M O N T H LY R E G I O N A L B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E
Six-page special on retail in Merseyside
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£800,000 hotel investment
EDITOR Bill Gleeson 0151 472 2319
9 BIG FEATURE
Are the shop tills ringing?
DEPUTY BUSINESS EDITOR Tony McDonough 0151 330 4918
16 PROFESSIONAL SECTORS Good FDs are key to success
BUSINESS WRITERS Alistair Houghton
Top hairdresser Andrew Collinge
Focus on Wirral
27 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Councils urged to use their assets
Neil Hodgson neil.hodgson @liverpool.com
HEAD OF IMAGES Barrie Mills
MARKETING EXECUTIVE Cath Reeves 0151 285 8428
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The Tech-X factor
ADVERTISEMENT DIRECTOR Debbie McGraw
Fight to the Finnish
ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER Jackie McMahon 0151 330 5077
HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
Birchwood bikers get new centre
Campaign for cruises
Universities get commercial
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Alistair Houghton goes international
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Carolyn Hughes out on the town
IT TOOK Margaret Thatcher a decade to bring about the scale of social and economic change that George Osborne achieved in just one lunchtime last week. In the guise of the much-needed public sector spending cuts, the Chancellor announced measures that will fundamentally re-engineer British society. Between the emergency Budget in June and last week’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the coalition government has wiped £18bn off the nation’s benefits bill. The depth and pace of these welfare cuts would surely have made even the neoconservative George W Bush wince a little. Changes to housing and
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EDITOR’S LETTER incapacity benefit were among measures designed to force many claimants to be less fussy about the work they accept. They will force more people into the workplace more quickly, thereby fuelling the supply of labour to the employment market. Along with the almost 500,000 public sector employees about to lose their jobs, these people will only be able to find new work from the private sector.
This extra supply of labour will push private sector wages down. So, instead of the nation running up a massive benefits bill, our private sector recruiters will find a larger pool of willing and cheap labour. A supply of cheap and profitable labour should encourage businesses to recruit more people and invest for growth. That’s the theory. What happens in practice may well be another matter. What if the private sector doesn’t grow strongly enough? What if people get on the bus to the next town only to find conditions are
just as bad there? What about the genuinely vulnerable? There may well be some people fiddling incapacity benefit, but it’s worth only about £80 a week, which is hardly enough to deter most people from taking a job. Even today, despite the discrimination laws, many disabled people are unable to find work because prejudiced employers won’t recruit them. Most sick and disabled people would prefer not to endure a subsistence lifestyle. So, Mr Osborne, as you set about re-
engineering society, you will need to take care to ensure Britain does not become a mean-spirited place where only the fit and able thrive. Can the private sector really pick up all of the jobs slack? Probably not. Mr Osborne referred to 500,000 job vacancies advertised over the past three months. Sounds a big figure, but I would guess most of these jobs are to be found inside the M25. In places like Teesside and Merseyside, where the public sector is disproportionately big, social change will cost more in human misery.
BILL GLEESON 3
Birthday celebration for Speke exporter SPEKE-BASED pharmaceutical manufacturer Powder Systems (PSL) celebrated its 21st birthday with a party at Liverpool Town Hall. Founder Maurice Pitcher reflected on the firm’s growth to its position today where, along with its spin-out company, ChargePoint Technology, it now employs 90 people. In 2005, it won the Liverpool Daily Post Maurice Pitcher, left, with Lord Mayor Hazel Williams, third from right, and some exporter of the year of Powder Systems’ management, at the Town Hall event award.
RBS backs £800,000 hotel refurbishment LIVERPOOL hotel has completed an £800,000 refurbishment project. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) backed the project at the Beech Mount Hotel, in Kensington. The scheme at the independent family-owned hotel involved the conversion of an adjoining annex to create 21 new en-suite bedrooms. It also saw an extension and refurbishment of the hotel’s bar and dining areas. Built in 1861, Beech Mount Hotel is a Grade II-listed building comprising four Victorian villas, which opened as a hotel in 2008. Following the latest project, the hotel now has 51 bedrooms and six service apartments. Beech Mount is owned and run by husband and wife team Peter and Margaret Berkley. The couple are supported in the running of the hotel and their other businesses by their sons John, David and Daniel. Peter Berkley, owner of the Beech Mount hotel, said: “The hotel’s popularity continues to grow, and it has become more difficult to accommodate potential guests, particularly at the weekends. “It is an exciting time for everyone connected with the hotel and we are confident that guests will appreciate the new bedrooms and facilities.” The Royal Bank of Scotland’s property team, based in Liverpool, provided funding for the project. Andy Webster, relationship manager at RBS, said: “Peter and Margaret have worked very hard to establish the Beech Mount as one of the best independent hotels in Liverpool. “We are very happy to have assisted the development of this successful family business.”
From left, Daniel Berkley and Peter Berkley, of the Beech Mount hotel, with Andy Webster, from RBS
Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen in Chester
Chester design firm’s TV coup FLAMBOYANT TV interior designer Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen has joined the team at Chester-based gift-wrap supplier, Deva Design. Mr Llewelyn-Bowen will assist Deva with new gift-wrap designs. Deva was founded 18 years ago by Derek Bell-Jones and now supplies the likes of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis and many other gift wrapping companies. Managing director Andrew Maddock said he had wanted to work with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen for some time, as he had always admired his work. It was a chance meeting at a gift-wrap fair that started the project. Mr Maddock said: “We asked Laurence
to come and look at our stand, and once he saw how we could transform his designs on to gift wrap and bags, he was more than pleased to work with us. “He has been an absolute delight to work with. “He is totally hands-on, from creating original designs and patterns in his sketchbook, to watching his work develop into beautiful and sophisticated gift-wrap bags and boxes.” Mr Llewelyn-Bowen joined Mr Bell-Jones and Mr Maddock at Chester Racecourse to launch a new Deva design range. Mr Maddock added: “Our staff were thrilled to have spent time with Laurence. “He signed personal books for them all as a memento of a great day.”
Chris Arnold, founder of Your Big Year
City to host world’s best young entrepreneurs
Finalists in Your Big Year to compete in Apprentice-style tasks A BUDDING entrepreneur from Shanghai was announced as the last contestant in the final of a global competition being held in Liverpool. Cai Di answered 24 tough questions in 24 hours for the right to face 23 others in a week-long contest during Global Entrepreneurship Week, which starts on November 15. The Liverpool event is the final of Your Big Year, a competition created by Merseyside businessman Chris Arnold to encourage global citizenship and social responsibility through enterprise. The winners will then be given the opportunity to meet world leaders, celebrities, innovators and inspirational entrepreneurs.
The initial competition ran from July to October and contestants entered by registering on-line and participating in various challenges. The finalists were unveiled at Liverpool Day during the World Expo in Shanghai this month. Mr Arnold, founder and chief executive of Liverpool-based Smaller Earth, said: “Even those who do not actually win the big prize will be building business skills and worldwide networks of other entrepreneurial people. “The possibilities for where that could lead are endless. To me, as an entrepreneur, that is more exciting than the prize itself. “We will also be putting the city in the global spotlight by
bringing these enterprising individuals to Liverpool and showing them how wonderful it is.” Three finalists from Liverpool – Paul Gardner, Alexander Jarvis and Kim Laycock – will be up against contestants from across the world, including India, the US, Russia, Morocco and Malaysia. Paul Gardner, from Kirkby, secured his place in Your Big Year by filming a three-minute video to support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The 26-year-old, who is in his final year of a PhD at the University of Liverpool, raised the charity’s profile through his video on Facebook. The two winners of the competition will embark on their round-the-world trip in January.
They will be expected to volunteer on a variety of projects on all five continents – from teaching children in South America to conservation work in Asia. Smaller Earth has already pumped £150,000 into the Your Big Year contest, which has won support from organisations including Liverpool Vision and UK Trade & Investment. Speaking to the Daily Post in August, Mr Arnold said he wanted Your Big Year to become an annual showcase for entrepreneurship. “I want this to become a global fundraising event,” he said. “In 10 years’ time, I would like us to be as well-known as Comic Relief.” ■ FOR information, visit www.yourbigyear.com
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COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW
The debate gets under way as the Daily Post cameras roll
Culture and biotech are key to city’s future prosperity
Business and political leaders gather at Daily Post round table event LIVERPOOL’S science, biotech and cultural sectors could hold the key to the city region’s future prosperity. That was one of the main messages that came out of a top-level Daily Post round table discussion on the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), supported by accountancy giant Grant Thornton. The panel, which included Liverpool City Council leader Joe Anderson and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Jack Stopforth and Liverpool Vision chief executive Max Steinberg, was held at Grant Thornton’s HQ
in the Royal Liver Building. Also taking part were Liverpool John Moores University academic, Professor Michael Parkinson, Tony Bell, chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Hospital, and Grant Thornton partners Neil Sturmey and Phil Woolley. It was chaired by Daily Post editor Mark Thomas. Mr Steinberg revealed that the CSR could lead to up to 16,000 job losses in the city region. Cllr Anderson warned that the number of job losses would put huge pressure on local authority services. However, the panel was
unanimous in its assertion that Merseyside had the skills and the determination to continue the progress of the last decade. Mr Steinberg cited the recession-hit 1980s, which saw a “cultural flowering” in Liverpool, and said the cultural sector could once again help drive the economy out of the mire. He said: “In Brunswick, we have created a major cultural quarter and I think that will flower. “We have seen in Shanghai (at the Shanghai Expo) how well our cultural offer has travelled. “Culture is huge and it is sometimes underestimated. It will
create jobs and it will create wealth.” Mr Bell said there were “fantastic opportunities” in the science and biotech sectors, and Prof Parkinson agreed that some new thinking was needed. He said: “We have to be aware of our position in relationship to other cities. Not just London, but places like Manchester and Leeds.
“We are in a much better position than we were 15 years ago. Yes, we have Liverpool One, but retail isn’t going to help as much as it did in the past. “This raises the fundamental question of what is Merseyside for. We have to look beyond retail, leisure and financial services.” ■ VIEW footage of the debate at www.ldpbusiness.co.uk
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THE BIG FEATURE
Jingle all the way? Liverpool One wants its new John Lennon sculpture to attract tourists as well as shoppers
BY PETER ELSON
Will the tills be ringing – or will our region’s retailers endure a bleak mid-winter as last week’s public sector spending cuts blow a bitter wind?
THE BIG FEATURE....RETAIL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 MID the continuing economic doom and gloom, some economic analysts are predicting that Christmas 2010 will be the best for retailers since before the start of the recent recession. But others worry this festive shopping season could turn out to be the final hurrah before we go over the cliff edge on the back of the massive public sector spending cuts imposed last week. Consumers are expected to spend an extra £1.6bn this season, compared with Christmas 2009. Clothing, health and beauty are likely to produce the largest increases. That said, many retailers remain cautious about what the future may bring. Ged Gibbons, Business Improvement District (BID) Liverpool City Central chief executive, said: “Everyone is approaching the future with a great deal of trepidation, thanks to the Government’s comprehensive spending review. “But we’re not talking about figures, they are livelihoods. “When I took over BID, I realised Liverpool One had got to be our biggest and most critical friend. It sets the bar in terms of our retail offer. “The Chamber of Commerce’s survey shows that 99% of people feel safe in the city centre. “This is a huge endorsement and shows how you can design crime out of an environment. “About 10 or 15 years ago, that would have been nothing but a pipe dream. “In terms of Liverpool’s retail offer, everyone is hugely concerned, although we are in better shape thanks to Liverpool One and the Cruise Terminal. “Apparently, one visitor from a cruise liner spent £300 on shoes in a shop here. “Imagine if we could build that up to a really critical total. “While the footfall is up, there have been some casualties, but that’s not just in Liverpool. “The gap left by Woolworths has been more than adequately filled by the likes of Aldi and Home Bargains, which is doing a roaring trade.” Clayton Square, which had very worrying levels of void units, has seen Mothercare, Early Learning Centre and Clas Ohlson come in. “There was a worry there would be a huge exodus of businesses from Bold Street to Liverpool One, but I think we’ve weathered that storm,” said Mr Gibbon. “When I took over BID, I looked at the operating board and felt it didn’t reflect the offer. “Whereas other people like Martin Doherty, of Rapid Hardware, have been a huge benefit to us. “He’s very astute and works out the gaps in the market, which is just the kind of analytical mind we need.” This year, Rapid, now well ensconced in the historic former George Henry Lee’s building, will take on another famous Liverpool institution, the Lewis’s Christmas Grotto, from the eponymous recently closed store. “What we don’t want is a council ‘prevention officer’ on the City Centre Retailers Group. The council has got to understand
Ged Gibbons – tasked with bringing more people into Liverpool city centre, as retailers still suffer from the recession issues like retailers’ need for flexible shopping hours and parking.” The impact of the VAT increase on January 1 means that there is widespread agreement to bring forward the Christmas shopping agenda. “There is concern that the January sales are slipping into December, and we don’t want to concede ground to rivals,” said Mr Gibbons. “I know the public is outraged by hearing carols in September, but the Christmas retail offer is now nine weeks long. “For example, 23% of Liverpool One’s retail take occurred in that pre-Christmas two-month-plus period.
“We should all be working to think of this city as Liverpool plc, and we’re creating on a package of events which includes the Christmas lights starting on November 10.” However, those around St George’s Plateau War Memorial will switch on a week later out of respect for Remembrance Day, on November 11. “We’re trying to create a bustling atmosphere on the streets and the Biennial will add another Christmas Tree in Williamson Square,” he said. “Everyone throughout the city centre has bought into this plan. “We’re trying to create a bustling atmosphere and what we won’t be doing is spending £10,000
on some Z-list celebrity to switch the lights on. “Shoppers do not see some invisible line between Liverpool One and the rest of the city’s shopping area. “The great thing about Liverpool One’s design is that people flow in and out of it. “Much of my job is getting people into the city through generic marketing. “I can’t do that individually for 650 businesses. Hopefully, if people want to come, then it’s up to the individual retailers. “They are influenced by product and price. That determines where and when they will put their hands in their pockets.
“These are dangerous waters, and if the small individual retailers get it wrong they suffer, whereas the big corporates can see the overall picture and have deeper pockets to see them through.” Even so, Liverpool’s St Johns Shopping Centre has seen its £100m revamp shelved indefinitely. Intriguingly, there is still some concern over the impact Liverpool One has had on the rest of the city centre. Property consultancy Drivas Jonas Deloitte is undertaking a City Centre Retail Study to ascertain if Liverpool One’s effect is good or bad. In the unlikely scenario of it
THE BIG FEATURE....RETAIL
Metquarter holds its own in the city
Enough trade for original designer store centre
BEFORE Liverpool One came along, all shopping eyes were on the Metquarter as the city’s principal purveyor of designer goods. Although relatively small in scale for a shopping centre, before its arrival Liverpool had become a blue-collar retail centre with practically no up-market shops. Its opening was also hailed as showpiece regeneration, as the building stood derelict for years since the main city centre Post Office moved out. So, how has it fared since big brother Liverpool One has rolled out? Has the geographical location of Metquarter become a problem with the new retail centre-of-gravity pulling customers onto the other side of town? Jennina O'Neill, Metquarter marketing manager, said: “Our location in many ways is a real advantage. “Liverpool One has undoubtedly brought new shoppers to the area. “But I think the impact of ten years of sustained regeneration has changed the city’s identity beyond recognition and done a huge amount to attract people here. “The Metquarter’s unique selling point is the fact it provides an unrivalled shopping experience. “Visitors can enjoy spa and beauty treatments, eat, drink as well as shop. “The sense of intimacy and sense of calm is a refreshing alternative for people who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of alternative venues. “We believe that’s what keeps people coming back.” Yet can Liverpool sustain a cluster of designer shops, or does the customer base have to be far wider? “Not all our stores are being the latter, will it matter? “Well, we may have to reinvent our wider retail offer,” said Mr Gibbons, who read Spanish at Liverpool University and previously lived in Barcelona. “I think we’d be in trouble if Central Station and the Queen Square bus station were in Liverpool One. “The footfall in Church Street has never been better. “The Echo Arena & Convention Centre is bringing in volumes of people who have never been here before, and this will help us through next year. “But this is a city designed for 750,000 people occupied by 500,000. “With 40% of the working population employed by the public
sector, the Government’s cuts will have unavoidable consequences. “On the other hand, Liverpool girls are famed for their fashion and will compromise on much but not on their clothes. “Personally, I love the challenge of representing Bold Street’s case, and then seeing how it’s fighting back with strategies like its festival.” The Yorkshire-Liverpool train passenger loadings are the fastest growing in the country, said Mr Gibbons. “It’s called the Primani Express, as Yorkshire bargain hunters skip getting off in Manchester and come to Liverpool to shop at Primark and Armani.”
Jennina O’Neill: Liverpool’s Metquarter maintains its own unique selling points strictly ‘designer’, nor are they all at the top end of the spectrum in terms of prices,” said Ms O’Neill. “Our offer is based on a compelling mix of desirable brands which have a proven track record in maintaining their allure to customers. “People come to Metquarter from all over the North West and, we believe, will continue to do so despite the recession.” The public sector cuts are a serious concern for all of Merseyside, but Ms O’Neill thinks the increase in private sector job creation may, in the longer term, balance things out. “In a tough economic climate, discerning shoppers still buy and largely remain loyal to their preferred
brands,” she said. “What we find, though, is that people seek more value in their products and opt for affordable luxury as opposed to real high end items. “We know we have to be pro-active and have plans in place to ensure we do all we can to stimulate trade before, during and after Christmas.” Investing in marketing has been critical, and Metquarter will run a television and outdoor advertising campaign, plus revamping its website. “We’re pushing hard on all elements of promotion,” she said. “Metquarter will also be staging events to entice and reward shoppers. We are doing all we can and are expecting to reap dividends.”
VAT rise will mean a happy Christmas THE VAT increase in early January will boost Christmas sales, but undoubtedly there will be a dip in the January sales. Whether this will be sustained is open to debate. “If you look at Germany and Japan as examples, the impact of the rise could go either
way,” said Jennina O’Neill, Metquarter marketing manager. “When Germany increased VAT from 16% to 19% in 2007, there was a mini-boom, sales slumped afterwards but the impact was relatively brief. “But, in 1997, when VAT rose from 3% to 5% in
Japan, the country endured a threeyear slump. “Consumer confidence is difficult to predict, but retailers are used to being pragmatic.” Some retail analysts predict Christmas 2010 will be the best since before the recession started, despite the public sector spending
cuts and associated job losses. According to research, consumers are set to spend an extra £1.6bn this year, compared with 2009, with clothing and health and beauty producing the largest rise. “We are cautiously optimistic,” said Ms O’Neill.
THE BIG FEATURE....RETAIL
The £1bn Liverpool One development has transformed the Liverpool city centre shopping experience
Liverpool One transformed city’s retail image overnight when the 42-acre site opened in THERE were gasps of surprise when Liverpool One was awarded The Mersey Partnership’s best visitor experience award. But this major retail development is firmly positioned in what its estate director, Chris Bliss, calls “shopper-tainment” – with no hint of irony. “We were delighted to win,” said Mr Bliss. “There’s a huge synergy in linking retailing with tourism attractions.” The development is promoted as an open-air retail and leisure destination in Liverpool city centre. “We’re much more than just a shopping centre, in which you simply shop and leave,” said Mr Bliss, who has a staff of 35 people. “We also have visitor attractions incorporated such as the Jungle Rumble indoor
adventure golf course.” Crucially, it has lifted Liverpool back into the northern England premier retail division after decades lost in the shopping doldrums. The scheme includes over 130 shops, plus 25 cafes, restaurants and bars, two hotels, serviced apartments, a 14-screen ODEON cinema, 600 apartments and the five-acre Chavasse Park. In the run-up to Christmas, its stores offer late-night shopping until 8pm every weekday, with restaurants open all evening. As with retailers everywhere, Christmas is being brought forward to compensate for a highly lean January and February. “We’re all waiting to see how the VAT rise to 20% affects business,” said Mr Bliss. “Retailers are going into sales early to beat that. They will all
start Christmas early and we will do the same. “As a result, we have to be very astute about what happens in January. “If people are starting their sales shopping early, as in before Christmas, then how do you get through January and February? “That’s why we need a strong December to tide us through this. “It’s all crystal ball gazing as we don’t know how the public sector cuts will factor in next year.” Whatever the outcome, Mr Bliss believes it will be a “tough call” with not much manoeuvring space. “After a difficult quarter one of 2011, we will see growth in quarter two. “It’s essential that we keep our eyes on recovery and not get caught up in a recession
talk-down.” By Christmas, Liverpool One expects to have 96% of its units let by both value and area. “By quarter one 2011, we should be as good as fully let, with seven or eight units empty,” said Mr Bliss. “But I want to keep some supply open, so we have flexibility to move tenants around or react quickly to get someone in. “I’m very proud that we’ve attracted some first-time brands never seen in the North West before or outside of London.” Hed Kandi, a club clothing store, owned by Ministry of Sound, has one other outlet at Bluewater shopping centre, in Essex. Desigual is an idiosyncratic Spanish chain with one other UK outlet, on Oxford Street, London. “Retail companies see Liverpool
One as a huge opportunity to test their brands in a very fashionconscious city,” said Mr Bliss. “We make ourselves known to these companies, but we can’t force them to come here. “It’s their decision, based on their research, but we continue to find new brands to target, like the up-market Kuoni Travel. “We track them through our asset management team. “Our consumer profiling is so accurate that we can fit businesses to our customers. “I’m so delighted that Jamie’s Italian chose us for Jamie Oliver’s first North West restaurant.” People now have a much more relaxed attitude to shopping and combine it with other activities. “The Liverpool One Odeon has invested £1m in July, as it so popular,” he said. “Over 18 months, it has become
THE BIG FEATURE....RETAIL
High hopes as designer furniture shop opens up
Furniture and lifestyle firm The Home Quarter opens double store
folks! May, 2008 one of the top five cinema destinations in the UK.” Interestingly, Liverpool One is treading delicately (and slowly) in its promise of bringing forward independent retailers. “We would like more, but we have to be careful that they are strong enough to take space in our business,” said Mr Bliss. “This is a commercial scheme and investors want a return on deals and we must reflect that. “We start them on the periphery and see how they go.” He points to two successes: Lunya Catalan restaurant, in a restored Georgian warehouse in College Lane, and Kirsty Doyle designer womenswear, on Manesty Lane. “Kirsty Doyle has made a big success and moved to larger premises on the site,” said Mr Bliss.
THERE is a theory that in recession those businesses which can expand should do so. This way, they will be ready for the upturn when it comes. At a time when even established retailers are bracing themselves for a tough first quarter of 2011, a bold new up-market opening will take place on the edge of Liverpool One’s estate. It will also bring life to the lower end of Hanover Street, a hitherto neglected section of the city centre that hardly has any retail presence. Unusually, while this new interior and lifestyle store is not a local business, it is not part of a major chain either. The Home Quarter, which will open as LDP Business magazine goes to press, has only one other store, in a former mill at Batley, North Yorkshire. It will, however, complement the already established stores in the area, Habitat and John Lewis, by appealing to a similar socio-economic marketplace. The store, spread over three floors, will occupy two properties either side of Hanover Street, adjacent to BBC Radio Merseyside and the Novotel Hotel. This is an arrangement which seems to work satisfactorily for Marks & Spencer in Chester. The 60,000sq ft Liverpool store will be run by Redbrick Mill and will contain two cafe bars. Redbrick Mill boasts it will stock the region’s largest collection of multi-brand contemporary furniture and accessory retailers including Natuzzi, BoConcept, Roche Bobois and Feather & Black. The Home Quarter’s property was originally earmarked by Liverpool One for Harvey Nichol’s first Merseyside store. Although it doesn’t have the phenomenal profile of Harvey Nichols, The Home Quarter will purvey a similar concept of designer names. Chris Bliss, Liverpool One estate director, said: “The Home Quarter will help define Liverpool One as a haven for shoppers looking for stylish interior and lifestyle brands. “It will bring together a wide variety of designer furniture companies like Conran which have not been seen in Liverpool
For the first time in decades, Liverpool’s Hanover Street is having a retail renaissance, with the arrival of high-end furniture store, The Home Quarter before. It is quite a coup for Liverpool One to be able to further enhance its lifestyle and homeware pedigree with the opening of The Home Quarter. “It will offer a wide variety of great brands for the most discerning of shoppers and will make a very welcome addition to Hanover Street.” Alastair Bailey, Redbrick Mill managing director, said: “We are very excited to have secured such a significant presence in Liverpool One. “The Home Quarter will bring to the region an inspiring combination of contemporary furniture and accessories from the very best brands. “This will be in an environment that makes buying such important possessions both enjoyable and memorable. “That we are part of the wider day-out
experience that Liverpool One provides only adds to the appeal of The Home Quarter.” This store’s presence will continue the shift in the city’s shopping district to the waterfront, and away from the traditional areas at the north end of Church Street. This trend has been accelerated with the closure of Lewis’s store at the upper end of town, which inevitably will have a knock-on effect on some of the smaller businesses there. One hope is the £200m Central Village plan, which has signed its first contract to build a new car park adjacent to Bold Street and Renshaw Street. Joint venture partners, Merepark and Ballymore, joined the McGee Group to build a £7m, 459-space car park for completion in June, 2011.
Getting the right message over is crucial for success TOP retail destination Liverpool One is investing in a new TV and media advertising campaign to focus on a new set of key messages. Market researchers found that potential consumers were not getting the message Liverpool One believed it was putting out. “People do not understand our scale and how diverse an offer we have here,” said Chris Bliss, Liverpool One estate
director. “Possibly they perceive it as only for young people or for the wealthy, top end of the market. They also seem to think it’s all about fashion with no other retailers.” The Christmas-oriented campaign will start on November 10, along with the launch of its Christmas events programme. “We had great success with our summer beach event in Chavasse Park, so we want to recreate a winter version of that
ambience,” said Mr Bliss. “As with last year, we’ll have the Ice Palace with Santa and a Christmas decorative scheme to make it as much of an experience as we can.” Liverpool One, which has been hailed as finally bringing Albert Dock into the city retail centre, by cleverly funnelling pedestrians to The Strand waterfront, wants to build on this new link. It has been working with Gower Street Estates,
which runs the Albert Dock’s public spaces, to increase this synergy through new schemes. “The obvious one is continuing our Christmas decoration theme across The Strand and into Albert Dock,” said Mr Bliss. “We will also put up advertising messages in Albert Dock to attract customers. “As with all these matters, it is to our mutual benefit to work together in these tough times.”
THE BIG FEATURE....RETAIL
No point adding to city’s retail space Pyjamas and curlers brigade help Liverpool’s oldest shopping centre beat recession
AS BEFITS a retail property chief with sites across the UK, James Larmuth appreciates the finer points of regional cultural variations. For example, Liverpool’s fashionistas appearing in St Johns Shopping Centre clad in pyjamas and curlers to buy something for their really big night out. After all, it’s thanks to the likes of robust, fast-moving independent retailers serving this market, mixed with the bigger multiples, that St Johns has weathered the recession so well. St Johns is a haven for these kind of shops, which other centres are not so keen to support. Owner Land Securities hopes this will help St Johns to keep buoyant in what will be a tough first quarter of 2011. However, it has had to shelve a huge multi-million pound upgrading, due to the recession. Originally to have been completed in May, 2012, this project is now on hold for the foreseeable future. “There is simply no point adding to Liverpool’s retail space in the current economic climate,” said Mr Larmuth, Land Securities portfolio manager. The refurbishment was designed to meet competition from Liverpool One and the Metquarter. Instead, St Johns will stay in the value-for-money market. The new arrivals caused Land Securities’ other central Liverpool shopping centre, the 18,000sq ft Clayton Square, to move from mid-market retailing to value-for-money. However, it has seen good, solid arrivals Mothercare and Early Learning Centre, plus electric appliance shop Clas Ohlson. “These are valuable retailers and Clas Ohlson is a great new quirky but quality name for the UK – it’s brilliant to have it here,” said Mr Larmuth. Opened by the Queen in 1971, St Johns has 105 retail units over 360,000sq ft. A number of units had been cleared in preparation for St Johns revamp, and now have to be filled. “Our investment is now about getting new retailers in to fill the units,” said Mr Larmuth. “We’re delighted that Aldi is moving in with a 14,000sq ft store. It will be both good value and quality and popular. “I hope students will appreciate it as they come under even more economic pressure soon.” Also opening in spring is another new value-for-money retailer, Home Bargains, which sits well with the likes of Argos. “But I’m always impressed by our local, fast-moving fashion retailers,” he said.
“They’re so dynamic they keep up with fortnightly changes in Liverpool fashion. “They get the right stock in at the right time and it’s great fun to see students coming round. “Not forgetting the girls with hair in curlers and pyjamas, budget conscious and all set to bag a bargain. “I guess these shops are here as a product of time. They’ve evolved and we’ve tried not to put pressure on rents like new investments, which want higher returns. “We’ve worked with them and communicated that anyone on a rent under £50,000 can go onto monthly payment rather than quarterly, which helps with their cash-flow.” Unsurprisingly, Christmas will be early at St John’s and Clayton Square. “We’re jumping the Christmas light switch on November 6,” said Mr Larmuth. “The decorations will be up and retailers ready for the Christmas build-up. “It’s a question of who blinks first to start discounting and move stock. “The challenge is getting the balance and timing right for January and February. But they won’t be buying stock at the same level as a year ago.” He believes the value-for-money sector will be better placed to handle the January 1 VAT-rise than high-end retailers. “The extra VAT on £50 shoes is negligible compared to that on a £500 handbag or £5,000 plasma TV screen. “Retailers will have strategies to absorb the rise in VAT to stay competitive.” He is complimentary about Liverpool One being “brilliant” for the city. “People who would have gone to Manchester or the Trafford Centre with their money now have the full retail offer in their own city,” he said. “It’s up to us to make sure we get it right with the mix shoppers want, so the spend doesn’t leak away to other places.” Land Securities is working with Grosvenor Liverpool One and the city council to see how retailing can prove more effective: “There’s been a lot of investment, but times are tight and we must all pull together,” he said. “The first quarter will be challenging, but if retailers get their prices right they should have a good Christmas and sales. “I don’t know if there will be retail failures on the scale of the previous year, but now all the news is out there and if nothing happens outside UK economy things should pick up. “Our mindset has gone through the down-turn and people are tired of recession and want to spend a bit more. By the middle end of next year, retail spend could go up.”
St Johns Shopping Centre – continues to thrive through tough times
Warrington’s secret shopping weapon: a visit from the three wise men
Golden Square, Warrington
SECONDARY retail centres like Warrington are fighting hard to keep their share of the Christmas retail cake. Warrington is superbly placed for easy access from the region’s motorways and trunk road networks. But as Nick White, Warrington Town Centre manager admits, that means
potential customers can just as easily drive somewhere else. Not only that, but the traditional town centre retail offer has to compete with the popular Gemini out-oftown centre, which exists because of those road links. “We do feel, though, that we have an excellent chance of attracting any
Christmas shoppers within a 40-minute drive from the town,” said Mr White. “People do actually like being outside to shop, as well as covered centres like our Golden Square. “We’re all too aware of the impact of the current economic crisis and have devised a package of events and measures to persuade
people to come here.” These range from the mundane, but vital, car parking concessions, free park and ride, to an extension of latenight shopping and Sunday shopping. Warrington is being more conservative compared to many centres, and not switching on its lights until November 18, at Golden Square.
Wire FM Radio will host an evening of family entertainment with special guest Bob the Builder and a 2010 X Factor finalist. “We’ll also have a wide variety of markets with some in Golden Square, plus concerts, carol services and talks,” said Mr White. “Even the three wise men will be at our Christmas market.”
PROFESSIONAL SECTORS LEGAL SERVICES
With Andrew Evans, Hill Dickinson partner with employers’ and public liability specialisms
EVERY year, whether it is in the summer or when winter approaches and temperatures drop, we hear concerns from employees about temperatures in the office. I’d like to know, can it ever be too hot or too cold to work?
WHETHER it be on the shop floor, in offices, warehouses or any other enclosed space, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 are a good place to start for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7, for instance, deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces, and states that: “During working hours, the temperature in all work places inside buildings shall be reasonable”.
So what is “reasonable”? Much of this turns on the workplace environment and the broad nature of the employee’s responsibilities. Limited guidance is given as to what are permissible working temperatures. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has suggested that “an acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK lies roughly between 13ºC (56ºF) and 30ºC (86ºF) with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range and more sedentary activities towards the higher.”
complain in an airconditioned office(s); ● >15% of employees complain in naturally ventilated office(s); and/or ● >20% of employees complain in a warehouse, in a factory or other indoor environments that do not benefit from air-conditioning. You might be able to avoid performing a detailed risk assessment if you can find an easy solution to the problem. For instance, close windows in air-conditioned offices, pull down blinds, open doors to increase airflow. What should you do? During spells of hot or cold weather, it would be prudent to review whether there has been an increase in reported accidents, an increase in absentee rates or complaints, or if more than 20% of employees are complaining of any other symptoms of thermal discomfort. It may be appropriate to consider rescheduling tasks and even shifts to when the temperature is more clement. You can reduce employees’ metabolic rates by introducing lifting aids, changing uniforms to suit the working environment or providing easily accessible heaters/coolers or air-conditioning. Any review you undertake should be recorded and reviewed at appropriate intervals.
‘I’d like to know, can it ever be too hot or too cold to work?’
What if an employee or employees are complaining about being too hot or too cold? A risk assessment should be performed if the temperatures fall below 13ºC (56ºF), or rise above 30ºC (86ºF) for sustained periods of time if: ● >10% of employees
In summary Our five recommended steps to workplace temperature risk assessments are: 1. Identify the regions/places at risk 2. Decide who is at risk 3. Evaluate the risk 4. Record your findings 5. Review your assessment
FDs with commercial approach stand out Study looks at key attributes for firm’s finance chiefs
UNDERSTANDING how they can positively influence the development of their company is one of the key ways in which a finance director can be invaluable. A study by Directorbank Group and Grant Thornton, What Makes an Outstanding Finance Director?, brings together the thoughts of more than 350 directors on the skills and shortfalls of FDs they have worked with. Neil Sturmey, office managing partner of Grant Thornton Liverpool, said: “The key theme of the report is the need for commerciality and forward thinking from FDs. Understanding the numbers is no longer enough to make a top flight FD – being able to stress test their resilience to the business strategy and influence its development are just as important.” John Pearce, executive director of The Directorbank Group, added: “Today’s outstanding FD emerges as a much more rounded, commercial business leader than his or her counterpart of 10 or 20 years ago. “He is forward looking, not backward, and making brave decisions. He is a great communicator who can win the trust of colleagues across the business and is a partner to the chief executive and very often is a CEO in waiting. “Closer to the customer than most would expect, he really understands what drives wealth creation and where the money is made.” The study also focused on 25 FDs nominated by the directors as “outstanding”, including Flintshire building firm Redrow’s FD Barbara Richmond and Neil O’Brien, former FD of Newton-le-Willows-based Speedy Hire, who is now chief executive of AIM-listed Alkane Energy. Ms Richmond took up the role at Redrow at the start of this year, after a career that has taken her from engineering and electronics firm Whessoe, to chemicals firm Croda International and most recently car dealership Inchcape.
She said: “You have to have a curious mind – really wanting to understand what’s behind the numbers. You have to make an effort to become more commercial. “The starting point is inside your business and generally people are very willing to help you. When you’re sat at a board meeting trying to make strategic decisions, you need to understand how the customer thinks.” She says her big break came in seizing an opportunity early in her career. “The big turning point was joining Whessoe Group as financial controller. Within 12
The key theme of the report is the need for commerciality and forward thinking – Neil Sturmey, of Grant Thornton, in Liverpool
■ CONTACT Andrew via email: andrew.evans@ hilldickinson.com
months, my FD left and I was offered the opportunity to be group finance director of a Plc at 33, which I took with both hands,” she said. “It catapulted me into the arena where everybody knows who you are, your name gets mentioned.” Mr O’Brien spent 10 years at building group Speedy Hire before becoming chief executive of the alternative energy firm, Alkane Energy. He deliberately chose to get involved in industry, a decision which allowed him to work with major companies. He said: “I chose to join a Big 4 firm in Birmingham in preference to London as I was interested in the industrial sector and I got to work for clients such as Jaguar and GKN.” The outstanding FDs believe the key skills required are excellent communication skills, wider people skills, an in-depth understanding of the business, and an ability to support and challenge the chief executive. The biggest failings of an ineffective FD were given as poor financial reports, loss of confidence from their team, and lack of attention to detail.
THE BIG INTERVIEW
At the cutting edge BY ALISTAIR HOUGHTON
The Collinge family has been in hairdressing for a century – and Andrew Collinge’s enthusiasm for the world of hair and beauty is as strong as ever.
THE BIG INTERVIEW....ANDREW COLLINGE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 ODAY, Andrew Collinge’s salons are contemporary style palaces, but look closely and you can see their roots in a Southport barber’s shop. Andrew’s grandfather, Wilfred, started working as a barber in Southport in 1910. But the roots of today’s business lie in the salons founded by Andrew’s father, Peter, who in the 1960s became Liverpool’s hippest hairdresser. Andrew followed in his footsteps and, thanks to his regular appearances on hit TV show This Morning alongside his wife, Liz, became one of the nation’s best-known hairdressers. In 1993, Andrew was named British Hairdresser of the Year – a feat he repeated in 1997 – and he has his own range of hair care products. Today, there are six Andrew Collinge salons across Merseyside, Cheshire and Manchester, as well as training salons in Liverpool and Birkenhead. Andrew’s high profile means he is in demand across the country, and counts Royals and celebrities among his clients. He was born into a great hairdressing family, but Andrew has built his own brand by skilfully grabbing opportunities that come his way. “Hairdressing gives you opportunities that few other jobs can give you,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career. But I also feel you make your own luck.” Business is in Andrew’s blood – though he never intended to be a hairdresser. “I remember my parents discussing rent reviews around the Christmas lunch,” he said. “That’s the nature of working in a family business.” Andrew was a boarder at independent Ellesmere College, in Shropshire, before going to college in Birkenhead to study business. The hairdressing world, however, drew him in. “I got a summer job to earn a bit of extra money assisting in the salon in West Kirby,” he said, “just brushing the floor and making coffee. And I really enjoyed it. “So at 19, which is a fairly old age for a trainee, I started an apprenticeship at West Kirby.” Andrew continued his training at his father’s St Johns Centre base, before following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a competition hairdresser. That took him to London, where he decided to stay. “I felt I needed to establish my own identity,” he said. He joined Michaeljohn, in Mayfair, which remains one of the capital’s most glamorous salons. “It was an exciting salon,” he said. “It was popular with celebrities and Royals, at a time when stars were stars. We had clients like Liz Taylor, Joan Collins and Princess Anne. “The first person whose hair I shampooed there was Margaret Thatcher, who was leader of the Opposition. It was quite a daunting experience. “The water had to be running at exactly the right temperature ready for when she arrived.” At Michaeljohn, he did Princess Anne’s hair for the first time,
starting a relationship with the Royal Family that continues to this day. While living in London, Andrew met Liz, who was training to be an optician. He regularly travelled to meet her family in Stroud, Gloucestershire – a journey that reinforced his Royal links. “When Peter Philips needed his first haircut,” he reminisced, “Princess Anne asked me if I could possibly come down to Gatcombe Park when I was visiting my girlfriend in Stroud.” Andrew’s Royal connections have continued over the years. He styled the hair for the Countess of Wessex, Sophie, for her wedding to Prince Edward. And he and Liz also did the hair and make-up for Peter Phillips’s wedding to Autumn Kelly in 2008. By the early 1980s, Andrew had become artistic director at Michaeljohn, travelling to trade shows all over the world.
“The whole Michaeljohn experience was great,” he said. “That’s where I developed my love of doing long hair.” But, in 1982, he and Liz moved back to the North West to open a hair and beauty salon in Heswall, as part of the family business. In 1984, he won the North West round of the first British Hairdresser of the Year Awards – and he repeated that feat for the following two years. In 1987, he was inaugurated into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame. That success did not go unnoticed in the wider media world. “I was North West hairdresser of the Year in 1986 at the time a production team came to the Albert Dock to do the pilot series for This Morning,” he said. “They needed a hairdresser and make-up artist because they planned to do makeovers – it was probably the first TV show to do
that. Liz and I were invited in for a screen test, and then we did the first show, in October, 1988.” Today, makeovers are a staple of British television, but in the 1980s it was an innovation. “At the end of that first show, Richard Madeley said: ‘That looked like fun – if you want a makeover, write in’. They got thousands of letters.” Andrew and Liz became fixtures on the show, carrying out some 500 makeovers during the show’s eight-year stint in Liverpool. By the early 1990s, all the Peter Collinge salons had been rebranded as Andrew Collinge, as Peter handed the day-to-day running of the business over to his son. The resulting national exposure saw him approached by cosmetics giant Alberto Culver, and in 1993 the Andrew Collinge range of hair care products was launched. The Collinges’ national fame
saw them make a return to London with the Liz and Andrew Collinge Makeover Studio in Harrods. The studio, which opened in 1997 and closed in 2004, offered full makeovers costing hundreds of pounds apiece. “We had a three-month waiting list,” said Andrew. “It showed the power of the makeover. “Our customers were, for example, people who were being treated by their family for a special occasion. They’d come to Harrods to have a Champagne lunch and a great experience.” This Morning boosted Andrew’s career, but he believes it also helped boost Liverpool’s image. “I’m not saying This Morning was responsible for the renaissance and resurgence of Liverpool as we see it today,” he said, “but that backdrop scene with the Albert Dock and the Three Graces behind, and Fred’s floating weather map, showcased
THE BIG INTERVIEW....ANDREW COLLINGE Andrew Collinge works on Marina Dalglish’s hair, at a charity event in April
Century in hairdressing for the Collinge family
Peter Collinge at his Church Street salon, in 1970
the city at a really early stage of its revival. “Liverpool now is such a great destination city, with the Arena and Convention Centre and its hotels. People want to come to Liverpool. “We recently invited 12 top beauty editors to Liverpool. They came to the salon, stayed in a boutique hotel, went to Panoramic and Alma de Cuba. “Years ago, we struggled to get beauty editors to leave their desks in London. But this time they gave up a day, and we’ve had emails asking to come back.” The Collinge empire made its own contribution to Liverpool’s revival by opening two flagship salons. In 2004, its Liverpool salon moved to a magnificent Victorian building in Castle Street. “We wanted to have a flagship store for Capital of Culture,” said Andrew.
“We didn’t really plan to go to Castle Street – I expected we’d be nearer the shopping district. But, in retrospect, Castle Street was a great acquisition. It’s such a wonderful salon, and a great place in which to hold events.” The Andrew Collinge Graduates salon opened last year in a converted Barclays Bank, in Bold Street. The building has kept many of its original features – including a striking door handle in the shape of the Barclays eagle – but its ground floor has been converted into a stylish open-plan salon. Upstairs hosts training rooms and the company’s head office. Andrew is proud of the way his salons have brought two buildings back to life. “The buildings in Liverpool are so striking that we need to respect them,” he said. “We now have two of the finest hairdressing salons in the country here in this city.
“I think there is a responsibility that we treat the buildings with respect. “In both salons, if you invest in good materials, the initial outlay is quite a commitment, but long-term it gives you great longevity. “We want to make sure their environment in our salons is inspiring for clients and staff. “We invest almost all the money we make back into the business. You cannot stand still.” The company’s investment in its graduate salon reflects a commitment to training that stretches back decades. In 1974, Peter opened the Peter Collinge Hair Study Centre “He’d always believed training was an integral part of a successful hairdressing business,” said Andrew. “The best way to get trained people is to train your
CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
ANDREW’S grandfather, Wilfred Collinge, was the first family member to enter the hairdressing business when, in 1910, he began working at a barber’s shop in Cambridge Arcade, Southport. But, in 1920, Wilfred went to sea, sailing the West Coast of Africa with the Elder Dempster line as a ship’s barber on board the Apapa. “He was quite a character,” said Andrew. “He used to sell bowler hats and umbrellas to the locals.” Wilfred lost his job in 1939 when the ship was commissioned for the war effort. He returned to Liverpool and opened a salon in West Derby called Collinges. Wilfred’s son, Peter, left school in 1942 and went to work as an apprentice at Symonds, a hairdressing salon and wig maker in Richmond Street, Liverpool. In 1945, again following in his father’s footsteps, he went to sea aboard the RMS Mauretania as a barber and hairdresser. The ship, built at Cammell Laird, in Birkenhead, was one of the most luxurious liners of its time, but was requisitioned by the Government within months of its maiden voyage and was used as a troop carrier. Peter was at sea in the South Pacific on VJ Day, and sailed as far afield as Canada and Australia with troops and their families. In 1947, the Mauretania was refurbished and began sailing to New York again. Peter decided to stay with
Cunard – but faced an unconventional job interview. “My father went to Cunard Building,” said Andrew, “and the chairman asked him to cut his wife’s hair. “She liked her hair and he got the job.” After a year on the transatlantic route, Peter returned to Liverpool and began entering hairdressing competitions. He won seven contests in destinations as far afield as Edinburgh and Brussels, and won a national reputation. He was accompanied by his model, Hazel, who soon became his wife. “He was the most successful competition hairdresser in the country. It was quite lucrative.” Peter used the money he earned to open his first salon in 1951, in Hepworth Chambers, Church Street, Liverpool. The business grew quickly, and by the late 1960s Peter had a chain of salons in Merseyside. In 1970, his flagship Liverpool salon moved to the new St Johns Shopping Centre. “It was an exciting shopping environment. Our neighbour at the time was one of the first Habitat stores outside London, while the centre also had one of the first Virgin Megastores outside London. “My father was really responsible for the modern-day salons you see in the North West. “He’s always had a great sense of judging what the next big thing in hairdressing will be.”
THE BIG INTERVIEW....ANDREW COLLINGE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 own. We were training our own young stylists, but we were also offering courses to other hairdressers who would travel from far afield. “Training is something that is still very important to us.” But those trainees still needed hands-on experience, and so Peter opened his first Budget Salon – the forerunner of today’s Graduates salons in Liverpool and Birkenhead. In 1984, the company became involved with the Government’s pilot Youth Training Scheme, and became a pioneer in vocational training. The first training programmes were created by Hazel Collinge. Today, her daughter, Sarah Collinge, runs the company’s training arm. It’s clear Andrew is as proud of his company’s training record as he is of any of the glamorous hairdos he has created. He said: “We started in 1984 with 12 of our own trainees working towards what would today be an NVQ. Today we have over 200 trainees, of which about 20% are Andrew Collinge employees. The rest are from salons throughout the region. “We’ve recently been chosen by Ofsted as one of the 12 best work-based training providers in the country, and the only one dedicated to hairdressing. “In the last three Ofsted inspections, we’ve had outstanding each time. We’ve also been awarded beacon status. We represent the benchmark of hairdressing training. “They are great accolades, and it comes at a perfect time because in these challenging economic times you need as much positive news as possible.” His salons have been hit by the recession and the resultant decline in customer spending. Even its training arm, which has supported the business through previous recessions, has suffered. “In previous recessions, if consumer spending has dipped, then the training salons have generally benefited because of their price structure,” said Andrew. “But – and this is my third recession – the latest one is completely different. “There was a downturn in consumer spending and, despite the fact that we had funding in place at our end, salon owners weren’t employing trainees. People just battened down the hatches. There was a real nervousness. “But this year we’re exceeding our quota. We’ve gone from 52 to 86 trainees.” The economic picture remains gloomy, but Andrew believes the worst of the downturn is over. He said: “My feeling is that, despite the fact that there’s a VAT rise coming in the New Year, our particular business has settled down. We have a more positive outlook for 2011 than we did for 2010. “Business didn’t really fall by a huge amount. But it’s the difference between making a profit and getting by. “This year, however, we’ve seen growth in all our salons and in training, in the last few months particularly. “All our stylists are paid by commission. A good hairdresser will do well.
Andrew and Liz Collinge at their salon in Castle Street, Liverpool “Even in the last couple of years, our popular stylists were fully booked. They were before the recession, they were during the recession and they will be after it. “We’re fortunate to have such a good workforce, but also to have a wonderful clientele, many of whom have been coming to the company for three or four generations. If it wasn’t for our clients, we wouldn’t be the business we are today.” Andrew is keeping an eye out for opportunities to expand the business, such as salons coming up for sale in areas where Collinge is not yet represented. But he says quality will always come first, and so the company will not expand too quickly. And, if its geographical spread ever stretches beyond its North West footprint, Andrew may have to
consider opening new training salons to ensure a supply of qualified staff. Today, Peter is still chairman of the group, with Andrew as managing director, his wife, Liz, as HR and beauty director, and his sister, Sarah, as training director. The group today employs around 180 people. “We’ve got an outstanding team and I’m very proud of our employees. “Many of them joined us as trainees – or even before that as Saturday girls and boys. “It’s great to see their career development.” Andrew is not letting his skills go to waste. He still does some hairdressing every week, whether for photoshoots, training videos, or occasional makeovers. “Liz and I still offer makeovers, which we donate to charity
auctions,” he said. “Auctioneers can raise thousands.” Working so closely with his wife means the business can be “all-consuming”. But he and Liz still find time to make regular visits to their Cotswold cottage and to their two children in London. Time permitting, he can also be found on the fairways of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. He is also a keen supporter of charity Self Unlimited, which supports people with learning disabilities, and chairs its “Design for Life” appeal to raise £1.8m to upgrade services at its Stanley Grange centre, near Preston. Andrew is also backing the Community Foundation for Merseyside’s new Merseyside 100 initiative, which will see 100 entrepreneurs donate £1,000 a year each to provide grants to charities.
“My weeks are really diverse. I could be in a business meeting, discussing contracts, or the next day I could be working with a presentation team at an international event. “No two days are the same. That’s why hairdressing is such an interesting career. “There was a survey recently to find the people who were happiest in their work, and hairdressers were considerably happier than the average. “People take cheap shots sometimes – they say ‘if you can’t do anything else, be a hairdresser’. Well, more fool them. “You cannot take a skill away from someone. Those who have skills shouldn’t feel nervous about the future. There will always be a demand for hairdressers – and skilful ones, at that.”
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DEVELOPMENT The Wirral index
● 149 Adaptive capacity ● 157 Business births ● 221 High growth sectors ● 235 Exporting SICs ● 237 Foreignowned ● 257 Insolvency ● 262 Job density ● 266 & self-employed ● 274 Resilient employees ● 279 Resilient sectors ● 280 Exporters ● 294 Vulnerable employees ● 305 Days beyond terms ● 307 Vulnerable sectors Rankings out of 324 localities Source: Experian Public Sector
The lifestyle choice
The Wirral Waters development would be a ‘game-changer’ for the borough, although it will take a generation to build
Public sector cuts cast shadow – but long-term prospects are bright
WIRRAL was ranked as one of the worst places in the country for business performance, in a detailed analysis published last month. The report by data specialists Experian, Understanding Resilience, measured 14 different variables relating to business as part of a wider study of the ability of areas to withstand the ongoing affects of weak economic conditions and public sector cuts. The borough was 314th out of 324 local authorities – with its overall business ranking lower than any of the business variables assessed. This was because, although it found itself ahead of its near-neighbours, such as Halton and St Helens, on some measures, it didn’t score highly on any of the 14 points. For example, Halton was ranked fourth
on exports, with St Helens also in the top quarter, in 78th place. But Wirral’s best ranking was only 149th, for “adaptive capacity” which measured how well previously-struggling businesses had responded to difficulties in the past. It was in the bottom one-third of authorities for 12 of the factors and the bottom 10% for three. These related to the number of businesses and people working in vulnerable sectors, including engineering, construction and public services, and the average number of days businesses took to settle invoices. There is an element of the Experian report that relies on long-standing data, such as job density, which has long been problematic for Wirral, where nearly 40% of workers travel outside the borough to go
to work. Wirral also has the second-lowest GVA per capita – gross value added, a measure of economic output – in the country. Its GVA per head is £11,257, ahead of only Anglesey, and more than £8,500 below the national average. There are other data which show Wirral’s response to recession as more robust. In the last year, it has seen the largest fall in Liverpool city region of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA). The number of claimants has fallen 18%, compared to a city region average of 11%. The 12 months have seen nearly 1,900 people stop claiming JSA, down from its peak of 10,620.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24
Wirral Council’s leader, Cllr Jeff Green, in discussion with his Liverpool counterpart, Cllr Joe Anderson, and Peel’s development director, Lindsey Ashworth, at Birkenhead’s dock site CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23 Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go – at the start of 2008, there were fewer than 6,000 people in Wirral claiming JSA. Its claimant rate last month was 4.4%, having fallen from 5.8%, but it remains significantly above the national average of 3.6%. House prices have also started to recover, albeit modestly, up 1% in the last year, according to the Land Registry’s house price index. Wirral Council’s leader, Cllr Jeff Green, is phlegmatic about the situation. “The figures are what the figures are,” he said. “What we have to do is to make sure that people know the
advantages of investing in Wirral. We have one of the best education systems – we get some of the best results in the country. “We have got a fantastic further education college, we have got universities on our doorstep. “We have got Liverpool Airport and Manchester Airport, you are never more than 10 minutes from a motorway. “We have got ro-ro ferries, our transport is very good. “We have got Peel and their plans for the long-term. “We have got an interesting economy, for example, we have got 13,000 people who work in bio/life sciences, that’s 23% of the Liverpool city region figure. “There’s a good mixture of housing and great leisure activities as well. It’s a fantastic
place to live – when people move here, not many leave. “We have got one of the best cities in the country just across the way and just to the south we have got Chester and North Wales on our doorstep. In terms of the work-life balance, we have got lots and lots of advantages. “That’s why I don’t think we should worry about what the statistics say. We have to make sure we are working as hard as we can to make businesses come.” Commercial lawyer Nigel Wallis, a partner at O’Connors, believes that Wirral businesses are showing surprising resilience. His firm acts mainly for ownermanaged businesses with a turnover between £1m and £50m and he says that, despite the challenges, companies are
generally coping. He said: “To a greater or lesser extent, most of them have suffered falling sales, slower cash collections and a high degree of bank unpredictability. “Most have cut costs and some have had to make redundancies. But not a single client of ours has gone under so far and we sense an attitude among the management teams we work with that says ‘this is the way life is going to be for a while, so we might as well knuckle down and make the most of things’. “We co-host a private monthly dinner club called Equity Steaks, to enable Wirral-resident entrepreneurs to share knowledge and experiences, and these last two years have been the toughest most of the attendees have known. “A common debate is about
what is to come and just how bad it will be. “The fear is that most of the impending ‘quantitative squeezing’ and public sector costcutting will not start to impact until next April, and many are expecting further choppy waters from mid-2011 onwards. “Some businesses are being hit harder than others, particularly those that contract with the public sector, who are already starting to feel the pinch as the withdrawal of public sector funding, via the Northwest Regional Development Agency, begins to bite.” However, there are firms that still feel able to spend on infrastructure improvements. Drugs giant Bristol-Myers Squibb has invested £3.5m to
Queensgate, Birkenhead – the new home for The Contact Company
Asif Hamid and Juliet Rhodes, from The Contact Company, with the 2010 NWDA Medium Business of the Year award, at the Liverpool Daily Post Regional Business Awards expand its plant in Wirral upgrading its existing research and development (R&D) facilities and create new laboratories at its Moreton site, which researches how to take newly-discovered medicines to market. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s executive director of biopharmaceutics R&D, Dr Peter Timmins, said: “There are many reasons as to why Bristol-Myers Squibb has chosen to continue to significantly invest into the Wirral site – namely the exceptional quality and availability of skilled staff, the innovation and spirit that exists among the pharmaceutical community in the region, the world-class universities, the networking opportunities, the national and international
connectivity, and the support received from The Mersey Partnership, Invest Wirral and the NWDA.” Last month, some of the key players in Wirral’s scientific businesses came together when Bristol Myers Squibb’s president of research and development, Elliot Segal, visited Moreton. Cllr Green said: “The fact that so many leading academics and experts in this field were gathered together signifies the capacity that exists in Wirral to provide facilities and people to grow research and development as part of the Wirral economy. “We have excellent R&D functions within Wirral, and it is very important to me that we bring together this expertise to ensure that the sector continues
to flourish so we can attract and retain the high skill knowledge based jobs that will help our local economy grow. “Over 13,000 people currently work in the bio/life science industries in Wirral. Just this month, molecular diagnostics company Biofortuna has moved out of the MerseyBIO science incubator to premises more than four times their size in Bromborough and have received orders from as far afield as the USA, Canada, India and Europe for their world first ‘freeze-dried’ DNA testing kit. “The biomedical sector is an important employer in Wirral and events like this ensure that we get people of international influence around a table to discuss what we need to do to strengthen bonds
and make Wirral and the North West the perfect environment for the sector and its employees.” One company which is committed to the borough is call centre firm The Contact Company. Last month, it completed the purchase of the prominent Queensgate building, in Birkenhead, and will start occupying it in the next couple of weeks. It will retain its existing site at Europa Boulevard, where it services its clients including The Jewellery Channel, Eaga, Liverpool FC, The Great Little Trading Company and Lighter Life. Queensgate has been empty for more than two years, blighted by the recession which caused the demise of its developer, Felton.
Mr Hamid said: “The purchase of Queensgate will enable us to keep growing at pace, while continuing to provide our clients with the best quality service available. “We are installing a state-ofthe-art telephone system and will continue to invest in our IT infrastructure and our brilliant staff to make sure this investment leads to further growth.” The firm, which has grown from just 15 employees four years ago to 120 workers, now expects to have up to 400 people working in its new offices. The Contact Company was assisted by the council’s business support team, Invest Wirral, with a £250,000 “fit-out” grant, while
CONTINUED ON PAGE 26
The WIrral Waters plans would see Vittoria Dock transformed
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 NatWest provided a funding package to buy the building. Cllr Jeff Green said: “The company and the council first started work on this before I became leader, but I was pleased to give my backing to the council’s support. “The Contact Company is really committed to Wirral and its chief executive, Asif Hamid, and his team have an infectious enthusiasm for winning new business and delivering quality service.” While employment opportunities like this are important for Wirral’s economy now, all eyes are firmly focused on the plan which will transform the borough. Wirral’s future prosperity is largely predicated on what Birkenhead MP Frank Field has
described as “the most important development for Wirral since John Laird came to form his shipyard”. Wirral Waters, the £4.5bn development by Peel planned for the south bank of the River Mersey, is breathtaking in its scale and ambition. Covering 500 acres of dockland – some of which is operational but vastly reduced from its heyday – the ambition of Peel is to repeat the success they have enjoyed in Salford Quays, with a scheme anticipated to grow over the next three decades. In August, the outline application was unanimously approved by Wirral Council’s planning committee and the plans are now with the Government. This will include a series of new urban quarters known as Northbank West, Marina View and Four Bridges, Vittoria Studios
and SkyCity and The Point. Ultimately, Peel is aiming to build up to 13,521 new homes, up to 422,757 square metres of office and research and development floorspace and 60,000 square metres for retail uses. The application also includes hotel and conference facilities and up to 100,000 square metres of culture, education, leisure, community floorspace together with car and cycle parking, landscaping and public spaces. To be submitted at a later date, Peel has also said that, at the Bidston end of the dockland area, it wants to create a “retail, leisure and residential” area. “It’s incredibly, incredibly important to Wirral,” said Cllr Green. “It’s a game-changer. “I am delighted with the work that Peel have done in schools about the opportunities for the future. It’s about raising
aspirations in some of the most difficult areas in the borough. “There are some really difficult and intractable issues that have not been tackled. “We are out there showing youngsters that if they get themselves job-ready there will be opportunities. “They know that, if they work hard and raise their aspirations, there can be opportunities for them.” The council leader went to China a fortnight ago at the request of Peel, to provide the civic backing that can be so important in doing business over there. Speaking before his visit, Cllr Green was keen to stress that he was only going because the developer believed his presence would benefit them in selling their vision to potential investors and partners.
Cllr Green said: “The Chinese are growing at an incredible rate. They are looking to take their place in investments around the world. There are some major opportunities for us to work with them. “I am hoping to support Peel. My role is to go out and support Peel and explain to potential investors what a great place Wirral is. “There are other things we need to do in terms of opportunities with businesses. “They want to get involved in the supply chain for business in the UK, and we will be talking to them about investing in the area. “Wirral Waters is clearly the focus, and I am only going because Peel believe my presence will help, but we will also be looking for other business opportunities for Wirral and the wider city region.”
Liverpool City Council is looking to make the best use of its property assets
Agency urges councils to share property assets
Liverpool City Council insists its collaboration programme is already under way A STUDY by commercial agency DTZ shows that 42% of local government organisations are missing out on millions of pounds in potential savings by not collaborating on their property assets with maximum efficiency. This is despite the belief among the overwhelming majority of senior local government officers that collaboration initiatives can achieve significant cost reductions. DTZ, which advises one in three local authorities and more than 30 central government departments on their property strategy,
surveyed more than 100 key decision makers across a range of local government bodies to assess the progress of collaboration across the public sector following the Total Place pilots. The findings show that almost half of the public sector organisations surveyed have yet to formally introduce a collaboration programme, and are thus failing to achieve considerable property cost savings that could help protect delivery of frontline services. A spokesman for DTZ in the North West said: “There is a
dominant view among senior local government officers that co-location, for instance, is financially advantageous and would unlock service delivery benefits, as well as improve customer service. “With 71% believing that collaboration can occur without intervention from Whitehall, our study reveals a real willingness to re-examine the fundamentals of how the public sector should operate. However, if public sector entities do not collaborate to reduce property costs, which represent one of their most
identifiable and manageable overheads, this raises serious concerns about their ability to adapt to life after the spending review.” Liverpool City Council insists it is already in talks with other bodies with a view to using its assets more efficiently. A spokesman said: “Liverpool City Council is continually reviewing its land and property to ensure that it is making the most effective and efficient use of its assets, that they are fit for purpose and offer value for money.
“As part of this process, it has established a cross public sector group, including the police, fire, PCTs, to explore opportunities for both shared use of facilities and services. A number of shared use options have been identified and are currently being investigated further by the group. “Liverpool has also had discussions with some of its other neighbouring authorities over shared professional services, and currently has a shared arrangement with Knowsley for both authorities’ director of regeneration.”
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FROM fusion to particle accelerators, Cheshire-based Tech-X is working on the biggest of Big Science projects. Tech-X Corporation, founded in 1994, is an international business, with its head quarters in Boulder, Colorado, and offices in Buffalo, New York, and Zurich. It had an existing customer base in the UK and so recently opened a branch, Tech-X UK, at Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, near Runcorn, to provide local support. It is run by University of Oxford Physics graduate and PhD student Jonathan Smith. Tech-X writes software programmes that try to predict the behaviour of sub-atomic particles during Big Science experiments. Current projects include predicting the behaviour of plasma particles once the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion experiment near Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France, is fired up in a decade’s time. The firm has also been contributing to preliminary work ahead of a possible internationally financed new linear particle accelerator that could take forward and further develop research currently being undertaken at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Other clients include NASA and aerospace and defence manufacturers. Describing his firm, Mr Smith said: “We are a scientific computing consultancy with some key products that we use as a basis for our consultancy work. “For example, Vorpal is a piece of software that was developed in the United States a decade or so ago. It takes advantage of highperformance computing and is used at specialist facilities that exist in universities and the research and development departments of large commercial organisations.” Tech-X is contributing to a major international collaboration aimed at one day providing a new solution to humankind’s ever expanding appetite for energy. Fusion, which occurs naturally in the sun, is the process whereby atoms fuse together under extreme pressures and temperatures, releasing the light and heat that is necessary for all life on the earth. The aim of the ITER project is to replicate that process in a reactor that could then provide for all our power needs. Temperatures in the sun’s core reach 15m degrees centigrade. Temperatures in the reactor will need to be ten times higher to compensate for the difference in gravitational forces on earth compared to the sun. Mr Smith explained: “Internationally, fusion is our biggest area. “Our part of the fusion simulation program is to try to predict what will happen when the experimental reactor, known as Taurus, switches on. “There are nuclear processes going in there and it's very important they know what’s going to happen before they actually switch it on. “Tech-X writes the software to make those predictions. “There are all sorts of flows of plasma going through a machine like that. We are simulating plasma flows in the Taurus.”
A head-on sub-atomic collision at CERN, where sledgehammers are used to crack nuts
The Tech-X factor –
Bill Gleeson speaks to associate research scientist Jonathan Smith Mr Smith described plasma as the fourth phase of matter, the other three being solids, liquids and gases. “The differences between those three states is how strongly bound the electrons are to an atom,” he said. “Plasma, on the other hand, is made up of ions and electrons stripped away from their nucleus.” Tech-X’s role is to write computer models that will try to forecast the behaviour of the sub-atomic plasma particles in the fusion reactor. It is collaborating with the University of Lancaster, where Mr Smith is most of the way through
his PhD, on four other areas of research. “One concerns a component in the next generation of particle accelerators. “It’s really a glorified hole in a piece of metal that looks at the flow of electrons as it passes through the collimator. It’s a method of ensuring a stream of particles hit the correct target in a collider to limit the margin for error that could be caused by stray particles during experiments. “The next large machine that will get built in the world will be to smash electrons and protons together. “The LHC is like a hammer to
smash a nut to find out what’s inside. The next machines will be more like scalpels to allow you to examine the inside in detail.” Using the hammer allows you to see what’s there; the scalpel allows you to analyse its properties in more detail. Another of Mr Smith’s projects relates to a component that can be found in everyday household microwave ovens. “A magnetron is used in microwaves, but they can also be used to provide power to particle accelerators,” he said. “We are using computer simulation to see if magnetrons can be made more effectively and effective to save energy.
“They were originally designed for use in radar in World War II and it is still a requirement for any seafaring boat to have a radio on board and normally maritime radios are driven by magnetrons.” The third area of research involves the use of compact linear accelerator technology that is used in X-ray machines in airports. The fourth area of research is to improve the design and performance of multipactors, found in high-power microwave devices which are used in particle accelerators and some military equipment. Tech-X doesn’t just undertake two-dimensional computer
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
on collision course for the top Jonathan Smith, Tech-X’s man in the North West
about a local firm at the cutting edge of the biggest of big science projects modelling that produces traditional printed data sets. It also uses graphics programmes to produce three dimensional, virtual images of experimental results. Mr Smith said: “We can view data through stereoscopic glasses or in an immersive environment. “You put a headset on and the data is all round you. It’s the same technology that is used for virtual reality systems. “The work we do is as much engineering as it is physics. It lives in a world between the two. “Our simulations help people design better devices and that is a goal you would associate with engineering as much as with pure
research.” Between graduating and starting his PhD, Mr Smith worked in industry for four years. “Tech-X works in partnership with universities and other research laboratories and commercial organisations on research projects and data analysis, to help make their computational research go faster,” he explained. “We use graphical processing units in computers where other people would normally use standard computer processing units. “We can sometimes make scientific software run ten to a hundred times quicker. “When you are trying to answer
a big question, that can save a lot of time. “We are very good at large scale problems.” Tech-X has a global turnover of $10m a year. Tech-X UK currently turns over about £50,000 a year and is hoping to grow this tenfold. “We would like to achieve £500,000 in five years, but whether we can make that happen will depend a lot on the amount of funding available to universities and research laboratories,” Mr Smith said. In the UK at least, the Government’s budget for science research seems to have survived last week’s Comprehensive
Spending Review relatively unscathed. “We are most useful when we are involved as partners in a project from the beginning,” he continued. “We can use our technology to deliver the science the Science and Technology Funding Council, or any funding council, wants in less time. “We are trying to bid for work that directly involve CERN. “One machine we are working on is the international linear collider and the other is the compact linear collider, which run as a complementary machine to LHC. “Both projects, if they come to
fruition, will cost tens of billions of dollars. “We don’t really see that sort of money floating around at the moment. “Science is a hugely international endeavour. “No one individual nation can afford that sort of money by themselves. “It’s only with scientists and engineers from all over the world that you have any chance of making these things happen. “Working in a team with a mix of mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists, the great majority of whom have PhDs, enables us to make this complex software work.”
Finnish and US firms get ready to pitch at Liverpool Software City
High-profile showcase aims to encourage hi-tech investment into Merseyside
Two firms from Helsinki, above, will be pitching at Liverpool Software City alongside three firms from the US FIVE ambitious hi-tech firms from Finland and the US will be pitching for investment at Liverpool Software City this month. The event, which will be held at the Hilton Hotel on November 25, will see 10 companies make a Dragons’ Den-style pitch for investment in front of an audience of digital entrepreneurs. Organiser Steve Smith has held heats in Finland and Silicon Valley, and has selected five firms to travel to Liverpool. Software City started life as an annual event, but has now become a rolling programme to promote hi-tech investment. Mr Smith has led trade missions to the US and Finland, and earlier this year brought Finnish CEOs to Merseyside to meet key players in the digital and creative sectors. Mr Smith, industry director for IT at regeneration agency Liverpool Vision, wants to encourage firms from those countries to use Liverpool as a base to expand into the UK market. This month, the Daily Post revealed that Finnish technology firm Hammerkit was opening an office in Liverpool Science Park. The Helsinki company, which has
designed software to make it easier for people to design websites, wants to tap into the large advertising sector in the UK. Mr Smith said: “This year, the Software City panel consists of investors who between them have millions to invest and are actively looking for the right business. “Software City is not just about showcasing talent. It’s about providing real investment opportunities for businesses to allow them to reach their potential quickly. “The heats so far have discovered some incredibly strong propositions, so we are expecting an exciting final in November.” Three US firms will be pitching at the event – Snapizzi, Rrripple and an as-yet-unnamed gaming firm. Snapizzi, based in Santa Barbara, California, has created software that helps professional photographers to tag the subjects of their pictures. Rrripple, based in Palo Alto, California, is an online platform aimed at schools and colleges that allows users to chronicle and share their digital content privately. Finnish firms Steam Republic and Tribe Studios won the chance to take part in Software City after
competing in a heat in Helsinki earlier this month. Steam Republic specialises in “direct to fan marketing and sales tools” which bring artists closer to their fans and provide opportunities to sell merchandising and concert tickets. Fans use its Mobile Backstage apps, which they download to their mobile phones, to find out more about their musical idols and buy products and tickets. Steam Republic has already worked with artists from UK rapper Dizzee Rascal to rockers You Me At Six, and is now keen to break into the US market. Tribe Studios creates online multiplayer computer games, under the brand Stagecraft, that are designed to be completed in one evening. They are designed for people who may not have the time to keep up with all the latest releases, but still want to play video games occasionally with friends. Tribe is now looking for money to accelerate its growth and to help it sell overseas. Elina Arponen, “chieftain” of Tribe Studios, said: “Since our games are in English, it makes us instantly global.”
Entrepreneur and former Dragon's Den judge Richard Farleigh, left, with Liverpool Software City organiser Steve Smith
INNOVATIVE COMPANIES INVITED TO PITCH MERSEYSIDE businesses are now being invited to bid for the chance to pitch at Liverpool Software City on November 25. Any businesses interested in presenting at the event
should email a one-page executive summary detailing their concept, management structure, financial forecasts and market information to firstname.lastname@example.org before November 5.
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Carbon cuts transport plan ‘Green’ funding available as MTP seeks views of Liverpool city region businesses
REPRESENTATIVES from Merseyside Transport Partnership (MTP) are meeting with businesses to get their views on sustainable transport. MTP is currently obtaining views from companies, organisations and people across Merseyside as part of its consultation on Merseyside’s next Local Transport Plan (LTP3). Within LTP3 will be a major push to cut carbon emissions across the city region. MTP has welcomed the recent announcement by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker that funding to support sustainable travel at a local level will be set aside from within the Department for Transport’s overall allocation. The funding will be used to support economic growth and reduce carbon emissions, which the Government sees as the two biggest priorities for transport. Initiatives to be supported by the new dedicated Local Sustainable Transport Fund include measures to increase walking and cycling, improve public transport and manage traffic more effectively. Once details of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund are confirmed, MTP will assess the best way to apply for funding to support projects that both encourage economic growth and cut Merseyside’s carbon output. If successful, the funding will be used to expand existing projects and explore new opportunities across the area. MTP has already been working with the business sector, developing workplace travel plans for the Liverpool commercial district and Speke Estuary Park, among others. So far, the programme has reached more than 165,000 employees and reduced single occupancy car use by 4.3%. There has also been support for the visitor economy, giving free business support to tackle car park overcrowding and make it easier to reach sites by walking, cycling or using public transport. MTP chairman, Neil Scales, said: “In Merseyside, we have long been leading the way in delivering pioneering initiatives, which support both carbon reduction and economic growth.
MTP chairman Neil Scales is talking to businesses across Merseyside about cutting carbon emissions “For example, more widespread use of low-carbon technologies will cut costs and increase profits for businesses. “The establishment of a dedicated Local Sustainable Transport Fund is a clear indication of the significance that the new Government places on work to encourage smarter travel
choices. Funding such as this will enable us to build on current activity during LTP3 and develop a package of measures that will continue to support economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.” The initiative has received the backing of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s head of policy, Maresa Molloy, said: “In the current climate of public sector spending cuts, Liverpool Chamber welcomes this fund set aside by the Government for sustainable transport initiatives. “Investment in sustainable transport can benefit businesses in a number of ways, from
reducing the amount spent on parking contracts to providing a healthier workforce, as well as reducing their level of carbon emissions. “A cleaner environment supports the city region’s strategic priorities, including the development of the low-carbon and tourism economies.”
Recession sees firms cut costs instead of emissions
NORTH West businesses’ efforts to improve their green credentials are at risk of faltering because of a recession-borne focus on cost savings, according to a study by Lloyds TSB Commercial. The research shows that although the downturn has spurred some North West businesses to adopt green
initiatives in their drive to cut costs, this focus on finances means many firms in the area are losing sight of the broader risks of environmental inertia, and the commercial opportunities to be gained from boosting green credentials. The study shows that just 38% of firms have taken
steps to analyse environmental risks. Half of businesses canvassed cite cost as the principal barrier to pursuing environmental initiatives. Over half of firms questioned (52%) believe that “going green” would result in a positive reaction from customers. John Robson, regional
director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the Midlands and North, said: “Coming out of recession, many firms do seem focused on the costs savings to be gained from environmental improvements, but many are being held back because they fear the cost of taking action.”
John Robson, of Lloyds TSB Commercial
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Warrington Mayor, Cllr John Adams, centre, opened Birchwood Park's Bike Centre with park asset manager Jonathan Black, left, and Nick Frost, of occupier Fircroft
Business park opens Cycle Centre Birchwood employees leading the way in cutting transport emissions
ONE of the North West’s biggest business parks – MEPC Birchwood Park, in Warrington – has opened a £60,000 Cycle Centre to help people who cycle to work. Currently standing at 5% of Birchwood Park’s workforce, the number of cycle commuters at the park is rising year-on-year, and members of its 300-strong bike user group were present at the Cycle Centre launch. This initiative is the latest stage in the business park’s nine-year-old, award-winning
sustainable travel plan. The Cycle Centre extends its existing cycling facilities to include 120 additional lockers, cycle parking, refurbished showers, a drying room, dedicated cycle hire shelter and a cycle repair area. Bike maintenance classes and surgeries will be undertaken regularly by experts from local specialist cycle shop, Cyclehouse. The Cycle Centre was created in response to feedback from Birchwood Park’s regular occupier travel surveys.
The park already offers a comprehensive network of cycling routes and bike hire facility, and recently undertook a cycling project dedicated to help reduce carbon emissions generated by the park. MEPC Birchwood Park’s managing director, Jonathan Walsh, who this summer cycled 500km from London to Paris for local charities, said: “MEPC Birchwood Park is dedicated to promoting and facilitating environmentally sustainable
travel, and our travel management plan is an area of ongoing investment and competitive advantage. “This investment has resulted in great progress across the board, including a rise in the number of cycle commuters from 3% of occupants in 2008 to 5% this year. “The new Cycle Centre will extend the appeal of cycling to work to an even greater number of occupiers. “It will help to make it an even
more enjoyable and convenient means of transport. “We believe that there are many people who would like to cycle to work, be it every day or on an occasional basis, but who, for a variety of reasons, have yet to do so. “By making it easier to cycle to work, by providing dedicated lockers, numerous showers and drying rooms, more and more people will change the habit of a lifetime, leave their car at home and use their bike.”
Liverpool firm protects Oxford University grounds AN ENVIRONMENTALLY friendly ground protection system, manufactured by Liverpool-based Centriforce Products, has been selected to protect the grounds of one of Oxford University’s oldest colleges. During an 84- week restoration project, more than 5,000 sq ft of grounds at Brasenose College have been covered using the heavy
duty Stokbord ground protection mats, making it the single biggest on-site deployment of its kind in the UK to date. Stokbord mats are manufactured entirely from waste sourced in the UK by Centriforce, an independent recycler of plastic waste into end-use products. It was awarded the work by main on-site contractor,
Kingerlee. Keith Shackleton, health and safety manager with responsibility for environmental policy at Kingerlee, said: “Our customers value the environmental approach we take to each project and our commitment to sourcing materials from sustainable supplies. “Stokbord mats are made from 100% recycled plastic
and can be re-used or recycled after each usage, making them far more cost-effective.” Simon Carroll, managing director at Centriforce said: “Our products help to divert plastic waste from landfill and reduce carbon footprint, helping our customers demonstrate that they are environmentally responsible businesses.”
Simon Carroll, managing director of Centriforce
Historic Edge Hill railway station is ripe for refurbishment as a as top tourist attraction says Merseytravel
World’s oldest railway station could be key to new transport awareness
Historic Edge Hill has huge tourism potential to revive depressed area of Merseyside MERSEYTRAVEL is evaluating a campaign to promote the world’s oldest working railway station in Liverpool. It is setting up a working party to explore the potential of Edge Hill station, built in 1836, as a tourist attraction. The project has the support of all three political parties and rail companies serving this historic station. Representatives from Network Rail (which owns the track and buildings), the National Rail Museum (NRM), in York, and Northern Rail (NR) are being invited to discuss further developments. It is hoped that this new tourist attraction could create jobs in Edge Hill. The move follows a presentation to Merseytravel, NR, the NRM and Liverpool city councillors by the embryonic World’s Oldest Working Railway Station Society. Besides raising awareness of Edge Hill station, built by the famed Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the society proposes creating a World Rail Expo at the site. The NRM is already looking for partners to create satellite museums, as it has too many items for its renowned site in York. Also, the society wants to promote a park and ride scheme at Edge Hill with electric buses using the defunct Wapping Tunnel to reach the city centre. Cllr Mark Dowd, Merseytravel chairman, said: “Millions pass through Edge Hill every year, but only a small percentage have any knowledge of or give a thought to its history. “This station is a jewel in the heritage of our region and needs to be recognised. “Initially, perhaps, that could be in the form of a banner proclaiming the facts and raising awareness of the importance of Edge Hill. “Tourism is an important industry on Merseyside, and Merseytravel’s own contribution is in the region of £34m a year, with the equivalent of more than 700 full-time jobs. “Edge Hill station has the potential to help us increase our offer.
Cllr Mark Dowd, Merseytravel chair “How many visitors from all parts of the world know of this unique attraction, which began the explosion of world railway domination?” Fred O’Brien, World’s Oldest Working Railway Station Society vice-chairman, said: “Edge Hill has huge potential waiting to be unlocked as a tourist attraction. “The World Expo Site idea is perfect for Liverpool, as the steam loco is Britain’s great gift to the world and the first ever intercity passenger railway started here. “Tourism is Liverpool’s future and a Lime Street – Edge Hill shuttle service could link with reviving the Botanic Gardens and the Littlewoods Building. “All this could mean jobs in what is currently a depressed, overlooked area. “Civic leaders now realise the value of football and Beatles, but the third unexploited area is our transport heritage. “Also, there is true ecological value in developing Wapping Tunnel for park and ride using electric buses.”
New campaign for cruises Daily Post and Liverpool City Council join forces to bring liner turnaround traffic back to the Pier Head
AFTER years of prevarication, Liverpool City Council has finally grasped the nettle by resolving to lobby central government to allow it to convert its existing cruise line stop-over facility into a terminal where cruises may start and finish. As things stand, European Union rules prevent Liverpool’s Princes Dock cruise facility being used as a starting point for cruises. That’s because the facility was built with £15m of EU grant money – and Europe’s state aid rules prevent public money from being used to give a business or a place a competitive advantage over its rivals. The council, led by Cllr Joe Anderson and backed by the Liverpool Daily Post, must persuade Whitehall to lift the legal restrictions that get in the way of the city’s ambitions. This will be a major Daily Post campaign, and it is hoped there will be a positive outcome by Christmas, before the cruise lines complete their 2012 itineraries. Cllr Anderson has written to Mike Penning MP, the transport minister responsible for ports. He has called on the new government to overturn last year’s decision that prevents the publicly-funded Mersey facility from expanding its day visit business and creating much needed private sector jobs. The campaign, which if successful would more than double the terminal’s £6ma-year economic impact, comes in the wake of political changes at both local and national government. There have also been two other major developments since Liverpool’s first submission was rejected. Firstly, the May 2010 European Cruise Council report estimated Liverpool’s UK market share as a turnaround terminal at maximum capacity would be just 3%. This is half of what was stated in its original submission. Secondly, there has been confirmation by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines that it will abandon its services from the Mersey at the end of spring, 2011. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines doubled capacity this year with its liner Boudicca. Although it sold practically all of its 7,700 berths, it will pull-out by mid-2011. Thomson Cruises and Saga Cruises both rejected operating from Liverpool, in spite of the huge business potential. The cruise lines are withdrawing from the Mersey because they are reluctant to use Peel’s Langton Dock Cruise Terminal, a poorly converted warehouse situated by Europe’s biggest scrap-metal heap. Langton Dock, a few miles to the north of Princes Dock, was voted by customers as Britain’s worst terminal. Operationally, cruise lines dislike having to lock into Langton Dock from a fastflowing river with a large tidal range. By next summer, there will be only one cruise liner occasionally based in Liverpool, the 700-berth Ocean Countess. In contrast, Princes Dock is immediately adjacent to Liverpool’s World Heritage Status waterfront and is much more convenient for the city centre. Cllr Anderson has asked the Department of Transport to consult again with competing UK ports.
Cunard Line’s QE2 officially opens the new Liverpool Cruise Terminal, in September, 2007 He cited the Prime Minister as a supporter after his “call to arms” for cities to drive the UK economy and for praising Liverpool as a UK role model for its rebirth as a major tourism destination. “This campaign is not just Liverpool’s, as this terminal has the potential to be the North West’s gateway for cruises,” said Cllr Anderson, currently also chairman of the Liverpool City Region cabinet. “I call on the support of all councils and MPs from Cumbria to Cheshire to support a cause which will reap economic dividends for the whole region. “For the spiritual home of the maritime industry, last year’s rejection to turnaround status was a real kick in the teeth, but the evidence for this was fundamentally flawed and the economic and political landscape has since radically altered in our favour. “In the current economic climate, it is
essential that Liverpool is allowed to develop its port infrastructure for the maximum benefit of the city and region. “The restriction currently imposed upon the terminal is hampering the style of sustainable economic growth Prime Minister Cameron is calling for. “Turnaround cruises from Liverpool will also be in addition to, and not instead of, current levels of business from other UK ports, so there are additional benefits to the UK balance of payments. “This is a genuine opportunity for the public and private sector to stimulate the kind of growth which will be of benefit to the whole country.” The City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal was opened in September, 2007. Since then, more than 70 ships, including Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 and HMS Ark Royal, have collectively carried 100,000 passengers and crew.
Cllr Joe Anderson
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Business-savvy universities New figures showing the extent of the links between higher education institutions and
IVERPOOL’S three universities are celebrating their entrepreneurial achievements, illustrated by a national survey of 160 UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The ninth Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI) measures the links and interactions between HEIs and business and the wider community, including the private, public and social enterprise sectors. It collects information on the infrastructure, capacity and strategy of HEIs, and also financial data regarding “third stream” activity, the activities concerned with the generation, use, application and exploitation of knowledge and other university resources outside academic environments. It reveals that links between universities and the wider world of business and communities produced a 5.5% increase in cash terms for the UK’s HEIs, rising from £2.8bn in 2007/08 to £2.9bn in the latest survey covering 2008/09. Given the uncertain economic conditions of the past two years, the survey indicates that academia has adopted a more flexible approach to issues affecting the commercial sector. For example, income from small businesses and other commercial business groups fell by up to 14% during 2008/09. And income from regeneration programmes overall declined, from around £238m in 2007/08 to £172m in the most recent survey. But exploitation of intellectual property continued to expand and the total number of new business start-ups created by university staff and new or recent graduates showed an increase of 29% and 4% – relating to 53 new companies and 2,031 new ventures – respectively during 2008/09. Nationally, start-ups active for three or more years also rose by 6% for staff and 26% for recent graduates. Drilling down into the latest HE-BCI findings provides encouragement for the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University, which broadly registered progress over eight key areas of activity covered within the survey. Liverpool Hope University and the University of Liverpool both generated more income in the latest survey from the value of continued professional development courses they offer, realising £547,000 compared with £276,000 a year earlier and £1.1m against £869,000, respectively. Liverpool JMU, on the other hand, suffered a slight fall, from £5.37m in 2007/08 to £5.29m most recently. All three managed to increase income from the value of
consultancy contracts they were involved in. Hope saw revenues jump from £24,000 to £153,000; JMU achieved £2.27m compared with £2.19m; while Liverpool University registered the best income of all 160 institutions, with £18.47m compared with £12.7m in 2007/08. The three institutions recorded mixed fortunes on income from regeneration and development programmes in the latest survey. While Hope saw revenues rise from £399,000 in 2007/08 to £564,000 last year, JMU’s income shrank from £4.55m to £3.37m, while the University of Liverpool suffered a decline from £7.04m to £3.04m. Our universities also saw a scaling back in the number of disclosures – the number of staff or student ideas registered before being investigated with a view to
establishing their potential for commercialisation. JMU’s disclosure level fell from 128 previously to 94, the University of Liverpool registered 44 compared with 33 the year before, while Hope registered none in this or the last survey. When it came to the number of start-ups established by graduates, Hope again failed to record any activity. JMU students created seven new ventures in the most recent survey compared with 20 the year before, while the University registered none, compared with five previously. None of the three universities registered any ventures created by their staff in 2008/09 – JMU set up one in 2007/08 – although this was in line with the general picture, as only 24 of the 160 UK’s HEIs registered a staff venture. Income from collaborative
research projects – co-funded by Government and business – rose from £2.02m to £2.05m for Liverpool JMU, while the University of Liverpool registered a fall, from £39.2m to £36.12m, which was still, nevertheless, the second-best registered by an institution during 2008/09. Hope derived no income from collaborative research during the two periods under review. However, it did fare better in the field of contract research where it enjoyed a modest increase from £20,000 in 2007/08 to £31,000 in the most recent survey. JMU also increased its income in this field, from £3.83m to £4.32m, although the University of Liverpool suffered a decline, from £17.32m to £13.86m. However, it reported many clients placing multiple contracts with the university, including 29
commissions from a single pharmaceutical company and 13 from a single household products company. Considering the eight criteria, the University of Liverpool’s interaction with business and the community earned it £72.6m in 2008/09, compared with £77.13m the previous year. Liverpool JMU received £17.31m, against £17.97m, and Hope earned £1.29m, up from £719,000. John Flamson, the University of Liverpool’s director of partnerships and innovation, said: “As a civic institution, the university takes very seriously its responsibility for using its knowledge-based assets to deliver positive economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits.” The university includes the School of Tropical Medicine, which has benefited from millions
focus on commercial world business and the community reveal Liverpool’s achievements, reports Neil Hodgson
Public health is a key focus for the University – the University of Liverpool’s director of partnerships and innovation, John Flamson
of pounds of donations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to tackle malaria. Mr Flamson added: “Public health is a key focus for the university, and, thanks to its strong links with NHS partners, it has been able to develop a large number of strategically important relationships with businesses. “These relationships have resulted in some significant contract and collaborative research projects with the potential to find cures and effective treatments for a wide range of illnesses affecting people, not only in the local community but in some of the poorest countries of the world. “In addition, the university has a long track record of working with businesses. “Access to our research expertise has enabled companies
to become more profitable through the development of new technologies, leaner manufacturing processes, management training programmes and new ways of approaching innovation.” Mr Flamson added: “The university looks forward to building on its successes in the HE-BCI survey by continuing to deliver real impact from its research expertise.” JMU commercial director John Barrett said: “In the year that LJMU achieved sales of over £5m for commercial enterprise, technology transfer and student entrepreneurship activity, it is encouraging to see that the university’s benchmarking against other UK HEIs also remained strong. “This year – 2009/10 – we have seen an even greater focus on
Liverpool Hope University’s new Hope Park Campus centre, in Childwall return on investment, in terms of income generation, growing our reputation, both at home and overseas, and fostering an entrepreneurial ethos among our student and staff communities. “In particular, these are exciting times for some of the university’s key spin-out companies, for the further expansion of our growing portfolio of international contracts and for our dynamic programme of entrepreneurship training and development.” Hope chief executive, resource management and planning, Dr Martin Carey, highlighted its links with community projects: “Liverpool Hope University over the last five years has undertaken a considerable amount of work among business and the community. “In terms of community, the
university regeneration arm, Urban Hope, secured £30m capital investment to develop capital initiatives in some of the poorest wards in Liverpool. “This involved securing investment and delivering the projects in collaboration with community based social enterprises. “In terms of business development, Liverpool Hope has, in the last two years, secured over £7m capital and £1.1m revenue to develop a Business Gateway. The Business Gateway has worked with all sectors including SMEs (small firms) and social enterprises. “The university has developed an infrastructure of 17 enterprise fellows, three continuing professional development academic staff and the appointment of a core team with a proven
track record of employer engagement. Secondly, it has developed an incubation strategy which offers quality facilities and services to university graduates setting up a business. “Last year, it instigated the 02 Graduate Enterprise awards, which provided interest free loans to three successful graduate businesses, as well as a range of business services. “Liverpool Hope also secured funding from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to undertake a range of initiatives with companies who were facing difficulties through the economic recession. “This grant award was the largest on Merseyside.” Dr Carey added: “The opening of a new business support centre at Hope Park Campus marks the continuation of all this work.”
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BUSINESS LUNCH Tony McDonough meets Simon Whitnall, director of Synergy Fitness Studios, at Salt House Tapas ONCE read a biography of legendary Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley in which it described how, as the club’s physio, he could spot an injury in a player even before it had occurred. Simon Whitnall lays claim to the same talent – which is reassuring for his clients. The director of Liverpool-based Synergy Fitness Studios said: “When I walk down the street and watch people walking and moving, I can often spot problems straight away.” Simon runs Synergy, in Lord Street, in the city centre, along with his partner and fellow director, Emma. He joined me for lunch at the Salt House Tapas restaurant, in Hanover Street. The business actually does much more than it says on the tin. Both Simon and Emma hail from New Zealand, where they established themselves in the field of sports science. Antipodean sports science is generally regarded as being years ahead of the UK. Given how many of our top footballers seem to like their beer and the odd fag, that is easy to believe. Says Simon: “I played sport in New Zealand, including Rugby League, Rugby Union and cricket, and I became interested in sports performance and the science behind it.” In New Zealand, the couple became connected to a variety of medical professionals and clients would be referred between them, according to the needs identified. It is this holistic approach that the couple have brought to Liverpool. “People might come to us looking for personal training because they feel they want to be fitter,” said Simon. “We will look at their whole lifestyle – their diet, sleeping habits, how many hours they are working. “It could be they are too tired to work out so the first advice to them may be to get some rest, learn to laugh and relax, and then, three weeks down the line, we will start putting together a workout programme.” Synergy’s philosophy is that everything is interconnected – exercise, diet, work-life balance, mental health. Rather than taking one aspect in isolation, they look at the bigger picture. The business employs a team
which includes personal trainers, functional medical practitioners (Emma’s speciality), sports therapists, nutritionists and massage therapists. And all must adhere to the holistic approach. “That can actually make recruitment quite difficult,” says Simon. “If one of our staff sees something which one of the other practitioners needs to look at, then the client will also be referred to them.” I’m a big fan of tapas, but had never tried Salt House before. Liverpool One is blessed with many eateries, and I have found the better ones tend to be scattered around the edges of the development. I have to say I’ve never been that impressed with the food I’ve been served in some of the places up on the food terrace. Maybe the sheer number of people coming through impacts on quality. However, if you’re prepared to take a little bit longer to have a look around, there are some decent quality establishments to be found. Lunya has established a solid reputation since opening earlier this year and Jamie’s Italian also seems quite promising. So I had high hopes for Salt House Tapas. The semi-circular dining area is welcoming, with big windows offering lots of natural light. We were met by smiling faces as soon as we entered, which helped to ensure a relaxed dining experience. What to order and how much to order can be a real dilemma in tapas restaurants, and I find it is best to over order to
Salt House Tapas, in Hanover Street, on the edge of Liverpool One avoid a trip to the chippy on the way home. I was impressed with the range on offer on the menu and the dishes we ordered were: pan-fried sea bass with samphire, mushrooms and shallots; potato tortilla, roasted butternut squash, goat’s curd, rocket and spiced almond crumbs, chargrilled lamb cutlets with mint salsa, meatballs in tomato sauce and chargrilled fillet steak, crushed white beans, spinach and picos cheese. Service was swift and I liked how they didn’t bring all of the dishes out all at once, and instead spread out the serving of the food over about 20 minutes. This felt more civilised than having all the dishes all at once. The quality of the food was definitely a cut above what I’ve had at other tapas eateries. The potato tortilla was mouthmeltingly marvellous, the lamb and the steak were tender and juicy, and the sauce with the meatballs was a tangy delight. The seabass was cooked to perfection and the roasted butternut squash was simply delicious.
The dishes were accompanied by generous helpings of freshly prepared salad. The whole ensemble was very impressive and well-presented. The dishes on offer from the tapas menu range in price from £3.50 up to £8.95. Simon added: “I liked the food very much. “It was fresh, clean and with so many natural colours from all the dishes. “The meal was well balanced with lots of flavour from the fish, chicken and meat options to the salads and accompaniments – a very pleasant lunch.” That is high praise indeed from a man who knows a thing or two about nutrition. Synergy very much targets the business community, and Simon said it is not unusual to have clients who are working 16-18 hours days in high-pressure environments. “We can show them that if they improve their health and well-being, then they may find themselves working more efficiently and not have to work such long hours. “Sometimes you might have someone who is eating well and exercising regularly but is
perhaps not shifting the weight as they should. “Something like stress can cause digestive problems, and, if your stomach is not in good shape, then that can affect how well it absorbs nutrients.” Simon added that most of us would be surprised the dramatic effects the right or the wrong nutrition can have. He cited a study that looked into the effects of a full English breakfast on the body. “It found that, minutes after eating it, ph levels (amount of acid) rose very quickly, heightening the risk of disease,” he said. Just as well we didn’t do the interview in a greasy spoon – I do like a bit of bacon and egg, and he may have spoiled my appetite.
DETAILS Salt House Tapas Hanover Street Liverpool L1 3DW Tel: 0151 706 0092 www.salthousetapas.co.uk
THE BUSINESS LIST Tuesday, November 2
A seminar for Knowsley businesses on using social media to market your business is being held at Newsprinters, Knowsley Business Park from 8am-10am. Paul Fabretti, Director of Manchester's first dedicated social media agency Gabba, will take about why social media matters. It is free for members of Knowsley Chamber of Commerce and £15+VAT for non-members.
NOVEMBER 2 AND 17/ BUSINESS FAIRS IN LIVERPOOL AND HALTON
Friday, November 5 The Area 51 business breakfast, organised by Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, is at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s training and development academy in Croxteth. It is from 7.30am-9am and costs £15 for members and £20 for non-members. To book, call 0151 227 1234.
Wed, November 10 Wirral-based Property Investors Alliance welcomes successful property investor Glenn Armstrong to its monthly meeting at The Grange, Thornton Hough. To book the event, which costs £15, visit www.property investorsalliance.co.uk
Tuesday, November 16 The West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is holding its business breakfast at Mollington Banastre, from 7.30am-9am. It costs £10+VAT for members or £15+VAT for non-members. Call 01244 669988 to book.
Tuesday, November 16 Liverpool Chamber of Commerce’s November platform lunch will see six-minute presentations from three businesses. It is at Panoramic Liverpool, West Tower, from 12.15pm-2.30pm and costs £25 for members and £30 for non-members. To book, call 0151 227 1234.
Business fairs are taking place this month at St George’s Hall and Stobart Stadium Halton NOVEMBER sees two business fairs take place in the city region. The first is on November 2 at St George’s Hall. More than 60 companies and organisations are exhibiting at
Merseyside Business Fair, which has established itself as a fixture in the calendar since its first event in 2002. The day also includes workshops on tax advice for small businesses, website
Thursday, November 18 Haydock Park’s managing director Dickon White will be
design and creating a marketing plan. The Halton & Warrington Business Fair takes place at Stobart Stadium Halton in Widnes on Wednesday, November 17. It also has a full day
of free workshops, alongside the exhibition, which include advice on winning public sector tenders, achieving a work-life balance, and tips on practical profit growth. Both events are free
Wed, November 24
talking about the Racecourse’s ambitious plans to maintain their status as the UK's busiest racecourse and develop a new, exciting events programme to target non race-goers. The St Helens Chamber business breakfast is free to members and £20 for nonmembers. To register, visit www. sthelenschamber.com/events
Ubiquity PR is hosting Hetropolitan, a new male-only quarterly networking event at Novotel, Hanover Street from 5.30pm to 8pm. The event aims to attract the cream of the North West’s profesional services. The event is free but guest list only via enquiries to email@example.com
Thursday, November 18
Haydock Park’s MD Dickon White
Knowsley HR Forum is holding a two-hour workshop on how to conduct discipline and grievance meetings. It will look at practical advice on issues including How to follow a “fair procedure” and tips on dealing with unhappy employees.
to attend and are from 10.30am to 3.30pm. For more information about the Merseyside Business Fair, visit tinyurl.com/mbizfair, and for details on the Halton and Warrington Business Fair, see tinyurl.com/hbizfair
Friday, November 26 West Tower, home to Panoramic Restaurant It is at the Express by Holiday Inn, Ribblers Lane, and is free to Knowsley Chamber of Commerce members and £10+VAT for non-members.
The monthly Daresbury Business Breakfast brings together around 100 people working for hi-tech companies. The breakfast is at Daresbury Innovation Centre, starting from 8am. For more details, see www.daresburysic.co.uk/events
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ALISTAIR HOUGHTON . . . in which we follow in Tintin’s footsteps to hunt for the secrets of networking at The Jacques Delors Building T’S part of your job to network,” said the flipchart on the Brussels office wall. And that’s a European directive with which we can all agree. I spent a couple of days in the Belgian capital last month, on assignment for LDP Business, giving me a chance to see how Brussels entertains. The answer, it seems, is generously. Brussels has, perhaps thanks to years of tabloid disdain for its Eurocrats, developed a reputation as rather a grey place. The centre of the city is in fact a fascinating place, centred around the glorious Grand Place, arguably Europe’s most beautiful square. Finer even than Williamson Square, hard though that is to believe. The European district, however, seemed on my brief visit to consist of canyons of grey offices. I was there for the Open Days event celebrating the “8th European Week of Regions and Cities”, and was based in a mirror-glassed block whose name would have sent shivers down the spine of any connoisseurs of vintage Euroscepticism – The Jacques Delors Building. Inside was a warren of offices and exhibition stands. After passing dozens of stands promoting trans-Ruritanian
co-operation, I eventually heard the sound of clinking glasses and followed it to the event’s media reception. No stale vol-au-vents here. Instead, there were salads and main courses a-plenty. I dug into the platter of meatballs and blackened courgettes – delicious. Being Belgium, they also offered chocolate mousse and Leffe beer. I chose the mousse, but not the beer – after all, I had Euromeetings to sit through, and stories to file. But not everyone was so cautious. At the European Commission HQ two days later, I noticed that quite a lot of people in the canteen were drinking beer at lunchtime – and Belgian beer is hardly shandy. Perhaps that was connected to the fact that – or so one local journo gleefully informed us – “Duvel is cheaper than water” at the Commission’s bars. ACK to my first day. And, in the evening, those exhibition areas were filling up with delegates milling, clutching wine and fine Belgian ales – a refreshing change from the tepid lager you might be lucky to get at a British event. Again, I had to dash for another meeting. But my hopes were high for the social centrepiece of the week, which came the following night – the
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, centre, gets into the party spirit with ‘Thomson and Thompson’, from the Tintin stories
Open Days reception at the Belgian Comic Strip Center. The venue is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brussels, a shrine to Belgian legends including Tintin and the Smurfs. As if that weren’t enough, it’s housed in a palatial Art Nouveau building regarded as the masterpiece of Belgian architect Victor Horta. So it promised to be a veritable Glastonbury of networking – and, surely, the only chance on my visit to network over a fine Belgian ale. Before that, though, there were more meetings. We met, for example, a European Commission official for an off-the-record briefing in another anonymous room off another wide boulevard. And it was there I spotted a piece of flipchart paper taped to a wall, bearing some inspirational messages. “It’s part of your job to network,” was credited to the HR unit. And “Have fun while networking,” was credited to one Anna Eliasson Lundquist. That evening, stories filed, I took those maxims to heart by heading for the Comic Strip Center. Guests were welcomed by a pair of actors dressed as Thomson and Thompson, the bumbling detectives from Hergé’s Tintin books. I resisted the temptation to flash the Tintin cufflinks I was wearing in tribute to Belgian’s most famous journalistic export. Instead, I sauntered inside, past models of Tintin’s moon rocket and Captain Haddock in a space suit, and into the melee. There were, I was told later, 3,000 people at the reception. It was easy to believe. I tried to make my way to the exhibits, but the sheer mass of revellers – sorry, networkers – made it impossible. I was stuck. Luckily, I was in the same room as the buffet. But there was one major disappointment. There was no beer. Wine, yes. But, at a showcase reception in the heart of Europe’s beer capital, there was not a sniff of a Dubbel or Trippel to be had. Champagne was flowing, but “Brussels Champagne” – the tart gueuze beer that is a speciality of the Belgian capital – was nowhere to be seen. Truly, a mystery fit for Tintin. Just before that Comic Strip Center fiesta, I went to North West House, our region’s small office in Brussels, for their annual reception. That was a much more British affair – just a couple of bottles of wine on a table and a couple of bowls of snacks. Yet it was friendly, welcoming, and buzzing with contacts keen to tell me about their work. It may not have boasted the lavish Eurobudgets of the Open Days receptions, yet it’s the Brussels event I’ll remember with most fondness. Networking, it seems, doesn’t have to be expensive.
The Liverpool Hilton Hotel was the venue for the first Everton Player of the Month Lunch for the 2010/11 Season, which saw goalkeeper Tim Howard rewarded for his performances during September. The American stopper topped the poll conducted on evertonfc.com and picked up his award at the event presented by TW Steel, big in oversized watches, in association with MSB Solicitors and Stephen Evans. Blues legend Graeme Sharp, compere for the event, was joined by fellow Blues legends who each hosted a table and gave diners an insight on what it is like to wear the royal blue of Everton.
“The Player of the Month Lunches are fantastic,” said Sharp. “While it’s special for the winning player, it’s also a great opportunity for guests to meet some of the faces of the past and hear tales of some of the things we got up to.“
“The chance to dine with a player is obviously one which is too good to miss, so it’s no surprise the lunches are always popular.” “This is the first time we have held such an event away from Goodison Park” explained Dave Biggar, Everton’s Commercial Director. “While there is no other place to be on matchday than Goodison, we’re excited to be in the city centre for these lunches this season.
They are an ideal environment for business to business networking in a convenient location and all in the time it takes to play a game of football. “
Priced at £99 including VAT for two, there are a limited number of places are available for next month’s lunch on Wednesday 24 November.
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For more information call 0151 530 5300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SOCIAL DIARY THE NETWORKER
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Staff from Middleton and Co, Solicitors, enjoying the pre-match derby day hospitality in the Brian Labone Suite
Mr and Mrs Sefton Browne at the St Helens Rugby League Club’s Greatest 17 Gala Dinner
CAROLYN HUGHES Match sponsor Stephen Evans, with Stuart Ross, of PAX Leisure, in the 1878 Suite at Goodison, for the derby clash with Liverpool
FANS enjoyed the Everton FC Hospitality rooms after the home win against Liverpool in style. The extra-special matchday experience combined the thrill and excitement of the derby game, spectacular views from the new seating area in the Main Stand and exclusive executive facilities. Fans arrived before the game enjoying a hearty three-course meal with wine in The Blue hospitality suites. ■ STYLISH GUSTO bar and restaurant, at the Albert Dock, hosted a fundraising lunch in aid of the Woodlands Hospice. The event raised over £5,000. ■ THE great and the good from the property
world turned out in force to support the official launch of Davis Beyga Estates, in Allerton Road, last week. Guests were treated to canapés, cup cakes and Champagne. ■ ST HELENS Rugby League Club are celebrating the success of their Farewell Festival. Saints Greatest 17 Gala Dinner, compered by Gordon Burns, paid tribute to some of the greatest players in the club’s history. ■ LIVERPOOL councillor Gary Millar recently hosted the LJMU Entrepreneur Awards Event, at the Liverpool Athenaeum Club, with five awards sponsored by Liverpool Vision, TJ Morris, Young Enterprise and LJMU.
Lynne Hamilton, of Age Concern, with Selina North, of Boodles, Liverpool, at the GUSTO bar and restaurant fundraising lunch
David Evans and Joanne Grundy enjoying the sponsorship package at the derby match
Elle Beyga and Ben Davis, at the Beyga Davis property offices launch
LJMU Entrepreneurial Alumnus of the Year Award 2010 winners, Its About Websites owners Paul Court and Gavin Sherratt, receive their award from Cllr Gary Millar
Jane Joseph, of Crown Productions, with Radio City presenter Peter Price, at the GUSTO lunch
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