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businessmatters Quarterly Magazine of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce

Chamber News


The Big Interview


GDP Revision Shows Need for a Long Term Strategy for Growth

Quietly confident despite the faltering recovery

Patrons News

Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme

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Karalius Brothers Ltd., is a family run business operating in the North West for more than 50 years, specialising in the processing of all industrial generated scrap metals. We package our finished product for direct shipment to various customers in UK and worldwide.

Services Karalius Brothers buy and sell ferrous and non-ferrous metals, skip hire, site clearance and demolition, also re-usable stainless steel tanks, vessels and valves etc. Karalius Brothers are a member of the British Scrap Federation and Federation of Small Businesses. You are most welcome to bring your metal and vehicles to our four acre site where you will be greeted by our friendly and helpful staff and find ample parking facilities. Alternatively we our happy to deliver a free skip and collect at your convenience. If you have a vehicle which you wish to dispose of ..make us your choice. We are authorised to dispose of end of life vehicles and we are there to deal with your paperwork. you are guaranteed a fast effecient service and the best prices. We constantly strive to improve our service making us the most popular choice throughout the North West.and beyond. We have recently been rewarded for our diligence by becoming the winners of the 2012 chamber Environmental awards. We now have state of the art facilities for testing nickle alloys on site drastically cutting the waiting time on metal valuations

Tanks/Vessels/Pipes Re-Usables

Non-Ferrous Metals

We have various Stainless Steel tanks to offer and with stock changing on a regular basis there is usually something for all purposes. Most tanks are from our own dismantling contracts and are clean and free from residues. Please phone or email with your requirements.

We carry large stocks of non-ferrous metals and are always in the market for materials such as Copper, Brass, Gun Metal, Bronzes, Stainless, Nickels and Alloys. These materials are sorted weighed and labelled on site ready for further processing.Ferrous Metals Iron and Steel.

Licensing Karalius Brothers Ltd., is a fully licensed waste recycler and are regulated by the environmental agency. In addition we are licensed waste carriers and brokers, allowing us to transport waste ourselves and offer a brokerage service for companies to carry waste on our behalf, to our site. Copies or our licences are available on request.

Satisfied customers are essential to our service business and its growth. Our Company is renowned for its level of service, pricing and product quality. Karalius Bros Waste Ltd, Oakley House, Dennis Road, Widnes Waterfront Business Park, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 OYQ Tel: 0151 420 6060 | Fax: 0151 257 8988 | |

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businessmatters West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce Riverside Innovation Centre, Castle Drive Chester CH1 1SL Telephone 01244 669988 Fax 01244 669989






33 Registered Company No. 173634

Contributing Editor John Dean & Francis Griss

Production & Design Distinctive Publishing 8th Floor, Aidan House, Sunderland Road, Gateshead NE8 3HU Telephone 0845 884 2384

Advertising Telephone 0845 887 3815

Disclaimer Distinctive Publishing or West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies that may occur, individual products or services advertised or late entries. No part of this publication may be reproduced or scanned without prior written permission of the publishers and West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.

CONTENTS 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 13 15


18 22 24 26 29 30 31 32 34


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Making the most of what you have is one of the most overt themes across all walks of life at the moment. Whether you’re a sole trader or a major corporation, everyone is looking for ways to tighten their belts and exploit their best skills or features. Membership with West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is no exception. Whilst joining us will help improve your profile and ‘bottom line’ through extensive, free, networking and training opportunities, there’s a host of other benefits like health plans, legal advice and even roadside assistance that often get overlooked.

Healthy Diet, Healthy Workforce

To help, we’ve included a comprehensive guide in this edition of Business Matters. Don’t forget though, by visiting the Member Benefits section of our website www.wcnwchamber., you can also see the special offers provided by fellow members. One of the biggest benefits of Chamber membership has always been the half price discount we’ve offered on export documents. Export has been big news recently, with politicians and business figures battling to be the next to highlight its benefits… it should come as no surprise though that together with the British Chambers of Commerce we’ve been championing international trade for years and will soon be launching a qualification to help you do business around the world even more successfully. During the spring we gave Chamber training a lick of paint, in partnership with our colleagues at the University of Chester’s Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC) and our patrons, Cheshire West and Chester Council. Courses on a range of business topics, from human resources to public relations and marketing are being held regularly at the RIC and are free for Chamber members and non-members alike; check out training for more information. We were also delighted to welcome banking firm Barclays as our latest patron members in April, joining the Council and commercial law firm Hill Dickinson. We enjoy fantastic relationships with all our patrons and look forward to developing with and learning from Barclays over the next year. As ever we’ve got a packed calendar of free events for you to attend over the coming months. As ever our monthly networking event the Business Social will take place on the first Thursday of every month between 4pm and 6pm at the RIC, giving you the opportunity to meet other regional businesses in a relaxed environment. We’re also looking forward to one of the biggest highlights on the Chamber’s social calendar, the Summer Cocktail Party at the Eaton Estate, Chester on July 11th; full details can be found later in the magazine. Best wishes,

Colin Brew General Manager


With a recent Department of Work and Pensions survey of employees identifying depression, anxiety and ‘bad nerves’ as the leading causes of illness, mental health is increasingly becoming a key staff issue for employers. Many elements of a person’s lifestyle can contribute to their overall health and wellbeing; and eating certain types of food can impact on the likelihood of a person suffering from depression, according to two separate studies. Recently published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition, one study showed that people who often ate hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who rarely or never ate them. A second study by researchers in Australia revealed women who reduce the amount of red meat they eat are also more at risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. Those who ate less than the recommended amount of red meat were twice as likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders. The Confederation of British Industry’s 2011 poll reported that 61% of all long term absences (20 working days a year or more), as well as nearly half (46%) of short term absences, were caused by mental ill health, including depression. Confidential counselling services have long been considered to be effective in the treatment of mental health disorders. Counselling gives people the opportunity to talk openly about their concerns, therefore helping

to tackle the root cause of their stress; whether it is work-related or a personal issue. Westfield Health’s Chamber Primary Health Plan, which is available to all members of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, offers employees a full confidential counselling service, which includes a freephone 24 hour counselling and advice line. The service provides access to a team of qualified professionals who are available to help at any time, 365 days of the year. All calls made to the helpline are confidential and the caller may choose to remain anonymous, which can be an important factor in giving someone the confidence to make their first call. As well as the helpline, employees also have access to up to six face to face counselling sessions or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions. CBT can help to treat a variety of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, trauma, panic attacks, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorders and some eating disorders. For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit or call 0845 602 1629, available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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GDP Revision Shows Need for a Long Term Strategy for Growth says BCC UK GDP for Q1 2012: -0.3% on the quarter, -0.1% on the year. Commenting on the revised gross domestic product (GDP) figure published in May by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The revised GDP figure of -0.3% for the first quarter of the year underlines the need for the government to implement a bold, long-term strategy for growth. Over the past quarter, business surveys have shown that companies are more optimistic than many of the economic indicators suggest. Many of our members tell us they don’t identify with such pessimistic statistics and are cautiously optimistic. “Deficit reduction is crucial to our economy, but there are measures that the government can take to free up business to grow. Firms need to see real deregulation, improved access to finance through the creation of a statebacked business bank, robust infrastructure like transport and energy networks, and ways to help them take on more staff. Reforms to planning rules promised in Westminster must make it out to the real world so businesses can expand.

“Now is not the time for short-term politics. Now is the time for a bold, enterprise-friendly government to enable business to grow in the long-term, and squeeze every drop of potential growth from companies across the country. Without this, the economy will continue to bump along the bottom rather than returning to growth. “Businesses don’t need hand outs; they need a government that will facilitate growth and address market failures where they exist, for example in access to finance. If the government wants businesses to invest and grow at a time of global uncertainty, it needs to generate stability and a better business environment at home by setting business free.” David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “The revision of GDP from -0.2% to -0.3% is disappointing but hasn’t come as a huge surprise. The fall in output from the erratic construction sector was even bigger than originally thought, and this is acting as a drag on growth. Consumer spending rose slightly but total capital investment fell, with an increase in business investment and

a drop in government investment. The figures also show that imports increased more than exports. However, fundamental doubts about the accuracy of the ONS’s estimates persist. Virtually every business survey has indicated positive growth in the economy in the first quarter. Furthermore, the ONS’s own labour market figures have shown an increase in employment and a 0.9% increase in the actual number of hours worked, which makes a quarterly fall in GDP difficult to comprehend. It is possible that the GDP estimate will be revised upwards later in the year. “The main priority is to minimise any damage to business confidence at a time when the eurozone crisis continues to put the UK economy at risk. Regardless of views surrounding the ONS estimate, it is clear that economic growth remains much too low and priorities within the government’s spending envelope should be reallocated. That means more infrastructure spending, cutting red tape and encouraging businesses to boost exports and job creation. While the deficit reduction plan must remain on course, forceful measures are needed to increase the flow of lending to credit-worthy businesses so the private sector can drive recovery.”

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Positive Results from Q1 2012 The DHL/British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Trade Confidence Index (TCI) is a measure of the UK’s exporting health. By analysing trends in trading activity and key factors of exporting firms’ performance, the TCI gives a comprehensive picture of the UK’s internationally trading business community. The index casts new light on exporters’ levels of confidence and employment intentions and paints a picture of regional exporting performance. n The export sales indicator rose to its highest level since Q4 2010 n Three out of four firm size categories reported reduced pressure to raise prices from raw material costs. In 2011 the Trade Confidence Index reported on a gradual decline in the prospects for UK exporters, with the seemingly positive signs of 2010 erased over the course of last year, as inflationary pressures and the problems within the Eurozone impacted upon confidence and slowed activity. The first quarter of 2012 provides some grounds for optimism, as most key indicators have improved on the final three months of 2011. In particular, export sales and orders strengthened (orders saw an increase after four consecutive quarters of declines) and the expectation to raise prices fell. However, there were still obvious challenges facing firms trading overseas, the most prominent and persistent being that of weak cashflow positions. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why there has been a shift in momentum, the Q4 2011 fieldwork was conducted against a backdrop of question marks hanging over Eurozone bailout funds and political upheaval in both Italy and Greece; the Q1 2012 fieldwork was performed following an agreement having been reached with Greece’s private creditors on a debt write down and signals that the European Central Bank’s attempts to prevent a liquidity crisis had been a relative success. This, along with easing cost pressures, is a plausible explanation as to why firms recorded a pick-up in activity. It’s too early to say whether or not that the results provide a basis for UK firms improve over the course of this year, or whether it is a false dawn in a patchy and inconsistent economic recovery. Either way, and despite the Government making progress in offering support where it can to UK firms selling overseas, more can certainly be done.


While the skills deficiencies of the UK workforce are often discussed as a barrier to business growth, the problem is even more pronounced amongst UK exporters, and the government can and should, do more to address this skills gap. It can do so through the following interventions: n Incentivise the take-up of trade training: The government could consider financial incentives for non-exporting businesses that train up their existing staff to export, such as a guarantee of support for a first trade mission or a reduced rate of tax on early exporting profits n Put commercial export skills at the core of business training; understanding of the commercial aspects of exporting must be embedded in higher and further education courses. Business degrees and further education qualifications focused on commercial subjects must include compulsory modules on international trade and exports so that incoming commercial staff are export-ready as they enter the workforce over the next two to five years n Export sales indicator rises to its highest level since the last three months of 2010 n The proportion of firms stating their cash flow position has remained the same is the highest in the series history, yet the indicator is still weak n Manufacturers drive the price balance down, suggesting an easing of cost pressures. John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce said: “The last Trade Confidence Index did give indications that exporters were expecting a more positive performance this year and this has been borne out in reality. The business activity measures of export orders and sales have risen strongly and documentation returns are the highest on record. Given a difficult 2011 for many businesses, this report presents a positive message of increased international trade. “Nevertheless, it is important that we do not take our eye off the ball when it comes to maintaining the UK’s position as a strong trading nation, and we have used this quarter’s results to highlight potential solutions to the skills deficiencies related to exporting that do need addressing. Only by looking at

international trade from every possible angle now will we have the building blocks for a vibrant exporting community in the future.” Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland said: “Both export sales and orders have strengthened within the first quarter of 2012, an increase after four consecutive

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Trade Confidence Index

quarters of decline. Other key performance indicators such as cash flow suggest that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the face of fluctuating financial conditions within the Eurozone, those British companies reaching out to international markets outside of the EU are thriving.

“Millions of people in the emerging markets are hungry for quality British goods and services. Thanks to digital technology and modern delivery networks, we can reach them faster and more easily than ever before.

the world. If we’re to rebalance the country’s economy through exporting, there should be no limit to our ambition in the global marketplace.”

“As a nation of ‘digital shopkeepers’, we must continue to showcase our wares to the rest of

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existing commercial concern; whatever their aspirations and whatever their size. Based together at the Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC), a team of experts delivers direct access and referrals to business support, as appropriate. By working collaboratively, the various agencies can develop the specialist resources on offer to business and avoid duplication. Paul Kirkbright, Director of the RIC, said: “The fragmented approach, following the demise of institutions such as the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Business Link, inspired us to come up with a totally new concept. We realised there was great potential to work together and offer an holistic and coordinated service from one place that could help both new and existing businesses to develop and grow.”

Business @ RIC Ready for Action Chester is now home to an ambitious ‘one stop’ business support hub for organisations across the region. For the first time a single venue offers a full range of services, in a collaboration between Cheshire West and Chester Council, the University of Chester and the Chamber.

Through a pilot project, Business @RIC provides dedicated business support to help enterprising people to develop an idea into a business proposition, start a company, or expand an

Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration added: “At a time when many of the central government business support products have been scaled down, the three partners are developing a proactive solution to supporting business from one single source.” Colin Brew, General Manager of the Chamber said: "We’re delighted to be working with its partners within the University of Chester and Cheshire West and Chester to offer a range of business support services which shall provide the local business community a one stop focal point for all their individual requirements." Initially a number of business support providers will offer support from the RIC, including advice on starting a business, developing social media and exporting. More services are likely to offer support, coordinated by the Centre, from other locations across the Borough in the forthcoming months.

Chamber Training has Changed! April marked the momentous launch of the Chamber’s new look training portfolio. Run in partnership between the Chamber, the University of Chester’s Riverside Innovation Centre and Cheshire West and Chester Council, a host of free courses will be held every month for Chamber members and nonmembers alike. Courses will be held at the Riverside Innovation Centre and cover a broad range of subjects including sustainable energy for sustainable


business, ‘mosaic’ marketing and consumer psychology, search engine optimisation and smartphone application development. The training portfolio is part of the ‘Business @ RIC’ collaboration, which aims to bring dedicated business support to help enterprising people to develop an idea into a business proposition, start a company, or expand an existing commercial concern; whatever their aspirations and whatever their size.

something for everyone; an exciting prospect for people across West Cheshire and North Wales.”

Colin Brew, General Manager of the Chamber said: “We’re delighted to be embarking on this exciting partnership to provide a new look, fresh training programme. Looking at just the first programme, you can see there’s truly

All courses are listed in the training section of the Chamber’s website at To book a place, call 01244 515500 or email hello@

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Proposed Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 A proposal and an underlying policy of recovering costs for the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) intervention through the introduction of fees where there is a material breach of health and safety law has been agreed by government. Health and safety inspections and incident investigations are performed by both HSE and local authorities. The proposal outlined is that fees for intervention would only apply to the activity undertaken by HSE and would not apply to the activity undertaken by local authority officers. It very likely that the legislation will be framed in such a way as empower HSE to calculate their input costs and levy charges, (bill) directly much in the same way as the Environment Agency has the power to make the polluters pay clean-up costs. Any fines imposed by the courts following any action would be separate. It should be noted that with the duty being proposed, HSE would not have discretion on whether to apply fee for intervention. HSE would have a legal duty to recover the cost of its intervention activity where there is a material breach of health and safety law. Costs would be recovered from the start of the intervention during which the material breach was identified up to and including the point where intervention in relation to that breach had been concluded. In addition to the initial intervention, the costs are anticipated to include any related follow up interventions (eg site visits, phone calls), the provision of any specialist assistance needed, the costs of writing letters and reports and drafting and issuing Improvement or prohibition notices. If the duty holder has breached health and safety law and a requirement to rectify the breach is formally made in writing (eg by way of improvement and prohibition notices, electronic mail or letter), HSE would recover all of the costs of that intervention. This is to be known as fee for intervention (FFI).

Kames Capital Invests in Deansgate In addition to the initial intervention, the costs are anticipated to include any related follow up interventions (eg site visits, phone calls), the provision of any specialist assistance needed, the costs of writing letters and reports and drafting and issuing improvement or prohibition notices. No areas of industry will be exempted from maintaining good standards of health and safety. Employers, who do not take seriously the protection of their employees, or those affected by their work activities, will still face intervention by HSE. Compliant duty holders would pay nothing nor would duty holders in technical (non material) breach of the law. Discussions are still taking place on the technical details of the scheme, which are expected to conclude soon. Therefore, FFI was not be introduced in April 2012 as first intended but at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be October 2012. The full text of the Consultative Documents can be viewed and downloaded from http://bit. ly/JI9HJG.


Estimated Averaged Costs Recovered

An averaged hourly fee is estimated to be:

Approximately £133

Inspection with no action taken:

No costs will be recovered

Inspection which results in a letter:

Approximately £750

Inspection resulting in an Enforcement Notice:

Approximately £1500


Ranging from approximately £750 through to several thousands of pounds to in extreme cases, tens of thousands of pounds

Powell Williams has been appointed to manage the refurbishment of 28,406 square foot of 201 Deansgate in Manchester. The contract will be delivered from Powell Williams Chester office on behalf of the landlord, Kames Capital. The five storey office block will undergo refurbishment of two vacant floors of office space, common areas as well as replacement of the buildings central air conditioning chillers and BMS system. The works estimated to cost £1.5m will commence in August 2012 with completion expected in December 2012. The upgrade is the latest phase of works from Powell Williams which has been involved with the building over a number of years. As specialist building consultants, Powell Williams originally advised Kames Capital on dilapidations and approved tenants fit out. John Benham of Kames Capital said: “201 Deansgate is an important asset in our portfolio with a proven track record in attracting and retaining high quality tenants. The investment will help to maintain its established reputation in the market place as a prime, Grade A office building offering fantastic floor plates.” Martin Hunt, partner for Powell Williams Chester office said: “This is a great commercial property located between the established Central Business District and the Spinningfields regeneration zone, offering great floor plates in a central location. Following the corporate failure of a previous tenant from two floors we have the opportunity to undertake significant refurbishment works and create a space which can make its mark in the competitive Manchester marketplace.”

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Chamber Membership Lets You Do So Much! So you’ve become a member of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce! We’re delighted to have you as part of the organisation. As a business support body, we’ve been helping firms across the region for more than 90 years through events, training, lobbying and our international trade expertise. But did you know your membership lets you do so much more? Obviously, the main benefits for you and our hundreds of other members are: n Attend unlimited, free networking and training events every year n Be a part of ‘the ultimate business network’ locally, regionally and nationally n Showcase your business through our website, monthly newsletter and this magazine n 50% discount on all export documentation. But becoming a Chamber member also gives you access to a host of other discounts and benefits from partner organisations, as well as deals organised by fellow members. You can now access:

Connect Card As a member you should’ve already received your Connect Card (let us know if you haven’t). The Connect Card allows you to access a wide range of discounts and cost saving across the region which we have secured for members; from restaurants and hotels to corporate entertainment and graphic design, we ensure there is an offer to suit your needs.

Finance Hotline Businesses often say that they cannot access finance easily and they find it difficult to speak with their banks when they need to. In response the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with their commercial banking partners NatWest and RBS have launched the Chamber Finance Hotline. This means you’re only a telephone call away from a team

of experienced banking experts with extensive knowledge of working with companies across all industry sectors, able to give your business a real edge in today’s trading environment. For more information call 0800 656 9634.

Health for Work The Health for Work adviceline provides small business owners and managers with the expert advice and support they need to help team members being affected by ill health. Many managers will have experienced how the health of an individual impacts on their performance. Millions of working days are lost each year because of problems like back pain, while work related mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are increasing. Call 0800 0778844 for more information.

Risk Insurance Chamber Risk Insurance is offered to members and provided by AIG Europe (UK) Limited, a member of the American International Group INC. It offers packaged and combined insurance solutions usually enjoyed by large corporates but specifically designed around the needs of UK SMEs. It offers a comprehensive range of policies designed to provide protection that goes beyond ordinary package cover closing the recognised gaps in standard SME insurance offerings.

Legal Advice Free, unlimited legal advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Composite Legal Expenses. Your business benefits from over £670,000 worth of cover ranging from employment disputes to data protection cases. Call the legal advice line on 0871 423 5239

Human Resources Support Free, unlimited human resources and health and safety advice provided by Chamber HR. As well as a dedicated advice line, you can also download more than 250 policies, forms and documents to help support your business. Call the HR advice line on 02920 349614.

Health Healthy staff can make your business better, for as little as £1.10 per week! Westfield Health’s Chamber offer helps businesses to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and acts as a benefit to recruit and retain staff through benefits like dental and optical coverage. For more information call 01292 678666.


West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Support for Businesses of all Sizes Whether you’re a sole trader, a small or medium enterprise, or a major employer/PLC, joining the Chamber can benefit your business.

a guide on what they can expect from us as members. They’re available to view online at:

We offer tailored advice and offers for organisations of all sizes, whether you’re working alone or as part of a team of thousands.

able to build your business relationships, develop the skills of you and your staff, as well as boost your competitiveness and ability to grow.

Not only will you be able to access a portfolio of free services and member benefits, you'll also be

To help, we’ve developed bespoke documents giving these three distinct business sectors (major employers/plcs). If you think you, a friend, or colleague could benefit from Chamber membership, contact us on or call 01244 669988 for more information.

Summer Cocktail Party Get ready to dust off your finest evening wear for the Chamber’s glittering summer cocktail party at the stunning Eaton Estate, Chester on July 11th. Starting at 7.30pm and held in the Wolf and Long Rooms of the world renowned estate and home of Duke of Westminster, the event offers you the opportunity to network with our extensive group of Chamber members, both new and existing in this wonderful setting.

Places are limited and we highly recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment. To secure your place contact the Chamber team on 01244 669988 or on info@

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Welcome to Days Hotel Chester North - The Gateway to Wales!

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Research Reveals How UK SMEs Do Business Overseas In an ongoing programme of research, UKTI has produced two new reports which explore the trends in emerging in international trade for UK companies. Aimed at small to medium businesses, they offer an insight into the ways SMEs are doing business abroad today, and how small businesses can thrive in today’s new era of internationalisation.

New Markets, New Ideas: How Exporting Fosters Innovation and Growth The research findings captured in this booklet suggest that many British companies are embracing a new era of internationalisation. This can be seen in both an increasing number of companies doing business overseas and the rising number of firms that export from an early stage. The report also investigates the benefits business experience as a result of exporting, including increased levels of growth, productivity and innovation: More young companies are grabbing international opportunities from an early stage; almost one in five (17%) new companies currently active abroad are classified as ‘born global’; so have been doing business overseas since the outset 37% of firms less than five years old reported no significant barriers to doing business overseas; over a third (35%) also reported significant growth due to exporting Around 38% of companies said that exporting delivered a level of growth not otherwise possible. Companies generally reported a significant return on investment from doing business overseas in terms of improved financial performance, higher levels of innovation and productivity Many internationalised firms experience a ‘virtuous circle’ where exporting leads to new innovation and where those innovations then lead to further exporting. Over half of all firms (53%) said that a new product or service evolved because of their business overseas.

Discovering High Growth: How UK SMEs are Breaking Into High Growth Markets Across the world, high-growth markets are becoming increasingly important to UK SMEs across all sectors. Most economists agree that the biggest story of the twenty-first century will be a shift in the economic centre of gravity

from the developed world to high growth markets such as China, India and Brazil. The report captures a snapshot of how SMEs today are approaching these markets, and look at the difficulties in market entry as well as ways to overcome them. Companies of all ages and sizes are finding success in these markets, not just bigger businesses. Two in five small exporters (with less than 10 employees) already do business in at least one high growth market. Those SMEs that enter one high-growth market can find opportunities in neighbouring and other markets; a study found that almost one in three SMEs used entry into one high-growth market as a ‘springboard’ into another.

From Surviving to Thriving: Doing Business Overseas The first in the ‘doing business overseas’ series, this report was compiled by UKTI based on a survey conducted with the Director magazine during July and August 2010. Despite the global economic slowdown, the results of the survey show that the vast majority of exporters remain confident about the future and plan to export more over the next 12 months. Companies generally expect the number of countries they deal with to increase over the next three years, and having a British brand is regarded by most as an advantage when trading overseas. Download the reports at

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Solex Systems, a specialist provider of IT Support and Computer Services in Chester and the North West. We are accredited as a Microsoft Gold Partner and a Microsoft Small Business Specialist and as such specialise in helping new and existing businesses maximise their potential benefit from technology within the workplace. We seek ways to improve efficiency and working practices for our customers, alongside delivering ‘best in class’ technical solutions and support . To gain the full benefits of outsourcing and to be successful, you need the right IT service provider. Solex Systems Limited provide dedicated IT services with proactive solutions. We quickly adapt to changing technologies, constantly re-engineering our framework to ensure that our clients are always at the forefront of technology.

Our areas of expertise : IT and Network Support Web Design and SEO Network Maintenance Cabling and Infrastructure Installation

Desktop PC and Notebook Repair Wireless Networks Smart Board and Projector Installation Disaster Recovery and Remote Backup Specialists Fibre Optic Cable installation and termination

Solex Systems Ltd Viscount House, River Lane Saltney CH4 8RH Telephone 01244 784200 Email

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Ever Wondered… How new entrepreneurs and expanding SME’s can fulfil their potential without having someone on their team that has a proven track record of delivering success? Mark Wilson founder of MWA reflected on this question when forming his new business in the renewable energy sector. Although Mark qualified as a Chartered Accountant, owned and sold two small businesses whilst still in his 20’s the bulk of his career until recently has been spent as Managing Director of Mamas & Papas the premium branded Nursery Company where he, the founders and the team turned a fledgling business into a £130m turnover international trading group. Delivering growth and success on this scale required a contribution from a diverse group of highly qualified senior managers. Despite Mark’s extensive knowledge and experience he found forming a new business in today’s tough environment challenging and wondered how new entrepreneurs and expanding SME’s could possibly cope without appropriate assistance from someone who had already had that experience? As a result Mark Wilson and Associates (MWA) was formed. Our vision is to provide a rounded professional and transparent service that offers commercial as well as financial advice in a timely manner that will allow your business to deal with the everyday challenges more effectively than before but to do so at a cost that most businesses can afford.

Mark Wilson

To name but a few we can assist with:n Business planning for new or existing business

be part of your team and that we provide you with valuable information in a timely fashion that allows you to make the most informed business decisions. We do not charge by the minute, all short consultations are included within the monthly fee structure therefore there is no reason not to pick up the telephone to discuss an issue. You should regard us as your own personal Finance Director who already understands and empathises with you and your business.

n Change Management n Non-Executive Directorship n Project Management We have an extensive network of associates that can respond to any business challenge that may present itself. For full details of the service we provide visit All our clients deserve and require a personal and professional service that is prompt and meaningful, therefore our standard package includes a face to face meeting with an associate of MWA every month incorporating a review of your Management Accounts (which we have probably prepared) and if required the financial forecasts of the business. We will also prepare an Executive Report that highlights the key issues facing the business and our recommended financial and commercial actions. Our aim is for you to consider MWA to

Our fees are usually fixed and agreed in advance and paid monthly so you have no hidden surprises. Once agreed we will not alter our fees until the next review date. We genuinely want you to treat us as one of your management team. All prospective new clients will receive an initial consultation with Mark Wilson which will incorporate a review of your business, completely free of charge. We genuinely hope that you will take MWA up on this offer and allow us to work with your business today.

We will of course provide the usual accountancy services that you would expect, including: n Bookkeeping n Management Accounts n Payroll n Taxation We also specialise in providing a wide range of commercial business services that can be combined with your accountancy services or if you prefer as a standalone service. Regardless of what assistance you require for your business we are able to assist you and create a bespoke package appropriate to you and your business model. Whichever service we are providing we always have commerciality at the fore front of everything we do.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Hit the Ground Running When You Return from Holiday Whilst it can be tempting to check your emails from the beach on your smartphone in our ‘always on’ world, you can’t really call it a break when you’re doing work... stay disconnected and put your feet up! Productivity blog Lifehacker state key to ensuring you’re not missed during your holiday is to prepare properly before you leave, also helping to make your return as smooth as possible: Delegate: give your work away, whether it’s to your boss or a colleague. Ensure your regular responsibilities are covered and if someone can do it, it’s being done Get the word out: whether it’s your out of office notification or a face to face conversation, let everyone know where you are and who’ll be covering for you Clean out your inbox: as it says on the tin; make sure the only messages waiting for you arrived in your absence Shift responsibility to follow up: Whether you put it in your out-of-office message, voicemail greeting, or just tell everyone, let them know that you’ll be gone for a while, and if the issue is important, ask them to follow up with you when you’re back at the office. Of course, that doesn’t totally absolve you of the need to follow up with people when you get back, but it does remind your colleagues to come see you when you’re back in the office instead of waiting around for you to answer an email that could be weeks old. To read more of the article, including tips on making the return home easy and using your holiday to start positive habits at work, visit


How to Produce a Press Release Writing a press or news release can be daunting task, especially one that will be picked up by the media and used in the publications, broadcasts or websites. It’s important to view your business objectively and see past low prices, how great your service is or your wide selection of products… those are just adverts and people will view it as that. Before writing a single word you need to establish what will make your story newsworthy.

Step 4: Time to write the first paragraph (the lead). The idea is to grab the attention of the journalist and subsequently the reader and tell them the story in less than 30 words. Don’t mention any names at this point, just the main details that will make them want to read on:

It’s also important to remember that the reporters who will receive your press release are extremely busy and don’t care about helping you. They are hassled by PR people regularly and won’t submit copy to their editor if they think it’s a dressed up commercial for your product.

A revolutionary new drug developed in Wrexham is set to cure the common cold

However if you are providing something that: n Makes their job easier n Has been produced with them in mind rather than yourself n Avoids hype, clichés or feathering yourself. n Then it’s likely they will look forward to receiving your story and include it in a future edition. Right then, it’s time to see the process most public relations officers follow: Step 1: come up with ideas for potential stories eg have you won an award? Has a member of staff made the company proud thanks to a new qualification? Have you come up with a new cutting edge process? Always consider the question, if I were reading a newspaper or magazine, would I want to read a story about this? Step 2: what type of people do you want to sit up and take notice of your story? By identifying them, you’ll work out your audience and subsequently the media outlets you need to focus the press release towards. For a local paper for example, you’d keep facts general, but for a science magazine you could be more technical. Step 3: identify the ‘bones’ of the story, or ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’ and ‘why’. So, you want need to specify who the story is about, what it’s about, when the event/events occurred, where they occurred, how they occurred and why they occurred.

Step 5: Next we add detail, always aiming to keep sentences under 30 words in length. Now you can start bringing in names, places etc: Created by local firm G Blessyou Inc on Llay Industrial Estate, one dose of SneZe will rid the sufferer of their symptoms in 30 minutes. Step 6: Subsequent paragraphs add more detail until all major points are covered: SneZe is the brainchild of Dr Emmett Brown following 20 years of dedicated research. Dr Brown decided to develop the cure after suffering from a perpetually runny nose. Step 7: Next it’s time to add some colour with a quote. If the press release mentions someone in particular, they are the person you should lead on, with subsequent quotes from others following: Dr Brown, chief researcher for GBlessyou Inc, said: “We’re delighted to announce the cure to the common cold. This has been a personal crusade for me for many years and I’m thrilled to have been a part of the successful team.” Step 8: Add a line stating who the public can contact for more information, or a web address they can reach. Step 9: Add a section entitled ‘notes to editors’. This is a special area that journalists won’t publish, but it invites them to act on conditions you set, for example you wish to invite them to come and interview a representative or the time and date for a photocall. Step 10: The final step, thoroughly proof read your text for errors… don’t trust spellchecker! Once you’re satisfied distribute to your chosen media outlets.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Hill Dickinson Lawyer Flies Through Another Successful Secondment

Get Ahead in Export A new course aimed at getting more businesses across the region exporting their goods and services is set to be launched by West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce. The National Trade Training course is organised and accredited by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and set to be delivered by an export industry expert at the Riverside Innovation Centre, Chester. Course delegates will learn the key skills required to support their business to trade internationally, including understanding the export process, Incoterms, export documentation and methods of payment. People who successfully complete the course will be awarded a qualification accredited by the BCC. Further details on course dates, times and costs will be released in due course.

Hill Dickinson commercial lawyer Natalie McNeill marked the end of her secondment with Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC), the world-leading manufacturer of business, special-mission and trainer aircraft, with a tour around some of the company’s luxury planes at its Global Customer Support facility in Broughton, Chester. This is the second successful secondment that Natalie has participated in at Hill Dickinson; a demonstration of the close client relationships that the firm places at the heart of its business values. As an expert commercial lawyer, Natalie works as part of Hill Dickinson’s corporate team, advising local businesses on mergers, acquisitions, group reorganisations, joint ventures, corporate governance and other corporate transactions. She has been seconded to HBC for one day a week since December 2011. Previously, she took part in an 11 month full time secondment at Princes Limited in Liverpool, working with the inhouse legal team where she advised on all elements of commercial transactions and agreements.

Natalie said: “I have really enjoyed my work with Hawker Beechcraft and it has been good to be on site and go through legal requirements in person. I have advised on several commercial contracts together with substantive supply contracts. I have also assisted with successfully settling a property dilapidations dispute on a lease.” Clive Prentice, vice president and general manager EMEA operations, global customer support at HBC said: “It has been a pleasure working closely with Natalie and she has given us some invaluable legal advice. She has provided advice across many of the teams and liaised with the legal and real estate team in the USA on a regular basis.” Robin Jones, head of Hill Dickinson’s Chester office, who joined Natalie on her visit around the HBC facility said “Client secondments are a mutually beneficial arrangement that provide our fee earners with the opportunity to boost their sector specific experience, whilst enabling us to get an insider’s understanding of their needs and the challenges they face.”

Richard Thomas, vice chair of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce said: “Businesses, industry figureheads and politicians agree that export and international trade is key to helping kick-start the UK’s economic recovery and we’re determined to be a part of that. “The Chamber is in a unique position with regard to exporting and being able to connect UK businesses with organisations having expertise in exporting and to introduce UK businesses to overseas networks through the international Chamber establishment. To find out more about these opportunities and how you can exploit the potential for exporting we invite you to join us at these courses.” To register your interest in taking part in the course, email

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Planning for the future of your business Employee ownership opportunities for business succession

Every business owner needs to consider what will happen when they leave the company they have grown. Whether you want to retire, start another business or you feel the time is right to move on, it is vital to plan a strategy that works for both you and your business. “The Wales Co-operative Centre helped us put together a long term succession plan. We created an Employee Benefit Trust and over several years have been able to reduce our shareholding and transfer over 75% of the company to our employees.” Barry Wise, Aber Instruments

Working together – growing together A consortia approach to growing your business

Enterprises that work together, grow together. Working in partnership to win new work, or to sell your products more effectively, are just two potential benefits of forming a consortium. By working together, you could create new opportunities to build your business and develop fresh income streams for every partner involved. “The Pembrokeshire Produce Direct producer co-operative provides a simple mechanism for a diverse set of local food businesses to work together and expand the market for their products, while not incurring any additional sales or distribution costs. Collaboration allows us to sell more food to more people than we could by working as individuals.” James Ross, Pembrokeshire Produce Direct If you would like to find out more about how we could help your business: Call 0300 111 5050 Email Visit

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Cynllunio ar gyfer dyfodol eich busnes Cyfleoedd i’r gweithwyr fod yn berchen ar fusnes i sicrhau olyniaeth

Mae angen i berchennog pob busnes ystyried beth fydd yn digwydd pan fyddant yn gadael y cwmni y maent wedi’i dyfu. P’un ai ydych eisiau ymddeol, eisiau dechrau busnes arall neu os teimlwch fod yr amser wedi dod i chi symud ymlaen, mae’n holl bwysig cynllunio strategaeth sy’n gweithio i chi ac i’ch busnes. “Mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru wedi ein helpu i lunio cynllun olyniaeth tymor hir. Aethpwyd ati i sefydlu Ymddiriedolaeth Budd i Gyflogeion a dros nifer o flynyddoedd rydym wedi lleihau nifer ein cyfranddaliadau yn y cwmni ac wedi trosglwyddo dros 75% o’r cwmni i’n cyflogeion.” Barry Wise, Aber Instruments

Gweithio gyda’ch gilydd – tyfu gyda’ch gilydd Gweithio fel consortia i helpu’ch busne

Mae mentrau sy’n gweithio gyda’i gilydd yn tyfu gyda’i gilydd. Mae gweithio mewn partneriaeth i ennill gwaith newydd neu i werthu eich cynnyrch yn fwy effeithiol yn ddim ond dwy fantais a geir drwy ffurfio consortiwm. Drwy weithio gyda’ch gilydd, gallwch greu cyfleoedd newydd i adeiladu’ch busnes a datblygu ffrydiau incwm ffres ar gyfer pob un o’r partneriaid. “Mae menter gydweithredol cynhyrchwyr Cynnyrch Sir Benfro yn ffordd syml i alluogi amrywiaeth ang o fusnesau bwyd lleol i gydweithredu ac i ehangu’r farchnad ar gyfer eu cynnyrch, a hynny heb orfod ysgwyddo unrhyw gostau gwerthu neu ddosbarthu ychwanegol. Drwy gydweithredu rydym yn gallu gwerthu mwy o fwyd i fwy o bobl nag y byddem wrth weithio fel unigolion.” James Ross, Cynnyrch Sir Benfro Os hoffech ddysgu rhagor am sut y gallem ni helpu eich busnes chi: Ffoniwch 0300 111 5050 E-bostiwch Ewch i

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Andy Williams

Lead Partner Powell Williams Building Consultants

Quietly confident despite the faltering recovery in the property market


West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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The property market is often seen as a barometer of the business sector so the optimism shown by Chester-based Andy Williams is encouraging. Despite the sector’s recent trials and tribulations, the lead partner at Powell Williams Building Consultants, believes there are signs that some investors and business occupiers are exploiting opportunities brought on by the banking and European sovereign debt crisis. Andy acknowledges that the sector still has a long way to go in its recovery, though. He said: “The biggest obstacle for businesses remains sourcing affordable finance, which is proving increasingly difficult from traditional banking sources. There is evidence of a variety of new low interest debt being supplied by pension funds, insurance companies and real estate investment funds but this won’t be sufficient to supply the finance needed to satisfy the level of debt maturing in the property investment sector over the next 12 -18 months. “This could ultimately have a negative impact on property values which although they saw some improvement in early 2011 have since begun to slip back in 2012, still well short of the values at the peak of the investment cycle”. Andy speaks from experience, having cofounded Powell Williams in 1990, returning to his North West roots having worked for International property consultants, Colliers Stewart Newiss. He heads up the company’s Chester office and has more than 24 years’ experience as a Chartered Building Surveyor. Powell Williams supports the commercial property sector by advising both investors and occupiers throughout the life cycle of owning or occupying commercial property and ultimately disposal or exit. Andy said: “Since the downturn, we have seen the return of clients placing a greater emphasis on the due diligence process, to satisfy increasingly stringent lending criteria and ensure that there are no nasty surprises

when they come to dispose of their investment or vacate at lease end. We assist in this process by providing clear, concise advice to our clients working closely with their legal teams we ensure that in a volatile market not only bricks and mortar are sound but that adequate legal documentation is in place protecting their future interests. Without this upfront advice costly mistakes can be made by investors and business alike”. At a time when vacant property levels are the highest in many sectors for more than ten years, owners/landlords are recognising the importance of seeking to enhance their properties appeal. This will benefit occupiers and owners as they continue to invest in the fabric of their property - increasing the quality and environment for occupiers whilst maintaining their assets value.

Looking to the future for the North West region, there are a number of new developments which will provide much needed stimulus. The notable Peel Holdings schemes - Liverpool and Wirral Waters, will provide a £10billion investment injection. Andy said: “Peel Holdings plan for the long term, their schemes are visionary, the 30 million sq ft of land to be utilised will be put to excellent use creating jobs in all areas including the much needed construction industry. In addition, the planned Praxis Development “Airfields Scheme” on the former site of RAF Sealand recently secured outline planning approval in the Deeside Enterprise Zone. The scheme is reported to bring 750 residential units, and development land for 90,000 sq ft of retail and 2.5 million sq ft of Industrial across its 150 hectares.” When challenged on whether the 2012 Olympics will enhance the North West’s prospects, Andy said :“I don’t believe we will see huge benefit to this region. However, the Olympics are a great shop window for the UK. The Games will provide a welcomed ‘feel good factor’ for the country as a whole. I am sure that investments in infrastructure, leisure, tourism and employment would have benefited Manchester or Birmingham more than London; however, there is no certainty that the UK would have won the Games at all if the proposed location of London wasn’t top of the list.

However, owners of vacant commercial property are hard hit, according to Andy, who said: “Imposing rates on vacant properties is a “tax on hardship”. We have seen examples of owners feeling that it is more cost effective to demolish industrial buildings rather than paying rates on empty buildings. How can this be aligned to the Government’s ‘Green credentials’? The hardest hit are those smaller investors, many who own small secondary property, who are left with a building they cannot let but which is a drain on their hard earned capital. . Andy is encouraged to see that the Welsh Government has commissioned a study which would see all new buildings given up to three years exemption from rates on empty properties for green buildings and two years for the rest. For those investors with access to finance this could tip the balance in terms of whether schemes are viable or not.

“I am sure London hotels, restaurants and satellite industries will benefit and there will be short term employment benefits for those seeking work. The construction industry has seen a £7billion investment which in this climate has I am sure saved many more jobs from being lost.” Looking to the next twelve months Andy said: “The future looks brighter for those companies that can service a diverse selection of clients and remain flexible to clients needs. In the North West, we have seen a shift in demand of service areas and have been pleased to pro-actively change the way we do business to compensate. The work we carry out within the retail and industrial sectors as well as on historic buildings and residential management provides a good basis for us to help any investor or occupier regardless of size. The company, which also has offices in Birmingham and London, has recently been involved in several interesting and diverse technically challenging schemes, from reconfiguration/re-cladding of high street retail in Newcastle, a £1.5 million refurbishment to an office building in Deansgate Manchester and a makeover to the Indian High Commissioners home in Mayfair. Andy said: “Offering clients value for money, while maintaining high standards has been key to our success, and we look forward to continuing to develop our exciting growth strategy in the coming year.”

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Looking to the future in a city proud of its past For all Chester is well known for its rich sense of history, the city is also very much focused on building for the future.

To that end, a number of regeneration projects are under way across Cheshire West and Chester, all of them designed to support business. One of the major ones is The Chester Renaissance, a programme of new development and city centre improvements designed to make Chester a must see European city by 2015.


One of the aims underpinning the programme is the belief, often proved, that if a place is attractive, investment will come. Many companies place as much store on the quality of life for their staff as they do business incentives. That is why The Renaissance has taken the widest possible approach to ensuring that the city is a good place to work and invest.

This fits in with the city‘s enduring popularity as a destination for visitors from around the world and acknowledges tourism’s importance to local businesses.

Those behind the project, including the local council, say it will ’generate a new pride in Chester, improve performance for business, attract investment and shape the city for the future’.

The Renaissance, which has public and private sector support, also aims to ensure that the city is an excellent place for people to live.

Those efforts received a major boost recently when Cheshire West and Chester Council chiefs gave their unanimous backing to the

final draft of the One City Plan (OCP), a guide to the creation of a ‘world class’ city by 2027. They also agreed to develop a new transport strategy to ensure the success of a blueprint which embraces every aspect of the city’s future from business and commerce to culture, leisure, tourism and heritage. OCP answers the findings of the Urban Land Institute’s first study on a UK city which concluded that Chester – ‘a city of immense and unrealised potential’ – lacked a comprehensive strategy for the future. That strategy has now been prepared after consultation with well over 1,000 individuals and organisations across the borough and further afield.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Major priorities scheduled for the next three years are Chester’s Business Quarter, a concept scheme for the Northgate Development, the 800-seat theatre at the former Odeon building and The Rows Project. Other priorities include major conference facilities, the Cathedral and Castle Quarters and re-vitalised museum and waterfront attractions. Professor Steven Broomhead, Chairman of Chester Renaissance, said: “Chester is open for business. This is a plan with vision and aspiration.”


Chester’s wider transport requirements will be considered, taking into account regeneration proposals, new housing developments and longer-distance commuter patterns for people travelling to and from the city.

Also playing a key role in local economic growth is the Invest in Cheshire initiative,. again with public and private backing, which aims to create prosperity for the wider Cheshire and Warrington region.

Councillor Lynn Riley, Executive Member for Community and Environment, said: “A new transport strategy that takes into account the One City Plan and the emerging Local Plan will help us to develop a strong and reliable transport network.

The combined Cheshire and Warrington economy is worth £18.7bn a year and outperforms any other part of the North West in economic output per person, with Chester playing a .key part in that success.

Councillors agreed that the transport strategy – tailored to meet the needs of a 21st century Chester – will have three main areas of focus.

“But this will be a plan with people at its core, since this is all about meeting the needs of our residents, businesses and visitors - all of whom have widely differing needs and access requirements.”

It will consider the needs of the city’s historic core, including the possible pedestrianisation of Northgate Street and Werburgh Street and issues arising from the proposed Northgate development, new theatre and the central business quarter.

Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, said: “At last we have a clear way forward – a new direction for a 15-year journey to transform Chester into a world class city. The One City Plan will influence every decision we take in the future development of the city.”

Estimates suggest that Cheshire and Warrington has the potential to increase annual Gross Value Added by £10bn to £30bn a year by 2030, a figure based on greater productivity, together with 100,000 more people living in the sub-region, taking the total population to one million by 2030. Chester will be at the heart of much that happens to make that possible in the years to come.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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From Land's End to John o' Groats and everywhere in between. From an envelope to a full trailer load, we can collect and deliver whatever you have from wherever you have it.

Free-range chickens We have no call centres, automated phone systems or lengthy booking procedures, just real people serving you a hassle free service in real time.

All action heroes Our professional couriers deliver around the clock, 7 days a week and all year round, so when you need us the most we are here for you.

a little whisper We don't play a fanfare but as soon as our dedicated courier delivers your consignment, we like to let you know by phone, email or text message.

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One flew over the cuckoo’s nest And Finally, we may not take ourselves too seriously, but you can be assured that we are serious about taking care of you.

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Major changes are on the horizon The subject of Solicitor’s legal costs has never been so important. The legal industry stands on the brink of what is widely believed among experts to be the beginning of another ‘costs war’, so having the right costs company to fight your corner is paramount. Oracle Cost Consultants based in St Helens & Chester pride themselves on being ahead of the game when it comes to the subject of legal costs. With the changes that are planned for April 2013 Solicitors need to act now on making sure their costs information is correct and stands up to scrutiny. Thomas Walsh, Managing Director of Oracle Costs said, “The whole industry is undergoing major changes with the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act due to be implemented in April 2013. Major changes are on the horizon and the way cases are dealt with and funded is an important issue that needs to be considered now”. Oracle have undergone quite a transformation in recent times, starting as a small legal costs firm based in St Helens, the operation has now expanded to Chester and North Wales employing numerous cost specialists to enable Oracle to keep ahead of the game and provide Solicitors with the specialised service they require. With the issue of funding of claims an important part of the legal world Oracle recently took the fight to the insurance industry in becoming the first firm to successfully recover a disputed after the event insurance premium (ATE) on an MOJportal road traffic claim, since the introduction


of the scheme in 2010. That trend continued with further successful decisions. Oracle also represented one of the Claimants in the recent Liverpool ATE Premium Test Cases, Thomas Walsh making submissions before Regional Cost Judge Smedley, on the same issue. This is a decision which may finally put an end to the long running dispute involving ATE insurance in Road Traffic Accident litigation.

Oracle exist to succeed in providing clients with advice they can rely upon and the best possible end results. For more information on the services provided, contact Thomas Walsh on 01744 762011 or alternatively via email to

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Employment Law Changes A major change to the basis upon which a large majority of employment tribunal claims are brought is now imminent, as a result of the recently published Government Annual Employment Law Review. With effect from 6th April 2012, the increase to the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims comes into force. Employees whose employment begins on or after 6th April 2012 will now need to complete two years' continuous service with their employer before they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal. This new qualifying period replaces the existing one year requirement. The increase applies only to employees whose employment begins on or after 6th April 2012. Therefore, for employees whose continuous employment has already begun before 6th April, the one year qualifying period will continue to apply. However, this change has no impact on the current list of claims that can be brought by employees and which do not require a qualifying period of employment.

Long Commutes May be Costing You More Than Petrol

The qualifying period required for employees to request ask for written reasons for their dismissal is also changing on 6th April 2012 and will also increase from one to two years service.

Money, petrol, time and patience may not be the only things you lose thanks to a long commute to work.

Witness statements will be taken as read unless the employment judge in a case rules otherwise. This is intended to reduce the overall time needed to complete an employment tribunal case.

Online blog College@Home have shown they may also be hazardous to your health. Besides draining you mentally and forcing you to sit for extended periods, long commutes are linked to less sleep, stress, high cholesterol, and obesity. They point to a recent survey of 4,300 people in Texas which supports previous studies linking long commutes to less physical activity, excess belly fat, and higher blood pressure.

Aside from the health benefits, moving closer to work could save you approximately £490 per mile per year.

The payment of witness expenses from government funds in employment tribunal proceedings is to cease

If you can’t change the length of your commute, try and look for alternatives to make it less of a daily grind. Ask your manager if you can change your work pattern to accommodate traffic problems by arriving and leaving slightly earlier or later, or suggest your productivity may be improved if you can occasionally work from home to avoid the stress of the traffic.

An employment judge may now sit alone in unfair dismissal cases without the assistance of two lay members. Parties will however be able to request a full tribunal but a final decision will remain with the employment judge

To see the full ‘infographic’, visit

The level of a deposit order that may be imposed on a party to an employment tribunal increases from £500 to £1,000.

Whilst changing your commuting time isn’t easy, statistics show it could be highly beneficial. Trimming it by 20 minutes could lower your risk of neck and back pain, obesity and most strikingly, heart attack by 300%.

Other important measures to take effect from 6th April are: The flat rate for statutory maternity, paternity, additional paternity and adoption pay will increase to £135.45 per week (from £128.73) The amount payable for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) increases to £88.85 per week (from £81.60)

The level of costs that may be awarded in the employment tribunal increases from £10,000 to £20,000

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Who’s Following Who? Social Media Advice from Hill Dickinson In light of recent controversy surrounding Boris Johnson’s Twitter account, Shelley Thomas and Michelle Morgan, specialist commercial lawyers at Hill Dickinson consider the rights of business owners in relation to the ownership of social media accounts used by employees for work purposes. In the run-up to the recent London Mayoral election, it was reported that Boris Johnson had been criticised following the decision to transfer the Mayor of London Twitter account (formerly called @mayoroflondon) into his own name (@ BackBoris2012team). This meant that the 253,000 people on Twitter who ‘followed’ the Mayor of London account were transferred to follow Mr Johnson's account. The decision provoked criticism from fellow Twitter users, as well as an official complaint by the Labour party to the Greater London Authority's Standards Committee, alleging that the Twitter account was set up and maintained by the Office of the Mayor of London and therefore did not belong to Mr Johnson personally. It is easy for Twitter users to change their username; when a user does this their existing followers are automatically transferred to their new user account. This can create difficulties for example, where an individual uses their personal Twitter account for work purposes. There is a risk that, in the event that the employee leaves, the employee can change the account's username and take the account's list of followers (and any goodwill associated with it) with them. Generally, any intellectual property created by an employee in the course of their employment is the property of the employer; in the case of social media accounts (where there may be a blurring of personal and professional spheres) it is not always clear who owns the content and followers of the account. This issue has been raised by a recent US lawsuit filed by PhoneDog (a US mobile news website) against their former employee, Noah Kravitz. Whilst he was employed by PhoneDog, Mr Kravitz tweeted under the username @Phonedog_Noah. When he left the company he changed his username and took the account's 17,000 followers with him. Mr Kravitz claims that although the Twitter account bore the PhoneDog name, the account was maintained entirely by him personally and the company had given him permission to continue to use the account after he left their


Shelley Thomas

employment. Conversely PhoneDog claims that the list of followers is intellectual property belonging to the company and it is now seeking damages of $2.50 per user for each month since Mr Kravitz left the company, a total of $340,000. This case is likely to set a precedent in the US (which will be persuasive in the UK courts though not binding in any way) in relation to the ownership of social media accounts and, potentially, the value of each Twitter follower to a company. As UK businesses continue to recognise the potential value of social media for marketing

purposes, employers are advised to take proactive steps to address the issue of ownership of social media accounts and their content to best protect their business. The implementation of a workplace policy on social media is highly recommended. And, whilst employment contracts commonly contain clauses restricting the ability of employees to use intellectual property after employment ends, we recommend that employers also ensure that use of social media is covered in restrictive covenants.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme Altogether Better Leaner, sharper, more attuned to value for money, creating the conditions for business to flourish and grow and ultimately being more responsive to citizens and communities; these are the aims of the West Cheshire Community Budget pilot called ‘Altogether Better’. Launched last December, the government’s bold new initiative to radically reform local public services (whole place community budgets) saw four areas selected, West Cheshire among them, to fundamentally reshape the way local public services are delivered. Core to the West Cheshire approach is creating the conditions that will support local and regional growth. One of the five key themes of the Altogether Better programme is ‘Working Well’ which is focusing on the whole area of the economic recovery, business support, job creation and work ready individuals.

Martin Bradshaw and Paul Ffoulkes

Barclays has launched the Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, providing access to the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS). Under the Barclays scheme, approved SMEs who take out a loan will receive the full benefit of the NLGS discount immediately in the form of an upfront ‘cashback’. This will be calculated as one percentage point discount on their loan interest over the first five years. Examples of this include: A business with a loan, where it is repaying the interest and the principal: n Three year loan of £1m: upfront cashback approximately £14,500 n Five year loan of £3m: upfront cashback approximately £72,500. n A business with a loan, where the interest is paid but the principle is not: n Three year loan of £1m: upfront cashback of approximately £28,500 n Five year loan of £500,000: upfront cashback of approximately £23,000. The NLGS allows Barclays to raise wholesale funds at a cheaper level and pass 100% of the benefit on to customers or back to the government. Barclays will benefit in no way financially from the scheme.

Paul Ffoulkes, relationship 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. Barclays is open for business. Last year we beat our Project Merlin lending commitments to SMEs and I encourage any SME that thinks it would benefit from financing to come and talk to us.” Martin Bradshaw, proprietor of a commercial investment business in North Wales is one of the first to receive a loan under the Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme, he said: “We are continuously looking to upgrade and refurbish our properties as well as seeking to expand the portfolio. The 1% discount through the Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme is a welcome injection in what is a difficult economic climate, particularly in the property sector. The funds will help to support our growth plans.” To find out more about the Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme and how to apply, please visit

With a tight programme that will see business cases presented to government in October 2012, the team is currently collecting and analysing all the local economic and sector data to get a clear picture of the local business and enterprise landscape. This will then be used to develop a robust growth strategy. The specialist team working in conjunction with the private sector, will use the evidence and research to identify best practice and to provide the baseline information; this will include business sector and geographical analysis. The results will be used as a framework to help determine key priorities and interventions that will drive growth in West Cheshire and will include a resilience plan. Continued active engagement with the business community is important and there will be plenty of opportunities to listen and get involved. Altogether Better is a collaboration of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire Constabulary, Cheshire Fire and Rescue, Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust, Third Sector Assembly, Weaver Vale Housing Trust, West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, plus a wide range of private and public sector organisations in West Cheshire and the sub region. The programme is also directly supported by key government departments. Further Information: Email:

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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New Members

For more information on chamber membership contact 01244 669988 or visit

Welcome to our new members Buckley Industrial Unit 1 Catheralls Industrial Estate Buckley CH7 3PS 01244 544080 Mr Steve Dransfield

Rollinson Smith Bryn Eirias Abergele Road COLWYN BAY LL29 8BY 01492 510110 07824 483835 Mr Steve O’Donnell

Spear Associates Limited Pale Sheiling Llandderfel BALA LL23 7PS 01678 520760 Mr Nick Philpott

Urban Voice Associates 175 Reddish Road Reddish STOCKPORT SK5 7HR 07947 868136 Ms Yvonne Shelton

Goals Soccer Centres Plc 4 Talbot Way off Bumpers Lane CHESTER CH1 4LT 01244 260350 Mr Scott Lamond

Business Succession & Consortia Project 10 St James Crescent SWANSEA SA1 6DZ 01792 484005 Mr David Madge Fortitude Development 6 Acton Road WREXHAM LL11 2NA 01978 312919 Ms Carrie Foster

Creative, fun and engaging Fortitude Development specialises in Organisation and People Development interventions that deliver added value and a measurable ROI to bottom line performance. Director, Carrie Foster, is a proven commercial Organisation Development practitioner with over 10 years experience, and a track record of providing OD programmes across UK, Europe and Russia including high profile interventions at Aggreko, Britvic and Exide. Creative, fun and engaging, Carrie is dedicated to enabling people to have the courage to overcome obstacles to perform through a process of facilitated experiential


learning, appreciative inquiry and strengthsbased development which ensures that individuals can BE the change to their performance.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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Top Job for Dewi Barclays has appointed Dewi Davies as the corporate banking director for Chester and North Wales. Dewi will lead a team of relationship directors and locally based support managers, assisting businesses with a turnover of £5 million and above to access financial and industry specialist support. Dewi joins Barclays with over 29 years banking experience, having performed a number of senior roles across Wales and the North West. Recent years have been spent within the corporate finance arena, doing deals and helping clients grow and realise their strategic aspirations. He has been actively involved in a number of large transactions, management buyouts and acquisitions across the region. Dewi lives in North Wales, is married with two boys who are avid footballers. He was formerly a keen sportsman and runner and represented his country in two different sports: judo and fly fishing. He was also awarded the Institute of Bankers McKenna Award for the highest banking diploma results in the UK.

Dewi said: “It is very exciting to be joining Barclays and I am committed to helping customers to fulfill their growth potential. I look forward to working with clients to gain further insight and understanding of their business and ensure we provide innovative and bespoke solutions, which add value and make a real difference.”

Karl Trumper, managing director, corporate banking at Barclays said “We are delighted that Dewi has joined Barclays and he adds further skills and experience to what is already a strong team. Dewi is one of a number of recent appointments by Barclays in the region which demonstrates our commitment to the corporate market.”

Being Upfront Avoids Negative Publicity... Honest! We’ve all been there, customers threatening to go to the press when something goes wrong. It’s a horrible situation, one that gives you a sinking feeling. Subsequently when a journalist calls to ask what happened, you might feel the urge to give one of three responses:

Deny everything! Issue a statement skirting around the issue, failing to address it directly and pretending that it didn’t happen

Be honest and hold your hands up. If you picked ‘be honest’, you’d be right. You’d be surprised how many organisations go for the first two though, thinking outright denial will save face and their reputation... it won’t! Being open and upfront in subsequent PR and

marketing activities will do more good than harm as it shows your company is to be trusted when the chips are down.

Yioun as he favoured red as a more dynamic colour for marketing in Asia; not something that went down well with supporters.

The world of football throws up two recent examples of ‘own goals’ scored by clubs in the field of damage limitation. Throughout the 2011/2012 season, Blackburn Rovers have hit the headlines through their poor performances on the pitch, concerns by fans over the management and ownership of the club, as well as their subsequent relegation. Both the manager and owners have seemingly stonewalled fans (their primary stakeholders), stating a minority were causing disruption despite visible protests by thousands of supporters weekly.

Daniel Shires, communications manager for the Chamber said: “Whilst there may be a good marketing case for the Cardiff proposals, failing to take into account the fans views and gain their support is a big mistake. Owners will come and go, but the fans will remain loyal throughout and spend their money at the club shop; there’s no point producing a shirt though if nobody’s willing to buy it. The same goes in the Blackburn example; failure to listen to or engage with the people you’re trying to reach just causes unnecessary headaches.

Cardiff City also caused at the end of the season after a leaked report showed their Malaysian investors wanted the club to drop 104 years of tradition and switch from blue to red shirts, change the club’s crest and nickname from ‘the bluebirds’ to ‘the red dragons’. This was seemingly investigated at the behest of owner Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee

“Whilst football clubs are a very unique type of business, the overarching lesson applies. Be open and honest with your customers and stakeholders, state you’re willing to listen to their concerns and work together for a positive outcome and ultimately you’ll be in a much better position than if you’d stuck your head in the sand and hoped the problem went away.”

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20 Questions


Name: Phil Hirst Job Title: Producer Company: Planet X Media What brings you to the industry? A lifelong passion for film, television and telling stories.

What advice would you give to people wanting to get involved in the industry? Work smarter than everyone else, make your own luck and never give up.

What is the most important thing you look for in a new recruit? To go the extra mile further everyone else.

If you could employ anyone from the world of business, who would it be and why? Lord Sugar or any of ‘the Dragons’!

What are your three best qualities as a business person? Quiet determination, resourcefulness and an eye for an opportunity.

And your worst? Not using my killer instinct.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business? Pitching an idea to ITV and winning a three year contract for an exciting new series that viewers loved to bits.

If you could work for any company in the world, which would it be and why? Dreamworks; every project is a winner and you’d learn from the best in the business.

What do you always carry with you to work? An open mind and a sense of humour.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Try to make a difference.

Do you live to work or work to live? A bit of both.

Who is the most famous person you’ve met and what were they like? Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle; he’s a lovely genuine man and very down to earth.

Who in your view is your industry’s role model and why? George Clooney; he’s handsome, intelligent and super successful… I hate him!

What is your biggest achievement? I’m still working on it!

What was your first job and how much was in your first pay packet? Feature writer for a local newspaper and not a lot!



Do you make time for a lunch break? Yes, once a week.

What is a normal working day for you? About 28 hours!

If you could work in any other industry, what would it be? Natural history or archaeology.

Looking back, what would you change about your business career if you could turn back time? Ruthless networking and having the confidence to ring the top man with an offer he can’t refuse.

What are your hobbies? Skydiving and extreme base jumping... not really! Spending time with my family, the cinema and walking the dog.

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce Magazine

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“Every week we receive testimon ials like this from With employmen satisfied employ t law under cons ers across the No tant reform, we gu rth West. HR Managers thro id e an d su pp ort Managing Dire ugh the complex ctors and legislative maze crises averted. to ensure proced ures are followed and Put your trust in us - we’re on yo ur side.” Johanna McMill an – Senior Co nsultant, Elcons Employment La w Consultants

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Business Matters 10  

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