Business Connexions March 23

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The changing face of the high street. Page 4


Marc Newey, CEO of Roehampton Club, talks about his exclusive members’ club give back to the community. Page 14


Gareth Morris, Head of Operations, Access Self Storage. Page 18


Bringing Wandsworth together on climate change in 2023. Page 26

Official Magazine for Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce | Issue 21 | March 2023
New Audiences and Spaces Page 9
Bringing Opera to

Welcome to the latest Edition of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce Magazine

If you think about what the word “spring” means, such as “to arise from” and “move or jump suddenly or rapidly upwards and forwards”, maybe it’s not just the time for us to arise from the cold and dark winter but also to look at it as a positive season for growth and development in business. That we tap into the positive energy of renewal and regrowth found in nature, to focus on revitalising our resolve and energy to pursue our business ambitions.

Welcome to the March edition of the Business Connexions magazine.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe we are in March already. The year is flying by! A stark reminder to make sure we are making the most of every day if we are going to achieve what we want to in 2023.

It’s great to be entering the wonderful Spring season though, where days are getting longer, the weather warmer, and the trees and flowers starting to bloom.

Inside: March 2023

At Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, the shoots of growth have already started and the potential for the Chamber to bloom this year are clear to see. We had a good start to the year, with many new members and well attended events including lots of visitors who are also considering joining, so we are now firmly on a growth trajectory having fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic, which is an exciting prospect and will be beneficial for all members.

This season is also key as we will be taking the final steps to bring back the Wandsworth Business Awards on 20th June – the penultimate day of Spring. It seems apt that at the end of this special season, that represents growth, we can celebrate the business resilience that has gotten us through

the tough times and recognise some of the fantastic businesses in the Borough who demonstrate that if we keep pushing great things can be achieved. We hope to see you there.

If you are not signed up to the Wandsworth chamber mailing list to receive updates on this and all of our events, please go to https://www.wandsworthchamber. org/join-mailing-list

On another note, we will soon be starting to email the Wandsworth Chamber database with member offers and jobs vacancies, so if you are a member please make sure your business profile on the directory is as you want it to be and add any member offers or jobs you’re recruiting for.

If you are not a member and would like to find out more about membership then please do contact to arrange a chat.

Here’s wishing you a successful Spring. Make every day count!


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Publisher Benham Publishing Limited, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ

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Published March 2023

© Benham Publishing

Editor David Burrows


Advertising and Features Karen Hall


t: 0151 236 4141

Studio Mark Etherington


Media No.1935


Business Connexions is mailed without charge to all Chamber members and distributed to businesses in the Borough.

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Business Connexions | 3
The Big Interview 14 4-6 Spring in the High Street Patron Focus 16-17 Economy Richard Burge 9 Business Awards 18 22-23 Skills 24 Economy 26-27 Environment 29 Chamber Events 30 News 31 Health & Wellbeing 32 New Members 33 Starting Up 34 5 Minutes with... Cover Image: Rogue Opera Production Photo Singer Jevan McAuley. Photo Credit: Cristina Schek 2019 Don Giovanni 10 News 11 Legal 12 Battersea

Spring in the High Street

The face of the high street is ever changing and with many well-loved names falling by the wayside over recent years, towns across the country have struggled to fill some of those big, empty units.

To transform the high street until empty units are brought back into use, Putney has creatively transformed the high street’s visages using art. Historic images of Putney have been projected onto the window fronts using vinyls.

The high street has seen a rise in artisan independent retailers offering an oldschool traditional specialist store - harking back to the days of visiting the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer - with a contemporary twist. The appetite for artisan delis, coffee shops and quirky bars

is continuing to rise. And, with people’s desire to work a hybrid model, there has also been a rise in co-working spaces. Other new businesses moving into the area include fitness gyms and restaurants.

There is a lot to be excited about in our area as we move into spring. The King’s Coronation in May will be celebrated with a host of special events including a Big Lunch in Putney and a Coronation Trail in Clapham Junction. Other highly anticipated events this spring include the St John’s Hill Late Spring Festival and the University Boat Race.

There is certainly plenty going on this Spring to put a spring in your step.

Wandsworth Town

The arrival of established and emerging businesses in SW18 has delivered a boom for the town centre.

2023 started on a high when BrewDog opened its doors at Southside Wandsworth, Garratt Lane. The craft beer connoisseurs’ latest London venture serves a dazzling array of beers, including their hugely popular Lost Lager and a selection of fun flavours - pecan and toffee stout, anyone? You can even book a hot desk and enjoy co-working with unlimited tea or coffee before cooling off with a refreshing complimentary pint at the end of the working day.

4 | Business Connexions SPRING IN THE HIGH STREET

BrewDog Wandsworth also boasts an impressive menu, serving everything from burgers and wings to vegan and vegetarian options, and their celebrated boozy bottomless weekend brunch. As well as being dog-friendly, BrewDog also hosts Dog Pawties - that’s right, parties for your pooch!

The popular co-working hub HomeWork launched their Wandsworth Town base at Ram Quarter, offering flexible office solutions for small businesses and startups as well as a refreshing alternative to working from home.

HomeWork offers fixed desks, hot desks, meeting rooms, studio space, printing, high-speed WiFi, and more, at flexible rates, including a pay-as-you-go-option. We also have it on good authority that HomeWork’s baristas serve a mean cup of coffee to help fuel your day.

Speaking of coffee, a caffeine powerhouse has joined the ranks in Wandsworth Town - Black Sheep Coffee. The popular coffee chain opened at Southside shopping centre, bringing their delicious 100% specialty grade Robusta coffee, tasty Norwegian waffles, fresh-baked pastries, and smoothies.

More information on the new arrivals, including interviews with the people in the know, can be found at

The latest additions to the neighbourhood join a community of popular eateries, watering holes, and entertainment complexes in the town centre, firmly cementing SW18 as a top London destination for people of all ages. And we haven’t even revealed details of our upcoming events.

Follow us @wandsworthtown to be among the first to find out what’s coming up.


Positively Putney have been working with landlords with empty units in Putney Town Centre and excited to present ‘Putney in the Past.’ We would all prefer to have the units occupied but whilst the landlords are waiting on planning applications, development finance or a new tenant we have taken the opportunity to share wonderful historic images of what Putney town centre has looked like over the last 200 years displaying them on the vinyls on the windows. The historic images have all been sourced from Wandsworth Heritage Library, and the modern ones are either Positively Putney owned or by local photographer Andrew Wilson. Come and have a look for yourself, they really are a treat.

The University Boat Race is this year on Sunday 26th March. Always a great day in the Putney calendar – cheer on your favourite crew from the start of the race and then watch the remaining race

and celebrate in one of our wonderful hospitality businesses. They are all offering Boat Race specials. Or join the Boat Race Party with live music and stage compered by Riverside Radio in Church Square, just off Putney High Street from midday to 7pm.

The weekend of 1st and 2nd April is Citizens Art Market, also in Church Square. Local artists will be displaying their art and it will be available to purchase. Putney School of Art and Design will also be open to the public on Sunday 2nd April.

Putney will be celebrating the King’s Coronation. On Sunday 7th May, we will be organising a Putney Celebration Big Lunch, and on Monday 8th May, there is a Big Help Out event. Look out for further details as to how you can get involved.

For the latest information on what’s happening in Putney visit our website or follow us on social media.

The latest additions to the neighbourhood join a community of popular eateries, watering holes, and entertainment complexes in the town centre, firmly cementing SW18 as a top London destination for people of all ages.

Clapham Junction

Christmas was a busy trading period in Clapham Junction and the BID showcased over ten festive events, including two Christmas Switch-On spectaculars at Clapham Junction and on Northcote Road, and eight smaller costume-character-led events – raising the profile of The Junction and its fantastic businesses and engaging residents and visitors. A series of new Christmas streetlight decorations and LED tree light installations also created a warm and welcoming ambience across the BID footprint.

The BID now looks forward to an equally busy spring, with the continuation of our popular My Local Bobby Scheme – with two street wardens working directly with BID businesses to tackle anti-social behaviour and shoplifting (amongst other projects) and on the ground to offer friendly help and guidance to residents and visitors when shopping in The Junction. This runs alongside ongoing initiatives such as additional street cleansing and graffiti removal across the BID footprint.

Stunning seasonal colours will soon blossom across the locale as part of our LivingPillars™ – a Clapham Junction BID scheme, designed to encourage biodiversity across Clapham Junction whilst enhancing the neighbourhood, featuring sustainable planting on local lampposts.

In May, to celebrate The Coronation of The King and The Queen Consort, The BID will run a Coronation Trail – an augmented reality story trail which is a free and fun way for families to discover our Clapham Junction businesses.

That month also features the St John’s Hill Late Spring Festival (Sunday, 21 May) which replaces last year’s autumn event (sadly cancelled due to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s death). Festival fun includes: themed areas for the different business sectors; pop-up stalls; street food, arts and crafts, competitions, a fitness area, costume characters, magical stilt-walkers,

jugglers and live music, buskers and DJs from Riverside Radio.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and we look forward to welcoming F45, a new fitness hub on St John’s Hill in March, which features a mix of circuit and hiit-style workouts, completed in forty-five minutes. Albion & East (an all-day restaurant and bar) and Third Space (the luxury awardwinning fitness gym) will also be opening within the iconic Arding & Hobbs building (alongside its major work and social space) which is currently under renovation.

Looking ahead to summer, the Northcote Road Summer Festival returns on July 16th with the big screen, showcasing the Wimbledon Men’s Final. Alongside Northcote Road’s wealth of independent retail shops and superb selection of hospitality outlets, visitors will be treated to entertainment, activities and market stalls.

Throughout 2023, The BID will continue to work hard to showcase the rich diversity of our retail, hospitality, beauty and fitness, entertainment and service businesses which give Clapham Junction its distinct identity and unique character. Marketing activity includes advertising and editorial in the local press, radio, poster campaigns, organic and paid social media advertising, newsletters, dedicated blog pages, leaflet drops to households across the BID footprint and engaging content on The Junction BID’s website,

6 | Business Connexions
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Throughout 2023, The BID will continue to work hard to showcase the rich diversity of our retail, hospitality, beauty and fitness, entertainment and service businesses which give Clapham Junction its distinct identity and unique character.
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DON’T MISS this amazing OPERA-tunity!

The countdown is on for the first Wandsworth Business Awards in three yearsand it is an OPERA-tunity not to miss!

The popular business awards will feature live music from opera aficionados Rogue Opera who will finish their performance with a rousing rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. The aria ends with the line ‘I will be victorious’, a fitting tribute to all our members after recent turbulent times.

There are so many OPERA-tunities at the business awards.

There is the OPERA-tunity to win an award. There is the OPERA-tunity to sponsor an award.

And, of course, there is the OPERA-tunity to attend the awards and enjoy an evening celebrating resilience and achievement across the borough, food, networking and a disco to dance the night away.

Beverley Corson, chief executive of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, is encouraging members to attend the event regardless of being nominated or shortlisted.

“Business leaders have been on an emotional rollercoaster in the last three years, first Covid and then the more recent economic problems,” she said.

“Opera is a great way to touch people’s emotions and it can be hugely powerful and uplifting.”

Bronwen Stephens-Harding and her team at Rogue Opera bring opera to new audiences and unconventional spaces.

“This is a fantastic OPERA-tunity for our members to enjoy an evening of opera music, while championing local business leaders,” added Beverley.

“Performing arts businesses were some of the last businesses to open up after lockdown so they really encapsulate the theme of resilience that these awards are all about.”

The business awards are a “great PR OPERA-tunity not just for the winners in each category but for those who have been named finalists”.

“With so many companies competing, being shortlisted is a great achievement and is certainly something to promote,” added Beverley.

“But time is running out for entries to be submitted, so don’t miss this exciting OPERA-tunity.”

The award categories are:

• Apprentice of the Year

• Business Owner/Entrepreneur of the Year

• Diversity and Inclusivity Champion

• Retailer or Hospitality Venue of the Year

• Best Customer Service

• Best Start Up Business

• Innovation

• Wandsworth Community Hero

• Environmental/Sustainability Champion

• Best SME Business

• Best Large Business

• Health and Wellbeing Award

Business Connexions | 9 BUSINESS AWARDS
Enter or nominate at Closing date for entries is 31st March 2023.

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

Plans to support cycling commuters moving forward in Nine Elms

Plans for a new cycle route through Nine Elms are moving forward.

Transport for London has published a report on its consultation into a scheme to make it easier to walk and cycle on Battersea Park Road in Nine Elms, with 60% strongly supporting the new cycling infrastructure.

The changes will bring a mix of protected and mandatory cycle lanes to the area, as well as improvements to Queenstown Road junction and improved pedestrian crossings.

The work is being funded by Wandsworth Council and local developers.

“We’re determined to ensure that everyone in London is able to walk and cycle safely and these changes will be an important new addition to the capital’s network of highquality cycleways, as well as making it easier to walk and cross this busy road,” said Helen Cansick, TfL’s head of healthy streets investment.

The plans include 150m of protected cycle tracks with physical segregation; improvements at Queenstown Road junction so cyclists can move off before general traffic; dedicated cycle lanes guiding people across the junction going both east and west; a cycle gate for people cycling eastbound; new 20mph limits along the whole of Battersea Park Road; improved ‘straight across’ pedestrian crossings at the junctions with Queenstown Road and Prince of Wales Drive; new bus shelters featuring real time bus information for stops serving Battersea Park Station; one-way entry to Meath Street from Battersea Park Road; and the relocation of existing loading and parking arrangements from the main road to side roads.

Feedback from the consultation revealed that 67% believed the scheme would encourage many or some more people to cycle, with 53% saying the same about walking. It also showed that 60% of respondents strongly supported the proposed new cycling infrastructure.

Join Power to Connects vision to end the digital divide in Wandsworth!

Set up in partnership between Wandsworth Council and Battersea Power Station, Power to Connect was originally launched to get devices out to digitally excluded families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Power to Connect now has a long-term plan to tackle digital exclusion to ensure that no one gets left behind through lack of hardware, digital skills or confidence.

To find our more information on Power to Connects Corporate Sponsorship Programme, please contact megan@ or call 07934 553192 @PWRtoConnect

10 | Business Connexions NEWS
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.
Image: Pixabay
Since April 2020, Power to Connect have recycled and rehomed over 2,300 devices in Wandsworth. Power to Connect is aiming to collect a further 450 devices by May 2023, in time for its third birthday. If you or your company have any unused devices, please get in touch.

Retail tenants on Central London’s prime retail streets are set to see £96 million slashed from their business rate bills signalling a huge boost for the sector. The new rates are set to come into force on 1st April 2023 following the announcement of the £13.6 billion government support package in last years’ Autumn statement. This move is seen as a welcome relief for struggling retail tenants.

Business rates are charged on all nonexempt, non-domestic properties such as shops, offices, and warehouses. The standard position in leases is that the tenant is responsible for the payment of such rates. Rates are based on the underlying value of the property and can be a significant burden for retailers. The current business rates are based on values from April 2015 and therefore do not reflect the current values in the retail sector. The high street has faced significant challenges in recent years, with the rise of online shopping and changing consumer habits leading to a decline in footfall and sales. This coupled with the pandemic has resulted in retail values plummeting. The government has committed to three yearly revaluations from 2023, a move that will help business rates reflect actual market conditions and be relevant.

According to research from Knight Frank, retailers with shops on Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Kensington High Street, King’s Road, Knightsbridge and in Covent Garden are set to see the biggest cuts of 30%, paying an estimated £222 million in business rates in the financial year to April 2024.

Oxford Street in particular will welcome the relief following the loss of a number of high profile tenants such as Debenhams, House of Fraser and Top Shop that once attracted mass numbers of shoppers. The reduction in business rates will make it easier for retailers to stay afloat and reinvest in their businesses, attracting more customers to the high street, a boost in sales and economic growth.

According to CBRE, operators are starting to trade well and make money again on Oxford Street, which is fuelling other retailers’ appetite to get a piece of the action. This coupled with a cut in business rates leads to a bright outlook for one of London’s most desirable shopping haunts. Whilst business rates have been crippling for retailers in recent years, they have also been barriers for international brands. The cut in rates could be the catalyst required to see an international brands setting up shop or to existing brands extending their portfolios.

Whilst crippling to tenants, landlords’ have also felt the pain of business rates. With more and more shop closures and limited windows for relief, landlords have looked for ways to limit their exposure.

Methods include short term lets and leases to charities who take on responsibility for rates. On occasions where such occupiers cannot be sourced, the cuts will alleviate the burden.

The benefits for retail tenants are not confined to tax cuts. Having ridden the wave of re-gears during the pandemic acquisitions are back on back on the horizon. The legal world is seeing the emergence of more and more innovative ways of structuring incentives and rent frees to protect ever important cash flow. Turnover rents, either as a ‘top up’ with a reduced base rent or in place of a base rent are also a much more common feature of retail leases; sharing the risk and reward of success (or failure) of a tenant’s business. Furthermore, average lease terms are currently a fraction of what they were and break rights are common. These mechanisms can be utilised to structure a lease so as to minimise tenant exposure to fluctuating market conditions.

Store driven retailers have been forced to change by rapidly changing, and at times hostile, market conditions in recent years. The upcoming business rate cuts together with considered legal drafting can hopefully support the re-emergence of our high streets.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Katie Cooper in the Russell-Cooke real estate team.

Business Connexions | 11 +44 (0)20 8789 9111 LEGAL Katie Cooper Direct Phone: +44 (0)20 8394 6558 Email: BUSINESS RATE CUTS AND INNOVATIVE LEGAL DRAFTING: a brighter picture for retail tenants
leading shopping streets

NOBULL to open first permanent concept store in Europe at Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station announced that global training brand, NOBULL, will open its first permanent concept store in Europe in the newly restored Grade II* listed Power Station, which opened its doors to the public on 14th October 2022 alongside Electric Boulevard, a new pedestrianised high street for London. Founded in Boston in 2015, NOBULL is a footwear, apparel and accessory brand with a strong global community.

NOBULL will be located in the Power Station’s Turbine Hall B, which was completed in the 1950s and has more of a brutalist, industrial look and feel, the new Training Club will be a disruptive experiential concept

store, allowing the NOBULL community to engage with the brand in new, hands-on ways. True to the NOBULL ethos, the Training Club will be designed with thoughtful simplicity, intended to be approachable and functional. It will be a hybrid space seamlessly blending equal parts shopping, cafe, town hall and functional training space.

NOBULL will have a diverse calendar of events at Battersea Power Station that will allow the community to train together, socialize with other fitness enthusiasts, and attend a variety of workshops.

To keep up with the latest news and events at Battersea Power Station visit www.batterseapowerstation

12 | Business Connexions
Global training brand, NOBULL, will open its first permanent concept store in Europe at Battersea Power Station

Giving back to the community

When Marc Newey became Chief Executive of Roehampton Club 15 years ago, he said the exclusive members’ club was quite “introverted” and didn’t play as much of a part of the local community as he would have liked.

The Club, which opened in 1901, is a multisports and social club next to Richmond Park and boasts an 18-hole golf course, 28 tennis courts, two padel tennis courts, gym and fitness studios, swimming pools, six squash courts and four croquet lawns, as well as hosting a range of activities including art and photography, a choir, bridge, backgammon, snooker and chess.

It is a private members’ club owned by the Members and has a “formal on court, informal off court” ethos and is so popular, it has a four-year waiting list counting several wellknown faces in the sporting and music world amongst its members.

Starting his sports management career with Leicester City Council, Marc knew how important it was to have a good relationship with the local council.

“I felt we weren’t giving back enough to our community in Roehampton or to Wandsworth,” said Marc.

“Roehampton ward has a number of areas of deprivation but also has affluent housing areas as well and many of these people are our members. We’re a wealthy club and members understand how privileged we are and many want to give something back.”

Marc became a member of Roehampton Partnership 12 years ago to try to help the community shape a productive relationship with Wandsworth Council.

“You need to promise and deliver on what you say you’re going to do,” he said.

“The community doesn’t trust any organisation unless you can do that. Roehampton University and the Club are two of the biggest employers in the area and we try to support the community as best we can, because it is the right thing to do. The Club has allocated a fund to help local community projects and we have spent thousands over the last few years

helping local community projects. We ask the community what they need most and help in any way we can with funds and expertise.”

One of the Club’s Board directors, Michael Hill, set up a charity, Rackets Cubed, to enhance the long-term achievement of children through racket sports, education and nutrition. Roehampton Club was one of the first venues for the scheme, which has been rolled out across London and now UK wide.

“He asked me if I liked the idea of the Club hosting the charity and I said yes, but it had to be with local Roehampton children, so we teamed up with Sacred Heart, The Alton School and Heathmere Schools,” said Marc.

“It helps local disadvantaged children to become more active, helps them with maths and we provide a nutritious tea to finish. They walk down to the club with their teachers and use our facilities for squash and tennis tuition provided by our coaches, maths tutoring funded by the charity and then we provide tea free of charge. The kids love the run-around, their maths performance has shot through the roof and they love the food. It teaches young people to win graciously, lose graciously and have fun- no one gets left out, every child contributes.”

The charity launched the Roehampton Community Box in March 2020 to support families during the pandemic and Roehampton members continue to donate food and toiletries to the cause.

He also “argues on behalf of Roehampton residents” at local meetings to speed up the ongoing Alton area regeneration scheme. “I’m on the outskirts of it to be fair but I really want to help, it appeals to my community spirit,” he said.

Roehampton Club has been a patron of the Chamber for several years. The club, which has 5,000 members comprising 4,000 adults and 1,000 juniors, has hosted the Business Awards three times and a summer reception is planned.

“Hosting the Chamber helps to showcase the club to the local business community” he added.

“It is a good way to boost membership and it shows off the beautiful venue and gardens as we hold weddings and receptions here too.

“We are very proud to have won UK Sports Club of the year many times, lastly in 2022, and hope the Roehampton Community and Wandsworth Chamber is proud of us as well”

14 | Business Connexions PATRON FOCUS
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Our patron Marc Newey, CEO of Roehampton Club, talks about how he and his exclusive members’ club give back to the community.
Roehampton University and the club are two of the biggest employers in the area and we try to support the community as best we can, because it is the right thing to do.

INSPIRING visit to Ukraine

Richard Burge has recently returned from an inspiring visit to Ukraine. Here he talks about what the visit meant to him and how new links with the country can mutually support business communities both in London and in Ukraine.

“It’s a very determined country,” said Richard.

“I have worked a lot in war zones –Afghanistan, Lebanon, territories in Africa – and what struck me about Ukraine is how much business is going on. They are simply getting on with it.

“There were two reasons for going. The first was to show solidarity with the business community of Ukraine through their Chambers of Commerce and the governance of the cities of Kyiv and Lviv. You can say a lot of nice things by Zoom but sometimes, you have to get on a plane, give people a hug, sit down with a vodka and talk.

“It’s not brave going to Ukraine; it’s more dangerous probably travelling around London.

“The second reason is Ukraine traded with Moscow in Russia and we want them to trade with London. It is the start of a campaign for London – with its glorious diversity - as the global city of choice for the business sector of Ukraine as they switch their focus from Russia to the West.”

16 | Business Connexions

Richard went to Ukraine with Andrew Marsden, City of London sheriff, Tom Sleigh, director of corporate affairs at the Bank of London, and Igor Bartkiv, Ukraine project officer at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

With no direct flights to Ukraine at present, the group travelled by train from the Polish border – a “sleeper train from Kyiv to Lviv is an adventure!”

The group spent eight days in the country and met the trade minister in Ukraine, other Government officials, the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the chair of the Women in Business group in Ukraine, and local business owners including IT and manufacturing.

“There are a lot of SMEs,” continued Richard.

“It is a very advanced country –technology, a lot of skills. They have certainly taken a leaf out of London’s gin-making book, vodka is seeing a resurgence. It’s a very encouraging industry.

“I am very encouraged by their determination and their way of getting on with it. Lviv Opera House continues to run four performances a week, which really takes your breath away.”

The MOU with the Ukraine Chamber of Commerce has been signed.

“This commits us to holding two significant trade events every year, one in the UK and one in Ukraine or Poland,” he said.

The trip was very successful, he added, and achievements included the continued development of the Liverpool/ London business event to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest; links between London and Lviv/Kyiv in the IT and digital sector, women in business and energy generation and trading; the commitment of the Barbican Centre to look for ways of promoting Ukrainian music and performance; and Ukrainian participation in the next Lord Mayor’s Show, which is sponsored by the City of London Corporation.

Initial steps have also been made to provide support and fundraising for the Unbroken project in Lviv for prosthetic limbs and post-trauma care. The Unbroken National Rehabilitation Centre provides care for adults and children affected by the war in Ukraine.

It is a very advanced country - technology, a lot of skills. They have certainly taken a leaf out of London’s gin-making book, vodka is seeing a resurgence. It’s a very encouraging industry.

GROWING STORAGE BUSINESS provides the space for other businesses to grow and shine

18 | Business Connexions BIG INTERVIEW

In fact, secure storage units range in size from the size of a locker to a football pitch so businesses have a range of options – and space to grow.

“Businesses can start with us and grow over a number of years,” said Gareth Morris, head of operations.

“You can take a mailbox, you can take an office and you can grow into a bigger office. Some people start with a small square footage, then a bigger square footage and then a warehouse. We have so many success stories within these walls.”

And Access Self Storage is enjoying its own growth spurt.

Established nearly 30 years ago, it hails from a time when everyone who started a business chose a name beginning with ‘A’ so it was first in the phone book.

It now has 61 stores nationwide – including in Battersea and Wandsworth – with new branches opening in Brentford, Streatham and Sydenham in the last two years. More new branches are in the pipeline.

All the newer buildings are “much bigger” than the older ones.

“Our new sites are generally much bigger than our existing portfolio,” said Gareth. “We generally offer a mix of storage and office space.”

Secure storage units range in size from the size of a locker to a football pitch. Parking, mailboxes, records management, vehicle storage, and storage by the box services with free delivery and collection are also available services across the UK. They also sell everything you need for storage including a range of cardboard and plastic boxes, tape, bubble wrap and padlocks.

Unfurnished office spaces range in size from 125 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft and are available for short or long-term rental.

The company has 250 employees across the storage sites and head office and is recruiting for more.

“We continue to grow,” said Gareth. “We have new site acquisitions ongoing to further grow the business.”

“We continue to recruit, it’s always a challenge, particularly for the entry level customer service assistant roles. We have increased our salaries across the board with a considerable uplift, which are exceptionally competitive.”

“We have expanded our training team to make sure we can focus on our customer service too.”

Gareth started his career at Access Self Storage 20 years ago in March. He was looking at a recruitment job post when the Access Self Storage advert for an assistant store manager caught his eye.

He soon moved up the ranks taking on the progressive roles of store manager, regional manager, operations manager and now head of operations. In his role, he looks at developing the systems and processes to make the business “more streamlined and efficient”.

“Storage industry is quite archaic in some ways and some of the business has been behind the times, but we have been able to develop the systems and processes to make it more streamlined and efficient and that’s what I have been highly involved in,” he said.

“We have been able to improve services and reduce costs and continue to drive the business forward.”

“A key change now in the business world is data and working with the data. We have tens of thousands of customers. We have thousands of enquiries every year. Across all our sites we churn over 100% of the customer base. We will get some people who stay there for a number of years. I use that data to help improve customer experience and the systems and processes.”

The firm also hold its own Access Business Awards with the first one held in 2014. Open to all the company’s customers, the award winner receives a prize worth just under £20,000 – storage value worth £14,000 and a marketing package worth £5,200.

Giving back to their loyal customers is something Gareth and his team are passionate about. During the Covid pandemic, the business provided a lot of credit to help customers through the crisis.

“If it was a business such as a pub or restaurant (who really struggled during the pandemic) we gave them credit and gave payment plans to others,” he said.

“It was our way to pay back to our most loyal customers.”

Business Connexions | 19 BIG INTERVIEW
Businesses can start small with Access Self Storage and move spaces as they grow.
❛❛ ❜❜
We continue to recruit, it’s always a challenge, particularly for the entry level customer service assistant roles. We have increased our salaries across the board with a considerable uplift, which are exceptionally competitive.
Gareth Morris Head of Operations

Start Up Wandsworth

January 26th marked the launch of Start Up Wandsworth, the new business support service for aspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups & established businesses in Wandsworth.

As a Start Up Wandsworth member, you will have access to:

3 Free 1-2-1 consultations with our business support manager

3 Free Expert led workshops

3 Affordable workspaces within our newly built business hub

3 Free Additional support and resources through the British Library’s BIPC (Business & Intellectual Property Center) local network For more information and to become a member email: or visit

We are delighted to deliver our second business week for aspiring entrepreneurs, established businesses and those in the business and personal finance industry between Monday 20th and Friday 24th March.

This business week will run across all 3 boroughs of the Start UP Program Bromley, Greenwich & Wandsworth.

The week will consist of a mixture of conferences, webinars, expert-led workshops, training sessions, business panels, business mentoring opportunities and a business pitch competition where businesses will have a chance to win £2,000, £1,000 and £500 of investment for their business to grow and develop.

For more information and for tickets to all the workshops email or visit


Expand your workforce Upskill your team

Tailor talent to your needs

Hiring an apprentice or upskilling an existing member of staff helps build a stronger workforce that is motivated, skilled and appropriately qualified to meet the needs of your business.

Apprentices come with all levels of experience: from school leavers to university graduates, from career changers to self-improvers. Hiring an apprentice is a cost-effective and exciting way to offer onthe-job training, enjoy higher staff retention, and build a culture of learning and development.

To find out more, email

Data from

Smaller employers are eligible for government funding which will pay between 95% and 100% of the apprentice training costs. Larger employers can use the levy to pay for training.

92% of companies that have taken on apprentices believe this leads to a more motivated and satisfied workforce
Croydon College | College Road, Croydon, CR9 1DX | 020 8686 5700 |

Be One Step Ahead

Unlock your workforce potential

Our free Business Partnership service is here to help support you and your business with:

• ACCESSING FUNDING and making the most of new government initiatives

• APPRENTICESHIPS from Level 2 to Level 6 (GCSE to Degree Level)

• EMPLOYEE TRAINING – upskilling and retraining of your employees using our extensive online and training packages

• LEVY SUPPORT and guidance.

You can place your trust in our exceptionally talented team, to build a bespoke plan that meets the specific needs of your business.




South Thames Colleges Group is the largest provider of college-based higher education in London and we are a recognised University Centre. We have a successful history of delivering first class University level courses in collaboration with our University partners. It is not too late to apply for a course if you have missed the UCAS deadline.

Our Undergraduate courses are flexible, competitively priced and an excellent alternative to University. Study locally full time or part time with our BTEC Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), Foundation Degrees and Honour Degrees in a diverse range of subjects.

Studying at STCG University Centre you can enjoy:

Teaching rather than lecturing

The advantage of having more time with your tutor is that they won’t just broadcast their knowledge, expecting you to scribble notes that you memorise later. Our tutors make sure that students understand the principles they are teaching, and how to apply them to everyday scenarios.

Smaller class sizes

Students are taught in class sizes that allow our tutors to give everyone the attention they deserve, giving students more opportunities for real and personalised feedback. The only downside? You won’t be able to hide at the back of a big lecture theatre, so make sure you have done the reading!

One-to-one support

Help is available if you have a learning difficulty, disability, or long-term medical condition. This includes disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, Asperger’s, hearing loss, visual impairments, and physical disabilities.

Lower tuition fees

We know student debt is a big issue for many people. That is why we have set our tuition fees at levels that are as affordable as possible. Most of our undergraduate students take advantage of student loans, which are available on all our HE (Higher Education) courses if you don’t want to pay fees upfront. Make sure you apply before enrolment.

Excellent employment prospects

All our students graduate with real life skills and a highly developed knowledge of their subject - and classmates turn into a readymade network of contacts in their sector. Our graduates are in demand in the local area and further afield!

We have a range of University Centre courses available across South Thames College, Kingston College, and Carshalton College.

To explore our range of courses please visit

If you have any questions regarding our courses, please contact Head of Higher Education Donna Pike

Augustus Mohan studied Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship at Kingston College, he spoke to us about how his course has helped him excel in his career as a Private Patients Deputy Service Manager at the NHS. Augustus commented, “The learning styles and different methods of teaching are excellent, the most enjoyable aspect will have to be learning the degree along with classmates from different sectors with the same goals. This course enabled me to both work and study at the same time.”

Business Connexions | 23
Business Connexions | 23
Augustus Mohan

Keep Your Workforce Safe and Stay Covid-Secure

What can you tell us about iSmart Business Solutions?

Furthermore, during the COVID-19 crisis. We understood that going forward there would be a need for companies to have a comprehensive health and safety management policy as well as strategies in place to combat air pollution and germ infection in the workplace. This is a vital strategy to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

Surely, we don’t need to have a strategy to protect us from the air – can’t we just open a window?

Unfortunately, we can’t just open a window especially during the winter months! Did you know that the air we breathe inside is 2 to 5 times dirtier than the air we breathe outside.

Think about it, inside there is bacteria, chemicals from cleaning products and odour from rubbish all in a confined space. Businesses have a duty of care to protect their employees, a good example of this is the Department of Education. They have supplied more than 300,000 carbon-dioxide monitors to schools to enable them to detect where airflow is restricted, and viruses may spread quicker. We can help you create a much healthier environment for your employees by providing you with the SmartSuite™. This suite of products, tools and services improve life in all indoor environments including businesses and schools.

To get started we would visit you and complete a survey of your premises to find out what you need to clean the air, we will then talk this over with you before arranging a suitable time to complete the installation.

Hybrid flexible working is needed to rebuild our economy

The new hybrid working guidance from the Flexible Working Taskforce has been welcomed by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).

As part of its involvement in the Flexible Working Taskforce, the CIPD has jointly produced practical guidance to support effective hybrid working.

The guidance focuses on people management; recruitment and induction; inclusion and fairness; and health, safety and wellbeing. It looks at providing training to managers on how to manage hybrid teams effectively, reviewing HR processes, keeping any hybrid working policies and principles under ongoing review – including the impact on workers with protected characteristics.

Commenting on the new guidance from the Flexible Working Taskforce, Jane Gratton,

BCC head of people policy, said: “Many businesses have experienced the benefits of staff working from home over the past 18 months and our research indicates three quarters of employers will continue to offer hybrid working going forward.

“This new guidance will help all employers to confidently implement and roll out hybrid working in a way that is fair and accessible to their workforce.

“Flexible working makes good business sense and is increasingly becoming a standard part of staff benefit packages. While remote working may not be practical for all job types, the wide range of other flexible working options that firms can consider opens the doors to new talent to fuel growth and rebuild our economy.”

Tell us more aboutSmartSuite™, what does it involve?

The SmartSuite™ range includes the SmartMister™, the SmartMister™ solution (HOCI) and the AeraMax®.


• Disinfects and kills 99.999% of all pathogens on contact.

• Comes in 3 different sizes – perfect for all areas

• Every indoor business that has multiple staff or products that need handling, would benefit from this solution. including: Offices, Warehousing, Food production, Clinics; Retail, Nurseries and Schools; the list can go on!

• Works with Alexa

Wandsworth Chamber fully supports flexible working where practical and possible and the new guidance from the Flexible Working Taskforce can only serve to smooth the transition for employers. It is hoped that the change in the policy that the Government has pledged to make so employees can apply from day one of their employment happens sooner rather than later.

24 | Business Connexions
David Fenton, Managing Director of iSmart Business Solutions. Based in the UK, iSmart Business Solutions use their professional experience and knowledge to offer a complete health and safety solution. They work with clients to find out exactly what they need and then create a bespoke, tailor-made package to suit your requirements. Visit : • Email:

Exciting new T Levels

T-levels are the new alternative to A Levels and Apprenticeships. Students will learn technical skills from leading local employers through an industry placement.

From 2023 we will be delivering T-levels at our brand new campus in buzzing Nine Elms Specialist areas include:

•Childcare & Education




If you are interested in offering a placement or would like more information email:

BRINGING WANDSWORTH TOGETHER on climate change in 2023

Comprehensive update to environment and sustainability strategy aims to capitalise on recent sustainability successes.

Plans to meet ambitious targets on climate change in Wandsworth are being stepped up in 2023, with everyone in the borough invited to play their part in the drive towards net zero –and reap the benefits.

Wandsworth’s Environment and Sustainability Strategy (WESS) has been comprehensively updated to include an action plan for 2023, which will move the borough towards its target of achieving net zero by 2043.

The plans for this year also aim to tackle inequality, by focusing on the most vulnerable people and areas most at risk in the borough.

The update should help to build on recent successes, including a drop in carbon emissions, both from the council and across the borough as a whole.

At the same time, it should keep everyone focused and maintain a sense of urgency to “meet the climate emergency”, as Judi Gasser, cabinet member for the environment explains.

“We’re making good progress but it’s vital that we step up the pace, working together as a borough,” said Councillor Gasser.

“We are making sure our partner organisations and residents get a voice through the Sustainability Partnership and Citizen’s Assembly, and we will continue to engage with local people through Brightside, social media, outreach events and other channels to ensure this is a journey we all go on together.”

In 2022, Wandsworth became the first inner-London authority – and one of only 122 cities and towns worldwide - to achieve a place on the CDP Cities A list for action on climate change.

Successes have included a new sciencebased target of achieving net zero by 2043, the new Wandsworth Sustainability Partnership, a new Walking and Cycling Strategy, more electric vehicle charging points and bike storage hangars, and a cargo bike hire scheme.

There are also plans to expand a successful food waste collection pilot scheme.

Work on cleaning up air quality and mitigating climate change is embedded across the council.

A Citizen’s Assembly in Air Quality, with recommendations feeding into a new Air Quality Action Plan will commence work this year.

Further work to decarbonise council procurement, buildings and vehicles and make council homes more energy efficient, as well as more walking and cycling infrastructure will take place in 2023.

The council also plans to install more electric vehicle chargers, with the aim of having nearly 3000 in the borough by 2030, as well as further decarbonising the council’s pension fund and carrying out better air quality monitoring.

Additional work with schools is also planned in 2023, in a bid to engage young people on climate change issues and develop the proposed School Superzone at St Mary’s Primary School in Nine Elms.

Wandsworth residents will benefit from more advice on cutting fuel bills, making their homes more energy efficient and how to recycle more and waste less.

A new framework for tree and woodland management and continued work to improve biodiversity, including programmes to get local people involved, is also planned. Climate mapping work to identify areas and communities most at risk is also targeted for completion in 2023.

Find out more about work to tackle the climate emergency at

26 | Business Connexions ENVIRONMENT

A-Plan Tooting’s bright idea sheds light on cost-of-living savings!

Do you know how much it costs to boil a full kettle versus just enough for a cup? Or the average cost of leaving the heating on overnight? Perhaps you need a new mobile phone and are about to ‘upgrade’? Maybe you would like to know how to drive for better fuel economy? Or maybe you could use an audit of your streaming services to save some money?

With the Energy Bills Support scheme ending in March, focus is back on how to balance the household ‘books’.

A-Plan Insurance has come up with a bright idea to help save clients almost £400,000 on energy bills, illustrating how even the smallest of changes can save a fortune!

A-Plan is giving away 10,000 Status energy saving bayonet lightbulbs with a free cost-of-living booklet – filled with handy tips and ideas.

Claire Gardner, A-Plan’s Head of Marketing Communications and Brand, came up with the scheme to help clients save now to build up credit for later: “We know that so many of our clients are concerned about the cost of energy bills and we want to show our clients that we are sensitive to that right now. While the £400 Government Energy Grant goes some way to help people until the end of March, we don’t yet know what’s coming.

“We have joined forces with some of our insurance partners and one hundred of A-Plan’s high street branches across the UK to give away 10,000 Status 9W LED bayonet lightbulbs – saving a combined £387,192 in energy usage in total.

Together on planning and sustainability

We will ensure the future buildings and developments by the council have a low or zero carbon footprint.

What we are doing

Actions we are taking on planning and sustainability:

• Reducing carbon emission from buildings by ensuring they are energy efficient.

• Working the organisations who meet high sustainability standards to develop new buildings.

• Implementing our Local Plan strategy which sets out spatial vision for Wandsworth and how it will be achieved.

What you can do

Actions you can take:

• Take actions to ensure that your home is energy efficient.

“It’s incredible to think that, just based on switching one standard light bulb for an energy saving lightbulb, someone leaving it on for eight hours a day, every day of the year, with a 34p per kWh tariff would spend £8.93 a year, versus a standard lightbulb which sets users back £59.56 a year. That’s over £50 savings per bulb! And, as we’re giving a pack of two away per person, the savings could even be doubled.”

With so many money and energy savings tips available online, A-Plan reviewed all the best information and compiled it into one handy sized book that may offer a few pointers you may not have considered before. The booklets are completely free of charge from 100 A-Plan branches now, including A-Plan Tooting (while stocks last).

• Recycle and reuse any construction waste you might have.

Outcomes of our actions

• Zero or low carbon will be emitted from new buildings in Wandsworth.

• Buildings that already exist will have carbon reduction measures put in place.

Further information visit

Business Connexions | 27 ENVIRONMENT


















28 | Business Connexions


SAVE the date


SCAN THE QR CODE ( with your phone camera to see our events and get them in your calendar app.


Connect with Wandsworth Council and Experts for REGULAR BUSINESS RECOVERY UPDATES

1st Wednesday of Every Month 9.30am -11am

Venue: ONLINE Registration Link:

• Wednesday 22nd March

Chamber Big Breakfast, Pestana Hotel from 8 - 10.30 am

• Wednesday 5th April

Wandsworth Business Forum 9.30 am, Online

• Wednesday 12th April

Wandsworth Chamber Networking in Clapham Junction at The Hannah 6 - 9 pm

• Wednesday 3rd May

Wandsworth Business Forum, Online 9.30 am

• Wednesday 10th May

Business Networking at the Earlsfield 6 - 9 pm

• Tuesday 16th May

Staffing Expo event at South Thames College with Roehampton University and Lifelong Learners 4 - 8 pm

• Wednesday 24th May

Chamber Big Breakfast, Pestana Hotel 8 - 10.30 am

• Wednesday 7th June

Wandsworth Business Forum, Online

• Wednesday 14th June

Business Networking in Clapham Junction at the Hannah 6 - 9 pm

Please visit the events page of our website regularly to see what’s on and why not join us as we network through 2023.

For further details go to

Business Connexions | 29

Mayor’s praise for Wandsworth Council film unit

Aglowing letter of praise from London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been received by Wandsworth Council’s film unit, following its support in the production of a Hollywood blockbuster.

The Mayor’s letter comes after City Hall was contacted by executives at Warner Brothers, who were delighted by the unit’s “outstanding support” during production of Magic Mike’s Last dance at Clapham Junction and Battersea Park.

The Mayor thanked Wandsworth Council for its fantastic efforts in supporting film production in London.

The Mayor wrote: “A member of the team behind the Warner Brothers major motion picture “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” has been in touch with my culture unit to say how outstanding your support for the production has been.

“In particular, your work in bringing together different parts of the council to help facilitate an ambitious exterior scene at the Clapham Grand was appreciated.”

The Mayor added that as the third biggest city for filmmaking in the world, London had a reputation for being a film-friendly city.

“Your work helps us attract productions to the capital and I am delighted that it has been recognised from within the industry,” he added.

“I would like to thank you and your colleagues for helping the shoot in Wandsworth.

“Thank you again for your support for London and its film industry.”

Wandsworth has long been a favourite filming location with Battersea Park a particularly popular choice for filmmakers, appearing in numerous feature films, TV dramas, adverts and publicity shoots.

The borough has been the location selected for a range of popular drama series including 24, New Tricks, Silent Witness, Above Suspicion, Killing Eve, The Bodyguard, Not Going Out and The Crown.

The income received from filming helps fund town hall services.

For every pound received by the council, it is estimated that another two pounds is generated for the wider economy with local shops, restaurants and hospitality businesses the main beneficiaries.

Council leader Simon Hogg said: “I’m pleased the Mayor has recognised the support we provide to this key British industry.

“All the money we generate from granting film licences is ploughed back into frontline services to help ease the burden on local taxpayers and provide a welcome boost to the wider local economy.”

The borough’s film office is based in Battersea Park and managed day-to-day by the council’s leisure and culture contractor Enable.

Wandsworth set for multi-million pound infrastructure improvements

Residents and businesses will also benefit from the installation of 100 new bike hangars, in addition to a new accessible entrance to Wandsworth Station.

Council leader Simon Hogg said the proposed schemes of work would make life better for residents – “all while keeping council tax low”.

“Everything we do as a council must and will focus on our overriding aim to make our borough fairer, compassionate and more sustainable,” he said. “Going forward we will make sure our investment plans reflect this so that we can create the borough our residents need and deserve.”

Schemes earmarked for funding this year include £5m to resurface pavements and roads, cycle lanes, key bus stops and bus lanes, with the aim of improving

safety and accessibility.This is in addition to the £3.5m rolling programme of footway and carriageway improvements.

Proposals for Totterdown Street to be pedestrianised and the area between the A24 and Blakenham Road turned into an outdoor space for the community to use have also been set out.

The council also aims to improve existing School Streets, which ban cars during drop-off and pick-up time, with infrastructure installed to make it harder for people to ignore the ban.

The council is also planning library improvements, including repairs to the roof and distinctive glass dome at Battersea Library and the refurbishment of Balham Children’s Library.

Furzedown Recreation Ground is also set to be improved, with new play equipment for children.

South London Swimming Club (SLSC) publicises plans for Tooting Bec Lido

staged an exhibition to promote its plans to further enhance facilities at the popular Tooting Bec Lido.

The club has been working with WR-AP Architects to develop a series of proposals that would improve visitor facilities at the pool’s shallow end changing area and in the lido’s café.

These include a new entrance with improved security, a more flexible café, accessible from the common as well as the pool, more toilets and showers and a club room for winter use.

Judi Gasser, Wandsworth Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “The South London Swimming Club is an important and valued partner in our work to improve and safeguard the future of our wonderful lido.”

She added the exhibition gave local people a chance to find out more about the club’s plans “to enhance and support the work we are doing to preserve and protect the lido for many decades to come”.

If approved, the proposals would further enhance the lido, complementing the council’s current and ongoing £3.8m refurbishment of the much-loved open-air pool, which is designed to safeguard its future for the next half century. This involves the replacement of the existing pumphouse, which controls the pool’s water supply and construction of a new electrical substation to power the pumps and a modern UV water purification system.

New pipework and a filtration system, new pool liner and improved landscaping around the water’s edge also form important elements of the scheme.

The 90-metre-long lido dates back to 1906 and is the largest open-air freshwater pool in the UK, occupying a unique position in the history of British lido’s due to its size and the era in which it was built.

It is regularly described as the “jewel in the crown” of Wandsworth’s sports, leisure and fitness facilities. For more information about the club’s proposals please visit

Queen Consort “privileged and honoured” by visit to Wandsworth family centre

Her Majesty met with volunteers and local people at the centre, even trying her hand at an art class, as she heard about the positive work that goes on to support victims of domestic violence.

Other guests at the event included Jeremy Ambache, the Mayor of Wandsworth, Simon Hogg, leader of Wandsworth Council and supporters of the centre, including entrepreneur Kanya King CBE and Rose, Bishop of Dover.

The Queen Consort cut a cake for the centre’s 19th birthday, and unveiled a plaque celebrating her visit. She said: “I want to say a huge thank you to you for all you are doing to help the victims of domestic violence.”

“I feel very privileged and honoured to have come and visited you all today.”

STORM, on the Doddington Estate, was founded 19 years ago to enable single mothers to help and support each other.

Since then, its work has expanded to help other members of the local community, including by offering counselling, free courses leading to qualifications and employment support.

Cllr Ambache said: “It was such an honour to visit STORM today and meet Her Majesty.

“The centre is such an important part of the local community and I’m delighted its work has been recognised in this way.”

30 | Business
An investment of £5m to resurface roads and pavements is being proposed by Wandsworth Council in addition to other major infrastructure improvements across the Borough.
South London Swimming Club (SLSC)
30 | Business Connexions
Marie Hanson MBE, STORM chief executive had the pleasure of showing the Queen Consort around STORM’s family centre in Battersea.

Let’s Talk about Therapy!

this is when you hear of people having mental breakdowns because they are unable to cope with the pressure of suppressing their emotions and feelings for a lengthy period of time.

For many years if you spoke of having any form of therapy, many people would use the term “Mentally Unstable” to describe you. However, nowadays that perceived stigma is much less prevalent. With so many forms of media promoting wellbeing and mental health, therapy is now at the forefront of most people’s minds, especially since the pandemic.

However, there is still a minority who believe that they don’t need any form of therapy and that their coping mechanism is all they need in order to survive on a daily basis. This said, the coping mechanism I refer to is not sustainable and therefore

Suppressing ones emotions can be a cultural thing as being a British born Asian myself, my parents never promoted talking openly about your feelings and mental health. From their parents teaching them to show no emotion and just get on with it attitude, this was filtered down to my parents who as loving as they were, did not encourage my siblings and I to share their issues or concerns. To then carry this mindset onto the next generation is heart breaking because this pattern will continue unless it is addressed and spoken about. I was bullied throughout the whole of my secondary school and because I was never encouraged to express emotion I suffered with this trauma for a large proportion of my life and this was very detrimental to my wellbeing.

It can also be a gender issue where again men were told “to be a man” and not to talk about how their feeling etc. My clientele currently is predominantly male. I hope this will continue and more males will learn from their peers that it is not a sign of weakness to express emotion and to seek help when they feel they need it.

It is also vital that you find the right counsellor/therapist that works for you. You need to feel comfortable and be able to talk openly and without feeling prejudged and that whatever you disclose will be in confidence. The therapist needs to be the right fit for you so if it is not working for you, it is your prerogative to find another.

Therefore, as a Life Therapist of my own company RMJ Wellbeing, I encourage everybody to talk. However, “trivial” or petty you may think

your concerns are, I would implore you to speak to a professional. It is far better to deal with a what you may categorise as petty now, rather than have to deal with a major disaster further down the line.

Mostly it is when somebody reaches crisis point, that is when they will seek therapy, however, why not address it at an earlier stage and this way your able to work through it before it reaches the point of no return and you can start living your best life!

For more information visit

Business Connexions | 31 HEALTH & WELLBEING
You need to feel comfortable and be able to talk openly and without feeling pre-judged and that whatever you disclose will be in confidence.
Photo: Polina Zimmerman @ pexels .com
Reeta Minhas-Judd is a life therapist and has run her wellbeing company, RMJ Wellbeing, for the past three years. Her focus is primarily on the positive health and wellbeing of her clients, with the ultimate goal of helping them to enjoy a happy existence.

WELCOME to new members

u A-Plan

Darrel Rose 149-155 Mictham Road

Tooting SW17 9PG 020 8682 7755

u Angel Swim London

Adam Knight 10A Norroy Road

Putney London SW15 1PF 07435 278910

u Avery Associates

Jeffrey Avery 43 Thirsk Road

Mitcham Surrey CR4 2BL 020 8640 0044

u Cloud9relocations

Maurice Robinson 20-22 Wenlock Road

Islington N1 7GU 0808 2968544

u FilthBusters

Danny Agnew 139a Mitcham Road

London SW17 9PE 07483 312383

u Hayman’s Gin

Miranda Hayman

Hayman’s Distillery

8a Weir Road

London SW12 0GT 020 8673 0485

u Lewis & Co

Alex Lewis

Collingham House 6 -12 Gladstone Road

Wimbledon SW19 1QT 020 3940 5561

u Maternal Serenity Ltd

Fatima Ali

3rd Floor, 86-90 Paul Street

London EC2A 4NE 07903 042167

u Maxwell Wealth Management

Charlie Maxwell

4 Wroughton Road London SW11 6BG 07970 727644

u NC LAW Solicitors

Nazmin Choudhury N C Law Solicitors 384 Garratt Lane

London SW18 4HP 020 8879 9400

u Palebeck Telecomms

Karin Mcneill 38/40 Chamberlayne Road

London NW10 3JE 020 7580 7226

u Pink Spaghetti Merton

Vicky Wan 03333 554419

u Power 2 Connect

Megan Barrett

Scratch Hub Battersea Arts Centre

London SW11 5TN 07934 553192

u Ready Bookkeeping & Accounting Services

Gary Lewis

15 Milner House Hope St

London SW11 2BZ 020 7924 4502

u Rebecca Maxwell-Hyslop

Financial Planning

Rebecca Maxwell-Hyslop

18 Alderbrook Road

London SW12 8AE 07775 582592

u The Landing by Spacemade

Abbie England

Tileman House

133 Upper Richmond Rd

London SW15 2TL

u The Vintage Exchange

Jeffrey Avery 291 Mitcham Rd

Tooting London SW17 9JQ 020 8640 0044

u Time & Leisure

Mike Reed Unit 12 The Apprentice Shop Watermill Way

Merton Abbey Mills

London SW19 2RD 020 8545 6777

u Willow Bough

Tea Rooms and Catering

Clare Alder Unit 11 The Long Shop

Merton Abbey Mills

London SW19 2RD 07772 6327371

Find us on the Chamber Directory:

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

32 | Business Connexions NEW MEMBERS

Starting UP


Q1 In a few words tell us a bit about your business?

Maternal Serenity is a mindful skincare and wellness brand focusing on pregnancy-safe and baby-friendly aromatherapy products. Handcrafted with 100% natural, organic, vegan and ethically sourced ingredients. Our holistic aromatherapy range was designed to bring happiness through emotional, mental and physical wellness in an earth-conscious manner. Our mission is to nurture, empower and uplift mamas on their motherhood journey.

Q2 What gives your business the x-factor’?

We combine energy-based healing knowledge with aromatherapy to create a unique range of products. Our signature aromas are made with pure essential oils blended with carefully chosen crystals to promote well-being on all levels. Each collection is inspired by powerful female deities and designed to target specific chakras for a more holistic sense of wellbeing. We believe in connecting people to the power of nature and providing safe, effective, and ethical products that benefit both you and the planet.

Q3 What motivated you to set up in business?

My passion for aromatherapy and my desire to empower women through the motherhood journey inspired me to set up Maternal Serenity. I wanted to create a holistic wellness brand rooted in nature and focused on bringing calming energy into our lives. I believe that with the right balance of self-care, inner growth, and kindness towards ourselves, we can cultivate a life of peace, joy and abundance.

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

I love being creative and using my knowledge and skills to create something that can help others. Setting up and running a business is hard work, but it’s incredibly fulfilling to see something you have created come to life. I’m constantly learning new things and applying them innovatively - watching my ideas become a reality is amazing. Additionally, it’s a great feeling to be supported by my local community and to be part of an ever-evolving industry.

Q5 What has been your greatest business success to date?

Launching my product range and online store has been my most significant career success. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing customer praises about your creations, which makes me feel fulfilled as an entrepreneur. Being honoured with Wandsworth Council’s Women’s Enterprise Awards’ Rising Star of the Year award was beyond humbling for me - a great recognition for all the hard work I had put into setting up - from product research to launching an online store.

Ultimately, it was a testament to my commitment and determination to establish an ethical skincare brand that benefits both you and the planet.

Q6 What has been your lowest moment?

The most challenging moment was after the pandemic had caused unexpected disruptions to my maternity support and reflexology services, and I wasn’t sure how to move forward. It felt overwhelming, but I kept going and found another way to offer comfort and energy-based healing through my product range. It took a lot of perseverance to get through it, but I knew that I could create something unique despite the challenging circumstances with enough focus and resilience.

Q7 In terms of business achievements, where do you want to be within the next year 5 years?

Within the next year, I am committed to providing refill options for all my products and expanding my product range with new and exciting holistic wellness offerings. My goal with Maternal Serenity is to open a Wellness hub for mothers and families. Our mission is to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing space to offer a range of holistic complementary therapies, workshops and retreats. In addition to this, I am also looking forward to partnering with other female-owned businesses to collaborate on unique product bundles and wellness programs.

Q8 What would be your top tip to someone thinking of starting up their own business?

Stay true to your vision and keep going, even when things get tough. Let your passion shine through, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are so many people out there who want to see you succeed. Lean into your community, and they will support you.

Lastly, be sure to allocate time for yourself and embrace balance. Self-care is a necessary step in staying focused and energized. All the best!

Business Connexions | 33 STARTING UP
Maternal Serenity Ltd

Q1 Who are you?

I am Clare, owner of Willow Bough Tea Rooms and Catering. Originally from Surrey, I moved to south west London just over 20 years ago and eight years ago I decided it was time to run with the dream, and I opened up Willow Bough.

Q2 What’s your business all about?

Remember those childhood Sundays where you’d visit your grandparents and your Granny had made a cake for Sunday tea? I love to bring that nostalgia to you through my afternoon teas served on vintage tea sets, homemade cakes, and cold party food.

Q3 Three words to describe yourself?

Creative, enthusiastic, and engaging.

Q4 Ideal Customer?

I’m lucky, I get to cater for a wide range of events (including baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries, and funerals) but I particularly like some of the corporate events; I make cupcakes with logo toppers which are great at theatre press nights, book launches, awards nights – in fact any celebration of your company!

Q5 Biggest achievement?

Surviving the pandemic. In fact, I didn’t just survive it, I grew my business during that


time, delivering up to 70 afternoon teas a day across south west London and Surrey.

Q6 Biggest gripe?

At the moment it’s definitely the challenge of getting hold of ingredients and the empty supermarket shelves!

Q7 Your inspiration?

My great-great Auntie Gwen who used to make the most fantastic teas and was always such a warm and welcoming host.

Q8 Philosophy in Business?

Give a little bit extra. People will remember and thank you for it. It will serve you well in the long run.

Q9 Sporting Hero?

I’m lucky to have met some sporting greats including Sir Roger Bannister and Mohamed Ali and worked with Team USA on the London 2012 Olympics. But my real sporting heroes are my Mum and Dad; Mum was an international rower in the days before nutrition and sports psychology and Dad has run nine marathons (eight sub-3 hours). They are the proof that if you put the effort in you can achieve your goal.

Q10 Biggest tip for success?

Take care and pride in what you do. I do many, many afternoon teas a year but for my customer it might be their only one so it has to be amazing!

34 | Business Connexions 5 MINUTES WITH ...
WILLOW BOUGH TEA ROOMS AND CATERING minutes with ... For enquiries please email or call 07726 327371 Willow Bough Tea Rooms @willowboughtearooms @willowboughcake Unit 11, The Long Shop, Merton Abbey Mills, London SW19 2RD WILLOW BOUGH TEA ROOMS AND CATERING Wimbledon’s traditional tea room Specialising in traditional English afternoon teas, cold party food platters, and homemade cakes. Pop-up tea room, vintage china hire, corporate catering and branded cakes are also available.
Flexible workspace 800 – 12,000 sq.ft. SW8 3NS 0207 344 6650 0207 924 4476