inbusiness Northamptonshire June July 2021

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inbusiness @NorthantsCoC





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CONTENTS inbusiness





The Qube delivers tiny homes


Double celebration for Scott Bader


Approval for new playground


University supports community in a crisis


Entries open for the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards 2021


Law firm adapts to changing times


Chamber charity in appeal for assistance


Experts join forces to boost workforce


High ranking for Howes Percival


Further growth for virtual assistants


German distribution centre for Dachser


CREATIVE INDUSTRIES Video work in high demand


TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION New fogging service offers protection


EDUCATION & TRAINING Educating about the dangers of asbestos



Wilson Browne Solicitors


The latest comprehensive list of Chamber training courses and events





Distinction for student


China specialist sets up UK offices


Member Profile: Kerry Bate, Polka Dot Events Management Ltd


Next Generation, plus member benefits


The Chamber welcomes new members

The August/September 2021 issue of inbusiness will include features on: Health & Safety; Accountancy Services and Manufacturing The deadline for editorial submissions is: 16 June

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T: 01604 490490 NORTHAMPTONSHIRE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Waterside House, 8 Waterside Way, Northampton NN4 7XD Editorial process managed by Ballyhoo PR EDITOR: Catherine Bontoft EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Katie Macdonald NEWS AND ARTICLES SHOULD BE SENT TO:

PUBLISHED BY: Kemps Publishing Ltd Unit 8, The Courtyard, 707 Warwick Road, Solihull B91 3DA T: 0121 765 4144 W: MANAGING EDITOR: Laura Blake DESIGNER: Lloyd Hollingworth ADVERTISING T: 0121 765 4144 E: PRINTERS: Stephens & George Print Group FRONT COVER: Wilson Browne Solicitors See pages 30-31 COVER PHOTO: Gavin Wallace Photography ABOUT THIS MAGAZINE: inbusiness is a bi-monthly publication and digital magazine distributed to 6,000 Chamber members and key businesses in Northamptonshire. The publication focuses on news and information about local companies and the initiatives and advice available to increase the prosperity of county firms. Northamptonshire Chamber welcomes newsworthy articles of business interest, giving preference to Chamber members. As editorial space is limited, inclusion cannot be guaranteed and the editor may amend or reject articles submitted.


THE IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS RESILIENCE Since I joined Northamptonshire Chamber as interim CEO last year I’ve been hugely impressed by the dynamic business community that we represent. I can honestly say it has been a fantastic and enjoyable experience being here and the team has helped to deliver positive and robust results. I’ve been thrilled to see the growth of our online networking events, the popularity of our International Trade Webinars and the development of our new membership packages and our exciting Women With Vision network. I have been truly honoured to help steer Northamptonshire Chamber, its sister Chamber in Milton Keynes and Next Generation Chamber during these unprecedented times in our economic and business landscape. As a result, it is with great pride that I can confirm that from July I will take up the position ‘I’M EXCITED ABOUT THE of chief executive of these three marvellous POTENTIAL THESE Chambers on a permanent basis. CHAMBERS HOLD AND I’m excited about the potential these Chambers hold and the role I can play in creating a THE ROLE I CAN PLAY sustainable future for our member organisations IN CREATING A and the wider business community. SUSTAINABLE FUTURE There are lots of exciting things coming up for FOR OUR MEMBER our area – not least the announcement from the ORGANISATIONS’ Government that Northampton will receive £25m from its Towns Fund to kickstart a raft of development projects across the town. This money will breathe life into a range of very exciting projects, including some heavy investment into our blossoming Cultural Quarter, and will be the catalyst for a huge amount of private sector investment in the town. I am sure we have all learned lessons during this pandemic about the importance of resilience, cash flow, business diversification, and connectivity within our own support networks. Let us hope these lessons will help us to reboot our local economy as things begin to open back up. Best wishes, Louise Wall Interim CEO, Northamptonshire Chamber You can also follow our International Trade Team on Twitter: @NhntChambExport For further information on Northamptonshire Chamber call 01604 490490 or visit inbusiness is produced on behalf of Northamptonshire Chamber by Kemps Publishing Ltd and is distributed without charge to all Chamber members and other leading businesses in Northamptonshire. The Chamber and the publisher are committed to achieving the highest quality standards. However, views expressed in the magazine are independent and while every care has been taken to ensure that the information it contains is accurate, neither Northamptonshire Chamber nor the publisher can accept any responsibility for any omission or inaccuracies that might arise. PRIVACY NOTICE: Kemps Publishing Ltd process personal information for certain legitimate interest purposes, which includes the following: • To provide postal copies of this publication to Chamber members and Kemps' customers; and • To offer marketing and promotional opportunities within this publication to Chamber members and prospects. Whenever we process data for these purposes, we always ensure we treat your Personal Data rights in high regard. If you wish to, you can visit to view our full Privacy Notice and to learn more about our legitimate interests and your rights in this regard.

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NORTHAMPTONSHIRE CHAMBER keeps its members up to date with all the latest business news. Whether it’s through the pages of this magazine, via our website or by regular email updates, we will always endeavour to keep you in the picture and informed

THE QUBE DELIVERS TINY HOMES A local firm which is well known for providing bespoke modular building solutions to the education sector is now bringing the Tiny Home movement to the UK. The Qube, based in Northampton, has teamed up with Australia’s leading tiny home builder, Designer Eco Tiny Homes, and has begun designing and building tiny homes for delivery across the UK and Ireland. The firm has launched a new website to showcase its range of tiny home models and is moving to a new facility in Northampton where the public will soon be able to see the homes for themselves. Associate director Jordan Spittle said: “This is an exciting new venture for us which complements our existing modular building offering. “We’re thrilled to be working with Designer Eco Tiny Homes which has built up a strong reputation for ‘ENERGY delivering tiny homes in EFFICIENT, Australia. “These incredible structures ECO-FRIENDLY, are energy efficient, ecoAFFORDABLE friendly, affordable and very AND VERY versatile. Initially, we think they within two to three years. VERSATILE’ will be very popular with people “In the long term we hope wanting to purchase them as they will increasingly be seen as a holiday lets or to add to existing viable solution for permanent living glamping sites or holiday park sites. as they provide a highly sustainable and Based on the rental figures we’ve seen buyers affordable option for housing and are built to be will get a really good return on their investment lived in.

“Tiny homes are already popular in Australia and America and they will make a great addition to the UK’s housing market.” For further information visit or contact Team Qube on 01604 785786.

NORTHAMPTON RECEIVES TOWNS FUND The Government has announced Northampton will receive £25m from its Towns Fund to kickstart a raft of development projects across the town. The news came as part of the Treasury Budget announcement in March and has been welcomed by members of the Northampton Forward board. Northampton Forward was set up around two years ago as a public-private partnership to drive forward progress in the town. It includes individuals from a range of businesses, community interests and public sector bodies to ensure all proposals are robustly scrutinised. Jo Gordon, chief executive of the Royal & Derngate and Northampton Forward board member, said: “This money will breathe life into a range of very exciting projects, including some heavy investment into our blossoming Cultural Quarter, and will be the catalyst for a huge amount of private sector investment in the town.”

Responding to the news, the then leader of Northampton Borough Council, Cllr Jonathan Nunn, added: “This money will allow us to progress a number of schemes across our town which will help us not only transform our high streets, but significantly boost our already compelling cultural offer. “I’m extremely grateful to all of the staff who worked tirelessly to create our submission, and to colleagues from Northampton Forward without whose support this would most certainly not have been possible.” The Government grant will be supported by match-funding of £13.5m from the council, Enterprise Zone, Getting Building Fund and the National Heritage Lottery Fund and will unlock private-sector investment worth £156m. The full list of projects being supported by the funding visit 592/regeneration/2545/northampton-towninvestment-plan JUNE/JULY 2021 inbusiness 5

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MAGGIE CHAMPIONS WOMEN WITH VISION An ardent supporter of Northamptonshire Chamber has become one of our new Women With Vision champions. Maggie Halsall is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, an independent HR consultant and founding director of Acanthus Management Limited. Set up in 2009, Maggie’s boutique HR consultancy offers bespoke, strategic HR advice and dedicated operational support to businesses across the UK. “No matter how established you are, when you run a business, of any size, it’s helpful to listen to and acknowledge other’s experiences to get ‘their take’ of their environment, both business and personal, so that you can not only learn from them but be their sounding board too,” said Maggie. “Developing long lasting and supportive relationships with others in a safe space is crucial and becoming a champion for Women With Vision, enables me to continue to offer that support. “I’ve been a Northamptonshire Chamber member for 10 years this year and joined the board around seven years ago. I offered to become a Women With Vision champion so I can continue to offer support on challenging issues as well as celebrate success - and over the years I’ve been privileged to to experience both.” The Women With Vision (WWV) network was launched in March and offers its members free online CPD events, access to networking events, a bi-monthly drop in event and a free 30-minute mentor Zoom call with one of the network’s champions. To find out more about WWV visit To get in touch with Maggie contact Acanthus Management Limited on 07799 251852 or email 6 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

One of Northamptonshire’s best-known organisations has celebrated two major milestones. Wollaston-based Scott Bader celebrated its 100th birthday at the end of April and 70 years of the Scott Bader Commonwealth. As part of the celebrations, the company has created a dedicated centenary section on its website featuring a timeline that captures the company’s 100year journey from war torn London to a global enterprise serving customers from 15 offices around the world. It also highlights significant landmarks including the move to its rural manor house in Wollaston and Ernest Bader gifting the company to his employees to form the Scott Bader Commonwealth. Scott Bader’s rich history has also been documented in a Commemorative book, which will be made available on its website. Scott Bader CEO, Kevin Matthews, said: “The principles and values that Scott Bader’s founder Ernest Bader enshrined in the Constitution have fantastic resonance with the needs of the ‘OUR VALUES 21st century as society HAVE FANTASTIC transforms itself onto a path that is sustainable in the longRESONANCE term. WITH THE NEEDS “To this end Scott Bader also OF THE 21ST recognises its own role in the transition of its customers’ supply CENTURY’ chains to be sustainable and this is Programme by pledging to reduce its carbon likely to be the main driving force for emissions. the company in the decades to come.” Centenary time capsules containing employee In 2018 Scott Bader launched its 2036 aspirations for the future of the firm will be buried by vision for a sustainable future and during its trees planted originally for the launch of their 2036 centenary year it has chosen to support several vision at each Scott Bader manufacturing site. These environmental initiatives. These include donating to will be opened in 2036. the World Land Trust’s (WLT) Buy an Acre Programme for a conservation project in Argentina Visit: and committing to the WLT’s Carbon Balanced

HELP FOR VACCINATION CENTRE One of the AgeUK Northamptonshire volunteers

Age UK Northamptonshire volunteers have been working at the county’s NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at Moulton Park since the beginning of February. Sixteen volunteers from the charity have been joining the fantastic team effort onsite, working in patients and carer liaison roles seven days a week from 10am to 3pm. By providing a friendly, professional welcome at the main door, and keeping the queues flowing, people are channelled efficiently through to the assessors with hardly a delay. Volunteers have also provided support to vulnerable people who needed help with a wheelchair or a drink of water to calm their nerves. By mid-April, Age UK Northamptonshire had donated over 240 hours of free support to

the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme. Age UK Northamptonshire chief executive Chris Duff said: “Our volunteers are making a real difference to the NHS and ensuring that people’s experience of the vaccination process is a positive one. “We want to say a huge thank you to the East Midlands Ambulance Service, Primary Care, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, Social Care, the Voluntary Sector and everyone involved in keeping Northamptonshire safe.” Volunteer Sharon O’Connell added: “I’m so glad to be able to help. It’s a privilege to be part of the NHS vaccination effort.” Age UK Northamptonshire has also continued to provide services and support to older people throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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APPROVAL FOR PLAYGROUND “Now, more than ever outdoor A Timotay Playscapes playground learning is key. Children have spent project has been given the Prime an extended amount of time Minister’s seal of approval. indoors and not participating in Boris Johnson visited the sports, so outdoor learning and Wollaston-based firm’s project at St exercising is now key. Mary’s Primary School in Tunstall “We’re incredibly proud of just before all pupils returned our contribution to to school in March. outdoor learning and The Prime Minister believe that every met with Timotay’s child has the right skilled and ‘WE’RE to play. Through dedicated team of INCREDIBLY each of our experts who have PROUD OF OUR playground and now finished CONTRIBUTION outdoor space installing the TO OUTDOOR transformations, outdoor space and LEARNING’ we’re making a transformed the positive impact.” area into an inclusive Timotay Playscapes playground and supports the use of sensory space. outdoor learning environments Mr Johnson, ventured up into so children can connect with nature the site’s lookout tower, inspected and the wider outdoor and natural the up and over tunnel and was environment. It offers support, wowed by the water play area. He guidance and expertise to described the space as being educational settings along with ‘absolutely wonderful for the kids’. parks, public spaces and family A Timotay Playscapes attractions, enabling them to spokesman said: “St Mary’s Primary transform their outdoor spaces and School has invested in its outdoor get children more active and space to enable children to play engaged in outdoor learning. independently, learn in a fantastic outdoor environment and be able Visit: to access an inclusive enriched outdoor environment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Timotay Playscapes playground at St Mary’s Primary School in Tunstall


GIGGABOX SHIFTS TO VIRTUAL EVENTS An innovative business has revolutionised its operations in response to the pandemic. Before Covid-19, Giggabox’s primary business came from video production, and it had more than 10 years of experience of working on television broadcasts and live streaming, but when the pandemic started its project schedule for 2020 was swiftly cancelled or postponed to later dates. The firm realised that such rapid societal change could bring huge opportunities and quickly brought their wealth of knowledge to the new world of virtual events. Its focus on virtual events began with a one-off stream for a single client but its reputation in the 8 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

sector has grown so quickly that it has already produced more than 100 Virtual Events. Giggabox CEO Paul Musselle said: “What sets us apart in the virtual events sector is our production services. “Every event we deliver includes a graphics package created by our in-house production team, which enables our clients to create engaging, branded and tailored experiences for a global audience. “We’re proud to be enabling businesses, during these uncertain, changing times, to deliver their events successfully.”

A former apprentice at one of the UK’s most forward-thinking, independent insurance brokers has received a promotion. Kyle Tompkins (pictured) joined BHIB as an apprentice in 2016 after completing his A-Levels. He began his career as an account broker in the firm’s Transport and Logistics Team and dealt predominantly with motor fleets while taking part in the Brokerbility Academy. The Brokerbility programme helped Kyle gain key skills in the areas of claims knowledge, sales, marketing, presenting and teamwork and helped him become an account broker in the firm’s Professions Team. He has now gone on to become a client account executive at the age of 23. Kyle said: “Becoming an account broker in our Professions Team gave me a great understanding of the insurance industry because I was dealing with people from a range of sectors, including accountants, solicitors, engineers, property owners and manufacturers “This experience has helped me receive my promotion because I fully understood all areas of insurance. In my new role I manage a client portfolio and get to network which I really enjoy. I’m particularly looking forward to networking with fellow Northamptonshire Chamber members. As a 23-year-old who has a big passion for progressing his career I want to get to know more people and businesses so we can work together to achieve better results.” Visit:


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UNIVERSITY SUPPORTS COMMUNITY IN A CRISIS Northampton’s Energy Centre tower shows its support for the NHS. Right: Nursing student Hannah Shaw Matt Bailey-Jones


For further information about Link Business Finance visit uk

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volunteering to support local University of Northampton staff hospital colleagues and gave his and students have worked spare time to support Northampton tirelessly throughout the General Hospital’s testing of pandemic to help the NHS, Covid-19 samples. charities and the wider The university’s community. Podiatry Clinic Shortly after the supported over 250 lockdown started in ‘OVER 500 patients during March 2020, the STUDENTS lockdown and the university RESPONDED WHEN Waterside campus provided 400 free THE GOVERNMENT housed temporary rooms in vacant ASKED FOR Covid-19 student STUDENTS TO assessment and accommodation to HELP THE NHS’ testing clinics. house healthcare Staff from the staff and patients to university’s Institute for ease the pressure on the Creative Leather Technologies NHS. University helped dye half a tonne of material accommodation was also that was turned into clinical scrubs temporarily given to a local charity for NHS staff. supporting rough sleepers. Molecular Bioscience lecturer More than 500 students from the David Young juggled daily lectures Faculty of Health, Education and and his own research with Society stepped up when the

Government asked for nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and paramedic science students to help the NHS. The university helped the Red Cross when it needed a base in Northampton to store food for vulnerable people across the county and provided a large donation to local foodbanks. From January, people were also given the chance to share messages of thanks on the power tower screen on the University of Northampton’s well-known Energy Centre tower. More information about how the university has supported the wider community throughout Covid-19 can be found at by searching for ‘Covid-19 – Serving the community in a crisis’.

FIRM IN RUNNING FOR TWO AWARDS An outsourced finance company has been shortlisted for two SME National Awards. Cornerstone FD, which celebrated its second year of trading in January, is up for Young Businessperson of the Year and Best New Business at the prestigious awards, the winner of which will be announced in July. It is the culmination of 24 months of success for Cornerstone FD, which already has two awards under its belt and has doubled its business and employed two new staff since September. Director Annie Thompson (pictured) said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for these honours. I am proud of all we have achieved in such a short space of time and during the uncertainty of Covid19. “We have stopped two big clients from losing their businesses during the pandemic and look set to triple our business during 2021.”

Photo courtesy of Nick Freeman Photography

A county firm that launched at the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic is expanding rapidly. Link Business Finance was founded by Matt Bailey-Jones in March 2020 to help other SMEs across the UK to grow through asset finance, commercial loans, invoice finance, secured loans and car finance products. Despite the pandemic, the firm has hit its targets for its first year, recently opened its new office in Moulton Park and has begun expanding its workforce. Matt said: “Last year was tough for everyone but we’re proud that we have achieved our targets. We celebrated moving into our second year by opening our new office in April and a few days later I was joined by our new account manager Kurt Jewell. “Kurt has been doing really well since he joined the business and I’m thrilled to say we’ll be expanding our workforce further soon. “We’ve been in talks with fellow Chamber members Northampton College and JBC Skills Training Ltd about recruiting some of their apprentices. “We’ve also been accepted onto the Government’s Kickstart Scheme which provides funding to create job placements for 16 to 24-yearolds. This is great news because we are keen to help more young people into work. It’s obviously good news for them but we believe it’s also good news for our business because we can teach them how to deliver a high quality service to our clients.”

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AWARDS TO BRING BUSINESS COMMUNITY TOGETHER Entries are now open for the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards 2021 in November, an event that it is hoped will bring the county’s business community together again after the difficulties of lockdowns and social distancing. The Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards 2020, organised by All Things Business magazine, moved online for its glittering awards night in February. Beamed directly to finalists’ and guests’ homes in a virtual version of what would have been one of the highlights of the business social

calendar, the night included a ‘visit’ to Warner’s Distillery in Harrington and live entertainment from singer Faryl Smith. The winners were announced by the All Things Business team and then invited by managing director Ben Thomas (pictured) to say a few words via video link. The winners of the 12 awards included Jasmine Abel from Cave & Sons (Apprentice of the Year), Brooklyn Brownie Company (Food and Drink Award), Scott Bader (Employer of the Year), The McCarthy-Dixon Foundation (Community Project or Person of

the Year) and Medigold Health (Big Business of the Year). Ben Thomas said: “My team and I refused to put a stop to the celebration of our county’s hard work and commitment to getting through this tough time and propping others up along the way. “But, despite the success of the 2020 awards, we can’t wait to get everyone back together for a fullon awards night later this year.” More details of the 2021 awards, how to enter and sponsorship opportunities are available at

Poppy Design Studio has pledged its support for young people by joining Speakers for Schools. The Desborough-based creative studio team will help young people to gain experience of employment by providing work experience opportunities via the Speakers for Schools online platform. Founded in 2010 by ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, Speakers for Schools aims to end educational inequality by giving all young people free access to industry-leading companies. Poppy Design Studio marketing manager Simon Cox said: “The platform will enable us to liaise with students who are interested in learning and working on some of our projects. By uploading opportunities to the online platform, we can offer virtual work experience opportunities to help give young people a start.” Visit:

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Duncan Nicholson

Tollers managing partner Duncan Nicholson It has been over a year since the first said: “The last year has seen many changes for coronavirus lockdown was implemented in the firm. We opened our new Stevenage office the UK. just before the first lockdown and thereafter we With that and subsequent lockdowns have invested in new technologies to ensure our staff come tough restrictions for trading businesses could continue to service our clients just as well and individuals. from their homes as they were able to do With many rules still in place and a from the office. continuation of restrictions on “We’ve spent time training our socialising our everyday lives have staff on new working practices altered beyond measure. Well‘THE FIRM HAS and policies to ensure all of our known and established WORKED teams operate in a Covid-secure businesses have closed for workplace. good, while others have AMAZINGLY AS A “The firm has worked evolved and even thrived TEAM amazingly as a team through the implementation of THROUGHOUT throughout the pandemic new and innovative practices. despite the challenges of it Leading regional law firm THE PANDEMIC’ and the damage to the wider Tollers has weathered the storm economy. It’s with some pride I by developing its working practices can say we’ve emerged stronger and the ways in which it supports its ensuring that Tollers will continue to offer staff and clients. market leading legal advice to the clients that The firm worked hard to ensure it quickly we serve for a long time to come.” adapted to the changing economic landscape and developed its processes to ensure clients Call: 01604 258558 and staff remained safe, while still providing the Email: highest levels of advice and service.

COMPANY UNVEILS NEW SWIM RANGE Bambino Mio has launched a new sustainable swim collection for 2021 called Tropical Punch. The eco-friendly swim range offers UPF40+ protection for little ones, to keep their skin safe from the sun, sand and water. Bambino Mio’s reusable swim nappies, rash tops and reversible swim hats are all OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified – the leading global certification for textiles, meaning that these products have been independently tested to ensure there are no traces of harmful substances and guarantees the safety of the materials used to design the products. Bambino Mio’s swim range has won numerous awards, including Silver for the rash top in the Made for Mums 2020 Best Family travel product category and Silver for the swim set in the Mother & Baby 2020 awards Best swimming product category. The company’s reusable swim products have proved incredibly popular across the globe and sales continue to grow year on year. As more and more parents aim to reduce their single-use plastic consumption with their little ones, Bambino Mio will continue to offer sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic swim products. Visit:

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Smart Office Services is celebrating 21 years in business this year. It will be a quiet celebration due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the remote PA support company are planning a big celebration for their 25th anniversary when that comes around. The company was established by two personal assistants who wanted to provide remote PA support to business owners and managers. Offering the same services they would expect within a company, giving them back valuable time and saving costs by working remotely. Despite the challenges of the last year, Smart Office Services apprentices Caroline Lloyd and Holly Burnham have both achieved distinctions in their Apprenticeship in Business Administrator Level 3. Manager Lynn Dumbarton said: “This is a great achievement for them both, they have worked hard

Caroline Lloyd

and we are very proud to be a stepping stone while they decide on their future careers. Their input has been invaluable to us and we hope to recruit again. “Like many companies, the last year has been a challenge for us. Some of our clients provide face to face services and as their businesses have temporarily closed, we have also been quieter. “Businesses are now using our services to help avoid having too many staff members in one location. Unfortunately, some businesses have had to downsize their premises, this means they no longer have the room for a reception area. This is where we have helped by providing the back-office support. We are here all day, but they only pay for the time we are working. “We are looking forward to the opening of services and helping more business owners thrive in the future.”

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CHAMBER CHARITY IN APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE Northamptonshire Chamber’s new Charity of the Year is appealing to businesses across the county to help people in need as Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease. Northampton’s Hope Centre was named the Chamber’s new Charity of the Year in April and it is appealing to organisations to help it support the homeless and those living in poverty. Throughout the pandemic, the charity’s services have grown significantly in response to a huge increase in need. Its Food Club support has increased by 400% and it is greatly in need of help in its warehouse

and allotment and with various other projects. Hope Centre head of corporate engagement Noo Jarvill said: “We’re thrilled to be named the Chamber’s Charity of the Year and are grateful for any support that our fellow Chamber members can offer us. “We’ve been staggered by the generosity the local business community throughout the pandemic with firms offering time, expertise, products and financial donations. We’re now keen to encourage more volunteers from our business community to come forward to help our projects and see how their support is making

such a difference to people during the Covid-19 crisis.” Northamptonshire Chamber interim CEO Louise Wall said: “The Hope Centre has been an active member of our Chamber for a long time and we know that it is a charity that is close to the hearts of many of our members. “Throughout the year we’ll help the charity to raise its profile and look forward to sharing news about its latest projects and its collaborations with fellow Chamber members.” Email:

National contractor Stepnell has made significant progress on three residential projects in Leicester. The schemes include two student accommodation projects and one private residential build – which is Aimrok’s Wellington House, a £9m renovation project recently won by the Stepnell’s East Midlands office. The works will see the conversion of the existing office block into 105 apartments. It has also started on site at Leicester city centre’s newest student accommodation facility, Friar Lane. The £5.4m scheme, commissioned by Obstrat, includes the construction of 90 selfcontained studio apartments across five storeys, with a recessed element at four storeys to provide a transition between the development and the rest of the buildings that already populate Friar Lane at a lower level. Stepnell also demonstrated its ‘can do’ approach while completing Upperton Road - another student residential project and its sixth project for Zone Developments. The £2m refurbishment and new build project is close to a school, meaning Stepnell had to negotiate restrictive access without communal disruption.

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EXPERTS JOIN FORCES TO BOOST WORKFORCE A duo with 50 years of combined experience of working within recruitment and the employment industry has joined forces to launch a new organisation. Training and recruitment expert James Gage and recruitment and employability specialist Esther Greenwood started Career Catapult with the aim of supporting people who are entering the workforce, have been made redundant, are looking to develop themselves or change their careers. The firm has also teamed up with well-being experts so it can share advice to support people with their mental health and runs courses for businesses which, in these difficult times, want to provide employees at risk of redundancy with additional skills that will help them back into work quickly. Career Catapult has already launched a new website which showcases nearly 30 courses it has developed for its members so far. James said: “During the first phase of our business we’re focussing on employment skills and mental health challenges because we want to support the high numbers of people currently at risk of redundancy as a result of the pandemic. As things improve, we’ll



Esther Greenwood and James Gage

focus more on our upskilling programmes.” Esther added: “We offer traditional courses in CV writing and preparing people for interviews, but we wanted to do a lot more to support people going through these difficult times. That’s why we’ve also developed a range of courses covering a wide variety of topics, including ones on financial help, what to do when


your relationships come under pressure and men’s mental health.” Each training course features short videos and downloadable resources. The firm’s website also includes insightful podcasts with job seekers, ranging from graduates to experienced managers, on their experiences of looking for new roles. Visit:

...and after the curtain fitting

INNOVATIVE STANAIR SOLUTION An industrial door specialist has helped a fellow Chamber member to come up with an innovative solution at its new warehouse. For many years Stanair Industrial Door Services Ltd has worked with the Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCol) which is the trading arm of the Salvation Army and has raised £76m for the charity in the past 10 years through its 220 charity shops, donation centres and clothing banks. When SATCol commenced operations at its new purpose-built sorting and processing warehouse in January, it turned to Stanair to help it with its lorry tipper – the first of its kind in the UK.

David Barrow

SATCol business relocation project manager Jay Fleming explained: “The building design includes a large entrance to receive lorry trailers, and we needed something to stop the weather and pests from entering the warehouse.” The Stanair team suggested fitting large PVC strip curtains into the nine-metre opening – the largest set the business has ever fitted. “Stanair came up with the perfect solution to our problem,” Jay said. “The success of the warehouse relies on attention to detail and specialist expertise, and Stanair’s engineers were able to

plan, design and implement bespoke curtains to protect our machinery. We’ve worked with them for many years and they always deliver an excellent service.” Stanair managing director David Wood added: “The Salvation Army do an amazing job and we’re always proud to support their work. “Their clothing banks, charity shops and donation centres offer people the opportunity to donate their unwanted goods, including clothing, accessories, and more in a convenient way. We’re delighted that we’ve helped them to ensure donations enter their new warehouse in an efficient, safe and secure way.”

Haddonstone, the Northamptonshire-based, world-renowned cast stone manufacturer, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The company is synonymous with producing the highestquality cast stone garden, landscaping and architectural products for clients in the UK and internationally. Established by Robert ‘Bob’ Barrow in 1971, a modest range of seven garden designs were first produced in his East Haddon garage. The company has subsequently grown to become a market-leader around the world. It now produces an extensive collection of over a thousand standard garden and architectural designs in traditional, contemporary and classical styles. Haddonstone’s head office is still in East Haddon, and the company also now has a base in Colorado, USA. Remaining true to its heritage, all of Haddonstone’s designs are still hand crafted to order by their team. With unrivalled expertise and the highest level of skill and craftsmanship, their team produces all their products inhouse. This includes their extensive garden and home range featuring bird baths, water features and statuary, which can be found in private residences, international hotels, palaces, stately homes, National Trust properties and RHS gardens. Haddonstone’s awardwinning building and construction components, have been used in the construction and renovation of a broad range of prestigious buildings and projects across the world, including the Duchy of Cornwall’s Poundbury development in Dorchester, Dorset. Bob Barrow’s son, David, assumed the role of managing director in 2011 and the company continues to be proud to be family-owned. Visit:

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SOS DAY CREAM WINS TOP AWARD SOS Serum Skincare has been awarded the prestigious Beauty Shortlist 2021 Editor’s Choice Award for its SOS H20 Day Cream SPF 30. This exceptional formulation blends active plant stem cells and anti-ageing ingredients, including White Truffle and Green Grape, which have been shown to stimulate new skin cell production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. SOS Serum Skincare offers a range of skin care products that help keep skin healthy and protected and nurture diabetic skin. Formulated by chartered chemist, chartered scientist and fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry Bruce Green, this unique range of advanced formulations brings relief to problematic skin. The brand was also awarded 2020’s Most Innovative Skin Care Brand – UK in the GHP Global Excellence Awards – another accolade it is proud of. The range uses pharmaceutical quality ingredients and is vegan, cruelty-free, artificial ingredient free and is made in Northamptonshire. Other products in the range include its SOS Serum which received the Free From Skincare Award in 2020, SOS SPF 50 Sun Cream and SOS Protect Hand Sanitiser. The brand also launched its new SOS Cleanse in May. The brand is proud to support the Bruce Green Foundation, which helps improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in Northamptonshire. Visit: 16 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

Howes Percival has been ranked ninth in Planning Jay Mehta Magazine’s 2021 Planning Law Survey. The prestigious survey of the UK’s leading planning law firms and barristers also places Howes Percival’s Jay Mehta as the UK’s sixth highest rated planning solicitor. The results of the survey are based on responses from consultants, developers and local authorities that were asked to identify individuals and firms they regard as exemplifying best practice in planning law. Howes Percival, which has offices in Leicester, Northampton and Milton Keynes, has seen its ranking rise seven places from its 2020 position of 16th and 21 ‘WE’RE places from its 2019 position of 30th. DELIGHTED TO BE The team acts for major RECOGNISED AS housebuilders, land promoters, developers and local authorities. In ONE OF THE TOP the past year its work included 10 PLANNING advising Code Students about a 40LAW FIRMS’ storey student scheme; acting for Hampton Brook in relation to a 2m sq ft strategic employment site south of Milton Keynes; advising Breckland District Council on ranking especially pleasing. We’re also thrilled Jay’s an application for a 4,000 dwelling mixed use urban skills and expertise have been acknowledged with his extension in Norfolk and advising Turnstone Estates ranking as one of the UK's highest rated planning on two £50m leisure developments in Colchester and solicitors.” Southend respectively. Howes Percival is also ranked as a top-tier firm for Paul Wootton, partner and head of Howes Planning and Environment in the UK's leading guide Percival’s Planning Team, said: “We’re delighted to be to law firms, the Legal 500. recognised as one of the top 10 planning law firms in the UK. The fact the rankings are based on peer-led Visit: interviews and feedback makes our ninth place

AWARD WIN FOR HR SOLUTIONS HR Solutions, of Kettering, is celebrating after scooping the Professional Services Award at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards. For the first time, the awards took place online this year after the original November 2020 ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Professional Services Award category celebrated organisations which had modernised and adapted their services and product offerings and demonstrated a commitment to training and development and stand-out customer service. Despite incredibly stiff competition, HR Solutions was crowned the winner. The company, which supplies outsourced HR support to small to medium-sized businesses, impressed judges with its three recent mergers and acquisitions and a year-on-year growth of 20%. HR Solutions also moved quickly during the pandemic to learn new legislation and rules around furlough and other Covid-19 related measures.

Greg Guilford with the award

Chief executive officer Greg Guilford said: “This award means a lot to all of us. Our team has gone above and beyond over the last year to support our clients during what’s been an incredibly tough year for a lot of businesses. We’ve also managed to grow the business through organic growth and mergers and acquisitions, which has been tricky to manage at times given the lockdowns and restrictions brought about by remote working.”

HR Solutions, which celebrates 20 years in business this year, supplies outsourced HR support to clients from small care agencies to multi-national technology firms, and boasts over 400 clients in a wide range of industries including financial services, charitable, medical and hospitality sectors. Services available include HR health checks, bespoke documentation, employment advice and more. Visit:

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BUSINESS REPORT ACQUISITION FOR OASIS OASIS Group, the largest privately-owned Records and Information Management (RIM) provider in Europe has acquired DataSpace (UK) Limited, based in the North West of England. The acquisition supports the OASIS Group’s long-term goal of continuously expanding its presence and knowledge in local markets across Europe. “OASIS is pleased to have completed the acquisition of DataSpace,” said Espen Halvorsen (pictured), OASIS Group CEO. “We’re excited at the opportunities that lay ahead and the value that OASIS Group can deliver to DataSpace’s clients through our presence and understanding of information management across Europe.” This transaction marks the 52nd successful acquisition for OASIS Group.

FURTHER GROWTH FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS A thriving and trusted virtual assistant company has strengthened its growing brand as the demand for outsourced business support continues to soar in Northamptonshire and beyond. Gemma McMillan joined the award-winning Alchemy Virtual Assistance (VA) family in December 2020, just as the group reported a record-breaking number of enquiries for the year. With decades of experience across various admin, sales, customer service and client liaison roles, Gemma left her secure job at an international shipping firm and is working with the wider Alchemy team to provide flexible, remote admin and PA services to not for profits, community and people-led organisations. Alchemy’s head office is based in Northampton and now has two thriving franchise Hubs in the county supporting a vast and diverse array of businesses across the UK. Northamptonshire Chamber members, The Lewis Foundation and Kilby Fox, are among Alchemy’s valued clients.

Sarah Damani

Gemma McMillan

Lorraine Lewis, co-founder of The Lewis Foundation said: “Alchemy VA have been helping us with our social media scheduling and engagement for over a year now, and their support has made such a massive difference. “There are so many different aspects to running a charity and I realised I was spreading myself too thin by trying to do it all. I reached out to Alchemy because I’d seen how their remote admin support was freeing up time for others. It’s like having an extension of our own team – someone I can trust to

manage my social media is such a huge weight off.” Sarah Damani, who heads up Alchemy VA’s Wellingborough Hub, added: “Everyone is far more open to remote working now. Hiring a Virtual Assistant partner through an established, family-run VA company is the ideal staffing solution for businesses in these turbulent times. It’s a reliable, efficient, adaptable and cost-effective solution. We’re big enough to really deliver yet small enough to truly care.” Visit:

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The Chamber’s INTERNATIONAL TRADE TEAM will help you navigate your way through all of the regulatory procedures and documents that you’ll need for successful international trading

GERMAN DISTRIBUTION CENTRE FOR DACHSER Logistics provider Dachser has started operations at a new distribution centre at its Magdeburg site in Germany. At the facility, the family-owned company provides logistics services for its customer Globus Baumarkt and other companies in the region. The expansion created 40 new jobs. Dachser’s new facility is 84,000 m2 and includes two warehouses with a total logistics area of 40,000 m2. One of the warehouses has been specifically designed for the storage and picking of food and non-food items and covers approximately 8,000 m2. The second warehouse for contract logistics activities has an area of 32,000 m2. Through the expansion, the office and social space at Dachser’s Magdeburg distribution centre now cover 1,880 m2. There is also an additional 3,000 m2 of outdoor storage adjacent to the site. Including the distribution

centre 40km away in Oschersleben, Dachser’s Magdeburg logistics centre now provides 55,000 m2 for logistics operations and space to accommodate 80,000 pallets. “At our new facility, we furnish warehousing and distribution services for Globus Baumarkt as well as well-known regional and global manufacturers and retailers

of industrial goods and food products,” explainede Christian Schäckel, general manager of the Magdeburg logistics centre. Dachser has been operating in the Magdeburg region for over 25 years. Around 170 employees are responsible for ensuring the smooth execution of logistics services.

FREE VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS Businesses from across the county have benefitted from a series of expert International Trade Webinars run by Northamptonshire Chamber. During the past few months, the Chamber has run more than a dozen webinars to help businesses gain an indepth understanding of how export and import procedures and documentation work post-Brexit. The free virtual workshops were run in partnership with SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) and covered a variety of topics from customs declarations to import declarations and compliance. Northamptonshire Chamber group events, communications and marketing manager Matthew Cannon said: “We’re fully aware of how many new things our international traders have had to contend with in recent months which is why we have launched our new International Trade Membership and were keen to host these workshops. “All the sessions were based on business insight and were designed to keep businesses moving forward in 2021. We were delighted to work with SEMLEP on this important initiative and have been pleased to see how much our members have welcomed these sessions.” Piroto Labelling Limited finance manager Chris Hayward attended one of the webinars. He said: “The

webinars provided a good overview of all importing and exporting scenarios associated with Brexit. “It was also interesting to see that many, many local businesses were in a similar position to ourselves, initially having little knowledge of the complications involved. Importantly, one of the messages we gleaned early on ensured we contracted an import agent in good time, which in turn negated any potential delays to our vital raw material imports.” For further information about the Chamber’s International Trade Membership email

PAPERWORK GETS AUTOMATED An innovative business process automation company has implemented software robots to make the labourintensive task of routine customs paperwork more efficient. From 1 January 2021, customs paperwork has been required for goods moving between Great Britain and any EU country, for both imports and exports. This was a challenge for customs clearance services trying to deal with an increase of thousands of documents every day. Ether Solutions, who provide automation of business processes using software robots to perform repetitive activity that people undertake on computer screens, worked alongside one specialist customs agent to bring in their robots to help meet demand. Knowledgeable customs experts handle the complex situations, but the regular movement of goods is achieved with the software robots completing the daily routine processing. In the supply chain world of 24-hour logistics, using software robots to complete the office administration whenever it is needed virtually eliminates the need for a night shift team. Ether Solutions David Martin said: “Automation is ideally performed on stable processes. As the news headlines have been reporting there is still a lot of change happening in the GB – EU customs arrangements, but even during this challenging period, software robots have been delivering benefits by working alongside people as part of an integrated process. Any industry can innovate and gain benefits from automation to achieve a competitive position, without needing the challenges of a trade agreement to spark the action.”

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In this issue we look at the CREATIVE INDUSTRIES, TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION and EDUCATION & TRAINING sectors in the Northamptonshire area

VIDEO WORK IN HIGH DEMAND A new arm of a highly successful Jimmy Bricknell and Stef commercial photography business Louca of Small Giants on has already created exciting set filming for a new communications for some of the sparkling wine brand UK’s biggest brands. The team behind Frasershot, based in East Haddon, started Small Giants Media in October in response to high levels demand from its clients for video work. The new venture has already worked on a number of projects for major clients, including television advertisements, commercials, talking heads, videos for social media and ‘WE’VE BEEN other forms of INCREDIBLY BUSY communication. Its impressive, EVER SINCE WE ever-growing list of LAUNCHED’ clients includes the likes of Quorn, Starbucks, Compass Group, Wickes, Travis Craig said: Perkins, Tottenham Hotspur, “Previously, we had been Nespresso, Premier Inn, McCain and outsourcing the requests we fellow Northamptonshire Chamber received for video work but we had member Crockett & Jones. so many calls for our services that Owner of Frasershot and Small it made sense for us to invite the Giants Media business director team we’d been working with to Craig Fraser runs the new venture join us and bring everything inwith co-director Jimmy Bricknell. house.

“We’ve been incredibly busy ever since we launched and have helped lots of prominent organisations to get their messages across to clients during the pandemic. “We’ve launched a new website to show prospective clients the types of projects we’ve been working on but we haven’t actively

started marketing the business yet so for it to have grown so quickly already is really exciting.” Small Giants Media is based at the Frasershot Studios headquarters at Grovelands Business Park in Northampton. Visit:

NEW WEBSITE BUILT FOR MANUFACTURER A talented team of designers has helped one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of building products to redesign its website. Wellingborough-based design studio agencypds, which is part of Print Data Solutions, was commissioned by Forterra plc, to conduct an in-depth overhaul of its website. The website has now been redeveloped following a thorough review of the firm’s brand guidelines and the creation of a contemporary new version of its flagship Brick Guide, one of the company’s most downloaded pieces of collateral. David Nelson, lead creative at agencypds said: “As a house of brands, Forterra is home to some of the most iconic and recognisable names in construction, including 20 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

engaging video and animation based on simple line drawings that are used throughout its brand materials.” Forterra head of marketing and communications Helen Newberry added: “We’re delighted with the new website which has provided us with a clean, contemporary and dynamic showcase for our diverse product range. We have delivered a much more intuitive experience for our customers, ensuring that they can easily access the information they are looking for while also discovering more about how our expertise in the sector can assist with their construction projects.” London Brick which has been in continuous production since 1877 and has been used to build around a quarter of all British housing stock.

“Forterra has a complex audience base and so we designed the website to streamline the user experience, leading customers on a logical journey with the addition of

To find out more about Print Data Solutions call 01933 672150 or email

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Filming under way at Video Inn Production

HARNESSING THE POWER OF VIDEO A talented team of video production experts is running a fantastic offer for fellow Chamber members. Video Inn Production, based in Northampton, has launched a new deal for Chamber members to help them harness the power of video. Managing director Andrew Bentley said: “Business owners already know the video is incredibly powerful but they often believe the investment is too high. That’s why we’ve launched a new deal to hugely help our fellow Chamber members. “We’re inviting Chamber members to come into our fully equipped studio armed with a script – or bullet points – and a series of images and they will leave with four professional videos. All they have to do is come in every

four weeks and they will build a series of videos that will hugely improve the retention of information for their viewers.” As part of the special package, Chamber members will receive support from a helpful technician, professional video camera work, the highest quality microphone, studio quality lighting, green screen and live editing and image processing. Andrew added: “In short, these videos are easy for you to make, high quality and consistently timed – all essential for marketing, amongst an array of other uses.” Visit, email or call 01604 864868 to book a demo or a special trial deal.

CHALK ORIGINAL OPEN NEW STUDIO After a busy year, commercial photography and video company Chalk Original has opened its new Corby studio. During the past 12 months Chalk Original has welcomed many new clients and added many new projects to its portfolio. With this expansion came the need for a studio that could be the hub of Chalk Original’s content creation. Company director Wayne Lennon (pictured) said: “Our new 400sq ft studio allows for the creation of even more original photo and video content, with each project telling the individual story of each and every business. “Working with businesses to showcase their unique edge is at the heart of our brand ethos. We love producing commercial photography and video and helping businesses to create a strategy to get the best results from their new, original content. “We’re glad that our new studio opens up many more possibilities and options for our customers and the work we can create for them.”

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• Northamptonshire Chamber Members can have a free 30 Minute consultation to discuss recruitment processes/advice on building recruitment teams/recruitment technologies (ATS/CRM'S)/Candidate Experience/EVP (Employee Value Proposition).

• Based in Northamptonshire but also cover Bucks, Beds, Cambs & Warks.


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One of the contactless entry systems in action


NEW FOGGING SERVICE OFFERS PROTECTION Never has cleanliness been such a priority in the workplace, thanks to the coronvirus pandemic. With this in mind, Kalpesh Bhayani and his team at Bright & Beautiful have launched a brand new eco-friendly fogging service to help protect workplaces from Covid-19 outbreaks. The fog is a disinfectant spray, which is 99.9% effective against Covid-19 and does not contain bleach, peroxide or chlorine. Kalpesh explained: “We’re particularly proud to launch this service because it will offer peace of mind to many of our clients and

their employees and customers during the current pandemic. “Our eco-friendly fog spray kills airborne viruses and those found on surfaces. On top of providing effective protection against Covid19, our products are safe and do not contain the strong chemicals that often cause problems for people with breathing problems or allergies. “We already work with a lot of organisations, including estate agents, theatres and national holiday let businesses as our teams of two to three staff can clean properties thoroughly and quickly. “We expect our new service will

be particularly attractive to schools, doctors and dental surgeries, as well as food establishments and factories because of its food safe credentials.” Bright & Beautiful deploys teams of twos or threes who are trained to the highest standards to ensure high productivity levels and full accountability. Each team uses a fresh set of sterilised quality clean cloths and mops for every job. For further information about Bright & Beautiful, visit or call 01604 561200.

FREE TECHNICAL SUPPORT Kettering-based IT support company, PCS Business Systems is offering free technical sessions on Microsoft 365 courtesy of its team of techies. With more people spending time on work and personal computers this past year due to the pandemic, the need for tools like Microsoft 365 has increased. For this reason, PCS wants to help businesses far and wide sharpen up on their M365 skills and enable them to use it to its full capacity by offering free one-hour sessions for up to two people in the business. Microsoft 365 - formally Office 365 - provides users with a whole lot of functions, so whether they are new to the platform, or have been using it for years the tech session could be beneficial to their business. PCS has said every company they speak to is

utilising the email part of M365, but there is a whole range of other applications included that can push businesses forward, these include SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive and more. PCS would like to share the knowledge, for free, of how to make the most of all the applications whilst keeping it relevant to individual businesses. PCS has a limited number of M365 tech sessions left so if you want to take advantage of this free offer please get in touch with a member of the team as soon as possible. Call: 01536 532900 Email: Visit:

An expert team of ID card specialists is using the latest technology to help firms stay Covid-secure. Northampton-based ID Card Centre is a registered installer of the award-winning Paxton Net2 access control solutions which are helping to prevent asymptomatic Covid-19 infections from spreading. The technology enables contactless entries and exits to workplaces and helps firms to manage occupancy levels and social distancing in buildings, prevent bottlenecks and overcrowding and rapidly implement one-way routes. It can also be used to discourage nonessential movement, protect working bubbles by restricting access to certain areas, stagger break times and shifts and only give cleaners access to areas during key periods. In addition, the technology can integrate with a range of thermal cameras at key checkpoints so people with high temperatures are unable to enter buildings and individuals can take swift action to protect others. ID Card Centre managing director Ben O’Brien said: “Whilst everybody’s mentalities are going to need to change in order to get used to the new norm, bringing in technology to help prevent infections from spreading will make everybody’s lives easier and rebuild confidence in workplace safety. “A lot of people are going to be nervous if they’ve been cooped up for months, staying safe working from home, and they will need to know that new measures are in place to protect them. “With the vaccination programme well underway in the UK, businesses need to think about workplace safety and security now as more employees return to the workplace.” Visit: paxton-net2-systems JUNE/JULY 2021 inbusiness 23

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Bharat Panchal

HELPING FIRMS WORK REMOTELY A firm of IT specialists is using the latest technology to help organisations manage working from home safely. Braunston-based C4 Secure says with more firms turning to remote working options, it is critical organisations have the right level of threat visibility and response in place so they can support workers and stay ahead of threats. C4 Secure helps businesses to do this by offering the RSA SecurID® Suite which uses identity insights, threat intelligence and business context to provide secure access to all users, across all their applications. Managing director Bharat Panchal said: “We’re still traditional IT resellers, offering services and support in all IT matters however, what we actually do is deliver peace of mind to end users and to management. “With our help firms don’t need to worry about contravening strict rules on data access and GDPR regulations or about loss of data due to malicious attacks or plain forgetfulness. “As organisations turn on more on-premise, cloud and mobile applications, so their risk of being attacked increases along with the probability that a single compromised identity can lead to a catastrophic data breach. “Now more than ever, organisations need a high level of assurance that users are who they say they are. To be effective, and to ensure their businesses stay agile, they also need a secure access solution that won’t slow users down, but instead provide them with a common and convenient experience to any application, from any device. RSA SecurID® is that solution.” Visit:

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Northampton communications specialists dbfb has announced an acquisition to support a significant deployment contract over the next two years. The communications provider, which has offices in Northampton and Milton Keynes delivering mobility, hosted voice, connectivity and IT solutions to SME and Enterprise customers, has acquired Octopus Installations Ltd. Octopus Installations, which will be rebranded as installations for business Ltd (infb), was founded in 2019 by Matt Broomes and Mike Winnet. The duo had previously worked for ACS for several years helping them deliver audio visual solutions and structured cabling. ‘THE The first year was a hugely successful ACQUISITION one for Matt and Mike, and even with STRENGTHENS the restrictions of Covid-19 last year, THE DBFB they have continued to deliver steady SERVICE growth for the business. In 2020 dbfb PORTFOLIO’ won a significant deployment contract to be delivered over the next two years and needed a partner to support them. Matt and Mike had clearly demonstrated their ambitions and vision for Octopus and shared the same service values as the dbfb team. dbfb managing director Simon Pickering said: “The acquisition strengthens the dbfb service portfolio, enabling us to deliver audio visual and structured partner, in Northampton and Milton Keynes, for cabling to our existing customers and also grow the CityFibre which is leading the way in delivering a fullinfb brand into a nationwide installations business.” fibre digital overhaul to businesses across the UK. dbfb prides itself on being agile and responsive, ready to meet businesses’ technological needs. The Call: 01604 673320 company is also the original launch and preferred Visit:

LEADING THE WAY WITH VR There has been a dramatic shift in the use of communication technology to replace the loss of face-to-face communication during the pandemic. Firetree Visual Media is proud to be working with VPK UK and Ireland who are leading the way in using virtual reality technology to give potential clients access to their factory sites across the UK during the pandemic. With new specialised integrated conferencing technology their sales teams are able to share virtual access to all their sites from anywhere in the world, in real time. Firetree Visual Media director Kyra Williams said: “Businesses are starting to see the potential in utilising virtual reality to replace on-site visits, not just

for sales but for staff training and marketing. “Virtual reality is an industry that is set to explode in the coming years as businesses realise they need to be better equipped to be able to communicate productively despite physical distance. “We are proud to have been leading the way in providing innovative solutions to media and communications for businesses during the pandemic. “The advances made within communication technologies through the struggle to survive, will greatly impact and shape how we do business in the future, with the potential for greater productivity and global reach.” Visit:

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HIGHLIGHTING THE DANGERS OF ASBESTOS A county firm has trained staff at more than 1,000 organisations to protect them from the dangers of asbestos. Acorn Analytical Services’ trainers have more than a decade of experience in the asbestos industry and are accredited by UKATA (UK Asbestos Training Association). Their UKATA approved asbestos awareness training course has been designed to promote awareness and reduce accidental disturbance for anyone who may come into contact with the potentially lethal material during the course of their work. In particular, asbestos awareness training should be given to employees in the refurbishment, maintenance and construction trades. However, company director Ian Stone (pictured) said other organisations should also consider whether their staff are at risk from asbestos and in need of awareness training. He explained: “When you think about those in danger of being exposed to asbestos, electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, demolition and construction workers, architects, building surveyors and maintenance staff all spring to mind. “The truth is so many people are in danger of being exposed to asbestos in their every day lives.

“Although the use of asbestos in construction here was banned in 1999 it’s still in many buildings which are over 20 years old, including many workplaces and schools. “As part of our campaign work to raise awareness about asbestos we met an ex-RAF pilot who lost his wife to the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma at 51. She didn’t work in any of the professions I’ve mentioned – she was a teacher who had been exposed to asbestos simply by pinning up schoolwork on display boards with asbestos fibres in them.


“Around 5,000 people die in the UK from asbestos-related diseases every year. Company bosses and managers have a large role to play in reducing these numbers by making sure their staff receive the appropriate training.” Visit:


Anjana Rajani

A firm that runs energising coaching, training and wellbeing programmes that take the stress out of managing yourself and others, has developed a new course to support employees. Northampton-based Power2Progress launched its Mind Matters – Leadership Skills for Life program in April which aims to help individuals build resilience and to prevent or minimise mental health issues in the workplace. As part of the course, Power2Progress is offering free places on the introductory workshop which will be held on a monthly basis throughout the year. Director Anjana Rajani said: “The course aims to equip delegates with all the life skills they need to live a meaningful and purposeful life. It includes leadership skills for life that help people to selfregulate and self-manage. “The programme is full of tools

and techniques that will help to build resilience, self-awareness, re-wire unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and develop habits to support positive mental change.” The two-day programme can be delivered on consecutive days or over four weeks in half-day modules or as part of an open program for individuals joining a coaching programme. The course is ideal for managers that are finding it difficult to deal with their own or their staff’s emotions or behaviours and businesses that have noticed more stress leave. It will also help individuals lacking confidence and firms going through organisational change that is impacting workloads and expectations of staff. For further information call 01604 510066, email or visit

FUNDING FOR APPRENTICES Employers can now claim up to £4,000 for taking on an apprentice aged between 16 and 18 and apprentices of any age can attract £3,000 of funding. The news has been welcomed by The Bedford College Group which can guide companies through the apprenticeship process. Head of business development Julie Hoult explained: “It requires a commitment to allow the individual to spend 20% of their time in training but that doesn’t have to be a day release to college, it can be online learning or mentoring in the workplace. “The new Government Incentive of £3,000 can be used for any apprentice starting employment between 1 April and 30 September. “In addition, there’s an employer grant, that is agerelated, of £1,000 for employers that take on, or put existing staff aged between 16 and 18 through an apprenticeship. “So, if an employer signs up an apprentice aged 17 they could claim £4,000. If they take on a 25-year-old they could claim £3,000.” On top of this if the employee has additional needs and an educational, health care plan in place, there are extra funds available for them as apprentices, if they are aged under 25. Larger companies which are Apprenticeship Levy payers, can use their levy to put existing staff through apprenticeships to upskill them at no extra cost. Non-levy payers only have to contribute 5% and the Government will pay the remaining 95% of the apprenticeship cost. For organisations with fewer than 50 employees, the Government will fund 100% of course fees for 16 to 18-yearolds The Bedford College Group is the largest provider of apprenticeship training in the South East Midlands region. To discuss the funding options available to businesses email or call 01234 291747. Visit: apprenticeships/apprenticesh ips-we-offer

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TRANSFORM WITH ONLINE WORKSHOPS A business that helps aspirational leaders to deliver exceptional customer experiences and operational change is running a series of transformational online workshops. Specific Learning & Coaching is running two exciting workshops in June and July on Leading Teams Remotely and Managing Your Workload alongside Northamptonshire Chamber. It has also put together three two-hour workshops which will be running in June, focusing on Improving Your Bounce Back Ability; Conflict – How to Manage Your AAPE (Awareness, Assumptions, Perceptions and Expectations) and Managing the Office Overwhelm and a bitesize course on Presenting with Confidence. To support other organisations further, the business is also offering bespoke facilitation and workshop events focused on growth and

customer experience improvement. The workshops will be delivered by learning and coaching directors Lindsey Marriott and Charlotte Green. Lindsey said: “We’ve been running these workshops virtually since October and they’ve proved to be very popular with businesses that want to support their staff through these challenging times and deliver the best possible customer experience. Therefore, we decided to continue with shorter, bitesize workshops throughout 2021. “We’re thrilled to once more be working alongside Northamptonshire Chamber to provide courses which will help delegates to manage their workloads more effectively and teach leaders how to help their teams thrive in a world of remote or blended working. “We’re also incredibly proud to have recently added Project

PROFILING TOOL GETS UPGRADE Local training consultancy Beyond Theory is now offering the latest version of a top-rated personality profiling tool – the SDI 2.0. Beyond Theory have been providing the Strength Deployment Inventory in their leadership and customer excellence training ever since they established in 2012. But they have only been offering this exciting, upgraded new version since December last year. Director Paul Beesley (pictured) said: “The new SDI 2.0 offers a real step-change in personality profiling. Our many satisfied clients will recognise how the SDI identifies and plots people’s motivational values on a triangle and how their behaviour changes in conflict. “Participants can now compare profiles online and even receive tips on how to adapt their communication styles with others.” The new SDI 2.0 has already caught the eye of many forwardthinking organisations. Paul added: “Companies and organisations from all over the UK and overseas are contacting us and now using the new SDI. For example, a large Government department has invested heavily with us to support their growth as a newly formed team. And one local company is using the SDI to re-integrate their team as the lockdown eases. The SDI is attracting lots of interest and business far and wide. “The SDI 2.0 is a really flexible and fun way of learning about how to build and strengthen relationships at work. What’s more it can help describe your working culture by highlighting the strengths and overdone strengths of your team. This is so important now, particularly now our economy is looking to rebuild following lockdown.” For more details contact Paul on 01604 212505, email or visit

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Lindsey Marriott and Charlotte Green

Management to our suite of accredited skills so that we can support businesses to follow up their plans by project managing their changes through growth projects or customer experience improvement projects.”

To discover more about the Leading Teams Remotely and Managing Your Workload workshops that are being delivered in partnership with the Chamber visit

For further information about the four workshops Specific is running in-house visit learning-zone/#workshops

For more information about bespoke workshops, email or call 01604 212734.

PARTNERSHIP TO DELIVER UPSKILLING Training experts at The Development Company have partnered with a fellow Chamber member that is at the cutting edge of the communications industry. The Development Company has created and implemented a programme of upskilling workshops designed around the key values of dbfb’s business and to create a leadership team to future proof the organisation. Kay Buckby, co-founder of The Development Company, said: “dbfb has grown during a very difficult time, and their directors wish to raise their service excellence to maintain their reputation as a market leader providing outstanding service. “dbfb are communications experts, and pride themselves on their reputation of providing leading edge solutions in the mobility and technology sectors – this programme is the next step in developing their staff to be the best they can be.” Jess Ansell, of dbfb, added: “We chose to partner with The Development Company, as their approach was unique, and like us, they enjoy a superb reputation. We

Jess Ansell and Kay Buckby

liked the bespoke tailoring, starting with getting to know every member of staff in the company. As partners, The Development Company align with our business philosophy, values and approach.” For more information about bespoke training and development, call The Development Company on 01604 810801, email or visit For information about mobile, internet, cloud services and landlines, contact dbfb on 0800 158 5660 or email

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DIGITAL FUTURE FIRST PROGRAMME AVAILABLE Northamptonshire-based Learning and Skills Academy CIC is proud to be part of a regionwide, free-to-use project called Digital Future First. The project is helping SMEs in the area to access grants, funded training programmes and a range of financial incentives that help businesses grow, upskill existing employees and provide employment opportunities for the next generation in these difficult times. Learning and Skills Academy CIC managing director Tony Knaggs said: “Digital Future First offers SMEs guidance and support to help them understand what is available. It helps them access up to £1,500 for each placement through the Kickstart Scheme, up to £4,000 per Apprenticeship provided, up to £3,000 grant in match funding and £1,000 for each trainee placement offered. “There is also a range of support available to upskill existing staff and help them gain valuable qualifications – many of which are fully funded. “We also help with accessing advice and support for entrepreneurs and self-employment, funded one-toone business advice, webinars and workshops, access to business start-up services and specialist social enterprise support for new organisations. “Whilst there is some eligibility criteria for these programmes, since starting the project over 60 SMEs have so far taken up the opportunity to find out more about Digital Future First.” To find out more and how the project, visit and register. There are no

Learning and Skills Academy CIC’s managing director Tony Knaggs is interviewed by the BBC in Wellingborough

charges for the services as Digital Future First is partfunded by the European Social Fund. For more information about the Learning and Skills Academy CIC visit

GRADE SUCCESS FOR COLLEGE Staff and students at Moulton College are celebrating a 99.8% pass rate for vocational exams sat this year. A total of 370 students sat 488 papers in Animal Welfare, Business, Land-based subjects and Sport and 67% achieved a merit or distinction grade. John O’Shea, vice principal, curriculum said: “These amazing results are testament to the hard work and resilience shown by all our students and staff through this difficult time.” The college is also celebrating excellent results for students who resat their GCSE English and maths exams in November. All students who do not achieve a grade 4 (C) in their GCSE English or maths while at school study these subjects alongside their main qualification at college. Moulton College students achieved a 99% pass rate in GCSE English and 100% pass rate in GCSE maths with 52% and 23% of students achieving higher grades.

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WE’RE NOT NEW AND WE’VE NEVER BEEN NORMAL That’s the strapline from one of the adverts that Wilson Browne Solicitors ran, capturing the firm's spirit perfectly. For a firm with a bear as a mascot and a #SingingSolicitor they undoubtedly break the mould when it comes to showing the human side to the legal world. There’s no stuffiness or ‘BEING GOOD old fashioned stereotypes of what a solicitor is like – the firm is most definitely made up of LAWYERS IS A people with their very own character. GIVEN – WHAT Everyone that works there is clear that the firm is about much more than one person, MATTERS ARE one small management group, one team, and CLIENTS’ the firm is keen that no one person takes centre stage. When asked for his view, Wayne Jenkins, Business Development & Marketing Director, commented: “It’s hard to do these type of articles without sounding like a thinly veiled sales pitch, or for it to be very selfserving and self-congratulatory, so let’s get the buzzwords out of the way first… ‘award winning’ or ‘multi-award winning’…tick, ‘nominated for…’…tick, ‘proud to support…’…tick, ‘one-stop shop’…tick, ‘transformative, agile, pivot’…tick.” Kevin Rogers, Chairman of the Board and also President of the Northamptonshire Chamber, adds: “Where do we start? There’s no single stand-out thing; no single big deal; no single initiative that we would choose to focus on. Like any business worth its salt, we know that business is about doing the basic things well and doing them consistently well. That includes everything from managing the profile of the firm, to how it delivers on the needs of its clients, and how it supports and develops people.” From the moment the world changed, the firm was able to carry on (almost) as normal thanks to the ICT team's efforts, getting everyone up and running in a matter of days, with remote working. From there, everything else flowed. The ability to deliver the same high standards has seen the firm gain more Legal 500 entries than ever before – something the firm is proud of, given the Legal 500 is a who’s who of the legal world. Being good lawyers is a given – what matters are clients. The firm went out of its way to ensure that clients were always supported; they always had access to a solicitor remotely or face-to-face. It’s that kind of commitment that ultimately led to a Feefo Platinum ‘Trusted Service’ award for service – the highest possible. Clients really appreciate the little touches that the firm delivers – from cake during lockdown; to bonfire night treats to try and compensate for the lack of any real celebration; to festive gingerbread men…all designed to add a little cheer. Keeping her foot firmly on the accelerator is Jennie Jahina, Employment Partner. As well as looking after and advising clients on a constant flow of changing legislation during lockdown and furlough, she has found time to share her knowledge with businesses via the coronavirus Hub (most probably the first and most used such resource in the region); has written a tremendous amount of content for publication; and found time to give updates to the CIPD (Chartered Institute Of Personnel & Development) and hireful (Chamber member). 30 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

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The award winning commercial law team – looking after the county’s businesses

FACTFILE: WILSON BROWNE SOLICITORS COMPANY BACKGROUND: Nearly 200 years old in various guises, the firm delivers a broad range of legal services to businesses and individuals. Having grown to a business employing over 160 employees with six offices. The firm is proud of its involvement in the community and its close links to business, education, the arts and sport.

COMPANY DESCRIPTION: We cover all areas of Private Client and Commercial law, having offices in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, operating from Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough and Leicester. There’s a complete range of legal solutions for individuals and businesses, transparent costs, legal expertise and great client service. We have been the Northamptonshire Law Society Large Law Firm Of The Year multiple times; shortlisted for the UK Law Society ‘Excellence’ awards several times and achieved two “Highly Commended” awards; have a number of teams and lawyers in the Legal 500 (a who’s who of the legal world) and are regularly called upon by local media to give insightful commentary regarding important legal matters.



ABOVE: Neelam Maher and Vicki Pearce have both recently been promoted in the Private Client Team OPPOSITE LEFT: Kevin Rogers, Chairman of the Board

Kevin Rogers and Tom Warrender quickly embraced LinkedIn Local Northants, supported by the (award-winning!) Marketing Team (Naomi Edwards and Cathy Barry). It was no surprise to see so many faces from the Chamber actively participating and a few helping by hosting the virtual breakout rooms. You’d think that with everything else going on in the world, ‘growth’ would be a word that didn’t have much place in the current vocabulary, but nothing could be further from the truth. The firm currently has 10 vacancies on its website as part of its organic growth; Neelam Maher and Vicki Pearce were promoted to ‘Participating Partner’. Vicki has been with the firm since 2008; Neelam since 2007, and both have established themselves as valued members of the private client team, delivering expert advice on Wills, Trusts, and other related issues for individuals, including business owners.

• £45m of commercial litigation claims • 260 businesses bought, sold or advised • Advised on commercial land worth £44m inc 217 land acquisition plots • 2,500 Wills & Trusts written including business Will and Business LPAs • …and a bear as a mascot: a very big bear!

As it is an Olympic year, the firm is planning an event featuring some ex-Olympians and (all being well) the Northamptonshire 5K race series will once again be underway. Despite restrictions, there will be motorcycle racing in some form, and the firm continues its sponsorship of Abbz Thomas. Last but not least, there’s Wilson Bear. Naomi Edwards from the Marketing Team (and some say, mum of Wilson Bear!) commented: “The way people have taken to Wilson Bear is incredible. It seems that everybody wants a Wilson cub! We always try to show that we are professional but down to earth and friendly – I think we succeed.” In the space available, we can only scratch the surface of the firm’s achievements and what is essential is to look to the future. With that in mind, the firm eagerly awaits the Chamber annual awards launch, where it is again the headline sponsor. JUNE/JULY 2021 inbusiness 31

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Follow us on Twitter @NorthantsCoC Follow #ChamberTraining for the latest updates Follow #ChamberEvents for the latest updates


9 June (one-day) Member £229 + VAT Non-member £299 + VAT Most of us have at least one person in our life whom we cannot communicate as effectively with as we would wish to. When this happens, it stops us achieving our own goals, our team goals, and can leave us feeling inadequate, stressed, and angry. This course identifies the behaviour patterns that lead to these situations. It is a pragmatic course, built around action learning, enabling individuals to apply their own answers to their own communication goals.


14 July (half-day) Member £140 + VAT Non-member £180 + VAT We all know how hard it can be to handle difficult people. With many organisations automating their processes and procedures, customers are even more likely to become difficult when they finally get through to a person. They take their frustration out on the poor staff member who answers the phone, email, the tweet, or the Facebook post, and make it challenging for most staff to stay calm and deliver the level of service needed. This course teaches staff how to stay calm and deliver the level of service needed.


24 June (one-day) Member £229 + VAT Non-member £299 + VAT This course is for appointed persons, nominated First Aiders and those needing refresher training. Upon completion, participants will be able to take on the role of Emergency First Aider in the workplace. This course teaches the appropriate level of first aid required in low-risk businesses under the HSE 1981 legislation, delivered in line with the First Aid Industry Body (FAIB). 32 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021


16 July (half-day) Member £140 + VAT Non-member £180 + VAT This half-day course provides learners with the knowledge to identify suspected mental health conditions and the skills to start a conversation and be able to signpost the person towards professional help.


10 June (one-day) Member £299 + VAT Non-member £369 + VAT This course provides an overview of the end-to-end import process and reviews all the areas that would be applicable to a new supplier, to include country and supplier risk,

payment risk etc. It will review documentation requirements and how to ensure goods are imported successfully to include duty payments and an overview of the available Special Procedures.


15 June (one-day) Member £299 + VAT Non-member £369 + VAT This course is suitable for those working in International Trade who are involved in the management and presentation of Letters of Credit. The course provides an overview of all methods of payment when trading internationally to include the risks and benefits involved.


1 July (half-day)


Member £299 + VAT Non-member £369 + VAT Learn about the new Incoterm Delivery at Place Unloaded (DPU) – changed from Delivered at Terminal (DAT). We will guide you through what changes there will be of the current Incoterms, and how it will impact on your process and procedures. Post-Brexit International Trade Support training funding is available for SMEs. Visit:


8 June (half-day) Member £140 + VAT Non-member £180 + VAT This course is designed for leaders who need to manage a team or group of individuals remotely and ensure business continuity and engagement.

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TRAINING COURSES All Chamber training courses are currently delivered virtually in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions. Call the Training Team for more details on 01604 490490 or email

training for established and newly appointed supervisory staff and is vital training for anyone about to become a supervisor.


13 July (one-day) Member £229 + VAT Non-member £299 + VAT Take a day to reassess the purpose of your role and how to achieve the key tasks. Look at ways to manage the less productive tasks and then pick up lots of tips and techniques to help make things run more smoothly. Take away a list of practical tasks and habit changes that you know will make a difference to the way you work.



29 & 30 June (two-day) Member £458 + VAT Non-member £598 + VAT To give staff who have recently been employed in a position of a trainer, or who are expected to train other staff in any areas such as procedures, skills, or other core functions such as customer service or health and safety, the ability and confidence to deliver first class training.


6 & 7 July (two-day) Member £458 + VAT Non-member £598 + VAT The transition from team member to team leader is one of the most challenging. These pragmatic workshops teach you how to increase work output, improve the quality of work and achieve greater flexibility in working. It is essential

8 July (one-day) Member £229 + VAT Non-member £299 + VAT An effective telesales call is not just about picking up the phone and ‘going for it’. To win business and achieve your call objectives it needs to capture your prospect’s attention, immediately build credibility and quickly develop a relationship. This workshop is designed to show you how to do this and by the end of the day the delegate will have the ability to make effective calls to achieve the desired outcome, sales or appointment.


20 July (half-day) Member £140 + VAT Non-member £180 + VAT This workshop is designed for anyone looking to use LinkedIn more effectively for themselves and their business. Learn how to market yourself, increase your visibility and reputation and develop new business using the features of this fantastic social media platform.

The CHAMBER EVENTS TEAM has worked hard to adapt and deliver a new format of events, increasing the range and availability of our schedule.

EVENT IN FOCUS The Chamber is delighted to launch Men’s Health Week from 14 to 18 June 2021, proudly sponsored by The Health Hub. Everybody's mental health has been challenged by the lockdowns and insecurities of the last year and it's not over. As we emerge from what we hope will be the worst of the pandemic, questions, concerns and anxieties remain. How do we move forward? Even before the pandemic, men's mental health was a cause for concern. There is a grave disparity in the high number of men who die from suicide and the low number of men who seek treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Northamptonshire Chamber, and its sister Chamber in Milton Keynes, are delighted to welcome guest speakers and hosts for an engaging and educational series of Men’s Health webinars as we look to discuss topics and raise awareness surrounding men’s health. We are thrilled to be joined by: • Chamber Platinum Partner, Wilson Browne Solicitors’ Jennie Jahina – Employment Partner • hireful’s Adrian McDonagh and Adelle Shawflach from The Sweet Potato Consultancy • Conor O’Sullivan from O’Sullivan Financial Planning • Dominic Greenwood from HR Solutions • Pendragon Protect’s Adam Kaplan • James Gage from Career Catapult • Chris Holmes from Northamptonshire Sport. We will finish the week with a face-to-face session held by health specialists from headline sponsor, The Health Hub, and wind down networking at Health Hub’s headquarters. Details of this event will be sent closer to the date in line with the Government’s Roadmap. The Health Hub’s CEO Carl Raven said: “Supporting the Chamber to help run the Men's Health Week was a no-brainer for me having spent the last two years trying to build a business platform that helps identify and support individuals to achieve a healthier and happier life.”



Date: Time:

Date: Time:

Tuesday 8 June 12pm-1pm


Monday 14 – Friday 18 June


Wednesday 23 June 10am-11.15am

Tuesday 29 June 11am-12.15pm (Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Chambers)


Wednesday 30 June 3.30pm-4.30pm


Wednesday 21 July 10am-11.15am

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Open courses and bespoke training sessions on all Microsoft packages at all levels are available. Call the Chamber’s Training Team on 01604 490490 for details.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL Look out for our new YouTube channel entitled ‘NN & MK Chambers of Commerce’ which allows our subscribers to watch back ChamberLive events so you never have to miss out!

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MEMBERZONE Latest news from NORTHAMPTONSHIRE CHAMBER MEMBERS including award wins, relocations, appointments, new contracts, member profiles, mergers, company expansion plans, sponsorship deals and business success stories

Austin Howsam prepares another culinary creation

DISTINCTION FOR STUDENT A Northampton College student has become the first person to ever be awarded a Gold Award with Distinction at the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, with judges deciding that Gold alone ‘simply wasn’t enough’. Austin Howsam, who is studying Level 3 patisserie and confectionery at Booth Lane, was named the winner of the College Student of the Year category at the awards, having impressed a panel of experts with his creativity and kitchen skills. The ambitious young chef, who has already enjoyed experiences with the award-winning Burnt Lemon Chefs and spent time in the kitchens at The Spencer Arms in Chapel Brampton, launched his own company Cheeky Chomp with his girlfriend last year and has grown it throughout lockdown, with a loyal following on social media. He said: “All our products are handcrafted from a domestic kitchen. We offer a range of services from cakes and bakes, platters for birthdays, conferences and any other special occasion, to personalised birthday cakes or afternoon teas. “Northampton College has been really helpful over lockdown as well, providing us with work and keeping us busy, refining our skills. “This award will be straight on my CV and it’ll be there for future employees to see and hopefully it’ll give me good representation.” A range of culinary arts courses are available to study at Northampton College, with former students including the Michelin-starred Adam Grey, Richard Branson’s former personal chef Simon Dyer and Danny Tompkins, a former winner of the Northamptonshire Chef of the Year award.




Lee and Lorraine Lewis delivering gifts with Macmillan Information Assistant Lourdes Longalong

Award-winning charity The Lewis Foundation has reached its fifth birthday. The charity was founded by Lorraine and Lee Lewis in April 2016 after Lee’s mum Janice was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Janice spent several years being treated for cancer at Northampton General Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary and during that time they realised how tough it was for patients going through treatment alone. Lorraine and Lee used to buy gifts, such as magazines, sweets and toiletries, to give to cancer patients when visiting Janice in hospital and would spend time with people. Noticing the difference this made, it inspired them to launch The Lewis Foundation at Northampton General Hospital. The charity provides a choice of gifts such as puzzle books, pocket radios and blankets to patients for free and visits from volunteers. The charity provides about 2,000 gifts per month to 14 hospitals in the Midlands. To date

it has given away 66,850 gifts to support adult cancer patients. It has also won 19 awards, including the British Citizen’s Award, Points of Light Award awarded by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and The Independent Newspaper Happy List 2020. Lee explained: “After seeing my mum go through cancer, it made me realise how hard it was for people not only physically but also mentally and financially. “People spend so much time in hospital having treatment. My wife and I wanted to bring happiness to cancer patients. We wanted to help stop boredom and loneliness.” The charity is funded through fundraising and donations. To make a donation visit or call 01604 532373. Businesses that want to sponsor gift packs or support the charity in other ways can email JUNE/JULY 2021 inbusiness 35

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INTERNATIONAL EXPERT SETS UP UK OFFICES An organisation that launched in Barcelona nearly two decades ago to provide industrial sourcing from China has set up a UK subsidiary, S3UK Ltd, with offices in London and Northampton. During the past 17 years, the S³ Group has extended to other markets and activities, including market development and export services as well as training in cross-cultural relations and international business. It has established itself as a partner of excellence for clients, with an extensive range of internationalisation services from offices in Barcelona, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and now the UK. One of the directors is Northamptonshire deputy lieutenant Adrian Pryce (pictured, inset), who is well-known as an

associate professor and deputy director of the China and Emerging Economies Centre at the University of Northampton. Adrian has helped old MBA friend, S³ founder and CEO Tom Van der Heyden, set up the UK subsidiary. Adrian said: “With years of experience and a presence in Hong Kong and mainland China, S³ is a China specialist. While relations with China are somewhat strained at the moment, in the long run it is expected that British businesses will continue their fast growth in trade with one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. “S³ also works in other countries, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, especially for products like PPE nitrile gloves, as these countries have the rubber plantations to produce the quantities now being

S³ Group team members, from left: Tom Van der Heyden, CEO; Sarah Zhi, China manager; Montse Botinas, logistics manager; and Miguel Angel Burges, operations manager

demanded as a result of the Covid19 crisis. “S³ has also been asked to source glass jars, line paint, paint dispersal canisters, mattress components, fencing tools, emotorbikes, speciality components for medical cameras and solar energy installations.”

Tom added: “The value of S³ is in the supplier selection and negotiation, quality assurance and logistics management. We take the risk out of doing business with Asia.” Visit: Email: Call: 0203 961 0055

Heather Shipton (right) with managing director Wendy Hayward

LONG-STANDING EMPLOYEE PRAISED When Heather Shipton joined the Aircare team in 1999, she never imagined she would still be working for the same company over 20 years later. Over the years, Heather has been a true ambassador for Aircare which is known for its wealth of experience in the compressed air and vacuum industries. When Heather joined in October 1999, Aircare was located in Darwin Court, Corby, a far cry from the custom-built premises it now occupies in Crucible Road. Working alongside colleagues and close friends, Sue Bennett and Wendy Hayward, they were an 36 inbusiness JUNE/JULY 2021

intrinsic part of the company’s growth. In 2003 Heather was promoted to sales ledger and purchase ledger manager and she remains in this trusted role today. Managing director Wendy Hayward said: “Heather has grown with Aircare as the business has developed. Heather has been a trusted employee and friend to our family for over 20 years. She’s a true ambassador for Aircare, always the first volunteer at our charity fundraising events and staff social gatherings. More recently, Heather has been a great support through the challenges of Covid-19. We can’t thank her enough.”

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NAME: Kerry Bate COMPANY: Polka Dot Events Management Ltd

JOB TITLE: Events manager WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANISATION DO? We plan, host and execute events, catering for all budgets and all size events. Not only do we plan our own events we work with our clients to bring their vision to life, removing all the stress leaving them to enjoy their event.

HOW DID IT ALL START? It started in 2018 after a family bereavement and re-evaluating how short life is to not be doing something you are truly passionate about and love.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR? Kettering Business Awards was my very first event that I organised through Polka Dot Events. Even though I had a lot of support, I worked my magic to bring it to life – it was a huge success, exceeded all expectations and truly kickstarted the Polka Dot Portfolio.

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT? The thousand things going around my head that I need and want to do and the bright ideas I always have in the middle of the night.

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST IN YOUR JOB? The amazing relationships I’ve built up with people I didn’t know less than two years ago. The small business community really is supportive.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST RISK YOU’VE EVER TAKEN – AND DID IT WORK? Leaving an employed job to start alone. It’s been a challenge – even more so during the pandemic – but I wouldn’t change a thing. Every day is a learning day and makes me stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT? Making mistakes is ok. Follow your instinct and don’t second guess yourself – go for things as it’s a great way to learn.

WHICH BUSINESS PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? I admire and respect any business person who takes the step to do it alone. It’s not easy, it can be lonely, it pushes you to your limits, so my full admiration and respect to all that try.

WHAT EXCITING PROJECTS IS YOUR ORGANISATION WORKING ON? After over a year of being on hold, we have four events coming up from July onwards and I’m really excited to be getting back to planning them.

WHAT MADE YOUR ORGANISATION JOIN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE CHAMBER? I joined the Chamber to be part of a supportive business community. I’ve made some great connections through the Chamber who have been a strength throughout the pandemic. Visit: Call: 01536 860710 Email:

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LANDOWNER JOINS THE GBC Courteenhall Farms has recently become a member of the Good Business Charter (GBC) which recognises and encourages good practice across all areas of business. Courteenhall Farms’ managing partner, Johnny Wake, has been following the career of entrepreneur and GBC founder Julian Richer for many years, and in 2020 the arable operation embarked on the GBC selfaccreditation process. Johnny said: “There are 10 components to commit to, which include paying suppliers on time, maintaining employee well-being and demonstrating environmental responsibility. While we were mindful of many of these already, having to prove we were adhering to them put us in a position where we needed to implement policies and ideas that had previously hovered on our to do list.” The list of GBC members is diverse, but Courteenhall Farms is the first landowner to join. Landowners are in a unique position of being able to look

forward beyond 50 years and Courteenhall Farms wanted to apply the same long-term thinking to its business practices. ‘OUR CORE Johnny VALUES INCLUDE added: “Our SUSTAINABILITY, core values INNOVATION include sustainability, AND HIGH innovation and ’ STANDARDS high standards, and we can only achieve these if we commit to the people that are instrumental in getting us there: our team members, suppliers and customers. “The GBC is encouraging and forward thinking in assisting businesses of all shapes and sizes to become members and we look forward to the benefits of being part of their community.” To find out more about Courteenhall Farms visit or to learn about GBC go to

Johnny Wake

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MEMBER BENEFITS CHAMBER FX Exclusive foreign exchange member package offering free health check, low transfer fees and free account opening. Key benefits include bankbeating exchange rates.

NAME: Emily Ball COMPANY: Hawsons Chartered Accountants JOB TITLE: Corporate Services Manager

CHAMBER HEALTH PLAN Provided by Westfield Health, Chamber Primary Health Plan can give members cover from just £5.57 per employee, per month.

CHAMBER AA Chamber members can save up to 63% on roadside assistance for business vehicles in a scheme provided by The AA.

BACKGROUND – TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF I joined Hawsons in 2013 after graduating from the University of Nottingham with a Chemistry degree. I realised that whilst I loved the analysis and the problem solving, I didn’t want to work in a lab, which is where accountancy came in! I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2016 and became a manager in 2017, with my own portfolio of clients who I manage on a day-to-day basis. WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE? I have a portfolio of clients I work with to provide accountancy, audit and taxation services, in addition to more specialist and ad-hoc assistance and advice. I look after several of our charity clients and all of our solicitors, as well as a variety of ownermanaged businesses and corporate clients. As part of a team of managers, I also supervise staff completing client-facing work, and run various internal training sessions for the team. WHY DID YOU JOIN NEXT GENERATION CHAMBER? To get to know other young professionals and business people in the area and to take part in the CPD sessions to help with my ongoing development in business. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE NEXT GENERATION CHAMBER EVENT? I love taking part in the CPD sessions, and attended

an in-person session pre-lockdown about communication styles and understanding how to communicate effectively with others that was fascinating. More recently, the sandwich socials are a great way to get to know people better, have a laugh and break up the day when working from home! WHICH NEXT GENERATION CHAMBER MEMBER DO YOU ADMIRE? Hannah Brady, of The Brady Creative, is an inspiration. She set up her own business during a global pandemic and is doing really well with it. She isn’t afraid to confront the ‘real’ topics, and encourages others to do the same, especially with her engaging posts on LinkedIn. Hannah has made me - and I’m sure lots of others too - feel like it’s okay not to be okay 100% of the time, but still be doing your very best! WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED FROM NEXT GENERATION CHAMBER? It’s so hard to pick just one thing! I’ve learnt a lot from the various CPD sessions, which focus on both professional and personal development, but especially the softer skills sessions such as communication styles and self-care. LinkedIn:

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT KICKSTART SCHEME The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of longterm unemployment. Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021. Northamptonshire Chamber and its sister Chamber in Milton Keynes are proud to support the Kickstart Scheme as an approved Gateway in creating a wealth of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the county. Northamptonshire Chamber is collating business responses and acting as an intermediary if your organisation would like to enter into the scheme.

NEXT GENERATION CHAMBER PATRONS For more information, and an expression of interest form, email

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NEWMEMBERS Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome its NEW MEMBERS. Membership offers your business a whole host of support services and ways to connect and network with other companies. Contact the Chamber membership team on 01604 490490 Beccy Hurrell Voice & Arts Limited KETTERING 07786 544087 Providing high quality arts training to all members of society, supporting individuals’ personal and artistic goals Career Catapult Ltd NORTHAMPTON 07740 371586 Innovative and dynamic eLearning program to support the unemployed back into work and businesses making redundancies with modules on various topics and CV writing Centre for Sustainable Business Practices (CSBP) NORTHAMPTON 01604 735500 earch-centres/centre-for-sustainablebusiness-practices/centre-forsustainable-business-staff-andstudents/csbp-external-associates/ CSBP was established in 2016 and has been home to active researchers within the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Northampton Currencytransfer LONDON 0207 096 1036 Simplify your foreign exchange by having complete transparency on price and having a panel of regulated payment provides quoting for your business EFM Portfolio Finance Directors NORTHAMPTON 07967 176276 EFM is a provider of portfolio finance director services, represented in the Northampton and Milton Keynes area by Tony Williams and Robin Draper Giggabox Limited BUCKINGHAM 01280 7355050 Production and delivery of virtual and hybrid events Goldings Communications Ltd NORTHAMPTON 07900 245070 Goldings Communications are PR specialists, delivering results-driven storytelling and multi-channel content creation with a strategic purpose

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H P Tyres Ltd DAVENTRY 01327 301887 HP Tyres are Goodyear Racing and Dunlop Motorsport’s largest UK race tyre dealers, based in Daventry

My-Fab LONDON 020 8066 4604 My-Fab use a controlled factory environment to manufacture off-site modules

Real Small Business Solutions Ltd NORTHAMPTON 01604 413430 Real Small Business Solutions offer digital marketing excellence to local businesses

Imtex Technologies Ltd TOWCESTER 01327 229600 Imtex Technologies are an IT managed service provider based in Towcester, providing clients with IT, comms, and cloud solutions for over 20 years

National College for Motorsport TOWCESTER 01536 419580 The National College for Motorsport was established in 2003 as a centre for vocational excellence for motorsport and offers race technician training

T Vend Ltd MILTON KEYNES 0800 246 1806 With a collection of reputable suppliers and through utilising innovative technology, T-Vend provides vending machine options to meet all industry requirements

Link Business Finance NORTHAMPTON 07377 378564 Business finance brokerage based in Northamptonshire, specialising in all aspects of business from asset finance, commercial loans, invoice finance and car finance Mediation MK CENTRAL MILTON KEYNES 01908 231293 Registered charity offering mediation which covers: family, commercial and community

Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust NORTHAMPTON 01536 480397 NHFT provides a range of NHS services including mental health, community, children's, and speciality Paul Maher (Commercial Finance Professional) NORTHAMPTON 07725 585552 Project management, systems implementation, audits, month end improvements, budgeting, forecasting, cost saving, team development and key stakeholder relationship-building

TGS Transport Ltd KETTERING 07814 125493 TGS Transport Ltd is a family-run business based in Northamptonshire covering same day collections and deliveries throughout the UK and Europe The Gun Cupboard and Country Clothing Ltd WELLINGBOROUGH 01933 225667 Your local retailer to buy great British style. A traditional store with a contemporary approach to looking after customers

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