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BIO2020 A HOPIN SUCCESS 3 days and 100+ speakers online, you must be joking! Page 14

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASTON & JAMES

Has Business & IT Changed Forever?

Celebrating 30 years!

CIS on home to office transitions

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR A BETTER WORLD

Alice Scmidt of AS Consulting tells B4 why change is possible, and how we have the insight and resilience to make it happen. Page 52

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B4 GOES DIGITAL As we enter a world where restrictions on physical events remain in place, B4 is, for now, focusing on delivering great content for our members through digital means‌ live webinars, podcasts, website articles and making full use of our social media platforms. To find out more about how B4 is evolving as a fully digital platform, subscribe to the B4 e-Newsletter at www.b4-business.com We hope, one day, to be able to return to Oxfordshire’s wonderful venues so we can meet you all once again, but until then we will be doing our very best to connect you with the business community in various ways on line.

B4 IS OPEN TO YOU B4 is a business community where everyone can have their say. B4 is now open for individual as well as company memberships. See www.b4-business.com for more details, or e-mail memberships@b4-business.com

SUPPORTING THE OPINIONS OF THE OXFORDSHIRE BUSINESS COMMUNITY For more see www.oxvoice.co.uk


THE TEAM

WELCOME TO ISSUE

62

Richard Rosser Chief Executive & Editor

Welcome to Issue 62 or Issue 1 of B4 Digital Magazine! There’s a lot of obvious things that we could all say about the last three months, the lessons learned, changing working practices, getting to know our colleagues, customers and associates better remotely than we did in person….the main thing is that we’re all focused on a positive future having experienced the biggest reboot any of us will ever go through. Whatever you’ve encountered personally or professionally over the last three months, on behalf of all of us at B4, I hope you’re in the best shape possible to tackle whatever the future has in store. The scars of COVID-19 will never heal for many having lost loved ones and close friends, businesses and jobs. But there will be other ‘casualties’ that we’ve not even considered. For example the annual meet up with business acquaintances at conferences that might never happen again because we’ve all adapted to working remotely and / or because business travel won’t always be necessary; the jovial supplier who used to pop in every week and who has now had to close their doors forever; the places we used to visit on business trips and our favourite restaurants in other towns and cities; even being able to put a smile on your children’s faces when you bring back a gift from a business trip; the workplace camaraderie that will never be replicated on line, celebrating team birthdays or bidding a work colleague a fond farewell at a leaving do…. none of it will ever be the same. You might even miss the dodgy coffee from the vending machine. But although nobody was prepared for the dark cloud that consumed all of us, we have learned some great lessons about ourselves which will give us the confidence to tackle whatever lies ahead with purpose and the knowledge that if we can get through lockdown, we can get through anything. We’re certainly a lot more resilient than we ever gave ourselves credit for, we’re definitely more collaborative than ever and we can adapt to new circumstances pretty damn quickly. Two cases come to mind on that last point….. Jarl Severn and Cllr Ian Hudspeth, who head up Owen Mumford and Oxfordshire County Council respectively, both said during B4 webinars that if they’d been given ten years to prepare for COVID-19 that it would have taken ‘many months, if not years’ to prepare for what ultimately took days to execute. So as we all start to return to work in some way shape or form, we must draw from the positives of lockdown and take this opportunity to build what will be for many, very different lives. Collaboration, support, togetherness, understanding, encouragement, sincerity, trust, honesty, celebration and appreciation have become clearly visible traits of the human race over the past three months and these must all become habits. You, me, your colleagues, your customers, your suppliers, your friends, your families……we must all strive to be better versions of ourselves, better for each other, better for ourselves and better for everyone we come into contact with. Now’s the time to analyse yourself and honestly answer the question ‘What can I do better for me and for everyone else and what do I stop doing that is no longer acceptable?’ Let’s all be better for the sake of everyone else. We hope you like this, our first digital version of B4 Magazine and we look forward to sharing with you, in the coming months, how B4 will be changing to provide you with even more great opportunities for you and your business.

Colin Rosser Chairman

Keith Simpson Senior Designer

Lorna Waterfield Production Manager

Rob Scotcher Design & Photography

Ed Rosser NX

Enjoy B4 62

Richard Rosser Editor Sue Rosser Credit Control

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Contents 22

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News from the B4 Community

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legal 22 Wills During The Coronavirus Pandemic Freeths Solicitors talk about the unprecedented surge in people taking steps to make a will or update their existing will. 30 Director’s Duties and Coronavirus Freeths Solicitors update directors on what they’re responsibilities are during the Pandemic.

events

48 Getting Through the Tough Times Staying positive during the COVID-19 pandemic and learning new lessons.

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39 Family Wealth Practice Expands Meet the new members of Freeths Solicitors Team.

14 BIO2020 LIVE A Hopin Success!

47 Real Estate Team Expands Freeths Solicitors bolsters its Real Estate Team.

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technology 26 No Sense In Caring Keeping vital senses alive when caring for customers and employees.

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csr 18 Oxfordshire Businesses Shine Collaborents’ Grant Hayward on the positives to come from COVID-19. 52 50 Opportunities For A Better World Alice Schmidt of AS Consulting talks about the possibility of chnage and making it happen. 70 Support For Hadway And Special Effect Getting behind two very special causes.

spotlight 24 Happy Anniversary, Aston & James! 30th Birthday celebrations for the Aston & James Team. 42 Heading To The USA Fitch Brew Co. expand into the US market.

56 Has Business & IT Changed For ever? The enforced lockdown has placed a new demand on IT systems and technology like never before.

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B4 advice

sales & marketing

58 Oxfordshire Businesses Show Flexibility & Adaptability Rod Macrae has been hearing about the way businesses have responded to the challenge of COVID-19.

29 Learn to Sell by Watching Movies Learning whilst your having fun. 33 Now’s the Time to Sell Online Making the switch to online, could open new doors for your company.

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manufacturing

60 Stronger Together Ensuring that a limited management and leadership team is optimised to engage with and support a growing workforce.

36 Achievements in Innovation, Safety & Sustainability Despite the current crisis, it’s been a busy start to the year for Owen Mumford.

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33 35 Give Content a Leading Role Content is king, whether we like it or not. No, that’s not just another marketing cliche!

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45 Have You Really Had Sales Training? Facing up to the new challenges such as the rise of Big Data, a new breed of better-in formed buyers, dynamic cloud-based CRM and pipeline management 62 New Marketing Recovery Package Get out ahead of the competition as doors re-open. And everyone looks to navigate this new way of working.

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63 “Well, I’m Back.” Getting the property market moving again.

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41 Ramp Up Your Office Signage Boost moral, grab attention and demonstrate a passion and professionalim.

64 Virtual Solutions Learning to adapt to new ways of working

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66 Bee-ing Even Greener Our most recent initiative – championing bumblebees.

services 50 How to Protect Staff & Customers Sticking to the guidelines and helping us return to our daily working lives safely. 71 An Uncomplicated Approach to Catering Well versed in producing high quality food with exemplary service to match.

finance 32 Proficio Solutions Take control of your financial future. 69 Our Business Continuity Plan Navigating uncertain times.


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B4 COMMUNITY NEWS of wide streets and splendid Gothic houses. The University Parks, Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum are all close by.

Consultant solicitor, Amanda Stopps joins Boardman Hawkins & Osborne LLP Boardman Hawkins & Osborne LLP are pleased to announce the arrival of a new consultant solicitor, Amanda Stopps. She has joined the Abingdon based firm to strengthen its private family law team, and specialises in matrimonial and children matters. Amanda joins the firm from a firm in Banbury. Like the firm’s other lawyers, she is a member of Resolution, and she prides herself on making clients feel at ease, and giving clear advice as well as acting in a constructive, non-inflammatory way.

LMH is available for meetings, conferences, and functions. Our Simpkins Lee theatre can host up to 150 guests with the Monson Room, located next door, providing the perfect space for refreshment breaks and lunch. We can provide dining for up to 250 people in our beautiful wood-panelled dining hall. Outside term time we can host residential conferences for up to 180 guests. Due to the current situation, we cannot show you around LMH in person. However, please take a virtual tour of our event spaces. Please contact us today on conference@lmh.ox.ac.uk to discuss your event requirements.. www.lmh.ox.ac.uk

Amanda’s arrival is well timed. BH&O, having set up just under two years ago, had invested in technology and systems that allow all staff to work remotely, which of course is coming into its own during the current Covid-19 crisis. As a result, the firm is well placed to cope with its current clients, and also new clients, even during these difficult challenging times..

Lady Margaret Hall was founded in 1878 and was the first college to admit female students to the University of Oxford. The College is located in tranquil North Oxford, a leafy suburb

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As my time was taken up travelling with clients, Hannah came onboard in 2018 to take on the running of the wedding side of the business and also a large proportion of the office work. To provide more peace of mind to our clients that we are qualified, I applied for the Guild of Professional Chauffeurs. In October 2019, after extensive testing, I became a member. Having been based in North Wiltshire, we decided to relocate to West Oxfordshire to base ourselves in a more central location whilst still being close enough to our existing clients. In December 2019, we moved to Leafield near Witney. We are thrilled to be a preferred supplier at many venues and hotels in the area and also to have received 150+ glowing reviews from our clients, many of which are on Google. Providing the highest quality chauffeur service is a passion for us, putting our client’s needs at the heart of our business.

www.bholegal.co.uk

Take a virtual tour of Lady Margaret Hall Oxford

service for all journeys, events and occasions. Travel can be a stressful time. That’s why we guarantee reliability and that we drive in a safe, legal way which ensures our clients can be comfortable. Originally, DB Wedding Cars was started in 2016, using our silver Jaguar XFS and light blue Jaguar S Type. As I was working for a global corporate company, this was done in my spare time. Travel was a large part of my work; I had experienced first hand the pain points of business travel. This was why we created DB Executive Travel to create a positive travel experience out of the negatives I had experienced. In 2017, we launched our luxury chauffeur service.

Providing the highest quality chauffeur service for all types of journeys, events and occasions

www.dbexecutivetravel.net

DB Executive Travel & Wedding Cars is a family business, run by myself, David Barnes, and my daughter Hannah. We provide the highest quality chauffeur

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Abingdon & Witney College, Engineering and Manufacturing Apprenticeship Provider of the Year Abingdon & Witney College took home the Engineering and Manufacturing Apprenticeship Provider of the Year awards at the 2020 Annual Apprenticeship Conference (AAC) Apprenticeship Awards back in March. The AAC Awards recognise outstanding apprenticeship delivery and provision across the sector nationwide, and are run by FE Week and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. More than 350 entries were submitted by both public and private providers, employers and colleges for the 2020 edition of the AAC Awards, with 44 organisations and individuals making the cut in 22 categories. Di Batchelor, Principal and CEO at Abingdon & Witney College, said: “I am very proud that the College’s outstanding apprenticeship team has been recognised by such a prestigious award. We look forward to continuing to provide an exceptional apprenticeship provision in all areas. Congratulations to all involved; our apprentices, tutors and assessors, employers and apprenticeship team - it’s certainly well deserved’. www.abingdon-witney.ac.uk

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Carter Jonas - Vale of the White Horse District Council ‘Call for Sites’ Steven Sensecall, Partner, Planning & Development, Carter Jonas Oxford said: “Vale of White Horse District Council is now working on a new Local Plan, having launched an initial ‘call for sites’ exercise. However, as many are focusing their efforts elsewhere in this uncertain time, there is concern that some locations with potential for development could be missed. “The purpose of the ‘call for sites’ process, is to identify potential sites that can be technically assessed for their suitability, availability and achievability for housing and commercial development. This first step invites landowners, developers and community groups, interested in having land considered for a range of different uses, to submit specific information on their sites for assessment. “Vale of White Horse District Council is looking for land that meets the following criteria: • Located in the Vale of White Horse District Council’s administrative boundary • Able to accommodate five or more dwellings if proposed for residential use

• Able to accommodate 500sqm or more if proposed for economic development (i.e. commercial) use “Vale of White Horse District Council adopted its Local Plan 2031 Part 1 in December 2016 and its Local Plan Part 2 in October 2019. Due to the requirement for local planning authorities to review (and if necessary, update) their local plans at least every five-years, Vale of White Horse District Council is now working on a new Local Plan 2041. The information will be used to help planning officers understand which sites across the district may be available for development. “As it stands, the deadline for submissions is Friday 29 May 2020. However, current disruptions could mean that the process is accidentally overlooked by some. With just over four weeks to go until the deadline closes, those who believe they may have an appropriate site are advised to speak to a relevant expert to discuss site suitability and the specific requirements.” www.carterjonas.co.uk

New Team At Marriotts Long established Oxford commercial property surveyors, Marriotts have a new, if slightly wrinkled, team. Owner Neil Evans, who has practised in Oxford for 32 years, has been joined by commercial agency specialist Bruce Raybould who has 33 years of experience behind him and consultant Mark Baker who has been in the industry for over 50 years. Office Manager Sue Fenn attempts to keep order. www.marriottsoxford.co.uk

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Responsibility and Accountability are a powerful combination Accountability is the acknowledgment, acceptance and assumption of responsibility for agreed actions, decisions, and implementation, whilst being answerable for the resulting outcomes. Mike Foster, The Entrepreneurs Mentor, has recently launched his Entrepreneurs Accountability Group to support business owners looking to develop their business. The group includes accountability, online education and networking plus much more. Mike said “I know business owners are already prepared to take responsibility for their own actions, but research

indicates that you are more likely to achieve your goals and objectives, if you share them and have an accountability appointment with someone to report your progress. “Not everyone is ready for 1:2:1 or group mentoring, but many know they want something different to progress their business in the next 12 months. From my work with clients, it is proven that being held accountable by a third party greatly increases the motivation to deliver for yourself.” You can find out more about the Entrepreneurs Accountability Group at https://entrepreneursmentor.co.uk/ the-entrepreneurs-accountabilitygroup/

Sales of “Drip+Drop” Alcohol Sanitiser exceed all expectations The British Honey Company plc, the producer of premium British Honeyinfused spirits and alcohol sanitiser products, provides the following update on trading for the financial year to date and the Company’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has materially impacted the industry as a whole.

Warehouse enough alcohol to meet anticipated demand for its alcohol sanitiser and infused spirits products until at least the end of the calendar year (including the Christmas period, the peak period for spirit sales).

The Company has adapted quickly to the adverse impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on demand and the distribution channels for the Company’s core infused spirits brands. Whilst there has been a considerable reduction in sales of the Company’s core products over the last six weeks, the Company’s recently introduced “Drip+Drop” alcohol sanitiser product, which was developed in conjunction with Drs George Tranter and Tiancun Xiao, has had a fast and successful start. Launched in the last week of March, sales have considerably exceeded management expectations and generated revenues of more than £500,000, which more than offsets the decline in revenues from the Company’s core product offering. The Company will focus current production capacity on this product line in the short to medium term whilst demand remains extremely high. The Company has obtained BS EN 1500 testing certification for the “Drip+Drop” product range. British Honey also believes it is better placed to cope with the current economic turmoil than the majority of its peers due to the strength of its balance sheet, underpinned by the proceeds from its recent IPO and its capacity to secure supply. BHC has responded to alcohol supply issues faced across the industry, as producers based in continental Europe are retaining capacity for their own national needs, by “ring-fencing” in its Bonded 10

British Honey CEO, Michael Williams, commented: “Very early on during the Covid-19 outbreak we identified a clear opportunity for the Company to move into the production of alcohol-based sanitisers, to meet exceptional demand and supply shortages, given the basic ingredient is the same as for our infused spirit brands. I’m delighted to report that sales of these products have been exceptional. BHC obtaining BS EN 1500 certification for “Drip+Drop” products is another milestone in its development. “Whilst there is no doubt that, across the industry, problems in the alcohol supply chain are starting to emerge, I am pleased to confirm that we as a company have sufficient alcohol for our own spirits business plans through to the end of 2020. List Distillery are also continuing to supply rum and bourbon from their distillery in Florida. “The health, safety, and welfare of our employees remain our first priority. Our production and support operations are fully committed to meeting our customers’ needs with all staff continuing to work normal hours, albeit with various measures taken to enable required social distancing and adherence to government guidelines. Furthermore, we continue to support key front-line workers, local care homes and other charitable institutions with complimentary products”.

British Honey also continues to develop its collaborative Agreement with US-based List Distillery LLC, based in Florida for the joint development and distribution of both sanitiser products and existing infused spirits brands, on a reciprocal basis, in the UK and the United States.

https://britishhoney.co.uk

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think especially when it starts growing out in a couple of weeks, nevertheless it seemed like an apt time to go ahead. Why apt? “As we’ve all bemoaned the lack of cappuccinos, haircuts, pubs and social contact during lockdown, most of the children that Special Effect help are in long term lockdown of one version of another, either through illness of disability.

VSL director Tom Barton has previously secured manufacturing facilities for Arrival in Banbury, Oxford and Bicester and explains: “We are working closely with Arrival to facilitate their property requirements in Oxfordshire and are delighted to have secured a further manufacturing plant to accommodate their continuing growth.”

Electric vehicle company further expands manufacturing base Electric van maker Arrival Ltd has taken on another new property at Network @ Link 9 in Bicester as it continues its rapid expansion. The Oxfordshire and London based company has acquired Unit 6 comprising 30,000 sq ft for their composites production facility on a 10year lease at £8.25 per sq ft. The deal agreed by VSL & Partners and White Commercial for landlord Barings Real Estate Advisers comes hard on the heels of the letting at Unit 1A Link 9 to Arrival Ltd in February. Arrival is creating the world’s first Generation 2 electric vehicle, using unique technologies to create affordable, purpose built electric vehicles for commercial customers. It has trialled prototypes with a wide range of companies including Royal Mail, DHL and DPD, as well as BT. Arrival also received an investment and order of 10,000 vehicles from logistics giant UPS. The company secured an £90m investment from South Korean car firms Hyundai and Kia earlier this year and has achieved “unicorn” status. Arrival occupies offices in London as well as R&D centres in Banbury, the USA, Germany, Russia, Netherlands and Israel. It also plans to build “micro factories” near Los Angeles and New York.

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“Arrival is bucking the current trend and taking big strides to facilitate their ability to meet demand. Their expansion is truly impressive and a testament to the technology and investment confidence in the business model.” Glenn Saint, Chief of Commercial Vehicles of Arrival says: “Arrival is revolutionising electric vehicles with our Generation 2 solution that means customers can buy a purpose built electric vehicle for the same price or less than a petrol or diesel equivalent. Critical to making this possible is manufacturing in microfactories which can serve the local community and respond rapidly to local demand.”

“With one of the charity’s main events, the Twin Town Challenge, postponed until 2021, I’m hoping that we can continue to raise money, even if it involves looking somewhat stupid for a few weeks!” If anyone wishes to support Special Effect donations can be made via the team’s original fundraising page:    www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ carter-jonas1

Network @ Link 9 is a multi unit production and warehouse development which forms part of the 35 acre, 530,000 sq ft Link 9 commercial development in Bicester. Only one of the seven units now remains at Network @ Link 9 - Unit 5 comprising 17,656 sq ft of high specification offices and warehouse space with service yard and car park. VSL and White Commercial are all marketing the remaining unit. www.vsl.com

Jon Silversides, partner at Carter Jonas’ Oxford office has delivered on his promise to ‘go blond’ in aid of local charity SpecialEffect As the evidence shows, having recovered sufficiently from his 17 year old son’s haircutting the peroxide has now been applied. Commenting on his new hairstyle, Jon said: “Although I’m slightly worried what some of our more traditional clients will

NX Website Launch The new NX website launched in May featuring inspirational articles covering a wide range of brilliant individuals and companies, brought to you by NX founder, Ed Rosser. “NX is an exciting, growing platform for the next generation to gain insight and inspiration for their future careers. So whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, apprentice or young professional, there’s something for everyone. The launch has caught the attention of organisations in the UK and far beyond meaning NX will be featuring many more amazing people in the future.” If you’d like to find out more about NX, please contact Ed via the website. www.nxmagazine.com

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Two new members to Gardner Leader’s expanding commercial property team

Award winning law firm, Gardner Leader, with branches across the South East, welcomes two new solicitors to its commercial property team. Deirdre Smith and Dominic Dos Remedios have joined the firm, based at its offices in Maidenhead and Newbury, respectively.   Deirdre, a highly qualified and experienced solicitor since 1989, has extensive experience across the entire real estate sector, including developers (residential and commercial), investors, end user and landlord and tenant (she

is able to act for either with ease) in almost all subsectors of the market. , She was a partner at a large City of London law firm known for its real estate. She has also practised for a FTSE100 company as well as for local authorities. She is also a visiting lecturer in Real Estate for the University of Law. Dominic equally brings a wealth of experience with close to 15 years in commercial property. Prior to joining Gardner Leader, he worked for two regional practices, an in-house legal property team managing a large estate in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and as part of a University in-house legal team.   His experience spans across a range of areas including agricultural property, advising on landlord and tenant matters in commercial and farming sectors, and estate management from acquisitions and disposals, easements and encroachments.   In private practice, Dominic worked

in a highly regarded real estate team advising clients on property transactions from commercial leases, acquisitions and disposals to residential conveyancing and auction sales. Appointed to support the firm’s expanding commercial property division, both Deirdre’s and Dominic’s experience will further strengthen the credentials of the Gardner Leader team to provide specialist advice to businesses, nationally and globally.   Greg Humphreys, Partner and Head of the Commercial Property team at Gardner Leader said: “We’re delighted to welcome Deirdre and Dominic to our growing team. Their broad experience, excellent skill sets, and high level market knowledge will add yet further expertise to the team, bringing clients peace of mind that help is at hand no matter their commercial property need.” https://www.gardner-leader.co.uk

Freeths solicitors expands its highly regarded family wealth practice with new senior hires Freeths is delighted to announce the recruitment of two senior private client specialists into its Oxfordshire family wealth practice. The family wealth practice at Freeths is ranked in the Top Tier of private client teams in the UK for its expertise by the UK leading legal directories; Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. The practice provides expert guidance and support to individuals on matters relating to Wills, Trusts, Tax, Probate, Court of Protection, and Family Law.

member of Solicitors for the Elderly and is a Dementia Friend. Amy Chater joins the family wealth practice as a Managing Associate in their specialist Court of Protection team. Amy joins the firm from Coffin Mew and specialises in drafting court applications such as statutory wills, gift approvals or orders for sale. She will support

Daniel Boyle joins the firm’s highly regarded family wealth practice as a Director in their trusts, estates and tax team having previously worked at The Burnside Partnership. He has a wealth of experience in advising people in relation to their estate and trust planning, including drafting Wills and assisting with the creation of trusts. Daniel is also able to advise on lasting powers of attorney for individuals and business owners, and the administration of complex, high net worth estates. He has considerable experience of dealing with intestate estates and estates with missing or vulnerable beneficiaries, and is able act as a Deputy for vulnerable clients and frequently acts as a trustee and executor for clients.

the team’s professional Deputies by managing their complex and high value Property and Finance Deputyships. As well as overseeing every day financial decisions for clients.

Daniel qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and is a fully qualified member of STEP, the world’s leading organisation for private wealth professionals. He is also a

Amy will also assist clients who would like to apply to be a lay Deputy for a family member or close friend. She also offers advice and assistance to lay

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Deputies and Attorneys acting under Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney on their roles or responsibilities or on mental capacity law. Amy qualified as a solicitor in September 2010 and is a Dementia Friend (an initiative of Alzheimer’s Society) and provides internal and external training to those interested in learning more about living with dementia. Prior to specialising in Court of Protection law, Amy started her working life as a Registered Nurse before moving into the legal profession. Nigel Roots, joint national head of Freeths’ family wealth practice, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Amy and Daniel to the firm. Our family wealth practice is ranked as a top-tier practice in the UK for providing specialist legal advice to private individuals. Which is why it is important that we have the skill-set and resource to continue to support our clients even on the most complex of legal issues. Recruiting Amy and Daniel will complement our practice’s ability to advise clients on preserving their family wealth for generations to come.” www.freeths.co.uk

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Oxford-based Owen Mumford appoints new Director of Research & Development

Jarl Severn, Owen Mumford, Podcast with B4 Owen Mumford Managing Director, Jarl Severn, took time out of his incredibly hectic lockdown schedule to talk to B4’s Richard Rosser about how his team have risen to the challenge of maintaining business as usual AND supporting the fight against COVID-19. In the first of many B4 Podcasts featuring business leaders, Jarl explains how his team’s adaptability and commitment to the cause have enabled Owen Mumford to thrive during the most challenging of times. Listen to the Podcast here: www.b4-business.com/b4-podcasts

Owen Mumford, a global industry leader in medical device design and manufacturing based in Oxford, has appointed Professor Andrew Lewis as Research & Development Director as part of its continued investment in innovation. Andrew is a Chartered Chemist and Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering as well as a Fellow of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is also a Visiting Professor of Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at the University of Brighton and has been recognised by the Pharmaceutical Society with an Excellence and Innovation Award.   Andrew has extensive experience within the technical and scientific field across a number of leading pharmaceutical and medical devices companies. Most recently, he led a global cross-platform team of technical heads as Vice President of R&D with Innovation at Boston Scientific, where he spearheaded multiple scientific collaborations with several highly-respected institutions including Edinburgh University.   Jarl Severn, Managing Director at Owen Mumford, says Andrew’s experience and knowledge will further support the company in ensuring innovation and scientific rigour are central to its R&D

strategies: “Andrew is extremely well-respected in the science and medical community as a regular conference speaker and contributor to scientific publications. He is known for developing R&D strategies and applying the latest management thinking to innovation pipelines focused on drug-device combinations. This innovative thinking will make him an invaluable asset to our company.”   Andrew joins Owen Mumford at an exciting time: “As a UK manufacturer, the company is launching a number of new devices designed to make the lives of health care professionals and patients safer and easier,” he says. “I’m looking forward to supporting and furthering Owen Mumford’s commitment to these critical safety goals.” www.owenmumford.com

One of the UK’s leading family lawyers is appointed a Deputy District Judge After a rigorous interviewing process that started in March 2019 and involved various screening tests and interviews, Rachael Oakes, Partner and National Joint Head of Freeths’ highly regarded UK Family Wealth Practice has been appointed Deputy District Judge and will sit on the Midland Circuit.

duties will include preparing for trial and hearing actions, the handling of applications in the course of proceedings, and determining applications and deciding claims through fact finding and using her twenty plus years’ of experience and expertise as a seasoned lawyer to give reasoned judgements.

Rachael Oakes is no stranger to giving sound judgements and providing clear advice in a legal capacity over the years having qualified as a lawyer in 1996. Today she is ranked by the UK’s leading legal directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, as one of the UK’s top family lawyers for matrimonial law.

Rachael Oakes, Partner and National Joint Head of the Family Wealth Department at Freeths, commented, “I’m very much looking forward to bringing the same passion, energy, commitment and enthusiasm to the role of Deputy District Judge as I have done as a family lawyer since qualifying in 1996. The process of being appointed as a Deputy District Judge is a lengthy one but rightly so, as it is a responsibility that requires the right person to have the necessary experience, expertise, empathy and compassion to fulfil their duties. I truly believe that taking on this role which comes with such

This appointment is a part-time position enabling Rachel to still manage her national team whilst bringing to the job the experience she will gain sitting as a Deputy District Judge and seeing things from the other side of the fence! Her

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responsibility will help me be a better lawyer in my everyday practice.” www.freeths.co.uk

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Over 100 speakers and 400 delegates in three days using a brand new platform... surely this event had ‘DANGER do not enter’ written all over it? But, to borrow a frequently used word in the post (and during) event social media comments, BIO2020 was a TRIUMPH……no danger! Managed and curated by B4, one of Oxfordshire’s leading B2B networking communities with speakers covering a huge range of topics, a running theme of purpose in business (and in our lives generally) and a strong feeling of family and community spreading like wildfire from the opening session to the last, which enabled some of the speakers to share their own very personal and incredibly emotional journeys…wow!, BIO2020 had everything summed up with one message on social media after the event ‘where’s my daily BIO2020 fix?’ That was the secret of BIO2020’s success as summed up by one delegate, ‘It got steadily more addictive!’….that ability for delegates to turn up the volume on their computer when they wanted to hear a particular speaker enabled them to continue working at home or in the office whilst still feeling part of a welcoming and vibrant event. So many benefits of a physical event were lost but the

online version somehow fostered a greater sense of camaraderie and openness as delegates shared jokes in the chat function or came on screen to ask speakers questions direct, in many ways a more personal and intimate experience than a physically live event would allow. But whilst this was an event for Oxfordshire businesses there were delegates and speakers from around the world including the USA, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, UK, Poland, Australia, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines…hopefully this will be an evolving theme with BIO and B4 moving forward. From start to finish there was a packed schedule of content, from opening warm up sessions to closing panel sessions including a hugely beneficial panel run by Oxfordshire LEP on the second afternoon. Delegates could choose from two talks at any one time, each of which ran for 20 minutes with a 10 minute break in between.. a format which provided the right level of content leaving delegates wanting more.

Huge credit to everyone that supported BIO2020 – sponsors (including lead sponsors, Unipart), exhibitors, speakers, hosts, official support partners and delegates. It really did surpass everyone’s expectations. SpecialEffect were the official charity of BIO2020 and an online raffle and auction (including a Lionel Messi signed Barcelona shirt) raised £2,667.50. What a fantastic effort for an amazing charity. Hats off to the team behind the scenes, to Lorna Waterfield, Keith Simpson, Rob Scotcher, Ed, Sue and Colin Rosser and event host, Richard Rosser.

THE STORY BEHIND BIO2020 FROM TEAM B4 So what on earth possessed us to schedule a three day on line event? Well, as many readers will know, the 7th annual BIO was always due to take place over three days at Jurys Inn, Oxford. But, as it became clear the pandemic would deny us of physical events, we had to act fast.

WAY A K O O T S  E  T   A  G   E  L   E  D    WHAT OUR 0 2 0 2 S AT BIO Y and A D 3 M the dynamic d O te ra FR st n o m e ness “BIO2020 d rdshire’s busi port during to offer sup t u o ch a re ant to build “Continue to . We really w 9 -1 d ID V O C be supporte and beyond sinesses can u b f o w s o y h a in w momentum assist in new e normal’ and w e ‘n f any chang ir e th in t the heart o a le p o e p h working wit required.” Strategy, , Director of

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Some Fantastic Feedback “Well done and thanks indeed to Richard Rosser and B4 team. It certainly was quite an achievement and a brilliant gathering of souls who seemed to share a common motivation that just maybe #BIO2020 could be the pivotal once in a lifetime moment to #changethewayyouthink and #beaforceforgood #joiningupthedots.” Jayne Woodley

“To Richard and team, and everyone I’ve met and interacted this week, thank you for a brilliant event - absolutely superb experience! I look forward to many more, in the real world too - thanks again! It got steadily more addictive!” Stephen Spencer & Associates “Richard Really tremendous achievement to put on such a wide ranging and dynamic event in current environment. Very well done.” Mark Beard, Beard Construction “When you have your headphones in Richard you look like a pilot flying a plane; this has been a fantastic journey for us all - feel like I’ve been round the world and back - and your wonderful co-pilots too, all to be congratulated and thanked!” Lucinda Whiteley, Novel Entertainment Ltd “An excellently organised event, using technology in the right way to bring a wide range of information to a broad audience in a safe and professional manner with just the right level of humour. Everyone wanted this to be a success and it is.” Richard Dorey, Digitizelectric Limited “I wanted to say to you all that today was a total triumph for all your hard work. Dominic Hare, Blenheim Palace

“Very well organised. It was very enjoyable. I spent most of the day working and listening to the talks. Looking forward to todays’ talks.” Cheryl-Lee Foulsham, Oxford Duplication Centre “Unbelievable co-ordination and event management!! I think Joanna Mundy is right... you’ve made the impossible possible! Really looking forward to tomorrow.” Hannah Scott, Bioregional and Oxfordshire Greentech

             er what a than ev nised more g co actual re I 0 2 diverse the w o “At BIO 20 h d n a is rity that is roup B4 ing for a cha rk supportive g o w e n o e re. As som businesses a invaluable.” Tim Wraith

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“Spot on event Richard and team... you’ve started something now hashtag#changethewayyouthink” Jonna Mundy, YouHR “Richard morning, just wanted to drop you a quick line to say you and the team have nailed day 2 at BIO2020 and its only lunchtime. Meant to be dropping in and out but have been in all morning. Great work and really enjoying it - congrats.” Andrew Hancock, BrandAsylum

“Congratulations to you and all the team for an excellent event. The organisation, communication, software and management to deliver a great experience for so many was just brilliant. When you go for it, there is nothing you and your team can’t deliver with quality. Mike Foster, The Entrepreneurs Mentor

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WHAT OUR D FROM 3 DAY ELEGATES TOOK AWA Y S AT BIO202 “BIO2020 sh 0 owcased th e variety a way the imp

, energy and ortance of w versatility o orking toge f the Oxford ther, being business co Duncan Cri flexible and mmunity. I ne, Partner, innovative, will take Head of Dis always look pute Resolu in g to th e future.” tion Oxford , Freeths LL P

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Some Fantastic Feedback “The last 3 days have been brilliant and I cannot thank the team at #b4 enough for making Business in Oxford such an amazing experience.” Stephen Cook, V Purposeful Strategy “Well done to everyone at B4 - an amazing 3 days!” Michael Pawley, Proficio “Richard you and the rest of the team have done so much in such a short notice, Well Done....and Thank you Keith, Rob and Lorna for all your support and guidance.” Placi Espejo, Oxford Technology Park “Really felt like a family affair in the best possible way- glad to be a part of it!” Lucinda Whiteley, Novel Entertainment



“5 star event - loved the ability to pop in to loads of interesting sessions over the 3 days without having to move! And enjoyed the good level of interactivity - via chat and great moderation. Hats off to the team!” Judy Davis, Judy Davis Marketing “And a huge thanks and respect to Richard and team BIO. What a great achievement to have put on such a brilliant expo, and in such an easy-going, friendly way. It has kickstarted a lot of us into the online 21st Century (or maybe just me).” Mike Jennings, Jennings of Garsington

We cut our teeth by delivering over 40 live webinars covering a whole host of support topics for businesses, every day at 12pm. On some days we ran up to four live webinars and we felt pretty stretched, so how on earth would we cope with over thirty A DAY?! The secret was in the planning. We chose the right platform (we didn’t know that until after the event, mind you) as Hopin provided a warm and friendly, gated environment which not only provided easy access and ‘Hopinabilty’ between talks, but also the chat function which allowed what seemed like lost friends to reconnect. The only downside was the inability to see everyone, as per Zoom, but it worked, it was more than enough and allowed our speakers to plough on with their talks. So thank you Hopin, a new platform but a great platform. Once the platform was chosen, the real hard work began. In a matter of days, we had set up over 100 promotional tiles for speakers, sponsors, official support partners and exhibitors; over 30 promotional videos to help the speakers get word out that they were speaking at BIO2020; a comprehensive website with a growing agenda and so much more. Lorna and Keith managed the speaker platform familiarisation trials over three days; delegates, speakers and exhibitors were given crystal clear instructions how to navigate the platform and much, much more. WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

We were delighted to get SpecialEffect on board as our official charity…that added a great feel good aspect to the event. The opening session with Frank Nigriello from Unipart, Rob Panting and Nigel Tipple from Oxfordshire LEP, Emma Wyatt’s (daily) LinkedIn update and auction and raffle latest news from SpecialEffect gave us a great start. To get feedback from so many people that they logged in on the Tuesday morning with the intention of going back to work within a couple of sessions, only to be still glued to BIO2020 ‘like a good book you can’t put down’ was all the praise we needed to tell us that BIO2020 had been a success. Yes we’ve had some great praise but it’s important to understand where we can improve and with webinars and digital content a key element of B4’s life moving forward, we have to learn to be better whenever possible. Thanks again to everyone who supported us… the next one’s already in the works!! Sadly not everyone was happy….. “Refreshments were poor and I was looking forward to my delivery of pizza at the end of the event - very disappointing.”

To see the full agenda of content please visit: www.businessinoxford.com

“Fantastic effort guys! Really well done. What a great achievement!!! When’s the next one?!” Amy Hewick, Amy Hewick Events “Great work by the #BIO team and speakers, thanks again for your support for SpecialEffect.” Nick Streeter, SpecialEffect “Epic three days. You put the heart into business. Well done and thank you Richard and the B4 team! Have a well deserved drink or two!” Gita Lobo, Autism Family Support Oxfordshire “Yes a brilliant event. WELL DONE to the entire BIO2020 team for making it happen. Thanks also to all the great speakers.” John F Kennedy, Flexible Finance

“I’m so sorry I’ll miss the final session as I have a 5pm I can’t change. So great that you all pulled this off in a BIG way. Congrats! And it was wonderful to connect with all my Oxford pals! Nick Streeter excited you’ve been able to raise over £2.5k! “Can’t believe I was on at the same time as @Emma Jones (one of my total heroes)” Joy Foster, TechPixies “This has been a fabulous event. Thank you to the entire BIO2020 team for making this run so smoothly and be of huge benefit and so much fun.” Sally Green “Congratulations team B4 - nailed it. Well done and thanks for all your efforts.” Alex Sayers, XIST2 “Thank you everyone… Now get outta here!” BIO2020 LIVE

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OXFORDSHIRE BUSINESSES SHINE Written by: Grant Hayward

B4 has been a great window through which to view the continued and growing shift businesses are making to embed more positive social and environmental purpose at the heart of what they do, and I have been proud to support B4 in this direction too. However, the extraordinary circumstances we are all experiencing, have significantly influenced an amplification of this with some truly impressive examples of Business as a Force for Good across Oxfordshire.

Heather Carter, Operations Director at Blenheim

So, I’d like to highlight just a few examples with the aim of praising all such companies and the people within them that really have been going above and beyond. But mainly I hope to inspire others to generate ideas about the ways they, their staff and their supply chains can work collaboratively within communities to tackle some of the heightened challenges it seems we will continue to face for some time yet.

But first, the moral maze

For more than 10 years now I have been helping businesses to understand the much deeper and wider opportunities and benefits of making this shift to embed purpose, as opposed to what are often simple, modest gestures and sometimes even just for PR purposes. Yet I still constantly battle with the quandary around motivation and benefit. My nirvana is for all involved to be acting because it’s the right thing to do and because this benefits others, although ultimately deriving benefit for themselves 18

and their organisations in some way. So this isn’t about the way many businesses have admirably “pivoted” to respond to the crisis and also offer new products and services on a commercial basis - as vitally important as that is to the economy, those businesses and customers. So, to be perfectly clear, this is about those who are putting others first and foremost.

Optimising networks and supply chains

When the government restrictions first hit, B4 member, Blenheim, was keen to find a way to utilise their extensive catering facilities, which were lying dormant. Working with supplier, Searcys and its furloughed staff, they set about developing a collaboration to prepare and deliver chilled meals to those in need. Oxfordshire’s B4 network at its very best soon enabled connections with SOFEA in Didcot, Oxford Together, Oxford Food Bank and Cuckoo Lane Fruit and Veg to launch a service

delivering 48 meals to the Barton Community Association volunteers. Searcys also added VE Day afternoon tea cakes as an extra for people to enjoy, which is claimed to be Winston Churchill’s favourite fruit cake! Blenheim’s furloughed staff deliver twice each week to Barton Community Association volunteers, who in turn take the meals out into the community for the elderly and vulnerable. Jenny Howard, one of these volunteers, is pictured on p65 ready to deliver the meals. There are also plans to extend this with additional drop offs to other communities. Heather Carter, Operations Director at Blenheim said “We are extremely proud of the Blenheim team who have contributed their time and energy to make this food production and delivery scheme happen. It was wonderful to the happy smiles of the people in the Barton community when they received their first meal pack”.

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“ We are extremely

Rob Bailey recruitment consultants Korn Ferry

proud of the Blenheim team who have contributed their time and energy to make this food production and delivery scheme happen. It was wonderful to the happy smiles of the people in the Barton community when they received their first meal pack

Heather Carter, Operations Director at Blenheim

Grant Hayward

The power of the crowd

Rob Bailey works for global recruitment consultants Korn Ferry and is also a keen 3D printing hobbyist. When the full implications of COVID-19 became apparent, he felt compelled to use his skills in some way to help. So, using a design that had been shared online, he began making PPE face masks. Only able to produce 7 masks per day he was keen to ramp this up and using the power of social media and again, local networks, has since helped to grow a burgeoning local collective; Covid Print Oxford, of 90 people across the county manufacturing and distributing protective visors, with supporting admin and publicity. Local companies and furloughed staff have been involved - couriers, printers (some usually printing parts for F1 teams), technical experts, 3D designers, medics, fundraising and PR experts - all giving their time and expertise freely. Companies include Diamond Light Source and Electrospinning on WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

Harwell Campus, but also small companies and self-employed. The collective is now producing more than 450 visors a day and by early May had distributed 2,580 visors to local hospitals, care homes, surgeries and other medical centres including Cogges Surgery, Witney, pictured wearing the masks. Rob, who is Registered Occupational Psychologist, specialising in recruitment for business explained, “One of the most rewarding things is that we’re not just protecting people’s lives and health; we’re protecting their psychological well-being as well. Lots of doctors and nurses were really frightened about going to work. Now they’re going to work more calm, more reassured”. Although time and resources are being provided for free, the cost of materials and fuel for distribution needs to be covered, so they have launched a fundraising campaign:

opencollective.com/covid-print-oxford

So much more….

It’s been painful putting this article together knowing it’s not possible to cover all the great stuff going on within the B4 network and generally across the Oxfordshire business community. So please forgive me easing my pain just a tad by mentioning just a few more to give a sprinkling of other vital support: www.salutethenhs.org - a not for profit initiative, driven by the private sector in Bicester Aston & James – donating products and services Lucinda Whiteley of Novel Entertainment, supporting local children and families University College providing one of its venues as emergency accommodation And of course, let’s not forget how Richard and the team have also stepped up to help, including the 90 day free membership to provide access to this 19


Jayne Woodley, former CEO at Oxfordshire Community Foundation

“ One of the most rewarding things is that we’re not just protecting people’s lives and health; we’re protecting their psychological well-being as well

Staff at Cogges surgery

powerful and supportive network for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have access. As the role of business in society continues to shift and perhaps lines blur a little with the roles of charities and Social Enterprises, it’s important to highlight how the latter are also rising to the challenge. Many might say that’s what they are there for, but just like so many businesses, most if not all are rising to the challenge and going above and beyond, despite, just like businesses, significantly reduced income. Again, far too many to mention, but the likes of SOFEA in Didcot, Maymessy CIC, Arts At The Old Fire Station, partners in the Oxfordshire Homeless Movement.

So, what can you do?

So many of you are doing so much already. But in my experience helping companies to engage more deeply and in more creative ways, I constantly find that most aren’t fully aware of the resources and skills they have and how these can help. Rob Bailey’s reflection on what he has achieved is a great example of this…. “I owned a lab coat because I’d done some

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Rob Bailey - Korn Ferry

performance work and had played a scientist on stage. I owned sterilizing equipment because I like to brew my own beer at home. I’d been a trained PR spokesperson in a previous job, so I knew how to prepare for media interviews. I’ve been a manager for many years, so I knew what it was like to form a new team very quickly. I had a 3D printer, and now I know how to maintain it. I’m not the most talented person in any one of these things, but I’ve persisted enough to try all of these things”. And look what he has achieved.

competition every time and the more we work on coming together in support of our common good the greater our purpose and achievements will be”.

What Rob and his associates have done is fulfilled a need and filled a void, but as more and more businesses are considering what they can do, a common mistake is to try establishing something that already exists. So, one of my strongest appeals is not to reinvent the wheel. A lot of people have been working for many years to address the social and environmental challenges we face – locally and nationally. Networks and initiatives are already in place that could really do with the additional skills, resources and funding where possible, that business can provide.

A relatively new, Lottery funded initiative, Team Oxford, hosted by Aspire Oxfordshire, is running a Furlough Exchange Scheme, seeking professionals on furlough with opportunities to support charities, community groups and Social Enterprises. They are actively looking for people with skills in graphic design, marketing, content writing, fundraising, research, video animation and client support. For more information contact hello@team-oxford. co.uk

Jayne Woodley, former CEO at Oxfordshire Community Foundation believes “Collaboration always wins over

As examples, Oxfordshire All In (www. oxfordshireallin.org) and Oxford Together (https://oxfordtogether.org) are initiatives bringing people and organisations together across sectors to help address the challenges faced caused by the pandemic, both would welcome more involvement from local businesses.

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Blenhaim Palace

something an increasing number of businesses would like to support. They are particularly keen to hear from Landlords and the private sector to help in their planning around transition from the current emergency accommodation arrangements. In the city, Oxford Together - https:// oxfordtogether.org is empowering communities to support one another through the Covid-19 situation and have placed over 1,300 volunteers, so you can encourage your employees to sign up with them and also offer donations of all sorts of items. You can also join the ROBIN Network (www. robinoxford.org.uk), which, for the past 10 years has been bringing people and organisations together across sectors to share skills and resources. Last but far from least, you can engage with B4’s very own Nexus programme and partners a local charity or Social Enterprise - https://nexus.b4-business. com

What difference will this make as we emerge from this?

Despite the terrible consequences of this awful WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

Jenny Howard - Blenheim

situation, I have seen the very best of our business community across the county. For some time now, many companies have been doing incredible work transitioning to place wider stakeholders and not just shareholders at the heart of what they do. Blenheim, for example has a myriad of initiatives running right through their organisation that they don’t shout about and I have had the privilege of supporting some of these in small ways. They are truly are changing lives. And it’s my belief that these troubled times have also accelerated this shift for others and will inspire many more to realise what can be achieved, why and how all businesses really can be a Force for Good.

once it spreads, it’s likely to be far worse than other areas around the world. BIO2020 really did showcase the shift we are seeing, with this theme and new narrative such as “purpose” and “Business for Good” as golden threads running right through the programme. Well done best again to B4 and its team on that. If you would like to share your experiences or just connect, do please get in touch: grant@collaborent.co.uk

Rob Bailey explains; “many of the people in the collective are forming friendships that are going to last for life. it was like they were meeting their soulmates. It felt very special for me as well, like a number of elements in my life had all come together in this one moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if businesses form from this”. 200 masks have also been sent by the collective for trial in Africa and if accepted, major funding is likely to enable the collective to scale up and supply hospitals throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This is vital, as they are behind us in terms of COVID-19 infections so

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grant@collaborent.co.uk 07768 603 312 www.collaborent.co.uk @granthayward uk.linkedin.com/in/grantjhayward

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HOW CAN A WILL PREPARED DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC BE CHALLENGED? In the last few months, life as we know it has changed beyond recognition. Coronavirus has taken hold in the UK and it has left many people scrambling to get their affairs in order. There has been an unprecedented surge in people taking steps to make a will or update their existing will. Written by: Sarah Foster, Partner - Freeths Solicitors

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The current crisis could see “people attempting to witness wills at a distance through a window for example or via a video link

The social distancing guidelines currently in place mean face to face meetings when taking instructions for a will and/or , then executing a will are a thing of the past for will drafting solicitors. This coupled with the urgency to make a new will could result in people falling foul of the strict requirements for a will to be valid. So what is required for a will to be valid? 1. Section 9 of the Willa Act 1937 requires a will to be in writing, signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who sign it in the testator’s presence. Case law indicates that it must be physical presence. 2. A testator must have testamentary capacity to make a will, this means the testator needs to know they are making a will that will take effect on death; know what property they have to dispose of; be aware of people who may have a claim on their estate; and be broadly aware of how they have shared out their estate. 3. A testator must have made their will free from the influence of other people. 4. A testator must know the contents of their will, for example by reading it or having it read to them, and they must approve those contents.

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The current crisis could see people attempting to witness wills at a distance through a window for example or via a video link. It remains to be seen whether the process of due execution of a will made during the pandemic will be subject to rigorous scrutiny in any probate action or whether the courts will adopt a more generous approach when interpreting the law. We might also see a rise in the number of homemade wills and questions over whether the testator knew and approved the contents. Similarly, we shall have to wait and see whether the courts try to give effect to a testator’s intentions in these unprecedented times, and even if a will is not valid. Our Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Dispute team are ready to support you in these difficult times. If you would like to discuss a will validity challenge please contact us on 01865 781055 and a member of our team will be happy to assist you

 sarah.foster@freeths.co.uk  01865 781 055  www.freeths.co.uk

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Happy 30th Birthday to Aston & James What A Journey!

Everything for the Workplace “It’s been and continues to be a rollercoaster of a ride over the last 30 years, with lots of ups & downs and twists & turns. But we have always had the support team, family, friends and customers to ride it out together. Thank you to everyone who has supported Craig, myself and the Team at A&J in helping us to reach this milestone.” Darren Aston

Congratulations from B4 “When I first sat down to talk to Darren and his brother (and then partner) Alan all those years ago, it was easy to see what a genuine person Darren was. I often quote Darren and Aston & James as the perfect B4 members…honest as the day is long, professional in everything they do and just nice, decent people. We have been honoured to have Aston & James as part of the B4 community for almost nine years and we hope that our relationship with Darren and his excellent team continues for many years to come. Congratulations on 30 fantastic years in business.” Richard Rosser, CEO, B4

Read Aston & James Newsletter on p73

Everything for the Workplace

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 sales@aston-james.co.uk  01993 706 900  www.aston-james.co.uk

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NO SENSE IN CARING In the last issue of B4, Paul Ballinger, Managing Director of STL Communications, featured in our lead article alongside founder, Brendon Cross, the man who has backed Paul to help him drive the company’s ‘next exciting chapter’. Neither knew what would happen next or that they would lose vital senses when it came to caring for customers and employees. Written by: Paul Ballinger

“I was on a train to Haddenham & Thame Parkway on 17th March when I heard things were changing and changing fast.” Recalls Paul. ”We made the decision there and then to inform management on the Wednesday, make Thursday a home working day so that everyone was up and running from home by the Friday. We were able to sleep easy over the weekend and ‘come back to work’ on the Monday so we were productive….that’s everyone’s biggest fear…losing productivity. “Ironically, we had been preparing a disaster recovery procedure for months before lockdown so we could prove to ourselves that we could continue if anything happened in the office (building set on fire / something cuts us off etc…), not COVID-19 obviously! We felt that if we were asking our customers to plan for disaster recovery then we should be able to do so with some passion and accuracy from our own experiences.” As a customer of STL, we’ve always felt that warmth and deep level of customer care from any of the STL team that we come into contact with. It is, as Paul likes to say ‘all part of STL’s DNA’. But with a team working remotely and no opportunities to meet with customers, the wind was taken out of STL’s sails and the team had to learn how to care for employees and customers without the usual toolkit of senses, as Paul explains. “When everyone is working from home, you lose that sensory feedback of chatter, keyboards being tapped…. you definitely lose a sense when your team work from home. It’s a bit of a falsehood because that noise in the office didn’t necessarily equal productivity – but it was a reassuring buzz and ultimately you knew the work was being done. A lot of businesses had to learn to trust their teams during lockdown from day one and it’s certainly been an

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interesting learning curve for all of us. “So we lost a sense but had to remember and lean on another one….trust. Nothing changed from the person you pay a fair salary to every year, it’s the same person but why wouldn’t we trust them to work from home? Yes trust was a barrier to some, not saying for us, but we certainly had to trust the team to work. If you can trust them to work in the office then why not trust them to work at home? “We implemented some keystroke software so that we could see what the team were working on, what applications they were using. That gave us an idea

The disappointing thing “from our point of view as

management is that without COVID-19 we probably wouldn’t have been as caring

of who was spending what amount of time on what applications , which ensures the right people have the correct access .As previously explained, we were up and running quickly…we had to sort some staff out with headphones, laptops etc…. but by Monday 20th we had everyone ready to go with the kit they needed. Laptops were going up and up in price…on the Friday they were about £1,200. We managed to get what we needed, but not at silly prices. “Another key sense we have lost is the sense of how the team is coping. Mental health is a massive issue, we know, so we have to try and get an idea how they are coping. We’ve had some fantastic responses from staff who appreciate that as an employer we care…the disappointing thing from our point of view as management is that without COVID-19 we probably wouldn’t have been as caring

as we now are, maybe because we would have felt we knew how a particular member of staff was, but never actually asked. So we’ve lost some senses, but gained more insight into how they are all coping just by asking the question on a regular basis…’how are you?’…and meaning it. Our greatest assets in the business are now remote from us and we’re, to a certain extent, ‘flying a kite’ and all you can feel is the string on your finger and you’re thinking ‘are they OK? Are they really OK?’. “Until COVID, everyone had a social life to dilute work pressures…what have they got now? Nothing. So we have a duty of care to helping with work pressures now, more than ever before. We had a buddy system at work where we would pair up individuals to provide support in and out of work… that’s been taken away from us and is almost impossible to replicate on line…no matter what you do, it’s just not personal. “But our staff communication has increased 200%. We are more connected as a team now than we were when we were in the office. We have a management call every day which sometimes last an hour, we have a company meeting twice a month which is embarrassing because we would only have two company meetings a year pre-COVID. There would be small team meetings going on in the office but probably only monthly. The amount of conversations and video calls now is insane in comparison. It’s a lot easier to get people together, it’s a lot easier to communicate quickly and accurately. Our e-mail traffic has dropped because we are communicating via this medium (video conference). I also think the understanding of what we as a company are trying to achieve has improved, after all , if the company doesn’t understand what it’s trying to achieve then you have difficulty communicating that to a customer. “We’ve changed from a company that is spoken to

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by a vendor that then goes and sells the vendor’s products to one which is now looking for the benefit in every single solution that we promote to our customers. The education within our business has increased significantly since lockdown because our communication has increased so much.” For those of you who have met Paul, you’ll know he’s a people person who thrives on meeting his customers. Lockdown has deprived him and his sales team with that vital ingredient in any transaction…the opportunity to build a relationship with the customer. “The personalisation with customers is key to how STL works and we’ve lost that so it could be damaging for us. Look at what Brendon’s achieved through Twin Town….it’s hard to replicate that in a lockdown world. “In terms of customers, we really are one or two senses down. When you walk into a prospect’s business you get a sense about them, you get a sense about their business. You have that warm up conversation that you can’t easily replicate on video calls. It’s now difficult to make yourself memorable… we’re sending coffee e-vouchers to clients so we can try and replicate the traditional meeting, but it’s difficult. It’s that little attention to detail to personalise the meeting for your customer or potential customer that we’re missing. We are massive social animals and we rely on those social instincts….we’re losing more than we’re gaining.

lose our team. Our primary objective is to keep the team safe. Our productivity is now 96% to 97% but the concern then is burnout. Lots of us won’t stop at 5.30pm…there’s always one more e-mail isn’t there!? But we’re more relaxed about when the team work. We want the team to work when they are most creative….we don’t want everyone feeling they have to respond to every e-mail coming in, because if they are, they’re not being creative. “But after everyone’s health and wellbeing, our focus has to be on growing the business. That’s going to be hard…the role I’m offering to sales people isn’t the same role they had…meeting people, taking

we’ve lost some senses, “butSogained more insight into how they are all coping just by asking the question on a regular basis…’how are you?’…and meaning it..

customers out to lunch is off the table for now. We now want more as a business because the team have more time to focus on customers and our knowledge of our customers should be significantly better. The team’s targets will be bigger because they have more time. I am not sure they would choose this role in an ideal world, but that’s the world we now live in.

“But we’re learning….we’re all learning. We are having to learn day by day. I have no experience of this situation but I learn from the day and apply it to tomorrow.”

“The last three months has accelerated home working by up to five years and it’s also accelerated decision making from what we’re seeing. We can certainly get more done in a day…the commute has gone, so we’ve been gifted two hours a day.

So how are STL approaching the return to work and what’s the main focus? “We need to be tentative about returning to work…it has to be…we can’t

“The world is also a cleaner place. We are all more focused on our health, looking after ourselves. We’ve not had one sick day, not even a half day sick, in

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the entire company. We’ve had the odd report of staff not feeling well but no time off whatsoever. So that all adds up to more time to do more including looking after ourselves.” I close by asking Paul why could STL be the right company for our readers and being a salesman he catches me off my guard with his response. “We’re not right for everyone. We take time to listen to a prospective customer. We have had customers come to us and say “why are you selling us a product where you make less margin?” It’s about the relationship with STL…we want our customers to have the right product…it will only help us to build trust with our customers. That same customer couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t be the same as their previous supplier who provided the wrong solution for a bigger margin. My focus is the longevity of our relationship and I want to build a longer relationship with my customers than the company who forces a long relationship on its customers…. that’s doomed to fail ultimately. “STL’s responsibility in the IT and comms world is about providing better connectivity with your team and your customers…that’s our job and we think we do it really well. We are experts and you can trust us to provide the solutions for you as a partner. If we do that then we we’re well down the road to retaining or winning you as our customer, a very happy customer.”

 sales@stlcomms.com  0800 316 0123  www.stlcomms.com

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Learning to live, living to learn Established in 1948, The Mulberry Bush works with some of the most emotionally-traumatised primary school-aged children in the country. They have experienced early trauma, neglect and abuse, resulting in behaviour which makes it difficult to support them in a standard community setting.

We need your support The charity primarily consists of a residential school, outreach and training services, a research facility and an International Centre for Therapeutic Care. Despite being a national resource, we receive no central government funding. Local authorities pay fees which cover the basic costs of care, therapy and education.

1 IN 8 CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE A DIAGNOSABLE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM However, these do not allow for any capital or service development, extension of therapeutic care or any of the fun, extra-curricular activities which other children take for granted.

Help us give every child the opportunity of the start in life they deserve and the tools they need to live it fully.

Please contact Joanna Mitchell, Head of Fundraising on jmitchell@mulberrybush.org.uk or call 01865 300202 The Mulberry Bush Organisation Ltd, Abingdon Road, Standlake, Witney OX29 7RW

mulberrybush.org.uk Registered Charity Number: 309565


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“ I interviewed 20 successful

entrepreneurs to find out how they approach sales. In these two free, not to be missed, online sessions I’ll explain how they work out what customers really want and how to put together an offer that presses exactly the right buttons to get customers excited!

Paul Essery - My Sales Guru

Free workshops on How to Sell Like an Entrepreneur! Written by: Paul Essery

Photography by: Rob Scotcher

Online sales coaching company My Sales Guru International is offering two free, one-hour online workshops for people that want to learn how successful entrepreneurs sell. When the country finally emerges from lockdown sales skills will be essential to getting businesses and the economy growing again – but it’s going to be tough for everyone. These two free workshops are designed to get people thinking about the best way to approach sales for their business and identify where improvements might be required. The workshops are open to anyone who wants to get better at sales and are based on the findings of recent research into how successful entrepreneurs approach the sales process and, more importantly, what really works. The first workshop looks at the core processes you need to have in place and the second workshop looks at the different sales tactics that you might WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

use to be successful. During both workshops people will get the opportunity to talk with other participants about how they approach sales in their businesses and what works for them. Paul Essery, sales coach and founder of My Sales Guru says: “I had a great time interviewing successful entrepreneurs about how they approach the sales process. They generously shared with me how they work out what their customers really want and how they put together an offer that presses exactly the right buttons to get their customers excited. In these two short online workshops I’ll explain what they do, that you don’t but probably should!” These two ‘not to be missed’ workshops will explore a wide range of questions including, for example, what makes a proposition attractive, why a custom designed sales system is important, how to build trust with potential customers, when you should

and shouldn’t ‘pitch’ to people and why choosing the right customers matters more than you perhaps imagine. To join in you must be able to attend both workshops and access Zoom via the internet. The dates and times of these workshops will be confirmed in due course. For more information about what’s involved and how to sign up please contact paule@mysalesguru. co.uk or call 0771 782 3377.

 paule@mysalesguru.co.uk  0771 782 3377  www.mysalesguru.co.uk

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DIRECTOR’S DUTIES AND CORONAVIRUS: HOW TO RUN YOUR SHIP WHEN A TSUNAMI HITS Written by: Martyn Kolankiewicz, Freeths Solicitors

As the chaos caused by the coronavirus outbreak continues to impair global markets, creating unprecedented challenges that may prove to rival the 2008 financial crisis, directors are having to consider not only how to cope with the immediate effects on their business, such as supply chain disruption and employee retention, but also the potential longterm implications of their decisions. Indeed, with the economy journeying toward a steep downturn, in such uncertain times it is especially important for board-level decisions not to exacerbate deterioration. For private companies, the Government has issued a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which offers access to a grant covering up to 80% of the average wage for employees who would otherwise be dismissed, worth up to £2,500 per month (see Coronavirus: Job Retention Scheme for details). Additionally, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced in March that state protection will be offered in order to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from bringing the economy to its knees. Such measures include state-backed loans of at least £330 billion of tax breaks (see Coronavirus: FAQs regarding Government-backed Business Support for further information).

Indeed, with the economy “journeying toward a steep

downturn, in such uncertain times it is especially important for board-level decisions not to exacerbate deterioration. Martyn Kolankiewicz Freeths Oxford

On 20 May 2020 the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2019-21 was announced and is currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill provides for amendments to the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Companies Act 2006 on various areas of principal interest. Amongst the changes to the insolvency regime the Bill proposes a new statutory moratorium process, a new restructuring plan procedure and restrictions on the presentation of debtrelated winding-up petitions. The Bill also includes a retrospective coronavirus provision for wrongful trading. This provides that the Courts are to ignore the period between 1 March 2020 and the later of 30 June 2020 or one month 30

after the Bill comes into effect (whichever is later) when assessing the amount of compensation payable by a director who is subsequently found liable for wrongful trading. The Bill is however not law yet and may well not become so before the end of June; the report stage in the House of Lords takes place on 23 June.

DIRECTORS’ DUTIES In addition to considering the implementation and knock-on effects of the new measures and ensuring continued compliance with regulatory obligations, such as health and safety laws, directors should carefully reflect on how the coronavirus outbreak may impact their duties as directors. The Companies Act 2006 (“CA ‘06”) sets out in sections 171 to 177 the general duties owed by a director of a company which include: • • • • • • •

a duty to act within powers (section 171); a duty to promote the success of the company (section 172); a duty to exercise independent judgement (section 173); a duty exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence (section 174); a duty to avoid conflicts of interest (section 175); a duty not to accept benefits from third parties (section 176); a duty to declare interest in proposed transaction or arrangement (section 177).

Where a company starts showing signs of financial distress leading towards insolvency, the directors should prioritise the creditors. If directors implement robust, forward-focused decision-making now, their struggling business may turn around once the pandemic has receded. Despite the need to think proactively and positively, it should be borne in mind that these are unprecedented times and there may be long-term disruption to supply chains and to client bases, resulting in a slow recovery of confidence and ‘business as usual’.

WRONGFUL TRADING PROPOSAL The proposed suspension of the liability for wrongful trading under the Insolvency Act 1986 (“the IA 1986”) should not be seen by directors as an excuse to relax their compliance with their duties and obligations as directors. The suspension is only temporary and it is unclear at present whether there are circumstances in which the provision in the Bill could be rebutted, as is possible with other offences under the IA 1986. Directors should also note that the fraudulent trading provisions under the IA 1986 continue to apply, in the event that a director carries on a company’s business with the intent to defraud creditors or for any fraudulent purposes. WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM


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“ Where a company starts showing signs of financial distress leading towards insolvency, the directors should prioritise the creditors.

Martyn Kolankiewicz Freeths Oxford

The provisions under the IA 1986 relating to misfeasance (breach of fiduciary or other duty) and reviewable transactions, such as preferences, transactions at undervalue and transactions defrauding creditors, are also still in force. The same applies to the directors’ disqualifications rules.

ADVICE In order to mitigate their personal liability in claims such as misfeasance, directors should consider taking the following actions: • seek appropriate legal and financial advice; • keep up to speed on the FRC and FCA guidance; • hold regular board meetings of the directors in order to consider the company’s current financial position and to ensure that all financial information is up to date, accurate and reliable; • monitor creditors closely and maintain clear communication streams with creditors; • ensure that appropriate directors and officers liability insurance is in place; and • if appropriate, liaise with lenders and other stakeholders, such as the Pension Regulator. To keep up to date with the legal implications of the coronavirus outbreak, go to our Coronavirus Hub.

 Martyn.Kolankiewicz@freeths.co.uk  0845 404 4194  www.freeths.co.uk

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SOLUTIONS DONE

ARE YOU IN CONTROL OF THE FINANCIAL FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

Providing specialist Finance Director consultancy and bookkeeping services with the aim of helping business owners take control of the financial future of their business.

the client to draw down money against the monthly invoices sent to clients in order to meet its payroll commitments. We oversaw the due diligence process

The events over recent weeks have provided major challenges for all of us and

carried out by the bank for both lines of funding which expedited the process.

highlighted the need for business owners to have a real understanding of the

Without high quality, relevant financial information being available to the business,

financial position of our businesses: cashflow, debtors, breakdown of costs and

this would have been a significant challenge.

funding availability. When a major event such as Covid-19 happens, national governments tend to intervene; i.e. the UK Government’s introduction of the

Over the last 16 years we’ve worked with most of the main business lenders

business interruption loan in the recent Budget, but even in a more stable

and brokers when identifying the right solution for our clients. Helping the

environment businesses can find themselves with cashflow problems and

business owners compile the information needed to secure new funding and

need external assistance.

more importantly ensuring that an effective set of financial reports are in place

HOW HAVE WE HELPED CLIENTS? A client called upon us in late December, having realised they did not have sufficient funds to meet a large tax bill due at the end of January - for a partnership the time gap between earning profits and paying tax can be quite considerable and having enjoyed a period of rising profits until 18 months previously, profits and the firm’s cash position had deteriorated. We worked with the company partners to understand the current state of the business, to produce a credible 12 month forecast, including cost reductions. On presentation to the firm’s bankers, funds were provided, alongside a capital contribution from the partners, to meet the impending tax bill and establish a working capital facility. The business could move forward with confidence. As with many of our engagements we continued to work with the business for a further two years as their part-time Finance Director. We took on much of the “financial wellbeing” workload from the business owners/partners allowing them to focus on the business growth and clients

that not only identify the status of the business, but where it is going and what potential funding requirements exist. We’re great believers in looking forward with our clients - financial information needs to accurately show: 1. Financial history (regular management profit and loss accounts with comparisons and explanations of variances and annual accounts; 2. Where the business is now (balance sheet); 3. Where the business is going (regular cashflow forecasts, budget/forecast for both profit & loss and balance sheet). This is where a good Finance Director can help business owners in really understanding the financial drivers of their business and to take informed decisions about the future of their business, which in this “climate” is key. For an informal, no-obligation chat feel free to call or email Michael.

After starting work with another business involved in the provision of staff on a daily basis to external clients; they paid staff monthly but only invoiced clients at month-end on completion of timesheets. We worked with the company’s bankers to put in place a business loan to fund the capital expenditure required for improved technology as well as an invoice discounting facility. This allowed 32

 michael@proficiosolutions.co.uk  01865 400857 / 07795 180795  www.proficiosolutions.co.uk WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM


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URBAN ELEMENT: NOW’S THE TIME TO SELL ONLINE In the world of retail, there has been no time more than the present that has emphasised just how valuable it is to be online. Written by: Natasha Ellard

While e-commerce has been around for what feels like forever, the situation we find ourselves in today has exposed retailers without an online platform, and catapulted those with an e-commerce set-up into some uncharted waters where demand is more than most can fill.

is the prospect of more customers appealing, but consider the challenge in economies around the world today. With the ability to reach abroad, you can strategically target markets that are thriving, making your business more agile and able to handle future challenges more easily.

Of course, if you had a choice, it’s better to be the latter. No one wants to be in a Primark like situation, where sales went from £650 million, and all of a sudden halted to £0, all because they never set up online.

Boosting The Shepherd and Woodward Group Online

Thankfully, for retailers who aren’t as big as Primark, setting up an e-commerce platform to sell your wares while we’re all still indoors, is still an option.

The New Normal is E-Commerce What we’ve seen from the current situation is a drastic change in consumer behaviour that is not going to go away when things go back to normal. After all, we are in the “new normal”, and every facet of our life is being conducted online. This is great news. If you happen to be a business with products or services to sell, that can be sold online, you are in the perfect position to adapt and prosper. Consumer demand is high, and people are hungry for options. What’s more, selling online gives you access to consumers further afield. In some cases, if you can ship abroad, this means tapping into markets that were previously unavailable to you if you had previously no e-commerce functionality. Not only WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

One independent local business in a similar predicament was The Varsity Shop, part of the Shepherd and Woodward Group. While they had an online presence, they were well aware that to be competitive, they not only needed to be online, but they needed to have appeal online. With this in mind, the Shepherd and Woodward Group engaged Urban Element to learn how they could amplify their online presence to push through these challenging times and be more competitive than ever. Assessing their online presence and crafting a strategy to boost their reach and give them consumer appeal, Urban Element worked with The Varsity Shop to deliver a brand new WordPress site, boosted with Woo-commerce to make the shopping experience for customers a pure joy. Not only did Urban Element consider the user experience (UX) onsite, but they also worked to get The Varsity Shop customer reach online far beyond the UK. Urban Element’s SEO team has worked closely with

the Varsity Shop to ensure that the new e-commerce site is fully optimised for the international market. Allowing them to diversify their target market, giving them access to consumers in the best global economies. Going live on Friday the 24th of April, The Varsity Shop now has online appeal, international reach and is fully functional to generate the best online sales possible for the retailer. “We as a retail and tourist hotspot had to react to the current climate with a new e-commerce website. Following it’s launch on Friday the 24th April we’re delighted to already have received orders from around the world” Matthew Cox - Director of Retail Operations Whether you need web design in Oxford for an online presence that needs to be enhanced, or a WordPress agency in Oxford to set you up with a brand new site from scratch, Urban Element has the expertise to get you online, appealing to your customers and reaching far for the best possible results.

   

info@urbanelement.com +44 (0) 1993 776 999 www.urbanelement.com @urbanelementweb

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THE RIGHT SUPPORT FOR YOUR BUSINESS CLIENT SUPPORT AUDIT ACCOUNTANCY CHARITIES COMPANY SECRETARIAL CONSULTANCY FINANCIAL PLANNING FORENSIC ACCOUNTING MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTS PAYROLL TAXATION TRUSTS OXFORD 30 St. Giles, Oxford OX1 3LE Tel . 01865 559900 email. information@wenntownsend.co.uk CIRENCESTER 5 Gosditch Street, Cirencester GL7 2AG Tel . 01285 659778 email. partners@wenntownsend.net ABINGDON 10 Broad Street, Abingdon OX14 3LH Tel . 01235 548700 email. abingdon@wenntownsend.co.uk

www.wenntownsend.co.uk


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5 REASONS TO GIVE CONTENT A LEADING ROLE IN YOUR ‘NEW NORMAL’ COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY Content is king, whether we like it or not. No, that’s not just another marketing cliche; it has proven itself to be the key tool in the marketing mix for some time. So now’s the time to consider how to use it to your advantage as we look towards the rest of 2020 - our ‘new normal’ Written by: Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies

Bill Gates first gave regal titling to content way back in 1996 and the internet has proven to be the perfect vehicle for it ever since. And there you have it, the crux of why it’s so crucial to your success - the digitisation of commerce. Online or offline, content is integral to every element of the marketing mix, including:

1. BE PRESENT Visible or audible businesses helping their audiences navigating the changing landscape, will be those most remembered for their assistance, knowledge, expertise and generosity of information and time. Communicate now to stay front of mind.

2. BE RELEVANT • Website & SEO, emails, social media, PPC • Branding, public relations, marketing campaigns, influencer activities • Events, print collateral, affiliate marketing

WHAT PROMINENCE DO YOU GIVE CONTENT IN YOUR ORGANISATION? Another way to ask this question would be to consider how much storytelling you do as a business? Or how often do you communicate with your audiences and via which channels? Content sits at the heart of how a business communicates and what it says about itself and to its customers, suppliers, shareholders and staff. What marketers refer to as ‘owned content’ is content that you create and host on your site or use in your marketing materials. This is your opportunity to tell the story of your business, how it came about, what you’re experts at, how you deliver that expertise in order to help others - what challenges you help overcome.

HERE ARE FIVE REASONS TO GIVE CONTENT THE MOST PROMINENT ROLE IN YOUR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE REST OF THIS CALENDAR YEAR: WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

With relevance comes resonance. If your communications can reflect on the current, changing and yet to appear ways of living and working post Covid-19, you’ll strike a far more pertinent chord with your readers or listeners. They’ll be far more likely to pay attention as a result.

3. BE EXPERT You don’t have to be an expert in pandemics or crisis comms to be a useful expert. Remind yourself of the value of your expertise to your audience and shape it to fit their current challenges via website content, nurture emails and social media campaigns. Genuine expertise is invaluable, especially in times of uncertainty.

4. BE CREDIBLE Unless you tell your audience about your expertise and put it into context for them, why would they think of your business when they next need someone like you to help them? Content that incorporates findings from your own sector or surveys, data on product usage, commentary from industry experts, and/or endorsement from existing customers all aid great storytelling while reinforcing your credibility.

5. BE ANALYTICAL Learn what’s working for your audience by analysing what they’re choosing to read: email open rates and click through rates are invaluable, social media engagement figures and conversion stats too,

website traffic sources and most read content are vital as well. You won’t always have to create new content to stay relevant, credible and present. Businesses that regularly create content for their website, whether that be a blog or FAQs, might find that long ago written content needs just some small tweaks to become hyper relevant now.

MAKING YOUR CONTENT WORK FOR YOU All too often content can fall to the bottom of the to-do list, but with a clear focus on who you’re creating it for and what value you’re adding, the plan will come together more easily and dedicating time to its creation can be more easily prioritised. The rewards will be quick to see too thanks to the ease of measuring how owned content is performing. What’s more, you’ll have a continuous flow of newly generated or refreshed content to fulfil email and social campaigns as well as myriad other marketing activities. Make content the king of your communications strategy and you won’t look back.

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kate@coconutpr.com +44 (0) 7791 114 296 www.coconutpr.com @katestinchcombe

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ACHIEVEMENTS IN INNOVATION, SAFETY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Innovation and medical devices firsts are fundamental to our identity as a business and, significantly in the current environment, one of our first products was an early ventilator. The Oxford Inflating Bellows, was one of the first mechanical ventilators and was designed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics. In the intervening 68 years, we’ve maintained our pioneering approach to medical devices and this year is no exception. In the first quarter of the year, we delivered some notable and innovative product developments. These include the commercial availability of our next generation of safety pen needle; Ateria® SafeControl® and the launch of the first of our rapid diagnostic tests for consumers, Simplitude ByMe which tests for HIV. Ateria® SafeControl® has been developed following research to understand the experience and needs of healthcare professionals in regard to their safety when using pen needles to manage their patients with

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Most recently, we’ve also been very glad that we have been able to make a contribution towards the NHS’s effort to tackle COVID-19. We supplied more than 10 million fingerpricking devices to stock the regional Nightingale field hospitals, the first of which opened in April.

diabetes. Ateria® SafeControl® safety pen needles are designed to provide healthcare professionals with a balance of safety and control during the injection process, whilst protecting them from needlestick injuries. Thanks to our manufacturing capabilities, we

are excited to be in a position where we can start to supply UK and international healthcare organisations with immediate effect. Simplitude ByMe™ is a reliable, simple to use diagnostic test which provides accurate results, and which is available to buy online. This rapid selftesting kit will help consumers to take control of their health, in the first instance testing for HIV. It is directly available to consumers and it is hoped that its introduction will encourage more regular testing by those at risk of HIV. Another important area for Owen Mumford is sustainability and the business is fully committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations. We’ve installed renewable energy at our UK manufacturing facilities at Chipping Norton and Woodstock through an agreement with a local social enterprise, Low Carbon Hub, the proceeds from which supports the rollout of renewable energy to community groups in

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At the time of writing, we are only a third of the way through the year but, despite the current crisis, it’s been a busy start to the year for Owen Mumford. The Oxfordshire-based company, which is a leading British medical device manufacturer producing diagnostic components and drug delivery devices, has not only played an active role in the efforts to tackle COVID-19 but has also maintained its schedule of new product developments. Owen Mumford’s Managing Director, Jarl Severn, talks about his team’s commitment to ongoing innovation, sustainability and supplying healthcare professionals on the frontline. Written by: Jarl Severn, Managing Director

Oxfordshire. We’ve also taken steps to reduce waste and to recycle material wherever we can and operate with zero waste going to landfill.

in our own way, we are making a difference to the medical professions’ bid to combat the virus.

The finger-pricking devices, known as Unistik® safety lancets, are manufactured in our own factories around the World including here in Oxfordshire, and are used for rapid blood testing for conditions such as diabetes and HIV.

Alongside supplying extraordinary orders from the NHS, it’s important that we don’t take our focus away from our normal business activities. We’re continuing to produce injection devices, including pens and autoinjectors, to supply patients with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes as well as the lifesaving Anapen devices for anaphylactic shock for people with extreme allergic reactions. We recognise that many will be relying on having access to these devices to enable them to receive and selfmedicate with essential medicines throughout the National lockdown period and the importance of maintaining these supplies.

These devices play a crucial role in a hospital’s provision of patient care so, aware of the importance of this order, the team pulled out all the stops to ensure this extraordinary demand for lancets reached their destination on time. We feel very proud that,

So it’s been quite a year so far! From delivering product innovations to supporting the Herculean efforts of our healthcare professionals, I’m enormously proud of the achievements of the team at all our sites and never more so than at this time when the UK, and

Most recently, we’ve also been very glad that we have been able to make a contribution towards the NHS’s effort to tackle COVID-19. We supplied more than 10 million finger-pricking devices to stock the regional Nightingale field hospitals, the first of which opened in April.

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the World as a whole, is tackling Cornavirus . As for the next two thirds of the year, there has perhaps never been a more important time to live up to our corporate vision, Making a World of Difference, to a World of People and I’m certain that the team at Owen Mumford will continue to meet that challenge.

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info@owenmumford.com 01993 812 021 @OwenMumford www.owenmumford.com

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Phonak LyricTM

Rediscover the sounds of life TM with Phonak Lyric Lyric is the world’s first and only 100% invisible 24/7 wearable, worn for-months-at-a-time hearing device. Hearing loss affects more than 10 million people in the UK yet only 40% wear a hearing aid regularly. When questioned about this, respondents often admitted that they did not want others to know they struggled with their hearing.* Left unaided, people with hearing loss often report: •

Feeling like those around them are ‘mumbling’ and constantly asking them to repeat themselves

Struggling to follow the conversation in certain environments

Increasing the volume on the television to a level others may find uncomfortable

Industry specialists, Tripp Hearing, are happy to work with this revolutionary system, where the tiny soft Lyric device is programmed to your hearing prescription and inserted deep into your ear canal, by one of their specifically trained audiologists ‘Lyric’ by Swiss manufacturers Phonak is the worlds’ first extended wear, subscription hearing device that remains in the ear for up to 3 months, then is simply removed and replaced with a new one. It is completely invisible and can be worn 24/7. As one patient quoted,

Director Tara Tripp says

“We were delighted to be one of only a handful of Lyric accredited centres in the country and the impact it has had is incredible. Patients that have been fitted have reported sound quality like never before with the added benefit of it being completely invisible”.

Tripp Hearing are pleased to offer free 30 day trials, so that you can be assessed and fitted to see (or hear) for yourself what all the fuss is about. If you have a hearing loss but have always decided to ‘make do’, as opposed to wear a hearing aid, Lyric is for you.

• 100 % invisible • Clear, natural sound • No daily hassles • No batteries to change

“…it’s what I had been waiting for, for years and it really has transformed my life!”

For more information and to book an appointment call the Oxford clinic on: 01865 671 500 or Witney clinic on: 01993 222 888 | www.tripphearing.co.uk


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Freeths solicitors expands its highly regarded family wealth practice with new senior hires Written by: Sian Hewitt, Freeths Solicitors

Daniel Boyle: Family Wealth Director Trusts, Estates and Tax Team

Amy Chater: Family Wealth Managing Associate Specialist Court of Protection team

Freeths is delighted to announce the recruitment of two senior private client specialists into its Oxfordshire family wealth practice. The family wealth practice at Freeths is ranked in the Top Tier of private client teams in the UK for its expertise by the UK leading legal directories; Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. The practice provides expert guidance and support to individuals on matters relating to Wills, Trusts, Tax, Probate, Court of Protection, and Family Law. Daniel Boyle joins the firm’s highly regarded family wealth practice as a Director in their trusts, estates and tax team having previously worked at The Burnside Partnership. He has a wealth of experience in advising people in relation to their estate and trust planning, including drafting Wills and assisting

Our family wealth practice is ranked as a top-tier practice in the UK for providing specialist legal advice to private individuals. Which is why it is important that we have the skill-set and resource to continue to support our clients even on the most complex of legal issues. Nigel Roots, joint national head of Freeths’ family wealth practice

with the creation of trusts. Daniel is also able to advise on lasting powers of attorney for individuals and business owners, and the administration of complex, high net worth estates. He has considerable experience of dealing with intestate estates and estates with missing or vulnerable beneficiaries, and is able act as a Deputy for vulnerable clients and frequently acts as a trustee and executor for clients. Daniel qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and is a fully qualified member of STEP, the world’s leading organisation for private wealth professionals. He is also a member of Solicitors for the Elderly and is a Dementia Friend.

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Amy Chater joins the family wealth practice as a Managing Associate in their specialist Court of Protection team. Amy joins the firm from Coffin Mew and specialises in drafting court applications such as statutory wills, gift approvals or orders for sale. She will support the team’s professional Deputies by managing their complex and high value Property and Finance Deputyships. As well as overseeing every day financial decisions for clients. Amy will also assist clients who would like to apply to be a lay Deputy for a family member or close friend. She also offers advice and assistance to lay Deputies and Attorneys acting under Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney on their roles or responsibilities or on mental capacity law. Amy qualified as a solicitor in September 2010 and is a Dementia Friend (an initiative of Alzheimer’s Society) and provides internal and external training to those interested in learning more about living with dementia. Prior to specialising in Court of Protection law, Amy started her working life as a Registered Nurse before moving into the legal profession. Nigel Roots, joint national head of Freeths’ family wealth practice, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Amy and Daniel to the firm. Our family wealth practice is ranked as a top-tier practice in the UK for providing specialist legal advice to private individuals. Which is why it is important that we have the skill-set and resource to continue to support our clients even on the most complex of legal issues. Recruiting Amy and Daniel will complement our practice’s ability to advise clients on preserving their family wealth for generations to come.”

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daniel.boyle@freeths.co.uk 01865 781 224 amy.chater@freeths.co.uk 01865 781 139 www.freeths.co.uk

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SAFE DISTANCING SIGNAGE FOR THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ TAKING CARE OF YOUR TEAM AND CUSTOMERS DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES. Choose from our selection of safe distancing signage, available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes or signs with your branding and design.

Safe distancing floor stickers

Safe distancing banner stands

Safe distancing wall signage

Safety vehicle stickers

Window stickers

Bespoke signs

Wide range of options available. Full installation service.

CONTACT RYAN & JAY Ryan Jay

07506 009682 07375 402217

info@adeptgraphics.co.uk www.adeptgraphics.co.uk


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ADEPT GRAPHICS Ramp Up Office Signage and Branding While Staff Are Offsite

Business life, right now, is bizarre. We’re all adjusting to new ways of working and life is, in many respects, starting to resemble a new kind of normal. While the situation of COVID-19 is serious, as the dust settles from the initial shock, we’re starting to realise that business goes on. For those fortunate to have their health and the ability to continue operating during this period, the shutdown of offices can actually be looked at as an opportunity to undergo tasks which are more challenging to manage when staff are in, and customers are visiting.

NOW’S THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT BRANDING As every social media post has been promoting since the shutdown, this is a period where we can take advantage of the quiet time to pursue creative projects and get productive. While staff are out of the office, there is no better time than the present to think about your office space and branding, to undergo a facelift ready to wow customers and staff when doors open up once more. Much more impactful than a lick of new paint, branding has the power to: Boost morale Especially at a time when spirits are low, office branding and signage has the power to boost morale and get staff excited about the brand they belong to, and enthusiastic to get back to the office with a fresh facelift when things resume. WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

Grab attention Branding and office signage, including wall graphics, helps you to grab attention and get your brand name into the mind of the customers you want to work with. Even with the office closed, external branding or new branding which can be peeked from the window, can signal to your customers that you’re in business and getting ready for a big return.

internal team messages and graphics we wanted to implement to give the building a lift. They always deliver an excellent personable, professional service. In our experience they have always gone the extra mile and delivered on time. We enjoy working with them collaboratively, there is a good synergy between our businesses. We have a good number of projects in the pipeline.’

Demonstrates passion and professionalism Investing in your brand unconsciously demonstrates to your staff, suppliers and customers that you care about your brand and you’re passionate about making it shine. People want to work with companies that believe in themself, especially in uncertain times.

WHAT NEXT?

Branding can encompass office signage, office branding, wall graphics, branded floors, manifestation, laptops, phones, fridges, cupboards. Adept Graphics does the lot and can brand almost anything. While disruptions are low, now is the time to think about creating a working space that staff are excited to get back to, and customers are enthusiastic about engaging with.

Take advantage of this period where staff are out of the office, to get your branding up to date, ready to impress your customers when doors re-open, and business goes back to usual. Supporting the local community, Adept Graphics is offering B4 members a 25% discount off their first order. Get in contact with the team today to enquire about what products are available for your office signage, office branding, van wrapping or wall graphics needs.

In partnership with another Oxfordshire local business, Aston & James, this is what Managing Director Darren Aston has to say: ‘The team at Adept Graphics have been a great support in getting to know our business and help deliver our brand messages across our vehicle fleet and the

 info@adeptgraphics.co.uk  01993 869 094  www.adeptgraphics.co.uk

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Fitch Brew Co

Heads to the USA

Andy Deeley and Emily Fitch-Deeley, co-founders of cold brew coffee and teas producer, Fitch Brew Co, may be familiar to many of our readers having appeared at BIO2018 and, more recently, in NX Magazine. They’ve been ever present on social media, chronicling their amazing growth and, recently, overseas expansion. It’s great to see hard work paying off for such an industrious and likeable couple….oh, and by the way, at the same time that their expansion news hit, Emily gave birth to a new Deeley… congratulations! Written by: Richard Rosser

So where will the Fitch range be hitting the shelves? The USA! The new contract is described as an ‘unparalleled opportunity’ for the York-based soft drinks brewery, and worth £2.6 million over the next five years. Ironically, Andy and Emily were originally inspired by the American market to found the business when they developed a passion for cold brew coffee whilst there on holiday. They realised there was a gap in the UK market for low calorie, low sugar soft drinks and founded FITCH in 2017, explains Andy. “Our ethos from day one with FITCH was to showcase 100 per cent natural, real ingredients and develop craft around producing flavoursome and healthy soft drinks. We were bored of the soft drinks available on the market and with companies taking shortcuts around ingredients.” By that summer they had sold their first can of Cold Brew Coffee made from purified water and ethically-sourced, natural ingredients. So the opportunity to enter the US market was serendipitous, but one which didn’t come with a bucketful of challenges, even though this wasn’t Fitch’s first foray overseas with the brand already exporting to Spain, France, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The US push is with distributor KeHE and will see Fitch’s full range of products available in the world’s number one cold brew market, with KeHE supplying more than 30,000 stores across the North America. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss added, “Keeping global trade flowing is more important than ever for businesses like FITCH Brew Co. I am proud of our continued work to support UK exporters during this challenging time.

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“This is a great example of how demand in the US for UK food and drink is booming and the industry is one of many that will feel the positive impact of a free trade agreement.” However, the business is not resting on this success or the estimates of a 300% increase in turnover. The soft drinks company has two new products currently in development, with plans underway to enter more markets and scale-up production. We wish all three Deeley’s every success in their expansion and look forward to catching up in the future to see how Fitch’s incredible rise has continued.

This is a great example of how “ demand in the US for UK food and drink is booming and the industry is one of many that will feel the positive impact of a free trade agreement

Andy Deeley Fitch Brew Co

 info@fitchbrewco.com  07916 148878  https://fitchbrewco.com

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*Offer is only available on first time bookings and only applies to one full or half day room hire.


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SALES TRAINING ✔,WE’VE DONE THAT…. HAVE YOU REALLY? It’s a familiar response that Nick Hughes of Dynamic Coach hears almost daily. Were businesses have invested in a sales training programme – he questions how businesses are facing up to the new challenges such as the rise of Big Data, a new breed of better-informed buyers, dynamic cloud-based CRM and pipeline management etc, meaning that the flexibility and agility of commercial people is being challenged like never before and that’s before we consider the challenges that Covid-19 has brought. Written by: Nick Hughes of Dynamic Coach interviewed by Lisa Benson of B Engaging marketing

Nick explains that the challenges businesses and sales teams are facing in this forever changing world is being heavily influenced by our own consumer experiences. What is happening in our personal “sales” journeys, is now starting to feature in our business experiences i.e. who can deliver faster, at a lower unit cost, with less human intervention are succeeding. Think of Uber, Amazon, Purple Bricks and numerous online professional services you don’t even have to leave home for or speak to a human for now! The need to establish a definable value proposition over your competitors will grow exponentially and businesses that can harness these elements quickly and can deliver their commercial proposition effectively, are more likely to outpace in their market growth and competitors. This is a key element of the training supplied through Dynamic Coach.

HOW DID DYNAMIC COACH COME ABOUT? Nick explains, in his previous roles, all too often, when he inherited commercial teams, the business leader often said “we had someone in to provide training a few years ago”, unfortunately Nick’s retort was often “there is little evidence of a quality programme embedded in the sales process”. A situation that became all too familiar to Nick when he engaged with other businesses too. Having experienced this disconnect between the quality of salespeople, the sales process, coupled with a new breed of more competent buyers, who were using ever more sophisticated tactics. He identified a gap in the market for a programme to address WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

such challenges, which included: 1. A programme delivered by someone who had extensive commercial experience - not just a “professional trainer” they had been there seen it and done it – they were relevant to the commercial challenges. 2. A programme that focussed on the behavioural challenges required to keep pace with the changing market.

at the heart of Dynamic “ Coach is an ethos in delivering

an agile programme of sales and commercial training that allows businesses to change the way they go to market Nick Hughes of Dynamic Coach

specific to just one sector why is this? The sales cycle whether is it be long or short is basically the same. Product or service offerings do vary and that’s where we engage with the client to tailor specific elements of package to the client’s sector, but fundamentally sales are the same. What is your ideal client? Since our inception the client base has varied from 2 to over 20 in a team, the key is the desire for the business to invest appropriately for them and we help establish the most effective way of doing that. Where did the company name come from? Quite simple really, at the heart of Dynamic Coach is an ethos in delivering an agile programme of sales and commercial training that allows businesses to change the way they go to market, whether it be product or serviced based. We help businesses deliver Dynamic outcomes for the performance, hence the name. Nick is delivering several masterclasses throughout this year on a number of topics centred around sales and sales development for B4 as well as being a speaker at Bio2020, be sure to catch one of his talks.

3. A programme that could harness data, pipeline creation tools and deliver a measured benefit through creating a value proposition. 4. A coaching ethic for the entire team to embed the training and processes – creating longevity in the return on investment by the business. With no one supplier offering these elements centred around sales fundamentals - Dynamic Coach was born! Tell me about Dynamic Coach’s client base, it is not

 nick@dynamiccoach.co.uk  07834 491 634  www.dynamiccoach.co.uk

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More than a theatre A home for a new generation of creativity Where young people from all backgrounds come together to explore, perform, learn, discover and have fun

Proud to be a NEXUS Partner, with thanks to Oxford Bus Company www.pegasustheatre.org.uk 01865 812 150 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RE


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FREETHS SOLICITORS EXPANDS ITS REAL ESTATE TEAM WITH NEW HIRES Freeths is delighted to announce it has recruited two property lawyers into its highly regarded Oxfordshire commercial property team, which is ranked as one of the South East’s Top Teams for commercial property work by The Legal 500, a leading UK legal directory. Written by: Sian Hewitt, Freeths Solicitors

Philip Gray: Partner - Commercial Property Team

Kelly Sawyer: Associate - Commercial Property Team

Recruiting Philip and Kelly into the firm’s commercial property team will “ provide our business clients not just with the legal advice and guidance they will need with their property matters but also with their energy and enthusiasm to help businesses achieve their strategic objectives Patrick Whetter, partner and head of commercial property at Freeths, Oxford

Philip Gray joins the firm’s commercial property team as a partner having previously worked at Irwin Mitchell LLP. He qualified in 2001 and has specialised exclusively in commercial property law. Philip has a wide range of experience of all areas of non-contentious commercial property work. He has worked extensively for both landlords and tenants on all leasehold matters; real estate finance; and advising on the property elements of corporate acquisitions and disposals. Philip’s particular strength is advising corporate occupiers on the acquisition and management of their property portfolios; offering businesses a tailored & sector-specific service which focuses on the business’s own strategic property requirements rather than generic legal input. Also joining the firm with Philip Gray is Kelly Sawyer, who joins as an Associate in the commercial property team and has worked with Philip at Irwin Mitchell since qualifying in July 2018. Kelly specialises in leasehold, real estate finance,

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and she will be supporting Philip on a day-to-day basis. Patrick Whetter, partner and head of commercial property at Freeths in Oxford, said: “It is great news to be able to announce the arrival of Philip and Kelly to Freeths. Recruiting Philip and Kelly into the firm’s commercial property team will provide our business clients not just with the legal advice and guidance they will need with their property matters but also with their energy and enthusiasm to help businesses achieve their strategic objectives. Their knowledge, experience, and expertise will be extremely valuable to clients.”

    

philip.gray@freeths.co.uk 01865 781 170 kelly.sawyer@freeths.co.uk 01865 781 080 www.freeths.co.uk

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BLENHEIM PALACE:

GETTING THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES Blenheim Palace has been closed for nearly a month as I write this, except for free entry to the Park for our local community. Our construction sites remain closed and the Mineral Water plant is mostly closed. So, just as it has for many of you, we have seen revenue fall to zero in many of our businesses. Written by: Dominic Hare Photography by: Blenheim Palace

The Park and Palace are being maintained by mixed continuity teams, one for inside the Palace and one for out in the Park. The focus is on caring for livestock and keeping the Park in good condition. We also have a well-resourced security team in place! Remote working, while intrinsically frustrating for some of us, is working very well (we practiced this hard over the last few months) and we have a new in-house mail management system which serves up our paper post onto our computers – great use of Power Automate in Office 365! Our systems are well-tested and many elements of this will be carried into our working lives when normality returns. Several Blenheim staff have lost near relatives and we will of course remember the legendary Paul Duffie (former Administrator of the Palace) in an appropriate way when permitted. The world feels smaller and less colourful without him. We have been grateful for the chance to support a wide number of community volunteer initiatives in the area, both financially and practically. I feel that the memory of the extraordinary way friends and neighbours have rallied to support each other should last every bit as long as the memory of this vicious

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virus. We share this place with extraordinary people. We now find ourselves planning and delivering the following initiatives:

has been astonishing, and we support while being simultaneously in awe of our staff and our partners. These include:

SUPPORTING OUR STAFF

• Building the thehelphub.co.uk site for the remarkable Ruth Chalenor and funding operations (the latter with our great friends at Owen Mumford), this site has been a significant part of Woodstock and Bladon community support for vulnerable and isolated people and also links a significant number of trained counsellors giving free support sessions to those who need it – this is now national with over 200 counsellors online.

The response of our teams has been humbling. Nearly 80% of our people are furloughed, with the balance taking pay cuts – and I continue to be overwhelmed by offers of help and encouragement by Blenheim people. For our part, we have added an extra Hardship Fund to our package of support and have just launched a scheme to pay for online training courses for those who wish to use the time positively – courses on Udemy and LinkedIn Learning ranging from beer making to coding! All voluntary and I am now choosing mine. It will involve cake… The number of virtual pubs springing up is testament to the sense of community shared here. The biggest gifts we can give our people is to be there to bring them back and encourage them to upgrade all personal skills which excite them.

• Supporting with a vehicle loan the Long Hanborough COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group, who provide food and other support to vulnerable/isolated people. We have just added to this the supply of seeds and pots for distribution through Long Hanborough for an online growing competition.

SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY NOW

• We are working on a voluntary delivery infrastructure for Woodstock shops to deliver pre-ordered goods to the area and are now email marketing all local online businesses to our database.

We have engaged in several initiatives, although it must be said that the voluntary community response

• Our chefs are working with food banks to cook meals for a group of vulnerable people.

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• Bottled Water supplied to NHS staff, office space provided to dislocated key workers, food products donated to Food Banks and ongoing distribution of educational resources online.

HELPING OUR COMMUNITY BOUNCE BACK As an estate, we are very exposed to the success of the very local economy; it in turn is very dependent on us. We will be focussing on promoting Woodstock businesses, spending our money locally, keeping people employed, pushing on with truly affordable housing (needed now more than ever) and continuing to work with the community organisations we currently support in the midst of the crisis but which I think will have a longer role. It is a long game but our ability to deliver both a form of local QE but also to bring high spending visitors to the local area will be a key to our shared ongoing success and the most important thing we do for our neighbours.

MAKING USE OF THE SHUTDOWN On shutdown, we set up three teams to take advantage of the strange moment to allow us to

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rethink every element of the way we practically do our business. Like most businesses, we are the product of iteration and incremental changes. Attempts to blue-sky think or zero-base plan generally struggle to gain momentum. But we now have a unique opportunity to reset ourselves to deliver the required customer outcomes in wholly new ways and bring our teams back into those new systems.

As an estate, we are “very exposed to the

success of the very local economy; it in turn is very dependent on us

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ALIGNING OURSELVES TO WHAT THE WORLD WILL WANT GOING FORWARD The world is changing, and we will have to be ready for the new reality both on re-opening and in the longer term. We cannot assume that people will always be so willing to cross the world to see us, or will view rental properties or eat food onsite in the same way. Or that local people will want to see large numbers of tourists lured onto Woodstock High Street, or that employees will be keen to do face to face work. The world is changing – but Blenheim (that most adaptable of institutions) will change faster.

Dominic Hare, Blenheim Palace

This is the exciting opportunity within this enforced shutdown, and we have to take full advantage of it. Those teams use Agile techniques to quickly solve problems and propose/deliver highly effective and simple working solutions.

 customerservice@blenheimpalace.com  01993 810 530  www.blenheimpalace.com

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How to protect staff & customers during Everything for the Workplace social distancing As we prepare for the next level of control over the prevention and spread of Covid-19, many businesses will start to re-open but with strict social distancing measures in place. Many companies have already begun preparing for these measures, including installing signage, adding floor stickers or wall markers and stocking up on provisions such as hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes. Collectively, these measures will all help protect your staff and customers, serving as a daily reminder to stick to the guidelines and help us return to our daily working lives safely. Written by: Darren Aston

Floor Markers & Chevrons

Entrance Signs & Banners

One of the easiest ways to remind your staff and visitors to practise social distancing is to use floor markers. They serve as a visual and practical reminder for everyone to keep within the 2m (6ft) safe distance from each other. Our floor graphics come in a range of 5 bright, eye-catching colours and a variety of designs and sizes.

Remind your customers of social distancing measures with our wide range of signage and banners, suitable for all businesses. Help provide guidance and reminders about hand hygiene and germ prevention with signage for bathroom and kitchen areas. Or use signage outside to help customers queue safely.

Our social distancing floor markers are printed on anti-slip, self-adhesive vinyl and are easy to use. They can be used on virtually any surface too. Social distancing floor chevrons are also available to guide customers in one direction through your workplace, helping the flow of traffic.

Our social distancing banners are weather and fireproof and provide a large visual reminder before entering for everyone to observe social distancing measures. With many different sizes and variations available, you will find the right signage to help both staff and customers follow social distancing guidelines easily.

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Wall Markers & Stickers

Plastic Protection Screens

By utilising wall markers and stickers around your workplace, you can provide eye-level guidance on the 2m (6ft) social distancing. Wall markers can be particularly useful on stairwells, tunnels or high traffic areas where it can be difficult to stick markers to the floor. They can be printed in a variety of colours.

Heavy duty protective counter screens, desk dividers and protective sneeze guards to help keep your employees and customers. safe Our premium screens are available with or without a cut out.

Social distancing stickers are also useful in areas such as washrooms or canteens, serving as a reminder on hand washing or where to queue safely. Download our full social distancing range brochure at www.aston-james.co.uk/social-distancing

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• Create a physical barrier • Place on checkouts, tills & counters Prevent the spread of germs • Heavy duty products, made in the UK

Everything for the Workplace

 sales@aston-james.co.uk  01993 706 900  www.aston-james.co.uk

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Alice Schmidt - AS Consulting

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR A BETTER WORLD

Covid-19 has turned the world on its head. There has been considerable suffering as a direct result of the epidemic, as well as due to the unprecedented measures taken in response. Nevertheless, as a global community we seem to have been successful in preventing the worst. Change is possible and we can make it happen: we have insight, resilience and tools to address the next crisis. Written by: Alice Schmidt - AS Consulting

Covid-19 has come with a great range of social and environmental benefits. Some of these present excellent opportunities for creating a better world, a world that is more sustainable and more just, and thus better fit for the future than our ‘old normal’. Here is an overview:

We now understand what really matters

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As a society we are learning to value what really matters, not just what has a (high) price This includes health, social contacts, a healthy environment, fresh food, reliable energy and data systems, among others.

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The current crisis has made the global importance of public health drastically clear. The case for investing in health no longer has to be argued. Countries around the globe have “learnt the hard lesson that pandemics can destroy the global economy and cost trillions. Investing in health is investing in the economy.”

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The experience of scarcity at the beginning of the lockdown – even if just perceived due to empty supermarket shelves that were quickly restocked – has been important to increase people’s appreciation of everyday items such as food (or toilet paper). Such appreciation may go some way in more conscious consumption and reducing waste.

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As households have gotten used to cooking more meals at home, they have started appreciating the taste of fresh food. Baking bread has become a new favourite pastime for many people locked indoors and without busy schedules. This, coupled with increased attention to the origin and health impacts of foods will likely contribute to healthier eating habits for some time to come.

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While we have been called to respect “social” distancing, we have been doing the opposite. Social distancing is a misnomer: keeping a physical distance arguably has brought us closer than before. WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

We have understood that what matters most in times of crisis is social support through friends, families, networks or even strangers.

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Importantly, we have realized that not consuming does not kill us. Many people have started questioning their fast fashion habits, for example, realizing that purchase decisions are rarely made out of necessity, and often simply out of boredom. A dent in consumerism and a move towards a circular economy is within reach.

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Families have had more time for each other. For some, this has led to revelations about the relative importance of work vis-à-vis other aspects of life.

Social justice is back on scene

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We have started to understand how much we depend on people in some of the most underpaid and previously under-appreciated professions, from garbage collectors to supermarket workers. If they went on strike or were unable to work, our world would quickly collapse (in contrast to many other professions, such as lobbyists, which we can easily do without – see this article for an excellent analysis on why garbage collectors should earn more than bankers).

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Tougher times for tax avoiders seem to be on the horizon. Tax avoidance by large multinationals means that societies miss out on billions of Euros. Denmark and Poland have taken a principled approach by refusing to bail out companies that are not paying fair tax. In the future, this could incentivise companies to pay a fair share back to society.

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The Covid crisis has many gender aspects. On the opportunity side it has shown that female leaders easily outperform their male peers when it comes to responding quickly, effectively and with the bigger picture in mind. Female leaders can be trusted to help sort us out in future crises as well.

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The Covid crisis has re-invigorated the discussion about a universal basic income, including calls by over 500 political leaders and academics to create a fairer society.

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Stressed parents struggling to work from home while home schooling their children now appreciate the herculean task of educators.

A temporary drop in air pollution has heightened our senses

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Around the world, we have been giving standing ovations to health workers and others at the frontline for doing their job, allowing the rest of us to stay in the safe comfort of our homes. Let’s keep saying ‘thank you’ as a habit. The essential contributions by those caring for the sick and elderly start being recognised. In the midst of the crisis, Austria’s government flew in hundreds of care workers from Bulgaria and Romania to prevent an additional crisis in health and care before switching to a more sustainable night train scheme more recently.

Much more than before, there is now widespread recognition that air pollution is bad for human health. Long before Covid, air pollution has been killing 20,000 people every day. We now know that it also exacerbates Covid-19: people living in areas with higher air pollution are also more likely to catch Covid and die from it.

Due to the great pause in economic and social activity, air pollution has been dropping. For example, average concentration of nitrogen oxide went down considerably around Northern Italy following its lockdown. This shows what is possible once we care to change the system.

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Delhi has seen blue skies for the first time in decades. Fewer cars on the road and dirty factories in operation have meant that we got to experience what cleaner air smells and tastes like. This has heightened our senses and increased our distaste for the usual levels of pollution.

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Recognising the link between air pollution and Covid as well as health more broadly, some cities have started to re-invigorate efforts towards less polluting forms of transport. Milan, for example, a city gravely affected by the pandemic, now has one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis. Following the example of Milan and Berlin, the city of Brussels has been giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists in inner city areas from early May onwards, setting a 20 kilometer per hour speed limits for motor vehicles.

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For lack of alternatives, many people who previously did not take much interest in that proverbial walk in the park have started running or walking in nature, discovering a new favourite pastime which is likely to last longer than the epidemic. This benefits both their physical and mental health, and it makes them appreciate the need for environmental protection just that bit more.

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Those of us who have always enjoyed hikes through forests and mountains have been thrilled to be able to enjoy nature without the nasty background noise of planes. Noise pollution certainly will not be missed when plane travel picks up again, making calls for less noisy and more fuel efficient aviation technology louder and stronger.

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Reduced noise pollution has been appreciated by birds as well, and we humans have been enjoying their song like never before.

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Covid has been providing relief for wild animals – not just those that now do not get eaten (given that we have woken up to the link between animal and human disease). Reduced human activity and less noise, chemical and light pollution has been giving wild animals a welcome respite and us an opportunity to marvel at them.

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Venice, a city infamous for unsustainable levels of tourism, had time to calm down and see its waterways clear, thus revealing its real beauty in an unprecedented manner. It is just one example of a city the beauty of which we have been able to appreciate more fully than before, even if from a distance. Future-fit leaders link bailout and economic stimulus packages to forward looking (= green, socially just) policies

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Enlightened political leaders are realising that they can “walk and chew gum at the same time”. In other words, the now understand that win-wins across the social, environmental and economic spheres can be created by imposing environmental conditions for bailouts, supporting the development of green jobs and, most importantly, 54

by ceasing to use taxpayer money to support the fossil fuel industry.

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In Amsterdam, the doughnut has been adopted as a policy to re-build the economy in a post-Covid world, making it greener and fairer for society.

After initial hick-ups and competition for supplies, countries started supporting each other in important ways. For example, Covid-19 patients who could not get a bed in overcrowded hospitals in France or Italy were treated in Germany. Several other countries, such as Luxembourg, also chipped in.

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Many governments, including Austria, have tied airline bailouts to environmental conditions such as cutting the aviation industry’s carbon footprint.

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Taking a leadership role in Asia, South Korea is embracing a green deal for Covid recovery: a recent election during the Covid crisis reconfirmed a government that has a green deal modelled on the EU.

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The European Parliament called on the European Commission to propose a recovery and reconstruction package that has the Green Deal at its core. The Commission agreed, stating that “the European Green Deal is not a luxury, but a lifeline” to get out of the corona crisis.

Many “ governments,

including Austria, have tied airline bailouts to environmental conditions such as cutting the aviation industry’s carbon footprint.. Alice Schmidt

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The New York State government announced the passage of an “Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act” to speed up clean energy projects to combat climate change and help jumpstart economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

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In contrast to the 2008 financial crisis, investors today have plentiful options to invest in a green recovery.

We now get the point of global solidarity: we are all in this together

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It has dawned on most people that global crises cannot be solved by any country, government or nation state in isolation. This is true for Covid-19 as much as it is for the climate crisis.

In some cases, poorer countries were supporting their richer peers. For example, Cuban doctors flew in to support the Italian healthcare system when the latter was in dire need. Europe, who sent scientists to help fight the virus in China earlier this year, consequently received the same kind of support in return.

Some corporates demonstrate real social responsibility through free services and innovation

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While some companies have used the epidemic to greenwash (and social-wash) their actions, others have demonstrated that they mean business when talking about corporate social responsibility.

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For example, companies such as Uber have committed to giving back to society by offering their services for free to health workers, first responders and local businesses in need.

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And then there were those that shifted from production of arguably less socially desirable goods, such as fast fashion or perfumes, to production of the stuff that really matters in a health epidemic, such as disinfectant, masks or other protective equipment, lead the way.

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Various restaurants have been providing free meals to health and other frontline workers. Many restaurants, for example in the UK, have been offering significant discounts for staff working in the national health service.

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In the US, fast food chains have been giving away free food to frontline workers.

We keep hearing about fascinating innovations, such as 3D-printing of respirators. It is these companies - going back to basics and trying to serve people what they really need - that will be fit for the future.

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In France, innovation has meant that highspeed trains have been used to transport Covid patients from areas where hospital beds were limited to places with more capacity. For both patients and medical staff this experience has been less stressful than transport via helicopters or planes.

There is a promise for a better work-life balance

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Covid has helped societies leapfrog into a more digital state of being. Many who previously struggled to adopt digital tools had no choice but to do so, and they have learned to appreciate the many possibilities on offer, from WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM


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conducting business meetings to hanging out with loved ones.

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Following the Covid experience, companies have little excuse for not granting any flexibility and work from home to their employees. More flexible work schedules and work from home can be a big relief for stressed parents and others juggling multiple responsibilities.

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The crisis has shown us that we can do without the excessive amounts of business travel we had gotten used to. While face-to-face meetings can be great sometimes, they are usually not necessary. This will benefit our carbon footprint as much as our work-life balance.

Communities have passed the crisis test

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Covid has been a test for community resilience – and many communities have passed it with flying colours. Communities that demonstrate resilience to one crisis will likely be resilient to other crisis in the future. Often resilience is a function of information management and cooperation. Both have worked well in many communities.

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In many communities, younger community members have been running errands for the elderly and other people at high risk. WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

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In neighbourhoods across countries people have been singing and making music together from their balconies in order to help each other through hard times.

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People have also been showing solidarity with small local enterprises by giving them advances and buying vouchers.

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Many local shops managed to set up online sales services within just days of lockdown, thus being able to continue catering to their communities and reducing the risk of cannibalization from large online retailers.

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Limiting our ability to travel far, Covid has made us appreciate the small wonders close to home. We are discovering alleys, parks and towns not far from where we live, wondering why we have not been there before.

We can do it This is just the beginning. People are getting more and more interested in sustainable lifestyles. A great way to measure this is googling practice: it turns out, over the past few months, search interest in “How to live a sustainable lifestyle” has increased by more than 4,550%. The point is not to diminish the suffering and inconvenience the epidemic has caused but to

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understand what it can teach us. Let’s not waste this crisis, let’s harness its lessons and use the opportunities it has brought to address other important societal challenges, such as the global climate and social equity crises. We have no time to lose. Which opportunities have I missed? Please share them here – we can easily extent the list to 100 opportunities. PS: one of the added bonuses has been that actually seeing a plane becomes as exciting as it has been many decades ago. Planes will come back, that’s for sure, let’s hope that they will be cleaner and less noisy than their pre-Covid versions.

ALICE SCHMIDT CONSULTING  office@aliceschmidt.at  www.aliceschmidt.at  www.linkedin.com/in/aliceschmidt 55


While the ongoing social and “ psychological impact is yet to be truly measured and addressed since the start of the large scale migration to home working, the immediate necessity for technology has taken priority so that businesses can stay operational as they come to terms with remote working

Has Business & IT Changed Forever? The enforced lockdown due to the Coronavirus has placed a new demand for IT systems and technology like never before. Many businesses have had no choice but to transition themselves from process-driven central offices to goal-driven remote working collectives. Written by: Neill Lawson-Smith FBCS

Naturally, this sudden change has businesses asking questions about how they operate, for example: *Is the business able to work in a fully distributed way without the close bonds of a single location? *Has the company got the IT maturity to be able to smoothly and effectively transition from centralised to distributed in less than three weeks? *What new issues have arisen and are now taking priority for staff and management? *Is there sufficient thought and capacity to cope with the shattered perimeters of distance working?

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While the ongoing social and psychological impact is yet to be truly measured and addressed since the start of the large scale migration to home working, the immediate necessity for technology has taken priority so that businesses can stay operational as they come to terms with remote working. It is not surprising that this current COVID-19 scenario has little planning or rehearsal, and thus the inevitable scramble for laptops indicated that preparations were almost non-existent. The widespread lack of development and training for remote working has created various IT challenges and demands. These new demands have highlighted weaknesses and gaps in many businesses’ IT infrastructure. Typically from our experience, these demands are present due

to poorly performing hardware, inflexible software configurations and most critically internet access and speed. CIS are fortunate in that many of our clients utilise the “Remote Virtual Work” technology hosted in our secure UK data centre, the whole purpose of which is to allow flexible and easy to remote access IT systems without compromises. However, the broader issues do not stop at getting access to your IT systems. Many IT systems and office networks have not thought through the spread of data across a vast geography. Therefore there is a very high chance that cyber security and electronic data protection is also on the back foot. Cyber criminals, however, are using this time of uncertainty to their advantage, increasing their activities to exploit

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and hold companies to e-ransom. There are several security systems that CIS provide that would address these types of risks; Multifactor Authentication, Secure Laptop Encryption and Offsite Backup and Replication, to name a few. As time progresses, employees for many businesses are now settling down and getting used with the ability to function at home effectively. New skills will have been acquired in video conferencing and distributed document sharing. Ultimately, businesses will come to realise that there are better and more efficient ways of working due to the following reasons: • Fewer interruptions from colleagues • Less stress and costs of travelling to and from work • More relaxed home environments with fewer time constraints Many people are now looking at their homes differently, potentially re-organising furniture, buying a more comfortable chair for their home desks, and generally making their home office/desk akin to their typical preferred working environment. There will no doubt be several questions when this pandemic is subsiding as to whether the newly established working from home is here to stay as a more permanent basis rather than just the odd day here and there. If the change is here to stay, solutions will need to take into account the loss of human social contact

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staff typically have with their colleagues. Many people will miss the office ‘water-cooler’ to chat or the breakout room where they would usually catch up at lunchtimes and breaks. The social aspect to work, however fragmented and transitory those relationships are, still hold value and will need to be maintained if businesses want to strengthen their team bond.

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optimally while we work remotely. To Access our FREE help, please visit microsite.cisltd.com Or call CIS on 01367 248 700.

In short, while the world adjusts to the new way of working, many businesses will take advantage of this time to rethink their business strategy. Organisations big and small will be looking favourably at improving their IT infrastructure, as we have now seen the importance technology has had while businesses are trying to keep operations running amidst the challenges brought by COVID 19. Business and IT have already changed forever; many people are now seeing the real advantages that technology can bring to organisations, especially when uncertainty is a significant factor.

Have you experienced IT challenges due to Coronavirus? If your business is experiencing any IT challenges due to the Coronavirus and sudden the shift to remote working, CIS is conducting FREE one-to-one IT surgeries to help out during this uncertain time.

We have also created some useful surveys which may help you to discover if your business is at risk from external threats or if your business is working

 solutions@cisltd.com  01367 700 555  www.cisltd.com

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Oxfordshire businesses show flexibility and adaptability in response to the coronavirus crisis Rod Macrae has been hearing about the way businesses have responded to the challenge of COVID-19 – and the support available for SMEs from OxLEP. Written by: Rod Macrae

Savona - Oxford Lockdown team

Ken Knowland

There is no denying the major impact the coronavirus lockdown has had on businesses of every size and in every sector. Whilst the health battle continues, it is clear that the consequences for business are with us for months and perhaps sadly, years to come.

place it always has been to do business.”

OxLEP, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, has a role to play in helping businesses to weather this serious storm. For some enterprises, everything is on hold, others are working well below capacity and a few finding demand has gone through the roof. We live in strange times.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery, which makes gin and whisky, is experiencing positive and negative impacts all at once. It has had to furlough staff and halt most of its production. But not all of it. According to Tagore Ramoutar, its managing director and founder, making decisions early was essential: “We have decided to carry on making whisky. That’s because it takes 3 years to mature, so nothing will be sold until at least 2023. That’s not an innovation, but it is good business. We can’t afford to stop producing now because it will affect our sales in future.”

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP believes that whatever the impact, the county’s economy will ultimately recover as the crisis eases: “We are home to some of the world’s most-innovative companies, respected academics, passionate entrepreneurs and small business community. Our goal is to help in accelerating our economic recovery for the benefit of everyone, both residents and businesses.” “Oxfordshire’s innovation has already shown itself in the way people have adapted and responded” he explained. “For now, showing flexibility and adapting where possible is as much as any business can do. We can’t be sure of the timing, but this crisis will come to an end and Oxfordshire will be the great 58

The kind of innovations emerging from the severe slow down range from companies creating new products or markets to scaling up or downsizing in line with demand.

The biggest change for them has been an entirely new product – hand sanitiser for the health and care sectors. “We produce alcohol something essential for sanitisation” Tagore explained. “There is a massive need and we have been able to help by producing thousands of units. In fact, production has been relatively easy, but the most difficult thing is getting the containers. We are sourcing plastic containers from wherever we can.” Despite the interruption, Oxford Artisan Distillery is

Sanitiser production at The Oxford Artisan Distillery

going ahead with a further round of fundraising from its investors in September, demonstrating confidence in its future. Adaptation has been a big part of the response too, at Kidlington-based food suppliers Savona. They experienced an almost instantaneous 75% drop in orders from the professional catering, pub and restaurant industries. Savona’s chairman, Ken Knowland, said “By thinking flexibly, we have found new markets. Overnight, we changed from having fairly large clients paying on account to taking payments online. It needed a ‘quick ‘fix’ to the way we take orders and payments online, but it has brought us new customers. Those include small scale retailers, a village buying group and a pub group using their kitchens as a food hub for their local communities.” Ken Knowland believes the virus will change Oxfordshire’s businesses with consumers behaving differently once restrictions are lifted. “Businesses who don’t respond to the change will miss out. One thing is certain and that is businesses which don’t adapt to change will find their competitors will leave them standing.”

HELP AND SUPPORT WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM


Existing OxLEP programmes We encourage all businesses in Oxfordshire to look into our programmes and contact us if you feel you can benefit from them. We want to ensure all businesses can claim the grants and reliefs they are entitled to at this time. eScalate: A programme for growing businesses with scale-up potential. It also supports SMEs that are social enterprise, social entrepreneurs, enterprising charities and other purposeful businesses committed to enabling positive social and environmental impact.

Helen Brind (Right) celebrating business stories Distillery produced sanitiser ready for despatch

“ By thinking

flexibly, we have found new markets

Innovation Support for Business (ISfB): ISfB is a programme designed to drive and commercialise the innovative business ideas of Oxfordshire’s SMEs and entrepreneurs. If you are doing things differently, adapting or changing the way you work in response to coronavirus, then this is innovative idea. Talk to the team and see if you can apply for grants or get support. Skills for Business: Skills for Business provides practical support to small to medium-sized businesses to identify and evaluate their skills and learning needs including upskilling current staff.

Ken Knowland, Savona’s Chairman

To find out more about help and support from OxLEP Business www.oxfordshirelep.com

AVAILABLE FROM OXLEP

relevant national support initiatives and advice.

Amidst the hiatus and worry, there is an opportunity to look closely at how your business is done and to look at new skills, new approaches and new opportunities. There is a range of support for SME businesses to help you through the current economic crisis and to begin looking ahead according to Nigel Tipple:

You can sign up to the support programme for guidance on:

“We have a critical COVID-19 support package and our existing support programmes like ISfB and eScalate have adapted to delivery online. There are workshops and other support from several of our programmes on topics ranging from businesses resilience, cash flow, cost reduction and diversification.”

Regional redeployment service:

“The enforced down time does open up the potential to acquire new business skills or to get advice about future plans” he said.

CRITICAL COVID-19 SUPPORT PROGRAMME To help businesses impacted by the Coronavirus, OxLEP Business is moving quickly to provide oneto-one; one-to-many and peer-to-peer support. That will include signposting people to the most WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

• • • •

Business resilience measures A better management of cash flow Implement cost reductions Looking at ways to diversify your business

If you have recently been made redundant, this service can match you with new work in sectors experiencing a surge in employment demand such as: • • • •

Food retail Social care Logistics and distribution Working with Adviza, OxLEP Skills is promoting the service which engages employers needing to make redundancies to facilitate a smooth transition for employees into new work.

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enquiries@oxfordshirebusinesssupport.co.uk 01865 897 181 www.oxfordshirebusinesssupport.co.uk @OxLEPBusiness 59


Stronger together: Navigating the challenges of local businesses in transition Ensuring that a limited management and leadership team is optimised to engage with and support a growing workforce is a key aspect to unlocking future potential, says Giles Orr, Head of CPD, Consultancy and Training at Oxford Brookes Business School. Written by: Giles Orr Photography by: Oxford Brookes University

One year ago, an Oxfordshire business owner challenged Oxford Brookes Business School to work more closely with local businesses, using its expertise to help them grow. A pilot project aimed at supporting organisations experiencing growth challenges was launched and local business leaders were recruited to participate. The initial group of nine participants, drawn from the manufacturing, service and charity sectors participated in a year-long rolling action learning programme. They received input from Oxford Brookes academics on a range of relevant topics and the opportunity to develop skills in analysing problems and co-creating solutions.

A gap in the support available Giles says “The Scale Up Network group is now wellestablished and has created a lasting and trusted peer-to-peer development group for the participants. “Many small and medium-sized organisations face issues around growth and while other sources of support currently exist to address access to finance and improve business operations, we were being told there was a gap in the support currently available. “Our Scale Up workshops enable local leaders of

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growing organisations to jointly explore common issues around management and leadership, cocreate solutions and test them out. “At Oxford Brookes Business School we have substantial experience and knowledge in solving business problems, so combining this with professional, facilitated support, participants use peer-to-peer learning to solve problems together.

The challenges we face “are often shared; there is lots we can learn from each other

Engagement, at Oxford-based software development consultancy firm 67 Bricks is a member of the first Network group. The company wanted to transition from an agile startup company, to an established small-medium business. Jennifer explains: “At 67 Bricks we had grown organically year-on-year but we recognised that our clients from the publishing industry were facing a period of uncertainty and change and a significant opportunity existed to help them survive and thrive. “To do this at scale we knew we would need to become more robust as a company and so upon joining the programme were entering a dedicated period of planned change and growth.

“We have seen organisational improvements and developments that have emerged in response to support and advice from the Network.”

“Specifically, it was important for us to understand how to retain the culture that early employees loved and made us unique, how to implement appropriate lightweight processes without stifling the creativity, autonomy and agility of our staff and how to hire the best people in the extremely competitive software development space.”

“The challenges we face are often shared; there is lots we can learn from each other.”

Thought leadership and practical ideas

Jennifer Schivas, Head of Strategy and Industry

Jennifer says that joining the Scale Up Network has

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it was important for us to understand “ Specifically, how to retain the culture that early employees loved and made us unique, how to implement appropriate lightweight processes without stifling the creativity, autonomy and agility of our staff and how to hire the best people in the extremely competitive software development space.

Jennifer Schivas, 67 Bricks

Jennifer Schivas, Head of Strategy and Industry Engagement, at 67 Bricks

allowed her the opportunity to meet and learn from other business leaders in Oxfordshire. Gaining formal knowledge of best practice and thought leadership around both business and management from Oxford Brookes staff are just some of the benefits she’s gained, as well as practical ideas to put into action.

within the business. However, it’s not only a renewed understanding of the challenges around scaling-up a business that they’ve gained, but also of the importance of coming together with fellow business leaders to share problems and work out solutions together.

Jennifer reflects, “The group formed a close connection with each other right from the start, so there was a real sense of trust.

“I have personally gained a lot from the interactions with the group, they are without exception intelligent, talented, passionate and driven. I’ve come away with a renewed understanding that, yes, scaling up a business is challenging and it’s vital to have people to share the highs and lows with.

“The sessions are a safe space to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by our businesses openly, this allows members to ask the right questions and really help each other get to the root of their issues. “One thing I’ve found interesting is that because the group are all from different industries we are forced to discuss our business challenges without any industry specific “jargon”. In doing so it becomes clear that the challenges we face are often shared by those in seemingly very different industries and business types, and there is lots we can learn from each other.” Since joining the Scale Up network, Jennifer and her team have started to make positive changes

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“I also have an increased confidence that as a company we are caring about and prioritising the right things and have the skills and drive to make the changes we need to grow.”

The programme will commence in September 2020. If you are interested in applying, please submit this application form or email nrattle@brookes. ac.uk for further information. In response to the global pandemic, Oxford Brookes Business School is offering a range of short, free webinars to help organisations and individuals. For more information see the Oxford Brookes Business School website. Giles Orr, Head of CPD, Consultancy and Training at Oxford Brookes Business School, spoke at the Virtual Business in Oxford (BIO) event about the Scale Up Network. See the talk on the B4 YouTube channel here. www.youtube.com/user/b4businesstv

Applications open for new 2020 Network members Based on the success of the pilot programme, Oxford Brookes is pleased to announce that applications are currently open to join a new cohort of Scale Up organisations to work together to address common and shared issues.

 commercialservices@brookes.ac.uk  +44(0)1865 485797  www.brookes.ac.uk/business/employers/scale-up/

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Ellard Outloud Ltd Launches

New Marketing Recovery Package Written by: Jon Ellard

While the UK Government is working on getting businesses back up and running, Ellard Outloud Ltd has launched a brand new Marketing Recovery Package to dovetail with these timelines and support Oxfordshire businesses eager to get out ahead of the competition as doors re-open. And everyone looks to navigate this new way of working.

Unfortunately, many small to medium businesses are at a precipice where change needs to be drastic. If you’re not online, you need to be and not just halfway. You have to be all in.

Since going into lockdown, the importance of an online presence has been dramatically emphasised. We’ve seen mega brands suffer drastic defeats, which could have been avoided if they had just migrated online sooner.

Digital requires expertise. To stay at the pace the modern world is demanding, you need to have a constantly upskilling digital marketer in-house, or you need to outsource one.

Before today, digital marketing was still seen as an option for many businesses, with traditional business owners feeling that they could opt-in or out depending on their personal preferences. Today, unfortunately for those who hoped to avoid this transition, the only surety we have for tomorrow is that being online is the only way to safeguard your organisation for an uncertain future. We may not be able to predict how businesses will bounce back, how consumers will behave and how we will interact with one another while we figure out how to get back to work and get on with our lives in the midst of a pandemic. But we do know that our social interactions, our shopping habits and our work is currently safest online. And the race to digitally stand out is heating up.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late For many years there has been a gradual push for businesses to set up online, but the unprecedented situation of the present has put this transition into hyperdrive. It’s not enough to have a website and a social media page. If you don’t have a data-driven digital marketing strategy that is delivering ROI and giving you a platform to sell online, you will not stand up against the competition that is coming.

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It’s going to be a learning curve for all. And quite the adjustment for business owners who are used to running all aspects of the business themselves.

The longer you wait, the better the advantage you give your competition to get ahead of you.

What’s a Marketing Recovery Package? Designed by Jon Ellard, of Ellard Outloud Ltd, the Marketing Recovery Package has been crafted with the understanding that every business is different -- offering different solutions, at different levels of their journey online, and with different goals and dynamics. As a result, the Marketing Recovery Package is completely bespoke for each client, while incorporating all of the elements that every organisation needs to get online and thrive there. Jon has spent some 20 years in digital marketing. Long before many businesses accepted its power, Jon has been guiding them to the digital light. The Marketing Recovery Package is designed for anyone who is not currently getting the results they want from their marketing. What’s Included in the Marketing Recovery Package? Over a 2-4 week period, depending on where your business is currently at, Jon will take you through a digital marketing overhaul; diving deep into the goals of your business and the best online strategies to ensure you meet them. This includes: • Identifying your target audience; • Conducting keyword research to connect you to this audience;

• Identifying the right digital channels and campaign types. With the above results in mind, Jon then gets to work on your website to ensure that any marketing efforts driving people to your site are going to be optimised for conversion by delivering an online experience that gives customers what they want, while guiding them to taking action -- whether it be calling for an inquiry, signing up to a newsletter, or making a purchase. With the foundations and strategy now strong, Jon will set out a four-month digital marketing plan, which he will execute himself over this period to give your business lift-off online. This includes: • SEO (search engine optimisation) • Content marketing • Social media • Google My Business • Digital PR • LinkedIn Lead Generations • Reporting - both weekly and monthly. For full details on the Marketing Recovery Package, visit the services page, here.

The Time is Now Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get in contact with Jon today to learn how the Marketing Recovery Package can boost your business online and get you ahead of your competition. Some businesses may even be eligible for the OxLEP grant. Check out the Marketing Recovery Package page for more information.

 jon@ellardoutloud.co.uk  07812 587 224  www.ellardoutloud.co.uk

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WELL, I’M BACK In the words of Samwise Gamgee: “Well, I’m back.” And the thing is – to my own surprise – I’m back with a bang! Written by: Rowan Waller

As I sit here and type this, precisely one month after lockdown was unceremoniously ended for the Estate Agent industry with about 15 hours’ notice given, I look back on a month that I honestly thought would be devoid of business and see several sales agreed; several sales exchanged; even more Lets agreed than sales; fourteen new Instructions for sale; many more that in terms of instructions to let out; our pipeline is now bigger than it has ever been; and we are just launching a new Swindon operation. I don’t write the above to be boastful; I write it with a genuine amount of surprise in a way, and in the hope that it instils confidence in my fellow Oxfordshire business owners that the market is not on its knees. A month ago, I thought it would have been! I was wrong. And the point is, the property market only functions when the local economy is functioning. So what can I put it down to? Well, I guess, to be honest – but trying to stay modest about things – it hasn’t been down to simple luck (although I do count my blessings that there has been a market to

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Photography by: ???????? ???????????

come back to). Of course, the various government schemes that the new Chancellor introduced were helpful (to me at least), and I have to give credit where it’s due. But honestly, that sort of modest financial help runs out very quickly in a business which runs the sort of overheads that an Estate Agency does, and it is only helpful in any case if it is used in the right way. So, whilst banned from working in the business (as it were) by Boris in his Monday evening address to the nation, back on March 23rd, I then spent the seven weeks of lockdown working on it. That meant business planning; contingency planning; advice sessions with our existing clients; reviewing our marketing strategies; creating new marketing avenues; devising new income streams; overhauling our systems; networking with other local businesses… Lockdown was a gift that meant I could spend more time on the business than ever before. It also meant spending time on myself, which has been equally important – quality time with my family, reading for enjoyment for a change, creative writing, even exercising. It was a time that allowed

me to focus on what is important in life as well as in business, and time to be able to think hard about what the business is there to achieve and the ‘why’ of it. And it was time well used in order that we weren’t caught off our guard when we were suddenly given half a day’s notice that Estate Agents should get back to work, and allowed us to spring back on May 13th with gusto. So yes, like Sam Gamgee, I’m back; but I’m back with a vengeance… and loving it!

 move@wallersestateagents.com  01865 435 175  www.wallersestateagents.com

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Virtual Solutions from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford During this time of unprecedented change, the School is learning to adapt to new ways of working and offering, where possible, virtual solutions for our clients. Written by: Verity Donovan

Photography by: David Fisher

Oxford Said has a range of platforms available to help stay connected moving forward. Future events will rely on a degree of social distancing for some time, and with this in mind, we will be able to offer a blended conference experience, utilising both physical conference rooms and a virtual solution, allowing larger numbers of delegates to attend without the need to restrict numbers.

The Oxford HIVE The Oxford HIVE (Hub for International Virtual Education) is one of the UK’s first immersive virtual meeting and presentation experiences, seamlessly connecting people across the world in a virtual learning experience. Our virtual classroom can be utilised for the following types of events: • In-house training • Public lectures to a global audience • Presentations to boards and committees • Team meetings Benefits include: • Engaging and interactive for the participants • Increase engagement and interaction with attendees over traditional webinar methods • Reduce cost of travel, accommodation, and carbon footprint • Connectivity across the world • On-site technical support

One-Touch Video (RapidMooc) We recently won the Best In-House Technology award at the annual Academic Venue Awards, hosted in London, for our RapidMooc video platform solution. The One-Touch Video Recording Studio Service allows anybody to record an educational or promotional video without any on-site technical support or without the need for later editing. The role of video in education has increased exponentially in the last few years. This system allows us to produce high quality videos to support courses and other events without the necessity of external media specialists. 64

The Studio was implemented using a new technology integration provided by RapidMooc, establishing effective support policies with the AV team. The studio is set up in such a way that it can be used autonomously. The process for recording a video consists of three simple steps. The recorded video is copied to a USB key to be shared via Vimeo, YouTube or other internal systems. The video can be edited later but this is not necessary in most cases. Rapidmooc has been used to create successful videos for a variety of purposes including: • Mini lectures presenting academic content • Short summaries of academic papers • Pitches for elective lectures • Staff training and induction videos • Presentations of student projects • Video CVs summary The technology contains the following highlights: • Easy to use, no technical skills required, no postproduction needed • Real time chroma key recording monitored live on a large TV screen: what you see is what you get. • Video background captured from your own device using a simple HDMI cable or Apple Airplay • Customizable teleprompter (text size, speed) including a text editor • Auto generated closed captions for accessibility • Integrated tools for video post-production • Videos can be exported to USB Key, YouTube, and Vimeo

Virtual Tour (360 degrees) As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability and reducing the need for physical show arounds with clients, we have recently completed a virtual tour for the Park End Street main venue. The Thatcher Business Education Centre (TBEC) was completed last year so we are delighted the portfolio is now complete. The virtual platform allows prospective clients, as well returning clients to view our facilities, floor plans, individual rooms, and layout styles as well as links to download the conference and hospitality brochures and room capacities. The unique ‘doll’s house’ feature demonstrates the true sense of the scale of the space and how each area is linked with communal areas, restaurants, and meeting rooms. Studies show users spend three times longer on websites with virtual tours, giving us the opportunity to stand out from our competitors. The virtual tours are available to view via our website and are are another useful edition during this time when clients are not able to come and view rooms in person.

LiveChat The conference team is shortly launching a LiveChat functionality on the conference webpages. The team will be managing the chat and will be responsive to any enquiries. The system also has an out-of-hours function, ensuring our clients both current and new, can access all the information they need in a fastchanging and flexible working day. For more information on all our services please do contact us below:

The conference team recently used the technology to produce videos regarding health and safety information, which can be sent to the event organiser prior to the event as well as playing on-screen upon arrival for all delegates. The videos are bite-sized and easy to digest rather than word-heavy PDF instruction guides. We are looking to provide more how to guides in the future as well.

 conference@sbs.ox.ac.uk  01865 288 846  www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/about-us/venue-hire WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM


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Will Electric Vehicles see the return of the Company Car? Owen Kyffin, director of Whitley Stimpson accountants and business advisors explains how you could save money by driving an electric car. Written by: Owen Kyffin

Photography by: Whitley Stimpson

When I started out in business the company car was the norm and almost expected part of a remuneration package. However successive Chancellors have continued to increase car benefit charges and reduce the rate of tax relief available to the employer to a point where they have fallen far from favour. For example, a reasonably standard diesel Ford Mondeo would cost a higher rates tax payer around £3,500 a year in tax plus about the same again if fuel is also provided. If you add to this the Class 1A cost of around £1,200 and an annual tax deduction to the employer worth only around £300 it’s not hard to see why the company car’s popularity has waned. The Government is now encouraging drivers to make environmentally friendly choices when it comes to choosing a car which means considering these alternatives is a far more attractive proposition - especially if you are running your own business. Combine this with the fact that electricity is not considered to be a ‘fuel’, which means that you can enjoy using electricity paid for by your employer

The Government is now encouraging drivers to make environmentally friendly choices when it comes to choosing a car which means considering these alternatives is a far more attractive proposition

for both business and private journeys without triggering a fuel benefit charge (a significant saving compared to if you drive a petrol or diesel car) and the attraction is clear to see. All zero emission cars may be eligible for financial incentives that encourage clean energy use in the UK which include: - £3000 plug-in grant - subsidy of up to £3,000 deducted from the purchase price of eligible new zero emission vehicles for vehicles with a list price under £50,000. - Exempt from London Congestion Charge - cost of commuting by car for 3 years could be up to £8,970, when driving into the zone on a daily basis. From October 2021, the C-Charge exemption will be removed from plug-in hybrids and only be available to fully electric vehicles.

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- Access to clean air zones, including the London Ultra Low Emission Zone without paying the noncompliance fee of £12.50. The cost of paying the ULEZ over 3 year could be up to £13,650. - No Vehicle Excise Duty - 0% Benefit in Kind (BiK) starting April 6th 2020 and 1% for the following tax year - from 6th April 2020, new and existing zero emission cars will be eligible for a 0 percent BiK rate for the 2020/21 tax year. The BiK rate will rise to 1 percent in 2021/22 and to 2 percent in 2022/23, being held at 2% for 2024/24 & 2024/25. - No car fuel benefit charge - claimable for up to 100% of the cost of qualifying low emission and electric cars. By choosing a zero-emission car, your business can claim a 100%-year one deduction for the cost of the vehicle. - Benefits of zero emission vehicles for businesses include: - 100% First Year Allowance - exempt from paying Benefit in Kind on electricity provided by their employer to charge an electric company car. - Reduced National Insurance contributions - based on the vehicle’s P11D value and relevant BiK rate are applicable as determined by the official carbon emissions and fuel type. - Eligible for salary sacrifice schemes There remains a significant problem in that there are currently no hybrid models meeting Government set requirements. Fortunately, there are tax breaks for drivers of hybrid models with shorter electric-only ranges, and whilst they are nowhere near as generous, they could still be between 5% and 8% offering significant savings for higher rates tax payers. Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest independent accountancy practices in the area with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney, has a fully qualified team of tax specialists who can advise on all the latest company car matters. If you’d like to discuss the savings and benefits available by using an electric car, please contact Owen Kyffin.

C H A RT E R E D A C CO U NTA NT S A ND B U S I NE S S A D VI S O R S

 owenk@whitleystimpson.co.uk  01295 270 200  www.whitleystimpson.co.uk

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Our gardeners spreading Howbery compost.

BEE-ING EVEN GREENER AT HOWBERY PARK Written by: Donna Bowles, Estates Manager, Howbery Park

We are committed to cherishing our beautiful landscape at Howbery Business Park, making the most of outdoor spaces for our community to enjoy, and playing our part in encouraging bio-diversity. Our most recent initiative – championing bumblebees – joins a whole raft of other measures introduced over recent years, which those based here clearly appreciate.

starting point was to do more at Howbery to support other species of bees.

New initiative buzzes in

The beehives that we introduced to Howbery four years ago have proved a particular hit with our community. Places on our bee workshops – either to extract honey from the hives, or to look inside them while wearing protective clothing – are always full, and jars of honey are snapped up. The kitchen also keeps a portion for cooking in our restaurant.

We have pledged to support bumblebees at Howbery as a part of biodiversity scheme and are aiming to meet objectives set by Nurture Landscapes (which maintains our grounds) and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The objectives include introducing ‘homes’ for wildlife, buying certain ‘bee-friendly’ plants, buying peat free compost, and putting up information boards to improve bee knowledge. There are currently 24 species of bumblebee in the UK and 8 of them are endangered. Two species became extinct in the last 80 years..

The interest in our honeybees is typical of how our community embraces our various eco-friendly measures, encouraging us to carry on in the same vein. So when we were considering how to improve bio-diversity on site further last year, the obvious

The Howbery gardeners are therefore now recording sightings of bees, and noting which plants they are visiting. By ensuring that we have flowers suitable for bees at different points in the year, we can ensure we are providing continual food for these

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important pollinators while they are out and about. Most hibernate in winter.

“ Howbery is

everything you would expect a business park to be and more.

Jonna Mundy, CEO of You HR Consultancy

When we have met all the objectives, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust logo will be inscribed on the blank petal of a flower-shaped award. We will then choose another area of biodiversity – such as butterflies, insects, birds, amphibians or wildflowers – to focus on to gain our next petal. Signing up to the Nurture scheme gives structure to our biodiversity work, allowing us to clearly demonstrate significant biodiversity improvements,

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An aerial shot of the green grounds of Howbery Business Park

The hornbeam welcomes visitors to our site.

The Howbery community getting involved in a honey bee education workshop.

THANK YOU We are so pleased that the advice to slow the spreading of the coronavirus is being followed. We would like to thank everybody who is staying sensibly at home and, of course, all those who are out and about keeping the country running and caring for those in need. Workshop participants inspecting the honey bee frames.

which we have previously worked on piece-meal. For example, we have developed different habitats in our grounds ranging from ornamental flowers to wildflower areas to a bug hotel.

Trees and composting We also already have a programme in place to preserve and manage our many existing trees and to plant new ones, working with Heritage Tree Services. Howbery is home to many unique trees from all around the world, some of them planted in the Victorian era when the Manor House was a family home. Last year, we produced a video with Heritage about our trees (you can find it on our website), and invited our community to join us on a tree tour – another big hit. Many of our trees are deciduous, and our gardeners collect fallen leaves in autumn to go on the compost heap. They also add our grass cuttings to help produce compost, which is then added to our soil

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during the following year. The team also chips our woody garden waste for use as a decorative dressing on our beds. All our green waste is re-used on site. Meanwhile, members of our community are encouraged to do a spot of their own gardening, on one of our dozen mini allotments, which we created in 2017.

and creating lovely working places is worth the effort. Here at Howbery, as well as knowing it is the right thing to do, we believe that nurturing our green spaces is a real draw for tenants, visitors, and people arranging meetings here.

Worth the effort The Howbery community tell us time and again how much they love our beautiful grounds, and back our commitment to caring for the landscape and wildlife. For example, Jonna Mundy, CEO of You HR Consultancy, commented: “Howbery is everything you would expect a business park to be and more. The grounds are beautifully maintained, there are boats to borrow by the river, and it’s ahead of the game on so many things, such as corporate social responsibility – for example with the bee initiative”. This sort of praise shows how acting responsibly,

 D.Bowles@hrwallingford.com  01491 822 495  www.howberypark.com

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Workplace Wellbeing:

Oxfordshire

Support your Employees

Look after your teams and your business by implementing a culture of workplace wellbeing through Oxfordshire Mind’s training programme. Oxfordshire Mind delivers high quality interactive courses, workshops and presentations to promote understanding of mental health, reduce stigma and provide practical tools to support mental health in the workplace.

“Brilliant course. Outstanding trainer.” Participant, Understanding Mental Health

Training Packages We provide training for every budget and size of organisation. Options include: one hour workshops, half day and full day courses, and a two day accredited course. l

Understanding Mental Health and Workplace Wellbeing

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“All highly useful. Great to have immediate take-homes and longer-term thinking prompts.” Participant, Tools for Managers

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One in six workers are experiencing anxiety or depression or both. Mental ill health costs businesses an average of £1,035 per employee per year. (ACAS and Deloitte) Everyone has the right to feel happy and achieve their potential. We have a legal duty to support and protect those experiencing mental ill health.

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Employees are attracted to a workplace that supports good mental health. Training is delivered by a qualified and professional trainer. Join the workplace wellbeing business community for ongoing support. Income from training helps to fund services provided by Oxfordshire Mind to support around 30,000 people in the county.

Oxfordshire Mind training lead, Colette Norbury, presenting at BIO 2019

Contact www.oxfordshiremind.org.uk/training trainingenquiries@oxfordshiremind.org.uk 01865 263 758 • 07394 566 846 corporatepartnerships@oxfordshiremind.org.uk 07394 566 845


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Implementing our business continuity plan Written by: Ria Shepheard, Office Manager, Charles Stanley

The COVID-19 situation in the UK has caused a great deal of uncertainty for investors. The FTSE 100 lost around 30% of its value from the beginning of February to the fourth week in March. A swift response from the central bank to help keep the economy afloat did cause a slight rebound in equity prices, however the FTSE 100 still sits around 2000 points lower compared to the start ofthe year. In Oxford, the Charles Stanley team took the proactive step of implementing our business continuity plan before the lockdown was announced, ensuring that we ironed out any technical issues before it became our reality. While staff continue to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of working from home, our investment managers have access to all the systems and tools they normally use and are able to continue business as usual as a result of having sophisticated technology. They have full access to all dealing and pricing screens and a variety of communication channels, so that our clients’ needs can continue to be serviced and they can be updated on any changes to their investments. With many companies shutting their doors completely and an increasing number of employees working from home, Charles Stanley are in thefortunate position that we don’t outsource our dealing facility. Our dealers are ‘in house’ and have well established relationships with counterparties which is proving invaluable in times like this as it means we are able to continue our investment strategy in the same efficient manner. It is really important that clients are kept up to date with market developments and are communicated with regularly in order to take advantage of market opportunities, and de-risk where necessary. The aim WWW.B4-BUSINESS.COM

Photography by: plasticgoldfish

is to be proactive, rather than reactive, and we are having many discussions with clients, talking through any worries or concerns that they have. A simple phone call is proving very welcome, whether it’s talking about the markets and their investments, or just a general chat to see how they are. We have established a Charles Stanley Community initiative to assist with shopping or picking up prescriptions. The reaction to this has surpassed expectation and we are proud that we are able to provide this personal service in such uncertain and worrying times.

The aim is to be “proactive, rather

than reactive, and we are having many discussions with clients, talking through any worries or concerns that they have

Ria Shepheard (Office Manager) - Charles Stanley

Diversification is key in uncertain times like this. Our bespoke portfolios are designed around a number of regions and sectors to ensure that our clients do not have ‘all their eggs in one basket’. We continue to work with our dedicated research analysts to identify key trends and themes in the market, both at home and overseas. We pride ourselves on our bespoke portfolio service and we are able to adapt our investment strategy, taking into account investment time horizons, capacity for loss and long term goals and aspirations.

As we start the new tax year, we have taken advantage of the recent market volatility to complete ‘Bed and ISA’ transactions for those investments which form part of our long term core investment strategy. By selling these investments in client’s taxable portfolios, and simultaneously repurchasing in their ISA portfolios, any sharp rebound in equity prices will have the benefit of occurring within the capital gains tax and income tax free environment of the ISA portfolios. At the timing of writing, there remains many possible outcomes as to how the situation will play out and it remains unclear as to how long companies will remain operating in current conditions and to what extent this impact that this will have on both share prices and dividend payments. For now we try to navigate these uncertain times, reacting quickly to undervalued investment opportunities, and taking risk off the table where required. For more information about Charles Stanley’s Bespoke Discretionary Managed service please contact Ria Shepheard, Office Manager, Charles Stanley on 01865 987 485.

 Ria.Shepheard@charles-stanley.co.uk  01865 987 485  www.charles-stanley.co.uk/oxford-office

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Shaw Gibbs extend support for Headway and SpecialEffect Shaw Gibbs have recently selected two amazing local charities to support over the next two years: Headway Oxfordshire, who support people affected by brain injury, and SpecialEffect, who help physically disabled people gain access to games and technology. Written by: Tom Donegan

Headway Oxfordshire were voted-in by staff due to the work they have been doing with Shaw Gibbs Junior Accountant, Amy Gordon, who was admitted to hospital with an ear infection which spread to her brain. After several neardeath experiences, Amy was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery but has been left with the lasting effects of damage to both her brain and ear. Amy says: “I was diagnosed with a brain infection in January last year and it very nearly killed me. Since I came out of hospital in February 2019, I have been supported by Headway and they have helped me get as much of my pre braininjury life back as possible. I am running the London Marathon to thank Headway for their continued support and raise as much money as possible so they can support even more brain injury survivors.” SpecialEffect have a long-standing relationship with Shaw Gibbs, thanks to their ongoing involvement in the Twin Town Challenge. The charity ‘banger car’ rally, which is organised by Oxfordshire businessman Brendon Cross and counts many B4 members amongst its participants, has raised an incredible £800,000+ for SpecialEffect since it was established in 2014. Twin Town 2020 was due to take place this 70

May but has now been postponed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Themed ‘Battle of the Bands’ the event will see 100+ teams driving over to France, including the Shaw Gibbs Directors driving an Elton John ‘Rocket Man’ car! Shaw Gibbs are also sponsoring of the return event at Blenheim as well as the fundraising totals. Sarah Gardener, Partner and Head of Outsourcing for Shaw Gibbs comments “It was important for us to support two charities who have complementary offerings. Collaboration is one of our values and we find that the best fundraising we have done in the past is when we can work in partnership with charities who become ingrained in our culture. It is a shame that so many charities will be affected by the COVID pandemic and some of the traditional methods of fundraising have been delayed or cancelled. With this in mind, we have decided to support SpecialEffect and Headway Oxfordshire for the next two years rather than one” The COVID-19 lockdown has had a significant impact on both charities, which have been required to move quickly to adapt their services in light of the current restrictions on movement and social contact. Many major fundraising events and activities have also been cancelled or postponed. However, once social-

distancing measures have been relaxed, Shaw Gibbs hope to have sponsored runners taking part in the Oxford Half Marathon in the Autumn and are also planning a fundraising event in Summertown. In the meantime, the accountants are putting their heads together to come up with ideas for some ‘virtual’ alternatives, including an online pub quiz, as they aim to raise a record amount for the two organisations. For more information about SpecialEffect and Headway, see the links below:

www.headway.org.uk

 info@specialeffect.org.uk  01608 810 055  www.specialeffect.org.uk

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PASSION FOR FOOD We specialise in serving fabulous food for your parties, wedding receptions, corporate gatherings and private events. From canape receptions and street food to banquet dinners and fine dining. From tipis under the stars to spectacular stately homes, we are well versed in producing high quality food with exemplary service to match. The Passion for Food team, led by Managing Director Philip Baker are a flexible, tight-knit team that are totally committed to making your special occasion a complete success. Which means we’ll do all it takes to go that extra mile to make it even more memorable. We offer a simple, uncomplicated approach where everything revolves around the client. Philip is an award-winning chef with over three decades of culinary and catering experience under his belt. He’s worked with some of Europe’s best chefs and has successfully run his own restaurants.

OUR FOOD Wherever possible, we use local UK-produced food. We source our food and wines from partners we’ve known for many years, with many being small, independent British companies that consistently offer first-class quality. We change our recipes in tune with the seasons and

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“ We offer a simple, uncomplicated approach where everything revolves around the client

availability, but there’s no ‘one size fits all’ policy. You tell us what you’d like and we’ll deliver it.

OUR VENUES As well as catering in your home, garden, office space, you’ll also find us on the preferred supplier list at these stunning Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire venues: • The Divinity School & Weston Library (Bodleian Libraries), Oxford • Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire • Poundon House, Oxfordshire • Rhodes House, Oxford • Stonor Park, Oxfordshire • Nether Winchendon House, Buckinghamshire • Stowe School, Buckinghamshire To see how Passion for Food can help you at your next event, please contact us below. We look forward to hearing from you!

   

hello@passion-for-food.co.uk 01296 651 755 www.passion-for-food.co.uk @passionffood

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HARTWELL HOUSE & SPA

Find your

DREAM

University of Oxford venue for any occasion

50% OFF DAY MEETINGS AT HARTWELL HOUSE, NR AYLESBURY NOW £37.50 + VAT PP 50% off day meeting rates on any bookings placed within two weeks of the meeting date. This late availability offer applies to meetings of 6 – 16 people and includes welcome tea & coffee, mid-morning pastries, lunch, afternoon tea & cake, free WiFi and a range of equipment for use.

NOW £37.50+VAT pp

Conference Oxford Call 01865 276190 or email enquiries@conference-oxford.ox.ac.uk www.conference-oxford.com

Valid mid-week for 6 – 16 people until 31st March 2020; subject to availability.

A place to... MEET

VALE OF AYLESBURY, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE HP17 8NR TEL: +44 (0)1296 747 444 WWW.HARTWELL-HOUSE.COM

“The professionals at Freeths were calm and understanding. They did not rush me or make false promises but thoroughly explained the process to me, listened well, spoke confidently and left me feeling positive.” - The Legal 500 2020 edition, The Client’s Guide to the best Law Firms

SLEEP

EAT

CELEBRATE

Photos: Chris Andrews Publications, Oxford University Images / Bodleian Libraries

Our Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Dispute team is ready to support you in these difficult times. If you would like to discuss a disputed will with a member of our team please contact Sarah Foster on: 01865 781055 sarah.foster@freeths.co.uk


NEWS JULY 2020 COMPANY

Everything for the Workplace

Proudly serving Oxfordshire and beyond for 30 years July 1990 - July 2020

Welcome to our 30 Year newsletter July 2020 marks 30 years in business for Aston and James, and we’re celebrating supporting organisations within Oxfordshire and beyond for 3 decades as best we can in lock-down. Why not take a few moments out of your day to read all about our developments. From humble beginnings, we’ve adapted over the past 30 years to now be able to provide you with a huge range of new and innovative solutions to help your business run as smoothly as possible. I’m immensely proud of our family owned business and I’m confident we’ll adapt and grow to support the ever-changing needs of the modern workplace in the months and years to come. We’ve been busy behind the

Highlights in this issue 30 years in a nutshell... p. 2

Read about our key milestones after 30 years in business from our beginnings back in the nineties.

From a 2 man band... scenes responding to your needs in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. In this newsletter you can also learn more about how we have quickly adapted over the past few months to best support you in these unusual and uncertain times.

p. 4

How our family business has grown considerably in 30 years to bring you exceptional customer service.

30 years of diversification... p. 6

Find out about how we’ve adapted to the needs of the modern workplace during our 30 years in business.

Recent projects round up...

Keep safe, and as ever we are always here to help...

p. 8

See what we’ve been up to including workplace wellness and how we can best support you during COVID-19.

What the future holds... Darren Aston, Managing Director

p. 10

Read our latest articles, place orders and find get in touch online:

We don’t have a crystal ball, but find out how we see the future of the workplace evolving.

www.aston-james.co.uk


3

YEARS (IN A NUTSHELL)

It’s been quite a journey. See how far we’ve come... Back in 1990, when the internet was still in it’s infancy, Germany became unified and John Major was Prime Minister, Aston & James was formed and run above a shed in Little Clanfield. From our humble beginnings supplying local schools, we’ve continued to adapt, invest and invent ourselves into to the company we are now: Oxfordshire’s leading supplier of workplace products and services. Today, we continue to offer you new and exciting services to help your business run smoothly. We’ve also become more focussed on initiatives that give back to the community, such as Carbon Capture and charity events such as the Twin Town Challenge. Although the future is uncertain, we feel we are in a good place to support local people and businesses as the modern working environment evolves.

Everything for the Workplace


1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Alan Aston & Darren James formed the company, using a typewriter for quotes

Darren left and Alan continued to run the business from a shed in Little Clanfield

Christine joined the business along with our 1st delivery driver

We moved out of the shed to Stanton Harcourt and started stocking product

We won our 1st national account utilising a direct delivery service

To offer wider stock, we expanded into a double unit at Stanton Harcourt

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

1996

We moved to Witney, Jane & Cheryl joined. We launched our first radio ad

Craig & Jill joined the business (see p.4 to see the team now). We started selling printers

We launched our first website and we took our very 1st online order

We went to our 1st international buying group conference at Euro Disney

Darren Aston (now MD) joined telesales - a big promotion from chief cleaner as a kid in 1991

Due to continual growth, we added a second van and part time driver

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2 vans were added to our fleet to service a wider catchment of local businesses

We opened our trade counter and introduced a copier service

Selina joined & we won our 1st buying group award for dealer excellence

Tammi joined & we moved to our forever home with 2 extra units to expand into

Martin joined, we Rachel joined, our moved to a new furniture install team began & we upgraded premises and took an to a Windows system ad in the yellow pages

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

Our 1st Marketeer joined. We rebranded to better represent all the services we offer

Darren Aston bought out Alan and became MD. We extended our eco offering

We launched Print & won awards for our cartridge recycling service (see p.6)

Nikita joined to manage our Business Gifts & Workwear departments

Andy joined, and we launched our Business Gifts service & website (see p.6)

We launched our Workwear & Clothing range & won our 2nd award for excellence

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

We increased our Facilities range & reached our goal of 1000 live customers

Michelle (R) joined. We launched shredding & opened our furniture showroom (see p.6)

Michelle (A) joined. We launched our Workplace Wellness campaign (see p.8)

We joined Carbon Capture & launched our CSR campaign (see p.9)

Dan joined the Paul joined. We won business and we won a Small Business of our 3rd award for the Year and a Family excellence Business award

2020 and beyond... We swiftly responded to Coronavirus, to support the needs of those working from home and as we return to work (see p.9). We will continue to develop, invest and adapt to our clients’ needs. Here’s to the next 30 years!

www.aston-james.co.uk


Darren Aston

Cheryl Aston

Craig Aston

Managing Director 23 Years Service

Business Development 19 Years Service

Furniture Specialist 20 Years Service

Selina Aston

Rachel Moore

Andy Walker

Sales Support / Telesales 14 Years Service

Martin Batts

Despatch Team 17 Years Service

Accounts 8 Years Service

Gavin Aston

Warehouse & Facilities 14 Years Service

Dispatch Team 11 Years Service

Mark Johnson

Business Development 1 Year Service

Christin

Account M 25 Years

Dan M

Dispatc 6 Years

Michelle

Marketing 2 Years


ne Tyrell

Manager s Service

Mills

ch Team Service

e Aston

g Manager Service

Nikita Aston

Workwear & Gifts Manager 10 Years Service

Jill Lambert

PA to MD & Operations 20 Years Service

Jane Franklin

Purchasing & Dispatch 19 Years Service

215 YEARS EXPERIENCE From strong roots laid 30 years ago, we have grown from a 2 man band to a loyal team with huge collective knowledge

We’ve built a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise over the last 30 years. Our strong family values remain as true today as when we began. Over the years we’ve nurtured our staff and won numerous family business awards. We pride ourselves on retaining a loyal, dedicated team who put you at the forefront of everything we do. Learn more about each team member at www.aston-james.co.uk/meet-the-team.

Michelle Rogers Telesales Executive 3 Years Service

Claire Dore

Sales Support 2 Years Service

Kevin Jewel Dispatch Team 1 Year Service


30 YEARS OF DIVERSIFICATION

Times have changed. So have we! When our business began back in the early nineties, we were armed with just a typewriter for delivery notes, quotes and invoices! Our roots began in supplying schools and colleges with stationery supplies. Over the years we’ve diversified considerably to provide you Everything for the Workplace. Our progressive range of services and products continues to grow, so we’re able to fully support your business in a swift, efficient way, adapting to the ever-changing needs of the modern workplace. Find out more about the huge range of services we now offer opposite.


So much more than office supplies. Our range of workplace services to help save your business time, energy and money: At Aston & James we know you have more important things to do than spend hours sourcing products and processing multiple supplier invoices. That’s why we’ve made it even easier for you to use just one company for all your workplace needs. Enjoy cost savings on the products you use the most, help keep your carbon footprint down by using one delivery for multiple products and save a load of hassle by dealing with one account manager to assist you. Discover the range of services we offer to enable you to consolidate your supply chain and help your business to run smoothly. All this, and you’ll be supporting a local business to help maintain a healthy local economy.

Stationery

Print

We have over 16,000 products available for you to browse. If you need anything else, we’ll help you source it. Our local delivery drivers will take your products to exactly where you need them and in the way which is best for your business.

Whether your print requirement is one-off or recurring, we ensure that your products are delivered on time and at unrivalled prices. We also have the infrastructure to store your print for you to ‘call off’ when needed, free of charge.

Furniture

Ink & Toners

Whether you need a new office chair, or an entire workplace refit, we will work with you to uncover your exact requirements and provide you the optimal workspace.

From cartridges for your small desktop printer, to consumables for your heavy-duty multifunctional machine, we stock a huge range of printing supplies.

Machines & Managed Print

Eco Solutions

We provide the perfect IT equipment for your business. Our job is to ensure you have the right hardware and software combo in place. This saves you time, money and resource.

Shredding Safeguard your business and dispose of your confidential data securely with our shredding service. All paper is recycled.

Stop used print cartridges and waste paper ending up in landfill. You can help protect the environment and reuse our precious resources with our free collection and recycling services.

Gifts & Workwear Our range of promotional products work hard to create a positive impact on how the recipient interacts with your business. And our promotional clothing and workwear offers an affordable way to create exposure for your brand.

Facilities Management We have over 4,000 products within our Facilities Management category including break-time treats, cleaning products, handling and access, storage and shelving, maintenance, waste management, safety and security and PPE products. Find out more about some of the products we now supply in light of the coronavirus on p.9

www.aston-james.co.uk


Delivering business services to Oxfordshire and beyond for 30 years

Learn more about our story at www.aston-james.co.uk/about-us


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