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Investment seeks to bridge the skills gap - page 26

Also Inside: • International Trade • Spotlight on Dartford • 24 Hours with... • Big Interview with NCS Technology







The importance of encouraging new talent There are real signs that confidence is returning to high streets all over the country and in Dartford the council and its partners are determined to take advantage by supporting the town centre as well as helping other types of business. I’m delighted that the Chamber has set up a Patron Scheme which will enable us to work with leading organisations to influence key policies within the County and nationally. You can find out more on page 10.

Welcome to the latest edition of Thinking Business, which has its usual mix of news and views from around the county. One of our features, starting on page 24, examines the importance of bridging the skills gap and bringing on the next generation of talent. Skills is the main theme of this edition and, with the Apprenticeship levy due to come into force in April, the face of training will change. Although most companies will not be asked to pay the levy, they will still be able to benefit from the new investment due to go in to Apprenticeships. Supporting initiatives to encourage young people just embarking on their careers should be viewed as important to all of us. We also have a strong focus on Dartford, starting on page 16, in our regular Spotlight feature. As the piece says, one of the key challenges facing the UK’s towns is the need to breathe new life into the high street at a time when competition from online shopping is increasing.

I am also delighted to announce that for 2017 the Chamber will be working with Pillory Barn Events to deliver our Kent B2B programme, starting with the Ashford event on the 25th April at the Ashford International Hotel, and that we are continuing to work closely with Ashford Borough Council on matters of joint interest. You can find out more on page 10. Our big interview on page 22 reminds us that technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before, which means that companies have to be constantly innovating. That is certainly the case with Maidstone-based NCS Technology, whose team have built up a reputation for inventive solutions to the challenges involved. Our piece looks at how they have proved so successful in an ever-changing world.

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Members Corner Chamber News Members News Focus on Finance Members News Healthy Workplace Update Chamber Patron Patron Comment Members News 24 Hours with... Spotlight On.... Property Big Interview Cover Feature - Education, Skills and Training

Editorial and General Enquiries Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Tel: 01233 503 838 Fax: 01233 503 687 Email: Web: Chief Executive: Jo James Publisher Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited 3tc House, 16 Crosby Road North, Crosby, Liverpool L22 0NY Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Email: Web: Published February 2017 © Benham Publishing Advertising and Features Karen Hall Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email:

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Industry Comment International Trade The Economy & US Members News Business News Chamber Awards Ask the Expert Members News Getting Started Chamber Events Chamber Exhibitions Gatwick Airport New Members Movers & Shakers Last Word

Production Manager Mark Etherington Tel: 0151 236 4141 Email: Media No. 1518 Disclaimer Thinking Business is published for Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and is distributed without charge to Chamber members. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in Thinking Business are not necessarily those of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission. © 2017 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.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Business Rates Re-Valuation Changes In April, a new Valuation List comes into force prepared by the Valuation Office, Inland Revenue.

Members Corner from Linda Marsh Director of Membership Services I hope you have started 2017 on a high and are looking forward to growth throughout the year. There is lots happening at the Chamber, firstly the main event for Businesses across Kent is to be part of the prestigious Chamber Awards. This year promises to be a bumper event with lots of great businesses all keen to share their success and be recognised for the great work they are doing. There is still time to get your entry in, so don’t delay get it in to us as soon as you can! What about coming along to a great FREE event being held in our Ashford offices? This is all about health and wellbeing amongst your staff? This event is on 7th April and promises to be a great insight into how to keep your staff and business healthy. You can book a stand at this event too, so give us a call to find out more. The Chamber’s focus this year is working with YOU our members to build a great benefit package for you to support you and your business, if you would like to talk to us about the type of benefits you feel could really add value to you and what you do, please let us know, we really want to make sure you have all you need as a business to enable strong growth year on year. Finally, YOUR Chamber is always here to help, whether its HR advice, events across Kent or mentoring and support, we are here to help, so give us a call.


The 2017 Valuation List sets out the new Rateable Value applicable for each business property effective from 1st April and upon which a business will pay its annual rates liability to the Local Rating Authority. The annual business rate liability is calculated by applying the Uniform Business Rate (set by Central Government, and known as the ‘multiplier’) to the Rateable Value of the property. For the current year 2016/2017, and for 2017/2018 the relevant multiplier is :Year

Small Premises

Large Premises







(Figures applicable for England only)

For Small Premises, with effect from April, sole business premises with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will attract 100% relief and thus will pay no business rates. Properties with a rateable value of £12,000 to £15,000 will attract some business rate relief on a tapering scale, whilst properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will be subject to the small business multiplier. Above rateable value £51,000 the large premises multiplier is effective. In October 2016, the Government published the proposed 2017 Valuation List detailing the proposed new Rateable Values for all business

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

premises. In addition the Valuation Office, Inland Revenue wrote to all business premises confirming the new rateable value applicable for that property effective from April. In many cases the Rateable Values in Kent have either remained the same or altered by no more than plus or minus 10%. So in real terms for many businesses across Kent, particularly those with a Rateable Value of less than £51,000 the effect of the revaluation is likely to be minimal. Of course there are bound for one reason or another to be exceptions and thus each case needs to be looked at on its merits. To check your applicable rateable value you can go to the Valuation Office web site organisations/valuation-office-agency. Click - VOA and Business Rates

(non domestic rates), then click Business Rates and Rateable Value. Then - Find and Check your Business Rates Valuation. Click - Start Now Put in your postcode. This will bring up your proposed 2017 Rateable Value and you can also check this against the current 2016 valuation. After April, you can challenge the assessment via the Valuation Office through the proposed ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ procedure. The Government proposes to introduce a charge for submitting an appeal, probably of the order of £150 for smaller business premises. In addition it is proposed that the Tribunal will be able to make an order for costs where an appeal fails and it is considered appropriate so to do. So, one should certainly be sure of one’s ground when embarking on the Appeal stage.

In October 2016, the Government published the proposed 2017 Valuation List detailing the proposed new Rateable Values for all business premises.


Chamber welcomes innovative idea to help kent’s small businesses maximise their impact

An initiative from Design Week’s Top 100 design agency, Impact, to give FREE branding support to a dozen of the most inspirational start up businesses in Kent has been warmly welcomed by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. The ground-breaking project, called Impact Catalyst, invites people who are starting out in business to pitch their ideas Dragon’s Den-style, not to attract finance, but for expert support and mentoring around the successful branding of their business. Those with the most passion, enthusiasm and, most importantly, an open mind, will access a package that would normally cost more than £2,000. “As established creatives, we want to work with entrepreneurs who have a truly inspirational idea and share our passion and enthusiasm for exploring the best way to brand it,” says Wayne Hall, Managing Director of Mardenbased Impact. “Around 50% of businesses fail in the first five years, many in the first two. As a small business, how do you get your market to stop, listen and understand what you have to offer? That’s what we can help with.”

Jo James, Chief Executive of the Chamber, has endorsed the Impact Catalyst initiative and urged start ups to get involved. “This provides businesses with a fantastic opportunity to work with a company that has almost 30 years of brand experience and appeared for ten years in Design Week’s list of Top 100 creative agencies. “Branding is critical to the success of fledgling companies and the chance to win expert support at no cost is not to be missed,” adds Jo. Impact clients include multi million pound companies such as Dixons Carphone and Marley and prestigious business hubs such as Silverstone Park and The Oxford Science Park. “We believe that established firms have a responsibility to give start ups a hand and this is an exciting step forward in Impact’s own development,” says Wayne.

“Impact was founded in Kent nearly 30 years ago and we would be proud to help more local companies enjoy the kind of success we have had. The south east has an opportunity to lead the rest of the UK in nurturing new ideas and, as a Kent-based company, we want to contribute to that.” Kent companies that already benefit from Impact’s creative expertise in branding and design include Marley, Page & Wells, Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance, Armourcoat, Watson Day, Michael Rogers, Sibley Pares, West Kent Housing Association, Weald Smokery, and Pearson Whiffin. For more information about the Impact Catalyst free branding support initiative, visit or call 01622 833880. You can follow Impact on Twitter @impact_creative or on Pinterest: impactcreative

When Tomorrow is just too late

Sevenoaks Sameday is delighted to have joined your Chamber and to have this opportunity of introducing ourselves and we thought some background information about courier services might be interesting and helpful. Couriers actually form a very small part of the haulage industry. Did you know that their services can be subdivided into two sectors? These are Next-day Delivery, which is offered by virtually all UK courier companies and dedicated Same-day Delivery, which is available from a very small number. Next-day delivery vans are the large ones that you see delivering up to 150 packages a day within a local area. You’re more likely to see same-day delivery vans on a motorway taking just one envelope, jiffy bag or box, to a specific destination. Since we started up almost a decade ago, there’s been massive upheaval in the haulage industry, driven predominantly by the power of the Internet, the surge in home shopping and, within the industry, the dawning of a technological age.

Drivers are now out on the roads with trackers, satellite navigation systems, smart phones, earpieces and iPads, which are custom-made to lock into passenger seats as mini desktops and docking stations. In courier offices, there's a vast array of mapping systems, live traffic feeds and street views for collection and delivery addresses. Software provides live readouts of driver fuel consumption, travelling speed and estimated journey time and, most importantly, arrival time. All this adds up to the same-day courier market being more efficient and more competitive than ever before with customers receiving an enhanced service made up of improved efficiency, greater value and thus more satisfaction. Knowing your A4 envelope, for example, will be delivered to your valued client on time is priceless in terms of your reputation and of course your stress levels.

Sevenoaks Sameday is a businessto-business service provider specialising in same-day, often time critical, courier work. We operate in a niche market with all the very latest technology. Founded in 2007, we quickly realised the demand for a personalised, dedicated service and unlike 99% of our competitors, we only offer a same-day service. That's really our USP and of course, me, as I'm the only one always there at the end of the phone to take your call! Our website address is Sevenoaks Sameday knows and appreciates the value and benefits of networking and we are looking forward to meeting and getting to know as many of you as possible. See you soon.

In My Opinion Sarah Finnis Partner Family Law

At odds with the notion that Christmas and New Year celebrations are the times we enjoy spending with our family and loved ones is the bleak reality that January/February is a peak period for marital break-ups with many seeking advice from divorce solicitors. In the majority of cases couples ultimately want to resolve matters as amicably as possible whilst ensuring that they receive a fair settlement. Collaborative Law is an increasingly popular choice for couples who have agreed to separate or end their marriage which is designed to make divorce easier and put the best interest of any children involved first. It is a voluntary process and both parties need to agree to use this method. The parties then work with their collaboratively trained lawyers and if necessary other family professionals to achieve a settlement that meets their specific needs and the needs of any children in a non-confrontational way, without the threat of litigation. Both parties and their lawyers sign a contract binding each other into the process a nd agreeing not to enter into Court proceedings. If Court proceedings are ultimately necessary then both parties will need to instruct new lawyers. The parties then have a number of four-way meetings where they are both in attendance with their lawyers. The meetings follow an agenda which is set by the parties where they discuss and attempt to reach agreements on the issues that need to be resolved. Once an agreement has been reached the lawyers will put this into effect and can obtain a Court order, where needed, without the parties having to attend Court. Collaborative Law has many benefits; the process is often less expensive, quicker and above all avoids going to court which can be a daunting and unpleasant experience. In my opinion, any method which helps couples resolve children and financial matters following the breakdown of a relationship in a way which is non-confrontational and leads to them feeling that they have been in control of the situation is positive. An acrimonious divorce can lead to an unnecessary increase in legal fees and ultimately less money to share out between the parties. Sarah can be contacted on 01227 367355 February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Kent-led consortium unlocks crops research funding A Kent industry-led consortium has secured £1.9m from the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council for nationally important crop research. Berry Gardens, the UK’s leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group based near Tonbridge, has joined forces with NIAB EMR, formerly East Malling Research, to fund a six-year PhD studentship programme for fruit-crop research, through a collaborative training partnership (CTP). NIAB EMR was formed when East Malling Research (EMR) linked up with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), the international centre for plant research, crop evaluation and agronomy based in Cambridge. It will now create a larger and more integrated agricultural research centre with an international standing,

including renewed horticultural research based at East Malling. Professor John Mumford, chair of the East Malling Trust, which continues to support the work of NIAB EMR, said: “This funding success will play an important part in delivering vital fruit-crop research and recognises the world-class expertise that existsin Kent.” The CTP will see the science coordinated by NIAB EMR with the 500 acre site continuing to be owned by East Malling Trust. Richard Harnden, Director of Research at Berry Gardens, said: “This pioneering partnership between

businesses, research providers and the AHDB will provide a world-class horticultural and bioscience UK research training programme.” “I’m confident that the new Collaborative Training Partnership for Fruit Crop Research will address the scientific challenges faced by agribusinesses, from crop production, food quality and supply, through to consumer preference and reducing waste in the supply chain.” The programme will run from October this year to September 2023, and will consist of 16 studentships in core research areas, including plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology,

soil science, plant physiology and crop agronomy, each integrated into the production horticulture industry. NIAB EMR will partner with the universities of Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading to provide the students with research expertise and facilities. Berry Gardens are joined by industry partners spanning the supply chain, and include Worldwide Fruit, M&W Mack, Univeg UK, the National Association of Cider Makers, as well as retailer Marks & Spencer. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board will support the exchange of knowledge with the industry.

Planning for 2017 and Beyond By Neil Williams It’s the beginning of the year and time for me to reflect and revise my plans, consider my business activities, thinking and also start looking beyond 2017… are you doing this? Stop and consider the following: What worked well for you in 2016? What do you want to do differently in 2017? Do you have something special to plan for like selling the business/retirement/growing the business substantially? Do you have a life/career/retirement/business plan for 2017? Do you always do what you have always done and go through life without a plan? Perhaps you start with a mental plan but it never gets underway. Other things stop it, perhaps time, other people or just the day to day demands of the job! Have you been in a job for a long time without a proper career plan putting up with a culture you are unhappy with? Are you a couple of years off retirement without a plan?


Fewer than 5% of SMEs run their company as a business with a business plan. As a result, the business often lurches from feast to famine, where months of overwhelm are followed by months of insecurity. Generating new business is a constant hassle and in time this drains the energy of the professional.

professional to bounce your ideas or issues off in total confidence who is totally detached from your everyday life/business. That’s where I come in!

So, whether it is a life/career/retirement/business plan surely it is a time to review, adapt and have a plan. To make these changes, ideally you need a

Neil Williams has been in business for more than 40 years as an insurance/sales/marketing/ professional including roles as a Non-Executive Director as well as

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Development Director and Managing Director. Over the past 10 years he has spent hundreds of hours training to be a coach and supervisor of coaches (accredited by AC and CSA). So if you want to ensure you have a successful 2017 visit


Learning the Levy Paul Nixon Partner 01233 629255 (Ashford)

The Apprenticeship Levy is due to come into effect from 6th April this year. It aims to support the Department of Education and employers to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 and these new apprenticeships will be funded by the Levy. It will apply only to the largest employers across the UK from April, so if your company has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million – either as a single PAYE scheme or a group of connected schemes, then you will have a requirement to report and pay.

If your pay bill is more than £3million… The Apprenticeship Levy is currently set at 0.5% of the annual pay bill – although it is worth noting that the Chancellor has the power to raise and lower this Levy rate each fiscal year. The annual pay bill is broadly defined as those earnings paid through the payroll which are subject to Class 1 employer NICs. There are some exclusions, for example those employees who are exempted from UK national insurance may be excluded for the purpose of calculating whether the pay bill exceeds £3m. This would exclude employees from overseas working in the UK who hold a valid social security exemption such that they remain in the social security system of their home country. Once it has been established that the Apprenticeship Levy must be paid the employer may utilise a £15,000 Levy Allowance. Thus, assuming a pay bill of £5 million an Apprenticeship Levy of £25,000 will result (£5m x 0.5%). From this the £15,000 Levy allowance is deducted leaving a net payment of £10,000.

If your pay bill is less than £3million… The Government has announced that SMEs will be granted access to unspent Levy funds from larger employers paying the bill. The matter of funding for non-Levy payers is yet to be finalised, but there is some considerable pressure on the Government to deliver a new model that would work for small businesses – especially as they are responsible for more than 90% of all apprenticeships. SMEs will also be entitled to access to the new digital apprenticeship service, which is also funded by the Levy. It is hoped this will help smaller businesses to choose an apprenticeship framework that is right for them.

Accessing and spending the Levy Once you have declared the Levy to HMRC, you will be able to access services. Training will be administered by the Skills Funding Agency and employers will go to them for apprenticeship funding, via a Digital Apprenticeship Service account. Here, you will also be able to select apprenticeship frameworks, choose training providers and organisations that will assess your apprentices as well as post your apprenticeship vacancies. If you are a Levy payer, you can also benefit from using the digital service to pay for any training or assessment costs and set prices agreed with your training provider. You will not be able to spend an unlimited amount of money on a single apprentice and there will be funding bands applied to the limit

of funds an employer can spend and this will vary according to the level and type of apprenticeship. It is possible for funds in the digital account to expire after 24 months, unless you spend them on apprenticeship training. In keeping with this, payments are deducted from your account chronologically, with the oldest funds used first.

Beginning in the middle Some employers could find that their Levy status changes at some point during the year. Where this happens the employer must start paying it from that point onwards and will be entitled to the full £15,000 levy allowance for that year. By means of example, if a business needs to first calculate in month 9 of 12 then 9/12ths of the £15,000 is allowed in month 9 with the balance being allowed in equal amounts in the three remaining months of the tax year. This is perhaps something to bear in mind if your business is planning for a growing workforce or considering a merger, with an increase in the size of the pay bill.

How can Wilkins Kennedy help? The employment tax team here at Wilkins Kennedy can help you keep up to date with any changes, as well as help you to prepare for the Levy and develop a business strategy in relation to the Levy when it comes in to play April. For more information, contact one of our local Kent offices in Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone, Orpington and Sandwich.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



How to build a leading brand? Seven characteristics of successful brands to help you build yours, in your chosen market. #1 They understand their market Do your research. Leading brands have a thorough knowledge of their target market i.e. what their interests are, how they communicate and how they perceive the its products or services. Competitor analysis is also useful to understand how to compete. #2 They cut through the noise Find the ‘something’ that’s different, and makes your brand stand out. Ideally, you will have done your research and be clear on what your customers value. #3 They focus on their target audience You cannot be everything to everybody so do not waste precious budget and time marketing to people who are unlikely to buy from you. Be selective. #4 They are top of mind A leading brand is the one customers that will recall first when thinking of a particular product or service. The ability to reach customers through multiple channels e.g. advertising, direct mail, social media, exhibition etc. is a big part of becoming a successful brand. #5 They deliver against their promise And better still, aim to exceed your customers’ expectations! Keep an eye on satisfaction, listen to feedback and follow up on complaints. #6 They provide an experience Can you go beyond your basic service (product) promise and provide a great customer experience? Make sure you consider every customer interaction from your telephone hold music, the tone of your emails to your product packaging. #7 They embrace change A strong brand is built to last so check regularly that you are delivering against your promises, and adapting to the changing needs and behaviours of your customers. How does your brand measure up? Want to know more? For strategic marketing input and practical support, contact


Impact recognised by Kent Children’s University™ Beanstalk Kent and Medway – a local branch of the national literacy charity - is now a validated ‘Restricted Learning Destination’ for Kent Children’s University™.

This means that Beanstalk’s volunteer reading helpers can now issue Learning Credits in participating children’s ‘Passports to Learning’ for every hour of reading completed with their Beanstalk reading helper.

The scheme will initially be rolled out in North and West Kent to Children in Care through Virtual School Kent which exists to support the education and health of children that have been taken into care. Eventually once rolled out across the county it will benefit more than 100 children in care who currently meet with a Beanstalk Reading Helper twice a week. Once children achieve a fixed number of Learning Credits, they will have the opportunity to have their successes

celebrated at a very special Graduation Ceremony at either Canterbury Christ Church University, The University of Greenwich (Medway Campus) or The University of Kent. “We are so proud of this partnership as it shows the positive impact that our volunteer reading helpers have on children’s learning in schools across Kent and Medway,” said Malou Bengtsson-Wheeler, Area Manager at Beanstalk Kent and Medway. “It’s also a wonderful recognition of the efforts that our volunteers go to inspire confidence in struggling and reluctant readers, and that this is shown to meet with the quality assurance process of National Children’s University Trust.”

CIM and the Kent Business School Chatham, Kent, 15 March 2017, the CIM and Kent Business School will be hosting a free event for Kent organisations and businesses: Go Global using digital insight and agility. The event is designed to help focus on the key challenges of going overseas and providing guidance on how best to avoid them. Research insights (2017), key tips and best practice will be provided. Key focus areas include: • Are you in tune with and responsive to global trends? • How can you be competitive and innovate for growth? • What are the search implications in international markets? • Language, tone and brand can be lost in translation, how do you overcome this? • What are the legal and compliance implications for going overseas? CIM Kent Branch organises events in Kent for students, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), charities/notfor-profit businesses,

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

and PLCs and aims to encourage and foster collaboration between academics, students and businesses. A panel of speakers, including Maria Heckel, Director of Marketing at CIM, Greig Holbrook, Managing Director at Oban International, Professor Marian Garcia from Kent Business School and Director of iCompli Ltd, Duncan Smith will focus on how smart thinking can transform growth prospects via digital and international techniques.

The event is being held at the Pilkington Lecture Theatre, Pilkington Building, Universities at Medway, North Road, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4JB. Registration and networking is from 15:30, the session starts at 16:00 and finishes at 18:30. To book call CIM on 01628 427340 or book directly via the Kent Business School website. CPD Hours are available.

A panel of speakers will focus on how smart thinking can transform growth prospects via digital and international techniques.


Directline structures praised for ‘impressive architecture’

A state-of-the-art sports pavilion designed and built by Ashford specialists Directline Structures has been hailed by the President of the Football Foundation as “architecturally the most impressive” that he has ever opened. The two bedroom earth lodges Lord Pendry praised the award-winning company’s latest project as he officially launched the pavilion, in Langton Green, Kent, on behalf of the UK’s biggest sports charity, alongside World Cup winning footballer George Cohen. Now the impressive building has won its first award, with Directline Structures beating construction specialists from across Europe to take the Astron Small and Smart Award 2016. Two of Directline Structures’ projects were shortlisted in the final seven by Astron, the leading European supplier of steel components for building projects around the world.

The pavilion was the concept of Directline Structures’ Managing Director, Duncan Murray, and architect Katy Barker. Duncan and Katy worked in close collaboration with the Langton Green Community Sports Association (LGCSA) throughout the eightmonth project to provide Direct Line Katy Barker and Duncan Murray chat to Lord Pendry a bespoke pavilion that not only met their needs the large numbers who attend but exceeded the Football Foundation’s stringent requirements football at the weekends. LGCSA Chairman Guy Lambert – all within the £460,000 budget. said: “We’re so glad we chose The new pavilion, which is home to Langton Green’s thriving football Directline Structures to design and build our new pavilion. From community, netball club the outset Duncan and Katy were and other community honest, approachable and reliable. sports, is far larger than “Katy’s design sits beautifully in its predecessor and makes its surroundings and we have better use of natural received numerous comments daylight. about how attractive the building It now boasts two full-size is – a modern structure with echoes changing rooms with showers, toilets, bag rooms, of tradition. On the inside, it’s changing rooms for officials simply amazing. The steel structure is such an intelligent solution that and additional toilets maximises the internal space outside. It also has a much bigger function room, available. It will allow our charity to achieve so much more for which can be used by the Direct Line (L-R) George Cohen, Katy Barker and Lord Pendry our members.” community and caters for

The 1 million meals milestone!

The week before Christmas is the busiest time for each of our businesses as we pull out all the stops to make sure that our customers receive exactly what they need for the high-pressure Christmas holidays. People at Fresca companies genuinely care not only about getting the job done well, but also about making sure as much fresh produce as possible is eaten and not thrown away. We handle many thousands of tonnes of fresh produce each year, and there will inevitably be some surplus that we find uneconomic to sell, but which is perfectly fresh, healthy and eminently edible. We’re very pleased therefore that since 2013 we have been working together with food redistribution charity FareShare to get as much of our edible surplus into their distribution system as we can. Through Thanet Earth and Mack we’re told we’ve reached a very special

milestone. We’ve provided enough surplus portions of fresh produce to FareShare to make 1 million meals! The surplus tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from Thanet Earth and the fresh fruit and vegetables from Mack go to helping FareShare supply a healthier and fresher offering to the charities and community groups they support. They could be children's breakfast clubs, homeless shelters, older people's day centres and community centres helping disadvantaged families – there’s an enormous range of people who benefit from the FareShare network. Fresca’s chief executive, Ian Craig, is justifiably proud of this achievement.

“It’s great to see Fresca leading the way on socially responsible ways to manage the inevitable volumes of surplus we generate. By building this relationship with FareShare we get to see much more good coming from our surplus and our people get the satisfaction of knowing that good food isn’t wasted.” Whilst 1 million meals is an amazing milestone, there’s still a huge demand for the service FareShare provides, with a particular focus on need at this time of year. We continue to be proud supporters and will be working hard to make sure the next million meals we provide are every bit as tasty as the first!

Healthy Workplace Update Having healthy and motivated employees is fundamental to the success of our businesses. With 42%* of employees stating a health condition affected their work “a great deal” or “to some extent,” engaging employees in their wellbeing and providing prompt access to healthcare must be a focus for any business, irrespective of size. It’s well-known that healthier employees are absent less, recover from sickness quicker and are more engaged delivering the organisation’s objectives. At KIMS Hospital, we know the benefits of investing in our staffs’ Health and Wellbeing and in 2016, were recognised for doing so. We were one of the first healthcare organisations in Kent to receive the “Excellence Award”** for the importance we place on the health and wellbeing of our 250 staff. As the largest independent hospital in Kent, KIMS Hospital has been working with a number of organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce, to improve the health of local people; just as we have for our own staff. We take very seriously our commitment to local businesses and believe we have a key role to play in delivering economic growth in Kent by helping your staff stay healthy and in work. You’ll be hearing more from us about health campaigns we’ll be running… During February and March, to support the British Heart Foundation’s campaign, we are offering Chamber members the opportunity to visit KIMS Hospital and learn about how we can help you and your people prevent heart disease. Alternatively we'd be happy to visit you. To request further details or book an appointment, please contact a member of our corporate liaison team at If in the meantime you’d like to have a discussion about how KIMS Hospital might be able to help support your business’s healthcare needs, please contact us at or T: 01622 237 727

Sources: * Department of Work and Pensions: Health and Wellbeing 2014 ** Excellence Award from The Workplace Wellbeing Charter and The Kent Healthy Business Awards is part of a national initiative funded by Public Health England

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



County business leaders sign up for Chamber Patron Scheme I’m delighted to announce that the Chamber has set up a Patron Scheme which will enable us to work with 12 leading Jo James and influential organisations. Nine Patrons have already signed up to work alongside us to act as true advocates and ambassadors for the Chamber and our County. Working alongside our existing representation network, this invited group of County business leaders will

have the opportunity to influence key policies within the County and nationally. The diversity of their industry sectors, as well as their knowledge and expertise, will be of real benefit to members and give a strong voice to supporting the County’s business community plus, of course, helping our County’s economy to thrive and grow. Working with Chamber Member, Oak Creative based in Hythe, we have developed a Patron insignia which will be used for Patron communications. I am delighted that we have Morag Welham as our Head of Patron Services, who will be managing the Patron Scheme and ensuring that it is of benefit to the Chamber, its members and, of course, its Patrons.

The creation of our Patron Scheme will be celebrated at a Launch Reception being hosted by the Tudor Park Marriott Hotel in Bearsted on February 23. If you are interested in finding out about becoming one of the three remaining Chamber Patrons you can email Morag at I look forward to working with our Patrons over the coming year and to building a firm and mutually beneficial relationship Morag Welham with them all.

• AC Goatham & Son - Rural • Ashford Borough Council Local Government • Brachers - Legal • Caxtons - Property • KIMS Hospital - Healthcare / Medical • MHA MacIntyre Hudson Accountancy • MidKent College - Further Education • Towergate Insurance Brokers Insurance • University of Kent - Higher Education The Patron insignia was designed by Hythe based design agency Oak Creative.

A strong partnership for strong local businesses Ashford Borough Council is pleased to announce that it has extended its closeworking relationship with the Chamber into a 15th year. The ongoing service level agreement between the two organisations strengthens further the coordinated approach to supporting businesses in the borough, which is vital to maintaining Ashford’s coveted position as the number one location for business in Kent. The partnership is enhanced by Ashford Borough Council now having patron status of the Chamber – raising its profile further among the business community and enabling it to increase its opportunities to stand shoulder-toshoulder with the Chamber and network with key stakeholders, including MPs, established businesses in the county and the borough’s young entrepreneurs of the future. Achieving patron status is important within the context of Ashford’s flourishing inward investment programme, which is seeing key priority projects such as Ashford College to increase the skills of our workforce, Elwick Place and Victoria Way all gaining real momentum.

Furthermore, a commitment to supporting specialisms such as digitalisation and manufacturing indicate the tailored approach to Ashford, particularly in view of the businesses expected to be within the Commercial Quarter, work on which is under way. In addition to attracting tens of millions of pounds of investment to the borough on its priority projects, the transformation of Park Mall is an excellent example of the council illustrating how businesses both big and small are essential to creating the fabric of the town centre. Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that we have increased our involvement with the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. We are fortunate to have such an active and strong Chamber and formalising this relationship can only help businesses in the borough. I see our partnership as a key building block in our vision to achieve greater economic prosperity for Ashford.”


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Cllr Jerry Clarkson & Jo James

Jo James, Chief Executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “I have been a firm advocate of Ashford Borough Council’s approach to economic investment and growth. The way in which it works with public and private sector stakeholders of any size to realise Ashford’s potential is clear for all to see.

I am delighted to announce that for 2017 the Chamber will be working with Pillory Barn Events to deliver our Kent B2B programme, starting with the Ashford event on the 25th April at the Ashford International Hotel.

“The fact that the council now has patron status should signal to everyone the strength of the council’s resolve to both deliver on its aspirations and make Ashford truly successful in the long-term. I can only commend the borough council on its proactive and tireless pursuit of achieving its economic development goals for the betterment of the borough.” If you would like to find out more about the exhibition and how to book your place, please call Julie on 01622 684407


Adapting to the unknown in 2017 Name: James Gransby Job Title: Partner Company: MHA MacIntyre Hudson (Maidstone office) It is fair to say that businesses are constantly adapting. Sometimes to the expected, other times to the unknown. 2016 threw more than a few curve balls to businesses both in the UK and globally. Everyone is aware of what happened so it needn’t be repeated here, but it will be recognised that the outcome of the decisions made during 2016 will impact businesses during 2017 as changes take place and businesses adapt. When businesses come together and discuss their issues, whether they are from different industries or close competitors, communication is the key to adapting and finding solutions. That is the reason why MHA MacIntyre Hudson has chosen to become a Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Patron for 2017. We want to hear from you about your experiences so that we can then in turn engage with and inform others of what is happening locally, nationally and globally. Our firm is an example where we see the benefit of collaboration. Nationally

we work alongside other accountancy firms as part of our MHA network, and globally as part of Baker Tilly International. We feel the benefits of this as we run our business, especially as markets change and adapt and as the landscape changes around us. What does 2017 hold for businesses in Kent? Making predictions is difficult in a time of such uncertainty but this year will surely be the tipping point for the adoption of Cloud Accounting systems as we move ever closer to the digitising of the tax system. There will also be two full government Budgets this year in both Spring and Autumn, which will no doubt keep those in business on their toes. Not to mention the “B” word. Businesses will need to be prepared to take early action and ensure they are ready when the changes come. Problems are rarely solved without looking at the bigger picture and the only way to understand the bigger picture is to share, collaborate and listen and I very much look forward to meeting many of the Chamber of Commerce members throughout 2017, hearing their experiences and perhaps giving them insight into how others are adapting to the unknown in 2017. Your local offices Canterbury 01227 464991 Folkestone 01303 252207 Maidstone 01622 754033

Businesses will need to be prepared to take early action and ensure they are ready when the changes come.

2017 Time for opportunity Name: Peter Heffer Job Title: Sales Director Company: Towergate Insurance Brokers Welcome to Towergate Insurance Brokers, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce’s official insurance sector Patron. We are hugely proud of our patronage as it gives us the opportunity to represent the county and support our fellow business leaders. With the fallout from Brexit, 2017 is undeniably a challenging prospect, but could it be one of opportunity? In our first article as the Chamber’s insurance Patron, we highlight our Top 10 areas for consideration from a risk and insurance perspective. 1. Insurance Premium Tax When will the increases stop? What can we do to minimise the burden? 2. Premium Costs Have you tested the market in the last 3 years? Are you paying too much? 3. Property Values When did you last consider your sums insured? Are you underinsured? 4. Business Interruption Could you survive a major incident? How long would you be able to fund your fixed costs without income? 5. Cyber Threats What would you do if your IT systems were compromised? How would you respond to a ransom threat? 6. Data Security Could your reputation withstand a data breach? Would you know what to do? 7. Financial Crime Have you suffered at the hands of corporate fraudsters?

8. Trade Credit Is your business resilient enough to survive a major customer failure? 9. Terrorism How does the changing face of terrorism affect your business? 10. Supply Chain What would you do if the chain were to be broken? Could you survive? These are just some of the questions we would expect your insurance broker to be asking. Every business is unique, so why buy an off the shelf policy? We are all very busy and it is easy to let your insurance programme roll on from one year to the next, but have you really thought about the risks your business faces? Do you, as a company director, have a professional duty to ensure cover is fit for purpose? Some interesting facts: • In their recent thematic review into the handling of SME claims, the FCA discovered that “in 12 out of the 20 case studies, there were issues relating to sums insured. In 8 cases the material damage sums insured for buildings, trade contents and/or stock were inadequate. In 4 cases the loss exceeded the 12 month maximum indemnity period.” • According to recent research by the Building Cost Information Service, part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 80% of commercial properties in England and Wales are actually underinsured. • The average cost of a cyber attack to large business in the UK now stands at some £36,500, with the most severe attacks costing millions, as revealed by the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2016. For more information, please contact Peter Heffer Cert CII on 01795 597 179 or 07484 076 067 or email:

Towergate Insurance Brokers is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited. Registered in England No.4043759.Registered Address: Towergate House, Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



South East companies missing out on tax relief Despite the Chancellor proposing a further £2 billion in Research and Development (R&D) support in his Autumn Statement, specialists at national audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill, believe South East businesses are already failing to make the most of existing tax benefits for innovation on offer. The benefit of Patent Box is a much lower rate of tax on those products, or any product containing the patented part, than the standard rate of tax which will be 10% from 1 April 2017. As a bonus there is the R&D tax credit system, which can be utilised while developing the product before it can be patented. Patent Box has been developed to encourage innovative high-tech companies and those developing and using patents in their products. Despite the attractions of the significantly reduced tax rate, HMRC’s recently published statistics indicate that last year, only 700 businesses took advantage across the country. While the South East may account for the largest number of successful applications for Patent Box support, with 115 companies, they only secured £18.6 million of relief. This compared to the 70 London companies who unlocked £196.8 million of relief. Simon Crookston, Partner at Crowe, which has offices in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, said: “Patent Box suffers from the perception that it is complicated to apply for and take advantage of, but recently we’ve seen growing interest from firms on how to take them through the process,

especially as many start to plan for their new trading relationships with the EU and further afield. “Once Patent Box status has been approved, the company can benefit from tax savings throughout the life of the patent, which can be significant. By not applying, local innovative firms are missing out on what is a major financial benefit for the cuttingedge work they are already doing. “What many fail to understand is that a patent, which can protect a business’ long-term future and ultimate value, can be secured for in the region of £3,000 and should therefore be considered a priority.” Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said: “Patent Box, combined with R&D tax credits and the lowering of Corporation Tax, continues to be an important fiscal advantage which helps in attracting high growth companies to the country. Alongside the commercial regime, it improves the competitiveness of the UK to international business. “We would also urge many more Kent companies to consider the financial opportunities presented by Patent Box and to take expert advice on how to apply.”

What many fail to understand is that a patent, which can protect a business’ longterm future and ultimate value, can be secured for in the region of £3,000 and should therefore be considered a priority.”


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017


SELEP shows why Government should back it as a proven winner As part of its Annual Conversation with Government, an appraisal of its work over the past 12 months, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has shown why it has a strong case for further funding support. SELEP champions the economic growth of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock and the area’s 344,500-strong business community. It is the country’s largest LEP in terms of the area it covers, and has a population in excess of 4 million. Having unlocked £488m from the Local Growth Fund and secured a further £400m from local authorities and the private sector, SELEP remains on target to help deliver 23,000 new homes and create 45,000 new jobs by 2021. Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said: “Significant progress has been made and a big thank you must go to all our business representatives, the region’s MPs and our local government partners who are all working to a shared and exciting vision for the area’s future.

“We continue to argue the case that in these times of uncertainty, the Government must back the South East as a proven winner, which means investing in its infrastructure, skills and support for business. “To date, funding for 58 infrastructure projects has been agreed and work is now underway to help create the right conditions for economic growth. delivering new homes and jobs.” SELEP has also supported the Government’s ambition to build a million new homes by 2020, with a 57% increase in new house starts and 47% increase in housing completions on previous years. With demand for new homes continuing to outstrip supply, SELEP is backing the proposals for new Garden communities at Ebbsfleet, Shepway and North Essex.

Successful bids by SELEP means that by 2020 it will have invested £161m from the EU’s European Structural and Investment Funds, including £71.6m in skills, education and lifelong learning, and improving access to employment for young people and enhancing social inclusion. More than £74m will be used to support research and innovation, SME business growth and the low carbon economy. To support rural businesses, rural tourism and food manufacturing, SELEP will be investing £14.5m over the period. Over the past year, SELEP has helped secure and invest in projects across the area, including £49.3m from the European Structure Fund and a further £22.8m from the European Regional Development Funding.

The Growth Hub, supporting business with advice across the SELEP area, has worked with 1,300 businesses in its first 6 months, and referred 588 businesses to external support providers. SELEP has also placed enormous importance on improving skills in the area and has invested in new Further Education facilities to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), construction, logistics and health care training. It has also linked 200 schools to the Careers Enterprise Network to provide young people with guidance and mentoring on possible career paths, involving many volunteers from local businesses.

More than £294,000 invested in mentoring programmes in South East More than £294,000 will be invested in mentoring programmes in the South East LEP area (East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend & Thurrock) in a bid to boost social mobility and support young people who are at risk of not fulfilling their full potential at school. The Government-backed Careers & Enterprise Company has announced the successful bidders for its Investment Fund with five organisations in the South East LEP area set to benefit. The fund will focus on students who are about to begin their GCSEs but risk under achieving and falling behind their peers. This can impact on their future earning potential and career later in life. In total, the company will distribute first-round funding worth more than £3.5million to 39 mentoring organisations across the country, targeting almost 20,000 students. This is part of a wider first tranche of a £12million fund administered by the Company to scale up tried and tested employer mentoring programmes to create a new generation of mentors from the business community.

The successful applicants in the SELEP area are: Organisation



Think Forward

£46,293.80 Kent only

Cross LEP ELBA £57,821.67 (and other LEP (East London areas also) Business Alliance)

Young Enterprise Southend on Sea Council Help me I’m a Medic

Focus ThinkForward ensure young people underperforming at school receive long-term support to transition from school to sustained employment. East London Business Alliance mentoring matches students to business volunteers to support with planning their future career and skills for the world of work.

Cross LEP £39,277.48 (and other LEP areas also)

Young Enterprise is the UK's leading charity connecting 300 business mentors with 3000 pre GCSE students. The 60 Minute Mentor programme works Southend, towards ensuring all young people in South Thurrock, £88,300.24 Basildon, Castle Essex have access to an inspirational role Point, Rochford model. Cross LEP £62,332.84 (and other LEP areas also)

Help Me I’m a Medic empowers and supports people from all social backgrounds to fulfil their dreams of working in health.

SELEP Chairman Christian Brodie said: “This funding demonstrates the really valuable role that business can play in inspiring young people with important life changing decisions, there is so much talent and experience in our business community and it is wonderful to see this being used for positive effect to help young people on their way to sustainable careers and to achieve their goals.”

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Chamber member Lemon Creative wins national Solutions Awards for third year running! Become a volunteer Reading Helper in 2017 and make a lasting difference to a child’s life

Kent-based creative agency, Lemon Creative, scooped two awards at the 2016 Solutions Awards, beating more than 100 other entries to win in two categories.

In a three-stage voting process, Lemon Lemon Creative designed two unique personal. The mailer itself made innovative use of paper-folding Creative’s designs won Solutions for pieces that highlighted Alluxi’s technology to create a gradual reveal. Direct Mail with over 50% of the total professional services and make a strong category votes, and Solutions for Design impression. Naturally they needed to The presentation pack featured a printed with over 60% of the total category votes. match the high quality finish of the folder, with the same shell enhanced other printed materials they’d already with a spot UV and a shell-shaped The success follows wins in the produced for the client. pocket inside. The sumptuous feel Solutions for Books awards in 2014 and was heightened with full colour Solutions for Direct Mail 2015. Lemon Creative Director Drew Selman said, photography and a matt laminate. Creative’s packaging for’s “With so many messages competing for Beanstalk – a national literacy Brian the Robot also reached the final attention, everything we design has to Director of Alluxi Consulting, Linda charity - is searching for five in the Solutions for Packaging cut through the noise and really stand Garcia, said, “It’s amazing, a thing members of the community category in 2015. out. That’s one of the great things about of great and wondrous beauty.” across Kent and Medway to using print. A quality, well-designed item The imaginative mailshot delivered The winning entries in 2016 were for volunteer as Reading Helpers can have much more impact – it can their work with proud client, Alluxi significantly more enquiries and in local primary schools in a bid entice and intrigue, and how it feels Consulting. In 2015 Lemon Creative website traffic than anticipated, to raise literacy levels in 2017 is a vital part of that.” worked with Alluxi to design and generating more new business leads and to inspire confidence in implement a new brand identity. For the mailer, each individual brand and a higher profile for Alluxi. And the struggling and reluctant readers. To capitalise on the opportunity this coloured envelope was sealed by hand presentation pack has proved its value By starting the New Year as a Beanstalk presented, they were then commissioned with a digitally printed and cut 'shell' too, with clients commenting on how shaped sticker. This, along with hand reading helper, volunteers will provide a to design a mailshot with a difference, the professional, top-quality impression and a stand-out presentation pack. written address made it feel valuable and makes all the difference. child with the gift of reading, having a life-changing impact on their ability, confidence, and self-esteem. Malou Bengsston-Wheeler, Area Manager at Beanstalk for Kent and Innovating isn’t always about what you design or produce, it can equally be about how you run your Medway, said: “In the last academic year 42% of children in Kent did not business, according to Edwin Simmonds, Director of plastic injection moulding business Plasticom. reach the expected standard in reading were approached by a client who had Many people will be familiar with the In the UK plastic moulding sector, more in the new SATS in Kent. Our aim at than 1,400 UK companies are competing results of the IML process, but may not developed a game designed to help teach Beanstalk is to support schools to for a market estimated to be worth around realise how it is done. Take margarine tubs Bible studies in schools. The client needed address the problem by providing £3.5 billion a year so businesses that want as an example. The branding and to produce a set of 24 biblical figures, all 1:1 support for pupils who struggle to remain competitive need to continuously information on the packaging may look conical in shape, which were identified by with reading to prevent them from identify areas where they can be like it is printed on the tub but it is, in fact, getting left behind.” different character designs. IML was the innovating. a label that has been fused into the tub ideal process for the application. Beanstalk reading helpers have a Edwin realised this many years ago and when it was made. direct impact on changing the life of continuous improvement has been at the Creating a breakthrough doesn’t need The finished item is resilient and a child by spending just three hours heart of his strategy for Plasticom. to be about what you do, it can be about can resist humidity, scratching and a week, giving them the skills, Put together, the range of enhanced and how you do it. It isn’t always about what cracking better than some other options. confidence and imagination they need additional services, along with the you produce, it can be about how you It is also more environmentally friendly to succeed in life. company's willingness to work with clients than some alternatives, as the whole item produce it. And it doesn’t need to be To find out more about volunteering on developing their projects, are what Edwin can be recycled. about doing something new, it can equally believes gives Plasticom its competitive as a reading helper in primary be about doing something better and Edwin spotted an opportunity he could advantage, but it is the company's latest schools in Kent and Medway visit: always having an eye on continuously innovation that Edwin is most excited about, grasp. The most recent IML contract improving your offer. Plasticom has won came about when they in-mould labelling (IML).

The importance of innovation


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017


24 HOURSWITH Commitment to improvement drives business Tim Watts Tim has been his own boss for thirteen years. After working in industry, the last seven years for the UK’s papermaking trade association, he established TWA People Development in 2004 which operates from an office in his garden. Tim offers a range of services to his clients, including Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited courses, his own ‘Seven Strengths of Successful Managers’ and bespoke health and safety courses. All his courses comply with national standards. His expertise means that he is much in demand and he said: “I aim to be out of the office two or three days a week and back in the office the other two

Tim Watts’ working day is devoted to passing on his extensive experience to help businesses improve the way they work, whether it be heightened levels of health and safety or development of managerial skills. days, catching up on the work I have done on-site. “If I am in the office, I start work at 8.30am and the first task is always to check my e-mails. Keeping on top of them is very important. “If I am having a day in the office, I will often be writing reports. My work in the office tends to be based on preparing for something that is going to happen or writing up something that has happened. “As an example, I recently undertook some health and safety auditing at a biomass power station and the following day was spent writing the report.

“I travel all over the country to work. I do not put geographical limits on where I work so I have clients all over the UK and I also do some work in Europe where my knowledge of the papermaking industry is required.

“If it is an office day, I tend to be disciplined and stop working at 5 or 5.30pm so that I can go back into the house for tea with my family. However, I will often go back to work afterwards if there are things to do.

“I have found, having done this for 13 years, that people are very similar. They respond to the same stimuli.

“That’s when I do all the things that people do not see, the marketing, the accounts and the administration. I will also work at weekends, as required.”

“The result is that the lessons that I teach, whether it be improving health and safety culture in industry or developing leadership skills, can be applied to just about any sector. “Also, because the service I deliver abides by national standards my clients know that they will receive something that stands up to scrutiny.

Tim’s business is developing all the time and he has created leadership and management training that he hopes to deliver to businesses in east Kent. He can be contacted for more information at Tel: 07834 712092

Boosting the bottom line through people development

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Revival the name of the One of the key challenges facing the UK’s towns is the need to breathe new life into the high street at a time when competition from online shopping is increasing. Dartford High Street

Britain’s high streets have had a tough time of late. Recession and financial problems pushed some big-name stores over the edge and small, independent traders have been suffering, too.

Working together, the Town Team, the district council and other stakeholders have created the High Street Revival, a plan to showcase all that’s best about Dartford's tradition as a market town.

But there are real signs that confidence is returning to high streets all over the country and in Dartford, the council and its partners are determined to use the new-found optimism as a springboard to breathe new life into the town centre.

The programme of investment, events and initiatives is designed to put Dartford High Street on the retail map and support the traders who serve the town and those running the initiative say that, as a result, there has been real growth and improvement.

Saturday Market


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Also the subject of revival plans is the historic former Dartford home and grounds of entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome. Dartford Borough Council purchased the former Glaxo Smith Kline staff sports and social club to safeguard it following the closure of the pharmaceutical giant's Dartford production plant. The council has already amalgamated acres of sports fields into the town's


Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

game in Dartford The programme of investment, events and initiatives is designed to put Dartford High Street on the retail map and support the traders who serve the town and those running the initiative say that, as a result, there has been real growth and improvement. Acacia Hall

hugely popular Central Park and has now announced plans to restore and improve the rest of the site, including a number of historic buildings surrounding Grade II listed Acacia Hall. Council Leader Jeremy Kite said heritage and history are at the heart of the proposals just as they have been throughout the restoration of Central Park.

He said: “Integrating the Acacia estate with Central Park and town centre is pretty much the final part of a ten-year plan to restore some old-fashioned Edwardian elegance to our historic park, gardens and open space. “People seem to love the way we have put heritage at the heart of our restoration of Central Park but it’s always been sad to know that there's a historic mansion house and grounds right next door that is hidden away and crowded by modern buildings.

“We think the Acacia grounds deserve to be better integrated with the Park. The Mansion House should sit proudly at at one side of a new civic square and car parks on the site should be better designed to reflect both their historic setting and the needs of visitors. “Our plans mean that some of the hotchpotch of late twentieth century buildings on the site will have to go but I think there's a

growing appreciation in society that beautiful and truly historic buildings deserve to be in the right setting. Where we are proposing to take away one modern use, such as the old social club building, we are planning to replace new facilities in a far more appropriate setting elsewhere in the grounds. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create some very special public space in a truly historic setting.”

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



The importance of markets to Dartford Market traders are an important part of Dartford’s economy and late last year two of the town's most loyal market traders celebrated serving customers for more than 50 years.

Central Park

Supporting business Among the ventures supporting business in Dartford with 6,500 new jobs already created is the highly-successful Crossways Business Park. The nearby mixed-use development at The Bridge also has 1.5million sq. ft. of business space, and the potential for a further 7,500 jobs.

The Bridge is a mixed-use business and innovation park that has been designed to encourage an entrepreneurial culture and the development of knowledgebased industries in the Thames Gateway. A joint venture between Prologis and Dartford Borough Council, The Bridge will integrate more than 1.8 million square feet of

commercial space with hotels and restaurants, new homes, community facilities and over 80 acres of public open space. • The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The 200ft bridge cost £120 million to build and was officially opened on October 30, 1991, as the Queen drove across it.

People seem to love the way we have put heritage at the heart of our restoration of Central Park but it’s always been sad to know that there's a historic mansion house and grounds right next door that is hidden away and crowded by modern buildings.


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Chas Bassett, owner of Idel Butchers, and Simon Zaiden, who sells bags, suitcases and purses, both reached the milestone. Simon said: “I have been a stall holder selling handbags and luggage for more than 50 years and have always enjoyed the great atmosphere and my loyal customers.” Jeremy Kite, Leader of the Council said: “We’re incredibly proud of our town's market heritage and traders like Chas and Simon are the reason that our market continues to be so popular with customers. “The market attracts thousands of visitors every week and once someone starts to trade with us they tend to stick around. “It means visitors can be confident when they shop and it cements our reputation as one of the best markets around.” Dartford has a strong tradition of hosting markets and as well as holding traditional weekly markets on Thursdays and Saturdays there’s also the Farmers' Market at 10am-2pm every third Friday of the month. Regular markets... The Thursday Market Dartford’s weekly Thursday Market is held in Dartford High Street. There are a wide range of goods on sale as well as several food and drink concessions for those who want some refreshment whilst shopping. The Saturday Market The Saturday Market also takes place in Dartford High Street from 9am to 5pm and is extremely popular with shoppers and traders. Typical items available at Dartford Markets: • Food - fruit and greengrocery, frozen foods, fresh meat, fresh fish and shellfish, groceries, sweets • Fashion - men's, ladies and children's, clothes, sportswear, shoes, trainers, accessories • Jewellery - gold, silver, costume jewellery, watches • Home and garden - garden plants, cut flowers, garden furniture, kitchenware, linen, curtains, electrical goods, computer hardware/software, carpets, cds and tapes • Refreshments - hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, rolls, cakes, burgers & oriental cuisine To find out more about renting a pitch on either of Dartford’s Markets , please contact the Market Manager on 01322 343450 or 07876 441460. The Farmers' Markets provide the chance to buy local produce straight from the farmers, producers and growers and typically produced from a 30 mile radius of Dartford. Shoppers are able to buy a range of fresh goods such as bread, cake, plants, jams, preserves, potatoes, eggs, seasonal fruit and vegetables and plants. The Farmers' Markets take place in Dartford High Street on the third Friday of the month from 10am - 2pm. For further information about Farmers Markets in Kent visit


• Staying over in Dartford • Meetings and interviews • Informal meetings with a good cup of coffee and FREE WiFi (we also do ‘builders’ tea!) • Lunches, working lunches, dinners … by our working stove • But also: parties, cocktails, networking events …

Look no further: Campanile Dartford is your best local pad! Also ideally located:

• Fastrack Bus Line A from ‘Home Gardens’ (down by the station) or UTC to ‘Galleon Boulevard’! • 3.8 miles Dartford town center. • 2.8 miles from Bluewater • 0.8 miles from Stone Crossing train station • 4.6 miles from Ebbsfleet international: High-speed trains to London St Pancras and Eurostar. • By M25 exit A1 – SatNav: DA2 6QN

Call: 01322 278 925

The Campanile ‘Gang’ is waiting for your call!

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Property Brexit - how the headlines have told the referendum property story By David Gurton, Director, Caxtons Chartered Surveyors

On June 24th, Britain awoke to find that the country had voted to leave the European Union following some 40 years of membership. Following the momentous decision – that most politicians and pundits had not seen coming – the country was in a flux. Media proclaimed messages of doom and gloom or freedom at last – depending upon their leaning. Some red tops were joyous whilst broadsheets and the ‘serious’ media were more reticent. And the BBC remained even-handed. Whatever the mood of voters, it was a wake up call for in business, including those of us working across the property sector – so often held up as a barometer of how the economy is fairing. Since the vote there have been some extraordinary and often contradictory stories - often appearing on the same day. In the beginning it seemed nobody wanted to put their head above the ‘positive parapet’, but by the third week things began to look up. On 31st July The Sunday Telegraph reported that analysts had reversed some downgrades made immediately after the Brexit vote and economists now believed the UK would grow faster than expected in 2016 and 2017. Meanwhile The Sunday Times quoted Grainne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank saying property markets had been reassured, post-Brexit, by the swift appointment of a new prime minister and the interest rate cut implemented by the Bank of England. By the end of the first week in August there were reports of a 3+ per cent drop in commercial property values in July with expectations that it would fall further. CBRE confirmed that hardest hit were offices with retail and industrial property values both down. However, rental values were maintained across the board. Two weeks later BBC News, the FT and The Daily Telegraph all carried stories on residential property sales remaining steady in July, albeit slightly fewer when compared with July 2015.


As August came to a close consumer spending was up and the economy remained resilient - despite Brexit. On the commercial property front Wells Fargo, the world’s largest bank, agreed a £300m deal to base its new European HQ in London whilst Germany’s Union Investment pulled out of a purchase in Cannon Street and Eversheds (law firm) cancelled its purchase of another City property. So it was a mixed bag of news. The beginning of September heralded a call for the suspension of Stamp Duty to kick-start falling housing sales and stop foreign investors pricing Londoners out of the market. Media carried stories on investors seeking out alternative or specialist property, such as student accommodation, health centres and care homes. There were commercial property confidence warnings; reports that UK house-property prices had fallen post-Brexit; that the London office market was at a standstill, and the construction sector had raised concerns about the future. Conversely Sergo, Britain’s largest listed industrial property developer, raised £325m; Canada Life lifted its property fund suspension (imposed after the Brexit vote); the pound rose as figures confirmed that UK manufacturing had rebounded in August, and China’s Greenland Group committed to the launch of its £800m 67-storey Spire London tower in West India Quay – the tallest residential tower in Europe. Goldman Sachs increased its foothold in UK real estate with a deal worth £338m and *Hong Kong’s SRE Group announced they were buying Société Générale’s London HQ for £84.5m with a lease back agreement at £5.9m p.a. until 2020 – a gross initial yield of 7% (*Financial Times). Confidence continued to climb through September with the UK trade gap narrowing as EU exports rose. Conversely ONS figures released postBrexit showed that the housing market had cooled and commercial property values continued to fall. In the third week of September figures released by Rightmove reported a bounce-back for property prices and three property services firms announced they were dropping a Brexit clause from their valuation reports for most UK assets. Some commentators’ opinions modified, saying Brexit might not be as bad as anticipated, and the OECD

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

revised its UK economic growth forecast upwards. But the Bank of England Financial Policy Committee was still erring on the side of caution showing concerns over the impact on the UK’s public finances, commercial property and over-indebted borrowers (The Independent, FT). At the end of the month interest rate rises were ‘less likely’ (Financial Times and The Times) but on 4th October the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee said that there were still concerns about the commercial property market (prices had fallen in both July and August). Throughout October the positive and negative stories continued to pour in. The service sector maintained its recovery and by the 10th of the month Knight Frank said the luxury property market was gradually recovering after the Brexit vote. Smaller (value) commercial property auctions were doing good business and independent forecasts compiled by the Treasury showed the economy was performing far better than expected. Cushman & Wakefield analysis revealed consistent but slower progress in (commercial property) deal activity. At the end of the month AXA Investment Managers Real Assets confirmed it would continue with the construction of its 22 Bishiopsgate project in the City of London and the National Association of Estate Agents’ MD Mark Hayward said that (residential) buyer confidence was growing. Things were looking quite rosy at the end of the month and. November also began on a positive note with construction companies enjoying a rise in activity, data from NHBC implied house building was unaffected by Brexit, manufacturing figures showed improvement in September and the value of commercial property grew in October – the first monthly increase since the June 23rd vote. Mid-month deceleration was forecast for office developers; PwC predicted that tax receipts would be hit due to the economy’s slowdown, but the day

after the Autumn Statement the last property fund reopened. However, the Chancellor did not rescind any implemented or impending changes made in George Osborne’s previous budget hit on buy-to-let landlords and owners. December entered with warnings from the Bank of England that commercial property posed a risk to financial stability, and investment firm London Central Portfolio recorded massive falls in prime transactions blaming Stamp Duty and Brexit for the prime home sales slump. Almost six months after the referendum, it was still a rollercoaster ride for the property sector. The close of the year saw property predictions for Brexit and beyond; stories of percentage rises and falls across the sector cancelled one another out; then Christmas provided a breathing space …until the New Year. Early 2017 property news, in the main, has been positive but with signs that commercial property values continue to fall. In the middle of January Mark Carney told MPs that the immediate risk posed by Brexit to the UK economy had declined - and then the prime minister announced her plans for existing the EU. So, in conclusion, it is impossible to predict accurately where we will be this time next year. The certainty is that even for thrill seekers, it will be an interesting and unpredictable ride with lots of lessons learnt and no doubt, fortunes won and lost. As Donald Rumsfeld said: “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” David can be contacted at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors on 01474 537733.

Almost six months after the referendum, it was still a rollercoaster ride for the property sector.




ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Change is the name of the game as company celebrates its thirtieth anniversary Technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before which means that the companies that specialise in its development have to be constantly innovating.


That is certainly the case with Maidstone-based NCS Technology, whose 28-strong team have built up a reputation for inventive solutions that ensure their clients are kept up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, the company was founded in 1987 by its managing director Vince O’Toole, who came to the role after enjoying a wide ranging engineering and technical career in both the UK and North America. He began his career as an engineer with The GPO, which became British Telecom then joined IBM after which he worked at McDonnell Douglas providing technical support for computer systems across Eastern Canada and North America before returning to the UK. As technology has evolved, so have the services that NCS Technology provide. They specialise in connecting the technology that makes organisations work. Covering everything from touchscreens in a meeting room, to networked CCTV and building entry systems, and LED lighting to wireless networks. One of the major areas in which the company has been able to show its strengths is supporting the education sector to keep up with the technological advancements that have taken place over the past 30 years. In a recent example, Maidstone Grammar School commissioned NCS Technology to upgrade their Ethernet network infrastructure. The system upgrade was required to support the higher demands of their 1700 students and 120 staff. Also with the introduction of IP security, telephony, Wi-Fi laptops and tablets, the system needed to be more robust and resilient than ever before. Vince said: “Over the years, we’ve worked with over 87 per cent of the schools in Kent. Technology has changed rapidly in schools, as it has in the business environment. “The changes have not only been brought about by the need for audio-visual aids in classrooms to enhance learning opportunities, but also by our clients who require easy to use and reliable systems that make building management more efficient. “If we take schools as an example, when we started, they maybe only had a couple of PCs, one in the front office and perhaps the odd one in classrooms. “However, the technology was moving at a rapid rate - blackboards were replaced with projectors, which were replaced by interactive white boards. Now we install interactive touchscreens in every classroom and provide the infrastructure and services that also supports the school’s IP CCTV, door entry systems and Wi-Fi for thousands of mobiles, tablets and laptops.”

That need to keep evolving with technology has also seen the company move increasingly into the commercial sector. “All organisations - schools, businesses and the public sector - require systems that are integrated onto the one network. The benefits are a simplified, accessible and efficient system, that can be managed easily by the end user.” “The technology keeps moving all the time and as a company we have to keep ourselves and our clients moving with it. We have built up a strong technical team which ensures that we can keep up to date with the changes. “We’re always looking for the next big development to help our clients run their networks and workspaces more efficiently. “There are also cost advantages to the work that we do. More efficient systems cost less to manage and maintain. A large portion of the work we do

now is installing energy efficient lighting in offices, schools, warehouses and leisure centres.” LED lighting systems use up to 50% less energy than fluorescent lighting, produce a more natural light and reach full brightness instantly. “We were delighted to have been awarded the OJEU tender by the London Borough of Bromley to upgrade the existing lights within three of their multi-storey car parks to intelligent LED lighting systems - saving them 60 per cent on energy use. “We want to take this a step further though and we’re currently developing innovative ways of connecting LED lighting to the network to add this to the uniformed infrastructure that everything else sits on.” Vince does not believe that pace of change will slow any time soon. He said: “I think that technology will continue to evolve and get faster. If anything, the next thirty years promises to be more exciting that the three decades just gone.”

The technology keeps moving all the time and as a company we have to keep ourselves and our clients moving with it. We have built up a strong technical team which ensures that we can keep up to date with the changes.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



The new Apprenticeship Levy - how it works In Spring 2017, the way the Government funds apprenticeships in England is changing. Some employers will be required to contribute to a new apprenticeship levy and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers. There is still much confusion and concern amongst businesses over the Apprentice Levy. We’ll be running a free seminar, ‘Get Ready for the Levy’, on the 23rd Feb and 1st March, at our Hadlow and Tonbridge campuses, where anyone can come and receive free advice and guidance on how the Levy affects you and how to ensure that you use it, not lose it. You can get in touch with us at Jane Burtenshaw, Recruitment and Contracts Manager - Apprenticeships, The Hadlow Group

The apprenticeship levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships, with the new system coming in from April 6. You will pay the levy on your entire pay bill at a rate of 0.5%. However, you will have a levy allowance to offset against this. The levy allowance is worth £15,000 for each tax year. This means the levy is only payable on pay bills over £3 million (because 0.5% x £3 million = £15,000). The levy allowance will operate on a monthly basis and will accumulate throughout the year. This means you will have an allowance of £1,250 a month. Any unused allowance will be carried from one month to the next. For example, if your levy liability in month 1 is £1,000 you will not pay the levy and your allowance in month 2 will be £1,500. If you have some unused allowance in


a month, but paid the levy previously in the tax year, you can receive a credit which you can use to offset against your other PAYE liabilities. The credit will also reduce the amount of levy paid. If you have multiple PAYE schemes and do not use the full £15,000 allowance, you will be able to offset the unused amount against another one of your schemes once the tax year has ended.

Examples of what you will pay: An employer who would pay the levy An employer with an annual pay bill of £5,000,000: • levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000 • subtracting levy allowance: £25,000 - £15,000 = £10,000 annual levy payment

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

An employer who would not have to pay the levy An employer with an annual pay bill of £2,000,000: • levy sum: 0.5% x £2,000,000 = £10,000 • subtracting levy allowance: £10,000 - £15,000 = £0 annual levy payment You will calculate, report and pay your levy to HMRC, through the PAYE process alongside tax and NICs. Any apprenticeship levy payment to HMRC will be allowable for Corporation Tax. Where a group of employers are connected they will only be able to use one £15,000 levy allowance. Some industries already operate levy systems, or other collective training arrangements. If you already contribute to one of these, you will still be required to pay the apprenticeship levy.

Once you have declared the levy to HMRC you will be able to access funding for apprenticeships through a new digital apprenticeship service account. The service will also help you find training providers to help you develop and deliver your apprenticeship programme. The apprenticeship levy will be introduced on 6 April 2017. The first time eligible employers will have to declare their liability to HMRC will be in May 2017 for levy due on their April payroll. Apprentices who have been accepted on to an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017 will be funded for the full duration of the apprenticeship under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started.


Who pays the levy? Employers with a payroll in excess of £3 million will pay the levy.

How is the ‘paybill’ calculated?

How do the top-ups work?

The levy will be at a rate of 0.5% of the wage bill. The wage bill is defined as the ‘total employee earnings’ of every employee.

The government will apply a 10% top-up to the funds you have for spending on apprenticeship training in England.

Will the funds expire if I don’t use them?

How will employers reclaim the funds?

Funds will expire 18 months after they enter your digital account if you don’t spend them on apprenticeships.

Employers paying the levy will need to hire apprentices to claim back their tax in a form of digital vouchers.

What can I spend levy funds on?

How do I access the levy fund? Funds will be accessed through a new digital apprenticeship service account and will appear in your account monthly, which will be available for registration in January 2017.

Can I use the allowance to offer Apprenticeships to both new and existing staff?

The levy can only be spent on apprenticeship training and assessment with approved training providers at an agreed price. Payments to the provider will be made monthly for the first year of the levy.

Yes, you can recruit new staff or train existing staff for an Apprenticeship, as long as it is relevant to their role and is the most appropriate way of developing their skills.

Whether you pay the levy or not, the digital apprenticeship service will help you to: • select an apprenticeship framework or standard • choose the training provider or providers you want to deliver the training • choose an assessment organisation • post apprenticeship vacancies From May 2017, if you pay the levy you will also be able to: • see the funds you have available to spend in England • set the price you’ve agreed with your training provider • pay for apprenticeship training and assessment through the digital apprenticeship service

By 2020, all employers will be able to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships. If you do not pay the levy, you won’t need to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment until at least 2018. Apprenticeship training can either be on a new apprenticeship standard, or on an existing apprenticeship framework. Apprenticeship standards are the new type of apprenticeship developed by employers. Each standard covers a specific job role and sets out the core skills,

knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to be fully competent in their job role and meet the needs of employers in the sector. Standards are developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’. An apprenticeship framework ordinarily involves a series of work-related vocational and professional qualifications, with workplace and classroom based training. The Government will phase out frameworks between now and 2020, as they move over to the employerled apprenticeship standards.

Funding The government have agreed to provide: • an extra 20% of funding to train 16- to 18-year-olds • more money for employers to train apprentices in the poorest parts of England • more money for employers who take on apprentices under 24 years old who are in care or who have special educational needs • 24 months for businesses to spend the vouchers.

Hadlow Group Apprenticeships: Maximise the Return on Your Levy Contribution Findings from the recent Employer Skills Survey highlight the Construction sector and Skilled Trades sectors, including Chefs and Engineers, as particular areas of concern, with employers struggling to recruit people with the necessary skills. There is also a huge demand for the next generation of workers in the agricultural sector; due to an ageing workforce, 60,000 new employees will be needed by 2020. The Hadlow Group offer Apprenticeships to meet all of these areas and continue to work with businesses to address widening skills gaps. The Group’s Ofsted-Outstanding land-based college, Hadlow, offers apprenticeships - in Agriculture (Mixed Farming, Crops, Livestock) & Horticulture (Commercial Production, Landscaping, Gardens & Green spaces). From West Kent and Ashford campuses they offer a range of apprenticeships in construction, catering, light vehicle maintenance and many other areas. Their highly knowledgeable tutors have strong connections to local employers - meaning that your apprentice would be bringing the most up-to-date industry knowledge and skills to your business. Through its apprenticeship arm, ABC (Apprenticeships, Business and Community), the Group offers a complete recruitment service to employers looking to recruit an apprentice, from Intermediate to Advanced and Higher Level Apprenticeships. The service includes advertising your vacancy, pre-screening & shortlisting applicants, arranging interviews, advice on upskilling your existing workforce via apprenticeship learning and guidance on managing your recruitment and training to maximise return on levy and training costs. The Hadlow Group also partners with Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery School, Tunbridge Wells, where apprentices study in Hospitality & Catering and Professional Cookery along with practical masterclasses with Rosemary and her team in state-of-theart facilities. To discuss your recruitment and training needs, please contact the ABC team on 01732 372888

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Investment seeks to bridge the skills gap Bridging the skills gap has become one of the key challenges facing industrialists and educators alike as they work to ensure that young people emerge into the workplace with the skills that companies require. One of the key initiatives recently brought forward by the Government is the provision of thousands of new degree apprenticeships which will be supported by a multi-million pound development fund.


The degree apprenticeships are set to open the door to careers in everything from nursing to construction and food manufacturing and universities and colleges across England have been awarded a total of ÂŁ4.5 million to develop them.

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Working in partnership with leading employers, the universities and colleges will offer 5,200 new opportunities for apprentices and their employers in preparation for the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April.

Designed by employers, universities and professional bodies, degree apprenticeships deliver high-tech and high-level skills and offer an alternative to a traditional degree course. Combining university study with paid work, degree apprentices


spend part of their time at university and part with their employer. Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships work, that’s why we’ve launched degree apprenticeships that give people a real chance to earn while you learn putting you on the fast track to a top career. “This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design highquality degree apprenticeships that give people a ladder of opportunity, more choice and help shape Britain to become an apprentice nation.” Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: “The development of degree apprenticeships will provide more people with the chance to study in higher education and work at the same time, and in doing so to fulfil their educational and career ambitions.

These include: • from September, a £50 million a year fund for local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement for low-performing maintained schools • a new £140 million ‘Strategic School Improvement Fund’ for academies and maintained schools - aimed at ensuring resources are targeted at the schools most in need of support to drive up standards, use their resources most effectively and deliver more good school places • the Education Endowment Foundation has committed to spend a further £20 million over the next two years to scale up and disseminate evidence-based programmes and approaches Justine Greening said: “I want every child to have access to a good school place and with almost 1.8 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, we are making great strides towards that goal.”

“Employers will be able to use their apprenticeship levy funds to access degree apprenticeships from a range of higher education providers, and the fund will support institutions in preparing for the increased demand that will follow the levy’s introduction from April.”

The new funding will sit alongside a wide range of other initiatives aimed at supporting school improvement including:

At the lower end of the education process, the Government also recently announced new funding to address under-performance in schools and help ensure every child has a good school place.

• £60 million to pilot a series of Opportunity Areas across the country, working in partnership with local organisations to look at ways of improving the life chances of young people

Less than a week after figures showed the number of good or outstanding places had risen by 420,000 in twelve months, Education Secretary Justine Greening reiterated her determination to continue the trend by making funds available to the school system.

• the £41 million maths mastery programme which will see the expansion of high-quality maths teaching across the primary school system to increase the number of children mastering the basics of numeracy

• the £13 million regional academy growth fund which supports successful academy trusts to grow and to improve standards in underperforming schools • the teaching and leadership innovation fund worth £75 million over three years focused on supporting teachers and school leaders in challenging areas Such initiatives are important to bridge the skills gap given that the UK has the biggest skills gaps between young people who are not in education, employment or training and those in work. They had the widest literacy gap out of 22 countries included in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analysis in 2015. They also had the biggest gap in problemsolving skills, says the study. OECD researchers looked at 2012 and 2013 data for 22 developed countries, including England and Northern Ireland. The UK-based group had the largest differences between the literacy and problem-solving skills of those who were not in education, employment or training (Neet) aged 16 to 29 and their employed peers, the researchers found. Overall, there was a 12.6% gap in literacy, double the OECD average of 6.5%. In Japan, the difference was 0.3%, in Korea 0.4% and in Norway, which had the biggest gap after the UK, it was 11.2%, followed by the Slovak Republic where it was 10.5%. The country with the next biggest gap was the Netherlands, where the difference was 8.6%, followed by Norway with a gap of 7.4%. In Korea, the difference in problem-solving skills was just 1.2%.

This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high-quality degree apprenticeships

Celebrating the role of apprentices The tenth annual National Apprenticeship Week will take place between March 6-10 and provide an opportunity to celebrate apprenticeships across all industries and all levels. Employers and apprentices from across England will come together to demonstrate the many benefits that apprenticeships can bring. The week will also aim to encourage more employers to take on apprentices and individuals to choose an apprenticeship as a ladder of opportunity to a great career. Toolkits have been created, to help employers, apprentices, MPs, schools, colleges and training providers to support the week. Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate the many benefits of apprenticeships. “Year-on-year I am overwhelmed by how many organisations get behind the week and show their support with the huge amount of events and activities that take place across the country. I have no doubt that this, our tenth Anniversary, will be our biggest and best week yet.” National Apprenticeship Week 2017 is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and you can find out more at

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017


Helping build a workforce for the future IPS International offer high quality apprenticeships and training courses across the south-east of England, helping employers to build a competitive workforce for the future. The company delivers Apprentice training solutions in Engineering, Business Skills, Health and Social Care, IT, Construction and Motor Vehicle, that can be tailored to meet the needs of the business and support apprentices in developing their careers. An apprentice recruitment service is offered by IPS that helps companies find an apprentice that suits the needs of their workplace. This will involve IPS’s recruitment team working with a company to develop their vacancy description, actively promoting the role and assessing initial applications to help the company find a suitable candidate.

IPS can also employ the apprentice on your behalf, reducing the personnel and administration workload. Apprentices can be enrolled throughout the year, giving businesses flexibility when recruiting an apprentice. Training is delivered both off-the-job and in the workplace to match companies’ own circumstances. For some specialist programmes, training is also delivered at IPS’s own training centres. To find out more about IPS and the apprenticeships the company offers, please visit

High quality Apprenticeships for business from SEAC SEAC is an innovative apprenticeship management company facilitating high quality Apprenticeships for businesses. We eliminate the risk and hassle of direct employment by you– taking care of the details from initial advice through to the successful placement. We have developed a comprehensive service that can be tailored to meet your specific business’ needs. That service incorporates: • Consultation –helping you decide on the role of an apprentice(s) • Screening and interviewing of applicants • Shortlisting of the most fitting applicants • Arranging access to governmentfunded training • Introduction to a quality assured training provider • Direct employment of and responsibility for the apprentice including Pay Rolling, Health & Safety, Safeguarding, support with Performance Management, dealing with HR matters • Dedicated Account Management providing support to you as our “Host Company” for the duration of the placement

• Providing a safety net- you can decide not to continue with the apprenticeship should circumstances change or the apprentice does not meet your expectations Here’s what Geoforte - one of our valued Host Companies say about us: “We wanted to take on someone who could be trained in and offer assistance with all aspects of the business and we also wanted to provide a young person with a great opportunity to enter the world of work and allow them to gain experience and knowledge. SEAC communicated with us throughout the whole process. Our Account Manager kept us updated and put forward some great candidates. We have valued the helpful and friendly staff at SEAC and also the speed and smoothness of the service they provided.”

T 0844 879 3239

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017


Safety – Security – Compliance Are you covered? In an ever uncertain and changing world Safety, Security & Compliance are becoming some of the highest priorities for any business.

This does not just apply to the world of commerce and industry but is equally as important within the education sector, in fact even more so when factors such as protection against radicalisation and safeguarding of pupils and staff are brought into account. To address these issues three key aspects should be considered: People - who work, visit or attend your premises Location - the physical site or premises Activities - the work or activities carried out

People • Do you know who is onsite ? • Do you know who is working, off sick, on holiday or out on business? • Do you know who your visitors or contractors are? If needed do they have up to date DBS checks and the relevant pre-requisites in place (e.g. site inductions, permit to

work, risk assessments and method statements etc) • Are there any people you need to keep away from your premises? • In the event of a fire or emergency do you know exactly who is on site and have a quick and accurate method for mustering them?

Location • Is your site secure? • Do you have the best possible emergency evacuation plans and systems in place? • Are your assets secure?

Activities • Are you sure that the people working on your site are suitably inducted, have the necessary prerequisites and are competent in the activities that they carry out at your site – e.g. CSCS, IPAF etc? • Are your staff turning up late or leaving early? • How efficiently are your employees and contractors working?

With recent events around the world we are all aware of how fragile things can be, but let’s not forget the good things in life which we all want to protect for ourselves, our families, colleagues and friends. It’s not all doom and gloom of course and by introducing and using the appropriate systems and services matched with proper training and the willingness of personnel to be actively involved and aware, risk levels can be significantly reduced For an organisation where people work, visit or study, the management and board also have a legal duty of care to ensure that people are safe at their premises – apart from the physical security and the systems used to control access it is very important to ensure that any work activities being carried out, whether by your own staff or by external contractors, that compliance for Health & Safety is in place. This is not just dealing with trip hazards but extends to virtually any other activity, especially high risk ones such as Work At Height, being not just working on your roof but the use of ladders, in which a significant number of injuries and fatalities occur every year. The more serious of these can result in corporate culpability and even corporate manslaughter claims being made against both the organisation and the management personally. The systems and processes used by the organisation in order to maintain compliance and reduce risk are looked at very carefully in these situations.

If you can demonstrate that you took all reasonable precautions and that you have systems and processes in place then this will help you greatly while also provide peace of mind at the same time. There are many products and services available on the market today to help organisations address these issues, whether it be Access Control, CCTV, Time & Attendance, Workforce Management, Visitor & Contractor Management, Fire and Emergency Muster systems, Health & Safety inductions and safe systems of work and so on. Ideally though these should work hand in hand with each other in order to provide a complete solution for your safety, security and compliance needs – the collection of these systems are becoming known as “Onsite Management Systems” (O.M.S) Look at your existing systems and processes – maybe it’s now the time to introduce an Onsite Management System?

Rob Clifford Technical Sales Director Tel: 0800 468 1900 Email:

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



The “WTO option” for Brexit is far from straightforward From the Economist Becoming an independent member of the WTO could be a difficult process The two sides of the Brexit debate do not agree on much, but they agree on this: if Britain fails to reach a trade deal with the EU it will have to revert to the “WTO option”. This involves trading only under rules set by the World Trade Organisation. The Leave camp is happy with this idea; Remainers less so. But the awkward truth is that the WTO option is not much of a fallback. Becoming an independent WTO member will be tortuous. It is puzzling that Brexiteers, whose campaign was summed up as “Vote Leave, take back control”, seem happy with the WTO option. The WTO is truly global, with only a handful of countries outside it (zealous as they are about sovereignty, Brexiteers do not want to join the ranks of Turkmenistan and Nauru). But forsaking one unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels for another housed in a leafy district of Geneva seems perverse. WTO members are at the mercy of its “dispute-settlement” regime, which allows other countries to enforce penalties. Inconsistency has its upside. Membership of the WTO appears to be good for trade. Most economists believe Britain’s overall trade will suffer if Britain leaves the single

market. But Brexiteers argue that, out of the EU’s clutches, Britain will be the WTO’s star pupil, striking trade deals across world. China’s explosive export growth after joining in 2001 testifies to its potency. However, there is a snag. Britain is already a member of the WTO, but operates through the EU. To become a fully independent member, Britain needs to have its own “schedules”, WTO-speak for the lists of tariffs and quotas that it would apply to other countries’ products. Alan Winters, of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, says that, in theory, it would not be too hard for Britain to acquire its own schedules. Any change would require the acquiescence of other members. But, using a “rectification” procedure, the government would simply cut “EU” at the top of the page and paste in “UK” instead. Bigger changes—say, raising tariffs on certain goods—might require a more ambitious “modification” and more thorough negotiations. The most simple course, then, would seem to be for Britain to keep its schedules as they are under the EU, including the “common external tariff”, applied uniformly by EU members to imports from third countries. The government has recently hinted as

much. This avoids diplomatic wrangling. But simply to readopt EUapproved commitments hardly looks like “taking back control”. It would also lead to other problems. WTO trade agreements assume that the EU as it currently stands is a coherent economic bloc. Trade in goods between the 28 member states is pretty free. Multinationals, which need to move components back and forth frequently between different member states, have set up supply chains accordingly.

Brexit complicates this arrangement. If Britain kept the common external tariff in place, then it might also apply to a company moving components between the EU and Britain. Such a firm could incur tariff charges each time a border is crossed. A WTO member might kick up a fuss if, say, one of its car companies with production facilities in both Britain and the EU suddenly found it more expensive to assemble a model. For more on this article

With changes afoot in global trade, you may find this glossary of key terms becoming more useful in the near future A Certificate of Origin (CO) is an important international trade document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country. COs also constitute a declaration by the exporter. A Trade Tariff in simplest terms, is a tax. It adds to the cost of imported goods and is one of several trade policies that a country can enact. The levying of tariffs is often highly politicized. The possibility of increased competition from imported goods can threaten domestic industries. Carnets: An ATA Carnet is an international customs document issued by Chambers of Commerce. It allows the temporary importation of goods for display, demonstration or other

purposes (for example, sales demonstration equipment and samples) free of customs duties and taxes for up to one year Incoterms: The meanings of trade terms vary from country to country. To avoid confusion, standard terms have been developed by the ICC to make the terms of sale clear and precise. They are used nearly universally in letters of credit, international contracts and other documents. Letter of credit: An agreement by which a buyer arranges with their bank for the seller to be paid, provided the seller can demonstrate that they have shipped the goods and obtained all the documents required by the letter of credit. A fairly reliable method of payment.

EFTA (European Free Trade Association): An association of countries that have formed an economic trading union. It has trading links with the EU. Movement certificate: Required where goods are being exported from the EU or EFTA to a country covered by EU/EFTA trade agreements. These certificates ensure preferential tariff treatment. WTO (World Trade Organisation): Organisation established by the world's major trading countries to administer trade agreements and act as a forum for trade negotiations Whatever your export or import paperwork requirements contact your Chamber for advice.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS


Digitising the tax system - what you should know

• Voluntary pay as you go

Businesses will be able to opt into a pay as you go system for the collective payment of taxes. It has been stated that quarterly tax payments will not be made mandatory during this Parliament, but with discussions of an early General Election given the current political environment, this may come sooner that expected.

Who will Making Tax Digital apply to? In the March 2015 Budget the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced the end of the personal tax return as we know it with the proposal that by 2020 HMRC will have moved to a fully digital tax system. This has developed into Making Tax Digital (MTD).This digital revolution is a major development in the tax system that will affect most businesses and taxpayers in the years ahead, and will in many cases require a major upheaval in the way accounting records are kept. There have been some very recent developments in this area since mid January 2017 so read on to find out more..

What is HMRC proposing?

The vision for MTD is to have a digitalised tax system that is more effective, efficient and easier for taxpayers. • Digital records

Businesses will be required to maintain their records on apps or software that is compatible with HMRC’s interfaces. • Quarterly reporting and the year end declaration

While it was widely publicised that the government was looking to scrap the annual tax return, it now appears that it has simply been replaced – with four quarterly ‘updates’ and one final year end declaration.

At this stage, the MTD proposals only apply to sole traders and partnerships the consultation doesn’t address limited companies or their directors, which will be covered in a separate consultation at a later date.

HMRC is also proposing that MTD would only apply after £10,000 annual income or turnover, so a sole trader with one small business that makes sales under £10,000 a year would be exempt from MTD. This is very much at discussion stage and there will be pressure to raise this threshold (as noted below).

When will Making Tax Digital start?

A recent report issued by the Treasury Committee has called for the implementation of MTD to be pushed back “until at least 2019/20, possibly later”. The report also suggests that the threshold for reporting through MTD should be raised from the current proposed £10,000 to match the VAT threshold of £83,000.

The final decision on the timetable will be down to the Treasury, but the government will be under pressure to try to keep to the overall principle to digitise as many government services as possible.

How will Making Tax Digital work?

Contrary to popular belief, MTD will not require businesses to file four tax returns every year. Instead, businesses will send summary data to HMRC about their business each quarter, or more often if the business prefers.

Businesses will need to send this information from online accounting software - HMRC has confirmed that they will not be providing their own bookkeeping /accounting software and that the use of “digital record keeping software that links to and updates business’s digital accounts with HMRC” will be mandatory, except for taxpayers who are exempt from MTD.

Each business will have a proposed nine months after the year end to file an “End of Year declaration”, submitting final figures.

The move to Cloud Accounting In order to ensure that your accounts are correct, it makes sense that your accountant has access to your accounts prior to submission. This can be easily and effectively achieved using Cloud software. When looking for a Cloud accounting package for your business to ensure you are ready for MTD, you need to ensure that three criteria are met: • The package should be user friendly and straight forward to operate

• Your chosen cloud accounting package needs to be compatible with HMRC • It is important that the package provides the ability to accurately report on the period required

What do you need to do?

MHA Macintyre Hudson will be holding a number of workshops and seminars across Kent, explaining how to get prepared for Making Tax Digital and the benefits of Cloud Accounting.

If you would like to attend, please email to register your interest and we will let you know dates and locations when available.

Your local offices: Canterbury:

01227 464 991


01622 754 033


01303 252 207

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


The Economy & Us

Brexit, Trump – so what? Some of us feel we are on the cusp of major change, but have struggled to discern its key dimensions. What is driving it – and where will it take us? In predicting the Brexit outcome somebody wrote that if people feel stuck no better off than 5-10 years ago, with children unlikely ever to catch up, why wouldn’t they grab at change? Trump-land’s the same. That’s what is new. The brute fact is (never mind why for now): male median incomes have flatlined across the developed world since the 1970s. Promised a consumer paradise, most people feel worse off, with no bettering in prospect – and, since June, the cat is out of the bag. In Trump-land, Britain and elsewhere people feel let down for decades by those in power. Angry, resentful, they are fertile ground for chancers’ promises and all too apt to vote for demagogues. No wonder Les Misérables has triumphed, after being ‘dissed’ by London’s right-wing press in 1985. There are two questions now. What can we predict about the likely course of events? And how can we best prepare for whatever events unfold? The “Just About Managing” (JAMs) is a clever turn of phrase for Theresa May to choose, since everybody can identify with it. The crunch for this latest Tory régime will be: How fairly do the fruits/burdens of global capitalism get shared? The post-WWII social contract – ‘be good, work hard, and life will continually improve – is no longer plausible. What will motivate people, going forward?’ Motivation theory helps here. Compressing Maslow’s five-level need hierarchy to three, Aldefer names Existence/ Relatedness/ Growth as the ladder we all climb up. But this ladder runs both ways. If our expressive Growth is frustrated, we seek Relatedness – and if that’s frustrated we succumb to raw self-interest. So Hobbes described the English civil war: “no letters [Growth], no society [Relatedness], and which is worst of all, the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, 1651).

What I am saying is that, with Mrs May, we need to succeed in establishing a much fairer society / economy for everybody, or we can expect some very ugly (anti)social behaviour. Remember how the Tottenham riots spread in 2011? We in Britain need to solve this. So, how to prepare? We need a wide-ranging ‘what if?’ business model spreadsheet that goes beyond the usual five profit factors, and enables you also to explore alternative narratives expressively, flexibly and radically (aka ‘re-engineering’). We need alertness to spot technical, demographic and cultural issues and trends. For example, do you believe the US new authorities will favour you as a British supplier – or look to copy and substitute your wares? And we need a fair and fact-based mutual understanding between stakeholders, as a just and effective basis for dousing any flames of resentment fanned by populists.

Nick Rowell

So much for plan A. If things get ugly, what’s your plan B?

Director of Policy Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Direct line: 01622 753568 Email:

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Announcing the winners of development awards KIMS Hospital receives prestigious national health and wellbeing award KIMS Hospital, Maidstone is the first hospital in Kent to receive an “Excellence Award” for the importance it places on the health and wellbeing of their staff. The accolade, is part of a national initiative funded by Public Health England and driven locally by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council, to improve the health and wellbeing of employees. In only ten months, KIMS Hospital achieved Excellence across all nine assessed areas, having received the first level award, Commitment. As the leading independent hospital in Kent, employing more than 250 people, KIMS Hospital is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of their people and create a great place to work. By nurturing its people and environment, teams feel better engaged and more productive in their day to day roles. Ros Daitshell, Director of Human Resources, KIMS Hospital said: “We are delighted to accept the Excellence Award from The Workplace Wellbeing Charter and The Kent Healthy Business Awards. We have worked hard to build on the foundation of the Commitment Award we received earlier this year to ensure our teams’ health and wellbeing is improved.” Paul Kirrage, Workplace Health Officer, Maidstone Borough Council, said: “It has been a fantastic achievement for KIMS Hospital to have been awarded Excellence in all nine themes. This is proof that KIMS Hospital is a great place to work, with a challenging and nurturing environment where they can excel.”


The winners of the 2016 Kent Design and Development Awards have been revealed, with The Wing at Capel-le-Ferne named Project of the Year. Twenty-three developments were shortlisted for the eight categories, with the overall Project of the Year voted for from among the category winners on the night. Taking home the top prize, The Wing at Capel-le-Ferne was designed by Godden Allen Lawn in Folkestone. Owned by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, key consultants included Woodley Coles of Sandwich and CroftonM&E/structural engineers of Hadlow. The Wing also won the Commercial, Industrial and Retail category, sponsored by Clague Architects. Sponsored by Kent County Council, DHA Planning and PR and marketing agency Maxim, the awards showcase the many excellent construction projects taking place across the county and held every two years. In the new category of Conservation, sponsored by the Rochester Bridge Trust, the work of Baynes and Mitchell Architects saw Command of the Oceans at Chatham Historic Dockyard victorious. North Vat, a house near Dungeness, took the top prize in the Environmental Performance category, sponsored by Scape Procure. The property was designed by Rodic Davidson Architects, the main contractor was EcoLibrium Solutions of Folkestone. In the Infrastructure and Renewables category sponsored by CTP Consulting Engineers, the cut and cover tunnel at Hermitage Quarry, Barming, by Gallagher Ltd of Aylesford won. A key consultant on this project was Kirk Saunders of Orpington.

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Public Buildings, sponsored by Kent Construction Focus Group, was split into two categories. The Yarrow in Broadstairs won the Education title, while Fairfield in Dartford took Community. Owned by East Kent College, The Yarrow was a regeneration project designed by Tonbridge’s Richard Hopkinson Architects. Fairfield, owned by Dartford Borough Council, was designed by AFLS+P Architects. Also split in two was Residential. Sponsored by bdb design, the Minor site category was won by Nautical Mews in Margate, while there were two winners from among the Major sites: Farrow Court in Ashford and Wallis Fields in Maidstone. Nautical Mews is Kent County Councilowned and was designed by Clague LLP. Key consultants included SC Green Ltd

of Dover and Jenner (Contractors) Ltd of Folkestone. For the Major winners, Farrow Court was designed by PRP, with Pellings LLP of Bromley acting as key consultants. The Golding Homesowned Wallis Fields was designed by PCKO Architects, with Orpington’s CalfordSeadon LLP acting as key consultant. Alex Hicken of DHA Planning, sponsors of the Project of the Year award, commented: “The Wing is a stand-out development among a shortlist of excellent projects. All of the finalists have demonstrated a high standard of design and quality in their work and it has been a pleasure to find out more about them.” Each of the category winners were presented with a unique glass trophy sculpted by Annie Ross and mounted on a base of Kentish Ragstone from nearby Hermitage Quarry, provided by Gallagher Group. These trophies were sponsored by Quinn Estates. Andrew Metcalf of Maxim, who was master of ceremonies for the evening, said: “Some very interesting projects have been highlighted by this year’s awards and all the finalists should be proud of the contribution they have made to the Kent landscape.” Further sponsorship of the Kent Design and Development Awards was provided by Penenden Heath Developments.


Kent’s visitor economy drives jobs and growth as visitor numbers soar to 60 million a year Kent’s visitor economy has topped £3.6billion for the first time ever, after welcoming a record 60 million visitors in 2015. Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent has revealed that 60.6 million visitors came to The Garden of England last year, and the county remains the third most visited destination outside of London for foreign visitors. Across the county, visitor numbers in Kent continue to rise compared to 2013, with the highest volume of day trips, overnight trips, and holidays ever. Tourism jobs increased by 5.9% to 71,920, and the overall value of Kent’s visitor economy rose 5% to hit £3.6billion. Chief executive of Visit Kent, Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE said: “Kent’s

reputation as a great short break destination continues to grow, and we are proud to remain one of the UK’s most popular destinations. “2015 was undoubtedly a challenging year for the industry, with poor weather and the impact of Operation Stack during the summer. But these new figures show a rise in visitor numbers, jobs, and in the value of our industry, indicating that a lot of hard work has paid off. “We put this picture of consistent growth down to two things – billions of investment by the public and private sector in hotels, attractions, footpaths,

What are your marketing success metrics? In the age we live in there should no longer be ‘gut feel’ decisions being made about marketing. Your strategy should feel strong and robust and you should be able to demonstrate why you are running the campaigns and activity that you are running. Marketing still needs to be creative, but it has to have an element of data led decisions. To do this before every single campaign you need to ask yourself or your agency – what are my success metrics and what will success look like? If you do not set this out clearly before starting a campaign you have no clear way of judging the results, especially if the campaign does not offer a direct ROI that is easily visible. So what might your success metrics be? Well the obvious one is ROI – so if you sell online – this is easy, you just need decent ecommerce tracking setup. For the rest of us, this is less easy but can still be done – ensuring all enquiries online and over the phone/in person are recorded with a source and tracked through to sale. Where this isn’t

possible you need to consider what the point of your campaign is to ascertain what success will look like. For example, if you are investing in a creative content campaign you may be doing this for brand awareness where traffic, social interactions such as likes, shares, retweets etc. would be important. It is also important to note with creative content that links are important to Google, so if you can generate high quality links to your content – then this is definitely a success! The important take-away here though is that none of this can be considered after the campaign, it needs to be agreed and set in stone with all key stakeholders beforehand as part of your planning stage. That way you can truly measure the success and take learnings that will help you with future campaigns. Becky Simms MD Reflect Digital

ferries and more, to ensure that Kent’s visitor offer is world class. “Secondly, an unceasing commitment of both the public and private sector to work together on a single vision and strategy for tourism, led by Visit Kent.” But she warned: “This is not time to be complacent. We must continue to invest in this successful strategy if Kent is to stay on top. The public sector in particular faces hard choices about resources, and the autumn statement painted a difficult picture for the years ahead.” Thanet saw one of the highest increases in visitor numbers and spend. The district saw 16.8% more day trips to the area and £293million was spent in the area as a result of tourism, an increase of 19.4% on 2013. Canterbury had the highest number of trips in the county (7.2million) and overseas trips shot up 6%.

The Orchards East Malling, surrounded by 200 hectares of orchards, is a purpose-built event venue in Kent

Other district highlights included a 6% increase in attraction spend in Ashford, a rise in the overall value of tourism in Sevenoaks, while Tonbridge and Malling saw a large increase in the number of staying visitors. There was a leap in the number of overnight visits from international visitors for Dover (12%) and Tunbridge Wells (7%), while Shepway had a 7% rise in overnight visits from domestic visitors. Visits also increased in Gravesham and Swale, and Medway witnessed a 5% increase in jobs supported by tourism. Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development Mark Dance said: “I’m very happy to see that the visitor economy is flourishing in Kent and these figures show that our investment in supporting businesses across the sector over the last decade has worked.”

Situated in a perfect location to escape the hustle and bustle of the office environment, allowing delegates to be more focused and meetings more productive. • • • • • • • •

Competitive rates you can afford Versatile rooms for 2 – 200 AV Equipment included in rates FREE Wi-Fi Dedicated events team On-Site Catering FREE parking for 200 cars Team Building Activities


Telephone: 01732 523781

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2017 Celebrate business excellence by participating in the business awards Is your business doing well? Are you proud of what you have achieved so far? Then celebrate your success with your staff and customers by entering the Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2017. By participating in these awards you may also be eligible to be put forward to the British Chambers of Commerce regional and national awards.

To enter simply visit choose your category and apply. The winner of the Chamber Awards will be announced at a Gala Dinner to be held at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge on 30 March 2017.


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017


Ask the Expert Q

Could outsourcing be a solution for European Exporters in today’s uncertain economic environment?

Paul Bragan Turner Director BP-Europe Tel: 07539 774115

It could be, especially if uncertainty is causing inertia when otherwise you might forge ahead. Nobody in business needs to be reminded that the commercial relationships you establish are paramount to the success or otherwise of a business venture. Heaven knows, this is tricky enough in a market that you know, dealing with people you understand (or think you do …), anticipating pitfalls, exploiting opportunities. Transfer this scenario into a market that doesn’t quite behave as you thought it might (for good or bad), trying to second-guess what a non-native English speaker really means, working out whether your chosen partner really does have similar ambitions as you for your product or service. At worst, you will spend disproportionate time, money and resource trying to make sense of it all – at best, hold on tight for the ride, it could get a bit bumpy. Add in the current economic uncertainty and noone could be blamed for keeping the money in the bank and looking to fight

another day. Why build in or add to fixed costs only to have to scale back further down the line? – cautious, but entirely understandable. Among the many difficulties in exporting at the operational phase, two stand out: 1) poor choice of partner despite apparent synergies at the outset, and 2) inability to adequately manage changing ambitions largely due to language and cultural barriers. A lot of my work has been spent not in taking clients’ products directly into partner portfolios (square pegs into round holes), but in suggesting what needs to be done to ensure a good match. This quite frequently consists in minor adjustments and tweaks of presentation to ensure compatibility. Market studies and feasibility are traditional areas of outsourcing, often recognised as specialist services – but not so the implementation phase. After all, nobody knows your business better than you do. But what if matching the perfect product to another market could be carried through into better partner / distributor selection, better relationship management, continuous

realignment of ambition and suitability? – and, of course, better credit management. This is achievable by elevating this operational phase to the same specialist status as the market study. By using the specialist services of an experienced international business executive with the requisite linguistic and intercultural skills, you might be inclined to enter where once you feared to tread or to add ingredient x to an otherwise “adequate” function. Can this guarantee success? No. Could this offer a significantly improved chance of success? Almost certainly. And all without the need to commit to fixed resources in a fluid and uncertain trading environment as Brexit looms. Rest assured, if things look like changing for the worse, albeit for reasons out of one’s control, we will inform you before you need to tell us – our reputation depends on it. And of course, export is just one side of the story – improved deals for importers is also well within our remit. But that is another story.

Contact us today

for a free no-obligation discussion on your possible export and import resource needs Tel: 0115 777 3775

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



International interest in appointment Carlo Martins’ arrival at Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club as its new Restaurant and Bar Manager made headlines back in his home country of Madeira.

Fundraising for Defibrillators in Schools Two hundred and seventy children die in the UK per year after suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest at school. This is a terrifying statistic and is something that often gets overlooked. Currently it isn’t a requirement for schools / workplaces to have a defibrillator. However statistics prove that when a defibrillator is used quickly after a person goes into cardiac arrest the chances of a successful outcome is greatly increased. Yes defibrillators cannot be used alone but when combined with CPR the survival rate increases by 75% or more! For every minute defibrillation is delayed the survival rate decreases by 7%. Oakwood First Aid Ltd is currently helping schools in Kent to raise funds to buy their own defibrillators by teaching fundraising first aid courses using their 17 years’ experience. All Oakwood First Aid Ltd ask is for schools to charge what they think will attract most people to attend the course. The more people that attend the course = more money raised towards defibrillators for schools. Oakwood are also asking businesses to help part fund a defibrillator by way of a donation. This will allow businesses to be matched with a school which in turn will help to save a life if the worst happens. The number of cardiac arrests involving children is catastrophic. Oakwood are not saying that having a defibrillator would have saved them all but it would have increased the chances of survival. If one life was saved then it would be worth the effort! For more information please visit:


The regional daily newspaper, JM, announced his new role on the front cover and then devoted a whole page inside celebrating the fact the hotel in Bearsted was recruiting Madeiran talent. The 36-year-old is now on a mission to strengthen links between Tudor Park and Kent with the stunning Portuguese island. “We have a lot in common, especially the fact that Kent is known as the Garden of England and Madeira is called the Garden of the Atlantic,” he said. “People go to Madeira to play golf and stay in lovely hotels, so I would like to see Madeirans come here to Tudor Park to enjoy the hotel and golf, and then explore the beautiful countryside of Kent.” Carlo started as a kitchen porter at that age of 16, gradually working his way up the ladder before enlisting in the army. His talents for organising food and drink

events reached the ears of the top brass. So, while working for the UN, in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, he was often called away from his peace-keeping duties to organise dinners and lunches for up to 100 people, including two former presidents of Portugal. After five years in the army, he continued his career in the hospitality industry and was a food and beverage manager for Spanish hotel chain Melia International before moving to England. At Tudor Park, he manages a team of 20 and oversees the guest experience in the hotel’s dining areas – its fine dining Conical restaurant and the Mezzanine Bar. Before coming to Tudor Park, Carlo was also, in his spare time, the director of security for one of the oldest football clubs in Portugal, Uniao da Madeira, which is in the Portuguese second

Quinn Estates agrees £8,000 sponsorship deal for uk skiing star Kent’s entrepreneur of the year, Quinn Estates MD Mark Quinn, has returned to his sporting roots with a £8,000 sponsorship package for Team GB slalom star Dave Ryding. Mark skied for the national team, going on to race on the international ski race circuit, before switching to pursue a career in ski coaching, becoming the youngest top qualified ski instructor and trainer in Britain. He retired, aged 24, to realise an ambition to set up his own business. Twenty years since building Quinn Estates from scratch into one of the South-East’s most successful property development companies, Mark has decided to give back to the sport that first made his name. Dave Ryding, the self-styled “Rocket of the Piste” from Lancashire, was introduced to the slopes as a child by his ski-mad father, Carl who encouraged him to take lessons at the local dry ski slopes near his home. By the age of eight he was whizzing down the slopes at the French Alps resort of Samoens. It didn’t take long for his talent to get noticed - including selection for the England Ski Team and a place in the England and British Championships. In 2006 he became British Junior Champion. To date he has taken part in two Winter Olympics – in Vancouver and Sochi and has quickly risen through the ranks, cementing his position within Team GB as one of the UK’s top skiers. His world ranking is currently 6th in the world.

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

The £8,000 sponsorship will make a significant contribution to his training costs as the 29-year old completes his conditioning to compete once again at the highest level and retain his place as Britain’s best slalom and giant slalom skier. Mark Quinn said: “I am passionate about this sport, and while it’s been a few years since I skied competitively it is something that I continue to love – I can still spot a winner and for me Dave is just that, representing everything that is great about the sport. “The success of Team GB in the summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio proved the difference investment can bring in helping to bring home the gold medals that did so much to lift everyone’s spirits while the games were on. “For me sponsoring Dave was a nobrainer. He, like many of our sporting heroes, depend on financial backing – and getting that backing can be just as competitive as being out on the slopes going for a PB, or a place on the podium.” Dave said: "It’s this kind of generosity that makes a sports person sleep easy at night and wake up ready and motivated to work hard.”

division and sponsored by Cristiano Ronaldo. Eventually, as he settles into Kent life, Carlo hopes to use his football connections to form links between his home team and Maidstone United.

A new outlook

Following a long and successful career, spanning almost 30 years in international commerce, James Bargeron has expanded his business from purely doing executive coaching to form JNB Consultancy, a boutique consultancy that now incorporates leadership and performance training and coaching for businesses, teams and organisations in the South East and Kent. James’ started his career in shipping in the early 1980’s in a London broking firm before setting up a small niche brokerage firm with two others, at the age of 22, negotiating contracts for the transportation of oil on tankers across the globe with some of the world’s leading oil companies and traders. His experience of leading professional teams for 25 plus years led him to want to offer something that he says was sadly missing from his corporate days; effective leadership training, mindset, coaching and mentoring. He said: ‘What I do is help to understand what leadership is and help people develop their mindset, developing leaders rather than merely bosses, something that was often missing in my corporate days. “Often, we were just trained by fear and simply learnt to do the same and so the cycle continued. Many companies forget about their most important asset…. their people. Developing people is the real route to success.”


Getting Started advisory and support services to a wide range of businesses and individuals. Q2: What gives your business ‘the x-factor’? The experience gained not only in practice, but also as Finance Director in an SME gives me the competitive advantage. Stacey Foster Fosters Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants

My clients also love that I am not your typical accountant and I am as enthusiastic and passionate about their business as they are.

Start up date: 1 August 2016

Q3: What motivated you to set up the business?

Q1: Tell us a bit about your business? Fosters is a firm of Chartered Accountants based in Sittingbourne, Kent offering accounts, taxation and business

It has always been my intention to start up my own business and after having my Daughter in January 2016 and returning to full time work when she was 3 months old, the lack of flexibility of working for

a Corporate Company gave me the push I needed to take the plunge. And I have never looked back! Q4: What do you like most about working for a start-up? The flexibility; meeting lots of new people; the buzz from winning new clients; and the satisfaction from helping clients. Q5: What has been your greatest business success to date? Achieving my target number of clients 6 months earlier than expected. Q6: What has been your lowest moment? Other than having to function on just a couple of hours sleep a night

when my daughter was poorly, and the odd scary cash flow moment, there hasn’t really been any low moments. Q7: In terms of business achievements, where do you want to be within the next 5 years? I would like to continue to grow my client base, take on some employees and move to new offices. Q8: What would be your top tip to someone thinking of starting up their own business? Go for it! And get some tailored advice from a qualified accountant who can help get your business up and running.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Chamber Events, Seminars & Workshops KCFG Breakfast (Kent Construction Focus Group)

Muesli Mafia Breakfast Networking

7 February 2017 & 7 March 2017 7:30 am - 9:30 am Including full English breakfast KCFG Member : £15.00 + VAT KCFG Non-member : £25.00 + VAT Join us for the Kent Construction Focus Group meeting where future plans and developments in Kent are discussed with businesses involved in the Construction industry. This month RIFT will be advising on potential R&D Tax Credits and refunds in the construction industry. Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, ME17 1RE

Thanet Earth Networking Breakfast

7:30 am - 9:30 am Member :

£24.00 inc VAT

7 February 2017 8:00 am - 10:00 am Including Tea/Coffee & Breakfast Rolls Member : £15.00 + VAT Non-member : £20.00 + VAT Come along to Thanet and join us for a Networking Breakfast and Site Tour of Thanet Earth, technology meets traditional horticultural expertise. There are limited places available so please book now to avoid disappointment. Thanet Earth is home to four vast greenhouses where they grow tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers their crops are

Non-member : £25.80 inc VAT To provide an informal business 2 business networking breakfast in a congenial and relaxed atmosphere where local business people can get together, enjoy mutual fellowship, share their good news, views and discuss topics of mutual interest. Guests are from all types of B2B businesses. Meetings will be held at specially selected venues, on a bi-monthly basis, arriving at 7.30am with a 9.30am finish. A full English breakfast (or Muesli alternative) is provided. 9 February 2017 Ashford International Hotel, Simone Weil Avenue, Sevington Ashford, TN24 8UX 23 February 2017 Royal Wells Hotel, 59 Mount Ephraim, Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent, TN4 8BE 8 March 2017 The Warren Metropolitan Police Club, Croydon Road, Bromley, BR2 7AL 23 March 2017 Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, ME17 1RE


destined for the shelves of some of Britain’s biggest retailers. Each greenhouse is a power station too, generating electricity for the National Grid. They keep plants warm by making use of the waste heat from Combined Heat & Power technology which also provides extra CO2 that the plants need to grow to their potential. Amazing what happens in our wonderful Kent countryside come along and be amazed! Thanet Earth, Barrow Man Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 0AX

Business Coffee Hour Networking Breakfast 10:30 am - 12:00 pm Including Tea / Coffee and breakfast pastries Member : £8.40 inc VAT Non-member : £10.20 inc VAT NEW to Kent Invicta Chamber; an opportunity to put your business in the spotlight to highlight its products/services and how these can help other businesses. You will make new contacts and generate business leads, whilst sharing ideas, and experiences with like-minded business people. 9 February 2017 Campanile Hotel, Crossways Business Park, 1 Clipper Boulevard West, Dartford, DA2 6QN 23 February 2017 Holiday Inn RochesterChatham, Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9SF 9 March 2017 Campanile Hotel, Crossways Business Park, 1 Clipper Boulevard West, Dartford, DA2 6QN

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

30 March 2017 Holiday Inn RochesterChatham, Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9SF

series with Sally Marshall 17 February 2017 & 17 March 2017 8.30am – 10.00am Breakfast provided Member : £14.40 inc VAT Non-member : £19.20 inc VAT Perfect for New & Small Business Owners, Sole Traders and Established Businesses. At Marshall’s Consulting we change sole traders into business owners. We help business owners free up their time, focus on their vision and increase their profits.… Is Your Current Strategy Getting You What You Want From Your Business? Inspirational Growth Strategies: • 7 Steps to a Successful Business • What is Your Strategy To Achieve Your Vision?

• Do You Stand Out From the Crowd? • How Does Networking Work For You? • Why You Need to Know The Numbers in Your Business

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


International Events International Trade - Import Documentation

International Trade Taster Session 7 March 2017 8:30am - 11:00am Member: £24.00 inc VAT Non-member: £30.00 inc VAT If you are new to importing or exporting, or perhaps only just dealing with your first few orders or enquiries you may well be interested to come along to our taster session.

16 February 2017 8:30am - 1:30pm Member: £90.00 inc VAT Non-member: £108.00 inc VAT Those who pass in 6 courses will achieve a nationally recognised Foundation Award in International Trade - One of the Core 10 courses International Trade accredited by the British Chambers of Commerce. - Appointing & Working with Agents Overseas Candidates achieving pass or merit in the 23 March 2017 8:30am - 1:30pm course will receive a certificate. Member: £90.00 inc VAT This course creates and develops competence. Non-member: £108.00 inc VAT It gives a complete description of documentation requirements and creates proficiency on any Understanding the differences between agents and import document. distributors and which is more suitable to products or services. Motivating good performance and monitoring It provides a useful revision opportunity for outputs. Delegates will be able to select, appoint and experienced staff as well as being very useful work with overseas representatives to maximise potential training for those with a basic grounding in the shipping or import /export office. sales in export markets. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Waterbrook Avenue, Ashford, Kent TN24 0LH

Networking Afternoon Tea 22 February 2017 1.30pm – 3.00pm Member : £12.00 inc VAT Non-member : £18.00 inc VAT Join us for a delicious Afternoon Tea with sandwiches, cakes and scones to go with your tea / coffee. This is a fantastic opportunity to put your business in the spotlight to highlight its products/services and how these can help other businesses. You will make new contacts and generate business leads, whilst sharing ideas, and experiences with like-minded business people. Smith's Court Hotel, 21-27 Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, Margate, CT9 2HL

Leaders Workshop 2017 3 March 2017 9.00am – 12.30pm Member : FREE Non-member : £12.00 inc VAT Join us and fellow leaders, managers and business owners at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce this March for a morning of two workshops based on Becoming a Leader of Influence and Top Tips for Managing Your Cashflow. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent, TN24 0LH

Breakfast Networking Special at Rare Breeds Centre 2 March 2017

8.30am – 10.00am

Member : £18.00 inc VAT Non-member : £24.00 inc VAT Canterbury Oast Trust (COT) is a charity supporting people with learning disabilities in Kent and East Sussex. Come along and join us for a delicious breakfast in the heart of the Kent countryside and support this wonderful Charity. Not only will you enjoy a beautiful Spring morning in this inspiring Venue but you will also have an opportunity to experience the Charity’s expert Falconer who will introduce you to some of his “flying team” and share his knowledge of these wonderful birds of prey. You are then welcome to tour the Rare Breeds Centre farm to explore and observe the amazing work that the Charity supports. Rare Breeds Centre, Highlands Farm, Woodchurch, Ashford, TN26 3RJ

KMFG – Coty Site Visit 13 March 2017 9.00am – 12.00pm FREE to attend This event is open to manufacturers only. We would like to invite you to join us for the next KMFG meeting where we will be taking a site visit to Coty Manufacturing Ltd. This event is limited to 16 places, so please book in advance. Tea / Coffee will be available on arrival Coty Manufacturing Ltd, Bradfield Road, Ashford, TN25 4AQ

To book either visit or email or call 01233 503838

After hours club The After Hours Club is a popular and highly successful ‘casual’ networking event. The informal atmosphere and relaxed environment is the ideal place to relax and chat to fellow business people. This event is open to Members and non-members. Come and join us for an evening of networking. 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Free to attend. 7 February 2017 The Conningbrook Hotel, Canterbury Road, Kennington, Ashford, TN24 9QR 7 February 2017 Nucleus Business & Innovation Centre, Brunel Way, Dartford, Kent, DA1 5GA 8 February 2017 Hythe Imperial Hotel & Spa, Princess Parade, Hythe, Kent, CT21 6AE 9 February 2017 The Business Terrace, Maidstone Borough Council, King St, Maidstone, ME15 6JQ 9 February 2017 Metro Bank, Unit 4, Nugent Retail Park, Orpington, Kent, BR5 3RP 15 February 2017 Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3AJ 16 February 2017 Burlington Hotel, 3 - 5 Earls Avenue, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2HR 16 February 2017 Royal Wells Hotel, 59 Mount Ephraim, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BE 23 February 2017 Holiday Inn Coniston Hotel & Restaurant, 70 London Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 1NT 28 February 2017 Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, ME17 1RE 28 February 2017 Battle Sector X, Unit A, Future Court, Rochester, ME2 4EL

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Gatwick’s big boost for local business Gatwick is an important focus for the South East region's economic activity and is a major employment site, generating around 24,000 on-airport jobs and a further 13,000 jobs through related activities in the area. In 2016, Gatwick spent £74.1m in the Gatwick Diamond area, about a third of the airport's total procurement spend. The airport has experienced a period of unprecedented growth since it came into new ownership in 2009 and in the last 12 months has handled over 43 million passengers. Gatwick is currently half way through a £2.5bn capital investment programme, which has helped transform the experience for passengers travelling through the airport. As we continue to thrive we want to see our local communities thrive too, and in September 2016 we were proud to announce the new Gatwick Foundation Fund, established to provide £300,000 in annual grants to local charities and other non-profit organisations. Funds are evenly distributed by the Community

Foundations for Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Gatwick is the UK's second largest airport and the most efficient singlerunway airport in the world. It serves more than 220 destinations in 80 countries and over the last year has secured over 20 new long haul routes. This makes Gatwick Europe's fastest growing airport for long haul growth and takes it into the premier league of airports serving more than 50 long haul destinations. The airport is south of Central London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express, and is part of the Oyster contactless payment network. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.

Gatwick is the UK's second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world serving more than 220 destinations in 80 countries.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



Welcome to new members Aardvark Computer Support & Services Swale 07805 922304 Computer Support for Business, Eductaion & Domestic Market in Kent Acclaim Consulting Ltd Dartford 07939 973004 Business Coaching/ Training/ Development Anthill Global Limited Thanet 07826 925505 Phamaceutical and Healthcare Argentis Financial Management Canterbury 01227 784787 Financial Management for High Net Worth Individuals and Corporate Clients Battle Sector X Ltd Medway 01634 786953 Lazer Tag Area Beachshore Canterbury 01843 310123 Web Design, SEO & 360 Virtual Tours Beauty Academy South East Medway 01795 601346 Beauty Training School Blaklader Workwear Ltd Tonbridge 07900 805727 Designer, Manufacturer & Distributor of Premium Functional Workwear


ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

Chris Browne Builders Swale 01634 267267 Commercial Builder Green Gate Access Systems Maidstone 08456 800269 Solar Security Landsync Ltd Tonbridge 07956 117721 Surveyor- Party Wall & Land Agency Lordene Learning Maidstone 07543 045990 Learning & Development Consultant & Facilitator Malcom Hollis Ashford 01233 226191 Commercial Building Consultant/Surveyor Marshalls Consulting Ashford 07771 714221 Millionaire Mindset Systems Coach, Business Consulting Medway Drum Studio Medway 01634 304399 Drum Lessons, Rhythm Events & Team Building Music@Malling Tonbridge 0345 319 1043 Music Festival and Outreach Programme

Norris Safety Chislehurst 02082 499153 Health, Safety, Fire Safety & Construction Pentascape Ltd Maidstone 0333 456 1024 Internet Design & Technology Polecash Limited Medway 01634 255325 Business Consultant & Insolvency Specialist Rochester Cathederal Trust Medway 01634 810074 Trust Stiles Executive Search Swale 01795 536246 Recruitment Taylor Maintenance & Construction Ltd Gravesham 01474 329187 Property Development, Building Maintenance Vending Services (SE) Ltd Medway 0800 389 4259 Coffee + Vending


Girlings Family Law team is delighted to welcome Senior Associate Solicitor, Gemma Purt Gemma is accredited by the Law Society as a specialist family solicitor and is also a member of Resolution, an organisation of family law professionals committed to helping their clients reach a fair solution quickly and cost effectively. Formerly head of Private Family Law at Fairweathers Solicitors LLP, she brings with her a wealth of

experience and has a reputation for providing clear effective advice and a commitment to achieving fair settlements for her clients, conducting her own advocacy wherever possible. Along with other members of the Girlings’ Family Law team, Gemma is a staunch supporter of Resolution’s ‘No Fault Divorce’ campaign which seeks to put

pressure on the Government to introduce a new system whereby couples can issue divorce proceedings prior to being separated for 2 years without having to blame the other party. Gemma is based in Girlings’ Canterbury office and can be contacted on 01227 768374

Reflect Digital Bolsters SEO Department Reflect Digital, leading Digital marketing agency in Kent, have recently appointed senior search engine optimisation specialist Michael Alexander to bolster their marketing department. Mike has a great background of creating and implementing

successful SEO campaigns to increase leads and sales for businesses in Kent and beyond, helping them to gain visibility in an increasingly competitive online marketplace. He said, “I’m delighted to join Reflect - the team here is

creative, progressive and ambitious with big plans for the future. From speaking with local businesses, the demand for ethical and transparent SEO services has never been so high and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in."

New post for Mark McCabe Ford Williams, Ashford, has announced a new manager with news that Mark Greenwood has joined the Ashford office. Mark started his career in accounting as a trainee in 2003 for a firm based in Folkestone and worked his way up to audit and accounts manager. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) in 2007. In 2014 Mark left practice life to work in industry where he worked

for a local entrepreneur in a new Finance Manager role. After 2 years in industry, however, Mark started to miss working in a practice and jumped at the chance to join McCabe Ford Williams in a managerial role at our Ashford office in Orbital Park. Mark has extensive audit experience with clients in a wide range of business sectors. Mark also has significant

experience in the audit of Charities and group consolidations. During his time in industry Mark gained particular insight into the catering and hospitality industry. He manages a diverse general practice portfolio and advises clients on a range of areas including accounts preparation, bookkeeping, cash flow management and business planning.

February - March 2017 ThinkingBUSINESS



The Last Word Name:

It was a wonderful, eye opening opportunity and very surreal when one of your lunch guests was an ex French president who arrived on the front lawn by helicopter.

Simon Barker

Company: Hand Picked Hotels Job title:

General Manager at Brandshatch Place Hotel & Spa

Simon has been in hospitality since he was 16 and has worked for a number of well-known hotel companies over the past 30 years in London, Surrey and Kent spending 16 of those years serving the communities in Kent in some of the counties most recognised hotels. He served on the board of the Kent Conference Board for 10 years and has won a number of awards including Chamber of Commerce and Keiba awards during his time as a General Manager. Q What was your first job and what was the pay packet? A I worked for a very wealthy American family who owned a Chateau in the Loire region in France as their butler when I was 18. I was paid the princely sum of $100 a week but worked 7 days a week so had plenty of savings when I left.

Q What do you always carry with you to work? A An open mind and a genuine desire to make that day better than the last. As a business leader you cannot have an off day. Your team constantly look to you for motivation and education. You can’t let them down. Q What is the biggest challenge facing your business? A Exceeding guest expectation without a doubt. My industry has always been about guest service and with the constant changing of technology; it is a constant challenge to achieve this. Guests are so quick to point out shortfalls and can now do this on social media whilst waiting at a bar or sat at a restaurant table. I wish more people would take the time to speak to us directly if we have fallen short so that we can make an immediate alteration or amendment to their experience. Telling the world on Tripadvisor that your steak was over/under cooked but not telling us first is frustrating.

Q If you were Prime Minister, what would be your first decision? A I would probably look to review the working benefits structure to review the criteria for payments that are handed out in this country and make it harder for people to claim benefits rather than getting out to work. Great inroads were made over the past few years and there is still a long way to go. The oncoming BREXIT situation will be incredibly interesting to watch to see what developments occur. Q What can you see from your office window? A I have to crick my neck but thankfully green fields and blue skies. Q If you could do another job what would it be? A I would love to have been a teacher. I have recently started to mentor two wonderful students at Longfield Academy for a 15 month commitment to see them through to their GCSE’s. This is the closest I am likely to get to teaching so I’m grabbing the opportunities with both hands. Q As a business person, what are your three main qualities? A Respect for both my teams and my clients. Loyalty to my employers. Dedication to my role.

Q What was your biggest mistake in business? A Thankfully one doesn’t stand out. I’ve never been afraid to make mistakes and I instil that in my teams. Staying comfortable is not healthy for a business or its customers. Q What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? A Learn the meaning of humility. Treat employees and suppliers with equal respect and never forget that you cannot do any of it on your own. Q Who do you most admire in business? A Anyone who started out with a dream and made it a reality. We have some incredibly gifted business leaders in Kent who it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have seen develop over the last 15 years. I have worked with and watched some of our most wellknown business owners move from strength to strength and I know how hard it has been for them to battle recession, personal and political issues to be the people they are today. I hope that they appreciated the times when I ran hotels and held or reduced prices for them so they could make ends meet!

Council invests in Lawyer backs campaign to name and shame Ashford’s future solicitors who benefit from unethical practice

A major new leisure development in Ashford has been given final approval, paving the way for a cinema, hotel and seven restaurants on land at Elwick Place.

Ashford Borough Council will fund construction of the new town centre complex, which marks another step forward in Ashford’s major regeneration project. Planning permission was granted in December 2015. Formal approval for the borough council to fund the development, subject to resolving a number of outstanding matters, was given by councillors in April 2016. An announcement followed at the end of June that the town centre cinema will be operated by Picturehouse, Cineworld’s boutique cinema brand. Some preparatory work is being undertaken on site and further enabling works will take place. Further timescales will be announced in due course.


A Kent lawyer has criticised the Government for failing to announce a ban on cold calling in personal injury claims in the Autumn Statement. Neille Ryan, Partner and Head of Personal Injury at leading law firm Furley Page, is backing a campaign to reform the personal injury sector, including naming and shaming solicitors who accept leads that have been generated through nuisance calls. The campaign is being led by the Ethical Marketing Charter, a body of 70 law firms and claims management companies,

which had strongly urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to implement a blanket ban on unsolicited calls in his Autumn Statement. Neille, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers which is also advocating a ban, says: “The Chancellor unveiled plans to ban pensions cold calling but he failed to make the same

commitment to halting the practice for personal injury claims. “The Government needs to do more to stamp out these unethical practices. If consumers can be protected from cold callers selling pension products, there’s no excuse for not protecting them from the estimated two million personal injury cold calls and texts that they are bombarded with every day.”

MHA MacIntyre Hudson wins Top 50 Audit Team of the Year Award The audit team of top twenty accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson, which has offices in Canterbury, Folkestone and Maidstone, claimed the Top 50 Audit Team of the Year Award at the British Accountancy Awards, warding off stiff competition from three strong rival firms. MHA MacIntyre Hudson was also one of six firms nominated for the Top 50 Tax Team of the Year. Partner Duncan Cochrane-Dyet said: “This is a fantastic accolade for the audit team which was up against some strong

ThinkingBUSINESS February - March 2017

competition. Audit is a lynchpin service for the firm and we pride ourselves on delivering a very high quality, rigorous and consistent approach across all of our offices. “Over recent years the firm has focused

on sector specialisms for audit partners and this has allowed us to gain a deep understanding of the environment that our clients operate in to further enhance our audit delivery and maintain our strong client relationships.”

Thinking Business, February 2017  

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

Thinking Business, February 2017  

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