Page 1







Cross Integration Brendon Cross talks us through the re-birth of STL Communications

Weddings Why Oxfordshire is the place to marry

The Right Bank Reasons to choose Barclays - from satisfied customers





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8 Cross Integration

9 12



Welcome to Issue 4 of B4 B4 has shifted up a gear for Issue 4 as we approach our first birthday. Not only have we launched the B4/MGroup Golf Cup, but we are also holding the first of many open Business Advice Forums on 21 June 2007 at The Oxford Conference Centre – see page 33. This issue is packed with a wide range of interesting features. Jacquie Bugeja, Head of Service at Oxfordshire County Council, reveals the true extent of the wedding “industry” in Oxfordshire, and we also have a look behind the scenes at The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust with Chris Hurst, Director of Finance & Procurement and Deputy Chief Executive of the Trust. Sean Hazell, Partner at Darbys Solicitors, puts his gloves on to discuss the problematical area of dispute resolution, and Phil Casey of Focus Financial Services asks if there really is a pensions crisis. Mark Reynolds finds out more about opticians David Clulow in the High Street and has an intriguing interview with Brian Weedon of Isis Rescue, who talks about the key role of the family in his business and throws the spotlight on his new vintage car restoration service. Mark also talks to Owen McGovern and Kelvin Thomas of Oxford United about the importance of the grass roots in any football club and interviews Matthew Chobbah, business manager at Oxford Radcliffe Private Healthcare. For those 3,000 of you who have received your copy of B4 in the post, you will have seen a copy of the 7th Oxford Restaurant Guide and Wenn Townsend’s tax card. Tony Haines of Wenn Townsend tells B4 the key dates to take note of in the financial year and explains some of his company’s excellent services. I hope that you enjoy this issue of B4. Please let us have your feedback, as this will enable us to continue to make improvements.



Without A Hitch




A Healthy Balance

New Man in the House

Tax Free

Inside 30



A Matter of Trust

34 The Heavy Side


Richard Rosser Publisher

36 42


Pensions: Crisis, What Crisis?

Taking Stock


Featured Contributors


Phil Donigan


Phil discusses communication company STL’s new lines and calls package. See Page 9


Emma Righton


Emma is the name behind OxfordShortlets and the new Righton Property company which we feature on page 28

58 Stephen Woodhouse The new General Manager at Malmaison Oxford tells us all about his team and the importance of local produce. See page 22


Business Contacts

Vision XS Vision XS Ltd, which has its headquarters at the Culham Science Centre near Abingdon, offers unique services to facilities within the visitor attractions industry and has recently announced a major contract in the Middle East. Vision XS has been appointed as a specialist contractor to the huge new Dubailand project in the UAE, a multi-billion US dollar leisure, entertainment, retail, tourism, real

estate and hospitality ‘mega’ project being created near Abu Dhabi. The Oxfordshire company’s involvement will be in one of the central elements of the project, the Dubailand theme park, which, it is Claimed, will be the most ambitious tourist destination ever built. Initially, Vision’s role was to help the developers with wide-ranging consumer research and people

modeling of the central part of the theme park and attractions area. However, more recently, the contract has been extended to now also provide further research and analysis work for the developers, among other things evaluating the whole leisure offer of Dubai, both current and future.

Barclays running for The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign On 20 May 2007, in the words of one of their own, “some wobbly, wrinkly bankers” will be entering the Oxford Town & Gown 10 km Charity Run. This is an excellent cause and should prove entertaining for those sensible enough not to enter but charitable enough to back one or more of these fine specimens. Barclays have agreed to match pound for pound any money raised, so if you are feeling generous,

please contact Jayne Woodley at to register your interest. Runners include: Ian Workman, Barry McGuinness, Jimi Collis, Stephen Davison, Tom Windett, Jayne Woodley, Simon “Danny” Cachia and Andy Simon “Danny” Cachia and Andy Richards. Good luck from all of us at B4.

Mission Possible Mission Possible helps change lives for businesswomen in Oxfordshire by providing inspiration, networking opportunities and lifestyle advice. The company, founded by Sue Stockdale, an international adventurer and the first British woman to walk to the magnetic north pole, is based on helping women to achieve their own business goals, using the same

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


principles that led to her success. The company runs a website, w w w. m i s s i o n p o s s i b l e . c o . u k , containing local information, news and articles on all aspects of running a business and running your life, and also offers coaching and training courses on different business topics. In 2004, Sue started the Faringdon Businesswomen’s Networking Group which is the first women’s network in

Art Editor Keith Simpson E:

Administration Sue Edwardson E:

Editorial Richard Rosser John Kennedy Adam Mackrell Gemma Tomkys Mark Reynolds E:

Staff Photographer Matthew Freer E:

Advertising Sales Manager Adam Mackrell E:

Photography Studio 8 T: 01865 842525 E:

Copy Editor and Proofreader Nikki Ochtman T: 01865 742211

the South East to be awarded the Prowess Flagship Standard for best practice in networking. This group meets monthly at the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway and details are on Mission Possible Ltd Tel 01367 244855

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: 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 B4 Magazine Reader Offer Further to our feature on Park Plaza Hotels on page 53, B4 readers have the opportunity to stay at one of the group’s London properties – the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street, which is extremely convenient for home counties commuters due to its location close to Marylebone Station. The hotel has extended a special offer to the readers of B4 Magazine, who can request an upgrade to the next available room type at the time of booking by quoting “B4 Magazine”. The hotel offers the

best rate available at the time of booking, with £129 as a guide price. To book, simply call 020 7486 6161 or email the reservations office on For more information on Park Plaza visit

MGroup re-seller of Sage 200 Here at The MGroup, we have been evaluating Sage 200 business software recently introduced to the market by Sage. Sage 200 utilises a SQL relational database for scalability (typically up to 50 users), and the system is robust and easy to integrate with other applications. Sage Line 50 customers who have outgrown their existing system will find Sage 200 an ideal upgrade path. Sage 200 Financials Managing the day-to-day running of your business, this fully integrated module provides

unrivalled business control and management reporting utilising information held in the nominal ledger, cash book, sales and purchase ledgers. Sage 200 Commercials includes sales order processing, purchase order processing, stock control and price book. By integrating your accounting and trading modules, you can easily automate the delivery of customer orders with effective stock management.

New! Sage 200 Project Accounting Is ideally suited to businesses that run projects or provide services and it can be adjusted to suit the needs of each industry type, whether requiring simple or detailed costing, time recording and analysis structures. If you would like to receive a free demonstration of Sage 200 please contact Alec Pridsam on 01865 404704 to arrange an appointment.

B4 & MGroup Golf Cup The B4 / MGroup Golf Cup was launched on Friday 27 April 2007 at Frilford Heath Golf Club – see pages 46 and 47. If you would like to register your team for the final three rounds and challenge for the cup, please contact Richard Rosser on 01865 742211.

Keep up to date with proceedings by logging on to the golf section at Try and catch the early leaders HMT and Wenn Townsend who posted excellent first round scores.

“Almost There” whisky review and competition There can be few more beautiful settings from which to witness the resurrection of a much loved and very proud business than the beach in front of the Ardbeg distillery, on the Scottish island of Islay. Last September, I was fortunate enough to visit Islay and its seven world-famous distilleries, and the day spent at Ardbeg was the highlight. For a long time, however, the situation was very different. In 1978 following several financial mergers, Ardbeg suddenly found itself under the control of the large Allied group, owners of neighbouring Laphroaig. With investment going into its more successful next-door neighbour, Ardbeg became surplus to requirements, and in March 1981 the site was mothballed. Over the following sixteen years of Scottish winters and Atlantic storms the fabric of Ardbeg began to slowly fall apart. The tide began to turn in 1997 when, a year short of its two-hundredth birthday, Ardbeg was bought by much more sympathetic owners in the shape of Glenmorangie. Buildings were renovated, barrels were purchased, the visionary Stuart Thomson was employed, and most importantly, distillation began again. 2008 will see the arrival of Ardbeg’s first post-Allied ten year old malt. Although since 2004 very limited quantities of early release have been fleetingly available, accompanied by rapturous reviews. Only 1500 bottles were released this April, named “Amost There”, and 36 arrived at High Street Oddbins at £31.99 a bottle. It is also sold by the shot at QI, Turl Street. Loch Fyne Whiskies of Edinburgh lauded it as “perfect Ardbeg”, and a chatsite wag described it as “like sticking your head in an upright piano and stamping on the boomy notes!” Whatever your taste, it is a rare and privileged way to celebrate the rebirth of a very special business. Peter Hack – Manager of Oddbins, High Street Oxford.

COMPETITION: Win a bottle of Ardbeg’s ‘Almost There’ by answering this question: Which Scottish island is Talisker from? Answers to:


Brendon Cross is a colourful and engaging personality, has fire in his belly and talks to me with the enthusiasm of his first interview after the sale of his highly successful telecommunications business back in 2004. “Kid with a new toy” is probably pushing it slightly, but this is a man who enjoys what he does, whether it is following Oxford United, spending precious time with his family, or investing his huge amounts of energy in the business. “I want to tell you why we are where we are, why we are doing what we are doing and focus on our objectives going forward’. “In 2004, we sold the calls and mobility side of the business to Carphone Warehouse. It was a good deal for both parties. It “ticked all the right boxes” for us as they were a publicly quoted company so we knew we had a bona fide purchaser, and for them it helped to dilute their exposure to mobile phones and diversify into lines and calls, as well as positively influencing the share price and helping them to reach certain targets’’. “Essentially, we were in the right place at the right time and I now understand an awful lot more about the dynamics of large corporates than I did then’’. “One of the caveats Carphone put in place, however, was that although they were happy for us to continue in both the lines & calls and mobiles business, they were understandably nervous about use of the name STL for lines and calls, given that they are a publicly quoted company. Naturally they didn’t want


shareholders asking why they had purchased a company and allowed it to continue to trade. “So, we changed the name to Intellion, and technically I was precluded from working in that “space” for four years. However, that was pretty much relaxed on day one. We decided Susannah Maxa would take on Intellion and develop the new lines and calls business. In two years Susannah has made a great success of developing Intellion, however we have now come to another “right place, right time situation.” “Susannah has a young family and has been juggling the development of the business with her involvement on the CHOX committee and spending time with her family. The re-integration of Intellion allows Susannah to take a career break and to focus on her other priorities, returning in the capacity of consultant later in the year. It’s a scenario which suits all parties and helps us start the next stage in the company’s history. “As far as Carphone Warehouse is concerned, we sold a lines, calls and mobiles business, but we continued in that arena as Intellion, under a totally different structure. Carphone Warehouse have been extremely positive about the current re-integration of Intellion within STL. Lots of water has passed under the bridge and the original terms of the deal have been relaxed. They are fully behind the re-integration and probably have one eye on the fact that we established a very profitable business once, so why shouldn’t we do it again? “We have now aligned the year ends of both

businesses and as from April we have been operating under the one banner of STL, so Intellion will be no longer. We are now one organisation with one communications proposition and this proposition breaks into three areas. We have “systems and solutions”, which is our historical hardware business. Secondly there is the “lines & calls” business, the traditional STL network and, more recently, the Intellion business. And finally, there is “mobility”, which has and will take a massively different focus as the mobile phone becomes progressively more flexible. Smartphones are without doubt the ultimate business tool in that you will soon be able to operate to use one device as an extension and a mobile with applications such as e-mail and calendar running as standard on the same device. Samsung have such products on trial as we speak, so fixed to mobile convergence is not very far away!’’ Presumably, I ask, we need only look at the States to see the new technology in place, but I am quickly put straight, “the Koreans and Japanese are leaders, they are the progressive force, the “groundbreakers”. This new technology comes to Europe first before it hits the States, rather than the other way around, which is the norm. “Internet Protocol (IP) is now driving everything we do and the simple cost of bandwidth reduces the cost of deploying IP which in turn means that linking sites together and linking the home-worker with the office becomes really easy and cost effective. The business benefits are huge, especially when you consider organisations such as law firms whose partners are able to work from home, or a sales team who can actually call their customers as if they are in the office.


CROSS INTEGRATION STL Managing Director, Brendon Cross, explains to B4 how the business he sold to Carphone Warehouse in 2004 has re-emerged to provide his company with the stage for a re-run.

These are the real business benefits for us and also for our customers. IP is driving our systems & solutions, lines & calls and mobility businesses.’’ “In parallel with everything we do, we have developed two core products within the “systems and solutions” side of the business. “IP Easy is attracting a lot of attention but it is just a simplification of an IP telephone system where a customer buys or rents a solution by the number of users or seats. You can increase seats as your business grows and you continually keep abreast of communications technology. IP Easy de-mystifies the whole IP proposition and enables home-workers to connect with the office network – a ‘pay as you go’ communications solution if you like.’’ “IP Gateway is for those organisations who do not want to “forklift” out their existing telephone system. Gateway is simply a “gateway” which sits on the front end of the existing telephone system to ‘IP enable it’ with the benefits of IP Easy. For example, a large organisation, 3 or 4 years into a lease on a fairly cumbersome telephone system, can upgrade this legacy system with IP Gateway and enjoy all the benefits such as seamless communication between offices and with remote workers.’’ “Easy and Gateway are selling really well considering that they were only launched in January and IP Easy is attracting strong interest from large and small companies. There are essentially five key components to IP Easy. We have Samsung who bundle the hardware/software, STL provide the engineering expertise, Griffin provide us with bandwidth, Gamma

terminate the calls for us and a finance house provides us with the ‘per-user’ finance agreement.’’ “IP Gateway is an STL Lines & Calls service, a part of the business driven by Phil Donigan (see page 9). STL provides a lines and calls service that enables a company to reduce their costs and their dependency on BT lines, whilst at the same time increasing their resilience. Resilience is becoming ever more important for an organisation to ensure they are less exposed to losing the ability to make and receive calls.’’ “All of this now means that we become a telephone operator in our own right with more resilient products and lower costs. Lines & calls is one part of the amalgamated organisation, but a crucial part nonetheless.” With the added advantage of having been here before, Brendon is a man in control of his own destiny and he knows which direction his company is going in. “At a time when we are spending a lot of time integrating, sales of all products have accelerated. The sales delivery of solutions is taking care of itself, so that we can focus on the re-integration of the business. To ensure that we continue to grow the business we are about to embark on a series of marketing initiatives for all areas of the business and we have an aggressive campaign planned for Oxfordshire.’’ Brendon started his working life as an electrical engineering apprentice serving a four-year apprenticeship at Didcot Power Station and then he moved to Culham on the Jet Project so that he could

continue his college studies. Brendon then moved to Rank Xerox and he was due to undertake a 10 year management commitment at the age of 22, but in his own words, “I just wasn’t ready for that type of commitment at that age.” Brendon continues, “I thought I would like to try sales and, in particular, telecoms sales. I was introduced to someone who was building a similar business to ours, which was a good dress rehearsal for my own business……the rest you know.” This background has provided a strong spine to Brendon’s employee approach and key to STL’s re-birth are the people working with Brendon, staff who are treated with care. “I am a big believer in investing in staff, but with the rapid expansion of the business a few years ago we lost sight of the training programmes and it became easier to poach good people from our competitors. Training is something we will be focussing on again. It is a practice we know pays huge dividends as two of our best engineers are ex-apprentices. We are also about to employ our first sales apprentice. Sales training will take the form of a two year timeframe where training will be split between products, services and the skills necessary to succeed in a very competitive market.’’ “We will also be investing heavily in training for all existing staff because it is this investment in the people that will drive the business forward.’’

Contact details on page 58



THE END OF THE LINE Phil Donigan of STL Communications explains how STL are now able to offer a complete “lines and calls” package utilising the latest IP technology. Up until now, STL’s customers have enjoyed an excellent calls package which is dependent on lines provided by BT. Not quite a “one stop shop” but a reliable and efficient service nonetheless. That total package has now become a reality, as STL are able to offer a complete ”lines and calls” service. Benefiting from the very latest and most efficient IP technology, STL will install their own line services at a customer’s site to complement either the existing telephone system and lines or new ones. So what are the benefits of moving your calls and lines over to STL? The key benefit is a reduction in the monthly cost of lines. STL lines carry a much lower monthly rental than BT equivalents, and in some cases up to 50% reductions in line rentals alone can be achieved. Further call cost savings can also be realised. I say “further” as many customers of STL will be aware of the CHOX Call system which offers reduced rates to customers at the same time as generating a percentage of the call cost for the Oxford Children’s Hospital. So how can further reductions be offered? Because of the way STL carry call traffic, STL are able

to offer significantly lower call tariffs than their competitors, even compared to ultra competitive ”least cost routing” providers. Another fantastic advantage of the STL service is that calls between multiple business sites and home workers are 100% free. STL’s ”IP Gateway” service enables calls to other STL-enabled sites to be made completely free of charge. A less obvious advantage is the resilience customers achieve. Because STL typically provide their lines to work alongside a reduced number of their customer’s existing lines, the customer will benefit from the resilience of dual services into their business. And finally, location independence and disaster recovery are key advantages of the lines and calls package. STL-provided numbers can be quickly and easily redirected to any alternative destination without incurring costly call diversion charges. Existing BT numbers can also be ported over to STL lines.

years, and there is a feeling in the industry that this new IP technology will overtake ISDN and eventually replace it. ISDN replaced analogue and this will definitely replace ISDN. “We are not competing with least cost routing providers, and the potential for saving money is an absolute step above what you would be looking at as a least cost routing option. It is a completely different concept. STL’s ‘calls and lines’ package presents an incredibly exciting opportunity for Oxfordshire businesses to save money.” If you are interested in finding out more, contact Phil Donigan at STL – one call that’s definitely worth making. Contact details on page 58

It must be stressed that this is not just another least cost routing proposition. As Phil Donigan explains, “From my point of view I see this as being one of the most exciting opportunities in telecoms in recent times. I have been in the business for the last ten


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The eyewear market has changed and, if you’ve kept up, you’ll have already heard about David Clulow opticians. If not, then Mark Reynolds’ story of his visit to this new boutique-style store in Oxford’s Cornmarket should help you see the light. I don’t wear glasses, so have had to learn fast, but it all makes perfect sense when you think about it. I will attempt to explain, using the power of the cliché, why paying that bit extra to bypass your high-street opticians is essential for the modern business person, and how it can pay for itself and make you feel great in the process. First impressions count, but if the eyes are the window to the soul, then how do you ensure people see your true colours and help your products or services sell like hotcakes? Here’s my tip: the next time you are buying glasses, don’t forget that a change is as good as a holiday (phew). David Clulow Oxford is the destination store for contemporary designer eyewear and carries all the latest designer spectacle frames and big-brand sunglasses. They differ from other opticians by making fashion and quality the focus, and their business is driven by the belief that it should be a pleasure to choose new glasses, rather than a matter of necessity. To this end, all David Clulow stores are designed to conjure up the feel of a stylish clothing boutique rather than the cold, functional science lab that you may be used to visiting. This approach allows customers to browse freely and enjoy trying on new

styles in a relaxed and stylish environment. With designer glasses from big brands including Chanel, Prada and Armani sitting alongside more quirky, original collections from Alain Mikli or Oliver Peoples, there really is something to suit everyone. They also carry the latest contact lenses from leading brands such as Johnson & Johnson, and once you’ve found a pair that suits you they can be re-ordered easily online. In London, the group is long established, with stores in prestigious locations such as Kensington High Street, the Kings Road, Hampstead, Notting Hill and Canary Wharf. They also have concessions in Harrods and Selfridges as well as a store in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport. For Oxford, however, this was a new experience for the fashion-conscious eyewear shopper and the store has been going from strength to strength since opening in 2005. Store manager and resident optometrist Amy Chung has worked within the David Clulow group for five years and when the opportunity came to open her own joint venture store, Oxford was her location of choice. The store is situated in Golden Cross Court, away from the larger chain stores. This gives it an individual look and also puts a physical distance alongside the philosophical distance they have from the high street. An excellent example of their fundamental difference in approach is their “take home” service, which allows you to take home a pair of glasses to try on in front of friends and family and gauge their reaction. There’s nothing worse than walking into your home with a

new purchase and not getting the reaction you hoped for from your better half. This way, you are not on your own in a shop, feeling pressure to decide without a second opinion. If your wife hates them, I guess they’re going back! You could even do this with customers – walk into a meeting with some new frames and you’ll be able to tell instantly from their reaction whether you should be placing an order at David Clulow. If only we were able to do that with every coat, suit or pair of shoes we bought… This takes me back to first impressions, which – as you all know – are key to building relationships quickly with new prospects. You walk into an introductory meeting in your new specs. The first thing they see is your face. They look you in the eyes to try to work out where you’re coming from. They see someone who is confident and stylish and this reflects instantly on your business. You can tell they are responding well, so you feel good about the meeting from the word go and therefore perform well. You close the deal; they become a client and leave the meeting remembering you as someone they want to deal with again. Can it be that simple? Put your glasses on and look in the mirror. If they’re the same style you’ve been wearing for ten years, or if you’re not really satisfied with what you see, it’s likely that your family and your customers have noticed – so a change has to be worth a try. Contact details on page 58


DISPUTE RESOLUTION No matter how properly you run your business, it is inevitable that you will have dealings with other businesses with whom you have “difficulties�. Sean Hazell at Darbys sheds some light on how best to deal with disputes.


B4 LAW Disputes are an unavoidable fact of business

that lawyers enjoy most is trying to ascertain what the

about why the claim is being brought and the

life. The number and type of disputes will

terms of the actual agreement were. If nothing was

remedy that is being sought. The receiving party is

depend upon the nature of your business; you

expressly agreed, the lawyers have even more fun –

then expected to carefully consider the allegations

may have a “won’t pay” as opposed to a “can’t

usually at the expense of the parties. A simple review

before confirming whether they are accepted or

pay” debtor, you may have arguments over the

of your terms and conditions to check that they

denied and, if relevant, giving an alternative version of

quality of a product or a service rendered, or

achieve the objectives that you want to achieve can

events. Even then, parties are encouraged not to

you may have been expecting the moon

pay dividends in the long run. You should also be

head for the courts but to see if they can resolve their

whereas someone else was offering you the

careful when entering into any sort of agreement to

differences in some other way. The days of lawyers

stars. Whatever the type of dispute, one thing is

make sure that your terms and conditions apply. It is

stonewalling potential claims by simple denials of

sure: disputes are time consuming, sometimes

not unusual for various sets of terms and conditions

liability on their client’s behalf have gone.

expensive and can prevent you from growing

to be flying around via the fax machine before a deal

your business. If they cannot be avoided they

is concluded. It can pay in the long run to be

Of the various methods recommended for resolving

should be kept in proportion as far as possible.

absolutely clear which terms and conditions apply.

matters outside court, the most popular is mediation.

This is important since, if you have terms and

It is a consensual process that cannot be imposed on

There will, of course, be some disputes that will

conditions that clearly apply, you will be able to not

any party against their will. The parties have to agree

always arise. That is probably human nature. A debtor

only put pressure on the other party in any

on the identity of a mediator. Once appointed, he will

who cannot pay as he has no money and no means

discussions but also show a court that you are in the

try and find common ground by talking to the parties

of raising money will always be around. A customer

right if matters reach that stage.

in confidence. He will not decide the rights and wrongs of the case. Anything you say at mediation will

with totally unreasonable expectations or an inability to accurately recall what was originally agreed will

So, a proactive approach and general housekeeping

be “off the record” so that you will not be bound by

always be there until mankind evolves to a higher

can help. Despite this, disputes will always arise that

it if settlement is not resolved. You will, however, be

level. It is difficult to do anything about these sorts of

cannot be settled promptly and which will require

bound if a settlement is reached. The mediator will

problems, but that is not to say that there is nothing

further time and outside help. You might think that

normally prepare a note of the agreement, which the

that you can do to protect your business if and when

the only place where such a dispute can go is to

parties will then sign. If one party then reneges on his

disputes arise.

court, with all that that entails. This is no longer the

obligations under that agreement, the other party can

case. If that comes as a surprise, consider the passage

issue a court claim to enforce it.

Some simple steps can be taken. The most obvious

below: The beauty of mediation is that the parties can be as

is effective and prompt communication. It is human nature to feel defensive if your competence and

The Courts take the view that litigation should be a

flexible as they wish. If agreement is reached it can

ability are under attack, whether expressed or implied.

last resort, and that claims should not be issued

incorporate whatever terms the parties wish. It can be

Allowing these sorts of feelings to become

prematurely when a settlement is still actively being

a useful way of rebuilding bridges or re-establishing

paramount will make matters worse in the long run.

explored. Parties are warned that if this paragraph is

business relationships that might otherwise have

As soon as a problem arises, speak openly and

not followed then the Court must have regard to

been lost. Even if agreement does not result it can

sincerely to the other party. If you show that you are

such conduct when determining costs.

help the parties re-evaluate their positions. It is not unknown for the penny to drop in the mind of a party

genuinely listening and trying to be pragmatic, you will often find that the other person reciprocates. This

This is taken from the website of the Department of

after an unsuccessful mediation. That in itself can

may sound obvious, but I have seen many cases

Constitutional Affairs (previously known as The Lord

help to resolve the underlying dispute.

where the first sign of any discord leads the parties to

Chancellor’s Department) and is to be found in a

adopt entrenched positions from which the main

specific practice direction dealing with what is known

Being in business and having to deal with disputes

beneficiaries are normally the lawyers at a later date.

as pre-action protocols. It goes on to summarise

may go together like love and marriage or a horse and

You should always be prepared to give something in

some of the options for settling disputes without

carriage, but the change in emphasis set out in the

your discussions at this stage, on the basis that this


protocol practice direction, plus some basic housekeeping on your part, should help ensure that

might save you in the long run from having to invest additional financial and non-financial assets to try and

• Discussion and negotiation

the wheels will not come off this particular carriage:

resolve the matter.

• Early neutral evaluation by an independent third

namely, your business.

party There is also some basic housekeeping that can be

• Mediation – a form of facilitated negotiation

done where your own procedures are concerned. You

assisted by an independent mutual party.

Contact details on page 58

should be clear as to who you make any agreements with. So often, I come across clients who do not know

A glimpse at the DCA’s website will lead you to the

whether they have contracted with a limited

specific protocols that have been introduced for



particular types of dispute. At present they cover

unincorporated partnership or an individual using a

matters such as construction and engineering claims,

trading name. Depending upon the nature of your

professional negligence, personal injury and housing

business and the size of your potential exposure, you

disrepair, but the practice direction (from which the

might want to make further enquiries about a

above quotes were taken) makes it clear that the

potential customer or supplier before entering into

parties to any type of dispute are expected to comply

any agreement with them. In an extreme case, you

with the spirit of these protocols before resorting to

might want to consider a personal guarantee from the

the courts.





directors of a limited company. The protocols themselves are fairly straightforward. In You should also review your terms and conditions, if

essence, they require the party bringing the claim to

appropriate. When disputes arise, one of the things

give the other party as much information as he can


B4 WEDDINGS Despite all that Oxfordshire has going for it, the wedding business is competitive, and Oxfordshire faces stiff competition in maintaining the current level of weddings and attracting new business. Jacquie Bugeja spoke to B4 about the work Oxfordshire County Council is doing to maintain Oxfordshire’s position as one of the UK’s top wedding destinations. “Where else could you choose between a fairy tale palace, a former prison, a college steeped in history, a barge, a Doric temple or a bandstand?” comments Jacquie Bugeja, Head of Registration at Oxfordshire County Council. Having worked through the ranks, Jacquie took charge of the entire Registration Service in January this year and oversees eight county council registration offices and around 80 other “approved venues”. Jacquie is fiercely proud of the service she heads and demonstrates her desire to promote Oxfordshire in its best light. “It is our duty,” states Jacquie, who goes on

to explain how Oxfordshire is striving to maintain itself as “THE place to marry”. In the early 1970s, the number of marriages in the UK totalled well over 400,000 per year. In 2005, the figure was 283,730 – the lowest number of marriages since 1896 (source: Office of National Statistics). The wedding business is estimated by Jacquie as being worth over £60 million to Oxfordshire, based on around 2,500 civil weddings in the county per annum, costing £25,000 each on average. So there is a concerted effort by Jacquie and her team to maintain this level of spend and encourage more couples to “get hitched” in Oxfordshire, despite the context of a drop in the overall number of UK weddings per annum. But the team and the venues they so resolutely promote are up against it. “If only we could influence the weather,” concedes Jacquie, “we would have a clear run, but there is no doubt that the prospect of marrying on a guaranteed sunny day is becoming increasingly attractive to couples. We have a presence

at wedding fairs such as Olympia and we are coming across increasing numbers of couples who are going abroad for their big day.” In 2005, approximately one fifth of all UK brides and grooms tied the knot overseas and approximately 1.3 million Brits were guests at an overseas wedding. This trend is compounded by the changing age profile of couples. Burning bras and career women have contributed to the average age of a couple marrying in 2005 reaching 36.1 compared to 25.9 in 1968, a fact made all the more remarkable in the context of an increasing population. So what steps are Jacquie and her team taking to attract couples to Oxfordshire? “First and foremost we have to maintain the high standard of the product – we have an excellent reputation for providing a first-class service throughout our approved venues, and this can only raise the profile of Oxfordshire. Every wedding staged in Oxfordshire is a showcase for the budding brides and grooms who attend weddings as guests, and we go to great lengths to

OXFORDSHIRE: THE PLACE TO MARRY As the title of Oxfordshire County Council’s impressive wedding brochure suggests, it goes without saying that Oxfordshire has more than its fair share of top-quality venues to stage arguably the biggest day of anyone’s life. Not only are the venues excellent, but they are also unusual.



Oxfordshire County Council provide an excellent wedding planning service on line at A pdf of the excellent “Oxfordshire, The Place to Marry” (see thumbnail below), can also be found which is packed full of useful information and contact details for all of the approved wedding venues in Oxfordshire. There are also 360 degree tours of all eight registration offices across the county, including the magnificent Dexter Room (licensed for 50 people), in the

make sure our venues are maintaining high standards. If all that is out of our control is the weather, then we stand a great chance of making the day perfect, as we have so much confidence in our venues. “Secondly, we have to promote Oxfordshire. Our brochure and website have been radically improved and are the envy of other registration services.” (The brochure can be seen online at registration) “The county council are promoting ‘plan your wedding online’, and all the information you could ever need is available on this site.” The service’s dedication to their task was recognised at last year’s Oxfordshire Business Awards, where they won the Customer and Staff Care Award. Jacquie continues, “As we are exposed to losing weddings abroad, we have to strive to attract weddings to Oxfordshire for couples who have no links with Oxfordshire but regard it as a great place to come. On average 25% of weddings in Oxfordshire involve wholly non-Oxfordshire couples and we have to aim to increase this proportion.” But don’t get lost in confetti and cake; the Registration Service is commercial but covers all requirements, from a simple £75 wedding in their very own Dexter Room (see this feature for more details) to a wedding for 200 at one

of the larger venues. Jacquie concludes, “We want couples to marry in Oxfordshire as we have the venues, big or small, to guarantee you an unforgettable experience … just keep your fingers crossed for a sunny day.” Top 10 wedding venues in Oxfordshire 1. The Bay Tree, 2. Le Manoir, 3. Weston Manor, 4. Lains Barn, 5. Woodstock Town Hall, 6. Oxford Thames Four Pillars (Sandford), 7. Tythe Barn, 8. The Springs, 9. Eynsham Hall and 10. Hawkwell House Hotel

Oxford City Centre register office, based at Tidmarsh Lane. The Dexter Room is in a Victorian building built in the late 19th century, and has oak panelled walls and stained glass windows. It provides any couple with the most wonderful venue and is perfectly placed in the heart of Oxford for post wedding celebrations. Car parking can be found directly opposite, which is a massive attraction for any venue in the centre of Oxford.

Did you know? 15,500 gay and lesbian couples registered civil partnerships in first nine months after new legislation was introduced in December 2005. The Government originally predicted that there would be 22,000 partnerships by 2010 – this is likely to be a significant underestimation. Jacquie Bugeja CV: Jacquie’s main background was in banking for 15 years and also marketing. She started in the Registration Service 11 years ago as a part-time registrar and is now Head of Service. As the proper Officer for Oxfordshire, she has total legal responsibility for the Registration Service. Jacquie is married to John, a Director at RBS in the City, and they have two children. Contact details on page 58


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WITHOUT A HITCH Fast gaining a reputation as one of England’s finest exclusive wedding venues, the Bay Tree Hotel in Burford offers couples arguably the perfect home-from-home venue. Wedding coordinator Maureen Davis invited B4 to find out more about this charming 16th century Cotswold country house and how the perfect plan becomes a reality. On a sunny but fresh April day, although it is too early to expect the hotel to be full of life, the open fires in the library are roaring, ready to welcome guests whenever they choose to arrive. The feel is overwhelmingly cosy and friendly, the sort of place where you are instantly at home. That’s why the Bay Tree will host in excess of 75 weddings this year, a large number of which will have exclusive use of the whole property, as Maureen explains: “The exclusive use of our venue is a key to our success. We close the hotel to outside guests from lunchtime on the day of the wedding through to just after breakfast the day after. Couples book us because they can appreciate the ‘house party’ feel which the venue affords all of our wedding parties. “Although Monday to Friday we are a ‘normal’ hotel also catering for conferences, we are known as a wedding venue and our season has expanded from May to September to all year round. Christmas weddings are becoming increasingly popular and we offer as picturesque a venue for winter weddings as we do for summer events in our beautiful gardens.” The hotel has two rooms licensed to hold civil wedding ceremonies. The Hawthorne Room can hold up to 12 people, while the Conservatory can seat 60.

Three rooms are available for the wedding breakfast: the Hawthorne Room seats up to 10 guests, the Conservatory up to 40 and the Bay Tree Restaurant up to 80. Up to 140 guests can attend a traditional evening event (for example with a buffet and dancing), and the 21 individually designed bedrooms can accommodate a fair proportion of the guests. Once the country home of Sir Lawrence Tanfield, Chief Baron of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth I, the hotel is steeped in history and tradition. Many original features contribute to its authenticity of character – a high rafted hall with galleried stairs, oak-panelled rooms, huge stone fireplaces, tapestries and flagstone floors. The secluded walled garden is perfect for a summer evening stroll, while the cosy library is an ideal venue in less clement weather for afternoon tea before a roaring log fire. As important as the venue is the team which makes the hotel tick and which provides any couple with as near a cast iron guarantee as they will get anywhere that their big day will run smoothly. Maureen herself has been at the Bay Tree for seven years, having previously developed her wedding coordinator skills at Puckrup Hall in Tewkesbury. She will take care of everything from the initial appointment to view the hotel to the details of the day, assisting with external suppliers if required, although there is no pressure to book any services other than the hotel’s facilities (actual venue and catering). On the day itself, guests are looked after by General Manager Simon Foster, a recent appointment to the hotel but previously at one of the hotel’s sister venues, the Broadway. Head Chef Brian Andrews and

Reception Manager Caroline Williams share seven years’ experience. Michael Kohl is the Hotel Deputy and Barbara Czykieta is Assistant Manager. The team is driven from the top, where owners Pamela and Michael Horton take a very keen interest in maintaining the high standards of all six hotels in the Cotswold Inns and Hotels group – the others being the Broadway Hotel in Broadway, the Swan Hotel in Bibury, the Lamb Inn at Burford, the Manor House Hotel at Moreton-in-Marsh and the Bear of Rodborough Hotel near Stroud. All of the bedrooms have been individually designed by Pamela Horton to a very high specification. This team is a vital ingredient in making the Bay Tree a success. It is part of the attraction for any bride and groom that the people behind the scenes know what goes into organising any wedding without a hitch. Maureen explains: “We are very flexible and lots of couples will come in and have tastings with the chef beforehand. We also use local suppliers, for example Lighthorne Lamb from Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxford Blue Cheese and locally reared beef.” The venue is a well-oiled machine, but a machine which retains the personal touch, as Maureen reaffirms: “People get very involved – it is a family occasion even before the wedding day. We have a good habit of making couples feel very special and welcome. We are a team and we enjoy what we do, making couples feel that we have gone out of our way for them.”

Contact details and photo credit on page 58



How does a football club go about improving their business whilst maintaining their corporate and social responsibilities in the community? Simple: they go back to grass roots. Kelvin Thomas and Owen McGovern from Oxford United explain all to Mark Reynolds.

Since Oxford were relegated to the Conference, their average gate receipts have increased by over 30% and they have sold over a thousand more season tickets. How is that possible? “It’s happened because we have given the football club back to the community,” says Kelvin Thomas (Managing Director). “We have focused on our youth and community programmes and got the public involved in the club again.” This ethos sounds simple enough, but it has taken a huge amount of work from Kelvin and his team to achieve it, and Owen McGovern has big plans for continuing in this direction. Peers School in Oxford has just come out of special measures, and the Head Teacher there is determined to continue the increase in standards and work hard to keep our city’s young people involved in education for as long as possible. There is a big problem nationally with engagement in post-16 education for certain groups of our society. The young players that are not interested in the traditional route of A levels followed by university need to be given a new set of opportunities for learning and development, and Owen is working on a pioneering partnership between OUFC and Peers to deliver exactly that. They already run an after-school football club at the school, but with Peers becoming our first City Academy they are planning to launch a new BTEC course to start in September 2008. Owen McGovern explains: “Together we are developing an educational program for a class of 25 boys. It will not just be open to Peers pupils, but to anyone in the city. It’s really about capturing the


imagination of young players in Oxford who usually would not be engaged with education after the age of 16.” The boys will be trained by Oxford’s football coaches, but will also work towards a BTEC in Sports Science and Sports Management. They will get practical experience of how a football club is managed through the school’s links with a professional football club. “It’s a new thing for us, but something which is very exciting,” says Owen. “As well as football trials we will also be putting them through an interview process, so we know that they are prepared to put the work in.” If the scheme is successful, they will launch a similar course for girls in 2009. Girls’ football in the county has already benefited from the involvement of the Oxford Mail, and the newspaper’s relationship with the local football club really benefits both parties. “The Mail sponsor a FITC (Football In The Community) scheme for the development of grass roots girls’ football,” says Owen, “so they have already helped a large number of schools and clubs.” As a business they are happy because a lot of their readers are United fans, and they are also able to use this relationship to attract advertising revenue from other local companies. I asked Owen how a business that wanted to help their community through football might get involved. “We have a social responsibility as a football club and we need support from local businesses to make that happen. As partners, we can develop a positive relationship that gives the sponsoring businesses a real win-win. They get to work with the community and do their bit, but also from a commercial point of

view they get all the benefits of being involved with a football club.” For around £2,000, for example, you can sponsor one of the club’s youth teams, and as well as getting your name on the shirts, you also get matchday advertising and a corporate hospitality package that is great for entertaining clients. The club is also looking for backers for a new style of youth development centre, which would be offered free to the local community. “We really want to develop two groups,” says Owen, “the ones who are too young to play for an Oxford United youth side, and the ones we release because they’re not quite good enough at the time. It’s impossible for a football club to spot every last bit of talent that comes through its doors, so it would be nice to have somewhere we could send people if they don’t make the squad of 15 at the end of a season.” With the English game often being criticised for buying in too much foreign talent, it is this type of youth development centre that will bring us the young players we need for the future. Imagine how it would feel if your business was involved in the development centre which discovered the next Wayne Rooney (or should I say the next Dean Whitehead?). I was inspired, talking to Owen, and realised how true partnerships between businesses, schools and the local community can really improve the life chances of young people in this country at the same time as delivering real tangible benefits to all involved. For more information about how your business could get involved, contact Owen McGovern. Contact details on page 58


System successes: From top to bottom and left to right: Jamie Brooks, formerly OUFC, now playing for Didcot Town; Dean Whitehead, formerly OUFC, now captain of Championship side Sunderland; Declan Benjamin has come through the ranks of OUFC and is on the fringe of the first team, Simon King, formerly OUFC, now at 2nd Division Barnet; Eddie Anaclet, like Declan, has come through the ranks and is now a first team regular at OUFC; Chris Hackett, formerly OUFC, now starring for First Division Millwall; and finally Sam Ricketts, formerly OUFC, now starring with Championship side Hull City and a regular Welsh international.


STL IP Technology Seminar Wednesday 27th June 2007 To be held at Honda Racing F1, Brackley For more information regarding the seminar or IP telephony from STL and how it can help your business, please contact Simon Ryan on 01993 777121 or



Mark Reynolds find out how the new look Oxford Radcliffe manages to offer exceptional private healthcare that represents good value for money whilst going easy on your moral conscience and public spirit at the same time. The NHS, like all public bodies, is going through major changes. The Radcliffe, where I’m sure most of you have been for both happy and sad experiences, has found itself having to respond. The obvious thing that I’ve noticed is that when you drive into the site where my two sons were both born, you are greeted by a spectacular new building which houses the new Children’s Hospital. What is happening inside is a much less obvious change, but arguably something that in the long term is a lot more significant. Matthew Chobbah works as a business manager for Oxford Radcliffe Private Healthcare. He is employed by the NHS, and ultimately his job is to provide a revenue stream that can be used to support the provision and development of NHS services. For businesses or individuals who are considering using private healthcare, this means that they can now experience the highest levels of care within the shortest timescales, in the knowledge that their money is going back into providing good quality services for people who are not as fortunate. So why would you use the Radcliffe when you could choose to receive your treatment in a smaller and totally private hospital? If you have used private healthcare in the past you will understand that most private hospitals do not have all of the skills, experience and equipment in-house to deal with

every situation. When things go wrong in any of the region’s private hospitals, patients get transferred to the Oxford Radcliffe as the ultimate place for effective and high quality care and treatment. Therefore the sensible patient saves themself the two trips by opting initially for the place that can offer them the best standards of clinical care. The specialist support services at the Radcliffe are not within easy reach from all the private independent hospitals, so for someone who is seriously ill, being moved from somewhere else in the county to the Radcliffe is an unnecessary journey at a time when they really don’t need one. So what about the facilities? Five years ago there may have been too much of a gap between the Radcliffe and a private hospital, but now the Radcliffe is able to offer higher standards than many of its “competitors”. The site is now truly state-of-the-art with the new West Wing and of course the Children’s Hospital is amongst the best in the country. If a patient’s relative needs to stay in the hospital, they can have a two-bed en-suite room in the West Wing and, better still, they will not have to pay for it as it is all covered by the McDonald’s foundation. You simply cannot get this in an independent private hospital. As for the patients’ rooms themselves, they all have en-suite bathrooms, Sky TV, private phones and internet connections. So if service and quality of care are your highest priorities, then the Radcliffe can now offer both the best facilities and the best medical care: it truly has the

competitive advantage. For those among us who are worried about the moral and social issues regarding the use of private healthcare, using an NHS hospital provides a new option, which was never available before. Yes, private consultants have used NHS hospitals in the past, because they wanted to benefit from the facilities that were not available in private independent hospitals. However, the end result was simply a richer private consultant and not a contribution to the greater good. By paying for your treatment or by using your medical insurance at the Radcliffe, you are actually supporting your local NHS hospital to help improve existing services and provide other services for which public funding is not available. The Radcliffe does not have to worry about making profits for any shareholders, and so every penny that it receives goes into the local NHS funding pool to pay for improvements and services that would otherwise have been stopped. My parents were NHS GPs for nearly 30 years, so I must confess I was naturally sceptical before speaking to Matthew and learning more about what is going on in Oxford’s largest hospital. Having found out more, I would urge you all to consider private healthcare at the Radcliffe. It costs less than you think, gives you the best care and facilities, and also helps the NHS to continue delivering those vital public services. Contact details on page 58



NEW MAN IN THE HOUSE B4 meets Malmaison’s new number one, Stephen Woodhouse, at the “house of ill repute” and finds out how the team will play a vital role in the future success of one of Oxfordshire’s finest hotels. Stephen lives in Worcester with his seven-year-

was part of the opening team at Oxford and worked

in each of the hotels, from each team member right

old son Jake, who is mad about rugby. Stephen

previously at Birmingham Mal as sous-chef. He spent

through to the main board, but equally important is

was introduced to Malmaison last year and

four years in Australia and two years at the

the guest experience and making the stay at Mal as

liked what he saw. Let’s face it, as anyone who

establishment under Matt Fleming, 18 months at

pleasurable as possible. As Malmaison's Group Chief

has been to the hotel in Oxford would agree,

Banc with Liam Tomlin and also two years at the

Executive Robert Cook stressed in B4 Issue 3, a hotel

it’s got style, it’s sexy, it’s classy and you can’t

Canteen (Chelsea Harbour) where Ray Brown was

stay is often begrudged by corporate guests having to

help thinking that if you had to manage a hotel,

Head Chef and Gordon Ramsay was Consultant Chef.

stay away from home, and Stephen underlines that

Malmaison Oxford would be pretty close to the

Malmaison goes out of its way to soften the blow.

top of the wish list. With all that is good about

“Russell is passionate about team development and

Malmaison Oxford, not least the fact that it is

food to the point of ‘how it’s grown and where it is

“It is all about the bedroom experience, the dining

regarded as the group’s flagship hotel, finding

grown’ and is an expert at getting the best fresh

experience - the whole stay has to be an experience.



flavours possible using only foods which will

When I have guests over at home, I like to play the

unquestionably a top priority. So what made

complement each other. He also loves sourcing and

host, make them feel relaxed and at home. Mobile

Stephen, as described in the invitations to his

eating cheese and was Malmaison’s top chef at our

phones and laptops are a fact of life now - we are

welcome party, the right “governor” for the job?

annual 2006 ‘corkers’ awards.

never far from our ‘office’ - but it is important to have

“The opportunity arose for me to return to a job at

“Steven is also a Mal diehard, with a keen focus on

detach ourselves from our work. So, when I entertain,

Malmaison Oxford that allowed me to focus once

the team and its development, and with a pride in the

I encourage guests to leave the gadgets at the door,

again on my passion of good old-fashioned

presentation of fantastic food, service and the wine

and that’s our approach at Mal. We are aware that

hospitality. I relish being given the chance to manage

with a cellar stretching to 300 different bins. He

guests have to work, but we want to help them switch

a hotel whose restaurant only uses fresh and where

really works hard at the ‘guest journey’ and ensures

off and relax.

possible locally grown produce. The hotel offers

that the overall guest experience is unforgettable.

unique bedrooms with furnishings that are pure

Steven also has a degree in art which he uses to the

“We have tried to create an inviting and comfortable


full in food presentation and service delivery. He was

environment, a place where you can switch off and

another ‘corkers’ award winner in 2006 when he

have fun, laugh, enjoy your partner’s company or just

claimed the coveted Malmaison Manager of the Year.”

unwind by yourself after a hard day’s work. We want







some dividing lines; otherwise we will never 100%

The team is vitally important to Stephen, and in Head

our guests to leave with a smile on their face and be

Chef Russell Heeley and Brasserie and Bar Manager Steven Hodgkinson, he has two trusted allies. “Russell


The importance of the team is a theme which prevails

thinking about their next stay with us. We want our

corporate guests to leave with a spring in their step –

places to visit, and we have to be ready to deliver.”

what better advert for the hotel than a high-flying employee who has got a good night’s sleep under their

The Malmaison experience is certainly something to

belt and delivering the goods the next day?

savour. The attention to detail with regards to the local fresh ingredients, bringing the tastes of the region alive

“The whole experience of being with Mal has had a

for any guest is a key factor and one which will be

similar impact on the ‘working me’. It has reinvigorated

developed. The only way to fully appreciate what one

and refocused me as a person. When I came to see the

thousand words cannot describe is by booking a table or

‘product’ for my interview, I was wowed like everyone

a room – or why not go the whole hog and hire the

else. I first saw the hotel in a brochure when I was

terrace for a summer party, just as we did for the launch

staying in Dubai and was knocked out by it. The

of B4. There is nothing better than a hazy summer’s night

Operations Director, Nick Gamble, gave me a great

in Oxford on the roof terrace of one of Oxford’s most

insight into the Malmaison philosophy, as did the rest of

prestigious addresses. Rounded off with dinner in one of

the team – they were all very like-minded.

the private rooms and a stay in a luxurious bedroom. I’d challenge you to dream up a better night in Oxford.

“I had been looking for a new challenge for a year, and it was very important that wherever I went, the people

Stephen sums up his remit and what Mal is all about:

believed in what I believed in – the development of the

“Mal is about people development, youth, freshness,

team and giving the customer as much as we could

helping the environment, and the fact that we are all very

through the tools and resources at our disposal. Getting

passionate about what we do and that we are very

to deal with local, fresh ingredients is an example of this

delighted to be in Oxford. We do support the local

– not being straight-jacketed into using fixed suppliers.”

community and want Oxford people to feel welcome.

(See the selection of local suppliers highlighted in the

The restaurant, with its excellent food and superb service,

right column).

enjoys a great reputation already. We are now ready to push ahead with the next phase of the hotel’s

“Being very much a part of the local community and

development, and I couldn’t be more excited to be at the

tourism industry and getting involved in as much as we


can locally, like the Oxford Children’s Hospital and Luminox, are important examples of how we can firmly establish ourselves locally. We also have to establish ourselves internationally. Let’s be clear: any tourist visiting the UK will have Oxford on their list in their top three

Contact details on page 58

K EEPING IT LOCAL Field Farms from Appleton supply their own fantastic beef and lamb direct Malmaison dishes: Steak frites, T bone, entrecote, rump of lamb with braised lentils, chateaubriand and local chicken and pork used in the delicious ham hock and parsley sauce. The Oxford Cheese Company, Covered Market Malmaison dishes: All cheese including the Oxford Blue and Oxford Isis and Oxford brown sauce. Kingston Fruiterers based in Oxford Malmaison dishes: Superb vegetables, wild mushrooms with herb potato pancakes, wild salmon and sprouting broccoli and rhubarb tart fin. Water Perry Gardens based in Wheatley Malmaison dishes: Fantastic fruit with a selection of over fifty different apples, baked apples with rum and raison ice cream and apple tart, apple sorbets. Campbell environment oils, Stow on the Wold Malmaison dishes: Rape seed oil – such a versatile product for dressing, dips and cooking.



Thursday 21 June 2007, 3p.m. to 7p.m., The Oxford Conference Centre The B4 Business Advice Forum was the brainchild of Tony Haines, Partner at Wenn Townsend. “We have previously been involved in similar initiatives, but they have not had the staying power because there was nobody independent to drive the events,” commented Tony. “However with the added exposure B4 brings to the table, we are all sure this will be a success, and we hope it will expand to bring in other organisations to assist businesses - both new and existing.” Indeed, since the original band of five came to the table (Darbys Solicitors, Wenn Townsend, Barclays, Focus Financial Services and B4) there have already been three additions, with B-Line office supplies, Jennings of Garsington and Customers Really Matter adding to the line-up. The focus is on giving informal advice to new and existing businesses, very much a business guide to tackling specific subjects. Hopefully the seeds of a working relationship have been sown and that will make the Forum worthwhile. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Lund-Yates of the Oxford Conference Centre for generously hosting the event. For full details of the event, see page 33.

Don’t you wish that just once in a while – just once would be great – you could find the answers to your questions without having to worry about incurring expensive professional fees? Or perhaps you would like a clearer, better understanding of a particular area without having to spend time trawling the literature or the internet and wondering how up to date that information might be?

ask us the question to find out the facts. We say “necessarily” because we realise that a greater understanding of a subject often leads one to pose more questions. Anyway, there is free advice on the following topics just a mouse click away.

You might be surprised to find that we at Wenn Townsend understand that not all of our clients have the time to spend researching issues that might be critical to their business. We also understand that, whilst we work closely with our clients, it is as important to them to have access to advice which is conveniently available, up to date and easy to assimilate. You don’t even have to be a client to benefit from this free advice. All you need to do is spend a moment or two at If you click on “information” and then “Request free information”, you will find 37 different topics to choose from (listed below). You won’t even have to necessarily



Taxation of the family

Stakeholder and personal pensions

Charitable giving

Occupational Pension Schemes: trustees responsibilities

Enterprise investment scheme


Tax aspects of property investment

Ecommerce – the jargon de-mystified


Internet and email access – acceptable user policy statement for employees

IR35 Personal Service Companies


Corporation tax self assessment

The national minimum wage

Quarterly instalments

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Tax saving opportunities for companies

Dismissal procedures

Value added tax (VAT)

Recruitment procedures


Redundancy procedures



Employment issues

Raising finance

Travel and subsistence for directors and employees

Starting up in business

Benefits in kind

Directors responsibilities

Company cars

Preparing for your accountant

National Insurance

The role of the company secretary

Share ownership for employees – EMI



Charities: Trustees responsibilities

Use of trusts

High value dealers

Capital Gains Tax – Taper relief

Limited liability partnerships

Inheritance Tax



TAX CALENDAR April 2007 February 6th Saturday 14th Thursday 19th May 2007 Thursday 3rd Saturday 19th

Start of 2007/2008 tax year. Deadline for submission of forms CT61 and payment of any associated income tax for the quarter ended 31 March 2007. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 April 2007, including any due on deemed salaries under the IR35 rules. Quarterly PAYE and NIC due for the quarter ended 5 April 2007 for qualifying small employers.

Thursday 31st

Submission date for forms P46 (Car) for changes during the quarter ended 5 April 2007 to car and fuel benefits provided to employees. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 May 2007. Final submission date for employers’ year end returns (forms P35 and P24) for the year ended 5 April 2007. Final submission date for contractors’ year end returns (form CIS 36) for the year ended 5 April 2007. Employers to provide employees with forms P60 (year end summaries) for the year ended 5 April 2007.

June 2007 Tuesday 19th

PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 June 2007.

July 2007 Thursday 5th Friday 6th

Saturday 14th Thursday 19th

Tuesday 31st

August 2007 Thursday 2nd Sunday 29th September 2007 Wednesday 19th Sunday 30th October 2007 Friday 5th Sunday 14th Friday 19th

Final date for agreement of 2006/2007 PAYE Settlement Agreements. Final submission date for returns of expenses and benefits (forms P11D and P9D) for the year ended 5 April 2007. Relevant employees to be provided with copies of forms P11D and P9D. Submission date for annual share scheme returns (form 42) for the year ended 5 April 2008. Deadline for submission of forms CT61 and payment of any associated income tax for the quarter ended 30 June 2007. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 July 2007. Quarterly PAYE and NIC due for the quarter ended 5 July 2007 for qualifying small employers. Due dates for payment of Class 1A NIC arising on relevant benefits in kind for the year ended 5 April 2007. Second payment on account due in respect of 2006/2007 personal tax. Second penalty of £100 applied where 2006 self-assessment tax return has not yet been submitted. Second 5% surcharge applied where 2005/2006 tax has not been settled in full by this date. Submission date for forms P46 (Car) for changes during the quarter ended 5 July 2007 to car or fuel benefits provided to employees. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 August 2007.

PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 September 2007. Filing date for 2007 self-assessment tax returns where H M Revenue & Customs are to calculate the liability, or where there is an underpayment of less than £2,000 to be collected via the PAYE tax code. Deadline for notifying H M revenue & customs of chargeability to income or capital gains tax for the year ended 5 April 2007. Deadline for submission of forms CT61 and payment of any associated income tax for the quarter ended 30 September 2007. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 October 2007. Quarterly PAYE and NIC due for the quarter ended 5 October 2007 for qualifying small employers. Due date for payment of tax and class 1B NIC arising under PAYE Settlement Agreement for the year ended 5 April 2007.

November 2007 Friday 2nd Monday 19th

Submission date for forms P46 (Car) for changes during the quarter ended 5 October 2007 to car or fuel benefits provided to employees. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 November 2007.

December 2007 Wednesday 19th

PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 December 2007.

January 2008 Monday 14th Saturday 19th Thursday 31st

Deadline for submission of forms CT61 and payment of any associated income tax for the quarter ended 31 December 2007. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 January 2008. Quarterly PAYE and NIC due for the quarter ended 5 January 2008 for qualifying small employers. Final submission date for 2007 self-assessment tax returns (where these were issued by 31 October 2007). Balancing payment due for 2006/2007 personal tax. First payment on account due in respect of 2007/2008 personal tax.

February 2008 Friday 1st Saturday 2nd Saturday 19th Monday 28th

Penalty charged where 2007 self-assessment tax return was not filed on time. Submission date for forms P46 (Car) for changes during the quarter ended 5 January 2008 to car or fuel benefits provided to employees. PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 February 2008. 5% surcharge applied where 2006/2007 tax has not been settled in full by this date.

March 2008 Wednesday 19th

PAYE and NIC due for the month ended 5 March 2008.


B4 MONEY As we become more demanding in all areas of our lives and more knowledgeable (thanks to information being more widely available both on and off-line), it is inevitable that this increased level of expectation extends to our banking relationships. As businesses examine costs at all levels to improve profitability, the support of a good bank is paramount, especially for new businesses, which increase in number year on year. Overall figures show that the number of start-ups during 2006 rose by 12 per cent compared to 2005. The 435,300 new firms established last year brought the start-up market back close to its peaks of 2003-2004 (454,000) after a subdued 2005. So, what are these new businesses – and existing businesses – looking for, and expecting, from their banks? Recent research conducted by Barclays Business Banking shows that, fundamentally, a sound relationship is core to the ideal banking offering for their customers. This is facilitated by a relationship manager and it is very much about customers feeling that their bank as a whole cares about their business. It’s about the bank demonstrably helping the business to succeed, by listening, understanding, acting supportively and focusing on meeting the needs of their customer. So what should you be able to expect from your bank and how can it help you? Ultimately, the features that businesses say that they want from their business bank fall under three headings: Communication, Service (including value for money) and Product. Suppliers of financial services can fall into the trap of focusing on product as the easiest way to satisfy customer needs;

however, this is often at the cost of the “softer” elements that a bank might offer, such as communication. It may surprise some to discover that these customers would actually prefer to see improvements first in communication, followed by service and lastly product. Whilst products and day-to-day processing are important, they are considered more of a hygiene factor, and generally customers are happy with the performance of banks in this area. Service and communication are attributes which differentiate a good SME bank from a poor SME bank. Poor communication, for whatever reason, can cause widespread disappointment and frustration. This is backed up by the results of a regular Barclays survey, in which SME business customers consistently say that their priority in choosing and maintaining a bank relationship is largely governed by the role played by their relationship manager. There is a sense that customers are hankering for a return to the “good old days”, when they had a relationship manager who knew them as individuals, who had autonomy and the expertise required to really add value to their business. With the introduction of automated systems and modern banking techniques, in some cases, the old fundamentals of the relationship may have fallen away. What’s important to customers is that their bank treats them as individuals and gives them the time and attention they need as well as offering a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. So how are banks adapting to meet these needs? There is much more focus on the customer’s agenda.

Customer preferences across all aspects of the banking relationship vary significantly in terms of preferred communication channels, expected response times and what type of relationship manager is required. The better banks are now contacting their customers to ask them how they want their relationship to work and, on the back of this, providing each customer with an informal service agreement. This is of benefit to both customer and bank. It means that the customer gets the service they want and the relationship manager can arrange to give each customer the time they really need, thus becoming far more time-efficient and effective. The quality of relationship managers offered by business banks is extremely important to the customer and can vary enormously. Barclays Business Banking research shows that all the main banks have some customers who feel that they do not have access to the main decision-maker. So how can you find out how good your relationship manager is from the outset? Experience is one measure of quality. For example, Barclays Business Banking, internal statistics indicate that their relationship managers have an average of 20 years’ financial experience each. Equally, though, training and expertise can count for a lot. Banks must invest heavily in both the induction training and continued development throughout the relationship manager’s career. At Barclays, each of their relationship managers does a minimum of 50 hours of Continued Professional Development per year. The most forward-thinking banks have developed

THE RIGHT BANK Jayne Woodley of Barclays Business Banking in Oxford is proud of the team’s track record in attracting new customers, but more recently, this activity has stepped up a level, proving to Jayne and her colleagues that the message is getting across. Barclays knows how to look after its customers and is providing a first-class banking solution to retain and attract new customers. B4 find out more about what makes a good banking partner and how much you can expect to lean on your bank.



C USTOMERS Hodsons Solicitors “Hodsons are an unusual firm as we are combined estate agents and solicitors. We moved to Barclays as we were unhappy with the level of service we were receiving from our previous bankers. We have found the team at Barclays to be helpful, approachable, understanding of our needs and requirements and good to do business with. We have found the move to be extremely beneficial to our business and this has helped us to expand and develop. We have four offices in Abindgon, Bicester, Didcot and Wantage and employ 120 people.” Geraldine McTier Partner Hodsons Solicitors Abingdon Head Office

Heyfordian Travel & Tappins Coaches “In a competitive world, Barclays Bank is accessible and responsive to our business needs. On our recent acquisition of Tappins Coaches, Jayne Woodley saw the synergies between the two companies and backed us to the hilt. We are confident of moving on to further challenges with the Banks support.” new ways of adding value to their customers in areas outside the traditional definition of banking, seeking to address customers’ needs over and beyond core banking products. You might be surprised by the breadth of services offered by the best banks. Here are just a few areas in which banks can offer something you might not have previously considered: Advice and Information • Some banks will carry out a review of your working practices and provide you with recommendations to deliver savings or increase profitability. • Many business banking managers have an enormous amount of business knowledge – about specific industry areas, local markets and developments, and much more. Are you accessing this for your benefit? • Banks often produce useful market and financial information for their customers. Networking • Good relationship managers maintain a wide network of contacts and can often introduce you to potential new business contacts. • Equally, customer events organised by banks normally include networking sessions before and after the event which provide an excellent opportunity for you to meet like-minded business people.

Expertise • The leading banks have a wide range of specialist expertise, such as international trading and risk & investment management, as well as industry specialists.

Graham Smith Director Heyfordian Travel

Online • Businesses are increasingly using online banking solutions, which give you the ability not only to check balances and transactions, but also to arrange currency exchange deals or even to provide online training or access to economic and industry reports.

Tappins Coaches

With these services on offer, and in the context of increasing competition, is it time to ask yourself whether you are really getting what you want and need from your bank? Why not contact Barclays Business Banking to find out how much they can do for you? Also, Barclays are one of the key professional organisations attending the B4 Business Advice Forum on 21 June at the Oxford Conference Centre, 333 Banbury Road, Oxford. To register your interest, log onto and click B4 Business Advice Forum.

Drennan International “We have no reason to look anywhere else. They do everything we need them to do. Nigel Chivers understands the amount of contact we need with him and is probably one of the best Relationship Managers we have had. His team never leave us waiting for anything and always do what we ask, they answer queries and everything very efficiently – they are excellent.” Nicki White of Drennan International Ltd. 01865 748989

Contact details on page 58


THE RIGHT PROPERTY Righton Property Limited is the fresh face of established local property company, OxfordShortlets. B4 talked to Emma Righton about the wide range of services the business now offers, reinforcing the existing short lets business. Having set up the business in 2001 to cater for demand in the specialist area of short lets, the company now has four divisions to meet the needs of the serviced rental market supplying both short and longer (6 months plus) term corporate tenancies. They also offer professional advice to owners on how to enhance their properties to suit the needs of this niche market. All properties in the Righton Property portfolio are fully furnished and equipped to a high standard. All rental periods include taxes, utility bills and the provision of a weekly linen change and optional cleaning service, enabling visiting professionals from the UK and overseas to arrive and take up residence

with the minimum of hassle. This is a comprehensive and thoughtful service, with the emphasis on eliminating inconvenience and facilitating an effortless settling-in period for the customer. Emma Righton and her team are now experts at providing a bespoke service to the many visitors looking for temporary accommodation within the city of Oxford and beyond. They offer an attractive and economical alternative to a hotel, giving visitors the opportunity to stay in more spacious and private accommodation and to become a “local� for their time away from home and integrate fully with Oxfordshire. The company's knowledge of the properties and the area ensures that visitors' individual needs are met and the ideal location chosen. The face of Oxford is continually changing and the city is an increasingly desirable destination to work and live in. As many areas in Oxford are being regenerated, a number of companies are employing short term contract staff, or alternatively attracting staff from other parts of the country to work in Oxford for a week or more. Add to that the obvious influrence of the student population, and you begin to understand the true extent of Oxford's transitional population. It is


interesting to see that even in the 2001 census. Oxford headed the table for the percentage of residents changing address in the past 12 months. The changing face of Oxford is often underestimated, but these facts certainly focus the mind. To get the most out of their temporary staff, employers know how important it is that they feel comfortable in their living environment. Being confined to a hotel room for more than a few nights often becomes unappealing, whereas a stay in a well-appointed apartment or house can make all the difference. Having the flexibility and ability to be able to entertain colleagues and friends helps to set an apartment or house apart from a soulless hotel room. Righton Property’s corporate clients are finding this an increasingly more economical approach, especially when two or more colleagues can share a larger property, but still preserve their own space. If you have always automatically booked a hotel for your visiting staff and never considered a serviced apartment before, speak to the team at Righton Property Limited to find out how short-stay accommodation could work for your company. Contact details on page 58




The percentage of residents in the 2001 census known to have changed address within the UK in the previous 12 months (top ten:











City of London
























B4 HEALTH The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust is, in the words of Chris Hurst, “a fairly significant sized organisation” which provides around 1% of all healthcare in England. It is the sixth largest trust in the UK (Leeds being the largest with a turnover of £0.75 billion), employs 9,000 staff and typically issues 100,000 orders to suppliers in any one year. These facts alone set the scene. Throw in a demanding customer base with an unlimited appetite for the Trust’s services – which, as Chris points out, would be a fantastic phenomenon in any other business – and you can begin to get a handle on the beast which Chris is trying to control. Chris elaborates: “In a business context, one of the distinguishing factors of the healthcare business is its complexity. In any normal business, one endeavours to design the complexity out of the business processes, but in healthcare this is difficult to do. This a constant challenge for all of us.” The amazing thing about healthcare is that these fantastic people are trying to extend people’s lives, but this in itself presents problems. The unquestionably ageing population, combined with the fact that the costs of healthcare are five times greater for treating the over-75s than a 30 year old, put the NHS in a “catch 22” situation. Extending lives rapidly levers cost. “Another key problem is changing attitudes,” adds Chris. “The National Health Service was founded in 1948, largely around a paternalistic model – ‘if we can do something for you, we will do’. But attitudes to the NHS have been changing and, understandably, the public now expect more than just a reasonable quality clinical service. The public now expect a good customer experience and a more direct say in what they receive from the NHS. The internet fuels increased awareness and knowledge, and patients feel they can challenge their GP’s diagnosis, rightly or wrongly, and often have specific expectations about the drugs they should be prescribed. “A further financial challenge is driven by the government’s ambitions to standardise the quality of, and access to, healthcare across the country. Historically, we have seen the opportunistic development of services such as cancer and cardiac, which are often the result of a particular doctor’s passion for their service and his or her success in securing independent or supplementary funding to develop the service. But now the government wants to see a uniform standard of quality for healthcare across England. This will also result in the distribution of the specialist health services becoming


concentrated in fewer centres of excellence. This is necessary to ensure the staff with the necessary expertise are available to patients in all parts of the country, supported by the appropriate hi-tec diagnostic and treatment facilities. “The Trust’s new Oxford Children’s Hospital, and new West Wing for neurosciences and specialist surgery, are good examples of this trend. This concentration of specialist services is driven by both labour market constraints and quality considerations. If you have complex or high risk healthcare needs, you want to know that you will be assessed, treated and cared for by specialist staff with the right experience. “At the other end of our business, GPs wish to bring lower risk services much closer to the population to make them more accessible to patients, and to provide them at lower cost wherever possible. However, this loss of business can also have some consequential benefits for the hospital, reducing the pressure both on its clinical facilities and on parking. It also ensures that the expertise of its staff is used to help those patients who most need those skills. To the extent that it is safe and good value for money to provide services on a more distributive basis, that has got to be good news for both patients and healthcare overall. “However, there are some tensions. It will not always be good value for money to provide services on a distributed basis, even if patients prefer this. It is also about ensuring the appropriate skills are available in the right place. For example, GPs are trained to be expert in a very wide range of medicine, but this level of expertise obviously has its limits – that is why they must work very closely with hospital-based consultants, who have much more specialist knowledge but in a much narrower field of medicine.” Chris’s reference to the Children’s Hospital leads him to explain the importance of the Trust’s relationship with businesses and the local community. “Over five years, we will have invested in the order of £300 million in facilities on our two Oxford sites (the Churchill and the John Radcliffe),” he states, “which means we are able to employ more staff to expand service capacity to assess and treat patients more quickly to enable them to return to work and/or home.” The presence and scale of these hospitals also impact on the local housing market and businesses in the area, which benefit from the large number of staff the Trust employs. This concentration of healthcare services in Headington, which include services of national and in some cases international repute, has come about because of the three key roles played by the Trust: as a healthcare provider, a high quality teaching and training provider, and as a significant base for scientific and clinical research. Chris explains: “In addition to providing clinical services, we also teach medical students and train junior doctors. We have a very strong business partnership with Oxford University and also with Oxford Brookes University for the training and teaching of nurses. Just to give you a feel for how important that relationship is, Oxford University’s Medical Sciences division occupies approximately 18% of the John Radcliffe hospital site.

“Oxford is also a major international centre for healthcare research, and in the last five months we have been successful in competing with other major teaching hospitals and university partnerships to become one of only five comprehensive biomedical research centres in England. In simple terms, this will attract funding of around £12 million per annum over the next five years for healthcare research in Oxford. “This investment is for translational, as opposed to laboratory-based, research. It is designed to take place within the hospital setting, with the objective of bringing about more rapid improvements in clinical services and treatments. This is of particular interest to Gordon Brown, who wants to see a faster and better return on the Government’s investment in NHS research!” The Trust has many key business relationships. “We have a very strong business relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and other healthcare technology suppliers, such as GE Medical and Siemens. In addition, the Trust provides clinical support services to other organisations. For example, we provide the Nuffield Orthopaedic Trust with its anaesthetic service. The quality of these relationships is central to our success and reputation. For example, the service we procure from the local Ambulance Trust, for both planned and emergency patient transport and for non-patient services, is key to our ability to operate efficiently and provide good quality services. “Our partnership with the local authority is also very important in a number of ways. For example, many patients require a level of home support after they leave hospital. By working in a coordinated way with social services, we strive to ensure that patients return to a supported environment and recuperate as quickly as possible. Another way we work with the local authority may not be so obvious. When we develop our sites we discuss with the local authority the scope for local traffic or transport improvements, and contribute funding to such improvements. For example, as we have developed the John Radcliffe site we have sponsored improvements to bus routes and the frequency of services for patients and visitors. “Similar improvements will take place in conjunction with our new £115m Churchill Cancer Centre development, which is due for completion in summer 2008. We have also worked with the county to enhance the ‘park and ride’ facilities between Water Eaton and Headington to improve access for staff, visitors and patients. The relationship with the local authority is therefore very important. “Our relationship with the wider business community and the residential community is, however, particularly important. We receive around £4 million in public donations each year – this money is used to enhance services, often by making environmental improvements. Periodically, we see a more significant opportunity for the contribution of fundraising, and this demands a different approach and focus. This is how the Oxford Children’s Hospital has become a reality. “Around five years ago, we secured government

A MATTER OF TRUST B4 were invited to speak to Chris Hurst, Director of Finance & Procurement and Deputy Chief Executive with The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. The Trust is one of the largest healthcare providers, teaching and research centres in the UK, with a turnover of approximately half a billion pounds. Chris outlines the daily challenges which the trust faces and stresses the importance of maintaining excellent working relationships with both businesses and the local community to assist the development and expansion of the Trust’s excellent services.


B4 HEALTH approval to proceed with a £100 million PFI scheme to bring services from the Radcliffe Infirmary to Headington. But we were more ambitious and wanted to bring together our children’s services and move them into a purpose-built environment. However, we recognised that this ambition could only be achieved by securing additional investment from fundraising. “The cost of going that one step further – that is, designing facilities specific to children and their parents – increased the capital investment required from £100 million to £130 million. The Trust had no realistic prospect of securing further state investment because, beyond a point, the opportunity cost of doing so and having to defer investment in other high priority NHS schemes become too great. The board took the decision to take this strong case for additional investment to local business leaders and the local community. The board agreed to put in £15 million of the extra £30 million required, and set

about the task of raising the remaining £15 million from the local community, businesses, charitable trusts and major donors. Five years on, we are now nearing the successful completion of this campaign, having secured £13.3 million of the £15 million required. “This has been achieved through a lot of hard work and fantastic support from local businesses and the general public. Newsquest, for example, have been very active in promoting the Children’s Hospital and have been instrumental in raising £3 million of the total from the local community. We have also been very fortunate to secure sponsorship from local businesses, including Prodrive, STL Intellion and Mid-counties Co-op, and we have been designated as the ‘charity of choice’ for the year by others. We have also received very generous contributions from a number of individual donors. Over and above fundraising contributions, the Ronald McDonald Foundation has provided integrated accommodation for parents who need to spend extended periods of time with their children in hospital, and GE Medical has contributed equipment to the new hospital.


“In 15 months we will be opening a new £115 million cancer centre at the Churchill Hospital. This centre will not only provide expanded facilities for cancer patients, but it will also provide for the replacement of all of our current major diagnostic and treatment equipment. As part of our planning, we have identified the opportunity for additional charitable investment to complement this substantial NHS investment. This is the next priority in our fundraising strategy. “Fundraising is changing. It has to be carried in a professional, strategic and thoughtful way. Rattling tins still has a role to play, but when an organisation decides to launch a high profile fundraising campaign it puts its reputation at risk, very publicly – if you are not successful, it can backfire. To be successful we have to be able to assure potential donors that their hard-earned cash will be well spent and well managed, and we must be able to describe what tangible added value their donation will secure over

and above that provided by NHS resources. Proactive donor stewardship is also essential, after a donation has been secured.” The health service has come under increasing pressure in the past decade to demonstrate it is performing as efficiently as possible – after all, it is funded by taxpayers’ money. As Chris concludes, “We have to stay on the front foot. That is why we have spent a great deal of time focusing on reducing patient delays, improving turnaround times and getting people home as quickly as we can once their treatment has been completed. This has been a significant focus for our staff over the last year, but we still feel there is more that we can do and we are challenging our staff to make continual service improvements.” Health service efficiency is measured by the Treasury on the basis of “cost over activity” (how many bangs for the buck?). Under this measure the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust is 6% more efficient than the average English hospital trust. In sight of such wonderful testaments of the Trust’s hard work as

the Children’s Hospital, we shouldn’t need evidence that the Trust is using its resources efficiently. Such statistics merely underline that, as a community, we should be 110% behind any drive to improve what is already a remarkable service. Did you know? ORH NHS Trust: • provides specialist services for a population of around 2.5 million in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire • employs around 9,000 staff • has 1,500 beds. In 2005/06: • 526,000 people attended outpatient appointments • 124,000 people attended the emergency departments

• 77,700 people were admitted for planned surgery • 8,098 babies were delivered. Chris Hurst – Brief Biography Chris started in banking, later moving into local government. In 1989 he returned to the private sector as Product Marketing Manager in the software industry, moving to management consultancy two years later. In 1992 he came into the NHS as a Finance Director and four years later moved to the NHS Executive, as head of Performance Analysis for the South-East. In 2000 Chris was appointed Director of Finance & Procurement and Deputy Chief Executive of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. Chris is a qualified member of CIPFA and a former council member of the HFMA. He has chaired and served on a number of NHS policy groups and currently sits on the national resource allocation advisory group. Contact details on page 58


business advice forum

Visit the B4 Business Advice Forum in association with some of Oxfordshire’s leading professionals and business service providers B4 Business Advice Forum Thursday 21 June 2007, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oxford Conference Centre, 333 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7PL


Representative: Rob Evans As Business Development Director for FOCUS, Rob is responsible for marketing FOCUS’ insurance and financial solutions to new and existing clients.

Representative: Mike Warriner Mike is now regarded as one of the region’s leading experts in information law. Mike specialises in technology, e-commerce and information law, advising clients on a wide range of commercial matters.

Representative: Mike Jennings Mike has worked as an adviser to small businesses alongside managing his family property business, which is based in South Oxfordshire and provides space for nearly 100 small businesses.

Representative: Dave Beesley Oxfordshire’s leading office supplies company provides a professional and reliable service which is second to none.

Representative: Tony Haines “Advising businesses pre-start up to sale or succession, reassuringly experienced yet fully up to date, with an ethos of working with our clients in order that they meet their goals.”

Representative: Owen Bird Owen Bird has 19 years’ banking experience and strives to give his customers the best customer service experience using highly qualified and experienced staff who care about their business. Barclays want to help you achieve your goals and aspirations.

B4 Representative: James White CRM is a marketing systems and services company. Enabling small to medium sized businesses to communicate personally yet professionally with their customers is the strategic aim of the CRM team. The company’s vision is to provide thousands of the country’s three Million or so SME businesses with the chance to do this at an affordable price.

Representative: Richard Rosser B4 magazine is part of the In Oxford Group which provides Oxfordshire businesses with first-class marketing and advertising opportunities, both on and offline, allied to a highly professional print and design service.

Register your interest at or call 01865 742211 (Free parking on site, see or call 01865 554719)

in association with



THE HEAVY SIDE There were a total of 19,400 self-builds in the UK in 2005, which represented a 4.3% increase from 2004, when the UK self-build market was estimated at around £3.5 billion. In value terms, there has been rapid growth since 2000, with the total market value rising by over 45% over the last six years. This was stimulated primarily by two key factors, land prices and labour costs, both of which have risen rapidly during the last five years and both of which are forecast to grow rapidly in the future. With the help of Buildbase’s Mike Augar, B4 learn how to make your dream become a reality. A plot of land is your first port of call. Plots can be purchased with or without planning permission – plots with planning permission will obviously be more expensive. Plots can be found via the internet, through estate agents and personal contacts or by using a land agent to assist with the search, but this will incur a fee. There is huge competition for land, especially with planning permission. The process of obtaining planning permission for a plot of land can be lengthy, and anyone considering building their own home should factor in the potentially never-ending timescale of obtaining permission, even before the problems of building become a reality. One way to minimise planning permission issues is to buy land with a property already on it and demolish the property. However, significant checks must be carried out before entertaining such an option, as the


property you intend to demolish may come with its own restrictions and covenants, such that you may end up having to build exactly the same property that you demolished.

Self-build team Mike Augar stresses the importance of getting a good team together to eliminate the dangers which arise with any self-build. “A good team of professionals is key for any self-build. We can cover the materials side of the build and help all we can in advising how to comply with planning restrictions and building regulations, but we are not professional advisers in terms of finances and legal issues. It is vital to have a tight grip on the financial side and to ensure that you are not doing anything unlawful. “In my opinion, a first-class lawyer, supportive bank and an accountant familiar with self-builds are as important as a good site manager (that is, if you don’t intend to get your hands dirty yourself). Throw in an architect with a good track record of self-builds and you have the basis of a sound team to push forward.” Out of the ground “Once you have purchased your land and appointed your team, we step in to “get you out of the ground.” Laying foundations is a key stage for any build. Any problems not properly dealt with here are a recipe for disaster. “We are also so much more aware of the

environment now and we are leaning towards more products which are environmentally-friendly and have lower carbon emissions. “Our suppliers have been carefully selected with carbon emissions in mind and we have worked with most of our suppliers for some time and therefore know them and their product. “The cavity infill is very important in terms of minimising carbon emissions, meaning the brick and blockwork - the irony being that the processes required to produce these items are very high in terms of energy and carbon output. “Once the foundations have been laid and the frame of the building has been erected, the next stage is the plate level and the roof goes on. The roof will also need to be tiled and insulated, and once the internal area is watertight, the internal plastering, flooring and acoustic insulation can be addressed. “The bottom line on the heavy side of the build is that your house will only ‘perform’ if it is insulated properly and we are very well placed to advise you on the technical aspects of insulation through the information we have obtained from our suppliers.

Contact details on page 58




BUILDING B M AT E R I A L S S Bereco, Rotherham Bereco, suppliers of windows and doors to Buildbase, are proud of their FSC accreditation on their entire product range, endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace and the government. By using only certified timber from well-managed sources, Bereco can offer a product that is environmentally sound in both the raw material and the production methods used in its manufacture. Building Board Specialists Ltd, Runcorn, Cheshire Building Board specialise in the distribution of a wide range of building products including high specification cladding, dry lining products, fire protection boards, insulation products, building boards and roof lights. Hanson Bricks Hanson is the UK's leading manufacturer of quality facing bricks. Complementing this product offering, Hanson also offers a range of specialist bricks and cladding systems. It is estimated that Hanson's bricks have been used to build 25% of Britain's housing stock. The London brick brand, in particular, has an unsurpassed heritage. Therefore, if you are extending or renovating your home, the likelihood is that Hanson will have the brick to match. Hunter Plastics Ltd, London A comprehensive range of components are available in 110 mm, 160 mm, 200 mm, 250 mm and 315 mm sizes, ensuring that Hunter can supply all domestic, commercial and industrial requirements for both foul water and surface water drainage up to main sewer. Insulation Industries Ltd, Surrey Insulation Industries offer the Isowall range of panels with the full support and technical backing of the world-renowned Isowall International company. Keystone Lintels Limited, Derbyshire Keystone Lintels, a leading manufacturer of steel lintels, was founded in 1989. The short history of Keystone has been one of relentless expansion and continuous innovation whilst redefining the meaning of service in the lintel industry. Production facilities in Birmingham and Cookstown provide an efficient, flexible and ergonomic working environment, which is part of the culture of Keystone’s quality and service.


Self Build stages and points to consider: 1. Find a plot 2. Evaluate plot a. Status of planning permission b. Status of area c. Design implications d. Utilities/services e. Environmental issues f. Hidden legal damages – e.g. restrictive covenants, restrictions re land use. Always appoint a solicitor experienced with self-builds g. Check height, angle and slopes of your land and consider position of house re natural light, setting sun, wind direction for noise from local motorway etc. 3. Arrange self-build mortgage 4. Consider construction options and restrictions a. Design b. Budget c. Location of plot d. Level of input which you require to have e. Re-sale issues – if you may want to sell the property quickly in the future it may be best to stick to traditional building methods. 5. Types of planning permission a. Outline planning permission - just permission in principle to develop the site, e.g. build a 4 bed house. You will still need to apply for full planning permission b. Full planning permission – valid for 3 years c. If you plan to replace an existing building you must consider i. Conservation area ii. Tree protection order iii. Rights of way iv. Listed building consent v. Protection of wildlife 6. Building regulations will usually apply 7. Project management – consider whether you will do this or whether you will employ somebody to do it. 8. Self-build insurance – this will usually be required by the lender. 9. Self-build warranties/guarantees – i.e. NHBC scheme – will usually be required by the lender.



The recent budget raised the profile of the zero-carbon home, but what exactly is a zero-carbon home, and why should we be building them? Mike explains, “A zero-carbon home is one that does not consume fossil fuels for heat and power. It is highly insulated and uses renewable energy to power its needs over a year through microgeneration. Heat and power technologies include ground source heat pumps, photovoltaic cells, solar water heaters and wind turbines. It will draw from the grid when the microgeneration is insufficient but could sell excess generation back to the grid.” The Pre-Budget Report (PBR) 2006 announced that a stamp duty land tax exemption for the vast majority of new zero-carbon homes would be introduced in 2007. Further details of the exemption, as promised, were set out in the Budget 2007; this included a five-year time limit, a cap on the relief of £15,000, and a definition of a new zero-carbon home. The objective of introducing a stamp duty land tax relief is to help kick-start the market for zero-carbon homes, encourage microgeneration technologies, and raise public awareness of the benefits of living in zero-carbon homes. It will also help to incentivise major changes in house building and will complement the ambition announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in December 2006 that all new homes be built to a zero-carbon standard by 2016. It is, in short, a signal that the Government would like to see more of these types of houses built in the future, and is a fiscal incentive to get the market to move in this direction. It is expected that by 2050, about one third of the housing stock will have been built since 2006. So new homes have a vital role to play in helping to meet the United Kingdom’s target of 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. According to the partial Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) published by DCLG alongside their consultation on “Building A Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development” (December 2006), it is estimated that having all new development built according to a zero-carbon standard is expected to save between 6.5 MtC (million tonnes of carbon) and 7 MtC per annum in England and Wales by 2050 compared to the “do nothing” option. This measure will have an additional effect on carbon savings in years to come. The relief will provide exemption from tax liability when the house costs less than £500,000, and will provide a £15,000 reduction in tax liability to all homes worth more than £500,000.

10.Self-build VAT – you will be able to reclaim most of the VAT on a new building as new homes are zero rated. Advice should be sought early on in the project from your accountant.



DELIVERING THE GOODS B-Line is a familiar name in Oxfordshire business circles. Run by an immensely likeable family, Oxfordshire’s premier office supplies company has carved out a strong niche for itself from relatively humble beginnings. Phil Beesley, Managing Director of B-Line Office Supplies, invited B4 to find out more about the origins of B-Line, how it has developed and where it is going.


Phil’s desk belies his status as MD of a thriving stationery, print, furniture and office machines company. It is unnervingly clear, bearing only two cups of coffee, my pad and pen, Phil’s mobile and a half-finished toilet roll – we are both suffering from colds.

“Staffing is always key in any business. Without good people we would find it very hard to grow our business organically, as getting larger contracts on board is the only way we will grow. That will in turn attract more of the larger accounts, diluting our dependency on a handful of key customers.

Phil’s desk belies his status as MD of a thriving stationery, print, furniture and office machines company. It is unnervingly clear, bearing only two cups of coffee, my pad and pen, Phil’s mobile and a half-finished toilet roll – we are both suffering from colds.

“We are confident our new structure, totalling 18 employees, will help provide the platform for growth. Paul Nelson and Dominic Capella head up our stationery sales division; Lorraine Thomas, who has previously worked on the stationery side of the business, heads up our print division; Kevin Warman fronts our furniture business and Kay Beesley (Phil’s sister) is responsible for the call centre and customer management and is also the business machines expert.

As many Oxfordshire businesses will know, the driving force behind this business has always been, and continues to be, Chairman and Chief Executive Dave Beesley, but son Phil is very much the day-to-day strategist and it is Phil who is entrusted with B-Line’s future. But the story begins with Dave Beesley. “Dad started from a bedroom in our house in Marston in 1987,” says Phil reminiscing, “and home was the office for the business which was about to grow. Dad then purchased a small stationery business in Kidlington which was, to all intents and purposes, a database of names and addresses. “The office then moved to Kidlington to be next to the stationery business and the graphic design and print broking business was started in Kidlington, with a second-hand furniture business run out of a barn in Oxford. The office machines side of the business came on stream more recently. “The businesses were then consolidated into one site, where we are now, in Enslow in 1995. This was a catalyst for real growth as it brought everyone together under one roof and has been a fantastic move for us. “The transformation of the business since then has been extraordinary and we now have a clear vision of the future and know exactly where we want to be in the next five years. The web has been a phenomenon for many businesses, and we are no different. In February of this year, we registered our one millionth pound of sales since we went online five years ago, and £0.5 million of these sales has been generated in the last 12 months. “The web has fuelled our stationery development. Our clients are now much more conversant with the web and find it incredibly easy to use.” (See “What happens when you place your order”.) “With management reports and invoices available online, this customer interaction with our back office is unique in the industry. We slightly open ourselves up to misuse of data in terms of customers being able to obtain alternative quotes with the availability of prices online; however, we feel this service overrides any dangers and gives us a competitive edge. “We are in the process of launching our new corporate identity, with four clear colour sectors representing our key divisions – Stationery (Blue); Print (Red); Furniture (Green) and Machines (Purple). With four vibrant corporate brochures to help market each division and a new DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant website with much easier navigation being launched, we are excited about the future.

“We have just reported 25% growth year on year, and that is our target once again for this financial year. With this team in place, this target is a realistic one, and we feel more than confident that we can achieve it. The individual department heads are customer managing and getting in some good quality new business.” Although best known locally, B-Line’s tentacles extend from Taunton to the Shetlands and from Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands. The company operates a full-scale national business with next day delivery throughout mainland UK. Amongst its 850 “live” accounts, many of which are B4 customers, a number have Head Offices that are local which brings with them a National network of branches. B-Line will also deliver to mainland Europe if necessary and is fully conversant with trading overseas. Even though the process is significantly more automated now, the customer, according to Phil, is very definitely still king. ”We are massively into customer contact, and we have a very high profile at a number of Oxfordshire’s networking events. With the increasing importance and use of the web, our day-to-day role takes on more of a customer services function, giving advice and nurturing relationships. We like to add value where we can, whether by helping to reduce costs or just networking on behalf of our customers. A lot of this takes place over the phone or face to face at networking events – hence our high profile.” B4 can endorse this approach 100%. B-Line are not only great at what they do, they are also a wonderful team to do business with. Why look anywhere else?

Did you know? B-Line sold, over the last five years: • Enough paper to cover the new Wembley pitch 1092 times over! • Paper clips, equivalent to 112 miles, or a line of paper clips from Oxford to London and nearly back again. • Enough Coffee to make 840,000 cups.

Article continues overleaf


BUSINESS SUPPLIES Established in 1987, B-Line is a thriving and professional business supplies company that has enjoyed unparalleled success through working in partnership with its customers while at the same time managing the supply chain to ensure that customers’ expectations are exceeded at every opportunity. At all times B-Line will add value to your business, from our “Single Source” supply solution and the benefits our dedicated account managers can bring to your business, through to the totally bespoke approach we take to managing and working with you.

KEY PERSONNEL Paul Nelson – Responsible for ‘Key’ accounts, and ensures that all B-Line staff have the tools and support they need to provide our customers with the highest levels of products and services at all times, and that we grow our business successfully in partnership with our customers. Kevin Warman – Responsible for the success of B-Line’s Furniture division, Kevin and his colleague Nathan conduct site surveys and will consult with you, produce CAD plans if necessary, organise delivery and installation at a time of your convenience. Our experience is at your disposal. Lorraine Thomas – Together with Sally, Lorraine is responsible for the success of our Print & Design business, consulting on your requirements, providing detailed quotes and ensuring delivery is on time. Your brand is in safe hands with B-Line Print & Design. Kay Beesley – Our customers are managed with passion by Kay, Kashia and her team, from product enquiries to pricing and order processing, ensuring that we exceed your expectations at every opportunity. Dominic Capella – By having Dominic involved in your business we are able to add value to the business partnership. By ensuring you are purchasing “value for money” products, we guarantee ongoing savings in your overall purchases.





Order Orders are placed with B-LIne using whichever method you prefer: phone, fax or electronically via email or secure web-based systems.


An acknowledgement is sent to you following each order, by fax or email.


Check Mate The system uses a combination of product weight and quantity to determine order accuracy through very controlled tolerances. This is supplemented with just the right degree of the human touch to sort out any queries.


Boxing Clever Once the order is received, the system uses weight, cube and quantity to determine the optimum size and quantity of boxes to house the order.


The order then progresses on to other picking stations and then on to the check station.

Once selected the environmentally friendly boxes are set on their way…


Passed and Packed Once the order has passed the stringent checks in place, the goods are heat-sealed down to ensure safe transit within the cartons. A sealed lid then tops off the order, ensuring maximum security for the contents. Completed orders are then transported directly onto the carrier’s transport, safe in the knowledge that the unique bar code will guide the order through their systems and will end the journey at your customers premises.

Picking Perfection The boxes are electronically routed to picking station based operatives, who then pick what’s needed.


Supporting Role To help you sort out queries, track deliveries and help with returns, the DDC Support centre offers a fast response service in addition to your own ability to monitor and track your own orders via the internet.

Contact details on page 58

Understanding your world Your tax affairs are safe in our hands whether they be private or corporate matters. We have advised clients and protected their interests since 1761. Our experience encompasses every offshore destination and our lawyers can ensure that all your tax issues are dealt with in the most advantageous manner.

For more information Call +44 207 689 7000 or



Mark Reynolds talks to Brian Weedon and his son James to learn how their expanding group of companies is thriving because of the core family values. There are two things that are important to Brian Weedon: family and business with his wife Janet. He has been running his own business in Oxfordshire for over 35 years, and when you meet him and his sons you just know that they’ll still be doing it in another 35. Their latest acquisition was Hightone Restorations, which can offer those of you with vintage or classic cars an expert service to bring your pride and joy up to scratch again. They also run Isis Repair and Rescue, whose fleet of vehicles with the trademark “dreaming spires” logo is a common sight to Oxford’s motorists. But it all started at Hopcrofts Holt … Brian talks with fond memories about what he has achieved and what he one day will pass on to his sons: “I started Hopcrofts Holt Service Station to serve the rural community of Steeple Aston. In many ways it still underpins what we’re doing with the rest of the group. It’s a traditional service station, so as well as petrol, there is a convenience store and the mechanical repair and MOT side.” James, who spent some time in London after leaving home but is now back in Oxford, has always known that his dad worked hard to provide for them. “I remember having to leave the house and get into the Landrover with Dad one night, when Mum was out for the evening and the garage got a recovery call.” Ten years ago, Brian felt that it was time to expand

and branch out into Oxford. He did this when he saw a gap in the market after a company called JT Rescue went bust. With his existing knowledge of the motor industry, his aim was to provide high quality vehicle recovery and repair services in the Oxford area. April 2005 saw the acquisition of the AR Mills recovery business, which has provided them with an additional depot and workshop facility for Isis Rescue – this time in Banbury. Although involved in all three businesses, it is Isis Rescue that takes up most of his two sons’ time. It clearly means a lot to Brian to have his sons working with him, and James and Thomas are more than up to the challenge. James Weedon (Operations Manager) and Thomas Weedon (General Manager) work hard to ensure that their family business thrives by delivering a friendly and efficient service to both business and private customers. James explains: “At Isis, we have built up excellent relationships with the biggest motoring organisations, like Green Flag, RAC, and Mondial Assistance. With Green Flag for example, they are purely dependent on offering rescue services through a network of independents. They know that we deliver good service on their behalf, so when we branched out into Banbury we did so with their backing, meaning we knew we were going to get those contracts.” In addition to the rescue side of the business, Isis also offers a very competitive servicing and MOT facility for Class IV, V and VII vehicles. Large discounts are available for business fleets.

Hightone Restorations is based in Enstone, near Chipping Norton, and the guys in the workshop are the best in the business. “Most of the staff have been there 15 or 18 years,” says James, “and they are true craftsmen. The skills they have are just not being taught to young people often enough, so there is a real problem with how we’ll replace them when they get to retirement age.” The business specialises in Mercedes and Alvis restorations, but they will turn their hand to any vintage/classic vehicles, making panelwork, ash frames and very high class paintwork. “We recently worked on an old Rolls Royce which has been left outside for 15 years while the owners were abroad. It has been exposed to the weather and was in a really bad way, but even in that state it was still worth a lot of money and we relished the challenge of bringing it back to life.” Manager, Roger Lester, is very enthusiastic and will discuss any customer’s restoration requirements. “I always wanted to have something to pass on to my sons,” says Brian, “and I’m just glad that they are now both involved because they have brought fresh eyes to the business.” So, is it not time for Brian to put his feet up, now that his sons are working with him? “I thought that I was winding down a few years ago,” he says with a smile, “but then the opportunity came up in Banbury.” I have a feeling he isn’t going anywhere for a while … Contact details on page 58




PENSIONS: CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS? The words "pensions" and "crisis" appear in the national press on an almost daily basis, usually commenting on government policies, or the apparent lack of them. Phil Casey, pension specialist Partner at FOCUS, examines the key issues behind the headlines. It appears that the government is finally

community is that 80% of employers have gone the

contributions for our employees, or accepting the

beginning to recognise that there is a bit of a

stakeholder route as it doesn’t cost them anything.

inevitable from here on and establishing a pension

problem with retirement provision in the UK.

This means that 8.8 million people have ended up

scheme now. If we do this, there is still time left to

The State pension scheme, when it came in

working for employers who do not offer any pension

provide employees with a tangible benefit from which

after the Second World War, was designed to

contributions. Very little has been achieved by

we can gain some goodwill and loyalty.

pay pensioners for only a couple of years

stakeholder pensions to solve the shortfalls.

before they would leave “this mortal coil”, with

The publicity being generated by all this debate is

life expectancy somewhere around the late

The Pensions Commission, formed principally to

elevating the status of pensions in the public mind,


address this issue and headed by Lord Turner, finally

and increasing numbers of people are starting to



realise that they should be paying into a pension fund

Thanks to advances in medical science and the fact

recommendation to have come out of this was the

in order to have any hope of enjoying a financially

that we are, broadly, all taking a bit better care of

establishment of a centralised National Pension

secure retirement. Employees are really beginning to

ourselves, average life expectancy is now around 77

Savings Scheme. This will introduce Personal

expect pension contributions from their employer in

for men and 79 for women, and it’s improving all the

Accounts from 2012 into which all employees aged

order to help achieve this.

time. This is great news, but it does present

22 and over will be automatically enrolled. Employee

something of a challenge for pension funds, since

contributions of 4% of national insurance band

The good news from all this is that we get tax breaks,

income has to last much longer to correspond to this.

earnings and employer contributions of 3% will be

both as employers and individuals, by paying into a

Retirement now really is the longest holiday that

phased in over three years. In what has been

pension scheme. That, surely, is the best indication

people have.

cheekily entitled “soft compulsion”, all employees are

that the government really wants, needs and will

able to opt out of this scheme but cannot be coerced

compel us to make pension contributions in order to

It is rumoured that, in order to increase State pension

to do so by an employer unwilling to pay pension

address what has become a “pensions crisis”.

provision so that Mr and Mrs Average could expect to






The important thing is to get independent,

receive a pension of 50% of national average earnings, basic rate tax would have to be increased by

Reaction to this news has been mixed. The TUC think

professional and impartial advice. That’s just the sort

up to 30%. That sort of tax hike is clearly not a vote

it’s great because it means more people will be

of thing that we, at FOCUS, specialise in. We’d be

winner and the government is trying to be a bit less

getting pension contributions, but the CBI aren’t

delighted to talk to you and help you to make the

direct in its approach. No surprises there!

happy because of the additional costs it will place on

right decisions.

businesses. The response so far has been the advent of stakeholder pensions, introduced about six years ago.

However, the government seems intent on passing

This requires employers with five or more employees

this legislation and finally getting to grips in a

either to nominate a stakeholder pension plan, into

meaningful way with pension shortfalls. It is

which they or the employee do not have to pay

determined that the burden for pensions provision

anything, or to establish a properly-funded pension

should be shifted away from central government.

scheme with a minimum contribution of 3% of salary

Given this, we must now accept that pension

from the employer, usually matched by 3% from the

contributions are well and truly on the map.

employee. Our choice as employers comes down to either The not unsurprising response from the business

waiting to be told that we have to make pension

Contact details on page 58



Oxfordshire’s Number 1 Business Directory

Distributed to 3,000 key business decision makers in Oxfordshire Make sure your business details are at the fingertips of the people that make the decisions Launching December 2007 Contact 01865 742211 or e-mail



If you have working capital tied up in redundant product in your warehouse and think that the cash could be better invested in your business, then the StockPlus online auction may well be a solution for you. StockPlus is an online business-to-business auction-based trading floor. It is has been created to enable businesses to sell off any excess, slow-moving or surplus inventory. This may be in the form of products, materials, ingredients, machinery, plant or equipment. Simply by posting the details on the StockPlus website, sellers place items for sale on the online trading floor which gives potential buyers the opportunity to place bids. The StockPlus website is therefore a product exchange where businesses can convert non-active current and fixed assets into cash, and where buyers can purchase products at attractive prices. The StockPlus online auction is available to businesses worldwide. The basics All businesses in the manufacturing, commercial and retail sectors know that holding stocks of raw materials or finished goods is not necessarily the best way to manage their working capital and optimise their cashflow. From time to time, surplus or slow-moving inventory can be present in the warehouse taking up valuable storage space and tying up working capital. Surplus inventory is a difficult problem with no easy solution. The plain fact is that it is often difficult to sell surplus inventory and as a consequence businesses often park the problem for another day. A solution for the Finance Director in all of us! StockPlus could well be the solution. StockPlus enables businesses to sell their products at an online auction which exposes their goods to potential buyers from around the world. Sellers may stipulate a reserve price for their products, advertise at a fixed or “purchase now” price and, importantly, choose in which regions of the world their products may be sold. Excess inventory in one business is potentially a commercial source of product for another. StockPlus is an opportunity for businesses around the world to source products, raw materials, ingredients, machinery, plant and equipment at commercially attractive prices. StockPlus also offers the ability for buyers seeking goods which may not be available in the mainstream market to advertise their specific requirements. Buyers can place “wanted” notices on the StockPlus auction site and businesses which have goods matching these requirements can respond.





B OARD The B4 / MGroup Golf Cup was launched on Friday 27th April at Frilford Heath with 9 teams competing for the inaugural cup. A storming performance by HMT places them very much in the lead after round one. The next round will be held at Southfield Golf Club on 24th May, followed by Studley Wood on 5th July with the final at The Oxfordshire on 5th September where there will be a presentation dinner. Any interested parties wishing to take part in the last three rounds should contact Richard Rosser on 01865 742211. As we are taking best two scores of three, teams can still qualify to challenge for the final day when the winning team will be decided.





Score 89


Wenn Townsend



Thyomas Merrifield















The MGroup



Blenheim Palace









S /




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:

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


Email: Web:


THE WORKS Dave Beesley, Chief Executive of B-Line Business Supplies, is our networking lynchpin. If you have any networking queries, as a networking organisation or as an aspiring networker, contact Dave at:

Brethertons Solicitors (ONLC) Regional law firm Brethertons LLP runs several networking clubs every month, one of which is the Oxford Networking Lunch Club (ONLC).

Chairman Shaun Jardine on (01295) 270999 and come along as a Guest. You must book yourself in and pay for your lunch in advance, as numbers are limited.

The purpose of ONLC is to enable members and guests to meet and network in a suitably relaxed atmosphere, over lunch, and exchange views, thoughts, information, proposals, business orientated ideas and updates on Oxford and the surrounding areas.

Visit the ONLC website for details of the next event and venue at: Contact Shaun Jardine, Brethertons Solicitors, Strathmore House, Waterperry Court, Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxon OX16 4QD (Tel: (01295) 270999)

New Members are always welcome - contact ONLC

Bicester Business The monthly informal networking arm of Bicester and District Chamber of Commerce. We meet on the 4th Thursday each month The Littlebury Hotel, Kings End, Bicester, Oxon, 7.10 am arrive, 8.45 finish (approx). Book by sending an E-mail to This is an Informal networking group

with a guest speaker, breakfast and table networking/announcements. There are no annual membership fees or category restrictions. All are welcome to attend, but please pre book. For more information check out our pages on the Chamber web site web site at

Oxford ProfitCLUB The Oxford ProfitCLUB is a unique club that has been structured to help grow your business skills and profits through sales leads and world class training every fortnight. The club is run by Paul Avins, top European business coach with ActionCOACH and his award winning team. The Oxford ProfitCLUB meets every other Tuesday at The Oxford Centre, 333 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7PL.. Tel: 01869 278909 or at

The Late Breakfast Oxford and Abingdon are friendly networking groups who meet at 9ish for those who are unable to make the usual early morning starts. The group often includes a wide variety of businesses who see the value in a forum where they can exchange ideas, share experiences, support each other not forgetting referring business to each other and working together.

We meet at two lovely locations – Abingdon meets at the Four Pillars Hotel Abingdon on the first Wednesday of each month and Oxford meets at the North Oxford Golf Club normally on the third Wednesday of each month. For more information email Parveen at the:

The Wednesday Business Club The Wednesday Business Club is an independent, “one member one category” group run by its members for its members.

7.15 in the morning, surprisingly on a Wednesday, the club has structured meetings with many of the familiar networking activities.

Meeting at The LIttlebury Hotel, Kings End, Bicester at

Contact for more

information, meeting dates, membership and programme details, check out our web site at where we are adding more as we build the web site.


DIVINE INSPIRATION When B4 were invited to experience all that the Vineyard in Berkshire had to offer, the level of hospitality extended to us was exemplary. Richard Rosser opens the door to one of the country’s finest hotels and its outstanding restaurant, which has earned two Michelin stars thanks to its much-decorated chef John Campbell.

Paula Wynne, PR and Marketing Manager at the Vineyard, and her colleague Justine were our hosts for the hotel tour. The hotel boasts 49 individually designed rooms, all of which take their names from wines. The focal point in each of the Grand Suites – Mon Plaisir and La Carriere – is the stunning four poster bed, and they also offer a luxuriously traditional bathroom and a beautifully furnished lounge.

The Vineyard at Stockcross, named after the Sir Peter Michael Winery in the mountainous landscape of northern California, is a shrine to quality, high standards and exquisite food. Nestling in the Berkshire countryside, the Vineyard offers visitors a diverse range of both cultural and leisure pursuits, despite its proximity to Heathrow, London and the Home Counties.

Now, I’m no wine buff, but head sommelier Hubert has to be. With 24,000 bottles of wine to control (2,400 bins), an in-depth knowledge of the subject is a fundamental pre-requisite. And, quoted in the hotel’s brochure, Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber is obviously a fan: “If you have the remotest interest in wine, you must hasten to this restaurant immediately. If you really love wine, take a suite for a week. I have rarely, and certainly never in a new restaurant, seen a list that remotely touches what Sir Peter and his sommelier have put together.”

Upon arrival, I did my best to knock myself out on the out-swinging doors, but that was the most uncomfortable experience I was to endure in the ensuing twelve hours. I was taken aback by the sincerity of our welcome and the abundance of art and sculptures, inspired by Sir Peter’s patronage of the arts. Whether you are looking for a venue for a party, conference, wedding or just a special evening with your partner, the unique mix of hospitality, superb décor, firs-class wines and unsurpassable cuisine will ensure a quite unforgettable occasion.


The Vineyard Spa is an oasis of tranquillity to unite the body, mind and spirit. With treatment suites, gym, pool, sauna and steam room, what more could you crave? Guests can also indulge in outdoor pursuits such as golf at the hotel’s own golf course at Donnington Valley, fishing on one of the finest beats on the River Kennet or shooting at the hotel’s exclusive estate, Eddington. However, the main accolades – other than those reserved for the owner – must go to the hotel’s main man. John Campbell is a star, TV gold if he wanted to be.

B4 AFAR Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, and John gives me some background: “Heston and I used to meet and chat about the science of foods and our backgrounds, and our approach is very similar but our results and findings over the past six years have been very different. Both of our philosophies are very scientific, but Heston puts his science in the restaurant and I put mine in the kitchen. “What I produce looks great and tastes great, but it is normal food. There are no fireworks, no fanfare ... We just extract so much flavour and so much texture from our food, but all we are offering is a piece of chicken that tastes like the first piece of chicken you ever tasted. “The media have put the molecular gastronomy tag above Heston’s door and mine, and those of more chefs latterly over the last four years. Molecular gastronomy has been around for the past 4,000 years; it’s not new, but just because we don’t understand what is happening, we think it’s a revolution. It’s not, it’s just a new style of food. “Nouvelle cuisine was perceived as a new type of food, but it wasn’t a fad of the mid-1980s. Nouvelle cuisine is what we are producing; it is a new style in any era, and we were pioneers of the style we have developed.

But that’s his endearing quality; he doesn’t want the adulation or the plaudits, just a wonderful product, a great team and a first-class restaurant. John grew up in Liverpool, where his grandmother ignited his love of food by showing him how to make the most out of poor quality fayre. After leaving school before taking any exams and getting thrown off a religious studies course (for suggesting that Jesus stayed at a Travelodge on the road to Damascus!), John took a short catering course and soon found himself as a “fixer” for Forte, travelling the world to turn around poorly-performing restaurants. He then became executive sous-chef at Grosvenor House aged just 25, heading up a team of around 50, and after opening a restaurant for a BBC programme, he moved to the Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire, sister hotel of the Feathers in Woodstock. He then moved to the Vineyard in 2002. I ask John about the comparison with the infamous

“The Egyptians found out they could make bread with beer, as beer has natural fermentation processes. This is molecular gastronomy, understanding what is happening to food, and that is the most important part of our kitchen make-up: what happens to food when we apply heat, or another ingredient or a chemical reaction? Armed with this information, we are in a better position to control the food’s capabilities. We can extend the window of ‘getting it right’ or take risk out, as you do in any business.” John’s success is built on the foundation of a great team, both in the kitchen and in the restaurant, and they have nailed their colours to John’s mast by showing their commitment. “My sommellier, sous-chef, restaurant manager and head chef have all committed for a further two years, which is very unusual.” John then takes me into the kitchen which, in his words, is “run by the restaurant”. I am shown Merlot vinegar filtered in fly larvae, a “ferment” which has

been “fed” for 15 years (John also likes to refer to this as “the bitch!”), stock in huge vats, de-veined foie gras, and fresh fish caught that day. The meat and fish are remarkably soft and tender. It’s difficult to explain, but the food looks alive, without having life. It seems as though it is caught in a stage between life and death and that John has somehow suspended the process until making the final preparations and serving. One thing that strikes me in such a huge kitchen is the extraordinary calm and relaxed atmosphere – no temper tantrums, inflated egos or berated servers being bellowed at by irate chefs. It epitomises everything that John has already told me. If ever there was a man who derived pleasure from his job, it is John Campbell. The more I make it quite obvious that I am to food writing what John Prescott is to page three modelling, the more he wants to educate me. It is a virtuous circle. I enjoy the one-on-one tutorial so much that I think, quite subconsciously, I eventually start to act dumb just to be taught more, to hear someone so in tune with his chosen profession. I ask if John sees himself at the Vineyard long term. “It’s a question a lot of people ask me, especially since the two stars. I cannot see myself going anywhere

else; I really want to sit back and consolidate and enjoy the spoils of my hard work.” As I leave the kitchen, John suggests we try the tasting menu for dinner. Ten courses later ... wow, great spoils! What the papers say Tatler Restaurant Guide “We’re huge fans of John Campbell’s cooking: properly constructed, gutsy dishes using prime produce.” “The number one reason to go to The Vineyard is the dining experience. Directed by the remarkable John Campbell, recently awarded his richly deserved second Michelin star, you can expect nothing less than world class cuisine.” The Times, Sudi Pigott “Campbell cooks like a man possessed, playing with ideas to extract every gram of potential.” Contact details on page 58


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PARK PLAZA HOTELS EUROPE B4 were invited to meet Alistair Watts, Director of Marketing for Park Plaza Hotels, to find out more about the new Park Plaza County Hall opening in London Waterloo later this year. We also found out more about the group’s philosophy and the seemingly unquenchable thirst for hotel rooms in London. I had the pleasure of meeting Alistair at the group’s Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street, where Alistair explained the group’s philosophy. “At Park Plaza we believe that it is a friendly and human approach to the hotel business that helps us to deliver a superior guest experience in our hotels. Our brand essence is “quality time – Park Plaza time”, which stems from a belief that our success depends on the quality of the guest experience in our hotels. Relaxation, enjoyment, exploration and great value are core to our brand DNA, and our hotels aim to provide guests with all four elements in equal measure to guarantee them quality time spent in our establishments.” Over the last 15 years Park Plaza Hotels Europe has developed a portfolio of 25 contemporary hotels based in excellent city centre locations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary. Locations within the United Kingdom include four London addresses, Park Plaza Riverbank London, Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London, Park Plaza Victoria London and Plaza on the River, plus Nottingham, Leeds, Belfast and the Park Plaza Cardiff, which won the prestigious accolade of AA Hotel of the Year in Wales for 2006/2007.

Park Plaza is enjoying rapid growth and London is at the heart of their plans, with two grand hotels under development and more in the pipeline. In September 2007, a 400-bedroom new-build hotel will open in London’s popular South Bank area close to County Hall and the London Eye. The Park Plaza County Hall promises to be a new breed of luxury London hotel, with affordable suites made possible thanks to revolutionary design.

guest surveys revealed new opportunities to improve product and service standards, such as focusing on user-friendly light switches and the launch of the “warmest welcome in the business” programme.

In 2010, the group will open its sixth London hotel, the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, offering 1,000 bedrooms on the site once occupied, according to a BBC phone-in, by Britain’s ugliest building.

“In terms of retaining our customers, we have launched a loyalty programme. Gold Points Plus was launched in October last year and we already have 3,000 members signed up. This enables members to get points at 1,000 hotels worldwide as we are part of a larger network worldwide. Points are then redeemed against offers like a subscription to The Economist.

The unusual aspect of the builds is that the rooms are being sold on a 999-year lease with a guaranteed 6% return up to 2015 (see full details at The group must be confident that there is adequate demand to fill such huge hotels, and Alistair justifies this investment on the basis of status. “In terms of London as a market, New York has recently voted London as the world’s capital, and the continued development in London demonstrates that this tag is deserved. The development of skyscrapers has been opened up, and we continue to look at a number of sites as we have plans to develop the London base further.” Surveys the company has undertaken to better understand the needs of their guests, travel agents, clients and staff have mirrored the thoughts and vision of the company's senior management. The

“The survey threw up some interesting results,” comments Alistair. “Many customers pitched Park Plaza hotels at the same level as five star hotel groups such as Hilton and W Hotels.

“We are also trying to become more environmentally friendly. We send out 60,000 e-mails per month and do little, if any, paper marketing. We also have a programme called Treat, which encapsulates our drive to make all of our hotels carbon friendly by being more energy efficient and disposing of our waste properly. We are launching a 100% carbon-neutral concept restaurant at Park Plaza County Hall which, for example, will use locally-sourced products and environmentally-friendly caught fish.” If you would like to sample the Park Plaza experience, B4 readers are invited to see the special offer on page 5. Contact details on page 58


A CULTURAL REVOLUTION The people of Britain are getting fussy about food. A nation hooked on Saturday Kitchen and Jamie Oliver cookbooks understands food better than ever before and will no longer accept mediocrity when parting with its hard-earned cash for dinner in the local restaurant. B4 visit the new-look Aziz Restaurant to find out how it is meeting these high expectations by offering a superior dining experience in sumptuously revamped surroundings.


B4 PR If chefs are the new celebrities, then good restaurants are now the places to be seen, and the competition for attracting and retaining the new discerning breed of clientele is very tough . So when all of your competition is opening contemporary, open-plan, modern Indian restaurants, what do you do? You buck the trend. You keep your flagship restaurant at the top of the game by re-establishing a true sense of traditional style and elegance. You pay immaculate attention to detail and create a space that transports you to a different continent, to a time when each restaurant had its individual character.

towards the modern style of Indian restaurant. We are looking to recreate the tradition and history of a classic restaurant in the Indian subcontinent.” We’ve all been to one of the modern places he’s describing. They have white walls, wood floors and spotlights. Yes, they feel clean and fresh, but ultimately they are lacking any real soul or sense of the country or continent they are trying to represent. The decoration in the new Aziz is subtle, yet strikes exactly the right note. Despite the restaurant being fully air-conditioned, they have installed large ceiling fans, and the lighting above the wall hangings blends seamlessly with the warm dark terracotta walls. The reception area feels calm and comfortable and when you walk to your table the carpets feel luxurious and traditional. Head chef Nurul Amin has been at the Aziz since 1995, so we ask him whether the refurb has also incuded a change in menu. “Our main focus was to become ten times better in the look of the restaurant,” says Aziz, “and because the food has always been fantastic it’s very hard to improve on that. But yes, we do have some new and exciting dishes on the menu!” Aziz is a busy man, so after 20 minutes of enthusiastically telling me about his new tribute to old world class, he darts off to another meeting and leaves me talking to his son Abdul Rahman, who tells me how they are getting involved in some exciting community events around the city. “The opening is

Aziz Rahman knows all about beating the competition – he’s been doing it at the Aziz on the Cowley Road for nearly 20 years. In a recent Oxford Mail review, Katherine MacAlister described the restaurant as “streets ahead of the rest”, and that was before the refurbishment started. When you look from your table back through the Taj Mahal-style archways and past the rich wall tapestries towards the entrance, you understand what Aziz has been trying to achieve. He explained his approach when I visited the restaurant a few weeks ago, while the finishing touches were still being made: “In some of the new-style Indian or Bangladeshi restaurants, you could be sitting in an Italian or French place and only realise where you are when the food comes out. They are all becoming contemporary, but we are reacting against that push

The Aziz is also the major sponsor of the Children’s Food Festival, which is happening on 14-15 June at Northmoor as part of the “Oxford Inspires” celebration. Organisers are expecting thousands of visitors, and the aim is to teach children about food from different cultures. This kind of education is vital if we are going to bring up a new generation of people in a truly multicultural society. I, for one, would love my sons to tell me that they don’t fancy a McDonalds but would love a chicken biryani instead! Abdul got into the family business a couple of years ago after a background in computing. He has been able to help his dad implement some key changes to the way their business operates, to ensure it stays ahead of the game in all areas. “One of the first things I did was to put an EPOS system in the new restaurant. We are also having a lot of success with online ordering, which is really driving the takeaway business forwards.” Most of his time is spent at the family’s sister restaurant, the Aziz Pandesia on Folly Bridge, which has recently won a long-running court battle to enable them to use the pontoon. “The court decision is a real added bonus for Oxford people who want to enjoy dining on the river. It is stunning in the summer and simply something you can’t do anywhere else in the city.” With two great restaurants in the city, the Aziz brand is really going from strength to strength in Oxford. Stay fussy, people, stay fussy. Contact details on page 58

good timing, because we have a very exciting summer coming up. The first event we are involved in is the open river day for ‘Go with the Flow’ on 7 May.” Go with the Flow is part of the 1000 years of Oxfordshire celebrations and aims to help people enjoy the waterways of the county, promoting opportunities for sport and wellbeing. Aziz is one of the main sponsors, and to launch the festival there will be a gala held on the riverbank with food, drink, music and of course (we are in Oxford after all) a boat race. A team of rowers with spectacular costumes and drummers is flying over from Bangladesh and competing against teams from Oxford. It is the first time ever that this style of racing, known as nowka bais, has ever happened on the Thames.


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B4 Magazine Issue 4  

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

B4 Magazine Issue 4  

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