Business Matters December 2018

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BusinessMatters The business magazine of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Winter 2018

The Big Interview

MARK BODDINGTON Founder, Silverlining Furniture Group Limited

Business Matters A


Chief Executive Officer, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Contact Melissa Kermode Churchill House, Queen’s Park Campus, Queen’s Park Road, Chester CH4 7AD t: 01244 669988 e: w: Publisher Benham Publishing Limited Suite 5 & 6, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ t: 0151 236 4141 f: 0151 236 0440 e: w: Published December 2018 © Benham Publishing Media no. 1625 Advertising and Features Karen Hall t: 0151 236 4141 e: Design Chris Moran t: 0151 236 4141 e:

warm welcome to you all. I would like to introduce myself as the new Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber. I am delighted to take up this position and I’m very much looking forward to representing your business at local, regional and national levels. As the year draws to a close and we look towards the winter break, this is a great time to reflect on the past 12 months and some of the achievements of the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. Our networking events have continued to grow from strength to strength, as we aim to facilitate business in the region. Whether it’s our networking breakfasts or lunches, activity events, or our new tours, we hope to provide a platform from which you can build a network of local contacts. We have also developed our support for businesses that trade internationally, as we continue to promote the benefits of exporting. We recently celebrated the first-year anniversary of our Young Chamber programme, which aims to help bridge the skills gap, by


bringing local businesses and the education sector closer together. We engaged with, and supported, over 950 students during the first 12 months, with the incredible backing of over 80 sponsors. I want to thank our sponsors for their time and dedication, as it has been instrumental to Young Chamber’s success. We are now working with 10 schools and colleges across the region and are looking forward to an action-packed year ahead! The success of our members was celebrated at our Chamber Annual Ball and Recognition Awards Ceremony last month. We received a record number of nominations and I would like to thank every single one of the members who entered, the standard of entries was exceptional this year. Congratulations to each of our award finalists and especially to our award winners. Your efforts over the last year have been incredible and the awards were truly deserved. Finally, I wish you and your families a very enjoyable and peaceful Christmas break and I very much look forward to supporting your business into the New Year and beyond.








GETTING STARTED Shoned Owen, Tanya Whitebits Ltd

YOUNG CHAMBER Latest news and events

THE BIG INTERVIEW Mark Boddington, Silverlining Furniture Disclaimer Business Matters is mailed without charge to all Chamber members

and distributed to businesses in the region. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in publication are not necessarily those of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of the Editor. © 2017. 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.

INSIGHT INTO Caroline Thedens, Platts Animal Bedding


TOP TIPS Dave Roberts, TAB @ChamberWCNW West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce /wcnwchamber WCNWChamber



Businesses celebrate at Chamber Annual Ball and Recognition Awards


he West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce Annual Ball & Recognition Awards made its yearly return with a bang on Friday 16th November at Chester Racecourse. The annual showpiece event saw nearly 400 guests gather together to celebrate a successful year in business, whilst raising money for an extremely worthwhile charity The Hospice of The Good Shepherd. Overall, the evening raised a grand total of £7,395; this is all thanks to the generosity of our guests and we are extremely grateful for your support. Guests were welcomed to the Racecourse Champagne Bar, where they were greeted with a drinks reception, kindly sponsored by DRB Group. After guests had greeted one another, they then made their way into the venue, where our Winter Wonderland themed room awaited! Draped in glistening lights and icy blue decor, the room truly was fit for an ice ball. With the return of our ever-popular photobooth and casino, the night was set up to be one of great entertainment and even better company. Once guests were seated, Keith Anglesea, Chairman of the Chamber, took to the stage to welcome all to the Chamber’s highlight event of the year. Keith gave an overview of the Chamber’s previous 12

Chamber Recognition Award winners with sponsors and Chamber CEO, Debbie Bryce at the Annual Ball. months of substantial growth, mainly focusing on the Chamber’s new team members and the fantastic promotion of Debbie Bryce to Chief Executive Officer. Our DJ and compére for the evening, DJ Garry Carr, then introduced Debbie Bryce to the stage to begin our much-awaited Chamber

CHAMBER AWARD WINNERS 2018 LOMANI LUXURY TRAVEL AWARD FOR CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE Sponsored by Lomani Luxury Travel Winner: Cimteq Ltd START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD Sponsored by Riverside Innovation Centre Winner: Zodeq Ltd YOUNG PERSON/APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR AWARD Sponsored by Umbrella Marketing Team and Armadillo Events Winner: Ross Thedens, RA & CE Platt Ltd EXPORT & INTERNATIONAL TRADE AWARD Sponsored by Crest Medical Winner: Recycling UK


Recognition Awards 2018. With nine awards up for grabs, the room was full of businesses that have achieved incredible things over the last year and were ready to celebrate in style. Congratulations to all that entered the awards, the quality of all entries was extremely high and we would like to congratulate all finalists and winners.

BUSINESS GROWTH AWARD Sponsored by NatWest Business Banking Winner: RA & CE Platt Ltd MADE A DIFFERENCE AWARD Sponsored by The Alternative Board Winner: Edge Transport MEMBERS CHOICE AWARD Sponsored by The Townhouse Chester Winner: David Roberts, The Alternative Board YOUNG CHAMBER AWARD Sponsored by Watts Commercial Finance Ltd Winner: Christleton High School BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD Sponsored by Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers Winner: DRB Group



fter the awards had taken place, it was then time for guests to enjoy their threecourse meal, provided by Horseradish, before our Charity auction and raffle began. Thanks to generous donations from local businesses, we were able to offer a fantastic selection of bundled auction prizes and a superb raffle. We would like to thank all guests in attendance that made bids on our auction prizes and entered into our raffle; your generous bids and donations helped us to raise our incredible total of £7,395, which will assist The Hospice of The Good Shepherd greatly. After our auction and raffle finished, the party could then begin! Reflecting on the night, Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the WCNW Chamber commented: “As always, our Annual Ball & Recognition Awards proved to be another popular success. I would like to thank our Headline Sponsors of the evening, Lomani Luxury Travel, for the support surrounding this event. I would also like to mention a special thanks to our Membership Support and Events Manager, Jenny Davidson, for her incredible effort that was put into this event, as well as our Chamber team for their help over the past few months. The generosity of all involved on the night was incredible to see and I am so grateful to everybody that attended the ball for helping to raise such a significant amount of money for The Hospice of The Good Shepherd.” The WCNW Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all that attended our Annual Ball & Recognition Awards and we hope to welcome you back again next year!

With thanks to all that donated a prize for the evening:

Lynne Swinnerton, Managing Director of Lomani Luxury Travel & Awards Headline Sponsor With thanks to our Headline Sponsors: l Lomani Luxury Travel With thanks to our Award Sponsors: l Lomani Luxury Travel l Riverside Innovation Centre l Umbrella Marketing Team & Armadillo Events l Crest Medical l NatWest Business Banking l The Alternative Board l The Townhouse Chester l Watts Commercial Finance Ltd l Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers With thanks to: l Our Stage & Audio Sponsors: Prestige Group l Our Champagne Bar Lighting Sponsors: Altimex & MJ Lighting l Our Drinks Reception Sponsors: DRB Group With thanks to our suppliers: l Gavin J Priest Photography l Carol Anne’s Florist l Glamour Events Hire

Abode Chester Anglesey Sea Zoo Arbonne Arriva Buses Wales BeeBrilliant Marketing Bella the Prosecco Van Bolesworth Estates Ltd Breakout Chester Brewhouse & Kitchen Carden Park, Golf Resort & Spa Cheshire FA Chester Racecourse Chester Running Tours Cimteq Limited Crowne Plaza Chester Disability Sport Wales Edge Transport Ltd Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers Elysium Health and Fitness Hospice of the Good Shepherd Insignia Resourcing Limited Jeffrey’s Tonic Ltd Las Iguanas Chester Liverpool John Lennon Airport Mercure Chester Abbots Well Hotel NW Security Group Limited Opera Grill Pearson Management Consultants Ltd Picanha Grill Protos Networks Recycling UK Snowdonia Cheese Company Surf Snowdonia The Botanist The Celtic Arms The Townhouse Chester Village Hotel Chester St. David’s Left: Business of the Year 2018 Winners, DRB Group



Surf Snowdonia reveals a new brand and expanded adventure offer for 2019 Plans include a lagoon-side Hilton Garden Inn and extensive conference facilities


urf Snowdonia has revealed a new brand and a game-changing new adventure offer which will open to visitors in summer 2019. The world-first inland surf hub, which launched in 2015, is also in advanced discussions with Hilton to open a Hilton Garden Inn within the development. The new hotel would mark the brand’s first in Wales. Surf Snowdonia will rebrand to Adventure Parc Snowdonia to reflect its broader offer, which will deliver a landmark visitor destination not just for North Wales, but for the UK and beyond. The 300-metre inland surf lagoon will remain a key part of the attraction. Investment in the development will be in the region of £16 million. The new offer for 2019 will include indoor and outdoor activities as well as an “Adventure Concierge” to link guests with off-site adventures. It will be followed in 2020 by a Hilton Garden Inn, a wellness spa and substantially expanded conference and event facilities. Andy Ainscough, managing director of Surf Snowdonia said: “Our investment in phase two is all about building on what we’ve established over the last three years: a flagship adventure destination for Wales and the UK. Our plans will allow us to give our guests more of what we know they really value: fun, engaging adventures which take them away from their screens and get them moving more in the great outdoors.”


Adventure Parc Snowdonia will continue to serve the corporate events and team


building market with a team dedicated to creating bespoke activity and hospitality itineraries. As well as its unique surf experiences, the parc will offer: Explore Outdoors A new outdoor adventure zone will feature fresh-air activities including a pump track for mountain bikes and BMX. There will also be a bouldering course and fitness trail. Adrenaline Indoors Featuring the kind of obstacles and jumps you might expect to find in a stuntman’s repertoire, Adrenaline Indoors will feature fun & engaging team challenges like artificial caving, climbing walls, extreme slides, bag jumps, a via ferrata, ninja trail, flight towers and a zip line across the surf lagoon. Adventure Concierge An expert service will encourage guests to explore instructor-led activities in the natural playground of North Wales as well as other leading attractions which reflect the region’s local produce, culture and heritage. Activities will include SUP safaris, gorge walking, mountain biking, orienteering and kayaking. The expanded adventure offer will be followed in 2020 by the following: l Hilton Garden Inn – a 106-bedroom lagoon-side hotel. l Wellness Spa – with indoor and outdoor treatment and relaxation areas. l Additional conference facilities – versatile corporate spaces in a superb natural setting. Justin Everley, commercial director at Surf Snowdonia said: “Human beings weren’t born to sit behind desks all day every day – we all need to escape and

let off steam now and then. “Team building activities are an increasingly significant part of employer responsibility and we firmly believe that an energising team away day can add significant long-term value to any business. It’s fantastic to be in a position to be able to expand our hospitality and adventure offer, and we’re delighted to see that it has already positively impacted our bookings for 2019.” Adventure Parc Snowdonia will open for surfing in May 2019, with woodland glamping accommodation lagoon-side hospitality and event spaces available for corporate and private bookings. The new indoor and outdoor adventure offers will launch in summer 2019, with Hilton Garden Inn, spa and extended conference facilities to follow in 2020. Find out more at


Local businesswoman takes up top spot at Chamber of Commerce


he West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce that Debbie Bryce has been appointed as their new Chief Executive Officer. Debbie, who is the first female CEO at the Chamber, has replaced Colin Brew who leaves after nine years in the role. After training as a Computer Programmer and Systems Analyst, Debbie started her working life in an international pharmaceutical company based in Deeside. At the age of just 21, Debbie then took the role of Director in her family’s local engineering business where she then spent a number of years before deciding to take on a new challenge. Moving to the Chamber in October 2013, Debbie has spent most of her Chamber career in the membership department and has been integral to the substantial growth in Chamber members during the last five years. Debbie was then promoted to Deputy-CEO in early 2017 and has been the driving force behind the Chamber’s new Young Chamber programme, which aims to bridge the gap between education and business. “I am thrilled to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber

of Commerce. These are exciting times for the Chamber as we look to further develop our Young Chamber programme and continue growing our membership offer” said Debbie. The new position will see Debbie represent Chamber members at the highest level as we head towards crunch time for the Brexit process. The Chamber has been working hard to help businesses prepare for the potential impact of Brexit on firms in the region; this is something that Debbie is keen to keep pushing as she moves into the role of CEO. “We are determined to help firms prepare as best they can for any changes that Brexit may bring and our Business Brexit Checklist and Risk Register are good examples of how we are doing this” added Debbie. Looking beyond Brexit, the Chamber continues to focus on the four key themes of its strategic vision - Vision 2021: l Ensuring they are the authentic voice of business l Creating enhanced infrastructure and connectivity for the region l Bridging the skills gap across West Cheshire and North Wales l Promoting international trade and stimulating regional business ambition.

Debbie Bryce, new Chief Executive Officer at West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce

Debbie stated “I am keen to keep promoting the four areas of our Vision 2021 as they are essential to the development of the region’s economy. I hope that when the Chamber reaches its centenary we can look back on a successful five-year vision”. For more information on how the Chamber can support your business, please visit

Chamber thanks to Colin Brew for his time as CEO


he West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce thanked its past Chief Executive Officer, Colin Brew, for his nine years of service, with a presentation at the Chamber’s Annual Ball and Awards Ceremony, which took place on the 16th November. Colin first arrived at the Chamber as Membership Executive but quickly moved into the role of Chief Executive Officer. His time saw him play a fundamental part in the growth of the Chamber and he has been at the forefront of prompting economic prosperity throughout the region. “Colin’s commitment to the Chamber and his efforts over the last nine years cannot be understated. He has been heavily involved in a number of initiatives that have undoubtedly benefitted businesses in our region, from Growth Track 360 to our own Vision 2021. I’d like to thank Colin for his hard work and wish him well for the future” said Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber.

Colin Brew with the Chamber Team



Two-Thirds of businesses not preparing for Brexit – are you? One of the biggest surveys of business intentions since the EU referendum has found that nearly two-thirds of firms still aren’t preparing for Brexit – and in the event of a ‘no deal’ outcome many would cut investment and recruitment plans.


he survey took place at the start of August 2018 and now, with under four months to go before the UK leaves the EU, the Chamber network is pressing home the need for clarity and precision so that firms can plan for the future with a degree of confidence. l A fifth of businesses surveyed (21%) will cut investment if there is ‘no deal’, 20% will move part or all of their business to the EU and 18% will cut recruitment – but in the event of a status quo transition these numbers fall dramatically l 62% of firms still haven’t completed a Brexit risk assessment The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with independent business funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has conducted one of the biggest surveys of business opinion since the referendum, amassing the views of over 2,500 firms from across the UK.

‘No deal’ will have real business consequences

Larger firms and those who are internationally active are the most exposed to the ramifications of ‘no deal’. 28% of firms with over 50 employees and 24% of those who export or import internationally say they would cut investment plans. The fact that one in five businesses (20%) say in a ‘no deal’ scenario they would move part or all of their business to the EU27 is an important wake-up call – both on the need to agree an orderly exit from the EU and on the need for the UK government to enhance incentives for investment.


Businesses are unprepared for Brexit

The survey also highlights a concerning lack of Brexit preparation. According to the findings, 62% of UK firms have not done a risk assessment of the impact of Brexit to their business. The figures reflect a huge disparity between the preparations of the largest companies and their smaller counterparts. 69% of micro firms (those with 1-9 employees) have not completed an assessment, compared to 24% of firms with over 250 employees. The BCC found that many SMEs are either awaiting more clarity before they act, or are suffering from ‘Brexit fatigue’ and have switched off from the process because they don’t believe they will be affected. WCNW Chamber has partnered with the BCC and created a checklist to help firms consider the changes Brexit may bring to their own firm, customers

and suppliers, and to help them plan ahead. Accredited Chambers of Commerce stand ready to support businesses through the process. Adam Marshall, Director General at the BCC, added: “Too many businesses across the UK are still not ready for Brexit. Many smaller firms don’t have the capacity to scenario plan, don’t think they’ll be affected, or have simply switched off from the process altogether. “With under four months to go until the UK’s planned departure, firms still don’t have answers from government to the most basic questions about future trading conditions. The BCC continues to track progress on the key business issues and our risk register shows sufficient progress has been made on only a handful of issues. With so much still unclear, a transition period is vital to allow all firms the time to acknowledge and prepare for change.”


Starting your own business is an exciting and busy time B

eing confronted with the various financial and legal aspects of a business start-up can be extremely daunting. To help you on your way John Farrell, accounts senior at Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, shares his top 10 tips for start-up businesses. 1. Firstly, it is imperative that you are trading as the correct entity, whether it be a sole trader, partnership or limited company. 2. Make sure you have registered with the authorities such as HMRC and Companies House. 3. Select the correct record keeping system, including accountancy software packages (Xero, FreeAgent, Sage,

QuickBooks) to suit you and your business. This is important from the beginning so you can monitor how your business is performing. 4. Set up a business bank account with a bank that will help you and your business move forward. A good bank manager is important for the future, especially if you are looking to grow the business. 5. Discuss with an accountant any pretrading expenditure that has been incurred before commencement of the business. 6. Ensure you have the knowledge of all business expenditure that is allowable for tax purposes. Again, this can be discussed with your accountant.

7. Consider if VAT registration is required for your business. You may find that VAT registration is beneficial to the business before you hit the VAT registration threshold. 8. Ensure to record any business mileage. This can be claimed at 45p per mile up to 10,000 miles in any tax year and 25p per mile thereafter. 9. Make sure you are making provisions for tax liabilities at the end of the trading period. An accountancy software package can be tailored to assist you in this area. 10. For company directors, it is important that you are on the correct salary and declaring a reasonable level of dividend. A monthly profit and loss calculation can help you with this.

Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers offers a free onehour consultation for all Chamber members. To book contact 01244 34504 or email

John Farrell, Accounts Senior at Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers

3 tips for small businesses “I want to future-proof my business” is something clients regularly say to us at Hillyer McKeown (HM). In this situation, in place of a crystal ball, there are areas a business can focus on to reduce risk and provide firm foundations from which to build a solid future.

1. SMALL PRINT HAS A BIG IMPACT Pay attention to the Terms & Conditions set out in shareholder agreements and service and supplier contracts to avoid problems further down the track. All agreements and contracts must be fit for purpose and if you are a franchisee, it is particularly important to understand what you are agreeing to. If you are at all unsure, have a legal expert review any contract terms to check for potential bear-traps.

2. PROCEED WITH CAUTION WHEN TERMINATING A BUSINESS CONTRACT Before terminating a business contract, check if you can do it in a way that does not incur unnecessary expense. If in doubt, get a contract lawyer to review your position before taking any action as will incur a fraction of the cost of a contract dispute leading to litigation. An experienced dispute resolution solicitor can provide options to help secure a reasonable settlement and avoid a costly bill. 3. KEEPING ON TOP OF TECHNOLOGY We are living in a time of unprecedented change which is accelerating at such a pace that some businesses are struggling to keep up. Understanding

what emerging technology means for your business might be the difference between staying ahead and falling behind in the market. In the next five or so years, artificial

intelligence (AI) and machine learning are set to create opportunities to provide faster and more cost-effective services.

Hillyer McKeown offers legal and professional services for businesses.



New faces at Umbrella Marketing Team


ollowing the great results of our client survey, we’ve had a busy few months here at Umbrella Marketing Team. We’ve welcomed a host of new clients, each with unique businesses, ranging from innovative tech to interesting foodies. It’s not just our client list that’s growing, our team is too. Over the summer we welcomed two new team members. Charlotte, our newest account manager, comes from a background in the events industry, meaning she’s exceptionally organised and the ideal point of contact for our clients. She’s also a social media whizz, so whether it’s the dos and don’ts of hashtagging or how to get the best Instagram shots, she’s our resident expert here in the Umbrella office. Charlotte’s daily tasks involve keeping in touch with clients and ensuring their experience with Umbrella runs smoothly. Also new to the team is Lisa, a fresh graduate and our new content

writer. As members of the 5% club, it’s really important to us to develop our newer team members alongside our experienced marketers. Day to day tasks for Lisa involve producing content for client websites, blogs and other marketing collateral, while gaining a deeper understanding of marketing practices. We asked our new recruits how their time at Umbrella is going. Charlotte: ‘’My first few months at Umbrella have been great and I’ve enjoyed stepping up to the new challenges that the role has brought. I’ve felt really welcomed by the team and it’s a great environment to work in.’’ Lisa: ‘’I’m really enjoying working here at Umbrella. The team are very supportive, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot in the last few months. I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to produce content for a variety of clients and I’m excited to continue learning about the industry.’’

Left to right: Charlotte Sharpe & Lisa Humphreys

Tree Frog Digital to champion Neurodivergent talent in the workplace


nyone who knows Tree Frog, knows that we are passionate about promoting the benefits of autistic and neuro-diverse staff in the workplace. We are thrilled to announce that Tree Frog’s Director, Chris Grice will be a panellist at the Autism Future Employment Conference in 2019, alongside other local businesses, to promote the benefits of hiring staff on the autistic spectrum. Chris Grice has said “We are delighted to be involved in the event, especially as one of the smaller businesses on the panel. I feel it is really important that smaller businesses see that small steps towards inclusion can really help unleash the massive potential from the workplace.” The event organiser said “Businesses across the world are seeing a growth of up to 50% year on year by utilising and building a Neurodivergent workforce. However, there is still a


long way to go to ensure everyone is treated equally in the workplace. Only 16% of autistic adults are estimated to be in full-time paid work, according to the National Autistic Society. More often than not it’s only slight adjustments that are required for business to utilise skills such as attention to detail, adherence to patterns, the ability to repeat tasks and loyalty. It’s time to start seeing the ability, not the disability.” This event is about empowering businesses in Wrexham and North Wales with new employees who are autistic. At this event, the main focus will be on discussing employment of autistic adults within the workplace. We feel as though some employers are worried about trying to get the support for an autistic adult within the workplace as they wouldn’t want to get it wrong or they don’t know where to go for support. There are multiple strengths of hiring an autistic person as they have many

skills and benefits to a workplace such as creativity, they pay attention to detail and they always look for a new perspective. As an employer, you can play your part in making the world a more autism-friendly place.

Tree Frog Digital Limited Team

Ry’n ni’n hyrwyddo busnesau beth bynnag fo’u natur.

We champion businesses, whatever the business.

Yn Busnes Cymru ry’n ni’n closio at fusnesau. Eich busnes chi.

At Business Wales we get closer to business. Your business.

Gwybodaeth sy’n cael ei chasglu trwy brofiad ymarferol go iawn, profiad sy’n dod o waith caled.

Knowledge gained with real, hands-on, hard-earned experience.

A chi sydd biau’r cyfan.

And it’s all yours.

Gyda’n gilydd, ni yw Busnes Cymru.

After all, together we are Business Wales.


03000 6 03000



Zodeq launches new 360 service


CNW Chamber strategic member, Zodeq, has launched its new ‘Zodeq 360’ service, replacing the business’ current payroll and back office support services, with a much more comprehensive offering for businesses. Designed for the recruitment industry, Zodeq 360 gained its name in order to reflect the end to end service that Zodeq will offer recruiters. The new service will aid businesses in the efficient and compliant completion of day to day administrative tasks that are, whilst necessary, a timeconsuming burden for many

businesses. Both start-up and established recruitment businesses will benefit from a tailored service, designed to suit their individual requirements. Features available within Zodeq 360 include: invoicing, payroll, credit control, timesheet processing, an end-to-end pension provision service, access to industry leading CRM technology and HMRC administrative management (i.e. PAYE, VAT, NI and CIS). In the last 12 months, Zodeq has provided over £70 million in working capital to SMEs throughout the UK, in

addition to countless hours saved for business owners and managers on administrative time. Zodeq 360 will provide existing and prospective clients with a streamlined and cost-effective option that will keep recruiters compliant with current and future legislation, improve cash flow and productivity, whilst ultimately allowing businesses to work effectively, therefore injecting vital funds into the economy. Paul Cooney, Managing Director at Zodeq said of the new service, “We have been eagerly awaiting the launch of Zodeq 360. We believe it will make a significant difference for clients who struggle to find adequate time to focus on core responsibilities whilst dealing with the administrative burdens that go hand in hand with running a business. Ultimately, we want to help recruiters grow and thrive within the competitive recruitment industry.” Find out more about Zodeq 360 by visiting the Zodeq website Left to right: Keith Davidson and Paul Cooney from Zodeq and Mike Lowndes from Exchequer Solutions


Local film company help to raise £25,000 for Poppy Appeal


ocal Cheshire film company, Movement and Light Films, are delighted to have recently made a film for JCB as part of their Poppy Appeal. The film was a part of a campaign which helped to auction off a specially designed Mini Excavator. Filming took place on three separate occasions and at three separate locations, a studio in Worcestershire, a factory and also in the Machine Development Department at JCB. Movement and Light Films were shooting on their own top of the range 4k cameras and lenses as they wanted to produce the highest quality to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The auction concluded at the fantastic amount of £25,500. James Butler, from the Movement and Light

team, explained; “Having a film made to promote this was an integral part of the campaign to ensure that as much money as possible was raised for the Royal British Legion. We were honoured to be selected to be part of this fundraising campaign. The film was formatted for different social media channels and we are pleased that it had over 175,000 views across LinkedIn; YouTube, Facebook and Instagram”. Movement and Light have worked with JCB for a number of years now and it was great to be part of their fundraising efforts. The experienced and dedicated team create high quality, engaging video for their clients all over the UK and they are proud to be responsible for key campaigns for major players in recent years.

To view the film and find out how Movement and Light Films can assist your business, check out their website -

James Butler of Movement and Light Films



Inglewood Manor networking lunch success! O n 24th October, nearly 70 guests gathered at Inglewood Manor for an ever-popular networking lunch. Delegates were greeted by ‘new, old and non-member’ faces, whilst having the chance to create new contacts and say hello to previous connections. After a general networking session, guests were welcomed to the spectacular venue, before being seated ready for lunch. The menu for the day was a main of Roast Breast of Chicken, Braised Shallot with Crispy Roast Potatoes or Pea Risotto, Crumbled Goats Cheese and Mint Oil, followed by a sweet treat of Sticky Toffee Pudding and ice cream! Following from lunch, it was time for our guest speaker of the day to be welcomed. Davinder Lotay, Managing Director of Altimex and

MJ Lighting, took to the stage to enlighten guests on his business journey, starting from his move from Kenya to England, to his HND qualification in Opto Electronics, through to his journey and the process of becoming owner and Managing Director of his two companies. “It was so inspiring to hear the talk from Davinder” commented Warren Bidwell from Powell Commercial. “It was great to hear from an obviously passionate Guests enjoy the networking event at local businessman and the food this Inglewood Manor afternoon was excellent!”. and was another really successful After guests had heard Davinder’s event. Hosting our recent networking inspiring story, they had time to events has been great and I’ve really indulge in further networking, before enjoyed engaging with our members everybody headed back to their on a more personal level. I would busy days of business. like to extend my thanks to all that Dan Ward, Young Chamber attended and I hope to see you Coordinator, commented: “The lunch soon!” at Inglewood Manor was superb

Chamber members ride the waves at Surf Snowdonia! O n the 26th September, Chamber members gathered at Surf Snowdonia for an ever-popular Lunch and Networking event! Guests gathered in the Surf Snowdonia bar, where they had the opportunity to network, share best practice and gain valuable business connections. Following from this, guests were then taken to the board room, where Justin Everley,

Commercial Director at Surf Snowdonia, spoke to the room about his business journey and his career path that led him to his current position at Surf Snowdonia. Justin spoke about his life living in Australia and Qatar, before settling back in North Wales and beginning work at the popular ‘world-first inland surf lagoon’. Lunch was then served, with lasagne and cheesecake on the

menu for all in attendance, and it went down a treat! Guests then had the opportunity to take part in a free surfing taster lesson. As always, our Surf Snowdonia events are a popular hit, with many taking part in the surfing lesson and testing the waves. Laura James-Mowbray from The Development Bank of Wales said: “This event was awesome, the best event yet! I’m so glad that I took part in the surfing lesson and I can’t recommend this event enough to members of the Chamber!” “Our events at Surf Snowdonia are always so well attended and it’s fantastic to see the delegates enjoying the surfing lesson” commented Jenny Davidson, Membership Support & Events Manager at the WCNW Chamber. “Thank you once again to Surf Snowdonia, who’s hospitality is always outstanding, we appreciate your ongoing support. Thank you to the members in attendance, I hope to welcome you back to an event soon!” Chamber members ride the waves



Fantastic Chamber lunch and networking at The Celtic Arms


he West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce welcomed over 50 guests to a networking lunch held at The Celtic Arms. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Northop Country Park, The Celtic Arms seamlessly blends tradition and elegance to create a very unique dining experience, in a building that oozes rustic charm – the perfect place for a Chamber monthly networking lunch! The event started with members networking amongst one another, as they formed new business connections. Guests were then seated and welcomed to the venue by Dan Ward, Young Chamber Coordinator at the Chamber. After Dan had welcomed guests, food was then served! This included a pan-fried chicken supreme, wrapped in Parma ham or butternut squash, sage & red pepper gnocchi

with garlic bread and Parmesan for our vegetarian guests. A superb dessert of rich chocolate torte, with salt caramel and pecan nuts followed – it most definitely went down a treat! After guests had indulged in the delicious food, it was then time for our guest speaker of the day. Julie Platt, Fundraising Manager from Chester Zoo, took to the stage to speak to delegates about the fantastic conservation work happening at the zoo. Julie informed guests of the breeding programs and botanical conservation that is currently being carried out, as well as the zoo’s updated animal numbers following their new sun bear addition - the first sun bear to be born in the UK! Emily Kench, Retailer Account Executive at deWinter, said: “We were thrilled to attend the event at The Celtic Arms due to the informative yet relaxed

Members enjoy conversation over lunch at The Celtic Arms feel that allowed us to not only network, but enjoy ourselves too. We’ve already booked for the next!” Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the WCNW Chamber, commented: “This afternoon was a fantastic networking lunch and turnout. Thank you to all Chamber members that attended, it was great to network and meet so many of you today; I would also like to thank the team at The Celtic Arms, the service and food was outstanding!”

Fabulous Chamber networking at the Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy


he 20th November 2018 saw a Chamber Networking Lunch return to North Wales in the stunning grounds of the Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy. Set on the idyllic Conwy Estuary, the 4-star Quay Hotel and Spa commands awe-inspiring views of the most magical scenery in North Wales – a perfect venue for a Chamber lunch! Just under 40 guests arrived at the beautiful venue and they had time to network amongst each other before being seated for their delightful twocourse meal. This form of Chamber networking gives guests the opportunity to build close connections with local business people in a relaxed environment. The guest speaker for the day was Jim Jones, Managing Director of North Wales Tourism, who informed attendees of the latest tourism developments in North Wales. Jim highlighted that a lot of the emphasis over the last few years has been about the promotion of North Wales as the adventure capital of the UK. There are a host of activities in the region for people to take part in including hiking, mountain biking and even surfing! Jim explained that a lot has been done to build the region’s

connection with countries abroad Japan in particular. Conwy embraced the Japanese culture earlier this year, as it was decorated in flags to welcome a Japanese delegation. Conwy Castle was also twinned with Japan’s Himeji Castle, which is the first time a relationship of this type has been done in the UK. Jim was very passionate about the development of this relationship and it was very much welcomed by those in attendance. “It was a great networking lunch at the Quay Hotel & Spa today. There were plenty of interesting guests who provided lots of dialogue and new connections. It was a fantastic presentation by Jim Jones who gave a highly informative and enthusiastic talk on North Wales being the leading provider of activity-based resources and the most beautiful region to visitors for all types of holidays. The region is set to increase visitor numbers from both domestic markets and as far away as Japan.” said Rob Evans, Centre Manager at Conwy Business Centre. Once Jim had spoken to guests, there was then more time to continue networking and to enjoy the stunning views from the Quay Hotel and Spa. Jenny Davidson, Membership Support

and Events Manager, said “As always, the Quay Hotel & Spa have been fantastic. The food and service were incredible and I’d like to thank the team for this. It was great to see so many guests at the event and I hope that you all had an enjoyable afternoon networking.”

The Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy



Chester Market O ver half a million people have visited Chester Market this year. The indoor market at the Forum Shopping centre has been transforming itself over the past year and is now at full capacity with a waiting list of traders interested in a stall. ‘That Beer Place’ is the latest business to open with a selection of 300 Craft beers, non-alcoholic beers and artisan gin. Also, just opened is a Caribbean food stall with Jerk Chicken, curried Mutton, homemade Jamaican ginger cake, pineapple punch and spiced rum. They join Stile Napoletano Pizzaria, Thai by Thai and Crustum that have all opened this year.

With Christmas fast approaching, Chester Market has the big day all wrapped up with award winning butchers and fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s a wide range of gift ideas, something quirky or unusual from handcrafted sculptures at ZimSimbi; film and TV collectables at Planet Anime and even those hard to find vinyl records from Bookingham Palace. There is a great choice of fancy dress outfits to choose from, as well as a nail bar and hairdresser for a bit of selfpampering before heading home. Not forgetting the decorations and wrapping paper of course!

New Chief Executive at Cheshire West and Chester Council


heshire West and Chester Council’s connections with the business community have been strengthened after it appointed a new Chief Executive with a comprehensive background in economic development. Andrew Lewis has taken up the high-profile role after leaving his position as Managing Director of Tees Valley Combined Authority, one of the first combined authorities in the country.

He offers a unique level of expertise after previously holding significant roles in the finance and business sector. His appointment is supportive of the progress being made within the Council, encouraging the growth of local businesses across the borough. Andrew said: “I am looking forward to serving the people of Cheshire West and Chester and working with a talented and dedicated workforce to deliver the best outcomes and opportunities for our residents.” He has begun his new role and replaces the retiring Gerald Meehan. Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “We are pleased to welcome Andrew to the Council as our new Chief Executive. Andrew has a wealth of experience in Central and Local Government that will serve the Council and our residents well.”

Left: New Chief Executive Officer of CWAC, Andrew Lewis


Right: Old Chester Library and site of Phase 1 for Northgate

Chester Market Seating Area

Visit for details about markets in West Cheshire and Christmas shopping times.

Next steps for ambitious Chester Northgate ‘fit for the next generation’ revealed


lans to build on Chester’s reputation as a prime leisure and culture destination have been revealed by Cheshire West and Chester Council. Following the recent news that the Council had been successful in securing the ministerial permissions needed to progress its Chester Northgate scheme, the vision for the next 12 months will now go before Cabinet and Council for approval in the coming weeks. The £60 million Phase 1 plans of the exciting mixeduse development, which will include a new relocated dynamic and modern market, six-screen cinema, restaurants, a public square and car parking, would see

work begin by the end of next year. Work to design future phases of the scheme to reflect recent fundamental changes in retail, and increase the importance of good quality housing, leisure and cultural attractions within the site will continue. Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, Councillor Brian Clarke, said: “We have a clear vision for Chester Northgate that will support a lively leisure and culture offer in the city, as outlined in the One City Plan. It will support local retailers and Storyhouse and also provide much needed jobs, car parking, housing and office space in the heart of Chester.”

Apprentice turns his hobby into a career


hat started as a hobby building BMX jumps in his back garden, led talented carpentry and joinery Apprentice from Cheshire College – South &West, Max Tonge, 19, into a career making high-quality bespoke furniture and kitchens. Max, from Frodsham, an apprentice at furniture makers Brownlow in Chester, said: “After my GCSEs, I started studying Carpentry and Joinery at Cheshire College – South & West. I’d always been interested in building things out of wood so it seemed like a natural choice for me. “After a few months, I applied for an apprenticeship at Brownlow. I was delighted

to get accepted as it meant I could learn from talented craftsmen, earn some money and still study at College.” Max started on a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery and then progressed onto Level 3. Max added: “Working for Brownlow is an amazing job. We custom build furniture that is unique and personal for customers. One of the most unusual requests was to design a secret door in the back of a wardrobe.” As well as developing his craft, Max has also grown in confidence since starting the apprenticeship. Max said: “I’m definitely more confident, as not only do we build the furniture in our

Cheshire College – South & West support region’s SMEs


use is an innovative concept in training, designed to meet the STEM and Digital skills needs of small and medium-sized businesses in Cheshire and Warrington. In response to these needs, Cheshire College – South & West have designed powerful training to future-proof business growth. Fuse has been developed and delivered by trusted local colleges and providers who are experienced in the delivery of skills training. And it’s free, if your business meets the basic criteria of employing fewer than 250 employees and is based in Cheshire and Warrington. Eligible businesses will be paired with one of our friendly Fuse Futurists. They will assess where the employee skills gaps are and identify bespoke training available to match your business needs. These are some of the courses available and more subjects are being added on a regular basis; l Leadership and Management Award – level 3 (A 2-day course + 2 written assignments) l Digital Marketing l Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing l Introduction to Robotics l General Principles of Big Data l Social Media Courses are delivered at Cheshire College – South & West at the Crewe, Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses. Remember, all eligible businesses can book onto the Fuse Programme and receive full funding. For course availability, dates, check eligibility or simply to receive further information: Call: 01270 654654 ext 4665 or 4797 Email:


L-R, Max Tonge and Andrew Barton, Director at Brownlow. workshop, we often have to deal with our customers face to face in their own homes when we fit the furniture.

The best thing for me is the satisfaction when job has finished and installed in a customer’s home.”

College partners with Harthill Cookery School


ighly acclaimed Chef and former Hospitality and Catering student, Brian Mellor, has recently partnered with the College, with hopes to inspire young learners from across a variety of departments. As Founder of the North West Young Chef Competition in 2002, Brian is passionate about teaching future young talent. The competition, now in its 17th year, has helped hundreds of chefs gain valuable contacts with producers, peers and mentors along the way. Brian commented: “Having started out many years ago at Cheshire College – South & West, I’ve been keen to work together where possible so have kept in touch. With the growth of their international links and major successes over the past few years, it really has evolved as a dynamic College. “I’ve always had a passion for teaching, having worked in training roles and teaching part-time in colleges alongside my career. I opened Harthill Cookery School in 2011 with the aim of bringing everything and everyone from my life as a Chef together. Chefs, cooks, butchers, bakers, preservers, patissiers, pit masters, foragers, makers of food and memories come to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students; they were full of

enthusiasm and eager to learn. I’m looking forward to becoming more connected over the coming months.” Brian has experienced many aspects of the food industry. At 23, Brian was a sous chef in a hotel, before being head hunted to work for a multi-national company. He said the in-house training was “like nothing he had ever experienced” and was also seconded several times to Michelin starred establishments. From here he wanted to ensure other young chefs gained the teaching and development opportunities that he was privy to at an early age. Brian hosted the first of several Gourmet Evenings at the AA Accredited and Award Winning Academy West Bar and Restaurant on 25th October, alongside Al Wycherly, from Manchester’s 20 Stories Restaurant. For more information about future events visit

Highly acclaimed Chef, Brian Mellor



MWL Systems gains Silver Microsoft Application Development Competency


n a move that has added to the company’s long list of achievements in 2018 so far, the team at North Wales based IT company, MWL Systems, has announced that they have achieved their latest Microsoft accreditation by becoming Silver Application Developers. This is recognition of the IT firm’s capability of developing bespoke software for its clients, based on leading Microsoft technologies such as SQL server and Achieving the Silver Competency required MWL Systems’ team members to pass high level exams, showcase the technology they have developed, as well as gather supporting customer references that evidence the team’s expertise in app development and the benefits it brings to clients. MWL Systems has invested in the growth of its development team over the past 30 years, having identified the opportunity to add significant value to a client’s business by writing bespoke software. With many businesses still encumbered with laborious paperbased systems or existing software that does not meet requirements, the MWL Systems’ development team use their skills, knowledge and experience

Left to right: Matt Kingsley-Williams and James Dawson, Senior Developer

to improve processes and systems by developing applications that are both easy to use and effective. The applications written by the MWL Systems team for its customers not only run on desktop PCs, but can allow a mobile workforce to connect using iOS or Android phones or tablets, ensuring businesses are operating productively, no matter where team members are based. Where the applications are hosted is entirely based on a client’s preference and capacity, hosting can lie with the customer themselves, within the MWL Systems data centre or hosted by a third-party data centre. Speaking about MWL Systems’ application development services, Head of Development, James Dawson, explains: “We can do whatever our customers ask of us – their headaches are our challenges and we love a challenge at MWL! We can help firms streamline convoluted processes, get rid of unnecessary paperwork and write applications that do exactly what they want, rather than compromise with off-the-shelf software packages. We favour the personal approach and encourage any existing or new customers not to hesitate in getting in touch and coming forward with whatever their business challenges may be – we are here to help!”

Another successful MWL Systems technology event


he team at MWL Systems hosted their biggest ever technology event in September with help from some of the leading names in the industry, and it was a great success. Held at the beautiful Craxton Wood Hotel, the event covered the considerations for businesses with regards to their network security. Having a thorough understanding of network security is vital for businesses, particularly in light of the increasing threat of cyberattacks, as well as the introduction of GDPR back in May, which places high importance of having effective cyber security in place. With a number of businesses expressing their struggles of understanding and implementing the right cyber security procedures and software into their business, it was decided that we would host this event to provide the vital understanding of this


issue that every business should have. In order to cover a wide variety of topics, we invited some of the world’s most recognised and respected technology brands to come and talk to delegates about how their software protects businesses from threats. Speakers during the event covered topics such as: l Cyber defence insurance l Cisco umbrella l Sophos threat detection & protection l HPE Nimble Storage l Aruba Networking l Microsoft Azure With over 20 delegates in attendance, we began the day with networking and a delicious breakfast provided by Craxton Wood. Following this, we began the first of six talks from our industry experts, rounding the day off with lunch and further networking. Feedback of the event was extremely

MWL Systems’ Technology Event in full swing positive, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have made a difference in supporting businesses in the local area with the network security. Are you looking for further information, guidance or advice on the best IT solutions for your business? We run regular workshops on a range of topics, designed specifically for SMEs looking to enhance their business’ IT.

New homes on the horizon


hree new housing developments are set to come to fruition early in 2019, bringing a boost to the Cheshire West housing market. The properties are being built by Sanctuary Homes in Blacon and the villages of Elton and Saughall. Thirty homes will be delivered for affordable rent across the three sites and all are expected to be ready in the spring. Around £3 million is being invested in the properties, which are being part funded by Homes England and the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. A total of 19 properties will be built on the site of the former Highfield pub, off Western Avenue in Blacon, comprising six three-bedroom houses, five two-bedroom

houses and eight onebedroom apartments. In Elton, a small former garage site at Whitefields is being converted into four one-bedroom apartments for affordable rent, while six onebedroom apartments are also being built at Church Road in Saughall. As part of each development, Sanctuary is giving back to the local community through a number of projects, working closely with the Highfield Allotment Association to provide a composting toilet and new shed. It is also running a competition with Elton Primary School for pupils to come up with a name for the completed development there, an initiative that has already proved successful in Saughall. Danielle Wrigley, Senior Development Manager at Sanctuary, said: “These homes are a welcome addition to the Cheshire West housing market and we are proud to be playing our part in addressing the housing crisis.”

Plans for new medical centre and apartments in Blacon


new medical centre and apartments in Blacon have moved a step closer following a public consultation. Sanctuary Homes wants to build the surgery on land next to the existing Parade Enterprise Centre. The proposal also includes 12 one-bedroom and four

two-bedroom apartments for affordable rent above the medical centre. Plans were shown to the public in September at The Parade Enterprise Centre, which is run by Avenue Services, a joint venture between Sanctuary Group and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The new apartments will be built beside The Parade Enterprise Centre in Blacon


Celebrating diversity with new murals


olourful murals celebrating inclusivity and diversity have taken pride of place at Blacon Adventure Playground. Staff at the adventure playground, which is run by Avenue Services, created the eye-catching designs to promote a message of welcome and inclusion to people of all backgrounds, regardless of race, faith,

gender or sexual orientation. Community volunteers and the Public Health Team at Cheshire West and Chester Council lent a helping hand painting the murals, while children who use the adventure playground also created their own signs which are now on display around the Kipling Road site.

Volunteers helped to create the colourful murals

Colourful celebrations at 10th annual Purple Day


here were colourful celebrations as older residents in Chester came together to enjoy Sanctuary Housing’s 10th annual Purple Day in October. More than 80 people, many wearing striking purple attire, attended the event at Blacon Adventure Playground to enjoy socialising and a wide variety of activities and entertainment. Purple Day is an annual celebration for older people, held to coincide with Older People’s Day and inspired by the well-known Jenny Joseph poem ‘Warning’, which opens with the line: ‘When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple…’ The event was once again organised by members of Sanctuary’s Group of older people living in Sheltered Housing (GOSH Enterprises); visitors enjoyed stalls, bingo, Zumba and live music.

Guests enjoyed a spread of tasty free refreshments and local organisations including Age UK, PennySmart and Deafness Support Network, along with Sanctuary’s own maintenance and telecare teams, were on hand to offer advice and information. Maggi Dempsey, Sanctuary’s resident involvement officer, said: “Purple Day is always a wonderful occasion and our 10th anniversary celebration was once again a truly inspirational event for all involved. We’d like to say a big thank you to all who attended, the Sanctuary suppliers who supported the event and to the GOSH group for all their hard work. “We are committed to helping our residents lead happy, healthy lives and events like Purple Day that bring the community together have a very important part to play.”



1 in 4 UK SME owners would consider taking extreme risks 55% admit they will dip into personal savings to keep their business afloat By PAUL SLAPA, Head of Direct Sales, Wesleyan Bank


ore SME owners are considering taking extreme measures to raise business finance potentially due to a lack of knowledge of alternative funding solutions. Wesleyan Bank’s annual ‘SME Heroes or Zeros 2018’ research surveyed over 500 UK SME owners about their prospects, growth plans and attitudes towards risk. This year’s survey highlights a worrying trend which suggests more business owners are prepared to do whatever it takes to see their business flourish. INCREASED APPETITE FOR RISK? One in four would consider resorting to illegal activities and many are willing to compromise their personal lives and reputations to preserve their firm’s future. Established business owners are more likely to embark on unconventional strategies to enable their firms to prosper. 28% of those aged between 30 and 44 said they would be willing to resort to underhand methods and ‘gamble at high stakes’, up from 13% in last year’s survey. Almost half of those surveyed said they would take the risky step of cutting corners on their business insurance policies, with 30-44 year olds conceding that they were most likely to consider doing so. ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRADITIONAL LENDERS The research demonstrates a divergence of opinion between younger and more experienced SME owners based on their knowledge of external finance options and experiences of dealing with traditional financial lenders. A third of owners aged 45 and over said they receive a ‘poor’ service from their day-to-day business bank compared with just 5% of owners under 30. The fluctuation in views may account for why some are more likely to roll the dice instead of seeking alternative funding options which could be better suited to their business’s needs. Maturer owners will have had longer relationships with banks and traded through testing times, including a recession, and may not have received their desired financial support from established, high street lenders to

help them during challenging trading periods. In contrast, younger business owners who have formed a recent startup could well have benefitted from leading banks being more receptive to their immediate requirements. WHATEVER IT TAKES? There are many personal sacrifices SME owners would take if they needed to tighten their belts. Over two-thirds of respondents in Wesleyan Bank’s ‘SME Heroes or Zeros 2018’ report have dipped into their savings and 29% have downgraded their lifestyles, while a quarter would sell off important assets, such as a house or a car, in order to sustain their current business model. The most significant statistical rise is in those who have re-mortgaged their home – at 19%, which has almost trebled from the same survey in 2016. Other methods volunteered included selling precious possessions, using their inheritance or relying on a donation from a relative. ALTERNATIVE FINANCE SOLUTIONS ENSURE BUSINESS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE RISKY 30% of SME owners cited a poor understanding of alternative finance solutions as a reason for not borrowing money to grow their business. This suggests why a surprising number are open to taking unnecessarily high personal risks and unable to make appropriate funding decisions which suit both them and their business. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, the majority of successful and growing SMEs have cash flow requirements for a variety of reasons. These can range from their business being seasonally driven, unpaid invoices or a reduced appetite from their business bank to assist them further. Rather than accumulating more debt by relying solely on a bank overdraft facility, why not consider approaching an alternative finance provider to spread the cost of your short-term working capital liabilities, such as tax (6 or 12 months) and VAT bills (3-12 months)? By doing so, SMEs can gain more predictability over expenditure allowing them to smooth over peaks and troughs

Wesleyan Bank provide short, medium and long-term funding solutions for UK businesses. To obtain a free copy of the ‘SME Heroes or Zeros’ report, please visit our website, email or call 0800 980 9348


throughout the year. Furthermore, tailored asset finance solutions can cover all kinds of investment such as specialist equipment and IT software and services. By electing to spread the cost, typically over one to five years, business owners can benefit from having greater flexibility over their finances without compromising their existing banking lines. Customised finance plans with structured interest only payments also allow businesses to gain access to the assets they need to grow, without being constrained by large, upfront costs. Business doesn’t have to be risky, due to the plethora of external financial providers who can provide greater access to short, medium and long-term funding products. If your business is feeling unsupported it is advisable to seek advice from trusted specialists see what options are available to you. An increasing number of accountants and financial advisors are recommending alternative sources of funding outside of traditional high street lenders and can help you compare multiple options which are best suited to your requirements.

Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales at Wesleyan Bank


Accountancy firm shares its skills with the community


Chester accountancy firm has been busy sharing its knowledge with future business owners. Senior accountant, Alison Howell, and PR & Marketing Manager, Natalie Tomlinson, from Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers held a ‘SkillShare’ training session organised by Chester Voluntary Action. Chester Voluntary Action is a wellestablished umbrella organisation for charities and social enterprises in Cheshire West. The organisation delivers a range of support services to members, as well as delivering bespoke projects including Cheshire Enterprising Women; a oneyear project funded by NatWest/RBS Skills & Opportunities Fund. The project, which has engaged with over 150 women to date, aims to support women with a community

business idea or in the first stages of setting up in business or enterprise. The session, held at Industry, Handbridge, on Wednesday November 7, focused on accounting for startups and covered topics including accounting dates, VAT, accountancy software and expenses. “Starting a business can be extremely daunting, so when I was asked to give advice, I was only too happy to help,” said Alison, who has worked at the Chester based accountants for the past 14 years. “The session went really well and I hope I have given the ladies a helping hand for their journey ahead, I wish them every success for the future.” Joanne Stanton, development officer at Chester Voluntary Action said: “Alison and Natalie made everyone feel very welcome and pitched the session

perfectly as the women who attended were still in the early stages of starting up in business; they are definitely the friendly faces of accounting and made the whole process seem less daunting and mystifying to beginners. “Alison encouraged everyone to ask questions and everyone pitched in with comments, we look forward to working with Ellis & Co in the future.” For further information about Chester Voluntary Action and its projects visit

Wagtail receive Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Award


agtail UK are delighted to announce that they have achieved the Silver Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Award, as part of their continued work with the Armed Forces Covenant and support of the armed forces community. The Employer Recognition Scheme acknowledges employers who have provided exceptional support to the armed forces community and defence, by going above and beyond their covenant pledges. Wagtail UK are leading international specialists in detection dogs and dog handler training. It was a combination of compassion and expertise gained during a career spanning almost 25 years in the Royal Air Force, as an operational explosive dog handler, that led Managing Director, Collin Singer, to setting-up Wagtail UK in 2003. From their Flintshire

headquarters, Collin and his team of over 60 employees, train dogs and handlers and supply the dogs for the detection of explosives, drugs, tobacco, cash, ‘live’ body detection and conservation. Wagtail were formally presented with their certificate at a prestigious 2018-Armed Forces in Wales and ERS Silver Awards Ceremony. Collin Singer, Wagtail UK Managing Director, commented, “We’re delighted that our commitment to supporting the armed forces has been recognised with the Silver Award and are very proud to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant.” Through a 3-tier approach of bronze, silver and gold awards, the scheme recognises the different levels of commitment provided by employers. This allows the Ministry of Defence to publicly thank and honour those organisations for their support

Collin Singer, Managing Director Wagtail UK Ltd receiving the award from Brigadier Alan Richmond, OBE



A major cause of global warming is CO2 being released into the atmosphere. SME, Autichem Ltd may have found the solution by capturing it.


utichem Ltd specialises in designing and manufacturing new equipment and processes for the pharmaceutical, fine chemical and energy sectors. Based at Thornton Science Park, David Morris, Autichem Ltd’s Director, collaborated with Dr Olumayowa ‘Mayo’ Osundeko, on the Carbon Capture by DART Reactor project, through Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington. Focusing on algae’s capability to capture CO2 by photosynthesis, they developed the DART algae bioreactor which in tests, captured over 91% of carbon emissions - 59% more than the conventional gas sparging method. This patented invention overcomes one of the major challenges to biological carbon capture. The process uses waste water as a feedstock and they found that 88% of nitrogen and 93% of phosphorus in the effluent were removed by the algae within six days of cultivation. In addition, oxygen consumed by algae in the waste water effluent was reduced by 94%.

Professor Graham Smith, Dr Graham Spink and Dr Olumayowa (Mayo) Osundeko (also pictured below) David said: “It’s been brilliant. My researcher, Mayo, and I work really well together.” Mayo added: “David has always said you should listen to the process and design a product accordingly, rather than planning to do something and sticking to it. The first result was a ‘wow’ for me. It was very encouraging to see the results.” Originally a Warrington-based SME, interested in low carbon technologies, Autichem Ltd was eligible for support from the Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington project. Shortly after signing up, Autichem Ltd relocated to Thornton Science Park for the on-site facilities and connection with academics.

The main benefit for David was being able to see how a product realises its potential from an initial idea. He said: “It looks nothing like I imagined, but that’s what research and development is all about. “I have really enjoyed the project and having achieved something pioneering, we now need the opportunity to take it further!” Autichem Ltd is currently applying for additional research funding and actively seeking partners with emission problems. To get involved, please visit or call 01244 567 370

The University of Chester is a proud delivery partner of Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The combined resources from the universities of Chester and Lancaster support local SMEs in innovating and adapting low carbon technologies.

To find out more, get in touch with our Business Development team University of Chester: TINNA: / 01244 567370 Lancaster University: STEPHEN: 01524 510745 / 07779965574 / This project is part-funded by

20 22

Getting started Shoned Owen To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your background. I’m the founder of the first Welsh sunless tan brand and it’s called Tanya Whitebits. My name is Shoned but I’m more commonly mistaken for “Tanya”. I am married with twin girls and I have a pet dog which I refer to as the fur founder. What made you set up the business? My early career was in sports development and I was involved in setting up community clubs. One that stands out was a local amateur boxing club. I successfully helped them raise a development grant and find local premises. Sadly, their Head Coach passed away and the club didn’t have qualified coaches to run the boxing sessions. I stepped in as the only female coach and together, with a few other volunteers, we attended a coaching course to ensure that the club opened. I became a coach and part of the committee. The club continues to succeed with one boxer making it to the national finals. Since my full-time work contract was funded, I decided to pursue other options in case the funding stopped. Health, fitness and beauty come hand in hand and I’d always been interested in the beauty industry. I attended an accredited spray tanning course in order to set myself up as a mobile tanning technician and it fitted in perfectly around my full-time work and family.

What have been your main achievements and difficulties? I must be stubborn to have persevered with it because more doors closed than opened in the beginning. There is a lot of snobbery within the beauty industry and an unknown brand with a name compared to “marmite”, in the fact that you love it or hate it, was never going to be easy. But with perseverance, great testimonials and a faithful tribe, I now have over 200 stockists and an online shop. I’ve learnt a lot along the way and even had investment interest from a couple of ex-global brand managers who gave me more confidence. My highlight is getting this off the ground in the first place, I’m still pinching myself. I was never top of the class in school. I was very much middle of the road and I left school feeling a bit of a failure. I have since won Network She’s New Business of the Year, I have been a Finalist at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards twice and I was a Finalist at the Chamber of Commerce Awards in November. Acknowledgements like this, along with 5* customer testimonials, make it all worthwhile. It goes without saying that cashflow is the main obstacle and difficulty like every other business, but the good thing is that the brand is growing and sales have peaked in 2018.

GETTING STARTED NAME: Shoned Owen JOB TITLE: Founder & CEO Tanya Whitebits Ltd FROM: Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales

What attracted you to entrepreneurship? Why was this? I suppose I recognised a stubborn streak back in the day when the boxing club nearly folded. Everyone was ready to throw the towel in but I couldn’t see it fail. I recognised some personal strengths back then that have kept me going whilst launching my own brand. I saw a gap in the market and went for it. What are your career aims and aspirations? I would like my brand to become a household name. I would love to develop into a global brand and become the UK’s number one tan. What message would you give to fellow entrepreneurs or people looking to get involved in setting up their own business or organisation? It’s hard, relentless, difficult and there are sacrifices and struggles but it’s worth it. Keep at it, turn to as many lines of support as you can! Ask for help and support because it is there. It’s not always financial help but you can learn a lot from others. Being pro-active and making progress, even if it’s just baby steps, will help you develop in leaps and bounds.

Shoned Owen

How and when did the idea come about? I tried various products available on the market at that time, I found some to be orange in appearance or sticky after application. I decided to look into developing my own signature tan. I began to explore the formulation of sunless tan and my focus came to reality in the creation of Tanya Whitebits. Who are your target audience and what is the main aim of the organisation? My Target audience is mainly women, although my products are gender neutral. The most popular age category is 25-34. We aim to bring some fun into the industry and have very interactive social media with our Facebook having over 5k followers and Instagram with a tribe of 13K followers.



Light bulb moment for Chamber at Christleton High School and Bryn Tirion Hall School W

est Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce (WCNW) selected Christleton High School in Chester and Bryn Tirion Hall School in Wrexham to host an outdoor art installation to help celebrate the first birthday of its innovative Young Chamber programme. The local Young Chamber’s logo was designed by Christleton High School student, Sam Dobson, and features a light bulb which inspired the schools’ outdoor #lightbulbmoment art installation, featuring individually decorated plastic light bulbs, designed by the students, hanging from a tree in the schools’ grounds. Each light bulb features words written by the students, highlighting how the Chamber has individually inspired them. The WCNW Young Chamber launched last year following a

Sam Dobson, pupil at Christleton High School, who designed the Young Chamber logo


Chamber survey, which revealed that 88% of local employers didn’t believe school leavers were ‘work ready’. Its sole purpose is to help bridge the gap between businesses and the education sector to help prepare students for the workplace. Christleton High School was one of the first schools to participate in the Young Chamber initiative. Schoolchildren have taken part in a programme designed to introduce them to skills needed in the world of work, from mentoring and CV writing to mock interviews and enterprise schemes. Bryn Tirion Hall School also joined the Young Chamber programme at an early stage last year. Students have taken part in an enterprise scheme to design and sell their own products – utilising the skills of the Young chamber sponsors, including finance, marketing and project management, they then presented their achievements to local business leaders. Young Chamber has received phenomenal support from the local business community, with over 85 sponsors secured over the past 12 months. Local Young Chamber sponsors and Chamber representatives visited the schools to officially celebrate the anniversary with children and teachers. Debbie Bryce, CEO of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, commented: “We are delighted that the schools are joining us in celebrating our first birthday and Sam’s original logo design is now being brought to life with this wonderful light bulb moment installation. “To see the Young Chamber grow so much in just 12 months – becoming one

of the fastest growing Young Chamber initiatives in the UK - is amazing and testament to the demand for this type of support.” WCNW Young Chamber is one of the first in the country to offer free memberships to schools and is one of the fastest growing Young Chamber networks in the UK, already providing business insight to over 950 students in the area. Visit for more information and to get involved. Pictures were kindly taken by Young Chamber Sponsor Ian Cowes of Goldy Solutions.

Top: Christleton High School Students enjoy setting up their #lightbulbmoment Above: Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales at Weslyan Bank, helps Bryn Tirion Hall School students with the lightbulb installation

Young Chamber sponsors with students and teachers from Christleton High School


Wesleyan Bank host Young Chamber workshop O

n 15th November, year 13 students from Helsby High School attended a Young Chamber Workshop hosted by Wesleyan Bank in Northwich. Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales, welcomed the students to Wesleyan Bank’s offices and then gave an overview of the company, its history and the role it plays in providing tailored commercial finance solutions for businesses in the region. The project for the day was then explained to the students; they were tasked to create a new service, or customer feature, that would make the process of applying for mortgages easier. The group would then present their new idea to Paul and the Wesleyan team. The students quickly identified that a mobile app would be an ideal new feature. This app would be used by customers so they could easily access support and apply for mortgages in a simple manner. They then started work on a presentation and Paul was on hand if any additional support or input was needed.

As part of the workshop, the students also took part in one-on-one mock interviews. This gave them essential experience on how to present themselves; students then presented to the room and feedback was given on areas where they could improve in the future. Commenting on the event, Paul Slapa said, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with Helsby High School, supporting their BTEC business students with challenging tasks and mock interviews, all with the aim of providing them a true insight in to working in financial services. At Wesleyan Bank, we are committed to supporting young people who are looking to learn about finance, and who may have the desire to work within our industry, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. The students were enthusiastic and it was a pleasure working with them – it was great to see them all contribute, and it was clear that they really wanted to learn throughout the day. We look forward to working with

Paul Slapa speaking to Helsby High students Helsby High School again in the future, along with other local schools who are active in providing their students with these types of experiences.” One of the students, Molly, added “The recruitment day was a really useful opportunity to practice mock interviews and get honest feedback from a real business. It has made me feel more confident about applying for jobs in the future.”

Young Chamber Enterprise goes wild at Chester Zoo! A

s part of their Young Chamber Enterprise Project, Penrhos Ave Alternative Education Centre, based in Colwyn Bay, recently visited a Chamber Networking event at Chester Zoo. The Young Chamber Enterprise Projects aim to teach pupils the skills needed to run their own business, going through product development, financing and marketing of goods created by themselves. Three pupils from the Education Centre attended the networking event in order to conduct market research into products they had created. They displayed a range of upcycled products which ranged from jazzy clocks to glowing bottle lamps and stylish aprons made from donated shirts. Before commencing their research, the pupils joined the other guest on a private tour of the zoo where they saw

animals including Rhinos, Andean Bears and Capybaras. Once the tour had been completed, the pupils then surveyed delegates to establish if the products they had on display were desirable and if so, how much delegates would be willing to pay for them. With over 60 guests in attendance, this was a great opportunity for the pupils to source a large amount of data! The feedback for the products was amazing, with a member of the zoo staff asking if they could buy one of the products there and then! “I really enjoyed this day, I found it

incredibly interesting to hear different peoples’ opinions about our products, and enjoyed the networking side – meeting different potential buyers and hearing about what they do and what they thought. I feel today was really beneficial for our business, and am excited to go over the surveys to see what everyone thought.” Said one of the students on the day. Dan Ward, Young Chamber Coordinator, commented “This was our first Young Chamber event of the school year, and it was a fantastic success! The products that the pupils have created are outstanding and this was reflected by the comments we’ve received from delegates on the day. I’m looking forward to the next stage of the Enterprise Project and to see how the pupils’ business progresses.” Students from Penrhos Ave Alternative Education Centre taking part in the project



MARK BODDINGTON WCNW: To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your background. From a very young age I was passionate about wood and furniture; on my visits to Boddington’s Brewery it was not the beer that interested me most, but the cabinetmaking shop, where the team would make everything from beer barrels to bar tops which were French polished mahogany. My family were incredibly supportive of my passion for wood and having won many prizes at school for woodworking, I decided to study furniture making at college and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to study under John Makepeace OBE at Parnham House WCNW: What made you set up the business? After deciding not to follow my father and uncle into the Brewery, my mother encouraged me to undertake a training course with John Makepeace and to follow my passion for furniture making.

WCNW: Once the idea was formed, what did you do next? In 1985, on graduating from Parnham and inspired by early use of inlaid silver in furniture, the name Silverlining was conceived. The first Silverlining workshop was established on the Grosvenor Estate near Chester. As the business grew, we were commissioned to work on on several pieces for the Duchess of Westminster’s home, and commissions for Kevin Costner, the late David Bowie, Madonna and Tom Ford. Now the company has grown, we employ 70+ people in a 30,000sqft state-of-the-art workshop, and as we enter our fourth decade, we look forward to continuing our pursuit of excellence, pioneering 21st century craftsmanship and above all, we are still exceeding our clients’ expectations WCNW: What are your main responsibilities? I am the chief sales person as well as the founder, but more recently we have taken on senior management staff to free up my time to work on new concepts.

Founder, Silverlining Furniture Group Limited

WCNW: What does a typical day involve? There is no typical day in the life of Silverlining. My day is led by our business and client needs and expectations, although we have a sales team in place, some clients prefer to see me directly, which I am happy to oblige, wherever they are in the world. WCNW: Who are your target audience and what is the main aim of the organisation? Our current client base is celebrities and ultra-high-net worth individuals. The company’s vision is to be the world’s most inspiring furniture maker of the 21st century using design, innovation and craftsmanship. WCNW: What projects are you currently working on? We are currently setting up our Academy of Hand Skills, which will open in spring 2019. The aim of this Academy is to provide muchneeded postgraduate furniture making training. The Academy will provide intensive high-level theoretical and practical tuition in furniture making and finishing. A piece made by Silverlining Furniture


THE BIG INTERVIEW WCNW: How have things gone so far? Since moving to Wales in 2014, the company has achieved astonishing growth, growing from 2.2 to 7.8 million. We have grown our exports from 7% to over 86% in the last four years, exporting to 14 countries last year. And we have started to open up two new geographical markets in the Middle East and Asia. WCNW: Any difficulties? If so how did you overcome them? Our first yacht project was a steep learning curve, discovering the technical requirements of dealing with the changes in temperature and moisture, to the vibrations on a moving yacht and the confines of the rooms. Experience has made us more attentive designers and uncompromising furniture makers. Following the downturn in 2008, we questioned our clients about our products and services, we then adapted our working practices based on their feedback. WCNW: Looking ahead, what are your main aims for the organisation and how would you like it to develop? Setting up the Academy of Hand Skills is a very important project for Silverlining. The goal is to create a learning environment where the skills of yesterday can be retained, alongside the exciting opportunities technology brings today. WCNW: How have businesses and individuals responded to what you’re offering? When a client discusses their next project with us they know they will be taken on a creative journey, from design to delivery. Our clients commission us to work on projects for them time and time again as do their children. WCNW: What are your career aims and aspirations? Is there anything else in particular you’d like to achieve in your lifetime? My other passions include growing rare organic vegetables and cooking them, along with other locally sourced seasonal ingredients. I would like to open a restaurant and win a Michelin star before I retire. Mark Boddington

27 27


Businesses remain confident as Brexit approaches A

s Brexit quickly approaches, confidence remains steady for businesses in the region, according to the latest Quarterly Economic Survey from the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. The survey, which took place between 27th August and 17th September 2018, saw over 90 businesses from West Cheshire and North Wales take

part. It revealed that business confidence has increased to its highest level since the EU referendum in 2016 and remains above the North West average. Elsewhere in the survey, domestic sales and orders growth rose to a one-anda-half-year high, which could be a reason for the increased confidence for businesses in the region. However, there was concern for those businesses that trade

overseas as export orders growth slumped to a twoyear low. Firms continue to be plagued by recruitment difficulties, with just under 80% of businesses that tried to recruit staff in the last three months encountering problems. Concerns around inflation, interest rates and competition all rose, whilst business rates, exchange rates and corporation tax concerns eased.

Commenting on the results, Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, said; “Our latest survey shows that businesses in the region remain confident, despite ongoing political and Brexit uncertainty. It will be interesting to see if confidence remains steady in next quarter’s survey, as businesses will know the outcome of both the EU Summit and the Chancellor’s Budget. We wanted the Budget to deliver radical, decisive action to boost growth and productivity at precisely the moment that the economy needs it most. There was never a more important time for the government to bolster business investment, competitiveness and productivity, in the face of significant Brexit headwinds and it will be interesting to find out how businesses have responded to the announcements.”

In Focus with Clever Jellyfish C lever Jellyfish, based in Ellesmere Port, are a telemarketing and business development company that help small and medium sized businesses gain more clients. Lisa Whitehouse, Managing Director, talks us through her response to the Q3 2018 QES; You’ve reported an increase in turnover and profitability and are confident this will continue in the next three months. Can you explain the reasons behind this? We’re seeing increasing demand as businesses look to control costs. Our clients choose to outsource their sales process to us rather than employ a BDM, particularly if they don’t need a full-time resource. They get flexibility, reduced costs and access to skills that would be hard to retain on a part time basis. This has led you to recruit new staff and you are also set to increase your investment in training. Could you expand on this? As our client portfolio grows,


we’re expanding our team. It’s key that we can find the right calibre of person to deliver for our clients and investing in training is an important part of this. You mentioned that inflation is a concern for business. Is there any particular reason why? Rising inflation is always a cause for concern, as it can mean rising costs as things like business rates and costs of travel go up. Rising inflation can also mean lenders are more cautious, and with businesses nervous of investing too, this can curtail growth generally. What would you say is the biggest challenge facing businesses in your industry at the moment? The biggest challenge in our industry currently is the rapid pace of change. With relatively new trends, such as social selling, changing the traditional landscape of sales which means we always have to learn and adapt!

Lisa Whitehouse, Managing Director at Clever Jellyfish

WANT TO APPEAR IN THIS FEATURE? Complete our Quarterly Economic Survey when it next lands in your inbox to be in with a chance!


Benefitting your Business through exports – an introduction to your local International Trade Adviser


y name is Veronica Dawson and I am your local International Trade Adviser. I meet many businesses in my role - all shapes and sizes, from a sole trader or micro business operating out of a workshop at home, to multi-nationals employing hundreds of people across the globe The common denominator across all, is the benefit that exporting opportunities bring to the business and ultimately, the profitability. Exporting can: l Increase your sales potential – is the domestic market saturated with your product or service?

l Increase your profit – overseas order volumes may generally be much larger than domestic l Drive your product / service development – recognise opportunities to adapt to a global market l Spread your risk – market demand can change rapidly – if you have global customer greater opportunity to mitigate l Extend the life of your product – seasonal requirements l Use spare capacity thereby lowering overheads A survey undertaken by the DIT on SME activity concluded that 75% of export focused businesses were profitable, 79% of those agreed that accessing export markets had enabled them to achieve fuller capacity and 66% believed that their exporting activity had encouraged them to be more innovative with their products and services. And how can we help you to achieve this success? The Department of International Trade, through local advisers, are here to help you make the most of opportunities and support your export journey. We can also help you select markets, connect you with colleagues

overseas and keep you up to date on latest Government guidance. Through our Exporting is Great Website – - we provide the latest opportunities for UK businesses posted from overseas. I host a ‘drop-in’ clinic at the Chamber every month, which gives businesses the opportunity to find out about the latest DIT services and I am also able to assist with more specific export queries. The next clinic will take place on 10th January 2019 at the Chamber, for details please contact Hayley Gray ( In the next edition of the Chamber Magazine, I am having a Q&A forum, which will give businesses in the region an opportunity to send in their queries about International Trade and I can hopefully ease their concerns and offer solutions to their problems. If you have any questions, please send them to Matt Hodgson ( by the end of January 2019. In the meantime, I would like to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Veronica Dawson, International Trade Adviser at The Department for International Trade

Export Team welcomes Janet McEneany Our Export Team is ever-growing with the addition of Janet McEneany, here she tells us about her journey to becoming our latest Export Documentation Officer.


rowing up in Liverpool, I began my working career as a Civil Servant, based in Bootle, working for the Department of Environment in Purchasing and Supply. After several enjoyable years there, the office was relocated to the prestigious Royal Liver Building on the world-famous Liverpool waterfront, overlooking the River Mersey, which was an exceptional place to work. After almost eight years, I decided a new challenge was needed, and this is where my involvements with exporting started with a Liverpool based firm. A few years later, a job opportunity came up on the Wirral working for a clay manufacturer. My role was processing sales orders for both UK and overseas customers, which held an added bonus of a spectacular view across to the Liverpool skyline. Living in Wallasey at the time and

happily married, our first son Luke arrived. Taking time off from work and looking after Luke in the day, gave me the opportunity to study at night school, where I gained an HNC in Travel and Tourism Management. With this qualification now under my belt, I returned back into work as a Wirral Town Guide, before becoming part of Birkenhead Town Centre Management, based within Wirral Chamber of Commerce. After the arrival of our daughter Lucy, I returned back to the Chamber in a part time role in crime reduction and then eventually on to exports, which I am still doing today. After 16 years I felt it was time to move to pastures new, hence my recent arrival in the beautiful city of Chester, where I bring my documentation and certification experience to the export department of West Cheshire and North Wales

Chamber of Commerce. I am excited about my new role and I am really looking forward to helping and supporting all of our exporters. Janet McEneany, our new Export Documentation Officer



An Insight with Platts Animal Bedding Caroline Thedens, Managing Director of Platts Animal Bedding Tell us a brief overview of your role and the company R A & C E Platt Limited was established in the 70’s by my parents, who were farmers at the time. Sourcing sawdust from local joinery shops as animal bedding for their own livestock, but faced with an abundance of product, they began hand-bagging and selling to local neighbouring farms. The business grew from there and today remains a family-owned firm. I’ve been Managing Director since 2005 and we now employ 56 staff across 3 sites on the Llay Industrial Estate. My career started in accountancy, before moving into management, and now much of my role is dedicated to business development and sustainable growth, to allow Platts to meet our goal of becoming market leader in the UK animal bedding market. In 2015, we opened Platts Commercial Services, which is now a DVSA Approved testing facility for HGVs - maintaining our fleet of 140 trailers. Can you tell us a short overview of an average day at work? I start the day with a coffee as I write my daily action plan - I tend to be over ambitious, so I have to watch that it doesn’t spiral out of control! I find that a list sparks idea generation. Mornings consist of checking emails and touching base with all teams to highlight any issues, areas for growth, improvement etc. I regularly meet with the heads of departments to ‘brainstorm’, review previous weeks’ operations and evaluate areas for improvement. We endeavour to run a ‘lean’ operation and these meetings trigger ideas for the continual improvement. I’m always looking for ways to further develop staff and recognise that Platts’ people are key to our success. We strive to build skill and efficiency within our team, enabling development and achievement of professional goals. What’s involved in the production of your animal bedding? Is there any specialist technology involved? Each year we prevent thousands of tonnes of waste-wood residue from being burned or sent to landfill, by providing an environmentallysustainable, bespoke recycling service


to the wood manufacturing industry. We transform this material into specialist animal bedding for the agricultural and equine markets. Specialising in bedding for dairy cattle, we produce products to keep cattle clean, dry and comfortable, allowing farmers to grow their profits. All our products are manufactured at our factory using bespoke technology, before being shipped out across the UK & Ireland using our own fleet of HGVs. How has the company grown in recent years? In recent years, Platts can demonstrate exceptional growth across several areas. However, most notably within the last 6 months, production capacity has increased from a 5-day week to 7 days, to meet growing customer demand. Seven additional full-time permanent jobs were created, with more planned to continue our growth. It certainly has been a busy year and we were delighted to be granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen in April. It’s also an

honour to have received the WCNW Chamber Business Growth Award, as well as our Apprentice Ross receiving the Young Person/Apprentice of the Year Award! Have you faced any particular challenges recently? As we rapidly grow, recruiting the right candidates can be a challenge, but one we’re in the midst of overcoming! Investing in our staff, alongside competitive salaries, seems to be key to attracting talent. What are your plans for the future? Each year we plan to continue investment with a cap-ex project, to make our growth strategy sustainable - so there’s always research to be done. This year we’re installing a new production line to increase production capacity and we’re already looking ahead to 2019-20. Currently, we’re looking for further land acquisitions, to support our growth and we shall continue market expansion in Ireland, despite what BREXIT might bring!

Caroline Thedens, Managing Director of Platts Animal Bedding


The Person behind the Business Darren Kewley, Technical Director at Protos Networks An overview of yourself and your current role. I am Technical Director at Protos Networks, an information networks and cyber security services provider based in Chester. I am also a licenced assessor for the government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme. My day-to-day role involves designing and deploying support networks and security solutions for our clients, as well as carrying out cyber security and data protection audits. I am also responsible for trialling and selecting new technology for our portfolio. What are your aims? The IT landscape has changed massively in recent years, and organisations are now starting to realise that the technology they use is integral to their operations. I believe that the old ways of consuming IT services – whereby companies pay a single provider for everything – are coming to an end, and businesses are going to rely on specialist partners for their technology. We specialise in just a couple of areas, and have a wide range of IT partners who use us to keep their customers connected and protected. We aim to grow our partner channel and become the go-to people for network and security solutions. Likewise, we also want to provide specialist support to busy IT managers I’m also keen to create a security operations centre (SOC) for SMBs, primarily staffed by analysts who are on the autistic spectrum. Employment rates for autistic people are poor, yet cyber security is one industry where their unique outlook on the world can be a real asset, this is something I have had my heart set on for a while, I now have the time to start looking into this.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Knowing that our solutions and advice actually help our clients. We take a consultative approach in everything we do and aim to ensure our customers really do get a return on investment from our services. Was a role like this always what you aspired to? Kind of, I’ve always consulted for larger organisations since I left the forces, but I always had a desire to see if I could get my own company off the ground. What I was missing was the business and finance acumen. Luckily my partner Joe is a qualified accountant, so that allows me to focus on the technology and consulting side of the business whilst he’s counting the beans. Tell us about your previous roles/ business journey. I joined the British Army straight from school, all of my friends were off to university but I fancied a bit of adventure. I served for 6 years in the Royal Corps of Signals as a Radio Systems Operator. My time in the forces took me to Germany, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Poland and Canada. After leaving in 2006, I moved into network engineering and worked freelance on contracts for the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and Thales Defence. My time as a consultant has also seen me working on projects for Unilever and MoneySupermarket Group. However, one of my more interesting roles was when I spent a stint as an embedded consultant to Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden between 2012 and 2014. During this time, I provided consultancy and engineering support for networks and security to a wide range of film productions, as well as the Warner Bros. Studios Tour – if you find yourself ever visiting Hogwarts Great Hall, it was yours truly who deployed the public Wi-Fi there.

Tell us a bit about what you do outside of work to relax. I enjoy taking my Labrador, Ruskin, for walks and getting in the gym to take my mind off the business for a bit. I’m also a bit of a history fan, especially anything to do with the Napoleonic Wars. In an ideal world, what else would you like to be? I used to do a bit of DJ-ing in my mid 20’s, playing house and techno music on the Liverpool underground scene. I know people who now fly all over the world, playing to thousands of people. Being a superstar DJ would have been cool, but I had to grow up. What advice would you give to anyone starting out? The first few years of running your own business can be tough! I’ve had moments when I thought about throwing-in the towel and going back to a nice, cushy consultancy role earning a healthy daily fee. However, you have to think of the bigger picture and why you started. Things may be tough now, but hard work and moving out of your comfort zone really does pay off. As Sir Winston Churchill once said “if you’re going through hell, keep going” – I think his advice is better than anything I could dish out.

Right: Darren Kewley, Technical Director at Protos Networks. Left: Darren spent six years in the Royal Corps of Signals as a Radio Systems Operator



Congratulations to all 2018 winners We feature here three of the category winners



n the past two years, Zodeq has surpassed any and all expectations that were set out at its incorporation, and has found tremendous success both on a local and national level. Zodeq set out to establish Chester’s very first invoice finance company, with the aim to support local businesses in their growth, add vital funds into the local economy and put Chester on the map as a destination for businesses

seeking financial support. Attending the Chamber’s Annual Ball and Recognition Awards on Friday 16th November, and winning the award for Start Up Business of the Year was the perfect way for the Zodeq team to celebrate its successes. Speaking of this achievement, Zodeq MD, Paul Cooney, has said: “Winning this award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Zodeq team. Zodeq has

experienced the best possible start to business that any of us could have wished for, and we look forward to supporting businesses in their growth for many more years to come. On behalf of the entire Zodeq team we would like to say a huge thank you to the WCNW Chamber for hosting such a fantastic event and congratulations to all winners and nominees.”





ongratulations for an excellent 2018 goes to Recycling UK, winners of the Export & International Trade Award. Recycling UK is one of the largest independent recycling companies in the United Kingdom. From their head office at Tarporley Cheshire and associate processing plants throughout the UK and Ireland they can cover most recycling needs. They also have office/joint ventures in Mumbai India and Waterford Ireland. They are traders of all grades of waste paper & plastic in the form of bulk loose, baled, or palletised material, surplus or damaged reels & redundant stock of paper and plastic packaging and supply to the UK, Europe, India and throughout Asia. Their wholly owned subsidiary OWP Ltd processes over 1500 tonnes per week at a dedicated plant at Oswestry situated on the England/Welsh border with material collected by various means within a 150 mile. radius &

also collect material throughout the UK and Ireland using trailers for delivery to Oswestry or to one of our associate processing plants. They are also heavily involved in a joint venture with Rick Waterson in the management and operation of MR&C Ltd and PaperSort UK Ltd. In July Neil Clarke and Simon

Marsden celebrated Recycling UK’s 20th Birthday by hosting a party night for staff, friends & partners at Piste Wine Bar in Tarporley which is just around the corner from where they started the company on 1st July 1998 Please contact us on: +44(0)1829 732471



he team at Edge Transport are incredibly proud and very humbled to win the Chamber Made a Difference 2018 award. It is extra special as we didn’t enter ourselves for the award, the first we knew was when we were told we were shortlisted! Our thanks go to Abi Smith at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd for our nomination. The Hospice is a place which is very close to our hearts, having looked after two members of

the Edge family, as well as Team Edge’s family and friends. From sponsorship and fundraising, traffic cones and hi-vis vests, to helping collect Christmas trees, it’s always a genuine pleasure to help and support our local Hospice. Abi Smith, Corporate and Major Donor Manager said: “We are delighted to be supported by Edge Transport and look forward to working together in the future to help even more local people

with life limiting illnesses in the community. Edge Transport regularly fundraise for the Hospice as well as support many of our events and we are incredibly grateful for their continued support.” “Without the support of companies like Edge Transport, we would not be able to provide free palliative care to local people in Chester West and Chester and Deeside.”

Without the support of companies like Edge Transport, we would not be able to provide free palliative care to local people in Chester West and Chester and Deeside.



Edge Transport celebrates making a difference! And asks what can you do?


inners of the Chamber Made a Difference award, Edge Transport is a progressive third generation family owned and family run business based on the Deeside Industrial Park. They are renowned for delivering high quality storage and distribution solutions across the North West and North Wales. Currently run by four Edge family members; Jonathan, his wife Nikki, his sister Jenny and her husband Richard, the company cites the 67 strong workforce ‘Team Edge’ as their biggest asset. ‘Team Edge’ ensures that the company exceeds customer expectations on a daily basis, driving growth and profitability. As well as storing and delivering pallets, they are a formidable force when it comes to supporting causes close to their hearts. ‘Team Edge’ were very proud and humbled to find out that Abi Smith, Corporate and Major Donor Manager at the Hospice of the Good

Shepherd, had nominated them for the Chamber Made a Difference Award. Abi said “Edge Transport regularly fundraise for the Hospice as well as support many of our events and we are incredibly grateful for their continued involvement. Without the support of companies like Edge Transport, we would not be able to provide free palliative care to local people in Chester West and Chester and Deeside.” Jonathan Edge, Managing Director, said: “As a family we have experienced the exceptional care that the Hospice provides first hand, as have some of our staff. The Hospice has always been there for the family in our time of need, providing palliative care for my father, Peter Edge, and brother in law Mark Brown. We want to help ensure the Hospice can support everyone else who needs them.” Edge’s support includes a 40ft trailer in a bespoke Hospice livery designed to help raise the profile of the

Edge Transport Limited, Fourth Avenue, Zone 2 Deeside Industrial Park, Flintshire CH5 2NR

Hospice, raising over £10,000 of ‘Team Edge’ sponsorship as well as supporting the Hospice events and Jenny helping to facilitate support from other companies. Edge have even helped by collecting Christmas trees! As well as supporting the Hospice, Edge also donate one vehicle trip per month to their customers to redistribute surplus stock to charities such as the Flintshire Food Bank and ‘The Real Junk Food Project’. Nikki Edge, Finance Director, said: “We would encourage all the Chamber members to think of what they could do to support a cause close to their hearts. It doesn’t have to be big. It might be as simple as donating some of your time or completing a sponsored event. Together we could have a huge impact and make a real difference.”

What will you do?

Tel: 01244 957400


Proud winners of Start-Up Business of the Year at the WCNW Chamber Recognition Awards Based in the heart of Chester, Zodeq offers a range of finance and back office support solutions to support businesses throughout the region.

01244 617 087


Financial support and how to find it F

inancial support is crucial if businesses in our region are to thrive in uncertain times. The message from those working in the investment sector is that the opportunities are there if you know where to look. Despite the current economic climate, more and more businesses are thinking about investment rather than cutting costs and the money is there with the right approach. One way of obtaining finance is going to the banks. Another way for businesses requiring injections of funds is to approach funding organisations or venture capitalists. Key to the process is identifying

priorities. What does the company want to achieve in the short term, where do they want to be in the midterm, what is the long-term vision? Where do they see their company in ten years and what kind of finance is required to make that possible? Through talking things through honestly and sensibly with the many funding bodies operating in West Cheshire and North Wales, companies can come up with an action plan which is based on a solid financial platform. None of the growth that the regional economy needs can happen without finance - and now is the time to find out more. The following chamber members have the experts who can help.

Local accountants celebrates 30 years

In establishing Ellis & Co transaction processed Chartered Accountants through your bank will be and Business Advisers in automatically captured. 1989, I put into practice As data is not stored my belief that chartered locally on a PC, users can accountants should work access their accounting in close partnership with records any time they have their clients; not just in an internet connection, documenting accounts and even via apps on their and completing tax returns, phones. but also in providing a high Optical Character level of management and Recognition (OCR) apps financial advice, essential can be used to scan for profitable growth in receipts on the go, once today’s markets. captured the receipts can Robert Ellis The team is currently then be binned (hurrah!). working hard to train and guide our The software also enables business clients through a huge change to the owners to view profit and loss reports, UK tax system. debtor lists, tax estimates and other key HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme financials. will have an impact on every business Ellis & Co are partners of the major including sole traders, partnerships and cloud accounting software providers companies, starting from April 1, 2019. and have the expertise to transfer The scheme will mean that businesses accounting records swiftly and will eventually need to use accounting efficiently. software to report their activities to Best of all, we are currently offering all HMRC each quarter. our clients three free hours of software Fortunately, there have also been training and set up with our in-house massive changes to accountancy software specialist. software in recent years; old fashioned Cloud accountancy software is ‘desktop’ packages which require revolutionising the way in which business hours of tedious data entry have been owners deal with their day to day superseded by a new breed of online accounting, don’t be left behind. cloud accounting packages. The software links directly to the For further information contact business bank account, so every Ellis & Co on 01244 343504.

Williams Financial Case Study


arol Powell, Protection Adviser at Williams Financial works closely with clients to understand their needs and provide advice in all aspects of personal, business and group protection. Carol expertly guides clients ensuring the best protection solution is achieved whilst representing high standards and ethical approach. Below is a real life case study, an example of how Williams Financial Planning can help. CASE STUDY In 2013 I met with Pete, Simon and Martin, they had recently formed a partnership purchasing shares in a professional practice. They had taken out a significant bank loan to finance the purchase, for which they all had joint and several liability. I advised upon; l Shareholder protection l Partnership Key Person protection l Business loan protection All three plans included critical illness cover, the total monthly premium was less than £90 pm. Unfortunately, Pete suffered a stroke at the age of 33. I offered support throughout the claims process and all 3 business protection plans paid out in full providing the funds required to enable the following; l The company repurchased Pete’s shares l Partnership lending was repaid in full l Funds were made available to Pete to support himself and his family Happily, his strength quickly began to return and Pete has now returned to work. The partnership loan has been repaid in full therefore there are no further monthly payments to meet, and Pete has additional financial security to support his family in the future. I was pleased that Williams Financial Planning were able to have played a small part in this.

Carol Powell, Protection Adviser




ince it launched a year ago the Development Bank of Wales has been busy opening its new Wrexham headquarters, recruiting new staff and supporting more than 80 north Wales businesses with loans and equity investments to help them start up, strengthen and grow. In money terms, the development bank has made an impact of £34.3m on the local economy, having invested £15.6m of direct funds and leveraged a further £18.7m in private sector finance. Behind those bare figures lies a real impact on people’s lives. Between them these

businesses have been able to create or safeguard a total of 741 jobs across the region in a number of industries including manufacturing, construction and hospitality. Their funding has supported businesses of all shapes and sizes but one thing they have in common is the role they have in the region, providing jobs and ploughing money back into their local communities. Every pound the development bank invests in north Wales helps keep someone in the region in work – and the businesses it supports provide work for other local businesses too. Neil Maguinness, Director of

Risk, Compliance and Legal who is based at the Wrexham HQ said: “The Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan includes a focus on strengthening Wales’ regional economies. The number of businesses we have been able to support in this region is a testament to how accessible our services are, be it through the online Eligibility Checker, or through traditional face to face contact, that our customers value so much. “We’re delighted to see ambition and appetite for investment from businesses in the region, supported by a vibrant business community here in north Wales.

Managing your financial responsibilities with effective back office practices


hen it comes to your business’ financial responsibilities, ensuring areas such as invoicing, credit control, payroll and others, alongside running your core business, can often seem like a juggling act, particularly for recruiters. A mistake often made by business owners is to delay these tasks, time and time again. Delays will ultimately

impact the business further down the line, with regards to cash flow, customer satisfaction and compliance. Having supported businesses seeking financial support for a number of years, the team at Chester invoice finance provider, Zodeq, oftens see the strain that these timeconsuming administrative burdens put on growing businesses. In direct response

to this, Zodeq has developed Zodeq 360, a comprehensive back office support solution designed specifically for the recruitment industry, that allows business owners to focus on growing and running their core business by taking care of these administrative tasks. This proactive service is run by an expert team, who has vast experience in completing these tasks. Zodeq 360

Paul, Natural Ambition Wrecsam / Wrexham

Neil Maguinness, Development Bank of Wales

customers will receive access to leading CRM software, payroll, HMRC administration management, invoicing, credit control, timesheet processing and a pension provision service. Find out more about how Zodeq 360 could enhance your business

Ein busnes ni yw helpu ariannu’ch busnes chi. It’s our business to help finance yours.

Rydym ni yma i ddarparu cyllid o £1,000 i £5 milliwn ar gyfer busnesau yng Nghymru. Ymgeisiwch nawr: We’re here to provide finance from £1,000 to £5 million for Welsh businesses. Apply now: Nid yw Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc wedi’i awdurdodi na’i reoleiddio gan yr Awdurdod Rheoleiddiol Darbodus na’r Awdurdod Ymddygiad Ariannol, felly ni all dderbyn adneuon gan y cyhoedd. Mae meini prawf cymhwyster a benthyca yn berthnasol. Darganfyddwch fwy yn The Development Bank of Wales Plc isn’t authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulatory Authority or the Financial Conduct Authority, so it can’t accept deposits from the public. Eligibility and lending criteria apply. Find out more at


} Our unique VAT funding plan helps you spread the cost of a quarterly bill or provides an annual facility to cover a year’s worth of bills } Tax funding is simple and quick allowing you to spread your liability over 6 or 12 months Wesleyan Bank is a specialist provider of finance solutions to businesses like yours, supporting you in your ambitions for growth and success.

Part of the Wesleyan Group, providing insurance, protection, and finance.

For more information: n n n 0800 980 9348

Wesleyan Bank Ltd (Registered in England and Wales No. 2839202) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No.165116). Registered office: PO Box 3420, Colmore Circus, Birmingham, B4 6AE. Tel: 0800 358 1122. . Telephone calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes. wb_ad_bm_vat 11/18


Brexit uncertainty - What will it mean for your business?

by Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales at Wesleyan Bank


he ongoing uncertainty over the terms of the UK’s long term Brexit strategy continue. All sides continue to be at loggerheads, outside influencers such as Donal Trump have their say and in the midst of it, British business wait to see how terms finally agreed will affect them. As Britain edges closer to leaving the European Union on 29th March 2019, predictions of financial disaster thus far appear premature and there is evidence to suggest that Britain’s small and medium sized businesses have reasons to be optimistic. Following stronger than expected consumer spending, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has raised its GDP forecast for 2019 from 1.3% to 1.5%. Britain’s manufacturers are also feeling a sense of buoyancy with new orders at their highest level in a generation. While the UK’s economic recovery remains modest, the BCC’s estimates suggest that with the right support SMEs can flourish despite facing ongoing competitive and cost pressures. These green shoots of recovery suggest that British businesses that are prepared to invest and seek alternative sources of funding are in a stronger position to drive growth. This view is shared by the findings of Wesleyan Bank’s new ‘SME Heroes or

Zeros 2018’ research, which highlights a growing sense of positivity based on an in-depth survey of over 500 UK SMEs from a variety of sectors. Overall, UK SMEs are feeling upbeat about the future as highlighted within the survey of business owners which reveal: l 65% of SMEs anticipate achieving growth of up to 40% in the next two years l Just 11% of UK SME owners admitted to being ‘concerned’ about the potential impact of Brexit SMEs are increasingly open to seeking out external funding rather than using traditional borrowing methods such as business overdrafts and credit cards to support their short, medium and longterm needs. The results of this year’s ‘SME Heroes or Zeros’ survey suggests a growing awareness of the benefits of using alternative finance to invest in new equipment or technology to facilitate growth. 59% of UK SMEs said they had used external funding on at least one occasion compared to just 30% in 2016. Although knowledge is growing steadily year-on-year, these statistics demonstrate that specialist lenders still have work to do to highlight the benefits of using alternative finance in helping growth and supporting working capital. The ‘SME Heroes or Zeros 2018’ report

reveals that 38% of UK SMEs are less likely to seek funding from high street lenders, based on previous experiences. With greater access to funding and lower interest rates, it appears that more SMEs are exploring alternative finance as a growth accelerator and possess a wider understanding of how it can benefit their business. Wesleyan Bank’s “SME Heroes or Zeros 2018” provides top tips and comprehensive insight into the views of over 500 SMEs on the current factors affecting the majority of businesses in the UK. The report analyses their levels of optimism as Brexit draws closer, projected growth and profitability forecasts, attitudes towards risk, planned areas of investment and perceptions of alternative finance. If you would like to download the report visit attitudes_to_finance_form1

Late paying customers – are they just a fact of life?


ccording to research earlier this year by MarketInvoice, 62% of all invoices issued by SMEs in 2017 were paid late. The culture of late payment for UK businesses seems to be getting worse, compounded by larger corporations who insist on long payment terms. This can be crippling to small businesses in the UK who may have VAT or Corporation tax bills due. Wesleyan Bank is a specialist provider of short-term finance solutions for businesses, helping to spread the cost of liabilities that could otherwise have a detrimental impact on short-term success and growth.


We can spread the cost of your tax liability over 6 or 12 months, and fund your upcoming VAT bill by quarter, or using a multi-quarter facility. A competitive finance solution can help your business ease the peaks and troughs of cash flow in your business and mitigate the damage that can be caused by late payments.

Wesleyan has had the interests of its members at its core since it was founded in Birmingham in 1841. Wesleyan Bank offers a range of commercial finance products to SMEs that cover long to short-term loan and lease products to fund expenses such as Tax and VAT bills, insurance premiums, IT and other asset acquisitions. For more information on any of the funding products we can provide to SMEs please visit or call the team on 0800 980 9348 quoting ‘Business Matters’ to discuss your requirements.


The Making Tax Digital initiative By Paul Slappa Head of Direct Sales at Wesleyan Bank The Making Tax Digital initiative has been ready to go for some time but now small businesses are being made to ‘shoulder the burden’ of leading the way after a late change to its rollout. The Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative for VAT has been set to go live for all businesses on April 1, 2019, for a while now. However, HM Revenue & Customs has now announced that it will delay the deadline for larger and more complex business to October 1, 2019. This includes all businesses who are part of a VAT group and businesses who make VAT payments on account, typically larger businesses in both cases. In addition, the deferral applies to Trusts, public corporations and public sector bodies. In a new report criticising both HMRC and the government, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee speaks of its ‘regret’ that the MTD deferral overlooks small companies. It is SMEs “for whom implementation will be the most burdensome” because they have “the fewest resources”, that “HMRC appears to have neglected,” the Lords say. The House of Lords economic affairs finance bill subcommittee has heard from tax experts and business representatives who have expressed concerns about the way that the Making Tax Digital programme has been implemented as well as the communication between HMRC and small business. It would seem that time is now seriously running out for all VAT registered businesses to get to grips with Making Tax Digital, because despite all of the feedback and commentary, it’s unlikely that HMRC will make any more concessions. Businesses are advised that with the deadline rapidly approaching, they should start reviewing their current systems as soon as possible to make sure they have enough time to make any necessary changes. When considering the investment of new technology, remember that a finance plan could help you obtain the new software and services you need today to comply with the HMRC’s MTD requirements, while spreading the cost over monthly repayments. A solution from Wesleyan Bank would also allow you to take out one plan which incorporates the software, installation, training and support services into one simple and flexible plan. The Making Tax Digital scheme is designed to prevent losses to the Exchequer, which in the long run is good for all of us. However, for those businesses and other organisations affected, there’s likely to be a whole host of things to deal with. Whether it’s the software you’ll need to use, the accuracy of your submitted data, or even the penalties you might be required to pay, there’s plenty to be thinking about. If you’re not quite ready for the change and feel like your cash flow could use a boost, a payment plan from Wesleyan Bank could help you spread the cost of quarterly or multi-quarter VAT liabilities, freeing up working capital and allowing you to focus on the upgrades your business needs to make to become compliant. Wesleyan Bank is a specialist provider of tailored finance solutions to professional practices and commercial businesses. For more information or to speak to someone about your requirements, contact us on 0800 980 9348.


Financial Planning Ltd

Business Owners have you….

• Protected your business or personal borrowing? • Planned for what would happen if you were unable to run your business due to serious ill health? Who would step in, what would happen to your shares?

• Made sufficient plans for your own retirement? • Preparations in place for your exit strategy? • Considered what would happen if you lost a keyperson within the business? • Made a capital gain and are looking for tax efficient opportunities? If you wish to have a discussion on any of the above please get in touch.

30 Chester Street Wrexham LL13 8TJ T: 01978 266501

Enterprise House Old Courthouse Road Bromborough, Wirral CH62 4UE T: 0151 644 4848

l Looking for advice on starting a new business? l Need guidance on Making Tax Digital? l Want to make tax savings? Eg: R&D, Patent Box l Business over the audit threshold?

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Established in 1989 Ellis & Co is one of the leading accountants in Chester and Wrexham, helping hundreds of businesses across Cheshire and North Wales develop and thrive.



l Whatever your query, contact us today for a FREE one hour consultation


Late payments ‘causing significant problems for small businesses’


ew statistics taken from Xero’s UK small business subscriber base shows that the average British small business is owed £24,841 in late payments on any given day. Based on data taken from two million invoices, this equates to 11 months’ average staff wage, 37 months of average mortgage payments or nine family holidays, says the company. It says that the small business economy could be forced to deal with an average deficit of £141bn as a result of the debt. Anonymised, aggregated data generated by thousands of UK businesses using Xero’s accounting software revealed that 78 per cent of small businesses are owed money at any one time outside of agreed payment terms. The data showed that in August the average 30-day invoice was paid after 39.67 days, almost 10 days after payment is due. Furthermore, when reviewing overdue 30-day invoice payments the average

late invoice was found to be paid 64 days after issue, more than double the payment term. The industry with the highest percentage of invoices paid late was found to be Transport, Postal and Warehousing, with 68 per cent of invoices overdue over the last year, followed by Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (62per cent) and Manufacturing (60 per cent). Edward Berks, EMEA Director, Platform Business at Xero, said:“At a time when the world needs small business to succeed, it’s estimated that 50,000 businesses in the UK fail each year because of cash flow issues. Our data shows the impact that this level of debt can have on small companies. Predicting working capital requirements still remains a challenge for small businesses and accessing finance remains expensive and time consuming. “It’s increasingly critical that the Government and industry takes the right steps to ensure that small businesses get paid faster. New measures to

crack down on big business culprits and smarter technology to automate payments will all help to alleviate the pressure on small business cash flow.” The data was revealed as the Government announced new measures to arm small businesses against unfair contracts that stop them raising money from unpaid invoices. Three tips to improve cash flow and protect businesses from late payment debt: 1. Be selective about who you work with and credit check prospective clients. A bad credit history could indicate issues with late payments in the future 2. Implement interest charges on late payers to encourage prompt payment 3. Set automated responses: Many accounting software solutions are now capable of issuing automated reminder letters when payments become overdue. Automating the process of sending a reminder email reduced the amount of time you have to spend waiting and chasing for payment.



Everything must happen everywhere to tackle climate change T he Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) want to create two observatories to further understanding of the underground environment. One in Cheshire, the other in Glasgow. This year, Business Matters has published a series of interviews with the UK’s leading Earth scientists to explain why geology is a vital part of tackling climate change. In this issue, we hear from a geologist on their other side of the Atlantic about why we need to know more about what’s beneath our feet and from the BGS about engaging with people on geoscience.

Dr SUSAN HOVORKA at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas:

The United Kingdom has long been a leader in geoscience across many different fields. The BGS has had a strong leadership role in the science community from days of yore to modern times. They have delivered landmark science and platforms that have set standards for everyone, everywhere across the world. They have led the way in geological modelling and were the first out of the box with carbon capture and storage (CCS). With the UK Geoenergy Observatories, researchers are once again at the frontier of bringing interesting questions to the world, keeping the UK as the leading force in geoscience. Regulation is localized, so home-grown knowledge about decarbonisation techniques in UK geology is vital. The UK Geoenergy Observatories is an opportunity for

people to see if new techniques can be done on home ground. The UK Geoenergy Observatories could provide the information to unlock potentially transformational investments for the UK energy landscape. Not least because it will enable people to understand the role of the subsurface in meeting climate change targets. The world has the technology to decarbonize the global energy system. But excellent projects, like the £1bn CCS Goldeneye scheme, have failed to progress. Fear and anxiety often get in the way of good solutions. Geoscience uses language that sends imaginations running all over the place. It’s only when people see things for their own eyes that they become ordinary and normal. People have to want the technology if we are to transform the world’s ability to tackle climate change

Visit the BGS You Tube channel and watch ‘Imagine a Cube of Rock’ to find out more. The BGS has begun drilling the first UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow and has now submitted the planning application for an observatory in Cheshire. You can comment on the application via the CWACC planning portal.


FOCUS ON ENERGY CRISTINA CHAPMAN, UK Geoenergy Observatories engagement manager at the BGS:

I’ve sat in many conversations about how we meet rising demand for energy, while tackling climate change and managing environmental impact. I’ve heard from bosses getting energy into the heart of people’s homes, people facing the prospect of energy being extracted from beneath them, analysts working out how we get renewables to power the future, and many more besides. The role of a professional communicator is to listen: to what people want and need to know; who they want to talk to; what they have to say; and how they say it. Only by listening can we bring the right people together to improve the discussions that find better solutions. Occasionally, we’re invited to share our insight into the many different perspectives held. Last month was one such occasion. I was invited to speak at the UK launch of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2018 World Energy Outlook about what it meant for engaging with people outside the energy industry. The IEA crunches the world’s energy data and each year explains what’s driving demand, how we’re meeting it, what markets are emerging and how we’re performing against carbon emission targets. On the face of it the world’s energy outlook is bleak. Upward population growth. Upward demand across the world. Upward CO2 emissions. Slow renewables growth. On that drizzly November morning in London, as Britain’s population of 69 million buzzed about their daily routines, 80 people heard The Committee on Climate Change CEO Chris Stark call for everything to happen everywhere across everything. Against this outlook, I was asked to explain how we develop sensible, clear and concise fact-based narratives about the energy challenge. I looked across the crowd of the usual suspects in that London lecture theatre, and told

them fact-based narratives were not lacking. Nor was the ability to explain them in a concise, clear and sensible way. What’s missing is the appetite to bring together people unlike one other into a single conversation. Those against all activity in the underground environment. Those who look to the sun for the answer. Those who look to technology. Those who know we can’t do without oil and gas. Those who know we need the underground to scale up renewables. Those who know that everything we depend upon either comes out of the ground or grows in it. Each perspective is borne from knowledge and experience. Every position a valid part of the discussion. If everything must happen everywhere across everything to solve climate change, then everyone, everywhere must take part in making the solutions work.

It’s hard to argue the rationale that because we demand so much from it, we must know how to take care of it.

Our single biggest learning from engaging people with the concept that we need to understand more about the subsurface because it underpins every aspect of our lives, is that so few forums exist in which the conversation about our resources reflects the complexity of the problem. Where they exist, they aren’t inclusive. We were one of the few, perhaps only, organisations providing an open forum in which anyone interested in energy and climate change could take part in debate. Understandably people were frustrated. They had an important contribution and no way to be heard. Discussion was shortcircuiting in adversarial dialogue. We showed up in standard-issue BGS blue t-shirts with tea, biscuits and graphics. We showed up again. And again. And again. We met a diverse crowd. With diverse views. We saw the challenge from every angle. The economic bodies vested with sustainable growth. The innovators solving tomorrow’s problems. The educators making the next generation work-ready. The industry drivers keeping the wheels turning. The community representatives taking care of life today. The conversation people wanted to have moved way beyond geoscience through to politics, economics, ethics,

morals and values. We’re experts in geoscience and have a statutory duty to provide independent evidence to everyone – government, industry, academia and the public. So, we explained the boundaries of our expertise, facilitated debate, provided input on the science wherever appropriate, and signposted people to researchers, regulators, decisionmakers, policy-makers or industry where questions were not ours to answer. We’ve created many opportunities for people to find out about the importance of geoscience in decarbonizing our energy supply. In doing so, we’ve begun to understand how to change the energy conversation. It sets a challenge for us all – for every public body, academic institution, industry player and community member. Solutions can only be found when we include everyone who wants to take part. It enables us to begin to understand one other. To develop trust. To hold two-way dialogue. Not just once but as the norm. Geoscientists are excited by the UK Geoenergy Observatories as an opportunity for people to learn about how the underground environment feeds us, clothes us, cures us and keeps us warm, safe and dry. It’s hard to argue the rationale that because we demand so much from it we must know how to take really good care of it. They hold great optimism that here is a chance to demystify the underground, shifting perception from the stuff of ancient myths and legends to images created by great data, scale and state-of-the-art modelling. Their enthusiasm for the potential knowledge gained is infectious: from how reservoirs affect the rocks to how quickly aquifers replenish. As is so often the case, though, when you begin a conversation, what you discover is invaluable. As our friends at the IEA reminded us last month, the solution to climate change must start in the developed world. Urgent action from ‘everyone, everywhere’ to turn our energy options from black and white to shades of green requires new forms of dialogue as much as it needs new technologies and engineering. Perhaps, the very resource, skill and ingenuity that made Britain the birthplace of the industrial revolution is the same alchemy that will put the UK at the forefront of the environmental revolution. Global action on climate change starts at home with a better fireside chat about how we keep the embers glowing and the trees growing.


Cyflymu Cymru i Fusnesau Superfast Business Wales

Beatriz Albo, Sabor De Amor



Ar ôl ennill y ‘saws artisan gorau’ ar raglen Top of the Shop BBC 2 gyda Tom Kerridge, cafodd Beatriz Albo ei hysbrydoli i fynd ar-lein i wneud y mwyaf o’i llwyddiant.

Winning ‘best artisan sauce’ in BBC 2’s Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge prompted Beatriz Albo to get online and make the most of this exposure.

Yn dilyn cefnogaeth gan Cyflymu Cymru i Fusnesau, mae Sabor De Amor yn manteisio i’r eithaf ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol, i ddenu mwy o gwsmeriaid a symud i adeilad mwy o faint.

Following support from Superfast Business Wales, Sabor De Amor is making the most of social media, to win more customers and move to bigger premises.

I ddysgu sut i dyfu eich busnes, chwiliwch am: Cyflymu Cymru i Fusnesau #Cyflymubusnesau

03000 6 03000

Find out how to grow your business, search: Superfast Business Wales #Superfastbiz


Fail to plan? Plan to fail

What is a strategic plan? A strategic plan enables a business to perform better, thereby achieving the success that the business owner desires. Strategic planning can help focus resources and energy, ensure team members are working towards the same goals, and provide a framework for making any changes in the direction needed, to respond to the unforeseen. This is just for big businesses, right? Strategic planning is not just for large organisations; it’s beneficial for even the smallest owner-managed or start-up business. Whether you’re focused on overcoming a specific challenge, maximizing opportunities, or if you’re already successful and want to accelerate your growth, be sure to plan. A good plan doesn’t have to be a 20-page tome that takes weeks to write! What are the benefits of a written plan? A written plan helps you organise all the pieces of the jigsaw that have to come together for your business to be successful. Many business owners keep track of everything without ever writing them down. However, the structure that a written plan provides makes it more likely that nothing will slip through the cracks and essentially covers: l Where do you want to go? l Where are you now? l How are you going to get to where you want to get to? Planning and goal setting have long-since proven to be positive influences on overall business performance. Since strategic planning is all about goal setting, its impact, if executed well, can unequivocally drive success.

I find that planning in line with the calendar year works well. In life, we naturally reflect on how successful or enjoyable each year is, usually I think about the year ahead (maybe even setting some New Year resolutions!), so setting business goals this way will suit most. What should be in my plan? If you are a business owner, I believe that your business should deliver what you want out of life. Whatever the reasons for setting up your business, you’re more likely to achieve your goals if they are inextricably linked to your personal vision. This is the starting place for your strategic plan, from this you should define your business’ purpose and your aspirations for it. From this high-level thinking, you should identify critical success factors; that is the 3-4 key factors that will drive the achievement of your plan e.g. increase sales revenue by 20% year-onyear. From these, you should set specific goals, the accomplishment of which will directly contribute towards your overarching objectives, e.g. hire sales manager, launch e-commerce website or redevelop brand collateral. You should then consider key enablers, likely obstacles, and identify KPIs that will allow you to monitor performance.

How do I ensure I stay on track? Any planning is only effective if you periodically review progress, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and adjust your activity in light of changing circumstances. If you have team members, definitely engage them in this process. If you don’t, then seek out peers, whether informally or by participating in a business owner advisory board, such as those we run at The Alternative Board. Receiving real world advice from other business owners, honest feedback on your strategic plan and goals, as well as providing a sense of accountability and the support you may need on your journey towards realising your ambitions, is a powerful resource.

David Roberts, The Alternative Board

When is the right time to plan? At the inception of your business, it makes sense to put together a robust plan. Beyond this, many business owners link their planning activity to their financial year but



Welcome to WCNW Chamber of Commerce

Absolutely Design Graham Boyd T: 07967 203971 E: BeeBrilliant! Joanna Tracey T: 01244 900563 E: Bennett Brooks Claire Hills Watergate House, 85 Watergate Street, Chester, CH1 2LF T: 01244 401010 E: British Fibre Networks Wayne Howarth Unit 7, Chestnut Court, Parc Menai, Bangor, LL57 4FH T: 01248 663720 E: Cheshire Cat Marketing Limited Darren Fiander T: 01606 270513 E: Cheshire View Lucy Harrington-Jones Plough Lane, Christleton, Chester, CH3 7PT T: 01244 332442 E: CommScope Connectivity UK Limited Simon Vaughan Unit 1, Kinmel Park, Bodelwyddan, Rhyl, LL18 5TZ T: 01745 589211 E:


CoWorkz - Sealand Tracy Backhouse Main Office, Block D, Minerva Avenue, Chester West Employment Park, Chester, CH1 4QL T: 01244 389300 E: Delve Recruitment Ltd Rob Bemment The Hub, 5 Royal Court, Gadbrook Park, Northwich, CW9 7UT T: 01606 212020 E: Dentologicum Dr Sandra Hochdoerfer Honeycomb West, Chester Business Park, Chester, CH4 9QH T: 01244 950616 E: Eco-Innovation Cheshire & Warrington Tinna Arnardottir University Of Chester, Eco-Innovation Cheshire & Warrington, Thornton Science Park, Ince, Chester, CH2 4NU T: 01244 567370 E: Financial Fortress Ltd Wayne Musker 3 AV Wilding Estates, Guilden Sutton, Chester, CH3 7EX T: 01244 319962 E:

G.C. Business Finance Chris Hutchison Lee House, 90 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5JW T: 0161 245 4766 E: Hybrid Search Ltd Dan Kaczmarski Suite 2A Linenhall House 88-90 Watergate Street, Chester, CH1 2LR T: 01244 960366 E: Jonathan Davies Photographic Jonathan Davies T: 0151 2008307 E: Jones Melling Ltd Ken Jones 47 Watergate Row South, Chester, CH1 2LE T: 01244 637 741 E: Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors Amanda Jones 39-41 Church Street, Oswestry, SY11 2SZ T: 01691 652241 E: Lucid Capability Ltd Margaret Murphy T: 07446 179069 E:

Welcome to WCNW Chamber of Commerce

Managed Mechanical Services Andrew Booth Military House, 24 Castle Street, Chester, CH1 2DS T: 0845 299 3504 E: andrew.booth@ Mental Health Solutions in Business Steve Jackson The Lilacs, Chester Road, Pen-y-Fford, Chester, CH4 0JZ T: 07429 939348 E: Mercure Chester Abbots Well Hotel Hannah McCabe Whitchurch Road, Christleton, Chester, CH3 5QL T: 01244 332121 E: Mercury Franchise School Cheryl White Office 11, 2 Tower Road, Egerton House, Birkenhead CH41 1FN T: 0151 650 6996 E: Paradise Island Adventure Golf Craig Nichol Coliseum Leisure Park, Ellesmere Port, CH65 9HD T: 07823 882096 E: Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre Jackie Bryson Play Y Brenin, Capel Curig, Betws-Y-Coed, LL24 0ET T: 01690 720214 E:

Rage Fitness Company Craig Brown Blacon Adventure Playground, Kipling Road, Blacon, Chester, CH1 5UU T: 075131 82855 E: Red Dragon Ventures Ltd Catherine Jones T: 07779 003131 E: Ruth Lee Ltd Susan Edwards London Road, Corwen, LL21 0RZ T: 01490 413282 E: Schumann Davies Consulting Ltd Fleur Schumann-Davies T: 07702 806359 E: Stuart Robinson Photography Ltd Stuart Robinson T: 07850 678522 E: Super Saver App Jason Armstrong Northwich, CW9 7JH T: 01606 530255 E: The Montage Company Steve McConnell T: 07593 458764 E: Townley Network Solutions Rhianne Moriarty Honeycomb South, Honeycomb, Chester Business Park, Chester, CH4 9QJ T: 01244 207070 E:


Tree Sparks Mima Letts E: Videonations Ltd Jayson Rees-Hughes Unit 20, Edward Court, Altrincham Business Park, Altrincham, WA14 5GL T: 0161 926 3030 E: Wagtail UK Ltd Collin Singer T: 01745 561166 E: Wild Garlic Event Catering Claire Jones Unit 4, Number 1 Chowley Oak Business Park, Chowley Oak Lane, Chowley, CH3 9GA T: 01829 458181 E: Williams Denton Cyf Adam Owens 13 Trinity Square, Llandudno, LL30 2RB T: 01492 877478 E: WiSS David Waller Unit 2, New York Cottages, Bangor Road, Penmaenmawr, LL34 6NP T: 01492 622189 E:



What I’m passionate about O


ur passion and vision at Disability Sport Wales (DSW) is simple – to transform the lives of disabled people through sport; when we say sport, what we actually mean is a whole spectrum of activity, from active recreationjust enjoying being active (either alone or with others), right through to the highest-level performance sport. Our commitment is to ensure that every (disabled) person in Wales has the best opportunity to do whatever they want, with who they

want, when they want. So, to do this we: l Provide over 1.75 million participation opportunities alongside the 22 Local Authorities (LAs), over 20 Welsh Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBS) and in more than 350 inclusive clubs; supported by 7,500 volunteers l Have a talent development pathway, tracking just under 200 young people into talent programmes l Support high performance athletes in to Welsh and GB squads.


l The Wales Men’s Deaf Rugby Team became World Champions l The Gold medal-winning GB Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team at the World Championships was captained by a Welsh player l Team Wales had 21 para-athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, returning 19% of the 36 medals won l 40 Special Olympic athletes from Wales participated in the SOGB Anniversary Games in Scotland l Enhance the workforce with education and training sessions DSW want a Wales where there is a legacy of inclusive provision which impacts on opportunity and social perception- we can’t do that on our own. We commit to working with partners: NGBS, Third Sector organisations, local clubs, LAs and schools - using an innovative project known as insport. This incorporates a range of toolkits, each intended to stimulate an inclusive culture of change for the organisation. These kits develop and direct an implicit corporate understanding of inclusion and use this to transforms their practice; as well as a series of 13 insport events hosted across Wales. They deliver a range of activities and sports to disabled children, young people and adults and sign-post them in to weekly local opportunities. For many participants, this is the first time they have tried physical activity (including sport) or had the chance to try specific sport, so the impact and legacy is powerful. To see more about why we’re passionate about what we do visit:


Effective finance and back office support solutions to businesses throughout the region Zodeq Finance Invoice financing Invoice discounting Bad debt protection Asset based lending Principal (for recruiters)

Access to leading CRM software Payroll HMRC administration management

With over £50 million of finance provided to local SMEs in the last 12 months and countless hours saved for business owners and managers, our services allow a business to thrive.

Invoicing Credit control Timesheet processing Pension provision service

Run by a team of experts, our services provide a range of benefits to clients, from improved cash, reduced overhead costs, more time for business owners to focus on their core responsibilities and so much more.

We’d love to hear from you! Contact our friendly team today to discuss your business’ requirements 01244 617 087

Solicitors for Life | Est.1887 Butcher & Barlow are a highly respected and approachable firm of Solicitors with over 130 years of experience

The Big Firm on your doorstep

Your business is our business From setting up, buying or selling a business, to the day to day problems and issues affecting all businesses, we provide cost effective and expert advice to individuals, partnerships and companies.

Contact the team based at our dedicated commercial office at Gadbrook Park in Northwich, Cheshire.

01606 334 309



We have 10 offices throughout North Manchester and Cheshire and we pride ourselves on being a law firm with local connections but the size to provide an approachable expert in every field.

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