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Together, We’re Well Connected Quarterly Business Magazine

Winter 2020

The Big Interview COLONEL

NICK BEARD TD DL Chief Executive Reserve Forces’ and Cadet’s Association for Wales

British Chambers of Commerce Ac

c r e d it e d


WELCOME

Welcome to the Winter edition of our Quarterly Business magazine. With the introduction of further national lockdowns in both Wales and England since the previous edition of the Chamber’s Quarterly Business Magazine, it continues to be a challenging time for many businesses across the West Cheshire & North Wales region. The extension of the government’s furlough scheme into spring next year will give assurances to some businesses over the Winter, but many will understandably still wish for the government to give a clearer view of the road ahead. Government must set out longer-term measures over the next 12 months to give firms greater certainty and confidence to plan proactively, rather than to react to changes in support from week to week. On top of the challenges that coronavirus has posed, firms have also been preparing for the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31st December. A host of changes are ahead and we have been busy over the last few months offering preparation support to businesses with our partners Cheshire West & Chester Council. It is still not too late to prepare! To find out how we can help you ahead of the deadline, get in touch with our International Trade Team on 01244 669985 or email export@wcnwchamber.org.uk.

The Chamber continues to see strong engagement with members at our virtual meetings which take place once a week. These have been a real cornerstone for many throughout 2020 as restrictions continue to hamper our hopes of returning to face-to-face networking. We are eager to resume our usual schedule of events as soon as possible and, with the encouraging news of the development of Covid-19 vaccines, we are hopeful this will be sooner rather than later. As the year draws to an end, 2021 brings with it a significant milestone for the Chamber as we mark 100 years since the organisation was established. This is an incredible achievement and something that we are keen to celebrate with our members throughout the year. Be sure to keep an eye out for updates on our news and event channels as we have exciting plans that we would love for you to be a part of! On behalf of every one in the Chamber team, I want to thank you for your continued support over what has been one of the most challenging years for business. Without you, our members, we wouldn’t be able to provide our services and for this we are exceedingly grateful. We hope that you are able to spend time with your loved ones over the festive period and very much look forward to seeing you, whenever this may be, when we return in January 2021.

PLEASE NOTE: Some articles in this edition may have been written before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Article and image content therefore reflects this time lapse. Contact Matthew Hodgson Churchill House, Queen’s Park Campus, Queen’s Park Road, Chester CH4 7AD t: 01244 669988 e: info@wcnwchamber.org.uk w: www.wcnwchamber.org.uk

INSIDE: 13

ON BOARD WITH THE CHAMBER

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INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Publisher Benham Publishing Limited Suite 5 & 6, Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ t: 0151 236 4141 f: 0151 236 0440 e: admin@benhampublishing.com w: www.benhampublishing.com

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Published December 2020 © Benham Publishing Media no. 1750

Chief Executive

Advertising and Features Karen Hall t: 0151 236 4141 e: karen@benhampublishing.com Design Peter Wilkinson t: 0151 236 4141 e: peter@benhampublishing.com

YOUNG CHAMBER

THE BIG INTERVIEW Reserve Forces’ and Cadet’s Association for Wales

Disclaimer The magazine is mailed without charge to all Chamber members

and distributed to businesses in the region. All correspondence should be addressed to the Editor at West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed in publication are not necessarily those of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of the Editor. © 2020. 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.

MEMBERS NEWS

WHAT I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT @ChamberWCNW West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce /wcnwchamber WCNWChamber

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CHAMBER NEWS

Chamber Launches UK’s £2bn Kickstart Scheme into West Cheshire and North Wales West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is inviting local employers to sign up to be part of a landmark £2bn Kickstart Government scheme, giving thousands of unemployed young people in the region a future of opportunity through government funded job placements. Under the new scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in September as part of his Plan for Jobs, local employers can apply via the Chamber to offer a six-month placement to youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit with wages paid by the Government.

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West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is a Gateway for local employers, in both North Wales and West Cheshire, collating placement information for businesses who have 29 vacancies or less and submitting applications on their behalf. Chief Executive Officer at West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, Debbie Bryce, commented: “This scheme gives local young people a real step up, helping them to gain crucial work experience and skills to help get them started in work. The placements generated through this programme will give young people in Cheshire and North Wales the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.” The Government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job - paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the Government will also provide employers an allowance of £1500 to support set up costs and training for the Kickstart placements. Debbie added: “As a consequence of the uncertainty following lockdowns and the impacts of the pandemic, many businesses are not in the position to offer paid work experience and we welcome this government initiative, which could be a catalyst to transform the future of thousands of young people in our region.” Businesses can contact us via this enquiry form - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ WCNWKickstart or email enquiries to kickstart@wcnwchamber.org.uk. Businesses taking part do not need to be members of the Chamber of Commerce. For further information on business support, export and import advice, and training courses visit www.wcnwchamber.org.uk.

“This scheme gives local young people a real step up, helping them to gain crucial work experience and skills to help get them started in work. The placements generated through this programme will give young people in Cheshire and North Wales the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace.”


CHAMBER NEWS

Chamber pledges support to The Armed Forces by signing first-ever online Covenant in Wales

“This is a very significant signing and is, in fact, the first ‘Virtual’ Armed Forces Covenant signing in Wales to be undertaken.” Tony then introduced Colonel Nick Lock OBE, who officiated the ceremony. Before the signing, Colonel Nick gave attendees an insight into his 30-year service in the Armed Forces and also highlighted the military operations that have taken place across Wales to combat the Coronavirus outbreak. Following the presentation, Debbie, joined by Chamber Chairman Phill Jones, and Colonel Nick Lock then signed the Armed Forces Covenant. Debbie, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, said “We are delighted and proud to sign the pledge and receive the bronze award in recognition of our commitment to the scheme. As part of our commitment, we would encourage employers to support the scheme and hope we inspire our members to do the same.” “Signing the pledge brings a variety of positive outcomes to any organisation who wants to get involved, it enhances a workforce not only with skills but it also shows a commitment to the local community, and it gives something back to those who so bravely give their lives for our freedom and safety”.

In the week following armistice day, where the nation remembers those who lost their lives in service of their country, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce pledged its support to the Armed Forces by signing the Armed Forces Covenant. On 18th November, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, Debbie Bryce, signed the Covenant during the first-ever online signing ceremony in Wales. By signing the covenant, the Chamber has shown its commitment to treating those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, with respect and fairness. The event was attended by Colonel Nick Lock OBE, Deputy Commander Headquarters 160th, (Welsh) Brigade, who spoke about Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association (RFCA) For Wales and the importance of the Armed Forces Covenant. The Covenant represents a promise by the Nation that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. By becoming a Force’s friendly employer, businesses can benefit from the wide

range of unique skills and experiences that reservists and veterans, spouses and partners can bring to their organisation. Employing Armed Forces community members can help diversify the talent in business’ workforce. The Chamber signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging their support to the “Armed Forces Family” and strengthened their relationship with Strategic Partner RFCA For Wales. Tony Fish, Regional Employer Engagement Director (North Wales) at RFCA For Wales, spoke to attendees ahead of the covenant signing about its importance and highlighted the Employer Recognition Scheme in place for those that pledge to support the Armed Forces Family. “As Strategic Members of the Chamber, we are grateful for the support Debbie and her team have shown to the Covenant and the opportunity for us to promote this to other Chamber members, many of which are already Covenant signees.” said Tony.

Phill Jones, Chair of the Chamber, said upon the completion of the signing; “Today was a special occasion to witness the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant. As an RAF veteran myself, and with my recruitment background, it is important to honour the UK’s Armed forces and show our commitment to the armed forces personnel.” He continued, “Reservists and veterans have a host of skills to bring to the workplace, but sometimes, they need a little extra support or helping hand during the transition to the civilian career ladder. The covenant established how they should expect to be treated and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber are very proud to be involved.” Businesses and charitable organisations of all sizes can sign the covenant and show their support to the Armed Forces Family. Employers can benefit from the wide range of unique skills and experiences reservists, veterans, spouses and partners can bring to organisations. Find out more about the Armed Forces Covenant on their website www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk.

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CHAMBER NEWS

The Chamber is delighted to welcome Carol Vella as the latest addition to the Chamber Team Carol joins as Business Development & Stakeholder Manager; her role is very much targeted at adding value to Chamber Membership by scoping opportunities and building solid relationships with external partners. To some of you she will be a familiar face as she was formally actively supporting businesses in her role in Economic Development as part of the local authority’s Busines Growth Team. She has a proven track record of pro-active support for business and entrepreneurs; delivered in a collaborative way with key stakeholders supporting business growth underpinned by a creative and innovative approach.

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Carol brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team to further enhance the Chamber’s service. In her own words... ‘I’m from London originally as I think can be detected from my accent, but please don’t hold that against me! I always wanted a career in the creative industries and studied graphics and illustration at Chelsea School of Art long ago before computers were invented and letters were inked on wooden blocks! Much to my kids’ amazement this wasn’t actually that long ago!’ ‘I worked in the commercial sector, did a brief stint in field sales advertising for the local paper, before I secured a job in the Council’s then Museum Service. I spent several years designing interactive galleries, logos and branding for a range of clients and produced a host of temporary exhibitions, working with conservators and museum curators before re-organisation and redundancy nudged me towards a more partnership liaison and business development world.

I have worked for many years as part of the Council’s Business Growth Team, have a passion for supporting business startups and helping businesses to overcome obstacles to support their growth. I also hope, pivotally, to make connections with each other and highlight the support offer available to them. To use the old adage, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and I am always looking to learn more, plug the gap and make the connections and help businesses fulfil their potential. My creative background, I firmly believe, is an asset and helps me bring a different perspective and some imagination. It’s certainly an interesting time to start a new role. There’s clearly some uncertainty but the Chamber is a constant and from the networks and members I’ve spoken to, there is optimism and a feeling of solidarity that is the bedrock of the Chamber ‘family’ and it’s a privilege to be part of it!’


CHAMBER NEWS

Begbies Traynor become Patron Members of the Chamber The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce that Begbies Traynor have joined its renowned list of Patron Members. Founded in 1989, Begbies Traynor is an AIM-listed professional services consultancy delivering solutions for businesses, financial institutions and professional advisers in the areas of corporate recovery, restructuring and turnaround, corporate finance, forensic accounting, investigations and security risk. With ten offices across the North West, Begbies Traynor’s restructuring and insolvency specialists have considerable expertise working with businesses of all sizes, in a variety of sectors, and can demonstrate an impressive track record in reviewing and restructuring businesses.

The move sees Begbies Traynor form a strong and close partnership with the region’s leading business network that will enable them to raise awareness of their services and brand. “We are proud to be joining forces with the Chamber. The partnership will allow us to support them in providing West Cheshire and North Wales’ businesses, the best advice, direction and expertise to members on financial distress guidance, turnaround support, corporate rescue, and alternative growth opportunities” said Keith Tully, Managing Partner at Begbies Traynor.

As Patron Members, Begbies Traynor will also be supporting the Young Chamber programme as a Sponsor. The programme, aiming to bridge the gap between education and business, sees firms support a range of events, including mock interview days, workshops and career talks. Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, commented “By becoming Patron Members, Begbies Traynor have forged a strong partnership with the Chamber. The support they can offer businesses is invaluable and we very much look forward to working closely with the Begbies Traynor team going forward”.

n L to R: Jason Greenhalgh, Partner at Begbies Traynor, Keith Tully, Managing Partner at Begbies Traynor, and Debbie Bryce, CEO of WCNW Chamber of Commerce.

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CHAMBER NEWS

n L to R: Martin Morlidge, Deputy Director of Commercial Operations at the University, Debbie Bryce, CEO of the Chamber, Kurt Allman, Dean of the Faculty of Business & Management at the University and Kirstie Simpson, Associate Dean at the University.

Patron status consolidates University of Chester and Chamber relationship West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce are delighted that the University of Chester have joined as Patron members. This enhanced membership consolidates the established links between the University and the Chamber. Since 2017, the Chamber have been based in the University’s Business school in Chester and prior to that were original tenants in the Riverside Innovation Centre. Patron membership further builds on this relationship and the collaborative approach between the organisations; enabling development and supporting the future shape of the local business community. The University offers a significant contribution to the local business landscape, and Patron

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membership can only further compliment this. This is an opportunity to strengthen the bond further, working closely with organisations to support Chamber members and the wider business community. The University of Chester connects and supports over 1,500 organisations, working with industry on research, knowledge transfer, workforce development and curriculum design, so that students of today drive tomorrow’s business success. Professor Kurt Allman, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Chester, said: “Here at the University of Chester we are passionate about the region, and our vision is to be

really connected to the organisations that make up our dynamic regional economy. “Connectivity defines everything we do, it drives our research agenda and of course our teaching and learning, enabling students to explore the contemporary challenges that confront organisations. These approaches help to produce graduates with the skills and knowledge that are required by organisations, enabling them to make an immediate contribution to the businesses in which they work. “Moreover, the University, through its strength in research, enterprise and innovation and growing relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, enables our mutual endeavours of creating a more inclusive and sustainable economy to be realised.” Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, was thrilled to welcome the University of Chester as a Patron member, adding: “The University of Chester provides support to businesses across the region in many ways and they have been a valued member of the Chamber for many years. Their move to Patron membership is evidence of the strength of that collaboration and I very much look forward to see our partnership develop further.” To view the Chamber’s Patron members, please go to https://wcnwchamber.org.uk/ become-a-chamber-patron/


STRATEGIC MEMBERS NEWS

2020 a year of uncertainty

… and hope!

We have made sure businesses and the self-employed have been (and will be) applying and claiming for the most beneficial grants and loans. Between April and October 2020, we helped over 70 businesses claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme). We are fortunate enough to work in a sector which has enabled the team to work from home remotely during the lockdowns in England and Wales. We have been able to adapt and continue running the business throughout lockdown whilst still providing the same high level of service that our clients expect from us. It’s fair to say that 2020 will be remembered as a difficult year for us all and a time of great uncertainty in the world of business. The team here at Ellis & Co have been working hard to help, support and guide our clients through these difficult times.

Start-up recruitment businesses on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020 has presented a variety of challenges for UK businesses to contend with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And whilst a number of industries are still struggling to adapt to their ‘new normal’, the team at Chester based invoice finance and back office support company, Zodeq, has found that the recruitment industry does not appear to be one of them. In fact, data from industry body, the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), has revealed a sharp rise in the number of weekly job postings since the slump that the industry experienced during the UK’s lockdown back in March. Growth in the number of permanent placements is at its highest levels in the past two years, with temporary placements expanding at their quickest rate since late 2018.

In these uncertain times we have never been so connected to our clients, with telephone calls and Zoom meetings replacing face to face meetings. Due to the level of service we provide, we have also been very fortunate to gain new

What has been seen as a result of this growth, is an influx of recruiters leaving their current employment and starting up on their own. The rate of new recruitment businesses entering the industry has been growing year on year, with an estimated 8,500 recruitment companies established in 2019, more than double the figure from 2018. With further new businesses joining the industry predicted in the coming months, the Zodeq team is expecting the rate from 2019 to 2020 to have risen exponentially.

clients during this pandemic, with a number of those being new businesses, which is wonderful news for the economy. I’m pleased to say that a number of these new clients we have met via the Chamber’s online networking events. With no face to face networking allowed, these events have been so important for us and have enabled us to keep in touch with our contacts and local businesses, so huge thanks to the Chamber team for hosting them. We look forward in continuing to support these events. I have also presented at a number of Chamber Start-up Club events during the last few months, again seeing new businesses starting out during this current pandemic is very encouraging, and I wish them every success for the future. As we continue to help individuals and businesses in the region, we are still offering all members of the Chamber a free 30-minute consultation with one of our team, please contact the office if you would like to book a spot on 01244 343504. Remember, we are all in this together.

Managing Director at Zodeq, Paul Cooney, has said of this rise in start-ups: “The recruitment industry is currently thriving, despite the obstacles it has faced in recent months, and it’s great to see so many recruiters taking this significant step and starting up on their own. Our team have been eagerly supporting a number of these new businesses with initial capital, ongoing finance and back office administration to ensure they get off to the best possible start in these testing times. Despite the gloom of 2020, 2021 looks bright for recruiters throughout the UK.”


STRATEGIC MEMBERS NEWS

Tailoring your marketing communications to your audience In this ever-changing market, we are in; we know how important it is to understand key messages. God knows how many times, we have been told what we can and can’t do by the government and yet there are still some who will completely miss the key message. This leads to the question of how can we tailor a message that is understood by all and not questioned by many? The answer is simple - tailor the message, keep it clear, concise and straightforward. The more you leave it open, the more people will miss the point or misinterpret! Know your audience. Know what they care about. Know what they want to hear. And by knowing them, and focusing your message, you can show them that you are a great resource. If you truly engage with your audience, you will have a more significant impact. The problem? Knowing your audience takes time, and it’s always easier to do a brain dump of all of the things that you know or want to tell your audience about a topic. Thinking critically about what your audience wants or needs to hear is much more challenging.

engaged with what you’re telling them - no matter who or where they are. Key reminders for your business communications Here are some key reminders to ensure that your words achieve the impact they deserve - and win your audience’s full attention and engagement. 1. Know what your audience cares about Your audience won’t care about what you say until you have demonstrated that you care about them. As you plan your marketing communication, ask what the challenges and needs of your expected audience are. What are the three to four main questions or issues on their minds about your topic? 2. Map out your main points for your audience The businesses that stand out as great communicators are, those who are heard and have influence, they start by acknowledging the problem of the audience’s that they are helping to solve. Then, as they prepare their marketing message, they separate the must know from the nice to know. The key is to

focus on what’s most important to both you and the audience. 3. Tell stories and use examples or case studies that your audience can relate to. Much like an image, a story helps people tune in, understand and relate to you and your business. Our brains are wired to connect to stories and to remember them. So, cover fewer points better with many examples. 4. Show! Don’t just tell your audience! A picture is worth a thousand words in many instances. Videos are becoming the norm for effective communication. Infographics that make facts and figures stand out to help people to digest information quicker and most importantly get your key messages across! 5. Customise and tailor by truly understanding your audience Review your communications, check the readability of your content, did you get the tone right? Did you send it out at the right time? Did they open the message? Did they react the way hoped? Keep tailoring! You will know when you get it right because it will be reflected in the level of engagement. Claire Davies - Umbrella Marketing Team

You need to customise your message, cut through the noise, and keep your audience

MEMBERS NEWS

Grosvenor Insurance expands their team

Abi has spent the last 15 years in the charity sector and 11 of those in Chester, and was employed for the last 4 years as Corporate and Major Donor Manager at The Hospice of the Good Shepherd where she has gained experience in sales and marketing and built a wealth of contacts. Many business people are delighted to see Abi still working in Chester. “I am delighted to be working with Andy and the team at Grosvenor Insurance and putting all the skills I have learnt over the last 15 years to good use and helping the company grow but also helping the people of Chester to ensure they are properly insured. I have known Andy for nearly 13 years and delighted to be working for him” Abi Smith commented on her new position.

Grosvenor Insurance welcomes Abi Smith into the company as the new Sales and Marketing Manager. Grosvenor Insurance has had one of the busiest years since the company set up in 2009, despite difficulties in the commercial sector due to Covid-19. Grosvenor specialise in Commercial and Private Client Insurance and pride themselves in delivering a high-quality service. The company is looking at growing their portfolio of clients in the next 12 months, bringing over 40 years combine experience helping a spectrum of clients with their insurance needs.

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Grosvenor Insurance is a locally owned Insurance Company supporting Chester businesses across a broad market and insurance requirements. We are innovating and developing insurance products to meet our clients rapidly changeable business needs. Protecting against risks, real and cyber.

“We are excited to have Abi onboard at this critical time in the company’s growth and apply her skills to help grow the business in Chester, Wrexham and Wirral” Andy Piggott, Managing Director of Grosvenor Insurance.


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ON BOARD WITH THE CHAMBER Robert Ellis, Director of Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, has been the driving force behind the firm’s success, standing by his original business plan to make the practice ‘more than just accountants’.

n Robert Ellis, Director at Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers (image taken by Ginger Pixie Photography) An introduction to yourself and your background In 1989 I set out to build a firm that would support its clients, not only with a full range of accountancy services, but also offer commercial advice. Today, Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers is one of the leading firms of accountants and advisers in Chester and Wrexham. It was in London in the late 1980s, after ‘cutting my teeth’ with KMPG and BDO, that I decided to return to the North West and set up my own accountancy practice in Chester. The team work in close partnership with all clients and forge long term relationships, not just in the day to day things linked to accounting but also in providing a high level of support and advice, essential for growth and survival in today’s marketplace. By meeting clients regularly and learning about their businesses, Ellis & Co provides tailored advice which helps clients to grow while minimising their tax liabilities. In 2006, Robert opened a second office, this time across the border in North Wales in the town of Wrexham. The office, located on the Redwither Industrial Estate, allowed Robert to widen his ‘patch’ offering services to businesses and contacts in Wales. What is your role as a Board Director? I became a Board Director back in 2014, and my initial remit was to help bring

the board closer to its members through actively attending networking events. Soon after becoming a Board Director, I accepted a request to become treasurer, as the Chief Executive Officer wanted an external treasurer separate from the Chamber’s accountants. As treasurer, I review and approve the Chamber’s annual budget and the annual accounts filed at Companies House. In addition to being a Board Director, I am also on the executive committee, which implements the decisions taken by the Chief Executive Officer and the board. My role as a Director is to ensure that the Chamber’s finances are on a firm footing. I am very lucky that the Chamber has external accountants that provide monthly management information, and that Sarah Jones, who in addition to being a Board Member, performs an excellent role in looking after the Chamber’s finances. What are your aims over your tenure as a Board Director? The Chamber has grown significantly since I joined and its finances are secure. I am pleased its stature has grown even more in the local community, and is now a prominent voice representing businesses in Chester and North Wales to Westminster. I will continue do everything I can to enhance its reputation further.

What has been your greatest achievement so far? Ellis & Co celebrated 30 years in business last year and that was a big milestone for me, I am very lucky to have a great team. In that same year I received a Special Recognition Award during the Chamber’s Annual Ball & Recognition Awards for my contribution to the business community over the last 30 years. That was a very proud moment. If you could go back and pass on one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be? Try and get the work/life balance right. I am still working on it!

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BCC NEWS

BCC: More than a third of businesses attempted to recruit in Q3 2020, but business conditions remained weak Results from the British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Recruitment Outlook (QRO), in partnership with Totaljobs, found that the number of firms attempting to recruit in the third quarter had increased on the previous one, albeit from historic lows. The survey, carried out in August and September ahead of the resurgence of Coronavirus cases and the imposition of new, national restrictions, found that: n 37% of firms attempted to recruit in Q3, higher than the historic low in Q2 (25%) but still below pre-Covid levels (55% in Q1) n Businesses within the construction (48%) and transport/distribution (44%) sectors were among the most likely to recruit. Hotels and catering firms (30%) were the least likely to recruit n Looking ahead, 62% of firms expect no change to the size of their workforce in the coming three months, while fewer firms (19%) said they anticipate decreasing the size of their workforce, compared to 29% in Q2 The leading business organisation’s landmark survey, which serves as a barometer of the UK labour market, received 6,400 responses comprised predominantly of SMEs employing fewer than 250 employees, and is the largest of its kind in the UK. Fieldwork was carried out before the introduction of the Job Support Scheme and other interventions. The survey follows the BCC’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey, which found that business conditions remained weak in the third quarter, despite much of the economy reopening. Recruitment steadily improved compared to Q2 In Q3 2020, more firms attempted to recruit (37%) compared to Q2 (25%), which saw the lowest level of attempted recruitment in the history of the QRO.

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Looking ahead: n More firms (18%) expected the size of their workforce to increase over the next three months compared to Q2 (12%), but still down on the figure for Q1 (31%) n Around one fifth (19%) of firms expected their workforce to decrease, down from 29%, but still more than double the proportion in Q1 (8%) n 62% of firms expected no change to the size of their workforce in Q4, which was consistent with Q2 (59%) Attempted recruitment differed by firm size. Micro firms (with fewer than 10 employees) were less likely to attempt recruitment in Q3 (23%) than medium-sized firms (with between 50 and 249 employees) or larger firms (with more than 250 employees), which were 61% and 65%, respectively. Construction and logistics among the industries seeing growth in vacancies Overall, Totaljobs saw 69% more job advertisements on its website in Q3 compared to Q2, and a 27% month-on month increase in the number of jobs advertised in September compared to August. Following a sharp decline in the number of jobs advertised in late March and April, vacancies on Totaljobs’ website are now at 68% of the level they were before the pandemic struck.

Commenting on the results, BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Our results continue to highlight big shifts in the UK labour market as a result of the pandemic. Despite some gains compared to the historic plunge in recruitment in the Spring, we are still a long way from the healthy jobs market we saw prior to the Covid crisis. “Given the scale of the challenge, it is vital that business and government work together on re-training and re-skilling the UK workforce. Governments across the UK will have to make sustained investments in retraining schemes for people of all ages to help them stay in and progress in the job market. The Kickstart Scheme, where Chambers are already working hard to connect local employers with young people, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee are two pieces of a very big jigsaw. “The temporary extension of the Job Retention Scheme in line with a new national lockdown will bring short-term relief to many firms, although much more clarity is needed from the government to ensure businesses can plan and are not left to guess from one month to the next. Chambers of Commerce will continue to work with the Treasury to ensure that support is commensurate with restrictions and helps firms endure further periods of extended closure.”


CHAMBER EVENTS

2020 – A Year of Virtual Networking and Support Despite ongoing restrictions meaning that physical events have not been possible since March, the Chamber has been continuing its efforts to help members connect with each other and build strong and lasting business relationships. We set out from the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK to bring support to members through a series of weekly events. Initially, these events focused heavily on the latest coronavirus updates with experts available for members to talk to about the different support available to them. Once the shock of a national lockdown subsided, these events then naturally evolved into our Round the Screen Networking events. “The online Chamber events have been a welcome addition to my working week, not only to try to generate new connections and referrals for my business, but to talk to other business owners openly about the challenges of being self-employed in these strange times” explained Phil Neave, Owner of Neave Creative. Taking place every Wednesday, the aim of the Round the Screen Networking events has been to allow members to connect with each other virtually. The events give each attendee the opportunity to introduce themselves and their organisation to fellow members whilst raising awareness of any support they can offer at what has been a challenging time for many. Phil continued “Since the country went into lockdown earlier in the year, our biggest concern, aside from surviving as a business, was to survive the mental strain of being ‘locked-down’.” “The Chamber has maintained its friendly and welcoming approach whilst being in a virtual setting which has meant we have survived as a business but also as individuals, fighting to drive our lives forward in uncertain times. The ability to interact with others in similar circumstances has been vital to us maintaining a positive approach to life as we now know it.” Another member that has benefited from attending the Round the Screen Networking events is Suzy Couper, Owner of Sales Skills Accelerator, who said; “I met Abbie, Membership Executive at the Chamber, just before the national lockdown happened in

March and I was worried that it may not be a good time join as a Chamber member. I decided to give it a go despite not knowing if online networking was going to be an option.” “It turns out that it was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. The online meetings have been such a comfort. I have met the most incredible people, including my now chartered accountants, Ellis and Co, and NatWest, who I now have a business account with. I have received so much support from NatWest including a lifesaving Bounce Back loan. All this became possible through the Chamber events. These people are supportive, friendly and very professional.” An ever-present face at the Round the Screen Networking events has been the Chamber’s Membership Support Officer, Helen Pullin. Helen has been on hand to support members throughout the coronavirus outbreak and has been delighted at the reaction to the virtual events, commenting; “I have really enjoyed doing the Round the Screen Networking and hopefully keeping the members spirits up!”

“I think we have all pulled together and it has been great to see members making connections who may not have done so in normal circumstances, especially those that have been formed across the border, and to see the help people have given each other.” “I’d like to thank everyone who has attended, seeing the members each and every week has cheered me up and to be able to share our experiences over the months has been extremely valuable. A special thanks to our Strategic and Patron members who have also been to every meeting and must be fed up of seeing me now!” “We have had many inspirational people who have started their own business this year and have joined us at the Start-Up Club for Cheshire and North Wales which is great to see in such unusual times.” With restrictions on business events likely to continue into the new year, the Chamber has scheduled further Round the Screen Networking events throughout January and these are available to book onto via our website – www.wcnwchamber.org.uk. We hope to see you on the screen!

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PATRON NEWS

Supporting young people in Chester Hundreds of young people in Chester have been supported and engaged by an innovative summer programme delivered by Sanctuary Housing and Cheshire West and Chester Council. Sanctuary’s local neighbourhood team usually work with partners to deliver events and activities for children in Lache during the school summer holidays. But with Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines in place, they decided to run a ‘virtual’ programme this year. More than 400 families were supported during the four-week project, with each receiving a box of food, a box of fruit and a ‘larder box’ containing cupboard essentials. A variety of activity sessions were delivered online, with activity packs containing resources and equipment delivered to residents’ doorsteps each week. A Covidsafe holiday club delivered by sports and activity provider CEPD was also held at Lache Primary School for two hours, three days a week throughout the summer. The summer programme was delivered thanks to £24,500 of funding from the Department of Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme, distributed through community interest company Edsential. It was supported by partners including the police, libraries, community safety wardens,

Cheshire West Communities Together, Healthbox and local children’s centres, while generous donations of supplies were also received from retailers Tesco, Morrisons and Dunelm. Ria Burns, Sanctuary’s Neighbourhood Partnership Manager, said: “It’s been an unusual and challenging year for everyone and it’s more important than ever that communities stay connected and look out for one another. “While we haven’t been able to deliver the more traditional activities, the summer programme has still been a huge success, reaching more than 700 young people. It’s been lovely to hear such positive feedback and see children and families waiting in anticipation for their parcels each week.” Sharon Marshall, Lache Neighbourhood and Partnership Manager at Cheshire West and Chester Council commented: “This year has been slightly different for residents in Lache and I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make the summer something positive and fun for young people.

The fund aims to tackle health inequalities amongst four priority groups identified as significantly impacted by Covid-19: Lower socio-economic groups, black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. Insight suggests that Covid-19 is likely to have a significant impact on their ability to be physically active, which has the potential to further widen the gaps that already exist for these groups. They are likely to have higher mortality rates from Covid-19, which can create a culture of fear where people are choosing to stay indoors to keep safe. Additionally, there is a greater impact upon their financial status which can have a further impact on activity levels. The funding award means that Sanctuary can help local charitable partners who work with these priority groups to continue to exist and engage with their communities, with a view to keeping them active during both the lockdown and early recovery stages. The funding is available in six locations, including Chester, and has been gathering pace with applications from the target regions. Activities in approved projects include boxing and fitness sessions, health walks, Fitbit challenges and dance-based exercises.

“We have had lots of positive feedback from families and hope to use this to improve in the future.”

Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund Sanctuary has been awarded £150,000 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund.

Serving up free lunches at Blacon Adventure Playground More than 3,500 free packed lunches were served up for children visiting Blacon Adventure Playground during the school summer holidays. The lunches were delivered with additional funding from the Department of Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme as part of Avenue Services’ wider programme of support for Blacon residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 1,300 food parcels and £2,000 worth of clothing and school uniform vouchers have been distributed to local families, while furniture, bedding and essential supplies were provided to 10

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refugee families to help them set up home. Avenue Services also worked with partners including the Canal and River Trust and Rage Fitness to provide a safe, socially

distanced summer activity programme for young people in Blacon. Sandra Hewitt, Blacon Adventure Playground Manager, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to our fantastic team and all our partners for making it such a successful summer. “We’ve got lots more planned and will continue to support the health and wellbeing of our Blacon residents.” Blacon Adventure Playground remains open to the public, with reduced opening hours and extra measures in place to ensure the site remains a safe environment for all. For more information visit www.blaconadventureplayground.co.uk


PATRON NEWS

Begbies Traynor launches new rescue and recovery service for hospitality firms struck by lockdown measures Restrictions faced by businesses operating in the hospitality sector have prompted Begbies Traynor to launch a new rescue and recovery service targeted at the hospitality sector across Chester and North Wales. The service focuses on helping business owners tackle pressure from creditors, HMRC, existing lease arrangements and cashflow shortfalls. Research from Begbies Traynor reveals that more than 54,000 firms across the North West region are in significant financial distress with food and drink related businesses making up a significant number across Chester and North Wales. Its latest Red Flag Alert data, which monitors the financial health of hospitality firms across the region, reveals that hundreds of hospitality firms are teetering on the brink, despite targeted measures by the Government to support the sector. Begbies Traynor is now rolling out the support service to members of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce and offers a free initial consultation for company directors. Keith Tully, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “This year has presented huge challenges to the hospitality sector the scale of which has never been witnessed before across West Cheshire and North Wales and many business owners are facing acute financial distress and growing pressure.

to you – including at our office in Chester and we are also happy to do this via Zoom. “We guarantee 100% confidentiality to ensure privacy from employees during these unprecedented times. In many cases, we can provide this service on the same day we are contacted, subject to a specialist business rescue expert being available.” Malcolm Jones at Begbies Traynor adds: “As well as CVAs, refinancing and negotiating with creditors there is also an active market, despite the current pandemic, of investors seeking to acquire hospitality firms so directors can plan a successful exit route out of the situation through a merger or disposal. “We have already seen many businesses in the hospitality sector restructure their operations and finances and we expect to see more in the weeks and months ahead. Times are certainly challenging but hospitality businesses will have to be creative and bold to make changes now if they are to emerge stronger in a post-Covid climate. “The decisions that company directors in all business sectors take over the coming weeks will be critical to the survival of many firms across our region. In many cases company directors will need to restructure not only their finances but their operations and infrastructure to weather the climate in 2021.

“The window of opportunity business owners have to seek fresh options with creditors will shrink rapidly as we reach the end of the year so it essential that company directors seek professional advice from our team now.”

TEN MOST COMMON ISSUES FACED BY HOSPITALITY FIRMS IN WEST CHESHIRE & NORTH WALES WHERE BEGBIES TRAYNOR CAN ADVISE: n Creditor pressure n HMRC arrears n Cash flow shortfalls n Winding-up petitions n Statutory demands n Finance rejections n Overdrawn directors’ loans n Loss of key customers, clients and contracts n Landlord disputes and lease issues n Any commercial finance circumstance causing concern

“It is essential that company directors review their entire financial strategy to ensure they are in the best position to keep their business alive during this period. It is common for business owners to feel like they have no options left but that certainly isn’t the case. “Our pledge to company directors is simple; if you are worried about your businesses’ finances and surviving the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, contact us today as we are offering all Chamber members a free initial consultation at a location convenient

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PATRON NEWS

Chester’s inner ring-road is going clockwise Starting from 16 November, for approximately 12 months, there will be a clockwise one-way route for most of the inner ring road in order to allow for essential infrastructure works to install a new city centre drainage tunnel through Chester. After careful planning and consultation, including with the emergency services and bus operators; the Council’s highways team concluded the most efficient and practical solution would be to make the inner ring road primarily a twolane clockwise route to ensure traffic can be kept moving. This will create: n Northbound only route up Nicholas Street and St. Martins Way from the Grosvenor Roundabout to the Fountains Roundabout n Southwest bound only from The Bars past the Amphitheatre, along Vicar’s Lane, Pepper Street and Grosvenor Street. However, St. Oswald’s Way between Fountains Roundabout and The Bars will remain in twoway operation as normal.

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PATRON NEWS

Elite Group’s Innovators develop Covid-19 busting Workplace App Moreover, with many businesses embracing the hybrid working from home and office work model, it becomes even harder to monitor safe working stations as different staff can potentially attend site on different days, work in different areas and mix and interact with different colleagues each and every time they attend site. Whilst there is rightly a great focus on preventative measures such as social distancing, one-way systems, temperature checks and hand sanitisers, it’s just as important to be able to know which members of staff have attended site and when and which colleagues they have come into contact with. Elite Group’s software team has developed an innovative software App to help companies ensure that their staff can work both safely and securely when returning to the office, in accordance with Government’s Covid-19 guidelines. Where appropriate, businesses are welcoming staff back to the workplace and adopting various procedures in order to be compliant with the Government’s guidance, including adopting Own Desk Policies, using designated “safe” areas and even hot desking in order to keep everyone working as safely and confidently as possible. As well as tracking which staff and visitors have attended the office or site, companies need to ensure that there is an appropriate number of staff in any particular area, floor or building at any one time to ensure everyone’s safety and compliance with the rules at all times. Taking into account usage and cleaning procedures, ensuring work areas do not become potential contamination points can prove to be a challenge.

To help companies overcome the myriad of challenges, and allow people to feel confident about returning to work safely, Elite’s talented software team has developed a desk and meeting room booking system that is simple and effective to use. With a clear, graphical layout of buildings, floors and offices, users can quickly identify a safe and available area to work from on any given day. Desks, meeting rooms and other resources can be designated “Active” on certain days and “Inactive” to allow for critical fallowing and cleansing. If required, rules can be enabled to ensure that once a desk or room is booked it cannot be rebooked until a given period has elapsed, for example it can flag up that there must be 24 hours between bookings. Colleagues can safely work in the same area as each other by being able to see which surrounding desks are in use by their team members whilst ensuring social distancing and essential cleaning processes are followed.

and any shared equipment traditionally required for making bookings. James Dawson, Elite’s Head of Software Development said: “If a member of staff becomes Covid-symptomatic, we’ve made sure that using our App, employers and staff have a comprehensive report which shows all the bookings for that particular person. It also highlights the tiers of contact and proximity between the person and other people who they will have potentially had contact with i.e. they were in the same building, on the same floor, in the same area on the same day. Commenting on how well the App has been received by customers, Matt KingsleyWilliams, Elite’s Operations Director, added: “Anything we can do to help employers and staff overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19 and help keep everybody as safe, comfortable and productive as possible, we are delighted to be able to help with. “So far, the feedback has been fantastic and our customers who are using our system are even telling other companies about the benefits of using it.” This is just one example of how Elite Group can develop and deploy business-critical applications which are tailored to the specific needs of any organisation, enabling companies of all shapes and sizes to work smarter, more securely and more productively. To find out how we can help your business, get in touch… Call us on 0344 875 8880 Or visit our website: www.elitegroup.com

People can use Elite’s App on any web browser, including their own devices, eliminating the need for pens and paper

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PATRON NEWS

University of Chester offers range of business support programmes to speed up economic bounce back Introducing the Accelerate Programme The University of Chester, The Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub and The Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have launched a £30m training programme this year to support businesses to reskill and upskill their workforce. Partly funded by the European Social Fund, the Accelerate programme enables staff to undertake training across a wide range of subjects, to develop their digital and technical skills and adopt new technologies and business processes. The funding can be accessed by employees who live or work in Cheshire and Warrington. n Businesses employing more than 250 staff can access 40% funding through Accelerate to go towards the cost to retrain and upskill their workforce. n Employees of businesses with less than 250 people can access 100% funding towards the training available, which is made up of 40% funding from Accelerate and the remaining 60% from the LEP. This training benefits both individual members of staff and ultimately provides their business with a more dedicated workforce. Every business needs to be at the forefront of talent development to increase productivity and take advantage of new technologies and business practices to remain competitive. The Accelerate programme can offer a range of training programmes to meet the needs of businesses as they adapt in response to the COVID-19 crisis. To help employees and businesses access the training available, the programme has two dedicated skills brokers, who are focused on helping businesses reach their goals.

The Accelerate programme can specifically support employees who are furloughed to undertake training programmes whilst they are on the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, providing a critical backing for businesses at this time. The LEP is providing the match funding to employees of businesses with less than 250 employees, ensuring their employees can receive fully-funded support. The University matches the training needs of individuals to those who can meet them in areas ranging from digital technology and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas through to occupational safety and health (NEBOSH and IOSH) to leadership and management. Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of the Cheshire, and Warrington LEP said: “Cheshire and Warrington businesses have had to make some challenging decisions in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including furloughing employees, reimagining their business model or adapting their business practices. Accelerate has been launched to help businesses reskill and develop employees across the region, so that they are future ready, can maintain employee engagement and sharpen the company’s resilience and productivity. “We are also pleased to be able to provide additional funding to ensure some employees who live or work in Cheshire and Warrington can receive fully funded training and we believe this will ensure businesses are able to continue to adapt and grow so together we can develop a better future.” Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, added: “Universities are key drivers in reviving the economy as we weather the effects of

the pandemic. Accelerate aims to have a transformative effect on the culture of ongoing learning and development across Cheshire and Warrington. As lead partner of Accelerate, it is very much the University’s priority to be agile enough to anticipate, innovate and equip people with the tools they need for the jobs of tomorrow. “Skills development is a vital component in increasing the level and range of skills across workers and young people, increasing the adoption rate of new technologies and opening up career opportunities, so that residents benefit and businesses and the economy thrive.” To find out more about Accelerate, please visit the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub website at https://candwgrowthhub. co.uk/accelerate/ or contact the Skills Brokers at acceleratecandw@chester.ac.uk. The programme is one of many ways the University of Chester is working hand-inhand with businesses and wider partners to bolster the local economy, during the pandemic and beyond.

The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme In addition to Accelerate, the University is a delivery partner of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-funded Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme (BGP). The programme provides fullyfunded support to local SMEs and pre-start entrepreneurs in the form of workshops, masterclasses, bootcamps, one-to-one advice and peer-to-peer support. For further details email BGP_Team@chester.ac.uk or visit: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/businessgrowth/business-support-programmes. To find out about upcoming events, please visit: uocbgp.eventbrite.com. To support local businesses in the run-up to Christmas and at the end of a challenging year, the BGP has produced its first ever Christmas catalogue full of gifts, treats and vouchers available from the many local businesses registered on the programme. To browse the catalogue, go to: www.chester. ac.uk/christmascatalogue. The University of Chester’s Business Support and Advice Funded programmes and general business support and advice is available from the University’s dedicated ‘Business Growth Team’: For more information visit: https:// www1.chester.ac.uk/business-growth or email businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk


PATRON NEWS

How Cheshire College Apprentice continued to help friendships blossom during the Pandemic For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity.

Alicia Horridge, 24, Nantwich, studying a Level 2 Children and Young People’s Workforce Apprenticeship at Smarties Smartcare Ltd and Cheshire College – South & West, is one of many learners that continued to support children over past months.

“The resilience of key workers has been astonishing. Working in the early years sector and with young children during the pandemic has been a time of worry but ultimately it continues to remind me what a privilege it is. I really do love my job!”

Alicia commented: “This entire experience has been overwhelming. When I first walked into the nursery, I felt all kinds of emotions. However, after catching up with colleagues and all the children, I was amazed at how quickly I had forgotten about what was happening in the world around us.

Alicia plans to continue her successful journey in the Early Years sector later this year when she completes her Apprenticeship.

“It has been vital that children received care and education during what has been an extremely unsettling period for everyone. At Smarties we have been operating on a limited capacity, which has given us a rare and unique opportunity to provide greater support and attention, which has led to the children developing long lasting friendships – an essential part of their development.

Cheshire College supporting employers to recruit talented individuals Cheshire College – South & West are delighted to be helping provide individuals and employers with the skills needed over the long term and prevent skills shortages. The Government have officially launched its new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, which aims to create thousands of new jobs for young people. The Scheme provides funding to employers, allowing them to create new 6-month job placements for young people, allowing them to build their experience and move into sustained employment. Businesses of all sizes looking to develop quality jobs can apply and there is no cap on the number of places. Amongst other local businesses, the College is working in collaboration with Brunning and Price, offering young people a chance to explore opportunities within the Hospitality industry, whilst strengthening their employability. Helen Nellist, Deputy Principal and Deputy CEO, commented: “There are several fantastic developments happening across the vast array of industries and I am thrilled that the College is able to support the initiatives, ensuring new opportunities are available to everyone that lives and works in Cheshire.

Karen Roberts, Assistant Principal – Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement, commented: “Alicia is an exemplary learner, she embodies exactly what you need to work in the Early Years sector. “As a College, we get to see Apprentices rise to the top of their industries with leading organisations, thanks to the outstanding programmes we have available. “Alicia is compassionate and hardworking and should be extremely proud of her achievements.” To find out more about being an Apprentice visit ccsw.ac.uk, email apprenticeships@ccsw.ac.uk or call 01270 654654 / 01244 656555. If you are an employer interested in benefitting from an Apprentice, email employers@ccsw.ac.uk or call the employer hotline on 01244 656499. these placements could lead to permanent roles, with scope for additional qualifications or an apprenticeship outcome which we can raise awareness of via Kickstart employers.

“The College is extremely passionate about connecting businesses with talented individuals, allowing businesses to harness appropriate skills and support, allowing them to develop an agile workforce.

The College can also help employers secure up to £3,000 for each new apprentice hired between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021, following the Government’s increase in incentive payments.

“There are young people ready and waiting to secure employment and Cheshire College has a dedicated team to support the whole process. Together we can support the skills-led plan and help our region recover.”

The benefits to hiring an apprentice can be huge, including:

The Chamber of Commerce are an approved Gateway provider as part of the governments Kickstart Scheme which provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year olds on Universal Credit.

n Increase productivity and efficiency

The collaboration with the Cheshire College - South & West is a great opportunity to support businesses and young people on the scheme. Together, we can explore access to fully funded training and additional support leading to accredited qualifications, further maximising the effectiveness of the scheme and the positive impact on the young person. It’s anticipated the scheme may create sustainable employment and a number of

n Keep or develop your competitive advantage

n Aid employee satisfaction and retention n Tackle the skills shortage n Reduced recruitment costs n Future proof your business Cheshire College – South & West works with over 500 local, national and international employers, providing a whole host of services to benefit businesses and has an extensive record of success. For more information, email employers@ ccsw.ac.uk or call 01244 656499.

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Northwich BID focuses on shop local message as it looks to spread Christmas cheer

On top of this, the BID are running a 12 Gifts of Christmas campaign to celebrate the season of goodwill. Nominations for people to receive a BIDfunded prize for going above and beyond this year have been flooding in and the 12 winners will be announced in the run up to Christmas. The BID is also utilising the Visit Northwich website over the festive season too which features blogs on shopping local, an ‘open for business’ landing page and virtual map.

The Northwich Business Improvement District (BID) is encouraging people to shop local this year as it delivers a number of festive campaigns and initiatives. An emotive video featuring businesses and retailers talking about the importance of shopping local will sit at the heart of their messaging, while content has been published featuring a cheery Christmas countdown and light switch-on to capture the town’s festive spirit. To make it easier for people from the town and surrounding areas to support local businesses, a Facebook Group has been launched too called Visit Northwich Town Centre Online. This hub is full of news, updates, deals and offers from businesses which allows members to browse products and gift ideas all in one place. Hundreds of consumers have joined already, with the number only set to rise throughout December.

Blue Orchid have a number of immediate opportunities to support Cheshire and Warrington businesses as a grant recipient or as a supplier.

“This grant has been a huge help in allowing us to get the business back on a sure footing and getting our staff back to work. I could not rate the grant and the service from Blue Orchid highly enough.” Immediate supplier opportunities Blue Orchid are urgently looking for suppliers who can support Cheshire & Warrington businesses deliver any of the below services: n Marketing n Digital Services n HR, Financial & Legal Services

Grants are available to support businesses to recover from Covid-19 and to help with growth:

them to take orders at the table and avoid queuing with them commenting:

n Business Management & Strategic

n Cheshire & Warrington Restructure Capital Grant - https://blueorchid.co.uk/ cheshire-warrington-restructure-grant/

“With the new items, we went from being able to have around 45 people indoors to being able to host just over 100. The barriers have created a safe in and out system and the table ordering means people do not have to move around. It has not only helped create a safer environment for staff and guests, it has also increased our trade and has meant people now see us as a very safe place to visit. Many of these systems will now stay in place permanently as they have increased our efficiency and the quality of our offering.

Suppliers looking for tender opportunities, visit www.blueorchid.co.uk.

n Cheshire & Warrington Access to Finance Grant Programme - https:// blueorchid.co.uk/a2fgrant/ Neston Cricket Club have used the grant for protective screens for staff and customers, barriers to create a one-way system and also to purchase the hardware to allow

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n Product development & Process Management


YOUNG CHAMBER

n Debbie Bryce, CEO at the Chamber with Paul Hughes, Managing Director at SHEQ Health and Safety Consultants Limited

Support Grows for Young Chamber Programme SHEQ Health and Safety Consultants Limited have joined West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce’s Young Chamber programme, aiming to help bridge the skills gap in the local educational setting. Paul Hughes, Managing Director at SHEQ Health and Safety Consultants Limited, has more than 25 years’ experience working in the health and safety sector, during that time working within the major construction, civil engineering, rail, oil and gas, nuclear and highways sectors. Paul formed SHEQ Health & Safety Consultants in 2018 after identifying a need in the SME marketplace for a range of accessible, straightforward, competitive and flexible Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality services. As the latest Young Chamber Sponsor, SHEQ Health and Safety Consultants Limited will be working closely with the 15 schools and two colleges that West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce support, to

help give students in the local region skills and knowledge ready for when they enter the world of work. “Whilst I won’t know the Young Chamber person’s background or circumstances, I would like to think that my own experiences will add to and compliment their existing support network and bring a different perspective to things. From a personal point of view, it will be beneficial for me to have the opportunity to interact with someone from a younger generation who will undoubtedly look at things differently to me, challenging my own perspective on things. Investing in our young people is really important to ensure that we nurture future talent “ said Paul. Debbie Bryce, CEO of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce welcomed another local business to the programme, saying: “It was great to meet

Paul and we are delighted to have SHEQ Health and Safety Consultants join our Young Chamber Programme, helping to bridge the skills gap in the region. Young people will benefit from Paul’s invaluable experience and knowledge through a series of online events throughout the school year.” Young Chamber is continuing to support students despite the challenges posed coronavirus restrictions. Virtual careers talks have taken place in the first week of December, with further events planned, and career insight videos are being created, giving pupils an understanding of the skills required to enter the sectors of our Young Chamber Sponsors. For more information about the Young Chamber programme, visit the Chamber website www.wcnwchamber.org.uk.

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ECONOMY

Economic outlook remains weak according to Chamber Quarterly Business Report The latest Quarterly Business Report from the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce indicates that, although businesses have recovered somewhat from the historic lows seen in quarter 2 of the year, many economic indicators remain far below pre-lockdown levels. The report, published in partnership with Cheshire West & Chester Council, reveals the majority of businesses in the region are still feeling the dramatic impact of the restrictions brought into place as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. The findings come as the Chamber of Commerce calls for a clear roadmap for businesses of existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future. Key Findings n Domestic and overseas sales and orders recover (overseas to a lesser extent) but remain in negative territory (meaning more businesses reported a decrease in sales and orders than an increase). The weaker recovery in export indicators is likely to reflect weak global demand.

n Firms’ investment intentions have begun to recover but remain in negative territory. Many firms are focusing on preserving cash buffers while uncertainty remains about the timing of the recovery in demand. n Employment expectations in the region bounced back after the record lows seen in the previous quarter. The number of businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales that tried to recruit over the last three months also recovered, returning close to pre-lockdown levels. n Confidence has recovered from record lows in Q2’20. Now broadly in line with quarter 3 of 2019, though remain some way below at the start of 2020.

The Chamber Quarterly Business Report for quarter 3 of 2020 is based on a survey that received 83 responses from businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales representing over 7400 employees. The fieldwork for this survey took place between 24th August and 14th September.

“Our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals that business conditions remain fragile in the face of uncertainty, with the prospect of a difficult Winter to come.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic impact on businesses, how have the last few months been for Valto? We have been exceptionally fortunate in which our industry is seeing an upsurge in demand. We have seen our sales nearly triple as organisations are scrambling to get their system and employees working effectively remotely. Has there been any particular challenges?

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“Ministers should also consider ways of continuing to provide financial assistance and to extend coverage to more firms that are hard-hit by local lockdowns.”

Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, commented on the report:

In Focus with Valto IT Limited

Valto IT Limited are Microsoft specialists that provide services including Microsoft 365, Azure, SharePoint & Microsoft Teams. Valto are experts in helping companies setup their systems, work environment and culture to work remotely effectively. Here, Managing Director, Hugh Valentine, talks us through his response and feedback into the Chamber Quarterly Business Report for quarter 3 of 2020:

“Since the survey closed on 14th September, there has been a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and both Wales and England have seen national lockdowns resume. Businesses, their employees and customers need to see a clear road map for the existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future. This must include transparent trigger points, and clarity about the support available to protect jobs and livelihoods.

Our largest challenge has been juggling our demand and ensuring we can meet our client expectations while still delivering everything to our high standards. Despite the challenging business conditions, you’ve indicated that you have increased your labour force and investment plans. What were your reasons behind this? The government is providing a lot of grants to assist organisations, such as the Kickstart Scheme. We see this as a great opportunity to invest in our workforce and expand the

team out. IT already has a skills shortage and we feel we can offer careers to young people in the current climate. Have you been able to take anything out of the situation that you can use in the business for future planning? Never take anything for granted! Despite the fact everything was looking positive for the economy, there can always be a challenge around the corner. A positive is that many companies have moved vastly forward with their digital transformation and remote working and we’re likely far further ahead than we would have been. Looking forward, how do you see the next 12 months for your business? Valto will continue to grow and adapting to the challenges we are presented with. We expect that our customers will continue their investment in technology and enabling their staff to work remotely over the coming months. Microsoft are also investing heavily into products like Microsoft Teams and Power Apps giving us further opportunities to grow and help our clients.


INSIGHT INTO...

An insight into Xplore! 17 years ago, the North Wales science discovery centre, Techniquest Glyndŵr, opened its doors to the public. The charity served as an engaging educational learning hub providing primary and secondary students from the region with a unique and informative school trip. Workshops based around science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) were combined with time spent within the main exhibition giving children hours of fun that cleverly combined work and play.

looking forward to being able to open up the space to local businesses as well. When the country starts to rebuild after regional lockdowns, many companies will be considering taking a hybrid approach to home and office working but wherever people’s desks reside, it will be more crucial than ever to get our teams together, to re-group, share stories, get back on track and to move forward.

In school holidays and weekends, the visitor attraction would open to the public, bringing in audiences of over 40,000 each year. The team behind the science centre had big ambitions though and they were keen to welcome even more people to the centre.

wide lockdown; never the less, the centre has been a welcome relief to parents wanting to bring a bit of normality into their lives! Guests took to Xplore!’s Facebook page to share their thoughts about their visit.

Katie Williams, Business Development and Stakeholder Engagement Officer commented that “For me, and I’m sure for many others, living in a digital world has been tough and with advice still to work from home where possible, the lack of human connection is something that is taking its toll.

A move to the heart of Wrexham town centre was made possible through the support of the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome, the Targeted Regeneration Investment programme - a partnership between Welsh Government and Wrexham County Borough Council, and Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

Rebecca Kate Preest, said: “My boys loved it! Engineers, inventors and scientists of the future. My husband and I had fun, too.”, while Susan Wynn commented: “It is truly a wonderful achievement. What an amazing asset for our town of Wrexham.”.

“Fortunately, with space-aplenty, Xplore! offers the perfect place to combine meetings with fun challenges to bring teams back together once and for all, and we are asking employers to pledge to book a day of team building at Xplore! just as soon as restrictions lift.”

Lisa Marie recommended Xplore! on the social media platform and said: “A great addition to Wrexham town centre. Our two and three-year-olds played happily for three hours.”

To pledge your support or to find out more about the spaces available email info@ xplorescience.co.uk, or to book a session with your family go to www.xplorescience.co.uk.

The new centre was originally due to open on 1st May, but when the world ground to a halt in March, the long-anticipated launch was inevitably delayed until 3rd October. The team have since been challenged with local county-wide restrictions and a Wales-

The team couldn’t be happier with the reviews as they continue to fight against the tide to bring joy to families within the region; and when restrictions ease, they are

n Spanning the generations; exhibits at Xplore! provide plenty of opportunities to challenge teams

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THE BIG INTERVIEW

WCNW: To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your background. I was born in Guy’s Hospital, London where my father was a house surgeon and my mother was a nurse. My father later went on to become the senior surgeon there. The eldest of five children, I was brought up and went to school in Surrey. I had always wanted to farm and so became a farm apprentice in North West Wales in 1969 near Tywyn, Gwynedd. The following year, I was one of the first intake of students to study at the new Welsh Agricultural College, Aberystwyth. After achieving my diploma in agriculture, I travelled to New Zealand where I worked on a sheep station before returning home to farm. I married in 1975 and joined the Territorial Army as a Fusilier seven years later. During my 27 year reserve service, I commanded 3rd Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers at Hightown Barracks, Wrexham and went on four operational tours with the Regular Army to Northern Ireland and Bosnia. Around a decade ago, and alongside my current appointment, I returned to education and studied part-time for an MSc in land management at Harper Adams University. WCNW: What attracted you to the Association?

Colonel

Nick Beard TD DL Chief Executive Reserve Forces’ and Cadet’s Association for Wales 26

I was encouraged to apply for the appointment of Chief Executive of Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for Wales and never expected to be survive the interview let alone be offered the job! One way I was qualified was having been Deputy Commander 160 (Wales) Brigade, as the senior reservist appointment was known in those days. So for me it was a natural move to support reserves and cadets even though this particular appointment had always gone to an ex regular officer. WCNW: What did you do next? It takes a full cycle of events and projects (up to 12 months) to really understand the nuances of the role of heading up the Association. Most importantly, the job is about


THE BIG INTERVIEW making sure that the service is the very best that we, RFCA for Wales, provides to our customers; the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force whether it be for the reserves or cadets. RFCA for Wales has staff throughout the whole of Wales with the secretariat based in Cardiff, a sub office in Mold and Professional Support Staff across Wales. WCNW: What are your main responsibilities? RFCA for Wales is a service provider to the Armed Forces’ reserves and cadets. The staff are all crown servants and range from those with military backgrounds having served in the regulars, the reserves or youth organisations like the Cadet Forces to civilians. Our outputs are engagement (which involves engaging with the public on Defence’s behalf) supporting employers, managing the diverse estate for the reserves and cadets and administering and supporting the Cadet Forces, which are youth organisations. To support the outputs we employ 75 staff across Wales. WCNW: What does a typical day involve? All my days are different. I could be sat at my desk dealing with a variety of paperwork issues in the morning, and perhaps briefing a stakeholder on what we do and how we support the reserves and cadets in the afternoon. Another day I could be travelling to London for an executive board meeting (although at the moment they are virtual) or attending a meeting with one of our Service customers. Last month I travelled to Pembrokeshire to look at potential sites for a new Cadet Training Centre for Dyfed and Glamorgan Army Cadet Force. The variety is considerable and the breadth of stakeholder engagement ranges from our customers to Welsh Government to volunteers from the cadet forces. It’s the variety that makes it so enjoyable.

“Your staff are your greatest asset so be understanding but honest with your workforce at all times and you will gain their respect.” on 31 July 2020. However, it’s not just about estates. Our employer engagement team has enjoyed great success with many firms across Wales, both big and small, having achieved well-earned recognition for their support to the Armed Forces through the Armed Forces Covenant and the Employer Recognition Scheme. Engaging on behalf of Defence through our volunteer membership is also hugely important and of course it is a two way process, society needs to understand the issues that Defence has and quite rightly Defence needs to be aware of what concerns our local communities may have for the reserves and cadets in their areas. WCNW: Looking ahead, what are your main aims for the organisation and how would you like it to develop? I retire in early summer 2021 having been Chief Executive of RFCA for Wales for the last 18 years. So it will not be up to me but I hope my successor will be able to continue to support the reserve and cadets in order for them to thrive and benefit from everything that the uniformed Services provide. WCNW: Are there any particular people, business leaders or others you look up to? What have you learned from them? Perhaps not a particular individual but importantly for me the leadership training that has been and still is offered by the

Services today is second to none. Those values of loyalty, integrity, honesty, professionalism and team work are ingrained in us from when we first commence our training. I have absolute admiration for our Services and have had the privilege to serve with them for over a generation. They uphold everything that is good and their standards and values percolate to everyone that wears a uniform be it a regular, a reservist or a member of the cadet forces. WCNW: What have you been most proud of during your career? It has been a privilege to head up an organisation that I believe has met its remit and done its very best for its customers. If you were to start again with a clean sheet of a paper you may well end up with a different structure to support the reserves and cadets. That said, we still uphold the values that our predecessors set well over 100 years ago to support the reserves and cadets to the very best of our ability. WCNW: What message would you give to other people in business? Your staff are your greatest asset so be understanding but honest with your workforce at all times and you will gain their respect. The Association could not have achieved so much without such supportive and enthusiastic staff be it the secretariat or the Army Cadet Force. It is a privilege to work with such a committed team.

WCNW: Who are your target audience and what is the main aim of the organisation? Our raison d’etre is to support the reserves and cadets across Wales. We ensure that they have accommodation that is fit for purpose. It needs to be safe and secure so that the cadets are provided every opportunity to help them develop into responsible adults through training. Likewise, we need to ensure the accommodation for the many reserves in Wales is also fit for purpose as their support to the regular Services has been vital for so many years. WCNW: What projects are you currently working on? Currently the Association’s estates team is working on a number of smaller estate projects having just completed the new £8.2m HMS Cambria building for the Royal Navy in Cardiff Bay. The Royal Navy assumed control of the new building from us

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INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Brexit Briefings help prepare firms for new trading era The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, with its partners Cheshire West & Chester Council, has been supporting businesses from across the region before the Brexit Transition Period comes to an end on 31st December 2020. The Brexit support programme includes a mix of practical export guidance, webinars with leading experts and one-to-one support for companies. The Chamber has held monthly Brexit Briefing Webinars covering a range of key areas that businesses should be considering ahead of the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU, including: n Incoterms® 2020 n Customs procedures and compliance n The new immigration system n UK Global Tariff n The Northern Ireland Protocol n VAT n CE Marking Hosted by the Chamber’s Export Documentation Manager, Hayley Gray, the Webinars have been supported by a number of experts that have been keen to pass on their knowledge and help businesses prepare for the changes that are coming. Becky Stark, Director at Stark Export Focus Ltd, is an exceptionally knowledgeable international trade expert and has been at the forefront of the Webinar series. Becky has presented at almost all of the Brexit Briefings and has been updating attendees on the latest developments as talks between the UK and EU have continued. With a matter of weeks remaining until the transition period comes to an end, Becky remains intent on supporting businesses in their preparations, saying; “For some, our Brexit Briefings have given reassurance about the preparations they have been making, for others it has highlighted issues they had perhaps not considered. “The countdown clock is ticking – but it is never too late to take action. Businesses MUST make sure they fully understand the export and import processes and how these will impact on their supply chain, their cost base and their processes. Help and support is there, don’t hesitate to use it!”

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Anne-Marie Martin, Director of Global Business Networks at British Chambers of Commerce, gave an insight into the opportunities for Chamber members to engage with the BCC Global Business Network. This key strategic initiative comprises of a unique international member network of 63 British Chambers of Commerce, and equivalent business groups, located across all continents of the world outside the UK and 53 regional Chambers of Commerce located across every key business hub in the UK.

businesses to face the challenges and opportunities resulting from Brexit.” One-to-one support is still available at no cost to businesses in West Cheshire and Chamber members. To access this support, please get in touch with the Chamber’s International Trade Team on 01244 669985 or email export@wcnwchamber.og.uk.

Other speakers have included; n Horváth Zoltán - Diplomat for Economics, Trade and Investment Promotion at Consulate General of Hungary in Manchester n Justine Watkinson – Head of Employment Law and Group Engagement Director at Hillyer McKeown n Caroline Platt – Managing Director at Platts Agriculture Ltd n Robert Davies - Logistics Team Leader at Tate & Lyle n Mark Rowbotham - International Customs & VAT Consultant n Pete Hall - Managing Consultant at Conformance Ltd n Andy Spencer - Director of Professional Services at Accordance Technical Services Ltd n Kevin Walsh - UK Sales Director at LV Shipping Ltd The Chamber and Cheshire West & Chester Council are eager to continue their support of businesses into 2021 as firms adapt to the new trading relations between the UK and EU with Hayley Gray commenting; “We are so pleased with the feedback we have received from businesses that have attended our Brexit Briefings and I want to say a huge thank you to all of our speakers that have made these events a success. We hope to continue our support offer in the new year to help firms adjust to the new trading requirements.” Lead Member for Economy, Housing and Planning, Councillor Matt Bryan added “The deadline for the transition period and lack of certainty around a deal, represents a timely opportunity to partner on support for Cheshire West Businesses with Brexit readiness support, unpicking the complexity of the new requirements and regulations associated with this. The Chamber of Commerce were natural partners to support this given their strong track record and experience in export and international trade advice and guidance. “We are pleased to be in a position to support the Chamber in delivering the transition workshops and better equip

Export Documentation Changes from 1st January 2021 The new trading relationship with the EU will mean some significant changes for businesses that use the Chamber’s export documentation services. Please note that, at the time of writing, a deal has not been agreed between the UK and EU. UK-EUR1’s The UK-EUR1 will be used where the UK has signed a new trade agreement with another country. A list of these agreements can be found on the gov.uk website. Exporters must ensure that their goods qualify for preferential treatment under the new agreement by checking the appropriate Rules of Origin for their goods. This may change if a deal is signed with the EU. Please regularly check the HMRC website for updated customs notices relating to UK EUR1’s etc. ATR’s As far as the Chamber network understands, ATR’s will not be used after the 31st December 2020. If a trade deal is agreed with Turkey, then it is expected that a UK-EUR1 will be used to declare origin and gain preferences. UK Certificate of Origin From the 1st January 2021, the UK accredited Chamber of Commerce network will only issue UK Certificates of Origin. The previous European Community Certificates of Origin will not be accepted. The Chamber will be in contact with existing customers to organise a smooth transition to the use of the new documentation. For any enquiries, please contact the Chamber’s International Trade Team on 01244 669985 or email export@wcnwchamber.og.uk.


INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Customs Declaration Service launched by Chamber The number of customs declarations made by traders is forecast to grow from 55 million now, to almost 300 million next year as new border procedures for importing and exporting goods to and from the EU come to fruition. In order to support this incredible increase in demand, the Chamber has launched the service which has seen two staff members, Hayley Gray and Sarah Jones, undertake rigorous training to become Customs Officers, with both becoming fully qualified earlier this year. The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce has launched a new customs declaration service ahead of the surge in demand predicted next year.

Hayley, Export Documentation Manager at the Chamber, said on completing her qualifications;

The service will be delivered through ChamberCustoms, which is available to UK importers and exporters, of all sizes, in every region of the United Kingdom.

“We are delighted to become fully qualified Customs Officers and to now be able to offer this crucial service to importers and exporters in West Cheshire & North Wales.

Hungary – an ideal location to do business in the EU Hungary has a strategically important central position in Europe, with welldeveloped infrastructure and excellent transport links to neighbouring countries. Lying at the cross-roads of three TEN-T corridors allows an easy access to both Western and Eastern European countries and thus to the single market of the EU. Growth in export shows that Hungarian products are competitive at a global level and, after Brexit, the UK will be Hungary’s no.2 trading partner outside the EU. Companies from Hungary offer high quality and innovative products in several industries. Electronics, automotive industry, machinery and metal industry are considered the main sectors for trade, with high potential in the health, agro and food industries and with unexploited potential in medical equipment, digital solutions and creative industry. Hungary continuously improves its taxation system to foster growth and to improve the business climate. The emphasis has

been shifted from income-type taxes to consumption-type taxes. The flat personal income tax system (15%) was introduced as a low-rate family-friendly system, where the costs of raising children is taken into account. The corporate income tax rate is the lowest in the EU at 9%. Hungary is committed to the gradual reduction of the tax burden related to employment and, as a result, the social contribution tax rate is only 15.5%. The country is well-known for its highly educated, skilled and relatively cheap labour force (the minimum wage is only 487 EUR), with high levels of English language knowledge. Motivated, committed and well-educated Hungarian employees ingeniously work for achieving excellent results on all levels in all fields – from skilled craftsmen to engineers, from business managers to software developers. Forty-five of the world’s 80 largest multi nationals, and many of their SME suppliers, have established a long-term presence in

n The beautiful city of Budapest. Image source MTU.GOV.HU

“The Chamber of Commerce network is uniquely placed to deliver the customs declaration service and with our extensive knowledge, reputation and first-class service in facilitating international trade, we can take the hassle away from businesses when it comes to exporting and importing goods.” The service is offered direct to businesses, ensuring that customs clearance is accurate, timely and avoids additional costs through delays or errors. “With direct links to the HMRC Customs handling system and all inventory linked ports, we can ensure that goods, no matter where they enter or leave the UK, will be cleared for onward transportation smoothly” added Hayley. As businesses get ready for the end of the transition period, the Chamber is ready to help firms clear their goods at the border. To find out more, please email h.gray@wcnwchamber.org.uk or phone 01244 669985.

Hungary, benefiting from the highly skilled workforce, access to world-class universities, an advantageous location, qualified suppliers and from an advanced business infrastructure. Investors do not simply regard Hungary as an ideal production location, but also as a remarkable “advanced manufacturing & innovation centre” of Europe. To facilitate foreign direct investments and reinvestments by local enterprises and to increase competitiveness, there are also wide-ranging incentives – both refundable and non-refundable – available. The main types of incentives are cash subsidies (either from the Hungarian Government or from EU Funds), tax incentives, low-interest loans, and training subsidies. The political and economic stability, the foreign trade focused foreign policy, the commitment on improving the business climate, the clear agenda on economic development and FDI strategy and a clear legal and regulatory framework make Hungary an ideal environment for sustainable growth. If you would like more information about the business, trade and investment opportunities please contact the Consulate General of Hungary in Manchester through info@wcnwchamber.org.uk

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GETTING STARTED We deliver independent investigations to support disciplinary and grievance matters and offer a range of training for managers too.

organisations simply do not have the experience to deal with these matters so I set up SDHR Solutions to help them.

We also can provide advice for employees who may be called to a hearing.

Who is your ideal client/customer?

About you! My first career was in the Army, in the Royal Military Police, and I served for 25 years all over the world, mainly deployed on counter terrorism operations. My ultimate achievement was to command a regiment of over 300 men and women in Northern Ireland.

Your position?

Managing Director

About your business? We deal with all the ‘difficult stuff’ that companies and managers really do not want to deal with!

Start-Up Club West Cheshire Are you in your first two years of business and looking for support and advice? Or do you know someone in this position? n The West Cheshire Start-Up Club provides a supportive forum for businesses within their first two years of operation (including those thinking of setting up in business). n This enables aspiring business starts to meet with others at the same stage of their business journey. n Those who engage with the Start-Up Club gain valuable access to skills and knowledge all targeted at supporting their business development.

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Having the courage to set up my own business after being a salary slave for most of my working life!

Biggest challenges?

Why start your own business?

Benefits of the Chamber Start-Up Club since you joined?

The light bulb moment! Probably like many business owners, choosing a catchy name is the hardest part of the set up! In the end I decided to use my initials with ‘HR Solutions’ to try and give some individuality with a clear understanding of what I did in the company name.

Best moment so far?

I left the Army in 2007 and since have had a varied career as a senior manager in various sectors including education (Operations Director of a 1200 pupil independent school) and private/public sector as an Operations Manager with Serco, where I was responsible for 180 staff and 11,000 asylum seekers!

In short, it was redundancy!

What’s in a name?

It will probably be varied but would be at SME level. My initial focus would be on the education sector, not just schools but FE colleges and Universities.

Within 2 weeks of starting at Serco in 2014, I was asked to conduct a disciplinary hearing. When I reviewed the case file, it was evident that there had been no reasonable investigation and the employee would not have had a fair hearing. In short, I reinvestigated the case and afterwards realised that there were scores of other cases which were also poorly managed. I spoke with the Contract Director and volunteered to sort it and became the ‘go to’ person to train, manage and deliver all investigations and hearings in the contract with over 450 staff.

Finding the right market and focussing the networking. Networking was going great then we had lock down, which stalled the momentum for me. Also, keeping the self-motivation going when the rest of life gets in the way.

The feeling that you are not alone! The advice given by the presenters has been invaluable – just need to implement it!

Lessons learnt…what would you do differently and why! I would have worked on a more focussed business plan to make sure I used my time more effectively which hopefully would have brought more work in. That said, until you start, you don’t know what you don’t know!

When I knew I was being made redundant, I realised that many companies and There’s a breadth of support available to start-up businesses; ranging from core skills that can benefit and nurture start-ups and support their longer-term sustainability. Crucially, these include accessing funding and cash flows, PR and marketing, social media, web design, branding, accountancy and those requested by the membership. Since the commencement of the programme, Covid-19 has impacted dramatically on the shape of business networking activity and normal business support, which would usually be very much ‘face-to-face’. The wholesale move to online networking and virtual communications, whilst initially a challenge, has been embraced by members and there is a spirit of nurture and support. With the ability to bounce ideas and share experiences, it has been enthusiastically embraced. In addition to the networking, there is also scope to engage in ‘peer-to-peer’ learning

with existing Chamber contacts and Patron and Strategic Members. A dedicated startup ‘safe space’ on the Chamber website has been created for members of the club to connect with each other and access additional support. There is scope to develop this, guided by the club membership, to reflect need as businesses develop and grow. With the help of Cheshire West and Chester Council, we can keep you updated with any relevant support, opportunities and advice available to help on your business journey. To find out more about the club and how you can join, please contact us on 01244 669988 or scan the QR code provided.


MEMBERS NEWS

A former Mayor has launched a new business and clothing range to support people with mental health issues. Stephen Williams, from Colwyn Bay, hopes CBT (Connect Build Transform) will shine a light on problems faced by businesses and individuals across the UK, notably those impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Having qualified this year as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, the 47-year-old has also unveiled the Mind Free Clothing UK range of hoodies and leisurewear, emblazoned with hashtags and messages encouraging positivity. Supported by Hwb Menter/Enterprise Hub at M-SParc on Anglesey, and in collaboration with Mark Bryant from Fast Way to Fitness in Mochdre, Stephen hopes to be able to help people when they need it most.

Having suffered with his own mental health following the death of his beloved mum Maureen, the former Eirias High School pupil said: “I started the company earlier this year but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, I’ve had to do everything online, including completion of the qualification. “Until it is safe to do so I’ll continue holding sessions via video conferencing but have also been able to make strides in developing the clothing brand and CBT in the background.” He added: “I’ve always been passionate about supporting people with mental health issues, through my role as a councillor and Mayor of the Bay of Colwyn, and in other voluntary roles over the years.

“It will be great to work with Mark, who does so much in mental health, fitness and wellbeing coaching, so I’m excited at what lies ahead and am sure we can help people. “I’ve been through the tough times myself when my mum died; I felt a change in attitude and experienced some dark times. It’s only when I started to talk that I made the journey out of it, but many of us – especially men – are often too proud to speak about how we feel.” Mark said the synergy between both organisations made working together a natural next step. “Health, exercise, and mental health and wellbeing go in hand in hand, so we can support each other with corporate wellness, resilience and training to help people transform their lives,” he said. “There is still a stigma around stress and depression and even talking about the issues we face, but given the events of this year it’s time to open up and be there for one another.” Through CBT, Stephen is also planning to hold webinars and podcasts, as well as appearing on local radio station, Bayside. For more information, visit the website www.cbtnw.co.uk.

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URENCO

Urenco Nuclear Stewardship Urenco Nuclear Stewardship is a UK based, wholly owned Urenco subsidiary and has been in operation since 2012. Located at Capenhurst, Urenco Nuclear Stewardship, formerly Capenhurst Nuclear Services, has a leading role in providing the responsible stewardship of nuclear materials through waste management and decommissioning services. The company has extended contracts with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Ministry of Defence and is Urenco’s centralised waste management and decommissioning function. Itis in a convenient UK location on the Capenhurst Nuclear Licensed site, which affords space and opportunity to develop. Since 2021 Urenco Nuclear Stewardship has delivered projects at a cost of over £260m for the NDA, two years ahead of schedule and 12% under budget. In addition, it provides safe, secure storage to the UK’s uranium assets and will continue to do so for the next 90 years. The company has characterised, decommissioned and compliantly consigned radioactive metallic waste since the beginning of 2019. Around 25% of this metal was cleaned, and monitored, reducing the need for nuclear waste disposal and improving the site’s sustainability.

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Working practices throughout COVID-19 have been challenging, however, Urenco UK, Urenco Nuclear Stewardship and Urenco ChemPlants have maintained continuous operations and found the capacity to work alongside various charitable organisations. In October, Urenco continued its commitment to its local community, with employees at Capenhurst and partner contractors refurbishing a building in Ellesmere Port town centre, turning it into a community hub and crisis café called ‘Flynns Port in the Storm.’ The centre is the first of its kind in the local area and has been created to support members of the local community who require a foodbank, counselling services and employment advice due to the impact of COVID-19. The hub also offers respite for individuals with mental illness who have been referred by a medical profession. In the summer, as part of Urenco’s commitment to supporting STEM education, Urenco Nuclear Stewardship worked with a group of engineering master’s degree students and their tutors from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). The university assisted Urenco Nuclear Stewardship to update our Asset Management Model for legacy cylinders. The

model is used to determine which cylinders should be prioritised for replacement and needed to be refined to account for changes in environmental conditions, for example temperature and humidity. LJMU also helped to make the model more user friendly so it can be maintained in-house in the future. Dave Nelligan, Managing Director of Urenco Nuclear Stewardship, said: “Urenco Nuclear Stewardship is a critical part of Urenco’s commitment to sustainability. This includes its core work in responsibly managing nuclear materials for both Urenco and the wider nuclear industry, and extends to making a valuable contribution to our local communities, by providing well-paid and highly skilled jobs, supporting charities and initiatives and nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.” www.urenco.com


Planning for the future –

the WR Partners experience by Paul Brown Tax Partner

With many businesses currently operating hand to mouth and fighting every day to survive, for many business owners the thought of spending time on the long-term strategic direction of their business might seem like an investment they just can’t afford to make. I would argue however, that now is exactly the time that business owners need to lift themselves out of their day to day activities and really consider the future for their business. The reality is that not all businesses suffer to the same extent during a downturn. While many businesses do suffer (and sadly go under) there are others that will not only

survive but indeed thrive during tougher times. It is also clear that there will be an end to this downturn and businesses that come out of the other end of this crisis with strong foundations and a clear plan for the future will be the ones best placed to take advantage of the opportunities the recovery will present. At WR Partners, we have a leadership group that focuses on what really matters for the long-term future of our business. Initially we invested a great deal of time in developing a clear set of goals and identifying the key actions we need to undertake to reach those goals – then captured this in a one-page plan. This plan is the document which sets out the strategic direction for our business. We regularly revisit it and challenge ourselves to ensure we are on track and we still believe the direction set initially is the right one. All of this was done before the pandemic hit, but we have kept to this discipline throughout even when there have

been a few more twists and turns along the way - the end goals remain the same. The time we invest working on our business is the most valuable time we spend together as a team. We do acknowledge however, that we could not have achieved what we have to date without external help. Having someone outside the business to challenge us and ensure we are on track has been a hugely valuable part of the process. By continuing to work to our original goals and actions we have total confidence that we will emerge into the “new normal” with a business which has not only survived the pandemic but is ready to thrive in a post Coronavirus world. We would challenge every business owner to ask themselves if they really have a clear strategy for the future – even if it’s just “I can’t go through this again so I want to find a way out!” then at least you have a goal to work towards.

If you would like to understand more about the strategic planning process and how we might be able to bring that to your business and help to protect your future please get in touch.

Contact us today for a free, one-hour strategic business review. You can email us at hello@wrpartners.co.uk or call us on 01743 273273


CLIMB THE LADDER OF INNOVATION Grow your business and stay competitive Start your journey

enterprise@glyndwr.ac.uk KTP

SMART

MINI KTP

KT VOUCHERS


Wrexham Glyndŵr University

Climb the Ladder of Innovation with Wrexham Glyndŵ r University to grow your business and stay competitive! MINI KTP The MINI KTP can be used as a standalone project or as a lead into a full KTP. A business can recruit a new member of the team to drive a 3-6 month project, whilst able to access up to £6,000 of academic time plus up to £1,000 to spend on materials or software!

SMART A SMART partnership aims to improve productivity within business, and offers funding to support up to 50% of project costs for businesses in Wales.

KTP – Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Wrexham Glyndŵr University have developed a ‘Ladder of Innovation’ to support their industry partners to help grow their business and stay competitive, providing a number of funded projects available to engage with. Previously the Enterprise Team have successfully collaborated with a number of different organisations, delivering Knowledge Transfer Partnership’s and SMART partnerships, supporting new growth avenues for businesses and providing a platform for organisations to absorb the academic expertise and equipment on offer at the University. As a result of the impact of COVID 19, the team have understood the need provide a variety of funded innovation projects for businesses to engage with, considering

the financial and capacity commitment that organisations are able to provide and to extend these opportunities to a wider range of sectors. From this the ‘Ladder of Innovation’ was born, offering four stages of engagement to support business growth, automation of processes, exploration of project scope and research agendas. Businesses can choose to ‘climb up the ladder’ and engage with all four stages or may be able to jump in at the right point for them. Here’s a little more information about what’s on offer…

Identify innovative solutions with KTP. At least 50% of project costs funded over 12 36 months. This encourages organisation to source new talent and embed academic research into their strategic plans. Welsh Government have announced that up until February 2021 they will provide up to 75% of project funds specifically for Welsh SME’s, another great reason to find out more about how Knowledge Transfer Partnerships could support your business! If you would like to find out more about how you could access funding and engage with one or more of the initiatives above, please get in touch with the Enterprise Team by contacting enterprise@ glyndwr.ac.uk or take a look at our website https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/business/

KT VOUCHERS KT VOUCHERS provide businesses with the opportunity to access up to £2,500 of funding to utilise academic expertise, scope out a new business concept or trial a new process or project without the financial risk!

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INSPIRING

enterprise Are you an organisation based in Wales? Would you like to access FULLY FUNDED professional development for your employees? Wrexham Glyndŵr University offer six Degree Apprenticeship programmes: Digital Programmes • Software Engineering • Cyber Security

DEGREE APPRENTICESHIPS @ Wrexham Glyndŵr University Support employee retention, develop expertise and recruit talent

Engineering Programmes • Mechanical Engineering • Electrical Engineering • Production Engineering • Industrial Energy Saving & Clean Sustainable Engineering

To find out more about our Degree Apprenticeships and how you could access this funding contact enterprise@glyndwr.ac.uk

KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PARTNERSHIP

Explore new markets, grow your business and stay competitive in your industry Identify innovative solutions with KTP. At least 50% of project costs funded over 12-36 months. Source new talent and embed academic research into your strategic plans.

Why now? • The Welsh Government have announced that they will contribute 75% towards the total costs of KTP projects that meet the eligibility criteria and are submitted before the 3rd of February 2021. • SME businesses are usually expected to contribute 33% of the total project costs, but eligible businesses in Wales, will now only have to contribute 25%.

Got an idea for a KTP? Want to find out more? Email our Enterprise Team by contacting enterprise@glyndwr.ac.uk


The Enterprise Team at Wrexham Glyndŵr University Wrexham Glyndŵr University sits at the heart of the business community in North Wales, actively working with organisations of all sizes and sectors from small start-up enterprises to global corporations. The Enterprise Team deliver a suite of services to support business growth and career development, providing funding to enable innovative projects and offering access to our wealth of academic expertise.

Business Services: • • • • • • •

Professional Development Short Courses & CPD Consultancy Funded Projects Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Degree Apprenticeships Placement Opportunities

To find out more about how we could support your business contact

enterprise@glyndwr.ac.uk or visit our website at www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/business/

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Cheshire Observatory: Geoenergy research and innovation for a net zero future In 2019 Cheshire councillors approved plans from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) to locate an underground geoenergy observatory at Ince Marshes. Business Matters hears from the BGS UK Geoenergy Observatories team to find out how these plans are developing in 2021. It has never been more important than it is now to find new clean, secure and affordable ways of powering our future. To combat climate change and meet the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions targets, we need to rapidly build our understanding of the natural environment and the possibilities it offers for a sustainable future. In particular, there is a need to better understand the potential of the subsurface environment for large- scale energy supply and storage, as evidenced by recent policy initiatives to transition large numbers of buildings to heat pump- based heating systems. With the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) this year, increased attention

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will be given to the resilient solutions and new behaviours the UK is adopting. Sound scientific evidence from facilities such as the UK Geoenergy Observatories will play a key role in helping decision-makers embed alternative energy solutions in future policy and regulation. The observatory at Ince Marshes is one of two sites being developed by NERC/UKRI and British Geological Survey to deliver the scientific understanding that is needed to optimise and de-risk subsurface thermal energy storage technologies. In the case of the Cheshire Observatory the focus is on ground source heating and cooling and aquifer thermal energy storage, whereas the Glasgow Observatory thermal energy storage in flooded mine workings. Mine water and ground source heating and cooling has enormous potential to help decarbonise the heat supply in the UK. However research, investment and innovation in geothermal energy in the UK has been lacking, compared to traditional energy sources like oil and gas.


CHESHIRE OBSERVATORY UPDATE “Geologists have been making sense of the rocks beneath our feet for the last 250 years, with the BGS leading the way since 1835.” The UK Geoenergy Observatories will change this by helping researchers and commercial operators acquire the knowledge needed to harness the UK’s geothermal potential. ‘Geologists have been making sense of the rocks beneath our feet for the last 250 years, with BGS leading the way since 1835. But a great deal has remained out of reach and there is still much more to understand.’ Mike Stephenson, Chief Scientist, British Geological Survey. The observatories, in Cheshire and Glasgow, are being delivered and run by the British Geological Survey for the whole of the UK science community. They will be among just a handful of worldwide research sites that enable scientists to deepen understanding of how geology can help to solve the energy challenge. For the past four years, BGS has been working through the complex process of building this large- scale research infrastructure. The borehole infrastructure at the Glasgow Observatory is now complete and work will begin this year on delivering the groundwater recirculation and heat pump systems. Core recovered during the drilling of the Glasgow boreholes has been made available to the research community for further study, together with geophysical and geochemical data from the new UKGEOS core scanning facility that was commissioned at the start of 2019. A wide range of information and data on the Glasgow Observatory has already been made available through the open-access data portal at ukgeos.ac.uk. When the Cheshire Observatory is completed, the UK will have a pair of matched sites to fully investigate the thermal and coupled hydro-chemicalbiological response of the subsurface to thermal energy storage.

What will the Cheshire Observatory tell us? The Cheshire Observatory will address a wide range of geoenergy-related research and innovation interests over the anticipated 15 year lifetime of the site. It will include borehole heat exchangers for heating and cooling of the subsurface, advanced sensors for 3D imaging of subsurface processes in real time, and a network of boreholes for multilevel

groundwater monitoring and hydraulic control. Together, these systems will provide researchers with the opportunity to research what is needed to optimise the design and operation of subsurface energy storage and geothermal systems, which are an important and growing component of UK heat supply. The Cheshire Observatory will also provide researchers with unparalleled opportunities to characterise micro and macro scale in-situ processes relevant to other geoenergy technologies, including hydrogen storage and CO2 storage. Earlier designs for the observatory included a seismic array and boreholes for the assessment of fault zone properties, including controls on heat and fluid flow. Planning permission is still in place for these, and stands for up to 15 years from initial construction, leaving the original design as a viable option for the future. The initial scope of the project is designed so it can be added to, allowing the facility to build its capability over time. Dr Mike Spence, UK Geoenergy Observatories Science Director said, ‘The Cheshire Geoenergy Observatory will be an internationally important, long-term platform for a wide range of geoenergy research activities. We anticipate that the first research opportunities at the Cheshire Geoenergy Observatory will arrive later in 2021 with the collection of the first drill core. The geothermal research infrastructure in Cheshire will include boreholes that can be used to circulate heated and cooled water, so that the effect of thermal energy storage and extraction can be investigated. In addition, researchers will be able to access samples of groundwater and drill core for off-site laboratory investigations. “Arrays of different sensor types will be deployed to monitor changes in subsurface pressure, temperature, water chemistry and physical and mechanical rock properties, and the data will be made freely available on the UK Geoenergy Observatories website.’ The UK Geonergy Observatories are open to the UK and international science communities. To explore the opportunities available and to find out more about the suitability of the sites for future research studies and ideas, visit ukgeos.ac.uk

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We are Adapt Environment, a consultancy of Landscape Architects, Ecologists and Planners working together to connect people and place through landscape. Partnered with experienced contractor, Contract Ground Services (CGS), we also design and construct high quality gardens and outdoor spaces for home- owners, nursing homes and schools. We are fully insured and chartered members of the Landscape Institute (LI) and Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Our origins lie in landscape architecture, and this strengthens all the services we offer. For us, landscape is where memories are made and life enjoyed, especially during ongoing lockdowns. Whether the project is a barn conversion, private garden or a solar/wind renewable energy project, we focus on the needs and hopes of the people affected. By leading with the landscape, and by putting people first, we create better connected, healthier and happier places. I am Shea O’ Neill, Adapt Environment’s Director of Planning and Regeneration. As a Landscape Architect and Ecologist with over twenty five years of experience in both the private and public sectors, I have been honing the company’s Planning

offer over the past few years to deliver our wide range of Landscape and Ecology services. I have extensive experience of landscape and visual impact assessment and strategic landscape scale studies. I have led LVIAs for numerous infrastructure and onshore wind and solar projects and our team have been involved in supporting a number of these through Public Inquiries. I take a positive approach to planning and plan-making, working with the development team to secure consents and delivering implementable development schemes. I am passionate about creating urban and rural regeneration solutions that benefit people and wildlife.

SERVICES WE OFFER: Ecology: • Phase 1 and Extended Ecology Surveys; • Bat Surveys- Potential and Emergent for buildings subject to development and demolition. • Protected species surveys including Great Crested Newts, Otters and Birds ; • Badger surveys and mitigation for construction projects ; and, • Tree Surveys to BS 5837. Through survey we can identify the potential ecological constraints to a development. Our design team can provide advice and details on how constraints can be mitigated.

Landscape: • Landscape design and construction drawings; • Public Realm; • Private gardens design and construction; and, • Landscape Visual Impact Assessment LVIA.

Planning: • Submission of planning applications; • Environment Statement preparation ; • Landscape character assessments; • Discharge of planning conditions ; and, • Habitat Regulation Assessments HRA.

Contact 07702 916908 | shea.adaptenvironment@outlook.com 42

www:adaptenvironment.com


LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. Strengthening Teams Strengthening Teams workshop delivery ILM courses for managers & team leaders qualifications ILM Effective team members qualifications

Strengthening Wellbeing ILM Coaching & Mentoring qualifications Wellbeing in the workplace – staff workshops & qualification delivery at levels 1, 2 and 3 Running digital retreat days for staff teams

Post Covid 2021 will bring new challenges to the workplace, whether it be across teams or individuals. We are here to help.

Changing Partnership Working Workshops to support delivery of meetings & trainings over digital platforms City & Guilds Advice & Guidance qualifications

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Call: 01978 661 010 Email: info@rossett-training.co.uk Visit: www.rossett-educare.co.uk


MEMBERS NEWS

Rage Fitness start Mission 84 to raise awareness of male suicide

Here at Rage Fitness, I believe it is our duty to shine a spotlight on all mental and emotional health issues; this way, we can reach out and help individuals directly or indirectly. Someone may take the strength they need from a client story, reach out to us, or get the support they need. In the UK, suicide is the highest cause of death among men under the age of 45. In fact, the highest recorded suicide rate in the UK belongs to men who fall in the 40–44 age bracket. In addition to this, there are also disparities between gender and suicide: male suicide rates are higher than females, and there is much evidence to suggest that a key reason for this is down to the way that men generally communicate their mental health needs. It will come as no great surprise that they are less likely to ask for help or openly express depressive or suicidal feelings. Anybody who knows somebody that has died by suicide is left with the inevitable questions: Why didn’t they reach out? Why didn’t I see the signs? Could I have done something to prevent this?

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Raising awareness: Rage Fitness Company are running Mission 84, a campaign aimed at raising as much awareness of death by suicide in males as possible. The name of the campaign itself is linked to the massively saddening statistic that on average, 84 men in the UK take their own lives every week. The Plan: I, Craig Brown Rage Fitness Owner/ CEO, will be cycling 3570km over 84 days prior to Christmas Day. Suicide in men rises nearer the time of the festive season, something that could be caused by isolation, pressure of finances or simply just more time spent indoors. The Distance: Start date (84 days before 25th December 2020): 2nd October 2020 Distance per day: This will increase by 1km every day 2nd October 2020: 1km 3rd October 2020: 2km 4th October 2020: 3km . . . and so on until…

25th December 2020: 84km (hopefully before my Christmas dinner). Collectively this equates to 3570km across 84 days! The Ambition: I hope this shines a light on a real issue in modern society and I want to support all men, of all backgrounds. I also hope this inspires us to look out for one another. To have the confidence and courage to speak to our loved ones and say at the time it is needed most, ‘I need help.’ A personal request: Mission 84 is a just a small voice surrounding a big issue. But, if a select few hear or see this, it may help. Simply saying to somebody at crisis point to ‘go and get help’ can be daunting, overwhelming and may feel demasculating. Let’s work together to raise awareness of the issue so that more men have the courage to come forward and get the support they need. Thank you. www.ragefitnesscompany.com


MEMBERS NEWS

Frodsham Marketing Agency Receives Three Awards In 2020 (In Recognition of Their Customer Service and Innovative Design) In March 2020, they received another award from Clutch, naming them one of the Best B2B companies in the United Kingdom.

LMNts Marketing might be a small boutique agency in the market town of Frodsham, but the efforts of the team are getting recognised by professional bodies.

The management didn’t stop innovative projects despite the global pandemic. Even though they temporarily lost long term clients who had to close down for the duration of local and national lockdowns, they carried on finding new ways to deliver better results. They worked hard to make the most out of the situation for every client and improve what is the most important asset of every business; their reputation.

LMNts Marketing had a great year, despite the global slowdown of the economy. They received three awards from prestigious independent bodies and magazines to recognise their hard work and talent.

In September, LMNts Marketing was awarded three SME Awards: Best Digital Marketing Agency in Cheshire for 2020, Most Innovative Sales Funnel Strategists 2020, and Customer Service Excellence Award 2020.

In January, Clutch named the Cheshire based digital marketing agency as one of the 2020 Clutch Leaders. Clutch is the independent directory of specialist digital marketing firms around the world.

However, the list doesn’t end there. Later this year, Corporate LiveWire named the company Digital Marketing Agency of the Year in the United Kingdom.

Laura Farkas, the Owner/ CMO explained: “We simply couldn’t believe the speed the awards were flooding in. Our clients obviously kept the nominations secret. It is great to be recognised for the hard work and innovation that drives our boutique agency forward, even in challenging times. We have managed to train our in-house talent, help fresh graduates get a grasp of social media and content marketing, and publish some useful guides to help business owners make the most out of their limited marketing budget. It didn’t go unnoticed.” Important mentions of the digital marketing agency also include being named one of the top influencer marketing agencies in 2020, one of the top branding agencies in the United Kingdom, and being in the top 10 digital marketing agencies in the world according to DesignRush. Wimgo, a digital marketing directory also named LMNts as number two in digital marketing in the United Kingdom. “We continue to improve every day. We work hard on our communication; both internal and external, as well as transparency. Today’s customers want to feel like they are co-creators of their marketing campaigns. Collaborative marketing is what LMNts stands for”. – added Laura. To find out more about LMNts Marketing, visit their member profile or check out www.marketingfunnel.website

New Shareholder Announcement for Access2Funding COO Dawn Coker becomes shareholder with major stake in R&D Tax Relief Specialist Access2Funding, whilst announcing over £11.7m tax savings to businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic began

“As a team, we are thrilled to be assisting businesses across the UK to remain sustainable, and to have provided funding support of over £11.7m throughout this extremely difficult year.” Dawn Coker goes on to say:

Access2Funding have announced a change in ownership with their Chief Operating Officer Dawn Coker, becoming a shareholder with a major stake in the business.

“Personally, I’m really proud of what Access2Funding has achieved since the start of 2020. To be in the position that we can provide career opportunities within a recession, makes me feel extremely honoured to become a shareholder.”

This announcement is alongside the news that the Research and Development Tax Relief specialists have returned over £11.7m in tax savings to SMEs since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This milestone contributes to the expansion of Access2Funding across the UK, who have welcomed 26 new staff members since March 2020. The company is set to triple their team by the end of the year and are currently hiring for new positions in business development, marketing and accounts.

Access2Funding boast a 100% claim success rate, recently turning around an R&D Tax Claim in 24-hours, resulting in £43,000 return for one small business. Alongside this, the Access2Funding team successfully claimed a huge £2.5m back for one large manufacturing business through the R&D initiative.

The first is for SMEs that have under 500 employees and €100million turnover (they may be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme). Those businesses with over 500 employees and €100million turnover may be eligible for the similar RDEC Tax scheme. If you’re interested about whether your business projects may be eligible for tax savings or cash returns, contact Access2Funding 0333 990 0125 www.access2funding.co.uk n Dawn Coker, Chief Operating Officer at Acces2Funding

There are two tax relief initiatives from HMRC that Access2Funding claim using their expertise on the behalf of businesses.

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MEMBERS NEWS

The £21m redevelopment of a leading college will boost the visitor economy and commercial centre of Wrexham When Coleg Cambria opens the doors to the new extension at its Yale site later this year, students and visitors will experience a hub focused on the creative industries, technical learning, industry partnerships and skills that will be crucial as the country emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic. As well as the hairdressing and beauty therapy training academy salon, there will be a new floristry shop, revolutionary kitchen and restaurant, theatre, study spaces, IT suites and a 200-seat conference hall. Alex Thomas, Assistant Principal for Technical Studies at Yale, said the college’s connection to the town will be even stronger when the development, undertaken by Bodelwyddan-based Wynne Construction, is unveiled this November. “The new building is incredible and will see our current and future students learn and

Chester BID launches Chester Gift Card in a move to pay it forward and save the high street this Christmas Chester BID has announced the launch of the Chester Gift Card – as part of the city’s battleplan to save the high street shops from suffering from the lockdown at one of the year’s busiest shopping periods. The Chester Gift Card can be spent at over 100 retailers, leisure suppliers and restaurants and bars across the city centre. It is a pre-paid Mastercard that acts as a local currency for anything from a coffee to a night in a hotel, an experience or a shopping spree. Cards are purchased online and delivered directly to the recipient. Carl Critchlow, Chester BID Manager said: ‘It is no surprise to anyone that our city centre is in peril. We’ve struggled through the first lockdown and despite a decent summer, the Tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool combined

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enjoy the most amazing technology and services in a warm, welcoming and modern environment,” said Mr Thomas. “It will also play a big role in supporting the region’s visitor economy, as there is a renewed focus on developing learners’ essential commercial skills which are vital for employment in the sector. “Giving them a feel for their future careers is vital, which is why hospitality and catering students are training in a first-class restaurant kitchen, the floristry students will be selling the bouquets and displays they create, and we already have the hair and beauty salon and academy and travel and tourism here.

He added: “The creative industries, like tourism, will be key drivers in North Wales and students joining us will have the very best technology at their disposal when it comes to film, music, journalism and more. “It’s important that when the economy begins to bounce back, we have the skilled workers ready to take on these jobs, and the best place to help lay those foundations is Coleg Cambria.” The college will also be delivering more flexible courses at different points throughout the year, which will be particularly invaluable for those people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic or are looking to reskill and take a different professional path. For more information on the range of courses and qualifications available at Coleg Cambria, visit the website: www.cambria.ac.uk

“Yale will be a living and breathing hub for academia and industry, which will have a huge knock-on effect for Wrexham and the surrounding area, at an important time following the challenges of past months.” with the Wales lockdown left our footfall and city businesses in dire straits. The national lockdown is necessary of course, and we fully support the move to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed. However, it has come at a disastrous time – the time of year when our businesses usually reap the financial benefits of the start of the busy Christmas period.’ ‘Anecdotally, I’ve heard people say, ‘I don’t want to buy my Christmas presents from Amazon, I want to support my high street’. Many aren’t sure how to ensure they are putting the money directly into the hands of the independent businesses they want to

support. The Chester Gift Card offers a simple way to do just that. It also means if you don’t know what gift to buy, this gives the recipient options from across the city, from clothing to beauty services, afternoon teas to cocktails.’ The Chester Gift Card is part of a wellestablished Town and City Gift Cards Programme from Scottish fintech Miconex. It has been rolled across other UK cities including Glasgow and Bath, where the support to the city’s businesses has been invaluable. Over £1.5 million has been spent through Town and City Gift Cards since the first programme was introduced in Perth in 2015. Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex explained: ‘It’s a socially conscious gift choice. £34.56 is the average purchase price for our local gift cards, and we usually see 65% spent on top of the value of the gift card. It also encourages city wide experiences as people will be more experimental if they’re given a Chester Gift Card. The money spent will be directly locked into Chester’s economy and help businesses, and the individuals and families that own and work for them, overcome what has been a desperately hard year.’ The Chester Gift Card is available to purchase at www.chestergiftcard.com and can be preloaded with anything from £5 to £500.


FEATURE

24 hours with... Joe Swiffen

Owner of Mynydd Sleddog Adventures Ltd n Joe Swiffen with Sirus (The Destroyer!).

A brief overview of your role and company I am the owner, Company Director, Adventure Leader and general dog’s body for Mynydd Sleddog Adventures Ltd. I am responsible for the day to day management and development of the business. I look after finances, promote the business, lead our adventures, look after and train our dogs. I am also mum to a characterful four-year-old and Company Secretary for my husband’s business, so my days are never dull! Can you tell us a short overview of an average day at work? There is no ‘average day’ at work; it is varied, often challenging and changes regularly. First thing in the morning, I prepare breakfast or pre-run hydration for the dogs. They are housed in the ‘dog room’ at night and sleep in individual beds, so they are lucky enough to have ‘breakfast in bed’ (which is something I can only long for!). Once fed, the dogs venture out to their secure free run area, where they can play and do their morning business, while I ‘spruce up’ their beds, wash the feeding bowls and make sure the food preparation area is clean… oh and then pick up poop! After free run time, our dogs are housed in groups of 2 - 4 in secure indoor pens, with home-built kennels filled with straw for bedding.

This is all before having a cup of tea or breakfast myself…and then it’s time to get the little one ready for school and embark on the school run. If we have an adventure booked, then after the school run its time to load the dogs into the van and drive to our forest site near Llyn Brenig and Alwen Reservoir, where we offer a range of adventures including a high adrenaline ride on our passenger rig with one of our six dog teams. Once the adventure is complete, I clean our equipment, pack up the van and venture home. The dogs then have more free run time, while I disinfect and clean the pens. They all return to their pens with a nice chunk of salmon, lamb or beef as a treat for their hard work in the forest and then settle for a couple of hours, while grab a bite to eat and then undertake the school run. Later in the evening its time for feedings, which is usually a tasty bone dinner, followed by a full tummy snooze and then last wees before bed in the dog room. When I am not working in the forest or training the dogs on our land, I am working in the office, catching up with emails, liaising with our web developers, maintaining our social media pages and promoting the business.

Have you had to adapt your business as a result of the coronavirus outbreak? If so how? As a fledgling business that started trading in December 2019, the pandemic has been an extremely worrying time, especially with 16 working sled dogs to feed and no income. The initial lockdown meant we had to close in March but this gave us the opportunity to work with our amazing Web Developers and create a brand-new website, which is awesome. I also worked with a fantastic local film company, who created some fantastic show reels to help promote our business online. We reopened in September and the bookings came flying in. However, then our recent local lockdown slowed everything down again as we are now only able to offer adventures to local residents. Luckily Welsh Government confirmed that children are now allowed to cross borders to undertake sporting activities, which is a huge relief for us. It has been a real rollercoaster journey but one that we will continue to ride for as long as possible in the hope that we can get through it.

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NEW MEMBERS

ABCampbell Quality Auditor 07726 114569 ALLS Consultancy Ltd Graig Farm Buildings Graig Road Denbigh Denbighshire LL16 5US 07788 494948 http://www.alls.co.uk ATLAS COPCO TOOLS AND INDUSTRIAL ASSEMBLY SOLUTIONS Swallowdale Lane Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire HP2 7EA 08436 366666 Betterware Global Ltd Unit 4 Westminster Industrial Estate Rossfield Road Ellesmere Port Cheshire CH65 3DU 01513 184665 http://www.betterware.co.uk CH1ChesterBID 9 Lower Bridge Street Chester Cheshire CH1 1RS 01244 403680 http://www.ch1chesterbid.co.uk Connect Build Transform 07951 586517 https://www.cbtnw.co.uk/ ePay Merchant Services 114-120 Northgate Street Chester Cheshire CH1 2HT 01244 955444 https://www.savewithepay.com Evolve HR Solutions Ltd 07775 756603 https://www.evolvehrsolutions.co.uk Fast Workforce Wellness 07715 104812 https://fastwaytofitness.info/workforce-wellness First Phase IT 2 Chesney Court Wrexham Technology Park Wrexham LL137YP 01244 747888 http://www.firstphase.it

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Welcome to WCNW Chamber of Commerce

Fytotec Limited 1 Hartford Way Sealand Industrial Estate Chester Cheshire CH1 4NT 07515 930923 https://www.fytotec.com Geoff Hobbs Consultants 07977 249458 Green Global Energy Limited 03339 963558 http://www.greenglobal-energy.com Handbridge Accountancy Solutions 01244 674823 http://www.handbridgeaccountants.co.uk Hopson Caravan Services Ltd Shangreen Mold Road Buckley Flintshire CH7 2NU 07340 732575 http://www.hopsoncaravans.co.uk

Lucas Oil Products UK Ltd Unit 4 Cunliffe Drive Llangefni Industrial Estate Llangefni Isle of Anglesey LL77 7JA 01248 723666 http://www.lucasoil.co.uk Lucro Solutions 203 Queens Drive Nantwich Cheshire CW5 5LB 07478 484834 https://www.lucrosolutions.co.uk Northwich BID 34 Clarence Drive Northwich Cheshire CW8 2EQ 01606 723175 https://northwichbid.co.uk/

Ocean Bay Seafoods Ltd Holland Park Industrial Estate Holyhead ImagoHR Isle of Anglesey 07713 976658 LL65 2PU http://www.imagohr.com 01407 763933 https://oceanbayseafoods.co.uk/ In Professional Development Suite 6A Play Pizzazz Education Coaching and Blackthorn House Consultancy Appley Bridge Wigan 07927 600078 Lancashire http://www.playpizzazz.com WN6 9DB 01615 092999 Rage Fitness Company http://www.inpd.co.uk Blacon Adventure Playground J. Jervis Accounting Services Ltd 37 Crogen Chirk Wrexham LL14 5BN 01691 774431 https://jervisaccountingservices.co.uk

Riello UPS Ltd Unit 50 Clywedog Road North Wrexham Industrial Estate Wrexham LL13 9XN 01978 729296

Jayne Clarke Lettings & Property Management Ltd 01244 760067 http://www.jayneclarkelettings.com Lead IN 01244 455722

Kipling Road Blacon Chester Cheshire CH1 5UU 07513 182855 https://www.ragefitnesscompany.com/


Welcome to WCNW Chamber of Commerce

Rimini Systems Regus House Heronsway Chester Business Park Chester Cheshire CH4 9QR 07852 909093 http://www.riminisystems.com Sandler Training - Merseyside 01519 091881 https://www.merseyside.sandler.com Sea Kayaking UK Ltd Canada Gardens Morrison Crescent Holyhead Isle of Anglesey LL65 2SZ 01407 765550 https://www.seakayakinguk.com Shiny Wood Ltd 07788 277299 https://www.shinywood.uk/ Stand Out 07721 657431 https://standoutstandout.wixsite.com/standout Storengy UK Ltd Stublach Site King Street Northwich Cheshire CW9 7SE 01606 815300 https://www.storengy.co.uk/ The HR Dept Wrexham and Chester Dalton House 35 Chester St Wrexham LL13 8AH 01978 884328 https://www.hrdept.co.uk/wrexham-chester/ Tiger Tim Products Rhosesmor Industrial Estate Rhosesmor Mold Flintshire CH7 6PZ 01352 780861 http://www.tigertimproducts.co.uk/

Are you maximising your Chamber membership? Follow these simple steps to ensure that you are getting the most out of your Chamber membership 1. Update your business profile in our online directory Profiles that have logos, descriptions and website and social media links stand out from the crowd so be sure to add these to your directory profile.

NEW MEMBERS

but this has not stopped us bringing businesses together! Our Round the Screen Networking events give members an opportunity to build new connections and promote their business. 4. Advertise your events/workshops/ webinars Got an event coming up that you want to promote to other Members? Be sure to add it to our website. Your event will then in our weekly events update which is sent to all Members for the four weeks leading up to your event. 5. Add and browse Member to Member offers Take advantage of special offers and discounts from fellow Members or create your own to build interest in your products and services. 6. Editorial opportunities Send any news that you might have; we will then post this on our website and share on our social media streams.

Login to your profile on our Portal and download your Membership logo and display on your website, email signature etc.

All news items are then considered to feature in our monthly newsletter and the magazine you are currently reading! This means that one news story has the potential to reach over 10,000 contacts!

3. Check out our series of Round the Screen Networking events

Need advice on how to take advantage of the above benefits?

In normal circumstances, the Chamber holds regular networking events throughout the region which are a great way for you to make connections with likeminded business people.

We host a monthly Maximising your Membership meeting where you will be talked through all of the above and be able to ask any questions about the benefits available to you. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month (currently held online) and you can book your place via our website (www.wcnwchamber.org.uk/events).

2. Download your membership logo

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WHAT I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT Adoption Matters is a registered children’s charity and one of the largest voluntary adoption agencies (VAA) in the UK. They recruit, train and support individuals and families as adopters and offer them ongoing support and training for as long as they need it. “Right now, across the UK, there are over 2,4001 children waiting for adoption. Some children wait longer than others, at Adoption Matters we are passionate about helping change that”. Adoption Matters wants to help people realise adoption could be something for them and are part of a national #YouCanAdopt campaign which aims to break down barriers and misconceptions about who is eligible to adopt. “People can adopt from a variety of backgrounds, including single people, those from all religions, people from the LGBTQ+ and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities”. Earlier this year, a new report2 revealed that over four in ten (45%) adults in the UK have considered adoption or would consider adoption in the future. But, despite this, over six in 10 (62%) adults do not feel they know much about the adoption process and this lack of knowledge may contribute to many people not taking the important first step. The latest figures show1 that the number of adoptions in England has fallen by a third in the past four years and the number of children waiting has risen and the length of time they wait has increased.

only way of creating a family. I have known since I was a little girl that I would adopt my children and they are all incredible. It was very important that my children keep their culture and heritage – our house is full of African art; we fill our shelves with books which have Black main characters; we cook Tanzanian food, we still speak Swahili and we will always return to Tanzania for our holidays. I found Adoption Matters to be really great. They were very open minded and supportive as I am sure other agencies may have been sceptical about us adopting a sixth child (and they also helped us adopt the most precious little girl in existence!) I can honestly say that adoption is without a doubt, the best thing I ever did (6 times over!). I would never want to create a family in any other way. If you have love in your heart, have strength and passion to support a child no matter what, then adoption could be the right path for you.” Adoption Matters Chief Executive, Norman Goodwin CBE, is a member of the

National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group, supported by the Department for Education, who joined forces to launch the nationwide #YouCanAdopt recruitment campaign. Norman comments: “We hope that the campaign will help challenge some of the myths that still exist around adoption. There is a very wide range of people who have the motivation, commitment and love to be a great parent and there are many children who are waiting. Here at Adoption Matters, we have worked hard to ensure that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we are here for people interested in adoption and to continue to offer support to our families and children. We want to continue to encourage people to think about expanding their family or starting their family through adoption. The thing you need most is the time, love and commitment to offer a child or children”. To find out more about adoption, download an information pack on their website at www.adoptionmatters.org or contact them on: Tel 0300 123 1066

46% of the 2,400 children waiting wait 18 months or more for an adoptive family, which for a young child is just too long. Children of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage wait longer than any other children with average wait times from 24-28 months. Amy & Ben from Bolton share their amazing story of adopting six children. Amy comments: “Ben and I adopted a baby girl through Adoption Matters and she is just amazing and keeps us highly entertained every single day! We also have five other adopted children who we adopted in Tanzania (none are biological siblings – they were five separate adoptions). Our children are all Black African and we are white British so our story is not a ‘typical’ one. We chose adoption as our first and References

1. Department of Education. Children looked after in England including adoption: 2018 to 2019 (Dec 2019) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childrenlooked after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019 Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board Headline measures and Business intelligence. (Dec 2019) https://coram-i.org.uk/resource/local-level-data quarter-4-2018-2019/ 2. Opinium surveyed 2,006 adults (aged 21-60) between 10th – 15th January 2020

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West Cheshire & North Wales Business Magazine January 2021  

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Latest Local Business Issues, National Business News, Accountancy and Fiscal Manag...

West Cheshire & North Wales Business Magazine January 2021  

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Latest Local Business Issues, National Business News, Accountancy and Fiscal Manag...

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