Official Magazine for Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce | Issue 13 | March 2021
Inside • Big Interview with AYESHA REES CEO of UVA UK Revolutionising the ride-hail industry Page 14
• Patron Focus GARETH MORRIS Operations Manager Access Self Storage Page 17
• The Person Behind
ASHLEY BANCROFT Partner, H&Hendricks LLP Page 31
• 5 Minutes with... WALTER LECOCQ Gazette Restaurant Group. Page 34
jewel in the crown Richard Burge on a challenging year
Has Covid-19 affected you? Are you more Worried, Isolated, Lost your routine, Do you feel low? We are here for you.
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WELCOME & CONTENTS
Welcome to the latest Edition of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce Magazine WELCOME to the March 2021 edition of Business ConneXions. As you receive this issue, the Chancellor’s Spring Budget will have just passed and hopefully, we will all be looking forward to a speedy recovery from the immense impact COVID has had on our businesses and the quality of our lives.
Wandsworth Chamber is here to help and on behalf of the board of the Chamber, may I extend our sympathy and condolences to all who have suffered and especially to those who have lost loved ones. We urge all businesses to be advocates of the vaccine rollout and to encourage people to be vaccinated. Some people are reticent about receiving the vaccine and business leaders have an important role to play in educating people on the absolute necessity for everyone to be protected. The cover of this edition of Business ConneXions features Mr Richard Burge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce International. In this feature article, Richard talks about London with a passion and pushes for it to be recognised as the jewel in the crown, an international city of trade.
Inside March 2021 4-5
Trading with Europe
Economy 8-9 10-11 12 14-15 17
Our chamber is part of the London’s Local Chambers forum and we meet weekly with Richard to share information and help to develop strategies to lobby government more effectively on behalf of our businesses. As Richard chairs and sits on many high-level steering groups, you may be comforted to know that our business voice is heard at the highest levels – so please keep telling us where you need help the most and let your concerns be noted. Also in the issue we feature an article on Brexit, which is another reality businesses need to grasp and work through. From supply chain to recruitment to delivery, we will all be affected in some way and we urge businesses to be prepared and consider the risks – take a look at The Risk Dashboard on the Support/ Compliance section of Wandsworth Chamber’s website and help your business to quantify and manage your risks. During the last few months, Wandsworth Chamber has become a Kick Start Gateway and worked tirelessly to promote the Kick Start programme. Aimed at helping 16-24-year-olds into employment and fully funded by the government, this is a great way for businesses to employ staff on a six-month
18-19 Richard Burge CEO London Chambers of Commerce 21 Ask the Expert 22-23 Skills 25 Technology
Steve Pinto CEO Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce
5 Minutes with…
Health & Wellbeing
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contract, to try out new things and at the same time help young people. Currently we have a large number of posts being advertised on the Jobcentre Plus vacancy boards and we look forward to helping many more businesses and youngsters. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. We continue to thank all of our members who have stayed with us, our patron members who have supported our work and new members who have joined during these trying times. If you know a business that 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 the economic recovery. Stay safe and well.
Studio Mark Etherington e: email@example.com Media No.1809 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
TRADING WITH EUROPE
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR EXPORTERS IN POST-BREXIT WORLD Wandsworth exporters are adjusting to a new reality following an eleventh-hour Brexit deal struck days before the transition period ended on December 31. The decision ended months of wrangling over future business rules and fishing rights between the UK and the EU. Under the terms of the new agreement, import tariffs between the UK and EU have been removed and UK goods can be sold without quotas in the EU market. However, these concessions come at a cost. UK exporters face numerous regulatory hurdles that in all likelihood will make it more expensive and burdensome to do business in Europe. On fisheries, the EU has agreed to give up 25% of its existing quotas in UK waters over a transition period of five and a half years, after which there will be annual renegotiations.
4 | Business Connexions
Meanwhile, although the UK no longer has access to the EU’s internal energy market, the idea is to have new arrangements in place by April 2022 to ensure that trading via interconnectors – power cables that link the UK with parts of Europe – is smooth and efficient. Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “After four long years of uncertainty and upheaval, businesses will be able to muster little more than a muted and weary cheer.
“While firms will welcome the agreement of a new foundation for UK-EU trade, they were faced with the gargantuan task of adapting to new arrangements with scarcely a week before they took effect. “Businesses need to digest the contents of the deal and consider what its provisions mean for the movement of goods, people and data across borders, as well as for their supply chains and partners. “We repeat that it is the responsibility of government to give firms clear, precise and detailed guidance so that they can make the required changes quickly. Far too many details and procedures have been left, literally, to the last minute. “Let’s not forget that many businesses are already on their knees from the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and most will have fewer resources available to implement the necessary changes with furloughed staff.” The BCC said governments on both sides of the UK-EU divide must recognise the impossible task they have set businesses and give them time and breathing space to adjust to new realities. “It is normal for free trade agreements to come with phasing-in measures, and this one should be no different,” said Adam Marshall. “It is now time to bring the political drama of the last four years to an end, and to replace it with pragmatism and determination to make the new UK-EU relationship work. The agreement can and must be a starting point for deeper cooperation as we restart, rebuild and renew our economies. “With greater clarity on the terms of trade, businesses can plan, invest and look once again towards new opportunities.” The UK government continues to update Brexit transition advice for businesses.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/transition
“Businesses need to digest the contents of the deal and consider what its provisions mean for the movement of goods, people and data across borders, as well as for their supply chains and partners.
TRADING WITH EUROPE
Export documents and EU exit - update for Certificate of Origin and ATA Carnet users • Certificates of Origin
A UK CO (non-preferential) has been designed in accordance with the relevant international convention and has been approved by government lawyers. This will replace the current non-preferential CO and will be issued for shipments after 1 January 2021. Holders of stocks of the old form are being notified on procedures to exchange for a new one. From 1 January only the new form can be issued and used. Non-preferential CO are generally called for as part of the payment mechanism e.g. via a documentary letter of credit or for trade defence reasons, or because the importer is anticipating re-exporting the goods.
• Origin and the UK-EU trade deal
Customs Declarations IMPORTANT NOTICE Exporters and Importers LCCI has joined with ChamberCustoms to provide a Customs Declaration service to help exporters and importers to comply with this new requirement for trading with the EU, and indeed with the rest of the world where such declarations will continue to be needed.
Now that the UK is no longer in the EU single market or customs union, goods moving between the UK and EU – both imports and exports – will be treated differently. Customs declarations will need to be completed, with immediate effect, for every UK export from the beginning of the year. The requirement for individual customs declarations for imports from the EU has been deferred for six months i.e. until 1 July 2021 though traders will need to keep specific records to then complete a summary declaration. Duty and VAT as appropriate will also need to be accounted for.
A unit of Customs Declaration specialists – Customs agents – headed by Suvjeet Sibia is in place and ready to help the import and export community prepare for this significant change – the number of declarations needed in a typical year will rise from 50 million to over 250 million so many companies are bound to be affected.
DATA When companies register for the service they will be asked for certain data e.g. • EORI status and number (economic operator registration and identification) • Goods dealt in; nature and number of consignments; markets served • Whether a deferment account is currently held • Ports used – though note that this service covers every UK port for both import and export.
Visit www.londonchamber.co.uk/export-documents/customs-declarations or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information
“The requirement for individual customs declarations for imports from the EU has been deferred for six months though traders will need to keep specific records to then complete a summary declaration.”
The deal (or UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement – TCA – to give it its full name) includes preferential tariff rates for certain goods provided origin rules are met. The rates are dependent on compliance with origin rules demonstrated by self-certification via a declaration on the invoice which must include a UK EORI number. The statement of origin should appear on an invoice or similar commercial document describing the original product in sufficient detail to enable its identification. The text appears in Annex ORIG-4 of the TCA – page 482 of the document and exporters are advised to consult: www.gov.uk/government/publications/agreementsreached-between-the-united-kingdom-of-great-britainand-northern-ireland-and-the-european-union If the goods are not originating and do not comply with the rules of origin in the TCA, no special document is required so in some cases the buyer/importer may call for a nonpreferential certificate of origin which the LCCI can issue as above. www.londonchamber.co.uk/cofo
• EUR documents
A revised version of Movement Certificate EUR (in effect a preferential CO) will be the appropriate document in most cases where the UK has rolled over previous EU free trade agreements. Precisely what countries it can be used for is a changing picture so check this website: www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-noneu-countries
• Arab states
Note that non-preferential CO for exports to Arab League countries will be unaffected and there is no need for the format of the document to change. However, some Arab League states are party to certain EU free trade agreements e.g. Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, and a UK EUR document may be appropriate. www.londonchamber.co.uk/export-documents/eur1movement-certificate
• ATA Carnets ATA Carnets – the passport for goods being temporarily moved cross-border for the purpose of being shown at trade fairs or exhibitions, or for professional equipment and samples – are now able to be used for appropriate temporary shipments to the EU 27. The UK has signed the relevant international conventions both as the UK and en bloc through the EU. LCCI has made the necessary changes to the document for use in the EU. www.londonchamber.co.uk/export-documents/atacarnet
• EU Trade Hub at LCCI
Information and advice on staff employment, business travel, exporting, importing, international trade paperwork, costs, logistics, data protection, e-commerce, accounting and auditing, intellectual property and taxation. Plus, an ongoing series of webinars to help UK companies trade with the EU. www.londonchamber.co.uk/eu-trade-hub/eu-trade-hub
Business Connexions | 5
A third open letter to chamber members, from me, Martin Pocock
Dear Chamber Members,
It is Martin here, owner of Pocock’s Chartered Accountants and Insolvency Advisors. Finally some good news. The government has set a road map out of lockdown. Those businesses that have been forced to close have a re-opening date. Make sure you plan your re-opening; that the business is viable and will provide an income for you and your family. Grants from Wandsworth Council
Up until your re-opening date make sure you are making use of the available Grants from Wandsworth Council. Graham Russell and his team are doing a great job in distributing the money available to them and we must applaud them. Remember it is your job to claim the grant so check the Wandsworth Council Website to see what you are entitled to claim. If you have any queries regarding your grant, then log into the Chamber virtual meeting at 11.00 a.m. on a Wednesday. Graham or one of his team are available to answer your questions. The Chamber Wednesday morning virtual meeting is a great way to hear what is going on in the local area.
Be sure that you have applied for the maximum amount you can claim under the bounce back and Cbil loans from your bank. These loans are unsecured provided you are a limited company. Whilst the government has not set out how the loans can be used, make sure these loans are not being secured on your assets and so increasing any amounts owing on a director’s loan account.
Now is the time to review your marketing plan. Check and see how COVID-19 has affected your market. Produce a marketing plan that ties in with the reopening of your business. Check that your business is still viable.
Liabilities Hopefully either you have been able to trade through lockdown or if not are in a position to re-open without have run up too many liabilities. Many businesses will be viable but have run up large liabilities over the lock-down periods meaning that the owner/shareholders will not be able to draw a salary or pay dividends for a long period of time. All you will be doing is paying historic liabilities and potentially running up personal liabilities in order to maintain your family’s standard of living. I want you to know that you can liquidate your business and start again if you need or wish to. I want to warn you against funding a 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 key factors to look for are: -
• Extending a loan on a credit card or getting an additional one
• Accepting some parental support to ease your personal cashflow • Not repairing the car
• 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 You should check that your new business will be viable and provide an income for you and your family. 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 do not charge. Give me a call. Stay safe and keep well.
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 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.
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
More help needed for business The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called for more support for cash-strapped businesses as official figures showed that UK GDP slumped by a record 9.9% last year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “While the vaccine roll-out offers optimism, with the scarring caused by the pandemic likely to crystallise as government support winds down and the prospect of persistent postBrexit disruption, any recovery may be slower than the Bank of England currently predicts.”
Although the fourth quarter saw modest growth of 1%, last year’s contraction was the fastest the UK has seen since the 1920s. Suren Thiru, head of economics at BCC, said: “The UK economy recorded stronger than expected growth in the final quarter of 2020. The squeeze on output from the November lockdown was more than offset by a temporary boost from the release of pent-up demand from the subsequent easing in restrictions, increased activity from the coronavirus testing schemes and Brexit stockpiling. “Despite avoiding a double-dip recession, with output still well below pre-pandemic levels amid confirmation that 2020 was a historically bleak year for the UK economy, there is little to cheer in the latest data. “Modest growth at the end of 2020 is set to be followed by a substantial fall in output in the first quarter of this year as the current lockdown, the unwinding of Brexit inventories and disruption to UK-EU trade flows combine to suffocate activity.
Amid this ongoing uncertainty for businesses, the BCC has called on the government to extend and expand business rates relief, prolong VAT deferrals and offer an immediate, further round of upfront cash grant support – at least equivalent to levels of around £25,000 available in the first national lockdown - with sufficient funds to provide for all businesses that need it in every sector. The organisation also wants Chancellor Rishi Sunak to maintain the Job Retention Scheme until a full reopening of the economy is possible, and expand income support for limited company directors. Suren Thiru said: “The current dripfeed approach to support measures
means firms cannot plan for more than a few weeks ahead. It is critical that the government swiftly implements a package of measures that support businesses and the economy for the whole of 2021, including removing the cliff-edges for business rate reliefs, VAT deferrals and furlough.” The most recent BCC Quarterly Economic Survey of more than 6,000 firms across all sectors found that all key economic indicators remain well below pre-crisis levels, with four in ten firms seeing their cashflow position deteriorate. Nearly one half of firms (43%) reported a decrease in domestic sales, 45% said the volume of their domestic orders had fallen and 38% saw a drop in export sales. Continued uncertainty around further lockdowns and restrictions, as well as the many unanswered questions on Brexit, have caused businesses considerable distress, with some saying they are worried about the long-term viability of their business.
“While the vaccine roll-out offers optimism, with the scarring caused by the pandemic likely to crystallise as government support winds down and the prospect of persistent post-Brexit disruption, any recovery may be slower than the Bank of England currently predicts.” Business Connexions | 7
Wandsworth residents Vicky Mayer and Isabella Sullivan run railwaytraveller.com, a new digital travel site aimed at people who love travelling by train. Inspired by their train trips around the world, the two travel journalists launched the site in September 2020. Railway Traveller creates daily digital content to promote and inform its audience about the joys of train travel, both in the UK and around the world. The content on the site, and on its social media channels, aims to communicate the love of train travel and inspire train and travel lovers around the globe. Railway Traveller blends travel with lifestyle and celebrates the exciting experience of travelling by train, whether it’s on a heritage train here in the UK or one of the world’s most famous trains like the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the Australian Ghan or the Blue train in South Africa. The Railway Traveller site gives its audience practical advice on which journeys are right for you; when to book your train holiday; who to book with; what to wear and take with you on your journey. Railway Traveller also offers a free weekly newsletter, giving its recipients up-to-date information on train travel around the world plus exclusive news and offers too.
For more see https://railwaytraveller.com
TAKE A STEP BACK
to prepare for a better future COVID 19 and the transition into a new trading environment with the EU is an example of what economists call VUCA (a state of Volatility Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity). Large companies have expertise and experience in operating in these conditions. SMEs do not have such luxury. Lock down allows to take a step back to rethink a new direction. Progressive businesses owners use this time to redesign a company that work without having them investing |endless hours in the business. Combining the experience of a trusted advisor with proven online diagnostic tools can reveal surprising insights. Business Doctors offers access to the widest possible SME community to two free innovative online diagnostic tools plus a chargeless opportunity to ‘check in’ and discuss the results with an advisor.
• The “Value Builder” survey helps businesses to reflect on risk and resilience across eight factors that drive growth and value to identify areas where they can start to build resilience to deal with post-CV19. The survey takes 15 minutes. Simple and clear reports enable a benchmark against a wide database of companies from the same sectors. • The “Feel Good Factor” survey, available in March, is a short set of questions designed to help business owners reflect on how they are feeling, how their team is feeling, how their business is feeling and how they currently feel about their marketplace. It takes five minutes to complete. A quick ‘pulse check’ that help to gain clarity on the most urgent requirements to re-set the business.
You can take the Value Builder Survey at:
https://score.valuebuildersystem.com/business-doctors-uk/oreste-maspes Oreste Maspes will than take care to send you the “Feel Good Factor” survey and offer you an hour to review the two surveys.
We may not be able to travel overseas right now but Travel Matters is delighted to announce they are winners of the Lux Life Travel Awards for 2021.
Having been established in Wandsworth borough for 21 years, we have enjoyed helping residents of the borough organise their bespoke travels and holidays. Right now, more than ever before, we feel it is so important for residents to be using a professional travel advisor who can help navigate them through the complications of overseas travel and financial security.
8 | Business Connexions
And if that was not enough to be celebrating, Karen Simmonds (founder of Travel Matters) has been interviewed, visit https://soundcloud.com/ euromonitor/travel-leaders-aninterview-2 to hear the interview, where she talked though themes on the importance of collaboration, authenticity and respect. Karen briefly touches on how 2020 has made her think more about the importance of Travel Matter’s ‘B2B’ relationships, maintaining high standards of communication with patient & loyal clientele and the significance of being a Global Citizen!
Hot food for Elderly Thank you to Furloughed Foodies, professional chefs for cooking hot meals for the elderly residents in John Kirk House and in Haven Lodge in Battersea. This has been received with great gratitude for the Chefs’ cooking for them and the WoW Mums linking them, so they would get more hot meals as Covid- 19 support. This will become a regular delivery of hot food together with WoW Mums’ deliveries of non-perishables.
Prospecting for clients via automation
You’ve probably heard that you need five or six “touches” before someone is ready to buy a product or service from you. This is more or less true but it’s very time-consuming to do. However, there is a way to reach out via LinkedIn and automation – bots – to improve this process. LinkedIn is a great way to find potential clients – you can use the search to bring up people in the right industry sector or job title. Using the LinkedIn email system, you can contact them but realistically whoever follows up enough? What you need is a warm prospect – someone who knows a little about you and is responsive so you can arrange
a call or Zoom meeting to move the relationship forward, and hopefully pitch your business to them. The best way to do this is to create a giveaway, like an eBook or article on a topic that would interest your audience, then offer it to them. For example, I have a short eBook on how case studies can help your business. I then use my automated systems to connect with prospects and offer them the eBook. If they are interested, “you” (actually the bot) have made around four touches, and can then move to talking. They won’t know it’s a bot; they’ll think it’s a person.
LinkedIn discourages this, so you can only do this fewer than 100 times per day – but that ought to be enough. You only really want to get in touch with the prospects who’ve responded in some way and so have self-qualified themselves. In these difficult times, it’s really important to keep up the marketing (even if that doesn’t immediately result in sales), so there will be opportunities when the business climate improves. Julian Jackson, writer and marketer, www.brightgreenpr.co.uk
One of London’s biggest estate regenerations gets green light
Wandsworth Council’s plans to build up to 2,550 new homes on the Winstanley and York Road Estate in Battersea have been given planning permission. Built by Winstanley & York Road Regeneration Partnership, a joint venture between Taylor Wimpey and Wandsworth Council, the development will provide 35% of the homes for social rent, London affordable rent or shared ownership, while the rest are for private sale or rent. The regeneration programme includes a state-of-the-art leisure centre, community centre, library, children’s centre and nursery, a new local office for Workmatch which helps people into jobs, a health centre and a new 2.5-hectare public park. It is also expected to create 88 permanent jobs for local people, 3,360 temporary construction jobs and provide an overall boost to the local economy of £207.6m. The plans for the estate were drawn up following a consultation with estate residents and neighbours over a six-year period. Every secure council tenant will be offered a council home in the scheme to meet their individual housing needs, eliminating over-crowding. All resident council leaseholders will be offered an affordable opportunity to buy a home on the estate.
The council and its development partner Taylor Wimpey have already made significant progress on the site with the recent completion of the first blocks of new housing, Mitchell House and Duval House. A new Battersea Baptist Church, Thames College school are also well underway along with a new multi-use games area. Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of the council, said: “This means we can push on with our plans. We have made a commitment to every secure council tenant and resident leaseholder that they will have the right to a new, improved property and I am confident that having the opportunity to live in better, higher quality, sustainable homes will genuinely improve people’s lives.” Peter Gore, managing director of Taylor Wimpey London, added: “We are delighted to move forward with this significant regeneration, which will provide hundreds of quality affordable homes, including new homes for all council tenants and resident leaseholders on the same site. Alongside this, we will be providing major new community
facilities and improved infrastructure, as well as the creation of the new public park.” Cllr Tony Belton, ward councillor for Latchmere Ward which covers the estate, said: “I am delighted to hear the good news. It ensures we can get on with the job of providing new homes for those in need and welcome extra housing in Winstanley, ending uncertainty for the residents.” Simon Bayliss, managing partner at HTA Design, said: “The Winstanley & York Road Estate masterplan evolved through creative engagement with local residents and a design collaboration between HTA Design, Henley Halebrown, Figure/Ground, LA Architects and Farrer Huxley. It delivers better homes for existing residents in Battersea. An urban edge of taller buildings make the most of views of the Thames alongside various commercial and community spaces, including a new leisure centre, library and nursery for Wandsworth Council.”
“Every secure council tenant will be offered a council home in the scheme to meet their individual housing needs, eliminating over-crowding. All resident council leaseholders will be offered an affordable opportunity to buy a home on the estate.”
For more information visit www.winstanleyyorkroad.co.uk
Business Connexions | 9
Weathering the storm: top tips for facing the current economic climate
Overall the UK economy as measured by GDP is estimated to have fallen by 9.9% since 2019 which, if the estimates are confirmed, is the biggest fall since modern records began. Against this backdrop it is not surprising that businesses are struggling. In order to survive and thrive a business needs to know how to make the best of the current economic situation. Below are answers to some of the questions our SME clients are asking.
What if some of my contracts are now either impossible or unprofitable to perform? In the case of a contract which has become impossible to perform, whether because your supply chain has broken or you are prevented by Government regulation or for some other reason, then you should review the terms of the contract carefully. Many contracts will have what is known as a ‘force majeure’ clause incorporated into the terms. This provides that if something occurs beyond the control of the party impacted (sometimes called an ‘act of God’) then that party is released from the obligation that has become impossible to fulfil. Whether or not the force majeure clause applies will always depend on the particular circumstances and whether the clause wording covers those circumstances will be a matter of interpretation.
Emma Shipp Consultant
At the moment businesses are facing a perfect storm. Not only is there a worldwide pandemic causing people to stay at home, affecting buying habits and supply chains around the world, but the UK has just extracted itself from the EU single market and single customs union. 10 | Business Connexions
If the force majeure clause doesn’t cover your circumstances or there is no such clause in your contract then you can consider whether the contract as a whole has been frustrated. This means that since the contract was entered into circumstances have changed to such an extent that it is no longer possible to fulfil the contract or it has become illegal to do so. In that situation the contract itself falls away and neither party is obliged to fulfil it. Again, there is plenty of case law on what amounts to frustration and generally this can only be used in the most extreme circumstances. Using force majeure or the common law doctrine of frustration can be fraught with difficulties and, once you have reviewed your contract carefully to understand your legal rights, the best course of action in the first instance is to talk to the other contracting party or parties to try to come to a sensible arrangement that works for you all.
Applying for all available Government assistance can be key to the survival of a business. In parallel with the furlough scheme, businesses can apply for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme which provides loans up to £5m for small businesses or a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan for loans up to £50,000 where funds are needed more quickly. In the situation where a contract has simply become unprofitable but not impossible to fulfil, your legal options are likely to be more limited. Goods that are supplied into the EU are a prime example, as it may be the case that delivering those goods to the EU is now more time consuming and costly but is unlikely to be impossible. Again, the starting point is to look at your contract. Is there a ‘material adverse change’ clause allowing a renegotiation in the event of something that was not anticipated at the outset? If so, then depending on the wording you may be able to force changes to the contract or be released from it entirely. There may be specific provisions triggering variations and you need to look at those carefully. Again, once you know what your formal legal options are the best course is to talk to the other contracting parties. If you do agree a variation to the contract then be careful to document this in accordance with the terms of the contract as you do not want to later find that this is a matter of dispute. An exchange of emails may not be sufficient particularly if the contract requires a variation to be in writing and signed by representatives of both parties.
How can I protect both my staff and my business? You are likely to have various different categories of staff at the moment – some of your staff may be furloughed, others may be working from home and a few may be attending the office on a regular basis. As an employer, you need to consider each category both in terms of how you protect your staff but also how you protect your business. The furlough scheme has been extended to the end of April and possibly will be extended further. It now allows you to furlough staff for part only of their working hours and receive a government grant of 80% of their wages for the time that they are furloughed. You need to keep good records for this period and be careful not to ask furloughed staff to undertake any work during the time they are furloughed. This could include attending team meetings and checking work emails so ideally you should exclude them from your business network to ensure no work is being undertaken by them. Furloughed directors can continue to fulfil their statutory duties but must not do anything that is revenue producing.
If employees are working from home then all relevant employment law regulations will still apply such as working time, health and safety and provision of suitable equipment. Ideally you should have a homeworking policy in place making it clear what is your responsibility and what is the responsibility of the employee. Data protection can be an issue for those with staff unexpectedly working from home and you need to consider how you protect the integrity of your data. As a very simple point, staff should be provided with work laptops and should not be downloading your data onto their own devices, the work laptop should have a secure password and should not be used by other members of the household. For staff attending the office, clear safety measures need to be in place. You should carry out risk assessments regularly and maintain records for future reference not only to protect staff but also in order to defend yourself if a dispute arises. Mental health and well-being are key topics when it comes to staff. In particular, thought should be given to keeping in touch with people whether they are working from home, furloughed or in the office. For those on furlough it may be more complicated and many businesses are setting up WhatsApp groups or similar means of communicating with furloughed staff which does not involve sending an email through the firms’ network.
How do I best make use of Government assistance? Applying for all available Government assistance can be key to the survival of a business. In parallel with the furlough scheme, businesses can apply for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme which provides loans up to £5m for small businesses or a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan for loans up to £50,000 where funds are needed more quickly. Securing these loans is subject to certain conditions and approvals. The Government also offers assistance with statutory sick pay, with allowing time to pay tax, with
support grants from your Local Authority and possibly a business rates holiday depending on the nature of your business. It is important to consider the nature of the support you are seeking and particularly whether it is a loan or a grant. A loan, such as the CBILS loan mentioned above, will need to be repaid and will revert to normal commercial terms once the first year interest and fees have been paid by the Government. Local Council and Government websites are a great resource for finding out what you may be entitled to and how you apply.
Should the worst happen… Insolvency can be a scary prospect but often the earlier you seek advice from an expert, the clearer the process will be. There have been some changes to the insolvency rules as a result of the pandemic with the ability to issue statutory demands and winding up petitions currently suspended until the end of March. There has also been a relaxation of wrongful trading rules so that directors are less likely to face personal liability if they continue to trade through a bad patch. If you do think you need to consider a formal insolvency procedure then you can file at court for a moratorium to consider your options. The directors will remain in control of the business but (with some exceptions) no legal action or insolvency proceedings can be taken without the leave of the court. What insolvency route you ultimately choose, whether CVA, administration or liquidation will depend on a number of factors including the underlying viability of your business and possibly the support of your creditors. If you have a secured creditor, such as a bank, then you have to start talking to them at an early stage as their security is likely to provide them with some control over the insolvency procedure you decide to use.
Looking forward On a more positive note, it is worth remembering that with great change comes great opportunity. Even if your business is not in an area naturally benefitting from the call to stay at home, the current economic climate may present you with the opportunity to re-set with customers, suppliers and staff and emerge stronger than ever. It is more crucial than ever to seek counsel early on to make sure that you navigate these stormy waters with the help of an expert.
russell-cooke.co.uk +44 (0)20 8394 6507 email@example.com Business Connexions | 11
BATTERSEA POWER STATION
donates a further 100 devices to help tackle digital poverty and meet an urgent need for devices in the borough Battersea Power Station (BPS) has donated a further 100 laptops to Power to Connect, a campaign it launched in partnership with Wandsworth Council in April 2020, to support local families who were struggling to home school and stay digitally connected during the COVID-19 crisis. According to Ofcom, 9% of families in the UK do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. When the new national lockdown was announced on 4th January 2021, the first day of the new school term, 400 families in Wandsworth requested digital devices from their local schools. Power to Connect is aiming to meet this immediate need for 400 devices by February half-term. In addition to the 100 laptops from BPS, Power to Connect has managed to source a further 200 devices, including 100 donated by Wandsworth Council. It is appealing to businesses and members of the local community to help source the remaining 100 used or unused, fully working tablets or laptops, to ensure local schoolchildren can access online learning and not risk falling behind on their education. Between April and December 2020, Power to Connect collected 500 devices, which were refurbished into Google Chromebooks and donated to families in Wandsworth via 60 schools and local community organisations. It is aiming to reach a target of 1,000 devices by April 2021, which will mark one year since the Power to Connect campaign began. BPS also donated £10,000 to Wandsworth Council, to provide
£10 data vouchers to ensure local families could use these devices to stay digitally connected.
learning from home and would like to thank everyone who has helped us keep communities digitally connected.”
BPS via the Battersea Power Station Foundation aims to invest in effective community-based organisations, which are working to make lasting improvements to the lives of people and neighbourhoods in the boroughs of Wandsworth and Lambeth. BPS has contributed over £165,000 to a number of charities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic including: Age UK Wandsworth, the NSPCC, St George’s Hospital Charity, Wandsworth Foodbank, Waste Not Want Not, Carney’s Community, Caius House, Providence House, FAST, Devas, Elays Network, the Nine Elms Arts Ministry and the Rotary Club of Battersea Park.
Alex Baker, Director of Communities and Sustainability at Battersea Power Station, said: “Supporting local communities sits at the heart of our core values at Battersea Power Station and children are key to building the communities of the future. We are extremely grateful to the Battersea Power Station shareholders for this donation and to the volunteers behind Power to Connect, who show true community spirit by giving up their free time and expertise to ensure devices reach the most vulnerable children in the borough.
Abigail Brady, Headteacher at Ronald Ross Primary School in Wandsworth said: “Power to Connect has supplied devices to some of our most disadvantaged families this year. The story is usually the same - too few devices to go around, making remote learning impossible for many. Thanks to the donations from Power to Connect, families have told us their lives have improved immeasurably, as the stress of managing access to online learning has eased. The devices have had a positive impact on pupil’s motivation to learn and families have been able to see their children progress and not lose pace with their classmates.” Councillor Will Sweet, Wandsworth Council Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, said: “We set up Power to Connect with Battersea Power Station at the start of the pandemic to ensure no child was left behind, and since then hundreds of laptops have been distributed to local families. We’re grateful to BPS for this further donation at a time when children are again
Local schoolchildren in Wandsworth receiving laptops from the ‘Power to Connect’ campaign, which has been set up to address the issue of digital poverty and help the local community stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. 12 | Business Connexions
“There are still many more families who are experiencing digital poverty and we welcome businesses and members of the local community getting in touch to donate unwanted, fully working laptops to help us meet this immediate need for 100 devices before February half-term.” For further information on how you can support ‘Power to Connect’, please visit https://www.powertoconnect.co.uk/ For more information on the Battersea Power Station Foundation, please visit http://bpsfoundation.org.uk/
Business Connexions | 13
Revolutionising the ride-hail industry
“We’re far more than just the next ride-hailing app. As well as making passengers feel safer by rigorously controlling driver standards, we want to make the drivers feel that they’re part of the community, that they have a genuine connection with it.”
Ayesha Rees CEO of UVA UK 14 | Business Connexions
Established in 2019, UVA UK has positioned itself at the forefront of the technological revolution but is determined never to lose its people-oriented focus. The company has launched an app-based ride-hailing service that puts people – both the passengers who use it and the drivers who take them on their journeys – first.
in London again. Corporate customers will still travel across the capital for business meetings to work on joint collaborations with other companies.”
Designed to compete against the likes of Uber, UVA brings a human dimension to the ride-hailing process.
Eventually, UVA hopes to roll out its concept in other areas of the UK and branch into overseas markets. It has already launched in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
To strengthen in-car and community relations, drivers are required to undertake rigorous training on a range of topics, including customer service, conflict management, the specifics of the areas in which they operate and even political issues such as the Black Lives Matters movement. The idea is to build a level of trust between driver and passenger by offering an unrivalled customer service. UVA also wants to do its bit to allay some of the safety and reliability concerns that have blighted the industry in recent years. For example, Uber made headlines in 2019 when Transport for London (TfL) rejected its application to operate in London over safety issues, although this licence has subsequently been renewed. Driver standards are monitored and controlled by UVA, and prices are standardised with no extra “surge charging” so passengers know exactly how much their journey will cost in advance. UVA drivers are required to disinfect their cars after each passenger rides in them, and give the vehicles a more thorough clean on a weekly basis. The company has earmarked Wandsworth as a key area to trial its innovation, along with other locations including Islington, Kent, Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Ayesha Rees, CEO of UVA UK, says: “We’re far more than just the next ride-hailing app. As well as making passengers feel safer by rigorously controlling driver standards, we want to make the drivers feel that they’re part of the community, that they have a genuine connection with it. We’re tech-driven but we operate in a local community-driven way. That’s probably the main difference between UVA and apps that offer a similar service; they tend to focus on the technology at the expense of human relations. “The COVID situation has changed the landscape for now, but eventually people will want to go out and socialise
Ayesha’s passion for providing a safe, reliable and easy-to-use service for commuters stems from her own experiences in Malaysia. Asked to go there on a business assignment in a previous role, she was dismayed at drivers’ treatment of females. “If you were a woman, drivers would say something sexist or deliberately go the wrong way to make more money,” she says. “If you wanted to complain, you could ring the police and that was about it! “With our service we want to create a level of respect and trust between driver and passenger, regardless of background, gender, race or colour.” At UVA, Ayesha is building on a career sprinkled with UK and international management experience. Previously she held sales, leadership and chief operations officer roles with responsibility for delivering multi-million-pound budgets. Her work took her all over the world – but it was often far from glamourous. “After a while I got fed up with seeing the walls of my office or apartment,” she says. “What it did give me was invaluable experience of leading teams in different international cultures. This is something I’m trying to bring to my current role.”
the inside track: Favourite food? Lebanese Favourite tipple? Italian red Favourite holiday? Valencia Describe your family life?
Hectic! I’m a bonus mum to three children who live with us 50% of the time. We have a dog and my partner and I are planning our wedding … which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19
How do you spend your downtime? My favourite thing
to do is to go to our local pub for Sunday lunch and then stop off at our local wine bar on the way home. We’re so lucky to live in a village that has such a variety of amenities. When the children are with us, we love to bake; I’m teaching them how to make things that they will actually eat…we’re still on desserts!
What are your key strengths as a manager? Empathy and the
ability to take complex issues and distil them into key facts and a way forward
And your limitations? I can be
impatient, which as you can imagine has been a challenge in the current climate
Best thing about doing business in the borough?
It was always our intention to start in local boroughs so we can truly support the areas we operate in and become part of the community. We are an international organisation that operates in a hyper-local way
Famous person you’d most like to spend dinner with?
Most interesting fact about yourself? I have a fascination with
World War II. It started when I read a book called The Silver Sword. For my 12th birthday, I went to the cinema to watch Schindler’s List and a few years later I visited Auschwitz. There’s a sign there that says: “those who forget history are bound to repeat it” and that has stuck with me ever since
Business Connexions | 15
LANOP TO HELP
e-commerce businesses figure out their VAT compliance post Brexit This pandemic has taught us two things: the importance of technology and how working together can bring in solutions to world problems faster than anything. While the coronavirus outbreak raged on, e-commerce businesses showed a boom in their sales. Their remarkable growth is expected to bring in $3,914 trillion globally this year according to some market estimates. Many of the traditional business models were forced to move online and Lanop believes that shift is going to be permanent. In Great Britain, we not only witnessed the challenges of coronavirus outbreak but also Brexit which has brought about several changes with regards to import and exports of goods and services to and from UK. These changes include the Economic Registration and Identification (EORI) number, commodity codes, customer terms, shipping policy and re-certification of products. We know that e-commerce businesses are impacted by this in a major way - especially their VAT declaration which now needs to be more streamlined than ever. Several of our clients were facing similar issues and Lanop wanted to help the e-commerce businesses who have kept the trade alive in these testing times.
We discuss the key changes below: New VAT rules for e-commerce businesses If goods are shipped to the UK from outside the UK, businesses will need to collect VAT on orders shipped to the UK below £135. However, VAT liability will be shifted to the platform if it supplies imported goods with a value below £135 to UK customers. Additionally, brands will need to file for and remit VAT to HMRC every quarter while orders above £135 will be subject to duties and import VAT.
If goods are shipped from the UK between 1st January 2021 and 30th June 2021, three main changes will take effect.
Afterwards, sellers will need to add the EORI code to their customs documents and declare the import VAT liability when clearing goods.
Firstly, buyers will be responsible for paying any applicable import VAT and duties on orders shipping from the UK to the EU. Secondly, merchants will not be required to collect VAT on orders shipped from the UK to the EU. However, custom documents will be required for all shipped orders to the EU.
Ideally, businesses need to know the commodity codes for each product being sold.
Registering for VAT Sellers in the UK may need to register for VAT in each country they are selling to – at least until 1st July 2021 when one stop shop rule will come into effect. Additionally, sellers from EU and other countries will need to register their business for VAT with HMRC provided they ship orders or supply goods below £135 to the UK. An e-commerce client who needed to register for VAT in France remarked: “I was totally clueless about the VAT registration process in France, but Lanop’s VAT team made the whole process so smooth that I was able to comply with the law there easily!”. Hence, sellers are advised to review their tax obligations in the EU to determine if they need to set up or maintain VAT registrations in EU
Customs regulations As a result of the new regulations, sellers will also need to apply for a separate UK and EU EORI number when making custom declarations. The EORI number uniquely identifies the exporter in customs procedures and documentation.
For instance, a manufacturing client who exports in EU and employs EU staff stated: “Lanop Accountants not only assisted us with applying for an EORI number but its payroll department guided us on how to check the status of our EU employees with ease as well”. It needs to be noted that while the UK uses a standardized six-digit number commodity code, the EU uses the same six-digit number commodity code plus two additional digits. And sellers may end up paying wrong tariffs or even have their goods blocked by customs if they get the code wrong somehow.
Customer terms and shipping policy Lanop advises businesses to update the
customer terms and shipping policy to clarify which party will be responsible for paying any tariffs or import VAT. For this, two popular international commerce terms are used i.e. Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) and Delivered at Place (DAP). Under a DDP, a seller is responsible for any import costs while under a DAP, the seller is only responsible for shipping the product and the customer will have to pay the import costs. However, use of DAP may result in an unpleasant experience for the customers and may lead to delayed or even returned shipments. Hence, it is recommended that businesses take care of filing taxes themselves.
Re-certification of products Finally, for health and safety reasons, products developed and made in the UK may need to be re-certified for sale in the EU and vice versa. Similarly, some modification may also be required in how manufacturing, labelling or even marketing of the goods is done. Through Lanop’s expert business and tax advisory expertise, businesses can rest assured that they will always stay on the right side of law.
‘As a result of the new regulations, sellers will also need to apply for a separate UK and EU EORI number when making custom declarations. The EORI number uniquely identifies the exporter in customs procedures and documentation.’ 16 | Business Connexions
www.lanop.co.uk +44 (0) 20 8392 9375 firstname.lastname@example.org
STORAGE FIRM lays down roots in Wandsworth With 60 stores nationwide - including stores in Battersea and Wandsworth - the company’s friendly local teams help their customers choose the right storage unit for them, which could be anything from the size of a locker to the size of a football pitch.
“Businesses may need storage space to facilitate their expansion – for example, when they’re moving from one office to another. We provide flexible, secure storage units from the size of a small locker to larger than a tennis court, and would even be able to provide such a business office space. We also offer parking, mailboxes and even offer storage by the box services with free delivery and collection.”
GARETH MORRIS has led an interesting and varied career. He spent several years as a shift leader at mobile tech giant Nokia before being made redundant. After travelling the world, he returned to the UK and “sort of fell into” a role at Access Self Storage, which helps individuals and businesses find a temporary place to store their goods.
Gareth joined Access as an assistant store manager 18 years ago and quickly climbed the ranks, being promoted to store manager and then regional manager. Now he’s the operations manager, overseeing the performance of his teams, fine-tuning operational processes and creating add-on services that have brought significant additional revenue streams to the business. The company offers everything from storage space to office space, parking facilities and mailing services, and tailors its offering to the specific needs of individual clients. Gareth says: “Self-storage is a growing market in the UK. We offer all sorts of solutions. Sometimes we cater for an urgent need – say, if someone suddenly moves out of their home following the break-up of a relationship. For others it’s a lifestyle choice; they may need to make space at home or store furniture while they decorate, for example. “Businesses may need storage space to facilitate their expansion – when they’re moving from one office to another, for example. We offer secure units from 10 sq ft to +10,000 sq ft and flexible office space to rent, as well as add-on services such as telephone answering and records management.
With such a strong presence locally, it made sense for Access to get involved with Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce to cement its links with businesses in the borough. Steve Pinto, the Chamber’s CEO, used to work at Access so it was a logical step for the firm to become a Chamber patron. Gareth says: “We’ve seen many benefits of having patron status. It wasn’t just a case of going to Chamber events and finding other members who needed our services; it was more about making connections, generating ideas and supporting each other – especially through these difficult last few months. For instance, we’ve helped Barclays Bank promote their COVID corporate support packages to local firms and Barclays has referred business to us. It’s all about helping each other. “Since becoming a patron we’ve built up great relationships with Battersea Power Station, the local council and a host of other businesses. Kudos must go to Steve Pinto and his team for the work they’ve done with local businesses; Wandsworth is one of the strongest Chambers that we’ve ever worked with.” Business Connexions | 17
RICHARD BURGE LCCI
World-class jewel in the crown It’s fair to say that Richard Burge has had a challenging year. Since he took over as CEO of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in February 2020, the world has been hit by the biggest health pandemic in living memory and lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down. 18 | Business Connexions
RICHARD BURGE LCCI
ith many businesses hunkering down and just looking to survive in these difficult times, it seems slightly incongruous to embark on a mission to promote London as a premier destination for world trade – but that’s exactly what Richard is doing with great vigour and enthusiasm.
“Brexit has happened, whether we like it or not,” he says. “The deal we have is better than no deal and now it’s time for London businesses – and businesses around the country – to seek opportunities to create jobs and foster growth. London is outward-looking, not just to Europe but to the rest of the world.”
His belief is that if this message is marketed to the world effectively, the whole country stands to benefit.
An independent advisor on international affairs, he has had a varied career that has seen him lead four multi-million-pound organisations including a famous charity, a UK government agency, a private company and a membership body over a total of 18 years.
“London is the jewel in our country’s crown,” he says. “It’s a pearl richer than all of its tribe and should be treated by Westminster as such. That’s not to say that London is more important than or separate from the rest of the country but if we don’t champion our best asset, the resulting wealth and job creation won’t filter to other parts of the country. “In short, there can be no levelling up in the UK if London levels down. The growth of London is absolutely critical to the health of the national economy.” While the UK capital is rightly viewed as an international financial services hub and primary gateway to Europe and beyond, Richard is keen to point out its other assets, including a growing number of small, indigenous businesses built on a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism. “London businesses are run by people who are hugely adventurous,” he says. “There’s a marvellous sense of diversity here, although there needs to be a greater effort to be more inclusive.” Richard’s words are based on a wealth of experience in international trade and global affairs, particularly in relation to social impact investment and the use of innovative technology.
“It’s not simply a case of how London and the UK can benefit, either; how can our capital city add value to the world in terms of its social and economic impact, sustainability and inclusivity?”
He’s acutely aware of the challenges posed by Brexit, yet believes it’s time to look forward, not back.
It’s clear that London, with its ten million people and 880,000 businesses, has the potential to influence the global debate on macro issues such as climate change, economic prosperity, poverty and social mobility. The size and diversity of its business community highlights the importance of having an organisation such as LCCI in place to act as a focal point for companies and to build links with Wandsworth Chamber and other chambers that operate across London’s 32 boroughs.
“Brexit has happened, whether we like it or not,” he says. “The deal we have is better than no deal and now it’s time for London businesses – and businesses around the country – to seek opportunities to create jobs and foster growth. London is outward-looking, not just to Europe but to the rest of the world.
Richard says: “There’s no way that one organisation can cater for the needs of every type of business in London. That’s why it’s vital that LCCI continues to work with Wandsworth Chamber, our chamber affiliates and the London’s Local Chambers (LLC) network to represent our businesses in the context of London as a world city.”
He has been on the board and a non-executive director of five multimillion-pound operations and has worked in more than 55 countries, principally in emerging economies, specialising in Africa, the wider Commonwealth, and post-conflict situations.
“It’s clear that London, with its ten million people and 880,000 businesses, has the potential to influence the global debate on macro issues such as climate change, economic prosperity, poverty and social mobility.” Business Connexions | 19
CASH FLOW IDEAS
for struggling businesses Coronavirus has caused significant turbulence for businesses of all sizes. Alex Taylor, Director While the UK Government has introduced many measures to help, including the Coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employment income support scheme, now is the time to critically review your business’s tax profile and see what measure can be put in place to help with cash-flow.
Research & Development (R&D) The R&D scheme is a Government incentive designed to reward companies who carry out Research and Development. This is a widely underused scheme, and the Government has committed to raising R&D investment significantly. A common misconception is that the R&D scheme is only available to firms carrying out pure scientific research in a laboratory. R&D relief can potentially be claimed where a company is overcoming any scientific or technological uncertainty resulting in an overall advancement in that field. The R&D scheme provides an enhanced corporation tax deduction in respect of qualifying expenditure.
However, the most attractive feature is that loss-making companies can surrender the enhanced deduction for a repayable tax credit.
Staff incentivisation In order to bounce back to profitability and growth, businesses need to retain key employees but at the same time may be finding it difficult to match salary levels paid elsewhere. An alternative to a higher salary is to introduce one of the Government approved share schemes such as Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI). EMIs are typically aimed at small entrepreneurial businesses allowing share options to be granted to key staff on a tax efficient basis.
As well as the tax advantages, EMIs are an excellent incentivisation tool for employees who can benefit from any future growth and success of the business.
Capital allowances Capital allowances are a valuable tax relief for businesses. In particular, the Annual Investment Allowance is available to all businesses and allows a 100% tax deduction for qualifying plant and machinery in the period. This allowance has been temporarily increased from £200,000 to £1million until 1 January 2022. Therefore, it is advisable to critically review capital expenditure incurred to maximise claims which can be made.
Tax losses Where the business is recording a loss, it could be possible to carry this loss back against a profit recorded in the previous 12 months and claim a tax repayment. In this scenario, it is beneficial to be submitting the corporation tax return as soon as possible to accelerate the refund from HMRC.
Any reader interested in discussing their business accounting and taxation requirements or outsourcing some of their day to day accounting tasks can telephone 0208 789 8588 or email email@example.com to arrange a free call or initial 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. 20 | Business Connexions
13 Princeton Court, 53 to 55 Felsham Road, Putney London, SW15 1AZ 0208 789 8588 | firstname.lastname@example.org www.kirkrice.co.uk
ASK THE EXPERT
Why successful businesses are investing in 360 virtual tours
BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL TOURS
1 Reach a broader audience
Clients or customers do not have to visit in person to be able to access your services. Virtual tours enable those, who, due to distance, personal factors or COVID-19, would not be able to visit in person, the ability to experience your premises. Retailers such as furniture shops can create an interactive online showroom; diners can view restaurant layouts; holiday makers can admire your accommodation and prospective parents can explore schools or nurseries.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a 3D virtual tour worth? A virtual tour is a simulation of a location for viewers to see and experience from any computer, smartphone, tablet or virtual reality headset. It is a novel way for visitors to interact with your business explains Phil Hallinan, Director of Hallgrave virtual tours. A relatively new technology, 3D virtual tours have taken off over the past 5 years and are now increasingly being adopted by businesses in almost all sectors. With the latest virtual tour software 3D tours can be adapted in endless ways for numerous applications.
2 Increase engagement
Today’s internet users are more receptive to content that allows them to interact. Virtual tours follow all the guidelines for the perfect digital content: they’re unique to your brand, interactive and compelling. People are attracted to content they can touch, visualize and quickly understand, research shows they are 40% more likely to click on and will spend 5-10 times longer on websites with an embedded virtual tour. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most users stay in a website less than 59 seconds. So, if you don’t manage to capture a user’s attention in less than a minute, you’ve lost them. If content isn’t engaging, informative and quick to access, they’ll move on.
3 Improve search ranking
Most people search for businesses online, however, ranking high on Google can be challenging. Research has shown that webpages that have a virtual tour, as well as photos, rank higher than their local competitors. Virtual tours improve engagement, which is important, because increasing time-on-site signals to Google that your business is popular
among internet users. Google boosts your rankings to appear higher in search results simply because it recognizes your site as helpful to others.
4 Show off your business personality
Having a virtual tour on your website immediately showcases your premises and company’s personality. There’s something to be said about showing, rather than just telling. It demonstrates that your company is open, honest and transparent about its space without just saying so. Virtual tours are a powerful research tool for users. If you own a restaurant, users can very quickly understand the atmosphere you have. For wedding venues, the bride and groom may be browsing your space to get a feel for the size and layout of the reception hall. This ultimately attracts customers that would identify with your business through an authentic, genuine channel.
5 Increase sales & reduce costs
Virtual tours are a cost-effective means of marketing. An estimated 97% of consumers now go online prior to making a purchase. Allowing users to explore your locations freely increases trust and delivers better informed, higher quality, contacts. Evidence suggest that more people will be willing to purchase or work with you if they know who you are. As an estate agent or event venue imagine the time you can save by not having to show people around properties that they’ve decided they don’t like within 5 minutes of arriving, or as an architect, builder, or interior designer the time that can be saved by reducing the number of site visits.
It’s the future!
Just like television and magazines changed the world of marketing, virtual tours are now increasingly expected and will engage new customers for many years to come.
For more information email email@example.com
4K HIGH RESOLUTION VIRTUAL TOURS
using our 134-megapixel 360-degree HDR camera discount for CHAMBER A local company working with all types of businesses in a range of industries from retail to education to construction and everything in between.
MEMBERS who quote this advert
www.hallgrave.co.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07446 480281 Business Connexions | 21
WORKFORCE TRAINING South Thames College works with local employers to support them with training and development needs. Apprenticeships • We’ll identify how and where an apprentice can beneﬁt your business • We’ll help you recruit the right candidate • We’ll assist you to access appropriate funding and grants
Workforce Skills We can help you identify skills gaps, recommend training and professional development for your staff, and help access funding where appropriate We can design Government funded pre-employment courses to help you ﬁll vacancies and support your recruitment
Bespoke and Commercial Training • We can help your business with all its staffing needs • We can design programmes speciﬁcally for you
Contact our Team today: 020 8918 7735 email@example.com stcg.ac.uk/employers
Free Online Professional Development Training for Your Staff Find out more at stcg.ac.uk/employers/ workforce-training-development
Part of the South Thames Colleges Group
Interested in bringing new ideas and resource to your business?
South Thames College can help
Since the start of the most recent national lockdown South Thames College has adapted its work with local employers, introducing several virtual activities including an Employability Week, where learners engaged with major local employers to find out more about careers in the sector relevant to their study programme. We have also continued to up-skill staff from local businesses through them completing online NCFE qualifications, and the virtual Civil Service Academy which has seen 29 learners progress into employment with the Government in various roles. For students studying at South Thames College employability skill development and work experience is compulsory and an incredibly valuable element of their study providing them with the real progression opportunities that they crave in an ever competitive employment market. The College’s Inspiring Futures Programme includes Employability Weeks which provides student talks by our industry partners on job/career opportunities within their sector or organisation, CV checks, mock interviews and other “soft skill” development. Employability Conferences and Taster Days help learners to discover more about what they could do next and how to develop those “soft skills” to give themselves the absolute best possible chances for the future. The benefits to the learner are numerous, and much appreciated, and include the
opportunity to improve amongst many things their communication and teamwork skills etc. The benefits to our generous participating employer organisations include: • An extra resource at no cost – a work experience student may be able to support the current staff or undertake a project that has been planned for some time but has been unable to progress due to lack of resources. Why not have a rolling programme of students all year who can hand over projects to each other? • Recruitment opportunity – hosting work experience students allows you, the employer, to trial potential future employees or volunteers before, or instead of, a potentially expensive investment in recruitment or training. Being a guest speaker during our Employability Weeks, or providing a visit opportunity to your organisation, promotes you and your sector and could stimulate a larger talent pool from which to select when recruiting.
• Community links – students share good experiences with their friends and family, and this and the College’s acknowledgment of your support will help raise your profile as an organisation which supports the development of local young people. • Staff development – encouraging current staff to mentor or supervise work experience students or offer a talk about their career path can motivate them and contribute to their continuing professional development and perhaps be their first step into line management. • New ideas and understanding – young people often bring fresh ideas and approaches and may help revitalise your organisation. You will also benefit from an increased knowledge of the way young people learn and current qualifications, possibly helping you target recruitment more effectively and help with the effectiveness of in-house training.
Get in touch today to see how we can help your business: firstname.lastname@example.org
Souleymane Avice is a Level 3 in Art & Design learner, completing an Industrial Placement with major Construction firm John Sisk and Sons. Working on their Peabody Estate (Phase 2) project, Souleymane assists the Project Managers and Coordinators with the various planning and design elements of the project. Sarah Wright, Community Liaison Officer at John Sisk & Son, commented: “Souleymane has been learning all about the design journey from concept through to construction, developing and growing his understanding of architecture, creative thinking and construction. He has been motivated and encouraged to explore his interest in architecture and develop his skills in spatial
modelling and understanding the character of buildings and landscapes. He has met various members of the Sisk Management team to learn about all the different roles that go into construction. In addition to meeting the team and learning more about construction and the day-to-day operations that build the buildings we inhabit Souleymane has been given a challenge to design a house for the
community. The journey began by studying the site and the people that live in the area. Followed by a study of a range of residential buildings both overseas and close to home. He has been encouraged to understand the buildings personality, character, and the story behind its design. He is now working towards designing his own project, focusing on design intent that is represented in a series of single images.”
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
• 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 email@example.com www.shoal-it.com
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
Technology fails to prevent mental health issues for home-workers Despite technological advances that have led to a rise in remote-working, the majority of people who started working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have experienced adverse mental health as a result. A poll of workers conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that two-thirds (67%) of workers who shifted from the office to home during the pandemic felt less connected to their colleagues. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that millions of people across the UK work. More people than ever before are using their home office, bedroom or living room as their main workplace and the daily commute is how long it takes to walk to your laptop. The RSPH report highlighted how working from home has affected the public’s health and wellbeing. The report includes a snapshot survey of the public who had been working from home for the first time. Just under half of all respondents said that they felt working from home was better for their health and wellbeing, and cited some
of the positive aspects of saving money and having a better work/life balance. However, the survey found that working from home has negatively impacted the mental and physical health of many people, and some are receiving little or no support from their employer. Christina Marriott, chief executive of RSPH, said: “Our findings reveal that although working from home can be beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing, there are stark differences in how different groups have been affected. For people who have multiple housemates or are working from their bedroom or a sofa, the impact on their mental and physical health is extremely concerning and something we believe that employers need to address. “The changes in the way that millions of people are working has the potential
for employers to rethink how they are supporting their employee’s mental and physical health. Some form of home working is likely to continue for millions of people and we urge employers to take the necessary steps to ensure their staff can work from home as safely and healthily as possible.” The rise in home-working during lockdown has led to people suffering from “Zoom fatigue” and an increase in recovery time, according to research by London South Bank University (LSBU). The study showed that employee energy levels reduced while working from home and generally led to increased tiredness and a longer recovery time in comparison to onsite office work, with video calls being more tiring to deal with than other forms of digital communication, such as emails, texts and chats.
STAYING Connected With many still working from home, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, reliable connectivity has become even more vital for the functioning of our home offices. Whether you are connecting to the internet via your laptop, tablet or mobile, if you are experiencing slowdowns or drop-outs, it might be tempting to immediately blame your incoming broadband connection, but it could be your wireless network. As a first step, undertake a speed test on your device whilst standing next to your router to help identify if it’s an internal or external problem. If your incoming broadband is the issue, you could consider switching to a faster provider. Availability has improved since the earlier stages of lockdown,
however, be aware that there could be delays or potential gaps in service during the switchover. Having a back-up plan for the interim makes good sense - consider getting a 4G or even 5G Wi-Fi router to create an internet connection using the mobile network. If it is your Wi-Fi causing the problem, it can be upgraded using boosters to reach difficult spots. If you can, plug directly into the router, though for multiple access points, your house would need to be cabled. As we have all been sharing internet resources during lockdown, there is
always the potential for capacity issues, so keep the following in mind: • Video Calling - if your call quality is dropping, turn off the video and continue just with audio as this uses less bandwidth. • Important meetings - in advance, make sure other household members aren’t gaming at the same time! • Loss of connection - if your internet does drop out completely, you can use your (well-charged) mobile phone as a hot spot to reconnect your laptop or tablet.
For more information contact Shoal IT Solutions: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8078 0810 Business Connexions | 25
Pipes laid for Nine Elms low-carbon heat network Residents and businesses in Nine Elms will soon benefit from a more sustainable type of heating thanks to a district heating network being installed underground.
26 | Business Connexions
Work is now underway to install 1.5km of pre-insulated steel pipes to connect buildings in Embassy Gardens and The Residence to the energy centre at the US Embassy. This low-carbon heat network will be in place by May 2021, providing heating to hundreds of local properties and removing the reliance on energyconsuming individual boilers. By decentralising the energy network and connecting neighbouring buildings, this way of providing heat to properties is more efficient, with lower CO2 emissions than traditional fuel sources. From the start, Wandsworth Council has worked with partners to ensure that the new development in Nine Elms was sustainable, identifying early the opportunity for a district heating network which used energy efficiently and minimised wastage. The roll-out of the heat network in Nine Elms is in line with targets to reduce carbon emissions set out in Wandsworth Council’s environment and sustainability strategy and the London Plan. Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “Seeing this district heating network taking shape shows the importance of being forward-looking and building sustainability into local development plans. It has tangible benefits for residents and meets our ambitions for a cleaner environment.
“This system helps us on the way to being a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030 and we’ll continue to do all we can to support the wider borough to reduce carbon emissions wherever possible.” The council worked with partners in Nine Elms, including the GLA and local developers, to agree the heating network and commission ENGIE as the provider. The £30 million project involves ENGIE designing, building, operating and maintaining the district energy scheme. Andrew Hart, managing director for ENGIE’s Urban Energy business, said: “We are thrilled to be kickstarting work on this monumental project for Wandsworth Council. “This is one of the capital’s largest brownfield regeneration sites and the new low-carbon heat network will not only save residents and businesses money on their energy bills, it will play a pivotal role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting London’s – and indeed the UK’s – net zero carbon ambitions.” Olivia Payne, head of sales at Embassy Gardens, said: “The district heating network coming into effect at the US Embassy is integral to powering Embassy Gardens and a big factor in Nine Elms’ sustainable infrastructure. Its arrival will have a significant impact on reducing our neighbourhood’s carbon emissions – efficiently aiding our efforts to provide homes with eco-friendly credentials and supporting the UK’s pledge to be carbon zero by 2050.” An additional branch of pipework is being installed across Ponton Road to enable a future connection for developing sites to the west of the energy centre.
Seeing this district heating network taking shape shows the importance of being forward-looking and building sustainability into local development plans. It has tangible benefits for residents and meets our ambitions for a cleaner environment. Business Connexions | 27
FACE COVERING MUST BE WORN IN THE WAREHOUSE
PREVIEW OUR WAREHOUSE TODAY!∆
EVERYTHING UNDER ONE ROOF!
TO SPEND ONLINE WHEN YOU SIGN UP FOR MEMBERSHIP†
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 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.
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 ex VAT (£33.60 inc VAT). 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 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 a maximum of £400 per year, and receive this in their annual renewal notice, to use against goods in the warehouse.
Costco Croydon, Imperial Way, Croydon, London, CR0 4RR T: 0208 253 4100 E: email@example.com www.costco.co.uk
† Sign up for membership with this advert at our Croydon warehouse before 31/08/21 and receive a £10 voucher to spend online at www.costco.co.uk. New members only. *Membership Criteria applies. Membership must be obtained before purchases can be made. ∆ Qualifying ID required to preview in the form of company payslip ID. JN27561
SHOP SAFELY AND SECURELY AT COSTCO
Costco is firmly committed to helping protect the health and safety of our members and employees and to serving our communities in accordance with COVID secure guidelines. All of our warehouse locations are open to serve you, with additional protocols in place to maintain a safe and secure shopping environment.
Visit www.costco.co.uk/covid-updates for further information 28 | Business Connexions
HEALTH & WELLBEING
YOU ARE NOT ALONE: let your voice be heard Mental health has always been an underlying concern. However, it’s now more evident than ever before, due to the unprecedented and challenging times we’re currently all facing. Reeta Minhas-Judd BA, Assoc CIPD, DIP Founder of RMJ Training Services COVID-19 has highlighted just how important our mental health really is. Having dark and negative thoughts is something we’ve all faced in our lives, but not on the scale we’re experiencing now. In normal times, it’s not pleasant being unable to share our thoughts with anybody, because of fear of retribution or embarrassment or shame, so some people continue to suffer in silence. There’s no escape for many, and especially so during COVID, because the restrictions will not allow us the opportunity to escape our surroundings anyway. Therefore, people’s daily lives become monotonous and unpleasant thoughts become a person’s company. Thoughts circulate in minds constantly like a hamster wheel, and the more they circulate the more the brain “programmes” them as a truth. So, what’s the answer? We cannot control COVID, so what’s the resolution to dealing with these mental health issues? There are only so many distractions to escape to each day, so again the thoughts and voices in our head form what we begin to believe. Communication is the way forward. This gives us the opportunity to share the burden of our thoughts and emotions with others. People say, “I don’t want to talk about it”, but it’s now more important than ever that this mindset is reversed. Without communication, we may remain anxious and even in despair, especially if we can see no light at the end of the tunnel. In very extreme cases, individuals take their own lives.
The benefits of taking the first step to better communication can literally save lives. By confiding in somebody and talking about our thoughts, feelings and emotions, we can unburden that heavy weight carried upon our shoulders. This can help us to come to terms with our emotions and feelings and ultimately, by verbally expressing and explaining them, we’re better able to see more clearly what the reality of the situation is and identify what is fiction and what it not. During COVID, individuals have experienced so many problems. Some have lost loved ones, some their livelihoods, and some their sense of purpose. Many are unable to escape the four walls of their surroundings due to the restrictions put upon us – so ironically, these have in some cases caused more harm than good. Fortunately, there is always hope. This is what I have learnt over the past two years since I started running my own business, RMJ Training Services. I offer clients the reassurance and guidance they seek that they will be okay and things will improve. I teach them strategies to help change their mindset into a more positive state. I also run well-being COVID workshops
on Zoom to highlight issues which are so apparent during this pandemic. These include bereavement, coping with anxiety and stress, anger management, money matters and health and mental well-being. The first step in wanting to make a change is to communicate and this is where I’m happy to help. As the younger generation are one of the most vulnerable groups during this pandemic, I offer a complimentary 30-minute guest-speaking session at educational institutions and the session is based on well-being and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Guest speaking is one many of the services we offer. If you are one of the millions of people in this country who need to talk, I would urge you to seek help. You all have a voice, and you deserve to be heard. I can honestly say from my experiences as a life coach that by simply talking, you can achieve such a sense of relief. Please get in touch if I can help, as you will be making the first step to the recovery of your happiness.
For more information visit www.rmjtrainingservices.com
‘The benefits of taking the first step to better communication can literally save lives. By confiding in somebody and talking about our thoughts and feelings and emotions, we can unburden that heavy weight carried upon our shoulders.’ Business Connexions | 29
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
30 | Business Connexions
• 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. To discuss how we can support you please contact us today on 020 3858 7973 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PERSON BEHIND THE BUSINESS
Ashley is on a mission to unlock business value
Value creation specialist Ashley Bancroft has achieved many things in his career, completing an MBA at a prestigious US business school and leading a company of over 4,000 employees to multi-award-winning success among them.
These achievements inspired Ashley to co-found H&Hendricks in 2019, a boutique business advisory that specialises in increasing business value and preparing companies for sale.
He is keen to stress that the firm isn’t a business broker or M&A advisor, so does not help to identify buyers for companies. Instead, H&Hendricks ensures that business owners are in the best possible position to realise the maximum value for what they’ve built, whenever that time may come. Ashley says: “Our overarching mission is to maximise value. We do this by working alongside our clients to transform their companies in the ways that matter most to their value. This may involve improving how a business is governed, implementing succession plans for ownermanagers or identifying future due diligence risks. Everything we do is focused on ensuring our clients are able to command a premium price for their shares; whether raising new equity capital, undertaking a partial exit or executing a full sale. Our holistic approach leverages our extensive expertise within finance, operations and governance.
H&Hendricks primarily works with owner-managed businesses that operate in people-focused industries with a turnover of up to £50m per year. Their client portfolio includes a broad range of companies from tech start-ups that need help in scaling and raising capital, to more traditional ventures where a founder may need assistance devising an exit strategy. Ashley says: “H&Hendricks are experts at identifying powerful value creation opportunities and delivering high-impact results; not just PowerPoints.” But what about the COVID crisis? Hasn’t the current pandemic reduced the value of businesses across the board? “Not necessarily. Transaction multiples have remained surprisingly unaffected by COVID. In some instances where a business has been able to demonstrate an effective management response to the crisis, and present credible recovery plans, their value has actually increased above pre-pandemic levels. The appetite for M&A hasn’t waned over the last 12 months and good companies with great management teams are still in high demand.” A Wandsworth resident, Ashley is committed to helping his local business community and building the H&Hendricks brand. He’s on a continual mission to find value in most things – including his own business.
Ashley Bancroft – Partner, H&Hendricks LLP
“We don’t just focus on turnover and profit. We take a holistic approach to ensure that companies are doing the right things in the right ways and to empower business owners to realise the maximum value for what they have built.” Business Connexions | 31
Chamber Events Scan the QR code (Caltrics.com) 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.
Wandsworth Business Forum
Connect with Wandsworth Council and Experts for Regular Business Recovery Updates EVERY WEDNESDAY (Until further notice) 11AM to 12.30PM Venue: ONLINE Registration Link: https://cutt.ly/ZyNAqnQ
For further details go to
www.wandsworthchamber.org/events 32 | Business Connexions
to new members Bad Alex Productions
Starting Up... Alex Rea
www.putneypc.co.uk Q1 In no more than 50 words tell us a bit
Ian Barrington 07935 741320 email@example.com uuu
Jane Ladyman firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Hallinan email@example.com
Mark Justin firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Dallip 02072 239334 email@example.com uuu
07785 616295 firstname.lastname@example.org
success to date?
A lady approached us with a laptop that wouldn’t start. She thought she had lost all her photos taken while living in the Middle East for over a decade. The hard drive had corrupted but we managed to retrieve photos and documents, much to her delight!
Q6 What has been your lowest moment?
When COVID struck people rightly became wary of allowing people into their home to fix their computer. It’s been a challenge but we are still able to operate by helping people remotely.
Q7 In terms of business achievements, where
Railway Traveller Vicky Mayer
It’s always nice to know that you have been recommended to someone because of something good you’ve done in the past. The majority of our business comes from referrals from happy customers that have given us glowing recommendations. We’ve helped many customers with problems they thought were unfixable and it’s nice to know you’ve made a difference.
Q5 What has been your greatest business
London Framing Studio
Computer repair shops often overcharge and aren’t fully transparent with what exactly they have done to fix the issue. Given that we have no office premises we can k eep our prices low and provide excellent service.
Q4 What do you like most about working for
Making things easy for our customers. We understand that not everyone is well versed in computing and our friendly team will explain everything so you understand exactly what needs to be done to fix the problem. Providing home and office visits along with telephone and remote services means there is minimal disruption to your day, with the peace of mind in knowing that your important hardware and data are in safe hands.
Q3 What motivated you to set up in business?
about your business?
We are computer, tablet and phone repair specialists working with busy home workers and small businesses. We’re on-call, ready for home or office visits (suitably masked/distanced) or remote assistance. Services include repair, upgrades, data recovery, virus removal and software assistance. Most importantly, we provide great service at low prices.
Q2 What gives your business ‘the x-factor’?
Generate Opportunities Ltd 02088 796333
do you want to be within the next 5 years?
Since most of our business comes from referrals, we’d like to be more well known so that in 5 years’ time we have a more steady stream of customers. A few of our team work infrequently so we’d like to bring them on full time and expand beyond the Wandsworth area.
Q8 What would be your top tip to someone
thinking of starting up their own business?
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for promoting your business as long as you aren’t spamming. We started out with a few posts on the Nextdoor website and made sure to respond promptly and clearly to any question.
Business Connexions | 33
5 MINUTES WITH ...
minutes with ...
Q Biggest gripe? The weather – same gripe since I crossed the channel!
Q Your inspiration? Over time, the great people I have been privileged to work with: Alain Ducasse for the vision, Raymond Blanc for the spark, Richard Corrigan for the simplicity. There’s a lot of good in every one of us, however, so I’m inspired by the people that I work with every day.
Q Philosophy in business?
Gazette Restaurant Group Q Ideal customer? You certainly need more than one! We love kids in our restaurants (including grown-up kids); naturally they speak the truth about what we do. But I generally like customers that make me push out of my comfort zone, even if it involves taking some criticism. Conversely, we try to steer clear of haters!
Q Who are you?
Q Biggest achievement?
My name is Walter Lecocq. Together with chef Pascal, I run the Gazette Brasseries with three sites in the Wandsworth borough. We have another one opening this summer and also a catering unit for homes and businesses.
This suggests a sense of fulfilment, but I am not quite there yet! Nevertheless, employing people is very satisfying and doing so in a pleasant atmosphere where everyone enjoys each other’s company is even better. I’m generally happy with what we’ve achieved with the restaurants; all of those little ideas and extra creativity make us different from other restaurants, and I’m looking forward to bigger achievements in the near future with a possible expansion of Gazette Brasseries.
Q What’s your business all about? We established ourselves nearly 14 years ago as an authentic French brasserie in the spirit of what you would expect to find in rural France. Our restaurants are original, with rustic and generous cuisine and the warm hospitality of village restaurants. Not only are they a destination for great food, they also offer an environment that you enjoy being in – eating chef Pascal’s amazing food and drawing on our chalk tops or playing scrabble on our unique table with lots of messy shelves everywhere, full of antic artefacts and treasures. We are French but most importantly we are Londoners and enjoy the beautiful diversity of this city.
Q Three words to describe yourself? Tenacious (too much); curious (about many subjects, especially what drives the hospitality industry); and dynamic (until I eventually switch off).
34 | Business Connexions
Put in the hours. Nothing comes easy so you certainly have to do that, but regular breaks are essential to pause and rethink.
Q Sporting hero? Cristiano Ronaldo - he has always remembered his humble beginnings and worked hard to become the superstar he is today.
Q Biggest tip for success? Keep the big picture in mind.
“Our restaurants are original, with rustic and generous cuisine and the warm hospitality of village restaurants. Not only are they a destination for great food, they also offer an environment that you enjoy being in.”
• Commercial Pest Control • Specialist Prooﬁng • Bird Control • Decontamina�on Treatments
0208 355 3443 | www.pestcontrolservices.co.uk Business Connexions | 35