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GET READY FOR EXPO 2021 Ten years of The Price Is Wight IW College’s Skills Bootcamps Red Squirrel Property Shop IW Chamber’s Cowes Week BBQ Yokogawa Marex IW Council Planning

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Island Business Magazine Published by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Editor Tom Stroud Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Mill Court, Furrlongs, Newport Isle of Wight, PO30 2AA Tel. 01983 520777 Designed & Printed by While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of Island Business magazine the publishers do not accept any liability or provide any guarantee that the information is accurate, complete or up to date. The publisher and its employees and contractors have used their best efforts in preparing these pages and this publication but make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, with regard to the information supplied. The views of contributors do not necessarily represent those of the IW Chamber of Commerce. The IW Chamber of Commerce and its employees and contractors shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the providing of the information offered here. Contains material sourced from responsibly managed forests, certified in accordance with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).


FOREWORD WELCOME TO THE LATEST EDITION OF ISLAND BUSINESS! There’s a feeling of positivity in the air. We’ve enjoyed a sunny August, with strong bookings for hospitality and accommodation providers. Although this summer’s schedule of events was greatly reduced, those that did run are reporting safe and successful results. There’s still a lot of debate about what the “new normal” might look like, and we’re not there yet, but August definitely felt like the most “normal” month for quite some time.

You’ll see photos from the Chamber’s Cowes Week Barbeque in this edition. We also look forward to Expo 2021, the Island’s premier business networking event, with more than 50 businesses exhibiting and promoting their products and services.

As confidence returns after the relaxation of restrictions, business-to-business networking is firmly back on the agenda.

Enjoy your magazine. See you at Expo!

As ever, this is a magazine that celebrates success. Red Squirrel Property Shop are reporting brisk business and The Price Is Wight celebrates ten years this month. Their stories, and many more, are in these pages.





Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

Please recycle this magazine



14 EXPO 2021




IW Chamber’s 2021 Cowes Week Barbecue


IW Council Planning


Interview | Charlie Panayi – Red Squirrel Property Shop


Profile | The Price is Wight


Expo 2021


BCC Update


Upskill Employees | Isle of Wight College


Spotlight | Mental Health in the Workplace


Wildlife Tourism is a Winner for Business


Events & Training


New Members


IW Chamber President | John Allen



Building careers: WBM invests in Apprenticeships Aaron McHugh and Steve Deacon

Recent activity at Wight Building Materials has shown the company has a keen eye on preserving the Island’s past as well as planning for its future. Work at Hale Manor Quarry in partnership with archaeologists from Southampton City Council is uncovering important insights into Bronze and Iron Age life in the Arreton Valley. The work – with numerous artifacts being uncovered and recorded – comes as the company has seen investment in the future rewarded with apprentices Aaron McHugh and Steve Deacon securing Level 3 NVQ qualifications in their chosen specialist areas at the end of the four-year apprenticeship. Aaron, 24 from Newport, studied electrical engineering during his apprenticeship which involved maintaining the electrical management system at WBM. Every six weeks he travelled to Stephenson College in Leicestershire for academic study. Steve, 25 from Sandown, joined WBM from Brockenhurst College. Focusing on mechanical engineering, he has learned practical welding and fabrication skills while maintaining WBM’s fleet of plant machinery. Steve Burton, general manager at WBM, said: “Employing and training young, enthusiastic and talented young local people stands us in good stead for the future. It is fitting that the graduations come as our work at Hale Manor is really stepping up in terms of revealing some fascinating insights into how the Island used to be. Both the apprenticeships and the archaeology are linked by our determination, as a proud local company, to do what’s best for the Island.”

Live stream: global audience for TEDxLukelyBrook ‘If not now, when?’ is the theme of a new Island conference and talks event, held in March next year, which will be captured for the TEDx Youtube channel. With over 32.2 million subscribers, the channel will provide a potential global audience for the seminar held at the Anthony Minghella Theatre at Quay Arts in Newport on March 2nd, 2022. Held under the TEDxLukelyBrook banner, the topics include ‘A move from the urban jungle’ and ‘Exercise changes lives’ to ‘Islands of geography for a greener future’ and ‘Reconsidering disability in our community’. Gina London, author and Emmy-winning

former CNN correspondent and anchor is just one of the speakers announced for the event, whose talk entitled ‘The Myth of Authenticity’ will help discover why the most valued attribute of a leader is also one of the most misunderstood. TEDxLukelyBrook is an independently produced, not for profit event, operated under a license from the US conferencing organisation TED. WightFibre, IFPL, WRS and Red Funnel are supporting it as sponsors. Other organisations backing the forum include IW Chamber, PC Consultants, BrightBulb Design and Visit Isle of Wight.

Emmy-winning Gina London, speaker at TEDxLukelyBrook

Jobs warning from BCC as Furlough scheme ends The British Chambers of Commerce is urging the government to invest in skills training after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 30 September 2021. With businesses warning of redundancies once the furlough scheme finishes, the BCC is calling for the government to act to support those left without jobs. “With widespread skills shortages across the economy, some will find new jobs where their skills are in demand, while others will need to retrain for opportunities in a different sector,” says 2


Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce. “Whether furloughed workers are returning to the workplace or the wider labour market, it is crucial that employers and the government give them the support and training they need to be re-engaged and productive. Alongside rapid retraining opportunities, government should extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022, and expand it to enable older workers to gain new skills and experience.” THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Business networking returns at Expo 2021 More than 50 Island businesses are gearing up to meet customers old and new at Expo 2021. IW Chamber’s flagship business-to-business event returns on Wednesday 22nd September at the Lakeside Park Hotel, with free entry to everyone from 10am until 4pm. “Business networking is definitely back,” says IW Chamber’s CEO Steven Holbrook. “Expo is for everybody. It’s great to be bringing the event back with such strong Business networking at Expo 2019 support from the Island’s business community. For many people this will be their first major networking event since the pandemic. You don’t have to be a Chamber member to attend, it’s free to attend and Expo is a really high value, time effective way of catching up with some brilliant local businesses.” Expo 2021 is sponsored by WightFibre and attendees will be able to hop on board WightFibre’s mobile store for first hand demonstrations of ultra-fast broadband. See full listings of the businesses at Expo in our special feature, beginning on page 15.

Strong summer for Vectis Ventures

Jack back with a trio of events

Robin Hill’s popular Sky High event

Festivalgoers enjoy Jack Up The Summer

Both Robin Hill and Blackgang Chine have been overwhelmed by the response from visitors to the parks this summer. Both attractions enjoyed a successful season, partly driven by a sustained offering of events. Since May Robin Hill welcomed thousands of guests and produced five dynamic events, starting with their popular Sky High Night Glow hot air balloon show in May. The Woodland Sessions in July brought three completely different nights of premium entertainment, including the largest comedy OCTOBER 2021

line-up to ever hit the Isle of Wight. Katie Melua and Rhythm of 90s brought live music to the large open-air Woodland Valley. August closed with the biggest Sky High so far, along with family favourite’s The Cheeky Monkey’s fire show. Blackgang Chine’s summer was bolstered by dinosaur and cowboy characters, along with foam parties, character meet & greets topped with spectacular firework finales. The teams are now preparing for a busy calendar of activity for October half term.

Jack Up Events is celebrating a successful August with three well-attended events. Although most of the Island’s summer outdoor shows were postponed due to the pandemic, the Jack Up The Summer festival made a triumphant return to North Fairlee Farm in Newport with thousands of Islanders in attendance. A week later Jack Up Events presented a 60s themed night at Shanklin Theatre, followed by community event Ticket to Ryde over the August Bank Holiday weekend. “We’re thrilled to be back,” says Jack Up’s Sarah Moss. “To see everyone singing and dancing together once again has been incredibly emotional. The meaning and magnitude of Jack Up The Summer’s comeback has been apparent from the incredible feedback received from our audience, artists, traders and all the many small Island businesses involved in making it happen. Putting the festival on meant holding our nerve for 16 long months which wasn’t easy but we kept the faith and succeeded in bringing the festival experience safely back to the Isle of Wight as well as raising many thousands of pounds for Island charities.” NEWS


New regional Maritime and Transport Action Group The Solent Freeport, local infrastructure, skills and employment, connectivity and the environmental agenda are in the spotlight for the Maritime and Transport Action Group. The newly formed consortium brings together businesses in the maritime, transport, infrastructure and ports industries in the Central South. Led by Fran Collins, Chief Executive of Red Funnel and Gary Whittle, Director of Meachers Global Logistics, the group will focus on addressing shore-side priorities, opportunities and challenges faced by maritime and transport industries in the Central South. It aims to connect the region to influence policy, drive change and create opportunities for industries across sea, air, rail and land. Fran Collins, Chair of the Maritime and Transport Action Group, said: “Our vision is to work collaboratively with business leaders, representing some of the most influential organisations in our sector. We are inviting new members to join to help deliver measurable actions that will help create investment and development, attract talent to the region and promote the Central South region as a UK gateway.”

Fran Collins, chair of the group

Local flavours in-store at Southern Co-op More Isle of Wight food producers are now part of the Local Flavours range stocked by Southern Co-op. Products from Crumbs Brewing, Minghella Ice Cream and The IOW Espresso Co. are all now available to buy from The Co-operative Food stores on the Isle of Wight. Island shoppers will be able to pick up four different varieties of Wight Label coffee, six flavours of Minghella’s ice cream and three beers from Crumbs Brewing. “It’s great to be bringing Minghella Ice Cream to more people through Southern Co-op’s stores,” says Jenny Simmons from The Isle of Wight Ice Cream Company, which purchased Minghella Ice Cream in 2017 a few years after founder Eddie Minghella announced his retirement at the age of 93. All three product ranges will be stocked at The Cooperative Food in Bembridge’s Sherbourne Street, Cowes’

Mill Hill Road, Freshwater’s Afton Road, Rookley’s Main Road, and Shanklin’s Regent Street. Crumbs Brewing and Minghella products will also be at The Co-operative Food in Carisbrooke’s High Street, Freshwater’s Avenue Road, and Ryde’s West Street. The Co-operative Food in Sandown’s Avenue Road will also stock Crumbs Brewing ale. Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours range currently stocks local products from around 200 suppliers in stores in 11 different counties across the south of England.

BCC: Pandemic is masking Brexit effects The pandemic and the shift to new trading conditions in how UK companies sell services to the EU have led to a clear reduction in UK-EU services trade compared with 2019. Data from the ONS shows services trade with the EU fell at a brisker rate than trade with the rest of the world over the two years to the end of 4


March 2021. Services exports to the EU fell by 14.7% in that period and imports by 38.8%. William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “These statistics indicate that the effects of the pandemic have masked the real long-term impact of the UK-EU TCA on

trade in services, particularly in relation to business travel and supply of services. As economies reopen the effects of these issues will be slow burning, but nevertheless felt increasingly by companies operating both in the UK and Europe. “The UK government should

seek to be ambitious in a common agenda with the EU on mutual recognition of professional qualifications, building more flexibility around the TCA for business travel, and liberalising reservations on services access to help kickstart our economic recovery from Covid-19.”





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Wednesday 4th August was a symbolic moment for many - the first major business networking event on the Island since April last year. Chamber members charged their glasses and took to the balcony of the Island Sailing Club in Cowes for an afternoon of fresh air, sunshine and a very welcome opportunity to re-engage with each other.

In pictures: IW CHAMBER’S 2021 COWES WEEK BARBECUE with Red Squirrel Property Shop

“It’s a significant moment as we are able to get together again,” says IW Chamber CEO Steven Holbrook. “The Chamber thrives on networking and it’s so good to be able to meet up, face to face. After more than a year of working from home and virtual meetings it’s fabulous to be able to network informally, with a glass of Mermaid Gin. I’d like to thank everyone who attended and enjoyed the hospitality of the Island Sailing Club, with a big thanks to Charlie Panayi and the team at Red Squirrel Property Shop who sponsored this event. Networking is definitely back!”








Ever wanted to tell the Council what you want to see? They’re listening… The local authority is urging business people to share their views on a plan which will inform strategy for the next 15 years. Tom Stroud spoke to James Brewer, Planning Policy Team Leader at Isle of Wight Council.

Why should business people specifically, rather than as Island residents, take part in the Island Planning Strategy? The strategy is being developed in consultation with the local community. Growing the economy is absolutely fundamental and the plan can try and make sure there’s enough land available for industry, as well as helping businesses to be a bit more agile. The planning process can be very clunky so one of the things we’re trying to do is be a lot more flexible in our policies. As an example, if business users wanted perhaps to flip between different types of commercial use then maybe they don’t need to get engaged in the planning application process if jobs are being generated. We want to attract investment, making it easier for businesses to locate here.

So what’s already in the plan regarding the economy? What ideas are you canvassing our views on? It’s really important that existing jobs are maintained wherever possible but we also look at new jobs and upskilling. For example, when there’s a new housing development, can we capture some of the skills and trades that might go into building those houses and keep them on the island? The Island needs the right level of digital infrastructure so we’ve got a policy on that. We’re looking at the rural economy and making sure we’ve got enough sites with water access for boatbuilding is really important. The high streets have really suffered in terms of vacant units and decreasing footfall so after the pandemic we want to make sure our high streets can be as flexible as possible. The government has introduced some 8


quite radical changes to ‘permitted development’ which basically allows commercial businesses to go to residential in some areas (and subject to certain criteria) and what we’re trying to do is make sure that commercial businesses are able to locate wherever they can in a town centre.

Many of those ideas sound pretty sensible and broadly uncontroversial. Are you effectively asking us to ‘rubberstamp’ an existing plan? That’s a really interesting point because a lot of the comments we get are negative. Sometimes the challenge is getting people to say ‘well actually, we like that and we support it’. So for business people, if you think there’s some good stuff in there, let us know, because as much as people will object to the plan we also want people to support it if they think it’s right for them. As a planner the one thing you can never get is consensus because some people will agree and some people will disagree. It’s our role to try and get that balance right as much as we can.

Is it a long and involved process for business to take part? When we went out to consultation about two years ago one of the comments we got back was that it was quite difficult to engage. We’ve tried to make it a lot easier. You can view all of the documents on-line and we’ve split it out into sections like the economy, or housing. Within the consultation portal it’s a lot easier to make comments on specific bits of the plan.

If businesses spend time on this, will their views really be taken into account? Is it worth the effort? We made some quite big changes as a result of our last consultation, meaning the overall level of housing within the plan has come down by 25%. That’s quite a big number and it’s a reflection of the comments. Things can change and they do change. We had over 9000 responses last time, which is extremely high, although a lot of them were regarding specific potential housing developments. Key areas like the environment and housing always get lots of commentary. Other areas, perhaps transport and the economy, don’t get the same level of response. We’re really trying to get as many people commenting on as many different parts of the plan as possible.

The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 1 October 2021. You can take part by visiting






INTERVIEW PROPERTY PRICES AND THE PANDEMIC: Charlie Panayi from Red Squirrel Property Shop talks to Tom Stroud

We’re chatting today at the Cowes Week lunch, which feels like the first real networking event for businesses since the pandemic hit almost 18 months ago. How has the property market been impacted in that time?

The property world has absolutely flown. Covid and Brexit together really acted like a perfect storm. The Isle of Wight specifically is up nearly 16 per cent in 12 months. That kind of growth is unheard of and it’s not slowing up. The “new normal” means that the Island is suddenly a very appealing place for mainlanders to buy property. They can work from home most of the time, commute to the office to show their face now and again. It’s not just Londoners coming here, or people relocating from Surrey. Sometimes it’s Islanders who moved away years ago who realise they can now go back home. A friend of mine runs an extremely large, £100million business, which previously had a head office in London. When Covid happened it gave him the excuse to shut up shop and move his team to the Isle of Wight, where he hired eight new staff, all earning London salaries. That’s great for the local economy. We all know the average salary on the Isle of Wight has been extremely low for a very long time, so having an influx of new business and higher wages, being spent locally, is really positive. We’re not selling second homes to Londoners at the moment, we’re selling them their main residences.

Is all this recent growth sustainable as we return to a more normal life? I think as long as the new way of working continues, then it is. If in two or three years employers go back to offices permanently then the Isle of Wight doesn’t make sense logistically, but I think hybrid working is established now.

What about commercial property? The high street and the retail sector have had a difficult time and with the growth in hybrid working, that must mean empty commercial units. Covid has definitely hit the commercial market hard and the high street was having a difficult time even before the pandemic. It’s not all doom and gloom but those landlords that were used to the good times are now having to realise that actually it’s pretty tough. They’re having to lower their prices if they want to rent out a property, sometimes by as much as 50 per cent, compared to what they were used to getting for the last 30 years. It’s probably a worrying time for commercial landlords. It’s definitely a good time to diversify. We’ve got a lack of homes on the Island so renovating non-high street units into residential property is a good move. I’m not sure what the future looks like for the town centres. I think we need a council or government-led scheme to make it appealing for businesses to stay open 10



“The Isle of Wight property market has always been its own bubble. We’ve traditionally been behind the mainland in terms of capital growth. The response to the pandemic and the huge demand for property has really flipped that trend on its head. We’ve had the joint highest increase in value in the last 15 months and that’s unheard of for Islanders.”

on the high street. It’s a tough time. Rent prices have fallen over time, which has means less return for landlords. Small independent businesses still have to pay rates and I think we have to incentivise businesses and make it easier for them to start-up. Cowes is a good example of a town that is thriving. It’s mostly independent units, they’re not large shops so it makes it more feasible for people to earn a living.

How was your own business affected by the pandemic? To be honest I always think of worst case scenarios. I’m not a pessimist but I prepare for the worst case and then anything else has to be better. I’d seen what was happening in Italy with Covid and we made sure we’d done certain things prior to lockdown taking effect. We made sure we had videos of every single property, so we weren’t affected at all, we were ahead of it. The pandemic didn’t affect business turnover, which if anything was better. In many ways it’s been a great time although I’ve got very good friends whose businesses got hit very hard, so I’m mindful of not wanting to sound boastful. We did have to adapt and streamline our processes. As a business we always try and make sure we’re slightly overstaffed anyway, because we’d rather offer a proper service, so that protected us initially, but because of the growth and the demand we’ve hired three new full time and one part time staff member in the last 10 months.

What have you learnt in the last 18 months? Red Squirrel is part of me really. It’s my little puppy. I do treat it personally and I think I’ve learned that money isn’t everything. That might sound bizarre but the reality is, and I think what Covid has taught people, is you don’t really know what’s around the corner. You don’t know how long you’ve got with someone. It might be thirty years, it might be a week. I think the key lesson I’ve learned is to make time for yourself and your family. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, when you want to be an entrepreneur. Successful business people are by their nature hard-working, but working smarter and making the most of your time, both in and out of work, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned Red Squirrel Property Shop’s Charlie Panayi (left) with colleagues Clarice Johnson and Liam Nevitt at IW Chamber’s Cowes Week Barbecue






Karyn Carson created The Price Is Wight in 2011, launching it from her living room with money borrowed from family. Today the website is one of the Island’s biggest retail outlets and an established virtual shop window for hundreds of Island businesses. Combining on-line deals and working from home might sound very 2021, but ten years ago it was something fresh for the Island and for Karyn Carson it was a new beginning. “There was never any question in my mind that The Price Is Wight was going to work,” Karyn says. “It had to. It was born out of a tragedy really.” In 2011 Karyn and her husband Alan had moved to the Island from Spain, where they left behind their former home and their possessions. “We’d had a terrible time and we had virtually no money at all after putting our savings into a property and a new life,” Karyn says. “But our house fell down and we lost everything we’d ever owned. It was a Homes from Hell scenario. We basically had five suitcases and enough money to book five flights. We were left with no choice but to move back to the UK and randomly came to the Isle of Wight as we felt it might be a little warmer than going back to Manchester or Glasgow. We had three children aged under five so we needed to work together on a project that could be home based. We really wanted to put our skill set together.” Karyn had been a business consultant and sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline, whilst Alan had worked as a journalist for News International. Originally intending to launch a magazine, they 12


saw a gap in the market and with an eye on the future they went on-line instead. Inspired by the growth of national sites like Groupon, Karyn’s big plan was an Isle of Wight equivalent, with deals and vouchers. Propelled by self-belief and £500 borrowed from Karyn’s dad, they built their first website, came up with a catchy name and The Price Is Wight was launched. “We wanted a project with some longevity, offering businesses a way of marketing that’s almost a no-win, nofee arrangement. Our model is totally transparent and you pay for what you sell.” The fledgling site began with a handful of clients and a user base of 424 email addresses, gathered by canvassing outside supermarkets, at car boot sales and from hand delivering ten thousand leaflets. “The business grew faster than I thought it would,” Karyn says. “We did feel like we were ahead of the market, operating in an area where there wasn’t much competition. Back then people were still very reluctant to give you their email addresses, whereas now people just hand them out all the time! We were always really conscious to protect people’s data from the very beginning. We never sell their data and we only ever email people who have signed up. When the GDPR regulations eventually came in we were already quite safe, with a very clean database.”

The business expanded steadily and today offers discounts on food and dining, beauty products and treatments, hotel breaks, live shows and even wedding packages worth thousands of pounds. After just two years of trading Karyn reached a major turning point when she knew that the demand had overtaken their resources. “It was crazy. I was producing 400 gift vouchers a day, as individual Word documents. I was probably working 18 hours a day. To be able to grow we had to employ somebody to help.” That person was Kerstine Andrews, who joined in 2013 and is The Price Is Wight’s sales manager today. Faye Heal runs the office and the business is still owned and run by Karyn and Alan, whose 16-year-old son Sol is the newest recruit “Expanding the team meant that I had time to think again,” Karyn says. “It really was the point where the business was able to change massively and develop. Letting go was really tough, because until that point it was like my child. I took everything personally and it was all consuming. There was almost a grieving process because I was so close to it all. “I definitely have no trouble delegating now. I know I’ve changed. A lot of the other marketing businesses on the Island have started their own daily deals websites and seven years ago that would have sent me into orbit! Now I


“We work with more than 800 Island businesses on a yearly basis. We run around three deals a day, every day and we always have at least 120 active deals on our website. We have 72,000 Islanders signed up who receive our emails, with more than 79,000 off-Island customers who are part of our database.”

The Price Is Wight founders Karyn and Alan Carson

just think ‘okay, game on’. I like a bit of competition because it spurs you on to do better.” Karyn’s team work hard to stay on top of an evolving marketplace, where technology moves fast. Although the hospitality sector has been hit hard by Covid, there’s no question that there’s plenty of pent-up demand from subscribers looking to recover from the pandemic with some retail therapy. “We’re constantly growing and developing our systems,” Karyn says. “Our first website cost just £500, but our most recent one is a totally different beast. “We’ve had some great successes and working as an official Isle of Wight Festival ticket outlet has been a great learning experience for us. We’re not a global ticket agency but we’re a significant outlet and I think it gave a lot of people real confidence in our brand. It’s great to be affiliated with the Festival, an event which brings so much to the Island.” As well as success and an evergrowing client base, The Price Is Wight has brought Karyn peace of mind, something which she admits was in short supply at times in the past. “Because we had started from nothing, the fear of ever going back there drove me every day. For the first six years I was so afraid of the business failing or changing that I had no concept of work-life balance. I would answer the telephone in the middle of dinner and I would be writing emails or responding to Facebook queries at midnight. As I’ve got older and the business has grown I’ve realised that it’s okay to leave it until tomorrow morning. That’s been a lesson for me. “We’ve changed so much over the years and we’ve learned an awful lot but I was absolutely convinced that it was going to be amazing. I’m proud that we still work with our very first businesses, like the Lakeside Park Hotel, Chocolate Island, Woods Kitchen, Charlottes Academy, Albert Cottage - and so many more. For me that’s really important because it means they trust you and it means that what we do really works.”





EXPO 2021


Business networking is back with the return of IW Chamber’s Expo More than 50 businesses will be exhibiting at Expo 2021, sponsored by WightFibre, held at the Lakeside Park Hotel in Wootton on Wednesday September 22nd. The one-day event is open to the public and business people from any sector are being encouraged to drop in to Expo between 10am and 4pm to make new contacts and catch up with existing customers and clients. “Expo has always been a big part of the Chamber’s year but this time it feels particularly significant,” explains IW Chamber Chief Executive Steven Holbrook. “Expo is always the biggest day for business-to-business networking, with hundreds of attendees. This year’s event will be the first time that many businesses will have met face-to-face since the pandemic hit. Virtual and hybrid working has been productive in many ways but business thrives on networking and face-to-face meetings are a huge part of that. I’m really looking forward to seeing businesses get together again. “Expo is run by the IW Chamber but it’s open to absolutely everybody. It’s free to drop in and you don’t have to be a

member of the Chamber. The whole purpose of the day is to provide a forum for businesses to exhibit and network informally. If you’re a business person on the Isle of Wight, come and say hi to lots of other Island businesses.” Expo 2021 is sponsored once again by WightFibre. Expo attendees will be able to hop on board the WightFibre mobile store to talk to the team and learn more about the Gigabit Island and the benefits for businesses. “WightFibre is proud to be headline sponsor of the Chamber’s Business Expo once again,” says WightFibre’s Chief Executive John Irvine. “It will be our first major business networking event in 18 months and we’re looking forward to re-engaging with the business community face to face. We’ll be bringing the WightFibre Mobile Store, taking pride of place outside the Lakeside Park Hotel, so hop on and speak to the team about our Gigabit Island project and how our full-fibre, ultrafast and future-proof broadband can help your business to grow.” Expo offers a highly effective way to network with a wide range of businesses of different sizes and sectors. You don’t have to be a Chamber of Commerce member to attend – entry is free to everyone. With more than 50 businesses exhibiting, everyone is welcome to drop in.

If you’re in business on the Isle of Wight, you’ll want to be at Expo. Register now for the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce’s flagship event for business-to-business networking! Sign up to speed up entry on the day and to receive updates and information about making the most of Expo. Head to for more

Expo 2021 is sponsored by:

Expo 2021 is supported by:

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Vehicle Consulting Solent WRS Systems DataSwift IT & Networks IDML Robin Crossley Photographer L&M Plus Consulting Limited Island FX MedTec Design Services Red Funnel Wight Computers All Things Printed Moore (South) LLP Top Mops Contract Cleaning Churchers Solicitors Wheeler & Lai Chartered Surveyors




PC CONSULTANTS SUITE 71 72 73 74 75 76 78 79 80 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89

Solent LEP Hovertravel Isle of Wight College Hillbans Pest Control Four Point Digital IW Council PC Consultants HTP Apprenticeship College Brightbulb Design Meridian 3 Betapak Education Destination Good Skills Training Roach Pittis AVO Marine Systems Zebra Creative Limited Lawdit Solicitors


VECTIS BUSINESS LINK WALKWAY 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

IW Council Biffa Waste Services Isle of Wight Observer Wightlink Spyder Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Seetec Pluss Alex Tana Coaching Amey WP Recruitment & HR Isle of Wight Lottery 17

BCC UPDATE Carbon footprint a mystery to 9 out of 10 small businesses •

National business survey finds vast majority of small businesses have yet to put targets in place to reduce their emissions – with the pandemic pushing climate action down the agenda

Just 11% of respondents measure their carbon footprint, although half of respondents acknowledge their customers are worried about the environment

Larger firms are far more likely to be taking environmental action than microbusinesses

Cost is considered the biggest barrier, with 30% claiming lack of finance is holding them back

Research published by the British Chambers of Commerce in partnership with O2 has found that only one in ten (11%) responding businesses, of more than 1,000 surveyed in the UK, are measuring their carbon footprint. This falls to 9% for small businesses, and 5% for microbusinesses, with fewer than 10 employees. By contrast 26% of larger firms, with more than 50 employees, are measuring their footprint. The research also showed only one in seven (13%) have set targets to reduce their emissions – down from one in five (21%) when firms were surveyed before the pandemic in February 2020. In addition, almost two thirds (64%) of businesses surveyed say they don’t see net zero targets as a high priority in the wake of the pandemic, although half (49%) admit their customers are worried about the environment. The findings also show that one in five businesses (22%) don’t fully understand the term ‘net zero,’ and almost a third have yet to seek advice or information tohelp them develop a net zero roadmap or improve their environmental sustainability. With the impacts of the pandemic and other priorities weighing heavily on small and medium sized businesses, the research found that smaller firms were far more likely to be behind on climate action. When it came to setting carbon reduction targets, 27% of larger firms have done so, compared to just 9% of microbusinesses. 18


BARRIERS AND REQUIRED SUPPORT The main barriers preventing respondents from making their business more sustainable are high upfront adaptation costs (34%) and a lack of finance (30%). Getting access to grants (28%), tax allowances (14%) and reducing the costs of making adaptations (14%) were cited as the three steps businesses would most like to see to help them reduce their carbon consumption within the next six months.  While 13% said they would like access to impartial, bespoke advice with an action plan – and almost a third said they look online for advice on net zero and environmental sustainability. TAKING ACTION ON EMISSIONS Despite a lack of awareness on carbon footprints, many firms are still taking a wide variety of positive actions to reduce their emissions and become greener. Over the next 12 months, 54% of businesses surveyed are planning to reduce their consumption (e.g. of paper, food and plastics), 47% are planning to reduce the energy they use through travel, and 40% are planning to reduce the energy used at their offices and premises. Of those looking to take action, eight in ten (79%) cite concern about the environment as the motivating factor, followed by efficiency gains or cost savings (cited by 59%). Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said: “This research is a real eye-opener and shows just how big a challenge the UK’s net zero target is. The dual impacts of the pandemic and Brexit have been a huge body-blow to many businesses, so it’s unsurprising that targeting emissions has taken a back seat. “But change has to come, and our Net Zero Hub makes clear that the earlier firms adapt then the greater the advantages will be - they cannot afford to get left behind. “The climate challenge is one that affects every single one of us and businesshas a big part to play in tackling it. But the Government must also recognise that smaller firms will need access to grants, subsidies and other financial support to help them take effective steps on the journey to a greener future.” In response to the findings, the British Chambers of Commerce and O2 have today launched a free online hub to help businesses find out how to measure their carbon footprint, set targets and develop an overall net zero strategy. The new hub provides a one-stop-shop for businesses to find out everything they need to know about Net Zero. It is packed with information on how to apply for grants, where to seek specialist advice and practical tips from firms that have already taken action. To find all the information, tools and support to become net zero, head to: THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT





UPSKILL EMPLOYEES WITH FAST TRACK DIGITAL, TECHNICAL AND GREEN SKILLS: Businesses urged to take up new government funded “skills bootcamps” at IW College

The Isle of Wight College is one of only four colleges in the country to be delivering a new training package designed to upskill existing staff as well as aid recruitment drives for businesses of all sizes. IW College successfully bid for the funding, which is being allocated as part of the Chancellor’s Plan For Jobs. Tom Stroud talks to the College’s Assistant Principal, Ben Sheridan.

The IW College is offering 12 week courses in Digital Marketing, Digital Technician and Engineering Technician. What are ‘skills bootcamps’? They’re part of the Chancellor’s Plan For Jobs which is well-funded plan by the government to increase employability and develop people’s skills. The Skills bootcamp model offers free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks for adults (aged 19 or over) who are either in work or recently unemployed, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. For employers, Skills bootcamps can provide high quality, specific training to upskill their current workforce or to create a pre-employment programme. We can work with businesses to provide funded digital and technical training courses, determined by employers, in order to meet local economic needs. If employers wanted to do this privately it would cost a substantial amount of money; skills bootcamps allow the college to fund this solely for the employer’s benefit. The aim of the programme is to deliver high quality training, tailored to the employer. If it’s a brand new job role, the training is fully funded and if you’re upskilling existing staff, the government funds 70% of the costs which is impressive.

Why are the skills bootcamps good for businesses? It’s essentially a pre-employment or skills development program where employers not only can teach the specific skills that they require but they can also monitor the work ethic of the person involved. Does that person turn up on time? Have they got a good attitude at work? That’s all before they have to sign on the dotted line. For a business looking at recruiting on a large scale, it’s a really useful way of testing who to take on before they come into the workplace. Any size business can engage. You don’t have to be a large employer; you can even be self-employed and train yourself.

What makes this programme different from other training packages? There’s never been a fund where we can hire new people or upscale your existing staff on a large scale. So if you want to do a whole workshop or workforce change, or if you want to just develop your employees with a specific set of skills that you’ve identified, there’s government money available to do that. 20



“If you’re thinking about recruiting anyone before March 2022, talk to us first. Similarly if you’re thinking of internal training before 2022 then stop because we might be able to lower the cost significantly, with 70% of the funding potentially paid for by the government. The Isle of Wight College has close to a quarter of a million pounds in funding to spend on training so that employers benefit. We need to do this by the end of the financial year, so talk to us today.”

A key difference between say a skills bootcamp and a Traineeship is the fact that you don’t need to have qualification at the end of the programme, which is really non-restrictive. A computer business could approach us and we can design a training package that will upskill their staff, providing specific training on the software that they required. The staff member’s ability to perform a new skill, or promotion to a new role, is the outcome of the programme, rather than a formal qualification.

Ben Sheridan, Isle of Wight College

We definitely have a lower wage here compared to the whole of the south, by a significant amount. With the digital world evolving alongside the response to the pandemic, the Isle of Wight might be in a unique position where we can be economically advantageous for employers in the south. The cost of living is lower here and we could look, as an island, to really place ourselves to grow business locally whilst attracting business from the mainland.

An employer needs to commit to taking on an agreed number of learners. If this was a large number, the employer will be able to influence the programme significantly. Staff would need to move into a different position or role within the organisation to be eligible for a skills bootcamp. If you’re looking to take on or upskill your whole shopfloor, that can cost a lot of money. Mainly that money is spent in time. So for employers who know what their recruitment needs are for the next year or so, we can do a lot of that for them, funded by the government.

The IW College is one of only a few places to have bid successfully to deliver this sort of training. Is there a specific Isle of Wight aspect to all of this?

This programme is an investment in the economy and every pound spent typically generates four or five pounds in wider economic activity. If local businesses are recruiting and developing internally to make them more competitive, more agile, leaner and more resilient, that’s going to provide an advantage.

How do you see skills bootcamps growing in the future? We envisage the bootcamps growing through a collaborative response locally, whereby the college works with businesses to plan their recruitment needs across a 12-18-month period. By planning their skills training, employers can help to develop workforces that start ready, understand the business culture and the role, and most importantly, have demonstrated the skills required by the employers. Through working together to employ people locally, if our community can demonstrate that we use this funding well we will be able to request further funding. Vitally, this depends on employment outcomes from the programme, where people are able to gain employment for a period of 6 months or more.




SPOTLIGHT MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE Joanne to provide post-Covid mental health support at Yokogawa Marex

Cowes-based technology company Yokogawa Marex has appointed a mental health first-aider as part of its commitment to supporting its workforce as the business continues to emerge from Covid restrictions. Having undertaken bespoke Mental Health First Aid England training, financial accountant and HR officer Joanne Westmore is now the first point of call for staff who may need extra confidential support and advice, adding to the strong Yokogawa Wellbeing Team. It is the first time the Isle of Wight branch has appointed such as role which is very much in line with the company’s key goal of creating a fulfilling and healthy environment for employees. Divisional director Wayne Matthews said: “Not only do we want to be an employer that recognises the importance of mental health, we are an outward-looking company keen to reduce the stigma and improve understanding of the issue so people don’t delay seeking help if they need it. “It is important that employees feel comfortable reaching out if they have a problem and Joanne is now there for any staff member who may need such extra confidential support and advice. “During this unprecedented time, it has been vital for us as a company to continue to invest in the wellbeing of our staff, making sure each member feels valued and supported when working from home. We recognise that each staff member will have different needs and requirements and Joanne will be there for whoever needs support. Joanne said: “The pandemic and remote working has been a challenge and impacts staff in different ways, so we are keen to emphasise how important it is for staff to help and support each other as colleagues and ensure that if anyone feels they are struggling

or needs additional support, they can take the first step by talking to me.” Microsoft Teams has enabled staff to stay connected, with a dedicated wellbeing channel that is updated regularly with tips and advice. Joanne added: “Yokogawa Marex understands that mental health is just as important as physical health within the workplace, especially if you are working from home. Despite restrictions easing, health and wellbeing will remain a priority, and there are plans to expand and develop the Well Being provision more over the coming months. IW High Sheriff James Attrill, who is promoting the importance of mental health in the workplace during his term of office, welcomed the move. He said: “Yokogawa Marex contacted me wanting to follow up on my High Sheriff’s campaign to encourage more Island businesses to adopt better mental health provision for their employees - I was glad to hear that they had appointed a mental health first aider as part of that programme. The Island has a strong caring community and I am sure this is one amongst many companies thinking seriously about the well-being of their workforce most particularly as we start to recover from the Covid Pandemic. “

GET MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING FOR YOUR BUSINESS IW Chamber is supporting Island High Sheriff James Attrill’s campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. James has recently qualified in the QNUK Level 2 Award in Mental Health at Work (RQF). The session is delivered by Larry Martin of Good Skills Training, who presents the course in partnership with IW Chamber. The one day course is run at YMCA, Winchester House, Shanklin, priced at £99 + VAT per person. The QNUK Level 2 Award in Mental Health at Work (RQF) is the ideal introduction to understanding mental health in the workplace. The qualification covers the most common mental health conditions, how to identify potential mental health concerns in colleagues and then how to discuss their needs and assist them to access suitable services and support. Find out more at: Above: Joanne Westmore - Financial Accountant & HR Officer at Yokogawa Marex in Cowes Right: James Attrill, High Sheriff








FEEDING FUTURE GROWTH How sound financial advice could help business recovery

The last year has been life-changing. But with the easing of restrictions, life is slowly starting to return to normal. We need to find new and smart ways of collaborating - building better partnerships, looking out for each other. After all, it’s been a tough time for many of us financially. We chat to Chris Barnes, South East Regional Director for Schroders Personal Wealth (SPW) to discover how they’re looking to support the island’s business community as we all exit lockdown. Why has a national wealth management company become a member of the Isle of Wight’s Chamber of Commerce? Schroders Personal Wealth is a national business with a local approach to client service. The Isle of Wight has a long history with me and many of my colleagues across the region - holidaying here when we were younger, and now sharing the beauty of the island with our families. Supporting the local community is incredibly important to me and at SPW we understand the importance of being there on the ground through our network of regional hubs in order to do this.

Aren’t you just about big business interests? Not at all. Financial advice isn’t just for the wealthy. It’s about helping people towards living the life they want to live, For example; helping people choose when they retire or feeling confident enough in their own personal finances to help their grandchildren set up in life. After such a challenging time, we want to improve people’s confidence and well-being through sound financial advice based on their personal goals.

Chris Barnes, South East Regional Director



So do you want people to dream big again? Absolutely! But we are also realists and pre-pandemic goals and dreams may need reviewing or even rethinking. Our dedicated and experienced advisers support people to understand where they are financially and create a personalised plan which aims to get them to where they want to be. And as restrictions lift, we have a team of local advisers who can meet with clients face-to-face where appropriate or we can continue with virtual meetings.

How do you see the market / economy on the Island changing in the future? Prior to the pandemic, the Isle of Wight Council had plans in place to make the Island ‘an inspirational place to live, work and visit’. This vision remains, albeit some of the plans may be adapted to take account of Covid-19 and need to be accelerated to help address recovery. In order to recover and build back better, we could help people of the Island learn from the last 18 months by addressing gaps in their financial

plans. From ensuring that you have financial protection in place should the unexpected happen again, to maximizing your retirement pot so that you can be confident that you’ll be more financially stable in the future – we could support you. We hope to build a strong relationship with the IW Chamber and its members. It’s important for us to understand the unique needs of the island’s businesses so we can provide financial advice and guidance, as appropriate, as we also help people rebuild as we come out of the pandemic.

And in the longer term? The people of the Isle of Wight can teach us a lot about the importance of sustainability and what this means from a wealth management perspective. We’re hard at work developing a suite of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments. We know that profit alone isn’t enough. People want to see much wider value too.

Let Schroders Personal Wealth support you through your financial journey We can help you realise your dreams through what we believe is one of the most valuable investments of all: a great financial plan. Our qualified financial advisers could take you from where you are now, to where you want to be.

The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and are not guaranteed. The investor might not get back their initial investment.

Talk to Schroders Personal Wealth for financial advice Simply call Mark French on 07917 030701, email on or visit our website to arrange a no obligation conversation. There are no hidden fees or charges, and you’ll only start to pay if you choose to go ahead with our recommendations from your financial plan. You can book your free initial consultation with an experienced adviser at




The Isle of Wight’s UNESCO accredited natural landscape, rich in wildlife and geological significance, is potentially a huge draw as UK holidaymakers look for relaxing escapes. Can your business grow and benefit from the opportunity offered by wildlife tourism?

WILDLIFE TOURISM IS A WINNER FOR BUSINESSES By Veronica Chrisp, Natural Links The sun rises on an Isle of Wight autumn. The bubbling calls of Curlews greet the dawn and flocks of Brent Geese fly out in meandering lines to feed along the shore, where Swallows and Martins gather before their migration south. Terns, egrets and herons feed in the coastal shallows and just offshore a pod of dolphins breaks the surface of the waves as a White-tailed Eagle soars overhead. Ancient woodlands are adorned in autumnal hues as Red Squirrels scurry through the canopy and on a nearby stream a water vole glides past an iridescent Kingfisher. Wildflowers are resplendent in late bloom and butterflies and dragonflies are still on the wing, adding colour to the dewy air. Inspirational and important in equal measure, this is a snapshot of the nature of the Isle of Wight, with each season rich in natural splendour. Apart from the obvious intrinsic value that wildlife and landscapes hold, our connection with nature is at a premium as we fully realise its importance for our own well-being and the part it plays in our lives and the benefits to communities and the business sector. Our `Biosphere’ Island gives tremendous scope and new potential for Wildlife Tourism providing incentives for businesses, communities, landowners and tourism stakeholders to conserve the wildlife species, habitats and landscapes upon which the industry depends. We can promote nature conservation by placing an increased and tangible value on the natural assets of the Isle of Wight and feed fresh impetus and funds into the local economy and help build a sustainable future for the Island. The reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to the Island is already proving to be a huge success and visitors are flocking to see these majestic birds of prey. White-tailed Eagles are at the forefront of wildlife tourism in the UK, the Isle of Mull on the west coast of Scotland benefits from £5 million wildlife tourism spend per annum, supporting up to 110 people in full time employment. Birdwatching is one of the world’s fastest growing hobbies and it is estimated that at least 3 million people in the UK regularly go birdwatching and this figure is likely to have increased substantially due to the pandemic. Nature has provided both joy and therapy during 26


these difficult times, highlighted by recent surveys revealing 9 out of 10 adults in England reporting that protection of the environment is important to them personally. Inspiring and connecting people with wildlife and the natural world is the mission statement of my new business, Natural Links, jointly founded with Dave Fairlamb. We have decades of experience working in nature conservation, wildlife attractions and wildlife tourism, both in the UK and abroad. Focusing solely on the Isle of Wight during the last 18 months, due to the limitations of the pandemic restrictions, Natural links has taken flight, running monthly nature events programmes, bespoke birdwatching sessions and leading Birdwatching Holidays based at the Garlic Farm. Working in partnership with other island businesses is a fundamental ethos of Natural Links and the lifting of restrictions will allow many projects and initiatives to be rekindled on the island, beneficial for residents, tourists, and businesses alike. Natural Links is keen for all organisations – especially those in the accommodation, tourism and leisure sectors, to understand the benefits of making a connection with nature. As Dave says, “Every season, the natural world provides a spectacle. In purely commercial terms, this means that the Island is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts all year round.” Natural Links is also looking at supporting non-tourism businesses and a newly launched Corporate Offer chimes with that desire to connect people with nature and with each other. A bespoke wildlife experience with Natural Links will focus on improving staff wellbeing and morale after a long period of isolation. It will also provide a tool for those corporates seeking to enhance their commitment to the environment and help them rebuild home-working teams. For more information on this or any other Natural Links’ experiences, please contact Veronica or Dave at: THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT


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EVENTS & TRAINING IW CHAMBER BUSINESS EXPO 2021 Wednesday 22nd September, 10am-4pm, Lakeside Park Hotel, Wootton FREE ENTRY to everyone The Island’s biggest business-to-business networking event is back! Join us for a day of high value networking opportunities with exhibiting businesses and hundreds of attendees. Make new contacts, catch up with potential clients and engage with the wider business community. It’s free to attend – join us!

Business Start Up Course

Dale Howarth’s ‘There’s always more toothpaste in the tube’ Wednesday 27 October, 5.00pm – 7.30pm Lakeside Park Hotel, Wootton Register at The seminar event starts with a reception and an hour of business networking, followed by Dale’s presentation which looks at innovation and the important part it has to play in any business. The seminar reflects on how companies have adapted to rediscover themselves in an extremely challenging and unprecedented time. The session will spark new ideas and surprise many as to the possibilities when we innovate, adapt and move away from the conventional.

Thursday 23rd September, 9.30am-4pm IW Chamber Offices, Newport £5 per person admin fee. This course is available for non-members We offer new businesses the opportunity to take their ideas from paper into practice. We offer a business seminar aimed at people who are starting a business. Get the tools you need to take your idea from the drawing board to the real world. This course is designed for those with a business idea through to those who have been in business for six months.

IW Chamber AGM Friday 8th October IW Chamber Members find out more via:

Emergency First Aid at Work Course Delivered by Good Skills Training YMCA, Winchester House, Shanklin Thursday 14th October, 9am–5pm

Fire Marshal Course Delivered by Good Skills Training YMCA, Winchester House, Shanklin Wednesday 3rd November, 9am – 12:30pm £60 + VAT per person This Fire Marshal Course, delivered by Good Skills Training is a half day course designed specifically for those who have been designated with the responsibilities of Fire Marshal or Fire Warden. The course will look at the legal responsibilities of both the company and the individual. By the end of this course learners will understand what their duties as a fire marshal are.

Business Breakfast

at Quay Arts, Newport Friday 5th November, 7.30am-9am £15 per person for IW Chamber Members and their guests Our business breakfast is back at the Island’s capital town in November with a welcome return to Quay Arts. Join us for a hot breakfast and the opportunity to network with other members.

£65 + VAT per person This one-day course is designed to give delegates the knowledge, skills and confidence to help those that have become unconscious, and those with minor injuries. The Emergency First Aid at Work Course also looks at the responsibilities of the Emergency First Aider. On successfully completing this course, attendees will be confident, safe, prompt and effective emergency first aider. You will be emailed a certificate after the course.


Book your place now! Go to or Email



Join the


Being a member of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is a great business decision! Membership starts at less than £3 a week and entitles you to a huge range of business support, exclusive events and member discounts.

IW Chamber members have access to these four essential services:

ChamberHealth & Safety ChamberHR ChamberTax ChamberLegal

These services give you unlimited access to no less than five business advice lines and a website which features over 750 free downloadable template documents. Not only that but you are protected by £1,000,000 of legal expenses insurance which includes employment cover and tax enquiry cover.

All these services are included in your membership fee.

Don’t delay…join today!




NEW IW CHAMBER MEMBERS Albury Consulting Limited

Kacey Brown Banking & Finance Lawyer 07771 886091

H.S Carpentry and Building Contractors Ltd Gemma Harper 07584 666108

Nucleus Precision Consultants Ltd Jon Surman 07948 3885572


Mark Gifford 07968 629350 

Independent Arts

Preziosa Dachshunds

Lisa Gagliani 01983 822437

Louise Rippon 07488 337550

Inspiration Fabrication

Edward O’Kane 07515 647935

Seetec Pluss

Louise McHale 07773 404374

SecQuest Information Security Ltd


Caine Morris 07580 321976

Darren Fuller 03451 931337

Michael Spoors Solicitors Michael Spoors 01983 632006 for Isle of Wight and 023 8218 0283 for Southampton

SJ Jones Photography Steve Jones 07864 625931

Want to join the Chamber? Call the team on 01983 520777 or online OCTOBER 2021



Bumper bookings offset by planning and the pingdemic: moving on from a sometimes challenging season for the Island’s economy


How this summer has flown by! It is already September and the Chamber’s focus is shifting to Expo on the 22nd. It is hard to believe that there’s not been a major networking opportunity on the Island for so long and that many businesses have not had much in the way of face-to-face engagement for 18 months.

At the time of writing the event, at the Lakeside Park Hotel in Wootton Bridge, is nearly sold out for exhibitors (but worth checking if there still a space available) so you can be sure that a wide range of Island businesses will be represented. Entry is free to all attendees and I look forward to meeting you there. It is also coming to the end of the summer holiday season and it has been a bumper one for accommodation providers. In my case, all of my holiday lets have had back to back bookings through the season, but I think now is the time to flip our focus and look at it from the visitor’s perspective. Although our regulars will have been on the Island, this is the year we have welcomed many new visitors, sampling a holiday in the UK rather than their usual trip abroad. These are the holidaymakers we needed to convert, to ensure we are full year after year and it is fair to say that fate has not been on our side.








On the positive side our attractions have been in fine form and welcoming record numbers this year. But this year’s weather has been mixed, there has been far too much intrusive infrastructure work (the lack of trains, sewer work on Ryde Esplanade, the roadworks in East Cowes and all routes to the beach in Ventnor being either one way or closed are just four examples) and operational problems for the ferry companies made timely access to and from the Island difficult at times. Another phenomenon noticable in Ventnor was just how many restaurants and pubs are not open. Reasons seemed to vary: some had decided that after being long-time closed they were selling up, others have no staff and some are temporarily closed as a result of the “pingdemic”. The result is that at the start of August many of the remaining restaurants had no tables available to book until September, and a missed opportunity for our visitors to spent their money while they were here. I’m hopeful that the new administration in County Hall have taken note of what has been happening and will plan to co-ordinate with agencies better next year, given the crucial importance of tourism to the Island’s economy. Time will tell whether people will return, but we should not assume that this year’s good numbers are a turning point. Will near guaranteed sunshine abroad mean that Brits go back to taking their summer holiday overseas? We don’t know, but I would suggest that this is no time to take the foot off marketing the Island and I suspect that Visit Isle of Wight will have its work cut out next year.








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Profile for Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

Island Business October 2021  

We look ahead to IW Chamber's Expo, plus The Price Is Wight celebrates ten years, Red Squirrel Property Shop talk about the pandemic effect...

Island Business October 2021  

We look ahead to IW Chamber's Expo, plus The Price Is Wight celebrates ten years, Red Squirrel Property Shop talk about the pandemic effect...

Profile for iwchamber

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