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THE ERGONOMIC ACADEMY Local hero company Posturite provides ergonomic solutions for the workplace


THE SUSSEX BUSINESS AWARDS The twenty ямБfth Sussex Business Awards 2013 are now open for business


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For a free demo visit

0844 500 8000 Follow us @TeamCrunch 6

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SBT Welcome Lee Mansfield, Managing Director/ Publisher

Laura Knight, Editor

Samantha Sanderson, Commercial Business Manager

Graham Carn, Financial Editor

Maarten Hoffmann, Motoring Correspondent

Tim Cobb, Contributing Feature Writer

“We take a closer look at a number of Sussex enterprises that are innovating, growing and bringing something exciting to the table”

“Make hay whilst the sun shines” - an old idiom that is particularly apt for Sussex, given the area’s agricultural roots. The sun has indeed been shining and Sussex businesses have been making the most of the opportunities open to them weather related or otherwise - resulting in a lift to the region’s business figures and spirits. Hay’s not an emphasis for many these days, but we were fascinated to meet Hoffmann and Rathbone, who are using Sussex’ unique combination of local influences including geography and demographic to develop their boutique wine offering and put England right up there with Champagne on the map of the world’s sparkling wines. Researching restaurants to recommend you for our Working Lunch feature is rarely a hardship, but we found a true gem in the form of new Eastbourne eatery La Cantina. In the spirit of making hay whilst the sun shines, we recommend a trip whilst we still have the gorgeous weather to complement the Mediterranean tastes whilst you make the most of the restaurant’s suntrap garden! You won’t be sorry that you did. As usual, we have a comprehensive insight into all things current and financial from our Finance Editor, Graham Carn; we take a closer look at a number of Sussex enterprises that are innovating, growing and bringing something exciting to the table and this issue we present an interesting guide to quelling upset customers. Confidence and positive thinking can lead us away from having contingency plans in place for when things don’t go as well as planned, so this summary could be useful to have on hand in case a response to such a situation is ever needed. As you’re reading the issue, don’t forget to start thinking about your nominations for the Sussex Business Awards! They are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the success, talent and hard work of the county’s business community and we look forward to seeing some SBT readers’ businesses commended!

Laura Knight Editor 5

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Contents SBT Issue 371








THE ERGONOMIC ACADEMY Local hero company Posturite provides ergonomic solutions for the workplace


THE SUSSEX BUSINESS AWARDS The twenty fifth Sussex Business Awards 2013 are now open for business


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Ian Fletcher-Price from Posutrite

Sussex Business Times Managing Director/Publisher: Lee Mansfield Commercial Director: Simon Skinner Commercial Business Manager: Luke Mould Editor: Laura Knight Financial Editor Graham Carn Subscriptions Design: Harriet Weston Media Director Linda Grace Accounts: Clare Fermor/Amelia Wellings Published by LMG SE LTD Park View House 19 The Avenue, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3YD 01323 411 601 Printed by Gemini Press, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 6NZ All material in this publication is strictly copyright and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. The views expressed in Sussex Business Times Magazine do not necessarily represent the view of Life Media Group LTD. Every care is taken in compiling the contents but the publishers of Sussex Business Times Magazine assume no responsibility for any damage, loss or injury arising from the participation in any offers, competitions or advertisement contained within Sussex Business Times Magazine. All prices featured in Sussex Business Times Magazine are correct at the time of going to press. Copyright Life Media Group LTD 2013 ©

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Welcome Roll up roll up for another great issue of SBT – your essential guide to business brilliance in Sussex.

Spending It! Must-have equipment, innovative gadgetry and cool toys for the Sussex professional.

The Ergonomic Academy Local hero company Posturite provides ergonomic solutions for the workplace

Finance Graham Carn writes a financial round-up in five linked articles

Sussex Business Awards 2013 The twenty fifth Sussex Business Awards 2013 are now open for business and it is the one that everyone wants to win!

Hoffmann and Rathbone Winery Meet the experts putting Sussex wines on the map

Waer Systems How a small software company on the south coast provides the vital cog in the wheels of some of the world’s biggest businesses

Damage Limitation 5 ways to quell unhappy customers

Motoring Up close and personal with the Mercedes A Class and the Kia Sorento.

SBT Ask the Experts Your questioned answered by those in the know locally.

Made In Susex TicketMedia: SBT chats with Jeremy Burbidge, director of Ticketmedia


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Your Data is our Business

The Data Factory

Change is inevitable. Every year in the UK:

• 5.7 million company and individual details will change. • 500,000 addresses are changed by Royal Mail. • 250,000 people sign up to The Mailing Preference Service. • 6 million people move home. Consider the cost, both in monetary and reputation terms, of continuing to send information to out of date contacts.

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That’s where The Data Factory can assist. We can: • Offer you a FREE non-obligatory audit of your database. • Remove duplicate records, populate partial address fields and identify companies who have relocated or ceased trading. • Provide a comprehensive service for your entire campaign, from Data Capture to Fulfilment, Production, Direct Mail and Analysis, offering the most cost-effective solution at a fraction of the price of multiple outsourcing. • Demonstrate through our Data Mining systems what information you hold and illustrate to you how best to generate value from it. • Undertake laser personalisation of Direct Mail, reinforcing your relationship with your customers. • Pass on discounted distribution rates negotiated with postal service providers, for both UK and Overseas markets.

Your database is an essential tool to your business let us ensure it’s up to the job

For more information visit Tel: 01444 245415 Email:

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SBT S SBT SBT No.1 for busin


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How Nikwax prospers when it’s pouring down




Shout it Out! Think Like + PAGE 18


We meet a coffee supplier who’s on a high

Why 2013 could begin to banish the blues


a Winner Make a Splash BRIGHTON’S 10 easy ways to guarantee your business is seen and heard PAGE 12


Morgan Sindall has successfully delivered an iconic leisure centre on the south coast for Worthing PAGE 54

How to get the cash

BY GEORGE! We lunch at the George in Rye PAGE 28 WE’VE GOT EVERYTHING COVERED Mobile accessories experts Proporta tell us how PAGE 32 GROWTH FORECAST: Mother and daughter make business bloom PAGE 62


First Sussex, now the world for Posturite PAGE 12

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03/07/2013 10:52


Kevin Byrne, Sussex Businessperson of the year, tells you how + tips and advice from two more award winners! PAGE 13

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TEST DRIVE: BMW M6 Convertible PAGE 18 WORKING LUNCH: The Curlew, Bodiam PAGE 29 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY: First stop, Worthing… PAGE 44

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09/05/2013 16:09



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On the Move

Now that everything’s mobile, time spent travelling needn’t be time wasted. So take advantage and branch outside of the office without ever leaving your comfort zone. Who knows what you’ll discover? GLASSES Eye-spec’s collections of folding glasses are the perfect eyewear accessory for executives in the fast lane. Focusing on great design and luxury. The glasses fold up, fitting neatly into a pocket-size case measuring just shorter than a credit card! Eye-spec, £18.95.

CHARGER This handy product acts as your emergency battery for just about anything that can be USB powered, allowing you to quickly recharge your device again and again. Plug your gadget into the USB TurboCharger’s standard USB port and it’ll keep it juiced up and ready to go. Proporta, £54.95.

WATCH This Braun men’s watch from the Prestige range has a sleek black dial with a digital display, which uses the patented EasySkroll v2.0 operating system. It also features an LCD with a LED backlit, an energy saving motion detector and special K1 hardened glass. Braun, £450.

SPEAKER The Libratone Zipp is a compact and portable speaker with all-new PlayDirect technology. It allows users to take wireless high-end sounds outside, eliminating the need to be close to a Wi-Fi connection. Available from Apple with 1 cover £329.99. Available from John Lewis, Dixons Travel with 3 covers £369.99. 9

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BLAZER This semi-formal blazer is 100% linen, single breasted two-button classicstyle sports jacket with traditional notched lapel, single breast pocket on left chest with contrast lined pocket bag which can be turned out to use as a pocket square. Luxuriously lined with blue tonal paisley print features two standard ticket pockets with fold-down flaps and four-button mock sleeve fastenings. High & Mighty, £180.

PHONE CASE The Barbour Samsung Galaxy S3 case collection is crafted from quilted material and leather by Proporta, in collaboration with this English heritage brand. Offering superb all-round protection and full functionality. You can ensure scratches and drops do not damage your phone so you can carry on with your day in confidence. Borbour, £39.95.

WALLET This finely detailed leather wallet is inspired by the upholstery of the famous Ferrari 250 SWB. It is expertly hand-stitched by master craftsmen with a quilted luxury exterior. The wallet has 12 credit card slots, currency compartment with divider, two receipt slots and ID compartment. GTO London, £255.

DOOR BELL Smartbel is the intelligent doorbell that prevents you from missing visitors to your home or business. The unique doorbell calls directly to your mobile phone or landline, allowing you to speak to visitors remotely before opening your door. Dorcom, £129.99.



This pocket-sized travel razor allows you to tame your facial hair when you’re on holiday or that all important business trip. You can power and charge it using the USB port. It comes with a spare micro foil guard. Go Travel, £15.99.

Elegantly designed inner ear headphones with deep bass sound generated by the Neodymium driver unit, while the one button integrated remote and microphone finally breaks down the platform barriers between iPhone, Blackberry and Android. JVC, £49.95.


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SMART WATCH Coming soon is the Sony SmartWatch 2, a second screen for your Android smartphone that, as well as enhancing existing phone functionality, offers unique new benefits. Combining form and function in a sleek design, it serves as a multi-functional watch, notifier, Android app interface and phone remote control, all-in-one. Sony, £120.

MONITORING SYSTEM The Proximo is an appenabled proximity monitoring system that empowers iPhone 5/4S owners to know where their smartphone, keys and valuables are at all times. Proximo delivers a unique way to track multiple valuables with a last-seen map pin-drop feature, an active proximity dashboard and extended battery life on both its fob and tag. Kensington, £49.99.



Jawbone ERA™ is the only Bluetooth® headset equipped with military-grade NoiseAssassin® 3.0, the latest version of Jawbone’s industry-first noise and wind cancelling technology. It also auto-adjusts inbound call volume and intelligibility to your environment. Jawbone, £99.99.

TripIt®, the leading mobile travel organiser from Concur®, makes it easy for millions of travelers to organise and share their trips. For even greater peace of mind while travelling, TripIt Pro acts like a personal travel assistant that keeps travellers in the know regarding flight status, alternate flights, and more. Concur, 69p from iTunes.

LAPTOP BAG This Jasper Conran Opulence Croc laptop bag is feminine and glamorous with a distinctly modern look and feel. Functional business piece means you can look great for any business meeting. Jasper Conran, £59.99. 11

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13/08/2013 10:14 Posturite Ltd The Mill, Berwick East Sussex BN26 6SZ T. 0845 345 0010 E.


Local hero company Posturite provides ergonomic solutions for the workplace to help employers to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and comply with Health and Safety obligations. Each issue, Posturite provide an important lesson that will help you to use workplace ergonomics to enhance your business.

Last month we introduced you to local entrepreneur Ian Fletcher Price and his Berwick based business Posturite. Posturite is the UK’s leading workplace ergonomics company, working with many of the UK’s leading businesses and organisations, helping them increase productivity and reduce staff absence. The productivity of a workforce is directly affected by their wellbeing. Stress and musculoskeletal disorders account for an overwhelmingly high proportion (40% +) of workplace absence – the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) says the following: “Everyone at work will probably need to take sick leave at some point during their working lives and in most cases this lasts only a few days. But long-term sickness absence can have devastating effects on the performance of your business and the health and wellbeing of your employees. The statistics are clear, sickness absence costs: • UK plc over £12 billion a year; • Employers £495 a year in direct costs for every worker employed. Indirect costs are probably considerably more Depressing reading for any business person.

discomfort and pain and even medically recognised conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you wanted more information, you can find a wealth of information and free advice sheets on both of Posturite’s websites, just go to: and You can even trial e-learning courses for free at or issue your staff with some of the free of charge learning resources that you will find– these helpful resources will explain clearly and visually how a workstation should be set up. It will also ensure that you know what you need to do to ensure that your workplace complies with the Health & Safety at Work Regulations. Alternatively, contact Posturite on 0845 345 0010 or at, they have a nationwide network of Assessors and Account Managers all of whom are experts in workstation set ups and musculoskeletal disorders.

Over the next three pages, part one in the series of our Ergonomics Academy, created in partnership with Posturite, will tell you how to protect your staff from some of the most common problems office workers encounter. These problems might seem trivial to some but to those who suffer with them, they can cause extreme

Find out more...


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USING IPADS AND TABLETS Using iPads and Tablets

Tips and advice for using iPads and tablet devices

Tips and advice for using iPads and tablet devices

Remember a tablet is a great portable device to use for short periods of time but for longer periods or for work requiring the input of information, a correctly set up workstation is the best option. Make sure you use the right tool for the job to ensure you are productive and working without compromising your health.

Advice points • When reading, use a stand or tilt the tablet to reduce the need for you to bend your head forward to read. • Whenever possible try to place the tablet on a surface rather than holding it. If you are using the on-screen keyboard for extended periods consider using a blue tooth external keyboard. • Use a light touch when using the screen it will be more efficient as well as preventing problems. • When typing or touching the screen regularly have the tablet flat or only slightly angled to ensure your wrists are not in awkward positions. • If you find you are leaning forwards to view the tablet, enlarge the image or text. • Keep your screen clean for good visibility and hygiene reasons. • Remember movement is really important, if you find yourself using a tablet intensively for more than 10-20 mins take a short break, stretch your hands, shoulders and neck and look into the distance to relax your eyes.

Due to the screen and keyboard being in the same place on a tablet – either your head is angled down or your arms are being held up – if extended periods of time are spent typing or inputting information, you will increase the risk of developing neck and upper limb conditions. 13 Posturite Ltd

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The Mill, Berwick East Sussex BN26 6SZ T. 0845 345 0010 E.

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Using iPads and Tablets DSEHelpful HELPFUL HINTS DSE Hints Tips using iPads and tablet devices Forand youradvice perfectfor workstation setup For your perfect workstation setup Remember a tablet is a great portable device to use for short periods of time but for longer periods or for Balanced work requiring head, the relaxed by ayour side set up workstation is the best inputArms of information, correctly not leaning forward option. Make sure you use the right tool for the job to ensure you are productive and working without compromising your health.

Advice points Screen approximately

Top of screen arms length from you about eye level • When reading, use a stand or tilt the tablet to reduce the need for you to bend your head forward to read. • Whenever possible try to place the tablet on a surface rather than holding it. If you are using the on-screen keyboard for extended periods consider using a blue tooth external keyboard. • Use a light touch when using the screen it will be more efficient as well as preventing problems. • When typing or touching the screen regularly have the tablet flat or only slightly angled to ensure yourAlways wrists remember to are not in awkward positions. move throughout • If you find you are leaning forwards to view theworking tablet, day your enlarge the image or text. to promote good health. • Keep your screen clean for good visibility and hygiene reasons. • Remember movement is really important, if you find yourself using a tablet intensively for more than 10-20 mins take a short break, stretch your hands, shoulders and neck and look into the distance to relax your eyes.

Due to the screen and keyboard being in the same place on a tablet – either your head is angled down or your arms are being held up – if extended periods of time are spent typing or inputting information, you will increase the risk of developing neck and upper limb conditions.

Sit back in chair ensuring good back support

Forearms parallel to desk

Feet flat on floor or on a foot rest

Space behind knee Posturite Ltd The Mill, Berwick Posturite Ltd East Sussex BN26 6SZ The Mill, Berwick T. 0845 345 0010 East Sussex BN26 6SZ E. T. 0845 345 0010 E.


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Sitting with back supported, slowly roll shoulders up and backwards in circular motion. Repeat 10 times.

Stretches for Back

Using iPads and T

Tips and advice for using iPads and tablet dev


Interlace fingers and lift arms above head, keeping elbows straight. Pressing arms back, slowly stretch to one side. Hold for slow count of 10. Repeat 3 – 5 times to each side.


Hold right arm with left hand just above elbow. Gently push elbow towards left shoulder until stretch is felt. Hold for slow count of 10. Repeat 3 – 5 times to each side.

Remember a tablet is a great portable device to use for short periods of time but for longer periods or for work requiring the input of information, a correctly set up workstation is the best option. Make sure you use the right tool for the job to ensure you are productive and working without compromising your health.


Interlace fingers and lift arms above head. Slowly lean backwards until stretch is felt. Hold for slow count of 10. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

Posturite Ltd The Mill, Berwick East Sussex BN26 6SZ T. 0845 345 0010 E.

Stretches for Leg and Ankle


Next Issue:

Slowly lift one leg, straightening knee. Hold for slow count of 10. Laptop helpful for Repeat 3 – 5 times with eachhints leg.

use with standard keyboards

Posturite are the UK’s leading workplace ergonomic experts, supplying a comprehensive range of comfort-enhancing and injury-preventing equipment across a host of brands. To see what a difference a healthy comfortable workforce can make for your business, get in touch: tel: 0845 345 0010 Lift ankle clear of floor. email: Alternately flex and extend ankle in a pumping action.


Repeat 10 times with each ankle. 15

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MDJ Services Limited Accountants Business Development Business Solutions MDJ Services is a well established accountancy practice serving Sussex and the South East • We offer a full range of accounting services • We work with new and established companies to help establish and grow successful enterprises • We are committed to providing a friendly and efficient service tailored to your needs at a reasonable cost • We are happy to offer a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to all new clients Our services include: • Statutory and annual accounts • Management accounts • Corporate tax • Personal tax • Company formations and services • Payroll • Construction industry scheme • Business plans • VAT • Business consultancy • Bookkeeping

Contact Us MDJ Services Limited Third Floor Map House 34-36 St Leonards Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 3UT Telephone: 01323 646477 Fax: 01323 646412 Email:

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Finance Round Up In five linked articles Graham Carn, Commercial editor, covers: The latest on the current SME appetite for lending, the importance of telling the truth when it comes to approaching your bank, the rise in SME confidence levels, if things are looking up are SME’s actually going to make it happen? and finally … for businesses with surplus cash wanting to invest and / or diversify, a look at opportunities within the Buy-To-Let market

Finance Insight

SME Appetite for Lending

Increasing numbers of small and mid-sized businesses avoid asking for funding because they think they are unlikely to receive any, a new report reveals. In the first quarter of 2013, 19% of SMEs met the definition of a “future would-be-seeker” in so much as if they applied for finance now they thought they would be unlikely to receive it, according to new research conducted by BDRC Continental - the UK’s largest independent research consultancy asked about the barriers that keep SMEs from applying for finance. 63% of respondents said they were reluctant to borrow money in the current economic climate – the highest level seen to date. Only 39% of SMEs were using external finance, the lowest level recorded, down from 50% in Q1 of 2012, and overall the use of “core” banking products, such as loans, overdrafts and credit cards, has fallen to 32%. Based on their behaviour in the previous 12 months, three-quarters of SMEs met the definition of a “happy non-seeker” of external finance. BDRC explains that people within this category

have not applied for (more) external finance in the 12 months prior to their investigation, and say that nothing stopped them from doing so. Indeed, 41% of all UK SMEs can be described as “permanent non-borrowers”, businesses that do not use external finance and show little inclination to do so in the future. The proportion of such businesses has increased steadily overtime. For those wanting to borrow, however, the awareness of government initiatives such as the Funding for Lending scheme has improved, and

some 18% of SME’s thought such schemes made it more likely they would apply for finance at some point. In respect of those businesses that had applied for finance but had been declined, the awareness of any appeals process remains low. Less than 25% of those declined for an overdraft and 9% of those declined for a loan said they were made aware of the appeals process by their bank. The few people who were aware had not appealed, citing lack of time and a feeling that it would not change the outcome. The survey continues to record lower 17

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“Credit underwriters will always do a thorough credit check and if you or your business has any chequered past it will come to light” success rates for smaller, younger SMEs and those with a worse than average external risk rating. First time applicants remain the least likely to be successful. Only 13% of first time overdraft applicants and 41% of first time loan applicants were successful. So, whilst we are seeing signs of SME’s retrenching in terms of their use of external finance and the increasing obstacle of the current economic climate for those wanting to seek finance, there are also some positive signs. Profitability and growth are being maintained, and awareness of the Funding for Lending scheme continues to grow – however, only a small minority of SMEs said such initiatives would encourage them to apply for finance.

Tell the Truth When Seeking Finance for your Business! Assuming you need to seek finance it is recognised the businesses can have good times and bad times. The question is, should you tell the banks or other lenders about the bad times too does it always pay to be honest? Let’s look at some very typical

scenarios: You have been running your business for a few years and in general it’s gone pretty well. There will always be some things that have gone better than others and, of course, you had a little bit of a dodgy time some months back …….. It could have been that one of your clients became a late payer or worse still went into administration before they paid a big invoice. It could be you lost an existing contract or a new bid on a major contract you were counting on. Perhaps your landlord unexpectedly served notice and you were lumped with a costly relocation, or you lost a key member of staff which proved disruptive - do any of these ring any bells? Clearly in business, even to good businesses, unpredictable negative things can sometimes happen and it doesn’t mean you, as a director, partner, or sole trader are any less capable of running your business well. However, whatever the iceberg that hit, it has left your cash flow feeling a bit squeezed and you need a finance solution. Now it’s decision time. Should you front up and reveal your troubled history with a lender?

Should you be embarrassed and do first impressions count? When it comes to applying for business finance, first impressions do, of course, matter. It’s important to put forward a considered and practical application for whatever finance you need backed up by your trading history and sensible forecasts – the story in figures about where you are and where you are going. It may be tempting to try to gloss over a historic problem, or an imminent one, and surely there’s no need to air all your dirty laundry straight away is there right? No, absolutely wrong! Sometimes I speak to business owners who try to cover up the truth when it comes to a blemish on their trading performance or credit record. Sometimes they’re cagey – perhaps omitting to mention the fact that a year or so ago they had to do a pre-pack! Sometimes they will stall and try to delay bad news – forever promising they’ll send in accounts in a few weeks when they’re finalised. And on very rare occasions sometimes you come across a business owner who has directly lied. It is one thing to present your information and request in the best possible light,to create the right impression, but it’s another entirely to omit, hide or not be honest about events or data. In dating terms it’s the difference between good lighting and a flattering outfit versus a picture from 10 years ago! You need to get it all out in the open! The truth is definitely out there! Sooner or later the truth will come out and both you and your business will look a safer bet if you’ve been honest from the start. Identifying, tackling and overcoming an unexpected problem can actually enhance your professional capability in lenders eyes - and add weight to your request. Also, why kid yourself and waste your time, as time is money. You’ll have wasted a lot of both if you’ve tried to hide ugly truths. On the credit front many lenders have very specific risk and lending criteria. It may be possible to get a long way down the process but eventually credit underwriters will always do a thorough credit check and if you or your business has any chequered past it will come to light. Owning up at the outset and explaining how a


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bad credit event occurred or adverse financial information happened may overcome the situation - provided there is a rational explanation and you have addressed the problem. If left unrevealed when it eventually comes to light it will stop proceedings either, for example, because the lenders credit policy doesn’t allow them to lend or even if their credit policy is comfortable with it your application will almost certainly be called to a halt as the lender will view the fact that you didn’t disclose material fact as untrustworthy behaviour, and this will be a red flag or deal breaker in the application process. If the event you are embarrassed about is non-credit related but has affected business performance then that will be picked up when your historic financial information, or current year MI, is studied. Those that assess credit applications are quite thorough individuals and will match ‘words and figures’ in any request before them. Make their life easy by explaining up front a blip in the numbers, which also allows you to explain it in a balanced way rather than being on the defensive when they identify it. If you do try to pull the wool over a lenders eyes and get found out other lenders will be able to see on your credit history that you’ve recently had credit searches but will be wondering why your finance application with one of their peers hadn’t gone through. That will put them on enquiry, making them more cautious when it comes to looking at your application and it is more likely again you will not get what you want! So the simple truth is to tell the truth – warts and all!

of a general air of optimism amongst business people. It may be because entrepreneurs and small businessmen are generally positive people; how else do they make a success of themselves in otherwise tough economic times ……or it may just be because we have turned a corner and things are really starting to look up? These sentiments are supported up by the Federation of Small Businesses’ latest quarterly index. The report says that confidence levels among small firms have risen to their highest in three years across all areas of the country and most sectors. Financial services appear to be the most confident, according to the study, but they are joined by the manufacturing and housing industries, sectors that suffer most in a tough economy. Let’s get back on the ground! It is not time to get the banners out and start planning a street party, there can be no complacency. We are still walking an economic tightrope but it is possible, just possible, that we can now see the other side - however, put one foot

wrong and we could come crashing down to the ground with no safety net available to catch us. In line with the SME appetite for lending article it is worth noting that the FSB’s report also highlighted a lack of credit remaining a concern to small businesses, with four in ten firms surveyed by them saying their applications for finance in the last quarter were turned down. This is supported by another report from Bibby Financial, which found that 77% of British businesses that had applied for funding in the last year were refused the amount they required. Despite these issues, there is a growing level of confidence that can only be good for business and has the ability to affect every level of financial decision making. The Bank of England, in its quarterly bulletin, launched an “uncertainty gauge”. This gauge is based on a number of factors such as market volatility, fears of unemployment and CBI survey evidence. It also uses press articles citing economic uncertainty.

“We are still walking an economic tightrope but it is possible, just possible, that we can now see the other side”

Confidence levels amongst small firms rise to highest level in three years. We are definitely on the right track..... Spending time talking to many small businesses I think I am in a fairly good position to gauge how they are feeling. I have covered this subject before because it is important for business activity however and I make no excuse to revisit. Although it is not universal it has to be said that there is now more 19

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Quartely Change to Confidence Index 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 -5 -10 -15

While appearing to put the ball of talking up the economy firmly in the court of journalists, for example “Good News Britain” in one daily ‘broadsheet’, it should encourage business owners to shout about their successes in the media, or wherever possible, and help the continual spread of confidence across the economy. Confidence breeds confidence which, in turn, generates strategies for growth. Many of the businesses I have spoken to recently are examples of this. They have started to grow again, and without necessarily the help of bank loans either. As I said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and certainly this is not a case of letting the good times roll just yet, but we are definitely heading on the right track.

If things are Looking up in the Economy and Businesses are Gearing up for Growth are SMEs Making things Happen So although a lot of people are still nervous about openly repeating the infamous “green shoots of recovery” line, first uttered by Norman Lamont during the 1991 recession, it appears that things are starting to look up for the economy. In that case I’m amongst the group of people confident enough to say we should now look forward and get ready for growth. I was always sceptical about the likelihood of the media hyped triple-

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dip recession and in fact, the on-going revision of the backward looking numbers that make up the GDP figures may eventually even put the double-dip recession in doubt. With world equity indexes at generally their highest levels since the financial crisis began in 2008, including the FTSE 100 Index being close to its all-time high of 6,390 achieved in December 1999, they are a further barometer of confidence and it would seem to indicate a growing consensus of a less risky trading environment. According to the CBI economic prospects are slowly improving and with business confidence on the up the CBI’s Director General, John Cridland, has joined the flag wavers for the economy saying the UK will go from flat lining into growth, when he unveiled the organisation’s quarterly growth forecast. The CBI has predicted growth of 3.3% in capital expenditure this year rising to 6.3% in 2014, which shows that firms are increasingly looking to the future and wanting to invest in their businesses. Although less scientific than the CBI’s quarterly report, my business litmus test is also showing growing amounts of positivity. Talking to “front line” businesses it seems to me there is a more general determination to make things happen. For the past few years, we have been playing a very tough game of poker. As a country we have kept our cards close to our chests but stuck to our guns, and not changed strategy. Now, as we are hopefully

“The CBI has predicted growth of 3.3% in capital expenditure this year rising to 6.3% in 2014, which shows that firms are increasing looking to the future” emerging from the deep uncertainty that was all around us, we should back our increasing confidence and start playing our investment hand, which will not be the same gamble it could have been 12 or 18 months ago.

The Buy-to-let Lending Market is Booming, Which Could be Good News for SMEs - to Earn Additional Income Right now, the property market is experiencing fluctuating fortunes around the UK. Prices for most properties in Sussex and the South East remain relatively high - which is positive news for property owners, although not so great for personal buyers! For businesses looking to buy commercial investment property, although there can be good deals around price and value obviously depends on what is needed, location, and of course demand. If the right commercial premises are found loan serviceability can often be seen as quite high, as loan repayment terms tend to be shorter and with lender break clauses often written into borrowing agreements there can be some uncertainty about committing to commercial lending. If putting money into property is however part of your business’s strategic thinking more focus is being turned towards the residential property market where there is greater flexibility on borrowing and rental demand is stronger.


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The residential property market is currently looking more attractive as increasing rental demand is being created by those that would otherwise be first time buyers - needing now to achieve either more income and / or deposit to satisfy lending criteria and get on the first rung of the property ladder. With property purchase immediately out of reach they turn to renting. As rental demand soars, so does the clamour for buy-to-let mortgages. Apart from the more reliable income, unlike buying a residential property with a normal mortgage, buy-to-let mortgages specifically allow mortgage holders to lease their property out and rent it, allowing regular monthly income through rent payments. Also the government’s Funding for Lending initiative is helping reduce borrowing interest costs, and many BTL lenders will also entertain interest only lending which in the personal residential and commercial sector has now very much scarcer availability. The buy-to-let boom is providing a significant boost to an increasing number of SME’s looking to become landlords, or to gain additional income from a better return on surplus cash they may have. “It is no surprise that buy-to-let is booming. Low interest rates are here to stay for at least a couple more years, meaning mortgage payments will stay low while savers suffer. The average savings yield is an

“The buy-to-let market is worth consideration where there are genuine surplus savings and it suits the business’s strategy to diversify in that way”

abysmal 1.09 %”, a spokesperson for said. “With rental yields upwards of six per cent, buy-to-let can look like a smart investment. If you have the capital then the rewards are very attractive – there are few other investments that come with an expectation of inflation - busting income as well as capital appreciation.” While there’s no guarantee that the buy-to-let boom will last, at the moment, small businesses looking for additional income, or those trying and get a foothold in the property market, would do well to consider buying a property and leasing it to tenants until a recovery in the wider market happens.

Buying a property, it should always be said, must come with the usual health warning that property prices are volatile and can fall as well as rise but it always helps if you can buy well and there are opportunities out there to do so. Also with property purchase no-one should forget there are one off associated costs that need to be considered such as stamp duty for properties purchased over £125,000 – and these increase significantly if the value is over £250,000 – but nonetheless although I would certainly not advocate that all businesses with a bit of cash should lock it up in bricks and mortar (cash is still king, in my book) the buy-to-let market is worth consideration where there are genuine surplus savings and it suits the business’s strategy to diversify in that way.

Graham Carn, Senior Partner, Blackstones Consulting 21

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Sussex Business Awards 2013 Now Open for Entries The twenty fifth Sussex Business Awards 2013 are now open for business and it is the one that everyone wants to win!

Celebrating business excellence across Sussex, the Awards are the longest established scheme of its kind in the county. New sponsors include Mazars, Legal & General and The Montefiore Hospital, who join long standing supporters Domestic & General, Morrisons Solicitors, Sussex Innovation Centre, HSBC,, Sussex Enterprise and Midnight Communications. For the first time, Morgan Sindall will be sponsoring the search for the Company of the Year. Julien Jones, Director at Morgan Sindall said: “As a Sussex based company we are delighted to support this year’s search for the company of the year. Morgan Sindall is keen to embrace and reward innovation and the opportunity to sponsor this category enables us to share in the success of thriving Sussex businesses.” The Sussex Business Times is a key media sponsor alongside Heart FM, The Argus and Absolute Brighton. There are fifteen trophies up for grabs this year including a new category to recognise sustainable business, sponsored by Sussex Enterprise.

Peter Field, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex will take the chair for the third time. He comments: “For twenty five years the Sussex Business Awards have led the way supporting and showcasing some of the most outstanding successful individuals and businesses in Sussex. “I am proud to be involved in these awards which have carved such a vital place in the business community and I’m looking forward to learning how last year’s winners and finalists have fared over the last twelve months. “The awards are a welcome opportunity to see and meet so many inspirational local business entrepreneurs and play a role in determining those individuals and organisations that can only be labelled the ‘Best of Sussex’”. Peter is a long standing supporter of social enterprise in the Sussex region and is championing a brand new category award for Social Enterprise which is sponsored by Legal and General. The judges will be looking for an outstanding non-profit social enterprise, with a charitable purpose, that has a turnover of less than £500,000 pa along with a sustainable business model which addresses a local, social or environmental need. Graham Precey, Head of Corporate Responsibility for Legal & General

Group Plc commented: “As a major local employer we want to support the communities where we have offices and where our employees live and work. Sussex is very important to us in that respect. Working as part of with a number of community partners, we are looking for new ways for big companies and social enterprises to trade and thrive together to make local economies successful.” A non-profit social enterprise is an organisation that trades for a social and/ or environmental purpose. It has a clear mission and understands the impact it wishes to have on the community, who it aims to help, and how it plans to do it. Most of its income will be derived through the selling of goods or services. As it is the silver anniversary of the scheme, awards organisers Midnight Communications are on the hunt for previous winners of an award. Caraline Brown, Managing Director at Midnight, said: “Our plan is to showcase as many previous winners of the awards as we can find. I’d really like to demonstrate to the Sussex business community the impact that winning an award can have and show how previous winners have gone on to even greater glories. “Midnight Communications was winner of the Small Business of the Year 1999


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Sussex Business Awards

Sussex Businessperson of the Year, Kevin Byrne of with Julien Jones, Morgan Sindall

2013 Sussex Business Awards Judges

“In a survey of 400 senior business people, 81% admitted to being influenced by awards when buying products” - Shape-the-Future and the Sussex Company of the Year in 2000. I can honestly say that winning a Sussex business award really helped Midnight establish itself on the business scene and made a real difference in winning new business.” And winning really does have an impact on your business. Shape-The-Future Research recently commented: “In a survey of 400 senior business people, 81% admitted to being influenced by awards when buying products and services for their business.” Other previous winners of the awards include Rob Hill, CEO of The Eventa Group who was the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year. Rob said: “It was such a great feeling to win. Sussex is a big county containing some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, so it was real honour when my name was read out. I also couldn’t believe how much PR and credibility our business has gained since winning the award too.” Michael Yeoman, Commercial Director at South Downs Solar Limited, commented: “For South Downs Solar to win a Sussex Business Award was a great recognition of the hard work put in from all members of our team.

The Awards have helped raise our profile and have helped us gain new business throughout Sussex. We would recommend that any other quality and aspiring businesses to enter the awards and highlight their successes.” This year the Awards will be presented on 5 December 2013 in the magnificent Brighton Dome. Guests will enjoy a champagne reception in the Brighton Museum and then a four course meal with entertainment in the adjoining Dome. See the categories on page 24.

To Enter Simply go online at to review all of the categories available and determine which are most appropriate for your business. The simplified entry process enables you to prepare your entry in advance and then just simply upload it as a pdf. Entry costs £50 for one category or £100 for up to three. Enter The Healthiest Workplace Award, The Greatest Contribution to Sussex Charity and Boss of the Year for FREE. Sussex companies have until 30 August 2013 to submit their entries.

Sussex Business Awards Entertainment 23

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Sussex Business Awards

Sussex Business Awards 2013 Categories

The Sussex Company of the Year

The Social Enterprise of the Year

Small Business of the Year

The Boss of the Year

Sponsored by Morgan Sindall

Sponsored by Heart FM

The International Business of the Year Sponsored by HSBC

Sponsored by Legal and General

Sponsored by The Argus

The Award for Innovation in Business Sponsored by Sussex Innovation Centre

The Sussex Businessperson of the Year Sponsored by Mazars

The Responsible Business Award Sponsored by

The Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by Sussex Business Times

The Healthiest Workplace Award Sponsored by The MonteďŹ ore Hospital

The Award for the Best Customer Service

Sponsored by Domestic & General

The Award for Leisure & Tourism Sponsored by Midnight Communications clear background

pantone 2623

The Award for the Most Promising New Business Sponsored by Morrisons Solicitors

The Greatest Contribution to Sussex Charity Sponsored by Absolute Brighton

The Award for the Most Sustainable Business

Sponsored by Sussex Enterprise

For more information, Please contact us on: T: 01273 666200 E: @SussexBizAwards


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Open For Entries Enter online now Deadline 30 August 2013 Sponsored By

we think we are the best sign company in Sussex and hope you give us the opportunity to show you why 25

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Hoffmann & Rathbone Meet the experts putting Sussex wines on the map

The Hoffmann and Rathbone winery was established Profile in 2010 by Ulrich Hoffmann, a winemaker who trained in Germany and has more than 15 years of international winemaking experience. “I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this career that has situated me in some of the most beautiful places,” says Ulrich, “and so far I have worked at ultra-premium wineries in Spain, California and France.” What brought him then to settle in the sunny, but perhaps less famously glamorous Sussex? Love.“It was an amazing time, but after meeting my wife who was living in Brighton, I wanted to settle down and start a family. Our final choice of home was between California and England and in the end we decided it had to be England to be close to family and because, believe it or not, it offers the better wine potential of the two! “The English wine industry although still small is growing in reputation and professionalism every year. It was in 2010 that we decided to start our new business, Hoffmann & Rathbone, and we managed to find a great location in the heart of English winemaking country in Ansty, West Sussex (near Haywards Heath). At our winery, we produce our English Sparkling Wines. This is an ultrapremium product made from grapes sourced locally in Sussex and Kent, creating an exclusive and delicious product which is enjoyed by wine lovers the length and breadth of the country, although obviously locals think it’s extra-special!” The wine business is not all romance though. It is, after all, a business, with inherent challenges just like any other, and Hoffmann & Rathbone’s success can partly be

attributed to Ulrich’s experience and foresight in weathering these difficulties. “The challenge with making bottlefermented sparkling wine via the traditional method, as we do, is that it has to age in the bottle for many years,” explains Ulrich. “With a lot of upfront investment and a product that matures for a long time, careful planning is critical for a business to succeed. We decided therefore to set up a second business to offer a contract-based wine making service for local wine growers to offer our expertise to others. “The way this element of our business

when one of our wines was served on the Royal barge for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Celebrations last year and another wine won a gold medal and trophy in the 2013 international decanter wine awards competition.” Just in case all this has made your mouth water, we asked what the star products for this summer are. Newly released is the limited edition Hoffmann & Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2010. This first has already managed to secure five international awards, including a Gold Medal in the China Wine and Spirits Awards “Best Value” and The

“What a treat. It started with unpacking the bottles, admiring the labels and pouring the light rosé bubbles into the glasses. And what a delight when the first delicate aromas reached our noses.” - A Hoffmann and Rathbone Customer works is that local wine growers bring us their grapes and we use our expertise to make and bottle the wine for them to sell. We work closely together with the growers to ensure that grapes are harvested at the right time and they get their say in the wine style they want us to make. “The last three years have been very hard work and often challenging. Whilst we had plenty of experience in winemaking, we had no experience setting up a business so it has been a steep learning curve. But, the product was good enough to see us through the challenges of starting up a business in today’s climate. We were very proud

International Wine Guide Spain, Silver in the national UKVA Competition and Bronze in the IWC, IWSC and the Decanter World Wine Awards. Like any good vintage, it is a limited edition and only offered to Hoffmann & Rathbone customers via exclusive allocation via the website. “We are surrounded by a growing number of rich, large investment vineyards in the South East. We had to come up with a business concept that worked in this fast changing industry, therefore in order to differentiate ourselves we decided to build our business around our core strength which is the winemaking itself. What is unique about


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Business Profile

our family business is that we are the first winery in the UK without a vinyard. We focus on making boutique English Sparkling Wine from grapes grown and sourced locally from Sussex and Kent, rather than on growing our own grapes to make a specific wine from. “Another aspect that makes H&R unique is the size of our wine production. The aim is to produce highest quality premium English Sparkling Wine with focus on producing quality not quantity. There are only ever a maximum 5000 bottles of any wine we produce, which makes us a truly boutique winery and allows us to focus very intently on the quality of the product itself. “With the wine maturing in the cellar, we had plenty of time to think and talk about how we wanted to make the occasion our wines are served at memorable and more special. We wanted each bottle to feel like a piece of fine art. Every step from revealing the bottle from its box, unwrapping it, to popping the cork is carefully thought through to enhance the impact of the wine.

So could we see Sussex sparkling wine giving champagne a run for its money? “English Sparkling Wine from Sussex is starting to seriously compete against Champagnes, and some vintages are starting to win competitions against their famous French counterpart. The beautiful South Downs are very similar to the Champagne region in France in geology and climate, so it’s not all that surprising. “We feel very passionate about producing wines that are grown in Sussex and Kent. We want to make unique products that our customers recognise for their quality and ultimately, truly enjoy. “The location only plays a minor role here, as we compete internationally, but being based

close to many growers in the region is an advantage to keep food miles as short as possible, which helps our business to be more ecologically friendly! “Similar to many agricultural businesses in Sussex the unpredictable climate in our regions is a challenge and is something we have to consider and plan for. This year spring arrived very late but with a very warm and dry June and July we are hoping for a promising year for English grapes - especially from Sussex.” 27

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Waer Systems

The Missing Link How a small software company on the south coast provides the vital cog in the wheels of some of the world’s biggest businesses

From its unassuming offices in a business Insight park in Lancing, you would be forgiven for not knowing that Waer Systems technologies have helped some of the best known names in manufacturing, logistics and aerospace to save millions by streamlining their supply chain operations. Established in 2000, Waer has a team of just 12 people who work in an incredibly tough market, competing with some of the world’s biggest software solutions providers. The company was founded by Waer’s CEO, Rod Scott, an aerospace industry veteran of some 30 years standing who spearheaded the technology-led delivery of components directly to the production lines of UK aerospace airframe manufacturers. Waer’s success comes from its ability to provide software solutions to specific problems, integrating many systems within an organisation to vastly improve information flow and supply chain efficiency. Sales Director, David Snelson, explains: “To put it simply, our products join the dots and significantly improve efficiencies between suppliers, distributors and

manufacturers, ensuring that operations, maintenance and repair work run smoothly and efficiently, and that supply chains are lean and efficient. “We have three powerful core products: WAERlinx, WAERflow and WAERconsole. Between them they provide all the tools for improving supply chain management, enable collaboration between disparate IT systems and provide beautiful reporting dashboards, bringing together key business information from several systems to one place. “It’s so flexible that, well, virtually anything’s possible…” Waer cut its teeth in the exacting aerospace and defence industries, with projects that are still going strong many years down the line. Supply Chain Efficiency For example, Airbus designs and manufactures wings for the several families of aircraft. They needed to improve the efficiency of their fastener supply chain – the nuts and bolts – in order to improve service and profitability levels. With the installation of WAERlinx their supply chain became a lot more streamlined, reducing stock levels by 82% and virtually eliminating stock

shortages. Service levels went up and they were able to provide the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with 100 per cent traceability of all products. Managing IT Assets But Waer’s problem-solving ability isn’t confined to aviation. A global financial institution was spending millions on staff and resources for testing IT projects all over the world, and wanted better visibility and management of this aspect of their business. David Snelson elaborates: “The testing projects would last for given time periods and require complex combinations of services using assets that could be assigned to multiple projects. The assets could be required exclusively or be shared, depending on the project requirements. For example, a software licence on a server could be shared by several services on multiple projects or it might be required in exclusive mode for a single project. “Because of the complex nature of asset distribution across these services and projects, understanding the future requirements for the assets or past usage was not always straightforward. As a result, the organisation risked buying new hardware and software 29

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Waer Systems

“We are working on several projects that allow our customers to track and trace virtually anything across the globe, from aircraft engine parts to free range pigs” Standing left to right: David Snelson, Dave Mockler, Sitting left to right: Dave Roberts, Rod Scott, Kim Noyce

unnecessarily in order to cover future needs that could actually be fulfilled using their existing assets. “We introduced WAERlinx, a product based on ‘Just in Time’, or ‘Lean’ manufacturing – making sure you have just enough of what you need at the time you need it without having to carry excessive amounts of stock – which can be applied to virtually any product or asset. “WAERlinx means the organisation can now raise demands for services, and allocate associated assets for the required time period. It enables them to see the future availability of services and part utilisation of assets, giving a clear picture and allowing the company to determine whether they need to acquire new assets to fulfil the demand as well as recording assets that are not being used and which can therefore be removed from the register.” Supplier Collaboration Ask an IT consultant about integrating systems, supplier collaboration, electronic information sharing and customer partnerships and you’re likely to hear that they’re all difficult to do, very costly, expensive to manage and take a long time to get right. WAERflow was developed to solve exactly this problem, removing the stumbling blocks faced by so many organisations.

In a recent project, WAERflow was used to create an interface between a global equipment manufacturer and one of their primary suppliers that enabled shipping, invoicing, stock forecasting and replenishment information to be exchanged, creating a saving of over 20 man days per month and millions of pounds. The organisations now enjoy integrated sales and operations planning, with the seamless exchange of forecast, inventory and material usage information, and WAERflow allows management to set up users to see just what they need, without compromising security or sensitive information. What’s more, planners are now able to make decisions that fine tune the delicate balance between minimising cost and optimising customer service in a way that they were previously unable to do. Track and Trace Waer isn’t one to stand still and is at the forefront of the constant developments and improvements in technology that are changing the face of supply chain visibility and management. One of these is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), the wireless use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects.

Waer’s Technical Director, Dave Roberts, said: “This has been a huge development in supply chain management in recent years, and adoption is becoming ever more widespread, thanks to improvements in technology which make it more robust and reliable. “We are working on several projects that allow our customers to track and trace virtually anything across the globe, from aircraft engine parts to free range pigs. Take Daher, for example: Daher supplies high-value parts to an aero engine manufacturer using sophisticated bespoke containers. WAER has developed a system that allows them to track the containers and ship them to where they need to be, enabling the steady and reliable movement of parts around the globe, resulting in a smoothrunning production and maintenance schedule for their customer.” Ultimately, it may be Waer’s nimble size that is its biggest asset. Its strong, tried and tested core products together with the unique combination of skills within the team result in an unrivalled flexibility that allows the company to deliver tailored solutions without the hefty price tag associated with many less agile off-theshelf solutions.


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Working Lunch

Need to impress a client, discuss important plans with a colleague or just enjoy a great lunch away from the office? SBT brings you our guide to the best business lunches across the county. This issue, we visit La Cantina in Eastbourne - bringing a taste of Italy to Eastbourne.

La Cantina of Eastbourne Address: 8 Bolton Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 3JX Tel: 01323 723023 Lunch Menu from £5.95

Italian food is one of the favourite cuisines in the UK, creating Review an appetite that is catered for by a decent supply of restaurants so you’d be forgiven for not getting too excited about another Italian restaurant. La Cantina is not just another Italian restaurant. With ingredients – and staff- sourced direct from Italy, La Cantina has bonedeep authenticity that is without match in the local area. You’ll find no checked table cloths or piped-in Frank Sinatra… just delicious Italian food, freshly prepared and brought to you by an enthusiastic, knowledgeable team.

The bar at La Cantina

I’d suggest going along with your server’s recommendation of olives, meats, breads and cheeses to start. They’re all freshly imported and highly likely to be the best example of each that you have tasted in a long time. They’re certainly the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine and good conversation, or even just intense silence as you struggle to decide what you want to eat next. La Cantina’s wine list is constant (and extensive) but the menu changes daily, depending on what ingredients have come along from Italy. There’s always a good balance of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes with plenty of variety, which is an underrated selling point when you’re entertaining a large group or people you don’t know too well.

“Don’t blame us when you come out having also succumbed to four courses and a bottle of wine. It’s the sort of place you just don’t feel like leaving”


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Tried & Tested

Owners of La Cantina

Front Garden at La Cantina

I’ll not spend too much time describing the gorgeous dish of homemade pasta with seabass and a marinara-esque sauce that I enjoyed, because the nature of La Cantina’s menu means there is every chance it wouldn’t be on when you visit. Suffice it to say that my dish – and those of everyone I visited with – was delicious, rich and perfectly balanced: clearly the loving labour of a chef who understands the nuance of each and every ingredient. In short, it was faultless. We weren’t planning on dessert, but as it was such a beautiful day to be sitting out in the sun, we lingered too long over coffees and let our waiter talk us into homemade Italian icecream. Between the six of us, we sampled the white vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, strawberry and pistachio flavours, and left not a scrap – impressive work for a table of people

who were far too full for dessert! Being a traditional seaside town, Eastbourne has its share of ice cream vendors but if you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter to enjoy a frozen treat on a hot day, La Cantina really sets itself apart. Just don’t blame us when you come out having also succumbed to four courses and a bottle of wine. It’s the sort of place you just don’t feel like leaving. It’s definitely an experience that’s at its best al fresco, so do see if you can head down on a nice bright day to make the most of La Cantina’s suntrap garden. The table service loses nothing and you’ll be able to enjoy the tantalizing flavours of the Mediterranean in the environment they were designed for. Of course, a big bowl of spaghetti to warm us up in the winter doesn’t sound bad either… 33

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Decision-Making Tool Wins Excellence prize A new decision-making tool designed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth Business School has been praised as outstanding for its potential contribution to business. Dr Alessio Ishizaka, Dr Philippe Nemery and colleagues won the Outstanding Paper Award for the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013. Their research on sorting methods, used by decision makers in all sectors including finance, the environment, marketing and medical diagnosis, has the potential to help improve the results of complex decisions. Dr Ishizaka is an expert in decision analysis in Portsmouth Business School and Dr Nemery is a mathematician. In their study, they examined 20 small and medium sized businesses in France to assess the quality of their decisions and the success of each business. They found existing decision-making tools, widely used by businesses, give results which are too broad to be meaningful and, as a result, are unable to help a decision maker make radical improvements.

Instead, the researchers developed and tested a finer detailed and visually graphic model, which they say will make it much easier for businesses learn and grow. Dr Ishizaka said: “Companies prosper or fail as a direct result of decisions taken by managers or stakeholders, so it’s vital the way they make decisions is examined. “Several decision-making tools exist but they provide raw, quantitative data rather than richer qualitative results which give decision makers true insight into multi-criteria problems.” The new model allows decision makers to compare different actions and outcomes on a visual scale. When the model was tested it gave a huge degree of detail about each companies’ strengths and weaknesses, which no previous models had been able to do. Dr Ishizaka said: “This new model allows us to understand each company compared to its competitors. We could see, for example, that a company was good at project management but weak at human resource management, while a second was good at


Sharper businessdecisions: Dr Alessio Ishizaka

knowledge management but poor at product development, giving a much fuller measure of each companies’ capabilities. “Existing models give flatter results, for example, ranking companies from best to worst, even if all the companies are performing poorly, and with no detail on which aspects were needing attention and which were being managed well. “In our case study we could see immediately, once analysis was done, that even the best-ranked company still had room for improvement. That sort of detailed information is of significant help to anyone whose job is to make the best decisions, whether they are in finance, medicine or any other sector.” Their research is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Modelling Management.

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13/08/2013 09:46

Customer Service

Damage Limitation 5 ways to quell unhappy customers

Anyone who runs a successful business knows that excellent Advice customer service is key. We know customers won’t return if we don’t look after them. We also know the better the experience they have the more they are likely to spend, the longer they continue to do business with us and the more likely they are to refer us to others. But with the best will in the world, sometimes things go wrong. Accidents happen, things get missed or events occur that are totally out of our control. So what can we be doing to lessen the impact on our customers’ experience and limit the potential damage to our customer relationships and our reputation?


Prevention is better than cure In a perfect world we’d prevent complaints happening. And we certainly can minimise the number of complaints by taking a few simple actions. Most customers accept that things can go wrong from time to time. But, only if they’re kept informed. Customers are far more understanding of the situation if they’re forewarned of any problems. For example, if you know that you’re likely to be busy at certain times of the day, make every effort to let your customers know this. If you let them know when the quieter times are, this not only helps them, it evens out the peaks and troughs for you too. When you know something is unavailable; maybe something that is a popular feature or product that is not

available for whatever reason, give people as much notice as possible either through your website, when booking or enquiring, prior to travel or on arrival to minimise disappointment. If something they’ve asked for is no longer available; will it be available later or not at all? What’s the alternative? What can you offer that might be as good as or even better? The key here is to offer choice and alternatives. This might be a great opportunity to introduce your customers to something they haven’t tried before, or something that could be classed as an ‘upgrade’ (at no additional cost to them, of course). This way they’re introduced to something new, which is good for you, and they get to experience something over and above what they were expecting, so enhances their perception of value for money. A win-win. If there is a delay, does the customer wait, or do they do or have something that doesn’t involve waiting? That might of course depend on just how long they have to wait. When we are put on hold if we’re told we are 2nd in the queue we are far more likely to hang on than if we’re told we are 10th. So let your customers know - is it expected to be a 2 minute wait or half an hour? Being honest (and not making false promises and under estimating) allows customers to make an informed decision. Being kept informed is not about making excuses! It’s about keeping the customer informed of the situation and giving them options…


Make use of waiting time Anything that wastes time for your

“Being kept informed is not about making excuses! It’s about keeping the customer informed of the situation and giving them options” customers can be an irritation. Equally anything that saves your customer time will add value. We’ve all experienced being put on hold and told how “your call is important to us”. Unfortunately it doesn’t make us feel any better! Queues and being kept waiting are never going to be popular with your customers. But do what you can to minimise the impact. Start by monitoring your busy times. If you know when your peak times are adjust your staffing accordingly (ensuring appropriate training is given to anyone who is redeployed to ‘help out’). I’m still amazed when I go into places that are inevitably busy at lunchtime only to see staff going for lunch at their peak times. Crazy! You wouldn’t expect restaurant staff to have their break at lunch time so why would any other business dependent on lunch time trade do so? If you know you experience peaks and troughs of activity triggered by events such as the weather, road conditions, publicity, news coverage - whatever it 35

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might be - monitor it and prepare for it. Even if you don’t have enough space, equipment or outlets to serve more customers at any one time, but you can at least have people on hand to deal with any queries, printing out bills or acting as ‘runners’ for those dealing with customers. If you have self-service areas, or payment machines, help speed up the process by helping customers; you can avoid the time it takes them to read instructions, which might reduce your transaction time by half, thus reducing queues. If people have to queue, make this as painless as possible. Can you divert people from queues to other options to achieve the same result? Cut red tape and open up alternative channels where you can. Can customers be doing other things whilst queuing which will save time once they get served – filling out forms, reading information that might help with their buying decision? At the very least being kept informed of progress and seeing the queue moving. You can even use the time to entertain, so customers don’t feel put out at all. I’m not suggesting anything like the awful music we often get subjected to when we are put on hold, TV screens in every corner or worse still the sales pitch

we get. No, I’m talking about genuine entertainment! Something that appeals to your customers’ tastes, even if this isn’t your first choice! Make waiting time a pleasurable experience by offering your customers something to compensate for their wait. The least you can do is offer refreshments, but you might add something relevant to your business. A small token gift, just to say we appreciate your patience. If you’re now subconsciously thinking you couldn’t afford to do this every time someone has to wait; it’s time you reviewed your customer experience. Waiting should be the exception, not the norm. (And compare this investment to the cost of losing the customer altogether.) Review all the touch points on the customers’ journey – where can time be saved; waiting for web pages or images to load, phones being answered more quickly, keeping on top of orders so purchases can be dispatched quickly. And if people have been kept patiently waiting for even a few moments, at the very least acknowledge this and thank them for their patience.


Nip it in the Bud But of course you’re not always able to

pre-empt problems and won’t always be able to avoid all complaints. And on occasions we’ll get complaints about things which are totally out of our control anyway. Aim to spot problems as early as possible. Listen and observe. You can often sense there’s an issue long before you get told directly. They don’t return calls, they’ve not placed their normal order, they’re grumpy when you speak to them, their body language tells you instantly they’re not happy, you overhear them moaning to someone else; all telltale signs that there’s a problem brewing. It’s often tempting to hide your head in the sand and wait for the problem to go away. But problems or challenges are often your opportunity to shine and leave a positive lasting impression. Now’s a chance to exceed expectations. It can be easy to get defensive when we receive feedback, particularly when we feel it is not justified or we totally disagree with it. But something must have triggered their perception. So listen to what your customer is saying. Maybe the problem was caused by the customer but never accuse. This only makes the problem worse. No; the customer isn’t always right, but your goal should be to leave the customer positive and wanting to do business with


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Customer Service

us again; not to embarrass them, teach them a lesson or score points. Aim to turn a negative into a positive. The least you can do is apologise (even if you’re just apologising that they feel that way) and outline the options to resolve the situation and demonstrate what you’re going to do.


Explanations not excuses For a start say “sorry”. It’s the least we can do if a customer has had a bad experience. The very last thing to do is make excuses or blame the system or your suppliers. Your customers aren’t interested! However, there may be times when

Encourage them and train them to spot issues quickly and how to resolve them themselves when they get complaints or negative feedback. This is far better for the customer because it gets a quicker solution, far better for the team member because they’re able to deal with it which gives them pride, and far better for you because it means you don’t have to always been involved. This doesn’t mean to say that they don’t want to hear about complaints particularly if there are common recurring problems that need to be resolved. Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. It’s all very well knowing

something very valuable about your customer. So in summary to make the best of a bad situation and minimise the negative emotions and potential back flak from customers. Your customers will appreciate your honesty and this all helps to keep the trust and relationship sweet, so your customers remain loyal. The way you handle a situation is what your customers will remember and if you can go above and beyond to resolve the problem, even when it’s down to a third party, customer error or even an act of God, it’s your resolve of the situation they’ll remember, not the cause.

“Your customers will appreciate your honesty and this all helps to keep the trust and relationship sweet so your customers remain loyal” a little explanation helps diffuse the situation. If there’s been an accident, if it would be unsafe, if their preferred option is not up to standard and likely to disappoint. If it’s relevant to help them see why they’re not getting the experience they’d hoped tell them; if not, don’t! Frankly your customers really aren’t interested in your staff shortages, that your suppliers have let you down, that the ‘x’ machine is broken, that nobody ever tells you anything, or that no one else has complained. And they’re certainly not interested in hearing “it’s not my job” or “that’s nothing to do with us; it’s down to the management / organisers / council / landlord….etc.”


Empower your team Develop a culture of customer service amongst your team. This includes anyone who works for you or represents your business in any way, including contractors, concessions, associates or business partners. Give your team the skills and authority to deal with problems as they happen to minimise any impact on the customer.

what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope! Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios. Agree with them their levels of authority so they know just how much leeway they have in offering the customer alternatives or compensation, and at what point they may need to involve a manager. Observe how your staff handle complaints and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help. It’s all too easy when we hear of a complaint to blame someone in the team for the problem. Put the team first and they’ll reward you with avoiding problems. Despite our best efforts they’ll be times when all the customer is interested in is having their say and having a good old moan to anyone who’ll listen to them, and an opportunity to let off steam. Better they do that to us than tell the world on social media or review sites! You never know; you might learn

By Caroline Cooper Caroline Cooper is founder of Naturally Loyal who helps businesses develop their teams to deliver a great customer experience, creating naturally loyal customers (…and naturally loyal teams). She is author of the ‘Hotel Success Handbook’. For further information and to find “21 Ways to Wow your Customers” you can download Caroline’s free guide at: 37

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Test Drive

Maarten Hoffmann, SBT’s Motoring Editor, reviews the Mercedes A Class and the Kia Sorento



The head of Mercedes- Benz boldly stated recently that the new A Class was vital to the company’s future fortunes. A statement that can have a tendency to transform the speaker into a hostage of fortune! Looking at last year’s figures, they seem to be getting by, with sales of 1.5 million cars and revenues of 4.4 billion Euros – not too shabby. And in 2013, it looks like good fortune will continue for the company, as the A Class Mercedes is an absolute winner. So much so, that their press fleet office couldn’t get me a review car for two months as they were all booked up. Never one to be defeated, l called Mercedes Benz of Brighton and the dear chaps at Lookers sprang to the rescue and deftly delivered me of a cracking red A180CDI SE. Now l have fond memories of Mercs. The regal 540K that l had the pleasure of parking many years back in an underground car park in Paris, that promptly flooded and this rare car was never seen again. I gave Gary Glitter, then Paul Gadd, a ride in my 250SE in ’74 and met Britt Eckland in the SOF whilst posing in a 280SL. Begrudgingly, back to the plot. The A Class is 15 years old now and has always been a well-built but fairly average looking car but this new incarnation is a great looking specimen aimed directly at the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3 – a fight l feel it is destined to win. The exterior styling is really pleasing with all the features of the larger models carried through such as aggressive wide grill, a light cluster that could rival

Blackpool and side strakes that give it a get up and go attitude that is common on all models. I couldn’t help wondering if this styling is due to the many owners of the larger cars being forced to downsize and therefore wanting some familiarity. The interior is what you would expect from a Merc and then some. Somehow, they have managed to increase the feeling of solidity we are used to and have produced a very sensual interior. It’s all soft and cosy with great sports seats, soft touch materials and a lovely steering wheel that moulds into your hands. Pop the 60/40 back seats flat and you will be presented with 1157 litres of space. The statement air vents look a tad like hovercraft blowers and l am not sure of the sense behind designing the excellent 5.8 inch screen so that it sticks out from the dash – l think l would have built it in and made the dash more flush. The placement of the Mercedes iDrive control system now ensures that on occasion when you select a gear and rest your

arm, you change the radio station or telephone your mother. A very small critique of an excellent and well planned interior. Driving the A Class, you might not be surprised to hear, is a great experience. It is quite remarkable in cornering. As you direct it into a corner with great confidence it has a tenacity to hold the line which is unrivalled in its class. With a brand new front-drive chassis and a new engine line up, it really is an involving drive. There is also a list of extras that make your mouth, and your wallet, drool. The lack of noise is also astonishing. You are totally isolated from road and wind noise and this a testament to a solid and well-built car that feels like a much more expensive model. The quickest version is the A250 with 211bhp and hot hatch acceleration of 0-62 in 6.6 seconds. If it is economy you are looking for, then l would suggest the A180CDI with 109 bhp and a welcome 74.3 mpg. The penalty is the acceleration


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which comes down to 11.3 seconds but you can’t have everything. Then we come to Attention Assist. This system is designed to keep you awake and alert but l only really delved into this when l noticed a constant picture of a cup of tea on the dash. After an age searching for the kettle that l presumed would be buried somewhere next to a steaming hot brew all ready for me, l read the book and found out that it was telling me to take a break. I don’t know if it is my driving style or the cars intuition that told it l consume vast amounts of tea, but the symbol would not go away and was constantly telling me to take a nap. I didn’t want to sleep, l just wanted to keep driving as the A Class is a joy to drive. If there is a drawback, it would be that the car is none-too keen on bad road surfaces. With our local council raking in about a billion a day from road taxes and spending £8.75 per year on actually fixing them, we do suffer from poor roads and the A Class lets you know about it. But

that is it my friends. This is a very well built, well equipped, well balanced and keenly priced car that does everything you would expect and then some and l am sure resale values will be high. The charming chaps at MercedesBenz of Brighton eventually got their car back in one piece and whilst in their flash new showroom in Portslade, my eye was taken by a gorgeous SL65 sitting on their shiny floor, calling to me. Brace yourselves, I’ll be back!

The Details Technical Stuff Engines: Diesel 1.5, 1.8, 2.1, Petrol: 1.6, 2.0 Acceleration: 0-62 - 6.6 – 11.3 seconds Top Speed: 118 – 149 mph Economy: 45.6 – 74.3 mpg Price: From £20,370 or MB Finance offer £249 pm and 3 years free servicing Like: Styling; Superb Cabin; Dynamic Driving

By Maarten Hoffmann, Motoring Editor

Dislike: Position of the multi-media button; hard ride over bumps. Alternatives: BMW 1 Series; Audi A3, VW Golf. 39

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I recently reviewed the Kia Sportage which l recommended as a very good SUV that stands up very well against its competition. It does exactly what is says on the tin and then a little more. Therefore, one would conclude, that the Sportage occupies the mid-size SUV ground sufficiently for this impressive Korean manufacturer. It would appear that KIA does not agree. The Sorento is a fat Sportage. Full fat to the Sportage’s semi-skimmed if you will. It’s not as handsome as the Sportage nor does it drive as well but for you, my dear readers, l will dig a little deeper and find out why this full fat brother was squeezed into a tiny range gap. Whilst at it, l might be able to find out why my spell check flips out as they did not spell it the same way as the famous Italian City. The original Sorento was a vehicle that only a mother could love – it was ugly and slow and it’s only claim to fame was that it was the cheapest way to tow up to 3.5 tonnes. The new model can only haul 2.5 tonnes but this is balanced by a much better looking car that is good to drive, well designed and well planted on the road, although its bulk is felt in the corners but never so much that you feel you will shortly get up close and personal with the tarmac. The Sorento is certainly spacious with a strong 194bhp 2.2 diesel engine, impressive standard equipment and the holy grail of SUV’s – seven seats. The interior plastics are a tad cheap and there

are little of the soft touch materials found in its rivals but everything is well put together. The dashboard is well laid out and the basic KX-1 model comes with electric windows, A/C, cruise control and auto headlights. The KX-2 adds leather seats and rain sensitive wipers and the KX-3 has larger alloys, Xenon’s, electric seats and Sat Nav. Performance is very impressive with strong torque, an all new six-speed gearbox and weighing only 1960kg, it is half a tonne lighter than the Toyota Land Cruiser and has more power. The extra 2 rear seats are a little fiddly to get up and down but you soon get used to it and the advice would be to place kids or dwarves into them as they are not that spacious but the kids fight for them every time, so that takes care of that. Flatten all the seats and you are presented with a huge load space of 1530 litres and easy access. Very few 4x4 vehicles these days are actually designed to go off road and with no transfer box or low ratio the Sorento certainly will not be towing your Land Rover out of that ditch. The average owner will want it to plough through the snow to work, be safe in torrential rain and perhaps, cross the occasional field and with an available lock on the centre differential and hill descent control as standard, the Sorento will fulfil all the above and a little more besides. So the question is answered – it is bigger and more powerful than the Sportage, hauls more, has 7 seats and a commanding driving position – and a world beating 7 year warranty. The Koreans are coming – look busy!

The Details Price: £24,695 - £33,295 Fuel consumption: 42.2 mpg Performance: 0-60 – 9.4 seconds Top Speed: 118 mph Warranty: 7 years Like: 7 seats, driving position, warranty Dislike: Interior plastics. Alternatives: Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Captiva, Volvo XC90

By Maarten Hoffmann, Motoring Editor


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P 52P

LET THE PLATINUM CLUB TAKE THE ‘WORK’ OUT OF NETWORKING The Platinum Club, in partnership with The Grand Hotel Brighton, has developed a highly effective networking forum believing that less is more. We have removed much of the periphery that surrounds many business clubs such as seated meals, speeches and sponsors presentations. The Platinum Club offers a relaxed and informal Champagne cocktail party each month where local businesses come together from across Sussex to develop and build relationships, catch up on industry news and events and meet an eclectic group of business people in the splendour of The Grand Hotel. We strive to host an informal and enjoyable event that is highly effective for large and small companies alike and the finest testament we have received is a 100% membership renewal rate

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Corporate and Public Safety Ltd is an International Safety Award winning Sussex based company specialising in Health, Safety, Risk Management and Business Continuity. Corporate and Public Safety Ltd can act as the ‘Competent Person’ for organisations that require health and safety support under the Management Regulations. This can be for short periods during transition and change within organisations, following sudden departure of competent staff or on a longer term basis. Your company will have access to email and telephone contact in accordance with written terms and conditions agreed between us. We are aware that a need exists to provide guidance and support for health and safety and risk management. The Directors recent achievements include International Safety Award with Merit, being a finalist as Risk Manager of the Year for UK and being Highly Commended for his work in the development of Corporate and Public Safety in local government. Corporate and Public Safety provides a service to over 20 local businesses to ensure that they have competent advice relating to risk management, health and safety and business continuity. The businesses range from County Cricket, Rugby Super League and major Nursing Homes, through to gymnasiums, office based media and web companies, electrical contractors and data installers If you are running a successful business and using valuable staff time and money on health and safety in the hope that you will get it right – it might be time to consider change. Corporate and Public Safety can provide; Policies & Procedures We will prepare Policies and procedures in consultation with yourselves following an inspection and discussion with you. Unlike on line fill in the form systems we visit you and work with you to find the best possible solution at your premises. All of the documentation will be written to your particular requirements in a clear and easy to understand manner. Audits & Inspections We can undertake a simple inspection following a ‘walk through’ or an in-depth audit covering over a hundred points

in 10 clearly defined areas. This will be done with you and your managers at your company to identify safety issues and make cost-effective recommendations for improvement. The SAFE-C package Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations all employers are required to have available and to use competent safety advice. SAFEC has been developed by Corporate and Public Safety Ltd to support companies that do not have or cannot afford to pay for an in-house competent person, but want to have easy and ready access to a local safety advisor. The basic SAFE-C package offers: • advice on the telephone or by email • an annual meeting to review your health and safety arrangements • review and adjustment of your health and safety policy • review of your fire safety risk assessment • use of Corporate and Public Safety Ltd as your nominated health and safety advisors SAFE-C plus. The SAFE-C package can be supplemented to meet additional needs of your business. With access to qualified environmental health professionals, former senior fire officers and qualified health and safety professionals, you will know that assistance is close at hand including regular inspections, safety audits and attendance at health & safety committee meetings. This package can include membership of the British Safety Council with on line access to health and safety advice, regular safety briefings and delivery of a monthly safety magazine. If you are a small business with a small workforce and in need of good advice to help you comply, then Corporate and Public Safety is the service for you.

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SBT Ask the Experts is Sponsored by






How can I create a start-up that makes money?

Darren Fell, MD of Crunch Accounting explains: If the numbers are anything to go by, entrepreneurialism has seldom been higher. Sifting through stats collated by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the amount of UK SMEs grew by 38.7% in the period of 2000 2012, taking the total from 3.5million to 4.8million. It’s likely that figure’s grown in the past year, too, with further stats from the ONS showing that the self-employed workforce swelled by 367,000 since 2008 - 60% of this rise coming since 2011. Britain’s clearly a lot keener on starting up. Whilst this entrepreneurial epidemic should surely be seen as a good thing, amongst that wealth of start-ups there will undoubtedly be some failures. Dissolution rates remain volatile, an uncertain economy and age-old business mistakes sowing the seeds of start-up failure. Drawing upon some of my own startup expertise, here’s some tips for creating a start-up with a real chance of success.

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Firstly, set yourself a mission Every business needs a purpose and its integral to give your start-up one from the outset. Create a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) mission statement and it’ll act as a yardstick to you and your team, providing direction throughout your business. A good mission statement should manifest itself in greater productivity. Goal set your start up Once you’ve got your mission statement in place, divide it up into smaller targets. Develop monthly or yearly goals that’ll ensure you achieve your wider mission, keeping these realistic but also challenging. Be sure to reassess these regularly as your start-up continues to develop. Sell, sell, sell- even when things are going well Small business owners should be selling constantly and always attempting to get new clients through the door. It may sound like common sense, but it’s something many start-ups fail to do. Maintain a heavy reliance on one big client and you’ll put yourself in danger of having all of your eggs in the proverbial basket. You can counter this problem by developing a broad spectrum of clients. Incentivise your affiliates Look into developing some sort of

affiliate scheme, as this can prove an invaluable source of business. Offer affiliates a reward for every new customer they bring in, perhaps on a sliding scale basis. The better they are to you, the better you should be to them. Consider your start-up and think about what affiliate scheme you can generate. Know your cash flow psychology To keep your start-up standing, you’ll need to muster up excellent cash flow management skills. Cash flow psychology is in an important part of this and with the right approach, you should keep your start-up one step ahead. Often little changes can have the most impact: like giving your clients a call 7 days before your invoice is due, tactfully reminding them about their bills, and elsewhere, invoice rapidly, as soon as everything’s agreed. Finally - stick to what you’re good at This goes for both you and your wider business - don’t delve into things you don’t understand. Surround yourself with a strong team brimming with talent and expertise so you can focus on your core talents, leaving them to exude theirs. Equally, don’t take your business into markets it’s ill equipped for. You’ll likely do yourself more damage than good. For more information contact Darren Fell on or 0844 500 8000 43

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SBT Ask the Experts is Sponsored by




Legal comparison websites are not going to go away, say The Legal Services Consumer Panel, who urge lawyers to be more transparent about service and pricing

Lisa Beale from fromc checkaprofessional explains: The public are becoming more accustomed to searching for Legal Services via the internet and not their local high street or newspaper! Client feedback for Legal Services – It will never take off! Will it? Whether you like it or not, this will not pass the Legal Services profession by! Verified public feedback is becoming expected by consumers - if you don’t have it, they will wonder why. If consumers cannot give feedback and they are not happy, some are turning to commenting on blogs, where there is no control and no right of reply at all. How can a business defend itself if they limit themselves to this scenario only? How many consumers read these blogs and how many clients could a business potentially lose? Using client feedback has always been valuable, but with online focus playing an ever bigger role in peoples` lives, it has now become crucial. This trend has sky-rocketed because online, `word of mouth` has become easy to place and almost instantly accessible. For professional service providers, this can bring huge immediate and mediumterm advantages - not least, getting more new clients and understanding viewpoints on what`s great about your business and what`s not. …I’ll sit tight and see what happens Why wait for your competition to make the first move? The temptation to be a follower and never a leader is the easy option.This was acceptable once, however now, being different may be 44

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the only way to get in front of your prospective clients! Those who are pro-active will see the value in marketing their business in this new way, placing them where their prospective clients are now looking. One thing’s certain; you can’t expect to stand out from the crowd using the same marketing strategy everyone else does! What should I look for, if I decide to take the plunge? Whichever service provider you decide to sign up with, you should consider what is important to you, your clients and what your prospective client is going to experience when searching, for you. You should choose a site that`s free to the user and one which does not require the consumer to register because it is important to ensure that there is no barrier for the consumer to use the service. But this does mean that you, the provider, will probably be paying. In other business areas experience has shown that up to 40% of new income can come from an online search and feedback site. Choosing a site which concentrates on the quality of the service given to a client is important. Experience shows that consumers generally do not mind paying for good quality service and this is where a more informed choice wins, using a good

quality ‘comparison site’, as it gives the client all the tools to search for themselves who they would like to use. Easy content management As well as your verified customer feedback, your profile on the site should allow you to describe your business, areas of law covered, your accreditations and awards, and your contact details. Sites such as www., sister site of, offer a full and easy to use CRM system hidden behind the scenes, for each member, password protected for security. It is not just marketing for them, it’s about reputation and a more informed choice for consumers, via a three way partnership which really works! Conclusion… If you want to grow your client base or just make sure you are doing the best to keep hold of your existing customer base, then using an online service like could provide a whole range of advantages to you. For more information regarding visit or call FREE: 0808 901 9042

Grant Parker from Russell & Co Solicitors explains why they joined “We decided to join because we were aware of the success of Checkatrade and we felt that the concept of clients providing feedback regarding the service that they had received would work equally well with professionals. It has raised our profile and additionally we feel that it shows to our clients that we are confident that we provide a good service. We also like the fact that we can easily tweet positive feedback on Twitter via the website.”

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Welcome to the Fold More than 170 guests toasted Gemini Brighton at its launch party on Thursday 25th July in Brighton The event, held at Bohemia Brighton, celebrated the re-brand of Andus Print to Gemini Brighton highlighting it as the eco and most capable printers in the area. On the night Gemini Brighton welcomed local councillors, representative from all areas of the media and over 150 key businesses from the region. Gemini Group owner, John Boyle, OBE, said it was a key strategic move to overtly identify the print operation based in Hollingbury as part of the Gemini Group – the most capable printing operations in the region. During his speech he reiterated to all that buying print locally was good for the economy and good for the environment, reducing transport and fuel emissions. The lively event also included a speech by Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, Chairman of the Economic Development and Culture Committee at Brighton and Hove Council. Cllr Bowden had himself attended the London College of Printing and qualified in print management in his younger days. He said he was delighted be at the event, congratulated the company on being one of the most successful in Brighton and said that this local business that employees in excess of 140 people was a real asset to the City and gets his full support. Champagne and canapés were served to guests followed by Brighton’s best fish and chips. One lucky guest, Gary Little, won a fantastic balloon ride for two across Sussex, after deciphering the QR Code competition run at the venue by Gemini. The Gemini Group comprises Gemini Press and Gemini Digital in Shoreham-by-Sea, Gemini Brighton and Gemini West in Bristol. A new presence in London will be unveiled shortly with the opening of Gemini London.

Tasha Pearce and Sheena Webb with Mike Young

John Boyle OBE makes his speech

Ben and Katy Celeritis


Dave Britton , Zena Phillips and Malcolm Jacobs

Justin Wilkes and Jo Spink

Launch party celebrating the rebrand of Andus Print to Gemini Brighton

A team from three sixty

John Boyle OBE and Cllr Geoffrey Bowden

Larry Bray and Jane Busby with Ed Carr

Geoffrey Bowden makes his speech

Claire Martin with Alfonso Salazar-Diaz

Arron Clark of Gemini Brighton with Jo Chester and Luke Trotman

Sue Howard, Lee Dekkers and Selina Dekkers 45

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Home Grown Hero

Made In Sussex: SBT chats with Melanie Marley, Managing Director of The Cake Artist

The Cake Artist

Sugar craft wizard and baker Brand extraordinaire, Focus Melanie Marley, MD of the Cake Artist, has been waving her magic wand, making couples’ dreams come true for over 20 years. Designs range from the traditional, to more boutique creations dripping in semi-precious stones, and cakes used as a centre piece to set off the most elaborate of themed weddings. Everything is hand made to bespoke order and no two cakes are ever the same. Melanie specialisies in wedding cakes because she understands what an important element of the biggest day of a couple’s lives a breathtaking cake can be. Melanie works closely with couples from enquiry through to delivery, to make their hopes and visions a sugar craft reality that’s more than deserving of the admiration of guests when it becomes the centre of attention on the big day! “Some couples have a clear idea of exactly what they want but with others, it’s a case of working from a blank canvas. Every wedding cake is a collaboration of ideas that go to create a dream that is unique to the couple,” said Melanie. The Cake Artist business re-located to Worthing some years ago, and melanie has found that it means she is perfectly placed to serve the key catchment areas of West and East Sussex, while maintaining her evergrowing London client base. “I work from an exclusive studio, where the cakes are designed and made after consultation with clients. Each cake is bespoke, made to a client’s exact specifications so no two are the same. There are four of us at present but we’ve had a few really good

years so expansion is certainly on the cards. Of course, this work requires a very specific skillset and a high level of talent, so successful expansion will hinge on finding the right people who will bring the right things to the table. In addition to wedding cakes, The Cake Artist makes celebration cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other speciality biscuits. Of course, when faced with such breathtakingly detailed creations, the first question – other than “can I have some,” – to spring to mind is “how long does this all take?” “This all depends. A simple three tier wedding cake could take 12 hours to make from mixing and baking to icing the finished article but can range up to 100 hours plus for more intricate sugar craft work. For examples, I made a replica of Rome’s Trevi Fountain, which took me around 60 hours. “The most magnificent creation so far has probably been the Fairytale Castle Cake, which comprised of a sugar Horse and Carriage and Castle made of sponge. That took 140 hours due to the detailed sugar craft work. A very popular cake is the Wedding Night cake – which usually can be made in 30 hours. With the trend for bespoke cakes and cake artistry sweeping over from America, not hindered by a flood of programs on the cookery channels

showcasing almost-unbelieavable sugar creations – it’s unsurprising that The Cake Artist has found business developing and growing apace. “We’ve become rather well known throughout Sussex, but not just among couples celebrating weddings or people with birthdays,” says Melanie. “The corporate trade has increased greatly over the past few years. And of course Sussex-based celebs have cottoned on to our artistry and I wish I could tell you who they are but we’re sworn to secrecy!” So what’s new and tasty from the Cake Artist? Anything those of us who aren’t planning a wedding can lick our lips and look forward to? “Although we are known for our wedding and speciality cakes, we do like to include seasonal products so this Christmas, we will be making the gingerbread houses. They have proven popular in previous years and take us all back to our childhoods.”


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Sussex Business Times Issue 371  

SBT August 2013