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
BUSINESS w w w . l d p b u s i n e s s . c o . u k February 2012
On the up
Firms defying the economic gloom
Nuts about snacks Trigon plans for growth
● In the zone: Are Enterprise Zones the answer? ● Digital future: Fund backs AIMES ● Growth: Delivery firm goes global1
Wirral manufacturer embarks on expansion drive
BUSINESS WRITERS Bill Gleeson 0151 472 2319
Tony McDonough 0151 330 4918
Delsol is going global to satisfy demands of clients
Alistair Houghton 0151 472 2449
Defying the downturn to get Merseyside moving again
Peter Elson 0151 472 2502
Brian Cardy, managing director of Trigon Snacks
21 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT How Enterprise Zones will benefit the Liverpool city region
Neil Hodgson 0151 472 2451
HEAD OF IMAGES Barrie Mills
MARKETING EXECUTIVE Cath Reeves 0151 285 8428
26 HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
ADVERTISEMENT DIRECTOR Debbie McGraw
Cheshire biomass business sees huge potential for growth
ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER Jackie McMahon 0151 330 5077
28 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Lingley Mere Business Park promotes design and build
MSIF gives backing to Liverpool’s digital future
32 KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
Merseyside’s knowledge economy champion outlines his vision
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35 BUSINESS LUNCH
34 THE LIST
TELEPHONE 0151 227 2000
Key dates for your diary
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Alistair Houghton samples the delights of the Albert Dock
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38 SOCIAL DIARY
Carolyn Hughes out on the town
IN THIS edition of Post Business, we attempt to dispel at least some of the gloom that has settled over the economy over the past six months. There is a clear view that the uncertainties in the eurozone have put the dampeners on what was a brief spurt of growth in Britain in 2010. A year later, we fear the prospect of a double-dip recession. What we have tried to do in the this month’s Big Feature is to push aside the dark clouds by looking at those firms that continue to enjoy business growth, despite the wider economic conditions. Far from making people redundant, these same firms are recruiting staff.
ADVERTISEMENT SALES Neil Johnson 0151 472 2705 Trudie Arlett 0151 472 2476 Julie Cowley 0151 472 2311
BILL GLEESON We try to work out what it is they are doing that allows them to make progress in today’s tough conditions. One key factor is export sales. One big difference between now and previous recessions is the beneficial influence of the emerging nations. Brazil, China, India and Russia are all getting bigger. Brazil’s economy is now widely thought to be bigger than Britain’s. In time,
Russia and India will also be bigger than Britain’s economy, as well as those of France and Germany. While, at first sight, this seems to be bad news for Britain because it loses its status as one of the most influential countries in the world, it is, in fact, very good news indeed. It means the world’s economy has become more diverse. It means our firms aren’t reliant just on their traditional export markets in Europe and America. Our economy can
now be propped up by China and Brazil and the others. The old adage that when America sneezes Europe catches a cold will one day no longer be true. America can suffer a bad dose of influenza, but we can immunise ourselves by selling to the newly-emerged markets. Some of the companies we have interviewed have clearly benefited from selling to more diverse market places. Realistically, though, the economy remains weak. We can’t all buck a trend. Widespread business growth won’t be restored
and unemployment begin to fall until Europe’s currency problems are overcome. Fingers crossed, that won’t be all that far in the future. Nevertheless, the firms we quoted inside today are examples that others might choose to emulate. Their success is not down to pure luck. There is a high degree of skill and know-how behind what they have achieved. It does suggest that there are still rewards out there for those that are determined to succeed. Hopefully, this is not grasping at straws. Most economists think things will begin to improve by the end of 2012.
BILL GLEESON 3
Accountancy firm consolidates wealth team LEGAL
The Mitchell Charlesworth wealth management team
MERSEYSIDE accountancy firm Mitchell Charlesworth has made its third appointment in as many months to its expanding wealth management team. The firm, which has offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Warrington and Widnes, has appointed Michael Mansfield-Corbett, from RBS, as pensions and investments consultant. It comes within a month of Neil Martin joining the firm from PKF as head of financial planning and the appointment of Sarah Godfree as office manager. Managing partner David Darlington said: “Michael brings real experience and expertise.”
Manufacturer aiming for 2012 expansion WIRRAL conveyor maker is marking its 10th anniversary with a boost to turnover and a recruitment drive. Sovex, based on Prenton Business Park, specialises in the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of conveyor systems, mainly used in the parcel handling industry, and numbers UK Mail and DHL among its blue-chip clients. A spate of new contracts means the business is now on course to boost its revenues by 25% from £8m to £10m for its current financial year. The firm currently employs 73 staff, including electrical engineers, welders, fitters and fabricators at its Prenton headquarters, and 30 service engineers based around the UK. It has now launched a recruitment drive for more service engineers in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds to cope with increased demand from the new orders. Sovex managing director David Lindfield said: “A tenth anniversary is an important landmark for any business – and it’s fantastic to be making good profits, employing more staff and achieving rapid growth at this point in our evolution. “Put simply, we’ve bucked the recession because we have great products and we love engineering our way out of a problem for our customers. “Another major reason for our success is because we serve the parcel industry which has grown exponentially because of internet sales from the likes of Amazon and Ebay.” He added: “The blue-chip clients we work for and our full and record-breaking order book means that we are looking forward to the next 10 years with confidence.”
Sovex managing director David Lindfield – optimistic
Stella Kuit, Head of Private Immigration, QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter Employing Migrant Workers AS FORMER Attorney General Baroness Scotland is quite aware, employers now have a duty to ensure that all new employees have permission to work in the United Kingdom. With civil penalties now in place for up to £10,000 for each illegal worker employed, it is vital that the appropriate measures are put in place by an employer before considering employing a migrant. You do not need to apply for permission to employ a migrant who is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, although there are restrictions on some nationals of countries that have recently joined the EEA, such as Romania and Bulgaria. However, permission from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is required if you wish to employ a migrant from outside the EEA or Switzerland. Applications for this permission can be made under the points based system whereby migrants must pass a stringent points assessment prior to being issued with permission to enter or stay in the United Kingdom. Alternatively, a migrant may already have some form of temporary or permanent permission to remain in the United Kingdom which entitles them to work (for example, students working hours permitted during term time and those on graduate or spouse visas). Where a UK-based organisation wishes to employ a migrant under the points-based system, they must first apply for a sponsorship licence from the UKBA. Prior to applying for this licence, it is essential that you have a thorough human resource system and the appropriate compliance
measures in place, so that you are able to maintain a record and monitor the migrants that you employ to the standard set by the UKBA. As a sponsor licence holder, it is your duty to make sure that any migrants that you have employed maintain the conditions imposed on their entry clearance or leave to remain (visas). You must also ensure that you keep a detailed record of all migrants employed, and ensure that you report any changes to the UKBA immediately (eg, where a migrant does not turn up for work). Failure to comply with these duties will result in your licence being downgraded or withdrawn. Similar duties also extend to ensuring that thorough checks are made against migrant employees who do not have leave under the pointsbased system. This includes, but is not limited to, checking current and previous passports for evidence of an entitlement to work together with the validity of biometric residence permits which are now issued in some cases as an alternative to a stamp being placed in a migrant’s passport. The Government places this burden of stringent requirements and onerous duties on employers who must be ever-vigilant in ensuring that they follow the current rules to the letter. A well-organised and efficient approach to making the right checks from the outset is therefore the key to keeping within these strict regulations and not falling foul of the UKBA’s heavy civil penalty scheme.
‘You must ensure you keep a record of all migrants employed ’
■ FOR MORE information, email: stellakuit@ qualitysolicitors.com ■ IN ASSOCIATION with QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter
When it comes to training - thinking outside of the box can offer new income streams
n often overlooked way to develop your business surrounds training specifically how to train your staff. Whilst the majority outsource this function, a growing number of businesses have identified they already have the people on hand to deliver staff development, with this talent often desirable and transferable to the wider market-place. When budgets are tight, training is often deemed as ‘non-essential expenditure’. This can be short sighted as training budgets can be translated into a valuable asset. So how should a company embrace this opportunity? Firstly, identify the talent within your organisation. Whilst courses and coaching will provide the necessary technical skills required to deliver successful and effective training, strong personal and communication skills are essential soft skills that should be possessed by the individual from the outset. Training these people to be the trainers is the next stage. By investing in key individuals to equip them with the appropriate teaching and
Holt Green Training’s Managing Director, Jim Parr learning approaches within your industry’s field, you can effectively generate and develop your own in-house training department that will evolve as your business grows. Take this one stage further and generate additional revenue streams by exploiting your business’s enhanced skill set. By outsourcing your training services to support other businesses you can potentially become a centre of excellence for your industry. At Holt Green Training we provide a range of bespoke and standard business focused training packages, including the nationally recognised Preparing to Teach in the
Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) certificate. Assessing your individual requirements, we tailor course material to suit your business needs - and of course those of the individuals. Upon completion, course attendees will be able to plan, deliver, and evaluate their own teaching sessions that motivate learners, whilst incorporating different assessment methods to evaluate effectiveness. Based in Ormskirk, covering the North West and beyond, Holt Green Training’s Managing Director, Jim Parr said: “We have had an amazing level of interest in train the trainer style courses, particularly over the last twelve months. “Businesses are accepting they are only as good as their staff, and investment in training can lead to direct financial benefits coupled with motivated, skilled employees.
• To find out more about
Holt Greet Training courses available, or just to simply talk about how they can help achieve your business goals email: enquiries@ holtgreentraining.co.uk or call 01695 424262
New opportunities New skills New revenue streams… Training people can be a very rewarding and highly profitable career. Whether you’re considering a complete career change, looking to enhance your skill set or the skills of your organisation, Holt Green Training offer a range of bespoke Train the Trainer courses designed to give you the skills and confidence to deliver highly effective training.
Talk to us about how we can help unlock your new potential.
Tel: 01695 424262 email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.holtgreentraining.co.uk @Holt_Green
With Peter Mooney, head of employment law at ELAS
I’M WORRIED that my staff are using sites such as LinkedIn just to market themselves to new employers, and don’t want this to reflect badly on my company. Staff seem to be updating the site outside office hours, so is there anything I can do?
WITH the increase in use and accessibility of social media both at work and at leisure, this is an issue many employers face. For a long time, too many businesses have only concerned themselves with what staff are doing during normal working hours, but what they do outside work can also reflect badly on your business, so shouldn’t just be ignored. Just last week, human resources executive, John Flexman, is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after he was disciplined for indicating on LinkedIn that he was interested in “career opportunities”. His case is ongoing and has been postponed until later in the year. But employees don’t need to advertise the fact that they’re looking for a move to do damage to your reputation. At ELAS, we advise employers to be as careful as possible when it comes to the use of social media, both by staff and by themselves. The first thing employers must do is define what is “appropriate” and what is “inappropriate” use of websites and social media. Once that is clear, you can then draft and implement a policy for employees to sign which reflects this. My company recently asked 1,000 small businesses whether or not they have a
specific social media policy to deal with staff ’s representation of themselves and their employers on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and found that as many as 65% of businesses not only didn’t have a policy but had made no attempt to outline what was acceptable for employees to say and post online. Once armed with a policy, employers are well within their rights to remind staff that they are ambassadors for their companies around the clock, and make clear that anything which brings the business into disrepute cannot be tolerated – and that includes anything from misbehaving at an office party to openly looking for a new job. Although most of us look for new jobs at some point in our careers, businesses are well within their rights to discipline staff who openly do so, providing they follow some basic procedures to ensure they are treating their staff fairly. The moment they don’t act fairly, they can quickly find themselves with a potentially very costly tribunal claim on their hands, whether or not they have a watertight policy in place. That means that, just as staff need to learn to play by the rules, so must bosses. If you are going to set a rule and discipline employees for behaving in a certain way, you must ensure that you apply that rule fairly for everyone.
‘Employers must define appropriate use of social media’
■ CONTACT the team at ELAS on 0161 785 2000 or visit www.elas.uk.com. For daily news, advice and employer information, please follow us on Twitter at: twitter.com/ELAS or visit the ELAS Facebook page. ■ IN ASSOCIATION with ELAS
Employers will be able to find out how their businesses can benefit from apprentices
College to push apprenticeships
Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
Wirral Met looks to engage with business community WIRRAL Metropolitan College is using National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from February 6-10, to promote its apprenticeship training programmes to the borough’s business community. Activities are being held across the UK and the college’s employer services department will be hosting two events when employers can meet its Tower Quays-based team and find out how apprenticeships can benefit their businesses. Sue Ennis, one of the college’s employment advisers, said: “Many young people are seeing apprenticeships as an alternative to university, and we want to explain to businesses the advantages of offering real jobs via a structured apprenticeship route.” Both events are being held at Egerton House, Birkenhead. The first, on Tuesday, February
7, is from 8-10am, when Di Fitch, enterprise co-ordinator at Wirral Met, will talk about the New Enterprise Partnership. At the second event, on Thursday, February 9, which will run from 5-7pm, there will be a presentation by Mark Donnelly, North West employer services manager with the National Apprenticeship Service. Apprentice employers Harriet Gee and Stuart Jackson, of Ice Creates, Jenny Horner, of Stonebridge Stewart, and Fred Howard, of Frederick Howard Opticians, will be there on both days to tell delegates about their experiences and Wirral Met advisers, tutors and assessors will be on hand to answer questions. The Employer Services team will also be raising the Wirral Met profile at a major conference and
Mark Donnelly, Apprenticeship Service North West employer services manager exhibition in Manchester. The annual Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) event on March 6 and 7 will this year focus on solutions to health and safety challenges.
Delsol director Tony Parry says the firm now has the ability to track a parcel at any time during its journey
Delivery firm now has the whole world in its hands Demand from clients prompts transport company to launch new international service
CHESHIRE and North Wales transport firm Delivery Solutions (Delsol) is launching a new worldwide international delivery service, in response to growing demand from the region’s exporters. Delsol director Tony Parry told Post Business that the Sandycroft-based firm was focusing the service on documents, parcels and pallets. “We have run an international service for a number of years;
however, we are seeing a real increase in demand so we are expanding and strengthening our offer,” he said. “Our new service will ensure that we monitor all the best deals on a daily basis for road and air deliveries overseas, so our Chester, Cheshire and North Wales clients receive the best possible value. “Moreover, our international service will include sourcing the best deals and delivery times for the import market for customers
receiving goods from abroad.” Mr Parry said a key benefit to its revamped international offering would be the ability to track a parcel at any time during its journey. He added: “Delsol prides itself on being able to offer a track and trace service for all packages, wherever they are in the world. “With our commitment to customer satisfaction, we ensure a client can always speak to a person to track their parcel,
rather than an answer machine. This is a vital dimension to the international service.” Mr Parry said another benefit of the international package would be the simplified paperwork. “With many customers already using us for UK deliveries, it is straightforward to extend that to international deliveries,” he said. “Our team is able to manage the shipping paperwork and simplify the process for clients, taking the
spadework out of the job for busy businesses.” Delsol announced its most successful year of trading in December, growing turnover by 21%, to £5.2m. The firm operates from two depots in Deeside and Caernarfon, running 50 vehicles. Last month, the firm was shortlisted for the second year running for the High Sheriff of Cheshire Enterprise Awards, which take place in March.
THE BIG FEATURE
Lifting the clouds
The morning sun dispelling clouds over the city skyline – but how bright are the region’s economic prospects in 2012?
Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
BY BILL GLEESON
Despite all the doom and gloom about at the moment, the region is full of firms that are continuing to grow and thrive. Surprisingly, many of them are in manufacturing.
THE BIG FEATURE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 AST month, France suffered the ignominy of seeing its government bonds lose their giltedged “triple A” credit rating status. It was the latest example of gloom to afflict the financial news pages and wires. Publishing its opinion, credit agency Standard & Poor’s stated its view that austerity measures were insufficient to restore Europe’s ailing economies to growth. The clear inference was that the European Central Bank needed to relax monetary policy more. The view that spending cuts alone are not enough appears to be gaining currency among many economic commentators. Something needs to be done to prevent Britain and Europe bumping along the bottom of the trough of the current economic cycle. One forthright proponent of the need to do more is Goldman Sachs’s chairman, Jim O’Neil. Mr O’Neil said: “One of the more revealing pieces of news so far this year is that Spain’s budget deficit appears to be closer to 8% than 6%, an announcement that was followed by plans to further tighten fiscal policy. “When you consider the fact that, before 2008, Spain appeared to have the best fiscal position of the Big 5 euro area member economies, you can see the importance of the lack of growth. “In this context, without some off-setting measures elsewhere, all indebted countries tightening fiscal policy further, simply to satisfy some new numerical target doesn’t seem like sensible economics, especially for those with large youth unemployment. “To complicate matters, some euro area policymakers realise the potential insanity of the above and have inserted an ‘escape clause’ into the fiscal compact discussions that allows countries to avoid tightening further ‘in periods of severe economic downturn’. “Whether Berlin and Frankfurt will agree remains to be seen. The early signs from ECB members is that they worry it will be an excuse for countries to avoid structural challenges. “From a big picture perspective, there is a lot of evidence that major fiscal tightening, especially if it includes reductions in government spending, is rather key to raising countries’ economic growth potential. “If you throw in supply side reforms, and easier monetary conditions, such as a decline in the exchange rate and lower interest rates, this is the classic recipe for a nice long-term outcome. “However, given the constraints of a monetary union, and one seemingly dominated by Germanic caution, it is not so obvious that we can get there. “Where the euro area can achieve more competitiveness is against the rest of the world.” Mr O’Neil called for an easier monetary policy from the ECB, together with greater efforts to reduce long-term interest rates in the troubled southern European countries. He said a more liberal monetary policy would off-set the worst effects of public sector austerity cuts around Europe.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy – It was a tough year for the world economy, but traffic is growing, and the number of middle Irrespective of government policy, there are some positive signs about the British economy. There has been some economic and business performance data that suggests not everybody is struggling. Last month, for example, saw stronger-than-expected growth in the all-important services sector. The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), where a reading above 50 indicates growth, showed services rose to 54 in December, up from 52.1 the previous month. City analysts had expected the reading to fall to 51.5. It comes on top of better-than-expected performances for the manufacturing and construction
sectors in December. The reading across all three sectors rose to 53.2 in December, from 51.2 in November, in the strongest expansion since July. Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said: “Services are likely to have expanded by around 0.3% to 0.4% in the final quarter, down from 0.7% in the third quarter but off-setting a renewed downturn in manufacturing and sluggish growth of construction to help the UK avoid a slide back into recession, at least for now.” Nor is it just national statistics and surveys that offer a glimmer of hope. There are plenty of examples of national and local businesses that remain strong. One of the biggest
manufacturing employers in our region enjoyed a bumper 2011, achieving record sales and better market share than its principal rival. Airbus, which employs around 7,000 people at Broughton, near Chester, sold almost twice as many planes as Boeing in 2011, after gambling on a revamped fuel-efficient jetliner, and delivered more jets than its rival for the ninth year running. Figures released by the European planemaker on Tuesday confirmed the popularity of narrow-body jets offering significant fuel savings based on new engines available from mid-decade. Airbus said it had won orders for 1,608 aircraft or a net total of
1,419 after cancellations, giving it a record market share of 64% by volume or 54 to 56% by value. The tally includes over 1,220 A320neos, a revamped 150-seat workhorse launched just over a year ago and which prompted Boeing to update its own bestselling jet as the 737 MAX. Airbus and Boeing are banking on demand for fuel savings to help airlines stay alive as oil prices remain unusually high through the downturn. Airbus moved first, sweeping up an initial wave of orders in the largest segment of the industry, which is valued at $2 trillion over the next 20 years. Airbus confirmed it had delivered 534 aircraft in 2011. The
THE BIG FEATURE
Can our key sectors grow during 2012? Economic planners pinpoint vital areas for expansion
THE region’s economic planners have already identified the sectors most likely to create economic growth in Merseyside in the years ahead. The four sectors identified are the low-carbon economy, the visitor economy, the knowledge economy and portrelated activity. But, in the shorter term, how will these sectors cope with difficult conditions? Late last year, aspirations to develop low-carbon industries received a double boost from Cammell Laird. After months of diligent negotiation, the Birkenhead shipyard secured a major investment from RWE npower renewables. Laird’s engineering expertise and sizeable infrastructure will be used to develop a shore base to support the energy giant’s expansion of the Gwynt-yMor wind farm, off the North Wales coast. The investment has been valued at £5bn and 2,000 jobs could be created at the Wirral yard. Site preparation and construction work are already well-advanced. RWE project director Toby Edmonds said: “Cammell Laird now has the opportunity to showcase its capability to the offshore industry and take advantage of even more offshore opportunities in the future.” Laird also revealed its diversification strategy, with news that it had created a wide-ranging nuclear power design and build partnership with Ansaldo Nucleare, a subsidiary of a major Italian technology group. It is planned for Laird’s heavy engineering facilities and fabrication skills to be developed to construct massive modules for nuclear power plants.
classes will triple in the next 20 years 5% rise from 2010 comes as both Airbus and Boeing plan further increases to meet demand from rising Asian economies. “It was a tough year for the world economy but traffic is growing and the number of middle classes, by which I mean people with disposable incomes for things like air travel, will triple in the next 20 years,” said Airbus sales chief John Leahy. He dismissed recent fears of a shortage of financing for aircraft deliveries as European banks scale back their lending. Another well-known local example of a thriving business is Jaguar Land Rover. The carmaker struggled for years under Ford ownership to improve sales
Picture: ERYL CRUMP
and bring an end to hundreds of millions of pounds of losses. Now, under the ownership of India’s Tata Motors, it has gone from strength to strength. The recent launch of the Evoque means that Halewood now employs 2,500 staff who make the baby Range Rover on the same production line that makes the Freelander 2. Other motor manufacturers, such as Rolls-Royce, BMW and General Motors, have all reported impressive increases in sales. Rolls-Royce reported a record sales figure. The company sold 3,538 cars worldwide last year – 31% more than in 2010 and more than the previous record year of 1978, when the figure was 3,347.
City region showing strong growth – Lorraine Rogers, chief executive of The Mersey Partnership, with RWE project director Toby Edmonds Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY Global demand for Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque model is likely to see further investment in the supply chain providing components for assembly at Halewood. Evoque production was ramped up to fulfil unprecedented pre-launch demand for 18,000 cars, worth £630m, and sales show no signs of diminishing. Alan Welby, The Mersey Partnership’s director of knowledge economy, believes the region’s advanced manufacturing sub-sector offers strong potential for new jobs and growth in 2012. “Leading automotive suppliers Getrag Ford, for example, are planning expansion at its Halewood factory where 98% of gearbox and transmission production currently goes for export,“ he said.
The Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus at Runcorn – designated an Enterprise Zone last year – will also be investing an additional £30m in product development software. Growth in the Visitor Economy is still regarded as one of the region’s success stories. More new hotels are being built and ambitious expansion plans at Arena and Convention Centre Liverpool will boost the area. Mersey Partnership chief executive Lorraine Rogers commented: “In the current economic climate, few sectors are showing growth. “Liverpool City Region’s Visitor Economy is not only showing strong growth, but is significantly exceeding national performance levels.”
Improved links ‘a top priority’ for region ONE way the region’s economy might start to grow again is through investment in infrastructure. Improved transport links and investment in digital communications infrastructure could give the region a competitive advantage.
Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jack Stopforth said: “The national infrastructure plan is far too modest and too focused on the South East at the direct expense of the rest of the country. It will exacerbate economic imbalance.” Mr Stopforth
says priority should be given to the upgrade of Dunnings Bridge Road to allow better links between Switch Island and the Port of Liverpool. “If the superport plan is to be realised, we need investment in both road and rail,” said Mr Stopforth. He also highlights the
electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester rail link. “It seems arcane that in 2012 we are talking about rail electrification between the two cities were rail travel was born.” Mr Stopforth added that the city should not accept becoming a mere spur of the High Speed 2 rail plan.
THE BIG FEATURE
Entrepreneur Asif Hamid, chief executive of leading independent call centre firm, The Contact Company, in Birkenhead, cuts a ribbon to celebrate reaching the
Is now a good time to go it
Distress and opportunity are classic reasons to start a business – but what are the prospects A FREQUENT recourse for those who lose their jobs in difficult economic times is starting their own business. It can be a life-changing experience, but one borne out of distress. But are such people unwilling entrepreneurs who then face the increased prospect of their venture failing? Not according to Professor Tom Cannon, head of strategic development at the University of Liverpool Management School. Professor Cannon, who has previously run his own business, said: “There are two classic routes into business. “One is distress and the other is opportunity. “Starting a business out of distress is not unusual. After all, Henry Ford failed three times before he succeeded. “Clearly, when it comes to
survival rates, there are all sorts of factors that intertwine. “People who start a business because they have no choice are more likely to give up if a job then comes up. That’s a voluntary withdrawal. “When it comes to three to five year survival, the rates are not that different. “An awful lot of people who start up due to an opportunity don’t see the weakness of their idea, because they are so taken with it. “You have got to be very disciplined. “People who lose their job often get a cash settlement and they risk everything. “You have got to be careful that you follow the basic business disciplines. Get some training. Understand your customers and make sure that you don’t borrow,
or borrow as little as possible. You need to run a tight ship. Don’t rent an office if you can do it in the back room. “Don’t recruit assuming you will get revenue to pay for staff. “There are more successful businesses that start during periods of difficulty than there are started in better times. “It’s the tough that survive when the going gets tough.” The view that this could be a good time to start a business is also held by a man whose job it is to assist people with little or no experience of running their firm to get started. Jerry Spencer, entrepreneurship manager at Liverpool Vision, said: “Strange as it may seem, it could be time to start a business, especially if you can see the market opportunity, move quickly and start lean and
hungry.” However he warns that those taking the plunge face an array of potential obstacles and pitfalls, some of which are associated with the slow economic conditions. Mr Spencer explained: “Entrepreneurs face barriers in the form of restricted lending by banks, reduced forms of public support and tightened belts all round. “It’s for government to tackle the first issue and hopefully the economy will start to motor again. “But, when it does, will businesses get the help and support they need? “Liverpool Vision has traditionally operated an open door policy to people wanting to start a business, both out in the communities and in particular sectors, consisting chiefly of one-to-one advice and sorting out
business problems. That was effective and it helped people who perhaps would not have started a business or become self-employed otherwise. “But it was also resourceintensive, and often didn’t enable people to grow their business when they could, creating jobs for other people as well as themselves. “Liverpool Vision is adopting a leaner approach focusing on growth potential business and entrepreneurs, and looking to partner up with other providers to provide a mix of ways we can encourage entrepreneurship. “It’s an approach that takes into account the fact that the best help for businesses can often be other businesses. “That business opportunities are often about who you know as much as what you do.
THE BIG FEATURE
What types of people make successful entrepreneurs? Business academic Professor Tom Cannon reveals what it takes
all-important five year mark
alone? for new firms? “And that the public sector is not always the solution and problems are often opportunities in disguise. “So we want to develop business to business networking and partnerships. “We are going to challenge businesses to prove they have the capacity to grow, a ‘pick me, I’m a winner’ approach that focuses on the ambitious and competent entrepreneur. It’s about encouraging behaviour, not teaching people to run a business; about seeing possibilities, not being hung up on problems. “We want to create a business ecology in partnership with banks, professionals, commercial landlords and others, so businesses can grow without huge amounts of public assistance, but also without the barriers to growth seen in the past.”
WITH the Global Entrepreneurship Congress coming to Liverpool in March and every politician who makes a speech about economic growth calling for more entrepreneurship, it’s worth asking what makes an entrepreneur. Could you run your own business, and might you be missing an opportunity by not doing so? The first point to make is that it is almost impossible to generalise. There are 4.5m people in Britain either self-employed or running their own business. In Merseyside alone, there are around 60,000 people in this category. These can range from a graduate like Anna Heyes, who started her company soon after graduating, to Sir Michael Bibby, who has led the reinvention of a 200-year-old, £1bn turnover company. The self-employed includes those engaged in social enterprise, like Gerry Kinsella. These entrepreneurs are determined to create new opportunities for the disadvantaged. Others, however, may simply want to make money or a living for themselves. But, if one word recurs in almost every conversation with entrepreneurs, it is not money, it is freedom. They want or need to be in control and have the confidence and ambition to take that control into their own hands. This attitude probably distinguishes the true entrepreneur from the vast majority of the self-employed. Many of the latter are in business out of necessity. True entrepreneurs spot an opportunity and are determined to grasp it, even if this means taking risks and going where larger or more established firms fear to tread. For example, James Barton wasn’t the only person to spot the revolution in popular music in the late 1990s, but he was the risk taker who turned Liverpool’s Cream nightclub into a global business. This mix of independence, ambition, self-belief and risk taking can make entrepreneurs difficult for bankers and politicians to understand. It is no coincidence that Anita Roddick and James Dyson are among those entrepreneurs who struggled to get finance in their early years, while gimcrack schemes from City men in suits never seem to want. Most entrepreneurs don’t let bankers’
Prof Tom Cannon – self-employment is all about freedom, not money fears deter them. They realise that the market and customers are key, so they avoid debt whenever possible. We see it at Home Bargains, whose market savvy keeps debt under control while the business grows. There is no substitute for keeping close to the customer. The ability to deal with customers, employees, suppliers, competitors and even bankers means that entrepreneurs need to be good at multi-tasking. This capacity might be built around specific strengths. Phil Redmond had insights into the future of television, Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton had a vision of the way the internet was evolving, but all managed this core task with others. The ability to multi-task doesn’t make them overlook the need to use others, but it
creates the space to use others only when the business needs them, keeping costs down. One of the biggest errors of government support for entrepreneurs in places like Merseyside lay in linking support to jobs. Too often, getting the loan meant taking on staff, creating both a debt and a cost burden. It’s not easy to bring these skills together from scratch. This explains why so many successful entrepreneurs come from families where close relatives have a been in business on their own account. Perhaps the most striking feature of today’s new generation of entrepreneurs is the number graduating from our local universities, like Talia and Kayleigh Baccino, James Rowan and Natalie Haywood. They are combining street smart with more formal knowledge.
Mersey firm’s search for crucial investment cash PLENTY of firms complain they can’t get access to capital. They say purse strings of the banks are tightly shut. Nevertheless, there are some firms that can still secure vital investment, and you don’t have to look far to find examples. Based at the Paramount Business Park, in Huyton, Evodental specialises in titanium implants. Evodental director Stephen O’Brien is quick to point out that customers
don’t see the service as cosmetic surgery. As a result, and despite the tough economic conditions, Evodental’s business has doubled in the past four years. Mr O’Brien said: “We came into business four years ago when finance from banks and hire purchase leasing was thrown at you. “Then the economy contracted and there were problems in the marketplace.
“We needed to expand. The traditional route of raising money from the bank was very difficult. “The banks we spoke to said we should leave it 12 months, not because of us, but because they had their own issues. So we needed an alternative.” In the end, venture capital firm YFM raised £400,000 for Evodental. “We spoke to business angels, but we were too big for them. YFM was a natural fit.
“We now attract lots of clients from all over the country. The long-term aim is to open another couple of clinics.” Turnover in the first year of business was £900,000. This year, it will reach £1.8m. Mr O’Brien added: “This is a growth market. “There are lots of companies cutting their cloth to meet the present situation, but there are others in niche markets that are expanding. There is no way we can fulfil all of the demand.”
THE BIG FEATURE
Export push helps Wirral companies to lift sales TWO Wirral manufacturers have enjoyed strong sales growth on the back of a surge in exports. Bromborough-based ANH Refractories Europe has reported a sharp increase in turnover from £4m to £7m in 2011. It follows a raft of contract wins in the Middle East, bolstered by robust growth in UK and European markets. The company manufactures linings for furnaces, kilns, incinerators and reactors operating at high temperatures. It is part of the ANH Refractories group headquartered in Pittsburgh. ANH Refractories Europe managing director Peter Rooney said: “The last 12 months have been hugely successful. We are entering the New Year following a sustained period of growth and the forecast for 2012 is extremely positive. “Our core business has Ian Meadows – looking forward to a 20% sales increase next year
Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD
A new lease of life for one of Liverpool’s oldest business Veteran chemicals company’s exports double over three years
ITS not just new firms that are overcoming the tough economic conditions to thrive. One of the city’s oldest businesses has, in recent years, discovered a fresh lease of life resulting in a period of sustained sales and profits growth throughout the recent difficult years. RS Clare owner and chairman, Ian Meadows, pinpoints the fact that RS Clare operates in niche markets and the proportion of sales accounted for by exports, as the principal factors driving the firm’s success. “Not being dependent on the UK market is certainly helping,” he said. “Nearly half of our business is exported across a wide part of the world, not just the European Union, which is fairly stagnant. “We are in a niche market and the products we make are in high demand and command higher margins and that helps.” It’s a business that has straddled four different centuries
and which enjoyed a doubling of overseas sales in the last three years. These days, RS Clare is a chemicals business. Its traditional products have included road marking paints. More recently it has diversified into grease and lubricants used by the railway industry, and on the all-important safety valves on oil and gas rigs. RS Clare’s valve lubricants have been in high demand ever since the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010, when a faulty valve killed 11 workers and caused the worst environmental disaster in US history. It also cost oil rig operator BP tens of billions of pounds in compensation payments. Mr Meadows said: “We try to sell on the basis that our products make economic sense to customers. “If, by using our lubricants, customers can extend the life of rails on the ground, it means lower rerailing costs, lower labour
costs and less downtime that results in stopped trains. “We use the same philosophy selling into the oil industry. Deepwater Horizon shows the horrendous results of not lubricating properly. “The price of the product is nothing if it’s a good one. “We are currently only scratching the surface with these products. We are selling to two oil majors at the moment, but more are interested.” RS Clare has a network of its own overseas sales offices and agents, with bases in Singapore, Dubai, Houston and Norway, among others. Mr Meadows said: “Our sales went up 27% last year. Turnover was £24m.” The company is planning a new grease plant to be built at its premises in Stanhope Street. “The new plant will improve our efficiency. It’s an opportunity to clear a large area of the site and build a state-of-the-art plant. The
firm has taken on 12 more staff and now employs about 140 in total.” Mr Meadows adds: “We are bullish for 2012. We are looking at a 20% increase in turnover and a commensurate increase in pre-tax profit. We probably hit £2m pre-tax profit last year.” The road markings business has established some long-term relationships with local authorities. “It was a record year last year. “We just won an £8m contract last summer with Surrey for the next 10 years. We have several long-term contracts. They give us the comfort that allows us to invest in new kit.” The firm’s export success has led a Queens Award for Export. The firm also won the HSBC business thinking competition. Mr Meadows says the recent success of the business has given him a new lease of life. Despite turning 65, he has no plans to retire just yet
Peter Rooney been in insulating and dense refractory products, where our tonnage of product distributed to the Middle East has doubled in the last year. The petrochemical sector is proving a major driver of growth for ANH.” At the same time, Birkenhead-based PD Welch Electrical Contractors, part of the Seaking Electrical Group, has seen turnover surge more than 40% in the last 12 months. It follows contract wins in the hospitality, commercial and retail sectors. Turnover rose from £900,000 to £1.3m in 2011. Group business development manager Neil Mellenchip said PD Welch had secured contracts in a broad range of sectors. He added: “PD Welch is entering the New Year on a real high, after a very successful end to 2011. “This gives a strong indication of the firm’s ambition.”
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THE BIG INTERVIEW
Big success at Big D BY ALISTAIR HOUGHTON
Brian Cardy tells how Trigon Snacks has ‘made a virtue out of being politically incorrect’ – and is innovating to stay ahead of the game.
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . BRIAN CARDY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 T SEEMS unlikely that Andy Warhol was a fan of the Big D girls whose bodies, obscured by peanut packets, adorn pubs across the UK. Yet the artist and master self-publicist came up with a line that sums up the Aintree-based Big D brand so perfectly it is today emblazoned above the door at parent firm Trigon Snacks. “Publicity,” said Warhol, “is like eating peanuts – once you start, you just can’t stop”. When Brian Cardy took over at Trigon in 2001, he knew the business needed to make a splash if it was to take on competition from the biggest names in the global food business. And so, taking Warhol’s quote to heart, he brought back the “Big D girl” to make sure Trigon’s flagship brand hit the headlines. Trigon has recently revitalised its Planters brand, and launched the up-market Passion Shed range of flavoured nuts. The company also produces own-label nuts for some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains. Rising raw material costs have hit profits, but sales have risen strongly in the past two years as the company has held its own against much larger rivals despite tough economic times. And the blokey Big D brand, “babes” and all, remains at the heart of its success – and is even set to enter the Chinese market. Big D became a household name in the 1970s thanks to original Big D model, Beverley Nicholson, who appeared on the card to which packets of peanuts were attached. As punters bought peanuts, so more of Beverley became visible. By the 1980s, “glamour girl” campaigns were simply outdated, and Beverley was retired. But Cardy, who had competed against Big D in his time at rival KP, remembered her well. And so he revived the campaign, going all out to position Big D as a “cheeky” brand. It may sound like a gimmick but, sitting in an Aintree office at a table covered with peanut packets, cheerful Londoner Cardy said it had paid off. “The girls have generated a good load of publicity,” he said. “We’ve made a virtue of being politically incorrect. “Under previous management, the Big D girl had been taken off as being politically incorrect. The first thing I did when I came back was to bring her back. “When I competed against Big D, I knew that its strength was the girl on the card. “There’s an element of nostalgia. People remember it from back in the 70s and 80s, and they’re delighted to see it back. “Trade customers are very happy to see it back. It’s a talking point. In what can be seen as a dull market, this brings a bit of glamour. “It’s worked extremely well for us in terms of growing the brand. Sales are now well over double what they were 10 years ago in a market that’s flat.”
ARDY took over at Trigon in 2001 after a career in the food industry. His Arsenal
cufflinks betray a love of the London team that dates back to his childhood in the shadow of the club’s old Highbury stadium. “I was born within a spit of Highbury,” he smiled. “The day I walked in here at Trigon, somebody said to me ‘what part of Liverpool are you from? I said the north London part’.” Cardy started his career at Quaker Oats before moving to KP, where he spent 10 years. He started as brand manager, but rose to spend four years as the brand’s marketing director. Cardy then moved across the UB group to chocolate brand Terry’s, where he became
managing director and led the sale of the business to Kraft. “Then,” he said, “I got headhunted to go and turn around St Ivel.” His role at the Unigate-owned dairy giant brought him to Merseyside for the first time, as he worked on the 1997 deal to buy Kraft’s Kirkby plant for £77m. The plant is today part of Dairy Crest. “I keep being drawn to Liverpool,” said Cardy. But, by the end of his six years at St Ivel, Cardy was ready to strike out on his own. “When I left there, I decided I’d had enough of working for big conglomerates. Simple as that,” he said. “ I spent about 18 months
looking for opportunities within the food industry. And, to cut a long story short, I alighted on this one.” He added, with a smile: “I wanted somewhere where I could make my own mistakes”. Trigon itself began life in 1996, when it was founded to buy Aintree-based Big D and Planters from snack giant Walkers. Cardy saw the opportunity at the company and, in 2001, teamed up with investors Jos Koster and Govert Brasser to buy the business. Cardy recruited several ex-KP colleagues and set about transforming the business. Big D – which Cardy described with
another smile as Trigon’s “big brand” – was the first brand to be revamped, with the return of the “Big D girl”. The first model selected to grace Big D’s peanut cards was Ruth Higham. She was succeeded by Malene Espensen and then, in 2010, by Rosie Jones – who won a nationwide contest to be chosen as the face of the brand. “Rosie was the overwhelming winner,” said Cardy. “Hopefully she’ll be with us for a number of years. She’s a great ambassador for the brand.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the campaign did run into some objections. Cardy recalled a television debate which saw it
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . BRIAN CARDY
Brian Cardy says Trigon’s staff, including those in its factory, above, are key to its success
Brian Cardy on the macadamia nut production line at TrigonSnacks, Aintree Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY described as a “retrograde step” for women. But he said the campaign had not proved as controversial as some might think. “Women don’t object to this,” he said. “They don’t object to a pretty girl on the card. “There’s no nudity on it – it’s just sexy. Blokes love it.” The Big D range includes classic salted and dry roast flavours, as well as mixed nuts and raisins. Last year, the company launched “salt and malt” flavoured Big D nuts. Chilli-flavoured Big D nuts will be launched next month. “We’re going to have a heavy
Former ‘Big D girl’ Malene Espenson, with one of the ads that has made the brand famous new product programme coming up through 2012,” he said. “Through Big D, we’re going to launch some new coated and flavoured products. “Chilli is the first new one. It’s a flavour on a nut. The other products are going to be coated and flavoured. It’s a technology that we have, happily. “In my humble opinion, it’s going to be the best chilli nut in the UK market.” RIGON sells Planters nuts under licence from US giant Kraft. Planters is best known for the “Mr Peanut” character that still
adorns its packaging. The character, a peanut dressed as an old-fashioned American gentleman complete with monocle, top hats, spats and a cane, has been used to advertise the brand since 1916. But, over the past year, Trigon has repackaged Planters to reinforce the message that it is an American brand. Mr Peanut stays, but with added visuals. “There was a bit of ambiguity around the brand, and Mr Peanut,” said Cardy. “Some people recognised him as American. Others thought he was an English toff. “We’re now focusing 100% on it being an American brand.
“We’re promoting it as ‘American originals’. We’re focusing on American-type flavours and US provenance. For example, we would do a Tex-Mex flavour, but we wouldn’t do Chinese or curry flavour. “We’ve got a whenever, wherever theme. It’s about travel, excitement. We’re using iconic American photographs, such as Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and Route 66.” With that famous US road in mind, Planters is focusing at people on the move. Its nuts are on sale in WH Smith, at hotels, on Virgin Trains, on Eurostar, and on some airlines, as well as at some supermarkets.
“There’s a theme of snacking on the move,” mused Cardy. “It’s a position that’s been well responded to.” Trigon’s third key brand is Passion Shed, a premium brand on sale at retailers including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and hotel groups including Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. “We saw the opportunity for a premium product,” said Cardy. “Essentially, we talked about doing something that’s an affordable treat with flavours from around the world. “The first question you’re going to ask is how the hell did you come up with the name Passion Shed? It’s what everybody asks. It’s an unusual brand. “An old research colleague of mine, Chris Mitchell, came in to moderate an internal session with our package designers and our sales and marketing team. “We were talking about what we needed to do, and our moderator Chris got cross with somebody – I can’t remember who, it might have been me. “He said ‘This just seems to be your personal passion shed’. “We just rocked back in our seats and said ‘That’s the brand’. “So we decided the brand before the product.” Passion Shed was first launched in 2007, but Cardy said Trigon had to “change markedly” in response to the financial crisis and its effect on buying habits. “The products were very premium – £5 or £6 a packet,” he said. “We were selling them at places like Harrods and Harvey Nichols. The packaging was very expensive and the product formulation was expensive. “In 2010, we changed that to simpler bags. That brought the price to an accessible level. “We’re now selling in 100g bags. The products retail for between £1.49 and £2. At that level, they’re accessible. “The product is about mixtures of nuts. It has been nuts and fruit, but now it’s just nuts. “They’re innovative products. Our honey roast has a very interesting mix of almonds and macadamias, and we have a balsamic vinegar and oregano mix of cashews and pecans. “They’re great quality nuts and really interesting flavours.” Neither Passion Shed nor Planters share the “cheeky” style of Big D. Trigon works carefully to differentiate its products. “We’ve got a really focused brand architecture – we know exactly what each brand is about,” said Cardy. “Clearly, we need to keep them separate. They each have a role in their marketplace. “Big D is very much channelled just at pubs. Pubs would not be keen on the idea that exactly the same product is also on sale in supermarkets. “Planters has golf clubs, leisure and travel. “Passion Shed is aimed at groceries and delis. “Big D is about blokes, pubs, birds and beer. “Planters is a bit more of an upmarket presentation, about travel and flavour, talking about the American heritage of the product.” Trigon is all about its brands, And that, said Cardy, is why he did not change the name of the
CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . BRIAN CARDY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19
Brian Cardy is watched over by current ‘Big D girl’, Rosie Jones Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
company when he took over: “I thought about it,” he said, “but in the end it was more trouble than it was worth. We have our brands, and Trigon gives us that umbrella. “On the website, we get a massive number of hits for Big D, and nothing for Trigon.” RIGON is a small player compared to competitors such as KP and Intersnack. Cardy repeatedly insisted that its success in tough economic times was down to the hard work of the staff at Trigon’s Liverpool base. Its buying team has years of experience, while its factory has won the top A-grade accreditation from the British Retail Consortium. “It’s been tough,” said Cardy. “But we’ve focused on what we’re good at. “We’re great at quality, great at innovation, and great at customer service. Therefore, we have been able to grow the business in the teeth of opposition that’s much bigger than we are and that has more resources than we have. “Ultimately, it’s because of the great team of people we have here. The reason we’ve been able to compete in a very difficult marketplace is because we’ve got great people here, both in the factory and commercially. That allows us to position ourselves and compete effectively. “The other advantage of being a small business is that we’re very fast on our feet. Someone can come to me and suggest we do something, and if I say yes, we can just do it. “But it’s the people that make the business. They deliver the quality and go the extra mile.” In 2010, the last year for which full accounts are available, Trigon reported a turnover of £22m – up from £18m in 2009. But pre-tax profits for the year fell 65% to £47,000 as the cost of its key raw material – nuts – soared. “Raw material prices went up in some cases by 50%,” said Cardy. “And the reason for that massive increase is one word – China. “As the Chinese people become wealthy, they’re starting to eat snack products, like we do in the West. The demand was massive – classic supply and demand stuff. “The heat seems to be going out of the market in 2012. It looks like we’re not going to see the same level of inflation as we did in 2010/11.” Cardy said that sales in 2011 rose again to £25.5m, though profit figures are not yet available. “In a difficult marketplace, it’s a good result,” he said. “We have picked up new customers. In 2009, Asda became a customer for the first time. And, in 2011, Aldi became a customer for the first time.” Trigon, like other nut firms, is having to adapt its products to tough economic times – customers are switching from other nuts to cheaper peanuts – and to changing consumer tastes. Cardy is happy to declare that his is as much a marketing company as it is a food business. “We have to be alive to changes,” he said. “We have to be customer-focused, finding from
consumers and retailers what their requirements are. “One large trend we are seeing is a shift in peanuts. “Young people are used to eating strong flavours of crisps and snacks. “As they become adults and move to nuts, they’re taking their love of those strong flavours to nuts. Thirty years ago, it was all about salted peanuts and dry roasting. Now it’s about the other flavours and textures that we do here. “We’re very fortunate as a business that we’re well-placed to deal with that change. One of our key strengths is flavour delivery systems.” With new Big D and Passion Shed products due this year, Trigon is also taking the fight to the competition. “The market is flattish,” he said. “Those that do well are those that have an innovative programme of new products. “We put a lot of effort into innovation, both in our own brands but also for own-label
brands we produce as well.” Cardy said Trigon is also well-placed to adapt to the growing trend for healthy snack products. The company produces mixed nuts, fruits and seeds packages under the LOVE Life brand for Waitrose, and is developing other fruit and nut blends. “Nuts are part of a healthy diet,” said Cardy. “Walnuts are a superfood. So are Brazil nuts. They’re intrinsically healthy products. Even the fat in nuts is good fat.” As well as launching new products, Cardy is also looking to new markets. Trigon already exports Planters products to Ireland. It also supplies products in bulk to producers in Europe who do not have its dry roasting and honey roasting skills. But it is now looking east to the nation whose demand for nuts caused raw materials costs to rise so dramatically in recent years. It exported some products to China in 2010, but is now
planning to return to the market. Cardy said: “We are working with a marketing business in China and we plan to license Big D there. “It will be manufactured out there with a partner out there.” And Big D’s cheeky style will remain intact, even beyond the Great Wall. Cardy said: “We’ll be mimicking exactly what we’re doing in the UK, selling to bars and clubs in China. “It will be the same style of marketing, with a picture of the girl on the card and on the website. “We’ll use Rosie initially. The plan is that we will be recruiting a local person to do it – and we’ll make a big thing of choosing them.” Trigon has also secured a deal to produce products for bar snacks firm Welco, which supplies nuts to the food service industry in pots large and small. “For the last 20 years, all Welco’s products have been produced in Holland,” said Cardy.
“They’re now being produced in the UK by us. “That started in September last year. We’re going to start dispatching to Welco customers directly from here in February. “Warehouse and despatch operations will move from Guildford up to Aintree. That will create jobs here. “We’re also working on joint sales approaches. Our sales team is now selling Welco products.” Father-of-three Cardy lives in Liverpool during the week and returns to London at the weekends. Outside work, apart from watching his beloved Arsenal, he enjoys scuba diving. But he always relishes his weekly return to Liverpool and his dive back into the world of nuts. “I’ve had good times and tough times at Trigon,” he said. “Anybody that says they haven’t had the same at their business would be a liar. “But, overall, it’s been absolutely fantastic.”
DEVELOPMENT The area covered by Peel’s Liverpool and Wirral Waters developments has been designated an Enterprise Zone, to be called Mersey Waters
The spirit of enterprise?
Two Enterprise Zones are to be created in the Liverpool city region, and it’s hoped they’ll be major economic drivers.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT . . . ENTERPRISE ZONES CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 HEN the coalition Government revealed the locations of its first 11 new Enterprise Zones early last year, it held a special event in London hosted by Local Government Minister Eric Pickles. Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jack Stopforth was there to hear that the docklands areas either side of the River Mersey earmarked for the Liverpool and Wirral Waters schemes were to firm a single Enterprise Zone to be called Mersey Waters. Mr Stopforth said: “Mr Pickles asked was there anyone there from Liverpool, and I put my hand up, and he said to me ‘Yes, by far the best Enterprise Zones in the country’.” Clearly, the Government sees the Merseyside project as key to the success of the whole initiative. Enterprise Zones are not a new idea, and have been tried by Governments in the past with varying degrees of success. In all, the Government sanctioned the setting-up of 22 such zones across the UK, including one covering the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (see Page ). Benefits of Enterprise Zones are as follows: ■ A 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a fiveyear period, for businesses that move into an Enterprise Zone during the course of this Parliament; ■ All business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authorities in the Local Enterprise Partnership area to support their economic priorities; ■ Government and local authority help to develop radically simplified planning approaches in the zone; ■ Government support to ensure super-fast broadband is rolled out in the zone. This will be achieved through guaranteeing the most supportive environment and, if necessary, public funding. In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne said that firms within the zones would qualify for enhanced capital allowances (ECA). This would mean 100% allowances would be available for plant and machinery investment incurred between April, 2012, and March, 2017. Mr Stopforth said he was “excited” about the Mersey Waters zone, and believed it could prove an effective mechanism for attracting inward investment. He added: “The key here is to learn from the mistakes made in the past. “Back in the 1980s, we had an Enterprise Zone around what is now Liverpool Freeport. “That gave a VAT to companies and that was a terrific incentive. “Fast forward to the 1990s, and we had zones that gave incentives to developers to throw up industrial sheds. “All just encouraged businesses that were already in the locality to move into the zone just to take advantage of the breaks. That wasn’t actually attracting new investment into the area.” Key to the success of the zone will be the Local Enterprise
City vision: a new artist’s impression of Liverpool Waters, looking from central docks towards the city centre
Partnerships (LEPs), bodies set up to co-ordinate and integrate economic development projects across designated areas. There is one in this area covering the Liverpool city region. Mr Stopforth added: “The 11 LEPs named in the Budget as hosting the first phase of zones were chosen as areas that have potential for growth. “The LEP’s role will be to identify the barriers which are impeding the growth of the local economy and make recommendations for investments and interventions to overcome such barriers. “The LEP will also bring together a wider package of support by working with chambers, local councils, colleges and training providers to link
Enterprise Zones with wider plans for business growth and investment. Enterprise Zones are not a quick-fix solution, but should help in accelerating the recovery. “They can create jobs in depressed areas and stimulate new investment. “However, as I said, we must learn from history and ensure that they don’t just promote displacement of businesses within the economy, without any added value in terms of employment or productivity growth. “There is also a danger that they stimulate rapid investment in the short term, but do not leave a long-term economic legacy. “The relaxation of planning regulations offered by Enterprise Zones is potentially much more cost-effective than tax breaks. “The new Enterprise Zones are
bigger than in the past and will be managed to attract new investment or generate local growth and they need to be seen as part of an economic development strategy with targeted investments in skills and infrastructure, to ensure that they lead to lasting improvements in competitiveness.” Peel Holdings, the North West property giant behind Liverpool and Wirral Waters, is obviously pleased with the Enterprise Zone initiative. Early last month, the company said that the 100% allowance for investment in plant and machinery would be a particular help in attracting investment. Peel said: “It will bring significant savings to businesses within the zone and has already led to talks for an automotive
supplier park and a rail rolling stock assembly facility. “ECA status offers great savings to those types of operators, particularly to those companies with a need for port access. “It is also positive news for overseas businesses that will be based in the Peel International Trade Centre, a trading hub into the UK and Western Europe which was granted planning permission in September, 2011.” Richard Mawdsley, at Peel, added: “I am delighted with the Chancellor’s announcement that the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone has qualified for ECA. “It is a further endorsement by Government for the projects and adds a welcome addition to the suite of benefits for new occupiers to the Enterprise Zone.” Liverpool City Council leader
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT . . . ENTERPRISE ZONES
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE Peter Cooke, Chief Executive, B&M Waste Services
Chancellor George Osborne – firms within the enterprise zones will qualify for enhanced capital allowances Picture: STEFAN ROUSSEAU
THE commercial and industrial (C&I) waste industry received a major boost in December when Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that it would be a “priority sector” to receive funding from the £3bn Green Investment Bank (GIB). (i) The GIB is “the world’s first investment bank solely dedicated to greening the economy and its mission will be to provide financial solutions to accelerate private sector investment in the green economy.” (ii) C&I waste processing and recycling is one of the five sectors that will receive up to 80% of the funds until 2015-16. Starting in April this year, £100m is set to be invested in waste projects across the UK. The good news for North West businesses is that this investment could mean better financial and environmental results in the long term. These developments show that the environment is still firmly on the Government’s agenda as sustainability becomes a hot topic for the year and the foreseeable future. The bank, which will operate independently from the Government, offers the industry a chance to continue the fantastic progress it has made in recent years in leading the way with recycling and recovery. Also, as part of the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan, ministers intend to publish a National Policy Statement for Hazardous Waste by the summer. The aim of this is to remove some of the existing barriers to the development of major hazardous waste infrastructure and encourage industry to put forward development proposals for the infrastructure that is needed. (i) B&M Waste Services (B&M) offers total waste management solutions in Merseyside, and we have a
dedicated Hazardous Waste Team who are on hand to offer you their expertise in hazardous waste. Capital investment in waste infrastructure can play a major part in stimulating growth while the economy’s stability is still uncertain. Often your businesses’ waste service contract will not be at the forefront of your list of priorities, but companies like B&M can help take the burden away. We are always happy to provide you with free waste management advice about how you can reduce your waste management costs and improve your environmental performance. The GIB bank offers UK businesses the chance to lead the transition to a green economy, and, given that so many cities have put themselves forward to host the bank, it is clear that the response is positive and will continue to be pro-active. In difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to encourage greener alternatives when considering waste disposal for your organisation. To improve your businesses’ environmental performance, it could be easier than you think to evaluate your waste service contract. Companies like B&M are committed to driving down costs by minimising waste being sent to landfill. At B&M, we are constantly looking to improve our customer’s recycling/ recovery rates and we are excited by the GIB and its potential to assist in creating a sustainable future. We’d be happy to offer you free and confidential waste management advice.
‘From April this year, £100m will be invested in UK waste projects’
Jack Stopforth – Mersey Waters zone could prove an effective mechanism for attracting inward investment Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
Joe Anderson will play a key role in the implementation of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone. He is chair of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet and a member of the shadow LEP. He believes the designation of the Enterprise Zone can be another major milestone in Merseyside’s continued economic renaissance. “The city region has big ambitions and a clear strategy to grow the economy and increase private sector jobs and investment which have clearly caught the attention of the Government. “I do not believe that any other area of the country has the quality of development opportunities that we have. “Peel Holding’s Liverpool and Wirral Waters regeneration plans have the potential to become the
Canary Wharf on the Mersey, and help us compete better with London and the South East. “Peel is a company with a hugely impressive track record of delivery, and it is absolutely crucial we do everything we can to take advantage of this a once in a generation opportunity. “We have the chance to transform a huge piece of industrial wasteland in to an area which will create thousands of jobs for local people and send out a powerful statement to the world that Liverpool is a place to come and do business.” When Enterprise Zones were announced last year, Prime Minister David Cameron: “We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.
“Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this; cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand. “These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity.” And Chancellor George Osborne added: ““It is vital that we create balanced economic growth across the country. “Enterprise Zones are a critical part of our Plan for Growth and will support economic development and create over 30,000 new jobs by 2015. “The zones will benefit from over £150m in tax breaks over four years, new superfast broadband, lower levels of planning control and the potential to use enhanced capital allowances.”
■ CONTACT: 0808 100 2434 or email@example.com ■ IN ASSOCIATION with B&M Waste Services (i) www.letsrecycle.com (ii) www.bis.gov.uk
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT . . . ENTERPRISE ZONES
Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus has been identified as a key driver of economic growth in the North West
Enterprise Zone decision boosts 1m sq ft masterplan at Daresbury SIC
Joint venture will be able to use cash from business rates to improve infrastructure IN AUGUST last year, the Government announced the second round of Enterprise Zones – covering 11 locations across the UK. One of these was the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (SIC), near Warrington. Daresbury is a specialist business park focusing on companies in the science and technology sectors. It is one of just two science and innovation campuses in the UK and has been identified by the Government as a key plank in the region’s economic future. It is home to the Daresbury Laboratory, the Cockcroft Institute and the Daresbury Innovation Centre. There are currently more than
100 companies already based there, and a masterplan for the next 15-20 years envisages providing up to 1m sq ft of extra commercial space. This plan is being overseen by a public-private joint venture comprising developer Langtree, Halton Council and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Langtree managing director John Downes said the announcement that Daresbury was to benefit from Enterprise Zone status was a huge boost, in terms of the implementation of the masterplan. “What having Enterprise Status gives us is the flexibility to raise finance through the provision of business rates to provide the infrastructure we are going to
need for the expansion,” he said. “Initially, what we need to do is provide the roads and other infrastructure for the land on the west side of the Bridgewater Canal, where the expansion is going to take place. “The board to oversee this has now been established and met for the first time before Christmas. “Halton is taking the lead on dealing with the Government on this. The next stage we will come to is delivery.” How much space is built and when will very much depend on market demand, but Mr Downes insists Daresbury SIC is a hugely popular location and believes it will continue to be so in the future. He added: “Daresbury has an
international reputation – and we have to create an environment that enhances that. “There is a lot of networking activity going on between the companies that are here – a real sharing of ideas.” In October last year, the Duke of York came to officially open the latest phase of development at Daresbury SIC – Vanguard House. This provides 36,000 sq ft of office and laboratory space, with units ranging from 1,010 to 2,486 sq ft. In October, it was announced that three hi-tech businesses had become the first tenants at the £8.5m facility: Byotrol, Optimised Energy Solutions and Arcis Bio-technology have all relocated from other parts of the campus.
John Downes, of Langtree
HARNESSTHE POWEROFTHESUN TOTAL ENERGY INSTALLATIONS
TOTAL ENERGY INSTALLATIONS
Solar electric systems use Photovoltaic (PV) cells that are mounted into the panels you commonly see on rooftops, they convert daylight (not sunlight) into the electricity you use around your home. The benefits of solar are significant, both financially and environmentally. Take a look at these facts:
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
Your Solar system will save you money on your energy bills Your Solar system will pay for itself in around 12 to 15years It protects you from continually soaring energy inflation Your Solar system will provide free green energy for 25years+ Solar helps to reduce your carbon emissions helping sustain resources
GENERATEFREECASH FROMTHEGOVERNMENT The government is encouraging the use of nonpolluting energy through the Feed-in Tariff scheme. The level of incentive payments are currently under review but currently stand at 43.3p* for every kilowatt hour of solar energy that your system produces. These payments attract no tax and are index linked.
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
The FIT payment scheme will last for 25years from installation Your payments come tax free and are index linked to inflation Your system could yield 12% return on investment You are also paid for the energy you donâ€™t use You will have 10 to 13 years positive income!
*Department of Energy & Climate Control As of June 2011
0800 9777 111
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The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is an independent accreditation that certifies microgeneration products, suppliers and installers in accordance with their high quality control standards. It is designed to provide a level of protection and assurance to consumers as well as a sign of quality. Total Energy Installations are proud to be MCS Certified.
Total Complex Overbrook Lane Knowsley Business Park Knowsley L34 9FB
Fax. 0151 548 2009 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
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30 years serving the community with energy saving products from our factory in Knowsley
TOTAL ENERGY INSTALLATIONS 25
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HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
A diagram of the workings of a typical biomass power plant – 2CWTE director Robin Chadwick says access to a large volume of waste wood is essential
Cheshire start-up aims to benefit from biomass boom Renewable energy firm says big companies and local authorities offer great potential
A SMALL firm with big ambitions to become an industry leader in renewable energy has set up home in Cheshire. 2CWTE – which stands for Chadwick and Clarke Waste to Energy – builds power plants that run on biomass such as waste wood that would otherwise go into landfill. The company – set up by Robin Chadwick and John Clarke – has taken space at Frodsham Business Centre. Now it is targeting large firms and local authorities that have ambitions to meet their energy needs using renewable sources. Traditionally, waste wood from a variety of products has often ended up in landfill sites. But companies like 2CWTE can now build facilities that can turn the wood into affordable energy. “With rising fuel costs, more businesses are looking at cheaper alternatives to source their energy,” said Mr Chadwick. “We provide the technology to do just that and we are also a much more environmentallyfriendly and sustainable option than burning fossil fuels.” 2CWTE has moved into Frodsham Business Centre
because it offered affordable space and is located next to the M56 motorway. Mr Chadwick, 58, from Frodsham, started the company with Mr Clarke after spending 18 years working with a major energy firm. During that time, he gained valuable experience working on renewable energy projects. He added: “This type of technology is already very popular in Europe, and I hope that firms in the UK will really see its potential. “We’ve already had a lot of enquiries from a range of businesses and we hope to roll out the technology.” The power plants can be used for district heating schemes – heating up to 2,000 houses – or large-scale business that require extended heat supplies and a source of renewable electricity. Not all waste wood is suitable – things like telegraph poles, railway sleepers and heavily-creosoted fences usually cannot be used. There are also regulatory hurdles to get over with approval for the plants needed from the Environment Agency.
Mr Chadwick said: “This kind of facility isn’t for everyone. “They can cost millions of pounds and any company looking to do it would need access to enough waste wood to last for years. “We have one facility now awaiting approval from the Environment Agency where the client wants to have it operating 24 hours a day for 365 days a year.” He says the firm sees huge potential to work with local authorities who are keen to meet their energy needs from renewable sources. He added: “We are talking to cities who are interested in building biomass plants. “They would be ideal for supplying energy for a couple of thousand houses.” Mr Chadwick says that Frodsham Business Centre is the ideal base from where they can plan the future expansion of 2CWTE. “As a start-up business, we needed an affordable local office space that had all the resources we needed,” he said. “Frodsham Business Centre has provided us with just that.”
2CWTE has moved into Frodsham Business Centre
HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
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City joins drive to cut emissions Scheme urges firms to make carbon commitment
NQC chairman John McClelland – says environmentally-friendly companies will be the ‘real winners’ LIVERPOOL City Council is joining forces with 30 other authorities and organisations in a scheme to encourage private sector to commit to the lowcarbon economy. The initiative, called dCarbon North West, has been used to challenge more than 2,500 suppliers on their current and future plans for the low-carbon economy. Suppliers have been given access to CAESER to allow local authorities to place a renewed focus on the long-term economic stability of the North West. CAESER is an online award-winning supplier assurance programme which assesses and drives action in a number of sustainability areas including greenhouse gas emissions and economic development. Amid fears of a double-dip recession and record job losses in the region, authorities are hoping that, through CAESER, they will be able to drive improved outcomes for the environment, society and the economy while reducing supply chain impacts.
The project is being delivered by Manchester-based small firm, NQC, which specialises in helping organisations with procurement through specialist software. NQC chairman, John McClelland, said: “At a time when businesses across the UK are struggling, this is a free service which is being offered to hundreds of local businesses, helping them save thousands of pounds and protecting jobs. “Over the next few years, companies that invest in environmentally friendly technologies will be the real winners, and support from this project will help our suppliers find out what difference this can make to them.” The official launch event of dCarbon North West took place at Manchester City Football Club in December. Industry representatives included Pete Bradshaw, head of corporate responsibility at Manchester City FC, and Sean Owen, environmental strategy lead at Manchester City Council.
Small firms ‘could miss out’ on Green Deal SMALL builders in Merseyside could be squeezed out of the Government’s Green Deal, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has claimed. A consultation on the Green Deal was launched in November. It aims to be up and running later this year, and will enable households to take out loans to pay for insulation, with the guarantee that the savings on their energy bills will be
greater than the loan repayments. However, the FMB warns that, unless the Government ensures that small local building companies have an equal opportunity to offer Green Deal finance to their customers, then they will lose out to bigger operators. Director of external affairs, Brian Berry, said: “The Green Deal offers an enormous opportunity to transform the
nation’s building stock to make it greener and more energyefficient, as well as help generate thousands of new jobs. However, that potential is at risk if small building firms can only offer Green Deal finance by tying themselves to major companies. “The danger is that the large energy and utility companies will hoover up the Green Deal market and squeeze out local builders.”
Frankie Deary, of Total Energy Installations Is solar still a powerful investment? THE average cost to install a solar generation system is £13,000, but, with a guaranteed 25-year Feed-in Tariff your array would pay for itself in between 12 to 15 years. So is there a catch? The last 12 months has seen solar photovoltaic (PV) panels appearing on rooftops across the UK as homeowners make the move towards a greener, carbon-free lifestyle. After years of campaigning by environmental groups, the Government recently introduced a reward to domestic and commercial property owners, who installed renewable energy installations, with enough of a return to make it a serious and sensible financial, as well as an environmental, investment. Called the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), this 25year tax-free payment plan comes indexlinked to protect against inflation and covers the entire installation costs of your system. So what’s the catch? There isn’t one! The initial cost of a solar installation is high, but don't let that put you off. Key developments in recent months have made it still well worth considering. Homeowners are expected to front all installation costs. A typical three-bed detached home could need a 3.5kW system costing around £14,000, but, because the Government wants us all to use greener, more sustainable, energy resources they are prepared to pay for your new solar generation over a 25-year period. A tariff that yields around 12% tax-free returns per year. And, not only that, the energy that the system produces can be used in your home for nothing, meaning your energy bills for electricity can be significantly reduced, while any power returned to the National Grid unused will also provide you with an additional cash windfall. It’s a win-win investment, and one in which UK homeowners have jumped onto in their masses. So much so that, last October, the Government proposed a reduction in FIT payments
from April, 2012 – from 43.3p per kilowatt-hour down to 21p – for new installations registered after December 12, 2011. However, Friends of the Earth took the Department of Energy & Climate Control to court, claiming plans to cut the amount of money paid to householders that produce electricity at home weren't given a fair consultation. They won the case, prompting the Government to lodge an appeal, with a decision to be announced in the near future. Reducing the tariff also means a greater share of the pie is distributed, because, even at 21p per kilowatt generated, your return on investment still yields around 10 to 13 years of positive income – better than the return you would get from a building society or cash ISA, for example! Another thing to remember is the financial benefits of solar go so much further. Yes, it will pay for itself in around 12 to 15 years. Yes, your investment is index-inked. Yes, it offers “added value” to your home and makes the property more desirable, should you decide to sell. Yes, it provides clean, green energysaving benefits for the entire 25 year tariff (with a 25-year performance guarantee) and, yes, it also protects you from energy inflation long after your Feed-in Tariff expires! Both our team and our products come fully accredited, and we only install Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved technologies. All of our components are backed with a 10-year, no quibble, parts and installation warranty, together with a 25year performance guarantee. But let me leave you with this one fact. The sun delivers more energy to the Earth in one hour than the world’s population consumes in one year! That, alone, makes you realise solar energy generation has to be the future. ■ FOR more information about the benefits of Solar, talk directly to Frankie on freephone 0800 9777 111, or visit www.totalenergy installations.com
‘Solar energy will pay for itself in around 12 to 15 years’
■ IN ASSOCIATION with Total Energy Installations
Lingley Mere Business Park, near Warrington – more than 3,500 people are now employed there, with a free bus service available to those who need it
Bespoke approach to beating Lingley Mere Business Park, near Warrington, goes the extra mile to create an attractive
BUSINESSES making an effort to do their bit for the environment are now very much the norm, rather than the exception. However, even by today’s standards, Lingley Mere Business Park is definitely going the extra mile – or the extra several miles if you take into account its dedicated free bus service. The park, near Warrington, is a joint venture between United Utilities and Muse Developments. It currently provides 380,000 sq
ft of office space set in within 100 acres of nature woodland. The park benefits from outline planning consent for a further 400,000 sq ft of office space, a 132 bedroom hotel and 150,000 sq ft of distribution space. The development, which lies close to the M62 and M6, has also obtained planning permission to build a fifth unit of 18,500 sq ft to complete the Clearwater phase, which already boasts four units that have been let and sold.
More than 3,500 people are now employed there and tenants include the North West Regional Fire Control Centre , MWH UK. Originally, the park served as the home for water and utilities giant, United Utilities. But the company recognised the potential for transforming it into a fully-fledged business park, providing out-of-town office accommodation. It was to this end that company entered into a joint venture with
property firm Muse Developments. However, that was prior to 2008, the credit crunch and subsequent recession and speculative development is hard to justify in the current UK commercial market. Wes Erlam, a senior development surveyor for Muse Developments, who oversees the running of Lingley Mere, said: “The commercial property market is very challenging at the
moment. Lingley Mere is still very much in the early stages of its development. “It was originally occupied by just United Utilities, but they recognised the opportunity to create quality office space for other businesses. “And we have certainly had some early success in doing that.” Given the current weakness in both the regional and national market, the joint venture is now looking – at least for the short
The commercial property market is very challenging at the moment – Wes Erlam, senior development surveyor for Muse Developments
UK’s property downturn
commercial environment as potential occupiers are offered a design and build service term – to create bespoke space rather than building speculatively and hoping the occupiers will follow. “We are looking to attract design and build requirements – at least until the market picks up again. “Potential occupiers can come to us and help us to understand exactly what their requirements are and then create the space in a bespoke way. “Obviously, requirements will
come into the marketplace, but there is also a very proactive side to what we are doing.” Mr Erlam said making the park as attractive as possible to potential occupiers was key to its approach. To this end, a single-storey amenity building is being constructed and will offer hot and cold food, a convenience store and a cash machine. “It is all about placing yourself to attract occupiers,” he added.
“People don’t want to necessarily have to go off-site to get a cup of tea and a sandwich.” As outlined earlier, Lingley Mere has taken its wider environmental responsibilities more seriously than most. In December, it announced that a free bus service operated between Warrington town centre and the park was to expand, due to growing demand. As part of its sustainable travel strategy, Lingley Mere is to
introduce a double-decker bus onto the service. The vehicle will accommodate 76 passengers on each journey – 36 more than were previously catered for. The route was launched in October, 2007, and offers seven pick-ups per day. There is also a pool of 32 bicycles that staff can borrow to cycle between buildings on the business park. The park boasts a range of habitats with a selection of native
wildlife and plant species. The masterplan for the new buildings has taken into consideration its existing natural features and is set to make a positive contribution to the environment. The business park facilities will also feature natural ventilation, rain water harvesting, low energy lighting, and sun pipes to lessen its impact on the environment. Joint agents for Lingley Mere are GVA and Edwards & Co, both of which are based in Manchester.
Nigel Hibbert, Partner at Cheviot Asset Management, Liverpool NIGEL HIBBERT, Partner at Cheviot Asset Management, assesses the implications of this week’s fall in inflation. THE sharp – but largely foreseen – fall in inflation this week is a harbinger of things to come. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate in the UK fell to 4.2% in December, down from 4.8% in November, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation – including mortgage interest payments – fell to 4.8% from 5.2%. These indicators back Bank of England predictions that inflation will be 2% by late 2012, and are a consequence of falls in fuel prices, plus clothing and footwear, as hard-pressed retailers tried to encourage spending in the pre-Christmas period. With further fuel price cuts to come (most of the major energy companies have announced cuts in gas and electricity prices in the last 10 days), plus the VAT increase due to fall off the back of the statistical lorry, the trend looks set for continued falls in inflation over the next 18 months. Apart from the obvious beneficial side-effects – less pressure on wages and household incomes – the falls should ensure that interest rates remain at their current historic low for the foreseeable future, which will be good news for mortgage holders but less good for savers. Some commentators, in fact, believe interest rates could remain at the 0.5% rate until 2015 (but, remember, the financial chattering classes have a notoriously bad recent record on interest rate predictions). A little more disposable income, fuelled by a relative slow-down in price increases, is unequivocally good news
for the prospect of economic growth in the UK, especially for the struggling retail sector. More importantly, perhaps, the decrease in inflationary pressure also gives the Bank of England some room for billions of pounds of further quantitative easing – certainly in the spring and possibly as early as next month – which will add some liquidity to the UK economy. Policymakers could inject as much as £50bn into the economy in coming months amid fears of a double-dip recession. Increased spending power and QE can together be seen as good signs for investors and for businesses of most stripes (especially those businesses resisting wage demands or relying on consumer spend), notwithstanding the challenging falls in industrial output at the end of last year which heightened concern over the general health of the economy and the continued uncertainty in the eurozone. The flip side of the coin is that these indicators (rockbottom interest rates, deflationary movement) are also signs of the general malaise in the economy, with demand grinding to a halt and unemployment heading towards the 3m mark. In such times, the fundamental principles of investment apply more than ever. That’s why we always take care to guide clients to consider their risk priorities carefully, to ensure their approach is a balanced one and to consider their investments as medium and long term strategies. Quick wins are always there to be hunted, but are riskier to identify in these conditions.
‘Some think interest rates could remain at 0.5% until 2015’
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MSIF feeds city’s AIMES is latest firm to seek Merseyside Special LIVERPOOL cloud computing specialist AIMES Grid Services is the latest digital operator to seek support from city venture capital group, Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF). MSIF has a £3.6m pot of investment earmarked for the digital and creative industries sectors, and has urged firms to bid for financial support to help them grow and expand. The investment house manages the European-backed Small Loans for Business Fund in Merseyside, and offers loans worth up to £50,000 to the region’s small firms. MSIF investment manager Chris Walters said this funding was particularly suited to creative and digital firms: “Half of this funding is targeted at companies who are exploiting innovation and knowledge. “It doesn’t have to be completely new intellectual property. It can be already out there, but perhaps being used in new ways.” She added: “This money is here to invest in Merseyside companies and we would like to encourage businesses to come and talk to us. “This fund has been set up to help the growth of the economy and our aim is to invest in sustainable businesses which will contribute to this.” AIMES was able to raise a £1.2m funding package to build the first phase of a nextgeneration data centre at its Liverpool Innovation Park base. The financial support comprised £150,000 from MSIF’s Merseyside Loan and Equity Fund, and £200,000 from Royal Bank of Scotlandowned NatWest. The remaining finance is from private investment. AIMES was set up by Prof Dennis Kehoe in 2005 as a spin-out from the University of Liverpool. It began trading in
2008 and has grown rapidly, securing a range of clients including local organisations such as Park Group Financial Services, Novartis Vaccines and Transactis, and national and global companies including Perkins Engines, The Institute of Child Health and Human Time A/S (Denmark). Prof Kehoe said: “This investment will enable us to create cutting-edge cloud computing facilities. The improved infrastructure will give significant advantages to customers including improved levels of energy efficiency, cost savings and increased resilience”. Work on the facility has already started and is expected to take 16 weeks to complete. Prof Kehoe added: “MSIF were our preferred investor and we are delighted to have them on board. They provided a great service and the whole deal was co-ordinated extremely well with RBS who have also been terrific partners”. MSIF investment director Paul Humphray said: “AIMES is a leader in its field and plays an important role in making new technologies accessible to businesses, especially local small firms which may otherwise get left behind. It is also ensuring that Liverpool is recognised across the UK as a centre of excellence for digital provision.” AIMES is expected to reach a turnover in excess of £1m this year, which is expected to treble over the next two years. Last year, MSIF gave £50,000 to gaming company Setgo, in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. The company was founded in 2010 by three former managers from Sony’s Wavertree base and its first game, Castaways, is already being played by thousands of players online.
From left: Paul Humphray (MSIF), Jane Hetherington (AIMES), Nick Evans (RBS) and Prof Dennis Kehoe
NEW RATHBONES INVESTMENT DIRECTOR AIMS TO HELP COMPANY LIVERPOOL wealth fund manager Rathbone Investment Management has appointed Rowland Flower as an investment director to its Liverpool office. Mr Flower is the second investment director to join Rathbones’ Port of Liverpool Building office this month, with Nick Roe-Ely joining early last month.
He joins Rathbones from PSigma Investment Management, where he managed a range of private client and trust portfolios. Prior to that, he was an investment manager at HSBC Investment Management, where he was responsible for a team of four and £200m of client investments. Brian Kenny, director
responsible for Rathbones’ Liverpool business, said: “Rathbones is proving to be the natural home for investment directors who want to manage their clients’ investment portfolios on a bespoke and personalised basis, without them being shoehorned into specific investments or products. “Rowland brings with him
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Investment Fund support funding
With Alison Smullen, solicitor in the Employment & Pensions team at Hill Dickinson
MILLIONS of people worldwide use social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with friends and business contacts. Accordingly, these platforms can assist with enhancing an organisation’s brand and managing customer relationships. But what sorts of risks should employers protect against?
THE use of social media is certainly not without its risks, and it makes sense to break some of these risks down for further consideration. ■ CLIENT lists Social media enables employees to build up client lists which can be used, after employment has ended, to solicit customers and/or to assist with setting up in competition. These risks were highlighted recently by a US case in which Phonedog, a mobile news website, is suing a former employee for $370,000 for retaining the Twitter followers he attracted while working for Phonedog. While the determination of that case will have no impact in the UK, it is only a matter of time until the same issue arises here.
■ CYBER bullying and harassment ACAS advises employers to treat electronic behaviour in the same way as nonelectronic behaviour. Bullying a colleague via social media should therefore be treated as if the bullying took place on company premises. Employers are vicariously liable for the acts of their employees which take place “during the course of employment” and therefore may be liable for comments posted by employees on social media sites, even when posted outside of work hours and from private computers. ■ HOW to protect your business? Employment contracts should be reviewed to ensure that, for example, confidentiality clauses and restrictive covenants deal sufficiently with the risks that social media presents. Further, businesses should ensure that they have an effective, wellcommunicated, social media policy in place. Any complaints under the policy should be dealt with promptly and the policy consistently enforced. Existing non-social media policies should be reviewed and updated to include social media considerations and cross-references to the social media policy. Hill Dickinson has produced a social media pack aimed at educating and protecting local businesses from the dangers posed by social media. The pack includes a social media policy and a checklist on employee use of social media.
‘The use of social media is certainly not without its risks’
STIMULATE FURTHER GROWTH the skills and values that our clients care about most; high-quality service coupled with a real understanding of individual investment needs and objectives.” Mr Flower joins a team of 16 investment managers who currently manage around £1.5bn of private clients, charity and trust assets. He said: “Rathbones is the
stand-out name in the world of high-quality, discretionary investment management. “It has an enviable culture of retaining both clients and fund managers and a real commitment to superior client service. “I look forward to using my skills and experience to contribute to the continued HQ: the Port of Liverpool Building growth of the firm.”
■ REPUTATIONAL damage Good reputations can take huge amounts of time and resources to build, so protecting them is vital. Facebook has become fertile ground for employees to vent their frustration regarding their employer, their colleagues and their customers. One such case involved Virgin Atlantic employees who took to Facebook calling customers “chavs” and joking about faulty engines. These employees were dismissed for damaging the Virgin brand.
■ FOR more information, contact: Alison Smullen on 0151 600 8549 or email alison.smullen@ hilldickinson.com If you quote “LDP”, you will be entitled to receive Hill Dickinson’s social media pack at a special discounted price. ■ IN ASSOCIATION with Hill Dickinson
The challenge is not about quick wins, it’s about building a knowledge economy for five, 10, 20 years’ time – The Mersey Partnership knowledge economy director, Alan Welby Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
Knowledge is everything in
Alan Welby, the man charged with delivering Liverpool city region’s ambitious growth target
THE Liverpool region has the potential to establish itself as an international centre for knowledge-based industries – and its knowledge economy champion, Alan Welby, is formulating a longterm strategy that will encourage large and small businesses alike to achieve just that. Mr Welby joined inward investment agency, The Mersey Partnership (TMP), as knowledge economy director last April, and boasts extensive experience in roles such as the director of strategy at former regional development agency One North East, as well as seven years in Brussels working at the European Commission where he led the implementation of the “Regions of Knowledge” programme. He is working with TMP’s
knowledge economy group on developing the four themes of life sciences, advanced manufacturing, creative and digital industries, and professional and financial services to exploit a sector that is growing at nearly 2½ times the rate of the rest of the city region’s economy, and has the potential to deliver 58,000 new jobs over the next decade. Over the past nine months, he has had the opportunity to assess the size of the task and he believes ultimate success lies in playing a long game. “The challenge is not about quick wins, it’s about building a knowledge economy for five, 10, 20 years’ time.” However, he highlighted some opportunities he regards as cast-
iron wins, such as the Jaguar Land Rover Halewood plant which is working at full tilt building its successful Evoque and Freelander 2 models, and a promising future. He sees the potential to build complementary industries around the car maker: “There are good opportunities in advanced manufacturing and the repatriation of the supply chain. “They will have to develop their supply chains locally. The cost of importing parts is expensive, and events like the Japanese tsunami means you need to guarantee your supply chain.” At the opposite end of the scale, he is equally as excited by Liverpool-based drug development specialist Redx Pharma, which was only founded in 2005 but has plans to create 250 jobs, with even
bigger opportunities on the horizon. Mr Welby said their workforce could swell over the next five years, linked to the establishment of a University Technical College and he added: “We want companies like Redx to be based at the heart of the city. They have big aspirations for space. “These are two different examples, in JLR and Redx, a big company and a smaller company at the heart of innovation, but it says something about the DNA of Liverpool and Merseyside. “I have worked in Birmingham, Newcastle, Madrid and Brussels and I find this one of the most creative places. There’s something in the DNA of this place and you don’t want to lose that in a global economy.”
Mr Welby, originally from Oxford, admits that he was impressed on his arrival by the sense of progress in the city. “That really struck me from coming outside. Things are happening here.” In the life sciences sector, he foresees a cluster of 100 smaller companies that he believes he can help grow exponentially. “In 10 years’ time, two or three could be global multi-nationals, based here. If we get the right mix in place, we have got something that is national and world-class.” He also wants to build on the city’s position as second only to London in its niche in financial and professional services, such as the legal and asset management industries. “It is not about competing with
Unilever’s Port Sunlight R&D centre is a source of excitement for Mr Welby
Picture: PAUL HEAPS
Liverpool’s famous skyline – Alan Welby says the city is one of the most beautiful he has ever seen Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD
region looking to the future for knowledge-based initiatives, talks to Neil Hodgson about his long-term strategy Manchester or Leeds, it is where we can be world-leading,” he said. He also cites the likes of “smart” Knowsley plastics colour and additives specialist Colormatrix and the region’s creative digital sector, which boasts a cluster of gaming and software organisations. He added: “The other area we must grow is the low-carbon agenda, such as offshore renewables. Our location is right and the universities are smart. We have to capitalise on those. Within these sectors we have a great deal of specialisms and we have to make a bit more of it.” Several local firms boast expertise in this sector, such as technology to channel power from offshore turbines to shore-based stations, and gear boxes within
the turbines, and he believes that, despite the Government’s recent cut to feed-in tariffs originally designed to encourage more renewable energy usage, future opportunities do remain. “The political imperative is energy security and where we are going to get it from. The Government is looking at offshore options so we can’t escape the political dimension. But there are opportunities and it would be mad to ignore it. It is an agenda that’s not going away.” Mr Welby was genuinely surprised at what Liverpool has to offer, on all levels, saying: “I am from Oxford, but I think this is the most beautiful English city outside of London. It is the most beautiful urban environment and I am constantly struck by its
architecture in and around the city region, such as gems like Port Sunlight, which is beautiful. “The city and its architecture has excited me, and it surprised me how smart the people are. That means I am on my toes. People are quick to engage and argue or comment and that makes the place a creative, dynamic place.” He added: “There are some great opportunities and great themes. I went to Liverpool University’s graduation dinner, in St George’s Hall, and it felt just like a big city that should be doing these kind of things. “And there are things for me to work with here, for example Daresbury, which is very firmly on the national agenda, and the dynamic Royal Hospital bio-
campus scheme. I am also surprised by a lot of the companies I have worked with, like Dairy Crest, in Kirkby, and their desire to innovate and be part of the community, to big players like Unilever who want to make Port Sunlight their global centre for research and development (R&D). “Unilever has six R&D centres, including three in Europe and two in the UK, and Port Sunlight want their links to the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and York to really work. It’s these companies that have really got me excited here.” Funding, however, remains at the heart of many initiatives, and Mr Welby wants to use his experience in Brussels to win a bigger slice of the pot for the region. He said: “There is a new
European Regional Development Fund programme coming out and it is vital we make our case to Brussels, Whitehall and regionally that we would like a transition package and manage it here in the city region. “We want flexibility to put that to the key areas we want to build on, and we need to articulate to Government and Brussels that this is our shopping menu and we want to build on that.” He added: “There’s work to be done here. We have a lot to learn. It’s not just about chasing pots of money from Europe. It is about networking. “We have a lot to offer and it’s about positioning the Liverpool city region as a great European city and use networks to bring investment here.”
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THE BUSINESS LIST Saturday, February 4
THE New Futurism is the theme for TEDxMerseyside, which will explore issues such as religion and the state, use of biomaterials, ethics in art, inspiring our work life, innovations for learning and the effects of non-verbal communication. Futurism was a social and art movement founded more than 100 years ago, focusing on futuristic concepts, and TEDx Merseyside aims to bring Futurism into the 21st century. TEDxMerseyside is a spin-out of the global business and technology conference which is now licensed around the world. It is hosted by Open Labs@LJMU and will take place at The Art and Design Academy. Speakers include aerospace engineering graduate Ashley Dale, “Corporate Soul Woman” and transformational thinker Molly Harvey, linguistics expert Caitlin Walker, Robyn Woolston, who addresses concerning social, economic and ecological perspectives, experimental artist John O’Shea, Christine Shea, who will deal with non-verbal psychology, Dr Karen Nobel, from the Better Births group at Liverpool University, and Tris Brown, who is working to strategically enable better care for older people in Liverpool. Further details of the can be found at http://www.tedx merseyside.com
Wednesday, February 15 RENOWNED city engineer John Sutcliffe will chair a Construction and Development Lunch, organised by Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which offers a seminar comprising two workshop sessions specifically tailored for the construction sector. The first workshop will be presented by Hill Dickinson, followed by a networking lunch. It concludes with guest speaker Steve Dickson, Director of Facilities Management at the University of Liverpool. The cost for Chamber
THURSDAY, APRIL 12/ GRAND NATIONAL 2012
Grand National eventual winner, Ballabriggs, at the front of the field after the first circuit in last year’s big race Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD
AND they’re off! Barely has the year begun and the first details of hospitality packages for the greatest steeplechase in the world are starting to appear. Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is one of
the first under starter’s orders, and has announced a full-day hospitality package to make the most of the first big day of racing at Aintree this year. Its offer is designed for business people, their partners and
members is £30, and £40 for non-members. Liverpool’s Crowne Plaza hotel is the venue for the event, which
guests at probably one of the city’s best “networking dos” of the business calendar. The Chamber said the event was the perfect opportunity to combine a great day out, and do business, too. Its Liverpool Day
package includes a free bar, a race card, morning coffee and refreshments, afternoon tea and close up views of the world famous Grand National course. The cost to Chamber member will be £190,
will commence at 11am and is set to conclude by 1:30pm. Places can be booked online via Liverpoolchamber.org.uk
Saturday, March 10
‘Thinker’ – Molly Harvey
THE Chocolate Cellar lives on, despite the closure of its Hanover Street shop, in the form of regular workshops held at Claremont Farm, in Bebington, and now Leaf, on Liverpool’s Bold Street. The venture will also be attending events like farmers’ markets and food fairs, with details on the website. It has arranged a creative workshop for March, priced at £50 per head, at Leaf, in Liverpool, which involves a three-hour session beginning
Seminar chairman John Sutcliffe with information on the history of chocolate and then the pleasurable task of a guided chocolate tasting. Participants can then create
or £210 for nonmembers. The event starts at 9am until 5pm, at Aintree Racecourse, Ormskirk Road, Liverpool. You can book online for all Chamber events at Liverpoolchamber. org.uk
truffle fillings, dip truffles in Belgian chocolate and design and decorate their own toppings. All attendees take home their creations of fine, Belgian chocolates, wrapped, designed and made by themselves. The price also includes a hot chocolate drink. Workshops are hosted by one of the company’s experienced chocolatiers and they are marketed as popular corporate events, birthday parties, hen/stag parties, or special individual treats. Pre-booking is essential. Details can be obtained by visiting the website – www. thechocolatecellar.co.uk – emailing via chocshop@the chcolatecellar.co.uk or by phoning 0151-200 2202.
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BUSINESS LUNCH Peter Elson rolls along to the award-winning Lawns Restaurant with patent lawyer Ross Walker HE high-minded Victorian elegance of The Lawns Restaurant, at Thornton Hall Hotel, perfectly sets the mood for an insight into the intricate world of intellectual property law. As neo-classical figures stare down at us from the dining room frieze of this grand Wirral former mansion, my guide is the affable Ross Walker, managing partner of Forresters, of Birkenhead. Forresters, one of the UK’s top intellectual property law firms, is new to the North West, having bought out patent and trade mark law specialists Potts, Kerr & Co, based in Hamilton Square. With offices spread from London to Munich and Moscow, Forresters’ clients range across the Premier League, Cristal Champagne, The Cavern Club, plus celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay. While yet to ascend to the national fame of Forresters’ celebrity chef clients, The Lawns’ exemplary executive chef, David Gillmore, has led his team to become the only restaurant on Merseyside to achieve the coveted three AA Rosette status. This is given to “outstanding restaurants” which achieve standards “recognised well beyond their local area,” putting it into the top 10% of venues in the AA Restaurant Guide. We were able to enjoy The Lawns’ lunch menu, available Monday to Saturday, noon to 2.30pm, which offers a choice of two courses at £16.95 or three courses at £18.95. For £7 extra, you can have two glasses of house wine and a coffee. All-in-all, a great deal for this calibre of restaurant. On this occasion, for starters Ross had the borscht of smoked mackerel, beetroot potato and sour cream, which was declared to be both tasty and filling. I chose the Oulton Park rabbit and I’d like to immediately quash any idea that this delicious dish was roadkill from the renowned Cheshire racing circuit. Perhaps it was based on a recipe by the circuit’s former commentator and culinary enthusiast, Stuart Hall? For the main course, I stuck closer to home (or hotel) with a satisfying locally-reared chicken, garlic potatoes, broad beans and bacon cream. Ross reeled in some grilled cod, for his main, accompanied by cep
(or porcini) mushrooms and shredded duck garbure (a sort of confit), which he described as very enjoyable. Well-filled from two courses, we concluded with delicious milk chocolate mousse, passion fruit and iced yoghurt, plus coffee. Forresters took a controlling share in Potts, Kerr three years ago and gained full control last year. “Potts, Kerr was a good base platform for us, rather than starting from scratch,” said Ross. By chance, Ross had started his career as a trainee lawyer at Potts, Kerr back in 1994, after he left university. His first degree was in bio-chemistry at the University of Kent at Canterbury, followed by a masters in intellectual property law at the University of London. “No day is the same in my job,” said Ross, whose wife, Zoe, is a teacher. Together they have a son, Cameron, and a daughter, Verity. “Intellectual property law is a fascinating blend of science and the law, of using arguments to express science through legal definition. “It also encompasses the work of engineers, researchers and designers. It protects their ingenuity from a commercial perspective, while providing legal recognition of innovations, brand names, or logos and designs. “There is a lot of variety in the scope of inventions which people and companies devise. “We’ve got plenty of local clients wanting protection for their inventions. “This extends to areas which can surprise the public. For example, one of our clients is Ifor Williams Trailers, of Denbighshire, which makes equestrian vehicles. “Overall, Merseyside and the North West represents a huge opportunity for us, with its big pharmaceutical industry, software
The Lawns Restaurant, at Thornton Hall Hotel, in Wirral houses and universities. Liverpool has one of Europe’s biggest biomanufacturing clusters, Cheshire has Daresbury Science & Innovations Campus.” In-bound, Forresters also deals with many US pharmaceutical and medical device firms wanting patent protection across Europe. “Compared to the US, obtaining protection for a medical device here in Europe can prove difficult, especially since you cannot patent methods of medical treatment here in Europe,” said Ross. “With this in mind, the challenge is to link the claimed medical device to the condition being treated by way of reference to a structural feature of the device. “We do a lot of watching services, especially trade marks. It’s amazing what people will do. We had a Wallasey butchers client, Sausages R Us, which received a scathing letter from Toys R Us’s lawyers. “We’ve taken cases to the House of Lords to protect a company from rivals who want to knock out its patents. Sometimes our
work is the reverse, representing clients who want to knock out patents, for example revoking Viagra, so clients can use something similar that sells in the scope of their patent.” Moving back south in 2001, Ross worked at Forresters’ London office in Piccadilly from 2004, before relocating to the Wirral 15 months ago. Now the family have moved from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, to West Kirby. “It sounds a cliché, but you get a much bigger property up here for the same amount of money,” said Ross, who has also joined Neston Hockey Club. “My commuting time has gone from one and a quarter hours to just 15 minutes. The quality of life is far better up here. “It shows with the extremely low turnover of staff at our Birkenhead office. It’s not unusual for people to have been there for 20 years, but we are in the premier league for protecting trade marks.” Ross’s job entails responsibility for business development, finance, IT, administration and human resources. “I believe a weak patent in strong hands is stronger than a strong patent in weak hands,” said Ross.
“The patent county court makes litigation more accessible and less costly to patentees. The scope of patents is dictated by claims to stop variance which will also stop rip-offs. “I would urge small and medium-sized enterprises to take advantage of new patent legislation which came into force last October. Previously, small firms have struggled with court costs. “Our job is to try and generalise the invention to make sure that when claims are crafted they apply at a general level. “The patent profession is recession-proof. People used to defend what they had, but were initially reluctant to spend on filings. “Then there was a turn-around and people are again fighting for what they have got.”
DETAILS The Lawns Restaurant, Thornton Hall Hotel, Neston Road, Thornton Hough, Wirral, CH63 1JF Tel: 0151 336 3938
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ALISTAIR HOUGHTON . . . in which we network from dawn ’til dusk as glasses clatter like dominoes and bacon sandwiches await their fate HILIP LARKIN is tweeting! Well, not entirely. Who knows what poetry’s Victor Meldrew might think of the idea of broadcasting your thoughts, however inconsequential, in 14-character bites. Plus, he died in 1985. But a micro-blogging genius is now posting snippets from the great man’s poetry at @larkinquotes. Not long after I followed @larkinquotes on Twitter, by the way, he/she returned the favour. Which means Twitter came up with the wonderful line “Philip Larkin is following you”. And one Friday, “Larkin” tweeted this gem, from late poem, Party Politics: I never remember holding a full drink/My first look shows the level half-way down/What next? And my mind was cast back to the night before, when various luminaries of the local media, plus me, were given a tour of the Albert Dock. We were escorted round bars by PR and marketing gurus Jayne Moore and Rachael Bampton-Smith, much like a tour group being escorted around Tate Liverpool galleries. Only with added booze. And, much like Larkin, my glasses
kept being filled up. Despite my best efforts, of course. IGHLIGHTS? Well, Vinea was a hidden gem. It looks like a simple wine bar, but inside it’s a little wine school, offering wine tasting courses for individuals and groups. Sounds niche? Well, it’s been doing it for four years and is often fully booked, so it’s doing something right. It even offered our noisy group a quick tasting of a red and a white wine. In Revolution, there was some less sophisticated fun. The bar staff had lined up a row of glasses, with a row of shot glasses balanced above. “What’s it called?” I heard someone ask. I resisted from crying out “an accident waiting to happen”. Particularly after it worked perfectly. It fell to the Echo’s Andrew Campbell to knock the end shot glass and watch all those little vessels clatter like little vodka-filled dominoes in to the glasses below. And something caught my eye in another bar that made me stop and stare for some time. To quote the note I made that night: “How much of a symbol is it of the decadence of our society that we now have televisions on toilet vending machines?”
Philip Larkin wrote Dockery and Son. This, though, is the Albert Dock
More sensibly, in What’s Cooking, which we viewed while chomping on mini-burgers, one table boated a pair of Nintendo DS gaming consoles. It may seem anti-social, but actually it means you have to interact with the person sitting opposite, even if you are just trying to shoot them on-screen. Speaking of interactions, our group wobbled on to Pan Am for desserts, and more perpetually half-filled glasses, before the group was steadily eroded by the tide of warnings that the last trains to various corners of Merseyside were soon to depart. OOKING back, that was a long day. Because it started with one of the events of the year – the breakfast bash marking the launch of the new-look Liverpool Post. The room at the Radisson Blu hotel was rammed, and as buzzing as any breakfast event I’ve seen. You couldn’t have thrown a mini Danish pastry without hitting a dignitary, from creative dynamo Phil Redmond to council leader Joe Anderson. The dilemma at any such event, of course, is “when do I get to the food?” Networking with a glass of orange juice is easy. Trying the same with a plate of bacon sandwiches is jolly hard. Some brave souls manage it with aplomb. But not me. Once, backstage at Have I Got News For You – namedrop alert – I had raided the buffet for handfuls of mini shish kebabs when I found myself being introduced to Paul Merton. I couldn’t shake hands, of course, and had to do a “comedy bow”. Which left genuine comedy legend Merton somewhat bemused. So, this time round, I went for the “say hello to a few people, then grab a bacon sandwich and eat it in a corner of the room” approach. Then to more mingling, and to the speeches, which saw everyone give the paper a thoroughly warm welcome. And next came the main event – the handing out of goodie bags, each including a copy of the long-awaited 120-page paper, and a shiny Liverpool Post keyring. Some of my colleagues missed out on bags, and eyed mine with undisguised jealousy. So I was smugly able to point out my recipe for goodie bag success – always stand next to someone more important than you. The organisers have to give the VIP their bag, and would feel too embarrassed to leave you out. In this case, I bathed in the reflected glory of Chamber of Commerce chief Jack Stopforth. Thanks, Jack. And then, another mini Danish later, it was back to work. No Larkin about for me.
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SOCIAL DIARY THE NETWORKER
Tony Harrison (Bright Moon Media) and Anna Khanna (Utility Warehouse), enjoying Downtown’s Sexy Networking event
HOST chefs Mike Abrahams, Andy Mountfield, Matt Nacey and Luke Creedon prepare some tasty dishes for the restaurant’s first wine tasting dinner
CAROLYN HUGHES Debbie Williams and Peter Sharpe (Tender Management Consultancy), at the Sexy Networking event in the Sir Thomas Hotel
DOWNTOWN’S first Sexy Networking event for 2012 attracted over 120 guests from Liverpool’s Business Community including many new faces. The event was hosted by the Sir Thomas Hotel and, as is normal for Downtown, the networking carried on in a number of the cities bar restaurants long after the formalities were over! ■ LIVERPOOL Pan Asian restaurant, HOST, had its first wine tasting dinner of 2012 on January 17. In association with C&O Wines, head chef David Fitzsimmons prepared a delectable four-course
menu expertly married with five of the finest wines. C&O Wines’ Dominic O’Connell was on hand to inform and entertain diners throughout the evening. ■ MOORE Media and Rachel Bampton-Smith organised a Dock Crawl around the historic Albert Dock last week to showcase the outstanding array of bars and restaurants to a selection of media organisations and party bookers. The crawl began at GUSTO, and included a visit to, Blue Bar, Revolution, Spice Lounge, Circo, Miller & Carter, What’s Cooking, Vinea and PanAm.
Roger Jonas (Downtown Liverpool in Business) and Dave Blackman (Venmore), at the Sexy Networking event
Julie Goodwin, of Superstar Social, and Emma Hill, of EG Publishing, learning the ropes at Revolution, on the Albert Dock
Sara Bibby-Chattun and partner Ste Wooten, at the HOST wine tasting dinner
Dominic O'Connell, of C&O Wines, offering advice to diners during HOST’s wine tasting dinner
Andy Campbell and John Sutton, shaken but not stirred, at the Revolutions Cocktail Masterclass
Rachael Bampton-Smith, of Rachael BamptonSmith Associates, with Joe Hull and Natalie Millinton, from GUSTO, and Jayne Moore, of Moore Media, enjoying the Albert Dock Crawl
For more information call 0151 530 5300 or visit evertonfc.com/exec
Manchester City Tuesday 31 January From £90+VAT Chelsea Saturday 11 February From £80+VAT
Everton entertain the Blues of Manchester and London in what could prove to be a vital few days. The famous Goodison Park night match atmosphere awaits Roberto Mancini’s men on Tuesday 31st followed by a 3pm kick off for Chelsea on Saturday 11th. A limited number of executive lounge matchday packages are available for both games, so make sure you enjoy the optimum experience at two of most attractive fixtures of the season. Prices start at £90+VAT for Man City and £80+VAT for Chelsea. For more information and to book, please call the Corporate Sales team on 0151 530 5300, email email@example.com or visit evertonfc.com/exec
“I am committed to be the best. Nothing leaves the kitchen unless I am happy with it.”
Anthony Smith Award Winning Everton Chef
Monthly regional business magazine from The Liverpool Post