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Online learning is making it easier for local businesses to upskill their workforce n n n n

What has Covid-19 done to the property market? P16 The Big Interview with Andrew Raby, Thackray Williams Solicitors P18 Economy: Lockdown support for beleaguered businesses P32 International Trade: Opportunities and challenges in Post-Brexit world P36

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Welcome & Contents

Vaccines offer hope for the future

As we move into late winter, the biggest vaccine rollout in British history gives us all hope that we can finally defeat COVID-19. At the moment this looks a long way off, with the country mired in lockdown, non-essential businesses closed and the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19

Contents 4 5 9 11-14 16-17 18 21 23

Chamber News Legal Update Members News Members News Property Focus The Big Interview Members News Members News

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deaths etched on the nation’s consciousness. Financial help for businesses and workers has been extended by the government, with thousands of staff on furlough and company incomes drying up.

While some companies are busy, other are using this downtime to review and refine their business processes, step up their marketing drive and keep in close contact with valued customers.

Brussels (discussed in our feature on international trade), local firms in Kent could face additional financial and administrative barriers that may make non-EU markets a more attractive option for them.

Arguably the most difficult aspect of all of this is the uncertainty; nobody, not even the scientists and most definitely not the politicians, know just how long it will be before it’s safe to start reopening the economy.

Some are taking the opportunity to retrain and upskill staff so they’re in a good position to capitalise when the economy gets going again. Our cover feature in this edition focuses on the skills agenda and highlights the value of having a world-class workforce that can help local firms win work, not just in Kent, but around the UK and overseas.

Kent Invicta Chamber will continue to support local businesses as they navigate this period of ongoing change, offering online information sessions, workshops, panel sessions and networking events with input from top professionals. Together we will get through this.

However, the three vaccines approved for use in the UK offer a route out of this situation, whenever that may be. In the meantime, we must all do our best to remain vigilant and support each other through this.

Thinking globally will become even more important now that the Brexit transition period has ended. Despite the eleventh-hour deal struck with

1828 26-31 Cover Feature – Education – Skills and Training 32-33 Economy 34-35 Members News 36-37 International Trade 38 Members News 39 Ask the Expert

Jo James OBE, Chief Executive, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

3236 40-41 Members News 42-43 Events 45 Person behind the Business 46-47 Business News 48-49 New Members 50 Last Word 50 Movers & Shakers

Editorial and General Enquiries Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Chief Executive: Jo James OBE Tel: 01233 503 838 Fax: 01233 503 687 info@kentinvictachamber.co.uk www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk Media No. 1793 Published February 2021 © Benham Publishing


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

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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. © 2021. 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.

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Chamber News

Demelza volunteers deliver support to families

being cancelled; the trips we did make were more vital than ever for those families who relied on us. Four of our regular practical support volunteers undertook a very, special driving job for one week a month from March-July, taking one of our children to the Royal Marsden daily for symptom control to ensure they were being kept comfortable. Our drivers have also undertaken regular PPE collections from our South East London hospice as well as delivery essential PPE to our Community Hub in East Sussex.

Our Practical Support team worked so hard in the run up to Christmas, undertaking a huge project across the organization to ensure all our children and families were able to have their best Christmas ever. Our ‘Festive Wishes’ project was a huge success for the staff, volunteers and the 260 families who took part. Our volunteers delivered presents to their doorsteps across Kent, East Sussex and South East London and it was so appreciated by all our children and families delivering some much-needed festive cheer. These volunteers have continued to help our families throughout the pandemic, undertaking family transport to hospital appointments

where needed and although this may have slowed down due to non-essential appointments

Our Practical Support team have been key in helping us to deliver our virtual therapy and family support services. From delivering therapy bags for our virtual art

and music therapy sessions to cream teas for our virtual family get togethers; now more than ever our Practical Support volunteers are so important to the care we give our families. During this current national lockdown, we are continuing our support to families, and looking at new ways we are able, to help them and once again they have been delivering therapy bags and cream teas for any newly referred families to our family support team. Whilst our volunteers are currently unable to undertake tasks in people’s homes, they are helping in the hospice where additional support is needed. www.demelza.org.uk

“One of children I work with has the biggest smile and it cheers up my day. The families appreciate what I do which makes it all worth it” Karen, Practical Support volunteer.

Kickstart - addressing youth unemployment The Government launched the Kickstart Scheme in September 2020 in an attempt to tackle the rising unemployment amongst 16-24 year olds, as data suggests that it is our young people’s employment opportunities which will be disproportionately impacted.

had in excess of 700 placements approved from businesses across the County, representing all sizes and sectors. We have employed a Kickstart Account Manager to take this forward to try and maximise the opportunities that this programme can bring for the young people of our County.

So how will Kickstart help? The offer from Government to business offers a win-win for both employers and young people. The Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage to cover the salary of a young person, currently on Universal Credit, for 25 hours a week if employers were to offer a 6 month placement. In addition, the Government will contribute £1,500 towards the set-up costs and wrap around training support that will ensure that the young person is better equipped to apply for a position after the placement, or go on to further training such as an apprenticeship or will prove an asset to their employer and be offered a permanent position.

"To be honest, it has not all been plain sailing. As with so many things over the past 10 months, Government have made announcements without thinking through the detail that sits behind it and Kickstart was no different. That said, I am pleased to say that the Department of Work & Pensions, the Job Centre and the Chamber as the Gateway, have all systems and processes in place to ensure going forward all applications are processed and young people get the opportunities that are open to them."

The Chamber was one of the first organisations to be approved as a Kickstart Gateway and to date have

Who can apply for funding

Any organisation, regardless of size, can apply for funding. The job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs. They must not: • Replace existing or planned vacancies

• Cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment The roles you are applying for must be:

• A minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months •

Paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group

• Should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including: • Support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals

• Support with CV and interview preparations

• Supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork

Jo James OBE, Chief Executive, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their 6-month term. How to apply see link below:



Thinking Business

Futureproof Your Commercial Lease

Legal Update

Commercial Property expert, Amy Husk looks at some of the less obvious points to consider to ensure your lease will provide the future flexibility your business needs.

Aside from provisions such as rent, rent review and the contractual term, it is important not to overlook the following: Repair

A ‘fully repairing and insuring’ (“FRI”) lease means that the tenant will take on all responsibility and costs for repairing and maintaining the property. This could even include putting it into a better state of repair than it is in at the start of the lease. Tenants should consider asking for a schedule of condition documenting the state of repair at the start of the lease and limiting the repair obligation to keeping the property in no worse state than as evidenced in the schedule of condition. This will keep the business’s costs down and ensure it is not making significant investment in a property it may only intend to occupy in the relatively short term. If the business is taking on an existing lease from another tenant (i.e. taking a lease assignment) it is crucial to consider repairs and have a survey carried out to check whether the business could be taking over any historic repair liability from the outgoing tenant. Break clause

The ability to restructure property requirements as business needs change is key. If a break clause is agreed, the tenant should consider whether this is a ‘tenant only’ or ‘mutual’ break. A mutual break means that the landlord will also have the ability to end the lease, which could mean uncertainty for the business.

Consider whether the break has conditions attached and whether those could be easily met. For example, it is advisable to avoid a condition requiring the tenant to comply with all obligations in the lease for the break to be valid as this could open the door to arguments about whether the repair obligation has been fully complied with. Ultimately a landlord could prevent the break going ahead on that basis. Alienation

This means the ability to transfer (also known as ‘assign’) or underlet the lease. Should there be a need for the business to restructure its property interests at a time when there is no break on the horizon, transferring the lease to another business or sub-letting is an option. Usually the lease will include a requirement to obtain the landlord’s consent. It is important to ensure that the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent and that the conditions on which the landlord is to provide consent are not too onerous. If the property lends itself well to sub-division or is already sub-divided, it may be worth considering whether the lease could allow for ‘permitted parts’ of the property to be sub-let without the need for the landlord’s consent. This would allow for the business to expand and contract as required. For further advice on commercial leases or any other commercial property issue, please contact Amy.

Amy Husk

Senior Associate Solicitor, Commercial Property


01233 664711

amyhusk@girlings.com Thinking Business



Individual Members can include a Junior under the age of 18 in their membership without any additional charges

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Making Tax Digital – MTD: The not-so-distant future - and not just for VAT Making Tax Digital for VAT came into effect on 1st April 2019 for businesses whose turnover exceeded the VAT threshold. This changed the way in which their VAT returns were submitted to HMRC. From 1st April 2022, just over a year away, this legislation will capture all VAT registered business. What is Making Tax Digital for VAT?

Making Tax Digital for VAT currently requires VAT registered businesses with taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold to keep records in digital form and file their VAT Returns using software. The difference under Making Tax Digital is that the software which businesses use must be capable of keeping and maintaining the records specified in the regulations, preparing their VAT Returns using the information maintained in those digital records and communicating with HMRC digitally through their Application Programming Interface (API) platform. All VAT registered business must start keeping their records this way and submitting using software compatible with HMRC’s API software for any VAT period starting on or after 1st April 2022. Making Tax Digital for Income Tax

Making Tax Digital will soon start to affect how the self-employed and landlords record and submit their tax returns. The current legislation for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax states that for any period starting on or after 6th April 2023, all non-incorporated businesses and landlords with turnover greater than £10,000 per annum must also keep their records digitally and submit quarterly information to HMRC. A fifth submission

will then be prepared, taking into consideration all year-end accounting adjustments made, which will be due to be submitted by 31st January, replacing the current Self-Assessment Tax Return. No longer will clients be able to hand over a bag of paperwork for the year for their accountant to prepare a set of accounts and a tax return from. Instead, this will have to be done, and reported on, on a more regular basis to remain compliant with the new legislation.

Their reasoning behind the existence of a tax gap include: The tax gap arises for a number of reasons. Some taxpayers make simple errors in calculating the tax that they owe, despite their best efforts, while others don’t take enough care when they submit their returns. The majority of these errors can therefore be avoided through the use of digital software which will have background scripts to highlight potential errors and bring them to the attention of the taxpayer.

Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax

At the end of each tax return submission, be it VAT, Self-Assessment, Corporation Tax etc, the person authorising the return is confirming that the return is truthful and accurate to the best of their knowledge. If a software has highlighted erroneous transactions that have been ignored, the authorisor is knowingly submitting an incorrect return and is leaving themselves open to penalties and potential prosecution. Now, this is not intended to scare taxpayers into thinking that any error will lead to punishment; HMRC do understand that genuine errors do occur – the digitalisation is making it harder for these genuine mistakes to occur and go into the UK tax system.

Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax is currently under consultation between businesses and HMRC. It is due to come into effect from 2026, however no further information has been given in this regard. Consultations and the chance to comment close 5th March 2021. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/ consultations/making-tax-digital-for-corporation-tax. Why are HMRC going digital?

HMRC are modernising the UK tax system. This is in order to make it easier for businesses (Ltd Co, Sole-Traders and anyone else in between) to get their tax affairs right and report on a regular basis. HMRC see the digitalisation of tax reporting as a method by which the tax gap can be closed. Taken from HMRC’s Measuring Tax Gaps 2020 Edition: Tax Gap Estimates for 2018 to 2019 (https://assets.publishing.service. gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/907122/Measuring_tax_ gaps_2020_edition.pdf) the tax gap is estimated to be £31bn, which is 4.7% of tax liabilities.

If you would like any more information on the above then please contact me by email: james.aylwin@adamsandmoore.co.uk Thinking Business


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Our process begins with a free no obligation quotation and security consultation to understand your need’s and find the best way to protect and secure your business. Using this, we create a tailored security solution that matches your situation and your budget. With us by your side, your business will be fully protected in our safe hands.

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Use your Chamber membership for marketing Izzy PR can help you to reach Chamber members with: • Member News: 250-word story in Thinking Business (£100) • Member Blog: Published on the Chamber website (£100) • Directory listing: Chamber website – to make sure you can be found (£45) • Member 2 Member offer: An advert for the Chamber website to share an exclusive member offer (£95)


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Public Relations: What it is and how it helps your business Quite simply, PR is about reputation - building it, maintaining it, strengthening it and protecting it. Done well, it helps to build credibility, trust and value, so that your target clients choose you over your competitors. It’s about managing how you come across so that all your communication consistently gives a good impression and you get talked about – in the right way!

Marketing is promotion, advertising and selling. It’s how products and services are presented to the end user and could be via a website, social media, e-marketing, display advertising, SEO, or Google Ads, for example.

Sarah Hawes, from Izzy PR has worked across journalism and PR for the last 20 years, with the Kent Messenger Group, BBC, Kent Police, Essex Police, the NHS and a variety of corporate clients.

What’s the outcome?

She now works with clients in the private, public, corporate and charity sectors. Understanding the basics of PR can be hugely beneficial for businesses big and small. How is PR different to marketing?

PR is about influencing how others view you and your business whether via email, blogs, press coverage or social media – basically, any outlet where they might read, see, or hear about you. It’s building an impression of you and your business.

Tilney helps investors navigate through uncertain times Tilney offers financial planning advice and provides investment management services. When it comes to planning, we strongly believe that cashflow modelling provides the foundation of advice and creates a road map for clients to achieve their financial

Marketing should address, among other issues: What’s the customer’s problem? How can you solve it? Why choose you?

What do you offer?

What’s the future benefit? Why do PR?

Businesses usually start off with the basics – a website and social media channels, plus other branding materials. These are all necessary but building a brand is about reputation. For small businesses, the focus is usually on the owner - what they say and how they come across. It’s also about getting the essentials right. In the early days, customer service and satisfaction are key to repeat sales, recommendations and a good name.

• A voice of authority • A good partner • Valued

• Recommended What is good PR?

There are two sides to PR – personal and business: Personal – this is all about being positive and consistent when it comes to who you are, what you say, your personality, values, how you do business, how you treat people, how you collaborate, help, support, and interact with relevant groups and communities. Business – this is what the company represents. If you stick to your values, employ good business practices, look after your staff, suppliers, stakeholders and customers, and run your business as people expect, your reputation will build. If you would like help with managing your PR, get in touch at hello@izzypr.co.uk or find out more about our services www.izzypr.co.uk

However, it’s never too late to start thinking about PR. It can help you and your company become: • Trusted

• Credible

• Sought-out objectives. Modelling helps clients understand how best to utilise their assets, the order in which to use those assets, when they may run out of money (if ever), and the level of investment risk they may need or wish to take. Since the 2008 banking crisis, investors may be forgiven for thinking that markets only go up but then 2020 reminded us that, just like in 2008, financial shocks can come from unforeseeable events. Tilney’s investment management style focuses on risk-based returns with an emphasis on downside protection. This proved invaluable

during the extreme volatility due to COVID-19. We remained pro-active during the pandemic, communicating what was happening in markets, how we were reacting to it, understanding how it was impacting our clients and providing help and reassurance throughout. We offer a personal service to individuals, businesses, trusts and charities across the south east. We also run regular webinars and seminars to educate people on financial awareness to improve confidence and understanding. To find out more visit https://www.tilney.co.uk/

Members News

The willwriting business that gives you more Sara Sheppard has been in private practice for more than 30 years. She runs SLS Wills and More, an East Kent-based willwriting business that provides estate planning services to clients throughout England and Wales. Ensuring that her clients get the best possible service is something that Sara is passionate about. Not only does she look after her clients and their families, she is also a mentor for numerous estate planning professionals. Sara goes one step further than mentoring, though; she also sits on the Society of Will Writer’s professional standards board, helping to raise standards across the profession. With this amount of experience and professionalism it’s easy to see why Sara is trusted by countless professional advisers, local businesses, charities and families to help them put their estate planning in place. With professional standards in mind, she fails to see how some practitioners charge absurd prices for these services and is campaigning to ensure that they are provided in an affordable manner. Sara was highly commended in the Will Writing Firm of the Year category at the 2020 British Wills and Probate Awards, beating national firms such as the Co-op. She encourages anyone needing a will to research their chosen provider thoroughly and she herself operates a transparent and open approach to the businesses she supports and the clients she works with. For more information visit https://www.slswillsandmore.co.uk/

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Members News

Brachers shortlisted for four awards at South East Dealmakers awards the team at Brachers has been nominated for Corporate Law Firm of the Year, Deal of the Year (transaction value £10million+) and Private Equity/ Venture Capital Deal of the Year. Corporate Partner Claire Williams has also been nominated in the Corporate Lawyer of the Year category.

The Corporate and Commercial team at South East law firm Brachers has been nominated in four categories at the South East Dealmakers Awards, recognising a successful year of deal-making despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Dealmakers awards are one of the most soughtafter accolades in the corporate finance advisory community, celebrating the most successful and influential deals across the legal, accountancy, banking, and funding communities. This year

The Corporate Law Firm of the Year category highlights the law firm which has acted on the most inspiring deals to acquire, sell, or raise finance for businesses. This year Brachers adopted innovative and more agile ways of working in response to the pandemic, enabling the firm to progress a number of high value and high-profile deals despite the challenging economic climate. This included acting as legal advisors on the sale of long-standing client Systems Technology to DMC Cantoec, for which the team has been nominated in the Deal of the Year £10m+ category and advising on the £15 million investment in

anti-plastic pollution disruptor, Polymateria Limited, which earned them their nomination in the Private Equity/ Venture Capital Deal of the Year category.

Partner Claire Williams’ shortlisting in the Corporate Lawyer of the Year category reflects her involvement in a number of high profile deals including the purchase of The Roberto Group Limited by Colour Wovens Limited, rescuing it from administration, the sale of Chertsey Road Limited to Character IB Limited and the management buyout of international Fin-Tech business Clear Treasury Group Limited. Claire specialises in mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts, restructures, and joint ventures, as well as banking and finance. Joanna Worby, Managing Partner, said: “Our Corporate and Commercial team has worked extremely hard this year to continue supporting clients to

Broad Signs stays positive in 2021 With the normal business activity being reduced somewhat in 2020 (with enforced temporary closure), Broad Signs chose wisely to utilise their newfound spare time in revisiting their business goals and mapping out a plan to further increase their business share of the Developer and Construction sector in 2021. Founder Sean Broad commented, “As we have already been active in this sector for a few years we know we are in a strong position to offer an excellent service to developers as well as being

cost effective. Combining our signage knowledge and the developer’s requirements we constantly come up with ways to maximise impact whist staying within budget”.

Many businesses will have had time to think about how to remain competitive and attract new customers and Broad Signs have spent time in developing a brand new digital interactive product brochure with transparent clear pricing for all to see. Even in some cases reducing prices from 2020. Hoping this will enable more prospective clients to see in advance the competitive, honest, and fixed pricing structure available.

David Dadswell, Business Development Manager said, “We have worked extremely hard over the last couple of years building our reputable name in this sector by exhibiting at the Kent Construction Expo, Joining Kent Construction Focus Group, Networking etc and of course working hard with developers such as Millwood Homes and Fernham homes. To show our commitment to growth we recently also invested in new larger industrial premises and have expanded our team with a new Digital Marketing Manager, Benjamin Davis."

Has lockdown left you feeling lonely and frustrated?

Missing the commute to work or the chit-chat in the breakroom? At TimeQuest we know these little things help to make up the foundations of a great team, but with the current climate we know it’s just not possible to simply pitch an idea over coffee, show the new kid how to solve a common problem or just indulge in a bit of common or garden gossip. If this resonates with you, then we have a solution.

Working in partnership with Dr Kimberley Humphrey at AptMind, we have combined the latest social and psychological research with the thrill of escape rooms to develop a series of unique online experiences that remote teams can play and enjoy together. We are so excited about this new partnership as it aims to help teams continue to develop valuable interpersonal and team skills from the comfort and safety of their sofas.

Just think about it for a moment. What would your team rather do? A 60-minute seminar on communication and problem

achieve their strategic ambitions; even in the face of adversity the team has continued to ensure clients remain at the heart of everything they do. I am incredibly pleased that their efforts have been recognised in the shortlists for these prestigious awards.”

James Bullock, Partner and Head of Corporate, said: “To be nominated for four awards this year is testament to the hard work, resilience and strength of our team in what has been one of the most challenging years for business. We completely adapted our way of working to ensure we were able to maintain our service standards and we are delighted this has paid off in enabling us to successfully complete a number of strategically and financially important deals for the clients we work with.” Winners of the South East Dealmakers Awards will be announced at an event at the Copthorne Hotel on 17 June 2021

To receive a copy of the new brochure email sales@broadsigns.co.uk or visit the new website www.broadsigns.co.uk

solving or embark on a 60-minute mission to rescue the world from our arch nemesis? The end goal is the same, but the journey is so much more fun. Launching from 1st February, it can be played by a few or a few thousand. It's online, flexible and can be played anywhere in the world. You can run it, or we can do it all for you. Information from www.timequest.net/teams call 01622 872627 or email teams@timequest.net

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Members News

Update your operator’s licence!

Commercial vehicle compliance specialist, Gary Wood of Plumwood, highlights how not having an up-to-date operator’s licence could have a serious impact on your business… If you use any vehicles over 3.5 tonnes (bigger than a transit) you will need to have an operator’s licence. The licence will probably have been granted many years ago and to a particular “entity status”. This is basically the business that the licence was granted to. In the case of a limited company, you only need to inform the traffic commissioner of any changes in directors. Partnerships, however, are more complex and too often we see scenarios such as the following example.

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

Tel: 01622 698047

E-mail enquiries@whitehead-monckton.co.uk www.whitehead-monckton.co.uk www.whitehead-monckton.co.uk

Whitehead Monckton Limited (no. 08366029), registered in England & Wales. Registered office 5 Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under no. 608279. TB 05/19

12 Thinking Business

A mum, dad and eldest son had run the family haulage business in a partnership for many years. They had several loyal customers and a successful business. Sadly, the father died but the son was able, with his mother, to carry on trading.

What neither of them appreciated was that this was a “new” partnership and this new entity didn’t have an operator’s licence. When the operator’s licence was due for renewal, whilst completing the form the son noticed his father was still listed as a partner and advised the traffic commissioner to remove him from the licence. That short note then triggered a very unwelcome and unexpected letter from the traffic commissioner. They were forced to park up their vehicles and apply for a new licence in the entity of the new partnership – a process that could take up to 12 weeks, during which time someone else may be servicing their customers. This would be potentially catastrophic to the business. A company restructure, falling out of partners or change of status from sole trader to limited company will also lead to the licence being cancelled. One of the advantages of working with an external transport consultant is that he/she would immediately see the danger and apply for a new licence before the old one is revoked. For more information visit www.operatorcompliancehelp.co.uk

Be aware of new sprinkler system rules

can be hidden and blend into the aesthetics of the room.”

If you’re involved with a development of flats in 2021, you may know that you need to incorporate a sprinkler system within the build if it’s over 11m.

• Modern systems don’t always need a huge water supply as they can be plumbed into the mains, drawing water only if and when they are activated

The change was made in May as part of the government’s reform on fire safety, bringing the building height down from 30m to 11m. Many smaller developers will now need to know more about sprinkler systems or find someone else with the expertise. RAD Fire Sprinklers has been installing them for more than 15 years – and can advise on all you need to know if the changes affect building requirements that were previously outside of the height rules. RAD director Paul Hummerston said: “With our background in construction and sprinkler systems, we are able to advise on the most suitable system for the requirements and installation. It’s important for us to work with other trades and design consultants to ensure that the working parts

Sprinkler system myths:

• Sprinkler systems are heatactivated, not activated by smoke particles • Sprinkler systems usually interface with a domestic smoke alarm or fire panel. The system triggers the alarm system, not the other way round • If a sprinkler head is triggered in one location, the other heads around the property are not necessarily activated • Sprinkler heads are discreet and blend into a ceiling without ruining the aesthetics of a room • Sprinkler heads can be fitted to cover the exit routes as required by building control for open plan design For more information visit radfiresprinklers.com

Funding secured for creative laboratory in Ashford Work on building the Jasmin Vardimon Creative Laboratory and 29 light industrial units on a Kent County Council-owned site in Javelin Way, is scheduled get under way in January. This follows the appointment of Ramsgate-based construction company and Chamber Member, WW Martin to carry out the work. Due to open in spring 2022, The Creative Laboratory will be a major new arts facility for the county, providing a long-term base for internationally renowned dance company Jasmin Vardimon, which has been a key part of the county’s cultural infrastructure since 2012.

The growth of the company, and in particular the rapid development of its acclaimed education and training programme, means it is in urgent need of more room in which to operate. The new building will include space for the creation of the company’s touring productions, as well as for rehearsals, training, educational and community classes, plus incubator spaces for small creative businesses. The new facility has been made possible by £3.1 million of capital investment from Arts Council England, alongside £750,000 from Ashford Borough Council (ABC) from the Business Rates Retention Pilot and £578,724 secured by Kent

Homefrom-home website set to boost Kent investment New Chamber member KH Homes has developed a website that enables easier online booking of short-term stay, serviced accommodation.

involved in the many infrastructure projects that are currently taking place in the county.

With its excellent transport links, Kent is home to many multinational companies. When colleagues from the parent companies come to visit, many are looking for the comfort and convenience of a home-fromhome experience rather than the confines of staying in a hotel.

Business development has prompted the company to invest heavily in its property management system (PMS) which is at the heart of the new website. The PMS enables potential guests to see KH Homes’ accommodations in a calendar format, allowing them to see open rooms and guest bookings at a single glance.

With a constantly expanding portfolio of properties, KH Homes provides a wide choice of homefrom-home accommodation for business travellers coming to Kent, key workers and companies

By using this system, KH Homes is now less reliant on third party companies to facilitate bookings. This has meant greater operational control for the company and a quicker, more cost-efficient service for clients.

Members News County Council (KCC) from the Getting Building Fund administered by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP). Mike Hill, KCC’s cabinet member for community and regulatory services, said: “I am delighted that the grant from the Getting Building Fund will enable this exciting project to come to fruition. Kent County Council has been a long-time supporter of the Jasmin Vardimon Company, whose work is recognised nationally and internationally.” Ian Ross, executive director for Jasmin Vardimon, said: “We are delighted with this news and it is testament to the continued support for the arts and culture in Ashford and Kent. “Our new home will provide not only a high-quality creative base for our own work but also enable us to expand our connection with the local community and support emerging talent.”

Quantity surveying can help manage costs and timescales Do you watch home improvement programmes on the TV and wince at the escalating budgets and over-running timescales? Why didn’t they do their sums correctly or make sure everything was ordered? The answer: because they didn’t have a quantity surveyor (QS)! Keeping track of everything within a project is a big job, and any new build, refurbishment or extension could really benefit from a QS at the start to plan and manage the commercial aspects. Even the most organised, progressive projects can suffer from a loss of control over timescales and figures, but a QS can step in to minimise any further losses and/or reduce any future risks. Emma Hoad, from Hawk Surveying in Herne Bay, shares two key areas where a QS is vital: Financial and commercial: A QS will make sure that every cost is accounted for and your budget is not over-spent. They will compare quotes and scopes of work to identify the best contractor(s) for the project at the best value.

Pius Akinmejiwa, KH Homes CEO and co-founder, said: “We are very excited about the website launch. We are confident that our clients will have an even better experience. We have worked closely with our partners to provide for an exceptional, worry-free home-fromhome experience for those business travellers and contractors who come to Kent so that they can feel fresh and do their best work. “Whatever happens after January 1, Kent is in prime place to take advantage of the opportunities that will come along.” Take a virtual tour of some of KH Homes’ properties at www.khhomes.co.uk

Missed elements of a build, scope gaps and poorly managed risks are common pitfalls for projects. A QS can also use their skills to help bring finances back on track if unforeseen things do happen or if costs are higher than budgeted. Contractual and legal: Contracts are key – and a QS will ensure your suppliers, contractors and consultants’ contracts are drafted correctly to reflect the agreed scope of services to avoid things being missed and/or charged outside of the budget. A QS will ensure that signed contracts are stuck to, agreements are undertaken and parties understand their responsibilities. They also ensure responsibility for every aspect of the project lies with someone, so that in the case of a dispute or a claim, contracts can be used to reach a resolution, which the QS can manage for you. For more information visit www.hawksurveying.co.uk Thinking Business


Members News

Simple, clear Brachers advises on messaging joint venture deal is the key Having a clear brand message and an effective sales engagement ladder has never been more important, as businesses and charities across the UK have discovered during the pandemic. But with so many consumers switching to e-commerce, cutting through the significant online noise to grab attention can be challenging. This is where the ancient art of storytelling can make the difference by securing fresh interest and increasing sales. New Chamber Member STORY22, co-owned by experienced marketers Sony Whittam and Julie Firth, is a one-stop marketing agency which can help you to overcome this problem by clarifying your brand message. Sonya said: “Many businesses are wasting time and money on websites and marketing materials that simply do not connect with their target audience. They are cluttering up their online shop window with revolving images, a mountain of text and a dozen different buttons for users to choose from before they have even told anyone what problem they solve and what their product or service does. It’s too much for our brains to cope with and our prospects become confused and we lose them.” Julie added: “As certified StoryBrand guides we create simple, clear messaging that speaks to prospective customers in a way that addresses their human needs first. It does away with the ‘cute and clever’ which often ends up just confusing people. Businesses that fail to get these basics right, and spend their time promoting their products and services rather than addressing their customers’ needs directly, are literally throwing money away on their marketing.” Book a free 30-minute strategy call for your business at www.story22.co.uk

14 Thinking Business

Tim Turner

Brachers has advised Kent-based Magnetic Shields Limited (MSL) on all aspects of its joint venture partnership with the University of Nottingham. The joint venture will be bringing a ground-breaking wearable brain scanner to market through a new spin-out company, Cerca Magnetics. As well as allowing people to move freely while being scanned, the new scanner also offers considerably higher sensitivity than current systems, providing an unprecedented window on brain function and giving new hope to people suffering with severe neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, autism and Parkinson’s. Scientists at the University of Nottingham’s Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre have been developing the technology for the past five years. It needs to sit in

a well-controlled magnetic field environment, as magnetic fields from the brain are so small. MSL is a leading specialist in magnetic shielding and has developed magnetically-shielded enclosures into which the scanner can be installed. Under the new partnership, Cerca Magnetics will sell the complete integrated brain imaging system. Brachers corporate partner Alex Cosgrove and senior associate Tim Turner supported MSL in establishing the joint venture and the supporting commercial documentation. David Woolger, CEO of Cerca, said: “We are already working with

Alex Cosgrove some of the world’s best research laboratories to deliver our first generation of the system for deployment in the field. We hope and believe that within three to five years, we can see the technology becoming commonplace in hospitals. “We would like to thank the team at Brachers for their support, hard work and professionalism, which has helped to make this partnership possible.” Alex Cosgrove of Brachers said: “We are delighted to have worked with MSL on the creation of this exciting partnership. We would like to wish Cerca Magnetics the best of luck with bringing this scanner to market and we look forward to seeing the technology in hospitals in the near future.”

For more information visit https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/new-spin-out-company-signals-quantum-leap-for-brain-imaging

Business leaders urged to be fair on redundancy issues An employment specialist from law firm Furley Page has urged business leaders and HR teams to consider the welfare of the individual if they are forced into making redundancies.

Amanda Okill, a senior associate at Furley Page, said: “As Kent’s businesses continue to face up to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, unfortunately it seems likely that some further redundancies will be unavoidable. Whether or not they are forced into making redundancies, employers should do what they can to look after their employees as well as their business. “While there is a correct ‘legal’ way to run a redundancy process, employers should also be aware of their responsibilities to treat employees with respect and courtesy, however difficult the situation.”

Amanda said employers should refer to the following guidance from ACAS when considering whether to make staff redundant:

Do it openly Following consultation requirements is key but early open discussions about potential redundancies is better for everyone. Do it thoroughly Make sure that the people carrying out the redundancy process have been trained in how to handle it properly before any consultation starts. They need to know the legal processes they must follow and everyone involved needs information and guidance so they can pass that information onto the affected employees. Do it genuinely Consultation involves genuinely listening to employee and union views and being open to alternatives they put forward. Feedback should be provided

with any ideas that are rejected to ensure transparency.

Do it fairly Any process, including the selection of staff for redundancy consultation, the application of any selection criteria and the terms of redundancy, must be free of discrimination. Do it with dignity Taking redundancy can be a difficult experience and how an employer approaches it can change the way an employee views both their position and that of the employer. Employers should be empathetic in their conversations and correspondence. For more information visit www.furleypage.co.uk

Making business resolutions for a healthy future New Year is a time when many of us make personal resolutions to become healthier, lose weight and achieve more. It is also a great time for making business resolutions, as a new year presents an opportunity to consider how we can get our companies into better shape. Often, when looking to make improvements, organisations are keen to see rapid results and turn to continuous improvement as the way to help them achieve their desired goals. There are numerous continuous improvement tools that offer potential solutions to a variety of business problems; however, it is vital that they are adopted based on need and with the right mindset to ensure sustainable success. Applying these tools without the correct mindset may result in some initial improvements; however, these are likely to be unsustainable and you may soon find old habits creeping back in and excuses being made as to why things can’t change. Suddenly, you’re back to the beginning of the process, but with added frustration and disappointment along with a disillusioned and cynical team. At this point you may decide to give up and write it off as something that doesn’t work. Continuous improvement strategies that provide sustainable success in the long-term can be achieved when the focus is on 90% behaviour

(mindset) and 10% tools. This is contrary to how most continuous improvement strategies are implemented, so it isn’t surprising to learn that over 80% of businesses who adopt the tools-only approach fail to achieve successful implementation. However, when you apply the tools with the right mindset you can explore your long-term ambitions and introduce robust, positive changes that engage your workforce, create ideal behaviours and build sustainable performance for years to come. Of course, this is easier said than done and it can be a real challenge when we are constantly bombarded with social media posts that promise quick fix solutions. Headlines such as “12 easy steps to becoming a lean business” can be incredibly tempting, as can the messages that tell us how to trim business costs and reduce excess “fat” within our organisations. Sadly however, these offers often end up the same way as the diets and gym memberships so many of us embark upon every January doomed to failure and disappointment and a waste of time and money.

Steve Nicoll director and business excellence coach at The Lean Orange says, “What we are talking about here is building healthy businesses based on long-term strategies of continuous improvement. We must not underestimate the level of commitment, time and hard work it takes to achieve that. Organisations should avoid being drawn in by promises of a silver bullet, as expecting to see the same results without any of the effort is unrealistic. These quick fixes rarely provide satisfactory solutions to business challenges because they fail to get to the root cause, and in fact they can often create more problems than they promise to solve.

responsibility of everyone, not just a very small group of experts working in isolation after attending a one-off event or program.

Whilst many business problems are not unique, individual organisations face challenges that are very specific to them and the good news is that the answers always lie within the organisation and its people. The task is to understand how to reach those answers, and then make the commitment and engage everyone across all levels to solve the challenges as one team. Helping organisations unlock the potential within their own people is the most rewarding aspect of my job. That is when you can see they are on the path to achieving sustainable success with a healthy business.”

We aim to inspire leaders, managers and associates to transform their businesses together through the building of internal capabilities at all levels, leaving them better equipped to sustain improvements and build a healthier organisation for everyone to enjoy.

Making any change can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The Lean Orange has worked with business owners, leaders and entire organisations across multiple sectors, coaching them towards their business improvement goals. Our bespoke coaching is developed with you, for you and your business, and is fully aligned to your organisational strategy so that it can deliver improvements linked to your desired business outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about how we could work together to improve the health of your organisation, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us on 07976 608521, email steve@ theleanorange.com or visit us at www.theleanorange.com

Building internal capability inside an organisation encourages the selfbelief and ability needed to deliver sustainable performance. Business improvement then becomes the


www.theleanorange.com Thinking Business


Property Focus

What has Covid-19 done to the Ashford Property Market? By Richard J C Stafford MRICS

Industrially the market is fairly strong, especially through small to medium sized units with good stock still achieving higher than normal rents. As ever finding a freehold industrial unit, especially one with yard space, is quite difficult and good examples make prime money. The strength of this market is in part probably still due to the pent-up demand that accrued during the latter half of 2019 when decisions on Brexit negotiations and the flavour of government were awaited. When both these issues were decided towards the end of 2019, 2020 was expected to be a bumper year and indeed started off in that vein but was brought to a halt in March 2020 with the first Covid-19 lockdown. However following that uncertainty the last half of 2020 proved to be extremely busy for industrial premises right across the Kent area with Ashford, enjoying its superior accessibility, proving to be very popular. It seems that the players in the industrial property sector are ‘just getting on with it’. From a retail perspective the High Street is still going through a lot of change and arguably the Covid pandemic has only hastened this change with online sales becoming more popular. Despite this however there is still demand for retail outlets across the spectrum and several shops in Ashford High Street are currently in solicitors’ hands awaiting completion and the removal of the current lockdown restrictions. There are some interesting operators in the pipeline. The office market however is in a state of flux. The early thought that ‘the traditional office is dead’ and that ‘working from home’ would become the norm has been short-lived, and the traditional office still has a secure place in the property world. We have been dealing with several sizeable requirements along with the usual smaller scale lettings. The perceived popularity of ‘serviced office’ accommodation has resurfaced with several providers bringing stock to the market to compete with the likes of Regus who are already in town. It remains to be seen how popular these will be once lockdown is over and we return to a new normal. We think there could be a reasonable take-up of the better priced offerings, with flexibility, specification and car parking being the key to success. To conclude, whilst quite clearly the hospitality sector has taken a hammering over the last 12 months and those specific properties have been in little demand, the rest of the property world has ‘kept calm and carried on’ and it is anticipated that with the advent of the various vaccines now being rolled out, confidence will continue to pump in the veins of Ashford’s commercial property market.

Shining a light on ABC Electrical Services There’s a new name when it comes to providing top quality electrical services to businesses in Kent and it’s as easy to remember as ABC…

insurance and health and safety obligations. For landlords, Electrical Installation Condition and Landlord Reports can be provided.

The direct labour organisation working for Ashford Borough Council has rebranded as ABC (A Better Choice for) Electrical Services. Council house tenants will already be familiar with its trusted team as they carry out installations and maintenance on thousands of homes across the district.

Why choose us?

ABC Electrical Services is an approved NICEIC Contractor, providing high-quality electrical services in Ashford and across Kent. The 10-strong team also count private homeowners and many local businesses as customers as they expand their operations, providing advice on planning and installation of the most efficient and cost effective solution from conception right through to completion.

Commercial and industrial expertise Successful commercial projects have included the SK8Side building in Ashford, the set-up of a new tourist information centre in Tenterden, years of carrying out many system upgrades at Ellingham Road Industrial Estate and the refurbishment of Tenterden Museum. It offers a design and installation service for commercial premises whatever their size and needs. It also specialises in providing, installing and maintaining electric vehicle charging points and PV solar panels. Regular testing programmes are offered to ensure compliance with public liability

It’s important that you choose the right electrical services specialist to carry out work at your premises. ABC Electrical Services is determined to provide you with the very best service, whether you are a large developer undertaking a multi-million pound project or a local business looking to upgrade your electrical systems. All work is guaranteed for 12 months and complies fully with the latest electrical safety regulations. All work is undertaken by our own directlyemployed highly-trained staff, while customers have the peace of mind knowing that the organisation is backed by Ashford Borough Council. ABC Electrical Services run a modern fleet of vehicles from its base at Carlton Road Business Park. It offers a free survey and quotation service and its qualified engineers have the experience and technical knowledge to offer help and advice, even in the most challenging situations. One of the things that sets ABC Electrical Services apart is a commitment to providing career opportunities for local youngsters. It has an ongoing pledge to take on three JTL apprentices, and several have already gone on to fully qualify as electricians. One was awarded JTL Apprentice of the Year for the South East and went on to represent ABC Electrical Services at the national final.

For more information about ABC Electrical Services contact manager Paul Brooker email abcelectricalservices@ashford.gov.uk

11 Park Street Ashford Kent TN24 8LR

Tel: 01233 613900 Mob: 07770 827428

www.staffordperkins.co.uk 16 Thinking Business

Kent, the place to buy-to-let

Property Focus

Debbie Pennell Regional Head, Residential Lettings & Property Management London’s rents have been dropping in recent months, no doubt underpinned by Covid-19 restrictions. The flight from the Capital has been facilitated by a change to the previously accepted ‘norm’ of daily commuting to a centrally located office. Many employers and employees responded to a ‘work from home’ call in the first lockdown, which resulted in a surprising outcome. Deloitte research uncovered 55% of workers believe that their colleagues are just as, if not more, productive now than before lockdown. And after lockdown 61% of desk-based workers would prefer to work from

Weighing up the plusses and minuses it seems that employees could be relied on to work at home.

highest share of sales since the runup to the introduction of 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on second homes in 2016. So investors have benefitted from the Chancellor’s Covid SDLT holiday, especially for property up to £500,000.

When renting a property, ‘within walking distance of a London tube station’ may be lower in the search criteria, and quality of location or home office space higher on the list.

Overlay that with the London tenant retreat and it’s easy to see why Kent is popular for buy-to-let investors and that rental returns are rising both due to demand and a lack of stock.

Kent is ideally positioned to benefit as both a rental destination for tenants and perfect to invest in a buy-to-let property.

Of course, what comes around goes around. However, there is still an opportunity to invest in good rental property in Kent.

Data from Hamptons International highlights nationally, landlords drove 15% of sales in November 2020, the

Currently, rental demand is outstripping supply with properties being let in a matter of days.

home more often.* We don’t have statistics on whether they thought they were more productive though!

Caxtons is always looking for landlords with buy-to-let property who are interested both in letting to reliable tenants – and we have good tenants with proven track records who are seeking rental homes. For more information on letting or managing your rental property please email dpennell@caxtons.com

GREEN SHOOTS of new community

Community Cabin will open later this year and from there the Community Management Organisation (CMO) will hold community activities and events. Excellent progress is being made toward the construction of the first primary school at Chilmington Green. The school is on track to be completed by the end of May 2021 and open to pupils from September 2021. Chilmington Green is a new community in the south of Ashford which will see up to 5,750 homes, a district centre and community infrastructure created over the next 25-30 years. This will eventually see over 1,000 jobs created and around £125m spent on local amenities including a secondary school, four primary schools, shops, health facilities, sports and leisure facilities, and large areas of public open space. Works to the A28 have been delayed but are still planned to be delivered when the developer reaches their planning obligation (once 400 homes have been occupied). The funding will then be supplied by the developer to Kent County Council to undertake the works. The Chilmington

Initially, the school will offer places for up to 210 primary aged pupils (4-11 years old), a nursery and a specialist resource for pupils who have an Education Health Care Plan for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The school has sufficient space to offer 420 primary school places in total and will have 14 classrooms, library, nurture room, a large nursery space with a sleep room and offices, kitchen, large hall, multi-use games area and sports field. Chilmington Green is part of the wider South of Ashford Garden Community, which also includes the site areas known as Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green developments. These latter two sites are currently at the planning consideration stage. A strategy setting out how these three major combined developments will come together, has been adopted by the council.


at Elwick Place

Ashford Borough Council has announced that every unit at its multi-million pound Elwick Place cinema, hotel and leisure complex in Ashford town centre is now let. In addition to the Picturehouse cinema and Travelodge hotel which anchors the scheme, the council-owned centre is home to popular food outlet Macknade, which will soon be expanding into a second unit, and a Snap Fitness gym. Contracts have now been signed for the remaining units and more details will soon be announced about the exciting new hospitality and leisure businesses who are preparing to open at the £75m Elwick Place. Visit www.elwickplace.com

Thinking Business


The Big Interview

Going for growth Thackray Williams Solicitors is most definitely a firm on the up.

18 Thinking Business

The Big Interview

"The SME market is currently our sweet spot but we want to build more connections with larger corporates as well. London gives us that opportunity. In London there’s a gap in the market for a full-service legal firm with a really good service ethos. I believe that we can fill that niche" Born out of a merger in 2004, the company has been expanding steadily ever since, negotiating the tricky period following the 2008 financial crash and evolving from a private client law specialist to a multidisciplinary provider of legal services to individuals and businesses. With its headquarters in Bromley, the firm strengthened its presence in Kent with the opening of an office in Sevenoaks two years ago. Heading up the Sevenoaks office is Senior Partner Andrew Raby, who specialises in residential property disputes and is keen to highlight the county’s rich potential. He says: “Sevenoaks is a reasonable-sized town with a lot of businesses. There are more than five thousand limited companies in the area, many of which are growing and employ dozens of staff. “The Sevenoaks office gives us greater reach into Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas. We’re looking to build upon the great links that we’ve forged here already. Many of those contacts have been gained though the South East Property Expo that we set up three years ago. It’s a great networking event that brings together hundreds of buyers, sellers, investors, developers, landlords, suppliers and advisors each year. “Across our offices we’re covering a corridor between Sevenoaks and London that no other law firm has captured. That puts us in a great position.” Thackray Williams has increased staff numbers to around 130 and recently expanded its reach in the City with the opening of an office in London last year. According to Andrew, the move is designed to strengthen the firm’s links between Kent and London and put it in pole position for new work from commercial surveyors, wealth management professionals and banks.

He says: “Having a London office hammers home the message that we have a really strong commercial offering to accompany our private client services. Previously we were seen very much as a private client specialist. “The SME market is currently our sweet spot but we want to build more connections with larger corporates as well. London gives us that opportunity. In London there’s a gap in the market for a full-service legal firm with a really good service ethos. I believe that we can fill that niche. We’re very much a people-oriented, clientcentric business that connects well with our staff and our clients.” That ethos has been very much in evidence through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sevenoaks team has stepped up its drive to support clients and help them through those difficult times, extending its opening hours, producing videos on changes in legislation, setting up a COVID helpline and generally keeping in contact with clients to ensure their interests are being looked after.

Staff, too, have been supported via regular Zoom calls and online socials, including a virtual ghost tour of London. They were also invited to participate in a staff survey which allowed them to voice any concerns and ensure their needs were being met. It’s a policy that has paid off, as Andrew explains. “Here at our Sevenoaks office and indeed throughout the company, our staff and client retention rates are pretty good and we won some new clients because we were visible,” he says. “People who were unhappy with their lawyer heard what we were doing and switched to us instead.” It appears as though Thackray Williams is well primed for future growth. The firm provides a full range of legal services from offices in Sevenoaks, Bromley, West Wickham and London. Its client base is wide-ranging, from private individuals to property developers, manufacturers, banks, builders and retailers, housing associations, professional services firms and charities.

INSIDE STORY: Andrew Raby Favourite food? Fish Favourite tipple? A good pint of bitter Favourite holiday? Denmark Describe your family life? I’m married with three children, a dog and a cat How do you spend your downtime? I enjoy sport, walking and gardening and I play squash and golf regularly (when not in lockdown). I struggle to sit still so am usually doing something

On the commercial side, services range from advice on urgent deals and real estate issues to employment law matters and in addition the litigation team advises both individuals and commercial clients. The private client team works on wills, tax and associated administration as well as family law, residential property, employment issues and dispute resolution. The future indeed looks rosy for Thackray Williams, despite the obvious challenges of Brexit and a tough economic climate that has changed working patterns and attitudes. The key is to be adaptable and agile – two qualities that the firm has in abundance. “People are talking as though commercial property will disappear – that’s not the case,” says Yildiz Betez, Thackray Williams’s head of commercial property. “Companies will still need premises so they can build a good workplace culture and integrate new staff into their workforce. When it comes to retail, the government is looking to be more flexible so that retail premises can be adapted for different uses. Companies will still need bricks and mortar; they will just use these assets in different ways.”

What are your key strengths as a manager? Leading from the front and by example but always willing to give as much time and assistance as is necessary to those who need it And your limitations? I’m told that I can come across as somewhat stern and perhaps even a little intimidating! Best thing about doing business in the borough? The willingness of other businesses to engage in networking and business Famous person you’d most like to spend dinner with? Football legend Kenny Dalglish Most interesting fact about yourself? I’m not a very good golfer but I have managed a hole-in-one – twice!

Thinking Business




I manage staff leave

I manage staff leave & work

Our staff work the same days or hours each week I may use a spreadsheet to manage my staff leave

We have shift/rota based workers

Our staff have the same leave holiday year

Our staff may have different holiday years We may even have staff in different time zones

I need a system to help track who’s working from home

We may offer overtime

We plan staff based on demand




Staff leave management made easy



WhosOff allows you to reduce the time spent on paper chasing leave requests around the office by making important information available to the required staff in your company.

WhosOffice is a dynamic shift planning tool, designed to take the hard work out of your scheduling workload. Our platform is built to empower people, allowing you to increase productivity.





Good energy management can boost sustainability Economic Energy was founded in 1994 by chartered energy engineer John Carden. Based in Gillingham, the company offers many types of energy management and sustainability services. John undertakes the consultancy work, assisted by his graduate trainee Yolanda. He has provided consultancy and compliance services for around 500 organisations including large and small companies and public sector organisations. Recent projects that he has undertaken include surveys on

schools for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, energy and CO2 audits for the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Emissions Scheme (SECR) and energy surveys for the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). These are all government schemes designed to achieve the UK’s Kyoto emissions targets. The last two schemes, SECR and ESOS, are mandatory for non-SMEs but they can be very beneficial for smaller companies too. Indeed, the government recommends that smaller companies should comply with these schemes on a voluntary basis.

Good data capture can accelerate sales pipeline Have you got incomplete or incorrect details, forgotten the conversation, got to wait for the attendee list or got distracted by the 20 other pressing tasks? Or all of the above?

Grapvyn has launched the free-to-use P.A. in Your Pocket app, helping small businesses capture conversations and call-to-actions – and increasing opportunities in the process. Sound familiar? Two or three networking events per day, lots of conversations and notes written down – now it’s time to follow up.

Recognition well deserved

The impact is that opportunities to build connections and relationships, and potentially generate revenue, is lost. When you consider that 85% of people don’t record the conversations they have and 70% forget the conversations they have, it’s easy to see how this impacts business. With a background in operations and business transformation, and an ability to see the friction in the sales engagement process, Sonya Kimpton de Ville of Grapvyn realised the need for P.A. in Your Pocket to help capture opportunities effectively. Griffin Law – the Legal 500 ranked boutique litigation practice based in Kings Hill, Kent – is delighted to announce the appointment of three new directors with effect from 4 January. Former City solicitor and head of litigation, Neil Kelley, commercial litigation specialist and eleven-year veteran at the firm, Mark Edmonds,

Members News The schemes are based on the sound management principles of measurement and assessment. SECR requires companies to report on their energy consumption and emissions (transport and buildings) in their annual reports. This can be expanded with optional elements listed in the guidance to a full-on annual sustainability report.

How a US military cleaner is bringing jobs to Kent

ESOS requires companies to have energy surveys undertaken and recommendations for measures that will reduce energy consumption assessed and reported on.

But these things have been at the heart of Dean Miller’s business for the last six years, because Safe Elimination Services has been working across the world with clients who need decontamination and a high level clean.

John is happy to discuss any energy issues with members. For further information visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/ johnrwcarden/ This simple, free-to-use web app (which requires no downloading) makes it easy to capture new connections and conversations, reminds you to follow up, keeps personal notes to help you build relationships, and ensures people can find you easily across your social media platforms. It also ensures you can find others, makes it easy to be introduced and make introductions, and unlocks your time to focus on value-adding tasks. P.A. in Your Pocket is a complete profile that connects the dots in your sales engagement process, helping you to make the most of your networking and opportunities. Register and use for free at www.grapvyn.app Find out more at www.grapvyn.com

In 2020, cleaning, sanitising and contamination control became much more familiar phrases and actions, affecting us at home, at work and in our leisure time too.

His partnership with US product Decon-7 has seen him booked for work across the film industry working on sets, taking care of actors’ accommodation, and keeping the crew safe from germs and bacteria. In the UK, he’s working closely with kitchens and the hospitality industry. The product has been around for 25 years – originally developed to decontaminate the US military’s war vehicles and equipment in the Gulf War. Previously, they would be scrapped at great expense because of the effects of the biological weapons but the product enabled sanitisation and a return to service. It also allowed rooms to be decontaminated easily before the military entered – which saved many lives. In 2021, Dean is looking to help people made redundant, or who have lost income, to start their own business using the product. He said: “There are so many people who have been affected and I want to help them to get back into work, motivated and regain their confidence, because being unemployed, especially during the awful times we had in 2020, can really knock you. “I’m going to get them set up, train them and then support them as they start to grow their business and become successful again. “It’s tough out there but I’m in a position to help – and I know that in 2021, the need for cleaning and decontamination will still be there.” For further information email info@seservicesltd.co.uk

and the firm’s long-time chief financial and operating officer, Donna Boniface, join the firm’s founder, Donal Blaney, and its non-executive chairman, Professor Andrew MacLeod, on the board. Announcing their appointments as directors, Griffin Law founder, Donal Blaney, said: “Neil, Mark and Donna have long deserved this kind of recognition.

They have shown great leadership in developing Griffin Law into a respected Legal 500 ranked firm. I look forward to working alongside them to grow Griffin Law’s reputation, client base and turnover still further over the coming years”. For further information about Griffin Law, please email gemma@griffin.law Thinking Business


further with HR GO Recruitment


Introducing Julie, our new Regional Manager… Having successfully managed our Ashford branch for the last 5 years, Julie is now taking on a new role as our Regional Manager for South and East Kent. With over 20 years’ recruitment experience under her belt, Julie knows how to best attract and engage with the right candidates for your business.

Whether you’re a small business or a multinational, a charity or a hospital trust, Julie and her team will take the time to understand your needs and deliver a bespoke recruitment strategy. By combining this personal service with the latest technology, Julie provides a firstclass experience for both clients and jobseekers.

Get in touch with Julie today to discuss you permanent, contract or temporary staffing needs.

 Julie.LewisMackay@hrgo.co.uk |  07866 983505 |  hrgo.co.uk

Grow your Recruitment Business Cash flow problems? Poor technology? Time drained by back office issues? If your recruitment business is causing you sleepless nights, we can help. Founded by Betty Parkinson in 1957, HR GO have specialised in Joint Ventures for over 40 years. With our support behind the scenes, you can focus on what you do best - recruiting. Imagine how your business could thrive with:

 Financial security – no upfront costs and a regular income  Back office support – latest IT, payroll and marketing services  Successful industry leaders to guide and support you  Access to lucrative national contracts Sam, Branch Manager      “Partnering with HR GO transformed our business; from overhauling our IT systems to opportunities recruiting for National accounts. Our temp numbers have leapt ten-fold since joining the group.”

Dream big. Get in touch to discover how you can unlock your business’ potential.

www.hrgoplc.co.uk/jointventure | 01233 722400 Part of a global recruitment company with a £100m annual turnover and a nationwide high street branch network, HR GO Recruitment is proud to supply over 8,300 temps daily in the UK.


A New Strategic Recovery Fund For Kent Kent Community Foundation is administering a new Strategic Recovery Fund on behalf of Kent County Council to help organisations across Kent adapt to the post COVID-19 “new normal”

A new Strategic Recovery Fund from Kent County Council and administered through Kent Community Foundation is now open for grants of between £5,000 and £10,000

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said, “We are delighted to be able to distribute this funding to organisations across Kent. The Kent County Council Strategic Recovery Fund will support organisations to plan for a sustainable future by providing funding to precure external expert advice on finance, fundraising, marketing and communication and website development as well as training to upskill existing staff. We know that the charitable sector in Kent needs help to start thinking about how they can survive the long tail of COVID, and this funding has come at exactly the right time. We want to thank KCC for this forward-thinking approach to helping the sector recover.”

About the Strategic Recovery Fund

Grants of between £5K and £10K are available, to purchase one-off support across a range of topics including: • Business planning/operational review and strategy • Income generation review and strategy • Financial review and strategy • Website upgrade/digital skills • Marketing/social media enhancements • Specialist time-limited intervention • Training. Applications from organisations in the Kent County Council district are open until 22 January 2021 To find out more or to apply visit www.kentcf. org.uk/funding/KCC-strategic-recovery-fund

Flying high – the Kent company with eyes everywhere They say big brother is always watching – and even in confined spaces, hidden areas, or highly sensitive locations, with the right equipment, permission and expertise, nothing is impossible.

Iraq, interacting with UN agencies and NGOs daily. Based at the Historic Dockyard, Paragon hold all the permissions required to operate in GPS-denied environments and airspace including congested areas. Flying high above their competitors’ offerings, they have the capability to perform inspections of critical infrastructure, public utilities, shipping, port facilities, maritime assets, and environments that present a potentially unacceptable risk level to a workforce.

And that’s exactly what Paragon Drones has. It is run by former Royal Engineers Scott and Neal, both with backgrounds serving

in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and high-risk search units. After full service with the military, they both then worked in post-ISIS

Members News

Their clients include civil engineers for inspections, highways services, water companies, insurance companies and the construction sector. Scott said: “For businesses in Kent, we can offer some really

great alternatives to traditional resources using this relatively new technology for their construction projects and schemes, marketing, or more dangerous investigations. “We can just turn up and fly, which is what we did for a client late last year. They needed visual access and fast, so we just turned up, set up, flew the drone, and got what they needed. “They didn’t have to wait for scaffolding or a cherry picker – time and money were saved, plus we can work within the pandemic restrictions very easily – we don’t need to be near anybody else on site. “We offer businesses the chance to reduce risk, time and cost – often key factors in delivering projects on time and in budget.” For further information visit www.paragondrones.co.uk

Thinking Business



FIND YOUR FUTURE WORKFORCE WITH Gain early access to the brightest talent entering your market and help shape your future workforce by offering an industry placement to a T Level student learning in one of EKC Group’s family of Colleges. DESIGNED BY EMPLOYERS FOR EMPLOYERS Following feedback from UK businesses, the new two-year T Level qualification for 16 to 19-year-olds, aims to address the nation’s skills shortages. Designed in collaboration with more than 220 employers, each T Level is equivalent to three A Levels and helps young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills needed to thrive in the workplace. BOOSTING YOUR BUSINESS T Levels offer businesses the unique opportunity to engage with the best and brightest of young local talent before they enter the job market. This can prove to be an effective way of addressing any recruitment or skills gaps in your business, saving you both time and money. Equipped with the specialist knowledge and training needed to succeed in your industry, students completing a T Level placement with you can help to re-energise your business, supercharging productivity and offering fresh insight into new markets, methods and ideas.

SHAPING THEIR FUTURE Placements are an excellent way for young people to explore potential career routes, industries and specialisms. As an employer, you can develop their skills and understanding of your industry, as well as highlight the career opportunities available locally, helping to retain top talent in the area and boosting the region’s economy. MORE INFORMATION To learn more about T Levels and how your business can benefit from offering a work placement, visit ekcgroup.ac.uk or email enquiries@ekcgroup.ac.uk


EKC DigitalLearn Heralds a New Dawn for Affordable, Online Learning in Kent

EKC DigitalLearn is smashing barriers to learning with its new 100 per cent online provision. The newly minted business unit is part of EKC Group, so is able to leverage the Group’s extensive experience in vocational and technical education, whilst offering the digital benefits of a flexible and affordable approach, fit for a new era.

26 Thinking Business

Cover Feature

"As an online learning provider, we hope to remove some of the barriers that exist for businesses and individuals who wish to develop their skills and benefit from high-quality education and training" This fresh alternative to traditional, college-based education comes as businesses look to the future of work and jobs. A report by PwC in 2020 titled, ‘Upskilling; Building Confidence in an Uncertain World’, found some 74 per cent of CEOs globally were concerned about the availability of key skills. This mirrors findings by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, which has placed skills development at the heart of its strategy to enhance opportunities and the region’s economy by 2023. Meanwhile, PwC found that CEOs of organisation with programmes to upskill their staff reported higher workforce productivity, greater business growth, and improved talent acquisition and retention compared to businesses without active upskilling initiatives. In addition, some 60 per cent of organisations with upskilling agendas saw stronger corporate culture and employee engagement as a result. With many businesses in East Kent reporting difficulties recruiting and retaining skilled workers, EKC Group hopes that the creation of EKC DigitalLearn can help to address skill shortages locally, and supercharge the levelling up agenda for both individuals and the broader local economy. Principal of EKC DigitalLearn, Daniel Lewsey, commented: “We are proud to launch EKC DigitalLearn, and mark the start of a new era for accessible and affordable education in East Kent.

“As an online learning provider, we hope to remove some of the barriers that exist for businesses and individuals who wish to develop their skills and benefit from high-quality education and training. “The flexible nature of many of our courses, means that individuals can study at times that suit them, be that at work or at home, and our dedicated team are available to support individuals throughout their journey with us. “We have launched with a fantastic range of courses, and we are looking forward to working closely with businesses and our local communities to further develop our online provision moving forward. “I encourage anyone who is looking to develop their staff, or their own skills, to get in touch and learn more about the opportunities available through EKC DigitalLearn.”

Grow your own talent

Developing existing staff is a fantastic way to improve employee satisfaction, promote innovation and mitigate the skills crisis. EKC DigitalLearn offers over 44 accredited short courses in subjects including, Customer Service, Warehousing and Storage, Organisation

Management, Health and Care, and Digital Skills to name a few. With funding available, alongside online delivery, EKC DigitalLearn is making it easier than ever for local businesses to upskill their workforce. To learn more about how EKC DigitalLearn can help take your business to the next level through accredited short courses, email enquiries.digitallearn@ekcgroup.ac.uk.

Take control of your future

In addition to the accredited short courses, EKC DigitalLearn has developed a range of flagship digital-first vocational pathways. These pathways draw upon EKC Group’s decades of experience providing high-quality education and training in East Kent, to offer an innovative new way to study technical and vocational qualifications from home. Courses range from Level 1 to Level 5, and include subjects such as Web Application Development, ideal for those interested in retraining or developing their skills for entry into a highly coveted digital technology role; and Business and Enterprise, a comprehensive introduction to starting and running a business for those interested in honing their entrepreneurial skills.

For more information about EKC DigitalLearn and to explore the full range of courses and the funding available, visit ekcgroup.ac.uk/colleges/ekc-digital-learn

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Government launches skills initiative A new campaign has been launched to boost the nation’s skills and job prospects.

An Hour to Skill is a governmentled initiative that encourages people to set aside one hour a week for online learning by taking a free course from The Skills Toolkit, an online portal offering a range of different courses. Topics covered range from practical maths, computer essentials and personal growth and wellbeing to professional development, business and finance, digital design, marketing, computer science and coding. Course providers include The Open University, Google, Amazon and FutureLearn.

"I’m delighted to launch An Hour to Skill and thank all of the great organisations that have joined forces to help boost the nation’s skills and job prospects at such an important time for our economy."

The idea is that by setting aside one hour a week for online learning, people can acquire skills that employers are looking for, boost their job prospects and keep their mind active. At a time when most people are spending more time indoors due to COVID-19, these courses can also play an important role in supporting the mental wellbeing of the country. Launched by the Department for Education (DfE), the initiative

is designed to improve the life prospects of people by helping them to get on in their careers. One in three people have used online learning to help them get a better job, and a report published by think-tank Demos showed that, on average, online learning can boost annual pay by £3,640. Many people have turned to web-based courses to brush up on their technical skills or

acquire softer skills and attributes that employers are looking for, such as leadership, problemsolving, project management and teamworking skills. Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, said: “I’m delighted to launch An Hour to Skill and thank all of the great organisations that have joined forces to help boost the nation’s skills and job prospects at such an important time for our economy. Progressing your learning doesn’t have to be a mammoth task – spending just one hour a week on a free online course can make a real difference to your earning potential. We’re confident that learning through The Skills Toolkit can give you the skills employers are looking for.”

For more information visit https://theskillstoolkit.campaign.gov.uk/#ldn

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Cover Feature

Adults to gain new skills on 400 free courses Tens of thousands of adults will be able to benefit from almost 400 free courses this year, in the first major development in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by the government in September. The fully-funded courses, ranging from engineering to healthcare and conservation, will be available to adults without a full qualification at Level three (A-level equivalent) from April 2021 to help them gain in-demand skills and open up further job opportunities. Designed to help the country repair its economy after the pandemic, the qualifications have been carefully chosen to help adults improve their career prospects and meet the needs of the economy. They will be reviewed regularly so the courses offered can be updated as the economy changes. The announcement marks an important step in the development of the government’s landmark Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which aims to transform the skills system to ensure more people, regardless of their age or background, can get the skills they need to progress in employment.

The offer is backed by £95 million from the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund, which is financing programmes that support the immediate economic recovery and help meet future skills needs.

a digital economy. These new opportunities will be critical in the months ahead for the manufacturing sector as we build a workforce fit for the future.”

qualifications will help open doors to better employment opportunities for thousands of adults and support businesses to access the workforce they need to grow.

This funding will enable thousands of adults to gain new qualifications and access better job opportunities. A proportion of the cash will also be used to support education and training providers as they scale up their provision to deliver the courses and meet the needs of learners.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “As we recover from the pandemic, we are focused on making sure that individuals and businesses can build back better than before. Throughout our lives we may all need to boost our skills or gain new ones. These free

“Our new Lifetime Skills Guarantee promises to help you get the skills you need at every stage of your life. I’d urge all those eligible to see what course they can take from spring next year and start thinking about their next steps.”

Stephen Phipson CBE, chief executive of manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said: “Industry will be pleased to see manufacturing and engineeringrelated level three qualifications as part of this new offer. Protecting existing vital skills and providing people with an opportunity to learn much-needed new skills is crucial. “It is also an important first step in supporting individuals on the pathway towards higher-level qualifications as we transition to

MKC Training Training Design, Delivery & Assessment Courses in ITIL Project Management Scaffolding Awareness Health & Safety www.mkctraining.com +44 (0)1634 383080

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What is GRADFORCE? GRADFORCE is a new project funded by the OfďŹ ce for Students (OfS) until September 2022, and match-funded by Canterbury Christ Church University. The project aims to ensure that all Canterbury Christ Church University students have an equal opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to progress into graduate employment. By encouraging participation from underrepresented groups, and providing employability training and development, GRADFORCE aims to create a generation of graduates that are ready for the workplace, regardless of background or challenges faced.

Do you want a quality bespoke training and recruitment service at a fraction of your usual costs?

Get Ahead with GRADFORCE Develop the potential of your business and its people Thinking Business

Our unique bespoke graduate recruitment model works speciďŹ cally with SMEs in Kent and Medway, providing small local businesses with access to graduate talent, as well as training and development opportunities for their workforce, helping to grow and retain skills in the region. The project works with employers in tackling fears and barriers in employing people from underrepresented groups, and provides training and support to address these issues.

Skills for the 21st century Employability skills are vitally important as graduates enter an increasingly competitive job market. GRADFORCE aims to prepare students and graduates for the workplace, making them more attractive to employers and providing them with the skills needed for personal career success. At GRADFORCE we are committed to making sure that our students from marginalised backgrounds are not held back and that they have the best opportunities to progress and ensure that their futures are secure. Through our Get Hired! Programme we offer students and recent graduates bespoke training and development, which focuses on building strengths, enabling a growth mindset ready to face challenges, giving realistic expectations and enhancing essential skills needed to succeed in a graduate role. Our 2020/21 cohort will consist of a minimum of 60 students enrolled on our comprehensive programme, with up to 100 students also attending additional bespoke events. The programme is derived from research and evaluation of personal and professional development needs and gaps, using information gained from events involving both students and employers.


Employer Engagement Many SME employers may say ‘we don’t have any jobs for graduates’. The new GRADFORCE model aims to demonstrate to SMEs that finding a graduate job simply means finding a job that matches the skills that you have gained throughout your degree and additional work experience. Our programme for students aims to ensure they have the strengths and skills to match the requirements of employers in Kent and Medway. There are 68,000 SME employers In Kent and Medway and 69% of graduates in Kent went on to work in the region they were originally domiciled, demonstrating a clear talent pool for employers to meet their recruitment needs. GRADFORCE is here to offer that service to SME’s by delivering a bespoke headhunting and matchmaking service to make sure that the right candidates are selected for the job roles employers have available. A full recruitment service can be provided, reducing the costs and time for employers searching for the right employee Another part of our unique Get Ahead model is the training and development opportunities we offer to SME employers in Kent and Medway. Through this we aim to give employers an opportunity to be involved in GRADFORCE, provide opportunities to their existing workforce, as well as developing relationships with us and our students. The initial training programme we have developed will look to begin to break down barriers related to employing graduates from underrepresented groups, as well as be an additional support for businesses through the current COVID-19 pandemic.

GRADFORCE will host these first Get Ahead workshops in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce between January 2021 – May 2021, offering training sessions such as: • New Year, New Me - Improving productivity from a Sports Science perspective • Let’s Talk About Race - Exploring the impact of race within the workplace • Unconscious Bias - How bias impacts decision making • Supporting visible and invisible disabilities in the workplace - Increasing your confidence to support disabled candidates & employees • Recruitment Excellence - Essential tips on making the right recruitment decisions • Healthier Minds at Work - Normalising conversations about mental health in the workplace • Agility and Strategic Planning - Dealing with uncertainty and complexity • Raising Your Marketing Profile - Key strategies to improve your marketing profile • Where are we now? - Business insights and Q&A with key academics and experts We also have a bespoke Belbin for Teams training programme to help you understand the dynamics in your team and where the strengths lie. We very much encourage input and support from local employers to ensure that we are able to make the project as successful as possible. If you are interested in finding out more about GRADFORCE, our recruitment offer, our training or would like to get involved as a mentor for our students and graduates, please get in touch with the team at gradforce@canterbury.ac.uk. And we will arrange a meeting with you to discuss your needs. Sessions can be booked at https://www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events/

Meet the GRADFORCE Team

Louise Gotch

GradForce Project Manager

Katy Suckling

GradForce Project Officer

Amber Bytheway

GradForce Project Officer

Thinking Business


Lockdown support for beleaguered businesses The government has announced a further raft of financial support measures to help businesses through the latest national lockdown.

32 Thinking Business

Economy England went into its third lockdown in early January as coronavirus cases soared and hospitals came under intense pressure. With all non-essential businesses forced to close once again, the government unveiled a £4.6 billion package of support which included one-off grants worth up to £9,000 for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. There was also a £594 million discretionary fund to support other businesses impacted by the latest lockdown. This support is in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of April. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomed the support but said it needed to go further. BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “While this immediate cash flow support for business is welcome, it is not going to be enough to save many firms. We need to see a clear support package for the whole of 2021, not just another incremental intervention. “The government must move away from this drip-feed approach and set out a long-term plan that allows all businesses of all shapes and sizes to plan, and ultimately survive. “Many smaller firms won’t qualify for the full headline amounts set out in the Chancellor’s statement, and will be left struggling to see how this new top-up grant will help them out of their cashflow problems. “Support must be sufficient to cover not just those on the front line of retail, hospitality and leisure, but also firms in supply chains and wider business communities who are also feeling the devastating impacts of these restrictions.” The third lockdown is expected to heap more pressure on businesses already struggling to cope with enforced restrictions and temporary closures due to previous lockdowns in 2020.

"The government must move away from this drip-feed approach and set out a long-term plan that allows all businesses of all shapes and sizes to plan, and ultimately survive" The BCC’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) – the UK’s largest independent survey of business sentiment and a leading indicator of UK GDP growth – found that business conditions remained weak in the fourth quarter of last year as the second lockdown squeezed activity. The bellwether survey of 6,203 firms, which employ nearly a million people across the UK, revealed that there was no fundamental improvement in the key indicators in Q4 and they remain well below pre-crisis levels. Nearly one half of firms (43%) reported a decrease in domestic sales, 45% said the volume of their domestic orders had fallen and 38% saw a drop in export sales. Business-to-consumer (B2C) firms saw the largest falls in domestic sales in the quarter. Over three quarters

(79%) of respondents in the hospitality and catering sectors reported decreases, compared to 66% in Q3 and 94% in Q2, underlining the impact that lockdowns and forced closures have had on demand.

Continued uncertainty around further lockdowns and restrictions, as well as the many unanswered questions on Brexit, have caused businesses considerable distress, with some saying they are worried about the long-term viability of their business. Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said: “These results indicate that economic activity was strikingly downbeat in the final quarter of 2020 as the reintroduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions weighed heavily on the key drivers of growth.

However, the survey revealed that sectors that have continued their operations through the pandemic, and/or shifted their operating models to remote working, also have a higher proportion of firms reporting decreased sales. For instance, 53% of transport and distribution firms and 44% of marketing/media firms reported a drop in sales, well above pre-pandemic levels of 29% and 23% reporting decreases in Q1 2020 respectively.

“The services sector endured a particularly difficult quarter, with consumer-facing businesses most severely exposed to the renewed restrictions. Although manufacturing firms had a moderately better end to 2020, this more likely reflects a temporary boost from Brexit stockpiling rather than evidence of a recovery in the sector. The persistent weakness in investment intentions is a particular concern, as it limits the UK’s productivity and growth potential. 

Cashflow – a key indicator of business health – continued to deteriorate for 43% of firms overall in Q4 2020, with 77% of hotels and catering firms surveyed reporting a decrease in the period.

“Though the vaccine rollout provides real optimism, a new national lockdown means that a significant double-dip recession in the first quarter of this year is looking increasingly likely.” Thinking Business


Members News

Future Forward offers free support to Kent firms

Charter Tax celebrates another newly qualified accountant

Locate in Kent’s Future Forward business recovery service is back by popular demand to guide SMEs in the county through the challenges presented by the new lockdown – with access to free expert support. Future Forward will help businesses across Kent and Medway create a bespoke business plan, clear vision and offer the tools to become more productive, profitable and resilient, as they grow and carve out new opportunities for success in 2021. Lasting 6-8 weeks, the enhanced free programme now features more expert support from Kent HR and digital transformation firm Select Technology. All qualifying businesses will receive 12 hours of free consultancy, delivered by a team of Locate in Kent’s business advisors and industry experts, including Kreston Reeves and Azets, who work alongside each company to review key aspects of their business operations – from financial planning and marketing opportunities to digital transformation and skills development. Gavin Cleary, CEO at Locate in Kent, said: “We launched the Future Forward service at a time when small and medium-sized businesses, which form the bedrock of the county’s economy, were finally able to plan ahead. Since then, we have given more than 350 hours of free consultancy, guiding businesses to become more resilient, exploring new avenues for growth and investing in future-proofing. As we now navigate this new national lockdown, it is imperative that businesses continue to gain new skills and access tools needed to achieve desired results and successes in 2021. “Our Future Forward programme has already seen many success stories, including Sharp Relations, Canterbury Brewers & Distillers and Limewood Productions. Our 2021 offering has been reinforced with new expert advisors to provide businesses with vital support and advice they need to overcome the challenges they may now be facing, and plan for progress in this new economic landscape.” For more information on signing up, visit www.locateinkent.com/future-forward

34 Thinking Business

Tom Maggs has recently qualified as an ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) chartered accountant at Charter Tax. Over the past three years, Tom has passed a series of rigorous examinations in financial management, auditing, business

strategy and taxation, which will see him admitted to the membership of the ICAEW and able to use the letters ACA after his name.

Tom joined Charter Tax straight from school in July 2014, two weeks after completing his A levels. He initially studied for and achieved his AAT qualification.

Throughout the months of study, client manager Charlie Goss, who works with Tom in Charter Tax’ corporate team has, along with the whole management team, been very supportive and on hand to support and mentor him and the firm’s other trainees.

At Charter Tax, Tom is based within the corporate team, where his role involves working within the outsourced FD function, supporting businesses with VAT and tax returns and other FDrelated tasks.

Charlie said: “Charter Tax is well regarded for its trainee programme and we are really proud to have yet another fully-qualified accountant in our team. To combine a career with studying takes a huge amount of dedication – particularly so over recent months, when life has been even more challenging.”

Tom said: “I particularly enjoy the variety which my role offers no job is ever the same. “I carry out work for many clients, all operating in a variety of business sectors. This ranges from clients that operate in the sporting industry to clients that operate in the agriculture industry.” For further information visit www.charter-tax.com

HV Wooding plays major role in “God particle” project Established for more than 50 years, HV Wooding works with world-leading companies such as Schneider Electric, Honeywell, Rolls Royce, Mercedes and CERN.

The work with CERN includes the production of vital components for the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – built to investigate the origins of the universefinding “God particle”. A lead scientist at CERN said: “It quickly became apparent that the team at HV Wooding were capable of really adding to the performance of the components we were developing. They were not content with just providing what was initially required; they wanted to optimise both price and performance.” Praise from clients at this level is testament to the highest levels of quality and expertise offered from this Kent business.

In 2020 HV Wooding became part of the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium alongside the likes of Airbus, BAE, Ford, Siemens and Rolls Royce to manufacture vital ventilators to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic – saving lives across the UK. The company has since seen a surge of new enquiries as supply chains became adversely affected and UK buyers that may have sourced from Europe, India and China began to re-shore. Growth in business from the renewables and electric vehicles sectors has also accelerated significantly since the pandemic. HV Wooding offers a comprehensive range of services, manufacturing precision metal components from prototyping to production via wire erosion, laser cutting, CNC machining, presswork and tooling. For more information visit www.hvwooding.co.uk

One in three over-60s shun financial advice A large percentage of the population has never taken professional financial advice, according to research by accountancy and financial planning expert Kreston Reeves.

The study also suggests that people place an over-reliance on the state pension and believe they have “just enough” in pensions to fund the retirement they hoped for. The research, which polled 1,022 people aged over 35, highlights a false sense of financial security across all ages, leaving individuals in a precarious position in retirement. It showed that 30% of individuals aged over 60 and 24% aged 35-59 have never taken financial advice. Only one half of respondents said they were confident their financial

affairs were in order, while one in three 35-59-year-olds and 64% aged over 60 said they would rely on the state pension to fund their retirement.

Around 54% of those surveyed stated a cautious attitude towards financial risk, yet the assets they held suggested otherwise. Individuals aged between 35 and 59 were more likely to draw upon a wide range of investments to fund their retirement, including savings, personal investments, property and inheritance. In addition, 36% of individuals in the 35-59 age bracket and 32% of those aged over 60 said they

would have “just enough” funds in retirement to achieve their plans. Daniel Grainge, partner and head of tax at Kreston Reeves, said: “The fragility of the global economy due to COVID-19 and stock market volatility is threatening our respondents’ long-term financial future and security. With the range of threats highlighted in our survey, it is worrying that such a large proportion tell us that they have never taken financial advice, compounded further by the belief that they’re confident that their financial affairs are in order.”

For more information visit www.krestonreeves.com/planningforyourfuture

Mike Eady to spearhead Loch Wellbeing launch Mike Eady has joined Loch Associates Group as development director to spearhead the launch of Loch Wellbeing – a scheme that helps employers manage and look after the health and wellbeing of their employees. Mike brings with him expertise as a safety leader and has a proven track record of delivering sustainable results through transformational change. He boasts a background in automotive engineering, where he became familiar with world-class manufacturing techniques. Moving through logistics and distribution – working for organisations including Royal Mail, Direct Line Group, Wates Construction and UPP – he developed a passion for understanding what drives behaviour at work. This led him to apply behavioural techniques to the world of workplace safety.

Mike said: “I first came across Loch Associates Group when, in my previous role, I needed a partner to deliver a raft of health initiatives including mental health first aid training. I was really impressed by their expertise and approach and we soon started talking about ways we could combine our knowledge to produce a unique model for wellbeing in the workplace.”

to rolling out Loch Wellbeing and sharing the benefits of signing up to our unique model.”

Loch Wellbeing supports businesses to deliver the tools and strategies needed for people to be safe, healthy and happy at work.

For more information visit www.lochassociates.co.uk

Pam Loch, managing director of Loch Associates Group, said: “We are responding to the need for a refocus on business owners and their employees’ wellbeing and are delighted to welcome Mike as our development director. He is an expert in wellbeing, who brings with him many years’ experience in health and safety. With Mike on board, we are looking forward

Members News

Loch Associates Group provides a unique combination of employment law, HR consultancy, wellbeing programmes and mediation services delivered through Loch Employment Law, HR Advise Me, Loch Wellbeing and Loch Mediation.

Mike Eady

Successful Kent-based PR agency adds European affiliates Kent-based PR agency Suzanne Howe Communications (SHC) has developed a trusted network of European affiliate organisations to support its B2B clients in achieving better reach on the continent. “If the global Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything it is that the world remains a small place,” says SHC founder Suzanne Howe. “Wherever we happen to be in the world, we have more in common than we might have previously thought. “Of course, Brexit – and the ending of the transition period which saw the UK officially sever ties with Europe at the end of 2020 – might give the illusion of detachment here in the UK. But the reality is, the world is more connected than ever. The global challenges we face – from ocean plastic waste and climate change to obesity, hygiene and getting debilitating viruses under control – will not be solved by any one nation, or any one company or individual. We’re all in this together. “It is a sentiment echoed by our news that we are now offering customers expanded coverage of their products and services across Europe. Many of our UK-based clients need to reach the European media. We can now help with that, thanks to our new affiliate network in Germany, Poland, France and Italy. “As we head into 2021, we’re excited to bring Europe closer to home and we’re committed to supporting our clients in new and interesting ways, whenever and wherever we can.” For more information visit www.suzannehowe.com

Thinking Business


International Trade

Opportunities and challenges


Kent exporters are adjusting to a new reality following an eleventh-hour Brexit deal struck days before the transition period ended on December 31. 36 Thinking Business

International Trade

“We repeat that it is the responsibility of government to give firms clear, precise and detailed guidance so that they can make the required changes quickly. Far too many details and procedures have been left, literally, to the last minute." The decision ended months of wrangling over future business rules and fishing rights between the UK and the EU. Under the terms of the new agreement, import tariffs between the UK and EU will be removed and UK goods can be sold without quotas in the EU market. However, these concessions come at a cost. UK exporters will face numerous regulatory hurdles that in all likelihood will make it more expensive and burdensome to do business in Europe. On fisheries, the EU has agreed to give up 25% of its existing quotas in UK waters over a transition period of five and a half years, after which there will be annual renegotiations. Meanwhile, although the UK won’t have access to the EU’s internal energy market, the idea is to have new arrangements in place by April 2022 to ensure that trading via interconnectors – power cables that link the UK with parts of Europe – is smooth and efficient. Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “After four long years of uncertainty and upheaval, businesses will be able to muster little more than a muted and weary cheer. “While firms will welcome the agreement of a new foundation for UK-EU trade, they were faced with the gargantuan task of adapting to new arrangements with scarcely a week before they took effect.

“Businesses will need to digest the contents of the deal and consider what its provisions mean for the movement of goods, people and data across borders, as well as for their supply chains and partners. “We repeat that it is the responsibility of government to give firms clear, precise and detailed guidance so that they can make the required changes quickly. Far too many details and procedures have been left, literally, to the last minute. “Let’s not forget that many businesses are already on their knees from the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and most will have fewer resources available to implement the necessary changes with furloughed staff.” The BCC said governments on both sides of the UK-EU divide must recognise the impossible task they have set businesses

and give them time and breathing space to adjust to new realities. “It is normal for free trade agreements to come with phasing-in measures, and this one should be no different,” said Adam Marshall. “It is now time to bring the political drama of the last four years to an end, and to replace it with pragmatism and determination to make the new UK-EU relationship work. The agreement can and must be a starting point for deeper cooperation as we restart, rebuild and renew our economies. “With greater clarity on the terms of trade, businesses can plan, invest and look once again towards new opportunities.”  The UK government continues to update Brexit transition advice for business at https://www.gov.uk/ transition

Thinking Business


Members News

Contracts: Why everyone needs one – employers and employees The first rule of employment is to ensure contracts are in place – and there’s never a reason not to.

Here, she gives some of the reasons for why you need a contract:

Even if you’re working in the family business, for a friend or someone else you know – a contract is essential when two people work together.

Contracts are a legally-binding, compliant, up-to-date document and a ‘day 1 right’ – you’re breaking the law if someone starts working for you that hasn’t got one.

Without one, both the employee and employer can leave themselves wide open to problems – some of the them costly, others reputational if you find yourself at a tribunal. Babette Powell founded BPHR Consultancy in July last year after a 10-year career in corporate HR. She’s now working with businesses across Kent as an outsourced HR, helping them to ensure they have policies and procedures in place in case of misunderstandings or disputes.

Salary, notice periods, disciplinary/ grievance procedures and redundancy information is clearly stated to give transparency and fairness to both sides. Working time and place – if you don’t have a contract, an employee could work when they want and where they want. The employer could also take advantage, moving the employee’s times and place of work around.

A contract avoids confusion, misunderstandings and disputes and is a clear record of expectations from both employer and employee, which can build the employer brand – looking after staff is a big asset.

Babette said: “I’ve seen it many times, what can go wrong when contracts aren’t in place. Along with any financial or reputational issues, there is also the health and wellbeing side to consider – it can be very stressful and worrying for employers and employees when there is a dispute or allegation of breach of contract where there is no employment contract in place. Implied terms may play a key role in the resolution.

The Medway-based firm and Kent Invicta Chamber member took on five new staff last year, boosting the team to 19. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and financial services generally did well during the coronavirus crisis. Despite the pressures, Fingerprint Financial Planning enjoyed one of its most successful years since Paul Spencer-Nixon and Ben Beslic founded the independent business in 2008.

While Covid-19 has inflicted severe economic damage on many businesses, regrettably with closures, reduced income and job losses, new opportunities opened for sectors such as financial services. Mark Henderson, operations director, said that many personal and business clients had thought

38 Thinking Business

Babette is available to all Chamber members for HR advice. info@bphrconsultancy.co.uk bphrconsultancy.co.uk

“This could be time-consuming and costly – and can have a huge effect on morale and productivity,

FINANCE FIRM BUILDS ON RECORD 2020 BY ADDING MORE JOBS IN 2021 In 2020, award-winning Fingerprint Financial Planning overcame the pandemic challenge to create more jobs than ever before in a single year – and plans to add more in 2021.

but if you have a contract, things can be that much easier to navigate and resolve.”

Fingerprint Financial Planning won the Excellence in Client Service Award in the Medway Business Awards for the way it looks after clients across Medway, Kent, the South East and beyond. Specialist areas covered include buying a first home, retirement planning, investments, inheritance tax, care home and school fees, business succession, mortgages, commercial finance, secured loans, wills, trusts and probate.

seriously about their finances during the pandemic. “It’s been really hard for many businesses and individuals but we have been fortunate in being able to help clients who had more time to review their pensions and financial situation,” he said. “They turned to us for advice and it meant taking on a record number of new staff last year. We will need to grow the team again in 2021.” Because Medway is proving a popular destination for London residents anxious to move out of the city, Mark is confident the firm will attract even more new clients.

Client safety has been paramount during lockdowns, with meetings held virtually. When restrictions are lifted, face-to-face meetings are held at the client’s home or business premises, or in the attractive setting of the Historic Dockyard Chatham where the firm has been based for many years. “During the pandemic, our team has done a fantastic job helping clients put their finances on a sounder footing,” said founding partner Paul Spencer-Nixon.“With historically low interest rates, many investments are nowhere near earning their keep. We aim to protect savings and give the best advice in these challenging times.”

For more information, please visit www.fingerprintfinancialplanning.co.uk

asktheexpert How should businesses react to rapidly evolving situations? The first thing to do is to accept that change will happen. Nobody could have predicted COVID-19 but a lot of the trends that we’re seeing now – more remote working, greater adoption of technology, a drive to become more sustainable – were in evidence long before the pandemic hit our shores.

All of us have seen a lot of change in the last year due to the coronavirus. Lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down and companies have been forced to go out of their comfort zone just to survive. The unprecedented situation that we’re all living through raises the question of how we should deal with sudden, unexpected change – especially when running a business.

The challenge for companies is to be agile enough to embrace that change, to seek new opportunities by identifying and maximising on new trends in the marketplace. I’m proud to say that at Eco Electrical Contractors we’ve managed to do just that. For example, we’ve completed energy-efficient lighting and photovoltaic installations as companies and individuals make their homes and offices more sustainable. We’ve also embraced the green energy boom by winning contracts to install electric vehicle charging stations, as the country gears up to replace petrol and diesel cars with environmentally friendly models. It’s important to look ahead and try to anticipate the start of new trends that will emerge in the next few years. This is not an easy task but it’s worth making the effort. In the pandemic we’ve had a few requests for contactless control systems that enable people to open doors and switch on lights without having to touch them. Will this become a more prominent trend postCOVID? It’s something that we’ll monitor closely. Companies can also better adapt to change by listening closely to customers’ needs. Nowadays, off-the-shelf solutions won’t cut it; companies want bespoke products and services that meet specific requirements. That’s why we’re keen to work

closely with clients at each stage of the project lifecycle to ensure that their needs are being met. We’re continually evolving as a business, coming up with new ideas that can add value to the services we offer. We’re also not afraid to ask questions, to challenge clients to look at things differently. In an era of so much uncertainty, many clients welcome and respect this. It’s also worth looking inwards to see where improvements can be made within a business. Can business processes be refined so they remain effective in times of change? Are there any skill gaps that need addressing? We recently hired an in-house design consultant so we can add more value to clients at the design stage of each project and have also taken on a new apprentice during these trying times. Dealing with evolution is part and parcel of being in business. Those that are more willing and able to adapt have a much better chance of success. Paul Hooker is the founder of Eco Electrical Contractors. He established the company in 2015 and has built a team of highly qualified, experienced electricians who serve clients in Kent and the wider south east of England region. The company has worked on numerous projects in the commercial, industrial and domestic sectors, covering initial concept work through to design, installation, testing and certification. As fully accredited members of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), the company ensures that everything it does is certified to the highest standards.

Highly qualified electrical contractors bringing vast experience skill and support to business clients throughout the South East covering all commercial, industrial and residential projects since 2015 CMYK 42%, 0, 43% , 0 RBG 148,210,141 HEX #94d28d

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Telephone: 01233 556012 | Email: info@ecoecse.com | www.ecoecse.com Guides = Clear space

Thinking Business


Members News

Cripps recruits apprentice solicitor

The five-year apprenticeship combines classroom with on-thejob learning and will be delivered in partnership with BPP University Law School. It will incorporate the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which launches in September 2021. Rosie Harvey, who has just completed a two-year paralegal apprenticeship with the firm, will start her training in January 2021. Throughout the scheme she will experience a broad range of legal work, spending time in different practice areas across the firm.

Cripps Pemberton Greenish has become one of the first law firms in the South East to recruit an apprentice solicitor under the Trailblazer Solicitor Apprenticeship scheme.

Annabel Goh, emerging talent manager, commented: “We have

ON Architecture designs new ways of working situation and decide how the organisation will follow the latest COVID-19 safety guidance.

Building on the experience of the last year, Kent-based ON Architecture has announced it is to operate seven days a week to support its clients and ensure workplace flexibility and the wellbeing of its 40 staff. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the latest lockdown, ON Architecture’s directors arranged a staff consultation to discuss the new

Following the consultation, the firm, which has offices in Canterbury and Clerkenwell, will now offer staff the opportunity to do their core working hours between 6am and 9pm, seven days a week, in line with staff requests. The hours can be split between their home and office dependent upon the needs of their specific projects and in line with staff requests Unlike many in its industry, ON Architecture has not had to make any of its team redundant during the pandemic, with only a small number of staff placed on furlough, all of whom have now returned to work.

worked with BPP University Law School on other apprenticeships and are excited to be continuing our partnership with them. We look forward to working with Rosie over the next five years as she continues with her training.” Gavin Tyler, managing partner, added: “We are delighted to be one of the first law firms in Kent to offer this alternative pathway to qualification. This pathway is a really credible alternative for young people who feel, for whatever reason, that university isn’t the right route for them. I hope schemes like this will encourage more diversity in law.” as flexible as possible and balance working from home with providing a COVID-safe open office.” For more information visit www.onarchitecture.co.uk

David Weir, director of ON Architecture, said: “Since the first lockdown back in March last year, we have worked closely with our staff to offer a flexible and protective working environment. “However, for many people working from home is not practical due to individual circumstances, such as the working environment and issues of health and safety, data protection and information technology. “The technical nature of our work for the construction industry, which can require access to large-scale printers and scanners, means it is often not practical to work on a project at a kitchen table on a laptop. As a result, we need to be

Facilities management firm opens its doors Frogman Facilities Management has been born out of the pandemic.

Frogman Facilities Management adopts the unusual policy that the customer is not always right.

Led by owner Gerald Bailey, who hails from Rhodesia and South Africa, the company has more than 20 years’ engineering experience in the naval, commercial catering equipment repair, facilities management and domestic home care sectors.

The company said: “There are times when one has to walk away form a job because the client has a vision that is practically not possible or legal.

40 Thinking Business

“Walking away shows respect for all of our other clients in so much

as the work we do is of a high standard. We will not allow an impractical or illegal idea to sink a good reputation.

“Customers are so much more than just an invoice number. When one pursues the best for a client, a business will grow. Clients can have a valuable input into a project and this should be encouraged, but to achieve a quality product,

this needs to be driven by a professional in that field.

“We believe in using our highly effective green products that are unique to our company. From the paint we offer to end users and wholesalers, to the cleaning products we use, our discerning clients come first.” For more information vistit www.frogmanfm.co.uk

Keep on the right side of inheritance tax rules

A lawyer specialising in estate planning has warned people not to fall foul of inheritance tax rules, as families were expected to increase gifting over Christmas to help loved ones adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Anna Coleman, a solicitor with south east law firm Furley Page, said: “People often contemplate making gifts of cash or other assets at Christmas, and this year in particular we expect that more people would have taken advantage of the opportunity to help those adversely affected by COVID-19.

However, there are exceptions to the seven-year rule, such as gifts to spouses which are not included in the calculation and can be unlimited in value. Furthermore, each individual is allowed to give away up to £3,000 each tax year (the “annual exemption”) without that amount being included in the valuation of their estate.

“Before making a gift, it is sensible to discuss matters with an expert to ensure that any gifts made are as tax-efficient as possible and to protect beneficiaries from unplanned tax bills in the future.”

Individuals are also able to make gifts of up to £250 to any number of individuals, as long as no other exemption has already been used on that donee. Gifts out of any surplus income can also be made, but individuals must be able to maintain their usual standard of living despite making these gifts.

When it comes to calculating the value of an estate for inheritance tax purposes, the executors must include the value of all gifts made during the seven-year period leading up to the death of the testator.

Digital marketing expert receives Special Recognition Award A young digital marketing executive from Sittingbourne has been given a Special Recognition Award for his volunteering work at social enterprise Youth Employment UK.

Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Cantellow, who works at accountancy and financial planning expert Kreston Reeves, is now in his fifth year of volunteering at the social enterprise. Patrick completed his Level 6 qualification at Kreston Reeves, which he joined in 2019. He first became involved with Youth Employment UK at its London conference in 2015 and is a passionate advocate for careers advice and the power of apprenticeships.

Over the last five years, Patrick has contributed significantly to the development of Youth Employment UK. He has spoken at several events and conferences, represented the organisation in parliament and for the last two years has chaired the organisation’s ambassador board. In 2020 Patrick became a non-executive director of Youth Employment UK.

Charities are exempt beneficiaries for inheritance tax purposes, and financial support for them will not result in an inheritance tax liability. Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK, said: “We were delighted to see Patrick receive this award. For a 21-year-old to pass a fiveyear volunteering mark with any organisation is incredible, but the recognition is not just for time served but for his contribution to the development of Youth Employment UK and his contribution to our impact.”

Members News

Help for tech start-up companies in Kent Kent Business Consultants would like to team up with your tech start-up company and help turn your ideas into reality. KBC has considerable expertise in launching and running small-to-medium-size companies. We can assist with funding, administration, day-today accounts and marketing, allowing you to focus on developing your ideas into a viable business.

Starting a company can seem complicated as there are several things you need to consider, such as: Business idea – have you researched your idea and identified the potential market/ competition etc Registering your company – structuring your company for tax and legal requirements is essential to protect you and your business Business plan – formulating a realistic business plan is essential if you are going to raise funding Raising funds – your business plan should identify the best and worst scenario funding requirements

Karen Thompson, training manager at Kreston Reeves, said: “Patrick is a great ambassador for the apprenticeship scheme and we are very pleased to have him on our team here at Kreston Reeves. We are currently one of only four accountancy firms in the UK that are listed as an employer provider and are delighted to hold this much-coveted status.

Roy Ricks is an entrepreneur who has started and run more than 30 companies so far, some failing and others growing into public companies capitalised at more than £50 million. As an engineer he specialises in tech companies in the fire detection, security, automation and alternative energy sectors but has interests and contacts in many other areas too.

“We have 100 apprentices at Kreston Reeves and most of our apprentices complete Level 7 (accounting and tax training). In addition to this, we also have our own training programme which supports learning on wider business, personal and technical skills.”

KBC is seeking to work with a limited number of companies so please contact us at info@kent-consultants.co.uk if you are interested in a free consultation to discuss your ideas and potential requirements.

Thinking Business


Kent Invicta LIVE Events Every Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 am*



Kent Invicta LIVE E-vents Kent Invicta LIVE Events

Every Tuesday and Thursday we bring you an eclectic mix of information sessions, workshops, panel sessions and training sessions with some of the top local business professionals from an array of different industries. Each event is designed to mirror our face-to-face events, offering invaluable information tailored to our attendee’s wants and needs. So far, we have helped offer over 2,000 attendees throughout our online event programme, offering support and guidance through hardship.

Every Tuesdayand andThursday Thursday10:30am 10:30 am* Every Tuesday

*SUBJECT TO CHANGE UPCOMING EVENTS: Every Tuesday and Thursday we bring you an eclectic mix of information sessions, 9th Feb Virtualthe Business Networking workshops, panel sessions and training sessions with some top local businessworksho Every Tuesday and Thursday we bring you an eclectic mix ofofinformation sessions, th professionals an array of different industries. Each event is designed to mirror Getbusiness Ahead! –professionals New Year, New Me an ar panel sessions from and training sessions with some of10theFeb top local from face-to-face events, offering tailored to our events, attendee’s wants th Febour ofour different industries. Each event invaluable is designedinformation to11 mirror face-to-face offering invalua The Technology Challenges and needs. So far, we have helped offer over 2,000 attendees throughout our online information tailored to our attendee’s wants and needs. SoYour far, Business we haveWill helped over 2,0 Face offer In 2021 event programme, offering support and guidance through hardship. attendees throughout our online event programme, thoffering support and guidance through hardsh

‘Get Ahead!’ Series Are you an SME in Kent and Medway? Join us for our brand new series of FREE webinars where we will provide additional support for your business through the current COVID-19 pandemic, and begin to break down the barriers related to employing graduates from under-represented groups. We will be exploring some of the important issues that employers face in the current ‘Get Ahead!’ Series challenging your perceptions and Areworld, you an SME in Kent and Medway? Join us for our brand arming you webinars with skills that your business new series of FREE we will provide additional Are you anbusiness SME through inwhere Kent and Medway? Join support for your the current COVID-19 needs to thrive!

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webinars where we willyou provide additional As part of this series, can meet the We will be exploring somebusiness of the important issues that employers support for your through the current GradForce team, learn how to build a growth face in the current world, challenging your perceptions and COVID-19 pandemic, and begin to break mind-set andbusiness your team, explore arming you withfor skillsyou that your needs to thrive! the down the barriers bias related to employing world of unconscious and more. As part of this series, you can meet the GradForce team, learn graduates from under-represented groups. how to build a growth mind-set for you and your team, explore

you Beckybias Simms from Reflect Digital the 'Thank world of unconscious and more. andwill KazbeMacklin for asome really of interesting talk We exploring the important 'Thank you Becky Simms from Reflect Digital and Kaz Macklin for a on using the neuro-based principles for issues that employers faceprinciples in the current really interesting talk on using the neuro-based for marketing. marketing. world, challenging your perceptions and Really impressed with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commercearming you so with skills that yourChamber business they've responded well in these trying times.' Really impressed with Kent Invicta – Jane Chakravorty, needs to thrive!Invicta Linux Ltd.

of Commerce- they've responded so well in these trying times.' – Jane Chakravorty,

18 Feb

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22nd Feb

Virtual Business Networking

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For all events and to book your place: www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events/

Many More… ForPLUS all events and to book your place: As part of this series, you can meet the Business Linux Ltd. Invicta 42 Thinking www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events/ GradForce team, learn how to build a growth



Business Networking Talks Kent Construction Focus Group LIVE: Bringing the Construction Industry Together

Kent Construction Focus Group LIVE:

The Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) brings local businesses together to discuss the future of Kent Development, giving companies access to Bringing the Construction Industry Together local knowledge, contracts and expertise. KCFG The Kent Construction (KCFG) brings promotes the futureFocus roleGroup of Kent land development local businesses together to discuss the future of Kent and construction businesses in the growth and Development, giving companies access to local knowledge, development of KentKCFG and promotes its environment. contracts and expertise. the future roleThe of first Kent land development and construction businesses in the Tuesday of every month, 7:30 am – 9 am. growth and development of Kent and its environment. The

first TuesdayFree of every 7:30 am – 9 am. Members: tomonth, attend, Non-KCFG Member: £10.00 + VAT Members: Free to attend, Non-KCFG Member: £10.00 + VAT

Join us for a morning of networking and meet individuals from local businesses. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative, who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community.

Business Talks with Each FREE session we will kick-start the Kaz Macklin and Kelly meeting with Business Walks, where we will take you on a virtual tour around a local Chawner business to see and hear first-hand how

Join us forare a morning of networking and meet individuals things run and experience a ‘day in thefrom local businesses. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and life of.’ These highly interactive sessions receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative, will include: who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community.

Business Walks!: A virtual tour

Each FREEaround session weour will kick-start meeting withand Business guest’sthebusiness Walks, where we will take you on a virtual tour around a chat with them afterwards local business to see and hear first-hand how things are run  A chance for everyone to introduce and experience a ‘day in the life of.’ These highly interactive themselves sessions will include:


Breakout rooms to allow more in-

Business Walks!: A virtual tour around our guest’s depth conversations business and chat with them afterwards

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A bi-weekly new, fun way of networking which is highly highly interactive, sparking interesting conversations interactive, sparking interesting conversations and aims to bring and aims to bring like-minded people together, guide like-minded people together, guide forward new ideas and form forward new ideas and form new business new business relationships. With 3 breakout room sessions, you relationships. With 3 breakout have the opportunity to meet and networkroom with upsessions, to 15 new you business have theconnections. opportunity to meet and network with up to 15 new business connections. Members: Free to attend, Non Members: £10.00 + VAT

Members: Free to attend, Non Members: £10.00 + VAT

with local businesses Kent. Byconnections utilising the breakout room facility, everyonein has a chance to promote their business and make invaluable connections “We had high expectations for the session with local businesses in Kent. and were not disappointed! It was very well organised and kept us all engaged. “We had high expectations for the session and were not Following Business Talks we received disappointed! It was very well organised and kept us all multiple connections through LinkedIn engaged. Following Business Talks we received multiple proving through it to LinkedIn be aproving valuable for connections it to be atool valuable tool for networking with other other local businesses to discuss networking with local businesses to future opportunities.” Lauren MacKay, GSE discuss future – opportunities.” – Group. Lauren MacKay, GSE Group.

For all events and to book your place: BOOK NOW: www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/events/ Thinking Business



Eric and Steve travelled to Vietnam to deliver IOSH Managing Safely, Risk assessment training and First aid training to the site managers and project managers of the country’s largest construction firm.

EC SAFETY SOLUTIONS We don’t do problems We Deliver Solutions

EC Safety Solutions will provide you with the correct level of support that your company needs. We can ‘if required’ become your retained health and safety manager and even provide you with a named competent person. Why are we different from other safety providers, because we care; about you, about your company and about your employees. We don’t just offer you advice only to come back at a later date to point out that you haven’t actioned it, we do it for you!

It is our aim to provide you with the most sensible, cost effective, compliant, accredited advice and training. No cutting corners, no reduction in standards. We aim to provide 100% satisfaction.


At EC Safety Solutions, we deliver a whole suite of accredited courses to enhance your business needs, our courses can be tailored to suit your individual business. Be it the IOSH working or Managing Safely Course, the CITB Site Managers Safety Training Scheme or Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme both of which can be delivered over consecutive weeks to reduce the training burden on your time and profit, Fire Marshal Training, COSHH Awareness, The Level 1 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment and numerous First Aid training courses.

ON LINE TRAINING COURSES The E-Learning package is our newest addition to our product range and it allows our clients to access numerous health and safety courses to complete online. Our E-learning modules will enable you to train your staff in the comfort of the office, or in their own homes. Whilst the cost of paying for training may not seem excessive the cost of taking staff out of their roles for the day can drastically increase the overall cost of a training day. E-learning can help you to save these costs. Online training is available for Health and Safety Courses and Health and Social Care.

RETAINED MANAGEMENT By using us you will feel confident that you are always complying with legislative requirements and being advised on the best and most cost-effective way to maintain a safe place of work.

Baxall Construction • Rolex UK • Covington • Breitling UK & Eire • Dechert LLP COURSES INCLUDE: • Abrasive Wheels • Asbestos Awareness • COSHH • DSE Awareness • Fire Marshal • Food Safety • Manual Handling • • Working at Height • Mental Health Awareness • Equality Diversity and Inclusion • Safeguarding Adults and Children •






T: 0800 1930246 • E: info@ecsafetysolutions.com • www.ecsafetysolutions.com

Unit 09 • The Old Joiners Shop • The Historic Dockyard • Chatham • Kent • ME4 4TZ

EC Safety Solutions targets growth While most companies are battening down the hatches and just hoping to survive in the current climate, EC Safety Solutions is busy pursuing an aggressive growth strategy. Established by owner-director Eric McCann 12 years ago, the company provides costeffective accredited health and safety advice and training, helping organisations to comply with the law and adhere to best practice in the numerous sectors in which they operate. a brilliant customer service, with each health and safety solution tailored to the client’s individual needs. Eric says: “We adopt a very hands-on approach; we’re almost an extension of our client’s business rather than an external consultancy. In essence, we work with our clients to produce the right level of occupational health, safety and environmental best practice that they need. “We go far beyond compliance; our aim is to ensure that our clients keep on the right side of the law but we also advise on best practice so that they’re being seen to do the right things. That helps to build a good corporate profile and reputation.

Services on offer range from retained management, general risk assessments, office compliance and construction site inspections to accredited training courses on first aid, fire awareness and health and safety. The company has also helped their clients to make their workplaces COVID-secure in the current pandemic by conducting Covid inspections, supplying Covid Risk assessments and developing electronic Covid compliance Apps.

from construction, large law firms, manufacturing, retail to watchmakers and cleaning companies, and is aiming to double revenues in the next couple of years. The company’s success has been built upon its unwavering commitment to providing

“In difficult economic times like these, it seems that the first things that get cut back are those that don't appear to produce a profit. With experience as the head of safety of a large financial institution, I found that good health and safety saved money, which equals profit. Companies of all sizes should have in place a competent qualified person to offer health and safety advice; this is a legal requirement. If hiring a health and safety manager is out of the question or impractical, the answer is to hire a local health and safety consultant such as EC Safety Solutions. This eliminates the costs of paying for a multitude of staff costs, such as a desk, a

Person behind the business company car, pension, holidays and sickness absence.” EC Safety Solutions now has five staff and aims to recruit more in the coming months. Training director Steven Waterman joined the company almost five years ago and has extensive experience in construction safety. He believes that companies of all sizes are starting to take legal compliance more seriously. He says: “A lot of smaller firms are keen on compliance because they have to demonstrate it when tendering for work. The challenge is to continually keep abreast of regulatory changes and that’s where we can help. We’ve developed a suite of online apps and a secure online safety portal where each client can access their information specifically related to their field of work. The portal serves as a one stop shop and details what services are due and sends out timely reminders to each client such as fire alarm servicing, Legionella testing, accreditation expiry dates, training requirements as well as holding the company’s current policies and procedures. The portal also has embedded links to allow clients and their staff to complete electronic Display Screen Assessments either from the office or home working, electronic office Covid compliance reports, staff inductions as well as electronic accident reporting forms. The unique aspect of the apps is that once complete they automatically send a copy to the user, the office manager and are stored within the clients portal for future reference to prove compliance. “Every organisation is different, which is why we don’t offer an off-the-shelf suite of services. We understand what’s required for a particular organisation and then find the solution that’s unique to them. “We win client work on the back of word-of-mouth referrals. Whilst the current trading environment is challenging for many organisations due to COVID-19, we have a solid client base and we remain optimistic and confident about our future growth prospects.”

Today EC Safety Solutions works with clients across the globe,

Thinking Business


£53m bid looks to About Donations strengthen Kent economy With A Difference

As the world wrestles with the health and economic implications of COVID-19, proposals to speed up the delivery of new medicines and strengthen digital skills in Kent have been submitted to the government. area’s economic growth and build on Kent’s life science expertise.

Donations With A Difference (DWAD) is a charitable grant-making trust (reg. charity no. 1157927) that works to alleviate physical impairment, poor mental health, and homelessness in Kent by providing equipment to children and adults that wouldn’t always be available on the NHS. We run many events and competitions throughout the year to raise money to fund our grants – Golf Days, Charity Cocktail Making, Charity Ball and many more.

The project is led by a not-for-profit consortium, involving Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN), LGC through its National Measurement Laboratory, and Discovery Park in Sandwich, which was recently named a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone by the government.

The Accelerated Medicines Design and Development (AMDD) project has been widely welcomed after a bid totalling £53m was submitted to the Strength in Places Fund. If the AMDD bid is successful, it will secure a contribution of £25m from the project’s partners to drive the

By harnessing the latest technological solutions, including groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis, the project will create a world-first digital design studio at Discovery Park. The studio’s digital technology will focus on ways to potentially

accelerate the delivery of new medicines and treatments to improve health outcomes for patients by accessing the combined expertise of locallybased life science companies. The AMDD bid also includes a digital skills hub, a Kent & Medway data trust, and a venture fund to support the development of new technologies and ideas generated. It is supported by Pfizer, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent. Melissa Ream, digital and AI consultant at KSS AHSN, who led the bid team, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and the global search for vaccines demonstrates the importance of developing ways to reduce the time to design, develop and manufacture new medicines. “By harnessing the power of data and advanced digital tools, it may be possible to develop sophisticated treatments, ensure their efficacy and get them to the NHS faster.”

In 2019 we celebrated 5 years with a birthday ball and throughout the year raised over £34K of a total raised of £146K since our inception. With your help, we aim to continue generating grants to those in Kent that need our help. With all our trustees being volunteers, every penny raised at functions and events goes to the charity to help others. If you feel you can help us achieve this by doing something different, please get in touch at theteam@dwad.org If you know someone who would benefit from a grant for a piece of equipment please visit our website – www.dwad.org and complete the grant application form, we meet monthly to assess the applications. We look forward to continuing our work and we are delighted to be associated with the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

46 Thinking Business

New COVID-19 screening service launches at Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport and ExpressTest, a division of Cignpost Diagnostics, has announced the opening of a new COVID-19 screening centre. Located within the airport’s Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal, the centre will offer a fast and accurate and lab-analysed PCR swab test. It will be available to passengers, employees based at Gatwick and the general public, including local residents. The facility is aimed at air passengers who may require a valid, negative COVID-19 test certificate for destinations requiring one from up to 96 hours before travel, with passengers needing to check with travel providers that the test meets the specific requirements that destinations ask for. It will also

help those who may simply want extra assurance that they are not currently carrying the virus. The facility could also, with any necessary amendments, satisfy requirements of the government’s expected “test and release” post-arrival scheme, allowing air passengers to reduce quarantine time required after travelling back from certain destinations. Anyone with recognisable COVID-19 symptoms will still need to use an NHS testing facility. Air passengers and any employees based at Gatwick Airport will be charged a subsidised rate of £60 to use the screening service, whilst it will also be available to the general public for £99.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer at Gatwick Airport, said: “Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year. Our new screening facility is also a convenient service for people in the region looking for extra reassurance.” ExpressTest founder Nick Markham said: “We are delighted to be Gatwick airport’s official screening partner. In the next couple of months, we aim to have more than 30 locations operating across the UK, with the ambition of giving the British public the confidence to go about their daily lives in these uncertain times.” For more information and to book a test visit www.expresstest.co.uk

Future-proof your business success While normality may be on the horizon, many of us are still working remotely or with restrictions in place. What’s more, the world around us has changed and has forced changes to how we do business. Although there will be some travel back to ‘normal’, I think it’s clear that some, perhaps most, of that change is here to stay. Technology and digital tools have become more important than ever for us to work and communicate effectively. The laptop has gone from being a tool in the office to being, for many of us, the entire office.

All that willingness to work differently means now is the time to look to the future and enable

your business success, not just for now, but for the long-term. Digital Transformation is a vital ingredient when looking at evolving your business. The term Digital Transformation can be a little misleading: it isn’t just about digital, it’s about how to enable people, communication and relationships in business to be more effective and productive. In my role I help our clients to flesh out their strategy by focusing on three key areas: • Goals. What do you want your business to achieve? What’s the grand vision and how will you get there? • Technology. What technology do you have and how can it be used more effectively? You don’t necessarily need to invest in new technology or software. Often it is a case of configuring the technology you have now and getting the most out of it.

Business News • Transformation. How can we work together to make the changes needed? That could be anything from creating apps, analysing processes, running workshops, all the way up to consulting on large-scale projects and programs. That can mean improvements to business process, such as digitising inventory management or time management and billing, improving customer experiences, optimising how data is used, and harnessing the cloud to create efficiency while making business information available everywhere, all the time, on laptops, tablets and mobiles. Business Transformation consulting is about people. We are a partner in defining strategies for business and technology, developing forwardthinking ideas and creating a clear competitive edge. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help you to transform your business for success. You can call me directly on 01892 337573, or email me NEllis@select-technology.co.uk

Maxim marks major milestone A Tunbridge Wells public relations and marketing agency is celebrating a landmark 25 years in business. Maxim, which was founded in 1995, has grown to become an established part of Kent’s business community, with strong links to the region’s media and stakeholders. Director Philip Jones, who founded the agency with business partner Andrew Metcalf, said: “For obvious reasons, we didn’t get to mark our 25th year as we’d intended, but we are incredibly proud to have got to this milestone. “When Andrew and I founded Maxim, we knew our understanding of marketing, local government and the media, combined with our in-depth knowledge of Kent and the broader south east, was a valuable proposition. However, if you’d told us then that one day we’d be celebrating our quarter century, I’m not sure I’d have believed you!”

With a background in economic development and knowledge of the Kent political landscape, Maxim quickly established a reputation for advising clients on major investments and planning applications.

“It is also important that we have forged strong relationships with a range of suppliers and that we have such good relations with the media, founded on mutual respect.”

From the start, the pair wanted the agency to have an ethos of treating clients, journalists, colleagues and suppliers with respect.

In recognition of the role of local media, in 2015 Maxim launched the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards (KPBA), an initiative that has gone from strength to strength with highprofile sponsors, expert judges, well-known guest speakers and around 150 entries a year.

Andrew added: “It’s an approach that has worked well for us. We are very lucky that some exceptionally talented people have come to work for us, and that our clients have been so loyal – in one case still with us after more than 24 years.

Visit www.maxim-pr.co.uk to find out more.

Hundreds of new jobs secured for Ashford Hundreds of new jobs are heading for Ashford after the local council backed proposals for a multi-million pound investment in a logistics and distribution centre. GSE Group’s detailed planning application for a £34m distribution centre immediately off the A2070 at Waterbrook Park has been approved by Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee. Darrell Healey, Chairman of GSE Group, said: “This is an important decision for Ashford as it will create much-needed jobs at a time of economic uncertainty which has seen local unemployment rise significantly during the current Covid-19 pandemic. “Waterbrook Park, close to junctions 10 and 10a and earmarked as a major site for jobs in Ashford, offers the perfect location for distribution businesses. Work can now get started on the building and ensure Ashford is best placed for when the economy starts to pick up.” The 7.5-hectare site already had outline planning permission as well as excellent transport links, with the occupier now able to bring forward its plans to create hundreds of jobs in a variety of warehousing, distribution, logistics, office and maintenance roles. Having listened to the views of local residents and councillors, GSE Group made a number of design changes to enhance the landscaping and visual impact of the building. By turning the proposed building by 180 degrees, HGV traffic will enter the site via Clover Road, and not Arrowhead Lane as originally proposed. Additional window with a solar shading system has been incorporated into the exterior design of the building, and significantly more space has been provided for landscaping along Waterbrook Avenue and the northern elevation adjacent to the A2070. GSE Group is a family-run business based at Willesborough that employs 400 people and has a more than 30-year track record of delivering major civil engineering projects and high-quality developments across Kent.

Thinking Business


New Members

Welcome to our new members A & P Tech Ltd

Beckenham 07412 643659 www.aptech.uk Trading of Industrial Spare Parts

Action COACH

Hastings, Tunbridge Wells 01892 234200 www.hastings.actioncoach.co.uk Business Coaching and Business Growth Specialists

AHE Nursing Specialist Gillingham 01634 786616 aheservicesltd.co.uk Healthcare Recruitment

Amakari Services

Ashford 07468 413000 www.amakariseservices.com Accounting and Business Advisory

Aspen Waite South East Ltd

Cranden Diamond Products Ltd

Cranbrook 01580 241252 www.cranden.com Manufacturers of Precision Diamond and CBN Grinding Wheels

CurlyEllie Limited Sevenoaks 01732 920391 www.curlyellie.com Retail Manufacturer of Custom Crafted Plantbased Haircare Products Donations With A Difference

Canterbury 07813 050014 www.dwad.org Working to Alleviate Physical Impairment, Poor Mental Health & Homelessness in Kent

Economic Energy

Gillingham 07736 364688 www.economic-energy.com Energy Consultant

Deal 07813 972686 www.aspenwaite.co.uk Providing Complete Business Growth Service

Elite VPA

Biobest UK Ltd

Ensure Environmental Consulting Ltd

Ashford 01233 367167 www.biobestgroup.com Crop Production

Clockwork Moggy Ltd

Chatham 020 7550 9350 www.clockworkmoggy.com Branding/Web Design/Graphic Design/ Illustration

Copier Doctor Ltd

Strood 01634 710888 www.design-shack.uk Office Equipment Supplier

48 Thinking Business

Herne Bay 01227 206213 Personal Assistant

Faversham 07772 096744 www.ensureenvironmental.co.uk Environmental Consultancy

Eunistar Health Consultant UK Ltd

Frogman Facilities Management Ltd Sheerness-on-Sea 07901 504085 www.frogmanfm.co.uk Plumbing, Legionella Testing, Painting, Landscaping, Steampunk Designs

Gabriel Chemie UK Ltd

Paddock Wood 01892 831858 gabriel-chemie.com Manufacture of Plastic Products

Gooey Digital Ltd

Canterbury 07468 537801 www.gooeydigital.co.uk Digital Marketing Agency

Gym and Fitness Equipment Suppliers Ltd West Malling 07724 742202 www.gymandfitnessequipment.co.uk Import/Export/Retail/Wholesale

HV Wooding Ltd

Hythe 01303 236538 www.hvwooding.co.uk Wire Products, Chain and Spring

Jon Whitworth Mediation

Gillingham 01634 575249 eunistarhealthconsultants.co.uk Healthcare Provider

Deal 07971 843625 Website under construction Civil & Commercial Mediation

Exam Dividers LLP

Kent Business Consultants Ltd

Deal 01304 728188 edividers.co.uk Exam Dividers for Online Tests, Internal & External Exams

Maidstone 01622 813836 www.kent-consultants.co.uk Business Consultants

New Members



Kent Cricket Direct Ltd

SLS Wills and More Ltd

KH Homes Ltd


Tunbridge Wells 01892 516195 www.kentcricketdirect.co.uk Sports Retail

Maidstone 01634 541000 www.khhomes.co.uk Serviced Accommodation Provider

Canterbury 01304 577998 www.slswillsandmore.co.uk Legal services

Deal 07740 674441 www.smartercoffee.co.uk Health and Wellbeing Supplements

Kingsnorth Parish Council Ashford 01233 502969 www.kingsnorthparishcouncil.gov.uk Parish Council

Social Enterprise Kent CIC

Laura Cloke Career Fulfilment Coaching


Maidstone 07828 239083 www.lauracloke.com Coaching

MD Diagnostics Ltd

Maidstone 01622 682686 www.mdd.org.uk Manufacturer and Retailer of Medical Equipment

Ashford 01227 469970 www.sekgroup.org.uk Training Course Provider

Ashford 01233 423232 www.soho-ergonomics.com Home Office Furniture Supplier

South East Water Snodland 01634 276097 www.southeastwater.co.uk Utility - Water Supply

Oakmore Green Ltd

Stag Coffee

Ashford 01233 332405 www.oakmoregreen.com Garden Designer

Ashford 01233 611707 www.stag-coffee.com Coffee House/Restaurant

Procurement Dimensions Ltd

Story 22 Ltd

Dover 07563 613945 www.procurementdimensions.com Procurement

Whitstable 07414 903868 www.story22.co.uk Full Service Global Marketing Agency

Ruth Ferreira Coaching

Stowe Family Law LLP

Tunbridge Wells 07817 306202 successcoaching.biz Consultancy

Sevenoaks 01732 498087 www.stowefamilylaw.co.uk/offices/sevenoaks Solicitors, Legal, Family Law

Connect Strata Construction Group Ltd

Aylesford 03332 300208 www.strata-online.com Refurbishment, Fit Out, Planned & Reactive Maintenance, Storage & Logistics

The Gastronomist Club Ashford 07817 270005 www.thegastronomistclub.com Restaurant

Triple E Ltd Biggin Hill 01959 528193 www.3-eee.com Engineering Unita 4

Ashford 07817 270005 www.unita4.com Italian Restaurant

Vernacular Homes Ltd Ashford 01233 861177 www.vernacularhomes.com Design & Build

Worths of London Sheerness 01795 227654 www.worthsoflondon.com Jewellery Store WW Fashion Ltd T/A AG Plado West Wickham 07712 673715 www.agplado.com Tailors, Clothes Store, Barbers

Thinking Business


Last Word Martin Whiskin Martin Whiskin Voiceover Voiceover artist What was your first job and what was the pay packet? My first job was working in John Menzies in Sittingbourne and the pay was a rather splendid £1.75 an hour. This was made even better by the generous 5% staff discount. What do you always carry with you to work? A bit of extra weight around the middle. What is the biggest challenge facing your business? A Virgin Media router. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business? I’ve often thought about this and I can sum it up perfectly in 3 words – Free Hotdog Fridays. What can you see from your office window? A small segment of my garden, including not one, but two watering cans. And a water butt. If you could do another job what would it be? A foley artist – creating sound effects for TV, films and video games. It’s such an intriguing career. As a business person, what are your three main qualities? Drive, dedication, determination. And as a fourth, knowing lots of words that begin with D. What was your biggest mistake in business? Fill in the blank. “Trying to be somebody I’m not. It took me quite a while to realise I should just be myself and let my ________ personality shine through.” What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Set a goal and every single day do something that works towards that. Who do you most admire in business? After a recent Chamber event, it has to be John Waddy from The Kentish Soap Company. Not only a great product, but an ethos we should all try to follow. BIO: I’m a voice over artist working from my professional studio in the beating heart of Kent (Sittingbourne). Mainly working in corporate, commercial and telephony, my work also takes me into video games, virtual reality, apps, anime, short films, podcasts, toys and games and events. If you want to connect effectively with your customers, I’d love to talk.

50 Thinking Business

Movers and Shakers

CooperBurnett expands with double appointment Tunbridge Wellsbased law firm, CooperBurnett, has strengthened its commercial property and residential property teams with two new appointments. Experienced commercial property lawyer, Alexandra Burnaby, has joined the firm as a senior associate. She acts for a wide variety of clients including financial institutions, developers, investors and occupiers, particularly within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. CooperBurnett’s well regarded and busy residential property department

has also expanded with the addition of conveyancing executive Emma Howse. She brings wide experience to the team, providing a quality service, managing client expectations and maintaining professional relationships with agents, lenders and referrers. Joseph Oates, partner and head of contentious services at CooperBurnett, said: “People are surprised to hear that we are recruiting at this time but many of our practice areas are currently extremely busy. Also, as we head towards our 40th anniversary this year, we are dedicated to continuing to invest in our team.” Alexandra said: “CooperBurnett is a fantastic firm that I have come across in the past and I have

always been impressed with the dedication they show to their clients. Although I’ve only been here a short time, I have felt very welcomed. The corporate and commercial team holds regular team meetings and has a truly collegiate approach to the way they work.” Emma said: “The firm is really wellrespected and has always been at the forefront of innovation with conveyancing. I was also drawn to CooperBurnett due to its good staff retention; team members seem to stay here, which isn’t always the same at other firms.” For more information visit www.cooperburnett.com

Kreston Reeves crowned Large Firm of the Year Accountancy, business and financial advice expert Kreston Reeves has been named Large Firm of the Year at the prestigious annual Accounting Excellence Awards.

The judges praised Kreston Reeves’ strong performance during an exceptionally challenging year and its efforts in growing the breadth and depth of services offered to clients.

the “firm is successfully growing the breadth and depth of services, with a clear focus on the challenge of rebuilding post-COVID while posting very strong growth figures. Kreston Reeves obviously values the future as much as it values the day-to-day”.

Kreston Reeves fought off stiff competition from some of the UK’s largest accountancy firms to win the award, which it also won in 2018.

Nigel Fright, managing partner at Kreston Reeves, said: “This award is worthy external recognition of all the effort and sacrifice that everyone at Kreston Reeves continues to make as we work through the personal, professional and organisational challenges brought by COVID and now Brexit.”

In giving the award, the Accounting Excellence judges said Kreston Reeves “stood out in a strong field”. They added that

Andrew Griggs, senior partner at Kreston Reeves, added: “We are exceptionally proud of the way everyone has supported their clients

and each other in a difficult year. This award is for everyone that makes Kreston Reeves the firm it is today.”

Kreston Reeves has seen turnover increase by 64% since 2016. It has grown a network of offices across London, Kent and Sussex and played a key role in the Kreston International network of more than 200 accountancy firms across 110 countries. The firm recently introduced a new growth advisory service to support fast-growing businesses, launched dedicated COVID-19 and Brexit hubs, created a charitable foundation and developed further its award-winning training and development programme. For more information visit www.krestonreeves.com

Kent agency Pillory Barn makes new senior hire Kent marketing and digital agency Pillory Barn has welcomed Sinead Hanna to its team as strategic communications director.

Founded in 1993, Pillory Barn works with public and private sector organisations across the UK to help them tell their brand stories, attract inward investment and advance their business profile through compelling, sharable content. Despite the considerable challenges of 2020 and the global pandemic, Pillory Barn has been able to consolidate and deliver growth through its established portfolio of clients. Managing director Miranda Chapman took the decision to invest in a new hire to build resilience

in resource as the UK starts the planned vaccination programme and businesses step up their plans for recovery.

Sinead brings to the agency more than 15 years’ experience as a communications and content strategist and will lead the communications and content team as the industry gears up for opportunities and challenges in 2021. A Kent native, she started her career as a journalist and news editor before moving into public sector communications with Ashford Borough Council and former quango Ashford’s Future. She went on to revitalise the digital content strategy and PR output at Visit Kent, securing significant national and international press coverage for the county and the organisation’s roster of members.

Sinead also spent 18 months as senior brand, communications and content manager at Dreamland Margate. Sinead said: “I am delighted to be joining Pillory Barn for 2021. I have worked with Miranda and the Pillory Barn team many times over the years as a client and have always been impressed by the breadth of their knowledge and their incredible client service. No other agency in Kent knows the B2B and public sector landscape better.” Miranda said: “Our agency has previously worked with Sinead on a number of projects and she’s a brand fit for us. Her focus on delivering results through creative thinking and strategic planning are first class and our team and clients will benefit from her significant experience.”

Copy Deadline: News items for the April-May issue to be submitted by 5th March.

Ecological Consultants for Planners, Developers and Architects To support and enhance our natural environment

WE ASSIST WITH: > Protected species surveys > Mitigation strategies > Impact assessments > Management plans > Ecological surveys > Tree surveys > Planning advice > Species relocation

01227 806547 fellgrove.co.uk

Law firms don’t solve problems, people do.

Bromley 020 8290 0440

London 020 8290 0440

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Sevenoaks 01732 496 496


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Thinking Business Kent Invicta Chamber Feb 2021  

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

Thinking Business Kent Invicta Chamber Feb 2021  

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

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