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life’s rich tapestry: meet patchwork’s margaret

part of the furniture: walter’s worklife wisdom

kitchen kickstarter: crowdfunding on the menu

dog detectives: a business not to be sniffed at

a night at the opera: chester grill hits the high notes

mad for it: manchester rediscovered


Importance of strategy fIrsT words:


Since the last issue of HM magazine, we have launched a new initiative called the HM War Room. The War Room gives business owners the opportunity to work ON rather than IN their companies for three precious hours away from the distractions of the office.

Business & Personal services

The sessions, facilitated by HM Business Growth, look at some of the big issues facing entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses including Strategy, Structure, Implementation and Employee Engagement.

“HM provides a one stop shop. The advice was provided on the same day which is what I want! The WHDPZDVDSSURDFKDEOHDQGFRQƂGHQWŔ Vivanne Dineen, Operations Manager, Duerr’s Jam


From the early sessions we have held, the one thing that is apparent is just how much business owners have in common, irrespective of size or sector. Most of our time to date has been spent addressing two fundamental questions: Is the Strategy right? And, is the right Structure in place to achieve the desired growth?

We also drill down into other important topics such as Finance, Marketing, Research, Business Process and Talent. ur

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

We put our money where our mouth is. 1116

Unrivalled client service.

HM writer: Sarah Lowe Design: Tom Baker Photography: Adam Kenrick

Email: Phone: 0151 239 5050

Steve Harvey Managing Partner Hillyer McKeown

Cheshire cereal brand

Chocolate heaven

Fast food experiences

New British infant nutrition brand Castlemil is the brainchild of a group of Cheshire businessmen looking to shake up the category. The cereals are low in salt with no added sugar, artificial colours or preservatives and three are made with whole milk. Stocked in Food Warehouse Iceland.

The HM Magazine team are in love with the deliciously indulgent hot chocolates on offer at the Liverpool Hotel Chocolat Café in Liverpool One. The only problem is which one to choose. Our fave is Salted Caramel Chocolate.

Prince Charles is a fan of award-winning Rhug Organic Farm Shop in Corwen, Denbighshire, and we love their On the Hoof takeaway where you can tuck into everything from matured rump steak baps to bison burgers. If you’re heading out to North Wales at the weekend, it beats any service station.


A box of each of the four Castlemil flavours.

A café sampling for two at Hotel Chocolat Liverpool and £50 credit each to spend in store.*



A Rhug Organic Farm Shop afternoon tea voucher for 2 people.

welove *Prize valid at Hotel Chocolat Liverpool store only. No cash alternative.

Hellish lager A bit of local colour Some of Liverpool’s most recognised landscapes are packed into the charming Liverpool Colouring Book: Past and Present published by The History Press, £9.99. A copy of the book


BE IN IT TO WIN IT! For a chance to win these or any of the other great prizes on offer throughout this issue, simply scan the code or enter the link below. Good luck! Closing date for all competitions is Sunday 26th February.

Bad day at work? Why not unwind with a crisp and dry Hells lager from Camden Brewery. Hells is the lovechild of the brewery’s two favourite German beer styles – Helles and Pilsner.

A good vibe The best garlic bread in town? Tick. Super friendly staff? Tick. Always a great atmosphere? Of course. La Fattoria in Chester’s Lower Bridge Street is one of our favourite Italian haunts.

Quirky pillowcases We love this adorable sausage dog design pillowcase from John Lewis – perfect for canine lovers. £12.

Lovely Leonidas Leonidas Chester on Bridge Street makes us go all weak at the knees at the sight of their lovingly made premium Belgian Chocolates.


A 250g box of Leonidas chocolates

Kicking off our heels According to recent Mintel insight, more British women bought trainers than high-heeled shoes over the past year. We’ll be adding a pair of Adidas Originals Superstars to our wardrobes. JD Sports £75.

Escape to Chester Can you keep your cool in a daring breakout? Find out at Escapism Chester, new to the city. With one way in, one way out and clues, codes and puzzles to crack, it’s the ultimate escape room challenge.


Entry to a room (1 hour) for up to 5 people (value £70)

Margaret says: “Businesses evolve and it’s easy for their owners to get boxed in. Every business needs to get an independent review of how they are doing and strategic input to help them with where they are going. It needs to be someone you respect. “Neil has helped us put a new structure in place which is already leading to increased productivity. And Justine Watkinson, Head of Employment Law at Hillyer McKeown, has been ridiculously awesome with our employment requirements.” So how does she do it? “I’ve always taken control of my life and had the passion and drive to make stuff happen,” she says, smiling. “I came to North Wales to be creative, as a single parent with young children and with very little money. “I found the most perfectly positioned property on the planet, fell in love with it, met Jen and we set up the company with £9 taken from the housekeeping budget.” It all helps keep her grounded, although she has a little extra help too. “I’m a great believer in the power of positive thinking,” she says. “I apply it to the people we recruit – I get a gut feeling about someone within seconds of meeting them – and my mental wellbeing.

The Pâté Queen From left Jenny, Margaret and Rufus

“I use visualisation techniques, see a kinesiologist to balance me, drink three litres of water a day to flush out toxins and take a range of supplements including the mineral selenium.”

Margaret’s business life advice Choose the right companies to work with and support you. Get mentored by people you are slightly scared of.

The next generation of the Carter family – son Rufus – is running the business giving Margaret time to invest in her public speaking and mentoring work with the likes of Big Ideas Wales and Dynamo and acting as Patron of business groups such as I Am Woman based in Cardiff.

When it comes to recruitment, trust your gut feeling but always make sure you verify it with a robust HR process.

She is writing a program to bring employability and soft skills education to schools and youth.

Take ownership of yourself and, if you fall down, get back up and try again.

Keep evolving and be passionate about what you do.

“Not bad going for a dyslexic!” she laughs.

By Lucy Mason

It started at a modest kitchen table inside a shooting lodge in Llandegla. Today, 35 years later, the Patchwork Traditional Food Company in Ruthin has grown into a 10,000 sq.ft. company employing a team of 29 people and has won 85 Great Taste Awards for its pâté and chutneys. Patchwork Pâté founder Margaret Carter, 74, attributes her entrepreneurial drive to being dyslexic. “When I was young, I was written off because I wasn’t very good at reading. It was years later I discovered that I’m actually blessed to be dyslexic. ‘Blessed’ may sound an unusual description for dyslexia, but I always congratulate fellow dyslexics. I believe we have higher IQs,” she chuckles. She has run a number of successful companies since she arrived in the UK from Chile – including a knitwear business selling up and down London’s King’s Road and Harrods - but Patchwork Pâté is today what she is best known for.

All hand-made in small batches to a recipe she found in an old cookbook of her mother’s, flavours include everything from Chilli & Lemongrass Pâté to Welsh Dragon Pâté. They regularly create limited edition lines and products in collaboration with brands including Chase Distillery, Robinson Brewery and Godminster Vodka. And they recently launched a new brand called Mag’s & Jen’s featuring three dairy free smooth pâtés which are attracting attention from national outlets. “Running a business is tough,” she says. “I’ve spent three decades pouring my energy into building this company.” They have undergone a complete review of the business with the help of Neil Burchell, former MD of Rachel’s Organic Dairy, to get it fit for the next decade in business.


A Patchwork Pâté tasting tour for two and a delight hamper. Simply scan the code or enter the link.

How did you get into the law?

What does a typical day involve at Hillyer McKeown?

I didn’t come through the traditional route of university and law school. I became a legal secretary in Dublin when I left school, but then took a year out in Switzerland working as an au pair.

It can be so varied from selling a client’s business to advising on business structures, share options and the commercial aspects of terms and conditions. The team has to be both proactive and reactive. If a client phones with an issue, we have to be able to respond quickly. When there is a transaction on the go, it is our job to keep the momentum going to ensure deadlines aren’t missed.

When I returned I first did a Legal Diploma before gaining an apprenticeship – the equivalent of a training contract – with William Fry Solicitors. I qualified in 1995 but there was a recession in Ireland and no jobs available, so I ended up in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a couple of years doing private client work.

Corporate high-flyer Nick Mason catches up with Anne Scheland, Hillyer McKeown’s Head of Corporate.


“I think our unwavering commitment to providing unrivalled client service is different to most other firms. “ When did you become a corporate lawyer?

What’s your USP? Personally, clients like the fact that I have experience working both for law firms but also client-side. My time with Speedy Hire showed me that the legal side is just one important part of the puzzle and that there are many other commercial drivers that inform a business’s decision-making process. I’m also fairly unusual in being qualified in three territories – England, Ireland and Turks and Caicos Islands! From the firm’s perspective, I think our unwavering commitment to providing unrivalled client service is different to most other firms. What piece of advice would you give business owners? That it is never too early to start planning for change whether that’s growing the business or thinking about retirement and your exit strategy.

As things started to pick up in Ireland, I got a call from my old firm, William Fry, asking me to come back as a corporate solicitor. I did this for a year before moving to a large law firm in England when my husband Dirk, who is an airline pilot, got a job working out of Leeds Bradford International Airport.

Has Brexit had an impact on your clients?

I gained fantastic experience there, working through the night on mergers and acquisitions involving a number of PLCs.

What do you do to unwind?

We then moved to Cheshire and I changed direction by going in-house as an Assistant Company Secretary with Speedy Hire PLC. I did this for three years before moving back into private practice where my main focus was on SME acquisitions and disposals.

Family is most important. Dirk and I have two boys, aged 14 and 11, and enjoy skiing and camping. In the past, I’ve raised a lot of money for charity by taking part in various challenges and I try and get to the gym as much as I can. I also enjoy taking our dog, Cody, for walks.

What’s been your most satisfying legal achievement so far? I’ve been lucky enough to work on some major corporate transactions, but my biggest personal achievement was undoubtedly qualifying as a solicitor. I put myself through night school and studied most weekends for six years. I’d done it the hard way so to finally get there was hugely rewarding.

Initially, there was a sharp intake of breath and one deal did fail to go through, but since then we have seen little effect. The requirement now is a Brexit that is well planned and well delivered to minimise the impact on the UK’s SMEs.

You can contact Anne by email: or phone: 01244 616624.

Collin, how did you come to set up Wagtail? I’d served in the RAF Police force for nearly 24 years. As a Provost Marshal’s Dog Inspector, I had been heavily involved in all aspects of dog handling in the UK, Northern Ireland, Europe and beyond, so this was very much my specialism.

A NOSE FOR TROUBLE After a 24 year career in the RAF Police, Collin Singer left to open his dog training business, Wagtail UK. Established in 2003 in North Wales, his is the only private UK company providing body detection dogs to detect illegal immigrants for the UK Border Force. His expertly trained dogs can detect everything from explosives and firearms to drugs, tobacco and people. Sarah Lowe meets him.

We have won awards – including the Home Office Supplier of the Year Award – and our dogs have appeared on TV on programmes including Ross Kemp’s Extreme World and Crimewatch. What is the ethos behind Wagtail?

When I left the RAF, it was around the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Terrorism, and how we would be fighting it, was very much on the agenda. It’s why I set up Wagtail. Our big break came in 2008 when we were commissioned to do security work in the build-up to the London Olympics.

We have a military ethos. The name Wagtail is actually a call sign for military dog handlers.

How has the business grown since then?

The welfare of the dogs is paramount to everything we do. We have over 100 dogs in the company many of which are unwanted pets. We have fantastic relationships with the likes of Battersea Dogs Home. We also have a re-homing service (Red Paw Rehoming) for the dogs that retire from Wagtail service or who don’t quite make the grade as detection dogs.

There were just two of us in the business when we won the Olympics work but this job gave us huge credibility. Shortly after, we were invited to put a bid in for the UK Border Force. Having won that tender it was an extremely challenging task – we were stretching ourselves massively – but the hard work paid off.

All our detection dog handlers and detection dog training is carried out to British Military and Police standards.

We now employ 62 people based at sites around the world and we also regularly work with the Police, HMRC, the Ministry of Defence, high-profile sporting venues across the UK and on many international projects across the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and Mainland Europe. Working for UK Border Force in Northern France, our sniffer dogs are helping to protect UK Borders 24/7.

Can you tell us some more about Conservation Dogs? On this side of the business we train our dogs in the same way but for wildlife conservation. There are huge issues worldwide with up to 96 elephants being killed every day for ivory, chimpanzees being slaughtered for bush meat and huge issues with the Pangolin – the world’s most trafficked mammal. Our services are being used by governments, conservationists, biologists, ecologists and other wildlife organisations around the world. What are your plans for the business moving forward? @WagtailUK_dogs

We recently launched our new training school - the Wagtail International School of Excellence (WISE). We aspire to be the best training school in the country for detection dog handlers and our courses are endorsed by the Ministry of Defence.


Martha Dress £99.50, The Slingbacks £99.50

Textured Knit Top £59.50, Textured Knit Skirt £69.50, Cleo Flat Point £79.50

With thanks to Boden


Fab Fit Tweed Blazer £149, Cashmere Crew Neck Jumper £129, Freya Pencil Skirt £89.50, Point Mary Jane shoes £129

Clerkenwell Crew £79.50

WeAr Chapman Wye Work Bag £315

Twist Lock Bag £159

Cheaney Chiswick Shoes £330

They have also partnered with the prestigious US-based company Steelcase and offer their world class office furniture, insights and knowledge into the world of work for the North West. The company’s services include Furniture and Interiors, AV and Technology, Managed Print Solutions and Business Supplies.

masters of reinvention

HM talks to Mark Penketh, MD of the Wirral headquartered Penketh Group which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and his dad Walter, who founded the company. From left, Andy, Simon and Mark Penketh. There can’t be many companies that are still supplying their first customer after four decades in business. Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors in Birkenhead placed their first order with The Penketh Group in 1976 and are still a loyal customer today. The Penketh Group is one of the North West’s best known family businesses and is on course for a record-breaking anniversary year. Founded by Walter and Dorothy Penketh from a small shop in Hamilton Square, the early business offered a photocopying service but quickly branched out into stationery and office furniture. Walter, now 84, said: “I came from a humble background in Liverpool and left school at 13. What I lacked in education, I made up for by being entrepreneurial. “I always had a couple of pencils in my top pocket and lots of ideas about how to make money. When I was a young lad, I used to grow plants from seeds and sell them and chop up wood to sell as props for clothes-lines.

“Setting up my own business in the seventies was a big step – I took out a £3,000 bank loan secured against the mortgage – but we worked hard and didn’t take any holidays for four years. “I’ve got lots of happy memories of my workdays and I’m proud that Dorothy and I planted the seeds of what has grown into The Penketh Group of today.” Today, the 80 strong company works with clients across the country to create outstanding working environments to enable them to achieve their business goals. It moved to its current offices on the Croft Business Park in Bromborough in 1988 and earlier this year, the company changed its name from Penketh’s to Penketh Group. Along with the Wirral head office, the company has invested in a new ‘Worklife’ showroom in Manchester city centre as part of their vision to grow the office furniture side of the business.

And it is still very much a family business, led by Managing Director Mark Penketh and his two brothers and co-directors, Simon and Andy. Mark said: “We are proud that, in our 40th year, we continue to go from strength to strength as a business. “One of our strengths is that we have always been willing to reinvent ourselves, identifying opportunities and then putting in place plans to make the most of them. “For example, when we moved to Bromborough we took the decision to move away from print and instead provide a managed print service. More recently, we have invested significantly in growing the office furniture side of the business, building expertise in creating exceptional working environments for our clients which help them achieve the best possible levels of productivity and employee engagement.” “Being a family business gives us a certain strength and we work hard to ensure that every single employee feels part of the wider Penketh Group family.”

Walter’s wisdom Have a hero. Mine included Billy Liddell, a Scottish footballer who played his entire professional career with Liverpool. More recently, I really admire Alan Sugar. Keep your memory sharp. I set myself daily memory tests such as recalling all the teams in the Premier League or all the counties in the UK. Be prepared to work 7 days a week to get your business off the ground. Remember that money does not buy you happiness. People matter far more. Be a bit cheeky.

Gary, who trained at London’s Chez Bruce, says: “We get much of our meat from Edge Butchers, utilise Claremont Farm - especially during asparagus season - and serve local beers from Brimstage Brewery and Liverpool Craft Beer.

It’s a great tool that we have utilised again to raise funds for our third site. We wouldn’t have got any of the other money together without it.”

“Everything in our kitchen is made from scratch, from fresh sourdough and brioche breads every morning to all the icecreams and sorbets on the dessert menu too.”

Gary’s business advice

Several times through the year, the Burnt Truffle puts on guest chef nights where a chef from another restaurant comes to cook a special tasting menu for an evening. So far, they have hosted nights with Ben Spalding, Mark Poynton and Dan Doherty.

the crowdfunding chef HM talks to award-winning chef Gary Usher

Gary Usher likes to do things differently. After opening the acclaimed Sticky Walnut in Hoole, just outside Chester, he went to the banks for help to open a second business. When they refused, Gary turned to his customers for support and coolly crowdfunded it instead. Kickstarter helps creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. The world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, to date it has helped tens of thousands of projects of all sizes to come to life.


Gary recently opened a new crowdfunded restaurant, HISPI in the trendy south Manchester suburbs of Didsbury. More than £25,000 was pledged in the first 24 hours and, after a glowing review of Burnt Truffle by the Observer food critic Jay Rayner (“a kitchen that can do no wrong”), Gary hit his £50,000 target. “Some people wonder why we use crowdfunding when we already have a successful restaurant,” says Gary. “But we reinvest all the money we make back into the business. “Crowdfunding allows the people who know us, like us and who are into what we do to support our work.

* * * * *

Try crowdfunding. An innovative way to raise capital and raise awareness of your upcoming or expanding business. Build a reliable and passionate team. Offer share options to key people. Learn how to prioritise. When I opened Sticky Walnut I had to choose between a combi-oven and tables and chairs. Luckily our customers understood the need for substance over style. Control your costs from day one. Ask for advice. I’m constantly asking for feedback on social media and regularly speak to chefs from around the country.

After raising £100,000 from numerous online pledges via the platform, Heswall’s Burnt Truffle opened in July 2015. “I like the name Kickstarter,” says Gary. “It sounds like kickstarting something. I like the way it works and how it allows me to concentrate on my business without having to rely on outside investors.” Essentially a friendly neighbourhood bistro, Burnt Truffle prides itself on its emphasis on seasonal as well as local produce.

A 3 course meal for two at the Burnt Truffle for one lucky reader.

Simply scan the code or enter the link below.

Burnt Truffle: 106 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral CH60 0AQ. Tel: 0151 342 1111 Sticky Walnut: 11 Charles Street, Hoole, Chester CH2 3AZ. Tel: 01244 400400 Hispi: 1C School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6RD. Tel 0161 445 3996

On A grAnd scAle

Opera Grill is the boldest new restaurant to open in Chester. We spoke to Steven Walker, founder of Individual Restaurants. What is Opera Grill? We are the new 400-seater restaurant and bar from Individual Restaurants, and the sister restaurant to Piccolino and The Restaurant Bar & Grill. Spread across three floors, we have a music lounge for live acts, cocktail bars and a stunning south facing all year round roof terrace. We offer amazing food and drink mixed with great live entertainment.

tell us abOut the buildinG First opened as a Methodist chapel, the striking building dates back to 1836. After World War One, it was hidden behind a garage which went on to manufacture fuselage and spitfire wings in World War Two. With its Grade II listed façade and neoclassical Greek architecture and its impressive white stone pillars, pediment and portico, we wanted to make the building special again.

By using archive pictures, we have painstakingly recreated its original look right down to its steel railings. A further £3 million has been invested to create Opera Grill.

What’s On the menu at Opera? We have 25 metres of counter-height fridges displaying the vast range of fresh produce on offer including colourful vegetables, a cold counter laid out with the freshest raw fish and seafood and an array of cuts of meat. We dry age cuts of meat in-house and our specialities include charcoal steaks from Australia, Argentina and even Kansas. Our open kitchen has a handmade charcoal and wood burning grill which sits between two feature wood burning ovens. Just about everything on our menu is made in front of guests – which all adds to the theatre of the restaurant.


A Club Individual loyalty card pre-loaded with £80 to spend at Opera Grill in Chester. Simply scan the code or enter the link.

Opera Grill, Pepper Street, Chester CH1 1DF. Tel: 01244 343 888.

OPERATION BUSINESS GROWTH This is the HM War Room. It is where business owners come to work ON rather than IN their businesses. We have created an environment for you to explore the opportunities, challenges and frustrations you face in achieving and sustaining business growth. To book your session in the HM War Room email: or call 01244 357236. The intensive 3-hour session costs ÂŁ500+vat and includes a postWar Room action report.


A War Room session. Simply scan the code or enter the link.

A very passionate Welshman

Q&A Nick Mason finds out about the causes that matter to Hillyer McKeown commercial property lawyer Dewi Paddock.

Were you always destined for a career in the law?

What else is on your clients’ agendas?

I didn’t really ever consider anything else. I was always drawn to public speaking and the theatre and loved the romanticism of representing my clients and doing battle in court.

The Northern Powerhouse and the need to ensure it goes much further than HS2 and the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

I did both my undergraduate degree and a Masters in Law at Cardiff University, where I also had a full-time job as a paralegal with Eversheds, before going to law school in Christleton. Did you always want to specialise in property?

The Cheshire and North Wales business communities have a massive part to play and their voices need to be heard. As a director of the Deeside Business Forum, I am actively involved in how the area can link up both politically and in terms of its physical infrastructure.

I was initially drawn towards family law and liked the idea of the cut and thrust of divorce battles.

The opportunities for North Wales as a great place to do business are enormous and it needs to form a key part of any Northern Powerhouse strategy.

But when I started work in Liverpool, I got an opportunity to work in insolvency and corporate restructuring with a heavy focus on property. I then got the chance to move to a large firm in Manchester as a commercial property solicitor where I was working on a lot of property purchases during the boom years of the mid-2000s.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

After a couple of years doing the dreaded Manchester commute, I got a great opportunity to move back to Liverpool where I spent the next eight years working on commercial property transactions for some fantastic clients. Why the move to Hillyer McKeown? The firm I was with in Liverpool had grown massively and I was finding myself spending more and more time churning documentation. I wanted to get back to being able to spend time with clients, really getting to know their businesses and their aims and aspirations. The most satisfying aspect of my job as a solicitor is building relationships with clients and becoming their trusted advisor. What’s a typical day? I love getting into work early and making the most of the hour before the phones and email go crazy.

Without question, the need to be a swan! In my younger days, I was a bit of a hothead lawyer, but with experience and having a young son my personality has mellowed. I now understand the importance of being cool, calm and collected on the surface while paddling away behind the scenes to get the best possible result for my clients. Best kept secret? Definitely the Hopper Coffee Shop in the centre of Chester. I’m slightly biased because they’re a client of mine, but they do the best cup of coffee in the city! How do you unwind? With family. My wife Natalie and I have a little boy, Sebastian, who will be three on Christmas Day! I’m also a committed MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra) and love getting out on my bike. Last year, I did the Coast to Coast Bike Ride. I’m also involved with Liverpool Round Table and every year we deliver Christmas hampers to elderly people living in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the city. It is shocking to see just how much poverty there is in society.

I’ll then spend time drafting or reviewing title documents, progressing matters or quoting for new instructions. I also make a point of getting out to see a few clients each week to see how they are getting on and to offer advice and guidance wherever possible. I take part in seminars, recently presenting to NatWest construction clients on the implications of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards which come into effect from April 2018.

You can contact Dewi by email: or phone: 01244 616607.

John Lambe, Hillyer McKeown’s Head of Litigation, says SMEs should act swiftly when problems arise. Nobody likes commercial disputes, but the fact is they are a part and parcel of business life. A recent report by the Legal Services Board (LSB) highlighted the serious impact on SMEs of not dealing with disputes in a timely and effective manner. When asked about the effects of unaddressed legal issues, 23% of SMEs reported a significant loss of income, 12% reported an increased cost and 9% reported damage to their reputation. Even more worrying, 6% revealed that employees had to be shed and/ or the business closed down.

SMEs which fail to properly tackle a dispute – of which over 70% are related to contracts – are usually doing one of three things. In the worst situations, they are burying their heads in the sand, hoping the matter will go away. Others appreciate they have to act but choose to handle it themselves, while some will ask their accountant, bank or financial adviser for advice on what to do. Frequently, clients tell us "If only we had contacted you earlier." This is usually because the business has already prejudiced its position and faces having to resolve an even bigger problem.

The average financial cost of each issue that went unaddressed was £13,812.

The LSB report went on to make the link between the most successful SMEs and their ability and willingness to access the right support and advice, particularly on matters connected with the law and dispute resolution. The commercial litigation team at Hillyer McKeown is one of the most experienced in the region, with a number of us having previously worked at some of the biggest firms in the country. The team also has access to in-house counsel, providing not just additional expertise but also a streamlined service, saving clients time and money. Success is defined as resolving disputes before litigation and the vast majority of disputes are resolved in this way, using alternative dispute resolution when appropriate. To meet the needs of clients, we have developed a fixed fee pre-paid legal service which provides SMEs with easy access to legal advice and assistance when they need it. The service is provided at a substantial discount via a fixed fee that can be paid annually or in monthly instalments.

Clients can also purchase a Legal Expenses Insurance Policy to provide costs cover should legal proceedings be required. The scope of the product includes disputes about the supply of goods and services, intellectual property and business premises which account for the bulk of SME dispute resolution needs. A discount for all other work required is given to clients who purchase the product. The product we have developed is based on research we have carried out with our clients, understanding how they think, work and want their legal services delivered. Our clients told us very clearly that they expect pricing and payment options, transparency and no surprises. By addressing these concerns head on, we believe we are enabling SMEs to best protect their businesses from the damaging and, on occasions, fatal fallout that can come about as a result of a commercial dispute.

Avoiding Costly Disputes The Litigation Team with John Lambe (centre)

You can contact John Lambe by email: or phone: 01244 616621.



Manchester is bursting with things to do. Visit the trendy Northern Quarter filled with its bars, restaurants, cafes, record stores and independent boutiques. Come face to face with the ball from the 1966 World Cup final and iconic shirts worn by Bobby Moore and Pele at the world’s biggest National Football Museum.

why we’re mad for MANCHESTER all over again... King Street Townhouse infinity pool


Manchester means music. The city spawned Oasis, Joy Division, The Stone Roses and The Smiths. You can immerse yourself in the city’s rich musical heritage by taking a Manchester Music Tour.

The Cold Feet crew must have been spoilt for choice choosing foodie venues to shoot the new series because Manchester is packed with snazzy restaurants. Some of the best include: El Gato Negro - an award-winning tapas restaurant and bar in an historic converted three storey town house on King Street. Don’t miss their amazing gin-cured salmon with Greek yoghurt.

Albert’s Schloss – a Bavarian style beer cellar famed for its traditional German food and pilsner beers on tap and in bottles. Look out for: homemade Schnapps and stone baked German flatbread with yum toppings. Manchester House – run by Merseyside raised celebrity chef Aiden Byrne who was only 22 when he bagged a Michelin star, the youngest to do so. Challenge yourself with the 14 course tasting menu.

Hotel Gotham

After a busy day, why not crash out at the King Street Townhouse, an impressive Italian renaissance building in the city’s conservation area. We love its south facing rooftop infinity spa pool with views of the spires and clock tower of the city’s iconic town hall.

Whizz just two miles out of the city to the Quays and visit the celebrated IWM North (formerly the Imperial War Museum). The building is incredible and, inside, the displays are innovative.

Or try Hotel Gotham, set in one of the city’s grandest listed buildings, a 5 star hotel that prides itself on its Art Decothemed decadence. In Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter is relaxed pub and boutique hotel Abel Heywood.

Manchester House

A little further out and children will love the Play Factore which houses the tallest slide in the world and a brilliant zip wire.

Care home trouble-shooters

Hillyer McKeown’s commercial lawyers drafted the shareholders’ agreements on behalf of the directors.

Recent figures produced by the Care Quality Commission revealed how over 1,500 homes have closed in the last six years.

“Everyone who has seen the rebrand and the new website has been very impressed!”

Few sectors are under as much scrutiny and financial pressure as the care home industry.

Operators of care homes are having to negotiate the everchanging landscape determined by the CQC. A poor inspection report can have a hugely damaging impact on a care home. Worst case scenarios include loss of support from local commissioning teams to home closure.

Cheshire-based Caresolve is a specialist in care home transformation, working both directly with operators and also on behalf of the banks, insolvency practitioners and other professionals working in the sector.

The company is growing rapidly across the UK and recently engaged HM Creative, the marketing and PR arm of Hillyer McKeown, to oversee a full rebrand and repositioning including the development of a new website and other marketing collateral. The company was originally set up by Ben Challinor and James Parkin, but the business now includes Caresolve Financial, which is overseen by fellow director Richard Shore.

From left Ben Challinor, Maxine Parry, James Parkin and Richard Shore

Ben said: “Our business is growing rapidly and we recognised that the quality of our brand needed to keep pace. The branding work that has been carried out by HM Creative gives equal weight to the three key divisions within the company – consultancy, financial and recruitment.

How driven are your staff? Putting in place effective HR practices and good employee focus can drive your business forward. Resolve conflict swiftly: Conflicts that aren’t resolved can create communication issues between departments. Fix them by encouraging employees to open up about issues and, if necessary, be prepared to mediate between conflicted team members. It will lead to improvement in the workspace atmosphere and business efficiencies. Train your managers well: Give your managers the toolkit to manage their staff effectively. Help them to understand that how they interact with their team on a daily basis has a direct impact on the productivity not only of the team but your whole business. Encourage leadership: Empowered managers can drive up standards and performance as well as leading by good example. Effective leadership also helps to prevent HR problems arising or escalating, which can drain management time.

cA$h flow is king

And reward them when they do. Communicate with your employees: The new millennials value honest and regular information about the business and its performance. Develop effective communication channels that encourage trust and the sharing of information at all levels. In SMEs this can be via small focus groups and regular feedback. Have a positive recruitment strategy: This helps ensure you recruit the right people in the right job first time. A wrong hire can be disruptive and expensive. Try to think carefully about your needs and the job role, interview effectively and challenge candidates to ensure they are the right fit for the team and business.

Have robust policies and procedures in place: Make sure employees know what is/is not acceptable and how the company deals with matters. Be able to point to standards that you expect as a business – it will help staff to appreciate that they work for a professional organised business. Review your appraisal systems: Set goals and ensure that employees understand what they are expected to achieve. Support and mentor them to help them achieve their goals.

Justine Watkinson is a Partner and Head of Employment at Hillyer McKeown

Email Justine at to find out more about HM’s fixed price HR & Employment Law service.

How good is your cash flow? Here, Alex Irwin gives his tips to help businesses ensure a firm grip on their biggest asset.

Alex’s tips Have good foundations For good cash flow, it is crucial to have an effective credit control system and debt recovery policies and procedures in place. Know your customers Know who you are providing your goods and services to: is it Joe Bloggs or Joe Bloggs Limited? Check that the person placing an order or instructing you is authorised within the business to do so. Get it in writing Always get an order in writing by letter or e-mail and send your terms and conditions to your customer each time they engage or buy from you.

Payment terms Always make your payment terms clear to your customer at the outset of your dealings together. Invoice promptly and make your payment terms clear on your invoices by specifying the actual date the payment is due. Maintain contact After your invoice has been sent, call to check they have received it, deal with any queries promptly and ask for a payment date. Resolve issues swiftly. Chase payment if invoices go outside your payment terms. Be polite, but be persistent.

Embrace credit checking technology Can your customer afford to pay you? There are several online credit reporting providers in the market which provide company risk reporting and scoring.

What happens if things go wrong? If you have not been paid, seek professional assistance quickly. Your customer may have their own cash flow difficulties and you will want to be at the front of the queue when they can pay their creditors.

Look for providers with up to date information and check their recommended credit limits and whether they have any judgments or insolvency alerts.

A specialist debt recovery firm can advise you on the best course of action to recover the sums you are owed which may include court or insolvency action.

Credit limits Set an upper credit limit for each customer based on the information provided by the credit reporting provider. If you feel the recommended credit limit is too risky for you, set the credit limit to what you are comfortable with – and don’t let them exceed it.

Alex Irwin is the Debt Manager in the Debt Recovery Team at Hillyer McKeown.

If they do, ask for interim payments to bring the sum outstanding within your credit limit.

Email Alex at or call him on 0151 666 6776 for more information.

events calendar 2-3, 9-11 & 16-23 DEc

16-24 december

the lanterns at chester zoo

cinderella echo arena, liverpool

25 novEMBER - 21 janUARY 1-4 DecEMBER

aladdin the wok ‘N’ roll panto theatr clwyd

3 december

santa’s grotto launch gordale, wirral

Heswall ICE Christmas Festival PUDDYDALE PARK

22-24 february 2017

model railway SHOW

21 may 2017 chester half marathon

llanberis, gwynedd

15-16 april 2017

LIverpool fOOD, DRINK and lifestyle


22-23 may 2017

take that: Wonderland live 2017


6-8 april 2017

31 december - 2 january

grand national

27-28 may 2017

aintree racecourse, liverpool



horse show echo arena, liverpool

echo arena, liverpool

rock ‘N’ Roll MARATHON

Are you up to the challenge? If you were given £50 and tasked to turn that money into £1,000 - in just six months - could you do it? Step up The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre who, for a second year, are challenging businesses to do just that. One of the largest networked cancer centres in the UK, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre operates from ten sites across Merseyside and Cheshire. The centre make almost 221,000 patient contacts to over 30,000 patients a year, offering pioneering chemotherapy, radiotherapy and proton therapy treatments, but relies on its supporters to continue its lifesaving work. Last year, through its Corporate Challenge, The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity raised more than £30,000, with the money used to fund a state-of-the-art Varian Edge radiotherapy machine. This year, they want to raise £40,000 to fund The Lounge, which will provide an important social space for its most unwell patients.

Hillyer McKeown’s Wendy Randall, who is leading the initiative, said: “As a firm, we supported The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity but at events usually organised by others. “Now we, and many other businesses across the region, are pledging to turn the £50 provided by the charity into a minimum of £1,000 in just six months.

public relations marketing content branding design websites social media

“We are off to a flying start, thanks to the generosity of our staff and are really looking forward to the challenge ahead.” The Clatterbridge Corporate Challenge is this year sponsored by Mowgli Street Food. To find out more about the lifesaving work carried out by The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, and how you can get involved, visit or twitter @clatterbridgecc

contact: nick mason // e: // T: 0151 239 5050

HM Magazine Issue 3  

Issue 3 of HM Magazine features interviews with Patchwork's Margaret Carter, award-winning crowdfunding chef Gary Usher and Collin Singer of...

HM Magazine Issue 3  

Issue 3 of HM Magazine features interviews with Patchwork's Margaret Carter, award-winning crowdfunding chef Gary Usher and Collin Singer of...