Page 1



Big year ahead for Ashford Page 16

Now is the time for employers to put workplace-based training at the front of their agenda

Economy - Big squeeze on firms from recruitment, prices and cash flow Page 21

Castle Water's CEO John Reynolds OBE, on delivering the right results for customers Page 22


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Welcome & Contents

Reasons to be cheerful amid the Brexit turbulence

I write this foreword with an immense sense of frustration. Why? Because, as ever, this edition of the magazine is full of enterprising people doing brilliant things in Kent’s business community. Hang on, I hear you cry, have you lost control of your senses Jo? Why are you so frustrated at all this good news? Well, the answer is simple. Yet again, Brexit is overshadowing everything. It is dominating minds, hogging the limelight, pushing important stories aside. Creating foreboding where there should be optimism. I wish I could write this foreword without mentioning Brexit, but I can’t. The uncertainty over the past three years has been terribly damaging for our businesses and politicians of all hues must take much of the blame for the way the issue has been handled. However, while they argue and bicker, the public and

Contents 4

Chamber News


Members News


Legal Update


Focus on Finance


Patron News


Members News

13-15 Members News

Our Patrons

16-18 Spotlight on Ashford


Jo James

Chief Executive

private sector alike are getting on with boosting the economy in areas like Kent. For example, our cover feature, to be found on page 25, looks at some of the work under way to improve the skills of our young people and bring forward the best talent for our businesses. It’s a crucial challenge and one we have to meet if the economy is going to grow. Our area spotlight on page 16, looks at the incredible progress being made in the borough of Ashford, where money is being invested to support existing ventures and develop new ones in exciting partnerships between the business world and the public sector, including Ashford council. The feature includes a look at a project which is particularly close to my heart. Scale Up Ashford is a pioneering programme and was the first council-funded Scale Up programme in the South East. It is being delivered in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

21 22-23 25-28 31 33 35

Economy Big Interview Cover Feature Skills & Apprenticeships Members News The Person behind the Business Ask the Expert


Going forward, we will be delivering a funded Scale Up programme across the County. There will be limited places, so if you are interested please get in touch. It is a programme aimed at offering bespoke, intensive support to businesses that have a huge amount of growth potential, with the aim of creating jobs and boosting the economy in a long-term sustainable way. Already, many new jobs have been created. Our big interview on page 22 talks to Castle Water CEO, John Reynolds OBE, about how the company saved customers £17 million in the first year of the new business water market based on a determination to challenge historic practice. It is thoughtprovoking stuff. Reasons to be cheerful amid all the Brexit clamour? You bet!


36-37 Members News



International Trade

Chamber Exhibitions

42-43 Chamber Events

44-47 Business News 48-49 New Members



Movers & Shakers

Last Word

Editorial and General Enquiries

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Chief Executive: Jo James Tel: 01233 503 838 Fax: 01233 503 687 info@kentinvictachamber.co.uk www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk

Published February 2019 © Benham Publishing




Benham Publishing Limited, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Ian Fletcher Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 admin@benhampublishing.com www.benhampublishing.com

Advertising and Features

Karen Hall Tel: 0151 236 4141 karen@benhampublishing.com Media No.1656

Production Manager

Mark Etherington Tel: 0151 236 4141 mark@benhampublishing.com

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. © 2019. 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.

Front Cover image courtesy of the Hadlow Group

Thinking Business


Kent Business Leaders Dinner

Chamber News

Held at Allington Castle in January, Kent Invicta Chamber Patrons, along with invited guests, attended the latest Kent Business Leaders Dinner. Guests were welcomed by Jo James, Chamber Chief Executive, to the 12th century medieval home of Sir Robert Worcester, Founder of MORI.

Jo James. Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber welcoming guests to the dinner

Speaker Claire Walker, British Chambers of Commerce discussing Brexit outcomes with Sir David Steel, CEO of Leeds Castle

After dinner speaker Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of Campaigns and Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, spoke openly about the work BCC are doing to lobby government on behalf of business during the Brexit negotiations. They have voiced frustration that so little is resolved and that currently business cannot plan for the future. Another key message in her speech was the real concern that Brexit has dominated parliamentary


debate and decision making in recent months and that other important issues that relate to better business performance, such as investment in infrastructure, employment and skills and the importance of reliable and fast digital access across every part of the country, have been ‘parked’ and need to be brought back onto the parliamentary agenda.

Over 90 guests were hosted by the Chamber and its Patrons. Everyone enjoyed an evening of Kentish wine, good food and engaging conversation. Photography: Ali Kittermaster

Details of the next Kent Business Leaders Dinner are

available from morag@kentinvictachamber.co.uk

Tracey Kerly of Ashford Borough Council in conversation with Catherine Daw from Brachers

Mark Minus and Colin Mills from MHA MacIntyre Hudson with their guest Celine Mattheeuws of Eric Mattheeuws Ltd

Ros Daitshell from KIMS Hospital

David Sedgeley from Towergate Insurance Brokers

Carol Ford from AC Goatham & Son

Neil Chatterton from Caxtons, Chartered Surveyors

Lee Hutton from Sleeping Giant Media

Dr Andrey Songhurst from Kent Innovation and Enterprise based at the University of Kent

Pianist for the evening Marius Reklaitis, CEO of Kent Philharmonic Orchestra

Night out for the Lee Evans Partnership Team

Thinking Business

The devil’s in the detail...

Legal Update

Chris Brightling, Head of Corporate & Commercial at Girlings Solicitors explains how a simple agreement between shareholders can minimise substantial risk and also how well drafted company articles can increase your business’s efficiency.

s businesses prepare for the A challenges and opportunities that may arise in the New Year,

consideration should also be given to the corporate governance structure of the company. Businesses can outgrow previous structures and a review of the company’s fundamental organisational documents— primarily the articles of association and any shareholders’ agreements that may exist—is useful to ensure the company retains the functionality and flexibility necessary to compete in their current market.

A company’s articles are effectively a contract of membership between the company and the shareholders and they include procedures for general meetings, transferring shares and the decision-making power of the directors. All companies registered in England and Wales must have articles of association, which are publically available at Companies House. As adopting articles is a requirement for incorporation, for ease many companies adopt the statutory default Model Articles or use an incorporation agent who will use template articles. However, this means the articles often don’t reflect the reality of how the business operates which can lead to inefficiency. For example, the Model Articles require two directors as quorum for a board meeting, which can create significant problems if one director is incapacitated or absent for an extended period. Another common problem with the Model Articles is that they specifically prevent a director who has a personal interest in a matter being counted to form quorum. This again is highly inefficient, particularly in small companies where directors almost always have vested personal interests in the business of the companies. Potential problems like these can be avoided by drafting tailored articles for the company, which better reflect the circumstances of the business.

Shareholders’ agreements also regulate the affairs of a company but differ in that they are private documents and are effectively a contract between and amongst the shareholders. Shareholders’ agreements are generally relevant for any company that has more than one shareholder. Even if the company is a family business or the partners are close friends, there is always a risk of people falling out and a shareholders’ agreement is an exceedingly useful document if there is ever a dispute. Because shareholders’ agreements remain private, these are useful instruments to include more commercially sensitive company procedures including provisions around the issuing of share capital, the company’s dividend policy and dispute resolution. Shareholders also exercise influence over the directors of the company using consent clauses in a shareholders’ agreement that require the directors of a company to secure shareholder consent before conducting specific actions, like issuing new shares, taking out loans or making any change to the company’s articles. Shareholders’ agreements also often include provisions for compulsory share transfers following the departure or incapacitation of a shareholder, which provide protection for the company and remaining shareholders. Protections called drag-along and tag-along rights can also be added in to a shareholders’ agreement to protect both majority and minority shareholders when the majority shareholder is looking to sell and exit the company. Given the fundamental nature of a company’s articles and the shareholders’ agreements, prudent business owners should conduct a periodic review to ensure those documents are meeting their needs. For further advice on welldrafted company documents, ask the expert and contact Chris.

Chris Brightling Head of Corporate & Commercial 01233 664711 chrisbrightling@girlings.com girlings.com Thinking Business


Members News

Statistics show:

Strong finish to 2018 shows Ashford bucks national retail trend

While the UK retail picture looks bleak, the latest footfall and vacancy rate figures for the town centre show Ashford is bucking the national trend and traders are positive about the New Year ahead.

• Footfall for 2018 year to date up 5.8% on the previous year • December 2018 footfall up 27% compared to December 2017 • Impressive festive footfall figures show 80,500 visitors the week before Christmas • Footfall up an impressive 52% Christmas week • 2018 trend shows vacancy rate reducing as national benchmark sees increase • County Square’s annual footfall figures show a 3.1% increase compared to 2017 • Almost 6.2 million people visited the shopping centre last year • Made in Ashford in Park Mall trading figures for 2018 up 30% on December 2017 • The independent retailers’ 2018 trading figures up 17% on 2017 figures Graham Galpin, portfolio holder for the town centre, said: “All town centres are facing challenging times, and we are not alone, but as part of our changing offer, we are seeing new faces and continued investment in the town, and now we have further good news which shows footfall is on the up and our vacancy rates bucking the national trend.

“The positive investment in the town is having a knock-on effect, with Ashford College bringing students into the town, the Commercial Quarter bringing in office workers plus we have the Elwick Place cinema and new Brewery adding to our leisure and night time offer.

2019 - Year of the Environment

In the aftermath of the BBC documentary Blue Planet 2, the UK experienced what was coined ‘the David Attenborough effect’.

Public awareness of actions relating to plastic usage and the consequences they have for the planet came to the fore. Plastic was in the news frequently, selected coffee shops started charging for disposable cups and bars and pubs started switching to paper straws.

In January last year, the Government published their 25 Year Environment Plan, setting out the goals for an improved environment - committing to being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. With this, 2019 has been officially titled the ‘Year of the Environment’ or the ‘Year of Green Action’.

This year will be a demonstration that together we can improve the environment through collective


Thinking Business

action. It provides an opportunity to generate momentum, as we see more people from all backgrounds taking action to improve the planet. As the top recycler in the Kent county, Ashford Borough Council is delivering various events, campaigns and initiatives throughout the year to support these causes and promote the environment. Its aim is to have Ashford connect, protect and enhance the environment. Each event will be centered on one or more of its five key themes:

• Recycle - encourage residents to waste less and recycle more • Clean - keep Ashford clean by tackling litter and encouraging residents to get involved with volunteer schemes

• Grow - encourage residents to grow fruit and veg on our allotment sites or buy locally produced food

• Nature - encourage residents to use parks and open spaces in the borough whilst encouraging wildlife and biodiversity • Air - encourage residents to use active transport to reduce pollution and improve health and well-being

2018 was a great year, with Ashford reaching 27th in the country, out of 350, for recycling rates and topping the Kent local authority league for a fourth year in a row. Cllr Clair Bell, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Land Management, said: “Ashford’s recycling success is certainly something to be proud of and

“There is a long way to go but we know we are doing something right here in Ashford, as the High Street’s Minister Jake Berry has highlighted our approach as one to follow and many other local authorities are looking at what we are doing and are looking to replicate it in their towns.” Melissa Dawkins, Curator & Manager of Made in Ashford in Park Mall, said: “Made in Ashford saw our best Christmas ever, with trading up 30% on December last year. We finished our year up 17% on our previous year which we are very pleased with. The shop has grown from strength to strength, with us peaking at 50 different creative, local businesses trading from our store at one time this year. “The footfall in the town has increased dramatically and there is a real positive feeling after many of this years’ events, such as Splashes of Summer and the Snowdog art trail which has been a direct driver to our successes.” County Square has also announced positive figures, with their annual footfall figures for the whole of 2018 seeing an increase of 3.1% compared to 2017. This meant that almost 6.2 million people visited the centre last year. The last week of December’s figures were up by 9.7% year on year and the first week of January 2019 showed an 8.5% increase on January 2018. Frances Burt, Centre Manager, said ‘We’re delighted that County Square has been bucking the trend on visitor numbers, with most shopping centres being well down on footfall.”

we could not have achieved these fantastic results without our residents’ ongoing support and enthusiasm. Ashford residents are doing a tremendous job at recycling, but it is very important that we work hard to maintain, and where possible, improve this level. “In 2019 we intend to focus on reinforcing the message about recycling further with a strong programme of campaigns to ensure we’re continuing to strive for improvements wherever possible.” Lots more events and campaigns will be taking place throughout the year, including a collaboration with Ashford College, various school competitions and a big plastic campaign in summer – keep an eye out on social media channels for all the latest announcements.

Focus on Finance To recap on my previous article: home buyers can be liable to the 3% SDLT surcharge when purchasing their new home if they also have an interest in another residential property worth more than £40,000. The interest in another residential property might be an investment property or a holiday home. The liability to pay the 3% SDLT arises as on the completion day of purchasing the new home the buyer also has an interest in another residential property and therefore meets the criteria to pay the extra 3% SDLT.

Mind the gap? Replacement residence relief

Following on from my earlier article in last month’s edition about replacement residence relief, there is a relief if there is a gap between selling your old home and purchasing a new one – even if you own other UK property – as long as the gap is not too long.

Here is an example to consider: Bob owns his home in Battersea and a holiday home in Devon. He decides to take a career break and sells his home to go on a two year trip to South America. On his return to the UK, Bob takes up a job in Reading and purchases a new home nearby for £400,000. Bob is alarmed to learn that he will have to pay the 3% SDLT surcharge on the buying of his new home due to his ownership of the holiday home in Devon. This will cost him an extra £12,000 in tax. There is relief available in the legislation to help Bob and prevent him paying an extra £12,000 of SDLT. The relief exempts the purchase of the new home from the 3% SDLT surcharge if all the following conditions are met: • The purchaser has disposed of another dwelling (Bob’s home in Battersea). • The dwelling was disposed of within 3 years of the purchase (only two years ago). • The dwelling was the main residence of the purchaser at some time in the three year period prior to the purchase of the new home (yes as Bob lived in Battersea until two years ago).

In Bob’s example above he meets all three conditions and will not have to pay the 3% SDLT surcharge. Would the relief be available if Bob had rented a flat in the UK prior to purchasing his new home? Yes, in these circumstances Bob would still be entitled to relief. Does the position change if Bob had purchased a flat in South America which he used as his home whilst on his travels? In this case the relief would still be allowable as the flat in South America is not liable to SDLT. So regardless of the fact that Bob owns a second dwelling, the status of the new and old properties as Bob’s main home still prevails, despite the time gap, and there is relief from the SDLT surcharge. However, the relief would be lost if Bob had purchased a flat in Reading which he used as a residence whilst looking for his final home. The relief only applies to the first purchase of a new home following the sale of the original main residence. The relief will normally be claimed on the SDLT return submitted for the purchase of the new home. If it is not and the 3% SDLT surcharge is paid then an amended SDLT return can be submitted within 12 months of submitting the SDLT return. For purchases before 18 November 2018 different time limits apply so please get in contact if you do not qualify simply because you sold your last main residence more than three years before the purchase of your new home. Every individual circumstance will differ and we would always recommend seeking advice, tailored to your own particular circumstances from the tax team at Wilkins Kennedy. Contact us in Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone, Orpington and Sandwich today to see how we can help.

Steve Jacob

Partner (Kent Region)

01622 690666


www.wilkinskennedy.com Thinking Business


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Thinking Business

Futuristic V&A Dundee captivates visitors

Members News

V&A Dundee, which sits on the banks of the River Tay in Scotland, is part of a £1 billion waterfront transformation. It opened in September, attracted world-wide publicity and thousands of visitors due to its futuristic exterior and impressive gallery spaces.

Inside, as part of the monumental development, air distribution products were supplied by expert manufacturer Waterloo Air Products Plc. Beyond its curved concrete walls and cutting-edge construction, a state-of-the-art cooling and

It cost millions to complete and has been described by its award-winning Japanese architects as a ‘living room for the city’.

ventilation system was installed. Waterloo first became involved with the V&A Dundee Museum project five years ago, in 2013. Discussions began with design engineers, Arup, about how to create a comfortable, controlled environment in the V&A Dundee. Waterloo also supplied air terminal devices for the building and they were used throughout the museum including the kitchen, various meeting rooms and the washroom facilities.

most appropriate form of renewable energy for the building.

Faced with the complexities of high ceilings, unusual angles and varying visiting numbers within the gallery, Waterloo worked with Arup to create the perfect environment.

Waterloo’s WRS and WLMD variable air volume controllers – were installed to control the volume of air passing through the ducts, to the air terminals, independent of the air volumes supplied from the air handling unit. Air handling units are designed to automatically cope with

Outsourcing company expands As part of the project, designers researched and identified the

Global Virtuoso is a Philippine-based outsourcing company that provides special support to businesses through Knowledge Process Outsourcing. We manage highly technical processes for large international businesses across the globe as well as SMEs, enabling them to achieve growth opportunities without the need to take on more staff, larger premises or significantly increased costs.

In 2019, we are expanding our operation into the United Kingdom with the appointment of a UK Account Manager - Andy Cruttenden with the aim of assisting UK business to realise their growth potential through costeffective knowledge process outsourcing solutions. Andy is a Chartered Manager and

some of you may know him as the Kent Entrepreneur of the Year 2016.

Our local market research identified that many UK companies are struggling to expand due to a lack of a local skilled workforce, difficulties in securing commercial space at the right price and uncertainties around the medium term prospects for the economy, preventing them from taking on more longer term financial commitments. Our approach at Global Virtuoso is to offer fully bespoke outsourcing of

core and ancillary processes, delivering individual solutions underpinned by full feasibility studies that model and map your processes rather than off-the-shelf service packages. We chose the Philippines as our operational centre because of its highly educated and technically excellent talent pool, and because it offers Asia’s highest English-language proficiency. Manila itself is set up for 24/7 outsourcing and, combined with time zone difference advantages, means many tasks can be completed overnight in client terms.

A long history of support

Since 1968, Kenward Trust has been delivering residential rehabilitation and support services to men and women in Kent with alcohol and substance dependency issues.

Every year we support an average of 200 men and women through our residential rehabilitation projects, whose lives have been adversely affected by dependency on alcohol or substances.

Our Kenward in the Community team deliver alcohol and substance education and early intervention to young people across the county. Since it launched in 2017, more than 8,500 secondary school students have participated in our Think Differently

programme, which uses real life stories and experiences to raise awareness of the issues and potential consequences of drug and alcohol dependency. We are based in Yalding, in a beautiful Georgian manor house set in 15 acres of Kent countryside. Our Sage and Time café is open to the public 7 days a week. We welcome dog walkers and are a perfect pit stop for cyclists. We have two stunning conference rooms are available to hire for business and personal

events and we offer archery and alpaca experiences. We also hold a number of family events each year including Walk on the Wild Side, Classic Car Show, Fireworks Night and Christmas Fayre.

Kenward Trust is passionate about our work in helping individuals transform their lives by avoiding dependence upon drugs and alcohol. This is vital and essential for all of us living in society since substance abuse can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time of life.

variants in footfall so it will increase air volume when a high number of visitors are in the building. Overall, energy-efficiency is a big consideration for the project. V&A Dundee, with its cavernous entrance, has no straight external walls and has been designed to create the appearance of a Scottish cliff face.

Inside, there are two gallery spaces – one dedicated to Scottish design which features 300 exhibits and the other for temporary exhibitions.

Cripps partner receives French knighthood

A Tunbridge Wells lawyer has been awarded the rank of ‘Knight of the French National Order of the Légion d’Honneur’, France’s highest order of merit.

Olivier Morel, a partner at leading law firm Cripps, incorporating Pemberton Greenish, has been included in France’s 2019 new year’s honours list in recognition of his three decades of experience working with French businesses in the UK and fostering Franco-British cooperation. A French and English dually-qualified corporate lawyer, Olivier said: “It is a huge honour that the French government has seen fit to recognise my work with the French and British business communities. I am a passionate advocate of the bond of commerce and friendship between our two nations, so I also see this award as recognition of the importance of those historical links.”

Olivier is the President of the UK chapter of the Foreign Trade Advisors UK, a French government think-tank on international trade, and sits on the worldwide board of the same body.

He is also a Vice President of the French Chamber of Great Britain. Cripps Managing Partner Gavin Tyler said: “We are delighted that Olivier’s work has been recognised in this way. The firm is very active on the international stage, and his work with French businesses reinforces our commitment to international trade.” Others on the 2019 list of recipients include the World Cup winning French football team. Cripps has offices in Tunbridge Wells, London and Kings Hill. Thinking Business


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Patron News

Innovation, Creativity, Enterprise and the Productivity Puzzle

By Tony Inglis, Business Relationship Manager at The University of Kent.

Ashford Borough Council unveils Carlton Road Business Park

Companies looking to relocate to Ashford – or expand their existing operations in Kent’s number one business location, according to a Locate in Kent poll – should consider the newly-completed Carlton Road Business Park.

The development of 28 warehouse and industrial units has been built at the town’s Cobbs Wood Estate by Gallagher Properties and purchased by Ashford Borough Council in a multimillion pound deal.

Carlton Road Business Park is the latest addition to the Council’s corporate property portfolio. Ashford operates like a business and this entrepreneurial approach has been driven by the need to deliver services in the face of reduced formula grant funding from the government – a dilemma facing every local authority.

Ashford’s asset acquisition strategy is delivering a corporate property portfolio that is contributing significantly to revenues. The portfolio includes International House, Park Mall shopping centre, Ellingham Industrial Estate, retail units at Stanhope, and a town centre leisure and

restaurant complex in Elwick Place.

The business park has been built on the old Rimmel site, which has been derelict for 10 years. The 50,046 sq ft development has a flexible design allowing for multiple units to be combined to provide larger spaces if required by tenants. The Council, which is in discussion with a number of companies interested in taking space at Carlton Road, says the larger units there would be ideal for existing businesses at Ellingham Industrial Estate looking to expand. This potentially paves the way for other enterprises to take on the vacated units at Ellingham and begin their own Ashford success story. The Carlton Road site is expected to support the creation of up to 100 jobs, in line with the Council’s commitment to deliver

economic investment and jobs growth.

Cllr Graham Galpin, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for corporate property, said: “By purchasing and managing the Carlton Road site we are providing opportunities for businesses to invest and grow. There is a limited availability of unlet units and a healthy demand, so a reasonable return on investment can be expected. This will continue our efforts to replace government funding. However, the emphasis on this project is to continue to support business growth, which is a guarantee for the future of our borough.”

For more information on Carlton Road Business Park, which is just one mile from J9 of the M20, contact the Altus Group. Call Tom Booker on 07584 237141, email tom.booker@altusgroup.com or visit www.altusgroup.com

Research shows that businesses that grow, increase market share and prosper place innovation and creativity in particular at the heart of their operations. By contrast, the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’ is the perennial issue that has perplexed and frustrated governments and business leaders since the time the late Harold Wilson made his ‘White heat of technology’ speech in the 1960s. Five decades later the government’s Industrial Strategy places productivity at the centre of its mission to transform business and industry in the next twenty years. 2019 – a pivotal year In 2019 businesses will operate against the backdrop of one of the greatest periods of economic, political and financial uncertainty in modern times. Challenges abound, including the growing impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the expansion of data. To help businesses Kent Innovation & Enterprise, the University’s business and innovation gateway, provides access to funding schemes and initiatives to support innovation, creativity and enterprise for companies of all sizes. These include: Industrial Strategy funding to support productivity growth in areas such as AI and data, clean growth, future mobility and planning for an ageing society; EIRA (Enabling Innovation Research to Application) funding to access research expertise for businesses; Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to focus funding and resources on the strategic needs of businesses. Coupled with these initiatives is a programme of larger-scale funding through Innovate UK covering key areas of science and innovation to support longer-term business development such as product design and testing, new services, the application of new technology and innovation in key sectors. The Chamber and Kent Innovation & Enterprise organise programmes of events to explore key issues, build networks, respond to challenges, prepare for change, investigate new ideas and drive innovation and creativity. As an example, Kent Innovation & Enterprise is delivering the HR Business Breakfast on ‘The perils and pitfalls of organisational group decision-making - and how to overcome them’ on the 7th March 2019. The following month (10th April 2019) we will host the Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise Showcase, addressing issues on the theme of ‘Solving the UK’s productivity puzzle’. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and Kent Innovation & Enterprise are proud to be part of a network of support for businesses. We would encourage you, whatever size your business, to actively engage with us so that we understand your needs and design a package of support to meet the immediate and evolving needs of your business. For more information please visit www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise email: enterprise@kent.ac.uk or phone 01227 82 73 76 Thinking Business


SOLVING THE UK’S PRODUCTIVITY PUZZLE/ ICE SHOWCASE Wednesday 10 April 2019, 9am – 1.30pm Canterbury Campus, University of Kent The Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise (ICE) Showcase will bring together business and university knowledge to address the challenges of improving productivity in the modern economy. The UK ‘productivity puzzle’ is a perennial issue that has perplexed and frustrated governments and business leaders since the late Harold Wilson made his ‘white heat of technology’ speech in the 1960s. Five decades on, the government’s Industrial Strategy places productivity at the centre of its mission to transform business and industry in the next twenty years. The Engineering Employers Federation and the Office for National Statistics analysis reveals that UK productivity growth remains over 16% lower than it was eleven years ago, during the recession that followed the financial crash. This event will provide a mixture of talks, workshops, one-to-one meetings and networking to explore the latest technologies, research and innovation available to businesses, the public sector and organisations in the third sector. The event is free to attend and refreshments and lunch will be provided. For more information and to book your place contact the Innovation & Enterprise team today. enterprise@kent.ac.uk 01227 82 73 76 www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise

Members News

Farm team plants trees

Production team members at Kent fruit grower AC Goatham & Son have been planting trees over the past year - 220,000 so far at their orchards in Medway, Swale and East Kent.

The team, led by Production Manager Peter Bukowski, have finished planting by hand varieties such as British Royal Gala and Cameo, conference pears and a new variety of apple. The new orchards will be finished off in the New Year with pollinator trees. These attract bees and pollinating insects into the orchards, which in turn help to pollinate the blossom in the Spring. Clive Goatham, Senior Partner at AC Goatham & Son, said: “I’m very proud of the fantastic work by our production team. It is an amazing achievement and has been brilliantly managed. Given the poor weather conditions recently,

I think this is the greatest result by this time of the year that our team has ever managed.”

New orchards are planted in the winter months once harvesting has finished and whilst the trees are dormant. AC Goatham & Son has now planted in excess of 1.5 million new fruit trees over recent years, helping to increase the production of British home-grown apples and pears and displacing the need for imported fruit. The company has 28 farms across Medway and Kent and annually grows about 250m apples and 50m pears, supplying supermarkets across the UK.

New role for Nicola

Nicola Smith has joined Leigh Academies Trust in a new role as Event Sales & Business Development Management for LAT Enterprises.

Nicola will be dedicated to driving income generation across the 23 academies within the Trust. Each of the trust’s academies has facilities to hire externally. These include lecture theatres, sports halls, outdoor space and much more. The sole purpose of the company is to raise funds for the benefit of all students attending academies within Leigh Academies Trust. Every year the company will gift-aid profits to enhance the curriculum provision within the academies.

Nicola has joined us from the hospitality industry working for large hotel brands in Kent. She said: “I am delighted to be part of an exciting opportunity to build up new networks and showcase the fantastic facilities that our academies have. Knowing that the revenue generated is going back into our schools, makes me excited to promote this to local businesses to consider our venues for conference and meeting space as well as the community for social events.”

Disputes Conflicts, failure to agree Not all business runs smoothly – disputes inevitably occur. These can be costly, sour long term relationships and impact future profitability. So it’s important to resolve them as effectively as possible. Whitehead Monckton’s Dispute Resolution team can provide you with expert advice and strategies to resolve your business disputes. Ranked in Chambers and Legal 500, we have an enviable track record - achieving excellent agreements whilst preserving future relationships. Take the first important step before the gloves really come off – contact us today on

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Whitehead Monckton Limited (no. 08366029), registered in England & Wales. Registered office 5 Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under no. 608279. TB 2/19

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Members News

Cinema opens

December saw the opening of the new Ashford Picturehouse in Elwick Place, bringing a state-ofthe-art six-screen cinema, bar, cafe and restaurant to the community. Clare Binns, Joint Managing Director of Picturehouse, said: “Picturehouse is delighted to be bringing a neighbourhood cinema to the thriving town of Ashford. We’re working hard to become the hub for all those that want to see the best films from around the world.”

Carol McKay, Director of Programming at Picturehouse Cinemas, said: “From quality mainstream movies to the best of world cinema, we look forward to bringing a diverse range of films to our new six-screen home in Ashford. Our programme caters to all audience tastes, budgets and backgrounds, with strands like Kids’ Club, free Member screenings, Slackers Club for students, Dementia-Friendly and weekly curated shows within Discover Tuesday and Vintage Sundays. We’re looking forward to introducing Ashford to the Picturehouse experience.” Ashford Picturehouse features a spacious foyer and outdoor and indoor seating. A large auditorium will be available for affordable private hires and community functions in a relaxed and stylish space. The cinema has six screens, half of which are capable of screening 3D titles. Ashford Picturehouse will also be the first Picturehouse Cinema to have a laser projector. This uses the latest digital cinema technology and is more energy efficient than traditional projectors. Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council , said: “This is the first time that Picturehouse has invested in Kent and I’m delighted that the borough continues to be a real draw for the very best commercial enterprises and remains an obvious choice for expanding, thriving and established businesses.”


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World first set to boost Kent economy

Business leaders have welcomed the unveiling of two Marco Pierre White-backed restaurants at a hotel in Dover. The four star Best Western Plus Dover Marina Hotel is now home to Mr White’s English Chophouse and Wheeler’s Fish and Chips, both launched with the backing of cooking’s enfant terrible, the inimitable Marco Pierre White. Dover MP Charlie Elphicke unveiled the restaurants at the hotel on Waterloo Crescent, which offers stunning sea views as well as great food. He welcomed the hotel’s transformation and said the new restaurants would be a major boost to the town and the district. The Chophouse is only the third in the country, following the launch of the brand in London

and Manchester earlier this year, while Wheeler’s Fish and Chips has been set up with support from Garry Rosser, who runs the award-winning Scallop Shell in Bath, said to be Marco’s favourite fish and chip outlet. At a well-supported launch event, Black & White Hospitality Managing Director Brandie Deignan pointed out that the hotel was the first in the world to offer a choice of two Marco-inspired restaurants in the same place. Managing Director Mr K Rajaseelan (universally known as Seelan) said he was “absolutely delighted that

Marco has shown such faith in the hotel by allowing us to showcase his brand”. He told guests, including Vice Chairman of Dover District Council David Hannent and his wife Linda, that the launch of the two new restaurants was not just great news for the hotel but also great news for the town and the district. Seelan said: “Dover has a great deal of potential, and as the leading hotel in the town, we are determined to play our part, too, in raising awareness of Dover and what it has to offer for businesses, visitors and investors.”

Brachers advises NHS Trust in seminal employment case ruling

Brachers has successfully represented Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in a widely-watched High Court case in which a consultant psychiatrist sought an injunction against the Trust to prevent it from potentially finding her guilty of gross misconduct.

The High Court removed an earlier interim injunction and costs were awarded in favour of the Trust.

The case arose when Dr Caroline Ardron, a consultant psychiatrist employed by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, was the responsible clinician for a patient admitted to the healthcare wing of HMP Lewes prison. Concerns arose regarding Dr Ardron’s conduct in connection with the patient and an investigation following the doctor’s disciplinary process (MHPS) was undertaken. Dr Ardron issued proceedings in the High Court for an interim, and final, injunction to restrain the Trust from holding a disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct. The case advanced by Dr Ardron was that it would be a breach of her contract of employment for the Trust to pursue a case of gross

misconduct against her at a disciplinary hearing. She submitted that the findings documented in the Investigation Report were not capable, taken at their highest, of amounting to gross misconduct. She further submitted that her actions should not be considered cumulatively, but that the allegations should be considered separately and in isolation of one another.

“We were very pleased to have successfully represented Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in this important case. The ruling is clear: while a small number of incidents of negligence may not amount to gross misconduct, a number of more serious incidents, that are closely linked, may be considered together and may justify a gross misconduct case being brought. This judgment provides clarity to NHS employers in cases of this nature and specifically the requirements of MHPS processes. It also has wider ramifications for employers in other sectors who are considering bringing gross misconduct cases against employees and provides clarity around the threshold for findings of gross misconduct.”

Catherine Daw, Head of Employment at Brachers, said:

Brachers is a leading law firm in Kent.

The Trust defended the proceedings on the basis that there was sufficient evidence to support an allegation of potential gross misconduct. Additionally the allegations were so closely linked that they should not be considered in isolation, but rather, cumulatively to form the correct view of Dr Ardron’s conduct, treatment and care of the patient. The High Court ruled in favour of the Trust.

New partner joins practice

Members News

Leading South East architectural and planning practice Lee Evans Partnership has appointed Liz Gibney as Partner. Liz, formerly Head of Place at Home Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations, becomes the practice’s first Partner to be appointed from a client organisation.

She has wide-ranging expertise in residential design and master planning and her appointment will help to strengthen the practice’s ability to deliver large-scale housing projects, particularly those for housing associations and local authorities. As well as working for several leading design practices including Broadway Malyan and Levitt Bernstein – where she collaborated closely with David

Levitt – Liz has served as design advisor to Design South East, Essex Design Advisory Panel and Building Schools for the Future. She said: “I am excited about being part of a practice which combines a strong design focus with an in-depth understanding of the planning environment and stakeholder consultation so seamlessly. “I believe that as architects, we should be advocates of socially-responsible design which respects the well-being of the people who use our buildings and are shaped by the communities for which they are conceived.

“My experience client-side has given me a strong understanding of the process by which high quality housing can be delivered at relatively low cost and I look forward to applying this thinking to my work at Lee Evans Partnership.”

Liz, who read architecture at Newcastle University and subsequently at The Bartlett, University College London, has designed projects including Holly Street Estate – the regeneration of a run-down area of Hackney, North London – and Persona, a residential development in Hull which was runner-up in the WhatHouse 2018 ‘Best House’ category. She is co-founder of

the charity ‘Dover smART Project’ which supports disadvantaged people in the town.

Nick Lee Evans, Senior Partner, Lee Evans Partnership, said: “It’s great to be welcoming Liz to the practice as a Partner after working with her so closely as a client. It is a true meeting of minds and values.”

Furley Page to sponsor Kent Invicta Chamber's 'Muesli Mafia' breakfast networking events

Leading Kent law firm Furley Page has been announced as the headline sponsor for the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce’s Muesli Mafia Breakfast Networking events in Ashford and Maidstone during 2019. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce hosts regular Muesli Mafia events, which provide an informal business-to-business networking breakfast. Guest speakers cover a range of topics that are relevant to many business sectors.

Peter Hawkes, Senior Partner at Furley Page, said: "We are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. The Muesli Mafia events are highly valued by

the local business community and provide very worthwhile B2B networking opportunities, alongside informative presentations by some of Kent’s leading business experts."

The first Muesli Mafia to be sponsored by Furley Page will be held at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel on Thursday 14 February from 7:30am to 9:30am. A full English breakfast (or Muesli alternative) is provided.

Events will be held on the following dates:

• 14 February (Maidstone)

• 13 March 2019 (Ashford)

• 23 May 2019 (Maidstone) • 20 June 2019 (Ashford)

• 15 August 2019 (Maidstone)

• 12 September 2019 (Ashford)

• 21 November 2019 (Maidstone) • 4 December 2019 (Ashford)

To find out more and book your place, visit Kent Invicta Chamber website: https://www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events/mueslimaidstone/

Members Price: £24.00 (GBP) Non-members Price: £36.00 (GBP)

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Spotlight on Ashford


Big year ahead for Ashford

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Everyone agrees that 2018 was a bumper year for exciting developments in Ashford with the first occupants taking up office space in the impressive looking Commercial Quarter, the magical Snowdogs art trail capturing the hearts of visitors young and old, the arrival of an Aldi superstore, and the opening of Elwick Place leisure complex, including the new boutique Picturehouse cinema.

Spotlight on Ashford

Elwick Place Not to be outdone, 2019 is shaping up to go one better with the Chapel Down Brewery opening in the spring, the Designer Outlet extension ready to welcome bargainhungry shoppers in the autumn, plans to transform disused industrial buildings close to the International station into a chic food and drink destination, plus much more. The pace of economic growth continues to accelerate in Ashford, with nearly £670m being invested across the borough, of which £520m is helping to change the skyline of the town centre. New national brands have arrived, including Deichmann and Metro Bank. Brewing success The arrival of a 1.6 acre craft brewery experience – The Curious Brewery from English wines expert, Chapel Down – will enable it to grow its domestic and international distribution and contribute to the borough’s strong tourism offer. Curious Brewery is owned by Chapel Down Group, one of the UK’s

most exciting drinks companies and the owner of Chapel Down wines. The multi-million pound, stateof-the art, custom-built brewery also includes a shop, bar, restaurant and hosting area for tours. The Curious Brewery will create dozens of jobs. £90m retail expansion McArthurGlen Designer Outlet is expanding, adding 100,000 sq ft of retail space and creating 500 jobs through the introduction of 50 new luxury and premium brands. The expansion will see an exciting new ‘Garden of England’ themed playground, new Food Piazza, dedicated events space, Changing Places facility and Europe’s largest living wall added to the centre. The centre welcomes 3.6m visitors per year, expected to rise to around five million per year over the next five years. The expansion will create a flagship shopping and leisure destination in the South East, providing a complementary offer to the town centre that driving long-term economic benefits for Ashford.

The Coachworks Ashford Borough Council is working with award-winning Carl Turner Architects on adapting several disused industrial buildings into a mixed-use campus providing a cool food and drink destination, flexible indoor/outdoor event space and co-working space aimed at start-up firms. The Coachworks is expected to open later in the year.

Carl Turner designed projects like Pop Brixton and Peckham Levels, which have seen areas of London transformed into popular leisure and workspaces. The firm is running The Coachworks on behalf of the council. Several industrial buildings close to the station, including the former Ashford Youth Theatre and Corn Store, will be converted into a vibrant space providing new work and leisure uses.

The Coachworks

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Spotlight on Ashford

Chilmington Green New look for Victoria Way As well as the eye-catching Curious Drinks brewery and 18,500 sq ft Aldi superstore, there is plenty going on along Victoria Way. Victoria Point will see an upmarket 120 bed hotel, 216 apartments and three retail units built while the former Powergen brownfield site is making way for Riverside Park, boasting 246 apartments and 26 townhouses. Junction 10a shaping up Rapid progress is being made on the new £104m junction at J10a of the M20. The longawaited junction is being built 700 metres south east of the existing J10 and promises to be a catalyst for further economic and commercial development, providing muchneeded extra transport capacity. The junction – the third to serve Ashford – is due to open to traffic later this year. New homes investment soars According to the Ashford Local Plan, the borough’s population is expected to soar from 127,500 in 2017 to around 150,000 by 2030, statistics which are helping to drive the current boom in house building. Among the developments which are creating the homes of tomorrow is the award-winning Crest Nicholson estate at Finberry, where a number of live/work houses are available,


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designed to combine modern, open-plan living space on the first and second floors, and a purpose-built workspace on the ground floor. The first new homes at Chilmington Green are taking shape – 5,750 residential units will be built on a site to the west of Ashford, with developers committed to adhering to the ‘Ashford standard’ which governs strict living space standards for interiors and also gardens. Another 300 contemporary homes are being built at Conningbrook Lakes, part of Ashford’s new country park which is taking shape in the shadow of the North Downs. Council-led growth The 28-unit Carlton Road Business Park is the latest addition to Ashford Borough Council’s corporate property portfolio. The council operates like a business and this entrepreneurial approach

has been driven by the need to deliver services in the face of reduced formula grant funding from the government. Ashford’s corporate property portfolio includes International House, Park Mall shopping centre, Ellingham Industrial Estate, retail units at Stanhope, and the town centre cinema, hotel and leisure complex in Elwick Place. Scale Up Ashford

Scale Up Ashford is a pioneering programme and was the first council-funded scale up programme in the South East. It is being delivered in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. It is a programme aimed at offering bespoke, intensive support to businesses that have a huge amount of growth potential with the aim of creating jobs and boosting the economy in a long-term sustainable way.

The first cohort of the programme was a success with initial results creating a 21% average increase in turnover, 17 new jobs and half a million pounds worth of investment in plant and machinery within the participating companies within the six-month period. Following the highly successful first cohort of six businesses in 2017/8, the programme kicked off again in 2018/9 with an expanded cohort of 10 businesses. They are Quantum Public Relations, 6-2 Design, Index Enclosures, Destra Engineering, Centrobed, Kinetico International, Space Between Group, Flowbird, MPR IT Solutions and Thomas Auto Injection Centre. A workshop brought this group together with the first cohort, who passed on their experiences to the new cohort. The combined results for both cohorts currently stand at 20% average level of GVA growth, £1.5 million pounds of investment in capital expenditure and improvements within the businesses, and 33 jobs created. A third cohort will be selected this spring. To register your interest please complete a form here: www.scaleupashford.co.uk

Carlton Road Business Park

15th M ay Kent 20/20 Vision Detling Showground

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Kent Social Enterprise Loan Fund Are you a social enterprise or charity? Kent Community Foundation is offering unsecured loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 which includes an element of up to 30% grant of the loan amount.

Please call for an initial chat with our Investment Funds Manager to see if you meet our criteria on 01303 814 500 or email jamesh@kentcf.org.uk

www.kentcf.org.uk Charity No: 1084361 Company No: 4088589



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One Ashford Hospital Your Local Private Hospital One Ashford is Kent’s local private hospital, developed and designed with the patient in mind. We are easily accessible, located just off the M20 at Junction 10 and provide free onsite parking for all patients and visitors.

One Ashford Physiotherapy One Ashford Hospital offers outpatient physiotherapy assessment and treatments for a variety of conditions. Our dedicated team are highly experienced, chartered physiotherapists that practice in a modern and fully equipped physiotherapy suite. Our aim is to provide you with fast, easy access to specialist practitioners who can help you achieve your rehabilitation goals – however big or small.

Based in the heart of the community of Ashford and surrounding villages, One Ashford is perfectly placed to serve all its local residents.

Our friendly and dynamic team will assess, diagnose and treat your condition using a holistic approach encompassing education and support, so that you can swiftly return to your normal activities, work or sports.

We also offer competitive fixed priced packages on our self-pay procedures, with 0% and low interest finance available*

Why choose One Ashford Hospital? At One Ashford, you will be treated in a brand new purpose-built hospital where we offer excellent, dignified patient care in a private calm environment. One Ashford Hospital







William Harvey Hospital Ashford







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For further information, contact our Reservations team on 01233 885777, or email selfpay@onehealthcare.co.uk



Ashford town centre



A 20 7



Contact our Physiotherapy department direct on 01233 423260 for further information, or email at physiotherapy@onehealthcare.co.uk

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Conditions that we frequently treat at One Ashford Hospital include: • Neck and back pain • Nerve pain • Arthritis • Rehabilitation • Headaches • Sports injuries • Urinary incontinence

We are welcomed and recognised by all major insurers, so if you have private health insurance, it is worth checking your policy to see if your insurer could cover the cost of your stay.









Kennington Way, Willesborough Ashford, Kent TN24 0YS ashford.info@onehealthcare.co.uk | 01233 885777 www.oneashfordhospital.co.uk

Big squeeze on firms from recruitment, prices and cash flow


The latest British Chambers of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey found that the UK economy ended 2018 stuck in ‘a weak holding pattern’, with stagnating levels of growth and business confidence as a result of heightened Brexit uncertainty and other economic pressures.

The results of the survey of 6,000 firms – employing more than one million people across the UK – underlined the impact that the current levels of uncertainty are having on a stalling economy as growth in domestic sales and orders reduced, recruitment difficulties stand near record highs and price pressures persist. In the services sector, a key driver of UK economic growth, the percentage of firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders weakened to their lowest level in two years. Domestic activity among UK manufacturers also moderated in the quarter. The findings highlight the extent to which labour shortages have risen in the UK as four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers that tried to recruit, report difficulties in finding the right staff – the joint highest level since the survey began in 1989. In the services sector, the level (70%) hovers close to the record high recorded in the previous quarter (72%). The survey results indicate an increase in price pressures facing firms. The percentage of manufacturers expecting to raise prices is at its highest

in a year and is almost three times higher than its pre-EU referendum average. Cashflow continues to be a concern for both sectors, with the balance of firms in both sectors reporting improved cashflow remaining weak. The organisation says that avoiding a chaotic Brexit would bolster business confidence and investment and give businesses some much needed clarity on trading conditions in the near-term. Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our latest survey suggests that UK economic conditions were worryingly subdued in the final quarter of 2018, with a number of key indicators continuing to weaken under the weight of persistent Brexit uncertainty and rising cost pressures.” “Domestic activity in the dominant services sector weakened for the second successive quarter, with consumer-facing firms particularly downbeat amid subdued household spending levels and tightening cashflow. The manufacturing sector had an underwhelming three months, with significant cost pressures and moderating global demand weighing on activity in the sector.”

“The marked increase in cost pressures for businesses in the quarter suggests that inflation will be higher over the near term, with the continued weakness in sterling maintaining the upward trend on the cost of imported raw materials. However, with our results also showing that price pressures from wage settlements remain relatively muted, there continues to be sufficient scope to keep interest rates on hold in 2019, particularly given the significant economic and political turbulence.” Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The UK economy is in stasis. While it’s not contracting, it’s not growing robustly either.

Throughout much of 2018, UK businesses were subjected to a barrage of political noise and drama, so it’s no surprise to see firms report muted domestic demand and investment. In this new year, the Government must demonstrate that it is ready to act to turbocharge business confidence.” “With little clarity on the trading conditions they’ll face, companies are understandably holding back on spending and making big decisions about their futures. The Government’s absolute priority now must be to provide clarity on conditions in the near term and avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit. Business communities won’t forgive politicians who allow this to happen, by default or otherwise.”

“The marked increase in cost pressures for businesses in the quarter suggests that inflation will be higher over the near term, with the continued weakness in sterling maintaining the upward trend on the cost of imported raw materials.” Thinking Business


Big Interview

Castle Water offers a new approach to water bills

Castle Water saved customers £17 million in the first year of the new business water market. 22

Thinking Business

According to CEO John Reynolds OBE: “We knew that the new market would give opportunities to deliver savings on water bills but had not expected to achieve so much in the first year”. Reynolds puts the success down to three things: “We have relentlessly challenged historic practice where it was, frankly, sloppy. If you look at the number of formal disputes over water charges raised with the Market Operator, we have raised more than all other water retailers combined.

Big Interview Next we started investing years in advance in systems for the English market and have continued to invest heavily since the market opened. Finally we have worked hard at listening to customers in the early stages of the market, leading to redesigned bills, new payment options and more self-serve capability on our website.” Castle, which provides services such as meter reading, billing and water efficiency services in the non-household market, won its first customer in April 2014, with just two employees. Today, Castle Water serves around 600,000 business supply points nationally, with offices in Blairgowrie, Ayr, London, Portsmouth, and Leeds. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, acknowledges John. “At times, we’ve had our work cut out for us, particularly when identifying and cleansing historic customer data inaccuracies in the market. Inheriting erroneous data was something we’d anticipated, but not at the scale that transpired.” In this regard, certain industry sectors have found the transition to the new water market more challenging than others, the farming sector in the south-east being one. “Data errors and erroneous transfers into the new market by network operators have understandably raised discontent,” explains John. “With farming, this has been particularly frustrating as we work very closely with this sector in Scotland. Here, we offer a tailored service through a positive and long-standing affinity partnership with NFU Scotland, the Farmers’ Union. Since 2014, we’ve worked collaboratively to demonstrate tangible savings for this influential and very canny customer base.” By switching to Castle Water, farms in Scotland have typically saved hundreds of pounds on their water bills every year. Castle Water has also provided free Automatic Meter Reading equipment to farms with a history of leaks and to demonstrate how water management improvements can improve efficiencies.

“We’ve now rolled this service out to farmers in England,” explains John. “As well as making sure the customer account is set up correctly, we can help farmers and producers increase sustainability and cut costs with simple solutions such as accessing real-time meter readings and consumption data.” Castle Water was set up in response to a gap in the market: customers in Scotland, where the market had been opened since 2008, had a choice between small new independents with limited resources and subsidiaries of the old English monopoly customers. Customers were predominantly choosing to switch to the small independents, but as we have seen in the energy sector, this can be risky. Castle Water has the scale to offer a full range of services to customers regardless of size, but also the financial strength to reassure customers that they are dealing with a properly resourced retailer. Castle Water has a perfect score of 100 with Experian, significantly ahead of other independent utility retailers. In 2017, the English public sector went through a carefully designed procurement exercise coordinated by the Crown Commercial Service. Castle Water was the first retailer to be awarded contracts under the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework, worth a total estimated value of £500 million. This cements the company’s position as probably the largest public sector supplier in England, with numerous case studies on the CCS website recognising delivered savings and customer benefits.

Castle Water was the first water retailer to add new customers in England. With an already established customer base in Scotland, Castle Water’s first business customers in England came from Portsmouth Water in January 2016. The business portfolio for Thames Water came later the same year. “That deal shocked the market,” adds John. Last year, Castle Water took on further customers in the South East Water area, supplying business customers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. Here, Castle Water actively supports customers at the local level with an experienced team of field-based staff established in the south-east including a dedicated local commercial relationship manager. As well as recognition from national accounts such as the Crown Commercial Service, Castle Water’s customer service to small businesses has won support – Castle Water has more 5* reviews on Trustpilot than all other water retailers combined. This could only be achieved by a team that understands the market, that is focused on quality, and which has the confidence to challenge the incumbent water networks to do the right thing. “Our people are fundamental to delivering the right results for customers,” says John. “We’ve drawn on our local talent pool and invested heavily in training and development to ensure we deliver a ‘best in class’ service. Our service levels are industry leading, and with more five-star reviews on Trustpilot than all other retailers combined, you can see at a glance how individual customers

value our service. This, in turn, is encouraging new customers to switch to us” Sustained growth is proving equally positive for the employment market. Working in partnership with schools and colleges as well as with organisations such as Career Ready and Developing the Young Workforce, Castle Water has increased the number of career development opportunities available to young people. “We find that young people bring a whole new energy and perspective to our workplace, while existing employees can build both supervisory and mentoring capabilities,” says John. “It enhances staff engagement, loyalty and retention. By investing in people, we’re not only improving employability prospects for young people; we’re growing our own talent pool, strengthening our business and, in turn, delivering wider benefits for the local community and the economy at large.” Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, there are more developments in the pipeline. “We’re defining the new water market, and we’ve got big plans for the next twelve months,” confirms John. “With a committed team and investment in new, advanced systems, we're working from a strong foundation. We'll continue to invest in innovative services and products, helping customers to reduce their bills." Want to hear more from Castle Water? Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

“As well as recognition from national accounts such as the Crown Commercial Service, Castle Water’s customer service to small businesses has won support – Castle Water has more 5* reviews on Trustpilot than all other water retailers combined.” Thinking Business


Apprenticeships and Training delivered by

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skills & apprenticeships

Cover Feature

Apprenticeships Recast January 17th saw the launch of the

government’s ‘Fire It Up’ campaign,

With uncertain times ahead, there has never been a more critical time for employers to consider this potential and put workplace-based training front and centre of their agenda.

bring to a business, aiming to alter

Despite initial fears that the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and new employer-developed standards seemed to have left many businesses somewhat dazed, confused, and fearful

which focuses on the energy and

new ideas that an apprentice can outmoded views in the process.

of what they saw as just another tax, perceptions are changing and things are looking rosier. Although the government’s target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020 now looks like a pipe dream, figures released in December by The Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) showed a major increase in starts on the new apprenticeship

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Cover Feature

skills & apprenticeships “What is required is a more flexible

training levy that can help organisations fulfil a number of training and

development needs, rather than

shoehorning funds and efforts into the apprenticeships model alone.”

standards, with 163,700 starts in 2017/18 – a huge increase from 24,600 in 2016/17.

Despite this, barriers still remain in the bid to ensure as many businesses as possible see the long-term benefits of the apprenticeship levy, which is still far too rigid to work in practice for many employers. What is required is a more flexible training levy that can help organisations fulfil a number of training and development needs, rather than shoehorning funds and efforts into the apprenticeships model alone.

It seems the government has been listening to these pleas. Within the last year, it has introduced some freedoms for businesses to spend their levy funds more flexibly, including increasing the level of funds that can be transferred to other businesses in a supply chain from 10% to 25% from April 2019.

As part of his budget statement in October, the Chancellor also announced an important change to the fees small


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businesses are obliged to pay when taking on apprentices. Under current measures, non-levy paying SMEs must pay an employer contribution of 10 per cent of the cost of training apprentices. This is now being halved to 5 per cent.

In the same statement, a rise to the minimum wage for apprentices was announced – a welcome move considering a recent survey conducted by the Young Women’s Trust,

showed many had been put off doing an apprenticeship due to it being financially unviable. Currently, if an apprentice is aged between 16 and 18, or they are 19 or older but in the first year of their apprenticeship, then the minimum amount that they should be paid is £3.70 per hour. This will rise in April to £3.90.

If an apprentice is past the first year of their apprenticeship,

and they are above 19 years of age, then they are legally entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age group. As of April 2018, this stands at: • 18 to 20 - £5.90 per hour

• 21 to 24 - £7.38 per hour

• 25 and over - £7.83 per hour

Amongst all the heated debate, poring over stats and headscratching, we can lose sight of what an exceptional apprentice can bring to a business. One such apprentice is Natashia Whitewood, studying an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Maintenance, which includes the Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Engineering. Her training provider is Ashford College and her employer, engineering & metal work group MJ Allen, specialises in machining large complex sand castings, producing parts for the marine and medical industry as well as developing and producing an innovative all-wheel drive gearbox for the new Ford Transit.

skills & apprenticeships

Cover Feature

“There is an aging workforce in the castings and machining area and

we’re one of the very few foundries

left now in Kent. It’s only been within the last 10 years that we’ve realised

the need to implement an apprenticeship programme and we’re really seeing the benefits.”

Michelle Sinclair, the firm’s HR Manager says: “There is an aging workforce in the castings and machining area and we’re one of the very few foundries left now in Kent. It’s only been within the last 10 years that we’ve realised the need to implement an apprenticeship programme and we’re really seeing the benefits. ”The scheme had worked successfully in our machine shop, so we implemented it more widely across the business.

“Natashia has come on in leaps and bounds. She is hugely efficient, and it has worked well for everybody. Our Head of Maintenance is very pleased with her progress and the whole team are really appreciative in having such an eager learner.”

Natashia adds: “I was working as a chef, but had decided that the catering industry

wasn’t for me – the hours were fairly gruelling and I wanted my Christmas holidays back!” “Being part of the maintenance team offers very diverse work: installation, fault-finding, frame work, roof work, plumbing, welding and casting leak testing. And the requirement to provide evidence for my HNC gives me that extra push in my work.” Although the government still has one eye on its ambitious 30 million apprenticeship starts target, it’s clear this is not a numbers game, but a matter of further increasing flexibility, both in course content and levy spending and simplifying the process to accessing funding. Only then can barriers be removed to enable wider participation in the skills revolution.

By Philip Orrell of the Hadlow Group

www.ashford.ac.uk/apprenticeships www.westkent.ac.uk/apprenticeships www.hadlow.ac.uk/apprenticeships

“Amongst all the heated debate, poring over stats and head-scratching, we can lose sight of what an exceptional apprentice can bring to a business.” Thinking Business


Fill your skills gap through North Kent College

Our recent Ofsted inspection (November 2017) rated us Grade 2 'Good' once again and with nearly 5,000 students and apprentices learning their skills and training with us, the College offers one of the best talent pools in Kent and South East London. Employers working with North Kent College take advantage of these talents in a number of flexible ways, from offering relevant industry placements, apprenticeships or graduate employment, to shortterm work experience projects. Based on the level of skills, training and expertise gained during our student's time at college, the opportunities for local employers to benefit are wide and benefits include: • Filling your skills gaps, including specialist skills


Thinking Business

Having invested more than £90 million in facilities and commercial-standard resources, North Kent College is 11th college nationally and has an 87% student achievement rate.

• Helping your succession planning • Reducing recruitment costs • Reducing training costs • Moulding staff to the skills specific to your industry • Making your business more competitive • Improving productivity • Motivating staff and reducing staff turnover • Providing a significant return on investment Students on some of our courses are expected to gain about 50 days significant industry placement in a business relevant to their study programme. We are always looking for mentors and employers to assist the students by offering good quality industry placements.

The placement can be paid if you wish, but this is not necessary as it is part of the student’s study programme. What is key, is that students gain the opportunity to work in a commercial setting and engage with clients and other trained professionals and become career-ready.

Our students come from all over South East London, Bexley, Sevenoaks and Medway, as well as Dartford and Gravesend, so we would welcome any organisations able to offer placements in these areas. The industry placement scheme is open to students on Level 2 and 3 courses who have already been at College for at least one year and are, therefore, part-skilled before they enter the workplace.

Students are also given preemployment training to ensure they understand workplace etiquette, communications and are equipped with employability skills.

Progression routes for students after completion of their course include apprenticeship programmes or full-time employment. The placement scheme therefore gives employers the opportunity to have a student in the workplace, who ultimately you may consider for one of these progression routes into your organisation.

If you can assist with helping our students become career-ready, please contact us to discuss business@northkent.ac.uk or call 01322 629490

How the Cloud can set your Small Business Free The “Cloud” has matured from being just a popular buzzword, into a tool that most of us have heard about.

Many small business owners still don’t know much about the real benefits. I want to give you an insight into what the Cloud is and why it is so important for your business. What is the Cloud? At its simplest, the Cloud is any technology that is stored and accessed via the internet. Services like email, Facebook and Dropbox are cloud services. In its most complete form, it completely changes the way you, your people and your business works, compared to traditional IT. You and your team can work from anywhere, on any device, without compromising on availability, functions or security.

How is the Cloud different to traditional IT? The traditional method of using technology, involves storing your software & data on computers in your office. This is expensive to purchase and time consuming to maintain, both for you and your IT person. You are totally dependent on your office, or your computers to be able to work. Even if you work from home you need to connect to your office to access your software. If any of your computers fail, or your office experiences a power cut or a flood, you are unable to work effectively. The Cloud removes these risks. If your office experiences a power cut, or flood, you can go somewhere else, connect to the internet and carry on as normal.

If your computer fails, or is stolen, you simply pick up a spare, or use your tablet or smartphone to continue working without disruption. Why should you care? Did I mention potentially saving you time and money? Cut down on travel costs by using video chat instead of so many meetings. Save time, wasted waiting for email responses, by working together, in real time, on documents. Increase security by having hundreds of experts looking after your documents, no more hoping that one computer in the office never fails. Reduce energy costs and usage by being able to use your computers for longer before needing replacing, perhaps even remove the need and cost of a permanent office altogether!

Summary All businesses need reliable technology, that doesn’t cost the earth. Cloud computing gives you the reliability you need, while saving you money and giving you the confidence to get on with running your business. Paul Goggin has over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry; Innovo Consulting can help you use the Cloud to save time and money in your business.

Chamber Members can book a free Cloud assessment, worth £100 at www.innovo-it.com/chamber

Free staff handbook review For one month only, starting from 1 February 2019, CWJ are offering a complimentary staff handbook and employment contract review. To book your review please call our Employment Law team on 01689 323084 or email judith.curran@cwj.co.uk

Thinking Business


Looking for a fantastic location

Locate in Kent

to grow your creative or digital business? Kent is the place.

It’s an exciting time for the creative and digital industries in Kent and Medway.

Folkestone Harbour Arm. Photo courtesy Visit Kent


Thinking Business

proudly working with the likes of Google from their offices in Folkestone’s vibrant Creative Quarter. They’re among 7,000 creative and digital companies, now located in Kent and Medway showing the way. “Our goal was to move to London initially thinking it was the only way we could build a large scale, successful agency, but we realised that wasn’t required or necessary,” says Ant, managing director of the Sleeping Giant group of companies. “We can see France from our window, we can get on a high-speed train and be in London in under an hour, which is impressive. It’s proved an absolutely fantastic place to be,” Luke, co-founder and group CEO, adds. Gavin Cleary, CEO Locate in Kent, said: “Kent and Medway has so much to offer the creative and digital sector. Our job at Locate in Kent is to show those not yet here what they’re missing. We can also provide expert guidance and support to help businesses already here to seize every opportunity to achieve their ambitions.” • Need help growing your creative or digital business? From property and site selection to access to funding; skills advice and sector expertise, call: 01732 520700 or visit: www.locateinkent.com

Artistic trailblazers. Digital game-changers. Design groundbreakers.

Kent inspires.

Join the creatives Over the past five years Kent’s creative and digital sector has grown by up to 150% - from award winning advertisers to gaming software innovators and film pioneers. Come and join the future.


Image: Luke Quilter, CEO, Sleeping Giant Media, Folkestone

In towns across the region from Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Chatham to Canterbury, Folkestone and Margate more and more of these innovative companies are seeing the benefits of being positioned in Kent. Kent and Medway is already making its mark on the fastest growing business sector in the UK, which contributes a GVA of £101.5bn per annum to the national economy, more than the automotive, life sciences, aerospace, and oil and gas sectors combined. From large household names through to small creative enterprises an ecosystem of expertise is emerging in Kent and Medway from IT services; publishing; the arts through to design; architecture and advertising. And it’s not just the success of companies like Dovetail Games in The Historic Dockyard, Chatham and Wildwood Media in Maidstone that is building the county’s reputation in the creative and digital arena. The University for the Creative Arts, based in Medway, is one of a number of further and higher education providers delivering a growing pool of creative talent with the skills that existing and future businesses can tap into to support their future growth. Award-winning digital and search marketing agency Sleeping Giant Media was set up in a dining room in 2008 by Luke Quilter and Anthony Klokkou. Ten years on they are one of the highest regarded in their field,

Social Enterprises and charities in Kent receive £1.5 million through the social lending programme

Since its launch in 2012, the Kent Social Enterprise Loan Fund (KSELF), delivered by Kent Community Foundation, has provided loans and grants to the value of £1,510,000 to 36 organisations across the county. KSELF bridges the increasing funding gap for Kent’s new and existing social enterprises, by offering unsecured loans of between £10k and £100k. The financial package includes an element of up to a 30% grant.

The programme was originally established with funding from KCC in 2012 and received a financial boost in 2017 thanks to The Growth Fund, managed by Access - The Foundation for Social Investment and funded by Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive at Kent Community Foundation comments: “The aim of the fund is to spread the

culture of social enterprise and break down the barriers which prevent enterprising social businesses from accessing finance. We hope that the 30% grant offering alongside the loan will encourage more organisations to consider this funding option.”

There is a flat interest rate remaining fixed throughout the term and business support is provided by a dedicated Investment Funds Manager throughout the process.

Bemix CIC received a £70,000 loan and £10,000 grant for their internship programme to offer work placements to 16-24 year olds with learning disabilities.

Matt Clifton, Bemix CEO comments; “The Kent Social Enterprise Loan Fund was a game changer for us, funding the administration, systems, skills and team needed to reach many more young people. Thinking of the six who were overjoyed to get jobs last year, we simply could not have done it without the loan. KCF went further, connecting us with employers, influencers, and other funding. Our deepest thanks go to all at KCF for making our future growth and impact possible.”

Visit kentcf.org.uk/loans/ social-enterprises or or email jamesh@kentcf.org.uk for more information.

Members News

Re-brand for Kent building company

Expansion at a Kent building company has meant a slight re-brand, changing its name from Renovize Homes to Mazter Homes, but customers still come first. At Mazter Homes they listen

carefully to what customers need,

and provide a detailed project

plan from exterior to interior and

then build. With over 15 years

experience and an established

portfolio, they can take the stress out of your next building project,

by providing you with an all-in-one

building service, including

architectural drawings and

planning applications.

For further information visit

VooServers helps Academy Trust


The CEO of an academic charity has praised UK infrastructure company VooServers for helping them to transform the lives of students in Kent after they donated computers and a server to the academy. The FAR Academy Trust is a unique facility that provides an alternative education programme for young people aged 16-24 years old that may otherwise struggle in a regular classroom setup. There are up to 12 children per class, who learn practical skills to help them into the world of work. The fully-accredited academy offers NCFE business and enterprise courses, as well as teaching Maths and English skills.

Brent Lewis, CEO of the FAR Academy Trust in Whitstable, recently showed Vooservers Technical Director Matt Parkinson, and other members of the team, around the educational learning hub to see how the students are benefiting from the computers.

Young people are able to flourish at The FAR Academy by learning in a relaxed environment, with the opportunity to burn off some steam in the onsite skate park if they need to. Through the donation of the computers by VooServers, the young people are able to complete the vocational and project-based areas of the

qualifications more easily. This includes research tasks, printing designs and using CAD software for the laser cutter.

Brent Lewis said: “The support that we have received from VooServers has been invaluable. Supplying our charity with a server and computers for our young people to use, has made an amazing difference to their learning experience. This addition in the facilities that we are able to provide has become an integral part of their learning journeys.”

does some fantastic work with the young people of Kent, who might otherwise not get the support they need from the education system. Knowing that they rely on donations and corporate sponsorship from businesses, I knew I wanted to donate some computers.”

“We are so grateful for the kindness and continuing guidance that VooServers has shown and look forward to continuing this relationship as the academy expands in the future.”

Matt Parkinson, VooServers founder and Technical Director, said: “The FAR Academy Trust

Thinking Business


Saving lives for over 50 years

Kenward Trust has been delivering residential alcohol and drug recovery projects for men and women for over 50 years. Nationally recognised for its successful outcomes working within a safe and supported environment and away from the distractions of everyday life. Our treatment programmes last between 12-24 weeks, however we can offer a completely bespoke and tailor made programmes to suit the needs of the individual.

Looking for something different for your next meeting? The Kenward Trust Conference Centre is based in our beautiful Georgian manor house with grounds of 15 acres in the heart of the Kent countryside. We have a wide variety of refreshments and catering packages available to suit your needs.

For more information please call

01622 814187

or email

enquiry@kenwardtrust.org.uk Registered charity no. 1146481. Registered in England no. 7931728.




The South East’s premier business showcase event

Business 15th May 2019, Kent Event Centre Reserve your FREE place at


Thinking Business

Trust follows 50th anniversary with plea for business support

The Person behind the Business

Nestled in the Kent countryside is the headquarters of a remarkable organisation which recently celebrated fifty years of acting as a lifeline for thousands of people in need. The Kenward Trust, which helps men and women get their lives back on track after experiencing problems like drug and alcohol dependency and homelessness, was founded in 1968 and today its services are more in need than ever. As it presses ahead with expansion plans, Trust CEO Penny Williams is seeking business support to help fund the work that it does. The Trust was founded by Ray and Violet Sinden, who had a strong Christian faith. They had five daughters and two sons who worked together on the family farm in Weald, near Sevenoaks. The events that led to the Trust’s formation began in 1965 when, at the age of 48, Ray became a Christian. The couple’s eldest daughter, Olive, was friendly with young Church Army Captain Paul Deeming, who worked amongst the homeless people on the streets of London. Many of them had been sober for weeks and wished to remain in recovery, but there was no place that would give them shelter once they left, leading them back to the old habits. Ray decided to take some of the men home for rehabilitation. He offered them a four-roomed flat over a garage block and

they joined the family for meals, Bible study and leisure at the farmhouse. The first man arrived in June 1967 but, in time, the farm became overcrowded and the family decided to sell up in order to purchase a much larger house, to help a greater number of homeless people. A large country estate near Maidstone called ‘Kenward’ was up for sale. It had 37 rooms and stood in 15 acres of farmland. In July 1968, Ray and Violet moved into Kenward House, with five children and five men. Today, the Trust takes in about 200 residents each year across eight buildings, with services including helping them with their rehabilitation from drug and alcohol dependency. The work is as important as ever, according to Penny. She said: “The issues are not going away and the big frustration for us is that funding is being reduced all the time. “Our biggest frustration is that the health service has to tick boxes so ends up putting people on prescriptions rather than putting them through rehabilitation. ‘It is actually cheaper to put someone through rehabilitation than have them continually being picked up by the police or going back to hospital but

the box-ticking mentality is a problem. Some people selfmedicate and end up becoming addicts that way. “The problems with reduced funding for rehabilitation means that we are seeing more and more people who are self-funded or whose families find themselves having to fund their treatment.” The Trust, which helps both men and women, has just launched a homeless people pilot project on site, offering beds in conjunction with Maidstone council, whose area has a particularly severe problem. It also has planning permission to develop another barn. The Trust also reaches hundreds of young people

through prevention initiatives and has an Outreach team that visits schools, shopping centres, nightclubs and anywhere else there is an opening to advise on alcohol and drugs. But all of this costs money. Penny said: “The homeless project is a good example of what we do. We cannot deal with the most complex cases we are not mental health experts, for example – but we are seeking to expand the services that we can offer. “To do that, we have to raise funds and one way we can do is attract people to the site, to enjoy the historic buildings, visit our café, walk in our grounds and use our conference facilities.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about the site’s conference facilities can contact Penny at penny.williams@kenwardtrust.org.uk

“The problems with reduced funding for

rehabilitation means that we are seeing

more and more people who are self-funded or whose families find themselves having to fund their treatment.”

Thinking Business


EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS A SIDEKICK Batman has Robin Harry Potter has Hermione Sherlock has Dr Watson Shaggy has Scooby-Doo You’ll nd Dr Watson keeping Sherlock on the straight and narrow; Robin next to Batman; Scooby right behind Shaggy. A strong leading man (or woman) is nothing without a quippy, slightly less attractive partner at their side somebody with an extra bullet or little bit of advice when it’s needed. Which pretty much describes us and our great relationship with accountants.

breakthrough partnership

Our Breakthrough Partnership programme provides R&D Tax Relief assistance designed especially for Accountants. We can give your team CPD Accredited R&D training at your of ces or a nearby venue and full support in submitting returns and the defence of any formal HMRC enquiries. We’ve completed 750 R&D claims in the last 4 years with a 100% success rate, helping our clients get back £40 million. Let us help you too.

Email brady@breakthroughgroup.co.uk or nd out more at www.breakthroughfunding.com/for-accountants


Ask the Expert

Why do I need a

Quantity Surveyor The answer is simple; by deciding not to do so you are engaging in a false economy because a Quantity Surveyor will take a lot of worry out of the project for you and stand guard over your costs.

By keeping a careful eye on the budget and overseeing the contractors to make sure that the job is being done to a high standard, you stand a much better chance of bringing in a top-notch job on budget. What’s not to love?

Whether you are developing a home or building commercial premises for your business, your thoughts will inevitably be focused on cost. It’s probably the thing that keeps you awake at night. So why would you add to that cost by bringing in a Quantity Surveyor to manage your project?

I believe that it is important that companies like ours are brought in at the beginning of projects so that we can help the client and their design team to reach a cost-effective design which suits the client’s needs and pocket.

The Quantity Surveyor can examine the design from a neutral point of view, pointing out where improvements need to be made to the architect’s drawings and giving the client a realistic sense of how much they will need to spend on the project.

Tel : 01732 897777

A Quantity Surveyor can also suggest materials which are readily available at competitive costs, which means that there are no unpleasant surprises for the client as the project proceeds. Removing any financial uncertainty right from the start of a project reduces the need for costly redesign and lost time. But that is not the end of a Quantity Surveyor’s involvement As the work proceeds on site, the Quantity Surveyor can provide a continuing service, including: • Monthly budget reports • Cash flow projections and recommending payments for work done on site to prevent over-payment • Negotiations with contractors • Final Account settlement • Advice on the building contract

In short, a Quantity Surveyor can manage the contract, allowing you to get on with the day job without worrying. If a Quantity Surveyor is appointed, you can be sure that the financial aspect of the project will be controlled in the best way possible. The services of a Quantity Surveyor cannot always be directly linked to saving of a monetary value although often it can be. However, it’s not ‘just another expense’ either because a Quantity Surveyor provides knowledge, protection and assurance. And that saves time and helps you sleep at night.

Why would you bring in a Quantity Surveyor to manage your project?

Wrong question.

Why would you not? •••

Will Savage is an Associate at Kent-based Project Focused Consulting

www.projectfocused.com ThinkingBusiness Business Thinking


Members News

Merger is completed

Cripps and Pemberton Greenish have completed their merger, which has created a major midmarket law practice.

Headquartered in Kent, the newly merged firm has offices in Tunbridge Wells, Kings Hill, the City (Cannon Green) and Chelsea. It will have a combined turnover of more than £45 million, and has more than 450 people, including 64 partners. The recently released Legal 500 rankings ably demonstrate the combined firm’s reputation and signals its strengths in real estate, private wealth and growing businesses, with 29 recommended practice areas and a top tier rating in 16 of these. Gavin Tyler and Clare Hyland remain at the helm as Managing Partner and Senior Partner respectively, with Kerry Glanville heading the firm’s Chelsea office. Gavin said: “There’s a buzz around the firm and a great enthusiasm for our strategic direction, the increased strength and depth of offering, and that our new colleagues share our keenness to continue our growth as an ambitious, forward thinking business that’s also an enjoyable place to work. “Integrating the two firm’s businesses to drive the maximum benefits to our clients is our focus in the coming months.” Kerry said: “We’re excited to be part of the newly combined Cripps and Pemberton Greenish. With a focused offering, a client centric ethos and complementary skillsets, together our expertise, resources and connections are already opening doors to new opportunities with clients current and new.”


Thinking Business

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care visits RBLI

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, has seen first-hand Royal British Legion Industries’ (RBLI) integrated model of care for veterans as the charity looks to roll out the programme for the wider community. Through their STEP-IN programme, the charity helps individuals with multiple health needs and severe disabilities, providing them with a personalised plan, designed to assess their individual requirements, give them the tools to overcome challenges and move them towards greater independence.

Mr Hancock toured RBLI’s Aylesford headquarters and the charity’s on-site social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, to meet ex-service personnel and people with disabilities at different stages of the charity’s STEP-IN programme. RBLI, which was established in 1919 into support British

troops returning from the First World War,provides care, accommodation, training and employment services to veterans and people with disabilities. The charity has a diverse range of services and facilities and offers the full care pathway – from fully independent accommodation to high dependency in its Kent village which houses more than 300 residents.

Mr Hancock said: “I’m incredibly proud of our veterans and grateful for the service they’ve given for all of us. They deserve the very best physical and mental health services. “This unique community offers fantastic support for our ex-service men and women, helping them not only manage their health conditions but overcome emotional and practical barriers to independence.”

Brachers shortlisted for Corporate Law Firm of the Year

Brachers has been shortlisted for Corporate Law Firm of the Year at the prestigious South East Dealmaker Awards 2019. The Dealmaker Awards are one of the most sought-after accolades in the corporate finance advisory community, celebrating the most successful and influential deals across the legal, accountancy, banking and funding communities. This year’s shortlist was determined by a panel of independent experts. Brachers Corporate team advises clients of all types and sizes, from owner managed businesses to

multi-national corporations. They have extensive experience in acting for each distinct party, which enables a well-rounded view of all the interests in transactions, supported by a regional knowledge which is essential, as more and more of these types of deals are staying in the South East. The team works alongside other departments across the firm as well as other professional advisors, enabling them to deliver a full service

Steve Sherry CMG OBE, Chief Executive of RBLI, said: “Over the past 100 years, RBLI has developed a truly unique community built upon an ethos of care. We recognise there is an immense national demand for integrated systems of care such as ours, which encompasses health, social care, welfare and employment in one single place to help individuals turn their lives around more quickly.

“And we believe we have produced a pioneering model of care, which is both cost effective and replicable, and which can help individuals overcome multiple challenges at once.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support shown for our ambitions by the Secretary of State.”

approach to completing deals. James Bullock, Head of Corporate, said: “This shortlisting is great news for the team. We continue to work for a broad range of clients on some of their most complex deals and this is fantastic recognition of the specialist advice that the team offer and our commitment to client care.” Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 7 February.

New Retail Park for Ashford

Members News

Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee has approved plans for a new retail park featuring homeware brand The Range.

the surrounding woodlands and natural landscape through a wood and stone façade and extensive landscaping.

In a national climate where retailers are increasingly pulling out of bricks and mortar sites, Ashford is bucking the trend. Drovers Retail Park will join the Designer Outlet expansion currently under development as well as the new food and beverage units at recently opened Elwick Place, significantly growing Ashford’s retail offer.

The 35,000 square foot store will be joined by a drive-through Costa Coffee, a vets and five other retail outlets.

The 4.37 hectare site is located next to John Lewis at Home on Fougeres Way (A20), near to Drover’s Roundabout. The development will comprise of eight retail units, two of which

would be stand alone. A terrace of four units will be separated from a further two larger units by an open area that would be used as a garden centre. The council’s planning department negotiated the scheme, liaising with developer Castle City estates for high quality design that will reflect

Cllr Paul Clokie, portfolio holder for Planning said: “Ashford is a rapidly growing borough and needs an enhanced retail offer to complement our high streets. “As housing developments are completed and residents move in, they will soon have a greater choice for those little touches that will make their house a home.”

Recognition for small businesses

The UK’s top small businesses, including a construction consultant based in West Malling, received special recognition at an exclusive House of Lords reception.

Chamber Member, Wilkinson Construction Consultants Ltd were recognised as one of the year’s Small Biz 100, for their contribution to both the UK economy and its local community, this was marked on Small Business Saturday, which was celebrated across the UK on 1 December. Based in West Malling, Wilkinson Construction Consultants are multi award winning Approved Inspectors providing Building Control services across London & South East England as an alternative to Local Authority Building Control. They also offer associated services such as Fire Risk Assessments and CPD training Lord Young of Graffham, former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Government Adviser on enterprise and small business hosted the event – supported by card reader start-up Square – and was attended by other special guests including Secretary

of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP for Tunbridge Wells. Lord Young of Graffham said: “Small Business Saturday is a vital campaign to highlight the critical role that small businesses play in fuelling the British economy. They are the true backbone of our economy, helping to drive growth across all areas of the country.” The House of Lords reception echoed the support for Small Business Saturday seen across Government, since the campaign came to the UK in 2013. Director of Small Business Saturday UK, Michelle Ovens said: “The Small Biz 100 represent the very best in British business at the heart of our economy. Day in day out small businesses prove themselves to be innovative, community-minded and capable of thriving in what are undoubtedly challenging times. They are hugely deserving of recognition and we are thrilled

to have the honour of hosting this special celebration at The House of Lords. In its sixth year Small Business Saturday is the UK's most successful small business campaign, which last year saw an estimated £748m spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday.

Maidstone-based law firm Brachers celebrates a strong performance

Brachers continues to invest in its future having celebrated its most successful financial year in 2018, with a record turnover.

The firm saw exceptional financial performance across both its business services and private client divisions, with overall turnover increasing by just shy of 10% to £13.5million, every practice area experiencing some growth. Corporate and commercial work in particular experienced strong growth with an increase in transactional work and the addition of a new commercial partner in 2017 contributing to the improved performance. The firm’s continued emphasis on nurturing all stakeholder relationships and adhering to high quality standards with their dual regulation (SRA and FCA) has remained a key focus for the firm. Over the course of the 17/18 financial year they provided over £30,000 worth of support in sponsorships and donations to their local community. The results of the firm’s efforts have been recognised with the ranking of 25 practice areas in the leading legal directories and recent shortlisting at the General Practice Awards, STEP Private Client Awards and Insider Dealmaker Awards. Managing Partner, Jo Worby, said: “This really is a tremendous result for Brachers. Our commitment to the region and putting clients at the heart of everything we do have been key contributors to our growth. We would like to thank all our clients and referrers, for their trust and support. I continue to be impressed by and proud of our skilled, hard-working team who strive for client service at its best. Our colleagues and their values drive the firm every day and I look forward to continued growth and greater heights in 2019.” Thinking Business


Does your business have the capacity and ambition to grow?

Scale Up is the Chamber’s newly launched high growth, executive coaching service. Identified as an exemplar service by the Scale Up Institute, it’s aimed at dynamic businesses looking to expand and grow. Using our in-house trained coaches, we apply a methodology that delivers proven tangible results to both the

call us +44 (0) 1233 503 838

bottom line of your business and the development of the senior management team. You will be guided through a programme of development that will embed a culture of goal setting, accountability, adherence to core values and achievement.


Scale Up West Kent

Scale Up Kent

With more than three decades of business support delivery,

the Chamber has the experience, expertise and resources to

provide a quality business advice, coaching and mentoring service.

We offer three services that are designed to support, grow and enhance your business. Scale Up is our high growth, executive coaching service aimed at dynamic businesses looking to expand and grow. Using our trained executive coaches, we apply a methodology that delivers proven tangible results to both the bottom line of your business and the development of the senior management team. You will be guided through a programme of development that will embed a culture of goal setting, accountability, adherence to core values and achievement. Whereas most services will tell you what’s wrong in the business; our service will help you “find, fix and grow”.

Chamber Mentoring Service offers you a chance to bounce around ideas, challenge your thinking, seek advice on a regular monthly or quarterly basis.

We will match you with a Business Adviser that has the relevant experience and personality to act as your critical friend and support you on your business journey. Your Adviser will listen to your challenges and successes, introduce you to useful contacts and expertise and help you to keep your business on track.

Business is done better together.

Chamber Business Health Check is open to Members only and is designed to make sure Members are accessing the right support

and assistance currently on offer from UK Gov and other institutions. Each new Member will be offered the opportunity to sit down with a qualified and experienced Business Adviser who will undertake a light diagnostic of your business to better

understand the challenges and opportunities you face.

The Adviser will then make recommendations and signpost to appropriate support such as grants, finance and local expertise.

The support is out there, you just need to ask the right people.

“Using our trained executive coaches, we apply a methodology that delivers proven tangible results to both the bottom line of your business and the development of the senior management team.” To access any of these services or to find out more, please visit www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk or call us on 01233 503838

Thinking Business


International Trade

What has not changed is the ability of one port, two ferry operators and a fleet of 12 dedicated ferries to be capable of handling up to 10,000 lorries a day – a 180km trade expressway. Neither will geography change and Dover will remain the only place from which such a fleet can achieve up to 120 ferry movements a day, where each ferry is berthed, unloaded, re-loaded and heading back to France in as little as 45-50 minutes on the shortest sea crossing. With the French coast often in full view, this finely tuned engine simply cannot be matched in terms of capacity or speed.

Of course, external factors such as border controls may slow things down, but they will do that at every EU-facing gateway across the country. What makes Dover different is that it has the experience of how to deal with major disruption and find a way through – nowhere else has this experience.

Dover - ready to welcome customers into the future

The UK's planned departure from the EU has changed the way people

think about the logistics industry and

supply chains. Never has there been more public scrutiny on trade and


the efficient movement of goods. Thinking Business

That is why within a few days of the last significant incident of Operation Stack in the infamous summer of 2015, Dover was once again handling record volumes. During the course of any year, the Port of Dover manages smaller disruptions through our continuing professional approach. Dover has stood the test of time.

The entire operating system – the Port and its infrastructure, border controls and ferry operations - is designed around the fast paced, seamless movement of traffic. With the growth in our volumes, it is a strong indication that people want to continue to take advantage of the Port of Dover and its ferry partners. The Government understands this and the Port has been working closely with its Border Delivery Group for some time, a cross-Government group coordinating Brexit planning across Whitehall and with a firm remit to keep traffic flowing across the Channel.

Preparation is key. Beyond the existing close coordination with the Port and its ferry partners,

it will be essential that the UK Government and its agencies as well as the European Union and its Member States expedite the provision of necessary information to the logistics community in order that it has what it needs to plan for and prepare the required documentation in advance of lorries arriving at ports. Kasper Moos, Managing Director of DFDS in Dover, said: “We have been preparing for a wide range of scenarios for some time along with the port and our partners. We have adapted our IT systems and are building customs expertise so we can offer customs and other services to our customers to help mitigate any effect. We are now intensifying work to ensure those customers are preparing for any new border processes in order to protect their business and keep people and goods flowing through this vital trade route.” David Stretch, P&O Ferries’ Managing Director - Short Routes, said: “As long as there are goods and people travelling between the UK and Europe, P&O Ferries will continue to provide a comprehensive ferry and logistics service to and from the continent. We have been working with the authorities on detailed preparations to support our operation at Dover which, along with our ports on the east coast of England, will continue to give customers a range of options for connecting with Europe under every scenario.” Doug Bannister, the Port’s new Chief Executive, said: “Throughout the Brexit debate, what people have been desiring is certainty. Uncertainty is continuing, but we are prepared. We will continue to manage our infrastructure professionally and our team stands ready to handle whatever comes our way. We look forward to welcoming customers on 29th March, 30th March and far into the future.”

“Throughout the Brexit debate, what people have been desiring is certainty. Uncertainty is continuing, but we are prepared. We will continue to manage our infrastructure professionally and our team stands ready to handle whatever comes our way.”

Thursday 3rd October 2019 Kent Event Centre, Detling

The South East’s largest gathering of construction industry professionals, contractors & suppliers

Produced by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, the Expo delivers a multitrack conference programme, over 150 market-leading exhibitors, and a unique opportunity for the construction sector to come together for an invaluable day of networking and innovation. The packed programme also includes over 600 free meet-the-buyer appointments, a Big Networking Breakfast and Gala Dinner.

Exhibitors include:

Produced by

Managed by

Contact Emily for 2019 Exhibiting Opportunities EmilyyTaylory| emily@revolution-events.com | 01892 820930 | y

Chamber Events

Modern Day Slavery Conference – Recognise the Risks

‘All Rounder’ Breakfast at the

Spitfire Ground, Canterbury

Kent Police in Partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend this free conference on Modern Day Slavery.

The day is designed to inform businesses of the warning signs to look out for and outline responsibilities to work with police and partners to target criminality and protect the most vulnerable in society. The event will also raise awareness of modern slavery in supply chains and help you protect yourself and your business from becoming involved in this most serious of crimes. This event is open to all Industries, however some Sectors are more exposed to this crime when seeking additional labour eg, Hotels, Construction, Distribution, Agriculture, Cleaning etc.

Agenda: 8.30am


Tea, coffee & breakfast baps will be available on arrival

Conference commences

10.45am Comfort Break – Tea, coffee & biscuits

11.00am Conference continues 12.30pm Finish


28th March 2019 8.30am – 12.30pm

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Sevington, Ashford, Kent, TN24 0LH

FREE to attend


Thinking Business

Come along and join other local businesses to build on current relationships, connect and network during the morning with new faces. Enjoy an 'All rounder' full English breakfast in The Chiesman Pavilion served with fruit juices and tea/coffee. An unusual facet of The Spitfire Ground is the prominent lime tree situated

on the pitch. The ground was built around the tree and as such, special local rules were introduced; shots blocked by the tree were counted as a four. To this day only four cricketers have cleared the tree to score a six. Don't get 'bowled out' book your place now!

Networking Special:

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce have joined forces with Kent County Cricket Club to host this exciting breakfast networking event with a twist.

13th February 2019 9.15am – 11.15am

The Spitfire Ground St Lawrence, Canterbury, Old Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3NZ

Members : £20.00 + VAT

Non-members : £25.00 + VAT

The Old Dairy Brewery to include a tour and tasting

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce invite you to join them for a Networking Special at The Old Dairy Brewery.

The Old Dairy Brewery is nestled deep in the heart of the ‘Garden of England’ just moments from the High Street in the picturesque market town of Tenterden in Kent. With glorious views over rolling countryside, the brewery is housed in two old World War II Nissen buildings next to the Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway.

One has been converted into a 30-barrel brewery, complete with brewery shop while the second plays host to offices and warehousing operations.

There will be limited places available so make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

You will have the opportunity to sample all the Fine Ales brewed on site. Find out which Ale will be your favourite!!

Old Dairy Brewery Tenterden Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 6HE

Plus enjoy a tour around the whole premises and see the brewing process from hops to bottling.

27th March 2019 3.00pm – 5.00pm

Members : FREE

Non-members : £15.00 + VAT

For further information on all events please contact events@kentinvictachamber.co.uk or call 01233 503838

Business News

Responding in its role in supporting the long-term growth of Kent and Medway alongside that of Essex, Southend, Thurrock and East Sussex, SELEP says that improving cross-Thames connectivity is a critical underpinning of the area’s future economic vitality.

It states: “At a time when uncertainties around the economy abound, and the strain on our existing infrastructure is unrelenting, a project which promotes new economic linkages – and therefore resilience – between Kent and Essex is to be warmly welcomed. On that basis, the South East LEP supports the Lower Thames Crossing.”

However, the LEP also stresses that resilience must be built into Kent and Medway’s wider transport network to ensure

SELEP backs Lower Thames Crossing but calls for improvements to road network to support it

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has stressed the importance of upgrading key routes to avoid congestion throughout Kent in its response to Highways England’s consultation on plans for the Lower Thames Crossing. congestion is eliminated rather than driven further down the road. As part of that work, it calls for: • The upgrading of junction 7 of the M2 at Brenley Corner to improve flows between the M2 and A2. • Dualling the A2 from Lydden to the Port of Dover. • Widening the M2 to three lanes to handle increased flows. It says this is essential along the whole route and imperative between junctions 4 and 5. • Improvements to key links between the M2 and M20, specifically upgrades to the A229 Blue Bell Hill and the A249 Detling Hill, warning that traffic modelling has underestimated the impact of the Lower Thames Crossing on these routes.

Mayor of Maidstone opens new housing in Coxheath

New housing for local people was officially opened in Coxheath, by the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr David Naghi.

The three affordable rent bungalows at The Beacons were transformed from a disused garage site by local housing association Golding Homes, in partnership with Chartway Group and with the support of Maidstone Borough Council and funding from Homes England. The development forms part of the organisation’s strategic priorities to build more homes and is one of four disused garage sites across Maidstone which are being redeveloped, providing much need housing for local people. In total the four sites will produce 18 new


Thinking Business

homes, seven new garages and additional parking spaces. During the event, which celebrated the work of the organisations involved in redeveloping the site, the Mayor said: “It is great to be a part of the official opening of The Beacons, which has been built to an extremely high standard. Thanks to everyone involved in creating a fantastic development within the Coxheath community.” Annabel McKie, Director of Development and Commercial Services at Golding Homes,

• The delivery of a network of lorry parks across the M2 and M20 corridors.

Looking north of the Thames, SELEP has raised concerns over the limited access proposed to the crossing from the Thurrock area, calling the removal of a link to Tilbury Port a retrograde step that eliminates the potential for local business growth and ignores the national economic significance of substantial growth at the Port. Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, said: “It is perhaps reflective of the foresight and ambition of the senior politicians and senior business leaders on the South East LEP board, that we have also looked beyond the Lower Thames Crossing – specifically to the requirement for crossings

said: “We are always thrilled to see the development of new homes, because delivering high-quality, affordable, safe and secure places for people to live is what Golding Homes is about. It’s great that we’ve been able to work with our partners to deliver these three bungalows because accessible homes like these are in particularly short supply.” Geoff Slee, Director at BBS Construction, part of Chartway Group, said: “We are delighted to have completed this regeneration project in collaboration with Golding

further east to accommodate the sustained growth of our area. We would wish to engage in those conversations with the Department for Transport and Highways England.

“For now, our focus should be on supporting the Lower Thames Crossing and ensuring that we all work together to realise the maximum possible benefit across our whole area. Local communities need to be convinced of the opportunity rather than the imposition. “Our ability to trade and to grow has never been under more scrutiny. We should therefore push ahead at pace, whilst respecting and responding to local requirements at every possible step.”

Homes. The development is a real home-grown scheme, providing much needed affordable housing within the local community. We look forward to our ongoing partnership delivering many more similar schemes with Golding Homes.” The partnership between Golding Homes and Chartway Group continues with the handover of a further garage site redevelopment in the next few weeks. The scheme in Hartnup Street, Maidstone consists of two shared ownership houses, seven garages and four parking bays.

Government awards £4.3m to develop the Thames Estuary Production Corridor

putting the creative industries at the heart of the Estuary’s industrial strategy

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today committed to an ambitious long-term project that will make the Thames Estuary the world’s largest creative corridor; a world leader for the creative and cultural industries.

The award of £4.3m funding into a £6.7m programme to the University of Kent, on behalf of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor Partnership, confirms government commitment to the long-term economic prosperity of the Estuary. Unique in its scale of ambition, the Thames Estuary Production Corridor will unlock long term, transformational, culture-led growth across North Kent and South Essex and establish the region as a creative hub connected to London, the UK, Europe and other global markets. It is estimated that longer term investment in Estuary’s creative industries could deliver 50,000 new jobs, adding an extra £3.1bn to the UK economy. This Cultural Development Fund award will kick start a visionary 3 year #CreativeEstuary programme, creating over 500 new creative industry jobs, skills training for over 200 local people, 60 apprenticeships and countless opportunities for people to engage with world class artists from here in the UK and across the globe. ‘This is fantastic news! The University of Kent welcomes the investment from the Cultural Development Fund as it

supports our commitment to collaborating with partners to drive innovation and economic growth in the region and above all to develop this part of the UK as one of the most attractive places to live, work and study.’ Professor Karen Cox, ViceChancellor, University of Kent. The creative sector – meaning everything from music, theatre and the visual arts to gaming and film is the UK’s fastest growing sector, generating £100bn+ each year for the UK economy, and sustaining over 3m jobs. The Estuary’s 16,000 creative businesses currently employ 46,000 people. Since 2014, the Thames Estuary’s freelance creative economy has grown by 20%. ‘This award is a vote of confidence and a testament to the long-term partnership within the South East, acknowledging the potential for the further growth of the creative industries.’ Sarah Dance, Co-Chair, South East Creative Economy Network Christian Brodie, Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), said: “Creative industries employ more than 30,000 people and generate £25bn worth of GVA across

our area, making them a vitally important contributor to our economy.” “The Thames Estuary corridor is unique in its position, offering access to London markets and with land available for development. This is being recognised and capitalised on by our creative industries.” “This announcement of Government support for the #CreativeEstuary programme is testament to the collaborative working and tireless efforts of a number of bodies to promote the creative industries on both sides of the Thames Estuary.” This unique cross-boundary partnership was established by the South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), a working group of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and the GLA, supported by Kent County Council and Thurrock Council, who together launched with the TEPC vision in 2017. The TEPC partnership is a consortium involving the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), the GLA, Royal Docks and 7 East London boroughs, University of Kent, University of Essex, and cultural organisations Metal and Whitstable Biennale. Between 2019-22, #CreativeEstuary activity will include: • Estuary 2020: expansion of this month-long international arts festival to include new commissions in locations and communities across the Thames Estuary, • Corridor Commissions: focused on digital innovation, bringing together internationally renowned and creative technologists to ‘waymark’ visitors along the Thames • Re:Generation 2030: Creative Apprenticeship scheme, creating job opportunities for 60 young people from the Estuary’s disadvantaged areas to work • Estuary Works: New creative workspaces for creative and digital businesses in creative clusters like Margate, Southend and Chatham Dockyard. • Estuary Producers: Producer ‘residencies’ in locations across the Estuary, creating new cultural experiences in high streets and parks, on watersides and other venues • Creative Labs: bringing together creatives, technologists and academics to explore how culture can address key issues such as mental health, ageing and town planning

Business News

Quinn Estates plan landmark new film and TV studio for Ashford Railway Works in Newtown Road

The South East’s leading property developer, Quinn Estates, has revealed exciting plans for a film studio complex, TV studio, large-scale shared office space, 5-star hotel and food and drink hub, to transform a former railway works in Ashford which has sat derelict for over 3 decades.

The plans reveal a bold new scheme which could see the former engine sheds turned into eight film studios and a TV studio space, built by Quinn Estates and funded by U+I. Throughout construction and once complete, the project will provide a massive boost to the economy, providing a great number of short and long-terms jobs for the region. The Ashford Railway Works is a beacon of Ashford’s industrial past and Quinn Estates’ proposal showcases plans to bring it back to life, centred around the Grade II Listed locomotive buildings onsite.

Mark Quinn, CEO of Quinn Estates, said: “Although we’re in the early stages of planning, Quinn Estates will be working with Ashford Borough Council and the area ward members in this exciting phase of regeneration, which has the potential to hugely benefit the people of Ashford in terms of jobs, economic investment and regeneration.” “This is the longest listed building in the whole country - lending itself to a variety of uses where imagination and drive can create innovation out of dereliction. The plans include a vibrant mixed-use space of 500,000 sq. ft. which could include a massive eight film studios, plus a TV studio space we are currently in discussion with three major content providers. There will also be a hotel, new retail and leisure space, a residential quarter, and plenty of green spaces and a public realm.” Set over 12 acres, the site is adjacent to the International Train Station which provides fast trains to London St Pancras in 38 minutes, and adjacent to the McArthur Glen Design Retail Outlet. The Ashford Railway Works is a place where heritage and contemporary living come together. Built in 1847, the complex was created to serve the London Dover Railway. It grew over the next 100 years as it took on more work from Battersea and, although damaged in World War II, it remained a locomotive works until 1962 when the work was transferred to Eastleigh. Many of the buildings were demolished over the next 20 years and what remains is the shell of the original workshops. Thinking Business


Businesses gather for Maidstone Borough Council’s first Business Forum event Business News

More than 100 businesses from across Maidstone attended the Borough’s first Business Forum event.

John Foster. MBC's Head of Regeneration and Economic Development delivering his presentation

Hosted by Maidstone Borough Council at The Orangery, Turkey Mill and compered by Maidstone Studios’ Chairman Geoff Miles, the breakfast event brought together business people and entrepreneurs to share ideas, offer inspiration and learn about the Council’s plans to

promote growth and regeneration in Maidstone. Speakers included renowned author, barrister and futurist Jamie Susskind, who delivered fascinating insights on the impact that technology and artificial intelligence will bring to our economy, society and political system, and Daniel Ghinn, CEO of Maidstone-based healthcare technology firm CREATION, who explained the rationale behind the company’s decision to invest in Maidstone. Council officers provided the latest updates on the Local Plan, as well as projects that will contribute to Maidstone’s economic development, including the Kent Medical Campus Enterprise Zone and The Business Terrace, while

One Maidstone updated delegates on the recently adopted Business Improvement District scheme. Cllr Martin Cox, Leader of Maidstone Borough Council, said: “This event was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the many attributes that Maidstone boasts as a prime location to start, locate and grow a business. The Business Forum was a first-of-its-kind event for Maidstone, so we are delighted to have received fantastic feedback from the many local businesses that attended. “Maidstone Borough Council is working extremely hard to set the

foundations for the Borough to become a hub for entrepreneurialism, innovation and technology in the South East. “With initiatives such as the Kent Medical Campus Enterprise Zone, where work will soon begin on the Council's very own Innovation Centre, and our recent third expansion of The Business Terrace, Maidstone Borough Council is leading the charge to create an environment where high tech, high growth, and high value sectors can flourish, bringing new, well-paid jobs and crucial experience to the Borough.”

Businesses in Maidstone that are interested in representing the business community can join the Maidstone Economic Business Partnership, by contacting economicdevelopment@maidstone.gov.uk

SELEP agrees economic strategy for next ten years

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has agreed its new Economic Strategy Statement for the next decade. Titled Smarter, Faster,Together, the plan is a key part of SELEP’s approach to support long-term growth for East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. The strategy will make the best possible case for investment in the area for future Government funding and for priorities in SELEP’s £561 million Local Growth Fund, and £160 million European structural and investment programme. Outlining the challenges that the strategy aims to meet, Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, said: “In the short term, the immediate economic outlook is one of some uncertainty, particularly associated with Brexit. “But we face longer term challenges as well. Productivity is lower than it should be, rapid population and housing growth means greater pressure on infrastructure. While new technology presents major


Thinking Business

opportunities for innovation and business growth, it is also disruptive and presents challenges in building a workforce and business base that is fully equipped to respond.” The Strategic Economic Plan outlines three aims, which are to: • Work smarter to increase productivity in the SELEP area, with the aim of bridging the gap in GVA per filled job between the South East and the rest of the UK; • Deliver faster by accelerating housing and infrastructure delivery to meet planned growth; • Work better together by collaborating across the Greater South East, with Government and with business. To achieve these, the plan sets four priorities. They are: • Create ideas and enterprise by encouraging businesses with the capacity for innovation and high

growth to scale up; increasing the adoption of new technologies and processes; supporting the process of knowledge transfer between universities and businesses; responding to the increasing need for workspace flexibility; and ensuring the South East is Britain’s gateway for trade and investment. • Develop tomorrow’s workforce by increasing industry-relevant qualifications for all ages; simplifying the skills landscape for employers; raising awareness of the wide range of career and job opportunities that exist in the SELEP area; and supporting capital investment in further and higher education capacity. • Accelerate infrastructure delivery by securing sustained improvements in the area’s national transport infrastructure, including the delivery of the Lower Thames Crossing and strategic road and rail networks

and connections to ports and airports; securing investment in local infrastructure that unlocks housing and jobs growth; investing in digital and advanced technology to support sophisticated communications networks; and sustaining efforts to drive up levels of housing and commercial development. • Create places by putting the area’s towns, cities and rural communities on the front foot in responding to new technology and changing work patterns; supporting quality of life and quality of place; and supporting businesses’ role in the community.

Megger investment for Dover is up to the test

Business confidence in Dover has received a boost after work got under way on a programme of investment and refurbishment at Megger Group, the electrical test equipment company. One of the first buildings visitors see when arriving in Dover via the A20, Megger’s offices and factory at Archcliffe Road are to be given a multimillion pound redevelopment and reorganisation. Working with Clague Architects in Canterbury, Megger successfully submitted its plan to Dover District Council, including a new building to create a service, repair and training centre for its cable fault and test system vehicles. This first phase of the investment will be followed by the multimillion pound redevelopment of Megger’s factory, which will create a more flexible space from where the company will undertake its high-tech engineering, including the design, development and manufacture of new electrical measurement products.

David Gullick, Associate at Clague Architects, said: “The brief required us to bring forward plans to support Megger’s commitment to improving productivity and speeding up new product development. The focus was on how the buildings could be redesigned to help the engineering and manufacturing teams work more closely together. “Another important aspect of our designs included improving the exterior of the building and at the same time improving the reception areas and spaces shared by all its 260 employees and its visitors. “Work will start early in the New Year and when finished, Megger’s offices will present a striking welcome to those arriving and leaving the town.” Jim Fairbairn, chief executive of the Megger Group Ltd, said: “We are delighted to announce

this multi-million pound investment and couldn’t be happier with the support of the local council around our plans to make our Dover site truly world class. "Every day I’m struck by the professionalism and dedication of our staff in our Dover facility and we are thrilled as a business to be able to further invest in our site.” Megger’s importance to Dover has been recognised, and Cllr Keith Morris, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “This investment is a major vote of confidence in Dover from Megger, one of the world’s premier manufacturers of electrical testing equipment. Megger has been an important part of the local economy since the 1960’s, exporting products ‘Made in Dover’ around the world and creating a talent pool of highly skilled local employees.”

Ambassadors take to the streets as Business Improvement District goes live

The first initiative to be funded by Maidstone’s new Business Improvement District (BID), has seen Street Ambassadors take to the town centre in a bid to tackle antisocial behaviour and provide a warm welcome to visitors. The Street Ambassadors’ responsibilities include fostering a safe and friendly atmosphere in the town, meeting and greeting visitors and giving directions to local attractions. In addition, working in conjunction with the MaidSafe Crime Reduction Partnership, the Ambassadors are on hand to provide information and warnings about Maidstone Borough Council’s public

space prevention orders and address any issues that could undermine the vibrancy and wellbeing of the town centre. Ilsa Butler, BID Manager for One Maidstone, said: “The ambassador scheme was a key project within the BID business plan and was identified as a way to address some of the concerns that businesses had around town centre safety. “Street Ambassadors, working with the Police and the Council’s cleansing and enforcement teams, will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of business, helping to spot and deter nuisance issues, such as crime, anti-social behaviour, littering and vandalism. Ambassadors will also welcome visitors and help people in the town centre.

“A regular, reassuring presence will be beneficial to businesses and their customers. There will be two Ambassadors on duty at any one time and we are optimistic that in due course they will become recognisable faces around the town. The BID has budgeted for Ambassador coverage for 96 hours per week including daylight hours as well as some night time coverage. The scheme is expected to run for the lifetime of the five-year BID programme. One Maidstone has carried out a tender process to appoint a contractor to provide the personnel, whose work will be determined and managed in house by One Maidstone.

Business News

Maidstone Borough Council wins Best Implementation award

Maidstone Borough Council has won the Best Implementation award from the Institute of Economic Development (IED), the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners, for the strategy and execution of its business growth accelerator, The Business Terrace.

The Council’s success was announced at the IED Annual Awards 2018, staged as part of the IED Annual Conference. Held at BMA House in London, the awards recognise economic development success stories and this accolade highlights the positive impact that The Business Terrace has had on Maidstone’s business community. Since it opened in September 2015, The Business Terrace has provided support to more than 600 entrepreneurs, start-up companies and established businesses. It sought to address the issue that between 2008-2011 business failure rates outnumbered business births as a result of the tough economic climate following the financial crisis. In 2014, seven out of ten newly-registered businesses locally failed within two years, so the Council established a business support programme linked to business space provision. The Business Terrace was created from redundant council office space and it has subsequently expanded three times. Applicants must be within three years of establishing their business, able to prove they plan to take advantage of the support offer, and demonstrate a willingness to collaborate, create jobs and grow in Maidstone. Due to the need to support start-up businesses in the early stage, a two-year limit on the incubator offices is applied to ensure that The Business Terrace stays true to its founding principle to help new companies. Figures indicate that the scheme is already having a positive impact on the town, local residents and businesses: 644 individuals have received face-to-face support, 444 people have received face-toface support with an advisor and 266 people have attended workshops. In 2015, there were 5,059 businesses within Maidstone in the 0-4 employment band size. In 2017, there were 5,590, an increase of more than 10% in two years. Many supported businesses have recruited employees from the local area, so while the number of businesses has grown, so to has the number of people employed by them. Maidstone is now proudly top of the league in Kent for business survival rates. Sean Henry, Economic Development Business Centre Co-ordinator at Maidstone Borough Council, who collected the award at the IED Annual Conference, said: “The approach can, and should, be repeated elsewhere to boost local economies. We are proud to have been recognised by the IED for the quality of our work in supporting local businesses.” IED Chair Bev Hurley said: “The Business Terrace has not only been successful but its success can be clearly demonstrated through take-up, performance and financial measures.” Thinking Business


Welcome to our new members New Members

Action on Hearing Loss

London 07760 755764 www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk Charity Helping People Confronting Life-Changing Deafness, Tinnitus & Hearing Loss

Aspect Four Demolition Services Ltd

Broadstairs 01843 210796 www.aspectfourdemolition.co.uk Demolition Services

BAM Ritchies A Division of BAM Nuttall Erith 01322 345272 www.bamritchies.co.uk Ground Engineering Specialist

Bounty Consultancy Services Ltd

Ashford 01233 665817 www.bountyconsultancyservices.co.uk Pest Control Training, Auditing & Consultancy

Build Bloc Limited

Northfleet 01474 333395 www.gillaggregates.com Manufacturing of Concrete Blocks

Cantium Business Solutions

West Malling 03000 411 115 www.cantium.solutions HR, IT and Finance Managed Solutions

Clear Voice Interpreting Services Dover 0800 520 0380 www.clearvoice.org.uk Interpreting & Translation

Construction Industry Trust for Youth

London 020 7467 9540 www.constructionyouth.org.uk Youth and Construction Charitable Trust


Thinking Business

Cyber Engineers Ltd

Chatham 07412 566088 www.cyberengineers.co.uk Training & Consultancy in Cyber Security

Digitek Consulting Limited

Aylesford 03330 147 487 www.digitekconsulting.co.uk Consulting, Technology & Digital Services & Call Centres

Emapping Ltd

Chatham 07708 232507 Website under construction Provides 3D Structural Images for use by Asset Management Companies, Real Estate & Emergency Services

EMC & Associates Ltd

Headcorn 01622 892315 www.ibdbusinessadvice.co.uk/user/ john.mather Business Consultancy & Project Management

Fallow Fields Camping Ltd

Whitstable 0800 035 0002 www.fallowfieldscamping.com Camping, Team Building and Outdoor School Education

Folkestone Sports Centre Trust Folkestone 01303 850222 www.folkestonesportscentre.co.uk Sports & Leisure Centre

Global Virtuoso Inc

Folkestone 07799 662280 www.globalvirtuoso.com Knowledge Process Outsourcing

Green Box Recycling Kent Ltd Ashford 01233 660099 www.gboxkent.com Waste Management & Recycling

Gushlow & Cole Limited

Sevenoaks 01959 535066 www.gushlowandcole.com Manufacturer of High End Retail Goods

Ideal Group

Maidstone 01622 735071 www.idealgroupuk.co.uk Emergency Response, Construction Drying and Support

Inline Design Ltd

Rochester 01634 710000 www.inlinedesign.co.uk Fit Outs, Ceilings, Dry Lining, Joinery

Inspired Villages

Normanton 07799 714365 www.inspiredvillages.co.uk Retirement Villages

Kenward Trust

Maidstone 01622 814187 www.kenwardtrust.org.uk Registered Charity Delivering Residential Rehabilitation.

Loufred Ltd

London 0800 368 8715 www.loufred.com Vinyl Fencing

LS Environmental Ltd

Sittingbourne 07432 670276 www.ls.zendigitalmarketing.co.uk Asbestos & Environmental Services

Michelson Diagnostics Ltd

Maidstone 020 8308 1695 www.vivosight.com Medical Device Manufacturer

New Members

Newton Waterproofing Systems

Tonbridge 01732 360095 www.newtonwaterproofing.co.uk Waterproofing & Damp Proofing Suppliers and Experts

Novia Ltd

Maidstone 01622 678952 www.novia.co.uk Packaging Materials

On Tap Networks Limited

Rye 020 7183 3183 www.ontapgroup.com Software Development, System Integrators & Ecommerce Design Agency

OZ Legal Consultancy Ltd

Canterbury 01227 238968 www.ozlegalco.com Turkish Legal Consultancy, Translation Services

Panda CoLabs Limited

Chatham 07583 015717 Website under construction Project Management & Bookkeeping

Price Whitehead Company Ltd Tenterden 01580 765111 www.pricewhitehead.co.uk Surveying, Design, Planning

Professional Office Service

Rochester 07867 794784 www.professionalofficeservice.co.uk Business Administration

Saracen Horse Feeds Ltd

Aylesford 01622 718487 www.saracenhorsefeeds.com/company/ team-saracen Manufacture and Sale of Horse Feed

Severn Trent Services (Water & Sewerage) Ltd

Coventry 0345 450 9549 www.severntrentconnect.com Waste Water & Sewerage

SMB Records Management Ltd

West Malling 01732 668044 www.smbrecordsmanagement.co.uk Storage & Document Management

Solomons and Associates Ltd

Dartford 01322 837006 www.solomonsandassociates.co.uk Accounting & Bookkeeping Services

SOS Computer Kent Ltd

Faversham 01227 389911 www.soscomputer.co.uk Computer Consultation, Wireless Infrastructure, CCTV

Spider Project Management

Total Machining Solutions Ltd Chatham

01634 685319 www.tms-ltd.net Computer Numerical Control Machining

Transomnia Limited Tunbridge Wells

01892 703660 www.transomnia.com Wholesale Distribution (Giftware & Interior Accessories)

Travol International Consulting Ltd Ashford

07706 762136 www.travol-international.co.uk Business Consulting

Webtex Limited Ashford

01233 226207 www.webtex.limited

Tunbridge Wells 07917 693179 www.spiderpm.co.uk Chartered Surveyors

Digital Marketing Agency

Yalding 01892 730634 www.stevensconstruction.co.uk Groundworks and Civil Engineers


Stevens Construction Ltd

Swarm by Design Ltd Tunbridge Wells 01892 557552 www.weareswarm.co.uk Graphic & Web Design

This Way Up Wellbeing

London 07718 989997 www.this-way-up-well-being.co.uk Well Being & Mental Health Activities

Wellbeing People Tonbridge

01622 834834 Wellbeing, Health, Occupational, Consultancy

Westwell Wine Estates Charing

01233 690471 www.westwellwines.com

Winkworth Canterbury

Vineyard and Winery Canterbury

01227 456645 www.winkworth.co.uk Estate Agency

Thinking Business


The Last Word

Name: Sue McGowan Company: Kent Space Ltd Job title: Director

Sue joined Kent Space back in 2007 as the Assistant Manager and has been responsible for driving the business ever since. With over 30 years’ experience in sales, Sue thrives driving her team to achieve great results. Customer service and sales play a huge part in making the business successful and Sue ensures all clients receive the best service possible. Sue loves staying fit and will be taking part in The Three Peaks challenge and tough mudder this year.

What was your first job and what was the pay packet? Shop assistant in a bakery on Saturdays. Can’t remember how much.

What do you always carry with you to work? My water and food for the day. You have to stay well fuelled to be productive.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business? Technology, we are a people facing business and this is getting harder to achieve with more online gadgets and gizmos. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business? Don’t even get me started!

What can you see from your office window? Our car park.

If you could do another job what would it be? A Midwife. As a business person, what are your three main qualities? Positivity I am always half full, Empathy and very competitive, you have to be to succeed.

New head of Building Services appointed at Caxtons

Movers and Shakers

Caxtons Chartered Surveyors has welcomed Laura O’Donovan MRICS MA BSc as head of their Building Services department in their Gravesend offices. Laura went to the University of Wales in Cardiff where she graduated with a BSc (Hons) and thereafter an MA in Design. She continued her studies at the College of Estate Management and qualified

as a Chartered Building Surveyor becoming a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in June 2007.

The department currently focuses on disciplines including pre-acquisition

surveys, defect analysis, reactive and planned maintenance, dilapidations, CDM co-ordination, project management, Party Wall Matters, construction and development monitoring, contract administration and

insurance reinstatement cost assessments. Laura will work across the region, in Kent and the South East.

Law firm Furley Page enhances its Long Service Awards to recognise the contribution of long-serving staff

Leading Kent law firm Furley Page has enhanced its Long Service Awards, which recognise the contributions made by the firm’s long-serving staff.

Thirty eight members of staff with 640 years’ combined experience were commended for their service and dedication, with long service awards presented to reward employees who have

achieved 10 years of service or more. Karen Cook, Senior HR Manager at Furley Page, said: “Our ability to attract and retain staff is due to the interesting and varied work, great team culture and range of work place benefits which, in addition to our enhanced service awards, include: a competitive salary, health cash plan provided by Westfield Health, generous annual leave allowance, and professional training, mentoring and support.

“Many of the staff presented with long service awards joined the firm in secretarial, support or administrative roles, before choosing to take the next steps in their career with the firm. We’ve also helped to introduce numerous people to the legal sector through our popular apprenticeship scheme.” In previous years Furley Page has recognised staff who have achieved 20 years’ service; 2018 marked the first time that Furley Page, which was

Appointments at law firm

A new family solicitor has joined Jarmans’ growing family law team.

This builds on the firm’s growth from 12 employees to 42 since Jay Sahota’s takeover. The family team, headed by Gordon Johnson, welcomes Steven Hayre who is a newly-qualified solicitor working in our Family department. Steven trained in the Medway area and handles cases in relation to divorce, finances, private children and other family related issues. Also part of the growing team at the firm is Robert

Sigurdsson. Formerly a partner in two leading London firms for 20 years and later a consultant to two leading London practices for five years, Robert’s clients have included international and UK quoted/private companies, foreign and UK banks, insurance companies, oil companies, airlines, embassies and high commissions, art galleries, private individuals, entrepreneurs and trusts. Sittingbourne-based solicitors Jarmans has

also announced the appointment of Kevin Ronaldson as NonExecutive Chairman. Kevin is an experienced executive and entrepreneur with an enviable record of building significant value from new and current businesses and brings an accomplished history of successfully developing multi-million pound enterprises to the Kent firm. He said: “I am delighted to be joining Jarmans at this exciting time in its history. Having built successful

established in 1725, has expanded the awards to recognise the contribution to the firm’s ongoing history made by staff who have served for 10, 15 and 25 years. Two people celebrated more than 25 years of service with Furley Page. Five members of staff received service awards for 15 years and 20 years respectively, while a further 27 employees marked 10 years of service with the firm.

businesses from scratch and also worked at Executive Board level for the likes of Allied Dunbar and Zurich Financial Services I have an in depth knowledge of what works in the professional services sector, whilst at the same time as a non-lawyer I can bring a fresh external perspective to the firm.” Jay Sahota, Jarmans’ Senior Partner, said: “It is an asset to Jarmans that someone of Kevin’s outstanding pedigree has accepted my invitation to become our Chairman.”

Stagecoach appoints new Managing Director for south east

What was your biggest mistake in business? Pleased to say none so far. Go with your gut always.

Stagecoach has announced the appointment of a new Managing Director of its bus operations in Kent and East Sussex.

Who do you most admire in business? Richard Branson - he loves his employees which are the hub of any business. We have the same ethos here at Kent Space.

Stagecoach announced last year that South East Managing Director Philip Norwell had left the business. The company had been managed by Regional UK Bus Director Mike Watson in the interim. Mark Threapleton, Stagecoach UK Bus

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Be true to yourself, trust your brand and never give up.


Thinking Business

Current Delivery Director for train operator c2c, Joel Mitchell, is to take on the role in spring 2019.

Managing Director for England and Wales, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Joel to Stagecoach – he has significant experience within the transport industry, over many years, having worked on Stagecoach rail franchises in the past, and we look forward to benefitting from his knowledge and expertise as we continue to develop and improve services for our customers in the south east of England.”

Joel Mitchell began his transport career with South West Trains in 1999 and undertook a wide range of customer service and operational roles in an eleven year period before joining Southern Railway in 2010 as Head of Performance. He then returned to South West Trains as Head of Performance before joining First Hull Trains in 2015 as Director of Operations and Customer Experience.

In March 2017 he was appointed Delivery Director with train operator c2c. Joel said: “This is an exciting new challenge for me and I am really looking forward to working with the team in the South East. I live locally so I know it’s a fantastic area with a great bus network and I look forward to building on the work that has already been done, along with our partners, to deliver even better services for our customers.”





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Thinking Business February 2019  

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Latest Local Business Issues, National Business News, Accountancy and Fiscal Management, Business...

Thinking Business February 2019  

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Latest Local Business Issues, National Business News, Accountancy and Fiscal Management, Business...

Profile for benham