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VICTORIA WARD Making connections

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ANDREW FIRTH Twitter’s baby talk Column - Page 5

An EXAMINER publication

KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS The business NEWSpaper for Kirklees

Insolvency expert in new debt alert ALMOST half of adults in Yorkshire and Humber are concerned about their current level of debt – up from 40% just six months ago. The latest survey from insolvency industry trade body R3 showed that 16% of people in the region say they are “very” or “extremely” worried about their current debts, slightly lower than the UK-wide figure of 21%. In Yorkshire and Humber, 40% of adults say they often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday – of whom a massive 82% blame the rising cost of living for their financial difficulties. Chris Wood, a member of R3’s Yorkshire committee member and partner at Clough Corporate Solutions in Cleckheaton, said: “Although the economy is starting to pick up, many families are finding themselves left behind, weighed down by the cost of the day-to-day. “Many people are struggling to afford the absolute essentials. It is hard to see the situation improving over the rest of the year, especially given the run-up to Christmas coming up in the autumn. “There is a sizeable chunk of the

■ CONCERNS: Chris Wood, of R3 and Clough Corporate Solutions

population in a very precarious position. They are renting, they have no savings, and they are only able to pay off the interest on their debts without making any headway into the principal. “These people have no financial buffer to cope with any increase in the cost of living.”

The survey showed that 27% of adults in the region say they do not have any savings at the moment – up from 18% in February. Additionally, the number of “zombie debtors” – those who can only repay interest on debts, but not the principal – has climbed since February. Some 9% of people in Yorkshire and Humber say they are only paying interest on credit card bills, up from 8% in February. Similarly, 5% of adults in the region are only paying the interest on their overdraft, up from 3% in February. In Yorkshire and Humber, credit cards, mortgage repayments and paying a Debt Management Plan are the most common types of debt that worry those with financial concerns. Mr Wood said: “Credit cards and mortgages may still be among the biggest debt concerns, but their dominance has decreased over time. “The credit market is becoming increasingly fragmented as traditional sources of credit become harder to access. “Other types of debt, such as payday loans, have become established as a concern for those with money wor-

ries over the past few years as their popularity has risen.” Some 7% of those in the region worried about current debts said that payday loans were the debt that worried them, similar to the national average of 10%. The gloomy findings over personal debt contrast with a brightening picture for businesses. The latest Business Insolvency Index from information group Experian revealed that the overall business insolvency rate for the UK fell to 0.07% in June from 0.08% at the same time last year. That’s the second consecutive month where the rate has fallen year-on-year. In May, the rate was down from 0.09% to 0.08%. The majority of UK regions showed continued improvement. In May, seven out of 11 UK regions surveyed showed a year-on-year fall in their insolvency rate. In June this increased to eight regions. Outside Scotland, the North East saw the biggest turnaround since last year – falling from 0.13% in June last year to 0.08% in June, 2013.

LV= insurance group posts decline in profits AN insurance and savings group with offices in Huddersfield has reported a fall in half-year operating profits for its general insurance business. LV= posted a figure of £43m compared with £62m a year earlier. Premium income at the UK’s third largest car insurer – which has opera-

tions at Folly Hall Mills, Folly Hall – was flat at £748m in tough market conditions, while its life and pensions arm saw sales fall by 14% to £74.3m. Richard Rowney, LV= managing director for its life business, said the market had been challenging in 2013 following regulation changes at the

end of last year. Against this backdrop, its protection business sales had performed well and its pensions, savings and investments had performed particularly strongly, with LV= bucking the general market trend. “Within annuities we took a decision to focus on returns over sales

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and this is reflected in the results,” said Mr Rowney. He added: “Looking ahead to the second half of the year, I am confident of delivering good returns for our members despite a challenging outlook for the market as a whole in the short-term.”

INSIDE Meeting of minds A NETWORKING group building links between organisations with HD8 post codes has hailed the success of its first “offline” meeting. The HD8 Network welcomed representatives from almost 25 businesses to its first Meet Up, which was held at The Dalesman pub in Denby Dale and concluded with a meal upstairs at the Orchid house Thai restaurant.

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No need for cards CLECKHEATON company MR Leaflet Distribution has become one of the first firms in West Yorkshire to take up a new online system to collect cash it is owed.

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Hot weather hits profits for Ryanair LOW-COST airline Ryanair is pinning its hopes on an end to the summer heatwave after passenger numbers were hit by the good weather amid plunging first-quarter profits. The 21% fall in the Irish carrier’s bottom-line figure, blamed on soaring fuel costs, the timing of Easter and a French air traffic control strike, had been expected. But chief executive Michael O’Leary said performance in recent weeks has also been slightly weaker, which is believed to be a result of the heatwave in northern Europe. He said while full-year profits were expected to remain as expected, this was on the basis that the weakness did not continue. Mr O’Leary said Ryanair’s performance in the second quarter was still expected to improve, despite comparisons with the buoyant Olympic period last year.

■ BUMPY LANDING: Ryanair bosses are hoping for an end to the summer heatwave after passenger numbers were hit by the good weather

He said the airline’s outlook remained cautious due to the recession and austerity measures, high fuel costs, and tax policies, but full-year traffic was expected to grow 3% to 81.5m. The airline’s full-year profit after tax guidance remains at between

£492m and £518m. The airline’s first quarter saw passenger numbers up by 3% to 23.2m and revenue rising by 5% to £1.16bn – partly as a result of reserved seating, priority boarding and higher admin and credit card charges. Revenue per passenger rose by 1%

but profit after tax fell by 21% to £67m. Mr O’Leary said the airline’s seven new bases in Eindhoven, Maastricht, Krakow, Zadar, Chania, Marrakesh and Fez were performing well. He said new routes and bases would be announced later this year to exploit cutting back by other European carriers, while the airline was in negotiations with the new owners of Stansted airport to increase traffic. He also used the announcement to criticise a Competition Commission decision which may force it to sell down its stake in rival airline Aer Lingus. There has been nervousness in recent weeks about the impact of the heatwave on airlines’ performance, with hard-pressed passengers declining to shell out for a sunshine break abroad when they can top up on their tans at home.

Mega-merger to boost WPP

Earnings up for Reckitt

SHARES in advertising giant WPP were buoyed amid hopes that it will reap some benefit from a £23bn mega-merger between two of its major rivals to create the biggest player in the sector. Sir Martin Sorrell’s UK-based firm will be dwarfed by the deal between New York’s Omnicon and Paris’s Publicis, which in Britain will bring together the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO – although the new adland giant is likely to face regulatory hurdles. But it is thought that WPP could well pick up major clients in the fall-out from the announcement, as big accounts leave the

DEMAND for Nurofen painkillers and other health brands in emerging markets helped Reckitt Benckiser offset weaker markets elsewhere to post a rise in half-year profits. A heavy flu and colds season at the beginning of 2013 boosted sales of Strepsils in Europe – but the consumer giant’s fastest growth came from countries such a China, which has become the largest market in the world for its Durex brand. Rapid growth across South East Asia and Latin America lifted overall like-for-like sales in the first six months of the year by 6% to £4.6bn. Adjusted operating profit increased

newly-formed firm over potential conflicts of interest. Analysts suspect that the likes of Pepsi and Coca-Cola will make uneasy stablemates under the auspices of the new Publicis Omnicon behemoth. Shares in WPP closed up 7p to 1182p or 0.6% in expectations that it would gain from the move, while brokers UBS upgraded the stock to a “buy” rating. Investec analyst Steve Liechti said that in the short term the company looked likely to gain from client accounts and personnel leaving the newly-formed giant.

by 3% to £1.16bn. Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said the results showed a focus on health and hygiene products at the Slough-based company – which also sells cleaning sprays such as Dettol as well as laundry detergents – was paying off. He said: “Our organisational focus on 16 Powermarkets, such as China, is another critical element of our growth strategy and is enabling us to sustainably outperform our markets.” However, he admitted the company continued to face challenging market conditions.

Page 2 Absolute tunes in ABSOLUTE Radio has been snapped up by the owner of rival stations Kiss and Magic in a £22m deal. The deal, which is subject to approval by the Office of Fair Trading, will see Absolute join the stable of stations controlled by Bauer Media UK. The German-owned firm also owns regional stations including Key 103 in Manchester and Metro Radio in Newcastle as well as publishing magazines such as Grazia, Heat and Closer. It is the latest chapter in the colourful history of Absolute Radio, which started life as upstart Virgin Radio and was once owned by presenter Chris Evans. The name was changed to Absolute in 2008 under the latest owners, the Times of India group. DJs at the station include comedian Frank Skinner and former footballer Ian Wright. Absolute has a number of spin-off stations featuring music from different decades. Latest quarterly figures showed Absolute Radio reached 1.7m listeners. The station said the whole network had 3.3m listeners. A spokesman said there were no plans for job cuts. He described previous reports that Absolute would be rebranded Planet Rock as speculation. Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media UK, said: “We are looking forward to working with the award-winning team at Absolute Radio.”

SHARE PRICES NORTH AMERICAN American Express £48.71 -0.35 Gannett 1653.97 -17.58 Hess Corp £46.77 -0.90 Microsoft £20.47 -0.12 Motors Liquidation 48.84 Wal-Mart Stores £50.75 -0.05 AEROSPACE & DEFENCE Avon Rbbr 4531/2 +31/2 BAE Systems 4441/8 +5 Rolls-Royce 1197 -3 AIM Brady Plc 75 AUTOMOBILES & PARTS GKN 3271/8 +3 BANKS Barclays 309 -111/8 HSBC 7283/8 -23/4 Lloyds Banking Gp 683/4 +3/8 5 Ryl Scotland 325 /8 -23/8 1 Stan Chart 1485 /2 -161/2 BEVERAGES Diageo 19961/2 +26 SABMiller £313/8 CHEMICALS Croda £241/4 Elementis 98 2321/2 +1/4 Johnsn Mat £273/4 CONSTRUCTION & MATERIALS Balfour Beatty 2487/8 +43/4 Costain 2771/2 +1 ELECTRICITY

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6560.25 Up 5.46 RSA Insurance Gp 1253/4 +1/4 OIL & GAS PRODUCERS BG 11791/2 -101/2 BP 4673/8 -35/8 Cairn Energy 264 -23/8 Royal Dutch Shell £221/8 -1/8 A Royal Dutch Shell £23 -1/8 B Total £343/8 -1/8 Tullow Oil 1019 -6 OIL EQUIPMENT & SERVICES AMEC 1067 +3 Petrofac 1308 +21 Wood Gp(J) 8881/2 -1/2

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KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS SHE works for one of the biggest names in the business world. But for the next 12 months, small is beautiful as far as Honley woman Victoria Ward is concerned. Victoria, 42, has been seconded from her role as head of employee engagement at IT giant Fujitsu iin Wakefield to take up a one-year role as Business Connector for North Kirklees. Her aim is to provide a link between charities and community groups needing help to grow and local businesses with the skills and talents to help them in their endeavours. Business Connector is part of a pioneering £4.8m scheme financed by the Big Lottery Fund, run by charity Business in the Community and supported by the Prince of Wales to allow people from business to use their skills and talents to bring benefits to local communities. Some 55 local communities in the UK have received support worth £2.5m since July last year under a pilot scheme. Now Business Connector has gone nationwide – and Victoria is playing her part. She says: “I really value the power of communities, both where I live and where I work. I was born and grew up in Halifax and now live in Huddersfield. “Businesses need communities and vice versa. The fact Fujitsu have enabled me to take this role for a year shows their commitment to communities in general, not just the ones where they are most present. “I am really looking forward to getting to know North Kirklees much better and meeting people already working in those communities.” Her appointment coincided with the first anniversary of the Business Connector programme, which was celebrated at The Big Connect in London earlier this month, when Prince Charles met Victoria and other Business Connectors. “Prince Charles went around the room to talk to the Business Connectors and it was great to hear him speak about his vision for the initiative,” says Victoria. “Everyone came out of that event fired up about it.” Victoria was born and raised in Halifax and attended North Halifax High School. “I wanted to be a teacher – or certainly to work with children,” she says. “But I did a business degree at De Montfort University to keep my options open. In the end I didn’t become a teacher – but I married a teacher instead!” Victoria joined Fujitsu’s graduate training scheme and subsequently took a number of roles, including operations manager, running the service desk and eventually moving into HR. She went on to gain an MA in human resource management at Huddersfield University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


Here to help build links “I really wanted to do HR from the start,” she says. “But I’m really glad I got the breadth of business experience I did. “Now it’s time to get more business experience as a Business Connector.” Victoria, who has been with Fujitsu for 20 years, says she is glad that the company had given her this new opportunity. “Fujitsu sponsored two people during the pilot year,” she says. “Now there are four of us. The company has also been a supporter of Business in the Community. “There are a lot of things companies can do to help communities – without it having to be about giving money. “Employees can give time and expertise to help charities or other groups. Someone who runs a chain of shops can offer retail expertise, for example.” “The object is to help communities and Fujitsu really gets that. They see that it brings indirect benefits to the business as well as their local communities.” Says Victoria: “Five or 10 years ago, we would never have seen businesses supporting people in this way.” Just a few weeks into her new role, Victoria says: “I have grown up around here and I have a big sense of community – even though I have always worked in either Wakefield or Manchester. “It is nice to do something that is going to make a difference because business and community need each other so much. “The way the world is going, the future will be much more about collaboration than competition. It will be about building local connections.” Victoria is already making those vital connections – regularly sharing information and ideas with her fellow Business Connectors covering

Huddersfield, Halifax and Leeds. “We’re quite a strong team,” she says. She is also making links with key players at Kirklees Council and attending networking events to extend her circle of contacts.It is amazing what a small world this is,” she says. “Once I told friends what I was doing, they started providing me with contacts.” She says: “There are lots of networking events for small and growing businesses and you begin to see people time and again at them. But it’s the ones who are not there that I need to get to. They are the ones who need the help. That’s the difficult part of the job. “The best way to get the message out is still word-of-mouth. It’s also the best way for firms to win and retain customers. Small firms have always known that to be the case. Big businesses are

■ MATCHMAKER: Victoria Ward, Business Connector for North Kirklees, is putting the jigsaw pieces in place

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Victoria Ward

also starting to understand that.” Victoria has already found several local groups doing worthwhile things who would benefit from further help and support. Stanleys Training Project, based at the Options Centre in Dewsbury, is one such initiative – providing courses in areas such as basic food hygiene and food standards, First Aid training and health and social care to help people who find it hard to access training elsewhere to gain the skills which will help them into work. Away from work, Victoria enjoys time with her daughter Matilda. She like walking in the countryside near her home, is keen on arts and crafts and keeps fit by swimming and visits to the gym. But she is understandably busy in her new role. “My diary is full about a week or a week-and-a-half in advance,” she says. “I have a variety of meetings and a couple of new charities to meet in the next few weeks.” Victoria sees her role as matching organisations in need with businesses that can help, adding: “It’s about putting the pieces of a jigsaw into place. “The whole point is to build sustainability. This is a three-year programme which aims for long-lasting results.” She acknowledges: “Someone said being a Business Connector is like being a Secret Millionaire - but without any money! “But I don’t think any of the Business Connectors will just walk away at the end of their year. “They will carry on supporting good causes, perhaps as trustees of charities. There will be continued investment.”


Role: Business Connector Age: 42 Family: Married to James with daughter Matilda, who is four in August Holidays: Cornwall and Cyprus First job: Working in an old people’s home at weekends when I was at school. I did it voluntarily at first as part of my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award then later I got paid Best thing about job: The people I meet. It amazes me that there are people prepared to work so hard and make so many sacrifices to help others Worst thing about job: Not being able to help everyone. I hate to have to say “no” to some people Business tip: Believe you can do something and you will succeed

Business Connector Work: Connecting community groups to businesses that can help them grow Site: Honley Phone: 07867 822621 Email: victoria.ward@ bitconnect .org Web:


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Being web-wise opens the world USING the web effectively for an overseas presence and for selling products through e-commerce can dramatically boost export sales, Kirklees businesses have heard. Top exporters and business services experts from Deloitte advised on how to harness the web for exports and some of the tax and employment considerations of establishing an overseas base at an We Are International event. Several Kirklees-based businesses are involved with the We Are International campaign and attended the event, including National Day Nursery Association and ABG Ltd. Welcomed by Chamber International lead associate Mike Stawson, an audience of more than 90 existing and would-be exporters, members of Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, Export Network ambassadors and specialists from Chamber International and UKTI, attended the two-hour event at Deloitte in Leeds to capitalise on a “tidal wave of enthusiasm” for overseas sales throughout the Leeds City Region. We Are International, launched by LEP and delivered by Chamber International, is a major regional business campaign to stimulate exporting and bring £2.6bn and create thousands of jobs within Leeds City Region, which includes Kirklees, by 2018. Keynote speaker Larry Gould, serial entrepreneur and chief executive of global translation services company thebigword, has secured a raft of contracts worth more than £50m in Europe, the US and Afghanistan. He discussed his own experience and explained how simple measures such as localising websites by translating into local languages can help customer confidence and boost sales. Rob Rospepedzihowski, commercial sales director of Leeds electronics manufacturers Premier Farnell, said that harnessing the web, coupled with strategic call centres and multi-lingual staff, had been a major driver of growth at the firm, which has global sales of £973m. Some 70% of its trade is overseas with 80% of its sales delivered online.

Restaurants on the HMRC menu RESTAURANT owners in Kirklees are the latest target for a clampdown by HM Revenue and Customs, says a Huddersfield businessman. Nick Brook (pictured), who runsTaxAssist Accountants at Lockwood, said restaurant owners could expect spot checks and intensive scrutiny of their records over the next few months. Mr Brook said: “HMRC’s latest taskforce is focusing on the restaurant industry across Yorkshire and Humber as part of a national campaign. The taskforce says it expects to recover £3.8m in taxes. “Provided they have all the right procedures, records and proof of income and expenditure in place, small business owners can protect their legitimate earnings and show the tax inspector the door.”


Changing the laws over whistleblowers ITH effect from June 25, 2013, W important changes took effect relating to the protection

enjoyed by employees making protected disclosures – also termed “whistleblowers”. Previously, a worker who made a “protected disclosure” was protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed if the principal reason for the detriment or dismissal was that the disclosure was made. In order to be protected, an employee had to show that a disclosure related to information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making it, tended to show that one or more of six specified types of malpractice had taken place or was likely to take place. The wrongdoing can be past, present or merely alleged. One of the specified types of malpractice is a “breach of a legal obligation” and this has been interpreted very broadly in case law to include an allegation that a person’s own contract of employment has been breached. However, the main reason whistleblowing legislation was originally introduced was to protect disclosures about facts or situations affecting employees or third parties where there was some element of public interest and the legality of a person’s private contract of employment doesn’t naturally fit within this. As of June 25, 2013, therefore, the legislation has been amended such that any disclosure must now be “in the


public interest” and, whilst not defined, this is likely to mean that it must affect a class of people and not just one individual (ie. it would not cover a person’s own contract of employment as broadly). It will therefore significantly limit the scope of protection. It will also limit the number of claims being brought where the claimant asserts that there was a protected disclosure arising out of an allegation that their own contract had been breached in order to add a protected disclosure element to their claim which, without this, the claimant would not have the required qualifying service to proceed with a normal unfair dismissal claim or, the compensation cap would significantly limit the potential value of the claim. Although the changes limit the level of protection in this respect, other changes broaden protection. Previously, there was a requirement that any disclosure had to be made “in good faith”. However, as of June 25, 2013, disclos-

ures that are made in bad faith may also qualify. Claimants would still need to satisfy the Tribunal that they “reasonably believed that the disclosure was in the public interest” but, subject to this, qualifying disclosures could begin to be made merely in the hope of a pay out. Tribunals will be able to reduce compensation by up to 25% where they find a disclosure to have been made in bad faith but the difficulty could be in proving this. In addition, employers will now be vicariously liable for the actions of employees who treat a colleague detrimentally for blowing the whistle. This change is due to come in at a later date; however, it makes it important for employers to notify their employees of the protection available to those who makes a protected disclosure and, specifically, that they understand that, whether the individual has made a disclosure in good faith or not, they should not be subjected to a detriment because of it.

Neil Wilson is an employment lawyer at Chadwick Lawrence Solicitors

Company goes ‘cardless’ A KIRKLEES company has become one of the first firm in West Yorkshire to take up a new online system to collect the cash it is owed. Cleckheaton-based MR Leaflet Distribution is tapping into GoCardless, a technology start-up which has developed a simple online tool that small and medium-sized firms can use to collect Direct Debits quickly and cost effectively. GoCardless was founded by graduates Matt Robinson, Hiroki Takeuchi and Tom Blomfield. More than 3,000 companies from 10 different sectors in Yorkshire are already using the system to process millions of pounds of transactions each month. Bosses have been impressed with the free sign-up facility, no monthly charges and an innovative pricing structure that charges just 1% of the transaction total to a maximum of £2 – less than a third of mainstream rivals. The introduction of GoCardless in West Yorkshire comes as latest figures suggest that SMEs across the UK are owed a staggering £30bn in late payments and waste on average 14 days each year chasing them. Some already using this new service have been able to eliminate this wastage and cut the time spent on accounting by up to 50%. “Direct Debits are without doubt the most reliable way to take payments, but the banks have long excluded all but

■ MONEY MEN: GoCardless founders (from left) Tom Blomfield, Matt Robinson and Hiroki Takeuchi the very largest merchants from accessing the scheme,” said Mr Robinson. “Instead, small business owners must attempt to manage unpredictable cash-flows whilst losing key staff to chasing payments, not to mention the possibility of missing out on growth opportunities.

“GoCardless will give them instant, easy access to a method their larger competitors have been using for years.” He said: “West Yorkshire is a great place to start our regional push and we hope to have hundreds of firms signed up and benefiting by the end of the year.” Any business in the region can sign up online and start taking payments immediately. In two clicks, a merchant can ask their customer to set up a Direct Debit to them and, once they agree, future payments are collected automatically. The company, which is regulated by the FSA, stores data in the UK with military grade security systems and can be integrated into existing accounting software for automatic reconciliation of invoices. Mr Blomfield said: “Direct Debit can be used by all types of business and that is evident when you look at some of the early users in Yorkshire. We’ve got publishers, independent wholesale retailers, gyms, IT firms, educational organisations and even scout groups. They all share one thing in common – a desire to benefit from more efficient payments.” MR Leaflet Distribution employs 28 people and provides leaflet distribution services to micro businesses, SMEs and multi-national across the length and breadth of Yorkshire.

Open boost i

KIRKLEES companies hav been urged to take full advantage of reliefs aimed at encouraging innovation – as the number of patents granted the region hits five-year high. Yorkshire comp 182 patents las business advis represents a gr innovation is re regional econo A patent protec gives owners th from making or without permis And the profits products benef tax relief, introd government ea to boost British Deloitte said th encouraged fir value jobs asso development, m exploitation of and the rest of Stuart Cottee (p at Deloitte in Yo are encouragin Yorkshire’s eco the total numbe applications gr dropped last ye “The Patent Bo to work alongs relief and will b across a broad from manufactu consumer busi “Innovative, hig a cornerstone o businesses, wh Government ha raft of measure Box and the en credits to enco in research and

Driving for new

A VAN and truc name to the ba Town’s home fo coming season The logo of Ivec truck dealer No will feature abo Town’s players home shirts thr Championship Brighouse-base its partnership another year. It will also appe kits for the 2013 Town commerc Jarvis said: “It’ closed season the pitch for the “Along with the likes of James playing side, w support of loca Northern Comm

INESS NEWS the box to innovation




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panies were granted st year – which sory firm Deloitte says reat sign that eturning to the omy. cts inventions and the ability to stop other r using the invention ssion/ s from patented fit from the Patent Box duced by the arlier this year in a bid h innovation. he Patent Box also rms to locate high ociated with the manufacture and patents in Yorkshire the UK. (pictured), head of tax Yorkshire, said: “These ng figures for onomy, particularly as er of patent ranted in the UK ear. ox has been designed side existing R&D tax benefit patent owners d range of industries turing through to inesses. gh-value products are of successful export hich is why the as recently unveiled a e such as the Patent nhanced R&D tax ourage firms to invest d innovation.”

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ear on all retail replica 13/14 season. cial director Sean ’s been a very positive period both on and off he club. e key signatures of the Vaughan on the we’ve secured the vital al businesses, such as mercials, off it.”


Page 5

Twitter’s royal appointments

AST month’s column reviewing L the impact that Twitter has on its user’s time seems very apt fol-

lowing the birth of the third in-line to the throne last week. As you would expect, traditional media was all over the story but it was social media that painted the picture, with news of the start of labour breaking on Twitter. More than 2m tweets were sent that mentioned “Royal Baby” in the 48 hour period with almost 500m Twitter users viewing the posts during the same period. Clarence House tweeted “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early stages of labour.” And after the birth “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm” – marking the first time traditional announcements of a royal birth have been supported with a release through social media. Even the naming of the baby seemed almost hurried compared to previous


Andrew Firth births driven by our insatiable desire for information, now. It wasn’t just Twitter that saw vast levels of activity – Facebook, Instagram and to a lesser extent Google Plus were all full of posts, comments, pictures as the whole world got involved using social media. Politicians, celebrities, pretty much everyone wanted to welcome the #RoyalBaby and congratulate William and Kate with PR really filling the media vacuum. Along with the well-wishes has come the obvious opportunity for businesses to jump on the PR train and according to The Daily Mail some 22,000 baby-related stories were received on the day of the birth. The best of the releases included bookmakers interpretations of the birthing

preparations, ASDA had an excellent HRH family parking space and on the day itself BT lit up the London skyline with a stork delivering “it’s a boy”. If you didn’t appreciate the power of digital PR and social media before, the statistics surrounding its use during baby George’s birth really bring this message home. Our activities during this period to send messages and communicate with millions of listeners using the #hashtag demonstrate how well-versed we are becoming at focusing our activities. No other form of media has the universal ability to reach, no other form of advertising and PR can get close to the opportunity that social media presents and best of all it is free.

Andrew Firth is managing director of Ascensor Website Design & Digital Marketing

Firm financial foundations THE Mayor of Kirklees met the money men on a visit to a Shelley business. Clr Martyn Bolt visited the Penistone Road premises of financial advice firm Robertson Baxter to meet the team supporting the Kirklees-based One Community Foundation – a funding organisation set up to help worthy causes across the district. The foundation is Clr Bolt’s chosen charity during his year in office. Robertson Baxter directors Greg Robertson and Stephen Baxter and chairman Michael Woodhead, have been investment advisers to the foundation since it was set up in 2010 and will also sponsor a fundraising dinner hosted by the mayor for the foundation next year. Robertson Baxter, which was formed in 2007, specialises in providing financial advice for wealth clients, including iInvestment management, pensions and inheritance. The company employs 11 people and manages funds totalling £101m.

■ HIGH FINANCE: Kirklees Mayor Clr Martyn Bolt (second right) with (from left) chairman Michael Woodhead and directors Greg Robertson and Stephen Baxter at the Shelley premises of Robertson Baxter

Footballers switching focus to behaviour LAW firm Chadwick Lawrence was on the ball to deliver a seminar to young footballers. Sports and employment law specialists Neil Wilson and Daniel Krigers delivered their annual “Personal Code of Conduct” presentation to Huddersfield Town’s academy scholars. The seminar, now in its fifth year, is the brainchild of Neil and Daniel who developed the presentation to inform sporting professionals on how to avoid the pitfalls of being in the public eye – and challenges them to adopt their own “personal code of conduct” to avoid this. For several years, Neil and Daniel have worked closely with the academy’s Karen Crossland, who is responsible for the education welfare of the scholars, as well as handling a wide range of sports law matters. The presentation is also regularly provided to other sporting professionals and has been attended by several England captains from their respective sports. Neil said: “Daniel and I developed the seminar with sporting professionals specifically in mind. Quite often we see such people reported in the media in various compromising situations. It is therefore important that the sports stars of tomorrow understand how to behave in the public eye and what the consequences of their actions could lead to.” Karen said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Chadwick Lawrence who have delivered this seminar year on year. “It’s important for our students to understand the importance of having a personal code of conduct, particularly in a career which could lead to them being in the public eye. Neil and Daniel deliver the seminar in an informal way which always prompts some great debates and questions. We look forward to next year’s!”


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Recognition for safety manager A HEALTH and safety manager for one of the region’s leading construction and development specialists has won a top industry award. Matthew Bostwick (pictured), who has held the post for six years at Southdale, has been named Best Individual Health and Safety Leader by the National House-Building Council. Since he joined Southdale in January, 2007, the company’s NHBC All Builder Average for Health and Safety has reduced from 13 points to 0.7 points – at a time when Southdale’s business has grown exponentially with more employees working on more sites across a wider geographical area. Paul Moore, managing director of Southdale, which has offices in Halifax, said: “Matthew has instilled an ethos of health and safety which runs throughout the company and its supply chain – from myself through to everyone on site, whether or not they are directly employed by Southdale. “This award is hugely deserved, because it reflects Matthew’s drive to make construction a safer industry, not just within Southdale but in other companies as well.”

Optical solution for office space A NEW letting has been completed at a Huddersfield town centre office block. RO Regional Properties Ltd has let space on the newly-refurbished third floor at NU House in Market Street to Optical Express Ltd. Optical Express, which operates a laser eye surgery consultation centre from the suite, has taken a five-year lease at a rent of £13,760 per annum (equivalent to £8 per sq ft. The third floor was recently fully refurbished by RORP as part of a rolling refurbishment programme at NU House. Optical Express has taken Suite 3 on that floor, leaving about 6,600sq ft of air conditioned office space available in suites from about 2,000sq ft. Jorge Frutuoso, RORP’s regional manager, said: “NU House is one of the best known office buildings in Huddersfield and the refurbishment programme we’ve undertaken there – which included upgrading the reception, toilets and common areas – means it now offers some of the highest quality space in Huddersfield. “We continue to see interest from both local and national occupiers and expect the remaining space at the building to be taken very soon.” RO Regional Properties was advised by Eddisons and Knight Frank. Whitelaw Baikie Figes represented Optical Express Ltd.


Page 6

Architects build a UK-US bridge A HUDDERSFIELD-born architect has been a key player in a UK-US link-up. The Royal Institute of British Architects has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with American-based RIBA-USA, which has Huddersfield man Jonathan Wimpenny as its president. The relationship between the RIBA and RIBA-USA, an international community of the RIBA operation in the USA, has grown over nearly 18 years. M r W i m p e n ny s a i d t h e Memorandum of Understanding reflected the close collaboration and partnership – and provides shared aims and principles. RIBA-USA was founded by Tim Clark, who launched its website in 1996, conducted polls to encourage participation and established its board. Derek Bradford succeeded him in 2005 and Mr Wimpenny in 2009. It is now formally part of the network of RIBA communities from all over the world, including the UK branches. These networks undertake activities that promote architecture and support architects working in partnership with local members, the RIBA’s global community of members and co-professionals. RIBA-USA will benefit from use of the RIBA knowledge base, research, programmes and collections, and for grants to support its activities. Speaking about the agreement, RIBA president Angela Brady said: 'The RIBA welcomes and encourages members in communities that enhance and

■ AMERICAN ADVENTURE: Jonathan Wimpenny, president of RIBA-USA, with Angela Brady, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects

develop RIBA’s presence and help achieve its strategic aims in an international territory. “Our agreement with RIBA-USA formalises a long and successful relationship. “This is an exciting opportunity to further develop RIBA membership in the USA and advance the RIBA’s purpose of championing better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members.”

Mr Wimpenny, who has a practice in New York, said: “The benefits of this partnership are far reaching. RIBA now benefits from the many RIBA-USA competitions, lectures, exhibitions as well as providing a local platform for essential fundraising. “Beyond this, collaboration with the American Institute of Architects has resulted in a far-reaching international Continuing Education agreement and RIBA-USA is now regarded by

UKTI as an essential network ready to assist in their various programmes across the United States. “Portfolio reviews and guidance are also welcomed by UK students where RIBA-USA chapters give invaluable local advice, linking them to the many career opportunities in the United States.” RIBA-USA has chapters in US cities including New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.

Firm is teaming up with Town

■ PANEL GAME: Mark and Michelle Walker (left) with Town's Mark Jacobs

A TIMBER supply specialist has joined forces with Huddersfield Town. Walker Timber and Fencing Centre has become a commercial partner of the club for the coming Championship season. The firm is run by Mark and Michelle Walker and was originally started in the 1930s by Mark’s great grandfather, Joseph. Town commercial director Sean Jarvis said: “We’re delighted to welcome Walker Timber to our growing portfolio of commercial partners. “Gaining the support of the local business community is absolutely vital to the sustainable

success of Huddersfield Town, so it’s great that another company with proud roots and tradition from Huddersfield will be working with us during the coming season.” Mark said: “We like to think we are good with wood! We stick to what we know, which is anything to do with timber, fencing and decking. “We must be doing something right, as we have nearly been going for 100 years and the business is still in the Walker family! “We have recently added a contracts division – Walker Fencing – run by Matthew Walker to compliment Walker Timber.”



Checkmate’s winning moves

A COMPANY helping major names make their buildings safe from fire is blazing a trail as the latest winner of a monthly business award. Brighouse-based Checkmate Fire Solutions Ltd has been named Business of the Month in a competition run by Huddersfield law firm Eaton Smith in conjunction with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Government export support body UK Trade & Investments. Checkmate Fire Solutions Ltd operates in the market of passive fire protection – meaning it involves itself with the materials installed in a building to protect it from fire and contain the harmful effects of fire and smoke. Typically, the consultancy deals with materials to protect the steel structure from collapsing, fire walls and doors and systems put in place to seal gaps which would otherwise allow fire and smoke to easily spread. The company, which was registered in 2003 has worked on prestigious projects including the Channel Tunnel, Hong Kong Airport and the Millennium Dome. However, working as a specialist sub-contractor in the construction industry resulted in problems in 2008 with the onset of recession and a sharp decline in business. A change of direction saw the business move away from new builds to focus on occupied buildings – giving Checkmate far more opportunities to secure profitable work and land significant orders from high profile clients including Burberry, the

■ HOT PROPERTY: Alison Palmer (centre) presents the award to Alan Oliver (third right) and Mark Williams (second right), of Checkmate Fire Solutions Ltd, with (from left) Ellie Lyon, of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce; Matthew Scholey, of Eddisons; and Bob Pidgeon, of Appleyard Lees

NHS, University College London and the Australian High Commission. Judges were impressed by the change of strategy, which has resulted in a 10-fold growth rate for the business and secured employment for about 35 staff despite contraction of the industry in recent years. Alan Oliver, managing director, said: “I am very pleased to accept the award on

behalf of everyone at Checkmate in recognition of team effort and their acceptance of changes required to robustly survive what has been a long and sustained recession.” The Business of the Month Award is open to firms in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. Contact Ian Greenwood on 01484 821389.

Construction turns a corner YORKSHIRE’S construction sector finally seems to be turning a corner with new projects beginning to rise once again across the region, says a survey. The latest findings from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said fhat since the start of the downturn in 2007, the amount of construction going ahead across Yorkshire and Humber had dropped considerably and the sector had suffered substantially as a result. Since the start of 2013, however, activity has slowly begun to pick up. During the second quarter of the year a net balance of 20% more surveyors in the region reported rises in workloads – the most positive reading in over seven years. The RICS said that while consistently falling activity meant that projects were still generally speaking thin on the ground, this upturn may suggest that the worst could now be over for the sector. Among the industries in the region to see increased construction activity during the second quarter of the year are housing, commercial and infrastructure. The survey said the positive picture was expected to continue over the coming 12 months with 56% more respondents predicting workloads to continue to rise rather than fall once more. It said: “With every pound spent on construction in the UK generating almost three pounds of wider economic growth, this will undoubtedly be seen as good news for the region and the wider

■ GOOD NEWS: Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist economy.” Across the country, activity saw the biggest rise in London, the South East and the Midlands. Northern Ireland registered the lowest reading – net balance of minus 4% – yet this still represents a considerable improvement on recent years. Looking ahead, it is also positive news for profits with 40% of surveyors in Yorkshire and Humber anticipating

increased profit margins during the next quarter. However, employment within the construction sector doesn’t look like it will rise in the short-term – with respondents still cautious about taking on more staff. Chartered building surveyor Rob Hindle said: “The required planning and regulatory process, together with ongoing funding constraints continue to be the major factors in preventing or delaying construction work across the region. “But on the whole, the construction sector in Yorkshire and Humber is the most optimistic it has been in a number of years. “Hopefully we are now on the long road to recovery.” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “It is clearly good news that the amount of construction taking place across Yorkshire and Humber seems to have turned a corner. “But this modest improvement comes after a long period of contraction and many businesses in the sector are still struggling to keep their heads above water. “Securing finance for development is still a big challenge and, despite the government’s attempt to revamp the planning system, the feedback we are getting suggests that this issue also remains a major obstacle to getting projects under way.”

Page 7

Smaller firms miss out on Help to Buy THE Government must provide incentives to encourage smaller housing developers to build more homes to help meet the rising demand sparked by the Help to Buy scheme, says the Federation of Master Builders. The FMB said Help to Buy had contributed to an upturn in demand in the housing market, while mortgage approvals had also seen a significant year-on-year increase. But it said that to remove the obstacles restricting the supply of new homes, the Government should ensure small developers have access to the business finance they need to get projects off the ground. And ministers will also need to place renewed emphasis on improving the supply of smaller, easier-to-deliver sites and reduce the “cumulative burden” of regulation and developer contributions, which discouraged smaller developers from bringing new homes to market. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The Help to Buy initiative is helping to revitalise the flagging housing market and the Government is to be applauded for having worked hard to make the scheme more accessible to small builders and developers. “Rekindling demand in this way helps create the environment for developers to start bringing more homes to market – but there is still a long way to go before we are once again building the 200,000-plus new homes we need each year just to keep pace with demand.” Mr Berry said: “In 1988, SME house builders built two-thirds of new homes in the UK, but now that proportion has dropped to just one third. “This trend has not been helped by the recent recession, the worst in living memory. To build on the current tentative upturn in economic conditions and to secure the diversity of housing supply, we need government at all levels to properly engage with smaller housebuilders to establish how we can bring more homes to market.” He said: “To avoid any risk of the Help to Buy scheme creating a housing bubble, the Government now needs to increase the supply of land. It should also lift local authority borrowing caps to help build more social and affordable housing.”

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Movers and shakers

Page 8

Mayor is VIP guest at summer sizzler ■ DEALMAKERS: Tracey Craven, of Howarths, with Kevin Teague, of Jacuzzi Spa and Bath

Companies pool their resources THE world’s most recognised and largest selling brand of jetted whirlpool baths, hot tubs and spas has sealed a contract to work with a Kirklees-based employment law specialist. Jacuzzi Spa and Bath Ltd has signed a three-year contract with Howarths, which will see the Cleckheaton-based family-run business provide HR and employment law support, including professional and practical legal advice, tribunal representation, management training and drafting of contracts of employment and company policies. Kevin Teague, financial controller at Jacuzzi Spa and Bath Ltd in Bradford, said: “We realised that the senior management team did not have the time or expertise to provide an effective HR function and made the decision to outsource. “Wherever possible, we try to use local companies and – as Howarths are only two miles away – we invited them in to outline their services.” Howarths business development director Tracey Craven said: “Working with a brand as well known as Jacuzzi is just incredible. “We’re honoured to be their chosen provider for HR and employment law support and very much look forward to developing a strong relationship with Kevin and his team.”

Bedding firm gets up for charity fundraiser MIRFIELD-based bedding manufacturer John Cotton is joining stars from TV and football for a charity fundraising fun day. The Huddersfield Road company will take part in the event at Farsley AFC, Leeds, on Sunday to raise cash for homeless charity St George’s Crypt in Leeds. Those taking part will also include Leeds United legend Eddie Gray and stars from Emmerdale and ITV Calendar. John Cotton is lending support to the event – which will include a 20-team football tournament, live bands, face painting, glitter art and a balloon artist – by donating prizes to the grand prize raffle draw. Rizwan Ashruff, divisional finance director at John Cotton, said: “The support St George’s Crypt provides to the homeless and vulnerable is invaluable and we’re keen to help them in any way we can, which is why we’ve donated a range of prizes. “Not only will the family fun day raise much needed funds, it will also be an entertaining day out for all.” Tickets for the fun day are priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for children and are available from St George’s Crypt and Farsley AFC. For further information contact St George’s Crypt on 0113 2459061. Family-owned John Cotton makes a wide range of pillows, duvets and mattress protectors and has the Slumberdown and Snuggledown brands.

A CLECKHEATON firm welcomed guests to a sizzling summer barbecue. Ferno (UK) Ltd, which manufactures and supplies medical equipment to the emergency services, hospitals and other industries across the country, played host to Kirklees Mayor Clr Martyn Bolt, business partners and customers. Clr Bolt was given a tour of the Ferno factory, based at West 26 Industrial Estate, by managing director Jon Ellis before enjoying the barbecue with Ferno employees, customers and friends. Those represented included Gateway Funeral Services, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Doobson Broking Group and Crowther & Shaw. Mr Ellis and Clr Bolt both took part in the Pedal for Pounds charity bike ride earlier this year, which has raised thousands of pounds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Huddersfield Town Academy. Earlier this year, Ferno employees presented more than £18,000 to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The cash was raised over a two-year period with activities such as sports events, cake bakes and cooked lunches.

■ FACTORY TOUR: Ferno managing director Jon Ellis (left) tells Kirklees Mayor Clr Martyn Bolt about some of the patient handling equipment made by the firm

Meet Up event for business A NETWORKING group building links between organisations with HD8 post codes has hailed the success of its first “offline” meeting. The HD8 Network welcomed representatives from almost 25 businesses at its first Meet Up, which was held at The Dalesman pub in Denby Dale and concluded with a meal upstairs at the Orchid house Thai restaurant. The event was organised by Merewyn Sayers, of Denby Dale-based business support firm Sayers Solutions. The network aims to bring together firms in villages such as Denby Dale, Clayton West, Skelmanthorpe, Scissett, Shepley, High Flatts, Emley and Farnley Tyas. Businesses attending the Meet Up included Delicious Media, Fawcett Electrical, Think Forensic, Burgundy Care Services, Begbies Traynor and The Nail Barn.

■ VILLAGE TALK: Delegates at the HD8 Meet Up event Merewyn said: “Everyone said how much they really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and that they had gained plenty from the event, and were of course, all eager to hear when the next one will be.”

She added: “The air-conditioned Thai restaurant was a pleasant relief from the heat wave temperatures and the majority really enjoyed their meal and said that they would definitely return.” Merewyn said: “The whole

evening was a great opportunity for the HD8 Network to find out what was wanted from future events. “The idea of moving venues around the HD8 area and perhaps being “a bit more” structured – aiding those who are not comfortable networkers – was proposed and discussed. “The HD8 Network welcomes suggestions and input for future events which can be sent to “We would also love to hear from venues in the area that are willing to offer their premises for future events. “The HD8 Network is not just about promoting local businesses, but also about connecting churches, charities and societies, too. “Even everyday residents of the area would be more than welcome to attend the events.”

Start-ups get their opportunity KIRKLEES companies have been urged to take part in the 10th annual Startups Awards. The competition, sponsored by Simply Business and organised by, recognise the success of Britain’s newest businesses, which have been trading for less than three years. Previous winners have included some of the UK’s fastest rising brands, such as, Naked Wines, – which was sold to Google for £37.7m – BLOTTR and The

Cambridge Satchel Company. Fiona Wood, of Cleckheaton-based children’s skincare products firm Naturally Cool Kids, who won the category for Mumpreneur Business of the Year in 2012, said: “The Startups Awards has definitely given me a huge confidence boost to move forward in to 2013.” Thirteen awards are up for grabs, including ones covering innovation, service businesses, franchisees, young entrepreneurs and women in business.

One category winner will also be named Simply Business Startups Business of the Year. Judges include Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers; Sarah Tremellen, founder of Bravissimo; and Julien Callen of, winner of the Young Startup of the Year Award 2012. Go to to enter. The deadline for submissions is September 13, 2013. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on December 6.

Kirklees Business News 30/07/13  

The business NEWSpaper for Kirklees

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