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Thursday, July 18, 2013


Thursday, July 18, 2013

news

Stack offers IT expertise to restructured property group LIVERPOOL firm Stack Data Solutions has developed a new IT system to support the business restructure of Seddon Property Services, part of Seddon Group, which has become Novus Property Solutions. Tasked with providing a business continuity site for Novus, Stack has built a disaster recovery system that

will be located at Novus’s new site in Warrington, due to open in September. Aside from ensuring business continuity, the new IT system provided by Stack also offers Novus reduced energy consumption, speedier processing times and room for future expansion. The contract win for Stack

followed a decision by family-owned construction business Seddon Group to restructure and create three independently owned trading companies including Seddon Property Services, officially rebranded as Novus Property Solutions, on July 1. Mark Davies, IT manager at Novus, said: “We restructured

in order to create three independent and stronger businesses that could provide customers with an enhanced service offering and generate significant growth opportunities. “Integral to this was ensuring we had the right IT system in place, with a recovery system for business continuity should we encounter a dis-

aster such as fire or flood. “We’ve worked with Stack for many years and were, therefore, confident it would deliver for us once again, by ensuring security of data, as we take the business forward.” Stack Data Solutions began life in 1979 and is now one of the leading cloud services providers in the North West.

Man who dressed The Beatles remains a cut above the rest by Marc Waddington

POST CITY EDITOR

marc.waddington@liverpool.com

ASK many people in Liverpool where the Queen Arcade is and they will probably look at you blank. But while the little alley, which cuts a right angle behind the junction of Dale Street and Castle Street, may not be known to all, some of the customers of the small tailor’s shop along it are known the world over. Craft Tailoring, possibly the only tailoring firm left in Liverpool that actually hand makes its suits (most will take measurements and send the dimensions off to a factory to be made up), has, in its owner Walter Smith, a national award-winning suit-maker, who dressed the city’s great and good from the 1960s onwards. It was in the summer of 1962 that one of his regular clients, NEMS music store owner Brian Epstein dropped in to see him. But this time, he was not looking for new attire for himself. “He came to see me and said ‘I’m bringing you four lads, musicians, and I’m going to manage them’,” remembers Walter. “I asked ‘Who are they?’ and he said ‘They’re called the Beatles’. “I asked the girls in the work room, ‘Do you know these Beatles?’ and they said ‘Oh yes, they play at the Cavern’. I said, ‘They’ll never get anywhere with a stupid name like that’.” After some haggling over the price, with Mr Epstein finding the 28 guinea per suit price tag a little steep – “It’s a bit much, they’re only starting out” – a deal was struck at 25 per outfit. The suits would be the ones they would wear for their first TV appearance, on a Granada TV show. Mr Smith remembers to this day all the details of the design. “It was a blue silk and wool mix. It didn’t have the rounded neck line, it had little lapels, dropped shoulders, a slightly short box jacket, and very tight trousers. We had to have them measured up and ready in a fortnight. “They came in the following Wed-

Walter Smith, 78, is still trading from Queen Arcade in Liverpool city centre nesday for the fitting, and they were very lively. I remember their language was very choice. I had to say to them, ‘Would you mind moderating your language, this is a tailors’ shop’. “I remember they were wearing these very narrow trousers, and winkle picker boots, and because they had been playing in the Cavern all night and sweating, I had to ask them to leave their boots outside. They smelled something awful.” A fortnight later, the Beatles performed on TV, and took their first steps towards stardom. But in that

intervening period, one of those Mr Snith made a suit for, Pete Best, was dismissed from the band, and replaced by Ringo Starr. Presumably Ringo donned the suit intended for the sacked drummer that he had measured up. While Mr Smith, who learnt his trade as a 16-year-old and has been in the business for more than 60 years, has had some eminent customers over the years, the Beatles remain, understandably, his most famous clients. And since he made those suits for the Fab Four, the tailoring craft has

UKTI to lead Polish trade mission NORTH WEST companies from the advanced manufacturing, chemical and food and drink sectors are invited to join a UK Trade & Investment trade mission to Warsaw. The week-long visit will offer companies the opportun-

ity to win business in the fast growing Polish market. Participating companies will benefit from the support of a knowledgeable visit leader with business experience in Poland, market and sector briefings before, during

and after the trip and help identifying potential customers and partners. Poland is the largest EU country in Central and Eastern Europe, with a population of 38m.The mission is from October 27 to 31.

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY

declined considerably in the city. “Back then, North John Street was full of tailors, it was the Savile Row of the North. But today, men just don’t dress any more. When we were young men, we would tell the tailor exactly what we wanted, that was the way it was done. But today, the main thing a young man cares about is his car. “But our clientele is mainly people who want something a bit special, of quality, and individual. “Ultimately, they look better and last longer, so despite the initial outlay, they are actually better value.”

post business

Stiebel welcomes new green tariffs WIRRAL-BASED heat pump manufacturer Stiebel Eltron UK has welcomed the confirmation of new tariff levels for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has announced that tariff levels have been set at 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps, 18p/kWh for ground source heat pumps and at least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal. Mark McManus, Stiebel Eltron UK managing director, said the announcement would help green businesses across Merseyside and the North West. “The renewable energy industry – both in this region and across the UK – has been waiting a long time for this and we are encouraged by the strong tariff levels which will give homeowners the confidence to look at heat pump technology as a viable heating option,” he said. “The domestic RHI now gives a tangible incentive for householders who will get a solid return on investment for reducing their carbon output. “In the past many people who had been considering renewable energy were sticking with traditional heating solutions, such as oil and LPG, due to the uncertainty of Government incentive schemes – we hope this will now change.”

POST BUSINESS DAILY A revolution in the way business people get their news

New markets MORE than half of small and medium-sized firms have attempted to grow by entering new markets in the past two years, according to a new report by venture capital outfit, Albion Ventures. It also found more than 70%of the 450 SMEs interviewed for the report faced no difficulties in their attempt to tap into new markets.

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post business big feature

Bill Gleeson One of the best examples of good strategic thinking BIBBY Line Group published its full year results last week. They show a sharp drop in profit, but don’t let that worry you. The shipping, invoice discounting and convenience stores group still made more than £30m. Its top line grew impressively enough, with just under £1.3bn in 2011 to £1.4bn last year. There has been considerable investment in its oil and gas related deep sea support vessels, offshore hotels and its invoice factoring arm. In the 16 years I have been covering the city’s business community, the Bibby group has always struck me as the one business that seems to best understand what a strategy is for. The report and accounts, detailed on page 8 of this magazine, clearly outline the group’s strategic logic and how it has been particularly beneficial in the difficult year under review. The shipping industry is very sensitive to the ups and downs of the economic cycle, making it essential that shipping operators have a way of coping with downturns. Bibby’s investment in the offshore support vessels has paid off. In contrast, I have come across plenty of examples of businesses that haven’t a clue about strategy, or if they do, they have a bad one. The need for diversification at Bibby was learnt the hard way three decades ago when the group, then very reliant on shipping, nearly went out of business. Bibby’s strategy of diversification has been enough to see it through a prolonged trading downturn. I THOUGHT orchids were meant to be tricky to cultivate. We have one in a pot on our kitchen windowsill. It’s done very well since the day it was bought over a year ago, but this summer it has something like twice the number of flowers on it, about 20 in all. So the gardeners among you might be interested to know what my secret is. Unfortunately, I don’t know. This brings me neatly to the subject of the economy and green shoots and whether or not it is

picking up at long last. As the adjacent feature shows, there are increasingly hopeful signs that when the first estimate of second quarter GDP growth is published next week, it will be good news. It is of course exceptionally unlikely that the figure will be anything other than marginally positive, but that would be a step in the right direction. There have been other false starts in the race to recovery of the past few years, but this time round there is a real sense that growth will be sustained. I share the views of Capital Economics when they assert that in the not too distant future growth will be much stronger than many anticipate. The UK economy, and the economies of northern European nations, have done well in recent decades, largely driven by productivity gains. We need growth, not because we are greedy, but because our population is living longer and the number of people living in this country is rising. We also need to pay off our debts, both public and private. While many of our biggest companies have done that, thereby strengthening their balance sheets, our government and many individuals have not done so. Fortunately technological improvements will undoubtedly help to create and power growth. SHOP Direct issued something like a trading statement this week. Turnover rose by 1% on the year to June. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by double digit percentage. The company appears confident that it will be reporting profits when the full accounts are published in a few months time. One thing the company said that was new to me is that the Littlewoods brand is deemed an old brand that is losing ground to Shop Direct’s newer brands like Very and Isme. More than £500m of Very clothes were sold last year. Now that’s a strategy that appears to be working.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time to gear up Bill Gleeson reports on hopeful signs that next week’s GDP figures will show the recovery is underway

T

HE tone of economic forecasts and business surveys have improved in recent weeks. Examples include forecasts published last week by Capital Economics. Long seen as one of Britain's more pessimistic forecasting groups, Capital Economics predicts the UK economy will rebound strongly in 2015. The firm argues that there is pent up potential in what has been a strong economy in recent decades. It believes the economy will beat expectations by expanding at 2.5% in 2015, with growth set to accelerate by as much as 4% in 2016. Before that happens, however, there will be a protracted period of slow progress. A “sub-par recovery” will continue for the next 18 months, with growth numbers bumping around 1.5% in 2014. Only from 2015 onwards will the economy start to accelerate as a result of an expansion in manufacturing, energy and construction. Many commentators have long held that strong economic growth is inevitable in the developed world thanks to technology. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, 3D printing and the next stage of the computer revolution, as well as a rise in the economically active population all lie behind the economists’ bullish forecast of a “better balanced economy”, although they believe firms will expand using their existing staff rather than making new hires. “The UK economy has been written off many times in the past, but prosperity has always returned,” states Capital Economics’ report. “Accordingly, when a full-blown recovery finally comes, we believe that it will be worth the wait.” The mostly upbeat forecast came as accountancy firm BDO reported that business confidence was at the highest level since May last year. BDO’s optimism index rose for a fifth month in a row in June as confidence grew among both manufacturing and services companies, although it remains slightly below the level, which would indicate the economy was expected to grow. BDO warned a combination of factors including "belt-tightening" among UK consumers, eurozone volatility and hints from the US Federal Reserve that it will ease stimulus measures in the coming months were likely to weigh on business confidence. “While it’s encouraging to see confidence continuing to improve, we should be mindful of the zigzag trend that has characterised UK business confidence since 2008,” said Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO. “Periods of improved confidence have ended before growth has really begun to get going. The worry is that financial market turmoil arising from the actions of the Federal Reserve will choke off yet another nascent UK recovery.” Last week the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted against additional stimulus following a string of upbeat data. The economy grew by 0.3% in the first quarter and economists predict growth accelerated in the second quarter. The first official estimate of second-quarter GDP growth will be published next week.

In a further sign of a return to normality, and for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, the ratings agency Moody’s has upgraded the outlook for the British banking sector. The agency has had a negative outlook on UK banks since May 2008 but last Wednesday moved it to stable, based on the economic outlook and improving capital position of banks. The Bank of England has indicated that it expects interest rates to remain low, which will help households and companies maintain their debt payments. “Moreover, unemployment has not increased as much as in previous recessions, supporting banks' asset quality,” Moody's said. Further good signs came as better weather lifted sales of clothing and footwear in June to give the beleaguered high street a welcome boost and add to growth prospects. Like-for-like retail sales rose 1.4% in June on a year earlier, following a 1.8% gain seen in May, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said, raising hopes that a recovery in consumer spending can fuel the economy.

‘Full recovery will be worth the wait’

Higher temperatures and promotions combined to drive sales of clothes and shoes. The BRC said total sales were 2.9% higher in June, adding that real terms growth was 2.3% over the past six months, compared with 1.5% over the past 12 months. BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “At this halfway point in the year we are able to see that sales are well ahead of the previous six-month period, confirming that the retail recovery is continuing.” The broader picture, however, is far from resolved. Hopes for an economic upturn were dented as figures showed a 0.8% decline in manufacturing output in May while the UK's trade deficit rose. One local retailer, Dick Mawdsley, who owns Utility, says there are clear signs of recovery. Utility trades in Liverpool and London selling up-market furniture, gifts and cards. Mr Mawdsley said: “It’s across the board in all four of our stores. “It’s noticeably better than last year. “Similarly, our online sales are up and have been for the last three months, week in and week out.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

big feature post business

for economic recovery?

Brian McCann of MC Vanguard Corporate Finance

Dick Mawdsley says his Utility shops in Liverpool and London have seen signs of an upturn in trade for at least the past six months “It’s not blips any more, it’s becoming sustained. “I’m not talking 20% increases: it’s single digit, but notwithstanding that, we are encouraged.” Utility has two stores on Bold Street, including a furniture and lighting shop. It has a gift shop in Liverpool One and another near King’s Cross in London. Mr Mawdsley said: “All are seeing improvement. The hardest sector is furniture in this climate, but the Liverpool store has turned a corner and seen in excess of a 10% sales increase on last year. Liverpool has always been hit hard in the past in recession on big ticket items.” The Bold Street furniture store sells, among other things, sofas that range in price from £2,500 to £5,000. Liverpool Chamber of Commerce board member and corporate finance advisor Brian McCann oversees a city wide quarterly economic survey. Mr McCann, a partner in MC Vanguard Corporate Finance, said: “A lot of what we do is driven by people who want to sell their businesses. The market is a little bit better. There's a lot of owners who would

have sold and retired two or three years ago, but they haven't because they haven't been able to get the kind of value they were looking for. “We also have clients looking to buy businesses. There are more new projects coming up. Deals are taking longer to complete. Buyers are rightly being very careful and if they are using external funding that's taking longer to put together.” Prospects for Britain’s small and medium sized firms can depend on the market they serve. Austerity measures mean the public sector is not likely to be a source of growing demand for up to a decade. Speke based £11.5m turnover medical products firm A. Algeo sells to the NHS in Britain but also sells overseas. Chief executive Hugh Sheridan said “We are a global business. “We have offices in Australia, the US, Dubai and many other places. Our international business has improved, but in the eurozone and the UK it’s still quite hard. “We have just done our biggest deal ever in Saudi. Dubai is back. It had a terrible 2008/09, but it’s incredible now.”

‘It’s not blips any more, it’s becoming sustained’

Bibby calls for a change to funding rules to help Britain’s small firms and assist recovery FOLLOWING the news that Royal Bank of Scotland is to launch a review of its lending to businesses after discovering it had £20bn in untapped cash, the North West’s head of one of the UK’s leading financial services firms is calling for the Government to review the channels through which funding is available to help increase small business lending. Nick Kindon, North West managing director at invoice discounting firm Bibby Financial Services, warned that schemes such as Funding for Lending (FLS) are not set up to enable alternative providers to access the funds, which threatens to suffocate growth in the region in 2013. Bibby Financial Services, which provided £62.5m to SMEs in the North West last year, has approached the Government and Bank of England asking for a review of how the schemes operate. The aim is to enable non-bank lenders such as Bibby Financial Services to compete on a level playing field with the banks and

increase funding to businesses. The proposal to extend the FLS to non-bank funders was first mentioned in Chancellor George Osborne’s last Budget speech. In part, it was a bid to solve the intractable problem of low levels of bank lending to SMEs. Mr Kindon said: “The news that RBS has an abundance of cash comes as no real surprise as the banks are extremely risk averse and too often decline funding applications. “As a result, government lending channelled through banks has not been reaching as many businesses in the North West, as the banks are only lending to those at the safer end of the spectrum. “But these aren’t necessarily the businesses that require funding the most, so there is an element of cherry-picking going on.” The call for a review comes following a study carried out by the invoice finance provider among SME managers and directors in the North West during the second quarter of this year.

The study found that despite the Government’s hopes to see the green shoots of economic recovery this year, many businesses are still concerned with the issue of funding. Almost a quarter of businesses surveyed, 22%, said increased access to funding would help them to realise their business aspirations. Mr Kindon added: “Our second quarter research suggests that North West SMEs see access to funding as an important driver for their growth aspirations and we want to help them with this, which is why we feel a more wide ranging review of the funding system is so vital for moving forward with growth. Bibby Financial Services is the Liverpool based independent invoice finance specialist. Based on Duke Street in Liverpool city centre, the firm is currently providing funding for over 4,000 businesses. The firm recently increased its available funds to £430m and has a network of 16 local offices throughout the UK. It is part of Bibby Line Group.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

post business wealth management IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Sovereign debt issues weigh heavy on global markets market analysis

by Mike Taylor

LIVERPOOL OFFICE OF CHARLES STANLEY DOES it worry anyone else that a European sovereign state is being told how to run its health care, tax collections, civil service and just about everything else by unelected Eurocrats and the IMF? Nope? Just me then. Or that despite the IMF admitting mistakes were made, Christine Lagarde is still fully committed to the Greek Tragedy? Once again it’s all about Greece as it is promised a further 2.5bn euros now with more to follow “if it delivers on economic reforms, completes state asset sales, sacks civil servants, and cuts spending”. Gosh, we’ve heard that one before. The real crisis is still brewing but of course we should not be worrying so much about Europe – the economic misery is so deep and well entrenched. What could possibly go wrong? Well, getting dragged down in the wake of a generally weak global rates market, which itself triggers new sovereign debt concerns. The strength of the market last week reversed the previous weeks’ over-reactive panic about the recent US Payroll figures. More bad economic news came in

the form of Germany being sucked into the European economic black hole as industrial orders tumbled. That’s all terribly bond positive, and should be equity negative but we are in a volatile age. Global markets seem to have figured the US taper might be coming to an end, but as the outlook is still very weak, nobody knows when. Our new Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has taken the issue back into the arena and said the UK economy is very weak and as such we will continue our policy of quantitative easing and will maintain low interest rates for the foreseeable future, thus causing our currency to weaken which theoretically should help exports and with Government Bonds once again looking expensive, the equity markets rebounded. But under the surface, the markets are still in turmoil. The sell-off in Treasuries in recent days/weeks leaves players with no idea what’s really on the agenda. How much will ending the taper relief move rates higher? I guess that depends on a whole range of factors – how quickly it tapers (and what is tapered; if mortgages, will that de-pressure the home buying bubble and all that entails in terms of confidence?), and how will markets perceive growth vs demand for Treasuries? The uncertainty as to what is coming next is leaving market players in a horrible July hole. What to do – every market took a spanking from May to June on the back of the end of the “big global ease” taper and the apparent failure of Kuroda/Abenomics. Speaking to clients and market commentators this week it was apparent that few have any clear views on the new direction – except many fear Treasury prices could weaken further – 3% plus 10-year Treasury yields are close, and don’t be surprised at 4% by year-end,” said one bond bear to me recently. It doesn’t make it easy to plan bond investments if you live in fear of rising rates and falling prices. Keep duration short? Play liquidity? Yet Mr Carney has advised us that rates will be lower for longer. If he is right then equities may yet be the place to invest.

‘Market players do not know what is next’

Mike Taylor

cheapest price for a 22-year-old car driver living in a high-risk area. Even for a lower risk scenario, quotes varied by £150 across the 10 websites. Which? advised that with prices varying so widely across websites, consumers must make sure they shop around and check more than one site. A survey by the group of its members found that less than one-third (32%) trust comparison sites to find the best price, regardless of the supplier. Consumers should also watch out

INSURERS are using “spurious” reasons buried in small print to wriggle out of people’s claims, research by consumer campaigners has suggested. An investigation by Which? surveyed 4,800 members with car or home insurance and looked at policies from insurers which were commonly used. More than one in 10 (12%) consumers who made a home insurance claim, and one in 20 (5%) who made a car insurance claim, had it fully or partly rejected. Which? found that some insurers are taking rules to the “extreme”. For example, members told the consumer group their insurer would not pay out for the contents of their freezer without a receipt. Home insurance policies looked at by the consumer group included a requirement for the property to be kept in good condition, but none was found to explain what this meant.

Mark Carney says the UK economy remains weak

‘Huge’ variations on comparison sites PRICE comparison websites are being urged to be more transparent about how much of the market they cover after consumer campaigners found huge variations in the cheapest quotes they give. A Which? investigation looked for the cheapest like-for-like car insurance quote from 10 comparison sites including uSwitch, MoneySupermarket, GoCompare and Confused.com and found that they could vary by more than £1,500 across the market. The consumer group was quoted between £751 and £2,280 as the

notes

for preselected options, which could mean they end up getting quotes which do not reflect what they really want. People should not just focus on the cheapest price as this may not give them the cover they need, Which? said. Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Price comparison sites claim to do all of the work for you but we found they don’t always guarantee people the best deal, or even the right one. “We want comparison sites to treat customers fairly.”

THE public spending watchdog has urged the Government to step up its efforts to tackle Britain’s retirement savings crisis. The National Audit Office (NAO) raised concerns that there is no single joined-up programme to encourage people to save more for their later years. It warned of the “significant consequences” to the taxpayer of people living for longer, which will increase the burden of social and healthcare needs. Projections for future spending on state pensions and pensioner benefits as a share of GDP may be “too optimistic”, it said.

Asking prices are rising HOUSE sellers’ asking prices have hit record highs for three months in a row as confidence flows back into the market. Prices rose by 0.3% month-on-month in July to reach a new peak of £253,658 on average, completing a hat-trick after records were also set in May and June, property search website Rightmove said. The website reported evidence of a “broader-based recovery”, with prices up annually in all regions across England and Wales

– the first time this has happened in nearly three years. New sellers are asking around 4.8% more for their homes than they were a year ago and London asking prices have soared by 12% annually to reach £515,379 on average. The West Midlands and the North saw the smallest year-on-year rises, of 1% and 1.2% respectively. The latest study will fuel concerns that Government efforts to kick-start the housing market could lead to a property bubble.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

news

Football clubs going their own way on stadium development

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Chambers signs key trading agreement LIVERPOOL Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with countries in the Far East to help promote international trade with the city’s businesses. An agreement reached between the Chamber, the Indonesian government and Singapore government, will look to support Liverpool businesses in international trade, promote the growth of investment between the countries and provide support to companies overseas. The agreement will see businesses provided

by Neil Hodgson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

neil.hodgson@liverpool.com

THE prospect of a ground share between Everton and Liverpool football clubs appeared as far away as ever during a business briefing involving both clubs this week. Lobby group Downtown Liverpool in Business organised the event at Hanover Street’s Novotel as part of its Liverpool Business Week programme. Everton chief executive Robert Elstone and Liverpool FC managing director Ian Ayre discussed the value of football to the local economy in a debate chaired by Downtown head Frank McKenna. A ground share between the clubs was on the agenda under Liverpool’s previous American owners, but current custodians, the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), is now pressing ahead with plans to refurbish Anfield to extend capacity and create valuable corporate facilities, and help regenerate the area in partnership with Liverpool council and Your Housing Group. Mr Ayre told the breakfast briefing: “This is the best relationship the football club has ever had working with the council and Your Housing Group and it is the best opportunity we have had to pull this off.” He said the project will extend the club’s capacity to 60,000 spectators and that FSG is driving the initiative. “With these owners we have been in earnest for the past 18 months, trying to change Anfield as an area and bring new initiatives and new jobs.” He said the corporate offer is only about 6-7% of the ground’s capacity, and would remain at a similar level after the refurbishment. But while acknowledging the inevitable ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ jibes about corporate hospitality, he insisted: “It is impossible to find an economic solution without the corporate offer. Our corporate fans are just as big Liverpool fans as our other customers.” Meanwhile, Mr Elstone reiterated confirmation delivered at Everton’s extraordinary general meeting last month that the club is looking at a site in its search for a new ground, aided by Liverpool council, but he dismissed any prospect that the Blues’ current home, Goodison Park, is in danger of failing safety standards.

post business

‘We know the city in terms of sites very, very well’

Jenny Stewart

From left, Ian Ayre, Frank McKenna and Robert Elstone and, inset, the Novotel in Hanover Street He said the club has been looking at sites since 2009 when the Government blocked plans to build a new ground, in partnership with retail giant Tesco, in Kirkby. “We know the city in terms of sites very, very well. Over past few years sites have come and gone.” He said since Kirkby most of the focus was on a retail-led solution, although progress has been slow, but he added: “A couple of other sites have emerged and we are working with the council on one particular site. “There are very good sites not too far from Goodison. It is where we want to stay. ” Finances would probably come from

the club and a private partner and Mr Elstone said: “It is important we manage expectations because it is about finding the right funding package. We need to find that missing ingredient in the funding package.” But he dismissed fears over safety standards at the ageing Walton stadium: “We’re well up with safety factors in everything we need to do to ensure we can stay at Goodison for as long as we need to stay at Goodison.” He acknowledged: “Concourse space is miserably bad and corporate is relatively low compared with our peers, but in terms of our tenancy, there’s nothing on the horizon that is going to threaten that.”

Hertel retains nuclear sites contract

Plea on jobless

HERTEL, the Runcorn-based multi-disciplinary construction and maintenance services company, has retained a contract to provide access and insulation services for the nuclear industry. Magnox, responsible for managing 10 of the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations, has named Hertel to provide access requirements, such as scaffolding rope access, asbestos removal, insulation maintenance and mechanical, in a four-year

THE long-term unemployed have hardly benefited from the improved labour market, with almost 900,000 out of work for at least a year, according to a new report. The TUC said the total was 16,000 higher than a year ago, and more than twice as high as pre-recession levels. It urged the Government to do more to tackle the problem, warning that being out of a job for so long can permanently scar people’s careers. The TUC said the UK’s unemployment rate was 2.7% higher than its pre-recession level.

framework contract, which can be extended to six. Hertel has worked with Magnox since 2005 and will provide these services at Hunterston A, Berkeley, Bradwell, Chapelcross, Dungeness A, Hinkley Point A and Trawsfynydd sites, which are currently being decommissioned; Oldbury and Sizewell A currently being defueled; and Wylfa the only remaining Magnox site generating. Paudie Somers, Hertel UK and Ireland operations dir-

ector, said: “This is a significant achievement for Hertel. An important part of our work with Magnox is our ability to work collaboratively with other contractors on site, which enables us to provide an efficient and effective service.” Hertel specialises in work at oil refineries, chemical plants, power stations and nuclear facilities. It employs 2,500 nationally, including more than 500 at Sellafield and the Stanlow Oil Refinery.

with introductions and networking opportunities with international chamber members and business communities abroad. They will also be provided with access to office facilities and associated services from the British Chamber of Commerce in both Indonesia and Singapore. The announcement comes ahead of a series of major international trade delegations which are coming to Liverpool. Jenny Stewart, chief operating office at the chamber, said: “The chamber is committed to nurturing businesses to grow both inside and outside of the UK and the agreement with Singapore and Indonesia marks a key milestone in our efforts to offer businesses overseas support.”

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

post business the bottom line

Bibby sees profits fall as the group invests for the future by Bill Gleeson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

bill.gleeson@liverpool.com

BIBBY Line Group has reported a sharp fall in profits during its last financial year, according to accounts filed at Companies House last week. The Duke Street based diversified business saw turnover rise 8% to £1.4bn in the year ending 31 December 2012. The group, which owns the Costcutter convenience store chain, ships, diving support vessels and an invoice discounting business, reported cost of sales of £1.25bn, higher than the £1.14bn seen in 2011. Gross profit was £152.8m versus £146m in 2011. Once administrative expenses are taken into account, Bibby reported operating profit of £46.4m down 27% on the £63.8m in 2011. There was an interest charge of £12.5m, compared to £10.4m in 2011. As a result, profit on ordinary activities before tax was £36.2m versus £55.7m. Tax on profit on ordinary activities was £12.3m, down on the £19.6m charge in the previous year. After minority interests are taken into account, profit for the financial year was £24.4m, compared to £33.2m. As you would expect for a ship owner, Bibby Line Group’s balance sheet shows a hefty £264m of tangible assets, up from £182m. The balance sheet shows debtors of £1.24bn, higher than the £1.19bn at the end of 2011. The high level of debtors reflects Bibby’s factoring activities. Cash was unchanged at £48.9m. When creditors are taken into account, net assets were £276.3m, an improvement on the £259.9m at December 2011. In the report and accounts, chairman Simon Sherrard said many of the group’s subsidiaries faced difficult issues during 2012. He said: “Not withstanding this, many strategic objectives were achieved which will stand the business in good stead in the years to come. “Most of our businesses saw a fall in operating profit compared to the previous year, but Bibby Offshore achieved a substantial increase which helped to mitigate the position.” Mr Sherrard said the decline in trading profits was exacerbated by the effects of a one-off £5m accounting gain recognised in the previous year. The group paid an interim dividend of £446 per share earlier this year, up on the £430 paid a year earlier. The board is recommending a final dividend of £893 per share. Mr Sherrard added: “There has been

Bibby Line Group chief executive Sir Michael Bibby and, inset, the shipping line’s MV Shropshire

no change to the strategy of the group during the year, which is to build up and develop a number of businesses operating in different areas of activity. The wisdom of the portfolio approach was seen in 2012 with Bibby Offshore delivering a record result on the back of expanded oilfield activity and an increase in the number of assets they were able to deploy, while other businesses struggled through more difficult market conditions or through

issues peculiar to that business.” The group’s chief executive Sir Michael Bibby added: “2012 was a difficult year with reduced profitability in part due to market conditions in for example shipping, but mainly due to our investment in developing long term value within the financial services and coastel businesses. “We experienced problems in distribution and ongoing losses in BCAS (Bibby Consulting and Support)

“The issues within our control have now hopefully been resolved, despite the poor ongoing markets in shipping and the continuing investment in financial services, the hard work put in during 2012 is already bearing fruit in 2013. “Offshore continues to build a very strong pipeline of orders with DSVs (diving support vessels) being booked into 2015 and beyond.” Referring to Bibby Financial Services, Sir Michael added: “After an amazingly successful 2011, the business drew a breath to focus on building a robust global platform to allow efficient delivery of the next phase of our global expansion. “Margin pressure did increase as banks in the UK, and to some extent elsewhere, returned to the SME funding market, but overheads increased significantly as we started to make investment in the business system and architecture. This will deliver efficiency benefits in 2014 and beyond.”

Wirral maritime interiors firm reports strong sales growth MERSEYSIDE based manufacturer and contractor MPE Interiors has reported its strongest year of trading since it was founded in 2001. Turnover rose from £1.5m to £2.5m last year. MPE was founded by co-directors Cliff Grainger and John Whetnall, who both formerly worked for Cammell Laird. It offers a range of refurbishment services including the manufacturing, supply, installation, repair and

maintenance of interiors. Mr Grainger said growth has been driven by demand across its core sectors of maritime as well as commercial and residential property. Employment at the firm also reached a peak of 50 workers, including sub contractors, while the core workforce has stabilised at 35. Mr Grainger said: “Our marine division has had its most successful year and we are keen to build on this. We

want to expand the business and win more work in both the military and commercial marine market in the North West, across the UK and Europe. “We are especially keen to promote the calibre of our bespoke furniture manufacturer and installation services to the superyacht market. “The last 12 months has seen us continue to work closely with Cammell Laird and other key commercial marine clients including ferry operators.

“For Cammell Laird we have worked on the HMS Queen Elizabeth ll aircraft carrier flight decks contract, including manufacturing enormous plywood weather protection units to guard the nine modules as they were transported by barge from Cammell Laird to Rosyth on the East Coast of Scotland.” He added on-land services for the commercial and residential property markets had continued to perform robustly.

notes ■

DAIRY products group Dairy Crest said it was pleased with its start to the financial year and first quarter trading has been in line with expectations. In a trading update ahead of its midday annual general meeting, the group said it is on course to make savings of £20m this year. This has been helped by a reorganisation of its loss-making milk division, including the closure of its Aintree processing site and the ongoing sale of its North West depot-based milk delivery business. Maghull dairy Mortons is buying three depots from Dairy Crest in a move that includes 54 franchisee staff at the depots and 51 Dairy Crest staff, who will transfer to Mortons. A further 20 administration jobs are expected to be created by the acquisition which should be completed at the end of this month. The group said against strong comparatives and in a tough consumer environment, sales of two of its four key brands, Cathedral City and Clover, increased in the quarter ended June 30 compared with the same period last year. However, sales of Country Life spreadable were flat and the group scaled back its FRijj promotions while it upgraded its capacity and capability. Dairy Crest employs around 200 staff at its spreads factory in Kirkby which has seen some recent investment. Overall, sales of its four key brands were 4% lower than a year ago when it reported a 15% increase on the 2011 quarter.

THE maker of Thorntons and Nestle cakes said results will beat expectations as an efficiency drive pays off. Cardiff-based cake and bread maker Finsbury Food Group is also increasing investment in its speciality bakery arm, including by expanding at a site in Salisbury.

AGRICULTURAL supplies firm Carr’s Milling Industries said poor weather boosted sales of its animal feeds in the 18 weeks to July 6. The Carlisle-based group added that the closure of a competitor has eased pressure in its flour milling business.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

small business post business

notes

small

business of the week

A TASKFORCE tackling tax dodgers in the holiday industry in the North West and North Wales, has been launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The taskforce will recover £3m. David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We are determined to support hard working people who want to get on in this industry and every other. “However, the people being targeted by this taskforce have no intention of playing by the rules. The Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we have provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.” HMRC has collected more than £80m as a result of taskforces launched since 2011-12. It expects to bring in more than £90m per year from taskforces launched over the next three years. HMRC’s Jennie Granger, director general enforcement and compliance, said: “Our message is clear – if you seek to evade tax or defraud the tax system, HMRC can and will track you down. “You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.” Taskforces tackling tax evasion in the holiday industry in the South West of England and South Wales, restaurants in East of England, road hauliers in the Midlands, and the fishing industry in Scotland have also been launched.

by Neil Hodgson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

neil.hodgson@liverpool.com

T

HE driving force behind the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival has the appetite to expand the event to a national scale. Denise Harris, founder of Aigburth-based SK Events, has run the festival for the past six years and grown it to a weekend event that attracts more than 40,000 people to its Sefton Park home and involves more than 160 of the city’s bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes and producers. It has also introduced a host of celebrity chefs, such as John Torode, Matthew Fort and Marco Pierre White to the city’s gastronomic scene. She said: “As a city we weren’t necessarily known for our food and drink offer going back six or seven years and to have grown that festival to nearly 40,000 people and the involvement of all the restaurants and bars and so many producers is probably our high point. It just seems to grow each year in popularity and success.” She said over the next five years she wants to build on its popularity: “I want to grow the festival so it becomes known outside the city as well as it is inside the city. “Sefton Park is very successful, but we want to do it across the whole city for the full week.” She said she was always attracted to events management: “It was always something I was led towards. It was organising and the challenge behind that and coordinating things that drew me to events management.” Her first taste of the sector was with Hilton Hotels Worldwide organising three-stop conferences to destinations like Tokyo, New York and Amsterdam. “I would do the entire package, doing hotels, flights and different centres. “It sounds really glamorous, but it was a tiny box in Watford and we never got to see any of the places we booked people in to.” Ms Harris moved on and was involved in organising exhibitions at venues like the Birmingham NEC, Manchester Central and Harrogate. “It was one of the big events I did in Harrogate when London’s Capital Radio came and asked if I would head up their team.” She was events director for Capital for seven years, working on projects like the station’s Capital FM Extravaganza that would attract more than 250,000 people. Then, in 2003 she returned home to set up SK Events. Projects included four years of organising the huge Family Go Live event and work in Cumbria, including Taste Cumbria and the Radio One Big Weekend in Carlisle: “Probably our most exciting event”. When the recession hit in 2008 Ms Harris said they were cushioned by public sector contracts. By the time the cull on public sector spending hit they had built up private sector work. But the economy eventually caught up with the company and she admitted: “One of our hardest years was 2012. There were so many companies we were working with that started to go under and it was a hard year for the industry because the weather was so bad and no-one wanted outdoor events and no-one had any money.” But the new financial year holds more promise for the firm and its 10-strong staff. SK is building on its national rela-

9

SK Events founder Denise Harris at the podium during the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival

Festival gives Denise taste for bigger stage tionship with high street retailer TK Maxx and it recently won work with developer Peel for its port operations, organising the recent official launch of the £300m Liverpool2 scheme by Chancellor George Osborne. Ms Harris said SK was the “David against the Goliaths” for those two tenders: “When you’re winning against London companies and winning big national accounts it is amazing.” A recent event for TK Maxx was at London’s Gherkin: “We said in the taxi from Euston, how many event companies have we passed on the road to here – we’re so lucky to be working with TK Maxx.” And on Peel she said: “It is not about big budgets, it’s listening to the client and what they expect.”

Ms Harris, second left, with celebrity chef Paul Hollywood, left

SME Club, an online small and medium business community sponsored by RBS with 3,000 members in Greater Manchester, is to offer membership to businesses in the Cheshire region. SME Club Cheshire will be launched in the next few weeks in partnership with small business advisors Business Doctors. Businesses will be able to join SME Club Cheshire for free and will enjoy access to the same range of business events and publications – organised and produced with the help of firms including RBS, JMW and ClearSky HR – as offered to members of the original SME Club. Alexandra Kington, marketing manager for pro·manchester, the financial and professional services membership organisation which launched the SME Club, said: “It was an easy decision to expand the reach of the community across the North West.”


10 post business creative & digital

Thursday, July 18, 2013 IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Future is hailed in hometown A DESIGN agency that scooped two titles at the Roses Creative Awards has been hailed by regeneration body Warrington and Co. Warrington-based Future, which works across print and digital media, won two titles at the Roses Creative Awards for its work for The Land Trust. It won a Gold award for its design of the Land Trust’s annual report and won Silver for its Use of Illustration across the Trust’s corporate brochure and other marketing activities. Steve Park, managing director at Warrington and Co, said: “Future is a fine example of a business that has evolved, developed and flourished having chosen Warrington as its home. “Congratulations to the team at Future on their double win and for once again proving that Warrington produces product of champion quality.” Future, formed in 2006 by managing director, Nick Yates, employs six people.

Plastic fantastic Manchester showcase for Mersey recycler by Alistair Houghton POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

A LIVERPOOL plastics recycler teamed up with art students to create a set of “stunning” street furniture for the Manchester International Festival (MIF). MIF and Centriforce held a competition for students at Manchester School of Art to design outdoor seating for the roof terrace in Manchester’s Albert Square. The furniture had to be built from Centriforce’s Stokbord range of recycled plastic sheets and boards. Students had to present to a Dragon’s Den-style panel featuring representatives from Centriforce, MIF, the School of Art and Manchester’s design world. Some 60 seats were eventually built by furniture company Ferrious and installed at the Glass House venue. After MIF ends on Sunday, the furniture will be moved to the School of Art’s new rooftop garden. Ronnie Doctor, marketing manager for Derby Road-based Centriforce, said: “The students have truly come up with a beautiful and practical design which makes a stun-

ning centrepiece to the roof garden. “We were extremely impressed with their innovative thinking which has used Stokbord in a completely new way to create a very refreshing and unusual street furniture design. “Centriforce is always looking for new and innovative ways to transform our recycled plastic materials into useable and commercially-viable products. The students have really shown they can think creatively to build an end-product that is attractive, practical and great for the environment.” Paul Tempest, designer with Ferrious, said: “The students have come up with an innovative and practical piece of design by using the Stokbord sheets as fins so that rainwater drains off the furniture. “At the same time, the benches are heavy enough to be stable and wind-resistant. They also look great, with a real industrial and contemporary feel. “The Stokbord sheets were cut to shape within the university and by specialist CNC fabricators. They were assembled by the students themselves in our warehouse, so they got a real feel for what it is like to be a hands-on product manufacturer.”

The student-designed furniture, made using Centriforce plastics, is now in place overlooking Manchester’s Albert Square

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creative & digital post business 11

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey chats to staff at Atomicom in January Picture: JASON ROBERTS

Ben Hatton

Bring more than just the funny

Creative England pledges to back North with RGF cash by Alistair Houghton

POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

SUPPORT agency Creative England has pledged to back more firms in the North after securing the support of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). Creative England was among dozens if organisations to receive conditional offers from the fund last week. It has pledged to use the cash to “create economic growth and sustainable employment in the English regions – with particular emphasis on the North of England, East Midlands, West Midlands and the South West”. Creative England was founded in

2011 from the merger of earlier agencies including Northwest Vision and Media. Since then the agency says it has invested £4.5m into digital companies and SMEs through loans, start-up programmes and backing for the games industry. Among its previous support schemes was the £1m Digital Champions fund that invested in 13 small firms, including Liverpool video game developer Atomicom. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The RGF is exactly what this country needs to go for growth and I’m delighted to have backed the Creative England bid – it will support this growing sector to invest in projects

across the country that have plans for the future and want to recruit local talent.” Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey, who visited Atomicom this year, said: “Creative England is brilliant at helping SME businesses around England realise their full commercial potential and maximise the growth opportunities available to them. “This new funding from the RGF, together with the support offered to industry through the new tax reliefs, is an acknowledgement of

the important role the creative industries have as a key player in our efforts to win the global race.” Creative England’s chief executive Caroline Norbury said: “The creative industries are a key driver of economic growth but they need support and infrastructure to reach their full potential and to thrive in international markets. “This funding will allow us to keep investing in creative businesses – helping to redress economic imbalance and bringing innovation and new energy to cities across England.”

Nick Clegg

Fund aiming to help companies of all sizes to grow and create jobs

Dr Neil Murray, of Redx

THE Government hopes the latest round of Regional Growth Fund cash will create or safeguard 9,900 jobs in the North West over 10 years – and will bring in £290m in private sector funding. The fund pledged to invest £81m across 18 programmes in the North West. Liverpool’s Local Enterprise Partnership has won £5m from the RGF to start a funding pot for small firms that need funding to

create jobs. And St Helens Chamber of Commerce won support for its The St Helens Jobs and Growth Fund, which will offer support to promising businesses that are struggling to get finance through conventional channels. Capenhurst-based EA Technology says it will use its £1m-plus support to help it develop technology “to improve the reliability of electricity supplies”. It hopes to take on 100 staff over the next four years.

The University of Chester’s new RGF-backed Catalyst for Growth scheme will offer grants to companies in the chemicals sector and will encourage those firms to use its new Engineering and Technology campus in Ellesmere Port. Liverpool-headquartered Redx Pharma, led by Dr Neil Murray, has secured funding to create a new research centre to develop drugs to treat conditions

including heart disease. Unilever plans to use its funding to accelerate plans to create a “world class” advanced manufacturing research and development centre in Port Sunlight. Other successful bidders included Tratos, of Knowsley, and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in Speke. All offers are now subject to due diligence by the fund. If successful, organisations should get their cash within months.

EVERYONE likes to be entertained and brands have long used humour to capture audience and consumers’ attention. Making light of a situation can turn a negative situation around or give a brand a “fun” personality – bookshop chain Waterstones’ Twitter presence is a great example of using humour to pepper what could be a dry news feed or product-pushing. But recent research by video technology company Unruly has concluded that relying on humour to get people’s attention isn’t always the best course of action. As so many brands adopt this method, a great number becomes lost in the myriad and don’t stand up next to their competitors’ funny campaigns. Its white paper, The Science of Sharing, found that the two most popular adverts shown during the American Super Bowl this year – in terms of Twitter, Facebook and blog shares – were poignant stories rather than a light-hearted take on life. Budweiser’s Brotherhood and pick-up truck manufacturer Ram Trucks Farmer adverts’ success was attributed to the emotive content which inspired strong reactions in its viewers. Farmer, which comprised compelling images of Mid-West American farming communities, reached 10m views on the company website and YouTube – a target which, when reached in just a week, saw Ram Trucks donate $1m to the National Future Farmers of America Organisation. People like to be moved as much as they like to laugh. For a campaign to be successful it has to get people talking and feel inspired to share it. Running a campaign around a sincere and emotive story may have greater impact than once which tries to be funny. ■ INTERNET entrepreneur Ben Hatton is founder and managing director of digital agency Rippleffect. Follow Rippleffect on Twitter @rippleffected


12 post business big feature

Alistair Houghton meets JOHNATHAN JOHNSON, chief executive at Fircroft

I

T MAY be a billion-dollar business with operations from Aberdeen to Australia, but Fircroft is still proudly named after the Johnson family home. Technical recruitment specialist Fircroft today supplies thousands of skilled engineering staff to the oil and gas industry worldwide. The business was founded in 1970 by engineer John Johnson, who had been working at Shell’s Stanlow refinery when he spotted a gap in the market for a recruiter specialising in the oil industry. His son Johnathan took the helm eight years ago and has seen it expand globally in more than 40 territories from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to Thailand and Australia. That, in turn, has helped sales rise from £50m to more than £750m. Johnson junior has still more ambitious goals for the Birchwood-based business. He hopes that next year its turnover will top £1bn for the first time, while he is also plotting Fircroft’s entry into the Indian and Chinese markets. With clients ranging from Exxon to Chevron, Fircroft is a household name among oil industry executives. But it’s a name that, Johnson admits with a smile, still needs some explanation. He said: “I’d like to think most of the staff know this but they don’t – because they constantly ask me whenever I’m travelling around ‘where did Fircroft come from?’ “My father had to make a name up pretty quickly to form his business because he saw opportunities. And at the time he was living in Sale, and the house was called Fircroft. “So, perhaps unimaginatively, the company was named after his house. “It was out of necessity. And I think you’ll find that a lot of businesses had come to up with their name pretty quickly.” The name of the Johnson family home may not yet be renowned outside the oil sector but, as Fircroft keeps growing, it looks set to inch its way into the spotlight. Johnson said: “We don’t actively go out and publicise ourselves but we’re getting to a size now where we start to get noticed as one of the bigger UK businesses, particularly within the North West.”

J

OHNSON’S father spotted the opportunity to start his own recruitment business while working at Stanlow. His son said: “He was working as a cost engineer when Shell required some more people – on a contract basis, not permanent – and he saw an opportunity. “So whilst he was working there, he supplied Shell with people. Gradually, that started taking over his day job. So he decided to leave and set up himself from home.” At first, Fircroft focused on refinery work, but it soon began working with companies in the North Sea oilfields and opened a second office in Aberdeen. The North Sea was where Fircroft developed its business model, and it remains a significant market for the company. “We’ve seen peaks and troughs in the North Sea,” said Johnson. “We’re now on a bit of a boom – nothing like it was back in the 70s but even so, compared to recent times, it’s very buoyant. “We tend to deal with very technical people. Rather than having that many people offshore we will deal

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Global push helped recruiter break the billion-dollar barrier

BP’s Deepwater Gunashli platform in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan, above. Fircroft supplies staff to BP and other giants through its Azerbaijan office. Inset, Fircroft’s Birchwood base with project engineers, with procurement people, cost and planning specialists – mainly office-based people. “That’s really where our worth is – the top-skilled people.We’re placing these individuals who are very highly skilled and there’s a shortage of them. So that’s where we’ve always focused.” While Fircroft grew, the young Johnson headed to the University of Sheffield to study surveying and engineering before heading to London to work as a surveyor. “Although it was a family business,” he said, “as usual, sons and daughters always try to go their own way.”

Johnson worked on projects from shopping centres to the London Underground. And, gradually, he learned more about his father’s firm. “During that period I was a staff person,” he said. “And I came across contract workers who were very similar to myself and were working for agencies – and I saw that potentially the agency that was representing them was making a quarter of their salary or something. “I thought ‘hold on a minute, this is quite a good business’, and I started to pay more attention to what my father was doing. “Rather than coming to work for

q&a Age: 40 Proudest achievement: A couple of years ago I won the globalisation award at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in the North West. And hitting the billion-dollar turnover mark was a big achievement for us Biggest regret: I don’t think I have any – certainly everything has gone pretty well so far

Still to achieve: We’ve got still some major worldwide geographies to cover. There are two big ones we’re looking at this year – China and India – which are very difficult markets Best advice: Hire the best people in the business. Bringing in people to work for me at a very high level has really pushed me and pushed the business

him I went to work for another agency just to see what it was like. And then gradually he managed to talk me into joining the business.” Johnson joined Fircroft in 1997 as a recruiter and worked his way through the ranks. As he rose, he realised that Fircroft could grow rapidly if it looked to emerging global markets. “The first opportunities came around 12 years ago,” he said, “off the back of some of our big clients asking if we would do what we do in the UK but in remote locations where they had big oil projects. “The first ones were in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, in the former Soviet Union. People know those areas now but in those days it was utterly Wild West, totally and utterly different. And they’re still very remote and difficult to work in. “The clients didn’t have any way of managing their personnel in those locations because there were no agencies. So we said ok, we’ll have a go at it, but we’ll go if you guarantee to give us business.” The tipping point for Fircroft came in 2005 – the year Johnson became CEO – when in quick succession it won global contracts with Exxon and Chevron.

“We became a preferred supplier to them for the whole of the world overnight,” said Johnson. “It sat down with my CFO at the time with a world map in front of me – and we said ‘This is where the clients are, this is where we’ll go – let’s go here, let’s go here, let’s go here’.” Johnson had to travel to the US to get the introductions he needed before travelling overseas to set up new Fircroft businesses. He smiled: “I’d take someone with me from here with a suitcase and say ‘you’re coming with me, we’re going to sit down with the client there, we’re going to register the company and I’m going to leave you here to run that business’. “And from having a desk in a serviced office we now in Thailand, for instance, have 60 staff and a multi-million pound business.” The international business may be mature, but Johnson still spends a large part of his time on the road or in the air. He said: “In the first six months of this year I took 30 or 40 flights, including travelling to Brisbane for one day and America for one day.” Johnson, who lives in Cheshire with his wife and three children, may spend much of his work time on


big feature post business 13

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Johnathan Johnson says Fircroft’s rapid global expansion helped it avoid the effects of the recession

Alex

Turner Just tell the truth – we can take it GEORGE OSBORNE, according to one political commentator, has come to the conclusion that in the case of any future tax changes, one big hit is preferable to having to fight lots of smaller battles. Pasty tax, granny tax, caravan tax and other measures which contributed to the coining of the phrase “omnishambles” caused more damage than one larger but clearer change. Standing on the railway station platform getting Northern Rail’s death by a thousand cuts treatment, I’m in full agreement with Mr Osborne’s approach to bad news. Just tell us how bad it is. Once. Fifty minutes later, and still with no sign of a train at peak time, it is no comfort that the train has – according to the announcements – never been more than two minutes’ away. The waiting has been given a looping soundtrack of “We are sorry…” messages, followed by “The next train to arrive…” and the list of the nine stations into Lime Street, just to get everyone’s hopes up that it is now on its way, followed by “We are sorry…”. I’ve never been subject to waterboarding, but right now I think I’d swap. It isn’t so much how they have chosen to handle bad news – after all, the information boards and automated announcements mean there isn’t the personal involvement and potential for confrontation – but it does demonstrate another of those modern traits: a refusal to admit that you don’t know something. The cliché has it that “I love you” are the three hardest words in the English language to say. That’s outdated, especially in our culture of public emoting. “I don’t know” must now take top spot. But where is the harm in acknowledging a lack of knowledge? Would it be that bad if the announcements had enough information, by admitting an absence of information, for people to make up their own mind? “The train on platform two is delayed due to a signalling problem. Unfortunately we don’t know how long this will take to resolve, but our engineers are working on it now.” Honesty rather than faked, and misplaced, certainty, is much the better option. We are so used to having information at our fingertips that we can overlook the fact that sometimes the information just doesn’t exist yet.

‘I think honesty is much the better option’

a plane but still loves to travel with his family when time allows. “ I try to get away at least twice a year ski-ing” he added. “I’ll probably try to introduce our twins to it this year.”

F

IRCROFT’S international push means it’s now much more than simply a recruitment company. Johnson said: “When we’re placing people in Azerbaijan, for example, we’ll have to deal with everything for those individuals because the client wants it outsourced. “So in Azerbaijan we will do the recruitment for these people. We will deal with the taxation for them. We’ll have full medical cover and emergency evacuation cover. “We’ll deal with transportation on the ground, we’ll put them up in housing and look after all the housing, so it’s a huge remit really. “So 50% of our business is actually finding the person, recruiting. The rest is about looking after them in these international locations. And that’s why we have to have our own people on the ground to do that.” Dealing with global bureaucracies is a challenge, but one to which Fircroft’s team has risen.

“Every single location is difficult and different,” said Johnson. “It’s probably far easier to set up a business in Australia or America than it is in Angola or Kazakhstan, and we have to do all of those. “But the positives are that it’s a very restrictive barrier to entry for people that don’t know how to do it or are afraid of doing it. “We learnt early on, 12 years ago in Kazakhstan, how to do that. So going over to Africa, to Angola for instance, is not easy but becomes routine. “We have very strong people in the business, which enables us to define the fastest, quickest and most safe way of setting up in those locations.” Fircroft’s international focus has helped it to avoid the worst of the economic downturn. “We were very heavily invested into emerging markets and emerging countries,” said Johnson. “So while we saw the situation here and in America, I was travelling to places like South East Asia and Australia, which is very big for us. “I remember, when it was absolutely awful here, I went to Vietnam and it was just a different world – a

massive opportunity for international businesses. “So we saw a downturn here in the UK, but during that period we grew significantly. And that was off here back of international growth.” Fircroft also benefited from restructuring in the oil industry, as suppliers decided to channel recruitment through a smaller number of preferred companies. Johnson said: “We started mopping up a lot of the smaller agencies in the UK, in America, in Australia and so forth.” And Johnson’s next international targets are his most ambitious yet. Fircroft will soon take its first steps into India and China, potentially as early as this year. A year ago, Fircroft brought in outside investment to help in its bid to crack those markets and break the £1bn turnover barrier. Private equity firm Equistone bought a significant minority stake in Fircroft in a £140m deal, pledging to help the business achieve its “huge growth potential”. Johnson said: “One reason for bringing them on board was to allow some older shareholders to leave so

Every location is difficult and different

they could crystallise some money. That allowed us to do that and retain money in the business for growth. “Another reason for securing investment was to bring more experience of growing a business of this size. And if we want to acquire businesses, we’ve got the firepower. “It was our one-year anniversary about a week ago and it’s gone well we’re very happy with it.” Today Fircroft works with around 8,000 contractors at any one time – each of which it treats as an employee for salary, tax and legal purposes. Some 2,500 of those staff are based in the UK. Key British clients include BP, Bentley and engineering group ABB, for each of which Fircroft supplies some 500 staff, while the company also serves the North West’s nuclear sector. Despite its global growth, Fircroft remains a family firm. Its founder, John Johnson, is still its chairman at 64 – and is still as keen as ever to win it new business. “He has an office next door to me,” his son smiled. “He’s not here all the time but he still comes in. “He still does a lot of travelling. Last month he was in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Houston.”

■ Alex Turner is the general manager of financial training firm Ambitious Minds


14 post business legal

Thursday, July 18, 2013

www.ldplegal.co.uk

Lawyer in vow for access to justice

Whiplash injuries from road traffic accidents impact people’s health, employment and general wellbeing says Philip Waters, inset

‘Compensation culture’ is a myth says Camps Solicitors by Neil Hodgson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

neil.hodgson@liverpool.com

CHRIS Grayling, former Minister for Merseyside and current Justice Minister, has vowed to clamp down on bogus road traffic accident (RTA) claims. Fraudulent whiplash claims is one particular aspect in his sights. Last year the Government announced a crackdown on fake claims which, allegedly, add millions of pounds in extra costs to the UK’s insurance industry and motorists’ premiums. Mr Grayling wants independent medical panels to assess the validity of so-called whiplash injury cases. He also wants a system that makes it easier for insurers to challenge claims in courts. There are about 5,300 claims management companies in the UK involved

in the personal injury sector who refer car-crash victims to no-win, no-fee firms in return for cash. Figures, backed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) claim that there has been a 60% rise in personal injury claims relating to RTAs since 2006, despite a 20% fall in reported collisions. Also, there are allegedly 1,500 whiplash claims every day which are said to cost £2bn a year and add about £90 to each motor insurance policy. A spokesman for the ABI said: “For too long, whiplash has been seen as the ‘fraud of choice’. “More effective diagnosis of whiplash will help genuine claimants get paid out quickly and reduce the scope for fraud, so helping to ensure that honest motorists do not end up footing the bill for cheats.” The Government has been consulting on its proposals and taking evidence from a range of parties, including Birkenhead-based Camps Solicitors

which has argued against the proposed shake-up. The practice, which employs more than 300 staff at three Wirral offices, has lobbied the Transport Select Committee investigation into whiplash claims, and the Justice Committee. Philip Waters, from Camps, said the compensation culture is a myth, that the figures used by the ABI are nine years old, and that some of the ABI’s claims just don’t add up. He said: “Claims have gone down by 60,000 in the past year. “The ABI says 7% of claims are fraudulent or exaggerated, so 93% of genuine claims will have to suffer.” And he added: “A lot of insurers want to settle claims without a medical assessment and make a pre-medical offer. “They are not willing to look at independent medical reports – even though they say a lot of them are bogus.” About 80% of the practice’s work is

Brabners advises on sale of FB stake MERSEYSIDE and North West law firm Brabners has advised Bristow Helicopters Limited on its sale of 50% of FB Heliservices Limited to Cobham plc for £74m, announced this week. Bristow is a leading provider of helicopter services to the worldwide offshore energy industry, in addition to provid-

ing search and rescue services in various countries across the world. Earlier this year it was awarded a 10-year contract to run the UK Search and Rescue helicopter service from 2015. FB Heliservices provides training, helicopters, engineering support and specialist manpower to military and

government agencies, worldwide. Brabners’ corporate partner, David Bowcock, led the team advising Bristow Helicopters on the sale. The legal team at Brabners also included partner Liz Graham, senior associate Colin Bell and associates Mark Morrell and William Ngan.

related to personal injury claims and Mr Waters said: “Whiplash injuries are one component of RTA work and happen every day. It is a real, genuine, debilitating injury that can cause all kinds of problems. “The Government uses the word ‘bogus’, but I have seen the impact it has on people’s health, employment and general wellbeing. “No-one is asking whether any supposed saving that would be made if the law changes will actually be passed to consumers.” He also criticised proposals to increase the small claims limit for people to reclaim legal fees, from £1,000 to £5,000. “That is a huge swing and would deny access to justice for victims because solicitors would not take on the work. “It would clog up the courts and put pressure on the NHS.” He added: “People should be allowed access to justice they are entitled to.”

A LIVERPOOL lawyer is bidding to win back his Parliamentary seat on a ticket of fighting for access to justice. Atlantic Chambers’ Gareth Thomas lost his Clwyd West seat in 2005 but has been selected as Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for the next election, likely to be in 2015. The current incumbent, Welsh Secretary David Jones, a qualified solicitor, beat him eight years ago by 133 votes. Mr Thomas, 58, attended Rock Ferry High School and then studied law at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, being called to the bar in 1977. He admits it will be a close contest with Mr Jones, who extended his majority to more than 6,000 in 2010, but he vowed to aid the moist vulnerable members of society if he wins. He said: “Very sadly, the legal profession appears to have few friends in the House of Commons. “Many people seem to think that lawyers are just another powerful trade union out for their own ends. “I feel there are not enough people speaking up in Parliament on the issue of access to justice and I would want to be a champion for those who need to have better representation and legal advice at all levels.”

POST BUSINESS DAILY A revolution in the way business people get their news

David Bowcock

Dowload today for your free 30-day trial www.liverpool dailypost.co.uk/ businessdaily


women in business post business 15

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Women can fill construction skills gap says college head by Helen Davies

POST BUSINESS STAFF

helen.davies01@trinitymirror.com

WOMEN could hold the key to closing the skills gap in construction and engineering – but only if more are actively encouraged to look seriously at the industry. That is the view of Yana Williams, principal of Hugh Baird College in Bootle. The further education college runs a programme of construction and engineering courses for both school leavers and those already working in the sector, but the majority of those applying for places are still male. With around 8,000 students each year graduating nationally from university with engineering-related qualifications and a market with the capacity to absorb 30,000 there is a skills gap. Ms Williams believes Merseyside could lead the way in closing that gap by encouraging more women to opt for a career in construction. She said: “Merseyside is one of a number of UK cities launching huge infrastructure developments “As a result there is a vital need for skills in the construction sector. “At Hugh Baird College we offer 17 construction-related full and part-time courses and the students who apply are predominantly male. “There are tremendous opportunities for women to make a career in construction but many never even consider the prospect. “Frequently we hear girls say construction is 'man's work'. “The industry however is hungry for skilled workers, male or female, to bridge the current shortfall. “And it is not just female 16-year-old school leavers who are failing to exploit a need in the market. Women looking to retrain often do not consider the engineering sector at all.” Hugh Baird College runs BTEC and National Diploma courses in basic construction, carpentry and joinery, brickwork, painting and decorating and wall and floor tiling. In addition it will work with employers to offer existing female staff training to transition into the construction side of their business. “Locally there are a number of major construction projects coming up which will require skilled workers including the creation of the Liverpool SuperPort and wind farm construction,” said Ms Williams. “Employment opportunities are growing and the skilled workforce needs to keep up with demand.” In 2013/14 Hugh Baird will be hold-

Yana Williams, principal of Hugh Baird, is encouraging girls to look at engineering and construction ing female-only work experience opportunities in construction for Year 10 students with the support of Liverpool Education Business Partnership. The college will also show them how construction qualifications can offer an alternative route to university and management. Hugh Baird itself is planning to launch degree courses for construction and engineering and sponsored Higher Apprenticeships in 2014.

“There is a virtually untapped well of potential female construction workers and engineers which could help meet the growing needs of the industry,” said Ms Williams. “If women can be encouraged to seriously consider careers in the construction sector it could be a great benefit to the region.” Ms Williams’ comments follow a report released last month titled: ‘Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth’.

Shanghai women’s group visits Liverpool A DELEGATION from the Shanghai Women’s Federation visited Liverpool last week to meet the Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation. A six-strong group undertook the trip to Shanghai’s sister city in the UK and was greeted by Lord Mayor Gary Millar at Liverpool Town Hall before attending an event at The Women’s Organisation’s headquarters located adjacent to Liverpool’s China Town. The delegation was led by

Madam Li Rong, vice-chairperson of the Shanghai Women’s Federation, accompanied by Madam Xu Xiufeng from the Office of General Affairs of the Federation and Madam Kang Binqin, director of the Women’s Working Committee of the Art Centre of Shanghai’s Grand Theatre. Hosted by The Women’s Organisation chairperson Gill Moglione, chief executive Maggie O’Carroll and chief of finance and operations Helen Milne, other

speakers included Cllr Anna Rodery who is deputy chair of Liverpool City Council’s culture and tourism select committee and Deng Jing Liu, managing director of Harvest Land Education. Maggie O’Carroll said: “It is crucial societies globally harness women’s enterprise and encourage and support women to start their own businesses.” The group was also given an outline of the Liverpool’s plans for The International Festival of Business in 2014.

Maggie O’Carroll

Created by the Women’s Business Council, the report found by equalising business participation rates of men and women the UK could increase its GDP by 10% by 2030. It said: “There are over 2.4m women who are not in work but want to work, and over 1.3m women who want to increase the number of hours they work. “We need to unblock this mismatch and optimise the potential for the UK’s economic growth.”

Group celebrates its first birthday A NETWORKING group for women has celebrated its first birthday. Around 100 women gathered in the Mariott Hotel to mark the occasion with Bollyfit and cake. Liverpool-based Networking Mums was founded last year by Zoe Humphries and holds events every month across Merseyside. The mum-of-three said: “I came up with the idea when I was pregnant with my son. “I was self employed and had been networking a lot but didn’t want to leave him while I went so I created this group where women can bring their children and network at the same time.” Women without children are also welcome at the group though, as are those who don’t work but are interested in finding out more about starting their own business. Up until now Networking Mums has been holding one event a month but because these are becoming fully booked they are increasing this to two. Ms Humphries said: “It’s different to other networking events in that it’s more structured. “We start with coffee and chatting but then tend to have more of a programme than other groups do. “We do speed-networking too so people get the chance to meet a lot of other people in the room. “People have made business deals through the contacts they make at the events. “We’re also able to put them in touch with other organisations which can help them.” For more information search Networking Mums on Facebook.

City networking event offering ideas on style A ‘BUNS and Bling Afternoon Tea’ networking event for women will be held in September. Style guru Luke Sutton will be giving style ideas and there will be jewellery on sale from LB Designs. The event, at Signature Living Hotel on Stanley Street, is taking place on September 10 between 1pm and 3pm. A spokeswoman for Forward Ladies, a national busi-

ness networking group for professional women which is hosting the afternoon, said: “If you want to chill for a couple of hours and make new network contacts at the same time, then this is the event for you. “These events book up fast so book early to be sure of a place.” To book a place go to www.forwardladies.com/networking-events-liverpool


16 post business location

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Growth of the pop-up shop could help revive the UK’s high streets

view point by Helen Stewart, associate partner, Hitchcock Wright & Partners ARE POP-UP shops to become a long-term feature on our high streets? Following pressure from the London Assembly, the Mayor of London,

Property values on the rise LATEST figures from Investment Property Databank (IPD) show that UK commercial property values rose for the second straight month in June. This, reported IPD, was led by increasing demand for investments outside of London. The average value of stores, offices and warehouses rose 0.2% from a month earlier. Total return, which combines changes in property values and rental income, was 0.8%in June, the highest since March 2011. Phil Tily of IPD said: “While central London continues to be the powerhouse of performance, it is the regional advances that are tipping the balance and leading to an overall improvement in values. As the UK economy slowly picks up, incrementally, so does property.”

Boris Johnson, has shown his commitment to tackling the number of vacant shops across London by launching the Pop-Up Summit. Pop-ups, or flash retailing, as they are known, are temporary retail outlets that allow retailers to sell their items in a prime retail space at much lower costs and with significantly reduced terms. This is not only good news for small businesses wanting to get a foothold on the market and begin selling their products to their target customers but it is also vital in helping keep the high streets from becoming ghost towns.

It isn’t just London who can see the benefits of such schemes. Liverpool has had a number of very successful pop-up projects during the last year. On the run up to Christmas 2012, Liverpool enabled students from colleges and universities across the city to sell their goods, including crafts, photography, fashion and art. Even Harvey Nichols snapped up the opportunity to launch a pop-up food market for over the Christmas period in Liverpool One.

Maintaining the high street as a destination of choice for the shopper is key to keeping our towns and cities alive. Pop-up shops offer a sense of variety and give a different type of dynamic. Shoppers are treated to new retailers offering unique goods that would normally bypass high street retail. They offer a quick injection of life into empty units and the fact that the Government is backing such schemes shows that there is a real belief that the high street can begin to thrive again.

‘Offering a sense of variety and a new dynamic’

Bank funding enables sausage firm to open a new facility by Tony McDonough POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

POST BUSINESS DAILY A revolution in the way business people get their news

From left, Marcus Tierney, Mike Baird from NatWest and James Tierney Junior

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London Mayor, Boris Johnson

Picture: RICHARD WILLIAMS

LIVERPOOL natural sausage-casing manufacturer, MCJ Casings, has moved to a new facility after securing bank funding. Family-run MCJ was founded in 1983 by James Tierney senior and has since established itself as one of the last independent natural sheep and hog sausage casing processors in the UK. Now run by his sons, Marcus and James Tierney junior, the business has diversified and added bespoke casing production and contract cleaning to its list of services. Funding from bankers at NatWest has enabled the company to expand its facilities with a new factory and office building. To avoid straining cash flow, additional funding support was given to Marcus and James to provide them with a buffer. As a direct result of the development, MCJ can now take on a much larger workload capacity, encouraging substantial growth for the future. In 2012 the company reached its target turnover, and thanks to the latest expansion, aims to meet a 28% increase in 2013. The firm employs 30 staff, some of whom have been with the business for more than 15 years. Mr Tierney said: “We are proud of our skill base and invest time in training and development to ensure we retain our staff and expertise. “We’re also looking to grow our team – we’ve already increased our workforce by 20%. “Thanks to this development, we will be able to recruit for additional positions in the near future.” MCJ manufactures sheep and hog casings and supplies a wide variety of sausage manufacturers, sundries suppliers and retail butchers throughout the UK and Europe.

Deloitte to carry out study into impact of green policies A MAJOR independent study is under way into whether the Government’s energy and carbon policies are having the desired effect on the property sector. The Government-led Green

Construction Board has joined forces with the Green Property Alliance, a group of the UK’s leading property industry organisations, to commission Deloitte to carry out the study.

Buildings remain the single largest contributor to carbon emissions, with energy use in non-domestic buildings accounting for 17% of the total. Jon Lovell, director in sus-

tainability at Deloitte Real Estate, who will lead the study, said: “The landscape of penalties and incentives pertaining to the energy and carbon performance of commercial property is complex and

fluid. People and organisations tend to become exercised on the merits and limitations of individual instruments. “This project is about taking a helicopter view of the aggregate impact.”


Thursday, July 18, 2013

location

Entrepreneur turns renting nightmare into a business by Tony McDonough POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

A LIVERPOOL entrepreneur has turned his bad landlord experience into a “thriving” new online business. Chris Carbery launched Rent Referee earlier this year, with the help of business start-up support specialist, Blue Orchid. His online service advertises properties for landlords and letting agents, acting as an impartial body by managing feedback from both tenants and landlords, so that people can get a better view of who they are entering into property agreements with. Prior to launching the service, Mr Carbery had his own encounter with a troublesome landlord from whom he had rented a property. When his tenancy agreement ended, he had great difficulty in getting his deposit back. Amid drawnout proceedings, he recognised that there was little help available to protect tenants from unscrupulous property owners, and set about developing an idea to combat this scenario. He said: “While there were one or two forums available for landlords to warn others against certain tenants, I found nothing that allowed tenants to have their say on landlords. “The concept for my site was simple enough – to house both conversations in one place so decent tenants could find decent landlords. “I also wanted to set up a community forum too, where frequently asked questions can be answered.” Mr Carbery set up the Rent Referee website by himself without engaging any formal business support and did so during recession.

‘There was nothing that let tenants have a say’

Chris Carbery and his business advisor from Liverpool-based Blue Orchid, Elaine Courtney “When he realised he would need some additional expertise to fulfil his business’s full commercial potential, Chris was put in touch with Blue

RICS welcomes probe into EPR THE Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has welcomed a Government announcement of a consultation into exempting all newly-built commercial property from empty property rates (EPR) for the first 18 months. Research published in November 2012 by RICS showed that 89% of respondents in the North West believe that EPR restricts economic growth. While the consultation signals the Government’s commitment to the exemption, RICS says more can still be done as EPR will continue to discourage property-led growth. RICS made a number of recommendations including increasing the exemptions for new-build, retail, office and industrial space and removing all refurbishment, renovation or retro-fitting projects from the business rate list until completion. Simon Rubinshon, RICS chief economist, said: “Increasing the empty property rates exemption period for retail, office and industrial space will help take the brake off speculative development and provide a badly needed boost to the wider economy which will certainly help our struggling high streets.”

Orchid. After an initial meeting to determine his business needs, he was matched with his own professional business advisor to access best prac-

tice start-up advice and training from Blue Orchid, funded through the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance programme.

post business 17

Housing market boosts Store First A LIVERPOOL storage centre has seen a surge in domestic storage requests – and believes more people are moving house thanks to better mortgage rates. Store First, based at Estuary Banks in Speke, has seen an increase in enquiries from domestic customers over the last two months and believes Liverpool residents are making the most of more favourable mortgage lending to invest in new homes. This month, the Council of Mortgage Lenders estimated that total lending in May 2013 increased to £14.7m – a 21% rise from April and 17% higher than May 2012 rates. Stuart Laverty, operations director at Store First, said: “We deal with both individuals and businesses but we’ve noticed a real upturn in domestic storage enquiries and orders over the past eight weeks. “From chatting to these customers, it’s clear the property market is finally moving in the right direction after a few difficult years. “Using an external storage solution like Store First during a house move makes sense – our centres are beautifully presented, clean facilities, with 24-hour access and free pick up service.”

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18 post business economic development

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Royal approval for city’s focus on

growth

by Alistair Houghton POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

I

T’S HARD to imagine a more British event than a Buckingham Palace garden party – and so it made a perfect showcase for the best of British busi ness. Under the blazing London sunshine last week and into the weekend, the Palace’s gardens hosted the Coronation Festival. The event showcased the wares of 200 companies from across the UK that have supplied goods to the households of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales for at least five years. As you would expect, the exhibitors included luxury brands including Bentley and the Ritz. Jaguar Land Rover, which employs more than 4,000 in Halewood, had one of the biggest pavilions at the event – with the Halewood-built Evoque taking pride of place. But this event was not just about the expensive and the internationally-renowned. It also served as a showcase for small and mediumsized firms that may not be household names but have won Royal approval for the quality of their work over many years. Those firms included Liverpool-based Hobs Reprographics, which has held its warrant for a decade, and baking ingredients maker Renshaw, which has been a warrant-holder for 63 years. Moving away from Hobs’ crowded stand for just a few moments, the company’s founder, chairman and chief executive Kieran O’Brien looked across at the palace and pondered what it meant for Hobs to be at the festival. “Outside the South East and London,” he mused, “I don’t think that people are particularly aware of this event, of (organiser) The Royal Warrant Holders’ Association, and what this festival means for small and medium-sized companies. “If you look around, there are some of the best of British companies here, there’s no doubt about that. “Look at the companies that produce cloth, artists who produce prints, motor manufacturers, food producers. Everybody here is the best of British. It’s the first time this has ever been done and it will probably be the last. It is unique. “A Royal Warrant is one of the best badges of honour we have. “It’s a privilege to work for your queen and your Royal family. “Some of these people have been warrant holders for 200 years. We’ve only had one for 10 years. We feel very humble.” Hobs won its first warrant a decade ago after it won work with the architects at the Estates Department at Buckingham Palace. Mr O’Brien recalled: “The chief surveyor tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘come for a cup of coffee’. I wondered what we had done. But he said ‘Have you thought about becoming a Royal Warrant holder?” Warrant holders are expected to keep upgrading the products and services they offer to the Royal household.

Princesses Beatrice, left, and Eugenie watch marzipan flowers being made on Renshaw’s Coronation Festival stand Hobs began by producing architectural drawings for the Palace, but now also designs and prints posters, graphics and hoardings to promote the Palace’s summer opening. Mr O’Brien founded Hobs in 1969 to print and deliver documents and blueprints to engineers and architects. In Liverpool, Hobs is perhaps best-known for its fleet of red cars that deliver printed products to clients across the city. But the company now has several strings to its bow, with activities including confidential document scanning and managing outsourcing mailrooms and printrooms. But at the Coronation Festival, the company was showing off two newer technological developments. In the middle of the stand, Hobs staff demonstrated “augmented reality” technology using iPads. Staff held the tablets over a map of city streets. And onscreen, while visitors to Hobs’ stand milled in the

background, that map came alive with buildings bursting from the ground and cars driving along the city streets. But the main attraction was at the corner of the stand, over looking a lake where a solitary heron stood watch. A 3D printer buzzed away, printing a red pillarbox from strands of melted plastic. And in a case next door, Hobs showed off some 3D printouts that staff had made earlier. The practical examples included a model of Buckingham Palace, and a prototype valve. But the most popular printouts were models of the Queen’s Coronation crown from 1963, a Corgi, and an eerily lifelike model of Top Gear presenter James May’s head. “The 3D printer is what catches the eye,” smiled Mr O’Brien. “3D printing has been used for about 30 years. We have been doing it

‘Warrant is one of the best badges of honour we have’

on and off for eight years. But suddenly, in the last year, we have seen it take off. “We have used it to print architectural models, prosthetics and furniture. The breadth of products produced is amazing. “My son Christie visited Lotus recently. They have six machines and they use them for making parts for engines for their cars – they use them for concept models to see if they fit and work. Then, 24 or 36 hours later they put them in a big machine and crunch them into powder again. It’s totally confidential.” Hobs is installing smaller 3D printers across its branch network. But in its Farringdon Road base in London, it is installing a large printer that can print even more delicate and robust perspex models. “We won’t get much change out of £400,000 for that,” smiled Mr O’Brien, who is proud his company is continuing to invest in growth. The company is so convinced of the power of 3D printing that it is rebranding three of its offices as

Picture: John Stillwell/PA

Hobs Studios. The centres in London, Manchester and Glasgow will offer 3D print, design and scanning services, as well as Hobs’ traditional print offering. The printer that was the star attraction at the Hobs stand will itself be installed in Hobs’ Liverpool headquarters, in Castle Street. And the company also wants to encourage students from Liverpool University and Liverpool John Moores University to use the printer.

W

HILE Hobs had a plastic model of the Coronation crown, Renshaw went one better on its stand with a crown made from cake. Renshaw commissioned the cake from Wavertree designer Terry Tang as a way to show off the versatility of its icings and cake decoration. Mark Bosworth, marketing director at Crown Street-based Renshaw, said: “We asked Terry to make it as a showpiece and it’s attracted a huge amount of attention. It’s a fantastic thing to have on the stand.”


Thursday, July 18, 2013

best of British

Matthew Connolly, from Hobs Reprographics, left, demonstrating the company’s 3D printer

economic development post business 19

diary of an entrepreneur I WAS born in Liverpool, raised in Kirkdale in the 1960s, but it is only with hindsight I can say I had a fairly challenged upbringing. Growing up I never knew I was working class. Money was scarce, work was sporadic for my scaffolder dad, and mum decided to get herself a career in nursing. Despite being raised in a house without a bath, an outside loo and no central heating, we survived cold winters with the help of mum’s fur coats on the bed, and we ate modestly, treated by Sunday teas of sandwiches, cakes and jelly. We were clothed in a fashion – we were loved and educated with support from our parents. In 1970 we were shipped out to the green, green grasslands of Norris Green, a veritable paradise it seemed then, gardens in front and back, a bathroom and good coal fires. I must have been bright as I managed to pass the 11+ which gained me a place in Mary Help of Christian’s Convent Grammar School. Then, I didn’t realise how well this would impact on my life chances and raise my aspirations. Throughout the 1970s I enjoyed my school time in the company of Salesian nuns. They sang, prayed, were clean and Godly, they carried an air of all things good, peaceful and pure. It was here I joined the serenity of an after school group – the Legion of Mary, my first taste of community work was offered after my first rosary meeting. I was charged with the sacred responsibility of giving home visit support to a local blind woman in Kirkdale. That was the moment my eyes were opened to the possibility of different social reality. Despite my good grammar school education and love of art and creative expression, I was never informed of artistic pathways at this school. During youth opportunities work I stumbled upon a graphic designer who told me about routes to art college. Creativity and expression in art have always been a foundation of my life; they help me to stay mindful of the beauty in this world,

even through the darkest times. I retrieved my art portfolio from school and applied for a BA (Hons) arts degree course; I was interviewed by Arthur Ballard – former teacher of John Lennon. The result was the start of my route to working in several local communities. I started in arts development work in Liverpool’s Jewish community, then, following a postgraduate diploma in Youth Studies in Manchester, I branched out into youth and community work where I spent the next 28 years gaining awareness into the lives of working class children in the city of Liverpool. My first professional full time employment began as a manager of a tough youth centre in Kirkdale, a stone’s throw from where I grew up. Today I have a long list of achievements ... my journey has been supported by many superb mentors from all walks of life. From working in the voluntary sector with Liverpool Youth Service, with Liverpool Youth Offending Services, I was awarded Merseyside Mentor of The Year 2010. I am now a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. I know that exposure to good mentors has helped me enormously. Having founded Turn it Around CIC (a mentoring programme for young people in crisis) in 2009, I began to learn the business of company development. Four years on I have launched TIA Creatives – the enterprise arm of Turn it Around CIC. To make business work I decided to take a risk, give up my full time employment with Liverpool City Council’s youth service, and go it alone. TIA Creatives encourages kindness among teenagers and children. It is launching a nurturing programme for 10 children per day. It aims to spread the practice across the city. Our venture aims to offer creative childcare that hears young people, encourages their voices, nurtures their spirit, and teases out their creativity. Debra Kurs is founder of TIA Creatives

The Queen examines a Range Rover on Jaguar Land Rover’s Coronation Festival stand And just to make the stand still more spectacular, Renshaw commissioned a cake from designer Fiona Cairns, who created the royal wedding cake for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. The five-tiered cake, which took three days to make, was topped with a representation of the Queen’s Coronation orb – with “edible gems” in place of the sapphires, rubies and diamonds on the precious original. Renshaw also held cake decorating demonstrations – one of which caught the eye of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie when they toured the food and drink stands. Mr Bosworth said: “They were very interested in the demonstration we were putting on of how to make marzipan flowers. “It was quite an interesting one for us to do because our core products now are ready-to-roll icing and marzipan. And whereas ready-to-roll icing is riding high and still proving enormously popular, marzipan is less so. “The image problem with that is that it’s a bit of a Marmite product.

Some people like it, some people hate it. And a lot of people perceive it as being a Christmas cake-only type of product. “So we were modelling roses and other figures. The princesses in particular were transfixed by that, and it was nice to spend time with them.” For Mr Bosworth, the Coronation Festival provided both a great networking opportunity and a chance to remind visitors about Renshaw’s proud heritage. The company won its first Royal Warrant from King George VI in 1950. Mr Bosworth said: “This is the first opportunity we have had in recent times to actually network with those other warrant holders. “And already several benefits have come out of that in terms of finding synergies with other businesses we never really knew were there before. “Equally importantly, it’s an opportunity to showcase ourselves to the general public and clearly it’s a great privilege to be associated with an event like this. “The heartening thing is that the world of baking and cake decorating

is riding high at the moment compared to previous years. “People are still enormously enthusiastic about the product. The fact that there’s a coat of arms on it, and that we’re a Royal Warrant holder, always gives that extra degree of kudos that others don’t have. “We’re really proud of that. It’s a real privilege.” Mr Bosworth and his staff were also able to use the festival to promote Renshaw’s ranges to bakers old and new He said: “We’ve come across people who are retired bakers, who used to work for Renshaw going some way back, and also people who used the products when they were students or craft bakers. “It’s about reacquainting them with the fact that we’re still around and the products are still available. “And then there are the new people coming in. If you look at our business now, the way we’re growing at the moment is mainly as a result of new people coming in to the marketplace. We are riding the wave of the increased popularity of baking and cake decorating.”

Debra Kurs gave up her job to launch TIA Creatives


20 post business professional

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Firm hosts discussion for sector

Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to crack down on tax avoidance schemes

Tax specialist urges wealthy to avoid the avoidance schemes by Tony McDonough POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

A TAX specialist at a Liverpool accountancy firm claims a change in the political climate means the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion is being eroded. Paul Hyland, tax partner at Castle Street-headquartered Duncan Sheard Glass (DSG), says politicians are now seeking to clamp down on complex schemes which enable individuals and corporate entities to minimise tax liabilities. And he is now urging high net worth individuals and business people in the North West to consider giving such schemes a wide berth. His view was echoed at a major conference on the subject – the Longmark 2013 North West Tax Conference, held in Bolton – by leading tax barrister

David Southern, of Temple Tax Chambers, London. Mr Hyland, who has been a tax specialist for more than 25 years, said: “Involvement in such schemes has always invited an element of risk. “However, it is apparent that we are witnessing a sea-change in Government and, consequently, HMRC attitudes to tax avoidance. “This political and attitudinal change significantly increases those risks in our view.” Tax avoidance became front page news after revelations about how celebrities and prominent companies have taken advantage of complex schemes – many of them involving trusts and companies in places such as Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Mr Hyland says more and more

such schemes are at risk of being challenged and that it can take up to seven years for such cases to be resolved in the courts. He added: “I have always felt that it is easy to underestimate the emotional toll these schemes can take. “Seven years is a long time to worry about your finances. “The outlook of such schemes is changing and so too is our attitude. I would now advise businesses and high-earners to avoid the schemes, rather than trying to avoid the tax. “The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is eroding and people who have taken advantage of such schemes face not only having to repay the tax they avoided but also the interest on that tax penalty charges. “If it’s something you’ve been doing for years it can be a hefty bill.”

A HOST of leading Wirral-based construction companies came together for a sector lunch event organised by Hamilton Squarebased law firm, Hillyer McKeown. The event featured a presentation from Kevin Adderley of Wirral Council on the lifting of planning limitations across the borough and Shaun Smyth of NatWest Bank on developments in commercial funding. The event brought together key professionals to talk about sector challenges, future vision, and opportunities for growth across the local region. Partner at Hillyer McKeown, Ian Millington, said: “For a long time now we have worked closely with, and represented, many leading local and regional construction firms. “The construction lunch was an opportunity to bring together key voices and influencers within the sector, to network and to discuss the challenges currently being faced by the sector. “The main objective, however, was to present those attending with opportunities to discuss future partnerships and growth.”

POST BUSINESS DAILY

‘Seven years is a long time to be worrying’

A revolution in the way business people get their news

Paul Hyland of DSG

Dowload today for your free 30-day trial www.liverpool dailypost.co.uk/ businessdaily

on the move ■

ACCOUNTANCY group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has announced five new partner promotions across its Liverpool and Manchester offices. Nick Elliott, Jane Forbes, John Harding, Hazel Macnamara and Heather Varley joined the partnership on July 1. PwC has more than 700 staff in its Liverpool and Manchester hubs and North West chairman

Iwan Griffiths said: “These promotions represent a significant time for PwC in the North West as we continue to grow and invest in the region.”

FIRST Ark chief executive Tony Cahill has joined the board of trustees of The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust. The appointment comes after his wife was

treated at the centre. First Ark Group is a housing provider in Knowsley which also includes its own maintenance and repairs arm.

NORTH West law firm SAS Daniels has announced three promotions at its Chester office, including a new appointment to its partnership. Andrew Clark, a property specialist on the law

firm’s real estate team, has been promoted from consultant to partner. He advises clients on residential and commercial property transactions. James Goddard, also a real estate specialist, has been promoted to an associate, and Sarah-Jane Dunhill, a member of the law firm’s dispute resolution team, has been promoted to an associate. She advises both private and commercial clients.

John Harding – one of five new partners

Tony Cahill – joins board of trustees

James Goddard – new associate


style post business 21

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Work-obsessed employees struggling to switch off

Is it a good idea to stay connected to the office while on holiday? Helen Davies investigates

Post Business asked our Twitter followers: Do you check your work emails whilst on holiday? If so, why?

@DougalPaver It's a source of constant tension with Mrs P, but if I can sneak in a quick email session each day of a holiday, I can relax.

@davidpeake. Certainly do. But then my business is open 24/7/365 and I'm the person responsible for keeping things going

W

ITH the summer holiday season upon us many of us are counting down the days until we can sit on the beach, explore new places and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life. But, with the majority of business people able to access work emails on their mobiles, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to completely switch off when we take a break from the office. Claire Currie, a partner at Kirwans Solicitors in Liverpool, has just returned from two weeks in Kos. She told Post Business: “I did take my Blackberry but kept it in the safe and checked it once a day when we got back to our room about 4.30pm, which was 2.30pm here. “For me it was piece of mind that I wasn't needed for anything and it was a good balance because once I had checked it, it went back into the safe.” While those working for larger firms may feel their colleagues will expect them to keep on top of their emails while they’re away, for many small business owners there’s a worry if they don’t check their inbox they may lose out on work. Dave Brown, managing director of Liverpool-based mobile app developer Apposing, said: “It’s difficult to switch off on holiday when you own your own business. “Just because you’ve decided to have a break doesn’t mean the workload stops. “In previous years I’ve found myself checking in daily and replying to the

Twitter’s verdict

@MayabrookLtd Yes, because it’s often easier to manage a problem as it arises than two weeks later.

@Stuart_Daulby I do, just because its one less thing to face when you come back after a week off.

Holidays are meant for relaxing, but many find it hard to forget about work. more pressing emails.” But when Mr Brown went on holiday this year he managed not to check his emails at all. He said: “Apposing now has a great studio manager who I trust to take the reins while I recharge my batteries.

“The key to being able to do this is preparation. Good handover notes and sorting pressing matters before you leave, as well as having strong systems in place before you board the plane should leave you free to enjoy your holiday and come back refreshed

without taking your work with you.” Phil Plumb, a Wirral-based professional life coach advise against checking emails at all when on holiday. He said “If you’re self employed you need to put space in your diary for a break and let clients know.”

Meanwhile, as the great summer getaway begins, research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found many managers plan to forgo their holiday this year to avoid falling behind in their work. CMI’s latest survey of managers has found only half have booked a summer holiday, while 35% are putting the brakes on their annual holiday plans. Workload is the overwhelming reason why, cited by 69% of those who say they won’t use up their leave. Even for those who do get away, most still plan to do some work. Only one third say they will “never” check email on holiday.

past business – nostalgia

Royal approval the icing on the half-ton cake for baking specialist

In 1994, Renshaw made a cake for the Duke of Kent – as shown off by production director Fred Connolly, Gwen Drury, left, and Jayne Frost

AS you’ll have read on the previous pages, Liverpool firm Renshaw wowed Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at the Coronation Festival with their cake decorating demonstrations and crown-shaped cakes. And it seems this isn’t the first time Renshaw has wowed Royals and dignitaries with its cake decorating prowess. In 1950, the year Renshaw won its first Royal Warrant, its New Zealand sales agents asked the company to create a cake to mark 100 years since the official arrival of British settlers in the Canterbury region. If they hoped for something impressive, they certainly got it – the finished Canterbury Centennial cake, baked and decorated by Jimmy Austin, was a four-tier monster that weighed almost half a ton. It was decorated with scenes from the settlers’ lives, and topped with an icing sculpture of a settler family. In late September 1950, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sir William Joseph Jordan, visited Renshaw’s south London factory to examine the cake.

In the picture to the right, Sir William looks somewhat worried. The chances are it wasn’t the cake itself that concerned him, but the six-week sea voyage to New Zealand that still lay ahead of it. Thankfully for the High Commissioner and for designer Mr Austin, it arrived in perfect condition. In 1994, another generation of Renshaw designers got to show off their skills when the company’s Liverpool headquarters was visited by the Duke of Kent. The Duke, then vice-chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, was visiting to open Renshaw’s new £14m “cake coverings” plant. So Renshaw’s team created a cake painted with “edible watercolour pictures of the waterfront and cathedrals”. The cake was also a celebration of Renshaw’s 1990 decision to move all production to Liverpool. As the company’s continued Royal Warrant success shows, that move to the Mer- New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sir William Joseph Jordan, centre, gazes at the half-ton Canterbury sey is still paying dividends. ALISTAIR HOUGHTON

Centennial cake with designer Jimmy Austin, left, and Renshaw’s managing director, Alick Renshaw


22 post business end piece

Thursday, July 18, 2013

trading gossip

LIVERPOOL POST BUSINESS LUNCH DIRECTORY

Call the brasserie 0151 299 5000 to book and quote ‘The Daily Post’.

£10 full £10 full rodizio rodizio lunch lunch between 4pm, and4pm, noonand 12noon between 12 Monday Monday to to Friday. Friday.Terms Terms apply. Conditionsapply. and Conditions and

Malmaison Extra Extra! Find out what Sundays are really about with the delicious 4 course Sunday Brunch menu at Malmaison. Including our renowned hors d’oeuvre buffet, eggs and pancake station, the incredible Mal Roast and a delicious selection of desserts from £19.95 or £7.95 for children under 12. William Jessop Way Princes Dock, Liverpool, L3 0BG

Brazil Viva Brasil Viva Viva Brazil restaurant award-winning Viva Theaward-winning The restaurant situatedin in the the heart heart of the isissituated the business business districtin inLiverpool’s Liverpool’s Castle Castle Street. Street.ItIt district firmfavourite favourite for for business business lunches lunches isisaafirm and efficient efficient service. fast and providingfast With service.With providing menutotosuit suit all all tastes, tastes, including more includingmore aamenu than15 15cuts cuts of of meat meat and and 20 you salads, you 20 salads, than areguaranteed guaranteed not not to to go are go hungry. hungry. LiverpoolRestaurant: Restaurant: 36 Castle Castle Street, Street, Liverpool 0NR Tel: 0151 236 L2 0NR Liverpool.L2 Liverpool. 236 8080 8080 www.vivabrazilrestaurants.com www.vivabrazilrestaurants.com Radisson Blu Radisson Blu Hotel Liverpool launches brand new Lightning Lunch menu. Indulge in a main course and a drink for just £6.95. Best of all is the guarantee: if the meal has not been served within 15 minutes, it is completely free!

Lightning Lunch Offer £6.95 per person

Radisson Blu Hotel Liverpool Tel, 0151 966 1500 Email: info.liverpool@radissonblu.com 107 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9BD

CROWNE PLAZA Princes Dock Pier Head T: +44 (0) 151 243 8000 enquiries@cpliverpool.com

CROWN PLAZA BRASSERIE Our Chef and his team have a passion for food and offer a wide variety of dishes that draw on modern international flavours and ingredients. The Hotel Restaurant is very stylish and recently refurbished. Bar Lounge serving a mouth-watering range of food, speciality coffees and teas and a huge variety of cocktails, wines and beers, the lounge provides a stylish, comfortable environment in which to do business or simply to relax

Blakes Restaurant

Enquiries/Reservations, Calling please call: 151 +44 (0) 90252121. 376243 0871

Thistle Liverpool CitytoCentre Blakes Restaurant is open residents the ideal Bar & Restaurant Vista The and non-residents alike andiscreates the perfect setting for agathering. romantic dinner location for any for 2 or parties of up to 22 guests rightthe Displaying spectacular views over Liverpool. the centre River in Mersey andofLiver Building, Following our entry into the Good Food the restaurant offers a wide Guide 2010 as Liverpool’s top City Centre choice of dishes to suit all palates. restaurant, advance reservations are advisable Your experience here will be an to avoid disappointment and can be made by unforgettable one emailingblakes@harddaysnighthotel.com

marco pierre white please call call steakhouse 0111 559 0151 Tel:Tel: 0151 559 0111

Hotel Indigo Hotel Indigo in Minutes - Express Lunch Menu Marco Marco in Minutes - Express Lunch Menu Time may be of theessence essence Time may be of the butbut have youhave meanyou that thatshouldn’t shouldn’t mean to to new With compromise compromiseon on quality. quality. With thethe new Express youcan can feast ExpressLunch Lunch Menu, Menu, you feast on on freshest thefreshest usingthe finest thethe of of cuisine using finestcuisine ingredients, havetime time meet meet to to still have and still ingredients,and all all those Withtwo two courses thosedeadlines! deadlines! With courses forfor £10 mealand anda a drink £10ororaamain main meal drink for for - just with little menu with £10 £10 It’sIt’sa amenu littlefuss fuss - just who those for food simple honest, good, good, honest, simple food for those who little time very little havevery have timetotostop. stop.

To promote your location please email : neil.johnson@trinitymirror.com

IF WE ever wake up to find a stagger of zombies adorned with mayoral chains shuffling through our fair city, then we may well have DoES Liverpool to blame. The hi-tech workspace, which hosts treasures including a Twitter-connected bubble-blowing

machine and a clock that tells you where someone is, marked its second birthday last week. Lord Mayor Gary Millar, the hardest-working mayor in showbiz, gave a speech taking in his own software career and his delight at being invited to the bash. He smiled: “I’ll be back for the third, the fourth and the tenth anniversaries – although I might be dead by then.” And without missing a beat, DoES co-founder Adrian McEwen added: “We’re working on that technology too”.

The Lord Mayor addresses DoES Liverpool

Spreading happiness with city’s Brouhaha myday off Amanda Baptista is an interior designer who works on the fabulous carnival costumes for the parade

I

STARTED as a volunteer with Brouhaha in 2010 – and I haven’t looked back since. I’d followed the carnival parade through the streets of Liverpool for years and always looked forward to Summer and seeing all the happy smiling faces from those taking part to the crowds just watching. It’s always been such a family-oriented event and the whole set up inspired me to get involved. When I did, I learnt behind the scenes about Brouhaha’s drive to increase awareness of diversity of the many different cultures of the city that are not represented all over Merseyside. Brouhaha has brought so many communities together and I wanted to be part of it. It made sense, as a designer, for me to help on the practical side of things, so I began contributing to the thousands of costumes that are prepared for Carnival every year. I’ve built a career in mostly interior, but also industrial, design so I’m very comfortable in working with many different textiles and fabrics. I design lights, wall hangings, garden exhibitions and a whole host of other interiors-oriented commissions. Now in my third year, I’ve somehow become both organiser and a designer of costumes with a large team around me who we have loads of fun with. It’s such rewarding work. Although I admit we do chat a lot, the work we do in putting the costumes together is incredibly meticulous so there are bouts of silence but not many. We also repair a number of costumes through the year after they’ve been on their travels. Brouhaha has been exporting its very own brand of Carnival all over the world in recent years and has just returned from trips to Morocco and

Interior designer Amanda Baptiste who lends her creative talents to designing for the spectacular Brouhaha festival Amsterdam, so there’s a bit of snagging to do to tidy up some of the outfits. The crew are off to Edinburgh next and in between making sure everything is ready from our side, I’m also involved in workshops across Merseyside that introduce the work of Brouhaha to community groups that haven’t previously been involved who will be parading come Carnival day. The international groups drawn from four continents arrive 10 days before Carnival, which is on Saturday, July 27th, this year. They’ll be expecting the mix of Africa, European, Asian and Americas costumes to be sorted when they land and they will be. We’ve got around 35 costumes to complete, but that’s nothing compared

to how many we’ve already made. I know I’m really lucky to be involved with Brouhaha. There’s such a big, happy vibe here and you see the same when Brouhaha parades through the city centre like it did for light night. There were so many happy families and faces in the crowds just from watching huge puppets Soca their way through Church Street. It’s easy to forget how such simple things can make people happy and bring them together. It works for me, too. What a great way to spend my days off. Dressing people in beautiful, vibrant patterns and lighting up people’s eyes and days . . . everybody looking lovely and feeling good.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

end piece

post business

23

networking

Jalons in Smithdown Road

Doing epic stuff

HI-TECH workspace DoES Liverpool celebrated its second anniversary on Friday with a visit from Lord Mayor Gary Millar. The centre is home to several pioneers working on “Internet of

Things” technology – including Adrian McEwen, pictured left with the Lord Mayor. The event also saw a tower building competition for adults and children, above, organised by Future Makers.

Legends podcasting LIVERPOOL FC legends, headed by the Former Players Association chairman Jan Molby, joined up last week at Gusto Heswall to produce a Podcast for the followers of the growing social media group 5Times.

The association has committed to producing a weekly podcast. Pictured right, Jason McAteer, Alan Garner (general manager, Gusto), Laura-Jane Hall (Gusto), Jan Molby and Robbie Fowler

Marco’s goes Italian The official relaunch of Marco Pierre White’s Hoylake restaurant took place last week. The top chef has re-branded his Frankie’s Bar & Grill restaurant, in the

business diary THURSDAY, JULY 18

LIVERPOOL Professionals Dinner Club is hosting one of its informal and professional networking social occasions at the Pier Head’s Matou Pan Asian Restaurant, from 6pm, with dinner served at 7pm. Tickets are priced at £38+VAT. The events are billed as “no catch, no boring speeches, just great food, great people and great venues and a bit of fun with a free prize draw. This club provides a social platform to build, create and maintain professional business relationships in premier locations in the

city of Liverpool”. Book at: http://www.document direct.co.uk/about-us/ liverpool-professionalsdinner-club/

FRIDAY, JULY 19

‘NETWORKING in the City’, specialists in the property, finance and construction sectors, is holding its monthly Chester Curry Club business lunch, with guest speaker David Maddock, director of Integrated Health and Safety. Mr Maddock will focus on construction design and management regulations and the proposed amendments due in 2014, which

will impact developers and designers significantly during design phases. Chester Curry Club is the third Friday in the month at the Siam Thai and TeppanYaki Restaurant, at 32 City Road, Chester, from 12.30pm. The lunch costs £20 and places can be booked online at www. networkinginthecity.co.uk

FRIDAY, JULY 19

THE latest Brand Ubiquity networking event, entitled ‘Meals on Heels’ Ladies Luncheon, is in support of the vision4children charity and takes place at Pruno, 256 Woolton Road, Liverpool, from 12pm for a 12.30pm start. Tickets are £20 and are available

Holiday Inn Express Hotel, as Marco’s New York Italian. The re-launch follows a 12-month branding exercise Pictured left, Chris Mcheina and James Topping at the launch of the restaurant.

from hazel@vision4 children.org.uk or on 0151252 5137 or 0751 5899952.

SATURDAY, JULY 20

THE Emigration Group is staging a Migration and Employment Seminar at Liverpool’s Radisson Blu Hotel, in Old Hall Street, offering information about the thousands of job opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. Migration experts will be on hand to offer advice on emigrating ‘down under’. Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance – they cost £15 for one person or £25 per couple. To book your place call 01244 3211414 or visit www. emigrationgroup.co.uk

MONDAY, JULY 22

my favourite lunch Katrina Smith, of Pearl Boutique fashion store Q What is your favourite lunch venue? A My favourite lunch venue has to be Jalons Restaurant in Smithdown Road, Liverpool. I love this venue and I have been eating here since I was a young child. They make you feel so welcome and at home and the food is always delicious. Of a weekend, they have a singer on who sings the classics and you see all the diners join in, which is very warming to watch. Q What is your favourite dish and why? A My favourite dish is the sizzling king prawns cooked in chilli and garlic. When they switch the menu, I still have to ask the chef to make me these, which he never declines to do. Q What is the best bit of business you have done over lunch? A Choosing our most recent brand, Tempest. This is a new and exciting brand and we have exclusivity to this in the shop. I’ve had customers from as far away as Switzerland order this brand and it is affordable without compromising on style or quality.

THE Employability and Skills Group (ESG) of companies is holding a series of open days at its Liverpool operation in Bold Street. It invites schools and pupils, parents, teachers, heads of departments and careers advisors, training providers, job centres, community agencies, and employers to its informal events, from 10am to 4pm, on the second floor of Link 19 in Bold Street’s Central Village. Refreshments are included. It says the open days provide a chance to find out how ESG staff can help individuals to obtain full time jobs via the apprenticeship programme. For further

Katrina Smith Q Who would you most like to have lunch with? A That would have to be Marilyn Monroe, an iconic woman with great shoes. I would love to style her with new fashion while keeping the old Hollywood glamour. Q Where else do you like to go for lunch? A I love City Wine Bar on Old Hall Street. I often pop into there for lunch and get the fish finger butties. It’s cosy and the service is quick but not compromised when you are on your lunch.

details contact Jules Westbrook or Pauline O’Brien on 0151-702 6111.

MONDAY, JULY 22

AN apprenticeship open day is being held at St Helens Chamber of Commerce’s Salisbury Street premises aimed at those between 16-24-years-of-age and looking for work. Between 10am and 1pm the chamber event will provide details of a wide range of apprenticeship vacancies that are available now with local businesses. These are all permanent, paid jobs with full training leading to nationally recognised qualifications. However, the chamber points out that apprenticeship positions

are not suitable for people with level 4 qualifications or higher. For full details of these vacancies, together with a range of other vacancies, anyone interested is advised to attend this latest apprenticeship open day event. To book your place please call Lynne on 01744 742018 or email apprenticeships@sthelens chamber.com – please note that the opportunity for online registration is not available for this event. ■ Send your diary events to neil.hodgson @liverpool.com


24

Thursday, July 18, 2013 TRAVEL OFERS

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Flying from Manchester on board ms Olympia Departs 23 December 2013 Join us for an unforgettable Christmas on board well-appointed and friendly ms Olympia, as she cruises from delightful Boppard through the heart of the Rhine Valley, with calls at famous Rüdesheim, picturesque Königswinter and Koblenz, where the Rhine meets the Moselle. With Christmas Eve dinner, a full turkey Christmas lunch and a Christmas Night Party on board, as well as the chance to join in some wonderful optional excursions, this will be a Christmas holiday to remember.

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5 days from £479.00

Cannes & the French Riviera enjoy a marvellous few days of rest, relaxation and exploration in one of the world’s most celebrated playgrounds. Based in captivating Cannes, this wonderful-value six-day escorted holiday includes an excursion to fabled St.Tropez and glittering St.Raphael, and also offers exciting optional tours to elegant Nice, sun-kissed Antibes fabled monte Carlo.

6 days from £479.00

Departs September 2013

Sorrento & The Bay of Naples Join us in one of the mediterranean’s most spectacular corners, where a choice of accommodation in Sorrento or neighbouring Sant’ Agata, and well-priced optional excursions, make this an ever-popular holiday choice..

Departs September to November 2013

8 days from £469.00

Istanbul & the Treasures of Ancient Turkey explore one of the world’s most enthralling cities and discover some of its finest Classical sites on this fascinating escorted tour, which, in addition to istanbul, Troy, Pergamon and ephesus, includes a visit to Gallipoli’s poignant Anzac Cove, a three-night resort-stay and the chance, on an optional excursion, to visit fabled Pamukkale.

Departs September to November 2013 6 days from

£449.00 Seville, Granada & Classic Spain Departs September to November 2013 Discover the colourful magic of the ‘real Spain’ on this escorted holiday to sun-kissed Andalucia.

Price includes Return flights to malaga direct from Liverpool John Lennon or manchetster Airport ● Return airport to hotel transfers ● Five nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at the three-star Las Villas de Antikaria, Antequera (half board and upgrade hotel are available for a supplement) ● Full day excursions to Seville and Granada and the Alhambra Palace ● The services of a Tour manager ●

8 days from

£749.00 Capri, Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast

Departs September to November 2013 Featuring half-board accommodation in Sant’ Agata, this wonderful holiday includes escorted visits to Pompeii and the enchanting Isle of Capri, and a breath-taking drive along the Amalfi Coast.

Price includes ● ●

● ● ● ●

Return flights to Naples from Liverpool John Lennen or manchester Airport Seven nights’ half-board accommodation at the three-star Hotel delle Palme, Sant’ Agata (upgrades available for a supplement) escorted excursions to Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast Coach travel and transfers One suitcase allowance per person The services of a Tour manager

www.newmarket.travel/lpe

8 days from £749.00

Prague, Budapest & Vienna This wonderful escorted holiday offers opportunities to discover and explore a trio of europe’s finest cities and the delightful countryside that surrounds them. in addition to time spent in the breath-taking Bohemian capital of the Czech Republic, the beautiful ‘Pearl of the danube’ and the great imperial capital of the Hapsburg empire, the holiday also includes a visit to the striking Slovakian capital Bratislava, on the River danube.

Departs August & October 2013

8 days from £639.00

For your FREE brochures, send completed coupon to: Newmarket Promotions Ltd, FREEPOST KT2720, Worcester Park, KT4 8BR (NO STAmP RequiRed). Tick brochure(s) required: Christmas Rhine Fly Cruise - RFU Seville Granada Classic Spain - SHL Capri Pompeii Amalfi Coast - ODM Swiss Alpine Glories - GIR Nice Monte Carlo & Provence - NHN Berlin Colditz & Dresden - BYW Cannes & French Riviera - FRN Sorrento Naples - ORP Istanbul & Ancient Turkey - IEC Prague Vienna & Budapest - PVW

LPE Name Address Postcode

Tel

email

0151 559 1590 quoting code LPE

These holidays are organised & operated by Newmarket Promotions/Air Holidays Ltd. ABTA V787X/V7812. ATOL protected 2325. Subject to availability. Single supplement applies. Calls cost 4p per minute.


Post Business - 18th July 2013