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Events going on in Hertfordshire this summer

LIGHT YOUR FIREBRAND Branding expert Mike Symes looks into what makes a brand so special


Advice from local experts at Optimus Sourcing



A look back at the previous winners from The Apprentice series to see what they are doing now


An A-Z of everything that is needed for business owners when completing their successful training

issue May 2011



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CONTENTS 04 08 10 16 27 28 29 31 32 33

NEWS A round up of the latest business news and stories from our region

INTERVIEW : MARK FULLER Mark Fuller, founder of Embassy Nightclubs, speaks to The HBI about his expanding empire

LEGAL Hertfordshire’s legal squad discuss the latest issues!

TECHNOLOGY A look at the iPhone5

SALES COLUMN Featuring The HBI’s regular sales expert Steve Clarke

EXECUTIVE PROFILE Hannah Couzens photography

AFTER HOURS A review of the Downhall Country House Hotel

WINE OF THE MONTH As part of National Wine Month

NETWORKING Regular contributor, Andy Lopata shares his thoughts on networking

DRIVE Introducing the new Infinity M35 Hybrid

DISTRIBUTION POINTS Ayot Green : The Waggonners I Cole Green : Panshanger Flying Club Baldock : Jester Hotel, Baldock Station, Ashwell Station I Cockfosters : Tube Station Harpenden : Harpenden House Hotel, Gleneagles Hotel, Harpenden Station Hatfield : Ramada Jarvis, Hatfield Oak Hotel, Porsche Centre, Fielder Centre Hertford : Hertford North Railway Station I Hertingfordbury : Whitehorse Hotel Hitchin : Hitchin Railway Station I Knebworth : Knebworth Station Letchworth : Letchworth Hall Hotel, Goldsmith Centre, Bizspace Letchworth, Business Centre West Little Wymondley : Redcoats Farm House Potters Bar : Wenta Potters Bar, Regus Potters Bar, Potters Bar Station, Wyllyotts Centre Radwell : Days Inn Baldock I Redbourn : Ramada Jarvis Royston : Murketts, Royston Station I St Albans : Quality Hotel Stevenage : Roebuck Hotel, Specialist Cars, Merc Stevenage, Premeire Inn Stevenage, BTC Centre, Cromwell Hotel, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage Station Tewin : Tewinbury Farm I Turnford : Cheshunt Mariott The Business Club : West Herts Ware : Hanbury Manor I Watford : Ramada Jarvis I Welwyn : Welwyn North Station Welwyn Garden City : Weltech Centre





CONTRIBUTORS Becky Lewis Terry Sullivan Jade Stoner Katie Richardson Emily Turnbull Ayesha Bailey Hannah Couzens Gillian Harding Lesley Willies Clive Borthwick Mike Symes Blake Hennigan Steve Clarke Andy Lopata DESIGNER Karen Birch

ADVERTISING Terry Sullivan

Sona Shah TEL : 0844 358 5800

Published by : Business Independent Ltd. Old Batford Mill Lower Luton Road Harpenden Hertfordshire AL5 5BZ

COPYRIGHT Copyright: 2010 Business Independent Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior consent of the publishers. The views expressed in any of the Business Independent series of regional magazines are not necessarily the views of the publishers Business Independent Ltd. Whilst Business Independent Ltd has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, neither they norany contributing author can accept any legal responsibility for any consequences that may arise from errors or omissions contained in this publication or from acting on any opinions or advice given. In particular, this publication is general and not a substitute for professional advice and you should consult your own professional advisors where appropriate.


EDITOR’S WELCOME May is now upon us and we have another exciting issue lined up for you. Summer will soon be with us and as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, why not see what entertainment Hertfordshire has to offer? We bring you some of the best events going on during May, see our feature on p15. As part of Adult Learning Week, which celebrates its 20th year this year on 14 -20 May, we decided to go in search of what was available in Hertfordshire in terms of apprenticeships and skills training. We spoke to local training experts at Optimum Sourcing who told us on p26 what to do when choosing a training provider. Carrying on with the theme of apprenticeships, we caught up with the winners and finalists of some of the previous series of The Apprentice to see Where Are They Now? (p20) We were invited into the fabulous Downhall Country House Hotel set in the countryside near Hampstead Heath. Read all about our relaxing stay on p30. We also take an interesting look into what makes brands so special on p28 and then we went off for a spin in the all new Inifiniti M35 Hybrid – the cleaner, faster and greener electric car. Enjoy your latest issue! - Jenna

ST ALBANS ENTREPRENEUR LAUNCHES FIRST EVER STANDALONE TEXTING SMOKE ALARM A local St Albans inventor, Matthew Newman, who won £50,000 in the Barclays Take One Small Step competition last year to help him develop his revolutionary idea of a texting fire alarm, has launched the product to the UK market. Firetext is the only standalone battery-operated smoke alarm that uses text messages, as well as an audible alarm, to remotely alert home owners to a fire in their house. The alarm, which also impressed the judges in the Inventor of the Year competition at this year’s Ideal Home Show and made it to the final four, can store up to four numbers so users for example could input their number, a neighbour’s, family member’s or a friend’s. “I moved into a house in St Albans last year that needed a lot of work and I travel a lot for business so I was always a bit concerned about an electrical fault leading to a fire in the house while I wasn’t there. I was looking for a smoke alarm that could text me to tell me if there was smoke in my house when I was away, but I didn’t want one that had to be wired into the mains. When I couldn’t find one on the market, I invented my own. The Firetext smoke detector has been trialled by the Alzheimer’s Society and the Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service. The Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service says: “The FIRETEXT smoke alarm has been going through extended concept trials within the Herts region since 2010 and once it is a fully commercial offer we are sure it will provide further and enhanced warning to a fire threat. We particularly think this type of alarm is greatly beneficial to carers of the elderly or those with severe disabilities who wish to live independently.”

LETCHWORTH-BASED MANUFACTURER CELEBRATES 25 YEAR MILESTONE 2011 sees the 25th anniversary of Letchworth-based FB Chain Ltd. FB Chain is a leading component supplier to the materials handling industry and produces the type of chain products used to ensure the smooth operation of a range of equipment from forklift trucks to conveyors. “A company’s 25th anniversary is a significant accomplishment as it marks a quarter of a century in business and celebrates a prosperous future in the market,” says the company’s managing director, Peter Church. He continues: “There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector has changed considerably in recent years and we are proud that products made by us in the UK at Letchworth are renowned the world over for their quality.” “We find that companies in every area of manufacturing are seeking suppliers who are comfortable with sharing their business information in a partnership approach. Of course, as global competition increases margins will continue to come under pressure so an open and honest partnership is essential. This has always been FB Chain’s approach and it is a philosophy that we expect to serve us well for the next 25 years.”

BLASTBEAT LAUNCH Anne Main, MP for St Albans, was proud to introduce the charity Blastbeat to the St Albans constituency on April 1 in the District Council offices. Blastbeat, a charity that encourages students to organize and run their own social enterprises, provides the opportunity to learn real life work skills through the fun medium of music. Funded and mentored by local businesses, young people put on their own “battle of the bands” competition while learning teamwork, co-operation and other important skills throughout the course of the programme. Anne said: “I am delighted Blastbeat was launched in St. Albans. I hope as many schools as possible engage in this worthwhile project. It is a programme which benefits schools, pupils, local businesses, and the greater community”.

NEW RECRUIT TO TARGET FRESH MARKETS A play and fitness equipment company has recently taken on a new recruit to help target new markets. Rob Hetherington who is 29 and lives in St Albans, recently joined Lappset Playworld (LPUK) as an Area Sales Manager for London and the Home Counties. He joined the company from Sutcliffe Play, where he spent two successful years, after previously working in other sales and marketing roles. Rob said: “What first attracted me to Lappset Playworld is the way the business combines the wealth of experience from both global parent companies in Finland and the US. It was clear they had both had big ambitions for forward-thinking play in the UK and that was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.” “Secondly, I admire the wide range of quality products that LPUK carries. The extensive range enables me to match every client’s unique specification, ensuring they are 100 per cent happy with the finished result. The variety of equipment means that although we are still devoted to traditional play, we can also offer customers solutions to address their fitness needs or community unity issues.” Chris Jones, Managing Director of Lappset Playworld, said: “Rob’s excellent credentials within the play industry meant appointing him was an easy decision. His enthusiasm for play, especially the more innovative equipment, is infectious. As a company, we are keen to expand into different markets and Rob is the ideal person to have on board to help us do this.” Within LPUK, Rob’s responsibilities will include focusing on new products and innovation, such as Lappset Parkour Solutions, LPUK’s own range of parkour equipment and products that combine electronic play and movement, including the NEOS range. Rob is also keen to build on the profile of the world-renowned Woodward skate parks in the UK, and to target wellness centres where he believes LPUK equipment has the ability to improve the wellbeing of residents.

DELIGHT AS COMMUNITY INVESTMENT TAX RELIEF SAVED IN BUDGET Philanthropy has been given a boost by the budget. The community finance organisation, Foundation East, is delighted that Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR) will continue. The scheme is designed to encourage social investment by individuals and organisations, with funds being made available to businesses and community organisations that have been refused bank finance. Katy Ford, Chief Executive of Foundation East, says: “This is brilliant news as the future of CITR has been in doubt for some time. Community Finance companies throughout the country have conducted a concerted lobbying campaign to retain this tax efficient incentive and will now consult with the government to see how the scheme can be made more effective.” CITR was launched ten years ago to stimulate altruistic investment through Community Development Finance Institutions, such as Foundation East. These social enterprises provide fair and affordable business and personal loans to those unable to access finance from banks. Corporate or individual investors purchasing shares in Foundation East under the CITR scheme earn tax relief of 5 per cent per year for five years on the amount invested. Nationally CITR has raised £70m to date. Although Foundation East will loan to any business that has a viable business plan, the organisation is particularly interested in supporting initiatives that offer a community benefit.

CITR represents the only widely applicable tax relief available to the social investment market for both corporation tax and income tax payers.



Katy continues: “We hope this endorsement will encourage more individuals and companies to become members of Foundation East, their investment helping to boost economic growth in the eastern region.”

ASHBOURNE INSURANCE OF CHESHUNT CELEBRATE 30TH ANNIVERSARY WITH CHARITY FUNDRAISING EXTRAVAGANZA In celebration of 30 years of service, Ashbourne Insurance of Cheshunt hosted a charity fundraiser at the Cheshunt Marriott with more than 150 local business customers, suppliers, family and staff in attendance. They raised more than £3,000 at their 30th Birthday Extravaganza on Thursday March 24 through raffle prize ticket sales, lookalike photos, donations and a silent auction of several signed and framed limited edition football prints donated by football legend, Bob Wilson OBE; and a selection aviation prints donated by Gulf War RAF hero John Nichol including a rare signed print entitled: Desert Storm, Tornado. The Mayor, Councillor, Mr Mark Mills-Bishop attended the special anniversary event last week to officially mark the occasion together with a surprise visit from Hertfordshire’s Golden Balls himself (David Beckham lookalike, Andy Harmer). Guests were invited to have their own personal portrait photograph taken and printed on the evening with “Becks” for a donation to the Willow Foundation. Peter Smits, Ashbourne Managing Director said, “We wanted to thank our loyal local customers, staff, friends and family with an evening of fun and entertainment which celebrated not only a great milestone for all of us at Ashbourne Insurance, but also celebrated everything Hertfordshire. We are proud to mark 30 years of service in Cheshunt - the key strength of any business is the attitude and skills of its people, and as a team we have 30 years experience of offering our local customers personal and professional advice.” “The Willow foundation is a charity we have worked closely with for the past three years and we have heard first hand from Bob and Megs Wilson how our fundraising efforts benefit the recipients of Willow Special Days Out. Thank you to everyone who came to support us on our special evening and for those local businesses who donated prizes and services for such a deserving charity.”

THE RETURN OF IT’S A “KNOCKOUT! COLITIS & CROHN’S UK LOOKING FOR TEAMS On Sunday 17 July 2011, locally based charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK are holding their annual “It’s a Knockout!” event to raise awareness of the diseases at the OA sports ground, Woollam Playing Fields, St Albans.

       

The event took place in 2010 for the first time and participants said of the event; “It was an absolutely brilliant day,” “Thanks for a great day,” “Can we do it every weekend?” “It was awesome”. Teams who took part in 2010 included Clydesdale Bank, St Albans Chamber of Commerce and The Alban Arena.

The cost of joining in the thrills and spill of the St Albans It’s a Knockout Challenge is a non-refundable entry donation of £300 per team payable on registration plus sponsorship of at least £100 per team member (additional to the entry donation). Colitis and Crohns are two conditions that can strike any one at any age, although teenagers and young adults are most at risk. There is no known cure and symptoms last a lifetime. The conditions are painful, exhausting and unpredictable and can have a devastating impact on daily life. They affect 1 in 250 people in the UK. For more information and to enter, please visit


  

The charity is seeking teams of 10 to take part in the 2011 event. This event is a fantastic team building opportunity for colleagues in corporate sectors and community businesses. With “knockout” games designed for all abilities, no training required and extra points to score for those teams who raise the most in sponsorship, bring cheerleaders or wear fancy dress costume, this is an event not to be missed! Twenty teams of up to ten fun loving adults per team can take part and really let their hair down, enjoy the summer and raise money for the charity.

 

   

             

 

This is a remarkable achievement for Ian Smith, who has been with Price Bailey forty years. In 1971, the year of decimalisation, Ian Smith graced Price Bailey’s door and has never looked back. After a five year career with the Inland Revenue (now the HMRC), Ian decided to move from his London base and join Price Bailey Chartered Accountants at the Guild House in Water Lane. Ian’s first role was tax senior and very soon progressed to tax manager. In those days the sophisticated technology included drum calculators, Kalamazoo and spirit duplicators - for most of us this technology would seem alien. His loyalty, integrity and diligence to his clients and colleagues make him very special. Richard Price, Chairman of Price Bailey LLP and son of a founding member of the firm, said it was a privilege to work with Ian. He has worked with the firm for more than half the firm’s history and has seen many changes mostly for the better which has made it a top 40 firm. Ian commented: “I practice what is preached but often ignored in society and that is care and courtesy go hand in hand. In my forty year career with the firm the technology may have changed significantly but gaining the trust of your clients is paramount and never letting them down is crucial.” Ian continues to be a valued member of the Private Client team advising clients on tax efficient ways to improve their finances.

CARLA WINS ELITE HOTELS’ EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AWARD Carla Garrett has an extra reason to smile after winning Elite Hotels’ Group Employee of the Year award. Carla, who joined Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa before it opened to the public, won the overall award after being named Luton Hoo’s 2010 Employee of the Year. The hotel’s lounge and bar supervisor was selected from the four winners of the Employee of the Year title, or any employee nominated on more than one occasion for the Employee of the Month, at Luton Hoo and its sister hotels, Ashdown Park and the Grand Hotel in East Sussex and Tylney Hall in Hampshire. Carla was presented with her prize, a Red Letter experience voucher, by Graeme Bateman, Managing Director of Elite Hotels. Before joining Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa in September 2007 Carla was a supervisor at the cafe at Luton and Dunstable Hospital. “I could hardly believe it when I was told I had won the first award so to hear that I was the group Employee of the Year was a fantastic surprise,” said 22-year-old Carla. Carla, who was born and bred in Luton, originally joined the hotel as a lounge bar waitress and was promoted to her present position ten months ago. “It has been very exciting to have been involved with the hotel since the outset and when I first arrived it hadn’t opened,” she said. “It’s a really interesting place to work and what I enjoy most is meeting so many different people.” Mr Bateman said: “Carla was chosen due to her major contribution to the success of the lounge department, which is one of the focal points at Luton Hoo and often the first area visited by guests. Since joining the hotel she has made a big impression on guests and staff with her cheerful personality and warm welcome.” “Customer service is at the heart of what we do and members of staff strive very hard to provide the very best service and exceed guest expectations, which is why we like to reward them with our own internal awards.” In November 2010 Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa won the award for the Most Outstanding Service, UK and Ireland, in the annual Condé Nast Johansens Annual Awards for Excellence.

NEWS IN BRIEF SCHOOL GETS ACADEMY STATUS The John Warner School in Hoddesdon has officially converted to an academy, after receiving confirmation from the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. The secondary school on Stanstead Road became an academy in early April, following a consultation with parents, staff and governors at the school. Headteacher David Kennedy said: “The process was fairly straightforward. We had good support from the Department for Education.” “An academy school will give us the flexibility and more investment in maintaining the education and to bring about improvements at our school and partner schools.” COUNCIL LEADER TO DRIVE FORWARD BUSINESS IN HERTFORDSHIRE Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, has been elected by leaders of local authorities in Hertfordshire to sit on the interim board of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Hertfordshire LEP is one of 30 partnerships across England and Wales responsible for driving economic growth and creating job opportunities in their area. Cllr Taylor said: “The board will be looking at how we can develop skills, employment, infrastructure and investment in the county. I am looking forward to the challenge of assisting the LEP in growing the number of jobs locally.

A LOOK AT WHAT SOME OF THE HBI FOLLOWERS ARE SAYING ON TWITTER... @VivaDebi - Launch of Mill Hill Evening Business Networking Group 19 May, Mill Hill Golf Club @ HiSpekOnline - WOW we reached 1000 followers - yippee. Thanks guys and girls @burston_herts – Looking for something to do with the kids over the holidays? We have FREE activities in store @Richard_Dwyer – Sugar is good! Karen is good too! @Keith_Brown – The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity @hzlodge – We can already feel the






Ahead of this year’s massive Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth House near Stevenage, The HBI caught up with backstage organisers Concept Venues and their founder Mark Fuller. Mark’s company boasts several successful chains including Sanctum on the Green, Geales and the exclusive Embassy Nightclubs.


We hear you are planning to launch in Dubai?

It all started when I was managing rock groups and after a brief spell an opportunity came up to bid for what was then the first Embassy Club in Old Bond Street. So I bid and I was successful – I couldn’t believe it! In its day the old Embassy Club attracted some well known stars including Elton John, George Michael and Duran Duran.

What’s been the biggest success of your career to date?

Embassy closed in 1986 before reopening again in 2001. What made you decide to close it the first time and what business lessons had you learnt for when it reopened?

Who would you describe as your personal role models and why?

When I ran the old Embassy Club I was only young. I wanted to party hard while making money, but now I accept that is not the way it works. This time around I adopted much more of a business brain and I was determined to make it more about hard work.

Getting a nightclub to have the popularity, kudos and celebrity following that Embassy does is no mean feat. What do you think it was about your way of doing things that has made your business ventures so successful?

Yes we have a great location in Jumeirah – I call it James Bond’s playground. We are planning the launch in November, but for now we are concentrating on launching in the Algarve, which is just 4 weeks away!

One of my biggest successes was making Embassy into the legend that it is. Most clubs only last 2 or 3 years, so the fact that we are still going 10 years later is amazing.

My business partner Andrew Taylor is my role model. He is a very well respected manager and I have always admired his ability to always remain strong.

Do you think there is enough support for young people and what could businesses do to help encourage young people to achieve their dreams?

There is not nearly enough support out there at the moment. This industry craves hard workers and to take on trainees you need a good mentor.

And you are very supportive of Help For Heroes and Nordoff Robins too aren’t you? What made you decide on these charities in particular?

I started out by focussing on looking after the customer and it just grew from there. Celebrities are no different to normal people, they just like to be looked after and treated as individuals which is what everyone wants.

Both charities have been a pleasure to work with and we have donated all sorts of services to them and have raised a lot of money. The charity has introduced us to so many people who are so inspiring and it really makes you realise how lucky you are. It’s something that every body has to do.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the entertainment/events industry?

And finally, Mark, we hear you are very involved with the Festival at Knebworth House?

Also, to be in this business, you have to be prepared. This is not a nine to five industry you have to work around the clock and that requires dedication and commitment.

My top tip is to take a good look at your business plan and find something that works. Don’t let your business become a dream ideal. You need to make sure that you have thought of everything and really take time to look into the legalities as these can be what end up being your down fall.

Yes, I certainly am. The Sonisphere Festival is held at Knebworth House and will take place on 8 – 10 July this year. My company Concept Venues, which includes Embassy, do all the production backstage and we take care of all the artists, VIP, guests and dressing rooms. The line up for this year is huge and includes Metallica, Biffy Cliro, Slip Knot and Motorhead. There is more info at:



ou are known to be one of the UK’s most famous owners of the exclusive night club chain, Embassy. How did it all begin?


FOR RICHER, FOR POORER It is an unfortunate fact of business life that business partnerships, like marriage, are not always for life. Following a recent spate of dealing with partnership disputes, Clive Borthwick, a Corporate partner at Taylor Walton solicitors, looks at some of the inherent problems of trading as a partnership. Many people carry on their business with one or more other people. It may be two or three people running a relatively simple business together; several people operating through a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP); or a limited company operating as what might be called a quasi-partnership (that is a limited company where the relationship between the parties should really be recorded in a Shareholders Agreement or other appropriate document). Often two or more individuals “drift” into a business relationship without addressing some fairly obvious key issues. If these are not addressed in a Partnership Agreement or other suitable document then the general provisions of the Partnership Act 1890 are likely to apply, which most experts agree is not the most appropriate framework for conducting a business. For example: • Partnership law does not oblige anybody to spend a particular amount of time on partnership business – in effect they need not turn up for work at all. A well drafted Partnership Agreement will make it clear whether or not every partner is expected to put in a full working day – are some partners intended to be part time with others being full time?

“Often two or more individuals “drift” into a business relationship without addressing some fairly obvious key issues.”

• Should the partnership be for an agreed initial period during which each partner is obliged to stay within the business, with a notice period for leaving the business at any time after the agreed initial period? • What should happen if one of the partners dies or becomes seriously ill? Ideally, appropriate insurance arrangements will be in place so that those who wish to continue in the business have the means to acquire the interest in the business of the deceased or unwell partner. • Should there be a restriction on somebody leaving to set up a competing business? A lot of hard work (and cash) has probably gone into establishing the business and it is almost certainly undesirable, possibly due to a row or other disagreement, for the continuing partners then to find that their former partner has set up down the road, perhaps trying to use a similar name for the business. • The decision making process should be clearly established, particularly in partnerships of three or more people – will a majority decision apply for major decisions or should unanimity be required? Many business people find the whole financial structure of a partnership difficult to understand. There is no such thing as a salary or wage – simply drawings on account of profit. For this reason many partners seem to be surprised when it is pointed out to them that they have been significantly overdrawing and on the day they come to leave the business find that they actually have to pay money back to the business before they depart. The financial arrangements between the partners should be agreed and recorded. Partners should also realise that they have unlimited, personal liability, which may lead them on to consider whether they would be better carrying on business through a limited liability partnership or company. This even applies after death, where the estate of the deceased partner becomes liable for any debts incurred by the partnership. A final vital point is whether goodwill is to be valued within the business and to be paid to somebody who leaves – in my experience this is rarely appropriate.


Certainly anybody contemplating becoming a partner should not only take legal but also accountancy advice – is the business in which they wish to become a partner financially sound and is the amount of capital that they are being asked to introduce appropriate?

The key point is to think through what is the best structure to be adopted for your business and to put in place an appropriate document setting out the basis upon which the partnership (if that is the structure adopted) is to be run. I can assure you that it is a lot cheaper to do it this way, at the outset, rather than cope with some unexpected event a few years down the line! Clive Borthwick is a Partner in the Corporate Department of Taylor Walton LLP, which has offices in Luton, Harpenden and St Albans and provides effective legal solutions to businesses and individuals across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and the South East. Clive can be contacted on 01582 731161 or email


By Gillian Harding HRJ Law LLP

DIRECTORS GUARANTEES Often, forming a limited liability company is not the end of the story when it comes to the limitation of personal liability. When you incorporate your business, your bank, landlord or supplier will often respond by requesting directors’ guarantees, enabling them to require the directors to repay money owed by the company out of their personal assets if the company is unable to pay. Requests for guarantees have become increasingly common since 2008 but landlords and suppliers in particular, can validly be asked to justify their request if a guarantee seems unreasonable on the basis of your company’s accounts and references. Where there are two or more guarantors, each guarantor signs a separate document taking responsibility for the whole of the amount owed. Before deciding whether to sign a guarantee, it is worth considering the ability of your co-guarantors to pay. Are your fellow directors’ net personal assets similar to your own? Is there a risk that one or more of them couldn’t pay or may become bankrupt? Legal arguments aside, if a guarantor is bankrupt, the assets available to the bank or to his co-guarantors are likely to be limited. The bank has little incentive to attempt recovery from the bankrupt if there are other guarantors available and will probably look to the solvent guarantors to pay instead, increasing the amount each solvent guarantor pays. Have you considered what happens if only some of the guarantors pay following a demand from the bank? If you decide to sign

a guarantee, we would recommend entering into a Contribution Agreement with the other guarantors, stating what percentage contribution each guarantor is expected to make if one or more of you is called upon to pay. The amount of each contribution would normally be linked to the amount of your shareholdings. That way, even if the bank approaches one guarantor for payment, he can reclaim the expressly agreed proportions back from the other guarantors. Finally, are any circumstances in which you should be asking your own customers for guarantees? If you are offering credit terms you may consider getting guarantees from the directors of limited company customers, which also provide reassurance to your own creditors, such as your bank, and are particularly useful if you factor your debts. As I have mentioned, a guarantee is only useful if the guarantors have the ability to pay so it’s as well to consider the financial strength of the directors in question before deciding whether the guarantee is worth having. If your investigations demonstrate that your customer’s directors are creditworthy in their own right, a guarantee provides you with additional security and is something to consider.


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There is no doubt that recent mixed surveys on the state of the UK economy, coupled with inflation rising and falling and austerity measures starting to bite, have led to continued speculation as to whether there is growth to be had in 2011, writes Mike Coughtrey, Senior Partner for KPMG in Hertfordshire.

Overall, this was a politically astute budget with some important signals of intent such as the removal of business regulations, costing business £350 million per annum, and the three year temporary reprieve for small businesses with less than 10 employees (and for genuine start ups), to comply with domestic regulation. The increased reduction in corporation tax by 1 per cent, making it an overall reduction of 2 per cent, effective from 1 April, was a welcome surprise and the Chancellor also left room for the doubling of Entrepreneurs’ Relief, whereby the first £10 million of capital gain will be taxed at 10 per cent – encouraging entrepreneurs to create and build new enterprises. Measures to stimulate innovation were highly welcomed encouraging Research and Development and employment of skilled workers – particularly in high value manufacturing. However, improving competitiveness is not just about tax.

The Chancellor identified a need for a more competitive, better educated work force and made money available for 50,000 apprenticeships and 100,000 work experience placements over the next two years.

The Chancellor identified a need for a more competitive, better educated work force and made money available for 50,000 apprenticeships and 100,000 work experience placements over the next two years, plus additional investment in 24 university technical colleges. Plans to develop 21 new enterprise zones with lower business rates and taxes, together with innovation centres to stimulate the knowledge economy will help new and emerging digital companies establish themselves here. What UK business wants is a certain, tax competitive environment, with access to funding and minimal red tape, and the Chancellor has delivered a Budget which at least indicates good intentions towards business which should encourage growth strategies.

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH The growth strategies likely to be selected by each organisation will depend upon a number of factors, including the sector they operate within, where they are based in the UK and the financial health of the organisation. However, most important will be to identify the strategy which will enable the business to realise value quickly and on a sustainable, long term basis. Internal controls must be robust, cost control must be firm and cash management and forecasting will need to be relevant, accurate and fit for the business whilst innovation needs to be embedded in the culture of the business from top to bottom. Ensuring these fundamentals are in place must remain the mantra for business as we move through 2011. There is a lot to play for and there are growth opportunities ready for organisations to tackle, but they will bring with them the need for even greater emphasis on robust management of the business. Essentially, managers should not lose sight of the controls and strategies they have been relying on to survive the recent challenging economic climate. Shrewd management in tough economic environments is not all about cutting costs. Innovation in turbulent times may be risky, but the rewards can be immense; it is the fuel for economic growth. When a company runs out of innovation, it runs out of growth, so it is vitally important that the UK has an environment that supports and encourages innovation in order to steer the economy to growth and health. Businesses must continue to be a driving force in innovation, and the Patent Box, coupled with the tax credit regime for research and development, will help our businesses to continue to develop the new products, technologies and services which will benefit our whole economy. There is no doubt that the recovery will present a number of challenges, not least access to corporate debt, but with a firm grip on business controls, innovation at the heart of the business and realistic growth plans, UK corporates are likely to emerge stronger from 2011.

There is a lot to play for and there are growth opportunities ready for organisations to tackle...



The Chancellor has delivered his Budget for Growth where the overarching theme was the need to make Britain competitive once again as a place to do business.

Creating Opportunities that change people’s lives ReachOut Plus is a growing and exciting charity, based in Hertfordshire that seeks to create opportunities that change people's lives. Working especially with young people and people with disabilities and particular disadvantage, we aim to support these special people to overcome exclusion and discrimination, develop their skills, broaden their experience and achieve their potential.

In July we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary and we’ve set ourselves a huge challenge—we want to raise £250,000 for a new boat which can take bigger groups and act as a floating classroom.

We have a range of projects including a small fleet of canal boats used for respite holidays and educational trips, a youth residential and conference centre used to allow inner city kids to experience the countryside and a volunteer programme matching young people with learning disabilities with people of their own age to help them access mainstream services and entertainment, allowing them the friendship and support to just be kids.

We’re asking them to pledge to raise an average of £500 per employee over the course of 12 months. So whether you want to join one of our existing events, make up your own or find out about payroll giving or other ways of Tax Effective Giving we’re here to support you through it.

Tel: 0845 216 0085

To do this we’re looking for companies who want to get involved and between them and their employees take on their own fundraising challenge.

Contact Ron Overton (Charity Director) or Caroline Langdell (Fundraiser) for more details.


We’ve been creating opportunities that change people’s lives for

30 years!

ReachOut Plus Charity Golf Day 2011 Friday 10th June 2011 The Hertfordshire Golf Club Broxbourne, Herts

Join our 30th Anniversary Campaign and help us raise £250,000 for our new canal boat! Contact:

0845 216 0085

For more information please contact Caroline E:

T: 0845 216 0085

A HERTY DAY OUT Now the sun is out, The HBI thought we would let you know about the events held in Hertfordshire. Exhibitions, performances and craft days are a few of the activities that should appeal to all ages wanting to participate in this year’s festivities. So take the chance to step out of the house, relax and enjoy what the county has to offer. Whether you prefer to participate, or sit back and watch, find a few of the events taking place around Hertfordshire. If you’re looking for something creative based, why not visit Hatfield House for the Living crafts event which will include children storytelling, workshops and provide the opportunity for adults to try English wines and handmade chocolates and fudge. Entertainment such as dance and musical performances will set a lively ambience along with the days on going activities.

provided websites or the following website for a general listing and see other events throughout the upcoming year, visit:

For art and music lovers, a jazz workshop will take place, as well as a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and will be held on Tue 3 May to Sat 7 May at the Barn Theatre, see the website for further information- A more contemporary vibe is presented by EMERGE, which is a showcase of research performances and installations by dance and technology artists. This will be held at the Trestle Theatre Company on May 6 and May 10 from 10-5pm- free entry. If you prefer more of a classical approach to the arts, the London Trio will be performing on May 7 at 7.30pm at St. Mary’s Church, Braughing- tickets are priced from £10-£15 in advance and £15 on the door. The Hitchin Symphony Orchestra will also be performing at St Marys Church at 7.30pm, but on May 14. Visit the Hitchin Symphony website for more If you prefer livelier evening entertainment there is a Comedy night on May 14th at Letchworth Arts Centre and costs £10 for a ticket.

A love for nature and the outdoors can be enjoyed by walking around one of the nine gardens at Weston Village, a few which include a Japanese themed garden, vegetable garden and rose garden. It is open on May 26 from 12pm-5pm, children- free entry and adults pay £5. The National Trust walks in Ashridge provide the chance to discover different wildlife and will be held on May 10 at 2.30pm and 4.30pm, tickets are £2. However, if you prefer sport related activities to do in the sun, there is a Charity cycle ride on May 15. All information on the cycle ride and how to register can be found on their website: The children’s 1 mile fun run will form part of the village weekend festival, so expect food and entertainment after the run. This will be held on May 30 and for event information and updates visit the website- After spending an active filled day you might be looking for an evening of relaxation, this could involve a night listening to St. Albans favourite jazz singer Marlene, who is performing from March 26 to May 25 at 8pm at the Ovo Theatre Company- tickets are £7.50. Hobletts Manor School are offering a Ladies pampering evening on May 25 from 7-9.30pm which will include a selection of therapies such as hot stones massage, reflexology and Indian head massage. Tickets for this are £3 in advance or on the door. Husbands might be interested in attending the Mini and VW car show on May 30 from 10-5pm at Knebworth House. To see more information about the mentioned events, check the



The more unique events available include a Disney Classics Afternoon Tea where you can enjoy listening to memorable Disney songs accompanied by tea and cakes or champagne. This will take place at Hanbury Manor, A Marriot Hotel and Country Club on May 15 at £30 per person. A more gothic event on offer is a Ghost and Bat tour, which includes a tour of house and bat walk in gardens. Appropriately this will be held on Fri 13 May at Knebworth House, Park and Gardens, from 6.30 to 10pm. The County show will be on 28 and 29 May at the Showground - check online for entry price and further details:


“The iPhone 5 specs will be evolutionary, not revolutionary”- Gary Marshall

iPhone 2007

iPhone 3G/S 2008/2009

The release of iPhones for the last four years in a row, starting with the first being released in 2007 on June 29th presents no surprise that the latest model, the iPhone 5, is to be released this summer. Following the antenna problems found with the iPhone 4, some may believe that the rush to release the fifth generation is to erase the problems of the fourth generation; however this could simply be explained by the growing advancement of the mobile market. On the latest news blog for the iPhone5, Director of Marketing for RCN online Marketing Michael Nace, states Apple will have to increase speed with the new model in order to compete with the latest Android smart phones. Although the iPhone 5 may be considered as neglecting the faults of the iPhone 4, it’s set to be an improvement on the previous model. The signal problem is an obvious change and in order to alleviate the well-known “death grip” and to prevent call dropping, the antenna should be repositioned to the back of the phone. Possible modifications may include 4G networking and a multi-core A5 processor to increase the power necessary in graphic-intensive apps such as games or video conferencing. Also, the introduction of a larger screen (possibly four inch) or increased pixel density to improve the clarity will alter the gaming experience on this model.


Speculation about a white iPhone 5 design seems to be met with interest, although on March 13th Apple’s senior vice president Phil Schiller tweeted that the white iPhone 4 should be released this spring. Apple fans may decide to wait for this or to hold off until the summer for the fifth generation, but this can come down to a question of style over practicality. Various iphone5 blogs and websites such as have mentioned that the redesign for the iPhone 5 should revert back to the original aluminium design to remove the risk of shattering as well as being lighter in weight. The design is set to be similar in appearance to the iPod Touch. HD audio, built in GPS, longer battery life as well as a shatter and scratch resistant thinner model, are just a few of the reasons why the release of the iPhone 5 should be anticipated. However, after numerous complaints about the iPhone 4 in relation to the reception issues, camera and fragility of the handset apply major pressure on Apple to deliver this time around. The company will also be in competition with the release of the Blackberry Playbook; although technically not a phone, but a seven inch tablet. The hype surrounding the iPhone is increased by the speculation about built in NFC (Near field communication) chips. These chips function so that your mobile can be used as a credit card. This technology has already been in use in Japan and South Korea, so there is a possibility that this will debut in the iPhone 5 or even the iPhone 6 next year. In the Independent, reporter Nick Clark stated:

iPhone 4 2010

iPhone 5 2011

“Apple will not include ‘wave and pay’ chips in the new iPhone to be released later this year, dashing industry hopes that a universal standard for the technology would be adopted in 2011.” The NFC chips can be used to identify objects, for instance, in stock control, ticketing systems and mobile payments. Staff Writer for, Elizabeth Woyke claimed: “From what I hear, it is possible the iPhone 5 will include NFC. An entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC product told me that he believes the iPhone 5 will have NFC and cited a friend who works at Apple as a reliable source for the information.” We contacted Apple to ask if they were going to use the NFC technology in their new design. A representative said: “Apple does not comment on rumours about decisions, products, relationships, programmes, or promotions that we have not officially announced. “By withholding comment, Apple hopes to protect customers from making decisions based on information that is incomplete, inaccurate, or subject to change before the formal announcement. Apple believes this is the best way to ensure that all customers are treated fairly.” Are members of the public willing to invest in the fifth generation iPhone, although a new model will probably be introduced in another few months down the line? Keeping up with the latest technological products is a must for many, but with such a rapid turnover within a short time period, the phones might become tedious. Despite some reservations against the release of the iPhone 5, the new model is not only a phone, but a gaming device and possibly a credit card or electronic wallet. If the modifications applied to the iPhone are successful in exceeding customer expectations, then this should be one the most wanted list for 2011.

Apple will not include ‘wave and pay’ chips in the new iPhone to be released later this year, dashing industry hopes that a universal standard for the technology would be adopted in 2011.

P19 : Apprenticeships in Herts P20 : The Apprentice: Where are they now? A look at how far the finalists have come during their time as an Apprentice of Lord Alan Sugar P22 : The A-Z of Training – A guide to the best way to keep on top of your training P26 : Choosing a Training Provider by Optimum Sourcing



RICHARD HARRINGTON MP FOR WATFORD, SPEAKS ABOUT EMPLOYMENT The struggles facing job seekers today are amongst the most difficult for a generation. We are all aware that the state of the jobs market is not healthy, with many Watfordians still struggling to find work. Yet it is rapidly becoming apparent that a lack of job vacancies is not the only issue confronting those who are desperate to find employment. When I speak with employers in the Watford area, it is repeatedly explained to me that many people who apply for job vacancies simply do not have the necessary skills or experience. This is no longer simply a case of a lack of opportunities, but a much wider issue of people lacking the basic, flexible skills to fill the jobs that are currently available. This is quite shocking and wholly unacceptable, particularly emerging out of a difficult recession. The rise of solid work experience - and particularly, of specialised apprenticeships - has become more and more important as a way to bridge the skills shortage facing Britain currently. Between 2009 and 2010 apprenticeship starts increased by 16.6 per cent, a testament to the understanding that a stint of targeted experience can do wonders for employment prospects in an overcrowded market. Firsthand experience of the workplace is more valuable than ever, creating a more

confident and able candidate.

step towards long term employment.

It is not just job seekers who have benefited from this upsurge of apprenticeships. The attitude of employers is overwhelmingly positive to this development. According to recent research, 88 per cent of employers who had taken on an apprentice said that it had led to a more motivated and satisfied workforce. 80 per cent agreed that apprentices made their business more productive. A thriving private sector will prove crucial to our long term economic recovery, and such statistics reveal the true effectiveness of apprenticeships in achieving this.

I will be working towards this goal more locally in Watford. On 30th June I am holding a Jobs Fair in Watford for local people looking for work. A range of Watford based companies have already signed up to take part on the day.

The Government recognises and supports this. Over the next four years, we will provide ÂŁ180 million for up to 50, 000 additional apprenticeship places for all ages. There will be funding made available for 30, 000 apprenticeships for young people and the number of adult apprenticeships will be expanded, so that 75, 000 adults will be starting schemes by 2015. Work experience will be made accessible to greatly increased numbers of young people, with the Government committed to creating up to 100, 000 placements with leading companies. Ministers are taking action to ensure that training on the job, at the hands of those in the know, becomes an important

But this will be a Jobs Fair with a difference. For the first time, companies will also be welcomed to attend if they are offering an apprenticeship or internship with their company, opening up this powerful opportunity to Watford residents. This is not just aimed at young people looking for their first step onto the employment ladder, but also for those who have been trying to find a way into a new profession for some time, but just don’t know where the chance will come from. I believe that we must do all we can to give local people the skills that will make them stand out from the rest of the crowd, to fill vacancies with individuals who have the flexible skills that will set them onto the path of future job opportunities. Britain is facing a skills shortage right now. This should be of concern to us all. We must nurture opportunities for personal and professional development as much as we can; the rise of the apprenticeship is crucial to this.



The very first winner of The Apprentice was Lord Sugar’s project director of Amstrad’s Health & Beauty division for two years before leaving his £100,000 job. In 2007, Tim set up the Bright Ideas Trust - a charity with the aim of giving young entrepreneurs a chance to start up in business. He has become a social enterprise and youth ambassador and continues to work in this vein. In July 2007, Campbell became a Social Enterprise Ambassador as part of a British Government initiative that aims to apply modern business solutions to social and environmental problems.


Saira has gone on to become a best-selling author with her selfhelp book P.U.S.H For Success. As well as contributing to the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, a regular panellist for BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 4 and the BBC Asian Network, Khan has since become a regular face on British TV. In 2006 she presented on the BBC’s Temper Your Temper, a programme dealing with anger management, and British-Asian lifestyle show Desi DNA. She has presented several documentaries for the BBC and ITV, hosted the CCBC programme Beat the Boss and presented an edition of the BBC’s Money Programme about entrepreneurial mothers, as well as appearing as a guest on a variety of shows such as Ready Steady Cook. In 2006, she set ‘OUR SAY’ to campaign for local and national referenda on issues of major public interest. Saira also runs her own baby-products business called ‘miamoo’, and an orienteering business West Is East. She currently presents Trade Your Way to the USA on CBBC.


After working for Lord Sugar for 11 months, Michelle began running her own consultancy, Michelle Dewberry Ltd (MDL) and She released an autobiography, Anything is Possible in 2007.Dewberry also runs workshops for both companies and individuals, focusing on goal-setting, self-belief, confidence and people skills. In December 2009, Dewberry joined Business Matters magazine as a monthly columnist alongside Duncan Bannatyne. In July 2010 she opened Michelle Dewberry’s Work and Money Surgery on women’s lifestyle website


Ruth now owns two businesses, Ruth Badger Consultancy, which specialises in company rescue, troubleshooting and recruitment, and North West Money, which helps provide finance for homeowner’s. In addition to this, Ruth has had her own TV series on Sky One, Badger Or Bust in 2007, where Ruth used her sales expertise to help failing businesses. She is a popular after-dinner speaker at various business functions throughout the UK. On 12 March 2009 she spoke to the Junior Chamber of Commerce on the Isle of Man. presents Trade Your Way to the USA on CBBC.


Simon went on to work at Amsprop, the real estate division of Lord Sugar’s group of companies. He worked towards becoming a qualified Chartered Surveyor and developed a hotel and golf course near Standstead Airport. Simon relaunced , a one-stop shop to give customers instant access to Amsprop’s portfolio. This was a unique proposition in the property industry. Simon let the company in April 2010 and is now chairman of the London Contemporary Orchestra.


After leaving The Apprentice, Grimes received 140 job offers. She chose to become the investment sales director with Isle of Manbased property company Dandara. Subsequently, Grimes has founded The KGJC Partnership with former Apprentice contestant Jenny Celerier. The company promotes excellence in business performance. She currently lives in Harrogate whilst her son Graeme is attending university in Birmingham.


The series was won by Lee McQueen, who initially worked for Sugar’s company Amshold where he famously phoned in sick on his first day. There, he developed digital display advertising. He then went on to work for Amscreen as development director. He left Sugar’s employment in 2010. He has since founded the Raw Talent Academy which aims to provide internal sales academies.


After The Apprentice she was offered a job at Birmingham City FC after Karren Brady warmed to her while taking part on the show. She had been due to take up the job in September 2008 (a post thought to have offered more money than Lord Sugar’s one hundred thousand), but later declined, commenting that she wanted to set up her own consultancy. As of March 2009 she is running a wedding planning and consultancy business.

After leaving The Apprentice, Sarah Grimes received 140 job offers...


30 year old Stella proved to be a very successful candidate throughout the series, holding the best record against all other competitors. She showed terrific leadership abilities in the second task, where she was dispatched to the boy’s team and lead them to victory by stopping their arguing and managing them well. Due to her consistent performance throughout the series and serious determination, Lord Sugar made her a finalist. She showed excellent leadership and organisational skills in the last task, and in the boardroom Lord Sugar made the decision to hire Stella. She commented she was looking forward to the future and she was extremely happy.


24 year old Chris is now working as an Investment Analyst for former Dragon’s Den panellist James Caan’s private equity company Hamilton Bradshaw.

SEASON 5 After winning the series in 2009, Yasmina was eventually hired as Sir Alan Sugar’s apprentice, taking a £100,000 a year job with his company, Amscreen Health Care. Yasmina holds the strongest record as a project manager on the UK show, with a record of 3 wins and 0 losses. She fell pregnant after a whirlwind romance with a colleague and is currently on maternity leave.


Since rejection by Sugar, 27 year old Kate has hosted a woman’s fashion segment on GMTV, co-hosted the Channel 5 evening entertainment show Live from Studio Five from its launch in September 2009 until the final edition on 4 February 2011. She also presents the Live From Studio Five replacement OK! TV after original host Denise van Outen pulled out of the role three days before the programme’s launch.

Claire Young was offered a job at Birmingham City FC after Karren Brady




The only side effect of too much training is that you get into better shape. There is nothing wrong with that. MARK SPITZ



These come in different guises and can range from training in a trade to arts working in the professions (such as accountancy). There is no upper age limit – although eligibility for Government funding may vary. Information is available at


In order for a business to run effectively (and to be compliant with HMRC regulations and the Companies Act 2006), they must keep adequate accounting records. It is really worth seeking expert advice, or ensuring you or your employees have the right skills to do this. For details of accountancy courses, please visit www.



“Coaching and mentoring, supported by a mind-set of continuous improvement, is a part of a growing recognition of the effect that the emotional welfare of staff has on business success. It is also a cost-effective commitment to meeting employee aspirations and organisational goals.” Exemplas Ltd.


Training should not be viewed as a cost but as an investment. A highly skilled workforce means your business can grow and develop.


It is well worth seeing what funding opportunities there are available for training.



Set training goals. Think about where you want to be and how you plan to get there. Training should enable you to develop and grow either in your current role or help you to start something new.


Offers a range of full and part time courses (including AAT)



“The growth of technology is such that it is not possible today for a nuclear physicist to switch into medical physics without training. The field is now much more technical. More training is needed to do the job.” John Cameron


“It takes a couple of years just to get the background and knowledge that you need before you can go into detailed training for your mission.” Sally Ride


Learning should be throughout your life. As people we develop and grow throughout our lifetime and age shouldn’t be a barrier to training. tTraining shouldn’t be restricted to technical skills. It also covers softer-skills such as time management and delegation.



Training doesn’t always have to be paid-for. There may be someone who works within your organisation (or outside) who can offer advice or support in your career. Learning from someone else is very valuable.



Training doesn’t have to be classroom based. There are plenty of options to study online or distance learning. AAT offers courses full time, part time or via distance learning to fit round the priorities in your life.


Studying for professional qualifications and becoming a full member means you can use letters after your name. Someone who has been through the AAT qualification and is now a professional member can use MAAT after their name which shows potential employers you have the right skills to do the job.



Lots of famous people talk about how they became successful without qualifications - but the reality is they act as credentials. They show an employer what you can do.


“Our staff are initially selected for their talent and attitude, then trained and developed through taking responsibility to make a real impact on their projects and our overall performance.” Savills UK



Decision matrix: a decision-support tool allowing decision makers to solve their problem by evaluating, rating, and comparing different alternatives on multiple criteria


“The young people look great on television. They’re youthful and have a lot of zip and energy, but when you see them live, they can only do about 20 minutes because they haven’t got the training to hold an audience for an hour and a half or so.” Tony Bennett


Lots of famous people talk about how they became successful without qualifications - but the reality is they act as credentials. They show an employer what you can do.

UH advert - P3:Layout 1



Training shouldn’t be restricted to technical skills. It also covers softer-skills such as time management and delegation.


Page 1



Learn the skills needed to work in a particular job. The AAT Accounting Qualification teaches practical skills to enable people to progress in a finance career.

Qualifications Centre

World class training delivered locally Now offering subsidised apprenticeships in: • Management • Business Administration • Customer Service • Health & Care • Vehicle Sales Call: 01707

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For people with limited experience in a particular role, work experience is a very valuable way to gain skills and knowledge. It doesn’t always have to be done within office hours (which can be limiting for people who are working), there may be opportunities to volunteer for a local charity or group.

UH Ventures is part of the University of Hertfordshire Group of Companies.



Diary date: 31 May Bringing Hertfordshire businesses together with trainers and coaches, across the county Are you looking for a trainer or coach? …an open course? …an in-house course? …a fully bespoke solution? …some free advice? …help with a special event? …a recommendation? You need HertsTRAINING. As from 31 May, the website ( will give you: free access to more than 400 individual trainers, coaches and training companies across the county profiles of conference and motivational speakers a choice of more than 100 courses and workshops that can be run in-house, just for you details of open courses links to venues and related services and suppliers It’s completely free to use. You don’t even need to register. And you can post any training / coaching requirement free of charge. Not sure where to start? Then just give us a call now on 01582 714286 – we’re here to help! (Trainers and coaches – not on the database yet? Sign up to our LinkedIn Group – Hertfordshire UK consultants, coaches and trainers – and we’ll tell you how to get yourself on the site).

Top-quality training, in a wide range of The definitive customer service training programme, now available in a fantastic value-for-money package:

1. A day’s training for up to 12 people for just £995. 2. A tried-and-tested course, now delivered to more than 10,000 people worldwide.

3. Your choice of course: the core programme or one of the variations on the theme for telephone-based customer service, face-to-face or internal.

4. Your choice of expert trainer. 5. A 68-page full colour workbook for each participant. 6. A personal action plan for each participant, to help them raise their level of customer service.

7. Ten follow-up coaching newsletters emailed to each participant over the following three months, to help them implement their action plans.

8. A certificate of attendance for each course participant.

9. A feedback report from the day’s training. 10. A free consultation to help assess the extent of the improvements achieved as a result of the training.

subjects, at a sensible price  Commercial, contracts, procurement  Customer service  Director development  Facilities management  Finance  Health, safety & environment  HR and employment law  Learning and development  Management and personal skills  Project management & engineering  Retail, hospitality & leisure  Sales Government funding available – call us to check your eligibility 1 Tollgate House, 69 - 71 High Street, Harpenden AL5 2SL

Call 01582 714287 now!

Tel: 01582 714282


Paul Schofield, Senior Partner at St Albans Office, commented: “We are launching Bright Start, to open up a route for high achieving school leavers to join our firm in September 2011 with 4 places under the scheme in St Albans. We will provide the opportunity to embark on a career with exceptional prospects and to gain a full professional business qualification.” “The UK needs to open up access to the professions to a much wider group of people and, secondly, concerns around the prospect of increasing tuition fees may make some very bright people think twice about going to university. Talent is the lifeblood of a business like ours and it is crucial that we do all we can to ensure that talented young people with the ability to succeed can find their way into Deloitte, whatever their background.” The new scheme builds upon a successful programme under which Deloitte St Albans office and other regional offices have hired a small number of school leavers in recent years. Sarah Cotter, an audit associate in Deloitte’s St Albans office, commented: “I believe that joining Deloitte after my A Levels benefited me by giving me a fast track route to management at a younger age. It has also allowed me to achieve an internationally recognised accounting qualification without the burden of student debt which I would have incurred over 3-4 years at university.” “The invaluable work experience I gained through the ‘on the job’ training supported my studies and fulfilled my desire for an engaging and challenging career. Having joined Deloitte from sixth form in September 2009, I gained my AAT qualification in

February 2011 and I am now studying for the ACA.”

INCREASED SUPPORT FOR FUTURE GRADUATES Craig Wisdom, Talent partner at St Albans Office, commented: “We are also expanding our help for future graduates nationally by increasing the number of Summer Vacation Scheme (SVS) places to 160 in 2011, up from 130 in 2010, and will increase this further in 2012 with a target of 240. There are 6 SVS places in St Albans in 2011 and this internship programme offers students going into their final year of university seven weeks of paid work experience in Deloitte’s Audit, Tax or Consulting business areas. As one of the UK’s leading graduate employers, Deloitte will hire over 1,100 graduates in 2011, 15 into our St office here. This autumn, our St Albans office took on 17 graduates from a number of different universities, and we are working hard to further extend our reach.” Elizabeth Schofield, an Audit Senior Associate in Deloitte, St Albans adds: “I really enjoyed the Summer Vacation Scheme at Deloitte. I gained invaluable work experience and it provided me with a real insight into life at Deloitte. It also came with the added bonus of enabling me to earn some much needed money for my final year at university. In addition, I was offered a full-time graduate job at the end of the scheme. So, while many of my friends at university were going through the stressful process of applying for jobs in their final year, I had already secured one! I also made some good friends and enjoyed a number of social events put on by Deloitte. I was even invited back to the office Christmas party! I would absolutely recommend this scheme to anyone who is considering a career in this area. It will give you a chance to experience what

it is really like and help you to make an informed decision.” Deloitte is also continuing to build on the success of our unique scholarship programme and our industrial placement programme, increasing these to 50 places, up from 41 in 2010. This combines sponsorship and work experience, helping students to fund their degree and gain invaluable business skills. Demand for places is high, and we want to give more students the opportunity to benefit from it. This has been very successful here and many of our scholars go on to join the firm’s graduate scheme.

STRIVING FOR GREATER SOCIAL MOBILITY Craig Wisdom continues: “We recognise we are only as good as our people, making it imperative that find different ways to identify and support the people who can make a difference to clients. These people are not defined by the school or university they attended or their social background. “Scholarship schemes and internships can play a huge role in identifying and fostering talent at an earlier stage, but only if the places are awarded to students on merit. We are working hard to ensure that students from all schools and universities have equal opportunity to take advantage of our schemes.” “We have a major role to play in championing greater social mobility. We are making strenuous efforts, driven not only by a sense of responsibility, but also by the huge incentive of accessing the very best talent.”



Deloitte, the leading business advisory firm, is stepping up its support for school leavers with the creation of 100 A Level entry roles, in recognition that a university education may no longer necessarily be the most attractive option for many of the UK’s brightest students.

TO TRAIN OR NOT TO TRAIN Partners Blake Henegan and Paul Judge set up Optimum Sourcing Ltd in 2009 after identifying the need for a company that could provide truly independent training expertise, with a variety of services and options unique to each client. After over 10 years’ experience, an impressive client database, and a move to a new home, The Maltings in Sawbridgeworth, we sat down with Blake to find out where to start when looking for a training provider. Learning and Development is crucial to the success of a business. Every organisation is different so will have different needs and wants. When choosing a training provider, you want to make sure that the money being spent and the time that the employee is investing are worth it. Therefore it is a good idea to have a number of different choices for fulfilling the training need. Each provider will have different strengths and weaknesses and it is vital to understand these before parting with any money. When choosing between providers then I would recommend looking at the following:


Who have they worked with and how recently? Work with clients who will understand your business and the culture. Would an Invement bank want a trainer who has only ever worked in the pusector and vice versa? Probably not.


Related to the above point are you working with a provider who specialises in the training you are looking for? So if you need sales training then approach specialist sales training companies, if you need PRINCE2 go to PRINCE2 specialists. There are plenty of providers out there who are desperate for business so will attempt

to deliver topics they are not experts at.


Don’t just get testimonials, these will always be positive. Ask for at least two clients references and then contact them. Don’t just ask if the training was good, ask them what the provider was like to work with, how was their customer service, did they have good ideas, were they flexible?


Take out credit checks on them. Get your financial team to evaluate their position. Providers will ask for payment prior to the training however how can you be sure the company will still be in business?


When you first approach the company how did they respond? Are the sales people pushy? Are they responsive? You want to work with providers you can trust and who wont be constantly selling to you.


Consider what your end objective is and make sure that the training solution offered will match this or be part of an overall plan. Training, Learning and Development should always be happening within organisations especially with the developed world and the UK to keep companies progressing, competitive and innovative. It is not good enough to do the bare minimum. The developing nations are and will catch up and the global market will become even more competitive. The question is, can you afford not to train?



Trainers are always looking for work closer to home. And companies would source their training locally if they could. But it can be hard to find just the right person. What’s the answer?

Research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) shows that Apprenticeships generate around £40 for each pound invested by the government.

Harpenden entrepreneur Michael Bentley thinks he knows. He and his team have spent the past six months meticulously searching for Hertfordshire-based trainers and coaches to build up an online database that local businesses can search free of charge to find the expert they need. With more than 400 individual trainers, coaches and training companies already on their list they’ve just announced a launch date of 31 May for the new service.

In addition, the study reveals the Further Education (FE) sector provides an additional £75 billion for the economy.

They have exciting plans for the enterprise, which will also involve online and face-to-face networking opportunities masterminded by his partner in the new venture, Graham Roberts-Phelps, a prominent networker and social media expert. The site looks set to become a key resource for the local training community. Keep an eye on to see what they’re up to.

FE Minister John Hayes said: “Further Education is the unheralded triumph of our education system. This research illustrates just how important it is to this country – our economy, society and individuals’ lives.” “That is why we are funding an unprecedented number of Apprenticeships and freeing colleges from unnecessary burdens. We are also helping employers, colleges and training providers to work together to boost skills through the £50 million Growth and Innovation Fund.” “All these reforms will ensure that economic contribution of FE will continue to rise in the years to come. However, employers need to do more to ensure that there are enough apprenticeships available, particularly for young people, who are finding getting jobs difficult in the present economic climate. Unions learning reps can play a role in acting as mentors for apprentices and negotiating quality training and decent pay with employers. We can work together to make our apprenticeships the best in the world.”

SALES COLUMN STEVE CLARKE IF YOU’RE FEELING BATTLE WEARY, RELIGHT THE RIGHT FIRE... To succeed in business and to attract paying clients to your business or service, you absolutely must have an infinite supply of GP + TE... “Genuine Passion” and “Tons of Enthusiasm.” To succeed in business and to attract paying clients to your business or service, you absolutely must have an infinite supply of GP + TE... “Genuine Passion” and “Tons of Enthusiasm”.

and what vision do you have now for where you’re heading? Ask yourself, and be honest; has the vision faded along with your enthusiasm?

It’s not always easy, I know that. Some days are tougher than others to whip up enthusiasm, right? No time for marketing and sales are down, you get busy being busy and fighting fires - sound familiar?

Look around you. Are your friends and business associates upbeat and positive? Guess what happens to your enthusiasm if you spend your time in the company of negative people. They’ll drag you down; they’ll sap all your energy.

Everyone would be in business for themselves if it were an easy ride. But do you know what I found as I studied successful business people? They all had a genuine passion for the business they were creating, and an abundance of enthusiasm to see them through tough times.

So, if you’re feeling battle weary, relight the fire. This is not an option, it’s a necessity. I run regular Sales Mentoring Groups - could that be of help to you?

As I studied entrepreneurial success in more depth, I also began to recognise a consistent character trait amongst successful people. They carried themselves with confidence, with an air of superiority – not to be confused with arrogance or complacency – again, this reinforced the positive, winning “can-do” attitude which I believe exists in successful business people. The subconscious mind is phenomenally complex, yet it makes no distinction between destructive or constructive thought patterns. If you fill your head with negativity, fear, doubt, and disbelief in your ability to succeed, your subconscious mind will go to work to deliver this outcome for you. Conversely, feed your mind with positive thoughts, and bingo! Try it. Test this theory and you’ll find it applies to winners in most circles; sales, sports, politics or the entertainment industry – it can work for you too. There’s a “Napoleon Hill” verse in my book “How to Thrive Not Just Survive”, which I read whenever I find myself doubting my abilities or facing new challenges - see how this resonates with you: If you think you’re beaten, you are, if you think you dare not, you don’t. If you like to win, but you think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t. If you think you will lose, you’re lost, for out of the world we find, success begins with the fellow’s will – it’s all in a state of mind. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can! Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all just about a positive attitude, not by a long shot. But when things get tough, take a moment to remind yourself why you got into business in the first place. What vision did you have,

There are good inspirational books to read, DVD’s to watch, websites to visit and so on. Subscribe to good email lists that send you useful and upbeat tips. You can join relevant support groups on the likes of LinkedIn and Facebook. You are welcome to listen in to my regular marketing teleseminars or webinars (you don’t even need to leave your home or office for these!). You could join one of our Sales and Marketing Mentoring Groups, where like-minded individuals meet regularly to share ideas and tips on business growth – strictly no moaning allowed! To find out more visit: Watch the news once a day to keep yourself informed, but be prepared to turn it off once it starts repeating itself. Most of the news is bad news – you must have noticed that. Doom, gloom, and despondency. Some business meetings and network groups can mirror this too, so do be careful. Yet despite all of the doom and gloom around, people are succeeding in business, some people’s sales are booming. Not just surviving the tough times, but thriving, growing their businesses in times of trouble and a shrinking economy. How? I believe a lot of it is down to one thing – attitude.

Attitudes can be highly contagious - make sure yours is worth catching!


They all had a clear vision of where they were going and the type of business they wanted to build along the way. They had a focus and determination, and they adopted a winning “can- do” attitude.

Establish a sales support network around you that helps fuel your enthusiasm and relight your passion. There are local business groups you could join (be careful not to join the wrong breakfast moaning groups, there are way too many of those around, but there are some great ones too). I am constantly amazed by the amount of business owners who are willing to get up at six o’clock on a Monday morning to arrive for a greasy breakfast with the same people who do nothing but moan, moan, and moan again. Do you belong to a Monday moaning meeting?




Television stars, sports personalities, tearaway toddlers and madcap dogs have all played a starring role in the incredible story that is Hannah Couzens Photography. Appearing in front of her lens over the years they have helped Hannah become established as one of the county’s leading portrait photographers with two successful studios and a clutch of awards to her name. Hannah’s incredible vision, determination, hard work and passion was recognised last year when she scooped Young Business Person of the Year at the prestigious Hertfordshire FSB Business Awards. Her company also beat off 40 other finalists to win Overall County Winner. Hannah’s story begins at the tender age of 16 when she left school to pursue her passion for photography. Graduating from a two year course at Herford Regional College with a Distinction, she furthered her studies with the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) becoming one of its youngest ever members to gain a Licentiateship - at the age of just 19. (Those of you troubled by the advancing years may wish to stop reading now as age [or a distinct lack of it] is a recurring feature in Hannah’s success story!)

“I came home and worked for a number of portrait studios,” says Hannah, now at the grand old age of 28. “I was genuinely dismayed at the lack of quality, care and customer service and I realised then that the only way I was ever going to be able to offer the service I wanted to, was to open my own studio.” With no formal business or managerial training and no history of entrepreneurism in her family she ploughed every last penny she had - which was matched by a silent business partner – in to launching Hannah Couzens Photography in Cuffley. “I was just 22 and initially there was me and a friend from college. Now seven years later I have 5 members of staff and two studios; the Cuffley one and another in St Albans,” she explains. “It’s been an incredible learning curve.” A very personable, warm person, Hannah is also a savvy, determined young lady. It was her ambition and determination – illustrated by the successful launch of the studio in St Albans in the depths of a recession – that initially attracted the FSB judges to her entry in the 2010 awards. But despite the accolades and the growing client list Hannah has always kept customer care at the forefront of all her business planning, never forgetting why she felt moved to open a studio in the first place. “Our studios are incredibly welcoming and we put everyone at ease,” says Hannah. “We do have a number of famous clients but equally important to me are the families and individuals we photograph. I think a photo session should be fun and there should be absolutely no pressure to buy anything – if the photos are great then they will sell themselves. So many times we have people come to us who have had a bad experience elsewhere and I think it’s such a shame.” Of course Hannah’s work day involves a good deal more than simply taking great photos. She has had to learn the intricacies of employment law including staff contracts and maternity leave and has invested a great deal of time and effort in training up staff members. “The learning hasn’t all been on the staff’s side though,” she points out. “I have had to teach myself to delegate in order to grow the business and to trust others’ judgement. I now have a really loyal, dedicated and

enthusiastic team around me so the hard work has definitely paid dividends.” But in a competitive market place enthusiasm and talent aren’t always enough. Hannah has been careful to never get complacent and constantly promotes her business through networking and social media. She has also discovered a talent for marketing, coming up with new initiatives each month to target new clients including mums for Mother’s Day and girlfriends and wives for Valentine’s Day. One of the areas she is currently promoting to the business community is the use of a good head and shoulders shot to accompany publicity material. “With the ever-growing popularity of internet sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn nearly every business owner has the opportunity to promote themselves to a huge audience,” she explains. “I find it astonishing that people trying to present themselves in a professional capacity think it is okay to simply add a holiday snap to their profile. If you have a quick scroll though different sites you will find an incredible mix of photos and I guarantee those featuring a professionally taken photo make a far better impression as well as, let’s be honest, making the subject look fabulous!”As for the future, Hannah has no plans to slow down. Winning her clutch of awards is a very welcome public recognition of all that she and her team have achieved. However she is constantly striving to build the Hannah Couzens brand and make it even more successful whilst never losing sight of her first love – photography. “I’ve always ensured that running a successful business doesn’t detract from my passion for photography,” she explains. “I’m constantly updating my skills and am currently working towards my associateship with the BIPP.” Hannah’s mentor is no other than the head of the BIPP - the country’s leading official qualifying body for professional photographers – and she will be putting her submission in around September. Once she has attained the associateship she will be working towards the BIPP’s highest qualification – a Fellowship – for which she will need to demonstrate “distinguished and exceptional ability and creativity”. Her passion for her subject is such that she is keen to share her skills with others and is currently working on a plan to run digital photography courses. “Initially I want to run courses helping people get the most out of their digital cameras and if this is successful then I hope to increase the variety and choice of courses,” she explains. “I’ve tested the idea among clients and at networking meetings and the response has been very encouraging. I shall trial a few courses and then have a proper launch, so watch this space!” At least Hannah will never struggle to find categories to enter in future business awards - and despite all that she has achieved to date, incredibly she will still probably just about scrape into the “Young Business person” category!


Establishing herself as a freelance photographer, Hannah soon found herself working for a number of blue-chip companies including Dell, Glaxo Smith Kline and John Lewis. Still only a teenager she decided to look for work in New Zealand where she had previously done some travelling and through the local BIPP made enquiries about finding a photographer she could work for. Almost immediately she was snapped up by someone who had viewed her portfolio over the internet and was so impressed he offered her a job there and then! A short while later she found herself stepping off the plane and the next day photographing the All Blacks rugby team! Life really couldn’t get much better for a young lady not yet in her twenties but ambition is Hannah’s middle name and she returned to the UK determined to establish herself as an up and coming, sought-after photographer.




Business Networking Strategist

In tough economic times it can be very tempting to market yourself as a generalist more than a specialist. After all, the more ways in which you can help prospective customers, the better chance there will be they will want to employ you. Isn’t that right? Perhaps not. In ‘Networking with a Niche,’ my February 2010 blog, I talked about how having a clearly defined niche can help you network more effectively. That was illustrated to me recently. I received an email with information about a company who were looking for trainers to work with large companies on a range of topics, including networking. I sent off an email outlining what I could offer and received an email soon after asking me what a 90 minute session to a group of employees would look like. Five minutes after my subsequent reply the company called me and we had a very positive twenty minute conversation that will hopefully result in ongoing work and a flourishing partnership. During the conversation I found out that they had received over 100 responses to their request for trainers. “That’s fantastic!” I said. “Not really,” came the response. “I haven’t got the time to call 100 people and find out if they’re suitable. Your email stood out from the crowd.” Naturally I wanted to know what made my email stand out. After all, if I’m doing something well, I want to make sure I keep on doing it. “I’m a strong believer that you can’t be good at everything,” said my contact. “I like working with people who have a ‘speciality’ in something and you clearly do in networking. Many trainers emailed me and said they could deliver on ‘anything’ and I wasn’t so keen on that. Many people might not agree with me but that is what I prefer.”

It might mean saying ‘no’ to some work and missing out on others. But you’ll stand out from the crowd when it really counts. To find out more about how to pick the right networks, implement a successful networking strategy or how to generate more referrals, please visit our website: or contact us at / 01992 450488. Happy Networking! - Andy Andy Lopata is one of the UK’s leading business networking strategists and co-author of the bestselling book ‘and Death Came Third! The Definitive Guide to Networking and Speaking in Public’.



St Albans – 4 May, The Black Lion Hotel

BRX: 7.30-9AM

Hemel Hempstead – 10 May, Ramada Jarvis Hotel 7-9pm - Mill Hill – 19 May, Mill Hill Golf Club

Watford - Every Friday, Southern Cross Hotel St Albans – Every Thursday, County Constitutional Letchworth – Every Thursday, The Art Place


While it may be tempting to put yourself out as the cure to all evils and jack of all trades, be aware that you may be seen as a master of none. Find your speciality, settle into a niche and market yourself around that.

THE BUSINESS CLUB: 6PM–8.45PM Harpenden - 10 & 23 May, Harpenden House Hotel Watford – 4 & 17 May, Ramada Jarvis Hotel


Watford – 5 May, Indoor Bowls Club Berkhamstead – 27 May, Pizza et Pizza



Elstree – 3, 17 & 31 May, Corus Hotel Hatfield – 11 & 25 May, Ramada Hatfield Hotel Hemel Hempstead – 6 & 20 May, Ramada Jarvis Hotel St Albans – 12 & 26 May, Verulam Golf Club Ware – 3, 17 & 31 May, The Roebuck Hotel Watford – 5 & 19 May, Ramada Watford Welwyn Garden City – 13 & 27 May, Homestead Court Hotel Stevenage – 4 & 18 May, Knebworth Golf Club

THE INFINITI M35 HYBRID In June 2010, Top Gear wrote that the new Infiniti was Nissan’s rival to the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF: “It’s the luxury arm of Nissan - like Lexus to Toyota, except so much cooler. It’s competent, but wait for the diesel or hybrid.”

WELL, IT’S NOW HERE! The Infinity M35 Hybrid, with the potential to be

phenomenally successful. The top line message on the new model is pretty easy to understand – cleaner, greener and faster.

POWER – the innovative one-motor, two-clutch parallel hybrid

system delivers thrilling performance and is capable of driving in pure electric mode at speeds up to 62 mph

LUXURY – maintaining the Infiniti M Sedan’s engaging driving feel and extensive array of standard comfort and convenience features


– utilizing the Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid™ system, with a powerful yet compact Lithium-ion battery pack, advanced 3.5-liter V6 engine, that works with a single electric motor and two clutches, 50kW electric motor, connected to an electronic 7-speed automatic transmission, helps achieve estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon. A 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is positioned under the boot’s floorboard. As well as its fast charge/discharge response, the pack is laminated to enhance the cooling performance, and as a result, provide exceptional battery reliability. Adding to the performance and handling characteristics expected from Infiniti are two new innovative technologies. The first is a world first electro-hydraulic power steering system. It provides the advantages of both types of steering—the familiar and smooth feel of hydraulic power steering and the improved fuel efficiency of an electric system. The second is Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system, another world first. When brakes are applied, the necessary braking force is maintained while the hydraulic pressure of the friction brake is controlled to help maximize the energy regeneration of the hybrid motor. The Infiniti M35h is also the world’s first hybrid to provide a standard feature to help alert pedestrians to its presence. The new Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) system uses a range of distinctive sounds to help alert other road users that the vehicle is approaching. VSP automatically works from start-up to approximately miles per hour, cutting back in at approximately 15 miles per hour as the vehicle slows. The company says the electric motor can drive the wheels up to 60mph, and engages during as much as 50 pc of driving time. The fuel engine will turn off completely while coasting at speeds up to 80 mph. That’s quite an accomplishment for a car that Infiniti estimates can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in six seconds, give or take a tick. Official EPA fuel economy numbers for the Infiniti M35 hybrid are 27/32 mpg city/motorway, with a combined rating of 29 mpg. The M also delivers better fuel economy than its closest luxury hybrid rival, the Lexus GS 450h. Moreover, the Infiniti’s fuel mileage is accomplished with a 360 horsepower engine. The interior design might not be to everyone’s tastes – the tiered effect is quite imposing – but it’s well built, easy to use, and there’s loads of space, especially if you want to lounge on the big comfortable seats in the back. Plus just about all the gadgets you’ll be after will be standard: leather-appointed seats, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Active Noise Control, Infiniti Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, XM Satellite Radio (XM subscription required, sold separately), Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and power sliding glass tinted moonroof. Standard technology equipment also includes Bluetooth® Hands-

free Phone System, Infiniti Intelligent Key with Illuminated Push Button Ignition, HomeLink® Universal Transceiver and RearView Monitor, amongst others. The M35h shares the seductive looks of the M flagship sedan. The proportions are classic sports sedan, with Infiniti’s trademark short front overhang and long hood leading back to a coupe-like rear end. The design is notably aerodynamically efficient, both in terms of low drag (Cd: 0.27) and zero lift at high speeds, thanks in part to the distinctive “ducktail” design of the rear deck lid. Hybrid technology has gotten more sophisticated and so have hybrid drivers. Where it was once enough to offer fuel efficiency alone, today’s hybrid buyers need performance and handling to go along with ‘green’ attitudes. The Infiniti M35 Hybrid further establishes this newly emerging category of slightly greener luxury. In other words, green is a competitive advantage for discerning luxury buyers willing to pay the premium. Expect an increasing number of luxury vehicles to come with a hybrid option—even from Porsche, Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin, which have all announced hybrids in the works.


The M35h will certainly be the most expensive model in the M range (that is unless Infinti choose to import the 414bhp V8 M56 into Europe). Pricing for the base M35 starts at £33,763. Add all the options to this luxo hybrid and the price easily tops £40,000. Whether it’s worth that much will have to wait until we can put its ‘jack-of-all-trades’ claims to the test, but so far it looks promising. The Infiniti system does offer an uninhibited immediacy that other hybrids simply don’t have – more power with greater efficiency and a stronger feeling of connection. Simply, it stands alone. It makes for one of the most economical luxury sedans, without sacrificing power.



For a number of years, Nissan’s leadership repeatedly made the argument that hybrids are not the answer to the environmental challenges facing the automobile industry - and that only pure allelectric cars represent the necessary shift to oil- and emissions-free motoring. However, the use of a gas and electric power combo is apparently Nissan’s solution for luxury buyers unwilling to sacrifice horsepower and high-end features, but no longer wanting to guzzle gas. As Infiniti’s press release states, “The M35h has been designed and engineered to add to, not take away from, the driving experience, a key part of any Infiniti’s appeal.” So what makes what was previously thought impossible, possible, is the M35h’s unprecedented balance of these three attributes:


DOWNHALL COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL Based in Hampstead Heath, and dating all the way back to 1322, Down Hall Country House Hotel is tucked away amongst beautiful countryside. Located on the Hertfordshire/Essex border, and close to Stansted Airport, this is the ideal location for a relaxing retreat. Down Hall’s impressive ninety nine rooms are steeped in history, feel luxurious and have plenty of character. The HBI reporter Emily Turnbull spent the weekend here.

The decor of the rooms is luxurious and tasteful, and in keeping with the period throughout the hotel. Choose a classic room for comfort, or an executive room in the newer West Wing with additional space and plenty of perks. However, having experienced the feature room I can assure you that the fluffy robes, panoramic garden views and four poster bed makes this option the best way to relax in style. Wi-Fi and flat screen televisions will ensure you are connected to the outside world when need be. On sunny days, the onsite tennis courts are perfect for a game before lunch, or maybe some oversized outdoor chess for the more intellectual! However on a rainy day, Guests may prefer the Hotels heated indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna, which are housed in an annex offset but, adjoined to the main building. Large poolside windows also mean you can enjoy a great view of the grounds whilst taking a dip. There is also a games room to keep both children and adults entertained. A visit to the contemporary Grill Room restaurant for some beautiful classic-English dishes with a modern twist is a must. Many of the ingredients are sourced from Down Hall’s own vegetable gardens and this attention to detail is evident in the amazing flavours and textures of the food. An extensive wine selection is readily available and for afters, some truly delectable desserts - the “Chocolate Plate” is highly recommended! The Grill Room can host events large and small, and can create the perfect menu for any occasion. After dinner, the cocktail bar can provide a nightcap before you retire for

the evening. Along with a superb breakfast menu, Afternoon Tea is also served in the sumptuous lounge area and the hotel offers a picnic service during the summer months. Down Hall is the perfect venue for a wedding and the 110 acres of landscaped Gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for a special day. Down Hall Country House also host team building escapes and conferences if you fancy combining work and pleasure? Additional offers include family breaks and seasonal getaways, and the hotel is even one of the AA’s leading pet friendly hotels, so if you can’t bear to leave your pooch behind, bring it along! The service from both the restaurant staff, as well as the reception staff is friendly, polite and accommodating, and Down Hall staff really go the extra mile to welcome their guests. ‘Out of Hours’ thoroughly recommends Down Hall Hotel for the perfect escape from the stresses of everyday life. It’s the ideal setting for a romantic break, a family getaway or indeed some solo relaxation! To find out more and book your stay visit or call 01279 731 441



Learn more about wine

Enjoy courses and tastings in Harpenden and St Albans Taste and discover delicious new wines Great evenings for experts and beginners Choose courses from one evening to eight weeks Fun and affordable, treat yourself or buy a gift voucher

We are fortunate in this country to have access to a huge choice of wine from the world’s main wine-producing regions, but despite, or maybe because of that we usually stick to what we know when choosing wine. There’s nothing wrong with that apart from the fact that we are missing out on a big world of delicious wine. Help is at hand however in the form of the UK’s first ‘National Wine Month’, an initiative led by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and supported by the country’s leading retailers. The aim is to encourage people to try different wine and learn a bit more about the subject – in short ‘Make Time for Wine’. As part of the programme of events, Hertfordshire Wine School is running introductory evenings in Harpenden and St Albans where anyone who likes wine, but would like to know more, can begin their journey of discovery in a relaxed and informal setting. The school, which is part of a national network, runs courses and tastings in Hertfordshire to suit all levels of interest and experience. These include one-evening tastings, a Saturday daytime course with Champagne and lunch and an ever popular 8-week ‘World of Wine’ course. Tailored corporate events and ‘after-work’ social or team-building evenings can also be arranged, all of which are designed to demystify, or remove any pretentiousness, which may still be still associated with the wonderful world of wine. For more information or contact David Rhodes on 01582 768716 or 07794 313873.

THE WINE SOCIETY Nestled away in the heart of the county, The Wine Society in Stevenage is a great little association which provides a unique and all-round experience and service. The impressive wine list at Society displays over 800 wines from all corners of the world.

At the command of the British Government of the day, MajorGeneral Henry Scott, along with R. Brudenell Carter and George Scrivenor, a senior official of the Board of Customs, held a series of lunches to publicise the wines. Many of their guests expressed an interest in purchasing wine, and General Scott proposed the setting up of ‘a co-operative company’ to buy good quality wines on a regular basis to sell to members. Thus it was that The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society Limited came into being. In 1965, they moved to premises in Stevenage, where all The Society’s operations have since been concentrated. After more than 130 years The Society continues to be owned solely by its members (one share each) and trades only with them. The Society’s six buyers, led by Sebastian Payne MW, travel for some 300 days and thousands of miles each year not only to get the best deals from existing suppliers, but also to keep abreast of new developments in the industry. They are experienced professionals, whose brief is simply to buy only wines which they are enthusiastic about from producers

who share their passion for quality at every price. Because the buyers have long-term responsibilities for their respective regions, The Wine Society offers impartial advice and value. Wines are recommended purely for their quality and sold at the best possible price. The range of wines caters to every pocket and palate – from under £5 a bottle to a unique ‘Society’ selection list. The society is a winner in this year’s Portuguese Wine Awards – the second time in three years that the company has received this National Retailer Award. Buyer Joanna Locke MW accepted the award on behalf of the Society at a dinner hosted by the new Portuguese Ambassador at his private residence in London on Wednesday 2nd March; “I am delighted with the award, which recognises our efforts to bring Portuguese wines to a wider audience, through a range of offers and through our highly successful tasting of Portuguese wines in London last November, which attracted over 300 Wine Society members. More and more members are enjoying these superb wines, and there will be more new wines to look out for over the coming year.” For all enquiries: 01438 741177 e-mail :


The Wine Society owes its existence to the Great Exhibitions of the mid-19th century, where in 1874 various countries sent large quantities of wine in cask to be stored in the cellars of the Royal Albert Hall.

LIGHT YOUR FIREBRAND Light Your Firebrand! – Coca-Cola was invented 125 years ago this month, Harley Davidson is the most tattoo’d brand, so what is it that makes these brands so special? Branding expert and author of Light Your Firebrand, Mike Symes investigates. For all of the manufacturing and marketing brilliance behind these brand giants, there is something almost unbelievably simple that makes them the Firebrand successes they are. “It is not just about being different, it’s about making a difference. It’s no longer enough to stand out – you have to stand for something.” Every Firebrand business has a powerful central idea or ‘core essence’. That means putting a word or short phrase right at the centre of your dial, at the heart of your brand that has to light you up as much as it matters to people. This is why a Harley-Davidson exec can say: “what we sell is the ability for a 43-year old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.” You see, the truth is that you don’t need to be the size and scale of Apple or Virgin to create a vision, which shapes every action you take and gets you out of bed every morning fired up. Essentially, it’s about creating a brand experience and a culture that is addictive, infectious and, ultimately, irresistible. Let me try and make it a little easier in the form of what I have called the 4Rs.

Relevant The appropriateness of brand ‘fit’ to customer wants and needs. The brand must stand for something pertinent in the eyes of the customer - providing a solution to a problem or creating an opportunity.

Remarkable The distinguishing nature or uniqueness of the brand and its impact on the customer, such that is not just noticed, it is remarked upon.

Reputational The level of trust and respect gained by a relationship with the brand. The cause it represents is admirable and the association builds customer esteem.



The degree of emotional involvement and depth of engagement with the brand. The brand connects with the customer on multiple levels across several senses. Integrity must be at the heart of your brand. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, or what products or services you provide, if the brand story doesn’t ring true or is superficial, because the company doesn’t really ‘own’ it, then your customers and employees will see through it. If you remain true to your brand, to your cause, then they will get behind your Firebrand, live it and really love it.

It is not just about being different, it’s about making a difference.

It’s no longer enough to stand out – you have to stand for something.

Mike Symes is Managing Director of Strand Branding, the awardwinning financial marketing agency and author of “Light Your Firebrand”.

For an opportunity to win a signed copy of “Light Your Firebrand” – signed by Mike Symes, just answer this question: Which of the following quotes appears on about the book Light Your Firebrand? This is the book that your marketing agency: A. would really like to read B. really doesn’t want you to read C. would really like to read to you D. really would like you to read Send your answer to

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The Hertfordshire Business Independent May 2011  

May issue of Hertfordshire's premier business to business magazine