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H E A LT H •



R & R



The Queen, Bananas, Medals & more The Oakley Court’s General Manager, Richard Smith, talks to B4 and certainly covers the ground!

The Racecourse Newbury News from B4’s newest B4 Platinum Ambassadors

A Quarterly Snapshot The BDO Thames Valley Business Barometer





Join the B4 Community 2



So What is B4? B4 is the fastest growing business to business network, providing over 500 businesses in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire with four great platforms to promote and connect their businesses. It's a business network with a difference where we facilitate face to face contact with other Members at B4 events held in iconic locations.
















4 Effective Platforms to Help You Connect 1

B4 Magazine - Packed with great features, news and promotional articles mailed free to 3,000 business decision makers (separate circulation of 3,000 in each county)


B4 Website - Upload press releases direct to the site and promote forthcoming events and seminars. All B4 articles printed are uploaded to the business directory on the site.


B4 Events - Meet other B4 members at high quality B4 events in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire...Why not even bring a guest?


B4 Workshops - Promote your business to other B4 members at our workshops, a great way to get your message across.

Why Become a Member? Memberships are specific to one area, not all, and gives your business a listing in the back of your chosen area B4 Magazine. A listing on the business directory of the relevant B4 website but access to all B4 events in all areas (restrictions may apply due to capacity limitations and we do have some Platinum Ambassador only events). Members can also promote their status on company e-mails and websites with our new B4 Member icons

Why Not Upgrade to an Ambassador? Becoming an Ambassador gets a face to represent your business in the B4 community, Your chosen Ambassador will feature alongside your listing in the magazine directory, on your on line business directory listing and also in the Ambassadors’ section on the B4 website. Being an Ambassador gives you something in common to approach other B4 Ambassadors throughout the network. The rate to become an Ambassador is £250+VAT per annum.

Become a B4 Member in less than 24 hours Here's what we need to get you started: 1. Your Logo - high quality is a must and in one of the following formats: jpeg, eps, pdf, ai 2. Between 50 and 300 words about your business - See the website for some great examples 3. Basic contact details - Basic contact details e.g. Address, telephone number, email address Our system will automatically generate a user name and password (which you can change) and you are ready to put up your first Press Release. But Don't Worry! There's a helpful online guide to assist you and we're always at the end of the phone.

Join B4 for as little as £150+VAT per annum B4 Membership is based on your number of employees and not the number of staff who could attend events: Rates start at just £150+VAT for sole traders and other single person entities. Rates increase to £250+VAT for 2 to 5, £375+VAT for 6 to 20 and so on. See for full details.

What about Editorial in the Magazine? Looks complicated? Well it's not! We can set you up to have your picture taken at our associate's studio. We can get one of our freelance PR or Editor to interview you. You have Full Editorial Control so, nothing's printed without your agreement. Editorial pages start at £500+VAT and we can do almost all of it for you! Just ask!

Get Connected to our Growing Community Now:

Call Us Now - 01865 742211 B
















S Contacts If you want to contact B4 Magazine Telephone: 0118 317 7183 E-mail: Publisher B4 Magazine is published by Designs On Ltd, The Firs, Headington Hill, Oxford OX3 0BT Chairman Colin Rosser Editor Richard Rosser Events Director Tina Rosser Client Services Director John F Kennedy Art Editor Rob Scotcher Assistant Editor Lorna Dodson Proofreader Sue Rosser

Welcome to B4 Inside

Welcome to Issue 4.

We have recently held a B4 event at Williams F1 in Oxfordshire which was attended by over 240 members of the growing B4 community, which now includes over 600 businesses in the Thames Valley.

The event encapsulated everything that B4 is becoming – a fantastic platform for businesses in the Thames Valley to meet, face to face, and do business. We had businesses of all sizes, from sole traders to national organisations, from a wide range of sectors, but, most importantly, we had businesses from different counties making connections.

26. Grant Thornton

In the past few months, I have had more people talk to me about the positive outcomes from being a B4

Tax for Entrepreneurs Explained

member than ever before. I am hearing about plenty of instances where members have chosen other B4 members because of that simple fact. They feel a B4 membership gives a certain level of endorsement, or they have met the other member in question at an event which has given them confidence to do business with them. That’s how B4 can work for you, it can help put your business in the spotlight in the magazine, on line and face to face and that’s half the battle. The rest is down to you.

Editorial Contributors Ashley Merry Eliott Benoist Emma Watts George Walker George Ramsay James White Jane Reay Jess Houtby Jo Willett Louise Esplin Lucy Holmes

As the year draws to an end we look back on our launches in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire in 2012 knowing that there is so much more to do in both areas before we can begin to reflect the success B4 has enjoyed in Oxfordshire over nearly seven years. It is coming, and the more we can get businesses working with each other across the network, confidence will continue to grow that B4 can secure your company results. Why not give me a call personally and I will be delighted to explain how your business can benefit from B4 membership.

Hotel. We enjoyed a wonderful event at this fabulous property in Windsor earlier this year and look forward

Carli Adby of ADBY Creative Richard Shymansky Studio 8

registration will be announced soon.

Studio Photography

If you would like to attend a B4 event in Berkshire, why not join us at Newbury Racecourse on January


to May 9th when The Oakley Court will host one of our four B4 Ambassadors Events – details regarding

16th? More details can be found at in the B4 Events section.

Enjoy B4 and all the best for 2013.

42. Reading College

For free Subscription, please contact: Telephone: 0118 317 7183 E-mail: Each business with a Berkshire post code is entitled to one free copy per issue. For additional copies and for businesses outside of Berkshire, there is an annual subscription charge of £25. © 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 Magazine is printed by

Mr Smith and the Thought Police

In this issue of B4 Buckinghamshire, we welcome Richard Smith, General Manager of The Oakley Court

B4 Photography

Richard Shymansky of

32. Pitmans

The Reading College Programme Richard Rosser Editor



B4 Magazine was established in 2006 to provide Oxfordshire businesses with a clear voice to raise their profile and to help businesses connect. With B4 Berkshire, we hope to achieve greater success now that the model has been established and refined. Direct mailed to three thousand business decision makers in Berkshire every quarter, and with a further four and a half thousand copies circulated to key outlets, featured businesses and made available at B4 events, we hope to make a mark in Berkshire businesses. B4 is funded by paid for display advertising and editorial, although some editorial is granted without charge at the discretion of the Editor. Please call us to find out how you can connect with our networks in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. See more at which will give you access to both Oxfordshire and Berkshire networks, and now also Buckinghamshire. WHY NOT FOLLOW B4 MAGAZINE ON

46. Lloyds TSB With Area Director, Paul Smart




18 The Queen, Bananas, Gold Medals and Rocky Horror: All in a day's work for The Oakley Court's GM, Richard Smith

20 The Oakley Court: Need a break? Need a venue? The Oakley Court has it all

42 What Employers Can Gain From Work Experience: The Reading College Programme




38 Reading 107: A Truly Local Story 50 Platinum Ambassador Spotlight: David Robertson, Commercial Director, Buildbase 62 Mixing Business With Pleasure: Entrepreneur Bob Walton talks to B4 about The Nth Degree Club


11 B4 News


14 IOD News 16 FSB News 34 The Racecourse Newbury


22 Coutts: The outlook for the Eurozone and the UK economy

55 6

26 Tax for Entrepreneurs Explained: With Grant Thornton's Vicky Lad 30 Pitmans LLP: Mr Smith and the Thought Police


40 BDO: A Quarterly Snapshot: The BDO Thames Valley Business Barometer update

55 And The Winner Is?: Intouch CRM wins The Software Satisfaction Award

44 Manches: Preventing and Responding to Problems with Squatters

B4 contents 46



46 Open and Ready for Business: With Paul Smart, Area Director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the Thames Valley

28 Browns: Simple, classic and freshly prepared

32 Are you concerned about your exposure under Corporate Manslaughter Laws?: Ultimate Car Control UK Ltd


47 Lloyds TSB Commercial: Driving New Business Through Access to Finance 48 Future Looks Healthy for Burnham Medical Centre: Thanks to a ÂŁ1 million loan from Lloyds TSB Commercial


36 The Vineyard: 100 Wines To Enjoy By The Glass


53 The Beetle and Wedge: Fine dining by the river 56 Sign-up for B4 Box Office: Why be sofa bound when you can enjoy live events in style? 58 Reading FC: There's no better place to entertain in the Thames Valley 60 'Mal': Dare to be different in 2013, keep it local 66 Lancaster London: The best views in town? Probably! 72 The Old Swan and Minster Mill: Just a short drive from Berkshire you will find this haven, immerse yourself in its tranquility

70 HR


64 Strangebrew: Potent and intoxicating but reassuringly inexpensive

70 HR2YOU: Showing no signs of letting up with continued expansion





B4 Platinum Ambassadors We would like to thank our B4 Platinum Ambassadors for supporting B4 Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. To find out more about joining them and over five hundred B4 Member companies, please call us on 0118 317 7183.





Residential Letting · Property Management

meet oxfordshire

With annual memberships starting at £150+VAT*, entitling you to a business directory listing and unlimited press release, event, job vacancy and offer uploads, it’s no wonder our membership is increasing daily. Members are also invited to events in all B4 areas, up to 12 per annum. Call us now on 0118 317 7183 to book your membership or e-mail for more details. The B4 Website – the most efficient way to network your business from your PC! *Quoted rate is Membership for single person businesses. Rate increases for 2 to 5 employees to £250+VAT, 6 to 20 employees to £375+VAT per annum, £500+VAT for 21 to 50, £900+VAT for 51 to 100 and £1200+VAT for over 100 employees. The Ambassador scheme is separate and subject to a different charge.


An inspired choice of venue The Oakley Court Hotel has vast experience of hosting major conferences in stunning surroundings making it an inspired choice of venue. Hold your conference at Oakley Court and you’ll impress, captivate and inspire your delegates. We guarantee the very best in service standards offering conference suites and executive boardrooms within a prestigious location. Our unique rooms range from original rooms in the Mansion House which are over 150 years old with high ceilings and original features, to a purpose built function room called The Boathouse on the banks of the River Thames. It’s not only the picturesque riverside setting that creates the wow factor; extensive leisure facilities, fine dining and impeccable service all play their part in creating a memorable conference.

At A Glance UÊDedicated Meeting and Conference Coordinators UÊ œ˜virence facilities for up to 170

UÊ œ“«ˆ“i˜Ì>ry water UÊՏÞÊÃ̜VŽi`ÊÃÌ>̈œ˜iry kit UÊ1ÃiʜvʏiˆÃÕre facilities for overnight

UÊExecutive boardrooms for 4 – 30

delegates – indoor pool, gymnasium,

UÊExtensively equipped to meet your

tennis and 9 hole par 3 golf course



UÊ œ˜virence café



UÊÊÓÊ,œÃiÌÌiÊ>Ü>À`Ê܈˜˜ˆ˜}Ê ˆ˜ˆ˜}Ê,œœ“

UÊTailor made all inclusive packages

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The Oakley Court, Windsor Road, Water Oakley, Windsor SL4 5UR. 01753 609988

B4 news Lift off for Morgan Cole with new defence and aerospace lawyer Defence and aerospace lawyer Christian Davies has joined Reading law firm Morgan Cole. Having qualified in 2006, Mr Davies previously worked in Abu Dhabi for Presidential Guard Command of the UAE Armed Forces (previously known as Special Operations Command) advising on technology procurement and outsourcing projects.

Mr Davies has particular experience advising on technology procurement, managed equipment services, software licensing and outsourcing. He is a member of the Society of Computers and Law and ECTI Accredited Export Compliance Professional-ITAR (Defence Trade Controls).

Specialising in IT, communication, defence and business process outsourcing (BPO) transactions,

BDO’s Danny Dartnaill to lead the way in new role Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP has appointed a former London partner, Danny Dartnaill, as the partner to lead its Business Restructuring team in Reading and the Thames Valley area. Danny has specialised in insolvency, business restructuring and turnaround work for more than 12 years and has spent the last nine years working from the firm’s London office. Danny comments: “BDO has a fantastic, wellestablished and respected team of restructuring professionals in Reading and I’m excited about the opportunity of leading the team here. Reading and the surrounding area is a strong market in its own right, very distinct from London, with its own network of advisors and professionals”. Commenting on the economic environment, Danny says: “The market’s elusive search for growth continues to present a challenging landscape for UK

businesses, especially in the mid-market and Directors should not be embarrassed to seek help or guidance in these difficult times.” “Genuine restructuring will continue to play a huge role over the next few years and I would urge businesses to take stock of their financial position and operational performance, and seek advice if they have concerns. “The winners will be those who accept that the economy is not going to bounce back in the shortterm and, in the context of this new norm, take action.” He went on to say that the key to success in current markets is based on consumer value, client service, innovation and adaptability. Danny will work closely alongside business restructuring directors Tim Townley, Andy Smith, David Smithson and Matthew Fox.

Amarestone’s ‘Stone Design Studio’ Grand Event Find out everything you need to know about choosing, installing and maintaining Natural Stone.

CPD attendance is FOC to RIBA members. Space is limited, please book early to avoid disappointment.

18th & 19th January 2013 Kings Worthy, Winchester.

Saturday 19th– Public Day • See our Stone Masons at work • Bring your plans and discuss your next project with our experienced installations team. • Browse our extensive library of marble, limestone, slate and other stone samples. • Get advice from the experts on all aspects of sealing, maintaining and restoring natural stone.

Friday 18th - Architects and Interior Designers CPD seminars: • The importance of correct sealing and maintenance of Natural Stone – Fila • Sustainability of Natural Stone – Stone Federation of GB • Wet‐room construction – Marmox

Locally sourced refreshments will be served on both days.

Please call Steve or Denise at Amarestone on 0845 260 80 70 or email





B 4


Book your place now B4 OXFORDSHIRE EDUCATION The Business of Education will be circulated to 9,000 business decision makers in the Thames Valley, inserted into the first editions of B4 in 2013. A mixture of educational establishments and businesses will be included in the publication, providing each with the opportunity to promote how they interact whilst at the same time promoting, for educational establishments, their facilities, courses, performance and other points of interest and, for businesses, and overview of what the company does and other points of interest. There is no fixed structure to this publication, so although the following points are suggestions of content that could be included, they are by no means definitive and each educational establishment and business can promote itself how it wishes in order to get its message across. Please see overleaf some examples of editorials which have featured in previous editions of B4 Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. You can view these articles in full on line by visiting the article archive at for each county website.

FOR EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS • About the establishment • Quotes from or interview with the Head or Principal • How the establishment interacts with the local business community • How local businesses can interact with the establishment • Courses on offer – MBA, even courses in self improvement • Benefits of a student attending the establishment • Outcomes of a student attending the establishment • Section on League Tables (if relevant) • Quotes from students • Images of the establishment • Partners the establishment has worked with in the local business community with case studies

FOR THE BUSINESSES • About the business • Quote from or interview with the Chief Executive or Student Programme Director • How the business interacts with the local educational community • How local educational establishments can interact with the business • Benefits of students working with the business • Quotes from students who have worked at the business or current employees who joined, initially, as students • Typical opportunities available to students • Educational establishments the business has worked with in the local community with case studies

T O B O O K O R F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N , C A L L B 4 O N 0 1 8 6 5 7 4 2 2 1 1 T O D AY

B4 news The Dorchester Unveils Festive Gingerbread Replica Of Hotel The Dorchester has kicked off the festive seasonwith the unveiling of a children’s SweetEmporium and gingerbread replica of the hotel for Christmas, 1:100 the size of the actualbuilding. Children visiting the hotel duringDecember will also be swept into a magical experience at the Sweet Emporium by ‘Sweets in the City’ tucked inside a festive nook in the lobby. The gingerbread model of the hotel was constructed directly from the original blue print produced by The Dorchester’s architect when the

hotel first opened in the 1930s. 200 pats of butter were used in its creation, alongside icing sugar snow and pastillage (decorative icing) used to portray distinctive features such as architectural ‘D’ at the top of the building. Adding a little Dorchester glamour, backlit silhouettes suggest scenes that might be taking place behind the hallowed walls, such as guests getting ready to go out, children receiving presents and figures dancing the night away…even Father Christmas can be spotted.

Christmas At Coworth Park This is a three-night celebratory affair and beginswith Christmas Afternoon Tea and predinner champagne on arrival, followed by dinner in either The Barn or Restaurant Coworth Park – depending on guests’ preference - on Christmas Eve, ending with a car transfer to Sunningdale Parish for Midnight Mass. The following two days include festive breakfasts, lunches and dinners, tea and cakes served alongside entertainment by Coworth Park’s pianist. The Tower House cinema will be showing the Queen’s speech; complimentary Chocolate Masterclass with the hotel’s chocolatier and a Wine Tasting Masterclass available for adults on Boxing Day, while kids can attend a cookie decorating class in the hotel’s kitchens; a behind-the-scene tour of the hotel; nightly story time with cookies and milk for young guests; membership to the dedicated Coworth Park Kids club and much more. ‘Christmas at Coworth Park’ is available from Monday 24th December 2012 and starts from £390 inclusive of

VAT and breakfast per person per night with dining in The Barn; and from £450 inclusive of VAT and breakfast per person per night with dining in Restaurant Coworth Park. Just 45 minutes from Central London, Dorchester Collection’s luxury country house hotel and spa, Coworth Park in Berkshire is situated within 240 acres of picturesque parkland, making it an idyllic location for a festive UK getaway. Throughout December, Christmas Afternoon Tea will be served in The Drawing Room with a choir singing festive carols during weekend sittings. Seasonal Christmas menus have been designed by executive chef, Brian Hughson and will be offered at Restaurant Coworth Park and The Barn. Nonresidents are welcome to join and private dining is also available upon request.

B4 Berkshire Event at Newbury Racecourse – 16th January, 2013 The Racecourse Newbury in Berkshire is not only a top sporting venue but also a first class conference & events venue. Home to the famous Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury offers some of the best horseracing in the country with raceday hospitality to match. Join us for the first B4 event of 2013 for a day’s racing and networking. This is a great opportunity for members from all areas to meet eachother as the event is open to all B4 Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire members and their guests. If you’re not a B4 member already, come and join us as our guests

to find out more about B4 and network with existing members. Just open to 100 and just under 50 places remaining at time of going to press. Register at Event times: 12.30pm to 4.30pm For details about a coach being organised from Oxford, please contact


news Berkshire

Words from IoD Berkshire Chairman Value versus Price: With tighter financial constraints and eversmarter buyers, your customers are likely to be searching the market more keenly than ever for products and services that offer best value. Of course, best value doesn’t necessarily mean lowest price and many factors will contribute to where a prospect places their business. This subject of value versus price was discussed at a recent Institute of Directors breakfast meeting at

L’ortolan restaurant. Feedback from group discussions was that for most business to business transactions, price alone is not the key factor. Value is really a measure of the benefits we can provide against the price to be paid by the customer. However, it’s important to remember that this price may not only be financial; it can be other things a purchaser may have to give up, such as spending time learning to use new software; the cost of disruption during installation of a new product; or

changing to new processes. In conclusion, it’s not just price but the mismatch between value and price that leads to financial under-performance or, even worse, lost sales. If you are interested in attending one or our IoD Berkshire breakfasts discussion groups please contact Juliet Rushent

IoD Berkshire Events UK economic outlook in 2013/14 - How strong will the recovery be? Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 Time:18:30 – 21:00 Venue: IQ Slough, Marketing Suite, 210 Bath Road, Slough, SL1 3YD Price: £10 + VAT Members & guests. Non members £20 + VAT We’re holding a unique event on 23 January 2013 at SEGRO which will give you the opportunity to network with IoD members, identify ways to help your business develop and get a better understanding on what the Economic outlook might look like. During the evening you will hear from

IoD’s Chief Economist, Graeme Leach - What needs to happen to speed up the recovery? Will it happen? What are the threats to recovery? A guide to what directors need to know and how to spot the signs of accelerating or weakening recovery. Where better to hold the event than with a company that has shown their confidence in business growth by announcing the largest new development in the Thames Valley, IQ Slough – a dynamic mixed-use office led scheme. Kate Dean, SEGRO’s Regional Director responsible for offices will tell us about their exciting new 1.6 million sq ft

development as well as other innovative plans to support the community such as Slough Aspire, one of the country’s most innovative training and development schemes.

Learn how to manage the media and grow your business Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Time: 18:30 – 21:00 Venue: Media First, Holybrook House, 63 Castle Street, Reading, RG1 7SN Price: £10 + VAT Members & guests. Non members £20 + VAT

the media as part of your crisis management or business continuity plan? Whatever your opinion or experiences of the media it is vital that you are capable of delivering your messages to journalists with confidence, clarity and control. If you don’t your competition will.

Would you like to generate more local, regional, national or online publicity for your business? Perhaps you want to feel better prepared to handle

This exclusive networking evening is a unique chance to explore how your business can benefit from engaging with the media. You will hear from

current working journalists, Charles Abel & Dominic Green. You will be given the chance to test your skills in realistic TV and radio studio environments.

Driving for the Dynamic Director Improve your driving skills & reduce the risk of accidents. Date: Thursday, March 7, 2013 Time: 13:00 – 16:00 Venue: Ultimate Car Control, Transport Research Laboratory, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA Price: £110 + VAT Members & guests. Non members £130 + VAT This course will effectively impart a level of driving ability and safety that most people never experience. The DEK (Driver Encoded Knowledge)


program is designed to reduce accidents and highlight corporate exposure in order that IoD members are able to effectively understand the legal requirements, protect staff and reduce the likelihood of any potential litigation under The Corporate Manslaughter Bill. During the afternoon each driver will drive 5 different Jaguar’s including the outstanding XKR and XFR 500 horsepower models. This is a fun practical course for all levels of experience.

news Since our AGM’s in November, both Reading and West Berkshire and the East Berkshire committees have been busy looking at priorities for the coming year. Reading and West Berkshire now have a series of regular events; FSB Connections which run on the first Wednesday of each month and the Reading and Newbury Curry Clubs which are also monthly events. The FSB Connections event rotates location on a monthly basis between Reading, Newbury and Henley and is primarily a business networking event. East Berkshire are holding monthly “Meet and Eat” – networking to whet your appetite events in Wokingham and Slough and with some more formal networking events across the region. Some are FREE to attend and all events are open to members and non members. On the policy front, we want to engage more with our local MPs to help reinforce the concerns of our local small businesses. We also want to try to help improve business engagement with the colleges and their students, particularly around apprenticeships. More information on local policy issues and events can be found at Thanks – Richard Knight (Chair of East Berkshire) and Martin Judd (Chair of Reading and West Berkshire)

FSB networking events Newbury Curry Club 18:00 - 20:30, The Indian Lounge, 51-52 Cheap Street, Newbury, RG14 5BX Monday 14th January , Monday 11th February, Monday 11th March This event is held on the second Monday of every month. Price includes a first drink, and Curry Buffet meal. Price: £15.00, payable on the night. Please confirm your attendance in advance to

Reading Curry Club 18:00 - 20:00, Royal Tandoori, 4 Duke Street, Reading RG1 4RY Tuesday 29th January, Tuesday 26th February, Tuesday 26th March This event is held on the last Tuesday of every month. Price includes a first drink, and two courses. Price: £15.00, payable on the night. Please confirm your attendance in advance to

FSB Connections Wednesday 6 February: 18:30 - 20:30, Newbury College, Newbury Meet the FSB - FSB Members Free, Non Members £5.00 Wednesday 6th March 18:30 - 20:30, Henley River and Rowing Museum, Henley Meet the FSB - FSB Members FREE, Non Members £5.00

Meet and Eat Wokingham 6pm to 8pm – second Wednesday of each month Wednesday 9th January, Wednesday 13th February, Wednesday 13th March Always the second Wednesday of each month and the aim for 2013 is to rotate around a number of local restaurants. Always start at 6pm to 8pm. Always £15. Always informal and please email for more information or to book in.

Bracknell Business Club 6pm to 8pm – third Thursday of each month 17th January, 21st February, 21st March Always the third Thursday of each month and the event is held at the Atrium in Bracknell – on the ring road. This is a FREE event. Tea and coffee is provided and it is an informal event and an opportunity to meet other local like minded business people. Please email for more information or to book in.

Hilton Business Breakfast, Bracknell 7am to 9am – first Wednesday of each month 6th February, 6th March Always the first Wednesday of each month and an opportunity to enjoy a great breakfast and great company. Also an opportunity to promote your business and have an opportunity to have 2 x 5 minute one to ones with someone else in the room. Cost is £15 and you can book in at


“ We had a cracking 2012 with the

Olympics. We were the base camp for Team GB Rowing and Team GB Canoeing and the base camp for BOA” 18


THE QUEEN, BANANAS, GOLD MEDALS AND ROCKY HORROR General Manager of The Oakley Court Hotel, Richard Smith, spoke with B4’s Richard Rosser about his career, his personal thoughts on this fabulous hotel and conference centre in Windsor and his plans to help those entering the hospitality industry emulate his career path from waiter to general manager.

So, where did it all begin? “I began by working as a waiter when I left school and then joined Whitbread, starting in Bristol where I was born and bred. I then moved to The Breadsall Priory Hotel and Country Club in Derby at a time when the Marriott’s were being franchised and embarked upon a period of moving from one Marriott to another including Glasgow, Milton Keynes Courtyard by Marriott and then, finally, The Bristol City Centre Marriott, the largest outside of London. During this period Richard achieved the highest recognition within the international Marriott organisation by achieving the Marriott Chairman’s Award for guest service, UK Hotel of the Year and the International Hotel of the Year of all Marriott Hotels around the world! “I then had the opportunity to work in the USA and worked there for several years for a Marriott owner in the Chicago area with my family, which was an amazing opportunity. We had a wonderful time as a family and the whole work experience and self development was incredible. “When the visa, unfortunately, expired, I came back to work at the Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel – I was the second GM taking over from the opening GM. Through The Four Pillars Chief Executive, who knew Principal Hayley’s Chief Executive, Tony Troy, I then went to work for Principal Hayley and have been with the group for four years. “It’s been my life and it’s been my career. I met my wife in the hospitality business; my son is also now in it, so it all continues and it is a way of life, it’s not a job, I live and breathe it.” So how does this incredibly likeable GM sum up his current establishment, The Oakley Court Hotel? “The hotel was built in 1859. It was originally a home, converted to a hotel thirty years ago. Bray Studios, the base for the famous Hammer Horror Films, was located next door, and many famous films were filmed here such as the Dracula films, Frankenstein, Rocky Horror Picture Show, St Trinians, Half a sixpence, The Avengers. “I do believe because of our unique location on

a great stretch of the River Thames, (we actually own ¼ mile of the river edge) that we have something really special here. We have thirty seven acres and our very own nine hole golf course! “We have 118 bedrooms here and our main focus is conference and meetings during the week, turning into a leisure hotel at the weekends where we are a fantastic location for weddings, a romantic setting beside the river. We had a cracking 2012 with the Olympics. We were the base camp for Team GB Rowing and Team GB Canoeing. We also had Sir Steve Redgrave, John Inverdale and the rest of the BBC rowing and canoeing commentary teams. “The hotel saw thirty medals come back from the Games and the first GB gold medal of any sport came back here with Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins winning gold in the women's double sculls. We were delighted to play our small role in the Team GB achievements – all the Athletes were very pleased with the venue as it was their home for several weeks. We fed them, looked after them, and fed them again! They actually had two breakfasts plus a large lunch and dinner, consuming in excess of 4,500 bananas! They were big people – the boys and the girls! It was so exciting to be at the centre of the rowing & Canoeing success and we could hear the incredible roar of the crowd from Eton Dorney, I am really proud of the part we played to contribute to this experience and to the Games as a whole.” So what’s so special about The Oakley Court for you? “In my opinion it’s a beautiful, old, quirky building with unique character. The floorboards creak, there are some unusual nooks and crannies and that adds to its overall appeal. It’s not purpose built and that is the joy of the building. It is unique – it has so much heritage. We have the rich heritage of the past, the heritage of now and no doubt the hotel will enjoy a rich heritage in the future. The Queen has visited the hotel in recent times, with the “Swan Upping” taking place here, she arrived by boat from her Windsor home! – we held a “Garden Party” for our special guest, we also invited some local schools to be part of this occasion and present to her

majesty some of their work about Swans. We now celebrate this special event by holding our “Annual Garden Party” on the same day. “The hotel continues to re-invent itself for the here and now. We have installed free wi-fi, flat panel TV’s and have more investment planned for the future with more investment in IT and more contemporary bedrooms. “We enjoy good repeat business and we do very well with Heathrow being so close by and we are a stone’s throw from the M4. We have a lot of blue chip companies coming here year after year. They keep coming back because of the service we provide and the great location – they love the quirkiness of the hotel”. “Our performance has been incredible in the last three to four years. We have strategically changed our business model to protect and enhance our performance. Our trading has actually increased in the downturn and this has been through a lot of planning and nurturing of existing clients”. “We are also developing our people and have developed ‘YOU’RE ON THE UP!’ – a scheme which helps our new joiners in 2013 with a nine module course which gives those that want to be in the hospitality industry a firm foundation in the business. Having started as a waiter myself, I know you can go through the ranks without any off site training. There will be plenty of potential students out there who can’t afford college/university and we are showing that there is another way to succeed in this business.” If Richard can launch the career of just one more Richard Smith it will have been a job very well done. Make sure you get along to Oakley Court, for business or pleasure, although it’s hard to see how even business cannot be anything other than a pleasure at this incredible hotel.


THE OAKLEY COURT It was late August and we were making our way down the M4 to Windsor. Ironic really that recent guests at our destination, the fabulous Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor, included our victorious Olympic GB rowers. They’d have fared much better in the monsoon conditions which accompanied us throughout our fifty minute trip from Oxford. But as we entered the hotel’s drive and parked outside reception, the clouds cleared and the sun shone on Oakley Court. Maybe the rowers had left some Olympic gold dust

The Oakley Court, part of the Principal Hayley Group of hotels, sits amid thirty seven acres of immaculately chiselled gardens and lovingly manicured lawns. There is even a private stretch of the River Thames running past the hotel, so no wonder it is a sought after venue for weddings, celebrations, conferences or short breaks. A short drive to the heart of Windsor, The Oakley Court is the perfect venue for two, a corporate group or, as we discovered, a family of four. We arrived in time to relax in our room – two adjoining rooms creating a huge space. Ours, well after a fight it was ours, was slightly larger with a huge walk in dressing area. The kids had an Oakley Court teddy bear on the pillow – a welcome touch, even for fifteen year old boys (yes I know you’ve got it Ed!). We had time to freshen up and even enjoy a glass of wine, with the compliments of the hotel, and made our way to dinner. In July 2012, The Dining Room at The Oakley Court Hotel was awarded a prestigious AA2 Rosette award. Just 10% of restaurants nationwide have one Rosette, so this gives you an idea as to the size of head chef, Michael Mealey and his team’s achievement. 20

Using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, it was obvious to us that the restaurant was a priority and not an after-thought as in so many hotel restaurants. Almost full on a Thursday, there were clearly locals dining in the restaurant which bears testament to its glowing reputation. The service was first class and the food impressive. During the day or on warmer evenings, it would be nice to eat al fresco on the terrace overlooking the river. Between us we enjoyed, for starters, slow cooked chicken terrine with shitake, foie gras and fig compote, oven roasted pigeon with roasted pumpkin, puy lentil and cumin and the children went straight for their main courses off the children’s menus (well, Ed actually devoured two himself – one burger and one chicken!). For our main courses, Tina chose the 48hr pork belly with garlic purée, braised red cabbage, sweet parsnip and “crispy crackling”, whilst I had the pan roasted cod with red pepper, baby aubergine and chorizo risotto. All plates were cleared – an astonishingly good meal for all of us. We even had room to sample the delectable desserts - apple mincemeat with pain perdu, cinnamon and toffee apple, star anise and muscavado mousse with

orange liqueur and glazed Orange and two dark chocolate ganaches with milk chocolate and port ice cream. Pleasantly replete, we went back to the room to relax and slip into a long, comfortable sleep. Morning was a different day – beautiful blue sky, with the sun beating down on the lawns where guests were enjoying their early morning strolls. We had ordered breakfast in the room and after an assortment of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, Frosties, apple Danish and croissants, we decided to go with the flow and walk around the gardens. As we watched the boats go by, we could fully appreciate the appeal of The Oakley Court. Relaxing, first class service, excellent food and wonderful facilities. The Oakley Court really leaves you wanting for nothing. FACTS ABOUT THE HOTEL Overview With impeccable attention to detail, unbeatable service and within easy reach of Heathrow and

B4 SPOTLIGHT London, The Oakley Court is ideal for a range of different events. Whether you're planning a meeting for 5, a conference for 500 or a teambuilding training day, The Oakley Court has the facilities and space you need. And with its stunning location and tranquil setting, the hotel is a simply beautiful backdrop for your wedding. Nearby With local attractions including: Windsor Castle, Ascot Racecourse, Legoland and Thorpe Park and fantastic onsite leisure activities, The Oakley Court is also the first choice for family breaks and weekend breaks in Windsor. Meetings & Events The Oakley Court is just twenty minutes from Heathrow Airport and forty minutes from London, making it an ideal location not only for business meetings and conferences, but also for entertaining key clients, product launches or quite simply thanking your team. Choose from a wide range of flexible spaces able

to cater for five to five hundred people. Traditional rooms with natural daylight and unique conference facilities such as the Boathouse on the river or the Walled Garden, where you can put up a marquee for up to 500 guests or even land your helicopter. The 7 acre Oakley Court Field is ideal for larger scale team building activities such as quad biking or clay pigeon shooting. Leisure Facilities Relaxation comes easy to guests with thirty seven acres of landscaped gardens, leading right up to the secluded banks of the River Thames. In addition to boat hire, there is also the croquet lawn, the snooker room and the full facilities of the Oakleaf leisure club, including an indoor swimming pool and gymnasium and beauty treatments. Within the grounds there is a par 3, 9 hole golf course, ideal for both beginners and more experienced players. Within the secluded walled garden there are 2 tennis courts that have recently been re-surfaced

“Relaxing, first class service, excellent food and wonderful facilities. The Oakley Court really leaves you wanting for nothing

and upgraded in partnership with Wilson. Racquets can be hired from the club. Inspirational Training As a training professional you want the perfect training venue in Windsor - The Oakley Court delivers. Ideally situated just minutes from the heart of Windsor, The Oakley Court incorporates an inspired setting with an enviable position close to all major transport links. Combining stunning Gothic architecture and elegant suites, this inspirational training venue combines a first class training venue with beautiful grounds and a private stretch of the River Thames. Food & Drink The Oakley Court is a stunning venue for a private dinner or celebration for anything up to 180 people within the hotel, or more within a marquee in the walled garden and grounds.

as ornamental ceilings, wood-panelled floors and sash windows, and of course the backdrop of manicured lawns and the meandering river create a stunning dining setting. Take some time out and enjoy the lounge menu and afternoon teas, or perhaps a beverage from the wide selection available in the stylish and comfortable bar. Events at Oakley Court Whatever event you’re planning, at Oakley Court, a stunning event venue in Windsor the hotel can help you to deliver a night to remember. The hotel will help you as much or as little as you want to put together your special event in Windsor. From menu planning to setting up the room, arranging entertainment or theming, the special event co-ordinators will work with you every step of the way. And with the new special events banqueting package the costs are easy to manage too.

Flexible dining options offer a range of styles, from an informal hot or cold buffet, a fine dining celebration dinner to a full scale gala dinner. Throughout the hotel, special historic features such


COUTTS B4 were invited to the Coutts branch in Oxford to meet Alan Higgins, the bank’s chief Investment officer for the UK and local client partner Maggie Bradley in advance of a Coutts client presentation at Said Business School. The key topics discussed were the Eurozone crisis and the outlook for the UK economy, with a particular focus on record low interest rates. By B4’s Richard Rosser and Lucy Holmes. As his job title suggests, Alan is responsible for managing the UK-based investment portfolios at Coutts, although as a voting member on the Investment Strategy Committee, he also has a significant influence on shaping the bank’s overall global investment strategy. With more than twenty years of experience of managing client money in the City, Alan has embraced uncertain economic and stock market conditions before. We begin our conversation with Greece – a country that has been on the precipice of financial meltdown for more than two years now. The Eurozone crisis it triggered shows little sign of easing and its perilous financial state is a huge concern - not just for Greece but for all of Europe. Alan believes that it is absolutely vital that Greece stays in the Eurozone. “Contagion is the key word when discussing Greece,” he said. He recalls Argentina’s currency devaluation in 2001 when its banks were closed for a couple of days. “When they reopened, 10,000 pesos had plunged in value to just 2,000,” he said. “If that happened in Greece – given 24/7 news on the television and the internet - investors would immediately rush to find a safe haven for their euros in Germany, France and Spain. “This will mean those unfortunate enough to have their money tied-up in banks will suffer. This is contagion. You can imagine the BBC interviewing an old Greek lady who complains, ‘‘I had 20,000 euros and the government has taken the money off me’.” Alan draws some comfort from German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who he believes understands the contagion risk, hence her support for Greece. He added: “Not all German politicians are behind Greece and that’s why there’s so much noise about the situation. If Greece pressed ahead with devaluation, you can just imagine if you lived in Spain, Italy, Portugal or Ireland that you would think to yourself ‘I’m not getting paid any interest so I may as well take the money out of the bank’.” The Coutts view is that Greece could leave the Eurozone - and Alan admitted that if that were to happen the damage would be very hard to contain.


If Greece exits the euro, other countries could follow and that would be “pretty catastrophic”, he said. He added: “Nobody will forget the knock on effects of Greece leaving the euro. Just imagine if a customer of ours is looking to buy a villa in Portugal in five years time. They won’t have forgotten Greece and will want the price of that villa to be very low to be attractive. It’s all very well everyone predicting Greece will leave because the signs all point to it, but the implications and ramifications of a Greek exit are disastrous, and we at Coutts don’t think this has been fully appreciated. We understand contagion and think this will prevent a Greek exit.” Low interest rates here to stay Alan believes that record low interest rates will be around for many years because inflation and spending cuts will be the tools used to help Britain reduce the deficit over time. He said: “There seems to be a general consensus that interest rates will stay low, but our view is that rates will stay low for multiple, multiple years. It’s one way of paying off debt and the link with Greece is this… companies, governments, individuals, have too much debt…..what can you do? You can default - Greece has already done that once and it may have to do so again. Or, you can grow your way out. “There are several emerging markets with strong growth, and, actually, to be fair, the US has shown strong growth because taxation revenues have started to strengthen. Or you can inflate it away, as has been suggested in the UK. But not in the 1970’s style inflation that a lot of people might imagine, but more subtly, in fact just like we are doing now. “So base rates at near zero, inflation at 2, 3 and 4%. If you do that for long enough, that does help to return the debt. In the UK our deficits are too large even for that but a bit of austerity and a bit of inflation is basically where we are going.” Alan said that when he talks to clients who want to invest, he suggests that they should take “any interesting source of fixed income they can get”. Coutts, he said has five portfolios, which includes a portfolio made up of 100% bonds to one which

is invested 100% equities. But its strongest performing portfolio is focused on bonds and fixedincome - and it’s up about 7% net of fees over the past year. He added: “With any bank, you won’t get a return on instant cash, but most banks will offer rates paying around four times base rate, including Coutts, if you are prepared to tie your money up for a period of time.” Despite all the gloom, Alan is optimistic that the UK will avoid another deep recession – even though he admits that the data might hint otherwise. “The official GDP numbers show economic growth has been zero or slightly negative for quite some time. Unemployment has been coming down quite sharply, and unemployment is more reliable than GDP which is distorted by things like people writing computer programmes from home, the new digital economy, things like this which are really difficult to capture in an official GDP. “Even in 2009, to give you a flavour, GDP growth came out as -0.4 and the press said we were going back into recession. Many journalists were saying ‘doom and gloom’ but the number today is +0.4 and we still don’t have 100% reliable data. We get a swing from negative to positive because we have more information. So things aren’t good in the UK but they’re not quite as bad as the GDP data indicates.” Alan is favouring equities that pay decent dividends and that are relatively cheap to buy. “It seems to us that severe recession isn’t going to take away your dividends, so the question is whether the price right. “In the UK, the dividend yield is, a not unreasonable, 4%, and getting somewhat more technical, the price earnings ratio (the price you pay for profits) is about 12 times earnings, which is below average.” Despite the uncertain outlook Alan does not think it is an unreasonable time to invest – especially for those who can afford to take a longer-term view. He believes that the Eurozone will “muddle through” and that Germany will pay whatever it takes to keep Greece in, while low interest rates will be here for another five years.


“there seems to be a general consensus that interest rates will stay low, but our view is that rates will stay low for multiple, multiple years”

“We may advise clients to stagger some money in, over six months or so. If you are in diversified bonds, we may advise clients to increase risk a bit and take a bit of goal and equity risk in the portfolios.” In advance of the Coutts client presentation, Maggie gave an insight into what the Coutts clients have in store. “Of course everyone wants an answer but there are no simple solutions. Our clients are given advice based on their absolute circumstances and we have to take many different factors into consideration, such as their age, their income, tax bracket, what assets they have already got, what their experiences have been. Ultimately, they have got to go away feeling very comfortable with what you’re proposing.” Coutts, said Maggie, prides itself on the close relationship it has with its clients and what many need is reassurance. She added: "We have very specialised services in terms of investments. I think a large proportion of our clients are looking for someone who is going to be a steady pair of hands looking after their wealth going forward. “The relationship we have with our clients is vital because if you are seeing someone consistently, you are going to have to face up to their questions when things are tough - as well as take the plaudits when things go well. The relationship we have with our customers is crucial and has always been a key component of what we do. It’s why our advice is and has to be well-researched.”

The information in this article is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities or any other investment or banking product, nor does it constitute a personal recommendation. The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up, and you may not recover the amount of your original investment. Past performance should not be taken as a guide to future performance. Opinions constitute our judgement as at the date of issue and are subject to change. Alan Higgins, Chief Investment Officer



COUTTS HISTORY The John Campbell beginnings In the Spring of 1692, young Scot, John Campbell of Lundie, set up business as a goldsmith-banker at the sign of the Three Crowns in the Strand, London. The earliest records show not only did Campbell supply plate and jewellery, he offered a comprehensive banking service: discounting bills, making loans and taking deposits. Many of his customers were his fellow countrymen, including his clan chief, the powerful Duke of Argyll. In 1708, Campbell took another Scottish goldsmith, George Middleton, as partner. John Campbell died in 1712. That year, Middleton married his daughter, Mary. The Middleton years Middleton was heavily involved with the business of the French financier, John Law. This, combined with the bursting of the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles in 1720, led to Middleton stopping payment for three years. In 1727 George Campbell, the founder’s youngest son, joined Middleton and in 1744 a third partner, David Bruce, entered the Bank. The goldsmith element of the business had declined since the 1720s. When Middleton died in 1747, the surviving partners called themselves simply “Bankers of 59 Strand”, the Bank’s home from 1739. The Coutts family The name Coutts first appeared in the title of the Bank in 1755. James Coutts, a Scottish banker, was taken into partnership by Campbell on his marriage to Mary Peagrum, granddaughter of the founder. When Campbell died in 1760, James invited his youngest brother, Thomas, to join him. In January 1761 the Bank became known as James & Thomas Coutts. When James retired in 1775, the Bank’s title changed to Thomas Coutts & Company, which it was to remain until Thomas’ death in 1822. The Bank flourished under Thomas and his partners Edmund Antrobus, Edward Marjoribanks and Coutts Trotter. The long reign of George III was a period of major political, social and economic change. Coutts’ customers were involved with such events as the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the opening of India and the Far East. Thomas’ customers, many of whom were also friends, ranged from the monarch to the Covent Garden cowkeeper.

The Victorian era During the Victorian era, the Bank had to face new challenges in a fast-changing world. Developing industries were hungry for investment . New and successful joint stock banks meant fierce competition for the oldestablished private banking houses. Coutts’ name inspired confidence in the Bank during his lifetime. It was Angela Burdett-Coutts as the heir to the name and fortune, who was seen as the public face of the Bank in the Victorian period. Into the 20th Century The Baring crisis of 1890 forced a number of banks to re-assess their position. Coutts & Co, after much careful consideration, decided to change its status. In June 1892 the Bank dissolved the partnership and became an unlimited liability company. 1904 saw more change. After 165 years at 59 Strand, the Bank moved to its current site at 440 Strand. The merger of the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial in January 1969 meant that Coutts came to form part of the larger NatWest group. Modern times Throughout the 20th century, Coutts opened more branches. The first West End branch outside 440 Strand was opened in 1921 in Park Lane. In 1961 the bank opened its first out-of-town branch at Eton. Coutts embraced modern technology, becoming one of the first banks to bring in machine-posted ledgers in the late 1920s. In 1963 it was the first British bank to have a fully computerised accounting system. In 1987, Coutts gained international representation when Coutts established operations in Geneva. In October 1990, Coutts and NatWest decided to strengthen their representation internationally and the Coutts Group was created when subsidiaries already owned by Coutts and NatWest (including Handelsbanken) were merged. The acquisition of the NatWest group in 2000 established Coutts as the wealth management arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland. For further information please contact: Maggie Bradley 01865 389039 (Oxford) Tim McInerney 0118 373 3513 (Reading) John Mullally 01753 709040 (Eton)

Coutts is the Wealth division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts serves clients from over 40 offices across the world offering tailored wealth management, banking, trust and tax services. Coutts is headquartered at 440 Strand, London with offices in other key international financial centres in Zurich, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Coutts has a robust regional network comprising 26 offices in 23 locations in the UK. Coutts provides access to the local expertise of Private Bankers and Wealth Managers coupled with the intellectual capabilities of the business’s international investment team and specialist advisers to ensure an exceptional experience for all clients, regardless of their location.

“I think a large proportion of our clients are looking for someone who is going to be a steady pair of hands looking after their wealth going forward”

Maggie Bradley, Client Partner




Vicky Lad from the Oxford office of leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP gives an overview of legitimate tax planning opportunities around income tax and capital gains tax (CGT) available to entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs have been much maligned in recent years as among those not paying their fair share of tax. Equally, however, the government has introduced many tax incentives aimed at entrepreneurs, which recognise how they use their additional cash investing in businesses to stimulate the sluggish economy and benefit us all.

investments of up to £1 million and £200,000 respectively. In addition, the new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) gives income tax relief of 50% on qualifying investments up to £100,000. There are various criteria that both investor and company have to meet to qualify for these reliefs but some of these have been relaxed in recent years to make the relief more available.

• for every £1 put into a money purchase pension, the government adds 25p, which accounts for the basic rate tax that would have been paid on this income

Income tax The top rate of tax is currently 50% for income in excess of £150,000, but this is reducing to 45% from 6 April 2013. If considering taking a bonus, it is worth bearing in mind the timing to take advantage of the reduction from 50% to 45%.

Pension planning Pensions are a tax efficient way of saving for retirement. Each person has an annual allowance of £50,000 (gross), which can be contributed to pension funds. Any unused annual allowances during the previous three tax years can be carried forward and used now, which means anyone could potentially invest up to £200,000 now.

• the investments grow in the pension free of income tax and CGT

Tax efficient investments such as Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCT) attract income tax relief of 30% on

• higher or additional rate taxpayers can claim further tax relief of 20% or 30% (25% from 6 April 2013) respectively on their pension contributions

• tax benefits can be further enhanced if paid by an employer. There is a limit on the value of retirement benefits that can be drawn from pension schemes before tax penalties apply.

Pensions are tax efficient in a number of ways:

“Some of the investments and planning tools can be complex, so it is always worth speaking to a professional tax adviser to ensure adequate tax planning



Samantha Vanags, Partner

Capital gains tax The CGT rate is currently 28% (or 18% up to the basic rate band limit for basic rate taxpayers). This is considerably less than the current income tax rate so, wherever possible, it is best to receive funds that are classed as a capital gain rather than income. Another simple planning tool is to transfer assets to a spouse prior to sale so make use of their annual exemptions and use up their basic rate bands. Care should be taken if the asset also qualifies for entrepreneurs' relief (ER) as you could easily lose this valuable relief by transferring a qualifying asset. Transfers between spouses are not taxable. However, if you were considering transferring assets to other individuals, for example, your children, then a capital gain could arise. A particularly useful tool for the entrepreneur is ER. If ER is available then the capital gain will be taxed at the lower rate of 10% on gains of up to ÂŁ10 million over your lifetime. ER is generally available on a material disposal of business assets, which includes shares in a company of which the

Vicky Lad, Assistant Manager

shareholder owns at least 5% and is an employee, director or company secretary. There are various criteria that need to be met to qualify for this relief, the main one being that the qualifying conditions must have been met for a whole year prior to disposal. Therefore, if you are planning to sell a business or business asset in the future, it is imperative that you start planning well in excess of a year before the sale to ensure that you will qualify for ER.

be a trade-off between losing ER to obtain the deferment. And finally These are just a few of the tax relief tools available that are supported by the government. Some of the investments and planning tools can be complex, so it is always worth speaking to a professional tax adviser to ensure adequate tax planning. For more information please contact either:

“the new SEIS gives income tax relief of 50%


Investments in EIS/VCT are also efficient for CGT purposes. Any gains made on the investments themselves are not taxable. In addition, if you have other capital gains in a year, you can defer the capital gain with the investment into the EIS subject to certain conditions. Again, care should be taken if the asset being sold qualifies for ER as this could

Vicky Lad, Assistant Manager: T: 01865 799890 E: or Samantha Vanags, Partner: T: 01865 799805 E:



B4 R&R

BROWNS SIMPLE, CLASSIC AND FRESHLY PREPARED After a busy Sunday morning spent Christmas shopping in the Oracle it only seemed right that my friend’s, Eleanor and Amanda, and I spent the afternoon enjoying a Sunday lunch at Browns. As soon as we arrived we were seated upstairs in the restaurant area, which was subtly decorated for the festive season. We were immediately offered the food and drinks menu. After a bit of deliberation over the vast drinks menu we plumbed for a bottle of merlot. The waitress was quick to bring the wine over to us, along with a bottle of water and we were ready to place our orders. The Sunday lunch menu had a selection of starters and deserts, priced at £4 each. The mains were priced at between £9.95 and £16.95. There was a good selection of food on offer for those who do not fancy a roast on a Sunday.

with a rich red gravy. It was clear to us we would be unlikely to fit any deserts in. The lamb and duck were lightly pink and perfectly tender, and the chicken was moist and tasty. The accompanying vegetables were cooked beautifully. Midway through the main course the grand piano at the bottom of the sweeping staircase piped up, the pianist playing a collection of modern and festive tunes. Perfect for creating a relaxed Sunday afternoon atmosphere. After our dishes were cleared away we sat and enjoyed the busy festive atmosphere. We were offered the desert menu which was filled with

“The haddock was the predominant favour, with subtle tones of lemon that created an impeccable croquette, which was

topped with a delicious yoghurt & caper dressing Amanda decided to have the Salmon, Smoked Haddock & Lobster Croquettes for starters, whereas Eleanor and I decided we would try and leave some room for desert. We were not waiting long for the starter. It was the perfect combination of a thin and crunchy outside and light and delicate on the inside. The haddock was the predominant favour, with subtle tones of lemon that created an impeccable croquette, which was topped with a delicious yoghurt & caper dressing. There was a really good choice of mouthwatering options for the main event. I choose the lamb roast; Eleanor and Amanda choosing the chicken and duck. Each meal was served with a light and fluffy Yorkshire pudding, deliciously crispy honey roast carrots & parsnips, green beans, peas, braised red cabbage with apple, cauliflower with a cheese & mustard sauce, chipolatas wrapped in bacon, and finally, several delightful stuffing balls. All topped

traditional sticky toffee puddings, chocolate mousses and crème brûlées. All extremely tempting. However, after being filled with the beautiful Sunday lunch it was clear that however much we were tempted by the selection on offer we were not going to be able to fit any of it in. We instead finished our glasses of wine whilst soaking in the fantastic variety of songs being played cheerfully from the grand piano. We were sad to eventually leave to continue the task of Christmas shopping, having made ourselves very comfortable. I will definitely be returning again for another Sunday lunch and highly recommend you do to.




MR SMITH AND THE THOUGHT POLICE “Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed— would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper— the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it.” - George Orwell, 1984 Last week, an employee of the Trafford Housing Trust, who had been demoted and had his salary cut by 40% for a posting that he made on his Facebook page, was successful in his High Court claim for breach of contract against his employer. Adrian Smith expressed the view, on a page on Facebook which was not visible to the general public but critically was visible to several of his colleagues who were connected to him on the site, that gay marriages in church would be “an equality too far”. When questioned by one of these colleagues, via a comment on Facebook,

importance of disciplinary responses which are proportionate to the breach that occurs. Even in this narrow respect the case carries an important object lesson for any employer looking to apply such policies. The Trust no doubt believed that they were acting to prevent discrimination. But the consequences for them have been severe: even if the damages they ended up paying have been very low, the costs they will have incurred in defending Mr Smith’s claim are likely not to have been. It also seems likely that if Mr Smith had pursued his complaint in the Employment Tribunal, his damages could have been significantly higher.

genuinely harmful or discriminatory conduct, may err too far the other way. In a statement made after his success in Court, Mr Smith said that "[s]omething has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain, where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage.” Employers, like the public at large, need to be careful. In seeking to prohibit the most obvious forms of discrimination they must not subscribe to more subtle and insidious prohibitions on the fundamental rights that everyone has, to hold opinions and to express them honestly as part

“There has been an erroneous tendency for social media users not to regard postings made on blogs or message boards as subject to the same

constraints as more mainstream publications. what he meant by this, he explained that he had no objection to the State giving civil marriage to gay couples, but that in his opinion “the state shouldn't impose its rules on places of faith and conscience”. The trust took the view that in expressing this opinion, Mr Smith infringed the code of conduct which formed part of his employment contract, by expressing views on religious or political matters which might be upsetting to co-workers. Mr Justice Briggs in the High Court made clear in no uncertain terms that the Trust had misapplied its policy and thereby committed a “serious and repudiatory” breach of its contract. The Judge was equally clear that Mr Smith had done nothing wrong. It is tempting to view this case on its specific facts, as a case about the misunderstanding of an employer's social media policy, and the

But the case is of equal interest when viewed in its wider context. At the moment social media issues are enjoying a particular prominence in the press and in the public consciousness. A debate is going on about appropriate online behaviour, informed in part by the Director of Public Prosecution's consultation on the boundaries of when conduct on Twitter and elsewhere ought to be prosecuted. At Pitmans, we have seen a notable rise in the number of enquiries and instructions we are receiving in relation to sometimes quite serious cases of defamation or harassment involving the internet.

of a wider social dialogue. In an environment where the legal boundaries of expression are still being evolved, the consequences of inadvertently over-stepping the mark can be serious, time-consuming, and costly.

But caution is required. There has been an erroneous tendency for social media users not to regard postings made on blogs or message boards as subject to the same constraints as more mainstream publications. Equally, there is now a danger that employers, rightly concerned not to be seen to be promoting or condoning

Will Richmond-Coggan Director, Solicitor-Advocate

Will Richmond-Coggan is a director and solicitoradvocate in the Dispute Resolution team. He works closely with colleagues in the Employment and Data Privacy teams in connection with a range of online disputes involving social media, defamation and harassment.


ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR EXPOSURE UNDER CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER LAWS? Employers face unlimited fines, or even prison, over crashes involving company car drivers. New B4 Platinum Ambassadors, Ultimate Car Control, specialise in empowering drivers of high performance vehicles with a level of car control that is unsurpassed, worldwide. Did you know that?: 1. The number of business drivers involved in fatal road accidents EVERY YEAR is 1,000. 2. The number of cars crashed whilst being driven for business use every single day of the year is 150. 3. The chance of a fatal road accident happening for every 25,000 miles driven is just 1 in 8,000. 4. The potential fine for your company if convicted under the new Corporate Manslaughter Bill is unlimited. 5. The potential prison sentence for negligence in discharging duty of care under the Health & Safety at Work Act is two years.


The Answer - Advanced driver training courses specifically designed for senior executives, VIPs and those with access to high performance vehicles Ultimate Car Control specialises in empowering drivers of high performance vehicles with a level of car control that is unsurpassed, worldwide. We teach advanced driving techniques that allow you to remain in control of your vehicle, reacting safely and confidently, even in extreme circumstances. This level of

B4 TRAVEL skill becomes instinctive - we call it Driver Encoded Knowledge. The courses have been designed for all those with access to high performance motor cars, including not just owners, but immediate friends and family as well, ensuring all are able to approach their driving with the required skill and competence to remain safe at all times.

a lot more than I had expected, the course was very powerful at showing me the legal side of running a business and having company car drivers without coming across as being a lecture. We are changing our processes and transport policy as a result! Great fun with some very interesting facts and a great time with some very experienced and professional drivers.”

Respected lawyers and business risk insurance experts working in the field of road safety agree that the unique Ultimate Car Control system provides you and your business with the maximum possible protection.

UCC founder, Robb Gravett, has a unique driving sensitivity and awareness that has been developed from his many years of highly successful racing at the forefront of motorsport worldwide. Robb is a former British Touring Car Champion and winner of numerous races and car championships across the world.

“empowering drivers of high performance vehicles with a level of car control that is unsurpassed, worldwide

Four lucky B4 Ambassadors spent a day with Ultimate Car Control, and CIS’s Richard Marsh certainly derived maximum benefit. “The Ultimate Car Control course I was invited on with the B4 was a real eye opener! Like most busy business people I am guilty of multi-tasking in the car and although I like to think I am a good driver, and capable of handling speed, I certainly learned

Years of success at the top of international motorsport has meant Robb has been able to reinvest his skills to develop a series of unique training programmes to protect drivers at every level of risk. The courses are incredibly empowering and provide the driver with the skills required to be able to react and adapt to the critical motions of car control. Full course details at


news The Racecourse Newbury fascinating facts HRH The Queen celebrated her 86th Birthday at Newbury’s Dubai Duty Free Weekend. She’s a regular at the racecourse. Jessie J’s Party In The Paddock concert brought a record crowd of 28,000 people this summer. The world’s most expensive racehorse Frankel claimed victory in the Group 1 JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this April by a clear five lengths. The Grandstand has a whopping 1000m² of pillar free floor space and a five metre high ceiling, ideal

for product launches, presentations and exhibitions. The prestigious Royal Box is available as a meeting space and for weddings hosting up to 48 guests. In 2012 the racecourse has launched three newly refurbished areas, the Champagne Hall, Wine Cellar and Beer and Banker. The face of the Olympic Games Clare Balding launched her new autobiography at the racecourse on 22nd September.

When Bond came to Newbury The Racecourse Newbury has been giving wannabe Bonds the chance to have a trial run at its themed Christmas Parties which brought Casino Royal to life in the Grandstand. Guests were transported into their very own Hollywood reality with a Vodka Martini on arrival and the chance to try their luck at the roulette tables before sitting down to a four course Christmas Dinner cooked by the in-house chef team. Guests

came licensed to thrill in fancy dress and prizes were awarded for the best dressed Bond, Bond Girl and Bond Villain. If you missed out on this year’s extravaganza and would like to be amongst the first to hear about next year’s theme, register your interest for Christmas 2013 by emailing:

Take over The Racecourse for your next conference 2012 saw the refurbishment of several key event spaces in the Hampshire Stand making it available as a three level meeting and conference space.

racecourse. The Hennessy, with a capacity of up to 250 people, offers an outstanding venue whether it is for a reception, a meeting and/or a dining experience.

Guests can be greeted in the Champagne Hall, a 126.76m² stylish, light and open space with minimalist and stylish decor, perfect for a reception for up to 500 standing before the main meeting takes place in the iconic Hennessy on the second floor. Its three glass walls provide a spectacular panoramic view of the beautiful Berkshire countryside, as well as a complete view across the

Delegates can finish the day with networking in the new intimate space offered in the Wine Cellar. A, 241.96m² cosy room with authentic Hennessy cognac vintage print graphics, sophisticated and smart furnishings and paintwork, as well as its own wine cellar located behind its spectacular wrought iron gates, the cellar is sure to be the place to relax and reflect on the events of the day.

Grand events in the Grandstand For larger meetings and exhibitions, the Grandstand provides three floors of flexible event space. This is perfectly placed to host 3001,000 people for exhibitions, conferences and award dinners. This is further complemented by the 300 acres of surrounding Berkshire countryside in the grounds


of the racecourse, ideal for teambuilding events after the main event. Newbury’s location on the M4 corridor makes this ideal for bringing different company divisions from around the UK together. For more information please call the Event Team: Amanda Ellis 01635 39671, Anna Warner 01635 39651

te tic a 5 as eleg ÂŁ3 nt fa y d m da fro w es ne kag c pa

The Perfect Location‌ for exhibitions, conferences, product launches, meetings, awards dinners, Christmas parties or why not combine business with pleasure at a raceday... Contact our Events Team 01635 40015

B4 R&R

100 WINES TO ENJOY BY THE GLASS If you’re looking for that relaxed wine bar atmosphere where you can enjoy a few glasses of wine and a bite to eat in stylish surroundings; the California Bar at The Vineyard is a must. Your arrival is met with the impressive Judgement of Paris painting. Commissioned by the owner, Sir Peter Michael, it illustrates the infamous 1976 blind tasting in Paris where Californian wines beat France’s best. And gives you an insight into to what awaits you next. Over 800 wines on the 3,000 bin wine list are Californian. Bottles of sunshine to brighten up these dark wintery days, you might say. And some of the most sought-after are home-grown by Sir Peter on his estate in Sonoma. Besides the USA, wines from over 20 countries are represented on The Vineyard’s Long List as they call it, so it is not surprising that the restaurant recently won the Imbibe UK wine list of the year 2012. For many of us, a list of 3,000 wines could be quite daunting, so fortunately for us they’ve also created 36

The Short List, which has over 100 wines by the glass categorised in easy to follow sections. There’s even a ‘last chances’ section, which, as it implies, is your last chance to try a number of rare great wines by the glass. And if that wasn’t enough, so that you can try a number of different wines in smaller quantities, The Vineyard team has also come up with a number of interesting wine flights (three 100ml glasses of wine) that you can either enjoy on their own or with matching food combinations such as the popular charcuterie and cheese boards.

want a quick, light lunch with friends. So dine in January in The Vineyard’s California Bar and enjoy one course from a selection of dishes paired with one glass of wine in one hour for just £15*. If you’re not short of time, they’d love you to stay longer! *Available Monday to Friday between 12pm and 3pm

January dining promotion – one course, one glass, one hour – just £15. The Vineyard knows how important time is when you are dining with clients or when you simply

Oxfordshire is guaranteed to get everyone thinking Meet Oxfordshire is the first point of contact for anyone considering the county for a meeting, conference or event. Our services include free venue finding and accommodation bookings. contact us now call 01608 731802 Follow us on Twitter @meetoxfordshire

Photo by Neale James Photography


– A TRULY LOCAL STORY As 2012 comes to a close, the team at Reading 107 can reflect on an enthralling year for the station which celebrated its tenth birthday back in October.

This year’s anniversary arrived at a pivotal phase in the station’s history, one of the very last few remaining independent, commercial, local radio stations in the UK. With developments such as the movement into digital and ever increasing media platforms, as well as the subsequent need to diversify revenue models, many of the UK’s formerly independent commercial radio stations now belong to major conglomerates where programming is networked across vast and often disparate regions of the country. It’s been a necessary trend for many local stations who have seen this as the only resolution to challenging conditions. But what about Reading 107? Should it become consumed into the abiding swathe of networked radio or fight its corner as the last remaining jewel in the Thames Valley broadcasting crown? The answer to this, for Reading 107’s owner Sir John Madejski, is very clear:


“I am well aware of the issues facing the independent commercial radio sector and many people would probably question whether we at Reading 107 can survive and buck the trend nationally, but I really do believe that with the station we have enormous potential moving forward. The more I think about it, the more I believe in the power that a local radio station, and I mean truly local radio station, has and is worth holding onto. We have an incredibly strong community in Reading and the surrounding areas and I genuinely think that the radio station is there to serve that community, be it local businesses, schools, charities and of course individual listeners. Reading 107 is proud to be part of that community and will continue to be for as long as we can make the station work.” In recent months Reading 107 has seen a whole range of exciting new additions and improvements, including a refreshed music policy, which continue to build on its unique strengths as an independent local station.

Reading Unplugged launched in October and is a weekly show from 7-10pm on Sundays showcasing the best in local talent and music. The show is not just limited to bands and acoustic singers, but also introduces producers, DJs and even comedians to the Reading 107 audience. The show aims to seek out ways of staying connected with the local community by inviting listeners to review local gigs and events for Reading 107. The station has also upped the ante this year with its partnerships with local charitable organisations, promoting and hosting events including the Give a Child a Chance campaign and the return of the Fireworks Extravaganza with the Reading Lions. Prior to this Reading had gone without a major fireworks display for ten years and this year’s much celebrated event attracted over 6,000 people, solely through promotion on Reading 107, raising an outstanding £10,000+ for local charities. This year Reading 107’s presenters have also hosted Reading’s Got Talent, the Broad Street Mall Christmas Lights Switch On and the inimitable Pride

LEAD B4B4 SPOTLIGHT of Reading Awards, now in its ninth year, for which Reading 107 also sponsored the Young Person of the Year category. Next year plans are afoot to introduce some interesting new programmes to the station. The Sir John Madejski Interviews will be a weekly interview hosted by Sir John at midday on Sundays and promises to be a fascinating insight into the lives and careers of some of Berkshire’s most inspiring and exemplary leaders and business people. Another addition will be the Business Briefing each weekday. The idea being that as the station grows its revenue base, the Business Briefing will give clients the opportunity to tell Reading 107’s listeners of their news and successes. It seems Reading 107 has a lot to shout about and the station has invested in a total upgrade to its antenna transmitter over the summer, providing a stronger signal and extended coverage across Reading and beyond. The station is also looking to develop more apps for mobile streaming and opportunities to share news content with ITV Meridian, with some of their staff now based at Reading 107 news team’s office. There are plenty more plans in the pipeline to keep

“We have an

incredibly strong community in Reading and the surrounding areas and I genuinely think that the radio station is there to serve that community” Reading 107 at the forefront of developments in technology and to keep the station competitive, relevant and in touch with its audience and extended community. The way forward is clear for Reading 107 going into its second decade of broadcasting, to remain as the truly local radio station from Reading, for Reading and the surrounding areas. For the latest news & information on Reading 107 and to listen live visit the website at Join Reading 107 on and Reading 107 free iPhone app available at


A QUARTERLY SNAPSHOT The BDO Thames Valley Business Barometer... a compelling street-level view of business sentiment, helping to inform decisions on growth, investment and employment in the region. BDO, working in conjunction with the Twenties Club, are undertaking a quarterly barometer for businesses operating in the Thames Valley to measure how businesses are feeling about the economic conditions, and to provide an opportunity for businesses to benchmark themselves against others within the region on areas of performance, recruitment and investment. 85 Thames Valley businesses participated in the Barometer 2 survey which opened on 2 July and ran for two months. The Barometer also includes a number of in-depth profiles of a cross section of Thames Valley businesses including in this quarter: CH&Co, Peter Brett Associates, Regus UK, Romans and SAS UK. These companies shared their perspectives on their own performance during the last three months, the key challenges they face and the prospects for the Thames Valley region. Despite the glow generated by the Queens Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics, UK business confidence hit a 20 year low in August according to the BDO UK Business Trends report which measures optimism among businesses across the UK. The brief resurgence seen earlier in 2012 when confidence reached a high of 98.0 on the Optimism Index plummeted to 89.1 in August, the lowest level since 1992 when comparable data was first tracked. Confidence levels and UK economic prospects have been following a somewhat zigzag path.

“However, we too are seeing evidence of a zigzag path to recovery, with a greater degree of caution, more muted confidence and lower expectations


of growth than reported in Barometer 1 Julian Frost, partner and head of BDO in the Thames Valley

Economic confidence - dipping slightly When it comes to the Thames Valley, the Barometer 2 survey indicates that optimism and business confidence remains higher in the region than for the UK as a whole. In the Thames Valley, the results remain tentatively positive. Overall economic confidence in the Thames Valley dipped slightly from last quarter, with 73% saying that the economy has improved or remained the same compared to 82% in the previous quarter.

New business pipelines and turnover are increasing in the Thames Valley - with some leveling out expected More than half (54%) state that new business pipelines and order books are increasing and, although this is down 10% from the last Barometer, it is still a very positive result. There is some leveling out in terms of expectations for the next three months, with approximately one third of companies forecasting no improvement in turnover or profitability in the next quarter. *Barometer 1, April/May 2012 Investing in people The Barometer finds Thames valley businesses are investing in their people, in terms of headcount, in training and development, and have a very positive attitude towards apprenticeships and work placement schemes. Headcount has increased for 40% of respondents this quarter and is expected to increase at a similar level (42%) in the next three months. The single biggest area for business investment is training and development (38% of respondents).



“The Thames Valley has been described by some of our survey respondents as the ‘power house’ of the UK economy and it certainly has been weathering the storm more

confidently than other regions in the UK Julian Frost, partner and head of BDO in the Thames Valley

Investment plans In addition to training and development, businesses are planning investment in marketing (32% of respondents) and technology (31%). Only 5% are investing in fleet and transport and just 2% in property. Availability of finance The availability of finance is still seen as a major blocker for business growth. More than half (56%) of the region's businesses believe that the situation has not improved, with many stating that obtaining finance is no easier than when the recession started. However, there is a slight increase in those finding the availability of finance easier - 16% of respondents compared to 11% In Barometer 1 - and interviewees expressed a range of views. Investment agenda Looking forward, more than half see investment in superfast broadband as critical for the Thames Valley to remain competitive, and nearly half feel that apprenticeship schemes and work placements schemes are extremely important.

BUSINESS PERSPECTIVES The Barometer includes a number of in-depth profiles of Thames Valley businesses, including this quarter: Achilles Group, GCS Recruitment, Grundon Waste Management, SEGRO and Ultima Business Solutions. These companies shared their perspectives on their own performance, the key challenges they face, and the prospects for the Thames Valley region. Here are a few extracts: “SAS also believes in investing in apprenticeship schemes and education for the future, and sees this as a key area of development for SAS moving forward“ John Morton Chief Technology Officer, SAS UK & Ireland “We all agreed that we would not touch our training budget because people are the very fabric of our business” Paul Reilly Managing Partner, Peter Brett Associates

“Finance continues to be a problem for those that don’t have a strong balance sheet and securities” Paul Reilly Managing Partner, Peter Brett Associates “The single major blocker to growth in the area is the availability of finance which for Regus clients is no easier now than when the recession started” Steve Purdy Managing Director, Regus “Economic confidence in the Thames Valley is strong….the ability of developers to fund new developments and projects has started to increase” Peter Coles CH&Co, Peter Brett Associates, Regus UK, Romans and SAS UK.

“Banks are generally supportive but need to see a good business model” Tim Jones Chairman, CH&Co

The full results of the survey can be accessed via the BDO LLP website ( For more information and to register your interest in getting involved contact Karen Meenderink on 0118 9254448 or email


WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN GAIN FROM WORK EXPERIENCE - THE READING COLLEGE PROGRAMME Recently, Valerie Todd, Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, stressed that, “Businesses who want a highly skilled workforce for the future must take a conscious decision to help young people make the move from education into work”. Consequently, the role of the employer has become increasingly pivotal in the development of young talent, as they can offer work experience placements to fulfill this move. These placements are growing in demand, and in importance. The Work Experience Scheme at Reading College was launched in September 2011 with the aim of organising valuable work experience placements for students studying business-related topics to gain real-world skills and experience. However, the benefits to the business are equally important and this scheme facilitates the acquirement of young and enthusiastic staff with current skills and fresh ideas, as well as promoting the image of the 42

business, and their social responsibility agenda, within the local community. The placements can either be full time for a short, defined period of time or one day per week over a relatively longer period of time. In the last academic year, a range of local employers offered 97 placements to our students and 20% of them were so impressed with the calibre of College students that they have offered them a job related to the subject of their course. Companies we have worked with include major businesses such as BMW, BDO and Holiday Inn. As our role involves working closely with various employers, we can gather their perspective on the benefits of offering work experience placements. They are as follows: Introduce new skills to your business Our students, who study a wide range of subjects, learning specialist vocational skills, can benefit an

organisation directly by bringing these desirable specialist skills. As they are still in education, they are up to date with current trends and new developments, allowing them to bring a new perspective and generate brand new ideas. Employers provide us with detail of the required skills, on the basis of which we individually match students to placements by running a strict recruitment process, ensuring suitability for the role. International car manufacturer BMW, stated to us, “Having a student for work experience brings a different dynamic into the team. Our placement student is a young, smiley student who has a fresh perspective on the work we do.” Long term recruitment investment No recruitment agency would allow you to take a potential candidate for a trial period. In contrast, by offering a work experience placement you can use this time to assess a candidate and evaluate their suitability to job requirements. If you are impressed, you can offer them a job with no recruitment fees


“No recruitment agency would allow you to take a potential

candidate for a trial period. In contrast, by offering a work experience placement you can use this time to assess a candidate and evaluate their suitability to job requirements. ”

involved, knowing that you have already begun moulding them into the role, they can hit the ground running and they will excel. Our students work hard to achieve full-time employment and are understandably delighted when their work experience placement turns into a job opening, as it boosts their future prospects and employability. Holiday Inn were glad to say that, “Our work experience student is brilliant and I can see a bright future for her within our organisation”. Positive impact on students’ life Not only can work experience benefit an organisation, but also it makes a huge impact on a young person’s life. Through a placement opportunity, students will not only develop essential employability skills, but also explore their career options and boost their confidence. When asked about the benefits of work experience placement, students express their appreciation by stating, “Work experience helped me to finalise my future career plans and boosted my confidence”.

Dependable employability skills You may agree that a work experience student could benefit your business but query the quality of their work ethic, as it is frustrating to work with an individual who is not reliable, not on time, and not keen to learn. The Work Experience Scheme at Reading College prepares students, in these regards, with mandatory attendance of a series of workshops developing their employability skills. These workshops have been designed to be employer focussed, following advice provided by employers we work closely with, so that the students meet the expectations upon them, “The Reading College student working with us was a great asset to the company,” BDO.

documentation. At Reading College, we appreciate employers’ busy schedules and, as a result, we not only keep the paperwork to a minimum but also fully support employers in the administration process.

No extra hassle There is no need to worry about administrative issues or be overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork to complete. Before agreeing to a placement, simply agree with the provider that you will be supported when completing required

If you are interested, please get in touch via email: or phone 0118 955 4511.

As presented above, work experience is not only beneficial for the student, but also for the employer. Before saying yes to a company managing work experience placements, it is advisable to check their processes, including development and support. We like to maintain strong links with the students and employers who work with the College, making sure that all development and support requirements are met.



PREVENTING AND RESPONDING TO PROBLEMS WITH SQUATTERS John Morrison, property disputes partner at Manches LLP in Thames Valley, describes the removal of squatters from residential properties and how changes in the law may increase risks to empty commercial buildings and land. Since September 2012, it has been an offence for a person to enter a residential building as a trespasser for the purpose of living there (under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012). An offence is committed if a person entering residential property: (i) knows (or ought to know) that he or she is a trespasser, and (ii) intends to live there for any period of time. If landowners find squatters in their residential properties, they should call the police to report a criminal offence. There is no requirement to ask the trespassers to leave before doing so. If an offence

premises against the wishes of the occupier. This can include breaking windows or locks to gain entry. This means that landowners must act carefully when seeking to remove trespassers, i.e. they should enter the land only when nobody is on the premises, or call in the police, or instruct bailiffs to evict squatters having obtained a possession order (“PO”). Removing squatters Although it is often necessary to obtain a PO to remove squatters, there are a number of other offences linked to squatting which may justify police intervention (it may be necessary to produce detailed evidence to persuade the police to act):-

empty) in preference to residential properties. If they do, and no offence has been committed, a party with an interest in the property (e.g. as landowner or tenant) should apply to court for a PO or IPO. Either procedure will generally give rise to a hearing within a matter of days. Where an IPO has been made, the squatter commits an offence by failing to vacate within 24 hours of service of the IPO or by returning to the property within a year. Starting proceedings can in itself be effective. It is common, by the time the hearing takes place, for the trespassers to have moved on.

“If landowners find squatters in their residential properties, they should call the police to report a criminal offence.” has been committed, the maximum penalty on conviction is 6 months’ imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both. It is, however, not an offence for a person to remain in occupation of residential property at the end of a lease or licence. “Squatters’ rights” Trespassers commonly display notices stating that it is an offence for a landowner to break into the occupied property. Claims to “squatters’ rights”, which appear to unfairly protect the interests of the wrongdoer, are however based on clear statutory provisions. The Criminal Law Act 1977 makes it an offence for a person, without lawful authority, to use or threaten violence to secure entry to


• Failing to leave a residential property (including its garden) after being required to do so by a “displaced residential occupier” or “a protected intending occupier” (i.e. lawful occupiers who have been displaced by the trespasser) • Causing criminal damage, e.g. breaking doors or windows to gain access • Theft or burglary, e.g. removing items from the property • Abstracting electricity; and • Failing to leave a property within 24 hours of service of an Interim Possession Order (“IPO”). Non-residential buildings and land The 2012 Act does not affect non-residential buildings or open land. As a result, squatters may now target commercial properties (particularly if

Practical steps when dealing with squatters • Secure land and buildings to guard against the risk of unlawful occupation • Check buildings and boundary fences regularly to confirm they are locked and secured • Construct physical barriers to prevent access to land • Act quickly to secure the early removal of trespassers, before land or buildings are damaged. • Do not give trespassers permission to stay, even for a short period. John Morrison can be contacted on: or +44 (0)1865 813722


OPEN AND READY FOR BUSINESS BY PAUL SMART, AREA DIRECTOR FOR LLOYDS TSB COMMERCIAL IN THE THAMES VALLEY There’s a common misconception that banks aren’t lending. Lloyds TSB Commercial most certainly is. As part of Lloyds Banking Group, we lent £12.5bn last year to small and medium sized enterprises and we’re on track to exceed this in 2012*. This is in contrast to a decline in net lending growth across the industry of four per cent. Rebuilding confidence Although we’re open for business and lending, many businesses are telling us that due to the economic conditions they lack the confidence to borrow and invest in their business. However, we’re dedicated to boosting confidence and its gradual rise since May is helping us support those businesses that see opportunities.

wider Lloyds Banking Group. Loans and overdrafts may not always be the most appropriate solution, but asset based funding solutions or Invoice Finance might be.

How do we support this commitment? We’re encouraging enterprise by assisting businesses in their start-up and expansion plans and one way we are doing this is through the Lloyds Funding for Lending scheme, which utilises the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme, to allow Berkshire businesses to benefit from reduced funding costs. This means we can offer a one per cent reduction in the interest rate for new business loans and hire purchase.

For more information on how Lloyds TSB Commercial can help your business ambitions, please contact Toby Parrant, Senior Manager for Lloyds TSB Commercial in Berkshire, on 07584 580713.

Local knowledge, local support Perhaps our biggest commitment is to local knowledge. This supports our undertaking to meet every reasonable request from viable businesses for competitive, commercially priced finance. Our Senior Managers and Relationship Managers across Berkshire have personal authority to sanction lending applications, which means quick decisions can be made by managers who understand the customer’s business and its ambitions, as well as the wider economy.

As big advocates of the Government’s specialist lending schemes, we’re also helping local businesses access cheaper borrowing.

*Figures for Lloyds Banking Group as of August 2012 Any property given as security which may include your home, may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or other debts secured on it. All lending is subject to a satisfactory credit assessment. Lloyds TSB Commercial is a trading name of Lloyds TSB Bank plc and Lloyds TSB Scotland plc and serves customers with an annual turnover of up to £15M. Lloyds TSB Bank plc Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Telephone: 020 7626 1500. Lloyds TSB Scotland plc Registered Office: Henry Duncan House, 120 George

Business support Alongside their local or specialist roles, many of our staff are volunteer enterprise mentors. They act as sounding boards for entrepreneurs when they develop their business plans and access appropriate funding options to support businesses’ needs.

Street, Edinburgh EH2 4LH. Registered in Scotland no. SC95237. Telephone: 0131 225 4555. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority under numbers 119278 and 191240 respectively. Licensed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 under registration numbers 0004685 and 0198797 respectively. We subscribe to The Lending Code; copies of the Code can be obtained from

Access to finance Every sector is different and so is every customer. That’s why our Relationship Managers work closely with alternative providers of finance from across the



DRIVING NEW BUSINESS THROUGH ACCESS TO FINANCE More needs to be done to educate South East businesses on accessing alternative sources of finance. That was one of the findings from new research carried out for Lloyds TSB Commercial, which canvassed the opinions of 419 businesses in the South East to discover their experiences of accessing finance.

research highlights that while most South East businesses are comfortable with traditional borrowing through business loans and overdrafts, alternative sources of finance are much less understood.

The majority of South East firms said they had a good understanding of traditional borrowing methods, such as business loans (99 per cent) and overdrafts (97 per cent), with 71 and 90 per cent respectively having used one of these in the past.

“Mechanisms such as asset based lending can provide a useful and relevant alternative to allow businesses to pursue new growth projects while keeping control of their cashflow, and it is definitely worth business owners taking the time to research and explore these alternative methods.

However, a far smaller proportion had ever utilised alternative funding methods such as invoice discounting (nine per cent) or asset based lending (19 per cent). Indeed, less than half of respondents (48 per cent) claimed to even have any awareness of asset based lending. The main motivator that would inspire South East firms to pursue alternative finance methods would be to boost working capital (11 per cent). Paul Smart, area director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the Thames Valley, said: “This new

Understanding of Government-backed funding programmes was also low, with less than a quarter (24 per cent) claiming a good understanding of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme and less than half (48 per cent) saying they understood the new Funding For Lending scheme, through which banks can offer a reduction in interest rates. This new scheme operates under the Lloyds Funding for Lending banner. This allows eligible UK businesses to benefit from reduced funding costs and offers:

• A one per cent reduction in the pricing of new business loans and hire purchase • Available to all SME and mid market customers, regardless of the sector they operate in • The discount will be for the full term of the loan • Minimum loan amount is £1,000 with no maximum limit The scheme follows on from the successful completion of the Government’s National Loan Guarantee Scheme, where Lloyds committed all of its £1.4bn allocation to small and medium sized enterprise customers. Paul Smart added: “At Lloyds TSB we can tailor funding packages to meet the needs of individual business owners by combining both traditional and more alternative forms of funding. This includes Government-backed programmes such as the Funding for Lending Scheme, through which we are keen to make finance available to small businesses.”



(Left to Right) Chris Way (Lloyds TSB Commercial), Dr. Robert Green and Dr Tanzir Jamil (Burnham Medical Centre) with David Wood-Griffiths (Lloyds TSB Commercial)

FUTURE LOOKS HEALTHY FOR BURNHAM MEDICAL CENTRE A leading Burnham medical centre has completed extensive renovations and expanded its facilities after securing a £1 million loan from Lloyds TSB Commercial. Burnham Health Centre, located on Minniecroft Road, was established in 1971 by the local health authorities and was later acquired by a group of partners who renovated the facility before growing it to become one of South Buckinghamshire’s largest health centres, caring for over 18,000 patients. The centre is also a training practice for doctors and medical students who are qualifying to become GPs and has a large team of practice nurses, district nurses, midwifes and healthcare specialists who work onsite with patients.

Dr Tanvir Jamil, partner at Burnham Health Centre, said: “We are proud to be one of South Buckinghamshire’s largest and most reputable medical centres and all of our team have worked incredibly hard to ensure that we continue to grow and develop. “Not only did we want to provide our patients with the highest standard facilities in order to make their time spent at the medical centre as pleasant as possible, but we also wanted to create a better, more efficient working environment for our employees too.

“At Lloyds TSB Commercial, we have a dedicated healthcare banking team which works closely with our customers within the sector to help them achieve their goals and ambitions.” Any property given as security which may include your home, may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or other debts secured on it. All lending is subject to a satisfactory credit assessment Lloyds TSB Commercial is a trading name of Lloyds TSB

In order to improve the facilities available, the centre’s banking partner of over ten years, Lloyds TSB Commercial provided a £1 million cash boost to help fund the expansion which has seen the addition of five consulting rooms, the refurbishment of all treatment rooms, increased administration facilities and a larger waiting area. The centre has also introduced an onsite Lloyds Pharmacy which has relocated to the practice from Burnham High Street in order to provide a more convenient and easily accessible service for patients. The new-look practice was officially opened by Sir Terry Wogan, who returned to the centre for a second time after opening a previous extension and refurbishment in 1998.


The support from Lloyds TSB Commercial has been outstanding. We have enjoyed a long standing relationship with them for over ten years now so we knew they would be able to offer us excellent guidance during our expansion process.”

Bank plc and Lloyds TSB Scotland plc and serves customers with an annual turnover of up to £15M. Lloyds TSB Bank plc Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065.

Telephone: 020 7626 1500. Authorised and

regulated by the Financial Services Authority under

David Wood-Griffiths, healthcare relationship manager at Lloyds TSB Commercial, said: “Burnham Health Centre has been providing firstrate healthcare for the Burnham community for many years now and it is clear that their patients’ needs are at the forefront of all of their plans.

numbers 119278 and 191240 respectively. Licensed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 under registration numbers 0004685 and 0198797 respectively. We subscribe to The Lending Code; copies of the Code can be obtained from

“What was really impressive about this development is that the funding has been fully secured by the partners and involves no grants from the healthcare authorities, demonstrating the team’s desire to provide the best possible services they can.


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In the first of a series of profiles on B4 Platinum Ambassadors, we throw the spotlight on Buildbase’s Commercial Director, David Robertson. Dave’s tale is very much that of a local lad done good, climbing the ranks to the position he now holds in one of the country’s leading builders merchants. David was talking to B4’s Richard Rosser. I have had the privilege of witnessing David’s fantastic qualities first hand, albeit I spent most of the time following his vapour trail from Paris to Oxford. Nonetheless his leadership, motivation and single minded determination were the reason we embarked on the B4 bike ride last year. If it wasn’t for David, I wouldn’t have launched the first B4 bike ride and most certainly wouldn’t have completed it. That’s all down to David’s infectious enthusiasm and his can do attitude which must be an enormous asset to his colleagues at Buildbase. So where did it all begin for this likeable lad from Oxford Born and educated in South Oxford, David was an exceptional sportsman, captaining Oxfordshire County Under15’s and 16’s football. He went on to captain England’s Under 16’s winning team in the Euroman European Championships, winning Man of the Match in the final and Player of the tournament following in the footsteps of Liverpool’s Steve Heighway no less. David also made schoolboy appearances for Crystal Palace & Reading before joining Coventry City for apprenticeship trials. Having missed out on becoming a professional he joined Marlow Town and played to a very high standard of semi Pro football. David qualified as a Carpenter – Joiner - Wood Machinist when he left school and also passed a BTEC in Building studies. He joined local builder’s merchant, RJ Johnsons, in 1987 as a telephone salesman. When the business was acquired by Grafton Group plc in 1996 and rebranded as Buildbase, David was already a key member of the Johnsons team and was quickly recognised and his career progression soon began.

Photography: Rob Scotcher

He’s very much a man in demand and his willingness to dig deep and help out mean that every minute of every day are precious. Before we start the interview, David is trying to find a ten minute spot in his hectic schedule to have a meeting with a colleague, much easier said than done! Having recently reached the 25 year milestone at Buildbase, which David admits still puts a smile on his face, David recounts his fascinating rise. “My first role at the old R J Johnson was working in telesales,


but I was quickly promoted to a Sales Representative role and shortly after that, Field Sales Manager and then Key Accounts Manager. “In twelve years on the road I developed a fantastic portfolio of clients, many of whom have become close friends. In 2000 I was promoted to Regional Sales Manager in London and spent five years commuting from Oxford to London where I was concentrating on building a team of salespersons to grow the London business. I then became the Regional Director for North London in 2005 where I was responsible for sales and operational budgets. “In 2006 I came home, working as Regional Director Central Region in the office that I had actually built many years ago above Johnsons in Cowley. I spent six happy years at Johnsons before my recent promotion to Commercial Director of Buildbase, a more strategic role where I link the support centre, head office, and suppliers to the sharp end of the business, the 146 branches.” David is very much a people person, as he admits. “I’m at my best dealing with staff, customers and suppliers. I have never forgotten my roots, which helps me to deal with any situation. I am constantly taking calls from staff and the key thing is that I have been there and done it in my career which helps to come up with a logical answer. I love the challenge of getting the last ounce out of my team and relish the role of team leader – like getting you up that bloody hill!” Yes thanks Dave! According to David’s colleagues, he is always smiling and one was heard saying ‘you know he’s coming because you can hear him whistling before you see him!” But it’s not all sunshine. Through the smiles David has had to deal with a tough economy, personal loss and plenty of hard work. “We enjoyed the boom time of the late1980’s and 1990’s when everyone was building, but the last few years have been very difficult. I have to thank two people who mean the world to me. I will always be very grateful to both of them for their contributions to my career and life. Martin Lee, now retired from Buildbase, took me on in 1987 and was my MD and a real father figure. Martin helped me to become the person I am today. Another key person in my life

was Peter Butterfield. Sadly, Peter is no longer with us after passing away earlier this year. Peter was also my MD and was without doubt the cleverest person I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Always there for me when I needed advice, without Peter I wouldn’t have made the progress I have.” Outside of the office, David has led many fundraising campaigns, including extensive charity work for the Oxford Children’s Hospital. David championed a campaign to raise £55,000 to fund the adolescent waiting room and beat this total to raise £63,500. David and several colleagues walked 55km in one day as part of this initiative, despite the fact that he had a full hip replacement at the tender age of 39 due to a sporting injury. But a little hip replacement was never going to stop this bundle of energy! He was the true inspiration behind the B4 bike ride, having asked B4 to join him on the London to Paris ride for Macmillan the year earlier. He certainly showed those of younger years a clean pair of pedals on more than one occasion and was always the first up the tortuous hills. Everything that David does is portrayed in a way which makes you want to get involved, and all of us on that ride last year have so much to thank David, and his wife Jane, for. In his spare time as well as his passion for road cycling he is also a keen golfer and walker, climbing Snowdon and Ben Nevis last year and also likes to visit his daughter who is living and working in San Francisco. David’s love of life, and his work, is refreshing and it’s great to be in his company. “I love to be happy and I love people to be happy at work too and in their lives. It might be work but we may as well enjoy it!” “We have seen some very difficult and challenging times in our trading sector over the last few years, but thankfully there are signs of improvement and I am pleased to say that Buildbase are more prepared and focused to dealing with Trade & Retail customers than ever before” Visit one of Buildbase’s 146 branches today and if you hear or see a happy chap whistling, remember to say hello.


“ I love the challenge of getting the last ounce out of my team and relish the role of team leader” David Robertson



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B4 R&R

THE BEETLE & WEDGE BOATHOUSE RESTAURANT It was a cold, wet and windy Thursday evening when we set off from Oxford for The Beetle and Wedge in the former Boathouse at Moulsford near Wallingford. It took us just 25 minutes and we were then shown to our corner table in the delightful conservatory extension that had been built only 10 years ago. This was almost the same time that Stephanie and Warren Musk took over the running of this beautifully situated establishment on the banks of the River Thames. They have more recently been awarded the ‘Four star Restaurant with Rooms Rating’ under the British Common Standard for Guest Accommodation, and earlier they were listed in The Times ‘ 50 Best places to eat Al Fresco’. As soon as we had taken our seats, olives, granary bread and butter were put on our table and the gin and tonics followed very quickly afterwards. Sue ordered the crispy duck, ginger risotto cake with plum sauce to start and I went for the

Madagascan crevettes with lime and coriander mayonnaise. Sue commented on the delicious coating of the cake and I was extremely pleased with the large prawns which were fresh and tasty. To accompany the starters we had the Tanguero Rose 2011, from Argentina which was a deep pink and full of fresh summer fruits.

“As soon as we had

taken our seats, olives, granary bread and butter were put on our table” After just about the right time our main courses arrived, the service was impeccable by the way, and Sue was presented with a Mediterranean Sea Bream with steamed Pak Choy, Crab Cake and

Beurre Blanc. To accompany this Sue had a glass of the Sauvignon Chateau Haut Grelon 2011, which borders the Gironde Estuary. I am always keen on game at this time of year and I wasn’t to be disappointed with this locally shot pheasant, which came with mushrooms and a red wine and blackberry jus. We both had some ‘rosti’ potatoes, a speciality of the restaurant as they come served in the pan, French beans and a tomato and shallot salad. With the pheasant I had a glass of Ladera Verde Merlot 2011 from Chile, which was seriously good value. To finish we both had room for a vanilla crème brulee,’just’! The evening was an absolute pleasure and heaven only knows what it would be like on a balmy summers evening, dining ‘al fresco’! Review by Sue and Colin Rosser



L to R: Matthew Ruddle - Customer Service Director intouch crm, James White - CEO intouch crm and Giles Brandreth - Guest Speaker/Presenter


Intouch CRM wins The Software Satisfaction Award: Best Small Business CRM System, at this years Software Satisfaction Awards. Article by James White - CEO intouchcrm Well, knock me down with a feather! We won the best small business CRM system award at The Software Satisfaction Awards this year. A huge accolade not only from the industry but also from our customers. The Software Satisfaction Awards are voted on by users of the system, so this means we had tremendous feedback from our customers that put us in first place for the Best Small Business CRM system of the year. To say that I was touched by the recognition from our customers doesn’t really reflect the feelings of gratitude I have. At Intouch CRM we are totally customer focused and it’s a delight that our users recognise that. As a UK based software company we are often compared to much larger US based providers with very deep pockets and fancy marketing programs. We spend our time finding out from our users what they like about the Intouch CRM system and more importantly, what they want us to spend time improving. Our latest release of the system was based solely around user feedback and features they wanted to see included in the software. We took all the feedback on board and set the developers a task of integrating as many of the customer requests as they could in the latest release of Intouch CRM. So if you are a user of the system or are thinking

of adding the benefits of a comprehensive small business marketing platform and CRM system to your business, then you can be assured that here at Intouch we listen to our users, take their feedback on board and get our heads down to make sure we are constantly improving the system to deliver what our customers want. The Software Satisfaction Award is a nationally recognised award so the prestige from winning it will have huge benefits for our business and means we now have a truly independent testimonial about

“At Intouch CRM we are totally customer focused and it’s a delight that our users recognise that

the value of our system. We are lucky to have regular feedback coming into the office telling us how much users like the system, which is very much appreciated. However, having an independent validation to all the work we are doing is a big pat on the back for all the team here at Intouch CRM. One of the key elements that meant we pipped the competition to the post for the award this year, was the usability of the system and how easily customers and in particular new customers, could

start making use of the huge range of tools in the system. For us here at Intouch CRM, usability is a key factor to giving your customers a delightful experience. The Intouch marketing system and CRM tool has a huge range of features, including robust email marketing, text message marketing tools, survey tools, calendar and task management to name just a few. Making these intuitive to all users, is a constant challenge and we are always looking at ways to help our users get the most from the system as quickly as possible. In support of this goal we are developing a comprehensive learning resource that not only helps customers get the most from the system as quickly as possible but also means that we are able to share some of the knowledge we have developed on what marketing tools and strategies work best. Think of it as a Marketing Masterclass. We will let you know as soon as we are ready to launch. We like to think that it is effort and ideas like this, helping our customers become more successful that played a factor in us winning this award. So to all our customers and fans we wish you a prosperous end to 2012 and a hugely successful 2013 from all of us here at the ‘Award Winning’ small business CRM system of the year!




B4 Box Office launches in partnership with Altis Consulting to provide readers with exclusive access to a plethora of high profile sporting events coupled with bespoke VIP treatment to enhance the spectator experience. By Kelly Stroud.


B4 R&R Whether your passion is rugby, football, cricket, horse racing, or any other event that regularly features on the UK sporting calendar, you can now expect access to one of the best seats in the house through Altis Consulting. With unforgettable added extras ranging from the opportunity for an informal chat with a well-known sports personality, through to a fully managed bespoke, high-end corporate hospitality event, guests can’t fail to leave feeling impressed, irrespective of the result! Exclusive offers currently available through B4 Box Office are: • London Welsh vs. Wasps (28 December) or Harlequins (6 January) at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium – a box for ten people with sit-down meal • RBS Six Nations tickets (February/March) • Cheltenham Festival tickets (March) • Premiership and Champions League tickets To find out more, contact T: +44 (0)1451 812237 and quote B4 Box Office. or see p 157. The face behind Altis Consulting Founded in 2005, Altis Consulting is headed up by Charlie Allen, former Commercial Manager of the RFU during England’s finest chapter, which saw the team triumph in Australia to lift the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Commenting on why he took the plunge to establish his business seven years ago, Charlie explains: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the RFU but I had an idea for my own company and was starting to find working in one sport fairly limiting.

“Using existing contacts, I established Altis Consulting, based at the Cotswold Business Centre. We now host corporate hospitality events at most of the high profile sporting fixtures in the UK and abroad. We have also crossed-over to the entertainment sector with strong links to the O2 in Greenwich and the Royal Albert Hall.” Altis Consulting more than doubled its turnover year on year for the first three years, levelling off during the recession when corporate hospitality budgets were slashed. This hasn’t stopped Altis Consulting carving out its niche in a competitive market. The company has experienced record breaking results in 2011/2012 in both sales and operating profit due to considerable business conducted on behalf of senior management teams for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. “Our point of difference is our specialisation in bespoke corporate hospitality or entertainment management in watched or participation sporting events like golf or shooting days. We also offer nonsporting event experiences like opera, ballet or rock concerts. Above all, we provide a truly confidential and personal service.” Altis Consulting currently has an enviable client base spanning International and UK businesses from a range of sectors in addition to various high net-worth individuals from emerging markets that visit the UK to enjoy our prestigious sporting calendar. Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Altis Consulting would like to reach out to businesses closer to home.

“Oxford is a fantastic location for business with great inroads to London in addition to commanding its own place on an international stage. The calibre of businesses in the area would most definitely benefit from the services we have to offer,” comments Charlie Allen. “Taking a prospective client to watch an event they feel passionate about and sharing that experience with them can only help to reinforce and strengthen a business relationship moving forward.” Altis Consulting is built on a solid business model making its services accessible to SMEs as well as Corporates. The company offers debenture seat brokerage services at Twickenham, Wimbledon, Lord’s and Wembley along with season ticket management at Premiership football and club rugby. It also offers a buy and sell service across sport and entertainment on a ticket only basis making it possible to obtain access to the best events in the UK and abroad, for a range of different budgets. Altis Consulting is currently organising spectator experiences for the 6 Nations, Ashes cricket 2013, British Lions June/July 2013, Ryder Cup Gleneagles September 2014, Football World Cup and the Summer Olympics in Brazil 2014 & 2016 respectively. There’s nothing like watching a sporting event live and with B4 Box Office, there is no longer any excuse for being a fair weather fan. Why be sofa bound when you can now enjoy it in style! To find out more, contact T: +44 (0)1451 812237 and quote B4 Box Office.

“Taking a prospective client to watch an event they feel passionate about and sharing that experience with them can only help to reinforce and strengthen a business relationship moving forward

Charlie Allen - Altis Consulting




Enjoy the excitement of the Barclays Premier League and experience some of the best hospitality in world football at Reading Football Club this season. The Royals offer hospitality options for all occasions, whether you’re looking to entertain clients and colleagues or treat family and friends, from 3 course fine dining to an informal matchday bar. The Club has availability and is taking bookings for all remaining games this season on a match by match basis. Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion are our visitors during January, with the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool all travelling to Madejski Stadium before the end of May, so be sure not to miss out. One of the headline hospitality packages at Reading is in the Club’s Trophy Room. Not only can you tuck into a delicious carvery meal before the match but you can do so in the surroundings of Reading Football Club’s illustrious history, including last season’s Championship Trophy which takes pride of place. The Trophy Room is a fantastic place for friends or family as well as business colleagues or clients. Regardless of the event, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. The Trophy Room is a ‘day out’ to remember and gives far more than just the on field action. Following all the pre-match build up you can then enjoy the match from premium seating adjacent to the Directors' Box. This package also offers reserved car parking, half and full-time refreshments, selection of savoury items post match and a matchday programme. Prices for the Trophy Room start from just £150+VAT per person. In addition to the Trophy Room, another popular matchday package is the superb pitch-facing 1871 Suite is a great way to see all the action and offers lots of extras on top of the 90 minutes of football action. Watch the teams warm up as well as all the other activities that take place leading up to kick-off including our promotion video celebrating last season’s heroics. Pre-match you will enjoy the ‘Chef’s Theatre’, a tasty two course meal cooked in front of you. There’s also padded VIP match seating, half a bottle of wine per person, a cash bar, complimentary matchday programme and car parking. Prices for the 1871 Suite start from just £100+VAT per person. Peter Hart of Austin Fraser recruitment, one of the Club’s seasonal hospitality clients, recently commented “I’ve been to Emirates Stadium, Millennium Stadium and Old Trafford, the


difference between those places and here is that you just feel like number at those grounds. At Reading there’s a desire to make it a special experience, the staff are always on hand to answer any questions, and it’s a very personable atmosphere.” “Having a football team in the Premier League has really raised the bar of Reading as a town and a location people want to live and work in, and this stadium is the best in the Thames Valley without a doubt.” Another popular package with those looking to experience the Barclays Premier League in style is our Kennet Room Bar Package. The Kennet Room offers a family friendly atmosphere in an informal setting with access to a cash bar, gourmet burgers available to order and plasma televisions. Match seats are in the Upper West stand and bookings of any size can be made with prices starting from just £60 + VAT. Kevin Morrison of Sprite Services, another regular in Royals hospitality commented regarding his experiences at the Club, “As a company we regularly purchase hospitality packages for Barclays Premier League football clubs, and can therefore speak with some knowledge when we say the hospitality package at Reading FC is amongst the very best in the country. From the initial welcome, to the personal attention, ambience and first rate food in the hospitality area itself, we have not found a better venue to entertain our customers. Reading FC hospitality staff understand the importance of making the day special for visiting clients and always do their utmost to accommodate any special requests and make our guests feel welcome.” To book your place or for any further details regarding any of our hospitality packages, call 0118 968 1010, visit mercial/hospitality or email hospitality@read For a full fixture list go to

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â&#x20AC;&#x153; From the initial

welcome, to the personal attention, ambience and first rate food in the hospitality area itself, we have not found a better venue to entertain our customersâ&#x20AC;?


‘MAL’ DARE TO BE DIFFERENT IN 2013, KEEP IT LOCAL At the time of writing this, there are exactly 36 days until we start a new year, however, between now and then there is the small question of Christmas to contend with… The Christmas period in a hotel is a special time of year, the very fact this hotel has witnessed 169 previous festive seasons is a thought that is quite difficult to comprehend. Between now and the new year, the hotel fully expects to feed no less than 5,000 people, most of whom will live or work within 5 miles of the hotel – it begs the question, how many residents, both past and present have frequented this hotel in its lifetime?


It is said that everything changes, there is no doubt that the hotel has gone through some significant changes during its long history. Built in 1844 and opening as ‘The Railway Hotel’ with the construction of the Great Western Railway, it changed its name to ‘The Great Western Hotel’ in 1925 and it is thought to be one of the oldest railway hotels in the world. Used as the Paper Ministry during WWII, surviving a fire in 1964 and spending many years as a postal sorting office and

Berkshire Health Authorities headquarters, it was restored as a boutique hotel in 2007. Five years down the line, this Malmaison is truly a hotel that dares to be different both in its design and service. With a change in the management team over the last year, General Manager, Paul Watson has daring plans of his own for the year ahead:

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‘You’ve experienced hotel restaurants and bars before. In the past they’ve been avoided at all costs and then you head for the local eatery or watering hole before retiring back to your room (lets not even get started on the room service!). Its time to forget everything you ever believed about hotel dining and bars in the UK. Start believing in simple British classic dishes, uncompromising in quality and very generous portions. Believe in a great choice of wines and Champagnes. Believe in that cheeky one (or two) after work and that spectacular school night mojito; most importantly believe in friendly and effortless service!”

grown and local menu at only £15.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three courses, which changes daily and is dependant on the available produce from local suppliers”. In keeping with the décor, the team believes in a relaxed and friendly approach to service. Helen Blower, Bar and Brasserie Manager believes “long gone are the days where the waiter stands on ceremony, there is an art to delivering great service – staff that are there when you need them, staff that will chat to you about your choices and how best to enhance your meal or drink if you so desire,

destination to sit with friends in a relaxed environment. Keeping the local theme, as is the hotels focus, they are the current sponsors of Reading Unplugged on 107. Watch out for the up and coming stars in the lounge on a Thursday evening adding to what is already one of the most desirable destinations in Reading. The Malmaison Reading has held a pivotal spot in the town for many years. The team are set and ready to ensure that this is the number one Bar and Brasserie and destination of choice for all in the local Berkshire area. It’s an exciting time at the

“The team are set and ready to ensure that this is the number one Bar and Brasserie and destination of choice for all in the local Berkshire area.” The restaurant itself is an űber stylish, low lit dining den of exposed industrial ceiling void and brickwork, once you’ve arrived, you wouldn’t quite believe you’re in Reading. It is an oasis of pleasure. New Head Chef, Marcin Worzala wants to support local “…there are some classic Mal dishes on the menu such as ‘The Stack’ (classic mal burger with onion rings and a Foie Gras slider), ‘The Mal Grill’ (180gm fillet steak, ½ lobster and 3 King Prawns) and the ‘Steak Frites’….we also offer our home

staff that consider delivering genuine hospitality above all else”. There has been a continued resurgence of the cocktail over time. The mixologists at the Mal love to continuously improve their repertoire, perfecting the classics and concocting new flavours to suit our patron’s needs. Add to that a great choice of wine, Champagne, beer and spirits and you should never be disappointed. The bar itself is the perfect

hotel with renewed energy delivered through the management team. Just make sure you don’t miss out, dare to be different in 2013 and plan for a little Mal Life, its surely all anyone really wants for Christmas.




WITH PLEASURE In this issue, B4 Business Magazine talks to entrepreneur Bob Walton, MBE, (owner of Trunkwell Mansion House – an exclusive event venue in the county - and President of the National Restaurant Association of Great Britain), who this month launched the Nth Degree Club – a high end, exclusive lifestyle club, that promises members the opportunity to interface with like-minded individuals. Those who know Bob will know only too well that his address book is one of the most sought after in the industry – and for good reason! The Walton’ ‘magic’ as it is known, is legendary in having the ability to introduce and pair individuals who can (and usually do) go on to do business together. And, those skills and contacts have now been opened up to business leaders across Berkshire and beyond. With patrons including Chris Tarrant, the Earl of Bradford, Brian Turner, actor Dougray Scott, fashion entrepreneur, Donna Ida and former rugby player, Kenny Logan, The Nth Degree Club has already attracted the interest of many entrepreneurs and professional leaders. Bob is the first to say that “people buy from people” and this is a skill in which he personally excels. And, with the economic backdrop remaining tough for many in the the concept of being aligned to an influential lifestyle club of genuine note has never been more powerful.

“Member benefits are certainly important but the ultimate attraction has to be the personalities round the table and the power of the business relationships that can be created” he says. “Yes, we are dining in the finest establishments in the land but to be fair – many of the individuals we are talking to would also have access to those establishments. It’s about putting together the right people in the right environment, making it fun and productive in order to create new relationships and drive the perfect catalyst for doing business together”. Already The Nth Degree Club has attracted the attention, and patronage, of some of the biggest names on the UK restaurant circuit. Chefs for past Nth Degree events include Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social, Mark Edwards of Nobu and Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, to name but a few of the chefs who have cooked personally for guests and introduced the menus, adding a new dimension to the dining experience.

“Already The Nth Degree Club has attracted the

attention, and patronage, of some of the biggest names on the UK restaurant circuit.” It’s a simple yet clever idea that helps executives collaborate effectively together and gives a genuine opportunity to build productive business relationships. With the business world increasingly looking for different ways to engage their networks, this fresh new initiative bears all the hallmarks of success. The Nth Degree members are high net worth individuals who come together at regular events held at London’s top private dining rooms. With member benefits including access to renowned concierge service, Quintessentially, as well as intown accommodation for under £130 at one of London’s best known clubs, and significant discounts at prestigious outlets, the membership cost of Classic (for London based constituents) of under £1,000 per annum seems exceptionally good value and can be swiftly recouped, but that’s not what Bob sees as the over-riding attraction:


There are two levels of membership – the Classic (which suits a south east based member) costs £750 a year and the Plus membership offers additional benefits to members from further afield. Key partners include Quintessentially, Etihad Airways and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Membership of the Club has grown quickly in the last three months and the doors will be closing at around 500 individuals. “To maintain the exclusivity, we need to ensure we keep our Club numbers at the right level” concludes Bob. “What the Nth Degree Club is offering is a portal service, a door into an exclusive world where business and pleasure can mix to the benefit of all. Further information about the Nth Degree Club available from

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Phil Strachan of Business and Brand Alchemists Strangebrew shares with Richard Rosser how clients of all shapes and sizes can benefit from investing in his special brew of ‘London quality at Glasgow prices’ Having spent 12 years on the consultancy-side in London working almost exclusively with multinationals and premium global household name brands, Phil Strachan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to any project he works on. Add to this the fact that prior to that he spent 14 years on the client-side in the marketing departments of major blue chip multinationals running premium brands such as Nescafe and you can begin to grasp the value he can add to any business or brand he works with. “At one point trading as QED (Quite Extraordinary Design), my business partners and I employed 22 people and we were based in the converted Clergy House of St Michaels Church in London EC2. The Church itself had become the London Architectural Salvage Company which was one of London’s largest and longest established architectural antiques and salvage businesses. They were fantastic premises to run an Identity and Design business from but combined with 22 people to pay each month, our overheads and operating costs were quite high.” Nowadays, trading as Strangebrew, Phil offers his special blend of client-side and consultancy-side experience and expertise from a low overhead base in Berkshire, meaning that businesses and brands of all shapes and sizes from one person start-ups to long established businesses and brands can benefit from an injection of what he calls Business and Brand Alchemy. London quality at Glasgow prices Having previously spent many years refreshing, revitalising, re-energising and relaunching major brands such as Alpen, Foster’s Lager and Pontin’s Holiday camps to name but a few, more recent projects Phil has delivered have been much more varied. These have included the repositioning and relaunching of Aylesbury College, the creation of a Motivational Speaker brand for a sports and TV personality, and brand identities for a Martial Arts and Personal Trainer, an Accounting Practice and a Training Consultancy. “My overall aim is to deliver real value, what I call

London quality at Glasgow prices, and that means business and brand identities that really work rather than just nice logos which all too often don’t. There is an inordinate amount of money wasted on an awful lot of very ordinary work, design for design’s sake, when what is required is an investment in something that truly captures and communicates the essence of a business or brand. Branding, Identity and Design, interlaced with creativity and innovation, are all part of a business or brand connecting, communicating and engaging with its target audience but in order to achieve this effectively, you firstly have to know exactly who the target market is, what the business or brand needs to be seen to stand for and what its competitive advantage is. It is all about adding value.” Necessity is the mother of re-invention So why then do we see so many businesses and brands relaunching and being as you say refreshed? “It may well just be that they did not get it right in the first place, but while the objective is obviously to build successful brands that will be sustainable and stand the test of time, the simple fact is that key business environment factors such as market conditions, economic climates and competitors are constantly changing. In such instances, necessity really is the mother of re-invention, requiring Businesses and Brands to respond in order to continue to prosper by re-inventing, re-branding, refreshing, revitalising and relaunching themselves as appropriate. Events like new competitors coming into a market can prompt such action but the aim has to be to always stay ahead of the curve. This means being creative rather than reactive in order to remain in control in your designated market/sector and making sure that you are building a strong and valuable brand rather than an ineffectual and effectively worthless bland. It is all about leading from the front and staying ahead. It is important for businesses to periodically stand back, take a long hard look at themselves and assess how they and their brands are positioned because even if they themselves are not changing, the odds are that their competitors are and so are the needs of their customers and consumers. The

problem is that they are often too close to their businesses to be able to see this for themselves”. Faith, hope and too little clarity “Businesses and brands need to know and communicate their “why” to their selected target markets but the truth is that all too many businesses and brands out there are operating with blind faith, relying far too much on hope and with too little clarity in terms of what they really have to offer and how they need to position and present themselves. All too often they don’t really know their USP or their potential to build sustainable competitive advantage That’s precisely why I put particular emphasis on making sure that I fully understand the business and/or brand of any new client, their objectives and aspirations, their competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats because it is only by distilling the essence of a business or brand that I can identify how best to free its spirit by helping them to think brand – not bland. There are many businesses and brands out there that could really benefit from taking a good long hard look at themselves right now and it’s a great time for getting back to basics. They should make it their New Year’s resolution to re-evaluate the strength of their competitive situation and identify any action required refreshing their presentation or rebranding, relaunching or revitalising their businesses. In today’s recessionary market conditions, only the strong will survive and this can be a very cost effective way and a very sound investment in order to ensure that they emerge from these difficult times strongly positioned and with a secure future ahead of them.” Contact Phil Strachan on 07770 753 975 or by email if you would like to arrange an initial no cost, no strings attached meeting to discuss how an injection of Business and Brand Alchemy from Strangebrew could be of benefit to your Business or Brand.



“My overall aim is to deliver real value, what I call London quality at Glasgow prices, and that means business and brand identities that really work rather than just nice logos which all too often don’t

Phil Strachan




B4 spent a few days in London enjoying the delights of Lancaster London with arguably the best views in town. Overlooking Hyde Park and with picture perfect views across the city in all directions, it was hard to stop staring in awe.


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“There are many things that keep our guests returning to Lancaster London again and again, but there is one more tangible element that has left our guests impressed countless times - the views”

It has become something of a tradition to visit London before Christmas with the family, an opportunity to spend some time together and enjoy the capital ‘all dressed up’ for the festive season. With a 15 year old and 12 year old going on 18, it’s hard to tempt them away from i-this and i-that, but it didn’t take a vast amount of persuasion once the offer of a weekend staying at one of London’s most iconic hotels was on the table! As we arrived in London, the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful to pass the car keys to the porter who whisked the Beetle to, no doubt, enjoy a comfy night alongside some grown up cars in the hotel garage. We were shown to our suite on the 7th floor and as the bell boy explained how all the gadgets and gizmos worked, we were all just staring, not at him but at the views over London. It

was an eerie experience to see an almost panoramic view of London as we darted from one room to another, spotting the landmarks as if it were a game. The London Eye was lit up, the BT tower was towering nearby and so it went on – we could even see Wembley Stadium. Morning would bring more detail to this wonderful canvas as Hyde Park, right below us, came to life. And then we began to take on board the vastness of our room – a wonderful lounge with the most inviting sofas, huge plasma screens, our own dining table and more. We had been transferred to an oasis and were four kids in a sweet shop. We had interconnecting rooms, and for four people it was a perfect amount of space to relax and unwind for the weekend. We had some time before dinner to toast our good fortune with a drink from the mini bar – we hadn’t

actually done anything but why not?! Mindful that we had to make our 8pm dinner reservation for Island Grill, we unglued our eyes from the fabulous views and made our way downstairs. Island Grill didn’t let us down as we continued on our journey of euphoria. Sitting down to eat as a family was a rare joy in itself, but to cap it off with great food and drink made this a weekend to remember. We enjoyed a breakfast banquet in the room and really, when the time came, struggled to check out! As the website says, ‘There are many things that keep our guests returning to Lancaster London again and again, but there is one more tangible element that has left our guests impressed countless times - the views.’ 67

BR ROW OW N S R E A D I N G Unit R7, The Oracle Centre, Reading, RG1 2AG T Telephone: elephone: 0118 950 3137 Email Email:: ww



































Open: 10.00am Close: 11.00pm (Fri & Sat close at 12am) L a s t F o o d O rrd der: 10.00pm (Fri & Sat 10.30pm)


In Issue 19 of B4, we met Sarah Morris of HR2YOU. Young, engaging and determined, Sarah spoke to us about her energetic plans for HR2YOU. Just over a year from her first B4 article, everything is still as fresh, vibrant and on the same path, but this time it’s all bigger and better. A beaming Sarah Morris tells Richard Rosser about great strides for HR2YOU.

The background provided in our first article with Sarah is important and it helps sets the scene. With fifteen years sales, management and generalist HR experience, Sarah’s background within different market sectors and organisations has given her an incredibly invaluable understanding of her clients’ collective needs. What strikes me about Sarah is that despite her years she has a wealth of knowledge in both business and human resources. It's really quite astonishing the progress the business has made in three short years which is down to the dedication and standards Sarah has set herself and the company. So where did it all start to change for Sarah? “Genuinely, looking back at the past two years, it’s really hard to believe that the business has come so far. I’ve been really lucky with the relationships I have built with my clients and their success has contributed to the success of HR2YOU.” Modest as ever, Sarah explains that this is a world away from where she would have imagined to be in year three of business, yet she is extremely excited about not only growing her clients’ businesses but HR2YOU as well. Sarah has to pinch herself that she now heads up a team of five, with plenty of scope on the horizon for further expansion. “It's amazing that this time 2


years ago I would never have thought that by now I’d be running a business with five members of staff who are qualified in health & safety, employment law and payroll, adding even more value to the level of service we can provide to our clients.” HR2YOU now has an impressive portfolio of clients, many of whom are expanding. The company has just started a new relationship with a large automotive company in Essex helping with their new Helpdesk. For expanding clients, HR2YOU is helping with back office processes, recruiting sales teams, implementing a management development programme and commission structure as well as helping with their ISO standards and Investors in People criteria. This has all given Sarah the taste for more.

been able to cope so far with clients pushing into new arenas and we have managed without problems. I have a real appetite to grow this business, I have a thirst for knowledge and love to find out more about businesses in new sectors and relish the challenge of a new client in a completely different sector with its own dynamics.” Sarah is rightly proud of what she has achieved and believes that relationships with her clients are at the root of her business. “It speaks volumes that all of my customers are still with me. It’s all about building long term relationships and I really believe that becoming part of the senior management team for many of my clients allows me to understand what motivates them as a business and as an employer.”

Sarah explains that as the company has grown it has also allowed her to work on bigger and more interesting projects, including delivering ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) training courses, presenting at a number of events including B4 workshops, working with clients on extensive national expansion plans, implementing and managing a new sales team including designing commission structures to incentivise staff.

The future looks exciting for Sarah and HR2YOU with new ventures in training, plans to work more in London and develop the network of HR2YOU offices. I wouldn’t bet against this young lady delivering that and more over the next two years. For more information about HR2YOU and talking to Sarah about your HR requirements, contact Sarah at

“I want to expand HR2YOU further now. I can see how we can develop further and have ambitions to develop HR2YOU offices in other regions. I’m not afraid of growth as I have seen how we have


“It speaks volumes that all of my customers are still with me. It’s all about building long term relationships”


Sarah Morris


With over sixty five acres of picturesque Cotswold countryside surrounding it, Lana de Savary, wife of well-known international entrepreneur, yachtsman and philanthropist Peter de Savary acquired the Old Swan & Minster Mill in May 2010. Located in the village of Old Minster, Minster Lovell, between Burford and Witney, the 18th Century mill, where we stayed, is alongside the River Windrush. The Old Swan is an authentic six hundred year old inn. We arrived for our overnight stay far too late. It was almost 8.30pm on a Friday night when Sam and Liz checked us in and I recommend you at least take the time to properly relax in the room or the bar before dinner. Whilst Sam walked Tina to the Minster Mill side of the complex, I drove from main reception to the Mill’s dedicated parking area and met them there (literally 20 seconds away). The Swan side was fairly quiet, but as Sam opened the door to The Mill, the warmth and happiness that was to accompany us during our stay hit us. A roaring fire to one side, jovial guests all around, this place had atmosphere. Our room was up a flight of stairs off the bar. The room was perfect. A huge comfy bed, period furniture and a fantastic bathroom. The heart of this former mill had been retained but the luxury had been added in ample measure. Sam showed us around and left us to a quick sip of Sloe gin before we headed back down the stairs to the restaurant. Unfortunately we had to bypass the thriving bar which looked great fun and full of character (and characters!) as we were late for our table. We were welcomed by Emma, who was bright, engaging and very knowledgeable, and talked us through the specials and answered our questions politely and enthusiastically. I have to say, at this point, that ALL of the staff at The Old Swan and Minster Mill were a delight throughout our stay. So often you’ll pass someone in a hotel, a chamber maid, senior management, the gardener, and you won’t get a squeak out of them. This place is very different. Everyone says hello, everyone is friendly and everyone has a smile on their face – it really is a genuinely happy place. Tina pipped me to the Seared Dry King Scallops (which were as great as they sounded – I pinched

“The honey-coloured stone of the Cotswolds, weeping willows, thatched roofs and the rushing waters of the River Windrush make this one of England’s most enviable settings” 72

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THE OLD SWAN & MINSTER MILL It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic place, less than one hour from Berkshire. It’s all too easy after a busy week to just down tools and unwind, but take my advice and take the trouble to visit The Old Swan & Minster Mill just once – I guarantee you’ll want to go back. Richard Rosser reports for B4. one when she wasn’t looking) and I had the Old Swan Smoked Salmon (served warm). The salmon was delicious, although not cut traditionally, it was a perfect opener. We stayed fishy for mains as Tina had the Bream from the specials board whilst I opted for the Oxford Gold Beer Battered Brixham Haddock with chips and mushy peas. The presentation of the food throughout was first class, but the imaginative layout of the fish and chips on a wooden board with small pot of vinegar and mushy peas was fun and very appealing. The meal was wonderful, and we were accompanied by a couple of gin and tonics and a glass or two of Chablis along the way. No room in the inn for dessert I’m afraid – we were well and truly beaten and the bed was calling. We left a wedding party to have the fun and enjoyed a peaceful night’s rest. I had booked a show around the grounds for 10am and was up and ready to see my host, Amber, in The Old Swan. It was only when we started to walk around that I really started to appreciate the beauty that surrounds this mini village. The backdrop of never-ending gardens, wild-flower meadows, orchards and the surrounds of what remains of the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Wychwood, make the Old Swan & Minster Mill quintessentially English. The honey-coloured stone of the Cotswolds, weeping willows, thatched roofs and the rushing waters of the River Windrush make this one of England’s most enviable settings. Large chess boards are playfully dotted around the gardens, ducks quack from small ponds on the

periphery of rooms and everywhere you look you see the rich dividends of hard work and considerate planning. I could have walked around all day, in every nook and cranny you see something to delight, something to engage, something to connect you with the nature that engulfs this oasis. The only thing missing was another night’s stay – to really appreciate The Old Swan and Minster Mill, make a weekend of it! Lana de Savary has done a fantastic job of restoring the hotel. All of the bedrooms are en-suite and offer all the modern facilities, including complimentary wi-fi access. New formal gardens, a traditional vegetable garden and one of the countries largest wild flower meadows (forty acres) were created alongside the River Windrush. Besides the restoration, a number of new additional facilities and services have been added. The completion of an architecturally stunning Dining Room – the Minster Room, two Yon-ka Spa Treatment Rooms, a super modern gymnasium and work-out area, vegetable & herb gardens which supply the kitchen as well as a children’s petting farm. And with over three miles of superb fly-fishing and coarse fishing, the Old Swan & Minster Mill is set to become one of the countries great fishing destinations. There are also three meeting rooms and five syndicate rooms with main rooms offering natural daylight and a maximum capacity of fifty five. Equipped with free internet access throughout, LCD

and plasma screens, along with audio-visual equipment are available too. The Old Swan is ideal for a teambuilding event or seminars and with the River Windrush and Forest of Wychwood on its doorstep, the location provides the perfect opportunity for a themed country pursuits teambuilding event. Quad-biking; fishing; horse-riding; zip-wiring; falconry; archery - the list is endless. The team of dedicated conference co-ordinators can arrange a bespoke event, tailored to your requirements. The facilities are quite breath-taking and demonstrate the versatility of the estate. My tour ended with a peek inside the new private dining room, The Minster Room. This was being prepared for the aforementioned wedding party and looked wonderful. Equally perfect for business lunches and dinners, thickset oak beams form bold lines around the room, leading to a large inglenook fireplace which takes centre stage. Architecturally stunning, the new room resembles the historical era, coupling traditional architecture with a modern twist, in the same vein as the bedrooms. With a capacity of forty eight, The Minster Room creates a dramatic atmosphere, for both individual dining and larger private parties. Before we left, we had time for a spot of breakfast and a cheeky home made pain au chocolat. A hearty smoked salmon and scrambled eggs saw us happily on our way back home with a taste for life in the country, a yearning to go back, content that we had discovered a real gem.


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Wilson Partners 01628 770 770

Pace Equity Ltd 01491 577889

Pitmans LLP P Christopher Avery Managing Partner 0118 958 0224

Ardhurst Accountants Limited 0118 925 3286

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Chariot Tax Services 0118 986 3738

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Gardner Leader LLP A Derek Rogers Managing Partner 01635 508080

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Morgan Cole LLP A Michael Stace Partner 0118 955 3000

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The FD Group 0118 948 1080 Parfitt Cresswell 01753 271640 Strategic Finance Director Limited 07967 681774

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FSB A Richard Knight East Berkshire Branch Chairman 01256 767837 Click Berkshire A Harriet Slingo Owner 07725 740311 The Business Wealth Club 01869 278900

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BUSINESS SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT Archway Business Solutions Ltd 0118 324 0135


es 1 i ti 221 un 74 rt 5 po 186 op 0 i p on s h us or t ns tac po on rs ec Fo eas Pl

Join us on our 350 mile trip fr from om Edinbur Edinburgh gh to Blenheim PPalace alace in Oxford Oxford next May. Maayy. H aving ccompleted ompleted tthe he 2 70 mile mile trip trip from from Paris Paris to to Oxford Oxford earlier earlier this this year, year, we we are are doing doing iitt aagain gain Having 270 next yyear, ear, lleaving eaving ffrom rom E dinburgh on on May May 24th, 24th, having having travelled travelled up up the the day day before, before, ccycling ycling back back through through next Edinburgh N ewcastle, LLeeds eeds aand nd Birmingham Birmingham before before the the final final leg leg to to Blenheim Blenheim Palace Palace o n Newcastle, on M onday May May 27th 27th (Bank (Bank Holiday Holiday M onday). Monday Monday). T he rride we already already have have a core core of of 1 ide iiss o pen tto o eeveryone, veryone, aand nd we 2 ccyclists yclists w ho were were on on the the trip trip earlier earlier this this The open 12 who yyear, ear, plus will be be expected expected to to have have a decent decent road already signed signed up. up. Cyclists Cyclists will plus a few few friends friends who who have have already road bike bike are available available for for all all those those interested. interested. of fitness. fitness. Further Further d etails are and achieved achieved a minimum minimum level level of and details guides, a medic, medic, mechanic, mechanic, all hich iincludes ncludes p rofessional guides, The cost cost of of the the trip trip is is £850, £850, w all The which professional interested, we we do do have have a payment payment plan team costs. costs. If If you you are are interested, accommodation,food and and support support team plan accommodation,food the next next six you spread spread the the cost cost over over the option to to help help you six months. months. option to our our list list of of preferred preferred charities charities and We are are currently currently adding adding to and hope hope to to make make further further We announcements soon. soon. announcements S ow hy n ot p ick u p the the phone phone and and get get involved involved Ð itit will will be be a ttrip rip tto o rremember. emember. So why not pick up

Call 01865 7742211 42211 toda today ay or ee-mail -mail editorial@b4

C Communication ommunication P Partner artner

M Media edia P Partner artner

S Support upport V Vehicle ehicle P Partner artner

FFitness itness P Partner artner

H Hotels otels R estaurant P artner Restaurant Partner

B anking Partner Partner Banking

Accommodation Partner Partner Accommodation

2013 2013 preferred preferred charities. charities. More More to to be be announced. announced.

Finish LLine ine Host Host Finish

B4 contacts INSURANCE



Coversure Insurance 0800 093 57 80

The Vineyard P Hayden Bowl General Manager 01635 528770


Vision Vehicle Solutions Ltd 01628 780011

SECURITY RISK Management Security Services 01494 469189

TRANSPORT EMT Jets Global Aviation 08453 888248

EVENT MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY The Active Network A Banks Holcombe Senior Manager Emerging Markets 0207 313 5744



Reading College P Lesley Donoghue Principal 0118 955 4300

Berkshire Community Foundation 0118 930 3021

Reading University 0118 987 5123

Connect Reading Clare Wright Managing Director 0118 959 1236 Daisy’s Dream 0118 934 2604 Child Matters 07788720612

FINANCE BANKING Lloyds TSB Commercial P Derek Beards Senior Manager, Business Development 01442 233261

Stanley Spencer Gallery 01628 471885

BEAUTY Electric Hair A Alan Short Director and Salon Manager 0118 957 1010

FITNESS Berkshire Fitness 07825 259612 Gareth France Mobile Personal Trainer 07853 381449

SPORT Reading FC Limited P Sir John Madejski Chairman 0118 968 1100 Bearwood Lakes Golf Club A Martyn Norris Head of Marketing 0118 979 7900 Newbury Racecourse P 01635 40015


RBS Corporate Banking A Donald MacDonald UK Head of Deposits & Director, Professionals 07768 427379

Malmaison P Paul Watson General Manager 0118 956 2300

Santander Corporate Banking A Paul Robinson Relationship Director 0118 921 1621

Team Activity Group 0845 130 2248

Oakley Court Hotel P Richard Smith Sales Manager 01753 609988

Coutts Reading A Tim McInerney

Bedlam Paintball 08453 707571

0118 373 3513

The Bird in Hand Country Inn 01628 826622

Barclays Corporate 07766 362053

Fredrick’s Hotel, Restaurant & Spa 01628 581 000

Handelsbanken 0118 959 5444

Holiday Inn Reading, M4 Jct 10 0871 942 9067


Your Money Friend A Ted Yeates Founder 0208 123 1193

Magnolia Park P 01844 239700


The Lookout Discovery Centre 01344 354400 Nirvana Spa 0118 989 7500

TRAVEL Momentum Hub A Andrew Riley Chairman 0800 0726075x







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Out in March 2013 Tel: 0118 317 7183

Magazine d@ h www Oxford, Oxf ford,, Reading,, London

+44(0)1865 722106

Grow and protect your wealth with a financial health check...


e focus solely on providing face-to-fface advice and offer a dedicated, personal wealth management ser vice to build longterm, trusted relationships with our clients. Together, we would look to create a working plan, providing you with a clear direction towards meeting your financial goals. This includes clarifying your objectives and researchingg all of the options aavvailable to you. We haavve the experience to help you successfully secure and enhance your financial future by offering specialist advice in a wide range of areas including: s )NVESTMENTS s 2ETIREMENTPLANNING s 4AXANDESTATEPLANNING For fur ther information, or to request your complimentary guide to wealth management, contact:

FLACKWELL FLACKWELL FINANCIAL L SER RVICES VICES SERVICES Senior Par PPartner artner Pr Practice actice of St. JJames’ James’s ames’’s Place W Wealth ealth Mana Management aggement

0! 2 4 . % 2 3 ) . - ! . ! ' ) . ' 9 / 5 2 7 % ! ,4 (

Tel: T el: 01628 525450 Email: psteb W eb: www Web:

The title ‘PPartner Prractice’ actice’’ is the marrketing keting term used to describe St. JJames’ ames’’s Place Wealth Manaaggement representatives.

B4 contacts Livingstone’s World of Travel Ltd 0844 888 8383

HR HR2YOU P Sarah Morris Managing Director 07789 711997

IT & TELECOMMUNICATIONS IT SERVICES In Touch CRM P James White Managing Director 0800 056 6452

TELECOMMUNICATIONS Everything Everywhere P Mike Tomlinson Small Business Marketing Director 07968 107671

MARKETING & DESIGN ADVERTISING B4 Magazine P Richard Rosser Managing Director 01865 742211 Focal Point Advertising Solutions 01256 767837

Glooo Robin Parker Partner 01865 595707

PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM PRODUCTION Hills & Saunders A Richard Shymansky Photographer 07878 162452 Take One 01494 898919

PRINTING Stones the Printers P Steve Palmer Sales Director 01295 819 300 Dartnell UK Ltd 01635 278568

PUBLIC RELATIONS Esplin PR A Louise Esplin Freelance PR Consultant 01235 850115 Morgan PR A Nigel Morgan Founder 0845 00 33 666



Clever Little Design 01628 627853

Reading 107fm P Tony Grundy Acting MD 0118 986 2555

Blink Design & Print 01865 742211 Voyage Design 01189 835510

MARKETING Strangebrew Brand Alchemy P Phil Strachan Proprietor 07770 753975 The Social Media Café A Amanda Hill Founder 0844 3305679


COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SERVICES Oxford Innovation Ltd P Jo Willett Marketing and IC Development Director 01865 261400 Berkshire Centres at: Crowthorne Enterprise Centre 01344 751 600 Lily Hill House 01344 317 900 Quintons Specialist Commercial Property Advisors 01635 551441

INTERIORS Amarestone 0845 2608070

RESTAURANTS & BARS Island Bar and Restaurant 0118 9479530

RETAIL Buildbase A Tim Felton Regional Director South 01635 573716 The Vintage Affair 07855 951825 Vintagenie

WHY NOT JOIN THEM? 100 members and rising.

PROPERTY SERVICES Haslams Surveyors LLP P Conrad Hill Managing Partner 0118 921 1500 Synergy Facilities Ltd A Liz Maloney Managing Director 0844 800 2823

Become a B4 Member or Ambassador and in return, we’ll give you: • Presence in the B4 online and magazine directories • Access to the B4 site to upload unlimited press releases, event details, offers and jobs • Invites to B4 Ambassador events in 2012 and 2013 Memberships from just £150+VAT per annum* for full details NOW!

B4 is designed by Blink Design & Print e: t: 01865 742211


We know how important time is when you are dining with clients or when you simply want a quick, light lunch with friends. So dine with us in January in our California Bar and enjoy a one course lunch from a selection of dishes paired with one glass of wine in one hour for just £15. However, if you’re not short of time, we’d love you to stay longer! Please call 01635 898463 to book Discover more: The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8JU *Available Monday to Friday between 12pm and 3pm.

B4 Magazine Berkshire Issue 4  

B4 Magazine B2B in Berkshire

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