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Together, We’re Well Connected Quarterly Business Magazine


Director of Global Business Networks British Chambers of Commerce

Spring 2021

British Chambers of Commerce Ac

c r e d it e d



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Welcome to the Spring edition of our Quarterly Business magazine The end of 2020 was welcomed by many, but the start to the new year has continued to be extremely challenging for businesses. New Coronavirus restrictions were introduced and, although new support measures were announced, 2021 is, unfortunately, going to be another challenging year. The Chamber network continues to press the government for a clear support package for the whole of 2021, and we want to reassure you that we are here to support your business in any way possible. You can find links to Coronavirus business support on our website, or if you have any issues, you’d like to raise with us, please email info@wcnwchamber.org.uk or call 01244 69988. Not only have businesses been battling with new Coronavirus restrictions, but they have also had to adapt to new procedures following the end of the UK-EU transition period. An agreement between the UK and EU has been made, but there are still many changes that have come into effect since 1st January. Here at the Chamber, we have launched a range of new International Trade support, funded by Cheshire West & Chester Council, to help businesses adapt to these recent changes. The support includes a programme of events,

a helpline and additional 1-2-1 support. To take advantage of these new services, please register your interest on our website https://wcnwchamber.org.uk/post-brexit-support/. Despite these challenging times, there is optimism ahead as the vaccination programme continues. Hopefully, this will lead to an ease in restrictions that will allow us to welcome members back to physical networking events and we will update you when the time comes. The new year has brought a significant milestone for the Chamber as we mark 100 years of providing business support to organisations across the region. This is an incredible achievement and something that we are keen to celebrate with you, our members, throughout the year. We have some exciting plans to mark the occasion, so please be sure to keep an eye out for updates on our news and events channels, we would love our members to be part of our celebrations! As we celebrate our success in supporting businesses, the team and I are here if you need us and we look forward to working with you in 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





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







Published March 2021 © Benham Publishing Media no. 1751

Anne-Marie Martin

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

THE BIG INTERVIEW Director of Global Business Networks British Chambers of Commerce

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. © 2021. 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.

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


100 West Cheshire & North Wales

Chamber of Commerce Together, We’re Well Connected.

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visit our website to see our latest news and ways to join our centenary events. i n fo @ wc nwc h a m b e r.o rg . u k

wcnwch amb er.o rg . u k


Danny Milton receiving his award in February 2020

Apprenticeship Spotlight with Danny Milton The Chamber was recently proud to be the headline sponsor for Cheshire College – South & West’s Apprenticeship Awards, as part of National Apprenticeship week. Apprenticeship levels range from Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) right the way up to Level 6 and 7 (equivalent to Bachelor’s or master’s degree) and it’s not uncommon for Apprentices to finish one level and then progress on to the next as they continually look to expand their knowledge in their chosen field. At last year’s Apprenticeship Awards, the Chamber’s Marketing Apprentice, Danny Milton, won the Apprenticeship in Sales, Marketing and Creative Industries Award for his creative flair in marketing ideation. Danny completed his Level 2 Marketing NVQ last year and is now studying his Level 3 Marketing Apprenticeship. We caught up with him to find out how he’s been getting on... Hi Danny, lovely to speak to you! Do you mind talking us through your Apprenticeship journey and your current role? I initially completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Marketing which took a year and I have now progressed onto a Level 3 qualification. Working for West

Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, my main responsibilities are to assist the Marketing Manager in promoting the business, increasing awareness and generating leads. West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce are a great company to work for as the work is always so varied as the marketing team work closely with every department so each day is different! And what made you pursue a Marketing Apprenticeship? I was searching for Apprenticeships within Digital Marketing and Design on the Government website and came across this particular apprenticeship which was perfect! It’s such a varied role that allows me to improve and learn skills all the time. What new skills and knowledge have you learnt during your Apprenticeship? I’ve learnt more about how businesses operate as we work with many local companies and help support them thrive. I have also learnt and improved marketing specific skills too such as photography, email marketing, video editing, design, communication and organisational skills.

How does Cheshire College – South & West support you throughout your Apprenticeship? The College supported me throughout my Level 2 Apprenticeship and continue to do so on a regular basis whilst I’m completing my Level 3. Even in these tough circumstances normal workplace meetings have moved online and there is always plenty of support available through my assessor. How did it feel winning an Apprenticeship Award last year? It was great to receive the award, I didn’t expect it at all, but it shows that a willingness to learn and progress was recognised! Why should other learners consider an Apprenticeship? I implore any young person to consider completing an Apprenticeship as it gives you real world experience whilst gaining a qualification. Most employers will look at your experience and that could be the key to you getting the job you want over other candidates. Do you have any wise words or advice for the winners of this year’s Awards? Just keep up the hard work!

You can find out more about Apprenticeships at Cheshire College – South & West here: https://www.ccsw.ac.uk/apprenticeships/.



West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber – helping businesses in West Cheshire/North Wales to access the Kickstart Scheme West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is an approved Gateway for local employers helping them to access the Government’s £2bn Kickstart Government scheme, which offers young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit, a six-month funded job placement. The Chamber is pleased to be acting as a Gateway for local employers, helping to remove the administrative burden of the application process and handling government funding.

Supporting 10 Young People into Jobs Through Kickstart ePay Merchant Services is a payment services provider based in Chester with years of experience supporting small to medium size businesses to accept card payments in-store, online or on the go, whether they are new to card payments, or are looking to switch provider. ePay Merchant Services are members of the WCNW Chamber of Commerce and through this have been able to play a vital role in supporting young people into jobs through the Government’s Kickstart scheme. The Kickstart Scheme, which launched in early September 2020, is an innovative method of helping young people on Universal Credit get into, or back into, employment. The government will fund 100% of job placements for 16-24 year olds through this scheme, covering National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week.

Since the Scheme launched in September 2020, we have had enquiries from 280 businesses – both members and non-members of the Chamber – offering a wide range of roles in sectors including digital media, manufacturing, sales and marketing, science and technology, construction, finance and hospitality.

There is still plenty of time to get involved please contact us - https://www. surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WCNWKickstart or email enquiries to kickstart@wcnwchamber.org.uk.

Gary Cameron, Managing Director, says “Thanks to the scheme, this has enabled us to expand; therefore, we have a new office space in the Ellesmere Port Technology Centre. I am from Ellesmere Port, so I feel proud to give something back to the community. We want to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work. We are currently looking for 10 people; Telesales Advisors and Lead Generators to work in our Ellesmere Port office; it’s in a great location, which has parking and is accessible by public transport.”

If you are aged between 16 - 24 years and claiming universal credits and want to be part of a company who will value the work you do and offer training and support, then please contact your local Jobcentre.

Job Roles Available: Stephen Drumm, Director of Sales at ePay, says “We are delighted to be taking part in the Kickstart scheme and are keen to play a significant role in the community and contribute to the post-pandemic recovery of local businesses. We have already helped dozens of local retailers with payment solutions to help them keep revenue coming in lockdown with a pivot to online sales, contactless payment and click and collect. “This will not only help support local people developing their skills in the workplace; it


The Kickstart scheme has many advantages as it enables the employer to hire individuals for six months, whilst being fully funded by the government. It gives access to a large pool of individuals, aged between 16-24, who may be recent graduates or have relevant experience.

Stephen adds “All successful candidates will benefit from the company’s fantastic induction process and will be trained thoroughly and coached effectively. They will get the opportunity to attend an industry-specific training course that will provide individuals with the right tools to be successful in card payments.”

We are delighted that our first employers have started their Kickstart placements in February with many more currently going through the recruitment process. 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. We are delighted with the engagement we’ve had from employers so far and I’d encourage those who haven’t done so to take advantage of this initiative as it could be a catalyst to transform the future of thousands of young people in our region.”

will also help build our growing business with a bigger support team. Kickstart is a great way of getting people into work. We are a people-centred business, so we hope the ten people we take on enjoy their roles in the business and grow with us.”

Lead Generator: Generating new leads for the business and aim to maximise the potential from each call with an excellent telephone manner and upbeat outlook. Telesales Advisors: Receive a steady stream of leads to follow up on booked appointments. You will be speaking with merchants to offer the best payment solutions for their business. Please contact Sandra Bretherton on jobs@savewithepay.com or phone 01244 955444 for further information about the roles.


First Kickstart Placement recruited for Chamber Member

Cheshire Cat Marketing are the first West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Member to recruit a Kickstart placement. Cheshire Cat Marketing are a close-knit woman-led marketing agency helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to grow their business, drive more traffic to their website, build communities around their brands, and ultimately increase enquiries and sales. Established three years ago by Darren and Rhiannon Birch, they set out to offer affordable and flexible marketing support to SMEs across the UK, while also creating a workplace that inspires creativity and out-the-box thinking. Their new Kickstart placement started their role at the end of February and has joined their

already strong social media team to create content for channels like TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and assist with community and competition management. They will also be developing their skills in other areas of marketing, like content writing, SEO and email marketing, to help them widen their skillset. Rhiannon Birch, Co-Founder & Queen of Creative at Cheshire Cat Marketing, said “I am really passionate about helping people to kickstart their dream careers as so many people struggle to find a role in their chosen industry after completing

their degree. It’s a nasty cycle where they need more experience to get paid roles but cannot get the experience. This has been made even harder by the recent coronavirus pandemic. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome and train passionate young people and are extremely excited to get started. My team and I focus so heavily on our clients that our own marketing often falls behind, so I’m looking forward to giving our new team member some creative freedom to play, learn and develop while working on our own brand.”

If you are interested in the Kickstart Scheme and want to register your interest, please complete this form: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WCNWKickstart or email kickstart@wcnwchamber.org.uk.



n L to R: Bethan Fraser-Williams, Commercial Contracts Manager at Menter Môn, Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, Pryderi Ap Rhisiart, Managing Director at M-SParc and Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director at Menter Môn.

Menter Môn and M-SParc become Patron Members of the Chamber Following nearly two years of Chamber membership, the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce that both organisations have solidified their relationship with the Chamber via Patron membership. The Enteprise Hub @ M-SParc is one of five Enterprise Hubs across Wales, funded by European Regional Development Funding through the Welsh Government and is run in partnership between Menter Môn and M-SParc. Menter Môn, based in Llangefni, Anglesey, is a not-for-profit company providing solutions to the challenges facing rural Wales. Menter Môn works with businesses, communities and individuals to deliver meaningful projects that harness their strengths and contribute to a sustainable future. M-SParc is Wales’ first dedicated Science Park, owned by Bangor University and providing space and business support for companies in the low carbon, energy and environment, ICT and life science sectors. The move sees the partnership join the Chamber’s growing list of Patron members


and will lead to a close and strong relationship between the organisations, enabling the Hub to raise awareness of their diverse services and support to businesses. The Enterprise Hub @ M-SParc and the Chamber have been collaborating over the past 12 months running the North Wales Start-Up Club. This Start-Up Club has enabled businesses in operation for under two years to meet via monthly virtual meetings to share best practice and hear from industry experts on key topics. As part of the Chamber’s 100th year of supporting business, the Chamber has also recently announced that it had opened its first office in North Wales, in the Enterprise Hub’s flagship location at M-SParc. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Chamber to be even closer to its North Wales members and allow both organisations to work even closer going forward. “Menter Môn and M-SParc are very proud of the success of our collaboration with the Chamber, the culmination of which sees them opening a new Chamber office here at the Enterprise Hub.

“We are also delighted to become Patron Members. “Having the Chamber team on site will allow us to collaborate even more closely on projects, encouraging innovation and international trade, support local businesses, encourage start-ups, and celebrating the depth, breadth, and success of the region. There is so much we can do together,” said Bethan FraserWilliams, Commercial Contracts Manager at Menter Môn. Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, is thrilled to welcome the Enterprise Hub as Patron members of the Chamber. “We have been working closely with Bethan and the team at Menter Môn and M-Sparc for some time now, and their passion and commitment to supporting business is truly commendable.” “We are really looking forward to what the future holds, and our new office based in M-SParc will give us a great platform to further support businesses in North Wales as we work closely with Menter Môn and M-SParc to improve growth and prosperity; in the region.” For more information about the Enteprise Hub @ M-SParc visit hwbmenter.cymru. To find out more about becoming a Patron or Strategic member of the Chamber, please visit our website (www.wcnwchamber.org.uk) or call 01244 669988.


Protos Networks Awarded Cisco Premier Integrator Status Protos Networks has strengthened its ties with network and cyber security giant Cisco, confirming that its certification has been upgraded to Cisco Premier Integrator – a programme acknowledging ‘leadership and investment through a variety of performance and opportunity incentives’. The Chesterbased networks and cyber security services provider is already an established Cisco Premier Partner, and this latest progression underlines its burgeoning reputation as one of Cisco’s trusted advisers. “Being recognised as a member of the Cisco Integrator programme represents a significant step forward for us, and we are proud of the close relationship we continue to share with Cisco” commented Joe Joinson, Managing Director at Protos Networks. “Our team leads the way in delivering the innovative technologies Cisco has to offer, and, as a Premier Integrator”. Achieving the status of Cisco Premier Integrator is one of the highest accolades afforded to Cisco Partners, serving as

recognition that a firm is an expert in agile software, while also being able to combine integration services with the best software and solutions to help customers meet their challenges and digital initiatives. Cisco Integrators have access to various benefits, including grants and increased visibility, and access to new software and licences which can be tested internally. As such, membership of this elite group provides a launchpad for the likes of Protos Networks to substantially scale its business model. “As and when Cisco pioneers its latest technologies, we’ll be at the leading edge of delivering these, and we’re excited about the new opportunities this will bring - both for ourselves, and our customers” Joinson said. “2021 is set to be a year of major expansion for us – both in terms of strengthening our team, and our product shelf – this certification gives us an excellent platform from which to really move the needle.”

Employer Challenge Days: Developing Staff Resilience. The Ministry of Defence Engagement Team are very keen to engage and develop relationships with supportive employers who are ‘Armed Forces friendly’. This support can take many forms and can add great value to the employer’s business by helping to develop staff members’ key transferable skills by attending ‘Employer Challenge’ events. This ‘engagement’ can also help to address the employers’ corporate social responsibilities to its workforce. The challenge events are open to employers that have signed the Armed Forces Covenant. They are intended to bring together employees from Industry for a challenging one or two-day ‘tailored’ event aimed at team building, leadership, planning and other skills that demonstrate the links between Industry and the Military trades.

The sessions can include: n Stress testing your managers / workforce n Encourage creative thinking n Developing team work n Promoting fitness, mental & physical wellbeing n Adapting to challenging planning exercises Recent examples of Challenge Days / Executive Stretch Exercises. Over the past three years, CECA (Civil Engineers Contractors Association) invited members to enter teams with a focus on developing the industries future leaders of engineering. Local Authorities in Wales have invited the military to run challenge days during the induction process of new apprentices.

General Dynamics, based in Merthyr Tydfil and Oakdale, joined the military for a day of activities focused on potential future managers. 203 Field Hospital, a Reserve Unit with bases throughout Wales, deliver ‘Medical Stretch’, a two-day exercise open to teams from the Unitary Health Boards and medical profession. If you are an employer and are interested in finding out more about the Employer Challenge days or the Armed Forces Covenant please contact:

Tony Fish Regional Employer Engagement Director (North Wales) Tel: 01352 755309 Mob: 07508 193902 Email: wa-reed2@rfca.mod.uk


Bank doubles funding for female entrepreneurs to £2 billion

access to the Government lending schemes through digital channels, combined with the effects of the pandemic has led to many more female entrepreneurs applying for funding. The bank’s share of lending to female founders has not only increased in absolute terms, but proportionately risen from 9.5% to 14% of total lending.

NatWest has announced an additional £1 billion in funding to help support female-led businesses in the UK recover from disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will enable female entrepreneurs to scale and grow their businesses, and builds on the bank’s £1bn funding commitment announced last January which was the largest intervention by a UK lender focused specifically on female-led businesses.


1 in 10 female entrepreneurs plan to start a business in 2021;


55% of female business leaders would not recommend starting a business in their sector in 2021;


Female entrepreneurs and business owners are 17% more likely to struggle balancing business with family life during the pandemic;

Because of the extraordinary impacts of the pandemic, the bank has seen exceptionally high demand from female-led businesses and has exceeded £1bn of lending in under 12 months. The availability and ease of


Nearly three quarters (71%) of female business owners and entrepreneurs found managing their business stressful during the pandemic, compared with just over half of males (55%).

The effects of coronavirus

Sarah Bailey, Director of Business Banking at NatWest, said: “As we continue to support businesses and our communities as we come out of the pandemic, it’s absolutely vital that we support entrepreneurs. Our research shows that female entrepreneurs will have an important role to play in building back the economy and we know this funding is an important step in ensuring this happens.”

Recent research commissioned by the bank in conjunction with YouGov has revealed:


APC Cardiovascular lead the way in creating an active work environment! During these challenging times, APC Cardiovascular has stood firm on its commitment to supporting the mental and physical health and wellbeing of their employees and encouraging them to stay connected. Recognising the vital role physical activity can play the organisation ‘actively’ encourages colleagues to incorporate activity into their working days. Supported by Active Cheshire, APC Cardiovascular celebrated their 2020 ‘Wellbeing Week’ in style, they challenged colleagues to a step count competition, an ‘Active Hour’ contest – with colleagues sharing their creative ways of building physical activity into their days. The fun didn’t stop there, Active Cheshire’s ‘Active Chef’ Nont, Strategic Lead, ran a live virtual cookalong session to create a delicious Thai Green Curry and the team joined a virtual yoga session run by Janet at Cheshire Yoga and Fitness to get them up and active away from their homeworking space. The team also took the opportunity to go on independent walks and were challenged to find items and bring them onto a team call afterwards. Items included a leaf, twig, conker, rock and even a discarded jar of


pasta sauce! Additionally colleagues held a virtual cuppa and chat drop in session to check in on each other and catch up. Recognising the importance of supporting each other’s mental health at this difficult time, APC Cardiovascular colleagues were trained by Active Cheshire’s Mental Health Lead and Mental Health First Aid England instructor Roberta to successfully become Mental Health First Aid Trainers. A vital step in helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

In a sign of the continued commitment to colleague health and wellbeing, APC Cardiovascular have signed up to Active Workplace Pledge again in 2021 with exciting events, challenges and training on the agenda! Stephen Law-Lyons, Managing Director at APC Cardiovascular said “We recognised that 2020 was no normal year, so we really wanted to support our team in the best way possible during these challenging times. The Wellbeing Week brought us all together and encouraged us to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. We are excited and committed to doing more of the same in 2021, with plans to do a further four wellbeing weeks throughout the year, along with other activities. We look forward to continuing to work with Active Cheshire to achieve our combined goals of being healthier and happier in 2021.” Roger Elliott, Active Workplace Lead at Active Cheshire said “This fantastic organisation sets a great example of how you can support the health and wellbeing of colleagues through physical activity. We’re delighted to continue to support them through the Active Workplace Pledge.”


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On Board with Becky Stark of advisers, and assisting companies with their strategic export development and day to day export challenges. I relocated to North Wales in 2005 with my family, and set up my own business, Stark Export Focus, which I am proud to have developed over the years. I offer international trade consultancy and training across the UK, and in addition to my work with the private sector, I am proud to work with the Chamber network and government agencies. What is your role as a Board Director? I was privileged to be appointed to the Board in 2019. Throughout my career, I have worked with the Chamber network, with Welsh Government, the Department for International Trade and Business Wales, along with many other strategic partners across the UK – whilst always having my finger on the pulse of industry. My role is to use my experience to offer guidance to the Chamber team in the development of strategic direction and the type of international trade support that might be offered to the fantastic businesses we have across West Cheshire and North Wales.

An introduction to yourself and your background I have been a member of the Institute of Export, MIEx (Grad), for over twenty years, and have been involved in international trade since I graduated from university. My early career was in the plastics industry, before moving into consumer goods. I enjoyed travelling around the world developing new business opportunities and learning about different cultures. The move to the service sector came after a trade mission to Turkey run by my local Chamber. I was engaged to manage a European funded project to help businesses to develop their international trade capabilities. Fast forward a couple of years and I was appointed Head of International Trade for UK Trade and Investment in Shropshire (now the DIT), managing a team

What are your aims over your tenure as a Board Director? Having assisted with the format, content and delivery of events and webinars in the build up to Brexit over the past few years, my primary focus is to continue working with the Chamber team to identify the challenges that businesses are facing as the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement is implemented (of which there are many!) and helping to develop further appropriate support and guidance to address these. In addition to events and webinars, the Chamber has an excellent international trade training programme and I hope that we can continue to tailor this to encourage as many businesses as possible to gain both skills and confidence in import and export practice (and compliance!). I am keen to support Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, and

the team in providing critical industry information that can be fed into the BCC network and other national agencies as they successfully lobby government. In the longer term, I would like to help the Chamber to harness the strength of the BCC Global Business Network and further develop relationships with both national and international partners to present new opportunities for businesses in our area. What has been your greatest achievement so far? Without question, the accolades for my examination performance for the Institute of Export. As their top prize-winner in 1998, I went on to serve an apprenticeship with the Company of World Traders in London, culminating in being made their youngest female Liveryman and subsequently being awarded the Freedom of the City of London. I even got to walk a sheep over London Bridge (not bad for a sheep farmer’s daughter!) and have tea with the Queen. But it’s not all about exams and rewards (though they are rather nice). I think that surviving the past twelve months of Brexit turmoil and COVID 19 and still being sane (just about) is quite an achievement, and, more importantly, knowing that I have been able to help so many companies on that journey. If you could go back and pass on one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be? Don’t be afraid to try new things - you are never too old to learn. I have always been open minded and ready to ‘have a go’ when unexpected opportunities have presented themselves - even if it has pushed me outside my comfort zone. It is not just about qualifications and professional development; it is also the life skills that we learn along the way which help to shape us as a person and the way we think and respond to people and situations. I have learned that it is okay to be me – not the person I thought people expected me to be. Life is a rollercoaster so learn to take the highs and the lows and enjoy the ride!



BCC Coronavirus Survey: cash remains top concern for lockdown-stricken firms across UK Results from the latest BCC survey on the impact of Coronavirus on businesses show they have been pushed to the brink by the effect of multiple lockdowns. Among the sobering findings from the survey of more than 1,100 businesses are: n

Three in every five firms (61%) have seen their revenue from UK customers fall in the last three months


Almost a third (31%) of business-toconsumer (B2C) firms say they will run out of cash in the next three months


A quarter of survey respondents (25%) say they will make staff redundant if financial support stops in March and April.

The leading business group has called on the UK government to set out a clear roadmap for reopening, advancing vaccination and workplace testing plans, and extending key financial support measures for businesses throughout 2021.

Business conditions worsen Compared to October 2020, 61% of firms reported decreased revenue from UK customers. Only 19% of firms reported increased revenue and 20% reported no change. B2C service firms are significantly more likely to report decreased revenue (74%) from UK customers, as are firms with less than 10 employees (65%). When asked approximately how long firms could continue until they ran out of cash, almost one-quarter (23%) said less than three months. This figure rises to almost onethird (31%) of B2C service firms. Just over one quarter (28%) of firms overall and only one-fifth (20%) of B2C firms have cash for more than 12 months.


The results paint a bleak picture of a business landscape which has been severely squeezed by repeated lockdowns and massive changes in trading conditions. The survey results also suggest that without the huge amount of government support given to companies to date, that business failures and job losses could have been much worse.

support ‘would have no impact on their business’, compared with 39% of B2B firms and 37% of manufacturers.

Crucially, more support is needed until firms can fully reopen, with just over a quarter (28%) of businesses indicating they have enough cash to last more than a year. On average, B2C firms are currently operating at only 42 per cent of full capacity, while all firms were averaging 57% capacity against a pre-pandemic level of 75 to 80 per cent. Almost half (48%) of companies reported they still have staff on furlough.

Rating the support from government When asked to rate the effectiveness of the various government schemes to support their business throughout the crisis, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), allowing firms to furlough staff, had by far the highest effectiveness rating. More than two-thirds (68%) using this scheme say that it has been very effective, with a further 28% rating it as somewhat effective. Only 4% said it was not effective. Other schemes with high effectiveness ratings included Government loan schemes (such as CBILS and BBLS) where 46% rated them ‘very effective’ and 44% rated them ‘somewhat effective’, and the local authority business grant scheme, where 45% rated it ‘very effective’ and 40% rated it ‘somewhat effective’. Business rates relief (49%), VAT deferrals (34%), VAT cuts for certain sectors of the economy (26%) were also rated as very effective.

What firms may do if support expires in March and April When asked what their business might do if the government support schemes end according to published timetable in March and April, 25% of firms overall said they would ‘make staff redundant’, 25% would ‘reduce staff hours’ and 19% would ‘cancel or reduce investment or recruitment plans’. Only 21% of B2C firms said the expiry of

Responding to the survey results, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “The last year has taken a heavy toll on businesses across the UK. With cash flow still the top concern, it is vital that the UK government keeps financial support going until firms can reopen and rebuild. Pulling the plug now would be a huge mistake, and would be akin to writing off the billions already spent helping firms to survive. “Firms are desperate to start trading again so they can boost revenue and start thinking about the future. To do so they need to see a clear, evidence-based plan for reopening, and they need time to get back on their feet without unnecessary additional taxes, and the security of knowing that Government will once again support them should we see additional restrictions imposed at any point. “In the meantime, support must remain in place for firms that need it until a full reopening of the economy is possible. With cashflow being a major challenge for many businesses, we can expect to see further redundancies or business failures should Government support end prematurely. “Alongside a clear roadmap for reopening, business confidence will also come from a commitment to further accelerate the vaccination programme and a wider workplace testing strategy that’s accessible to businesses of all sizes.”

CHAMBER EVENTS Phil then presented the attendees with videos that demonstrated the different processes they go through when making their furnishings, showing some of the final products including a cushion made from material offcuts.

Xplore! February’s Insight Into… event saw Chamber members take a virtual step through the door of the North Wales science and discovery centre, Xplore!. Based in Wrexham, Xplore! works with schools to enable pupils to immerse themselves in a world where science comes alive right in front of them. The centre also offers services to businesses, who can utilise meeting rooms and team building challenges.

Attendees get Insight Into fellow members at new networking event West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce welcomed members to its first “Insight Into…” events in January and February. At these virtual networking events,

attendees not only get the opportunity to connect with each other, but also get to know more about the diverse members of the Chamber. The first two events saw attendees gain an Insight Into Chamber members Jem Recycling and Xplore!.

Jem Recycling At our January event, Chamber members were given an Insight Into Jem Recycling, the Runcorn based recycling and waste management company. During the event, guests were joined by Phil Robinson, Managing Director at Jem Recycling, who spoke about his company and the work they do to help firms reduce their environmental waste, whilst also saving them time and money. Projects that Phil has worked on include creating processes that use tea waste for compost rather going to landfill, creating innovative processes that help firms reintroduce waste into their manufacturing procedures and even turning furniture offcuts into their own soft furnishings!

Katie Williams, Business Development & Stakeholder Engagement Officer at Xplore!, spoke to attendees about the centre’s offering of over 65 interactive science exhibits, in addition to live science shows. Katie then gave a tour around the centre giving attendees a feel of the different exhibits on offer. “I was delighted to be asked to give Chamber members a tour of Xplore!, although I won’t have done it justice with the online walk through; you really need to come and experience it for yourselves! From a day out with family and friends to a team building session with your colleagues - we’re encouraging everyone to make a pledge today to bring your team to Xplore!, to reconnect just as soon as we can” said Katie. Events and Young Chamber Manager at the Chamber, Jenny Davison, said about the events “We were so pleased to be able to give attendees the opportunity to connect with each other whilst also discovering more about fellow members. Thank you to both Phil and Katie for their insightful talks and tours, they were very enlightening!”

Helen Pullin Helps Members Maximise their Membership

April. As well as getting an insight into the membership benefits, it gives attendees the chance to meet new faces and learn about fellow members.”

The Chamber’s Membership Support Officer, Helen Pullin, has been helping members get the most out of their Chamber membership at monthly meetings. The Maximising your Membership Benefits events take place on the third Thursday of every month, and have been hosted online over the past year.

“We have also been joined by guest speakers who have gone into further details about specific benefits available to members, with more collaborations planned. I hope to see you on screen soon!”

Useful for new Chamber members, new staff at existing members and those that want a general refresh of the benefits available to

them, the meetings see Helen take attendees through the Chamber website and how they can maximise their profile in the Chamber’s online directory. Helen also explains how to manage your profile, add member events and special offers. “I’d highly recommend any member that wishes to learn more about the benefits available to them to join me at either of our next events on 18th March or 15th

Members can book onto a Maximising your Membership Benefits event on the Chamber website https://portal.wcnwchamber.org. uk/events.html.


Developing digital across the College… Learners at Cheshire College – South & West are also set to unlock their digital superpowers as part of a new partnership, backed by the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, with industrial visualisation pioneers Virtalis. In December 2020, Virtalis launched an Immersive Design Lab at the College containing advanced virtual and augmented reality equipment, such as the high-tech zSpace AIO Pro and Oculus Rift S with VR ready PCs – all of which is powered by their virtual reality software, Visionary Render.

Cheshire College is dedicated to developing digital for all Developing digital across the community… The importance of digital skills and access to technology has never been more apparent than it is today and Cheshire’s largest provider of post-16 education, Cheshire College – South & West, is on a mission to support the community with their new five-year project, ‘The Digital Hub’. Designed specifically to boost digital skills, enhance career pathways and develop confidence, The Digital Hub project is set to benefit further-education learners, schoolchildren, businesses and the wider community with increased access to technology. Running until 2025, The Digital Hub comprises of three main strands, ‘Digital Doorstep’, ‘Project 4.0’ and ‘STREAM’, and is being delivered in collaboration with Warrington and Vale Royal College, UTC Warrington and several local businesses including Code Nation and Virtalis. Karen Roberts, Project Lead and Assistant Principal – Apprenticeship and Employer Engagement, commented: “I am delighted that Cheshire College – South & West is able to facilitate access to new technology, in order to empower businesses and participants alike to gain confidence in digital applications.


“Innovation is at the heart of our ambitions and working closely with various stakeholders, we are driven and committed to upskilling and reskilling existing workforces.” The first strand of the project, Digital Doorstep, aims to deliver skills and career pathways in additive manufacturing and Virtual and Augmented Reality through the use of portable, entry level equipment in local schools, colleges and businesses. Over the five-year project, it is expected that over 50,000 learners will benefit from access to the equipment, inspiring more young people than ever to progress onto higherlevel courses and skilled employment. The second strand of The Digital Hub, Project 4.0, focuses on digital skills in the workplace with an emphasis on improving Advanced Manufacturing Skills to expand digital infrastructures, upskill and reskill existing workforces and promote digital as a career choice. The newest project strand, ‘STREAM’, facilitates access to technology within community organisations to raise awareness and develop confidence in digital applications. Equipment includes laptops, smart mobile phones and live streaming systems and there has been lots of activity to date with Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Supported by funding from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund, the partnership was formed as part of a £5 million programme of investment that has prioritised Cheshire College – South & West as one of the further education providers in the region best placed to deliver digital and STEM-related training and education. Mark Parsons, Assistant Principal – Curriculum, said: “Virtual and augmented reality is touching on our everyday work, education and social lives. It is already beginning to revolutionize a number of industries from healthcare and retail to engineering and this method of teaching and learning will become increasingly effective as new technologies emerge. I am extremely excited to see our learners continuously benefit from the partnership we have developed with Virtalis.” The new equipment from Virtalis will be utilised by various departments across the College’s three Campuses in Crewe, Ellesmere Port and Chester, benefitting a wide range of learners including those studying Engineering, Construction and the Built Environment, Hospitality and Catering, Visual Arts, Media and Games and Health and Social Care. Clare Hayward, MBE, Chair of the Cheshire Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, said; “We are thrilled to support the creation of this exciting partnership between the College and Virtalis, which I am sure will help to develop students’ skills and develop our region’s talent base. “Harnessing the power of the digital economy and creating a workforce with the skills employers need is one of our highest priorities at the LEP and we look forward to seeing this initiative flourish. The Design Lab and the new Digital Hub at the College are part of a £5m programme of investment we are making in digital skills, which will reach more than 50,000 students and over 3,000 businesses.” To find out more about The Digital Hub and how you can get involved, email employers@ccsw.ac.uk or call 01270 654638 (Crewe Campus) / 01244 656455 (Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses).

PATRON NEWS included the move to buy Winsford Cross Shopping Centre and take control of its future.

New Directory for West Cheshire Businesses Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Business Growth Team have been setting up an online Business Directory to support local West Cheshire businesses and their partners to: n Amplify their online presence n Improve their local visibility n Get discovered more – increase awareness The directory will enable users to find and connect with local business, building and strengthening local supply chains. The directory will go live on the Let’s Talk Business website by the end of February 2021; if your business hasn’t already registered, visit letstalkbizcw.co.uk.

Covid-19 and Brexit Guidance Available on Let’s Talk Business Website Visit the Let’s Talk Business website Covid and Brexit support pages, letstalkbizcw. co.uk/Support, for the latest grants, guidance and support information. The website also has information on: n Local and national support programmes. n Finding local supply chains and networks, including events and training opportunities. n Access information on available commercial sites and premises through an online database. n Recruiting staff - including apprenticeship, traineeships and T-level information and guidance; there is also Health and Wellbeing support. n Grants and funding information. n Exporting advice for those already trading and those looking to start. n Information and guidance on how to start a business.

Fully Funded Mental Health Training Available Looking after your mental health and creating a healthy workplace is more important than ever during these challenging times. Finding your mojo and keeping motivated whilst working from home or supporting staff to be energised and positive can be difficult but there is help available. Wellbeing 4 Performance Limited has been commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to provide local businesses with fully funded training designed to empower them with information and skills to support and develop their workforce during these challenging times. Workshops on a number of topics are being delivered during February and March 2021, visit https://www.letstalkbizcw.co.uk/Events for more information and register your place.

£10m investment to support plans for Winsford Cheshire West and Chester Council has welcomed a £10 million investment from the Future High Streets Fund, to support its plans for Winsford. The town centre improvement plan, worth over £37million in total, has been put forward by the council to transform the economic heart of Winsford, creating new jobs and business opportunities, better transport links and a more attractive town centre environment. The Government has now endorsed those plans with a significant contribution from the Future High Streets Fund. The money secured by the council will also support the area through its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by re-vitalising the local economy and helping to create and protect jobs. Cheshire West and Chester Council has already invested in the future of Winsford through a larger investment programme, which

The council’s masterplan for the town seeks to create a better environment for independent retailers, as well as providing more opportunities for community meeting spaces and public services such as libraries and healthcare.

Chester’s New Market Launches Trader Recruitment Drive Applications from businesses looking to trade at Chester’s new indoor market, currently under construction and due to open in summer 2022, are now being taken. Chester Market is beginning an exciting new chapter in its history with a move to a new purpose-built indoor market hall at the heart of the Northgate development, a short distance from its current home in the Forum Shopping Centre. The vision for the new market is to be a ‘modern traditional market’ to build on the rejuvenation of the existing market and amplify the experience with more traders, more variety and more space to enjoy it all. Applications are welcomed from any produce, goods, food or beverage traders. All the current market’s existing traders are being actively encouraged and supported to apply and make the transition to the new market. Details of how to apply and receive the application pack are available at: www.newchester.market/trade The closing date for applications is 31st March, however early applications are encouraged as demand for stalls is expected to be high. Anyone wishing to discuss further this opportunity should contact the market letting agents Barker Proudlove: jessica@barkerproudlove.co.uk A trader selection panel will review each application using an equitable scoring process and may invite short-listed applicants for interview before making their final selection. Also published for the first time are new visualisations of how the market’s interior design is progressing, showing the current work in progress for the entrance area and the central atrium food and beverage seating area, more images will be shared as the designs are finalised. Feedback is welcomed at: NewChesterMarket@ cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk



Elite Group’s Focus on Remote Working The Importance of Understanding the Technological and Employee WellBeing Requirements of the New-Normal Way of Working Remote working is blending in well for many organisations, however we know that it is not just a case of sending an employee home with a laptop. The technology associated with remote working is an essential tool for maintaining productivity and efficient communication within a company.

technology and equipment to fulfil their roles and their potential as successfully as possible in the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in. Alex Cliffe, Chief Operating Officer at Elite Group, gives us her valuable insight into how best to address these challenges:Just a very short time ago, remote workers especially those working from home - were in the minority. However, isolated personnel have now almost surpassed those working from a typical office location. With the Covid-19 global pandemic shifting many of us into the home environment, new issues have arisen surrounding our health and safety and whether the appropriate policies, procedures and support are in place to deal with this. ‘One in four people experience a mental health problem every year’

The human angle on the other hand supporting each other and being aware of every team members’ health and well-being needs, especially with the added pressures posed by the pandemic - is equally important and can sometimes be overlooked.

The global pandemic has highlighted the need for better awareness of mental health within the home office when managing individuals, teams or ourselves and it’s vital to consider the impact of isolation and what measures need to be in place for us all to cope.

Our Patron Members at Elite Group provide us with a useful summary of the importance of ensuring that the well-being requirements of home-working employees are prioritised in tandem with providing them with the right

As time progresses and we understand the requirement for remote working will stretch for longer than many of us thought, it is crucial that businesses implement measures to take care of their employees’ mental health.

Many organisations have well-documented policies on a variety of Human Resource issues, nevertheless, the considerations for the mental health and welfare of remote working staff may not have been considered due to the timescales and nature of the measures that have become necessary. This is still new territory for many businesses and there is a myriad of resources out there to help. Policies need to be initiated and monitored to ensure our mental and physical wellbeing, otherwise the consequence can be disastrous. ‘’The number of people experiencing mental illness in the UK is 16 million. Broken down this means one in four people experience a mental health problem every year. The most common mental health condition is anxiety, which affects 6 in every 100 people.’’ National Centre of Social Research If left unattended, the mental health of employees can spiral triggering low morale, anxiety, depression and other psychological issues with the feeling of isolation weighing down on all of this even more. These emotions have been further intensified, especially during successive periods of lockdown and lack of physical contact. There is evidence that physical activity also goes hand-in-hand with sustaining mental health and is known to boost the immune system and lead to happier, healthier workers. There is a plethora of resources available to keep everyone healthy and enthusiastic. All we need to do as individuals is to encourage others to utilise them and make sure we help when and where we can with our support.

Elite Group is committed to fully supporting its employees during periods of lockdown. Robust communication channels and on-line meetings ensure employees’ ideas and concerns are aired and HR specialists conduct regular well-being calls to ensure all team members’ needs are catered for.

is a hybrid of both an office and a homeworking environment.

of having separate technology and phone systems.

Employee Benefits

Choosing the right remote working solutions will promote collaboration, productivity, security and facilitate the overall business profitability.

The company also continuously explores ways to support staff who are home-schooling their families and has offered employees the option to loan laptops specially configured and deployed by the IT team for home use to anyone who would benefit.

Business Benefits

Remote Working Benefits A recent internal survey undertaken by Elite Group found that employee productivity had increased by more than 20 per cent for employees working from a location other than the office. Statistics nationally also point towards the fact that for many people, the preference


n Flexibility n Improved lifestyle choices n Productivity

n Improved productivity n Financial savings n Improved employee satisfaction n Scalability n Enhanced Agility

Technology Required Tools such as Microsoft 365, including Teams, Teams Talk, Windows Virtual Desktop and other solutions, enable businesses to achieve unified IT and telecommunications services, negating the expense and inherent complexities

Remote working solutions n Windows Virtual Desktop n Microsoft 365 n SIP n Teams Talk There are many other ways that Elite Group can help you and your business with advice and support. Our friendly team are always available to help on 0333 234 3448 or email itsales@elitegroup.com.


University centre of food excellence strengthens partnership with global company

NoWFOOD offers a comprehensive package of support for established food and drink manufacturers as well as help to nurture young food businesses. For further information please visit: www1.chester. ac.uk/business-growth/nowfood.

this information, and using the skills and knowledge gained from my degree so far, plus my own observations, I came up with a number of recommendations for PelliTec’s marketing and social media. I presented these to all the members of the company, together with suggestions for the business going forward. “I am pleased to say that PelliTec has already made changes to its website, enhanced its Instagram and Facebook, is planning future campaigns and also considering its blister prevention product for the dancing market, all of which I suggested. “I now look forward to working with PelliTec in the future on promotional activities and thank them for the support, guidance and opportunity they gave me to work on a real marketing project. I also have the University to thank for recommending me to them.”

A new contract has been signed between the University’s NoWFOOD (North West Food Research Development Centre) and Danone. The signing marks the beginning of their fourth Sensory Evaluation contract, ensuring the quality of products. A fully trained panel of super tasters work specifically on the popular brand’s medical food products, led by NoWFOOD’s Sensory Panel Leader Shirley Lang and Consultant Sensory Expert Jane Clark. The step forward in the working relationship is no mean feat after COVID-19 disrupted existing systems.

Jenny’s input makes a difference for Chester business

However, NoWFOOD and Danone teams were in regular contact to devise a way ahead.

A Thornton-based business has made significant strides in its marketing and product development with support from an inventive second year University of Chester Business School student.

The teams adapted to ensure risk assessments and processes were reviewed, and moved in line with UK Government and University of Chester Work Safety Team advice, waiting for the right time to renew the contract. COVID-safety measures were put in place for all users of the building, at the Exton Park site on Parkgate Road, Chester, and work was carried out to ensure sensory panels could be run in a COVID-safe way. Jeff George, Asset Manager at NoWFOOD, said: “The year 2020 and this year have been very different, but we are confident the mutual respect and dedication between the two teams, ensures we safely deliver on the quality requirements through this COVID-19 period and will lead to us doing even more business together in the future.” Neil Ambage, Sensory SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for Allergy, Metabolics and Epilepsy at Danone said: “We are delighted to be working with the NoWFOOD trained panel at the University of Chester. “I am proud of the work we have done together with Jeff, Jane and Shirley to ensure the safety of all parties, whilst maintaining the quality of our results. I look forward to a long and successful future working together.”

Marketing Management student Jenny Murray has helped PelliTec to enhance their website, social media and explore new markets. Jenny worked with PelliTec on marketing its novel blister prevention pad. While originally developed for elite sports people, Pellitec sought support with looking at wider customer groups who might benefit from using it. Peter Broxton, Director of PelliTec said: “Jenny was a pleasure to work with on the project. She approached the work with a great level of energy and produced a very thought-provoking report. “This will not be a one-off project as we have built up a good relationship and see Jenny being involved in our further product development and supporting us at events.” Jenny said: “Working with PelliTec was a great experience. The task that Peter, PelliTec’s Business Director, set for me was to investigate the current foot care market for blister care products and how PelliTec blister pads fit into it. “To achieve this, I conducted shop and online analyses and researched PelliTec’s current social media and marketing. With

Scale-Up Bootcamp helps businesses deliver their vision In January, Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme welcomed 16 businesses to its Scale-Up Bootcamp: Grow, Thrive, Survive. This bootcamp was designed to boost each business’ growth, increase profit and allow these business owners to reflect and consider the best possible approach and strategy to deliver their vision for their business. With challenging topics covered such as, preparing for change and uncertainty and overcoming barriers to growth, the attendees have been put through their paces and challenged to think outside of their business boundaries to discover their own growth potential. Over the four-week delivery of the bootcamp the business owners have shown how resilient they are, it has been a pleasure to hear how adaptable the attendees have been and the peer-to-peer support offered has been invaluable.



n Keith Tully of Begbies Traynor

Finding a rescue route for my failing business due to Covid-19 The unprecedented global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has reserved pages in history books and the need to review business risk planning exercises has spiralled out of control far and wide. From tearing apart seamless supply chains, historic business partnerships and loyal customer bases, companies across each continent have been forced to write their ending, conclude trading and close shop, due to Covid-19 pressures. Many shopfronts are clutching to thoughts of a recovering economy, late-blooming customer demand and that an end-of-year surge in trade would bolster performance and recoup missed income due to the enforcement of strict social distancing measures and worldwide lockdowns. The first step to finding the best route for your business is to assess financial health and the level of damage, including the likelihood of this being reparable. At this stage, you should seek advice directly from a business restructuring and recovery specialist as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario. By turning to a business recovery specialist, you will be able to personalise advice to your situation as the route you take will be determined by the financial position of your business – for example, asset value, liabilities, balance sheet, cash flow strength and cash reserves. By conducting


a consultation with a company director and taking into consideration the state support established to prevent business closure due to Covid-19, our experts will be able to understand the damage, meaning you can make informed decisions, shield your business from obvious missteps, and pave the road to recovery.

Handpicking a company rescue route to weather the Covid-19 storm Company directors are legally responsible for the daily running of the business, maintaining financial interests and spotting early signs of business difficulty by carrying out a balance sheet and cash flow test. This will help illustrate if the business has any weak pressure points, if liabilities outweigh assets, and if the business requires an emergency cash injection to survive the remainder of the pandemic. There are several routes available, such as a Company Voluntary Arrangement if you are struggling to meet liabilities, Company Administration if your business is insolvent, or lighter support measures such as a Time to Pay arrangement to restructure tax liabilities with HMRC if it’s a helping hand that you need.

As Covid-19 continues to test the viability of businesses of all sizes, sectors and trading styles, many continue to weather the storm with a limited view of prospects due to challenging trading conditions as the pandemic continues to eliminate the weakest traders. If your business is temporarily experiencing financial pressure as a direct result of the pandemic, it is essential to seek a business rescue solution to prevent further deterioration or falling victim to putting creditors’ interests second. Keith Tully, Partner at our Chester office says: “We will continue to work closely with directors across the region to focus on positive outcomes in 2021 for all business owners. Being entrepreneurial about the challenges ahead means being proactive, which is why we’ve set up our free and confidential Directors’ Advice Line (0800 056 1059) so that directors don’t feel isolated with their financial problems. We would encourage business owners to take that proactive step, pick up the phone and call our advice line, to discuss options including refinancing, unlocking fresh alternative funding sources, time-to-pay negotiation strategies with HMRC and other methods to work with creditors to support business survival.”


Gus Cairns reappointed to Avenue Services board

Community gym a real success story for Blacon A community gym in Blacon is proving to be a runaway success story. With support and business guidance from Avenue Services, Rage Fitness Company has gone from engaging a handful of residents to working with more than 20,000 people in less than two years. Ex-Marine Craig Brown founded Rage in 2018 and approached Avenue Services to help him deliver fitness classes for residents in Blacon. Avenue Services offered the use of its activity centre at Blacon Adventure Playground and supported Craig to develop a business plan.

In 2019, Craig converted part of the activity centre into a fully featured community gym that has been a huge hit with Blacon residents. Rage has continued to expand its services across the north-west of England and now works with over 60 schools and 25 GP surgeries, as well as partners including the NHS, Public Health England and Cheshire and Merseyside police. Chris Leicester, Neighbourhood Partnerships Manager at Avenue Services, said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents is one of our key priorities and Rage has been a real success story for Blacon. We’re very proud to have been part of Craig’s journey and to offer our continued support.”

Supporting Blacon residents with finances and mental health Avenue Services is supporting two organisations, offering vital services to Blacon residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Community interest company Pennysmart CIC offers money, debt and benefits advice to people who are struggling financially, as well as ensuring they are claiming any benefits and allowances they are entitled to. With more people struggling financially during the pandemic, Avenue Services

has provided additional funding to help Pennysmart meet the increased demand. Avenue Services is also funding charity Platform for Life to deliver free counselling and play therapy for low-income families in Blacon, providing important support with mental health. Paul Knight, Head of Avenue Services, said: “These community organisations are providing an invaluable service and helping to make a real difference for local families. We’re proud to be able to offer our support.”

Avenue Services is delighted to announce that Gus Cairns has been reappointed to its board as a Community Director. Gus, who is retired, has lived in Blacon for more than 60 years and is actively involved with the community. He serves as Chair of West Cheshire Autism Hub and Co-chair of West Cheshire Mental Health Partnership, and is also a member of the Blacon Health and Wellbeing Group. Gus said: “I’m very pleased to be reappointed to the board. It has been a challenging year for everyone and the work of community organisations like Avenue Services has never been more important.” Paul Knight, Head of Avenue Services, commented: “Gus brings a wealth of local knowledge and experience and a real passion for Blacon. These qualities will be huge assets to our objective of driving improvements for the benefit of our local community.”



Young Chamber’s Virtual Careers Talk Helps Archers Brook School Pupils

really engaged and asked some interesting questions about the College. We always enjoy taking part in the Young Chamber events as they support young people with their careers aspirations.”

The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce’s Young Chamber programme has held its first virtual careers talk for Archers Brook School, based in Ellesmere Port.

n Cheshire College – South & West

With coronavirus restrictions meaning that physical events at schools cannot take place for the time being, three local businesses, that sponsor the Young Chamber programme, took part in the event which gave students an insight into their organisations and sectors. Using the power of technology, Debbie Cappadona, General Manager at Palé Hall Hotel, Simonetta Pearce, School Liaison & Recruitment Officer at Cheshire College South & West, and Lance Sergeant Lewis, of the Army Regional Engagement Team at Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association For Wales, were brought into the classroom and spoke to pupils about their companies, their

roles and the skills that they needed to get to their position. Before the talks, the students undertook research of the organisations and were able to ask questions about the options available to them in each industry, with one student highlighting that they found Simonetta “very nice and approachable”.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for supporting this event:

n Palé Hall Hotel n Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association For Wales

Debbie Cappodona was delighted to help with the event and said “If any of my input helps a young person make the decision to go into hospitality it was well worth it. The industry needs the next generation of young talented individuals.” Simonetta was also pleased to give pupils an insight into Cheshire College – South & West saying “I spoke to the pupils about the different courses on offer, as well as the support that is available to them at Cheshire College – South & West. The pupils were

Castell Alun Students get virtual careers support from Young Chamber Managing Director at Altimex Ltd and MJ Lighting Ltd, and Liam Rogers, Sales Consultant at ITAS. Both Davinder and Liam spoke to groups of students about their roles and the company they work in, whilst highlighting their career journeys and the skills they look for in prospective employees. Students then had the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the industries that Liam and Davinder operate in.

Economics at Castell Alun High School, explaining “These talks form a key part of the students’ PHSE course and help them to structure their career aspirations and develop ‘soft’ employability skills. The sessions went really well, with lots of information and guidance being passed on. The Year 11 students taking part took a lot away from their session and we’d like to thank both Davinder and Liam for their valuable time and expertise.”

Castell Alun High School have been supported by a virtual careers talk event as part of the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce’s Young Chamber programme.

“The Young Chamber event for Castell Alun High School was a pleasure to support. Both groups had very good, probing and challenging questions about how I got to where I am and some I have never been asked before. I enjoyed being put on the spot with the questions. I hope the knowledge and experience that I was able to share with the pupils will help them in making career decisions in the future” said Davinder.

The event formed part of Young Chamber’s aim of bringing the education and business sectors closer together. By speaking to the students, the Sponsors were able to give pupils an insight into the world of work and some of the opportunities that are available in the local area.

The event saw over 200 students receive careers talks from two local businesses that sponsor the programme; Davinder Lotay,

The event is part of a series of employabilitybased sessions that Year 11 students with Lauren Robinson, Subject Leader of Business

n Davinder of Altimex Ltd and MJ Lighting Ltd.


Thank you to our Sponsors for supporting this event:

n Liam of ITAS.


n Marc Docherty was presented with a certificate and plaque by Chamber CEO Debbie Bryce

Young Chamber welcomes Ingenico a Worldline brand as a Sponsor The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce’s Young Chamber programme is pleased to welcome Ingenico a Worldline brand, as a Sponsor to the programme. Ingenico a Worldline Brand, a payment solutions provider that recently joined Worldline group, Europe’s largest player in the sector, provides businesses with the means to take card payments from customers whether online or face to face.

gaining insights and fresh ideas from their perspective” said Marc Docherty, Head of UK Acquiring / Large/Strategic Business at Ingenico a Worldline Brand. The Young Chamber programme continues to support students despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions with virtual events and support on offer to the Schools and Colleges supported by the programme.

As a Sponsor of the Young Chamber programme, Ingenico a Worldline Brand will have the opportunity to give students an insight into their organisation and sector whilst helping them develop the skills and knowledge needed when entering the world of work.

Marc continued; “We’re committed to sharing knowledge, experience and providing support with developing the skills and behaviours required for future roles, in addition to providing insight into different working environments and interview processes. We look forward to embracing the challenge of mentoring and seeing the progress of the students throughout the programme”.

“I am delighted to be part of the Young Chamber programme which I believe is an integral part of developing future talent. We look forward to engaging with the students and understanding their goals, whilst

Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, presented Marc with a certificate and plaque, with social distance measures in place, outside Chamber’s

office at the University of Chester’s Churchill House Business School. Marc mentioned that he visited Churchill House to have his photo taken after he won the “Employee of the Month” award when he started his career in banking during the nineties, a remarkable coincidence! Debbie added “It was great to meet Marc, learn about his career in banking and discuss the time he visited the exact same spot for a photo many years ago. This just highlights some of the diverse career journeys that our Young Chamber Sponsors take and helps students by showing the many career routes and options available to them. “We are very much looking forward to engaging with Marc and Ingenico a Worldline Brand as we continue to bridge the gap between education and business.” To find out more about becoming a Sponsor of the Young Chamber programme, please email youngchamber@wcnwchamber.org.uk.



Business Report indicates a difficult year ahead for firms The latest Quarterly Business Report from the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce indicates little improvement in quarter four of 2020 as many economic indicators remain far below pre-pandemic levels.

Key Findings

The report, published in partnership with Cheshire West & Chester Council, indicates that the re-introduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions in October and November weighed heavily on the key drivers of growth and a quick return to pre-Coronavirus conditions seems a long way off.

n Firms’ Investment intentions remained in negative territory: notably capital investment eased back.

The survey fieldwork took place in November during the second lockdowns in England and amid tougher restrictions in Wales. Continued uncertainty around further lockdowns and restrictions, as well as the many unanswered questions on Brexit, have caused businesses considerable distress, with some saying they are worried about the long-term viability of their business.

n Sales and orders remain relatively flat with all readings still in negative territory (meaning more businesses reported a decrease in sales and orders than an increase).

n Employment expectations in the next three months eased slightly, and remained positive. n Confidence rose at a slower pace than in Q3, contrasting with the wider North West where it fell back into negative territory. Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, commented: “This report demonstrates that businesses across the UK face a difficult and uncertain telephony, connectivity and cloud-based solutions. Below, we hear from Managing Director, Jeff Eamens, on his contribution to the Quarterly Business Report. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic impact on businesses, how have the last twelve months been for Challenger Business Communications? We have adapted and continued to operate at full capacity throughout the pandemic. Mobilising our workforce to be able to work remotely within a couple of weeks ensured we could practice social distancing and safe working conditions without any impact on the service our customers receive.

In Focus with Challenger Business Communications

Have there been any particular challenges? Like all companies, we have had to adapt to increased virtual meetings and remote collaboration. The teams here have done an amazing job of embracing and utilising the very same cloud products and services that we support our customers with to continue to work to our best ability.

Challenger is an independent, awardwinning communications specialist offering a diverse range of telecoms solutions. Established in 1991, they are celebrating 30 years of providing top-class business services and support that include telecoms,

Despite the challenging business conditions, you’ve indicated that you have increased your labour force. What were your reasons behind this? Due to the nature of our business, we are fortunate that our products and services have


year ahead in 2021. Another major lockdown across all four nations of the UK will compound the devastating situation for many. “The re-introduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions weighed heavily on the key drivers of growth and a quick return to preCoronavirus conditions seems a long way off. “UK and Welsh Government should be pulling out all the stops to ensure support for businesses is commensurate with the restrictions in place. Both the pandemic and government restrictions continue to hit firms hard, and many are grappling with a difficult period of adjustment to new trading conditions following the end of the Brexit transition period. “As we look to the future, our findings demonstrate that big investment incentives are also needed. Prosperity and success depend on businesses, both domestic and international, having the confidence to invest here in the UK for the long term.” The Chamber Quarterly Business Report for quarter 4 of 2020 is based on a survey that received 89 responses from businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales representing over 7,400 employees. The fieldwork for this survey took place between 2nd and 23rd November. To view the full report, and to express your interest in taking part next quarter, please visit: https://wcnwchamber.org.uk/voice-ofbusiness/quarterly-business-report/. been in demand just as much as usual during the pandemic, with some customers needing extra support to set up and move to remote working. We have increased numbers mainly in terms of support staff to ensure that we can continue to provide excellent customer service. Have you been able to take anything out of the situation that you can use in the business for future planning? The main takeaway for us is the success we have had with flexible working. As for many businesses, the events of the past year have proven that we don’t need to be officebased 24/7, and we will continue to work on a flexible basis permanently even after pandemic restrictions are no longer needed. Looking forward, how do you see the next 12 months for your business? The next 12 months are a really exciting time for us. This Summer we are celebrating our 30th birthday and we will be thanking employees and customers for their continued support. On top of this, we are expanding our product line with exciting new partnerships and increasing the ways in which businesses can interact and work with us.


CF Fertilisers Making Great Progress Towards its Zero Carbon Future

“This is equal to the whole of the 30% CO2 reduction required by UK agriculture by 2022, which is a major achievement. “All told, we’ve already reduced the carbon footprint of Nitram fertiliser production by 40% with the next step on our decarbonisation journey being carbon capture and storage of the very pure CO2 emissions associated with our production processes.” Industry leading carbon footprints and knowledge transfer In an industry first, CF has also developed fully audited and certified business-to-business carbon footprints for its entire range of fertilisers as well as the ammonia and nitric acid used in their manufacture, Debbie explains. “We decided to work with the Carbon Trust to ensure the footprints carry maximum credibility and are readily recognised by everybody as 100% independently verifiable. “Not only does this mean they have undergone rigorous independent scrutiny, they have also been calculated using standards set out in the most robust international protocols.” CF Fertilisers has also made major investments in encouraging farmers to use fertiliser more efficiently and responsibly, she points out.

CF Fertilisers has been one of the cornerstones of British food production for over 50 years and, with its sights set firmly on a low carbon future, it’s likely to remain so for many years to come. The company’s high quality nitrogen fertiliser products lie behind many of the foods we take for granted such as the bread we eat, the beer we drink, the cheese we enjoy and much, much more, explains the company’s public affairs director Debbie Baker. “With two sites at Ince in Cheshire and Billingham in Teesside, CF is the only nitrogen fertiliser manufacturer in the UK, producing around 35% of the country’s requirement for the production of essential food crops, beverages, dairy produce and meat. “Our famous ‘blue bags’ have been a common site on farms across the countryside for decades with our flagship Nitram ammonium nitrate proven to be the most efficient fertiliser for the UK’s maritime climate. “Without Nitrogen, British crops would be less than half as productive as currently with this having a major effect on all our lives including the cost of food, the need to import more and the loss of export opportunities. “For us, it’s always been about providing the best products and services we can for our

customers so they can produce the highest quality food. “But as the world moves to a lower carbon future, we are increasingly focused on how efficiently our fertilisers are manufactured and used.” Reducing greenhouse gas emissions CF Industries has clearly stated objectives regarding decarbonising its global ammonia production network with its UK business well on the way to meeting these, she says. “CF Industries has announced significant steps to support a global hydrogen and clean energy economy through the production of green and low-carbon ammonia.

“We have a significant and ongoing R&D agenda which is designed to cascade ‘best practice’ down to farm advisers and customers but we’ve also developed several services to maximise Nitrogen fertiliser Use Efficiency (NfUE) on-farm. “These include CF N-Min to establish levels of Nitrogen already in the soil and CF N-Calc to assess precisely the amount of fertiliser needed by crops. “The more N that is taken up by crops, the higher the productivity and the greater the environmental benefit for all – manufacturer, grower and consumer – and that’s an ongoing challenge for us all in the future.” HyNet North West Over recent years, the company has also formed strategic alliances to further its decarbonising agenda, she says.

“The company as a whole has made significant progress in achieving this including a commitment to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The HyNet North West initiative is a good example of this. We have been involved with this project to create a carbon capture and storage network in the North West, centred around Ellesmere Port since the outset.

“In the UK alone, we’ve reduced the Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emissions associated with our fertiliser production, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in recent years.

“HyNet will not only enable existing local businesses like CF to reduce emissions, it will also create a platform for green growth in the region, something we very much applaud.”


THE BIG INTERVIEW continuity in relationships in a post-Brexit world. It soon became clear that a more formal agreement would add real value to our members, combining the strengths of our respective organisations and building on a shared vision of a global organisation that provides access to British businesses internationally to a network of trusted expert support and contacts. Adam Marshall (Director General at BCC) asked me to join the team to help develop the international strategy and grow an active and engaged global network; a hugely exciting project for me to get my teeth into. WCNW: What are your main responsibilities? My primary role is to create, grow and maintain a dynamic and fully engaged, integrated global community; to deliver a programme of activities and projects that add value to the network, and a platform whereby Chambers are able to connect, work together, exchange ideas and best practice and drive trade and business together, across the world. Despite the many challenges of the last year, we have experienced increased interest in our network and its scope, and the network has never been more active than it is at the moment, with successful business connections being made across the world. During this last year, my role has also evolved, and I am increasingly involved in developing new ideas, products and services that add value to both our own business and the network, as a whole. WCNW: What does a typical day involve?

Anne-Marie Martin

Director of Global Business Networks British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) WCNW: To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your background. I joined the BCC’s team in 2019 as Director of Global Business Networks, with responsibility for developing and implementing the global network integration strategy of the BCC. Since those first few months, our global footprint has grown exponentially. Before that, I was CEO of the pan European British Chamber network, COBCOE, which has since transferred into the BCC network, and before that my first role in the Chamber of Commerce world was as CEO of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce during a time when Romania embarked on its reform journey towards EU accession.


However, I actually cut my teeth in industry, with a relatively long career responsible for sales, marketing and operations of an SME distributor of speciality chemicals and non-destructive testing equipment to the aircraft, aerospace and heavy engineering industries across complex emerging economies in the Central and Eastern Europe, on the export front line. WCNW: What attracted you to the company? Following the EU referendum in 2016, our two organisations felt it would make sense for us to begin to proactively pool some of our energies to connect our respective members to each other and drive

What I can hand on heart tell you, is that there is rarely a typical day, other than what feels like endless Zoom activity that we are all becoming so used to. I spend quite a bit of time in internal and external meetings, discussing initiatives with various stakeholders. I lead a few projects in the organisation including managing the Global Business Network, that involve developing concepts for events and some of the capacity building initiatives that are specifically designed for our international Chambers. Quite a bit of my time is spent working with our events lead and our marketing and communications team on a day-today basis to agree how to deliver and communicate all the good work we are developing for the network. I also have quite a few external speaking engagements coming up in the next couple of months, presenting the “power of our global network” to companies that are members of the Chambers in our membership, which I always really enjoy.

THE BIG INTERVIEW WCNW: Who are your target audience and what is the main aim of the Global Business Network? The Global Business Network is a key strategic initiative launched by the BCC around two years ago. A unique international member network of currently 70, and growing, British Chambers of Commerce located across all continents of the world directly connected to 53 regional Chambers of Commerce located across every key business hub in the UK. The primary strategic objective in creating a private sector led infrastructure is to drive international business between the companies in the membership of our Chamber Network. This provides any company that is a member of any Chamber in the network with the opportunity to connect to a rapidly growing international ecosystem of known, trusted business connections and support. WCNW: What projects are you currently working on? There are quite a few. My stand outs include managing our 2021 Global Annual Conference which will take place in cyberspace on 16th and 17th June this year. This will be hugely exciting, because it will be a brand-new virtual styled event, bringing together high-level keynote speakers, including government officials, senior business leaders on expert panel sessions, practical workshops and a fresh new look virtual exhibition space. We expect to attract larger participation than ever before due to the digital capability, bringing audiences from across the world to discuss and debate the most pertinent topics of our time. We plan to launch a ‘Year of Trade’ campaign this year in response to the seismic decline in business growth, export sales and investment which are at their lowest since the last major economic crisis of 2008. The programme will include a series of virtual events, thematic surveys, practical guides and policy outputs. I cannot wait to get going on delivering the programme once we are ready to launch.

“My primary role is to create, grow and maintain a dynamic and fully engaged, integrated global community” challenges unprecedented. But there has been so much positivity too. Incredible new ideas, developments and achievements. We have seen the spirit of entrepreneurship and sense of mutuality, that Chambers are renowned for, come to the foreground like never before. Chambers have given their time with the benefit of foresight, or perhaps hindsight, with experience sharing provided by markets that have been ahead of the curve in the wave of Covid. WCNW: Looking ahead, what are your main aims for the Global Business Network and how would you like it to develop? The possibilities are absolutely endless. Our ambition is to grow the international membership to 100 by 2023 and, together with the Chambers in the UK, help businesses to surmount barriers to trade and seize opportunities. We aim to do this by creating a framework of connectivity and practical support provided by a trusted, known private sector led network of reputable business partners via a truly global business network of 150+ chambers of commerce working symbiotically together. I would like to see this network eventually take on a life of its own. At that point, it will give me a huge sense of achievement and pride in the knowledge that my job is done. WCNW: What are your career aims and aspirations? Is there anything else in particular you’d like to achieve in your lifetime?

I am probably on, what I would describe as, the last leg of my professional journey; at the stage where I absolutely love creating mini start-up business initiatives and projects, designing and eventually delivering them as a ready-made sustainable package. I probably do have one or two of those still left in me. I would really like to get involved in programmes that tackle those big people driven agendas, for example, how new generations are driving consumer demand for companies to balance ethics with the desire for profit and a greater balance between work and personal lives. I would be keen to explore how Chambers could attract these new, younger generations into membership with quite diverse demands, and what that offer might look like. There is an opportunity now to turn everything on its head and review the way we deliver business development opportunities for business and drive repositioning of membership fees in companies’ budget lines, from discretionary spend to “must have”. If there has ever been a time when Chambers of Commerce have demonstrated their value to members, it has been during this difficult time. WCNW: What message would you give to other people in business? Unleash your inner entrepreneur and, as one of my favourite mentors keeps reminding me, never, ever waste a crisis!

Another project I am keen to roll out is a virtual platform of connectivity between the Chambers in our Global Business Network, enabling them to connect, communicate and respond to respective enquiries, to organise joint trade forums and to showcase the best that their market or region has to offer in a seamless way. WCNW: Any difficulties? If so, how did you overcome them? There is no question that these last 12 months have been difficult and some of the



Chamber Helps Firms Adapt to New Trading Era The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce has been assisting businesses to adapt to new rules and regulations following the confirmation of the trade agreement and end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31st December 2020. The support, funded by Cheshire West & Chester Council, has seen a mix of trade briefings and bite sized sessions focusing on key topics and areas of change following the formation of the trade agreement between the UK and EU. Each session has been supported by a panel of expert speakers who have covered a number of important topics, including: n

Updates from International Trade Expert Becky Stark, on the contents of the trade agreement and the implications for businesses that trade with the EU.


Impacts on staff and people, Employing EEA and Swiss nationals and the new points-based system for hiring overseas talent.

shipped from the UK, and EU Market Surveillance. n


The impact on Intellectual Property including Trademarks, Domain Names and Patents. The trade documentation needed to ensure goods get through EU customs clearance smoothly and the importance of knowing the origin of your goods.

The events have also featured insights from a number of local businesses that have spoken about their preparations ahead of January 1st 2021 and the challenges that they have faced since. These have proven to give a really useful insight into the step’s businesses have taken to prepare themselves for the new era of trade.


Customs Special Procedures, including Inward Processing, Customs Warehousing and the responsibilities of exporters and importers.

The sessions have been an overwhelming success with 97% of attendees stating they found them useful and informative and 97% saying they have helped improve their knowledge of international trade.


Conformity UKCA Mark, which will replace the CE Mark on goods

Thank you to the following businesses for speaking at the events:



Aaron and Partners LLP


CF Fertilisers UK Ltd


Conformance Ltd


Export Unlocked Ltd


LV Shipping Ltd


Stark Export Focus Ltd

Businesses have also been able to take advantage of a helpline (01244 669985) for any questions relating the new agreement or changes in processes following the end of the Brexit Transition Period.

If you have any questions, or need guidance, you can register you interest in receiving support here https:// wcnwchamber.org.uk/post-brexitsupport/. Alternatively, please contact the International Trade Team at the Chamber on 01244 669985 or email internationaltrade@wcnwchamber.org.uk.


WHY PORTUGAL? As a result of its competitive operational environment, Portugal is welcoming businesses from around the world. Naturally, this includes all companies from West Cheshire and North Wales. From Portugal, established multinationals are supplying products and services worldwide, thanks to a combination of the country’s talent, local supply chain, infrastructures, low operational risk, and operational costs.

Portugal’s Attractiveness In recent years, Portugal has been proving its capabilities in the areas of Industry, Trade and Tourism, by increasing exports in volume and value and attracting more and better investment. Today, Portugal is a competitive, innovative and attractive country.



Despite the more obvious effects on the global economy caused by the pandemic, the Portuguese industry has not stopped and the country is open for business. The attitude perceived by various sectors of activity was extraordinary, showing resilience and capacity for reinvention. What are the key competitive advantages? 4




Talent – availability of a highly skilled talent pool; multilingual and multicultural; possibility of subcontracting, training and creating knowledge networks; Quality of life – repeatedly recognised as a top destination in terms of quality of life, namely for expats;

Innovation – Portugal has registered a rapid growth in innovation levels and is now recognised as a strong innovator country within the EU; Infrastructures – excellent physical infrastructures, with international airports that allow a wide network of international connections; In terms of connectivity, the country has a very high penetration rate for Mobile Broadband connections, and an extensive fibre optics network; Portugal ranked 2nd for Ultrafast Broadband takeup, 2.5 times higher than the EU average; an excellent technological framework for digital businesses; Strategic location - full integration in the European market; nearest European country to the US and Canada; same time zone as the UK and Ireland; gateway to Portuguese speaking countries (250 million consumers).

International Benchmarking n

#3 safest country in the World – Global Peace Index 2020, Institute for Economics and Peace, 163 countries


#7 Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism 2019 – The World Bank, exc. Micro-States, 214 countries


#7 Language Skills; #12 Management Education; #14 University Education – IMD World Talent Report 2020, 63 countries


#3 highest rate of Engineering graduates in EU – OECD 2018


#7 English Proficiency Index – Very High Proficiency – EF, 2020


#12 Strong Innovator Country, European Innovation Scoreboard – EU Commission, 2020


#8 Digitalisation Index – EIB Digitalisation index, 2020, EU28

Risk perception – political and social stability; very low operational risk;


#9 Digital Public Services – Digital Economy and Society Index, 2019, EU28


#3 Best Expat Destination Worldwide (#1 best quality of life) – Expat Insider, Internations, 2019

Foreign companies tend to seek the right mix of talent, multilingual skills and stability at several levels – political, social, economic - together with one of the highest safety levels in the world. Several opportunities arise within Life Sciences, Medical Devices, Technical Textiles, as well as on Electric Mobility and across the Digital sphere, including Cybersecurity and Fintech. Portugal has been able to shift from tradition to innovation, showing very high levels of resilience, creativity and new business thinking.

What is the role of AICEP? AICEP, as the government Portuguese Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, plays a very important role when dealing with investors looking for a new investment location or with foreign companies looking to work and source from Portugal. AICEP works as a single point of contact in all phases of the investment: pre-investment, incentives negotiation, settling in and after care, through a dynamic tailormade approach focused on the client or investor. As a one stop investment shop we work as a true facilitator! The delegation of AICEP in the UK, acting as the commercial section of the Portuguese Embassy in London, is available to provide any information to potential investors, importers or businesses from West Cheshire and North Wales who wish to do business in or with Portugal. For more information, please email internationaltrade@wcnwchamber.org.uk



BCC Brexit survey: Half of UK exporters report difficulties adapting to changes relating to EU-UK goods trade 30


Overall, 14% of firms said that they faced difficulties in adapting to changes in the trade of services. 10% said they had found adapting to the changes easy. The percentage facing difficulties rose for exporters, where 21% reported issues.

When asked about the specific difficulties’ businesses were facing, commonly cited concerns included increased administration, costs, delays, and confusion about what rules to follow.

Need for Action

Results from the first major business survey for 2021 by the British Chambers of Commerce on Brexit found that half (49%) of exporters are facing difficulties in adapting to the changes in the trade of goods following the ratification of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021.

The survey: Fieldwork for the survey, which received 1,000 responses, mainly from SMEs, was carried out between 18 and 31 January 2021. Nearly half (47%) of respondents exported goods or services. The survey sought to understand the extent to which businesses found it easy or difficult to adapt to changes in trading goods and/ or services and moving people in the month since the ratification of the TCA. Businesses reported the highest proportion of difficulties in adapting to changes in trading goods.

The BCC will continue to support UK businesses through its trade documentation services and Chamber Customs, a customs advisory, training and brokerage service delivered through Chambers of Commerce across the UK, and by working closely with the government. The leading business group is calling on the UK Government, and where necessary with EU partners, to: n

Work with us and the Chamber network to identify the most significant blockages for business and immediately publish plans for resolving those problems;


Create tax credits allowing firms to offset their spending on adaptation to the new UK-EU requirements against their tax bill, helping businesses navigate new burdens and requirements better;


Push back the imposition of additional SPS checks (from April) and full customs checks (from July) on imports into the UK. Sanitary and Phytosanitary (‘SPS’) checks are scientific tests on animal and plant goods; and

The survey found that: n


Overall, around a third of respondents (30%) reported difficulties adapting to changes to moving or trading goods in the first month of the year, while 10% said they had found adapting to the changes easy. 45% said trade in goods was not applicable to their business, and 16% said it was too early to say; However, the percentage facing difficulties in adapting to changes in trading goods rose for exporters, where half (49%) reported issues, as well as manufacturers, where the percentage facing difficulties was more than half (51%);


Look at key areas of the new relationship and work with EU partners on easements to minimise unhelpful burdens, including on aspects of Rules of Origin and VAT.

Commenting on the results, BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Trading businesses – and the UK’s chances at a strong economic recovery – are being hit hard by changes at the border. “The late agreement of a UK-EU trade deal left businesses in the dark on the detail

right until the last minute, so it’s unsurprising to see that so many businesses are now experiencing practical difficulties on the ground as the new arrangements go live. “For some firms these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’. It should not be the case that companies simply have to give up on selling their goods and services into the EU. Ministers must do everything they can to fix the problems that are within the UK’s own control, and increase their outreach to EU counterparts to solve the knotty issues that are stifling trade in both directions. “This situation could get worse if the UK sticks to its guns and introduces additional SPS checks in April and full customs checks on imports in July. These timescales need to change – and the support available for businesses who are battling to adapt to new trading conditions significantly increased.” Commenting on what this means for businesses on the ground, BCC Director of Trade Facilitation and ChamberCustoms Liam Smyth said: “Underneath the overall figures, firms’ concerns fit broadly into three areas. “First, difficulties arising from the challenges adjusting to the new arrangements, such as the sheer volume of paperwork and significant new costs of adjusting to those. “Second, issues about how new rules have been implemented, such as new customs arrangements. “Third, core provisions of the TCA which are currently of significant concern to businesses, such as on Rules of Origin and VAT. “Taken together, and on top of decreased revenue and cash flow as a result of the pandemic, this is a difficult moment for exporters. Some tell us they will respond to the challenges by switching away from international trade or by moving their operations overseas. “The Government needs to respond to this risk by giving firms tax credits to help with their ongoing adjustment and leaving no stone unturned in educating businesses and removing every barrier they can.”

“The Government needs to respond to this risk by giving firms tax credits to help with their ongoing adjustment and leaving no stone unturned in educating businesses and removing every barrier they can” 31


Chamber’s Customs Declaration Service off to a flying start


The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce’s International Trade Team has seen huge demand for its new Customs Declaration Service – ChamberCustoms – since its launch on 1st January 2021.

to 300 million following the end of the Brexit Transition Period. This increased demand for customs declarations lead to the launch of ChamberCustoms, a brokerage service that utilises the skills and expertise of the Chamber of Commerce network. The West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce already plays a pivotal role in the export process by certifying and authorising a number of key documents needed to export goods and the addition of ChamberCustoms further enhances this offer. “We are so pleased to be able to offer our customs declaration service to businesses in the region. The Chamber currently has two fully qualified Customs Officers and more members of the international trade team are undertaking training to allow us to expand our support even further” said Hayley Gray, Export Documentation Manager at the Chamber. “We are delighted with the feedback we’ve had from customers and we are proud to have been able to support them through what has a been a big change in export and import procedures for many” added Hayley. The Chamber is uniquely positioned to offer customers a “One Stop Shop” with direct links to all sea, air and road ports and terminals in the UK. The aim of ChamberCustoms is to make a potentially complicated process as smooth and quick as possible.

Following the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31st December 2020, businesses that import from, and export to, the EU have been required to complete customs declarations as goods are no longer in free circulation and are subject to duty and VAT. The ONS has estimated the number of declarations required annually will increase

For more information about ChamberCustoms, please contact Hayley Gray via email (h.gray@wcnwchamber.org.uk) or telephone (01244 669985).

“We are delighted with the feedback we’ve had from customers and we are proud to have been able to support them through what has a been a big change in export and import procedures for many” 33

GETTING STARTED carbon emissions. It is a considerable challenge for the industry to meet the new requirements. We have a unique insight into our sector and have the expertise and experience to help clients understand how products must change to meet the new legislative environment.

The light bulb moment!

We provide impartial advice and help our clients understand the implications of the changes we are seeing and how that will impact the market in future years. These changes also offer new opportunities for client investors, shares in Green hydrogen gas (renewable electrolysis) companies have been among the best performer in the past quarter.

The UK is one of the leading countries in developing Hydrogen burning appliances, we help clients in the in the UK and ROW understand new technologies and the deluge of conflicting, misleading information about the future of heating, we give independent unbiassed advise.

About you! I am a judo 4th Dan, black belt. When younger, I represented Great Britain and travelled to many countries, including behind the iron curtain to USSR, during the tension with USA, where I won a European bronze medal. I have also written a book called “Beauty and the Beasts” (Amazon) about my experience living and working in Nairobi, one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

What’s in a name? The green globe is because we have clients across the world and we are a ‘Green’ business giving expert advice, to our clients on how the heating market and associated businesses will change due to decarbonisation and ultimately net zero emissions.

Your position? Managing Partner

About your business? We are experts in global heating, advising worldwide, manufactures, professional services companies, M&As and enterprise investors. The heating sector is facing enormous changes as governments around the world embrace the challenges of global warming. The Paris Agreement committed signatories to net-zero emissions by 2050. UK Government is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 - 2021 and will promote its 10-point plan for a “Green industrial revolution”. Heating systems predominantly use fossil fuels and account for over 30% of UK


Before I formed my own business, I was a director with several sector-leading international brands including, Bosch Thermotechnology Europe, Worcester Bosch UK, and Rinnai Corporation of Japan. I was also a Non-executive Director of ICOM Energy, trade association representing the industry’s interests at UK Government and European levels. My time in the large corporate sector has allowed me to build a track record of introducing and developing the market for renewables and highly efficient, energysaving new concept heating products, into the European markets. I focussed my teams on achieving excellence and successfully helped them win awards for ‘Environmental initiative of the year’, ‘Product of the year’ and ‘Wolseley group supplier of the year’ More recently, I formed Geoff Hobbs and Partners to bring that expertise to a broader range of businesses and investors in the sector. I have completed numerous projects helping clients understand the existing and future markets, including:

Inspired by Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough’s campaigns, my experience in this sector meant that I know how hard it would be to change, so I decided to help by advising on innovation and technology that embrace a carbon-neutral future.

Who is your ideal client/customer? An investor looking to purchase or fund a business in our sector, appointing us to help understand the market and target potential businesses, then being involved in the due diligence process and ongoing management consultancy in the purchased business.

Best moment so far? Being appointed industry consultant in the due diligence process, involving one of the largest International HVAC groups in the world.

Biggest challenges? The pandemic means we all need to better present ourselves online. Through the Chamber, I have engaged with Richard Dawson, Digital Marketing Strategist, to help me improve my online communications and LinkedIn, to attract more business.

Benefits of the Chamber Start-Up club since you joined? I have enjoyed meeting fellow Start-Up Club members, sharing experiences and solutions to overcome similar problems. My membership is already reaping rewards, I was informed about a DiT / Business Wales, virtual UAE Trade mission, I applied and have been accepted on the mission.

Lessons learnt…what would you do differently and why! Not be tempted by easy ‘low hanging fruit’ business options, instead I followed my heart and passion, which generate job satisfaction and rewarded me with a sense of achievement.

Project Description

Client Location

Alternatives to fossil fuel burning appliances


Boilers v Heat Pump


Decarbonisation in Poland and options


Viability / Challenges of switching Natural Gas to Hydrogen Gas


If you want to get in touch with Geoff Hobbs, please contact him on: 07977 249458 or via geoff@geoffhobbsuk.com


ACT increases capacity with the delivery of new 900T press. ACT recently commissioned a new 900 tonne press to expand capacity for existing projects and increase processing capability for new projects using recycled plastics.

With a growing demand for a cleaner environment, ACT are leading the way by processing various recycled polymers in favour of prime materials.

For further details, contact David Lewis at Applied Component Technology, david.lewis@applied-components.com.

Applied Component Technology, based in Wrexham, have been using recycled plastic for some automotive applications for a number of years. In the last two years, public awareness of single use plastics has dramatically changed the perception of the plastics industry. With television programs highlighting the effects of plastics in the eco system, it makes sense to actively promote our intention to reduce the reliance upon prime grades. David Lewis, sales manager for nonautomotive said: “We are seeing more and more enquiries where the need for processing recycled material is the driver for growth. One enquiry specifically centred around the processing of plastic waste collected from beaches, here in the UK. The material is to be cleaned and granulated ready for use in our facility.”

North Wales manufacturer announces three new appointments in sales and marketing Scanwel Ltd, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality vacuum equipment for academia, government laboratories and industry has enhanced its team with three new additions in sales and marketing, further consolidating its growth ambitions for the coming five years.

Alastair Crawford and Victoria Eason have been appointed as Territory Sales Managers and Katy Harrison has been appointed as Marketing Manager. With 15 years’ experience working with Vacuum Equipment, Alastair is no stranger to the industry, with a strong knowledge of Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) techniques and thin films, especially hard wear resistant coatings and low friction Solid Lubricant coatings. His experience spans to selling a wide variety of Vacuum products from thin film deposition tools and complex chambers through to standard off the shelf components. Victoria is an experienced sales professional and former forensic scientist with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Liverpool. Victoria has eight years lab experience and thirteen years selling into scientific accounts including Chemistry, Biotech, Academia, Petrochem, Government and Environmental. Katy has over 17 years of marketing experience, working for F.M.C.G (FastMoving Consumer Goods) companies such as Cadbury’s and Dairy Crest before

moving into the B2B sector for service providers in the oil & gas industry and most recently, the cable manufacturing industry. David Freeman, Managing Director, Scanwel, says; “We warmly welcome the new sales and marketing professionals to the team to bolster our current structure and have no doubt that their experience will help us to achieve our growth aspirations”.



Blacon Community Sports Hub plans take significant step forward

their vision and determination to see it succeed. It simply wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for them. Their passion to support children and young people is inspiring and everyone at the Westminster Foundation is very proud to support them.” Jim Green, Chief Executive at Chester FC Community Trust commented: “We are thrilled The Duke of Westminster is supporting this project and greatly appreciative of the enthusiasm and understanding he has shown for the many benefits it will have for Blacon and sport in Chester. “This will be a place where sport’s ability to transform lives, help young people fulfil their potential and create stronger, healthier communities will be brought to life, and this grant includes a significant contribution to the costs of building the sports hub and funding over the next five years to design and deliver projects that engage and improve local communities. “The Westminster Foundation’s passion for creating opportunities and supporting communities is shared by the Community Trust and we look forward to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”

Chester FC Community Trust’s plans to create a new community sports hub in Blacon took a significant step forward after the Westminster Foundation announced a major grant to support the initiative. The Westminster Foundation, led by the Duke of Westminster, will commit £520,000 over the next five years to the King George V Sports Hub project, following approval of plans for the site by the Council’s planning committee at the end of last year. The £1.6m regeneration project is being driven forward by Chester FC Community Trust and Chester West and Cheshire Council. The initiative will breathe new life into the site and enable the Community Trust to deliver a range of community projects for people of all ages and abilities. It will provide a first-class sports facility for the next generation, as well as providing education, training and employment opportunities. Before lockdown in October 2020, the Duke of Westminster visited a Community


Trust football holiday camp for 5-15 year olds at Chester FC’s Deva Stadium to hear more about the project. That followed an earlier visit in September to the site in Blacon where the new sports hub will be based. The Duke of Westminster, Chair of the Westminster Foundation said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will bring so many benefits to children and young people in the community across all age ranges. When we’re not in lockdown and you see the sheer joy on the children’s faces taking part in activities like the holiday camp, you instantly understand the importance that team sport has on their happiness and development. And for the older group, the opportunities to access further training and earn BTEC qualifications are very welcome, especially at such a challenging time. “I’d like to thank everyone behind this project at Chester FC Community Trust for

King George V Playing Fields is a prominent site in the community which has historically been well used for team sports and recreation, however a lack of investment and maintenance has seen the pitches deteriorate into a poor condition. The project will turn derelict sports fields into a new 3G floodlit pitch and improved grass pitches to host a wide variety of football activities, including mental health and wellbeing football, disability football, walking football and development sessions for young boys and girls A refurbished Clubhouse will also act as a flexible community space for meetings and training including a new post-16 education provision helping young people gain a BTEC Sport qualification, FA coaching awards and practical experience to create a pathway to higher education and employment.

“I’d like to thank everyone behind this project at Chester FC Community Trust for their vision and determination to see it succeed. It simply wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for them.”


Charity opening new branch in Ellesmere Port A Merseyside charity in operation for over 28 years is opening a new branch in Ellesmere Port to support local residents. Caring Connections specialises in the provision of support services to reduce isolation and improve levels of independence in vulnerable adults. The charity will be bringing home care services, bereavement counselling support, emotional wellbeing projects and more to the local area. The charity will be based in Stanlaw Abbey Business Centre and is currently looking for new employees from the local community. Paul Growney CEO of Caring Connections said ‘We have been planning to open a service in Ellesmere Port for a while now, we believe our offer of support services and experience can help support the needs of the local community. We hope to add to the local offer to residents and improve access to home care support / fully funded counselling and support.’ In the past 6 months, the organisation has delivered over 25,000 hours of care, 780 fully funded one to one counselling sessions, delivered 380 social isolation hampers and provided 580 wellbeing support calls. All of this support will be coming to the Ellesmere Port area starting mid-Feb 2021. One of the organisations central services is The Barbara Bettle Project which is a specialist counselling service for people suffering from complex bereavement, such as bereavement by suicide/bereavement through COVID. This service offers a

professional counsellor at a no cost to people in need and in the past four years has delivered over 4,000 counselling sessions to Merseyside residents. Katy Turner, Manager of the Ellesmere Port Branch, said “This new development is really important to us and I look forward to meeting with members of the local community to see how we can adapt and add to our service offer to further meet the needs of local residents”.

‘We have been planning to open a service in Ellesmere Port for a while now, we believe our offer of support services and experience can help support the needs of the local community. We hope to add to the local offer to residents and improve access to home care support / fully funded counselling and support.’

If people would like to find out more please visit www.caringconnections.org.uk / https://www.facebook.com/caringconnect1/ . Local residents can find out about jobs available see the below https://www.caringconnections.org.uk/careers 37

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.

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Additional £270 million funding for Welsh businesses commitment to supporting the economy and is a vote of confidence in the hard work of our team at the Development Bank of Wales. “More than ever, there is a need to deliver efficient and effective ways to support economic sustainability and growth at a time when resources are finite. This new commitment by the Welsh Government offers stability and certainty for all sectors of the Welsh business ecosphere and will anchor our future strategy. With private sector leverage of 1:1 the £500 million investment will generate a total investment of £1 billion in to the Welsh economy over the next decade.

• Wales Flexible Investment Fund expanded to £500 million with £270 million in additional funds from Welsh Government • Fund to provide £1 billion investment impact by 2030 • Long-term, flexible finance available for all Welsh businesses with viable business plans as part of a post-Covid business support package The Development Bank of Wales has welcomed today’s announcement of £270 million in additional funding for the Wales Flexible Investment Fund. Provided by the Welsh Government, the capital increases the funding available to £500 million. The additional capital provides an investment horizon of 10 years for the Development Bank, and funding confidence for Welsh SME’s until 2030. Created in 2017 as an immediate response to support Welsh business following the Brexit vote, the fund supports a range of deal types with no geographical restrictions. Loans and equity investments between £25,000 and £10 million, including 15 year loan terms, are available to both SMEs and non-SMEs. The fund has to date invested nearly £40m across 131 investments, creating or safeguarding over 1,800 jobs.


The announcement comes as the Welsh Government publishes its Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission, which sets out how it will work to rebuild Wales’ post Covid economy. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Welsh Government, the Development Bank acts as a cornerstone organisation for the Welsh economy, supporting Welsh Government policy through investment. The enhanced £500 million forward commitment to Welsh businesses will offer patient capital, helping the country’s recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic. Gareth Bullock, Chair of the Development Bank of Wales said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates the Welsh Government’s

“Looking to the future, there is now much to do as Welsh businesses contemplate how they recover. As an organisation we are committed to supporting them through and beyond the current economic crisis. From sole traders, through to growing larger enterprises. We work with our customers, our strategic partners and other funders to offer a comprehensive economic package for Wales.” Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales said: “Building on the support offered by Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme in 2020 and our other SME funds, this new funding package delivers a roadmap for future investment following a turbulent 12 months in which most sectors were affected by coronavirus. The expanded £500 million Wales Flexible Investment Fund will continue to offer patient capital from £25,000 up to £10 million to both SMEs and non-SMEs, with viable business propositions, to ensure continued economic activity in Wales. “Our unique funding structure means we can invest where other funders may not be able to, plugging the gap between the ambitions of Welsh entrepreneurs and their finance needs. The newly boosted Wales Flexible Investment Fund fosters the conditions needed to allow businesses to thrive, stimulate innovation and create and retain high quality jobs for a prosperous and secure Wales. We’re delighted to continue working closely with our partners in the Welsh Government to help Welsh businesses thrive.”

Huw, A1 Eyewear Wrecsam / Wrexham Huw, A1 Eyewear Wrecsam / Wrexham

Rydyn ni yma Rydyn yma i helpunieich ibusnes helpu eich i busnes lwyddo i lwyddo bancdatblygu.cymru developmentbank.wales bancdatblygu.cymru developmentbank.wales

We’re here We’re here to help your to help your business business succeed succeed

Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc yw cwmni daliannol Grŵp sy’n masnachu fel Banc Datblygu Cymru. Mae’r Grŵp yn cynnwys nifer o is-gwmnïau sydd wedi’u cofrestru gydag enwau gan gynnwys y llythrennau BDC. Mae Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc yn gwmni cyllid datblygu sy’n eiddo i Weinidogion Cymru yn gyfan gwbl ac nid yw’n cael ei awdurdodi na’i reoleiddio gan yr Awdurdod Rheoli Darbodus (ARhD) nac yr Awdurdod Ymddygiad Ariannol (AYA). Mae gan Fanc Datblygu Cymru dri o is-gwmnïau sy’n cael eu hawdurdodi a’u rheoleiddio gan yr AYA. Noder os gwelwch yn dda nad yw Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc nac unrhyw un o’i is-gwmnïau yn sefydliadau bancio ac nid ydynt yn gweithredu fel y cyfryw. Mae hyn yn golygu nad yw unrhyw un o endidau’r grŵp yn gallu derbyn adneuon gan y cyhoedd. Gellir dod o hyd i siart strwythur cyfreithiol cyflawn ar gyfer Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc ar Bancdatblygu.cymru. Development Bank of Wales Plc (Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc) is the holding company of a Group that trades as Development Bank of Wales. The Group is made up of a number of subsidiaries which are registered with names including the initials DBW. Development Bank of Wales Plc is a development finance company wholly owned by the Welsh Ministers and it is neither authorised nor regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Development Bank of Wales has three subsidiaries whichdaliannol are authorised and masnachu regulated by FCA. PleaseCymru. note that neither of Wales Plc nor any ofcofrestru its subsidiaries are banking institutions or operateBDC. as such. thatCymru none of the entities Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc yw cwmni Grŵp sy’n felthe Banc Datblygu Mae’r Grŵpthe ynDevelopment cynnwys niferBank o is-gwmnïau sydd wedi’u gydag enwau gan gynnwys y llythrennau MaeThis Bancmeans Datblygu ccc yngroup gwmni cyllid are able to accept deposits from the public. complete legalacstructure Development Bank of Wales Plc can be found at Developmentbank.wales. datblygu sy’n eiddo i Weinidogion CymruAyn gyfan gwbl nid yw’n chart cael eifor awdurdodi na’i reoleiddio gan yr Awdurdod Rheoli Darbodus (ARhD) nac yr Awdurdod Ymddygiad Ariannol (AYA). Mae gan Fanc Datblygu Cymru dri o is-gwmnïau sy’n cael eu hawdurdodi a’u rheoleiddio gan yr AYA. Noder os gwelwch yn dda nad yw Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc nac unrhyw un o’i is-gwmnïau yn sefydliadau bancio ac nid ydynt yn gweithredu fel y cyfryw. Mae hyn yn golygu nad yw unrhyw un o endidau’r grŵp yn gallu derbyn adneuon gan y cyhoedd. Gellir dod o hyd i siart strwythur cyfreithiol cyflawn ar gyfer Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc ar Bancdatblygu.cymru.

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IR35 - are you ready? Many aren’t! their own personal services companies has rather slipped under the radar. However, from 6 April 2021 the new rules for IR35 apply and there is a growing body of evidence that many of those affected are ill prepared. With the focus on Covid-19 and Brexit, the rapidly approaching start of the new rules affecting those providing services through

The off payroll working rules (the formal name for IR35) affect those working through a personal services company (“PSC”). If the rules apply because the relationship between the PSC and their customer is “employment like” then the income of the PSC is effectively taxed as if it were from a normal employment. For years

the responsibility has been on the PSC to determine whether the rules apply or not and for them to implement them – and in truth many have ignored them. As a result, the Government decided to put the obligation on those using the services of the PSC to decide whether there was an employment-like relationship. If the end user of the services decides there is such a relationship, then the payments to the PSC are subject to PAYE and NIC – and if the payments are made by a third party such as an agency, they will have the responsibility for deducting the tax. If you have any questions about IR35, please contact us on 01743 273273 or email hello@wrpartners.co.uk so we can talk to you about the actions you may need to take.



INPD Sets up New Specialist Division as Demand Soars marketing, governance, managing teams remotely, succession planning and business development. Clients range from public sector organisations and charities to blue-chip companies, family-owned businesses and small and medium-sized firms across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Many clients are multi-national firms with staff based in several countries.

Leadership and management training company In Professional Development has created a new specialist division offering bespoke courses to businesses and organisations across the UK and internationally after seeing a huge spike in demand. INPD has seen revenues for its bespoke programmes double in the past year to £320,000. Now, the Wigan-based company has set up a dedicated bespoke training division, headed by director Jon Palmer. Becky Highton has been promoted from event coordinator to the new role of bespoke training manager. Elena Adi has joined INPD as bespoke training coordinator, with responsibility for ensuring the successful delivery of the programmes. INPD’s bespoke courses cover topics such as strategic leadership, finance,

Spencer’s Friends adapts to pandemic with Virtual Visit Service The pandemic has for many, forced us to operate our businesses in different ways which has made life interesting and challenging in equal measures! Spencer’s Friends business model has certainly had to change and, in all honesty, possibly for the better. Spencer’s Friends is a kids mobile shoe fitting service where Cerys Millington, Owner, comes to the home, measures the kid’s feet and perfectly fits a pair of suitable shoes, catering from first walkers right up to Secondary school age.


The bespoke programmes are currently being delivered online and range in length from one day to 12 days, spread over several weeks or months. Jon said: “In the past, we provided bespoke training on an ad-hoc basis, but it has become a real growth area for the business and we have now decided to formalise our offering with the launch of a dedicated division. “We have gone from delivering a handful of bespoke courses in 2018, our first year of trading, to over 90 in 2020.” Jon said he pioneered INPD’s bespoke programmes after identifying that not every individual or company required off-the-shelf training or standard programmes. “We discovered that a growing number of clients were seeking content that was tailored to their specific needs to have the maximum impact to suit their particular business goals,” he said. Cerys commented: “During the 1st lockdown, because of the fabulous weather, most fittings were done outside in the open air, coupled with my extensive PPE made the experience very safe. However, I did come across some families who were shielding, isolating or were just simply not comfortable having people coming into their homes. This is when I developed my Virtual Visit and Doorstep Delivery service.” The Virtual Visit service starts with Cerys talking over the phone with the customer, gathering various information and explaining how to use a basic measuring process which helps her to identify the approximate size the child would need. Once the information has been collated, Cerys then sends the customer a selection of pictures of available stock and they would decide which option they would like. “Sometimes I would take a couple of options for the customer to try. I would then deliver to the house, the child would try the shoes on and at a distance I would direct the parent to make certain checks or just

“From the feedback we received, it was apparent that our bespoke programmes were proving very effective and that there was an opportunity to offer it on a wider basis. “Drawing on the expertise of our academic partners, we have seen demand soar for our high-impact bespoke training designed to help companies and organisations improve the way they work, increase productivity and become more efficient. “The programmes are designed to help individuals take their learning back into the workplace and benefit them in their personal lives, as well as in their professional roles. “We are very ambitious for our bespoke training division and have plans to grow the offering wider in the UK and further across the globe. Jon added: “Becky fully deserves her promotion to her new role. She is very well organised, has excellent administrative skills, and manages partnerships and relationships very capably. “We are also delighted to welcome Elena to support clients on the customer journey and ensure the successful delivery of our bespoke training programmes. She is an experienced event coordinator and is a great addition to our team.” INPD’s courses cater for chief executives, directors, managers, board members and other senior leaders. They are run in conjunction with academic and professional partners including the University of Chester, the University of York, the Chartered Management Institute and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. leave the bag on the Doorstep and call them from my van.” said Cerys. Payment is usually made via PayPal or bank transfer, all in all a very simple process. Offering this service gave Cerys the opportunity to tap into a number of new customers which were quite often referred to by existing customers. Cerys said “Luckily for me kid’s feet don’t stop growing during a pandemic!”


New Door Entry Camera Terminals with Health Screening Functions

a pre-set value, the device issues a local audible alarm and can report the event to a mobile phone and/or its computer-based monitoring software. If the temperature is within an acceptable range, the camera terminal can signal an access control system to unlock the door. The monitoring software provides activity reports including information for use with ‘Track and Trace’. The camera terminals can store up to 25,000 events and the software up to 30,000 facial profiles.

Remsdaq, a leading manufacturer of access control systems, has launched a new range of facial recognition camera terminals to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and provide contactless door entry. Their installation can help an organisation meet UK government guidelines to make workplaces COVID-secure.

the screening of people entering offices, factories, care homes, surgeries, hospitals, schools, restaurants and retail outlets. The camera terminals can be set-up as a standalone screening solution or used in place of a traditional card reader or keypad in buildings with an access control system installed.

“Our new camera terminals have an important role to play in our fight against Coronavirus” commented David Ross, UK Business Development Manager for Remsdaq. “The devices not only protect critical workers during lockdown. They can help businesses to reopen safely when lockdowns ease”.

The camera terminals can be placed at a building entrance or any other door leading to a workspace that must be made safe for users. Typical applications including

When a person looks into the 7inch screen, the devices automatically screen for a high temperature, to within +/- 0.3°C accuracy. If the measured temperature is higher than

The camera terminals can be bought online from Remsdaq’s new ecommerce website (www.entrostore.com) alongside their other contactless access control solutions.

North Wales Entrepreneur Returns to his Roots with Latest Business Venture

range of solutions to help leaders and their organisations improve the resilience and wellbeing of their workforce.

care in 2016. He claimed his life insurance and set about rebuilding his own health, life and business. Five years later, as a terminal cancer survivor he is passionate about empowering and transforming people’s lives through Fast Workforce Wellness’ range of Resilience and Wellbeing solutions.

Mark Bryant, a North Wales based Entrepreneur, is returning to his Cheshire roots with his latest business venture, Fast Workforce Wellness, that has won a competitive tender for Resilience and Wellbeing Workshops in Cheshire and Warrington for Accelerate, an ESF funded project. Based in Mochdre, Fast Workforce Wellness is a division of Fast Way to Fitness which was established in late 2020 following a successful resilience and wellbeing programme run within the Social Services Department at Conwy County Borough Council. With the changes that came with the Covid pandemic, the Fast team recognised, and seized, the opportunity to launch Fast Workforce Wellness and its

Mark Bryant, operations director at Fast Workforce Wellness takes up the story; “Times of change can add to the stress of life and as a result of the pandemic, the workforce are almost certainly feeling the pressure as we all adapt to changes in how we live and work. During a crisis not many people look at launching a new business, but it was the perfect time for us. Building on the programme’s success with Conwy County Borough Council, we now have a range of dynamic 1-2-1 and group transformation courses and programmes which are WRAW (Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing) accredited. Winning the Accelerate tender confirmed our business decision was right, and as I was born in Chester and lived in Cheshire for over 20 years, I am excited to be back on my home turf.” Accelerate is run by the University of Chester, the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub giving anyone that lives and/or works in Cheshire West, Cheshire East and Warrington access to a range of funded skills solutions and training options. Fast Workforce Wellness has won seven lots within the tender which will see a programme of resilience and wellbeing training running throughout 2021. Developing resilience helps individuals increase their emotional fitness allowing them to bounce back more quickly from the stresses of life while wellbeing helps improve overall lifestyle that supports good physical health. Mark has first-hand experience of the important role resilience and wellbeing play in our lives having been put into palliative

Mark concludes; “Our programmes are designed to help leaders and businesses unlock hidden healthy performance in their teams. This will increase the workforce’s energy, develop a bulletproof mindset and build better relationships – all of which are crucial to having a healthier personal and professional life, and the creation of a positive working environment where individuals and organisations come together and thrive. “The Resilient YOU Workshops are on the 25th and 26th March, with a continuous programme thereafter. It is suitable for anyone who is employed or self-employed and at any level of seniority that wants to develop their resilience and wellbeing, and includes an assessment using the world’s first Wellbeing and Resilience psychometric tool and survey to provide delegates with a baseline on their overall resilience and wellbeing, plus a 30-minute 1-2-1 coaching session to help delegates uncover hidden levels of healthy high performance.” The Resilient YOU Workshop is open to anyone that is self-employed, an employee or an employer. For those in the Cheshire area that want to access Accelerate funding, they can reserve their place on the workshop at http://bit.ly/fastresilientyou. For those outside of the Accelerate catchment area they can take advantage of Fast Workforce Wellness’ launch promotional code giving you 50% off any ticket type LAUNCH50.



A Multi-Million pound ‘Commercial Village’ driven by retail, hospitality and education will provide a gateway to Wrexham town centre and boost the economy natural elements to give customers a true sense of Wales.” Maria added: “The florist, restaurant, coffee bar and salon will all be operated by industry professionals working alongside students to give them a taste of what’s to come in their future careers. “And importantly, the new building will play a pivotal role in helping Wrexham to build back from the challenges of the last year, particularly the retail and hospitality industries that were hit so hard.

The stunning £21m extension to Coleg Cambria Yale is yet to open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but work has been going on behind the scenes in preparation for when it is safe to unveil the Grove Park Road building.

will be pivotal in helping the hospitality and retail arenas make a positive recovery from the pandemic.

Cutting-edge facilities include a restaurant and training academy, florist, coffee bar and hair and beauty salon which will all come under the new Ial (Yale) brand.

“Our ethos – particularly at the restaurant – will be centered on supporting local producers and independent businesses and giving learners a real-life, real-time experience to prepare them for the world of work,” she said.

Students, staff, and the public will have access to these services and sectors, which complement existing provision and support the local economy at a challenging time for high streets across the country.

“All of our produce will be sourced locally where possible, and meat and vegetables will be grown and supplied by our landbased sites in Llysfasi and Northop.

Maria Stevens, Cambria’s Director of Commercial Operations, said the college

“Ial will showcase the very best of this region, right down to the interior of the restaurant itself, using glass, slate and other

“We plan on being a beacon of best practice, a leader in what needs to be a sustainable, responsible answer to the pandemic; when the time is right and it is safe to do so, Ial will be at the forefront of that recovery.” Cllr Terry Evans, Wrexham’s Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said the new facility will be an asset to the town centre for generations to come. “Ial is a fantastic addition to the site and young people can be assured of a quality experience and an excellent footing for their future careers,” said Cllr Evans. “It also complements plans for the regeneration of the town centre, and I wish everyone the very best of luck with this venture as we look to a more promising future.” Visit www.cambria.ac.uk for the latest news and information from Coleg Cambria.

“Our ethos – particularly at the restaurant – will be centered on supporting local producers and independent businesses and giving learners a real-life, real-time experience to prepare them for the world of work,” 46


THE PERSON BEHIND THE BUSINESS Rob Bemment, Managing Director at Delve Recruitment Ltd An overview of yourself and your current role. I am the founder and MD of Delve. I set the business up with the vision of creating and growing an international search business, using technology to allow us to support companies bringing in the best talent, globally, in technical markets. My motivation is to create something that I can look back and be proud of – delivering a high-quality service which the people that work with us buy into.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the variety the role offers. I get to work with some great people, supporting customers in different parts of the globe. Running your own business provides the opportunity to lead the business in your vision – flexibility to make the decisions we need without needing to go through layers of management. It’s great when we complete searches customers feeding pack positively provides great motivation for the team.

Was a role like this always what you aspired to? Working in the recruitment sector was something I didn’t know existed to be honest. I always had the desire to lead teams and run my own business but I just didn’t know in what field that would be in.

Tell us about your previous roles/ business journey. I moved into the recruitment sector whilst looking for a sales role (after graduating from University). I worked for a large PLC initially, progressed into a management role and then got the opportunity, with my then

manager, to set up a business backed by an engineering group. This was great as it gave me the chance to build my own team and business in environment with less risk. After successfully growing that business, I then took the step to set up my own business.

Tell us a bit about what you do outside of work to relax. Not much at the moment! I have a family with two young kids, love the outdoors and try to make sure we spend time together. Holidays are important to us and we have always liked to experience different cultures - although recently it’s been more “family holidays”. I try to be active and getting out on my bike with friends is a great way to unwind. Aside from that, I’ll watch any sport…

In an ideal world, what else would you like to be? I would have loved to have been a professional sportsperson – football, snooker, golf, cricket – not fussy but it would have been great to have had the talent to do that. I love travel and any role that revolves around that would be ideal. I’ve had opportunities to work abroad, including US and Australia, and that’s something we’ll look to do at some point in the future.

What advice would you give to anyone else in business? It may seem daunting at first, but you can achieve so much more than you may think. Put a plan together and then don’t be afraid to hire people better than you. Don’t try and take everything on – delegate. Take risks, be willing to invest, great people make a great business. Realise you can’t be perfect everyday and don’t be too harsh on yourself. Finally, chunk problems down (they are never as hard to solve as you think).



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Coachgaryjones 07853 982985

Countess of Chester Hospital Countess Health Park Liverpool Road Chester Cheshire CH2 1UL 01244 365000 http://www.coch.nhs.uk/

Nant y Lladron Bylchau Denbigh Conwy County Borough LL16 5SN 07771 9973982 https://limb-art.com

Lofty Giraffe Coaching 07739 908556 http://www.loftygiraffecoaching.com

North East Wales Mind Ltd

The Wellbeing Centre 23b Chester Street Mold, Flintshire CH7 1EG 01352 974430 Ltd https://www.newmind.org.uk

RPG Chartered Financial Planners Office at Gwernigron The Roe St Asaph Denbighshire Lancashire LL170HY 01745 582933 https://rpgcfp.co.uk/

Sage Green 07384 364287 https://www.sagegreenhr.co.uk

Scanwel Ltd Unit 15/16 Enterprise Park Bala Gwynedd LL23 7NL 44016 530281 https://www.scanwel.co.uk/ The House Nameplate company

07825 087251 https://www.theoutdoorboutique.com

Unit 16 Vauxhall industrial estate Ruabon Wrexham Wrexham County Borough LL14 6HA 01994 448677 https://www.housenameplate.co.uk/

Field Fresh Trading Ltd

The Sunrise Patisserie

Hafod Y Dre Uchaf Pentrefoelas Betws Y Coed Conwy County Borough LL24 0TA 01690 770122

07894 103177

Cyd Innovation

Trojan Investigations Ltd 01244 961766 http://www.trojaninvestigations.co.uk

Wrexham Tech

07514 8818232 https://wrexhamtech.co.uk/


Welcome to WCNW Chamber of Commerce


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

4. Advertise your events/workshops/ webinars

All news items are then considered to

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.

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.

the magazine you are currently reading!

5. Add and browse Member to Member offers

We host a monthly Maximising your

Take advantage of special offers and discounts from fellow Members or create your own to build interest in your products and services.

Membership meeting where you will

6. Editorial opportunities

held on the third Thursday of every month

Send any news that you might have; we will then post this on our website and share on our social media streams.

(currently held online) and you can book

2. Download your membership logo Login to your profile on our Portal and download your Membership logo and display on your website, email signature etc. 3. Check out our series of Round the Screen Networking events In normal circumstances, the Chamber holds regular networking events throughout the region which are a great way for you to make connections with like-minded business people. Following guidance from UK and Welsh government, our regular events have been postponed until further notice 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.

feature in our monthly newsletter and This means that one news story has the potential to reach over 10,000 contacts! Need advice on how to take advantage of the above benefits?

be talked through all of the above and be able to ask any questions about the benefits available to you. Meetings are

your place via our website (www.wcnwchamber.org.uk/events).

JOIN TODAY Register your interest on our website

www.wcnwchamber.org.uk 49


At Nightingale House in Wrexham, we are passionate about providing patient care for those with lifelimiting illnesses, whilst supporting their families and loved ones during difficult times. It takes a dynamic group of people to keep the hospice running 24/7 - from our highly trained clinical staff to our fundraisers, volunteers and support staff. As a charitable organisation, the hospice relies on 83% of its’ own fundraising to keep the facilities running year on year - a cost of £3,639,801. Our 12-bed in-patient service on Chester Road, Wrexham offers assessment and care for those patients with palliative care needs including chronic forms of cancer (either cancer that cannot be cured at diagnosis, or cancer that has come back), heart failure, and neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease. Our services are completely free-of-charge across our catchment area, stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire and East Denbighshire to Barmouth and the border towns including Oswestry and Whitchurch. And our passion for our patients’ care is also reflected through our fundraising efforts and our desire to connect with individuals and corporate sponsors in our community. Without reaching out and forging strong relationships with businesses, we would not be able to organise such successful events such as our Strictly Nightingales dance extravaganza, annual luncheons, the Nightingale 10k, or even the annual Christmas tree collection. Having corporate sponsorship allows us to maximise fundraising through creative means and other incentives beneficial to the supporters taking part. During 2020, we all had to rally to innovate and move our fundraising efforts online as


all our face-to-face events were stopped. Despite this, we managed to get a major fundraising campaign off the ground, with our unique Build A Balloon campaign scheduled to take flight this summer. Individuals and companies can sponsor a panel to either celebrate a special event or promote their business on our very own Nightingale House balloon. Fundraiser Sarah Povey said: “We value all of our corporate partners, in particular we enjoy developing relationships with new and old affiliates who can see the benefits their funding provides to the patients at the hospice. Our new campaign for 2021, “Build a balloon”, allows corporate sponsors to get involved and I am excited to be on this very unique journey of creating our very own hot air balloon, that will feature their company logo as well as Individual panels that can be sponsored by the general public.” Our fundraising doesn’t just support those who need end of life care, but also aims to give our patients the tools and skills to enhance and improve their enjoyment and quality of life. We believe a holistic approach is equally as important. That’s why we provide individual and group support through complementary therapies, art and music therapy, emotional, psychological and spiritual support. Last year, during lockdown, we provided virtual support, advice, assessment and treatment to 450 patients, carers and health care professionals each month.

One thing we are not at Nightingale House is complacent! We are constantly adapting and developing our services and the pandemic has highlighted how important positive change is. That’s why we introduced our Direct Referrals Service. Whilst we accept direct referrals from all clinical colleagues, we now facilitate and coordinate requests for support from patients and their loved ones over the telephone. Head of Clinical and Patient Services, Yvonne Lush believes the key message for potential service users is ‘Refer early, please don’t leave it too late’. Yvonne said: “Patients and their families don’t need a doctor’s referral to ring us as we can follow up the detailed paperwork with district nurses and GP practices after the call. We are finding that it takes the stress off patients and their families.” We are incredibly proud of the new facilities we can now offer following the completion of our recent modernisation project - a state of the art rehabilitation suite and treatment rooms, together with multi-use rooms with space to support families, including children and grandchildren.

To find out more about Nightingale House or if you would like to lend your support you can either phone us on 01978 316800 or go to our website at www.nightingalehouse.co.uk.

n ly e D f o le p o e p e th g in Serv n ly e D l b o p u th e a n sa a w G

ROB ROBERTS MP | AS Member of Parliament for Delyn Aelod Seneddol dros Delyn

Please contact me with any issues you would like to raise Cysylltwch â mi gydag unrhyw faterion yr hoffech eu codi

Constituency Office | Swyddfa etholaethol 8 Chester Street Mold CH7 1EG 01352 710 232

Westminster Office | Swyddfa Westminster House of Commons London SW1A 0AA 020 7219 4901

rob.roberts.mp@parliament.uk g you in e e s o t d r a w r www.rjroberts.co.uk Looking fo ncy! e u it t s n o c e h t robfordelyn around gweld chi Promoted by Rob Roberts MP of 8 Chester St, Mold, CH7 1EG.

eich t a n e la m y h Edryc th! e la o h t e r y h c l o amgy

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For help with your telecoms, contact Challenger to talk over your options.

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The team at Challenger pride themselves on delivering a quality service at every stage. Visit our website to see how we have helped a range of businesses make the most of their communications.


Profile for Benham Publishing Limited

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine March 2021  

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Includes the Latest Local and National Business news & Issues, with our local Regu...

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine March 2021  

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine, Includes the Latest Local and National Business news & Issues, with our local Regu...

Profile for benham