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Hospitality and retail look to the future with optimism n n n n n

Government Kickstart Scheme extended p4 The Big Interview with Chris Brightling of Girlings Solicitors p18 International Trade - exporters face significant issues as they chase business overseas p32-33 Chamber Events p42-43 New Members p48-49

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Welcome & Contents

Retail and hospitality gear up for bumper festive season Most companies had a difficult 18 months during the pandemic but not many were hit harder than the retail and hospitality sectors. Numerous lockdowns inevitably led to a huge decrease in business, although some firms were able to adapt by selling goods and services online.

Contents 4

Chamber News


Members News


Patron News

12-14 Members News 18-19 The Big Interview 20-22 Members News

Our Patrons

Now, however, with the worst of the pandemic behind us and most restrictions eased, many retailers and hospitality owners are looking forward to the upcoming festive season. Unlike last Christmas, it’s a chance for people to let their hair down and celebrate with friends and loved ones. That will be welcome news for Kent firms in these two important sectors, an opportunity to build revenues and create meaningful employment for jobseekers.



25-29 Cover Feature – Hospitality & Retail 32-33 International Trade 36-37 Members News 38

Business News

39 Economy 40

It seems appropriate, then, to feature retail and hospitality in this edition. It’s a chance to shine the spotlight on two sectors that are vital to the Kent and wider UK economies. Here at the Chamber, we’ll continue to keep providing support to these businesses and others in the form of practical advice and networking opportunities. If we can’t help directly, we’ll signpost them in the direction of someone who can.

Members News

41 Ask the Expert 42-43 Chamber Events 44 The Person behind the business 46-47 Business News 48-49 New Members 50 Last Word 50 Movers & Shakers

Last year was a dreadful one for obvious reasons. This year has been a year of transition as the country moved from full lockdown to a gradual reopening of society. Perhaps 2022 can be the year of optimism, hope and prosperity? Kent firms will certainly raise a glass to that.

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

3239 Editorial and General Enquiries Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Business Point, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, Kent. TN24 0LH Chief Executive: Jo James OBE Tel: 01233 503 838 Fax: 01233 503 687 Media No. 1797 Published October 2021 © Benham Publishing


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Thinking Business is published for Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and is distributed without charge to Chamber members. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in Thinking Business are not necessarily those of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission. © 2021. Please note that submitting an article does not guarantee publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of material published in this journal, Benham Publishing and its agents can accept no responsibility for the veracity of claims made by contributions in advertising or editorial content. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us.

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Chamber News

Give young people the core workplace skills to succeed! The Chamber will help you submit an application with very little hassle The Government’s Kickstart Scheme will subsidise the wages at National Minimum/Living Wage for 6 months, for people aged 1624 and on Universal Credit. Kickstart is a £2 billion funded scheme created by the Department for Work and Pensions to create high quality work placements for young people. By learning valuable on-the-job training, young people will be much more able to access long-term employment once their placement ends. As a Business, you will be able to access a large pool of young people with potential, ready for an opportunity to learn and upskill. If you are looking to create a work placement/s for young people, please submit your interest via the link below: kickstartscheme/

A member of our Kickstart Team will give you an introductory call to explain the scheme and answer any questions you have! A Business will receive £1,500 per work placement for setup costs and supporting a participant in: on-the-job training, Employability Skills Training, and finding work once the placement comes to an end. Your Business will also receive 100% of the relevant National Minimum/Living Wage for 25 hours a week (up to £7,500) including National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic pension enrolment contributions. Funding is available following a successful application process. Kickstart is not an apprenticeship, but participants may move on to an apprenticeship at any time during, or after their job placement.

Who can apply?

The roles you are applying for must:

• Is listed on Companies House or is registered with HMRC as a Sole Trader and/or Partnership

• Be 25 hours (minimum) per week, for 6 months

An organisation who:

• Has at least a years’ worth of filed trading figures • Has PAYE set up (only necessary for Limited Companies) • Has no active furlough applications The job placements created for Kickstart must be new jobs. They must not: • Replace existing/planned vacancies • Cause existing employees or contractors to lose/reduce their employment

• Pay at least National Minimum Wage for a participant’s age • Not require extensive training prior to beginning the job placement • Be for the organisation on the application only- roles cannot be outsourced to a third party

How to apply

With a network of trusted partners we can deliver a package that will support you through the process as a whole. Please submit your interest here: kickstart-scheme/

Kent to be a skills trailbrazer Kent companies now have more opportunity than ever to influence the local skills agenda, after a Chamber and Further Education partnership has been appointed one of eight national trailblazers by the Government.

The news follows a successful joint bid by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce with EKC Group, MidKent College and North Kent College, for £6.1million funding to help businesses across Kent and Medway to flourish as new skills are unlocked and skills gaps are filled. The partnership bid secured £5.6m to implement a pilot Strategic Development Fund. Under the Skills Accelerator Programme, the further education colleges will focus on three key sectors: agriculture, construction, and engineering, with a shared thread of decarbonisation. The remaining funding will create a Local Skills Improvement Programme (LSIP) with the Chamber of Commerce by working with Kent companies and other business groups to identify immediate skills needs and solutions.


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Jo James, OBE, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “The LSIP will help businesses shape the curriculum delivered by the local further education colleges. It will ensure the county’s skills priorities are aligned and that the workforce has the skills needed to enable businesses here in Kent to grow.

“This partnership will strengthen the relationship between business and education, ensuring Kent’s students learn the most appropriate skills for the county and increasing their employability.” LSIP will build upon the longstanding work between the Chamber and the further education colleges, including the kickstarter training programme for 16-to-24-year-olds. Simon Cook, Principal and Chief Executive of MidKent College, which led the bid, said: “We’re very fortunate to have a strong partnership of colleges here in Kent and Medway that can work effectively together to deliver positive outcomes for local people across the county. “We’re delighted that our bid was successful, and we’re confident

that the Government’s investment here will help us support these three key sectors in transforming their operations to protect our environment while contributing to the local economy.”

Graham Razey, Chief Executive Officer of EKC Group, said: “As a Group we are committed to working in partnership with employers across our area, and have done so very successfully in the past. This Skills Accelerator Project will ensure our colleges deliver increased innovation, productivity and resilience in the Kent and Medway economy, whilst also making a significant contribution to local and national sustainability goals for the future.” David Gleed, Chief Executive of North Kent College, said: “We are incredibly pleased with the success of our joint Bid, demonstrating a real vote of confidence in Kent FE and reflecting the many years of the Colleges working in partnership across Kent. The investment will maintain the position of the three partner colleges as one of the leading innovators of skills within the County ensuring the residents and employers of Kent continue to benefit

from the high-quality opportunities that we all provide year after year.” The focus on decarbonisation will ensure the colleges drive efforts to equip the workforce with the knowledge, skills, and technological innovation to reduce the environmental impact of industry and play a key role in the area’s economic development.

As part of the LSIP programme, Kent Invicta Chamber will be hosting a series of skills workshops and events in conjunction with the further education colleges across the county.

L-R Simon Cook, Mid Kent College; Graham Razey, EKC Group and Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber

EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING BACK ON THE MENU AS THE HOSPITALITY SECTOR REOPENS ITS DOORS After almost two years of unprecedented change in the hospitality sector, welcoming fresh talent and developing existing staff has never been more important as the world opens back up. Recent analysis by the Office for National Statistics found job vacancies in the hospitality sector are currently higher before the pandemic. However, in June 2021, the number of employees within the sector remained 11 per cent below February 2020 levels. The current recruitment and staff retention crisis in the sector is having a direct impact on the sector’s ability to recover and thrive. In East Kent, EKC Group is helping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic by continuing to provide top-quality training and development for aspiring chefs and hospitality professionals at its six community-based Colleges in Ashford, Broadstairs, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone, and Sheppey.

Inspiring the next generation As part of EKC Group’s commitment to supporting the hospitality sector, it is opening a new restaurant in the heart of Folkestone to ensure students studying at its Folkestone College can gain real industry experience in a commercial setting as part of their training, helping to prepare the next generation of hospitality professionals to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to businesses across the region when they enter the job market. The development of Anne’s Restaurant follows the successful integration of the Group’s four-star Broadstairs-based hotel, The Yarrow, into the curriculum of students studying hospitality, catering, and butler studies at the Group’s Broadstairs College. Alongside these opportunities, the Group will continue to work with businesses to ensure local employers can access the brightest and the best of the new talent available in the area, and to provide students with industry experience in a variety of commercial settings.

To learn more about how your business can help inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals, or benefit from offering a work experience placement, email:

Upskilling existing staff Developing existing staff offers a fantastic solution to addressing skills gaps in your business and retaining your top talent. From part time and evening courses, to apprenticeships and online learning, EKC Group provides a wide range of training solutions tailored to the needs of your business. To learn more about how your business can staff can benefit from further training and development, email or call 01227 811315

Cash - the greatest source of funding of them all Hayley Kingsnorth, Director in the Ashford office at top ten accountancy firm Azets, discusses six critical ways to tap into the greatest source of funding of them all - cash. Such businesses require fresh injections of funding and capital to provide the much-needed working capital to facilitate that growth. The greatest source of funding of them all, however, is the cash generated by the business itself.

1. Issue your sales invoices promptly

Hopefully, we’re now emerging from one of the most challenging and testing periods in a generation. Many businesses have struggled to survive, but as we readjust to once familiar, albeit now slightly flexed ways of working, businesses must refocus on growth and expansion.


Thinking Thinking Business Business

As soon as the work has been completed, or the service provided, issue a sales invoice promptly- ideally electronically. Ensure all invoices follow a template. Double-check it is accurate to avoid delays. Accuracy is important as errors can lead to delays in settlement. Ensure your customer data is up to date, check names, addresses, invoice numbers, customer references, purchase order numbers, narratives, VAT and invoice totals. to help collect the cash quickly.

2. Communicate payment terms clearly Customers need to know what you are expecting in terms of payment. Set out your terms and conditions in a letter of engagement for your customers to sign. Include the terms and conditions on your invoices and other documents. Be clear about what is being provided, the cost, project timeline, when payment is due, and what happens if payment

is late. Clearly setting out expectations will limit disputes and delays.

3. Have a strong credit control function with robust procedures and protocols Employ a credit controller who uses the latest technologies to improve the credit control process, will chase every overdue payment, put poor payers on a stop list and won’t be afraid to outsource tricky debts to a collection agency. Good credit control helps you to get paid quicker so you can pay your own suppliers quicker, avoid late payment charges, increase your credit rating, and provide you with cash to invest in the business.

4. Develop strong relationships with your customers and suppliers A good credit controller will forge strong relationships – a little rapport with those who pay goes a long way. Knowing the best people to contact is hugely important. They won’t be afraid to push your invoice to the top of the list.

5. Make sure your business and underlying transactions are profitable

People photo created by pch.vector -

"Good credit control helps you to get paid quicker so you can pay your own suppliers quicker, avoid late payment charges, increase your credit rating, and provide you with cash to invest in the business"

The fundamental building block in cash generation is profit. If your underlying transactions are profitable, then with the right credit control, these transactions will generate cash and working capital. Unprofitable transactions will withdraw working capital from your business. Use the latest cloud-based accounting solutions to manage and report your transactions and financial performance to help you ensure profitability. Seamlessly sync this data with the latest cloud-based cash flow tools to ensure that this profitable performance generates cash.

6. Structure your tax affairs effectively Several tax incentives, structures and reliefs exist that can help determine that you are not paying more tax than necessary. Smart, strategic tax planning helps ensure you are minimising the tax take on the profits and cash you are generating. Tax can be complicated, so speaking to a trusted business advisor is critical to ensure you remain compliant whilst maximising the positive effect of the cash generated.

The Accountants and Business Advisory team here to save your precious time.

Our team of trusted business advisors help SMEs to grow and expand by implementing strategies to generate more cash. We harness the very latest cloud and accounting solutions to analyse cashflow. To discuss your business and cashflow or to discuss how to use technology to make your business cash generative, speak to your local trusted business advisor or contact Hayley Kingsnorth -


Get in touch with your local Azets advisors today. #AzetsSMEchampions

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InfoTech on top of the world InfoTech – a patron of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce – has announced that, as part of the Air IT Group, it has been ranked one of the best MSPs both in the UK and worldwide, according to the prestigious Channel Futures MSP 501 list.

Organised by Channel Futures, the MSP 501 is the world’s first, largest and most comprehensive survey and ranking list in the IT channel, celebrating managed service providers (MSPs) across the globe. For the past 15 years, Channel

Training firm helps military personnel find work

The opportunity to do something different and creative is always enticing. However, when this also involves supporting military veterans and service leavers, there is only ever one answer. JobOppO is an employment community that helps veterans and service leavers find meaningful work. When they wanted to develop their employability skills series, they approached SDM Training Services for support. The task was to write scripts and storyboards for four videos that would be made available for their members.

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class” Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 78, placing the company way above the industry average of 36. NPS is a proven metric that provides the core measurement for customer experience and business growth. The team have had a successful year in terms of growth and were acquired by Nottinghamshire-based Air IT earlier this year. This has allowed them to add new services, such as communications, business intelligence and cyber security, to their portfolio. Their new ranking on the MSP 501 list demonstrates the progress they have made and marks the start of an exciting new chapter.

Futures has carried out an in-depth analysis to examine organisational performance based on sales and revenue, growth, innovation and technology solutions.

Jason Foord, CEO of InfoTech, said: “We’re really excited to have been recognised by Channel Futures as one of the top 100 MSPs worldwide and the top three in the UK, and our world-class Net Promoter Score is the icing on the cake. This just goes to show the hard work and dedication of the entire team, not just adapting to the obstacles presented by COVID-19 but also going above and beyond to provide innovative solutions and outstanding customer service.”

The announcement comes just as InfoTech have achieved a “world-

For further information visit

• Your Hidden skills

SDM Training Services to request support with designing content for our veterans employability skills development series. We were aware of Stu’s experience and shared passion for supporting veterans into meaningful employment and were delighted with his hugely worthwhile input into the design and development of this innovative and useful package. Thanks Stu and we look forward to continuing to work with you.”

• Your CV • Your Job Search • Your Interview Whilst the message contained had to be both informative and current, there were other factors to also consider. The videos had to engage with a unique group, using humour and language that they would relate to as well as helping them to see the value that they could bring to future roles and organisations.

A grant of £4,750 from Kent Community Foundation will allow charity Connaught Opera to stage a series of concerts for older people across Kent Connaught Opera is entertaining hundreds of older people across the county between August 20 and October 20 with ten concerts funded by The Brook Trust Fund for Kent, facilitated by Kent Community Foundation. The audiences from ten care homes across Kent and Medway will be treated to a programme including light opera, show songs and nostalgic music from soprano Maria Arakie and baritone Glen Wilson, accompanied by a pianist. Maria Arakie, chair of Connaught Opera, said: “At the start of the pandemic, Connaught Opera was awarded funding to perform concerts in care homes across Kent and Medway. We are so grateful to The Brook Trust Fund for Kent and Kent Community Foundation for their patience and understanding whilst we all held our breath during the worst of the COVID crisis, hoping for the best outcome. “As we cautiously emerge and care homes can open their doors once more to live entertainment, we have been able to place concerts with ten homes across Kent. We cannot wait to be able to deliver these concerts and to make new friendships with our audiences across Kent.” Josephine McCartney, chief executive of Kent Community Foundation, said: “Research shows us that music improves moods, brings back older happy memories, encourages socialisation, and promotes overall mental and physical health. The concerts will entertain a lot of older people across the county and the Brook Trust Fund for Kent and Kent Community Foundation were delighted to support this initiative.”

Stu Miller said: “I absolutely loved working on this project. It offered a chance to draw on my previous experience and produce something that had a humorous, but serious message. I know that JobOppO are doing things very differently and that’s great to see. I’m excited to see how this develops and how it positively impacts a community that I am proud to be part of.” Garrath Williams, director of veteran engagement and development of JobOppO, said: “JobOppO contacted Stu from

Connaught Opera announces concerts for care homes

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Is your workplace hybrid working ready? Chris McCarthy, Business and Industry Relationship Officer for Knowledge Exchange and Innovation at the University of Kent.

Here at the University of Kent, our academics seek to do just that. The Kent HR Network, managed by our Knowledge Exchange and Innovation department, gives HR professionals the opportunity to engage with these experts and access the latest research in the field through events, a LinkedIn Group, an HR Magazine and an annual HR conference.

Kent, shared her research on group decision-making, highlighting the issues teams may face when making decisions remotely. We also heard from the School of Psychology’s Dr Clara De Inocencio Laporta, whose research on career callings shows that whilst flexible working can contribute to employee satisfaction at work, the change in employee experience when remote working could have implications for how employers reward and motivate their staff.

Patron News enabling women to maintain their high-paying jobs after childbirth, but also warns that it could lead to women being expected to do more housework and childcare, potentially leading to career penalties and the widening of the gender pay gap.

Most recently we joined Dr Heejung Chung, an expert on flexible working from the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. She recognises that flexible working is crucial for

Only by gaining awareness of these challenges can we take the first steps to address them – and the HR Network is here to help you do that whilst offering solutions along the way. At our upcoming HR conference on Wednesday 24 November, we’ll be exploring some of these issues and more. Virtual sessions will run from 9:30 - 2pm with tickets available for just £20. Follow us on Twitter (@UniKentKEI) to stay up to date and register for the conference, sign up to our HR Magazine and join our LinkedIn group via our website at www.

Using the power of data to bounce back from the pandemic business. Business intelligence allows organisations to visualise data from multiple sources and departments, for the most comprehensive and up to date view of performance.

business intelligence came further to the fore. Although we already understood business intelligence and it was on the roadmap, having time to react quicker to situations suddenly had more credibility.

“Up to date dashboards mean all departments and locations can now monitor and measure performance, allowing for more effective collaboration and informed decisionmaking across their operations in the UK, US and Germany.”

Chamber Patron, InfoTech Solutions is working with Wire Belt Company – a fellow Chamber member and leading manufacturer of stainless steel conveyor belts – to help them implement a data-driven culture. Whilst Wire Belt had attempted to use Power BI before, they needed a team of experts to develop a solution that would provide meaningful information and actionable intelligence that could be used to drive better, more informed decision making throughout the business. As part of the Air IT group, which has a specialist division in Business Intelligence, Infotech were able to help.

“How could we make some of our complex decision making into visuals? How could we solve problems easier and quicker? We knew we needed to become more agile, and move the decision making to the right people, at the right time.

Businesses with a clear data analytics strategy that’s fit for purpose, responsibly designed and deployed, will have an edge over their competitors as we continue to navigate the ‘new normal’. With the ability to answer queries instantly and make better, more informed decisions, you can satisfy needs, solve problems and achieve goals that not only aid post-pandemic recovery, but long term business growth and return on investment.

Simon Keane, Chief Information Officer at Wire Belt Company, said: “When anything in life knocks you off your path, the ideal answer is to learn and come back stronger.

Jason Foord, Managing Director of InfoTech Solutions said: “The investment that Wire Belt has made in business intelligence will not only improve reporting, but enhance operations and efficiencies which is so important for any manufacturing business.

Recent data suggests that 63% of employers plan to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working post-pandemic (CIPD, April 2021). Yet with knock-on effects on recruitment and on boarding, staff engagement and reward, adopting a new hybrid working policy could drive your business directly into a Human Resources minefield. So how can you determine the best approach?

Covid-19 has led to significant changes in the way we live our daily lives, and forced many businesses to rethink the way they operate and serve their customers. From major events and hospitality venues being reinvented as testing and vaccination centres, to the rise of online sales and decline of in-store shopping, the pandemic has driven social and economic change beyond former recognition.

To remain relevant, businesses must continue to adapt to both current and future needs, behaviours, and expectations of buyers. One of the ways this can be achieved is by using data analytics, also known as business intelligence. By analysing historical and current data, business intelligence can help answer questions, solve problems and even predict future outcomes. Nowadays, data is available in huge volumes but is often siloed within specific applications or presented via time-consuming manual reports, which don’t reflect an up-to-date picture of the

The Kent HR Network’s recent webinar series has highlighted the huge range of HR-related expertise we have here at the University of Kent, especially when it comes to the opportunities and challenges posed by flexible working. Dr Dawn Nicholson from the School of Psychology at the University of

“During our initial and on-going adjustments to the pandemic,

“We had already standardised the tools we wanted to use, in our case Power BI, but in conjunction with Air IT we are now able to accelerate the delivery of these visuals. We can now dedicate focus and time, not only on the above goals but to keeping momentum, continuing to improve, and removing any remaining barriers.”

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Commercial landlords struggle to collect unpaid rent Trip to Margate ignites new start-up venture

Kent’s high streets have suffered a significant downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a crisis for landlords as tenants continue to struggle to pay rent.

“The 18% collection rate is the lowest recorded in a year, which shows that landlords are continuing to struggle with the fallout from COVID-19.”

It all started on a cool morning in June 2020 whilst on the steps in Margate, overlooking the harbour and out into the sea, whilst enjoying a latte and a doughnut!

We had known each other for some time, during which we had come to realise that whilst our journeys were different, they were very much aligned from a spiritual point of view; our experiences, outlook, ambitions and purpose were synched! We had both experienced working in the corporate world and were acutely aware of the stresses, anxieties and pressures that come with the territory. We had both experienced our own mental health challenges and seen first-hand how businesses were either dealing with this – or not as is more often the case! We were also both asking the same question: “what can we do to spread the message, to open up and continue the conversation, to share the resources out there, to guide organisations to create their own wellness strategies, empowering themselves and their employees to nourish, thrive and expand?” Questae Collective was born! The key to an employee’s good performance is ‘happiness’, which is no longer an intangible variable but something that can be measured. Happiness and performance result from empowered and healthy staff who enjoy active social and business connections. It puts the right levers of organisational control precisely into management’s hands. We work with the client’s management and leadership team, to guide, encourage and coach, to enable clearer and defined leadership skillsets, and to ultimately improve performance across all levels of the business. For further information visit

12 Thinking Business

“Commercial landlords have had a rough ride since COVID-19 hit. The Coronavirus Act 2020 severely restricted their ability both to forfeit leases for non-payment of rent and seize goods in payment of arrears.

In July 2021, commercial property owners in the UK collected less than a fifth of what they were owed in rent due for the next three months to the end of September, according to commercial property management platform Re-Leased. Jeremy Ferris, partner at Kent law firm Furley Page, said:

In June the government announced a further extension of the existing moratorium on landlord action for rent arrears to March 25 2022. The extended moratorium, which prohibits landlords’ ability to forfeit leases of commercial property on the basis of non-payment of rent, was yet another significant blow to already beleaguered commercial landlords. Jeremy continued: “Landlords have retained the ability to sue for unpaid arrears, which often provides the simplest and most cost-effective way to recover unpaid rents. Landlords

How a cyber-attack can affect your reputation By Sarah Hawes, Izzy PR

“The cases ultimately approved the companies' arrangements, which represents a major setback to landlords, who will now receive no more than perhaps a substantially reduced turnover-based rent until the expiry of their leases and in some cases nothing at all. This is clearly bad news for landlords who had argued they were unfairly prejudiced as a class of creditor.” For advice and support about a range of commercial property issues, please contact Jeremy Ferris on Here are four must-dos following an attack: 1. Tell affected parties asap The sooner those affected are informed, the better. Leaving them in the dark for longer than necessary will only cause anger.

3. Apologise Issue an honest, remorseful response as soon as possible. Explain what has happened and how you are rectifying it. Provide ongoing updates.

Loss of trust If contacts on your system were compromised, you would be dutybound to inform your customers… and they may take their business elsewhere.

Future business Public sector organisations have strict rules about who they work with. An attack would have to be

“However, a swathe of cases earlier this summer dealt with defaulting tenants that wished to enter into company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), which allow a company to terminate its financial liabilities under a lease, provided that 75% of the creditors agree.

2. Go above and beyond Make your team available to customers, offering extra services such as extended business hours or a dedicated webpage or phone number.

Increasingly sophisticated hacking methods mean that even the most secure company’s reputation can be damaged in one of the following ways:

Confidence An attack sends a message to the public that your systems are not secure, undermining your reputation, branding and their confidence in you.

are also generally unrestricted in their ability to take from rent deposits or pursue third-party guarantors.

declared and could result in your company being blacklisted. Production At the very least, you would need to reset passwords and accounts, and put new secure measures in place, all of which takes time.

4. Urgently review upcoming activity A full-page ad declaring ‘Trust us to look after your family’s assets!’ is not a good message in the days following an attack. Try to replace any immediate upcoming ads with your official response. Similarly, amend planned social media posts that would now be deemed inappropriate.

Riverdale Court carer wins top award A rising star at Avante Care and Support’s Riverdale Court Care Home in Welling has scooped first prize at the Great British Care Awards. Julie Bright was the winner of The Care Newcomer Award category, whilst Christina Akinloye & Esther Ozoani were runners up in The Care Home Activity Organiser Award category. Stuart Cross, Avante Care & Support’s managing director, said: “It’s wonderful that our three

colleagues have been recognised by these awards, particularly after such a difficult year with the pandemic. All of our staff play a vital role in making sure our residents enjoy vibrant and fulfilling lives, and it is great that their work has been rewarded in this way.”

Hakim Issop, home manager at Riverdale Court, added: “Our staff have worked exceptionally hard to protect our residents and service users through the current pandemic, but they have never lost sight of our Vision – Communities where everyone has a vibrant and fulfilling life.”

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Avante Care & Support is a registered charity which was established in 1990 and provides care to more than 1,000 people. It delivers specialist residential dementia and nursing services in its care homes, including day care and short-term respite breaks. The charity’s home care teams provide assistance with daily living, enabling individuals to maintain independent lives in the comfort of their own home. For more information visit

Bring boots, not a bottle! The strange idea came to Nick Inge, owner of iTrust Assurance and co-founder of CIC Worldly Wise, after he spotted a Facebook post from one of the organisation’s members. Osoya George, the executive director at ‘Football without Borders – Kenya’, had posted a photo of a young student with some old football boots that just couldn’t be worn again – and the lad didn’t have a new pair.

An old pair of football boots isn’t usually what you’re asked to bring to a get-together, but that’s exactly what’s been requested for a business event in September.

Euroflo adapts to address climate change New Chamber member, Euroflo Fluid Handling, is a premier provider of electric, diesel and hydraulic submersible pumps and offers solutions for all water, sewage and dredging applications.

Since its establishment in 1996, Euroflo has become increasingly aware of the growing threat of climate change, as unprecedented temperature and sea level rises have wreaked havoc across the globe. Euroflo understands that climate change also presents

Nick shared it to his timeline, which was then spotted by a former colleague who swiftly sent him some money to buy some for the boy so he could keep on playing football.

football boots – second-hand ones with a few games left in them.

With a get-together of Worldly Wise coming up later in September, Nick decided to ask the members to bring boots rather than a bottle! He said: “There must be lots of old boots in cupboards, lying around at football clubs, lost in gym bags and car boots that still have some life in them and could be donated and put to good use.” Other training equipment such as training bibs and balls is also being collected, with storage kindly provided by Sheernessbased CDDL Recycling.

It was then that Nick had the idea to create a campaign to help more young people in Kenya to be given

If you’d like to donate or find out more about Worldly Wise, contact Nick at

risks for businesses – labour challenges, disrupted supply chains and rising insurance costs.

diesel, these pumps are also HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) fuel compatible.

The UK government has responded with a policy that will remove entitlements to use red diesel from April 2022. This is to incentivise the agricultural and construction sectors to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery.

HVO fuel is a biofuel and a “drop-in alternative”. This means it can be blended with traditional mineral diesel, making it extremely easy to incorporate into existing fuel logistics. The flexibility of being able to switch between fuels, along with the similar cost of HVO fuel, makes switching an easy choice for customers.

In response, Euroflo has introduced a range of industrial drainage pumps called ECOFLO. ECOFLO pumps have Stage V Kohler engines, which meet the strictest EPA requirements, meaning the emissions produced by these pumps are extremely low. Furthermore, in addition to being compatible with traditional mineral

Euroflo leads by example and hopes to see similar changes made within the construction industry in the years to come. For more information visit

SGS helps businesses achieve success

SGS UK has been operating in the UK since the first half of the twentieth century, initially delivering trade services to the agricultural and oil sectors. Today, the company has grown into a premier provider of independent inspection, certification, testing verification and training services, employing nearly 1,500 people. We aim to support organisations with products that will help them achieve business success. Our world-leading certification services enable you to demonstrate that your products, processes, systems or services are compliant with national and international regulations and standards. Some of our key standards that will benefit your business include: • ISO 9001 – develop better quality products • ISO 14001 – demonstrate your environmental responsibility • ISO 22301 – manage disruption with a business continuity plan • ISO/IEC 27001 – protect sensitive data from cyberattacks and data breaches • ISO 45001 – improve employee safety and reduce workplace risks • Construction Products Regulation – standardise your products to get them to market We’re also UKAS-accredited, which means that we’re independently assessed, and accredited certification decreases the risk for organisations. Even though we’re an international organisation, we have local offices and local auditors who know and understand the environment within their region. This enables us to provide local expertise within the community and our people are the very heart of our organisation. Having local knowledge and understanding the needs of those local to us is at the very core of how we do business. Thinking Business


Members News

Sparking something new

Future looks bright for SMEs

MJAllen Metalwork is pleased to announce our recent acquisition of all the assets of Kent Metal Developments (KMD), one of the UK’s premier sheet-metalwork and fabrication companies that has operated for more than 31 years. Since our formation in 1996, we have strived to be the best manufacturer and installer of structural and architectural metalwork in the south east. Acquiring KMD improves our offering by bringing a fully experienced team, along with a range of CNC laser cutting, bending and powder coating equipment, into our current operation.

More than seven in ten (71%) SMEs in London and the south east feel positive about the UK’s economic outlook over the next 12 months.

Mike Allen, managing director of MJA Metalwork, said: “KMD’s knowledgeable team and machinery provide an exciting opportunity to strengthen what we can offer our clients. As well as structural steel, balustrades, balconies and staircases, we now have laser-cutting, precision bending and full surface-finishing capabilities. This improves what we can offer our customers by bringing the full manufacturing process inhouse and making us more effective.

Azets’ inaugural SME Barometer also showed that despite challenges posed by the economy, COVID-19 and

“It’s now just one call to us to get the whole job done. I’m particularly pleased that we were able to secure all the jobs from this acquisition and operate within the caring values that got our family business to where it is today. Nobody will be left out as we move forward together, expanding UK metalwork in the south east and positioning ourselves as a leader for all kinds of metalwork requirements.”

Sittingbourne-based Eurobond Adhesives has announced that it is sponsoring 19-year-old Zara Rutherford in her attempt to become the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world.

Phil Chapman, director of KMD, said: “Joining MJA Metalwork and the parent MJAllen Group provides a huge opportunity for my team and the clients that we’ve been working with for many years. We look forward to adding to the excellent knowledge and skills that are already present.” Welcomed as safe-guarding jobs and promoting business growth after Covid, this acquisition will see MJA Metalwork grow to a projected turnover of £4.5m from a new team of forty staff. For more information visit

14 Thinking Business

That’s the standout highlight of a new survey by Azets, the UK's largest regional accountancy and business advisors to SMEs.

competition, 60% of businesses expect their profits to increase.

unlikely to be trading and 6% were unsure.

The research, which was undertaken in April and May 2021, surveyed 760 SMEs from a wide range of sectors across the UK and the Nordics (401 in the UK).

William Payne, regional CEO for London and the South East, Azets, said: “This, our first SME barometer, was conducted against a backdrop of uncertainty and upheaval. Now, with the vaccination programme accelerating across the UK and the rest of Europe and lockdown restrictions easing, SMEs are feeling much more optimistic about the prospect of an economic recovery and the service sector in particular here in the south is showing stronger and faster signs of recovery.

There are further positive signs for SME growth and jobs across the UK as a whole with over half (56%) expecting to recruit more staff over the next year and 60% intending to invest over the next year. While 71% of London and South East SMEs feel positive about the UK’s economic outlook, this compares with 60% in Scotland and 59% in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside. However, overall, the future for UK SMEs looks bright with 89% in London and the South East saying they expect to be trading in a year’s time. Only 4% in this region said they’re

World record attempt sponsored by Eurobond Adhesives

Zara’s adventure began when she took off from Kortrijk airfield in Belgium in her two-seat Shark microlight aircraft on August 18. Her stated aim and motivation for the trip is “to inspire young people, in particular girls, to engage in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at school and to motivate them to enter into technical or scientific careers”. What makes Zara’s roundthe-world attempt even more remarkable is that she has only held her private pilot’s licence for under two years, having qualified at the age of just 17. The aircraft selected to carry her safely around the globe is a Shark UL, a cutting-edge example of the most

modern high-performance twoseat tandem ultralight aircraft. Eurobond Adhesives’ managing director Simon Dearing, himself a keen aviator, said: “Zara is a truly remarkable and courageous young woman and is a great role model, especially so for other young women. Our business shares much in common with Zara: embracing cutting-edge technology, pushing boundaries and challenging science – in our case to produce some of the

“However, much uncertainty remains. In summary, our research highlighted a stubborn optimism among SMEs about the prospects of recovery, coupled with a pragmatic awareness of the need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ post-COVID world.” best high performance bonding solutions and most advanced dispensing equipment.” Eurobond Adhesives has a long history of supporting organisations that offer young people challenging and engaging activities that are designed to take them out of their comfort zone and help them engage in education. Zara’s progress can be followed by watching updates on the news pages of the Eurobond Adhesives website or at the Eurobond Facebook page @ eurobondadhesives. Zara: Adventure of a lifetime and an example to all young women: Zara qualified as a pilot aged 17 and now, 2 years later, is taking on the world!

Steve Nicoll,

Director & Business Excellence Coach, The Lean Orange

Successful organisations prioritise emotional safety as a route to a happier and more productive working environment.

Creating a safe working environment isn’t just about the physical practicalities. Successful organisations understand that the emotional safety of their people is equally as important to help them thrive. Emotional safety is a common understanding that you won’t be reprimanded or humiliated for speaking up. When people feel comfortable to communicate openly without being judged they freely share their thoughts and ideas, which can benefit the organisation on many levels. In an environment where value is placed on the sharing of ideas, creativity and innovation, people will be far less likely to feel fearful about their jobs. This begins to create a culture of wellbeing in which people are more likely to be motivated to perform at their very best for the organisation. The dynamics of our workplaces are changing for the better as people’s expectations are increasingly driven by fundamental needs, including a clear identity, a sense of belonging, a desire for meaningful work that provides purpose and fulfilment, and the opportunity to develop and grow within the organisation. Exceptional leaders recognise the importance of these needs and invest time nurturing their people, not only as employees, but also as individuals.

Core emotional needs • To feel valued - feeling valued is linked to better physical and mental health. It gives people confidence and a sense of stability, leading to greater levels of innovation, engagement, and job satisfaction. • To be trusted – trust strengthens relationships and allows people to work together, providing a sense of belonging and safety.

• To have a purpose - people need to feel that the company has a worthwhile purpose and understand how their daily work contributes to this. • To feel supported - especially when they are experiencing their most challenging moments. • The opportunity for development - being encouraged to continually learn, to take on bigger challenges and achieve more than they think they can. • To be respected - and treated fairly with dignity, courtesy, and kindness. • To be heard – exceptional leaders listen to the needs of their people, take their concerns seriously and act to help wherever possible. • To feel appreciated – praise is a positive experience that makes people feel good about themselves. It can help improve performance, morale, motivation and engagement and ignite people’s commitment to the organisation.

The signs of an unhappy workplace When these needs are not being met, people feel like just a number and become disconnected. A recent survey for HBR, showed that fewer than 39% of employees could see how they add value to their customers, less than 30% knew the organisational strategy and almost 50% were not motivated or excited by their work. Higher than average staff turnover, a reduction in productivity and stress-related absences are all signs of low

morale, which can drastically affect the overall success of an organisation.

Happy people are productive people Encouragingly, we are seeing more organisations placing an emphasis on emotional safety at work, with 30 per cent of companies now having a board director responsible for wellbeing and a further 20 per cent having a senior leader dedicated to the role. Research shows that organisations with a strong focus on employee wellbeing and emotional safety are likely to experience increased productivity, higher retention levels, fewer days absenteeism and a happier, more productive team. Those who are doing this well are seeing stronger growth and benefits to their performance with sustainable and predictable results at least 20 per cent higher year on year. At The Lean Orange we help our clients to improve overall business performance by creating a safe, positive working environment and nurturing a happy and motivated workforce. If you would like more information on how we can help you and your team, please email me at or call 07976 608521.


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The Big Interview

Chris drives Girlings’ growth When Chris Brightling sets his mind to do something, he usually achieves it. “I’m a driven individual and when I have a target, I work hard to make sure I meet it, ”says Chris, who is a partner and head of Girlings’ Legal 500 ranked Corporate & Commercial team, based at the Firm’s Ashford Office. “I knew that I wanted to go into the legal profession from a young age so I made this my goal. Nobody in my family is a lawyer so I’m not sure where this desire came from, to be honest. Becoming a lawyer just really appealed to me so I decided to go for it.” After graduating with a law degree from the University of Reading, Chris learned his trade at a law firm in the Thames Valley and quickly climbed the career ladder, eventually becoming a corporate partner leading a team of corporate, banking and tax lawyers. In 2018 after more than eight years there, he was headhunted by Girlings to become Head of Department to grow its Corporate & Commercial team and returned to Kent, the place where he grew up. He says: “I was impressed with the Firm’s ambition and strong reputation in the marketplace. Girlings has been part of the local community since 1881; we celebrate our 140th anniversary this year. I wanted to work at a firm

with an ethos of building long-term relationships with clients and Girlings has been doing this for many years.” Girlings has around 100 staff across three offices in Ashford, Canterbury and Herne Bay. Chris’ role sees him regularly advise clients on share and business acquisitions and disposals, restructurings and joint ventures as well as general corporate law matters including corporate governance issues, shareholder agreements and share buybacks. His clients range from owner-managed businesses to large national and multi-national companies in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, retail, logistics and IT. Chris’ family ran a successful business in Kent so he is no stranger to the hard work and resilience required to run a successful business. “We specialise in helping owner-managed businesses and entrepreneurs,” says Chris. “Predominantly our client-base is made up of Kent businesses but we do work with others further afield. I’ve been impressed and excited by the entrepreneurs in Kent. There are lots of ambitious entrepreneurs who are running dynamic, fast-growth businesses.” The COVID-19 crisis has proved challenging but Girlings’ proactive, collaborative approach to doing business has stood it in good stead. “We’ve had to be agile and resilient,” says Chris. “We were able to move swiftly to remote working to provide a seamless continuity of

service to clients. It’s important for lawyers to be proactive, to identify new trends and suggest ways in which we can add value to our clients’ businesses. At Girlings I think we do these things well.” These qualities will be invaluable in a fastevolving future laced with uncertainty. But there will also be opportunities for Chris and his team at Girlings to grow the commercial side of the business. Chris says: “Many of our clients are adapting and we’re adapting to their needs. We’re speaking with a lot of businesses about company restructuring and how they can take advantage of new opportunities. We’re also advising businesses on the importance of social media and e-commerce; helping some clients to work with brand ambassadors and social media influencers, for example. “Going forward, there may be opportunities for us to work with more companies operating in the green economy space. There seems to be a growing acceptance that we need to reduce emissions and consumer buying habits are changing to reflect this. “Sometimes lawyers are accused of being a bit too traditional, too slow to adapt. We want to show people that we’re on the front foot and can embrace change as we continue to build long-lasting relationships with our clients.”

It’s important for lawyers to be proactive, to identify new trends and suggest ways in which we can add value to our clients’ businesses. At Girlings I think we do these things well. 18

Thinking Business

The Big Interview

INSIDE STORY: Chris Brightling What was your first job? I split my time between serving 99’s and Twisters at a beach side café and working for the family security business in East Kent. What is top of your bucket list? I like my football so probably to see England play and possibly win the World Cup one day! What advice would you give to startup businesses? Despite your best efforts, things won’t always go your way but don’t give up. I have worked with start-up businesses in a huge variety of sectors and resilience is one of the most important qualities that successful business owners share. Favourite food? My wife is half Iranian and cooks some fantastic Persian dishes… as well as an excellent roast. Favourite tipple? A pint of local ale. Favourite holiday? A cottage in the Cotswolds with plenty of walks and country pubs. Describe your family life? Busy! I’m married with a two-and-a-half-year-old son and seven-month-old daughter so life is very busy but great fun. How do you spend your downtime? With two young children there isn’t much of it at the moment! When I’m not having fun with them, I play football for a local team and enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants. What are your key strengths as a lawyer? Delivering exceptional client service, building long-term relationships and understanding a client’s goals. Best thing about doing business in your area? Meeting and getting to know such a wide variety of entrepreneurs and business owners who are passionate about what they do.

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Members News

Brachers advises Catch Digital on sale to Sideshow Group

South East-based Brachers has advised the founder shareholders of European digital agency Catch Digital on its sale to Sideshow Group. Catch Digital is a digital experience platform (DXP) specialist, focused on building exceptional and engaging user experiences. Catch’s multiaward-winning capabilities are split across designing the creative user experience, building the underlying platform and providing ongoing optimisation. Sideshow is a UK-based digital communications agency that develops best-in-class digital solutions and experiences for top brands around the world. Catch has a highly qualified team of digital specialists, with significant experience developing enterprise-level solutions for global clients across multiple sectors. The company is a strategic technical and design partner to brands such as Freeview, Sharp and YOTEL. Catch's bring exceptional technical experience and design talent to the Sideshow Group, whose established range of services complement and bolster Catch’s offering. The transaction was backed by Dutch private equity group Waterland Private Equity Investments. The team at Brachers was led by head of corporate and commercial, James Bullock, with support from solicitor Alistair Wickham and employment partner, Colin Smith. The deal was completed in under six weeks, with Brachers lawyers working closely with Catch’s other advisers, Waypoint Partners and Loucas Accountants. James Bullock said: “We’re delighted to have advised Catch on this deal, which is an exciting milestone for the business. Both Catch and Sideshow deliver exceptional digital services and this partnership means they will now have an even stronger offering to present to their clients.” Jonathan Smith, managing director and founder of Catch, said: “Brachers' expertise, enthusiasm and pro-active mindset made them a key component of Catch's advisory team. When choosing a legal partner for this transaction, I was looking for a team who would ensure that we, as the sellers, had the confidence and understanding across every legal aspect of the deal which we were entering into. James and his team provided this without fault and they were a pleasure to deal with throughout.” For more information visit

20 Thinking Business

£200,000 Funding for Environmental Projects Kent Community Foundation is delighted to launch a new fund to support projects across Kent which protect the county’s beautiful countryside and coastline and address social issues which are intertwined with environmental impact The Fund for the Environment will support projects improving local spaces and encouraging more sustainable ways of living, that understand the link between poverty of life and poverty of environment and aim to improve the most

affected communities. These may include grants towards the planting of trees and hedging regeneration, restoration of local habitats, organised litter picking, and beach cleans, community garden projects, projects focused on educating children about local wildlife and nature, or on learning about growing and cooking your own food or projects using solar panels or insulation to make community buildings greener.

that local community action can be at the heart of delivering valuable solutions to lessen our impact on the environment, and importantly, offer benefits that local people can reap. Changes in our natural environment disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in Kent. Our new fund will help address the potential future impacts of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers on the future prosperity, environmental quality, and health and wellbeing of our local communities and we look forward to receiving applications from community groups and charities across Kent and Medway.”

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said, “We believe

To find out more about the Fund for the Environment visit

Business confidence high, but supply chain and staff challenges loom The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has published its quarterly ‘UK Business Confidence Monitor’ which reports record high business confidence, boosted by strong sales expectations.

• south east businesses are the most confident since the survey began in 2004

Businesses in the south east are among the most optimistic in the UK, but warn of challenges ahead with shortages of skilled staff, high staff turnover and regulatory restrictions.

• a rapid increase in employment across the south east, with businesses expecting to increase headcount by 3.2%

Businesses must continue to be vigilant, preparing for continued growth and future challenges, says accountancy, business and financial advisors Kreston Reeves. The quarterly ICAEW business confidence report found that business confidence is driven by strong sales forecasts for 2021. The survey reports:

• customer demand challenges have eased • a fall in late payments to businesses

• businesses are facing increased challenges in recruiting skilled nonmanagerial staff and high staff turnover as the economy expands • an increase in input costs, reflecting supply chain problems • south east businesses are making the highest rates

of investment compared to other UK regions Andrew Griggs, senior partner at Kreston Reeves, said: “Despite the impact and challenges of COVID and Brexit that we have all faced over the last couple of years, it’s inspiring to see that for the second successive quarter the South East’s business confidence has climbed to its highest level since the survey began in 2004. Over the last year or so, what has really stood out is how resilient people and businesses are. “We are seeing clear signs of a post-COVID recovery, the economic position is continuing, and inflation has picked up with businesses planning increased investment. However, the future remains unclear with many challenges and obstacles to face. Supply chain, distribution and future employment needs are presenting, and will continue to present, very real challenges and increased costs to business that can hold back growth.” For more information visit

Discovery Park names first Reactor programme winners Discovery Park, a life sciences and innovation hub based at Sandwich in Kent, has named the successful applicants that will take part in its first ever Reactor programme, designed to supercharge life sciences firms’ potential to scale.

Ten companies will each benefit from eight weeks of high-level mentoring and coaching worth £15,000. This support will first analyse their businesses and then importantly position them for growth. The coaching will follow the Triple Chasm Company’s

Members News

data-based approach to commercialising innovation.

data from thousands of high-growth companies across the world.

Those on the programme include companies developing or delivering clinical diagnostics, drug and medical device discovery, and providing services to biotech and clinical organisations. The companies selected are: BioMavericks, Clinical Diagnostics, Curtis Analytics, Genestack, MedConcept, Psyros Diagnostics, Scitegrity, SpOtOn, Testavec, VisusNano and Vitarka Therapeutics.

Discovery Park is home to more than 160 science-based companies, including Pfizer. The site offers high quality laboratory, office and manufacturing facilities, the space and support to expand, access to local finance, and a strong local scientific talent pool.

In addition, each of the companies will have access to some of Triple Chasm’s analysis tools for a year and membership of Discovery Park’s community, including business services. The Triple Chasm Company’s approach combines an understanding of the three ‘chasms’, or stages, where business development stalls, with analysis of a company’s technology and commercialisation readiness level and twelve vectors which drive growth. It is supported by

University’s lunchtime concert series offers sweet music The University of Kent’s lunchtime concert series resumes this autumn after a year’s hiatus due to COVID.

It will offer an exciting and eclectic range of musical performances that Canterbury law firm Furley Page is pleased to sponsor once again.

Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet, followed by a workshop with Glyndebourne musicians, which members of the public are welcome to attend. Meanwhile, on Wednesday November 30, Asako Morikawa will perform an evocative programme of works for solo viol.

The autumn concert programme kicks off on Wednesday October 20 with a performance by sitarist and composer, Jonathan Mayer and tabla-player Denis Kucherov, who will bring a mesmerising sequence of Indian ragas to the concert-hall.

The autumn lunchtime concert series concludes on Wednesday December 4 with a visit from the Deptford Rivieras jazz trio, featuring saxophonist Phil Veacock, who bring their own unique no-holds barred interpretation of 1960s soul, jazz and funk.

On Wednesday November 3, players from Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra bring an informal programme of instrumental music, including

Jeremy Licence, managing partner at Furley Page, said: “Furley Page is delighted to support The University of Kent by once again sponsoring this

Coversure Maidstone Coversure Maidstone is an independent insurance brokers that specialises in business, property, and commercial vehicle cover. Our multiaward-winning team offers highly competitive insurance protection that is backed by outstanding customer service. So, whether you are a small business owner looking to

protect your firm’s people, stock and vehicles or a landlord who wants to protect their properties for less, we can help.

Coversure Maidstone is part of the Coversure Poole Group, which was founded in 2005 by insurance entrepreneur, John Palmer. John founded the business to provide local communities with independent insurance advice and affordable

Dr Martino Picardo, chair of Discovery Park, said: “The UK is home to innovative companies leading the field of life sciences globally. Accelerating their growth allows the sector, and the wider community, to benefit faster from ground-breaking, innovative healthcare solutions. We’re confident that we’ve selected companies with growth potential to be part of the first Reactor programme and we look forward to helping them turn their development plans into positive action.” For further information visit year’s concert programme. The lunchtime concert series never fails to delight audiences with a wonderful repertoire of music and this year’s line-up offers yet another exciting and eclectic mix of performances.” Dan Harding, head of music performance at the University of Kent, said: “We’re delighted that Furley Page continues to support our concert series and it’s a pleasure to resume our regular series of performances to share with the local community once more – particularly after the difficulties that performers and audiences have faced over the past year.” The lunchtime concerts will take place in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at 1.10pm and admission is free, with a suggested donation of £3. For more information, visit For more information about Furley Page visit

cover. The Group now serves the Poole, Weymouth and Maidstone areas and enjoys the backing of the £130m Coversure Insurance Services Group. Being part of Coversure gives us access to policies from blue chip insurers such as Aviva, RSA and Axa, allowing us to offer the best from the best.

Does digital marketing form part of your business strategy?

When running a business, a marketing strategy is a key component of your business plan. With more businesses than ever interacting with their customers online, is digital marketing part of your strategy or is it just a vaguely understood add-on that drives communication or sales from time to time? If you’re an SME, online space can come across as quite intimidating. How do you ensure your website really works for you? Is the temptation to engage in all social media ‘because it’s there’ overwhelming and confusing? If you don’t use a strategy for digital marketing based on research undertaken within the digital world, you’re likely to make common mistakes: 1. Spreading budget thinly to appear to do as much as possible. Failing to target your investment results in wasting time and money. 2. Considering certain platforms are not suitable. Target audience could be using that platform, leading to missed opportunities to gain potential customers. 3. The way you present your message is not relevant to your audience. You may have a great looking website but if you haven’t researched the right wording your customers are using to find your services, the result is you aren’t visible to your potential customers. SPUTNIK Marketing integrates digital marketing into SMEs’ business strategy. Not being an agency, it specialises in dedicated service working with business to maximise digital visibility to potential customers, thereby making digital presence more effective and efficient. For further information visit: Thinking Business


Members News

You will have heard Clare Reeves

Whether narrating documentaries on National Geographic, advertising toothpaste, deodorant or pregnancy tests on TV, on phone systems of banks or on that eLearning module you took recently. When Clare presses “record” in her own studio at home in Folkestone, she works to embody the sound of brands, big and small. Helping them to connect with their customers, teams and other businesses in a way that feels like them; adding real sparkle to their audio brand. “People think voiceover is just talking until they understand how much is actually involved”; says Clare, who’s background in radio presenting and Sound Engineering stand her in good stead everyday.“It’s my job to get you heard in a way that feels just like your business – whether that’s quite formal or is more relaxed’. “We chat about your project, who you are speaking to, your brand and script and I record for you, delivering you a file that’s ready to use.” As Clare is a full time Voiceover Artist, she can turn recordings around quickly. “I can usually deliver work back to the client within 24 hours – often sooner” says Clare You can hear Clare’s work on her website Clare’s sound is naturally warm and relatable with a cool and confident delivery style which has made her popular with clients including Colgate, Clearblue, Mitchum, Facebook, Vodafone, Always, Nescafe, Booking. com, Audi, Hyundai and Deloitte. “I love enabling clients to make waves with their words, all from my Folkestone studio”

22 Thinking Business

Successful year celebrated by Battle of Britain charity A Kent Battle of Britain charity has thrown a ‘thank you party’ for supporters who turned a potentially disastrous year into one that saw numerous exciting improvements at its popular clifftop home.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s plans to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle during 2020 were thrown into turmoil by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also meant the charity suddenly had no income from visitors. Despite visitor cash drying up overnight, generous supporters contributed to an 80th anniversary appeal and helped the trust carry out a range of improvements at the site, including the installation of new entrance gates and floodlights at the site.

The charity took advantage of the furlough scheme and available government grants, but was kept afloat by a fundraising campaign that was supported by video appeals by well-known celebrities. It raised an impressive £80,000 to replace income normally generated by visitors to The Scramble Experience, shop and café. To say ‘thank you’ to the many people who supported the Memorial and made 2020 an unexpectedly successful year, those who played their part enjoyed an evening reception at the memorial, which sits on the white cliffs at Capel-le-Ferne, between Dover and Folkestone.

thanked by trust chairman Richard Hunting CBE He said: Given the impact of the pandemic, 2020 could have been a millstone year – instead it turned into a milestone year thanks to the hard work and generosity of so many people. “When cash dried up, we had to look elsewhere – and our staff, supporters and volunteers worked incredibly hard to ensure that we didn’t just survive the crisis but emerged from it stronger, with new and better features and facilities.”

Volunteers and staff joined fundraisers, donors and supporters at the event, where they were

Reuthes - The Lost Gardens of Sevenoaks Reuthes is an 11-acre rare species arboretum that has won 28 gold medals at RHS Chelsea for our trees and shrubs. We are therefore delighted to offer a special Dedicate a Tree service to our customers so they can commemorate

their loved ones and dedicate special events to them.

Here is the link to our Dedicate a Tree service on our website: We are also looking for companies that may like to partner with us.

Strategic thinking for SME businesses The impact of COVID has been very diverse with some businesses seeing record growth, launches of new products for example, Copper Rivet introduced a new hand sanitizer product, versus other businesses who have been locked down and no trade for c.18 months.

Finance Leaders have had to evolve with cashflow management remaining their number 1 concern throughout the pandemic – with detailed scenario planning essential to managing a business day to day. Finance leaders understand the impacts of government initiatives like the furlough scheme, which is ending soon and various business grants, whilst counting the cost of restrictions on staff and

customer interaction and funding investments in kit to enable working from home.

Most businesses have seen significant online growth and drive through e-commerce, many retailers for example have left the high street, GAP for example has announced complete digitisation in the UK with all high street shops closing. Businesses are now looking to the future and how to maximise opportunities with focus on current business models – “Resilience” has become the new buzz word. A strong bounce back is predicted with the recent warm weather transferring buying trends to continued eating out, hospitality also supported by the EURO 2020 and consumers also experiencing excess savings due to less travel requirements and reduced

opportunity to spend disposable income during lockdown.

It is going to be essential for businesses to keep relevant for the future in hopefully post COVID lockdown era, requiring investment in new technology, upskilling of staff, and maximising wider resource pools with staff working remotely. Daryl Gilley at ACE Interim Solutions provides a data led strategic plan for clients freeing them up to focus on the core business deliverables, working collaboratively to drive business growth and maximise opportunities. Being highly analytical, commercially focused, and entrepreneurial in style ACE Interim Solutions specialise in providing strategic thinking for SME businesses. For more information visit

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Hospitality and Retail

Cover Feature

The Curious Brewery: the ideal venue for corporate events With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully behind us, Kent companies are getting down to business again. It’s a time to look forward, not back; a time to start looking for commercial opportunities and planning for a prosperous future. That’s exactly what Simon George, MD of The Curious Brewery, has been doing. Earlier this year he spearheaded the company’s purchase of a brewery in Ashford from Chapeldown Vineyard, which decided to sell the brewery side of its business after a turbulent time during the pandemic. Simon and his team have 50 years’ experience of the brewing industry and have put together some exciting plans for the future. Simon says: “First and foremost, we make a range of tasty beers and ciders. We apply the passion we have for ingredients, using our endless beer and cidermaking knowledge to make a distinctive range of products that our customers love. We’ve already launched a strawberry beer, a pilsner and a raspberry kettle sour beer, which all taste fabulous. “The first step is to get the business back to where it was before COVID. We’re investing £250,000 into a new bottling line and we’re looking to create jobs in Kent.” Established in 2011, The Curious Brewery is dedicated to making exceptional beers and ciders. This dedication resulted in its Curious

We’re right in the heart of Kent so we source hops and barley from Kent as well as local apples for our cider. We want to support local firms. We’ve just become a member of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce so that will open up more opportunities for us to forge local connections.

Brew Lager being awarded Gold at the 2019 World Beer Awards. Later that same year, The Curious Brewery was also named Brewery of the Year at the prestigious International Beer Challenge.

“We offer tours of the brewery for just £20 per head. Visitors get to try a range of our beers and ciders. It’s an alternative day out for couples or groups of workers who come here as part of a corporate away day.

Simon says: “Our beers and ciders are available at our very own Tap Room & Restaurant at the brewery in Ashford. They’re also available at many great pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK, including Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Sheraton Park Lane and at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel plus Harrods, Waitrose and Majestic Wine.

“The Tap Room & Restaurant is an important area of our business. It gives us great scope to host tours and corporate events and we’ve also developed a new lunch menu to attract workers as they come back to the office. “We’ve also forged close partnerships with other breweries to help each other out and manage customer demand.”

Simon is keen to source local supplies where possible to generate extra business for Kent companies. He says: “We’re right in the heart of Kent so we source hops and barley from Kent as well as local apples for our cider. We want to support local firms. We’ve just become a member of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce so that will open up more opportunities for us to forge local connections.” With the COVID vaccination programme going nicely, Simon is confident that the hospitality side of the business will ramp up again as we head towards the traditionally busy festive season. “We still retain social distancing in the restaurant and bars but people are gradually getting more confident about going to public places,” he says. “We have a really good premium offering so we’d love people to come along and enjoy the experience.”

Thinking Business


Hospitality and Retail

Other hospitality firms in Kent are also looking to the future with optimism. A new restaurant in the heart of Folkestone is set to boost the local hospitality sector, providing topquality training opportunities for aspiring chefs and front of house professionals, and more than 22 jobs for residents.

Affectionately named after EKC Group’s recently retired deputy chief executive officer, Anne Leese, Anne’s Restaurant on Shorncliffe Road is in the final stages of development and is due to open its doors later this year. The restaurant will build on the successful model of the group’s four-star Broadstairs hotel, The Yarrow, providing local students with the opportunity to gain a wealth of practical experience in a commercial setting alongside highly skilled professional staff.

the link between college-based learning and the hospitality industry, ensuring every student gains the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to thrive in their chosen careers.

For students studying catering and hospitality pathways at the group’s Folkestone College, Anne’s will play a pivotal role in strengthening

Anne’s Restaurant general manager, Steven Hayes, says: “I am very proud to be building a team in preparation for Anne’s launch later this year.

“My team and I are excited to help inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals and give them the best start to their futures. “We can’t wait to welcome the community through our doors and share our delicious new menu.” Anne’s Restaurant will offer a relaxed dining experience in

a cosy contemporary setting. For more information, visit Like the hospitality sector, retailers found the going tough in the COVID pandemic, due mainly to numerous lockdowns. Now, however, local firms are more confident about the future with most of the COVID restrictions having been eased.

My team and I are excited to help inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals and give them the best start to their futures 26 Thinking Business

Cover Feature

Worths of London is a British business made in 2019.

jeweller has to make a bespoke piece for you! “We believe jewellery is a delight to the senses; it should be viewed and touched, and we encourage our customers to visit our beautiful store and get the full Worths experience! However, if you’re too far away, then all of our stock is available to be viewed and purchased online. “Despite the obstacles retail and in particular the high street has experienced in recent times, we’re always looking at ways of evolving and encouraging our customers to visit our high street store. We offer ear piercing and we’re even foreign currency experts. We always have euros and US dollars in stock and our rates are extremely competitive. We can order in over 50 currencies and offer a click and collect service. We also offer jewellery repairs by our talented expert craftsman jeweller and a pawnbroking and cash for gold service. Our store is multistranded and offers so much variety of goods and services for our customers.

Situated in Sheerness High Street, its premises has been a jeweller’s for over 40 years, but Worths of London was born in 2019 from a very British idea. The company’s online store launched last year in the midst of the pandemic, so it offers both online sales and in-store – a true “bricks and clicks” business in this fast-changing world. The company says: “All of our gold is from London's Gold district Hatton Garden and all our brands are either British or represent our ethos of innovation and style. Although British Brands are our focus, we also love a brand with

a unique twist, such as Superdry watches or Tomasi Murano Venetian Glass. “We differ from your average traditional high street jewellers in that we follow the latest trends in

jewellery closely and our stock turns over quickly, so be sure to follow us on social media. Also, if there’s something that you’d like that we don't stock, just let us know and we will endeavour to get it; it may mean our

“We are a young company; fresh and dynamic. The Worths team is led by Juliet, who is joined by assistant manager Katelyn and website coordinator Lexie, Brooke and Eloise; they all have wisdom and knowledge and a love of jewellery and customer service. We were finalists in the prestigious UK Jewellery Awards for UK Retailer of the Year 2021. “We believe all of our customers deserve the very best and our ‘You're Worths It’ motto puts our customers at the heart of what we do.” After a year like no other for retail and hospitality across the country, it’s reassuring to know that support for these businesses is available in Kent.

Thinking Business


Hospitality and Retail

Tourism body Tenterden was delighted in February this year to be ranked third place out of a thousand high streets in Britain (and the highest in the South East) in the Harper Denis Hobbs 2021 Vitality Rankings. The organisation says: “This is a proud accolade and one which we strive to uphold!” Tenterden has also appointed a town centre & tourism coordinator to help connect businesses, relay information on grants and assistance, and build a fantastic relationship with the borough council to create a wider community in business and hospitality.

Assistance to the hospitality outlets was given in the form of picnic tables in the district for customers to use and buy from food and drink outlets. Free parking was also granted.

Building on the relationship with Ashford Borough Council and Love Ashford has enabled Tenterden to give assistance to a range of businesses. This has included social media training through the funded

platform of Maybe Tech, one-to-one guidance with CPG, connecting with Ashford for the ongoing Welcome Back Funded campaign creating “Think Tenterden”, and launching Localise, the new independent shopping app.

Tenterden says: “Vacancy rates have remained steady, meaning we look healthy in comparison to many other high streets. New businesses and hospitality units opened throughout

This is a proud accolade and one which we strive to uphold! 28 Thinking Business

the pandemic including the very popular Hoof and Hook restaurant, Vicki’s Bridal Boutique and Beau Beauty Salon to name a few. We’ve also recently welcomed The Cranbrook Bakery to the centre of the high street and new openings are planned in the next couple of months.

“We keep aiming to make Tenterden a visitor destination to be enjoyed all year round by residents.”

Cover Feature

New retail

app launched

Award-winning mobile app Localise is coming to Ashford and Tenterden as part of a national initiative to support the country’s independent retailers, which have been described as “the heartbeat of our communities”. The app promotes independent local businesses and several businesses from the borough were included as part of a trial earlier this year.

Localise brings locally sourced products and services directly to their smartphones, delivering a premium shopping experience that supports their local community.

The app is the brainchild of Kent entrepreneur Ashleigh Cornelius, who said: “Localise aims to level the playing field for independents through the app, which enables small businesses to establish a digital presence in the community and connect with local shoppers.

“Soon local shoppers will be able to earn commission for helpful suggestions and receive rewards that can be redeemed at independent retailers and small businesses in the area.

“Localise is bringing its app to independent businesses and shoppers now that the lockdown has ended, and the public are returning to our high streets and shopping centres. For independent retailers in the Ashford borough, Localise offers simplified community building tools and an intuitive interface that makes online selling a social affair.” In a marketplace dominated by larger corporations, Localise aims to increase the number of smaller businesses that can be part of the digital community. Ashleigh said: “Shoppers also benefit from the new app.

“At a time when many of the high street traders are struggling to reach customers, Localise will bridge the gap between local shopping and digital commerce.”

The Localise app is a great way to support our independent retailers and high street in the wake of the pandemic and really encourage people to shop locally.

Cllr Nathan Iliffe, portfolio holder for corporate property and regeneration at Ashford Borough Council, said: “The Localise app is a great way to support our independent retailers and high street in the wake of the pandemic and really encourage people to shop locally.”

The app is available in the app store. To find out more, visit

Thinking Business


Worths of London, based in Sheerness, we source all our gold from London Hatton Garden and our brands are either British or represent our ethos of innovation and style. A true ‘bricks and clicks’ business, visit our beautiful store for the full Worths experience or view and purchase online.

We offer a wide selection of hampers & gift boxes, perfect for corporate gifting, presents for your team, or simply as a festive treat. Choose from our specially curated selection or create your own bespoke hamper.

We also offer jewellery repairs by our talented expert craftsman jeweller, a pawnbroking and cash for gold service, ear piercing and we are even foreign currency experts. Finalists in the prestigious UK Jewellery Awards for UK Retailer of the Year 2021 we believe our motto ‘You’re Worths It’ puts our customers at the heart of what we do.

For further information or to request a quote, please contact Harriet by emailing or calling 01580 291726

WORTHS OF LONDON 32 High Street, Sheerness, Kent ME12 1NL

Tel: 01795 227654 | *Eligibility criteria applies

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International Trade

Exporters fail to grow sales The latest British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) Trade Confidence Outlook has shown that exporters still face significant issues as they chase business overseas. The survey of more than 2,800 UK exporters revealed that the percentage of firms reporting increased export sales in Q2 had risen to 27% from 20% in Q1. Although this was a seven-point rise from the previous quarter, it still showed that almost three in four exporters reported no sales growth during the second quarter. The percentage of businesses reporting decreased export sales fell to 28%, down from 41%, but this remains a historically high proportion. In addition, 45% reported no change in their export sales. The percentage balance data shows that the proportion of firms reporting increased export sales recovered slightly after taking a downward turn in Q1. The balance of manufacturers reporting increased overseas sales was up to +8% from -9%, while the balance of services firms reporting increases rose to -7% from -26%. Overall, 35% of manufacturing exporters surveyed reported increased overseas sales in Q2, with 27% reporting a decrease and 39% reporting no change. The breakdown of services between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) exporters reveals that a considerably larger proportion of

32 Thinking Business

B2C exporters are seeing a fall in overseas sales; 38% of B2C exporters surveyed reported a decrease in export sales, in comparison to 21% of B2B firms. The proportion reporting increased sales, though, was similar between B2B and B2C firms (23% and 22% respectively). For B2B this represents an 11-point fall from 34% reporting increased sales in Q1. While 55% of B2B firms reported sales staying constant in comparison to 40% of B2C businesses, it should be noted that these numbers come on the back of historically high proportions of both B2B and B2C firms reporting decreased sales in the previous quarter, 31% and 51% respectively. Across several metrics – including domestic sales, confidence and expectation of workforce growth – exporters were more likely than non-exporters to report rises. This ties with historical data showing exporters are more likely to display confidence as they push into new markets or develop new products. Given that the recovery in overseas sales continues to lag domestic sales by a significant margin, the survey highlights exporters’ struggle to grow sales in the face of the issues currently affecting trade. Respondents cited issues arising from Brexit as the main cause of difficulties

associated with export sales in the quarter. Many pointed to ongoing issues with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), increased red tape or costs, and losing EU-based clients or customers due to the perception that trade was now simply too difficult or complex. Head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), William Bain, said: “Our exporters are among the best problem-solvers and innovators in our economy, yet our data demonstrates that they are still struggling mightily to resolve the issues that they currently face. “As the UK and EU economies open up, we urge both sides to address the key pressures upon exporters – the red tape around import VAT and the new portals, paperwork and checks for agri-food exports, consistency of approach on customs rules and checks, and the restrictions on labour mobility and service provision. “It’s clear that the TCA needs to be built upon and applied in ways which cut the current red tape costs and burdens on EU exports. We must solve these issues so that exports can become a driving force in our recovery from the pandemic.” The BCC has welcomed a recently announced extension to the date on which businesses will have to start using the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking, which is the new product safety marking in the UK. The UKCA marking replaces the product safety labelling the UK previously used while a member of the EU, such as the CE mark. The transition date will now be January 1 2023 for most goods. William Bain said: “The British Chambers of Commerce has led business calls for an extension of at least a year on the easement for CE markings on imported industrial goods, spare parts and components. “Businesses will welcome this reprieve until January 1 2023, which will protect supply chains and make a huge difference to consumers on the availability of items such as phones and laptops.

“There is currently a lack of testing capacity to enable the retesting of decades worth of CEmarked items for the new UKCA specification, so this measure will be hugely important in allowing time for that capacity to be built and for retesting to take place. “A wider problem does still exist, however. Complex supply chains such as those in the automotive industry still face having to duplicate markings on certain components and incurring large costs for testing as a result. This could compromise the output of these industries, limit availability of goods for consumers and create mounting cost pressures on British businesses. “The government needs to work now with businesses to ensure full consideration to the impacts are given before any decision to completely pull the plug on CEmarked goods. This would risk incurring costs to our economy that we may come to regret.”

International Trade

It’s clear that the TCA needs to be built upon and applied in ways which cut the current red tape costs and burdens on EU exports. We must solve these issues so that exports can become a driving force in our recovery from the pandemic Thinking Business


The courses at Canterbury Christ Church University, aim to develop enterprising and professional graduates with the right mix of skills to equip them for their chosen careers in industry. Preparing our future workforce has never been more important than now, particularly for the sectors most affected by Covid-19. The hospitality industry has undoubtedly experienced challenges from the pandemic and will continue to do so. Despite UK turnover increasing in this industry in May 2021 comparatively to the previous year, it remained at 25% less than its 2019 level according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics. One of the challenges businesses are facing is consumer spending, currently at less than 70% of pre-pandemic levels. Rising worker shortages, as well as skills shortages are also affecting the industry, with job vacancies for

this sector being at their highest levels since records began. Within the Business School at the University, there are a range of hospitality courses, including an undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management and a Masters degree in Tourism and Event Management. Both develop key transferable skills and are designed with applied learning in mind to reflect real life, industry experience, and shape the future talent pipeline for the local and regional economy.

What are the skills shortages?

UKinbound and Canterbury Christ Church University produced a report which highlighted the complexity of the skills shortages in this industry. One of the key recommendations was that the sector should champion the need for generalist skills, including ‘soft skills’ as opposed to

narrowing talent pools by focussing on ‘technical’ and primarily ‘STEM-orientated’ skills. This finding is reflected in both the ESS 2017 survey and 2019 survey showing that employers within hospitality require a variety of competencies, ranging from technical and practical, to people and personal. The indication is that this holistic approach means more specialist skills can be developed and tailored over time, therefore widening the current talent pool and in turn, attending to the current skills shortages in this sector.

How are the courses at Canterbury Christ Church preparing our future workforce? For many years, staff in the Tourism, Hospitality and Events (THE) team at the University have worked hard to offer students and employers mutually beneficial opportunities to work together. One way this occurs is through workbased learning, implemented at various stages throughout relevant courses. This provides students with real-life work experience where they can apply the academic and technical skills learned in the classroom. The activities themselves range from students providing recommendations and opportunities to support

business needs, to formally presenting to the businesses involved, their tutors and fellow students. These modules are embedded into the curriculum and are co-developed by the employer and the module leader, Dr Marion Stuart-Hoyle. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been more important that the projects developed through this applied learning approach are meaningful, ultimately supporting businesses to relaunch as lockdown lifted. This year students have worked with VisitKent in developing a Staycation strategy to help kick start the region’s THE industry, The Cave Hotel near Canterbury to develop a COVID-19 safe event strategy, and Shepherd Neame to investigate customer attitudes and concerns returning to pubs post pandemic. We asked Joanna Richardson, Head of Marketing, Brands and Communications at Shepherd Neame about her experience with work-based learning projects. She said: “We were really impressed with the energy and commitment of both groups to get under the skin of our business – from visiting the brewery and interviewing key people to conducting extensive research into the competitive landscape. This dedication clearly showed the well-thought-out recommendations and opportunities that both groups identified… From a business perspective this project has enabled us to work with upcoming talent and bring insight from a group of people who represent a core consumer group for us.”

What else is the University doing?

Our Future 360 framework is designed to provide a holistic employability education that prepares our students to be adaptable, enterprising professionals. The University has a dedicated Careers and Enterprise service to support students with the skills they need to secure graduate positions, extending beyond academia. Within this service, sits GradForce, a project funded by the Office for Students (OfS) as part of the Challenge Competition to help local students transition into skilled graduate employment within Kent and Medway. GradForce work with businesses to ‘matchmake’ their students, offering a tailored service, with diversity being at the heart of its ethos. Part of the GradForce offer includes their ‘GetHired!’ programme, designed to enable students to secure their first graduate role. Offering unique guidance, workshops and specialist training, it aims to build confidence in students and recent alumni.

GradForce is actively working with businesses within the hospitality sector, and as well as the skills gained through academic learning, the scheme helps to enable a growth mindset, giving realistic expectations and fully preparing students for the graduate recruitment cycle.

How can GradForce benefit the Hospitality sector?

We asked GradForce Manager, Caroline Demetriou, how GradForce can respond to the national skills shortages – in particular the Hospitality sector: “The soft skills gained whilst participating in the GradForce programme directly meet those identified in recent regional reports and complement the hard skills gained whilst studying for their degrees. Feedback from GradForce employers has been that our graduates have hit the ground running and have blended well in the workplace.” What skills learned in the programme, could help the Hospitality sector? “Customer service is key, so a strong focus on this skill along with conflict management and communication.”

What are GradForce’s ambitions for the future? “To become a permanent offer to our students and to local industry, guaranteeing quality graduates and building on our reputation as a University that produces excellent employees, whilst offering strong knowledge exchange opportunities to industry.”

If would like to find out more about how you can work with the University and access our students and graduates, please get in contact with the Enterprise and Engagement team or the GradForce team directly at:

In summary

The hospitality sector is a major contributor to the local and regional economy, particularly as the sector had approximately 3.3 million people working pre-Covid, in related businesses. These numbers total more than in the Manufacturing or Construction industries, contributing £145.9 billion to the UK economy in 2018. In world where the pandemic is still adversely affecting industries, nurturing students, offering practical support and guidance throughout their graduate job search is crucial for our future workforce. january2020tojune2021#state-of-the-hospitality-sector 3 4 5 6 7 Report_Nov2020.pdf 1


Members News

Golden accolade for Britain’s oldest brewer

Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame has received a Golden Award from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in recognition of its commitment to brewing excellence and innovation. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations throughout 2021, CAMRA is recognising people and businesses that have made a significant contribution to its campaign for better beer. Nominations for the Golden Awards were made by CAMRA members and locals. More than 80 breweries were submitted and this list was then whittled down to 18 awardees including Shepherd Neame. The independent family brewer has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for more than 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, the Bear Island Collection and the Whitstable Bay Collection. Shepherd Neame also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and is the sole UK distributor for premium Thai lager, Singha and Truly Hard Seltzer. It boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline. Chief Executive Jonathan Neame said: “We are delighted that our independent Faversham brewery has been recognised with a CAMRA Golden Award. Our team members are committed to quality and innovation, with a passion for brewing the best beers. Throughout the challenges of the last year our team members and licensees have shown great resilience and spirit; to have our brewery recognised in this way is a great accolade.” CAMRA’s awards director, Gary Timmins, said: “I am delighted to be celebrating these breweries and cider makers with CAMRA Golden Awards. These awards reflect the dedication and legacies of these businesses over the last 50 years, and the impact they have had on our campaign and on British brewing and cider production.” For more information visit

36 Thinking Business

Brachers advises Evolution Power on renewable energy project South East-based Brachers has advised Evolution Power on its partnership with sustainable investment group Korkia to fund the development of its initial pipeline of over 1GW of clean power project.

Evolution Power is a new entrant into the UK renewables market, led by Giles Frampton and Conor McNally, who both have previous extensive experience of developing and financing major UK renewable projects at British Solar Renewables and Macquarie Bank respectively. Korkia is an experienced solar energy investor, active in the Nordics, UK, Chile and Spain, developing and managing assets of more than EUR 700 million. The partnership is a significant transaction in the renewable

energy sector. It forms part of Evolution Power’s development programme of solar and other renewable opportunities, with target volumes of 2-3GW in total in the UK. The company aims to contribute to the transition to netzero by delivering innovative and sustainable projects.

The Brachers team, led by commercial partner Alex Cosgrove and corporate senior associate Tim Turner, supported Evolution Power on all aspects of this investment. More than a simple investment deal, the particulars of this transaction required the consolidation of several separate assets and existing legal entities. As such, the role required a significant amount of deal management and coordination with different interested parties and their counsel, in addition to Korkia’s

Using the power of football for good Across Kent, more than 52,000 people of all ages, gender and ability play football on a regular basis, supported by more than 15,000 wonderful volunteers. This contributes a massive £400m to society each year. Football has the power to do so much good within our Kent communities. Through football, we can build stronger inclusive communities, improve health and wellbeing, drive gender equality and protect our environment by ensuring a greener and cleaner game across the county. Formed in 1881, the Kent County Football Association Ltd is the governing body of football in Kent. We are positively using our influence to inspire, develop and unite grassroots football in

the communities in which we live and serve, ensuring football is available for all. So how is the Kent FA helping our communities? As well as supporting more than 700 clubs and 30 leagues across all areas of the game, Kent FA also provides a mental health champions programme for

advisors, to ensure the deal was completed successfully. Alex Cosgrove said: “We are delighted to have supported Evolution Power as they enter the UK market. The growth of the renewable energy sector continues to gather momentum supported by many innovative projects and Evolution Power’s ambitious plans will directly contribute to this. We wish them well and look forward to seeing them grow the business in the future.”

Alex Cosgrove

Tim Turner

youth and adult players across the county, works with clubs to improve their pitches and facilities and promotes a variety of funding opportunities. Most importantly, the Kent FA drives new programmes to increase player participation, ranging from the Weetabix Wildcats programme for girls aged five to walking football initiatives for older players (typically 50 years and over). Last season was tough for grassroots football with the majority of the season being placed on hold due to the pandemic. But the Kent FA cannot wait to start 2021-22 with a bang – encouraging play, promoting opportunities and protecting key areas of the game.

Members News

Walking Marathon raises nearly £5,000 for foodbank A Walking Marathon has raised nearly £5,000 for the Tonbridge community foodbank, Sustain.

On Sunday September 19, 17 plucky participants took part in a 26.2 mile walk around Tonbridge and its surrounding villages, which was part of the very first Walk Tonbridge Festival, supported by CooperBurnett LLP. In addition to a team from CooperBurnett, there were teams from accountancy firms Crowe UK and Sargeant Partnership, as well as ‘Tonbridge Mums’.

huge difference. Gargantuan respect and thanks to all those who took part; completing those 26 plus miles wasn’t easy at all. Thanks also to everyone who volunteered to make the event such a success particularly, of course, James and Paula from Walk Tonbridge.”

Walk Tonbridge Festival – hailed as a ‘celebration of walking, Tonbridge, community and countryside’ – has been organised by local man James Pavlou.

Victoria Sampson, partner at CooperBurnett, said: “It takes one person to make a difference in this world and, with the Walking Marathon, we had an army of people making a

Joseph Oates, partner at CooperBurnett, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the Walking Marathon has raised so much for Sustain. I am grateful to everyone who pushed through the pain of

Cashflow crisis looms for supply chainhit businesses

Andrew Tate, partner and head of restructuring at Kreston Reeves, said: “The physical impact of challenges in supply chains is being felt by businesses with stark warnings of retail shortages into the run up to Christmas. Yet, for many businesses, the financial impact has yet to be truly felt.

The physical impact of stressed supply chains is hitting many businesses hard and is likely to do so well into 2022. A cashflow crisis is likely to follow in the next 6-12 months as margins are squeezed, leaving businesses with shortfalls in working capital. Businesses must, says accountancy, business and financial advisory firm Kreston Reeves, forecast, plan and speak to lenders now to shape their future if they see any financial challenges ahead.

Celebrate at Leeds Castle this Christmas! It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year, so why not celebrate at Leeds Castle!

For a dining experience like no other, friends and families can celebrate with Christmas Murder Mysteries. On December 4, 11 and 18, private tours, a drinks reception and a sumptuous dinner in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall awaits guests, before the riveting evening entertainment. After the mystery is

Discover Kent with new app

hurting legs, feet and hips to make it over the finish line at Tonbridge Castle. Thanks to everyone who took part and volunteered. Thanks also to James Pavlou from Walk Tonbridge. His hard work and inspiration really brought our community together over the past 18 months.” You can sponsor the CooperBurnett Walking Marathon team by visiting: fundraising/cooperburnett-llptunbridge-wells following the COVID-19 pandemic. Government grant and loans have helped shield many businesses from this but those will need to be repaid over time, compounding a challenging financial picture.

“Margins are being squeezed with increased transportation and consumable costs that often cannot be passed on to customers or consumers. The costs of pallets have, for example, increased by more than 400%.

“Businesses need to look ahead the best they can, using forecasting tools to scenario plan. This will help them identify financial pinch-points and any potential future funding requirements. Businesses should open discussions with their lenders and funders now to see them through any tricky periods.

“Lower margins translate into lower profits and a greater need for working capital when businesses need to meet fixed costs – wages, supplier costs and overheads. This comes at a time when many businesses are facing a constrained working capital environment

“Lenders have been supportive of businesses throughout the pandemic and will not want to see their customers fail. However, it is likely they will require security on further funding, and this may not be straightforward if security is already given for current borrowing.”

solved, residential guests will retire to their luxurious castle bedroom and enjoy a hearty breakfast the following morning.

They can retire to the striking Stable Courtyard bedrooms before a full English or continental breakfast in the morning. Prices range from £72 per person excluding accommodation. Room rates start from £155 per room and must be booked with dinner.

This is priced at £120 per person excluding accommodation. If guests would like to experience the castle overnight, rates start from £295 per room. Christmas Parties in the Fairfax Hall offers guests a traditional festive feast with all the trimmings. On December 10, 11, 17 and 18, guests will gather in the beautiful 17th century oak-beamed Fairfax Hall for a three-course dinner, sparkling wine, teas, coffees and a tasty mince pie before the evening party.

Dance the night away with clients and colleagues and book a Leeds Castle Christmas Party. Whether in the castle, Maiden’s Tower or the Fairfax Hall, guests will enjoy a lavish three-course dinner, sparkling cocktails on arrival and room hire until midnight. Prices are from £72 per person. To book please visit

‘What’s On In Kent’ is the new mobile app that lets you discover lots of things to see and do in Kent.

Free to download on Apple & Google, it has been designed to be easy to use and navigate so people can find music events, shows, eating & drinking venues, walks and dog friendly, child friendly and disability friendly places to explore. It has a great feature where you can search by category, keyword, town, postcode, day or date, so you can spend less time researching, and more time enjoying! Let’s face it, who wants to waste their days off crawling through Google searching for information? Users can save items they like to their favourites. The app also has lots of other great features such as linking directly to Google maps, so you can see how far away or how long it will take you to get there. ‘What’s On In Kent’ is also an ideal platform to advertise your business. With thousands of people searching every day for things to do, they are also now searching for local businesses. It has many features and benefits such as being able to add content such as photos, videos, price lists, opening times, special offers, recurring events, one off events and so much more. Businesses can create their own profile and showcase it live to thousands of potential customers the same day. It couldn’t be easier to create a profile. Just head to www., register your business, enter your payment details and design your profile. If you’re not very tech-savvy or simply don’t have the time, one of our team can create your profile for a one-off fee of £50.00 If you have any enquiries, please contact one of the team at

Thinking Business


Business News

Progress on £30m project praised by local MP

Medway means business! Being City of Culture is about more than arts and creativity. Let's show that Medway means business!

• driving town centre footfall

Medway is currently bidding to be the UK’s City of Culture. The bid is led by an independent board of trustees from across Medway and the surrounding region and the voice of local people and businesses are shaping Medway’s bid.

Sign up to show your support for Medway’s City of Culture ambitions and to have your say about how Medway’s City of Culture plans could support your business and sector.

What would City of Culture mean for Medway businesses?

Progress on a scheme to invest £30m in horticultural science facilities and the Growing Kent & Medway initiative were praised during a recent visit to NIAB EMR in East Malling. The team at NIAB EMR welcomed local MP Tom Tugendhat and Cllr Matt Boughton, leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, for a behind-the-scenes look at progress on construction of new modern research glasshouses and plant growth facilities using the latest environmental technologies. The investment in new facilities, which will also include a research winery funded by a further £600,000 loan from the Growing Places Fund, will sustain the world-leading horticultural science expertise on site and deliver the first phase of the Green Tech Hub for Advanced Horticulture. Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge & Malling, said: “I am immensely proud of the work being done by NIAB EMR, and was excited to see the progress here in East Malling. “Thanks to a century of research, Malling is a name synonymous with fruit growing around the world. The new facilities will ensure a positive future for the science being undertaken here in Kent and support fruit growers and horticulturalists in the UK and abroad. The research undertaken here will improve the industry’s productivity and mitigate the challenges presented by climate change, to help get more locally produced fruit into our diets.” The new facilities, home to Growing Kent & Medway, a partnership of businesses and the region’s universities to help promote the sector’s economic growth, have been made possible thanks to £18m secured from the Government’s Strength in Places Fund, with a significant matching contribution from the East Malling Trust. Professor Mario Caccamo, managing director of NIAB EMR, added: “Growing Kent & Medway is a vitally important project for us and the industry. It underpins the government’s commitment to invest in highlevel scientific research to help strengthen the horticultural industry.”

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Being the UK City of Culture would provide a major growth opportunity for Medway and Kent. When Hull won in 2017, £3.4 billion of investment poured into the area over the following four years. A quarter of businesses took on new staff and a fifth extended their opening hours during the year. Benefits would include:

• putting Medway on the national map and increasing pride in the area

Jo James OBE, CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “Being named City of Culture would be a significant boost to local businesses, enterprises and traders. Bidding offers a unique opportunity for businesses across the area to engage in a high-profile moment which will define Medway for years to come and bring considerable benefits to the area.” For further information visit: business.

• job creation and helping to recruit people to the local area

Make a real difference to young people’s lives as a volunteer Business Adviser on Young Enterprise’s Company Programme. Time commitment is 2-3 hours per month – virtual advising is possible. Great opportunity for young managers to hone their people management skills. Also a chance for mature/retired managers to give something back. You’d be supporting a student company in a school/ college to develop, market and sell a product over the academic year. All training provided. Current vacancies in Canterbury, Chatham, Dartford and Tunbridge Wells. More information here: Young Enterprise & Young Money ( Contact YE’s Regional Manager if you’re interested !

• supporting and developing the visitor economy

Social Enterprise Kent, delivering high quality Training throughout Kent since 1985 Social Enterprise Kent (SEK) are proud to have been selected by Kent County Council (KCC) to deliver Infection Prevention and Control training including COVID-19, to help support *Small and Micro businesses, Not for Profit and Sole Traders throughout Kent!

Your County Council cares and so do we, we want everyone to have the correct understanding and knowledge to ensure we are all doing our bit, to help stop the spread of infections including COVID-19, bacteria and viruses. We are aware that these businesses are those who have been most financially disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this KCC is providing the training free* to those organisations. The training can be delivered via Zoom

or in person and at a time that will suit you. With sessions available 7 days a week, morning, afternoon and evening, we are sure we can support you in accessing and taking advantage of this opportunity.

Now is not the time to be complacent! With numbers of the Delta variant on the rise and the busy Christmas trading season on the horizon, we’re here to help you do all that you can to mitigate the risks from poor infection control, to prevent the potential need to close your business due to an avoidable infection outbreak. The session will teach you how to promote safe practice in your workplace by raising awareness and identifying effective methods of infection control including COVID-19. It will also guide you

through the Risk Assessment process. The training is designed to ensure you meet these requirements in a simple and practical manner. There is a Q&A section where you can ask the trainer specifics for your business, to ensure your Risk Assessment will meet the HSE Criteria & Government guidance. Sign up to your free session course/kcc-covid-19-safetraining *eligibility criteria applies COVID infections rates are surging in Kent and latest ONS figures show COVID-19 has jumped back up the being the 3rd leading cause of death in the UK. The highest ranking since March this year.

Jobs market enjoys strong recovery

photo created by -

The number of employees on UK companies’ payroll increased by 182,000 to 28.9 million in July, the latest labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. The data also showed that in the three months to June 30 this year, there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.3 percentage points, to 75.1%, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.2 percentage points, to 4.7%. Commenting on these encouraging statistics, Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The latest figures confirm that the UK jobs market is recovering strongly as the boost to demand from the easing of restrictions helped drive higher payroll employment in July. “However, record vacancies confirm ongoing recruitment difficulties. Although the changes to selfisolation rules will help, with many

firms facing a more deep-rooted squeeze on labour supply from the impact of COVID and Brexit, staff shortages may persistently weigh on economic activity. “Although labour demand is currently robust, with firms’ finances still recovering from COVID and skills mismatches likely to limit the extent to which those seeking jobs after furlough can move into available roles, unemployment may still drift somewhat higher in the near term. “Alongside rapid retraining opportunities, the government should extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022 and expand it to enable older workers to gain new skills and experience. A more

flexible immigration system is also required to ensure that firms get access to the workers they need.” There are also fears that a surge in COVID cases will hamper companies’ attempts to mastermind a sustained economic recovery as we head into the winter months. Shevaun Haviland, the BCC’s director general, has called on the government to bring forward a COVID strategy for the coming months, and to put in place a contingency plan for the possibility of a variant evading the vaccine. She said: “What we’d really like to see is a contingency plan in place that looks to the next three to six

months. Thinking about things like booster jabs or, if we have a variant that causes cases to rise again, what kind of business support could be put in place. “This is really important because it gives businesses clarity and certainty, which allows them to concentrate on doing what they do best – powering the economic recovery and investing in jobs. “We really want to see business and government looking at the longer term and thinking about things such as investment in skills, investment in global trade and the levelling up agenda. These are the things that will help our businesses move on from just surviving and get back to growing and thriving.” Thinking Business


Members News

Road traffic accident victims risk bill for credit hire cars

A Kent lawyer specialising in personal injury claims has urged motorists involved in road traffic accidents to insist on a courtesy car from their insurer, rather than opt for a credit hire car which often leaves the victim liable to pay the hire charges. Rachael Stibbe, a lawyer with Kent law firm Furley Page, explained: “If you have comprehensive insurance cover, the chances are you have a replacement courtesy car option on your motor policy in the event of an accident. “However, if an insurer thinks that you are not at fault for the accident, they may direct you to a company offering credit hire instead, as they know the defendant’s insurers will be responsible for paying your losses. The credit hire company can make a profit and you may find senior staff have a role or interest at both the insurance company and the credit hire company. “Unfortunately, policyholders are rarely made aware of the differences between a credit hire car and courtesy car. If you have a free replacement courtesy vehicle option on your policy insist on just that, as using a credit hire car incurs a personal liability on your behalf to pay credit hire charges, including credit interest, if these are not recoverable from the at fault driver.” As credit hire vehicles cost significantly more, when trying to claim back credit hire charges from the defendant, the court will address a number of requirements, which must be satisfied to fully recover those charges. This includes satisfying the impecuniosity test which means if you could have afforded to pay the normal market rate yourself then the court won’t order the credit interest amount to be paid on top of any damages. In addition, you must satisfy a ‘need for hire’ and only hire for the duration of time that is reasonable.

40 Thinking Business

Grabbing eyeballs Any marketing you do to promote your business will involve people watching – and watching means an audience.

That’s a tough call when 360 hours of footage are uploaded every minute on You Tube alone. When someone lands on your website what do they want? Information. What should you give them? Entertainment! I’m an audience expert. I’ve created over 600 hours of entertaining television with some of the UK’s top talent such as Graham Norton, Colin Firth and Frank Skinner, and I’ve produced

marketing videos for UHNWI and some of the world’s most successful companies. I know what it takes to keep people watching. You cannot just inform people. You must entertain as well. Otherwise, you won’t keep their attention long enough to buy your product, sign up to your newsletter etc. So, sugar-coat your information with entertainment. I’ve worked for all the top UK and worldwide broadcasters. The main purpose of my job is to keep the audience’s attention. On average human beings have less attention than a goldfish. You need every trick in the book to hang onto your customer. To make your website video effective, it has to be aimed at the audience (your potential clients). Production companies like to be creative and please the client. They are not in the business of growing an audience. I’ve worked with hundreds of them – I’m the one at the top of the chain re-

scripting, re-editing and generally steering the production so we get high viewing figures. Creatives are rarely aware of the audience. I liken it to someone opening a restaurant and selling hedgehog sandwiches. Move to Fairyland. Keeping attention can be down to many other things. Get it right and you can increase business – get it wrong and you lose business. Join my Broadcasting Your Business masterclass and learn some secrets on how to make your company video effective. Delissa Needham

Stones Throw promotes healthy living Stones Throw is a forwardthinking company with its ethos strongly rooted in health and vitality.

We import quality health supplements to the UK market and, along with our professional knowledge and expertise, we

With access to homoeopathic organic producers in Western Europe, we can offer a wide range of items that cover a full and varied array of health benefits.

regulations of importing supplementary products with respect to the UK regulations and our contacts in both freight and import administration, we can offer you a problemfree and professional service to access our fantastic new products for the UK.

Along with our specialised knowledge in the commodity

For more information visit

can bring to you affordable and high-quality beneficial health products for both young and old people.

Project Centre wins top accolade Project Centre has been announced as Employer of the Year at the 2021 Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) Awards.

This accolade recognises organisations that have made outstanding efforts to engage with their employees and takes into account how investing in people through health and wellbeing, skills, training, diversity and inclusion initiatives have made a positive contribution to the company, industry and society as a whole. Project Centre has over 230 employees working at six office locations strategically located

across the UK, including its new office in Ashford, Kent which opened in August this year.

With a clear focus on learning and development, Project Centre is committed to creating a more inclusive workplace and increasing staff happiness and retention. It has also implemented key initiatives including an equality and inclusion group, a women’s learning and development network and a senior leadership mentoring programme. Keith Hanshaw, managing director of Project Centre, said: “We are delighted to win this prestigious award which recognises how our people-focused ethos has been

successfully embedded across the organisation. Our greatest strength is the people we employ and we are committed to equality of opportunity and employment with a workplace free from discrimination. “We have made a concerted effort to engage and listen to our people and ensure they feel happy, supported and challenged. Combined with our Group Investors in People Platinum accreditation, we’re honoured to be recognised in this way by the CIHT.” projectcentre

asktheexpert Are you managing asbestos correctly?

Dirk Budenbender, Managing Director of DSK Environmental

If your home or commercial premises was built or refurbished before 2000, there’s a chance that there’s some asbestos somewhere in the property. Finding asbestos or even suspecting that it’s present within the building can be a cause for concern. It’s only natural that you’d want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. There are various types of asbestos but most common are known as white, brown and blue – and they can cause varying degrees of harm if you’re exposed to them. In some instances, exposure to it can lead to fatal diseases. The key to the safe handling of asbestos is knowing how potentially unsafe it might be and if you need it to be removed.

So, what do you need to do? The first thing is to organise for an asbestos survey to be conducted and, if necessary, instruct an expert to take samples to determine the extent of the asbestos in your property or premises. This work should be carried out by an expert, who can then create a tailored asbestos management plan that might involve the removal or encapsulation of the asbestos. At DSK Environmental, we have the qualifications and experience to undertake such work. As soon as we have the results of the sample testing, we’ll plan the quickest and safest way to deal with the asbestos. Our aim is to ensure your home or commercial premises is a safe environment in which to live or work. Sometimes the asbestos will need to be removed and safely disposed of, but we will never suggest removing it if it’s likely to remain undisturbed and causes no risk to you, or if it can’t be safely repaired and contained. If you’re a company owner, we can also help you comply with The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR2012) and the HSG65 Management Regulations. Ignorance of these regulations is no defence in a court of law so you should be aware of them and the duties they impose upon you. It’s not advisable to attempt to remove asbestos yourself. The less exposure you have to it, particularly if it’s damaged in any way, the less chance you have of being affected by it. In addition, asbestos must, by law, be disposed of as hazardous waste and not mixed with general household waste. If you’re thinking of doing some building work in the house or commercial premises – knocking down walls to make an office more open-plan, for example – you should

undertake a refurbishment and demolition survey first. Our single source solutions can include decontamination, reinstatement and the management and disposal of asbestos. If you’re a commercial landlord, you need to know what kind of asbestos is in the building (white, brown and blue), and the tenant needs to be confident that the environment is safe for staff to carry out their day jobs. Asbestos is something that scares a lot of people but it’s perfectly safe if managed correctly. Businesses that have any questions about this important topic can get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help. Dirk Budenbender is the managing director of DSK Environmental, a family-run business with a management team that has more than 15 years’ experience working in environmental services. The company works with owners of commercial buildings, industrial buildings, farm buildings, offices, warehouses and factories, schools, council buildings, hospitals and residential blocks. As well as carrying out asbestos removal and disposal, DSK offers a wide range of other services including environmental management, plant maintenance, passive fire protection, industrial coatings, land remediation and ground remediation. Formed in February 2020, DSK has grown rapidly and now has a team of 20 staff, with further growth anticipated in the next 12-18 months. The company has extensive experience of managing maintenance projects at large power stations and other large-scale process plants across the UK.

For more information visit

DSK Environmental Ltd

0345 314 2121

Office Address: Kent Science Park, Office 22, Building 940 Sittingbourne ME9 8EF Thinking Business


Every week we bring you an eclectic mix of information sessions, workshops, panel sessions and training sessions with some of the top local business professionals from an array of different industries. Each event is designed to mirror our face-to-face events, offering invaluable information tailored to our attendee’s wants and needs. So far, we have helped offer over 8,000 attendees throughout our online event programme, offering support and guidance through hardship.

Virtual Business Networking Tuesday 12th October 2021 How To Get A Website Video That Increases Your Profit By As Much As 35% Thursday 14th October 2021 IT Key Security Elements Regardless Of Your Business Size Tuesday 19th October 2021 Virtual Business Networking Tuesday 26th October 2021

International Trade and Finance (For Exporters and Importers) Wednesday 10th November 2021 This webinar covers in detail the various instruments of payment for trade, such as Letters of Credit, drafts, Bonds & Guarantees, Export or Import Factoring, Credit Risk Reporting, Forfaiting and Avalisation and looks at how businesses can use these instruments as part of their trade finance operations to maximise business profitability and working capital. Letters of Credit Demystified Wednesday 24th November 2021 The online course takes account of the 2020 INCOTERMS revisions and how they will be best incorporated into documents by openers or influenced by beneficiaries. For those companies supplying overseas or buying from an EU origin the course takes account of the constantly evolving post Brexit situation. 9:30am - 1:00pm Members: £56.25 + VAT | Non-Members: £67.50 + VAT

KCFG Tuesday 2nd November 2021 The Village Hotel, Maidstone, ME14 3AQ Virtual Business Networking Tuesday 9th November 2021 International: Trade and Finance Wednesday 10th November 2021 Kent Business Leaders Dinner Thursday 11th November 2021 Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards Thursday 18th November 2021 Virtual Business Networking Tuesday 23rd November 2021 Letters of Credit Demystified Wednesday 24th November 2021

42 Thinking Business

KCFG Physical Events are back! Hosted by members of the KCFG committee, Cheryl Causebrook and Ella Brocklebank. 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. Join us to hear from ‘in the know’ speakers, from Kent and the surrounding areas, who will discuss current and future projects whilst giving you an opportunity to discuss your views and questions. Enjoy a Full English Breakfast at the Village Hotel Club, served from 7.30am with an anticipated finish of 9.30am. The first Tuesday of every month 7:30am - 9:30am | The Village Hotel, Maidstone, ME14 3AQ KCFG Members: Free to attend | Non-Members: £30.00 + VAT

The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Awards brings together the business community showcasing the amazing achievements of a range of businesses and talented individuals. These awards attract a wide range of entries from across a variety of sectors, but the finalists and winners all have one thing in common, they are truly excellent at what they do and have proved this in their entry. The Awards Dinner will be attended by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Members as well as Non-Members. Strictly Black Tie (Gala Dinner) Thursday 18th November 2021 | 6:00pm - 11:30pm Westenhanger Castle, Hythe, CT21 4HX Dinner Sponsor: Kreston Reeves

Virtual Business Networking is a bi-weekly, fun way of networking which is highly interactive, sparking interesting conversations and aims to bring like-minded people together, guide forward new ideas and form new business relationships. Conversation with our guest speaker will be followed by three breakout room sessions where attendees can delve deeper into discussion, or discuss their own topic in more depth. Every other Tuesday | 10:30am - 12:00pm Members: Free to attend | Non-Members: Free to attend

IT Key Security Elements Regardless Of Your Business Size Your business relies on technology everyday but you’ll be surprised to find out how much technology is putting your business at risk. During this webinar, you will learn why... Cybersecurity is so important to small and medium-sized businesses; how do Cyber Crime organisations try to breach your business; what measures can you implement to strengthen your Security posture and how to address this security risk so you can focus on serving your customers better and be more adaptable to other business challenges.

How To Get A Website Video That Increases Your Profit By As Much As 35% In this online masterclass, Delissa Needham, will show you how to create video that actually works for your business and increases your profit. You will gain the knowhow to grow an audience and turn audiences into clients as well as the ability to make every visitor to your website engage with your company. Thursday 14th October 2021 | 10:30am - 11:30am Members: Free to attend | Non-Members: Free to attend

Tuesday 19th October 2021 | 10:30am - 11:30am Members: Free to attend | Non-Members: Free to attend

Thinking Business


The Person behind the business

Cognitas platform enriches

LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR USERS disaster simulations for the Isle of Man Ship Registry and delivered wildlife investigation training for conservation organisations.

Lawrie Day spent three decades in the police force before putting that vast experience to good use in the corporate world.

“Law enforcement agencies also find our platform useful; we created a dynamic digital learning solution to train criminal investigators who work for HMRC’s Counter Fraud Academy (CFA). We also successfully delivered immersive learning to financial investigators in several southeast Asian countries for Interpol. As a result, we’ve recently been asked to design and deliver further training to financial investigators in 15 countries across southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Initially a detective, he served the last 12 years of his service as a financial investigator specialising in serious and organised crime such as money laundering, complex fraud, human trafficking, obscene publications, casino crime and drug trafficking. During this time, he identified, recovered and repatriated millions of euros of the proceeds of crime from offshore jurisdictions, which subsequently resulted in a substantial number of convictions for money laundering, leading to deprivation and confiscation of those proceeds. This experience was the catalyst for Lawrie to launch the AML Consulting Global Group in 2011, a year after retiring from the police force. He says: “After 30-plus years of public service I realised I had the skills and knowledge to share with people living in post-conflict countries, or countries emerging from corruption or political transition, and could play a small part in making their world a safer and better place to live. Since then, he has personally delivered training in 35 countries and in 2017 he designed his View360 Global platform which has been used across 5 continents in order to train people more effectively. AML has delivered training on subjects such as corruption and counter terrorism to more than 60 countries worldwide. This led to

the formation of another company, Cognitas Global, which Lawrie launched two years ago. Its central focus is the development of a multilingual training platform that provides the ultimate immersive, interactive learning experience for those who use it. The cloudbased platform, View360 Global, allows companies to create training scenarios that are customised to meet their specific needs and can be delivered in more than 90 different languages. The business has made great strides in its first two years, having delivered training to organisations in more

than 40 countries. This included critical incident training for top-level executives and the CEO of Network Rail to help them prepare for a similar incident should it happen in the real world. Lawrie says: “Cognitas Global delivers training on crisis management and education. It enables companies in a wide range of sectors to replicate certain scenarios to test crisis management and business continuity plans. We’ve created cyber disaster scenarios for IT firms, international shipping

“Our platform allows companies to train people collaboratively across diverse locations, where abstractions can be minimised, and training costs reduced – meaning that more training can be achieved for less. This is important in the current climate, in which budgets are stretched for many organisations. The other key advantage of our platform is that it’s totally immersive and interactive. It prevents the disengagement that many people experience when they have Zoom meetings.” Cognitas is currently building relationships with education institutions to test the efficacy of emergency response in schools and colleges. It’s also being used for leadership training and the personal development of education staff. Lawrie and his team are now exploring how View360 Global can be used to inform the curriculum and safeguard young people. It’s clear that there’s still much untapped potential in this hugely popular product.

Our platform allows companies to train people collaboratively across diverse locations, where abstractions can be minimised, and training costs reduced 44 Thinking Business

BRINGING INNOVATIVE AND IMMERSIVE LEARNING Our platform offers innovative and cost-effective learning delivery, whether it’s for student education or to test crisis management at staff and governance levels.

Delivering tomorrow’s learning today

01474 555 507

Engage learners in an immersive experience Train people effectively across multiple locations Provide key stakeholders with measurable results Cost effective experiential learning solutions

This is what our clients have to say about the View360Global platform TM

“It’s flexible, adaptable and has the potential to revolutionise the training environment”.

“It far exceeds anything else available on the market and successfully delivers immersive learning”.

Book your FREE no obligation demo or visit our website today!

+44 (0) 1474 555 507

Discovery Park backs government’s support for innovation Council helps delivery of innovation, persuading pandemic has shown major Park, the life sciences residents slash Discovery UK companies to bring back challenges can be resolved by and business campus at manufacturing jobs to the country, ambitious investment in science, Sandwich, has welcomed the UK and creating highly skilled jobs. technology and innovation. government’s new innovation water bills We welcome the government’s strategy which plans to increase Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has teamed up with South East Water to help people on low incomes have their water charges capped. This is the first-time South East Water and a local authority have worked together. South East Water has been able to apply a reduced tariff (social tariff) to eligible residents. The criteria for receiving the social tariff is household income of under £16,385. More than 7,000 residents will benefit from the social tariff. Fresh water is capped at a ceiling amount. For wastewater, customers receive a reduction of either 25% or 50% depending on their circumstances. Cllr David Burton, Maidstone Borough Council leader, said: “The past year-and-a-half has seen some very challenging times for many people across our borough and particularly for many lowincome residents. “Simply put, we at MBC know who the households are that are entitled to the discounts but often the householders don’t know that they are eligible. We are putting the two together to help those residents on the lowest income get substantial reductions in their water bills.” To help identify those people eligible for the social tariff, the council and South East Water worked under the basis of the Digital Economy Act 2017 legislation. This has enabled both parties to share names and addresses of qualifying households from Council Tax Support claimants to automatically put residents onto the social tariff. Tanya Sephton, customer service director at South East Water, said: “We believe we are the first water company to use the legislation with a council to help identify our customers who may need a helping hand with their water bill. It means our customers will get the assistance they need without delay or having to seek that help directly.” For more information visit https:// help-paying-your-bill

46 Thinking Business

public investment in R&D to a record £22 billion a year.

The strategy, which also includes the government’s Life Sciences Vision, aims to tackle key domestic priorities including climate change and boosting growth in clean technologies, robotics, life sciences, genomics and artificial intelligence (AI). The government’s ten-year Life Sciences Vision seeks to ‘build back better’ and is consistent with Discovery Park’s focus on innovation, STEM skills, as well as digital & AI, and manufacturing. Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said: “The

support for entrepreneurs to tackle real-world issues by creating new technologies, commercialising them and scaling up their businesses here in the UK.”

The government’s strategy includes plans to invest £200 million through the British Business Bank’s Life Sciences Investment Programme to target the growthstage funding gap faced by UK companies in the sector. Jane Kennedy, chief business officer at Discovery Park, said: “The Life Sciences Vision is an exciting strategy for the sector, and we are delighted to see the focus on accelerating the

“Companies at Discovery Park continue to play an important role in the pandemic response and contribute to the growth of the UK life sciences sector which employs more than 250,000 people with an annual turnover of £80bn.” As the country looks to emerge from the pandemic, confidence at Discovery Park remains high. Since January 2021, 30 new businesses have moved there, taking 25,000ft2 of office and laboratory space and reinforcing the site’s importance to the south east economy. For further information, visit

Urgent appeal to landlords from Ashford Borough Council Ashford Borough Council to welcome Afghan families fleeing war-torn country; appeal to private sector landlords to come forward with accommodation Ashford Borough Council has increased its efforts to meet the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan by announcing it is willing to help to re-home more Afghan nationals who have been assisting the British Government and Armed Forces in the war-torn country. The council has reacted swiftly to the emergency by confirming it is in contact with the Government to offer assistance to Afghans and their families who have been supporting our efforts in Afghanistan. We have already identified accommodation for three households but are looking to increase this to take between five and ten families. Ashford has a proud track record in coming to the aid of innocent people caught up in international conflicts – around 150 Syrian refugees have resettled in Ashford over the past six years as part of the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Last year the council won a major national award for its work welcoming Syrian families to the county. Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are seeing a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding before our very eyes in Afghanistan. People there are in dire need of urgent assistance and Ashford is determined to do our bit to help. “We must open our hearts to these people and with the experience we have gained welcoming and

integrating our Syrian friends into local communities, no-one in the UK is better placed to give these people a safe haven and a new start.”

Appeal to private sector landlords Just as the council did with the Syrian refugees, the decision has been taken that no social (‘council’) housing will be used to accommodate the Afghans, ensuring that they are not seen as “jumping the queue” when it comes to council housing. Refugee families are in private sector accommodation, provided by charitable landlords, private landlords and via the council’s lettings agency. The authority is currently reviewing what accommodation is available to the Afghan families and has issued an appeal to private sector landlords to step forward to assist with the process. In return the council will support the families and work alongside landlords to help those assisted to integrate into our community. Addressing any concerns about families arriving in Ashford from a country which is on the COVID-19 ‘red list’, Ashford has confirmed that all arrivals from Afghanistan are being placed into quarantine until they are deemed fit to move on. Vaccinations can be arranged as part of the health and social care provided to Afghans settling in Ashford and, in line with the Government-funded support available to Syrians as part of the national resettlement scheme, assistance will also be provided with language and skills learning and help getting employment. Cllr Clarkson added: “ The support of council staff, local residents,

voluntary organisations, private sector landlords and community and faith groups was absolutely crucial to enabling successful integration of our Syrian families and I am confident that Ashford will once again rise to the challenge of helping Afghan families to start new lives here in the heart of the Garden of England.”

A proud track record with Syrian refugees Under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) launched in 2015, Ashford Borough Council was one of the first local authorities to step forward and has so far welcomed 34 families totalling 146 refugees. Ashford decided to oversee the project directly and appointed specialist staff within our Housing team to take full responsibility for helping the families integrate with the local community. It was a key decision that no local resident in housing need would suffer as a result of us committing to this programme, and all accommodation secured has been in the private sector which would not have otherwise been available to those on our housing register. Refugee resettlement schemes are funded by the Home Office so there is no major financial burden on councils. Contact Private sector landlords interested in working with Ashford Borough Council to resettle Afghan families should contact Anne Forbes BEM, Refugee Resettlement Programme Project Co-ordinator, by email at or on her mobile phone on 07909 800425.

Business News

Maidstone Innovation Centre & NCL programme working to secure £21 million funding for lifechanging autoimmune treatment The South-East Innovation Programme (SE-IP), an initiative led by NCL Technology Ventures for Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is helping to secure £21million of funding to develop treatment that could change the lives of autoimmune disease sufferers. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020, the SE-IP (formerly the MedTech Innovation Programme or M-IP) was scheduled to coincide with the opening of MBC’s Maidstone Innovation Centre in summer 2021. The programme is specifically aimed at supporting early-stage companies with pioneering technologies that significantly impact people’s lives. Led by ex-Pfizer employee Dr Jason Rutt, Pharmaceutical company, Azadyne, which originated in Trinity College Dublin, has already secured almost £1million in funding via the programme for its autoimmune disease treatment. As well as

leading on the funding, NCL Technology Ventures assisted the company with its business and financial planning and relocating to Canterbury. It is now in the process of a second stage of financing to help Azadyne raise £21million for human trials of drugs that could treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune disease is one of the largest and most underserved areas of medicine. Most treatments available work by suppressing the immune system, which wipes out healthy cells and can result in numerous debilitating side effects for sufferers. The therapy being developed by Azadyne could be a huge breakthrough in this area of treatment as it takes a completely new approach, by specifically targeting abnormal immune cells, meaning healthy immune cells are unaffected. Maidstone Borough Council Director of Regeneration and Place, William Cornall comments:

New grants for horticultural food and drink industry Growing Kent & Medway has announced £3million in R&D grants for projects that support inclusive economic growth and environmentally sustainable practices and innovations.

Funding grants of up to £250,000 will be made available to assist projects that aim to develop green technologies, processes or products for horticultural food and drink businesses across Kent and Medway.

A unique requirement of the funding application will be an expectation that businesses commit to delivering social value back to the region. Whether through community engagement or by raising awareness around career pathways in horticulture, food production or AgriFood technologies.

The grants offer businesses operating in food production, packaging, processing or enabling AgriFood technologies the first

“It’s really exciting that the work of the Maidstone Innovation Centre and SE-IP could help Azadyne potentially change the lives of autoimmune disease sufferers. “The aim of the SE-IP is to back innovation in healthcare and related sectors that has a real impact on people’s lives and Azadyne’s work is a great example of that. “We look forward to welcoming more companies to the programme and helping them work towards ground-breaking achievements.” Azadyne CEO Dr Jason Rutt commented that “Autoimmune diseases affect over 10% of the world’s population. Using ground-breaking tRNA modifying technology our novel drugs act via a new pathway in the body to treat a range of debilitating conditions including MS. We are excited to be taking these new medicines into the clinic and to continue our progress towards creating new

opportunity to benefit directly from the programme. Dr Nicola Harrison, programme director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The large-scale collaborative R&D grants we are making available will be awarded to projects that will help to establish the Kent and Medway area as a world-leader in climatesmart, sustainable horticultural food and drink production. “These grants are an important part of our wider programme to build on the region’s reputation and international gateway status. We are investing in state-of-theart infrastructure and research facilities, scientific expertise and enterprise growth to make this region one of the most dynamic, competitive and successful horticultural and agri-tech locations in the world.”

medicines to treat these terrible diseases. It is incredibly hard for embryonic pharma companies to raise funding, so we are very grateful to SE-IP for helping us start to realise the potential of this ground-breaking research.” The SE-IP is free of charge and includes all aspects of developing a commercially viable business. Companies wishing to apply for the training, must be either located within the SELEP covering Kent, Medway, Essex, East Sussex, Southend, and Thurrock or be able to move to the area prior to the programme. They must demonstrate that they have a viable technology or service proposition focused on any part of the healthcare market including health, life science and MedTech. Interested companies should contact Graham Hutchins at

Oliver Doubleday, chair of East Malling Trust, said: “Funding for research and innovation to support the horticultural industry has been at the heart of the trust’s work for more than a century. “Thanks to Growing Kent & Medway’s grant scheme, it will ensure the sector can make an even greater contribution to the development and sustainability of the local economy through the commercial application of science and research.” Applications open from September 6, 2021. Applicants must be Kent or Medway-based businesses, or carrying out significant economic activity in the region, working in the horticultural food and drink sector or enabling technologies. For more information visit Thinking Business


New Members

Welcome to our new members 24-7 Steller Packing Ltd Tonbridge 01892 337862 Contract Packing

A J Grant Builders

Maidstone 07971 715866 General Builder

Absolute Gases Ltd

Strood 01634 907089 Suppliers of Calibration Gas Mixtures & Equipment

AiMS Financial Ltd Ashford 01233 638300 AiMS.Financial Financial Planners

Brandspace Media

Canterbury 01227 478605 Branding, Graphic Design, Marketing, Website Design

Coversure Maidstone

Poole 01202 801782 Insurance Brokers

Countdown Services Kent Ltd Bexley 01322 429968 Transport Manager Consultancy

48 Thinking Business

Cube Training and Recruitment

Hangloose Adventure Bluewater

Curious Brewery

Hayne House

Gravesend 0330 064 005 Training and Recruitment

Ashford 07921 818035 Brewery/Bar/Restaurant

Drakemoor Ltd

Maidstone 01622 535199 Construction Development

Elite Blinds

Canterbury 01227 720881 Blind & Shutter Installation

Euroflo Fluid Handling Ltd Paddock Wood 01892 832144 Pump Sales and Hire

Flamingo Fire Protection Ltd Sheerness 07946 466903 Professional Installation of Fire Protection Systems

Hampton by Hilton Ashford International Ashford 01233 557799 Hotel

Greenhithe 01285 640600 Zipline

Hythe 01303 262555 Wedding and Events Venue

Head to Toe Holistic Therapy Herne Bay 07506 765119 Hypnotherapy and Reflexology

Homewood's Electrical Ltd Ashford 01233 360910 Electrical Installer

IT Outcomes

Whitstable 0330 332 6262 IT Support

JEM Environmental Ltd Ashford 07775 556599 Asbestos Consultant

KDP Architects

Sittingbourne 01795 844162 Architects

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Enhance Lead Influx Ltd

Canterbury 0330 055 7573 Lead Generation and Marketing

Patch Media

Tunbridge Wells 020 7952 1740 Marketing Agency

Phoenix Design & Construction Ltd

Ashford 01580 857718 Main Contractor and Builder

Pike Education and Training Ltd London 07532 356628 Consultancy

Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Canterbury 0300 157 6145 Ministry of Defence

Rigour Survey

West Malling 01622 392207 Land and Measured Building Surveys

Protect SPUTNIK Marketing

Folkestone 07895 143552 Digital Marketing Consultant

Tassells Solicitors

Faversham 01795 533337 Solicitors

The Climbing Experience Ltd

Connect Towers Tiny Tots Ashford

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Nursery & Pre-School for Children Aged 3 months to 5 Years

Upcycled with Love Cuxton

07808 829754 Eco Solutions

Maidstone 01622 677977 Indoor Climbing Centre

Virtec IT Solutions Ltd

The Elwick Club

IT Support & Services

Ashford 01233 620043 Events, Venue Hire, Conference Facilities

The Hidden Treasure Micropub Dymchurch 07939 281541 Micropub

The Maidstone Distillery Maidstone 07707 800126 Distillery - Manufacturing

Three Link

Canterbury 01227 949500 IT Consultancy


01304 279179

Wildwood Trust Herne Bay

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Wildlife Park and Nature Conservation Charity

What's On In Kent Maidstone

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Zion's Touch Ltd London

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Thinking Business


Last Word Sally Newall Simply Ice Cream MD

Simply Ice Cream - Set up in October 2005 we believe that simple natural food tastes best. Our ice cream is handmade in small batches in the heart of Kent using only simple, natural and fresh local ingredients. We do not use artificial colours, additives or preservatives and we only use the finest ingredients and seasonal fruit. We produce our range of decadent, luxury ice creams in Bonnington, Ashford using British dairy products, Kentish seasonal fruits and ingredients from top suppliers sourced locally where possible. The result is an awardwinning truly unbelievable taste!

Movers and Shakers

Kent PR agency strengthens senior team For the first time in its 26-year history, Kent PR, public affairs and marketing agency Maxim has made changes to its senior management team with the appointment of two new directors.

15 months supporting NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group while Erica has managed a range of clients, including extensive work for medieval charity the Rochester Bridge Trust.

Established by Andrew Metcalf and Philip Jones in 1995, the Tunbridge Wells-based agency has promoted longstanding members of staff, Rachel Knight and Erica Jones, to the board of directors, with equity in the business.

Maxim specialises in public relations and public affairs with a track record in stakeholder management, particularly in Kent.

What was your first job and what was the pay packet? My first job was working for my mother’s catering business alongside that I also worked at Tesco and the Wimpy whilst at school! I vaguely remember it was about £3/4 per hour? What do you always carry with you to work? I always have my mobile phone and my ipad with me, being out in the countryside we have no mobile phone service so am never quite sure why I bother bringing my mobile into the office! What is the biggest challenge facing your business? Rapidly rising cost of everything and the potential shortages forecast, packaging, ingredients, staffing are all concerns. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business? Taxation obviously but we have to accept we need to pay back the pandemic somehow and I think we all knew it was coming. For SME’s especially in the F&B sectors its tough though as our margins are always tight anyway. What can you see from your office window? Grass and trees and the beautiful Kent countryside. If you could do another job what would it be? Probably something in nutrition or health. As a business person, what are your three main qualities? Adaptability, persistence and a good work ethic. What was your biggest mistake in business? I have made lots along the way, I can’t think of any one big mistake but over the years I have definitely learnt from every single one of them. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Running your own business is hard, expect long hours, be honest with yourself about your strengths and make sure you engage other people to cover your weaknesses. I really believe that working with a consultant across various aspects within the business is one of the most worthwhile things you can ever do. Who do you most admire in business? Anyone running a small business (especially those that have come through the last 18 months and are still here) should be admired especially in the food and hospitality industries.

50 Thinking Business

The move coincides with Philip’s decision to step back from the day-to-day management of the agency, although he will continue to work with Maxim. His primary focus will be to advise clients in the renewable energy, infrastructure

Building reputations (L-R): Maxim’s newly appointed Directors Erica Jones and Rachel Knight with Managing Director Andrew Metcalf. and development sectors, as well as continuing to assist the company in securing new clients. Maxim’s managing director, Andrew Metcalf, said: “I wanted to recognise the significant roles Rachel and Erica have played in our success in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. I’m looking forward to this new, exciting chapter in which we will continue to provide a first-rate service in everything from reputation management to community engagement.” Rachel, who recently marked 20 years with Maxim, has spent the last

Andrew continued: “Obviously COVID has made things difficult for many of the organisations we work with but we feel we’re in a good position to help them get back on the front foot. We have always been about building and protecting clients’ reputations, whether that’s through public relations, public affairs, crisis communications, marketing or support with social media.” Maxim’s services include PR and media relations, stakeholder engagement, preparation of awards entries and the production of brochures and newsletters. For more information visit

Charter Tax recruits new consultant Charter Tax, which has offices in Kent and London, is proud to have welcomed renowned taxation expert Ray McCann to its team as a consultant.

He brings with him more than 40 years’ experience in UK and international tax issues and is a fellow and past president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT).

Linda’s Florist are Celebrating 40 years in Business this year! In 1981 Linda started off with just a little Kiosk in the Tufton centre (which is now County Square Shopping Centre), her business has grown through the years from shops in Bank Street, the High Street, and

Ray has worked with Jane Hodge, client tax manager at Charter Tax, in the past and has known Janet Pierce, principal of Charter Tax, for some time. He said: “Over the years, I have introduced a number of clients to Charter Tax who needed accountancy services and it was those relationships, both personal and client-based, that led to my involvement with the firm.”

[Joseph Hage Aaronson] until his retirement last year and continues to provide consultancy support. He continued: “I see my role at Charter Tax as building on the longstanding relationship I have had with the firm but in a supporting role to Janet and the other fee earners.

Ray previously worked at one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms and, prior to that, as an HMRC inspector. He was a partner at the law firm JHA

Janet Pierce added: “We are delighted that Ray has joined our team here at Charter Tax. He brings with him unrivalled and extensive experience in tax, which will not only benefit us all at Charter Tax, but our clients as well.”

various large studios. Business is now blooming under one roof at Heron Business Centre, Henwood where all the team have come together to create the personal service it runs today.

Not only does Linda’s Florist cater for all gift occasions, weddings, and funerals, but it also provides corporate arrangements or plants for many businesses to brighten up receptions and offices.

The website is the “New” shop window, displaying lots of different gift designs and additional touches such as delicious Chocolates, Scented Candles, Balloons and Wine & Champagne.

Account customers benefit from Free local delivery and are invoiced monthly. For more information visit:

Copy Deadline: News items for the December-January issue to be submitted 9 November

01227 806547

Environmental consultancy

SUPPORTing our natural NETWORK By continually working with our clients to achieve the best possible balance, we are able to monitor and enhance the relationship between our built environment and nature.

Actively encouraging gains in biodiversity and wildlife enhancement.




Species mitigation, EPS licensing, baseline appraisals, impact assessments, habitat regulations assessments

BS5837 surveys, impact assessments, tree removal plans, root investigation, anti-compaction systems, tree inspections

Habitat creation, pond creation, long term management schedules, mitigation enhancements works, scheme-wide environmental enabling

01227 806547


What’s important to you, is important to us. It’s the people that make Girlings different – friendly and down to earth we work hard to provide an excellent service. Our lawyers and legal advisers are acknowledged experts in their specific fields of law.

Personal Law:

Business Law:

n Residential Property

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We are proud of our roots in Kent – we have been successfully managing the legal affairs of commercial, family and individual clients since 1881 – and are committed to playing our part in making the county a successful place to live and work.

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Call us now to discuss your legal needs and experience the Girlings way.

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Ashford 01233 664711

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Profile for Benham Publishing Limited

Thinking Business Kent October 2021  

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