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TAKING OFF: EVENTS BOOM FOR VECTIS VENTURES Good to see you again! Expo 2021 special feature WightFibre’s Gigabit Island British Chambers of Commerce Nosy Marketing’s third birthday Isle of Wight Festival Gallagher

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! It’s been quite a month. Since our last edition, which featured some gentle steps towards business networking, it feels as though we’ve travelled a long way in the last few weeks. I’m writing this after the Chamber’s Business Expo, which provided a real moment for many Island businesses. In the late September sunshine more than 50 businesses met each other, engaged with hundreds of attendees and chatted about life, exchanging promotional items. I came away from Expo with a renewed sense of community, tired feet (having easily smashed my daily steps target) and also a brand new headshot (thanks to Robin Crossley!). This issue is unashamedly focusing on the messages and the photos from Expo.

Elsewhere we spotlight another recent networking event, marking the third anniversary of Nosy Marketing, a business which has grown rapidly and been helped by the Isle of Wight Lottery. For the tourism sector it’s been a year of mixed fortunes, which began with a lockdown and peaked with strong visitor numbers, benefiting from a season of holidays within the UK. In this issue we hear how the team at Robin Hill and Blackgang Chine have enjoyed a highly successful 2021. With positivity in the air, I hope you enjoy your magazine.





Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

Please recycle this magazine



10 EXPO 2021




Doing the Wight Thing | Island Food Producers at the Isle of Wight Festival


Expo 2021 | Huge Success


Interview | Vectis Ventures


Wightfibre | Speed Test


Triple Birthday Celebration for Nosy


BCC Update




Events & Training


New Members


IW Chamber President | John Allen



Progress for Branstone Business Park development Work at the former education centre at Branstone Farm, Apse Heath, is going well. The Isle of Wight Council and Island businesses have joined together, using funds from the government, the Solent LEP and private partners, to create a new £13.6 million scheme which includes affordable housing, an outdoor education area, new green space, a rural business park, and a new brewery and visitor centre. Lora Peacey Wilcox, leader of the Isle

of Wight Council, said: “The Branstone Farm development is a good example of working to support nature and sustainability. “This is an important theme to all this work, and our partners at Vectis Housing and Homes England have been very supportive in making sure this is an appropriate development in this countryside location.” Julie Jones-Evans, councillor for regeneration, said: “I was impressed

to see the foundations going in for the new business park we are building on the site of the old farm buildings. This business park will be a state-of-the-art rural business centre of around 14,000 ft², which will provide employment for local people by offering much-needed working space for new and growing Island firms. “We’re also going to house the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team here, which makes sense, given their championing of our biosphere status.”

Good Beauty Guide award for Becalmed Becalmed in Cowes has been recognised with a 5 star rating in the Good Beauty Guide, the only independent guide to quality standards in beauty in the UK, Ireland and Malta. Becalmed is the only beauty salon to be awarded recognition on the Isle of Wight. Gareth Penn, Managing Director of the Good Beauty Guide, said: “Being in the Guide means a salon is among the best in the country which undoubtedly attracts new business and makes existing clients feel good.” The Good Beauty Guide’s recognised salons are visited and objectively assessed by industry professionals, giving potential clients confidence in their choice. Salons are regularly reassessed to ensure standards are maintained. Caroline Hurley, the salon owner of BeCalmed, added: “Being a member of the Good Beauty Guide shows we are a fantastic salon in every way. It’s great not only for our clients, but for our team to know the salon has reached such high standards.”

Luxury tomato tea towel supports WightAID The Tomato Stall has partnered closely with Monique Lucas, an independent homewares brand based on the Isle of Wight, to create a luxury tomato tea towel. Showcasing a vast variety of their speciality tomatoes was at the heart of this design, although selecting the best varieties was difficult as The Tomato Stall currently trial over 200 different varieties each year in their quest to find the best tasting fruits each season. The Tomato Stall is also donating all its profits made from the sales of this tea towel for a month to WightAID. “This collaboration felt like a celebration of what Island brands can achieve when they come together,” they say. “Aimed to celebrate the wonders of the infamous fruits, it’s the perfect way to add a pop of colour to any kitchen or as a gift that says I love you from my head to-ma-toes! WightAID is an incredibly deserving charity that reaches so many people across the Island. The fact we get to support our favourite local charity in the process makes it even more special.” 2



Island business community reunited at Expo 2021 Business to business networking is firmly back on the agenda after the pandemic, kickstarted by a highly successful Expo event, organised by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce. More than 50 businesses exhibited at Expo, at the Lakeside Park Hotel in Wootton, with hundreds of visitors making the most of the late September sunshine. “This year’s Expo was definitely our biggest yet,” says IW Chamber Chief Executive Steven Holbrook. “It was a thrill to bring so many businesses back together, the vast majority of whom hadn’t attended a public event for almost 18 months. The buzz was amazing, with the joy of seeing familiar faces once again, as well as lots of new businesses and welcoming new start-ups.

“The feedback from exhibitors and attendees has been incredible and I’d like to thank everyone who came along, as well as our supporting sponsors and our overall sponsor WightFibre. We had a great day and I really feel that Expo marks a new beginning for business-to-business engagement on the Island”. See our Expo special feature beginning on page 10.

ARC and Artecology win national award for biodiversity Island businesses Arc and Artecology and their corporate partners LaSalle Investment Management have been awarded the top accolade at the construction industry thinktank CIRIA’s BIG Biodiversity Awards. The Sandown Baybased team’s influence and impact was recognised along with clients and university partners throughout the virtual ceremony with a hattrick of awards including Community Engagement and Habitat Creation, for rewilding urban retail centres and for bringing biodiversity to marine infrastructure. Dirk Vennix, Chief Executive, CIRIA said, “We were delighted to see that our independent judging panel recognised the

pioneering work undertaken by Arc Consulting and Artecology at our 7th BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards. A triple award-winning feat is also very uncommon in our awards’ history so many congratulations are truly in order. The awards also reflect the consultancies’ ground-breaking achievements which have made a huge difference on a local, national and international stage.” Nigel George, Director at Artecology said: “The core, inimitable expertise recognised by the CIRIA Awards this year demonstrates the importance of the Isle of Wight’s wildlife, arts and creative community, making it essential that we continue to support and export this impact, influence and delivery.”.

New “Amazon-style portal” for Betapak Island business supplier Betapak has invested in new technology to benefit customers and staff. Their new portal has been match funded by the Natural Enterprise – Isle of Wight Rural Fund and it marks a time of expansion for the Rookley based firm, which has recently grown from 12 to 18 staff members. “This investment has allowed the business to take its biggest leap forward to date,” explains Betapak’s managing director Jon Carter. “We’re definitely moving with the times and growing sustainably. The portal is an Amazon style system which provides access to over 100,000 products from packaging to cleaning, janitorial to coffee to furniture and more. “Businesses can order from us 24/7 and they can also access all their accounting at a time that suits. Many businesses no longer work within the traditional 9 to 5. The system also allows picking through handheld terminals, more integrated accounts systems, to improve how we work internally. We have been restricted in the past when engaging with businesses without this sort of system in place. We’re pleased that with some help we are now able to break down those barriers.” NOVEMBER 2021



IW Council paid almost £100m in COVID relief to businesses A report to the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet reveals the scale of government funding that was needed to support Isle of Wight firms through the COVID pandemic crisis. The Isle of Wight Council has paid out a total of £99,799,908 in 21,984 individual grant payments since May 2020, mainly to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. During 2020 and 2021 the government allocated money to local authorities to support business, initially paid on the basis of business rates, but later topped up with other funds that councils could distribute to other businesses that did not pay rates, such as taxi drivers, market stall holders and those in the supply chain for the tourism, hospitality and retail sector. A final grant was provided to assist businesses prepare for reopening after the last national lockdown, and applications closed in May 2021. No more money is now expected from the government. On the Isle of Wight, only about 0.25% of the total remains to be distributed, and councillors will be considering how to make best use of the funds to aid the recovery of the Island’s economy. Examples of how this could be used include activities supporting town centres including Small Business Saturday and ‘pop up’ shops in the lead up to the Christmas period; delivering training for businesses linked to COVID recovery; supporting short courses, work placements and apprenticeships particularly in the hospitality sector; and support for cultural activity. The government has said that the money from all the grants has to be used by the end of March 2022, and so councillors will decide now how the remaining funds will be allocated between now and that deadline.

Maritime UK Solent at the heart of UK’s coastal renaissance Maritime UK Solent, the regional sector-based cluster and employer representative body, has celebrated its official launch as a limited company. Anne-Marie Mountifield, MUK Solent Chair, Board Member on the National Council of Maritime UK, and Chief Executive for the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explained: “The Solent’s maritime cluster - a powerful £5.8bn economy responsible for 20% of our region’s economic output - is key to our future prosperity and to levelling up our important coastal communities. We’ve established Maritime UK Solent to promote and represent this world-class maritime cluster on an international stage to encourage investment, drive innovation, pioneer clean and green technology in the industry, and develop a talent base for future generations to thrive.” Maritime UK Solent has been operating throughout the pandemic to ensure the Solent’s array of maritime assets are harnessed and promoted, and that the area continues to be at the forefront of pioneering developments. It convenes the area’s key maritime stakeholders to champion the Solent as a leading maritime cluster and helps shape the future direction of the sector. Anne-Marie continued: “The Solent’s maritime sector is a catalyst for economic recovery, and we’ve set out a clear path in our Maritime Economic Recovery Plan which looks towards new opportunities, charting a course to success for the regional maritime sector, showcasing the Solent’s position as a global maritime hub and supporting the UK’s ambitions for global trade and green growth. “We have launched the Solent Maritime Innovation Gateway the result of a pioneering partnership with the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone and Connected Places Catapult. This will create a single point of access and an enterprise approach which promotes the unique strengths of the Solent’s maritime industries on a global stage. “We also recently convened an event with Maritime UK which brought together local MPs with key industry figures to highlight how the Solent’s maritime cluster is supporting the delivery of the Government’s Ten Point Plan for A Green Industrial Revolution and explored how politicians, research and industry can work together to share expertise and deliver ambitions to ensure the maritime sector achieves net zero.”






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Triple shortlist for Red Squirrel Property Shop Charlie Panayi and the Red Squirrel Property Shop team are celebrating a hattrick of nominations at The Negotiator Awards – the UK’s leading awards programme for estate and letting agents and the residential property industry. Red Squirrel managing director Charlie is up for the Rising Star Award, which identifies a special individual – a potential industry leader; who demonstrates enthusiasm, innovation, implementation and leadership qualities. The estate agency is also nominated for Best Estate Agency Award (single office) and Best Letting Agency Award (single office). “We still can’t believe it,” Charlie says. “We have amazingly made it into the biggest awards ceremony for our industry. This simply doesn’t happen in our area. I was the first person here to be shortlisted for the Rising Star award back in 2018, I was shortlisted again for in 2019 and I’m thrilled to nominated again this year, which as far as I am aware is a record for these awards.” The winners will be revealed at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane on the 26th November.

Former Island GP opens luxury aesthetic clinic Combining science and art to create beautiful and natural results is the passion of former Island GP Dr Hayley Elsmore, who has opened a new aesthetic clinic in Newport. Dr Hayley, who spent 16 years as a partner at two Island GP practices, runs The Courtyard Aesthetic Clinic - one of the Island’s few doctor-led medical aesthetic clinics. With an emphasis on state-of-the-art technology, bespoke treatment plans and unrivalled patient care, the luxury clinic, in The Courtyard at St Cross Business Park, will feature a long list of innovative treatments - some of which are completely new to the Island.

Dr Hayley prides herself on enhancing the natural beauty of her patients. She said: “Whether you are looking for solutions that will help soften the signs of ageing, give you back your glow, treat specific skin problems, or improve body contours by reducing areas of stubborn fat, The Courtyard is here to help you love your looks. Our new clinic combines the ultimate in luxury and comfort, whilst ensuring the highest levels of safety and hygiene, so you can feel confident you’re in the best hands. We’re so excited to welcome you.”

Tidal rebrand for Jigsaw Family Support Tidal Family Support is the new name for the Island child-focused charity formerly known as Jigsaw Family Support. The community based, not for profit charity works with families who are directly impacted by separation or divorce. “Our mission here at Tidal Family Support is to provide a safe, caring and happy environment where parents can spend time with their children and focus on their needs,” says centre manager Melanie Lewis. “As part of the rebrand, we have also completed a refurbishment of the contact rooms and as a result our services are expanding. We are diversifying to offer a collaborative co-parenting approach, with the aim of reducing the number of families using the family courts. “We recently became the Isle of Wight’s only licensed practitioners of the parenting apart programme (PAP), as well as establishing a working relationship with The Hampton Trust and partnering with Working Towards Wellbeing Family Employment Advice Service. All of the new services and partnerships we hope, will offer the centre the sustainability that is required to remain a vital service for every family.”








Island food producers shine at Isle of Wight Festival

This year’s Isle of Wight Festival once again provided an opportunity to showcase local food and drink producers. In the backstage Guest Village area of the festival site at Seaclose Park, VIPs including performers and guests were able to sample Mermaid Gin, Isle of Wight Cheese and produce from The Garlic Farm, Calbourne Classics, Richmond Bakery, Goddards Brewery and The Tomato Stall. “It’s a very casual affair,” explains Faye Mowbray, events manager at the Isle of Wight Distillery, home of Mermaid Gin. “Each year our co-founder Xavier Baker organises the Island produce area for the festival guests. With the return of the festival we were able to once again get our brands in front of celebrities and music industry VIPs.”

Island has the best coffee. The festival helps to put the Isle of Wight experience and ourselves on the map by being at these events. We met a diverse group of people and some celebrities along the way which made some great social media posts to share the story of the weekend.” Island Tea and Coffee Co. barista and part-time drummer William Vincent managed to get his photo taken with Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp and singer Fleur East. Meanwhile thousands of hungry music-fans crossing the Solent with Wightlink to the Isle of Wight Festival snapped up food and drink from local producers at its Wight Taste cafés. Staff were busy all weekend selling a wide range of products including sandwiches and pastries made at Grace’s Bakery in Ryde, Island Ales from Shalfleet, Wight Crystal water and tasty treats from The Isle of Wight Biscuit Company.

For the Mermaid Gin team, the festival crowned their busiest ever week, proving that events are definitely back. “We had five events running simultaneously,” Faye explains. “We attended the Southampton Boat Show, a trade event in London called Imbibe, a meet-the-maker gin festival in London called Junipalooza, the LeBlanq cycling tour here on the Island, as well as the festival. It’s great to be back. We’ve missed out on a personal level and also on a business level. We’re all a friendly bunch and being able to get back out to people, face to face, is a feeling like no other really. We get a lot out of those different interactions. You can’t possibly reach everybody in one event and we do have quite a wide target audience. It’s been a great way to promote our new vodka range too.” Also in attendance at the Isle of Wight Festival’s backstage area was the Island Tea and Coffee Co. whose master roaster Mike Townsend oversaw the serving of hundreds of cups of coffee. “Our baristas brewed up our Freshly Roasted coffee for the VIP guests,” Mike explains. “It was great to feature our coffee at this prestigious event and to showcase that the 8


Top left: A flat Wight please! The Island Tea & Coffee Co. backstage. Bottom left: Actually it is quite unusual: Sir Tom Jones on the midnight ferry with Wightlink crewman Rodel Mendoza. Right: Spandau Latte: William Vincent meets Martin Kemp.

“This is great news for Island companies who partner with us,” says Simon Lewis, Wightlink Head of Commercial Development. “Isle of Wight food and drink is not only delicious, it’s good value for money and supports local businesses. “What could be nicer than a bottle of Island beer, with some garlic pork scratchings, out on the sundeck?” Over the long Festival weekend, Wightlink coffee shops used 318 kilos of Island Roasted beans, enough for 23,000 cups, along with 5,532 litres of milk from Briddlesford Farm Dairy. 6,500 bottles of beer were also sold. THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT


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WightFibre’s Deon Redpath (far right) and Hayley Turner with IW Chamber CEO Steven Holbrook (centre)

Expo 2021 reunites the Island’s business community, bringing back B2B networking Expo 2021, held at the Lakeside Park Hotel on Wednesday 22nd September and organised by the IW Chamber of Commerce has been hailed as a huge success. Hundreds of attendees met more than 50 exhibiting businesses, making the most of the September sunshine and the casual, informal networking opportunities on offer at the Island’s premier B2B showcase event. “This year’s Expo was our biggest ever,” says IW Chamber Chief Executive Steven Holbrook. “The business community came out to support this event very strongly. We sold out every exhibitor stand and we had more attendees registered in advance than ever before, with many more people joining us on the day. Our footfall was steady across the morning and well into the afternoon and it was a thrill to see so many businesses reengaging, chatting, catching up and doing business again. “Feedback from our exhibitors and sponsors has been overwhelmingly positive and there’s no doubt that today was the right time to bring back Expo. It’s an event that the business community supports and it provides real value, offering a platform for high quality, informal networking, which in turn fosters relationships and an environment that allows businesses to build relationships with each other. “This year’s event was a triumph and myself and my hardworking Chamber team would like to thank all of our attendees, our exhibitors, our supporting sponsors and of course our overall sponsor WightFibre. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for making Expo a great day.” 10



Deon Redpath, WightFibre

Larry Burgess, Island Roasted

Our business is digital - it’s broadband and it’s online - but nothing beats a bit of a face-to-face conversation. Our sales team are here, on our mobile store, showcasing our ultra-fast speed and our network. We’ve been working from home throughout the pandemic and Expo is one of the first opportunities for us to bring the mobile store out. It’s a bit of a chance to show off our brand too! We’re a cool brand, we’re a new brand in terms of technology. We want the Island to be one of the best connected places in the UK and you can only get that kind of connectivity from WightFibre.

We’ve had a great day and as the official Expo tea and coffee provider we’ve seen a whole heap of people that otherwise might not know what we do or get to experience our product. They’ve now have had that opportunity, to taste the product and judge its quality, so they now know exactly what we’re all about. We’ve had some good interest and it’s great to be networking with some familiar faces and some new ones.

We’re supporting Expo as overall sponsor again because we are an Island company and our ethos is “because we care”. We want to make a difference and therefore we want the community to support us. We like to support the community where we can and when we can.

Without the business community we don’t have customers. This event really brings everyone together and it’s pretty unique for the Island. We generally have a lot of people who come to us with inquiries on an individual basis but having everyone in one place means that we can actually speak to a whole range of people that we otherwise wouldn’t see.

Robin Crossley, Photographer I really enjoyed it. It’s my second Expo and for me as a new business it’s about talking to people and getting my brand out there. The response has been incredible and LinkedIn was full with headshots that I took on the day from very happy clients with lovely supportive messages. The kind comments and messages I have received just show the impact Expo has had on my business. I have already taken on a booking and a few leads on potential new clients and it’s not even been a week since the show. There aren’t many opportunities like this. Expo is a great event. It’s been really busy and great for my business.

Robin Crossley NOVEMBER 2021

Island Roasted’s Larry and Stef Burgess FEATURE


Talking business: Jonathan Thornton (left) with NFU Mutual’s John Heather

Jonathan Thornton, PC Consultants It’s important to make sure you’re still seen in front of the business community. We’ve built up our business and brand - we’re coming up to our 25th anniversary in the not too distant future – and we’ve always seen the value of being active in the business community. We’ve been at Expo since its inception

really and each year we’ve tried to do different things. It’s important to give back, to support the Chamber but also to showcase what we do as a business. Expo is a really useful way to connect directly with businesses, to build those face-to-face relationships, engaging with existing and new customers. We’ve definitely taken away direct leads. There’s

a real buzz. Covid has had an impact on a lot of us but it’s great to see businesses coming through on the other side. The way the Expo is put together really shows the professionalism of the team behind it. It’s a well run event and we’ve been really lucky to have amazing weather and that’s created an excellent Expo 2021.

Chris Brammall, Isle of Wight Council The Isle of Wight Council’s Regeneration department took the opportunity to showcase a range of exciting projects which will be of interest and benefit for Island companies. These included Innovation Wight – the creation of a high quality co-working space and business incubator in Northwood with a comprehensive suite of business support activities, Branstone Farm – a superb mixed development to benefit the rural economy, Wight Gift Card – an innovative way to boost sales and encourage local goods and LoCase – a wide ranging programme of support in making your business more Carbon neutral. Once again, Expo delivered. We were able to engage with a wide range of Island businesses – both exhibitors and visitors. We were able to generate great interest in the various projects and we will be busy in the following weeks following up the quality leads the show produced.

Chris Brammall (right) chats with the Solent LEP team

Pete Robins, All Things Printed We had an amazing time. It was an invaluable and thoroughly enjoyable experience. The Expo gave us the chance to have a day standing amongst old friends / clients with the potential of meeting hundreds of new clients all under one roof and without making a single cold call. How often are you able to do that? We were able to talk about what we do and how we can help others looking for services like ours whether printed matter, clothing or merchandise. We have already gained new clients from the day who I am hoping will become long term members of the All Things Printed Ltd family. Thank you to all my team, and everyone involved from the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce for working tirelessly to make sure the event went as well as it did. See you all at the 2022 Expo!

Mark Reed, Lawdit Solicitors

Mark Reed (left) and the Lawdit team 12


It’s our first time exhibiting at Expo. We jumped at the chance and are so grateful we did. Some of the Southampton team are here today but I’m born on the Island and I’m based here, so for me in particular it’s a chance to get that local message across. I’ve met at least 50 different businesses that I know that I will now be able to go and speak to and say ‘hi how are you doing?’. There might be a service that we can provide or vice versa. It was very affordable to be able to exhibit here and it’s great that it’s more island-oriented. That sounds a silly thing to say but now I think it’s crucial. There are companies on the island that do work overseas, internationally, but that’s not the promotion that’s coming out today. It’s more about Island businesses who can trade with each other. THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Emma Wilson, WRS Systems

WRS Systems

We’ve been talking to Island businesses about EPOS systems for hospitality and retail. Over the last year we’ve been very reactive to the situation and our EPOS systems have allowed our customers to stay open and continue trading. Tablets, queue busters, not been being able to serve people outdoors and all those little things unfortunately weren’t on people’s radars 18 months ago. There is business here for us. We spoke to some really good potential people with corporate companies of their own, so all in all it’s been very successful. We’ve had an absolute hoot, just chatting to people and having a bit of face-to-face normality again.

Poppy Osman, Isle of Wight Distillery

Paul Thorley, Vehicle Consulting Solent

We’ve spoken to a lot of gin lovers! We’ve done some B2B and B2C today – a mix of consumers and also those that want to stock Mermaid Gin in their pubs and shops. The business community is quite discerning about what it drinks so it’s a great crowd here today! Our brand is very popular on the Island and we’re so thankful for the support. We wouldn’t be here without our customers. Not everyone knows our story though so it’s great to tell people where we came from. It’s also a chance to get across new product lines including our Mermaid Vodka and also our new Mermaid Tonic cans as well.

The value in today was meeting lots of people who didn’t know we existed. The electric vehicle rollout is happening slowly and we’re happy to be part of it. One day those customers could potentially become electric vehicle purchases and hopefully we can help them. Events like this generate awareness about who we are, what we do and why we do it, rather than trying to direct sell to people. It’s great that you can talk to somebody informally and they’re in control of the conversation rather than you.

Andrew Nordbruch, Wight Computers Expo is the one big event we do as a business outside of the day job. It’s important for us to be seen, to catch up with existing customers and generate new leads. For many of our customers, whilst we’ve spoken to them regularly, it was the first time they had seen us in person for over a year! We again supplied the Chamber with our bespoke check-in system which allowed pre-registered attendees to quickly print out their name badge, contact-free!

Isle of Wight Distillery

Vehicle Consulting

People have this perception of electric cars being scary but they’re not. It’s just a car with a different fuel source. It’s new to people and the customer journey starts with a conversation. People don’t just turn up and say “I’d like to buy that please.” We are consultants so we try and find out exactly what everybody’s individual needs and wants are and help them along that way.

Matt Rice, Fortis Energy Wight Computers

It’s been a great day today. People are keen to get back to normal and I think people are therefore not taking it for granted. We all appreciate what we’re able to access today on the Island. It’s great to be part of something bigger, an event larger than ourselves. For us, being part of the Chamber and an Expo sponsor means we reach a good number of businesses. Have we done business here today? Definitely.

Matt Rice chats to David Thornton NOVEMBER 2021



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Mike Townsend, Isle of Wight Tea and Coffee Co. The business community is hugely important to our brand. Businesses lead us to retail, and also to people’s homes. Business people who are working from home now are looking at their coffee setups and looking for great coffee while they work. They’re thinking about machines, the kind of coffee they want for their clients and staff as well. Today gives us a great opportunity to showcase our machines and our beans.

Karen Quickenden, Meridian 3

Mark Henry, Island FX

We’ve been Expo regulars for some time, although this is our first time as Meridian 3 and it’s a great platform to engage as a new business. We’ve been fortunate enough to have customers right off the bat but it’s still nice to make those new contacts and we’ve got lots of appointments in the next few weeks. Today we’ve been talking about our personalised jigsaw puzzles, which will be available to order online. We’ve had so much interest it was unbelievable.

As a business we’re quite new to the Island. We’ve been in foreign exchange for 25 years but we launched on the Island in the last three years. We’re building our contacts and a Zoom meeting is no substitute for actually seeing people in person, spending time with them, explaining what you do. That’s when you get a real feel for if you can work with somebody and how perhaps you might be able to help them. As a small independent business our Achilles heel is finding new clients. We don’t heavily advertise and our business comes from word of mouth. What we do is personal, it’s financial and we need to do a good job for somebody and we hope in turn they might mention us to somebody else. It’s a domino effect. We’ve met new businesses today and Expo is about working together to spread the word collectively across the Island.

Sandra Knowles, Hillbans Pest Control It’s been really uplifting. I’ve literally spoken to hundreds of people. It went so fast! For me it’s all about exposure, reminding people we’re still here, still offering our great service. During lockdown a lot of people were working from home so they discovered pest problems and issues that they didn’t know existed within their homes. We’re now selling contracts to customers at home as well as businesses, so we’re evolving into maintaining people’s homes now more than just a one-off call-out.

Carol Dennett, Isle of Wight Observer I think people are really just genuinely pleased to get back to having some sort of normal life. We all know there’s still the threat of Covid but people are just glad to be able to meet their customers, see their suppliers and even talk to their competitors. I’ve been talking to the guys from the County Press and Island Echo popped across earlier, so it’s been really nice. The Island’s too small to compete in the way that some mainland companies compete. We’ve had a busy day, with lots of people coming to talk to us and it’s been fun.

Above: Mike Townsend, Isle of Wight Tea and Coffee Co. Below: Sharon, Kathryn and Emma from IW Chamber

Matt Greg, Nosy Marketing We’ve shifted our focus more towards trying to secure recurring clients. That’s all about relationships so an event like Expo where you can really form relationships with people is absolutely amazing for us. I’d probably say that 90% of the new business that we carry is through word of mouth and networking so without events like this it will be impossible for our business to grow. NOVEMBER 2021



Above Right: Pete Robins, All Things Printed. Below Left: Alison Colley, Real Employment Law Advice. Below Right: Matt Jeffery, Brightbulb Design.

Tracey Hill, Osel Enterprises Expo matters because we can remind people that we’re still here and we still put money back into the local community. Covid was a struggle for any health and social care service but we survived and we’re still moving forward which is fab. It’s great to be seeing people again, having a chat and updating them on what we’re doing. We’re building relationships and giving people what they want in a quick and positive way.

Matt Jeffery, Brightbulb Design We’ve been presenting our virtual reality experience today. It’s basically our office in virtual reality, showing off some of our 3D skills as well as our web and app development skills, so it’s been a great day. The Island is always our home. It’s a massive hub for us. We do work on the mainland of course but so many of our clients are here on the Island and many are here at Expo. We always try and do something different for Expo. We’ve had a fibre glass cow, a giant phone and this year the virtual reality experience was the next level for us, showing off some of our skills and the talented people we have here on the Island.

Alan Marriott, Isle of Wight County Press It’s great to reconnect with all the businesses on the Island that we’ve missed seeing over the last couple of years and lovely to see so many familiar faces here. We all know each other as friends and business colleagues and seeing everyone back together is wonderful. We can offer businesses a huge range of digital and multimedia packages that can help them get to all the customers they need to reach. Editorially we’re still producing fantastic newspapers and fantastic online coverage that will help their advertising get to a great audience.

Joe Newnham, Diametric Technical Ltd We’ve done lots of expos over the years in London and at the NEC. This one’s probably been more productive in terms of actually getting to meet B2B which has been great. It’s obviously smaller but the value is different. For us the IW Chamber has always been about raising awareness rather than winning business directly. We want to be part of the business community here, to support others but also to get support when we need it. It’s not just about selling it’s also about being able to attract the right level of candidate when you’re recruiting. It’s about having a relationship with other businesses rather than it being a transaction all the time. We’ve also got some business leads that I wasn’t expecting, as well as an even bigger sense of the business community than we had before. 16








Vectis Ventures’ James Crofts talks to Tom Stroud


Numbers wise, how does 2021 compare to 2019? It’s been phenomenal. Looking at year-to-date totals for visitor numbers and turnover in our business, we’re exceeding our figures for 2019. That’s without the early part of 2021, when we couldn’t open, and where we normally have key events in February and Easter. Having lost those key periods we’ve managed to claw back. Our team did a fantastic job, given the amount of people we’ve had visiting the parks. I know for lots of businesses recruitment was really difficult, certainly in hospitality, but we were fortunate enough to maintain the quality of our offering throughout the season. We didn’t have to close at all due to staffing constraints.

The Island has enjoyed a busy tourist season this year. How did the summer months shape up for you? We’ve had a very productive time since we’ve been able to open this year. That’s partly because of the pent-up demand for domestic travel and the restrictions around going abroad. I think we benefited from the profile that the Isle of Wight has gleaned through the whole pandemic, from trialing the NHS app, to the “We’re Good to Go” kite mark idea, that we’re ready to safely accept visitors. It all really helped push the Island as a destination. From our own surveys we’ve seen a lot of first-time visitors to our parks so I think it was a really good time for us as an island to be able to showcase what we can do. It would be great to start a trend for people coming back here and rekindling their love for the Island.

We were optimistic that there would be strong demand this year and largely speaking we are consistent with the levels of trade that other people are reporting, certainly from the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piersand Attractions, members say they’ve had a good year. On the Isle of Wight I think the sector has probably done as well as anywhere else, if not better. I hope tourism businesses have done well because I’m sure everybody needs the visitors just like we do. We’re pretty happy with performance in general but that’s always now tempered by caution that this might be a blip. I know travel restrictions are being lifted quite readily now, so people will have an eye on going further afield, but I still think there will be a lot of UK based family holidays next year. I do think 2022 is going to be reasonably buoyant.

In a year when lots of events were rested until 2022, you bucked the trend and launched The Woodland Sessions, bringing live music and comedy to Robin Hill. Was that brave? We’d dabbled with hosting talent at Robin Hill in the past with Eklectica in 2017 and 2018, although that scale of event maybe didn’t suit us quite so much. We wanted to target different high quality entertainment propositions which deviate a little away from our traditional audience, introducing something cool and fun into the park for our mainstream guests and also reaching different demographics. When we launched Woodland Sessions the rules were changing, so it was a bit of a risk, but there was a demand for things to go ahead. There was a massive vacuum of live events going on and we turned those events around quickly, going to market within about six weeks. They were really successful and will pave the way for similar shows next year, probably in high frequency as well. We’ve got a lot of space at Robin Hill and as we develop areas of the park then we can curate particular types of entertainment. The feedback was really positive. Probably my favourite events this year were the summer parties at Blackgang Chine. We put significant investment into the park pre-opening, and then the




Summer Fest offering with the foam cannons, live music and the fireworks was just brilliant. The feedback was phenomenal from guests. I think people really needed it and wanted to cut loose and have fun again.

What did you learn from the pandemic? Communication really is key. In turbulent times, work brings people gratification, a purpose and kind of a community feeling within teams. It’s important to cultivate and keep that going at all times because work is like a support network. We put in lots of things to help with well-being throughout the pandemic, working hard to look after everyone and keep them engaged. I’ve also learned to be confident about what you can achieve with the right people, the right attitude and working with the right types of people in our industry. Our events this year were all sanctioned by the Safety Advisory Group, Licensing and Environmental Health. Having good relationships with people like that means that you’re able to achieve a lot more than just doing it on your own. It’s all about working together. Be prepared for the worst too. We had strong contingency plans but we now have a much better understanding of how we can continue to operate when things don’t go as well as you hoped.

What are you looking forward to in 2022? Being able to plan again! We’ll get back to working 12 months ahead of ourselves, with some certainty about where we’re going. We can get back to enhancing the park and bringing new experiences to guests. Maybe less remote working and a bit more contact with people. I’m looking forward to having a full season too, and actually being able to deliver that Chinese New Year event that we love in February and opening at Easter for a change. We’ve got some great projects in the pipeline and it’s going to be pretty exciting to be able to deliver them.






LOCKDOWNS, THE PANDEMIC AND WIGHTFIBRE’S GIGABIT ISLAND “More than 37,000 homes and businesses will be able to receive WightFibre broadband by the end of the year and we’ll have reached 80% of the Island by the end of 2022. The pace of our rollout has really picked up again.”

WightFibre’s CEO John Irvine talks to Tom Stroud In 2017 WightFibre announced ambitious plans to roll-out a full-fibre, future proof, ultrafast broadband network across the Isle of Wight. Although WightFibre had consistently outlined the importance of high quality, reliable broadband for business and the home, the lockdowns exposed the weaknesses of the old copper-to-the-home network. With working from home putting additional pressure on domestic broadband, WightFibre was at the centre of a perfect storm, with high levels of new demand for their superior service. The restrictions of lockdown didn’t always make it easy to deliver. So how has the business adapted to the new landscape? And how has the Gigabit Island project been affected by lockdown?

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, how does WightFibre look as a business? The business is going from strength to strength. The pandemic was a very busy time for us because it brought to the forefront the consumer need for really good broadband. Our sales were high and ahead of expectation, which took us by surprise at first. Our sales have been maintained and sustained since the start of the pandemic.

How did Covid 19 and the lockdowns impact on the business, internally as well as externally? What did you learn from the pandemic? We were busier than we expected to be, which is a double-edged sword. We have had challenges with the global chip shortage. We’re only getting delivery now of routers that we ordered in August 2020. The routers that we’ve just ordered won’t arrive until July 2022. Those are really long lead times. The business continued throughout the pandemic and we didn’t furlough anyone. We are a technology company, which is an advantage, and we had been a Microsoft Teams and Office365 user since 2018 so when the pandemic came along we had enough notice to be able to conduct some trials. We had a couple of days where the whole business worked from home to iron out any problems, which meant that when the first lockdown was enforced, we were up and running. Our productivity was improved and it proved that we can successfully work from home. Our “new normal” working policy for now is two days in the office and three days from home for all of our 100 or so employees, except for those for whom homeworking isn’t ideal. To be honest, work-life balance on the Island, with naturally short commutes, is much easier to achieve than on the mainland but I think the pandemic has allowed us to take that to another level. Our ‘new build’ team were designated as key workers so they carried on working, rolling out the network, right through the very first lockdown. It did create challenges for our installation engineers, who go into people’s homes to install broadband or help customers with issues, such as improving their wi-fi coverage. Human nature dictates that you want to be cautious and you don’t want to take risks. We had to balance that with customers who needed broadband. Most of the NHS administrators on the Island and most of the support staff from IW Council were working from home, so there were huge demands that we were obliged to support.

How is the roll out progressing across the Island? Will you meet your original timeframe for the Gigabit Island project? Our rollout hasn’t proceeded anywhere as fast as we would have liked. You would have thought that the pandemic, with reduced traffic levels, would have allowed us to go faster. Unfortunately the processes that we have to follow with Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council were really quite inflexible and we weren’t




able to go ahead. In fact, with everyone staycationing, traffic levels on the Island for the last couple of summers have been incredibly high. From last summer through to this spring the speed has picked up again and we’re going hammer and tongs again as we speak. We’ve got about 30 construction crews literally everywhere on the Island, finishing off Ryde. Sandown and Shanklin should also be done by the end of the year. We are already in Seaview, St Helens and Ventnor with work starting in Yarmouth and Freshwater before the end of the year. We recently laid new ducting underneath the River Yar as part of getting our fibre from Yarmouth to Freshwater. Right now 30,000 homes on the Isle of Wight can receive WightFibre broadband. We’ll be up to 37,000 by December, and by the same time next year it will be nearly 60,000 homes, that’s 80 percent of the Island. The pace of our rollout has really picked up again. There’s then a long tail to get to the remaining 20 percent. I do think we are two years away from our project being largely complete and that will be about a year and a half from when we originally said we’d be done. The pandemic has had an impact in that sense.

Are you positive about the future? Are you optimistic that things are starting to get better? I’m confident that WightFibre is a good business. The pandemic has, I’m sad to say, been good for us. I appreciate that for many other businesses it hasn’t been. I don’t think for one minute that the pandemic has run its course yet and our working patterns are going to be changed for the foreseeable future. We’ve always been cautious and I’m still concerned that a new variant doesn’t arrive which impacts on our sense of security again. As we head into winter I think we’ll remain cautious.




TRIPLE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR NOSY Matt Greg founded Nosy Design in September 2018. Three years later, Matt is the CEO of Nosy Marketing, a business that employs 15 staff. Based on Daish Way in Newport, the agency works with clients around the world. On September 3rd the team welcomed more than a hundred guests to Quay Arts in Newport to celebrate Nosy’s third birthday. “We can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has supported our business,” Matt says. “We wouldn’t be here without your support. Our party featured amazing IOW-themed grazing platters from Eat Street IOW, a pop-up scare room from Terror Island, VR games from Heroes, a NOSY showcase room, and a lot of gin. The ‘NOSY 3 Year Journey’ film brought tears to our eyes.”

Above: Matt Greg




IW LOTTERY HELPS NOSY TO GROW Nosy’s rapid three year growth has been supported by the Isle of Wight Lottery. In 2019 Nosy Design took out two loans of £5,000 which enabled Matt to expand his business. The second loan, at the end of 2019, became the Isle of Wight Lottery’s landmark hundredth interest-free business loan. “Our first loan helped us to get a lot of equipment which allowed us to recruit three more members of staff,” Matt says. “Our second loan helped our expansion to larger premises and support our new office decorations and equipment whilst we invested in new staff. If you’ve got a great idea and you want to expand your business then the Isle of Wight Lottery is the place to go.” To find out more about interest free business loans, go to Nosy’s Matt and Alex with IW Chamber’s Emma Spinelli




BCC UPDATE ‘A thimble of water to put out a bonfire’ -

bcc on temporary visas for drivers and food workers

The President of the British Chambers of Commerce has criticised the government’s response to the labour shortages affecting supply chains and sectors like haulage, hospitality and construction. Responding to temporary visa proposals for drivers and food workers, BCC President, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE said: “Government has made clear its priority is to transition from a reliance on EU workers to a focus on the domestic workforce, and businesses have been ready to participate in this, but it is a long-term project. “A managed transition, with a plan agreed between government and business, should have been in place from the outset. Instead, the supply of EU labour was turned off with

no clear roadmap as to how this transition would be managed without disruption to services and supply chains. “Now some action has been taken, but additional testing will take time and the low number of visas offered is insufficient. Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum amount of people allowed under the scheme, it will not be enough to address the scale of the problem that has now developed in our supply chains. This announcement is the equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire. “Government should be prepared to significantly expand the number of visas issued within this scheme and convene a summit that brings business and government together to find both immediate and longer-term solutions to the many challenges facing firms throughout the UK. “Without further action, we now face the very real prospect of serious damage to our economic recovery, stifled growth as well as another less than happy Christmas for many businesses and their customers across the country.” Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Chambers of Commerce have been warning Government about critical labour shortages for months now – not just in the food and haulage industries but in hospitality, construction, the care sector and elsewhere in the economy. Whilst businesses will welcome that government is finally taking action, this scheme does not go far enough. “BCC data has shown that 76% of hospitality businesses, and 82% of construction firms have faced recruitment difficulties in recent months. At the same time, we found 3 out of 4 exporters reporting no growth in sales in Q2.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, BCC President




“Businesses are facing the most difficult environment for a generation. On top of labour shortages - border delays, increased debt and the rising cost of materials, shipping and energy are all putting huge pressure on firms struggling to recover from the pandemic. All of these issues are hitting smaller firms the hardest. “Attempts to address the deficit of HGV drivers and poultry workers is a step forward, but these industries are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the huge impact of the current labour shortages. Without a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue across the board we are facing a winter of lost opportunities for our businesses, hampering the UK’s economic recovery.”

BCC says new EU Export Support Service must add value British businesses exporting to Europe can now access oneto-one advice via a new phone and online service. Following extensive engagement with businesses, the Department for International Trade (DIT) is making it easier for exporters and those considering exporting to access the information they need to export to the rest of Europe. From queries around rules of origin, to guidance on recognising professional qualifications and entering new markets, the Export Support Service will provide a single point of contact. It will help exporters navigate a range of complex information simply and quickly. Responding to the launch of the new service, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: “Business has been

pointing out the daily difficulties firms, large and small, have had with the new trading terms for EU exports since they started on 1 January. “Many have found themselves wrestling with issues around VAT, export health certificates, and origin certification for the first time. The Chambers Network and ChamberCustoms were ready on day one for this challenge and have continued to share their practical experience and knowledge of how to best facilitate trade and market access for our members. “Every day we are working to make this happen in a way noone else does. Our expertise allows us to offer advice, training, brokerage and documentation services for trade with both the EU and wider international market. We are keen to work in partnership with Government to enhance this capacity to lift export-led growth for companies the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, using our Global Business Network to extend their reach. “We look forward to working with the Europe Export Support Service and hope it will prove complementary to the unrivalled support the Chamber Network provides to exporting UK companies. Unfortunately, many firms have given up exporting to EU customers since January, while others have found the new barriers to trade in goods and services a massive financial and logistical burden. “The essential test for this new service will be to turn that around and do it quickly, by adding value to the work of Chambers and not to further confuse UK companies. Rebuilding the economy after the pandemic requires turbocharged export-led growth - especially with our largest trading partner - the EU.”

The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is a leading player in the British Chambers of Commerce Accredited Chamber Network, and provides an independent powerful voice for the views and concerns of its members at local, regional, national and international levels. IWChamber represents your views and is the voice of the Island’s business community. Being a Chamber member means you’re well connected and your business voice is heard.




FINANCE Why trade credit insurance provides certainty in uncertain economic times By Karen Humphries, head of insurance broker Gallagher’s Newport office Most businesses protect tangible assets like buildings and equipment, however, the impact of payment default by one or more key customers can be just as significant. Amid the economic uncertainty sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time for Isle of Wight businesses of all sizes to purchase trade credit insurance, to enable them to trade with confidence. 2021 has been another challenging year for thousands of businesses on the island, amid unprecedented economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. With trade having been impacted during various lockdowns, many businesses may now be financially weaker and have less cash to withstand the impact of an unpaid debt on their balance sheet. The various Government loan schemes have in some cases only served to keep businesses afloat that otherwise may have failed and there is growing concern that this has created a population of ‘zombie’ businesses – which continue to operate, but have substantial debts that leave them unable to expand or grow – and which may not be viable in the long run. With all of the difficulties and uncertainty faced by businesses of all size during the pandemic, a bad debt could be an additional financial burden that some companies will struggle to recover from. Regardless of whether a business is in a strong financial position, it may not be immune to the impact of one of their 26


customers failing to pay them and the “domino” knock- on effect that it could have on their ability to pay suppliers. That is why, amid an unstable economy, trade credit insurance has never been more relevant for businesses on the island of all sizes –- providing them with protection in the event that their customers are unable to pay for the products or services they’ve ordered, or pay later than the payment terms dictate. With trade credit insurance, businesses are provided with reassurance about extending credit to current customers or pursuing new customers that would have otherwise seemed too risky, knowing that invoices will be paid. While protection against non-payment is often perceived as the main reason to purchase trade credit insurance, it can also act as an enabler, allowing businesses to take calculated risks to help them grow. One advantage is assisting growth by supporting international trade, which has become more risky post-Brexit. As international trade involves buying and selling across oceans, borders, legal systems and regions with very different business cultures and environments, having trade credit insurance in place provides companies with peace of mind that they have protection in place in unfamiliar countries where there may be different risks and factors to consider. Having trade credit insurance in place can also help businesses obtain better finance terms. Banks look favourably on businesses that have the added protection of trade credit insurance, or actually require it in order to qualify for an asset-based loan, and borrowing costs are also often lower. Additionally, a trade credit insurance policy allows businesses to free up capital that would have originally been set aside as bad-debt reserves in case a customer failed to pay – meaning more liquid cash flow is available to invest in other business initiatives, such as new products. There are a wide range of products and solutions to suit most requirements – with businesses having the option of buying trade credit insurance to cover all their customers defaulting, or for individual client accounts or projects. Engaging the support of a specialist insurance broker helps businesses obtain comprehensive cover at a suitable premium, with brokers taking the time to understand their client’s business, and planning, negotiating and implementing a tailored, policy which can take care of their interests and support their growth plans. THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT


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EVENTS & TRAINING Business Start Up Course Thursday 28th October, 9.30am-12.30pm. Online £5 per person admin fee. This course is available for nonmembers. 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.

Tea & Toast Networking at Caffe Isola, Newport Tuesday 2nd November, 7.30am-9am FREE for IW Chamber Members Meet members for informal networking in a great location. It’s free for IW Chamber Members to attend, with hot drinks and toast for everyone.

Fire Marshal Course. Delivered by Good Skills Training Wednesday 3rd November, 9am–12:30pm YMCA, Winchester House, Shanklin £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. Join us for a delicious hot breakfast and the opportunity to network with other members.


Evening Networking at Caffe Isola, Newport Thursday 11th November, 6.30pm-9pm £15 per person for IW Chamber Members and their guests. Join us for a fabulous evening of networking, coffee, food and drink at award winning Caffe Isola in Newport.

Networking South East Wednesday 24th November 10.30am – 12.00pm. Online. Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, and Isle of Wight Chambers of Commerce are delighted to present our second Networking South East virtual networking session, connecting the businesses of the southern Counties. We understand the importance of networking and promoting your business far and wide and we aim to offer you the opportunity to network virtually on a large scale by connecting with our neighbouring Chambers to present this event with an abundance of business and networking opportunities to be made.

QNUK Level 2 Mental Health at Work Course delivered by Good Skill Training Wednesday 8th December, 9am–5pm YMCA, Winchester House, Shanklin £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. You will be emailed a certificate after the course.

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We need higher wages but “building back better” must match productivity


Summer is over and the Island thrived. We were at capacity with visitors and overall, despite the pressure caused by the shortage of hospitality staff, most seem to have had an enjoyable time. At my own self-catering accommodation, I already have the best forward bookings for 2022 that I have ever had, and quite a few of my bookings are from people who stayed with me for the first time this year.

Alongside the success for the tourism industry it was good to see so many businesses and exhibitors at Expo, and talking to them I felt a great deal of optimism for the future. Looming over this however are the stresses and strains of opening up the economy after such a long partial closure, to which the Island is not immune, and it looks like these effects are going to persist for some time. I’ve discussed the shortage of skilled labour before and this is really starting to show in supply chain problems. In the last month our government have post rationalised these issues as issues to be expected as we move to a higher wage economy. For some years we have had a problem with wages in this country, so I’m not going to say that people shouldn’t be better paid. We have a structural problem if someone who works hard in a full time job has to be propped up by benefits in order for their family to survive. It has felt for some time as if we need get back to the position where the vast majority of people have the dignity of being able to pay their way. It can’t be said that the government’s solution has been welcomed by business leaders. Pushing up wages up in an asymmetric way in response to shortages is fraught with danger. For the stability of the economy, productivity needs to rise as wages increase. The UK is behind countries like the US, Germany or France in productivity so there is scope to improve, however trying to do this quickly is a big ask. If business is not successful in raising productivity fast enough the risk is a 1970’s style wage/price spiral with its associated inflation and higher interest rates. If interest rates increase by much, businesses, individuals and the government will have big problems, with current borrowing already high as a result of the pandemic. There’s no denying that as a long term policy the government is saying the right things - the British Chamber of Commerce has been advocating a “Build Back Better” policy for some time and here on the Island our MP and the Chamber have been calling for a higher wage higher skilled economy. Worries are about the implementation and timing. Regrettably I have to agree with the British Chamber of Commerce’s President, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, who described the granting of short-term visas for EU HGV drivers as like ‘a thimble of water to put out a bonfire’. Let’s hope some do come here, rather than filling the vacancies in their home countries.




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