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Mike Young analyses consumer lending patterns coupled with the 2011 VAT increase


Everything you need to know before setting up your business


HBI takes a behind the scenes look at The Retail Conference


All the latest technology from the retail sector

THE WAITROSE EXPERIENCE Profiling the Branch Manager of the Waitrose store in Hitchin

RETAIL SPECIAL issue November 2010


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CONTENTS NEWS A roundup of the latest business news and stories from our region

08 INTERVIEW : MARTIN LEWIS Money Saving Expert talks about top savings this Christmas

10 MONEY Can the high street return to form without the support of the consumer credit crutch?


This month’s focus is on Watford


THE WAITROSE EXPERIENCE A profile of the Branch Manager at the Hitchin store


We go behind the scenes of last month’s conference in London organised by St Albans company Retail Acumen

TECHNOLOGY We take a look at some of the latest gadgets on the market for retailers


SALES FOCUS Top Sales Tips from Andy Preston


NETWORKING Regular contributor Andy Lopata shares his thoughts on networking


DRIVE Good news for Kia as they continue to keep up the retail pressure






CONTRIBUTORS Becky Lewis Terry Sullivan Jade Stoner Clare Rayner Carolyn Bailey Andy Preston Andy Lopata Clare Waller Mindy Gibbins-Klein Emma Cameron Mike Young

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 nor any 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.


Welcome to the November issue of The Hertfordshire Business Independent and with it comes an editorial team that are all beginning to panic about Christmas! Several of the team have young children (including myself) and so the thought of packed shopping centres and last minute dashes thanks to that latest addition to the ‘letter to Santa’ aren’t far from our minds! Thankfully, this issue has given us much food for thought as well as some great ideas for a hassle free and hopefully cheaper festive period. We welcome TV Money Guru Martin Lewis who kindly answered some of our shopping related conundrums and we also preview some of the latest gadgets and apps to help us have a very Merry Christmas indeed. Our retail focus continues with a round up of The Retail Conference, organised by St Alban’s very own retail expert Clare Rayner (you may have seen her a few times on BBC Breakfast lately). I hope you enjoy this issue and as always, please keep sending us your news and views. Jenna


Jenna Gould : Editor

JOBS AND RESEARCH SET TO GROW IN BEDS, BUCKS AND HERTS AS CONFIDENCE REMAINS STEADY Accountants in the East of England have given their strongest predictions of growth for two key indicators for business confidence in the next twelve months for the region. Headcount and research and development budgets are set to grow strongly in the next twelve months according to the ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor (BCM). Research and Development budgets in the Beds, Bucks and Herts area are expected to grow by 2.8 per cent over the coming year following a growth of 1.7 per cent over the last twelve months, the strongest rate of growth for R&D ever recorded by the BCM for any region. In addition headcount is expected to grow by 2.2 per cent over the coming twelve months, the fastest expected rate of growth since Q1 2008 and up from projections of a 0.6 per cent growth in payroll in Q2 2010. The confidence index score for the region is 23.9 for Q3 2010, a marginal decline of 3.7 points but still ahead of the UK as a whole - nationally the Confidence Index stands at 21.5. The BCM is one of the largest and most comprehensive quarterly trackers of business confidence in the UK, based on the informed opinions of typically 1,000 senior business professionals working at the heart of business. It has proved to be an accurate forward indicator of GDP growth.

HSBC IMPROVES SUPPORT TO BUSINESSES IN CENTRAL AND EAST WITH APPOINTMENT OF 18 INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL MANAGERS HSBC Commercial Banking has appointed 18 international commercial managers to its Central & East Commercial Banking team, strengthening the dedicated resource on offer to the increasing number of customers in the region trading internationally, or interested in investigating opportunities overseas. The new appointments, which include Graham Hammond who will specifically support businesses in Aylesbury and High Wycombe, will further develop HSBC’s strong international capabilities, and create additional links with the bank’s network of 9,500 offices in 86 countries and territories. The international commercial managers will work closely with businesses in their designated areas to enable them to conduct business across borders, jurisdictions and language barriers with greater ease, and manage their payments and cash more effectively.

BARCLAY MEADE ANNOUNCES TEAM EXPANSION IN HERTFORDSHIRE Leading professional staffing recruitment consultancy Barclay Meade, part of the Matchtech Group, has bolstered its finance and accountancy team in St Albans with three new appointments. The team will be led by Sue Palmer, manager of Barclay Meade’s finance and accountancy division in the region. Sue, who has 12 years’ experience within the finance and accountancy recruitment sector, will be focusing on recruiting permanent and interim finance professionals, from recently qualified through to chief financial officer level, throughout the Northern Home Counties. Reporting in to Sue will be Nikki Halsall, managing consultant - interim and contract, and Joe Maher, senior consultant - permanent. Nikki brings more than 18 years’ recruitment experience to the business and joins from Harcourt Matthews, while Joe also joins from Martin Ward Anderson. Barclay Meade is one of the UK’s leading professional staffing recruitment consultancies, specialising in accountancy, financial services, human resources, procurement, supply chain and logistics, sales, marketing and communications and executive search.

SISTER ACT: TWO SISTERS FROM HERTFORSHIRE RECOGNISED IN THIS YEAR’S BARCLAYS TRADING PLACES AWARDS Sisters Julie Jones and Beverly Densham have been named two of Britain’s most inspirational business women after setting up on their own. Julie and Beverly didn’t realise that either one had entered the awards but are now both hoping to win a share of the £50,000 prize package in the 2010 Barclays Trading Places Awards, which recognises people who have beaten the odds to succeed in business. Julie, from Letchworth, decided to set up her own business Changes Forever after her marriage of 17 years ended. She is a relationship and lifestyle coach and through Changes Forever she can help women like her to thrive after divorce and separation, bereavement and illness. Her sister, Beverly from Welwyn Garden City, suffered a horrendous road accident whilst on her bicycle in Australia in 1997. She found Pilates through her recuperation and now is such an enthusiast she became the first Body Control Pilates Teacher in Hertfordshire and established her Lifestyle Pilates Studios in Hatfield in 1998. Barclays will present the overall winner with a cheque for £10,000, and the runner-up with £5,000 for their business, at a prestigious black-tie gala dinner at The Savoy in London on Tuesday 30th November to be attended by more than 300 VIP guests. This year there is also a special award and a cheque for £3,500, courtesy of Barclays, for the Trading Places finalist whose business is helping local people by putting something back into the community. Other Awards partners include youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the NFEA, Crisis, PRIME, the cdfa and the Community Channel.

MUMS ARE INCREASINGLY CONTRIBUTING TO THE ECONOMY Over 60 per cent of new businesses are started from home and most of them are being created by mothers who want to stay with their children, said mumpreneur Krista Waddell, CEO of gold party organisers Ounces2Pounds. According to a report by the Government adviser Enterprise Nation more than 1,400 new home businesses are created every week far more than any other type of start-up.

The home-business as a route is an excellent way to bring people into employment who might otherwise not contribute to the economy, said Ms Waddell, whose company is included in The Guardian’s top 50 good ideas for home-working.



There has always been pressure on women to stay at home with their children and they can be left with feelings of guilt when they leave their child in a nursery. Home-working is the ideal solution which allows a woman to bring up her children and run a business, said Ms Waddell, who created her business after the birth of her daughter.


BACK TO WORK FOR FOOTBALL STAR A senior partner at Clydesdale Bank has returned to his desk at the St Albans Financial Solutions Centre (FSC) after a thrilling spell captaining England in the World Blind Football Championship 2010. Harpenden-based David Clarke has worked for Clydesdale Bank since October 2005. After playing football from a young age, he joined the national squad when it was set up in 1995. Sixteen years later and he is now the captain and the longest serving member of the England team. David also represented Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and is an ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid. David said: “The level of support that I received from Clydesdale was incredible and something that is extremely rare across organisations today. The focus that Clydesdale Bank places on all aspects of their employees’ well being extends well beyond a working capacity, and into sporting commitments and voluntary work that employees are involved in”.

SOUTHERN SME’S ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES! New research from Bacs, the organisation behind Bacs Direct Credit, has revealed that over half (54 per cent) of Southern SMEs do not anticipate any assistance from the Government in tackling the late payments issue and that the number of companies in the region feeling the impact of late payments in June 2010 has fallen by over 20 per cent in just six months. With many SMEs still highly dependent on cheques, a specific piece of advice is for companies to consider adopting automated payments methods. Bacs’ research shows that 79 per cent of SMEs still use cheques to pay bills and, with cheque clearing facilities due to be phased out by 2018, SMEs should consider replacing the use of cheques with automated payment methods sooner rather than later. Automated payments offer many benefits in streamlining processes and helping cash flow, which companies can take advantage of now to help combat late payments. For more information about late payments and how to tackle them head on, visit where Bacs has developed a series of hints and tips for encouraging prompt payment.


Business adviser Maree Atkinson has scooped a coveted award for the fifth time in as many years. Maree, who works for the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) won the award for most successful business adviser in the East of England and was thrilled to learn she was also one of the top five FSB advisers in the whole of the UK. Working throughout towns and villages in Hertfordshire and South Bedfordshire, Maree gets to know more about the businesses she meets and also explains how firms can tap into the FSB’s wide ranging business perks. This includes 24 hour legal advice, a library of over 300 free legal documents and many ways to save money through the FSB’s massive buying power. Maree is well-known for her general business support and guidance and is highly respected in the local business community. She has enrolled over 500 local businesses to the FSB this year and continues to make a contribution to businesses’ success. “I really enjoy my work with the FSB and winning this award is a real honour,” said Maree, who was also the first woman to ever make it in to the national top five of FSB Advisers. “I’m passionate about helping businesses and I think this comes across when I talk to business owners. With overheads continuously increasing and the burden of more legislation, having access to support and legal knowledge is just so important”. “I work with companies of every profession and recent years have been very challenging for businesses given the economic climate. I often act like a counsellor with people just needing to let off steam about problems incurred often through no fault of their own. But that’s exactly what the FSB is about – providing support and help when it’s needed that doesn’t cost a fortune”. The FSB is the largest business organisation in the UK and caters for all types of businesses from sole traders working from home, to companies on business parks with up to 200 staff. The FSB also offers many services including, free business banking, cheaper credit card transactions, networking, training events, business insurance and lobbies the Government on issues affecting its members. Membership starts at just £2.50 a week For more information about the FSB contact Maree on 01462 451124

HELP FOR THE HEROS Imran Chowdhury owner of Le Spice Merchant , who’s family have been in the service of the military for 5 generations is hosting a Help The Hero’s Evening on Tuesday 30th November from 7.30 pm with Guest of honour Richard Beazley ,Vice Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire. Enjoy a 5 course meal with a Champagne Reception and live music from a Michael Buble & Frank Sinatra tribute. Bookings must be made in advance and the cost is £34.95 per head. For more details or to book your place call 01920 468383 or book online at All profits go to Help The Hero’s.

TIMETICKET AIMS TO HELP SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES PUNCH ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT Local businesswoman Charlotte Freeston-Clough is helping small businesses in Hertfordshire and Essex to compete with larger organisations with her new virtual assistant business, TimeTicket. TimeTicket provides ‘pay as you go’ administrative and professional support for small and medium sized businesses, offering them all the benefits that would come with hiring another member of staff but without all the cost, hassle, risk and commitment. It isn’t easy to employ an additional member of staff and the costs are very high when you take into account sick/holiday leave, national insurance, tax, maternity cover, employee management and motivation as well as office space and the associated paperwork. However, TimeTicket allows clients to buy blocks of time, called ‘timetickets’ to use as and when required. Virtual administration covers tasks that can be done remotely to help you run your business such as typing, producing PowerPoint presentations, preparing mailshots, mail merges, data inputting, sorting and documenting expenses and document formatting. The industry has taken off in the US but is still in its infancy in the UK. While aiming to offer a local service which can support businesses in Hertfordshire and Essex, technology means that, at least in theory, TimeTicket can support businesses all over the world,

from Hertford, Hoddesdon and Harlow to Sydney, Australia and Cape Town, South Africa, all to the same high professional standards.


The Red Hot Caribbean Cocktails evening held by Crohn’s and Colitis UK was a great success and here is the photo to prove it!

NEW FREE BUSINESS BRIEFINGS FROM BUSINESS LINK Business Link has launched its new programme of free workshops and briefings for businesses and entrepreneurs in Hertfordshire. The events will take place from October through to March, at convenient locations across the county. Aimed at those just starting out, as well as established businesses, they are designed to develop business skills, ideas and knowledge. From business planning, to finding new customers and using social media, there’s something to suit every need. Last year, Business Link workshops attracted 24,035 delegates and received an overall customer satisfaction rating of 91.6 per cent. So far this year, customer satisfaction has risen steadily to 95.7 per cent, with 100 per cent achieved in July; these figures tell a story of high quality presenters, appropriate content and good locations.

From left, Simon George of HBI, David Grant, with Chairman of Watford Council Councillor Alan Burtenshaw and Carrie Grant. 36 guests attended the evening, hosted at the Watford branch of the Clydesdale Bank and supported by the Hertfordshire Business Independent magazine as media partners.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK are interested in meeting businesses from the Watford community who would like to learn more about how to support their staff who live with IBD, or who might want to undertake fundraising in order to help the charity keep its helplines open and its free booklets available. Over a quarter of a million people across the UK live with IBD (Crohn’s or Colitis) – but the conditions are not well-acknowledged or publicised, in part due to the personal nature of the symptoms which can include fatigue, diarrhea, severe pain and, in children, restricted growth.



The local business and civic community was invited to hear a moving presentation by Crohn’s sufferer, TV personality and vocal coach Carrie Grant whose talk was co-presented with her husband David, giving poignant and humorous insights into what it’s like living with someone with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).





But if you’ve not started saving, you can still put some away in November and December. And it is also possible to spread the cost into January interest-free, even without a special 0% credit card, by spending on an empty card in December, and ensuring you repay it in full in January.

If you have a combined household income of over £30,000 and a decent credit score, sign up to an American Express Rewards credit card and for each month in the first three you spend over £500, you get a bonus 6,000 reward points – enough for a £30 M&S, Amazon, iTunes voucher and more. Better still, unlike most reward cards you can redeem the points as soon as you’ve earned them (in 25 branches). ONLY do this if you pay off in full every month (preferably by direct debit), so there’s no interest. Too many just work through a wanna-have list: massive tree, gifts galore, plasma tv, and gourmet food – and only afterwards ask “how on earth will we pay for it?” Yet the best possible thing to work out is how much you’ve got to spend and see what the best Christmas you can have within that budget is. After all, it’s not worth a debt-soaked new year for. There’s a free budget planner at


You can often do better with them by trading them in via Tesco’s Clubcard Reward scheme, where you can get up to four times their value on things like days out, magazine subscriptions and gifts. So £20 of vouchers becomes £80 of Clubcard rewards. However, that of course is based on the list price. Do check the real price of those goods before using vouchers to ensure you get maximum value. Also be aware that from 6 December you’ll only be able to exchange vouchers for rewards worth three times their value, instead of four i.e. £10 gets £30. If Clubcard rewards appeal, pounce on them at quadruple value before this deadline.

SHOULD I BUY PRESENTS FOR ALL AND SUNDRY? While gift giving for kids or in the immediate family is great, if you’re going to spread it wider, consider its effect. Giving creates an obligation to give in return. Worse still, it can mis-prioritise our finances. If Janet gives ‘skint’ John £20 socks and he feels obliged to return a £20 scarf, in effect John’s spent £20 on the socks. Is that really what he’d have spent the cash on? Make sure you’re buying things they will need or want, and consider a pact to either not give or limit the cost. If you’re embarrassed to ask, there’s a special tool to do it for you at


Ensure you use a ‘shopbot’ (shopping comparison site) to benchmark prices for everything you need, even if you don’t want to buy them online (though you do get extra consumer protection). Use sites like,, or my own, which combines the results of a range of shopbots. If you do buy online visit stores via cashback websites like www. or to get a kickback (though only ever see this as a bonus, as it’s never 100% guaranteed). If you don’t know what you want to buy, keep an eye out for bargains. You may find a cracking ‘three for two’ offer that gets you presents for three people at a good price, plus try, which finds seriously reduced price deals on the giant websites (though always compare elsewhere to see if they’re genuine bargains).

The best time to start saving for Christmas is on Boxing Day. After all, the average family spends £600; spread over the year that’s just £50 a month. Too many try to pay for Christmas out of December’s income, often a hard stretch, leaving people making up the gap with debt.


In the run up to Christmas shops are desperate to attract new customers with discounts and deals but don’t want to give reductions to their walk-in trade who’d be shopping there anyway. To do this they use special click ‘n’ print web vouchers for those prepared to look. As we near Christmas there are loads around; a daily updated list of all the hot legitimate ones is at


Pre-Christmas high street retailers try to bribe us with huge introductory shopping discounts if we sign up for their store cards. The problem is the disgusting 25-30% interest rate. Thus never, ever, ever borrow on store cards. Instead, the disciplined can spend on them to bag the discount and immediately repay in full there’s no interest charge. Better still, team up with friends, so one gets a card, you all spend on it for the discount, and they give you the money. Then next time you shop, someone else gets the card and you use the same trick to perpetually keep the discount.


Use to compare the cost of your big Christmas shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado (Waitrose) and Asda online. Even if you don’t want to actually buy online, it’s a good indication of which store is generally cheapest. Also try my downshift challenge to drop down a supermarket brand level this Christmas, eg, from finest to normal, normal to own brand, or own brand to value brand. For a TV programme, I once organised two identical Christmas parties for 20 maternity nurses. For one the tree, drinks and food were a higher level brand; the other, one brand level lower. When they voted on the best, they actually preferred the cheap one.


If you’re buying a big purchase for you and the fam station, it’s likely to be vastly cheaper after Christm us hostage. So why not give the kids a nicely wrapped IOU fo small present saying you could afford extra becau get more and even better, they get the gift of a goo MARTIN’S MONEY MANTRA BEFORE YOU SPEND! Whatever you plan to buy, whether it’s a present or for yourself, it’s worth examining your spending with one of two money mantras, depending on whether you’re ‘skint’ or not. Before you buy anything, ask yourself these three questions. IF YOU’RE ‘SKINT’ Do I need it? Can I afford it? Have I checked if I can find it cheaper anywhere else? IF YOU’RE NOT ‘SKINT’ Will I use it? Is it worth it? Have I checked if I can find it cheaper anywhere else?


mily, like a hi-tech TV or Playmas as retailers can’t hold

or the January sales, and a use of that? Then the kids od financial lesson on top.



CAN THE HIGH STREET RETURN TO FORM WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THE CONSUMER CREDIT CRUTCH? Mike Young, St Albans partner at FRP Advisory LLP, the specialist restructuring, recovery and insolvency firm, analyses consumer lending patterns and what a more austere approach to personal finance, coupled with the 2011 VAT increase and a subdued economic recovery, will mean for performance on the high street. A quick office or dinner table survey is likely to back-up statistics released in October 2010 by Nationwide; consumer confidence was at its lowest level in September since March 2009, largely caused by people’s concern about the impact of the Government Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). Ask your friends and colleagues; there are likely to be few among them who are planning major purchases in the next few months, such as a house, a car or a new kitchen. In its latest report, The British Retail Consortium found that, although like-for-like sales grew by 0.5 per cent in September, this was a significant drop on the 1 per cent experienced in August, with “big ticket” items (bathrooms, fitted kitchens) on the high street being the hardest hit. Undoubtedly, this is driven by low consumer confidence but, it is also greatly influenced by our changing attitudes towards and the availability and cost of credit. A few years ago, credit was easy and cheap to get hold of, jobs were plentiful and too few of us concerned ourselves with how we would pay our debts back. It was a part of our new found consumer culture – we didn’t need to deny ourselves anything, because consumer or store credit allowed us to live and buy well beyond our means. Figures taken from the Bank of England (BoE) show that in August 2000 net lending to individuals totalled £644 billion, with secured borrowing standing at £522 billion and unsecured borrowing at £122 billion. Just five years later, in August 2005, total net borrowing had jumped to £1.122 trillion, with secured borrowing reaching £932 billion and unsecured £191 billion. These figures are staggering and it should come as no surprise that, over this period, the number of personal insolvencies increased by 38,056, reaching 67,584 in 2005 (Insolvency Service), despite relatively benign economic circumstances, low rates of unemployment and indeed, low interest rates compared to historic levels. It became more socially acceptable to ‘go bankrupt’ or to enter into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) - a slightly more constructive alternative, in that it should ensure at least some return to creditors. The number of IVAs being entered into led, or perhaps was driven by, new businesses providing IVA solutions – they took on a standardised, volume based approach and the numbers soared. From August 2005 to August 2010, the rate of growth in consumer lending slowed, particularly in the run up to the recession. However, total net lending in August 2010 was still at £1.457 trillion (BoE) and the annualised rate of personal insolvencies to June 2010 had more than doubled to 140,850 (Insolvency Service). The increase in insolvencies was driven by a combination of straightforward excessive borrowing, as a result of the ready availability of credit, a shift in cultural attitudes and the marketing of personal insolvency solutions. The dramatic fall in property values, rise in unemployment and the current slow recovery, have compounded these problems. What is noteworthy and of concern, is that although the rate of increase in borrowing slowed during the recessionary period, consumer borrowing kept going up and existing levels of debt are still greater than GDP. With such a mountain of debt, set against the backdrop of poor short to medium-term economic prospects, it is unlikely that the availability of credit, or the confidence to access it, will improve in the near future. In reality, there needs to be a reduction in the total level of indebtedness, particularly unsecured, to create headroom for further spending. Similar to business lending, more prudent consumers are now concentrating on paying downdebt. Many are now saving, either to fund purchases they would traditionally have used credit to buy, or because they are concerned about job security. There has been a perceptible shift in our attitude towards credit, as well, arguably, as consumerism and this is only partly driven by the cost and availability of debt.

So how will the high street perform in this new reality? It is highly likely that consumer spending will remain subdued this quarter. The recovery is tentative and few are predicting strong growth over the next few months. The retail sector has undoubtedly been supported by the borrowing and spending habits in the decade running up to the recession and the bubble has apparently burst. The growth in levels of borrowing could not continue at the rates experienced in the early and mid 2000s. Without the crutch of consumer credit, we are unlikely to see the same levels of growth in the retail sector as those experienced during the early years of this decade. In addition to a subdued economy and the forthcoming VAT increase, high street stores also have a large number of fixed overheads – rent, rates, service charge – and therefore, results can vary markedly due to footfall. High street store operators are having to negotiate with landlords in many instances to agree terms of monthly rent or turnover rents just to survive. In contrast, online retailers are performing relatively well, which reflects the persistence of young spending and the absence of expensive overheads. Additionally, pockets of retail, such as young, low-cost fashion (Primark, TK Maxx), are growing – and, at the other end of the spectrum, the high value sector has remained largely unaffected, due to its wealthier customer profile. However, for much of the high street it will be a case of continuing to run a tight ship as our steps towards a recovery become more sure-footed. There will be a continued period of austerity and we are unlikely to see a return to the growth rates in consumer borrowing of the early 2000s. However, as the economy improves, so too will consumer confidence and as people rid themselves of debt or take it to more manageable levels, they will begin to find more disposable income. I don’t believe we, as a nation, will ever grow tired of our penchant to shop but, the high street must accept that its performance is unlikely to be so considerably propped up by consumer credit again.


10 TOP TIPS OF WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE SETTING UP A COMPANY Starting up can be difficult especially if you are unsure of the processes and you are unfamiliar with the legal side of things. Emma Cameron, an Associate in the corporate department at the Watford based Legal Practice Matthew Arnold & Baldwin, gives the following top tips on what you need to know about the legal side of things when starting your business. Emma specialises in corporate finance and advises clients on the acquisition and sale of businesses and shares. She also advises on joint ventures, limited liability partnerships, shareholder arrangements and fundraisings.


It is possible to trade in a variety of ways, examples include: a limited liability company, sole trader, traditional partnership or limited liability partnership (LLP). Which structure is best for your business will depend upon a number of factors such as the number of persons involved, your tax situation and whether you want the protection of limited liability. It is important to determine the best structure from the outset so as to maximise on the benefits of the structure you choose and avoid incurring extra costs by changing the structure at a later date.


If your chosen structure involves other persons such as investors, lenders, shareholders or business partners, it is important to document the terms of your relationship with them. Even if these persons are friends or family, it is always best to formalise the relationship. Consider issues such as: • how should profits be divided? • how will important management decisions be made? • what happens if someone leaves or dies?


Consider all financing options. In addition to bank finance, you may qualify for Government grants. Business “angels” or “dragons” may also wish to invest. When negotiating the terms of any finance, take into account not just the amount of money lenders or investors will provide but the security they request. It is highly preferable not to put your personal assets at risk.


If you wish to incorporate a company or a limited liability partnership, you will need to check that no one else has registered the same name (or a name which is essentially the same) at Companies House. You also need to check that no one else is using the same or similar name for the same or similar goods or services. If you fail to check this, you may infringe someone else’s trade mark. There are legal restrictions on using certain words in a business name (for example, “dentistry” or “Inspectorate”). If you want to use such words, you need to seek the consent of the Secretary of State and any relevant regulatory authority. It is best to give careful consideration as to the business name before you spend money on creating a brand.


Once you have chosen the name for your business, make sure that you protect the name and any logo. You should consider registered trade mark protection. You should also ensure that you register all relevant domain names, including variations such as .com and .co. uk. Dependent on the nature of your business, you may also require other forms of protection such as patents or registered design rights.


By law, companies and LLPs must display their registered name at their registered office, other places of business and on their website and other business communications such as letters and compliment slips (irrespective of whether the communications are in hard copy or soft copy). Partnerships with 20 partners or less must list the names of all of the partners on all business correspondence. However, partnerships with more than 20 partners can refer their principal place of business and state that a full list of the partners’ names and addresses can be inspected there. It pays to take advice to check that all relevant details are included on your paperwork before paying for any print runs.


Your business should contract on its own standard terms and conditions (T&Cs). These T&Cs are important as they will set out, for example, your payment terms, the limit of your liability and whether or not you retain title to goods sold pending receipt of payment. These T&Cs should be properly brought to the attention of all your customers and suppliers so as to avoid the T&Cs being found to be unenforceable, or over-ridden by the T&Cs of your customers or suppliers.


Even if you do not put written employment contracts in place, certain minimum rights are implied by law. Therefore if the business takes on someone to “help out” on a temporary basis, that person will accrue certain rights. Take particular care if you wish to use foreign workers. You should check that any foreign workers have the right to work in the United Kingdom.


Employers have legal duties relating to the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public. If an employer employs 5 or more people, it must have a written statement of its health and safety policy and bring the policy to the attention of all its employees.


Once the business is up and running, you must continue to comply with legal requirements such as filing annual returns for companies and LLPs, submitting VAT returns and preparing annual accounts.


We have recently launched a website for the first time. Are there any legal implications I should consider? internet and consider the possibility of sales from outside of the UK. Put some thought into whether your copyright notice is sufficient with regard to what you are selling (e.g. if your website provides access to valuable content you may want to tighten your terms). Remember, as a website owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your site conforms to current legislation.

The rules & regulations regarding website operation are there to improve trading standards, security & privacy, as well as ensuring accessibility for users with disabilities. If your business collects or stores any information from prospective clients, then you must find out if you need to apply for registration as a Data Controller under The Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act 1998 applies to most businesses that collect and store email addresses or personal information for the purpose of supplying goods or services. There are exemptions, and some small businesses qualify for exemption. Even if you do not trade through your website you should ensure that it has privacy and copyright notices. You may also need terms of use of the website itself. If you offer goods and services through a website (or are thinking of expanding your business in this way) you will also need to consider certain other issues in order to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. For example do your terms and conditions reflect practical issues relevant to e-commerce transactions such as the level of security your payment process provides? You also need to take into account the fact that both consumers and businesses purchase through the

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WATFORD A GREAT PLACE TO DO BUSINESS IN Whilst there is a lot of concern around as far as the UK economy is concerned we in Watford are very optimistic about the future.ensure you don’t start the new year in the red.


Watford is already the home of many well known companies such as Camelot, Total UK, TK Maxx and Mothercare and with the help of our Inward Investment Manager we continue to attract quality new business to our town especially from abroad. So what are the secrets to our success? Well, firstly we have a highly skilled and well educated workforce and we are delighted that the new state of the art West Hertfordshire College Campus opened its doors to students in September. Our two grammar schools are regularly amongst the top 20 high achieving schools in the country. Watford has some of the best travel links in the country with London Euston just 17 minutes away with a direct link to the city via the Metropolitan Line. There are also direct rail links from Watford Junction to the Midlands and the North. The two busiest motorways in Europe the M1 and the M25 pass close to the town and five International airports are within one hours drive of the town. Our leisure facilities are second to none. The Harlequin shopping centre boasts over 140 shops which attracts many thousands of visitors every day. We have a Championship Football Team and Watford is the home of Saracens who are one of the most successful rugby teams in the country. The Palace Theatre is one of the towns gems staging high quality productions throughout the year finishing with a Christmas pantomime which this year is Aladdin. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside and Cassiobury Park especially in springtime is a joy to behold. There are a number of important developments planned for the town over the next few years and these include the Watford Health Campus, the Watford Junction redevelopment and the Warner Brothers Film studios in Leavesden which when completed in 2012

will create 2,000 new jobs and attract 3,000 visitors to the town each day. Watford already has a number of important clusters of businesses in the town and these include financial, pharmaceutical and media. If you would like to know more about our town and what is has to offer your business please have a look at our web site or have a word with our inward Investment Manager Sanjay Purohit on 01923 442442.

Roger Gagan Chief Executive Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce





please see our website for further details

SWITCH TO eSMOKING under a tenner or maybe you need a clever and unusual Secret Santa present for a colleague in the office? Try our new disposable eCigarette, the Liberro Go, for £5.49 available in both regular and menthol flavour. Here it comes again, racing around the corner! What are we referring to...Christmas and all the shopping headaches that brings! Stressing about your Christmas list yet? What on earth shall we get for Uncle John this year? Good question. What do you get for that person who has everything? Well, if your lucky recipient is a smoker and they have been muttering about their health for a while now, how about helping them by switching to eSmoking instead? eCigarettes have been around for a while now and have helped many people achieve a healthier smoking lifestyle. They are tobacco and tar free, contain nicotine but no ash and, best of all for non-smoking family members, they don’t smell either! Or, if you are looking for stocking fillers for

Each disposable Liberro eCig lasts the equivalent of a normal pack of cigarettes! Don’t forget to use your Herts Business Independent code (HBI10) to receive a 10% discount off your order. Ok, so that’s Christmas covered. But what about you? Will one of your New Year’s Resolution be to remove tar, carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals from your daily routine? Well, why not get ahead for the New Year and get your eCig now? It provides all the same sensations as a real cigarette but without the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco. eCigs produce a vapour that looks very similar to smoke and are available in different nicotine strengths and a variety of exciting flavours.

Our brand new Liberro Purity range contains nine flavours; from regular tobacco and cigar flavours through to sensations such as Smoked Hickory, Vanilla Indulgence and Fruit Crush; there really is something for everyone! So, if you are really determined to have that healthier lifestyle choice for 2011, switch to eSmoking instead of reaching for that lighter and packet of cigarettes. There is nothing to burn so you also have that added advantage of being able to “smoke” in public places – no more stepping outside and missing the boss dancing on the tables at the Christmas party or any other office gossip!

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It’s often said that the best training you can get is from the ‘University of Life’ and this is certainly true for Carolyn Bailey. Starting 13 years ago as a Sales Assistant for Waitrose, she has worked her way through the ranks to her current position as Branch Manager of the Hitchin store. We met up to talk Retail, Customer Service, USPs and why she is fully behind programmes to encourage ‘earn as you learn’ schemes. HOW DID YOU REACH YOUR CURRENT POSITION AS BRANCH MANAGER?

If I hadn’t been offered the chance to attend a management training day whilst working as a temp at Waitrose during my post-A Level gap year, then I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. This course opened my eyes to the great career opportunities available with a company like Waitrose and convinced me to take up a full-time position with the company instead of going to university. I’ve since trained my way up through the business to my current role.


Based on my experiences, I think that well run ‘earn as you learn’ schemes are invaluable. It would be great if there were more of them, particularly as university places are dwindling and young people are having to look for other ways to climb the career ladder and prove their worth.


Definitely. Waitrose has built its brand on its ability to ‘differentiate on service’ and provide customers with an all-round, positive experience - of the products they buy, the branches they shop in and the service they receive. Waitrose, as part of the John Lewis Partnership, is owned by everyone who works for the company, that’s why all our staff are called Partners. This co-owned business structure produces high levels of customer service as all Partners have a vested interest in ensuring customers have the best possible experience in branch - because they will take a share of the profits that would normally go to shareholders. Additionally, Partner happiness is one of the main goals of the business and achieving this means that they are more likely to interact positively with customers.


Yes! We encourage all our Partners to use the most effective and ‘green’ way to travel to work on a daily basis (i.e. using public transport, cycling or car sharing) through our ‘green transport plan’. We also support the local community through our Community Matters scheme, where we donate £1000 per month between three local causes. Not only does Community Matters raise funds for the causes nominated, but it also encourages customers and Partners to take an active interest in their local community.


Last year Waitrose agreed a partnership with Duchy Originals which gave Waitrose the exclusive right to originate, manufacture, distribute and sell Duchy Originals products. As part of the licensing deal, Waitrose has committed a minimum of £1 million a year to The Prince’s Charities Foundation which supports a diverse range of charitable causes both in the UK and abroad including everything from supporting young people to protecting the

environment and helping people affected by natural disasters. It is the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the UK.


I believe our marketing perfectly portrays the Waitrose values of quality goods, honest prices and excellent service. Through our more recent marketing initiatives - essential Waitrose and our Brand Price Match, we have demonstrated our price commitment to our customers, without compromising on quality.





A LESSON IN DYNAMIC RETAILING… Last month, some of the most prestigious retailers came together to discuss the industry’s most pressing questions at The Retail Conference 2010. We caught up with Clare Rayner, organiser of The Retail Conference and founder of St Albans based company Retail Acumen to find out what happened at the event this year. The Retail Conference 2010 in it’s 4th year took place at America Square conference centre in London. With the highest delegate turn out to date, the 2010 event was the biggest and best yet which is fabulous considering many events have stopped during the recession. Just under 300 delegates registered, predominantly retail directors and senior managers from the UKs major retail brands but, this year also saw a growing audience of SME, Independent retailers. Big name retailers represented ranged from Marks and Spencer, Prêt A Manger, John Lewis and Debenhams to Estee Lauder, Hotel Chocolate and Molton Brown. There was also a superb turnout from web-based companies like


Each year The Retail Conference has an overarching theme and for 2010 it was “Dynamic Retailing”. Speakers and sponsors alike looked at how retailers have had to adapt rapidly to the incredible shift in the post-recession consumer behaviour and how those behaviours were fuelled by the increasing popularity of social media.


Linking in to the Social Media theme, this year and for the first time, The Retail Conference included a live feed from Twitter of content that included “#TRC10” to trend the conference. This was visible on 2 large screens in the main seminar room and in the main networking space and proved popular with both those present and also with those who could not attend as well! The Retail Conference is structured to provide attendees with a choice of seminars and workshops. This year was no exception – with 3 breakfast meetings, 8 seminars, 2 panel discussions and 10 workshops, delegates were spoilt for choice, and able to tailor their day around the presentations and breakout sessions most relevant to their particular interests and business objectives. The event was chaired for the 3rd year by Andy Lopata. More well known as a business networking strategist, the value Andy brings to the event in his role of chairman is incredible – his instinctive networking skills mean he really gets to know the speakers and during the day his ability to see the connections between ideas and people ensure that his closing wrap up is always spot on! Suffice to say he’s already accepted our booking for the 2011 event! Andy introduced each of the speakers and facilitated audience questions. As always all of the speakers received incredible feedback from delegates, however it was Hash Ladha, Group MultiChannel Director from Aurora Fashions (Karen Millen, Coast, Oasis and Warehouse) who really stole the show! His talk was about “the new customer, the new customer experience” – it was pacey, relevant, funny and informative – he cut through jargon and marketing mumbo jumbo with a direct and to the point style that really worked for the audience! He expressed in a nut shell how organisations, regardless of size, need to wise up to a new, informed customer and to deliver the right experience to secure their loyalty.

Other featured speakers included: • • • •

Catie Callender, Managing Director of Crabtree & Evelyn, who delivered a warm and engaging talk on the meaning of Dynamic Retailing that really set the scene for the day; Naomi Paget, Head of Customer Relationship Marketing at T.M.Lewin who proved the importance in modern retailing of social media, social networks, demonstrating how T.M.Lewin have engaged their customer through their online community “Off the Cuff” Thomas Power, Chairman of Ecademy who shared his vision of how business needs to change to survive an online, social world and why the greatest paradigm shift will be for the leaders of the largest corporations Ian Woosey, Group IT and Ecommerce Director of Carpetright who set the hares running when he demonstrated to the (predominantly commercial / operationally focused audience) how their IT teams could be doing more for them without expending too much more budget! Of course, that was really well received... Clive West, Operations Director for New Business Development at ASDA who really brought to life how ASDA are living proof that listening and responding to customers can turn a bad experience into a good one, and showed exactly why they KNOW that social media has lead to consumer power and that retailers will ignore it at their peril...

There were more speakers, but too many to mention here – all delivering their expertise and a wide range of choice of content to delegates through seminars, workshops and panel discussions WHAT IS THE GENERAL CONSENSUS ABOUT CONSUMER CONFIDENCE? ARE RETAILERS PREPARING FOR A ROCKY CHRISTMAS AND ARE THEY CONCERNED ABOUT THE VAT RISE?

The general mood of the delegates at The Retail Conference 2010, in a few words, was cautious confidence. Retailers know they have to work hard to deliver the right experience, products, pricing, promotions and service levels to earn the share of wallet this Christmas. The feeling was that whilst it was still going to be tough, it was going to be better than the past 2 years... one message was coming through from speakers and workshop presenters loud and clear, and something I personally covered in my own session “Share of wallet only comes into play once you’ve earned a share of heart.” – the point being that in this new online social world, if retailers want to earn their customers’ loyalty they now need to think about winning each customer over personally. I believe, as do many of the speakers, Hash, Naomi, Thomas, Clive, Catie... that this is now the new norm, and that in the postrecessionary retail world those who refuse to engage will find that their competition win over their previously loyal customers – hence in my talk “What can the large retail multiples learn from the most successful of the smaller, independent retailers?” I reminded the multiples that they needed to get on with this NOW or potentially they will discover that their new competition is not the supermarkets, not Amazon, but the wave of engaging, SME independent retailers to whom treating customers as individuals is nothing new.


The theme for The Retail Conference 2011 has been chosen – it will be ‘Optimised Retailing’. Within this theme we will focus on the absolute importance of delivering on your service promise, having streamlined business practices that are not a barrier to but an enabler of success and, embracing new technologies to enhance the customer experience. This theme will enable us to have 3 main topics: 1. Ensuring operations enable the business to meet the customer promise - from source to sale... 2. Leveraging mobile commerce to ensure ‘you are where your customers are’, and, 3. Embedding ‘social’ within customer communications and engagement to build loyalty.

This theme enables us to be relevant both in terms of future development and also in terms of the core business operations - delivering content that continues to inspire and motivate our delegates. If you are involved in the retail sector, maybe we’ll see you there! For more information about The Retail Conference 2011 please visit


All in all The Retail Conference 2010 was a great success – you’d think we’d be celebrating – but the work on 2011 has already begun. The venue is booked, the feedback has been noted and a few improvements to the flow and format of the day have been made. We’ve learnt that starting each event as soon as the last one closes is the key to success!


It’s that time of year again to start thinking about long queues Although perhaps all is not lost, as HBI this month brings y your customers to have a very Merry Christmas this year! GOOGLE’S BLUE DOT : FOR THE TIME-SAVING SHOPPER

If time and budget is not on your customer’s side this Christmas and you know what you need but not sure where to go to find the best deal, then Blue Dot may be the thing for them. Thanks to Google, this new simple feature could save customers all sorts of trouble on their Christmas shopping – it could be made a lot easier, faster and can help save money in the process. This is Google’s Blue Dot, which displays a blue dot next to products on Google shopping searches that are in stock nearby or, if they have limited availability it will be handy to save you a wasted shopping trip. The feature is available for mobile phone users who have the iPhone, Palm Pre or Pixi or any other android-enabled mobile. To bring up the blue dot feature, users simply just go to on their mobile phone, click the ‘More’ tab and select ‘Shopping’ and, once on the shopping page they can begin a search for the product they want to find. When they click on the dot it will display even more detailed information about the product including factors such as price, the shop they can purchase it from and how far away it is from their current location. They can even get directions to the shop, making access much easier! Currently, this feature is only available from a selection of retailers, but UK based Pay Per Click specialist and Google strategic partner Gillissa, have been invited by Google to offer this service to retailers wanting to add the blue dot feature to their Google shopping adverts. For more info visit


Bluetooth proximity marketing allows ‘on the spot’ communication without the delay and expense of printing or using expensive broadcasting services. This kind of marketing allows businesses to market their store, products and services to a targeted audience in a specific area to anyone who has their Bluetooth turned on. With over 60 million Smartphones and PDA users in the UK alone, 60 per cent of them are continually Bluetooth enabled, which makes for an extremely large potential audience. There are many types of businesses and retailers that can benefit immensely during this festive season from Bluetooth marketing, especially small businesses and smaller retailer chains as it does not require the collection of mobile phone numbers or email addresses, but can broadcast safely to targeted or huge audiences in real time. Messages that can be sent from retailers can be a simple text message, an animated voucher with an interactive bar code or even an audio message. Retailers can send offers with discount codes, or to just announce that they have a sale going on- great for those Christmas savings. They can also announce special Christmas gifts that may attract customers who want to give to friends and family.


Apple’s money saving app Red Laser is a barcode-scanning application for product comparison shopping that is designed for on-the-go deal seekers. When finding a product a consumer wants to buy, they can use this app to find out where the product is being sold the cheapest in retail outlets that are near them using the iPhone’s built in GPS. To use this app, users just quickly and easily scan the barcode of the particular product, a list will then appear which shows the prices of that product in online and local retailers, clearly displaying where it is most expensive and where it is at its lowest price. For example, if you saw a Smeg FAB28QNE fridge freezer in John Lewis costing £950, it would tell you that you could get the same fridge for £895 from, the electrical goods website, or £885 from The Red Laser app has proved very successful and has been downloaded over 4 million times, it was even one of the most popular paid-for applications on the App Store last year.


Local Sale Finder is an app that finds discounts and vouchers for different shops and restaurants in a specified location. The local sale finder app has offers in over 40,000 UK locations and has them in a variety of categories that include eating out, amusement and leisure, business and office, clothing and accessories, food and drink shops, health and beauty, motoring, travel and accommodation. Once the app is downloaded, users can search for vouchers and discount offers for places that are near them using the built in GPS to wo and discounts for another area in the UK. When searching from your current location, it automatically updates as you move to a new spot be In addition to saving the end-user money, it is also extremely user and environmentally friendly as the vouchers do not need printing. When u receive the discount as they are displayed directly on the iPhone or iPod Touch. To make shopping and using the vouchers even easier, the app can also display the location of the shop on a map, detailing how to get th using your phone which is ideal for a Christmas family get together or a break from the Christmas shopping. This is another perfect app to offers are available, getting much more value for money. It is also a great way to support local businesses, while saving money at the same time.

s, shopping lists and red bank balances. you some novel tech tips that could help

here. Also, if you’ve found an offer for a restaurant, you can book a reservation there just by make Christmas much easier and cheaper as you can do your shopping in the places where

We all know the importance of a good customer experience when it comes to retailing and thanks to a new offering from Cervello, retailers of all sizes and sectors can ensure their EPOS technology is geared up to coping with seasonal splurges and it won’t break then bank either. Billed as the only flexible Pay As You Go retail software solution in the marketplace, Cervello is a highly innovative browser-based retail system, which has the ability to integrate data from multiple retail sites and e-commerce stores and present it seamlessly through one single interface. Until now, retailers were limited to purchasing a select few pricier POS systems, often with complicated license terms and costly bolt on packages. The introduction of Cervello means that these retailers can now afford to have a fully functional and professional retail system, an embedded web store and full UK support, all provided through Cervello’s UK distributor CTS Retail. And what’s more it’s browser-based functionality means Cervello can usually be loaded onto existing equipment and trading with it can commence immediately. Find out more at



ork out their location. There is also the option to enter a town or postcode to receive offers eing very useful and effortless. using each offer, the consumer just needs to show their phone screen to the sales assistant to


THE XMAS X-FACTOR With reports suggesting that year to date, the UK e-retail market has grown 14%* and that the average household spending has reached almost £1,000 per year online**, Richard Wood, MD of Gillissa reveals why many retailers could miss a trick this Christmas, by failing to maximise how visible their products are online. The market is now flooded with price comparison and product listing sites but many customers are finding that increasing numbers of the listings don’t have the correct price or stock availability, which can be damaging for the brand when they fail to deliver what the customer is expecting. Couple this with the fact that sites like Amazon have a very strict policy when it comes to listings and protecting their customer’s experience, retailers could be putting themselves in a very vulnerable position if their product feeds aren’t kept up to date.

we have been able to ensure that more of the e-tailers products become visible with traffic volumes increasing significantly on their previous levels.

As we have moved through 2010, there have been a number of changes which have taken place across all Comparison Site Engines (such as Kelkoo and Price Grabber), and more importantly within Google.

Product Extension adverts which contain a + symbol in the bottom left hand corner, turns current text-only based AdWords adverts into a selection of image-based ads displaying a full range of products from a specific retailer. This enables them to present more detailed information, including pricing. This new feature is set to dramatically increase web presence and will help to gain additional exposure for individual businesses and their products literally overnight.

As the latter is generally the most important source of visits to websites, these changes have made a considerable difference to the data outputs required from e-retailers. Google and other Comparison Site Engines have expanded and deepened their categories, with new sections on site and more sub-categories to choose from. Google is demanding that products in certain sectors have more mandatory attributes that must be included in the information they receive. Without the right associated information and attributes, e-retailers will find that their products do not show up within comparisons, show up infrequently within search, or as a worse case scenario could find that their product submissions are rejected.


It’s the fast pace of these changes that can catch an e-retailer out. Submissions which have worked well in the past may suddenly stop delivering the volume of visits that were previously arriving. We have encountered several cases where client submissions to Google have been disapproved, and where we needed to step in to solve the underlying problems with the quality of the data. On the plus side, where the client product information can be supplemented with the additional attributes and mapped properly into the recipient channel,

Google is constantly developing news ways to improve the customer experience of shopping online and they have recently launched a new product extension feature called the plus (+) box the UK which has been extremely popular in the US.

The problem I often find in my line of work is that many retailers had the information available to update their product feeds, but simply didn’t have the ‘thing’ that could feed this information out to the web and where it needed to go. Often, I find that marketing agencies are none the wiser either. Automated ‘intelligent’ product display feeds are proven to save retailers days or weeks of management and development time to set up and maintain listings on product comparison sites and help get products in front of more online shoppers quickly and effectively. Sources: * **


The pressure continues to mount for more and more retailers to slash their prices as the recession continues. But cutting prices is not the only way to get ahead in the ‘crunch’, so don’t engage in price wars you cannot sustain but look to tactics such as ‘bundling’ to draw in the crowds. It’s always interesting around this time of year that most retailers debate whether to cut their prices as a way of helping them win business over their competition. Let’s face it – price cutting is a tactic that is often used to try and win more customers. But just because it’s often used, doesn’t mean that it’s the best tactic (or even necessarily a good one!) it just means that it’s used more often! The problem is, the ‘buying public’ are now more savvy and streetwise to those sort of techniques. They know that you often hold and advertise a ‘sale’ with the purpose of increasing footfall in your store and that you want them to be attracted into your store by the sales but, then purchase non-sale items as well or, instead of the sale items – therefore increasing your profits!



If we’re not going to go down the ‘sale’ route, how about putting together some ‘packages’? It’s a proven retail fact that when you put a set of related items together in a ‘package’ people will spend more. The problem is, most retailers don’t bother to do this, or at best do it when the customer has already gone to the till to complete their purchase! If you do it before that process even starts, you can get the customer to view the whole package as one item and therefore perceive it as better value for money. And the results for you? Higher average order value, higher profits and everyone’s happy! So have a think right now, what products or services can you put together as a ‘package’ that will increase the amount your customers spend on each purchase?


This strategy is a little different than is typically used, but therefore can give you a massive advantage over your competition if used well! Instead of thinking what products you have and how to sell them to customers, instead do the exact opposite and think about the problems that your customers might have, related to the products you’re selling.

Particularly in a tough market, people will buy products or services that they view as more ’essential’ rather than just a ‘nice to have’. If they’re having some major problems or headaches, if you can position your product as solving (or helping to solve) those problems, you’ve got a huge advantage and are far more likely to get those customers to buy from you, and also pay higher prices!


Following on from option 2 above, you can then target your marketing, promotion and sales activity towards engaging potential customers that are experiencing the problems you’ve identified in option 2 above. Rather than just ‘blanket’ advertising or promotion to everybody, you have an opportunity to make it more ‘targeted’ – thereby increasing the likelihood of people relating to the things mentioned in your promotion, and more likely to take action because of it! In summary, make sure you take advantage of the tips mentioned above to sell better than your competition, and don’t get caught in a ‘price war’! Defend your margins, retain your profits and look forward to a successful 2011! Good luck with all your future selling efforts! I look forward to hearing how you get on…….. Andy Preston is a leading expert on Sales and Selling, and helps individuals and companies increase their sales. You can see more about him at



Now that would normally have been fine…..however because of ‘price wars’ between rival retailers, some have taken the ‘price war’ a little too far and actually priced the sale items at around cost price or less, because they’re having to do more and more to attract people into their stores! Can you see how this might cause a problem? If customers are only coming into the store to buy the sale items (which are at cost price or less!), the margins and profits for the retailers are going to be severely hit, aren’t they? And that’s all a consequence of the ‘sale’ tactic being overused and retailers having to reduce prices even further to have any kind of impact! So if that’s happening right now, what can we do about it and what alternatives do we have?

LOCAL BUSINESS WOMAN LEADS THE WAY AT WIRE’S PINK LADIES EVENT Speaking at the WiRE Networking Event for Women in Rural Business in Hitchin this week, as part of the Pink Ladies Event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, local entrepreneur, author and thought leadership strategist Ms Gibbins-Klein gave a thought provoking talk on the 4 attributes of REAL thought leaders. She focused on how using these effectively can boost the number of people that remember you, and make you stand out from the competition. “It is already quite challenging to compete in a crowded market like coaching” said Ms Gibbins-Klein “Writing blogs, articles and even books does not take a lot of financial dedication; it just takes a bit of time and strategy. Eventually you do get a critical mass out there and eventually people do get the message!” To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the event raised funds for breast cancer charities to help with research, prevention and cures for breast cancer. Mindy is a strong supporter of charity and helping businesses succeed, having previously donated a £1million prize to entrepreneur Leon Arts, founder of Extraordinary Ones; a unique concept which encourages restaurants to donate 15p from every meal sold to help feed millions of poverty stricken children across the world.


Santa Santa Run Run5K 5K Greenwich Park, Greenwich Park,London London Sunday 55thth December Sunday December2010 2010 Fancy donning a Santa suit and running with 2000 other Santas this christmas? Fancy donning a Santa suit and running with 2000 other Santas this christmas? Crohn’s and Colitis UK have places available for the Santa Run 5K in Greenwich Park, London Crohn’s and5Colitis UK have places available forfee theis Santa Run Greenwich London th on Sunday December 2010. The registration £20 and we5K willinbe asking for Park, a minimum on Sunday 5th December 2010. The registration £20charity. and we will be asking for a minimum sponsorship of £100fee forisour sponsorship of £100 for our charity. The parkland venue offers the perfect setting for you, your family and friends to enjoy the festive The offersand theColitis perfect setting you, your family and friends come to enjoy runparkland on behalfvenue of Crohn’s UK. Whenfor you bask in your achievement, andthe joinfestive us run at onabehalf Crohn’spub andlocated Colitis close UK. When bask in your come and join us scenic,ofVictorian by foryou some mince piesachievement, and warm Christmas brew. at a scenic, Victorian pub located close by for some mince pies and warm Christmas brew. Maybe you can use the opportunity to do some last minute Christmas shopping? Maybe you can use the opportunity to do some last minute Christmas shopping? We would love to have you, your friends, family and colleagues join our Santa team. It is a to have a day out and enjoy yourself! We would love togreat havechance you, your friends, family and really colleagues join our Santa team. It is a great chance to have a day out and really enjoy yourself!

To book your place for Santa Run 5K, please contact Danny Whiteside on 01727 734497 email To book your placeorfor Santa Run 5K, please contact Danny Whiteside on 01727 734497 or email

THE NEW HERTFORDSHIRE ENTERPRISE ACADEMY OPENS ITS DOORS TO BUDDING LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS The new Hertfordshire Enterprise Academy (HEA), based at BioPark in Welwyn Garden City, was officially opened by Robert Gordon, DL, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council on 19th October 2010. The Academy aims to help Hertfordshire residents to start their own businesses. It will equip people from across the county with confidence, skills and choices for employment and entrepreneurship by providing business support and personal development. It is specifically targeted at people for whom setting up a business presents a particular challenge and, as such, the Academy offers much more than just business support. With the Academy being specifically targeted at people who would not usually use business support, additional services and assistance are also provided to help them to overcome personal and practical barriers. “We know that small businesses will play a key role in leading our economic recovery so we want to play to our strengths and encourage more people to start new businesses – and look on it as a viable and achievable career choice,” said Cllr Gordon . “Starting up a business presents a challenge for anyone, but for some there are even more barriers. Cultural, social, economic and financial factors can all play a part in preventing some individuals from achieving their potential. Hertfordshire is a county of opportunity and we want all our residents to benefit. The HEA has been set up to broaden participation among Hertfordshire’s residents, and provide opportunity for a great many people.”

St SCHOOL St ALBANS ALBANS SCHOOL HMC HMCDay DaySchool School 780 780pupils pupils Headmaster: Headmaster:Andrew AndrewGrant GrantMA MA ENTRY ENTRYFOR FORBOYS BOYSatat11 11and and13 13 ENTRY ENTRYFOR FORBOYS BOYSand andGIRLS GIRLSatat16+ 16+

the the first first School School in in Hertfordshire Hertfordshire

••89% 89%AAand andBBatatAAlevel level ••82% 82%A* A*and andAAatatGCSE GCSE ••Coach Coachservices servicesatat4pm 4pmand and6pm 6pm ••Finest Finestgames gamesfacilities facilitiesininthe thecounty county ••Extensive Extensiveextra-curricular extra-curricularactivities activities ••Bursaries Bursariesand andScholarships Scholarships(up (upto to100%) 100%)awarded awardedatateach eachentry entrylevel level Next NextOpen OpenMornings: Mornings:13 13November Novemberand4 and4December December Contact Contactthe theAdmissions AdmissionsOfficer Officerfor fordetails details




Admissions AdmissionsOfficer, Officer,St StAlbans AlbansSchool, School, Abbey AbbeyGateway, Gateway,St StAlbans, Albans,Herts HertsAL3 AL34HB 4HB Telephone Telephone: :01727 01727855521 855521 email:

Knowledge is power. And with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, you can grow your business with the powerful support of a leading UK university. Part-funded KTPs are an easy and cost-effective way for you to access the latest research, technologies and expertise of the University of Hertfordshire.

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This concept aims to ensure that students graduating from NHC will have the competencies, capabilities, cognitive abilities and interpersonal skills to work and contribute to the economy and society.”

In another venture students are taking part in a series of enterprise days which include ‘Dragons’ Den’-style competitions. NHC invites local business people to act as judges and the winning teams will be supported to develop their ideas into real business opportunities in its newly created ‘Enterprise Centre’ at Hitchin. NHC would be delighted to speak to any organisations that would be interested in this new way of working or developing a partnership with the college. Please contact Hazel Lodge, Director of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, on 01462 650264, or email:

Change the way you do business


Under the supervision of Steve Deverick, the MD of Euroshine, 25 students have been trained to a professional level and will run the business on a day to day basis. Shine is open to the public and will give students the opportunity to earn money and gain crucial employability skills alongside their chosen college programme.

NHC’s Principal, Fintan Donohue, is at the forefront on this new initiative for the college to include an entrepreneurial outlook in curriculum development. He explains: “At NHC we focus on more than imparting knowledge and passing exams. We aim to help our students to reach their full potential, including developing the concept of the ‘entrepreneurial student’.


North Hertfordshire College has created a new commercial venture that marks a new direction for the college. ‘Shine’ NHC Valeting Centre at the college’s Hitchin site opened for business on November 1st and is the first of many planned partnerships with local businesses designed to develop enterprise and employability skills for its students.


Robert Roope the opticians Shop has been in St. Albans since 1979. It’s founder Mr Robert Roope is a dispensing optician, who worked for various frame and lens manuf acturers worldwide before opening the shop in George Street. We find out how his love for Vintage frames has gained a worldwide following and what Stanley Kubrick was like as a customer! Robert started life as a dispensing optician at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Selfridges in the 1960s. He honed his craft as a lens maker in Singapore in the 1970s, returning to the UK to manage J&R Fleming optical factory in London. In 1979 he opened his own dispensing opticians in St. Albans. His interest in collecting unusual and vintage Eyewear prompted him to create in 1999, one of the first websites, selling glasses and sunglasses online. started out as an online outlet for the sale of a large private collection of vintage eyewear. This collection has been gathered from all over Europe over the last 30 years. The idea was not only to sell these glasses online but to help search for new vintage models worldwide. The customers’ interest in vintage and reproduction frames increased year on year and soon the online business was supplying frames worldwide. “A lot of our vintage frames in the Retro section are genuine vintage. They are unworn and in pristine condition and can be fitted with your prescription if required. Other frames are reproductions of vintage designs,” explains Robert. Robert is an avid jazz fan and was inspired by the glasses styles worn by jazz greats like John Coltranes and Theolonius Monk. So in 2005, Robert launched Black Eyewear, his own brand of Glasses and sunglasses based on original 40s, 50s and 60s designs. Now Black Eye

wear is an impressive collection of over 50 Models of glasses and sunglasses, which are all, named after the jazz legends of the golden era. Black Eyewear is becoming increasingly popular as it is in tune with all vintage becoming very fashionable. “Fashion nowadays is no longer what’s “in” but what suits your style,” reveals Robert who is regularly approached by glossy magazines like Look and Grazia to supply his frames for fashion shoots. Theatre production and film costume departments are also amongst our clients. Even the wax Whoopi Goldberg at London’s Madame Taussauds is wearing one of Robert’s Designs! This is no specialist fad either as Robert’s vintage eyewear now accounts for 70 per cent of his business, the rest of which is devoted to selling more conventional contemporary frames. And the trend for vintage frames is spreading – the biggest seller to ladies is a cat’s eye, or upswept frame, the sort of glasses you would expect a secretary to be wearing in a 1950s Hollywood film. Meanwhile the most popular style for men is the two-tone black and grey style favoured by popular comedian Mr. Harry Hill. The orders continue…an actor playing Eric Morecambe was supplied with two pairs of vintage spectacles, representing the two optical phases of his career. A recent production of The Birthday Party required the cast to wear the same kind of glasses that Harold Pinter wore in the 1950s. Retrospecs was happy to oblige. In fact, one of Robert’s customers in the 1970s was Stanley Kubrick, who used to sit in his car and send his driver to collect his repaired glasses (he favoured plain round gold-rimmed spectacles), but would often call the optician from the car to quibble over a charge as low as £12.50. Robert is excited by these new challenges but still loves spending time in the little cosy shop in George Street, where he loves to look after his loyal customers. “The glasses here on sale are quite different from the High Street opticians,” says Robert. “We have to be unique to stand out and enjoy supplying frames to overjoyed customers, who were looking for the “right pair” for years and were finally able to find it here.” For more information visit 20 George St., St. Albans AL3 4ES 01727 857798

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LESLEY HITS THE RIGHT NOTE FOR 30TH ANNIVERSARY Lesley Garrett, Britain’s most popular soprano will be playing a one-off show to celebrate her 30th Anniversary in the music business. Her recital evening of songs and arias from the well known operas, musicals and popular music will be held at The Grove Theatre on Sunday 21st November. Lesley will be accompanied by pianist Andrew West and joined by baritone Geoffrey Dolton; the stunning programme will include music by composers Mozart, Vivaldi, Vaughan Williams, Porter, Berlin and Rodgers & Hammerstein. Lesley has had a busy 2010 and she recently starred in ‘Carousel’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ in the West End and has just been involved in the launch of the new Cunard “Queen Elizabeth” liner which she is very excited about. She has also recorded a CD called “Amazing Grace” but her burning desire is to record a Doris Day album and play in ‘The King and I’. Her TV appearences include Strictly Come Dancing, Comic Relief Does Fame Academy and she is a regular on ITV’s Loose Women as well as having the highest rated BBC2 Saturday night show. Pictures courtesy of Simon Fowler/Decca Records

The Langley

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SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS The UK’s longest running panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs opens on Saturday 27th November at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. The lead is played by Hertfordshire’s own Katie Rowley-Jones who comes to Stevenage after her appearance as Sister Mary Robert in Sister Act at the London Palladium which she has been in since the beginning. Katie is very excited about returning to the local stage as she was a member of the Letchworth Arcadians and this was where she started. This will be her 4th panto and her motto for life is “Do it, If you can.“ Co-starring as the Wicked Queen is Sue Holderness, known to millions of television viewers as Marlene in Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass. Although she has been an actress for 40 years she is as passionate about acting as she was then. She loves playing the villainous roles and is using her mothers Sister as her inspiration for the role of course with a bit of herself and Marlene thrown in for good measure. Also in the cast and back by popular demand is everyone’s and Stevenage’s favourite Dame, Paul Laidlaw. Since he was first cast as Widow Twankey in Aladdin his stylish, witty and loveable Dame has become something of a Christmas institution at the Gordon Craig and he is now in his 17th year in Panto. Daniel Boys, who beat thousands of hopefuls to get through to the televised finals of the BBC’s Any Dream Will Do and has since appeared with John Barrowman on his National Tour, Music, Music, Music and been awarded the 2009 Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role for his portrayal of Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q, plays Prince Simon of Sofaria, the handsome prince in search of the ‘fairest of them all’. With a top class cast, this brand new production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tells the classic tale in true Pantomime style with slapstick fun, magical effects and stunning costumes.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from Saturday 27 Nov 2010 – Sunday 23 Jan 2011. Tickets are now available from The Gordon Craig Theatre by calling 01438 363200 OR ONLINE AT WWW.GORDON-CRAIG.CO.UK


KEEPS UP RETAIL PRESSURE ONE YEAR ON FROM THE PEAK OF THE GOVERNMENT’S SCRAPPAGE SCHEME TENKOREAN TIPS TOCAR GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS (PARTRETAIL ONE) AND FIRM, KIAREFERRAL IS KEEPING UP ITS MOMENTUM AMONGST CUSTOMERS. After the healthy September new car market, Kia has sold a total of 47,523 cars this year compared to 34,777 at this point in 2009 – a massive 36.6 per cent increase. And retail sales for the year to the end of September total 34,054 – up almost 35 per cent compared to the same period last year when a total of 25,283 units had been sold. Although Kia’s sales figures for September alone are down compared to the month in 2009 at a still very healthy 8,257 overall (including 5,104 retail units) – when scrappage sales in last year’s performance are removed Kia’s performance is even more impressive. Non-scrappage retail sales in September 2009 totalled 2713 units whilst non-scrappage sales were 4612. Michael Cole, Managing Director of Kia Motors (UK) Ltd has commented that the performance over the year has been outstanding and the underlying trend amongst retail customers remains extremely positive. “Of course our September figures appear to be down but only because we are comparing a normal September to one buoyed by scrappage last year when we recorded our best ever one-month total of 9,778. The reality is that Kia is continuing to grow strongly amongst retail customers thanks to our excellent new product and simple to understand seven year warranty”.

“Our year-to-date performance shows we are on track to achieve an outstanding year for the brand in 2010 and that is reflected by the fact that our total market share for the year has grown from 2.29 per cent to 2.91 per cent and amongst retail customers we now command a 4.34 per cent market share,” he added. Due in part to the success of the scrappage scheme, the UK has become the Korean firm’s biggest European market. Paul Philpott, chief operating officer at Kia Motors Europe believes that the key driver to future growth lies within the cars design. “With the new products that we are now bringing to the market, the product design is coming together as one family,” he says. “In the last four months we’ve launched four new cars that are changing the perception of Kia design. By 2012, the Soul will be our oldest model, and that was only launched in 2009,” says Mr Philpott. Through the first seven months of 2010, Kia’s global sales year-on-year increased by 32.8 per cent reaching 1,185,654 units with a 25.2 per cent increase in sales in Europe. In terms of the European car market, Kia has already gained around 1.8 per cent of the market share, with much of the success attributed to the Ceed model it launched in 2007. The Ceed, which was promoted with the help of a seven-year warranty, has gained a 3 per cent share of the so-called C-segment, in which it goes head-to-head with the likes of Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.


Mr Philpott believes the Ceed’s market share could be echoed across the board once its new models come on stream. To add to their current growth, Kia aims to raise its market share in Europe as a whole to 3 per cent by 2015. Analysts say that Kia’s warranty programme will help their growth and raise their popularity. Also, to build upon their previous and current successes, Kia is getting cleaner and greener in 2011 by launching two new models that will have CO2 emissions at less than 100g/km, while the Ceed will also gain a sub-100g/km version. The next generation Picanto, due next year with both three-door and five-door versions, will have a model emitting just 95g/km. Meanwhile the next-generation Rio model will be available with a new diesel engine with CO2 emissions expected to be 85g/km.


Kia is also planning to downsize its engine range, with more powerful and efficient diesel engines starting with the new 1.7 CRDi about to be launched in the Sportage alongside a 1.6 GDi direct injection petrol engine. More small petrol engines using turbochargers to reach the power outputs provided by today’s normally aspirated engines, but with lower CO2 emissions will follow.



Those who know me well know that I like to swim to keep fit. Where possible I try to swim up to five times a week. I attend a health club close to where I live and the pool is based in a beautiful stately home with an 18 hole golf course in the grounds. It’s an idyllic setting, somewhere you think people would be proud to be a member. The Health Club, like many, is having a push for new One-stop entertainment service! members. Over the years they have offered various incentives to their existing members to refer them. These have ranged from free periods of membership and perks for their guests to iPods or pure cash incentives.

Few seem to have worked. At the moment they have resorted to direct mail to local households and people on their mailing list, offering free periods of membership and waiving registration fees to encourage people to join. When many businesses recognise that referrals from existing clients are the most effective source of new business, why is it that their efforts are failing so visibly? This weekend might provide a clue. I went along for a swim on both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately there was a problem with the boiler and the pool water was much colder than usual. Suffice it to say, I had a couple of ‘refreshing’ swims! No problem with that you may think. After all, such things are bound to happen and they did post signs clearly stating, and apologising for, the problem. The trouble is, it wasn’t an isolated problem. Two weeks ago the showers didn’t work. Before that the spa wasn’t working, the sauna was out of action, the steam room was shut..... You probably get the picture. On top of all of these malfunctions, the clock by the pool has been five minutes slow.....for at least three years. For a long time the clock outside the changing rooms had stopped, frequently the showers lack gel, the hand towel holder is empty. The majority of lockers don’t have keys. All of these are tiny issues on their own, but add up to give a picture of a company that shows no care, and doesn’t look after their customers. Over my two visits at the weekend, I was party to four different conversations between Members criticising the way the Club is run. I hasten to say I didn’t start any of them!

If you want people to refer you, you need to give them something positive to talk about. Something so good, it gives them a story. You need to substantially exceed their expectations. You can start by getting the simple things right. If you fail their expectations at all, they’ll be talking about you anyway, and not just among themselves. It just won’t be what you’d want to hear.

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’. For more information visit




If you don’t look after your customers, how can you possibly expect them to refer you? People are far more likely to spread bad news than good and it’s more likely that they’ll tell people how you’re managing to get things wrong than refer you just to get an iPod.


ON 16TH SEPTEMBER 2010, THE DIRECTORS OF DIGITAL STUDIO ATTENDED THE UK PRINT AWARDS, RUN BY WHITMAR PUBLICATIONS, THE AWARDS ARE OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE PIPA’S (PEOPLE IN PRINT AWARDS 2010). They were invited to attend the awards as they were nominated for the Digital Print Category as they won in 2009, but instead this was a disguised invitation from the organisers in an attempt to ensure that they attended the event. The reason for this became evident at the end of the award ceremony when Susan Wright the event organiser and Editor of Print & Paper Monthly, came to the stage to announce that this year the overall award was to be given to a ’young, fearless, innovative and environmentally aware business who she felt would become the future of the printing industry’. That business was Digital Studio who were then named UK Print Company of the Year. Managing Director, Paul Warren explains how much this meant to him and his team; ‘’we started out in business only 23 months ago, we have had extremely hard times, but along the way have stuck to our environmental principles when many would have changed, our small passionate team of hard working guys are the reason that we have been recognised, our company has an average age of only 25 years old, but what people may think we lack in experience we make up for in passion to help our clients and go that extra mile”. Paul then went on to explain why he feels that his business has become recognised for their innovations: ‘’We have been forced to be innovative and creative in our technological applications of such processes at Cross-Media and PURL systems to aid clients Direct Mail campaigns. Perhaps we are young and fearless, but without the money to invest in leading technologies we have been forced to innovate and be creative with all that we have.’’ Digital Studio are one of the UK’s leading Environmentally Aware Print Companies who have a simple policy of only printing using organically grown inks onto 100% recycled paper. They also state that they are competitive in the marketplace even when offering this unique service and promise to match like for like quotation for any services. Please visit for more details. Or visit their new Promotional Calendar website as below



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