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C O M M U N I C AT I O N S • N E T W O R K I N G • C A R S • P R O P E R T Y • I N T E R V I E W S • E V E N T S

Fast-Track to Success Sponsorship in the glamourous world of Formula 1

De-Congestion in Oxford How do we help our city breathe more easily?

Old News Are you prepared for age-discrimination legislation?


















BUILDING ON TEAM SUCCESS Darbys Solicitors - proud sponsors of Blenheim International Horse Trials, 31st August to 3rd September 2006 Providing legal services to private and business clients in the equine sector. Our team combines legal expertise with experience in owning and competing horses. We can swiftly understand a client’s situation, their needs and their personal and commercial objectives. Darbys Solicitors specialist teams can assist with all aspects of legal advice and representation including equine contracts and disputes, syndicate/owner rider set up and break up, residential and commercial property, planning and development issues or appeals, family issues, tax planning and trusts, commercial and corporate including venture capital and commercial contracts. Darbys Solicitors proud sponsors of: Leslie Law MBE, Olympic Gold Medallist Athens 2004, Team Gold Medallist. FEI Blenheim Petplan European Eventing Championships 2005 Blenheim International Horse Trials 2006 Gatcombe Park The Festival of British Eventing and the parade of the WEG Team at Gatcombe 2006 Ponies (UK) Summer Championships - Supreme of Show Darbys Equine Law Team at Blenheim Palace - Photograph by kind permission of The Duke of Marlborough Image by Andrew Kitchen Photography

Darbys Solicitors 52 New Inn Hall Street, Oxford OZ1 2DN 01865 811 700 e-mail: website:

Oxford’s Oldest New Quarter ~ at the heart of the CitY





Bought in Oxford


15 Age Discrimination

16 Welcome to B4

In this issue we have a fascinating insight into the business of Blenheim Palace, we look at how the University interacts with the business community, and David Parry outlines a new piece of legislation that many of us are unprepared for. Jeremy Mogford looks at the traffic problems that blight the city and Mickey ‘the Monkey-Wrench’ Trotter returns to his old haunt, Gaol. John Kennedy explains how brands work and Cathy Nightingale takes the lid off the creative process behind the design of Oxfordshire’s logo for 2007.


Checklist for Success

The Way we Work


34 Business Education

29 37


Web Wisdom

The Ingredients of Success




It’s All in Hand

Home Clean Home

Czech It Out



The Lodge & Tally Ho

Repaying Customer Loyalty


Richard Rosser

Featured Contributors



But the greatest input in this second issue of B4 came, not from any one person, but from the team in our office and the sponsors who share our vision of creating a magazine that’s written by business people for business people.



Hearing Voices

The great response to our launch issue was beyond our expectations and the feedback from the business community continues to be our source of inspiration. So we have given B4 its first make-over, a sort of B4 & After. B4 has a new layout, a new approach and, if you hadn’t noticed, a new Editorial team. We now have a panel of experts contributing to each magazine, not just by writing articles, but by commenting on others and giving you the benefit of a second opinion. We will look at life through the eyes of accountants, lawyers, bankers, PR & marketing specialists, directors, entrepreneurs and, in one case, an ex-convict.


Keith Simpson Keith is Head Designer for the In Oxford Group and amongst other projects designs B4 magazine. He has a Degree in Fine Art and lives in Oxfordshire.

John Kennedy John is Head of Client Services and Business Development for Rooks Rider, a City Law Firm. He lives in Oxfordshire. See John’s article on page 50

David Parry David became a partner at Darbys in 1995 and became Head of the Employment Law Team in 1999. He specialises in the contentious aspect of employment law.

Jeremy Mogford A well known figure in Oxford and owner of, amongst others, The Old Bank Hotel, Old Parsonage and Gees Restaurant. Jeremy talks passionately about his concerns for Oxford and in particular the problems posed by the volume of buses which pound our roads every day.


50 48

Protect Your Identity



Insure My Liability

Contact Details


Darby’s Breakfast Seminar “Keeping your Business on the Road” Breakfast Seminar on November 2006 at 7.30am


Darbys Business Crime Team will be presenting a seminar on Road Traffic Law. This will cover current legislation, and in addition changes to the law which may affect driver employers and employees. The most common driving offences and penalties will be highlighted, in addition to illustrating how legal

representation can “keep business on the road”.


The seminar will be lead by Nick Cotter, Partner in the Business Crime Team of leading Oxford law firm Darbys. In addition there will be presentations from fellow Partners, Michael Geeson, expert in health and safety legislation, and Martin Bourne who will cover some of the more intricate areas of Road Traffic Law.

To be held at: RBS Williams F1 Conference, Grove, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 0DQ 7.30am Arrival, registration and Continental Buffet Breakfast 8.30am Presentation followed by Q&A session To register please call 01865 811218 or email

Barclays Breakfast Seminars “Looking to Conquer the World” Thursday 28th September: 7.30am - 9.30am Banbury Cricket Club Thursday 5th October: 7.30am - 9.30am Blake Lapthorn Linnell, Seacourt Tower Did you know ? Last year total UK imports and exports amounted to well over £600 billion*. Are you making the most of these opportunities ? With Barclays locally based specialists, comprehensive International product set and impressive global reach, Barclays are well placed to help you do just that.

Topics & Speakers: How you can find new markets overseas, how to get your goods to overseas markets, how to protect against exchange rate movements and payment risk, best practice from an experienced exporter and VAT & Customs aspects of International Trade. Suitable for all businesses - established or new. Book your place: Don’t delay as spaces are limited. To book your free place contact Suzanne Hamblin on 01865 442112 or e-mail: * Government Office of National Statistics, 2005

New Regional Director For HW HW, one of the region’s leading independent accountancy firms is strengthening its local presence still further as it announces the appointment of David Archer as new Regional Director for its Financial Services division in the South. The Firm attributes its continuing success and growth in the Thames Valley to a focus on providing high quality advice through its local offices based in Alton, Basingstoke, Farnborough,

Contacts If you want to contact B4 Magazine T: 01865 742211 E: Publisher B4 Magazine is published by Designs On Ltd, The Firs, Headington Hill, Oxford, OX3 0BT Chairman Colin Rosser E:


Art Editor Keith Simpson E: Editorial Richard Rosser Simon Sayce E: Advertising Sales Manager Adam Mackrell E:

High Wycombe, Oxford, Reading and Slough and sees this latest appointment as another step forward in its ongoing development plan to provide even better support for clients at grass roots level. “I am delighted to be joining HW,” says David, “And I am enjoying meeting and working with the local teams. HW is continuing to grow steadily and I am looking forward to the challenge of developing new opportunities for the Firm in the future.”

Administration Sue Edwardson E: Staff Photographer Matthew Freer E: Photography Studio 8 T: 01865 842525 E:

B4 Partners Aziz Barclays Bank B-Line Buildbase Darbys The Focus Group Intellion Malmaison Oxford Shortlets Oxford United FC STL Wenn Townsend WSI

His colleagues are equally enthusiastic about Archer’s appointment, believing that his experience across all industry sectors will be a great asset as HW continues to grow from strength to strength. “It’s a pleasure to welcome David to the Firm,” says Rodney Style, Partner, HW Oxford. “He brings with him a wealth of experience across a broad range of business sectors. This, combined with his energy and enthusiasm will be invaluable as we continue to drive HW Financial Services forward.”

Subscriptions T: 01865 742211 E: Subscription costs: £10 per annum (Credit Card / Cheque). © Designs-on Ltd and B4 Magazine. Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure that the content of this publication is accurate and correct in every way, the publishers cannot be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies or errors within the publication. Information reproduced from this publication is permitted with the express permission of the publisher and the advertiser, where relevant. All information is correct at time of going to press.

B4 News New Years Eve at Malmaison - Prize Draw If any readers were fortunate enough to attend the opening night party at Malmaison they will know that they certainly know how to throw a party at the former gaol. This black tie and cocktail bash – see page 22 advert – starts between 7 and 8pm with a champagne and canapé reception followed by dining from the sumptuous buffet with the finest of meat, fish, cheese and desserts, not to mention the never ending chocolate fountain (8 to 9.30pm) – all included in the

package price.

January 2007.

A String Quartet will be playing background music in A-wing whilst the food is being served. House wines are available from 8-9.30pm, also inclusive in the package price.

Malmaison have kindly donated two tickets worth £250. To enter our draw simply e-mail your name and telephone number to: sales@ before Friday 1st December 2006, telling us the location of one other Malmaison Hotel in the UK. The winning entrant will be notified in December.

From 9.30pm, live entertainment will be provided by the fantastic and ever popular Jazz group 'The Fat Cats' and a Piper will pipe in the New Year from approximately 11.30pm onwards and then the celebrations will continue into the small hours of

Contact Details: 01865 268400 or

hr7 – a different approach to getting the most out of people It is imperative that employers give as much as they can to their existing employees and ensure that in return they derive the maximum value from them. Darbys has, for several years now, taken a “cradle to grave” approach towards the legal advice it provides on employment law matters. Rob Bryan, the Darbys partner who heads up its Employment Law Team, recognised at the start of 2006 that employers require a complete integrated solution to their problems. This means providing advice not just on legal issues but also on the other areas that impact directly upon them. As a result, Darbys has launched the hr7 initiative. After having worked closely with all of its chosen partners, it has invited 6 independent consultancies, each an expert in a discrete discipline relating to people performance to work with it. The information sheet contained within this month’s publication provides a summary of the HR advice that Darbys is now able to facilitate as well as provide. Further information can be obtained from either Rob Bryan on 01865 811 767 ( or his co-partner in Darbys’ Employment Team, David Parry on 01865 811 708 (

B-Line supports Oxford Children’s Hospital through B4 e-Bay campaign B-Line were instrumental in helping us raise over £300 for the Oxford Children’s Hospital campaign. Phil Beesley (Managing Director) of BLine is seen here handing over some of the items donated to the campaign which was run through Issue 1 of B4 in association with e-Bay. Also pictured is Graham Brogden (Head of Community Fundraising) of CHOX.

Other companies who kindly donated items included Buildbase (Gemini Circle paving section), The University of Oxford Shop (superb 20cm globe), Bayswater Framing (framed caricature of Nick Merry, Chairman, Oxford United FC) and Blenheim Palace (King and Queen for the day at the recent Blenheim Palace jousting event).

If you have any ideas for fund-raising which you would like us to promote for you on our weekly e-Newsletter or in B4, please contact us now on 01865 742211. Our nominated charity is CHOX but we are happy to promote other charitable events, subject to page availability.

Buildbase & White Horse Turf announce joint venture White Horse Turf Ltd has been established since the 1970’s and has grown to be one of the largest turf companies in Oxfordshire in the supply and installation of top quality lawns. Further to negotiations between Johnson’s Buildbase and White Horse Turf, the two companies agreed to join forces and offer the complete landscape package to White Horse Turf's and Buildbase's clients.

For further information contact : White Horse Turf Ltd c/o Johnson’s Buildbase Watlington Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 6LN Tel: 01865 787750


Let’s connect Our new approach to banking

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One team, one location, one focus: you. That’s the essence of the fresh approach to banking we’ve developed. We’ve been looking closely and listening carefully. The result is a return to traditional levels of personal attention, combined with the best of today’s facilities and specialist knowledge.

And all delivered through our local Financial Solutions Centres - a place where our customers are treated as members. Call Martin McNamara, Managing Partner and his team on 01865 265 400 today, and let’s connect. When it’s important to you, you need a bank with expertise.


Clydesdale Bank PLC is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in Scotland (Number SC1111). Registered Office: 30 St. Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2HL. A member of the National Australia Bank Group of companies.

B4 PR Talkative, colourful, passionate, full of life (and very little sleep), Dave Beesley is to Oxford what the 18 hour day coal miner was to the pits of the North East – he works, seemingly, 30 hours a day and in football terminology he is “box to box” and “has a great engine”. But when Richard Rosser met him at his offices in Bletchington, he was “annoyed”, to say the least.

it works both ways, I appreciate that, but do I get orders from local schools ?” There are examples of LCPP’s that buck the trend, but these are few and far between. “Some LCPP organisations will not place business with a local company if this business would represent a minimum percentage of turnover.” You wonder why? Perhaps B4 can invite some local LCPP’s to counter Dave’s argument.

I’d actually never seen Dave yawn – he looks permanently knackered but that’s a look you get used to – and I’d never seen Dave angry. We had chatted briefly before I made my way over to his offices in Bletchington and had agreed on the subject we were going to discuss. In the interim, it was obvious that Dave had been getting quite worked up just thinking about the topic of our B4 article.

“Pick up the phone ….. and call me” is almost Dave’s tag line. He talks a lot, be it at networking events – he attends at least nineteen every day and that’s just Breakfast meetings – or on the phone. Even though Dave does do some subliminal advertising with various charities, Oxford United and the former B-Line Boy’s Football League, he puts the success of B-Line down to one thing – networking. His is a “people business” but Dave underestimates the role he plays in this people business – he’s the one shovelling the coal on the train and the train is still going at quite a rate !

Those of you who know Dave Beesley will know the most important thing in his life is his immediate family and staff, but his wider family includes the business people he classes as his friends more than customers in Oxfordshire. It is this family that he is trying to extend, every day and he just wishes the larger businesses in Oxford would extend their “local family”. Dave’s beef is that Oxfordshire’s larger corporate and public procurement organisations (lets call this collection LCPP’s from now on or I will run out of space) in particular buy so many of their goods from outside the county and in many cases outside of the country.

B-Line and B4 share a large number of customers and Dave’s crusade is to get more local businesses working together. Working with B4, Dave will carry this on in future issues and B4 will be promoting the “Working With Oxfordshire Businesses” message and reporting on some success stories and also offering LCPP’s the chance to explain why they don’t always “Buy Oxford” …….. and Dave Beesley, for one, will take some convincing ! Read all about Dave’s hobby business in the next issue of B4 and why this hobby could well take over the world!

“A lot of “LCPP’s” are on national contracts and the real shame of it is that a lot of Oxfordshire based businesses can offer an equally good product but with better service and better prices.”

“By buying from Oxfordshire businesses, the profits are retained within Oxfordshire, thus boosting the local economy. If you think about it, the knock-on effects of not buying from Oxfordshire businesses are horrendous.” B-Line, Dave’s successful family stationery business which he runs with his son Phil and daughter Kay, (he also runs a successful office furniture division of B-Line) offers an on-line ordering facility, thus reducing costs and this saving is passed on to their customers. “By buying from outside of Oxfordshire, LCPP’s are ignoring the green issues we are reminded about every day. By making one order outside of Oxfordshire, LCPP’s add to the fuel emission, congestion and overall pollution of our planet, not to mention the added man hours in getting the product from A to B, thus, probably, adding to the cost.” “I will do as much as anyone to help local businesses and to help people get on in life, but it really annoys me, for example, when I take on work placements from local schools. The kids are, on the whole, willing to learn and


“There is no reason why every business in Oxfordshire shouldn’t buy all of its supplies from Oxfordshire businesses. There are exceptions, I understand that. What I don’t understand is why certain organisations seem to look for any reason to plough their profits into non-Oxfordshire businesses ……… hardly a boost to the local economy is it ?” Contact details on page 58




The Mercedes S-Class has always shown the rest of the car industry what all cars will be like in ten years time. The S-Class can 'see' in the dark, massage the driver and break on its own to avoid hitting the car in front. Is this due to advances in technology? Or is it simply that Merc recognise that large overfed businessmen have slower reactions than Sid the Sloth? B4 sent Nick Walker to find out.



The S-Class is regarded as the pinnacle of Germanic automotive excellence. Each successive S-Class virtually rewrites the rule book and the new S-Class is a real technology tour de force. This is very impressive but it is blessed with imposing elegance rather than raw beauty.

and clearest display I’ve seen yet. The speedometer is also an LCD screen, although you need to look carefully to distinguish it from the real gauges alongside. The reversing camera is fun with the Parktronic system but trusting the electronics will take only slightly fewer guts than accepting that the ‘Distronic Plus’ with brake assist is really going to stop you hitting the back of the Jag in front. I wasn’t eager to test it. On start up, the diesel engine is supremely quiet and gives no immediate indication that it’s an oil burner. The steering is a little light at parking speeds but quickly gains weight and feel as the car takes off. It all happens without effort and one immediately feels at ease.

The version I drove was the long wheelbase option, but I was assured that the extra length wouldn’t compromise the car’s handling and performance. In fact, the chassis and suspension is so well set up that a few extra yards, let alone inches, would not be noticed by the driver. The interior is home to at least half a dozen hides and is a very peaceful and comfortable environment, if a tad glitzy in places. The bright silver switches and the burr walnut never really compliment each other but it all seems to operate in a typically impressive Mercedes way. Sat Nav is standard within the Command system and provides live traffic information in the sharpest

boot. But there is one thing missing – character. Maybe it’s the fact that this vehicle is so supremely honed and clever in so many areas with no real foibles or odd traits that it doesn’t need character but I have to say that when I jumped into my Peugeot 107 to drive home I immediately felt the charm and cheekiness that so endears the Pug. Last year, we went to Dubai and stayed at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Just opposite, stands the immense 7 Star Burg Al Arab. One can only really describe the 7 Star hotel as opulent in the extreme with glitzy gold lifts, hand made carpets inches thick and gizmos everywhere. And yet our modest Hotel was more welcoming, better value and altogether a more appropriate place to stay in comfort.

As a Financial Advisor, I can assure any B4 reader that, if you want to keep your accountant happy, the £55,000 320CDi is the one to choose. Not just due to 33 mpg economy, but because a big car demands the kind of pulling power that this excellent engine can provide.

The S-Class is a stunning car and probably one of the great cars of today, but most buyers will go for something more modest because something more modest will do the job just as well, if not quite as impressively.

Mated to the awesome 7 speed automatic box

Contact details on page 58

the diesel combination provides probably the best solution in the motoring world for effortless progress in any driving environment. But 60mph arriving only 7.5 seconds after take-off and with 145mph on tap, it’s reassuring to know that the brakes are also amazing. In the wet, they even dry themselves, eliminating surprises in emergency situations. It’s one thing having a supreme drivetrain but the confidence and pleasure that comes from using the new generation brakes is incredible. For such a large car the sweetness of the handling is almost uncanny. Small touches abound, from sophisticated self closing doors to simple shopping bag hooks in the



FREE TELEPHONE CALLS…SO WHAT ’S THE CATCH? When Intellion was asked to support the new Oxford Children’s Hospital campaign it did not take long for the Witney based company to come up with a good idea. ChoxCall is an affinity telephone service for Oxfordshire businesses where the call rates are ultra competitive, the local calls are free and 10% of the monthly spend is donated to Chox by Intellion. Susannah Maxa Managing Director of Intellion explains the scheme to Richard Rosser.

‘The proposition is what you might call a “three way street”,’ explained Susannah, the ChoxCall customer benefits from considerable call savings and the hospital receives a significant monthly donation from Intellion. By donating 10% of each customer invoice to Chox we are effectively giving away our profit in return for some good PR.’ So what’s the catch? Susannah is at pains to stress that there isn’t one and when someone is doing so much for such a great cause you feel guilty asking the question, but the question is asked more out of curiosity rather than disbelief. Susannah continues, ‘Its true, there really is no catch. We work with a host of network providers and in return for our wholesale business they are prepared to underwrite the free telephone calls. This, together with our concessionary rates for ChoxCall make for a compelling proposition.’

Take up of ChoxCall has been steady with a number of significant Oxfordshire businesses now subscribing. The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys were an early subscriber and Managing Director, Gary Frank, commented, ‘It's great. We get a really good service from Intellion and our telephone bills have reduced considerably. ChoxCall is a really easy way for a business to support a very worthwhile local cause and we would encourage all Oxfordshire businesses to join up.’ ‘Endorsement from people who use the service is the key to its success’, said Susannah. ‘To begin with people were suspicious of something for free, but now that we have momentum and the support of some very high profile local businesses, the added “credibility” of the scheme allows us to write an even bigger cheque to Chox every month and in turn attract more supporters. B4 and Darbys are amongst some of the other corporate supporters of ChoxCall.’

The new Children’s Hospital is due to open later this year at a total cost of 30 million pounds. By working together with colleagues, clients, family and friends we can make a real difference for children for many years to come. Every penny counts so please get involved with the Campaign and enjoy the fundraising experience! ChoxCall can contribute significantly to the Campaign, so if you would like to find out how your business can help and save money please contact Intellion on the number below. B4 challenges local businesses to take a good look at ChoxCall. It really is a great idea and there’s something in it for all parties!

B4 Info:

Gary Frank, Managing Director of The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys, an early subscriber to the Choxcall scheme.

For more information on ChoxCall™ and Intellion call: 0870 050 2469 (chox) For more information on the Campaign call Graham Brogden on: 01865 743444

The Oxford Children's Hospital Campaign is part of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital Charitable Funds, Registered Charity No. 1057295.

Contact details on page 58



TIME FLIES Our time is precious. It is cheaper and quicker for a group of 5 to travel to and from Liverpool by plane from Oxford than by train. James Dillon-Godfray, Marketing and Development Manager for Oxford Airport, is full of stats and is full of ambition and he tells Richard Rosser what Oxford needs . “A huge proportion of Oxford’s business community is unaware of the options which air travel offers. Many will only associate air travel with their family holidays or a weekend away with their partner – many if not most would ever consider the merits of air travel in a business context. But they should do. The figures speak for themselves.”

always offered the business community and private individuals the chance to charter anything from light air taxis or helicopters (4 or 5 seats) doing around 170 miles per hour, to Intercontinental business jets travelling at 550 miles per hour and there has been a notable increase in the private use of aircraft in the last year. In the last 12 months there has been a 25% increase in private use of aircraft.”

James is keen to highlight how isolated Oxford is in terms of access to commercial air services and builds a strong argument to increase the level and frequency of such services in the future “Oxford, in terms of the UK, is very isolated to immediate commercial air services. Coventry, Luton, Birmingham, Southampton, Bristol and Heathrow are all more than 50 miles away.”

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that we have a mini Heathrow on our hands. James explains that since the late 1990’s, the total flight movements (including business aircraft, recreational flights, training and some freight) at Oxford Airport have decreased by more than 50%. This is mainly attributed to the migration of a significant portion of the flight training course to Arizona, freeing up airspace and capacity.

“Catching an international flight from Heathrow or Luton at 7.30am requires an Oxford resident to get out of bed at 4am, at the latest. Compared to the rest of the UK, that makes us very isolated. In the States, for example, there are a multitude of small municipal airports – the density of useable sites is huge. For example, the Chicago area alone has EIGHTY airfields – they may range from tiny, private air strips to O’Hare International Airport, but this just highlights my point.” James goes on to highlight the potential Oxford offers the surrounding population, “Oxford is a significant City with 620,000 people living within a 30 minute catchment area. There are 1.3 million residents in a catchment area where Oxford Airport is closer to them than Coventry, Luton, Birmingham, Southampton, Bristol and Heathrow.” So what does Oxford offer now ? “We have

Historically, Oxford Airport hosted most of the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) training, but much of this has now moved to a sister school, the Oxford Aviation Training Centre at Goodyear airport in Phoenix, Arizona. This resulted in a reduction of 80,000 flight movements per annum, thus giving the opportunity to increase business aviation activity. As we talk you are reminded about the calibre of individual housing aircraft here – a sleek helicopter is manoeuvred into position by a small truck and passes a Cessna jet which James tells me is owned by the Piquet family. I ask who else uses the Airport. “JCB, BMW Mini, Volvo, VW, Aston Martin, Williams F1 (Sir Frank), Renault F1, Sir Richard Branson, Flavio Briatore, Rowan Atkinson, Rory Bremner, Jason Plato, Wafic Said, Nelson Piquet family, Alonso family, David Cameron amongst others use the airport.” I get

the feeling James had a few more names up his sleeve ! These companies and individuals may have the money but they also place huge value on their time and James is busting at the gut to stress how he wished people, not just for the good of the Airport’s various businesses, would see the sense in private air travel as a productivity and enhancing and time-saving exercise. “Out time is intangible – we all underestimate the value of our own time and I urge businesses in the area to at least look into the possible cost saving and time saving opportunities we can offer. We have a considerable number of professional companies already taking advantage of the air around us to build their companies at Oxford Airport and also a huge number of professionals from non air-related businesses who have seen the advantages of buisness air travel.” Oxford Airport are looking at making these cost saving and time saving solutions available to a wider market through establishing business shuttles to destinations such as Edinburgh and Dublin. Processing time at Oxford Airport is also quicker, even as short as 5 minutes from leaving your car to take off – the total time saving is therefore HUGE. James concludes “A municipal / regional airport puts a city on the map, internationally. Although Oxford is recognised worldwide for its University, the facts are that Oxford does not always appear on the map from a demographic and business point of view. Having greater recognition as a “Regional” airport would really put Oxford on the map.” Contact details on page 58


CLIENT SUPPORT We can offer independent advice in all areas of financial services.

OXFORD 30 St. Giles, Oxford OX1 3LE Te l . 01865 559900 email . CIRENCESTER 5 Gosditch Street, Cirencester GL7 2AG Te l . 01285 659778 email . ABINGDON 10 Broad Street, Abingdon OX14 3LH Tel . 01235 548700 email . www.wenntownsend .co .uk

B4 LAW On 1 October 2006, new age discrimination laws will be coming into effect. These laws will be the most significant piece of employment legislation for at least the last 10 years. They will affect every aspect of every employment relationship of every business in this country, from recruitment, to terms and conditions of employment to pay and benefits, to termination of employment and retirement. There have been age discrimination laws in force in Ireland and the USA for some time. In each of these countries, 20% of all discrimination claims lodged at Tribunals were age discrimination claims. There is no upper limit to the compensation that can be awarded. Accordingly, it is vital that all businesses take steps now to prepare for the new laws. As with existing discrimination laws, an employee can be discriminated against on the grounds of his age in the following ways: direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. What might currently be regarded as harmless banter could in future form the basis of a claim. For example, ageist birthday cards and comments such as someone being “over the hill”

employer can demonstrate that such a policy encourages loyalty towards the business.

Retirement Employees over the normal retirement age of the business (or 65 if there is no normal retirement age) will in future be able to bring claims for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments. However, where the reason for the dismissal is compulsory retirement it will amount to a fair dismissal and justified age discrimination but only if the employer has followed the statutory retirement procedure.

which should be a diversity monitoring form. The diversity monitoring form would contain information such as the applicant’s name, sex, marital status, date of birth, ethnic origin and details of any relevant medical condition that may affect his ability to perform the job. This form should be removed from the application form so that the manager making the initial shortlist would not see it, thereby avoiding any possibility of him being influenced by any such information which is not relevant to the question as to whether that

The first step of the procedure is for the employer to write to the employee between 6 and 12 months before the intended retirement date to notify him of that date and to inform him of his right to request to stay on beyond retirement. If the employee does want to stay on, he needs to make a written request to the employer at least 3 months before the retirement date. There then needs to be a meeting to discuss the request to stay on. The employer then has to write to the employee with his decision. The employer does not need to give a reason for the decision, but it would be good practice to do so. The employer

AGE DISCRIMINATION ...ARE YOU READY? By 2020 over 30% of workers in the UK will be over 50 and the government is about to bring in legislation that will change the workplace forever. B4 asked David Parry, Partner at Darbys Solicitors, to give us an overview and iron out any wrinkles. person is a suitable candidate. and “past it”. It is the perception of the individual that is important. What one person might find amusing, another person might find objectionable. It is vital that employers pick up on signals put out by distressed employees. It is not just employees who are covered by the new laws, but job applicants, agency staff and sub-contractors. Even former employees might have such protection.

Recruitment Decisions about recruitment, selection and promotion should not be based on age but on the skills needed to do the job in question. Asking for dates of birth on job applications is not in itself discriminatory, but an employer could use the information provided to make an age discriminatory decision, so should be avoided. Best practice would be to draw up a detailed job description (setting out the main functions of the job) and a person specification (setting out the essential and desirable attributes of the ideal candidate for the job). Employers should then draw up a neutral application form, attached to

then has to offer the employee the right of appeal. For businesses of such a size that it would be the same person who receives the applications, shortlists the applicants, interviews them and selects them, this procedure would obviously be inappropriate. Even here, however, it is important that the employer does not make a decision based on information that would be contained in the diversity monitoring form.

An abridged procedure applies if the intended retirement date falls between 1 October 2006 and 31 March 2007. If the correct procedure is not followed, the dismissal is likely to be automatically unfair and unlawful age discrimination.

Employers should take care in drafting job adverts. Expressions such as “dynamic”, “in touch with the latest thinking” should be avoided. Such terms imply that they are looking for employees of a certain age.

Many businesses are “weeding out” employees over the age of 65 before 1 October. Such action is unnecessary and dangerous, because Employment Tribunals will be entitled to look at the employer’s practice before 1 October in deciding whether, in future claims, the employer has been guilty of age discrimination.

Pay & benefits Pay awards or scales based or influenced by age should be reviewed and, where appropriate, amended. Employers should also review benefits, where such benefits increase depending on length of service. Benefits which increase in the first 5 years of employment will be allowed; where benefits increase following 5 years’ service, employers will need to justify such a policy. An example of justification would be where the

Setting retirement ages A retirement age of below 65 will be difficult, if not impossible, to justify. Retirement ages at or above 65 are currently allowed, but this will reviewed by Parliament in 2011. Many businesses are doing away with retirement ages completely and addressing each employee’s situation on a case-by-case basis.

Contact details on page 58




Traditional voice and data technologies are rapidly converging to the point where voice is becoming an application on the data network. VoIP simply allows a telephone call to use a data network in the same way as your e-mail or any other application. This ‘convergence’ means that voice can be extended beyond the traditional telephone system to the data network, which does not have metered call costs associated with it. Reducing operating costs is always an attractive proposition, but the real benefits are the ways in which VoIP can change and improve the way a business works. Satellite offices and home workers can all be part of your central telephone system with all of the associated system benefits such as direct dial, voicemail and external call transfer if they are connected using Voice over IP. Skype is a great example of VoIP and many people are now benefiting from free telephone calls over their Internet connections. However, businesses demand a much more robust service. Business class VoIP needs to be resilient with connectivity and speech quality guaranteed. Voice over IP is not really a new technology, in fact we commissioned our first IP installation in 1998 to allow an F1 team to use their expensive international data links for voice calls. We saved them £200,000 a year! For us, F1 is the ‘bleeding edge’ where we develop the ‘leading edge’ solutions for the vast majority of our clients, but VoIP is also providing many Oxfordshire businesses with advantages over their competitors in different sectors. Mercers Solicitors – Mercers are based across three sites in Henley and historically clients needed to call the office of the particular solicitor they required. Communications were disparate

and clients often had to wait for a call back. Installation of VoIP has allowed Mercers to connect the offices and consolidate communications. Calls are now answered and transferred to and from all staff seamlessly, regardless of the desk they are ‘logged-on’ at. Furthermore, Mercers Fee Earners are able ‘log-on’ to the telephone system from a home office or anywhere where there is an Internet connection. All inter-office and home worker communication is now free of charge which means that the solution will pay for itself in a very short period of time. St. Edward’s School – St. Edward’s is spread over a vast site in North Oxford, some areas of which were not covered by the telephone system. There were, however, data points in the remote areas and it was possible to upgrade the existing telephone system and install an IP link to the data network. The school now has full coverage in all areas and the ability to connect future extensions using the traditional telephone wiring or the LAN. Asta Developments – Based in Thame and Telford, Asta installed an IP solution to ensure that they always projected a single site image to callers. An existing data link now carries voice and data between the Thame and Telford offices and callers are no longer asked to dial another number if the person they require is visiting the other site. Asta are also enabling key staff to work from home using VoIP and a free broadband connection to the home office. This flexibility is seen as being key to continued business growth. Buildbase – One of Oxford’s largest organisations relocated head office from its Watlington Road branch to the impressive new Oxford Business Park. They not only needed to implement seamless communications between

the two sites, contact telephone numbers also had to be maintained. IP telephone systems were installed at both sites and a leased line was installed to carry data and voice over IP between the buildings. Communications are completely seamless.

Of course, at our own offices at Park House we have a fully IP enabled Samsung system and key staff have the ability to make and take calls from home using VoIP. We also send all of our outbound calls over IP which means our call bill is almost non-existent!

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows you to make telephone calls over the Internet using a broadband connection. It’s certainly attracting lots of interest as Oxfordshire companies evaluate the technology and consider the business benefits. Brendon Cross, Managing Director of STL Communications, brings B4 up to speed.


VOICES Contact details on page 58



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B4 MARKETING A brand for Oxfordshire? At first thought, not a problem: dreaming spires, Oxford Blue. But these iconic symbols are now victims of their own cliché. Today’s Oxford is far more - a vibrant, modern city with a unique culture. When promoting Oxfordshire to the wider world, the county’s image tends to be defined by the city, a strong pull for tourists. Although Brand Oxford is readily recognisable – and easy to sell – it fails to represent the county as a whole. There are people in the rural corners of Oxfordshire who rarely, if ever, visit the university city. So for every word used to describe Oxfordshire, its opposite also springs to mind: town and gown, historic and modern, traditional and innovatory; rural and urban. It’s also true to say that the dynamic relationship that exists between these opposites is what makes Oxfordshire such an interesting county. This is substantially different from the traditional heritage view, which Oxford Inspires, the county’s cultural development agency, is keen to readjust to reflect more truthfully the complexity and rich cultural mix which is today’s Oxfordshire. But how to reconcile this into a brand for the year of cultural celebration that is Oxfordshire 2007? Instead of tearing our hair out at the impossibility of reconciling these differences, we used them as our starting point – and having realised the attraction of opposites, we were off. We took two of the most iconic images of city and county, brought them together and gave them a twist. Result: the multicoloured ox. Luckily for us, the ox is not only the symbol of Oxford, but also a rural image, so we felt justified in extending its association beyond the city itself. The White Horse is etched on the Downs at Uffington and we borrowed its distinctive style. It is a striking symbol of old and new Oxfordshire, since this particular corner of the county is a relatively recent addition, when boundaries were redrawn in 1974. Both horse and ox also feature on either side of the county coat of arms.


Oxfordshire 2007, the year of festivals and special events coordinated by cultural development agency Oxford Inspires has an eye-catching logo. Marketing Director Cath Nightingale takes the lid off the creative process that led to its design. So our symbol successfully combines a number of opposites. We also wanted to get away from the heavy, lumbering ox – the civic creature described by Oxford artist Ted Dewan as “famous for its slow wittedness… stomping on the flowers in the public square”. In contrast, our ox is festive and colourful, symbolising playfulness and diversity – and the changing nature of the county. The Oxfordshire 2007 symbol is designed to catch the imagination, reach out to people and be seductive enough for those taking part, both organisers and supporters, to want to belong under its banner. The use of well-known imagery also means that we don’t need to devote a large proportion of our marketing spend on establishing its recognisability. Next year a feast of culture pays tribute to Oxfordshire’s rich history and highlights the exceptional array of creative activity that exists in

the county today. Oxfordshire is changing and we want to celebrate this. Its galleries, museums, theatres and concerts offer programmes of the highest quality to people of all ages. Oxfordshire 2007 will also turn the spotlight on special events and more than 70 festivals, creating exciting collaborations and encouraging people to engage in new cultural adventures. We have a £100,000 marketing budget, funded by Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils, modest for a cultural enterprise of this scale, but enabling us to provide a strong marketing umbrella to enhance individual organisations’ own publicity. Brand recognition is the key. The new symbol, designed in collaboration with Oxford agency Visual Philosophy, achieved widespread publicity at the end of June when we projected it on to another Oxfordshire icon – Didcot Power Station. We shall roll it out over the coming months, in the run up to the launch of Oxfordshire 2007, with the help of The Oxford

Times and BBC Oxford, our principal media partners. This is a year for Oxfordshire people, and we are encouraging local businesses to reap the benefits of association with the brand. BMW Group Plant Oxford, The Oxford Bus Company, The Midcounties Co-operative, Update Software and Raymond Blanc have so far pledged support. We aim to make the Oxfordshire 2007 symbol a household image: it’s already proving a hit with the public and has met with overwhelming approval from the business community. The design allows for future development and we hope that its popularity will enable it to be used for similar programmes in future years. Businesses interested in supporting the Oxfordshire 2007 programme should contact Oxford Inspires development director Kathelene Weiss, 01865 816394.

Contact details on page 58




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BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS Buildbase think building relationships is as important as building houses. B4 spoke to Reg James, their Transport Manager who has been there for 41 years. How old were you when you started work here? ‘I went to school in Watlington and started here when I was 15 in 1965. I was interviewed by Eric Johnson, one of the three founders, and they took me on and put me through an apprenticeship.’ How different was it back in the days of the Golden Shot, Z-Cars and Muffin the Mule? ‘Well back then we were just a timber yard, R J Johnson, run by the three brothers, Phil, Eric and Bob. The basic site was pretty similar. We even had about the same number of people here but it was far more labour intensive. It would take up to 3 hours to load a lorry whereas now we can do it in 30 minutes.’

Have you ever been tempted to leave? No. The best thing about working here is the genuine people, good colleagues that have been here years. You don’t come in to a miserable office here! I’ve even got my son, Chris, working here on the retail side. Now that’s a side of the business that really has changed.

‘The company was really good at putting kids through apprenticeships; it was really progressive and still is. I did mine in Oxford, Reading and Brixton. I was a machinist in the mill and after a while I became the mill foreman and went on to oversee the whole yard.’ An opportunity came up and I moved into the transport management side and that is where I’ve stayed.’ Transport management must have been different then? ‘A fair bit. We had 4 or 5 lorries with set load times. Now it’s more demanding – I blame the mobile phone! Nowadays everybody wants everything yesterday. Even fifteen years ago builders would call in the morning and then late afternoon to say what they needed and we would get it to them the next day. Now they phone anytime and want it yesterday! But Buildbase are service people and we do everything we can.’

And how did you progress through the company?

Natural stone has been a popular choice of paving for thousands of years. Not in this country of course, you can’t quite imagine Robin Hood sitting on his patio sipping a glass of mead, but in the original civilised world of India. So, while Aziz will be the first to boast that he was the first restaurateur to bring Chicken Tikka Massala to Oxford, Buildbase are bringing their own brand of exotica to the household menu with Indian Stone Paving.

popular styles was concrete copies of natural stone flags. Concrete copies offer a number of advantages in some ways. They are cheap compared to the genuine article, they can be cast to modular sizes, making patterns or coursing much simpler, and they can be produced at fairly regular thickness. But they are never unique. Of course, Buildbase isn’t suggesting that they only want to supply temples and palaces. It is

PAVING THE WAY AT BUILDBASE India has a long history, going back to 3200 BC, which is even longer than Buildbase has been in the business. And while Buildbase can’t promise to supply you with a replica of the Taj Mahal in easy-build form, they can bring an exotic hint of India to your garden with their Indian Stone Paving. B4 went digging for the facts.

The whole architectural heritage of the Indian continent has been influenced by deposits of rock and subsequent development and use. There are vast resources of natural stone with a unique colour and great beauty. And while we all stand in awe at the Taj Mahal, all major excavations in India have revealed exquisite stonework, going as far back as Sanchi Stupa from the 3rd Century BC. Over recent decades the choice of concrete flagstones grew exponentially, but one of the most

simply saying that the natural stone deposits in Rajasthan, from where their slabs are sourced, are released from a rock supply that is unique in its integral beauty. There’s no repeat pattern to look for or manufactured colour. In fact, the only part of the process that dictates colour is the quarry the rock is pulled from. And uniqueness is wonderful when it’s embedded forever in stone. Contact details on page 58


Celebrate New Year at Malmaison Mal life. Join us for a night in the cooler this New Year’s Eve. Picture this. You arrive at 7pm. Champagne. Canapes. The works. This is going to be the big one. It’s time to dine. Not your usual prison food. The finest meat, fish and cheese for the taking. Astounding vino on tap and all the important never ending chocolate fountain. A string quartet eases you into the big night, and then boogie woogie with the ‘Fat Cats’ up to the midnight hour. Grab a glass of 12 bells, then its the pipes-a-calling in the A-wing, before dancing to the wee small hours. Lock me up and throw away the key. That’s mal life.

New Year at Mal Party Tickets £125 per person Room and Dinner from £375 (based on 2 people sharing) Mal life at Oxford: 3 Oxford Castle, Oxford, OX1 1AY. To book call 01865 268 400

B4 PR Approaching any company or chief executive for the first time, a well trained business writer will always look for the subtle tell-tale signs that indicate whether business is good or not. The golden rule is to look at shoes, belt and watch. However, a private helicopter parked in the driveway is also a pretty sure bet. And so it is as I approach Peter Holloway’s house. His company, Racoon International, is a world leader in hair extension technology and the associated hair products. The celebrity client list includes Angelina Jolie, Sophie Anderton, Jessica Simpson and Danni Minogue and the company name is never far away from the pages of international fashion magazines. But this is simply a statement of where Racoon is today. Only five years ago the company was in a mess, Holloway explains, ‘We had survived up until then in a hand-to-mouth way. The techniques I was using were the same as they had been when it was just 2 people and one telephone. It was being run in the same way as a cottage industry. We were buying stock inefficiently and expensively. We would buy the minimum order from a London supplier (50 grams), send it out and put the rest in a shoe box!’

B4 Tip: Top tips for better banking relationships Are you doing everything you can to get the best out of your relationship with your business bank manager? Here are ten things to consider: 1 Does your manager understand you and your business? 2 Tell your manager everything about your business, not just the best bits. 3 Have a conversation with your relationship manager about the way in which you want your banking relationship to work. 4 Share your long term aspirations as well as your short term needs. 5 Does your manager provide ideas and solutions to make your life easier based on an understanding of your business? 6 Can your manager deliver the expertise you need, either directly or through contacts? 7 You should be confident that your manager knows their job. 8 How quickly does your bank respond when you need them and do they have the authority to get things done for you? 9 There should be no surprises in your banking relationship from either direction. Always work with your manager, rather than expecting them just to work for you. 10 Be reasonable; remember your bank is a business as well. Jayne Woodley Barclays

A CUT ABOVE THE REST Hair extensions are a growing business but taking the leading company from cottage industry to international success has been no easy matter. Simon Sayce met with Peter Holloway at Racoon International’s headquarters. This is a classic scenario being played out by SMEs across the country because their management techniques have not grown and evolved with the company. Holloway is the archetypal entrepreneur. He is an ex-policeman that moved into the illuminated garage sign business because a mate asked him to. The company was sold, life was complicated and another acquaintance brought him in to manage a wig company. But the company wasn’t all it seemed and promises weren’t all they promised to be. It wasn’t too long before Holloway was setting up his own business, having developed a unique adhesive for hair extensions. But the business was under-resourced and relied on passion and long hours rather than management systems.

plane, John Webb. But he wasn’t just handy with aircraft models, he also happened to be an expert with full-scale business models too and he agreed to have a look at Racoon. ‘It was the turning point. It was the first time the company had ever had a professional manager on board’. Webb is clear about what he saw, ‘It was an inherently good business. The idea was there. The demand was there. But it had no serious financial management and a terrible stock resource. Basically, it needed good husbanding because it has a brilliant gross margin once you have overheads under control. I just brought in a detached, professional view and proper financial controls’.

‘The business was going ballistic but the cost had been heavy. We had taken too much capital out of the company, I was separating from my partner who held 50% of the shares, my bank wasn’t playing ball and I was still packing boxes myself!’

Webb’s input created a clarity of vision for the company and for Holloway which led, 12 months later, to Racoon bringing in Eva Proudman as General Manager. An ex-BT executive, Proudman brought levels of business acumen and profile to the business that Holloway is still in awe of her ‘In two years she has generated a higher profile than I could ever have done’.

But two things were about to change everything. Firstly, Simon Cachia from Barclays took a long hard look at the company, set up a business banking facility and gave Holloway the resources to buy his partner out and move forward. And secondly ? A piece of luck. Holloway went for a walk on Warwick Common and met a man with a model

The business now runs itself without Peter Holloway being there all of the time. Racoon International is a major success story within the style industry. As Holloway walks off to jump into the helicopter he sums up ‘Yes you need the good idea. But you also need good management, a good bank and, occasionally, a piece of good luck!’ Contact details on page 58


B4 ACCOUNTING A report has been published by the National Consumer Council entitled ‘The Stupid Company’. The catchy title caught our editor’s eye, but a 46 page document describing how businesses through away money by alienating customers is hardly light reading. Luckily, accountants prefer financial reports to a good Dan Brown novel so B4 asked Ajay Bahl , a partner with Wenn Townsend, to give us an overview and some professional advice.

A CHECKLIST FOR SUCCESS Everyone wants to have a successful business. But what makes a successful business and what attributes do these businesses have?

Explain in advance what the likely costs are to be. The reasons for any additional costs should be explained. 2. Provide continuity

Once you start reading business features about winning companies, and the people behind them, you begin to find patterns in values, aims and operating procedures. These are not great secrets divulged by so-called business gurus, they are common sense to a large extent but they will always require a company to stay focused.

Have systems in place to ensure that customers have continuity of service. Ensure that clients are aware of their points of contact and try to minimise staff changes. 3. Give the personal touch

1. Strong leadership with good lines of communication between management, staff, customers and suppliers. 2. Staff must be aware of the business’ aims and what is expected of them to achieve these aims. 3. The business values its staff. Regular meetings are held to assess staff performance with agreed criteria and, if necessary, to establish training needs for the future. 4. The business is customer focused. They are aware of what their customers want and the price that they are willing to pay.

Encourage staff to treat clients as individuals and to show initiative. Ensure controls are in place to deal with client communications in the agreed/expected time frame. The use of e-mail has many plus points but a minus is clients expect an instant response. If this cannot be achieved, ensure that clients are informed of this as soon as possible and provide them with a timescale of dealing with their query. 4. Provide a continuing service

5. The business has a well marketed/branded product/service. 6. The business is adaptable to changes in its market. Indeed, the organisation is at the forefront of change so it anticipates and not reacts to a changing market place.

We do not forget our clients once the tax return, audit or accounts have been completed. We keep them aware of changes that could impact their business via our quarterly newsletter. Make clients aware of your website as this should contain information on your latest products/services as well as information relevant to your business sector.

7. A good relationship with suppliers 5. Keep things simple 8. Good internal controls including management. In business cash is king.


Keeping your Customers Happy 1. Have an honest and straightforward approach to pricing

Try and explain complex issues simply. Use terminology that your clients can understand. If mistakes happen inform the client as soon as possible and put in place procedures to rectify the problem.

B4 Comment: B4 is as reliant on customer feedback as any company. We rely on information and advice from our readers, our sponsors, our advertisers and those we talk to within the business community on a daily basis. However, we are at the beginning of a steep learning curve so we thought a few words from somebody with a teeny weeny bit more experience may prove to be informative. This is what Sir Terry Leahy of Tesco has to say; ‘I attend customer panels as a way of life. I used to work in marketing – and developed a number of these tools – but for me the most powerful thing is still listening to customers. All this information could just gather dust. But it doesn’t, it’s hard wired into the key decision-making committees of the company. The customer gives the leadership of the business the plain and simple truth about the business – it’s the most honest feedback you ever get. In my experience, if you listen really closely they not only tell you what’s wrong – they actually tell you what you need to do (and it’s all free advice). Then what you have to do is believe them – and act on it! ‘I want to labour this point. It isn’t enough to use the language of the customer. You really have to believe the customer. This is where I think many organisations fall down. Because they only pay lip-service to the consumer, they never really find out where their business is. They never learn where they need to be, and even when they do, they don’t always have the courage to go there’. Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco

Contact details on page 58



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A Home From Home - Nick Walker Divorce is stressful and unsettling for all involved - husband, wife & children. But with access to products and facilities not normally available in the public domain, we can tailor-make the mortgage arrangements to ensure that the family is able to move forward in the best way possible. A typical family in the Oxford area live in a 3 bedroomed semi detached property with a value of £300,000. A divorce could well mean that instead of requiring one property, suddenly there is a need to provide two similar properties for the divorcing couple and children. Even with a modest current mortgage of £100,000 on the matrimonial home, purchasing two, more modest properties, at £250,000, and without any significant savings, would require mortgage arrangements of at least £300,000.This still represents a significant increase in borrowing for the family but, more importantly, it can put major stresses on the couple when they are least able to cope.


The world is a financial minefield and changes in circumstance can change your life overnight. The Focus Group specialise in finding both proactive and reactive solutions working closely with other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants. Nick Walker and Gary Hunt of Focus explain how.

Proper expert advice is essential to ensure that there is not further pressure placed on an, already stretched situation. Whilst both parties may well have their own representation both legally and financially, increasingly, today, separations tend to be more amicable and agreeable and therefore discussions can take place in a mutually open environment. We often assists lawyers by providing assessments of mortgage capability for both parties, and advising the individuals on the best and most appropriate schemes. Arrangements can be suited to particular needs and requirements because we are always aware that every situation is different and that, at the end of the day, our business isn’t about money, it’s about people.

Plan Before To Protect Afterwards Gary Hunt Working closely with other business advisors, such as accountants and solicitors, is key to our solution process when advising their business clients. Any expenditure on insurance is usually viewed as a "stress purchase” but a balance needs to be sought between a potential loss in the future, with a financial cost now. But not enough companies look into the subject, and are therefore unnecessarily exposed to a potential financial risk. Confusion also exists between the terms shareholder protection and key person protection. Shareholder Protection This is often referred to as Director Share Purchase or Partnership Cover, depending on the nature of the organisation. A legal document should exist to confirm the agreement of the owners as to how the business is structured and how the ongoing ownership would change upon death or serious illness of one of the owners. It is usual for the affected owner to

want their ownership value to pass to their family, but similarly the surviving owners would normally want to retain the ownership of that part of the business if possible. This can be achieved with proper planning. Unfortunately many organisations have no such agreement and no insurance protection. But a well planned agreement will confirm what needs to happen but, most importantly, adequate insurance needs to exist. In essence, the insurance monies pass to the surviving owners who then pay these monies to the family in exchange for the affected owner’s share of the business. Each owner therefore needs insurance on their life written in trust for the benefit of the other owners. This can either be for life assurance only or to include critical illness. Key Person Protection Why would a company insure a filing cabinet or a desk, but not the ‘key’ people who actually generate the profits for that business? No reason at all, but that is a typical scenario that exists in the UK today. Establishing just who is 'key' is not easy as all employees will in some way be important, to all

organisations. Perhaps a key person provides expertise, contacts or other assets, but his or her loss could prove very damaging. A banks confidence may be undermined; a customers decision to review agreements with the firm may be put at risk; changes to credit arrangements are common and there can be staff instability. The cost of replacement could well be high, in terms of recruitment, training and upgraded remuneration. Yet management must move quickly, to prevent competitors from seizing the advantage. The business needs an immediate injection of cash, above and beyond the normal needs of the firm, to fund the transition or replace lost profits. Insurance protection should therefore be established on the lives on those employees considered to be 'key', whereupon these monies would pass to the employer to compensate for such a loss. This is really all about sensible business planning and eliminating risks that do not need to be taken. TV entertainers Ant & Dec have just taken out this type of insurance as they understood just how much each would be affected should the other one die or suffer a serious illness. Even Ant & Dec know that it’s no laughing matter. Contact details on page 58


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PARTNERS WITH A UNITED GOAL “We have got to build on the synergies between our business and the businesses of our supporters – what works for us has got to work for them – we have got to align, as best we can, our business model with their business model. The main aim – to bring this club back to the local and business community. Above all we have got to make this club approachable again. And it’s working. We had 1,000 more fans at our first home game than we did last year and if the results continue as they have, we see no reason why the total attendance this year will not easily outstrip last year’s and that’s no mean feat.”

“We have got a great product.” That’s the key message Kelvin Thomas wants to underline and he is VERY passionate about it. Over a period of 20 years since the epic Milk Cup Final win in 1986, Oxford United Football Club has experienced a steady decline, but this is changing. Richard Rosser finds out how. Even though its quiet at the Kassam Stadium, the Conference Centre is quiet, the car park is quiet, Kelvin knows it’s not the way it should be. But as one of the new Directors of Oxford United FC, along with fellow directors Nick Merry (Chairman) and Jim Smith (First Team Manager) their hands are tied – there is little they can do without controlling the stadium….. but that will come, all in good time. Thomas, is planning a quiet, understated revolution. And you get the feeling that he, together with his off-field and on-field team, will turn things around. The new Oxford United are undergoing their own “re-branding” (see Page 50) if you like and it will be an Oxford United more in tune with the people and businesses of Oxford. It sounds ridiculous but when Oxford United moved physically, it literally moved out of some people’s mind and lives. Two things are clear talking to Kelvin and his

commercial front man, Peter Corbett. The past is literally history and they are constantly working with the stadium company to improve things. The second point is that the “obstacles” they are up against vis a vis stadium ownership are “temporary inconveniences”. You know they’ll overcome the barriers and you know they have the quiet resolve, hunger, strength and determination to do so with some style and, in the process, win over a lot of friends, both old and new. A lot of the old supporters have come back to support the new regime and did so fairly quickly, but through natural causes, some old support was lost forever. Think about it. In twenty years, lots of people come and go and the same applies in business. The bedrock of the new Oxford United is a series of “Partnerships” with business – the word “sponsorship” is openly frowned upon. Kelvin continues, “We look at every new business we speak to, every opportunity to speak to a new contact, as an opportunity to get a new partner on board. We are not looking to get them to sponsor every match ball so that we become a nuisance, we want them to be phoning us up for sponsorship opportunities because they want to be associated with Oxford United, not just because we are the local Club and they feel they have an obligation to support us. We want them to get as much, if not more, out of the “partnership”, as we do.”

Corbett is working hard to make the new machine work smoothly. “Kelvin is a huge support to me but I know I’m the front man on the commercial side and I have got to build the relationships with business and supporters. “Friendly not forceful” is my motto. We are just implementing a new data capture / customer relations management system. It enables us to focus on the wants and needs of our “customers”. Its all about knowing the profile of your individual customers and this new system allows us to do this. In turn we show our supporters that we are getting to know them and hopefully they are getting to know us.” Oxford United is entering a new era. Some could argue that relegation to the Conference was a blessing in disguise. It gave the new regime a clean slate. The team has been refreshed. The sympathy vote has helped get support on board. But the hard work has started and the foundations are in place for a great future. OK they’ll never challenge Chelsea, but write your “new” local football club off at your peril. They are quietly confident and if you want to be part of it, nail your colours to the mast now as it promises to be an interesting next few years and there’s nothing to stop you enjoying the ride first hand. A lot of us lost Oxford United for a while …… it’s safe to say Oxford United are back and they mean business.

B4 Offer: For all B4 readers, Kelvin and Peter would like to invite you to experience the Corporate Packages on offer. Contact Peter quoting “B4 Corporate Matchday experience at Oxford United” and Peter can organise two tickets for you to come to a game and see what the Club can offer your business. Terms and conditions apply. Contact details on page 58



Being head of operations for any large company is a daunting task. But being in charge of a cornerstone of Britain’s heritage requires something special. Simon Sayce met with John Hoy, the first ever CEO of Blenheim Palace. Walking through the stunning parks of Blenheim Palace you would be forgiven for thinking that the work methods that maintain this World Heritage Site have remained unchanged for the 300 years it has been standing. But the Duke of Marlborough and Trustees of Blenheim have an awesome responsibility in this modern world. The global economic marketplace is as dangerous a battlefield as anything Winston Churchill, born in the palace, ever faced. Rover is about to be reborn as a Chinese firm, Jaguar is American and Rolls Royce is German. Like Blenheim, these were British icons. They are no longer.

The History Three years ago, Blenheim Palace appointed its first ever CEO, John Hoy. Hoy has a very British presence to him. He is tall and slim with the dress sense of someone who likes Golden Retrievers. And he uses an old, light grey Nokia that even my mother would throw in my face. The Duke has chosen a versatile and insightful businessman in


Hoy but the job requires an eclectic mix of skills that are a rare combination in any one man. ‘The role I carry out requires farming knowledge, land and estate management and leisure industry expertise. But the critical requirement was commercial reality at the sharp edge’. The sharp edge that Hoy refers to is the Tussauds Group, Europe’s top visitor attraction business and one of the world’s leading leisure and entertainment companies. Hoy was brought up in a farming family and maintains his interests in the business but had gone on to study and qualify in Rural Estate Management. He then spent five years at Goodwood where he was heavily involved in the leisure element of the estate, followed by thirteen years at Knebworth. Here he advanced the business in terms of its leisure profile and enhanced its reputation as a leading concert and corporate hospitality venue. His work there led to him

being offered the

position of Head of Operations for Warwick Castle for the Tussauds Group. Then, at the beginning of 2000, Hoy was promoted to head up the company flagship, Madame Tussauds. This was a little like being given a Ferrari with a dodgy steering column. Exciting, impressive at dinner parties, but really not fun. ‘The problem we had was that the budget had already been set when I arrived and based on the aspirational forecasts of a millennium year with high growth and large spend. In fact, the London Eye and Millennium Dome didn’t drive business to us, as the group believed, they took it away’. This called for the immortal accounting strategy ‘We made cuts, we made cuts and then, just to be sure, we made cuts. In the end we came through with our bottom line intact but it was damned tough’. It didn’t get any easier. 2001 brought Foot & Mouth plus 9-11 ‘The budget was too high in year one and in year two the UK tourism business was blown away’. But there are business angels for

B4 INTERVIEW those who believe. At the end of 2002 Hoy was approached by Blenheim and in January ’03 he was sitting behind the desk he sits at today. ‘At the point where I came in the estate had been run for decades in a traditional manner, which had been fine, but 9-11 changed the tourism world forever. The world is now a fragile place, the North American market especially so’. At that time the overseas market accounted for over 50% of the London leisure attraction spend. Blenheim was

‘We had to fill the void that was opening up at a rate of knots. This meant making Blenheim irresistibly attractive to the home market, locally and throughout the SE’. This statement is akin to Stuart Rose, who took over M&S in 2004, saying ‘I thought we should make people buy more of our stuff’. He didn’t, but now they do. Hoys weapons of choice were classic business tools; Management, Marketing, PR and Brand Identity. This is not always simple ‘Rebranding and

remit ‘The secret was getting Blenheim to look at itself as one business. There will always be much to do but there is also so much potential. It never finishes. We have just published our World Heritage Site Management Plan. This guides our hand and helps us drive business forward. It’s a valuable tool that helps us prioritise our spending’.

refreshing what is on offer annually, or bi-annually, is challenging when what is on offer is a 300 year old stately home that may not have the flexibility that would be preferred. We had to look at perception – a palace can be staid and static’.

does Hoy measure his success? There is passing reference to a 30% increase in gross income to the estate. There is a satisfaction in adding thirty-plus new build rental properties to the portfolio, increasing asset value and creating new relationships with agencies such as Carter Jonas Savills, Darbys and Grant Thornton. .

There was a classic scenario of fragmented teams and management not working together. There was little purchase management or understanding how one group’s decision will affect another. A key solution Hoy has achieved during his tenure has been making everybody think as one. He puts this down to two simple elements:

less reliant on the tourist dollar but it still probably accounted for 25-30% of gross visitor income. So Hoy took the role of CEO just as the Blenheim Estate was watching over one quarter of its potential revenue stream potentially shrinking or falling away. It could have been a poisoned chalice that he was about to sip from. Let’s face it, if you personally oversee the terminal decline and demise of an iconic British Palace, a World Heritage Site and the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill, future job prospects will be limited and will generally involve some sort of brush and pan.

The Strategy Hoy, the Duke and the trustees knew there was potential, but knowing what has to be done and actually getting it to happen is a different thing entirely. Making it happen whilst at risk of losing 25% of gross revenue is the sort of situation Churchill himself would have relished if he had chosen to work in the retail sector rather than politics.

1) ‘Lead from the front with one voice. I sat down with them and talked about a vision of where we wanted to go. It was a clear vision with the key areas being business to business and property. There had never been full staff meetings before. People felt valued and the teams began to understand each others challenges and problems. 2) Now we have monthly managers meetings. We now run ourselves as a commercial business. The trustees receive a full report from me every month. Hoy had to create a management team from scratch. The estate had a traditional team that included a gardens manager, maintenance manager, rural enterprise manager and gamekeeper. Hoy’s first appointment was a Finance Director to help shape the budgeting, financial reporting and look after budgets. He then brought in a Property Director and an Operations Director.

The Result Hoy is remarkably focused given the width of his

Blenheim now has a 5 year rolling strategy, enhanced relationships with Oxfordshire’s business community and a true vision. But how

The real pride in his work is in the palace itself ‘This business is also the Duke’s home. Everything we do is to protect Blenheim. We have just ordered the restoration of six terracotta statues taken down decades ago. Later this year they will be back where they belong on the North portico of the palace. The Duke is a superb custodian for Blenheim and it will be passed on to the next generation in a far better position than it was when he inherited it’. He’s right. So the least the Duke can do is to buy Hoy a new mobile phone. B4 Comment: ‘I drive through Woodstock on my way to Oxford and you cannot help but see the impact John’s strategy is having on the Palace as an amenity for locals. He illustrates a very important point; that Blenheim was previously seen as an attraction for tourists and didn’t really focus on its local market. But now, almost every weekend, there seems to be things going on to appeal to all sorts of people, from horse trials to family fun days. For me this demonstrates that the key to success can be found in clarification and simplicity. Good business leaders question everything and surround themselves with a strong team that can make things happen’ Jayne Woodley. Barclays Bank. Contact details on page 58


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Oxford Gaol finally closed it’s gates in 1996. It had never been the most attractive of accommodation for inmates and had even been condemned in a 1770 prison report as being unfit for habitation. B4 sent Mickey ‘The Monkey-Wrench’ Trotter, a recent inmate, back behind bars to see what’s changed.

DOIN’ TIME A couple of glasses of the House white later and ‘her-indoors’ had relaxed quite a bit, as had I. The food smelt far better than it used to and the service has moved on leaps and bounds. I was ready to settle in for a session but the missus wanted to freshen-up before dinner so we decided to check out our cell. We don’t get out as much we would like (that was something you did hear a lot when I was last here) as we have a couple of kids back home, Shiraz and Shardonnay, so this was a bit of an occasion. It’s a bit different nowadays in Oxford jail. Me and the missus didn’t really know what to expect. Walking through the lobby for the first time I was half expecting to have my collar felt and the wife was expecting to be searched. The lobby now has, what I call, ambience. Twenty years ago I thought that was a white van with flashing ‘blues’ on top. No, ambience was not a word that got used much by me and the guys – even after lights out. It still gave me the collywobbles to be back though, so before being escorted to our cell we thought we might grab a stiff one at the bar. Now I’ve got a thing about bars – I don’t like them. I don’t even like the name. So it’s lucky the Malmaison (French for old jail in the heart of Oxford) don’t have a bar. It’s got a brasserie. And some. It’s all a bit atmospheric, dark even, and I’m amazed they don’t get stuff nicked.

Even being escorted to the room was a different experience altogether. It was quieter, our bags were carried and we were given a key (well a card-thing). The walkways and balconies are pretty much the same but carpeted and lit better for sure. There is also a ‘secondary glass structure to protect those gazing over the barrel vaulted atrium’. It used be ‘the balconies’, now it’s a ‘barrel vaulted atrium’. You can see why architects get bullied in jail.

No, the missus had found the bathroom and gave me a shout. Blimey, things have come on. It was amazing. Walk in twin showers (not my idea of fun), a deep bath and luxury fittings everywhere. There was even a small note that read ‘Feel free to take the toiletries’. For a moment I considered unscrewing the sink but then remembered that I was not here to work. For the first time in my life I was happy to stay in jail for a night. We ate good food, had a few glasses of wine and then took a trip down memory lane with a game of pool in the old Visiting Room. The next morning we sat down to a Full English which set us up for a day of sightseeing. They even had porridge on the breakfast menu but, as my old man used to say ‘Once you’ve done porridge son, you don’t want to do it again’. And that is the difference between porridge and Malmaison, because rather than leaving as planned, we booked straight back in and started again.

But I digress. Let’s get down to the ‘meat and potatoes’, the rooms. Bloody hell they’ve changed! For a start the windows open. We were in the ‘Tower Suite’. I instinctively went and had a look at the safe. Not a bad one as it happens so I put some money into it – which was a first. There was loads of useful stuff in the room. For me there was wine, beer, slippers, snacks, a DVD player and a huge flatscreen TV. For her there was an ironing board and an iron, but she wasn’t having any of it. Contact details on page 58



Oxford University is renowned worldwide as a centre of research excellence. What is less well publicised is how the oldest university in the English-speaking world has transformed itself from a centre of learning into a centre of earning. Simon Sayce talks to Joe Barclay

BUSINESS EDUCATION The average undergraduate spends only 6.3 hours awake each day, of which two will still be in bed and three will be at a pub. Nevertheless, Oxford University has honed the productive use of the remaining 1.3 hours into an art form. Oxford inspires ongoing generations to devote themselves to learning, teaching and philosophical thought at the highest level. Teaching has existed here since 1096 but in 1231 the masters of teaching were recognised as a universitas or corporation. The university developed rather quickly after 1167 when Henry II banned students from attending the University of Paris, which is the sought of protectionist policy that George Bush only dreams of. Oxford has been at the heart of political controversy, scientific discovery and religious revival ever since. In the last century it has become a world renowned centre for the research and development of natural and applied sciences. But the university realises that there are lessons and skills that cannot be easily mastered or taught from within. Some talents have to be found elsewhere. After nine centuries of existence Oxford is getting to grips with the world of business – and we are not talking about 2 minute pitches on Dragon’s Den. Joe Barclay, a commercial banker by trade, overseas this ‘Third stream’ of university activity. The first and second streams will always be research and teaching. ‘I am employed directly by the university itself. My role is to oil the cogs of the wealth creation agenda for the university’ says Barclay with the typical directness of a banker ‘The university is a very

powerful force in the local economy in four key areas: what it spends, the research it conducts, the training and professional development via the Said Business School and last, but by no means least, the creation of businesses through the commercialisation of technology’. In simple but large figures the collegiate University injects an estimated £482 million into the local economy every year and adds £274 million to local disposable income. But while the figures are impressive and talk of the commercialisation of technology or the ‘oiling of cogs’ makes the process sound straightforward, the reality is that it takes an elaborate and complex corporate infrastructure to turn research into fiscal success. Barclay explains ‘An academic working within university research will spend maybe 80% of available time on research and 20% on administration. This does not work in the corporate sector. As a company spins out from the university it needs expertise in finance, accounting, sales, marketing and management. The science remains important but it’s a lesser proportion. Often, if you talk to a scientist about cash flow his eyes glaze over and he nods off. So, on the whole, Managing Directors are found from outside the University’. To make the process happen Oxford University has developed a system which is second to none. It is called Isis Innovation Limited. Isis is a wholly owned subsidiary of the university. Its role is to exploit technology transfer through licensing or the creation of spin out companies. Isis files on average one new patent application a week and spins out a new company from University research every two

months. These spin out companies have already reached a collective value of £2 billion. This activity has a secondary impact on the area as Barclay explains ‘Apart from companies being created locally, another part of the phenomenon is that companies are coming to this part of the world because there is expertise both in terms of personnel and the research capabilities on offer. For instance Sharp Laboratories are here so that they can be close to the University facilities and interact’. The biggest problem is getting good management for the various companies combined, as always, with the funding problem. Here is where the Said Business School, part of the University, plays an increasingly important role. The business school has specialists in entrepreneurship and has a science enterprise centre to help scientists in particular understand business (see: ‘eyes glazing over’). It has had tremendous success in educating scientists with business, management, managing cash flow and setting up companies. The school can even draw on different faculties within the university to bring in experts in areas such as political risk and economics – sometimes critical in the modern global economy. Of course, as any businessman knows, there is always an element of risk and the first two years are critical with any new company. Barclay closes with a fitting analogy ‘These companies are like children. They start off very close to the university and they need careful nurturing in the early days, but eventually they grow up and look after themselves. The bigger ones then `fly the nest’. He pauses before adding ‘Inevitably we have also had a few troublesome teenagers too. That’s life and everyone is human after all’.

Contact details on page 58




There are few, if any, businessmen that are recognisable from their first name alone. Mr Rahman is an exception though. His first name sits above the door of four of Oxfordshire’s best restaurants. Simon Sayce looks at the man behind the name.

On most nights of the week Aziz-Ur Rahman can be found walking amongst the tables of his famous Cowley Road restaurant, Aziz. If he’s not there, he is probably walking amongst similar tables at one of his three other restaurants in Oxford, Witney and Burford. Aziz is, by his own admission, something of a workaholic ‘Dedication is needed to be in this industry but it is also vitally important to enjoy the work and I’ve been blessed with that. But it is creativity that sets one business apart from another, this is true in every business sector but food is like fashion, we are constantly changing’. So, you would be forgiven for thinking that a workaholic restauranteur with four customer-facing operations twenty miles apart and a working day that ends at midnight, isn’t going to have much time for other interests. Wrong. At a recent meeting with John Vernon, a Director of Oxford Business Enterprise (OBE), I mentioned Aziz. ‘Excellent food. Brilliant businessman. He’s a fellow Director and a vital part of what we do in Oxford’. What Aziz has chosen to do with the business knowledge and expertise he has built up over the years, is to give something back, not only in the UK, but in his birthplace ‘Bangladesh has a huge amount to offer the world and, Britain especially, but it is only 35 years old and needs much development’. He is passionate about this and is a central part of many business development enterprises. Apart from his Directorship of OBE, he is also Director

General of the Bangladesh-British Chamber of Commerce, founding Director of the British Bangla Education Trust and Trustee of the Bangladesh Female Academy. Aziz has an understanding of how, in a country where female literacy is as low as 14% in some areas, education not only brings knowledge, it brings action. ‘I am a British Bangladeshi’ he enthuses ‘I try to contribute commercially and socially in my local area because it is my home, we are part of the Oxford Inspires 2007 celebrations. But I love Bangladesh too. It has great potential if we develop it properly’. With that aim, Aziz is working on the development of two schools and is financing development of a rural broadband infrastructure that will revolutionise business and education in the poorest areas. The educational interests are enhanced with his own company, Oxford Academia, through which he is a member of the Oxford Brookes University Court Board ‘Oxford is a major centre for learning and I use much of my time trying to encourage Bangladeshi students to come here’. But Oxford remains home, not just for his family, but for his business ‘I can only do what I do because of Aziz restaurants. It is central to everything and I rely on a hard-working team that I know I can trust implicitly’. But does Aziz still enjoy what he does by the end of each day? He laughs ‘You know, I am the host of a party every night. But at the end of the party the guests not only thank me, they pay me too!’

Contact details on page 58




The internet is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to business. But it needs to be used properly. B4 asked Francesca Phang, Internet Marketing Consultant for WSI, to help untangle the web and stop an on-line solution from becoming an on-line problem.

With 63% of shoppers now relying on the internet for information, the power of the website cannot be over estimated but here are some key benefits; • Enhance your brand image: A website has the power to make a small business look bigger and better. • Increase market access: Websites have no boundaries and the potential growth for small businesses on a global scale is phenomenal. The marketplace is no longer the sole domain of major corporate entities • Build targeted website traffic: Don’t use a cannon to kill a mosquito. Mailshots and badly targeted advertising wastes time and money. With a website, you don’t have to pay for a database because your website can capture that data. • Customer convenience: No traffic, no parking, and no hassle shopping! So how is it that most websites don’t work? Many businesses are disappointed with their websites and the lack of income generated from them. But many web-designers don’t touch the world outside of their Apple Macs and the results show. Remember, customers can be fickle especially online. They also have a short attention span. At the slightest sign of impropriety, customers will leave the site and go back to their search engine results to find another site and they will do this until they find what they are looking for. So what does it take to be an effective website? • • • •

Complete product information with strong content Well organised layout and overall presentation Good and easy navigation Easy to locate

Building a website need not cost you a fortune and you don’t need technical staff on your payroll. But it is vital that you use a specialist that will work with your business to ensure that your own business goals are matched and reflected by your website. Every website is an investment; not just a capital item. A key operation that is often overlooked is monitoring. You need to know how many visitors are converted to customers. It is simply looking at the Return On Investment (ROI) but it is key to the success of your internet business and successful marketing strategy. There are key elements to the calculation process but you may find it useful to go to WSI’s online calculator (see: in the section “Converting Your Customers”. See how healthy your website is. Make sure you approach the Internet from a business perspective, analysing all the angles and developing solutions that will produce measurable results and help you gain a competitive edge. Build in on-going support into your web-business plan. Remember that the internet is not static, it is live, it is vital and it will communicate with you if you know how to watch, listen & learn. B4 Offer: In association with B4 magazine, WSI is offering a free WebScan report (worth £300) for businesses who wish to have their website reviewed. The WebScan report is a comprehensive 20-page report analysing customer traffic, conversion rates and website features. Businesses considering a website are offered a free initial consultation to consider a website solution. WSI is the world’s largest network of internet marketing consultants with offices serving over 87 countries. It is ranked No.1 for internet services by the Entrepreneur magazine. Contact: Francesca Phang on 01865 862727 or email: Contact details on page 58



THE INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESS Over the past 19 years, The Cake Shop in The Covered Market (in the heart of Oxford) has established a reputation and a customer base many businesses could only dream of. Considering the product is associated with celebrations, B4 takes the opportunity to talk to Sally Davis, Managing Director of The Cake Shop, to find out the ingredients for this tasty success story. Sally has just taken an order for yet another wedding cake. As the bride and groom to be exit The Cake Shop you get the impression from the military tone of the bride (and the way the silent groom seemed to be just there for the plastic) that the cake will be just as she dreamed when she was a 5 year old. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how wild or imaginative that dream was, Sally Davis and her team at The Cake Shop will interpret it perfectly and the Bride will hesitate to cut the cake on her big day in awe at just how the cake has been created. The cakes here are no ordinary, off the shelf, supermarket cakes. Each one is different and to view the dedicated staff through the window is a

clever way of reinforcing the hard work which goes into these masterpieces, each one very different but produced with the care and attention that merits the occasions they are often made for. Weddings, christenings, book launches, successful sales performances, Sally has delivered cakes for a multitude of occasions. She explains that one of the first cakes she made was for a christening. That same child has just celebrated her 16th birthday and Sally has made a cake for each and every one of the intervening 15 year birthdays – “I’d like to do her wedding” says Sally “although it makes me feel old just thinking about it !” But Sally doesn’t bear the look of someone who has put so much of her life into a mixing bowl. She has the support of a great team and the nature of the job means that staff turnover cannot be high “It takes us three years to train a new member of staff to pick up an order and see it right through to the finished cake so when we get someone talented, we keep hold of them for dear life”. One of Sally’s key members of staff, Alison, has been with her for 10 years and this is typical of the staff generally.

The list of customers is impressive – Blackwells, Oxford University Press, Mercedes, even reproductions of hearts on cakes for the John Radcliffe – sounds like a winner for the students !

B4 Facts: Five things that people don't know about cakes: 1. "What the Romans did for us" was create the wedding cake albeit a less tasty version of the modern day cake. 2. The traditional rich fruit style of cake dates back to the Medieval period. 3. Cochineal (red) food colouring is made from crushed beetles. 4. Easter Simnel cakes were originally baked for Mother's Day 5. When rationing was introduced during WWII, people often replaced the cake with decorated boxes or tins.

Contact details on page 58



IT’S ALL IN HAND How often have you seen a new business, any business, refurbish for the sake of refurbishing ? Rod is right, customers don’t turn their back on a restaurant so much for the colour of the carpet or the pictures on the wall, it’s the quality of service and the overall experience that matters and that’s where the Cleasby’s have focussed their attention.

Rod and Kym-Marie Cleasby are seasoned professionals that actually share an IT background. In just 18 months their restaurant has established a superb reputation, in a relatively short period of time, providing consistently high standards in food, service and wine. The wine list has obviously been carefully tested to ensure that satisfied customers keep coming back and that new customers continue to discover The Bird in Hand. Rod Cleasby is very proud of his restaurant and rightly so. “Back in December 2004 when we took on this under-achieving business, we made a conscious decision not to change its character in terms of refurbishing. Sure we made changes, but we have put our efforts into creating a wonderful menu, excellent service and a wine list to which we have given extensive thought and road testing.”

The back-up is impressive. Head Chef Graham Aimson, ex London Reform Club, is keen to make sure I mention that all of the food is made on the premises. Graham speaks with pride about his suppliers – “Parkland beef, supplied by Bakers Butchers, locally reared and only available to selected outlets in the area; fish from New Wave and Fish Offshore; fruit and veg is from Peter Durham and a local bakery supplies the bread. Our local free range egg supplier is, however, a closely guarded secret.” Rod has a special passion for the wine, ranging from the crisp and light J Moreau Vin Blanc to a fine Chateau St Andre, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. “Our wines are sourced from around the world and I like to make sure that our customers have confidence in our choice of wines, anything from an excellent house wine to the Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon on our Reserve list. We score very highly with our wines – some customers even order cases of wine from us.” Looking towards Christmas, Rod is adding a marquee on to the side of the business conference room so that this complete

self-contained area will be able to accommodate up to 80 people. Rest assured this will be a great place to have a party. Rod and Kym-Marie put a lot of thought into everything they do. Maybe I’ve lead a sheltered life but I have never seen the clever use of “Gold”, “Frankincense” and “Myrrh” for their different Christmas menus available in December. Whatever the occasion you can bet on a great experience at The Bird in Hand – I don’t think Rod and Kym-Marie would have it any other way.

B4 Fact: Additional facilities and facts 16 hotel rooms 2 meeting rooms – seat for food 40 & 16 or conference style 20 “Break-out” rooms also available in sectioned off areas of the restaurant Parking for 100 cars Garden spill out area for meeting room use The Bird in Hand is a 100% non smoking hotel and restaurant Lunch and dinner served 7 days a week

Contact details on page 58



HOME CLEAN HOME FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE MYHOME Reason 1 A company you can trust Myhome take pride in the quality of their work and in making sure they don’t let you down.

Gurmukh Randhawa portrays the mixed emotions of a man who is proud of his business and one who knows what a days hard work is. “It is hard work” says Gurmukh, “but we are building a business which is rapidly expanding and a business which both Rajinder and I know is a business for life.”

Reason 2 Security – You don’t want just anybody in your property All myhome staff are full-time employees (they do not use part-time or casual staff) who are fully insured and have been through myhome’s strict vetting and selection process. Reason 3 Customer Service Myhome tailor the cleaning plan and schedule to the customer’s individual needs, supply all equipment and materials and try to ensure that the same cleaning teams comes back every time so there’s nothing for the customer to worry about. Reason 4 Qualified Staff All myhome staff have completed the comprehensive training programme and an experienced supervisor is present on each job. Reason 5 Results with Value Myhome specialise only in residential homes and are able to offer an outstanding service at competitive rates.

With 12 full time employees, all trained under the strict franchise agreement training programme, coupled with Gurmukh’s strong sales and marketing background and Rajinder’s crucial human resources background, the myhome team is very strong. “All of our staff are Police checked – this is vital when you are letting your staff represent you in some very prestigious households.” So sure are the myhome team that they will get it right that if they don’t, they will come back and do it again, for free. “Our customers have very high expectations and we have to match these expectations, every time we visit.” Explains Gurmukh. “Our service is tailored to the customer’s requirements and our pre-quote assessment will take any special requests into consideration so that if you do engage us, we do exactly what you have asked us to do in the assessment.” myhome use their own equipment and supplies of the latest tried and tested cleaning products to ensure sparkling results. As a result wear & tear

on your own equipment is eliminated and savings can be made against household cleaning products. Gurmukh adds, “We know there are a lot of busy people out there and we know that we are making a huge difference to our customers’ lives. The last thing you want to do when you get home is get the vacuum cleaner out or spray and polish the house. That’s where we come in, even if it’s just for a one off to impress guests coming to a dinner party or just to get the house totally spring-cleaned once a year.” Just a quick once over in your own house will show the amount of dust and dirt which accumulates in such a short period of time and the knock-on effects not only of dust and dirt but an untidy and unclean living environment can contribute to stress and illness. We have all experienced the worry of allowing someone we don’t know into our house and many of us will have paid for more than just the cleaning. myhome take the stress out of opening your door to a stranger by providing staff that you can trust and by providing a service which will take the stress out of living. “Give us a try” asks Gurmukh, “you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.” FOR YOUR PERSONALISED QUOTE PLEASE CALL: 0845 6449047 Contact details on page 58



If you want to sample different cultures, then the Cowley Road is hard to beat. There’s Indian, Spanish and Jamaican fare aplenty. But it’s still hard to get a good stew with dumplings. That was Kenna Dacre’s excuse anyway. So we sent her to Prague.

CZECH IT OUT museums. The Torture Museum was totally different to anything you will find in Disney Paris and definitely worth avoiding if you’re a bloke bringing his wife away to sort out marital disharmony.

Have no fear; Prague is as diverse as any of its citybreak counterparts – but more fun and definitely a little less draining on the bank account. It is home to a multitude of architectural wonders and I found myself, more often than not, looking skywards. There aren’t enough hours in a weekend to sample all of the sights, sounds, galleries and

A plethora of guides, and guide books, are available to help you discover the hidden corners of the Czech capital but its charm has been endorsed by the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Rodin, the Pope and, God bless her, the Queen. In fact, according to my tourist leaflet, she ‘professed her beguilement by its attractiveness and architectonic styles’. But I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. But, glass ornaments aside, Prague offers a more contemporary buzz than many other European cities. There’s a cornucopia of chic bars and restaurants to choose from where you can drink

cocktails at a fraction of the price of any WAG-filled London haunt. Joe’s Bar is worth finding, as is Opidum. The food and drink is warming and rich. The ghoulash and dumplings are to die for, but make a point of finding the small, family filled bars to eat at. Likewise, a small cheap hotel in the middle of the old part of town is far preferable to the newer hotels that sit a few blocks away. With winter approaching, Prague is a perfect short break. Long coats, warm jumpers, hot stews and cheap wine. And if you do have an argument with your partner while you’re there, send him to the Torture Museum while you go and buy shoes. He’ll be fine when he comes back. Prague On LIne - Hotel Josef - Contact details on page 58


B4 MARKETING Formula 1 may well be the ultimate marketing showcase, even if the billboards are screaming past the punters at 220 mph on a slow corner. With Jenson Button about to come into his own and Michael Schumacher looking longingly at pipes, slippers and cardigans, the F1 game is about to get rather interesting. STL Communications has worked with most of the UK based F1 motor sport teams over the years so we caught up with Managing Director, Brendon Cross. Simon Sayce: Does F1 involvement help the company with marketing or is it just a scam for free tickets?

FORMULA MARKETING In the world of sponsorship and marketing there is one Holy Grail – Formula 1. With Schumacher about to say farewell and Britain’s favourite driver on the ascendancy, to be associated with the richest sport in the world brings its own rewards and challenges. Simon Sayce asked Brendon Cross, STL’s Managing Director, whether it hits the right Button.

Brendon Cross: We have recently formalised our relations with Honda F1 Racing and Spyker MF1 in that we are now an Official Supplier to both of these teams. With Honda F1 Racing we use Avaya as the technical partner and with Spyker MF1 we use Samsung. Brackley based Honda F1 Racing and Silverstone based Spyker MF1 are the ultimate showcase for the technology we supply and each team boasts the very latest hardware and applications from Avaya and Samsung respectively. SS: Do you leverage Official Supplier status with each of the teams to increase business and get free tickets? BC: We enjoy a number of marketing benefits from the teams including case studies, endorsement, factory tours and reference visits but perhaps of most benefit is when we take our prospective customers testing with the teams. For example at the last Honda F1 Racing test we took twenty guests on a chartered flight from Coventry to Barcelona, which was fantastic. We arrived at the Catalunya circuit in time to meet the drivers over lunch and spent the afternoon watching Jenson Button competing with Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. There was also an opportunity for our prospects to see how Honda F1 Racing use Avaya IP telephony at the trackside to increase efficiency and reduce costs and everyone was home in time for supper! SS: About the tick…? BC: Another key business development area for STL are the seminars that we run at Honda F1 Racing and Spyker MF1, the team Head of IT will generally give a presentation outlining the benefits and savings of the technology to the team and this will be followed by further presentations, workshops and a product fayre. There is usually an opportunity to visit the communications room where our equipment is located and there is often a chance to be photographed with the latest car or trophy. SS: What sort of return do STL enjoy from the seminars? Tickets? BC: We get the facility as part of our supplier agreement so the event cost is relatively small and

printing invites, postage and catering usually costs about £2,500. We expect between seventy-five and one hundred attendees and we are disappointed if we do not make sales of £100,000 as a direct result of the seminar. SS: Whatever. Look, seriously now, about those tickets? BC: As an Official Supplier we receive concessionary prices for all F1 races but to be honest the testing is much better because you’re included as part of the team and you get to meet everyone and see behind the scenes. There’s something quite unique about this close-up involvement and eating with the team and drivers. SS: I knew that. Will you be renewing your supplier agreements with Honda F1 Racing and Spyker MF1? BC: We agreed medium term deals with both teams so this is not something we have to think about in the short term, but when the time comes I’m sure we’ll renew – just so long as we are still performing as far as Honda F1 Racing and Spyker MF1are concerned!

and resolve issues quickly. The key thing is communication and keeping the team informed as to your progress regardless of where they are operating in the world. It’s also important to keep them abreast of the product roadmap so they can plan communications strategy moving forward. SS: So your association with Honda F1 Racing and Spyker MF1 really is at the core of your marketing strategy then? BC: Absolutely. We have managed to create a showcase of the latest Avaya and Samsung technology within a technology sport and it’s really paying dividends. The marketing strategy is to attract as many prospective IP telephony customers as possible to our seminars and factory tours through innovative marketing – creating desire if you like. One of the bonuses of dealing with F1 teams is that very few delegates forget to turn up which helps with the logistics! SS: What’s Jenson Button like? BC: He’s a fantastic ambassador for Honda F1 Racing and he’s always taken time to talk to our guests and sign caps when he’s around.

SS: Are the F1 teams demanding customers?

SS: Thanks. Can I have a cap signed by Jensen?

BC: Not really, just so long as you deliver on time

BC: No. Go away. Contact details on page 58



THE LODGE Business lunch or Romantic Dinner, small reception or large gathering, our elegantly designed Restaurant & Bar offers a wonderful dining experience. Relaxed atmosphere serving high quality Modern European & Classical English menu with a wide variety of choice, fast & first-class service to respect the diner’s privacy. For those looking to extend the evening to a night away from home, the hotel boasts 15 attractively furnished & comprehensively equipped rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Our contemporary, airy Private Room is equipped with a Smart wall, which enables large screen presentations from laptops, DVD, CD and TV. The facilities include full air conditioning controllable lighting & electric curtains. There is also an adjacent breakout room which can seat up to 12 guests. This room is suitable not only for meetings, but private events, dinners, weddings & is also licensed for civil wedding ceremonies.


We can cater for parties up to 60 in number in this room.

Please contact us for further information, quotations or bookings. The Lodge Horton Hill, Horton Cum Studley, Oxford, OX33 1AY Tel: 01865 351235 Fax: 01865 351721

The Tally Ho is the perfect setting for a private function, be it a meeting, private event or romantic wedding reception. We can cater for parties up to 100 guests in the Rafters room. The Restaurant, the Fish Bone has a relaxed atmosphere serving high quality Modern European & Classical English cuisine with a wide variety of choice, fast & first-class service to respect the diner’s privacy. For those looking to extend the evening to a night away from home, The Tally Ho boasts twenty-six attractively furnished and comprehensively equipped rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

The Tally Ho Hotel, Ploughley Road, Arncott, Bicester, Oxon, OX26 1NY Tel: 01869 247170 Fax: 01869 247123 Email: Web:


An Evening with Ron and Jim Ron Atkinson & Oxford United Manager Jim Smith team up to answer your questions over a three course dinner, followed by a top class comedian.

Thursday 19th October 2006 Oxford United FC, Grenoble Road, Oxford Tickets are priced at ÂŁ40 per person. Tables are available in groups of five and ten. For Ticket Sales & Information Call Peter Corbett on 01865 337517 or email Peter on

Official partner of Oxford United Football Club


NOT THE SAME OLD STORY. David Parry’s feature on the new age-discrimination law is more than interesting reading, it is essential information. The reforms amount to the biggest change in employment practice most of us have ever had to deal with. Many companies, especially the smaller ones, are woefully ill prepared. While we can all applaud the aims of this new law, it is all too apparent that, as always, the Devil is in the detail. The ramifications for business will only be apparent after a couple of years but critics and legal experts see real problems ahead. For instance, when a stale, old, miserable Chief Executive is given the Heave-Ho at present, he may grumble and wave his walking stick in the air as he walks to his chauffeur-driven Jag for the last time, but compensation for unfair dismissal is capped at £56,800 so a claim is probably irrelevant. But now, if his successor is ten years younger and prefers Armani to Dunn’s, there could be the basis of an age discrimination claim with no upper limit to compensation pay-outs. A lawyer friend, who wants to remain anonymous for fear of being zimmer-framed to death or receiving colostomy bags in the post, has even suggested that older unemployed people may make applications for jobs with the intention of taking legal action after they don’t get the job. Court cases went up by 40% in America when similar laws were brought in and by 19% in Ireland. This law requires a profound rethink by companies from the ground up. It affects hiring, firing and rewards. This law is not about ‘old’, it’s about age. Burnt out city brokers may get moved ‘laterally’ within the organisation at 35 whether they like it or not – not any more.

B4 Comment

And what about the waitresses in Browns? Scary.

Have Your Say. Over the coming months B4 is going to continue to evolve as we receive more input from the business community and those affected by it. We will have special features on women in business, a feature on conference and events and much more. Call us to see what we’ve got planned. However, give us your own ideas, comments and input for our letters page and have your own say. You can even criticise! Simon Sayce Email:




Brothers Ali Azam and Ali Hydar have made Saffron in North Oxford a success- they don’t deny it and they are rightly proud of it. But the message which comes out loud and clear, as the restaurant staff busily prepare for 120 guests from The Royal Bank of Scotland, is that they want to make sure that their customers are treated well and continue to enjoy the Saffron experience. This is one restaurant where the customer is king and always will be. look. We haven’t increased the number of covers so this is a genuine attempt to “freshen” up the restaurant for our existing customers.”

Everyone from the two bothers to the waiters are keen to make sure you are looked after at Saffron. Its not forced, its natural and everyone has a smile on their face. There is a feel good factor about the place anyway. Following an extensive and daresay expensive refurbishment and the owners, Ali Azam and Ali Hydar, are bursting with pride at the new look. Ali Hydar explains, “we wanted to make sure we didn’t change things too drastically and that we didn’t frighten off our loyal customers with a brand new look, but at the same time we wanted to make sure they knew we had made an effort. This is for them as much as it is for us. Our customers are very loyal and they deserve to be treated well –we wanted to reinvest in the restaurant to give them somewhere “new” to come to.” Ali Azam interjects, “We have taken the restaurant to the next level. We have refurbished from top to bottom, literally. We didn’t have to do anything – the place wasn’t tired and we could probably have continued for another 4 or 5 years with the old

The brothers take notice what their customers want. Next to me on the floor is a new plasma TV. “A customer came in this morning and suggested that we use our private room as a sort of “Men’s Room” for live sport. So we have bought the TV but will also hire out the room to businesses so they can use the TV for laptop presentations.” On the subject of sport, Saffron have also been the proud sponsors of local boys team, Cutteslowe FC, for the past three years. And the business world are big supporters. Chancellors Estate Agents, Isis Business Innovation Centre, Blackwells Publishing and numerous departments from The John Radlciffe are regular visitors to Saffron. But the success story isn’t restricted to the restaurant. The brothers boast a thriving catering business – they have 250 to cater for at a Christening and have already covered a number of weddings, birthdays and private parties. “We had one wedding for 500 last year which was quite a challenge, but we did a great job.” Ali Azam tells me. But why do people keep coming back to Saffron? Ali Azam tells me, “We have some favourites on the menu but we have tried to be a bit more adventurous in our choice of ingredients. We now use mussels (cooked in garlic and garum massala creamy sauce), duck (Duck Jaisha) and a number of other “infrequently” used ingredients.”

Ali Azam is also at pains to stress that the suppliers are Oxford based too, “We use New Wave for our fish, Stewart Butchers of Oxford for the meat and Peter Durham for the vegetables and fruit. We see no reason to use non Oxford suppliers as they have been a key ingredient to our continued success.” Another key ingredient is the staff. The Executive Chef, Junab Ali, has been with Saffron for 8 years and a number have been with the brothers in excess of 6 years. The new bar area is also open just for drinks and there are not many Indian restaurants that offer Pouilly Fuisse and Chateauneuf du Pape on the wine list and fantastic cocktails such as the “Madras” (vodka, cranberry juice and freshly squeezed orange juice) and “Sweet Tart”. So what’s next for the brothers ? “We just want to build on the foundations we have laid over the past nine years and continue to serve our customers in the manner to which they have become accustomed. If anything we can improve on our lunchtime trade and we have launched our Lunch Club which offers a 5th meal for free if you have 4 lunches with us. We are also looking to expand the catering side of the business – we can cater for up to 1,000 people if you have an event in mind coming up.” All that remains is for me to reproduce the quote from the front of the menu. It says all you need to know, “We never forget that without Saffron’s loyal clients, many of whom have become friends, none of this success would be possible. So relax & enjoy at Safrron, whatever the occasion. Enjoy your meal & have a memorable dining experience.” Contact details on page 58


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OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE JEREMY MOGFORD TELLS B4 WHY OXFORD’S MOST FAMOUS STREET IS SLOWLY DYING, HOW OUR HISTORIC ‘HIGH’ IS BEING SUFFOCATED AND WHY NO ONE APPEARS TO NOTICE OR CARE We all know that before 1999, Oxford had a serious problem with traffic congestion. After 1999, the Oxford Transport Policy was introduced. It is accepted that the intention of the scheme was to reduce traffic in the centre. Although, at the time of the enquiry, the county’s Chief Transport Planner also described the intention of the measures were to make the City’s shopping streets more attractive.


Now in 2006 an unpredictable consequence has occurred. The historic and world famous High is now much worse off than before 1999 when the street was heavily congested with general traffic. It is ironical that the one street that triggered OTS has become its ultimate casualty and is no longer an attractive place to walk and shop.

B4 INTERVIEW of danger for pedestrians as some of these buses exceed the 20mph restriction driving in an aggressive, bullying manner. The High has become the main city conduit for buses and is suffering badly. I declare a special interest in this situation as the proprietor of the Old Bank Hotel which occupies a prominent position in the centre of the High. We have many visitors from abroad and the UK who express complete dismay that the authorities have allowed such a beautiful street to become what is essentially a giant bus park. It is difficult for a visitor to appreciate the architecture and ambience of this beautiful street if multi-coloured buses, single and double deck, obscure the view and pollute the air. Such is the problem for us that many guests ask to be moved from the bedrooms of the Old Bank or tables at Quod Brasserie fronting the High because of pollution and traffic noise day and night. Over four years ago I contributed a chapter titled ‘Restoring Oxford’s Image’ which was published in the very commendable ‘Visions for Oxford in the 21st Century’ commissioned by the Oxford Civic Society. Nearly five years later, I have become seriously down hearted and disillusioned at the deteriorating fate of the historic side of Oxford. There are exciting proposals in the air for improvements to Broad Street and the West End

What has happened? If you ‘walk the High’, you will immediately understand that the Street has become completely overwhelmed by buses. All shapes, sizes and colours. The very solution which was supposed to alleviate the problem has now become a monster which is ruining the very historic heart of our city. An up to date comparison might be to try and imagine over two thousand five hundred buses a day driving though the middle of the new Castle development! How acceptable would that situation be to the general public, The City and County Councils, the developers and the new occupiers of that excellent development! You will observe that, at frequent times, the High has virtually nose to tail buses, many of which are either empty or a quarter full making their way in and out of the centre of the City and the bus station in George Street. Compounding the effect of the sheer volume of buses, there is an element

is being regenerated. The County Council Highways are to be applauded for beginning to tackle the appearance of the High by improving pavements and removing excessive street furniture. This long overdue cosmetic exercise does not address the much more serious problem of over-congestion by buses of some of our historic streets, especially the High Street and Magdelen Street East. The County Council and City Councils need to face up to the fundamental problem of how the public transport element of travel in the city should be permanently solved for the good of both the oldest part of the City and the newer Westgate and West End developments. Whilst multimillion pound shopping developments are definitely good for Oxford’s future, they should not be encouraged whilst leaving the most important historic areas, which make our city what it is in the eyes of the world, to its fate of being swamped with buses and thus being ruined and diminished.

The solution must lie in creating bus hubs just outside the immediate city centre serving the north/south/west and importantly for the High, the eastern side of the city centre. My original Civic Society suggestion was to develop the park and ride locations where all out of city buses would terminate ( For example, no London bound buses would be allowed in the centre of Oxford) then there would be a very frequent service, possibly free, using long single-deck electrically powered buses painted in the same colour, sympathetic to our city, delivering passengers between the city centre and the hubs wherever they may be. On reflection, a refinement may be to find four smaller hubs nearer to the city centre where passengers would disembark and get on the same eco-friendly low, painted buses to actually reach the shops and historic Oxford. Where could they be located? That is the question the Councils must face up to. There has to be a solution, there is always a solution if those with the responsibility are willing to find it. Here are some nearer ‘hub suggestions if Park and Ride development is not a practical option. West side. The existing station in George Street but only accessed from the south side (there would be no need for ‘feeder buses’ from this

existing location) or perhaps the Railway Station as an alternative. South side. Oxpens or another alternative. North side. Perhaps there is a site near the bypass? Pear Tree is not too far out. East side. There have been missed opportunities here. The Milham Ford School area was a possibility. Otherwise a radical proposal could be to use the lower end of South Parks. If this proved controversial then this could be placed underground. Other European cities have successfully dealt with these fundamental transport issues now it is time for Oxford Councils to face, address and solve the current crisis before it is too late and the image of historical Oxford has been damaged for ever.

Contact details on page 58



In the world of advertising and marketing there is no such thing as ‘reality’, there is only ‘perceived reality’. And your customer’s first impressions of you and your business is linked to one key element – the Brand. John Kennedy looks at the importance of your Brand.

The 10 Golden Rules of the Brand


B4 asked Jayne Woodley, Barclays Brand Manager, to give us the 10 Golden Rules.

At the basic level, a brand is a corporate identity - a design, logo or name. However a brand represents far more than an image – it should also represent the way an organisation carries out its business and the way an organisation treats its customers, suppliers and employees. As such, developing a strong brand is the objective of many organisations and it should be the aim of all companies whether large or small. The benefits of brands: The true value of a brand is the understanding of its customers and the trust those customers have in the brand. This leads to the most obvious advantage of a brand – being able to charge higher prices than competitor products or services. The influence of a brand over the course of our lifetimes can reinforce our desire to have the “traditional” brand over similar products which, despite being cheaper, are not packaged in the way we recognize and prefer. A logistical advantage of a brand is that distributors are more likely to trust a new or different product from an established brand name rather than from a new producer. Trust and reliability may remain “untested” in a new company for some time and a distributor will feel they have managed their exposure to risk more carefully by using a “brand name” product. Building brands: Every organisation needs to consider how to develop itself as a brand. Few companies have the freedom to operate in a market where they have no competitors, therefore differentiating themselves from other companies that offer similar services or products will be crucial to their success. In the professional services world, for example, where the service needs to be “experienced” before a client can evaluate it, the major


issue is separating one service from another by communicating other, more tangible, benefits. All companies need to understand that branding is central to any organisation External perception: Are the values of the brand consistent with the people delivering the service? If your objective is excellent client service, is this being delivered by all your staff? Are you asking your customers on a regular basis whether they are delighted by the service, not just satisfied. A brand must attract customers by using a strong corporate identity but then retain customers through good service. Internal perceptions: A strong brand can enable companies to attract more recruits and then select the best of those. Employees who enjoy working in a supportive environment, where there is continuity between the “external” messages targeted to customers and the way in which the employees are treated internally, will deliver greater rewards than having a definite inconsistency between what the brand represents in the market place and what it is actually like to work at that organisation Personal perceptions: In smaller companies where one MD has built successfully on his personal expertise coupled with charisma and hard work we can see how important a “one man brand” can become – they are also a very difficult act to follow as their personality may be the brand that customers perceive and want to do business with. Building a brand can therefore be a precarious journey during which inconsistent values can lead to the undermining of credibility. Managing a brand is a true organisational challenge But the advantages of a strong brand, once established, make that journey worthwhile.

1. Know your market and competitors 2. Have a robust marketing plan and direction – know your audience and know what you want your company/ brand to stand for. 3. Research your target market. This will help you to understand more about how your customers make their purchase decisions, which elements of your offering they really value and what values your brand should stand for. 4. Match your marketing and media to your target customers and dare to be different. 5. Minimise wastage on all marketing expenditure. 6. Understand how much value can be driven from your existing customers versus the value you can drive from attracting new customers. Match this balance in your marketing budget and activity. 7. Invest in data to evaluate everything you do and incorporate the learnings into your future activity. 8. Develop your internal business culture in line with your external marketing messages. Engage with your people. 9. Beware the marketing agency. Ensure you set expectations of spend and how you will measure their success. 10. Protect your brand and reputation. Understand its power in attracting customers.

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It’s a big night for Martin Hird, Sales & Marketing Manager at The Holiday Inn Oxford, Pear Tree Interchange. He is showing his loyal customers what he can offer for their company Christmas Party and has decided on a Casino night.

Sam Stange is not your average magician. At 21 you’d be forgiven for thinking, if you weren’t “face to face” with Sam, that he’d been around for a while. He’s the only 21 year old I’ve met that has got anecdotes. He’s got definite star quality, the sort of performer who leaves you with the feeling that you have been privileged to see raw talent.

Knowing he has “lost” the room, Martin introduces the fresh-faced, cheeky-grinned entertainer, the only person standing in the room and the one getting the REACTION …….. “Sam Strange everybody.” I spoke to Sam shortly before the guests started to arrive for the Casino night and it became clear that “REACTIONS” are a key part of Sam’s performance. He likes to get a reaction, he also likes to study onlookers’ reactions. Reactions dictate the style of his approach and the content of his act.

The mix of huge Las Vegas cityscape posters, roulette wheels and large cut out dice provide an appropriately “glitzy” backdrop for the evening’s entertainer, Martin’s first choice having seen him perform at the B4 launch at Oxford Castle in June. As Martin addresses the 120 seated guests, another round of applause and shocked squeals of amazement punctuate Martin’s attempts to crack a joke, confirming to Martin that he should stick to the day job. The majority of the room’s attention is focussed on a young, but very experienced, up and coming magician who you just know is destined for a big future.

Sam knows he has the ability to impress and he knows where he is going “corporate entertainment has become more and more fashionable and magic has changed to align itself more with the corporate world’s requirements. My trick repertoire has had to become a lot more punchy and bite-size, clean and business-like. I can’t have a “messy” act which loses people’s attention. I have to be good, every time.”

Interview by Richard Rosser

Up to sixty people can “observe” Sam’s magic at one time, even though he bills himself as “close-up”. The front line of guests with whom Sam interacts during his act are watched by the outer ring of guests, much like we watch Poker players around a croupier. And that’s where it started for Sam. “At school I used to play poker and got “very good” at it.” “My card skills improved and as I had no career path, I thought about a career as a magician. It was a hobby to start with but I would practice 7 or 8 hours a day.” Sam agrees that it was a form of addiction, and instead of burying his head in Playstation, he would refine his act. “I was very nervous to start with, but as long as you accept you will make mistakes then you just move on. On the whole I am well received – you have the odd person who just doesn’t want to know!” The corporate world at large beckons for this amazing talent, but what does the short term future hold for Sam ? “Harper Collins have just booked me to perform at a series of book launch parties for a new book they are hoping will be as big as Harry Potter, entitled Skulduggery Pleasant. I have to theme my tricks in line with the book so there will be lots of fire in the act”. Sam has already performed in front of some high profile customers (The Porsche Club of Great Britain, University of Oxford, Barclays Bank, The Chox Black and White Ball (which was organised by STL) to name but a few) and received high praise to boot. Sam fits in to the corporate world. He is well-turned out, a face full of life and has an immediate rapport with anyone he is introduced to or has to perform to. His style is very personal and he endeavours to involve his immediate audience and makes everyone feel a part of the act. For a 21 year old, his style and professionalism tell anyone that has witnessed Sam Strange’s act that he has a huge future. He is also the winner of the Thames Valley Magicians Guild competition where he beat a working professional of 15 years.

Contact details on page 58


I’ll leave Martin at The Holiday Inn to have the last word. Having introduced Sam, Martin joked “……..that’s the worry about tonight, you will all forget what we have to offer for Christmas and your main concern will be booking Sam for your Christmas Party before he gets booked up – DON’T FORGET TO BOOK YOUR PARTY HERE”.






B4 is about Building Bridges Between Business and we highlight two great examples of this in recent months on this page with The Black and White Ball, in aid of Chox, at Blenheim Palace and the B4 Launch at Malmaison Hotel

CHOX AWAY THE BLACK AND WHITE BALL in aid of the new Oxford Children's Hospital was held at Blenheim Palace earlier this year. The event was a great success and raised £17,669.19 for the appeal. The evening began with the talented Zoe Mace singing a number of songs for the 150 guests as they arrived and enjoyed drinks and canapés in the Orangery and Italian Garden. Several guests had taken advantage of the luxury car service kindly donated by VW (UK) Ltd to get them to and from Blenheim. Sponsors of the event included Grant Thornton, BSDR Solicitors, Thomas Merrifield, Darbys Solicitors, Abbey Press, Amber Wealth Creation, B-Line, Winmac UK, DCG Datapoint, B4 and STL

Communications. A number of local business people and personalities such as Brendon Cross and Martin Keown also hosted tables. The event was also attended by a number of fundraisers from CHOX and grace was said by Jay Jayamohan who is a Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary. Over dinner guests enjoyed the close up 'table magic' of local magician Sam Strange followed by an auction which raised over £7,000. The auction included a signed England cricket bat which raised £2,000 and a signed Arsenal shirt which raised £1,800. A table raffle raised a further £3,000 for the appeal.

duration of their two 1 hour sets before carriages whisked people away at midnight. Event organiser Kay Cross said, ''We are delighted that the evening was a success and we would like to thank all of our sponsors and guests for their incredible generosity'', Kay went on to say, ''the new hospital is important to all of us and we are now only £3.75m short of the £15m target that will allow the hospital to open at the end of the year''.

Guests danced the night away to 'The Party Faithful' who filled the dance floor for the

B4 LAUNCH EVENT Mike Warren, General Manager of Malmaison Hotel Oxford, welcomed over 125 guests to the B4 Launch on 28th June. The event was blessed with warm sunshine on the terrace overlooking the wonderful new Castle Project. Trevor Osborne, developer of the Castle Project, gave a massive vote of confidence to B4 and warm wishes for a long and successful future. However, Trevor’s special mention was reserved for the handsome cover model on the launch issue, also a leading Castle Project developer !




David Quick, managing director of online insurance company explains why start-up businesses ignore employer’s liability insurance at their peril. Employer’s liability insurance is fast becoming a hot topic. From October 1, the National Health Service will be able to claw back the cost of treating workers injured or made ill through work from companies through their employer’s liability insurance. This follows on from a House of Lords ruling earlier this summer that companies can be liable for bullying and harassing acts by staff they employ. Employees who can prove they suffered ‘anxiety’ as a result of the harassment can claim damages even if the employer knew nothing about what was going on. These changes are just the latest in a long line that increase the pressure on company owners and directors to shoulder more responsibility for a wide range of actions by both senior management and their staff. There are also controversial proposals that employer’s liability insurance should also pick up the bill for workers who are the victims of crime while doing their jobs. Employer’s liability insurance can cover everything from minor cases such as a staff member injuring themselves by dropping a box on their foot to serious injury or death while using equipment or exercising their duties either in or out of the workplace. The good news for businesses is that buying employer’s liability insurance is easy through internet sites such as or brokers, and the cost is usually lower than you may think.

INSURE MY LIABILITY It covers employers who have to pay compensation to employees who are injured or made ill at work through the fault of the employer. It is a criminal offence not to have appropriate cover with a maximum fine of £2,500 a day.

It may also be mandatory where you employ temporary or voluntary staff or where you give work to other self-employed people. In the eyes of the law, self-employed contractors – especially where you are their only customer – can sometimes be viewed as your employees.

The rule forcing even one person businesses to hold cover was relaxed last year, relieving the burden on 300,000 sole traders in the UK. But that does mean employers must recognise when buying cover becomes necessary.

As with all insurance products, shop around to compare prices, levels of cover and standards of service. Specialist web sites such as are a good starting point, covering hundreds of different trades and professions. The site allows you to compare quotes from top insurers and buy online in one simple transaction, including an online discount. Phone users can access the same products on 0845 450 5360. The service is backed up by fully trained, highly experienced and friendly call centre staff and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

If a business is not a limited company, and you are the only employee or you only employ close family, cover is not compulsory. You are also exempt if the business is a limited company but you are the only employee and you own 50% or more of the issued share capital. But you do need employer’s liability in place in most other scenarios, such as you deduct national insurance and income tax from staff wages, or you control where and when staff work and how they do it or you supply most materials and equipment.

Employer’s liability cover must be for at least £5 million, but many bundled packages typically offer £10 million cover. Most policies will also pay out the cost incurred in defending disputes with employees or proceedings against them with legal cover usually limited to around £25,000. A bundled package may also include public liability insurance – covering claims from the public or customers for injury or damage to their property – and also insurance for office equipment and tools. Like all insurance, you need to give the insurer accurate information and ensure you are complying with all its requirements. The more you can minimise risks, perhaps through staff training and education, the lower the cost is likely to be. Buying insurance is rarely welcomed by any business – the cost impacts directly on the bottom line. But this is one time when buying adequate cover now can avoid a catastrophe later.

Seek out bundled packages that are targeted at your kind of business. This keeps costs down by avoiding duplication and stripping out irrelevant cover, for example, a food shop may need cover for refrigerated stock but hairdressers or builders will not. Contact details on page 58


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For more information Call 020 7689 7000

'Travel-to' destination for gourmets Christopher Gray, Oxford Times.

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Let’s do business... Platinum Sponsors Aziz Pandesia Contact: Aziz at T: 01865 247775 E: W: Barclays Business Banking Contact: Jayne Woodley M: 07775 555481 F: 01865 442570 E: W: B-Line Contact: David Beesley T: 08701 633340 E: W: Darbys Solicitors Contact: David Parry or Paul Lowe T: 01865 811706 E: W:

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EXQUISITE CUISINE BY THE RIVER Fusion food has been given a refreshing new meaning at the Aziz Pandesia Restaurant. The new, cooking concept – created by Oxford’s most successful, award winning Indian Restauranteur - is simple but inspired offering finest Indian- Bangladeshi and Thai dishes. Classic Asian cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. Aziz Pandesia offers an all day / every day superb International Buffet and exclusive dinning menu. In a perfect location with wonderfully relaxing riverside views, just five minutes walk from the city centre or even less from the Westgate car park. Open 7 days a week including holidays. Opening Hours: 12noon till 11pm 1 Folly Bridge, Oxford, OX1 4LB. Tel: 01865 247775 Web: Email:

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B4 Magzine Issue 2  

B4 Magazine is the business magazine for Oxfordshire businesses. B4 is about Building Bridges Between Businesses, with features on Advice, C...