Business Connexions January 2021

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Official Magazine for Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce | Issue 12 | January 2021

Inside • Big Interview with LESLEY ANDREW Signature Senior Lifestyle. The challenge of opening the Ritz in the Blitz. Page 14

• Patron Focus

PAUL MITCHELL owner of Le Bureau on helping firms navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic by offering an alternative to the traditional office environment. Page 17

• The Person Behind the Business Next Step Estates Page 31

• 5 Minutes with... ALED RICHARDSJONES Councillor on Wandsworth Borough Council. Page 34

The Rise of Home Working Friend or Foe? Page 4

A second open letter to chamber members, from me, Martin Pocock Dear Members,

It is Martin here, owner of Pocock’s Chartered Accountants and Insolvency Advisors. Following my first letter to you (see last Edition, No. 11 September 2020), I have a better sense of where our businesses are and where the economy is putting us. I believe we are now in a calm-before-the-storm phase. Government support has been useful but will peter out. The virus and government reaction to viruses are here to stay and we will have to learn to live with them. So, many businesses will be permanently altered, some for the bad and some for the good. Those of you who have been affected will have already reassessed your assumptions and made forecasts and if you believed necessary, taken professional advice, likely from your accountant. You probably now have business plans for various scenarios and financial forecasts. I trust you have made allowances for paying back any loans and any amounts owing to HMRC which you have deferred. A business has not survived a crisis if it cannot pay back its bounce-back loans, its debts to HMRC and any other accrued liabilities. Also, be sure the business can be funded, from current reserves, for any new stock or work in progress required. Be very wary if you have to inject personal funds into the business or seek additional funding that may require a personal guarantee. Further, ensure you have a plan to be repaid by the business and that this is after you have taken an income from the business that is sufficient to cover your personal expenditure. Growth, return to growth and return to normal business always use up cash in the short term and this includes paying off liabilities. The key point I want to make is

My background

For those of you who do not already know me from the regular chamber meetings, I have spent the last 30 plus years doing this king of work. I qualified as a chartered accountant with PWC and then worked in Australia for several years. I then chose to specialise in distressed situations and am very aware of the

do not convert unsecured business liabilities into secured personal liabilities. This is very important if you have equity in your family home.

• Extending a loan on a credit card or getting an additional one

I want you to know that you can liquidate your business and start again if you need or wish to. Your forecasts might show that the business cannot provide the standard of living you desire as the business has historic liabilities. Some of you will decide to carry on regardless. Others will be interested in liquidating and starting again or starting another business.

• Not repairing the car

Those who carry on regardless might find themselves funding the business via a less than perceptible creeping reduction in the standard of their private lives. I want to warn you against funding a struggling business from your and your family’s personal assets. This is common and once the pattern is set, a chain of events and circumstances can ensue until the business collapses and brings you and your family down with it. It should be obvious if your income from the business is not covering your family’s outgoings, but this is very easy to ignore. The consequences of this one decision to ignore these two numbers namely income versus expenditure usually involve some of the following. Each can be justified at the time but over time they add up until you find you cannot make the requisite minimum monthly repayments.

pitfalls and challenges which do not occur in the normal course of business. This is a specialised area with very few true specialists! It is akin to sailing along a rocky coastline at night in a storm compared to crossing an ocean. I know where the rocks are and how to steer you round them.

• Accepting some parental support to ease your personal cashflow • Not spending some money on the leaky house roof • Your partner has to find additional work • Trimming or cancelling the family holiday • Difficulty in paying school fees If a business does not provide for the standard of living you and your family desire, then you must surely ask yourself why you are doing it. It is easy to believe there are no other options. There are always options. For example, many people go to work for someone else after liquidating their business and find it a welcome relief! It is entirely normal and legal to place a company into a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, at any time and then start or do something new. If you, and your board do not understand this option and would like to explore this, then please get in touch. My aim here is to protect you, your personal assets and your income going forward. At this early stage I don’t charge. Give me a call. Stay safe and keep well.


I have plenty of testimonials which I can share with you and former clients who you can call should you wish to. I do not think its right to note them here in this very public setting. So, give me a call or catch me on the weekly chamber meeting calls.

In formal language, I specialise in all aspects of corporate finance and insolvency including • Liquidations • Administrations • Creditors Voluntary Liquidations • Company Voluntary Arrangements • • High court winding up petitions • HMRC Time To Pay agreements •


Call 07801 178 848

Pococks Chartered Accountants and Insolvency Advisors


Welcome to the latest Edition of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce Magazine WELCOME to Business ConneXions, as you receive this issue, Christmas will have just passed and as we enter the New Year, on behalf of the board of Wandsworth Chamber, may I extend the warmest season’s greetings to all our readers, members, sponsors and key stakeholders – Hoping you all had a very peaceful Christmas and wishing you all a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. 2020 - What a year that was!!! – As we entered this new decade, with hopes held high, the world was suddenly struck by a Pandemic like no other in recent history. Globally, almost everyone has been affected with either the loss of loved ones, personal, financial or business hardships, mental anguish, anxiety and stress. In some cases, all of these. Whilst there may not be enough words to express all the sorrow and suffering people have experienced, there is hope - we have come together diversely, from nations to local groups to help and support one another,

Inside Jan 2021 4-5

The Changing Working Environment







We have learned new ways to communicate, new ways to do business, new ways of working and most importantly we have learned the importance of community - long may this learning endure. As businesses continue to reel from COVID-19 and as we are confounded and confused by Brexit, Wandsworth Chamber will continue to be here and help wherever and whenever we can. During this year, we forged stronger links with London’s Local Chambers and the London Chamber of Commerce International. Through regular chamber to chamber forums we are now better able to directly feedback local business concerns to Government and the Mayor’s Office, ensuring that your voice is heard. Collectively we have shared best practise and helped many thousands of businesses through online business forums, webinars, networking and general support. We are very proud that Wandsworth Chamber led the way with weekly Zoom Coronavirus Business Forums and that Wandsworth Council were one of the first councils to participate

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online and we congratulate them for their willingness to be open, share information and listen to the concerns of our business people. So much has happened in the past nine months and we would like to thank all our Members who have stayed with us, to our Patron Members who have supported our work and to the new Members who have joined during these trying times. If you know a business who is not a member, why not ask them to join Wandsworth Chamber and help to create a better business environment. We continue to urge everyone to actively promote and support a Buy Local, Shop Local, Help Local way of living. With over 300,000 residents and in excess of 18,000 businesses in our borough, we have a great opportunity to really make a difference and hasten recovery. Stay safe and well.

Steve Pinto CEO Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce

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Patron Focus



Health & Wellbeing The Person Behind the Business

Chamber Events Starting Up

5 Minutes with...

Scan the QR code with your phone camera to see our events and get them in your calendar app.

Publisher Benham Publishing Limited, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ t: 0151 236 4141 e: w: Published January 2021 © Benham Publishing Editor Jez Davison e: Advertising and Features Karen Hall e: t: 0151 236 4141

14-15 Big Interview


Enquiries Studio F8 (Le Bureau) Battersea Studios 80 Silverthorne Road London SW8 3HE t: 020 3633 6575 e: w:


Studio Mark Etherington e: Media No.1721 Disclaimer Business Connexions is mailed without charge to all Chamber members and distributed to businesses in the Borough. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in publication are not necessarily those of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of the Editor. © 2021. 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.

Our Patron Members

Business Connexions | 3


In truth, remote and flexible working had become more common by the time COVID-19 hit UK shores, with technology allowing more people to work from home or on the move. COVID-19 has merely reinforced the message that, in many cases, it’s possible for people to carry out their day jobs remotely. However, this is not necessarily a good thing; several reports have highlighted workers’ increased anxiety and isolation due to being away from the office environment. Other studies have reported an erosion in the divide between work and home life, with some workers feeling unable to switch off from work to enjoy time with their families. Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, has studied the impact of COVID-19 on the way people work in the UK, and considers what this might mean for people’s wellbeing and the health of the economy. His analysis considers a range of issues, including the effects of home-working on productivity and output, creativity and relationships, wellbeing and happiness.


FRIEND OR FOE? Almost twenty years ago, comedian, actor and writer

Ricky Gervais rose to fame in the BBC’s hit mockumentary sitcom, The Office. It followed the lives of ordinary workers in a branch of a large paper company, Wernham Hogg, in the Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire. Now, however, the viability of the physical office has been called into question by the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen thousands of workers across Wandsworth work from the confines of their own home. 4 | Business Connexions

The conclusions of the report are striking. It found that, in general, homeworking has led to increased workplace happiness and a greater sense of workplace empowerment, although there has been no discernible rise in workplace productivity and output. However, the isolation of being away from the office appears to have resulted in a loss of creativity that tends to be gained from those chance, five-minute conversations or informal meets in the workplace. The home-working trend, which has been fast-tracked by COVID, therefore seems to be a double-edged sword, as Andy Haldane alludes to in the report: “COVID has re-shaped our working lives, our economic contributions and our well-being, certainly in the short-term but probably in the longer-term too. Whether this change is for the better is one of the key questions of our time, as workers, businesses, policymakers and citizens. “The evidence so far on these issues cannot at this stage be more than illustrative. There is a balance to be struck between events which distract and events which fire the imagination. For me, the 0-5 model of home-working strikes this balance in the wrong place, as with hindsight did my pre-pandemic 5-0 model [of working full-time in the office].” So, is home-working here to stay or will companies adapt the office model to include more co-working and flexible renting of office space?


There is definitely some mileage in the latter argument, according to Paul Mitchell of Le Bureau, a boutique co-working space that provides 220 desks for more than 90 small businesses in Battersea Studios. He says: “The traditional 9-5 model has gone now. Since March companies have discovered that they don’t need to be located in large, expensive offices, where they are saddled with a long-term lease and their staff may have a long daily commute. “Home-working has benefited many people but it’s not for everybody. There are many others who miss the camaraderie and interaction with colleagues, both on a personal and professional level. This indicates that some level of interaction is needed, even if it’s on an irregular basis. “That’s why I believe that more companies will take up the option of flexible co-working space. It allows people to meet on an ad-hoc basis for client meetings or to share ideas with colleagues. From the company’s point of view, it’s far less expensive to pay a one-off, flat low-cost charge per desk than worry about burdensome leases and deposits on a permanent office. “Effectively, co-working can offer a complete solution or a partial solution depending on the company’s requirements.” Regardless of the working practices that companies and individuals choose to adopt, the key is to ensure that productivity and creativity levels among the workforce remain high. Mark Simmonds has been working in the creativity and innovation field for more than 20 years and says there are several things that workers could do to boost their creativity, even if they’re working alone. He says: “I establish a rigorous timetable for every working day of the week. This includes a careful balance of work and play, punctuated with little treats and

luxuries to reward myself every few hours. I also migrate throughout the house at different times of the day to maintain energy levels. I’m in my home office between 9am and 11am, just after lunch and between 4pm and 6pm, and I’ve made this space my paradise rather my prison. I’m in Starbucks – or our kitchen – mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a coffee and chat, I have a 30-minute nap at 3pm on the sofa and I take regular forays outside to breathe in the fresh air deeply.” Working in isolation has also forced Mark to re-evaluate his business model, to search for new ways of meeting his clients’ needs. He’s also embracing the virtual space to keep in touch with clients and other business contacts via Zoom and other platforms.

He says: “Some of these measures I’ve adopted have enabled me to maintain my productivity and preserve my sanity. In turn, this helps me to be more creative, which benefits both my business and my clients’ businesses.” After an early career in brand management at Unilever, Mark co-founded major global training and development provider Brand Learning in 2000 and Creative Creatures in 2008. He’s currently the founder of GENIUS YOU, a company that helps teams develop winning ideas and strengthen their creative muscles. He is also the author of Breakdown and Repair, a new book that offers an honest account of his struggles with mental health.

“In general, home-working has led to increased workplace happiness and a greater sense of workplace empowerment, although there has been no discernible rise in workplace productivity and output. However, the isolation of being away from the office appears to have resulted in a loss of creativity that tends to be gained from those chance, five-minute conversations or informal meets in the workplace.” Business Connexions | 5


What next for pay and benefits? David Mellard Chartered MCIPD Director

Work looks different in 2020, these are some of the differences.

Location of work Employers were often reluctant to allow remote working, COVID has forced the issue and the effectiveness of working arrangements as well as the wellbeing of individuals has been much discussed. Surveys show that most people would choose a combination of a shared workspace and homeworking to varying degrees, often based on the home and work environments and ease and cost of travel between the two as well as the level of risk aversion to COVID. Providing a workplace is expensive and costs can be reduced by introducing hotdesking, rotating attendance and only requiring people to be physically present when the work demands. Moving your team to flexible/scalable shared workspace could save you considerable sums.

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A regular check in with employees to find out how they are really doing, beyond the cursory ‘how are you?’ at the start of a zoom call is essential in understanding the effect of location on the wellbeing of your team. Bedrock have carried out many telephone interviews for clients, to understand how their employees are doing, this has informed decisions about location of work.

Pay and benefits

Changes to pay usually require agreement, however pay levels can be part of a wider discussion on working arrangements and agreement sought on changes. This may be needed to sustain the organisation or save jobs. A large saving on travel when working remotely will sometimes be achieved by employees, even with additional costs for heat, light, new equipment and furniture taken into account. Is there an opportunity for employer and employee to share the savings?

Bedrock HR have advised widely on reviewing pay arrangements this year, and win win solutions have been found.

Engagement A good pay level used to be enough for most people to stay with an employer. Now lifestyle, flexibility and engagement are also important when deciding whether to leave or stay. Good employers value contribution more than length of service but there is a risk that employer and employee can see work through a transactional short-term lens. Good engagement moves beyond the transactional and creates loyalty on both sides. A culture can be created where employees

and managers understand and recognise effective contribution, how feedback will be given and how contribution will be rewarded. Multiple surveys indicate culture is the key to engagement. To be engaged people need to see the value that their work is adding to the organisation, to see that they are progressing in the range of work available, to receive feedback and have a voice. A culture where people feel both challenged, valued and recognised will improve retention. Bedrock has helped to dramatically increase engagement by designing engagement programmes and asking how employees want to be communicated with.

We would love to talk about these issues with you so please get in touch to claim a FREE 20 minute consultation by visiting our website or email M: 07887 800 215


Wandsworth firms to benefit from furlough extension

Businesses and workers across the borough of Wandsworth have been handed further financial support amid a tightening of coronavirus restrictions across the UK – including a four-week lockdown imposed in England. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary up to £2,500 per month. Similarly, support for millions more workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500. At the same time, the government has raised guaranteed funding for the UK’s devolved administrations from £14 billion to £16 billion. However, many people remain ineligible for the financial schemes, including the newly self-employed, limited company directors who pay themselves in dividends, some freelancers and sole traders whose trading profits top £50,000. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK – and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed. “It’s clear the economic effects are much longer-lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

“Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.” British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the measures would be a welcome boost for businesses but warned that more help should be given to those who had been excluded from the schemes. BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “A further extension of the furlough scheme and more generous grants for the self-employed are important steps in protecting jobs and providing certainty for our business communities beyond the immediate shock of a four-week lockdown. “These changes give businesses significant reassurance over an uncertain winter, but many will understandably still wish for the government to give a clearer view of the road ahead. Government must set out longer-term measures over the next 12 months to give firms greater certainty and confidence to plan proactively,

rather than to react to changes in support from week to week. “As well as support on jobs, reduced demand will impact firms’ cashflow across the country, not just those placed under the toughest restrictions. More generous grants will be required if those businesses are to weather a difficult winter ahead. “Despite the chancellor’s announcement, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic. They will require support if we are to avoid significant increases in unemployment and business failures. “Ultimately, there can be no substitute for a fully functioning economy. Fundamentally, that means the government using the time afforded to them through another lockdown to significantly improve the test, track and isolate system, which remains key to keeping the economy open.”

“As well as support on jobs, reduced demand will impact firms’ cashflow across the country, not just those placed under the toughest restrictions. More generous grants will be required if those businesses are to weather a difficult winter ahead.” Business Connexions | 7


Alton Estate masterplan approved A once-in-a-generation masterplan to regenerate part of Wandsworth’s Alton Estate has been given the green light by planners.

The transformational mixed-use regeneration scheme will deliver more than 1,100 new homes including 261 council homes. The development will be phased to ensure residents can move straight into their new homes on the estate, if that is their choice. The proposals will also deliver new community facilities including a new library, youth centre, community hall, GPs surgeries, children’s nursery and children’s centre together with new shops and business space. The plans were approved by Wandsworth Council’s planning applications committee. The decision had near unanimous support – with only one vote against – and the final decision on the scheme now rests with the Mayor of London. Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “Wandsworth Council is absolutely committed to the regeneration of Alton Estate and this is a significant milestone for what is an important scheme. This regeneration has always been about more than just bricks and mortar. “Whilst this scheme will transform the lives of those that move into new homes, the wider community will benefit from the new jobs and training opportunities as well as access to better community facilities and open spaces that will ensure the Alton remains a place that people are proud to call home.” The council recently took over the planning application following the departure of its former development partner, Redrow Homes. A decision on the route to find a new developer is expected before the end of the year, with the procurement process commencing in early 2021.

BRITISH FOOD FORTNIGHT celebrated at New Covent Garden Market New Covent Garden Market celebrated British Food Fortnight during September and October, promoting fresh British produce through collaborations with businesses at Old Covent Garden Market (the market’s original home).

produce and the wonderful series of growers who supply them. In addition, wholesalers teamed up with restaurants at old Covent Garden to offer special menus created with fresh produce from New Covent Garden Market. (Image by Tom Moggach Photographer)

Highlighting amazing British suppliers, the campaign on New Covent Garden Market’s website and social channels included daily posts interviewing wholesalers at the historic Fruit and Vegetable Market on Nine Elms Lane. Business owners explained why they are passionate about British

Mission Kitchen taking shape at New Covent Garden Market’s Food Exchange Construction of a unique shared kitchen and co-working space for London’s small food businesses is underway at New Covent Garden Market. Called Mission Kitchen, the 18,000 sq. ft production-standard kitchen will be somewhere affordable for start-up businesses to make

amazing food with all the tools and equipment they need. Construction is due to finish during February 2021, with an opening date of mid-2021. Mission Kitchen will include a café and bar, with an ever-expanding seasonal menu. To register interest, please email Richard McAuley (

Award for Wandsworth’s ONLINE ARTS FRINGE

The Wandsworth Arts Fringe has won an award that celebrates theatre companies and festivals that have successfully flourished through the lockdown. The OneOff awards from recognise the achievements of independent and fringe theatre organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wandsworth Arts Fringe (WAF) In Your Living Room was one of five online festivals, including the BBC’s Lockdown Theatre, to receive an award for festivals that have either emerged during lockdown or have been adapted to entertain audiences online. Each May WAF is a highlight of the borough’s cultural calendar and this year hundreds of local and international artists were due to present 150 events.

As lockdown loomed Wandsworth Council’s arts team, which runs WAF, managed in just four weeks to convert it into an online festival and www.wandsworthartsfringe. com hosted an extensive and eclectic programme of 104 events from 250 artists. The events encompassed theatre, online murder mystery games, events for children, visual arts, music concerts, dance, sketching lessons, workshops and classes, and even an opera and a sword initiation workshop. For families without digital access, activity packs were distributed to more than 2,000 local families in Roehampton, Earlsfield, Battersea

and Nine Elms. Over a period of 17 days in May, more than 30,000 people from all over the world enjoyed the programme. Pawel Siwczak of Bach Club said: “I felt really exceptionally well looked after. Being able to still be part of this festival when everything else around seemed to have come to a standstill was uplifting, providing a sense of purpose and energy. It was wonderful to be among such a great community in challenging times.” Many of the events are still available to enjoy at

FUNDING BOOST to create more than 900 new homes The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to fund the creation of 903 new longer-term homes for homeless Londoners, ready to be occupied by spring next year. The mayor is using a £93.4m grant from government to provide accommodation and support for people currently living in hotels, hostels or other supported housing. Since the grant was announced in July, City Hall’s rough sleeping team have been inundated with bids from charities, boroughs and housing providers to deliver homes and provide support. A total of 38 projects across

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London have now been selected to receive funding, including a £5m contribution to Resonance’s new £15m social impact investment property fund, delivering 50 homes across London for rough sleepers. Resonance will work in partnership with social justice charity Nacro. The projects will begin work as soon as possible, with the aim that more than 900 people will be helped to move into the new homes by March 31, 2021. Many are likely

to be rough sleepers who City Hall and boroughs are safely accommodating in hotels to protect them from the risk of COVID-19

Sadiq Khan said: “A secure, longterm home should be a basic right for every Londoner, but a decade of austerity and the economic crisis created by the pandemic means far too many people have found themselves on the street or in temporary accommodation.

“My teams and their charity partners are working around the clock to help the most vulnerable people to work towards a life off the street – but this is only possible if there is highquality, affordable accommodation available at the end of their journey. The projects I’m supporting will create the homes our fellow Londoners deserve and ensure they have access to the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

COUNCIL INVESTS £13M in new Nine Elms NHS health centre



A new health centre for Nine Elms has been given the green light thanks to a funding agreement between Wandsworth Council and NHS Property Services. The new health centre on Sleaford Street will include a GP practice as well as communal areas for health and wellbeing activities and is estimated to open in winter 2023. It is being built within Phase 4a of the Battersea Power Station £9bn regeneration project. Wandsworth Council’s £12.99m investment will fund the purchase of the lease, design and fitout of the NHS health centre. The new facilities are central to plans that ensure all local residents will have the health provision they need as the area continues to develop and the number of people living in the area grows.

By 2030, the population of the Nine Elms Vauxhall regeneration zone is estimated to reach 33,000 people. Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “This is real and tangible progress on our promise to deliver improved access to healthcare for our established and new resident communities in Nine Elms. “These state-of-the-art health facilities are part of a whole new network of social and transport infrastructure for the area, which includes parks, community and cultural spaces and two new tube stations delivered without major taxpayer subsidy.”

The council is using financial contributions from local developments to invest in the new health centre as part of a package of improvements to local transport connections, parks, and community, school and health facilities. Dr Nicola Jones, clinical vice chair of South West London Clinical Commissioning Group (SWLCCG) and GP borough lead for Wandsworth, said: “Securing this funding is great news for local patients, NHS staff and the wider public in Wandsworth. It is an important step towards our aim of providing a modern, purpose-built health centre for local people.”

BALHAM STATION set for £2.6m revamp Balham Station is to undergo a £2.6m revamp, it has been announced. Work is scheduled to begin on an investment scheme designed to smarten up the station platforms, provide better weather protection and improve passenger experience. The project is expected to be completed by next spring. Network Rail recently outlined details of the improvements, which include: • better platform canopies with new sheeting installed • improved canopy gutters, utilising a new galvanised steel system • platform tactile paving to be replaced and upgraded • a new and improved platform surface drainage system

Despite a shortage of PPE during the first lockdown, through their supply network were able to turn their hand to producing facemasks, hand gels, floor markers and other PPE items for their clients many of whom operate around Wandsworth.

• existing station drainage system replaced with an updated version Paul Harwood, regional investment director for Network Rail, said: “The project at Balham station will bring a range of benefits to passengers and improve their travel experience. Station users can expect to see these works completed early next year, and they will also include vegetation clearance from the surrounding area and station cleaning. “These improvements will ensure we can continue to provide a railway that meets the needs of passengers well into the future.” The works will involve some overnight closures of Balham

Station Road to allow for the arrival and departure of heavy machinery such as cranes. The council’s highways engineers will be working closely with Network Rail and other agencies to ensure travel disruption is kept to a minimum. Cllr John Locker, Wandsworth Council’s transport spokesman, said: This is good news for passengers, who will be offered greater protection from the elements and won’t have to stand around in puddles waiting for trains. “We welcome all measures that improve the experience of passengers, especially at a busy interchange like Balham.”

BrandKube Ltd a supplier of branded merchandise and VR experiences has turned its hand to branded PPE over the last few months Martin Adams, BrandKube’s Director said. “When our clients needed it we were able to swiftly adapt and make sure they had PPE to enable them to keep operating where possible. With masks mandatory across many public places it is also very cost effective to advertise onto branded PPE.

Whether you are part of a large organisation or work from an office at home, there are many good reasons for joining the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce. As the business hub of Wandsworth, your Chamber is influential in helping to create the right business environment for local companies to flourish. Through membership you have the ability to use our “business voice”, the opportunity to meet key stakeholders, network and do business with many other local businesses that you won’t find anywhere else. So, do it now, online, and start enjoying the many benefits on offer.

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

020 3633 6575

BrandKube are particularly proud that they have been able to help so many clients in the struggling charity sector with their ongoing commitment to always offer 10% discount across all their services to charities and social enterprises”

Business Connexions | 9


Frontier Worker Permits and cross-border working post-Brexit

Many businesses have employees who work for their company in the UK but who are primarily resident in another EU country. Once the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020, EU free movement laws that have facilitated these sorts of crossborder working arrangements will come to an end and a new UK skills-based immigration system will come into effect. For businesses that wish to continue to engage EU employees to work in the UK some or all of the time after 31 December, the new Frontier Worker Permit could be the answer.

Who is a frontier worker? For these purposes, a frontier worker is: • an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen; • who is employed or selfemployed in the UK but who lives elsewhere; and • who began working in the UK before 31 December 2020. For example, a Belgian employee from your office in Brussels who works in the UK one week per month but who is well established in Belgium, whose role is based in Brussels, and whose family and friends are also in Belgium. Please note that Irish citizens will not need to do anything in order to continue to work in the UK from 1 January 2021 and will not, therefore, need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit.

What is a Frontier Worker Permit? A Frontier Worker Permit will allow the holder to enter the UK in order to work. It will be valid for five years for workers and two years for people who are selfemployed and can be renewed.

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Application and key dates The new scheme is due to launch imminently on 10 December 2020 and frontier workers will be able to apply online from inside or outside the UK. Applications will be free, employers will not need to have a sponsorship licence, and there will not be any qualifying criteria relating to skills or salary. There is no deadline for making an application but frontier workers will need a valid permit in order to enter the UK for work from 1 July 2021 onwards. As noted above, only individuals who were engaged to work in the UK before 31 December 2020 will qualify for the new frontier worker permit.

What about EU workers recruited after 31 December 2020? From 1 January 2021, the current system of recruiting non-EU nationals will be extended to include EU nationals. If businesses wish to employ EU workers from abroad to work for their organisation in the UK, they will need to sponsor them (unless the EU worker has already secured status under the EU Settlement Scheme). In order to sponsor EU workers, a business must first obtain a sponsor licence, if they do not have one already.

Once a business is granted a sponsor licence they will be listed under the Register of Sponsors. The number of licenced sponsors has significantly increased in the last 5 years as more businesses have discovered the invaluable benefits. A sponsor licence allows businesses to gain access to a global pool of talent and have the ability to find the best talent to fit their business. When applying for a sponsor licence, a business will need to specify which tier or tiers they are applying for: I. Skilled Worker The Skilled Workers route was previously known as the Tier 2 (General) route. It allows businesses to recruit migrants from abroad to fill a skilled vacancy in the UK. II. Intra-Company The Intra-Company route was previously known as the IntraCompany Transfer (ICT) route. It allows established workers of multinational companies, to be transferred by their overseas company, to work in a skilled role for a linked entity in the UK.

Bhavneeta Limbachia, Associate

take effect in full from 1 January 2021. Some of the key changes that businesses should expect include: • Reduction in the skill threshold for the skilled workers route. This has been reduced from RQF level 6 (bachelor’s level) to RQF level 3 (A-level). • Abolition of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) which was the process of advertising a job for a period of 28 days to settled workers before the job could be offered to a migrant. • The salary threshold has been reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 or the going rate for the skilled occupation. • Removal of the cap for Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship which means there are no restrictions on the number of migrant workers a business can employ from abroad.

Is this the new system?

In order to prepare for the new immigration changes, employers should review their recruitment plans to assess whether the above routes would be relevant for their employees.

The new work visa system became effective from 1 December 2020 in preparation for the new post-Brexit immigration system which will

The expert team at RussellCooke can help guide you through the complex post-Brexit period to ensure you and your business continue to thrive.

What is a sponsor licence? A sponsor licence gives a business permission to employ workers from abroad to work in the UK. Subsequently, it allows migrant workers to apply for a work visa to facilitate employment in the UK. +44 (0)20 8394 6507

Business Connexions | 11



The Clapham Junction Business Improvement District (BID) urges Battersea residents to be local heroes by shopping in their local area for goods, services and gifts. Rather than shop on Amazon or eBay, residents are being urged to support local retail, business and hospitality services by ordering by phone or online via the businesses’ websites, and receiving products via their local delivery services, or by visiting stores, services or hospitality venues. The Junction BID businesses in the heart of Battersea need the locals’ support. Residents have also been urged to visit, download The Junction App and follow the BID’s social media channels to find out which businesses are open and trading, and to receive news on promotions, online events and details on the amazing businesses in their area.

‘Local – The New Normal?’ which showcased how the small independent businesses in Clapham Junction had risen to the challenges presented during the pandemic and the supportive spirit of the neighbourhood. Details of both can be viewed on the BID’s website Highlights for Christmas also saw a Clapham Junction Christmas show on Riverside Radio, new Christmas lights and a spectacular light installation on the Arding & Hobbs building. The Junction BID area covers businesses in Clapham Junction Station, St. John’s Road, Northcote Road and St. John’s Hill, Battersea Rise, Falcon Road (north, up to the Railway Bridge) and Lavender Hill (up to and including Battersea Arts Centre).

The BID footprint has a wide range of businesses, from familiar household high street names to a mix of small independents and hidden gems that contribute to the uniqueness and rich diversity of Clapham Junction. The Junction BID launched an extensive marketing campaign in November entitled ‘BE A LOCAL HERO – Support Local, that included a leaflet drop to 25,000 residential homes, campaign signage, organic and paid social media, advertising and PR with local press, consumer blogs and a lockdown directory hosted on The campaign follows on from the BID’s work during the first lockdown which saw the launch of their new ‘The Junction App’ and their highly praised film entitled

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Costco Wholesale is a membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing our members quality goods and services at the Costco Wholesale is a membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing our members quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. We provide a wide selection of merchandise, plus the convenience of speciality departments and lowest possible prices. We provide a wide selection of merchandise, plus the convenience of speciality departments and exclusive member services, all designed to make your shopping experience a pleasurable one. We are confident in the exclusive member services, all designed to make your shopping experience a pleasurable one. We are confident in the quality and value of our products, and we stand behind them with our guarantee of satisfaction. quality and value of our products, and we stand behind them with our guarantee of satisfaction. Membership Membership The annual membership fee for Standard Trade Membership* is £22 ex VAT (£26.40 The annual membership fee for Standard Trade Membership* is £22 ex VAT (£26.40 inc VAT). The annual membership fee for Standard Individual Membership* is £28 inc VAT). The annual membership fee for Standard Individual Membership* is £28 ex VAT (£33.60 inc VAT). ex VAT (£33.60 inc VAT). The annual membership fee for Executive Trade Membership is £56 ex VAT (£67.20 The annual membership fee for Executive Trade Membership is £56 ex VAT (£67.20 inc VAT). The annual membership fee for Executive Individual Membership is £62 inc VAT). The annual membership fee for Executive Individual Membership is £62 ex VAT (£74.40 inc VAT), which also includes a complimentary card for your spouse or ex VAT (£74.40 inc VAT), which also includes a complimentary card for your spouse or domestic partner. Executive Individuals earn a 2% Reward on most purchases up to domestic partner. Executive Individuals earn a 2% Reward on most purchases up to a maximum of £400 per year, and receive this in their annual renewal notice, to use a maximum of £400 per year, and receive this in their annual renewal notice, to use against goods in the warehouse. against goods in the warehouse.


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Business Connexions | 13


The challenge of opening the Ritz in the Blitz Lesley Andrew Signature Senior Lifestyle Lesley Andrew was destined to work in the care profession from a very young age. “I wanted to be a nurse at the age of seven when my grandad was ill,” she says. “I guess it was just a natural desire to make people better. Back then I was young and naïve; I thought that nursing was all about holding residents’ hands and mopping their brows. When I got into the industry it didn’t take me long to realise that it was a very different world!” Lesley’s caring instinct has served her well during a 40-year career in nursing and social care management. Now she’s the general manager of Signature at Wandsworth Common, a luxury care

home that’s part of the Signature Senior Lifestyle Group. Featuring 97 private apartments that vary from spacious studios to one-bedroom suites, this spectacular purpose-built care home offers Signature’s award-winning residential, dementia and nursing care. It currently has 14 residents, each looked after by Lesley’s 53-strong team of dedicated staff. This state of the art care home even has hotel-style interactive televisions that allow residents to book appointments, order room service and express interest in activities. The fact that the home is operational at all is a minor miracle, as Lesley explains. “We opened our doors on March 30 this year,” she says, “just after the country

“I was really excited about the challenge of bringing together a diverse and inclusive team that’s committed to delivering exceptional care to our residents, welcoming the community into our home and delivering person-centred care in a five-star setting.” 14 | Business Connexions

went into lockdown due to COVID-19. It probably wasn’t the best timing! We likened it to opening the Ritz in the Blitz. “I moved into one of the apartments for 12 weeks to ensure that everyone was safe and that systems and procedures put in place were being adhered to. I just wanted to be a point of contact for staff and residents so that if they had any questions, they knew that I was on site to answer them.” It was a huge effort both for Lesley and her team. A rigorous cleaning regime was implemented, the appropriate PPE was procured for staff, hand sanitisers were made available and the relevant checks and balances were carried out meticulously.


Lesley Andrew: the inside story: Favourite food: Shepherd’s pie – it reminds me of my childhood Favourite tipple: Gin Favourite holiday? Australia – especially when I took my parents and we stayed over for three nights in Singapore. That was a real trip down memory lane when we lived there in the early 1970s Describe your family life? Blended, fun and sociable How do you spend your downtime? Usually with family and friends but not as much recently due to COVID-19 restrictions. I moved into the care home during the COVID-19 lockdown

Staff continue to be tested for COVID-19 every week and a strict policy of selfisolation is in place in line with government guidelines. Thanks to all of this hard work, there has so far not been one single case of COVID-19 in the home. Perhaps this is not surprising, given Lesley’s eagle eye for detail and genuine passion for delivering person-centred care. These attributes have enabled her to achieve outstanding ratings from the Care Quality Commission at three homes she’s worked at – a feat she hopes to repeat at Signature at Wandsworth Common. In her early years, Lesley had a nomadic upbringing due to her father’s career in the army. He was posted to Singapore and Germany, where Lesley worked in a military school before she left home at the tender age of 18. Eventually she married and moved to Burnley in Lancashire, where she worked in a private hospital. She then moved to Bishops Stortford where she went for a job as a General Manager, not realising it was for a care home however she ended up taking the role. This role began her journey in the social care sector in a variety of management roles. “I spent seventeen years working for the same company but it was time for a change. I wanted to focus more on people and get back to having my feet on the ground in an individual home,” says Lesley. “I’m a real people person; I like to get to know how individuals tick.”

What are your key strengths as a manager? People skills and life experience. I love getting to know my team and my residents And your limitations? Not knowing when to say no! The Signature role became available late last year and Lesley had no hesitation in taking it up. “I was delighted to join Signature Senior Lifestyle as their dedication to offering luxury living with exceptional care is a vision shared by me,” she says. “I was really excited about the challenge of bringing together a diverse and inclusive team that’s committed to delivering exceptional care to our residents, welcoming the community into our home and delivering personcentred care in a five-star setting. “Wandsworth has a great community feel where everyone supports each other. People have popped into our home to deliver cakes and flapjacks and we’ve donated money to Age UK, provided free meals for our staff and made sure we shop locally for produce to help local businesses. “Coming to work for Signature at Wandsworth Common means I don’t need to win the lottery; I’ve already won my dream job.”

Best thing about doing business in the borough? Being part of the Wandsworth community. Everyone has come together now more than ever. It was so heart-warming to see our neighbours out clapping for carers. When we can, we offer our police and ambulance services a warm drink and a treat Famous person you’d most like to spend dinner with? Peter Kay – he has stayed true to his roots and although he’s famous he also values his privacy Most interesting fact about yourself? I once looked after one of the Beatles. I can also lip-read! Business Connexions | 15

LANOP’S VIRTUAL FINANCE DIRECTOR AND CBILS SERVICE a fresh ray of hope for businesses facing slowdown Virtual Finance Director Services

Who knew that you could hire a full-time finance manager at just 1/5th of the cost in today’s age? At times when rising costs and lockdowns have played havoc with countless businesses, Lanop Accountants offers Virtual Finance Director services to clients unable to afford a full-time finance director but in need of a superior value proposition. But what exactly does a Virtual Finance Director do? Virtual Finance Directors, or VFDs as Lanop Accountants likes to call them, are your ondemand finance managers that let you plan for your business with precision. This includes forecasting, budgeting, capital and financial planning, financial management and strategy development among other similar services. The fact that these VFDs come from diverse industries and are well-acquainted with their issues helps them develop a robust business model, provide a superb value proposition, and guarantee client satisfaction. At the same time, VFDs provide crucial support, for example, when you wish to try out new business ideas, reduce your costs or maximize your profits. Not surprisingly, the value of a VFD lies in its ability to utilize a business’s financial information to its maximum potential and making data driven decisions. To this end, what makes VFD services especially attractive is the fact that it costs 1/5th (~£10K) of an actual finance director’s remuneration (around £50K - £60K annually). This value proposition coupled together with its impressive range of services is something a lot of businesses look for during such challenging times to minimize their costs. Again, the presence of an experienced finance professional enables the business to get real-time insights that helps businesses grow.

At the same time, it helps to keep organizations agile and responsive to shifting market dynamics. Along with this, a VFD brings in fresh perspective to your industry as an independent expert usually has more freedom to come up with new ideas and suggest additional revenue models. VFDs even help businesses future proof themselves as the decisions are based on solid data – reducing the chances of failure. On top of this, VFDs are always there and can provide customized services for businesses keeping in view their unique situation. Expressing his satisfaction with VFD services, Troy Johnson, owner of Juici Jerk - a cuisine based in South West London offering contemporary Caribbean dining experience with an urban twist through delivery, catering, and DIY kits remarked: “It has been the best decision we have made this year hands down. Running a small business is hard but knowing you have a good, resourceful, and responsive Virtual Finance Director makes the utmost difference. Before signing up we did not understand much about the finance side of running a business. In the eleven months that we have been with them, it has been a massive learning curve.” Presently, Lanop Accountants has three VFD packages: Star, Dependable, and Doit-All starting from £499*, £999* and £1999** per month respectively. These packages offer different services that include financial forecasting, annual budgeting, financial modelling, remuneration planning, designing and implementation of financial controls, management accounts interpretation, improvements in operation and processes, tailored report on business performance and strategy, assistance with internal finance staff training, help with busines finance along with call support. Clients, therefore, can keep their business competitive through Lanop’s VFD services in case they do not have the requisite expertise in-house and wish to improve their business performance manifold.

“It has been the best decision we have made this year hands down. Running a small business is hard but knowing you have a good, resourceful, and responsive Virtual Finance Director makes the utmost difference.” 16 | Business Connexions

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Services

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), too, comes as a welcome change at times when businesses are facing frequent interruptions in their operations. This scheme provides financial support to businesses across the UK that are losing revenue and experiencing disrupted cashflow. To qualify for the loan, however, businesses need to meet the eligibility criteria which requires them to be based in the UK and have an annual turnover of up to £45 million. Additionally, they must have been negatively affected by the pandemic and need to show that they would have been viable if it were not for the coronavirus. It is an ideal time for business facing cashflow problems and looking for alternate financing options to apply for this loan as the deadline for CBILS has been extended to 31 January 2021 and Lanop Accountants can help businesses with their CBILS applications. Presently, CBILS has over 100 lenders providing finance and the maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme is £5 million, which is available on repayment terms of up to six years. CBILS is also gaining popularity as it gives the lender a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending. However, the borrower remains fully liable for the debt. The applicants will be happy to know that the Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender levied charges. Altogether, virtual finance director and CBILS service can prove to be a fresh ray of hope for businesses during these testing times by ridding them of their financial troubles. +44 (0) 20 8392 9375



is the way forward

PAUL MITCHELL is helping firms navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic by offering an alternative to the traditional office environment. He is the owner of Le Bureau, a boutique co-working space that provides 220 desks for more than 90 small businesses in Battersea Studios. The facilities attract a wide range of businesses, from web design, graphic design, 3D-imaging, architecture and structural engineering companies to physiotherapists, yoga practitioners and homecare specialists. Typically, sole traders, freelancers and SMEs take up the space – but Paul believes that due to the current climate, larger firms will consider flexible co-working facilities as an alternative to their existing office. He says: “Since March companies have discovered that they don’t need to be located in large, expensive offices, where they are saddled with a long-term lease and their staff may have a long daily commute. The traditional 9am-5pm office model was already becoming obsolete but now the pandemic has accelerated this trend. “People have adapted to the current situation and in many cases have decided to work from the comforts of their own home. In some cases, however, this isn’t ideal – especially if they are having to work from home all of the time, with interaction with colleagues and clients limited to Zoom calls. “This is where we see the benefits of a flexible co-working space. It allows people to meet on an ad-hoc basis for client meetings or to share ideas with colleagues.

From the company’s point of view, it’s far less expensive to pay a one-off, flat low-cost charge per desk than worry about burdensome leases and deposits on a permanent office. This flat charge also covers free use of meeting rooms, printing, broadband, teas/coffees, visitor parking, shower facilities, social events and business events. “It’s clear that in the short term the business community will have significant challenges in navigating COVID, but in the medium-to-long term I’m confident that the flexible workspace model will survive and flourish.” Le Bureau has been a Chamber member for the last five years. The company saw the benefits of this and decided to take up patron status in 2017. Paul says: “We became familiar with the Chamber and what it could do for its

members. We were really impressed with the team there, particularly [Chamber CEO] Steve Pinto who has this ability to knit together the local business community, councils and a range of other organisations in an effective manner. “Through Chamber membership we’ve steadily raised our profile. Companies have become more aware of who we are and what we provide, which has helped us to secure additional business. I can honestly say that we are now widely known the length and breadth of the borough and beyond. “Membership has also enabled more companies to meet in our co-working space, network with each other and work on joint projects together. This is exactly how local Chambers are meant to work and we’re glad to be part of it here in Wandsworth.”

“It’s clear that in the short term the business community will have significant challenges in navigating COVID, but in the medium-to-long term I’m confident that the flexible workspace model will survive and flourish.” Business Connexions | 17

Our plans for Arding and Hobbs is the taste of what’s to come It has been a tumultuous year and it’s been said many, many times over that the pandemic has caught us all by surprise. But like everyone else, we have adapted and, as London property specialists we are excited to play a part in shaping the new normal.

Arding and Hobbs

Most of your readers will recognise the work we have done to date, and the work we plan to do to help breath new life into the iconic and beautiful Grade II Listed Arding and Hobbs building in Clapham Junction.

The building has been a part of Battersea’s heritage since 1910 and was one of South London’s first ever purpose-built department stores. It’s been used in several films and television programmes.

It’s a fabulous building. What drives me and drives the team at W.RE is seeing a complex and challenging project and adding real, physical value to a site so it is celebrated for its heritage. All whilst adding genuine value to the modern world and in this case, helping to rejuvenate the local high street. We were thrilled Wandsworth planning committee agreed with us and unanimously agreed to give a resolution to grant recently. All the councillors agreed it would help bring back to life the building and help the local economy.

Cheer leading for Clapham We learned what the public wanted from the building because we asked them. We were asked several questions but the most interesting was, why here? Well, the answer to that is relatively simple. Arding and Hobbs is a special building, in a terrific part of London and being opposite Clapham Junction station, it is exceptional well connected. Our proposal will help breathe new life into the building and the high street that if we are honest, was struggling already before Covid. We know with good design we can enhance this unique building and attract

18 | Business Connexions

an aspirational tenant mix. We also know there isn’t a huge amount of high-quality office space in Clapham Junction and we are confident that Arding and Hobbs will become a special place to work, shop and enjoy. This retail – leisure – workspace approach will be the blueprint for the future of the town centre all over the UK. I think the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce put it best when they said in their letter of support to the Planning Committee that: It is becoming increasingly apparent that town centres across the country, including Battersea, are declining, and this project will be vital to demonstrate a way forward for them. These proposals will revitalise the Arding & Hobbs building and help to make the area a destination, not just a transport hub.

Listening and learning Over 1,000 individual responses were received to our consultation in addition to 10 online presentations to stakeholders, neighbouring residents and businesses, as well as engagement via our social media platforms. Residents and local businesses told us we should treat it with total respect. We, together with our architects Stiff + Trevillion are committed to doing so and I am pleased to say we had far more letters of support than letters of concern. In planning applications that is quite rare. Our refurbishment plan seeks to create flexible retail, restaurant and leisure uses across the ground and basement floors and introduce modern office space to the upper floors, including a new roof top extension to crown the building. This combination of uses will generate footfall, giving an economic boost to Clapham Junction town centre, and restore the heritage of this iconic building. When we spoke to the public lots of people wanted retail to be successful in the town centre but accepted the future of the high street was changing. The Clapham Junction Business Improvement District commented that: Economically, the enterprise will be hugely beneficial to the area in terms of increasing employment opportunities and jobs in the locale. More pleasing perhaps was their description of the building, which they said was an ‘architectural gem’ and acknowledged our efforts to fully understand the sensitivity of Arding and Hobbs by listening closely to the voices of local businesses and residents. We did and the results are what was passed last month.

What do we need our offices for? Listening to the public and the community is vital, but we also had to ask ourselves some fundamental questions. The one question we kept returning to over and over during the design phase and once again when Corona arrived at our shores was ‘what do we need our offices for?’ It’s not rocket science to suggest W.RE, just like in board rooms all over the world, debated this very question as part of the adaption to the new world. This central question informed our thinking here, and also our thinking in other projects across central London, including on Borough High Street, Grosvenor Street and our St Pancras Campus project in Camden. In May 2020, in the middle of the first wave, Twitter’s CEO Marky Dorsey tweeted that all his staff could choose to work from home forever and other notable companies like Schroders followed suit. Conversely, Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO was quoted saying that remote working is a “pure negative” while Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, told the New York Times not to “over-celebrate” any perceived productivity gains from remote work. The truth is both are correct. The office will shift from being the only place of work to being just one, albeit major, element of the ecosystem of locations we will work from. However, we will need better design to lead the way in this new office revolution. Long rows of desks lining a floor will not be the accepted norm in the future. What will remain however, is the office being a central place for people to connect, learn and grow for both customers and colleagues. The office will still bind teams together in a common endeavour and a shared culture, creating friendships that often form part of an individuals’ social infrastructure.

What we hope, and what we believe, is that sustainability, social and wellbeing factors will increasingly be promoted. In our sector, that usually gets referred to as ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance – this core value of wellbeing runs through the entirety of our approach to our plans for Arding and Hobbs and the positive mix of retail and office space is testament to this. We believe this, combined with locations near core London transport hubs, are driving the heightened interest we are seeing in this post-Covid world. Another change we are seeing is a shift to the office as a service. The service office sector is here to stay and there are some notable and enlightened landlords that have launched their own branded, serviced, office products, including British Land with Storey and Land Securities with Myo, while others opt to work with operational partners. What started out as a niche sub-sector, targeting start-ups and freelancers is looking to become the future blueprint for office leasing across the commercial real estate sector.

The future The government has said it wants to build back better. We agree. Our sector needs to work differently and embrace this as it will be what employees and customers will demand. Using all of my plus twenty years’ experience I can say with complete confidence there has never been a better time to deliver socially responsible mixed-use scheme’s, like what we propose for Arding and Hobbs. The new office is here for the long term and being the glass half full person I am, I truly believe the 2020s are likely to be a watershed decade for the commercial property industry – for the better. What’s not to be optimistic about when I get to work on beautiful, iconic and important buildings like Arding and Hobbs, whilst helping to transform and rejuvenate the city I love.

Sascha Lewin is CEO of W.RE, a team of London based commercial property specialists. W.RE are known for identifying complex and challenging projects that have good design focussed around delivering socially responsible mixed-use schemes. They have projects in Camden, Soho, Mayfair, Shoreditch, the City of London and the South Bank as well as developments in Germany and Switzerland. Sascha has worked in Real Estate for over 20 years. Business Connexions | 19


“We are thrilled to have won the Community Impact category at the AbilityNet Tech4Good awards. The success of Power to Connect is thanks to the Wandsworth community coming together at a time of real crisis.”


wins at Abilitynet Tech4good Awards Power to Connect, a campaign launched by Battersea Power Station (BPS) and Wandsworth Council to tackle digital poverty in the borough, recently celebrated winning the ‘Community Impact’ category at the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards, which recognise organisations and individuals who have used digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. BPS and Wandsworth Council launched Power to Connect in April 2020 to support local families struggling to home school and stay digitally connected during lockdown because they didn’t have access to a computer or broadband at home. Since Power to Connect launched, hundreds of emergency phone data top-up vouchers and wifi dongles funded by a £10,000 donation from the Battersea Power Station Foundation have been distributed to families in the borough. BPS and Wandsworth Council have also set up a laptop and tablet refurbishment project, which collects unused laptops and tablets that are in working order, refurbishes them as Google Chromebooks with the help of volunteers and redistributes the devices to families across Wandsworth. Isabel Oakley Chapman, Director at Power to Connect, said: “We are thrilled to have won the Community Impact category at the AbilityNet Tech4Good awards. The success of Power to Connect is thanks to the Wandsworth community coming together at a time of real crisis. Without the support of Battersea Power

20 | Business Connexions

Station, the Council, local residents who donate devices and the IT and transport volunteers who continue to give up their free time to refurbish and deliver computers, the work we do wouldn’t be possible. With continued support from local residents and businesses, we hope to continue to connect more families in Wandsworth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.” Sarah Banham, Head of Communities and Sustainability at Battersea Power Station, said: “Since launching back in April, Power to Connect has supported over 900 families in Wandsworth with over 400 devices being collected, refurbished and donated to 50 local schools. This is a huge achievement which has been recognised with the recent win at the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards.

To find out more about the Power to Connect campaign and how you can get involved, please visit

“There are still many more who are experiencing digital poverty and need help, especially as class bubbles are having to self-isolate and some schools are closing again. We welcome more businesses getting in touch with Power to Connect if they have unwanted laptops or can volunteer technical expertise, so that we can continue to support parents and local schoolchildren during this challenging time.” Power to Connect is now a Community Interest Company and has raised over £2,000 as part of a Crowdfunder campaign, which will be used to continue supporting local families and schools throughout the pandemic.


Nine Elms Arts Ministry and Battersea Power Station Community Choir come together (virtually) to record brand-new Anthem of Hope Following their collaboration with local Battersea Power Station resident, world-renowned musician and multiple Grammy Award winning artist, Sting, during the first national lockdown, the Battersea Power Station Community Choir continues to come together virtually each week. This summer the choir collaborated with artists from Nine Elms Arts Ministry and Battersea based songwriter and producer Dan Swana to write and record ‘Hope is to Heal’, which celebrates hope and challenges us with a call to unity and love during these challenging times. The writing workshops and rehearsals were all conducted via zoom and the forty or so participants recorded their parts on their smart phones, with children from

St George’s Church of England Primary School in Battersea singing the chorus. An animated film created by Battersea based film company, Chocolate Films, to accompany the song was released last month and features ‘Hope Squares’ created by residents, children and artists from Nine Elms and beyond for the #HopeinNineElms project. To watch the ‘Hope is to Heal’ video, visit

“The writing workshops and rehearsals were all conducted via zoom and the forty or so participants recorded their parts on their smart phones, with children from St George’s Church of England Primary School in Battersea singing the chorus.”

For more information, please visit

VAGABOND WINES brings fun virtual wine experiences to you It’s difficult keeping team spirits up right now with many people working from home and after work drinks feeling like a thing of the past. But don’t worry, Battersea Power Station’s unique wine bar, Vagabond Wines, have come up with the perfect solution with their new virtual wine tasting experiences. Whether it’s a group of five or 100 colleagues, the Vagabond virtual tastings provide a fun and different experience for everyone. Starting from £40, there are four different virtual tasting packages available, which include six bottles of Vagabond crafted wines and tailored tasting cards delivered to your door, as well as a guided online session with an expert member of the Vagabond Wines team. To discover more about the virtual wine tastings and how to book please visit whats-on Business Connexions | 21

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Minister for Rail launches the new

Veterans Railcard at South Thames College

Last month Chris Heaton-Harris the Minister for Rail visited South Thames College to launch the new Veterans Railcard. Chris took a tour of the fantastic Construction facilities at South Thames College and met with the ex-military learners on the Building Heroes Education Foundation. South Thames College are working with Building Heroes who have a national programme working with Colleges to provide skills training to Military Veterans and support them into employment in the building trades. Their aim is to tackle unemployment amongst those who have kept us safe by offering them a seamless transition to a new career in construction. Karen Jefford, Chief Operations Officer at Building Heroes

commented, “We are proud to announce our partnership with South Thames Colleges Group. The College joins the Building Heroes family as our 12th training location in the UK helping us to reskill military service leavers, veterans, and their families to enter the Construction industry. Following the enthusiasm and visit from the Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, and our work to support HS2, the College have expressed their commitment to support future developments. With up to 100 places per year, we are positive that this partnership will provide plenty of opportunities to support our military learners and provide the

skills for future employment to enhance their lives.” Andrew Slade, Principal at South Thames College commented: “Through our ongoing partnership with Building Heroes, we provide skills training to military veterans in our newly opened state-of-theart construction centre, working to tackle unemployment amongst those who have kept us safe and helping them transition to a new career in construction. It was great to welcome Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to South

Thames College to meet the military learners and launch the Veterans Railcard allowing more military heroes to travel and learn, an initiative we greatly support at South Thames College”.

If you are interested in studying at South Thames College please visit our website where you can discover a range of opportunities.

Chamber Members South Thames College & Wandsworth Oasis see Partnership Go from Strength to Strength with Launch of New ‘Start Upholstery’ Project Following on from their joint win in the Innovation category at the 2019 Wandsworth Business Awards, South Thames College and Wandsworth Oasis have combined again to launch a new innovative community project at Southside Shopping Centre, called ‘Start Upholstery.’ As part of the project, Wandsworth Oasis donate second-hand items from their furniture store, and a specialist Tutor from South Thames College teaches local adults how to upholster the stock, as well as develop their employability skills through accredited qualifications, and consider the option of starting their own upholstery business. It is planned for other Chamber members to support the programme by delivering short master-classes on topics such as finance, and going self-employed. Once the stock has been restored, it will then be re-sold in one of the charities’ stores. Learners on the programme will also be able to access work experience opportunities in the stores at the end of their course. The programme is free to adults, and may be of benefit to those looking to change career, return to the world of work, or who may be coming back from long-term health challenges.

‘Start Upholstery’ was officially opened by the Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillor Jane Cooper on Friday 4th December 2020 (pictured), during a ceremony in the unit at Southside, as part of the Rainbow Rising ( initiative in the previous Debenhams unit, which provides pop-up shop opportunities for charity and community organisations. Kate Turney from South Thames College, who, alongside Alex Watson the Upholstery Lecturer, led on the design and implementation of the project said: “This project is a great way for South Thames College to take our courses into the heart of the community in Wandsworth. Our partnership with Wandsworth Oasis has allowed us to be part of a radical rethink of the way we use empty spaces on our high street. By transforming a retail outlet into an upholstery workshop, we have been able to bring training to those who most need new skills and opportunities and, in addition, support the continuation of traditional craft skills, teaching people how to recycle and restore furniture which might otherwise end up in landfill.” Alexandra Wyatt, Community Engagement Manager at Wandsworth Oasis added:

“Wandsworth Oasis are delighted to team up with South Thames College again for another great community partnership initiative. Start Upholstery not only gives training, new skill sets, and confidence to those taking part, but also is reducing furniture landfill by upcycling pre-loved items that need that little lift to showcase what can we done. We are pleased to be part of this joint venture and excited to see some of the final finished pieces of furniture which we will proudly display and sell in our charity shops.” Steve Pinto (CEO of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce), who attended the Opening Ceremony, commented: “Wandsworth Chamber is delighted to support South Thames College and Wandsworth Oasis in this exciting new collaboration to develop local upholstery skills. Start Upholstery will give people the skills, confidence and support necessary to gain employment and to even start up their own businesses. This is also a great opportunity for Wandsworth Chamber members to offer mentoring and general business skills development to up and coming new businesses and we are committed to helping this project flourish and grow.”

Business Connexions | 23


Navigating the New Norm 5 Top Tips to help you work more efficiently from home:

1. Securing Accounts 2. Securing Devices

3. Virtual Meetings

4. Documents

5. Hardware

• Ensure all users have strong passwords ideally use a password manager • Use Multifactor authentication wherever possible • Logins must not be shared

• With numerous solutions available for internal team and external client meetings, secure access is key – e.g. use password protection, authenticate users, make use of waiting rooms

• Having difficulty with VPN or emailing files? Consider migrating to a platform such as Microsoft Teams allowing real-time collaboration on documents

• If your WFH team is struggling with old equipment, leasing devices could be an effective solution • An equipment audit can help assess current and future needs and set priorities

• All devices should have a password or pin code • Automatic software updates should be configured • Antivirus software should be installed • Laptops should have full encryption enabled

Let Shoal IT be your trusted technology partner… Security and transparency are at the heart of our business. Shoal ensures that we have a deep understanding of your needs before providing and implementing appropriate and cost-effective solutions. Our IT expertise includes security, remote working, connectivity, software, hardware – all to provide our clients with effective business enablers.

We provide Managed Services where Shoal is your “virtual” IT department, not only giving you 24/7 access to our UK-based helpdesk but also proactive monitoring and maintenance of your IT systems. With Cyber Security a key focus, we provide a range of alternatives from a one-off cyber audit to helping you acquire and maintain the UK Government’s Cyber Essentials certification.

We also undertake one-off and on-going Project work to aid your business development.

To discuss your IT needs with us, please call or email:

+44 20 8078 0810

Shoal IT Solutions was founded by Mike Fish in 2002 and has been providing a professional and friendly service ever since to help clients find the right solutions for their varied SME businesses. Many find the IT industry confusing, uncertain about what technology is really needed and what the associated costs should be. Let Shoal IT guide you to the right solutions for your business.

YOUR TRUSTED TECHNOLOGY PARTNER Managed IT | Microsoft 365 Migrations | Project Work | 24/7 Support | Telephony | Connectivity | Wired & Wireless Networks | Office Moves | Start-ups | Managed Print | Cyber Essentials Certification | Managed Firewalls


FIRMS SHUN rapid transition to new security systems Two thirds of companies don’t have a secure remote access solution in place to protect their business. That’s the standout headline from Zscaler’s State of Digital Transformation Report EMEA 2020. The study shows that nearly half (48%) of survey respondents expected the number of people working remotely to grow between 25-50% in the next year, but only one third were confident they had a secure remote access infrastructure in place. Security still topped the list of key business transformation obstacles, with 42% of respondents reporting security-related challenges. Costs and lack of in-house expertise were cited by more than one-third of respondents (36%), followed closely by the complexity of installing a secure remote access infrastructure (35%). Ismail Elmas, vice-president EMEA & APAC at Zscaler, said: “Businesses are waking up to

the benefits of the cloud, both for business agility and workforce flexibility. However, the challenges they point to imply that they are not transforming fast enough. The struggle with multi-cloud set-ups, complexity and security are the same as they’ve always been but require a new vision with regards to modern network infrastructures. “The fact so many enterprises are still combining their cloud infrastructure with traditional remote desktop and VPN solutions will not effectively address these challenges. With remote working likely to be the standard in current work environments for the near future at least, businesses need to look to more secure methods of securing their employees and offer userfriendly and performant access.” The survey found that only 34% of businesses were preparing to implement new security

solutions based on the growing requirements for remote working. When asked about their knowledge and plans around secure-access service edge (SASE), the user-focused security framework defined by Gartner, 55% plan to adopt this approach, either transitioning all entities at the same time (36%) or transitioning separate entities (branch offices, mobile entities etc.) over time (19%). However, while almost half (49%) of German and Swedish and 41% of Dutch businesses plan to transition all entities to SASE at the same time, UK, French and Italian businesses are already falling behind. Only 27% of UK and French businesses, and 23% of Italian firms, plan to transition all at once – putting these regions at a disadvantage.

Nathan Howe, head of transformation strategy EMEA at Zscaler, said: “We were pleasantly surprised that SASE is so prominent on the roadmaps of this many European businesses, as its merits are broadly agreed upon across the various nations. What only a year ago was a rather obscure framework that few seemed to pay too much attention to, the recent huge cloud uptake has pushed it up the agenda. If businesses can get their SASE adoption right, it could make the security challenges they’re currently facing a thing of the past.” The report also found that the move to the cloud has, more specifically, been the move to the “multi-cloud”. On average, nearly half (49%) of the respondents said they operate in a multicloud set-up of two cloud service providers, whilst a third already have three providers.

PASSWORD Management

You may already be familiar with the need for a “strong” password as weak passwords can be cracked in seconds, but here are some additional handy hints. Password Strength The longer and more randomised a password, the harder it is to break. Recommendations on the number of characters vary but a minimum of 12 with a mixture of upper and lower case, special characters and numbers is sensible. Avoid easily guessable combinations stringing together three unrelated words is an excellent alternative.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) MFA is essential for important accounts (e.g. your email account, online banking) as, if a hacker does successfully steal your username/password, they would also need your device (for example your phone) in order to access your account.

This is because MFA requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to an account.

Why is a Password Manager essential? Remembering multiple, unique, strong passwords is not possible so most people end up reusing passwords – this is dangerous as if one account is compromised, all your other accounts are also at risk. A Password Manager is a programme allowing you to store, manage and generate passwords for all your accounts. It is accessed with one master password (the only one you need to remember) and once set up, your account passwords are easily retrieved from the vault. A password manager relies on strong encryption to protect all the passwords in your vault.

SECURE ACCESS DOS AND DON’TS : • Do make sure you always use a strong password • Do use Multifactor Authentication wherever possible • Do use a Password Manager • Do make sure all your data is backed up regularly, just in case • Don’t use the same password for different accounts • Don’t share passwords

For more information contact Shoal IT Solutions: or 020 8078 0810 Business Connexions | 25

BORROWING MONEY from your business I shall be moving to a new house in the next couple of months, and I want to borrow a lump sum from my own Limited company to help finance the move. I plan to repay this towards the end of next year. Are there any tax implications in doing this? Yes, two key tax issues arise that you should be aware of which are as follows; Firstly, you do not mention whether the loan to you will be interest free or not. Chances are you plan this to be interest free, in which case this is the first tax issue to arise. An interest free loan is a benefit in kind under tax law, and so you will be taxed on the notional interest arising. Let’s take an example to illustrate the point. Say you borrow £50,000 for 12 months; the HMRC official interest rate is 2.25% (as of November 2020). For tax purposes, a benefit in kind arises and would be calculated to be 2.25% of £50,000, which equals £1,125. You would, therefore, pay tax at your highest personal

rate on £1,125, so if your total income, including the benefit amount, is within the basic rate tax band then you would pay 20% x £1,125 = £225. However, if your total income is in the higher rate, then the tax charge would be £450. Your company would also have to pay employers national insurance on the benefit at 13.8% of £1,125, which amounts to £155.25. Your company would report the benefit to HMRC on the annual form P11D. You could choose to pay interest to the company rather than have the loan interest free to avoid the benefit in kind issue. The second issue that arises with loans like this is where the loan balance is still outstanding at the company’s accounting year end and remains outstanding nine months after the year end. In this situation, the company will be required to pay a tax

charge amounting to 32.5% of the loan. This tax charge is more like a tax deposit because when the loan is eventually repaid, and the conditions are correct, the company can seek repayment of this tax. When the tax is repaid depends upon when the loan is repaid, and there could be quite a long period of time that elapses between repayment of the loan and obtaining a refund of the tax. The ideal situation is not to have to pay the tax in the first place and with careful timing of when the loan is drawn and then subsequently repaid will be key to that. •••• Please note answers given are for general purposes only, and specific advice should be taken before acting on any of the suggestions made.

Any reader interested in discussing their business accounting and taxation requirements or outsourcing some of the day to day accounting tasks can telephone 0208 789 8588 or email to arrange a free call or meeting.

Our business is understanding yours

At Kirk Rice we take time to understand you and your business so we can help you grow. With over 30 years experience working with large and small companies our team is here to guide you and your company to a successful future.

26 | Business Connexions

13 Princeton Court, 53 to 55 Felsham Road, Putney London, SW15 1AZ 0208 789 8588 |


5 Steps to greening

your business

As this tumultuous year comes to the end all of us will be taking stock and thinking about how we can build back better next year. Hopefully, for many, this will include how to improve the sustainability of our businesses.

Here are CREW’s five steps to greening your business: you understand where you are and what measures you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.

3 Fabric first

1 Switch to a green tariff This is perhaps the simplest measure you can take and there is very little difference in price between a standard tariff and a green tariff. Make sure you understand the difference between dark green tariffs and light green tariffs, as some are greener than others. Call CREW for advice.

2 Audit your building It always makes sense to know where your starting point is. CREW Energy has trained assessors who can help

The first step is to consider how you can improve the insulation in your building. This includes roof, wall and floor insulation plus windows and doors. Some measures are relatively cheap (loft insulation) and others are less attainable (exterior wall insulation).

4 Energy efficiency measures They include heating controls, such as smart thermostats, smart TRVs and building management systems that allow you to zone areas of your building. LED lighting is another great way to save money and carbon. LEDs are 50-90% more efficient than traditional lighting and last 30,000 hours, reducing energy bills and maintenance costs. Just one £2 light bulb could save you £17p.a.

5 Renewable heat and energy Heat pumps have been all over the news this winter and for good reason. They are cheap to run and have low maintenance costs. And until March 2021 the Government is offering 20-year subsidies to businesses who switch to renewable heat. Solar PV can save businesses money, reduce carbon and solar panels are a visible way of promoting green credentials. Larger systems (30kWp+) can be funded by third-party operators who will offer discounted electricity contracts.

If you need help planning your path to becoming a low-carbon business, CREW Energy, your local energy coop, can offer audits, modelling and project management.

Contact us at Business Connexions | 27

The value of your business is dependent on more than just its profitability Despite the challenges faced by most businesses over 2020, company valuations have remained surprisingly unaffected by Covid-19. In some instances, where a business has been able to demonstrate an effective management response to the pandemic, and present credible recovery plans, transaction multiples have increased above pre-pandemic levels. Whilst the appetite for M&A has not waned over the last 12 months, there has been a notable shift in the allocation

28 | Business Connexions

of risk to sellers by way of more rigorous due diligence, novel earnout structures and stringent non-negotiable seller warranties. This has eroded bargaining positions for acquirees and equally increased uncertainty on the final value of an agreed transaction.

at least two years of planning and preparation ahead of tendering potential suitors. This time must be spent wisely with particular focus on:

To ensure that business owners are not at a disadvantage during any future sale negotiations H&Hendricks LLP recommends allowing

(3) Optimising business performance.

(1) Mitigating potential due diligence risks; (2) Management succession planning; and

H&Hendricks LLP specialise in helping business owners

to increase the value of their companies and prepare for sale. Even if you are not currently considering selling your stake, there is often significant scope to maximise your company’s value, increase profit and cash generation, and improve its overall attractiveness to future buyers. Simply finding out what your company is really worth is often the first step to ultimately realising its true value.

Ashley Bancroft is a partner at H&Hendricks LLP and helps business owners to determine what their companies are worth and to identify value creation strategies to make them even more valuable. H&Hendricks LLP is a regulated member firm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a proud member of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce.


POOR MENTAL HEALTH fuels workplace absence Mental ill-health accounted for more than half of working days lost in Britain in 2019-20, according to new research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In total, 38.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness (32.5 million) and workplace injury (6.3 million). Stress, depression or anxiety accounted for the majority (17.9 million) of days lost due to work-related ill-health, with a further 8.9 million workers absent due to musculoskeletal disorders. On average, each person took around 17.6 days off work, although this figure rose to 21.6 days for those suffering with stress, depression or anxiety. The HSE’s annual report includes statistics for work-related ill-health, workplace injuries, working days lost, enforcement action taken and the associated costs to Britain. It said the emergence of COVID-19 did not appear to be the major driver of changes seen in the 2019-20 data, although it could have been a contributory factor in workplace absence. Compiled from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources, the statistics show that workplace absence cost Britain’s economy a staggering £16.2 billion in 2019-20.

In response to the report, HSE chair Sarah Newton said: “The COVID pandemic has focused attention on the health and safety issues people face in the workplace. HSE remains committed to taking action where workers are not protected to ensure the guidance and assistance that we provide for employers in managing risks is the best available, based on the latest evidence and science. “Although Britain continues to be up there with the safest places in the world to work, these figures highlight the scale of the challenge HSE currently faces in making Britain an even healthier and safer place to work. This includes our

role in the response to the pandemic to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. “We must continue to drive home the importance of managing risk and promoting behaviours to ensure employers work right so that workers are able to go home healthy and safe at the end of each day.” HSE has been instrumental in promoting good workplace health and wellbeing and helping companies to get their workplaces COVID-secure. The organisation has continued to support the government’s wider health response to the pandemic by working closely with national public health bodies, local authorities and local health teams.

“The COVID pandemic has focused attention on the health and safety issues people face in the workplace. HSE remains committed to taking action where workers are not protected to ensure the guidance and assistance that we provide for employers in managing risks is the best available, based on the latest evidence and science.” Business Connexions | 29

USPs: Possible Header: Why Clients Choose Us? Read our reviews on Trustpilot and Google Visit our stall on the 15th to enter the colouring competition



by investing in Please provide two versions, one which includes Everyone is motivated differently, communicates differently a pic of me and views tasks and relationships differently.

The Maxwell DISC Profile Workshop will help you achieve Maybe we can include some images of propergreater success when you learn to value your strengths as ties, plans etc like a fan of images? I will wellfloor as those of others. send some pics via we transfer. Discover The Maxwell The size of the advert is: w 127 DISC mm x h Method 85 mm

• Commercial & domestic cleaning We provide cleaning, house keeping services and integrated facilities services to retail outlets, events and leisure venues, offices and schools • Virus protection & Maintenance We keep your premises safe and hygienic in the covid – 19 era • We can respond rapidly to requests for any cleaning jobs including virus decontamination, where a case of covid- 19 has been identified.

Our workshops will equip you to • Recognise your strengths and limitations • Develop yourself and others to be their best • Clear the path for personal and professional growth • Build a stronger team by appreciating others’ personalities • Learn effective strategies for handling conflict and personality clashes • Understand how others are different and how to work with each personality



To discuss how we can support you please contact us today on 020 3858 7973 or email us on


Certified Maxwell DISC Method Trainer and Speaker 07944 564 157 @leadershipbuildersuk

am... Absolute gems! From start Asad was brilliant throughout the offered a professional, passionate process of buying my new flatto the sale of my late father's very professional, really NEXT STEP ESTATES end of the phone, whether it be informative, kept me up to date TRUSTED INDEPENDENT ESTATE s or evenAWhatsApp. and informedAGENCY at each stage. OFFERING LANDLORDS A BESPOKE SERVICE. Next Step, Asad and his team... Absolute gems! From start to finish, Asad especially, offered a professional, passionate and enthusiastic approach to the sale of my late father's home. Always at the other end of the phone, whether it be through phone calls, emails or even WhatsApp.


Next St

The team do a great job of looking after my portfolio and I can always rely on them especially when I need their help most.

Asad was brilliant throughout the process of buying my new flatvery professional, really informative, kept me up to date and informed at each stage.

NextAllStep new

The team do a great job of looking after my portfolio and I can always rely on them especially when I need their help most.

instructions receive Free Professional

All new Photography instructions receive

3D Virtual Tours

Free Professional Floor Plans Photography 3D Virtual Tours Floor Plans Quote:

“WandsChamber” Quote: “WandsChamber” See More Reviews on SALES | LETTINGS | PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

SALES | LETTINGS | PROPERTY MANAGEMENT | 020 8767 6181 | | 272 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9NT | 020 8767 6181 | | 272 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9N 30 | Business Connexions

Read our reviews on Trustpilot and Google THE PERSON BEHIND THE BUSINESS Visit our stall on the 15th to enter the colouring competition

Positive next steps for estate agency

Please provide two versions, one which includes a pic of me

Maybe we can include some images of properties, floor plans like a fana of images? I will Asad Khamisa acknowledges he took a risketc in launching business in the send some midst of the 2008 financial crash. Thatpics year via sawwe the transfer. birth of Next Step Estates, The size of the advert w 127 mm x h 85 on mm an independent London-based estate agency that is: focuses predominantly property letting and property management. we don’t take on properties that other companies are promoting, nor do we tie clients into onerous, long-term marketing contracts.”

in case they were financially effected. We have extended this to landlords who are not our clients but would like some guidance.

Asad says: “We’ve adapted and evolved over time but we have never compromised on our core principles of honesty, integrity and transparency. These principles underpin everything we do and this is greatly appreciated by our clients.”

“In recent months, after the first lockdown there has been a lot of activity in both the sales and letting market. Peoples living requirements have changed due to what’s happened this year, for example people have been moving out of central London, closer to the suburbs to acquire more space to accommodate their “working from home” needs or people are having to move back in with parents. We’ve also seen property sales boosted by the stamp duty holiday.

It is this customer-centric approach that has served Next Step Estates well during the last twelve years. Now Asad is focused on navigating the company through the current health pandemic.

Asad Khamisa Next Step Estates “I was only 23 when I started the business,” he recalls. “Maybe I didn’t really consider the implications of it back then.” Perhaps not, but it has all worked out pretty well for him. With a strong team, Next Step Estates now has a firm presence across London and the south east of England. Asad says: “We pride ourselves on the ability to offer landlords a bespoke service catered to their individual needs. Due to our unique approach, our lettings and property management department has grown at a phenomenal rate and we’ve quickly become established as a respectable and reputable brand.

“It has been a challenging time,” he says. “As a consequence of Covid-19, some of our tenants have been affected financially and our landlords are naturally concerned about rent being unpaid. We try to be as supportive as possible to both parties. We assist tenants in seeking additional support from the various Government schemes, or temporarily renegotiating rental terms. “For our landlords we have increased our communication on their tenancy updates to provide reassurance that we are still very much active whilst the team are working remotely, and that we are keeping up to date on all our clients situation. We offered all our landlords the opportunity to book calls to discuss any potential questions or concerns surrounding their mortgage holidays

The environment we’re currently in might be challenging, but the market is still evolving and there are deals to be done.” Prior to establishing Next Step Estates, Asad was as a senior mortgage broker for a company that offered bespoke advice on mortgages, buy-to-lets, insurance and critical illness cover. Asad is offering information to landlords who may be facing difficulties with their rentals or simply have questions about the property market. He is extending this offer to all Chamber members.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Asad directly at

We continue to evolve and want to be at the forefront of estate agency offering our clients the very best service. We’ve leveraged on technology to be as streamlined as possible. This year we invested in a 3D property “walk through” technology, which enables clients to see a property without having to physically enter it. Being an independent agent means that we are agile, so can implement change within our organisation quickly.


“In recent months, after the first lockdown there has been a lot of activity in both the sales and letting market. Peoples living requirements T ESTATE AGENCY have changed due to what’s happened this year, for example people have been moving A BESPOKE SERVICE. out of central London, closer to the suburbs to acquire more space to accommodate “We have a sizeable portfolio of properties their ‘working The team do a from great home’ job of needs.” ems! From start Asad was brilliant throughout the under management across London and

the south east. Unlike other estate agents, onal, passionate process of buying my new flaty late father's very professional, really e, whether it be informative, kept me up to date

looking after my portfolio and I can always rely on them especially when I

Next Step Business Connexions | 31

Chamber Events

Scan the QR code ( with your phone camera to see our events and get them in your calendar app.

E V A S e t a d the

Until circumstances allow, we will continue to have online events via the Zoom platform. In addition to our regular forum and open for business events we will be having a number of seminars and workshops. Please vist the events page of our website regularly to see these.

London Open for Business Program Check the Wandsworth Chamber Events page for Details Wandsworth Business Forum

Connect with Wandsworth Council and Experts for Regular Business Recovery Updates EVERY WEDNESDAY (Until further notice) 11 AM to 12.30PM Venue: ONLINE Registration Link:

For further details go to 32 | Business Connexions



to new members Addicted2Life Sean Gay 32 Cannon Close, Raynes Park, South West London SW20 9HA

Arora Digital Ltd Sandeep Arora 20-22 Wenlock Road, Wenlock Road, London N1 7GU

Escale Dawn Ltd Claude Parfait 248 York Road, Office 321, Battersea, London SW11 3SJ

Gazette Restaurants Walter Lecocq Gazette, 79 Sherwood Court, Chatfield Road, London SW11 3UY

Halogen Thinking Limited Laura Halliday 25 Cicada Road Wandsworth London SW18 2NN

H&Hendricks LLP Ashley Bancroft 33 St James’s Square, St James’s, LondonSW1Y 4JS 020 7873 2247

Iris Virtual Assistants Jennifer Smalley 116 Strathdon Drive, Tooting, London SW17 0PP

Life Force Hub CIC Jason Maskell 27 Seymour Road, Wandsworth, London SW18 5JB

Wellbeing Centre London Lenka Hanzelova Hurlingham Studios, Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PA

Starting Up... Clare Mayell Projects that Deliver Q1 In no more than 50 words tell us a bit about your business?

A female-led consultancy, Projects that Deliver provides command-and-control project delivery to rescue stuck and failing projects for firms in London. We work on delivering change for your business or your clients. We know how to get projects done well - on time, on budget and to scope.

Q2 What gives your business ‘the x-factor’? Our focus, clarity and commitment as a boutique consultancy who are not afraid of challenges. We are challenging the traditional model of project management. Unlike single contractors or large firms with excess resource they need to deploy, our key focus is on trouble shooting projects and assessing precisely what is required. The team will work to provide only what you need, for the length of time you need it.

Q3 What motivated you to set up in business? I realised after talking with friends and business colleagues that a lot of projects have got stuck this year. It’s been particularly difficult with Coronavirus. My experience working with soft skills and making the most of technology encouraged me to take the leap.

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

Drawing on my connections and experience in the industry to develop my outstanding team. There is a new collaborative approach to work and the way forward is with resourceful individuals with specialist skills.

Q5 What has been your greatest business success to date?

Being recognised as a force for positive disruption in project management.

Q6 What has been your lowest moment? The biggest challenge has been the difficulty meeting prospective clients solely online. I like to establish a good relationship with my clients and it takes a bit longer remotely.

Q7 In terms of business achievements, where do you want to be within the next year 5 years? Our five year plan is primarily to help our clients remove roadblocks to their success, but also to develop the company so that all members of the team are working in ways that suit their lifestyle and expertise. We aim to develop our reputation for delivering excellent project management to help companies grow.

Q8 What would be your top tip to someone

thinking of starting up their own business? There will be scary moments as you progress, but growing your own business is very rewarding… and a lot of fun. If you have a good idea – just go for it. The effort you put in your start-up will pay back.

Business Connexions | 33 Business Connexions | 33


minutes with ... Aled Richards-Jones

Councillor on Wandsworth Borough Council Q Who are you?

Q Three words to describe yourself?

I serve as a councillor on Wandsworth Borough Council, representing Northcote Ward in Battersea and also serving in the Council’s executive as the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Skills and Employment. I serve as a councillor alongside my day job as a lawyer specialising in intellectual property law.

Energetic, hardworking, curious.

Q What’s your Council role all


My executive role is about leading the Council’s efforts to support businesses across Wandsworth and to ensure our residents have the skills and training to help them get on in life. I took up this role shortly after the first lockdown ended. The challenges have been vast but incredibly rewarding. During and after the first lockdown, we processed over £58m of business support grants, pedestrianised three of our High Streets on a trial basis to allow our hospitality businesses to offer al fresco dining, and put together a programme of tailored business support to help our businesses weather the pandemic. We have expanded our successful “Work Match” jobs brokerage service with an expanded aim of securing job placements for residents who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. The second lockdown has brought a further set of business support grant schemes for the Council to implement and a need to devise ways of helping our Borough’s businesses to recoup lost trade in what would have otherwise been a crucial period. When the second lockdown ends, our focus will be to support the Christmas trading period with our “Shop Local” campaign, and to help get as many independent businesses as possible trading online. My role is to represent residents and businesses and to set the Council’s strategic priorities in my portfolio’s areas. I am supported by an incredibly talented set of professional Council officers who implement our policies.

Q Best thing about the business community in Wandsworth? The community’s resilience, creativity, and tenacity in the face of the pandemic has been inspiring. Whilst times have been unavoidably tough for many businesses, they have shown a flexibility and flair for innovation that fills me with confidence for a strong recovery. Here are just some examples of what’s going on: Uncommon, a cafe on Northcote Road, was forced to close at the start of the lockdown but saw that there would be an increased demand for quality, affordable bikes - so they took “Velobello”, a beautiful range of robust bikes, from conception to end product in under 4 months! Tribe Time, a cafe on Garrett Lane, had the idea of offering a cafe where adults could enjoy great coffee and nibbles whilst the kids could play in a top-quality soft play centre - they’ve adapted and made their soft play area covid-secure. Get Set Go is a new gym in Putney due to open in January 2021, offering fitness facilities for the whole family under one roof - despite the economic conditions, they have made substantial investment in their premises including a state-of-the-art swimming pool.

Q Biggest achievement? Our summer High Street pedestrianisation trials on Northcote Road, Old York Road and Bedford Hill surpassed all our expectations. A Council survey showed that trade was up 30% on average on those streets compared to the previous year, and over 100 jobs had been secured through employees being defurloughed

“My role is to represent residents and businesses and to set the Council’s strategic priorities in my portfolio’s areas. I am supported by an incredibly talented set of professional Council officers who implement our policies.” 34 | Business Connexions

or new positions being created. Many longestablished businesses told us the policy had quite literally saved their businesses from the hit they had taken during lockdown. Those trials have given us an insight into a new consumer demand for more pedestrianised commercial spaces, and we are currently working up some long-term plans for the Borough.

Q Biggest gripe? It might be a bit of a cliche for a politician to say this, but it is sad fact that we are living in an age of heightened cynicism towards politicians and politics. I stood for election to the Council because I believe that government - at every level - can be a force for good, and I have seen that in my roles both as a ward councillor and Cabinet Member. It concerns me that good, talented people could be put off public service because of current attitudes to politics.

Q Your working philosophy? You get out what you put in.

Q Sporting hero? Sepp Herberger - the manager of the West Germany national team which won the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Bern. Herberger’s achievement was enormous - he built a national team from scratch (1954 was West Germany’s first entry into the World Cup) and he engineered victory both by his selection of players and innovative attack strategy (the “Herberger whirl”). West Germany’s victory was so impressive and unexpected that it is still known in Germany today as the “Wunder von Bern”.

Q Biggest tip for success? Don’t confuse visions and strategies: a vision indicates where you want to go, whereas a strategy outlines how you are going to get there. The best strategies are considered evaluations of the obstacles in your path and how you are going to deal with them. Many businesses, lawyers, and politicians stumble because their strategies are simply restatements of their visions: the result is that they are relying on vision alone to propel them to success.

Are you ready to restart in 2021?

2020 was a tough year for small business owners. What plans do you have for your business in 2021? Hindsight is 2020 In 2020, covid19 lockdowns disrupted the day-to-day running of businesses. The pandemic shifted owners to focus on survival as their businesses struggled to sell their goods and services. Words like social distancing, BBILs, CBILs, and furlough became part of our daily conversations. Staff shifted to working from home and connecting to the office via Zoom calls. Working from home was the biggest shift in 2020 and this new way of working will be the model of the future. A mix of office and home working will create a happier workforce. These changing practices mean you will need new procedures and technology to support your staff. At the start of 2021, the arrival of approved vaccines brings hope of a stable environment, but this is unlikely at the start of the year. For your business to grow and thrive, now is the time to assess your long-term goals. Focusing on your strategy in the post-Covid economy is a critical activity. Put aside time to develop your plans for 2021. What do the new ways of working mean to your business plans?

Where next for small businesses? The start to 2021 is likely to be frantic. At the time of writing, there are fewer than 20 working days to the end of the EU Transition. A boost to the UK economy may come from a surge in spending as consumers look to spend money saved up during the lockdown periods. This presents an opportunity for businesses to position themselves to support this pent-up demand. With or without a trade deal between the UK and the EU, for 2021 there will be an estimated 220 million customs declarations to complete. Businesses who export or import to the EU should contact their local chamber for specialist advice about completing international trade documentation.

Your suppliers are key partners. If you are dealing with suppliers based in Europe, prices are likely to rise as they cover their costs. A No-Deal exit will introduce new tariffs and increased prices from your suppliers. Have you checked with your suppliers to assess the impact of Brexit on their prices?

Invest in your business Are you a constant planner? To grow and thrive as a business in 2021 now is the time to sit down and write up your business plans. Small businesses with a UK presence can shift their focus and explore ways to recover. There will be diverse ways of doing business. You need to spend time investigating options that will rebuild your customer relationships. Decide what makes your business different from the competition. Quality and reliability for your customers may be a key factor. Using new channels to market your business is one way to remind customers of your service. A targeted marketing campaign for existing customers will remind them of your qualities. You can use testimonials from existing clients to attract new customers. You can target businesses unhappy with their existing provider using this approach. To stand out from the competition, you could consider an online presence to market your goods. Investing in a shift to a mix of online and physical presence will open new opportunities. As an example, one client, a plumber’s merchant, now offers an online order book. This solution lets the merchant display prices and stock to trade and retail clients. Clients visiting the website can reserve stock at competitive prices. The website also allows clients to arrange a time to collect their goods from your store. Customers know that the goods they want are available and can collect items when needed. This increases their appeal to new and existing customers.

Get to know your customers better For a business wanting to deliver a highquality service, investing in technology is a key part of your strategy. Developing solutions like an online order book for our plumber led to an increase in customer satisfaction. This technology offers a two-way benefit to you and your customers. A simplified sign-up process made it easier to add new clients to the customer database. Offering an online order book lead to existing customers increasing their orders. The technology solution automated activities such as billing, credit control, and inventory management. This reduced the time spent by the owner on their office admin activities. In turn, the owner had more time to focus on delivering high-quality customer service. The technology investment resulted in existing customers spending more per visit in the store. The owner could also track the number of new customers per month and their total spend. Access to this client data enabled the owner to show the return on their investment. Bespoke technology solutions are a cost-effective way to invest in your business growth. This approach lets you specify a solution that supports your strategy and meets the quality requirements of your service. The benefits gained from you offering higher quality customer service outweigh the upfront cost of a bespoke solution.

Get planning Be prepared for a frantic start to the year. Businesses that focus on developing their strategy in the first part of 2021 are more likely to succeed as the year progresses. Owners need to invest in their business plans. This will differentiate your service and your products from your competitors. You will stand out from the pack. Understanding your business goals leads to a clear understanding of the technology solutions you need. Data is key to supporting these solutions. Understanding your clients offers insights into how you can exceed customer expectations. Invest in your strategic planning now and restart your business growth.

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