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OFFICIAL MAGAZINE FOR KENT INVICTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE • April - May 2016

Growing jobs in the Garden of England - page 24

Also Inside: • International Trade • Spotlight on Ashford • Getting Started • Big Interview with Astro Communications • 24 Hours with ...


CONTENTS

Welcome

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Working with young people is so important Of course, I have to mention the Business Awards on pages 4 and 5 I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered this year. We had a record number of entries, which certainly did make the job of the judging panel very difficult. That said, they did select 12 very worthy finalists and 6 amazing category winners. My congratulations not only go to our finalists and winners, but to everyone who entered for their amazing achievements.

Welcome to the April/May edition of Thinking Business, which is packed with positive news and opportunities. This edition is certainly a good read from front to back, but I would just like to highlight a few articles. You will see on page 8, that your Chamber has been working with Schools and Colleges across Kent & Medway through a series of ‘Your Future Careers’ events. This has been very successful and beneficial to thousands of students who have taken part, and those members who have been kind enough to give up their time to take part have certainly found the experience rewarding. We would like to continue with these events through 2016 and would very much welcome your support, so if you would like to get involved please do contact Linda Marsh.

It is always pleasing to read about positive business experiences and growth but for business to flourish you need to have an environment that is conducive to business growth and enterprise and reading the area focus on Ashford (pages 16 - 18), it’s no surprise that Ashford was viewed as the best business location in Kent. Of course life isn’t all rosy, we are entering again a period of uncertainty, with unsettled global markets, global threats and unknowns around the EU referendum in June. But business goes on and you all continue to rise to the challenges and hopefully turn them into opportunities.

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Members Corner Chamber Awards Members News Focus on Finance Members News Economy Members News International Trade Spotlight On.... 24 hours with... Members News Cover Feature Industry Comment

Editorial and General Enquiries Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Tel: 01233 503 838 Fax: 01233 503 687 Email: info@kentinvictachamber.co.uk Web: www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk Chief Executive: Jo James Publisher Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited 3tc House, 16 Crosby Road North, Crosby, Liverpool L22 0NY Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Email: admin@benhampublishing.com Web: www.benhampublishing.com Published April 2016 © Benham Publishing

Front cover image Shouting from the rooftops: senior staff at HR GO Recruitment and Thanet Earth hail jobs growth (Photo: Matthew White)

Advertising and Features Karen Hall Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email: karen@benhampublishing.com

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Big Interview Members News Business News Members News Ask the Expert Business News Getting Started Chamber Events Chamber Exhibitions Members News New Members Movers & Shakers The Last Word

Production Manager Mark Etherington Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email: mark@benhampublishing.com Media No. 1430 Disclaimer Thinking Business is published for Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and is distributed without charge to Chamber members. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in Thinking Business are not necessarily those of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission. © 2016 Please note that submitting an article does not guarantee publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of material published in this journal, Benham Publishing and its agents can accept no responsibility for the veracity of claims made by contributions in advertising or editorial content. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us.

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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MEMBERSCORNER

Members Corner from

Linda Marsh Director of Membership Services

Chambers of Commerce have been in existence for decades, with some of the biggest names in business locally but also some of the most recognised companies worldwide forming part of their membership. Being an Accredited Chamber ensures that the organisation has met a rigorous and continuously updated quality standard, including trade services. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce is the ONLY accredited Chamber in Kent so get involved, be a part of a strong network of businesses. The benefits of being a member include Chamber HR. This is an essential member benefit which offers members easy access to employment law and HR resources. With over 550 downloadable documents, letters and policies at your finger tips.

Chamber Business Awards

– an evening of celebration sponsored by Hays Recruitment

Chamber Members joined together to celebrate business success at the Kent Invicta Chamber annual Business Awards Dinner on Thursday 17 March at the prestigious Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. The Awards were in 6 categories • Young Person in Business Award Sponsored by MidKent College • Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by Kent Innovation & Enterprise • Most Promising New Business Sponsored by The British Assessment Bureau • Excellence In Customer Service Sponsored by Wilkins Kennedy LLP Now in their 11th year, the Awards have been a great catalyst to promote excellence in business that is in abundance within the County. The quality and quantity of applications continues to increase year on year, just going to show that Kent is truly an entrepreneurial County, demonstrating business at its best.

• Achievement in International Business Sponsored by Canterbury College • Business of the Year Sponsored by The University of Kent The Chamber would like to congratulate all of this year’s Winners and very worthy Finalists.

Young Person in Business Award

Membership also offers employee health care. Westfield Health have been working with British Chambers of Commerce for over 13 years, they have developed an affordable and highly valued package exclusively for members. If you want to find out more about what your membership offers you why not give me a call to go through them. We have also been very busy working with Kent schools on a National Project, “Bridging the Gap”. This is such a hot topic at the moment, which is why Kent Invicta Chamber are getting involved. Your Future events are all about employability, working with education providers and businesses to find solutions. We have been so grateful to a whole host of businesses offering their time to come back into schools for careers and employability events. Thank you to all those businesses who continue to offer us their support in this really great project.

If you want to get involved and help Kent’s young people then just let me know, it would be good to have as much support as we can get. www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

Winner - Ben Towers - Towers Design

Finalist - Oliver Trailor - Runway Training

Finalist - Jack Kelly - Facts International Ltd

Finalist - Mandie Davis - Les Puces Ltd

Finalist - Colin Griffin - Blackbox Document Solutions Ltd

Entrpreneur of the Year

Winner - Andrew Cruttenden - Martello Building Consultancy


CHAMBERNEWS

In My Opinion Most Promising New Business

Gordon Johnson Senior Associate Solicitor Family Law

Winner - KIMS Hospital

Finalist - Site Labour Supplies Ltd

Finalist - Sync-box

Excellence in Customer Service

Winner - Sleeping Giant Media

Finalist - Active Digital

Finalist - Woodley Coles LLP

Achievement in International Business

Winner - Questor Insurance Services Ltd

Finalist - International Association of Book-keepers

Finalist - Woodley Coles LLP

Business of the Year

At the end of last year former Dragon’s Den star, Duncan Bannatyne, made headline news for being accused of misleading a court for financial gain during his divorce proceedings. Earlier in 2015 in landmark judgements, two divorcees, Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil, who claim they were cheated out of their rightful share after their husbands failed to reveal their assets, won their Supreme Court battle to have their claims re-assessed at new hearings. Both cases highlight the perils of non-disclosure of financial assets in divorce proceedings. The cases of Mrs Gohil and Mrs Sharland are particularly important as they confirm the right of a former spouse to challenge an earlier settlement. Alison Sharland, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, and Varsha Gohil from London, both said their ex-husbands misled the court about how much they were worth.They were able to have their claims for financial provision reopened despite previous orders having been made because the Court found that their respective husbands had failed in their duty to provide full details of their financial assets at the time the original orders were made. These two Supreme Court decisions are a stark warning on the obligation on couples whom are divorcing to provide each other with full and frank financial disclosure when dividing the matrimonial assets. These judgements highlight that the deliberate withholding or hiding of matrimonial assets will not be tolerated by the court and may lead to the original court orders being overturned or reassessed if a deliberate material breach has been found to have occurred. Mrs Sharland and Mrs Gohil are now both free to pursue appeals that could see them claim millions of pounds more from their former partners. In my opinion these cases remind us that full and frank financial disclosure is the foundation upon which matrimonial financial proceedings are based. Without proper disclosure there is a continued risk of further litigation and increased legal costs at a later date.

Gordon Johnson can be contacted on 01227 768374 gordonjohnson@girlings.com www.girlings.com

Winner - Cripps

Finalist - Infinity Group

Finalist - Blackbox Document Solutions Ltd

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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MEMBERSNEWS

Safer Kent – making our county a safer place to be Since 2012 a number of youngsters have taken part in a pioneering sports based programme that takes skills to a new level. Reaching young people and giving them a focus is key to the work of Safer Kent. Their youth inclusion programmes which encompass rugby, judo, football and cricket have changed the lives of the youngsters taking part and made their communities safer places to live. Many have gone on to earn coaching qualifications and are now training the next generation.

The programmes, sponsored by Safer Kent and delivered by local coaches and staff, offer teenagers who may have been in trouble with the police or are in danger of going that way – the chance to play sport and play within the rules. Young players are learning teamwork, self-confidence, discipline and anger management - without even knowing it.

Event helps Kent businesses stand out from the competition The British Assessment Bureau was the proud sponsor of the Winning Bid at the West Kent B2B event organised by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. The event, West Kent B2B – which took place at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent – hosted The Winning Bid area. With the Government committing to spending more on small businesses, the event saw the British Assessment Bureau’s Director Rob Fenn head four workshops and informal talks throughout the day – taking place in the ‘Winning Bid 1:1’ Appointment Area. The event, sponsor was on hand at the Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, to discuss ISO and OHSAS standards with event attendees, explaining how they give businesses the ability to stand out when competing for tenders. Rob said: “We are pleased to be able to support local, small businesses by being part of the Winning Bid.” Attendees were able to find out: • What contracts are available; • Where to look for them; • How ISO standards are linked to success and; • How you ensure you win that bid!

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

Safer Kent started life in 2000 as The Kent People’s Trust and rebranded last year to better reflect the work and aims of the charity. The Director, Bryn Price is a fervent believer in the power of charities to make a real difference to the lives of young people. Under his guidance sports clubs in Kent have developed highly effective programmes to teach life to youngsters who are at risk of exclusion. Always keen to practice what he preaches Bryn together with Treasurer Paul Curtis regularly participate in ultra-distance events to raise much needed funds for Safer Kent. Currently, this small charity has raised almost £1 million for Community Safety programmes in Kent and Medway. The charity estimates that each of their youth inclusion programmes generates an overall community saving in the costs of crime of more than £11k for every £1k invested. As frequent targets of youth crime, Kent and Medway businesses have supported Safer Kent in the knowledge that their contribution can really make a difference to their customers, visitors and staff. Companies that support the charity have the option of directing their donation to specific programmes or areas of the county. With their help Safer Kent can make Kent and Medway a safer place to be while giving real support and help to vulnerable youngsters. As the Chairman of Safer Kent likes to say “If they’re playing sport … they’re not in court” – and that’s got to be good news all round.

Helping students plan their careers If you’re about to sit your GCSEs and you’re not sure which path to take in September, take a look at the benefits an apprenticeship can offer you. You can leave school at 16, go straight into work and earn a salary - the average wage for an apprentice is around £170 - £210 per week. You’ll receive training and learn job-specific skills to give you the experience that employers need, plus you’ll be learning alongside professional, qualified and experienced workers, who’ll help you develop your own skills. Not only that, but you’ll gain nationally recognised qualifications, get paid holidays, improve your employability and progress your career. Apprenticeships are not just for the traditional trades such as engineering or plumbing either, you can study business administration or accountancy too for example. You can start an apprenticeship at any age and there are three levels to consider: Intermediate (Level 2), Advanced (Level 3 – equivalent of A levels) and Higher (Level 4 or above) which are suitable for those over 18. So, how do you go about securing an apprenticeship? Firstly, find an employer who’d be willing to take you on – use the National Apprenticeship Service, check vacancies listed on North Kent College’s website or search vacancies on local job websites. Employers are entitled to a Government grant and can take on an apprentice at any time of year. Your local college will then provide the training - usually on a day release basis. North Kent College offer apprenticeships in the following disciplines: Construction & Engineering Electrical, Plumbing, Motor Vehicle, Engineering, Painting & Decorating, Carpentry and Refrigeration; Business Administration; AAT Accountancy; Hairdressing and Maritime Industries. And work with employers such as Hovis, Babcock Defence, DFDS, P&O, FM Conway, BBA Remanufacturing, Thames Clippers, Veolia and many more. Check the NKC website for more details, www.northkent.ac.uk, call 0800 074 1447 to step up to your chosen career.


FOCUSONFINANCE

Ashford Economic Update Paul Nixon Partner 01233 629255 (Ashford) Paul.Nixon@wilkinskennedy.com www.wilkinskennedy.com

The Ashford Economic Development Update Seminar was held at Eastwell Manor in Kent on Friday 11th March 2016, where Wilkins Kennedy welcomed more than 130 guests to refreshments and networking alongside presentations from Ashford Borough Council, Quinn Estates, Hadlow College, Stanhope Developments and Highways England. The seminar focussed on the current economic development and infrastructure as well as the growth and future vision of the town. The event was chaired by Damian Green MP who included his summary topics from Westminster and was introduced by Hugh Summerfield, Partner at Wilkins Kennedy’s Ashford office. Following Damian’s introduction, Richard Alderton from Ashford Borough Council presented the Council’s Five Year Corporate Plan 2015 – 2020. The last year or so has witnessed some key milestones with significant commercial investment facilitated by the council in partnership with central Government and the county council, leading to substantial commitments from the private sector either made or planned. Furthermore, the council has taken direct action and for itself and the good of the town and borough has invested through purchasing either outright or taking long term interests in some important local capital assets. These actions have dual purpose. Primarily the council’s actions are drivers of growth and jobs, capitalising on Ashford’s growing sub regional economic significance and reputation as a place to do business. Further, they are part of our plan for financial self-sufficiency given central government’s reductions in grants and its intention to end the ‘formula grant’ system by 2019 (the principal general grant distributed to all local authorities).

Richard also spoke about business rates. Before April 2013 all business rate income collected by councils formed a single, national pot, which was then distributed by government in the form of ‘formula grant’. Since 2013 the Government gave local authorities the power to keep up to half of business rate growth in their area by splitting business rate revenue into the ‘local share’ and the ‘central share’. Under the current business rates retention scheme the council, with a smaller share going to Kent County Council, is on track to achieve its financial self-sufficiency aims by 2018. Mark Quinn from Quinn Estates was next to take to the stand with his presentation on “The Commercial Quarter”, which is a 600,000sqft of space with grade A office and ground floor retail. It is going to be a major regeneration project to create inward investment and retain existing Ashford-based businesses, as well as create hundreds of new jobs. The design aims to replicate the success of the Beer Cart Building in Canterbury as a “destination” development and will help put the commercial quarter on the map both locally and nationally. After some light refreshments, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor from Hadlow College presented to the room some of the grand plans for the Ashford College Development, both in terms of the construction plans and curriculum. Demolition of the old site began in July 2015 and Phase 1 of construction began in September. The work is set for completion in September 2017.

Mark was followed by Gary Bourne from leading property development company, Stanhope Developments, who gave a presentation on Elwick Place in Ashford. The vision is to create a mixed-use development which includes a multiscreen cinema, a family hotel, restaurant space, new homes, attractive public space and landscaping. The idea was to help boost the night time economy as well as support Ashford’s growing daytime tourist economy. At the same time, it will create hundreds of new jobs and, hopefully, act as a catalyst for wider growth and investment. Following a successful planning application, the development will begin during 2016. Our final presentation was at 3:45pm, but it was well worth the wait. We were treated to a talk from Paul Harwood who is from Highways England. His chosen topic was on the controversial “Operation Stack” and plans for improvement to Junction 10A on the M20. Our day came to a close following a parting speech from Damian Green MP, who echoed all of our guests in the sentiment that Kent is already demonstrating a strengthening economy which has current and future plans for growth. We’d like to thank everyone for attending and we do hope to see you again soon. For more details about future events at Wilkins Kennedy, you can visit our website: www.wilkinskennedy.com/wk-events

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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MEMBERSNEWS

Chambers support -

over 15,000 young people explore apprenticeships Chambers of Commerce across the country are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with a range of events, having already supported over 15,000 young people so far through Your Future Careers Fairs.

Jo Anne Smith, HR GO Kent regional director, and Sam Northeast, captain of Kent, celebrate HR GO sponsorship of the Harris Room at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury.

Howzat!

Ashford-based recruitment firm HR GO is the new title sponsor of Kent Cricket’s largest hospitality lounge. The company will provide staff for matches and events, as well as parties and functions at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury, and the County Ground, Beckenham. The HR GO Harris Room can cater for up to 250 guests, with almost 100 seats on the balcony giving panoramic views of The Spitfire Ground. Jo Anne Smith, HR GO regional director for Kent, said: “We see our partnership with Kent Cricket as a great opportunity to develop the HR GO brand. We look forward to this partnership going from strength to strength.” Kent Cricket commercial director Emma Santer said: “We’re delighted to welcome a Kentish company that is a big player on the national stage and we see their brand as a perfect fit for us. “Their passion for people is at the heart of any strong business and I hope visitors and supporters enjoy the hospitality services provided by their staff in the HR GO Harris Room.” Learn more about HR GO, Kent's largest and longest-established recruitment group on page 24.

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

Chambers of Commerce across England have been involved with delivering Your Future events, which are designed to raise awareness of the career options available to young people, including apprenticeships, and more than 16,500 14-24 year olds have participated nationally so far.

Across the country, an extra 21 events are planned during National Apprenticeship Week, which are expected to attract around 8,000 students. The scheme works with local businesses to help bridge the gap between the worlds of education and work, to highlight the options available to students, as well as the skills needed to enter the workplace. So far, around 500 national businesses have participated in the scheme through Chambers of Commerce. Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Education and Skills at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Your Future events taking place this week help raise the profile of apprenticeships, which are of benefit to businesses, individuals and the whole UK economy.

“The recently highlighted challenge of promoting apprenticeships in schools is an issue that Chambers of Commerce are tackling, through the Your Future events and by working closely with the Skills Funding Agency, to highlight the breadth of career options available through apprenticeships. “Through Chambers, local firms can link up with schools, highlight career opportunities, and dispel the myth that the only route to success is a university degree. “We will continue to help local businesses connect with education and training providers, to raise the visibility of apprenticeships and address the skills gap across the country.”

Through Chambers, local firms can link up with schools, highlight career opportunities, and dispel the myth that the only route to success is a university degree.


MEMBERSNEWS

An essential investment in the future For successful HR and Recruitment, it is essential to find and attract people that will have the core skills and competencies to complete the work required. But how much of the UK population have these basic skills? And how is the next generation’s work force looking? Shockingly, 16% of adults in the UK are “functionally illiterate”, meaning that they have problems with simple everyday tasks and considerable areas of employment are behind shut doors. Schools are finding it difficult to cope with the issue, with 63,000 children leaving state-funded primary school every year unable to read to the expected standard. Five years on, one in three students will leave school without the absolute minimum qualifications needed to enter employment. All of this information begs the questions, how has the problem got to this stage and what can be done about it?

According to the National Literacy Trust, long-term research indicates that one of the most significant factors, which is often overlooked or underestimated, is “reading for pleasure”, “connecting with text”, rather than the reading being a laborious task. Reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than socio-economic status. At Beanstalk, we transform children’s life chances by inspiring them to discover the joy in reading, by supporting Trained Reading Helpers to work in local primary schools.

Our Trained Reading Helpers spend time with children on a one-to-one basis, twice a week, reading books, playing games and chatting. The time spent in a Beanstalk session is purposefully different to classroom time, being without tests, free of pressure and expected learning targets. The emphasis being the joy of a good read, no matter the child’s current academic level. Would you like to help the next generation? If you would like to know more about Beanstalk, or would like to know what you can do, please visit our website at www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk

The hidden costs of recruitment

Hiring the right people is one of the most critical challenges for any organisation but smaller businesses face additional problems of limited time and resources. The average cost of hiring a new employee is £30,000 according to one recent survey, taking account of management time, temporary cover, loss of productivity whilst the new employee gets up to speed, training etc. It’s a costly business and there can be untold consequences to staff morale if a new appointment does not work out. So what should employers do to ensure success? The best advice is take your time and don’t rush the process! There is an old adage applied to recruitment – ‘hire in haste, repent at leisure’. Take time to think carefully about the job role. Preparing a

job description and person specification helps to define the need and enables candidates to understand what the business really expects from them. Take time to review the applications and carry out interviews. Being too busy to prepare for interviews is no excuse. Preferably hold two meetings with the preferred candidate. Let other colleagues meet them and ask questions of their own. If you have ever wondered why someone left so quickly, or you need help in recruiting or retaining your staff, please contact Simon Morgan, Director of The HR Dept in North Kent. Based in Dartford, Simon

provides support to small and medium sized employers on all aspects of employment. For more information please contact simon.morgan@hrdept.co.uk Telephone 0845 634 9154 www.hrdept.co.uk

Develop your staff potential

Taking your team to the next level? I help business owners and managers develop their personal potential as well as finding ways to grow their companies and to identify people who would benefit from coaching.

Here is an example of a client identified by the owner as having greater potential. Walking through the door of the meeting room, shoulders tense, Sarah* introduced herself to me with barely a glance. Working through her questions, she relaxed and understood that our weekly hour-long sessions together would be confidential. Sarah focused on how she could develop in her role as manager, to meet the needs of the business where she worked. We agreed to start with a review of Sarah’s organisational skills. Training courses are excellent but what about implementation? Everyone organises themselves in a unique way and coaching gives time and space in an emotionally safe environment to review their approach and motivates change. What do you believe about yourself that may be holding you back? Bringing an issue to mind creates a climate for conscious decisions, increases focus and actions, thus saves time. We looked at the responsibilities of her role. Do you feel you have to do everything, are reactionary or buzzing around in a fog? It is said that the art of good management is good delegation. Knowing your strengths and attitudes means you can make changes - after all, how can you change something you don’t know about? Sarah developed her negotiation skills and assertiveness in the final coaching sessions. We sometimes develop habits which are less effective than others. Knowing yourself, hearing what you say and understanding the possible impact on others is vital in developing good communication skills. The owner, colleagues, friends and family noticed how Sarah had grown in confidence, better relationships and performance at work. Do you have someone like Sarah in your team who would benefit from the extra support coaching brings? Give me a call to discuss how I can help develop latent potential. * name and details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.

Rosemary Williams RW Coaching 07532162087

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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Digital Tax Account - Death of the Tax Return

Tax Payments

Under the current Self-Assessment regime individuals have around 10 months to file their Tax Returns and pay any balance of liability however it is expected that under the digital tax account the quarterly update (filing) period could be as little as 30 days after the end of the quarter with payments potentially due at the same time. It is unclear how HMRC will calculate the quarterly payments due without businesses completing management accounts and offering tax adjusted profits. Two key areas that may be unknown on a quarterly basis would be capital allowances, as these are claimed annually and can also be disclaimed, and partnership profit shares, as the profit share may not be agreed based on quarterly profits.

The government has set out a vision that by 2020 businesses and individual tax payers will be able to register, file, pay and update information at any time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The idea behind this is a move away from the days of an annual tax return and towards a system whereby taxpayers can know exactly how much tax they will have to pay with a view, according to the government, to helping them plan their tax affairs with more certainty. The new accounts will allow people to see their tax details and make payments any time during the year.

The intention is that from April 2018 businesses will be expected to update HMRC with their tax affairs quarterly through their digital tax accounts. By 2020, most businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to keep track of their tax payments digitally.

Tax payers will have the benefit of HMRC joining up their internal systems so that data collected from employers, banks, building societies and other government departments will be pre populated within the digital tax account thus removing the need for annual reporting via Self-Assessment.

During a speech to the HMRC Customs Stakeholder Conference, financial secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:

“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to give HMRC information that it already has, or should be able to get from elsewhere – for instance, from employers, banks, building societies and other government departments.”

The new system will eventually replace annual tax returns, supporting the current system of self-assessment moving online; although Mr Gauke has since stated ‘This transformation does not – repeat, not – mean four tax returns a year’; however there remain growing concerns that HMRC will require tax payers to complete quarterly Tax Returns in the future.

John Allan, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, expressed concern at the move to enforce compulsory online quarterly reporting for business, saying: “Adding more reporting appears out of step with wider Government attempts to reduce the regulatory burden and to streamline tax arrangements. Members already spend on average £3,600 completing their tax returns, with many still completing theirs manually.”

The government has remained silent so far on the how the transition from the old system to the new system for payments of tax will work. The recent Budget did not shed any new light on the matter either. So far, we know that taxpayers will be able to make more regular payments (and consequently repayment claims). What we are unclear about is: 1. The timing of these payments, and 2. The consequent effect on cash flow management for taxpayers With this in mind, our greatest concern now stems from whether the government has considered that transitional rules will likely be necessary to assist tax payers in meeting their tax payments over the transitional period such that there is not a detrimental effect on the cash flow management of businesses.

Penalties

With the increased frequency of filing deadlines HMRC are yet to confirm how any penalty regime will be operated to enforce the new quarterly obligations. HMRC have stated they will be taking a ‘light touch approach’ however if the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting requirements are anything to go by then at some point in the future tax payers can expect the introduction of late filing penalties which, based on the current Self-Assessment and RTI penalty regimes, could be in the region of £100 per overdue submission.

Conclusion

HMRC state the quarterly reports will not be quarterly returns however the format and implementation of the new system is currently open for consultation. It appears from the information currently available that the level of reporting requirements is set to increase as the time frame available for tax planning opportunities tightens.

HMRC refer to this as the ‘Death of the Tax Return’ however it seems that the burden placed on small businesses and therefore the workload placed on agents and advisors is set to increase over the coming years. Stuart Chipperfield Tax Manager MHA MacIntyre Hudson Victoria Court 17 - 21 Ashford Road Maidstone Kent ME14 5FA Tel: 01622 754033 E-mail: stuart.chipperfield@mhllp.co.uk

www.macintyrehudson.co.uk

MHA MacIntyre Hudson is the trading name of MHA MacIntyre Hudson (Kent) LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England with registered number OC385090. A list of partners’ names is open for inspection at its registered office, 201 Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9 1LZ. MacIntyre Hudson LLP which also trades under the name of MHA MacIntyre Hudson, controls MHA MacIntyre Hudson (Kent) LLP and is an independent member of MHA, a national association of UK accountancy firms. The term ‘partner’ or ‘partners’ indicates that the person (or persons) in question is (or are) a member(s) of MHA MacIntyre Hudson (Kent) LLP or a member, an employee or consultant of its affiliated businesses with equivalent standing and qualifications. Further information can be found via our website www.macintyrehudson.co.uk/information.html MHA MacIntyre Hudson (Kent) LLP is registered to carry on audit work in the United Kingdom and Ireland and is regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. MHA MacIntyre Hudson is an independent member of Baker Tilly International. Baker Tilly International Limited is an English company. Baker Tilly International provides no professional services to clients. Each member firm is a separate and independent legal entity and each describes itself as such. Baker Tilly UK Group LLP is the owner of the Baker Tilly trademark. MHA MacIntyre Hudson is not Baker Tilly International’s agent and does not have the authority to bind Baker Tilly International or act on Baker Tilly International’s behalf. None of Baker Tilly International, MHA MacIntyre Hudson, nor any of the other member firms of Baker Tilly International has any liability for each other’s acts or omissions.


ECONOMY

FREE Event

The Economy & Us- EU Debate Decide for yourself on whether to remain or leave To hear both sides of the argument and find out the facts, come along on: Thursday 19th May 2016 10am - 3pm Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, TN24 0LH To book either visit www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events or email events@kentinvictachamber.co.uk or call 01233 503838

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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MEMBERSNEWS

Companies honoured in report

Kent based recruitment company Red Eagle and winemakers Chapel Down are identified in London Stock Exchange’s ‘1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain.’ The report identifies the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses across the UK and received cross party support and the backing of UK’s major business bodies. To be included in the list, companies needed to show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years, significantly outperforming their industry peers. Wayne Hodgson, MD of Red Eagle, said he was immensely proud of their success and puts it down to identifying and acting fast on growth opportunities and having a fabulous team to help build the business.

Chapel Down raised a record-breaking £3.95m in 24 days through crowd funding. CEO Frazer Thompson says he passionately believes “there is no point in just trying to be the best, we also want to be different, so we are pushing the boundaries of wine production in England.” His team are devoted to bringing English wine to the masses. The Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP said: “UK high-growth businesses are leading the charge in rebuilding our economy. These companies are the backbone of the British economy.”

To be included in the list, companies needed to show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years, significantly outperforming their industry peers.

Invicta Grammar School’s Race Night Fundraiser by Emily Brewster At African Revival, we are very fortunate to be supported by a wide range of individuals and organisations. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight the dedication and hard work of Invicta Grammar School’s Young Chamber Group, who have kindly chosen to support us with a number of fundraising events this year. In January, Invicta hosted a Burns Night Supper which proved very successful. We have also been planning the Royal Ascot Race Night on 19th March. It is through the support of organisations and individuals such as this Young Chamber group that African Revival is able to carry out our education and community empowerment projects in Uganda and Zambia. If you think your business, school, or pals would like to get involved by organising a fundraising event, but need a little inspiration to get you started, please get in contact! We are full of ideas and can support you through your plans to build a fun, exciting and successful fundraising event.

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

Wayne Hodgson from Red Eagle (right) and Frazer Thompson from Chapel Down (left), celebrate with a bottle of Chapel Down Brut.

Award-winning lawyer achieves tax industry ‘gold standard’ A rising young star at law firm Furley Page has become a member of leading professional body the Chartered Institute of Taxation after gaining the highest level tax qualification in the UK. Award-winning solicitor Alexandra Gordon, who specialises in long-term wealth planning and helping clients to safeguard their assets for future generations, has become a qualified Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) – nationally recognised as the gold standard for tax professionals. Alexandra, who was named Kent Law Society Junior Lawyer of the Year in 2014, has a wealth of experience in inheritance tax and estate planning and specialises in drafting Wills and Trusts,

administering clients’ estates, and preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney. Part of Furley Page’s highly regarded Private Client Team, she said: “Undertaking the CTA course has allowed me to develop my practical skills and a thorough knowledge of all areas of taxation. “It means I can offer clients comprehensive advice on complex and diverse issues, help them to fully understand the tax implications, and ensure they are up to date on constantly evolving tax laws.”


MEMBERSNEWS

University recruitment solution, Unitemps, not just for students but for the Kent Community Unitemps, the unique recruitment solution offered by Canterbury Christ Church University, celebrated its first birthday in February with a successful 12 months, and are now to work with more local businesses throughout Kent. Celebrating with an impressive total of 105,953 hours worked by Unitemps candidates, in 3726 job assignments, the service that prides itself on a community ethos is looking to expand on its offering to local employers. Originating at the University of Warwick in 1997 and franchised to Christ Church in February 2015, this ethical and quality service is based on the University’s Canterbury site and is open to all members of the Kent Community, not just students.

Sam Taylor, Unitemps Branch Manager, commented, “Our first year has seen enormous success, particularly for our students and employers within Christ Church. We are keen to grow - and are already working closely with over 50 businesses in Kent;

we invite other local companies to contact us, to see for themselves our exceptional talent pool of candidates. We are confident that we can provide suitable staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles, graduate positions, work placements and internships. Whatever the assignment, we have access to 20,000 multiskilled students, graduates and individuals waiting to apply for your vacancies.” Unitemps offer a variety of client packages dependent on your needs and budget. Whether you need the complete recruitment process including payroll, or simply to advertise your position, Unitemps delivers at competitive prices. Visit Unitemps.com

New Town Centre Partnership comes to Maidstone in the form of a CIC A unique blend of Maidstone’s Town Team merges with Maidstone Town Centre Management to give you their new approach united together as One Maidstone CIC: The Town Centre Partnership. With live trading under its new name from 1st April 2016, One Maidstone CIC is committed to ‘doing something rather unique’ according to the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM). With its Business Plan for 2016-18 confirming that we will work on a coherent approach to project delivery; eliminate duplication and satisfy joint objectives, we will achieve all this by working together with our partners to create a thriving town centre which our communities have pride in and promote Maidstone as a go to destination. Ilsa Butler, Town Centre Coordinator has been identifying what the company will seek to achieve, by talking to both the Board of Directors and Maidstone Borough Council and she has established new connections with businesses across the town that can help shape the company’s future. ‘2016 is set to be a significant year for us as we embark on our journey of becoming a community interest company, retaining all of the strengths of Town Centre Management and Town Team and identifying new ways that we can grow as an organisation that supports the community and family of businesses that we are so lucky to work with in Maidstone’. Our key projects include providing four significant scale seasonal events during the year; supporting the Council with public realm improvements throughout the town; produce an information pack to attract and act as a guide to new businesses in Maidstone and market Maidstone in a fresh innovative way utilising our experts in this field; and will support a programme of training for stewards to support the events and activities in the town centre. The organisation also acts as the umbrella body for MaidSafe the town’s nationally recognised Business Crime Reduction Partnership. We would like to welcome you to our launch event on Thursday 28 April 2016, at 6pm in the Metro Bank on Maidstone High Street. “Primarily we act as a catalyst, imparting an effective two way flow of communication between our members and local authority decision makers.”

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INTERNATIONALTRADE

Unleashing the power of small businesses

– the UK’s agile exporters By Kit Glover, Director of Professional Selling & Cross Border Trade at eBay UK

Trade Mission to the United Arab Emirates

Long gone are the days when international trade was just the preserve of big businesses.

– Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the world's most desirable business destinations with ambitious growth plans, modern infrastructure and first-class facilities. The UAE has advantageous investment policies which encourage foreign ownership of land and stocks. Join this trade mission to take advantage of the business opportunities available to your company. The mission will include pre-arranged businessto-business meetings in Dubai and Sharjah, and networking with members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council and Dubai Business Women Council. Date:

03 September 2016

Location:

Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah

This European Company Mission is part of the EAGLE ONE project which has received funding from the European Union's COSME Programme (2014-2020). For more information contact Vanessa Vlotides, Head of International Business Team on: T: +44 (0)20 7203 1838 or E: vvlotides@londonchamber.co.uk

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

More small online businesses are expanding into new markets with increasing vigour. This creates a domino effect of job creation across different sectors, from manufacturing and services to procure more products, to logistics and delivery firms shipping more goods. This is good news for small business, and good news for Britain. If we are to hit the country’s 2020 target of £1trillion exports, the UK’s online small businesses will play a crucial role. The true innovators of retail In my job looking after over 200,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the eBay UK marketplace, I see every day how firms use their entrepreneurial spirit and agility to export millions of British goods abroad – even without the infrastructure of a traditional exporter. Small businesses are vital to the UK economy. They can make rapid decisions, price competitively and adapt quickly to meet changing

consumer demand - the true innovators of UK retail. New research we’ve released as part of our Small Business Optimism Index shows that 93% of eBay’s small businesses fulfilled overseas sales in 2015, with each exporting to an average of 20 different territories, compared with just 28% of businesses without an online presence. Businesses like electrical goods specialists Electrolve. Electrolve export to 127 markets from its headquarters in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire. International trade has now grown to 60% of their total sales. Traditional bricks and mortar businesses like car parts supplier Volksbits. A family business since 1968, employing three generations, they now sell car parts around the world and have a workforce of 30 from their workshop in Birmingham. But there are also businesses that haven’t made the leap just yet. When asked what my advice to them would be, I’d say:

1. Take advantage of cool Britannia The UK has an excellent reputation around the world when it comes to retail. UK brands and businesses are held in high esteem, so use this to your advantage. Make it clear where you’re based and capitalise on selling the best of British – for example, British fashion is in particular demand. 2. Streamline payment Distance is no object with globalised exporting, but if customers can’t pay for their goods easily, they won’t buy from you. Make sure you accept international payment methods such as credit cards and payment platforms like PayPal. 3. Be ship-shape Consumers are looking for speedy delivery (10-14 days), low cost, and reliable shipping services. eBay sellers can enroll for free into the Global Shipping Programme; international postage charges and any applicable customs charges are automatically shown on listings, and paid by buyers. Parcels can simply be posted to the UK Shipping Centre using your usual postage service along with a tracking code, and parcels can then be tracked by both buyer and seller. 4. Leverage language In the European market, language translation and local online platforms are key to engaging foreign audiences. While shared languages, such as the US, Australia and Canada make entering these markets easier, remember to consider how consumers abroad search for products – replace colour with color, for example.


INTERNATIONALTRADE

Kent Business helps breathe new life into Exports

Bedfont Scientific, based in Harrietsham, Kent have made a generous donation to help those wishing to quit on No Smoking Day They have offered local Stop Smoking Services, several free iCO™ Smokerlyzers® to help with their No Smoking Day promotions. To recognise World No Smoking day 2016, Bedfont Scientific is working with their local Stop Smoking Services (SSS). By donating a few iCO Smokerlyzers as prizes for competitions, Bedfont hopes to raise awareness of the dangers involved with smoking, encourage people to quit and inform the public about how the Smokerlyzer can help. The Smokerlyzer brand is widely recognised by those who have quit smoking, those who are trying to, and the health advisors that aid them. The name is renowned for its quality and effectiveness in helping people to give up the habit. The Smokerlyzer range is a series of carbon monoxide (CO) monitors that measures the harmful amount of CO that is inhaled from smoking, which can show how much a patient has

been smoking, giving smoking cessation advisors an idea on the level of dependency that the smoker has. The Smokerlyzer is quick, non-invasive and also acts as a motivational visual aid to encourage the user to quit smoking and to measure their progress whilst doing so. Bedfont Scientific, is celebrating 40 years in business this year and are revered as pioneers in the breath analysis market. Founder, Trevor Smith, created the Smokerlyzer in 1985, which is also celebrating its 30th birthday in 2016. With more than 514852 units sold since existence, the Smokerlyzer is one of Bedfont’s most successful exports and can now be found in over 61 countries across the world. Jason Smith, General Manager at Bedfont Scientific, comments, “We are pleased to be supporting No Smoking Day in this way by donating some of our products to assist the Stop Smoking Services. According to the HSCIC, smoking

was attributable to almost 80,000 deaths in England in 2013, a figure which has not changed since 2003, and 454,700 hospital admissions. Even more alarming are the figures released by the ONS showing that the number of people willing to quit

smoking in recent years is stagnating. Bedfont’s aim is to help people quit by highlighting the diseases brought about by CO poisoning through smoking, as well as the benefits of quitting such as preventing cancer and other smoking related diseases.”

Chambers and UKTI develop platform for Small Business

GreatBritishStore.com gives British businesses the support and backing they need to showcase and sell their products and services on a global stage. GreatBritishStore.com began life on a UKTI export trade mission, where founders Nick Lewis and Mark Lesniak came up with the idea of a central, visible reference of British products and services that was actively promoted by UKTI and British Consulates. Having many years of experience in exporting consumer goods, and developing contacts at Consulates around the world, Nick realised that thousands of British businesses lacked the right contacts, support or finance to

expand into additional markets. Many companies find it prohibitively expensive and time consuming to expand into overseas markets, and there are thousands of quality British designs, products and services with no presence on the global stage. Nick and Mark wanted to find a way to make the process as simple and cost-effective as possible for SMEs. Mark was able to bring his years of digital marketing experience to getting vendors online; an

eCommerce enabled platform, which would showcase British products and services. Nick was able to bring his years of export experience to finding buyers at the other end; GreatBritishStore.com will be promoted in 106 locations around the world. UKTI have worked with GreatBritishStore.com from the beginning, sharing their vision to make exporting easier and more accessible to British businesses. www.greatbritishstore.com

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SPOTLIGHTON...

Ashford

– best connected for growth

Currently ranked as the best business location in Kent, Ashford remains the number one choice for inward investment in the county and a commercial powerhouse in the South East. Last year the international town enjoyed dynamic growth, with over 1,000 homes under construction and new commercial developments taking shape – and 2016 has started with a bang as Ashford continues its ambitious economic expansion. Ashford Borough Council’s hands-on approach is helping to drive forward

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key development opportunities, attracting a wealth of investors from across Kent and beyond and strengthening the town’s reputation for nurturing success and innovation. In the heart of the town, multimillion-pound plans to breathe life into a vacant 2.6 hectare (6.42 acre) brownfield site are set to deliver new

leisure facilities that will transform the night-time economy. Work is expected to start soon on phase one of the flagship Elwick Place scheme which includes a six-screen cinema, hotel, and eight restaurant / bars. The development complements the major investment that has already taken place in the County Square Shopping Centre and Elwick Road shared space project and represents a £75 million investment by UK developer Stanhope PLC. Phase two will consist of around 200 apartments. Quinn Estates, working alongside George Wilson Holdings, has announced plans for a new town centre office building next to Ashford International Station. The 80,000 sq ft office block, along Station Road, will be part of Ashford’s exciting new business hub.

Quinn Estates is talking to a number of businesses keen to take space in the first new office building in the Commercial Quarter, located in a prime position opposite Ashford International Station. It is stimulating major investment opportunities and will create several thousand jobs, 590,000 sq ft of office space and 150 homes. Further commercial development is under way at Ashford’s Orbital Park, where Salmon Harvester Properties’ £8 million Axiom scheme promises 55,000 sq ft in seven industrial units and warehouses which will be ready for occupation soon. Ashford’s Park Mall shopping centre is continuing with its regeneration plans, attracting a growing number of quality independent retailers and businesses.


SPOTLIGHTON...

Ashford by Numbers • 38 minutes from London • 1 hour 52 minutes away from Paris • 7,600 new jobs created between 2001 and 2011 • 1.7 million employees live within a 60-minute drive of the town • 84,000m2 of employment floor space created between 2009 and 2012 • Office rents 73% lower than in London • More than £100m of infrastructure investment planned over the next five years • 71% of people who travel to London do so using High Speed 1 • Ashford International Station is in the top 6% of busy stations in Britain • 3.3m passengers pass through Ashford International every year They include Made in Ashford, a collection of start-ups, which will be providing opportunities for local entrepreneurs to share retail space. Curious Drinks Limited, the beer and cider subsidiary of Ashford’s Chapel Down winery, is planning to build a state-of-the-art brewery and visitor attraction right in the heart of Ashford, enabling it to grow its domestic and international distribution. Ashford’s growth is also providing many businesses with the opportunity to expand or relocate

to the town – including one of the borough’s biggest success stories, Kent Space, which has brought forward plans to increase its serviced office and self-storage facilities in Kingsnorth Industrial Estate due to strong demand and a buoyant local economy. The extra facilities will bring the firm’s investment in the town to £5.5m. The former iconic Letraset building was refurbished by Kent Space in 2014 to provide 27 high-quality serviced office suites, two hi-tech meeting rooms and 300-plus selfstorage units. Now a further

30 serviced office suites and 250 storage units are planned. Global workspace provider Regus has also recognised Ashford as Kent’s most attractive business location, announcing that it is extending its network of centres by opening its first location in Ashford to meet growing demand for flexible, cost-effective workspace. The centre, located in The Panorama, opened recently and, thanks to Ashford’s unrivalled transport links, Regus expects the facility to attract a variety of local and national businesses.

Ashford’s excellent connectivity, along with competitive rents, has also proved a magnet for top creative agency Recursive Media, which has just relocated from Brighton. The agency is currently based in the town’s Park Mall, a 10-minute stroll from Ashford International Station, but it has already put its name down for space in the Commercial Quarter when the first phase of the development opens. All of this commercial development is being complemented by major housing developments across (Cont) Ashford.

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SPOTLIGHTON...

First-rate education and healthcare provision is also a key priority for Ashford, and construction work has begun on a new £16 million stateof-the-art Ashford College Campus – an ambitious project that will play a major part in the town’s future growth and prosperity. One Healthcare Ashford is an innovative new £30m hospital which has recently opened, creating 90 jobs. It is the first of a number of planned private hospitals across the UK to offer affordable private healthcare, delivered by leading specialists in a modern and purpose-built environment. With major developments continuing apace, Ashford remains the fastest growing town between London and the Continent, making infrastructure improvements vital. Ashford is renowned for its unrivalled location – only 38 minutes from London St Pancras and under two hours to Paris – and Highways England has

Leading property regeneration company U+I is planning 800 homes and new amenities across two sites in Ashford, bringing over 200 jobs to the area in the process and creating a new community on Victoria Way; while Crest Nicholson’s prime Finberry development, a brand new community on the south eastern outskirts of Ashford, continues to take shape. Since its launch in 2014, sales at Finberry have soared with buyers joining the waiting list ahead of properties being released. Once complete, the new community will comprise 1,180 homes, plus commercial space, a primary school, convenience store, restaurant, health centre, community centre and sports pitches. Work is also due to start soon on the 5,750-home development at Chilmington Green.

Ashford college engineering students focused on careers in the constuction industry Patricia Crawford reports Nine Level 3 engineering students from Ashford College’s Department of Sustainable Technologies were recently given a tour of the college’s new build site in Elwick Road. This heralded two very good news stories: firstly, BAM Construction, the contractors appointed for the first phase of the project, confirmed building is progressing on time. Secondly, the students who attended the event all confirmed their intention of entering the construction industry via apprenticeships or higher education. This is good news for Kent which is recording a severe shortage of graduate and skilled entrants to the industry. The event was attended by the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Geraldine Dyer, who emphasised the importance of the town having a brand new state-of-the-art college to fulfil community and industry needs. She said: “It is expected that the new college will increase skill levels and therefore lead to better employment opportunities for the residents of the borough whilst playing a pivotal role, alongside neighbouring development, in rejuvenating the town centre economy.” Chris Tyler, the college’s Work Placement Co-ordinator, commenting on the multiple

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benefits engineering students derive from real life working experience, said: “We are very grateful to all the employers who provide such excellent work placements. Our students are always very appreciative and enthusiastic about the information, help and guidance they are given.” Representatives from REME and Kineteco were amongst the employers who attended the event. Cllr Mike Bennett, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Development and Graham Galpin, Portfolio Holder for the Town Centre, represented Ashford Borough Council. Theresa Bruton (chair) and George Jessel represented Hadlow Group governors. Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Hadlow Group Director of Finance and Resources, commented: “I would like to express my appreciation to the Leader of Ashford Borough Council for the close working relationship and the capita support with the £3 million grant to ensure delivery of the first two key phases.”

finished consulting on the design of a proposed new junction 10a on the M20, which will unlock development potential and increase capacity. This diverse portfolio of development will continue to transform the Ashford landscape in

2016 – and with over £100 million of infrastructure improvements planned, there are many more opportunities to invest in Kent’s largest borough and become part of the Ashford success story as it continues to look to the future.

To learn more about business opportunities in Ashford, contact economicdevelopment@ashford.gov.uk or call 01233 330310 or visit www.ashfordfor.com


24 HOURSWITH 24HOURS

A day in the life of a Kent employment lawyer

Susanna Gilmartin is a lawyer and partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors which has offices in Tunbridge Wells and on the Crossways Business Park near Dartford.

Susanna Gilmartin

Susanna regularly speaks at events on employment law issues and provides training and updates on employment law. She also edits the teams monthly email update bulletin Workplace Law

Susanna provides advice on all employment law related matters and works for both employers and individuals. On any given day she may provide a MD of a small company that doesn’t have HR with advice on how to carry out a disciplinary investigation, provide employment support to our corporate team who are selling a company for several millions of pounds, advise an employee on how best to maximise a compensation payment they have been offered by their employer under a settlement agreement and draft a case management agenda to be lodged with the employment tribunal on a case that has been listed for a preliminary hearing. No two days are the same and no two clients are the same either. Susanna has been an employment lawyer for 15 years. She loves what she does because the people she deals with are often going through a very challenging time and she feels that the advice and assistance she gives can really make a difference and has a very positive impact. Susanna has been ranked in Chambers & Partners as a Leader in her Field in employment law since 2011 and has been praised by her clients because she is quick to respond, efficient and reassuring.

She is described by her clients as someone who in difficult and stressful times gives clients confidence and the support they need to make difficult and complex decisions. Susanna has been based in Thomson Snell & Passmore’s office on the Crossways Business Park for the past 20 months and moved there from the Tunbridge Wells office to develop and grow an employment team in the Thames Gateway. She currently has one employment lawyer and a trainee solicitor working with her. She is usually at her desk by 8.00am. First order of the day is a strong cup of coffee. She spends the first hour of most days working through the emails that she received overnight. She also checks and approves any work that has been done by junior team members so it can be sent to clients. Susanna generally spends the morning working on client matters which will often require her to spend quite a bit of time drafting email advices, corresponding or speaking with opponents on the other side as well as speaking with clients. Susanna spends at least an hour in the afternoon again checking and approving any work that has been done by junior members of the

team, talking through client issues with them and offering guidance on strategy and advice. Susanna tries to spend a part of her day doing some form of business development. She organises and runs a number of HR Clubs in Kent, one on the Crossways Business Park, another in Chatham and a third in Folkestone. She regularly speaks at events on employment law issues and provides training and updates on employment law. She also edits the teams monthly email update bulletin Workplace Law. Work however is unpredictable, so she could get a call from a client saying that they have just discovered that an employee who left them last week has joined a competitor and in breach of his post termination restrictions has poached some of their staff and clients and they want immediate action taken to stop this activity in which case everything that she might have planned to do that day will be put on hold for at least 24 hours. If you would like to receive Workplace Law or attend one of Susanna’s HR Clubs or have a free in-house employment update and brain storming session please contact charlotte.astridge@ts-p.co.uk

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MEMBERSNEWS

The benefits of outsourcing HR Nebulas is the UK’s largest independent cyber security service provider and employs 40 staff and a turnover of £25m.

They took on the services of Elstan HR in 2015 to help support them with day-to-day HR issues as well as their longer term people strategy. What led you to seek HR support initially? We had a couple of HR issues that we had to address but we also knew that we needed to review our practices and policies too. Our customers also ask about employment practices and processes it’s common to be asked so we know that by being proactive in our people management we are also more attractive to potential customers. What are the biggest benefits of having access to outsourced HR support? With Elstan HR we have access to in-depth expertise and knowledge so we can discuss what best practice looks like and how that might affect our business.

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We want to ensure we are supporting our employees in the best way we can and it’s really important to have confidence in our business that we are legally compliant – It’s so easy to get it wrong when you're dealing with people. How do you see your need for HR support developing in the future? We’re expecting considerable growth in the business and a 25% increase in headcount in the next 18 months and therefore our need for HR will grow too. Have you saved time or money using an outsourced HR service? With Elstan HR we have access to the expertise and knowledge as and when we need it. It offers great flexibility and with the on-demand model we are only paying for those skills as and when we need it without compromising our access to the right level of support and knowledge.


MEMBERSNEWS

National Living Wage what employers need to know From April 2016 the National Living Wage comes into force but how much do you really know?

‘Top Tips’ to Successful Flexible Job Design and People Selection

The adoption of flexible working within your business requires a little thought and consideration to ensure you benefit from the improved productivity and cost effectiveness it has to offer. These tips will help you on your journey to successfully implementing flexible working:

1. Develop an accurate job description

What is the National Living Wage? The National Living Wage (NLW) is not the same thing as the Living Wage. The NLW is a new compulsory minimum wage for people 25 years old and over whereas the Living Wage is a recommendation by the Living Wage foundation of a sum of money which they believe a person can live on. The NLW means that any member of staff whether they are permanent employees, casual workers, zero hour workers, contractors, agency staff or part time staff must be paid a minimum of £7.20 per hour if they are over 25 years old. Already paying above £7.20 per hour Even if your business pays its staff in excess the National Living Wage it may be worth reviewing your payroll because £7.20 per hour must be the figure the employee receives after any salary sacrifice. What is salary sacrifice? Salary sacrifice are deductions (not including tax and national insurance contributions). They commonly include company loans, childcare vouchers and pensions so it is worth visiting these arrangements again especially if you have recently rolled out the new auto pension enrolment. Have other Employment Law queries? If you have other Employment Law queries or you have been notified about an employment tribunal claim against you. You can visit Orchard Employment Law at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or call 01634 564136. @jemmafairhay Disclaimer This article contains general information. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.

This is something that’s often neglected by employers but with flexible working it is as important as a full-time role. It helps you to identify which elements of the job might affect the number of days, hours and format of the flexible pattern. For example, day to day operational pressures may require daily presence and the monthly deadlines offers more flexibility for most of the month but time pressures at month-end.

2. Define the flexible format

What flexible working format would suit the job best? There is a variety of formats that offers flexibility to the employee and reduces costs to the employer. From the classic ‘part-time week’ to reduced daily hours (that works with most types of job) or a nine-day fortnight, there is a choice of formats that will suit your requirements.

3. Estimate the volume of work

If the job existed before but the scope or workload has reduced you may be able to estimate how many hours a week or month is needed for the flexible role. If you’re unsure, discuss it with the candidates during the interviews. Many people have some flexibility on the hours and days they can work.

4. Make sure it works for the team

How will the part-time presence of a new employee affect the productivity of the rest of the team? Discuss the flexible format and the reasons behind it with the team in advance. If you have the job design right there shouldn’t be a problem integrating a new person and it will make the new employee’s early induction much easier.

5. Don’t forget to recruit the right person for the job

Competency, experience and personality are more important than the hours the candidate can do. These must come first as no amount of hours will make the wrong person right for the job. Many clients find they then can access a higher level of skills and experience from the flexible working community and so take advantage of it.

Flexible working can help you grow your business with talented professionals. How do I know? Because that is how I have grown our business here at Ten2Two. If you're like me you will have collected roles and responsibilities along the way which are not your forte. This takes up precious time where you could be more effective and productive elsewhere.

How often do you find yourself doing some social media, marketing, administration, book keeping, or data management? When you should really be making those sales calls, client appointments, and networking meeting?

After realising just how much time I was wasting every week I decided I had to take some action. I have now recruited a fantastic operations administrator who gives me more time to concentrate my efforts on what I am best at, filling my clients’ vacancies with talented staff and meeting new businesses.

Whilst the role was critical to business growth it was not big enough to justify a full time person. Lorraine has a fantastic background and has many attributes that add value to our business, she works 15 hours per week giving me enough coverage and freeing up enough of my time to look after my clients. These hours equate to 40% of a full time salary which I have found is a great investment. If you're thinking about finding your very own Lorraine we have a whole army of professionals with many different skills ready and waiting to help. Call us on +44 (0)1732 759849 or email andrea@ten2two.org.

www.ten2two.org

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COVERFEATURERECRUITMENT

Just the job for Jo HR GO Recruitment was founded nearly 60 years ago in Dartford. It is Kent’s largest and longest-established recruitment group, still owned by the same family, yet now a national company. Trevor Sturgess spoke to Kent regional director Jo Anne Smith and chairman Jack Parkinson about the business and industry prospects.

Team spirit: HR GO Recruitment's Kent-based area managers with Jo Anne Smith, Kent director, back row, second right

Since Betty Parkinson founded Parkinson Staff Bureau (PSB) in Dartford in 1957, it has placed tens of thousands of permanent and temporary workers, and found the right applicants for hundreds of clients.

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

“Because I was so young, I had a lot to prove,” she recalls. “But I learned quickly that leading by example and making things happen was a critical management trait that fostered respect from a team. And I got a lot of support from the established HR GO management.” In 2005, Jo left HR GO to “see what other agencies had to offer,” an experience that proved invaluable in terms of understanding different sectors and disciplines. Two years later, Jo was invited back to her HR GO roots in a senior management role and embraced the opportunity. HR GO is the largest and longestestablished recruitment business in Kent. Since Betty Parkinson founded Parkinson Staff Bureau (PSB) in Dartford in 1957, it has placed tens of thousands of permanent and temporary workers, and found the right applicants for hundreds of clients. While its origins lie in Kent – it has eight branches across the county and a head office in Ashford - HR GO Recruitment is a thriving national company, with a Jo Anne Smith entered the world of further 20 offices and hundreds of staff recruitment 16 years ago. across the UK. She stepped across the threshold of Since 1977, Kent-based PSB – now HR GO – looking Jack Parkinson, for a job. She went to the right place. Betty’s son, has As an inexperienced graduate, Jo thought steered the that almost any job would do. company, Two interviews and a job offer later, she expanding its was on the first rung of the recruitment interests and career ladder as a consultant for specialist temporary staff. There followed three enterprises. years managing a successful temp HR GO is proud desk in Ramsgate. Jack Parkinson, company of its reputation chairman, HR GO plc She had found her niche. Recruitment for reliability, (Photo: Matthew White) proved just the job for Jo. In 2003, at high-level just 23, she was promoted to branch performance and a proven track record of manager at Folkestone. delivering for clients and candidates.


COVERFEATURERECRUITMENT Turnover for the group is now approaching £100 million and HR GO operates a number of different recruitment brands from branches across the nation, from Liverpool to Bristol, Doncaster to Glasgow, Northampton to Newcastle. Jack has brought innovation and strategic thinking to recruitment, promoting joint ventures as a successful way of growing the business while sharing a stake with enterprising managers. “We encourage all staff to be entrepreneurial,” he says. “A JV gives them an incentive to be even more innovative and successful, with a greater opportunity for bigger rewards for themselves and their teams.

hundreds of permanent candidates. Many professional and technical people are placed through HR GO’s Exectec executive recruitment business. The Kent operation is performing strongly, with three-figure turnover growth since 2010. Jo said: “The recruitment and jobs market is very strong at the moment. After the years of recession, the buzz is back. We grew through the recession and continue to grow as the economy improves and we move into exciting new markets. “We’ve continued to grow our market share in commercial, industrial and technical sectors, and have also focused on the food sector. We are

Hugo Fenwick, High Sheriff of Kent 2014-2015 chats to Jo Anne Smith, HR GO Recruitment Kent director, in Ashford. (Photo: Matthew White)

“Our business is all about people but it also has to respond quickly to changes in the economy and the local jobs market.” That’s what Jo is doing in Kent. HR GO’s newest office is at Discovery Park, Sandwich, the former home of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and now a high-tech campus. “We are delighted to be part of Discovery Park,” Jo said. “It’s a vibrant place with an increasing number of employers and more than 2,000 employees. We are on site to provide the high-quality recruitment services that employers need.” It joins other Kent branches in Ramsgate, Canterbury, Folkestone, Ashford, Chatham, Dartford and Sittingbourne. Jo manages a 31-strong team, with an average length of service of five years; an eight-branch network and a portfolio of large accounts, including Thanet Earth, the high-tech environmentally-friendly greenhouse complex specialising in tomato, cucumber and pepper production. Jo’s team find jobs for thousands of people daily and the ideal role for

based in the Garden of England and we take advantage of our branch network to enable us to provide high volumes of workers at very short notice. “We work hard to make sure we offer the best service to clients and candidates. I enjoy working with a team of talented recruiters. I believe in extending and demonstrating a positive work placement experience where dignity and respect for all candidates’ expectations are given high priority. Staff and candidates have all contributed to the success of many organisations across Kent.” Jo has received many testimonials from satisfied clients, and hosted VIP visits. Hugo Fenwick, the High Sheriff of Kent in 2014-15 toured HR GO’s operations in Ashford, meeting Jo and asking her about the business. “I was delighted to see such a flourishing business headquartered in Ashford,” he said. When Jo is not managing or recruiting, she relaxes by walking her dog in all weathers, loves travelling and supporting high-flying Premiership football team Tottenham Hotspur.

Customer focus: Jo Anne Smith, right, with, from left, Tjarda Thomas and Emma Bullock of Thanet Earth, and Lee-Ann Powell, HR GO Recruitment branch manager (Ramsgate) (Photo: Matthew White)

RECRUITMENT OUTLOOK Jo is optimistic for the future. “The Kent jobs market is flourishing and we’re growing our team to meet the demand for new people – particularly in new office roles. We have taken on three additional consultants and in the first quarter of 2016, placed 51% more people in permanent jobs in Kent companies than we did in Q1 2015. “Low unemployment makes it harder to find candidates but our consultants and managers are tenacious and skilled in seeking out talent. “Our market share and strong reputation in Kent attract excellent candidates. In recent years, a number of other agencies closed branches. We kept ours open because we believe our branch network ensures we place local people in local jobs. “Throughout my career, so-called experts have predicted the end of generalist high street recruitment agencies but there are always people who prefer the personal face-to-face service we are able to offer. “People are constantly moving jobs to develop their careers and companies will want these positions filled. Employers will continue to expand and contract. We are adapting by using

more automation and online services such as our website and social media, but without losing the personal touch. “The National Living Wage is positive for low earners but I fear it could reduce jobs in businesses with low margins. I hope cutting jobs will be a last resort, with priority given to boosting efficiency and sales. “Investment in technology may reduce demand for staff but organisations generally have to invest significantly for it to make an impact. “The outcome of the EU referendum will affect the recruitment industry as a lot of legislative changes come from Europe, but so do many skilled and talented workers/ candidates. Whatever the voters decide we will be ready to help our customers adapt. “Overall, I am extremely positive about our industry, especially in Kent. It’s exciting and I love every minute.” MORE INFORMATION Please contact: Jo Anne Smith, Regional Director, HR GO Recruitment – Kent 07713680835. joanne.smith@hrgo.co.uk www.hrgo.co.uk. www.exectecsolutions.co.uk

Jo Anne Smith, left, with Tjarda Thomas, Thanet Earth production director, Lee-Ann Powell, HR GO Recruitment branch manager (Ramsgate,) and Emma Bullock, Thanet Earth HR manager. (Photo: Matthew White)

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COVERFEATURERECRUITMENT

Identifying the right people to take your company forward When it comes to selecting the right member of staff and securing loyal, hard-working creative people, companies need all the help that they can get. Their role does not just stop at recruitment, either, it extends to training and personal development. Well trained employees are invaluable to the success of a business, particularly when trading conditions are tough. In today's business landscape, training can be the difference between a company surviving and a business that takes advantage of the opportunities as they open up. Train your staff to spot those opportunities and anything is possible So investing in training is important, leading to: • Improved recruiting. A reputation for training staff is likely to attract a better calibre of applicant.

That means using the HR and recruitment industry, which specialises in helping businesses select the right people. Using a professional recruitment company makes a lot of sense for an employer because it takes the pain out of the process as the specialists handle everything from the advertising of posts to the analysis of applications. Recruitment companies also help businesses conduct the interview process, advising them on what

to look for and how to select the best candidate as well as identifying key questions to ask. However, their role is even more fundamental than that because they are involved right from the start of the process, right from the moment when the vacancy arises. The reason recruitment companies are so valued is that they have extensive databases of people who are available for work.

• Holding onto staff. When people know that a company believes in their personal development, they are more likely to stay with that company for a longer period of time. Some managers complain that they train staff who then leave. Well, it does happen but you lessen the chances if staff see their chances for advancement with their current employer. • Improved output. A well trained team that wants to stay with company produces stability and results in a more productive, enthusiastic and motivated workforce.

Well trained employees are invaluable to the success of a business, particularly when trading conditions are tough.

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But, how can this be achieved? Here’s a checklist: • Start at the top. All layers of the company must believe that training is important and be committed to developing a learning atmosphere. Senior managers should lead the way in this, showing how highly they value training. • Fitting in with the company’s aims. Training should fit in with the company's strategic plan. Training should help employees develop both technical mastery and interpersonal skills such as effective communication, dispute resolution, quality management and team building, and it should be wrapped up within the company’s strategy for growth. • Finding out what is needed. Designing a training strategy should begin with an accurate assessment of what you do well and what needs improvement. Ask tough questions: what is holding your team back? What skills do your people lack? What do they need to do the job better? • Get the delivery right. There are many ways to deliver training – classroom, mentoring, computerassisted and web-enabled. Choose the most effective delivery method for your team given your objectives.


COVERFEATURERECRUITMENT

Government throws support The new behind apprenticeships programme National

For employers, apprenticeships present the perfect opportunity to find the next generation of young workers.

Living Wage

The new National Living Wage is set to come into force on 1st April 2016 - introducing a mandatory minimum rate of pay for workers aged 25 and over, of £7.20 per hour Although the rate has a new name (National Living Wage), essentially the Government has simply introduced another pay band to the existing National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates of pay. Currently the NMW bands are: • £6.70 per hour for workers aged 21 and over • £5.30 per hour for workers aged between 18 and 20 • £3.30 for apprentices aged between 16 and 18 and those aged 19 if they are in the first year of their apprenticeship. From the 1st April there will be an additional rate: • £7.20 per hour for workers aged 25 and over (called the National Living Wage)

What’s more, taking part in the programme is something actively supported by Government ministers. With more than 80 different types of apprenticeship available, covering everything from Providing Financial Services to Creative and Digital Media, Modern Apprenticeships now

go far beyond traditional trades and offer a great career start for both men and women. For employers of all sizes looking to attract new young talent, fill vacancies or simply plan for the future, Modern Apprenticeships offer a great way of ensuring their

business has the skills it needs to grow. Three quarters of Modern Apprentice employers report improved productivity as a result of employing apprentices, while 71 per cent said Modern Apprentices improved service or product quality – so the benefits to businesses are clear.

A common-sense approach

HR Clinic offers you a comprehensive advisory service on employing people and in resolving problems which arise in the workplace. The emphasis is on providing a common-sense, practical and supportive approach to you as employers to enable you to satisfactorily address issues which occur from time to time amongst your employees. The consultancy is run by Mike Pearson who provides a unique service, drawing on his many years as an HR practitioner at Director level in large organisations, his expertise in employee relations, and his in-depth knowledge of employment law from his many years of hearing over 250 cases in Employment Tribunals. In addition Mike can provide assessments to assist you in the selection of managers/employees, and draft procedures on a wide range of employment topics.

Whilst directly helping organisations which do not have an HR person or function, Mike also offers advice to your own staff responsible for Personnel or HR matters as a support to them in handling difficult situations. Mike’s recent assignments have included advising Directors of two small/medium companies on handling difficulties with individual employees, providing guidance in the handling of a redundancy situation, and supporting a charity in how to deal with the people issues arising from a merger. Call or email Mike for a quick response to your problem or HR needs on 01303 269557 or at mike.hrclinic@gmail.com

The National Living Wage is compulsory! Some uncertainty has been caused by the fact that the new rate is referred to as the National Living Wage which should not be confused with the Living Wage. The Living Wage is a voluntary rate of pay which is promoted by the Living Wage Foundation to reflect what has been assessed as the rate a worker needs to be paid to cover the basic cost of living. These are currently £9.40 for London and £8.25 for the rest of the country. However employers must by law pay the National Living Wage and a failure to do so will put them in breach of the NMW legislation and liable to serious sanctions: • A penalty of 100% of the underpayment subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £20,000 • Criminal proceedings • Naming and shaming For further information on changes to the National Living Wage and for any enquiries visit www. tunbridgewells@select.co.uk

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Visit our stand at Kent Vision Live on 11th May 2016 at the Detling Showground, Kent for a chance to win a Kindle Fire 8HD

Advice, support and Representation

If you are an employer who needs Employment Tribunal Representation, day to day HR advice, support in HR meetings such as disciplinary and grievance meetings ordocumentation such as employment contracts and policies, Orchard Employment Law would love to help.

For further information, please contact Jemma Fairclough-Haynes for your specialist employment law advice on

01634 564136

www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk @jemmafairhay

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INDUSTRYCOMMENT

The changing face of HR and Recruitment The acquisition, development and reward of workers is a central focus of human resources management and is an important factor for HR Managers, although in the modern business it is often a supervisor, or line manager who would make selection decisions, meaning HR managers may now play more of a supporting advisory role to managers who may supervise or work with a new employee. This causes additional workloads for the HR department, who then have to process leaving documentation and begin the recruitment process again. The implementation of the National Living Wage from 1 April 2016 has further enhanced the hourly rate of pay for operatives over the age of 25 and in addition to the National Minimum Wage increases over the past few years, has indicated staff turnover has levelled or reduced over recent years. Employees are now able to enjoy a guaranteed wage and benefit from the training programmes provided by KM Cleaning Services Plc who invest time in training and advocate promotion from within the existing team, to ensure commitment and continuity of service to clients.

For the HR Managers role to remain effective, it is important to consider teamwork, ongoing support and consultation between the line managers and the HR manager, as they will be able to communicate up to date legal responsibilities, knowledge and skill bases. Recruitment and selection is undertaken by a number of different factors and has an important role to play in ensuring worker performance and the best outcome for the employer and employee combined. It is not always the case that the selection of a worker should be to replace the person who is leaving, but to select workers who can perform at a high level and be committed to their role within the workplace.

Whilst these factors are important in relation to office based employees, service industries often suffer a high turnover of staff, with remuneration playing an important factor and operatives using positions as a ‘stepping stone’ to better employment opportunities. It is common within the lower paid industries, for employees to leave at short notice when offered employment elsewhere which offers more enhanced benefits.

KM Cleaning Services Plc employ a wide range of operatives throughout London and the South East, and recruiting operatives is undertaken using a number of methods. Supervisors and more managerial roles are advertised often through recruitment agencies, whereby the agency would filter requirements and create a pool of capable people eligible for selection and interview by the HR manager. Other roles may be advertised online, or with local employment centres. Often the selection process for cleaning

operatives is undertaken by supervisors in the area, who will assess suitability for the role and check documentation to ensure the applicant has the right to work in the UK. These documents are then passed to the HR management team who will confirm details and prepare employment documentation for the successful applicants. These methods of recruitment and selection, can play an important part of shaping and organisation’s performance and effectiveness. If we are able to recruit workers who already possess relevant skills, knowledge and aptitude, we can effectively avoid unnecessary recruitment costs. The use of the internet is one of the most significant developments in the recruitment field of recent years and a CIPD survey in 2007 suggests that this is now the employers preferred way of attracting applicants for positions, with 75% of companies using their own corporate website as their most common method of advertising. This does not indicate the production of better quality candidates, but does tend to attract more applications, which in turn made it easier to find the right candidate.

KM Cleaning Services PLC Canterbury House, Waterside Court, Neptune Way, Medway City Estate, Rochester, Kent ME2 4NZ Telephone 0800 468 1900 www.kmcleaningservices.co.uk

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BIGINTERVIEW

BIGINTERVIEW

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Company targets growth in fast growing industry Few, if any, business sectors move as rapidly as communications and one of the businesses proving itself adept at taking advantage of the opportunities opening up is Kent-based Astro Communications.

The fast-growing Dartford company has set itself some ambitious targets to achieve by 2020 following two years in which it transformed its approach to business. Astro Communications, which is into its fourth decade, specialises in designing, deploying and managing of end-to-end communications and networking solutions. Tasked with overseeing its growth is Managing Director Steve Hodges, who came to the job three years ago with more than 18 years’ experience in the telecommunication and IT sectors. Prior to joining Astro he held senior sales and operational roles including four years at the business to business ISP Timico, transforming its sales strategy. Before that, he spent three years as the Operations and Delivery Director at ICT Infrastructure and Managed Service Provider


BIGINTERVIEW

This is a fast-moving industry but we never lose sight of the need for good customer service. We’ll continue to grow Astro but remain committed to delivering a first class customer experience, technical excellence and value for money.

Ramesys (now Capita) delivering projects for organisations such as Galliford Try Services, Freeth Cartwright Solicitors and Westminster City Council. In his role as MD, Steve is involved in every aspect of running the business and he said: “My initial remit on coming into the job was to stabilise and restructure the business then look to double the size of the company. We have since revised this growth aspiration to increase the turnover of the business three-fold by 2020. “Astro had already been highly successful for many years but it was felt that there was the potential to do more. Key to what we do is identify the technologies on which we should concentrate. “We receive a call a day from businesses offering the latest technologies but it is such a fastmoving field that we have to choose one or two on which to concentrate. If we embraced every new technology that comes along we would spend all our time on courses.” Currently, that has meant focusing a lot on ‘Cloud’ and wireless technologies, two key areas that customers are currently looking at more seriously.

Dartford-based Astro was established in 1984 by two of its current owners, Steve Smith and Rob Trollope, who at that time worked for Cable & Wireless. They saw the industry’s focus shifting more towards technology rather than the customer experience, and believed that to be successful the two must go hand in hand.

Steve said: “Although top line revenue is important to us as an enabler for our development, we’re also focusing on the proportion of our business that’s made up of recurring revenue which has grown from 10 per cent to 30 per cent over the last two years, and we hope to get it up to 50 per cent by the end of 2016.

To achieve its aim, Astro has recently undergone a two-year transformation programme, migrating from project-centric revenues in favour of recurring revenues.

“Repeat business and customer longevity are key measures for us. By the end of 2017 we will have doubled the size of the business I joined and we have more ambitious plans that form part of our 2020 vision.

Steve said: “Moving from an up-front model to a drip-fed one while taking on new members of the team and investing in core infrastructure so we could become a fully independent ISP has been hard work at times, but very rewarding. “We’ve built an incredible platform for moving us forward. Maintaining our independence and adapting to the changing landscape of our industry has been our greatest source of success.” The company achieved £3 million revenues last year, representing more than 30 per cent growth on the previous year and Steve expects £4 million this year en route to £10m by 2020.

“We cover all technologies from cabling to ‘cloud’ applications and genuinely pick the best solutions for our customers’ needs. We are really excited by developments with wireless technologies at the moment; there are offices now without network connection points on the desks. Effective wireless networking is transforming communications and, in turn, the way that people choose to work. “This is a fast-moving industry but we never lose sight of the need for good customer service. We’ll continue to grow Astro but remain committed to delivering a first class customer experience, technical excellence and value for money.

“I am confident that Astro will continue to develop our proposition and enjoy the positive impact this will have on our growth. That is the most fantastic thing about our industry. Our client list is growing every month, mainly through customer referrals, and we’re attracting some fabulous talent to the business to support our future transformation.” Astro, which now has 24 employees and a team of ten contractors, is targeting Kent for much of its growth, having benefited from a Kent Regional Development Fund ‘Tiger’ grant which allowed the company to create its own ISP core network. Steve said: “We certainly see ourselves doing more in Kent as we expand. “We are privileged to be part of such a dynamic industry. There are not many other markets where the fast paced, highly progressive and developmental nature of what we achieve directly impacts and improves so many peoples’ businesses and lives in general. We see huge potential benefit in bringing this, along with our own brand of first class customer care, to Kent-Based businesses.”

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Solving business challenges

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MEMBERSNEWS

Signs of a busy year ahead SEC Signworks have been on hand to transform signage for several businesses over the past few months. We completed a frosted window manifestation & wall graphics with a difference for TDM Recruitment at 2 Jubilee Way, Faversham. TDM Recruitment is a leading recruitment consultancy within the property development and built environment. We will be returning to their premises in the next few weeks to install Acrylic plaque panels & folded aluminium tray signs.

When Chaucer Insurance's UK motor business was recently acquired by Markerstudy, they needed to rebrand their Whitstable headquarters accordingly & the whole project had to be turned around from concept to completion in just over 5 working days. This included post mounted wayfinding signs, car park signs, delivery point signs as well as wall mounted tray panels, no less than 18 frosted window graphics... & even a batch of 8 aluminium cladding panels for their wrought iron gates.

Last year we completed van graphics for Jason Shuter of Eden Telecommunications. Jason found himself in need of a larger van as his business expanded, so we removed the graphics from his old Astra van and wrapped the rear doors of his new Ford Transit Connect! Please remember you can find details of all our services at www.secsignworks.com or by visiting our Facebook page www.facebook.com/secsignworks

Gullands joins forces with Professional Women in Business Gullands Solicitors are now leading the Professional Women in Business networking events in Gravesend after teaming up with Basepoint Northfleet, British Heat Foundation and Gravesham Borough Council to become the new hosting partnership. Rina Pattar, Associate at Gullands Solicitors’ Gravesend office, assists in organising and co-hosts the meeting having herself been a keen attendee since 2014. The events provide an effective platform for both women in business and professions within Gravesham and wider Kent to meet, share ideas and experiences and to learn as well as the opportunity to do business together. Since 2012, this well established networking group has hosted an array of thought-provoking speakers and presentations from a diverse range of businesses and industries. The not-for-profit events are open to all business women who wish to build their businesses, help others in business or develop and share their skills. The attendance fee, which is to be paid upon arrival, is £7.50 of which £1.50 goes towards the British Heart Foundation. Rina Pattar said: “I have personally found this group to be a great supportive network of women in local businesses from a variety of professions. It is open to all women in business and is a great informal networking opportunity, which not only offers support to professional women but also benefits a cause close to my heart.”

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MEMBERSNEWS

Sound Kent rowers set new pairs record in advice the World’s Toughest Rowing Race

For 15 years, LEBC Group has been providing sound, reliable financial advice. In 2015 it stretched its national reach into Kent to help provide individuals and businesses with financial planning for their future.

Our team in Kent has accumulated over 100 years of experience in complex financial planning including specialists in inheritance tax planning, investments, mortgages, later life care fee funding, group risk and protection. We are also at the forefront of pensions advice for individuals and businesses across Kent with a looming automatic-enrolment deadline, aiming to provide the best all-round package to ensure businesses meet their duties. All meetings and discussions are held in a conversational and friendly way, as each financial planner aims to get past the jargon and speak on a personal, understandable level. With our bespoke service and fees, which is tailored to suit each of our clients, we can provide advice that varies depending on each person’s own personal wants and needs and to establish short and long term goals. Inspiring, caring and trusted, LEBC offer the insight to understand the needs of today, and the foresight to meet requirements tomorrow. We pride ourselves on treating clients as people and not someone to sell to. Whether it’s approaching retirement and need help assessing the array of different options available, want to help children or grandchildren attain their financial goals, looking for a bespoke long-term investment portfolio, or would just like a financial MOT, LEBC’s Maidstone office will offer an understandable, professional expert and friendly service.

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Kent duo Dan Parsons (30) and Captain Olly Clark (31) set the new Pairs Class record in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, by completing the 3,000 mile crossing from the Canary Islands to Antigua in 42 days, 17 hours and 59 minutes in their ocean rowing boat. They smashed the previous record of 53 days, 9 hours, 30 minutes by more than 10 days. Described as taking part in ‘the toughest rowing race on earth’, the team were sponsored by the Ashford based RIFT Group and have raised more than £80,000 for their chosen charities Prostate Cancer UK and ABF, The Solider’s Charity. Dan said: “This is first time I’ve taken on challenge to this scale. We’ve experienced 30-40kn storms, a near miss with a cargo ship, a night capsize, horrific hallucinations from sleep deprivation, regular power failures that meant no water and auto-helm, and the most horrendous bottom sores! But we’ve also raised a huge amount of money for charity, so it was definitely worth it.” Captain Olly Clark, of the Royal Engineers, said: “During our darkest times, we maintained morale by reading messages from our family and friends. We could not have completed this challenge without the constant support we’ve received - from our sponsors and friends before the challenge started and while we were in the middle of the

Atlantic - we are forever in your debt.” Jan Post, MD of RIFT Group, said: “If anyone epitomises the determination and teamwork it takes to succeed against the odds, it's the men and women of the armed forces. When we heard that local boys Olly and Dan would be taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, we jumped at the opportunity to roll our sleeves up and get involved.” James Beeby, Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We would like to thank Dan and Olly for taking part in this extraordinary challenge for

Prostate Cancer UK. By doing this they have joined the charities Men United army of supporters, all helping to make a real difference in furthering the fight against prostate cancer.” Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff ABF The Soldiers’ Charity said: “Olly and Dan have really done the charity proud for their tremendous efforts. Undertaking such a huge task as this alone speaks volumes for their courage and determination, yet they both have had to do this battle against major storms and capsize.”

Hobbs Parker’s property team rising to challenge

Hobbs Parker Property Consultants, based in Ashford, has made a number of changes to its senior management team. Sam Snart, who has been with the firm of land agents, surveyors and planners since 1999, has been appointed Managing Director to work alongside Jon Rimmer, Chairman of the Hobbs Parker Group. Jon will continue with his normal professional casework and work more closely with the firm’s planning team, and advise the growing number of major landowners and developers calling on their advice. “It’s the perfect time to hand the reins over to Sam who will lead the 14-strong team of land agents, surveyors and planning advisers. 2016 has already started strongly in terms of instructions, and despite concerns over the stability of the global economy we are anticipating a busy year,” said Jon. The firm has also promoted Matthew Sawdon to the position of Director. He joined in 2003 from Harper Adams

University and subsequently qualified as chartered surveyor in 2005. Matthew now takes the lead role in the firm’s valuation, tenancy and CAP and policy support. Sam added: “With many in the farming community feeling the effects of low prices across all agricultural sectors, it is essential that they can manage the short term pressure associated with price volatility, but looking longer term, consider what opportunities might exist to make their business more robust. “With many clients reviewing their current business arrangements and examining their property and land portfolios, there is a growing demand for seamless advice from finance, through to valuation, sale or planning approval, in order to reduce the impact of issues beyond their control.” To meet the growing demand for planning advice and the potential for residential and commercial development

across Kent, Hobbs Parker Property Consultants has added to its team. Steve Davies has joined as a Senior Planning Consultant and brings with him more than 28 years of senior planning experience gained at Canterbury City Council and local authorities in Northamptonshire. David Jarman, who has been with Hobbs Parker Property Consultants since 2007 and is very well known in the development community across the county, will take on a consultancy role for a number of the firm’s planning and development clients.


BUSINESSNEWS

Maidstone could be home to two Waitrose stores Maidstone residents could have two Waitrose stores to choose from, and the town could benefit from up to 200 new jobs, as the retailer has joined forces with local firm Gallagher Group to put forward proposals for a new store at Eclipse Park, near junction 7 of the M20. The retailer, part of the John Lewis Partnership, has traded in the town for nearly half a century. It has committed itself to retaining its existing Allington Park store and 140 employees, known in its business as Partners, alongside the proposed new one at Eclipse Park. As part of the proposals, Waitrose and Gallagher Group will be consulting the local community and obtaining their views. A leaflet will be distributed to local residents and www.waitrosemaidstone.co.uk has been developed. The proposed new store would have a sales area of 29,000ft2 and offer up to 200 new jobs when it opens. It would also support 200 construction jobs during the 12-month build and landscape programme. If approved the new Waitrose store could open its doors in early 2018.

Jonathan Banham of Waitrose, said: “Waitrose has a long-standing ambition to serve a larger proportion of the Maidstone community and add to our existing branch in Allington Park, which has served customers for more than 45 years.

“The location has been identified as the only one in, or near, Maidstone that would enable us to sustain two stores in the town. Every alternative site in the town centre would pull customers from the Allington Park store, making it unviable.”

“We believe that the proposals brought forward by Gallagher Properties for Eclipse Park offer an exciting opportunity to generate new investment in the town which can deliver more choice and new jobs for local people.”

Packed for Success An independent retail and business postal service which started at Kings Hill, near Maidstone, is going from strength to strength, extending its lease on the business park and planning to expand further. Post and Packing, which offers packing, storage, fulfilment, PO box rental, e-drop shop and business support as well as normal postal services, is owned by Kings Hill businessmen Hugh Furness and Martyn Filby who bought the business from its previous owners three years ago. The company has now extended the lease on its premises at 5 Liberty Square for a further five years and, having already acquired a further five outlets in the last three years, is looking to expand ‘quite aggressively’. As well as the Post and Packing shops in Kings Hill, Tunbridge Wells and Sandwich the company has a franchise operation in Acton, Croydon and Welling. “We are planning to open a number of shops locally – including

Tonbridge, Gravesend and Maidstone as well as shops around the outskirts of London,” said Martyn Filby, who also owns Kings Hill-based Scanbar Technology. “But Kings Hill is where the company started and we love being here. “We are in a great location in Liberty Square and have loyal customers in both the business and residential communities. We enjoy the community feel that Kings Hill provides and one of the best things for me is when I am in the shop and hear customers and manager Mike on first name terms.” Andrew Blevins, managing director of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust, said: “At a time when post offices have been closing it provides an alternative that is much appreciated by our growing population.”

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Get in touch to find out more Tel: 01634 649009 Email: info@thebodytherapycompany.co.uk Website: thebodytherapycompany.co.uk

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MEMBERSNEWS

Discovery Park shares secret of success in new toolkit for UK life sciences Discovery Park is not only doing its bit to encourage investment, skills development and job creation for East Kent.

Smile while you Dial Louise Carter is an experienced sales and marketing professional who specialises in bespoke training for SME's in telephone skills , customer care excellence, effective communication and reception skills. In addition Smile While You Dial can provide support with a variety of business development projects, including client surveys, event and exhibition assistance and targeted sales campaign follow up. Training can be delivered in a workshop style either on a one to one basis or in groups, and is carried out on a company's premises or at other venues at a time that suits the client. Before developing her own business over 10 years ago, Louise worked for several international logistics companies in telephone marketing. She has carried out a variety of training and consultancy work for clients in many industrial and commercial sectors including banking, manufacturing, distribution and education. Louise believes that training does matter in all aspects of business, especially where interaction with customers is concerned. Relationships with customers affect the very essence of business success- the difference between a one off sale or a long term customer. For further information or to arrange a no obligation meeting, please contact Louise louisecarter@smilewhileyoudial.com www.smilewhileyoudial.com

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The leading science and technology park is also supporting science sector growth across the UK. The UK has one of the strongest, most dynamic and globally competitive life science industries in the world that generates annual turnover of more than £50 billion, employs over 180,000 people and ranks high in Europe for attracting foreign, direct investment. And a new report ‘Transforming UK Life Science Sites – A Toolkit for Action’, produced by leaders in the life sciences sector, including the team at Discovery Pak, hopes to offers support to other areas with underused or vacant science site sites.

The Government-endorsed report offers a single first source of information and advice for councils, local enterprise partnerships and others involved in the life science sector, sharing best practice from the UK and around the world. In his foreword to the report, George Freeman, MP for Life Science highlights the experience of Discovery Park and how constructive early discussions ultimately paid dividends when Pfizer took the decision to downsize its operation. The creation of a multi-business pharma campus has helped to preserve much of the expertise that existed on site under its previous ownership and maintain Discovery

Park’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading business parks for science and technology. The report gives examples of the rapid growth of a number of companies on site, including Mylan, a US-owned pharma company which has grown its staff from 27 in 2012 to over 200 in 2015. Kreston Reeves, an example of a growing number of support businesses on site, has grown its team from three to 30 since 2013. Paul Barber, Managing Director for Discovery Park, said: “This new tool kit not only shares our story and those of other leading science parks across the UK, but offers those areas who may be facing similar issues to those faced in Sandwich five years ago, when Pfizer announced its decision to sell the site. “Nearly four years on we have more than 125 businesses on site, employing 2,400 people following an approach built on collaboration between all the sectors on site to encourage innovation, build the area’s skills base and create more jobs.” Other contributors to the report included Kent County Council, Invest in Dover, Biocity, Cheshire East Council, MSP in Manchester, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Office for Life Sciences.

ITL upgrades UK facility to double PCB manufacturing capacity Manufacturer ITL has launched a high volume PCB manufacturing service for medical devices, after upgrading their UK facility. ITL, a leading product design and manufacturing company in the medical sector, has recently upgraded their automated surface mount line to a Europlacer iineo II and revamped their entire PCB area. The investment, that’s seen them double their PCB manufacturing capacity, will improve efficiency and allow more businesses to take advantage of their services. ITL is one of only a few companies in the UK that manufactures PCBs to ISO 13485 and FDA GMP standards - the required standards for medical device manufacturing. They have more than 40 years experience in the industry

and have manufactured PCBs for companies such as Bedfont Scientific, Optos Inc. and ThermoFisher Scientific. They made their name providing design, manufacturing and after-sales services for medical, diagnostic and laboratory instrumentation and devices and are now looking forward to extending their offering to specialist PCB production. Tom Cole, ITL’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re excited to expand our capabilities and offer this service to both existing and new customers. We found that most of our customers want to work with a team who have

specialised in medical technology from the start. They like that we offer a complete service from initial conceptualisation right through to prototyping and full scale manufacturing and that we know how important electronics are. “Investing in new technology means that we can open up our highly controlled, efficient PCB manufacturing service to more companies and take on even more ground-breaking projects. It felt like the right time to make this investment and grow our offering.”


MEMBERSNEWS

More investment in hangar facilities to cope with rising demand Rising demand for more business and general aviation facilities has led to the announcement of a £150,000 investment in a new hangar at London Ashford Airport – just months after the Kent airport spent £700,000 on adding a new hangar.

Installation work on the fabric covered rigid-framed hangar is expected to be completed by July. It will cater for larger jets using the airport, like the Gulfstream 5, Embraer Legacy and Dassault Falcon, all luxury long-range executive jets which are too big for existing hangar space at Lydd.

Executive Manager Hani Mutlaq said the decision to invest in additional hangar space was driven by a rise in business and general aviation traffic using Lydd. The new 45m by 35 metre facility will be built alongside existing hangars. “The new hangar we completed in September 2015 is already operating at near capacity and this new investment underlines our determination to ensure that the airport is able to meet the needs and expectations of the growing number of aviation businesses and customers who use Lydd,” he added.

The airport has spent £35 million upgrading facilities over the past decade, including the installation of an instrument landing system, a new executive terminal with VIP facilities, improved passenger check-in and security, and a new departure lounge. The airport caters for a range of aircraft operations and provides extensive services, including air traffic control and navigational aids, an FBO with 24-hour operating capability, full terminal services and engineering and cargo facilities.

Promotions at McCabe Ford Williams as firm celebrates 80 years in business

This year McCabe Ford Williams celebrates 80 years in business. The firm’s origins can be traced back to C. McCabe Ford & Co, a firm of accountants originally located in Mill Street Maidstone. Since the beginning, the firm has evolved and expanded to become one of Kent’s leading independent firms of Chartered Accountants, Tax Advisors, Auditors and Business Rescue and Recovery Specialists with six offices located across the county.

In addition to celebrating another milestone they have announced two new partners, Emma Andrews and Ashley Phillips. Emma qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2005 and now heads the Maidstone office. She works with a wide portfolio of clients, providing advice on all areas of accounting and taxation. Emma particularly enjoys working with new businesses and start up companies, assisting them in making the appropriate tax

decisions and establishing a business structure that will minimise the overall tax burden on the owner. Ashley is a Chartered Certified Accountant and law graduate and has worked at the Sittingbourne office for almost eight years. He oversees a large number of ownermanaged and charitable companies and not-for-profit audits, including leisure trusts and academy schools throughout the country.

Career that’s on the right road With more than 20 years in the automotive industry, Jacki Timberlake knows a thing or two about vehicles and has brought her expertise to her role of Business Development Manager at CTS Vehicle Services, a part of Commercial Services. She has worked for some of the biggest brands including RAC and Europcar, where she managed key portfolios, embedded new ways of working to improve customer experience, negotiated corporate contracts and developed bespoke partnership plans. Jacki brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to her role at CTS. Managing a specialist team, the fleet operation work to provide customers with vehicles for purchase or leasing.

With requirements ranging from cars to grounds maintenance vehicles, the team do everything they can to find the perfect solution. Not only that, CTS has a vast fleet of short term rental vehicles from only £20 per day, often available within three working hours. CTS’ latest exciting product is a new telematics solution which businesses find indispensable. From monitoring driver safety to helping the environment through reduced carbon emissions, this technology is making our customers stand out from the crowd.

Not only does Jacki manage the fleet operation but also CTS’ engineering business, including an award acclaimed bodyshop, an MOT and vehicle servicing garage and a specialist fire engine workshop. She said: “Being a part of CTS at this time of growth and innovation is so exciting. We are able to offer customers more than just a vehicle; we provide them with a complete vehicle package. I love what I do – I think the 20 plus years are testament to that.”

A new direction for The Right Step The Right Step has been delivering dance in schools, care homes for older adults and other organisations in Medway and Kent for five years. They’ve had great success and are now expanding into franchising to give others the chance to benefit from their experience. Having experimented for five years they’ve discovered what works when it comes to high quality dance classes for a fair price and they are now in the perfect position to support others as they launch their businesses. The new franchisees will benefit from The Right Step’s community dance values. There will be no competition between franchises and they will have extensive training to help them set up. Franchisees will soon be able to work in the industry they love whilst sustaining a great work life balance and earning more than they could setting up as a lone freelancer. Rebecca Ashton, Director of TRS Franchise, says “I’m really proud to be able to do this. When I moved to Kent I identified a need for a network of dance teachers. The company has snowballed from there and has become more than I ever thought it would.” The first new franchises will launch in September 2016 and will provide dance for people at any age, for any ability. Just as The Right Step does now. Anyone interested in launching a franchise or a dance class in Kent should contact Rebecca Ashton. www.therightstepdc.co.uk, www.trsfranchise.co.uk

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ASKTHEEXPERT

Ask the Expert Q

How can I find the right person for the job? A lot of businesses struggle with finding the right people. It can be difficult to find the time to focus on filling a vacancy when you’re running a company. Recruitment is a time consuming business. Using hours of your busy working day to deal with writing a job advert, handling applications and organising interviews is time you could be spending making money for your firm. Sadly most small businesses do not have the luxury of an HR department or work with recruitment consultants that can take on the task.

Thankfully, technological advances offer business owners real support in the recruitment process. Websites like KentJobs.co.uk, which the KM Group relaunched on March 14, give you the freedom to upload vacancies out of normal business hours at a time to suit you. That can be at five minutes to midnight on a Wednesday or while you’re having your coffee with the paper and the laptop on Sunday morning. We’re certainly seeing that people are finding this kind of tool useful.

Within two weeks of launching, there are already more than 8,000 live jobs on the site and there have been over 1,000 job applications. So far, there have been 34,000 jobs viewed, so candidates clearly find this kind of interaction helpful too. Many jobs websites are more affordable than you might think. Putting a vacancy on KentJobs.co.uk can cost as little as £95 and it only takes a few minutes to put online. Of course, no matter what, the process of hiring new staff will take some time but with websites like KentJobs.co.uk this can be made quicker and easier.

Morag Welham Head of KentJobs KM Media Group

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BUSINESSNEWS

Leading finance company moves to Kings Hill One of the UK’s leading specialist mortgage brokers is moving its headquarters to Kings Hill, near Maidstone, to take advantage of its convenient location and amenities.

Mortgages for Business, an independent broker which advises on all aspects of property finance including buy-to-let, residential and commercial mortgages as well as bridging and development finance, is moving into an entire wing

(8,572 sq ft) of 17 Kings Hill Avenue. The building has just been refurbished and is on the main business park thoroughfare next to David Lloyd Leisure and a short walk to the shops and cafes of Liberty Square.

Ad Kent Chamber

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

The company is relocating 38 staff from its Sevenoaks office to Kings Hill and plans to expand by more than 50% over the next three to five years. It also has an office in Wilmslow. “Relocating to Kings Hill is an exciting move for us because we are bursting at the seams in our current office,” said David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business. “We chose the business park because it has the services, space and parking we need today and in the future. “The new office will allow us to expand as the economy grows in the years ahead leading to greater opportunities for us all. It is also very convenient for many of our staff and will mean a shorter commute for those who live in Maidstone and Medway. “The building has just been refurbished to a very high standard by Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust and we have chosen Grey

Interiors to fit out the office as they have a reputation for delivering a high-quality finish, on budget and on time.” Mortgages for Business will be moving into its new office after Easter. It will be joining a number of other financial services companies on the park, including Barclays, Cabot, Marsh, Arthur J Gallagher and Sterling Insurance. Andrew Blevins, managing director of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust, said: “We are delighted that Mortgages for Business is moving here in order to accommodate its projected expansion and will benefit from being able to source some of its new staff from our growing residential population.” Altus Edwin Hill, Hanover Green and Knight Frank acted for Liberty and Savills for Mortgages for Business.


GETTINGSTARTED

Getting Started Q1: Tell us a bit about your business? This is an innovative business which challenges many of the ways in which we currently arrange gifts for businesses, friends and family who don’t live close to us. Here is a way where a national business will be able to REALLY support a small local business, and truly receive a bespoke item - a one-off! Homemade, hand-delivered cakes ordered from anywhere in the world and hand delivered to your business associate to say thank you, or to a loved one, just because you can….!

Name: Paula Wilkinson Company : Mums Bake Cakes Start up Date: January 2016 Website: www.mumsbakecakes.co.uk

Q2: What gives your business ‘the x-factor’? This is a unique service for cakes - we have an army of bakers, all who have been checked by environmental health, all who are insured, and have uploaded exactly the cakes they have already done for other people. The cakes you receive will be very similar, but the nature of homemade, is it will never exactly be the same. We have created the site to allow our bakers to advertise their wares to a national audience. The service is founded on a number of principles:Locally made.

Hand delivered for free. The baker elects to deliver to a local area free of charge. Therefore the price advertised is the price you pay. Addresses and supports a ‘green’ agenda. Local manufacture and delivery means there are not thousands of white vans running around the country with the associated cost and pollution delivering a cake which weighs less than a kilo. Establishing local contacts. The baker delivers the cake and on arrival at the recipient’s door, is proud to show their hard work. Totally flexible working. The baker can show themselves on the website when they are available to bake. Q3: What motivated you to set up the business? Having wanted to send a cake to my niece in Wales, I was unable to find a suitable cake maker, and arranged for my sister to purchase it, and I drove from Kent to North Wales to hand-deliver the specific cake she enjoyed. Q4: What do you like most about working for a start-up? The passion and desire to see it succeed I have for this business keeps me going day in day out. I know we are working with a great group of people, who also have a drive and determination to make this work for the individual and small bakers who are relying on us to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.

Q5: What has been your greatest business success to date? We sent Paul Hollywood some details about our business, with the idea and concept behind it. Within 48 hours of receiving the information Paul had ‘tweeted’ wishing us luck and mentioning that he thought it was a good idea. We then asked Paul for a cheeky ‘follow’ and he now follows us on twitter. The second is the sheer numbers responding to our initial call. Q6: What has been your lowest moment? After planning and planning, and assuming a simple step would be easy to do, only to find out that due to ‘bureaucracy’ a minimal timescale is needed for things to work. Q7: In terms of business achievements, where do you want to be within the next 5 years? We have most of the country covered with a baker of some kind or another, and we want to increase this, so that we have increased choice for our customers in all areas. Q8: What would be your top tip to someone thinking of starting up their own business? Test out your idea with people who don’t have a vested interest in it.

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CHAMBEREVENTS

Chamber Events, Seminars & Workshops Muesli Mafia Breakfast Time: 07:30am - 09:30am Non Members: £20.00 + VAT Members: £20.00 + VAT

Business Breakfast Details (unless otherwise stated): Time: 8:00am - 9:30am Non-Members: £20.00 + VAT Members: £15.00 + VAT An opportunity to put your business in the spotlight to highlight its products/services and how these can help other businesses. You will make new contacts and generate business leads, whilst sharing ideas, and experiences with like-minded business people. Join us for a delicious full English breakfast and lots of networking. Thursday 7 April AMF Bowling Ashford 43 - 79 Station Road, Ashford, TN23 1PP Tuesday 12 April The Dog and Bear The Square, Lenham, Nr Maidstone, ME17 2PG Thursday 21 April Port Lympne Hotel Lympne, Nr Ashford, Hythe, CT21 4PD Thursday 21 April FREE breakfast with Cripps LLP Canterbury College New Dover Rd, Canterbury, CT1 3AJ Thursday 12 May With Checkatrade The Grand Hotel The Leas, Folkestone, CT20 2XL Tuesday 17 May Rare Breeds Centre Highlands Farm, Woodchurch, Ashford, TN26 3RJ Thursday 19 May Campanile Dartford Crossways Business Park, 1 Clipper Boulevard West, Dartford, DA2 6QN

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“The Meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Gustav Jung

The Aims of Muesli Mafia To provide an informal business-2-business networking breakfast in a congenial and relaxed atmosphere where local business people can get together, enjoy mutual fellowship, share their good news, views and discuss topics of mutual interest.

14 April 2016 The Royal Wells Hotel 59 Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BE 4 May 2016 The Warren Metropolitan Police Club Hayes Ltd, Croydon Road, Bromley, BR2 7AL 26 May 2016 The Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, ME17 1RE

Networking Business Lunch Thursday 14 April Bridgewood Manor Hotel Nr Blue Bell Hill, Walderslade Woods, Chatham, ME5 9AX

Thursday 19 May Salomons David Salomons Estate, Broomhill Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 0TG

This lunchtime event slots neatly into Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm the business day and provides the ideal opportunity for you to meet fellow professionals, grow the profile Non Members: £25.00 + VAT of your brand and to build new business relationships. Members: £20.00 + VAT Join us for a delicious two course lunch, PLUS lots of networking.

After Hours Time: 6.00pm - 7.30pm

The After Hours Club is a popular and highly successful 'casual' networking event. Tuesday 12 April The Farm House 97-99 High Street, West Malling, Maidstone, ME19 6NA ••• Tuesday 12 April Hythe Imperial Hotel Prince's Parade, Hythe, CT21 6AE ••• Wednesday 13 April Royal Wells Hotel 59 Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BE ••• Thursday 14 April Best Western Coniston Hotel & Restaurant 70 London Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 1NT ••• Tuesday 19 April North Kent Training Service 5a New Road Avenue, Chatham, ME4 6BB

The informal atmosphere and relaxed environment is the ideal place to relax and chat to fellow business people. Come and join us for an evening of networking. Complimentary Tea and Coffee will be served. A Cash Bar is also available. No booking required. Just turn up!

Tuesday 26 April Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, ME17 1RE ••• Wednesday 27 April Canterbury College New Dover Rd, Canterbury, CT1 3AJ ••• Tuesday 3 May Nucleus Business & Innovation Centre Brunel Way, Dartford, DA1 5GA ••• Tuesday 3 May The Conningbrook Canterbury Road, Kennington, Ashford, TN24 9QR ••• Tuesday 10 May Hythe Imperial Hotel Prince's Parade, Hythe, CT21 6AE

Wednesday 11 May Royal Wells Hotel 59 Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BE ••• Wednesday 18 May Canterbury College New Dover Rd, Canterbury, CT1 3AJ ••• Tuesday 24 May Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Ashford Road, Hollingbourne ••• Tuesday 24 May The Sands Hotel 16 Marine Drive, Margate, Kent, CT9 1DH •••

FREE to members and non-members


CHAMBEREVENTS

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advanced

New Customs Procedures

29 April 2016 Time: 10.00am - 4.00pm Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, TN24 0LH in partnership with Sleeping Giant Media Non Members: £295.00 + VAT inc Lunch Members: £150.00 + VAT inc Lunch

- the Union Customs Code 8 April 2016 Time: 8.30am - 12.30pm Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, TN24 0LH Non Members: £90.00 + VAT Members:

£75.00 + VAT

The new Union Customs Code comes into force on 1st May 2016. Due to the additional demand for places we are running again at Ashford Business Point, the course which was delivered in Rochester during February. The course will be presented by Graham Card MIEx (Grad) International Trade Adviser at the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

International Trade Taster Session

29 April 2016 Time: 8.30am - 11.00am Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, TN24 0LH Non Members: £25.00 + VAT Members: £20.00 + VAT

Furley Page Events: Members: Non-Members:

£66.67 + VAT £75.00 + VAT •••

Employment Law Update 2016 21 April 2016 8.30am - 12.00pm Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1RE The topics covered are: • Recent developments in employment law and future changes • Practical guidance on how to prepare for changes • Effects on HR policies and procedures and people management • Covers new cases, employment reforms and implementation of European directives • EU Referendum and employment law

Building on the introductory course, we run through more detailed optimisation and monitoring techniques to increase the performance of your AdWords. The course is aimed at building your knowledge so you feel comfortable and confident in making the right decisions to have the best Account for your business. This course is suitable for those with some Adwords knowledge and those that have completed the introductory course. Suitable for any size and type of business.

For companies looking to get into exporting or importing for the first time, or for those that are relatively new to international trade. This also applies to companies looking to

Investigating Discipline Managing Sickness and Grievances in the Absence 19 May 2016 8.30am - 12.00pm Workplace 5 May 2016 8.30am - 12.00pm Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1RE The series is suited to all employers no matter the size of your workforce. These interactive workshops include extensive question and answer sessions. The workshops will be presented by two leading employment lawyers.

Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1RE The topics covered are: • Long term, short term absence management • How best to avoid potential claims • The increasing importance of disability discrimination law and recent cases • Holiday pay and sickness

The topics covered are: • Wrongful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘constructive’ dismissal examples • Practical guidance on how to prevent unnecessary and costly disputes • How to ensure that discipline is used early and positively • Best practice is disciplinary and grievance procedures • The increasing importance of social media issues

deal with a new market or region for the first time. Some basic trade knowledge will be covered so that key documents are discussed as well as INCOTERMS 2010.

FREE Training for Accountants on R&D Tax Credits 26 April 2016 8.30am - 10.30am Holiday Inn Rochester Maidstone Road, Rochester, ME5 9SF 10 May 2016 8.30am - 10.30am Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1RE Calling all accountants! This practical training in spotting and filing R&D tax relief claims is designed for candidates that are part-qualified or qualified accountants. It has been designated as 3 CPD points with certification on completion. The course is based on a range of practical examples, with hands-on tasks to complete during the morning. Candidates are provided with a copy of “The Definitive Guide to R&D Tax Credits” and other high quality training materials.

To book either visit www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events or email events@kentinvictachamber.co.uk or call 01233 503838 April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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MEMBERSNEWS

Revolution Events presents re-named Kent Vision LIVE Having last year taken ownership of the long-running Kent 2020 event, new chamber member Revolution Events is gearing up for the best event yet on Wednesday 11th May at the Kent Event Centre.

J&J Systems Brings IT Business Continuity to The County New facilities just outside Canterbury bring business continuity with Information Technology to small and medium enterprises across the county. The ability to backup data and store virtualised servers securely in a local environment has arrived, but without the necessity for retina scans businesses can access their data quickly in the event of an emergency. After a successful bid with KCC and the Expansion East Kent Growth initiative, J & J Systems is putting the finishing touches to the aesthetics of its new facilities after the functionality and practical elements were completed some months before, adding to the already comprehensive service base. Imagine a utility failure, or even worse, fire, flood or attack of the elements on either your own building, or one in close proximity affecting the locale – could your business survive without its data? These questions are answered by a new approach to data and business continuity by this new Chamber member with an inventive twist, adding value to their clients’ services but not charging for the facility. Jacqueline Offen, Director of J&J Systems UK Limited explained that “everyone always thinks it cannot happen to our own business, but of course those businesses in the North who have experienced severe flooding would be true examples of a disaster. Without continuity planning many of those would sadly fail; our services provide a great foundation for businesses to remain trading throughout such a disaster but without any financial overhead”. If an everyday disaster befalls a business, it can use the Disaster Recovery facilities in Hersden for up to six key members of staff, employing its own business data, even telecoms can be managed from the same premises in the right circumstance. Imagine being able to continue to run a company seamlessly the following day while other businesses would have had to close down.

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Now re-branded as Kent Vision LIVE, the show represents the largest annual gathering of the Kent business community, attracting well over 3,000 attendees for a high-value day of inspirational keynotes, educational workshops, freestyle networking opportunities and a major exhibition showcasing 300 leading B2B suppliers. Highlights for this year include keynotes from the former CFO of retail sensation SuperDry, Chas Howes, and ‘customer experience’ innovator Louise Fowler from First Direct and British Airways. A brand new feature called BizTech LIVE will provide bespoke advice on leveraging technologies such as cloud computing, big data and e-payment systems and exclusive ‘Industry Vision’ briefings will discuss the future opportunities for market sectors such as Retail, Manufacturing and Travel & Tourism.

Having always been a must-attend event for successful entrepreneurs and business owners, Kent Vision LIVE event is also building even more appeal for line managers, department heads and other decision makers – mainly by adding dedicated seminar tracks for operational issues such as people management and digital marketing, including two special

workshops with Google’s Digital Garage team. Research conducted last year indicated that the event generates over £20m+ of new business annually, so this is an unmissable date in the Kent business calendar. Entry is completely free of charge when you register online at: www.kentvision-live.co.uk.

Locate in Kent helps recycling firm capture new Medway base A plastics recycling firm is gearing up to operate at full capacity and create new jobs in Medway after urgent help from Locate in Kent to identify the perfect site. Recapture Plastics launched from its new base on the Kingsnorth Industrial Estate, Hoo, at the start of the year with the help of Kent County Council’s TIGER Loan Scheme (Regional Growth Fund). Initially employing six people, it aims to have created up to 20 jobs in total by the summer. The company takes large plastic goods such as bread trays, pipework and garden furniture, strips out non-plastic elements and produces clean plastic pellets, which are sold to manufacturers. “We had another site in Kent which had taken a year to find and which we were finalising the contract on when the company we were dealing with went into administration,” said Neale Buttery,

joint Managing Director of Recapture Plastics. “That left us needing to find a new site quickly, but one that met tight criteria.” As a recycling operation, Recapture needed a site that met with Environment Agency approval. Neale said: “We operate outside of normal office hours and have a lot of lorry movements, so we were looking for somewhere well away from residential areas. “Many landlords hear the word ‘waste’ and imagine heaps of black plastic household sacks, which can put them off. However, the process at Recapture employs the latest technology in plastics recycling and is a very clean operation.” While doing an internet search, Neale visited the Locate in Kent

website where he found two or three possibilities, including the Kingsnorth site. Chris Broom of Locate in Kent said: “Our website property search is a great starting point for companies looking for premises, whether they are new to the county or looking to relocate within Kent and Medway.”


MEMBERSNEWS

New fundraiser helps children’s hospice charity meet increasing demand ellenor Children’s Hospice Care (formerly chYps), which gives hospice care to children in their own homes across South West Kent, has appointed Martin Street as the new Area Fundraiser for South West Kent. He has been appointed to help meet the increasing demand for this vital service. which is funded by the local community. As a charity, not part of the NHS, ellenor needs to raise more than £6.7 million each year to provide its round-the-clock care for families facing terminal illness. This includes providing medical treatments such as chemotherapy in the home for children, which prevents lengthy or stressful stays in hospital and means families can stay together. Demand for ellenor’s services in South West Kent is continuing to grow. In the past three months, there has been an increase in 30% of referrals of terminally ill children in the area - so the need to raise funds to meet this growth

is critical, as without this service many families would be left to cope alone. Martin comes to ellenor with nearly 30 years’ experience gained from working in charity, corporate, co-operative, education and therapeutic sectors. More recently, he taught employability skills and sourced work placements for students with learning disabilities at Mid Kent College in Maidstone and Medway. He is also a qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Martin succeeds Angela Ward who has taken on a new role with the charity. He said: “I’m so proud to have joined this great charity. The opportunity to work for ellenor couldn’t have come at a better time for me personally and I’m

really excited about the future. It will be a privilege to work with my colleagues and our wonderful donors and volunteers to help support terminally ill children in SW Kent.” “We are delighted that Martin has joined our fundraising team,” says Linda Trew, Head of Community. Martin would love to hear from schools, colleges and community groups which would be interested in a talk about ellenor’s work in the community and the services it offers, and to hear impacting stories from local families about what it is like living with terminal illness. Please call him on: 01474 320007.

Ashford International named No.1 hotel Ashford International Hotel in Kent, one of QHotels’ 26 UK hotels, has been crowned No.1 Hotel in VenueVerdict’s 2015 Awards.

This is the second time Ashford International has been named the No.1 Hotel by VenueVerdict, and the third consecutive year for a QHotels venue. The hotel received Gold Standard Accreditations for every quarter of 2015, highlighting its consistent

delivery in providing the best experience for its guests. The VenueVerdict awards are based on customer feedback from event organisers and hosts of venues used across the UK during 2015. Veronica Kingham, General Manager at Ashford International,

said: “To be named the No.1 Hotel for the second year running is unprecedented and to achieve Gold Standard Accreditations consistently throughout each quarter of the year is a real testament to the outstanding experience our team delivers.” The hotel is joined by seven other QHotels venues receiving 2015 Gold Accreditations, bringing QHotels’ total accreditations to a record-breaking 35 in 2015 resulting in the group being named No.1 Large Group for the fifth consecutive year. Researchers at BDRC Continental the UK’s largest independent market research agency – analysed more than 20,000 responses throughout the year across each quarter and 375 participating hotels in the UK and Ireland.

Free NHS Health Checks in your workplace NHS Health Checks are a nationwide initiative designed to spot early warning signs of heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. They are available free of charge to anyone aged 40 to 74 who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition that they are taking medication for (for example high blood pressure or diabetes). The Health Check takes around 30 minutes and includes checks for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (height and weight), alcohol use, physical activity and family health history. At the end of the check the client receives a score which will assess their risk of developing a serious long-term condition n the next few years. They are then given a personal lifestyle assessment which will encourage them to make changes to their lifestyle to ensure a longer, healthier life. You can help your team towards better health by providing in-house Health Checks for your workforce. The service can provide instant onthe-spot checks for any of your eligible employees, plus health MOTs for anyone who isn’t eligible for a full check. The service comes fully equipped, all you need to find is a room! Best of all the service is completely free – meaning that a great investment in your team won’t cost you a thing. For more information or to book a session for your team, call: Kim 07957 474068 / Mark 07904 111834 or our central team on 0300 123 1240. For more information on NHS Health Checks in Kent visit www.kenthealthandwellbeing.nhs.uk For businesses within the Medway area, please contact: healthimprovement@medway.gov.uk

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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NEWMEMBERS

Welcome to new members A Better Choice for Building Consultancy Ashford 01233 330355 www.abcbc.co.uk Energy Assessments (Commercial & Domestic) Fire Risk Assessments Structural & Engineering Services AMC Foods Ltd Ramsgate 01843 848827 www.amcfoods.co.uk Produce & Market Kent Crisps & Kentish Oils Azure Real Estate Ltd Gillingham 01634 907010 www.kwuk.com Real Estate buyers, sellers and developers Barratt Legal Wadhurst 01580 878038 www.barrattlegal.com Solicitors specialising in Commercial Law Contracts, Corporate Technology, Media, Sport & Int Trans BDC South East Ltd Rochester 07552 364182 www.bdcse.co.uk Business Development Consultant Cascade Insurance Services Ltd Ashford 01233 512548 www.cascadeins.co.uk Commercial, General, High Net Worth Insurance Copper Rivet Distillery Chatham 01634 265479 www.copperrivetdistillery.com Distillery Corpe Consulting Ltd Maidstone 01622 662200 www.corpeconsulting.co.uk Business Development Consultancy

First Business Finance UK Ltd Sittingbourne 01634 386869 www.firstbusinessgroup.co.uk Business Finance

LEBC Group Ltd 0333 136 2260 West Malling www.lebc-group.com Independent Financial Advisers

Gillingham Football Club Gillingham 01634 350213 www.gillinghamfootballclub.com Football Club and Corporate Hospitality

Logan Construction (SE) Ltd Maidstone 01322 443270 www.loganconstruction.co.uk Construction

Glass Express Ltd t/a GX Glass Ashford 01233 642220 x232 www.gxglass.com Bespoke Interior Glass Manufacturers Go Green Electrical Ltd Tunbridge Wells 01892 529921 www.gogreenelectrical.co.uk Electrical installation J & J Systems UK Limited Canterbury 01227 371375 www.jjsystems.co.uk Computer & Network Installation & Support, Disaster Recovery, Provision of Hardware & Software K.B.M. Training & First Aid Services Maidstone 07846 183674 www.kbmtraining.co.uk Training & First Aid Services Kendon Safety Folkestone 07840 285703 www.kendonsafety.co.uk Health, Safety, Fire and Asbestos Consultancy Kent Housing Ltd Chatham 01634 566333 www.kenthousing.co.uk Landlord

DeRock Wellness Cafes 01233 629060 www.derockwellnesscafes.com Provide Healthier Alternatives to Products - Health, Wellness & Lifestyle Coaching

Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance Tonbridge 01622 833833 www.kssairambulance.org.uk Helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS)

Financial Advice & Services Limited Folkestone 01303 273273 www.financial-advice.co.uk Independent Financial Advisers

Lawns One Ltd Ashford 01233 330751 0800 8488055 www.lawnsone.co.uk Lawn Care

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

M H Mechanical Handling Ltd Gravesend 01732 823968 www.mhmechanical.co.uk Overhead crane repair and lifting equiptment specialists madcreative Maidstone 01634 383546 www.wearemadcreative.com Creative Design Agency Medex Protect London 0800 787 9304 www.medexprotect.co.uk Medical Excess and Sick Pay Munro3000 Chatham 07850 709210 www.munro3000.co.uk Marketing Implementation MW Solicitors Coulsdon 020 8645 8220 www.mwsolicitors.co.uk Solicitors Neilcott Construction Ltd Orpington 01689 832199 www.neilcott.co.uk Construction One Healthcare Partners Limited London 0203 666 5152 www.onehealthcare.co.uk Private Healthcare / Hospital Operator

Roberts & Denny's Removals and Storage Crayford 01322 310055 www.helpusmove.co.uk Removals and Storage Rowhill Grange Hotel & Utopia Spa Wilmington 01322 612778 www.alexanderhotels.com Hotel Royal Wells Hotel Tunbridge Wells 01892 511188 www.royalwells.co.uk Hospitality Smile While You Dial Tenterden 01580 766841 www.smilewhileyoudial.com Customer Care, Sales, Telephone Skills, Training & Business Development Stat-Express Ltd Sittingbourne 01795 425381 www.statexpress.co.uk Office Supplies Distributors (20,000+) Products The Mortgage Crew Ashford 01233 877272 www.themortgagecrew.co.uk Mortgages and Loans The Roffen Rochester 01634 404770 www.roffen.com Private Members Club Virtually Here Gillingham 07905 353294 www.virtuallyhere.co Virtual Assistant

Pentins Business Advisers Ltd Canterbury 01227 763400 www.pentins.co.uk Accountancy / Tax Business Advice

West Kent YMCA Tunbridge Wells 01892 542209 www.westkentymca.org.uk Supported Housing, Vocational Training, Youth Work, Social Enterprise

Red Apple Thinking Ltd Sandwich 01304 251439 www.redapplethinking.co.uk Leadership and Team Development Training

WTF Furniture Ashford 07772 661749 Furniture Hand Made and Airbrushed to Clients Request. Portraits and Commissions Undertaken


MOVERS&SHAKERS

Blackbox Solutions boosts team with five new hires

Maidstone-based Blackbox Solutions, a rapidly-expanding provider of costcutting office equipment and IT services across London and the South East, has taken on five new team members at the company’s new head office.

Rachel Hawkins has joined as Finance Controller and will oversee all aspects of Blackbox Solutions’ invoicing and office management. Rachel has 15 years’ experience in the print industry, having previously worked with Blackbox Solutions’ Managing Director, Colin Griffin at IKON Office Solutions and Balreed Digitec. Customer Service Executive, Letitia Speed has been appointed to handle customer service enquiries and liaise with customers throughout the installation process. As part of its growing focus on providing customers with Information Technology (IT) services, Blackbox Solutions has also appointed two technicians, Tyler Oliver

and James August who join the IT Department to provide hardware and software installation, and onsite and remote customer support. The company recently opened its new head office in Medway Street, Maidstone, Kent, having more than doubled in size every year since it was launched in 2012. The new offices now accommodate all of Blackbox Solutions’ sales, servicing and client support staff and also incorporate a convenient dropin print, scan and copy shop service. Blackbox Solutions has hired Dipo Oredein to the new post of Copy Shop Manager. His responsibilities include managing all aspects of the Copy Shop,

New Chief Executive appointed Ashford Borough Council has a new Chief Executive after Full Council agreed the appointment of Tracey Kerly for a period of two years. In November last year, John Bunnett announced he was standing down as Chief Executive of Ashford Borough Council after six years in the post.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “The recommendation to appoint Tracey Kerly as Chief Executive helps to ensure we maintain a steady course to achieving our objectives whilst also recognising the external environment is changing. This will provide the organisation with the ability to respond appropriately as the future becomes clearer.” Tracey Kerly said: “I’m delighted to take up this position, and having worked for Ashford Borough Council for over 25 years I know what an excellent group of hard working officers we have serving our wonderful local community.”

including printing, copying and scanning services. Using his background and training in graphic design, Dipo will also deliver design projects commissioned by local businesses. Colin Griffin, Managing Director of Blackbox Solutions, said: “We have had a very busy start to the year and this is reflected in our recruitment activity. The company has grown rapidly over the past few years and these new appointments will enable Blackbox Solutions to capitalise on new opportunities and continue to deliver exceptional customer service. We expect to make further appointments throughout 2016.”

CXK Chief Executive to move on to next challenge CXK’s Chief Executive Sean Kearns has announced that is leaving to pursue a new challenge. Since joining in September 2010, Sean has overseen CXK’s significant growth and development into one of the leading charitable organisations in the UK for the provision of independent careers guidance and support services for children, young people and their families.

Sean said: “I am proud to have played a significant part in meeting our goal of diversifying the service to make CXK into a market leading organisation.” CXK Chairman David Philpott said: “Sean has played a pivotal leadership role in transforming CXK from a Kent-centred public service organisation into become a leading south-east of England based charity.”

QHotels appoints Veronica Kingham as Cluster General Manager of its Kent hotels

New member joins Raymond James Weald of Kent team

Award-winning hotel group, QHotels, has appointed Veronica Kingham as Cluster General Manager of two of its four-star hotels, Ashford International Hotel and Bridgewood Manor in Kent. As the newest member of the QHotels senior management team, Veronica will be responsible for overseeing state-of-the-art conference and events facilities at both hotels, as well as luxurious health clubs and spa facilities for corporate and leisure guests. Ashford International Hotel can accommodate up to 400 delegates and Bridgewood Manor up to 200, both hosting a range of events from small meetings and team building events, to awards dinners and conferences. Previously General Manager at Maidstone’s Village Hotel, Veronica brings over 10 years’ local insight and knowledge to the QHotels portfolio, which features 27 four and five star hotels across the UK. On her appointment, Veronica said: “After over a decade in the region, it’s fantastic to join such a

Raymond James’ Weald of Kent Branch has announced that Nicholas Gray has joined its investment & Wealth Management team as a Financial Planner. Nick has almost 30 years’ experience in the Financial Service Industry, and holds the Diploma in Financial Planning Certificate (Dip PFS) from the Chartered Insurance Institute. He is also a member of the Personal Finance Society. He joins Mark Beaney, Alison Jessop and Alan Ramsay in providing clients with a comprehensive range of financial knowledge and expertise to fulfil their needs. He can advise clients on all aspects of financial planning

prestigious hotel group, which is constantly enhancing its offering by listening and responding to its customers’ needs, to offer the very best for both its business and leisure guests. “Both hotels offer a contemporary conference and events space but they are also unique. Ashford International Hotel has an enviable location, with fantastic international links, and can cater for large-scale events, whilst Bridgewood Manor is designed around a beautiful inner courtyard in the historic town of Chatham, which delivers a more intimate feel.” Michael Purtill, Managing Director at QHotels, said: “Veronica’s drive and enthusiasm, coupled with her valuable experience in the region, will help us to continue to deliver unique and memorable experiences at our award-winning Kent hotels, something which is fundamental to the service we offer our customers across the group.”

and will also be carrying out regular reviews with existing clients to make sure they are on track to achieve their chosen goals. The team was for many years operating as a part of Whitehead Monckton solicitors before becoming a commercially independent branch of Raymond James in 2013.

April - May 2016 ThinkingBUSINESS

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LASTWORD

INBRIEF

The Last Word

Name: Peter Giblin Company: Clarkson Wright & Jakes Solicitors Job title: Senior Partner

Peter Giblin is senior partner at Orpington’s award-winning and highly respected Clarkson Wright & Jakes solicitors. He qualified as a solicitor in 1978 after completing his training contract with the firm, and became a partner the following year. He has been senior partner since 2007 and is also one of their three Notaries. He is married to renowned body-cast sculptor Louise Giblin; rides a Harley and owns a 1932 D-Type MG Midget known affectionately as Vera. Q What was your first job and what was the pay packet? A I was a trainee management accountant for Bowaters International with an annual salary of £947.00 (£18.21 a week) - not bad for 1970! Q What do you always carry with you to work? A My mobile, a pen and a penknife. Q What is the biggest challenge facing your business? A Competition from multi-nationals wanting to commoditise the profession. We have been streamlining processes through technology for decades but there is no effective replacement for knowledge, experience and the personal touch. Q If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business? A Reduce VAT and stop charging income tax on work in progress. Q What can you see from your office window? A Fairly pleasant office courtyards. Q If you could do another job what would it be? A A property developer. Q As a business person, what are your three main qualities? A The experience gained from handling three recessions; working with people; selling myself and my business. Q What was your biggest mistake in business? A Taking advice from management consultants. Q What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? A Know your product and your marketplace and remember that every business has an optimum size. Q Who do you most admire in business? A Creative thinkers who turn a problem for others into a success for them.

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ThinkingBUSINESS April - May 2016

New online service to make it easier to apply for bankruptcy From April, debtors will be able to petition for their own bankruptcy by completing an online form instead of having to go through the courts. It’s the latest in a raft of changes to the insolvency landscape being introduced by the Government and is designed to make bankruptcy easier and more straightforward – but the new service could prompt some to make rash decisions without thinking about the potentially serious consequences, warns leading south east law firm Furley Page.

“The intention is to make the process less stressful for individuals as they won’t need to attend court,” says insolvency specialist Richard Ludlow, an Associate and Head of Insolvency at Furley Page. “But my concern is that it will allow individuals to make applications on the spur of the moment without giving any real thought to how their actions will affect them and their families.”

Bedfont® Scientific Ltd sells NOxBOX® Ltd to Praxair Bedfont Scientific Ltd. has sold its U.K. subsidiary, NOxBOX Ltd, to Praxair Gases UK, Ltd., a subsidiary of Praxair, a Fortune 250 company with 2015 sales of $11 billion and one of the largest industrial gas companies worldwide. Bedfont’s sale of NOxBOX Ltd includes the full NOxBOX range of critical care delivery and monitoring devices for inhaled nitric oxide therapy. Bedfont’s Managing Director, Trevor Smith, said:

“This transaction will allow our company to focus on its core business in diagnostics using exhaled breath analysis which we see as a tremendous opportunity in the future.”

Mayor stops by for celebratory smoothie KIMS celebrated becoming the first hospital in the county to win two prestigious awards, and the launch of its 2016 healthy workplace activity. The hospital has been awarded both the Kent Healthy Workplace Award and Workplace Wellbeing Charter, which are part of the Kent Healthy Business Awards,a joint initiative supported by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council. There are three levels of award and KIMS will be working towards the highest Excellence level, achieved in part by the launch of the KIMS healthy workplace scheme.

After receiving the awards from Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Daniel Moriarty, KIMS Chief Executive Simon James said: “As well as providing first class care for our patients, at KIMS we’re committed to working as one team to develop the health and wellbeing of staff.It is really important to not only encourage staff to be healthy, but to give them the opportunity and the support to make lifestyle changes.”


Thinking business Kent April/May 2016  

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Latest Business News, Local Industry News, Accountancy and Financial Management, Business Travel and Inter...

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