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shine a light: spotlight on power innovators

curtain up: chester’s storyhouse revealed

catwalk king: designer matthew walks the walk

a porky tale: meet art school chef paul

name of the game: why it’s all about the brand

splash back: chester’s arts fair is coming back


Operations Manager, Duerr’s Jam

Contact Richard Burnett | M: 07983 637149 | E: 0617

HM provides a one-stop shop. The team is

The law firm for growing business fIrsT words:

This issue of HM magazine hopefully gives you a flavour of what this means to us. Take Moorcroft Construction, a long-standing client of the firm. We started out providing the owners with commercial and employment law support. Over time, a trusted relationship built up between our two businesses. More recently, the Moorcroft owners entered the HM War Room and had guidance from HM Business Growth. This, in turn, led to HM Creative undertaking a Marketing campaign which included a new brand and website. Another company featured in this issue is MDF Recovery which has developed a world-first technology to recycle MDF.

commercialisation of its technology and various licensing arrangements. Elsewhere in this edition, Simon McCrum and Ray Howard share some of their pearls of wisdom gathered over many years, while our Head of Employment Law Justine Watkinson explains why employee engagement is so important in today’s workforce. As Chairman of Hillyer McKeown, I am passionate about being our clients’ business partner and playing our part in helping you achieve your full growth potential.

Our first contact was through the work of HM Business Growth, but this has since led to assignments for HM Creative, which has run an international PR campaign, and our Commercial team which is advising the business on the

HM magazine is published by HM Creative. Editors: Nick Mason and Lucy Mason

HM writers: Sarah Lowe, Nick Mason, Lucy Mason, Paul Beckett Email: Design: Tom Baker Phone: 0151 239 5050 Photography: Adam Kenrick

Steve Harvey Group Chairman Hillyer McKeown

helping to keep the lights on

HM Magazine met with Robert Davis, the Chief Executive of EA Technology, one of the region’s most exciting and important companies.

Early in his time at EA Technology, the HR Manager asked Robert Davis about his career ambitions. Robert came straight to the point: “One day I would like to run this organisation.” Sixteen years after arriving at the company as a Commercial Manager, Robert is now CEO and during his tenure has seen EA Technology become a truly international business. There are many different strings to EA’s bow, but Robert has a snappy definition for what he and his 200 employees do: “We help to keep the lights on!” This far from tells the full story. EA Technology, which is headquartered on the Capenhurst Technology Park, is one of the North West’s most dynamic and innovative businesses. Since Robert became CEO in 2004, the company has won two Queen’s Awards and expanded across the globe with offices in seven locations including China, the Middle East, Singapore, Australia and the United States. In the most recent financial year, the company achieved sales of £26million with orders increasing by over 40% across nearly all of its global markets. Around one third of EA’s revenues now come from overseas. Today’s business is a genuine world leader in developing and implementing products and services to enable power networks to become safer, more reliable and cost effective. The company is restless in its commitment to innovation, investing over £1million a year in this area. According to Robert, today’s EA Technology is hardly recognisable from the one he joined in 2001 and which, three years later, he took charge of after orchestrating and leading a successful employee buyout.

I like to promote from within whenever possible. Most of the senior management team have been with me for at least eight years. I look to develop them to avoid them having a closed mind mentality.

Robert is passionate about developing great internal talent while also ensuring he has the support of the best possible external advisors who can “bring something different to the table”. These include Steve Harvey, Hillyer McKeown’s Group Chairman who recently became a Non-Executive Director. He says: “I like to promote from within whenever possible. Most of the senior management team have been with me for at least eight years. I look to develop them to avoid them having a closed mind mentality. “We will do this in a number of ways including board development and senior management courses to future leadership training.” Robert is a driving force behind the Cheshire Energy Hub which oversees a collaborative graduate programme giving talented graduates the opportunity to gain experience working at EA Technology and other leading companies in the energy sector. Another major challenge Robert has faced recently has been the company’s final salary pension scheme which dated back to the organisation’s past life under national ownership. Robert says: “Resolving it took years of determined effort, but we have now come to an arrangement with the pension scheme which is in everyone’s interest. Without a resolution, the scheme posed a very real threat to our ongoing trading.” The deal with the pension trustees means the company no longer carries the pension scheme but commits to a loan repayment and an equity share in the business.

ROBERT’s HERoes DAVID BRIGGS, Entrepreneur and current Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire – “Full of energy, drive and commitment to the community”. NICK WINSER, Ex-CEO of National Grid – “I admire his poise and wisdom through thick and thin”.

FRANCIS BALL, Chairman of Bridge Community Farms and ex-UK MD of Costco Wholesale – “Passion, drive and a determination to make things happen”.

Robert says: “I could see the business’s potential but the old board was all about selling to a much larger organisation.

Robert is excited about the future for both EA Technology and the wider energy market.

“It was a high risk strategy. Along with some senior colleagues, we asked the then 90 employees if they would back us in negotiating with the board. They did and we made an offer they could not refuse.”

“Electric battery storage, electric vehicles and local generation of energy through turbines, PV and biomass are changing the face of the energy landscape. Homes, businesses and entire districts are now able to become more self-sufficient in meeting their energy needs.

Robert is a great believer in not being afraid to make mistakes. “Mistakes are a learning opportunity, not something to be chastised for. We have definitely got things wrong along the way. I have made some terrible appointments and made some poor business decisions. But fear of failure is the biggest restriction on growth in Britain.”

“This is hugely exciting for EA Technology and the wider community. If we get it right, we can become a £100million business within 10 years and maybe even a £1billion company.”

Revving up

Handmade jewellery

We love Wirral born baker Paul Hollywood in the BBC’s Big Continental Road Trip. Catch Paul checking out the Ferrari selection in the Ferrari-factory town of Maranello in Italy, driving round Rome in a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder with Bruno Tonioli and even visiting a laundry service in Verona in a yellow Piaggio Apes.

Chester based With Grace is a gorgeous range of individually designed sterling silver handmade bracelets and rings founded by textiles graduate Beth Evans. Their contemporary stackable pieces are the perfect option for those who love to customise and experiment with their individual style.

Watch the whole series on BBC iPlayer.

Fuelling up Starting the day with a FUEL10K Porridge Pot. It’s a perfect nourishing protein hit and, when you’re strapped for time in the morning, the cheeky 70g pots make the perfect breakfast on the go. The only dilemma is which flavour to choose - Golden Syrup, Original, Forest Fruits, Honey Nut & Raisin, Chocolate or Apple & Cinnamon.

e v o l e w Crying out loud He has appeared in his full regalia in films with comedian Steve Coogan and actress Alex Kingston but we know him best for being Chester’s fabulous Town Crier. David Mitchell, who has hosted four World Town Crier Tournaments in Chester, provides a colourful welcome to the city. Did you know? Groups of between 2-20 people can book a one-hour tour of the more quirky aspects on Chester in the company of the Town Crier. For costs, contact /town-crier-services

Mad as a hatter A quirky Tearoom located in the 350 year old St Michael’s Rectory on Chester’s Bridge Street Row, Mad Hatters offers fun for all the family. The multi-award-winning venue serves breakfasts, elevenses, light lunches, and its speciality, Afternoon Tea, seven days a week and also plays host to an array of private functions and corporate events. Why not take a trip down the rabbit hole?

Shack up Looking for a co-working space with a difference? The Sheds at Pacific Road, Wirral is a state-of-theart co-working space nestled in the heart of Woodside, overlooking the River Mersey and stunning Liverpool skyline. A space for creative collaboration, The Sheds at Pacific Road provides desks in an open-plan shared space, as well as private shed space in the recently-refurbished Pacific Road Arts Centre.

A little tapas bar

Morning coffee

If it has been a hard day at work and you need a little sunshine in your life, head to the incredible Porta tapas bar on Northgate Street in Chester.

There’s nothing like the sensuous smell of freshly roasted coffee – especially when you’re working to a tight deadline and need a crafty caffeine hit.

This gem of a place will cheer your soul. We love its buzzy atmosphere, excellent staff and the constant flow of seriously good food. Don’t leave without tucking into their scrummy king prawns, tomato bread and heavenly air-dried beef. If it’s packed inside, simply grab a seat at one of their picnic benches set directly under the walls of the city.

Be inspired Welsh adventurer and extreme athlete Ash Dykes has spent a decade living dangerously. Read his ‘Mission: Possible’ to see what it takes to impress Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulph Fiennes. £9.99 from

Tourism mania We love the fact that Liverpool seems busier than ever with tourists from around the world. Young and old. We particularly love the city’s Baltic Triangle, which is currently enjoying a strong renaissance, and where there’s a great bunch of watering holes, eateries and nightlife venues. Our creative designer Tom says check out the superb new live music concert venue Hangar 34 on Greenland Street.

We like grabbing a Lyons Coffee Bag before we leave the house. Quick and easy to use, the individually foil wrapped coffee bags can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Simply add freshly boiled water and brew for three minutes. Yum. Available in three different strength varieties, plus a decaf option, there’s a coffee to suit every mood and taste.

Cath Harrison is shaking up the way employers recruit.

Doing things differently

Cath Harrison knows the recruitment industry inside out. She set up her first company at 19 and also had spells working for some of the UK’s biggest recruiters. Just over three years ago, Cath set up JVP Group with the intention of doing things differently. If JVP’s rapid growth is anything to go by, the young entrepreneur certainly seems to have struck a chord with employers and jobseekers alike. This year, the company will increase turnover by more than 150% and, in the process, will double the size of its own team. The company, based in Bodelwyddan, North Wales, works closely with UK employers providing comprehensive support to help them attract and identify the best talent. Support includes employer branded advert writing, multiple job board advertising, social media promotion, access to JVP’s cloud-based applicant management software, along with skills, knowledge and psychometric testing. JVP also runs JVP Jobs Online – – and last month launched its latest offering, Jobs in North Wales – – which is specifically aimed at matching businesses with jobseekers in the region. JVP’s roll call of clients makes impressive reading and includes Arriva TrainCare, Boots Hearingcare, Chester Zoo and Clogau Gold. Cath says: “When I set up JVP, I didn’t want to be another recruitment company. I had been there, done that and believed passionately that there was a better way of doing things.

“I strongly believe in the importance of employers using the power of their brands to attract people and engage more with potential applicants rather than everything being handled by an agency and restricted database. “Social media has also changed the recruitment landscape significantly in recent years and harnessing the online world to maximum effect is a key service we are able to offer clients. “From the jobseekers’ perspective, there is also the frustration of seeing adverts promoted by agencies for ‘our client’ rather than spelling out which company is recruiting.” The launch of Jobs in North Wales is a natural extension of Cath’s philosophy. She adds: “The new jobs site is all about providing a platform for employers and jobseekers to connect directly. “We identified a gap in the market for a jobs site which is wholly focused on North Wales. It is the only jobs site dedicated entirely to the region. “North Wales has a dynamic economy with ambitious companies across a range of sectors including hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, healthcare and technology. “Over time, our plan is to build a community online which not only works for employers and jobseekers but also acts as a powerful advertisement for North Wales as a whole.” JVP regularly supports businesses which are looking to recruit across a wide range of roles, from senior management roles to administration roles, which are always heavily sought after.

From time to time, the company is asked to help with some more unusual roles such as a safari ranger at Chester Zoo and, most recently, Head Engineer at Talyllyn Railway, who is responsible for the upkeep of the seven steam locomotives running at the much-loved tourist attraction. Cath says: “As a company, we are growing rapidly through repeat business and an ever growing client base. Our clients tell is they find our approach refreshing.”

We identified a gap in the market for a jobs site which is wholly focused on North Wales. It is the only jobs site dedicated entirely to the region.

Reader Offer: JVP is offering employers a complimentary upgrade to its Premium Package – a saving of £150! Quote HM magazine when you email:


FOOD CHAMPION Paul Askew left New York in the Nineties to come back to Liverpool. Since then, the Chef Patron of Liverpool’s acclaimed Art School Restaurant has played a key role in the foodie renaissance of the city which now boasts more than 1,500 restaurants, many of which are unique. Paul cites Liverpool’s status as the Capital of Culture in 2008 as a pivotal moment in its regeneration. “It was a great opportunity for the city,” he says. “And it also set a culinary bar that restaurateurs in Liverpool stepped up to. “Today, it is restaurants like Mowgli, Maray and East Avenue Bake House that are critical to developing a sense of place and creating the food tourism this city offers.” Paul, who has worked at the Philharmonic and was the man behind the London Carriage Works, realised a lifetime’s ambition to open a fine dining restaurant in Liverpool when he unveiled The Art School in 2014. The building is located in the stunning lantern room of the Victorian 1888 Home for Destitute Children building on Sugnall Street. The restaurant, known for its local produce and seasonal ingredients, won the Visit England Excellence Taste of England awards and was recently named in the Sunday Times Top 100 restaurants in the UK.

“It was a magnificent achievement for the team at the restaurant,” laughs Paul. “But I was equally as proud to have put the city on the map in such a prestigious listing. “We have made great strides in Liverpool, but we’ve got more to do in training and developing the young chefs and service teams of the future. We want to ensure our very best gastronomic talent stays in the North West and we don’t lose it to London.” Paul featured on the 2017 series of the Great British Menu and will launch his debut book in November.

A piggy story This little fellow has been capturing people’s imagination on the Art School Restaurant’s Twitter feed. Paul explains: “When I was 11, and started playing rugby, my school mates gifted me the nickname of Porky. “I’ve grown quite attached to the name, particularly given my profession, so when we were creating the look and feel for the restaurant I decided to add a few personal touches. “With the help of my son Harry, we found this little pig when we were looking for a period piece of door furniture. It always makes me chuckle.”

Any mentors? Lots over the years from my first Head Chef at Thornton Hall, a real old school professional, to a gentleman in New York called Joe Maloney, who not only advanced my culinary skills but developed my man management, motivation and team work skills. What inspires you? The quality of the ingredients I work with and finding the best suppliers and producers. I’m also inspired by developing people, not just as a waiter or a chef or sommelier, but as a person as well. What do you look for in your team? The most important thing for me is to find people who go that extra step to exceed expectations. Your greatest moment? Being asked to cook for The Queen was a tremendous honour but opening The Art School Restaurant in 2014 was very special too. It represents my life’s work. Best advice you have received? I’m anchored by my mother’s advice which was, regardless of what life throws at you, well, you’ve got to laugh. ” We’ve always had a good sense of humour in our family. Your favourite meal? I adore wild food, so it would have to be fish like halibut, lobster or crab or venison.

The Art School Restaurant 1 Sugnall Street, Liverpool L7 7EB. Tel: 0151 230 8600

clarity of thought – AND HOW IT CAN STRENGTHEN BUSINESS FOUNDATIONS Legal Sector Management Consultant Simon McCrum talks about his business career and his work with Hillyer McKeown When I look back on my 10 or so years of running a law firm, it is hard to believe how many things I had my eye on, and hard to believe how few things I should have had my eye on. I certainly realise now how much more focused my time and energy could have been. My law firm was acquired by a larger business, and having exited I am now well placed to help firms to maximise their own potential. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work in this way with Hillyer McKeown (HM). My contribution is that I bring experience (made up of my having got lots right and lots wrong over my years of law firm management), and a healthy dose of clarity of thought (I now get 2 emails a day instead of 200). I tailor activity to the business I am working with. One size, one direction, and one speed, does not fit all. HM’s contribution in this process is to be open-minded. It is too easy to reject comment on your business and assume that what you are doing cannot be bettered. Businesses which really do mean business are open to such examination and input. What evolves (where this is the case) is teamwork between the business and its Management on the one hand, and the external Management Consultant on the other. The team at HM has been extremely open to my input. It is not hard to see the imagination, vision, and energy that abounds within HM. I am confident that a touch on the tiller and a foot on the accelerator are going to reap great reward for their business. It is also good to see the firm practice what they preach. They recognised that external input and advice played an important part in their own growth strategy and brought in the right person to work with them.

Back to business basics Whilst I am a huge supporter of vision and activity, this has to be supported by a watchful eye on other areas too. Looking back, I am

critical of some areas of my previous business as I now see that I could have invested more time in some business basics. My business was at one stage (having been in a turnaround situation), the fastest-growing law firm in the country. Fastest-growing in turnover terms, that is. Were I to do it all over again, as well as focusing on our existing clients, I would focus on productivity, margins, and cash. Where those devils are under control, growth is comfortable rather than stressful. It is also this focus on basics that I bring to law firms, so that foundations are strengthened and high levels of growth can be pursued. HM and I are moving nicely along this route right now. Of course, implicit in ’changing up a gear‘ is ’change‘. It doesn’t have a good name. In my experience the pain can be reduced – in fact, removed – and ‘change‘ exercises can become fun and exciting. The key is communication and treating people like people – I always ask myself what would be needed to get me on board with a new idea. All someone would have to do is: 1. Talk openly with me. 2. Explain what we were trying to improve (and why). 3. Ask for my input, and continue open communications with me. It works every time! I’m thoroughly enjoying my work with HM, and if I was to guess where they will be in the future compared to firms which don’t value and work with the clarity of thought and experience that an ’outsider‘ can bring, my money’s firmly on HM.

To find out more, visit or connect with Simon on LinkedIn

never stop innovating HM Magazine catches up with Ray Howard, our very own business trouble-shooter. Ray Howard loves to tell the story of how he was turned down by the legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly in 1966. However, Liverpool’s loss has most certainly been business’s gain. During an illustrious career spanning almost five decades, Ray has worked in senior management roles for multinational companies including Huntsman Chemicals, where he rose to be both a Vice President and Managing Director. For the past 20 years, Ray has worked with hundreds of owner managed companies, helping them navigate the often complicated path to growth and prosperity. Along the way, he took on the role of Chief Executive with Hillyer McKeown and, today, continues his association with the firm as Managing Director of HM Business Growth, our business consultancy arm. Together with colleagues Steve Harvey and Nick Mason, Ray facilitates the HM War Room, which gives business owners the opportunity to work through opportunities and challenges in a confidential, dynamic environment.

“A lot of the business fundamentals I learnt at Huntsman are just as relevant today in the HM War Room. Unless you have your strategy, structure, employee engagement and implementation plan right, you will find real success elusive.”

What I’ve learnt… • Keep innovating or stagnate... • Think entrepreneurial...

• Build long-term relationships... • Give credit to others...

• Treat people as you would want to be treated... • Be a good listener...

• Be generous with your time...

• Encourage a positive culture...

• Recruit people who will challenge you...

• Adopt a cup half full approach, even in difficult times...

Ray says: “I love nothing more than getting under the skin of a business, understanding what and who makes it tick and then helping to make a difference. “As I like to say to clients, I’ve been around the block ten thousand times so I can usually identify issues or opportunities that may have been missed or overlooked. “Working for a large, multinational organisation like Huntsman was an incredible experience. I spent a lot of my time trying to anticipate what Jon (Huntsman) was planning for expansion across Europe and then getting on with the job of making it happen.

To book a place in the HM War Room, email: or call 01244 357236.

avenue HQ

Co-working Cool BRUNTWOOD

The way we work is changing.

exchange STATION

And the North West offers some of the most outstanding examples of workplace excellence. One company leading the way is Penketh Group, which has recently opened a stunning Worklife Showroom in Bruntwood’s Neo building in Manchester to complement its longstanding Wirral head office. Penketh Group has designed the 4,700 sq ft eighth floor so that it gives visitors the chance to explore the latest ideas in workplace design, the newest furniture trends and technology development for improved collaboration and flexible, more efficient working. There is also a library area with a wide range of fabrics and finishes. The firm also supplied the cutting-edge furniture for Bruntwood’s new co-working space in the £8million flagship building on Charlotte Street.

Down at Liverpool’s Mann Island, there is a touch of New York with the opening of the uber cool £1million, 16,000 sq ft Avenue HQ workspace. The campus mixes private offices, flexible workspace, co-working, meeting rooms and events. It is supported by Barclays Eagle Labs, the bank’s 11th such facility in the UK. The entrepreneurs behind Avenue HQ are Matt Kennedy and Karl Connolly.


Matt said: “We are tapping into a global cultural shift in the way people want to work.

The innovative space includes meeting rooms, social zones where people can meet for coffee, nomadic zones where workers can quickly unpack and work for an hour and comfortable lounge seating with cubby-hole spaces for short-term focus work. You can even work outside on the large open-air roof terrace with all-weather meeting pods and built-in outdoor heaters. Chris Birchall, a designer with Penketh Group, said: “Many of the best innovations come from interactions that can happen anywhere in the office and not just in the traditional desk-based setting.

“We will have start-ups and freelances working alongside more established companies. Too many businesses fail because they operate in isolation. We want to rewrite the rules by providing the support and human contact that is essential for business growth.” Among the companies which helped to make the entrepreneurs’ vision a reality were Liverpool fit-out and construction firm Aztec and Day Architectural. Avenue HQ also includes a coffee shop, Cuppa Coffee, providing members with an additional social space. There is also a bar called Lobby @ Avenue HQ. Matt added: “In five years’ time, a big part of whether Avenue HQ has been successful will be the impact we have had on businesses in Liverpool and elsewhere. For some this might mean going from startup to established company while, for others, it might mean becoming global names.”

“It’s why we are increasingly seeing a demand for co-working spaces as employers look for more flexible solutions to allow their people to work in new, more creative and collaborative ways.” Hillyer McKeown has, itself, moved into one of Liverpool’s coolest work spaces, Exchange Station, situated in the heart of the city’s business district. The central core of the former Victorian railway station has been completely transformed to incorporate a stunning concourse and newly refurbished offices suites which meet the technology, security, sustainability and design requirements of modern businesses.

avenue HQ

Curtain’s up It took 300,000 man hours to create and 85 buses worth of steel to build and is Chester’s spectacular new arts venue.

The £37 million creation that is Storyhouse is open for business. And it has got the wow factor in buckets. Incorporating breath-taking design with a state-of-the-art theatre, 100-seat single screen cinema and dramatic library with shelves and shelves of books which wend their way through the building, Storyhouse is the largest public building ever to be erected in the city.

Look out for... The legendary Blood Brothers arrives at Storyhouse on 9th October. It will run until 14th October.

Following a decade-long absence of a city centre cinema and theatre, this cultural hub brings two unique theatre spaces, a boutique cinema, restaurant and bars, and a ground-breaking new library to Chester. It is the result of a major partnership between Storyhouse and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Jenny Eclair‘s smash-hit show How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane), comes to Storyhouse on 19th October.

Artistic director Alex Clifton said: “We’re proud to open Storyhouse in Chester and we’re getting a fantastic reception from visitors.

Following a hugely successful 2016 Australian and UK tour, Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company of South Australia’s critically acclaimed 'Things I Know To Be True' will be live at Storyhouse from 7th - 11th November.

“It is more than just a theatre. Our innovative spaces transform to accommodate everything from ambitious touring shows to more intimate productions and at its full capacity we can seat 800 people. We’re hoping to welcome people from all over the region as well as across the UK and overseas.” The painstaking work to transform what was Chester’s defunct art deco Odeon in to today’s epic new building took over four years. Many of the original features have been saved and restored. The coming months will see an interesting programme of drama, dance, comedy and music while Storyhouse’s library will teem with creative activity including clubs, workshops and music groups, offering something for people of all ages. Meanwhile, on the ground floor, the restaurant and café serve up innovative Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired food, making it the perfect spot for meeting friends and family, or reading the paper in peace over a civilised morning coffee.

The acclaimed all male dance company BalletBoyz perform their new show on 30th October.

Tickets on sale now online, in person at Storyhouse or Chester Visitor Information Centre or call on 0844 815 7202

Get 15% off The Secret Seven


- coming to Storyhouse on December 1st by quoting code HMMAG at the checkout.

All in a name Myles Platt

Two companies that understand about the importance of brand more than most are Moorcroft Construction and Butler Builders. MOORCROFT CONSTRUCTION Anyone driving along the M53 by Ellesmere Port will no doubt have spotted the Moorcroft Construction sign on the side of the firm’s building. Another prominent Ellesmere Port employer, General Motors, has played a key part in the Moorcroft story – and continues to do so to this day. Moorcroft traces its origins back to 1934 and in its early years specialised in reinforced concrete. Its principal client was the old

London Borough Council for whom it built deep underground bomb shelters in the lead up to the Second World War. After the war, the then owners of Moorcroft moved the company to Luton to take advantage of opportunities to provide building and maintenance services to GM’s headquarters. When GM decided to build a new plant in Ellesmere Port in the early 1960s, Moorcroft was chosen to deliver the same services in the North West.

In 1976, Moorcroft was acquired by southern based JA Elliott with the intention of broadening its Northern client base. Business was good, fuelled by the demand during the 80s and 90s for new commercial buildings and extensions. By the end of the 80s, the Moorcroft name had gone and been replaced by Elliott (Northern) Limited. No sooner had the company rebranded than it was hit by the recession. JA Elliott went into receivership, resulting in the first of two management buyouts of the Elliott (Northern) business in two years. The second management buyout in 1993 saw the two resident directors in Ellesmere Port, Mike Lee and Stuart Howard, take over and restore the Moorcroft name. It made perfect sense, especially as the majority of clients in the region had never stopped referring to Moorcroft. It was a proud moment for Mike who first worked for Moorcroft in Luton as a joiner under his father Benny, a manager who worked for the company for 46 years before retiring on his 70th birthday. Mike continued to take the business from strength to strength across both building and civil engineering services winning contracts with some of the biggest industrial and commercial names in the North West.

The business faced another crossroads a couple of years ago when Mike passed away. Stepdaughter Jan, who had worked for Moorcroft since 2002, and husband Myles decided that they would take the business forward together. Myles left his management role with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, to join the family business as Managing Director. Myles said: “Jan and I looked at the business at the end of 2014 and decided there was so much potential for further growth. We also had an in-house team of 40, many of whom had been with Moorcroft for a long time.” Urenco, Cargill, Balfour Beatty, Peel Ports and, of course, General Motors are among today’s Moorcroft clients. The company has been a longstanding client of Hillyer McKeown and, more recently, has worked with the law firm’s Marketing arm, HM Creative, on a new brand, website and PR campaign. Myles said: “Jan and I are extremely proud of the Moorcroft name and honoured to be able to take the business forward. Our own son, Tom, is keeping the family tradition going having recently joined the company. “While maintaining the family name and all its heritage, we felt it was a good time to give ourselves a bit of a makeover. The response we have had from customers and industry partners has been extremely positive.”

BUTLER BUILDERS Andy Butler has big plans for his company, Butler Builders… and mighty shoes to fill. Andy’s grandfather was a well-known North Wales businessman whose firm, WS Butler, was highly regarded for the quality of its building work. It even had its own wood yard, producing everything by hand. During the Second World War, WS Butler swung behind the war effort, building lifeboats that were floated at Shotton Docks before going on to the ships in Liverpool. After the war years, the business continued to grow with Andy’s grandfather – a shrewd entrepreneur – buying land and building a substantial number of homes in Hawarden and other parts of Deeside.

When William died, Andy’s father, also William, was only 16 and with the help of colleagues initially kept the family name going as WI Butler, before deciding to focus his efforts on another, totally separate family business, Butler TVs. Three years ago, Andy revived the Butler name in the building trade, this time as Butler Builders. Andy says: “In a way, there is a bit of unfinished business. I love the history of the company and share similar values to my grandad. He was a real entrepreneur and was always looking for opportunities to grow his business. He even made his own manhole covers with the Butler name on. “I suppose I am happy to take calculated risks. One of the biggest ones was telling my wife I was going to go it alone when she was pregnant.” The new Butler Builders has quickly established a strong reputation, operating from its base on the Garden City Industrial Estate in Deeside.

Andy Butler

We pride ourselves on a fully transparent service and total client satisfaction. We make a point of explaining the process to all of our clients and involving them in every stage of a project.

The company provides a full range of building and maintenance services to domestic and commercial customers. Butler is the closest reactive building company to the vast Deeside Industrial Estate, something that has helped it win clients including Brakes and Henrob. Andy says: “We pride ourselves on a fully transparent service and total client satisfaction. We make a point of explaining the process to all of our clients and involving them in every stage of a project. “This kind of collaboration means projects run as smoothly as possible from start to finish and ensures they are delivered on time and within budget. We also turn up when we say we will! “My background is in running projects, working with clients to develop and bring to reality. We love nothing more than to be involved in a project from the very start, helping to influence the design and decision-making process.” Andy says: “I am extremely ambitious and driven and have big plans for Butler Builders. We will be doing a lot of work on our branding, website and marketing over the coming months as we look to take the business to the next level.”

Make time to protect your business First of all, a couple of facts.

Seventy per cent of business owners do not have a will. And, of those who do, in the majority of cases, the will is either inadequate or out of date. The consequences of not devoting the time to your ‘business will’ can be both far reaching and expensive. A lack of provision upon death or long-term illness can mean business partners you have not selected or who are wholly unsuitable sitting around the Boardroom table. In certain cases, the Partnership Act may require a business to be dissolved. A further potential consequence of failing to protect your business could be unnecessary tax liabilities running to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Following extensive research, Hillyer McKeown will, in early 2018, launch its innovative Business Will product which will enable business owners to take the steps to give themselves commercial peace of mind.

The Business Will has been developed in partnership with Rightwill with the initiative being led by Hillyer McKeown Partner and Head of Wills & Probate Ruth Heap.

A survey of 27 solicitors specialising in preparing wills for clients revealed that 25 did not or could not address the specific issues facing a business owner. Ruth explains: “Our new Business Will is extremely innovative within the legal market. We have brought together private client and commercial know-how to develop a product that will give a business owner and their family complete protection. “In addition to the business owner, we will also work with the client’s accountant to ensure joined up and coherent advice. We will then continue to monitor the business to ensure it continues to remain completely relevant to the client’s needs.” Each Business Will is bespoke to the individual client and will ensure that: Trusts are built in to prevent the payment of unnecessary taxes at 40%. A business power of attorney is appointed ensuring the best person safeguards your business interests when you are no longer able to. A full review of any partnership / shareholders agreements are undertaken. Over the coming months, all Hillyer McKeown clients will be offered a free review and advice given on their potential Business Will requirements. Ruth added: “Most business owners are short on time and sorting out their own affairs often comes down their list of priorities. In far too many cases, business owners fail to protect themselves until it is too late. “By investing a couple of hours of your time, you can now gain the right professional advice and put in place a Business Will that will give you the knowledge that you have done everything you can to safeguard the business you have spent many long hours building.”

To book your free Business Will review, email Ruth at or call her on 01244 616630

CYBER CRIME don’t bury your head in the sand Cyber crime is one area of your business that you might not see as a priority. After all, hackers wouldn’t be interested in your systems, would they? You’d be surprised. Data can change hands for huge sums – after all, information is power. Even if you don’t lose valuable data, a crippled IT system could cost you a fortune, effectively shut down your business, stop you trading and, ultimately, lose you customers. Even though you may think it won’t happen to you, the statistics are frightening. A huge 33% of small businesses and 65% of large businesses have reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months, according to Government data.

Here are our tips to keep your business safe:

ACT NOW Knowing where to begin in the battle against the hackers can be tricky, but the good news is that simple steps can be very effective. Every business should:

CYBER ESSENTIALS The UK Government has introduced a certification scheme – Cyber Essentials – aimed at protecting small and medium-sized businesses from the all-too-prevalent attacks on their IT systems and their customer’s data. Cyber Essentials allows you to demonstrate to your customers, investors, insurers and others that you’ve taken the right steps to reduce your risk of falling victim to cyber crime and, critically, that you’re keeping data secure.

ONGOING PROTECTION AND SUPPORT Looking at cyber protection isn’t a one-off task. The methods used in cyber crime are always evolving. Defences must be kept up to date and systems monitored. Plans need to be in place to identify and deal effectively with any breaches.


Urban IT Solutions in Daresbury specialises in managed IT, support and security.



By Sam Spiro,


Managing Director of Urban IT Solutions

With these controls in place, a business is in a much stronger position and implementing all the steps needn’t be expensive. What’s more, having a planned defence strategy can help to win more business.

Craig Bartlett

waging war on mdf waste Nick Mason talks to an entrepreneur behind a world first technology. It is not often that you meet business people who are truly inspirational. Craig Bartlett is one such person. Craig is behind the technology which provides the world’s first ever recycling solution for the DIY-er’s favourite material, medium density fibreboard, better known as MDF. Craig’s quietly spoken manner hides a fierce determination to make his innovative technology a commercial reality. After more than seven years of sheer persistence, drive and dedication, he is closer than ever to realising his dream. Proof of concept trials to develop a commercially viable process to recover wood fibre from used or off-cuts of MDF recently concluded successfully.

It takes Craig’s company, MDF Recovery, a big step towards providing the first ever alternative to landfilling or incinerating MDF. It was during his time working at the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) that the businessman became aware of the scale of the problem. He says: “MDF recycling was one of the major cost issues in the industry at the time. The UK alone produces one million m3 of MDF a year. There was and remains an urgent need for a solution to be brought to market.

The recycling process we have developed is a genuine world first. There is no other environmentally friendly alternative to the use of landfill or burning to dispose of MDF waste.

“Our technology can be retro-fitted or designed into new plants and offers a robust solution for reworking waste and increasing the yield at the MDF manufacturing facility. Zero waste production is now a real possibility.”

MDF was first devised in the 1970s and today more than 50million tons are produced globally every year, servicing the furniture, construction and DIY markets. MDF Recovery is a virtual tenant at Menai Science Park (MSParc), the wholly owned subsidiary of Bangor University which is currently under construction. The university’s BioComposites Centre has been an important partner and is now making boards from the recycled fibre. Craig adds: “Dr Rob Elias and his team at Bangor have played a hugely important part in our story so far. Prototyping and pilot scale production are vital when developing new technologies.” Rob is one of a small number of specialists who were invited to join an advisory panel set up by Craig to provide him with a sounding board and expertise along the way. Others include Geoff Rhodes, a former President of the Timber Trade Federation, and Ray Howard, Managing Director of HM Business Growth, who has worked closely with Craig on his evolving commercial strategy.

The technology can also process industrial and commercial forms of MDF waste, allowing manufacturers to take back material from their customers – a so called ‘closed loop’ solution.

Looking to the future, Craig says: “There are a number of different routes we could go down with different partners. One option is putting in place licensing agreements while another could be the building of a full-scale commercial plant.

Not surprisingly, Craig’s technology has already attracted significant interest, not least from MDF manufacturers and retailers.

“The technology we have developed gives the MDF industry and those connected with it the opportunity to transform the way they do things.”

If MDF Recovery gets its strategy right, the potential for its recycling technology is global. Already enquiries have come in from as far afield as Turkey and Korea, while the Chinese MDF market is the same size as the entire European market. Craig has been able to get to the verge of commercialisation thanks to the support and funding of Innovate UK, a group of angel investors and, most recently, the injection of £250,000 from SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK. Craig, whose company is North Wales-based, says: “It has been a long and, at times, tough journey to get to this point. “It is exciting to have successfully completed proof of concept and to now have some very positive conversations going with a range of people within the industry.” The solution generates a new raw material source for the wood/natural fibre industry that reduces the demand on standing forests. The recovered fibre is of the same high quality as virgin wood fibre and provides feedstock to the manufacturers of MDF board, insulation products and horticultural growing products.

TIME TO HM Head of Employment Justine Watkinson explains why employee engagement matters in the workplace.


“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

Facebook and Virgin are two shining examples, albeit on a very large scale, of why employee engagement matters.

So says Virgin tycoon Richard Branson who knows a thing or two about building successful brands worth many billions of pounds.

But employee engagement strategies are now being increasingly adopted by smarter SMEs who recognise the many benefits of getting it right in the workplace. Why does it matter?

Another global business leader, Mark Zuckerberg, adopts a similar position when he says: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.”

Well, younger employees today – often referred to as ‘Millennials’ – expect far more than a job, a desk and chair and 20 days’ holiday. While there is no universal definition for employee engagement, there are a few key drivers including job satisfaction, a clear link to achievement and performance and commitment and loyalty. Employees want to understand a boss’s vision and to feel that they are working in a supportive, collegiate environment. A strong culture and values matter. In turn, businesses that get it right are more likely to stay competitive, grow and, crucially, get the most from their people.

“I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.” Mark Zuckerberg



Organisations in the top quartile of employee engagement scores had 18% higher productivity than those in the bottom quartile.

Organisations in the top quartile of engement scores demonstrated revenue growth 2.5 times greater than those in the bottom quartile.

PROFIT Companies with engagement scores in the top quartile had twice the annual net profit than those in the bottom quartile.

EMPLOYEE TURNOVER Companies with high levels of engagement show turnover rate 40% lower than companies with low levels of engagement.

CUSTOMER SERVICE Companies with top quartile engagement scores average 12% higher customer advocacy.

INNOVATION 59% of engaged employees said that their job brings out their most creative ideas against 3% of those less engaged.

Hillyer McKeown offers a range of fixed price packages to help businesses introduce successful employee engagement strategies into their organisations. To find out more, contact Justine on 01244 616609 or email:

KING ta walk of THE


He is a former Liverpool John Moores University student who started designing clothes from his bedroom at the age of just 15. Today, Matthew O’Brien is a high fashion womenswear couture label selling collections straight from the runways of London and Paris.

Matthew, 27, who opened a boutique bearing his name in Chester last year, believes his background has served him well in fashion design. “I have a fashion design degree but also completed night classes in electronics and robotics whilst at university. Thanks to my studies, I am meticulous about the internal structure of a garment,” he chuckles. His boutique sells his seasonal couture collections along with ready to wear pieces and Matthew also offers complete made to measure and bespoke options for all of his customers, who range from world-famous pop divas to some of the region’s leading businesswomen. Due to demand, he has recently doubled his manufacturing space and front of house show room. But his proudest moment to date, he says, has to be winning Britain’s Top Designer and becoming the first fashion designer in the region to hold the largest couture catwalk in his home town of Chester earlier this year. He says: “I was so proud to host this event in the fabulous Chester Cathedral which raised nearly £3,000 for the Babygrow Appeal at the Countess of Chester Hospital, the Meningitis Research Foundation and Chester Cathedral. “I really wanted to bring high fashion to Chester and to create an annual fashion calendar in the city. It was also a great chance to showcase some of my couture collections along with samples of my bespoke race wear and bridal pieces.” As for the future? It’s looking bright as Matthew continues to put his stamp on the city, becoming a pioneer for a new direction of fashion in Chester. “I will keep developing my seasonal collections and plan to open a second boutique,” Matthew said. “Best advice I’ve been given? Believe in yourself, be unique and always strive to do better.”

ABOUT MATTHEW Liverpool John Moores entrepreneurial fellow Designed a collection for Alfa Romeo Represented the UK at Fast Fashion Paris Awarded with highly commended by Hillary Alexander Winner of Britain's Top Designer

Matthew O’Brien, 7 Rufus Court, Chester CH1 2JW

Karma Yoga Vest, £45 Time Trial Run Shorts, £55 Swiftie Run Cap, £20

IN A SWEAT Championship Tennis Dress, £125 Run Visor, £30

Sabbatical Retreat Poncho, £110 Twilight 7/8 Trousers, £110

With thanks to Sweaty Betty in Manchester and online at

New look Piccolino The first Prosecco bar has opened in Chester with a range of 10 Proseccos for customers to tuck into. The clever people behind the Piccolino brand spotted the surge in popularity for this popular sparkling wine from Northern Italy (we will drink more than 412 million bottles by 2020) and have installed a dedicated bar in their new look Pepper Street restaurant.

Top tip:

If you order a glass of Prosecco any afternoon during ‘Aperitivo Time’ (from 4pm until 6pm) you can enjoy cicchetti, elegant Italian style nibbles, for free.


Lunch for four at Piccolino in Chester. You and three business colleagues can enjoy two courses from the lunch and early evening menu plus a bottle of prosecco. The prize can be redeemed Monday-Friday 12-5pm.

To enter please email Piccolino, 33 Pepper Row, Pepper Street, Chester, CH1 1EA Tel: 01244 312 123 chester/

A city in Croatia

Paul Beckett is Head of IT & Operations at Hillyer McKeown

Croatia. It’s the trendy new travel destination. Here HM’s travel writer Paul Beckett writes about his trip to Zadar, a city on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast which is known for its Roman and Venetian ruins.

When you first take in the stunning views from the top of St Donats church in the old town, it’s hard not to shout Zadar in the style of ‘Tadah’. From here you can check out the sprawling old town below, the stunning coastline and the Dalmatian mountains in the distance. This 3,000 year old walled city, situated on the Adriatic coast, is perfect for a weekend break.

During its history, Zadar has been ruled by The Romans, Austria, French, Italy and finally Croatia, and it this intrinsic rich history which is evident in the varying styles of architecture within the old town. History buffs like me are spoilt for choice with the vast array of museums and attractions such as the Roman Forum, Five Wells Square, The city Walls and Gates of Zadar.

Enjoy this...

Visit this...

Relax here...

If you like your attractions a little more ‘quirky’, then check out Zadar’s Sea Organ. Reportedly one of only three in the world (the others being in San Francisco and our very own Blackpool), the sea organ is a fairly unique experience.

Zadar has some beautiful beaches within walking distance of the city walls. The waters of the Adriatic are crystal clear and ideal for snorkelling.

Settle yourself at a table on the decking at Caffe Bar Barka and watch a stunning Adriatic Sunset whilst listening to their very ethereal playlist. An ice cold G&T is a perfect addition.

As the Adriatic waves ebb and flow the sea organ plays its weird tune. It was amusing watching tourist children trying to paddle on the steps of the organ as the Adriatic lapped away at their feet. It was created in 2005 by the artist Nikola Baši, and a little further along the Riva (Zadar’s waterfront) is another of his installations called “Greetings to the Sun”. During the day the 22m diameter circle is a gigantic array of solar panels. But when the sun sets over the Adriatic (which is stunning in itself) the discs become a soothing psychedelic sidewalk light show.

We spent some time at Beach Bar Bamboo and soaked up some sun whilst sampling some of their excellent cocktails. Top tip: make sure you take some surf style shoes if you plan going into the water as this part of the Adriatic is very cobbly.

Drink this... Do try Maraska which is the local cherry brandy. It tastes wonderful because it is processed from nothing but the natural juices of the naturally sour Dalmatian marasca cherries. Dangerously addictive stuff! barkacaffebar

Eat this... Splash out and enjoy beautiful freshly cooked seafood at the Restaurant Groppo, which has an open air terrace inside its own ancient walls which overlook the magnificent St Anastasias Cathedral.

Be local... To walk around the peninsula of the marina takes about 45 minutes (although make sure you do this one day and marvel at the yachts that are berthed in Zadar). Locals don’t do the walk, they use the services of the Barkajoli, which are Zadars version of gondoliers. For a small charge, the men of Zadar keep up this 850-year-old tradition and row you across the 80m entrance to the port. No health and safety in sight, but a very endearing way to get to the old town.

All photos by Ivo Biocina. Courtesy of Croatia National Tourist Board

creating a

vision The biggest artist-only fair outside London is coming back to Chester this autumn. Chester Arts Fair attracts visitors with a genuine passion for art, from serious collectors to those investing in their first piece of original art, and hosts over 80 artists presenting collections of visual art, including photography, sculpture, glass work, paintings, illustration and ceramics. It takes place from 17th to 19th November at Chester Racecourse. Cheshire has a prosperous art scene as well as an established collector base. It’s a dynamic, cultural destination with a reputation for presenting the very best in visual art through its public institutions, private collections, and leading commercial galleries. The event is one of the few fairs around today that exhibits current art and living artists as well as well-known artists from across the century, and a jam-packed programme of talks, tours and live demonstrations, many of which are interactive or performative, will encourage visitors to engage with the artists directly.

Ken Dodd with his portrait. Crocodile sculpture.

The Chester Countess Hospital’s Babygrow Appeal has also been given a boost by being named as the Fair’s official charity partner. At the event, there will be 100 pieces of art exclusively on sale for £100 or less with 100% of proceeds going to the charity. Richard Burnett, Partner at Hillyer McKeown said: “As soon as we met the team behind the Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair there was an immediate synergy and we are proud to become the Fair’s Official Legal Supplier. Their fresh thinking and the way they continually improve the Fair yearon-year is similar to how Hillyer McKeown is committed to delivering its legal and business support services. “We are delighted that the Babygrow Appeal is now the official charity partner of the Deepbridge Chester Art Fair and are looking forward to being involved in this leading cultural event.” Laura O’Hare, Fair Director, said: “We are delighted Hillyer McKeown is supporting us in our mission to promote creativity and innovation via arts and culture events in Cheshire. “Chester Arts Fair offers something for everyone - from affordable and investment art, to a full programme of live art demonstrations and much more.” Ian Warwick, Managing Partner at Deepbridge, headline sponsor of Chester Arts Fair, said: “As an organisation, we offer pioneering UK investment opportunities and are committed to supporting innovation and creative thinking. Whether in the arts or in business, we believe that creativity and innovation is critical to success.”

BBC presenter Louise Minchin (centre) with Fair Directors Laura O’Hare and Shirley-Ann O’Neill.

Join the conversation at @ChesterArtsFair #CAF17 Hillyer McKeown are proud to be the Official Legal Supplier to Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair.

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HM Magazine: Issue 4  

Issue 4 of HM Magazine

HM Magazine: Issue 4  

Issue 4 of HM Magazine