COLIN MCNEILL Why life at Planet’s sweet
Full inter view - Page 3
ALEXANDER UDE Pitfalls await the unwar y Full stor y - Page 6
An EXAMINER publication
KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS The business NEWSpaper for Kirklees
Company reaches next ‘green’ target
■ JOURNEY MAN: Mark Scanlon. managing director of FMG Support
A COMPANY in Huddersfield has furthered its environmental credentials. Independent vehicle incident management and roadside assistance company FMG Support has achieved another major business accreditation from the British Standards Institution by successfully completing ISO 14001 certification. ISO14001 is an internationally accepted standard that sets out guidelines for putting in place an effective environmental management system . It aims to address the balance between maintaining profitability and reducing environmental impact. The certification process was a lengthy and detailed one that involved audits, planning, processes and implementation, including putting a formalised staff training programme and environmental policy in place. During the 12-month certifica-
tion process, FMG worked with Calderdale-based Green Business Network, the award-winning not-for-profit business support organisation which delivers environmental advice and projects in West Yorkshire. The network helped FMG assess its environmental business practices and set clear benchmarks by which to measure its performance. FMG, based at St Andrew’s Road, also set up a steering group made up of members of staff, who were given the task of carrying out a detailed risk assessment and a scoring system to measure its performance levels. A group of internal representatives, known as “eco warriors” has been appointed to ensure compliance on a day-to-day basis and will report to FMG Support’s facilities and procurement manager – to collate the data collected and identify action plans. Mark Scanlon, managing dir-
ector of FMG, said: “We are delighted to have added another BSI certification to our portfolio. “Certifying the company’s environmental management system to ISO 14001 means that FMG Support can not only demonstrate its compliance with environmental legislation to regulators and government, but also demonstrate its environmental commitment to customers and business partners. “The qualification process has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to refine our environmental business practices and to improve the environmental knowledge of our employees. “The result is a more environmentally aware and energy efficient operation, which will not only benefit our staff, but also our customers, suppliers and ultimately, the environment. “Achieving this certification is another step on the company’s ‘Journey to Excellence’.”
Food firm stocks up the supermarket shelves A KIRKLEES food and cookery business has landed a deal to supply a supermarket chain. Dewsbury-based Curry Cuisine will provide its branded Chutnee’s Handmade premium pickles and chutneys to food and drink retailer Booths. T h e s u p e r m a rke t w i l l s t o c k products from this month in 19 stores spread across Yorkshire, Cumbria,
Lancashire and Cheshire. The award-winning pickles and chutneys to be listed include Spiced Beetroot Chutney and Rhubarb & Mango Pickle, which uses locally sourced rhubarb. Booths will also stock Lime Pickle. Paresh Tejura, operations director of Curry Cuisine, said: "We are delighted to be supplying Booths,
which has a strong reputation for good quality regional food that offers real p rov e n a n c e, t r a c e ab i l i t y a n d something a little bit different.” Booths buyer John Gill said: “We are delighted to be working with Curry Cuisine as the products are superb and the company shares our passion for top quality food with real regional origin.”
The success follows Curry Cuisine landing a contract last year to supply products to more than 270 Asda stores Leeds-based Asda is stocking the company’s award-winning premium Luxury Mango Chutney as well as its Beetroot Chutney. Curry Cuisine also runs cookery courses and visits schools.
INSIDE Start-up advice THREE top business people have joined forces to help start-up consultancies get off the ground. Judith Cork, Heather Jones and Stephen Moulds have set up Your Firm Foundations, a mentoring and support programme for start-up consultancies.
● Full story - Page 4
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Legal niceties TWO firms have linked up to spell out the legal duties of being a company director. The Howarth Partnership and Wilby Risk Management will stage seminars during the spring.
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Solicitors for business inYorkshire www.chadwicklawrence.co.uk Huddersfield | Wakefield | Halifax | Leeds
KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS
Ryanair profits hit by winter weather BUDGET airline Ryanair reported losses for the final three months of 2010 after it was forced to cancel more than 3,000 flights. Chief executive Michael O’Leary said the carrier had expected to break even in the third quarter, but instead made losses of £8.5m as strikes and severe weather grounded its aircraft. However, a 15% rise in average fares to £29, a surge of 20% in ancillary revenues, such as in-flight sales of refreshments and entertainment and a 6% hike in passenger numbers helped offset the impact of strikes in Europe and heavy snowfall in the UK. The airline faced a 37% rise in its third-quarter fuel bill. But Mr O’Leary said the group was on course to hit full-year net profits at
the upper end of its forecast range of £325m to £340m. He said the “small” third quarter loss was disappointing but said earnings were hit by a series of air traffic control strikes in the third quarter and a spate of bad weather airport closures in December. Mr O’Leary said that 3,000 flights were cancelled during the third quarter compared with 1,400 in the whole of the previous financial year. Although oil prices had risen significantly in recent months, the airline’s “fuel hedging strategy” was continuing to pay off, with 90% of fourth-quarter fuel bought at a reduced rate. Mr O’Leary said he was surprised that recent comments about the Irish economy had clouded analysis of
■ TAIL PIECE: Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has hit out at EU regulations
Ryanair, adding: “Ryanair has little exposure to the Irish economy.” In light of the adverse weather disruption, the chief executive hit out at European regulations which require
airlines to compensate passengers during widespread cancellations. Mr O’Leary criticised the directives after the volcanic ash cloud crisis, which led to airlines forking out millions in compensation to customers. He said: “It is inequitable that airports enjoy a boost to their restaurant and retail revenues from stranded passengers when their runways close, yet the airlines are obliged to pay for meals, drinks and hotels when these cancellations are outside our control.” Ryanair is not the first airline to flag up the cost of severe weather disruption. Earlier this month, low-cost rival easyJet said the snow chaos cost it £18m, while British Airways estimated the disruption will cost it £50m.
Greencore considers bid option
Race under way for Tote
SUPERMARKET sandwich maker Greencore told shareholders it was still considering whether to launch a counter offer for former merger partner Northern Foods. Greencore had agreed a tie-up with the maker of Goodfella’s pizza and Batley-based Fox’s Biscuits. But the deal was scuppered when the Northern board accepted an offer from Ranjit Boparan, owner of fish restaurant chain Harry Ramsden’s. Dublin-based Greencore, which supplies ready meals and convenience food, told its annual general meeting that it is still considering its options.
THE long-awaited sale of the Tote neared the finishing line as the Government announced the next stage of its £200m auction. Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose said a shortlist of bidders had been drawn up after receiving 18 t a ke ove r p ro p o s a l s fo r t h e State-owned betting group. The statement from the Department for Culture Media and Sport did not reveal the suitors, but added that another update is due in the spring. Favourites are said to include bookmakers Gala Coral and Betfred, as well as a consortium led by former Ladbrokes chief executive Chris Bell
The company said it would make a further announcement in due course – even though 10 days have passed since Mr Boparan made his offer. Greencore, which operates 17 factories in the UK, also reported that sales increased by 7.6% to £179.7m in the three months to Christmas Eve – despite disruption caused by heavy snowfall. The company said it benefited from the trend of people eating out less after it reported a 22% rise in sales of chilled ready meals. A vote by Northern shareholders, which was due to take place yesterday, was postponed following a request from Greencore.
and another bidding team headed by British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton. The Government fired the starting gun on the sale during June’s Budget. The Tote, set up by an Act of Parliament in 1928, has now been lined up for sale for 10 years. Ministers aim to resolve the future of the Tote by the end of June and have pledged to share 50% of the net cash proceeds from a sale with the racing industry. But the Government said the proceeds will be spread out over the period of its spending review as it seeks to slash Britain’s national debt.
PUBS and brewery group Greene King revealed a £55.8m push for a bigger slice of the carvery market following its takeover of pub restaurant group Cloverleaf. The deal adds another 12 restaurants to Greene King’s existing estate, which includes the Hungry Horse carvery chain, as well as Loch Fyne sea food restaurants, Scottish business Belhaven and the Old English chain. Greene King, which also makes ales including Greene King IPA cask ale and Old Speckled Hen, plans to spend about £25m on opening 10 new Cloverleaf sites within two years. Cloverleaf, founded in 2004 by former Whitbread executives Gary Douglas and John Winder, operates across the North and Midlands.
Contracts in the can DRINKS can maker Rexam saw its shares rise by 7p to 341.5p yesterday after it sealed contract negotiations in North America. The company – which also signed a long-term contract with its largest customer in Brazil – said the move would enable it to widen its customer base and help rebuild sales volumes to 2010 levels by 2013.
SHARE PRICES NORTH AMERICAN American Express £27.20 -0.16 Gannett 919.81 -27.44 Hess Corp £52.01 +1.18 Microsoft 1718.63 -11.91 Motors Liquidation 46.77 Wal-Mart Stores £34.74 -0.61 AEROSPACE & DEFENCE Avon Rbbr 2171/2 -3 BAE Systems 342 -67/8 Rolls-Royce Gp 638 -5 AIM Brady Plc 771/2 Dawson Intl 11/2 Man Brnze 40 -13/4 AUTOMOBILES & PARTS GKN 2017/8 -41/2 BANKS Barclays 2933/4 -41/2 HSBC 6805/8 -41/4 1 Lloyds Banking Gp 63 /8 +11/4 5 Ryl Scotland 41 /8 -1 Stan Chart 1629 +11/2 BEVERAGES Diageo 1202 -19 SABMiller £201/4 -1/4 CHEMICALS Croda 1490 -35 Elementis 98 1297/8 -3 Johnsn Mat 1925 +1 CONSTRUCTION & MATERIALS Balfour Beatty 3351/2 +5/8 Costain 220 +11/4 ELECTRICITY Drax Gp 388 -35/8
Intl Power 4223/4 -121/4 Scottish & Sthrn 1159 -7 Energy ELECTRONIC & ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT Laird 1617/8 -33/8 EQUITY INVESTMENT INSTRUMENTS Alliance Trust 364 -25/8 FIXED LINE TELECOM SERVICES BT Grp 1751/2 -15/8 Cable & Wireless 461/4 +1/4 Comm 3 Cable & Wireless 70 /4 +1/2 Wwide Colt Group 145 -11/2 KCOM 571/2 -11/4 1 Talktalk Telecom 161 /4 +5/8 FOOD & DRUG RETAILERS Morrison W 2661/2 +21/2 Sainsbury 3811/2 +103/8 3 Tesco 402 /4 +45/8 FOOD PRODUCERS AB Food 1062 -3 Nth Foods 741/2 1 Tate Lyle 551 /2 -3 Unilever 1816 -11 Uniq 53/4 GAS, WATER & MULTIUTILITIES Centrica 3197/8 -35/8 National Grid 5521/2 +61/2 Pennon Grp 603 -8 Severn 1368 -23 United Utils 5431/2 -31/2 GENERAL FINANCIAL 3i Group 310 -53/4 ICAP 5361/2 -19 London StockExch 846 -171/2
Man Group 2941/4 -21/4 Provident Financial 943 -51/2 Schroders 1803 -23 Schroders NV 1408 -19 GENERAL INDUSTRIALS Cooksn Grp 6641/2 -13 REXAM 3411/2 +7 Smiths Grp 1360 -7 GENERAL RETAILERS Ashley L 233/4 Carphone Whse 403 -2 Dixons Retail 203/8 +1/8 Home Retail 2157/8 +51/4 Inchcape 3717/8 -103/4 Kingfisher 252 -35/8 M&S 3561/2 +11/2 Mothercare 538 +4 Next 1977 -17 WH Smith 463 +11/2 HEALTH CARE EQUIPMENT & SERVICES Smith Nph 694 -31/2 HOUSEHOLD GOODS Aga Rangemaster 1201/4 +21/4 Barrat Dev 921/8 +1/8 Persimmon 4085/8 +63/8 Reckitt Benckiser £34 Taylor Wimpey 345/8 +1/8 INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING Charter 8071/2 -71/2 IMI 871 -16 INDUSTRIAL METALS Ferrexpo 4223/4 -145/8 INDUSTRIAL TRANSPORTATION BBA Aviation 223 -21/8
LIFE INSURANCE Aviva 4423/4 Lgl & Gen 111 Old Mutual 1255/8 Prudential 676 Resolution 2613/8 Standard Life 2291/4 MEDIA BSkyB 755 Chrysalis 1593/4 D Mail Tst 560 ITV 773/4 Johnston Press 101/2 Pearson 1024 Reed Elsevier 5521/2 STV Group 1281/2 Trinity Mirror 831/2 Utd Business 7021/2 UTV 133 WPP 7721/2 Yell Group 11 MINING Anglo American £305/8 Antofagasta 1406 BHP Billiton £233/4 Eurasian Natural 1007 Res Fresnillo 1296 Kazakhmys 1506 Lonmin 1654 Rio Tinto £423/4 VEDANTA £223/4 RESOURCES Xstrata 1385 MOBILE TELECOM SERVICES Inmarsat 6801/2 Vodafone Group 1753/8 NONLIFE INSURANCE
-73/8 -21/4 -11/8 -21 +1/2 -13/4
Local shares Carclo Marshalls National Grid Weir Gp
2981/4 114 5521/2 1584
+33/4 -5 +61/2 -35
-5 -10 -11/4 -1/4 -15 -6 -11/2 -21/4 -31/2 +2 -8 -1/4 +3/8 +8
-20 +1 -20 -1/4 +30 -1 -23/4
FTSE closed at
5862.94 Down 18.43
Admiral Grp 1643 RSA Insurance Gp 1357/8 OIL & GAS PRODUCERS BG 1401 BP 4847/8 Cairn Energy 4141/4 Royal Dutch Shell A £22 Royal Dutch Shell B £213/4 Total £361/2 Tullow Oil 1328 OIL EQUIPMENT & SERVICES AMEC 1200 Petrofac 1566 Wood Group 547 PERSONAL GOODS Burberry Gp 1074
+6 +5/8 +67 -2 -47/8 1
- /8 +3/8 -6 +7 +15 -21/2 -8
PHARMACEUTICALS & BIOTECHNOLOGY Astrazeneca £301/4 -1/8 Axis-Shield 3041/4 -23/4 GlaxoSmithK 15 Shire 1647 -11 REAL ESTATE Brit Land 5181/2 -2 Captl Shop Cent 3675/8 -71/4 DTZ Hldgs 40 -3 Hamrsn 4291/4 -21/2 1 Land Secs 674 /2 -4 SEGRO 2981/4 -23/8 SOFTWARE ETC SERVICES Autonomy Corp 1496 -21 -21/2 Invensys 3361/4 Logica 1353/4 -15/8 Misys 3391/4 +131/4 Sage Group 2951/8 -11/4 SUPPORT SERVICES Berendsen 4211/8 -73/8 Bunzl 7601/2 Capita 679 -81/2 De La Rue 667 -191/2 1 Electrocomp 261 /4 -21/4 Experian 775 G4S 2685/8 -1/8 Hays 1211/8 -15/8 Homeserve 438 -35/8 Menzies J 453 -11/4 Rentokil 1001/8 -23/8 Smiths News 99 +1/4 3 Wolseley £21 /4 IT HARDWARE ARM Hldgs 516 -3 Psion 911/2 -11/2 3 Spirent Comms 138 /8 +15/8 TOBACCO
Br Am Tob Imperial Tobacco
LEISURE & HOTELS Carnival Compass Grp easyJet Enterprise Inns FirstGroup Go-Ahead Gp Greene King Intercontl Htls Intl Cons Airlines Gp Ladbrokes Mitchells & Butlers Natl Express PartyGaming Rank Org Stagecoach Group TUI Travel Whitbread
£281/2 5551/2 379 1071/4 3741/8 1245 4721/4 1315 2563/8
-1/2 -11/2 -1 +11/8 -41/2 -4 +233/4 -14 -45/8
1303/4 3443/4 2441/2 1903/4 126 2097/8 253 1735
-1/4 -13/4 -1 -57/8 +5/8 +3/8 -63/4 -16
Tourists going abroad can expect the following rates for sterling: Australia...................... 1.51 dollars Bangladesh................. 105.85 taka Brazil.............................. 2.39 reals Canada....................... 1.51 dollars China ............................. 9.36 yuan Czech Republic ...... 25.99 korunas Denmark....................... 8.26 krone Euro................................ 1.11 euro Hong Kong................ 11.74 dollars Hungary................... 285.95 forints India.......................... 64.27 rupees Japan........................... 123.98 yen Mexico ....................... 17.22 pesos New Zealand .............. 1.91 dollars Norway ......................... 8.79 krone Pakistan.................. 127.63 rupees Philippines ................. 60.18 pesos South Africa................. 10.62 rand South Korea.............. 1550.00 won Sri Lanka ................ 166.51 rupees Sweden......................... 9.87 krona Switzerland.................. 1.42 francs Taiwan ...................... 40.25 dollars Turkey....................... 2.38 new lira USA ............................ 1.52 dollars
KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS COMPANY director Colin McNeill is a man of iron! The 42-year-old managing director of Birkby-based creative design agency Planet Group is a dedicated competitor in the Iron Man Triathlon – a competition, which tests the strength and staying power of athletes by combining swimming, cycling and running in one gruelling event. “I train six days a week,” says Colin. “I split the training up between Huddersfield and Leeds. Before work, I swim for an hour at Leeds Aquatic Centre. That means getting up at about 6am. I also train after work and I try to fit in some running at lunchtimes. When I’ve a race coming up I will train 20 hours a week.” Looking relaxed in the boardroom at Planet’s Bay Hall offices, it’s difficult to believe that Colin is building up to his next Iron Man Triathlon, which takes place in May in Lanzarote. The competition is made up of a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km bike ride and then a 42km run – all to be completed in under 17 hours. “It all started out about six years ago when my business partner Eddie Rayner and I decided we wanted to get fit,” Colin says. “We decided to enter a sprint triathlon, so we had to train for that. The whole event took about an hour, but I started doing more and more training covering longer distances. I was bitten by the bug.” Colin has been competing seriously since 2006 and has taken part in Iron Man triathlons in Germany, Florida and Australia. The event in Lanzarote will be Colin’s fourth. He plans to spend a week there acclimatising before the event – and stay on for a well-earned holiday afterwards. Colin is also taking the opportunity to drum up sponsorship to raise money for Kirkwood Hospice at Dalton. He draws comparisons between the dedication needed for competitive sport and the commitment required to run a business. “It is all about being consistent and doing the little things well,” says Colin. “That is what gets results.” Colin grew up in Huddersfield and attended King James’ School at Almondbury before taking an arts foundation course at Huddersfield Technical College and furthering his studies at Batley College of Art. “I went to work for an advertising agency in London for a while,” he says. “But I came back to Huddersfield because I was missing the town. People in the creative industries think London is where it’s all at. I grew up in Kirkheaton and I was used to seeing fields everywhere. Instead, I was in a concrete city where you had to go to Hyde Park to see some green.” Colin joined forces with Eddie to set up Planet
Into orbit with Planet Group in 1997 – leaving the relative safety of employment to go it alone by combining Colin’s design skills and Eddie’s expertise in magazine publishing. “We took the plunge because we believed we could run a business better ourselves,” says Colin. “At that time, we weren’t in a recession and we had lots of ideas. A lot of creative businesses came out of Batley Art College. People would buy an AppleMac and set up in a bedroom as freelancers.” Almost 14 years on and Planet Group is well established at Birkby – and in Dubai, where Eddie is based alongside Colin’s brother Paul, who is office manager there. “We set up the Dubai office about six years ago,” says Colin. “Eddie visited Dubai during his honeymoon and saw how much construction was going on. Part of our business is publishing trade magazines for the construction industry, so it was a good business move. “When the recession
■ IRON RESOLVE: Colin McNeill is positive about prospects for Planet Group
meant construction work in Dubai slowed down, we were able to switch to design work.” Says Colin: “I did have the option of going to Dubai and running that side of the business, but I have people I trust implicitly out there in Eddie and Paul. We have ‘Middle East hours’ at the Birkby office with one designer starting at 6am to correlate with business hours in Dubai. We can also handle design work here if necessary, create a file and email it over, so that our people on the ground can present work to their clients.” Planet has 28 staff based in Huddersfield and 10 at the Dubai office. It has clients in all sectors of industry, but specialises particularly in construction, sport and leisure, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. Customers have ranged from British Airways and Virgin Trains to Vivimed Labs at Leeds Road and Kirklees Active Leisure. “We are well-established and we have a good reputation,” says Colin. “About 95% of our business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals. As far as we are concerned, it is all about providing clients with a good return on their investment. I have turned down work where I didn’t think we could help them in the right way. “It is not just about designing a logo or a brochure, it is about seeing the bigger picture and doing things that will bring in business for the client. “In the case of one client, which had been established for 10 years, we revamped their whole marketing material. The following year, they had their best-ever year in business. The only thing that had changed was the marketing material. Ten years later, they are still with us.”
Page 3 Colin McNeill
Colin said the recession had shown the value of firms maintaining their marketing budget. “The companies that have survived in this recession are the ones who didn’t cut their marketing spend. They have set themselves apart from the competition,” he says. “If you cut back on marketing, people don’t know you are there. You might have saved your marketing budget, but you’ve no sales.” Planet Group has also emerged from the recession in good health. “At the moment, we are very positive,” says Colin. “We have come through the worst of the recession. We continued to do good work for clients during the recession and that is
bearing fruit in referrals which are coming back as new contracts. We have people working long hours and weekends. We have just taken on another designer because of the workload.” Colin is always keen to generate more business. He is an active member of a local BNI networking group, which meets once a week at The Hepworth, near Holmfirth. “It’s about meeting the same people each week and helping each other generate leads,” he says. “ I have been to networking events where all they do is exchange business cards and have a few drinks. That’s not how BNI works!”
Role: Managing director Age: 42 Family: Partner Jill and children Luke, 13, and Olivia, 12 Holidays: Lanzarote – training for the next Iron Man Triathlon Car: Mitsubishi L200 First job: Lifeguard at Huddersfield Sports Centre Best thing about job: The satisfaction that comes from exceeding customer expectations Worst thing about job: Going through the accounts and paperwork generally Business tip: Be consistent. Do the small things well and everything else takes care of itself
Planet Group Work: Creative design agency Sites: Birkby and Dubai Employees: 38 Phone: 01484 321000 Email: c.mcneill@ planet-group.co.uk Website: www.planet-group.co.uk
Experts establish firm foundations THREE successful business people have joined forces to help start-up consultancies get off the ground. Huddersfield-based consultant Judith Cork has linked up with, Heather Jones and Wetherby-based Stephen Moulds to form Your Firm Foundations, a mentoring and support programme for start-up consultancies. All three of them have themselves successfully achieved the difficult transition from permanent employment to self-employment. The mentoring and support programmes have been developed to provide cost-effective and practical on-going support during the tricky first 12 months of running a new business – when many businesses fail. Key objectives are to help people find their first clients, save money and avoid mistakes. The three partners have complementary expertise and experience in marketing, human resources, legal
Dealer double A CAR dealership in Huddersfield has enjoyed its most successful year. Harratts Volvo Huddersfield, part of the family-run Harratts Motor Group, smashed previous records to boost total sales by 50% in 2010. Used car sales more than doubled compared with 2009 while new car sales rose by an industry-beating 15%. David Mills, general manager at the Bradley-based dealership, said: “We are delighted to post such positive sales figures, smashing previous records and consolidating our place as one of the most successful dealerships in the area. “These fantastic results are testament to the sales team at the dealership. Without exception, every member of staff has worked unstintingly over 2010.”
and financial areas, which are seen as the foundations to success. Heather, Judith and Steve were initially introduced through the SME network at Bradford School of Management and soon realised that they had common experience, interests and values. Heather, who is HR business mentor, said: “We realised that there are likely to be many people, just like us, leaving employment with years and years of valuable experience, who may now be thinking about consulting but are not quite sure how to go about it.” Steve, who is finance business mentor, said: “We want to help them up the learning curve and take some of the pain out of the process as well as reducing costly mistakes.” Judith, the marketing business mentor, said: “We see Your Firm Foundations as replacing the lost workplace – developing the new contacts and partnerships vital for any business.”
■ JOINT APPROACH: The Your Firm Foundations team of (from left) Judith Cork, programme co-ordinator Emma Wilkin-Jones, Heather Jones and Stephen Moulds
Tumultuous times to come HIS will be a tumultuous year T for employment law changes, with many radical options sugges-
ted already. But the nature of a coalition Government means there will be a lack of certainty about what will change and when. Certain provisions will come into effect as commented on below, but media reports suggest further proposals are on the horizon. On January 13, 2011, the Government confirmed it will phase out the default retirement age of 65 from April 6, 2011. The default retirement age will therefore be abolished completely with effect from October 1, 2011. The Bribery Act 2010 was due to come into force in April, 2011. The Act introduces a new strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by individuals acting on behalf of an organisation. The only defence for an employer is where they have “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery and corruption. However, the Government recently announced that this Act is under review and may not come into force as part of the drive to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. Some provisions with the Equality Act 2010 did not come into force on October 1, 2010. However, with effect from April, 2011, employers will be allowed “to apply voluntary positive action in recruitment and promotion processes when faced with two or more candidates or equal merit, to address
under representation in the workforce”. It does appear, however, that the draft provisions relating to the socio-economic duty on public authorities, combined discrimination and gender pay reporting will not now come into force as previously expected. New regulations will apply to parents of babies born on or after April 3, 2011. Eligible employees will have the right to take up to 26 weeks of paternity leave if the mother returns to work early. The government intends to extend the flexible working rights to allow parents with children under the age of 18 to make a request. The regulations are expected to come into force in April, 2011, although they are still only in draft form currently. The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy pay and the basic award in unfair dismissal claims, will rise from £380 to £400. In addition, the maximum compensatory award will rise from £65,300 to £68,400. From April 11, 2011, it is expected that the following rates will apply:
● Statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay – increase from £124.88 to £128.73. The weekly earnings threshold will rise from £97 to £102 ● Statutory sick pay – rates will increase from £79.15 to £81.60 with the earnings threshold rising as above ● Maternity allowance – this will increase from £124.88 to £128.73 with the earnings threshold remaining at £30. The Government is considering whether to increase the period of qualifying service required for ordinary unfair dismissal claims from one to two years. An announcement is expected shortly on its plans for the reform of tribunal services. There has been speculation that the Government is considering introducing a fee for tribunal applications and again an announcement is expected on this shortly. The Government may be considering a reduction to the statutory 28-week sick pay period although no firm announcement has been made yet.
Neil Wilson is an employment lawyer at Chadwick Lawrence Solicitors
New year brings another award YORKSHIRE Building Society has been recognised for its range of competitive mortgage deals by being named the Best Overall Lender award at the Moneynet Awards 2011. The Bradford-based society, which has its roots in Huddersfield, has already announced that it received more than 1,500 “best buy” mentions for mortgages alone last year. Yorkshire’s fixed rate deals topped the tables throughout 2010, along with its products specially tailored for first-time buyers or those wanting to borrow up to 90%. The society launched its innovative Rollover Mortgage to help those coming to the end of their mortgage as well as promoting its Offset Plus facility, which allows family members to help first-time buyers onto the ladder by offsetting their own savings. Chris Smith (pictured), group direct mortgage manager, said: “We are delighted that the great products and service we offered to our mortgage customers in 2010 have been recognised in the Moneynet Awards and we’re committed to continuing our efforts in 2011.” Andrew Hagger, of Moneynet, said: “It has been another extremely challenging year for banks, building societies and credit card companies, but some have gone the extra mile to outperform their rivals with excellent deals for the consumer.”
Meeting room is at the ready
AN accountancy firm in Huddersfield is opening its doors to clients. Walker & Sutcliffe Chartered Accountants, based at Greenhead Road, is offering free use of its meeting room facilities to clients. The firm said that the service, which includes tea and coffee machines, laptops, a 32-inch LCD monitor and flipchart for presentations to groups of up to eight, was part of its drive to add value to its clients and services. Practice development manager Peter Lythgow (pictured) said: “We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional service, but this adds something a little more for the businesses that don’t have a conference room or need privacy away from their place of business.” The new service follows on from the free business health checks Walker & Sutcliffe has begun offering to all local businesses since December.
Reasons to take keen interest in loan rates ITH today’s extraordinary low W interest rates, it can sometimes be difficult to see the benefits of hedging
now rather than waiting for Bank of England base rate to start rising. I have tried below to set out some of the reasons why now is such a good opportunity to hedge – not to be missed. ● Why protect now when interest rates are so low? Today’s extraordinary low interest rates may not be around forever – don’t view this as a temporary windfall opportunity that you don’t mind missing – it’s a cost like any other. The impact that higher interest rates have on the profitability of your business may be significant – run through some “what if ” scenarios on your profit and loss account. A rise in base rate from 0.5% to – for example – 4% would represent an increase of 700%, not 3.5%. If you take a three to five-year view or longer on your business, you may want to consider the risk of where interest rates might go over this period, not just the next 12 to 18 months. The cost of doing “nothing” – that is staying in a floating rate – may far exceed the cost of doing “something” – swap or cap – if rates move higher. ● I’m not doing anything until base rates move higher Market rates move independently of base rate. There is a real risk that market rates move
BANKER’S BLOG Jill Hague
significantly before the first rise in base rate. Can you afford to take the risk of keeping all your borrowing in floating rate? You are buying finance without knowing the price. Instead of waiting until base rates move, why not consider a forward-starting swap? For example, agree today to stay on floating rate for the next 12 months and then enjoy a great low fixed rate for the following five years. The rate we offer will be linked to today’s market rate. If you think that doing nothing is doing something – you’re speculating! ● Why consider fixing my rate with a swap? Fixing the rate of interest that you pay provides certainty and protects your business against future rate rises. Today’s fixed rates are near all-time record lows – lock in a low budget rate. The fix doesn’t have to be for the full amount of the borrowing – you can hedge a proportion of your borrowing today and review the situation again in a few months time. There is no premium or fee to pay to fix your borrowing with an Interest Rate Swap.
Jill Hague is HSBC area commercial director for Calderdale and Kirklees
Fix to lock in profit margins and gain certainty of costs. Fix to protect - not to beat the market. You don’t have to fix, there are plenty of other flexible solutions. If you wish to cancel or reduce the amount of your fix, there may be a cost involved. because you decide to fix at an agreed level, you will not benefit should interest rates fall. ● Why would I bother paying a premium for a cap? A cap gives you the best of both worlds. A cap is a flexible solution that protects you should rates move above your chosen cap level. You will benefit from today’s low rates when base rate is below your capped level. The cap doesn’t have to be for the full amount of the borrowing – you can hedge a proportion of your borrowing today at these exceptionally low rates. An upfront premium is payable but this can be added to the loan. The cost of cap premiums have come down considerably in recent months. They will, however, start to
rise as market interest rates increase. The cap premium is tax deductible at the marginal rate of corporation tax. The cap is your asset – it will never have a breakage cost and may have value to you if you decide to repay your borrowings early. What are your competitors doing? If they have hedged their interest rate risk, you may risk being uncompetitive when interest rates start to rise. ● I can’t hedge – my cash flow is too tight. Cap premiums are similar to insurance premiums - they help protect your business profits. If cash flow is tight, there is even more reason to hedge your interest rate risk. Interest Rate Cap premiums do not need to be paid upfront, they can be paid in instalments, or may be added to the outstanding loan. We can “step” the swap so that you pay a lower fixed rate in the early years and a higher fixed rate in the later years of your interest rate hedge. Zero premium or forward-starting solutions are also available. So I hope this gives you food for thought and an opportunity not to be missed. If you need any more information then please e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
Rocked in Hollywood. Made in Borehamwood.
s o . r
Serious fun for busy networkers MORE than 80 business people across Kirklees and Calderdale met for a networking event with a difference. Cafe Ollo at the Media Centre in Northumberland Street, Huddersfield, was the venue for the get-together, which was born out of the Kirklees and Calderdale
Business Group on LinkedIn. The free event, organised by Ramsdens Solicitors, the Media Centre and text messaging specialist SMileS, involved live music and entertainment as well as the chance to swap business cards and discuss topics of interest.. Pictured at the event are (above,
from left) Media Centre programme and marketing manager Clare Danek, SMileS business development manager Andy Earnshaw and managing director Mark Evans, and Ramsdens Solicitors marketing manager Sinead Sopala.
It may sound like a quiet little town but Borehamwood is home to Orange Amps, which has been supplying the world’s music industry for the past 40 years. At HSBC we believe that a local business doesn’t have to stay local. By thinking about your business from a global perspective, we can help you thrive both locally and internationally.
Speak to Jill Hague, Area Commercial Director, on 07786 524353*, or email email@example.com
Business Issued by HSBC Bank plc. *Lines are open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). AC18837
KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS
Rising concern over regulation THE number of small builders worried about the speed of regulatory change and drive for sustainability doubled during the final quarter of 2010, says a report. Figures from the National House Building Council showed that 60% of small builders felt that regulatory change surrounding new homes and sustainability was happening too quickly. That compares with just 32% in the previous quarter. Following a period of Government spending cuts, 44% of small builders also claimed to have no idea when the market will recover enough to have a positive effect on them and their business. Imtiaz Farookhi, NHBC chief executive, said: “Whether fuelled by a growing concern about the future of the market or as a separate worry, small builders at the end of 2010 were clearly finding it hard to keep up with regulatory changes relating to the future of sustainable homes. “As we enter 2011, it is important that small builders are offered increased information on changes that will affect their businesses.” ■ WINNING RECIPE: Rixonway Kitchens has supplied a kitchen for Ravensthorpe-based community group Women First. Pictured are (back, from left) Shamin Akhder, Nila Hussain, Imtiyaj Khan and Nazia Khan with (front) Hawa Khadbai, Sajidah Mehmood, Nasreen Hussain and Jennie Spence
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Cooking up some help for Ravensthorpe group A DEWSBURY kitchen manufacturer has cooked up a treat for a local community group. Rixonway Kitchens has provided Ravensthorpe-based Women First with the donation of a large kitchen to become the focal point for activities and education in healthy eating. Women First is part of the Addas Centre in Ravensthorpe and has strong links with the local community. It helps improve the quality of life and self-esteem of members with low level mental health issues through training, education and recreation.
A spokeswoman for the group said: “Kitchens and hospitality play a key role in the centre’s activity so we are hugely grateful for this essential donation. “We have recently started a healthy eating course to help women in the community to learn about nutrition in food – allowing them to support their own and their family’s health and well-being. “It is well known that healthy eating combined with exercise plays a large role in alleviating depression and other mental health issues.”
Nick Greenall, operations director at Rixonway Kitchens, said: “We work hard to support the communities in which we work. This can be through supporting local charities, tackling worklessness and reducing our environmental impact in the region. “Women First not only enhances the lives of women in Ravensthorpe and promotes understanding between different groups in the community, the centre acts as a point for people to meet, learn and engage with one another.”
Law Society makes the case for quality THE Law Society is launching a campaign to encourage solicitors involved in residential conveyancing to join a new quality scheme. The Conveyancing Quality Scheme, which is supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, will provide a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices. The scheme opened for applications in December. But the society said firms needed to have completed applications for CQS status by February 28 to get the most out of its publicity push. The society is planning to highlight the benefits of the scheme to home buyers and potential home buyers beginning in April to coincide with the
Easter house-hunting surge. Law Society president Linda Lee said that over the past three years, the society had led consumer PR campaigns encouraging the public to use a solicitor rather than other legal providers – all of which had been successful. She said: “We now plan to do the same with CQS, a scheme which will be of genuine benefit to anyone buying a home. “The aim is to generate publicity for legal practices which have secured the CQS mark of excellence and enable them to market their CQS status to the public effectively. “Firms which have applied by the end of February will benefit most from
the society's initial wave of promotion, which is aimed at flagging up to homebuyers the benefits of using a CQS accredited practice for conveyancing.” Firms applying to join the scheme will undergo a “robust” assessment and will be required to renew their membership of the scheme each year. The aim is to reinforce consistency of standards throughout the conveyancing process, reduce the risk of fraud and give consumers peace of mind when it comes to home buying. Go to www.lawsociety.org.uk or ring 020 73165550.
KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS
Don’t get caught out THE growth of the residential lettings market disguises serious pitfalls for landlords, a Huddersfield solicitor has warned. Alexander Ude, of Armitage Sykes, based at New North Road, said: “While mortgage lending has slowed to first-time buyers and the numbers of mortgages granted hit a record low last year, the residential letting market has been increasing. “In 2011, it is expected that this market will again see strong growth and the possibility of new residential landlords coming to the market as interest rates remain low. “However, many landlords do not expect the issues they face when a tenant falls into serious arrears and they are forced to take the step of evicting a tenant because of non-payment of rent. “On average, it takes six to seven months for a landlord to regain possession of their property, during which the tenant is permitted by law to remain in the property effectively rent free.
■ RISKS: Alexander Ude, of law firm Armitage Sykes
“I say rent free as there is no requirement or condition imposed on the tenant to pay rent during the time between serving notice to the tenant and the date the tenant is evicted. “Indeed, many feel that when it comes to the courts, tenants are favoured over the landlord when a landlord pursues an eviction. “There is a strong likeli-
hood that further arrears in rent incurred during this time will not be paid by the tenant. “The landlord could embark on further legal proceedings, but needs to consider the risk that a favourable court judgement does not necessarily equate to payment from the tenant. “In all too frequent circumstances, the landlord must face the stark reality of having to cut their losses and ab a n d o n a ny f u r t h e r attempts to recover payment from the tenant.” Said Mr Ude: “The Government’s proposed closure of 54 County Courts will result in the overburdening of the remaining courts. “Without radical review of the process to include a more positive approach to the landlord’s ability to obtain possession, landlords will continue to suffer. “So what is a landlord to do? Choosing the right tenant is now a must and if you do have problems, act quickly.”
Market set to grow HALF of mortgage brokers expect to increase the level of buy-to-let business they introduce this year, according to a new survey. Re s e a rc h by Pa rag o n Mortgages suggests that the return to health of the buy-to-let mortgage market continues to gather pace. P a r a g o n ’s F i n a n c i a l Adviser Confidence Tracking Index – a panel-based survey of mortgage brokers – found that 46% of intermediaries expect to introduce more buy-to-let mortgage business during 2011. Nearly two out of 10 (17%) expect to see an increase in buy-to-let business of 10% or more with almost a third expecting to do up to 10% more business. Paragon’s FACT research also showed that 51% of mortgage brokers reported an improvement in the availability of buy-to-let finance during the final quarter of 2010 – with 46% expecting a further improvement during the first quarter of 2011. The buy-to-let market showed strong signs of recovery in 2010 with the launch of several new lenders and Par-
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FOR SALE ■ HOUSE WORK: Paragon Mortgages said the buy-to-let sector is expected to strengthen further during 2011
agon’s return to the market. The year saw an increase in the number of products and lenders as well as a greater level of innovation, leading to renewed competition and choice in the sector. The Council of Mortgage Lenders is expected to confirm that gross advances increased during 2010 when it announces its final year figures for the buy-to-let market in February. John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages said: “We are clearly now in a
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KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS Graham Holden
BITC BUSINESS in the Community has appointed Graham Holden, chief executive of Birkby-based paving supplier Marshalls plc, as chairman of its regional advisory board for Yorkshire. Mr Holden (pictured) succeeds Stefan Barden, formerly of Northern Foods and now UK chief executive of food wholesaler Brakes Group. Mr Holden has taken an active role on the BITC regional advisory board since it was set up in October, 2008. Last year, he was named as the 2010 Prince’s Ambassador in Yorkshire and Humber for his leadership and commitment to responsible business in the region. At Marshalls, he has instilled a culture of employee volunteering and the company, which also has operations at Elland, is now a major supporter of Calderdale Cares. Mr Holden has also been the driving force behind an award-winning carbon management programme. To date, Marshalls has “carbon footprinted” more than 2,000 of its domestic hard landscaping products –enabling targeted reductions of emissions of energy-intensive products. Marshalls was named as the Example of Excellence for Sustainable Marketing and Innovation at BITC’s Awards for Excellence in 2010. Liz Needleman, BITC regional director, said: “We are delighted to welcome Graham as our new regional chairman. Under his leadership, Marshalls have been exemplars in many areas of responsible business and Graham’s enthusiasm and commitment have led to real impact on the ground. “BITC has a growing membership of 850 companies supporting responsibility in the workplace, marketplace, environment and the community. And we share what we learn about driving performance through responsible business practice through the campaigns, products and services we offer our members.”
Movers and shakers
Focus turns to director duties THE legal duties of being a company director will be the focus for two free seminars aimed at Kirklees businesses. Cleckheaton-based human resources and employment law specialist The Howarth Partnership will team up with Halifax-based Wilby Risk Management to stage the event on April 12 at The Howarth Partnership’s premises in Law Street, Cleckheaton, and on May 10 at Wilby’s offices at Charles Street, Halifax. Gavin Howarth, legal director at The Howarth Partnership, said: “With all the pressures that come with being a director, it’s easy to forget that you have legal responsibilities under the Companies Act, 2006. “The aim of the seminar is to remind directors of these duties by looking at
what they actually mean in practice.” Wilby, which provides a range of health and safety services to organisations throughout West Yorkshire and the UK, will deliver a presentation on business continuity management. Associate director Mark Dalton said: “Business continuity is something that most directors know they should have in place to protect their businesses from threats and to recover from disasters, but often don’t know where to begin. “The seminar is designed to give attendees the skills and awareness to start putting in place this essential management discipline essential for all businesses.” For further information or to reserve a free place contact Tracey Hopkins on 01274 864999.
■ DIRECT LINK: Tracey Hopkins, of The Howarth Partnership, with Mark Dalton, of Wilby Risk Management
Town staff warming to their work
Connection SEATING company Connection has appointed Alan Gazzard as sales director. Mr Gazzard joins the Fenay Bridge-based company with a wealth of experience from his time at Knoll, Herman Miller and latterly at Senator. At Connection, he will take responsibility for UK sales and manage the company’s sales team. The appointment will enable managing director Kelvin Bromley to focus on export sales following a successful showing at industry exhibition Orgatec. As part of its strategy for 2011, the company has launched a new brochure, which includes translations in French and German. Other developments include a move to larger premises for the firm’s London showroom and additional warehousing at Huddersfield, which will enable Connection to continue its product development programme.
Boultons MICHAEL Sellers, a director of Boultons Chartered Surveyors in Huddersfield, has become an approved member of the Expert Surveyors Group. Mr Sellers, a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, is already a member of the UK Register of Independent Experts. He now becomes a member of the only UK-wide experts directory designed exclusively for solicitors who need to instruct a chartered surveyor to provide an expert valuation or property report.
OUTDOOR clothing company TOG24 is helping Huddersfield Town staff keep warm this winter. The ski and outdoor clothing specialist, which has its head office in Heckmondwike, gave Town’s ticket office staff personalised Gilets to help stave off the chilly conditions – and they have certainly come in handy over the recent weeks and months! Ticket office staff member James Eaton is pictured (above) wearing one of the Gilets, which feature the TOG24 logo and the Huddersfield Town crest. Ticket office manager Sue Beaumont said: “The ticket office can be a fairly inhospitable place during winter and the
Gilets that TOG24 have provided have been absolutely fantastic for our staff. I would like to thank them for their assistance.” Huddersfield Town commercial manager Tracy Nelson said: “We first started working with TOG24 about the time of the first Pedal for Pounds bike ride in August, 2009, and since we formed an official partnership in June, 2010, our relationship has gone from strength to strength. “This was a superb gesture from TOG24 to the staff in our ticket office and I’m looking forward to furthering our relationship over the coming months and
Yorkshire Bank A NEW business partner has been appointed to Yorkshire Bank’s Calderdale and Kirklees business banking team. Charlotte Grace (pictured) joins the 13-strong team led by senior partner Kevin Newson, which operates from Yorkshire Bank’s West Yorkshire Financial Solutions Centre in Bradford. Ms Grace, who lives in Halifax, has expertise in relationship management and business development in the SME market and will be working with trading businesses throughout Calderdale and Kirklees. She joined Yorkshire Bank in 1990 and has worked in retail branches, business banking in Bradford and Shipley, corporate banking in Manchester, as a credit trainer and as a business partner at Watford FSC. Her appointment comes as Yorkshire Bank launches its Investing for Growth initiative this spring which allows businesses to restructure existing loans to free up funds to invest in growth opportunities such as recruitment, technological investment or upgrading premises.