July - August 2021
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Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Contents July - August 2021
Dear Chamber of Commerce Member, I want to start with the good news, that our City of Culture is now driving forward and delivering some wonderful, daily cultural events and experiences; that in our latest quarterly economic survey, business confidence is on the up; that our own Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber Training is reporting an improvement in the uptake of apprenticeships; and that we are seeing some amazing investments such as the investment in Coventry City Centre and the Warwick Arts Centre and the planned investment in the creative sector in Leamington Spa. All fabulous news.
by Louise Bennett OBE DL Chief Executive Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
The more challenging side of life in business is that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to loom with rising transmission rates; the exit from the EU continues to fuel ongoing issues, not least supply chain delays and shortages of goods and raw materials, supply prices are being hiked upwards, Brexit has created bureaucratic and costly nightmares to many importers and/or exporters and, what seems strange, many of our local businesses trying to recruit, at this time, are struggling to secure people with the right skills, experience and qualifications. Here at your Chamber of Commerce, we continue to offer our business base and our learners much needed support in collaboration with our colleagues in the CW Growth Hub, City and County Council. Some exciting work has been done around stimulating additional new start-up businesses that are using City of Culture as a platform to launch their business and, again, aligning our work with the City of Culture, and funded by our City Council, there is some helpful activity being offered to existing businesses who, through their use of technology including social media platforms, could better their sales and marketing. It is of course good news that PM announced the opening up of the economy including staff returning to work (if not already doing so)……but I invite employers to think about how it makes sense to ensure their workplace is covid19 safe and how we can all help to keep transmission rates as low as possible..
Despite the pandemic, I applaud the work of our President, Mr Tom Mongan, who has been pressing ahead with his 'Talk to Business' programme of getting out and about and, very importantly, taking the opportunity to throw the spotlight on local businesses and town centres as being 'open for business', hugely important messages if we are to continue to showcase all that is brilliant about Coventry and Warwickshire and continue to create wealth and jobs. As the High Sheriff of the County of the West Midlands and your representative of our local business base, I have had some wonderful opportunities to say 'thank you' to those who keep us safe including a warm and inspiring meeting with the Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police, Sir David Thompson, and by attending a service at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, hosted by the Lord Mayor for Armed Forces Day. I am pleased to report that we played our part in the day of “thank yous” on July 4 through messages from myself, on your behalf, as the Chief Executive of this Chamber and the High Sheriff of the West Midlands alongside some messages of thanks, to all those who care for us and keep us safe, from Sir Jeremy Justice Baker, Presiding Judge of the West Midlands, John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral, and Sir David Thompson. My "thank you" goes to you all, the leaders in business and other key partner organisations, for all that you do to sustain a vibrant Coventry and Warwickshire, without complacency around the many challenges we do have, such as tackling inequalities and continuing to support our young people into skills and jobs. To make sure you keep up to speed with the kind of business and learner support on offer, to keep abreast of our influencing and lobbying work (and 'have your say') and to receive regular, quality updates and e-news, then get in touch on 02476 654321. Kind regards, Louise, Mrs L Bennett-Bayliss OBE, DL Chief Executive Chamber of Commerce
City of Culture 2021
News Around the Region
Education & Training 40-43 President & People 44-45 New Members
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putting imagination to work www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Focus on Coventry 2021 The official publication of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce ••••
CONTACTS At the Chamber News desk Members are encouraged to send any news about their firm - new orders, staff, new products, expansions or relocations for publication in C&W in business. Whilst every effort will be made to publish submitted articles, we cannot guarantee inclusion. Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Chamber House Innovation Village Cheetah Road Coventry CV1 2TL T: 024 76 654321 F: 024 76 450242
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Terry Hall presents Home Sessions:
First Wave of Artists Announced Coventry City of Culture Trust announces the first acts for Terry Hall Home Sessions, a unique four-day festival curated by Terry Hall with Creative Producer Suzanne Bisset. Staged in iconic city centre locations, Home Sessions runs from Thursday 29 July to Sunday 1 August 2021. As the lead singer of the definitive Coventry band, The Specials, Terry helped define the sound of a generation. For Coventry UK City of Culture, he presents a festival that blends international legends, contemporary pioneers and the best in emerging talent. Home Sessions will also shine a light on the rich past and present of the booming Coventry music scene in what will be one of the unique live experiences of 2021. Home Sessions’ eclectic and high-profile line up reflects a four decade-long career working with the finest musicians in the world. Terry is recognised as a towering figure of contemporary culture, who continues to inspire cuttingedge musicians today. Home Sessions will see Terry Hall inviting some of the incredible artists he has collaborated with over the years, his heroes and heroines, to come and jam together in his hometown. This is Terry Hall's own personal playlist - a harmony of music, art, performance and film, brought to life in Coventry. It will be a one off series of intimate gigs - turning Coventry city centre into a festival campus. The first acts announced for the specially curated festival include DJ and record producer Roni Size; rock band The Libertines and frontman Pete Doherty; country and electronic rock band Alabama 3; jubilant pop rock group The Lightning Seeds, and vintage synth enthusiasts Eccentronic Research Council featuring Maxine Peake performing 1612 Underture - a 12 chapter sound poem based of the mistreatment and memory of the Pendle Witches. There will be DJ sets by Daddy G (Massive Attack) and Creation Records’ founder Alan McGee’s Death Disco.
The full festival line up will be announced in early July, including the festival’s female headliners. Coventry City of Culture Trust remains committed to PRS’s gender equality pledge Keychange for all its events. A special competition, Home Grown, will see local talent, with a focus on underrepresented groups, selected in the lead up to Home Sessions take to the stage as support acts to the internationally-known headliners. At the close of the festival one of these acts will go on to release a record on Peter Doherty’s new record label, Strap Originals, which is based in the city. Doherty grew up in nearby Bedworth and is passionate a bout discovering and promoting new talent in Coventry. As well as the iconic twin venues of Coventry Cathedral Ruins, destroyed in the Blitz during WWII and the new Cathedral, a midcentury masterpiece next door, the festival will also take over the brand new HMV Empire, a brandnew state-of-the-art gig venue located nearby in Hertford Street. Home Sessions is being produced as a covid-secure event in line with government guidelines and the roadmap. Terry Hall says: “It’s been an extraordinary experience for me. Curating Home Sessions in the middle of a pandemic. It seemed surreal, not knowing whether it could take place amid this current climate. I considered the line-up for months putting the jigsaw together. In the end, I created a live version playlist of my favourite
artists. My solo performance, taking place in Coventry Cathedral on the Saturday night is one I have always wanted to do. It will be my first live performance for two years and very unlike anything I’ve performed before. I look forward to performing in front of an audience again & to seeing some live music in my home town of Coventry. Chenine Bhathena says: “As lead singer of the city's much loved band and enduring global export, Terry Hall is the perfect choice as curator for the Home Sessions. Coventry is a music city, a place that has given birth to movements, mavericks and melodies, and that has welcomed major artists and hosted significant music events of all genres from all over the world. Home Sessions will see one of our city’s great creative talents blend major international names with exciting emerging talent across our city, and we couldn’t be more excited to be presenting this live music festival in the heart of Coventry.”
"As well as the iconic twin venues of Coventry Cathedral Ruins, destroyed in the Blitz during WWII and the new Cathedral, a mid-century masterpiece next door, the festival will also take over the brand new HMV Empire, a brand-new state-of-the-art gig venue located nearby in Hertford Street." www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Focus on Coventry 2021
In Paint We Trust: Dreph dives into Coventry history with Ira Aldridge mural The Coventry City of Culture Trust is thrilled to reveal the second piece of public art to be commissioned as part of street art programme In Paint We Trust. Painted onto a wall outside the Belgrade Theatre overlooking the Belgrade Plaza fountain, the piece is dedicated to Ira Aldridge - an acclaimed actor who, in 1828, became Britain's first Black theatre manager when he was handed the keys to the Coventry Theatre. At the time, he was not yet 21. Born in New York City at a time when slavery was still legal in the US and across the British Empire, Aldridge was a prominent activist in the abolitionist movement. After moving to Britain to pursue his acting career, he took the theatre world by storm with his powerful Shakespeare performances, taking on roles including Romeo, Hamlet and Othello. During his time in Coventry, his passionate speeches inspired local people to petition parliament to abolish slavery. In 2017, a blue plaque was unveiled in the city centre to honour his achievements as part of a special event run by the Belgrade Theatre and the University of Warwick. The artist behind this spectacular, 20ft mural is Dreph (Neequaye Dsane), a street artist specialising in large-scale portrait and human figure paintings. Dreph aims to depict his subjects as present, empowered and selfaware, and his work has appeared around the world including in high-profile exhibitions at the likes of the Tate Modern. Dreph said: “It was an honour to make a piece of work that amplifies this fascinating story. Many of the passers-by that I spoke to did not know who he was or his connection to the city.
So, it was great to be able to bring awareness of his life and achievements.” The mural is inspired by an original portrait painting of Ira Aldridge as Othello, painted by Henry Perronet Briggs in 1830, which is now part of the National Portrait Gallery collection. For the Belgrade Theatre, the story has an even greater resonance, since the story of Ira Aldridge was a source of inspiration for the recruitment of their three Co-Artistic Directors for 2021, who are overseeing the theatre's programme of home-produced shows for our City of Culture year. Hamish Glen, the Belgrade's Artistic Director, said: “We are very proud to be involved in Coventry BID and the City of Culture Trust’s ‘In Paint We Trust’ project, and are hugely impressed with Dreph’s painting of Ira Aldridge. “Aldridge’s story of being given control of the Coventry Theatre as a very young man in 1828
was the inspiration for our radical project to “hand over the keys” to the Belgrade to the next generation of theatre-makers for UK City of Culture 2021. Coventry has a proud history of radicalism, activism and reinvention that we hope to celebrate, and to build on throughout the year.” Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director at Coventry City of Culture 2021, commented: “This is a monumental artwork presenting Ira Aldridge, the first black man to run a theatre in England back in the 19th century during the struggle to abolish slavery. "His story is of a brave, brilliant, artistic young man who against the odds travelled from America to London, and was welcomed and given the keys to Coventry Theatre. His story is one of hope and courage. He represents Coventry’s role as a city of welcome, of sanctuary and of harmony."
Assembly Festival Garden
Open for three months this summer from 1 July, the Garden will be home to a mouthwatering selection of local food makers, four extraordinary performance spaces and will serve as a social hub for those wishing to make the most of their visit to the UK’s City of Culture.
The Garden has been designed from the ground up to include covid-specific adaptations to ensure events run as smoothly and safely as possible. The Garden and performances spaces will have flexible configurations to align with evolving UK Government guidance. This will be combined with a number of measures, including contactless payments and ticketing, increased ventilation and a robust contact tracing process. We’re very excited to reveal that we’ll be welcoming a brand new performance space into the Assembly Festival family, with the
stunning double-decker Queen of Flanders spiegeltent serving as the flagship venue. It will be ably supported by our pint-sized Piccolo spiegeltent and our Treehouse performance space to offer a range of flexible spaces to experience what’s on offer. Most importantly, the Garden offers a long-awaited opportunity for artists to get back on stage and for audiences the chance to experience the magic of live performance again. The first shows in an exciting programme of comedy, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, and more are now on sale. https://coventry2021.co.uk/what-s-on/
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Property company donates show home furniture to charity Due to the pandemic, the charity located in Gloucester Street in Leamington is only currently dealing with emergency re-homing needs. Tracey Littlejohns, community support worker at Helping Hands’ House2Home project, said the donation from AC Lloyd was extremely timely. Jim Palmer, James Sinnott, Andy Brown and Tracey Littlejohns from the Helping Hands Community Project with Stephanie Green from AC Lloyd Homes
A charity which improves the lives of people in need in Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth has received a much-needed donation for its House2Home scheme. Warwick-based property development company AC Lloyd Homes has donated the furniture from the show home at its Oakley Grove development in Leamington to the Helping Hands Community Project.
The House2Home initiative provides furniture and household goods to families who have been referred by local councils, children’s centres, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the probation service and other charities.
“We are extremely grateful to AC Lloyd for the donation of a wide range of items from its show home because it is not very often that we receive new furniture,” she said. “This project was set-up six years ago in a little shed and has grown and grown as we have had more donations of furniture. “We deal with various agencies to help people that
are homeless or have low incomes with household items as they move into permanent accommodation. “As soon as we receive donations, we find the right home for them because we are short at the moment and it would be fantastic if other businesses or organisations could also give any unwanted furniture because there is a huge demand.” Stephanie Green, sales and marketing manager at AC Lloyd Homes, added: “This is a tough time for many families due to the pandemic and we are glad to have played a part in making their life a little easier by giving the beds, settee and other furniture from our Oakley Grove development to this fantastic House2Home project.”
“As soon as we receive donations, we find the right home for them because we are short at the moment and it would be fantastic if other businesses or organisations could also give any unwanted furniture because there is a huge demand.”
Warwick foodbank moves into bigger warehouse with help from law firm A Warwickshire foodbank will be able to reach vulnerable people more easily after a well-known law firm donated its time to agree a lease for a new warehouse and office space on the organisation’s behalf. Warwick District Foodbank is already moving its stocks of food into its new warehouse at Trident Business Centre after Wright Hassall negotiated a five-year lease on the premises for the organisation. The charity will also move its office to the 190 m2 site after previously basing itself in a church hall. The foodbank is one of four local charities Wright Hassall is supporting as part of its bid to raise £17,500 to split between them to mark its 175th anniversary. As such, Wright Hassall offered to negotiate on behalf of the foodbank pro bono. David Witham, chair of trustees at Warwick District Foodbank, said: “When the pandemic started,
we had food stored all over the district, which made us less efficient. “As time went on during the first lockdown, we received more and more donations. We were very thankful to the public, but we found it difficult to find a suitable space for all the food. “We started looking for premises in the autumn of 2020, and although the space at the Trident Business Centre wasn’t the cheapest, it was very well suited to our needs. “We knew Wright Hassall was a well-regarded law firm in the area, and we were delighted when they donated their services to us for free.” Kylie Cooper, senior associate in commercial real estate at Wright Hassall, said: “The pandemic put a lot of pressure on the foodbank through increased demand and having to process more donations, so for it to have a bigger space will really help it operate more efficiently.”
David Witham, chair of trustees at Warwick District Foodbank, (left) with Kylie Cooper, Senior Associate in Commercial Real Estate at Wright Hassall, outside Warwick District Foodbank’s new premises at Trident Business Centre
“As time went on during the first lockdown, we received more and more donations. We were very thankful to the public, but we found it difficult to find a suitable space for all the food.”
EMKA announces fittings program for the building industry EMKA is pleased to announce availability of its handles, hinges, spring latches, wing knobs, locks, door bolts, hinges and window locks for the booming construction industry to install on windows and doors. The company said it could meet even the highest demands of the most challenging buildings as well as the more common requirements of residential projects. As building hardware such as bolts and hinges, toggle latches, box handles or cylinder locks are elementary components of numerous trades in the building industry, EMKA now has a focus on these items. It offers products for various plastic, wood and metal applications – from simple bolts for locking garden gates or crates, cylinder locks for letterboxes, or lockers to complex locking mechanisms for the interior of windows and doors. A well-known example is London’s The Shard, which is the tallest glass building in Europe and impressive proof of flexibility and technical competence. Supplying more than 5,000 window fittings for The Shard, EMKA proved to have the right product for every application and the capacity to deliver large numbers of sophisticated fittings on a just-in-time-and-place schedule. Further information on the EMKA fittings program for the building industry can be found at www.emka.com/uk_en/ sectors/fittings-for-the-buildingindustry/
Chamber membership refreshed as businesses aim to bounce back Businesses of all sizes and sectors are being urged to find out how they can tap into help from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce to help them bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis. The Chamber has refreshed its membership packages to help companies identify the support they need to take their business to the next level as the regional economy emerges from the pandemic.
• Hazel Pilling, Membership Manager Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
for New Chamber Members*
An exclusive discount on your annual membership fee for new memberships Call us today to find out more and quote 'CWMagazine2021' 024 7665 4312 (Opt 1) *Applies to new membership enquiries only. Terms & conditions apply.
Despite the unprecedented economic conditions over the past 12 months, the Chamber has continued to grow its member base and, with the launch of the refreshed levels of membership, more and more companies from across the city and the county can tap into the range of services on offer. Chamber membership is now split into six different identities starting with Business Builder, which will offer practical support to help individuals build their dream business during their first 12 to 14 months of trading. Business Talent will help companies and individuals to develop a new generation of business leaders and is designed for young professionals, entrepreneurs and learners. Firms that want to utilise a range of Chamber services, including networking and the FinditinCW service to help grow their business, can benefit from Business Connect, while firms looking to start
trading overseas and tap into international opportunities should opt for the Business Global membership. Business Engage allows firms to engage with other established corporate businesses and growing companies in the region, with greater opportunities for knowledge-sharing and partnership working. The final strand of Chamber membership is Business Influence, which will place members at the heart of the region’s economic strategy and bring key players together to work towards a collective benefit for Coventry and Warwickshire as well as having much stronger brand links with the Chamber. Hazel Pilling, membership manager of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “What our new memberships really help businesses to do is to come to us and identify the right package for them to achieve their goals. “We are really excited to be launching our new identities to help businesses at every stage of their development – making it really clear and simple on the types of products and services they can receive from us. “It is the same excellent, value-formoney benefits and services that were on offer before but the new identities really help us to support companies – both existing members and new ones – with what they want to achieve.”
For more information visit https://cw-chamber.co.uk/jointoday or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
As a woman in business, and in a position of leading a team and managing projects and activities, I often reflect on leadership. What qualities does one need to strengthen to become a good leader? Is there such a thing as a “natural born leader”? Is there a difference between a good manager and a good leader? How do you make the step from a management role to becoming a leader? How do you lead, and take
people with you, towards a common goal and shared vision? What are the differing leadership styles and how can you vary your style according to a desired outcome? There is a plethora of content, resources, books, journals, podcasts and many more which investigate this theme, all with varying opinions, evidence and examples which we can use to support us as women in business. However, often the information which resonates the most comes from our leaders themselves, how they got to where they are and what they learnt along the way.
Our Mentees on our 21in21 Programme have been matched with some fantastic Business Leaders, and they are already learning from their Mentors, and exploring some of these themes. Through our 21in21 initiative we want to take this a step further, to share learning and those inspirational stories, and in doing so include a wider audience in order to develop Coventry and Warwickshire businesses more generally.
We were delighted to deliver the first of these thought leadership sessions recently. We welcomed our guest speaker, Major Samantha Lucas-Floyd, to the first of our 21in21 Leadership Workshops, focusing on what it takes to be a good leader & mentor, and I hope it was a really engaging session for all who attended. Keely Hancox, Operations Manager & 21in21 Lead
For more information on our 21in21 Programme, head to https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/membership/21in21/
WM RFCA helps to promote the image of the Tri-Service Reserve Forces and Cadet Forces within the community Defence engagement projects influence, promotes our prosperity and helps to protect our people. Defence has a strong tradition of delivering much more than just fighting power and the area of Coventry and Warwickshire follows in this tradition.
West Midland RFCA have a Board made up of some 20 people from across the region, which includes six County Chairs who offer a regional focus to West Midland RFCAs engagement work. Colonel Bob Carruthers OBE TD, the Chairman for Warwickshire, shares an overview about the Armed Forces in Warwickshire.
Locally the majority of the service units are Reserve units. The 2nd Warwickshire Volunteers raised a company in Coventry as far back as November 8th 1859 and now Warwickshire is home to the units of 159 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps, 118 Recovery Company Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment.
Meet our Mentors
People join the Reserves for many different reasons, and many find that their skills gained are transferrable between their civilian and military careers. One Reservist who has benefitted from transferrable skills is Lucy Sewell, an Inspector with Warwickshire Police and a Major in the Army Reserve. She commented, “The Army has an effective way of developing you, both through formal training and mentoring. I enjoy the Army Reserve and have always made the most of the opportunities presented. “The leadership exposure provided by the Army Reserve gave me the self-confidence to seek promotion in the Police. As a Captain came one of
the highlights of my career when I deployed to Afghanistan as a mentor to the Afghanistan Police. This gave me the opportunity to use my skills and experience from the Police and military to benefit others. “Being successful in a maledominated arena has been a challenge at times, during my service in the Army Reserve and the Police. I haven’t always been able to change the imbalance, but I have changed my outlook and learned to be the role model. I have worked with some amazing women; it certainly reminds you that you can get there too.” If you are interested find out more about the Reserves Forces at www.wmrfca.org
We will be featuring Mentors in each edition...
“Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self?” www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Sarah Perry, Managing Partner, Wright Hassall LLP
Helen Peters, Chief Executive, Shakespeare's England
Navjot Johal, Programmes Manager, Coventry City Council
‘Ignore that imposter syndrome and believe in yourself , don’t be too hard on yourself and appreciate what you can realistically achieve in a day. You don’t have to be at your best every single day.’
‘You should be the leading lady of your own life.’
‘Take advice from those around you and seek out people that you aspire to be like and get them to support your career/life path. Find a coach/mentor early on in your career.’
The Wigley Group and Wasps sign corporate partnership Live action horror drive experience coming soon! Following on from the enormous success of last year’s event, it’s the announcement all horror fans have been waiting for: the awardwinning ROAD 2 HELL returns this October with another dose of gruesomely good fun!
Midlands-based The Wigley Group has signed a corporate partnership that will see it become the preferred development partner of Wasps Group. The new agreement will see Wigley Building & Development tender for future large works carried out by Wasps at the training ground, Ricoh Arena and any other group locations. The Wigley Group’s logo will also feature on the kit of the men’s first team squad from next season and the company will use matches and other events for corporate entertainment. Wigley Building & Development is currently working on a £2m construction contract to create a new high-performance training centre for the rugby club in Henley-in-Arden. James Davies, chief executive officer of The Wigley Group, said: “We’ve been working closely with Wasps through Wigley Building & Development on the development of the high-performance
Heart of England Conference and Events Centre has again teamed up with Masters of Horror AREA 51 to bring what is now recognised as the biggest, baddest and best interactive drive-thru horror show in the UK.
“In 2020 we nailed it; catering for over 25,000 visitors across 30 nights of horror – even the pandemic couldn’t stop us in our tracks. Split in half by a sudden lockdown, we came back with a devilishly good Christmas twist. “We can already report demonic howling in the night and the sound of splintering trees as the creatures of the night once again draw their plans against you, and begin to set their traps accordingly.” Heart of England Horror shot straight to the top of everyone’s Halloween event lists, attracting hundreds of five-star ratings from punters and reviewers alike. The experience was so well received that it was nominated in multiple categories in this year’s prestigious Scare Awards – the SCARs battling it out amongst the likes of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Tulley’s Farm. For more information visit www.roadtohell.co.uk
Peter Burnell, Business Relationship Manager at The Wigley Group; James Davies, Chief Executive Officer at The Wigley Group; Adam Benson, Chief Commercial Officer at Wasps; and Charlie Brooks, Managing Director at Wigley Building and Development Ltd.
“We have worked very well together, and this agreement opens up the possibility of further collaboration on future projects but, just as vitally, sees the company partnering with us through sponsorship and corporate entertainment.”
Joint venture set to benefit technology park
After scooping one of the top Scare Industry awards, it’s now also officially the best drive-thru scare experience in the country!
The team said: “You’ve heard the rumours – maybe you escaped with your sanity intact last year? Whatever the case, we dare you to take a drive into our Forbidden Forest… and find out what horrors its evil inhabitants have in store for you in 2021.
centre, which is progressing really well. “The contract has grown in scope during the last few months and together we’re creating a state-of-art complex which really will be of the highest quality. “It has been clear during the time working together that both companies share the same values and ethos and we were both keen to form a longerterm and more formal link.” Adam Benson, chief commercial officer at Wasps Group, said the new agreement was the latest in a string of major partnerships. He said: “We have known The Wigley Group as clients for several years and that relationship stepped up a level when Wigley Building & Development were appointed on our highperformance centre, which is now really taking shape at Henley.
Automotive engineering consultancy, HORIBA MIRA, has signed a joint venture agreement with private equity investor and developer, Evans Randall Investors, for it to be the exclusive developer for MIRA Technology Park (MTP). MTP is at the forefront of the automotive industry’s transition to a sustainable future as a globally recognised cluster location within the sector, with an unrivalled reputation for engineering, R&D, world-class facilities and testing infrastructure.
Located in the heart of the UK’s Midlands automotive sector, the park currently extends to more than 850 acres and provides employment for over 1,000 skilled engineers. Evans Randall Investors will now oversee the next phase of development at MTP, which will see it expand across two neighbouring sites located either side of the A5. The project will deliver up to 4m sq ft of new space with a total GDV of up to £500m, encompassing R&D, office and industrial facilities. The ambitious expansion plans for MTP are fuelled by a revolution in mobility technologies spanning electric vehicle (EV) development, cleantech fuels such as hydrogen, emerging autonomous and connected car technologies and the associated growth of AI and robotics. HORIBA MIRA’s engineers provide these advanced capabilities to next-generation automotive companies to enable their
progression, attracting disruptors such as REE and Viritech as well as established OEMs including Aston Martin, Bentley, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and The London EV Company. Evans Randall Investors will lead the park’s expansion, solidifying its status as Europe’s premier automotive R&D cluster as well as broadening MTP’s position to attract businesses across the technology, advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors. The team will work alongside local development manager, Swanvale Developments, to deliver the scheme. Ned Williams, MD of Evans Randall Investors, said: “Our partnership with HORIBA MIRA presents an exceptional opportunity to deliver a significant R&D development that will have a positive impact on the West Midlands, the UK and beyond.”
Reducing waste while putting a face to a name WarwickMed is leading the change from disposable theatre caps to reusable “name and role” cloth hats. These are already boosting staff morale and reducing patients’ anxiety as they enable everyone to identify the people around them quickly and easily. Our mission is to improve communication among healthcare professionals and patients by sharing best practice and promoting the
many benefits of our ecofriendly, personalised caps. Dr.Diwan is a consultant anaesthetist wearing her hat with pride! She said that when she walked into the resuscitation unit, everyone immediately knew who she was and the role she did. All consultant anaesthetists will now have their name and role colour-coordinated hats and the more roles will be ordered next. It is an innovative and forward-
thinking initiative which helps to create a greener NHS. We have also specifically designed and made jackets for the University Hospital Birmingham. Many of the theatre staff were cold due to the cooling environment temperature required within the department. We helped to create a jacket which staff simply wear over the top of their scrubs to keep them warmer. The feedback has been fantastic, and the staff
are delighted – warmer and therefore more comfortable and happier at work. It feels great being able to help to make a difference.
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
TruTac launches software feature to manage driver compliance risk
TruTac, the tachograph analysis and compliance expert, has launched a new software feature to simplify how fleet operators monitor and manage the potential risk drivers can pose to compliance levels.
Driver Compliance Risk Score (DCRS) has been developed in line with feedback from HGV and PSV operators and as part of TruTac’s commitment to the DVSA’s Earned Recognition (ER) scheme. The new risk score calculation is based upon the percentage of infringements per driver duty. The automatically calculated driver risk scores, trends and fleet ranking can then be viewed via the widgets, dashboards and reports produced by TruTac’s TruControl system. The new feature highlights each driver’s risk score as a risk level (very low,
low, medium, high, or very high). It also calculates risk trends which, for easy data assimilation are graphically displayed, along with the driver’s overall company ranking. The system auto adjusts each driver’s score to include the earned recognition infringement severity weighting. Jemma James, commercial and marketing director at TruTac, said: “We support operators in managing driver compliance effectively and easily and are proud to support the DVSA ER scheme. This latest product is designed to work in tandem with our existing software so operators can
manage drivers and their compliance risk potential easier than ever before.” Transport and plant hire specialist Explore worked with TruTac to help design DCRS and provided valuable user feedback at every stage of development. According to Chris Gatheridge, head of operations at Explore, the new initiative will bring many benefits to its business and the industry at large. He said: “Working with our tachograph analysis provider TruTac, we have succeeded in developing world-class functionality which takes DCRS to the next level.”
Myton therapy team sets sights on fundraising magic An inspiring trio of Myton employees are stepping out into the unknown to raise vital funds for the hospice they dedicate their working lives to. Nicola Woolvine, Susan Fraser and Kathryn Howell are key members of The Myton Hospice team, caring for our patients through their roles as therapists. So passionate are they about the cause, they also wanted to join the amazing army of fundraisers we depend on to provide our services free of charge to patients with a lifelimiting illness across Coventry and Warwickshire. Never ones to take the easy option, they decided to throw themselves headfirst into their fundraising mission – and decided to take on the 55km South
Coast Ultra Challenge under the team name Myton Magic.Their mission will see them complete the tough, hilly, coastal challenge in just one day – and they are urging supporters to dig deep and give generously to help them raise as much money as possible. “We wanted to do something special to raise money for the organisation we all love and have such an affiliation with on so many levels,” they said. “Every day the three of us see, firsthand, the value of hospice care to patients, their families and carers. “The last year, throughout the pandemic, has been an extremely difficult one for all charities and we want to do our bit to support Myton in these difficult times. We’re hoping to get fit in the process too!”
Have you created the next worldchanging technology? If so, then you should definitely get some advice on protecting the intellectual property behind it. While some larger companies are trending to more open innovation models (such as GE, Samsung and Tesla), most can’t afford to just give their inventions away to competitors and need the exclusivity to make money. We do a deep dive into some famous patents that have become household names. From the 3D Printer to the Quadcopter Drone, it’s likely that the
Car Maths and the concept of the half price EV company car Significant corporate and personal tax breaks are available where a company buys a full electric vehicle and provides this as a benefit in kind to a director or employee. The full cost of buying an EV is currently 100% allowable for corporation tax in the year of purchase.
A personal car financed by PCP As a start point, consider the example of Dave, a director/shareholder, looking to personally buy a new car. His company has profits of £50k before tax, paying this out after tax as a dividend to Dave. The £50k would be reduced by 19% corporation tax, leaving £41k and then paid this as a dividend, assuming personal higher rate dividend tax at 32.5%, would leave Dave with circa £27k net of tax. Applying “car maths”, Dave uses this £27k to personally buy a car, on a PCP deal with a £5k deposit and £600 per month over 3 years. At the end of the 3 years the car should be worth about 50% of its new cost, which approximates to the final PCP balloon payment. Dave can walk away from a PCP deal after three years, but he and the company combined will have suffered around 50% tax on the £50k pre-tax profit.
The EV company car route – a “half price” EV?
Nikki, Susan and Kath are now faced with the reality of the challenge and have set their sights on a tough training regime to get them in tip-top physical condition for the 55km coastal trek. Donations can be given via the team’s JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/mytonmagic3
Protect intellectual property behind tech innovations owners of these patents didn’t regret protecting their intellectual property for these inventions! Chuck Hull’s first 3D printing patent was issued in 1986 and was ahead of its time. The document outlines the basic technology used by most common 3D printers: stereolithography, or light-solidification of resin. A moving platform takes inputs from a computer and positions the base under a nozzle. Liquid resin from the nozzle forms the object, layer by layer, which is solidified by UV light. Sound simple enough? Critics of the closed-innovation model have blamed seemingly slow development and innovation in 3D printing not on a lack of technology, but on a lack of open information sharing within the industry. Should the person who comes up with an idea be able to do what they want with it? Does the right to patents generally inspire and motivate higher-quality
innovations leading to a better and more impressive final product? These are some of the questions that come up frequently in the fight between open and closed innovation. On the other hand, where would 3D printing be today if 3D Systems championed the open innovation model? Indeed, 3D Systems follows a closed-innovation model to the extent that in November 2012, they filed a lawsuit against 3D printer company Formlabs and the Kickstarter crowdfunding website over Formlabs attempt to fund a printer which it claimed infringed one of its patents. The legal procedure lasted over two years and even ended with a Netflix documentary about 3D printing called Print the Legend. For more information on how to protect your next world-changing technology, visit pure-ideas.co.uk/ category/tech/
Alternatively, if the company buys an EV outright and provides it to Dave as a benefit in kind, the £50k cost of the EV is wholly tax deductible in year 1 and the resulting BIK and Class 1A Nic taxes are minimal in the 2021/22 tax year. Applying “car maths”, the company is effectively getting the car half price, given the corporation tax saved and the higher rate dividend tax avoided by not paying a dividend. Assuming the EV should still be worth just over 50% of its new cost in 3 years time, you could even perceive the car cost Dave and the company nothing… It is worth noting that after 3 years when the company sells the car, there will be a balancing charge on the capital allowances, clawing back currently 19% of the sale proceeds, but applying “car maths” again, this is something to plan for in 3 years time, at which point you would probably just roll on into a replacement car. To qualify for this EV company car route at its optimum, the car must be a 0g/km full EV, acquired in the name of the limited company and it must be done in a way that allows the company to claim the 100% capital allowance – so not a lease or contract hire agreement. The scenario in this article involves a degree of “car maths”, with broad brush assumptions when it comes to the economics of car buying. The tax rates illustrated are correct as of April 2021. If you are considering this EV car buying route, please get in touch to ensure the model does work in your circumstances. Martin Gibbs is Dafferns Managing Partner and a serial car buyer who is enjoying the internal combustion engine while he can. To find out more about company cars, EVs and “car maths” in general, please contact Martin. Dafferns Chartered Accountants Trusted Advisers since 1896 Authentic, Agile, Connected
IT firm sees Covid-19 trigger cybercrime pandemic
Chris Tyler, CEO of Syscomm.
A Coventry IT firm has been supporting its clients through the pandemic after seeing Covid-19 create new opportunities for cybercriminals. Syscomm, a family firm established in 1984, has been delivering strategic IT solutions for more than 35 years, with an ethos of operating at the forefront of technology and IT methodology. As a Managed IT Services provider with an array of clients across the UK, Syscomm witnessed a distinct shift in the cyberthreat landscape over the past year, as ransomware became the most significant cybersecurity threat faced by organisations. Covid-19 forced organisations to rapidly change how they operate, which created new opportunities for cybercriminals.
Syscomm’s CEO Chris Tyler said: “What we at Syscomm experienced is that few business functions shifted priorities so quickly when the Covid-19 crisis struck as corporate cybersecurity operations. “As legions of employees suddenly found themselves in a work-fromhome model, many of our clients pivoted from working on routine tasks to establishing secure connections for their newly-formed remote workforces. “And now many of these clients continue to bolster their network infrastructure and security as the new models of working are embedded into their business. “As society’s dependence on technology increases and cyberthreats evolve, the approach to security also needs to change. To succeed in today’s digital world, cybersecurity needs to be embedded in everything that a business does.” Over the past year, many of Syscomm’s clients have sped up their cloud journey, spurred on in part because cloud security also means better business outcomes, in terms of speed, scalability, and costs. Darren Bindert, Marketing Manager for Syscomm, added: "Cloud security may seem a well-worn topic, but as the technology and the use-cases evolve, so do the considerations for securing networks and data.
“Businesses have realised that there is a ‘false security’ in keeping their operations confined to the four walls of an in-house datacentre. And now almost every business, from small to large, relies at least in part on the Cloud to support their IT infrastructure. “Any form of reliance on traditional security methods has become instantly outdated in 2021. They not only put businesses at a disadvantage, particularly when looking to manage a new remote workforce, but they also make companies a bigger target for today’s sophisticated ransomware threats.” During the last year, Syscomm has been working in partnership with CyberClan to offer best in class network architecture, maintenance and support. This has been supplemented by CyberClan’s follow-the-sun security analytics services to provide holistic
infrastructure aligned to technical and security best practice as well as CyberClan’s Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Security Event Monitoring (SIEM) services. Syscomm’s managed cyber defence solution gives businesses forensic level, data-driven protection against emerging cyberattacks and enhanced visibility into potential incidents. It offers a 24/7 service to ensure that business operations remain resilient, striving to help customers increase productivity, improve work efficiency, and see a return on their valuable investment. Syscomm helps businesses across various industries to plan, integrate, manage, maintain and sustain a robust and secure IT infrastructure while focussing on helping them enhance business value through IT. Further information about Syscomm can be found at http://www.syscomm.co.uk
“Businesses have realised that there is a ‘false security’ in keeping their operations confined to the four walls of an in-house datacentre. And now almost every business, from small to large, relies at least in part on the Cloud to support their IT infrastructure."
Rugby security firm set to expand A security firm in Rugby is launching a brand-new arm of the business to provide storage solutions for its clients’ most valuable possessions. StoneWall Security is set to launch Stonewall Vaults, a safety deposit box service that will provide customers with a secure method of storage away from their homes. The business, based at Mitchell Court, is due to open on August 20 and will house 1,800 secure boxes which can store anything from valuables and keepsakes to important documents. With years of experience in providing security services to businesses and homes across the country, the business will also provide additional services such as security escorting to offer extra peace of mind while transporting valuables. Clients are also offered complete confidentiality, and secure viewing rooms will be available so that the contents of safety deposit boxes can be viewed in privacy. StoneWall Security, which is based at Aspects House in Somers Road, was established by Clare Randall and her husband, Martin, in 2008. It has 50 members of staff and works with clients across the region
to provide security services for businesses and events. These range from static manned guarding services, key holding and alarm response to mobile patrols and the provision of highly-trained and experienced door supervisors and security officers. The expansion of the business came when Clare noticed a gap in the market for a safety deposit box service in the area. She said: “We are extremely excited to launch Stonewall Vaults which compliments the services we offer at StoneWall Security perfectly. “Covid has seen us experience a quieter period, but we saw this as an opportunity to develop the business further and it’s excellent to see our plans come to fruition. “At one time people used to use banks to store their valuables, but
we are currently seeing more and more branches not only closing their vaults but shutting down completely. “This, combined with the fact that criminals are becoming more sophisticated, means that there is an increasing need for secure storage solutions. “Our vast experience in the security industry means that we are wellplaced to provide a first-class storage solution for valuables. “We offer a flexible service which can be tailored to suit the needs of our clients, and also offer additional security measures such as escorting should it be required. “We aim to provide clients with complete peace of mind by offering the best possible solution for anyone looking for a secure place to store their possessions.
“We aim to provide clients with complete peace of mind by offering the best possible solution for anyone looking for a secure place to store their possessions."
Stonewall Vaults is set to open at Mitchell Court, in Rugby, with work currently underway to transform the building.
“Anyone who would like to find out more is asked to get in touch to speak to one of our expert advisors.” Further information about Stonewall Vaults can be found by visiting https:// www.stonewallvaults.co.uk while more information about StoneWall Security can be found at https:// www.stonewallsecurity.co.uk/
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Multi-million pound refurbishment for Warwickshire hotel A Warwickshire hotel and spa is providing guests with a luxurious staycation steeped in history following a £5.6 million refurbishment. Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is based at the heart of rural Warwickshire, nestled in 11 acres of countryside and just three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Following an extensive £5.6 million refurbishment during 2020, guests can expect newly-refurbished bedrooms complete with rich, warm designs, upgraded guest spaces and a stunning restaurant featuring original 16th century oak panelling. Many of the bedrooms have been expertly upgraded with sumptuous new furnishings including four poster beds, period fireplaces and contemporary fabrics, ensuring a charming blend of traditional and modern. Communal spaces have also been enhanced with a new look, still in keeping with the former 16th century Elizabethan home’s historic charm. The incredible transformation includes the grand welcoming reception area, Great Hall and gallery as well as the Stuart Restaurant where guests can indulge in everything from themed afternoon teas to exclusive gastronomic delights with locally-sourced produce.
Plush, velvet furniture has been added throughout the property, whilst artwork by Pratiksha Tayal brings a contemporary twist to the traditional paintings that previously adorned the walls, creating a timeless luxury haven for all guests to enjoy. A variety of conference spaces have also been refreshed, and an ambient library adorned with a ceiling of floating books provides a light-filled area for relaxation or inspiration, said to be where William Shakespeare wrote his famous comedy ‘As You Like It’. The venue also includes a newlyrenovated spa where guests can take a dip in the pool followed by a steam and a sauna, or make use of the secluded yoga hut and fantastic gym facilities, and its wedding venue has also been refurbished, making it the perfect place to experience the unforgettable first moments as newlyweds. Billesley Manor is a unique 125-year-old property which boasts charming grounds, complete with an 11th century church and a listed, ornate topiary garden. Listed in the 1086 Domesday book commissioned by William the Conqueror, the Billesley Estate has an expansive history dating back to 705 AD.
Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is welcoming guests following a £5.6 million refurbishment.
William Shakespeare also allegedly married Anne Hathaway in the All Saints Church next to the hotel, and whose granddaughter followed suit by getting wed in the very same place. Stephen Fearnley FIH, General Manager of Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa, said: “It’s been incredibly exciting to see the renovations of Billesley Manor unfold. “Following an extensive £5.6 million refurbishment we are delighted to be able to provide guests with an even more enjoyable experience.
“From the gorgeous grounds and unique topiary garden to the upgraded bedrooms and renovated spa, guests won't be disappointed. “Billesley is a charming 16th century country hotel and it was important for guests to experience this history while adding a contemporary twist, which we've balanced perfectly.” Further details about Billesley Manor and booking information can be found at https://www.billesleymanor.com/
“Following an extensive £5.6 million refurbishment we are delighted to be able to provide guests with an even more enjoyable experience."
Expansion for digital design company A Coventry-based digital design company has expanded to cater for growing demand as an increasing number of businesses look to create apps to improve processes. Image+ Limited, based at Electric Wharf, has taken on four new members of staff in its App division of the company ‘Apps Plus’. The team in Coventry has welcomed Vikki Walsh as Marketing Manager and Richard Clements as Head App Developer, while App Developer Harry Messenger and Apprentice Tom Unsworth have joined the new Apps Plus Manchester office as the company not only looks to grow its client base in the north, but truly embrace remote working to ensure it has the very best talent on board. Apps Plus is a digital product agency which crafts and manufactures all projects in-house, creating bespoke apps to meet the requirements of each individual client. Apps can not only enable businesses to connect with consumers, something which Apps Plus has seen a huge boost in as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also digitalise and simplify processes to save time and ensure that data is accessible to those authorised to access it. The company has worked with clients ranging from SMEs to multinational companies based across the UK,
including those in the automotive, travel, hospitality, leisure, property, development, charity and entertainment industries. Its latest project is the launch of its very own smartphone app ‘Under Construction’ which really raises the bar in terms of ensuring site safety and allows construction companies to easily manage and track all their compliance and safety data in one place. The app enables construction managers to spot potential problems much faster thereby reducing the level of risk - which is absolutely vital in the construction industry - as well as streamlining project management. Updates on progress at the site can be seen in real-time and notifications can be sent to users alerting them to any upcoming issues, such as safety certificate expiration dates. Documents can also be shared with a firm’s principal contractor at any time. Under Construction was refined by Apps Plus after Birmingham-based construction firm Gridlocked – which specialises in installing ceiling and partition systems in a wide variety of buildings - used the app for several months, and is now available for the wider market to download and use. Apps Plus is a division of Image+ which offers a wide range of services including website design and development, digital marketing,
branding and the design of promotional material. Alan Hartin, managing director of Image+ Limited, said: “We are seeing an increasing number of businesses utilising apps. This could be to connect to consumers for processes such as mobile ordering, or for internal purposes such as digitalising paper processes or streamlining and simplifying lengthy processes which use other software. “Previously only niche or very forward-thinking businesses could see the potential of apps, but this is changing and now some businesses are viewing apps as being just as important as their websites. “And it’s not just large businesses which are taking advantage of the apps
space – we are currently working with businesses of all sizes across a wide range of industries. “One of the exciting projects we have recently completed is our Under Construction app. “We saw a gap in the market for an app to support the construction industry, and Under Construction will be unique for each company that uses it. “We would encourage any construction firms looking to increase their efficiency to get in touch.” More about Image+ is available at https://www.image-plus.co.uk/ while further details about App Plus can be found at https://www.apps-plus.co.uk/
“Previously only niche or very forward-thinking businesses could see the potential of apps, but this is changing and now some businesses are viewing apps as being just as important as their websites." 13
A joined up approach to Apprenticeship Training
Star of the month award for UHCW apprentice Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Training (CWCT) and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust are celebrating the success of apprentice Chloe Pettitt, who has been recognised by her colleagues as the first-ever ‘Star of the Month’ within UHCW. Chloe’s success is testament to the strength of the partnership between CWCT and UHCW in successfully delivering apprenticeships as part of the NHS’s workforce development strategy. Chloe joined UHCW in September 2020 as a Healthcare Assistant Apprentice. Despite being in the midst of a pandemic, aged 16 and with no prior experience, she has demonstrated utmost dedication, motivation and commitment, with strong ambitions to progress with a view to becoming a nursing associate. Chloe said: “The staff at Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber Training have been very supportive, open and honest and I can always approach them with ease. The training I have received has bridged gaps in my knowledge and helped me to apply that theory to practice when I’m on the ward.” Commenting on Chloe’s award, Samantha Smith, Ward Manager said: “Chloe’s role involves patient care including supporting with nutrition and hydration, personal care such as washing and dressing, things that people really value to support patients to maintain independence and dignity, most of all, she treats everyone as an individual. She is very professional at all times and is never afraid to ask questions in order to further develop her skills and support her patients and peers. “Within the neurology department, some patients have cognitive or behavioural problems and require enhanced support. Chloe provides such support very well and clearly demonstrates that she can also deal with sensitive or distressing situations. She embraces Trust Values and behaviours at all times, which is a key quality for a member of the team. “Although Chloe has only been with us for a short while, she has excelled both theoretically and practically in her role, and this is demonstrated in her professionalism and work ethic. She is always engaged in everything she does and, as her Star of the Month feedback alluded to, she is supportive, hardworking and always ready with a smile. Chloe is a real asset to the team on Ward 42 and to the apprenticeship programme. She should be really proud of what she has achieved and I imagine only more great things will follow.” All apprentices at the trust are also given training and pastoral care provided by the apprenticeship team. Kirstie Elliott, Apprenticeship Advisor at UHCW said “We are extremely proud of Chloe and her commitment and dedication, she is a fantastic role model for others and we look forward to watching how Chloe will reach her end goal of becoming a nursing associate.”
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Training (CWCT) are celebrating their recent success in securing a joint contract with Coventry City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to provide higher-level apprenticeship training to the adult social care sector. Chamber Training will be working in partnership with the local authorities to deliver the Lead Practitioner in Adult Social Care Level 4 apprenticeship which will run over a three-year period. In what was a highly competitive tendering round, Chamber Training used its vast experience of delivering high quality apprenticeships across Coventry and Warwickshire to secure the opportunity. Sally Lucas, Executive Director at Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber Training said: “We have worked in partnership with Coventry City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for several Sally Lucas, years. It is extremely Executive Director pleasing to be given at Chamber Training the chance to extend our partnership with both local authorities and deliver a tailored apprenticeship programme to upskill and enhance vital members of the adult social care teams across the localities. “The apprenticeship will provide individuals with specialist skills and knowledge, enabling them to lead in areas such as care needs assessment, occupational therapy, physiotherapy,
rehabilitation and enablement, telecare and assistive technologies. On completion, individuals will play a role in coaching and mentoring others, assessing performance and quality of care delivery. “At Chamber Training we offer a wide range of apprenticeships with employers across Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands. Apprenticeships offer a great way to develop a career path, build valuable experience and make a positive contribution in the workplace. They provide employers with a great way of recruiting new staff and upskilling the existing team.” Following on from Sally’s comments, Andy Hyland, Organisational Advisor at Coventry City Council said: “We are excited at the prospect of working closely with Andy Hyland, the specialist team Organisational at Chamber Training, Development joining forces across our Advisor at Coventry City Council two local authorities. “At Coventry City Council we are passionate about and committed to employing apprentices. As a diverse and inclusive employer with a wide range of jobs and professions, we are keen to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities available to new and existing staff. An apprenticeship provides the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge, empowering individuals to make a difference within their roles. “By joining forces with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, and with the support of Chamber Training, we will
be able to develop a unique programme, where best practice is shared and new ideas explored.” Jenny Holmes, Adults Principal Social Worker Adult Care and Support Directorate at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council added: “We Jenny Holmes, Adults are really excited in Principal Social Solihull to be able to Worker Adult Care and Support Directorate at offer practitioners Solihull Metropolitan the opportunity Borough Council to undertake the Lead Practitioner in Adult Social Care apprenticeship; this being the first time that this has been on offer to our staff. “This is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to build upon and develop their existing skills and knowledge working in Adult Social Care, many of which are key in supporting a strengths-based approach to practice. The programme on offer from Chamber Training means that practitioners will be able to learn and develop in a variety of ways and they will benefit from the chance to join staff from Coventry City Council in workshops and teaching sessions, promoting shared learning across teams and service areas.” To find out more about the Lead Practitioner in Adult Social Care Apprenticeship, please call Chamber Training’s Business Development Team on 024 7623 1122 or email@example.com
Apprenticeship Levy Funding for Coventry SMEs Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Training (CWCT) is working in partnership with Coventry City Council (CCC) to support smaller employers based in the City or Coventry residents working in the wider region through their apprenticeship levy, part of which can be transferred to support apprenticeship training costs. The CCC apprenticeship levy transfer fund is available to support a variety of apprenticeships, upskilling existing members of staff or new recruits. One example of a business that has recently benefited from this is the Society for the Environment, the body responsible for the registration of environmental professionals. The funding was used to support the apprenticeship of Katie Wilcox, who is following a Business Administrator apprenticeship at level 3. Katie has gone on to develop her communication skills and has used her enhanced ICT skills to enhance the company website, learnt how to create videos and podcasts as part of the company’s social media. The apprenticeship has enabled Katie to increase her confidence, make a strong contribution to the team and take on more responsibility within in her role. Commenting on the success Elaine Rutherford, Operations Manager at Society for the Environment said: “Coventry City Council have been excellent in helping
the Society to arrange funding, especially during lockdown. Having invested time and energy to find the right course for Katie, the funding has been invaluable as it has helped to plug the skills Elaine Rutherford, gap in the organisation, Operations identify talent in other Manager at Society areas which have for the Environment opened up exciting opportunities. It has greatly improved our company performance, accuracy and quality of work. I would recommend all companies to follow suit in applying for funding. “Chamber Training’s apprenticeship programme has certainly helped Katie to become more productive and supported her with taking on additional responsibilities.” In the words of Katie: “This training has really pushed me to learn new skills within my job role, boosting my capabilities and potential, and teaching me that self-improvement is Katie Wilcox, the key to success in Apprentice at Society for the Environment everything that I do.”
Training Courses 2021 Managing Difficult People Understanding Discipline in the Workplace
Natalie Lane, an Account Manager at Chamber Training said: “Coventry City Council’s support for small to medium businesses, through the apprenticeship levy transfer is enabling Natalie Lane, Account Manager at companies to build the skills they need to thrive. Chamber Training It’s a simple, straight forward process to request apprenticeship levy funding and it can really make an impact on the future success of a business. We are delighted that Society for the Environment was able to develop Katie as an apprentice and we wish her all the best in her chosen career path. “We urge SMEs to get in touch with us to find out if they are eligible to access this financial support. Coventry City Council is particularly interested in transferring funds to employers that can commit to recruiting people from Coventry as apprentices for care leavers, young people, particularly those who are not in education, employment or training, parents or carers looking to return to work and people with disabilities.” To find out more, contact a member of the Business Development Team at Chamber Training on 024 7623 1122 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Coventry & Warwickshire in business
NEAT wins award for work in COVID pandemic At the Living Wage Champion Awards, National Express Accessible Transport (NEAT) was recognised for its leadership in supporting local communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From the start of the 2020 lockdown, NEAT stepped up and worked closely with partners to provide much-needed support for NHS heroes and vulnerable citizens across the West Midlands. The organisation’s leadership, kindness and resilience over the past year was inspirational, leading to a new COVID-19 Stronger Together trophy being awarded by the Living Wage Foundation. When schools closed in March 2020, NEAT worked quickly with Birmingham City Council to deliver thousands of food parcels to families and individuals who were shielding. Over the course of just a few months, 45,000 food parcels were delivered to some of Birmingham’s most
vulnerable families, as well as learning packs for children who were unable to get online. NEAT also operates the local Ring and Ride service, used by West Midlands residents who are unable to use mainstream public transport due to mobility or social isolation issues. However, with many customers staying at home, the organisation saw an opportunity to provide a lifeline for frontline staff. Working alongside Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), NEAT repurposed the fleet to run free NHS staff shuttles between key transport hubs and hospitals across the region. More than 40,000 trips were completed and made a real difference to NHS staff. In addition, NEAT ran hundreds of dedicated COVID vaccination shuttles for vulnerable customers during the vaccination rollout.
Vinay Parmar, managing director of NEAT, said: “As a real Living Wage employer, we’re always trying to do the best for our employees and within the communities we serve, so I’m delighted that we’ve been given the Living Wage Champion’s COVID-19 Stronger Together award.”
Hotel opens its doors after major refurbishment As UK summer staycations continue to soar, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa is delighted to welcome back guests following an extensive £5.6 million refurbishment. Guests can expect newly refurbished bedrooms complete with rich, warm designs, upgraded guest spaces with a contemporary twist, a stunning restaurant and bar featuring original sixteenth century oak panelling, and a newly renovated spa and wedding venue.
This unique 125-year-old property boasts charming grounds, complete with an eleventh century church and a listed, ornate topiary garden steeped in history. A variety of conference spaces have also been refreshed, and an ambient library adorned with a ceiling of floating books provides a light-filled area for relaxation or inspiration – said to be where William Shakespeare wrote his famous comedy As You Like It.
Many of the bedrooms have been expertly upgraded with sumptuous new furnishings. Four-poster beds, period fireplaces and contemporary fabrics ensure a charming blend of the traditional and the modern, with an elegant and refined design. Communal spaces have also been enhanced with a new look, still in keeping with the former sixteenth century Elizabethan home’s historic charm. The incredible transformation includes the grand welcoming reception area, Great Hall, bar, lounge and gallery, and the Stuart Restaurant for guests to indulge in everything from themed afternoon teas to exclusive gastronomic delights
with locally sourced produce. Drawing inspiration from the romantic English landscape, historic origins and the notable voices past and present that have retreated to Billesley, the hotel is the perfect sanctuary for guests looking to feel re-energised and inspired. Those looking to wind down can experience a number of indulgent beauty therapies within the newly refurbished Decleor spa. Guests can take a dip in the pool followed by a steam and a sauna, or make use of the secluded yoga hut and fantastic gym facilities. For more information visit www.bespokehotels.com, and www.billesleymanor.com
Canal charity tackles speeding cyclists on West Midlands’ towpaths Waterways and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust, is trialling a new speed awareness device in the West Midlands to encourage cyclists to “Stay Kind, Slow Down” when using the region’s increasingly popular canal towpaths. Having been a haven for local people during lockdown, with visitor numbers to some towpaths more than double what they were pre-pandemic, the trust wants to remind everyone that the towpaths are a shared space which are used by thousands of people every day. The month-long trial of the portable speed detection device will remind people, especially those cyclists who live in urban and busy areas along the canal network, to take it easy and to slow down. It works by detecting the speed of cyclists as they approach, flashing a “thank you” if they’re cycling at a leisurely pace or the words
#StayKindSlowDown if they are going too fast. The trial locations will be along some of the region’s most popular and well used sections of canal and include: • The Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak • In central Birmingham at Cambrian Wharf • The Birmingham Main Line Canal at the Wolverhampton Lock Flight • Coventry Basin • The Trent & Mersey Canal in Stone, Staffordshire Gavin Passmore, community engagement manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “We know that our canals played a crucial role during lockdown for exercise and wellbeing. This was particularly important in urban areas where many people don’t have back
gardens, as people stayed local and discovered these amazing wildlife corridors on their doorstep. “We want people to use the canals, including cyclists, but ask everyone to be considerate of others on the towpath. Whilst most people are kind and courteous, if you are on a bike, it can just mean slowing down and cycling at a leisurely pace.” For more information visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
Avoiding one of those tricky conversations?
A new company, Real Conversations Work, has been launched to make having a challenging conversation that much easier. During her career to date, founder of the new brand, Sarah Tomson, noticed that issues would arise when people weren’t able to have honest and frank
conversations with each other. Every leader she’d met had something in common: they were all sitting on at least one tricky conversation that they were putting off having. Avoiding these conversations didn’t make the situation any better. Sarah’s business started three years earlier as Sarah Tomson Associates. She had been working with Leamington Spa-based brand agency Glued to help shape marketing campaign messages and the
company’s valuable point of difference since launching in 2018. Glued had developed a website and marketing for the original brand over a few years. Eventually Sarah concluded that the name of the business needed to change to reflect this evolved approach and Real Conversations Work was born. David Wilson from Glued commented “Sarah’s whole approach to team development is so refreshing: at its core is the idea that people rarely
want to do a bad job at work and often hidden issues build up to cause problems. A conversation aimed to resolve those underlying issues is likely to result in a better outcome.” Sarah Tomson added “The biggest impact of working with Glued was building our brand and being able to refer prospects to our website knowing it tells our story. The new brand helps us stand out from our competitors in a really distinctive way.”
Office-barrassment Clean up your act! By Graham Freakes Holiday time is upon us and after the abstinence of last year many of you will be enjoying some well deserved rest on a sunny beach probably in the UK. It’s a time when many of us close our eyes and think back to the ideal workplace and imagining how it will look by Xmas. There’s been a lot of coverage of re-imagining the workplace and return to the office anxiety; what as a business owner are you going to do to? With peoples experience of working in their home environment their expectations of what a good workplace should be like will have increased dramatically – so it will be imperative to imagine it and make it better than it ever has been in the past. Do you add a gym in the space vacated by the homeworking staff? Put in your own coffee bar? The task can seem overwhelming and too large to tackle – and so not only does it not get done it gets worse! Eventually just going to work becomes too daunting because of the untackled mess! The problem is always knowing where to start. Firstly – you don’t have to do this on your own – you can use this as a team rebuilding exercise and develop the workplace with the whole teams ideas taken into account. Using a simple technique from the automotive world – the 5S methodology – you can transform your workplace into a home from home – a place your staff will want to come to more than home. Starting with a small office or open plan area work your way through the entire workplace. You and your team will transform the existing into the future, clearing out everything that shouldn’t be in the office, sparkling the space left then putting back only essential items. It’s almost impossible to do this on your own work space so using the team makes it so much easier. I’ve delivered this simple but effective process to a wide variety of businesses. It’s intense, simple, hands on, no nonsense business sparkling in the space of a few days. Call 07774 200321 or email email@example.com
For more information visit www.realconversationswork.com and www.gluedlimited.co.uk
Virtual viewing is recipe for success
Local artist creates snapshot of spring in blossoming community A local artist was selected to create a painting of Rugby’s newest neighbourhood in full bloom this spring. Victoria Parsons, whose impressive artwork explores wildlife and nature, was commissioned to capture the natural landscape at Houlton by master developer Urban&Civic. Victoria created a spring scene showcasing life at Houlton, which already enjoys 65 acres of accessible green spaces, nature trails, cycleways, walkways, ponds, beautiful wildflower, mature trees and natural habitats. Having lived in Kilsby for 40 years, Victoria accepted the brief after being part of an open call for artists launched by Urban&Civic in partnership with Rugby Museum and Art Gallery to produce the piece of art. The artistic process was captured via time-lapse to see how the piece was brought together and hopefully inspire others to pick up their pencils, brushes and pastels. The initiative comes as part of Urban&Civic’s pledge to support local artists and homegrown talent throughout the area, while encouraging residents to explore the great outdoors on their doorstep and reconnect with nature. Victoria’s bespoke mixed medium painting will be displayed at Houlton’s Visitor Centre and joins an outdoor exhibition within Houlton’s green spaces which shows winning entries of a photography competition from last summer. Kyle Smith, part of the Urban&Civic team at Houlton, said: “The past year has highlighted the importance of both creative outlets and nature for our residents’ personal wellbeing, so what better way to recognise that than by commissioning a piece of art that captures a spring scene at Houlton.” Victoria added: “I am thrilled to be partnering with Urban&Civic to capture the stunning scenery at Houlton. As a specialist in wildlife art, I truly believe we need nature for our physical and mental wellbeing; our connection to nature is as important as breathing.” For more information, visit www.houltonrugby.co.uk and www.victoriaparsons.co.uk
Award-winning commercial property agency Bromwich Hardy has completed its first-ever letting based entirely on remote viewings – thanks to its innovative use of state-of-theart software. Expanding pizza chain Caprinos has agreed a 20-year lease on a new site in Warwick despite never having set foot in the property. Instead, the company snapped up 36 Smith Street after viewing the property remotely through the Matterport platform used by Bromwich Hardy. Bromwich Hardy partner James Brookes said: “Our virtual tours use the latest technology to give prospective occupiers the opportunity to effectively examine a property in a safe and efficient manner, which has been increasingly important throughout the pandemic.
“We were the first commercial agency in the region to use the Matterport technology to give 3D tours and video walk-throughs of properties and both we and our clients have been delighted with the results. “We are able to offer detailed viewings which are truly immersive and allow the viewer to zoom in, walk around and even measure up the rooms – and in this case it was so effective we were able to secure a deal based purely on the virtual viewing.” The two-storey building, which covers nearly 2,300sq ft, is on one of Warwick’s main shopping streets and has a six-metre shop frontage. Earlier this year Coventry-based Bromwich Hardy was named the most active single-branch agency for the number of commercial sales and purchases in both Coventry and the wider West Midlands in the influential CoStar Awards.
The Smith Street property
The agency also features in the list of top five best-performing agencies in a host of other categories for both regions in the awards, which reflect deals completed throughout 2020. The success came hot on the heels of the agency being named amongst the most successful in the country in figures compiled by Estates Gazette. For more details visit https://www.bromwichhardy.com
Shopping reward for starstudent police inspector A police inspector with over 25 years’ experience at Warwickshire Police has been recognised with a shopping voucher prize as part of a regional awards scheme. Inspector Paul Barnsley was singled out by the Skills and Education Group as the best nominee in his category despite being forced to abandon its plans for a high-profile awards event because of the pandemic. Paul completed eight distance learning qualifications with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) after online mental health training set him on the right track following a period of absence from work.
Paul was so impressed with what he learnt that he has encouraged more than 30 of his colleagues to sign up for the training. He went on to study challenging behaviour, children, and young people’s mental health, learning disabilities, and understanding autism, and has brought what he learnt back to the workplace. As a result of his studies, Paul was selected to be part of a pilot scheme led by Warwickshire Police to diagnose dyslexia amongst colleagues. He became accredited by the British Dyslexia Association as a dyslexia assessor and screens new recruits to the force, helping to signpost those who need support. Paul has also been instrumental in setting up a disability network for Warwickshire Police which enables colleagues to share information,
knowledge, and best practice amongst colleagues. Paul’s achievements impressed the judges at the Skills and Education Group which is sending him a shopping voucher worth £100. He said: “I am honoured to have been selected for this very welcome reward. The college courses opened my eyes and I have been finding what I have learnt highly beneficial in helping the way I interact with police service users.” Marion Plant, OBE FGCI, principal and chief executive of NWSLC, said: “This is a lovely boost for Paul who has done so well and derived a great deal of personal benefit from our distance learning courses.” For more information visit www.nwslc.ac.uk
Linguistic expertise is vital for export success Language capabilities are a key driver for UK SME export success, new research has revealed. The three-year study, conducted by Aston Business School researcher Ankita Tibrewal, looked at a sample of UK SMEs across key sectors to understand the power of language to drive global growth. With six million SMEs in the UK, employing 61% of the UK’s workforce, these findings are crucial in helping organisations thrive in overseas markets. SMEs flourishing internationally has a direct impact on the UK’s economy, bolstering employment and revenue into the country. The headline finding from the study is that SMEs embracing language capabilities are 30% more successful in exporting than those that don’t.
Other key findings in the research are outlined below: • Through their knowledge of language, companies can access wider networks and demonstrate greater competitive advantage. • Language capability enables companies to build invaluable knowledge and understanding of their target sector, driving better access to markets. • Future focused companies who are more willing to invest in the development of their workforce, are in turn more likely to invest in language skills. The results of the research indicate that SMEs can significantly increase their export sales, growth and profits by hiring people with language skills and high cultural intelligence, providing language training to existing staff, and investing
in professional translation services using sophisticated language technology. The research has been jointly funded by Aston Business School and the Association of Translation Companies (ATC). For the past three years, West Midland’s award-winning translation agency, Comtec, has been supporting this research.
Dr Isabella Moore CBE, founder of Comtec and former president of the BCC, said: “We believe that languages give SMEs and all businesses a competitive advantage. This research has tangibly proven it.” For more information visit www.comtectranslations.com
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Warwickshire tourism organisation makes major appointment
Glyn Slade, new business development manager, Shakespeare’s England
The organisation responsible for tourism in Warwickshire has made a senior appointment to help the region’s tourism and hospitality sector bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shakespeare’s England has welcomed Glyn Slade in the new role of business development manager. He will be responsible for providing one-to-one support for existing members and helping the organisation to increase its membership by recruiting new business tourism and leisure tourism members across South Warwickshire and the surrounding region. Glyn has more than 18 years of industry experience, previously working as operations manager for Bristol Insight, a city hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour company. His career began as a driver for tour bus operator Guide Friday and City Sightseeing Stratford-upon-Avon in 1995.
Glyn became operations manager for City Sightseeing Stratford, Birmingham & Coventry in 2001. Other roles have included international sales manager for City Sightseeing Worldwide (2004-2010), The Original London Sightseeing Tour (2010-2014) and Extrapolitan, a London-based worldwide alliance of hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours in 15 cities (2014-2017). In his spare time, he has been a civilian instructor and RAF reserve officer with the Air Cadets (Stratford, Kenilworth and Birmingham) and was recently appointed district scouts commissioner for Stratford-upon-Avon. Glyn said: “Having lived in Stratford-upon-Avon for most of my adult life, and
my introduction into the world of leisure tourism beginning here, I’m excited to be joining the team at Shakespeare’s England. “I have seen the work they do on behalf of the membership first-hand at events here in the UK, and all over the world, and they play a vital part in the region’s economy.” Helen Peters, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “I am delighted to have appointed Glyn as the business development manager for Shakespeare’s England. Not only is he very experienced, he is also well known and respected within the industry. The icing on the cake is that he is a local so knows the area extremely well.”
Communications coach supports Windrush Defenders Legal with skills training workshops Anthony Brown’s achingly familiar Windrush story, published in the Guardian, drew Monica Brown like a magnet. She knew that her communications coaching and media engagement training company, Monica Brown, had a critical role to play to support the community interest company (CIC), Windrush Defenders Legal, led by Anthony Brown. The CIC was established in 2018 to support Windrush citizens and their families to prove their legal status and claim compensation from the Home Office. Monica is the daughter of Windrush parents, whose father, Gersham Brown, helped to construct Coventry University and Coventry Cathedral. She combined her experience of successfully leading her family, “Team Brown”, to secure her mother’s legal status with her extensive experience in broadcasting, journalism, teaching, corporate training and advocacy to support the work of Windrush Defenders Legal. After meeting with the team in May, Monica designed and delivered an
online skills workshop on writing news releases. All ten participants benefited from Monica’s experience and practice of crafting news releases and messages to stir audience support and change policy. Anthony Brown explained the value of Monica’s training when he said: “Windrush Defenders Legal is working for law reform. Communication is a vital part of our work to bring people along by sharing information in an impactful
way. Our training session has begun to build our confidence and knowledge of structuring clear messages. We also appreciated the great insights of how to reach our target audience.” Monica will continue to donate her skills to Windrush Defenders Legal by rolling out a range of communications and media training workshops to help legal and research professionals craft their messages and build support for their cause.
Utility Team and Centrica help firms become energy-efficient Utility Team has joined forces with Centrica Business Solutions to deliver an Energy Insights solution that helps businesses optimise their energy consumption and drive down carbon emissions. Utility Team’s Energy Insights provides greater energy consumption monitoring and intelligence-driven energy efficiency solutions for organisations across many sectors. These solutions will be powered by Centrica Business Solutions’ Panoramic Power™ technology. The solution uses real-time energy data from the Panoramic Power™ submetering solution. Panoramic Power™ hardware is a non-invasive wireless solution that is quick to deploy and cost effective. Once installed, it delivers a wide range of granular energy data
across the entire site, right down to individual device level. Through the intelligent mapping of a site and the strategic deployment of this solution, Utility Team can build a deep understanding of an organisation’s energy consumption profile. The deep-level intelligence provided by Panoramic Power™ is then analysed to create customised energy efficiency programmes for organisations. These programmes will demonstrate how energy consumption can be reduced and provide an energy baseline for energy efficiency projects that deliver a significant return on investment. Chris Toze, head of energy service at Utility Team, said: “Energy efficiency and carbon reduction are fundamental to our customers’ long-term sustainability
plans. We knew that by combining our energy efficiency expertise with the Panoramic Power™ solution, we would be able to provide our customers with an invaluable Energy Insights solution.” The solution will deliver multiple benefits to organisations, starting with a comprehensive understanding of their energy consumption across their estate. The insights and energy efficiency projects identified will help reduce energy expenditure and the environmental impact of the organisation. There are also several additional benefits, including a reduction in the risk of device or equipment failure and the ability to forward-plan the replacement and maintenance of systems and machinery. To find out more, visit https://www. utilityteam.co.uk/panoramic-power
Be vigilant on health and safety! Recruitment specialist Sky Blue Safety is urging companies to comply with health and safety laws, especially as staff return to the office. Every business must have working for them a competent person with the right knowledge to ensure health and safety requirements are being met. In addition, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that “every employer shall … appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.” This means that the responsibility doesn’t have to, and probably shouldn’t, fall upon the shoulders of just one person. Neil Chambers, Sky Blue Safety managing director, said: “Having worked in this area for 25 years, I’ve seen many businesses make mistakes and many businesses do things really well. I normally find that initially a company benefits from appointing a health and safety manager who has the right knowledge and experience to get a business up to speed, and then they can appoint other competent persons where required, whether that’s an asbestos surveyor or fire risk assessor.” Health and safety compliance can be detailed and businesses must know what they’re doing to properly keep employees safe. In addition, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 states that when a contractor is hired, the client – that’s the business the contractor is doing the work for – is responsible for ensuring health and safety laws are met. This doesn’t fall under the remit of the hired person or company. Sky Blue Safety is a health and safety recruitment specialist. To find out more, visit www.skybluesafety.co.uk
Exasoft group expands its workforce Coventry-based Exasoft Group has seen a continued demand for its products and services throughout the pandemic and with new business wins the firm, located in Coventry Innovation Village, is increasing its workforce. Exasoft Group specialises in financial, digital, and educational software and solutions and supplies rectification software for large banks and financial institutions and digital solutions in web and mobile technology. Responsible for designing and developing the Coventry City of Culture website and app, the group has invested heavily in its workforce and is recruiting for permanent roles, graduate placements and for a new apprentice role. Dr Alan Malik, CEO, Exasoft Group said: “We have seen a consistent requirement for our software solutions and developing the UK City of Culture website and app has certainly seen a demand for our digital services. We want to increase our workforce through experienced personnel but also offer opportunities to students who are studying for their degree through placements and apprenticeships, enabling them to get real-life work experience on some fantastic projects.” The group is currently recruiting for experienced developers, a Xamarin developer, and a C#.NET developer, all based at the Coventry office. All will be offered attractive salaries and a wide range of benefits, according to the group, which has been working with Coventry and Warwick universities to offer students placements as part of their degree programmes. Nooreen Hashambhoy, development manager at Exasoft Group, has been looking after the graduate cohort of 2020-21 and has seen a huge increase in their skills and experience. Nooreen said: “Our placement roles cover development, UI/UX design and cyber security and we pride ourselves on giving the placement students opportunities to work on high profile projects.” For more information visit www.exasoftgroup.com/exasoftrecruitment.
Heart of England rises to economic challenges Ali Kurji, chief executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society
The Heart of England Co-operative Society has reported a satisfactory year of trading despite an extraordinary and challenging marketplace in 2020. The society, which operates a network of 35 food stores and 15 funeral homes, invested £4.3 million in new projects during the course of a year in which the UK continued to trade in deep economic uncertainty, with Brexit and the unprecedented event of the coronavirus. Turnover for the year ending January 16 reached an all-time high of £92.1 million, reflecting an increase
of 19.8% on the previous 12 months. Operating profits over the same period rose by more than 22%. Food sales recorded an increase of 18.3% over the year. Mid-March saw the start of panic buying across the country – first affecting the supermarkets, then switching to convenience operators as the supermarkets ran out of stock. To help steer its communities safely through the pandemic the society implemented sales restrictions on high-demand items such as toilet rolls and hand sanitisers, ensuring there was enough for all. The society also invested heavily in PPE and implemented a series of restrictions such as social distancing to give colleagues and shoppers peace of mind during the pandemic.
In addition, the society launched a home delivery service through a new partnership with Snappy Shopper, giving customers the option to shop from home. The funeral division also reported a sales increase of 3.82% and an 11.15% increase in the number of funerals on last year. Despite the fierce competition across the trading region the society still managed to increase its margins compared to last year. Ali Kurji, chief executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, said: “COVID-19 has had and is continuing to have a material impact on the society’s business operations. We are managing through the coronavirus pandemic in a measured and controlled way whilst recognising the opportunities to modernise the society for the future.”
How to tackle the skills gap A lack of skilled workers in the UK could result in a slower recovery for businesses – How are you preparing to attract the talent you need? The number of vacancies in the UK is currently at its highest since the start of the pandemic, but the number of available candidates is at the lowest since 2017. As the country starts to recover from the effects of lockdown, and businesses gain confidence, we are starting to see a lack of workers – presenting a barrier to recovery and growth. Hospitality, tourism and construction industries are already suffering, due to a pre-pandemic shortage of workers, but there is also high demand for retail, legal, accountancy, IT, digital, engineering, driving and nursing staff, and new skills shortages are being added week on week.
Employers face a new challenge to find the talent and skills they need, which has been made harder due to the pandemic and Britain’s exit from the EU. Potential candidates lack confidence to move roles or may still be on furlough leave. There has been in decline in visa applications, meaning fewer workers from overseas have entered the country since the start of the year, and the new points-based system has made it harder to employ overseas workers, particularly in lower paid, less skilled roles. It’s important that companies act now, if they are to recruit the people they need, to ensure their business survives. Applying for a sponsor license may be a solution to take advantage of workers from overseas, but longer-term succession planning is key to sustaining
staff levels and growth. Reviewing your company’s salary bandings and/ or benefits package will also be crucial in attracting talent, along with offering flexible, remote and hybrid working. For more information or trusted, reliable advice on any of these matters, Hanson Lawrie is here to support your business. Visit www.hansonlawrie.co.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hailservices and ibis join forces
Hailservices has announced a new partnership with ibis Hotels to enable the use and regeneration of the Swift Cycle Works, an iconic building in the cycling industry of Coventry. Believed to be the last surviving site where James Starley was based,
it represents a new chapter in basing a zero-carbon company here. The partnership will see Hailservices operating from the site as a micro hub to support the hotel firm’s inner city taxi, delivery and tourist services Keith Higham, director of Hailservices, said: “This represents real intent for the city to welcome emission-free vehicles to combat congestion and pollution. We would like to thank ibis Coventry for having the foresight and trust in allowing us to work from the Swift Cycle Works and the Coventry BID team who we
were able to reach out to in helping us find this solution through their partnership with the city centre business community.” Jade Jones, sales manager at ibis Coventry centre, said: “We are delighted to see our Swift Cycle Works being regenerated for the use of Hailservices for this exciting new, eco-friendly business in time for the City of Culture 2021. The partnership supports Accor’s Planet 21 sustainable development program priorities to innovate with partners and work with local communities and we are looking forward to a successful
future for Hailservices and ibis Coventry Centre.” Trish Willetts, Coventry BID director, added: “It was great to hear that the connection between Hailservices and the ibis team had been facilitated with the help of one of our BID Bites newsletters – especially as something so exciting has come out of it! We are incredibly proud of all of our businesses and always keen to support in any way that we can. Hailservices is an important element of our great city’s toolbox of recovery and we can’t wait to see where their success takes them next!”
The new name for CeraCon in the UK Despite a year of challenges for many businesses across the UK, a specialist foam sealing business in Warwickshire has been fortunate enough to not only weather the storm but also complete a management buy-out and name change. Formerly known as CeraCon UK, Robafoam completed the buy-out last December, safeguarding the future of the 20 staff at the foam sealing company. After a nine-month process, the deal made with its German parent company CeraCon GmbH was completed with the support and guidance of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub. Since then, Robafoam has been working with local designers to form a new identity for the now UK-owned business.
The company’s managing director, Robert Jones, said: “We are keen to reassure our customers that nothing other than our name has changed. We have a new name and new look but are still providing the same commitment and quality that we always have. We will also continue to be the UK’s official distributor of CeraCon products.” The business offers a unique service in the UK. Using six-axis robots and specialist equipment, Robafoam creates and automatically applies liquid foam seals directly to customers’ parts. Its customer base and target market are vast, ranging from electronics to automotive, lighting and construction. This application process provides significant commercial and technical benefits compared to manually fitting seals and gaskets.
Robert said: “From our modest start in 2013, we now have approaching 100 UK customers within more than 500 different applications. Our turnover is around £1.8 million and we run a three-shift production. At the beginning of 2020, we expanded into a second facility, which will become our technical and visitor centre. We are specifically targeting applications within the battery electric vehicle market with this new R&D facility.” For further information visit www.robafoam.com
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Profile: Professor Ian Jefferson
"We all get climate change, we read about it all the time. But when you see waste because people aren’t thinking carefully enough, it makes you think. When I was on construction sites, I could see that budgets were tight and yet waste was costing money and this was not sustainable."
Waste not, want not to achieve net zero Achieving net zero and sustainability may be the official aims of Professor Ian Jefferson as his team seeks to support businesses across the region, but it’s good old-fashioned values of ‘waste not, want not’ that are his real driving force. Ian Jefferson is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, where he is also Deputy Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Deputy Director – geo-structures of the UKCRIC National Buried Infrastructure Facility. He is also the principal and co-investigator on a number of projects including the Alternative Raw Materials with Low Impact (ARLI) examining how waste can be turned into marketable products. The ERDF project offers advice and technical support to eligible small and medium sized enterprises
(SMEs) across three Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas - Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire – on developing innovative low-carbon products and processes. “ARLI was borne out of the agenda to look at low carbon and net zero – before net zero was actually a phrase,” he said. “The project has been around for nearly four years now and we are now into phase two. We are working with businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire in this phase.
“It’s aiming to support small and medium sized enterprises in the Local Enterprise Partnership region to help them fulfil that goal. It is providing R&D support and knowledge exchange to look at processes or products and potentially to get new products to market. “There are a range of different companies we’ve worked with where we’ve taken a waste stream, brought it into a different industry and then it’s become a new product from the waste. It’s part of that circular economy. “If we can use waste as a resource, it gives us a much better chance of achieving net zero.” Professor Jefferson grew up in the South East and told teachers he wanted to be a farmer when he was quizzed at infant school. He later opted for engineering – a career that ran in the family – and briefly worked for Yorkshire Water on construction sites after which he
completed his PhD at Loughborough University. It’s clear that those family values remain a guiding force for him. “My background is in civil engineering and, particularly, dealing with the ground so foundations and that kind of thing,” he said. “I joined the University of Birmingham in the early noughties when sustainability had started to become topical. Having seen the waste on sites, this was an opportunity to make and affect change. “We were starting to look at opportunities to work with business and it really sparked us into thinking that we could make a tangible difference. “Businesses need to stay marketable and profitable – because it is about the bottom line – but we could take some of these broader principles around environment and social awareness but make it genuinely sustainable from a business point of view. www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Profile: Professor Ian Jefferson “Sometimes these ideas can get momentum in academic circles and there is a lot of talk but I come from a background that says let’s make an impact.
associated with buried infrastructure; infrastructure monitoring and assessment; erosion detection and monitoring; design for disassembly and sustainability in the supply chain.
“It was part of my engineering training and part of my experiences growing up in that environment.
And Professor Jefferson is keen to stress the practicality of the work.
“I had a short spell in industry with Yorkshire Water after which I finished my PhD in geotechnical engineering at Loughborough University in the early 1990s. “But it was the height of the recession and I ended up in higher education by default! “It wasn’t where I had originally been heading but I enjoyed it and have stayed ever since. I started my career at Loughborough University because, at the time, it was much more industry facing than most. “I got my inspiration from my father. He worked for Lucas and used to engage with academics and was often bemoaning that they were occasionally doing research for research’s sake! It was embedded in me. “So, I was always very conscious of that and, therefore, I’ve always maintained that we have to produce something that is useful. “Academia and business work so much better together nowadays. It’s partly top-down but it’s also bottom-up. In the 1980s, academia was much more about the prestige of academic activity. “The drive from funding bodies, the interest from industry to engage and the general drive of the country as a whole have all been catalysts to draw businesses and universities together.” He added: “We all get climate change, we read about it all the time. But when you see waste because people aren’t thinking carefully enough, it makes you think. When I was on construction sites, I could see that budgets were tight and yet waste was costing money and this was not sustainable. “Waste not, want not was a mantra I grew up with. My grandparents had come through the Second World War and it was instilled in me from an early age. “So, I’ve always been asking the question: is there a better way of doing this?” The ARLI project is helping businesses to come up with that better way by offering support to reduce raw materials usage, including material substitution and waste reduction; reuse of waste streams; applications including geotechnical engineering www.cw-chamber.co.uk
He said: “There are many companies that we have supported. They are from across a range of sectors including food and beverage through to tyre manufacturers. For example, bicycle tyres have often been sent to landfill so we’ve looked at what we might be able to do with that. “We’ve worked with certain industries to look at the way they package products. We’ve also looked at producing edible spoons too! “We will talk to anybody and part of that initial conversation will be to see how we can support them but also a key message is that we work with a number of partner organisations and other parts of the university. “We are aiming to support a number of companies within the LEP region. Some of our targets are around business assists, some are around new products to market and, also, employment opportunities. “However, we see this as a chance to offer longer term support and develop partnerships.” He believes Covid-19 and the economic fall-out has seen companies looking to broaden their horizons and targeting net zero and sustainability is part of that. “The pandemic has been an interesting catalyst for businesses starting to think about net zero and carbon reduction,” he said. “There have been businesses that have struggled and, ultimately, may fade away and then there have been others that have embraced this as an opportunity and have brought in new products and new services. “We’ve had a lot of success in this field – more than we anticipated prepandemic and that has been one of the strange things. Businesses have been more open to conversations because they are, undoubtedly, looking for new opportunities.
About Professor Ian Jefferson: Born:
Married/Partner: Married Children:
“We’re here to help and provide that support to help your business to look at alternatives that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint either through process management or alternative products.
Gardening, and generally
Anything from popular science
“The take home message is that we have been successful in helping a number of SMEs actually change and benefit from this and we want to help more businesses too by building real partnerships.”
The value of an insolvency practitioner A common perception of an insolvency practitioner is that they are simply a corporate undertaker. The grim reaper of the business world. An old trope is that an insolvency practitioner turns up once the battle is over to bayonet the wounded. We’ve heard them all! It’s a good job that a thick skin tends to be a pre-requisite to be an insolvency practitioner. However, stretching the undertaker metaphor, if you dig a bit deeper, there is significant value in having a trusted insolvency practitioner in your contact book. The restructuring and insolvency profession plays a vital role in the UK economy. With the help of an insolvency practitioner, businesses are rescued, jobs are saved, economic resources are redistributed, and confidence in lending and investment is maintained. It can be difficult to precisely quantify the ‘vital role’ statement in numerical terms but R3, the trade body for the profession, has conducted extensive research in partnership with a leading market researcher and has recently issued a report in an attempt to.
The highlights of the report are that in 2019 the profession:• Rescued 2,700 businesses; • Saved 297,000 jobs; • Returned £1.82 billion to creditors; and • Advised 60,000 businesses and 144,000 individuals. The word ‘insolvency’ is feared by all directors and business owners and of course no-one enters into business with the intention of having to close down. Insolvency is not, however, always a pre-cursor to closure. Insolvency can be temporary rather than terminal. Insolvent companies can potentially be recovered, revived and restructured – the key is seeking early advice. Based on the statistics above, it is clear that an insolvency practitioner can add significant value and participate in efforts to avoid a worst case outcome.
Guy started his career in financial services, initially working for Royal Life and then Scottish Amicable and Prudential, before settling at Standard Life where he stayed for 20 years. He cannot pretend that he would not have preferred a career as a professional footballer with all of its trappings; unfortunately, this was never an option because his sharp and brilliant football brain never communicated with his feet! Guy has spent the whole of his financial services career working with financial planning firms which meant getting involved in all areas of
We are also often required to employ the services of our professional contacts in carrying out our work and we therefore have an extensive contact book of our own. If, for example, it is identified that funding is required in order to restructure a business we will be able to assist in identifying the potential sources of funding. If there is a legal issue that needs resolving, we will be able to make a knowledgeable recommendation for a solicitor. And so on.
Dan Smith We are only just emerging from the pandemic and, despite the various financial initiatives to support companies and businesses through a difficult period, many will be facing an uncertain future. They will need time to get back on their feet. A post-pandemic recovery will require the skills of many parties, including the restructuring and insolvency profession. The earlier specialist advice is taken from a licenced insolvency practitioner, the more options there are likely to be.
If you have any queries about this article or any insolvency-related issue, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Smith or any other member of the team on 02476 226839. www.briuk.co.uk All discussions are in complete confidence and without obligation.
Integrity Wealth Solutions strengthens team with new hire
Integrity Wealth Solutions has announced the appointment of Guy Jackson as head of strategic partnerships.
Even if the formal services of the insolvency practitioner are not required, an insolvency practitioner can be a good conduit to other professional services. All of our work comes to us via referrals from our accountancy, legal and finance contacts – a testament to our mantra of always providing the best advice to the client regardless of the outcome for ourselves.
their businesses. He helped firms in a variety of ways including technical support, help with new legislation, and finding solutions to business and client challenges. He always looked to add value to the accounts he worked on and their clients. His mantra was to matter to the firms he worked with. He has never regretted working in financial services and has found that the speed of change in the industry, and the variety of the work he has been involved with, is compelling. He feels that joining Integrity is a genuinely exciting opportunity with a forward-thinking business that has a high-quality and motivated team that puts the client at the heart of everything. He feels that one of the attractions of the role is that no day will be the same; it’s a new role which he has the chance to shape and build which after 30 years of working for PLCs is an exhilarating opportunity. He’s looking forward to working with our business partners and will look to support both them and the work they do with their clients. For more information visit https://www.integritywealth.co.uk
How Eskuta is revolutionising micro mobility Eskuta the largest eCargo brand in the UK, designs and makes electric vehicles and is creating a revolution in the world of last mile delivery and personal mobility. Vision and innovation are key components for Eskuta, collectively working towards the same goal of bringing freedom of motion to the masses. The pandemic has changed individuals’ habits and desires; what they want from their journeys has shifted. Eskuta offers an alternative mode of transportation that provides freedom, confidence, and reassurance which is cost effective, sustainable, and safe. Eskuta is committed to helping businesses and their employees reduce their carbon footprint with cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable delivery options. Currently Eskuta has an established partnership with Just Eat, effectively converting partners to optimise their delivery strategies with electric delivery bikes – essentially saving them money and time. Recently Eskuta has established a partnership with Just Eat’s courier company Scoober, alongside other partnerships with Dominos, Subway, Papa Johns, and Hermes.
Behind the scenes Eskuta is in expansion mode. The Eskuta family has grown and extended into new premises with space for future additions. The company has established retail relationships with brands including Very, Littlewoods, Amazon, Wiggle and notably Harrods and Selfridges. Nonetheless, distribution has been taken to the next level with international expansion, launching products across the USA, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and South Africa with the most recent addition being UAE where products are available in Toys R Us, Virgin Megastores and Grit and Tonic. The brand is rapidly growing and spearheading electrification in the UK and Internationally, but this is only the start in bringing the future of urban motion to the masses.
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Johnsons celebrates arrival of luxury traveller coaches
Funding secured for green hydrogen demonstration facility
other features such as USB charging points, free WiFi and free drinks on board. John Johnson, the firm’s commercial director said: “I’m delighted that after a year’s delay due the pandemic, at last we can take delivery of these fantastic new coaches. I know that our customers will love them; they take luxury coach travel to a whole new level. “The new coaches have the latest, technologically advanced, 13-litre diesel engines that are environmentally friendly, with only the same exhaust emissions as a modern family car! They will be seen regularly out and about as they spearhead Johnsons’ large and popular programme of holidays, short breaks and day excursions for customers throughout the Midlands and south Warwickshire.
For more information visit www.organicsgroup.com and https://waterinnovation.challenges.org/
Henley-in-Arden-based Johnsons Coaches, one of the Midlands’ largest and longest established coach and bus operators, is celebrating the long-awaited arrival of its two new luxury traveller coaches. The coaches will be used exclusively on Johnsons’ programme of luxury traveller
holidays by coach in the UK and, when the situation allows, overseas too. All hotels in the programme are four-star. The coaches are equipped with only 43 seats to provide spacious legroom and luxuriously comfortable reclining seats, all with calf supports as well as footrests. They are packed with many
Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales, has awarded funding to a demonstration project in the first Innovation in Water Challenge Competition. The £250,000 funding will contribute towards a demonstration facility using the Organics Group’s proprietary thermal ammonia recovery system. A first for the industry, the project will recover ammonia in wastewater and directly convert it into a green hydrogen fuel. Northumbrian Water will lead the work, partnering with the Organics Group, Anglian Water, Cranfield University, Warwick University and the Wood Group. Dr Robert Eden, managing director of Organics Group, said: “We are delighted to be part of the winning Northumbrian Water team. This project builds constructively
on 25 years of extensive experience that Organics has with ammonia recovery systems. “The technology is designed to provide water companies with a cost-effective alternative to conventional denitrification systems and will generate opportunities, not only for green fuel revenues, but also for enhanced decarbonisation of the water sector.” Run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, and supported by Arup and Isle Utilities, the Innovation in Water Challenge was the first competition this year under Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund aims to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.
A first for MGTS!
An educational charity that first began operating in Coventry in 1965 has taken the decision to offer a well-structured HND in engineering from September 2021. MGTS has taken this step on the back of the introduction of a successful HNC programme which attracted record numbers in September 2020. This initiative is the next step in developing MGTS’ further and higher education capability which currently supports around 300 learners. This level of qualification is designed to meet growing demand for engineers with modern skill sets and workrelated and technical knowledge that encompasses the engineering functions of design, manufacture and maintenance. It follows on directly from the HNC programme.
Those who enrol on the programme will develop their understanding of engineering principles and further mathematics to enable them to solve complex engineering problems. In addition, they will enhance their ability to manage and carry out professional and research projects. Other areas of learning will enable students to contribute to aspects of lean manufacturing as well as the importance of sustainability in modern engineering environments. MGTS’ head office on Gulson Road is now home to more than 100 new engineering apprentices each year, as well as training delegates undertaking a wide range of technical courses and skills assessments.
Find out more about the new HND in engineering at: https://www.mgts.co.uk/news-and-events/you-can-now-studyfor-a-hnd-in-engineering-at-mgts/ www.cw-chamber.co.uk
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Later living rediscovered
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The ExtraCare Charitable Trust
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Retirement living: There’s a
lot more to life in a retirement village By Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at The ExtraCare Charitable Trust
arlier this year, law firm, Shakespeare Martineau published a white paper titled ‘How we can make retirement housing aspirational and not a sign of a crisis.’ The report highlighted the significant gap between public perception of the retirement housing sector and the reality.
It showed a lack of awareness of the benefits to residents and poor understanding of the facilities, services, and activities that retirement communities commonly offer. We believe it is these misconceptions that prevent some people from considering an ExtraCare village as a positive and viable housing option. The benefits of living in a retirement village are, to us, obvious. But it seems the positives are still relatively unknown to a large proportion of the population. This isn’t the case outside of the UK. If you look to New Zealand, moving to a retirement community is an expected stage of later life. The difference is that here, the idea of a retirement village is too often synonymous with an ‘old people’s home’ or ‘care home.’ Over there, they are seen as vibrant communities, where older people with passion and purpose come together with trailblazing spirit to rediscover passions, learn new skills, and embrace connections with like-minded people. It is true that care homes and retirement communities have some commonality – they are both designed for those who are older – otherwise, they are starkly different. Residents in a care home generally have their own room, share communal areas, and have varying levels of care needs – some around the clock. By marked contrast, retirement villages promote independent living for as long as possible. Residents who move into our newly opened Earlsdon Park extension in Coventry and Solihull village in Shirley, will have their www.cw-chamber.co.uk
own apartments and can utilise the onsite facilities as they wish – these include a bistro and bar, hobby room, spas and salon, and gym to name a few. All this, while no longer having to worry about the upkeep of their own home, that may no longer be fit for purpose, as the maintenance of the village and apartments is taken care of. So how do we get the message across? How do we enlighten our older people and get them to view retirement villages in the same way that the older generation in New Zealand do? How do we show that living within a retirement community is something to aspire to? We start by highlighting the benefits and we continue to shout about them for as long we can.
“Residents in a care home generally have their own room, share communal areas, and have varying levels of care needs – some around the clock. By marked contrast, retirement villages promote independent living for as long as possible.”
Perhaps there’s a lot about ExtraCare’s offering that you don’t know? So, let me provide a quick overview of what we have to offer.
3 Facilities – Our villages are not only
located with great facilities on your doorstep, but they have a host of facilities onsite including bar and bistro, gym, hairdressers, hobby rooms – woodwork and craft, IT suite, library and village hall.
3 Services – Our award-winning care
services include exceptional care for those who need it, including assisted living support, well-being and dementia care.
3 Activities – We want our residents to
carry on enjoying healthy and independent lifestyles, so we provide opportunities to learn new skills, challenge themselves, or relax and socialise with friends through an exciting timetable of activities including Thai chi, arts and crafts and seated yoga.
3 Community – Our communities are
diverse and inclusive, and made up of fun-loving older people who have a zest for life, alongside 2,300 active volunteers that represent all age groups.
If this wasn’t enough, we know that the ‘ExtraCare’ way of living has resounding health benefits for our residents and cost saving implications for the NHS. All of which was demonstrated in our research studies with Aston and Lancaster Universities. The full results can be found on our website but in essence, our residents are never or hardly ever lonely (87), have a reduction in anxiety symptoms (23%) and depressive symptoms (15%), exercise more (increase of 75%), and have improved autobiographical memory (24%) and memory recall (17%). The disparity between the perceived idea of retirement village living and the reality of life within one of our communities is not new and neither is it going away. So, we’ll continue to bang the drum and invest our time in changing the perceptions of those who are yet to discover that moving to a retirement village is about a new and pioneering way of living.
CCS acquires MPS business from Maintel Europe Print solutions provider, Corona Corporate Solutions (CCS), has acquired the managed print services (MPS) arm of Maintel Europe. The acquisition sees the entire MPS division of Maintel Europe, which consists of its staff, around 2,000 MIF (Machines in Field) and circa 700 customers being absorbed into CCS. The Maintel MPS division acquisition will bring further scale and geographical reach for CCS alongside opportunities for further growth.
Peer Networks programme expanded A successful programme that has been helping to develop a new generation of professionals in Coventry and Warwickshire has been expanded to offer peer-to-peer support to experienced business leaders across the region. The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce was one of the delivery partners for the Peer Networks programme, which is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and managed regionally by the CWLEP Growth Hub. After achieving great success, the Chamber is now opening up the programme to business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire with two new cohorts, the first covering all sectors and the second focused on business owners in the professional services sector. The sessions are led by the participants, with support from a facilitator, giving them a space to
“This is a really exciting addition to the CCS family and our first as we emerge from the COVID crisis. We are also opening a new Blackburn office to support this new business and establish a hub in the North West.” CCS is a digital print solution specialised business telecoms provider. The company offers a consolidated product and service portfolio from Konica Minolta, Ricoh and Canon to name a few partners, which focus on helping organisations to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs. Maintel is a trusted provider of cloud and managed communications services. It helps customers in the public and private sectors improve their business through digital transformation. Founded in 1991, Maintel became a public company on the London AIM market in 2004 and has grown organically and through strategic acquisition. Based from five UK office locations, the company serves customers globally through direct relationships and via a network of strategic partners. For more information, visit www.coronacs.com and www.maintel.co.uk
Harry Hanson, a surveyor at Holt Commercial in Coventry, was one of the members of the first cohort of Peer Networks delivered by the Chamber. He joined the firm seven months ago and says the sessions have given a boost to his professional development and equipped him with key networking skills. Harry said: “The sessions gave me a great confidence boost and provided a space for us to discuss issues in our careers. I can definitely see how this could be of benefit for business owners, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic.” Keely Hancox, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Having a Peer Network, and a trusted network of fellow business
Keely Hancox, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
leaders is invaluable. Evidence has shown that working in this way can really help productivity and business growth.” For more information visit https://cw-chamber.co.uk/businesssupport/peer-networks/
Health Matters (UK) expands workforce
Andy Moffitt, CCS CEO, said:
provider in the UK and a highly
explore, discuss and solve challenges. The idea is to encourage participants to collaborate, work through common business issues and strengthen the performance of their business.
Health Matters (UK), a Coventry-based employee benefits insurance broker, is expanding its workforce with a new employee benefits consultant and an account manager. There are also plans to further add new staff to the sales and account manager team. Lea Connolly has joined the sales team after a successful career at the health insurer, BUPA, and his remit is to talk to
companies about Health Matters and how they can make the most of their existing employee benefit packages or options to create a sustainable offering for their staff. Jess Redpath has joined the busy account management team. Jess has a background in private medical insurance with AXA Health as she worked in the company’s client retention team. Recently she worked in the admissions department at De Montfort University. Jess’ role will be to look after Health Matters’ existing clients and ensure that the right advice and recommendations are provided at renewal and throughout the year. Health Matters has also had several internal promotions to create the framework for the future growth of the company. Emma Clay has been promoted to the role of business development manager to help define
and develop a growth strategy with the senior management team. Emma was an employee benefits consultant but her drive and knowledge has meant that she has opened up this new chapter in her Health Matters career. Nicky Corrigan has also been promoted to account management team co-ordinator. Nicky will provide valuable support to account managers by providing help and advice to the team. Nicky was an account manager but her understanding of the processes and the ongoing development of the team meant she has proved herself ideal for the role. James Henson, managing director, said: “The addition of Lea and Jess is really positive as it is going to help the company keep up the high standards that our clients and partners expect. They have both got the right attitude and experience that we need to drive the business forward.”
Stadium pulls off logistical coup An event management specialist has pulled off one of its biggest ever logistical operations to take City of Culture to the people of Coventry. Stadium, which is based in the city, was hired to create the traffic management plan for Coventry Moves, the signature event of UK City of Culture, and deploy staff to fulfil the plan. That involved more than 100 Stadium staff allowing a series of processions to move through streets right across the city – closing over 400 roads as they went. The three cavalcades featured a range of cars from the 1960s, dancers, musicians, a collection of bicycles and even 14 modern-day Lady Godivas on horseback. Scott Metcalfe, managing director of Stadium, said: “We were very proud to be appointed as the event was such a
major landmark for the city of Coventry at the start of what promises to be a fantastic 12 months. “That said, closing 400 roads over a 12-hour period – 33 every hour – making sure that everything was safe, especially with COVID restrictions in place, but also allowing people to join in and celebrate was a huge logistical exercise. “It involved massive planning from the City of Culture events team and we worked hand in hand with them over the last few weeks and months. We had more than 100 staff involved on the day and it all went very well.” Hector Macpherson Brown, head of event operations at City of Culture, said: “It is always great to work with local suppliers, and to have a firm such as Stadium in the city was an added bonus. They were magnificent on the day.
“There was a very careful balance to strike in developing an event that was deliverable in a time of COVID restrictions and continually evolving planning to meet the ever-changing landscape.”
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Promising economic signs despite GDP drop Former Secretary of State backs the region A former Secretary of State for Business has backed firms in Coventry and Warwickshire to bounce back strongly from the economic impact of coronavirus. MP Greg Clark told a Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce #PolicyHour video call that the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will present opportunities for growth in the region. Asked about the impact of Covid-19, Mr Clark said the recovery from the pandemic would accelerate plans to upgrade transport and communications infrastructure, as well as boosting a competitive business environment. “Covid is not going to completely change some of the forces that were present before the pandemic struck,” Mr Clark added. “What I think it is actually going to do is accelerate some of them, for example with the development of vaccines. “It seems to me that we are going to see an acceleration of trends in a number of areas and I think that sense of acceleration is going to be very important. “Coventry and Warwickshire is certainly in a good position to bounce back and grow after the crisis.” The Tunbridge Wells MP answered questions on a range of topics from the easing of coronavirus restrictions to HS2. Mr Clark said that he has been “a strong supporter” of the HS2 railway project and that it would improve connectivity, including in Coventry and Birmingham. “It should have been done years ago,” he said, “but it will definitely bring benefits in the future.” Mr Clark also backed the government in taking a cautious approach to the easing of coronavirus restrictions, and said that decisions should be based on “data rather than dates”. Sean Rose, policy officer at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are grateful to Mr Clark for joining us at our #PolicyHour video call and answering questions on a wide range of topics. “As a Chamber, we are doing everything we can to support businesses in the recovery from the pandemic as the final Covid-19 restrictions are eased. “Members received a really useful insight on the opportunities which could arise from the pandemic recovery and some of the trends which could emerge.”
Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say there are “promising signs” despite the economy shrinking in the first quarter of the year. The latest GDP figures showed that the economy fell by 1.5 per cent in the first three months of 2021. However, the figures for March saw a rise of 2.1 per cent as lockdown restrictions began to ease. Sean Rose, policy officer at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The economy has, undoubtedly, been severely impacted over the past year and there is little surprise that it dipped again in the first quarter of the year because of the restrictions in place due to the lockdown. “As those have eased, we saw the economy start to rebound in March which shows promising signs and with further lifting in
restrictions taking place in line with the government roadmap, we’d anticipate further growth in the coming months. “What isn’t clear is just how quickly the economy can return to the level it was at before the pandemic hit and it is crucial that the government continues to nurture the recovery. “Businesses should contact the Chamber should they need any support to help them grow as restrictions lift further in the coming weeks.” Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “While the UK economy contracted in the first quarter, the downbeat headline figure masks a renewed momentum through the quarter from January’s drop in output to an exceptionally strong March outturn as lockdown measures started to ease.
Sean Rose, Policy Officer
“The first quarter decline should be followed by a robust rebound in the second quarter as the effects of the release of pent-up demand, as restrictions ease and the strong vaccine rollout continues, are fully felt. “However, with the longer-term economic damage caused by coronavirus likely to increasingly weigh on activity as government support winds down, the recovery may be slower than many, including the Bank of England, currently predict.”
Actions need to speak as loud as words, warns Chamber The Chamber has urged the Government to match rhetoric with action after a raft of business measures were announced in the Queen’s Speech. The Government included improved skills training, reform of the planning system, more housebuilding, boosted public transport and increased connectivity in the measures it plans to bring forward in the coming months. The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce said that all the policy areas were relevant to helping companies recover from the recession caused by Covid, but added that similar promises had been made before. Sean Rose, Policy Officer at the Chamber, said: “We welcome measures such as an increased focus on skills to match market needs, and reform of the planning system – but these and other areas have been at heart of Government announcements in the past and clearly have not had the desired impact.
“We are just really keen to see rhetoric matched with action because while businesses have shown great resilience and flexibility in the way they have handled the recent challenges, they need targeted, relevant and practical help as they continue to pull us out of the economic slump. “If these measures translate into that sort of assistance, then business will be able to recover quicker and in a more sustainable way and that is what we need to happen.” Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said: “Businesses will welcome the clear direction in today’s Queen’s Speech as the Government looks to boost the economy and place all parts of the UK on an equal footing. “As companies begin the slow process of rebuilding following the pandemic it is vital that they are given the support they need to kick start their recovery. “A strong focus on improving digital and technical skills that
match the needs of local business will be a key driver in making that happen. “Improving rail and bus services, maximising the national coverage of 5G mobile services and superfast broadband, while simplifying the planning system are important enablers to ensuring companies can rebuild and grow. “These are all challenges that have existed for a long time, and we are now at a critical juncture where they must be addressed. This opportunity cannot be wasted, and the Chamber network will have a laser focus to ensure the Government delivers on its promises. “It is disappointing that new employment legislation that could address the flexibility of working practices did not feature. The pandemic has changed the way we work forever, and employers need clear guidance on how to provide long-term flexible working arrangements that will make jobs more accessible for everyone.”
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Firms will be flexible about flexibility Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say there will be no “one size fits all” policy to flexible working after a new survey showed the vast majority of companies will maintain some degree of remote working beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
also factors in the need for workers to be in the workplace.
The British Chambers of Commerce surveyed more than 900 companies about how they have kept trading during the crisis and what plans they have for future working practices.
She said: “The survey has really highlighted the differing approach, and possibly uncertainty, around how the workplace will change once we are out of the other side of the pandemic.
Around 72 per cent of businesses said they expected to have at least one member of staff working remotely over the next year, while more than half of employees will have some home-working as part of their routine.
“Sector plays a huge part with only 54 per cent of business-toconsumer (B2C) companies able
However, the mental health of staff was cited by 55 per cent of companies as a barrier to remote working, while meeting customers and the necessity for staff to be present to operate equipment were
Louise Bennett, CEO of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the survey demonstrated that there was no “one size fits all” model.
to offer any sort of remote working options, whereas the figure is at 80 per cent for business-tobusiness firms (B2B). “It is clear that business has, in the main, flexed incredibly well to keep trading and that has taken varied forms, be it remote working or staggered hours and there is no question that will shape employment patterns going forward. “I suspect to what degree depends very much on how the economy bounces back in the next 12 months or so, and how staff settle back in the workplace.”
“The survey has really highlighted the differing approach, and possibly uncertainty, around how the workplace will change once we are out of the other side of the pandemic."
Coventry and Warwickshire is the place to be this summer Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say the region will be a major draw for visitors across the country as the economy reopens. Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, believes the city and the county are perfectly placed to attract tourists from all over the UK in the coming weeks and months. Louise said: “With more businesses now able to open after the lifting of further restrictions, Coventry and Warwickshire is the place to be this summer. “It’s great to see so many of our hospitality and leisure operators being able to return to doing what they best – being open, trading and serving customers.
“Our region always has so much to offer visitors and attracts people from all over the world. While it may take time for the global market to return, certainly we’d hope to see domestic tourists heading to the region.
“There is no denying that the past 14 months has been the most difficult period that businesses have
Tom Mongan, president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the end of the furlough scheme could see an uptick in unemployment but that some areas of the economy are desperate to recruit.
experienced – especially those in leisure, hospitality and tourism. “It is, of course, going to take time for businesses to begin to recover from the crisis and more support is going to be required as they turn from survival mode to, hopefully, beginning to grow again.”
“The Government has postponed the full lifting of restrictions for a further four weeks but hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés will need to attract more new recruits when the economy reopens fully.
visitors and attracts people from all over the world. While it may take time for the global market to return, certainly we’d hope to see domestic tourists
Unemployment dropped from 4.8 per cent to 4.7 per cent in the three months up to April as the economy was slowly starting to reopen.
“That said, I have been visiting businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire over the past couple of weeks and the feedback I am getting from the hospitality sector is that they need to recruit.
“Our region always has so much to offer
heading to the region."
The Chamber has welcomed a fall in unemployment – but say companies in some sectors of the economy are facing a recruitment headache.
He said: “Of course, we welcome the slight fall in unemployment but there is still a feeling that it is being slightly skewed by furlough and we’ll only really know the true hit once that scheme comes to an end.
“Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture is now underway and is really helping to put the region in the spotlight – attracting national media coverage and special visitors such as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall this week. “As restrictions lift further, we can expect to see more people heading to the city and the region to make the most of what City of Culture is going to offer – from live music to the Turner Prize.
Businesses facing recruitment issues as unemployment falls
“It’s a combination of Covid and Brexit that has led to the shortage. Some people have found new industries while the hospitality sector has been closed down while many EU workers have returned home. “So it’s absolutely vital now that this industry is supported in finding and training new staff to help them make the most of the full reopening of the economy when that happens in July.”
Nuneaton firm awash with success after support A specialist truck washing firm based in Nuneaton is creating four new jobs as it expands its operations. Truck Smart is expanding its services nationally to areas such as Heathrow and York, as well as broadening its offer in the Midlands. Founded by managing director Sam Neale in 2010, the firm was initially established as a car valeting service before progressing to cleaning trucks. Now, with the help of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, it has taken on two new staff and is creating another two jobs in the months ahead. The Chamber’s Accelerated Growth programme offers a range of support, including one-to-one coaching sessions, and helped the company win a grant of up to £25,000 towards the purchase of
new equipment. The project forms part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The funding boost has contributed to the company’s purchase of three new vans, which will hit the roads next week. Sam said the expansion has been made possible thanks to the help on offer from the Chamber programme, which included help and advice on website reviews, business planning and customer journeys. He said: “From being a small business mainly run by myself and a couple of other staff, we are now able to scale up, invest and create new jobs. We’ve doubled in size in a year, which has been a big achievement given the uncertainty of the past 12 months.
Sam Neale with Helena Bassett
“I genuinely feel blessed and proud to be able to offer people jobs now and grow the business.” Grant funding has allowed the firm to buy new vans and equipment to carry out new work and expand its fleet cleaning programme. The company now washes up to about 500 trucks per week. As well as offering services to family-run transport firms, it has also taken on work with larger companies such as Tesco and international courier DHL.
Military mentoring inspires British International profile for Coventry business Army officer A high-ranking officer in the British Army says mentoring in the military has “come on leaps and bounds” since she began her 15-year career. Major Samantha Lucas-Floyd was the latest online guest speaker for the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s 21in21 Women in Business Mentoring Programme. The programme, which launched in March, matched 21 mentors with 21 mentees across the region to offer one-to-one support including advice, guidance and inspiration to help women in business drive forward their ambitions, either within an existing business or with their own venture. Major Lucas-Floyd has risen through the ranks since joining the Royal Military Police as a soldier in 2006. This included a stint in the major incident room where she was part of the Iraq Historical Allegations Team. After successfully passing the Army Officer Selection Board, she attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2012 and was deployed on the last tour of Afghanistan, Op HERRICK 20. Major Lucas-Floyd is currently regimental administration officer (RAO) for the 159 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps based in the West Midlands. She supports recruitment and training of 18 to 43-year-olds for six regional squadron locations including Coventry. She said: “Strong leadership is when you encourage, motivate, inspire and challenge your team to produce their best work. “Good leadership is understanding your personnel and adapting to a situation. Leaders are defined by the situation they are in, rather than specific characteristics.” Major Lucas-Floyd recognises that she and her team can play an important role inspiring and mentoring junior female officers. She said: “Females recruit females. Networking events open recruitment from industry into the Army. I would have benefited hugely if I had a mentor. It wasn’t available when I joined. Now we have initiated a mentoring programme. They are fantastic! I am a massive advocate and have a couple of mentees myself. Mentoring is fundamental to ensuring a continued level of understanding.”
Nigel Andrews with Hardeep Sandhu
A Coventry-based classic motorcycle welding specialist, which has been trading for a matter of months, is already gaining international attention. Qualitig officially launched in September last year and has gone from strength to strength in that short period of time. After creating his own workshop at his home in Wyken and getting the business underway, Nigel Andrews is attracting global interest for specialist skills such
as aluminium tig welding, fabrication and repairs with commissions coming in from an array of other countries. Nigel received a range of help and advice to get his business underway from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Nigel said: “The reason I started the business was because I wanted to make a future for myself and my son, Harvey. Having spent my working life relying on others, this time I just wanted to make my own dreams a reality. “It has gone really, really well. We’ve had commissions from overseas from countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg, which is fantastic for the business. “I couldn’t have done any of it without the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber
of Commerce; they have been invaluable. Their advice and help was tailored to me and was just perfect – exactly what I needed.” Thanks to the Chamber’s assistance, Nigel has already diversified and added new services.
He had been offering one-to-one tuition before lockdown for people to learn new skills and has also been invited to give online talks to companies including the National Motorcycle Museum. Hardeep Sandhu, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great to see that in such a short space of time, Nigel has accomplished so much and is making the business such a success.” For more information visit https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/ business-support/business-start-up/ and www.qualitig.co.uk
CCS appoints new CEO Print solutions provider, Corona Corporate Solutions (CCS), has appointed a new chief executive officer (CEO) following the departure of James Stephens as founder and former CEO of the company with immediate effect. Andy Moffitt, has been appointed as the new CEO of the company. Prior to this, Andy led the business as a service director when he joined in August 2020.
Previously, he held the leadership and operational responsibility for more than 20 years at IT technology partner, Computacenter, before moving to CCS. Andy’s focus will be to continue to build the CCS brand, ensuring the business is growing with the ever-changing needs of its customers, both new and existing. This includes in part ensuring a smooth transition in current and future acquisitions and launching
new and innovative products and solutions to market. CCS was founded by James Stephens in 2007, when he was walking the streets of London looking for new businesses. More than a decade later, the company is now the largest independent managed print suppliers in the UK. The company has also grown by many acquisitions under James’ leadership, including Corporate ICT, a telecoms
Andy Moffitt, the new CEO of Corona Corporate Solutions
company, which is now part of the CCS portfolio. For more information, visit www.coronacs.com
Local babies get spa treatment thanks to new business Babies are being given the chance to get pampered and relax thanks to a business that has been launched by a Coventry mum. My Baby Spa is a new company that has been set up by Danielle Gibbs to offer spa sessions to parents and babies. Danielle has invested in new equipment and has now launched sessions as restrictions have eased. She was able to build her confidence and start the venture with the help and support of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Danielle said: “I had my baby at the start of lockdown last year and while I was on my maternity, I knew I was going to be made redundant so started thinking about this idea of a baby spa. “I wanted to make the baby spa a really relaxing space for parents and babies, as I appreciate and experienced myself that being a parent with a baby can be very tiring and cause anxieties, so I wanted to create an oasis of calm for mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers to bring their baby.
will use this knowledge of early years development within the sessions. During her maternity, Danielle took full advantage of the courses that the Chamber has to offer to prepare her for starting a new business, including those covering business planning, social media and marketing.
“I’ve had a lot of interest so far, with some sessions already fully booked.”
Hardeep Sandhu, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Danielle is a real success story by making the most of the time that she had and accessing everything she could from the Chamber and it has been a privilege to see Danielle’s confidence grow.”
Danielle has five years’ experience as a Key Stage 1 Primary school teacher and
For more information visit www.mybabyspa.co.uk
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
The Property Partners
Agile office solutions
key to helping staff back to work O
ffering flexible office space for companies adapting to hybrid working is essential to helping businesses and their employees ride successfully out of lockdown, according to a Coventry property business. Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce members The Property Partners, based on Siskin Drive, have offered serviced office facilities for more than 12 years, giving flexible terms to clients whose need for office space may go up or down. Now Zena Stuart, Centre Manager for The Property Partners, which also has office space in Southam, said office property solutions need to adapt further to properly cater for the “new normal” in the wake of the events of the last 18 months – offering more welcoming spaces with shared facilities and customisable support services, at any time of the day or week.
Zena said: “Being well-established offering serviced office facilities here at ‘number three’, we pride ourselves on accommodating very different client requirements, from small local businesses in a twoor-three person office, up to large corporates of 100-plus desks. “We still have customers here that have been with us from the very beginning. I think that is a testament to our friendly environment and personalised service. We are also able to accommodate their growth as the business builds. “To some extent, this puts us on the front foot in this new world, as we are used to flexing with a client’s needs. However, this is not enough going forward and we have to be even more agile. “There has been a surge in new startup firms during over the last 18 months who may now be seeking their first
office space so we are offering open discussion on what exactly may work for them in the first instance. “In addition, as established firms start to get workers back to the office, more flexible working weeks are commonplace and we have secure access 24/7 so clients can come and go as they need to.” The Property Partners offices already include integrated IT, furniture and customer service functions for those businesses that need it, but they are looking to be offer more services to clients, some of whom will be moving from larger offices to more flexible, bespoke solutions. “Some businesses will be looking to cut overheads and downsize their offices to facilitate a more fluid working arrangement,” added Zena. “We have to be offering more than just flexible office space. It is about creating an environment where people
feel comfortable. Seeing some of our existing clients return already, they tell us they are happy to be back having real social interaction with colleagues instead of on a Zoom calls. “We are working very hard to make the transition as easy as possible. We have onsite café and breakout areas, an outside rest area and can offer shared office space if that suits some enterprises. “With a variety of clients in the building, there’s always an opportunity for networking and using other client’s expertise to help you.” All rates, utilities, furniture and other costs are factored into one transparent monthly charge, with agreements from as little as six months, and the ability to flex space within that time frame. To discuss your business needs, call 024 7621 4400 or visit www.thepropertypartners.co.uk
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Area Focus: Coventry - Mid Warks - North Warks - South Warks - Rugby
Construction app to help builders track paperwork digitally Coventry BID joins forces with local creatives on branding project As the world begins to reopen again post-lockdown and preparations are in full swing for Coventry’s 2021 UK City of Culture year, the team at Coventry BID have been working hard behind the scenes to not only support all their fantastic businesses within the city, but to also refresh their branding and create a stylish and informative new website that will take them through 2021 and beyond. The work – incorporating logo and website – has been created in partnership with Coventry design business, Jade Brand Agency, incorporating beautiful blue hues that are synonymous with the city. It also has a nod toward Coventry’s history with the inclusion of Lady Godiva within the design. When it came to designing the website, the Coventry BID team were keen to retain the work in the city using homegrown creatives, so collaborated with Phoenix Creates, which is part of Coventry University’s student union. Trish Willetts, director at Coventry BID, said: “Now that we are entering a phase of rebuilding and regrowth for Coventry, it felt right to reinvest in our own imagery and website. We are blessed in Coventry to have some of the brightest and most creative design talents around, so it was clear to us that we wanted to refer to that homegrown talent in the rebranding exercise for Coventry BID. We are overjoyed with the work The Jade Studio and Phoenix Creates has done for us. “As part of the re-set, it felt like the right time update the features of the website to ensure the information available to all of our businesses is as up to date and accurate as possible. We’ve streamlined features and improved navigation so that businesses operators can get the facts or signposting they need fast, enabling them to carry on doing what they do best – running their businesses in our amazing city!” To see the new Coventry BID website, visit www.coventrybid.co.uk
A digital design company has worked alongside a Midlands construction business to create and launch a new app to help construction firms access and track key paperwork during busy projects. Under Construction – designed by Coventry-based Apps Plus (the App division of Image+) – enables construction firms of any size to easily store, track and fill out key forms relating to their safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) requirements. The app was refined by Apps Plus after Birmingham-based construction firm Gridlocked, which specialises in the installation of ceiling and partition systems in a wide variety of buildings, used it for several months. It is now ready for the wider market to download and use. Since using Under Construction, Gridlocked noticed a significant
improvement across all its SHEQ responsibilities, operations, performance and evidential record keeping. Craig Buglass at Gridlocked said: “An app like this for construction companies like us has been long overdue in our opinion. “Construction is still one of the most dangerous sectors of employment in this country, so we are always looking to improve on how we process, control and manage risks associated with our specific trade. “The Under Construction app comprehensively enhanced all of our safety, health and wellbeing, quality and environmental aspect requirements and was all wrapped up in a userfriendly way. It’s fast, reliable and a pleasure to use.” Alan Hartin, managing director at Image+, said: “Under Construction gives peace of mind to construction managers
that their SHEQ responsibilities are being taken care of. It also saves time and money by giving them an easy way to share key paperwork with their principal contractors at any time.” Anyone looking to download Under Construction can find it on the App Store or Google Play, with more information at www.underconstruction.co.uk
New home for Midlands weighing company
Midlands-based weighing specialist, Coventry Scale Company, has moved into a new business unit – doubling the size of its premises to meet growing demand for its services. The company, which supplies, maintains and calibrates commercial and industrial weighing equipment and develops bespoke weighing systems for automation and data processing,
has taken space in a new unit at Coventry Business Park. Complete with a larger workshop, additional office space, and a product demonstration and training room, the move gives the company added room to accommodate its growing team plus the capacity to take on more projects and calibration work. Tom Marren, managing director at Coventry Scale Company, said: “We are delighted with our move to a larger business unit. The new space is perfect for what we need to operate as a company and forms part of our growth plans for 2021 and beyond. “It also means that we now have an even better environment for our team to do what they do best – develop bespoke weighing solutions that can help our customers drive quality and improve operational efficiency. Weighing technology has advanced
so much in recent years that one size doesn’t fit all so it’s also great to have the room to invite our customers in and demonstrate new products and applications.” Coventry Scale Company has been based in Coventry for more than 40 years and has customers not only in the Midlands but also nationally, in Europe, East Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. The company works with a wide range of industries including food production, automotive, pharmaceutical, logistics, and motorsports. As part of the move, the company plans to recruit two additional roles over the coming months – a new role in the office team and another field service engineer. For more information visit www.coventryscale.co.uk
New Civic Living development offers sustainable living A new range of contemporary high-quality homes are the latest properties to become available to prospective homebuyers at Rugby’s newest neighbourhood. Earlier this year, master developer Urban&Civic launched the latest selection of two and three-bedroom homes to cater for the growing community of Houlton. With extensive outdoor space and views overlooking Normandy Hill, each home boasts stunning open-plan living alongside the latest cutting edge, energy-efficient technology – designed and built with modern lifestyle in mind. Integrated smart heating systems help to reduce environmental impact and halve the cost of heating bills compared to an average new-build home.
Every element of the design works together to protect the environment and surrounding wildlife. Each garden has a network of subtle passing points, forming a unique set of hedgehog highways. These allow the much-loved mammals to move freely across the site on their quest to find food. Galina Bardarska at Urban&Civic said: “We remain committed to creating communities and providing a wide range of high-quality homes for all prospective buyers. Right at the heart of Houlton, Civic Living provides a fantastic sustainable option – especially to those looking for contemporary, low-carbon homes. “We are proud to be a highly soughtafter development. We’re setting a new standard in the area for quality of life, extensive green spaces, community
facilities and amenities, as well as the unrivalled connectivity to key commuter routes that Rugby is known for. “Houlton is already home to more than 600 families and the newest addition means that even more homeowners will be able to enjoy the idyllic lifestyle that Houlton offers.” For more information visit www.civicliving.co.uk
Area Focus: Coventry - Mid Warks - North Warks - South Warks - Rugby
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Leamington games art degree receives major industry recognition accreditation, with the others all being universities or training schools. Royal Leamington Spa College, part of WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), is based in one of the UK’s hotspots for video game development – with a range of high-profile developers based in the area.
A games art degree course taught in the heart of ‘Silicon Spa’ has been accredited by the industry-led skills body for the screen industries. Royal Leamington Spa College’s foundation and bachelor degrees in games art have been awarded ScreenSkills Select accreditation. The college is one of only eight institutions in the country to have the ScreenSkills Games badge and is the only college to have received the
In 2019 more than 60% of students on the games art degree went straight into employment. In recent years students have been employed by companies including Playground Games, Excalibur Games, Exient and Pixel Toys. By receiving the ScreenSkills accreditation it provides a new link for students on the degree to BAFTA Games and an opportunity to apply for a BAFTA scholarship covering up to £12,000 of their course fees. Other benefits include employability training events, industry insight sessions, Royal Television Society Bursaries and priority booking to ScreenSkills entry level events.
It will also present opportunities to apply for Trainee Finder, a yearlong industry-funded scheme that places trainees in paid placements on productions that contribute to ScreenSkills skills funds. WCG was recently awarded Bachelor Degree Awarding Powers and will now be delivering a full three-year BA games art degree from Royal Leamington Spa College. Mike Acosta, subject leader foundation degree/BA games art at Royal Leamington Spa College, said: “It’s incredibly rewarding for our courses to be recognised in this way and the ScreenSkills accreditation will bring many benefits to our students. “Our courses are always popular and being based in Leamington and surrounded by some of the country’s top games studios is a huge benefit for us.” To find out more, visit www.wcg.ac.uk/study
Warwick business provides final piece of funding Exciting new playground equipment has been chosen by children at a Leamington primary school after the final piece of funding was secured from a property development company. The majority of the current wooden playground apparatus at Radford Semele C of E Primary School in School Lane, Radford Semele, has been removed because it was too costly to repair. Head teacher Katie Benson asked pupils for their views on the replacement equipment and the school council voted on a climbing frame which children from reception to year six could use alongside a fitness trail featuring a balance tube, horizontal bars and a metal slalom on safe surfacing.
The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) raised £10,000 and the same amount was allocated from the school budget which left a shortfall of £13,000. Anja Gill, co-chair of the PTA, approached Warwickbased AC Lloyd Homes, and the company was only too happy to donate the difference. Contractors will start to install the climbing frame and fitness trail in the summer holidays ready for when the pupils return in September. Katie Benson, head teacher at Radford Semele C of E Primary School, said: “We wanted equipment that was accessible for all ages but challenging for our older children to play on and improve their physical fitness
Wright Hassall lands major recognition
A well-known Midlands law firm has picked up national honours at a prestigious awards ceremony for its work within the probate sector. Leamington Spa-based Wright Hassall has been named Best Probate Law Firm for Central England at The UK Probate Research Awards 2021. The firm’s 12-strong private client team for probate impressed judges with its digital focus and agile response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicola Rawlings (PTA), Anja Gill (PTA), Alistair Clark (AC Lloyd Homes), pupils Freddie David (10), Jenson Godfrey (8) and Clemency Bond (9) with Radford Semele C of E Primary School head teacher Katie Benson
to make sure that they are active all the way through primary school play times. “The school wanted to create a modern fitness trail that was engaging and the donation from AC Lloyd to add to the funding already secured means we can do everything we wanted to do.”
Alistair Clark, managing director of AC Lloyd Homes, added: “We are currently working in Radford Semele at our The Cricketers development and when we were approached by the PTA, our board had no hesitation in agreeing to donate the £13,000 that was needed to complete the project.”
Leamington mayor goes electric
In 2020 Electric Zoo offered the Mayor of Leamington, Susan Rasmussen, the opportunity to use one of its e-bikes for her ceremonial duties around the town.
The mayor has been spotted cycling regularly through the community to demonstrate how we can all make a bigger effort to address the issue of poor air quality. She was happy to champion the e-bike as she is the chair of Clean Air for Leamington, a cross-party group of councillors and residents working to improve air quality in the town. Electric Zoo said: “The Mayor of Leamington is one of the biggest clean air ambassadors around the Warwickshire region. She regularly asks people to make small adjustments to their daily routines to make a big difference overall to the air we breathe and that’s why she jumped at the opportunity to use the e-bike without hesitation.
“The mayor has spent so much time cycling around on the Electric Zoo e-bike that she really didn’t want to have to hand the bike back to us. “It has been our pleasure to have been able to allow the mayor to experience a fully electric e-bike, helping her move about on her mayoral daily duties around Leamington and surrounding areas without putting much effort into pedalling. “We wish Susan all the best as she has unanimously been voted in for another 12 months as Mayor of Leamington. Keep pedalling the fight for clean air for the benefit of everyone!”
The firm’s probate team was working remotely and efficiently within 48 hours of the first lockdown, and swiftly introduced a new cutting-edge smartphone technology, Credas, that allowed staff members to verify a client’s identity remotely and securely, alongside conducting video meetings. The firm’s reaction to COVID-19 lockdowns helped to build on its existing digital commitments, such as storing the majority of files electronically, as well as using an online probate application system to speed up the probate process. Tracy Ashby, head of Wright Hassall’s private client team, said: “The past year has been an extremely busy one for our department. This award win is testament to the fantastic team work within the firm – from the IT support we have had to enable remote working and no disruption for our clients, through to my team’s sheer hard work in handling rising caseloads. “Winning an award is great, but to win one that a client has nominated us for is even better. I’d like to thank the national firm of genealogists that we work with for putting us forward for this award. “To be recognised by awards of this nature alongside other firms in the region underlines the fantastic reputation that we are forging for ourselves as we gear up for another busy year.”
Area Focus: Coventry - Mid Warks - North Warks - South Warks - Rugby
City of Culture offers Coventry extra boost Coventry’s exciting start as UK City of Culture can help encourage more people back to the city centre, according to business leaders. Representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce paid a visit to the city centre to find out how businesses have been faring since the most recent lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Kevin Johns, managing director of Prime Accountants
Embrace a golden opportunity to save!
There is no question that, for many people across the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in real financial difficulties. However, being forced to stay inside and not pay for daily commutes, meals out or impulse high-street buys has also helped a great number of people, whose incomes have survived, to bulk up their savings. It’s widely assumed those who have been able to tuck money away throughout the pandemic will spend a good portion of it in the coming months, as the economy seems poised for a comeback. However, Kevin Johns, managing director at Midlands accountancy firm Prime Accountants Group, which has offices in Solihull, Birmingham and Coventry, is urging people to evaluate and take stock of their relationship with money before it’s too late. He said: “The pandemic has turned some people into saving machines, many for the first time in their lives. While this is incredible, it comes with its own set of risks. “The past year has certainly highlighted how vulnerable many people are to financial shocks. So, it is extremely important they embrace what has been a golden opportunity to save and evaluate how they can continue on this trajectory for future events. “Put your spending habits into perspective and identify what your monthly income and outgoings are. Make it a habit to set aside a definite amount every month into a savings account – even if it’s a small amount, this can go a long way in helping you out on a rainy day. “If you’ve historically found sticking to a budget challenging, make use of free budgeting apps that can help you plan better. Transfer the money into a separate bank account so that it’s out of sight and you’re not tempted to spend it.” For more information visit www.primeaccountants.co.uk
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber, Hazel Pilling, membership manager, and Tim Squires, the vice chair of the Chamber’s Coventry branch, went along to Esquires Coffee, which is connected to Coventry Transport Museum.
Steven Prime, Tim Squires, Dan Bennett, Louise Bennett, Lyndsay Smith and Hazel Pilling
They met Esquires Coffee owner Steven Prime along with Dan Bennett and Lyndsay Smith, both of Coventry city centre Business Improvement District. After enjoying a coffee, they headed through Broadgate – which is awash with colourful flags and banners on the back of the launch of Coventry 2021 – before arriving at the new Coventry City of Culture retail outlet in Hertford Street. Tim said: “It was great to be back in the city centre, having a coffee at Esquires and then seeing some of the work that has helped to improve Coventry as a place to visit.
Tim Squires, Hazel Pilling and Louise Bennett
“There has been a huge spotlight placed on Coventry and with so much
media coverage around the launch of UK City of Culture it has really helped to raise the region’s profile. “It’s important for people to have confidence to return to businesses across the region and I am sure being UK City of Culture and all of the effort businesses have put into being safe and secure will help to do that.” Steven Prime said: “It was great to host the Chamber and for them to carry the message that we are open for business.” Lyndsay Smith, hospitality & retail sector support team leader at Coventry BID, added: “We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Chamber and chatting to them about how much has changed in the city over the last year.”
“It’s important for people to have confidence to return to businesses across the region and I am sure being UK City of Culture and all of the effort businesses have put into being safe and secure will help to do that.” Tim Squires, Louise Bennett and Hazel Pilling
Boosting trade and jobs in Stratford
Kevin Taylor, Hazel Pilling and Tom Mongan
Representatives from the Chamber paid a visit to Stratford in the hope of starting a chain reaction that boosts trade and jobs in the town. Tom Mongan, the president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, donned his ceremonial chain of office as he and membership manager Hazel Pilling met Stratfordupon-Avon Town Council mayor Kevin Taylor.
The trio discussed how the town has been faring as lockdown restrictions have eased over recent months and how the Chamber could support businesses in a range of ways to help them bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis. Tom and Hazel then visited The Arden Hotel where they met general manager Josefine Blomqvist to find out how it was trading in the current climate. Tom said: “The businesses we visited made us very welcome and it was great to see people out having food and drink and boosting business in Stratford, all in a very safe and secure environment. “Kevin is keen to do everything in his power to show that, even with some restrictions still in place, that the town is open for business and for companies to know that they can get support from the Chamber. “We then moved on to The Arden Hotel where we chatted to Josefine and heard how the business is doing. “Josefine highlighted a real need to recruit because so many people have left the hospitality industry.
This is a situation that we’ve heard from several members in the hospitality trade so we’d encourage people to take a look at the sector again if they are looking for a new career after lockdown. Josefine added: “If we can get the message out there that there are jobs available and, also, that we are open for business across the town it would be a major boost for the regional economy.”
Tom Mongan, Josefine Blomqvist and Hazel Pilling
Area Focus: Coventry - Mid Warks - North Warks - South Warks - Rugby
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
International contracts lead to expansion plans for security barrier maker
A Coventry-headquartered manufacturer of anti-terrorism bollards, barriers and crash-rated street furniture has announced an expansion of its workforce and operations on the back of two new international contracts. Safetyflex Barriers has won export contracts to protect government
buildings in South Korea and India with its award-winning Truckstopper range of bollards and barriers. As a result, it is increasing production at its manufacturing facility in Sheffield with a £300,000 investment in new machinery, as well as expanding its headquarters on Boston Place in Coventry by taking an additional 6,000sq ft of space. The company has also employed a new sales manager. Jeremy Tettmar has more than 25 years’ experience in the perimeter security sector, having previously worked for Cova Security Gates and most recently ATG Access. Safetyflex Barriers was established in 2010 and now has installed security schemes in more than a dozen countries in five continents Marcus Gerrard, director at Safetyflex Barriers, said: “South Korea and India are huge marketplaces with massive
potential for growth, so we’re delighted to have made a breakthrough there and to be showcasing our innovative and world-leading products in both countries. “Exports are a key area of growth for us and now account for over a third of our business, and we expect that to reach 50% as our global reputation gathers pace. “The past year has been incredibly busy, and throughout the course of the pandemic we have seen orders increase, so now seemed like the right moment to grow our facilities and our team as we strive to build on our track record of year-on-year growth. “We’re also starting to look ahead at the potential positive impact on the security sector as the UK government consults on new Protect Duty legislation that would require venue operators to consider and mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack.”
Hospice ‘passes go’ on new Coventry MONOPOLY board Six Coventry charities were sought to star on a new official version of MONOPOLY for Coventry – and The Myton Hospices has been announced as the first of them. The Myton Hospices will be immortalised on the board, on one of the game’s Community Chest spaces. The other five charities will be revealed at a later date. "A big congratulations to Coventry Myton Hospice and an even bigger thank you to everyone who sent in nominations," said George Shrimpton, custom games executive at Winning Moves UK, which is producing the game under licensing from Hasbro. Myton has three hospices in Coventry, Rugby and Warwick and the only Inpatient beds in Coventry
and Warwickshire. Last year, despite the challenges, they still supported 1,400 people and their families in their hospices. Ruth Freeman, CEO for The Myton Hospices, says: “We are delighted to be part of the new Coventry MONOPOLY game and want to thank everyone who nominated us. Our community is at the heart of our vital work, supporting people with life-limiting illnesses and their families, so to feature on one of the Community Chest spaces is very fitting.” In April it was announced that Coventry is getting its very own official MONOPOLY game, a generation on from the first time it ‘passed go’. At the time the public was invited to send in suggestions for local landmarks and charities to feature, with more than
30 showcased on the board including the six charities. Mr Shrimpton added: "We would like to formally thank each and every person who sent in nominations. We feel that charities getting to feature on all of the Community Chest spaces and some of the Community Chest cards is a great fit, bearing in mind the community aspect of these unique MONOPOLY features.”
Major update to Stratford local land charges will speed up process for buyers A major digital transformation project by HM Land Registry will see the time needed for local land charges (LLC) for properties in Stratford-Upon-Avon slashed to just seconds.
and creating cost savings. What does this mean for home buyers? Now found online, buyers and solicitors can purchase instant access to LLC search results for a standardised £15 fee.
Thia will mark a significant change for homebuyers and residential conveyancers operating in the area.
The search results reveal planning and building regulation information and records such as tree preservation orders that are already registered in Land Registry. The reduction in price of this search function saves money as well as time for house buyers.
Typically taking between two to six weeks, waiting for LLC searches takes up a significant proportion of the time needed to purchase a property and can see buyers finding out critical planning information or other restrictions that may alter their decision to proceed, weeks into the process. The new system digitises historic searches back to 1977, providing instant access for lawyers and the public – speeding up the process
What about for conveyancers? Tom Ansell, head of residential conveyancing at Stratford-Upon-Avonbased law firm Shakespeare Martineau, was involved in the initial focus groups that helped shape the product,
He said: “Instant access to local search information is a massive step forward in the UK property sector. Having access from the very start of instruction, whether that be for the buyer or seller, means that conveyancers can view the information from day one, pre-empting information requests from buyers and enabling solicitors on both sides to obtain upfront information about the property. “Planning information also has an impact on mortgage applications; having access to local and charges data at the decision in principle stage gives greater certainty to mortgage lenders and buyers. Full transparency also prevents the transaction from collapsing down the line, when sellers and buyers have already incurred costs.”
David McAtamney (left) with Mal Brannigan at the DW Stadium
Event security firm lands major deal with DW Stadium A premier event management specialist in the Midlands has added a major new client to its growing portfolio of top sporting venues. Coventry-based Stadium, which provides traffic management, security and event services as well as training for a range of organisations, has signed a three-year deal with Wigan Athletic and Phoenix 2021, which owns the DW Stadium in Wigan. The contract will see Stadium supply 170 staff for at least 40 home fixtures for Wigan Athletic FC and Wigan Warriors Rugby League FC as well as other public events at the stadium. The roles carried out by Stadium staff will include an operations manager, head stewards, corporate hospitality security staff and stewards, arena stewards and car park marshals. David McAtamney, owner and founder of Stadium, said: “The DW Stadium is one of the busiest in the country as it hosts major sports all year round so it is a really fantastic contract for us to win. “We will be providing staff at all levels to ensure that supporters of both Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic have a safe and enjoyable experience when they visit the DW Stadium. “We are recruiting on an ongoing basis as we have so many roles and functions throughout the year. As ever, all of our staff will be highly skilled and fully trained.” Stadium was formed in 2009 and provides traffic management, event services and training, as well as rental of security barriers, the hiring of stewards and SIA security staff for events. The firm supports events ranging from Olympic Games, to Premier League football matches, sell-out concerts and high-profile conferences. Mal Brannigan, chief executive of Wigan Athletic and Phoenix 2021, said: “We chose Stadium due to its outstanding track record in ensuring safe venues and occasions which can be enjoyed by supporters of all ages and across various sports.” All roles available on www.wearestadium.com/join-ourteam/
Smart Energy GB
manage their cashflow as they start to reopen Cash is king – how businesses can take control of their outgoings The impacts of the pandemic will be felt well into the future but for now, businesses are taking their first steps in gradually reopening. Coffee shops and cafes are welcoming customers inside, hairdressers and beauty salons are switching on the lights and workers are starting to return to the office. Despite these first steps, trading will continue to be difficult for some time, especially for small- and medium-sized firms. These are the ones who will have seen their cash flow significantly hit and are now looking for all the help they can in trying to budget and plan for the future.
How businesses can avoid spending more than they have to In these uncertain times, many businesses are looking for ways to save money and maintain a healthier bottom line.
The good news is that getting a smart meter for your business is a small change that could make a big difference. A smart meter can help businesses take control of their energy bills as they enable accurate, not estimated billing. Meaning, they only pay for what they use – helping to take the stress out of budgeting. We all want to work smarter not harder. Smart meters send your gas and electricity readings directly to your energy supplier so you don’t have to!
Manage your environmental footprint It is also important to bear in mind that it’s everyone’s responsibility to become more conscious of their environmental impact. Regardless if your business has three employees, or three thousand, we all should be aware of how much energy we’re using and a smart meter is a simple way of doing this. A smart meter is a positive step in taking control of business outgoings and if your firm has 10 employees or less your business could be eligible.
To find out more please speak to your Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. You can also contact your energy supplier or broker.
It could be one of the best calls you make this week. 36
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Connectivity Crucial to Recovery
igital connectivity was high on the Government’s agenda long before anyone had heard of Covid-19, but when the global pandemic struck, it only served to highlight the crucial need for world-leading digital connectivity across the UK. Leigh Hunt, Regional Partnership Director at CityFibre said: “Not only is digital connectivity underpinning economic and social inclusion, widespread home working and technology adoption today – it will drive the economic recovery going forward.” CityFibre, the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform, is continuing its £60m digital transformation in Coventry. Work to roll out full fibre started in the north of the city in 2018, moving into the centre last year and has now expanded to the west, including parts of Westwood, Earlsdon, Canley and Tile Hill. The work being undertaken will go a long way toward helping to achieve the Government’s vision for gigabit-capable connectivity to every home and business by 2025 and 5G to the majority of the UK by 2027. The vision is ambitious – and it is achievable – but only with a concerted effort.
Research* has found that slow internet connection speeds are a key barrier to industrial digital adoption, particularly amongst SMEs. And commercial building tenants deem good connectivity to be vital for business performance. In addition to improving the performance of lowproductivity businesses, digital connectivity plays a wider role in addressing societal issues such as cutting carbon emissions by reducing need to commute. Nation-wide gigabit-capable connectivity could allow 400,000 more people to work from home, giving greater flexibility over where they live. In 2020 the number of those working from home doubled, putting a huge strain on our legacy ‘copper’ infrastructure network as household members with competing priorities tried to educate themselves, work, stream, and game simultaneously. A year later, living with the new normal has meant that for many of us good quality digital connectivity is vitally important to ensure that we can go about our everyday lives - and that is where full fibre comes in. Full fibre broadband provides the highest level of connectivity, speed, near unlimited bandwidth and has much greater reliability, but it is currently available in less than 20% of homes nationally.
However, Coventry bucks that trend and by being one of CityFibre’s first gigabit-cities, the build is progressing well. Moving forward, the reliance on state-of-the-art connectivity is only going to increase and having this future-proof digital infrastructure will stand the city in great stead as it continues its evolution into a renowned digital hub with world-class connectivity, and the UK begins to tackle economic recovery during these unprecedented times.
To register your interest or check to see if you can connect to a full fibre network visit www.cityfibre.com/Covchamber *Made Smarter Review 2017 – led by Jurgen Maier
Stress free internet Enabled by CityFibre’s network From flexible homeworking, streaming the footy or using apps to help life run smoothly. Great connectivity can give us all a boost. That’s why we’re building a new full fibre network, which enables empowering technologies both now and for decades to come. Find out which broadband providers are available in your area.
The Heart of England
Miss England Finals coming to The Heart of England
The Heart of England Conference and Events Centre are thrilled to be welcoming and hosting the Miss England Finals this August. The final has been delayed more than once due to Covid but with August 27th announced as the new date, up to 45 Miss National finalists from all over the country will return to take to the catwalk in this prestigious event. The show will consist of a sumptuous gala dinner, catwalk contest and live entertainment. Virtual tickets are available now through Miss England email@example.com
The winner of Miss England will go forward to the 70th Miss World final in Puerto Rico South America later this year with the chance of winning $100,000 The Heart of England site and grounds were also host to the ‘Mr and Miss England SportsRound’ which was held last month which was enjoyed by all. Local student Kate Marie, 26, who is representing Coventry after winning a Virtual Wildcard heat on the Miss England App said: “I am really excited about the final of Miss England coming to my hometown of Coventry this year. “It’s going to be an incredible year for Coventry as we have been awarded the City of Culture 2021. “As we hold various events to celebrate our city, we will expect a major boost
in tourism. I think this makes it perfect timing to host the Miss England contest, which celebrates achievements from women across the whole country.” Kate is studying a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree at Harvard University Cambridge, and wants to get involved with International relations. When she graduates she wants to be a British Diplomat. Owner of The Heart of England Stephen Hammon, who recently met Miss England when she visited the venue, said he was really excited the venue was hosting the event.
“We’re dedicated and passionate about events and are pulling out all the stops to add that sprinkling of magic and extra ‘wow’ factor to an already incredible event.” Organiser Angie Beasley from Leicester said “We wanted a venue centrally located for our contestants to travel to with inhouse facilities such as stage sound and light. “Heart of England certainly fits the bill. “The contestants are raising funds for Beauty with a Purpose , a charity owned by Miss World which helps disadvantaged children ” The reigning Miss England – NHS Doctor Bhasha Mukherjee – has been the longest serving Miss England due to the pandemic. Bhasha, who visited the venue recently between working at Royal Derby Hospital, said “The Heart of England is an ideal location to host the final and it’s such a glamorous venue with the beautiful star cloth and lighting in the main room. “I’m so impressed with the spacious facilities; the girls will be easily able to socially distance backstage. “I’m looking forward to crowning my successor there in August if all goes to plan.”
For more information and ticket info visit www.missengland.info
Heart of England Conference and Events Centre is hosting a brand new festival for witches later this summer The family-friendly weekend event, organised by a local group of witches called the Coven of Gaia, will take place on September 18th and 19th, and is aimed at those with experience in witchcraft, as well as people who want to learn more. Set in Heart of England’s 80 acres of woodland, the weekend will offer a range of activities including basic and advanced witch workshops, spell work and divination, and night rituals. There will also be sessions aimed at those with a more general interest in spirituality, including tarot readings, runes, divination and meditation and yoga sessions. Ancient skills like wood whittling will be on display, along with entertainment from fire dancers and a Viking Village for children. Craft stalls will sell everything from spell supplies to crystals and clothing, and there will be options to buy food and drink for a full family day out. There is even the opportunity to camp if people want to make a weekend of it.
Pods, Garden Studios and Bars available and Glamping Facilities at The Heart of England During Covid, diversification was very much on top of the agenda for The Heart of England Conference & Events Centre. A firm favourite in the hospitality industry, not only were their conferences, events and weddings hit hard but also their restaurant and hotel and glamping offerings too.
Tickets are £15 per day or £30 for a weekend ticket. One child under 14 is free, with additional children charged at £5 per child. Camping is available but not included in ticket price. Tickets available from www.covenofgaia.co.uk/
They did not sit still though investing heavily in the design and build of new glamping pods, a dining pod, even an office pod and have added to their glamping facilities. You can book a stay right now in a choice of pods, shepherd huts, log cabin or hotel and mention when booking you want an added hot tub!
To book a stay, visit www.stayatheart.co.uk To view the pods and new garden studios visit www.heartpods.uk or call for more information on 01676 540333
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
The Heart of England
The Fillongley Show 2021 A Traditional Country Show comes to The Heart of England Conference & Events Centre for the first time this September! A great family day out at a traditional country show in Warwickshire. Livestock, crafts, competitions, rides, entertainment, horticultural, dog show etc. For 100 years the Fillongley Agricultural Society have entertained the farming community and general public with a show, but for the first time in living memory, the annual Fillongley Show will be held - in Fillongley! The Fillongley Agricultural Society are proud to announce the return of their traditional show with everything we have learned to love during the pandemic – the countryside, animals, great food, gardening, crafting, wildlife, family time, hobbies and good fun – all can be found at the 2021 Fillongley Show, as well as the usual beloved competitions. To be held this year in the amazing grounds of the Heart of England Events Centre on the Meriden Road in Fillongley, Warwickshire.
We are delighted to announce the return, by popular demand, of the exciting Scurry Driving! Who doesn’t want to watch galloping ponies with brave drivers racing around the course? The hilarious K9 Quackers Sheepdog and Duck Display will be there to entertain all ages with their special ‘duck-u-tainment’ and lots of fun for children and adults alike with the dog show (bring your dog and enter on the day!), brilliant craft tent where you can admire and buy a wide range of wonderful crafts directly from the makers, wide range of trade stands, vintage cars and tractors, heavy horses, panto horse racing, face painting, fancy dress, silver band and so much more! But it wouldn’t be the Fillongley Show without all the farm animals – livestock you can admire close up and then watch the spectacular winners parade in the ring - cattle, sheep and pigs and a display of poultry and guinea pigs in the fur and feather tent, as well as all the horse events for adults and children with showing classes and show jumping, fancy dress on horseback and the impressive heavy horses.
Why not enter your vegetables, flowers or cakes and jams in the horticultural classes, or your photographs, paintings or other crafts. Get the children to colour the picture in the schedule to win a prize, or make one of the models to compete. If you keep chickens, enter some eggs in the egg competition to win rosettes and cups – all details are on the website. It’s a great day out for all the family. www.fillongleyshow.org.uk Facebook - Fillongley Show Est’ 1919. Contact the Show Secretary for all information on 07928 231460 firstname.lastname@example.org
SATURDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER Heart of England Events Centre, Meriden Road, Fillongley, Warwickshire CV7 8DX
Ticket Prices Adults £10 • Children Under 5 years Free • Children 5 years to 16 years £3 • Family Ticket – 2 adults and up to 4 children £25 (extra tickets on the gate)
To get your tickets – visit: https://bit.ly/3yuqiiJ Free Parking
The Quicken Tree
Bar and Grill at The Heart of England
People have been flocking back to The Quicken Tree since lockdown lifted. The Quicken Tree at The Heart of England Conference & Events Centre, has been welcoming people back and bookings have been booming! The managing director of The Heart of England – Stephen Hammon said, “As a modern restaurant and bar with oodles of outdoor space both covered and
uncovered, everyone has been making full use of what we have to offer. We’re a firm favourite with locals and non-locals alike, I think that’s down to us having something different that very few others can offer. We have 160 acres of land, lakes and activities running for the kids and plenty of space to run around whilst parents can enjoy their food and drinks
out on the terraces overlooking the land whilst keeping an eye on their children. We’ve also recently added ‘The Posh Pod’ a very cool glassed pod that’s perfect for socially distanced private dining.” If you’d like to book a table please call 01676 543300. For more information visit www.quicken-tree.co.uk
Activities will be running throughout the summer holidays for the kids so keep an eye out on their facebook page for updates. www.facebook.com/quickentreerestaurant/
The SNOW MUST GO ON with Christmas Parties
Each year The Heart of England Conference & Events Centre are totally overwhelmed by compliments and positive feedback from the food, the entertainment, the staff to the games marquee. They work very hard to deliver The Best Christmas Party Ever! This year they’re thrilled to bring to you 'THE SNOW MUST GO ON' A choreographed Queen-themed cabaret spectacular starring undoubtedly the greatest front man of them all - Freddie Mercury. One of the greatest Rock bands of all time, their extraordinary appeal owed much to the boundless charisma of their incredible vocalist. We aim to capture the Majesty of his performance in our unique tribute.
With their spectacularly Christmas themed party room, the amazing venue provides the ultimate setting for a party, with spectacular lighting, video projection, theming and separate games marquee packed full of entertainment. A welcome drink is waiting for you as you arrive for your party. Your host Stephen Hammon will then invite you to sit and enjoy your beautifully prepared three course festive feast. The wonderfully talented team of performers will entertain you with a special cabaret performance set to some of your favourite Queen songs; featuring dance, acrobatics, fire, climbing high into the air and spinning across the stage in a wheel of steel. But that's not all, so 'Don't Stop Me Now' because after dinner, if you 'Want To Break Free'... The Games Marquee opens. The Marquee is packed full of games, amusements, entertainment and photo opportunities. There is a Fun Casino with Blackjack and Roulette tables, Rocking Rudolph, Sumo Santas, Snowboard Simulator, Virtual Reality Downhill Skiing, Giant Games and much much more and to top it all off... The Waltzers! With it's own bar, the Games Marquee is the place to be for those who want to have fun.
Meanwhile, back in the main room, 'It's A Kind Of Magic' it's where the party people strut their stuff. The resident DJ will entice you to the dancefloor with a brilliant selection of music, spectacular lighting and lasers. You can bust your moves until the early hours. They’re 'Under Pressure' to top the last Christmas Parties but as they said: “We Are The Champions' of the Christmas Party Scene - You'll be going Ga-Ga as we recreate the 'Kind Of Magic' that Queen were famous for - with a little extra besides to Rock You. Freddie may no longer be with us but.... THE SNOW MUST GO ON”
HOW TO BOOK Visit our website www.christmasattheheart.co.uk Book tickets by calling 01676 540333 £20 per person deposit is required at the time of booking with the remaining balance due 4 weeks before the date of your event. Group bookings must be made in one go to ensure you are seated together. Please send any drinks preorders 4 weeks in advance of the event. Christmas Parties are subject to change in line with Government Covid Guidelines.
ROAD 2 HELL The live action Horror Drive Experience at The Heart of England Coventry, wins a prestigious Industry Award making them officially, the best drive thru scare experience in the country! Following on from the enormous success of last year’s event, it’s the announcement all horror fans have been waiting for: the award winning ROAD 2 HELL returns this October with another dose of gruesomely good fun! And after scooping one of the top Scare Industry awards, it’s now also officially the best drive thru scare experience in the country! Heart of England Conference and Events Centre have again teamed up with Masters of Horror AREA 51 to bring you what is now recognised as the biggest, baddest and best interactive drive thru horror show in the UK. The team said “You’ve heard the rumours – maybe you escaped with your sanity intact last year? Whatever the case, we dare you to take a drive into our Forbidden Forest… and find out what horrors its Evil inhabitant s have in store for you in 2021. In 2020 we nailed it; catering for over 25K visitors across 30 nights of Horror – even the Pandemic couldn’t stop us in our tracks. Split in half by a sudden lockdown, we came back with a devilishly good Christmas Twist. We can already report demonic howling in the night and the sound of splintering trees as the creatures of the night once again draw their plans against you, and begin to set their traps accordingly.” Heart of England Horror shot straight to the top of everyone’s Halloween event lists, attracting hundreds of 5 star ratings from punters and reviewers alike. The experience was so well received, it was nominated in multiple categories in this year’s prestigious Scare Awards – the SCARs - battling it out amongst the likes of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Tulley's Shocktoberfest A fully immersive 1.5 mile, 20 minute journey takes you deep into lost woodlands, encountering multiple blood chilling scenarios along the way – the hideous monsters that haunt this evil place will be your pursuers. We do hope you’ll be safe inside your cars.. time will only tell. If you follow the map and make it out alive then you’ll have one heck of a horror story to tell! It’s all terrifyingly good in-car entertainment; a fully fleshed festival of fear set in the dark Heart of England, just 10 minutes from Birmingham International Airport… Dare you drive the ROAD 2 HELL?
Tickets available through www.roadtohell.co.uk The event was a total sell out last year so make sure you get in quickly!
The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth
Receive online and face-to-face workshops (depending on Coronavirus restrictions), one-to-one mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and support with producing your own action plan for business growth as part of the programme.
APPLICATIONS OPEN Take control of your company’s future with free support from Aston Business School’s industryleading academics and experienced business mentors as part of the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth.
Past participants of the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth consistently increase business turnover, take on new employees and expand their companies into new exciting markets – in some cases even during the pandemic! By joining the programme, you become part of the Aston Business School network and will benefit from a range of resources to help your business continue to reach new heights long after completing the programme. Eligible businesses must have a minimum of 12 months’ trading experience, be operational in Greater Birmingham and Solihull or Coventry and Warwickshire LEP areas, have one registered full-time employee (this can be yourself) and the ambition to fully commit to the programme schedule.
Limited spaces available – apply online today:
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Education and Training
Horticulture college and National Trust develop next generation of gardeners A renowned horticulture college has joined forces with the National Trust to develop the next generation of gardeners for its properties. Pershore College, part of WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), is the new gardening apprenticeship provider for the charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England. It is recruiting nine new apprentices to work in the gardens of properties managed by the National Trust across the UK and Ireland. Apprenticeships are available at properties including Acorn Bank in Penrith, Baddesley Clinton in Warwick & Packwood (one role across both sites) in Solihull, Calke Abbey in Derby, Cliveden
in Maidenhead, Lyme Park in Stockport, Mottisfont in Romsey, Wentworth Castle in South Yorkshire, Rowallane Garden in County Down and Dyffryn in the Vale of Glamorgan. Apprentices will be joining the garden teams at the properties and will play a key role in keeping the historic gardens in fantastic condition for the public to enjoy. Since reintroducing its apprenticeship scheme in 2017, the National Trust has grown from having eight apprentices to more than 100 across the organisation. These two-year apprenticeships will include six block weeks of studying at Pershore College, which is one of the few regional hubs of the Royal Horticulture Society. Subjects studied will include business, plant
identification and vegetation control. Caroline Noon, National Trust apprenticeship manager, said: “We are excited to be launching these roles across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and looking to build and expand on our already successful apprenticeship development programme. “These apprenticeships create a key entry route into this exciting area of our conservation work.” Matt Handy, industrial training manager for horticulture at Pershore College, added: “It’s exciting to be teaming up with a renowned organisation like the National Trust to support the development of the gardeners of the future.”
To find out more, visit www.wcg.ac.uk/nationaltrust
College offers City of Culture legacy courses A centre of musical excellence could be created in the heart of Coventry thanks to one of several new exciting courses at a city college. Coventry College is launching four new courses in music, e-sports, dance and musical theatre, and adult fashion. The new subjects are being offered as legacy courses to Coventry’s status as the UK City of Culture 2021, serving young people in the area. Laura Johnson, curriculum manager at the college, said the new course in music would offer opportunities for young people in the city. “The reinstatement of a music qualification is really exciting and an area we hope will continue to grow over the next few years,” she said. “Coventry has always produced fantastic musicians and
we are hoping to continue that as a result of offering these courses for students. “We hope to collaborate with lots of local musicians and create a centre of musical excellence in the heart of the city.” The college will also be one of the first in the country to offer a new e-sports BTEC qualification. It is being launched following the success of the college’s e-sports team – Coventry Crosshairs – who have competed nationally. A new combined qualification in dance and musical theatre has also been created, offering students the chance to develop a range of skills to become multi-skilled performers. The college will also be offering a fashion course specifically for adult learners for the first time, providing an opportunity for people wanting to retrain or upskill in the
industry. The course will include a mix of face-to-face learning and online blended teaching. Laura added: “It is key that the college can flex its offer to meet the needs of students and ensure that the city and its employers has the skills base to meet the needs of emerging industries.”
For more details visit www.coventrycollege.ac.uk
ADAO delivers recruitment platform for TalentEdu TalentEdu approached ADAO to create a website with a goal of being the best-in-class higher education recruitment platform. The platform would have a dual purpose of offering headhunting services in the world of higher education, alongside a job posting board where potential candidates can apply themselves. ADAO was also tasked with providing a logo refresh alongside business collateral for its client. After several successful years recruiting within higher education as part of another company, TalentEdu had recently decided to make it on his own – and the website was an integral part in the early business growth plan. With TalentEdu’s expertise in this sector and an already strong web presence, there is plenty of potential for the site to become a one-stop hub for universities to place vacant positions on the jobs portal – which in turn could boost the likelihood of stronger candidates applying for roles through the site. David Ohandjanian, founder of ADAO, said: “TalentEdu were a pleasure to work with; they trusted our awardwinning agency from the outset of the project to create a fitting brand, web presence and marketing campaign. They clearly understood the need to create a solid and professional foundation for the new business at the outset. It’s been incredible to see the company grow from strength to strength in recent months.” Mark Holleran, managing director at TalentEdu, said: “I came to ADAO at the formation of TalentEdu and the team did a great job in delivering a fantastic website and working with me to develop the brand. Our work with ADAO has enabled us to provide a great service to our clients through our campaign websites and the feedback from the higher education sector has been really positive.”
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
Education and Training
New incentive scheme for T Levels placements “WCG will be among the first to introduce the new technical qualifications, which are aimed at learners aged 16 to 18 years, offering the Level 3 Digital Support Services T Level at its Royal Leamington Spa College site from September.” WCG is urging employers to take advantage of the new government incentive to help provide young people with invaluable workplace experience. WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) will be delivering T Levels from September and the Government has announced that businesses which support the qualifications with industry placement opportunities will be able to claim a £1,000 cash boost. It has been announced that employers will be entitled to £1,000 per placement offered – of which students must complete a minimum of 315 hours, equivalent to 45 days, over two years to pass their T Level.
T Levels are part of the Government’s flagship reforms to technical education in England and are equivalent to three A Levels. The qualifications are based on employer-designed standards and will have a focus on gaining workplace experience to help students be employment-ready. WCG will be among the first to introduce the new technical qualifications, which are aimed at learners aged 16 to 18 years, offering the Level 3 Digital Support Services T Level at its Royal Leamington Spa College site from September. The college is seeking employers in the digital sector to offer placements in areas including desktop support, infrastructure engineering, desktop engineering
support, helpdesk, networking and infrastructure security. Debbie Parkes, Industry Placement Manager at WCG, said: “The incentive fund is designed to offer support to employers impacted by the pandemic, to ensure they can continue to host placements. Employers will be able to claim for up to 20 students for Digital Support Services at WCG from 27 May 2021 until July 2022. “We believe T Levels offer local businesses an excellent chance to nurture and build a skilled talent pipeline for the future.”
To find out more about T Levels, contact the WCG Business Development team: E: email@example.com T: 0330 135 6940 W: wcg.ac.uk/tlevelemployers
Employers invited to Trident Tuesday Tours Employers are being invited to a series of behind-the-scenes tours at a leading regional engineering college to discover how apprenticeships could benefit their business. Warwick Trident College, part of WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), is hosting exclusive tours for employers of its industry-leading engineering and motor vehicle training facilities every Tuesday morning, for the foreseeable future. The Trident Tuesday Tours will run from 8am to 10am and aim to encourage more businesses to consider apprenticeships ultimately helping the region and country to meet the skills gap in the engineering industry. Warwick Trident College provides stateof-the-art engineering and motor vehicle workshops and laboratories. This includes an advanced machinery centre and robotic facility, comprehensive vehicle engineering facilities, vehicle diagnostic equipment and a range of premium training vehicles. WCG already has successful apprenticeship programmes in place with Jaguar Land Rover, BT Fleet, Cummins Engines, Greenmech, Downhurst Engineering and many more employers, ranging from major corporations to small businesses. Alan May, Director of Engineering Apprenticeships at Warwick Trident College, said: “Apprentices can be invaluable to any organisation and that is truer than ever before in the post-pandemic world – especially in engineering where the industry is constantly facing a skills shortage. “Recent announcements from Government have shown the national commitment to bringing through skilled individuals to work in key industries, and we’re committed to supporting that in the Midlands where engineering is a crucial sector. “Any employers joining us for one of our new Tuesday tours will be able to quiz our experts on how apprentices can make a difference to a business and how to fund staff development through the apprenticeship route.” To book a space onto a Trident Tuesday Tour contact Sian Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wcg.ac.uk/tridenttuesdays for further information.
President & People
Corrine celebrates 15 years’ service at Alsters Kelley
The feel good factor At time of writing, I have just witnessed something that I had last seen back in 1966 when I was just a young lad. In the unlikely case you have no idea what I’m talking about, England have just beaten Germany at football 2-0 in the Euros at Wembley. What an incredible uplift it seems to have given a lot of people and I hope it continues all the way to the final, as the country needs something to feel good about. I also hope the feel-good factor continues way past the football finale with the Prime Minister finally opening everything up come July 19. In my personal opinion, we need to get going, we need to try and get back to some form of normality if only to repair the damage the pandemic has created to all types of businesses during the past 16 months. We also need to get going to stabilise the economy and more importantly people’s wellbeing. One thing is for certain, we cannot continue repeating the same cycle of events we have all endured since March 2020. What is interesting though, in talking to businesses involved in hospitality, is the number of vacancies waiting to be filled. They are desperate for staff and it has the potential to seriously hamper their ability to operate as we open up even further. They are not alone in potentially having the return to normality derailed, as there are also issues within manufacturing and construction with material shortages and price increases, with some items rising by an eye watering 125 per cent. Of course, other businesses continue to suffer and the government needs to keep a close eye on how things develop, and target help to those that need it most; especially those businesses that were functioning successfully pre-pandemic. Whether all of this is a result of the pandemic or Brexit is a matter for debate, or possibly as I believe, a mixture of both. Only history will determine how our politicians handled this pandemic, history will judge whether their actions were a success, an abject failure or something in-between. However, for now and going forward let us hope we will not have to endure any further lockdowns. Finally, as President of the Chamber, I want to offer my congratulations to the City of Culture team for their Coventry Moves Signature Event, it was an outstanding success and they have some great events lined up throughout the summer and beyond. There will be something to enthrall most everyone no matter what age, so join in and enjoy. Best regards Tom Mongan
Corrine Seabourne, a chartered legal executive at Alsters Kelley Solicitors, has plenty to smile about as she celebrates 15 years’ service with the firm. Corrine who works within the private client department, first joined the firm in 2006. She specialises in helping clients with wills and lasting powers of attorney, Court of Protection work and the administering of estates. Based in the Southam and the newly acquired Stratford-upon-Avon office, Corrine regularly represents the firm at external events and participates in charitable will schemes that the department becomes involved with.
Commenting on her work anniversary, she said: “I thoroughly enjoy my role and career here at Alsters Kelley and the variety of work I get involved with. Most importantly, I love the face-to-face contact with our clients and ensuring we provide them with a very personal and high level of service. I also have many friends across the five offices; it’s definitely a great place to work and it certainly doesn’t feel as if I’ve been here for 15 years!” Neil Raiseborough, director and head of private client department who presented Corrine with gifts on behalf of the firm, said: “Corrine is the ultimate professional and as
such a very valued member of the firm. We really appreciate her loyalty and commitment to the firm and to her clients. We were thrilled to be able to recognise this milestone in her career.”
Chris celebrates anniversary with promotion A property professional at a Coventry-based commercial agency has celebrated three years with the company by being promoted. Chris Hobday joined Holt Commercial in the spring of 2018 as a surveyor and has now been made an associate director at the firm, which was established in the same year after a merger of two established companies in the region. The 29-year-old, who was raised in Warwickshire, qualified with Tapp Chartered Surveyors in Leeds before
heading back to home territory. He said: “Following some rewarding years up north, I moved to Holts to experience the market in a major city closer to home and with a wellestablished firm in the area. “Holts is hugely respected in the regional market and Coventry is a city which has seen considerable expansion and investment in recent times so it was always going to prove an exciting place to work. “I work predominantly within the agency department across a wideranging commercial instruction list for a variety of corporate and private clients. On a personal level, of course it’s fantastic to be rewarded for the hard work. It’s also exciting to be a key part of a company which has experienced considerable recent
success since the merger shortly before I joined.” The past three years has seen Chris involved in several significant transactions including the sale of multiple freehold industrial units and mixed-use investment sales with values of more than £1 million. He has also actively pursued acquisition opportunities for developer and investor clients. Peter Holt, director of Holt Commercial, said: “Chris is very dedicated and, as well as developing a very good market knowledge and being very proactive, he has built an impressive network of contacts inside and outside the industry. This has helped to secure some good deals for the company and our clients.”
Shakespeare Martineau boosts legal planning team with double hire Law firm Shakespeare Martineau has welcomed two new property specialists to its Midlands teams. Legal planning partner, Anna Cartledge, and legal planning legal director, Julie Russell have both joined the firm. Operating from the Birmingham hub, Anna has more than 15 years’ experience in legal planning, compulsory purchase and highways law. She has acted for a variety of public and private sector clients throughout her career including landowners, promoters, developers, local authorities, central government agencies,
regional development agencies and various NHS trusts. Anna has a particular interest in heritage issues and has advised several local authorities and private sector developers on various listed building consents. She is also highly experienced in negotiating planning obligations with complex cascade, review and clawback mechanisms, and frequently advises on the best way to structure large-scale sites to enable them to come forward on a phased basis. Meanwhile, Julie joins the firm’s Leicester hub with more than 14 years’ experience, working
on all aspects of legal planning, development and infrastructure work. She has particular experience in dealing with nationally significant infrastructure projects and negotiating complex S106 agreements and infrastructure and highways agreements as well as providing strategic planning advice to housebuilders, commercial developers, landowners and local planning authorities. She also regularly deals with planning enforcement, public rights of ways issues, planning appeals, planning due diligence on site acquisitions and challenges to planning permissions.
Alex Smith, managing director of the firm’s infrastructure and specialist markets business unit, said: “From small listed buildings to large development projects, planning is a complex area law and it requires specialist knowledge. Both Anna and Julie have great expertise and are well-placed to advise clients across the Midlands and nationally.”
Coventry & Warwickshire in business
President & People
Warwickshire property company announces major new promotions
Chris Parsons, Louis Smith, James Ellerington, Mike Vining, Claire Lynch and James Davies.
A raft of promotions has been announced by Midlands property company The Wigley Group. The company, which has an extensive commercial property portfolio, has implemented a new structure as part of plans to continue the significant growth it has
seen over the past decade. A new executive board will be headed by chairman Robert Wigley — the son of the company’s founder — with James Davies becoming chief executive officer after three years as managing director, and James Ellerington promoted from director of
operations to chief operating officer. The board has two nonexecutive directors: Anna Brocklehurst, partner at Charnwood Accountants and Business Advisors, and James Polo Richards, partner at law firm JG Poole & Co. Louis Smith is promoted to director of estates after ten years with The Wigley Group and three years as head of estates, and Claire Lynch, who joined the company in 2016, becomes director of central group operations after two years as head of group governance and development. Chris Parsons takes on an enhanced role as head of property and operations. The changes also mean Wigley Contracts (Barby) becomes a dedicated
development company that will be complemented by the existing construction business, Wigley Building and Development. Wigley Contracts (Barby) will be run by development director, Mike Vining, who has worked as a consultant with The Wigley Group for more than 15 years. James Davies said: “Our business is very different to the one that was first established as a construction plant hire and road building contractor in 1964. “The property and land portfolio has grown significantly over the past 20 years, and we have an ambitious long-term, strategic investment plan to continue that growth through this new structure.”
Midland Heart lands top customer service accreditation Well-known housing association Midland Heart has been awarded the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation. The accolade recognises and celebrates excellent customer service and identifies areas where organisations can improve and excel. To achieve this accreditation, Midland Heart completed a two-day assessment to demonstrate that it provides great customer service and that it reviewed and implemented previous recommendations. The association was praised for the way it engages with and involves customers, the insights it has gathered to understand its customer’s needs
and preferences, and its work to support the wider community. Laura Weddell, head of quality and customer experience at Midland Heart, said: “Delivering a brilliant service matters to our customers, so this accreditation is important to us and helps us to understand what’s going well and where we can improve. We’re really proud to have achieved this accreditation and look forward to working with our customers on even more service improvements in the future.” Following this accreditation, Midland Heart’s customer experience team will design and deliver a detailed action plan, which will be monitored by its
customer oversight group. Made up of customers, the group will hold the organisation to account and ensure that all actions are completed ahead of the next assessment in two years’ time. For more information, visit www.midlandheartgroup.org.uk
Top Teacher Mr Kyp in Line for National Award A Coventry teacher who has helped thousands of students achieve their dream careers has been shortlisted for a national award. WMG Academy Coventry’s Head of Engineering Andrew Kyprianou - known as My Kyp – has made it through to the final of the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Awards. Mr Kyp, a former engineer who turned to teaching so he could share his knowledge of the subject with younger generations, has worked at the academy in Mitchell Avenue, Canley, since it opened in 2014. His talent was recognised early on, and he rose to become Head of Engineering and Design within a year. Mr Kyp said: “To be shortlisted for this award is overwhelming and very humbling. It is the whole team at WMG Academy that
makes the difference to the students. Together we give them the real-world experience they need for a successful career and when they come back to see us, we can see we’ve made a real difference to them.” Since joining WMG Academy, Mr Kyp has brought the academy’s ‘businesslike, business-led’ ethos to life, by enlisting companies to set bespoke projects to be assessed as part of the curriculum. These have included a wind turbine project with National Grid, a cycle paths survey with Balfour Beatty, materials testing with Sarginsons and a sun visor design assignment for Aston Martin. Mr Kyp organises opportunities for students, including trips to companies, guest visitors and hands-on activities. During the pandemic has continued to run all interactions virtually. He does all this while continuing to teach GCSE, BTEC and A-levels to students aged 14-19.
Mrs Kate Tague, Chief Executive Officer of WMG Academy Trust said: “Mr Kyp has been an inspirational teacher to thousands of students over the years and has helped kickstart their careers. As well as working closely with students on their technical skills and academic knowledge, Mr Kyp introduces students to employers, gives them real-world experiences and works with them to ensure they have the best start possible in their adult life. Every school should have a Mr Kyp, but fortunately for us, he chose WMG Academy!” Sixth former Bhavneet Banwait, 18, said: “Mr Kyp has a really good relationship with his students and remains professional whilst still making lessons enjoyable and not pressuring us. He is also highly motivating and pushes his students to produce the best work possible. I believe he’s one of the best teachers in the country.” Mr Kyp’s students have gone on to work for organisations including the BBC, Ministry of Defence, Aston Martin, Dyson, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.
Martin Green is senior partner at regional law firm Lodders, and has been recognised for his expertise in Personal Tax and Law in the Best Lawyers UK 2022 Edition.
Lodders’ senior partner named as one of UK’s best lawyers Martin Green, senior partner at local law firm Lodders, has been recognised for his expertise in personal tax and law by one of the oldest and most respected lawyer ranking services in the world. The 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers™ in the United Kingdom recognises the professional excellence of lawyers in 83 practice areas, with the lawyers named in it selected by their peers. A specialist in tax, wills, trusts advice and estate and inheritance tax planning, Martin has been Lodders’ senior partner since 2015. He joined the firm in 1988 from Pinsents, Birmingham, and has since overseen the growth of the firm’s private client department into one of the largest and most highly regarded teams in the Midlands. As well as the latest accolade in the 2022 Best Lawyers edition, Martin has consistently been recognised as a leading private client lawyer by The Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession and by the Legal 500. He is also recognised as a “notable practitioner” by the Chambers High Net Worth Guide, which praises his “professionalism, knowledge and strong client relationships”. Martin said: “The Best Lawyers publication is the oldest lawyer ranking service in the world. For 40 years it has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the lawyers best qualified to represent them. It is a great honour to be included in the latest edition and within such an impressive roll call of UK lawyers.” Lodders is a well-established law firm in Stratford upon Avon, Cheltenham, Henley in Arden, and Birmingham. For more information visit www.lodders.co.uk
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MOTIVATE, INSPIRE, RETAIN
OF THE GOVERNMENT APPRENTICESHIP INCENTIVE You now have until September 2021 to take advantage of the increased Government incentive payment, available to all employers who hire a new apprentice. Age Of New Apprentice
This payment will be in addition to the existing £1,000 incentive payment that the Government already provides for new apprentices aged between 16-18, and those aged under 25 with an Education Health Care Plan, where that applies. At WCG Apprenticeships, we offer the widest range of apprenticeship standards in the region, allowing us to meet the needs of almost all businesses. We are able to offer apprenticeships within the following sectors: • • • • • • •
Agriculture Animal Care Business & Professional Construction Engineering Equine & Farriery Hairdressing
• • • • • •
Health & Care Horticulture Inc. Golf Greenkeeping & Sports Turf Hospitality IT Motor Vehicle Veterinary Nursing
Contact our Business Development team who will be able to help you negotiate the incentive so that it can benefit you in the best way possible:
0330 135 6940 | firstname.lastname@example.org Visit wcg.ac.uk/apprenticeships for more information. email@example.com
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