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The Main Event Why you should choose Oxford to host your next business event
Financial Health An introduction to Barclays Business Banking’s healthcare drive
Technological Strides Insight into technological innovation and application in Oxfordshire
B U I L D I N G
B R I D G E S
B E T W E E N
B U S I N E S S
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8 Is your Net Working?
Don’t neglect your IT Network!
Welcome to Issue 3 of B4 In this issue we find out how technological advances over the decades have had a huge impact on the way we live our lives. We take a look at a wide range of local businesses with this in mind, with particular reference to telecommunications, computer games, IT support, e-commerce and the use of customer data. We also profile some of Oxfordshire’s conference and event venues and come across some unfamiliar names. Other articles include an interview with Oxford United’s boss, Jim Smith, who answers questions put to him by B4 readers; Greg Barnes talks about the growing property market in Oxford’s west end; Walter Fallon introduces us to the refurbished 66a restaurant at Cotswold Lodge Hotel; Mark Reynolds finds out how Inspires Art Gallery is appealing to investors and we take a look at the recently-opened Oxford Children’s Hospital. If that’s not enough, we look behind the scenes at studio8, the company responsible for much of B4’s excellent photography; Raine Hilson throws the spotlight on Banbury; Buildbase introduce us to building our own home and, finally, we indulge ourselves with a look at Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados. Hopefully that is sufficient to ensure that you have a good read and make contact with the businesses featured. The diverse nature of articles in B4 has certainly helped B4 to make its mark in Oxfordshire, and this is underlined by our association with the MGroup, having launched the B4 and MGroup Golf Cup. The MGroup saw us as an excellent partner to help promote the Cup, and we are delighted to be associated with the MGroup. B4’s profile will grow through such initiatives and, more importantly, continue to get results for our featured businesses. If you would like to be a part of the next issue of B4 in April, please call me. Enjoy reading this issue. Richard Rosser
A Passion for Rebellion
Turning a Page in E-publications
From Bricks to Broadband
What on earth is “Globalisation”
36 Living the Dream
Commercial Mortgage Considerations
Conference & Events Feature
Board & Lodging
Kevin Handy Kevin is Sales Development Manager at Buildbase, Oxford. In this issue, Kevin helps to launch our Build Your Dream Home series of articles. (page 36)
Caring for Young and Old
The Chief Executive of Rebellion Games explains how his company has “grown up” in Oxford. (page 20)
Nick Walker Our very own Clarkson wannabe looks at the new Grand Cherokee Overland and gets very dirty, in a suit! (page 26)
Children’s Hospital Opens
STL Formula One testing trip to Jerez Local business STL Communications demonstrated the real business benefits of IP telephony during a trip to a Formula One testing session in Jerez, southern Spain with a group of customers and prospects. STL sales and pre-sales staff hosted the group on a two day trip to Jerez, home of one of the main Formula One testing circuits. The trip was made possible thanks to STL’s relationship with Honda Racing F1 and Spyker F1, who were formerly
Jordan F1. STL, who are a Samsung Platinum reseller, have been working with the company for some years and Spyker now have a Samsung IP telephony systems at their Silverstone head office and at their wind tunnel in Brackley – see article page 18. STL also supplied Honda F1 with the latest Avaya IP telephony solution.
to see IP telephony working trackside, in what has to be one of the harshest situations possible. This allowed them to understand exactly how F1 teams use IP telephony to save costs and make life easier when travelling abroad for testing and races - and in turn enabled potential clients to see how IP telephony could be used in their own business environments.
As well as chatting to drivers, such as Jenson Button of Honda and Felipe Massa of Ferrari, the group were able
Hapihike Keen walkers ,Maureen Langston and Julia Sargent have both suffered the agonies of sore feet .To solve the problem, they have developed a simple, ingenious and completely natural solution! 'hapihike' is a natural sheep's wool product infused with peppermint oil which, when wrapped around the toes or heels and under the feet, will help stop the effect of rubbing boots or shoes.
ideal for tucking in the rucksack. 'hapihike has been trialed and tested over many miles, by both novice and experienced walkers ,and their comments have been taken into account when developing the product. Find out more from www.hapihike.co.uk. Please call Julia or Maureen on 01865 407922.
The wool compacts to form a natural protective cushion around the foot, while the oil has antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties. It is light to carry, easy to use and
Paul Nelson joins B-Line as Director of Business Development. From a marketing background, combined with five years at Spicers and a further 5 years with one of Spicer’s fastest growing dealers, Paul has further plans to develop B-Line’s marketing and customer promotions whilst at the same time targeting ‘national’ business. E-commerce also has an important part to play in Paul’s overall objectives by improving the overall business efficiencies of
Contacts If you want to contact B4 Magazine T: 01865 742211 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher B4 Magazine is published by Designs On Ltd, The Firs, Headington Hill, Oxford, OX3 0BT Chairman Colin Rosser E: email@example.com
both the customer and B-Line through better use of systems, known in the stationery industry as ‘process costs’. “B-Line has magnificent potential and there already exists a great platform from which to build on, including the fantastic, knowledgeable and passionate staff”.
Art Editor Keith Simpson E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Administration Sue Edwardson E: email@example.com
Editorial Richard Rosser John Kennedy Adam Mackrell Gemma Tomkys Mark Reynolds E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Photographer Matthew Freer E: email@example.com
Advertising Sales Manager Adam Mackrell E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography Studio 8 T: 01865 842525 E: email@example.com
Proof-Reader Nikki Ochtman T: 01628 824034
B-Line are currently recruiting for a pro-active telesales executive, so if you would like to work for a forward-thinking and customer-focused company, call Paul on 08701 633340. Why not visit www.b-line.co.uk to find out more about their products and services.
B4 Partners Aziz Barclays Bank B-Line Buildbase Darbys The Focus Group Intellion Malmaison Oxford Shortlets Oxford United FC STL Wenn Townsend
Subscriptions T: 01865 742211 E: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Perfect Pitch –Idea Idol competition hopes to reveal successful entrepreneurs of the future Eight Oxford University students will hope they’re in fine voice on 8th February when they will have just two minutes to impress a panel of judges, including Theo Paphitis from BBC’s Dragon’s Den, with their new business idea in the final of Idea Idol, an Oxford Entrepreneurs event held
at Saïd Business School.
The three winners of the competition will go head to head with three budding entrepreneurs from Cambridge in the varsity final at Saïd on 19th February and stand to win prize money up to £10K to launch
Last year’s winner, Jennifer Segal (pictured right) is now launching her own designer cast and slings company.
In Oxford Group Distribution Former Oxford United duo Jamie Brooks and Kelvin McIntosh have recently been appointed to head up In Oxford Group’s new distribution division. Sue Edwardson of the In Oxford Group commented: “Setting up our own distribution was a big step for us, but we know that it is in safe hands with Jamie and Kelvin. It is vital for us to get feedback from the outlets we distribute our publications to and having our own personnel interacting with the outlets is already reaping rewards. Our publications are
becoming increasingly sought after, so it is imperative that we make sure the right outlets are receiving the right number of publications to avoid wastage.” For more details about In Oxford Group’s Distribution, please call Sue Edwardson on 01865 742211.
STL and Barclays working together: Business is about partnership and STL are delighted to be working with John Thorne and Jayne Woodley of Barclays Business Banking in Oxford at their forthcoming Healthcare seminar on the 28th February. STL deploy and support communication solutions for the health sector, many of which
are based on technology developed for F1 teams.. We look forward to seeing you there! For further details about the seminar, contact John Thorne on 07775 548770 and see the article on page 54.
B4 & MGroup Golf Cup B4 have teamed up with the MGroup to launch a new golf competition – see further details on page 58. "We are very excited about the inaugural 2007 Golf Cup which will bring together so many local businesses from all sectors in Oxfordshire. The positive response has been overwhelming as businesses realise this is a truly unique opportunity. We still have places available but fully expect to reach our maximum of twenty-four teams before long." Gary McHale - The MGroup
Rebellion Games Competition Rebellion Games, as featured on page 20, have kindly donated a copy of their game, Free Running. To win a copy, answer the following question: Which animal was the star of the 1980’s Donkey Kong video game? E-mail your answers to email@example.com
R E S T A U R A N T
B A R
EXQUISITE CUISINE BY THE RIVER Fusion food has been given a refreshing new meaning at the Aziz Pandesia Restaurant Perfect location with wonderfully relaxing riverside views, just five minutes walk from the city centre 1 Folly Bridge, Oxford OX1 4LB Tel: 01865 247775 Web: www.aziz.uk.com
Bookings now being taken for Valentines Day, Wednesday 14th February
CLASSIC BANGLADESHI / INDIAN CUISINE Experience the treasures of the passionate Bengal gastronomy. Finest fish and meat prepared for your desires. At the awarding winning Aziz Restaurant. Superb buffet (inc deserts) Sunday all day £9.50 per head (Children £4.75)
228-230 COWLEY RD, OXFORD OX4 1UH Tel: 01865 794945 Fax: 01865 794956
81 HIGH STREET, BURFORD, OXON OX18 4QA Tel: 01993 823340
79 HIGH STREET, WITNEY, OXFORDSHIRE OX28 6JA Tel: 01993 774100
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.aziz.uk.com
Success Guaranteed at Blenheim Palace Blenheim Palace has launched a new conferences product - Success Guaranteed. Based on research, it promises to deliver the highest service and quality standards to every conference event at its venue. This programme of training and best practice directly responds to its customer’s needs and acts as a quality ‘charter mark’ on customer service, operating standards and food quality.
Helen Muller, Catering Services Director, Blenheim Hospitality says: “The results from this survey, combined with feedback from local businesses, has been invaluable to our planning. At Blenheim Palace, we are committed to delivering the highest service and quality standards to every conference event, whether you are looking for a business meeting for 50 in The Marlborough Room or a reception in The Palace for 500 people. Success Guaranteed promises to ‘Get it Right’ or ‘Put it Right’ every time.” Blenheim Hospitality, Woodstock, Oxon OX20 1PS. For bookings and enquiries contact Blenheim Palace on 01993 813874 or email email@example.com
Blink Design and Print win new Blenheim Print contract Blink Design and Print, the print division of In Oxford Group which also publishes B4 Magazine, were recently awarded the contract to print Blenheim Palace’s main promotional literature, a staggering total of 800,000 leaflets. We were delighted to be awarded the contract and this shows that we are
making great strides in the print and design business which started as a service to key advertisers. For further details about print and design, please contact Keith Simpson on 01865 742211.
The Oratory Sports Centre A Team The Sports Centre at The Oratory School has expanded to four specialist coaches. Sports Executive Jonathan Howell and Head Professional Mark Eadle are joined by Bryn Sayers (Assistant Professional) and Tom Huelin - pictured right. The team at The Oratory can offer
world class coaching in a range of sports (see the feature on the Sports Centre as a World Class venue on page 46) and can cater for all levels of expertise from the beginner to the elite athlete. The Sports Centre is also an excellent facility as a venue for corporate
hospitality and regularly entertains corporate clients and their staff or customers. For further information please contact Mark Eadle or Jonathan Howell at The Oratory on 01491 681303.
New Web Partnership In Oxford are pleased to announce they have signed an agreement to work with locally based company Customers Really Matter Ltd to offer Oxfordshire based companies web design, development and customer database services. The growing demand for local companies to enhance their on-line presence and interaction with customers prompted In Oxford to look for a strong development partner and after having been
impressed with the Customers Really Matters hosted CRM and communications platform, an agreement was reached between the two parties. The companies are now looking to promote their agreement to a range of businesses within the Thames Valley area. For further information, please call 01865 742211 or log on to www.customersreallymatter.co.uk
It’s Chile Outside! winter wine review Whether it’s to do with painful credit card bills, over-indulgence during December festivities or just January sale madness, this is the season for bargains. Yet just diving on the first sub-£5 bottle you see at the supermarket can be false economy – that light, gluggable Pinot Grigio which helped set the mood one summer evening in the garden, won’t satisfy you after your wet winter commute home. Despite common belief, there are plenty of winter wines around £5 that are worth trying, if you know where to look and what to go for. One prime candidate is Chilean reds which have become increasingly popular over the past five years. The industrial growth of India and China has been hugely relaint upon the supply of copper, of which 80% of the world’s resource comes from Chile. As owning a winery is such a desirable status symbol among Chilean industrialists, much of this new wealth has been spent upon new vineyards and state-of-the-art equipment, with the obvious climb in quality. Yet prices have stayed remarkably stable, due partly to currency exchange rates. That position won’t last forever, but while it does I’d suggest these wines from Chile’s increasingly fashionable Colchagua region, all available from Oddbins: Dona Dominga Old Vines Cabernet-Carmenere £4.99 for a bargain pairing with Sunday roast; Oveja Negra Cabernet-Syrah £5.49 for its winter-busting tannins; smooth, rich and warming Gamma Carmenere £5.69; and the white Dona Dominga Old Vines Chardonnay Semillion £4.99, with a further 20% off any mixed six bottles. Peter Hack – Manager of Oddbins, High Street Oxford.
COMPETITION: Win a £10 bottle of wine by answering the following question: Where is Claret made? Answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
IS YOUR NET WORKING? B4 have invited David Beesley, Chief Executive of B-Line Business Supplies, to head up our regular Networking feature. We want you to submit your queries, event dates, news and anything you think David might be interested in, to David at email@example.com. Over to David.
“Networking works. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a passion for networking, much as the boys at Rebellion Games (see page 20) have a passion for Computer Games. I know it works, but I also know that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Ironically, I am talking to Richard with a problem on my hands. I am due to go to a networking event tomorrow morning but cannot make it, something has come up. But can I get anyone to cover me !?”
4) Report on success stories where we can show that networking really works
“B4 have provided me with a platform to help Networking in Oxfordshire flourish and with the interaction of the Networking events and businesses in Oxfordshire, I am sure together we can make a difference.”
I am also pleased to announce the B4 Club to
As we are talking, David receives an e-mail, which David reads aloud, “I will be pleased to cover you tomorrow David, please confirm times.” David reclines with a smile “perhaps they heard us talking!”
“But that is the nature of the beast. Ask anyone and I will challenge them to tell me they have never got any benefit from attending networking events. You may not get an immediate result and you may have to think hard about a benefit you have enjoyed and trace it back to an event, but I guarantee, you will have won business because you attended a networking event. Some people I know rely on networking events – it is their bread and butter. “That said, it really is “horses for courses”. Not everyone can get up at 6am for a 7am start. Networking is for grafters. Some might say those of us who attend regular networking events, especially early morning events, have some sort of death wish. Not so in my opinion. These people enjoy networking and it is obviously working for them. “Taking all of this into consideration, some people either refuse to be converted or don’t need to be converted. I am not here to try and spread the word or brainwash readers into attending the next local networking event. My aim through this section is to: 1) Open up the doors to organisers of networking events to promote their events Organisers work very hard to put on events and deserve an outlet to help promote what they are trying to do. All networking organisations who would like to benefit from free publicity in B4, the B4 web site or the weekly B4 e-Newsletters, please contact me to find out how you can benefit from B4’s generous offer to help 2) Provide tips on good networking 3) Answer any queries readers may have about networking organisations and where to find your nearest networking group
readers. The B4 Club is not a networking group but a club where businesses can offer their products or services at a discount to B4 Club members. The aim is for companies to become members of
“Effective business networking is the bringing together of like minded individuals who, through relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another” Lauren Neilson in Tips to help you become a Networking Guru! From www.articlealley.com Director of Small to Medium Enterprise Growth http://www.smegrow.com
the B4 Club and offer membership to their staff, who in turn benefit from these discounts, ranging from money off event tickets, discounts in restaurants, special offers for hotels, shops and other organisations. We will carefully select the offers we promote but we will not rule out any offers simply because they may appear obscure. What we have to do, however, is ensure that the offers are good value, they are honoured and that B4 members really do see the benefits of B4 Club membership.
“Networking is not about selling – although this can be one of the many results…it’s about developing confidence, gathering market intelligence, finding new business opportunities, career development and even simply finding friends.” Karen Gill – Managing Director – Everywoman (women’s business support group)
We have to ensure that the staff of businesses making offers are fully briefed, that there are not too many restrictions on offers and that the system, overall, works for both the card holders and the businesses making the offers. Other
“As long as it is applied effectively, structured and monitored closely, Business networking can easily account for between 10% and 25% of a companies annual sales.” Michael Sloyan – Founder and Managing Director – The British Business Club “It isn’t what you know, and it isn’t who you know. It’s actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.” Bob Burg “More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MDA courses are given on the subject.” Peter Drucker
membership are as follows: • Advertising discounts with B4 and Oxford Black Book III • Guaranteed exposure on B4 e-Newsletters • Web presence for your business on the B4 web site • Guaranteed invite to B4 launch events • Discounts on entry to B4 ticketed events • Direct contact between B4 and your staff to promote offers and discounts so you don’t have to
“Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread.” John Arnolt
worry about a thing
“The best prospect is the client who has already dealt with you. The second best is the one referred to by a client who has dealt with you previously. The third best is the one referred to you by another trusted professional or friend.” Marilyn Jennings
So, if you are interested in B4 Club memberships
• Ability to purchase individual B4 memberships for staff, family and friends, customers and suppliers
for your company, individual memberships or you would like us to promote an offer for you, please contact Richard on 01865 742211 or e-mail Clubb4@b4-business.com for further details.
Much more than just accountants Thinking outside the blocks • • • • • • • • • •
Business Development Registered Auditors Computer Solutions Corporate Finance Taxation Software Development Financial Services Courses / Seminars Business Start-ups Business Turnaround
Cranbrook House 287 / 291 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 7JQ Tel: 01865 552925 Fax: 01865 557732 Email: r.clayton@theMgroup.co.uk Website: www.theMgroup.co.uk
PAINTING PROFIT$ Mark Reynolds finds out why art is going to be the Inspired investment choice for 2007 The Apple store on 5th Avenue sets the tone from the minute you walk towards it from Central Park. The huge glass structure above the entrance not only oozes style and affirms their strong brand, but it shows the importance of a good first impression and helps you understand that a business is judged on more than just its products and services. Art can create an impact on clients and emphasise the ethos and style of your business. From a striking glass sculpture in the lobby, to a timeless classic on the wall of the boardroom, you have always been able to impress people and inspire discussion by choosing your décor wisely – but now both businesses and individuals are starting to realise that art is also back on the agenda for the serious investor. When a successful business is 8 years old, there is no need to re-tell the story of how Emily and Danielle came together to set up Inspires Art Gallery in Little Clarendon Street. (“If people are really still interested, they can read the website!”) Their business has grown and diversified in recent years, driven by their infectious passion for the creative arts and their ability to deliver successful projects. Inspires is the kind of place we all wish we worked in. The gallery has a homely and welcoming feel and their range of products is truly diverse. In my short time there I came across an oil painting of the dreaming spires, an abstract sweep of dramatic colour, and a four foot bronze rabbit. There really is something for every taste, even if you’re a little scared of “fine” art and your artistic mind has not fully developed. ”People are pushing their home lives and personalities into their office spaces”, says Emily. Inspires can not only offer advice on how to create the right impression, they can also use their in-depth knowledge of the art world to help you spot an artist whose work is likely to increase in value. For example, you can buy a piece by Peter Blake in the gallery and the British pop-art pioneer is an obvious example of the type of artist that the wise investor should be looking at in 2007. Blake is most famous for the album cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 and more recently designed the cover of Stanley Road for Paul Weller. He has produced a huge body of work in a range of styles over the last 30
years, but his inclusion in the new year’s honours list in 2002 and renewed press interest since then has generated interest in his work from a new generation of art lovers, and subsequently its value has increased hugely. When your money is sitting in a pension scheme or a high interest ISA, you are likely to see some stable yet unspectacular growth over a large number of years, but what else will it do for you? Will your friends want to hear about it over dinner? Will it inspire your children and shape their memories of your family home? Will it give you the spark of inspiration to perform well in a big meeting? No, it will not. What could be more satisfying than owning a fascinating, individual piece of someone’s creative soul – but at the same time knowing that its rate of financial growth could be far superior to anything you can read about in the FT? Sounds like a win-win to me… Inspires are also part of an Arts Council initiative called Own Art, which lets private customers purchase artwork up to the value of £2000 with an interest free loan. They were selected as one of 250 galleries in the country to help people purchase paintings, sculpture, glass, jewellery or textiles in an affordable manner. The only rule is that it must be by a living artist. Danielle explained: “If you choose a piece by someone just before they get famous, or just before they die (sounds cynical I know, but this often has a huge impact on value) then your investment can rise by 30 or 40% within a matter of months.” So with some good advice, some good judgement, or some luck, your 0% loan could be the most sensible finance agreement you ever take. “The gallery never stands still,” says Danielle. “We are constantly running small exhibitions by new artists and when word spreads and they become more popular, the relationships between us and the artists develop.” Taking some time to soak up the atmosphere is a must when you next visit Oxford, whether you are buying a birthday present, brightening up your living room, or decorating a whole new premises. Who knows, if you can spot a piece by someone who goes on to become the next big thing, you could give up deleting your stock broker’s number from your phone for good. Contact details on page 62
ALL CHANGE AT
Cotswold Lodge Hotel on the Banbury Road is one of Oxford’s longest established hotels. The Hotel’s restaurant has recently undergone a radical facelift. Richard Rosser met with the hotel’s General Manager, Walter Fallon, to shed more light on one of Oxford’s “newest” secrets. We have all done it. Stayed in a hotel and not given the restaurant a second thought, wouldn’t even look at the menu. This is a common problem for hotels and one which the management at Cotswold Lodge Hotel were keen to address.
what they wanted, not what we thought they wanted. “Garin Chapman, the Head Chef, was involved in the new menu design, and in the autumn of last year we closed the restaurant for six weeks to begin the transformation.
The conference facility has the added benefit of natural light and leads through to the gardens. It is also fully air conditioned and equipment requirements for conferences can be arranged.
“What we offer at the Cotswold Lodge is a very “We knew we had to bring the hotel into the 21st “After all of the hard work we can’t now sit back and individual, family owned hotel. Our aim is to provide century. Not exactly kicking and screaming, but the be proud of our achievements. The hard work starts inbound businessmen and conference delegates with restaurant wasn’t everyone’s first port of a ‘home from home’ but also to provide call for a night out or a business lunch,” the local community with a first class FAMILY OWNED HOTEL INDIVIDUAL explains this most engaging Irishman. dining and conference experience. FLEXIBLE AND HOSPITALITY IS OUR STRENGTH “We simply weren’t attracting the non residents. We had to change the whole ethos of the now that we have the product we have always B4 Offer: 25% off all meals throughout January and restaurant, not only for the residents, but also for the wanted. We now have an excellent hotel and a first February. local catchment area of north Oxford and city centre class restaurant. The early feedback has been residents. To a certain extent, we were living on past excellent since we opened in November, and the real B4 Fact: Walter Fallon has managed Cotswold Lodge reputations and the restaurant wasn’t inviting enough test of what we have created begins now.” Hotel since January 2005 for residents, let alone non residents. The restaurant, 66a, complements the function room, Previous hotels: “At the start of 2006 we looked at what we needed the Norham Suite. This was also completely Charingworth Manor Chipping Camden to do and began researching other restaurants, both refurbished in 2006 and provides delegates with an Thistle Hotels Birmingham in London and other cities. We did our homework and excellent sanctuary away from the business Stormont Hotel Belfast even though it sounds like fun, it opened our eyes to environment of the conference room. The facilities Nassau Beach Hotel Bahamas what customers’ expectations of a restaurant were, be themselves are impressive. Seating for private dining it in a hotel or as a stand-alone entity. We wanted a or theatre style is 120, boardroom or classroom 60, Contact details on page 62 modern, contemporary feel and to give our guests and 140 for reception.
Would-be investors are told that the Buy to Let property market is saturated and that they are better off putting their money in the bank. Greg Barnes of Breckon and Breckon talks to Richard Rosser about why he believes there is no reason to turn your back on investing in property, especially in Oxford, and in particular in its West End.
Every day we are bombarded by conflicting opinions, advice and scenarios concerning property prices. Up, down, up, down… But what about Oxford? Are we a special case? Is property immune to any sort of dip? Breckon & Breckon is a long-established independent firm of estate agents, operating from offices in Oxford City Centre, Woodstock High Street and Oxford Apartments on Woodstock Road. Greg Barnes is a director of the lettings office, based in the city’s West End in Hollybush Row. Barnes passes me a document as we open our discussion and tells me that on the tenth anniversary of its launch by ARLA, The Association of Residential Letting Agents, Buy to Let has secured its position as a major industry in its own right, not merely a part of the property industry. Barnes quotes an excerpt from the ARLA web site: “Today, over a million households live in Buy to Let properties. These property assets are worth well over £120 billion and the Buy to Let sector contributes over £30 billion to the economy each year. This contribution is worth more than that made by all of the pubs, hotels and restaurants in the country and is over four times more than the contribution from the motor industry.” Interesting stuff indeed, but does this underline that the Buy to Let market has reached saturation, or does it encourage those who haven’t committed themselves to get involved? Or, being cynical, is it letting agent propaganda? Barnes is quick to dispel any negative myths about Buy to Let or property investment in general: “You need to consider other factors which help explain the growth of Buy to Let. As long as it has been geared correctly, in the main, property provides steady income and – whilst not highly profitable based solely on its yield (typically in the region of 4.5–5% gross) – long term it does give stability, security and ultimately a good return on the initial investment. According to the HBOS house price index, the average house price in the SouthEast has increased by 185% over the last ten years, with Oxford’s in particular increasing from £99,426 in 1996 to £271,489 in 2006, a rise of 173%, far outstripping other investment vehicles. Barnes’s Hollybush Row office is one minute away from Saïd Business School and the train station and so he is, literally, well placed to sing the praises of west Oxford. It is an area of much promise, as Barnes explains: “The ‘regeneration’, if that is not too strong a word, really began when the Saïd opened and created such a fantastic focal point for the area. This was followed by housing developments such as the Kingerlee Lion Brewery and Stream Edge developments and the Bellway ‘Oe’ development adjacent to Oxford Castle and high profile restaurants like Smollensky’s . “We can also look forward to the re-development of the Westgate Centre, planned for 2010, and the arrival of John Lewis. Everywhere you look, if there isn’t development happening, almost every inch of land has been earmarked for development of some form. The impact on prices has been such that you would be hard-pushed to find a 2 bedroom apartment for less than £200,000. “Property is about cycles and as the West End is one of the last areas to be developed in the city centre, it follows that it will increase in popularity and this will have an undoubted knock-on effect in terms of property prices. Without being in the position to provide guarantees, the available facts would suggest that the West End is certainly an area to seriously consider.” Buy to Let, an example: Property Value: £200,000 Deposit: £40,000 Mortgage: £758 per month at 5.69% (fixed to 30/11/2011) Rent: Circa £950 per calendar month Other Fees: Valuation, stamp duty and legal fees Other options include Tracker rate mortgages: base rate plus 0.24% would give a rate of 5.24%, commanding interest-only payments of £698. The rental income formula for this is 125%; therefore a rental income of £872 is required. Again, fees apply. Figures are supplied by separate high street lenders through FOCUS Independent Financial Advisers, Platinum Sponsors of B4. Contact details on page 62
OUFC & GREEN 4 SOLUTIONS A fundamental issue for many businesses is how to communicate effectively with their customers. Data is often available in disparate formats from mailing lists, season ticket sales etc…. but the technological advances in this field now allow organisations to capture data which in turn enables more efficient use of the data. Green 4 Solutions has the relevant sector experience to harness and manipulate this data to maximum effect. Professional sports clubs already enjoy very high levels of customer loyalty based on family ties and geography, with very little chance of attrition to a local rival. Good use of e-communications (in the form of email and e-newsletters) can enhance this relationship dramatically and create an environment for regular, intimate communication and revenue growth that other commercial organisations can only dream about. Peter Oliver and Elliot Metcalf of Green 4 Solutions are working closely with Kelvin Thomas at Oxford United with regards to their system and it is proving to be a very worthwhile move, as Kelvin Thomas, Club Director, explains: “Despite our relegation last season, the support for Oxford this year has been unbelievable. It is important that we capture data for all of our supporters so that we can share with them the best moments of this pivotal season. The Club is on the up, and we want to establish strong support within the local community. It we are to continue to be successful, we need to create excitement within the town and ensure that we build a viable commercial platform to sustain our position.” For more details, see: www.green4solutions.com
TECHNOLOGY Advances in technology are increasingly changing the way we 'go to work' and play, and this is certainly evident in this issue of B4. In 1907 Arthur Korn sent the first Intercity fax from Munich to Berlin, but it was only intensive development from the Xerox corporation coupled with a series of mid-eighties postal strikes that catapulted facsimile forward as an acceptable medium for electronic communication in the UK. Nowadays we prefer e-mail or messaging and the humble fax machine has taken a back seat. The rate of technological development is much quicker now though and computer networking, together with IP telephony, allow us to work and communicate regardless of physical location. In the same way that it became acceptable to communicate by fax twenty years ago, it is now acceptable to work hours that suit us and often from a home office equipped with a broadband connection to HQ. Relaxation of the long held belief that we should all be in the office from 8.30 till 5.30 is being influenced by a number of factors, not least the relentless drive for more personal productivity - more on
this from Thomas Jenkinson of IT solutions provider Agnito later. Of much greater significance is the effect that carbon emissions from production and travel are having on the environment. It is refreshing to hear Jason Kingsley of Rebellion talking about his workforce walking and cycling to work and to Gemma Tomkys promoting electronic page turning solutions which can reduce the amount of print in the world. Even the high octane world of F1 has recognised it's responsibility with Bernie Ecclestone recently off-setting carbon emissions from the sport. One hundred years after the first intercity fax, 2007 is set to become the year that we woke up to the damage we are doing to our planet. Whilst politicians have been slow to take meaningful action, businesses will continue to use technology to work in smarter and more productive ways and if this means that we no longer commute to work every day, then this can only be a good thing. I'm looking forward to my electronic copy of B4! Brendon Cross Managing Director of STL Communications
When asked, how would you define “good” technology, Seal told Audi Magazine: “Before I go any further I have to say that, for me, the development of technology very often mirrors where we are headed as a society. In other words, “good” technology should serve one purpose only – to give you more time. To make life easier. That’s why I automatically equate good technology with intuitive technology – tech made simple. Even if, behind the scenes, it’s extremely sophisticated.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Audi Magazine and Seal
AGNITO DON’T NEGLECT YOUR IT NETWORK! Most businesses will have an accountant. Some have dedicated payroll services and tax advisers. But what about the white boxes we sit in front of everyday? Where would we be without them? To many of us they are pivotal to every working day. Without a fully functioning PC, the domino effect can be catastrophic. Finding a competent and reliable IT solution is not easy, not just to untangle the web of months - if not years - of PC neglect, but also to make sure that your IT set-up is robust enough to deal with your everyday demands. Richard Rosser spoke with Thomas Jenkinson to find out how his company, Agnito, can help.
Thomas’s background as an engineer, consultant and leading partner with a wide range of organisations gave him an insight into the IT requirements of small to medium sized businesses, and it was this experience which told him he should be offering his services within his own company. He felt a lot of customers were being let down by their IT ‘support’ and that he had the know-how to provide a more reliable IT solution. Agnito’s website is a good introduction to its modus operandi. The site talks of long term partnerships with clients and how Agnito can create a platform which enables a company’s IT network to grow as your business grows. Agnito recognise that their clients require a “great deal of personal productivity” but that the investment in the hardware and software to maximise productivity is just the tip of the iceberg. “We deliver economical solutions with these factors in mind and provide the support infrastructure to complement these solutions.” With that in mind, what is the process? “First of all we identify any issues you may have with your stand-alone PC or your network. We assess the health of your network, how you collect mail, whether or not you have anti-spam, is there a server, do you have back-up? We then recommend a solution and implement it as quickly and efficiently as possible, but most importantly, with minimum disruption. “I see myself now as more of an IT broker. Agnito can provide a comprehensive solution to a customer’s IT problems and peace of mind that we are
protecting their ongoing IT framework. We also have an excellent resource of specialist engineers available to us, so that all scenarios can be dealt with effectively and efficiently.”
WHAT CAN AGNITO DO FOR YOU
What is Agnito’s role after the problems have been eliminated and the solutions put in place?
• Web and Email hosting
• Sourcing and installing suitable hardware and software.
• Anti-virus and anti-spam solutions “Availability is key. All too often you see businesses frustrated with having support to hand, but how quick is the reaction? On the whole it is below average. By having our Active Monitoring Service (AMS), we get reports flagging up problems you are experiencing, remotely. Often we know if you are experiencing a problem before you do. Insufficient space, error messages, viruses etc…. all get reported back to us and we react immediately. “Viruses and spam are a major problem for any PC user, and SOPHOS anti-virus software gets to the heart of the problem, quickly and efficiently. We recommend SOPHOS for your network, to provide a secure and protected environment.
• 24 hour monitoring of your network • Telephone and on-site support • Service level agreements to insure prompt action and therefore minimal disruption • Office moves / relocation • Project management If you would like to discuss your requirements, please contact Agnito on: 0870 458 2151
“Some customers use our services on an ad hoc basis. They take advantage of some or all of our services, but on the whole, our customers entrust us with the role of total IT solutions provider and this makes a lot of sense. The analogy I would draw is farming out your tax requirements to a different company than the one that does your main company audit - on the whole, it makes a lot more sense to use a firm of accountants who have a handle on the wider picture.”
IMPROVED Q&A TECHNOLOGY = IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE? W E N N TOWNSEND
Tony Haines, Partner at Wenn Townsend, is pleased to accept any accountancy-related queries you may have regarding your established or new business. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries and we will forward the questions to Tony. Selected questions and answers will be reproduced in future issues of B4 Business Magazine or our weekly e-Newsletter.
Barbara Temple, who runs a sandwich delivery service, asks: “I am thinking about employing an assistant but the thought of working out the tax associated with doing so has put me off until now, but I must find out what I should be doing.” Answer: As soon as you take on an employee you must register as an employer, and HM Revenue and Customs will issue a PAYE reference and give you a PAYE Starter pack giving you all the information you will need.
David McGrogan runs a property development business and asks Tony: “I am unsure as to the new tax requirements for using sub-contractors.” Answer: The main change is that your Sub Contractors will no longer have CIS cards. You will now have to make contact as soon as you take on a new Sub Contractor and HMRC will advise you what rate of tax to deduct. Full details are available from the HMRC web site. Contact details on page 62
We use technology to control the world in which we live. Technology is people using knowledge, tools and systems to make their lives easier and better. People use technology to improve their ability to work and through technology we all communicate more efficiently. Technology enables us to make new and improved products. The buildings we work in are better through the use of technological advances. We travel in more comfort and journey times are reduced as a direct result of technology. Yes, technology is all around. Tony Haines, a Partner at Wenn Townsend, has seen how his accountancy firm has adapted to changes in technology, but argues that technology does not always solve problems. Wenn Townsend was established back in 1876, in an age of quill pens, ink bottles and blotting paper. Huge leather bound ledgers were lugged around by the office junior and accounting software was a million miles away. Tony Haines explains how changes in his time at the practice, have, on the whole, been welcome, “Obviously computerisation has made life a lot easier for all of us, not only simplifying the inputting and maintenance of management information but also eliminating so much time and effort. “However, as communication has improved, we are all expected to react a lot more quickly. Our time lines have contracted significantly and expectations have risen accordingly with the advent of texting, e-mail and more cost effective and improved telephone communications. Fax machines were only invented in the 1960’s and before faxes, messages were delivered by hand from office to office, delaying the whole audit process. “The paperless office will never, in my opinion, exist, at least not for the next twenty years. But we have certainly witnessed a massive reduction in the need for file storage as we are now able to save so much electronically. As requirements for hard copy documents are relaxed, I can certainly see a point in time when most records are computerised. This is obviously placing less
strain on the need for paper and this can only be good environmentally. “Our fee income profile has also changed dramatically over the last 20 years. A client of ours in the tourism industry has been with us for several decades, despite two changes in ownership. Thirty years ago, there was a real need for the owners to interface directly with their customers due to the specialist nature of the holidays they were offering. Even then the company was regarded as forward-thinking because it had a niche market offering specific types of holidays years before ‘unique selling points’ became fashionable. In those days, the company would operate with a dozen or so employees. Today the company still thrives, but is run very differently. It is still owner-managed but employs just two people. It no longer needs a direct interface with its customers, to such an extent that even the employees are no longer UK based. The business is generated through a fully comprehensive website and telephone calls are taken in Spain. As one can imagine, technology has totally transformed the owners’ quality of life but is also responsible for reducing personnel.”
1867 Type writer Alexander Bain
B4 Comment: Technology throughout history has enabled us to complete tasks more efficiently and with less intellect or physical labour. Texting is a perfect example of an excellent innovation which has been abused. There are huge question marks surrounding the language skills of the current generation of 15 to 20 year old’s and texting is arguably making them lazier. Spell checks for PC’s are placing less emphasis on the need to be able to spell correctly and this is a massive negative. So, for every positive we derive from technological developments, we have to contend with the negatives.
Positives • The development of a “leisure class” who are less desk-bound and freer to lead a more healthy lifestyle. • A more informed society can make quicker responses to events and trends. • Our ability to multi-task increases. • We are able to network globally. • Relatively cheap entry levels to gain the benefits of major technological breakthroughs such as access to the web.
Telephone – Alexander Graham Bell
1950 Credit card - Ralph Schneider
B4 Comment: Barclays Technology Media & Telecoms:
Bluetooth – Ericsson
Andrew Davies, Technology, Media, Telecoms (TMT) specialist in the Barclays Oxford Team says you don’t have to be a TMT specialist to realise that this high profile sector is characterised by competition, consolidation and convergence. “Yet it is easy to forget that our every day lives are also being influenced by many other players within this industry, from the delivery of PCs, to software that runs our banking system, to methods of communication and surveillance.
1965 Compact Disc – James Russell
Negatives •The increasing oppression of technologically advanced societies over those which are not. • A greater percentage of the world’s population are now starving in this most technologically advanced age than at any other point in history. • The increase in transportation technology has brought congestion in some areas • New forms of danger exist as a consequence of new forms of technology, new types of nuclear reactors, unforeseen genetic mutations as the result of genetic engineering, or perhaps something more subtle which destroys the ozone or warms the planet • New forms of entertainment such as video games and internet access could have possible social effects on areas such as academic performance • Creates new diseases and disorders such as obesity, laziness and a loss of personality.
“At Barclays we realise the importance of this sector and have a dedicated team of TMT specialists throughout the UK. We are backed up by an industry strategy board (ISB) which includes relationship directors, a specialist TMT credit team, processing and product specialists, together with external support from the market. “The knowledge we gain from having the ISB and sector-focused approach gives us an in depth understanding of our TMT clients and helps us to tailor our products and services to their needs. “We bank 32% of the FTSE top 350 TMT companies and this year alone our expertise in Oxford has allowed us to successfully secure the following local businesses: XN Plc, Software Imaging Group Ltd, L T I Metaltech Ltd and Oxford Catalyst Ltd.”
Ipod – Apple
Formula One racing team choose best-in-class communications engine from STL STL Communications have recently announced
effectively and efficiently with suppliers, colleagues,
We have a team of 65 people who travel to each
that they have partnered with the Spyker F1
partners and sponsors is key. So it is very important to
Grand Prix location and we also have a further 30
Racing team to provide IP platforms for the team’s
keep up with the latest in communications
staff members in the testing team, who carry out our
communications. The announcement sees the
technology, as well as the latest in engine technology.
sophisticated testing programme at locations all over
Adrian Collinson, Head of IT explains:
the world. Both of these teams have benefited from
using the IP phones and we were able to use them
OfficeServ IP Voice Server in order to deliver sophisticated business communications, including
“The telephone system we had been using was very
in all remote locations during the 2006 season. They
Samsung’s Wi-Fi technology, in one of the fiercest
complex, out of date and expensive to maintain. We
have made a huge difference for us during this time.”
technological test beds on earth. Richard Rosser
wanted to stay with STL Communications as we have
finds out more.
been very happy with their service and their level of
Solving a logistical nightmare
technical knowledge, so in late 2004 we asked them
Historically, Adrian needed to liaise with a local
Few things move faster than the Formula One
for advice on which system to consider for the future.
telecoms provider to rent a number of analogue and
industry. Less than two years ago a chapter in the
They then spent time working with us to scope out
ISDN lines for each event. This was an administrative
history of F1 came to an end when Jordan Grand Prix
our requirements and to specify exactly the right
headache in itself and also meant that a full directory
was acquired by the privately-owned trading and
system for our needs.”
of contact numbers had to be issued for all of the people at each location, making the whole process
investment organization, Midland Group. Midland F1
POWERING A SUCCESSFUL T Racing was born as a result of that purchase, and the
STL Communications, a Samsung Platinum partner,
very costly and time-consuming from a management
company announced the official registration of its
recommended the Samsung OfficeServ 500 for the
perspective. There were also costs involved for the
team for the 2006 FIA Formula One World
head office at Silverstone, supported by an OfficeServ
lines themselves and for calls made to and from each
Championship in late 2005. Then, proving as always
7200 at the wind tunnel in Brackley. The system was
that change and progression is the norm in the world
installed in September 2005 with 200 extensions in
of Formula One, just a few short months later in
total, 150 at head office and a further 50 in Brackley.
Now, with the IP phones, these can simply be
September 2006, Midland F1 Racing was purchased
The initial implementation was a hybrid VoIP solution,
plugged in on arrival and will run in exactly the same
by Dutch company Spyker Cars NV. This created
with a mix of digital and IP handsets designed to
way as phones which are located at head office. This
Spyker F1 Racing, which entered its first race at the
meet individual requirements throughout the
means that staff can simply log in and use the phone
2006 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
business. More recently, in September 2006, the
as if they were in the office and that they can be
head office system has been upgraded to the latest
called on their normal office number, as Adrian
Spyker F1 are looking forward to the 2007 season
Samsung OfficeServ system, the 7400. Adrian
with confidence and with the determination to
“It’s so much easier now as everyone retains their
Determination which will no doubt be helped by their
“We always planned to upgrade as soon as the 7400
office extension number, so from an administration
recent engine deal with Ferrari, a partnership which
became available, but we have been really pleased
perspective and in terms of productivity, it’s a huge
demonstrates Spyker F1’s desire to build the team on
with both systems. A key requirement for us was the
improvement all round. We just arrange a single
ability to use IP handsets during testing and also at
quality-of-service (QoS) enabled SDSL connection at
race locations, something which we trialed initially in
each location and we can run all of our voice and data
Driving communications change
late 2005 at the Brazilian Grand Prix. We took two IP
communications over the one link, with no
The engine is certainly the heart of a Formula One
phones with us and were amazed when we plugged
requirement for analogue lines from local providers.
them in and they ran off the main switch
The IP phones are also extremely simple to set up,
immediately. It was so simple.
meaning that we only need one engineer on site and
communication is the heart of their business. Both internally and externally, the ability to interact
even he has far less work to do. We also use IP
softphones as well as physical IP handsets and these
used to have.
using different wind tunnel premises elsewhere in the
are very useful, especially at ‘fly away’ races which we
UK for the next four months. With the Samsung
cannot travel to overland - as every kilo of equipment
With the new system, Spyker have been able to
OfficeServ 7400, they can now simply set up a
costs us money to send out to the relevant country.”
remove the 2Mb link which they used to have for
remote office at the temporary site (for all of the staff
voice traffic between Silverstone and Brackley, as all
who are normally based at Brackley) and everyone
Making it all happen
voice and data communications now run over their
can carry on using their usual office extension
When the original Samsung systems were installed in
single 100Mb LES circuit. They have also reduced the
numbers as normal: a further example of a situation
September 2005, it was vital that the changeover did
amount of physical space which the previous
which could have been a serious headache for Adrian,
not disrupt day to day business activities in any way.
equipment was taking up at Silverstone by around
but is now very simple to deal with. In the longer term,
The race season was still very much in progress and
Spyker F1 are talking to STL Communications about
communication capability could not be compromised
the possibility of adding Samsung video-conferencing
during that time, as STL Communications’ Managing
phones to the system. This is something which Adrian
Director Brendon Cross explains:
throughout, but have also been able to call on
is very interested in and which would be a huge
advantage for the business, especially when
“A smooth transition was essential and a team was
whenever it has been required, including having
put in place to ensure this. The team wasn’t as big as
we thought it needed to be, as one of the joys of the
communicating with personnel trackside.
the “With STL Communications and Samsung as partners,
Samsung product is that it’s so simple to work with.
we have been able to transform our remote
TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP With one lead engineer on site full time, plus a
“They really do function as an extension of our IT
communication capabilities whilst also reducing costs
project manager, we were able to set everything up in
Team,” adds Adrian. “STL Communications fully
and improving reliability.” Concludes Adrian: “Every
the week beforehand and get the two systems
understand our comms set-up and we trust them to
pound saved is an extra pound that can be spent on
running in parallel. The transition was made in one
do whatever is required to keep things running
car development, which in turn equals better results –
hour, at a time to suit our client, in this case early one
and it’s great to know that our communications
morning to avoid any disruption to business.
management capability, but to be honest, we have not
technology is one thing that I don’t have to worry
really needed to use this, as the Samsung system is so
As the client knew exactly what they wanted, it made
reliable. There were some minor issues in the early
it much easier to deliver and also provide a system
days, but nothing serious and they responded quickly
“For me, the three key system benefits are ease of
which was as simple as possible for Adrian to manage
to these, coming to site at short notice if we needed
management, reliability and cost-efficiency. From my
in-house. Some suppliers want to do all the work as
them. In fact, even if it’s not strictly something that is
perspective, it is the Samsung technology which
this brings in more revenue, but that is not our style.
their responsibility, such as config changes or call
supports and underpins these other benefits and
We want what’s best for our customer.”
tracing, they still come out and help us if we need
makes them possible. I have been extremely pleased
with the whole implementation and with the new
The solution which Spyker F1 now have supports their
system itself. We have already told Samsung that we
business effectively and will continue to do so for
What we are doing is very ‘leding edge’ and we are
are very happy to be used as a reference site. It is
many years to come. All staff have full voicemail
always looking to be better and to do things more
quite amazing that STL Communications have
facilities and the system also uses the Samsung CMS
efficiently – and it’s great to know that our
implemented sites for us that they have never been
call management suite, to ensure that all inbound and
communications technology is one area that I don’t
to. It’s that simple – it just works. What more can you
outbound communications are properly tracked and
have to worry about.”
reported upon. The new Samsung system also includes 30 Wi-Fi handsets to support office-based
Planning for the future
staff who are mobile around the premises, which
In the short term, Spyker F1 are about to upgrade their
replaced the previous DECT technology that Jordan
wind tunnel in Brackley, meaning that they will be
Contact details on page 62
A PASSION FOR REBELLION
Nearly every home has a PC, and according to Business Week online, 83% of 8-18 year olds in America have at least one video game player in their house. The computer games business is vast. But what is the story behind the box? Not many readers will know that one of the “Premier League” computer games developers is based here in Oxford. Richard Rosser met with Rebellion Games CEO & Creative Director Jason Kingsley, to find out how it all began and where this “monster” industry is headed. On the face of it, the Rebellion Games HQ looks like a lock-up. Inside, the reception area rolls into a wave of computer programmers, studiously tapping away on their workstations. And it’s all so quiet. As I am led to the boardroom we pass through rooms of even more programmers. Honestly, you can walk into some offices and two people could create more noise – testament to the “passion” of these guys which I am to hear more about.
The US video game market grossed nearly $10.5 billion in sales in 2005 and is expected to grow to $46.5 billion by 2010, according to Business Week online. However, Jason is quick to dispel the myth that it is a bigger industry than the film industry: “Bigger maybe than movie box office, but that doesn’t include film DVD sales. Game design budgets are approaching those enjoyed by many movies, quite regularly £10 million plus for a game. We have heard legends about budgets in excess of $100 million, more anecdotal than anything else – no one has ever proved it!
I ask Jason how it all started. “I actually studied zoology at St John’s having spent much of my time writing children’s books which were very games-focused: choose-your-own-adventure type games. From the age of twelve, my ten year old brother, Chris, and I were writing ‘games’ in one sense. We then got involved in the industry as freelancers, and Chris, and I set up Rebellion from our basement studio flat in Jericho fourteen years ago. “The business has grown organically without formal investment. Our growth is driven by passion first and planning second. Our passion helps us to do what we do very well and we do reap the rewards as a consequence. Our focus is designing the “cool stuff” – that’s our raison d’etre – and the games industry has grown up around us, even though we like to think we have grown at a faster rate. We sell games worldwide – it’s a great thrill in some ways to see your games pirated in China! Rebellion now have three studios – Oxford, Liverpool and Derby (the studio which created Tomb Raider), and employ almost 250 full-time staff and 140 comic book freelancers.” It’s not just computer games that tickle the fancy of this energetic, youthful company. “We purchased 2000 AD the comic, a few years ago. The previous publishers were successful, but lacked the passion for the characters and the worlds that form the crux of the comic. We have also dabbled in films and had some success, but digital distribution is changing the
“We are certainly Premier League in terms of size, but we are ‘only as good as our last game’. We work with some huge customers worldwide with some of the largest Intellectual Properties in the world, organisations such as Electronic Arts and Vivendi.
market so we are focusing on what we do best: designing games. TV presents opportunities but we are at the very early stages.” So what is Rebellion’s role? “Most of our clients are in the States or Japan. We receive a remit to create a game based on a certain character or theme, and we are then commissioned to create a game from start to finish, embracing design, programming and testing over a period as long as twenty-four months. Payments are made in stages or “milestones” – based on monthly achievable objectives. We also originate games, put together a prototype and then make a proposal to the key distributors. As with any commercial project, if we are prepared to share the risk by putting up funds, it makes the project more attractive to a distributor – a classic risk / reward scenario.”
I ask Jason how he sees the games industry evolving over the next five years. “The one thing you can predict is that the games industry will be very difficult to predict! Our industry is an industry of constant change. With new platforms coming out so regularly – PS3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 – we have to be totally in tune and ahead of the game, (excuse the pun!). “Recruiting good people is imperative and helps us stay true to our core values – quality of game play. We are always in need of passionate people – if they fall short in this department then they won’t put the hours in, which is why so many of our staff live locally and walk to work. I honestly believe that what we do is akin to creating art and without a passionate artist, your product will not excite or catch the imagination. “After that, it is just a case of keeping our fingers crossed!” Contact details on page 62
WECLIK: TURNING A PAGE IN E-PUBLICATIONS We live in a time when environmental concerns influence many of our business decisions. With this in mind, WeClik provides businesses with a real alternative to printed publications. ClikPages is not only customer-friendly but also helps the environment and, consequently, the businesses’ public image. Gemma Tomkys investigates.
WeClik provides online electronic page-turning solutions called ClikPages. Product brochures, magazines, sales leaflets and promotions can all be published as ClikPages and engage the reader or shopper in a new and exciting way. Media-rich websites are far more popular now that the large majority of internet users have broadband access. ClikPages provide a real page-turning experience where readers or buyers interact with the page. Add to this the ability to insert multimedia files such as movies and sounds and the publication or catalogue really comes to life. ClikPages are a customer-friendly improvement on ordinary screen presentations. Unlike websites, there's no scrolling – just a simple page-turn that mimics a conventional book – so, using ClikPages is as easy and intuitive as reading a paperback. ClikPages can be custom-built – designed from the outset for screen display, with the full range of functionality options. These can include web links, add-to-bag facility, movies, soundtrack, animations and comprehensive reporting on the reader’s progress and pages visited. ClikPages are the ultimate online brochure or POS: engaging the customer with its features and encouraging click-through and stimulating purchase.
client artwork. Where clients have a requirement for ClikPages but have no existing artwork, WeClik will design and produce the artwork and then convert and upload the magazines or catalogues. WeClik is currently developing the tools that it uses to create the ClikPages catalogues and magazines to enable it to license the self-administered software for use by companies to create, upload and update their own content. WeClik combines the best multimedia technologies, such as Adobe Flash and Ajax, to realise a product that is able to be adapted to meet all of the clients’ digital publishing demands. No special server application is required, as the majority of the work is carried out on a client-side application. This means that ClikPages is easy to deploy on a fairly standard web hosting platform, with no need for expensive software installations. ClikPages has been purposely developed to be cross-platform, browser-friendly and viewable by anybody using Flash plugin, which is installed as standard on 99% of machines. Flash is the choice of media-rich sites such as YouTube, Google Video, Flickr and Photobucket.
ClikPages can also be used to deliver exciting interactive content via touch screens, either in store or via a window touch screen, thus giving 24-hour access to information.
The Environmental Argument Printed-paper magazines or catalogues are expensive to produce and are often out of date soon after they are printed. They may also take a substantial amount of time to produce and the information cannot be changed after production: this can be wasteful. If you are not targeting your market efficiently, a prohibitively high number of customers or readers may throw your publication away without reading it.
WeClik can use its software and systems to convert and upload magazines and catalogues from existing
Some customers may still prefer the look and feel of a magazine or catalogue to a website; ClikPages
technology allows you to retain the experience of browsing a paper-based product whilst reducing the impact on the environment. ClikPages also gives the user the unique ability to link from each of the pages to rich content such as additional images, video footage or an e-commerce website to encourage other purchases. You can save a massive amount by using turning pages to publish your magazine or catalogue and then e-mail it to your customers, as this negates the cost of print and postage as well as being eco-friendly. Even if, initially, you feel you cannot do without a paper-based product, you will find that you can reduce the print run and distribution as more people opt for the electronic version; this could put you in a position to print fewer versions of your paper-based publication. As the information within your publications changes, rather than reprint, you could send out an e-mail with a ClikPages solution as an update. If pricing changes then there is a facility within ClikPages to change the prices displayed on the pages. Should any customers or readers need a specific page printed, there is an option within ClikPages. There is a clear PR opportunity for users of ClikPages: by using this facility, businesses can visually communicate their commitment to the environment. WeClik clients include: Amazon.co.uk, Riley Snooker, Independent Newspaper, Sony. For more information please call Dan Rawles at WeClik Limited on 01202 853611 or e-mail him at email@example.com. B4 are also a partner of WeClik and would be pleased to discuss any requirements you may have.
F R O M PRIVATEER TO PRACTIONEER What do the following have in common? A double bassist who lived in Hollywood. A music student who attended Trinity College London and then worked as a freelance orchestral musician. A national motorcycle championship rider. A senior account manager for a software company based in the City. A lawyer at Darbys Solicitors LLP (Darbys). Answer: They are all the same person. Mike Warriner is certainly a talented chap. Now widely regarded as a guru in the field of Information Law, Mike has had a very interesting background. He turned down a place at Newcastle University to study mechanical engineering in favour of a career as a freelance double bassist working and living in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Mike then enjoyed a 2 year orchestral musician course at Trinity College, London and following this worked as a freelance orchestral musician. Based on this musical path, his next career move wasn’t entirely predictable: he then became a national motorcycle championship rider. Mike talks of his time as a ‘privateer’ with immense pride: “A privateer is a rider who funds himself and cannot rely on money from sponsors. As a 20-something year-old I came 2nd in a few races and 7th overall in the Championship.” There followed another dramatic career change and a spell in the City working as a senior account manager for a software company which dealt with investment analysts – Insightful Corp, a NASDAQ listed company. After yet another major shift in trajectory, Mike joined Oxford-based Solicitors Darbys in 2004, and now advises on Information Law.
BIG DATA BROTHER Guiding business through the Information Law labyrinth You would think, judging by the extent of the 1998 Data Protection Act, that an expert in Information Law, which encompasses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), The Data Protection Act (DPA) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR); plus someone who is familiar with the various subsidiary disciplines surrounding Information Law, such as the law regulating web sites; as well as someone who has expertise in Intellectual Property law - mainly the commercial exploitation and protection (which also includes everything from domain names, trademarks and copyright), - oh, and by the way someone who also deals with patents, could well account for an entire legal department. Not so with Mike Warriner, who wears all of these hats, is widely regarded as a guru in his many areas of expertise, and even has time to act as Technology Consultant for Darbys, advising on internal technology matters and IT strategy. Mike advises his clients on matters such as e-commerce terms and conditions, international software development contracts, data protection issues as well as advising businesses on how to gain a commercial advantage from the Freedom of Information Act. “The most interesting area of work for me is Information Law,” explains Mike. “It touches businesses in many different ways, including how a business might both handle its customer data and collate it, the value of that customer data should the business ever wish to share or sell it and how that business can exploit the data from an external marketing point of view. “There is always a trade off between protecting someone’s privacy and bombarding them with marketing material. There are some hard black lines that, as a business, you just don’t cross, but there is also a significant grey area where it is essentially a commercial judgement call between the financial gain and the legal risks borne out of the legal issues. This grey area is what I have to assess and advise on. But what are these ‘hard black lines’? “The collection of data and how you inform that
subject of how that data is going to be used is a key black line. There is no way of getting around this; you have to tell someone how you are going to use their data. If you have purchased personal data, the seller has to give you a warranty which discloses that the appropriate permissions have been obtained from the individuals to which the information relates. Typically this is catered for in the sale agreement. They will have to have obtained some form of consent prior to the transfer of the personal information. Proceed with caution when using customer data “Whenever we click “Submit” or “Register Me” on a web site, we are permitting the company to use the data we have provided in some way. There shouldn’t be any surprises arising from this, however if you get an e-mail trying to sell you a service or product when you have absolutely no interest nor previous dealings with such things, then someone has sold on or given your information to a third party without your permission, which is illegal. “Your data cannot be extrapolated, or in other words, used for another service, without your permission. When your data is sold to a third party, there is a transfer of responsibilities and it is a pre-requisite of the company purchasing your data (the third party) that they inform you how they are going to use your data. “The use of all data, whether purchased or obtained voluntarily from an individual, is controlled by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which came into force in December 2003. There is real interaction between the DPA and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations: the latter extends the practical application of the former. “There are two clear groups or types of individual that businesses may wish to e-mail and these are defined as individual and corporate subscribers. The way that the DPA and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulation treat these two groups is very different. For example, with an individual subscriber, a business must obtain the individual’s consent before they e-mail them for marketing purposes. For a corporate subscriber, a business doesn’t need consent, providing that a mechanism for unsubscribing is offered. “The DPA legislates for the transfer of data and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations govern the use of that data. However, the DPA does in
Mike Warriner of Darbys Solicitors LLP is an expert in advising companies on how they should collect, maintain and use data in order to comply with the growing mountain of rules and regulations surrounding this complex and potentially explosive subject. Richard Rosser spoke to Mike to find out what we should be doing as companies to ensure that our data collection and usage procedures are lawful. other instances give a business guidance as to what it can and can’t do, so there is crossover between the two. An example of this could be in the transfer of a data list which contains personal information. “The blurred lines are very much reviewed and assessed on a case by case basis and then it is down to me to look at the sanctions and the risks. I can then take a pragmatic view of the appropriate way forward. “Clients usually have a good idea of what they want to do commercially and I help them navigate through the legal requirements and minimise their exposure to risk or contravention of the relevant legislation. So on a personal level, with all this legislation in place, our private information should be relatively safe, providing we are careful who has it. Indeed, if this legal protection was in fact rigidly enforced, the amount of junk mail in our inbox in the morning and throughout the day would likely vanish. But we all know too well that this is not the case. If we all had a £1 for every Viagra or Stock Market e-mail received we would all be too wealthy to bother turning on our PC’s. Public / Private Data Mike is keen to highlight the even more worrying plight of those businesses which deal with public organisations. “What a lot of people don’t realise is that the FOIA governs the way that the public bodies sector allows access to its information. As a result, any private sector company that contracts with a public body is potentially at risk of exposing commercially sensitive information to its competitors. “I’ve advised a number of private and public sector clients on how to protect their information from release to the public domain. One client, a public
sector body, had a large portfolio managed by a fund manager, and avoided exposing the contents of the portfolio. In another instance, a private organisation that provided services to a public sector body managed to protect its information from release to the public domain.
But surely with all of these restrictions, we could look at a database of 10,000 e-mail addresses and it could soon be diluted to 50 if we followed the letter of the law ? This is where Mike’s advice would guide a company through the legislation provisions so that the bulk of these addresses could be contacted.
How did Mike achieve this? “Within the FOIA, EIR and DPA there are a number of exemptions. While the default position is to make all information accessible, exemptions are available to avoid that disclosure or that default position. The application of these exemptions can be very complex though.
“Businesses should note that there are not as many barriers for a business to observe when contacting individuals by phone or hard copy mailing, as we have the Telephone Preference Service and Mail Preference Service to which an individual can apply to make sure that your address is deleted from a central mailing register. The onus is then on the mailer to make sure that an address is not on this register before mailing. Naturally, with postal mailings, there is a financial implication with sending out repeat mailings (postage, print costs, envelopes, hand inserting). This natural deterrent to bulk mailings does not apply to e-mails, hence why there are so many more restrictions in place for electronic communications.
“For instance, simply marking a document provided to a public body as confidential and not to be disclosed to third parties will not protect it from release. However, there are strategies that can be deployed to avoid these default positions, but these have to be planned rather than retrospectively applied. I can unravel something historically, but it is much harder to achieve.” So having read this article, if it has stimulated you into carrying out a health check on your data, what should you do next? “One of my roles at Darbys is to carry out a process audit / information audit to sanity check and make sure a company is housing and using their data as efficiently as possible and to look at the commercial exploitation of these processes and make sure that these processes comply with the requirements of the legislation, which is forever changing – an annual data medical if you like. I have to make sure that the commercial ambition of a business takes account of the potential risk similar to being aware of tax implications.”
The bottom line is clear. Any information that your business holds for an individual should be treated with due care. The regulations in place are continually being updated and adapted as the internet develops. What might have been a loophole six months ago, will most certainly have been closed or is in the process of being closed. We all have rights when it comes to unsolicited communications, both postal and electronic, and it is only right that we observe the regulations in place when our businesses embark on the next marketing campaign. For further information as to how you should be collating and using data, contact Mike Warriner on 01865 811208.
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How do traditional retailers go about translating the ethos and style from their shops into a successful presence on the world wide web? Mark Reynolds talks to Ray Maclachlan about how his Macsamillion stores in the Covered Market need to retain the feeling of quality when pushing their brand on the web.
FROM BRICKS TO BROADBAND The internet has given birth to a lot of new companies in the last 10 years. Similarly, it has also killed off a lot. My father, who is now retired, is now just as comfortable buying a CD on the internet as he is in HMV, and any business which does not have some kind of web presence is unlikely to survive in the modern world. The problem people have with internet shopping however, is the journey into the unknown. That company who you’ve never heard of, that site which makes you think twice before typing your credit card details in. The web does not remove the need for a reassuring and familiar brand name, it simply requires our retailers to translate their bricks and mortar into html and flash. Dad still buys his CDs from HMV because he knows them and trusts them, the only difference is that he doesn’t have to leave the house – he just adds a “.co.uk” onto the end of a name he’s been comfortable with for years. The issue of how you convey your message and make your online shop retain the feel of your high street shop is a dilemma that Ray Maclachlan is all too familiar with. Macsamillion have been selling high quality designer footwear in Oxford’s Covered Market for thirty five years. Their customers come back time and time again because they offer an extremely high level of service and they genuinely care about delivering a quality product in the right way. They have a gentlemen’s store, a ladies store and a boot store, which Ray is keen to emphasise are still very much their core business: “Most people in Oxford know about our stores, but the website and catalogue are just about building the Macsamillion brand and moving the business in to the
new sphere of retailing”. Ray is keen to give customers that know the store that feeling of quality and service when they visit the website, but also hopes to pick up additional revenue from outside Oxfordshire by developing a strong web presence and differentiating his site from the hundreds of other sites selling Timberland, for example, one of their key product lines. “The site has to feel very professional, so the images of our product are key – they must reflect the quality of the shoes. I also want the site to be easy to navigate and (all importantly) place orders on”. There are certain brands stocked by Macsamillion which can simply not be sold properly online. Masai Barefoot Technology (or MBT) make an innovative new range of footwear that re-establishes the natural conditions of standing or walking and can “teach us how to walk again”. It takes a member of Ray’s team 20 minutes to take a customer through fitting and familiarising them with a pair and the personal touch of an expert is simply something which cannot be web enabled. In this circumstance, Ray simply needs his site to get the customer to make an appointment – it is then down to his sales team to take over. So via the website, customers can watch a video about the MBTs, then check the shop’s diary and make their 20 minute appointment with a specific member of the team. They can even see the person they are going to be meeting. This represents an excellent compromise and a true partnership between your online presence and a
service you can only truly deliver face-to-face. “Its all about delivering a stimulating experience for your customers. There’s nothing like coming into the shop to try on a pair of £300 shoes by Crockett & Jones. I just can’t describe that feeling on the web, the physical environment you’re in has to dictate that - which is why we fit our shops in oak rather than plywood”. Of course, achieving the level of web presence you need is not easy for someone who does not have a background in the world of web technology. The shop has had an information-based site for some time, but moving to a transactional site that generates revenue needed some expert help. “It has to be a partnership between me as a retailer and an IT person who understands what we’re trying to do”. One of the simple ideas which has come out of this partnership is a new online identity for the Macsamillion stores – www.shoe-group.com. “The name Shoe Group is just about attracting a wider audience. It attracts people who live nowhere near Oxford and are just using a search engine to compare companies online. The site had over 3,000 hits in the last 2 weeks of December!”. If you spend some time in Macsamillion, it is obvious that these people know how to retail a quality product with a high level of personal service. When the website is re-launched, we will be able to see whether this feeling has been successfully transferred to our desktops. 5 Core values which keep customers coming back to Macsamillion: • • • • •
High quality customer service Retail to stimulate the mind and body Still owned and run as a family business A worldwide footwear collection Over 35 years retail experience in Oxford Contact details on page 62
Ryfield Oxford is the new name for Chrysler in Oxford, ownership. Ryfield are one of only five Chrysler Group in the UK. Boasting staff with over ten years’ exper Oxford, Ryfield also represents the brand at two site Laurence Mills invited our resident car “nut”, Nick test drive the Grand Cherokee Overland. This most successful Grand Cherokee model in the UK, available with both the 3.0CRD Diesel engine and the range topping 5.7Hemi V8 Petrol engine.
D N A R G
a perception by many
politically incorrect in this day and age and that they have no real place in a society trying to cope with global warming, so it was with some trepidation that I carried out this test. When the car is virtually brand new in gleaming silver, it does rather stand out from the crowd, and not just because of its size. In comparison with others in this class it is a good-looking car with very sensible proportions and masses of road presence. Jumping into the car, I bang my leg on the lower dashboard. It hurts! Now, at 6’0”, I’m not that small but it did seem a bit odd that the entry is a bit cramped. I’ve got size 10 feet and the fact that my toes caught the underside of the dash also seemed to be at odds with a car this big. Maybe this car is designed for mums on the school run rather than beefy farmers in their wellies! This aside, the car is actually a big step forward for Jeep and it feels as solid as it looks. That's reflected in the handling, to some extent, which even with power
, following the recent change in Gold Academy Dealerships rience of the brand in es in Birmingham. k Walker, to is the e
E E K O R E H
assurance of a BMW 540i or an AMG Mercedes. There's a penalty to pay at the pumps, however, with a 13.6mpg urban return (or 18.1mpg on the EC combined test cycle). The 6.1 litre from the SRT-8 model is no better but it does deliver 420bhp. This standard, which means it scores very well against competitors with pages of
car has been carefully priced to undercut top Discoveries, Shoguns, Mercedes M-classes and BMW X5s – its intended rivals – and is way cheaper than Toyota’s Land Cruiser Amazon and the Range Rover.
options. The Sat Nav is a latest spec unit with intuitive controls. When I first tried to find an address, I thought I had discovered its Achilles heel until I realized that it was actually set to Austria instead of the UK! Other Equipment? steering I found
heavy. However, that was more than compensated for by the comfort of the driving seat and the bird's-eye view you have of the road.
Everything you’d expect is in place: a 6-speaker CD Hi-Fi, front fog lamps, electric everything, power folding and heated mirrors, an independently – opening rear tailgate glass and a reversible cargo tray in the estate compartment for those muddy boot moments. Jeep have also got around to putting fingertip controls for the excellent stereo on the steering wheel or, more accurately, behind it. It's the
I drove the 3.0-litre V6 CRD diesel version and was soon wondering why anyone would bother buying one of the petrol versions. The diesel is an engine borrowed from Mercedes and to be frank it shows. It has bags of torque, and when you accelerate hard
final touch to a smartly-styled display. News of the three-year, 60,000-mile warranty should also convince many wavering buyers that the importers are serious about the long-term quality of these tough-looking off-roaders.
there is a genuine feel of real gutsiness that makes you want to explore the full extent of this car’s capabilities. The auto box mates beautifully with the diesel engine and always feels very relaxed in drive mode.
with very little body roll and minimal pitch in acceleration or braking. Able to sprint to 60mph in a
passengers or luggage, in the Grand Cherokee,
as a car of this kind ever can be. Unlike its petrol stable-mates, there are three specifications on offer: Predator, Limited and plush Overland trim.
was in the back, given the huge size of this vehicle. and the luggage space is generous. This MK3 Grand Cherokee is very different from the original version we had in the UK.
friends owns a farm and I asked him if I could test the car down a farm track and across a field. It had been raining hard during the day and there were deep puddles everywhere. The Jeep four wheel drive system is state-of-the-art and very simple. It looked a bit too simple at first and I have to say that I set off down the muddy track with some trepidation. However, I soon realized that this car was more than a match as it stuck to the job in hand, coping admirably with the huge ruts and mud-filled potholes. On the open field, with soft mud, the car again dealt with the terrain without fuss. In some ways, it actually felt too easy, almost as if this car was designed to deal with the very toughest terrain doubt deal with nothing tougher than the odd kerb outside school. Dropping the car back to Simon at Varsity, I was pleased that he greeted me with, “The car always looks better with mud on it”, because it was absolutely plastered! Clothed in mud, you also feel more comfortable driving on the road with other cars as they can quite clearly see that you really DO need
Being a turbo diesel, my test car wasn't the quietest
a car that can handle tough conditions.
on the road, but I was impressed at the pulling power throughout the rev range. If you like your speed, however, don't drive it after trying the potent 5.7 Hemi V8 (7.1s and 130mph) which blasts past
The Overland version I tested had everything as
local off road and it’s just not that easy. One of our
although I was surprised to find how little space there
mere 9 seconds on the way to 124mph, it’s certainly quick enough for me. It’s also very economical, as far
road. But that’s a problem. Try and find somewhere
possible. Odd then, that most of these cars will no I would not quibble about the space, either for
Still, the squareness of the cabin gives it a roomy feel, Unlike many cars of this size, it handles really well,
Being a 4x4, you just have to see how it performs off
In summary: a very good car, tough and civilized that will do most things you ask of it, great value and good-looking too. Contact details on page 62
B4 PR B4 are indebted to Clark and Brooke Wiseman for bringing the faces behind the interviews to life. Without exception, our customers have been bowled over by this refreshing and energetic young couples’ zest for what they do. They bring new meaning to the phrase “artistic passion”. A photo-shoot with Clark leaves you feeling invigorated and ready to face the world – more therapeutic than boring “click, click, click”. For such a forward-thinking operation, old-fashioned values form the foundation of studio8’s ethos, as Clark explains: “Service and quality are our keywords. Not only do we offer extremely fast turnaround times, but we provide an excellent end product. Today’s technology is a huge factor in helping us deliver, but there is still a huge amount of our time which goes
Bespoke Photographic Art Solutions studio8 also have access to a large library of archived photography, which appeals to corporate or private customers re-furbishing or refreshing dull or wasted wall space. But make no mistake, this is not a simple stock library, this is a collection of artistic work captured by some of the world’s greatest photographers. Using these images, customers can request printed reproduction on a variety of different materials, including canvas, acrylics and wallpaper, and ever-willing, Clark stresses: “If we don’t have your chosen image, we can source it for you.” So why not inject some of studio8’s energy into your workplace or home? Visit their web sites at w w w. s t u d i o - 8 . c o . u k , w w w. s t r a t o . c o . u k a n d
STUDIO8 – MORE THAN JUST A PICTURE
into making sure that the product fits our customer’s vision. “Our high specification equipment is vital. Versatility is also a fundamental part of studio8’s character and adaptability to almost any project is one of our key strengths. We will consider any brief, focusing on achieving results that quite simply bring your ideas to life – and we won’t let your budget spiral out of control.” In addition to the custom-built studio in Kidlington, Oxford, studio8 have a fully poratble studio, thus facilitating the capture of images on location, which is often more suitable to the project in hand. studio8 includes Grosvenor Casinos, Vodafone and Hard Rock Café amongst its impressive portfolio of clients.
Lively, pulsating, exciting bubbly and energetic. These are five words which some up the studio 8 experience, a young and vibrant company which is simply bursting with enthusiasm. Richard Rosser finds out how talent, imagination and a camera can produce unique and stunning results.
soon to be launched, www.iprints.co.uk which will enable you to purchase affordable art on-line, shipped directly to your door. studio8 Commercial Photography Services: • Corporate Photography (location or studio) • Product and Pack Shots • Events and Parties • Wedding and Potrait Photography • PR and Advertising Photography • Insurance Photography • Printing and Framing studio8 is a member of the "British Professional Photographers Association" and "The Guild of Photographers". Images are copyright of their respective owners - call Ox 842525. Contact details on page 62
B4’s Jo hn Ke nn ed
nto globalisatio ks i n a nd
business w t on or
ld w i
WHAT ON EARTH IS “ Economic "globalisation" is a historical process: the result of human innovation and technological progress. It refers to the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through trade and financial flows. The term sometimes also refers to the movement of people (labour) and knowledge (technology) across international borders (International Monetary Fund definition 2000). The term "globalisation" has acquired considerable emotive force. Some view it as a process that is beneficial — a key to future world economic development — and also inevitable and irreversible. Others regard it with hostility, believing that it increases inequality within and between nations, threatens employment and living standards and thwarts social progress. A recent article in the Financial Times demonstrated that public perception of globalisation varies from country to country. People see economic growth but also the potential redistribution of jobs to cheaper labour regions, which may lead to greater inequality in the more developed countries.
Globalisation is, however, not just a recent phenomenon. Some analysts have argued that the world economy was just as globalised 100 years ago as it is today. But today commerce and financial services are far more developed and deeply integrated than they were at that time. The most striking aspect of this has been the integration of financial markets made possible by modern communication. We tend to hear about globalisation through the media on a number of levels – (World Trade talks, banking call centres in India, the manufacture of our high street goods in “lower cost” countries); all are relevant aspects of the process of globalisation. The process of globalisation itself creates opportunities for all businesses of any scale; to either penetrate new markets or source new or different suppliers. One story at the end of last year in the Guardian demonstrated a key effect of globalisation. In “How the world's biggest ship is delivering our Christmas - all the way from China” the report commented that “Christmas is coming not in sacks or
B4 ISSUE sleighs this year but on board the biggest ship afloat, on its maiden voyage from China. To the relief of children, parents and shopkeepers everywhere - but to the despair of European manufacturers – mountains of crackers, toys and games as well as decorations, calendars, wrapping paper, food and every imaginable gift are currently steaming past Spain and should reach Felixstowe on board the vast Emma Maersk 3.” Major manufacturers sourcing cheaper ways to produce their products have relocated their production facilities to countries with cheaper costs – to the detriment of production in countries with a more expensive cost base. Globalisation then, offers extensive opportunities for truly worldwide development, but it is not progressing evenly. Some countries are becoming integrated into the global economy more quickly than others. Countries that have been able to integrate are seeing faster growth and reduced poverty. Outward-oriented policies have brought dynamism and greater prosperity to much of East Asia, transforming it from 40 years ago when it was one of the poorest areas of the world. As living standards rise, it becomes possible to make progress on democratic and economic issues such as the environment and work standards. By contrast, in the 1970s and 1980s when many countries in Latin America and Africa pursued inward-oriented policies, their economies stagnated or declined, poverty increased and high inflation became the norm. In many cases, especially Africa, adverse external developments made the problems worse. As these regions have changed their policies, their incomes have begun to rise. An important transformation is underway. Encouraging this trend, not reversing it, is seen by the pro-globalisation lobby as the best course for promoting growth, development and poverty reduction.
poverty? And are countries that integrate with the global economy inevitably vulnerable to instability? These are some of the questions covered in the following sections. Globalisation also has a wider impact on society, culture and the environment. Markets promote efficiency through competition and the division of labour — the specialisation that allows people and economies to focus on what they do best. Global markets offer greater opportunity for people to tap into more and larger markets around the world. It means that they can have access to more capital flows, technology, cheaper imports, and larger export markets. But markets do not necessarily ensure that the benefits of increased efficiency are shared by all. Countries must be prepared to embrace the policies needed and, in the case of the poorest countries, may need the support of the international community as they do so. Four key aspects of globalisation: Trade: Developing countries as a whole have increased their share of world trade – from 19 percent in 1971 to 29 per cent in 1999. There are great variations among the major regions. For instance, the newly industrialised economies (NIEs) of Asia have done well, while Africa as a whole has fared poorly. The composition of what countries export is also important. The strongest rise by far has been in the export of manufactured goods. The share of primary commodities in world exports such as food and raw materials – often produced by the poorest countries – has declined. Capital movements: Increased private capital has flowed to developing countries during much of the 1990s. Direct foreign investment has become increasingly important. Movement of people: Workers move from one
physical capital stock, but also technical innovation. More generally, knowledge about production methods, management techniques, export markets and economic policies is available at very low cost, and it represents a highly valuable resource for the developing countries. In a recent article in Forbes magazine “Give Globalisation a Hand”, Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico) argues that despite the challenges, globalisation is good for the world. “Here is a fact worth reiterating: despite the severe shocks and imbalances that have hit it off and on during the early years of this century, the world economy continues to grow, with low inflation. Of course, performance varies across countries and continents, but there are two generalisations you can make: The already rich countries keep enjoying expanding economies, and in the rest of the world millions of people overcome poverty every year, thanks to economic growth. Is there a force underlying this benign evolution that transcends national borders? Yes. That force is international economic integration, or globalisation, if you wish. The market economy's capacity to fulfil human needs is being enhanced to an unprecedented extent by international trade and investment.” A Great Source of Strength Zedillo argues that the advantages of globalisation are providing the world with “not only greater economic opportunities but also a remarkable resilience to events that in the past would have proven highly disruptive. If you consider recent regional wars, terrorism, the skyrocketing prices of oil and other commodities, and the laxity in the fiscal and monetary policies of some of the major economies, you may conclude that it's only through the globalisation of the market economy that we've been able to sail through such stormy waters”
“GLOBALISATION”? The crises in the emerging markets in the 1990s have made it quite evident that the opportunities of globalisation do not come without risks — risks arising from volatile capital movements and the risks of social, economic, and environmental degradation created by poverty. This is not a reason to reverse direction, but for all concerned — in developing countries, in the advanced countries, and of course investors — to embrace policy changes to build strong economies and a stronger world financial system that will produce more rapid growth and ensure that poverty is reduced. How can the developing countries, especially the poorest, be helped to catch up? Does globalisation exacerbate inequality or can it help to reduce
country to another partly to find better employment opportunities. The numbers involved are still quite small, but in the period 1965-90, the proportion of labour forces round the world that was “foreign” born increased by about 50%. Most migration occurs between developing countries. But the flow of migrants to advanced economies is likely to provide a means through which global wages converge. There is also the potential for skills to be transferred back to the developing countries and for wages in those countries to rise. Spread of knowledge (and technology): Information exchange is an integral, often overlooked, aspect of globalisation. For instance, direct foreign investment brings not only an expansion of the
Globalisation has been an incredible force for good in the world. But is this force inexhaustible? Unfortunately, no. Modern globalisation has so far proved stronger than the forces and events arrayed against it, but there is no guarantee this will always be the case. Just as with any other economic or social phenomenon, globalisation faces risks that could challenge its growth or, worse, cause its reversal. This has happened before, most dramatically in 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, the beginning of the end of an extraordinary expansion in international trade, investment and migration that had taken place during most of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
B4 INTERVIEW If ever there was a man in the zone, it is Robert Cook.
Edinburgh, when we bought the old seamen’s
Effervescent with pride, his achievements are
mission with 28 bedrooms. Three weeks later, we
admirable and his vision is unique. Who else would
opened Malmaison in Glasgow.
even consider converting an old prison / castle into a
At what stage were you aware of each other ? “After about 6 months, when both brands were getting lots of press and
critical acclaim. It made
hotel? With the birth of Malmaison Oxford, it would
“Funnily enough, 4 weeks after that and 500 miles
sense that when I came back to Malmaison and
appear that no building is safe, and with the advent of
south, Robin Hudson started Hotel du Vin with
sorted out the brand, the best way to expand the
space travel, Richard Branson should look no further
exactly the same philosophy – highly design-led with
brand, which I saw as the only option, was to buy our
than Robert Cook to build his first hotel. Prior to
excellent food and beverages. But it was a different
biggest competitor, Hotel du Vin.”
addressing a Deloitte conference at The Dorchester,
product, being more of a boutique style hotel. Both
Cook spoke to me about the history of the group, why
brands were significantly different from the ‘cookie
it is working so well and the plans for the future.
cutter, boring blancmange’ approach that was prevalent in the market.
Despite the plethora of information promoting
So how did it unfold for you with Malmaison? “I started as the opening General Manager of the first Malmaison in England in Newcastle. I then became
your other sites within Mal Oxford, not
“Both brands had a philosophy of a lot more for less
Operations Director and subsequently the company
everyone appreciates the size of the group and
– a great value proposition to the customer. It was
was sold to Wyndham Hospitality of America back in
that you have another brand. A potted history
almost destiny that one day these two brands should
1999. I left the business and went with the founder
if you please…
of Malmaison, Ken McCulloch, to form a new company called The Columbus Group. I was
“Malmaison started in 1994 with Malmaison
Managing Director of The Columbus Group and
COOKED TO PERFECTION Richard Rosser visits Malmaison Chief Executive, Robert Cook, at the hotel’s head office in west London to find out more about the story behind Oxford’s newest and arguably best hotel, how the impressive Malmaison brand has developed with its co-brand, Hotel du Vin, and Cook’s plans for expansion.
Dakota Hotels with our biggest celebrity investor
“We always wanted to keep it separate and we will
different and had such strong sites that we could
being Scottish racing driver, David Coulthard. After
never change Hotel du Vin, there is absolutely no
expand both brands independently. We raised £105
four years, during which time I opened The Columbus
need. We then had a healthy Malmaison brand in the
million and brought in Royal Bank of Scotland as an
in Monte Carlo and developed the first Dakota,
North (including Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds,
equity partner, and we are now in the process of
Malmaison’s owner, Michael Bibbring of Marylebone
Newcastle and Glasgow) and effectively a southern
adding a further 10 hotels to the business, which
Warwick Balfour Group Plc (Wyndham sold to MWB),
Hotel du Vin brand (ncluding Tunbridge Wells,
range from a Mal in Reading and in Aberdeen to a
invited me to come back and be Chief Executive of
Winchester, Bristol and Brighton). It made a lot of
Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, York, Cheltenham,
Malmaison. For eighteen months, MWB had given
sense to buy Hotel du Vin and put them together.”
Edinburgh and Glasgow. So we are now taking Hotel
management of Malmaison to SAS Radisson, which I think was a disaster. “Later in 2004, we purchased Hotel du Vin and then
du Vin to the North of the country where it had never The marketing for both Mal and Hotel du Vin
been before. We are almost competing on our own
seems to be totally separate. Is this part of the
doorstep, but there is a big enough market in
strategy to help develop the two brands?
Newcastle and Edinburgh to sustain a new hotel.
began to sort out the ‘housekeeping’, address Hotel
There are a lot of hotels in the areas that Hotel du Vin
du Vin’s whole ‘tone of voice’, its market expression.
“It is. The only joint campaign we have ever run for
is moving to where the product is poor. The room
We totally revitalised the product and the service
both brands was the ‘2gether’ campaign. This was
inventory is quite distressed.
delivery. There is no doubt that 2004 was a significant
because the way the Mal ‘fan base’ and the HDV ‘fan
year for myself, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
base’ wanted to be communicated to, and had
“The best thing about buying Hotel du Vin personally
always been communicated to historically, was
was that I had seen how someone had interpreted
“By purchasing Hotel du Vin, we were able to expand
diffrent. We used web, e-media, and viral e-mails for
Malmaison should be and ruined it, or were ruining it,
our joint brand quickly and effectively. Hotel du Vin
Mal, but HDV customers preferred direct mailing, the
so in that respect it was a case of what not to do with
was a fit with Malmaison as it had a totally different
wine weekends and the Ecole du Vin, the wine school
Hotel du Vin. We were extremely respectful of Hotel
geographical profile, being southern weighted as
in Birmingham. The demographics of the two fan
du Vin when we purchased it, and we are to this day
opposed to Mal’s northern bias.”
bases were also different – Hotel du Vin’s being
and will continue to be so. The bottom line is that we
about 10 years older than Mal’s – and we had to
haven’t gone out to deliberately change the world,
and that has been the success of bringing the two
Did it ever occur to you to merge Hotel du Vin into Malmaison and just re-brand the sites to increase the presence of Malmaison ?
brands together.“ “We realised that the two brands were so totally
B4 Fact: Existing Sites Malmaison Belfast Birmingham Edinburgh Glasgow Leeds London Manchester Newcastle Oxford
Hotel du Vin Birmingham Brighton Bristol Glasgow Harrogate Henley-on-Thames Tunbridge Wells Winchester
B4 Fact: New Openings Malmaison Aberdeen - 2008 Liverpool - January 2007 Reading - July 2007 Hotel du Vin Cambridge - April 2007 Cheltenham - July 2007 Edinburgh - 2008 Newcastle - 2008 York - October 2007
You talk about Mal Oxford as your flagship. Has
and make people aware of the Hotel du Vin name. So
the success of Oxford helped convince you that
we have re-branded the hotel, invested in it and
anything is possible ? “With the success of the Oxford prison, the
reopened it as Hotel du Vin, 1 Devonshire Gardens.
Is there a lot of staff cross-over between the
That has been a great platform for us to launch the
two brands ?
Hotel du Vin brand in the north of the country.” “Quite a lot, more now than ever before. With the
association of Mal and Hotel du Vin really cemented the conception that we were the brands that dared to
There must be benefits of running two brands,
new opening in Liverpool, in January 2007, the
be different. How many people will convert old prison
despite on the face of it running them as
management are a 50/50 mix of Hotel du Vin and
cells into hotel bedrooms ? It almost throws down the
Mal and there are a lot more Mal people working at Hotel du Vin and vice-versa. So that’s good and that’s
gauntlet to attract “tricky” buildings to be converted into hotels. The other knock-on effect of Oxford is that
“The main advantages of bringing two brands
exciting and that sees opportunity, and I think Mike
developers look upon Malmaison as bringing a lot of
together are better procurement and cross-fertilisation
Warren was the first to ‘jump the fence’ by leaving
kudos to their site. Mal is almost seen as a worthwhile
of the databases. When you are growing a business
Hotel du Vin Birmingham to join Mal Oxford. Mike led
loss leader for them and is viewed as an anchor for
like mine, it necessitates a high attention to detail and
the way, a trail blazer if you like, from Hotel du Vin to
the site. Obviously Mal are benefiting from
is very personable. You know the characters in it, a
Mal. That was a great help for me, as he was General
developers approaching us to become involved,
very ‘mama and papa type’ company. However, the
Manager and he was spreading the gospel that the
which inevitably makes the negotiation process a lot
biggest advantage of buying a new company was that
two brands were, in many ways, very similar. So now
we ‘bought’ 250 new employees, almost disciples to
we have droves of people working between both
the brand of Hotel du Vin, like we had disciples to the
brands, and it has been good for Mike because he
brand of Malmaison.
has now become Regional Director for Hotel du Vin.”
quayside. It was really our only “unusual” project. After
“The overriding plus about that is that when you put
I presume it is a great way of freshening your
the brand had been quiet for a few years, Oxford
two brands together, young people with ambition
staff up if they get stale, simply by switching
reignited the passion for taking sleepy old buildings
enable you to grow quicker. And we probably spend,
and making something of them.
time-wise, 30% of our time working on the
“Newcastle was, before Oxford, the only real conversion, being an existing building on the
development of our people and people development
“Of course – there are some people who see no
“That strategy has linked well with buying some
issues, what I call the “people jigsaw”. Because that is
difference, some who work in one and want to go
well-known hotels which had gone off the map. For
the biggest issue this industry has, never mind Mal
back – it’s ‘horses for courses’. But as management,
example, when Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow
and Hotel du Vin; a massive lack of talent. And we are
we can see that some of the decisions made have
(which was once known as THE hotel in the UK, if not
very lucky as we can ‘grow our own’ – we are of a size
been wrong, and people admit that and want to go
Europe, in the late 80s and early 90s) came on the
where we can grow organically now, and at the same
back and that’s equally important to us.
market, it was a great way for us to promote and sell
time we will grow the people in our business at the
B4 INTERVIEW Would you consider mainland Europe?
“The good thing is that we now have 10 hotels being
“Of course – that is the key point of difference with
built, 5 new hotels next year and 5 the year after, and
Hotel du Vin and Mal hotels. Although design is
I can put my hand on my heart and say that I know
important and so are great buildings, having great staff
“Having spent 4 years in Monaco and worked with the
the management of those 10 hotels next year are
who are willing to offer great hospitality is where we
French unions and the Italian unions, I have been,
coming from within the existing business. Not many
have to be at. The staff we have make the whole
quite frankly, put off. Running hotels is difficult
hotel companies can say that. There will be one or
experience worthwhile, and we know businesses
enough, so to have difficult people to deal with en
two that we don’t promote from within, but it’s
continue to use us because their employees enjoy the
masse has left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s a
important to get fresh ideas and fresh eyes. It’s a
whole experience, which can only be good for their
personal thing, but I think Malmaison would be a
business. It is very disappointing when you go to a
huge success in America. I think you could drop two
hotel which is meant to be fantastic but you leave
or three Malmaisons into New York and seriously give
disappointed because someone has taken your eyes
W Hotels a run for their money. I honestly think we
out financially and you had an “OK” experience.
could do that and why not “bring it on”.
B4 Fact: Facts about Robert B Cook, born 30th January, 1965
3. He has spent the last 20 years developing an impressive career in hotel management with high profile companies such as Columbus Hotels Group, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts and Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel.
1. Robert was born and bred in the hotel industry and followed in his father’s footsteps – the first 18 years of his life were spent in room 114 at the Swallow Hotel in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
4. Robert lives between London and Northumberland with his wife, Deborah.
2. He graduated from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and embarked on a three year training programme with Holiday Inns in London.
5. He enjoys outdoor pursuits such as golf, skiing and fell running.
How do you see the fit of Mal and Hotel du Vin
“The success of Hotel du Vin and Mal is that we don’t
in the Hotel industry generally? I spoke with a
rip you off, and you leave feeling you have had value
hotelier recently who said that he thought the
for money, stayed in luxury and above all, you have
days of the mass produced, box hotels, where
been treated correctly. Yes, you can go to a Le Manoir
every room is the same, were numbered. Do
and get a better meal, no question, but you can’t do
you agree that the more specialist and
that every day of the week and that’s who we are
interesting hotels will come to the fore?
targeting, the every day user.”
“Definitely. I think people’s lives are changing. People
So what is the long, long term view?
are becoming a lot more discerning. People have a lot more taste. I think that at home they have become a
“Our current plan takes us to 2009. I am already
lot more aspirational in terms of design. Every city has
looking for new properties for both Hotel du Vin and
an Ikea or a Habitat – our homes are becoming a lot
Mal. Hotel du Vin certainly has “legs” for further
more design-led. People are looking for and expecting
expansion in the UK – you could add another 10
a lot more, so that their time away from home, which
without thinking too hard in areas such as Durham,
is almost always begrudged, must be at least half
Exeter, Chichester, Bath, Worcester, Gloucester, Poole
enjoyable. There is therefore a commensurate rise in
– places like that lend themselves very easily to Hotel
the expectations of hotels.
du Vins. Mal is a little bit harder, as you can only really go to the big cities and we are in them all.
“Quite frankly, the Holiday Inns and Hiltons of this
However, I wouldn’t say no to another Mal in London,
world are boxes and people don’t want to live in a
diametrically opposite to where we are in Clerkenwell,
box; they want something different, and that is a
for example somewhere in the West End would be
challenge for us to keep pushing elements of Mal’s
fantastic. I’d also like to see Malmaison go to Dublin,
design and Hotel du Vin’s design forward. That is the
so there is plenty within the not too distant shores of
exciting part of this business as you have to be
the UK for us to go to.”
continually striving to stay ahead of the game. Unless someone at Hilton or Holiday Inn puts their hand in
What is your long term personal ambition?
We are not frightened of a challenge now. Mal and HDV have got a real strut about them now. We are very confident, we’re not arrogant – we’re very confident that we can do more. We certainly have a very strong management team here to do that right the way through, wherever that may take us.” B4 would like to thank Robert Cook for his time and also wish Mike Warren every success in his new role as Regional Director of Hotel du Vin.
their pocket and completely changes their business, then they are going to have real problems.”
“I would love to take Mal into the States, but one step at a time, as we have got to focus on the job in hand
If you are putting your key staff in a Mal
and I think certainly we will get it up to 30 hotels in
overnight, it must increase productivity.
the UK before we start thinking about further afield.”
Contact details on page 62
LIVING THE DREAM “We all watch the property programmes on TV and think we can do it but things are far more complicated in real-life,” Kevin Handy from Johnsons Buildbase, Oxford’s best known builders merchant, explains. As the appetite for self-building continues to grow, with 20,000 homes built in 2005, Richard Rosser discovers that Buildbase provides valuable support for those attempting to build their dream home. Kevin began his career working for a Scottish timber merchants but discovered Buildbase online in August 2004 and applied for a job. After a successful interview process, he became Sales Development Manager: “They just knew I was right for the job,” Kevin says smiling. He now lives in Thame with his family and, within his role, supports those wanting to self-build. “I deal with the initial set-up here but we provide customers with a representative closer to them if the site is outside Oxfordshire,” Kevin explains, “I act as the main point of contact and visit the site and establish a relationship with the builder. We will take a client’s initial drawings and essentially take the place of a quantity surveyor by advising what we can provide to match the requirements of the particular development. The plans are copied and sent to the various suppliers we use and, step by step, we put the overall costing of
the development together for the customer. If there is a particular requirement for a product which we don’t stock or have never had any demand for, we will do our very best to source the product for our client. “Most of our trading accounts benefit from their relationship with Builbase, by utilising my skills to facilitate sourcing the right materials quickly and efficiently. A lot of the self-builders will research the project in terms of materials a lot more than developers and on the whole it is the developers as opposed to the self-builds who eally rely on us as an extra man in their team. We have built up an excellent trust with a large number of builders and they can rely on Buildbase to deliver.”
B4 PROPERTY Why do they come to you? I cannot help asking - surely the concept of self-building means venturing out on your own? Kevin refers back to his opening comment, “It is different on TV,” he insists. “Self builders look for help and we can help people anywhere in the country. Buildbase offers face-to-face advice. We have specialists in each department for each part of the build: timber, brick, plumbing specialists etc…. We are a one stop shop. We offer alternatives to materials which people are told they have to use. Buildbase will go that extra mile service-wise,” Kevin proudly states.
There are many details that need to be taken into account before embarking on your home. In a recent press release, The Council for National Land Information service revealed that 50% of British homes have been built on previous or present coal mining areas. There is a risk of residue on this land, which can cost £1,000’s to rectify. Therefore, it is wise to research your site thoroughly before buying. Recent changes to government regulations should also be consulted. The Planning Gain Supplement, a current government proposal, could result in lengthier planning applications and an end to tax-free building.
With only around 5% of self-builders being
Design plays a part in every aspect of the building
B4 Comment: Over the next four editions, B4, in partnership with Buildbase, will examine the various steps to building your dream home. These will be as follows: Issue 4 April: Preparation – getting your professional team right and sourcing your land The “heavy” side - the structural side of the build from foundations to building framework
Issue 5 July: The “light” side – kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and electrics Issue 6 October: Landscaping Issue 7 January 2008: Soft furnishings – interiors and electronic goods such as home cinemas
extensively involved in the actual building process of their houses, Kevin appears to be right about their desire for help and there is certainly a market for this support. House prices are set to rise a further 8% this year, which means more and more people are looking for a cheaper option. Approximately 12% of all houses built in the UK are now self-built. Self-building saves you an average build cost of 30% on the market value with the average built cost coming in at £215,010. I ask Kevin how many self-build accounts he has. “Around 200,” Kevin replies, “they range from extensions to full scale developments.” As Buildbase is a large, national company, they help self-builders all over the country, “but we operate very much at a local level in Oxford,” Kevin adds. “This allows us to be very flexible compared to other large, local merchants.”
process: from your floor plan to your furnishing and one of the major advantages of self-building is the ability to design your home to suit your needs and personality. There are lots of resources to investigate during this process from Magazines to Exhibitions. Problems can arise, however, if an individual later wishes to sell the property, as buyers may not share their tastes or requirements. It is important, therefore, to assess your long-term intentions before customising your home. While builders will merely work to comply with building regulations, self-builders need to consider the running costs of their home within the design process, as they will be the ones forking out for bills. Sparing a thought for ‘green’ alternatives in your design is also advisable in a world becoming increasingly concerned with environmental issues.
If there are any aspects of the process you would like to find our more about, please send your queries to us and we will put them to Buildbase for you. We will be publishing selected queries in future editions of B4. Otherwise, if you would like to find out more about any area of building your dream home and would like to contact Buildbase direct, please call: Kevin Handy Tel: 07775 886756 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org For all new build and self-build project enquiries Mike Augar Tel: 01865 787718 E-mail: email@example.com For structural and landscaping enquiries Craig Tarrant Tel: 01865 787719 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org For all bathroom, kitchen and plumbing and heating enquiries
B4 INTERVIEW Has the drop to the Conference been difficult for you to adjust to? Bob Jeinkins, Cumnor “It has not been as difficult as I thought it might be and that is because of our early success. This makes life a lot easier. There have been moments where I have thought, when standing on the touchline at some away grounds, “What am I doing here?” Without wanting to sound arrogant, I’ve been fortunate enough to manage in some great stadiums and in front of full houses. I would be lying if I didn’t say it was sometimes hard to reconcile then with now. But, the relationship I have with Oxford and the Club has helped paper over the cracks. Being with Oxford has certainly made the adjustment easier. “To be fair I thought I would never manage again – I thought I had missed the boat. I had a few other opportunities but the Oxford move was always in the back of my mind.
What is your greatest achievement as a manager and why? Rob Springfield, Witney
leagues – Premier 1 and Premier 2. There will always be other clubs, but whether or not they have the chance to rise to Premier League status, I don’t know and to be honest, very much doubt it. “With the recent announcement of even more money being injected into the Premier League, the polarisation will continue. The players can’t get more money – or at least they shouldn’t get more money – so the money should be spread around. But if your company produces a good product, why should you share your profits with a different company down the road who doesn’t do as good a job as you? For that reason, I can’t see the money being spread around, especially as the owners of the Premiership are not in it to be charitable and fair and even – they’re in it to make money.” Do you think David Beckham’s move to the USA was fuelled by greed or a genuine desire to play football, as he claims? Paul Albery, Sutton Coldfield “Certainly not greed for money. Greed of fame,
whole, millionaires. You might hit problems with the overseas players in terms of getting them back home when they take mid-season breaks, but the majority of players I have dealt with have been good, honest professionals. As long as they are treated like adults and life is made as comfortable – more so for the overseas players – as possible off the field, you won’t get too many causes for concern on it. “You undoubtedly have to have a certain character to be able to handle certain players, and that comes with experience. Particularly at Derby, I had people to help me to look after the players off the field, to create the right environment for them.” Who is your favourite all-time player, most talented Oxford player and best player who played for you? Lesley Abbott, Abingdon “Albert Quixall played for Sheffield Wednesday, turning pro in 1950. He was sold to Manchester United after the Munich air crash in 1958 for £45,000 and helped them win the FA Cup in 1963. He was an inside forward.
SPOTLIGHT: JIM SMITH B4 are grateful to Oxford United Manager, Jim Smith, for taking the time to field questions submitted by B4 readers. Having managed Oxford United in 1982 for three years, Jim has returned to Oxford with almost cult status. Oxford United supporters are pinning their hopes on Jim for a swift return to the Football League. Richard Rosser put your questions to Jim.
“Taking Oxford to the old First Division after successive championships between 1983 and 1985 must stand out for me. I honestly believe it will never be emulated. Certainly my proudest achievement. “Talking of proud moments, when I led QPR out at Wembley for the 1986 Milk Cup Final, I felt immensely proud that my team had made it – Oxford not QPR. We were in the tunnel for an age before the game and there was more banter between me and the Oxford lads than my current team – I knew them a lot better than my own lads. I couldn’t really lose that day. People say I looked dejected and shell-shocked, but the reality was that my team had won the Cup, with the greatest respect to Maurice Evans and I couldn’t celebrate with them, for obvious reasons. It was a bit like getting married and divorced all in one day!” Would you like to manage a Premiership team now and where do you see football in ten years time? Lucinda Temple, Didcot
perhaps. I can see he is motivated by being on a bigger stage in America. He doesn’t need the money. I think he wants to be a star in real Hollywood proportions. I think he could still do a job at a high level in Europe and it is a real shame that we have lost him at such a young age. He is no doubt influenced by his wife and her ambition and that is a shame – but don’t tell her I told you so !” How impressed have you been with the management of the Club under Nick Merry and Kelvin Thomas? Gary Beckwith, Brize Norton “Very impressed. Both Nick and Kelvin have been very supportive and the off-field team have been vital to the whole Club running so well. We have unfortunately reached stalemate as far as buying the stadium is concerned and that really stifles us. By owning the stadium, we can apply more long-term planning, but at the moment, we are having to tread water to a certain extent.”
“No – it would be too stressful. Maybe if I was ten years younger.
How did you deal with the high paid players when you managed or coached Premiership teams? Ian Whitehouse, Cumnor
“As for your second question, there is a big fear that if we don’t spread the money out, there will be two
“No different to the players I dealt with at Oxford. You don’t get the problems because they are, on the
“John Aldridge and Trevor Hebberd at Oxford United. Igor Stimac and Steffano Eranio at Derby County.” You have won the hearts of so many Oxford United fans over the years. What exactly does Oxford mean to you as a place and a club? Danny Walton, Bicester “The main thing is that Oxford United re-ignited my career in 1982 and gave me three years I never thought I would have and will never forget. I live in Woodstock, my daughter Fiona married Andy, an Oxford lad, and both of my other daugters, Alison and Suzanne were married in Woodstock. My wife, Yvonne, and I regard ourselves as locals - Woodstock is our home. “We have the same buzz at the Club we had back then in 1982 and its great to be a part of something which is more of a work in progress and I am very happy to be part of the team trying to re-establish the Club and get it back on its feet.” If you were a gambling man, would you bet on the U’s getting promotion? Chris Hamilton, Chichester “Yes, without a doubt.”
BIO James Michael Smith Born: Sheffield, 17th October, 1940 Career summary: Full-Time Playing Career Position: Wing-half League Appearances: 247 League Goals: 8 Managerial Career: 1959-1961 Sheffield United (player) 1961-1965 Aldershot (player) 1965-1968 Halifax Town (player) 1968-1969 Lincoln City (player) 1969-1972 Boston United (player-manager) 1972-75 Colchester Utd (player-manager) 1975-1978 Blackburn Rovers (manager) 1978-1982 Birmingham City (manager) 1982-1985 Oxford United (manager) 1985-1988 QPR (manager) 1988-1991 Newcastle United (manager) 1991-1995 Portsmouth (manager) 1995-2001 Derby County (manager) 2002 Coventry City (assistant manager) 2002-04 Portsmouth (assistant manager) 2004-2005 Southampton (assistant manager) 2006- Oxford United (manager) Promotion: 1973-74 Colchester United from Div 4 to Div 3 1979-80 Birmingham City from Div 2 to Div 1 1983-84 Oxford United from Div 3 to Div 2 1984-85 Oxford United from Div 2 to Div 1 1995-96 Derby County from Div 1 to Prem 2002-03 Portsmouth from Div 1 to Prem Honours: Div 3 Championship 1983-84 with Oxford Utd Div 2 Championship 1984-85 with Oxford Utd Milk Cup Winner and Loser, 1985-86 with Oxford Utd and Queen’s Park Rangers Best ever team of players managed: Keeper: David Seaman QPR £200,000 from Birmingham Full Backs: David Langan (Birmingham and Oxford - £300,000 from Derby; free from Birmingham). Mark Dennis (Birmingham and QPR - £20,000 from Southampton). Central Defenders: Colin Todd (Birmingham and Oxford - £300,000 from Everton; free from Nottingham Forest). Paul Parker (QPR - £200,000 from Fulham). Alberto Tarantini (Birmingham £250,000 from Boca Juniors). Midfield: Trevor Hebberd (Oxford – player exchange from Southampton). Archie Gemmill (Birmingham and QPR - £150,000 from Nottingham Forest). Forwards: Trevor Francis (Birmingham and QPR - £25,000 from Rangers). John Aldridge (Oxford £70,000 from Newport County). David Wagstaffe (Blackburn - £3,000 from Wolves) Total Cost – £1,518,000
There are a number of ways a commercial
freeing the owner (borrower) from any dependency
the appropriate corporation tax. Any profits
mortgage can be arranged; most lenders have
upon one tenant for the rental income needed to
subsequently realised on the sale of the property
set criteria, but with some flexibility on rates,
meet the loan commitment.
would again count as income subject to tax liability.*
deposit contributions, terms and costs. For COO applications for a first time purchase,
If it is decided to borrow in joint or several names,
The lending market is competitive. Locally, in
lenders often seek a correlation between rent that is
i.e. partnerships, then a full statement of assets and
Oxford, we have seen the emergence of new
currently being paid and the costs of repayment of
liabilities of those individuals is usually called for.
lenders establishing a presence and jostling
the loan. The benefits of purchasing include
Rental income or revenue would be seen as joint or
for position with the historic â€œBig Fourâ€?. It has
avoiding any future rent increases, potentially
apportioned set against the loan commitment
been observed that not all lenders have an
increasing capital through gains in value, and
(repayments plus interest), and would then be
appetite for every proposition. For example,
offsetting interest payments against tax. Conversely,
subject to income tax. In the event of the
one may be keen to develop and increase
cash funds will have to be found for the deposit,
subsequent sale of the property at a profit a tax
their lending book with property development
stamp duty, valuation and other associated costs.
liability would apply.*
finance, whereas others may prefer to lend to
Any loss of valuation will decrease capital.
traditional businesses or for office and
Some lenders insist or recommend that the Borrowing structure
borrowers (or in the case of limited companies, the
The borrowing can be arranged in the name of a
directors of the company) are insured for the
corporate vehicle or in individual names. Depending
amount and term of the loan. In the event of
Often commercial property purchases fall into two
upon the choice, there are several factors to take
borrowing on a joint and several basis, a property
distinct functions: Commercial Investment (CI),
into account. With limited company status, the
share ownership agreement should be drawn up. **
where the property will be let out to one or more
lender will want to see two to three years of
third parties, or Commercial Owner Occupier
audited accounts and will take into consideration
Loan to Value Rates
(COO), where the purchaser will use the property
any other loan or long term financial commitments.
The usual loan to value rate (LTV) for property
for their own business use, or a mix of both.
Cash flow forecasts and capital expenditure budgets
transactions is 70% to 75%; however, where
will also be required.
purchasers are seeking to acquire existing rented
premises, up to 80% LTV is possible. Before
In CI cases, the lender will seek to establish details
of the proposed tenancy terms and the financial
The company would own the property and this
agreeing a higher LTV figure (and consequently
strength of the tenant. The term of the loan is
would be shown in the balance sheet along with the
lower deposit), lenders will consider a wide range of
sometimes linked to the term of the tenancy
loan set against it. If owned, but rented out, rental
income would show as revenue and any profit after
management experience, revenue streams, purpose
sometimes acceptable. These have the advantage of
offsetting the interest element would be subject to
COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE CONSIDERATIONS A commercial mortgage is one of the most efficient ways to finance the purchase of buildings and land for business purposes, as it is the most affordable and straightforward means to acquire the asset in question. Commercial mortgages are specialised due to the fact that the lender has a legal charge over the property until the loan has been repaid in full. Rob Evans, Business Development Director at Focus Independent Financial Advisers, outlines the key points to consider when planning to take on a commercial mortgage.
COO cases can sometimes attract a higher LTV, as
flexible in allowing cash capital sums to reduce the
outside rental income factors don’t apply and loan
loan, thereby reducing the interest and term.
provide bespoke advice in this area. Strategic Approach
repayment costs are less than the previous or existing Costs
Sufficient time should be given to the application
Commercial lending incurs “one-off costs”. There is a
process. This can be undertaken face to face or in
Interest rates can vary, from an average of 1.5%
lending charge or arrangement fee charged by the
written form. Agreement in principle can also be
above base rate (base rate 5.25% at time of going to
lender, usually 1% to 1.5% of the amount borrowed.
achieved if the basis of the way forward has already
press) for usual property transactions, to 2.5% above
Valuation costs have to be borne by the borrower and
been chosen but a property not yet selected or found.
base rate. Much depends upon the total package that
are frequently in the region of £750 to £1500. Much
This provides peace of mind that most of the
is applied for.
here depends upon the complexity of the property
underwriting is completed other than the valuation
with the lender selecting from those on their panel.
and ancillary factors.
Generally speaking, commercial loans can be
Valuation is all-important as the lender will base their
extended to 25 years, although many borrowers
loan offer on this valuation figure. Legal costs will also
would want to repay the commitment before this
need to be met as well as stamp duty and VAT on the
The above outline sets out some of the broad criteria
time. Consideration also needs to be given to either
total purchase. VAT is recoverable, with some lenders
and options for consideration.
fixing the rate for the period of the loan or for a set
being prepared to advance a VAT loan, which is
period, usually 5 or 10 years. An alternative is to
subsequently repaid at the VAT quarter.
remain with a rate linked to the base rate but enter
We have significant experience in introducing clients to appropriate lenders and assisting not only in the
into an interest rate management agreement (IRMA)
Self-Invested Personal Pensions and Property
proposal strategy but arranging and attending
which can have the effect of limiting the paid interest
meetings with all parties.
rate if the base rate increases. In this way it is
As a result of changes to the SIPP rules in April 2006,
possible to benefit from low base rates whilst placing
it is possible for the proprietors of small businesses
* Professional accountancy/tax advice should be sought.
a ceiling on increases if the base rate rises. An IRMA
and professional practices to utilise their existing
** Legal advice required.
can be agreed for a set period of time, e.g. two years,
commercial premises as investments within a SIPP.
or for the term of the loan. Fixed rates or IRMA will carry a higher cost base but the rate is controlled and
SIPPs can be also be utilised as a purchase vehicle
therefore costs are known, which aids budget
and it is possible to borrow up to 50% of the net fund
value. This may restrict the potential to maximise the property loan to value rate, and due to the
Most lenders are prepared to provide interest-only
complexities in this area, specialist advice is needed.
periods of usually up to two years and are also
This is a subject in its own right and Focus are able to
Contact details on page 62
Problems locating a suitable venue for your conference or event? Lack the time and experience to ensure that your event is set up and runs smoothly? Contact B4 Conference and Events In association with Conventions International, who have over 30 years of experience organising conferences, B4 are able to offer your company first class Conference organisation and control.
If you have a forthcoming conference or event, please call us now to discuss your requirements. Tel: 01865 742211 or e-mail your requirements to: email@example.com CONFERENCE AND EVENT VENUES ARE WELCOME TO CONTACT US TO DISCUSS HOW WE CAN PROMOTE YOUR LOCATION.
CONFERENCE AND EVENTS >>>
Our Conference and Events feature brings to you features on Oxfordshire’s wide range of venues, from The Kassam at Oxford United to The Lodge at Horton-cum-Studley. We also reveal some unusual venues to consider for your next conference or event, such as The Oxford Union, The Oratory School or Magdalen College School. Oxford has an excellent portfolio of venues to choose from and offers much for the delegate in terms of a wonderful city to visit. As Sally Dunsmore, Conference Manager at Conference Oxford, explains: “Our outstanding choice of venues is inspiring and the city of Oxford is accessible to all. It perfectly combines history and tradition with contemporary thinking and state of the art facilities and services.” “Dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a combination of history and contemporary thinking, a centre of learning and culture, Oxford is the perfect conference venue for companies wishing to be leaders in their business field and for associations and groups seeking good facilities at excellent value, whether coming from the UK or abroad.”
Diana De Stefano of Conventions International has been organising conferences for over 35 years, and tells us why businesses should decide to hold their next board meeting, conference or corporate branding event in the beautiful city of Oxford. “Because here is where you can find culture, medieval architecture, gourmet food and assorted executive and boutique hotels that provide every comfort for the corporate client, as much as it does for the staggering number of tourists which visit this mystical city. “We have been organising conferences and events internationally for some time and Oxford always ranks highly as a destination for companies wishing to send their delegates to a city with some cachet. Oxford really does have it all and should be given serious consideration by anyone looking to hold a corporate or private event.” B4 would like to thank Sally and Diana.
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THE QUADRANGLE The Quadrangle: one of Oxford’s best-kept secrets! However, the new management team headed by Anne Marie Brennan intend to change all of that. Located at the Kassam Stadium, the Quadrangle International Conference centre is the largest convention centre in Oxfordshire. As part of the newly-built Kassam Stadium complex, the Quadrangle provides a contemporary and versatile conference facility, whether your conference or event is large or small, formal or relaxed, high-tech or traditional. At the Quadrangle, the team are proud of their status as Oxfordshire’s largest meetings and events venue. Just as Oxford has an established reputation as a centre of academic excellence, the Quadrangle aspires to greater heights when it comes to event organising. Headed by Anne Marie Brennan, the highly experienced and dedicated events team are available to advise and assist with all elements of your event, from the initial enquiry stage through to your exit interview. It is the team’s passion and belief that the customers help the team help them with the service and standards that they deliver. The centre boasts complimentary parking for over 2000 cars, and easy access from the M40 and M4 motorways and other major routes. Located next door, the Express by Holiday Inn is an ideal place for delegates to stay, with the surrounding leisure facilities including cinema, bowling and the Ozone Health and Fitness Club providing evening entertainment. This makes the Quadrangle the perfect location for those travelling from all over the UK. The Quadrangle facilities offer a range of rooms to suit a variety of events. With over 5000 square feet of floor space, the modern Exhibition Hall lends itself to a range of events including exhibitions, cocktail parties, evening entertainment, themed events and (with vehicle access) is ideal for all forms of product launches. The Quadrangle is the largest suite, accommodating 800 delegates for meetings and up to 450 for private dining; it can also break down into three individual, soundproofed suites – all self-sufficient.
Six additional meeting rooms offer facilities for up to 100 people, all in keeping with the fresh and contemporary feel of the Quadrangle Suite. The conference centre has been designed with the customer in mind – all of the suites are easily accessible allowing smooth transitions between presentations, breaks and syndicate rooms. For something different, the executive hospitality boxes are perfect for the smaller boardroom meeting. With fantastic views of Oxford United’s pitch, the boxes can accommodate 2-20 delegates and are available at excellent local rates. Although the conference centre is equivalent to a four-star venue, it is not subject to the normal constraints and, as a result, the team can be completely flexible. The conference centre offers two main packages – the Day Delegate package and the 8 Hours Plus package, (which includes overnight accommodation), but a package can be tailored to suit individual needs. The ethos of the Quadrangle is simple. Whether you are looking to hold a meeting for 5 delegates or a banquet for 450, the dedicated conference sales team are experienced in providing you with the best service. Attention to detail at the Quadrangle is imperative and the team strive to do everything they can to offer the best service in Oxfordshire. For further details please contact the team: Andrew 01865 337680, Emma 01865 337681 or Sarah 01865 337682
Contact details on page 62
A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP VENUE ON OUR DOORSTEP The Oratory School Sports Centre hosted the 2006 World Real Tennis Championship Challenge and as such became one of the leading venues of its type in the world. A live audience watched as international media beamed the match across the world to Australia and America as two of the best players of their era competed for the oldest championship in sport. John Kennedy introduces one of Oxfordshire’s more unusual venues. The Oratory Sports Centre offers a unique opportunity to entertain staff and clients
A unique and challenging game, Real Tennis is played on an indoor court. Three
in a location very accessible from Oxford, Reading and London. Hospitality can be
sides of the court have a sloping roof against which the ball is served, with various
tailored to individual needs. There are clients who use the centre for “corporate”
target areas around the court against which points can be scored. Altogether it is a
days and involve their guests in Real Tennis, Golf, Lawn Tennis and Squash.
combination of tennis, squash and chess where strategy can win over strength. Originally played with the bare hands, the racquet is still slightly hand shaped while
More intimate events can be hosted for anyone wanting to impress a particular
the ball is heavier than a tennis ball and individually made with a cork centre,
client, and what better way than experiencing the unusual and thrilling game of
bound in cloth and covered with hand stitched felt.
Real Tennis, with the opportunity to wine and dine at the same time. The Tennis professionals at The Oratory are among the best in the world, and guests can be
Oxfordshire is fortunate in having the greatest concentration of courts in the
coached and then let loose to play their first game. Mark Eadle, the Real Tennis
country within easy reach: Oxford, Woodcote, Whitchurch, Holyport, Leamington
Professional and Coach is keen to increase membership, particularly the younger
and the most famous of all, Hampton Court built in 1530 by Henry VIII.
members, although as a handicap system is applied, any age can take up the sport. The Sports facilities The Real Thing
The Sports Centre is open daily from 8:30am to 10:30pm, starting with lane
Lawn Tennis was the original European “tennis” game, played on 1000’s of courts
swimming in the 24 metre heated indoor swimming pool. There is also a weight
across Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. As Lawn Tennis grew in popularity,
room with gym, run by Tom Huelin, who will cater to your needs should you wish
with the construction of relatively cheap hard courts, it became known as Tennis
to shed those excess pounds or merely wish to maintain a general level of fitness.
and the original game was renamed Real Tennis.
There are squash courts, one of them glass backed, an indoor sports hall with cricket nets, outdoor grass tennis courts situated in a lovely old Victorian walled
After a period of low interest, the game experienced resurgence in popularity from
garden and a golf course.
the 1960’s onwards, mainly due to the influx of a new breed of tennis professional. Four new courts were built between 1989 to 2000 and others were
Try the Real Thing with your colleagues and clients - contact The Oratory Sports
renovated. The Oratory court was built in l989 and was the first court to be built in
Centre on 01491-681303
England for over one hundred years. The Club Room was opened by one of its keenest supporters and
current member, HRH The Prince Edward, in 2004.
Emma Bellenie, Lettings and Events Manager, explains how Magdalen College School is much more than just a first class independent school; it is also an excellent venue for business seminars, weddings and other celebrations.
BACK TO SCHOOL Magdalen College School is exactly that, a school.
Oxford, but this is another of MCS’s attractions in that
“We like to manage the whole event, from organising
But with schools come classrooms, and with
it can comfortably accommodate 150 cars in the
the marquee, catering and table decorations, not
additional facilities having to accommodate up to
school’s secure on-site car park.
forgetting the DJ or band for the evening’s fun and
700 individuals at a time, making these large
spaces available for hire was a logical progression,
January 2007 sees the commencement of work on a
even though many of the facilities are occupied
new school building which will give the school extra
“When we have an event booked, I like to make sure
during a normal school day.
classrooms and a new dining hall seating up to 200.
that I am on hand from the outset. Even when the
The work will be completed in the summer of 2008.
marquee is erected, I ensure that I am available to
However, even though this is a busy and thriving day
The new facilities will obviously be promoted
oversee the set-up from first thing in the morning. I
school, the facilities are available even during
alongside the existing classrooms and halls.
co-ordinate the flower arrangements, the logistics for the caterers and ensure that the tables are decorated
term-time. With twenty-four classrooms seating 30 and one classroom seating 60, there is certainly the
The school is set in idyllic grounds on the banks of the
structure in place to accommodate pupils and
Cherwell, one mile from Oxford city centre. Emma
according to the bride and groom’s instructions.
external delegates. The school has to be mindful that
says that this is where the school comes into its own:
first and foremost it is a school, and subsequently the
“We have had a number of wedding receptions at the
Magdalen College School is certainly capable of
majority of the “lettings” activity occurs out of term
school. It is a wonderful place to stage the most
providing you with a unique and glorious location and
time. There is also a large facility in the main school
romantic day of your life. When the guests arrive, they
a service which is second to none.
which seats up to 300 with the added option of a
walk over the white “Chinese” bridge to the marquee,
surrounded by the beautifully kept green playing
fields. Those that are more adventurous can arrive by Car parking is, as we know, a major headache in
punt down the River Cherwell.
Contact details on page 62
B4 CONFERENCE As I entered The Lodge, it didn’t strike me as a venue for a conference. The roaring fire, the wooden beams and the welcoming bar were more lazy Sunday afternoon than Tuesday morning with a flip-chart. Sri was on hand to welcome me and take me seemingly from one world to another through the large double doors adjacent to the bar area. It really was quite a transformation. The conference room was modern, superbly presented and perfectly conducive to a working environment. Stepping over the threshold from bar to conference room had been achieved brilliantly, and if ever there was a venue to work, rest and play in, then The Lodge must come very high up the list. The Smart Wall is the focal point of the room, an impressive 72” screen, set in wood panelling, covering the entire wall at one end of the conference room. The screen enables presentations from laptops and obviously allows delegates to view DVD’s, CD’s and TV. The JBL sound system guarantees excellent sound delivery. Sri is currently enabling satellite conferencing, recognising the importance of being able to offer everything that the conference booker could reasonably expect. Wireless network connection is also available, and The Lodge also offer a separate telephone line into the conference room.
Richard Rosser meets Srirangan, or Sri as he likes to be known, General Manager of The Lodge at Horton-cumStudley and finds out that holding your Conference at this wonderful country retreat, just 10 minutes from the centre of Oxford, can provide the perfect, stimulating environment to take your business forward.
BOARD & LODGING
The conference room is light and airy, surrounded by windows, allowing natural light, but also with full air conditioning, controllable lighting and spotlighting and electric curtains to block out the outside world, if that is your goal. There is the capacity to seat 30 around the main table or 60 in total in the room. Theatre style, up to 60 delegates can be accommodated. Don’t feel your conference has to be confined to one room. There is also a break-out room off the main conference room, which can seat up to 12 guests or 20 standing and also a private courtyard, accessed by double doors directly from the main room. A curse of many city based venues is car parking, but at The Lodge there is capacity for up to 50 cars on site. The Lodge also boasts 15 attractively furnished en-suite bedrooms (with planning permission for a further 20 in 2007), doubles and twins, all non-smoking, internet access as standard, with shower and bath. Sri comments: “It is hard to be different when planning a conference venue, but by offering the added extras, such as the de-stressing bar and restaurant and above all our attention to detail as regards the overall personal service we offer, we know that our package is second to none. “The Lodge is a wonderfully quiet location, but just an effortless ten minute drive from Oxford, and offers a conference experience which can be tailored to your requirements, with everything from the room layout to the lunch and evening menus. If you require a full meal or simple sandwiches, we can cater for your every need, all from fresh ingredients. We have a dedicated conference assistant who is always available to the delegates to arrange everything before and during the conference.” Not only are Sri and his staff at The Lodge accommodating, they have also backed up the personal service with a well thought out conference package, which will ensure the business side of the day runs without any unnecessary glitches. For all enquiries, contact Sri on 01865 351235 or 351055. Also in Oxford Black Book II Hotels section.
WORTON PARK MEETING ROOM
Conference Facilities Worton Parkâ€™s Meeting Room is set within pictureque rural Oxfordshire. This venue will whisk your delegates away from the usual fast paced working environment to one of peace, quiet and tranquility. Worton Park provides the perfect atmosphere for productive meetings and seminars. Complimented by a stunning poolside view and the recent addition of our Italian courtyard, your visit to Worton Park will inspire creative thinking, clear-headed planning and decision-making with no interruptions.
Two Great Venues
Off the A40 and only 10 minutes from the centre of Oxford
RANDOLPH HOTEL Macdonald Randolph located in the heart of Oxford city is the perfect place for Meetings, Conferences, Events, Weddings, Product launches or for special occasions. The Randolph has a selection of 5 Conference rooms and a ballroom to accommodate 2 to 400 guests. At The Randolph we offer every guest the highest level of service and care.
WORTON PARK, CASSINGTON, OXFORDSHIRE, OX29 4SU
TEL: 01865 882644 FAX: 01865 884498 email@example.com
For more Information, please call our Conference & Events office Beaumont Street Oxford OX1 2LN Tel: 0870 400 8200 Fax: 01865 791678 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.macdonald-hotels.co.uk/randolph
RUDE NOT TO
To speak at The Oxford Union is, it would seem, a pre-requisite for world-wide fame. For some it has been a springboard, for others it has confirmed that they have arrived on the world stage. But how does the Union continue to attract such “big hitters”? Richard Rosser meets the Michaelmas Term President, James Wise, and Lindsey Warne, the Union’s long-serving bursar, to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous institutions. The walls of the Oxford Union tell the story. Over 182 years of history are
now?”. Sometimes, we just happen to send the invite off at the right time. With
reflected in the group photographs of each of the Union’s past Presidents. Black
Pierce Brosnan, I managed to get through to his wife who twisted his arm into
and whites of Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon, Malcolm X, Presidents Carter, Reagan
coming. We try to be as tactical as possible in asking potential speakers to attend,
and Nixon, Benazir Bhutto, Sir Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa, amongst
for example to tie in with a hot political issue, a new film or a book release.”
others, help peel back some of the layers of history. Wall after wall of famous faces, each bringing a gasp of bewilderment “they came to Oxford?” We are, on the
“What sort of preparation goes into your term as President?”
whole, quite modest in Oxford and often unaware of the worldwide cachet that
“I was elected in Easter, so I spent one term as President-elect and as soon as the
holidays began in June, I knew I had to get some dates in the diary and I literally worked for one hundred days in the Union to get some good names in. I was so
The Union’s bursar, Lindsey Warne, gives me a guided tour of the Union and
fortunate to be nominated President in this term. You compare my preparation
explains that such a collection of priceless images can stimulate “problems” in a
time with the incoming President who has 4 weeks, two of which are taken up by
playground of trophy hunters: “We do have to make sure that our priceless
Christmas holidays. We do have our year as a sabbatical and it is great to be able
photographs, accumulated over decades and decades, are protected. One
to go to the University and say “see you in twelve months” – it is one of the only
photograph went missing ten years ago and arrived just after I started at The Union.
excuses they will accept!”
It turned up in a package from Michigan, America, with a note. Lindsey recites from memory, “For various reasons, this fell into my hands whilst I was at Glasgow
“But the incoming President must benefit from your endeavours as you
University.” Lindsey pauses and intervenes…. “I thought ‘you little so and so’”, much
have from Presidents before you?”
to my amusement and continues, “we are now moving house and thought you
“Fortunately, the incoming President, Theo Roos, is a good friend of mine and we
might like it back. PS Please refund $20.00 towards the postage.”
have worked closely together to ensure he has some good ‘leads’ to pick up. On the whole, the hand-over is good and the bottom line is that the President changes
Lindsey’s missing photograph tale is part of a well-drilled tour as she glides
termly but the Union is constant and that mustn’t be forgotten.
effortlessly around the hallways and rooms of this amazing institution, which is quite literally dripping in history. In stark contrast, the jeans and t-shirts seem to be the odd ones out, the irony being that many of these will be gawped at in photographs in years to come. Future presidents, royalty, film stars – who knows? We then cross the courtyard to the debating chamber. Considering what has taken place
“My big wish this term was for Bill Clinton to speak. Maybe surprisingly, he has never spoken before – there is
Speakers in 2006: 1. John Hurt, 2. Sam Torrance, 3. Donal Macintyre, 4. Dita von Teese, 5. Lord Roy Hattersley, 6. Oliver Letwin, 7. Ron Dennis, 8. Gail Porter, 9. Sir Jeremy Isaacs, 10. Ian Wright, 11. Frank Skinner, 12. Bruce Forsyth, 13. Sir David Frost, 14. Jacqueline Gold and 15. Michael Douglas
incidentally no limit on speaking more than once. You get the feeling that he is just winding down the ‘circuit’ and he will pick the right time. We have had Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, so hopefully we will get
here, it is unremarkable, but at the same time you can’t help getting lost thinking
Clinton. He is an amazing speaker and just an incredibly interesting guy, and his
about the icons you have shared this space with.
response to us was: ‘I’ll come in 2008’.”
Almost right on cue, President James Wise enters. I ask how James’s term has
“Better than a flat ‘no’?”
gone. “We have had quite a diverse list of speakers, including Pierce Brosnan,
“We are very lucky because we so rarely get flat ‘nos’. Our problem is not
persuading people to come, it is really just fitting in with their timetable. There is
Secretary-General of the UN), Tony Benn, Lord Owen, Natalie Portman and
no doubt that inviting someone to speak at the Oxford Union carries a lot of weight
President Musharraf of Pakistan.
and it is not the sort of invitation that is turned down lightly.”
“We focus on speakers that we know we can get. Sometimes we get lucky and a
The Union welcomes corporate sponsors for debates and is also available as a
person may say that they received an invite two years ago and ask, "Can we come
Contact details on page 62
In each Issue of B4, we will be reviewing a town or area in Oxfordshire and asking an independent local to highlight all that is good about the area. In the first of this series of features, we focus on Banbury. Raine Hilson, editor of the excellent www.banbury-cross.co.uk web site, gives us her insight. “Banbury is the main town serving North Oxfordshire. It has a population of approximately 40,000 and is twinned with Ermont in France and Hennef in Germany. The M40, which connected to Banbury in 1990, now provides easy access to London, Birmingham and the North, and has made Banbury a very desirable location for both businesses and residents. “There are a number of unique and wonderful independent shops in the town centre, in amongst the ever-present chains. There is a market on Thursdays and Saturdays as well as a Farmers Market on the First Friday of Every Month. “The Banbury Cross, which is located on a roundabout in the middle of the town, was erected in 1859 to celebrate the wedding of Prince Frederick of Prussia to his bride, the original cross having been pulled down some 250 years earlier. There is also a Museum and Information Centre located in Castle Quay Shopping Centre. A visit to Tooleys Boatyard is always worthwhile. “The three big hotels in Banbury are the Cromwell Lodge Hotel, the Banbury House Hotel and the Whately Hall. Some of the nicest restaurants include Hyltons on Parsons Street, The Thai Orchid on North Bar and Rosamund the Fair down by the Canal. If you venture out to some of the nearby villages, there are
a host of restaurants including Le Restaurant Francais in Twyfords Gardens and
beautiful pubs and hostelries with great food and beer to sample.
“A full list of Hotels, Restaurants, Pubs and anything you are looking for can be
found on the Banbury-Cross Website – www.banbury-cross.co.uk This website is the most comprehensive place to visit for information, whether you are living in Banbury, working in Banbury or just visiting. There is a webcam overlooking the Cross, information on our local MP, Tony Baldry, Links to Local Weather and Rail Network, not to mention photos, an events guide, history and much, much more. Photographs supplied by kind permission of Steve Gold of www.stevegold.co.uk
and Raine Hilson.
BRIDGE B UILDING BETWEEN YOU & YOUR MARKET
John Kennedy, a Marketing Director and Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing, looks at the “art” and “science” of marketing in a new series of business articles for B4. Do you need to be a scientist or an artist? Marketing like bridge building, is both a technical and a creative process and often the most memorable and effective marketing initiatives are a combination of both elements. When these two elements work together in an effective fashion, businesses can grow their profile, their client base and their brand reputation. Marketing strategy must be integrated into any organisation in order for it to fulfil its business plan – and this integration needs both a scientific and creative platform in order to succeed. The scientific aspects All aspects of the “market”, its size, growth potential, complexity, number of suppliers and competitive prices can be researched scientifically to produce either exact results or better estimates than are currently available. One of the key elements is market research. Your organisation provides products or services, but do you know who all the potential buyers are, what processes they go through before they buy and why they purchase your product? As a Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing, many conferences I attend focus on “buyer behaviour” and targeting the people most likely to buy in the most “direct” way possible – and at the most appropriate time in their buying cycle. Gaining an understanding of your existing customers through comprehensive market research will enable you to target new customers with a better understanding of their needs. Market research can also enhance the strength of your relationships with existing clients. Researching the needs of customers who currently purchase a service from one of your competitors is also a valuable initiative. Of course, market research also needs a creative, stimulating side to attract those
being researched and to show your organisation as a dynamic player in the market. Research is crucial, but many organisations are content to pay lip service to research, sending out questionnaires in the hope that a client or potential client will be motivated enough to fill it in and post it back. Understanding why customers did or did not purchase from you is the key element in generating “feedback” – which can then be analysed and used for a variety of purposes. For example, customer feedback could result in you realigning, not just your marketing plan, but possibly your whole business structure around the needs of your clients – becoming “market-orientated” rather than “internally-focused” is probably the most significant change an organisation can make. The creative aspects “Creative” marketing communications should have a “scientific” basis, in that the target market needs to be sent a message that appeals to them emotionally and rationally. By knowing as much about the potential customers in the market as possible, a creative idea can be a powerful link between the organisation and its market. It is in this way that the emotional and “reassuring” power of a brand can be harnessed to produce loyalty to the product and possibly maintain premium pricing. Once a strong bridge has been designed and built there can be effective communication in both directions. However, like the Millau Viaduct pictured here, the bridge needs monitoring and maintenance to ensure it remains structurally intact in the longer term. In marketing terms, once the prospective client has become a client, the relationship needs to be maintained and managed to produce long term value for both the client and supplier.
CARING FOR YOUNG AND OLD It is a well-known fact. We are working harder and living longer. The natural consequences are that we will seek help with childcare earlier in our children's lives and, as we grow older, more of us will require some form of care ourselves. Care is the key word. John Thorne of Barclays explains to Gemma Tomkys how they are providing care organisations with the support they require in this rapidly-growing sector. Nationally, Barclays have nominated local managers to spearhead their healthcare initiative, and John Thorne is Barclays’ local healthcare champion for Oxfordshire. John began his banking career at 17, moving into business banking in 1996. Having worked with local businesses for the past ten years, John was an obvious choice to front the healthcare scheme in Oxford. “We were all sent to London for training with the Royal College of General Practitioners and the National Care Association, both private organisations,” explains John, “so that we could offer our customers industry-specific knowledge. I have shadowed practice managers during their daily routine to help assess their needs, and this helps me to see both sides of the fence – it helps me add value and understand the industry. “What we can now offer any healthcare organisation, be it a nursery for infants or a residential nursing home, is across-the-board banking. However, it is a fact that Barclays have the industry knowledge which sets us apart. We have approximately 40 healthcare managers across the country that regularly get together for specific external training. This provides us all with live case study experiences which we share for our mutual benefit. We also have the added advantage of central information, which helps inform customers how they can benefit from new legislation to help improve their business.
“When Barclays entered the technology market back in the early 2000s, we were seen as pioneering, but as a result, we are now seen as the main player in the technology sector locally. In the same way, we are hoping to pioneer the healthcare initiative.” I mentioned to John that on a visit to Florida I saw a residential estate with an impressive entrance, boldly naming the development “Lakeland Estate – an over-55s development.” I ask if that is the way we are heading here. “Yes, we are. These developments are called “care villages”. Imagine a new housing estate with a central office. The office will house the nursing staff, supplies etc… and the houses will all be occupied by those requiring care who might otherwise have to live in a nursing home. The benefits are that the individual will have their own space, and more of it. The care provider will not have to pay for the upkeep of a central site, but instead will be able to sell the units to its patients and be left with the less burdensome task of covering the costs of the central staff and supplies – costs, which are in turn covered by the patients. The staff costs are reduced by remote monitoring systems – systems which can, for example, monitor toilet flushes and light switches.”
B4 FINANCE Staffing is one of the major financial drains facing care home providers. Government regulations require care providers to ensure that at least 50% of staff have been trained to NVQ2 level and that managers have reached NVQ4 level with at least 2 years of experience. While the need for these qualifications is evident, training costs place added financial strain onto care home providers already under pressure to match the recent rapid pay rises in the public sector and the NHS, with whom they are competing for staff. With the concept of remote monitoring and the finances created from the sale of units, care villages could provide a solution to this growing concern
and the majority of women now start families between the ages of 30 to 34 when they have already established careers. Expansion is necessary, but funds are difficult to obtain; this is where Barclays come in. Sarah Steele, of Old Station Nursery, explains how Barclays have contributed to the success of her business, which has expanded from two to eight nurseries within two months. “John was extremely helpful and willing to take a personal interest,” she informs me. “He understood the need for speed and I received a verbal offer within a week. Banking can be so faceless but the first thing John did was to provide me with all his contact details and they always got back to me. They share my view about the long-term prospects of the business and on that basis were convinced that, with their support, we would be successful.” So how should anyone looking at forging a career as a carer begin? John Thorne and Barclays can hopefully lend a helping hand. “On 28th February, we are organising a seminar at 333 Banbury Road, 3pm to 7pm. It is an open invite event, aimed at care home owners, managers and those looking to get into the business, in partnership with solicitors Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons and
facing care homes in the UK. “The care home industry has changed dramatically in recent years,” Eric Turburfield of Featherton House Residential Care Home informs me. “Many homes are burdened by financial restrictions.” Eric is a Barclays customer and the support of John Thorne has helped to strengthen his business, which is based in Deddington: “With sound advice, together with financial backing from John Thorne’s corporate team, Featherton House has been able to successfully extend and expand its business. We know we can always rely upon a welcoming, efficient and responsive service from the Barclays team.” The scene is also set to change for day nurseries. The 2005 Childcare Bill, which is currently being passed through Parliament, will require all local authorities to provide sufficient childcare for all working families in their areas from 2008, and to engage with voluntary and private sector providers to achieve this. The demand for childcare has risen largely due to the increase in the female labour force and the age at which women start families. Around 52% of mothers with children under five are in full or part time work,
accountants Shaw Gibbs. We have managed to secure the Chief Executive of the National Care Home Association, Sheila Scott, as our guest speaker. Sheila will be speaking about the new star rating introduced by the Government, the minimum standards of all adult services, which the Government is currently reviewing, and the new Mental Capacity Act, which comes into effect in April of this year. There is no charge, but places are obviously limited. “Blake Lapthorn and Shaw Gibbs will be talking about how interested parties can get into the healthcare market. There will also be an exhibition area with stands and suppliers to the industry to answer any questions. Those readers interested should contact me.” (Contact details on page 58). With the population predicted to rise until 2050, the Barclays healthcare initiative represents an area of banking set to require increasing financial support over the coming decades. At the same time, demand for care at both ends of the age spectrum is also set to increase as more mothers return to work and OAPs outlive their predecessors. Find out more about what Barclays can offer you by calling John Thorne on
07775 548770 and booking your place for 28th February.
B4 Facts: Fact 1: The number of individuals over 85 in the UK grew by 64,000 (6%) in the year 2005 to reach a record of 1.2 million. Fact 2: The median age of the UK population rose from 34.1 years in 1971 to 38.8 in 2005. Fact 3: By 2056 the number of over-85s will have more than trebled to more than 4.6 million, according to the latest base projections from the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). Fact 4: As the population ages, the working-age population is set to decline as a proportion of the total UK population. This means that the burden of funding care will fall on an increasingly smaller proportion of working-age people. Fact 5: As a recent report on the sector by the King’s Fund notes, healthy life expectancy has not increased at the same pace as overall life
expectancy over the past 20 years, and this discrepancy is likely to continue. As a result, the proportion requiring both low-level and high-level care is set to rise. This means that there should be an increase in demand for care in a residential setting, which in turn will require longer-term investment in the care home sector. Fact 6: Excluding 1976, there have been more births than deaths in the UK in every year since 1901. From mid-2004 to mid-2005 births have exceeded deaths by 127,000. This is the highest level since 1993. Fact 7: According to the National Day Nursery Association (NDNA), there are 14,000 day nurseries in the UK offering around 500,000 full-time equivalent places to an estimated 700,000 children under five. The number of available nursery places in the UK has expanded fourfold since 1990, although the number of nurseries has grown more slowly.
Contact details on page 62
Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados is probably one of the most famous hotels in the world and is widely recognised as the celebrity hang-out. When B4 were invited to sample the hotel’s delights, it was with a mixture of fear and excitement. Richard Rosser met with Chief Executive Michael Pownall to find out how Sandy Lane has achieved its position of world-wide distinction, and why it is becoming increasingly important to break down the “celebrities only” perception.
Marble floors, crystal-blue sea, sweeping staircases,
the repeat custom of a loyal group of customers, but
tee shot pressure vanish – it is like having the perfect
staff flashing warm smiles all around, sumptuous
we recognise that we have got to start to appeal to a
golf course in your back garden. Michael is
new wave of customers, the next generation if you
tremendously proud to be host to the 2006 World
like. Yes, we enjoy the column inches which go with
Cup of Golf, but aside from the golf, there is a
phenomenal attention to detail. However much I try
playing host to the Michael Winners, Tiger Woods,
fantastically luxurious spa offering experiences ranging
and convince you, it’s not really work, is it? I am
Simon Cowells and Beyonces of this world, but we
from full body massages to scrub and wrap
waiting for Michael Pownall on the terrace, feet away
have to make sure that this does not prevent or put
from the blue Caribbean sea, enjoying a breakfast of
off potential customers.” I admitted that my wife and
fresh fruit and fresh orange juice. The staff cannot be
I were slightly fearful of what to expect at Sandy Lane.
And is Sandy Lane the sort of place to take the
more accommodating and that’s not just because I
Even though we knew from past experience that the
children? Well, we took ours, aged 6 and 9, and they
am waiting for the main man. The staff have been
Bajans were wonderfully warm and accommodating
had a ball. The Treehouse Club is second to none.
extraordinarily attentive throughout our stay, and not
people, I think there was a fear that we wouldn’t “fit
Offering a variety of daily activities for the 3 to 12 year
in a “tip me later” way, as for Bajans it is second
olds, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m., the
children are kept in a protected environment and
nature to be a great host. “We are aware of this fear and we hope you have
always excellently attended to by qualified and very
As Michael takes his seat, he apologises for the ever
been pleasantly surprised during your stay that the
friendly carers. Kids can stay out of the sun in the art
so slight noise coming from his builders. They are
majority of our guests are down to earth people,
room or venture out to swim with the turtles, play
repairing a small building just beyond the breakfast
normal people. Having said that, there are a million
tennis or football or go on organised trips outside the
area in readiness for the forthcoming wedding of the
things we should be doing to make our guests enjoy
hotel. With the children safe and happy, the parents
son of one of the owners, John Magnier, the
themselves even more, including the obvious
can relax and unwind.
well-known horse breeder.
activities such as water sports, golf and tennis but also
“Our success does cause us problems. With such a
the less obvious offerings such as swimming with
Kids can join or leave the club at any time and there
turtles, watching our famous green monkeys playing
is no additional charge (with the exception of
SANDY LANE healthy season lasting almost 10 months, with the
and snorkelling to see the sunken ship.”
exception of June and September, it has been difficult
excursions), so don’t feel that you have to spend all of your time away from them. Our children spent the
to schedule in repairs such as these. Of course we
Green Monkeys? Yes, there is such a thing. The hotel
mornings in the club and then spent much of the
would like to be fully operational 12 months of the
even named one of the 18 hole golf courses after this
afternoon on the beach with us, thus giving everyone
year, but to be honest, the two months we are not at
wonderful, yet unusual species. The Sandy Lane
a good balance of relaxation and family fun.
capacity gives everyone time to re-charge, and also
Country Club offers keen golfers the choice of 45
the hotel has a chance to ‘breathe’.”
holes over three courses – the Old Nine, the Country
Sandy Lane, in my humble opinion, is as close to
Club (the venue for the December 2006 World Cup)
perfection as possible, and no wonder it has such a
It is very rare that you get the opportunity to air any
and the famous Green Monkey opened by Tiger
world-wide reputation. But what about Barbados as a
problems with the Chief Executive of a hotel that you
Woods and voted the 49th best course in the world.
destination? There is no doubt that Barbados enjoys a
are staying in. But I didn’t have any real complaints,
buoyant tourism trade, but what is it doing to
only that some of the flags on the greens at the golf
The Country Club and the Old Nine are enjoyable
maintain this in view of arguably less expensive and
course hadn’t been replaced, but that’s pretty lame
courses, open to all comers, but the Green Monkey is
more accessible alternatives? Michael explains that
isn’t it! It’s still a point Michael takes seriously and
not as “accessible”. Michael explains, “When I came to
Barbados is striving to make sure that it doesn’t lose
makes a mental note to investigate. It is this 24-hour quest to make sure your
GREEN MONKEYS, TURTLES AND SUNKEN SHIPS
time spent at Sandy Lane is as
destinations, such as Dubai, “I have been very impressed with Tourism Barbados’s
enjoyable and relaxing as possible that really strikes
Sandy Lane, the Green Monkey was off limits to non
attempts to attract customers and also plan for the
you as a guest.
hotel residents and to this day you have to be a
future. Their innovative and inspirational schemes
resident to buy Green Monkey merchandise in the
help to raise funds to maintain and develop
The rooms surpassed expectations and the chocolate
Club Shop.” It is some club shop, more Sloane Street
Barbados’s worldwide profile.”
teddy bears left for both children, beautifully present-
than “Club Shop”. “We were then put under some
ed with their names in chocolate sauce, were an early
pressure by the golf magazines to open the course up
As I left Michael to enjoy one last swim, I asked if he
indication that Sandy Lane recognises the importance
to non-residents as they felt they couldn’t review or
was busy. “Just the wedding, the Robert Sangster golf
of the little people as much as the bill-payers. A
judge the course if it wasn’t ‘open’. We reached a
competition, the K Club competition, the World Cup
control panel for the curtains, lights, music, air
compromise. The rate for a resident per round is
in December and the Cricket World Cup at Easter, oh,
conditioning and a well-thought out runway of night
$375 US and we made the non resident rate $4,000
and the small matter of a full house at Christmas.”
lights kept the children occupied until they discovered
US for up to four people. You wouldn’t believe the
Effortless: this is a man who knows what his hotel is
the huge plasma screen providing internet access,
number of American tourists who disembark from the
capable of, and the itinerary doesn’t faze him,
films, a huge selection of music albums for all tastes
cruise liners just to play the Green Monkey.”
because, as I now know, Sandy Lane is the perfect
and video games.
host. The course itself is picturesque and an unbelievably
I ask Michael what message he wants to get across to
relaxing experience. With tee-off times restricted to
our readers. “For a long time Sandy Lane has enjoyed
between 8.30 and 9.30 a.m., course congestion and
Contact details on page 62
B4 PROUDLY PRESENTS
THE B4 & MGROUP CUP OXFORDSHIRE’S BUSINESS GOLF CHALLENGE
24 TEAMS Teams of 4 – 1 company or a combination of 2 companies Customers, suppliers and staff all welcome to make up teams Business types also welcome to enter teams Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers therefore all welcome.
4 VENUES Frilford Heath, Friday 27th April
Southfield, Thursday 24th May
Studley Wood, Thursday 5th July
The Oxfordshire, Tuesday 11th September
1 TROPHY Is your business ready to prove itself the best company Golf Team in Oxfordshire? Team shirts provided Buffets for first three events with prize-giving dinner at final venue
PLEASE CONTACT FOR FURTHER DETAILS: GARY MCHALE - THE MGROUP: TEL 01865 404707 COLIN ROSSER - B4: TEL 01865 742211
All photo’s Oxford Medical Illustration
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS! For many people it has been a long time coming but the brand new Children's Hospital is now open for business. This project is the culmination of many doctors’, nurses’ and patients’ dreams and opened on time in mid-January. It is now fully operational and ready to treat the 65,000 children expected to pass through its doors each and every year. The redevelopment of the lower end of the John Radcliffe site also includes the West Wing, housing adult head and neck services, which transferred from the historical Radcliffe Infirmary when it closed in December. The Children's Hospital cost £30 million to build. The Trust recognised the importance of creating a purpose-built children’s facility some years ago and decided to put £15 million into the project. There was considerable public support for the idea so the Trust decided to raise the other £15 million from public and corporate fundraising. To date, £13.1 million has been raised and the Charitable Funds Team at the hospital is working flat out to identify the remaining sum. It may seem odd that a hospital can open without raising the full £15m, yet the Trust has
contingency plans to meet any shortfall. However, if this were applied, it would erode the incredible progress the Trust has made in addressing its £33 million funding shortfall. Companies can still get involved with fundraising for the Children's Hospital. In January, Oxford United Football Club, Malmaison and the JJ Group all agreed to support the Hospital and fundraising initiatives are being drawn up as B4 goes to print.
Head of Community Fundraising, Oxford Children's Hospital Campaign If you would like to find out more about how your company can benefit from getting involved with the campaign, please call Graham on 01865 743444. See: www.chox.org.uk This editorial has been dontated by B4.
Forthcoming events: With more than 9,000 staff and 750,000 visitors each year, the Trust has a huge impact on the local economy. “Oxford United has supported the Hospital in various ways over the years. I am delighted we are now working more closely together with them and other businesses, creating opportunities that will not only raise funds for the Children's Hospital but also provide positive benefits for the Club. Oxford United and all the other businesses that have been involved with the Campaign should be applauded for recognising their corporate social responsibility and getting involved with a project that will benefit hundreds of thousands of children for many decades to come.” Said Graham Brogden,
Exclusive Preview of Charlotte's Webb at Vue Cinema: Animated film with all star voices such as Julia Roberts, John Cleese and Oprah Winfrey... tickets just £5! Sunday 4 February 2007 at 10.30am Call 01865 743444 to buy tickets The Oxford Philomusica Night at the Movies at BMW: Wednesday 14 February 2007. Call 01865 305305 to reserve your seat The Oxford Mail OX5RUN 2007 Burn off the Christmas calories with the annual 5mile run round Blenheim Palace. Entry just £10! Sunday 25 March 2007 To register call Cynthia on 01865 743444
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SMOOTH OPERATOR Every business has its ups and downs; B4’s Adam Mackrell strives to smooth these out!
The UK is a popular destination for FDI (foreign direct investment). From the Japanese and US led acquisitions of the 80’s, to a marked rise more recently in investment from overseas from China and India and the more recent acquisitions such as “Nanjing” of China acquiring the MG site at Longbridge in Birmingham. There are a number of factors that make this an easy decision for foreign companies. Adam Mackrell investigates. We have a very open door policy here with regards to investment and we are the only country within Europe that permit laws which help minimize the tax burden of a foreign individual’s or corporation’s tax burden. The UK is widely regarded, and quite rightly so around the world, as extremely fair and just. Our public education system here is held in high regard around the world. The UK is a very cosmopolitan environment, particularly in London. We have a relatively stable government and find ourselves at the cutting edge of science and design. We also have a rich history in banking and finance, so much so that London is considered by many to be a gateway to the world. The list goes on. Diversification is the most valuable and important piece of advice a financial advisor or wealth manager will give you, anywhere around the world. As we love to say HE “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Why? Because protecting your assets and wealth, whatever the extent of your portfolio, is the key to security, and ecurity in “Maslows: Hierarchy of needs” is our number one deep down concern!
We know that a big chunk of diversification from overseas portfolios, whether corporate or private, is coming here to the UK - £74.5 Billion according to the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) hit our shores between 2004 – 2005, double that in 2000 and on the increase again this year. The media is full of acquisition, merger and private www.b4-business.com
investment deals being struck here with overseas parties. The property sector in London is still breathing very healthily due to an injection from overseas buyers - who knows where it would be today if that were not the case?
why the high street is screaming for an interest rate cut that they will not get in the near future. The jobless rate has slowly been rising - 177,000 have become unemployed in the last 12 months and the figure is set to rise with British Gas (2000), The Learning Skills Council (1300), Lloyds TSB and Abbey (1000), British Airways (continual), BBC (2500), Seagate (6000) to name a few, all cutting costs. All of this also leading to a peculiarly rising stock market? Of course cost cutting increases profit and it’s the profit that the madness of crowds looks for in a trading equity; it is simply a quirk and a manifestation of mob psychology.
The UK is a gold mine for foreign businesses. Excluding all of the above valid reasons why, the most important of all is we NEED the injection of capital, the exact same reason why we need the Immigrant labour which seems to flood our labour markets. There would arguably be a huge hole in the labour market without them – or dare I say that we have an unwilling pool of labour on our doorstep?
Recessions and corrections are shrouded in more myths than any other phenomenon in Business. The first one being that they are rare, the second that they are all bad news, and the third being that you should batten down the hatches when they come along. One thing is for sure, the corporation or private with the money certainly won’t be. These periods of time provide fantastic opportunities for the smart investors - “buy low-sell high” sound familiar..?
There are a number of economists who would say that the UK is heading, if not in need of, a correction. Some of the more bearish would say a recession is imminent. You don’t need to be an economist to see quite clearly that we have held a very accommodating stance for some time now; the public at large, and to a certain extent, the government itself, have been looking to borrow to see through the tough times. You can only accommodate however for so long hence the major banks signaling an end to cheap fixed mortgage rates, the decline in 0% offers on credit cards, the increase in interest rates here and in the U.S and so on. Everyman and his dog are
There is currently a huge amount of wealth being created in China, India and Russia. These nations have huge surpluses building up in comparison to our deficits; the smart investor is already waking up to this and diversifying their BIGGER THE NET THE MORE FISH portfolio accordingly. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, who YOU ARE LIKELY TO CATCH surveyed CAITEC China’s Nordic Proverb Academy of International Trade leveraged to the eyeballs and for some already and Economic Co-operation, 70% of 100 and more to come this is becoming a very harsh national companies were planning to expand reality. Last year Insolvencies were up 65% on overseas in the next four years - 20% of those 2005 at 110,000 (The Guardian 03/01/07). were planning on investing $10 million and above. The top two destinations were the UK Public debt (account deficit) on credit cards alone andGermany. China is now already 76% as is now well over the 1.2 trillion pounds level, powerful as the “big monster” of the U.S.A in PPP Government borrowing (budget deficit) is at (purchasing power parity). My question to goods approximately 37 Billion pounds. We as a country and services providers here in the UK is “Why import far more than we export (trade deficit). wouldn’t you want to promote your goods and High street sales are at a decade low and this is services to this market?”
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