Kingston Borough Business Kingston Chamber of Commerce January 2020

Page 1


BUSINESS The voice of Kingston’s business community

Issue 15: Winter 2019/20


supporting diversity and equality makes good business sense - p14


• Welcome to New Members p4 • Sector Focus on Property p8 • • Chamber Events p22 • An Interview with The Lensbury p24 • • Top Tips with Wow PR p31 •

Professional training and development programmes to meet your business needs. At Kingston College we are committed to working in partnership to support your organisation’s skills, employment, Apprenticeship and training strategies. For a FREE skills assessment or for more information please contact: 020 8546 2151.

contents Welcome to new members 4 Chamber President 5 Economy 7 Sector Focus - Property 8-11 Legal 12 Skills 13 Equality & Diversity 14-19 Patron News 20-21 Chamber Events 22 Ask the Expert 23 The Lensbury 24-25 Chessington Expo 27 Health & Wellbeing 29 A Day in the life of ... 30 Top Tips 31 News 33 Starting Up 34 Editorial and General Enquiries Guildhall, High Street Kingston upon Thames. KT1 1EU. 020 8541 4441 Email: Web: Chief Executive: Forbes Low Publisher: Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Email: Web: Published Winter 2020 © Benham Publishing and Kingston Chamber of Commerce Advertising and Features Karen Hall Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email: Production Manager Mark Etherington Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email:


BOROUGH BUSINESS The Kingston Chamber of Commerce magazine for all Businesses in Kingston As we start 2020 and a new decade, I am reminded of the great Groucho Marx, who said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them... well, I have others.” Whether we are acting on New Year resolutions or deeper convictions, it is a great opportunity to reset ourselves, work out what our objectives are and then plan to deliver on them. Being true to your word is an essential ingredient for all us. We stand or fall by what we say we will do and by what we actually deliver on. Of course, none of us are perfect and we do slip up but if we are genuinely trying our best to meet our principles, we can be forgiven. At the Chamber, we regularly review how we deliver on our commitment to businesses. There are areas of success, but we tend to learn more from experiences where we didn’t meet expectations. With so much going on, it is necessary to keep

checking on how we are doing so I am always grateful for the Chamber team, President and Board who provide honest and perceptive advice. Since the last edition, I am delighted to report on our second successful Chessington Business Expo, held at Chessington School. A big thank you to all the exhibitors, speakers, vistors and the generous support of HSBC and Kingston Council; the Expo provides the platform for organisations to show off what we already know at the Chamber; that we have a diverse and driven business community. The Chamber sent out an Expo survey which has provided some useful insights as to where we can improve for 2020 which we appreciate. We are delighted to welcome Pearson Hards as our newest Patron Members. Pearson Hards have firm roots in New Malden and are an integral part of the local business community.

We are both determined to shine a brighter light on this district centre and collaborating with other local businesses. The Chamber has been working with Kingston Council to explore how the procurement process can be more relevant, more locally sourced and clearer to understand. It isn’t easy to change overnight but I am heartened to see a fresh focus so in early 2020, we hope to push out more news on this. So as we look at the year ahead, with anticipation and fresh hope, I wish you all the very best for 2020. May it be enjoyable, successful and healthy. As I turned another year older over the New Year, you realise how much you depend on your body to work properly!

Forbes Low CEO Kingston Chamber of Commerce

Media No. 1699 Disclaimer

Borough Business is published for Kingston Chamber of Commerce and is distributed without charge to Chamber members. All correspondence should be addressed to Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in Borough Business are not necessarily those of Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission. © 2020. Please note that submitting an article does not guarantee publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of material published in this journal, Benham Publishing and its agents can accept no responsibility for the veracity of claims made by contributions in advertising or editorial content. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us.

14 Equality & Diversity

Inspiring Businessman Souleyman Bah

16 31 Top Tips from WOW PR

34 Starting Up with Spark Joy London

Patron Members

+ forbesdesign

The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community



join us


to our new members

The Royal Borough of


Advanced Living (Kingston) Limited Not Just Travel

Chamber of Commerce

Richard Gill

Lisette Julio-Quinn

Aimhigher London

NTE Protection Services Ltd


Suzanne Marchment

Jessica saw networking as the only way to break through to success


Greenacre Financial Services Greg Stanworth


happyinschool project

Suzy Rowland



George Crosbie


People We Like Ltd

John O’Sullivan


Pinnacle Healthcare (Employee Benefits)

Andrew Brunton


Helping Your Property

Tony Bapuji


It’seeze Twickenham

Ian Watson


Jackson Fire & Security

Martin Lawton

“ Being a member of Kingston Chamber of Commerce has been pivotal in raising our profile since we opened in Kingston in 2013.The Chamber is pro-active, with a broad spectrum of members and an excellent variety of events, which meant we quickly made valuable business connections across Kingston Borough. The Chamber also support and publicise our own events, helping us deliver our message to a wider audience.” Sean Arulrajah

For more information or to discuss how we can help you, please contact us at:

Kingston Chamber of Commerce T: 020 8541 4441 E: W:



Kingston Escape Rooms Ltd Frank Borkin


Krajewski Mediation

Gillian Krajewski


Linen Quarter Ltd

Sara Cooke


Living Centre Clinic

Vispi Jamooji


London Private Hire Group SkyFlySky

Local Director, Metro Bank

Connect with us on


Kingston CoC

Renaissance Business Strategy & Engineering Ltd Jose Nieto


RJM Partners Ltd

Ray Murphy


SELDOC Healthcare Ltd Steven Pink


Sign Cube, Wrap Cube, Hire Cube, Cube Ldn Michelle Giles


Splendid Nutrition

Tamla Anderson


TaxAssist Accountants (New Malden)

Samir Gosrani new-malden


Unique Resources Ltd

Edward Earl

Lateef Adepoju

March Branding

Willow Tree Counselling Ltd



Peter Burch

Lindsay Roadnight

Motherhood: The Real Deal

Wow PR Ltd


Talya Stone

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


Sally Brockway

hr dept Porter the Sorter Ask our resident HR expert, Sandra Porter of The HR Dept for advice on your workplace worries. “I run a call centre and feel that I am relatively open minded. However, two of the guys in my team have recently started dating. When the Managers were out at a meeting last week, the two lovebirds decided to move chairs so that they could hold hands all day!! Literally, all day!! I am all for young love and know that many relationships start at work but this is a bit too much. Porter the Sorter, what can I do?” Sebastian, Owner Well, you are right. Apparently a third of all relationships begin at work but there is a line that you should enforce about what is appropriate in the workplace. For many businesses it can help to have a ‘Relationships at Work’ policy that basically outlines that there is no objection to having relationships formed between colleagues but 1) it must not have any impact on their work, colleagues or customers and 2) where required, they may need to have a different reporting line so as not to cause issues of favouritism or prejudice if the romance does not last. Good luck Cupid. “Some of my team receive luxury hampers from Clients to say thank you at Christmas time. I love the fact that our Clients are so thankful for our services but it can feel divisive in the team and upsetting for those that aren’t recognised in the same way. Sometimes an Account Manager is the ‘face’ of the account but much of the hard work is done by the rest of the team. I don’t want to offend our Clients by asking them not to be so generous but what can I do?” Jemma, Business Manager It’s very tricky to get this right but I can imagine that this might cause tension. In advance of any gifts being received it might be best to communicate with your team that, for the very valid reasons you mentioned, that they should declare any gifts received and that these will be then be shared across the relevant team members or raffled off for charity. There is also a risk of bribery etc, if gifts are given that might in any way influence or benefit the Client. It therefore may help to communicate to the Clients what your approach will be. Ensure that your new policy is then documented in your Employee Handbook. Enjoy the wine and mince pies! Happy Christmas!

If you have questions for Porter the Sorter, email for consideration for future editions. The HR Dept are an outsourced HR services provider supporting local SMEs with their people issues and strategy. For advice on workplace relations, gifts and bribery and anything else people related call 0345 208 1290. Always seek employment law advice regarding management of your people issues to ensure that you and your business are well protected from potential litigation risks. The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Dr Martha Mador, Chamber President.

2019 was a quite an eventful year for all of us. Despite the news being dominated by Brexit and the political debates, there have been some great stories to celebrate. The Kingston Chamber of Commerce held it’s second Chessington Business Expo in November last year. With the support of HSBC, Kingston Council and Chessington School, it provided a great day for business networking, sharing knowledge and pulling together a diverse range of borough businesses. It isn’t easy to put on these events so I am delighted to say that the day was a big success all round. For the eighth year running, Kingston University has been rated amongst the top two most successful UK higher education institutions for graduate start-up companies (Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction Survey). Enterprise Education develops vital skills that will help students grow personally and professionally and promote themselves and/or their business idea. These skills and an entrepreneurial mind set are crucial for any future career option. In November, Kingston Business School announced it is inviting 50 leaders of microbusinesses to join a management programme that will help them engage with technology to boost their productivity. The Leading to Grow programme, which will be offered at no cost to microbusinesses across England, has funding for £9 million to provide Business Basics

Programme run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK. Firms that employ up to nine people will be able to apply to take part in free workshops on how to use digital and new technologies to improve efficiency and profitability. This is the first time that such a programme has been coordinated across the country. Finally, as you may be familiar by now, my chosen charity for the year is Express CIC. This is an independent, user led community organisation supporting young autistic people & their families. We welcome families from Kingston, Richmond & surrounding boroughs. Over the last year they directly supported approx. 600 children and adults. I am delighted to say that a fantastic amount of £730 was raised for Express CIC at the Kingston Business Awards in October. I also had the pleasure of attending their comedy night in November and I know that Express CIC really appreciated the support they received from the chamber members who attended and businesses who donated prizes towards the raffle. So, as we start a new year, I wish you all the very best for a successful and enjoyable 2020 – I hope it is a good one.

Dr. Martha Mador

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community



Let’s talk immigration bringing a measure of clarity to Brexit With all the uncertainty around Brexit, if your business relies on EU nationals as staff you will understandably be confused about the current UK immigration position relating to those staff. How will you meet your future staffing needs? If your business does not hold a

This article will hopefully bring some clarity to what is a very complex and fast-moving situation.

If there is a deal… If the draft Withdrawal Agreement is agreed by 31 January 2020 the Government has said that an “implementation period” will run from 31 January 2020 (the date the UK is due to leave the EU) to 31 December 2020. During this period the Government has committed to not changing the immigration rights of EU nationals and their family members. So on this basis there will be no immediate change in their circumstances. What’s more, they may be able to benefit from the EU Settlement Scheme. Since 30 March 2019, this scheme has been fully open for applications from eligible EU nationals and their eligible family members.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme? EU nationals and relevant family members who have been residing in the UK since 31 December 2020 or before, and have been residing in the UK for at least five years, will normally be eligible to apply for settled status. Settled status gives holders the right to, for instance, “stay indefinitely” in the UK, to work here and to apply for UK citizenship. The five-year rule may not apply to “close family members” and children under the age of 21.


EU nationals who apply but do not meet the five-year rule will generally be given ‘pre-settled status’ instead. This allows them to, for instance, stay in the UK for a further five years, giving them a route to the five years’ continuous residence needed to apply for settled status.

What is the deadline to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme? For EU nationals and relevant family members who started residing in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, the deadline to apply for settled status or presettled status is 30 June 2021.

If there is no deal… If the draft Withdrawal Agreement is not agreed and there is a “no-deal” Brexit from 31 January 2020, the right to apply under the EU Settlement would only apply to EU nationals (not necessarily to certain family members) who started to reside in the UK by 31 January 2020, rather than by 31 December 2020.

New staff: if you can, you may wish to bring forward any planned UK hires or transfers of EU nationals to enable them to start residing in the UK on or before 31 January 2020 to insure yourself against a risk of a no-deal Brexit. If that is not possible then you may wish to do this by 31 December 2020 (if the draft Withdrawal Agreement is agreed) so that their UK immigration rights can be governed by the EU Settlement Scheme regime rather than the new and more restrictive UK immigration system that is expected to be put in place from 1 January 2021. Sponsor licence: if your business possesses a sponsor licence you should ensure that the sponsor licence compliance systems are as robust as possible, not least because sponsor licences are at the core of the new and more restrictive UK immigration system expected from 1 January 2021.

sponsor licence, you may now wish to apply for one. Even if you don’t use it immediately, a new sponsor licence could be “held in reserve” for future use.

Can we rely on this regime? The position relating to EU nationals who are residing in the UK by 31 January 2020 has essentially been guaranteed by the Conservative-led Government in place at the time of writing (6 December 2019). However, with the impending General Election and current extreme political volatility as well as numerous variables relating to Brexit, we cannot be certain how UK immigration law will develop or how UK Government policy may change over time. For this reason, EU nationals and businesses who rely on them in their workforce should act now.

Edward Wanambwa Partner Russell-Cooke Solicitors

What steps can your business take to prepare for Brexit? Legal advice: suggest to your EU national staff that they should obtain immigration law advice as soon as possible if they have not already. In some cases that advice may include applying without delay for UK citizenship (if eligible), or, if not, for settled status or otherwise for pre-settled status. +44 (0)20 8789 9111


Report focuses on state of UK small businesses A report issued by FreeAgent, who provide cloud accounting software to small business owners, freelancers and their accountants, has painted a mixed picture for the UK’s small businesses. FreeAgent surveyed more than 1,000 owners for their views on the current issues facing UK small businesses. The report, titled Time for Change: Why the UK needs to back small businesses, revealed that clearer guidance post-Brexit, access to finance and dealing with late payments are some of the most pressing issues which require action. Key findings include: The Brexit Conundrum • 61% of small business owners think Brexit will have a negative impact on the economy • A third of respondents said that the biggest obstacle to trading internationally was the lack of knowledge about new markets The Late Payment Problem • More than half (57%) of respondents said that they have been forced to write money off from their accounts at some point due to not being paid on time • 55% of small business owners think that late payment should be treated as seriously as corporate crimes The New Startup Economy • Only 1% of respondents said they had used an official grant or government assistance to fund their business when they started • Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents started their business with less than £250 Supporting Small Businesses in the Current Climate • Just over half (51%) of business owners revealed that they had suffered from burnout as a result of working too hard on their business • The vast majority (80%) of respondents do not think that the UK education system provides young people with relevant skills required to start their own business Ed Molyneux, CEO and Founder of FreeAgent, said: ”New technology and legislation are having a significant impact on millions of small business owners, while ongoing economic uncertainty, the threat of automation and the looming shadow of Brexit are making the future increasingly unclear. “In this challenging climate, we wanted to find out exactly what small business owners think about the current economic climate and the legal issues facing them. We asked more than 1,000 small business owners for their views on some of the big issues they currently face and their responses show the clear need for a change of strategy in the small business sector in order to help these businesses survive and thrive.” To view the full survey results, visit The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Employees ‘spend just 40% of their working week on the jobs they were hired to do’ UK businesses are missing the opportunity to tap into an extra day and a half of focused work each week from every employee due to unproductive activities and misapplied technologies, according to a new report. Compiled by Workfront, the work management application platform for enterprise, the sixth 2020 State of Work report surveyed 3,750 knowledge sector workers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. Researchers found that respondents are only spending 40% of their working week on core job duties. The rest of their time is wasted on excessive emails and unproductive meetings, as well as a lack of standard processes and collaboration. Employees rated time spent on meaningless tasks as the number one factor keeping them from feeling fulfilled at work. Despite the frustrations, nearly every UK employee (91%) is proud of the work they do, and 75% of workers feel that their job is more than just a pay cheque. The study also indicates that companies need to be more strategic about their technology choices. Although European businesses are spending hundreds of billions of pounds on digital transformation initiatives, these efforts aren’t necessarily helping employees become more productive or engaged. For example, 43% of workers say the number of technology applications and programmes they use at work actually make them less productive, while 56% believe that their stall in productivity is because of the outdated tech they have to negotiate in the workplace. On the other hand, employees understand the benefits of working with the right technologies. Nearly all (90%) UK workers say they crave modern tech. Steven ZoBell, chief product and technology officer at Workfront, said: “The 2020 Workfront State of Work survey shows us that today’s knowledge workers want to do important work that makes a difference for their teams and accomplishes strategic business objectives for their companies. “This research provides vital insight for enterprise leaders, demonstrating the importance of modern work management as companies work to strategically align and equip their people to accomplish extraordinary goals.”

Contractor Companies being made redundant:

do you know what to recommend? At present, the Finance Bill 2019-20 includes a key change for those who provide services through an intermediary (usually a limited company) in the private sector.

Adam Nakar

From 6 April 2020 it is intended that it will be the responsibility of the end-client to determine whether these people should be classified as contractors (as now), or whether they should be employees. These end-users, not the contractor, will be made liable for the employment taxes if found to have chosen the wrong status. Previously, HMRC were able to determine using ‘IR35’ whether a contractor was in fact an employee in all but name and would claim additional PAYE and national insurance from these people if they deemed it due. In practice, however, these cases were hard for HMRC to spot, let alone prove, and the legislation was largely ineffective. The changes - pushing the onus, and penalties, on to the end-user, is copying changes made in the public sector a couple of years ago, which appear to have been more effective in increasing HMRC’s tax yield from these workers. The Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has indicated these changes are going to be subject to review, and all could change following the election, however, we are already seeing contractors who previously worked through service companies being moved on to permanent employment contracts, and many more are surely anticipating being transferred prior to 6 April 2020. That will leave their service companies redundant. Nearly all accountants I have spoken with have clients in this position, but many do not know what to recommend their clients to do with their companies. In most cases, their best option will be to place the company into members’ voluntary liquidation (‘MVL’), a solvent liquidation through which all final tax matters for the company are resolved, and all remaining funds in the company are distributed to the shareholder (ie the contractor) as capital distributions. These funds are then taxed as capital distributions, and in many cases the contractor will be able to claim entrepreneur’s relief on their distributions, paying 10% tax. At WSM Marks Bloom we have three licensed insolvency practitioners able to assist with the MVL process and ensure your company is placed into liquidation and receive your funds as quickly as you need them. Call 020 8939 8240 or email to contact one of our experts.

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


sector sport for focus business - property

Spacious members working at Crave Fishbar restaurant in New York City’s Upper West Side (picture:

Challenger Brands

What Next for Coworking in Kingston? Contributed by Reema Patel, Retail Consultant & David Randall, cofounder of Canbury Works and Maple Works

Coworking is part of the ‘what’s-next-after-retail’ vision, but it has to give customers what they are looking for. 8

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

What is Coworking? Coworking doesn’t need a definition for today’s readers - a sign of how far the industry has come in 15 years – but let’s agree a working definition. LEAP (Local Enterprise Partnership for London) defines ‘open workspaces’ as start-up workspaces, incubators, maker-spaces and trendy lounge-style coworking spaces found in city centres; but excludes private offices. Coworking in outer London lacks variety and economies of scale. Despite our huge population density, we don’t have any of the large well-known formats such as WeWork [Up to 280,000 sq. feet, 4,000+ members]. Kingston has half a dozen small coworking spaces like Maple Works and Canbury Works [approx.10,000 sq. ft,

sector focus - property However, the demand for better i.e. large-format provision is certainly there. The main driver is the corporate appetite for cost-savings and reluctance to maintain the burden of a large estate. This logic has made the retail sector cut back and the conversation in town centre management circles is about how to maintain the vitality of their town centres. At the consumer end of the market, spending continues to chase bargains and cut price deals with flexibility, choice and personalisation being a winning combination. This latent desire combined with technical innovation could bring visitors back into town centres in locations like Kingston which has experienced some recent store closures.

What does innovation look like? It may look like Spacious, a New York City digital platform, creating a marketplace for coworking bringing together two sets of customers; restaurants looking for more customers in their downtime, and mobile workers.

100 members]. Merton has Wimbletech. Richmond has Regus. Croydon boasts the largest coworking space in the South London sub-region in TMRW [21,000 sq. ft, 250 members], opened in 2016. TMRW happened because of a £2m multistakeholder investment with contributions from the Mayor of London’s Regeneration Fund for the fit out and Croydon Council for a rent and rate free period. This was exceptionally joined-up for outer London.

According to Savills, the problem is lack of development.1 With no new buildings in the pipeline, it is likely that some businesses may be forced to choose alternative locations.

Nationwide, coworking accounts for 7-10% of the commercial property market worth £900 billion and it is growing, creating opportunities for ambitious operators in outer London but where are they? In general, there is zero fulfilment of plans for coworking at scale and the market remains undersupplied.

The biggest market players are facing financial difficulties. London-based Central Working collapsed into administration in the Autumn, and global giant WeWork cancelled their IPO. The small local players who are still in the game are not reliant on debt finance, largely because they don’t have the scale to attract investment.

The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Of course, these are challenging times for developers. Market uncertainty, tentative planning leadership, rising construction costs and Brexit all serve to weaken investor appetite.

Or innovation may be more public-private partnerships like TMRW bringing real modernisation to the built environment in the face of commercial property’s market failure. Themed open workspaces dedicated to emerging industry clusters in science, tech, climate action, health, food, media, etc. are desirable and necessary if the government’s Grand Challenges are to be met.

So what does the future look like? Spacious and tech hubs apart, the real focus should be more on meeting everyone’s demand for flexible but desirable workspace at scale, offering: • A mix of private and public works areas • Ability to expand or cut back on space • A dog-friendly place to work So, for the sake of our dogs and cost efficient business practice, let’s focus on getting the basic office solutions right for 2020.


BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community 1



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sector focus - property

Barwell Business Park 2020 vision Barwell Business Park is getting 2020 underway with a promotional and outreach campaign that will forge links within the estate and expand its influence and reputation to the community beyond its landscaped grounds. Owned by Aviva Investors and home to a diverse mix of 60 businesses across 400,000 sq. ft of manufacturing, logistics and office accommodation, Barwell is a unique place to base your business.

Rt. Hon. Sir Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton and interim co-leader of the Liberal Democrats, addressed a gathering at a breakfast event, with his views on Brexit earlier in the year.

A designated Strategic Industrial Location for all of London, Barwell’s on-site management team supports inspirational start-ups through to established global corporations, all of which are succeeding and growing in Chessington.

Aphra Brandreth, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Kingston and Surbiton, paid a visit on her campaign trail.

Colin Lawrence-Waterhouse, Asset Manager at Aviva Investors, said: “Barwell is not your standard industrial park. The smaller units give a great base for a start-up business whilst the wide range of larger units make future expansion within the park easy. “The landscaped environment, improved amenities and transport links make it a pleasant place to work, whilst also giving the park a sense of quality suitable for business headquarters. We want to promote Barwell and the businesses residing here beyond the Park’s boundaries, taking our successes to the heart of the Chessington and Kingston borough communities, as well as further afield.” Its importance to both the local and regional economies – London and the South East – means Barwell frequently hosts tours for stakeholders and local dignitaries, including members of Kingston Council and other politicians. The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

She said: “I got a behind-thescenes tour of Chessington’s unique industrial park, Home to 58 businesses across 21 acres, some big names like Sega and Gocycle as well as innovative start-ups. The park is thriving and it was great to hear about their plans for more community outreach.” In 2019, Barwell benefited from an ongoing programme to improve the quality of its business space and experienced an influx of new businesses. Kubik Robotics UK moved in last December shortly after Video Europe. Coughlans Bakeries opened a new cafe and Websters Wigs, opened a storage and distribution facility.

Other units are currently under offer and when Sunrise Software’s business needs evolved, the Barwell team worked together to relocate them to a better suited facility. With new companies moving in, it is a good time to build on the links within the Barwell community. Colin, who joined Aviva Investors in 2017 following a successful career with Cushman & Wakefield, said: “By increasing business’ awareness of one another, we hope to encourage more relationships and connections between occupiers on the park, which may help all of the community going forward.” A monthly newsletter sharing occupiers’ news and events has just been launched and on-site events are being organised to bring people together. Helping businesses to grow will also go beyond the Leatherhead Roadbased park. Colin is very keen to support more Barwell companies exhibiting at the prime business exhibition for the south of the borough after Aviva Investors,

Bridger Bell, joint letting agents on Barwell and Karbon Kinetics/ Gocycle, located on the park, all had a presence there. Colin said: “The Chessington Expo is an excellent event that enables us to present Barwell’s opportunities whilst bringing the local business community together.” “We always see a couple of Barwell businesses there but Kingston Chamber of Commerce is very keen to work more closely with us, and to encourage more occupiers to showcase their enterprises.” The event took place at Chessington School, opposite the park, which is one of the community partners Aviva Investors is planning to support in 2020. With an ambitious vision, 2020 will be a great year for Barwell and whether you’re an existing customer, relocating business, a start-up, or a resident or local group, we hope to work, and look forward to working, with you.

Email Colin at, call 0800 026 4653 or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


Reimagining the school-employer relationship with the support of KCC members Young people have a natural thirst for exploring their futures and, when supported, this encourages them to raise their aspirations to achieve their potential. Ultimately, as they will likely be spending a third of their life working, we need to ensure stakeholders are collaborating to afford opportunities for the next generation of the workforce. What is more, there are disruptive changes to business models on the horizon that will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years. We are facing significant job creation to job displacement, as well as heightened labour productivity to ever-widening skills gaps. Together, we need to help ensure our students are work ready and awake to taking opportunities such as internships and volunteering. Many current graduates are taking up to seven years to achieve graduate-level roles and pay grades, often due to a lack of work experience and key soft skills. We believe that the time to start this is whilst they are still at school. With a 10% increase in the take-up of apprenticeships in the last year, we owe it to our young people to do even more to build on employer relationships, work together smarter and think more creatively. Taking collaboration a step further, schools are pooling their resources to optimise opportunities by sharing careers events and initiatives. To this end, Kingston Grammar School (KGS) and The Kingston Academy are seeking a formal cross-sector partnership with many other local schools invited to joint events. At a recent ‘careers in medicine’ session, titled ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ over 80 students from local schools heard alumni speakers present inspiring and realistic information about the application process.

Earlier in the year, students from more than 20 local state schools attended an Engineering Careers Evening at KGS. Our annual KGS Dragons’ Den with Lower Sixth students benefits from the mentoring skills of local businesses. We realise that the majority of local businesses are SMEs with only minimal capacity to provide work experience opportunities. Students are grateful for these opportunities, regularly reflecting back on the value of their placement: “It helps you to get to grips with life in a working environment.” “I realised I’d prefer to study Engineering over Architecture.” “You realise how important skills such as problemsolving and team-working are; you don’t work alone.” “No matter where you go, work experience is a great way to learn and get an idea of how the real world works.” Employers are encouraging too: “At Business Clan we regularly offer work placements to students from our local schools, colleges and universities. We want to share our wealth of knowledge and experience with the next generation and, because of the diverse services we offer to our clients, students are able to learn about a variety of career options over a short period of time.”

Time and curriculum pressures have meant that we have been proactive about reimagining new ways for schools and local businesses to cooperate for their mutual benefit: • One-day work shadowing opportunities during holiday periods to afford 16-18 year olds career insights. • Small group career-specific visits to local businesses for a morning or afternoon to hear presentations, gain insights and perhaps complete a career-related activity. • Local business people attending Dragons’ Denstyle events, CV workshops and mock interview sessions for an hour or two one working day. • Employers assisting with a school-based twilight careers session (4.30 to 6.00pm) on a careers area with students from local schools attending. • Explore the possibility of a pan-borough careers evening to allow local businesses to showcase their organisations to our young people We will be proactive in the coming months, approaching local businesses through the Chamber to ask for support with work experience, work shadowing, careers events and skill-building opportunities. In the meantime, we are keen to hear from any businesses willing to support our initiatives: Anthony Fitzgerald Director of Careers & Universities at KGS Lauren Pavitt Careers Lead at The Kingston Academy

skills Kingston College Celebrates

“Best of Local Employers” with Inaugural Awards Ceremony Colleagues from Kingston College and the other Colleges within the South Thames Colleges Group (STCG) came together on the evening of 5 December to celebrate and thank a number of the employers that they work with each year to provide learners with the opportunity to develop and enhance their employability skills and make decisions about their future. These opportunities, for example, include work experience (35 hours), industry placements (45 days), careers talks, mock interviews, mentoring of students, industry projects and site visits. During the inaugural Employer Awards 2019, held at Merton College, the College Group’s Chief Executive, Peter Mayhew-Smith, spoke with great pride of all the collaborative work taking place across the group with its local communities to ensure learners are much better prepared for the world of work once they finish their studies. There were 4 main awards presented on the evening: • Innovator of The Year – Rebound Gaming Hall ( • Social Action Project of The Year – Life Team @ London Fire Brigade ( young-people/life-programme/) • Mentor of The Year – Marlon Commock (Pulse Social) ( • Award for Wide Range of Learner Opportunities – Morden Hall Park ( morden-hall-park). On receiving the award Judith Oram, LIFE Youth Intervention Team Leader explained how “it was amazing to be nominated at the very first South Thames Colleges Group Employer Awards Ceremony and win the Social Action Award. This award recognised our work with Kingston College students who had taken part in a LIFE (Local Intervention Fire Education) course at New Malden Fire Station during 2018/19. The LIFE course encourages young people to work together, be a leader, challenge their The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

perceptions of themselves and others, expand their social skills all while performing operational firefighting exercises. The evening was also a fantastic opportunity to be able to meet and talk with like-minded people who had all supported students in their pursuit of a new career”. In addition, a number of other local employer partners received Silver and Bronze Award certificates for a variety of opportunities that they have offered to learners over the last year. The evening concluded with networking and a buffet dinner. Melissa Kose from British Airways was delighted to attend and explained “over the last few years we have really enjoyed building our relationship with Kingston College. Being invited to the Employer Awards was refreshing and exciting to see so many organisations come together to support and celebrate developing young people. We are honoured to receive the Silver award and be Highly Commended for the ‘Variety of Opportunities’ Award. We can’t wait to see what we can all achieve in 2020” Paul Jennings, Community Investment Manager, Southern Construction Framework added: “Morgan Sindall was proud to attend the STCG event for employers on Thursday 5th December and to come away with an award! This award represents the hard work and dedication of both Karen Wheatley and her team at Kingston College, and of Charlie Davis, and the Overbury team on the Kingston University project. Everyone worked together to support opportunities for students from the college on the project”. Paul added,”we have worked hard over the last couple of years to set up a robust process to provide opportunities for work experience tours and visits on this and other Morgan Sindall Group projects. It is fantastic to see so many young people take advantage of these opportunities and we look forward to welcoming them to our industry when they graduate.” Organisations as large as the Metropolitan Police, to public companies such as NatWest Bank, to local businesses such as Story Storks and

local charities including Creative Youth have worked with the College in offering opportunities to students to help them prepare for the world of work. Two of the evening’s highlights were the videos of students explaining how they had enjoyed and benefited from their experiences with British Airways and the Life Team @ London Fire Brigade. They explained how they had acquired skills that would help them into employment, how the experience had helped them make decisions about their future and particularly for those who had worked with the Life Team how they had felt an immediate positive impact upon how they perceived themselves and their futures. As the evening progressed employers, large and small, national and local, public, private, and from the charitable sector committed to the ambition to extend their support of the College’s students planning for their future life aims, and achieve Gold and Platinum membership of the College’s Employer Advantage (EA) initiative. The College’s scheme, which offers four levels of employer involvement – Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze offers the following benefits to employers joining; • access to the College Group’s talented pool of students • advice with funding bids and interpreting latest Government employment policy • networking opportunities with other employers and stakeholders • priority booking of the College Group’s conference and meeting rooms, and at the College Group’s hair and beauty salons • competitive rates from the Print Services Department • discount at the Taste Restaurant, run by professional chef students • access to the College’s Sport England standard Sports Hall.

To find out more about how you can work with Kingston College, help students fulfil their career aims, find employees of the future and benefit from the College’s Employer Advantage Scheme contact; Karen Wheatley, Head of Employability, Kingston College, Kingston Hall Road, KT1 2AQ

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


cover feature

Why supporting

diversity and equality makes

good business sense One of the biggest challenges facing businesses, including those in Kingston, is the need to ensure that their workforces represent the communities they serve - and that means championing equality and diversity. Now, a major survey has underlined the point, suggesting that diversity is particularly important to the generation that will inherit the business world, both in the workplace and when making their purchasing choices. According to the study, compiled for office brokering service Instant Offices, millennials (generation Y) will make up approximately 75% of the worldwide workforce by 2025, occupying a growing number of leadership roles – and 74% of this generation believe that businesses are more innovative when the culture is more inclusive. About half of all millennial jobseekers say that they are prioritising a culture of diversity and inclusion when choosing prospective employers, based on companies’ attitude to things like gender issues. According to Instant Offices, the treatment of women in the workplace is very important to younger people. The researchers say that studies show that 40% of people believe that men are likely to be hired over women, while further research shows that men are also 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position with many earning more than women.


BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

About half of all millennial jobseekers say that the way a company deals with LGBTQ issues is also important. Research from Engagement Labs, quoted in their study by Instant Offices, shows growing support for both the online and offline success of brands which support the LGBTQ community. Indeed, says Instant Offices, ‘beliefdriven buying’ has gone mainstream, with 60% of consumers wanting brands to make it easier for them to see their values and positions on important issues. In 2018, the Earned Brand Report, which covered markets in the UK, USA, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India and Japan, revealed: • 1 in 2 people today will choose, change or boycott brands based on their stance on specific social issues • Almost two-thirds of US shoppers are belief-driven buyers • 65% will decide not to support a brand that stays silent on a topic they believe it is obligated to address • Japan saw the most significant year-on-year growth in beliefdriven buying, with a 21% increase. This was closely followed by the UK, with 20% year-on-year growth

cover feature Further studies have also revealed that companies with a diversity performance that is above average see, on average, a 45% increase in innovation, while those who are below average see a 26% increase in comparison. Other advantages of having a diverse workforce, says the report, include: • Increased creativity: People from different backgrounds tend to have different perspectives and experiences, creating a melting pot of new ideas • Reduced employee turnover: Companies that are dedicated to building a diverse workforce benefit from better employee retention and higher employee engagement • Better company reputation: A diverse and inclusive workplace can boost a company’s reputation and brand, making the company more ‘human’ and socially responsible. According to the Instant Offices report, there are a few ways that companies can ensure a diverse and tolerant environment: • Ensure there is a diverse pool of candidates when interviewing for positions • Encourage conversations around diversity and continuously look for ways to address any lack of diversity within your company • Work towards creating a workplace culture where people from all backgrounds feel comfortable and safe • Look for ways to partner with other companies that are known for diverse leadership.

More than half of female UK entrepreneurs ‘experience gender bias’ New research published by HSBC Private Banking reveals that half of female entrepreneurs in the UK believe that they experience gender bias when raising capital for their business. According to the report, when pitching for investment female entrepreneurs say they are asked questions about

their family circumstances (44%), their credibility as business leaders and their attitude to loss prevention (41%). The research found large differences across markets with female entrepreneurs in the UK saying that they experience the highest levels of gender bias, followed by the USA. Last year, the Federation of Small Businesses found that women-owned and led businesses contributed £221 billion to the UK economy. However, women say they are still being held back when it comes to raising capital. HSBC’s new research found that 70% of UK female entrepreneurs said they found raising capital the most challenging part of the process; more than half (53%) of female founders are denied funding, and those that secure it, receive 6% less than their male counterparts. This gender imbalance is also reflected in the make up of pitch panels. Although the UK has the most all-women investor panels (13%), it also has the lowest percentage of mixed panels (47%) across all markets. Despite the pressures of raising capital, the UK’s female founders are determined to succeed. The research shows that they are the second most confident entrepreneurs globally behind mainland China. Kirsty Moore, Managing Director at HSBC UK Private Banking in the UK, said: “It is concerning that half of female entrepreneurs in this country have experienced bias when trying to raise capital for their businesses. This research shows how far we have to go to level the playing field for women to fulfil their ambitions.” Victoria Peppiatt, UK entrepreneur and co-founder of Phrasee, said: “This report shows the barriers female entrepreneurs face when trying to grow businesses. It’s important that institutions with the capacity to bring about change, like HSBC, continue to highlight these issues and draw attention to the ways in which gender bias can be overcome. Mixed panels, more access to networking opportunities and a commitment from investors to review their investment choices are just some of the ways we can achieve more parity.”

“It is concerning that half of female entrepreneurs in this country have experienced bias when trying to raise capital for their businesses. This research shows how far we have to go to level the playing field for women to fulfil their ambitions.” The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Kingston Chamber backs work to help Autistic people find employment Each year the new Chamber President is invited to choose a charity to support for the presidential year and this year’s choice again emphasises the organisation’s commitment to inclusion. President Dr Martha Mador has chosen Tolworth based Express CIC, a not for profit community organisation supporting autistic people and their families. They offer advice and counselling for families pre and post-Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. They also help families with benefits and support applications, and other paperwork as well as job-seeking. Established in 2012 by Annette Williams and Tracey Gaggiotti, both parents of children on the autistic spectrum, Express CIC is the only autism hub in the Borough. They have plans to open a dedicated autism friendly café, offering a safe environment for families as well as work and work experience opportunities for their clients and their carers. Martha said: “It’s a pleasure to be working with Express CIC. They provide an invaluable support service for families in the Borough, and have ambitious plans for doing more. We’re asking our members to help Express, and there’s many ways you can get involved.” That could mean helping the Express dedicated careers service, who are passionate about finding job opportunities for young adults with ASD including helping with CV writing and interview techniques. The organisation estimates that there are about 1,700 adults with autism in the Borough, and 300 children. Only 15% of young autistic adults are currently employed and Express wants to change this. Express is seeking job opportunities part-time or full-time, as well as work experience placements for young adults on the autistic spectrum. The autism spectrum is wide and each young person is unique with their own skills, abilities and challenges. A person on the autistic spectrum may take pleasure in a role others might find tedious, it’s about matching the right person to the right role. If you or someone you know can help or you just want to find out more about how this could benefit your organisation please get in touch. You can also help to: Raise their profile A like and a share on social media costs nothing and takes seconds but can make a massive difference to a small charity. Please help raise their profile on social media via www.Twitter. com/expresscic or Facebook at Raise money – without spending a penny If you are booking a holiday or shopping online, raise free donations for Express at causes/expresssurbitoncic/ Back the Co-Op Local Community Fund - choose Express CIC as your Co-Op cause and raise donations at https://membership. 26434?fbclid=IwAR3nv CnRCK73eD7_ G2JGCTuFXaPicpWV0WxwZ ErDk77fgdFwmTCY_d3MjWw Fundraise If you’d like to make a donation or want to take part in an event to raise money please use this local giving link. Express says: “‘We are recent members of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce and we joined with a view to forging links to support our Careers Guidance Service here at Express. We are very grateful to Martha and the Chamber for choosing us as the cause for this year and we look forward to working with them to further support our young people into work.” You can find out more at

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


cover feature

Inspiring businessman

who believes that anything is possible One businessman who is a passionate advocate of the diversity cause is motivational speaker Souleyman Bah, whose main message is that disability need not prevent people from achieving success. Souleyman, a Para-Athlete sprinter and a businessman who was one of the 16 competitors in the 2019 edition of Lord Sugar’s BBC Television series The Apprentice, has set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) to convey his inspiring message. Called Vision Beyond Sight, the company provides public speakers, sporting events and teambuilding activities to businesses and schools. Souleyman said: “I was inspired to create the business by my success as an athlete and I go into schools and companies with a message that, just because you have an impairment, that does not mean that you cannot be a success. “Part of my work is to get children involved in sport, getting them jumping about and exercising, but I also go into workplaces with my message that people can overcome hurdles and barriers even if they have an impairment.” Souleyman is proof of that. The 20-yearold, who lives in South West London and went to school in Surbiton, has a rare eye condition called RP (Retinitis pigmentosa), which affects the retinas at the back of his eyes. People with RP generally have


difficulty seeing in poor light and have limited peripheral vision; Souleyman can’t see out of his right eye and has tunnel vision in his left. As a member of the Great Britain Paralympic Team, he is hoping to represent his country in the 100 and 200 metres events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. His biggest achievement came on the athletics track in 2015 when he won the 100 metres at the Paralympic School Games in Brazil.

“That is why the business is called Vision Beyond Sight; it urges people to look beyond the disability.” Apart from the inspiring message, Souleyman had another reason for starting the business, one that he hopes will help him add to his own success. He said: “I am working hard towards Tokyo 2020 and training four days a week, and that costs money.

Souleyman said: “Everything I do is a way of showing people what they can achieve, whatever hurdles they may face.

“People tend to assume that, because you are a successful athlete, you are fully funded but I have to raise every penny myself to pay for equipment and coaching. The business is a way of doing that.”

“I also remind employers that people with disabilities can make good employees. They overcome challenges every day and that makes them the kind of person that an employer should want on their team.

You can find out more about Vision Beyond Sight at

Souleyman also has another, perhaps more surprising, ambition. “I would really like to be the Mayor of Kingston!” he said.

“Everything I do is a way of showing people what they can achieve whatever hurdles they may face. I also remind employers that people with disabilities can make good employees. They overcome challenges every day and that makes them the kind of person that an employer should want on their team.”

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


EVEN MORE CHOICE ON HOW THEY ORDER AND PAY Customers at the McDonald’s restaurants in Kingston, Bentalls, New Malden and Surbiton can now enjoy a whole range of digital features. Franchisee Mike Smith, who has been a McDonald's franchisee for over 16 years and today is the owner and operator of 12 McDonald’s restaurants across South London, said: “I’m proud to be able to offer customers more choice as to how they enjoy their McDonald’s experience. McDonald’s is committed to harnessing digital innovation to provide our customers with the food they want, when and how they want it.’ Changes made to the restaurant help customers enjoy their local restaurant in a way that works for them. Self-service kiosks mean visitors to the restaurant can order at a speed that suits them, while easily accessing nutritional information and making informed food choices. The digitalisation of the restaurants has also made table service possible, which McDonald’s was the first in its category to offer. The introduction of this service has also provided the crew with more opportunities to interact with customers and build valuable soft skills from working front of house. Customers in certain areas of the UK are also able to enjoy McDonald’s from the comfort of their own homes, with the introduction of McDelivery to certain locations. Other digital features in the restaurants include free to use tablets, interactive magic tables for children and mobile phone charging points.

cover feature Poonam’s story My career and adventure with McDonald’s in Balham go back 18 years ago when I was studying computer programming. As any other teenager I was keen to get a part-time job and earn my pocket money. But I was not prepared to work for any company out there as I wanted to learn within my work environment about good working ethics and discipline. Hence, I did my research and was very excited to find out that McDonald’s was the one. They had so much to offer and there was so much I could gain from this organisation. In June 2001 I applied as a crew member and so glad to be appointed. I still remember my first day as if it were yesterday, there were a million questions going on in my head. The team was very supportive and within my first week I felt confident to work without supervision in the kitchen area, from there I trained on the till and lobby, I was very passionate about my job and keen to learn all areas within the restaurant. I was helping with administration and paperwork’s too.

Diversity and Inclusivity in the workplace

By Mike Smith, Patron member of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce McDonald’s genuinely is a positive and incredible environment with so many employees from amazing countries worldwide working together in one workplace. I am incredibly proud that I myself am a product of opportunity created by McDonald’s fantastic Training & Development Program. Yet when I look at Diversity and Inclusivity, I have to ask why more women and people of colour are NOT in more senior management positions?? Yes, a controversial subject but I feel compelled to write. Instantly, I wanted to share a staff person’s story with YOU in the hope it will inspire many others to think positive and improve their self-worth and wellbeing. My understanding of the definition of Diversity means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. My understanding of the definition of Work Inclusivity is a workplace that values and provides equal opportunity to all employees regardless


of differences. For e.g. ability, age, ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, to achieve their maximum potential at work without discrimination. Therefore, this is a story of Poonam Simathree who started work at McDonald’s UK on 30th June 2001 in the SE London area. Originally from Mauritius as a part time employee, Poonam’s story represents so many women of colour who have to struggle with so many misperceptions and challenges to be accepted not just as a person of colour but as a woman so they can achieve their maximum potential at work without discrimination. Poonam is employed as a People and HR Consultant for Twelve McDonald’s Restaurants, of which and across the organisation employs over 1053 employees!! Ideally, when you consider the depth of the responsibilities involved it is a testament to her training and development, but more importantly her impressive ability to interact with so many people from so many different countries that makes her achievements so impressive. Additionally, when you read Poonam’s personal hobbies story of cooking you just couldn’t write it any better that someone who enjoys cooking so much ended up working successfully for the biggest global fast food company in the world! Poonam aspirations are to own her own restaurant one day and fulfil her dream of self-indulgent cooking.

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

In September 2002 we were told that the store would be franchised to Mike Smith. I was not sure what would be the outcome and I started to apply for a job in different companies and BP was very keen to offer me a job given my past experiences. When I submitted my resignation, Mike called me for a meeting he was very keen on staff retention. He asked me the motive for my resignation and I explained that I was not sure about the future of working for a franchisee and why I applied for a different job. He explained his expansion vision for the future and I felt his passion for McDonalds. He interviewed me looking at my skills and immediately recognised my potential and as a result offered me a position as PA. As I was studying computer programming, I had no desire to have a career at McDonald’s and I made it clear that was not my vision. Mike understood and supported my decision, but he encouraged me to take up the administration position as this would serve me in my future career. I agreed and under his supervision, I learned fast and gradually took on more responsibility with payroll, scheduling, etc. I was enjoying my work at McDonald’s, learning so much within an amazing team.

cover feature In 2004 I was offered the opportunity to start the management programme and I was running shifts and under Mike’s tutelage I learned all the commercial method of McDonald’s. By then I finished my computer programming and started studying ACCA which helped me get involved in the accounting and financial side of the business, I was enjoying my work and got rewarded a lot within the organisation. Hence, I decided to build my career at McDonald’s. For me it was the greatest organisation I could work for and felt proud to be part of the family. In 2007 I had enough experience and confidence under my belt and took on the responsibility of running the store as the business manager which lasted for a year. Within the same year Mike acquired McDonald’s in Sutton therefore making it three stores under our group. My performance was exceptional and as a result, Mike promoted me to people’s manager overlooking the Human Resource side of the business. I was very proud and motivated by the career progression within the group. In 2010, Mike purchased another store in Tonbridge thus making it number four in our group. By 2012 Mike secured a further 5 Stores taking it to 9 stores in the group. By then our organisation had expanded massively and I was offered the position of business consultant. It was a huge responsibility, but I was up for the challenge which I gladly took on. I felt valued and supported by Mike throughout my learning path as a business consultant. In 2014 Mike managed to secure another four stores around the Kingston area taking it to twelve stores in our group. By then I had acquired a lot of experience and took more additional responsibilities within the group. My range expanded to overseeing the following for the group: People, Human Resources, scheduling, hiring, financial and operational. Despite those huge responsibilities I still enjoy my work every single day. It is very challenging, and every day is a new day with new challenges. I strive very hard and give my best every day to outperform my expectations. Eighteen years on I am still working for Mike. When I think of my first interview with him and what I said it makes me laugh but I could not have made a better decision and career in my life. I could be a computer programmer, or an accountant stuck behind a desk all day long! My job is so challenging and exciting and I could not be any happier. Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to Mike Smith for seeing what I could not see in myself, which was great potential. He has always been here for me and supported me in the most difficult and challenging moments of my career.

He taught me everything I know about McDonald’s systems. I could not dream of a better career.

Poonam’s hobbies My most favorite hobby is cooking! I started cooking as a must when I was 10yrs old, I had to help my mother when she came back from work. Back then it was not fun, as a young girl when my little brother could watch TV but over time, I fell in love with it and realised that I enjoy cooking. When I am cooking, I feel free, freedom to express myself, freedom of creativity, freedom to experiment with new ingredients. I am adventurous and find it exciting to create new dishes or add a twist to classic dishes. However, it feels good to master a good, old classic recipe. There is a satisfying desire transforming ingredients into something mouthwatering and delicious, especially when I invite guests over and they love the food. Above all I feel so relaxed when I’m cooking, I’m in my element and its feels therapeutic. I would say the best combo is to have music on while cooking, I feel the combination of both give me great pleasure and feel relaxed. My secret to a good dish came from my mother, she used to say ‘you have to cook with love’ when you cook from your heart the dish is bound to taste nice. So always cook with a drop of love!

Poonam’s travels

I love traveling but unfortunately due to a busy lifestyle I don’t travel as much as I would like to but when I do, I enjoy every second. Travelling helps me break out of my everyday routine. It is very easy to be so caught up in my routines. When I go to a new place, I venture out of my comfort zone. And not only does this make life more exciting, it also makes it harder to get roped back into the same groove. Travelling helps me separate from our situations and rough patches and look at them with a more objective perspective. Exploring places of interest helps me become more selfaware when I am forced to leave my comfort zone. Also, it helps to know what I want in life, what lifestyle I want. Without exposure to different cultures and a different way of life, one does not grow and know what the best way of living is. I enjoy meeting people with ideas that differ from mine, people who have a different experience of life in a different country with different culture, with different governments, economies and social values that differs from the UK. Perhaps experiencing a way of life that you may find to be better or worse than what you’re accustomed to, allows you to have a fresh perspective and keep an open mind.

Mike’s Overview A new report confirms that the UK’s top firms have failed to make any progress on increasing ethnic diversity amongst top executives. Ethnic minority representation has fallen over the past year and 47 companies still have no person of colour on their executive board. Women continue to be underrepresented in senior management positions, although recently this is improving and showing there is light at the end of the tunnel. Since 2014, female representation at the top three leadership tiers has risen from 10 women to 26. My understanding from The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Travelling helps me explore my most favorite hobby! Cooking and trying different food, learning new ways of cooking and different techniques. It enriches my food knowledge and sharing it with my family and friends. Hong Kong may be well known for its Cantonese cuisine and dimsum but did you know they are fond of French toast and is typically made with peanut butter and eaten along with condensed milk! It’s a delight. For me traveling is about memories and experiences, in this modern age where we are living a very materialistic life I choose to cherish living the moment, creating memories and connections that will last forever. I enjoy meeting new people it’s virtually inevitably not to encounter people that you might never have met before. Surprisingly I met strangers where amazing friendships flourished off the back of it. I am feeling grateful to have friends around the world and have different views way of life. To be bluntly honest I didn’t use to enjoy going to the gym! The gym is not a mystical place but can be a magical place depending on your effort. I started a while ago to keep fit and over time I realised how good it made me feel and a stress buster. Gym is my getaway, it’s my place to forget everything for that moment and focus on myself. It’s my time where I take care of myself physically and mentally and I enjoy it more with my music on. After a good work out, I have a euphoric feeling and feel like nothing can stop me. It’s a hobby that I enjoy very much now as it keeps me healthy and the literature says you can live longer! It is a way to socialize as I have a busy lifestyle, hence I meet my friends at the gym, we have a good workout and gossip and laugh over a coffee afterwards.

a recent report is there are only 10 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people working in leadership roles across companies in the FTSE 100. Ethnic minority representation on boards is down to 7.4% from 8.8% in 2018, and up only 2.2% on 2014. It would be great to see other great companies (of which I am sure there are many) give opportunities like McDonald’s to people of colour, in this case Poonam, whilst providing a workplace that values and provides equal opportunity to all employees!

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


Three years later, in 2015, Sutton law firm John Chapman & Co became part of Pearson Hards LLP. John Chapman & Co was founded in the 1950’s serving clients in Sutton and the surrounding areas. Although having a great history and tradition the firm is looking to the future: a future where the core values that served our clients through the generations are still as important as ever, but where we embrace the changing faces of life and family, of communication and technology, and of clients’ expectations.

Pearson Hards solicitors announce their Patron membership at the Chessington EXPO in November, pictured from L to R Chamber President Dr Martha Mador, Chamber CEO Forbes Low, Claire Darby Pearson Hards, Mayor Cllr Margaret Thompson, Robert Dell Pearson Hards, Sir Ed Davey MP

A NEW CHAMBER PATRON Introducing Pearson Hards Solicitors of New Malden Pearson Hards may be a new name, and our approach is fresh and progressive, but our roots in the Borough go back a long way. New Malden based Pearsons began in 1963 and just over 30 years later joined forces with C A Maddin, a longstanding firm which had been serving the people of Surbiton since 1928 to become Pearson Maddin. In October 2012 Pearson Maddin merged with another New Malden firm ACS Hards & Co to become Pearson Hards LLP. ACS Hards started in 1965 as a successor to AG Berry and Co, which could trace its history right back to the turn of the century in the city of London and to the early 1930s in New Malden.

Just has the nature of the firm has evolved over the years, so has the nature and character of New Malden. Once it had its own identity and sense of community, to those that lived there it was “the Village”. Today there is a danger that New Malden is seen as becoming no more than a suburb of Kingston and is at risk of losing its individual identity. As a firm we are very conscious of the challenges that face the business community in New Malden. We have resolved to do what we can to support the business community by improving relationships between local business people and engaging those who work from home, to draw them into a wider business network. One of the reasons that we have decided to become Patron members of the Kingston Chamber is to be better able to act as a voice for business in New Malden in discussions concerning the Borough as a whole. We have a vision that a better, more active, business network will improve the flow of information and comment to and from those more at the centre of things in Kingston. We also believe that better communication will help residents in the area to understand and make use of the wide range of goods and services that is offered by the business people of New Malden.

Becoming a Patron Member Patron membership offers unique opportunities to engage at a higher level – to find out more about how this exclusive offering can benefit your organisation please contact or call us on 020 8541 4441 20

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

Kingston Business School launches funded programme to help microbusinesses use tech to grow Kingston Business School is inviting 50 leaders of microbusinesses to join a management programme that will help them engage with technology to boost productivity.

Director of Kingston Business School’s Small Business Research Centre Professor Robert Blackburn said businesses would benefit from group and one to one advice.

Kingston is part of a consortium of business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter who will deliver the Leading to Grow programme, which will be offered at no cost to microbusinesses across England.

“Owners and managers will also be supported to analyse the costs and benefits so they can make informed decisions about the right technology for their company. Kingston Business School has more than 30 years of experience of research into micro-enterprises, so is excellently placed to deliver this programme.”

The funding for the consortium is part of the £9 million Business Basics Programme run by the Department for Business, Energy and and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK. Firms that employ up to nine people will be able to apply to take part in free workshops on how to use digital and new technologies to improve efficiency and profitability.

HHW Patron News Amyr Rocha-Lima Named One of The Top 35 Next Generation Advisers 2019 Amyr has been recognised as one of the leading lights of the next generation of financial planners by New Model Advisor who compile the annual and much coveted list. One important theme this year was impact, both on the clients they serve and on the business they work in. Amyr has determination to help Holland Hahn & Wills grow and also become an integral part of the business community in Kingston upon Thames. He has also launched a podcast designed to highlight local community leaders, business owners and successful professionals. At Holland Hahn & Wills we are incredibly proud of his achievements, and the contribution he is making to our clients, community and company.

Masters of the Masterclass Amyr and Katie headed to Warren House at the beginning of November, where they co-hosted an event on Pensions & Divorce. The seminar was designed to help solicitors understand some of the complexities involved

Partnership which shapes business and drives economy Forbes Design have worked with the Irish Medtech Association for many years. They are a business sector within Ibec (Irish Business and Employers The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

For more information visit Small Business Charter’s website leading-to-grow-programme/

from a financial planning standpoint when handling a divorce case. We were joined on the day by Martin Stewart and Cathy Beaumont from London Money, who looked at some of the issues from a mortgage perspective. We were delighted to welcome many friendly faces, some who had joined us at previous events, and others who we were pleased to welcome and hope to interact with more in the future. If you’d like to find out more about their professional events visit

Winners at Kingston Business Awards 2019 Holland Hahn & Wills were honoured to win the award for Best Professional & Financial Services Business category in the Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2019. The HHW team enjoyed the gala evening on Ravens Ait Island, hosted by TV Presenter Michael Underwood. We faced some fierce competition so were delighted to be crowned winners, an achievement of which were are extremely proud. Confederation) that represents the Medical Technology sector. It is a proactive membership organisation with over 170 members located throughout Ireland. It works directly with government and policy makers nationally and internationally, to shape business conditions and drive economic growth. Led by a board of 15 industry leaders, and facilitated by a dedicated

Kingston College Access Students Awarded Bursaries

Former Kingston College Access to Higher Education Diploma students have won coveted OCN London Michael Sargent Bursary Awards. Anna Bryant, Access to HE Diploma – Humanities & Social Science, has won a bursary for her Outstanding Academic Achievement and Eddie Thorne, who studied on the same Access course, won a bursary for his Outstanding Commitment to Study. Anna commented: “The Access course at Kingston College provided me with an opportunity to step closer to my goal of becoming a lawyer. Thanks to the course and the incredible support I received from my tutor and all of the teaching staff I am now studying Law and Politics at University. I can genuinely say that the course has changed my life for the better and opened so many doors of opportunity for me.” The Access to HE Diploma is a qualification that prepares people without traditional qualifications for study at university. Kingston College offers a wide range of validated Access to HE Diplomas across many subjects.

For more information visit

professional executive staff, our working groups, forums and task forces are the primary enablers of our strategy. Over this year, we have designed a suite of contemporary looking and people focused programmes which are aimed at existing manufacturing, mechanical or engineering professionals. For more information, please visit www. forbesdesign.

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


chamber events

Join Us

at one of our networking and business events this new year. Thursday 16th January

Thursday 13th February

Surbiton Golf Club

The Guildhall Kingston

Networking Breakfast

Networking Breakfast

Thursday 16th January Internet of Things - what it means for community, business and productivity Kingston University

New Members Meetings All new members and any prospective members interested in finding out more about what the Chamber has to offer are invited to join us for our New Members Meetings. Learn how to get the most out of your Chamber membership, meet the friendly Chamber team and pick up some networking tips from our dedicated Membership Manager. Meetings are hosted monthly on a strictly first come first serve basis, visit the chamber website to book your place. The next meetings will take place on; Wednesday 15th January Wednesday 29th January Wednesday 12th February Wednesday 11th March

Join us for a very special breakfast event hosted by the Mayor’s Office and attended by the Mayor of Kingston in the historic Guildhall.

Friday 31st January

Thursday 27th February

Warren House, Kingston

The Guildhall Kingston

Networking Lunch Wednesday 5th February

Wych Networking

The Wych Elm Kingston Networking for all local freelancers, homebased workers and aspiring start-ups in the Kingston area. Get out of the house and tell people about your business, swap expertise, experiences, advice and contacts with other local talents.

Fire Marshall Training Delivered by Safety Delivery Limited

Friday 28th February

Women in Business Lunch Crowne Plaza London - Kingston Tuesday 3rd March

First Aid at Work Training Surbiton Delivered by Kay Galbraith of First Aid Training Kingston

Thursday 12th March

Networking Breakfast Kingston College

Chamber Golf Day Monday 23rd March Surbiton Golf Club Surbiton Golf Club has a heritage stretching back to 1895. The course – one of the best presented in Surrey – continues to evolve and adapt to golf technology, and the needs of golfers of all levels. As a result, the 6056-yard (par 70) course offers a surprising test - with narrow fairways, subtle greens, plenty of mature trees and changes in elevation. Members love it because every round feels like a different golfing experience. Golfers can join us as individual players, pairs or team of 4. The day include breakfast, 18 holes of Golf and a 2 course prize giving dinner.

Events to Watch out for in 2020 Kingston Business Expo Tuesday 30th June 2020

Chessington Business Expo Friday 23rd October 2020

More events are being added all the time and we also feature our members’ event on our website too so do keep checking for updates at 22

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

ask the expert

Recruit well and save your company money Whilst there are many factors that could influence employee retention within an organisation, recruitment certainly is one of them. When recruiting, what do companies need to bear in mind? Attracting the right candidates is crucial and a company needs to think very carefully about the type(s) of candidates they want to attract and where and how they are going to find them. When advertising for a position, potential candidates need to be given a fair and realistic overview of the company and the position in order not to raise expectations too high, which would result eventually in the employees being disappointed and leaving within the first few weeks. Do not attempt to save money by trying to recruit candidates quickly as this can be counterproductive and it will eventually prove to be more costly if the employees leave as they find themselves not suited for a particular position or company. Having a good recruitment strategy that is aligned with the company’s objectives (and anti-discriminatory law) is key to retaining good employees and to achieve this, an organisation needs a competent manager who is able to recruit skilled employees capable of reaching the company’s goals. Any tips on how to select and interview the right candidates? Poor selection can be very costly to a company, not only in terms of time and money but it can also affect the morale of other employees and

staff retention should the same hiring mistakes be made repetitively. Good interview preparation is essential and asking all interviewees exactly the same questions for a particular position would make the decision process much easier when comparing candidates. The questions need to be well thought out and the 80/20 rule applied – listen 80% of the time and only talk 20% of the time. This way it is much easier to judge whether a candidate is right for the organisation. When interviewing, one should consider at least the following six points: • have a clear job specification for the position i.e. what knowledge, skills and attitude would be expected of the position • ask open questions • ask behaviour based as well as situational based questions • ask about relevant experience they may have and what they could bring to the organisation • think about how they would get on with the team and complement it • do not hire someone if you are not fully happy with the answers given. We need to remember that good candidates tend to have more job opportunities to choose from and it is therefore important for the interviewer to form a good first impression of the company.

Is that the end of the recruitment process? Definitely not - once a candidate has been selected and a job offer letter has been sent, it is time for the final stage of the recruitment process – the induction. The first few days of employment are crucial to the new employee because it is a time of uncertainty as they often feel anxious about the fact that they might not be performing up to the expected or required standard. The person conducting the induction needs to take into consideration how difficult it can be for a new member of staff to settle within a new environment surrounded by a lot of new people. It is of course important to go through Health & Safety regulations, company policies, terms and conditions of employment; however, it is vital that the team member adjusts emotionally to their new position. The components of a good induction are as follows: - talk about the history of the organisation and what its core values and beliefs are - explain what the organisation wants to achieve, its goals and strategies

- cover company policies, H&S regulations, holidays, sickness, training, auto-enrolment if applicable etc. - terms & conditions of employment. Employers have eight weeks to provide a new employee with a contract, however, I would advise them to do this on the employee’s first day as it will make the new team member feel more secure. Do not rush the induction process as this might result in the new member of staff not feel integrated causing low morale which would result in poor productivity as the employee may not be able to perform to the best of their ability. Thereafter, regular ‘one to one’ meetings will also help not only new, but ALL employees feel valued. Anything else to add? It is important to recruit the right people as a competent workforce will enhance the company’s performance, which will lead to satisfied customers. If a company director/managers are too busy or not experienced enough at recruiting new team members, I would advise them to perhaps get an HR consultant to cover the whole of the recruitment process to ensure objectivity, fairness and most importantly compliance.

- introduce the new team member to other members of staff and key senior management staff

Inevitably, some employees will leave your company (hopefully for the right reasons) and so it is good practice to conduct an exit interview on their last day of employment as this will give you invaluable information that will enable the Company to identify areas that need improvement.

- go through a thorough job description and explain what will be expected of the individual

Patricia Lawrence is a chartered MCIPD HR Director, you can find out more at

- go through the organisational structure of the company

We love HR so that you don’t have to For peace of mind, call us now to book your free consultation Tel: 07974 344 230 The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


The Lensbury – a real experience One of the big trends in corporate events at the moment is the move towards providing lifestyle experiences. Although traditional conferences and exhibitions remain as popular as ever, there is also an appetite for events that offer people something memorable. The Lensbury is a private members’ club set within 25 acres of landscaped grounds, which also has facilities for both business and leisure guests, including a 155-bedroom hotel, 42 meeting rooms, a spa, a premium leisure club with 22 tennis courts and a host of teambuilding events, ranging from Dragon Boat Racing, kayaking and various outdoor sports. In a unique riverside location, The Lensbury can offer everything from formal gala dinners in one of its elegant private dining rooms to relaxed barbecues in its grounds. Staying ahead of the curve, The Lensbury offers various Summer Pop up stalls, including

Street Food, Crepes made on a tricycle and Modern Mr Whippy ice cream served from a Black Cab. Weddings and Civil Ceremonies can enjoy floor to ceiling windows with views of the Lensbury gardens and River Thames. The Lensbury also regularly hosts international conferences that are staffed by expert event support and technical teams. The rooms have free Wi-Fi, video conferencing and all the latest equipment, perfect if you are looking for a meeting room to hire. As The Lensbury moves into its 100th year, new Managing Director Julie Hammond is looking forward to driving the business forward, building on the loyalty of their private members club and relationships with existing and new customers. According to Julie, it is crucial that the resort is a market leader, with an exceptional team, and most recently a major investment in the gym and studios with an extensive refurbishment and state of the art equipment. She said: “It is important to provide exceptional service in all areas to ensure members and guests have an excellent experience and want to return. “With an ever-competitive market, we aspire to offer good quality food and beverages


BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

using local ingredients with innovative menus provided by our new Head Chef Rob Kennedy. Ultimately, we want our guests to feel like it is home from home.” “We offer excellent facilities and a wide range of events, including themed dinners, weddings, sporting and corporate functions. “In addition to our own events, we like to work with the local community and promote Twickenham Rugby Stadium, Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and Chessington etc. “We are looking to run a series of events throughout 2020 to celebrate our centenary year. “The first event will be on the 23rd January and we are very excited to be hosting a sporting Q&A dinner with the former England rugby player Mike Tindall, MBE. We do have a few tickets available and these can be purchased directly from The Lensbury.”

“It is important to provide exceptional service in all areas to ensure members and guests have an excellent experience and want to return.” Julie Hammond, Managing Director The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


A UNIQUE VENUE ON YOUR DOORSTEP The Lensbury, located on the banks of the River Thames meetings & events | teambuilding | four star accommodation | | 020 8614 6500 Broom Road, Teddington TW11 9NU

chessington expo

Following the success of the first Chessington Business Expo on 2018, the event was held for a second time on 6th November 2019. The expo was officially opened by the Mayor of Kingston Cllr Margaret Thompson, Sir Ed Davey MP and Kingston Chamber President Dr Martha Mador. The event was sponsored by Kingston Council and HSBC, both long term supporters of the Business Expo’s organised by Kingston Chamber of Commerce.

Once again, it was held at Chessington School, which had proved to be such a great host venue the first time around. Holding the event at the school is a great opportunity to showcase the cutting edge facilities of this modern and forward thinking school to a wider audience as well as forge closer ties between the local community and businesses to encourage ongoing future collaborations and support. One attendee commented: “Having not attended Chessington School previously, I was slightly apprehensive about them holding the event. How wrong was I? The school looks amazing and I cannot fault it” The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

The event was attended by three teams from Kingston Council who were keen to engage with local businesses; The Economic Development team who wanted to hear views from businesses about support needs and barriers to growth, as well as discuss plans to deliver workspace and other on-going initiatives to protect and extend employment space. The Commissioning team attended to further a dialogue on wider involvement of local businesses in the Council’s supply chain process and how this can be made to work within a local context and Kingston Adult Education who used the event to highlight their corporate training offer for businesses. David Hamblin, HSBC’s Area Director for South London kicked off the expo by speaking at the pre-opening breakfast which was attended by over 100 local business representatives. David talked about why they continue to support local events such as the Kingston and Chessington Business Expos and how passionate HSBC are about projects that benefit the local community, highlighting how they

Chamber CEO, Forbes Low, Chamber President Dr Martha Mador, Mayor Cllr Margaret Thompson, Sir Ed Davey MP

are keen to support ambitious local businesses in London with a £2.1bn SME fund, which was launched in September 2019 to support small and medium-sized businesses. HSBC revealed new data showing nearly 72% of businesses have taken steps to prepare for Brexit and almost a fifth of internationally trading businesses have looked at opportunities to trade outside the EU after Brexit. This tied in neatly with the first seminar of the day by on Business Resilience: Practical Steps to Prepare for Brexit by well-known and recognised EU expert Sietske de Groot. Sietske’s session offered practical information and advice to help SMEs anticipate the coming changes and plan ahead. Changes that may cause disruption for business – but could equally mean unexpected opportunities. Kingston Chamber of Commerce facilitated a LinkedIn Live meet-up, with the aim to connect as many attendees as possible. Event organiser, Amanda McLoughlin said; “For many attendees, coming to an expo is all about making new connections. We have used the ‘Find Nearby’ feature of LinkedIn at other smaller events with great success and so thought

that the expo was the perfect environment to try it out on a larger scale. It’s a quick and easy way to grow your online network knowing that everyone you connect with is also a local business person interested in building their network too.” Guests also enjoyed participating in the ever-popular fast paced speed-networking sessions as well as learning about LinkedIn Ads from the team at Business Clan and PR Tips from Wow PR’s Sally Brockway. Over 40 exhibitors attended to showcase their products and services and with positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors, the event is sure to return for 2020.

Chessington Expo Speed Networking

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


health & wellbeing

New survey reveals that UK businesses could do more to reduce commuting stress A survey of 2,000 full-time workers by Moneybarn has revealed that nearly two thirds of the workforce aren’t offered any support from their employers to help ease the stress of long commutes. 28

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

not offered anything to help make commuting less stressful. The South West (65.25%), East Midlands (64.71%) and East of England (63.75%) also performed poorly. At the other end of the scale, two-thirds of workers (66.67%) in London are offered support to make commuting easier. Businesses in Northern Ireland are the second best overall, with 65.12% offering alternative options to staff. Flexible working is becoming an increasingly popular offering, allowing employees to stagger their start and finish times. However, only 21% of UK workers surveyed said they have been offered flexible working to help them avoid peak commuting hours. Research by the University of the West of England found that every extra minute spent commuting reduces job and leisure time satisfaction and increases stress.

However, employers in the London area have been singled out by the research team as doing the most to tackle the problem. According to respondents, the average working day in the UK is nearly 11 hours. The average time spent commuting per day is 62 minutes, with 15% commuting for 102 minutes or more.

The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

Excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems, according to the survey. Of the 2,000 UK employees surveyed, 1,136 (57%) said their employer doesn’t offer any support to ease the stress of commuting and help them achieve a healthy work-life balance. Workers in Wales are the least likely to receive any support from their employer, with 70%

Another important factor is the cost of getting to and from work. According to Moneybarn’s Global Commuting Index, an average monthly public transport pass in the UK is about £60, but in London, a zone 1-5 travelcard can cost much more. The UK also has some of the highest fuel costs in the world.

Only recently, a study revealed that 60% of workers in London have skipped work because they couldn’t afford the travel costs. Of those surveyed, full-time workers in London are the most likely to be offered financial support but the numbers remain low – 30% are given loans to pay for their season ticket upfront, 25% can work from home and 13% are offered subsidised transport. However, when looking at the UK as a whole, only 10.6% of employees are offered season ticket loans, 13.1% can work from home and just 5.7% can take advantage of subsidised transport. Catherine Diamond, Director of Human Resources at Moneybarn, said: “As employers it’s important to pay attention to the impact commuting is having on staff and take action to recognise this as part of health and wellbeing strategies.. “Offerings such as more flexible working arrangements to avoid rush hour, car share schemes and subsidised transport costs are becoming increasingly valued by workers and could help businesses attract and retain the best talent.”

“Of the 2,000 UK employees surveyed, 1,136 (57%) said their employer doesn’t offer any support to ease the stress of commuting and help them achieve a healthy work-life balance.”

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


a day in the life of ...

Flexibility that is crucial in a challenging economy Every business person faces up to challenging times in different ways and for Andrew Pollard the key is being as adaptable as possible to ensure that the work keeps coming in. Andrew is Managing Director of Bonsors, the oldest firm of chartered surveyors in Kingston, which can trace its history back to the late 19th Century and the growth of the town in Victorian times. Bonsors is a commercial property consultancy providing surveying expertise and property management services. Its commercial property agency services include the letting and sale of offices, warehouses, industrial, retail and medical/ educational premises. Since 2017, Andrew has run the business on his own and he begins his working day at 7.00 a.m. coming into the office to answer emails and deal with correspondence from clients, who come from across the area, everywhere from Kingston and Sutton to Putney and Sunbury. He said: “I am one of those people who believe that you need to be in the office because, if you are not, you could miss that call from someone who wants you to carry out work for them. If they do not get hold of you there is the danger that they will look elsewhere.

“I do not have a typical day. Yesterday, for example, I answered my emails first thing in the morning and dictated some letters for people who need advice on property that they own or occupy. “Then I headed out to carry out an inspection of a row of shops and offices for someone for inheritance tax (probate) purposes. “My final job of the morning was to inspect a MOT garage for another inheritance tax valuation. In the afternoon it was back to the office to deal with more emails. “I think the key to keeping the business going in challenging times like these is being flexible. “The property market is pretty much inert at the moment. One reason may be that we are coming to the end of a property cycle, as we are now 10 years past the last downturn in 2008-2009. Technology is also having an increasing effect on how we work and shop. That is making a big impact on the retail sector via internet shopping. “I don’t think Brexit is helping either nor has the prevarication from our politicians.

Sales, Lettings, Valuation, Management of Commercial Property across the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. 30

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community

People do not like uncertainty when it comes to making investments and my advice to some clients has been to wait until next year before putting their properties on the market. Hopefully by then the situation will be clearer following the General Election and Brexit. What we need is certainty. Uncertainty means more risk. “The result of all this is that the commercial property market has become more challenging, but we have been able to turn to other areas for our income, such as carrying out valuations, property management, rent reviews and dispute resolution work. “I think it helps that I have experience of previous difficult times. I’ve worked through two recessions one in the early 1990s and the second following the financial crash in 2008. “My working day tends to finish at about 5.30 to 6.00 p.m. By then it is time to go home.” You can find out more about the business at

top tips

Fast track to famous

Journalist and PR Sally Brockway reveals the secrets to getting your name in lights without breaking the bank. You’ve created an awesome business and now you want to start shouting about it, but how do you stand out when there is so much competition, so many other businesses vying for attention? With a good public relations strategy, which basically means getting journalists, editors and broadcasters to say nice things about your business for free.

Here are 5 top tips from Wow PR: 1. Do your research Who are your competitiors and what are they doing to get noticed? Have a trawl on Google and see if you can find any magazines, newspapers or online articles about them. Make a note of these publications/sites, because you are going to be approaching them and others that are similar. Study your competitors’ websites, follow them on social media and read any articles they post on LinkedIn. Make a note of any ideas that you like or can steal and/or improve upon. I’m not asking you to plagiarize

The Royal Borough of


Chamber of Commerce

anything, but remember, in the words of Mark Twain ‘There’s no such thing as a new idea.’

2. Find your story First, I am going to tell you a little bit of bad news. You know that brilliant business of yours that you’ve worked so hard to create? Journalists and editors don’t give a fig about it. They are on the hunt for stories and unless you offer them one, you and your offering are going straight in the trash. A story is a unique hook or angle. It’s tricky to explain, but go back to those articles I told you to research in tip 1 and look at the headlines and the first paragraph of the piece – that is the hook that the journalist used to create a story.

3. Reach your target audience You need to ensure that anything written or said about you, will be seen by your target customers. For example, if you sell sails, then you’ll want to be in a boating magazine. Niche and trade magazines are a good starting point as it will be easier to place stories in them than in a

national publication. And don’t overlook the local press – they may look more favourably on your story because you live in their catchment area. If they print your story there is also a chance it could get picked up by other publications, TV and/or radio.

4. Look out for journalist alerts There are hundreds of journalists out there looking to speak to business owners. They use the hashtag #JournoRequest and if you go onto Twitter and search, you’ll see all the requests that have been made. If you find any that are relevant to you, respond using the Twitter handle provided. Keep your pitch short and sweet, include a low res headshot if you have one and a link to your website.

5. Write a killer press release Once you’ve found your story, worked out where you’d like to see it placed and have got hold of an e-mail address for the relevant journalist, you’ll need to send them a press release. You are not writing War And Peace and there are no prizes for prose. Stick to the facts. Give then a punchy headline and write a few paragraphs explaining why they should feature you. Why is your story unique? What do you do? Where can they find it? How much does it cost? etc. Include some low-res photos, plus a link to some high-res photos. And finally, make sure your e-mail subject heading is relevant and eyecatching.

“You need to ensure that anything written or said about you, will be seen by your target customers. Niche and trade magazines are a good starting point as it will be easier to place stories in them than in a national publication.”

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


If you like an offer, we have the perfect one for you use code Business20 to get 20% Off flexible room rates from 1st Jan until 31st March Phone 020 8977 1786 email Code not valid for rooms on Twickenham home games

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We have the perfect place for a meeting, relaxing lunch or formal dinner give us a call 020 8977 1786 or email to make a booking. We are the best kept secret in Hampton Wick with free parking for guests and electric car charging point 1 High Street, Hampton Wick, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 4DA

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Instagram whitehart_hotel

news Dan takes top prize at Kingston’s glittering 2019 Gala Awards Dinner Pangea Connected was named Kingston’s ‘Business of the Year’ in the Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2019 in association with Willmott Dixon. The announcement was made at the Awards’ Gala Dinner at Raven’s Ait and came after Pangea, which creates global IoT (Internet of Things) solutions across industries, won ‘Best Small Business’ and its founder Dan Cunliffe was named ‘Business Entrepreneur of the Year’ earlier in the evening. Dan said: “What an achievement. If I could just thank my co-founder Chris Romeika and my other director, Bernie McPhillips; those guys have been great.” Winners for the 2019 awards - which attracted a record number of entries - also included The White House Nursing Home, Spark Joy London, Fortunella Limited, CreateLondon Media, and Holland Hahn & Wills. Genuine Solutions triumphed in three categories. Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness won ‘Best Charity or Social Enterprise’ while 7000 Jars of Beer was voted by the public as the winner of ‘Love Your Local Retailer’. The awards were founded and organised by partners Kingston Council, Kingston Chamber of Commerce and Kingston First. Two hundred and seventy guests attended the gala evening which was hosted by television presenter Michael Underwood and included a charity raffle. Councillor Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council, said: “Congratulations to all of the 2019 Business Awards winners and many thanks to the partners and sponsors for making the awards happen.” The Awards would not possible without sponsors CNM Estates, Kingston University, Kingston College, The HR Dept and McDonalds. Supporters include

IQinIT, Insight6, Kingston Burrowes Accountants, DoubleTree by Hilton and media partner Time & Leisure. Headline sponsor was Willmott Dixon, who are currently finishing work on Kingston University’s new, landmark Town House building. Willmott Dixon’s New Business manager, Stephen Parker, said: “It is an absolute pleasure to be part of this event for the second year in a row and we were delighted to part of this judging process.” Kirsten Henly, Chief Executive of Kingston First, said: “The awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the breadth and strength of the Kingston business community and demonstrates the diversity and exceptional standards we have across all business sectors.” Forbes Low, Chief Executive, Kingston Chamber of Commerce, said: “Business growth, investment and recognition is vital to the Kingston borough. The Chamber of Commerce is proud of the business energy, commitment and diversity that is here. It is so important to make Kingston a place to work, not just live.”

This was in recognition of ‘business growth, effective risk management and excellent HR practices’. Sandra’s colleague Kirsty Hammatt also won the Rising Star of the Year award. Sandra nominated Kirsty for her extremely hard work, fantastic customer service and pushing the bounds of her comfort zone every day.

The event was HR Dept’s National Conference. HR Dept is the fastest growing HR consultancy in the country with more than 70 Licensees. Sandra is the Managing Director for the Elmbridge, Kingston and Surbiton territory. She said; “I was awarded the Licensee of the Year by our Insurers Straight Solutions for “business growth, effective risk management and excellent HR practices”. In our current environment where there has been a 168% increase in tribunal applications, largely against SMEs, effective risk management is crucial to protect

CEM Bookkeeping & Consultancy Services Ltd has won the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers’ Luca Award for Small Practice of the Year 2019. The award is recognition for the work of both Certified Bookkeeper


Chamber of Commerce

The aim is to help young people bridge the gap between computer science as a GCSE subject and the application of a computer science degree in industry. To make things interesting, the team devised a competition. The group of sixteen Hinchley Wood School students was split into four teams of four. Each team was tasked with building a website about a particular type of baked yumyums. The websites will inform visitors how to get the best bakery products in the Hinchley Wood area. The task goes beyond just website building and into the realms of search engine optimisation. The aim is to get their websites to rank in search

small businesses from potential debilitating tribunal proceedings and settlements. “After three years in business, being given an award for effective risk management and excellent HR practices is one of the biggest compliments that we could have received.”

Accolade for business

The Royal Borough of

The Dotwise team has been working with local schoolchildren, delivering workshops in digital marketing including website building and SEO (search engine optimisation).

goods, including pasties, pretzels, muffins and

Accolades for duo Sandra Porter, from Chamber member HR Dept, was awarded the Licensee of the Year at the HR Dept Conference by its insurers Straight Solutions.

DOTWISE helps pupils learn web design and SEO

Clare Mannall and the business generally.Clare said: “None of this would have been possible without my clients. So many of them took the time to write testimonials for the nomination and I couldn’t have won without those.”

engines. Students also learn how to use images with the correct attribution and about respecting copyright and legal restrictions. Any local business willing to link to the websites and share them with their audience, will support the work that the Year 9 pupils have done. You can find out more at • • • •

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community


starting up

Changing lives for the better Katrina Hassan Spark Joy London Instagram: @spark_joy_london Q1 Tell us a bit about your business? I am a professional organiser and Certified KonMari Consultant. Through my role, I guide clients on how to declutter, tidy and organise their homes to prevent them from relapsing into clutter ever again. I support clients on a one-to-one basis in their homes, a range of corporate clients through delivering workshops on wellbeing, productivity and organisation and I work with the media to promote the benefits of KonMari philosophy.

our home environment in preparation for a home birth. We used the KonMari Method to create our home sanctuary, but what we didn’t anticipate was the change of mindset which came with it. It gave me the confidence to give up my teaching career (which no longer sparked joy!) and train with Marie Kondo to become a consultant. Now I am honoured to support my clients in going through their own tidying journeys, and overjoyed to witness how their lives change for the better.

Q2 What gives your business ‘the x-factor’?

Q4 What do you like most about working for a start-up?

I am currently one of just over 300 consultants worldwide trained by Marie Kondo. As a qualified teacher, I am able to break down the KonMari Method and tailor it successfully to support the specific needs of clients I work with. With my extensive knowledge in public speaking, I am confident promoting the life-changing philosophy of Marie Kondo in workshops and in the media. I have appeared on The One Show and presented at the Ideal Home Show. Q3 What motivated you to set up in business?

I am my own boss and I set my own schedule, meaning I can structure my working hours to spend more time with my children. I do have to answer to anyone and I am free to explore exciting opportunities to continue to grow my business.

I was a teacher in an Outstanding school working 60+ hours a week and when I had children, I realised my previous commitment to work would not be sustainable moving forward. After an incredible trip to Japan in 2015 and discovering we were pregnant with our first child, we wanted to transform


Q5 What has been your greatest business success to date? Winning Best New Business 2019 at the Kingston Business Excellence Awards had definitely been the icing on the cake since launching my business in August 2018!

Q6 What has been your lowest moment? In all honesty, there have been no low moments so far. I have balanced launching my business with looking after two toddlers. I am sure some readers will appreciate that running a business in this busy parenting time has been a welcome distraction! Q7 In terms of business achievements, where do you want to be within the next 5 years? My biggest goal is to launch a virtual tidying package so I can support clients all over the world with their tidying journeys. All of my short-term goals within the next five years centre around making this dream a reality. Q8 What would be your top tip to someone thinking of starting up their own business? Research, network and most importantly, follow your intuition. Giving up my teaching career was a big risk for my family and I, but I knew deep down that if I gave it my all, I would make it a success. Dedication is everything, but only if you are truly passionate about the path you choose to follow.

‘Winning Best New Business 2019 at the Kingston Business Excellence Awards had definitely been the icing on the cake since launching my business in August 2018!’

BOROUGH BUSINESS - The voice of Kingston’s business community




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Mercedes-Benz World.


Offers at

DDR from £45 per person.

DDR and Drive from £65 per person.

Our Day Delegate Rate offers include the hire of one of our stylish meeting rooms, a freshly prepared buffet lunch and three refreshment breaks throughout the day.

Experience the thrill of a high performance Mercedes-Benz driven by one of our Pro Drivers. Price includes the hire of a meeting room, buffet lunch and three refreshments breaks.

Track or 4x4 Experience from £99 per person.

Team lunch and passenger rides from £50.00 per person.

Add one of our AMG or 4x4 Driving Experiences to your next meeting or event. With three guests per car, each guest spends 20 minutes driving and 40 minutes as a passenger.

Enjoy a freshly prepared 3 course 'power lunch' in our stylish restaurant with views over the track, and a thrilling 15 minute Hot Lap or Mud Lap for every member of your team.

Book or find out more at email or call 01932 373 707 All prices exclude VAT. Minimum of 8 guests. Subject to availability. Event to take place by 30 April 2020. Offer applicable to direct non commissionable bookings only.

Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0SL. Tel: 01932 373 707 Email: Visit:

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