Thinking Business Kent June 24

Page 1


Opens for entry 10 June. See page 42

Embracing digital transformation for business growth

n The Big Interview: Adrian Bryant, Managing Director, ADM Computing p16

n Skills: T-Levels transform education p20

n International Trade p36

n Chamber Events p40

n New Members p48

Chamber Business Awards
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Welcome to the latest edition of Thinking Business magazine.

As a business community, we are forward-thinking and collaborative and both are clearly illustrated in this edition. Our cover feature looks at how innovative technology is transforming business.

Keeping ahead of the game is crucial to all businesses and we are all more mindful of our green policies. Adrian Bryant talks to Thinking Business on

Forward thinking and collaborative

p.16-17 about why keeping ahead of technology is key to the success of his 40-year-old business, ADM Computing. He also shares his passion for the environment. He is an inspiration to other businesses looking to improve their green polices.

T-Level qualifications have been tailored to meet the demands of today’s workforce to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills. On p.20-21, Camilla Maurice from LSIP gives a full rundown of all you need to know about T-Levels and how they can benefit your workforce.

It is positive to see an improvement in import and export volumes as global demand slowly recovers, according to the latest ONS Trade figures published in April. The global political picture continues to have a strong bearing on international trade and we will have to see how projected growth is affected in the year ahead.

We are proud to announce that our chosen Chamber Charity Partner of the Year this year is Hypo Hounds. Hypo Hounds is a diabetic alert assistance dog charity which trains dogs to detect and alert their Type 1 diabetic owner or their family to dangerous changes in their blood sugars. These specially trained dogs can help prevent lifethreatening hypoglycaemic attacks (hypos) which result from low blood sugar levels. Diabetic alert dogs can

also be trained to detect potential episodes of hyperglycaemia (hypers) when blood sugar levels are too high. Hypo Hounds services are focused on children and the dogs enable them to gain independence and freedom. We enjoyed a delicious meal of Kent produce – as well as wines from Biddenden Vineyards – for the Kent Business Leaders Dinner held in the Darwin Conference Suite at the University of Kent. We are thrilled that eight Patrons have continued in their role from last year and are joined by two new Patrons, Flowbird Ltd and Smurfit Kappa Recycling. Thank you for your commitment to the Chamber for the coming year. Our Patrons for 2024/25 are Ashford Borough Council, Brachers LLP, Caxtons Property Consultants, Flowbird Ltd, MHA, MidKent College, Smurfit Kappa Recycling, Stagecoach South East, Towergate Insurance Brokers and the University of Kent. There are a couple of events coming up in the autumn to mark on your calendars.

First, the Kent Construction EXPO will be held on Thursday, 3rd October at Kent Event Centre in Detling. Bringing together the Kent and South East construction community for more than 10 years, this year’s EXPO’s topics include digital construction, sustainability, the Building Safety Act and procurement.

And, on Thursday, 21st November, the Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2024 will be held at Westenhanger Castle, Hythe. Keep an eye on our website as our Business Awards open for entry on 10th June. For further information see p.42.

The Awards are the most prestigious and popular event on the Chamber calendar and are an opportunity to showcase the talent and resilience of businesses and individuals in Kent. There are many reasons to enter but to name a few, they are a chance to showcase your achievements, raise your business profile, boost staff morale and are a powerful PR and marketing tool. You also receive an engraved glass trophy and certificate to display.

A huge thank you to our sponsors this year. Your support is invaluable.

Enjoy reading the magazine and I look forward to seeing you all at a Chamber event soon.

Tudor Price Chief Executive, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

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. © 2024. Please note that submitting an article does not guarantee publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability

Thinking Business 3 Welcome & Contents Our Patrons 4 Chamber News 5 Legal Update 8-9 Members News 10-11 Patron News 12-13-15 Members News 16-17 The Big Interview 18-19 Members News 20-23 Skills 24-31 Cover Feature –Technology 32 Patron Tech Comment 33-34 Members News 35 Property 36-37 International Trade 38 Ask the Expert 39 Economy 40-41 Chamber Events 42 Business Awards 43 Kent Construction Expo 44 Membership Benefits 48-49 New Members 50 Last Word 50 Chamber News Editorial and General Enquiries Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Chief Executive: Tudor Price Tel: 01233 503 838 Media No. 2019 Published June 2024 © Benham Publishing Publisher Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Advertising and Features Karen Hall Tel: 0151 236 4141 Editor Sarah Dale Tel: 0151 236 4141 Production Manager Mark Etherington Tel: 0151 236 4141 Disclaimer Thinking Business is published for Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and is distributed without charge to Chamber members. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at Kent Invicta
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. Cover image: Pixabay
36 Contents 16 10 22

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce announces Hypo Hounds as their 2024-25 Charity of the Year

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce has chosen to support Hypo Hounds as their Chosen Charity of the Year. As Kent’s leading business support organisation, the Chamber will help raise much needed awareness and support through its members across the County.

There are 29,000 children in the UK living with Type 1 Diabetes. It is still within the top 5 causes of paediatric death in the UK and is not related to lifestyle choices, there is no known cause and no cure. Hypo Hounds supports families with children living with the condition and trains specialist assistance dogs to alert to the fluctuating changes in the child’s blood sugar levels preventing the child from collapsing, or even worse!

Their Assistance Dogs provide a vital lifeline of independence for these children and their families, clinically, mentally and emotionally.

Jane Pearman , Chief Executive for Hypo Hounds, said: “We do that by training specialist assistance dogs to improve lives.

We are the only UK charity dedicated to providing this area of expertise for children with access to continuous glucose monitoring systems and our dogs work alongside technology to provide a holistic approach to Diabetic care”

“We have our National Training Centre based in Maidstone, Kent where our amazing training team conduct the training of these amazing dogs and where we offer other services such as counselling, respite care and support for parents, siblings and care givers”

“We receive no government funding and we are completely reliant on donations from our supporters to fund all of this work, which is why we are so grateful to have been chosen as charity of the year by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.”

“As a member of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce ourselves we would like to say a big Thank You to everyone involved. We are so excited to be working with you all and bringing our puppies along to meet you all in the year ahead.”

Tudor Price, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this incredibly worthy cause as our Chamber Charity of the Year. The work undertaken by Hypo Hounds makes such a difference to those young people not able to help themselves as they get to grips with this challenging condition. We look forward to supporting them in the coming months and helping them to reach more young people in need.”

Visit for more information.

As a member of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce ourselves we would like to say a big Thank You to everyone involved. We are so excited to be working with you all and bringing our puppies along to meet you all in the year ahead. ❜❜
4 Thinking Business Chamber News

How Businesses Can Harness the Use of Artificial Intelligence in 2024

Following the release of ChatGPT in November 2023, the buzz around generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has begun to settle. Nevertheless, the broader landscape surrounding AI continues to rapidly change.

2023 saw businesses grappling with how AI-powered solutions work and what the implications would be across different industries. By comparison, 2024 is emerging as the year where many of us have a more refined understanding of the current capabilities of generative AI. For example, businesses are able to focus on how to practically implement such AI-powered solutions.

Here are some of the top emerging global business trends we expect to see continuing to gather pace throughout 2024: Multimodal AI

AI continues to develop and improve with AI systems now capable of progressing multiple types of data simultaneously (known as multimodal AI). In short, multimodal AI works by combining different types of media (such as text, images, and video), enabling applications like image captioning, video summarisation and more interactive chatbots. Such a key development is of practical benefit to many businesses who are looking to utilise such technology to enhance customer experiences and streamline operations.

Smaller Language Models and Open-Source Advancements

Open-source language models have made significant strides over the last year. With the assistance of fine-tuning techniques from the online community, they are now capable of outperforming proprietary models, despite having smaller parameter counts. This advancement represents a key opportunity for businesses, empowering them to build their own custom AI-powered solutions without the need to rely on large corporations.

Smarter Virtual Agents

AI-powered virtual agents continue to become smarter and more competent at handling customer inquiries, automating repetitive tasks and provide personalised recommendations. Businesses that have incorporated the use of virtual agents into their customer facing operations are seeing an increasing benefit and drive in revenue growth from the enhanced customer support and efficiency generated from the implementation of such technology.

Shadow AI

Businesses also need to be mindful how employees’ use of AI aligns with their own corporate policies, to mitigate the rise of ‘shadow AI’. In short, shadow AI occurs when employees start exploring AI solutions without approval or oversight and faster than a cautious company policy on AI might permit. Although this could be seen as a display of resourcefulness and initiative, the unofficial use of AI also poses potential risks to businesses from a legal, regulatory, economic, and reputational standpoint.

Tel: 01233 664711


With 2024 seeing an increase in how easily accessible generative AI technologies are in terms of availability and use, if they have not already done so (or been requested by their insurers to do) businesses should consider the implementation of robust and coherent generative AI use policies. Such policies should not only be under periodical review, but also factor in scope and flexibility to enable businesses to maximise the benefits of AI whilst, mitigating its inherent risks.

GPU Shortages and Cloud Costs

More broadly, as AI adoption continues to increase, so too does the demand for computational resources. As a result of GPU (Graphics Processing Units) shortages and the rising cost of cloud-based solutions, businesses do need to be conscious as to how AI workloads are optimised and consider hybrid solutions, to manage expenses as efficiently as possible.

“AI is a tool. The choice about how it gets deployed is ours.” – Oren Etzioni, Professor Emeritus of computer science.

The implementation of AI technology continues to be one that varies between businesses and across sectors. One thing is clear, 2024 is shaping up to be an exciting year of opportunity for businesses looking to make the most of the advancements in AI technology.

Whilst businesses should keep in mind that AI is a tool, and as such, its success depends on how well its functionality aligns with an organisation’s business goals and ethical values. By monitoring the emerging trends and staying flexible with their approach to the adoption of AI technologies, businesses can remain at the forefront of new opportunities for growth, efficiency, and innovation.

Thinking Business 5 Legal Update
Let us take you in the right direction... When it comes to financial advice, it’s important to find someone you can trust. For the past 33 years we have been providing unbiased, holistic financial planning advice to clients and businesses across Kent. We are proud of our success, our independence, and our reputation of being a friendly, professional practice. Folkestone Office: 01303 273 273 Maidstone Office: 01622 238 230 Authorised and Regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority

PLANNING AHEAD for Retirement

The FAS team look at pension income options and provide an insight into some important pre-retirement decision making.

Major financial decisions taken during our lifetime tend to have an impact on our financial wellbeing. However, invariably the most crucial decisions need to be made when we approach retirement, as actions taken at this time can have lifelong implications. This is where tailored and personal advice on the options open can prove highly beneficial when navigating the best way forward.

Pension Options

As we head towards the end of our working lives, thoughts naturally turn to the level of income that we can look forward to in retirement, and pensions are likely to form a substantial part of your income when retired.

The full rate new State Pension is now £221.20 a week, although you will need to have accrued 35 years of qualifying National insurance Contributions to receive this amount. It is worth checking your State Pension record with the Department for Work and Pensions, as this can identify any gaps in your record that could be filled before reaching State Pension Age. This is currently 66 but will rise to 67 for those born after April 1960, with a further increase to age 68 between 2044 and 2046.

Many individuals prefer not to work until State Pension Age, and this is where careful planning at an early stage can help you assess your options and make best use of private and workplace pensions accrued during your lifetime, which could, in turn, make earlier retirement feasible.

Taking the time to review existing pension arrangements at an early stage can help identify poor performing investment funds, or recognise opportunities to increase pension savings, which could boost the end value of the pension plan as you reach retirement.

It could also provide an opportunity to consolidate and rearrange plans, if appropriate, to benefit from cost savings or access to the widest range of options when retired.

When taking a defined contribution pension, it is usually the case that 25% of the value will be available as Tax-Free Cash. This is the first of many decisions that need to be reached. Some may decide to use the Tax-Free Cash payment to cover existing debts or pay for discretionary expenditure. Some plans allow you to draw Tax-Free Cash over time rather than in a single payment. Depending on the retirement strategy adopted, this could be an effective way of generating a tax-efficient “income” through regular Tax-Free Cash payments.

Deciding on how to draw an income in retirement is a key decision that can be daunting. Many choose a Drawdown approach, where the pension fund remains invested, and income is drawn flexibly to suit your needs and objectives. If funds remain invested after you die, these can normally be paid to a nominated beneficiary, extending the life of the pot.

The risk with Drawdown is that the invested pension fund may be fully depleted during your lifetime, and this is where regular reviews of the investment performance and amount of income drawn are important.

Purchasing an annuity, where the remaining pension is exchanged for a guaranteed income for life, is an option that some prefer, given that this provides a degree of certainty. The downside is that the purchase of a lifetime annuity cannot be reversed, and therefore careful consideration of the benefits and drawbacks need to be considered.

The final option is to take out the pension value as a single or series of lump sum payments. Taking this option is rarely sensible, as it will leave no ongoing pension income, and could potentially lead to adverse tax consequences.

Other Income sources

Pension income can be built from several sources, and whilst pensions form most of the retirement income for many, other income streams can help support ongoing living expenses. Some may hold property that is rented out, whilst others may hold existing investment accounts outside of a pension.

Undertaking a review of such investment plans could prove beneficial in determining whether an income stream can be generated. Finally, some continue to work past their normal retirement age, or look to adopt a phased retirement approach of gradually reducing hours, whilst building up pension income slowly.

No substitute for personal advice

Technology assists in many areas of our lives, and none more so than in financial services. When it comes to financial planning, however, we would contend that technology is no substitute for individual and personal advice. Each individual’s circumstances, needs and objectives are different, and other variables, such as your attitude to investment risk and personal preferences, are key factors in reaching the right decision for you.

When considering your retirement plans, seeking independent and tailored financial planning advice at an early stage is therefore advisable.

© Financial Advice and Services Ltd 2024

Thinking Business 7 Advertising Feature
The content of this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice. It is for general information only and should not be relied upon when making any financial planning decisions. You should always obtain professional independent advice based on your circumstances. Financial Advice & Services Limited, Independent Financial Advisers, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Wedding planners with a difference join Chamber

Boutique Weddings Kent has recently joined the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

Jonathan Sawyers, who set up and owns the company, lives near Margate and has worked in the weddings and events industry for a number of years. Anita Lewis, of Deal, will be working alongside Jonathan as the Venues and Suppliers Manager. Both Anita and Jonathan have been members of the Chamber with other companies.

Jonathan was keen to join the Chamber with Boutique Weddings Kent due to his awareness of the wealth of help and support available, and the benefits the regular networking events can bring.

Boutique Weddings Kent is proud to be offering something new to the area, with exclusive use of locations not normally accessible for weddings, hosted within historical buildings or private grounds and providing couples with a beautiful setting in which to hold their wedding.

Current venues available include a historic 12th century refectory set within Dover College’s grounds, Chartham Vineyard with its wooden beamed barn and pretty courtyard, and The Pines Gardens and Pines Calyx in St Margaret’s Bay with sea views.

The company’s wedding team can provide a fully planned day, with styled tableware and decor, a licensed bar, a dance floor and a full host of staff. It has partnerships with chefs and creates menus based around seasonal locally sourced produce, whilst drawing from a selection of independent local vineyards, brewers and distillers for its drinks offerings.

For more information, see Discounts are available to Chamber members, family and friends.

Hospital marks a decade of care

KIMS Hospital is celebrating 10 years as the largest independent hospital in Kent.

KIMS hospital welcomed its first patient in April 2014 and has continued to grow into a thriving business across multiple locations.

The hospital opened Sevenoaks Medical Centre in 2020 as part of its mission to provide affordable, quality healthcare across Kent, and in 2021, was acquired by LycaHealth, to join their diagnostic centre and Joint Advisory Group (JAG) accredited endoscopy centre in Orpington, and diagnostic centre in Canary Wharf.

Dr Prema Subaskaran, Executive Chairperson at KIMS Hospital and LycaHealth, said: “Our 10th anniversary marks a significant milestone for KIMS Hospital. Since opening, our mission has always been to place our patients at the heart of everything we do, a commitment our outstanding clinical and administrative teams work tirelessly to deliver.

“I am excited about the future of KIMS Hospital. We have ambitious plans to expand to more locations, become an Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence, and will continue to invest in technological and digital transformation, especially in robotics. We are also about to open a second Cath Lab within our state-of-the-art Cardiology Centre.”

In 2023, KIMS Hospital became the first hospital in Kent to introduce the innovative Mako SmartRobotics system for hip and knee replacements. Since then it has also achieved the gold standard in patient safety with the Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP).

As well as looking after their patients, the team at KIMS Hospital and Sevenoaks Medical Centre have raised a total of more than £52,000 in the past 10 years for local charities, including Heart of Kent Hospice, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex and Holding On Letting Go, their current charity of the year. This has been achieved by organising hundreds of fundraising events, including staff completing the Three Peaks Challenge, walking from Maidstone to Whitstable, cycling to France and more.

During the Covid pandemic, the hospital treated patients within cancer services, cardiology, gynaecology, urology and colorectal services, supporting the NHS at a crucial time. Sevenoaks Medical Centre also opened its ground floor to the local Primary Care Network as a Covid vaccination site.

Richard Dimblebee, hospital Director, said:

“We’re so proud of the hard-working teams we have here at KIMS Hospital. The hospital has significantly grown in size over the past 10 years, and we couldn’t do it without them.

“We now boast more than 600 experienced staff who are committed to providing safe, outstanding quality care.”

KIMS Hospital offers more than 35 different specialties to NHS and private patients including orthopaedics, general surgery, cancer services and cardiology.

Think It Simple launches Tree-Planting Initiative to Offset Carbon Footprint

Think It Simple, a leading provider of innovative communication solutions, is proud to announce a major step in its commitment to environmental sustainability. Owner Joe Hitchings is spearheading a hands-on tree-planting initiative aimed at offsetting the company’s carbon footprint.

Recognising the urgent need to address climate change, Think It Simple is taking proactive measures to mitigate its environmental impact. Unlike traditional online carbon offsetting services, Joe Hitchings is personally leading the effort, planting 96 trees each quarter with his dedicated team.

The initiative focuses on local impact, with the chosen site in Marden, near Maidstone, serving as the canvas for this eco-friendly project. By planting indigenous tree species, Think It Simple not only offsets carbon but

also supports local biodiversity and ecosystem health. This initiative underscores the company’s dedication to sustainability and community engagement. For more information visit

Thinking Business Members News

Legal advice essential when providing for pets in wills

Already a nation of animal lovers, British households now have even more pets as a direct response to social isolation during the pandemic, according to figures.

The country now has 17 million pet-owning homes according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, with the recent boom in pet ownership driven by young people.

Although pet owners are increasingly including provisions to pay for the ongoing care of their furry friends in their wills if the worst were to happen, people are being urged to lend careful consideration to the complexities.

Sam Perry, Solicitor in Furley Page’s Private Client team, specialising in will drafting and estate planning, said: “For many people, pets are an important part of the family but providing for them in a will is not as straightforward as providing for other family members and it is important to get specialist advice to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

“Pets do not have a distinct legal personality and are technically belongings, but they sit in their own category between possessions and dependants and need to be considered carefully. There is a distinction between pets and livestock for the purpose of a will, with livestock treated as a

business asset under different rules. For pets, this means that you need to leave instructions about them in your will, and any financial provision you want to make for them cannot be a gift to the pet.

“You will need to consider what you wish to happen to your pet. including whether to leave them to a family member, friend or a re-homing organisation. You should think about any specific wishes you have, such as the type of home you would like them to go to and any way in which you would like them to be cared for. If your pet requires unusual care, or extensive facilities or land, this may need extra consideration when it comes to deciding who the best person is to care for your pet.

“You can also consider providing a financial sum to contribute towards the care of your pet including food, vet bills, and other such essential costs. While you cannot leave money directly to your pet, you could provide a monetary gift to the re-homing charity towards their operating costs or set up a bare trust to allow the person responsible for your pet’s care to use the funds for your pet’s benefit.

“Depending on the age of your pet and their likely lifespan, you can work out an appropriate level of funds to cover their remaining care. You can also specify details about how flexible you want to be with the terms under which trust funds can be spent, and any additional wishes you would like known about the care of your pet after you’re gone.”

To get in touch, visit

Top 10 key learnings over 10 years of creativity

As Kent-based creative partnership Howell & Hicks turns 10 this year, the company shares 10 things they’ve learned over that time:

1. It’s what you know. But it’s also who you know: We’re always networking and meeting people. It’s brought us some amazing clients. And some great friends.

2. Every day’s a school day: Despite decades of design industry experience, we’re constantly learning new creative tools and business techniques.

3. Always ask questions: It shows thorough thinking, helps save time and cost, and delivers better results.

4. Find quality collaborators: An extended network of talented creatives (e.g. The Creative Collective - is invaluable.

5. Canva and other free online tools aren’t business threats. They’re different ways to deliver professional design solutions. And generate extra revenue.

6. Trust our intuition: Early ‘red flags’ about clients/projects are often right!

7. Health and work-life balance: Prioritise and protect these over extra earnings.

8. Communicate with clients, past and present: Because we never know where the next project might come from, we try to stay in touch with clients, meeting and emailing them, contacting them for reviews, and featuring them in our newsletters and social posts.

9. We’re an unbeatable team: Design is a competitive sector, but H&H’s blend of experience, creative quality, client service and affordability, is actually really rare!

10. Year 10 looks like being our best: But we’d still love to help more businesses look their best, during 2024 and beyond. So, contact us today to discuss your next exciting creative project.

For more information visit:

Law firm partners with wildlife trust in boost for sustainability drive

Kent law firm Martin Tolhurst Solicitors has announced a new partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust, a wildlife charity dedicated to preserving the county’s natural heritage.

This collaboration builds upon Martin Tolhurst Solicitors’ existing green initiatives. Previously, the firm partnered with More Trees to plant trees for clients buying or selling homes, offsetting the carbon footprint associated with the moving process. Now, by joining forces with Kent Wildlife Trust, they aim to make an even greater positive impact.

“We are thrilled to partner with Kent Wildlife Trust,” said Andrew Ashley-Edwards, Partner at Martin Tolhurst Solicitors. “Their dedication to restoring wildlife and protecting Kent’s natural environment aligns perfectly with our values. This partnership allows us to further our commitment to sustainability while supporting a vital local organisation.”

As part of the collaboration, the solicitors will contribute to Kent Wildlife Trust’s crucial conservation work, ensuring the health and well-being of the county’s diverse ecosystems, with a particular focus on four key reserves:

• Ashford: Conningbrook Lakes

• Gillingham: Darland Banks

• Longfield: Heather Corrie Vale, Darenth Valley

• Sittingbourne: Queendown Warren

In addition, the firm’s staff will have opportunities to volunteer at Kent Wildlife Trust reserves, fostering team-building and a deeper connection to the environment, whilst the solicitors’ clients will be able to choose to donate to one of four local Kent Wildlife Trust reserves located near Martin Tolhurst Solicitors’ offices in Ashford, Gillingham, Longfield, and Sittingbourne.

“We are delighted to welcome Martin Tolhurst Solicitors as a partner,” said Paul Jobling, Membership and Partnership Manager of Kent Wildlife Trust. “Their commitment to sustainability and their focus on engaging their staff and clients in conservation efforts will be invaluable in achieving our shared goals for a healthier planet.”

Thinking Business 9 Members News
10 Thinking Business Patron News Kent Invicta Chamber Patrons 2024/25 appointed at Kent Business Leaders Dinner

This year’s Kent Invicta Chamber Patrons have been appointed in a presentation ceremony staged at the latest Kent Business Leaders Dinner.

The dinner was held in April in the Darwin Conference Suite at the University of Kent who are one of this year’s Patrons.

Over 60 guests were welcomed by, Tudor Price, Chief Executive at Kent Invicta Chamber and Shane Weller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University.

Guests enjoyed a truly delicious meal focused on Kent produce accompanied by wines from Biddenden Vineyards. Before dinner Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, outlined the work that she and her team were conducting to amplify the key issues being raised by Members both locally and nationally, to ensure the policy makers, current and future, were keeping business and the economy foremost in their mind. Shevaun highlighted the key policies being put forward to government under the “where business belongs” campaign, which layout in clear terms the steps needed to boost the UK economy.

After dinner, the Patrons for the 2024-25 term were announced. They were presented with prestigious certificates which were designed and produced by local businesses Oak Creative and Frameworx.

Patrons represent key sectors in the county and organisations that support and service the local business community. Eight Patrons have continued in their role from last year and are joined by the new Patrons, Ashford based Flowbird Ltd and Smurfit Kappa Group who are based in Snodland.

Tudor Price, Chief Executive at Kent Invicta Chamber, said ‘I would like to thank all our Patrons for their commitment to the Chamber for the coming year. I am delighted to welcome Flowbird Ltd and the Smurfit Kappa Group to the scheme and look forward to building a closer relationship with them.’

Jason Rainbird, Managing Director at Flowbird said “Flowbird is proud to be associated with the Kent Invicta Chamber as a leading membership organisation. Our focus is on working with more Kent businesses, and this opportunity is the perfect vehicle to help the Kent Chamber grow its membership whilst Flowbird grows its customer base.”

Jane Head, General Manager at the Smurfit Kappa Group said ‘We have a wealth of experience working with businesses and councils, in Kent and the surrounding areas, for the recycling of cardboard and paper. Creating a better planet for the future of our children is key to what we do. We are committed to being an impactful business and supporting a greener planet. This means doing the right thing for our people, our communities, and our environment.

We are proud to become Patrons of Kent Invicta Chamber and look forward to sharing our passion for recycling with likeminded businesses across the region.’

The Kent Invicta Chamber Patrons for 2024/25 are Ashford Borough Council, Brachers LLP, Caxtons Property Consultants, Flowbird Ltd, MHA, MidKent College, Smurfit Kappa – Recycling, Stagecoach South East, Towergate Insurance Brokers and the University of Kent.

Photography by Nick Johnson

Thinking Business 11
Keynote speaker Shevaun Haviland, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce with Ray Johnson, President, Kent Invicta Chamber (left) and Tudor Price, Chief Executive, Kent Invicta Chamber (right)
Patron News
Kent Invicta Chamber Patrons 2024/25

Simtek EMS looking ahead with new MD after management buyout

Electronic component manufacturer Westwood EMS, trading as Simtek EMS ltd, has begun an ambitious growth strategy after becoming independent and management owned.

The Margate-based manufacturer of precisionengineered electronic components will be led into new markets and higher profits by new Managing Director Tym Wright.

The company, which became independent in April, works with clients and partners across the globe, offering a turnkey solution manufacturing complex components for companies in the medical, automotive, industrial, marine, defence, security and audio/leisure sectors. Working to BS13485, they manufacture components for equipment such as defibrillators.

Tym brings 20 years’ engineering experience and a strong track record with growth, including taking a start-up to an £18 million turnover within 18 months. Other senior roles have spanned electrical distribution and manufacturing for UK and European based companies.

The company was founded in 1995 to build marine radar systems, and became Simtek in 2004, growing both staff numbers and turnover steadily since.

Tym said: “It’s an exciting time to become MD at the start of the company’s independence.

“My focus will be to raise the profile of the company, re-establish our presence in the marketplace, build upon existing relationships, then develop and nurture new ones, entering new markets.

“We have an exceptional service here, able to offer our clients a quick turnaround, efficiencies, cost savings, and benefits from trends and technologies.

“We have an ambitious growth plan for the next three years and with our expertise, investment in technology, innovation and ultrahigh standards, we are looking for partners to work with who are seeking the kind of specialisms we offer.”

Brachers celebrates scooping ‘Probie’ award

The private client team at Brachers, a Patron of Kent Invicta Chamber, has triumphed at the prestigious Probate Industry Awards, winning the award for Best Estate Planning Team.

The team were also highly commended in the Best Probate Law Firm (Regional) category, while Head of Private Client, Christopher Eriksson-Lee, was shortlisted for Outstanding Achievement in the Industry.

The acclaimed accolades, affectionately known as ‘the Probies’, honour and celebrate those working in the probate industry, including probate researchers, lawyers, and insurers.

Brachers’ submissions highlighted the firm’s strong client feedback, which attests to the skill,

care and compassion shown by the team when handling sensitive matters.

In 2023, the team also won a Probie for Best Private Deputyship Firm in recognition of their extensive experience in supporting vulnerable clients in court of protection and private deputyship matters.

Christopher said: “We are thrilled to be honoured again by the Probate Industry Awards for the strength of our private client services. These awards recognise that, in addition to first-class legal expertise, our colleagues have the ‘personal touch’ that is so valued by clients seeking support with their wills, probate and estate planning matters. Warm congratulations to the team!”

Top 5 reasons why you should hire a Social Media Manager

In today’s ever-changing marketing world, it is more important than ever for a small business to prioritise and utilise their digital marketing and online presence in order to maximise their chances of success.

“One strategic approach that has already benefitted many businesses, is the recruiting of a Social Media Manager (SMM),” says Lucy Jessey, Digital Marketing Specialist at Crescent Digital Marketing, who has 15 years’ experience. So, how exactly can a SMM help your business to grow, according to Lucy?

1) They will save you time. SMMs are experts in their field and already know the best systems and practices to use in order to be very efficient.

2) They will create engaging content for your target audience. SMMs know how to create high-quality content that engages your

audience; they will also be aware of the latest trends and best practices.

3) They will save you money. Whilst you will have to pay for a SMM, it will actually save you money in the long run, as they are more capable and with thorough knowledge about best practices, and so will be more productive.

4) They will monitor the success of your online presence. SMMs know how to analyse the results of campaigns, in order to improve and ultimately grow your business.

5) It enables you to focus on what you do best – your business! Hiring a SMM will remove the worry of managing your social media yourself, so that you can focus on your business.

To get in touch, visit

12 Thinking Business Members News
Members News

Supporting businesses across Kent to access funding

An award-winning Kent business finance broker is going from strength to strength as it hopes to help more SMEs than ever before.

Bexleyheath-based Tamara Renshaw from Productivity Finance has a number of accolades under her belt, including Best Commercial Broker for 2021 and 2022 and Best SME with commendation 2020 in the LB Bexley Business Awards. Having spent three decades in the industry, gaining loan approval for her customers is in her DNA. With direct access to underwriters at many of the high street and alternative funders, she aims to secure the best terms possible for borrowers.

The business can arrange finance for all shapes and sizes of SME’s across the county, with Tamara regarding herself as an “independent and impartial bank manager” – though not being tied to just one bank, but working with all lenders. Productivity Finance has been established for six years and continues to grow, even working throughout the Covid pandemic

facilitating CBILS (Government recovery loans) for businesses in distress.

Tamara says the business’s philosophy is to make accessing finance as easy and painless as possible for business owners, with her aim threefold:

• Navigate the market, secure, and negotiate the best terms for you.

• Take care of the process from start to finish – just send us your accounts and a few other bits.

• Present a compelling application to our funders, highlighting your business in the best possible way.

Loan applications are 33% more successful when presented by a broker than when customers apply directly, she states.

Among the finance facilitated are cash flow and CAPEX funding, commercial mortgages, invoice and asset finance and everything in between, including property development finance, bridging and BTL mortgages.

For more information visit:

How the right insurance advice can bring peace of mind

Finding the right insurance policy to suit your needs can be a minefield, but with the right advice you can ensure peace of mind and protection.

Whether home insurance or car insurance, minimising the risk of loss is vital. Blanket home insurance policies may now leave homeowners vulnerable due to escalating rebuild costs and undervalued assets. Traditional coverage limits, such as £1 million for buildings and £50,000 for contents, are proving inadequate in today’s market, say experts from Kent-based insurance brokers Clarke Williams.

Instances of policies falling short in claims have surfaced, with insurers threatening cancellations or denying coverage due to insufficient coverage for rebuild costs. While some brokers successfully negotiate full claim payments, homeowners without professional representation may face challenges. To mitigate underinsurance risks, Clarke Williams recommends proactive measures such as desktop rebuild cost assessments, a service the broker offers.

Outside of the home, the South East of England is experiencing a surge in vehicle thefts, also necessitating robust insurance coverage for car owners. Greater London, in particular, is a hotspot for theft, with 24 per cent of all incidents reported in the city. Range Rover owners face escalating insurance premiums and limited coverage options due to the vehicle’s popularity among thieves or insurers are simply reluctant to offer coverage due to the high risk of theft. To protect your investment, says Clarke Williams, consider comprehensive insurance

coverage, enhanced security measures like alarms and tracking devices, and secure parking in well-lit areas. Community vigilance and physical deterrents such as parking posts and wheel clamps can also help deter thieves.

Meanwhile, Clarke Williams and other leading insurance brokers have joined the pledge to address commission transparency issues, particularly for multi-occupancy buildings with fire safety risks, in response to soaring buildings insurance premiums. The government’s latest proactive measures aim to alleviate the financial burden on leaseholders, with key commitments including:

• Brokers will cease sharing commissions, focusing on leaseholders’ best interests.

• Brokers will cap their retained commission at 15 per cent of the total premium, reducing costs for leaseholders.

• Brokers commit to disclosing commissions to leaseholders, promoting fee transparency.

Leaseholders are encouraged to inquire about their insurance broker and understand commissions involved. Changes in FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulations empower leaseholders to request comprehensive policy information.

The pledge aligns with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) service charge code, emphasizing transparency in sharing insurance cost information with leaseholders.

To contact Clarke Williams, see

• We believe that partnerships most powerful way to
• We champion Kent to local economies
• We value people and have network of clients and
• We deliver creative know-how brand building expertise

The Power of Creative Partnerships: Oak Creative Leads the Way

Oak Creative believes that partnerships are the most powerful way to do business. This is exactly why the Kent branding agency coined the term ‘Creative Partnership’ back in 2021. In the wake of Covid, studio director Laura Bevan was looking for a way to genuinely make a difference to businesses in Kent. An impactful partnership which delivers significant results was the only way forward.

A Creative Partnership with Oak Creative is a collaborative relationship between a business and their professional creative team. Unlike traditional clientagency dynamics, creative partnerships operate as extensions of the client’s team, sharing objectives, workload, and responsibilities, whilst working together towards the same common goals. Oak Creative embodies this ethos, promising to add value to businesses by listening to their goals, becoming an integral part of their team, and alleviating the hassle of marketing execution.

Marketing & Advertising

Studio Director Laura Bevan explains, ‘At the start of a new creative partnership, we define a set of clear goals which the business is hoping to achieve in the next year. We want you to reach these as much as you do, so it’s imperative to have these metrics in place from the start.’

Whether a business is just starting out or seeking to revamp its entire brand identity, Oak Creative offers comprehensive support every step of the way, from strategy development to delivery. By leveraging real audience and competitor insights, Oak Creative helps businesses craft trustworthy and professional brands that resonate with their target market. These strong foundations set brands up for success in their marketplace.

Illustration & Animation

About Oak Creative: Oak Creative is a creative partner for ambitious brands and organisations in Kent and beyond. We use creative know-how and brand building expertise to help elevate our clients’ businesses to achieve significant results.

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Thinking Business 13

Chamber Collaboration

Success: Oak Creative Design and Indicator create a partnership

Indicator, celebrating its 25th year in business, is a leading provider of tax, HR and health and safety solutions to SMEs. It has hired in the expertise of fellow Chamber member, brand marketing agency, Oak Creative, to support on a range of exciting projects.

Oak Creative and Indicator are active and engaged Kent Invicta Chamber members and this is a prime example of a Chamber collaboration. David Peddie, technical sales consultant from Indicator met Laura Bevan and Jessica Banks from the Oak Creative team at Chamber networking events. Having developed an understanding of one another’s businesses, the foundations were set for working together on an ongoing basis.

Indicator is part of the panEuropean Lefebvre Sarrut group and creates expert content –newsletters, tools and calculators, reference books and online solutions to name but a few - that help businesses stay up to date and compliant in a broad range of business matters, everything from claiming capital allowances to avoiding unfair dismissal claims. It has a significant product portfolio and sub brands, which is where Oak Creative come in to refresh and align.

Oak Creative Design is Kent’s leading branding agency. Working with ambitious businesses across all sectors, the agency believes partnerships are the most powerful way to do business. Indicator has come on board for 12 months and the Oak team will work in collaboration with Indicator to

Using reliable outsource services for competitive advantage

As early as 2019, architects were included on the Shortage Occupation List (RIBA, 2019). Skills shortages across the UK continue to expand due to national circumstances such as economic uncertainty, geopolitical conflicts, persistent effects of Brexit, and the impact of COVID-19 (Edge Foundation, 2024).

With the country finally recovering from the effects of the pandemic, new building and infrastructure projects are coming about. These skill shortages present considerable challenges to UK’s infrastructure projects (Business Matters, 2024).

A good strategy for architectural practices to help address the demand-supply gap within the construction industry is to outsource architectural services. Outsourcing companies like KPO Architecture offer services like 3D Modeling, 3D Rendering, Building Information Modeling

deliver a range of design initiatives. Melanie Bidewell, Marketing & PR Manager at Indicator says ‘Bringing Oak Creative on board has helped us to streamline our brand identity and our creative output, enabling our brand to be consistent at all touchpoints, which is a huge challenge across our vast product range. Oak have approached our creative needs with discipline and professionalism, we’re very pleased with the outputs.’

On creative partnerships, Oak Creative Marketing Manager Jessica Bank says ‘At the start of a creative partnership,

we map out the marketing goals and assets needed. Indicator needed assistance with delivering their complex and vast range of marketing assets. We are proud to be their trusted partner and are really enjoying working with them.’

Indicator is exhibiting at Accountex in May. As the largest accounting trade show in the UK, preparation for the show has been supported by Oak Creative, including an all-new design for the stand.

Tuning in to KMTV

(BIM), Computer-generated Imagery (CGI), and administrative services. KPO has a UK team that ensures all of their outputs meet UK quality standards. Companies like these provide practices with a cost-effective and efficient solution to the growing demand within the construction industry.

With the advent of technology, communication, and collaboration have become all the more convenient, making outsourcing a viable option. Leveraging a team of outsourced architects to do non-core activities allows local architectural companies to focus on their core competencies, concentrate on more highly technical tasks, and meet project deadlines effectively. This setup also allows companies to take on bigger projects and improve operational efficiency driving growth in the dynamic construction sector.

Many of you reading this have probably received a call from one of our team of professional and young reporters (75% of the business is aged 25 or under) asking for an expert voice in a story for our flagship Kent Tonight programme (weeknights 5.30pm-6pm) or for one of our specialists shows (The Kent Politics Show or Made in Kent, to name a few).

For the uninitiated, KMTV is an Ofcom regulated local television station and production company, jointly owned by the University of Kent and the Iliffe Media Group (who themselves own The KM Media Group). The channel is also one of 34 around the country which make up the Local Television Network, all serving hyperlocal communities and currently reaching an audience of 16.2 million people. By the end of this summer, IP technology will mean KMTV and the LTVN will have a reach of 98% of all UK households.

As well as our 24/7 news, current affairs, and entertainment service, KMTV also has a production arm (KMTV Creative). Since starting in 2018, they have produced more

than 40 documentary shorts, hundreds of hours of special programmes and live streams, and two British Film Institutecommissioned children’s television series (currently streaming on ITVX). This activity has helped put KMTV not just on the regional map but has made it truly global with teams shooting documentaries in Chile, Colombia, France, Ghana, Mauritius, Mexico, and Peru.

The cherry on top has been recognition from industry bodies, including the Royal Television Society (Southern), Sandford St Martin Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Kent Press and Broadcast Awards.

Thinking Business 15 Members News
Thinking Business 15

The future is greener for technology firm




, talks to Sarah Dale about why keeping ahead of technology is key to the success of his 40-year-old business and why the environment is central to what he does.

Adrian Bryant is passionate about the planet – he even planted 60 trees during lockdown to “do his bit” – and has always seen himself in an overseas charity role.

He admits he “fell into” running a business 40 years ago with two friends, Dave and Martin (the ‘D’ and ‘M’ in the business name), who he met during his degree in accounting and management science at the University of Kent.

ADM Computer Services was established in 1984 and within a couple of years, Adrian was sole owner. The firm started out selling printer ribbons, floppy discs and computers before moving into computer repairs and upgrades for businesses.

By keeping ahead of technology development and keeping up with customer demand, the company has flourished and provides services including IT support, cyber security, IT consultancy and cloud computing.

The award-winning IT support company now has 75 members of staff including 50-55 highly trained engineers and Adrian prides himself on both high staff and high client retention.

16 Thinking Business The Big Interview
Adrian Bryant (Managing Director) & Jolene Bullock (Service Director) at the Kent Mental Health & Wellbeing Awards

“The key is investing in continual training for our engineers,” says Adrian, who has been a member of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce since its inception.

“We’ve always got involved with the training and networking available at the Chamber.

“We really started to grow from 1998 when a few key staff members joined us around that time including Project Director Martin Tanner and Customer Service Director Linda Sinclair. I was looking for likeminded key players who would take the business forward as part of my plan to have a flat management structure.

“Technology moves so fast in our industry, especially for engineers so training is important with staff retention. In fact, 12 employees have been with the company more than 20 years, 49 of them more than five. We invest a lot of money into our engineers’ training. Staff are encouraged to stay and grow with the company – one of our engineers has been here for 27 years. Our USP is how experienced our engineers are.”

Kailas Bryant, Communications Manager, adds: “We have a strong emphasis on staff retention and client retention. Investing in training benefits our employees and ensures our ability to provide high quality support to our clients.”

Keeping ahead of trends is something Adrian and his team pride themselves on. The company does not ask clients to sign fixed term contracts, unlike others who request clients to sign one-year-plus contracts.

“Our view has always been that if we deliver good service and good value then clients will stay with us,” says Adrian, who has three daughters, as well as son Kailas.

The company worked with clients to set up remote working before Covid lockdowns forced people to work from home and had started the process in-house too. During Covid, they were “snowed under” with more requests for businesses and employees to set up to work from home.

Kailas adds: “Our main priority during Covid was to support our clients and staff and we put on free Q&As for clients and the wider community too.”

They were also proactive in contacting customers to switch down their support and reduce their licences, therefore reducing costs, as offices closed.

Every year, the firm takes on two or three apprentices. Adrian says he chooses two who he feels will be a “good cultural fit” and one wild card.

“I like to take a chance on people,” he explains.

Kailas adds: “We’re big advocates of the apprenticeship scheme and a lot of our engineers started as apprentices. We don’t run into the same recruitment struggles that other businesses in our sector have. We like to recruit and invest in the training and development of entry-level IT professionals who are looking for a start in the world of IT.”

They also provide a higher-than-average apprenticeship wage.

Adrian has always been interested in green issues and sustainability and once stood as a Green Party Councillor.

“I never intended to go into business and would have liked to go and help people overseas,” he says.

“I ended up in IT by accident and therefore my whole thing was if I can’t work to directly support these causes, I would run a successful business and find other ways to help.

“It’s nice to give back and particularly because our industry uses so much energy and resources and everything has a sell-by date.”

Adrian gives back to the local community and overseas in several ways.

When Adrian was on the board of Business Link, he campaigned on recycling. The Royal British

Legion provided a warehouse, he provided resources and Kent County Council supplied funding and took on an employee to set up a recycling scheme for computers and other electrical goods, which evolved into Sweep.

The company also works with charities to take computers and furniture to African schools and small businesses, both in Ghana and The Gambia.

They run a Forest Schools project in China. They produced a Level 3 Forest School Teaching qualification, with lesson plans developed by Adrian’s wife, Mei Wang, and daughter, Bella Ma, which has resulted in over 2,000 certified teachers and trainers in the UK and China.

ADM Computing, which has 40 solar panels installed at its offices, has been ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) certified since 2015, has a growing fleet of electric vehicles, a car sharing scheme and a cycle to work scheme, and is also involved in the Green Schools programme.

They joined Ecologi in July 2022, which helps fund the world’s best carbon offsetting solutions and reforest the planet by planting 350 trees every month.

Adrian has also supported the environment closer to home. When he discovered that Kent Wildlife Trust was running a scheme to provide young saplings to the community during Covid, he signed up.

“I’m very lucky to live in the countryside and have a big garden so I planted 60 trees,” he adds. “It’s about doing what you can to protect our planet.”

Thinking Business 17 The Big Interview
Adrian Bryant (Managing Director) promoting the Green School Awards Adrian Bryant (Managing Director) and Mei Wang (Director at UK-China Education) visiting Forest Schools in China

How to get the most out of Occupational Health Referrals

Referring an employee to occupational health (OH) can help you understand how best to manage employee health concerns at work.

OH referrals take place for a whole host of reasons, such as:

• Aiding a safe return to work after illness or injury

• Understanding new diagnoses and their impact on work and vice versa

• Supporting long-term conditions at work

• Assessing ill health retirement cases

• Reviewing health after an accident at work

• Advising about medical capability

With so many reasons for referral, employers want to be sure that they are getting the best advice following the appointment to help them manage their employees’ health at work.

OH referral checklist:

• Qualified Provider: Look for a provider whose clinicians have a specialist qualification in OH.

• Provide context: A job description and any background information about the issue, as well as potential adjustments you could feasibly accommodate will help the clinician give appropriate advice.

• Ask specific questions: Be clear on what you want to know – asking specific questions will get you specific answers.

• Be open with the employee: Share the referral with them to engage them in the process and encourage cooperation.

• Understand the process: Ask how long reports take to be issued and how delays are handled to ensure this meets your expectations.

• Understand your obligations: You don’t have to follow the advice in an OH report. You do have to consider it and do all that is ‘reasonably practicable’ to support an employee. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be at the expense of other employees, the company’s financial stability or operations.

At All Health Matters we offer face-to-face and remote OH referrals and aim to release reports within 2 days of the consultation. Contact our team to talk through the referral process and get support for your employee health issues.

Maximising your potential

Whether a start-up, an SME or a multinational company, identifying goals and maximising your potential can be a challenge – but this is where Visiativ comes in.

Introducing new technology can seem daunting to many companies – where do you begin? It’s easy to push it down the priority list and risk falling behind more tech-savvy competitors.

To maintain pace, you should consider these three key questions, says Visiativ:

• How do I harness the technology I need to innovate and grow?

• Where can I find the right funding to make innovation a core part of my business?

• What are the goals of my innovation and how do I maximise the benefits?

Visiativ aims to help companies accelerate innovation through three focal points, which it breaks down as follows:

1. Innovate without limits

For manufacturers, solutions like 3D design software and digital/AI productivity tools can

transform how you operate, making your business faster, smarter, and more collaborative.

For the service industry, digitalising internal/ external-facing systems and processes is essential.

2. Funding innovation

Innovative ideas need more than just ingenuity; they need financial backing. There are plenty of options out there, such as tax reliefs, incentives, grants and other funding mechanisms. Don’t stick to just one or two, but explore a combination of these options.

3. Develop an innovation strategy

• What is your goal? - Increasing growth? Exit strategy? Attracting funding?

• How will this innovation create the required outcomes?

• Does this create IP? How can I monetise this?

• What resources do different types of innovation require?

Visit to explore how Visiativ can support you.

Streamline your business and boost your bottom line

Are you spending too much time managing a multitude of suppliers, each with their own contracts, billing cycles, and account reviews? Well good news: gone are the days of juggling multiple vendors. Dartford-based business

Apprico offers a smarter solution: consolidate your technology services with one supplier.

Here’s how Apprico’s comprehensive suite of business services, including managed print solutions, IT services, voice communications systems, audio-visual equipment and superfast business fibre promises to help transform your business:

Reduce costs

By consolidating services, you unlock economies of scale savings and bulk-buy discounts. Additionally, streamlining your supply chain frees up staff to focus on core tasks and revenue-generating activities. Imagine your employees focusing on these instead of wrangling with technology issues and suppliers. Optimise performance

Apprico takes a proactive approach across your whole business ecosystem, rather than just solving

immediate problems. It uses holistic strategy to optimise your technology environment, improve efficiency and avoid compatibility issues and conflicts.

Eliminate finger-pointing

Technical glitches are inevitable, but who is responsible for them when they happen?

The printer company? The IT supplier?

The phone provider? With Apprico as your single-service partner, there is no need for finger pointing or blame games. It ensures fast multi-service troubleshooting and reduced downtime for your business.

Simplify administration

Say goodbye to managing multiple contracts, navigating different billing systems, and endless vendor meetings. Apprico streamlines communications, budgeting and invoicing, helping to increase your productivity, reduce your soft costs and make full use of your assets.

Visit for more information.

18 Thinking Business Members News

Protect your future with a will

Knowing our loved ones will be taken care of when we’re gone is of paramount importance to all of us – and this is why a will should be put in place, says Waves Wills & Legacies.

Waves Wills & Legacies offers personalised services to clients who are ready to protect their loved ones.

Contrary to what many believe, unmarried partners are not entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your will – no matter how long you have been together.

Similarly, trusted legal guardians for young children need to be appointed in your will; godparents don’t have an automatic right to become guardians.

A will can also safeguard your family home. These are just some of the reasons a will ought to be in place, says Waves – a will is your legacy and having one can help you sleep peacefully at night.

The company also deals with Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which allows you to plan ahead by choosing one or more people to make decisions on your behalf, should you lose capacity. This could affect such issues as property and finance, where a spouse, partner or other family member would not otherwise have access to bank accounts – for example, to pay a mortgage. A health and welfare LPA could also allow someone to give or refuse consent to particular types of healthcare or medical treatment on your behalf.

Waves Wills & Legacies also helps people to set up trusts to fully protect their estate.

For more information, visit

How communication and performance go hand-in-hand

No amount of planning, strategy, execution or management can effectively compensate for an organisation’s cultural weakness in communication, partnership and integrity.

No matter how well-intended, or serious and committed people are, they must also have the ability to be extraordinary communicators and be 100 per cent accountable to produce extraordinary results, says Mark Kamin & Associates, professional development and education service provider.

The company states that the ability to listen well is key to communication, and while organisations “often talk about the results they want”, they neglect to examine the actions that can lead to such results.

The team says that when clients tell them that communication is their biggest obstacle, they often find that “listening is lacking”.

Mark Kamin & Associates states that the average Brit spends approximately 58 per cent of their waking time at work, and if self-employed, this increases to 66 per cent. Reports indicate that

only 45 per cent of Brits are satisfied with their jobs. Given these percentages, the company’s commitment is to provide new opportunities for employers and their organisations to create fulfilling and high-performing work environments.

The company offers programs and coaching for better leadership, effective communication, integrity and teamwork, all of which contribute to a greater and more satisfying work environment. The company says it aims to “re-engineer” how people lead, manage and coach, resulting in significant improvements in critical performance measures such as increased revenues, cost savings, quality assurance, service levels, efficiency, and employee engagement.

For information, see

Breaking Barriers: Empowering

Children with Down’s Syndrome to thrive

In a world where every child deserves the chance to flourish, there are still barriers that stand in the way of realising this vision for some. But amidst these challenges, 21 Together – a charity dedicated to supporting children and young people with Down’s syndrome across Kent and Medway, is forging new services to ensure children and young people can live full and vibrant lives.

Providing specialist support aimed at lifechanging social and communication skills for individuals from birth to 25 years old, the charity creates spaces where children can develop these skills, alongside essential community support services for families needing help navigating the system.

One service user commented: “Everything that I have accessed for Daniel and us with community support has been invaluable. Thank you so much. We are very proud to be part of 21 Together! To see Daniel growing in confidence is down to 21 Together – we couldn’t do it without you!”

Since the charity started, 21 Together has witnessed the profound impact of its work, not only on the children they serve but also on their families. Eight years later, 21 Together is expanding its reach, opening a new centre in Thanet to replicate their projects to help even more families.

As 21 Together continues to break down barriers and empower children with Down’s syndrome to thrive, they remind us that every action we take has purpose. They are not just providing services, they are building a brighter future for all. Join them on their mission, and let’s create a world where every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Kent soars to new heights with Horus Drones

A Folkestone-based company is thrilled to be new members of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

Horus Drones, with its team of passionate and certified drone pilots, hopes to revolutionise the way other businesses operate. Founded by Terry Ormiston, a leader in aerial innovation and Royal Marine veteran, Horus Drones combines advanced technology with extensive experience, including certified pilots, to deliver “unparalleled aerial data and unmatched customer service.”

The company is offering such services as:

• Surveying: Gain precise data for land development, mapping, and volumetric calculations.

• Agriculture: Optimise crop yields with data on crop health.

• Inspections: Conduct safe, efficient inspections of wind turbines, bridges, and more.

The company operates strictly within regulations and prioritises thorough pre-flight checks

Horus Drones offers free consultations to fellow Chamber members to help you explore how drone technology can benefit your business. Unlock the potential of the skies and soar to new heights!

For more information, see

Thinking Business 19 Members News

T-Levels: Transformative Education

In the ever-evolving landscape of education and vocational training, T-Level qualifications have emerged as a transformative force, bridging the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills.

Tailored to meet the demands of the modern workforce, T-Levels offer students a unique pathway to success while providing employers with a pool of skilled and industry-ready talent. In this article, we will explore what T-Level qualifications are and the manifold benefits they bring to both students and employers.

What are T-Level Qualifications?

T-Level qualifications, represent a pioneering approach to post-16 education. Introduced as part of the government’s education reforms, T-Levels are two-year courses that blend classroom learning with substantial industry placements. These qualifications are designed to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and practical experience needed to thrive in specific industries.

Structured around a core framework, T-Levels consist of a mix of technical knowledge, practical skills, and work experience. The courses are developed in collaboration with employers and industry experts, ensuring that the content is relevant and aligns with the needs of the workforce.

T-Levels cover a diverse range of sectors, including digital, construction, health, and science, providing students with a wide array of choices based on their interests and career aspirations.

Benefits for Students; building a solid foundation for success.

Practical Skill Development: T-Levels place a strong emphasis on hands-on learning,

allowing students to develop practical skills that are directly applicable to their chosen industry. This ensures that graduates are not only knowledgeable but also proficient in the tasks they will encounter in the workplace.

Industry-Relevant Knowledge:

The curriculum of T-Levels is crafted in consultation with industry leaders, ensuring that students are equipped with up-to-date and relevant knowledge. This alignment with real-world needs enhances the employability of T-Level graduates.

Extensive Industry Placements: One of the standout features of T-Level qualifications is the mandatory industry placement component. This gives students the opportunity to apply their learning in a real-world setting, gaining valuable experience and establishing connections within their chosen field.

Clear Career Pathways: T-Levels are designed to provide clear and structured pathways to employment. By focusing on specific industries, students can make informed decisions about their career trajectories, setting the stage for a smoother transition from education to the workforce.

Benefits for Employers; shaping the future workforce.

Skilled and Job-Ready Workforce:

Employers benefit from T-Level graduates who enter the workforce with a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. This accelerates the onboarding process, as these individuals are already familiar with industry practices.

Active Involvement in Curriculum Design: T-Levels involve close collaboration between educational institutions and employers during the curriculum design phase. This ensures that the skills and competencies emphasized in the courses align with the current and future needs of industries.

Streamlined Recruitment Process: T-Level qualifications act as a reliable marker of a candidate’s readiness for the workplace. Employers can trust that T-Level graduates have undergone extensive training and handson experience, streamlining the recruitment process and reducing the time and resources needed for training new hires.

20 Thinking Business

Contribution to Economic Growth: By investing in T-Level programs, employers contribute to the development of a skilled workforce, fostering innovation and productivity. This, in turn, contributes to the overall economic growth of the country.

The Power of Industry Placements; learning by doing.

A defining feature of T-Levels is the mandatory industry placement. Students spend at least 315 hours, roughly equivalent to 45 working days, gaining practical experience in a real-world work environment. This handson experience offers invaluable benefits:

Applying Classroom Learning: Students get to apply the theoretical knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom to real-world scenarios. This solidifies their understanding and helps them develop a deeper practical skillset.

Building Confidence: Working in a professional setting boosts students’ confidence and allows them to hone their communication and teamwork skills in a practical environment.

Developing Professional Networks: Industry placements provide students with an opportunity to network with professionals in their chosen field, potentially leading to job opportunities or valuable mentorship.

The Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) acts as a blueprint for addressing regional skills gaps and shortages. By placing employers at the forefront of local skills and education discussions, it ensures their needs are central to finding solutions.

For more information about the Kent and Medway Local Skills Improvement Plan, please visit or scan the QR code.

Informed Career Choices: The experience allows students to refine their career aspirations and get a firsthand taste of the daily realities of their chosen industry.

T-Level qualifications represent a pivotal shift in the educational landscape, offering students a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills while providing employers with a pool of talented, job-ready individuals.

As these qualifications continue to gain traction, the symbiotic relationship between education and industry will play a crucial role in shaping a workforce that is not only equipped for today’s challenges but also prepared for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Thinking Business 21 Skills
Interested in finding out more about T-Levels? Information for Employers about T-Levels -

Stepping stone into employment

Whether you are looking to get back into learning or change jobs, the ‘Get Into’ programmes by EKC Training, part of the East Kent Colleges Group, are a great stepping stone to employment and further training.
Not only will you get advice with your course, but you will also come away with life lessons and skills that will help your future goals and aspirations.

The ‘Get Into’ programmes, offered at EKC Training’s centres in various locations across East Kent, are specially designed to help students develop industry specific skills and to get them started on their journey into a wide range of employment opportunities.

Expert tutors support students to gain essential qualifications and prepare them for employment or further study, by providing careers advice and workshops to develop CV writing and interview skills.

Each programme is tailored to a different sector with courses available in Administration, Building Services, Construction, Education, Healthcare, Hospitality and Retail to give students knowledge and understanding of their chosen career.

The courses are free and available to learners that are on a low income or are unemployed.

Rhiannon Whelan recently completed the ‘Get Into Administration’ course and is now prepared to enrol on a teaching assistant programme after being inspired by the teaching support she received during her course. Rhiannon was nervous about returning to education but gained confidence with the help of her tutor at the training centre in Dover.

Reflecting on her experience, Rhiannon recalled, “I was worried because the only education I had was part way through secondary school and I thought that I was really going to struggle.

After a couple of days working with my tutor, he got the ball rolling on my confidence and self-belief.”

As an adult learner, returning to an educational setting may seem daunting, but at EKC Training, staff are there to help you overcome your fears and kickstart your passion for learning. Tutors are on hand to offer 1-1 help with not only your coursework but any needs you have so you can develop in confidence.

EKC Training student Donna Daly had also been out of education for many years before starting the ‘Get Into Retail’ course and was anxious about returning to learning.

She was referred to the course by the Job Centre after seeking support to enter employment and will be returning to build on the skills she’s learnt and explore other courses at East Kent Colleges Group’s Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ provision.

Donna said, “My tutor has been brilliant and made us all feel welcome. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He has given me more confidence to go forward and do other training.”

When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking of doing a ‘Get Into’ course, Donna said: “It doesn’t matter how old you are, just go for it as it is worth it, and the course is really good.”

The career support and guidance provided by the staff during the ‘Get Into’ course has transformed Daniel Jenkins’ career goals.

Initially unsure of what he wanted to do when joining the ‘Get into Retail’ course, Daniel is now pursuing a career as a teacher.

As the courses teach key skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving, students develop skills that are transferable to a range of different jobs and industries.

“The staff have been incredibly helpful,” said Daniel.

“They have been there every step of the way to support me, and I am still in touch with my lecturer. He is helping me progress even further forward by assisting me with a teacher training course I am enrolling on.”

If you’re thinking of joining an EKC Training course, Daniel has this advice.

“Take it up and take any offers that are thrown your way. The support and teaching you will receive is amazing. It has been such a great way to improve my CV and help put me in the right direction to gaining employment.”

Studying alongside Daniel was Matthew Hughes, who has been using EKC Training’s programmes to boost his interpersonal skills in a wide range of areas.

Having previously studied other courses within the East Kent Colleges Group, the Get Into Retail course was suggested to him to help him get ready for the world of work.

“I’ve had positive experiences with the other courses I have done, so when this was offered to me, I was immediately interested,” added Matthew.

“The staff here are so approachable and supportive, which was very important to me.”

Going back to education as an adult learner may seem challenging if you don’t know what to expect, but one of the benefits of EKC Training programmes is that they teach important skills in a stress-free environment.

This way of learning is beneficial for Matthew as he explained.

“We’ve had a casual approach to what we’ve learnt but it’s not hands-off either. We get to slowly build up the core skills that we need, and this is a really great way for me to retain the knowledge. This course has been extremely valuable to me.”

Matthew is now exploring his future options with EKC Training’s guidance team and is eager to see what opportunities await him.

EKC Training’s Adult Centres are located in Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone, Margate and Sittingbourne.

Find out more about EKC Training’s ‘Get Into’ courses at

22 Thinking Business

Find your perfect role today

East Kent Colleges Group has a range of opportunities for you to develop the next generation of skilled employees.

From teaching roles, through to curriculum support, our corporate services and beyond, we have a wide range of opportunities to take the next step in your career. Why not explore what’s on offer across our six sites and regional business unit today.

Simply search ‘EKC Group jobs’ or visit to find your next perfect role.

Cover Feature | Communications & Technology

Technology in 2024 and beyond

“As the owner of a technology-led business, I experience first-hand

how innovative technology can transform businesses and benefit people too. I’m a firm believer that if technology doesn’t simplify your daily tasks and just creates more complexity, then it’s not fit for purpose.” Ashley Bond, MADE AV, Managing Director

MADE AV has created solutions for the hospitality, corporate, commercial, residential and superyacht sectors, and seen one common theme – how technology has enhanced businesses.


When you hear about innovative technology, does the term ‘audio visual’ spring to mind? It should, because AV is the best part! It’s the exciting shiny displays, the sound quality or the ability to control all your electronics with the touch of a button.

Drawing on the experiences we’ve had providing solutions to clients including Gaucho, M Restaurant, Pollini at Ladbroke Hall and other high end venues, it’s apt to say that AV brings a space to life.

Think about it – you could eat at the finest Michelin star restaurants, but without quality audio the ambience wouldn’t feel right. A curated playlist heard through perfectly balanced speakers can subtly bring the flavours to life. This is just one way fine dining and audio technology work together to create an enhanced experience for the customer.

At MADE AV we have a responsibility as impartial audio visual experts to advise clients on how AV technology can transform their business. We’re all about creating experiences that resonate with their emotions and make them feel a certain way.

We installed the audio at luxury London hotel The Savoy, and our aim was to ensure the guest experience began the moment they walked through the doors. Technology plays a huge part in creating a brand experience, for example, by providing perfectly balanced audio for atmosphere, digital maps and signage for ease, and automated check-in with touch

screens for efficiency. Competition in the hospitality sector is high, with each venue wanting to be better than the next, and AV is integral to a technology solution that reflects a brand’s image.


Corporate work practices since 2020 have seen huge changes in the way teams function. The move to video conferencing has given businesses the flexibility to collaborate effectively, quickly and, most importantly, easily. This has not only kept the economy moving, but also enabled smaller businesses to have a bigger reach and accelerated growth. Not only are companies implementing new video conferencing solutions, but we’ve seen a real commitment to improving systems too, with software being updated regularly and hardware being replaced, often annually.

One of the reasons we’ve seen for this activity is the desire to create the right first impression and show technical competency when pitching to potential new customers. It’s a recognition that audio visual is a crucial sales tool.

MADE AV has service contracts in place to remove any complexity. For example, we handle updates and security maintenance for clients such as Orange Cyberdefense and Aeon Investments. They see value in this as it keeps their systems healthy and easy to use for all staff.


It’s also clear to see the impact of new technology on our daily lives at home. This may be the new robot vacuum floor cleaner or the voice control systems that we are all so familiar with now. The key for us is to simplify technology for our clients and bring all the small bits of tech together so they interact seamlessly.

Affordability is a big factor when deciding on home technology. Electric blinds, smart heating, multi-room audio and the king of all home luxuries, home cinemas, are becoming more popular, and with a host of products and new technology available, these solutions are also becoming more affordable. We’ve developed many home snug areas, which can be used as everyday spaces and transform easily into immersive home cinemas. We’ve seen homeowners opting for cinema grade equipment, even if they don’t have a dedicated room.

Considering all the information above, it’s easy to see how our lives are changing due to technology. Are some of us spending more time looking at screens than before?

Yes, of course, but that can also have a positive effect. Maybe that screen time is used for working from home or a hotel on the other side of the world, saving time on travel and giving freedom? Maybe that screen time is being used to monitor our home security system while we are on holiday, or to speak to a relative too far away to visit regularly?

The evolvement of technology, including audio visual solutions, has undoubtedly changed our world and will continue to do so. Our mission at MADE AV is to guide clients to ensure they get seamless solutions that transform their businesses and are future-proof for the years ahead.

AV & SPORTS A game changer

The integration of audio visual solutions in the sports hospitality sector has been a game changer. Businesses now have the ability to create immersive atmospheres for customers watching big ticket events on large high quality screens, keeping audiences entertained at venues long after the live action has ended.

MADE AV partners with Kent Cricket and Canterbury Rugby, and has installed systems at Matches in Ashford, Kent, Wing Kingz in Canterbury and the soon to open Square One Padel Club, also in Ashford.

Thinking Business 25

Unleashing the power of AI: a game-changer for SMEs

Though AI might still sound like the stuff of science fiction to some, it’s already producing practical and impactful outcomes in the business

world, streamlining operations and driving efficiency. Here are some examples of how AI is improving Indicator’s business performance:

Automating customer service: AI-powered chatbots handle a significant proportion of customer queries swiftly and effectively, resulting in greater customer satisfaction rates.

Improved sales forecasting:

We use AI algorithms to analyse extensive datasets—past sales figures, economic trends, industry reports—and predict future sales patterns with surprising accuracy.

Effective marketing: AI tools can process vast amounts of customer data and yield insights about customer preferences and behaviour. We use these insights to guide the development of highly personalised marketing campaigns, resulting in higher customer engagement and conversion rates.

Efficient recruitment: AI is used to automate parts of the

recruitment process, such as CV screening, saving hours of manual effort. In addition, AI can help eliminate unconscious bias, leading to a more diverse workforce.

Enhanced security: AI can detect unusual patterns of behaviour that may point to fraudulent activity, enabling us to tackle potential threats before they become serious issues.

As Chamber members, it’s our collective responsibility to adapt, harness, and champion the use of AI, says Indicator. As it streamlines diverse aspects of our businesses, we must remember that these technologies are not only creating efficiencies, but also opening doors to a world of untapped potential.

Levelling the AI playing field for SMBs: Simplifying AI and automation

Lean IA Ltd (Lean Intelligent Automation), a boutique consultancy, which has delivered substantial savings through AI to large enterprises for almost a decade, is soon to launch – a platform tailored for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

This platform aims to make advanced AI technology accessible, helping small businesses streamline processes and seize new growth opportunities instantly.

Currently, 74 per cent of SMBs are eager to adopt AI, recognising its transformative power. not only facilitates this transition but wants to ensure that no small business gets left behind. Already, a quarter of SMBs have begun to harness AI, with another 44 per cent preparing to dive in. This platform intends to be the starting block for many, providing a clear path forward for those new to this technology.

Founder Tony Walker has observed AI’s impact on the corporate sector and

recognised a gap in its reach to smaller businesses. His platform aims tobridge this gap, taking proven strategies from major corporations to enhance operations, customer experiences, and reduce costs—all while empowering staff to tackle more creative and complex tasks.

The AI market is bustling with tools that can be overwhelming; simplifies this landscape. Tony advises: “Start small, educate your team and measure the impact.” is not just about deploying technology—it is about building an ecosystem where businesses of any size and tech maturity can effectively use data to drive decisions.

“Our ethos is ‘Discover, Optimise, Empower’, and we’re on a mission to help SMBs navigate and leverage cutting-edge technologies with ease and confidence,” adds Tony.

Find out more at

26 Thinking Business
Cover Feature | Communications & Technology

Cover Feature | Communications & Technology

If the Ministry of Defence can get hacked, so can your business!

Managed IT support and specialist business telecoms provider, MF Telecom Services, is on a mission to spread awareness of the importance of cyber security. Sharing their expertise, they discuss here some of the prevention measures you can put in place right now.

No company, big or small, is immune to a cyber-attack. Knowing what to look out for and how to protect your organisation is the best way to help guard against everincreasing threats.

Putting in place a cyber security protocol is essential. Within that, staff training should be a priority. With Phishing being at the top of the hackers’ list for ways to get in, making sure employees are aware of what to look out for will go a long way towards mitigating your risks.

Hackers can and will look for any loophole to infiltrate your business, whether that’s directly via a staff member clicking on a link or through cracks in the system. These can come in the form of a vulnerability on devices, poor management of data back-ups or the failure to update passwords and security software.

As a minimum, put up a firewall and install some security software. Add the extra layers such as MFA. Then make sure you keep it up to date. Limit or keep track of who is using and sharing data within your organisation. Arm your employees with the knowledge of what to look for.

Unfortunately, nothing is foolproof. Malware protection will pick up and prevent the majority of phishing emails, but many will make it through. So staff training is key as your employees could be your weakest link.

If you have business cyber insurance, check the policy requirements. Most insurance companies require you to mitigate your cyber risks, so if you are not seen to be actively doing that, the policy may not be valid.

The National Cyber Security Centre offers lots of free advice online. In addition, MF Telecom Services recommends a cyber security health check to assess the positives and pitfalls of your current practices. Most reputable IT support companies will offer one for free.

Prevention is always cheaper than the cure!

THE 5G REVOLUTION: How Dongles are Empowering Businesses

In the rapidly evolving landscape of business technology, staying ahead of the curve is paramount. Among the myriad of innovations vying for attention, 5G technology stands out as a transformative force with the potential to redefine the way businesses operate.

While much of the spotlight has been on smartphones and IoT devices, an unsung hero is emerging: the 5G dongle. As the founder of Think It Simple, I believe that 5G dongles are poised to become indispensable tools for businesses, driving efficiency, connectivity, and innovation in ways we are only beginning to understand.

Unleashing Connectivity Anywhere

One of the most profound impacts of 5G technology is its ability to deliver lightningfast internet speeds and ultra-low latency. For businesses, this means a significant leap forward in terms of connectivity. The true game-changer, however, lies in the portability and flexibility that 5G dongles offer. These compact devices can transform any laptop or desktop into a high-speed, mobile workstation, breaking free from the constraints of traditional wired internet connections and Wi-Fi networks.

Imagine a sales team travelling across the country, no longer tethered to unreliable hotel Wi-Fi or public networks. With 5G dongles, they can access critical applications, upload large files, and conduct video conferences with seamless efficiency. This level of connectivity ensures that business operations remain uninterrupted, regardless of location, fostering a more dynamic and responsive workforce.

Driving Remote Work and Collaboration

The rise of remote work has been one of the most significant shifts in the business world over the past few years. While remote work offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges, particularly in terms of ensuring reliable and secure internet access. 5G dongles provide a robust solution to these challenges.

With 5G dongles, employees can enjoy high-speed internet access without relying on home broadband or public Wi-Fi networks, both of which can be susceptible to interruptions and security vulnerabilities. This ensures that remote teams can collaborate effectively, accessing cloud-based applications and sharing large files without delay. Furthermore, the enhanced security features of 5G networks provide an added layer of protection, crucial for businesses handling sensitive data.

Enhancing Business Continuity

In today’s business environment, continuity and disaster recovery plans are more critical than ever. Natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or even routine maintenance can disrupt traditional wired and wireless networks, leading to costly downtimes. 5G dongles offer a reliable backup solution to ensure business continuity during such disruptions.

By incorporating 5G dongles into their contingency planning, businesses can maintain internet access and critical operations during unforeseen events. These devices are quick to deploy and can establish temporary network connections, allowing businesses to continue serving their customers and maintaining internal communications without significant interruptions. This resilience is invaluable in protecting revenue streams and maintaining customer trust.

Thinking Business 27
PHONE: 03300 240 180 EMAIL: ADDRESS: Turkey Mill, Maidstone

AI: Avoiding and managing disputes

Whilst AI has the potential to enhance productivity for organisations of all sizes, acquiring and using a system is not without risk.

Disputes with suppliers of AI

What recourse will you have if an AI system you buy does not perform as expected? Most suppliers will try to reduce their

risk, particularly the uncertainty around the terms that might be implied by law (such as under the Sale of Goods Act 1979), by imposing their own written terms and conditions. However, there may still be scope for disagreement about how the terms should be interpreted.

Is the specification clear, what are the outcomes and KPIs for measuring whether the AI meets the requirements? There may be questions over whether defects are in the AI system itself, the data used to train it, generate the output, or applications to which it is connected. This has the potential to create a blame game.

Disputes with service providers who use AI

Liability disputes might arise for businesses using AI to deliver their services. Unless properly excluded, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 implies an obligation to perform a service with reasonable care and skill. The question of whether it was reasonable to use

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AI when providing the service might be contentious.

A duty to avoid being negligent can apply in addition to contractual obligations, or even where there is no contract in place. Simply relying on AI may be risky, without human oversight to review the results. However, even this might not provide a complete answer - what if the human supervisor fails to spot an error? What is reasonable to expect them to be able to spot?

Reducing and managing the risks

Some of the considerations that might mitigate against the risks include:

• Ensuring the specification or scope of work are clear, sufficiently detailed and tailored, together with the method of delivery, and KPIs.

• Anticipating the types of liability that may arise and allocating risks, or at least understanding the allocation. The same applies for warranties on performance

and outputs, and the imposition (or acceptance) of exclusions or limitations of liability.

• Will training be required so users fully understand how the system works and what its limitations are? Aligned to that, ensuring processes and procedures are in place for checking and monitoring the system will be important.

• Is a dispute resolution process required that imposes an obligation on the parties to try to resolve disagreements through prescribed channels before litigation?

Obviously there are many other factors that need to be considered, and it is important for those involved in the acquisition or use of AI, to be alive to the potential risks, as well as the intended upsides. It is essential for all stakeholders to have an understanding of the technology they are dealing with, and the legal landscape that surrounds it.


28 Thinking Business
Cover Feature | Communications & Technology

The Cloud’s Changing Landscape

The cloud revolution has transformed the way businesses operate, this is indisputable. However, recent trends indicate a shift in the cloud landscape, with some companies opting to repatriate their servers back to on-premises environments.

The primary driver behind this trend is the increasing costs associated with cloud subscriptions. Cloud providers have had to adjust their pricing models to continue making a profit as costs spiral out of control. This leads to higher subscription fees for businesses.

For the moment the cloud remains cheap, but the recent changes are starting to make costs deeply unpredictable. Plus, there are concerns about the growing demand for cloud resources from other sectors - it is a sellers’ market. AI companies, for instance, are looking to buy up any cloud computing they can at any cost, driving up prices further.

Beyond cost concerns, while cloud environments offer flexibility and scalability, they also introduce complexities in data management, security, and compliance. The onus is on a company to look after their own data, and make sure it’s backed up. Data in the cloud is not, by default, backed up.

The repatriation of servers doesn’t mean a complete abandonment of cloud services.

Most businesses are adopting hybrid or private cloud strategies, combining on-premises infrastructure with cloud-based services. This approach allows businesses to leverage the benefits of both worlds, reaping the cost savings of on-premises hosting while maintaining access to cloud-specific features and capabilities. This is almost certainly the future of IT.

One popular in-house solution is running Private Cloud on Linux servers, which provides improved performance, reduced latency, and predictable costs through edge computing. Edge computing, simply put, brings data storage and processing closer to the data source, offering faster and more efficient operations.

Before making the decision to repatriate servers, businesses should carefully evaluate their specific needs and requirements. Considerations include:

• Data security and compliance: On-premises hosting offers greater control over data security and compliance, which

may be crucial for businesses handling sensitive information or operating in regulated industries.

• Cost-effectiveness: Businesses should compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) for on-premises hosting to their current cloud costs. Factors like hardware, software, maintenance, and IT expertise should be factored in.

• IT expertise: On-premises hosting requires a dedicated IT team with expertise in managing and maintaining physical infrastructure and network security. Repatriating often involves finding trusted professionals who can assist you in looking after your IT, or solutions like our Contract Hire which take the pain away completely. Predictable costs are enormously helpful to businesses.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to bring servers in-house depends on the specific needs and requirements of each organisation. This is where a trusted, neutral IT team will prove invaluable.

Thinking Business 29
Advertising Feature Email us at Take control of your costs. Take control of your data. Smart, secure technology for business

Reviving technology: Kent County Council’s Device Recycling Scheme

In an era of rapid technological advancement, our lives are inundated with devices that quickly become obsolete. From the latest smartphones to laptops, the lifespan of electronic devices seems to shorten with each new release.

Yet, this cycle of consumption comes at a significant environmental cost, contributing to the fastestgrowing waste stream in the UK: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Kent County Council’s Device Recycling Scheme is tackling this issue head-on, offering a safe, secure, and eco-friendly solution for disposing of unwanted electronics.

A community-centric approach to recycling

Kent County Council’s Device Recycling Scheme is an initiative designed to address the ongoing issue of electronic waste being disposed of improperly or not at all. Whether you’re a resident with a drawer full of old gadgets or a business upgrading its IT infrastructure, the scheme offers a free and easy solution for everyone. The scheme’s mission is not only to mitigate the environmental impact of discarded electronics but also to extend the life of these devices by refurbishing and redistributing them within the local community.

Data sanitisation

One of the most important features of the scheme is its commitment to data security. When devices are handed over for recycling, where applicable, they undergo a meticulous data-wiping process, adhering to the strictest UK legislative standards. This ensures complete erasure of all personal and sensitive information to give all users of the scheme peace of mind. For businesses and organisations, this process comes with the added assurance of receiving data erasure certification, essential for auditing and compliance purposes.

From disposal to reuse

Once data security is ensured, the devices enter the next phase of their journey: refurbishment or recycling. Refurbished devices are used to support local community members who can benefit from access to technology, such as students needing computers for their studies or job seekers requiring tools for employment searches. This aspect of the programme not only promotes sustainability but also fosters digital inclusion, bridging the gap for those who might otherwise be left behind in the digital age.

For devices that cannot be refurbished, the scheme maintains a robust zero-landfill policy. This commitment underscores Kent County Council’s dedication to minimising environmental impact. By ensuring that all electronic waste is processed responsibly, the scheme helps prevent harmful substances from contaminating the environment, thus playing a crucial role in the county’s broader environmental conservation efforts.

The impact so far

The success of the Device Recycling Scheme is reflected in its impressive statistics. Since its inception, the initiative has received over 15,000 donations, diverting thousands of electronic devices from landfills and significantly reducing the volume of e-waste in Kent. Moreover, the value gained from refurbished devices has allowed us to continue to support digital inclusion efforts across the county.

Getting involved

Anyone can donate to the scheme via the online portal. Residents, businesses, charities, and organisations can all take advantage of this free service to dispose of their unwanted electronics responsibly. By doing so, users of the scheme contribute to a larger movement towards sustainability and social equity.

In conclusion, by merging rigorous data security measures with a commitment to refurbishing and recycling, the scheme not only protects the environment but also empowers the local community. It’s a reminder that our discarded devices can have a second life, serving those in need and safeguarding our planet for the future. So, the next time you consider tossing out an old device, remember that through this scheme, your device could find a new purpose and make a meaningful impact.

The service has been shortlisted as a finalist in the LGC Award for Net Zero category. More information here: To find out more, to book a collection and to meet Will the project officer (pictured), visit

30 Thinking Business
Told you you’d love it! If you fancy a demo just get in touch: or 01892 830111. Nick Ellis, Customer Experience Manager, Select Technology

Equity Incentives, an alternative?

Equity incentives, particularly share options, serve as powerful tools for fostering employee engagement and driving business growth, especially in the dynamic landscape of the tech sector. Whether you are a startup or an established player, navigating the complexities of share options requires careful consideration, particularly concerning tax implications.

At the heart of share options lies the aim to reward and retain talent without immediate financial strain. During the initial stages of business, where cash flow may be tight which could restrict the ability to pay high cash salaries, share options can be an attractive addition to help incentivise the right talent to join or stay with the business.

However, the tax landscape surrounding share options is multifaceted. Understanding the nuances can be pivotal to ensure that there are no unexpected tax liabilities. Among the tax-favoured share option plans, the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) is a discretionary plan which is often used due to its significant tax advantages for both employers and employees.

Unlike unapproved, or non-tax favoured options, with EMI options there are no income tax (“IT”) or National Insurance contribution (“NIC”) liabilities on the exercise of an EMI option that was granted with an exercise price equal to the shares market value on the grant date. This means that any growth in the value of the shares from the grant date would be subject to the preferential capital gains tax rates whilst still retaining the corporation tax deduction for the company.

Navigating these options demands meticulous attention to detail and compliance. For instance, ensuring that the company meets the necessary conditions and maintains its qualifying EMI

status requires adherence to specific criteria, failure of which could lead to unexpected tax liabilities. It is essential to have expert guidance to ensure seamless implementation and ongoing compliance.

Within the tech sector, where intellectual property often plays a central role, additional considerations arise. The receipt of royalties or licence fees on third-party software or intellectual property could inadvertently jeopardise EMI qualification, emphasising the importance of getting the right tax advice.

The key takeaway for tech businesses exploring equity incentives and EMI options is clear: getting it right from the outset is paramount. While the potential benefits are substantial, the pitfalls of non-compliance can be costly and challenging to rectify down the line.

At MHA, we offer comprehensive support tailored to the unique needs of tech businesses. With a team boasting decades of collective experience, we provide a full suite of services including, tax advice, assistance with valuation and obtaining HMRC’s agreement to that value, as well ongoing compliance, we ensure that your equity incentive plans are not only effective but also compliant.


Adapting to change: How the new minimum wage is accelerating automation in sales and marketing

Starting in April 2024, the UK saw its largestever increase to the minimum wage, with rates for workers aged 21 and over soaring to £11.44 - an increase of 9.8%. While this marks a significant step forward for employees, it also presents a substantial challenge for businesses, particularly in Kent, where the cost of doing business is rising sharply.

Local companies, especially those with extensive sales and marketing teams, are in a predicament. The need to balance rising wage costs with the need to maintain or even boost productivity is pushing many towards a pivotal decision: hiring fewer new staff and increasingly turning to technological solutions.

The problem: Balancing wage costs with productivity

As businesses in Kent face these financial pressures, the question becomes: How can they continue to grow and succeed without compromising on the quality of service or staff well-being? This is where automation and CRM platforms come into play, providing a timely solution.

Automation as a strategic response

Adopting automated systems like HubSpot and Pipedrive can significantly alleviate these challenges. These platforms automate tasks

across sales and marketing, from customer relationship management to data analysis and campaign operations. The result? Higher accuracy, increased speed, and reduced need for extensive manpower.

Implications for business owners and managers in Kent

Integrating these technologies might initially seem daunting for managers overseeing teams. However, embracing CRM and automation opens up invaluable opportunities for innovation and growth. By reducing overheads and enhancing productivity, your business can scale more effectively and remain competitive in Kent’s fast-paced market.

Maintaining the human element

Despite the push towards automation, the human element - your team’s creativity, empathy and strategic insight - remains crucial. Kent businesses that find the right balance between technology and human talent are poised for enduring success.

Key takeaways and solutions

For business leaders and professionals across Kent, understanding how to integrate tools like HubSpot and Pipedrive into your operations is not merely about adapting to wage increases - it’s about turning these challenges into opportunities for significant growth. Flowbird is a CRM marketing and sales automation agency, and we would be happy to guide you through this transition, ensuring that your business adapts and thrives in the face of these new economic realities. We recognise the unique challenges and opportunities this wage increase presents. As a proud Patron of Kent Invicta Chamber, we would be delighted to show you how strategic automation can transform these challenges into growth and success for your business.

32 Thinking Business
Patron Tech Comment
Flowbird Ltd

Avondale - protecting native oak trees

Avondale Environmental Services has been busy continuing its annual work to control the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) population, a threat to some species of oak trees.

The moths were accidentally introduced to England in 2005; large populations have the ability to strip oak trees bare, leaving them vulnerable to pests, disease and drought. Close contact can also cause sores and blisters in humans.

Appointed by Network Rail, every March, Avondale takes on this high-risk work, to survey sites within the rail infrastructure in the South East and London considered by the Forestry Commission to be vulnerable to OPM infestation. During April to June, when the trees have a full canopy of leaves, the team safely sprays a chemical which dries on the leaves, killing the caterpillars before they can become moths and reproduce.

Avondale uses a unique specialised Rail Road Vehicle, their custom-designed Unimog Spray Unit which has a spray boom allowing for the safe treatment of infestations from the railway track and off track. Each site is visited up to four times, usually at night or early morning depending on the size and location of the area, and access.

Failure by Network Rail to act to control the problem could result in a fine from the Forestry Commission. This important work with Network Rail helps them fulfil their duties to the Government, and is just one of the ways Avondale works with clients across the UK to help promote biodiversity and protect our native environment.

Data expert launches free tool to help businesses six years after GDPR introduction

It’s six years since the introduction of the GDPR and if you’re still baffled, you’re not alone! Many businesses are still confused by the regulations and unsure about whether they are as compliant as they should be.

GDPR and data privacy expert Judith Andrews from Business Tamer helps to demystify the jargon for clients and take away the fear around GDPR. Understanding what data you can collect, and how to use and store it responsibly can be a game-changer for business growth and development. But still, there is a fear around what to collect and how to use it.

That’s why she has launched a free tool –Privacy 360. This new service is a simple set of questions around four areas – organisation, people, customers, and prospects – to help you think about the different ways data protection affects your business.

Once completed, you will receive a personalised report with recommendations and actions.

It could help you with:

- Maximising your database for direct marketing – which customers you can target, when and how, to increase sales and loyalty

- Employee files – what data you can hold on your staff and potential recruits, how you can use it, as well as responsible staff monitoring

- CCTV – using it legitimately, restricting access to necessary individuals only, and appropriate storage

- Data mapping – understanding the personal data you hold, any potential threats to individuals’ privacy and how to mitigate those risks

Judith says: “Getting to grips with your data need not be complicated or scary – it really can unlock a wealth of potential in your business. You just need to understand how.”

Judith Andrews Business Tamer

Priority freight secures the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise

Priority Freight, a freight and logistics specialist, has been honoured with the King’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. This prestigious award recognises the company’s good business practices and significant, sustained growth in overseas sales.

The company, founded in 1996, employs nearly 300 people, operating from nine offices in the UK and Europe. Priority Freight, which also won the Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2020, provides timecritical logistics solutions around the globe, working 24/7, 365 days a year.

Neal Williams, Managing Director, said: “We are exceptionally proud to have been recognised with this distinguished award and would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the whole team. Normally, recipients have to wait a further five years before reapplying but Priority Freight’s continued achievements secured an outstanding growth award despite a particularly fast-changing and challenging period in logistics.

“The last few years have seen unforeseen adversities in our industry from factors such as Brexit, global conflicts, and the coronavirus pandemic. To attain this highly esteemed commendation despite the challenging backdrop is a tribute to our global teamwork, innovation and agility.”

Priority Freight’s largest volume of work comes from the global automotive industry.

The company offers a wide range of services globally to support their customers’ supply chains, from dedicated vehicles through to on board couriers, air freight, air charters and project cargo management.

Recent examples range from providing dedicated full trailer loads to move engines from Eastern Europe to the UK and chartering two 747s to collect engine components from the Far East to maintain production during the Red Sea crisis.

Neal Williams added: “We are fortunate to have a wonderful team of committed, hard-working and high-achieving staff. Our people are our biggest asset and every day they orchestrate complex deliveries within an ever-challenging industry. Their knowledge, combined with a high-tech transport management system, provides a rapid response when a client needs it the most.”

The King’s Awards for Enterprise, previously known as the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, are now in their 58th year.

For more information, visit

Thinking Business 33
Members News

Customer care at the heart of IT service provider

Are computer issues slowing down your business? Are you lacking an IT strategy? Business Computer Solutions could be the remedy you’ve been looking for.

BCS is an award-winning IT support and security Managed Service Provider (MSP) based in Thanet. Proud to be employeeowned since 2018, the company has an over-99% customer satisfaction rate and a 15-minute response-time guarantee. BCS says it can bring the personalised touch of small-business service to the forefront of construction and manufacturing enterprises in Kent.

Customer care is at the core of all BCS operations, say bosses, with a dedicated team of IT support engineers, security and compliance experts and personalised account management, all tailored to your individual needs.

With the rampant evolution of cyber threats, now could be the ideal time to outsource your IT support to the experts. As well as BCS’s IT helpdesk, it also offers comprehensive security packages and consultancy, catering to the escalating demands of your business, ensuring compliance with legal regulations and insurance requirements to further futureproof your business.

With a commitment to safeguarding your valuable data from potential vulnerabilities, BCS offers a range of solutions to mitigate risks and ensure uninterrupted productivity.

Visit for information.

Five business benefits of filmed podcasts

Podcasts offer a lot of benefits to businesspeople and entrepreneurs, and what’s more, they can be a lot of fun.

Here are five benefits of getting involved:

1. Shareable content

You generate instantly shareable content, which can range from the podcast in its entirety to soundbites to cover certain nuggets of information for your audience.

2. Industry respect

It can take time to build up clout in your industry, especially if you lack time to network in person. But podcasts are a fast way to be heard amongst your industry audience – and you gain captive interest in the process. Appear on the right podcasts, show your knowledge, and contribute

to the debate, and you’ll rapidly gain respect and clout amongst your peers.

3. Simplicity

Podcast appearances are quick and easy, and they have an immediate impact too. What could be simpler than having a relevant conversation with a fellow industry professional and growing your reputation and brand in the process?

4. A platform pitch

A filmed podcast is a natural way of offering you a pitch for your brand’s offer. This is the perfect opportunity to really sell what you do and offer in a compelling, immediate, and highly relevant way.

5. Podcasts are enjoyable!

Podcast hosts are skilled interviewers, and they know how to make the experience fun and enjoyable. A great podcast is filled with rich content, humour, engaging conversation, and plenty of energy, so you can enjoy the experience of your host and allow your contributions to be expertly guided for the best possible result. Podcast recording is a lot of fun! Which reasons will encourage you to guest on a podcast this coming season?

See the full list of Brilliant Businesses podcasts at

Nurturing wellbeing in Kent with mental health courses

A family-run firm is making strides in the mental health and wellbeing sector in Kent.

The mission of Delamill Tutoring revolves around providing essential resources to individuals and businesses, driven by a commitment to positive transformation.

The small firm, located in the heart of Kent, offers a range of services tailored to meet the multifaceted needs of its clients, with its “unwavering commitment to mental health first aid training” (MHFA) at the core of its offerings, says its director.

Through MHFA England Adult and Youth courses, available both online and face-to-face, Delamill Tutoring empowers

individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide crucial support to those navigating mental health challenges.

Recognising that conflict can significantly impact mental health, the company’s professional mediation services create a safe space for open dialogue, facilitating conflict resolution and relationship rebuilding within workplaces.

The team designs customised wellbeing workshops tailored to the unique needs of businesses and employees. These workshops not only enhance mental resilience but also foster

unity and camaraderie among teams.

The company’s director says: “At Delamill, we believe in delivering professionalism with a personal touch. With years of experience, our team has mastered the art of blending professionalism with genuine empathy. Our deep understanding of mental health issues is coupled with a compassionate approach, creating a harmonious balance that supports overall wellbeing.

“We are advocates for mental health, champions of growth, and partners in fostering positive change.”

34 Thinking Business Members News

Kent’s property sector predicts growth for year ahead

Kent’s property and construction businesses remain optimistic despite the unsteady economic environment, with over 86% predicting growth in the coming year, a survey has revealed.

Industry leaders from across Kent’s property sector gathered in May for the annual Property Outlook event, co-hosted by law firm Brachers, Caxtons Property Consultants, both Patrons of Kent Invicta Chamber, and accountancy firm Crowe.

This year’s event, held at the Shepherd Neame Brewery in Faversham, explored the sector’s challenges and opportunities through speeches by industry experts, including Kieran Dent and Patrick Campbell of the Bank of England’s South East and East Anglia Agency. Each year, attendees are surveyed on a range of questions touching upon the economy and business confidence.

Optimism among property professionals appears to have been buoyed by recent news that inflation has fallen to 2.3% - down from the 40-year high of 11.1% in October 2022. Likewise, the announcement that GDP grew by 0.6% in Q1, lifting the UK out of technical recession, will have raised spirits.

When surveyed, 86% of attendees predicted year-on-year growth in their business’ turnover and profits over the coming year. This is up 12% compared to last year’s responses. Nonetheless, inflationary pressures (such as material costs and wages), and issues around the recruitment and retention of staff, remain the most reported obstacles to growth.

Ash Jilani, Commercial Property Partner at Brachers, remarked: “Kent’s property sector is known for its resilience, but its had to withstand a raft of economic shocks over the last few

years, from the pandemic to geopolitical unrest. The sector has undoubtedly felt the pinch due to rising overheads, with 60% of attendees reporting that people-related cost increases are having the greatest impact on their business, while 30% suggest that material costs are taking a toll.

“However, now that energy and fuel costs have come down, their impact is naturally lessening, with only 7% of respondents reporting such costs as having the greatest impact. One would hope that as the benefit of dwindling inflation begins to trickle through the economy, the financial pressures on Kent’s property businesses will be further alleviated.”

As with many businesses across the county, balancing growth with sustainability remains a key challenge. Simon Crookston, Corporate Tax Partner at Crowe UK, commented: “While being net zero is not yet a strategic objective for most businesses in the property and construction sector over the next two years, almost half said they were committed to significantly reducing their emissions over the next two years. This indicates a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability and the need to mitigate environmental impact, even if immediate net zero targets are not feasible.”

“For many businesses the primary challenge to achieving net zero or advancing sustainability in the property and construction sector is cost. Implementing sustainable practices often requires substantial initial investments in new technologies, materials, and processes. For instance, energy-efficient systems, renewable energy installations, and sustainable building materials are typically more expensive upfront compared to traditional alternatives.

Additionally, there are costs associated with retrofitting existing buildings to meet higher sustainability standards.”

Despite these challenges, business confidence within the sector remains high. Mark Coxon, Director (Business Space M25 South East) at Caxtons, commented: “It was good to hear that three-quarters of attendees felt that confidence in the property and construction sector would increase over the year, and another 17% felt it would stay the same, which aligns with Caxtons’ findings in our annual Kent Property Market Report published last November.

“That report found that there were tentative signs of recovery, but our recent May update showed that the Investment Property Forum (IPF) and others are predicting an improvement in UK property performance in 2024, as falling interest rates support subdued rental growth and a stabilisation of capital values for first class assets, ahead of a more sustained recovery in 2025.

“Increasing rents in some sectors and the number of projects underway particularly in the industrial and distribution sector, also show that confidence in the sector is increasing.

“When asked what one thing government could do to significantly help the property and construction industry, 35% said planning reform - the top result by a good margin. We know developers and investors find planning frustrating, particularly in Kent where nutrient neutrality rules in Ashford and East Kent continue to prevent construction of a large number of much-needed homes. Although constructive dialogue is underway, there is still no solution in sight.”

Thinking Business 35
Simon Crookston (Crowe), Ash Jilani (Brachers), Patrick Campbell (Bank of England), Kieran Dent (Bank of England), Mark Coxon (Caxtons Property Consultants) Photography: Matthew Walker
Tudor Price, CEO, Kent Invicta Chamber attended the Property Outlook event

UK trade picks up as global demand recovers

Responding to the latest ONS Trade figures published in April, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is difficult to draw concrete conclusions from a single month’s data, but there are signs of a nascent improvement in import and export volumes as global demand slowly recovers.

36 Thinking Business International Trade

“The Office for Budget Responsibility’s recent analysis also indicated we should see a modest improvement in net trade this year. But data for the last three months of UK trade, overall, remains challenging.

“Geopolitical factors also continue to cloud the picture for global trade and could well weaken projected growth in the coming 18 months.

“Further measures are required by policymakers to nurture the green shoots we are seeing. The UK needs to ensure the

Exports Strategy is delivering where it needs to, particularly around digital trade and across a wider range of UK economic sectors.

“The Government’s new Critical Imports Council needs to focus on improving supply chain security and diversification with business and industry.

“The data also illustrates the need to keep trade costs as low as possible.”

He added this is a “major concern” for British traders given new border charges on certain food and plant imports from the EU and increasing regulatory compliance burdens on cross-border trade.

The UK Trade picture in detail

February’s figures showed an improvement in month-on-month UK goods and services trade, both in value terms and after inflationary effects are removed. The increases occurred for both imports and exports.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has forecasted stronger global merchandise trade volumes in 2024 and 2025 compared with 2023 – predicting a 2.6% rise in volumes this year, and 3.3% in 2025.

As inflationary pressures abate, global consumer demand for goods and services is likely to generate trade growth over the next two years. But geopolitical uncertainty remains the biggest unknown factor around the forecasts.

Goods Imports

During February, import volumes rose by 0.3% excluding inflation (but declined by 0.4% in cash value terms). There was a 3% rise in EU imports volumes which was offset by a 3.3% drop from the rest of the world. Imports of medicines and pharmaceutical products from the US declined. There were higher imports of ships from Italy and mechanical machinery from Germany. Food imports from the Netherlands fell, particularly in meat, following new border requirements being introduced for EU imports on 31st January.

Goods Exports

Overall volumes rose by 1.7% during February – with a 3.4% rise to the rest of the world but a more static picture for the EU. In value terms, UK exports to the rest of the world increased by 4%, while overall UK goods exports increased by 0.9%. Aircraft exports to France, and mechanical machinery exports to Germany were noticeable areas of improvement.


On UK services trade, after removing inflationary effects, imports rose by 0.5% in February with exports rising by 0.4%. A similar picture emerged for the actual values over the same period.

Concerns rise over customs costs

The British Chambers of Commerce remains concerned about the impact on small British businesses of new customs checks and charges that came into force on 30th April.

The second phase of the UK’s Border Target Operating Model introduced charges of up to £145 for imports of plant and animal products.

It will be the first time for decades that firms will have to pay such fees for EU imports of goods arriving in Great Britain, and it is unclear how prepared many are for the change.

Depending on the EU exporter’s classification, the charges will either be paid by it or the British importer, but either way the costs are likely be passed on to consumers.

There is also uncertainty around which consignments will be subject to checks from 30th April, due to issues with border computer systems. Only higher risk goods will be subject to checks initially, but there is no definitive list confirming which ones, nor any timetable for when other goods will be added.

Government figures show the UK imports just under 30 per cent of all the food it consumes from the EU. William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: “Firms face mounting confusion and uncertainty about exactly how and when the borders checks and costs will be fully implemented. It is crucial for business and trade that the Government gives clarity on what is happening.

“While the Government did consult on the new charges being introduced it chose not to listen. The size of these costs shows scant regard to the interests of either businesses or consumers.

“A flat rate fee for bringing most animal and plant products into the UK is a hammer blow for small and medium sized importers. It’s also deeply concerning for retailers, cafés and restaurants.

“Importing a small consignment of goods with only five different meat, poultry, egg, milk or some fish products in the medium risk category will now face a bill of £145 per package under these proposals.

“The Government should immediately exclude firms in the trusted trader scheme from these charges which would give many smaller businesses some relief. But in the long-term, these checks and costs should be done away with by reaching an agri-food deal with the EU, something we have consistently called for.

“With interest rates still high, inflation well above its two per cent target and supply chain disruption continuing to build, these costs and uncertainty are the last thing firms need.”

International Trade
Thinking Business 37 Image: Pixabay

ASK the Expert

Digital Transformation Consultancy for all industries

At Flipjack, we are a professional and results-driven agile Digital Transformation Consultancy. With key involvement in projects with clients in the UK, UAE, and North America, we ensure your data is kept secure and well-managed at all times. Your Data is our Passion.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a pivotal force. It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a set of technologies that can significantly enhance your existing content and business processes. Striking a balance between the efficiency gains offered by AI and ethical considerations is paramount to ensuring the responsible deployment of these technologies in content management. AI can streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and provide valuable insights for improving content management.

u How can businesses leverage AI for Content Migration?

One of the challenges in content migration is extracting relevant metadata. AI can automate this process, identifying and extracting key information from documents, images, and other unstructured data. Intelligence can be used to classify and tag specific unstructured datasets at scale, allowing for more accurate, and less labour-intensive enrichment of document metadata.

Flipjack can help streamline the transition from legacy Electronic Content Management systems to modern platforms like Azure and Microsoft 365 and possesses the ability to discover, segment, classify your content, and integrate Intelligence and AI capabilities where there is value in doing so.

u Can AI Aid in Proper Content Governance?

Governance is critical in managing enterprise content. AI can aid in enforcing content governance policies by automatically identifying sensitive or non-compliant information. This proactive approach to content governance helps maintain compliance with regulations like GDPR.

u How can AI enhance Business Decision-Making?

By analysing historical data patterns, AI can provide actionable insights, helping businesses make informed decisions about their content strategy.

This foresight can be invaluable in optimising content lifecycle management and enhancing user engagement.

u How can the experience of users be personalised with AI?

AI can personalise user experiences by learning individual preferences and usage patterns.

Additionally, AI has the remarkable ability to personalise by adapting to individual preferences and usage patterns.

u How does AI-Driven Content Enrichment benefit me?

Beyond migration, AI can enrich content by adding contextual information, summaries, or even suggesting related content. This not only adds value to the migrated content but also enhances the overall knowledge management within an organisation.

38 Thinking Business
Ask the Expert
Harnessing AI for Enhanced Content Management • Tel: 07780 880191

BCC: Firms are treading water on investment

A new survey shows most firms reporting no improvement in investment levels, sales or cashflow in the first quarter of 2024.

The British Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and longest-running business survey – has revealed that levels of business confidence remain unchanged, with 56% of UK businesses expecting an increase in turnover in the next 12 months.

The hospitality sector continues to struggle disproportionately, with 39% of the firms surveyed reporting a decrease in their cash flow, compared with 28% of respondents overall.

With inflation likely to remain volatile over the coming months – the data also reveals that more firms expect hikes in their own prices, with staffing costs being the main pressure. The survey, conducted between 12 February and 12 March, of more than 4,800 firms across the UK – 92% of whom are SMEs (fewer than 250 employees) – also reveals business performance across different sectors varies considerably.

No improvement in overall business conditions

The percentage of respondents reporting increased domestic sales stayed at 36%, the same level as Q4. Likewise for the second quarter in a row, 22% reported a decrease and 42% said sales had remained constant.

But there were significant sectoral differences: 44% of professional service firms said they had seen a boost in sales, whereas only 27% of logistic companies and 29% of retailers saw an increase.

Business confidence remains unchanged

Of those surveyed, 56% expect to see their turnover increase over the next 12 months – the same as Q4 2023. Only 14% of respondents are expecting to see their financial situation worsen in the year ahead, 29% expect things to remain the same.

Profitability confidence has remained static, with 48% of companies saying they expect profits to increase in the next year, that compares to 47% in Q4. A total of 21% of respondents believe their profits will fall.

Most firms still not increasing investment

Economic headwinds continue to impact heavily on business investment. Most firms say they haven’t increased the amount of new plant, machinery and equipment they have bought or rented. Only 24% reported an increase in investment (the same as Q4), while 60% said levels had remained the same, 16% reported a decrease.

There are large sectoral disparities in investment levels: 28% of hospitality sector firms say they have decreased investment, while 30% of manufacturing businesses have increased investment.

Many firms expect their prices to rise

A total of 46% of respondents are predicting an increase (compared with 47% in Q4), 51% think prices will stay the same, and just 3% are anticipating a decrease.

Labour costs are cited as the main cost pressure across all businesses. For the second quarter running, 68% of responding firms say they are under pressure to raise prices because of staffing costs. Some sectors are feeling this pressure more than others, with 77% of hospitality firms and 76% of manufacturers citing it as a key driver.

Interest rates continue to decline as a concern

While inflation remains firms’ biggest concern, business worries about interest rates continue to gradually fall.

UK economy stuck on a low growth treadmill

With GDP growth of 0.2% in the three months to February, and 0.1% on a monthly basis, there is “little sign of the landscape changing soon”, said David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce.

He said the data “confirms once again that the UK economy is stuck on a lowgrowth treadmill”.

“However, it may indicate that the technical recession ended at the end of last year,” he added.

“Boosting business investment is fundamental to securing stronger economic growth. While business confidence remains buoyant, our latest Quarterly Economic Survey showed continued tough business conditions with most SMEs not increasing their investment.

“Firms are still facing significant cost pressures from historically high inflation and interest rates, skills shortages, and even more trade barriers with EU. Businesses desperately need a long-term economic plan that drives investment and innovation.”

Thinking Business 39 Economy

Every month we bring you a mix of information sessions, networking events, workshops and training sessions with some of the top local business professionals from an array of different industries. Each event is designed to offer invaluable up-to-date information tailored to our attendee’s wants and needs, as well as networking opportunities to help you grow your business.

Every month we bring you a mix of information sessions, networking events, workshops and training sessions with some of the top local business professionals from an array of different industries. Each event is designed to offer invaluable up-to-date information tailored to our attendee’s wants and needs, as well as networking opportunities to help you grow your business.

With a mix of events held online and face to face across Kent, you’re sure to find the right one for you.

With a mix of events held online and face to face across Kent, you’re sure to find the right one for you.

Kent Construction Focus Group

Kent Construction Focus Group

8:30am - 10:30am

8:30am - 10:30am

KCFG Members: £17.50 + VAT | Non-Members: £27.50 + VAT Discovery Park, Sandwich, Tuesday 2nd July 2024

KCFG Members: £17.50 + VAT | Non-Members: £27.50 + VAT Discovery Park, Sandwich, Tuesday 2nd July 2024

Hosted by members of the KCFG committee, Cheryl Causebrook and Ella Brocklebank, we bring you KCFG

Hosted by members of the KCFG committee, Cheryl Causebrook and Ella Brocklebank, we bring you KCFG

The Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) is a one stop shop for local businesses to discuss the future of Kent development, giving companies access to local knowledge, expertise and contracts.

The Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) is a one stop shop for local businesses to discuss the future of Kent development, giving companies access to local knowledge, expertise and contracts.

During the morning you will enjoy a full English breakfast which will be followed by a presentation from our guest speakers.

During the morning you will enjoy a full English breakfast which will be followed by a presentation from our guest speakers.

Enjoy a selection of breakfast baps and pastries served along with hot/cold beverages.

Enjoy a selection of breakfast baps and pastries served along with hot/cold beverages.

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

Free to Attend | 10:00am - 12:00pm

Free to Attend | 10:00am - 12:00pm Saracen Horse Feeds, Aylesford, Wednesday 26th June 2024

Saracen Horse Feeds, Aylesford, Wednesday 26th June 2024

Free to Attend | 12:00pm - 2:00pm

Free to Attend | 12:00pm - 2:00pm Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, Wednesday 31st July 2024

Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, Wednesday 31st July 2024

Kent & Medway Manufacturing Focus Group (KMFG) is a networking and business group for Manufacturing & Engineering organisations across Kent and Medway offering unique access to peers and colleagues, sector specific information, advice and support.

Kent & Medway Manufacturing Focus Group (KMFG) is a networking and business group for Manufacturing & Engineering organisations across Kent and Medway offering unique access to peers and colleagues, sector specific information, advice and support.

The group meets every last Wednesday of the month. KMFG is open to all organisations operating or directly supporting the Manufacturing and Engineering sector in Kent & Medway, whether they are Chamber Members or not.

The group meets every last Wednesday of the month. KMFG is open to all organisations operating or directly supporting the Manufacturing and Engineering sector in Kent & Medway, whether they are Chamber Members or not.

40 Thinking Business

2:00pm - 4:00pm

2:00pm - 4:00pm

Members: £12.50 + VAT | Non-Members: £22.50 + VAT Bar Games at Boom Battle Bar, Canterbury, Thursday 20th June 2024

2:00pm - 4:00pm

Members: £12.50 + VAT | Non-Members: £22.50 + VAT Bar Games at Boom Battle Bar, Canterbury, Thursday 20th June 2024

Members: £12.50 + VAT | Non-Members: £22.50 + VAT Bar Games at Boom Battle Bar, Canterbury, Thursday 20th June 2024

Get ready for some friendly competition at the axe throwing lanes, followed by the mini-golf course. Dartboards provide a backdrop for lively conversations, while the shuffleboard tables offer a space for strategic planning!

Get ready for some friendly competition at the axe throwing lanes, followed by the mini-golf course. Dartboards provide a backdrop for lively conversations, while the shuffleboard tables offer a space for strategic planning!

Get ready for some friendly competition at the axe throwing lanes, followed by the mini-golf course. Dartboards provide a backdrop for lively conversations, while the shuffleboard tables offer a space for strategic planning!

10:30am - 12:30pm

10:30am - 12:30pm

10:30am - 12:30pm

Members: £15.00 + VAT | Non-Members: £25.00 + VAT Activity Tour at Cyclopark, Gravesend, Wednesday 24th July 2024

Members: £15.00 + VAT | Non-Members: £25.00 + VAT Activity Tour at Cyclopark, Gravesend, Wednesday 24th July 2024

Members: £15.00 + VAT | Non-Members: £25.00 + VAT Activity Tour at Cyclopark, Gravesend, Wednesday 24th July 2024

During this event, you will have the chance to network in a unique environment whilst also having the opportunity to take part in some of the activities on offer at the 43-acre venue.

During this event, you will have the chance to network in a unique environment whilst also having the opportunity to take part in some of the activities on offer at the 43-acre venue.

During this event, you will have the chance to network in a unique environment whilst also having the opportunity to take part in some of the activities on offer at the 43-acre venue.

Business Walks

Business Walks

Business Walks

10:30am - 12:30pm

Chamber Connections Networking

Chamber Connections Networking

10:30am - 12:30pm

10:30am - 12:30pm

Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT

The Lost Gardens, Sevenoaks, Tuesday 18th June 2024 Venue TBA, Thursday 18th July 2024

Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT

Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT

The Lost Gardens, Sevenoaks, Tuesday 18th June 2024 Venue TBA, Thursday 18th July 2024

The Lost Gardens, Sevenoaks, Tuesday 18th June 2024

Venue TBA, Thursday 18th July 2024

Business Walks returns for another year - it is well known that walking in nature can uplift your mental and physical wellbeing!

Business Walks returns for another year - it is well known that walking in nature can uplift your mental and physical wellbeing!

Business Walks returns for another year - it is well known that walking in nature can uplift your mental and physical wellbeing!

With this in mind why not Connect, Collaborate and Support other business owners, professionals and employees through walking and talking.

With this in mind why not Connect, Collaborate and Support other business owners, professionals and employees through walking and talking.

With this in mind why not Connect, Collaborate and Support other business owners, professionals and employees through walking and talking.

Chamber Connections

Chamber Connections

Chamber Connections

10:30am - 12:00pm (Sponsored by A4G Chartered Accountants) Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT Mercure Maidstone Hotel, Maidstone, Thursday 6th June 2024

10:30am - 12:00pm (Sponsored by A4G Chartered Accountants)

10:30am - 12:00pm (Sponsored by A4G Chartered Accountants)

Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT

Members: Free to Attend | Non-Members: £10.00 + VAT Mercure Maidstone Hotel, Maidstone, Thursday 6th June 2024

Mercure Maidstone Hotel, Maidstone, Thursday 6th June 2024

Join others for our very popular Chamber Connections Networking event and receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative on arrival, who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community.

Join others for our very popular Chamber Connections Networking event and receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative on arrival, who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community.

Join others for our very popular Chamber Connections Networking event and receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative on arrival, who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community.

Any business, any size, we know and understand the pressures and ambitions your business has. Imagine what you could achieve being part of a local business community.

Any business, any size, we know and understand the pressures and ambitions your business has. Imagine what you could achieve being part of a local business community.

Any business, any size, we know and understand the pressures and ambitions your business has. Imagine what you could achieve being part of a local business community.

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

10:30am - 12:00pm, Online via Zoom Free to Attend

10:30am - 12:00pm, Online via Zoom Free to Attend

10:30am - 12:00pm, Online via Zoom Free to Attend

Tuesday 11th June 2024 | Tuesday 25th June 2024

Tuesday 11th June 2024 | Tuesday 25th June 2024

Tuesday 9th July 2024 | Tuesday 23rd July 2024

Tuesday 11th June 2024 | Tuesday 25th June 2024 Tuesday 9th July 2024 | Tuesday 23rd July 2024

Tuesday 9th July 2024 | Tuesday 23rd July 2024

Each event will be an eclectic mix of conversation topics as we interview our guest business and encourage questions from the attendees, making sure we bring you the networking event you want to be involved in.

Each event will be an eclectic mix of conversation topics as we interview our guest business and encourage questions from the attendees, making sure we bring you the networking event you want to be involved in.

Each event will be an eclectic mix of conversation topics as we interview our guest business and encourage questions from the attendees, making sure we bring you the networking event you want to be involved in.

Conversations with our guest speaker will be followed by 3 breakout room sessions where attendees can delve deeper into this discussion, or discuss their own topic in more depth.

Conversations with our guest speaker will be followed by 3 breakout room sessions where attendees can delve deeper into this discussion, or discuss their own topic in more depth.

Conversations with our guest speaker will be followed by 3 breakout room sessions where attendees can delve deeper into this discussion, or discuss their own topic in more depth.

Thursday 6th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Mercure Maidstone Hotel, Maidstone, ME17 1RE

Thursday 6th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Mercure Maidstone Hotel, Maidstone, ME17 1RE

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 11th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Tuesday 11th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Business Bites – Martyn’s Law (Protection of Premises Bill)

Sponsored by Not Another Marketing Agency

Business Bites – Martyn’s Law (Protection of Premises Bill)

Thursday 13th June 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm Online via Zoom

Sponsored by Not Another Marketing Agency

Thursday 13th June 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm

Online via Zoom

Business Walks Networking

Business Walks Networking

Tuesday 18th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm The Lost Gardens, Sevenoaks, TN15 0HB

Tuesday 18th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm The Lost Gardens, Sevenoaks, TN15 0HB

Business Talks – Bar Games at Boom Battle Bar

Thursday 20th June 2024 | 2:00pm - 4:00pm Boom Battle Bar, Canterbury, CT1 1BN

Business Talks – Bar Games at Boom Battle Bar

Thursday 20th June 2024 | 2:00pm - 4:00pm Boom Battle Bar, Canterbury, CT1 1BN

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 25th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Tuesday 25th June 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

Wednesday 26th June 2024 | 10:00am - 12:00pm Saracen Horse Feeds, Aylesford, ME20 7BT

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

Wednesday 26th June 2024 | 10:00am - 12:00pm Saracen Horse Feeds, Aylesford, ME20 7BT

Business Bites – Kent’s Next-Gen Speed Boost

Thursday 27th June 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm Online via Zoom

Business Bites – Kent’s Next-Gen Speed Boost

Thursday 27th June 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm Online via Zoom

Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) Tuesday 2nd July 2024 | 8:30am - 10:30am

Discovery Park, Sandwich, CT13 9FE

Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) Tuesday 2nd July 2024 | 8:30am - 10:30am Discovery Park, Sandwich, CT13 9FE

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 9th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Tuesday 9th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Business Bites – Protecting Your Business; Ensuring Continuity And Security Sponsored by Not Another Marketing Agency

Thursday 11th July 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm Online via Zoom

Business Bites – Protecting Your Business; Ensuring Continuity And Security Sponsored by Not Another Marketing Agency Thursday 11th July 2024 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm Online via Zoom

Business Walks Networking

Business Walks Networking

Thursday 18th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm

Thursday 18th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm

Virtual Business Networking

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 23rd July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Tuesday 23rd July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:00pm Online via Zoom

Business Talks – Activity Tour at Cyclopark

Business Talks – Activity Tour at Cyclopark

Wednesday 24th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm Cyclopark, Gravesend, DA11 7NP

Wednesday 24th July 2024 | 10:30am - 12:30pm Cyclopark, Gravesend, DA11 7NP

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

Wednesday 31st July 2024 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm The Hub - Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, ME9 8PX

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group Wednesday 31st July 2024 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm The Hub - Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, ME9 8PX

Thinking Business 41
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Thursday 3 October 2024

Kent Event Centre, Detling

Discover the Future of Construction

Kent Construction EXPO has run for over 10 years –bringing together the Kent and South East construction community to stay up to date on the latest industry trends and innovations.

We are delighted to unveil not only a fresh new look but also event updates:

Curated Conference Programme

Focused Workshops with Facilitated Networking

Two New Enclosed Workshop Rooms

CPD Accreditation

2024 Conference topics include:

Digital Construction: Discover how AI is transforming project planning, design, construction, and management.

Sustainability: Explore the critical role of sustainability in shaping the future of construction.

Building Safety Act: Stay informed on the latest developments with the Building Safety Act.

Procurement: Explore the Procurement Act's key provisions, common tendering challenges, and strategies.

Join us for an unmissable day! Networking breakfast, exhibition & conference, drinks reception and gala dinner –a must-attend event for industry professionals.

Register now for free Produced by:
Headline Sponsors: Sector Development Partner Gala Dinner Sponsor Drinks Reception Sponsor Silver Sponsor Event Partners:

Thinking Business 45 We’ve helped members and businesses across a range of industries, including arts venues, care homes, schools, farms, and manufacturing sites to name but a few!
Solar has the technical expertise and resources to handle installations of all sizes, whether ground-mounted, pitched
flat roof –we can deliver for you. Why Greenman Solar?
Great Service – over 1,500 happy customers.
Extensive Experience – no matter the type of solution needed.
Best Quality – products and workmanship, all accredited
Long Established – installing solutions since 2011. MEMBER OFFER FREE Site Survey & NO obligation quote GREENMAN SOLAR are specialists in the design and installation of renewable energy systems across Kent and the Southeast • 01233 612082 • We do the words... • LinkedIn profiles • Key messages • Customer journey • Printed materials Book an audit today: • Discovery meeting • Appraisal report • Improvement plan ...and we do the pictures The creative wingmates to your business • Logo Design • Visual Identity • Website Creation • Marketing Materials 01732 920236 | | | 07748 631100 £195 +VAT

We pride ourselves on being a local company for local businesses and want to help business owners to be fully compliant at affordable prices.


• Mental Health First Aid Courses (Various)

• IOSH Managing Safely – recommended for all Managers / Supervisors (3 Days)

• IOSH Safety, Health and Environment for Construction Workers (Needed for the Green CSCS Card – (1 Day)

• Emergency First Aid in the Workplace (1 Day)

• First Aid at Work (3 Days)

• First Aid Annual Refresher (4 Hours)

• Basic life support and AED Use (4 Hours)

• Manual Handling Training (4 Hours)

• COSHH Awareness (4 Hours)

• Fire Marshal / Warden (4 Hours)

We also design tailored courses for individual company requirements. A lot of our training can also be delivered online to suit the needs of the learner and company.

0800 193 0246

Welcome to our new members

21 Together

Maidstone 01622 230720

Providing support for family members, carers, friends, and professionals supporting children and young people with Down’s syndrome

Appointee Services

Chatham 01634 718247

Offering services to all individuals who are for many reasons unable to manage their own finances

Beyond Our Dreams Ltd

Kent 07887 788013

The ‘Meet your Inspiration’ podcast by Beyond Our Dreams Ltd, is designed to inspire and motivate by sharing stories of leaders who have achieved their dreams through dedication, perserverance and excellence. It connects listeners with ordinary people who have extraordinary stories, potentially sparking creativity and motivation in their professional journeys.

Bonnex Ltd

Dartford 01322 471121

Residential & commercial construction

Braeburn Care Ltd

Tunbridge Wells 01892 577680

Offering a support service tailored to individual needs, and providing the care required so clients can remain living safely at home

Capital Space Ltd

West Malling 01732 523417

Flexible workspace solutions for small and growing businesses

Cascade Insurance Services

Ashford 01233 512548

Insurance Broker

Change Grow Live

West Sussex 07795 497433

A national health and social care charity helping with challenges including drugs and alcohol, housing, justice, health and wellbeing

Chris Henry Photography

Ashford 07815 088409

Headshots, Portraiture, Commercial and Corporate Photography

City Contractors Ltd

Rochester 01634 616745

Specialising in air conditioning, facilities and mechanical systems within the building services sector

Connect 2 Innovate

Ramsgate 0203 442 9769

Delivering real energy savings, improve environments, reduce fuel poverty and save CO2 in all homes and businesses

Elan Lifts Ltd

Crayford 01322 559402

Specialising in bespoke, cost-effective customer focused design solutions

En-Plus UK Ltd

Sevenoaks 0333 242 2501

Design and manufacture of charging solutions

Fitzpatrick Woolmer Design & Publishing Ltd

Rochester 01634 711771

Creative signage manufacture and installation for outdoor spaces across the country


South East 01622 535723

A free concierge service for businesses and home owners looking for trade and professional services

GMSE Fire and Security Ltd

Ashford 01580 467070

Fire Alarms, CCTV Systems, Intruder Alarms for Commercial and Domestic Properties


Canterbury 07926 924583

Helping companies grow through digital marketing, marketing automation, SEO, web design, and paid ads for B2B, B2C, and e-commerce clients

H2F Business Advisory Ltd

New Romney 07710 652277

Helping successful Businesses to Increase the value of their business and to navigate the corporate finance challenges along the way

Host and Stay

Canterbury 07710 813469

Host & Stay Holiday Lettings was born from a love and passion for property, and a desire to lead the change in an age-old industry. We’re here to help more holiday homeowners unlock the potential in their homes. With new methods for new times. With better guest experiences through technology and lightning-fast response rates. All resulting in more revenue for our holiday homeowners, and with less hassle due to our completely hands-free end to end managed services


Chatham 01634 202033

The County’s first dedicated television channel. Delivering quality news, sport and entertainment 24/7 across Maidstone, Medway, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and surrounding areas

Know Your Mind Consulting

Tunbridge Wells 07929 965481

Perinatal Mental Health support for new and expectant parents

L R Shelby Ltd

Tunbridge Wells 01892 354096

Property maintenance including after-sales maintenance, customer care & project management for handling intricate defects

48 Thinking Business New Members

Enhance Protect Connect

Lanmax Plant Transport Ltd

Ashford 01233 720889

Supply and operate plant transportation vehicles

Level Up Leads

Chatham 07469 047774

Helping SME businesses grow their online local and national presence through the power of a website and Google rankings

Mark Kamin & Associates

Kent 07456 267283

Executive coaching and programs for people committed to performing, communicating, and contributing at the highest level of excellence

Matthew Wilkes Wealth Management Ltd

Chatham 01634 670424

Helping and advising clients to grow their personal wealth and provide future financial security for themselves and their loved ones

MF Telecom Services

Tunbridge Wells 01892 577577

Business telecoms and managed IT services

MS Webb 0844 544 4804

Enforcement security & property services

Olivers Personnel Services Ltd

Sheerness 01795 596466

Recruiting Consultants -

Providing responsive labour

On Grade Earthworks & Stabilisation Ltd

Tonbridge 01622 231547

Site clearance, demolition, bulk earthwork, soil stabilisation, all aspects of groundwork and drainage


Maidstone 0203 9090 777

Organic cash flow and credit management specialists

Pollothena Ltd

Ashford 07766 314346

Manufacturers and engineers of lenses

Presence & Co.

Tunbridge Wells 01892 507699

Luxury and creative property management solutions for residential and commercial clients throughout the South East of England and nationwide

Primech Services

Rochester 0203 978 8000

Building services engineering

Rafferty & Pickard

Sevenoaks 01732 905499

Specialising in selling extraordinary homes throughout the South East


Ashford 01233 621805

Soil stabilisation contractor

Retaina Group Ltd

Ashford 01233 504166

Security Services, marking and registration systems

Ring HR Ltd

Erith 07949 296471

Tailored HR Support for your business

Sandbox Hypnotherapy and Sleep Coach

Whitstable 07548 799367

Hypnotherapist and sleep coach who uses proven techniques to help you feel and perform your best

Soar Trampoline Park

Gillingham 01634 790863

Trampoline Park

Steadline Ltd

Maidstone 01622 734101

Construction services

Stellantis & You Maidstone Maidstone 01622 776823

One of the largest dealer groups in the UK, with locations nationwide offering new cars, used cars and aftersales facilities

Sutton Winson Ltd

Surrey 01444 462 080

Commercial and personal insurance providers - a personal service based on independent expertise

The John Wallis Church of England Academy

Ashford 01233 623465

Offering pupils and students high-quality teaching and experiences beyond the classroom

Tottenham & Bennett Ltd

Dover 07957 265135

Consulting structural engineers who carry out structural design for residential and building projects in London and Kent

Transafrican Sky Ltd

Ashford 07470 479151

Exporters of South African vodka

Whole Food Earth Ltd

Ramsgate 01843 808081

Providing natural and organic foods that are good for you and sustainable for our planet

WAVES Wills & Legacies

Ashford 01233 344570

Wills, Trusts and Legal Power of Attorney. Your legacy is protected, safe and ensures your family is looked after.

Zircon AC Group Ltd

Maidstone 01622 757925

Market Leaders in air conditioning, ventilation and electrical

Thinking Business 49 New Members

Carrie Stay Co-founder, Clockwork Moggy Ltd

In my first year of infant school, a less than impressive parents evening hinted at my inclination for daydreaming. My teacher voiced my tendency to gaze out the window and sketch my weekends instead of writing. I wasn’t rebellious; I simply preferred doing things my own way. This trait and love of drawing persisted as I progressed to an Art and Design diploma, and eventually earning a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design & Illustration. I found my passion in producing artwork, magazine design and graphic design eventually reaching my goal by co-founding Clockwork Moggy with partner Neil Dickson, What was your first job and what was the pay packet?

Dishwashing in a restaurant when I was 16. It was long hours. I was earning £6 per hour. I was also selling artwork at a local shopping centre.

What do you always carry with you to work?

My phone. I am one of those people who checks emails and social media notifications on the way to work.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

In the world of branding and marketing, things are ever evolving. We like to stay in the loop with technology and implement it into our business if it is useful. AI is the thing to watch right now. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business?

Tax incentives: Offering tax breaks or credits for SMEs so they have more money to invest in innovation, growth, job creation and serving their customers.

What can you see from your office window? My amazing coworkers. I love where we work, we have an office at Dragon Coworking. It’s a great creative space.

If you could do another job what would it be?

Stunt woman / archery / axe throwing teacher! I have my own longbow and an axe. I used to take part in Viking reenactment.

As a businessperson, what are your three main qualities?

Open mindedness, always learning and forward thinking.

What was your biggest mistake in business?

We made many mistakes in the first few years. We were young and I had never studied business in school or college, so this definitely hindered us. When I look back, I cringe at some of the choices we made. But that’s how you learn. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be persistent, passionate, willing to learn and adapt along the way. It’s a tough journey, but so rewarding. Who do you most admire in business?

I admire anyone who runs their business with humility, integrity, and commitment to help others. I genuinely like to help other businesses thrive. It has such great knock-on effect to the overall economy.

Businesses ‘on board’ Ashford Town Centre events

Four new sponsors have been secured to support Ashford Borough Council’s headline events programme throughout 2024. Bucksford Law, EKC Ashford College, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and You Fibre have all come on board as joint-presenting partners, helping to raise the profile of this year’s Food & Drink Festival (Summer), Create Music Village (Autumn) and Carnival of the Baubles (Winter).

The announcement comes as an impressive giant billboard has been unveiled in New Street, offering maximum exposure to people travelling into Ashford, highlighting each event with sponsor logos.

Ashford Food & Drink Festival will take place throughout the whole of July, serving up a full menu of fun including wine pairing nights, comedy shows, weekend festivals, offers and competitions; Create Music Village takes over multiple venues in the town throughout October, bringing big names, great gigs, alongside the best new rising stars of music; and Carnival of the Baubles will return once again to light up Ashford Town Centre for its big festive celebration in November with its stunning night-time parade.

Kacy Ford, Director of Bucksford Law, said: “As a business right in the centre of town, it is important to us that we are involved and help to support these wonderful events grow.

“We are excited by these events and we hope that our contribution will help spread the word and make sure as many people as possible get to participate.”

Susan Bonett, Principal of EKC Ashford College, said: “Sponsoring these events is part of our commitment and strong emphasis on developing skills working on live projects and productions.

“This year’s events will no doubt give our students genuine experience of showcasing their work to the public.”

Tudor Price, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “We know that a vibrant cultural scene helps to create a positive atmosphere and generates wider benefits and value for our business sector.

“We are proud to be involved and to help elevate the wide raging event offers with our members.”

Ryan Battle, Managing Director of You Fibre, said: “We’re delighted to be able to get involved with such fantastic local events at a time when we’re rolling out our full fibre service in the area. As a company, we are committed to supporting and connecting local communities”

Cllr Heather Hayward, Portfolio Holder for Performance and Direction at Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are very grateful to our sponsors for believing in our wonderful events programme, and helping us to promote them.

“We know lots of residents already look forward to these events and we want to make sure as many people as possible know what activities are on offer and how they can take part.”

For more information on all events happening in Ashford Town Centre, please visit

We are excited by these events and we hope that our contribution will help spread the word and make sure as many people as possible get to participate.

Copy Deadline: News items for the August - September issue to be submitted by 5 July 2024

50 Thinking Business 50 Thinking Business Chamber News Last Word
Jake Thompson - You Fibre, Kacy Ford, Richard Eno – EKC Ashford College, Lucy Clark – EKC Ashford College, Susan Bonett - EKC, Tudor Price - KICC and Cllr Heather Hayward
❜❜ ❛❛


We know there can be no

approach to IT support. Your business has its unique challenges, which is why ADM Computing offers unique solutions.

We know there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to IT support. Your business has its unique challenges, which is why ADM Computing offers unique solutions.

We know there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to IT support. Your business has its unique challenges, which is why ADM Computing offers unique solutions.

Keeping your business at the heart of all we do, our IT consulting services will help you scale, streamline processes, and boost efficiency.

Keeping your business at the heart of all we do, our IT consulting services will help you scale, streamline processes, and boost efficiency.

Keeping your business at the heart of all we do, our IT consulting services will help you scale, streamline processes, and boost efficiency.

Our people have years of IT management experience, and, having walked in your shoes, they’ll work with you to get the results you need.

Our people have years of IT management experience, and, having walked in your shoes, they’ll work with you to get the results you need.

Our people have years of IT management experience, and, having walked in your shoes, they’ll work with you to get the results you need.

With over 50 highly qualified technical engineers at the ready, 365 days of the year, ADM are always there when you need us.

With over 50 highly qualified technical engineers at the ready, 365 days of the year, ADM are always there when you need us.

With over 50 highly qualified technical engineers at the ready, 365 days of the year, ADM are always there when you need us.

Why Choose Us? What Can We Offer?

What Can We Offer?

IT Support & Consultancy

IT Support & Consultancy

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Cyber Security SharePoint Migrations

Cyber Security SharePoint Migrations


Cyber Essentials Accreditation

Cyber Essentials Accreditation

Cyber Essentials Accreditation

Free Training & Events

Free Training & Events

Hardware and Software

Hardware and Software

Why Choose Us?

Why Choose Us?


Handling over 300 service calls every day, including remote and emergency out-of-hours support.




Our technical support team hold over 450 technical accreditations, including 250

No long term tie-in’s

Despite giving our clients the freedom to leave, we still hold a


01227 473500
Security SharePoint
IT Support & Consultancy Cloud
Free Training Contact Us No
term tie-in’s
& Events Hardware and Software
freedom to leave, we still hold a client retention rate of over 95%.
Customer Service’ Award at the 2022 Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Awards. Award-Winning Customer Service
First-place for the ‘Excellence in
Highly-Qualified Technical Team
Dedicated IT Support
Microsoft certifications.
01227 473500 Contact Us
client retention rate of over 95%. First-place for the ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ Award at the 2022 Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Awards. Award-Winning Customer Service
Highly-Qualified Technical
certifications. Dedicated IT Support
technical support
hold over 450 technical accreditations, including 250 Microsoft
support. 01227 473500
Handling over 300 service calls every day, including remote and emergency out-of-hours Contact Us
No long term tie-in’s
over 95%. First-place for the ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ Award at the 2022 Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Awards. Award-Winning Customer Service
Despite giving our clients the freedom to leave, we still hold a client
rate of
What Can We Offer?
Highly-Qualified Technical Team
hold over 450 technical accreditations, including 250 Microsoft certifications. Dedicated
support team
IT Support
over 300 service calls every day, including
and emergency out-of-hours

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Articles inside

Businesses ‘on board’ Ashford Town Centre events

pages 50-51

Discover the Future of Construction

pages 43-46

UK economy stuck on a low growth treadmill

pages 39-43

BCC: Firms are treading water on investment

page 39

ASK the Expert

page 38

Concerns rise over customs costs

page 37

UK trade picks up as global demand recovers

pages 36-37

Kent’s property sector predicts growth for year ahead

pages 35-36

Nurturing wellbeing in Kent with mental health courses

page 34

Five business benefits of filmed podcasts

page 34

Customer care at the heart of IT service provider

page 34

Priority freight secures the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise

page 33

Data expert launches free tool to help businesses six years after GDPR introduction

page 33

Avondale - protecting native oak trees

page 33

Adapting to change: How the new minimum wage is accelerating automation in sales and marketing

page 32

Equity Incentives, an alternative?

page 32

Reviving technology: Kent County Council’s Device Recycling Scheme

pages 30-31

The Cloud’s Changing Landscape

pages 29-30

AI: Avoiding and managing disputes

page 28

THE 5G REVOLUTION: How Dongles are Empowering Businesses

page 27

Cover Feature | Communications & Technology

page 27

Levelling the AI playing field for SMBs: Simplifying AI and automation

page 26

Unleashing the power of AI: a game-changer for SMEs

page 26

Cover Feature | Communications & Technology Technology in 2024 and beyond

page 25

Stepping stone into employment

page 22

T-Levels: Transformative Education

pages 20-22

Kent soars to new heights with Horus Drones

page 19

Breaking Barriers: Empowering

page 19

How communication and performance go hand-in-hand

page 19

Protect your future with a will

page 19

Streamline your business and boost your bottom line

page 18

Maximising your potential

page 18

How to get the most out of Occupational Health Referrals

page 18

The future is greener for technology firm

pages 16-18

Tuning in to KMTV

pages 15-16

Using reliable outsource services for competitive advantage

page 15

Chamber Collaboration Success: Oak Creative Design and Indicator create a partnership

page 15

The Power of Creative Partnerships: Oak Creative Leads the Way

pages 13-15

How the right insurance advice can bring peace of mind

page 13

Supporting businesses across Kent to access funding

page 13

Top 5 reasons why you should hire a Social Media Manager

page 12

Brachers celebrates scooping ‘Probie’ award

page 12

Simtek EMS looking ahead with new MD after management buyout

page 12

Law firm partners with wildlife trust in boost for sustainability drive

pages 9-12

Top 10 key learnings over 10 years of creativity

page 9

Legal advice essential when providing for pets in wills

page 9

Think It Simple launches Tree-Planting Initiative to Offset Carbon Footprint

page 8

Hospital marks a decade of care

page 8

Wedding planners with a difference join Chamber

page 8

PLANNING AHEAD for Retirement

page 7

How Businesses Can Harness the Use of Artificial Intelligence in 2024

pages 5-7

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce announces Hypo Hounds as their 2024-25 Charity of the Year

pages 4-5

Forward thinking and collaborative

page 3


pages 1-3
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