Thinking Business October 2023

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Later Life Planning Where to start ...

• OFFICIAL MAGAZINE FOR KENT INVICTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE • October - November 2023 • n The Big Interview with Danielle Cassidy FIRP, of MC Personnel Ltd p16 n International Trade - Holiday traffic boost for Port of Dover p36 n Spotlight Focus on Ashford p34 n Chamber Events p42 n New Members p48
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Welcome to the latest edition of Thinking Business.

Autumn is here, which can mean only one thing - we are on the countdown for our Chamber Awards!

Always a popular event, the Awards are an opportunity to celebrate

Celebrating achievements

the achievements of individuals and businesses in Kent. I am sure you will agree, there is nothing better than celebrating success in business. The prestigious event will be held at Westenhanger Castle on Thursday 23rd November. I look forward to seeing you all there!

MegaGrowth 50 has made a welcome return to celebrate Kent’s fastest-growing businesses and is now open for applications. Now in its 20th year, this prestigious league table is brought to you by business advisors and accountants, Kreston Reeves and law firm Brachers, in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. We are delighted to be supporting MegaGrowth 50 for the first time. Our county is a fantastic place to grow a business and I look forward to seeing the entries.

It is great news that plans that will improve the skills of the Kent and Medway workforce have been given the vote of confidence by the Rt Hon Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education. It follows the work of the Chamber after we were appointed last year by the

Government to be one of eight national trailblazers designed to influence the local skills agenda in partnership with the county’s Further Education (FE) colleges. Ensuring the needs of Kent and Medway businesses are at the centre of the skills conversation is crucial.

Danielle Cassidy’s rise from apprentice to Managing Director of MC Personnel Ltd is an inspirational read on p.16-17. Her passion for nurturing young talent and providing apprenticeships for people of all ages shines through – like she says, it is how she started out in business. Celebrating 25 years in business, Danielle talks about the ways her team is future-proofing the company.

While we often plan for the future of our businesses, some of us can be guilty of neglecting our personal later life planning. I hope you find our coverage on this important topic a useful read to prompt you into getting your affairs in order.

Ashford is on the rise thanks to significant investment in the area. A £250 million regeneration project

on the former Newtown Railway Works to transform the site into a mixed-use development of television and film studios, film school, commercial space and hotel will bring significant investment and job creation to the area. In Brompton, the planning application for a new factory could provide up to 4,000 jobs for the Kent economy. Ashford College’s £10m extension is now complete and will bring an extra 250 students to the college each year. Fantastic news for the region. Summer holidays may seem like a distant memory, but it is refreshing to see that the Port of Dover has seen traffic volumes return to pre-pandemic levels, a welcome economy boost for the area.

I look forward to seeing you all very soon.


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

Media No. 1933

Published October 2023

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Publisher Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440

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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. © 2023. 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.

Thinking Business 3 Welcome & Contents Our Patrons 4 Chamber News 5 Legal Update 8-9 Members News 11 Patron News 12-15 Members News 16-17 The Big Interview 18-19 Members News 21-23 Skills 25-31 Cover Feature - Later Life Planning 32 Members News 34-35 Spotlight FocusAshford 36-37 International Trade 39 Members News 41 Membership Benefits 42-43 Chamber Events 45 Chamber Business Awards 46 British Chambers
Commerce Awards 47 Business News 48-49 New Members 50 Last Word 50 Movers and Shakers
36 Contents 21 16 25

Message from the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce President, Richard M Lavender

Jo James OBE DSc (Hons). Or as my Granddaughter is heard to say “Grampie, Jo is your work wife who you take out more than Grandma!”

So, as you can gather Jo and myself have worked together for some time. I became a Director of the Ashford Chamber of Commerce, representing Eurotunnel, a good few years ago and Jo was then Office Manager and supporting Chris Capron who was our CEO. Together they moved forward to adding other Chamber names to Ashford until the birth of the “Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce”.

It was at this time that Chris became ill, and Jo went from the supporting role to the managing role and kept the Board well briefed and showed that she was more than capable of running things as Chris’s health sadly further deteriorated.

It was then regrettable that Chris had to retire, and a replacement CEO needed to be found.

A conversation took place between Jo and myself, which I remember to this day, after my saying why don’t you apply for the position.

I would certainly propose you and back you, I am sure many others had the same conversation, and as they say, the rest is history.

Over the years Jo has taken the Chamber to new levels, she has got out there and told the County, the South East and the Country what is happening and what is needed for business today.

All our members have placed their complete trust in her and she has delivered. Being CEO is not about sitting in your office, dictating letters, answering phone calls, or emails. Yes, it is that but more, it is about getting your feet under the table with those who make the decisions and create the changes.

You don’t need me to tell you that Jo has carried that out and

consequently, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce has become a business membership to be listened to and worked with.

We now come to the point whereby Jo has decided to take a break, those are my words, as Jo actually said she was retiring, but like me, do you really believe that? I believe that Jo has come to a staggered crossroads and will enjoy turning onto the main road of retirement for a short while before turning off once more and taking up a role that she can make her own and put all that experience to good use advising others how to achieve the impossible dream.

On behalf of the Board, Staff, and Members, a big thank you Jo for the journey you have made with us, the changes you have brought, the level to which you have raised the KICC profile throughout Kent & Medway.

Finally, Jo, thank you for the close and respected working relationship you and I have enjoyed throughout this journey. Enjoy your family and I am sure we will see you across some business table in the not-toodistant future.

4 Thinking Business ❜❜ ❛❛ Chamber News
I believe that Jo has come to a staggered crossroads and will enjoy turning onto the main road of retirement for a short while before turning off once more and taking up a role that she can make her own and put all that experience to good use advising others how to achieve the impossible dream.

Succession Planning

The same energy, strategic foresight and planning is required when considering the future on a personal level. However, professionals might underestimate the value of ensuring their personal affairs are in order, procrastinate due to work pressures, or struggle to know where to start.

From a financial planning perspective, professionals often have clear goals, for example, regarding how much wealth they plan to accumulate and then how and when they intend to spend it. However, it is important to plan efficiently, including for any unexpected turn of events. Pensions, for example, are not only a great way to save tax efficiently for retirement, but also work well as a succession planning tool, because they generally fall outside of an estate for inheritance tax and so can be used to cascade wealth down the generations very effectively.

In my experience, contingency plans are often put in place, and regular financial reviews provide the opportunity to make any adjustments to the strategy which could reflect changes in circumstance, legislation or personal goals.

Problems may arise though when decisions can no longer be made personally. So, I always stress the importance of having succession plans in place to ensure one’s wishes continue to be carried through.

A Will is the most obvious place to start, as this not only ensures the estate gets passed to the intended beneficiaries, but also appoints executors who are given the responsibility of administering the estate which makes the process much easier from start to finish. The Will gives instruction to the executors relating to the desired distribution of the assets.

Without a Will the remaining partner, spouse or other close family member does not necessarily automatically benefit from the estate. Intestacy rules determine who

can administer, and who is entitled to, the assets of the estate and these rarely follow what someone would wish to happen.

The final part is often the piece of the plan that gets left until it is too late. The part that ensures a person’s affairs continue to be dealt with in the event they are unable to make decisions for themselves. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows individuals to nominate someone they are sure will make decisions in line with their own wishes when they no longer want to, or are no longer capable, of making those decisions themselves.

Without an LPA in place, if capacity is lost, someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become the Deputy. This is a long and complicated process, but once appointed, that Deputy will be the person making all the decisions henceforth.

Succession planning is not only important after death occurs, but essential during a lifetime in the event that capacity to make one’s own decisions is lost.

Thinking Business 5 Legal Update
Tel: 01227 768374 Email:
A long-term business vision is imperative for all business owners. They will rightly dedicate time and energy to develop a strategy in order to future proof the business they’ll have spent many years invested in and building.

Let us help you face the future

Let us help you face the future with confidence...

Let us help you face the future with confidence...

Let us help you face the future

When it comes to financial advice, it’s important to find someone you can trust.

When it comes to financial advice, it’s important to find someone you can trust.

Celebrating 33 years of providing unbiased holistic financial planning to clients and businesses across Kent. We are proud of our success, our independence, and our reputation of being a friendly, professional practice.

Celebrating 33 years of providing unbiased holistic financial planning to clients and businesses across Kent. We are proud of our success, our independence, and our reputation of being a friendly, professional practice.

Celebrating 33 years of providing unbiased holistic financial planning to clients and businesses across Kent. We are proud of our success, our independence, and our reputation of being a friendly, professional practice.

Celebrating 33 years of providing unbiased holistic financial planning to clients and businesses across Kent. We are proud of our success, our independence, and our reputation of being a friendly, professional practice.

For more information about the many services we offer, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn for regular FAS news, views and financial updates.

For more information about the many services we offer, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn for regular FAS news, views and financial updates.

For more information about the many services we offer, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn for regular FAS news, views and financial updates.

For more information about the many services we offer, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn for regular FAS news, views and financial updates.

Folkestone Office: 01303 273 273 Maidstone Office: 01622 238 230

Folkestone Office: 01303 273 273 Maidstone Office: 01622 238 230


Folkestone Office: 01303 273 273 Maidstone Office: 01622 238 230


Folkestone Office: 01303 273 273 Maidstone Office: 01622 238 230


When it comes to financial advice, it’s important to find someone you can trust.
When it comes to financial advice, it’s important to find someone you can trust.
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Chartered Financial Planner

Let’s face it – none of us like paying Tax, and of all the different ways we contribute to the Exchequer, Inheritance Tax is perhaps the most hated Tax of all. It is not hard to see why Inheritance Tax is so unpopular, and as it is charged at a rate of 40% above the available exemptions, Inheritance Tax is highly punitive.

Government revenue from Inheritance Tax is only likely to increase, due to the freezing of the Nil Rate Band, which is the amount an individual can leave on death without a tax charge applying. This has been set at £325,000 since 2009, and this allowance is frozen until at least April 2028. Of course, over this time, asset values have risen strongly, and the real value of the Nil Rate Band has therefore become lower over time.

As we get older, our financial priorities often begin to shift, and many start to consider preserving the wealth they have accumulated during their lifetime for the next generations. It is only natural that we would want to leave family wealth to those who mean the most to us, and in the most tax efficient way possible. It is easy to forget that accumulations of wealth through salary or earnings have already been taxed on receipt, and with assets above the nil rate band being liable to Inheritance Tax, this can lead to a significant reduction in the value we leave to our loved ones.

We often meet with clients who haven’t given any consideration to Inheritance Tax planning. With house prices rising over time, increasing wealth through investment and surplus income receipts and inheritance they may themselves receive in the future, clients are often surprised at the amount of Inheritance Tax that could be payable on their death.

You will be pleased to learn that there are a range of options available that can be used to mitigate the potential liability to Inheritance Tax on your estate and with careful planning, greater sums of family wealth can be passed on to the next generation.

Timing is important when it comes to Inheritance Tax planning. In mid-life, most will have more significant financial priorities to attend to, such as saving to provide a retirement income, paying off existing debts, or covering the costs of University for their children. It is, however, important not to leave Inheritance Tax planning too late in life, as this can limit the range of options available. As clients get older, conversations about wealth preservation generally become more focused, and this is the time to begin to plan ahead. By starting conversations early, appropriate mitigation can be put in place in time so that hard-earned wealth can be preserved for family members, and not passed to the revenue in the form of Inheritance Tax.

It is important to seek professional advice and guidance on an ongoing basis to make the most of any Inheritance Tax planning and avoid any unforeseen potential pitfalls. After all, circumstances change and any Inheritance Tax planning needs to be balanced against other financial needs, such as providing income in retirement. For example, making gifts of assets to children and grandchildren is a perfectly rational strategy to consider; we, however, have seen cases where clients have decided to make large gifts to family at an early stage in retirement, without considering the longer term implications of their actions. They then find themselves in need of capital that now isn’t available to them, as the capital has been gifted and spent. Likewise, we have come across individuals who have put in place complicated arrangements, which prove very costly, and may not be effective for Inheritance Tax mitigation. Some of these involve the family home, and we would always

recommend seeking independent financial planning advice before considering any such scheme.

Another complication of this type of planning is the potential for changes in legislation to impact on Inheritance Tax planning that has already taken place. Of course, any advice can only work within the existing set of tax legislation, and we, like everyone else, cannot guess whether the tax rules will change in years to come. It is, however, a reasonable assumption to note the increasing relevance Inheritance Tax receipts now have as part of the overall Treasury revenue, and any reduction in the amount of Inheritance Tax received would need to be found through alternative taxation. For this reason, we look to plan ahead with clients, and as part of a wider financial planning strategy, can include solutions that aim to provide Inheritance Tax mitigation, but remain as flexible as possible, so that they can adjust in the event that tax rules change. These include investments in assets that qualify for Business Relief, which can provide exemption from Inheritance Tax in just two years.

Preserving family wealth is a key element of many financial plans in later life. By engaging with an adviser at an early stage, you can begin to consider what steps you need to take to minimise the Inheritance Tax burden and preserve more of your hard-earned family wealth.

© Financial Advice and Services Ltd 2023

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

MegaGrowth 50 returns to celebrate Kent’s fastestgrowing businesses

MegaGrowth 50, a ranking of the fifty fastest-growing businesses across Kent, is now open for applications.

Now in its 20th year, this prestigious league table is brought to you by business advisors and accountants Kreston Reeves and leading law firm Brachers, in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce for the first time.

The ranking is based on the average turnover growth of privately owned businesses that have a minimum turnover of £1 million, as stipulated in full accounts registered at Companies House across the last four years.

Businesses with four years’ notable turnover growth that do not register full accounts at Companies House can also be recognised and are invited to submit their accounts for consideration.

James Bullock, Head of Corporate and Commercial at Brachers, said: “This year we’ll be celebrating those who have not only survived but thrived in the face of a challenging economic environment.

At Brachers, we love a good success story and we’re lucky to work in a county with so many thriving and entrepreneurial businesses. We’re looking forward to hearing about the achievements of local organisations across Kent, particularly the hidden gems that MegaGrowth 50 has always been so good at putting in the spotlight.”

Nigel Fright, Managing Partner at Kreston Reeves, added: “It’s always great to see Kent businesses doing well and the USP of the MegaGrowth 50 is that, unlike traditional business awards, it picks up fantastic success stories of businesses who don’t ever shout about it. Kreston Reeves has been honoured to be associated with the MegaGrowth 50 for over 10 years and taking part in recognising Kent businesses for their growth, as well as highlighting that this county is a great place to do business.”

Jo James OBE, Chief Executive at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, added: “Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce is delighted to be supporting MegaGrowth 50 for the first time this year.

It is important for us to be part of this celebration of successful businesses as it demonstrates that our county is a great place to grow a business. It also highlights that the Chamber is here to support and advise local businesses through the challenges that often come with a fast growth path.”

If you have filed a full set of accounts at Companies House in each of the last four years, you do not need to fill out an application form as your figures will be downloaded by the MegaGrowth 50 project team.

Others who wish to be considered should complete the application form. It’s free to apply. The deadline for all applications is 5pm Friday 3 November 2023.

The MegaGrowth 50 will be published in the April/May edition of Thinking Business. All ranked companies will be invited to a free celebratory breakfast on 20 March 2024, at the Tudor Park Marriott Hotel, Bearsted, near Maidstone.

If you have any queries or would like to check your eligibility, please contact Find out more at

Technology advances see AI become a dynamic partner – but nothing beats the human touch

jobs. Perhaps it is time to look at it as a technological way to enhance creativity rather than replace it?

In the dynamic world of business, where innovation propels us forward, embracing those scary looking AI tools is a strategic move. We all understand that progress is linked with our ability to adapt. And AI technology opens doors to efficiency and versatility that grants us the freedom and time to expand our own creative horizons.

AI can be a divisive topic –some see it as the future of technology while others fear it will replace real people’s

Think about the convenience of producing a whole bunch of different content effortlessly, at the click of a few buttons. AI empowers us to amplify our productivity, so we can focus on doing what we do best. The precision and consistency offered by AI gives

us a bit of breathing room for our human touch to flourish.

As we dive deeper into the AI realm, remember this: while technology advances and becomes ever more remarkable, it still can’t replicate the essence of true human connection. Our instinctive ability to infuse emotion, empathy and authenticity into our work remains unmatched. For me, clients don’t just want a voice; they want real life experience, a resonance that sparks trust and understanding.

In an age where digital interactions dominate our lives, that genuine human connection stands as a beacon of distinction. The power of a nuanced voice, crafted by human intuition, can’t be beaten by algorithms.

Making people feel – this is the mark of a mind and soul that defies automation.

So, embrace AI tools as partners. Let’s leverage their capabilities. Let’s speed up our processes, diversify our offerings and explore new dimensions.

But, let’s never lose sight of the irreplaceable value we as humans bring—a touch that resonates, leaves an indelible impression and gives you a tingle. The world is calling out for us, our realness and our honesty.

Our voices, our stories, our collaborations and creativity will forever remain the heart of what we do.

8 Thinking Business Members News

Tougher EPC targets for commercial buildings

With the race to “net zero”, the rules on energy efficiency in commercial buildings are tightening and every landlord needs to be aware.

It is essential to have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate before your property is put on the market for buyers or for tenants.

In April this year, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, which first came into force in 2018, were extended.

Now non-domestic landlords are required to obtain an EPC of at least an E rating whether their tenants are new or existing ones.

New buildings also require an EPC as do properties where there have been major renovations or certain changes of use.

The law is enforced by the local weights and measures authorities who can issue a compliance notice. If the landlord or owner still refuses to act, fines of between £5,000 and £150,000 based on the rateable value of the building can be imposed.

But the Government has confirmed that it aims to go still further with a target of a minimum B rating by 2030, or by 2025 for new buildings.

So now is a good time for commercial landlords to make certain they are complying with existing law and consider upgrading the heating, lighting, ventilation and insulation of their buildings.

After all, decarbonising your property will also improve its value and save money in the long term.

To find out more about how to get an EPC, how much an EPC will cost, what you can register exemptions in, and how to stay one step ahead of the new rules, please head to and read the full article: TOUGHER EPC TARGETS AND YOUR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS.

For more information visit the Government website:

We’ll turn an argument…

Not all businesses run smoothly –arguments and disputes inevitably occur. Once harmonious partnerships can sour, impacting business performance and profit. So it’s essential to resolve disputes as effectively as possible before legal action comes into force.

…into a settlement.

Whether you decide to seek a settlement or to defend a claim; our experienced team will be with you every step of the way.

To find out how we can help, call us on 01622 698000 or email

Thinking Business 9
Members News
Whitehead Monckton Limited (no. 08366029), registered in England & Wales. Registered office 5 Eclipse Park, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under no. 608279.
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Brachers’ residential property star scoops National Paralegal Award

Towergate Launches New Business Insurance Hub in Tonbridge

Towergate Insurance Brokers, a Patron of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, recently celebrated the opening of their new commercial home in Tonbridge.

The Towergate Tonbridge office opened in August 2023 and employs 50 permanent members of staff. The insurance broker has taken 5,600 sq ft in Wharf House, which is situated toward the northern end of Tonbridge and directly on the south bank of the River Medway with excellent views of Tonbridge Castle.

Having been a Kent Invicta Chamber Patron since 2017, Towergate is committed to supporting Kent businesses of all sizes with their commercial insurance needs. The local team in Tonbridge offers advice to a wide range of businesses from SMEs to corporates and international companies with operations overseas.

Towergate’s team of professionals source insurance tailored to the needs of each individual business whether that is a sole trader or a company with thousands of employees.

Speaking of the Tonbridge office launch, David Armstrong, Area Director said:“We are thrilled to be working out of the new Tonbridge office and making new connections with businesses in the community.

“Towergate has a dedicated and experienced team who understand the commercial insurance market and the demands placed on Kent businesses in the current climate.

“We have innovative solutions under the Towergate proposition and additional services that will support local businesses and help safeguard them and their livelihoods against risk.”

Towergate is part of the Ardonagh Group, one of the world’s leading independent brokers, offering an unrivalled local footprint of experts specialising in commercial insurance for a wide range of sectors. Towergate is a community broker with more than 50 offices throughout the country and employs over 2,000 people. Their specialist, local teams offer expertise which will be leveraged to ensure Kent Invicta Chamber members always receive independent advice they can trust and excellent customer service.

Leading law firm Brachers, a Patron of Kent Invicta Chamber, is delighted to announce that Senior Paralegal Clare Waters has been crowned winner of a National Paralegal Award in the new ‘Best Conveyancing/Real Estate Paralegal’ category.

These prestigious awards, organised by the Professional Paralegal Register, champion the fantastic work being done by paralegals across the UK.

Clare Waters, a completions executive in Brachers’ conveyancing team, was recognised for her outstanding client service when helping clients who are buying and selling their homes. Clare was also commended for her commitment to professional standards and instilling excellence in the junior staff she trains at the firm.

Sara Smith, Head of Residential Property at Brachers, commented: “we are thrilled that Clare has been recognised for the professionalism and positivity she brings to her work. Buying and selling a house is known to be stressful but Clare is unflappable.

“She truly goes above and beyond for clients, doing whatever she can to make the process as smooth as possible. Clare is also a brilliant mentor and a credit to the paralegal profession. This award is also a great achievement for the whole team, who work in unison with Clare to provide a high level of service to all our clients.”

The illustrious National Paralegal Awards took place at The Grand Hotel in Birmingham.

Clare regularly hosts Brachers’ Residential Property Update video series, sharing the latest insights on the property market, the legal processes involved, and any updates to the law. The most recent update, co-hosted with Brachers’ Legal Executive Rachel Plumb, presents a ‘Guide to Remortgaging’ and can be viewed at

Thinking Business 11
Thinking Business 11 Patron News
❛❛ Towergate has a dedicated and experienced team who understand the commercial insurance market and the demands placed on Kent businesses in the current climate.

Are you working on your CPD?

Indicator FL Memo is fully CPD Accredited.

Legal publishing company

Indicator FL Memo, based in Ashford, is very well established in its field producing reliable content for tax, accountancy, HR and health & safety professionals for almost 90 years. Their easy-to-use Tax Essentials platform is in more demand now that they’re fully CPD accredited – helping many people working on their CPD.

David Peddie has been with the firm for just over two years, attending many of the Chamber’s networking events.

He said: “With my experience in events for brand awareness such as exhibitions and networking, I knew it was vital to join the Chamber and we’re proud at Indicator to have been members now for nearly two years. In that time, we have made numerous great connections as it’s a great place to network. I have met a lot of existing clients as well as many we can help in the future. We help businesses throughout the UK, but I have always found it rewarding supporting and being in contact with local businesses in our area.”

Indicator’s flagship platform Tax Essentials contains all their tax resources in one area: newsletters, tax memo, hundreds of documents and calculators, tax rates and an expert helpline. In May 2024, Indicator will be at the ExCeL for the Accountex exhibition showcasing their excellent resources again.

Indicator’s resources are reliable and factual as they are put together by industry experts and updated regularly. Their Tips & Advice newsletters are easy to read, helpful and written in a conversational style.

To discover more, visit:

Horizon Europe brings new opportunities for Kent’s science community

Discovery Park, Kent’s thriving life science community, welcomes the announcement that the UK will rejoin the EU’s Horizon science research programme. This international collaboration brings together the brightest minds in the world and offers transformational funding that will be vital to drive scientific discovery.

Positioned in Kent at the interface of the UK and Europe, Discovery Park is home to a wide range of companies driving scientific development who will benefit from the opportunities this programme brings. Kent’s flourishing science and technology cluster will be a cornerstone of this growing international collaboration.

Following two years of negotiations, this news demonstrates the UK’s commitment to R&D and building

a strong research pipeline. This will be key to developing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges as well as building a strong science and technology economy in the UK.

Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said: “We’re excited by the news that the UK will once again be part of Horizon Europe’s world leading research programme. Collaboration is vital to successful science and innovation and the funding and

partnership opportunities the programme offers will bring considerable benefits to the UK and Europe. Nowhere is this more relevant than Kent, on the doorstep of Europe. We look forward to seeing the companies based at Discovery Park and our local universities benefit from the programme as well as welcoming new organisations to the growing Kent science and technology community.”

For more information visit:

Top tips on preventing e-bike fires from UK Electric Bike Centre

With news reported more and more frequently of e-bike fires, Marcus Van der Gaag, who runs the South East’s largest e-bike showroom, UK Electric Bike Centre, gives his advice on avoiding e-bike fire hazards.

Buy a compliant e-bike

Buy from a reputable retailer, go and see the e-bike before you buy it and check it meets UK standards, easily available on (search ‘Electric bikes: licensing, tax and insurance).

Battery & charger

Check they have relevant safety certificates, such as CE or UL. If they don’t, do not buy – they may be poorly made and be a fire

risk. The safe ones will be more expensive but very much worth the money.


Ensure the battery and charger are compatible with your e-bike. Use the one that comes with it or the one recommended by the manufacturer. If you’re using incompatible parts, you’re creating a fire risk.

Check for damage

On your new e-bike, check for any damage: frayed wires, broken parts to the e-bike, battery or charger. Look for the same issues on regular home inspections and fix immediately or stop using.


Charge your e-bike in a wellventilated, non-flammable area. Avoid charging near flammable materials, and never leave it unattended while charging. Don’t overcharge – it can overheat and a full battery can cause an explosion.

No DIY electrical work

Leave the adaptations, fixes and maintenance to a trained expert.

For any e-bike query, contact UK Electric Bike Centre, based at Headcorn Aerodrome.

12 Thinking Business Members News
E-bikes, or electric bikes, are becoming more popular, for commuting, leisure, or keeping up the cycling with a bit of help.

Selling your products or services for Christmas?

Planning your marketing will give you the sales boost you’re hoping for – and it’s not too late to start.

Marketing and PR consultant Sarah Hawes from Izzy PR advises setting aside some time to plan your content – what it is and when it will be sent, so that you’re ready to go.


Who uses your products / services and why? Each target audience will need different messaging – don’t go general, go targeted.


Choose the best platforms – where your buyers will see you. Think about your target audience again – where are they? Online, offline, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc?

Use a mix of images and videos that show the product/service in action, used by the different target audiences, including the relevant key messages for each.

Post demo videos, ‘how to’ information, flash offers and previous customer reviews.


Make sure the customer has all the information they need to know and that the buying process is quick, easy and secure.


Plan targeted campaigns – you will need to segment your audience for this to be effective, so that you are telling the right people the right key messages. Plan a sequence, so that they are sent a series that makes sense, moving them closer to a purchase. Remove those who have already bought, into a different audience and send different messaging.


Digital advertising can be instant, but print advertising needs to be booked asap publications close to adverts 2-3 weeks ahead of distribution.

Five things to know about barn conversions

A barn conversion is a wonderful way of reviving an old, past used structure. Vernacular Homes has converted many barns. Director, Trevor, Weeks shares his key points to consider if you’re thinking of undertaking one.

What are the advantages of a barn conversion?

The higher-than-average ceilings lend themselves to beautiful features such as double height rooms, large windows and vaulted ceilings. The large open spaces also allow for open plan design with plenty of space for separate rooms too.

Can I design it myself?

Having your own ideas can help create a building you’ll love. But an experienced professional can advise on what works and help accentuate beautiful historic features. We also use Building Information Modelling (BIM), creating a virtual model of your new home which you can tweak before work begins.

• We believe that partnerships most powerful way to

We champion Kent to local economies

Do I need planning permission?

Usually, yes. However, a change to planning policy in 2013 – ‘Class Q’ – allows some barns to be converted under permitted development legislation. As specialists, we can guide you through the rules and regulations.

What can a barn be used for?

Depending on planning permission, it can be converted into a dream home, create extra space, or as a holiday let. The central structure and open areas can also make for a striking workspace.

Are conversions expensive?

Costs vary but will typically be a little more than building a new home from scratch. This is because significant remedial works are often necessary to make the building safe, secure and watertight. Planning permission costs should also be factored in.

We value people and have network of clients and

We deliver creative know-how brand building expertise

The Future is in Your Hands

What better way to secure the future of your business than to pass on your knowledge and experience firsthand. Mentoring is high on the agenda for leading Kent branding agency Oak Creative. The team of creative professionals discuss the mentoring they’ve been involved in, and how helping other people helps their business too.

Studio Director Laura Bevan is a mentor for the Growing Kent and Medway Food Accelerator programme which helps food and drink businesses in their infancy to make informed decisions. Laura says, ‘Oak are passionate about supporting businesses to get off to a great start. This can be friendly advice about their brand, website, or operations. Building the relationships within a trusted network is all part of the mentoring experience.’

Marketing & Advertising

In a creative sphere, Art Director Jasper Ryman has completed a mentoring stint with the Creative Mentor Network (CMN) on their Break the Wall programme. The CMN strives to make the creative world more inclusive through mentoring, recruitment and consultancy. Jasper says, ‘I am proud to have been able to use my skills and expertise to support rising talent in the creative industries.’

Internally, Oak Creative are keen to nurture their own team members too. Oak Creative designer Issy Richardson has been taking her first steps into the world of frontend development. She says, ‘I can’t emphasise enough how fortunate I am to have our fantastic web developer, Dane, as a mentor. His guidance, patience, and willingness to explain even the fundamental concepts have been invaluable. Collaborating with someone experienced has significantly smoothed out the learning curve.’

Illustration & Animation

Whether it’s mentoring or personal development, investing in your team will naturally have a positive impact on the service you provide now and in the future. Communicating this to your customers is also really powerful. If you’re not doing so already, start sharing your reallife learnings and your commitment to your future brand.

Sponsored Members News
Thinking Business 13

Former teacher-turnedpublisher Karen Stanley shares her passion for writing

As a former teacher and assistant headteacher with over 20 years’ experience, I have always had a longstanding passion for literacy and the written word. I first began writing 12 years ago whilst teaching and have now written and published 14 books.

My own writing and publishing journey and the experience I gained, led me to start my online writing academy and subsequently Mabel and Stanley Publishing, a hybrid publishing house dedicated to helping new and budding authors to realise their writing dreams. To date, Mabel and Stanley has published 15 new authors from a wonderfully diverse range of genres and from as far afield as the United States.

I still run my writing academy and coach and support writers from initial idea through to publication. I also write content for a wide variety of businesses both nationally and internationally and have ghost written books for some high-profile business professionals. With my education experience, I am able to provide curriculum expertise and advice to children’s activity providers, helping them write cohesive, curriculum-linked schemes that enable them to take their provision into schools more effectively.

I am a motivational speaker on the topics of creativity, writing and the power of content to raise credibility. I am passionate about inclusion, wellbeing and creativity and love helping my clients to realise, often long-held, dreams and ambitions to become published.

I believe in the power of collaboration and have gained huge inspiration from working with others.

Brachers advises Element3 on its acquisition of Vision PLC

Brachers, Kent based law firm and Patron of Kent Invicta Chamber, has advised the shareholders of Element3 on its strategic acquisition by Vision PLC, a national provider of managed print and document services.

Element3 is a leading document management software company based in the UK. It is the developer of FileHound, a cutting-edge cloud-based document management and automation platform that enables businesses to streamline their document-intensive processes, enhance collaboration, and improve productivity.

The Element3 and FileHound software finds a perfect home among Vision Plc’s suite

of products and services and significantly enhances Vision Plc’s business process automation capabilities.

Corporate Partner Matthew Simmonds led the deal for Brachers LLP, alongside Cameron Gaston-Penny (Corporate) and Joseph Burrows (Corporate).

Zana Gradus, Managing Director of Element3, said: “I am delighted that we have found the right home for the team and our software for its next phase of development. Congratulations to the teams on Element3 and Vision on what I am sure will be a deal that will enable both sides to flourish. A massive thank you to the Brachers’ team for making this such a smooth transaction from

our end. Cameron and Joseph were a credit to Matt and Brachers and I have enjoyed working with them. It is clear that they are passionate about what they do and want to get it right for their client. I look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Matthew Simmonds added: “I am so pleased to have been able to work with Zana and her team again. We worked with them at the start when the Element3 / FileHound Platform was an idea. It’s a huge achievement for all the team to achieve a successful sale to Vision Plc who will oversee the next stage of the development of the FileHound Platform.”

For more information please visit:

5 Logo File Formats you should have (and Keep)

A quality logo is a valuable business asset, but it’s still surprising how often clients supply us inappropriate and/or unusable files, so here are five logo file formats Howell & Hicks Creative ( say you should have:

.ai (Adobe Illustrator)

The original, editable design file, this vector format can be exported to multiple file types. Best for: everything (provided someone can open/edit it using Adobe Illustrator software). Not all designers will supply this ‘holy grail’ format, but H&H always do.

.eps (Encapsulated PostScript)

This vector format’s versatility means many printers and designers favour and request it.

Best for: print

.svg (Scalable Vector Graphic)

Ideal for 2D graphics like logos, .svg displays vector graphics sharply on every screen or device.

Best for: online

.jpg (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

H&H is often supplied a .jpg as a client’s primary logo file BUT they usually pixelate if scaled up, and their fixed white/coloured backgrounds limit their design flexibility. Imagine your beautiful logo sitting inside an ugly white block over a beautiful image - not very appealing.

Best for: online

.png (Portable Network Graphic)

This flexible format’s transparent background allows placement over colourful backgrounds or images. pngs can lose sharpness when scaled up, but exporting at big sizes prevents this.

Best for: most applications

On every H&H branding project, clients get a ‘master’ folder containing these vital formats. And then they just have to keep them safe and use them consistently everywhere.

14 Thinking Business Members News
14 Thinking Business

FOUR WAYS a GDPR specialist can help HRs

Although GDPR falls within an HR’s role, it doesn’t mean you should be expected to be a GDPR expert! It’s a specialist area, with lots of jargon that can be a challenge to understand.

GDPR and data privacy expert Judith Andrews from Business Tamer explains how outsourcing to an expert can help ensure compliance and provide peace of mind:

Spotting gaps

Some of your business documents might need a refresh, or there could be some that need adding to your files. A GDPR specialist can assess your policies, refresh them or help to create new versions, where necessary.


Whether you have a good grasp of the rules and just need a refresher or could benefit from reviewing the basics, a training session can give

you the confidence to know that you’re working within the guidelines for the work you do.

Crisis management

In the event of a DSAR (data subject access request) or data breach, time is of the essence; it’s not the time to learn on the job. Being able to call on a GDPR expert who can quickly act to help you deal with the request for data or a data incident can save stress and limit any damage.

Saving time

An HR’s role is wide and varied. Outsourcing on an ad hoc or ongoing basis can free you up to concentrate on your core tasks, safe in the knowledge that this important area is being taken care of and taking a job off your to-do list.

For more information visit:

5 reasons to enter a business

Entering a business award is great for your business – and if the form puts you off, then RW Coaching can help.

Rosemary Williams specialises in form-filling, offering businesses the chance to be supported to send a stand-out entry without actually doing it all themselves.

Here’s her top 5 reasons to enter a business award.

1. Recognition and Prestige:

A win or even just a nomination can help towards enhancing your company’s reputation. It shows your stakeholders, including clients, partners, investors, and employees, that your business has something to say and wants to be recognised for its achievements and excellence. Boost your brand’s credibility and attract new opportunities.

Understanding Customer Variability: Why all customers are not the same

It is easy to assume that all customers are the same and that they buy products or services for the same reasons. Each customer is unique, with different preferences, motivations, and purchasing patterns.

Angela Hall from The Insight House highlights the importance of understanding customer variability and how it can benefit your business.

Unveiling Customer Differences

Let’s take a trip to a local supermarket –is everyone there for the same reason?


2. Increased Visibility and Publicity:

Social media, awards website, photos, press coverage – you might be featured, and of course, you can do your own publicity too through your own channels; social media, website, database mailer etc.

The increased awareness can lead to more clients, sales and income.

3. Networking and Connections:

You never know who you might meet!

Business awards ceremonies and events offer excellent networking opportunities, bringing together influential individuals, industry leaders, and potential partners or investors that you might not have had the opportunity of meeting without being involved.

4. Employee Morale and Motivation:

Who doesn’t like to win an award? It will really show your staff that they are doing a great job and contributing to the success.

5. Self-analysis:

The application process often involves self-assessment and evaluating your business against specific criteria or industry standards. Slow down and take time to reflect on your company’s strengths and areas for improvement. Whether you win or not, you gain clarity about your business and you can use the feedback as a learning tool.

For more information visit:

A weekly shop, basket of top-ups, buying clothes, click and collect...same shop, different reasons for visiting and different purchases made. Customers have distinct reasons for visiting and varying needs when it comes to purchasing. The same principle applies to your business.

Understanding Customer Profiles

Developing customer profiles gains insights into each customer’s preferences, behaviours, and motivations, allowing you to tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies to meet their specific needs. It is all available from your customer data, where you can create customer segments; groups of customers with similar behaviours – you just need to know how to tap into it.

Unlocking Sales Opportunities

Recognising that all customers are not the same is crucial for business success. By understanding customer variability, you can develop comprehensive customer profiles, tailor your products and services to meet specific needs, and uncover hidden sales opportunities.

Embrace the uniqueness of your customers and make data-driven decisions to enhance their experience with your brand. You will build stronger customer relationships, increase customer satisfaction, and drive business growth. For more information visit:

Thinking Business 15 Members News

Recruitment firm’s focus on going the extra mile –and even have the wheels to get you there!

From Apprentice to Director, Danielle Cassidy FIRP, of MC Personnel Ltd, talks to Sarah Dale about her focus on nurturing young talent, how the business has overcome adversity, and how they are futureproofing the company to thrive for another 25 years.

MC Personnel Ltd, main hub based in Gillingham, are a busy Recruitment Business. At the core of their growth plan, training and development are key. The business offer apprenticeships internally to at least two people per year who are looking to enter the industry. Director, Danielle is especially passionate about this and assisting those looking to get back into work, especially young mothers.

“I’m very keen on mentoring people who show willing and helping them to develop their careers” said Danielle, who started at the firm in 2000 on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) herself and became Director this summer.

“Getting young people excited about their future career is important to me. As a young mother myself, I didn’t want to have to make a choice between my family and my career. I wanted both! As a nation we are missing out on a huge amount of talent where parents, in particular mums, cannot afford to go back to work due to the cost of childcare or lack of support. Advances are being made, but there is still a long way to go”.

“We are very strong on apprenticeships (for all ages!), it’s how I started, and it works. Across our senior and management team, many of these people started through this route. We support our teams with their career and personal development which includes professional qualifications up to degree level should they wish to embark on that journey. Empowering the team with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need is at the heart of how we operate”.

The recruitment firm has developed over its 25-year history. Established in 1998, the company was the brainchild of two women who saw a gap in the market for transporting temporary workers to their place of work, often in hard-to-reach places. With a fleet of up to 20 minibuses it is a service they still continue to provide.

Historically, they specialise in Industrial recruitment. Engineering, Hospitality, Commercial and Driving Recruitment with expansion into the Exec search and C Suite level have all been added in successfully over the years.

They typically service sectors throughout the Southeast, predominately Kent, Essex and London and typically have worked with employers to fulfil temporary requirements, although after just a few years they diversified into permanent recruitment also.

They pride themselves on providing a personal service with “real people to talk to” and aim to be an extended arm of their client’s own personnel department.

16 Thinking Business The Big Interview
Danielle Cassidy is passionate about Recruitment as well as mentoring people and helping them climb their chosen career ladder.
16 Thinking Business

“Even with the continued investment into new technology to make our processes more streamlined, MCP will never lose that personal touch. You will always be able to speak to someone dedicated to your needs”.

Danielle is very proud that her team of 25 were able to adapt and helped to provide many Key Workers throughout the pandemic, many of these were part of the chain that ensured the essentials we all needed were available on the shelves.

The Cost-of-living Crisis and changes to immigration laws following Brexit has contributed to create “a perfect storm” of challenges for many in the industry, including MC Personnel.

“The increase in National Living Wage in April had a knock-on effect, ultimately, we had to pass this cost onto the end hirer which is then passed on until the increase reaches the consumer. People may be earning more, but we are all paying more for day-to-day items. Increasing NLW alone is not going to help solve the issue, as employers and businesses we have to adapt and think outside the box”.

“End hirers have, on occasion had to make the difficult choice to leave their orders unfilled, leaving supermarket shelves unstocked either due to price or a lack of people available. Following Brexit, a huge amount of people left the UK and it is now much more difficult for people to enter and work here”

“As an industry we went through a period where candidates were in short supply. Being based in Kent we have always had a large migrant workforce within our borders, and many seemed to disappear overnight! We had to think and adapt quickly.

By working and listening to our clients’ struggles, needs and future plans, we were able to navigate our way through them together. Some solutions included changing working patterns to either extend days, add in shifts, offer more flexible working etc… Part-time workers (such as students) now make up a larger portion of our contingent work force which is ideal for them to gain working experience whilst filing a gap for employers.

We increased our marketing budget significantly and following a successful Kickstart placement internally, we now employ our Marketing and Social Media Manager rather than outsourcing. This gives us full control and she really knows our business and where we need to push advertising etc… Some of the things she can do still blows my mind!

We have worked very closely with local government, job centres, attended jobs and career events more than ever before.”

After a tricky couple of years for the Recruitment Industry, Danielle, who joined the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce over a year ago, is positive of the future of not only MC Personnel but the job market also.

“The demand for temporary staff reduced over the last 18 months however I am delighted to say that has started changing and the outlook for 2024 / 2025 is looking much more positive!”

The demand for MC Personnel’s assistance in permanent contracts has increased by over 100% over the past 5 years and their continued growth within the Events and Hospitality sectors has seen a significant increase over the past couple of years.

The company was acquired 51/2 years ago when the original founders felt it was the right time and in very capable hands. In 2022 the company undertook the task to rebrand and modernise the overall look including a new logo and website.

Next year, this continues following recent investment in new technology to further assist their Recruitment staff to save time on administrative tasks and match even more suitable candidates to vacancies as well as an office refurb to keep in line with the rebrand.

“One thing that we pride ourselves on is being personable”, added Danielle.

“Industrial recruitment has always been at our core and our niche, we have also added many strings to our bow over the years including Events which has really taken off. There are not many recruiters that are able to offer a larger number of staff as well as transportation for them. As an example, we can provide up to 70 waiting staff over the Christmas period to just one venue alone. A lot of people who work in hospitality may be students and don’t have their own transport. If they are working at festivals or at events they may not finish until midnight and can’t use public transport. We can take them there and back and make sure they get home safe and sound”.

To celebrate their 25th anniversary of business, they have had several different events and promotions taking place throughout the year. Recently the Mayor of Medway, Cllr Nina Gurung came along to the office where she

spoke to the team at length and enjoyed some celebration cakes and photographs. All the team have been out delivering treats to their clients and work force to say thank you. There is also a special offer running for the rest of the year on permanent placements.

In October, Danielle has organised a company weekend away for the team.

“The team works so hard. Recruitment can be very stressful and throughout it all they all stay so upbeat and positive. I can’t wait to see everyone letting their hair down, they thoroughly deserve it!” she added.

Danielle is proud to be a member of the Chamber calling it “an additional support system in the business hub of Kent”.

“The Chamber has helped to put us in touch with other members. It is not only about picking up additional business though, speaking to people in a range of businesses about what’s happening to them and how it’s affecting employers is so worthwhile” she said.

“Because we deal with employers daily, it’s good to know how we can support them further and understand their challenges alongside our own.

“To new members, I would always advise them to check out the Events Calendar. The Chamber held a Social Media course recently which my Marketing Manager attended, and she said it was brilliant, very worthwhile and it was free!”

She added: “There are lots of great Recruitment companies out there, we often work together. I firmly believe that the fact that MCP is a service-led business is what makes us one of the best in Kent. We don’t pretend to always be the cheapest but in the long run we are cost effective. Our service and ability to go beyond the normal or expected is what sets us apart. Standards are non-negotiable if we work together. People are our product so it will never be perfect but it will be an honest and hopefully long-term partnership when you work with us!”

Thinking Business 17 The Big Interview

Exciting new partnership between Chamber members Opulence and Chilston Park Hotel

A new partnership between two Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Members, Opulence and Chilston Park Hotel, will offer unique corporate retreats in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside and award-winning vineyards.

Nestled in the serene landscape, Chilston Park stands as an iconic British country house hotel, which boasts an abundance of style and charm. Set against the backdrop of tree-lined lanes within a sprawling 77-acre expanse of Kentish parkland, its classic allure is truly a sight to behold. Chilston Park Hotel presents 53 distinct feature bedrooms, ranging from the enchanting Mews Classic double rooms to the regal Manor House Master Suites. Its renowned two AA Rosette restaurant is a testament to excellence, solidifying Chilston Park Hotel’s reputation as an ideal haven for magnificent corporate private dining experiences.

Combining the stunning hotel with the luxury bespoke wine experiences from Opulence allows for a new and exciting offering for their respective corporate clients, as well as continuing to showcase Kent as an ideal destination for corporate retreats.

Commenting on the partnership, a spokesperson for Chilston Park Hotel said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Opulence. Together we will work hand-in-hand to enhance our guests’ experience with bespoke wine tasting in award-winning vineyards in the Garden of England.”

Emma Broom, Owner of Opulence, said: “I’m thrilled about the partnership with Chilston Park Hotel and am very much looking forward to working closely with them to offer our corporate clients a unique, luxury English wine retreat.”

How to find the right bookkeeper for your business

Whether you’re looking for your first bookkeeper or a new one, it’s a big decision. After all, you are handing over your sensitive and confidential financial information to someone else.

Finding the right bookkeeper can be tricky, but Paul Cain from Cain & Co gives his advice on how to get it right.


Ask others who they use and if they would recommend them. Ask questions about the service based on what you are looking for – communication, response times, range of services, experience, price.

Qualifications and experience

Quite often, business owners will leave their bookkeeping to a spouse, relative or friend –but it’s really a job for a professional, who has training, qualifications, experience and updates their skills and knowledge.

What you need

Bookkeepers differ in what they offer – some will simply settle your books every month, quarter and year, whilst others, like Cain & Co, will work with you on the business development and future financial planning side too.

Accountant v Bookkeeper

You may only speak to your accountant once a year to finalise your returns. If your business is making a loss or has financial issues, you might not know the scale of it for a whole year whereas a bookkeeper will spot it as it’s happening, so you can take action to avoid a longer-term problem affecting your business.

Bookkeeping done badly can be expensive, time-consuming and worrying to put right. Make the right decision carefully at the start for it to be a brilliant business asset

For further information visit Cain & Co at:

GeoBrand celebrates its 15th anniversary

their clients with the best possible service.

In their studio, they adhere every day to the ethos of “Never Settle for Ordinary”. They are always pushing boundaries, going above and beyond what is expected, and striving for unique creative excellence. As they approach their 15th year in business, they are looking ahead to the future of branding and how GeoBrand can play a pivotal role in shaping it.

GeoBrand is a brand and creative communications agency based in Kent and London. They specialise in complete brand revolutions— from developing new identities to creating bespoke WordPress websites and showcasing clients’ products or services.

Their team of experienced designers, developers, and strategists have worked with a wide range of clients, including charities, small businesses, and large corporations. They are passionate about helping businesses succeed and are committed to providing

If you’re seeking a unique blend of creativity, technical skill, and strategic thinking, look no further. GeoBrand is not only about meeting expectations but also exceeding them, turning your vision into a remarkable reality.

For further information visit

18 Thinking Business Members News

Furley Page appoints newly qualified solicitors

Furley Page has welcomed newly qualified solicitors Sam Perry and Tom Swann to its ranks, following their completion of the firm’s highly respected trainee solicitor programme.

Sam Perry graduated from the University of Warwick in 2018 with a first-class law degree and joined Furley Page in 2020. He joins the firm’s highly regarded Vulnerable Client team, working with Partner Nicola August, the only lawyer in East Kent and Medway to be appointed Approved Panel Deputy of the Court of Protection. Sam specialises in advising elderly and vulnerable clients and their families on a wide range of legal matters.

Tom Swann gained a distinction in his law Masters at the University of Kent and joined Furley Page in 2019 after securing a training contract with the firm. Based at the firm’s Canterbury office, Tom has gained experience through involvement with a wide variety of commercial disputes from commencement up to trial.

Tom joins the firm’s renowned Dispute Resolution team, which



MegaGrowth 50 ranks the fifty fastest-growing businesses in Kent.

Now in its 20th year, this prestigious league table is brought to you by accountants Kreston Reeves and law firm Brachers, in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

is recommended by independent legal guides The Legal 500 and Chambers UK for its expertise.

Jeremy Licence, Managing Partner and Training Principal at Furley Page said: “Our highly regarded solicitor training programme is essential to attracting, developing and retaining the next generation of lawyers.

“Sam and Tom have both gained significant client experience and exposure to real world legal matters during their training, and consistently demonstrated their commitment to improving their knowledge and building their expertise, taking advantage of the many opportunities to learn and grow during the programme.

“Having previously spent time working with their respective teams, I know Sam and Tom have already made valuable contributions to the firm and I am confident they will continue to deliver an excellent service to our clients.”

For more information about Furley Page visit

Rankings are typically based on four years of turnover results, taken from full accounts registered at Companies House.

However, businesses with four years’ notable turnover growth that do not register full accounts at Companies House need to apply to be recognised by the ranking.

Apply now at:

Deadline: Friday 3 November 2023

Thinking Business 19
Members News
(L-R) Tom Swann and Sam Perry
20 Thinking Business Tel: 01233 630000 Tax planning Profit improvement strategies Business development advice Inheritance tax advice Succession planning Payroll Working WITH YOU, not just FOR YOU Thinking Business quarter page advert.indd 1 25/01/2022 11:16:38 Solar Together Kent Register today for free at Scan here to get started Are you thinking about getting solar panels, but not sure where to start? Get in touch today 07748 631100 Use your Chamber membership for marketing Izzy PR can help you to reach Chamber members with: • Member News: 250-word story in Thinking Business (£100) • Member Blog: Published on the Chamber website (£100) • Directory listing: Chamber website – to make sure you can be found (£45) • Member 2 Member offer: An advert for the Chamber website to share an exclusive member offer (£125) Full package - everything above £300

Major Skills Improvement Plan approved

Kent & Medway’s Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 (LSIP), the employer-focused skills initiative, has been approved by The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education.

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce acted as the Government’s designated Employer Representative Body and lead on the plan, which is designed to address skills needs and shortages and will enable further collaborative working and joint initiatives.

The Chamber worked closely with a range of employers, sector and trade groups, and other stakeholders to bring together the key elements of the region’s short- and long-term skills needs.

The announcement follows the work of the Chamber after it was appointed last year by the government to be one of eight national trailblazers designed to influence the local skills agenda in partnership with the county’s Further Education colleges. It also builds on the work of the Kent & Medway Employment Taskforce and other regional skills analysis.

The leaders of the local Further Education colleges, Graham Razey, OBE, David Gleed and Simon Cook,also back the new LSIP.

Simon Cook, Chair of Kent Further Education and Principal of MidKent College said: “The LSIP has strengthened the collaboration between the three Kent and Medway Further Education colleges, giving us a sharper focus on the skills priorities of businesses, which is good for our students and good for local firms.”

Jo James OBE, Chief Executive of the Chamber added: “Ensuring the needs of Kent and Medway businesses are at the heart of the skills conversation is vital. This plan strengthens collaboration between education providers and employers.

“By listening to the needs of business, we can take a proactive approach with providers and stakeholders to address the day-to-day skills challenges and make a meaningful difference to the future prosperity of the region.”

The Chamber will lead the plan over the next two years, driving initiatives with the support of strategic partners across the region, including independent training providers through KATO, Higher Education institutions, the National Career Service (CXK) and the Careers Hub (The Education People) as well as the local and regional authorities and Further Education providers.

Jo James added: “LSIPs have been developed as a valuable tool for improving the skills system in England, with Kent and Medway at the forefront. By working together, employers, training providers, and other stakeholders can ensure the workforce has the skills the region needs to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

Further information and updates as well as the full Kent & Medway Local Skills Improvement Plan can be found here:

Thinking Business 21
Detailed plans that will improve the skills of the Kent and Medway workforce have been given the Ministerial vote of confidence.

RETURN TO LEARN: How East Kent Colleges Group is supporting Adults returning to education

Whether you’re looking to gain a new skill, retrain in a different industry, or update your knowledge and qualifications, the decision to return to education as an adult can be

As leading specialists in education and training, East Kent Colleges Group has a proven track-record of supporting thousands of adult learners each year across its family of six Colleges and nine community-based Training Centres in East Kent.

Flexible learning to suit your life

Designed to fit around busy lives, East Kent Colleges Group offers a wide range of flexible, part time, evening, and weekend courses for adult learners.

From short programmes in Baking, Ceramics, Horticulture, and Beauty, to accredited qualifications in Plumbing, Engineering, Early Years, and Accountancy, the Group’s comprehensive portfolio of hundreds of courses includes something for everyone.

You can explore the Group’s full range of adult courses online:

‘Outstanding’ educational experience

Recently graded Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ in all categories including ‘Adult Learning Programmes’, East Kent Colleges Group offers a superb educational experience.

Each course is delivered by expert Tutors with years of experience in their industries and is taught in the Group’s state-of-the-art facilities.

As an East Kent Colleges Group student, you will also have access to dedicated academic and pastoral support, alongside impartial careers advice and guidance.

Life-changing qualifications

Achieving a qualification can provide an excellent gateway to fulfilling your ambitions. Whether that’s passing GCSE English or Maths to enhance your

career prospects, completing an Access to Higher Education course to help you gain entry to University, or gaining certification in a subject of interest.

Studying can boost your confidence, as well as your skills and experience, empowering you to take the next step in your journey.

Opportunity to meet like-minded people

Whether it’s for a few days, weeks, months, or a year, studying an adult course offers an opportunity to socialise and meet like-minded people.

You will be studying alongside other adults with similar interests, helping you to expand both your personal and professional network.

Support to find the course that’s right for you

East Kent Colleges Group’s friendly teams are committed to helping you find the course that’s right for you.

Open events across the Group’s Colleges and Training Centres give you the opportunity to explore the wide range of study options available to you, speak to the Group’s expert Tutors, and receive personalised information, advice, and guidance on your next steps.

To explore upcoming Open Day dates, and to register your attendance, visit

To learn more about adult learning at East Kent Colleges Group, visit

22 Thinking Business

Go Further with Adult Learning

Discover our range of flexible, parttime, and evening courses for adult learners.

Explore your options:

42CareerPathways LocationsacrossEastKent
Talis Independent Financial Advisers operate throughout the South of England, supported by the head office team in Ashford. We offer impartial advice to businesses and private clients. Our experienced team of advisers can help with pensions, investments, estate planning, life assurance, mortgages, equity release and much more. 01233 722999 @talisifa

Later Life Planning... where to start

In many respects, financial planning in ‘later life’ is no different to other life stages – think about what you want to achieve (your goals and aspirations), then consider what financial resources you have at your disposal to make it happen. Mitigate any risks that might derail your plans along the way and make sure that you’re doing all of this in the most tax-efficient way possible! Simple, right?

Well, yes and no. If you’re reading this publication, you already know that a multitude of external factors will influence your decisionmaking let alone the action you take as a result. In later life, there are two specific factors that we will address in this article. First, increasing age inevitably means more help which can look like a stay in a care home, and second, the distribution of assets that we leave behind starts to feel much more real to us and our loved ones.

In truth, none of us knows when our time on this planet is up. The risk of accident or ill health could affect any of us. However, the longer we live, the greater the reality that it won’t be forever. Ironically the two factors mentioned above actually compete for our attention; greater wealth means you can afford to pay for the help you might require which in turn can mean a smaller legacy to leave behind.

Each of us feels differently about leaving wealth to future generations with the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett famously declaring that most of their fortunes will be left to charitable foundations. We also attach sentimental value to certain assets, elevating the family home above cash in the bank, for example.

So first and foremost, it can be really helpful to get clear in your own mind if you’re up for ‘spending the kids’ inheritance’ (ski-ing!) or preserving wealth by whatever means necessary. In either case, don’t delay –book the flight and take the holiday, or start transferring assets that you can reasonably afford to live without right away.

Care-fees planning

The cost of care in later life can certainly be eye-watering and successive governments have repeatedly failed to get to grips with the implications of an ageing society. Right now, there is a tug of war between the NHS,

local authorities and private care providers that many of us have experienced firsthand. There is a growing trend of buying in-home care for as long as possible which can be an attractive option. You still have all the costs of running your own home, but the additional cost of care is modest compared to moving into a facility that charges for the accommodation as well as the care.

Under current legislation, you are responsible for the cost of care until your assets are depleted to just £23,250. If you own a house in the Southeast, the value of other assets is probably irrelevant. The local authority will also take account of your income so if you are fortunate enough to have a very large pension, you may find yourself ineligible for much support at all. At the point care is required, there are two distinct options – simply fund the cost from your income and capital or secure an insurance policy (known as an annuity) to offset the risk of running out of money.

The average stay in a care home is around two years so buying an annuity from an insurance company often represents very good value for money especially if it is index-linked to take account of rising fees in the future.

The great wealth transfer

It is estimated that over £5tn (five trillion pounds!) will flow from baby boomers to younger generations over the next three decades. Undoubtedly much of this wealth is held in houses, but pensions and investment portfolios can be worth just as much or more.

Inheritance tax (IHT) is famously described as an optional tax because there are so many ways to mitigate against it. Of course, if it was that simple the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) wouldn’t be predicting IHT receipts of £7bn in 2023/24 and £8bn by 2027/28. One of the reasons for this is that many people defer decision-making until it is too late or fail to understand the rules in sufficient detail, perhaps thinking that no action is required.

Given that most estates don’t pay IHT, it is perhaps more important to consider how your assets are distributed and ensure that they go to the people you want to benefit. With an increase in ‘blended families’ and a persistently high divorce rate, it is easy to imagine that your hard-earned wealth might be shared more widely than you had anticipated.

In short, as we approach ‘later life’ it is essential to strike the right balance between using your wealth to enjoy your final years, and protecting any surplus for those you care about most. Ignoring these issues can be costly, but talking to a suitably qualified professional will help you prepare with confidence.

To find out more about how Talis IFA could assist with later life planning or any other financial advice please get in touch on 01233 722999 or visit

Thinking Business 25 Cover Feature | Later Life Planning

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

Traditionally, when it comes to estate planning and writing your Will, most of us tend to only consider our tangible assets, such as our home or the bank accounts that we hold. There is often very little thought given to digital assets.

However, as digital assets are becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives, it is important that we account for them to ensure that those dealing with our estates are not met with administrative difficulties or disappointment.

What are digital assets?

Whilst not legally defined under English law, the term broadly covers anything personal to you that only exists in digital form. Digital assets are not limited to things with monetary value, such as cryptocurrency or NonFungible Tokens (NFTs), they can be things with sentimental value, such as photographs and videos, or social media content. Other examples of digital assets include:

• Online investments;

• E-commerce accounts

(i.e. eBay, Amazon, PayPal);

• Digital media files;

• Emails and other digital communications; and

• Cloud storage.

What Issues might your relatives face?

With the most expensive NFT sale coming in at approximately $91 million, you may be wondering - who owns your digital assets and account, and what happens to them following your death?

Whilst physical assets, including electrical devices, can normally be passed on under a Will, it has proven difficult for relatives and executors to access digital assets due to data protection laws. Even if your executors are aware of all of them, without access to accounts or passwords, you run the risk of losing these assets entirely. In addition to any potential financial loss, it can have a deep

emotional impact, for example, if people are unable to retrieve photos and memories from a loved one’s phone.

When it comes to your social accounts, generally speaking, the terms and conditions of the service providers (such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon) mean that any digital accounts you create, or content that you download, are not owned by you. Instead, they provide you with a licence to use the platform, and often, the terms would state that the service terminates on the death of the user.

Ultimately, therefore, it will be the service providers who determine whether you are able to transfer your digital assets on death.

26 Thinking Business Cover Feature | Later Life Planning

Many service providers will prohibit your executors from accessing your accounts. However, some have post-death policies in place, for example, Facebook allows users to set up a legacy contact to memorialise the account, or request for the account to be deleted.

What should you do to reduce the risk of losing your digital assets?

Digital assets are still assets, so, when you make a Will, it can be helpful to include instructions on how to access them on your death and who you would like them to pass to.

Additionally, it is advisable to create an inventory of all your digital assets and accounts which will help your executors identify what assets you have and be able to obtain a valuation for them.

It is important to keep the inventory up to date and ensure that it is stored in a safe place, where the data is secure, but your executors can access it. You may wish, for example, to keep it with your Will.

Due to the difficulties that your executors can face when trying to access your online content, it would also be practical to back up your digital assets, for example, by storing photos and videos on an external hard drive.

Whether your digital assets have financial value or sentimental significance, with the development of digital assets in Wills, it would be appropriate to take legal advice on how best to protect these assets.

If you would like advice on estate planning and how to protect your digital assets, our experts in the Private Client team at Knights are happy to help. 01293 603615

Thinking Business 27 Cover Feature | Later Life Planning
It is important to keep the inventory up to date and ensure that it is stored in a safe place, where the data is secure, but your executors can access it. You may wish, for example, to keep it with your Will.
28 Thinking Business

Do the directors of your business have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint someone to make certain decisions on your behalf regarding your finances, health and welfare.


• It can help to prompt a discussion with your family or others about your future wishes.

• It ensures that the person whom you want to make the decisions for you, (the attorney) will be able to do so in the future.

• It prevents disagreements and perhaps someone you may not fully trust from having any power over decisions made on your behalf.

• It is reassuring to know that someone can make decisions for you if you are unable to.

• Helps ensure business continuity.

Anyone over the age of 18 can make an LPA as long as they have the mental capacity to do so, which is why it’s important to make an LPA ahead of you ever needing it. There are two different types of LPA, a property and financial LPA and a health and care LPA. You can choose different people to be your attorney for each and you can choose to make one or both different types of LPA depending on your likely future needs.

LPA’s are important and with our busy lives, they are often overlooked. Spending a little time now is worthwhile to plan for your future and to give you great peace of mind to know that your future wishes are going to be carried out as you would like.

For more information about LPA’s contact Alex Astley, Partner, Gullands Solicitors

Thinking Business 29
We don’t know what life will throw at us, so have you considered who should make decisions on your behalf if you were no-longer able to make them for yourself through accident, illness or age-related issues. Gullands Solicitors For all your family, personal and business legal requirements. 16 Mill Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 6XT Tel: 01622 689700 ∣ Whitehall Place, 47 The Terrace, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 2DL Tel: 01474 887688 N937 Gullands Thinking Business Ad 23_v2.indd 1 13/09/2023 2:47 pm Cover Feature | Later Life Planning

Estate planning for business owners

Unquoted shares in a trading business can enjoy up to 100% relief from Inheritance Tax if they qualify for Business Relief (BR). As such, it is important to review your will to make sure that valuable tax planning opportunities are considered.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)

Lifetime gifts, appropriately timed and structured, can form an important part of effective tax planning. The setting up of trusts could also be considered. Trusts can be complex, but can have many advantages, especially where business assets are involved.

Cross-option agreements

As business owners approach retirement, it is important to consider estate planning, especially if you are thinking of selling your business.

Here are some of the key things to consider: Ensure your will is up to date

A will is the most basic estate planning document that enables you to specify how your assets will be distributed on death.

An LPA enables you to appoint individuals to manage your financial affairs if you’re ever in a position where they are physically or mentally unable to do so. This is particularly important for those who run their own business.

A company director will automatically cease to be a director if they lack the physical or mental capacity to act in the role. However, where the director also holds shares in the business the attorney can potentially act on their behalf to secure the appointment of new directors, enabling the business to continue or be sold.

Lifetime gifts and trusts

BR cannot always be relied upon as a taxefficient means of passing capital to younger generations, especially where there is a strong probability that the business will be sold or liquidated before the present owners die.

Protecting wealth for generations

Families continuously rely on our legal advice and guidance to help them build and safeguard their assets. Whether

time to enjoy your wealth, or ensure that it’s protected for the next generation, our expert team will offer pragmatic advice to help you make informed decisions.

Many company articles and shareholder agreements, or partnership agreements contain pre-emption rights. This is the right for those continuing in the business to buy out the share of a deceased business owner. HMRC’s view is that if there is a cast iron obligation to turn a business interest into money, BR will not be available. The solution is a cross-option agreement, which contains a right to sell the business to those continuing (or the right for them to buy out a deceased’s share) which only becomes compulsory in nature when exercised.

Our experienced team of estate and tax planning lawyers have a wealth of experience in helping business owners to plan for the future. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

30 Thinking Business
our award-winning residential property & conveyancing, family, estates, tax & succession lawyers today. 01892 510000 @pragmaticlawyer
Cover Feature | Later Life

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Sittingbourne Training Firm’s Adult Learning Judged ‘Outstanding’

passionate about promoting social mobility by working closely with Jobcentre Plus, local prisons and charitiesto provide beneficial training and preparation for work.”

Mark Smith, Managing Director, Mainstream Training, said: “We are very proud of the training that we deliver and to have the quality of provision confirmed via a thorough Ofsted inspection is a fantastic endorsement for our whole team.

us one of the largest HGV training businesses in the UK.

“Whilst the fantastic Ofsted outcome and the continued success of our Bootcamp and military contracts is most welcome, this has been tainted and somewhat overshadowed by the unexpected and surprising news that the DfE has not renewed our Adult Education contract (AEB) which ended on 31st July.

Sittingbourne-based Mainstream Training Limited, which specialises in providing adult employability courses to alleviate the country’s HGV driver shortage, has received a first-class report following a recent Ofsted inspection.

The inspection – the first full inspection since 2017 – follows a significant expansion of the training that Mainstream delivers. The four-person inspection team found the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes and the adult learning programmes to be ‘outstanding’, while overall effectiveness was deemed to be ‘good’.

The Ofsted report, which can be found at https://reports.ofsted. states: “Leaders have a clear and ambitious vision: to support employers experiencing skills shortages in the transport, logistics and highways maintenance sectors. They work closely with government and the Ministry of Defence to support the national recruitment of HGV drivers.”

In the past 18 months, over 1,100 learners have gained HGV licences through Mainstream and there are currently 458 learners enrolled on the HGV skills bootcamp training. The report went on to say: “Leaders have high expectations for their learners and apprentices and are

“Our training provision has greatly expanded over recent years and we are providing the skills that the UK needs from learners who often face significant barriers to employment. Over 40% of our learners gain employment as a result of the training we deliver, and that is down to the dedication of our staff.

“Although our current contract with the Department for Education (DfE) is coming to its end shortly, this report demonstrates that Mainstream has a bright future as we continue to deliver highly valued employability skills training.

“The HGV Skills Bootcamp runs until March 2024 and we are hopeful of an extension for up to six years. In addition to the 1,000 plus learners who pass through our HGV Skills Bootcamp each year, we also deliver over 3,000 HGV licences for the British Armed Forces, making

Climate change clauses for construction contracts

The Construction Engineering sector scale and industrial character means that it has a huge environmental impact. According to one United Nations report, globally ‘the buildings and construction sector counts as 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018’.

The situation has not improved and the buildings and construction sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050. The key areas for tackling

climate change in the construction industry include the selection and use of materials; and the energy use of the completed building once it is occupied.

There is little solid information on the type of climate change obligation that is most commonly found in a construction contract. One exception is a case study published by The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP), which is the world’s largest network of law firms and lawyers working together to provide climate clauses for contracts.

In June 2023, TCLP published two new climate clauses for use in the construction industry:

• Tessa’s Clause (Sustainability Enterprise Delivery Measures within Construction Works Task Orders).

• Daniel’s Clause (Sustainability Key Performance Indicators in Construction Works Task Orders).

Each clause is drafted for use with the NEC4 suite of contracts. The guidance notes accompanying Tessa’s clause suggest that they

“Under this contract, we provided much-needed vocational forklift and road maintenance training to over 300 jobseekers within Swale, Kent and Medway each year, most of whom went on to secure employment. We have successfully operated this provision for over ten years, and it is with great sadness that we now need to make fourteen much-valued colleagues redundant.

What makes the news so surprising is that Ofsted was particularly impressed by the work we did with local jobseekers and the opportunities that our training provided to help our learners gain employment.”

Mainstream Training started trading in 1997 and has a team of over 120 which includes around 65 highly skilled instructors.

may lead to performance related incentive payments, whilst both sets of guidance notes envisage a contractual regime in which the client can engage third parties to fulfil unmet criteria and reclaim the costs of doing so from the contractor. However, neither clause includes drafting to implement such a regime.

For further information visit:

This article is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.

32 Thinking Business Members News

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Spotlight on Ashford

Ashford International Studios –Newtown Works

Plans are gathering pace to deliver an exciting film studios-led £250m regeneration project on the former Newtown Railway Works site in Ashford. This mixed-use development seeks to deliver TV and film studios with associated production spaces, a dedicated film school, residential units, commercial space and a hotel. Much of the enabling work has been achieved over the past year since the successful bid by Ashford Borough Council for £14.7m in Levelling Up Funding.

The TV and film studios at the derelict railway site will bring significant benefits to Ashford in terms of investment and job creation. The UK film and TV sector is growing. The British Film Institute forecasts the requirement for 10,000 new employees over the next five years, and Lambert Smith Hampton have forecast the need for 2.3m sq ft of new studio space over the next 15 years.

Ashford International Development Company (AIDC) has been working to secure interest from the film and TV industry for an operator, and have engaged with a number of leading studio operators.

They would work alongside the East Kent College Group facility to deliver the film school and develop training programmes to support the development of the local workforce, providing the talent required by the studio operator and the production companies renting the studio space.


The planning application for a revolutionary new factory continues to proceed through the process. It is envisaged this would deliver a £100m investment for the area and potential for up to 4,000 jobs for the Kent economy. The UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer announced last year that it had chosen Ashford as the company’s global HQ, following a national search with a pledge to work with universities and colleges to build local skills. The planning application details of how the

new factory will be constructed within a 100-acre floodplain, which will provide an opportunity to restore the wetland and promote walking and cycling for the community in this unique, natural setting in the heart of Ashford. The scheme would house a world class production facility and HQ, and by 2028, the company expects to employ over 1,500 staff. Once fully operational, the proposed development could result in around 4,000 jobs being supported locally, including supply chain jobs, jobs supported by the spending power of staff and the factory operation itself.

34 Thinking Business Spotlight on... | Ashford
CGI of Newtown Works. Credit Quinn Estates Brompton. Credit Hollaway Studio

Ashford College £10m expansion

The £10m extension of Ashford College is complete having started in 2022 following the takeover of the college by the EKC Group in 2020 and their successful bid for funding from the Government’s Post-16 Capacity Fund. Known as Phase 2, the new wing will house classrooms and laboratories for Business, Information Technology, and Engineering.

The new facilities create a renewed focus on these up-and-coming fields, and allows 250 more students each year to access the high quality education offered at Ashford College. The scheme includes an Engineering Hub, which will highlight the role engineering can play in creating solutions to climate change and promoting decarbonisation. The extension will be key in delivering the new T Level qualifications, which are equivalent to three A Levels and provide learners with work experience as part of their training. Requiring the latest equipment and technology, the courses will benefit from the new facilities offered by Phase 2’s completion.

Town Centre Reset

High streets up and down the country are facing challenges with the after-effects of the Covid pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, ongoing financial uncertainly, and the growing competition of online shopping.

The council understands the challenges that our town centre residents, businesses, users and community groups face. It is vital that we continue to invest in carefully thought-

through ideas and solutions to help bring about significant change, for the benefit of all. The Town Centre Reset – including the revitalisation of our High Street is a ‘Super 6’ project, and a key priority in our Corporate Plan 2022-24. It identifies a number of areas that require improvement and intervention, and these areas have had to be prioritised to focus available resources over the next few years.

Projects within the Town Centre Reset Action Plan include the delivery of Ashford UnFramed, a street art trail which took shape in the town centre in the spring, with many blank walls and building surfaces being transformed into high quality mural paintings. Artists included the world renowned and local resident Mr Doodle, the celebrated Alex Chinneck and Charley Peters as well as Ashford Snowdog artist Danielle Williamson and students from Ashford College.

To address the issue of vacant shops, the council launched a Town Centre Business Grant scheme in October 2023. The grants provide up to £10,000 for successful businesses or landlords to fit out and make improvements to empty premises in Ashford town centre.

Local Plan Review

The Council has begun reviewing its Local Plan which was adopted in 2019. The new Local Plan will seek to support commercial and employment developments on allocated sites. The council has issued a Call for Sites, to identify areas which could be considered for residential and commercial development as part of the new Plan.

Jasmin Vardimon Company and the Creative Quarter

The critically acclaimed dance company, which has been based in Ashford for the past ten years, has taken up full residency in JVHome on the Henwood Estate. It includes a 400 square metre production space with up to the minute audio, video equipment, lighting and computer imaging networks, a performance and audience space and technical gallery, alongside studio rehearsal spaces, offices and a cafe.

Eight years in the planning and part funded by a £3million National Lottery grant with other financing from Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council, JVHome also includes incubator and start-up spaces for emerging local creative companies and individuals. Community facilities include space for additional training courses delivered in partnership with KCC, a Pilates and yoga studio to house classes and a café for people to meet and socialise.

Jasmin Vardimon Company’s building is part of the regeneration of the formerly disused site on the Henwood Industrial Estate. Dubbed the Creative Enterprise Quarter the development will also become the home to other arts organisations in Kent in order to encourage connections and collaborations within a thriving arts community. One of the first of these is the leading music education charity Kent Music, which has moved from Maidstone to become Jasmin Vardimon’s Company’s neighbours. The project, which also includes 29 light industrial units, is spearheaded by Kent County Council along with Ashford Borough Council to the tune of £9.23m. Additional funding as made by a Growing Places Fund loan of £1.597million from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

Scale Up Ashford

Scale Up Ashford is a business programme, providing support for companies located in Ashford with the ambition and capacity to grow. It is currently looking for seven businesses to enrol in their upcoming business support programme which will provide:

3 Support from an experienced highly successfully growth coach

3 Unlimited access to a localised team of experts to help address and overcome the key barriers to growth

3 Grant funding application support to enable access to the appropriate local, regional and national government funding schemes

3 Exclusive membership to a network of like-minded business owners providing opportunity to share common challenges, best practices and collaboration opportunities

3 A unique platform to promote, showcase and celebrate business success

Scale Up Ashford is funded by the council as part of its continued commitment to developing the economic prosperity across the area. The programme is delivered by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

For more information visit

Thinking Business 35 Spotlight on... | Ashford
Ashford College extension. Credit Ashford Borough Council

Summer holidaymakers boost Port of Dover’s figures to pre-pandemic levels

During the summer holidays, the Port of Dover processed over two million passengers, 483,000 cars, 9,000 coaches and 237,000 freight vehicles. This equates to 2,390 miles of outbound traffic processed during the six-week period, a distance that stretches from Dover, to beyond Cairo, Egypt.

Dover is the country’s shortest sea crossing to France and has 130 daily ferry crossings. Despite the large-scale return to pre-pandemic tourist volumes, the average processing time at the border was 41 minutes during the peak hours (6am-2pm) and 23 minutes overall.

Extensive planning conducted alongside operational partners had factored in up to 2.5 hours of waiting time before border controls in the Port at the very busiest times, but this was only ever reached during one single hour on Saturday 29th July, the busiest day at the Port since before the pandemic. On this day, over 800 cars arrived at the Port per hour during peak hours, with 42,415 outbound passengers, 10,220 cars, 195 coaches and 2,454 freight vehicles passing outbound through the Port in total.

Port Chief Executive Doug Bannister said:

“The Port community is immensely proud of the huge planning that was undertaken to ensure a smooth transit for our passengers this summer, in the wake of the return to pre-pandemic numbers and under today’s border process regime. Dover’s plan for summer, delivered in collaboration with a wide range of operational partners, ultimately paid off to deliver a fantastic summer season, which will provide confidence for the nation that Dover remains the premier trade and travel gateway.

“It’s evident that public trust in ferry travel remains high. The time you arrive in Dover ahead of your ferry is comparable to arriving at the airport before your flight. However, once you clear all border checks within Dover, you can subsequently enjoy the comfortable crossing to France and simply drive off the ferry and to your onward destination at your arrival port – as well as skipping baggage reclaim queues.

“Also, the flexibility we offer here is second to none. If you miss your flight, you may be able to get another one at an additional cost and probably at a much later time – perhaps flying another day. If you unfortunately miss your ferry sailing, you will be accommodated on the next available crossing (which is usually within an hour) at no extra cost.”

Among many other measures, operational planning included the sharing of projected traffic arrivals for every hour of every day to assist with resource planning and traffic management and ensuring Port of Dover police resource at junctions throughout the town to keep the traffic flowing well and the town clear. An additional two coach processing positions were also installed, giving a capacity of seven coach processing positions (a 130% increase); providing Police aux Frontières with a maximum processing capacity of nine tourist lanes, seven coach lanes and two freight lanes at peak times. They also shared live travel information with passengers hour-by-hour on peak days.

36 Thinking Business International Trade
The Port of Dover has hailed the summer holiday traffic volumes a success after seeing pre-pandemic numbers of travellers.
Photo: Pixabay

Doug Bannister added: “Periods of increased dwell time were experienced during the busiest of days, which included some congestion surrounding the Port, both of which will serve as key focus areas for future planning. I would like to thank the Dover and wider Kent community for their patience during the very busiest of times, and of course, thank our passengers for their continued support of our services. We are committed to continually improving our performance to reduce the impact on our community and deliver the excellent customer service that is appropriate to being Britain’s premier port.”

Karen Baurdoux, Channel Passenger Director at DFDS, said: “We are delighted to have welcomed repeat and new customers onboard our Dover-Dunkerque and Dover-Calais routes over the summer. Our colleagues ashore and onboard have worked incredibly hard to help our customers get away on their holidays.

New border controls to protect UK against security threats and ensure smooth flow of goods

The Border Target Operating Model –published on 29th August 2023 – sets out security and biosecurity controls including bringing in controls on imports from the EU for the first time and using Brexit freedoms to simplify import controls on goods from across the world.

We are grateful for the ongoing good collaboration with our partners in the ports and look forward to continuing to work together on the learnings we have had from the summer.”

Louisa Bell, Passenger Managing Director at P&O Ferries, said: “We are proud to have played an integral role in facilitating this summer’s record passenger numbers and freight volume as the largest operator on the Dover-Calais route. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers across this route for years to come –supported by our new hybrid fusion-class ships P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberte.”

Nora Costello, Consumer Sales & Marketing Director at Irish Ferries, said: “We are delighted so many passengers this summer have benefited from Irish Ferries’ great value fares and enjoyed excellent service, getting their trip to France off to a great start.”

The controls are designed to keep the UK safe by defending against plant and animal diseases from abroad, protecting the vital agricultural industry and food supply chains, and assuring trade partners of the quality of UK exports. It will also protect against illegal imports including firearms and drugs. The Border Target Operating Model is designed to make smarter use of data and technology to ensure a more efficient trading experience for businesses. The Government says it will save businesses around £520 million per year compared to the original import model that would have been introduced in 2022.

William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses will be pleased with this clarity as they prepare for the challenging shift to a digital trade system. The focus must now be on delivering the Single Trade Window to the timescales set out. The new approach to digitalising borders for goods movements could bring real benefits to the SMEs we represent, to trade, and to the economy.

“The critical thing is preparedness. Businesses are making investment and supply chain decisions for the long term and need to be confident that the physical and digital infrastructure around the GB border is going to be in place on time.”

Thinking Business 37 International Trade
Thinking Business 37
Photo: Pixabay
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INNOVATION, PRECISION & TRADITION – Diamond Tooling solutions elevating production processes globally

in partnership with the customer by listening to their unique requirements and utilising the machining capabilities across 4.000 sqm of production halls as well as the skillset of its expert team to come up with the perfect tooling solution.

Not only does DK Holdings set the standard globally when it comes to Diamond Tooling solutions, it is also proud to have honed close ties to its community, such as the local football team, The Staplehurst Monarchs.

DK Holdings Limited is a specialist manufacturer and worldwide supplier of Diamond Tooling solutions and Precision Engineered Components, operating out of its state-of-the-art ISO-accredited production facilities in Kent since 1959.

The company has been working in partnership with its customers across industries such as automotive, aviation, infrastructure, and the renewable energy sector to name a few for over 60 years, offering both, off-the-shelf and bespoke Diamond Tooling solutions tailored to individual requirements.

So, what is the secret of DK’s success?

The company’s philosophy is simple, work

In recent years, the company has implemented a variety of measures to minimise its carbon footprint and continuously invests to reduce its environmental impact and in 2023 was awarded EcoVadis’ Silver Medal, after having been assessed and confirmed to be in the top 18% of companies undertaking the survey in 2022/23.

In 2024 DK Holdings is celebrating its 65th Anniversary and could not be prouder to achieve this milestone through the continuous support of its local community, global partners and of course fantastic networking opportunities and support by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce!

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

The Government’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme was established almost 50 years ago in 1975 to help UK-based companies innovate and grow. The fact that the programme is still going today, with approximately 750 live projects, is testament to its ongoing success.

The programme works by linking a business with a university and a recent graduate or postgraduate to complete an innovative project, embedding new knowledge into the business over a course of one to three years. The project is designed to deliver both short and long-term impacts, with benefits for all three partners. 99% of universities that have taken part in a KTP recommend the programme, and 90% of businesses report improved business performance; 86% have plans for further collaboration*. Further benefits to the business partner can include increased revenue, improved profits, competitive advantage and the possibility of creating Intellectual Property.

A KTP is part-funded by Innovate UK, with the remainder of the project cost met through a cash payment by the business partner. For Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), funding is 67% of the project cost, and for large companies,

50%. (75% rate for not-for-profit business of any size – subject to T&Cs). The business partner may be able to use research and development (R&D) tax relief to recoup some of these costs. The business contribution is comparable to employing a well-qualified graduate or postgraduate, but provides so much more:

• Expertise from at least two academics/experts in the field

• Input from a highly skilled Knowledge Transfer Adviser

• The graduate’s employment cost

• Project consumables

• Mentoring, training, and development

• Travel and subsistence

• Access to world class facilities of the university. Applications for a KTP can be submitted at any time – there are several ‘open’ calls per year. So....what are you waiting for?

*2022 figures

For two decades, Lavender Blue Media has been producing video content for the business community.

Over the years, they have had the privilege of partnering with countless businesses, charities, and public sector organisations, bringing their visions to life. From thousands of projects, their highlights include filming the Queen at the RBLI centenary, capturing Kent’s involvement in the 2012 Olympics and more recently, creating hand-drawn animations for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

They have witnessed how a well-crafted video can transform a brand’s image, engage audiences, and drive success. It’s this transformative power of video that fuels their passion and commitment every day.

They have embraced new technologies, stayed ahead of industry trends, and nurtured a team of creative minds in Kent who are not just skilled professionals, but true storytellers too.

When they first started, YouTube hadn’t even been invented. Content was delivered on VHS tape, CD Rom and DVD, and they were even known to take a heavy TV/VHS player to presentations! Now, clients request a wide range of digital formats, broadcasting to a global audience at the click of a button.

They extend their heartfelt thanks to all their clients, partners and the incredible team that has been the backbone of their business.

They’re excited by the opportunities that lie ahead and can’t wait to see what the future holds as they continue to create captivating content for their clients.

Thinking Business 39
Members News
Lavender Blue Media celebrates 20th anniversary
are they the Government’s best kept secret?
Thinking Business 41

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

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

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

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

Growth of Ashford – Economic Development Seminar

Growth of Ashford – Economic Development Seminar

1:30pm - 4:00pm | Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford | Friday 13th October 2023

1:30pm - 4:00pm | Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford | Friday 13th October 2023

Ashford Borough Council has a rich heritage but is also embracing growth with its ambitious plans for the future. Join us for an update on the key local developments as well as an update on new ventures coming to Ashford.

Ashford Borough Council has a rich heritage but is also embracing growth with its ambitious plans for the future. Join us for an update on the key local developments as well as an update on new ventures coming to Ashford.

The seminar will focus on key issues surrounding the growth and current developments in and around Ashford. How these will affect commercial life, illustrating how the council intends to unlock major opportunities, deliver new jobs, housing, retail, business and cultural facilities along with timescales.

The seminar will focus on key issues surrounding the growth and current developments in and around Ashford. How these will affect commercial life, illustrating how the council intends to unlock major opportunities, deliver new jobs, housing, retail, business and cultural facilities along with timescales.

Join us and hear from: Andrew Osborne from Ashford Borough Council; Damian Green MP; Jo James from Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce; Martin Sandall from Jenner Group and Peter Corr from McArthur Glen.

Join us and hear from: Andrew Osborne from Ashford Borough Council; Damian Green MP; Jo James from Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce; Martin Sandall from Jenner Group and Peter Corr from McArthur Glen.

42 Thinking Business

Chamber Connections

10:30am - 12:00pm

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

Chilston Park Hotel, Maidstone, Thursday 26th October 2023

(Sponsored by NFU Mutual Ashford, Tenterden & Whitfield)

Delta Hotels by Marriott Tudor Park, Maidstone, Thursday 2nd November 2023

Join others for our very popular Chamber Connections Networking event and receive a warm welcome from your Chamber representative on arrival, who will be on hand to help you meet new members of the business community. Any business, any size, we know and understand the pressures and ambitions your business has. Imagine what you could achieve being part of a local business community.

Kent Construction Focus Group

7:30am - 9:30am

KCFG Members: £22.50 + VAT, Non-Members: £32.50 + VAT

The Village Hotel, Maidstone, Tuesday 7th November 2023

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

The Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) is a one-stop-shop for local businesses to discuss the future of Kent development, giving companies access to local knowledge, expertise and contracts. During the morning you will enjoy a full English breakfast which will be followed by a presentation from our guest speakers.

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group

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

Holiday Inn, Sevenoaks, Wednesday 25th October 2023

Venue TBC, Wednesday 29th November 2023

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

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

Virtual Business Networking (Sponsored by Furley Page)

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

Free to Attend

Tuesday 10th October 2023 | Tuesday 24th October 2023

Tuesday 14th November 2023 | Tuesday 28th November 2023

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

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

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 10th October 2023 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Online via Zoom

Business Bites: Cash is King – Debt Collection

Thursday 12th October 2023 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm

Online via Zoom

Growth of Ashford: Economic Development Seminar

Friday 13th October 2023 | 1:30pm - 4:00pm

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford, TN24 0LH

International: Rules Of Origin And Preference In International Trade

Tuesday 17th October 2023 | 9:30am - 12:45pm

Online via Zoom

Business Talks:

Networking and Tour of the Curious Brewery

Thursday 19th October 2023 | 11:00am - 1:00pm

Curious Brewery, Ashford, TN23 7HQ

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 24th October 2023 10:30am - 12:00pm

Online via Zoom

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group (KMFG)

Wednesday 25th October 2023 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm

Holiday Inn, Sevenoaks, TN15 7RS

Chamber Connections Networking (Chilston Park Hotel)

Thursday 26th October 2023 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Chilston Park Hotel, Maidstone, ME17 2BE

Business Bites: Using Terms to Protect your Business

Tuesday 31st October 2023 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm

Online via Zoom

Chamber Connections Networking (Delta Hotels by Marriott Tudor Park)

Thursday 2nd November 2023 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Delta Hotels by Marriott Tudor Park, ME14 4NQ

Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG)

Tuesday 7th November 2023 | 7:30am - 9:30am

The Village Hotel, Forstal Road, Maidstone, ME14 3AQ

International: Introduction To Export Procedures And Documentation

Tuesday 7th November 2023 | 9:30am - 12:45pm

Online via Zoom

Business Bites: Customers Aren’t Just For Christmas

Thursday 9th November 2023 | 1:00pm - 1:30pm

Online via Zoom

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 14th November 2023 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Online via Zoom

Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2023

Thursday 23rd November 2023 | 5:00pm - 11:30pm

Westenhanger Castle, Hythe, CT21 4HX

Virtual Business Networking

Tuesday 28th November 2023 | 10:30am - 12:00pm

Online via Zoom

Kent And Medway Manufacturing Focus Group (KMFG) Site Visit

Wednesday 29th November 2023 | 10:00am - 12:00pm

International: INCOTERMS 2020 And Their Relationship With Duty And VAT

Thursday 30th November 2023 | 9:30am - 12:45pm

Online via Zoom

Thinking Business 43






The British Chambers of Commerce Business Awards is one of the showpiece events in the business calendar, recognising and promoting the best of British business through a series of regional rounds, culminating in a campaign to showcase the winning businesses on an international stage and amongst industry peers. The nominations made by the Kent Chamber of Commerce in June have been assessed by an independent panel at the British Chambers of Commerce and we are delighted and proud to announce that the following members of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce have been chosen as regional winners in the British Chambers of Commerce Business Awards 2023:

• Re-Generation Earth, a prominent sustainability advocate, secures the Planet Saver Award for their unwavering commitment to a greener and safer world.

British Chambers of Commerce, KENT WINNERS!

• Sleeping Giant Media, a workforce development pioneer, has won the Workforce Developer Award for their exceptional dedication to improving their team’s skills and boosting business performance.

• Gillingham Street Angels, named as winner of the Community Champion Award, stands as a community engagement leader, their exceptional efforts in supporting and participating in community initiatives highlight the significant impact of their contributions.

• Diversity House Ltd, pioneers in promoting inclusivity and diversity, have won the Equality Trailblazer Award for their steadfast commitment to diversity across their workforce, customers, and the wider community.

Congratulations to all the winners and we eagerly anticipate the national winners’ announcement on October 18th and then the Winner of Winners, unveiled on November 16th, during the closing ceremonies at the London Stock Exchange.

46 Thinking Business
BCC Awards

Battle of Britain charity launches Blade of Honour project in support of ‘the Many’

An ambitious tribute to ‘the Many’, those whose vital support role in 1940 helped the men of Fighter Command to victory in the Battle of Britain, is being launched by the Kent trust that honours the memory of the Few.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which cares for the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne, just outside Folkestone, is planning to lay memorial tiles along the edges of the three propeller blades that radiate out from the Memorial in memory of those who served.

The Trust’s ‘Blade of Honour’ project will invite members of the public to fund a tile in memory of anyone who played a part in the victory, from ground crew to members of the Royal Observer Corps or air raid wardens.

“From those who served as ground crew to those whose contributions were less obvious but equally valuable, such as in runway maintenance or repairing telephone lines, we are looking to mark the commitment of the thousands of people who contributed to

the success of ‘the Few’ in 1940,” said Trust Chairman Richard Hunting CBE.

“We don’t have a set list of organisations or professions that we feel qualify, but are instead inviting people to nominate the person they think should be commemorated –probably, but not necessarily, a relative – along with evidence that they played a part in this historic victory. They can be military or civilian, as long as they contributed.”

The tiles will cost a total of £495 each (inc VAT) and will have space for up to 60 inscribed letters, with additional letters available at an extra cost.

Those who are nominated need to have played an active support role in the Battle of Britain, which ran from 10 July to 31 October 1940, or one month either side of it. They may have served as

coastguards or firemen, for instance, or with the National Pigeon Service, the NAAFI or the GPO.

Critically, any surplus funds from the project, which will be formally launched on Battle of Britain Day, 15 September, will be used to support the charity, which receives no public funding and relies on supporters to continue its work.

“At this stage we are asking people to submit an expression of interest,” said Richard. “We won’t start the project until we have the 270 names we need to finish a complete blade, but given the many thousands of people who contributed to victory in 1940 and the esteem in which they are held, we are confident that we will soon reach our first target.

“If you have always wanted to remember the sacrifice or bravery of a grandparent or great-grandparent who did not qualify for the Battle of Britain Clasp but played a part in supporting those who did, please see www.battleofbritainmemorial. org/blade for more information and our expression of interest form.”

New care opens its doors to first new residents

In August, Lark View Care Home was delighted to officially open its doors and welcome in its first new residents.

The new luxury purposebuilt 64 bed care home in Cockering Road, Thanington, Canterbury will be offering residential, dementia, nursing and respite care for the elderly. Built and designed with its residents in mind the home will not only be offering the very best in person-centred care but also has fantastic facilities to offer its residents an unrivalled lifestyle. From luxury en-suite bedrooms to an array of dining rooms and lounges, hair salon, library lounge and cinema room and not forgetting the extensive gardens which

Your LinkedIn may be at risk from cybercriminals

Over the past few weeks, large numbers of LinkedIn users have reported being locked out of their accounts and many have reported full account hijacks and takeovers.

The implication is that there is an ongoing campaign by threat actors to obtain and take over a mass number of LinkedIn accounts.

Although LinkedIn hasn’t confirmed this, searches for terms like ‘LinkedIn account hacked’ surged by up to 5000% in the past week and complaints on various forums also highlight users’ frustration with LinkedIn’s lack of response.

Attackers seem to be targeting a range of LinkedIn accounts using leaked credentials or brute force attacks. The motive remains unclear, though some victims report ransom demands implying financial incentive.

While the type of accounts being targeted do not appear to be connected, the takeover attempts can lead to temporary lockouts.

Those with multi-factor authentication and strong passwords usually recover accounts after some time, but users without these security protocols may permanently lose access as criminals quickly change account emails, leaving legitimate owners locked out.

As previously mentioned, there is no confirmation from LinkedIn that a large-scale campaign is underway, but their silence, along with the surrounding circumstantial information suggests that now is not the time do nothing.

are a mecca for both garden enthusiasts and those looking to relax.

Spokesperson for Lark View Care Home said ‘We’re so delighted to have opened our doors and to start to welcome our residents to their new home and who are settling in very well. It was a fantastic occasion for all the team who have worked so hard to get us to this point and now we’re raring to go. We’re so fortunate to have been so warmly welcomed by our neighbours and local community and will be looking to maintain and develop these partnerships over time. The spokesperson further commented, ‘We appreciate looking for care for yourself

or a loved one can be a really difficult time and it can be a minefield of how to go about it. The team at Lark View are here to assist in anyway and would love to have the opportunity to show you around the home and to meet with you. Please do get in touch there is no obligation and we’ve always got the kettle on and fresh homemade cakes to be enjoyed, it’s the Lark View way!’

If you have a LinkedIn account, now is a good time to review your security settings, enable 2FA, and switch to a unique and long password. Go to your LinkedIn security settings page to find out more.

Secondly, users are encouraged to monitor their inbox for LinkedIn notifications that a new email address has been associated to their LinkedIn account, this is an indicator that a compromise is taking place. Also, if you have been hacked, make sure to report to LinkedIn and also to Action Fraud.

For more information visit:

Thinking Business 47
Business News

Welcome to our new members

ASP Health Ltd


01474 770180

Health Insurance that Protects you, your Family and your Business

Biffa Ltd


0800 601 601

Environmental Services

CMK/Changing Minds Kent CIC


07376 349679

Tackling Stigma and Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing


Tunbridge Wells

01892 506283

Business and Corporate Legal Services

Delamill Tutoring Ltd


07534 845335

Wellbeing Coaching and Training Solutions

Dretz Limited


07440 334470

Human Resources (Freelance)

Eurotunnel Services Ltd


01303 288716

Le Shuttle - Railway Shuttle Service



01732 749750

Credit Insurance Broker and Surety Bond Expert

Forge Lifts

Dartford 0207 097 8588

Tailored Maintenance for all Lift Equipment Types and Brands

Frasers of Egerton


01233 756122

An Award-Winning Hospitality

Eco Venue set on a Working Farm in the Heart of the Kent Countryside

Gardium Ltd

Maidstone 0333 034 1100

Providing SIA Training, Manned Guarding Services, Counter Terror Risk Assessments and CCTV Monitoring

GeoBrand Ltd

Maidstone 01622 412123

Brand and Creative Communications Agency

Grow and Scale

Folkestone 07837 530590

Working with Existing Small Businesses and Start-ups in Kent and beyond to Support with Growing and Scaling their Business Operations

ID & C Ltd

Tunbridge Wells 01892 548364

Production and distribution of ID cards, Lanyards, Ticketing

IT Desk (GWT Media Ltd)

Maidstone 0330 088 8058

Providing Support and Hardware Solutions IT


Ashford 01233 628648

Staffing and Recruitment

Josef Wealth Management Ltd

Canterbury 07824 636272

Financial Adviser - Servicing Personal and Business Clients

KGO Motor Group Ltd

Ashford 07701 052798

Used Car Sales

48 Thinking Business New Members

Enhance Protect Connect

Martin Whiskin Voiceover


07583 057324

Voice Over Artist

Matty’s Maintenance & Housing Kent Ltd

Rochester 07506 577068

Building Maintenance

Mindset & Performance


Isle of Sheppey

07495 922658

Mindset and Performance Coach

NOCN Group


0300 999 1177

Educational Charity whose core aims are to help Learners reach their Potential and Organisations Thrive

Payment Guru


07747 042810

Payment Consultancy and Broker


Canterbury 01227 760078

Kent’s Largest Charity for Homeless and Vulnerable People

Pure Nails


01634 671122

Sells Professional Gel Polish and Nail Tech Supplies


Hempstead 07889 940610

Wellbeing at Work/Massage Treatments/Therapy

SAK Electrical

Ashford 07925 850317

Electrical Engineers

Saxon Internet Solutions

Herne Bay 01227 630922

Internet Marketing for Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Warriors

SMC Ford (Gillingham)

Allen Motor Group


01634 472108

New and Used Commercial Vehicles

SMC Ford (Gravesend)

Allen Motor Group

Gravesend 01474 537537

New and Used Commercial Vehicles

Socialite Canterbury

Canterbury 01227 255250

Rooftop Restaurant and Bar

The Community Driving School

Herne Bay 07764 940967

Back to Work Training and Driving Courses to make People more Employable

The Credit Protection Association Ltd

London 0208 846 0000

Total Credit Management

The Goodstuff Group Ltd

Ashford 07944 680833

Marketing Agency

Whozoo Commercial Property Agents

Herne Bay 0333 200 8330

Experts in Commercial and Development Property

Willcreate Ltd

Tenterden 01233 820730

Integrated Marketing and Advertising Agency

Women In Business NetworkMaidstone & East Kent

Maidstone 07900 894540

Membership Organisation for Business Women who own SME Businesses, are Self-Employed or Work as Professional Service Providers for Small Businesses

Thinking Business 49 New Members

I started at MC Personnel as a Youth Trainee (now Apprentice) when I was 16, filing, making tea and receptionist duties. I quickly found my feet and passion, fast forward 23 years, 3 children (21, 15 and 8) to now, where I have recently been appointed as Director. Over the course of 2+ decades, I have experienced many highs and lows, however my passion for Recruitment and mentoring young Recruiters continues to drive me everyday. That and my sense of humour!

What was your first job and what was the pay packet?

I sold double glazing over the phone evenings and weekends when I was around 14. I think I got about £3 an hour.

What do you always carry with you to work? My mobile phone. I can work from anywhere if I have my emails and a signal. Also, my glasses as I am struggling to see these days!

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

Uncertainty in a lot of businesses means that people are more cautious about moving jobs and employers are holding on tightly to those they have. A bit of a stalemate.

If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you change to help business?

Making it easier for parents (particularly mothers) to return to work. We continue to miss out on talent due to the cost of childcare!

What can you see from your office window?

A jewellers- which is very tempting!

If you could do another job what would it be?

I went to a Performing Arts College, but as I got older, I have always thought I would be well suited to Midwifery. I am good under pressure!

As a businessperson, what are your three main qualities?

I am resilient, empathetic, and positive whilst level-headed in high pressured situations.

What was your biggest mistake in business?

When a young Consultant I missed out 20 numbers on a list of people, meaning the end hirer ended up with 20 less staff than they needed to pack Christmas gifts!

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

The right attitude makes all the difference. No one knows everything but a good attitude, wiliness, good timekeeping and attendance is a great place to start. Be investable.

Who do you most admire in business?

I admire a lot of people, there are several women in business I have been mentored by over the years and inspired me, I try paying this forward where possible.

Steve Booker to be appointed as the new chair of PASMA

Steve Booker, the Managing Director of Kentec Training Ltd, is poised to take on the Chair role at PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association) in November. This appointment comes in addition to his current roles as the Chair of the Ladder Association, PASMA and IPAF training committees.

As Steve takes on the position of Chair of PASMA, his commitment to fostering safer work practices and promoting excellence in training remains his sole focus. Steve’s multifaceted leadership across various safety committees accentuates his dedication to driving industry-wide change.

Under his guidance, Kentec Training Ltd, a third-generation family business founded 45 years ago, has flourished as a hub of innovation and expertise in workplace safety training. Steve’s proficiency in identifying industry trends and his emphasis on continuous learning have positioned Kentec Training as a paragon of quality training. This new role at PASMA allows him to extend his influence beyond his company and contribute to the betterment of the entire sector.

As Chair of the Ladder Association training committee, he has been a pivotal advocate for ladder safety, championing rigorous training protocols and best practices.

His involvement with the PASMA and IPAF training committees further underscores his comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in working at height.

His ability to navigate complex regulatory landscapes, coupled with his acumen for strategic planning and team building, makes him an ideal candidate to steer PASMA in the right direction. His leadership will undoubtedly bolster the association’s mission to enhance safety, provide valuable resources, and promote better practices within the access industry.

Furley Page strengthens Dispute Resolution team as workload increases

Legal 500. He acts on a wide range of commercial disputes including breach of contract, pursuing damages, dishonest appropriation of assets/ confidential rights, trust claims and the obtaining of disclosure of documents from third parties.

new skills and specialisms that will benefit our team. These high calibre appointments will ensure we can continue to provide our clients with expert advice and tailored solutions.”

Kent law firm Furley Page has announced the appointments of Partner Dan Sherlock and Associate Kelly Dickman to its dispute resolution team, which has seen rising demand for its services from businesses across the South East.

Dan Sherlock is an experienced dispute resolution and commercial litigation specialist who joins the firm as Partner. Dan started his legal career in London and has gone on to develop his practice in commercial law across a range of sectors, including logistics, leisure and hospitality, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, with an increasing focus on the construction sector.

A member of the Society of Construction Lawyers, Dan is recognised for his experience in construction law by the

Kelly Dickman qualified as a Solicitor in 2016 and joins the team as Associate. A specialist in commercial dispute resolution, Kelly advises clients across a wide range of matters, from inception through to settlement and trial, including commercial contracts, shareholder rights and remedies, director’s duties/liabilities, and partnership disputes. Kelly works closely with clients in a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, transport, construction, logistics, leisure and hospitality, healthcare and education.

George Crofton-Martin, Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution team at Furley Page, said: “I am delighted to welcome Kelly and Dan to the firm. Both are highly experienced lawyers who bring

Furley Page’s Dispute Resolution team is recommended by the Legal 500 and Chambers UK for its expertise in commercial dispute resolution. The team is comprised of three Partners, two Senior Associates, an Associate and a Solicitor, and can draw on the expertise of a Costs Lawyer and a CEDR Accredited Mediator.

Jeremy Licence, Managing Partner at Furley Page, said:

“We took the opportunity to recruit these talented lawyers as we face increasing demand for commercial dispute resolution services from businesses across the South East. This latest addition of a partner is in line with the firm’s ambition to develop our construction sector experience and Dan’s appointment will help meet demand in an expanding market.”

For more information, visit

50 Thinking Business 50 Thinking Business Movers and Shakers Last Word
Copy Deadline: News items for the December - January issue to be submitted by 10 November 2023
(L-R) Dan Sherlock (Partner), Kelly Dickman (Associate) and George Crofton-Martin (Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution)

Articles inside

Furley Page strengthens Dispute Resolution team as workload increases

pages 50-51

Steve Booker to be appointed as the new chair of PASMA

page 50

Your LinkedIn may be at risk from cybercriminals

page 47

Battle of Britain charity launches Blade of Honour project in support of ‘the Many’

page 47

British Chambers of Commerce, KENT WINNERS!

page 46

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

pages 39, 41-46

INNOVATION, PRECISION & TRADITION – Diamond Tooling solutions elevating production processes globally

page 39

Summer holidaymakers boost Port of Dover’s figures to pre-pandemic levels

pages 36-38

Spotlight on Ashford

pages 34-35

Climate change clauses for construction contracts

pages 32-33

Sittingbourne Training Firm’s Adult Learning Judged ‘Outstanding’

page 32

Protecting wealth for generations

pages 30-31

Estate planning for business owners

page 30

Do the directors of your business have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

page 29

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

pages 26-28

Later Life Planning... where to start

page 25

RETURN TO LEARN: How East Kent Colleges Group is supporting Adults returning to education

page 22

Major Skills Improvement Plan approved

page 21

Furley Page appoints newly qualified solicitors

pages 19-20

GeoBrand celebrates its 15th anniversary

page 18

How to find the right bookkeeper for your business

page 18

Exciting new partnership between Chamber members Opulence and Chilston Park Hotel

page 18

Recruitment firm’s focus on going the extra mile –and even have the wheels to get you there!

pages 16-17


page 15

FOUR WAYS a GDPR specialist can help HRs

page 15

5 Logo File Formats you should have (and Keep)

page 14

Brachers advises Element3 on its acquisition of Vision PLC

page 14

Former teacher-turnedpublisher Karen Stanley shares her passion for writing

page 14

Selling your products or services for Christmas?

page 13

Top tips on preventing e-bike fires from UK Electric Bike Centre

page 12

Horizon Europe brings new opportunities for Kent’s science community

page 12

Are you working on your CPD?

page 12

Towergate Launches New Business Insurance Hub in Tonbridge

page 11

Tougher EPC targets for commercial buildings

pages 9-11

Technology advances see AI become a dynamic partner – but nothing beats the human touch

page 8

MegaGrowth 50 returns to celebrate Kent’s fastestgrowing businesses

page 8


page 7

Let us help you face the future

page 6

Succession Planning

page 5

Message from the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce President, Richard M Lavender

page 4

Celebrating achievements

page 3
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