Business Direction 61

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Business Direction


Looking To Maximise Value When You Sell Your Business? Expert Exit Planning & Transaction Support

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As we continue on the journey out of lockdown, the summer months provide businesses with optimism and increased confidence. A large number of businesses have reopened and welcomed customers back into their stores and gardens in the case of hospitality venues in April, allowing businesses to gain a much-needed cash injection and hope to keep them going through the summer months and beyond.


Issue 61 May/June 2021


Business Direction, Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce’s full colour bi-monthly publication. Designed and produced by business people for business people. Distributed to 4,000 businesses. Please send all submissions to


Rahim Bas 01905 673 639


Presidents Column


Business News


Policy News 11 14 18

Worcestershire Works Well


The report revealed that businesses faced another difficult quarter as sales and orders weakened however there was a sense of hope among businesses that the roadmap out of lockdown and the success of the vaccine rollout would see an increases in confidence levels going into the summer. To view the full report please visit QES_Q1-2021-PROOF4.pdf.

Big Interview






Two Counties


Business News


Movers and Shakers


Other exciting news includes the return of the Chamber Business Awards for 2021, sponsored by Folk2Folk. Entries are now open, and businesses are encouraged to enter as many categories as they wish. Businesses across Herefordshire and Worcestershire will not want to miss the opportunity to spotlight their business and stand out from their competition with the chance to win a Chamber Business Award for free.

Angie Smith Business Development Manager, Distinctive Group 0191 5805472

The event will be a celebration of businesses achievements and mark a return to physical events. As companies begin to re-build it has never been more important to set yourself apart from the competition and stand out to your customers.


To enter into any of the 15 categories available, please visit www.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for omissions or errors within this publication. Editorial submissions are included at the discretion of the editor. The opinions expressed in articles and letters within this publication are not necessarily those of the Chamber. All offers, promotions and competitions appearing in Business Direction are the sole responsibility of the advertiser/ promoting party and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce does not accept any responsibility for any representations made within them.



The awards will culminate with the in-person black-tie ceremony to be held at the Worcester Arena on Thursday 2 September, in line with government guidelines.

Helen Compson

Chamber News

Business News




The recent weeks have also seen the release of the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Indicator for quarter 1 2021, outlining business performance. The report conclusions are taken from around 500 responses from businesses across the two counties and is the most up to date local economic outlook report available, providing a snapshot of the current business environment.

After the past 12 months that businesses have endured it has never been more important to showcase your successes and celebrate with your staff and customers what your organisation has achieved over the past year.

Distinctive Publishing, 3rd Floor, Tru Knit House, 9-11 Carliol Square, Newcastle, NE1 6UF

First Word

This edition of Business Direction contains the theme of People and their contribution to business success. After the last 12 months, the spotlight on employee wellbeing has never been brighter. Many businesses have welcomed the opportunity to readdress their strategies and policy to adjust to greater flexibilities and a greater focus on employee well-being.

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Business News 24-25

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As we look to the future and returning to a sense of normality, I strongly hope that businesses remain focused and continue to look for ways to monitor and improve employee wellbeing. Throughout 2021 and beyond, the Chamber will continue to support local businesses as they recover and grow, create jobs and positively contribute to society and the economy. Best wishes Sharon


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May/June 2021

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



CHAMBER APPOINTS ARMED FORCES CHAMPION As part of their commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant – a document acknowledging commitment to the ongoing support of anyone involved with the Armed Forces Communities - the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the appointment of a new Armed Forces Champion, Lauren Ashford. Lauren will be the main point of contact for anyone wishing to discuss the Armed Forces Covenant as well as organising a number of fundraising campaigns and ensuring that Chamber staff and Members have an understanding of the covenant, encouraging Member businesses to sign up too.

our two counties, and we want to ensure that they feel fully integrated into a civilian working environment without fear of prejudice or discrimination.” Director of HR, Dawn Hardman, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Lauren in her ambassadorial role and further enhancing our working practices to reflect the valuable contribution our Armed Forces make to our community.” If you would like to find out more about signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant, you can contact Lauren directly via or visit

The Worcestershire Ambassadors Walk the Walk 2021 campaign is all about encouraging and supporting good mental health and well-being. They would like as many people as possible to join in recording the distance they walk/run as they collectively try to reach the Moon.

On her new position, Lauren said: “I am delighted to act as Armed Forces Champion for Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. We value everyone associated with our Armed Forces Community and will strive to offer the support and recognition they deserve. The Armed Forces and their families are a very welcome addition to

CHAMBER WELCOMES NEW CHAIR OF HEREFORDSHIRE AREA COUNCIL On 26 March, a new Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Herefordshire Area Council was appointed. Mark Smith, Relationship Director at Lloyds Bank, took up the post, securing him a position onto the Chamber’s Board of Directors and will also be next in line for the role of the President of the Chamber, in September 2022, following in the footsteps of current President, Ben Mannion of Hewett Recruitment. The Chamber works closely with businesses across all sizes and sectors to ensure that business views are represented to key local and national decision makers. To ensure every sector is represented the Chamber hosts two Area Councils, one in Worcestershire and one in Herefordshire. Sharon Smith, Chief Executive at the Chamber, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Mark Smith as Chair of the Herefordshire Area Council and look forward to working more closely with him. “Mark has been a huge supporter of the Chamber over many years and his guidance and insight has been extremely valuable.



New Herefordshire Area Council Chair, Mark Smith

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Alison Holmes for all of her previous hard work as Chair of the Herefordshire Area Council, Alison has been an integral part in the Chamber’s key policy decisions and support for businesses across Herefordshire.” To find out how to get in touch with your representatives to share concerns, trends and opportunities from your sector, please visit about-us/your-sector-representatives.

Off of the back of this year, the Worcestershire Ambassadors want to do their part to help everyone in Worcestershire to build their resilience, protect their well-being, and to be able to ask for help when they need it. The 2021 ‘Walk the Walk’ campaign is designed to encourage individuals to enjoy gentle exercise, to take time with their friends, family and colleagues, to talk to each other, and to feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Of those already taking part include Robert Elliot, Direction of Business Development and Engagement at the Chamber, on taking on the challange, Robert said: “For my family, and many friends in recent times, there have been stressful periods. I find great benefit in walking. Not only does it clear my head, it reminds my legs to move after another long day on Zoom and Teams! Bailey, my loyal Cocker Spaniel leads the way and together we hope by taking part in Worcestershire Ambassadors Walk the Walk Campaign we can help raise funds that will make a difference in the treatment of mental health.” Robert is hoping to raise money and contribute even more miles to the overall goal and help reach the target donations of £20,000 which will be invested in Worcestershire to support mental health and wellbeing programmes and services. To donate please visit www.gofundme. com/f/worcestershire-ambassadorswalk-the-walk. Businesses and individuals can still sign up for the 2021 ‘Walk the Walk campaign, for more information please visit walkthewalk2021-2.

May/June 2021


CHAMBER PRESIDENT’S COLUMN During September last year it was announced that Ben Mannion, Director at Hewett Recruitment, would be inheriting the title of President at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. As part of his presidency, the Chamber are delighted to introduce readers to the brand new Presidents Column feature, where Ben will discuss each edition’s theme and offer valuable insight. Our people are our single most important resource in our businesses. Whether you are the likes of Tesco – with over 300,000 employees – or 2 mates working from home on a start-up idea, this common thread remains… we are nothing without our people. The last 12 months have brought into sharp focus the need to keep staff members engaged and the importance of supporting their physical and mental health. Covid-19 really did rip up the rulebook on how business leaders interact with and inspire their workforce and ultimately this has led to a better appreciation of the “person” behind the “employee”. The truth is, whilst flexible / remote working, employee well-being and staff engagement have been on the agenda for some time, not many businesses had truly embraced them and looked to affect practical change.

platforms and software applications. In particular, many businesses have benefited from normally introverted employees being able to share their ideas via online tools, rather than being reluctant to comment in a physical meeting that would usually be led by the extroverts in the business. Whichever way you look at it, it is fair to say that many businesses would not have survived without the IT required being so readily available.

The impact of Covid-19 forced their hand. The MD who didn’t like the idea of home working because they “couldn’t see what they were doing” suddenly had to put their faith in those people to deliver what they said they would. The simple question “how are you doing?” became something that meant far more than it used to (often nothing to do with work) as we learned to support each other through the shared experience of lockdown, whatever our level in the business. Technology has, of course, been key through this transition. It has facilitated communication and collaboration through a myriad of video

Technology will only get you so far though. What has been most brilliant to see throughout this tumultuous period is the resilience and ingenuity of people. Whilst tech acts as a facilitator, the real innovation has come from people. A great example of this is how many employees have taken it upon themselves to organise virtual meetups to check in with each other and share ideas and updates… although my personal favourite is the German café that asked customers to wear “pool noodles” on their heads to ensure social distancing!

The last 12 months have brought into sharp focus the need to keep staff members engaged and the importance of supporting their physical and mental health. Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

Looking ahead, some of the same old challenges remain. An ageing workforce, skills shortages in key industry sectors and a lack of succession planning all stack up as potential dangers for the modern British business. With this in mind, it is very important we don’t lose sight of longterm priorities as we continue to work our way out of the economic fallout of the pandemic. It is vital that business leaders now start to address some of these issues and help is at hand to do so through a number of schemes being delivered by the Chamber and Local Enterprise Partnerships. I, for one, feel very positive about how we can meet these challenges head on and build upon some of the great work that is already taking place locally. If the last 12 months has taught us anything, it is that at the heart of our businesses are great people… people who will go the extra mile… people who have a hitherto unknown inner steel… people who come up with great ideas and finally have the chance to share them… people who care about their colleagues and will rally round to support them through tough times. This is without doubt something we should embrace as we move through the coming months and years. There will be more challenges, we are not truly through this one quite yet, but our people can help us rise out these storms and ultimately become better businesses, built not just for the here and now but for the future.




Ian Smith, Chair of Bishop Fleming

TACKLING EMPLOYEE WELLBEING DURING THE PANDEMIC Bishop Fleming’s employee-led Wellbeing programme started in 2018 and resulted in them winning the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Company of the Year Award in 2019, which stood them in good stead for the trials of Covid-19. In particular, their mental health support, with trained Mental Health First Aiders in all of their seven offices, has been vital, as have a variety of virtual social events.

Worcestershire digital agency IceBlue is taking part in a virtual challenge to travel 4,667 miles from IceBlue’s offices in Kidderminster to Microsoft Headquarters in Seattle. Each mile earned translates into a financial donation from IceBlue to its chosen charities – The Brooke Hospital for Animals, and Cancer Research UK. Lindsey Faulkner, HR Manager at IceBlue, said: “What we loved about the WellGiving platform is that it is truly inclusive so every member of the team can get involved in an activity they enjoy. Not everyone enjoys running or cycling but WellGiving uses minutes of exercise completed – rather than a specific activity – to convert into points which, in turn, get converted into pounds. This way everyone can play their part while taking part in an activity they enjoy.”

the wellbeing and mental health of employees through increased altruistic physical activity. It connects with existing smart devices and wearable technology to make it easy for everyone to take part. The team has got off to a flying start, travelling a virtual 764.23 miles since the challenge began on 4 February.

The WellGiving app was developed to encourage people to be more active by ‘training for good’, improving

However, they have found every person’s challenges have been different. For example, carers coping without external support; parents juggling childcare; or trainees studying and working in living accommodation not always suited to it. Thankfully even before the pandemic, Bishop Fleming had made steps to have open discussions about those challenges both internally and externally (when people felt comfortable doing so) on social media. Ian Smith, Chair of Bishop Fleming, said: “By leading by example and being open about reducing my hours for my wellbeing with caring duties has been quoted by our people and has given them the confidence to have these conversations of their own.” Bishop Fleming have successfully onboarded over 70 new employees of all levels from apprentice trainees to new partners during the pandemic. They are all now looking forward to spending some physical time with each other and enjoying the collaboration and innovation that is constrained in the world of video calls.


GJS DILLON CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY Leading Worcestershire commercial property consultancy GJS Dillon has marked its 10th anniversary by releasing a video animation highlighting the key milestones in its first 10 years. In the last decade, GJS Dillon has won 8 top industry awards, helped over 3,500 business move into commercial premises, carried out £1.5 billion worth of RICS Red Book professional property valuations and now asset manages 3 business parks, 135 commercial premises and 2 neighbourhood shopping centres. Its original remit of sales, lettings and acquisitions has now expanded to include valuations and professional services, property asset management, building

surveying and, more recently, residential surveys and valuations. John Dillon, GJS Dillon’s Managing Director, says: “In these uncertain times, it’s good to be able to take a step back and reflect on what has been a memorable and fantastic 10 years. We’d like to thank everyone who has been part of our journey and look forward to the next decade and beyond.” The GJS Dillon 10th anniversary video animation can be found on YouTube by scanning the following QR code.

May/June 2021

For you and your business CHECKING WHETHER ‘THE PRICE IS RIGHT’ WHEN BUYING OR SELLING A BUSINESS ‘The Price Is Right’ might be a clichéd game show title, but it’s a fundamental point to get clear from the outset of negotiations for anyone buying or selling a business. As deals activity has bucked the Covid crisis and continued to flourish, with many potential buyers and sellers considering their options, Fiona Boxwell, associate director in the Corporate team at Thursfields said: “When businesses are being bought and sold, everyone’s focus is ultimately on achieving the best deal for them but agreeing terms to buy or sell a business is not always as clear cut as it may at first appear.” “Often the negotiating parties will agree a headline price with very little detail as to what this includes or what it is based on, and this is particularly an issue if you are buying or selling a limited company. “Our experience shows that flushing out the detail of the deal terms as early as possible will ultimately save our clients time and cost and avoid misunderstandings occurring as the deal progresses.” Fiona explains some phrases and concepts to be aware of to ensure both buyer and seller are on the same page.

1. IS THE DEAL PRICE FIXED? Often the deal price first stated is a headline starting point and not the actual cash price the seller ultimately receives, the headline price is often accompanied by the phrase “cash free/debt free”.

This can mean that the buyer will require various deductions to be made, such as bank loans or overdrafts outstanding at completion. Or a seller may have large cash reserves in the business and will expect this cash in addition to the headline deal price. To avoid misunderstandings, state explicitly what you consider to be included and excluded from the deal price quoted so that expectations are clear from the outset.

2. WHAT’S THE PRICE BASED ON? Is the headline price based on the assumption that at completion the net asset position of the business will be no worse than set out in the last set of full accounts provided to the buyer prior to it making its offer? Or, does the buyer require a specific minimum net asset target to be achieved at completion? If so, make that target amount clear and state also whether there is an expectation of a minimum amount of cash being left in the company.

3. WHAT ARE ‘COMPLETION ACCOUNTS’? The practicalities of how a final adjusted price is established should be discussed at the same time as agreeing the price. It can often be a requirement that ‘completion accounts’ are drawn up to establish any price adjustments to be required to reflect apportioning of pre-completion income and expenditure. These are accounts drawn up to the date of completion as though that date were the business year end.

Fiona Boxwell

They seek to be as accurate as possible about apportioning income and expenditure to the period pre-completion, and enable a level of accuracy to be achieved in finalising the price payable. Fiona added: “A deal will always progress more smoothly if all the above issues on are the table from the outset of negotiations. “We have the specialist skills and experience to guide you through the entire process of buying or selling your business, from the point of initial negotiations to final completion. “We always look to ensure that as far as possible the deal you agreed is the deal you get.” Anyone with queries on buying or selling businesses can contact Fiona Boxwell on 0345 20 73 72 8 or

Tel: 0345 20 73 72 8 | | S O L I H U L L | B I R M I N G H A M | WO RC E S T ER | K I D D ER M I N S T ER | H A L E S OW EN


Help or Hinderance? Re-assessing your IT support Love it or hate it, technology is the backbone to your business. Ask yourself where you would have been the past year without it? IT and technology has fast become one of, if not the most important element to your business, ensuring your processes, services and data are readily available at all times. But what happens if something stops working? We’re not just talking about major downtime and system errors here, it could be as simple as a password reset, a corrupt file or software update.

and tech ‘know-how’. It’s a lot of to ask of a small IT team to meet everyone’s needs effectively, particularly if they’re relying on inflexible remote support tools.

This would be challenging enough without the added pressures brought about by Covid-19 and remote working. But what are the challenges that businesses are now facing, and where does your current IT support sit within this?

IT SUPPORT CHALLENGES: 1. Pre-covid, IT issues may simply have been dealt with on-site by a small internal IT team, or even a colleague who’s a ‘bit techy’. But as a majority of businesses look to continue with remote practises, frustrations will quickly rise if IT personnel aren’t able to quickly and efficiently respond to an issue remotely, sending a

3. Think of where you were 10 years ago, and the differences to both your business and technology. If your current IT support is just about seeing you through, you can guarantee this won’t be for much longer. Digital transformation is developing faster than ever before, and with it the technology to push businesses forward. With so many aspects of business now going digital it’s understandable that your internal IT team won’t have all the expertise and resources to manage all of the technology needed.


ripple effect throughout the business.

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2. I think we’ve all learnt the hard way that a pandemic leaves little time to

technology, Managed IT Support is a cost effective and pro-active alternative to your limited in-house resources. Instead

implement carefully thought, tried and tested technology. Most business will now find their employees are using a variety of platforms, programmes and devices, each with their own unique set of challenges

of a traditional break-fix model that some external IT providers offer, Managed IT Support offers a much more robust and purse friendly solution that is usually delivered as a fixed monthly fee – so no

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more unwanted surprises. Managed IT Support provides direct access to a helpdesk, that is managed by a team of ‘tech experts’ who will get to know your systems inside out. State-of-the-art remote access means IT technicians can directly connect to your devices and network, no matter your location, dealing with issues quickly and effectively. What’s more, automation tools will provide on-going monitoring and management of your servers and systems, performing automated health checks and patching, and best of all fixing issues before you’re even aware. As a leading provider of IT Support, EBC Group recommends businesses use this time to evaluate their current IT support with our their free IT Audit, which provides a clear overview of your current systems and solutions, whilst highlighting any recommendations that will support your IT and technology moving forward. For more information on EBC Group’s IT Support solutions, contact; hello@ or 0121 3680187. Or to register for your free IT Audit visit it-audit.


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May/June 2021


THE CHALLENGE OF ATTRACTING SKILLED WORKERS Attracting skilled workers is always a difficult process for companies across all sectors and industries. With events such as Covid and EU Exit trying to find the right candidate has been no easy ride. In the Chamber Business Manifesto 2021-2022, 25% of businesses said that attracting and retaining appropriately skilled workers in their business was a key barrier to growth. Businesses always enter the labour market with the view of hiring the best candidate for the job, however with changes to the immigration system and restricted international travel, difficulties recruiting are more common in certain sectors. The Chamber’s Employment Report 2020-2021 revealed the extent of the effect that these external factors are having on specific sectors of the labour market; 22% of businesses had difficulties recruiting for technology and IT roles, 16% for manufacturing roles and 14% for engineering roles.

COVID IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the employment market. Since February 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 726,000. The pandemic continues to have a major effect on the employment market with the Office for Budget Responsibility expecting 2.2 million people to be unemployed at the end of the year, or 6.5% of all workers. (Unemployment rate: How many people are out of work?, 2021). Government have introduced a number of schemes to help soften the impact of the pandemic on the labour market including the Kickstart Scheme which

helps provide funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The pandemic has impacted the younger generation more considerably with 287,000 fewer 18-24 year olds on payroll from last year. The Kickstart Scheme will help equip young people with the skills and workplace experience to improve their future long-term work prospects.

NEW IMMIGRATION POINTS SYSTEM FOR SKILLED WORKERS Following the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on December 24 2020, the UK set out its rules for a points-based immigration system designed to attract the best talent and fill employment gaps within sectors such as engineering, technology and financial services. The new system will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and only give visas to those who have sufficient points. It came into force from January 1 2021 and looks to provide a balance to EU and non-EU citizens equally. A points-based style is very similar to the Australian model which

The Kickstart Scheme will help equip young people with the skills and workplace experience to improve their future longterm work prospects. Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

focuses on attracting the best talent and how the individual is likely to contribute to modern day society.

HOW WILL IN DEMAND SKILLS CHANGE AS DIGITALISATION AND AUTOMATION ARE ADOPTED The Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Report for Q1 2021 looks in detail at digitalisation and automation. The report found that 62% of Worcestershire businesses will need more digital marketing skills as they increase automation, 60% will need more data analysis skills and 59% will need more programming and software development skills. As technology evolves not only will digital skills be more in demand but so will workers who are adaptable and resilient. Recent UCAS figures released this year show a 400% increase in students enrolled on Artificial Intelligence courses aimed at helping to fill the gap in sectors utilising digitalisation and automation. (UCAS figures show 400% increase in students enrolled on AI courses, 2021). The employment market has been severely affected by the events of Covid and Brexit, however it is the hope that government initiatives such as the Apprenticeship and Kickstart Scheme will reduce youth unemployment and help the labour market recover as quickly as possible. The pointsbased immigration system aims to help attract the best talent from around the world, to boost the UK economy and help the UK become world leading in sectors such as medical research, manufacturing, technology and engineering.



VIRTUAL T PARTY SUCCESS FOR COLLEGE GROUP In March, leading college group WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) held their first-ever employer Virtual T Party - an online webinar about the upcoming Digital T Levels. Digital T Levels at WCG are due to begin in September 2021 and are set to bring about the biggest change to technical training in a generation. T Levels are new courses which will follow GCSEs and will be equivalent to 3 A Levels. These 2-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work. WCG’s T Party webinar was joined by a multitude of Herefordshire and Worcestershire-based businesses, with some now offering T Level placements to students after hearing how they can benefit from them. For those that were unable to attend the webinar, WCG have made the Virtual T Party presentation available on their webpage,

On this webpage, businesses can also find out information on T Levels and their benefits, including: Extra support with current projects. A solution for entry level jobs. Cost-effective channel for recruitment. Developing young people into industry, enhancing brand image and profile. Better management and development of mentoring skills. Placement students offering fresh perspectives in the working environment. Becoming ambassadors of the College and having your brand name promoted at related WCG events.

Opportunities to become guest speakers at related WCG events. Steve Ellis, head of WCG’s Business and Digital Technology department, said: “Employers should see these new qualifications as a way of bringing talented young people into their business to assess them as a potential employee, as well as benefiting from new ideas that they could bring to help them grow their business.” For more information on T Levels, contact WCG's Business Development Team: E: T: 0330 135 6940

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES EXTENDED AND EXPANDED APPRENTICESHIP INCENTIVE SCHEME He said: “Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way of supporting your existing workforce and taking on an apprentice brings huge long-term return on investment.

The region’s largest apprenticeship training provider is urging businesses to take advantage of the newly extended and expanded Government incentive scheme.

“We welcome the Government’s drive to create more skilled workers and cultivate the workforce of the future, and the college group is perfectly positioned to be able to support this initiative.

WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) trains over 2,500 apprentices each year and works with more than 1,100 employers annually. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in The Budget that any employer hiring an apprentice will be entitled to a payment of £3,000 - regardless of the apprentices’ age - until September 2021. This builds on the existing £1,000 incentive payment that the government already provides for new apprentices aged 16 to 18, and those under 25 with an Education Health Care Plan. These new incentives could see an employer potentially receiving up to £4,000 for hiring a new apprentice. 012

WCG delivers apprenticeships at six colleges across Warwickshire and Worcestershire and offers more than 50 apprenticeship standards across 12 industry sectors and boasts a 76 per cent overall apprenticeship completion rate, nine per cent above the national average. Mark Eden, Director of Work-Based Learning at WCG, says the new incentive scheme from the Government is very generous and it means there has never been a better time to take on an apprentice.

“We hope this incentive scheme will encourage more businesses to explore what an apprentice could bring to their business and would urge companies to get in touch with us to see how we can support that process.” For more information regarding the government incentive, visit govincentive or contact WCG's Business Development Team: T: 0330 135 6940 W:

May/June 2021

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Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS WITH EMPLOYEES IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS Lockdown has undoubtedly been a long and difficult road, taking its toll on people from all walks of life.

WHY BUSINESSES SHOULD CREATE AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION It’s been said countless times that the cost of retaining customers is much less than the cost of finding new ones, and for many businesses, this is easier said than done. LOCALiQ have learnt that creating an emotional connection between audiences and brands can help increase customer retention, as Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Making customers feel unique and valued through authentic, personalised content, will help businesses on their way to attracting repeat customers. The power of people and the power of emotion shouldn’t be underestimated, with it becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors, the emotional connection they choose to create is likely to be a key distinguishing factor that will encourage repeat purchases.

At Hewett Recruitment, they are long-term advocates of flexible working, but with lockdown restrictions and homeworking continuously blurring the line between employee work-life balance, flexibility is more crucial than ever to ensure we truly enhance the power of our people. Laura Hewett, Director at Hewett Recruitment, said: “As a Recruitment agency, we know that an organisations ‘people’ are the key to success, so looking after them during such a trying period became a priority. “At the beginning of the third lockdown, we started to notice a sense of paranoia had developed amongst staff, with individuals feeling guilty for leaving their desks. If we think back to pre-Covid times at the office, people would chat, leave to make drinks or use the photo copier etc. so why should working from home be any different? We encouraged staff to pick up the phone for a catch up with colleagues and complete miniscule tasks, such as unloading the dishwasher, without any creeping guilt.” They have also introduced ‘wellness hours’, offering employees three hours of additional time they could take for themselves to ensure they weren’t ‘stuck’ to their desks. These hours could be used at once, or by taking an extra hour here and there, offering staff the flexibility to get out for a walk, take some time in the garden or however they choose to spend their ‘wellness’ time.

Laura Hewett, Director at Hewett Recruitment

Laura continues: “More recently, we worked closely with Lucy Barkas at Whatwhenwhyhow Ltd on personality profiles for each staff member. An informal webinar was held delving deeper into what everybody enjoys and how we connect, highlighting activities suitable for each persona. Not only did this offer our team a better understanding of one another’s interests, but now we have a list of engaging team building activities, chosen by the team, that we can get booked in the diary to look forward to.” These are just some examples of how Hewett have built relationships of trust and transparency with their team members, putting the power in their hands in a sense, helping build a happy, successful workforce.

EBC GROUP AWARDED 3 ISO ACCREDITATIONS EBC Group are pleased to announce that they have retained their ISO accreditations by the British Assessment Bureau. Following a rigorous and detailed procedure, the workplace technology providers were awarded the UKAS ISO certifications for Information Security Management, Quality Management Systems and Environmental Management Systems. ​ ichard Lane, CEO of EBC Group, R commented: “The accreditation highlights that EBC Group are able to protect our client’s data and manage the availability of sensitive information.


It demonstrates that we have IT security management systems and controls in place to combat cyber-security attacks and other threats to data integrity and our cloud environment offers the highest levels of protection to our clients.” He added: ‘’EBC Group has a commitment to best practice and gaining the highest level of accreditation within IT Security. Our ISO 27001 certification, alongside ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems as well as Cyber Essential Plus sets us apart from many of our competitors.”

May/June 2021

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PASSIONATE ABOUT PEOPLE Your people are the life blood of your organisation. But a team with no direction or motivation can harm the growth and prosperity of your business. Training is proven to increase staff morale, promote self-worth and can give employees focus and direction. Businesses who do not engage in their employees' aspirations are likely to have a high staff turnover, wasting untold fortunes and time in recruitment whilst potentially allowing real talent to waltz out of the door directly into the arms of their competitors. That said, there's little point in putting candidates forward for training that benefits neither them nor the organisation. So, at Cyclopz Training we offer a free training needs analysis and create a targeted training package designed specifically around the needs of your business goals.

FLEXIBLE We can create a package of multiple courses for multiple personnel across several departments. This includes a timeline of start dates that are staggered to ensure courses fit around business schedules and annual leave.

COST EFFECTIVE The online courses and exams can be accesses anytime and from anywhere, so there is no time lost for employees having to travel to a training venue or extra business expenses for accommodation and subsistence costs.

STAY INFORMED As part of this managed system, Cyclopz will provide you with weekly or monthly reports about your learners' progress. You will be able to see, at a glance, how many learners have started or finished their courses, or how far through they have progressed, as well as exam dates and pass rates.

If you would like us to provide you with a quote for a Team Training Package, please visit: https://www.cyclopzgroup. training/collections/all or email at: info@

Before you know it, you have a fully accredited workforce who are motivated and all working to best practice, driving your organisation forward.

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce


Is your lease fit for purpose for the future?

Hybrid working looks as though it is here to stay and as many businesses increasingly consider a more permanent shift to home working for some or all employees, we are likely to see changes in what employers are looking for in terms of office space. Leases will need to change accordingly, and some businesses may even need to end a lease to accommodate a new way of working.

If we see a move away from large offices, which accommodate all employees with space to spare, to smaller offices that cannot accommodate all employees at once, that may mean that many leases need to be revised. At the same time, the trend towards shorter, more flexible leases is likely to continue, according to our Future Workspaces report into the future of the office. Shorter, more flexible leases It can sometimes take a long time to negotiate a relatively simple 10-year lease that sets out the relevant rights and obligations of both parties, and the resulting document can easily run to 80 pages. This is hardly compatible with the need for shorter, more flexible agreements. But the existing Model Commercial Lease (MCL) suite of documents provides the answer. It provides standardised leases as a starting point for the negotiation of important commercial and legal terms. Originally commissioned by the British Property Federation, contributors to the MCL included well-known law firms, clients and trade organisations. The documents aimed to achieve a balance between landlords’ needs to protect the capital value of their assets, and the practical requirements of tenants’ occupation. Precedent leases for office, retail, industrial, and food and drink are all available free of charge, together with ancillary documents.



May/June 2021

Focus on key points Using the MCL does not prevent you and your solicitor including their preferred amendments. It simply means that everyone can see what has been changed from the standard position and then focus on the key points. In this way, agreement can be reached much more quickly. Using the MCL can be a good starting point, depending on the circumstances, and really reflects the needs of the market. If you want to make a major change… If you feel that the shift towards working from home is going to have a major impact on how you run your business, so that you no longer need as much space as you did, you may be reconsidering the leases on your offices.

A move away from large offices may mean that many leases need to be revised; the trend towards shorter, more flexible leases is likely to continue.

The first thing to do is check whether you have a break clause in your lease. Many leases we deal with have such a clause. Take care over your break clause If you have a break clause, this represents your best option for leaving early. The first step is to seek professional legal advice – break clauses are usually complex and there is a very technical process required to exercise a break clause correctly. If the break clause is served incorrectly, or there’s a mistake in it, your ability to leave early may be lost, leaving you with a property you no longer need. Examine your options If you do not have a break clause, your other options for leaving a lease early may (depending on the terms of the lease) be to “assign” the lease to another party, sublet, or try to agree to hand it back to the landlord with a deed of surrender. These options have varying advantages to them, especially around how much ongoing liability you may have for the remainder of the lease. When assessing your options for a lease exit, speak to your advisor as soon as possible, especially if you think you have a break right, as these dates are ones not to miss.

For advice and help as you assess what office space you will need, please contact Anthony Goodfellow Partner, Head of Real Estate, Hereford and Wye Valley T: M: E:

01989 561 426 07890 625 146

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce




NEW FUND FOR INVESTMENT IN LOCAL SKILLS AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES The government’s new UK Community Renewal Fund will allocate up to £3m for innovative projects in Herefordshire over the next year. Herefordshire has been chosen as one of 100 places across the UK to receive funding through the government’s £220m UK Community Renewal Fund, for investment in skills development, communities, businesses and improve local employment opportunities. The county has been highlighted as a priority place for investment based on an index of economic resilience across Great Britain, which measures productivity, household income, unemployment, skills and population density. Investment and support that is tailored to address the challenges faced at a local level is essential to tackle disadvantage, ensure that everyone has the skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities available and enable local economic growth. With up to £3m available for investment locally, Herefordshire Council (as the designated lead authority) is inviting voluntary and community sector organisations, education providers and business groups to submit proposals for innovative pilot projects that address local challenges, develop skills and support people into work. Any organisation interested in submitting a proposal should visit the council website at www.herefordshire. or email CommunityRenewalFund@ for further information on the application process. The council will assess all submitted applications and shortlisted proposals will be submitted to the government in June for approval. Approved projects will be delivered between Autumn 2021 and March 2022. Further information about the UK Community Renewal Fund can be found on the website: government/publications/uk-communityrenewal-fund-prospectus.


The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Worcestershire County Council have launched the new Worcestershire Jobs website to help people find new career opportunities within the county.

Users can even filter their results based on location or on keywords such as skills or industries (i.e. Marketing Jobs). This is set to help people easily find jobs, training options and educational courses that are relevant to them.

The new website works by collating local job, training courses, further educational courses or apprenticeship listings on job sites and displays them in one place. This helps to speed up the searching process for residents or those interested in working in Worcestershire.

Find out more and visit the website by following the link below.

Businesses in the county do not need to do anything differently with their job posting as the Worcestershire Jobs website is able to refresh and display new opportunities as they are listed across multiple job sites.

LOCKDOWN FUELS MORE CREATIVITY FOR HAIRDRESSING STUDENTS AND TUTORS AT EVESHAM COLLEGE Evesham College hairdressing students have been getting creative after the closure of non-essential services affected their access to accessories. Students on the Level 2 hairdressing course can usually be found around Evesham in retailers sourcing eye-catching accessories to use in their college work. With the country in lockdown this wasn’t possible, so tutors set the students the task of creating their own accessories at home. Each week the students at Evesham College, which is part of college group WCG, have been creating a different origami flower to use in their bridal hair styles. Lecturers have given weekly tutorials on how to create the wide range of flowers – all made with the resources students have at home. Lily-Rose Hewitt, one of the students on the course, said: “It has been a good challenge, it’s difficult to do what we would normally do because of the pandemic and we’ve made the best out of a hard situation. “I’ve always been interested in hairdressing and hope after finishing the course to work in a salon and go on to work in celebrity hair. “We’ve got a good class dynamic and while learning in lockdown has been hard,

Lecturer Sarah Jones

it’s forced us to be more creative. “The unit we have been doing is bridal hair and creating the origami rose was fun, we’ve just used coloured paper, glue and selotape to make the flowers.” Lecturer Sarah Jones, who has worked in the department at the college for more than 10 years, says this is the first time they have ever encouraged students to make their own accessories and that she hopes to continue this after the pandemic.

May/June 2021


SUTCLIFFE & CO STRENGTHEN THEIR EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OFFERING WITH WORCESTERSHIRE WORKS WELL As more spotlight is being put on the health and wellbeing of employees, Chamber Members Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers reflect on the importance of the Worcestershire Works Well scheme and the impact this has had on their business. Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers are currently working towards their Worcestershire Works Well Level 2 accreditation. Through their journey with Worcestershire Works Well, they have taken a good look at their own business and were pleasantly surprised to see that they were already doing quite a few things to promote wellbeing in the workplace. For example, holding regular ‘charity days’, investing in a defibrillator, and giving a day off for every employee to carry out voluntary work. Many other businesses may also realise that they are already doing great things but hadn’t stopped to think about them or raise awareness of them. Worcestershire Works Well has also helped Sutcliffe & Co focus on what more they can do to assist their colleagues and community, which in turn will have wider business benefits. One of the changes that has had the most impact was the appointment of a Mental Health First Aider Sue Smith. Sue was already one of the insurance brokers’ Mental Health Champions and doing a great job supporting others in the office; when they first heard about the role

of Mental Health First Aider Sue was keen to take part in the training and gain the qualification. Since then, Sue has provided invaluable support to numerous people and has also been able to assist and help management in decisions involving individuals and the company as a whole. This success has led to invest in more colleagues receiving training in a range of wellness areas. This has had a beneficial influence on the culture of their business and a positive outcome on productivity and profitability.

Our business has been working from home for over a year now and the transition to returning to the office in the future will have good and bad aspects, which some will feel more than others. Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

“Our business has been working from home for over a year now and the transition to returning to the office in the future will have good and bad aspects, which some will feel more than others. Hopefully the journey we are taking with Worcestershire Works Well will enable this transition to run as smoothly as possible.” Says Director Duncan Sutcliffe. Worcestershire Works Well is a free accreditation scheme designed to support businesses to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees. Improved employee health and wellbeing has been shown repeatedly to improve profitability and productivity of businesses. For more information on how the scheme can help your business or if you are interested in taking part, please visit worcestershireworkswell.



HEALTH CASH PLANS: GOOD FOR STAFF, GOOD FOR BUSINESS Employee health and wellbeing has been increasing in importance across the globe in recent years – and for any businesses in Herefordshire and Worcestershire not yet investing in healthcare benefits, now is the time to start thinking about joining the millions who are already doing so. The last year has seen many businesses refocus on looking after their team’s physical, emotional, mental and financial health, recognising that this is increasingly essential to individuals and has a positive impact on their business goals too. There’s a wealth of research which proves the links between a healthier workforce and higher productivity, lower sickness and presenteeism rates, more loyalty towards the company, and a raft of other beneficial side effects. With the after-effects of the worst health crisis any of us has ever experienced still to be fully realised, the majority of companies are now looking at how they can implement policies, procedures and benefits which will ease transitions, minimise the fallout of the pandemic and maximise their team’s long-term health prospects.


The most obvious impact of poor health is seen when employees aren’t able to come into work at all, with the average employee recording 5.8 days of sickness absence each year1, and mental health absences alone costing £14billion. But in addition to this is the problem of presenteeism – when someone really should be off sick, but they continue working – which is estimated to cost UK businesses £15.1billion annually2. Productivity, engagement, morale, and loyalty are also not immune – all of these suffer when there is little, or no thought given to employee health. That’s why we see productivity increase 12% in workplaces where mental health is addressed3, £5 returned to businesses for every £1 they invest in mental health support4, and sick


Stephen Burton-Pye, Paycare Corporate Account Manager

leave reducing for a third of organisations as a direct result of health and wellbeing benefits being implemented1.


So, we know why managers are looking for ways to reduce the burden and show their teams they care about their wellbeing; but there are so many options, it can be difficult to know how to implement benefits which are going to be reasonably priced yet highly impactive. Almost a quarter of businesses opt to provide a Health Cash Plan for their employees5 – not only to support their physical and mental health but also to reward, recognise and retain staff. Stephen Burton-Pye, Corporate Account Manager from Paycare, explains why: “For many of the organisations who choose to join us at Paycare, introducing a Health Cash Plan is a really effective

method of retaining staff by showing them how invested the business is in their wellbeing, as well as being an attractive benefit for job seekers too. “In simple terms, a Health Cash Plan gives the Policyholder cash back on a range of healthcare costs, from routine dental treatment and annual eyesight examinations, to reflexology, hypnotherapy and acupuncture. “For employees, the Plan gives them the security that they don’t have to worry about costs when it comes to their healthcare – and encourages them to seek professional support when they have an injury or illness they might otherwise overlook. “It also helps support a positive workplace culture around health – there’s no need to fret about being unwell or needing to pop for a doctor’s appointment or physiotherapy consultation when you work somewhere which has prioritised your

May/June 2021

BIG INTERVIEW healthcare needs in such a proactive way. “As well as healthcare claims, Plans also offer staff the chance to speak to someone independently and confidentially about any worries they might be experiencing through an Employee Assistance Programme. Especially given the long-term impact of the pandemic, this can be a total lifeline for those experiencing issues including (but in no way limited to) relationship breakdowns, financial worries, or stress. “There’s also access to a GP App which allows for round the clock telephone or video appointments with a practising NHS doctor, at a time to suit. With no need to get to the surgery, organise childcare, or think about any of the other practical considerations associated with a face-to-face appointment, it really is a much simpler process for Policyholders –

and hugely minimised waiting times are an added bonus, too. “By having support available at their fingertips, without the worry of cost, staff are able to seek support for any worries they might be experiencing, are empowered to focus on their health, and better able to approach the subject of wellbeing with their managers.” For more information, visit health-cash-plans.


Alongside Health Cash Plans, more businesses every month are realising the importance of mental health awareness and training when it comes to supporting staff with a range of wellbeing concerns. That’s why in 2019, Paycare launched its dedicated Paycare Wellbeing Division

which offers a flexible range of training for organisations across the UK. Wellbeing Manager, Kerry B Mitchell and her team offer Mental Health First Aid England accredited courses (half-day, one-day and two-day options available) both face-to-face and virtually, as well as bespoke training designed to fit around the needs of your organisation. The courses focus on knowing the potential signs and symptoms associated with mental ill health, an introduction to a range of conditions, and guidance around supporting a colleague in crisis. They empower individuals to feel confident in signposting colleagues to relevant organisations, and in broaching conversations around mental health. Simply visit for more information, or to get in touch with the Paycare Wellbeing team. Sources: 1.

There’s also access to a GP App which allows for round the clock telephone or video appointments with a practising NHS doctor, at a time to suit.

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

2. default/files/2018-09/managing_presenteeism.pdf 3. 4. articles/mental-health-and-employers-refreshing-thecase-for-investment.html 5.



DELIVERING EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE AMIDST A GLOBAL PANDEMIC “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou Coronavirus has changed the way businesses engage with their customers, with less and less face to face interaction and the focus on safety becoming a real priority. Can companies and organisations quantify just how good their customer service has been during lockdown? The last 12 months have been extremely volatile for businesses across the globe. Many were forced to suspend their high street/office operations and send their employees home to work. Inevitably, this has led to a huge change in the way they have communicated and interacted with their customers. Online shopping has increased massively, and we can all relate stories of delays to our orders, packages being left in bins or thrown over fences, and systems crashing at the point of sale. However, the lack of face to face contact shouldn’t mean a drop in standards, despite the fact that many have struggled with a lack of human interaction for the past year. We are, after all, social creatures. As we slowly emerge from the latest lockdown, this is an ideal opportunity to review what has worked well and what lessons we can learn. So just how can we create an exceptional customer service experience via email, web chat and telephone. Here are a few tips: Don’t keep your customer waiting. You are the first point of contact for your business and first impressions count. Respond promptly, politely and professionally. A friendly, approachable attitude goes a long way. Empathise. Develop your soft skills so that you are able to diffuse an angry customer’s complaint. Don’t lose your cool. Take ownership, particularly with difficult customers. Don’t pass the buck by referring them to someone else, instead give that customer the confidence that you can handle the situation yourself.

Know what you’re talking about. Develop the in-depth product knowledge necessary to let your customers know you have a thorough understanding of your market. Learn the art of time management. You may be dealing with lots of orders from various different companies at the same time – the trick is knowing which to prioritise. Be patient. Move the order or complaint along at a pace the customer is happy with. Don’t rush them, but instead let them know they are valued as an individual. Be flexible. For example, if a regular customer is threatening to walk away, be prepared to offer them something which goes above and beyond your usual remit. The availability of price comparison sites means that customers are often savvier these days when it comes to knowing what deals are out there, so you might need to price-match or even go lower than the competition. Above all, maintain regular communication. Acknowledge receipt of an order from a customer, and then keep them updated on expected delivery

dates, any issues that arise etc. In the case of customer complaints, keep in regular contact to show that you are being proactive on their behalf, and that you have listened and understood. Learn from past mistakes. You might not always get it right, make time to reflect and analyse where you could improve, so that the customer service you offer is constantly evolving. According to the Institute of Customer Service, £10 billion is lost to the British economy every month through poor customer service. Post-lockdown is an ideal opportunity for every organisation to revisit its approach to this vital area of business, and then strive to get better and better in the future. The Chamber have a range of sales and customer care training courses to ensure members of your organisation are equipped to manage clients efficiently and effectively. Take a look at the range of customer service related training courses here product-category/training/sales-andcustomer-care.

All courses can be found here: Can’t find what you are looking for? Email with your course suggestions.


May/June 2021



Search Engine Optimisation Part 2 - Keyword Research Tuesday 4 May - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

Google Ads - Part 2 Tuesday 1 June - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

Search Engine Optimisation Part 3 - Creating Content Tuesday 11 May - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

An Introduction to WordPress Part 1 - Understanding WordPress Thursday 3 June - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

Introduction to Project Management Tuesday 11 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

Advanced Excel Thursday 3 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

Employment Law Update Wednesday 12 May - 10.00am-12.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Role of the Team Leader Wednesday 12 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members Email Marketing Thursday 13 May - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Search Engine Optimisation - Part 4 Tuesday 18 May - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Managing People in the Team Wednesday 19 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members Google Ads - Part 1 Tuesday 25 May - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members

Communicating for Success Wednesday 9 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

NEW How to Understand, Challenge & Review your brand Thursday 10 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

An Introduction to Digital Marketing and PR Thursday 10 June - 9.00am-1.00pm FREE Members £110+VAT Non-members

HR for Non HR Managers Thursday 10 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

Effective Use of Social Media Part 1 - Facebook and Viral Marketing Tuesday 15 June - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Effective Time Management Thursday 17 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members An Introduction to WordPress Part 2 - Building your Website Thursday 17 June - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Managing Performance in the Team Monday 21 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members Effective Use of Social Media Part 2 - Facebook Advertising Tuesday 22 June - 2.00- 4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members IOSH Working Safely Thursday 24 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members Effective Use of Social Media - Part 3 Tuesday 29 June - 2.00-4.00pm £60+VAT Members £85+VAT Non-members Intermediate Microsoft Excel Tuesday 29 June - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

NEW LGBTQA+ Diversity Training Wednesday 26 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members Successful Telesales Thursday 27 May - 9.00am-4.00pm £160+VAT Members £200+VAT Non-members

Whilst we are continuously expanding our online offering, please let us know if there are any training courses you would like the Chamber to deliver in the future. All up to date courses can be found on our website: We are looking forward to welcoming delegates back to the Chamber office for future courses. For more information on any of our training courses, please see our website or email our training department on

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce




BCC/MONEYCORP SURVEY FINDS IMPACT OF COVID-19 AND BREXIT The British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with moneycorp, surveyed more than 1,000 UK firms to understand the impact of both Covid-19 and Brexit on UK businesses. As Europe still comes to terms with a new post-Brexit landscape, many businesses are now evaluating what the new processes will mean for trade between the UK and the continent. In the Midlands, the survey had 205 respondents, of which 62% revealed that their intention over the next 12 months is to grow within the UK – a finding that is almost identical to the results of the UK as a whole. Overall, the report established that more UK firms will be accessing finance in the immediate future, likely due to the impact of lockdown. The survey found that while the government provided a wave of financial support in the form of business rates, VAT relief and the furlough scheme, around 20% of UK firms surveyed are still anticipating a reliance on this support in the next 12 months. Due to the uncertainty of both lockdown restrictions and a last minute UK/EU trade agreement, exchange rates have fluctuated significantly over the course of the last year, effecting the value of payments that businesses need to make and balances that they hold. According to the survey, 22% of Midlands-based businesses remarked that currency risk is more of a concern to them now than it was two years ago, but when asked about the measures they take to manage risk exposure, the result was an even divide, with almost 20% admitting that despite knowing they are exposed to risk, they take no action to manage it, and 20% saying they have risk management measures currently in place.

Despite a Brexit trade deal being agreed between the UK and Brussels in the form of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), it is vital that businesses take steps to review their contractual terms and conditions and proof any contracts to ensure they are in line with the TCA, along with the governing law and jurisdiction of the terms and conditions. The points to review include: If there are any additional tariffs or exchange rates which may affect the general profitability of a deal The interpretation of the drafting of terms and conditions, the flexibility of contracts, and the hidden risks taking into account location, key customers and workforce The potential ruling of adequate data protection laws in English jurisdiction. This finding will be particularly important where data is sent for business purposes outside of the EU

Coporate Solicitor at mfg Abbey Jones

Abbey Jones is a corporate solicitor at mfg Solicitors. Members looking for further advice can contact Abbey via email:

WORCESTER SIXTH FORM COLLEGE COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMME OF MASS TESTING Thursday 18 March marked the end of the mass testing of Worcester Sixth Form College students on their return to College. Like all secondary schools and colleges across the county, students were expected to be tested three times onsite before the transition to home testing. Over a nine day period, the College conducted almost 4,000 tests with 99% of students taking part. Ed Senior, Principal, said: "I am proud of the maturity and responsible attitude shown by our students and grateful for the hard work and dedication of the testing team who worked tirelessly to complete such a huge task and at the same time keep students safe. In addition to the testing team, other members of support staff were crucial in ensuring that our testing arrangements worked smoothly including setting up the facility, collecting, directing and registering students and recording their results.

volunteers ensuring mass testing of students runs smoothly

Thank you to all of these colleagues - it really was a great team effort." The triumph of the testing programme follows a period of successful remote learning since January with students and their parents being overwhelmingly positive when surveyed about the support received and communications with them.


May/June 2021


University students and staff celebrating a previous sustainability week

UNIVERSITY CELEBRATES SUSTAINABILITY AWARD The University of Worcester has been recognised for its continued commitment and work on sustainability. After being named Sustainability Institution of the Year in the last Green Gown Awards, this year saw it take home another accolade, as winner in the Reporting with Influence category. The award was shared with the University of the West of England.

Health and Wellbeing team made up of volunteers from the organisation


In a year that saw almost the entire head office administration functions of Worcester Bosch relocate to home working in one month, followed by the uncertainties beset by the pandemic, the value of their staff has never been more in focus.

Wellbeing team was set up in 2017 as

Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester, said: “The Climate Emergency is real and is getting worse. At the University we are committed to doing all we can to promote sustainability and cut greenhouse gas emissions. We lead by practical example, from sourcing local food to making our buildings more efficient, to piloting an e-bike share scheme. We are very proud of all the staff and students who have contributed so much to these successful initiatives and more.”

With over 1800 members of the team

Carl Arntzen, Managing Director,

The University’s ongoing commitment to sustainability saw it win Sustainability Institution of the Year at the 2019 Green Gown Awards. In 2020 the University became the first UK institution in the decade to be Globally Highly Commended with an International Green Gown, awarded at the United Nations in New York.

and engagement high – everyone

The Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives by universities and colleges and best practice within the further and higher education sector. The award relates to the University’s annual Sustainability Report; it assessed how sustainability is reported and how the report was used to have impact and influence within the institution.

and a myriad of different working conditions – remote workers, workers needing to attend site in order to carry out their work (mainly production and logistics personnel) and also service engineers who visit customers’ homes – there were many challenges for

they knew that in order to maintain a committed and happy workforce, there was a need to support all aspects of the employee’s life – personally and professionally - to achieve a good work life balance. The team is managed entirely voluntarily by employees who are committed to their core values. said: “Since the pandemic and the difficulties that our employees are facing, the team have been working to provide support online as well as in person. Various sessions held on personal topics like stress, positivity and sleep have been very well received

everyone to overcome.

by our employees.

Communication was a big part of

“Mental health is definitely a big topic

the transition – keeping everyone in the loop was vital to keep morale received relevant information at the same time straight from the Board whether furloughed or not. But as time went on it became clear that, along with the obvious health concerns of

for us all at the moment and we are proud to have over 200 employees trained as mental health champions giving up their time to support colleagues who are struggling. There is a telephone helpline, an online support site as well as regular slots where mental health champions are available

the pandemic, their employees were

to talk.”

experiencing mental health issues.

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



EMPLOYERS LEARN THE NEW LETTERS OF THE LAW Employment law and its application during the exigencies of the pandemic have been the main source of enquiries made to experts MFG Solicitors of late. BY HELEN COMPSON The rules governing home-working, the related responsibilities around mental health, vaccination and now the IR35 regulations, regarding off-payroll working, that came into effect on April 6 are the subjects employers most want to talk about, said Sally Morris. Partner and head of the employment division of a firm that advises businesses on a wide range of corporate and commercial issues across Worcestershire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, she said the past few months had certainly tested employers’ mettle. “Take working from home, there are significant implications in terms of how staff are managed, dealing with appraisals and establishing what new working hours might look like,” she said. “Are people at

their desks from 9 to 5 or is there more flexibility now? “And then, of course, there’s health and safety. How will that be monitored, because employers still have to carry out assessments, even for those working from home.” Homeworking was clearly here to stay and the sooner managers dealt with the practical issues involved the better. That included updating contracts of employment to reflect the new conditions, such as place and hours of work; taking steps to protect confidential information and personal data; reviewing health and safety measures and carrying out risk assessments; identifying any specific equipment that needed to be provided; considering whether any special planning or insurance arrangements were required; deciding how to manage and supervise homeworkers; and identifying the tax consequences. Sally said: “It is likely with the pandemic that companies will see an increase in applications for flexible working and, as employees have been working from home, it might prove difficult to decline some of them.

It is likely with the pandemic that companies will see an increase in applications for flexible working and, as employees have been working from home, it might prove difficult to decline some of them.

“Companies would need to ensure that any refusal was made on at least one of the eight grounds outlined in law.” It was important to ensure fairness and to avoid any potential issues of discrimination while dealing with such applications, and businesses had to take particular care when a number were received at once from different employees. While all companies knew they were obliged to provide a safe working environment, some had taken their time in realising that included employees’ mental health too. “During Covid-19, companies have been required to carry out risk assessments in relation to mental health,” she said. “This can include stress audits, whereby managers need to identify risk factors. “They should identify who might be harmed and how, gauge the level of risk and then develop a solution. Importantly, they must record their findings as they are doing so and then monitor and review the subsequent action plan they draw up. “Companies must tackle the causes of work-related mental ill health, especially in the circumstances arising from Covid-19, and really they should consider appointing and training mental health first aiders.” MFG staff have themselves been working from home since last March. Good


May/June 2021


communication had been vital in ensuring people felt supported, engaged and, as a result, motivated. The team had a weekly meeting online, but they also talked to each other throughout the week via email, telephone and their group WhatsApp. “Sometimes the Monday meeting is just about social stuff, because that’s an important element of keeping in touch with each other and maintaining morale,” she said. “Overall, strong leadership from the MFG partnership and the board has been crucial throughout the pandemic – they have been quick to react to any changes or needs – and that will continue to be important as we move out of lockdown.” Among the most frequently asked questions currently is whether employers can insist on staff being vaccinated before a return to the office. The answer is that as vaccination is not mandatory in the UK and therefore there is no legal requirement for employees to be vaccinated, employees cannot be forced to have a Covid jab. “The Government is considering whether certain sectors, such as care and the NHS, can introduce a mandatory requirement for vaccination in view of the vulnerability of the clients and patients staff will come

into contact with,” said Sally. “Also, the way could be paved for employers to introduce voluntary vaccination requirements, but appropriate procedures would need to be followed to ensure this was introduced lawfully. Potentially there could be legal claims on the grounds of indirect discrimination if an individual with a protected characteristic feels they have been put at a disadvantage. “It could also be that a requirement to be vaccinated is directly discriminatory, and asking about vaccination during recruitment could be deemed a prohibited health question.” The other hot topic of the moment is IR35 and the regulations that now apply when companies contract with a worker through an intermediary service. While small businesses are not affected, medium and large companies (as defined by The Companies Act 2006) must assess whether any work a contractor does via the intermediary could be deemed as direct employment for tax purposes. Sally said: “Companies will be obliged to complete a status determination statement and if it is indeed determined that the contractor is an employee for tax purposes, then the employer must deduct and pay the tax liability via payroll.”

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

Sally Morris

And then, finally, there were the inevitable questions about the furlough scheme. Sally confirms the situation as it stands currently: the Government will cover up to 80% of employees’ salaries, capped at £2,500 per month, for the hours they cannot work. From July, the Government contribution will be reduced to 70% of salaries for hours not worked and employers will have to pay 10%. In August and September, the split will be 60% from the Government and 20% from employers. The furlough scheme, which is now firmly entrenched in UK employment law, has been extended until 30 September 2021.



GOOD WORK/LIFE BALANCE IS TOP OF STAFF WISHLISTS TODAY The attitude and wish lists of potential employees have been changed irrevocably by the pandemic, says a long-established Worcestershire recruitment agency. BY HELEN COMPSON For the past 40 years, Hewett Recruitment has been harvesting talent in the fields of IT, engineering, commercial, industrial and executive talent and the changes directors Laura Hewett and Ben Mannion have witnessed this past year have been seismic. Ben said: “Employees are starting to look at companies, whether it’s their current employer or a prospective employer, and consider the work/life balance they offer. “It’s not just about salary or pension or bonuses anymore, but what does that company offer in terms of flexibility and support? The pastoral care element has become very important.” The Hewett team is already seeing the impact on recruitment, Laura confirms. While some sectors have been very quiet during the pandemic, simply treading water to survive, there is a very positive revival under way – giving good candidates a lot of choices. “There is a lot of noise around generations Y and Z, about what young people want out of work and how it fits around their personal life,” she said. “While all of us generation X people say ‘it wasn’t like that in my day’, the past 12 months have pushed a lot of employers to accept they do have to make their workplaces attractive to generations Y and Z. They are the future, after all.” Hewett Recruitment itself has remained fleet of foot, evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of the

workplace. Nurturing the health and wellbeing of staff has been as important as offering the practical support needed to do their jobs. Laura said: “There are a lot of issues to contend with around remote working and mental health. People were feeling a bit isolated, so two of us – myself and Lisa, one of our managers who runs our temporary recruitment division – trained as mental health first aiders. “We have a significant number of temporary workers every week and hundreds more registered with us, so supporting them properly in the way we do our own permanent employees is important too.” Hewett has people on its team who live alone and as a result have opted to work in the office, in a Covid-secure manner, from time to time. It also has people who, for a range of reasons, prefer to work from home. Today, flexibility is key, said Ben. “Conversations with our people, they don’t begin with ‘how’s a certain job going’. No, it’s ‘how are you? Are you

While all of us generation X people say ‘it wasn’t like that in my day’, the past 12 months have pushed a lot of employers to accept they do have to make their workplaces attractive to generations Y and Z. They are the future, after all.


OK?’ Those conversations are more about ‘what do you want’ and ‘what would you like to see happen’.” Perennially benchmarking its own offer with that of other leading companies, Hewett recently improved the contents of the private healthcare plan it provides for staff. An annual cash payment is now included that can be used for services of their choice, whether that be counselling, chiropractic treatment, a new pair of glasses or perhaps gym membership – anything that supports their health and wellbeing. Holiday allowances have been increased too, up from 25 days to 28 days’ annual leave (plus bank holidays) for someone working fulltime. As we come out of lockdown, it remains to be seen where and how staff will choose to work. While the firm has a fully-fledged office in Kidderminster, its Worcester staff were already splitting their time between home and the city’s Kiln co-working centre. One thing that hasn’t changed is its commitment to training and development. Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership named Hewett Recruitment as the county’s first Cornerstone Employer for its sterling work nurturing the career prospects of young people. Ben chairs the LEP’s Future Skills Board. “I would encourage all employers to look to the future and to think of the needs of the next generation coming through, particularly now. We need to get back on track.”

May/June 2021


ALL HANDS NEEDED ON DECK TO CHANGE DIRECTION John Heseltine’s philosophy is deceptively simple and it is this. Significant changes made to a business without first engaging with the workforce will fail. BY HELEN COMPSON There are no two ways about it – overlook your staff at your peril, said this business consultant with almost 50 years’ experience under his belt. John established Ocius Consulting, a specialist in guiding companies large and small through transformational change, in 2007, the year he left Lloyds Bank after 34 years’ service. During that time he ran the gamut of roles, beginning as a cashier fresh out of school and moving, over the years, through functions in stocks and shares, mortgages and commercial lending and then branch business development, before becoming a personnel manager covering the bank’s north-west region. It proved to be a stepping stone to a national post in which he was responsible for managing the bank’s entire £150m personnel budget. Managing human resources with quality leadership and finesse has been his stock-in-trade ever since. John has christened the structured programme he employs with clients Journey. Its strapline is ‘Putting people at the heart of change’. “When I start talking to a client, I want to understand all about their business and their case for any change,” he said. “I want to know what their vision is – where they want to get to.” “Sometimes they want to grow, sometimes they just want to survive in the current climate. So, they could either want to have projects to stimulate future growth or they might want to knuckle down and restructure their staffing to improve the company’s future prospects.” Either way, the entry point was the same, he said. The client needed to talk to their staff – to communicate with them fully. “Once your people understand the situation, it empowers all concerned to move forward.”

Often the staff themselves had fresh ideas to contribute, and even on occasion the solution. He gave as an example the Timpson shoe chain, which had followed a policy of engaging effectively with its workforce since the 1950s. “When they went through a period in which they had to adapt to survive, they spoke to their staff who said, OK, suggesting going down to three or four days a week so everybody gets to keep their job.” The Journey he takes clients on works through six key areas, each designed to elicit the impact any proposed changes will have on staff.

The means of planning and development, shaping the change leaders’ that will in turn enable the management of people on the ground and analysing the contemporary business environment are all part of the Journey too. While a small company might have one project on the go, a large corporation might well have several running at the same time. A particular strength of John’s approach is that it nurtures the production of structured reports that apprise managers not only of a project’s progress, but also raises a red flag in advance of potential problems.

The first is ‘leadership and sponsorship’. Here, the main question is whether everybody accepts the need for change. “This is about ensuring everybody is on the same page. If there is opposition, I have the resources to work through the issues.”

“Large companies might have 20 projects going on at once,” he said, “but if they use the same structured approach in all of them, the chief executive and management team will know exactly where they are in each project and what the hot spots are.

Step two is all about communication and, specifically, conveying the vision. “Tell your people all about that five or 10 year plan you’ve drawn up. If you can’t reveal the finer detail in case your ideas are copied, tell them that,” he said. “They will understand.”

“If several projects start at once, will there be people who are hit by them all at the same? If so, it might be you need to stagger them. The reports will help you make that decision.”

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce






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May/June 2021


PROFESSIONAL COACH TRAINING & COACHING QUALIFICATIONS 3D Leadership offer high quality Coach training, development, qualification, and supervision. The Partners at 3D are accredited, qualified, and highly experienced Coaching Psychologists and, alongside management and executive coaching, regularly supervise, research, and publish in the coaching field. This year we are offering the ILM Level 5 Certificate & Diploma in Coaching & Mentoring. This is a professional Coaching qualification that is suitable for both independent practitioners and Coaches and Managers working inside organisations. The training consists of 7 dates over seven months and the 2021 programme starts with the first three dates in July. The ILM Certificate and Diploma are £1,750 + vat and £1,950 + vat respectively which includes training, marking, assessing and certification. You can download the brochure at www.3DLeadership. or if you’d like to explore further please contact us at or 01684 575852 to arrange to discuss in more details.

GROWAGRI Supporting development in horticulture and agriculture

BE PART OF THE AGRI-TECH REVOLUTION! Worcestershire SME? Discover how you can be supported to diversify into the Agri-Tech sector. Latest research suggests that the global Agri-Tech market is set to experience an average annual growth rate of 150% over the next five years. Join our FREE programme of expert-led webinars that showcase the cutting-edge technologies being developed to revolutionise the way we grow our food by maximising productivity, protecting our natural resources and helping to create a climate-resilient agricultural system. On 12th, 19th, and 26th May, Malvern-based Borwell will lead a three-part Space, Cyber & GIS programme to explore how satellites, geographic information systems and cyber tools can help farmers and growers respond to challenges in modern agriculture. Starting 15th June, the Bioenergy and Waste Management programme features exciting innovations from a range of biomass processing technologies and will detail the carbon capture projects that are currently being planned across the UK.

For more information or to book on either event call 0330 135 7229 or visit

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce




CATEGORIES FOR THE 2021 AWARDS INCLUDE: Best use of Technology Sponsor - TechTeam

Commitment to the Community Sponsor - Sanctuary Group

Employer of the Year Sponsor - University of Worcester

Excellence in Customer Service Sponsor - Air Products

Excellence in Innovation Sponsor - Malvern Hills Science Park

Excellence in Sustainability Sponsor - Business Energy Efficiency Programme

Exporter of the Year Sponsor - Malvern Panalytical

Family Business of the Year Sponsor - Harrison Clark Rickerbys

High Growth Business of the Year Sponsor - Hewett Recruitment

Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

Businesses across Herefordshire & Worcestershire will not want to miss the opportunity to spotlight their business and stand out from their competition with the chance to win a Chamber Business Award for free. The Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce are delighted to announce that entries to the Chamber Business Awards 2021 are now open for entry, with the face-to-face ceremony due to take place on Thursday 2 September at the Worcester Arena in line with government guidance, sponsored by Folk2Folk. Entries will be free for both Members and Non-members regardless of size or sector and are not limited to the number of categories entered into. Businesses can now enter faster and easier than ever using the new online awards entry portal. An award presents an opportunity to spotlight business success as well increasing brand profile and separating your organisation from competitors.

The black-tie event will be a celebration of businesses achievements and mark a return to physical events. As businesses begin to re-open it has never been more important to set yourself apart from the competition and stand out to your customers.

Sponsor - Cargill Protein Europe

Events Manager, Olivia Williams, said: “After the past 12 months that businesses have endured it has never been more important to spotlight your success and celebrate what your organisation has done over the past year.

Most Promising New Business

“The Chamber Business Awards 2021 will give your organisation the opportunity for hard work to be recognised and rewarded in one of our many categories available. “I encourage your business to consider submitting entries for at least 1 category. We cannot wait to hear of the success that you and other businesses have had during the last year and we are even more excited, all being well, to welcome successful nominees to the black-tie event in September.” There are a bumper 15 categories available to enter, higher than previous years, all category winners will be then entered into the grand prize of the Business of The Year Award, sponsored by Folk2Folk.

Manufacturer of the Year Sponsor - OGL Computer

Micro Business of the Year Sponsor - Worcestershire Business Central Sponsor - mfg Solicitors

Small Business of the Year Sponsor - Orchard Valley Foods

The Professional Services Award Sponsor - Worcestershire County Council

Business of the Year Sponsor - Folk2Folk

The face-to-face ceremony will be subject to government guidelines at the appropriate time. Businesses have until Friday 29 May to get their submissions in. For information on how to enter, please visit: www. business-awards. Scan now to enter your business for free:

Images from previous awards ceremony


May/June 2021


RESTART GRANT SCHEME NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS On 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced the Restart Grant Scheme to help support businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic as they reopen in line with the gradual lifting of restrictions. Applications for the Restart Scheme are now open until 30 June 2021. Non-essential retail businesses are eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 and hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses are eligible for one-off grants of up to £18,000.

SHOW YOUR PRIDE IN THE COUNTY AND MAKE IT WORCESTERSHIRE! Like many others, Worcestershire’s food, drink, and hospitality industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Make It Worcestershire campaign is here to champion the ‘Buy, Eat, Sell & Stay Local’ ethos and offer much-needed support to local businesses. The Make It Worcestershire campaign has been co-developed as part of the county’s Covid-19 recovery plan. The aim is to support our local growers, producers, retailers, and hospitality venues as we move towards our new normal. By adopting the ‘Buy, Eat, Sell & Stay Local’ ethos, we plan to promote the best there is in Worcestershire locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally. The campaign will not only look to help our local businesses become household names with our residents, but also forge crucial business to business relationships so we can all succeed together, as a county. As well as celebrating and bringing together businesses the Make It Worcestershire campaign will be delivering a live virtual webinar to promote local produce, a social media campaign, podcasts and videos and a series of case studies promoting the importance of the ‘Buy, Eat, Sell & Stay local message To get involved with the campaign all you need to do is sign up to become a Worcestershire 1000 member. You will be supplied with all you need to kick off your involvement in the campaign. From pre-prepared social media content to easily printable posters to show your support for the campaign, you’ll have it all at a click of a button. For more information, email

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses that are predominantly reliant on delivering in-person services for the general public.

If you do not meet the qualifying criteria for the Restart Grant you may be able to apply for support from the your local authorities additional restrictions grant fund. Details on how to apply and full eligibility criteria can be found here

FRIDAY HUB MARKS 12-MONTH ANNIVERSARY WITH NEW NETWORKING RECORD A virtual networking event set up at the start of the first lockdown to help businesses across the Marches during the pandemic has been such a success it is now the biggest of its kind in the region.

“The sessions were born out of a desire to offer the business community a place to come together and share their experiences of the pandemic, as well as giving them practical support and advice.

A total of 76 people attended the latest meeting of the Shropshire Business Zoom Room – with 17 new faces swelling the ranks of the hugely popular weekly event as it marked its first anniversary.

“We’ve been told they are now the biggest in the region and are delighted that they have proved so invaluable to so many businesses.”

The free Friday session – a collaboration between the Marches Growth Hub Shropshire and leading business specialists Good2Great – has received rave reviews from businesses across the area since it was launched.

Marches Growth Hub Shropshire Manager, Emma Chapman, said: “We have been absolutely thrilled with the success of the Friday Hub, with the latest session proving to be the biggest yet.”

BETADEN COHORT 4.0 ANNOUNCED Worcestershire’s technology accelerator BetaDen, has announced the identity of eight new early-stage businesses that will join its programme in April. Linda Smith, founder and CEO of BetaDen, said: “We were impressed by the calibre of applications received for Cohort 4, which is testament to BetaDen’s growing reputation for adding real value to early-stage technology businesses and their customers. “The new cohort includes both early-stage and more-established companies seeking to test and develop technology-driven ideas, including an Oxford University spin out and businesses with an established international footprint.”

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

“As we head towards our third birthday in July, several recent cohort members have celebrated landmark contract wins and investment from the likes of HS2, the NHS, Amazon and Royal Mail. These successes demonstrate how our commercial focus on developing technologies that solve real-world problems, combined with access to industry expertise and networks, is helping BetaDen attract early-stage businesses with exciting growth potential to Worcestershire.”




DRPG planting trees as part of their sustainability pledge in February 2020

DRPG EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS OF THEIR SUSTAINABILITY AUDIT DRPG’s recent audit for ISO 14001 and ISO 20121 certifications leads to a resounding result of meeting all standards. With the decision to refresh their sustainability management system in 2020. DRPG’s practices were reviewed by an external ISO certification auditor, who was incredibly pleased with DRPG’s CSR progression. The certification was to be achieved by the DRPG team planting 40 trees, using renewable energy to run their HQ through solar panels and revealing 40 targeted CSR projects to complete in 2020. With the unveiling of their new renewable energy initiative towards becoming a carbon-neutral company. The audit set out to confirm that DRPG had been abiding by the government demands and meeting the requirements of the certified standards. The external auditors looked into all areas of sustainability, from CSR activations, to project sustainability. Integrity Manager at DRPG, Andrew Davies, commented: “Yet another great achievement for DRPG. We are pleased to announce that we have successfully passed our 2nd surveillance audit to ISO 20121 and ISO 14001, the event sustainability, and environmental standards with a brilliant audit outcome. DRPG Team Members continue to implement the commitments made in our CSR Charter, driving sustainability and CSR related Team Initiatives across the Group.”


According to the government agency HSE Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 17.9 million and 8.9 million respectively. Amy Smith of Dragonfly Pilates suggests that the answer surely lies in increasing activity and reducing sedentary time at workstations to help improve overall wellbeing. Even those with active roles including lifting and handling may experience kyphosis or weakened lower back muscles and should spend time focussing on their wellbeing. There are so many initiatives to promote wellbeing (both physical and mental). What better time to begin supporting your workforce than now, following the latest dreary lockdowns? What is Pilates? Founded in 1920s by Joseph Pilates, Pilates provides a total body workout with a focus conditioning the core (abdominals, lower back and stabilising muscles). It’s achieved through precise execution of flowing exercises and lateral breathing patterns. Pilates could help to reduce people’s risk of injury as it improves balance and coordination. It can help reduce stress and anxiety as there is a focus on mental well-being and mindful breathing techniques. It can also reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders as Pilates focuses on strengthening the core and improving posture which can reduce back pain even in those who have suffered for years.

NEW RETAIL PLATFORM ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO ‘LOVE WHERE THEY LIVE’ A new website designed to make it easier than ever to shop local online has been launched across Worcestershire. Love Where You Live (LWYL) was developed by local businesswoman Gillian Davies, who wanted to create a convenient online space where local businesses could sell their wares at a time when reduced footfall and now the Covid-19 pandemic has affected sales for many. LWYL Worcestershire is currently home to 70 retailers (and growing), selling over 600 products, all of which have been made or sourced by independent businesses in Worcestershire – from art and clothing to jewellery, experiences and homeware. Some of the retailers include Oldfields Cider, Hussingtree Gin, The Malvern and Ross and Ross gifts. Gillian was inspired to create the website following a chance conversation with a local retailer whose business was having to close after falling victim to reduced footfall on the high street. She said: “I feel passionately about our high street and we’ve designed Love Where You Live to be an extra layer of support, to help people to sell online so that they can keep doing what they love and help to keep our high streets alive. It’s grown beyond all of our expectations so far and we’ve got exciting plans for the future.”

Throughout 2021, DRPG has plans to continue to enable the team to support with meeting the standards, while actively making the business even more sustainable and conscious of the wider community.

LWYL is keen to highlight the impact of ‘shop local’ on the local community. For every £10 you spend with a local retailer, an additional £50 goes back into our local economy. That money is circulated locally and goes back to local restaurants, pubs and other retailers, helping our local communities to thrive.

May/June 2021

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CLARITY SOLUTIONS – MAKING COLLABORATION EASY IN THE FLEXIBLE WORKING ENVIRONMENT If you want to keep the benefits of flexible working post-pandemic but you’re wary of the impact on team collaboration, Clarity Solutions can supply the right technology so you can have the best of both worlds. The pandemic has forced many businesses to trial hybrid working, and has accelerated its adoption as we move forward, but there is concern that teamwork suffers when staff are split between the office and working remotely. Clarity Solutions supply a range of interactive big screens to enable effective collaboration and enhance creativity during meetings. These screens facilitate video conferencing at room scale so those working remotely still feel part of the team in the office. Ideas can be captured on

screen in real-time, writing either with your finger or a stylus, improving the speed of collaboration and keeping everyone engaged. Forward-thinking businesses who use this technology also benefit from: Increased employee wellbeing due to flexible working The ability to retain valuable team members due to a better work/life balance The opportunity to recruit talent from a wider geographical area if daily office attendance isn’t required For over 20 years Clarity Solutions have been trusted suppliers of multifunctional printers for the office and home office. We added interactive screens to our product range several years ago to help our customers stay on the cutting edge without needing to add to their supplier portfolio. As the economy recovers,

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

Clarity Solutions Sales Director Ken Taylor

agility in business has never been more important. Get in touch for a chat about your needs and to find a solution to suit your budget. Call us on 01905 721400 or email our Sales Director Ken Taylor at



CELEBRATING A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade” isn’t hat how the saying goes? When HypnoCoach Adrienne Potter was diagnosed with stage 4 secondary cancer at the age of 48 she knew that only she could make the necessary changes to her health and lifestyle. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. For 12 years worked as a Sports Therapist, working with people who were carrying the physical symptoms of stress as well as those struggling with sports injuries. I retired from the industry in 2015 after my initial diagnosis of Breast Cancer in 2013.

HOW DID YOUR INITIAL DIAGNOSIS IMPACT YOU? It led to me having to retire from a role that I loved due to the physical impact the chemotherapy & other medication had had on me, it also left me feeling very lost and low from a work and personal perspective.

Adrienne Potter – Before (October 2020)

Adrienne Potter – After (April 2021)

due the pandemic. Rather than resting on my laurels I added on the qualification of Certified Life Coach.

Life Coach I consistently worked on my mindset, helping me to gain a greater personal perspective, build self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. I have always considered myself to be one of lifes optimists, but when you’re told you have stage 4 secondary cancer, well that’s a whole different ball game and I think it was a case of survival instincts kicking in, that along with the tools I had learnt throughout my training as a Hypnotherapist and Coach.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE? HOW DID YOUR CURRENT ROLE HAS HELP YOU TO A combination of curiosity and the OVERCOME YOUR RECENT pandemic. Hypnotherapy had fascinated me for years, so when the opportunity HEALTH CHALLENGES? presented itself to retrain that’s exactly what I did. The Coaching only came last year when I had to close my clinic doors

Before working to help others with their challenges, we first have to overcome our own. Throughout my training as a


Before working to help others with their challenges, we first have to overcome our own. Throughout my training as a Life Coach I consistently worked on my mindset, helping me to gain a greater personal perspective, build self-esteem and a sense of self-worth.


I am pleased to say that in March of this year my scan showed no evidence of cancer, I put this largely down to the daily work I was doing on myself, change of diet, self-hypnosis, journaling, supplements, meditation and increased exercise. I am fully aware that I still have a long way to go, but what this recent glitch has taught me is that we have to take responsibility for ourselves and because of this I have created a 6 Weeks to Wellness Course to help others create a balance in an otherwise unbalanced life.

May/June 2021

REVOLUTIONARY OFFICE SEATING & OTHER PRODUCTS TO IMPROVE LONG-TERM HEALTH & PRODUCTIVITY FROM ACTIVE-SIT-STAND LTD. Active-Sit-Stand Ltd, based in Malvern, are revolutionising comfort and the health of employees in the workplace, be it at home or office. The issue? We sit too much and don’t move enough. This is detrimental to our health. The lack of activity robs us of our concentration, energy and creativity, even after a short amount of time. Especially now with more of us working from home. Mark Williams founder of Active-Sit-Stand Ltd has been promoting health & wellbeing in the workplace for over two decades.

“I wanted it to be different to all of the other companies. I wanted to see change, I didn’t want to become your standard office equipment / furniture supplier.” Change is occurring with the realisation of companies that they need to look after the wellbeing of their biggest asset, their people. They are looking towards companies such as Apple and Google, seeing the innovative things that they do. It starts with what we sit on. To try any of the revolutionary products or services Active-Sit-Stand has to offer please contact Mark direct:

Active-Sit-Stand was established by Mark with this in mind. With a noticeable passion for ergonomics, the aims and appetite of this organisation are to be different from the previous office supply furniture companies on the market.

Active-Sit-Stand Ltd A supplier of true ergonomic seating and office products. All designed with the health and welfare of the user in mind. 20 plus years as a H&S professional with a passion for ergonomics and the welfare of people. Active-Sit-Stand has devoted itself to revolutionising standing and sitting at the workplace. “According to WHO (World Health Organisation), physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality” More movement simply means better health, more motivation and higher productivity. From choosing the right mouse to designing the ideal Office Environment Active-sit-Stand can provide the products and the knowhow. Try before you buy. A free trial of all active furniture. All designed to put a smile on your face and to keep you healthy. Full Consultancy Services: including DSE Assessment (a legal requirement even if your staff or working from Home), Office planning, Risk Assessment and H&S advice.

Be Active! Be Healthy! Contact details: Mark williams - Tel: 01684574836 | Mob: 07770 879396 E: | W:

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



Jonathan Branchett, General Manager

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Terence Jagger, CBE

Richard Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in Computing



As part of their expansion plans, Jackson Family Funeral Directors welcomes Jonathan Branchett to the team as their new General Manager. This appointment will further allow their team of dedicated funeral directors to focus on caring for the families of those who have lost a loved one.

NMITE has announced the appointment of Terence Jagger, CBE as its new Chair of the Board of Trustees. He will take over from Dame Fiona Kendrick in April who has been Chair of NMITE since July 2017.


Jonathan Branchett, said: “I have received a warm welcome from everyone at Jackson Family Funeral Directors and already feel very much part of the team. The clear mindset to provide the best service to families in their darkest hour, is a culture that I was drawn to and wanted to be part of.”

Commenting on his appointment, Terence said: “I am delighted to be joining NMITE at this exciting time and working with the local community in Hereford to build a sustainable and growing institution. “We are coming out of Covid, and expecting our first students in the autumn, so this year sees this wonderfully innovative institution really start to deliver engineering degrees for young people and the UK economy.” Terence Jagger’s higher education experience will be of particular relevance to NMITE, coming from a small, specialist university which has recently built a new campus, key to the regeneration of an area of its city home, and focused on continuously updating and modernising its curriculum.

A University of Worcester lecturer has been chosen as an international academic ambassador to champion data literacy education for a global data analytics company. Richard Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in Computing, is one of only seven academics globally, and the only one from the UK, selected for Qlik’s Professor Ambassador Program. This is all part of the Qlik Academic Program and the company’s commitment to improving data literacy globally. Richard said: “It’s a great honour to be chosen and a great opportunity. I think that data literacy is something that any country that wants to do well in the world needs to invest in for its students and we have got a real opportunity to be at the forefront of this.” Richard’s ambassador role will involve attending and delivering webinars, running sessions and workshops, and supporting other UK educators, such as universities, new to the platform in how to use the programme.

Director of Jerroms Corporate Finance, David Fletcher

DAVID FLETCHER JOINS HOUSING ASSOCIATION APPOINTS ITS FIRST WELLBEING FUND JERROMS CORPORATE FINANCE PROJECT MANAGER Working alongside Managing Director Paul Heaven and the rest of the team, new Director David will focus on expanding the business’ portfolio across the Midlands and further afield. Prior to this, David had many years’ experience in small, medium and large companies in senior finance roles up to CFO.


A Midlands-based social landlord has announced the appointment of its first wellbeing manager. Platform Housing Group has appointed Emma Lloyd to head up its wellbeing fund.

David Fletcher, Director of Jerroms Corporate Finance, said: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Jerroms and very much look forward to working with and supporting individuals, clients and organisations across the region to achieve their commercial ambitions.”

Emma explained: “This is a really exciting opportunity for me both personally and professionally. Being involved in a project that is going to have such a positive impact on so many lives and communities is very humbling. I look forward to helping to resolve many of the issues that have been thrust upon so many due to the pandemic.”

Wellbeing Fund Project Manager, Emma Lloyd

May/June 2021


BRAND NEW FLEXIBLE APPROACH TO NURSERY CARE Broadheath Day Nursery is an exciting new nursery in Worcester offering 24-hour childcare. The nursery is open 24 hours a day and 52 weeks a year – including, by arrangement, at Christmas, New Year and on Bank Holidays. John McClay, Director of Animal Care and Control

TAKING CARE OF YOUR CANINE TRAINING NEEDS Director of Animal Care and Control, John McClay, has been working with service dogs in the civilian and the military sector since 1998. Over this time John has worked with and trained explosives and drugs detection dogs, general purpose security dogs and Association of Chief Police Officers ( ACPO) police dog handler trained and worked with service dogs internationally. Animal Care & Control deliver a number of Canine Training Courses to NASDU standards, but also bespoke training needs for individuals and companies. They are now also offering Animal First Aid Courses as an accredited Pro Training Centre, suitable for anyone from NASDU handlers and animal health care professionals to everyday pet owners. They also offer a range of Animal Containment Services.

They extend a helping hand to all parents, including those seeking funded childcare as well as those professionals who work as we sleep. The learning they offer satisfies all of the Early Years Foundation Stage criteria – and offer 15 hours of funded childcare to all eligible 2-year-olds and all 3 and 4-year-olds and 30 hours of funded childcare to all eligible 3 and 4-year-olds. The nursery can even provide breakfast and supper for your children – though, during the day, they will need to bring packed lunches with a water bottle, in line with current guidelines.

CRUCIALLY DIGITAL DARE TO BE DIFFERENT Crucially Digital LTD are experts in the field of digital signage solutions, from simple point of sale display and digital screens to fully bespoke interactive solutions, they provide a complete end to end service from concept to delivery. They are true digital signage architects and, in many cases, when “off the shelf” won’t do, they design and build innovative solutions from the ground up. Founded by an industry veteran, with over 28 years’ experience in the IT & Digital signage sector, They understand the value of long term partnership and work beyond the normal definition of supplier/customer relationship.

Animal Care and Control pride themselves on treating animals and people with humanity and respect, and this comes through in the training and handling provided.

They bring expertise, ideas and enthusiasm to every project, and understand customer behaviour and the technology available to engage and interact with them. They also have a track record as architects of new innovation and solution in the industry.

WORLD CLASS PARTICLE MONITORING SOLUTIONS Validair Monitoring Solutions Ltd (VMSL) are part of the wider Validair Group. They deliver market-leading monitoring systems, continuous particle monitoring software solutions and consultancy to customers throughout the UK and Ireland. Validair provide solutions for all sectors, including customers in healthcare, pharmaceutical and automotive.

VMSL specialises in the provision of world class bespoke monitoring and critical alarm systems, technical services that include on-site installation, and intelligent application support across a range of high-profile markets where environmental monitoring is mission critical and strong business relationships are essential.

As Channel Partners to industry-leading particle counter manufacturers and monitoring software platform developers, Validair has become the country’s premier system integrator.

Their expertise is centred on continuous environmental monitoring in clean and controlled environments. They operate in some of the most demanding and challenging industry

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

sectors from healthcare, life science and pharmaceutical manufacturing to automotive, aerospace and key defence organisations.




Never has International Marketing to take in such an environment where rapid responses are required, however, planning been as important for the reverse is true, and not just for larger future proofing a company’s businesses, but firms and organisations of potential or ongoing international all sizes. activities given the current SO WHY PLAN IN THE FIRST circumstances businesses find INSTANCE? themselves in - simultaneously A plan will create structure, order having to deal with the perfect and direction out of a chaotic, storm of EU Exit and a global even overwhelming (international) pandemic. business environment. When a plan is Both events have created and continue to create a myriad of significant and challenging international and global business environment variables and events which firms are having to manage and respond to and over which the company may have no control. The traditional view of planning as a very prescriptive, detailed process may seem to


subsequently communicated internally within a business, it will provide its employees with a sense of direction thereby more confidence in the company they are working for. A “live” plan enables the company, even a small or micro business, to continually re-focus on core objectives, its core competences and subsequent profit generation and not be distracted by external (and internal)

business challenges, opportunities and threats – it charts a course which can be continually referenced through turbulent waters. A plan will enable a better understanding of the shifting international business and competitive environment and as such how the business can look to compete effectively within it. A plan will identify risks facing the business and will enable a response to mitigate against the current and potential risks identified. A plan will outline a clearer understanding of the resources the business will need to commit over the short and the longer term. A plan will generate a clearer understanding of existing and new target markets, the competitive environment and any competitive threat.

May/June 2021

INTERNATIONALTRADE WHAT TYPE OF PLAN – PRESCRIPTIVE OR EMERGENT? Planning should be “emergent” as opposed to “prescriptive”, that is, it can and should be continually altered to align with the current business environment, be “live” and “current” and not a 30-page one off document that once written gathers virtual dust on a virtual shelf.

WHY AN INTERNATIONAL MARKETING PLAN? Firstly, a definition for the role of Marketing in a business: “Because the purpose of business is to create and keep customers. It has only two central functions – marketing and innovation. The basic function of marketing is to attract and retain customers at a profit” – Drucker:1963 Marketing, and by extension international marketing, is therefore imperative for business success because it is concerned with the creation and retention of customers – but only at a profit! International marketing planning thereby provides a process by which a business can: Analyse the international business environment it finds itself operating within and how to react to it. Analyse the firm’s own internal capabilities and resources with respect to its international development. Develop an understanding of where its competitive advantage lies versus that of its competition. Develop its international business objectives and aspirations to ensure they match core competences, resources and capability. Make decisions and decide upon courses of international marketing actions: segmentation, positioning and targeting, routes to market, pricing, promotion and marketing

communications – traditional and digital, new product development, language and culture requirements. For a company of any size, currently operating or intending to operate internationally, international marketing planning is part of a broader concept of strategic planning i.e. the fit between Marketing, Production, Finance and HR strategies and the environment with the aim of shaping/re-shaping a company so that its business and products meet international corporate objectives (profit, sales growth etc.) Crucially, an international marketing plan manages the interface between the company and the international market/ client and the international business environment. At its simplest level, the role of the international marketing plan is to ensure that the marketing mix for the product/service matches (constantly changing) international customer needs as well as seeking opportunities to use a company’s strengths to market and sell other products in new markets – international or domestic.

SUMMARY The development of an International Marketing plan, however lengthy (2 or 20 pages), is anything but prescriptive, but should be emergent and live, current and proactive. It provides the dual purpose of both future proofing a firm’s international competitive advantage in its chosen markets (and by extension the company’s ability to make profits) as well as being a key internal reference document that is continually in touch with and responding to its market during ongoing, continual periods of international business environment change.

Because the purpose of business is to create and keep customers. It has only two central functions – marketing and innovation. The basic function of marketing is to attract and retain customers at a profit Drucker:1963

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

EU EXIT AND THE TRADE CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT (TCA) Support and Guidance from the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce On New Year’s Eve 2020 at 23:00 GMT, the UK completed its separation from the EU, left the Single European Market and Customs Union and became a “third country”. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was concluded on 24 December and contains new rules for living, working and trading with the EU. From cars to chemicals and fish, the new treaty will govern £650bn worth of trade between UK and EU. The deal covers technical aspects of trade for key sectors, including autos, chemicals, pharmaceutical and professional services as well as a governance mechanism to resolve disputes that may arise between the two sides. As a result of the above, companies of all sizes, from across multiple industry sectors have had to face and continue to face significant changes in how they do business as exporters or as importers from the EU. Whether you are ensuring your business is up to date with the latest developments, reviewing your export procedures or need support with international trade finance, businesses can access a range of courses delivered by professional and highly qualified trainers. Please contact the International Trade Teams at the Chamber for information about the (virtual) EU-Exit focused International Training courses and new Chamber Customs Declaration service the Chamber are delivering to support companies manage and navigate these changes. Alternatively, if your company has any general or specific queries about EU trade, please also get in touch for one to one advice and guidance or for further signposting to up to date sources of relevant information. Please contact internationaltrade@ hwchamber or visit the EU Exit Support Hub eu-exit-hub for more information and guidance.


IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME TO CONSIDER A VIRTUAL CIO / IT DIRECTOR? To help answer this question it’s important to clarify what actually is the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Information Technology (IT) Director. The CIO or IT Director is usually the most senior IT member of a business responsible for the management, implementation, and usability of information and computer technologies, but on a part time basis, sometimes only a couple of days a month. In recent times this role has evolved not only to be responsible for the current state IT systems but also to define and lead the IT strategy of a business. It is important that the IT strategy aligns to deliver the business goals, ensuring that IT systems are fit for the present but also ready to support the future state of the business. Therefore, this individual will be the executive interface for IT into the business and be responsible for identifying IT trends that should be adopted by the business. Many businesses are not of a sufficient size or do not have the requirement for a

full time CIO or IT Director. Though they still can realise the benefits of this role by appointing a Virtual CIO / IT Director. Some of the benefits of using a Virtual CIO / IT Director service are: The ability to utilise the knowledge and experience of a CIO / IT Director without the cost of a full time position. “On-Tap” resource, with the ability to flex usage up and down dependant on requirements and budget. Access to a CIO / IT Director with real life experience of developing IT strategy, building business cases, delivering IT transformation programmes / projects and managing 3rd party IT and software vendors. Some of the services that a Virtual CIO / IT Director can help deliver are: Production or maintenance of an IT Strategy IT representation at a board level / facilitated board discussions. IT, data, software and disaster recovery strategies.

Creation or assistance with IT business cases. IT Risk management and mitigation. External compliance. Managing 3rd party IT suppliers and software vendors. For more information on our Virtual CIO / IT Director service please contact Sean Devlin on or call 01905 794 504

DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP TEAM TO THRIVE AS THE UK ADAPTS TO BREXIT AND THE POST PANDEMIC PERIOD? 2020 & 2021 will likely be the most challenging two years that businesses have faced in recent history. The combination of the pandemic and the UK leaving the EU has kept many of us awake at night as we plan how to survive, adapt and thrive. Rapid growth can be equally as challenging as a severe downturn in activity. Ensuring you have the right strategy, resources and energy to meet those challenges is essential for all businesses. Keeping your customers, and staff happy can be significantly easier to manage if you have a great leadership team in place! The team at T2M Resourcing have over 60 years cumulative expertise in recruiting proven business leaders who have the right professional and interpersonal skills to take your business forward. Here’s what Craig (Finance Director and joint CEO of a leading Worcestershire manufacturing group) had to say about how we support his business: “The shortlists have always been of a quality to enable the recruitment process


to move forwards without the need to go back to market. A number of my most trusted and reliable senior management have come via T2M”. Here are some of the senior appointments T2M have made in the past 12 months: Managing Director – Growing SAAS business Finance Director – Manufacturing group HR Director – Support services company Chief Technology Officer – UK leader in critical services Head of Service Delivery – AIM listed group You can be assured of a highly professional, discreet and tailored search campaign to target and attract the best talent to join your management team when you work with T2M. In addition to a comprehensive recruitment process we also offer free psychometric, critical thinking and technical tests as appropriate. We can also provide ‘on boarding support’ from taking references to providing mentoring support, utilising our extensive network of senior professionals.

Whether you are looking to appoint permanent or interim professionals into your leadership team, please call Steve Randall, Managing Director, at any time on 07412 786686 or email Steve@ and we can arrange a meeting (virtual or in person) to discuss your requirements.

May/June 2021

CREATING A CLEARING IN A WORLD OF UNCERTAINTY Most executives in most businesses are experiencing more uncertainty and more complexity each and every day, uncertainty and complexity that challenges performance and productivity, in new ways and in new levels of intensity. This is a challenging business landscape for any leader to navigate. I believe the antidote to these challenges is a situationally focused, more productive, more resilient leadership at executive and senior leadership levels across and within our businesses and organisations. My name is Alan Clark and I am an executive coach with 25 years of senior corporate leadership, coaching experience and insight. I am hugely passionate about helping leaders and businesses to navigate their situational uncertainty and complexity, creating desired levels of change, value,

productivity and outcomes for themselves and their customers. My clients tell me that one of the most valuable aspects about working with me is the space that I create for them. A space to be, a space to think, a space to talk and a space to create from. Creating a clearing (like a clearing in a forest) allows for extraordinary levels of clarity, and it is this level of clarity that is the starting point to overcome uncertainty and complexity in any situation. I create bespoke executive coaching and leadership development experiences for executives and senior leaders, experiences designed to create clearings, clarity and change.

performance, colleague engagement and customer astonishment and this is why leadership is a huge passion for me and my company Exponential Coaching Ltd. And the really great news? Leadership, thankfully can be developed! I would love to have more conversations about the power and possibility of leadership If you would like to discover more about the development experiences that I provide then please reach out to myself, Alan Clark by email or mobile on 07824 837636, or go to my website

Each development experience is bespoke and unique - I specialise in 1-2-1 executive coaching, team coaching, and executive and senior leadership development programmes and creating high performing cultures. I can create an optimal mix of experience for my clients. Leadership really is at the core of company culture, operational delivery, financial

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce


Helping you build a stronger, healthier business

As a Chambers of Commerce member, if you take out small business healthcare cover with us, you’ll get: 50% off your Chamber of Commerce membership for three years.1 Up to 50% off an annual PureGym membership for all of your team, not just those covered by a healthcare plan 2

To find out more about our offer for Chambers of Commerce members, visit or call us on 0800 389 7413† and mention that you’re a Chamber member

† Lines are open 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday. We may record and/or monitor calls for quality assurance, training and as a record of our conversation. 1Direct new customers only. 50% off up to a value of £125 per employee covered, per year, for up to three years. See website for more: 2 Available to members, dependents aged 16 on their membership, and employees of clients of AXA Health. Up to 50% discount off an annual membership is based on PureGym’s non-promotional monthly price x 12. For terms, visit:

British Chambers of Commerce Limited is an introducer appointed representative of AXA PPP healthcare Limited. AXA Health is a trading name of AXA PPP healthcare Limited, authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Services purchased in addition to your insurance cover are not regulated either by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. The private healthcare insurance plans are underwritten by AXA PPP healthcare Limited. Registered office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0BG. Registered in England and Wales number 3148119. Write to us at: AXA Health, Phillips House, Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2PL.


May/June 2021


Emma Seaton (L) and Robert Pelc (R)

Sharp Windows Collaboration Display

mfg Consultant Solicitor James Ng



Two ecologists at Focus Environmental Consultants have successfully applied to upgrade their membership of their professional body, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

The pandemic has changed the workplace environment and progressive businesses will use technology to take advantage of this post-pandemic environment rather than try to return to the way they were.


Robert Pelc's membership has been upgraded to Associate meaning Robert has demonstrated that he can work confidently and consistently well without supervision on increasingly complex projects. Emma Seaton has been awarded full membership of CIEEM. To obtain this level of membership, Emma has demonstrated that she has a high degree of knowledge, experience and skills and can carry out complex, specialist and non-standard tasks confidently and consistently. Director of Focus Environmental Consultants, Fern Fellowes-Day, said: “At Focus Environmental Consultants we recognise that our employees are our greatest asset and accept our responsibility to ensure they develop throughout their employment. “We work closely with our ecologists to ensure they aim for the highest CIEEM membership level possible. We are very proud of Emma and Robert’s accomplishment and congratulate them on their hard work to achieve their upgrades.”

Ken Taylor, Sales Director at Clarity Solutions, supplier of multifunctional printers and hybrid office technology, is excited by the accelerated adoption of interactive big screens to enable effective collaboration and creativity. Products like Sharp’s Windows Collaboration Display facilitate video conferencing at room scale so those working remotely still feel part of the team in the office. Forward-thinking businesses who use this technology will benefit from increased employee wellbeing due to flexible working, be able to retain valuable team members and recruit from a wider geographical area, and therefore a greater talent pool if employees are not required to attend the office daily.

Chamber Patrons mfg Solicitors have strengthened its commercial litigation offering with the appointment of a Consultant Solicitor. Respected dispute resolution specialist James Ng has joined mfg and will play a key role in leading the firm’s growth across the region. James is handling a variety of corporate, commercial and property matters, whilst also developing the firm’s litigation offering in the automotive, engineering and franchising sectors. An accredited International Commercial Mediator who spent part of his 22-year career in the Far East, James will also offer an expert dispute resolution and risk management service for firms doing business in China and East Asia. Tom Esler, Partner at mfg Solicitors, said: “James is a tremendous addition to our team and the firm as a whole. He brings truly international credentials and a first-rate reputation and is already making an impact with our new and existing clients.”

REFUSE COLLECTION MANUFACTURER URGES LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO ‘HIT THE RESET BUTTON’ IN A BID TO HELP UK REACH NET ZERO Gone are the days of ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to refuse collection; for FAUN Zoeller Ltd (FZUK) success revolves around The Rotopress, a waste collection vehicle that, thanks to its unique rotating drum principle makes it the most economical refuse vehicle on the market. FZUK, based in Redditch, is interested in developing long term strategic partnerships with Local Authorities that share their ambition to reach net zero in line with the government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution. Simon Hyde, Managing Director, said: “We are encouraging Local Authorities (LA’s)

to ‘hit the reset button’ when it comes to the environment, local transport, the waste strategy and the funding constraints for the public sector. “Whilst we are a commercial organisation, we are not the type of business just interested in selling. We are encouraging LA’s to consider a longer-term collaborative approach and engage with us constructively through data driven analysis on a long-term project.” The Rotopress is a modern version of the original RCV which uses a rotating drum to compact material, making it a profitable, hygienic, manoeuvrable and

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

environmentally friendly option to the traditional hydraulic design.

The Rotopress waste collection vehicle




January/February 2019


HOSPICE JUBILANT AS MAJOR NEW BUILD COMPLETED St Richard’s Hospice is celebrating the completion of a £5.2m building project and giving ‘a huge thank you’ to kind-hearted supporters who helped make the vision become a reality. The charity embarked on the Build 2020 Appeal to grow hospice care for Worcestershire three years ago and construction work was able to continue throughout the pandemic with Covid-secure measures in place.

Ormerod accountants raising money for cancer research

LOCAL ACCOUNTING FIRM WALK 3,692 KILOMETRES TO RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH 11 employees at a local accounting firm have walked a total of 4,844,227 steps during their lunch break and after work to raise money for Cancer Research. Droitwich based Accounting firm, Ormerod Rutter have raised £2,212 for Cancer Research as staff took on the Walk all Over Cancer Challenge in March. “So many people are affected by cancer, and we think it’s important to continue to raise awareness and support cancer research.” Begins Jo Purser, Tax Manager. When asked if they will continue to walk to the same extent at the end of March, all have said that they will keep it up, with each of them saying how much it has benefited their fitness and mental health. “On behalf of the Partners at Ormerod Rutter, we would like to express our pride at the effort that our colleagues have gone to in completing this challenge. They are a credit to the firm and the people that they’re walking in memory of.” Commented Julian Dyer, Partner. If you would like to donate to the Ormerod Rutter Just Giving Page, go to: team/ormerod-rutter.

St Richard’s Hospice Fundraising Director, Tricia Cavell, said: “Although the pandemic has caused financial challenges as fundraising events were cancelled and our shops temporarily closed in lockdowns, we were very fortunate that the money needed to complete the build project was secured and committed before the impact of Covid-19. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated to our appeal; it was incredible how everyone came together to raise the funds we needed.” The bigger, multi-purpose spaces will mean St Richard’s can support more patients and their families and offer a

Hospice Chief Executive June Patel and John Bawden outgoing Chair of Governors at St Richard’s in The Green

wider choice of activities to help people manage their illness. Currently most of the out-patient care and support is provided virtually over the phone and by video call and face-to-face where essential to ensure the hospice team is there for those who need them most. St Richard’s Hospice cares for adults with a serious progressive illness, improving their quality of life from diagnosis, during treatment and to their last days. It also supports their loved ones.

SUPPORT FOR WORCESTER FOODBANK FOLLOWING EGG-CELLENT AWARDS RESPONSE Last month, ISO Quality Services announced the return of their popular Good Egg Awards which received an egg-cellent response, helping to support the Worcester Foodbank. The ISO Providers based in Worcester, first launched the Good Egg Awards back in 2018 to recognise those who have gone above and beyond for their organisations. After a difficult 12 months, it seems more businesses than ever wanted to recognise their employees and they received 59 nominations, their highest number to date. As with previous years, for every nomination received an Easter Egg would be donated to a chosen charity. This year they chose to continue their support for Worcester Foodbank and thanks to the businesses who got involved, they were able to donate over 50 Easter eggs, that will be distributed to families across the city.

the demand for their services growing throughout the pandemic, they need more support than ever, and we are pleased to offer any help we can.” Ruth Allsopp, Operations Coordinator at Worcester Foodbank, adds: “We are so pleased to have been recognised as part of ISO Quality Services’ Good Egg Awards. We love to see the smiles on our clients faces when we offer them Easter Eggs, and would like to say a huge thank you to ISO Quality Services for their continued support and generosity.”

Director, Jennifer Appleton, comments: “We have been supporting Worcester Foodbank for a number of years. With

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



GROWING IT FIRM APPOINTS NEW SENIOR ENGINEER Chamber Member Surf Tech IT are proud to announce the arrival of Stephen Palmer, Senior IT Engineer, bolstering the technical expertise within the company as it continues on it’s growth trajectory. Bringing with him a wealth of experience in the IT industry, Stephen has worked in senior IT roles across the West Midlands including Acora and Indestructible Paint. L-R Mrs Olivera Raraty, Headmistress, Miss Keri Haw & Mrs Zinnia Wilkinson

MALVERN ST JAMES GIRLS’ SCHOOL SCOOPS PIONEERING MENTAL HEALTH AWARD A Worcestershire school has achieved the School Mental Health Award which is delivered by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools. Malvern St James Girls’ School (MSJ) were awarded a Gold standard for its outstanding mental health and well-being provision. MSJ provides a wide range of activities to boost the well-being of pupils and staff, including offering youth mental health first aid training to a cross section of staff and Sixth Form, well-being champions and well-being ambassador peer support structures for staff and pupils, mindfulness, mental health and well-being lessons. Using the Girls on Board Scheme, pupils are taught how to engage in healthy, happy friendships as well as how to manage the ways in which these inevitably change over time. Malvern St James Girls’ School Headmistress, Olivera Raraty, said: “I am extremely proud and delighted that MSJ’s outstanding pastoral provision in support of positive mental health has been recognised in this way.” “This award also recognises the excellent way that staff and pupils support each other day in, day out, to promote well-being.” Nationally, more than 900 schools have signed up to take part in the mental health award.


seconds, making sure no one in need has to go without. Surf Tech IT are looking forward to supporting Stephen in his charitable venture.

Outside of work Stephen has utilized his IT skills to set up and develop the next generation in food banks servicing South Birmingham and Solihull. Starting as a friendly helping hand during lockdown the food bank known as Essentials Delivery, now supports approximately 200 families a week. The emergency food packages are delivered to the door via a team of 35 volunteers. By utilising his passion for technology, Stephen has streamlined the referral process from over a week into just 30

Stephen Palmer, Senior IT Engineer

HERE2HELP GRADUATE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME Several graduates have been hired in recent months thanks to grants from Worcestershire County Council that were launched to help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19. Among those graduates is Emily Bratt, who recently received a first-class degree in Geography from the University of Worcester and has since been hired by local tech start-up, DronePrep. Despite needing Emily’s skills, the DronePrep team could not afford to employ her full time until they discovered Worcestershire County Council’s Here2Help Graduate Development grant. The company was awarded £10,000 which has resulted in Emily being offered a full-time position.

Claire Owen, Co-founder of DronePrep, said: “We knew Emily would be a valuable asset to our company but as a very early stage start-up we wouldn’t have been able to offer her full-time employment without the support from Worcestershire County Council. Emily is a perfect fit for our company, and we are incredibly grateful for the timing of the grant.” The Graduate Development grant is one of many initiatives run by Worcestershire County Council’s Here2Help Business Programme. Eligibility criteria applies. Find out more by visiting the website: www.worcestershire. develop_-_graduate_programme.

May/June 2021


BREDENBURY Minibike Tyres Tyre Distribution

BROMSGROVE Elitescribe Ltd Transcription Services Smile Box Gift Packages

CHELTENHAM Rebecca Ingram Coaching Business Coaching

DROITWICH Dragonfly Pilates with Amy Pilates Classes


Court Enforcement Services Ltd High Court Enforcement CZ Languages Language Services Essdee Art & Craft Supplies Garrett Learning Training

MALVERN Cotswold Bio Fuels Ltd Biomass Woodfuel The Bray Partnership Sales & Marketing


Horiba Test Automation Ltd Automotive Development Kinubi Audio Ltd Electronics Love Where You Live Online Business Platform Shining Victory Consulting Limited Consulting Three Counties Electrical Electronics Treasured Grave Care Care


WFA Sports Facilities Limited Sports Facilities

Kirkden-Smith Assistant & Lifestyle Manager Odeferus Limited Fragrances & Perfumes



Crucially Digital Ltd Digital Signage

Urban Environmental Consultancy Ltd Environmental Planning Specialists



Sheldon Bosley Knight Estate Agents


Broadheath Day Nursery Nursery

Infinity Digital Agency Ltd Digital Marketing & PR

Emporium of Health Nutrition & Wellbeing

Silo Digital Marketing & Advertising


TENBURY WELLS HBVA Services Virtual PA Services

Wheatfield Consulting Ltd Business Consultancy Worcester Wheels Community Transport Charity

WYCHAVON ChoColours Food Production

OUT OF AREA SMK Digital Ltd Software Services Food Recruit Ltd Food & Drink

Parker Newton Ltd Farming Romy-Wrays Childrens Clothing & Blankets

KIDDERMINSTER Breakwells Transport Ltd Road Haulage & Logistics

Business Direction published by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce



PRESENTEEISM POST-COVID: CAN WE AFFORD TO BE OFF WORK? Sickness rates among UK employees have been steadily declining over the past couple of decades – and now the average figure stands at just 4.4 days per person each year. At first glance, this is great news for employers; but then when we consider the rise in presenteeism over the same period, it’s clear the overall health of the nation hasn’t dramatically improved. Instead, the drop in sickness rates seems to be explainable, at least in part, by employees continuing to work even though they’re not well. With 84% of us reporting we’d work while feeling unwell and the widespread disruption Coronavirus has caused to every single workplace, it’s an important issue which the team at Paycare, Health Cash Plan and Wellbeing Training provider, are keen to get employers talking about.

MONEY TALKS: Discussions about presenteeism and money often centre around the cost to UK businesses – an estimated £15.1billion each year in lost productivity. But there is another side which needs to be a focus too: the financial reasons why employees would continue working even if they felt physically or mentally unwell. One in six companies reduce a staff member’s wages down to statutory sick pay (SSP) levels after four days of sickness, and 43% of workers will be switched to SSP once they’ve been off work for two weeks. There are over 1 million UK workers on zero-hour contracts who would need to have earned an average of £120 a week for the previous eight weeks to qualify for SSP – leaving them vulnerable to earning nothing at all for the duration of their time off, if this doesn’t apply. Around 15% of the workforce is self-employed, meaning they don’t qualify for SSP either. While there is additional support available for some (such as a mortgage holiday, or benefits to temporarily cover their rent and council tax payments), it’s clear that the maths just doesn’t add up for workers who still need to pay bills, look after their families, and buy essentials such as food


and toiletries while they’re unwell. Over 8 million adults live alone in the UK and millions more are the sole working adult in their households, meaning they wouldn’t have another wage to rely on if they were switched to SSP while off work. One in ten of us have no savings at all, and a third have less than £600 saved. Essentially, this means millions of workers making an impossible decision between struggling on knowing they are not physically or mentally able to carry out their work to the best of their ability, or facing a huge temporary drop in income.

THE REPERCUSSIONS: As well as the prospect of reduced or no income, employees also report a fear of losing their job if they take time off. Employers should consider whether your duties are contributing to your illness if you’re off work long-term; but being on sick leave doesn’t prevent you from being dismissed from your job. In addition, there is sadly still a belief among some managers that presenteeism is necessary in order to get ahead and seek promotions (although this is reducing as a result of the rise in flexible working during the pandemic, according to a recent study). It’s telling that 55% of respondents in Paycare’s recent LinkedIn poll about presenteeism reported they had attended work while unwell because they felt pressured to do so; a further 27% said they were sometimes reluctant to report being

unwell to their managers, leaving only 18% who had taken time off when needed.

WHAT CAN BUSINESSES DO? Fear of losing out financially if they don’t work through illness - whether short-term through reduced pay, or long-term through fewer promotion opportunities – is clearly having an impact when it comes to presenteeism. But the good news is that employers can influence this. Here are Paycare’s top five tips to help fight the rise of presenteeism. Having a clear sickness policy – only 4% of workers currently know how much they’d be paid in SSP. Implementing a wellbeing strategy – every £1 invested in employee mental health brings in £5 in reduced presenteeism, absence and staff turnover. Provide access to a GP app and/or an Employee Assistance Programme. A Health Cash Plan helps employees claim cash back on a range of everyday treatments and healthcare needs. Reduce the stress: 10% of staff don’t take time off because of pressure from their employer and almost a third say they have too much work. Paycare is running a series of virtual Mental Health First Aid training opportunities for employers who are keen to support their team’s wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond – find out more about the courses at

May/June 2021

Future Workspaces What is the future of the office?

When Covid 19 restrictions ease, millions of people will be returning to offices that are no longer fit for purpose.

We say it’s time to throw out the traditional office blueprint - rows of desks with people glued to their keyboards, email and landlines. What we need from offices is human connectivity - a space for the kind of work we can’t do by ourselves when working remotely. Employers must adapt to get the best out of people when they come together. How will we work in the future? Join the conversation at

Anthony Goodfellow, Head of Real Estate, Hereford & Wye Valley M: 07890 625 146 I E: @HCRlaw #futureworkspaces Harrison Clark Rickerbys Ltd is authorised and regulated by the SRA



OF THE GOVERNMENT APPRENTICE SHIP INCENTIVE You now have until September 2021 to take advantage of the increased Government incentive payment, available to all employers who hire a new apprentice. Age Of New Apprentice

Incentive Payment



This payment will be in addition to the existing £1,000 incentive payment that the Government already provides for new apprentices aged between 16-18, and those aged under 25 with an Education Health Care Plan, where that applies. WCG Apprenticeships are the only training provider in Worcestershire to offer apprenticeships in the following areas:

• • • •

• Horticulture Inc. Golf

Agriculture Animal Care Arboriculture Equine

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Greenkeeping & Sports Turf Land-based Engineering Veterinary Nursing

Contact our Business Development team who will be able to help you negotiate the incentive so that it can benefit you in the best way possible: