by Trevor’s son, Tony 38 AGENDA June 2012

Walding, along with his eldest son Lee.

Strong believers in people, the company has recently employed a new design team to help bring fresh and new ideas to the industry. This investment has paid off with the firm enjoying a low staff turn around, with over 30 per cent of its employees having served between 10 and 43 years. Employing nearly 90 members of staff, the factory operates on a 24 hour shift pattern, five days a week, which increases in busier times to accommodate demand.


Exploration Logistics Group

The business’ current commitment is to achieve 90 per cent recycling, with an aim to increase this to 100 per cent by 2015.


Market leaders in the food packaging industry, Leeways product sectors include bakery, meat and seafood, dairy, confectionery, convenience, produce and more recently the medical packaging industry. “We are proud to be supplying local businesses as well as multinational companies and being 100 per cent British makes us a little different from our competitors,” Trevor Walding said. “We have come from humble beginnings and have shown that, with our style of management, a strong level of investment and forward planning, we can achieve great things.” Not limiting themselves to just plastic packaging, another arm to the business is Leeways Joinery, offering transit packaging solutions and run by Tony’s other son Adam.

Dezac headquarters, Montpellier, Cheltenham

It specialises in the manufacture and supply of high quality, custom-made pallets, cases and crates, made to the exact specification for transit packaging needs. Another Gloucestershire business, proud to be British, is The Dezac Group. The company has established itself as a leading manufacturer of beauty and fitness products worldwide. Products are used and enjoyed in many markets including Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, America, and Australia. Established in 1987, the original business was based around the development of a popular range of domestic air ionisers. Twenty-five years on, it has grown to £20 million and has become an important local employer. Significantly exports now account for over 65 per cent of its sales. Manufacturing is centred on Cinderford with the head office in Cheltenham. Across both locations the company employs over 130 staff.

Managing director Des Mills said: “Employees are key to the business and the company is characterised by the majority of its staff having been with the company for over ten years.” Rio, a key brand in the portfolio, is one of the leading and most exciting innovators of beauty and personal care products. It was the first brand to introduce laser hair removal into the home. Rio is now pioneering the new beauty gadget category, a fusion of beauty and salon technology, to deliver innovative treatments in the home. A drive for efficiency has resulted in an approach that delivers significant environmental benefits to the business. Its award-winning manufacturing facility exhibits state of the art technology; minimising energy usage through recycling waste heat, maximising the benefit of available daylight and reducing energy inputs through automated ventilation.

June 2012 AGENDA 39


Bespoke confectionery packaging – one of Leeways specialities.

Meanwhile, two of the world’s most respected assistance, medical, safety and security solutions providers, Mitcheldean-based Exploration Logistics Group and MEDEX Global Solutions, have merged to form Frontier MEDEX Group. Together they now deliver a fully integrated, worldwide assistance, medical, safety and security service, ranging from remote medical clinics, insurance and travel intelligence to medical and political evacuation. Global chief executive officer, Tim Mitchell, made clear the potential of the new company, when it formed last year. The world has already witnessed our rapid response capabilities in both Tripoli and Cairo, where we were first on the ground to evacuate more than 600 civilians from unexpected injury, unrest and rioting,” he said. “At a time when we face growing environmental and political instability, Frontier MEDEX is uniquely positioned

to help individuals and organisations achieve their global ambitions and fulfil their duty of care in a world of increasing uncertainty.” Its award-winning manufacturing facility exhibits state of the art technology; minimising energy usage through recycling waste heat, maximising the benefit of available daylight and reducing energy inputs through automated ventilation. To supply international markets, Mr Mills said quality systems were essential for the successful management of the business. An early adopter of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 13485 has enabled the company to attract business around the world. “With exports driving sales we are excited about our growth prospects and our on-going contribution to the local economy,” he added.

Name: Edward Gilder & Sons

components for the pharmaceutical industry.

Location(s): Bourton-on-the-Water & Europe

County staff: circa 40

Outline of business: Family-run transport company

Estimated turnover: circa £8m

County staff: circa 65 Estimated turnover: circa £7m

Name: Leeways Packaging Services Location(s): Gloucester

Location(s): Mitcheldean & worldwide

Outline of business: Manufacturers of thermorformed plastic packaging

Outline of business: Medical, safety and security solutions provider

Estimated turnover: circa £9m

Name: Frontier MEDEX Group

County staff: circa 90

County staff: circa 115 Estimated turnover: Exploration Logistics Group - circa £33m

Name: The Dezac Group

Name:Independent Tool Consultants (Intoco) Location(s): Staverton

Outline of business: Manufacturers of health, beauty and fitness products worldwide

Outline of business: Offers advanced manufacturing facility for sub-contract service. Includes press components and

Estimated turnover: circa £20m

40 AGENDA June 2012

Location(s): Headquarters in Cheltenham, production facility in the Forest of Dean.

County staff: circa 130

Cram is source of inspiration



he county’s business leaders were given a fascinating insight into the build-up to the Olympics when former champion athlete Steve Cram spoke at Cheltenham racecourse. Steve, a former Olympic medalist and 1,500m, 2,000m and mile world record holder, joined around 100 business people at a fundraising lunch. He attended as an ambassador of Clydesdale Bank, who organised the event with Rickerbys LLP solicitors and accountants and business advisors Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP.

L to R; Mike Hall, Crowe Clark and Whitehill, Steve Cram, Roger Bell, Clydesdale Bank, Anne Compton, Rickerbys

Patrick Downes, of Bruton Knowles, and Chris Ferguson from Gloucester Rugby

Roger Bell, managing partner of Clydesdale Bank, and Chris Healy from Balcarras School

Keith Rog, of Gloucestershire First chats to Martin Regan, of Crowe Clark and Whitehill

Guests watch the novelty mascots race

Richard Levinge, of Rickerbys, commentates on the novelty mascots race

June 2012 AGENDA 41


New bill clears the way Perhaps the most significant piece of real estate for Gloucestershire currently is not even in the county – it’s a piece of windswept land sitting on the tip of Hinkley Point in Somerset, writes Andrew Merrell.


his is the piece of land allocated and much trumpeted as the site for the first of the next generation of nuclear power stations, and a focus of attention for fledgling Gloucester-based nuclear energy firm Horizon – a team of nuclear energy experts assembled at Barnwood.

EDF employs 1,329, also in Barnwood, at its engineering headquarters and plans to build four more UK nuclear plants. “The (Horizon) workforce is being retained in Gloucester but inevitably if it dragged on over a long period some of the specialist skills would drift away,” said Mr Hendry, insisting he was confident new businesses would come forward.

Together with Oldbury it has become the regional and national focus for the rebirth of nuclear and despite remedial work taking place in preparation for a project In an effort to speed up the process – some would say which was championed as the would-be creator of save its nuclear energy policy thousands of jobs and an economic the Government, mid last month, catalyst of vast proportion for the The workforce is being published its draft Energy Bill. South West, a shadow has been cast over the project. retained in Gloucester but EDF Energy was particularly positive following the announcement. Energy giants RWE and E.ON inevitably if it dragged on pulled out of the UK’s energy over a long period some of EDF Energy chief executive Vincent plans unexpectedly in April, and de Rivaz said: “We are on track to as the owners of Gloucestershirethe specialist skills would deliver what is needed for the UK. based Horizon it left the 120 Today’s announcement maintains drift away staff in Barnwood wondering the momentum on electricity market what it all meant for their futures. reform. Our job is to keep focused on the delivery of our The company aimed to develop new nuclear projects at new nuclear plans at Hinkley Point. Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire.

Energy Minister Chalres Hendry insisted the decision by the two German power giants might be a blow but not an end to the nuclear programme and EDF, which is driving the Hinkley site forward, was still on track to proceed with its plans. Indeed, it might even step in to save the day. 42 AGENDA June 2012

“I am confident that new nuclear in the UK should and will go ahead. 2012 is defining year for new nuclear – and there is a need to maintain the current momentum. A huge amount remains to be done – but we are determined to do it. We are absolutely focussed on having a viable business case at the end of the year.”

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Planning to get ahead


ore than 120 guests attended the National Planning Policy Framework seminar at Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham, organised by the county’s Local enterprise Partnership (GFirst) in conjuction with Gloucestershirebased Hunter Page Planning.

David Pierce of Hazlewoods and Ron Tyler of Helipebs

Robin Butler, Martin Horwood MP, Christopher Young, Paul Fong and Claire Edwards

Steve Roberts, Kevin Haynes and Ian Green

Robert Dalton Morris, Tim Watton and Robert Duncan

Richard Brodgen, Derek Woodward and Jamie Lewis

Nikki Tillett and Stephanie Ainsworth

June 2012 AGENDA 45


Expansion plans for ambitious IFA Attivo Group, the Cheltenham based financial services firm, has allocated a further ÂŁ1 million towards its buy and build strategy for IFA businesses in the UK. 46 AGENDA June 2012


This latest deal boosted the growing group’s assets under management, administration and advice to £300 million and it aims to reach more than £500 million by 2015. Its acquisitions to date have brought more than 1,000 new clients to the books of the business, which also has offices in London, Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol. Stephen Harper (pictured), chief executive of Attivo Group has set his sights on takeover opportunities for 2012 in the run up to the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). Mr Harper said: “Our acquisition strategy focuses on a strong client-led approach with an emphasis on developing personal relationships through regular contact and communications. We are committed to meeting each newly acquired client personally and provide a fresh-eyed review of every single investment and pension fund.” Mr Harper, who is quick to point out the strength of the company’s board and that the business is “not highly geared”, is of the mind that the financial crisis has created a gap in the market for advisors who remember that the money they are handling is their clients’ first and foremost. “Operating a transparent and favourable charging structure, together with seamless continuity of advice and specialist expertise, we are achieving high conversion rates of newly acquired clients. Major investment in technology has also proved a winning formula, providing clients with online access to their portfolios 24/7 through our client web portal”, added the 47-year-old entrepreneur and former Royal Navy engineer, who previously worked for a number of large financial institutions. “I have a very clear way I think financial services should be run. They need to be transparent and

they need to remember that it is the client’s money. I think some of the large orgnisations have forgotten they are just custodians, trustees of the client’s money,” said Mr Harper, also a father-of-two. “My thinking is, if you are going to do something, do it well. If you don’t do it right the first time you have to do it again and that will cost – possibly more than double, and importantly you will have an unhappy client at the end of it too.” Why the growth? The company now employs 45 at its Cheltenham head office and is not standing still. “I think there comes a point with a business when you either have to grow, or die, as dramatic as that sounds. I didn’t set up the business to go looking for global domination, but there is a real opportunity in the market place. “There are a number of factors contributing market conditions, the RDR and technology. There is so much information out there. “In the past advice has been dispensed by one and two-man bands. But the world is more complicated now. I think in the current market there is no place for one and two man bands any more. Small is no longer beautiful.” The Attivo Group includes Attivo Financial, Attivo Property and Fountain Independent, in addition to MYSIPP, its own SIPP scheme which has received a Defaqto five star rating for the last four years. Businesses acquired in 2011 included IFAs in Welwyn Garden City, Chipping Norton, Cheltenham and in 2010 an IFA firm from Evesham.

I think there comes a point with business when you have to grow, or die, as dramatic as that sounds.


he group recently notched up its sixth acquisition, following a deal with a Cheltenham based IFA for its £10 million plus client portfolio through its wholly owned subsidiary Fountain Independent Limited.

June 2012 AGENDA 47

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Where are they now? Former Cheltenham Town manager Chris Robinson is now working for London Mayor Boris Johnson to help children out of poverty.


he man who brought Steve Cotterill back to Whaddon Road and also signed the likes of Jamie Victory and Mark Freeman is now chief executive of the Mayor’s Fund for London.

The Fund was established with the aim of giving disadvantaged children, young people and their families a better chance in life and Robinson has helped raise £7million from the private sector in the last two years. After losing his job as Robins boss in January 1997, Robinson was appointed manager of Evesham United, but it was a job he wishes he had never taken.

involved in full-time football every day. He was offered a chance to do some consultancy work, which he had done prior to becoming a full-time football manager. He relocated to Haslemere in Surrey, where he has remained, and ran four charities as chief executive.

I was promised by the board that the budget would not be cut, but it was and it was a real struggle after that.

“It was a huge mistake to be honest, but nothing else was coming up and I was desperate to get back into management,” Robinson said.

“I jumped too early and two others soon came up that would have been better for me. “I started in the August and was promised by the board that the budget would not be cut, but it was cut in October and it was a real struggle after that.” Robinson’s unhappy spell at Evesham left him needing a break from management, but he still says he misses being

He set up a homeless charity, having experienced it himself during a difficult childhood. “Three years later it was the largest training programme for homeless people in Europe,” he explained. Robinson’s next project was running a children’s hospice, which he did for five years.

CHASE supports local families with a child or teenager not expected to reach their 19th birthday. Robinson had not been involved in football since leaving Evesham, but one of his sons was signed by Portsmouth’s youth development programme and Robinson took a parttime role at the club. Away from football, Robinson became UK director of Right to Play, the largest sport development charity in the world, working with half a million youngsters a week in 30 different countries.

June 2012 AGENDA 49


Appointments International role HSBC has appointed Steven Breckon as international commercial manager for the Gloucestershire area. Mr Breckon previously worked at Exeter with the bank and the appointment is part of HSBC’s drive to increase its number of international commercial managers to 200. He is responsible for supporting businesses with a turnover of between £2 million and £30 million that already trade overseas or aspire to do business internationally. He will report into HSBC’s Gloucestershire area commercial director Andrew Willett.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL Cheltenham law firm Willans LLP has expanded its wills, probate and trusts team with the appointment of solicitor Ruth Baker.

Hatherley Lane, Gloucester, GL2 9QA, from 7.45am to 9.30pm. Cost is £12.50-plus VAT. To find out more contact 01275 370849

President of ICOMIA Peter Methven, founder of Cheltenham-based export consultancy Latitude 52, has been elected president of The International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) - the global organisation which represents the interests of members of the recreational boating industry throughout the world. The former president of the British Marine Federation’s (BMF) Mr Methven, OBE, has more than 45 years’ of experience in the marine industry. The appointment was made during the recent 2012 ICOMIA/IFBSO Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ms Baker specialises in all aspects of lifetime estate planning, such as wills, inheritance tax and the setting up of trusts. She also advises on all the issues affecting elderly clients and their families, such as court of protection matters and powers of attorney.


She is a member of STEP (the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners) – a qualification denoting the most experienced and senior practitioners in the field of trusts and estates. She has worked as a solicitor since 2007 with Harrison Clark in Worcester and Cheltenham.

Chris Allen-Jones, the former head of family at the Black Country firm George Green & Co, has re-joined Harrison Clark as a partner in the family law department having many years ago completed his training under the stewardship of partners Jonathan Brew and Andrew Caldicott.


Mr Allen-Jones is said to bring with him a wealth of experience gained from working in another leading regional practice, as well as a Birmingham City firm of lawyers with a national presence, and maintains many connections with the City of London.

Cheltenham’s AA Five Star hotel and spa, Ellenborough Park, has appointed former University of Gloucestershire graduate Nick Walley as operations manager. Mr Walley joins the senior management team, reporting directly to the general manager where he is responsible for all day to day operations and standards, with a particular focus on food and beverage, including The Brasserie, fine dining in The Beaufort Dining Room, conferences, banqueting and room service. He joins from The Vineyard at Stockcross, a five star hotel and spa in Berkshire. With more than 10 years experience, Mr Walley has worked for some of Britain’s finest hotel names, including The Ritz. Due to take place at Hatherley Manor Hotel, Down

a quarter of UK workers now text rather than phone their boss when taking sick leave 50 AGENDA June 2012

A former trainee of leading regional solicitors Harrison Clark has returned to the legal firm as its sixth partner in its Family Law Department.

JOINING THE BOARD SuperGroup beefed up its board recently with two new members. The listed-retailer hired Susanne Given, formerly director of fashion and beauty at the John Lewis Partnership, as Super-Group’s chief operating officer and Shaun Wills as its finance director. Mr Wills was most recently at the homewares retailer Habitat, which was bought out of administration by Home Retail Group last year (see page 32).


of Britons dream of making a new career out of their hobby


Mad about cars

Parking a tantalising taster for Gloucestershire Motor Show in front of your eyes is a great way to start our monthly motoring page, as we hope you will agree.


he charity-supporting motorshow staged at Highnam Court says something about the passion for motor cars within the county, and for business to dedicate some of its energies raising money for good causes.

Yet again this year will see an amazing array of vintage and classic vehicles, and trade stands from Blade, Baylis, Warners, Cotswold, Parkland, Volvo, Bristol Street, John Wilkins Cars, Mini and BMW.

on the forecast - but rest assured Mr Peterson will be bringing what he affectionately calls a ‘blower’ to the show on June 9 and 10. “That’s basically a term for a supercharged Bentley,” he explained.

The value of a Bentley like this has actually gone up through the recession.

The show also says something very important about Gloucestershire, according to organiser Richard Levinge, of sponsors and founding fathers Rickerbys Solicitors – partnership in

Star attraction in previous years has been the incredible Meteor aeroplane-engined Bentley (pictured) which still managed to shine last year despite the terrible weather which hit the event.


Brought to Gloucestershire by Bob Peterson, who runs Devonbased Petersen Engineering (www., it is not certain whether this particular car will appear again this year – it depends

“Despite the weather last year it raised £24,000,” said Mr Levinge. “The year before raised £30,000, but we have had a lot of interest this year and our target has to be something like £40,000 or £50,000.”

“I think what it says is that the business community in Gloucestershire is strong,” said Mr Levinge.


A car with a sense of occasion Bentley’s flagship, the Mulsanne, is a car in which old-style opulence meets the modern world in a design which at last prioritises the driver involvement that the brand’s pre-war models were once famed for. That characteristic deep muffled V8 burble very different from the W12 unit that lesser Bentleys borrow from a Volkswagen Phaeton. A car of this kind is defined not by bhp but by the pulling power it can offer. It is one of the very few cars anywhere in the world to offer four figures of torque, 1020Nm to be precise, that’s 50 per cent more than any other Bentley can manage. You’ll flash by the 60mph mark in just 5.4 secs and reach 100mph in another six. Top speed is 184mph. Enthusiasts won’t be disappointed.

June 2012 AGENDA 51


Keeping time


n what is our first edition and in this Jubilee month we felt we wanted to pick out something quintessentially English to mark this special time with. We found what we were looking for in J & T Windmills Watches, available to two outlets in Gloucestershire - Fredk Allen in Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, and Truscott Jewellers, College Court, Gloucester. Made only from gold or silver, the watches set themselves apart from the current trend for bullet-proof chunky action watches made by the likes of another British watchmaking success, Graham.

Their style and tone suggests another era, a refined look, perhaps even an arristocratic bearing. And so it should. Careful to preserve its heritage the firm proudly keeps a name which dates back to Joseph and Thomas Windmills, father and son, key players in a small group of pre-eminent watchmakers in London from 1671 to 1737. Joseph was considered one of the finest clockmakers in late seventeenth century London, and produced a prolific number of lantern clocks of all sizes and qualities. His earliest known watch was created before 1680 and is displayed in the British Museum.

ABOVE Gentlemen’s sterling silver skeleton pocket watch featuring a two-toned antique. £795. RIGHT Men’s sterling silver mechanical watch featuring a domed white dial and black. £595.

52 AGENDA June 2012


Gentlemen’s sterling silver mechanical watch featuring an antique white dial. £595.

Gentlemen’s gold plated mechanical watch featuring an antique white dial. £795

Ladies sterling silver mechanical watch featuring an original Windmills lantern. £595.

RIGHT Ladies sterling silver mechanical watch featuring a domed silver dial and black. £595. June 2012 AGENDA 53


Hidden gem with exotic twist The Tiger’s Eye in Gloucester has that something special that appeals.


ts novelty is its hot rock dishes – specially-made plates whose centrepiece is smooth piece of volcanic rock heated to a sizzling 440 degrees. It is your own mini barbecue for the evening on which to prepare your steak, fish, shellfish or vegetables. I had popped in at 1pm to book my table and was advised to get in just before 8pm as a party of 16 was arriving and if we placed our order before them we wouldn’t be left waiting. The self-same lady greeted us at 7.50pm and, just as freshly and cheerfully, showed us to our table. We ordered a bottle of medium white wine and my partner opened with Vietnamese summer rolls (£5.50), fresh rice paper rolls filled with glass noodles, tiger prawns and Asian herbs, served with sweet chilli sauce. I tried to sushi, fresh salmon and avocados (£4.95), a simple dish and thoroughly enjoyable. By now the restaurant was filling up and the party of 16 was struggling to remember all of its orders. There were other options on the menu – steamed cod with

wild mushroom and glass noodles (£14.50), slow-cooked belly of pork with pork and ginger dumplings and pak choi fried rice (£13.95), or pan-fried duck breast sat upon wokfried noodle and vegetable stir-fry (£15.50). But I couldn’t visit and not try the hot rock. Sorely tempted by the rib eye steak, I opted instead for a mixed platter of sliced meat or fish – small tuna steaks and half a dozen king-sized prawns (£12.95). A small helping of chips – proper ones perfectly cooked – and a side salad accompanied. I had numerous dips, but the prawns were so tasty they didn’t need anything. It was great fun tackling the cooking and helps make dining here a definite talking point. But it’s not like the Tiger’s Eye is a gimmick restaurant. It can delight you also with food you don’t have to cook yourself. Head chef, Rob Sinyard is the man behind the Pan-Asian concept and my partner’s lemon and sesame-coated chicken served on a bed of spring greens and ramen noodles – finished with a flavoursome chicken stock – was really very good (£10.95). It is a curious place, unpretentious, atmospheric, hidden in the back of the upstairs pub that is the Old Bell on Southgate Street – also worth a visit if you like something different. Tiger’s Eye fits somewhere out there difficult to pin down but worth seeking out. It’s something really enjoyable with good, fun food. We were served on the night by a team of two incredibly hardworking, energetic waiting staff who managed to create a sense of occasion to our meal, just as if we were special guests. We shared a delightful banoffee pie for dessert and finished our wine in peace as the table of 16 swapped tips on hot-rock frying. Andrew Merrell

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Bottling it up Last year was special for Five Valley’s Cordial. The fledgling business barely out of the kitchen – literally - of owners Chris and Becky Baker, landed itself a contract with Waitrose.


nd at the same time, although perhaps a little more expected, they also had their first child – a son. “They both arrived at Christmas last year. I wouldn’t recommend it,” jokes Mr Baker, 45, thinking back on the twin challenges. It made for a busy time for the Stroud-based company which has also won a number of awards including Taste Of The West Awards 2010 and Great Taste Awards 2010 and 2011. The Bakers both worked at Bottle Green as it grew from a small concern into a business aiming for a £20m turnover by the end of 2013. Five Valleysexpects to manage 30 to 40 per cent this year – mainly a result of Waitrose Mr Baker, who studied biology and chemistry and began his working life at Three Choirs Vineyard near Newent, has worked with Tesco, Sainsburys and M&S designing their own label ranges (Finest,Taste The Difference) both cordials and ready to drink and Duchy Original cordials and refreshers. Much of the work was carried out under the name of Bottle

Green but his skills are now sought after on a consultancy level. More recently he has worked with Cherrygood, Happy Monkey, Mune, Frobishers Juices and start up projects including PWR performance juices, a range of sports juice blends aimed at professional sports people and currently drunk by the Exeter Chiefs, and the Welsh national rugby team. A big Gloucester Rugby Club fan, Mr Baker hopes some of PWR’s magic could fuel the Cherry and White’s next season. Exeter’s strength and conditioning coach, Paddy Anson, is on his way to Gloucester and rumoured to have the drink on board. “Becky’s skills are much more the back room stuff – the business processes and organising the business. The stuff that I’m no good at,” explaining how their individual skills compliment one another and give them clearly defined roles within the operation. Stroud Famer’s Market has, he said, been invaluable to the business’s aim to produce what people want and to create a love of the brand driven by a love of the product first. June 2012 AGENDA 57


What are you wearing? Title: Managing director of Utility Customer Service Management Ltd, Gloucester, and president of Gloucester Chamber of Trade (third term). Age: 53. What are you wearing?: The suit is M&S (bought just for presidential duties), shirt is Jasper Conran (very nice to wear) and the shoes were a Christmas present (don’t ask who from). I have to admit I much prefer jeans and teeshirt, but needs must at times. One thing people may not know about me: I used to

58 AGENDA June 2012

be a mortuary attendant, interesting job but not much conversation! Why is appearance important in business? What you wear often has an impact on how people view what you say and it is true that you only have one chance to make a first impression - but I still like wearing tee shirts. It is always interesting to wear something out of the ordinary now and then. People will always comment and wonder what is going on if you dress differently. Business mantra: Look after the customers and the business will look after itself.

Promote your business to a captive audience of over 300,000 people annually Advertising and sponsorship packages tailored to suit your individual needs For more information or to arrange a meeting contact Geoffrey Rowe on 01242 699572 or email

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Randall and Payne helped us step back from our business and see the bigger picture. They implemented real time accounting data, allowing us to make decisions quickly, which helped us to raise finance and plan ahead. Call us today or scan the tags below for a free meeting to see how Randall & Payne’s advice can add value to your business.

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Randall & Payne is a brand name of Randall & Payne LLP. Registered in England & Wales number: OC345710. Rodborough Court, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 3LR. Unless otherwise indicated we use the word partner to refer to a member of the LLP. Registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. A member of the ICAEW Practice Assurance Scheme.

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