BUSINESSEDGE The magazine of Sussex Enterprise
Will international trade continue to drive growth? Surmounting challenges presented by the world of business Getting involved with local charities and the community
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Financial Year End looming? Spend your Training Budget this year or lose it next year.
De-Mystifying Safety in the workplace
I think we all know that a lot of the bad press that comes out about Health & Safety is generated by people that cannot be bothered to deal with issues and manage them correctly. It is easier to blame “Health & Safety” and get something stopped rather than actually manage it in a sensible way. Whether it be the head teacher banning conkers in the playground or a business owner banning Christmas decorations in the ofﬁce. This is what the HSE have to say about some of these daft decisions. And they are doing something about it too.
Common Sense: The HSE is there to help your business and believe it or not they do have a sense of humour Check out Myth of the month www.hse.gov.uk/myth/mythofthemonth.htm
Here is the conﬁrmation that this is happening:
An amusing take on some of these ridiculous myths that are killing our spirit.
Myth Busters Challenge Panel
Let’s help them out and get some common sense back in our lives.
“Health and Safety” is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop “what are essentially sensible activities going ahead”.
At Miris training we have a great new product for businesses. Health & Safety Awareness training:
The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel - to scrutinize such decisions.
3 modules each lasting about 25 mins, Ofﬁce Safety Awareness, Fire Safety Awareness and Manual Handling.
The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair Judith Hackitt, with HSE Board member Robin Dahlberg as the Vice-Chair and they are supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, trade unions, the insurance industry and many outside interests where day-to-day common sense decisions on risk management are made.
Run on an e-learning platform, so everyone can be trained without leaving their desk
This Panel will look into complaints regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. We want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives. If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can complain to the panel. It will investigate and publish its ﬁndings on the HSE website
A test at the end of each module to measure understanding and a Certiﬁcate issued. Your staff will be trained and you will have peace of mind that you are legally covered. Just imagine the cost and time savings for your business. Miris Training can also offer Management training, for you, your managers, supervisors and team leaders to help you manage Health & Safety effectively.
De-mystify Health and Safety. Talk to Jane Brann at Miris Training – no obligation.
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www.miris-training.co.uk Read the blog www.miris-training.co.uk/blog
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Economic Overview Upfront Upfront World View Opinion Policy News BCC Focus Ask the Expert Spotlight On… The Steam Room Start Ups
Contacts Business Edge is a Sussex Enterprise publication. If you have any stories you would like to tell us about or any comments please drop us an email at email@example.com
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Retail Crime Cover Feature Upfront Premier Members View Events Member Benefits MP View New Members The Last Word
We turn our attention to the retail sector for this issue of Business Edge. Our high streets should be the ‘lifeblood of local communities’, says the British Chambers of Commerce’s Director General, John Longworth, and he looks at the recommendations put forward by Mary Portas. We hear from the British Retail Consortium’s Director General, Stephen Roberts, about retail crime and their latest campaign. We speak to husband and wife team Nick and Miranda Alderton about their business success story - West Sussex fashion company Peter Christian. Finally, we hear from the The Disabilities Trust about the benefits of companies getting involved with local charities and the community. Once again, thank you for all the great news stories and please do keep sending them. We are always looking for exciting news stories from our Members. So, if you have anything you would like to tell us, please email businessedgeenquiries@ sussexenterprise.co.uk. Our next issue is due out at the end of July looking at the Creative Industries. We look forward to hearing from you.
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Will the Olympics make a difference? Spring is firmly with us, the Chancellor set out his help for the business community a couple of months ago, business confidence is beginning to grow, interest rates are low AND the Olympics is now weeks away. The big question is how much impact this will have on your confidence. Business confidence has been growing steadily over the last six months. It is still very fragile and cautiously optimistic. If China or the USA goes Boo loudly then the UK will jump and panic. That would lead to another recession. This is unlikely. The Eurozone now seems to have calmed itself and growth in China, India, South America and much of Asia is running at 5%+. On top of this the USA seems to have returned to consistent growth. Despite these positive signs the UK consumer is still very cautious about spending and when we do spend we are driving an incredibly hard bargain. That means while sales are growing they are doing so slowly and profit margins are very thin. What is needed is a boost to consumer confidence. Not to reflate the
economy with us all going mad and borrowing money, but slow sustainable growth. The Jubilee produced a small boost, but the Olympics will generate confidence and self belief (on the assumption that we deliver on the promises we have made) that will turn into confidence about the future and encourage us all to release the purse strings just a little. This in turn will encourage businesses to invest and then we have an upward spiral. The recovery of the economy over the next few years is all about confidence. As is the performance of our Olympians in July. Without that confidence they will not perform. Will Rebecca Adlington win in the pool if she does not believe that she will win. At that level there is a fine line between success and failure. At the moment the economy is very close to
that tipping point of self belief. The Olympics might just push us over and mean that we have a cautious self confidence about the next year. So cheer on Rebecca Addlington, Chris Hoy and Ben Ainslie and all our other competitors. We have some very good chances of medals.
Team Pursuit Gold Medal at the World Track Cycling Championships in April
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Charity challenge success More than 40 staff from Sussex accountancy firm Knill James spent the day volunteering with local charities, to celebrate the firm’s 125th birthday. One team worked at Raystede animal sanctuary in Ringmer, racing against the clock to wood stain the goat shed, aviary fencing, rabbit hutches, the small animal house and field shelters. Another team took on the tough task of digging
Crawley-based Elekta sparks job creation in U.K.
Elekta, a global medical technology company dedicated to oncology and neuroscience clinical advancements, is seeking to fill about 80 new positions at its Crawley plant. Recently, the company announced it had achieved CE Marking for a new cancer treatment innovation called Agility™, a revolutionary new form of multi-leaf collimator, a device that precisely shapes radiation beams to tumour targets. These new technical positions at Elekta will support the manufacturing and further refinement of this novel cancer treatment technology, and reinforces the U.K.’s goals of increasing scientific innovation and employment opportunities. Elekta’s Crawley plant workforce has risen from 400 to 680 since 2009 and, in the U.K. supply chain, Elekta supports approximately 1,000 manufacturing jobs.
over and levelling the ground, laying shingle and painting fencing in preparation for a mural and garden area to improve the entrance area of The Bevern Trust, a home supporting young people with profound learning disabilities and their families, based in Barcombe.
The third team took on a manual and marketing challenge on behalf of Furniture Now!, which collects donated furniture and household effects and makes them as low cost as possible for people in need in Sussex. They helped paint the charity’s Training Centre and supported them by using their social media and marketing skills to increase the amount of traffic to their facebook page facebook.com/ Furniture.Now.charity. Kevin Powell, Joint Senior Partner of Knill James, said: “It is quite a feat to keep a business successful, prosperous and growing through 125 years and we want to mark the occasion with something really significant. We hired an independent employee volunteering expert to set up this project professionally and to find worthy projects, so that the whole firm could play a part in doing something really useful for charities, giving back to our local community.” All the charities were delighted with the accountancy team’s work and Anne McCawley, Operations Manager at Raystede, said: “For a charity like ours, which relies entirely on charitable donations, we really welcome extra support from good local businesses who want to help us make a difference.” Find out more about Knill James at www.knilljames.co.uk
Exceptional tutor honoured Helen Yates, a work-based assessor in the retail and business team from Sussex Downs College, was named as national Lion Award tutor of the year by City & Guilds. This year’s Lion Awards ceremony was held at London’s Roundhouse to celebrate the country’s most inspiring achievers who have accomplished extraordinary results through practical learning. Helen also received a Medal for Excellence for her outstanding performance in Level 3 Certificate in Retail (Management) quality and credit framework (QCF).The City and Guilds Medals for Excellence have been awarded for more than 100 years and aims to acknowledge exceptional talent amongst both learners and tutors. Melanie Hunt, Principal and Chief Executive said: “This is excellent news, my congratulations to Helen and the team. The awards reflect her hard work and passion for delivering learning and vocational qualifications in the workplace.” Helen said: “In my role, the most satisfying aspect is being able to help other people achieve better prospects, gaining employment and opportunities within their employment.”
From left to right - Melanie Hunt Principal and Chief Executive, Helen Yates and Fran Ludford
Sussex Downs College is a long established provider of training qualifications including apprenticeships. For more information, call 0845 2302 007 or email Employertraining@sussexdowns.ac.uk
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FOCUS ON SECURITY SYSTEMS
Premier integrated Security Systems a
DankoSec Limited have been in the Security Installations industry for FEATURE over 26 years working with many major blue chip companies in and around the London and South East Areas and have seen many changes in this time, primarily with the advent and use of IP Ethernet Technology being integrated into Security System Communications and most recently with the introduction of High Definition (HD) Megapixel Technology for CCTV. With offices located in Crawley West Sussex, they are within easy reach of the Greater London area including the M25 corridor and the South East and have technicians strategically placed and offer full support packages for all clients. DankoSec are a premier integrated Security Systems company specialising in on-line computerised Card Access Control Systems, Closed Circuit Television Systems, remotely monitored Intruder Alarm Systems and Automated Vehicle Barriers with ANPR for both business and corporate clients. DankoSec technical project and support staff are continually trained ensuring they provide their customers with the highest professional level of service and support. Intense product evaluation and technical training are amongst their highest priorities and their continued growth to date has been by repeat business, ongoing referrals and recommendation. To ensure their client’s systems are used to their full potential, DankoSec provides an
in-depth and comprehensive operator training programme during the commissioning period of all new systems. Ongoing client training programmes are offered to ensure the system operators are proficient and the system remains effective. As part of their maintenance commitment, comprehensive Operator Manuals detailing equipment locations, operation procedures, maintenance procedures and emergency maintenance contact details are provided. As Managing Director Steven Danko states:-“All our customers have access to our Emergency Callout Service which operates 24 hours per day and 365 days per year.We have vast experience working with many of the leading UK equipment suppliers and will only specify and install equipment that meets our high standards so that systems will not be problematic for the end user. For us it makes no sense in installing poor quality and cheaper equipment to increase profit margins if you are possibly going to have to return to site
to replace it, not least letting the client down.This is one of the issues we sometimes hear from new clients where they have previously been sold a system that doesn’t perform to their expectations. Not only do we pre build systems in house, but we actively invite our clients to our product demonstration room at our offices, to view and have demonstrated any products they may be interested in before any kind of commitment, a try before you buy! Where possible systems are also pre-programmed with the clients site information and database requirements.We are honest, open and informative to our clients at each stage during product installations and take great pride in our work and love what we do”. DankoSec are a Quality Management Systems company accredited to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 for the “Provision of Installation and Maintenance of Security Systems”. Which has been as a result of many months of hard work by their team and shows real commitment and work ethos ensuring they are providing the highest levels of care and support required and expected for their clients. They also hold accreditations with Safe Contractor and the NSI National Security Inspectorate (formerly NACOSS). DankoSec also provides tailored maintenance packages for both existing and new customers. If you would like a maintenance cost comparison or a general discussion about your security requirements, DankoSec can be contacted on 0845 226 2266 or Enquiries@DankoSec.com
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Accountants take to the European stage
Accolade for company Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd (ETI) has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade. The company was set up by Peter Webb and his wife, Miriam, in 1983 and is the UK’s leader in the manufacture and design of electronic thermometers and temperature probes. Its award represents a significant achievement for ETI, which sells more than one million thermometers every year; making it the UK’s largest digital thermometer manufacturer and exporter.
Two Sussex accountants represented the UK at a prestigious international seminar in Brussels, speaking to top young tax and audit professionals from ten European countries. Knill James partners David Martin and Suzanne Craig gave an interactive presentation at a seminar hosted by IAPA, the global association of independent accountancy and business advisory firms, sharing their expertise in international financial reporting.
When Edwina Currie made her now infamous remarks about salmonella in eggs in 1988, it was the end of her Cabinet career. However, for ETI it led to overnight success; the company immediately saw turnover rocket from £1million to £3million. The new food hygiene regulations that followed the scandal meant that supermarkets and the catering industry needed reliable and accurate instruments to measure temperature when handling, preparing or storing food.
David said: “It’s critically important when dealing with international businesses to understand local accounting conventions as well as those required for international reporting. In fact, it is vital to the success of doing business abroad.
As a result ETI has seen continued growth, despite the recent economic downturn, with an annual turnover in 2011 of more than £7million. Over the past five years, ETI's worldwide export sales have increased by over 90%, with their main export markets being the USA, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“Despite a lot of pressure for and work on harmonisation – some of it going back over 20 years – there are significant differences between local accounting conventions and international reporting. Businesses – and their advisors – get this wrong at their peril.”
Peter Webb, Managing Director of Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd, said, "Receiving a Queen's Award for Enterprise is a great honour for the company and I am personally immensely proud. The award recognises the achievements
and the hard work and dedication undertaken by all of our team. “By keeping our manufacturing and Research & Development in the UK we have been able to support our local economy whilst successfully growing the business. “I am a great advocate of British manufacturing. We make many fantastic products in this country, which is a fact often overlooked.”
Barclays offers cashback loan under National Loan Guarantee Scheme Barclays has launched the Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme for small and medium sized businesses, which takes advantage of the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS) launched by the Chancellor. Under the Barclays scheme, SMEs who take out a loan will receive the full benefit of the NLGS discount immediately in the form of an upfront cashback. This calculated as one percentage point discount on their loan
price over the first five years. Steve Cooper, Managing Director at Barclays, said: “By giving our customers the full benefit of the NLGS on day one, they receive a lump sum of cash which they can put to use immediately to grow their business. “We think this is more useful than drip feeding the value over the lifetime of a loan. SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and we’re
delighted to be part of a scheme that means we can offer this new initiative to our customers.” Further information is available at www.barclayscorporate.com/nlgs Information about NLGS is on www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/nlgs
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Will international trade continue to drive growth? While the domestic market may remain difficult more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are taking advantage of the opportunities presented by trading internationally. In times like these, we have to be realistic about the economy but many commentators believe it is international trade that will continue to drive growth. Before becoming involved in international trade, like all business decisions companies need a clear idea why they are doing it and what they want to achieve. It could be to access a better value supplier, find new customers or there could be a number of other reasons for looking at global markets. Once a business has decided that international trade is the way forward then the next thing to look at is which markets are right for the business. In 2012, the top trading nation will remain the USA. It alone accounts for some $2.64 trillion in trade value, although China is rapidly closing the gap. These are however not the only markets and new areas are opening up, with Egypt, India,Vietnam, China and Brazil driving growth as they industrialise rapidly. UK businesses should be encouraged to continue to look for future opportunities outside of our natural trade partners in Europe. Checking that the correct skills are in place within the business is critical. These may include things such as appropriate languages and familiarity with foreign currencies. If the business doesnâ€™t currently have this knowledge then they may need to find external help to support them. Looking for funding to move into export markets should be treated the same as any application for funding with businesses concentrating on five key areas: n A strong business plan. n Realistic budgets and forecasts using last yearâ€™s figures. n Demonstrating good cashflow management skills.
n Being transparent about why funding is needed and how it will help the business to grow. n The lynchpin of accessing finance is seeking professional advice. Having a strong working relationship with your relationship manager at your bank is a good starting point. There are always possible risks while exporting including the time it takes to complete a sale or receive a payment, differences in regulation and differences in business practices. Research and preparation are the best ways to be prepared for any possible dangers. Much of the research needed has already been done by banks like HSBC, accountants, lawyers and organisations like UKTI, speaking to them as a first port of call is a good idea. There are also a range of
financial products that help companies manage some risks, such as invoice finance and using foreign currency accounts. As far as tackling credit risk is concerned there are options for companies trading internationally. Some companies expect payment before exporting, others use bank guarantees or give open-account terms. There is a case to be made for letter of credit, still used across the world to facilitate most trade. The final piece of advice for businesses looking to trade globally is to go out and talk to people who are already doing it and those people that have expertise through an established international network.
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It’s going to be a bumpy ride for retailers The UK retail market is entering a period of fundamental change in response to the end of the consumer-fuelled economic boom of the last decade. In the ten years up to 2007, households extracted £315 billion in cash from the equity in their houses [mortgage equity withdrawal] to fund consumption. This sum represents 70% of the total increase in UK GDP over that period. It represents one of the greatest debt fuelled consumer booms in UK history. Since then, £104 billion has been repaid by households and individuals in an effort to reduce this debt burden but it may take “five to seven years before personal debt is under control thus acting as a brake on consumption”. Of the £302bn spent at the shops in 2010, more than half [£163bn] is classed by analysts as ‘indulgence’ spending and is therefore vulnerable in a downturn. The retail boom is well and truly over. Recession and the ensuing austerity promises to draw a brutal dividing line down the high street, with the weak on one side and the strong on the other. Well-capitalised retailers with strong brands are expected to fare better during the tough times ahead as weaker competitors fall by the wayside. Small independent retailers tend not to be well-capitalised and, although they
have loyal local clientele, they tend not have strong brands. Small retailers face particular problems not just linked to their lack of capital reserves and patchy support from their banks. Many are reluctant to get professional representation for rent reviews and are consequently at the mercy of their landlords. Many do not understand the review process and are unaware that a proposed rent increase at review has to be supported by evidence from similar properties in the same street or immediate area. The blind acceptance of the landlord’s demands sets a precedent for future reviews often leading to a series of increases that effectively price smaller players out of the market. Because they are based on rental values this also leads to an increase in business rates. Also, many of the independent retail businesses do not have an e-commerce web presence to complement their high street presence. Online transactions now account for 14% of all purchases and this is growing steadily year-on-year.Various Internet-enabled business models have emerged. Among
those, the integration of the internet channel into traditional retail, the so-called “clicks-and-mortar” business model, is increasingly important. Online sales can play a major role in compensating for reduced footfall in city centres and there is a school of thought that suggests that the internet, combined with rapid home delivery of goods, could revolutionise bricks-and-mortar shops effectively turning them into showrooms with minimal stock holding on site. Mary Portas’ recent review of the UK High Street hit some nails on the head but missed others. Business Improvement Districts [BIDs] are definitely the way forward; Town Teams aren’t. Lower car parking charges may help a few places but probably not if they just increase congestion. The dreaded upward only rent review clause is a barrier to sustainability but it has been for the past 50 years and no one has managed to get rid of it so far. In conclusion: it’s going to be a bumpy ride for retailers. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
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PORTSMOUTH BUSINESS SCHOOL
My MBA opened doors worldwide After a 20-year career in dressmaking Sarah Miles wanted a change. She signed up for the Master in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Portsmouth Business School and a few years on, she is now running a two-year project with the UK market leader for humidification and studying part-time for a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA). Sarah said: “I discovered I really loved the academic challenge and business in general. It’s great being with young people too. It was incredibly interesting to be mixing with fellow students from all sorts of different industries and from all over the world.” Sarah now works for JS Humidifiers running a two-year knowledge transfer project in connection with the University of Portsmouth.
“When I gave up dressmaking I wanted to do something entirely different and I was really lucky I could, as it changed my life.” “The MBA gave me a real breadth of experience – I learnt about operations, marketing and finance and strengthened my business skills. Undertaking the MBA with students from all over the world has widened my networks and created global business links. “The company I work for exports to the Middle East and as a result of the MBA I have a number of contacts in the United Arab Emirates, which have proved extremely valuable.” To find out more about courses offered at the Portsmouth Business School come along to the next postgraduate open evening on June 19, 2012. See www.sharpenyourcompetitiveedge.com for details.
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Sussex Enterprise’s Reaction to the Queen’s Speech New measures designed to boost economic growth have been outlined in the Queen’s Speech. The ramifications of the speech will be felt by business in the months and years to come. We look at a few key measures for business in the Speech and what will be their likely impact. Regulation and Red Tape (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill) Legislation will be introduced to reduce burdens on business by repealing unnecessary legislation and to limit the number of inspections of businesses. Sussex Enterprise reaction: We welcome the commitment to reduce red tape and its burden on business. For example, the promise to limit the number of inspections on business will help reduce the amount of time businesses spend on compliance and will undoubtedly be welcomed. But we are sceptical as we have heard all this before, the proof of the pudding ....
Employment Tribunals (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill) The Government has promised to reform the tribunal system which is well overdue. It
proposes the introduction of fees for claimants and to help ensure that there are less ‘false’ claims. Sussex Enterprise reaction: Definitely a step in the right direction to reform the Employment Tribunal system. Members tell us they are put off hiring because of the current Tribunal system – we must now see that these new fees result in a fall in the number of vexatious cases.
Flexible Working (Children and Families Bill) The Government has decided to expand the right for ALL employees to request flexible working and not just those with children under the age of 17 years. Sussex Enterprise reaction: There is no need for this new regulation. Companies are already agreeing flexible working with employees on an informal basis. The Government ignored the message from business that no new additional regulation was necessary.
Shared Parental Leave (Children and Families Bill) Measures will be proposed to make parental leave more flexible so both parents may share parenting responsibilities and balance family and work commitments. Sussex Enterprise reaction: A complex new system of shared parental leave is not welcomed by businesses. They may now be exposed to more appeals and legal challenges – an ineffective use of business time when the Government is asking companies to generate growth and jobs! This is a snap-shot of the key measures that will impact on businesses but, as always, it takes a while for the Bill’s to wind their way through Parliament. It would be sometime before we see any real changes. Don’t hold your breath!
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High streets need help to become the lifeblood of local communities
Businesses play an important role in local communities, and high street retailers are no different. They give jobs to local people, provide important services and economic vitality for many areas across the UK and are often at the heart of local communities. If businesses in high streets are able to expand and develop their premises more easily, and attract more customers, then they can help towns and cities flourish, and in turn contribute to the economic recovery.
Earlier this year, retail expert, Mary Portas, made 28 recommendations to the government in an attempt to revive Britain’s high streets, with the government claiming it has accepted ‘virtually all’ of them.The raft of measures included making parking more affordable, calling for councils to use more discretion when applying business rates, particularly for start up companies, and cutting back on red tape.The BCC came out in full support of these measures, as they will help to relieve the pressures felt by many hard working retailers who are currently being hit by a weak economy, the increase in online shopping, competition from major national retailers, hikes in energy and food costs and a fall in consumer spending. Research shows that consumer spend away from the high street is now more than 50 percent, and town centre vacancy rates have doubled in the last two years. Other factors to create a better business environment for these companies should be considered too, such as ensuring credit-worthy firms can access finance as and when they need to, which will enable them to grow. But these pressures are unlikely to be alleviated in the short-term.The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that inflation stands at 3.5 per cent and that average earnings are at 1.1 per cent. In other words, the pound in the pocket of the average person can buy less, and while the economy continues to struggle, unemployment remains high, and the level of price rises takes time to fall, retailers will have to operate in a tough environment. Equally, the online revolution continues apace with internet sales growing by more than 15 per cent every year.This shows the need for new, innovative ideas to generate activity and regeneration in areas that are declining.The recommendations put forward by Mary Portas will go a long way to solving
many of these problems, but they must be put into action quickly to ensure the situation gets better, not worse. The government can still help with conventional levers though. If it wants to see businesses flourish and create much-needed economic growth and jobs, it should look to reverse the highly damaging business rate rise on UK firms. Business rates are a significant barrier for many companies, with retailers being among the hardest hit.The 5.6 percent increase in rates which was imposed earlier this month is pegged to last September’s peak inflation figure, and will be punishing for
the retail sector in particular. It is illogical for any government to beg hard-working businesses to grow on the one hand, while making it harder for them to do so by raising their tax bill on the other. High streets should be lively, dynamic places that are the lifeblood of local communities.This can only happen if the government gets behind them, and gives them the right incentives to invest and grow so they can become the new and sustainable high streets of the future. John Longworth, Director General at the British Chambers of Commerce
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ASK THE EXPERT
Each edition we ask a panel of experts for the answer to issues that are challenging you. This time, it is Graham Prince, Senior Partner, Neva Consultants, and Tania Woodward, HR Consultant at Sussex Enterprise.
Are you aware of your Health & Safety obligations and your Duty of Care for employees using vehicles for business purposes?
All organisations that have five or more employees, that use a vehicle for business purposes, regardless whether they are company or personally owned, need to be able to demonstrate they have met minimum standards for their Duty of Care of employees, thus businesses must have a Corporate Risk Assessment System for managing their road risk. Before an employee drives on behalf of a business, the Company must be able to prove that they have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure that the vehicle and driver were ‘fit’ for the role they were asked to fulfil, along with an audit trail confirming this process has been managed. In launching our Fleet Management System, which enables fleets to electronically store this
information, to our clients we have discovered many anomalies. Possibly the most extreme being an employee driving an HGV where his Licence only entitled him to drive Cars and LCVs. Effectively the driver had been operating the vehicle illegally and thus uninsured, simply because the Director’s hadn’t checked his licence! The implications of this, had there been an accident, would result in the Company Directors being charged – possibly under the Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2008… Copies of the employee’s driving licence, checked on a regular basis, along with confirmation that the individual is correctly insured for business use need to be stored, additionally, regular physical checks on vehicles should be conducted and clearly documented to demonstrate that the vehicles are in a roadworthy condition – i.e. ensuring MOT, service history, RFL, tyres, lights,
general condition etc. are all in order. For further information contact Neva Consultants LLP on 01825 720925 or visit www.neva-consultants.com
Can you explain what the new Employment legislation on unfair dismissal means for employers please?
Employees whose employment begins on or after 6 April 2012 will usually need to complete two years’ service with the employer before they can claim unfair dismissal. I will briefly explain what employers need to know about this change and how the qualifying period works in practice.
characteristics stated in the Equality Act from day one of employment with the company.
If an employee starts work for an employer on or after 6 April, he or she will not be able to claim unfair dismissal if he or she is dismissed within the first two years of the employment. This change to the law does not work retrospectively, the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims increases from one year to two years on 6 April 2012, but only for employees whose employment begins on or after that date.
n Maternity leave, parental leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or time off for dependants;
The requirement for one year’s continuous employment will continue to apply to employees who have been employed since before 6 April 2012, until there is a break in their continuity of employment.
n Making a public interest disclosure (ie whistleblowing);
However this is still not the case for discrimination, an employee can still claim discrimination on the grounds of the protected
This is not an exhaustive list, there are other circumstances in which a dismissal is automatically unfair, please contact me for more
Also in certain circumstances employees do not need the qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal these are as follows which are set out in s.108(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. n Pregnancy;
details if you would like this information or have any other HR questions or queries relating to this or anything else you need advice on. For further information, please contact Tania on 07545 942751 or email Tania.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sussexenterprise.co.uk/hr-advice
n Health and safety, such as reporting a health and safety risk or acting as a health and safety representative; n Working time, such as refusing to opt out of the 48-hour week;
n The national minimum wage; n Trade union membership or activities. Tania Woodward
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Exciting times ahead as Bexhill s Bexhill is a growing town and a lot of work is under way to ensure that its businesses can handle the challenges that come with an increasing population.
pproximately 90,000 people live in Rother, many dispersed across the rural area, but nearly half are in Bexhill.
Bexhill is the largest settlement in Rother district and after Hastings and Eastbourne, the
third largest in East Sussex. It has a population of around 43, 500, and whilst it has a high proportion of the elderly, who are attracted by its peace and quiet, it is also home to many small local businesses. Bexhill is due to expand significantly, with 1,200 new homes and ½ million square feet of commercial floorspace planned to the north east of the town, accessed by the Bexhill-Hastings
Link Road which recently received confirmation of Government funding. Within the town centre, Rother District Council has been working towards fostering a closer relationship with town centre stakeholders, most especially retailers. It is one of the council’s principal objectives to strengthen the identity of Bexhill and to cement a reputation as one of the most attractive places to live on the south coast. Recent years have seen significant investment by the Council in the town, including a new and updated seafront, an extended Bexhill Museum and the refurbishment of nearby Egerton Park. On the seafront is the modernist De La Warr Pavilion, which following refurbishment now enjoys an international reputation as a contemporary arts venue, recent exhibitions include the likes of Anthony Gormley, Grayson Perry and Andy Warhol. This summer, the Pavilion will see a full-sized replica coach balanced on its rooftop. Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got A Great Idea… by Richard Wilson forms part of the London 2012 Festival, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. Last year, Rother District Council set up a steering group to focus attention on the town centre itself and to develop a strategy for the long term. In July 2011, the Council invited town centre retailers to a series of workshops to talk about trading conditions in the town and to share ideas about the future of the town centre. Following the workshops, the retailers formed a group of their own in, September 2011, to encourage as many businesses as possible to work together to increase footfall, improve profit margins and contribute to the economic growth of the town centre. They have recently submitted a bid to receive a share of the £1,000,000 the Government has promised to 12 towns who will make up the Portas Pilot Schemes. The town was unsuccessful in the first round of awards. There are also moves afoot to establish a regular Farmer’s Market, let by a recently-formed Bexhill Farmers Market Association. One of the Bexhill Traders supporting the initiatives is Hillary Randall, who runs Silver Nutmeg, a small retail jewellery business.
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ill seeks to establish its identity She said: “Bexhill town centre still has small premises which suit small businesses like mine and it is possible to have a small workshop and a small retail space. However, the local market is small, so like many local businesses I use the internet to give me access to a wider market. “Bexhill Traders Group is an informal but active group of businesses in the town centre. We have arranged events in the town and really launched ourselves with the Christmas Festive Fun Day in December. “Since then, we have organised an exhibition in Bexhill Library of work done by local artisans, an Easter fun day and a shop local awareness campaign. We have also produced a free shopping map, listing 53 supporting businesses which is available in more than 50 shops in the town and also the Library, the De La Warr Pavilion and in the guest houses. “Part of the Bid is to help shoppers and other visitors to find their way around the town and from the seafront into the shopping centre.We have asked for signage to address a need here but, importantly, we have asked for improvements to the road crossing situation at the sea front near to the De La Warr Pavilion. “What has been the most important gain for the group from all our activities is the strong links that we have now forged with other groups in the community and also with Rother District Council members and officers. We have also raised the profile of Bexhill generally and of the town centre with local shoppers and visitors.”
Mike Lynott, who runs second hand bookshop Bestsellers in St Leonards Road, is another of the Bexhill Traders. He set up five years ago and said: “I was working and living in Scotland - I have been a shop manager for most of my career and I wanted to move so I drove around Britain looking for somewhere and visited Bexhill after visiting family in Essex. “I liked it partly because it did not really have many of the large chains here. I think they kill off an area. I liked the town as well. “I think we need a focus for the town which is why we support more regular events. Events keep people coming into the town centre. People can lose interest so things have to keep happening.”
Improving the road network Bexhill is approached via trunk road access from the A21 and A22 to the north and the A27/A259 coast road, and rail access by similar routes. One hundred hectares of land have been identified for a major urban extension to the north east of Bexhill for mixed use allocation opening up the area for expansion and providing new housing, businesses and jobs which will impact on town centre and retail usage. Rother was pleased to receive news of the Government’s decision to fund the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. Work progresses on environmental studies and early consideration of the development of a new business park.
A Caring Way of Life Peterhouse is a comprehensive retirement complex that is planned to meet a range of care needs on the one site. Situated in beautiful award winning gardens in the Old Town of Bexhill, we offer a variety of purposebuilt accomodation and facilities which include: The Peterhouse Day Centre Independent Supported Living in our rented sheltered housing flats (open to those who have links to the advertising and communications industry) l Residential and Nursing Care with qualified nurses on duty 24 hours a day l l
www.peterhousecare.com For further information:
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