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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Advertising Feature Accountants: Giving business advice

Are you paying your ‘fair share’ of tax? Stuart Kellner, managing director of Dufton Kellner Ltd, on how important it is to be aware of how much tax we’re paying

J

UST what exactly is a ‘fair share of tax’? It’s a phrase that is hardly out of the news at the moment, but it’s also rather unsatisfactory because it’s so subjective. After all, we might have very differing views as to what percentage of income taken in tax we consider to be fair. Officially the highest income tax rate is currently 45% for those earning over £150,000 per annum. Yet between £100,000 and £118,880 the tax rate is 62%, due to the loss of the personal allowance and the often forgotten National Insurance.

If you were lucky enough to be offered a pay rise which would take you into this bracket, you might want to consider asking your employer for additional holiday instead, or perhaps an increased contribution into your pension. Is this legitimate tax planning, or is it aggressive tax avoidance? No company or individual is obliged to pay more than the law requires; indeed many shareholders (and that includes almost anyone with a pension) would be highly critical of any company board that chose to do so. Ultimately it is not compan-

ies that pay tax; the burden is carried by either the customer through increased prices or the shareholder/pension saver through lower equity returns. In the UK our tax code is among the longest and most complex in the world. Such complexity creates uncertainty, which hampers business and deters entrepreneurship. There have been initiatives such as the creation of the Office of Tax Simplification and the upcoming general anti-abuse rule, but what’s really required is root and branch reform of our tax code to make it simpler which will almost inevitably make it fairer. It is politicians who enact tax law, and it is thus entirely within their power to reform the system to make it as fair as they would like it to be. ■ IF you would like us to review whether you are paying an appropriate rate of tax, then contact us via www.duftonkellner.co.uk or on 0151 342 6405.

The directors of Dufton Kellner, l-r Sara Taylor, Stuart Kellner and Andrew Biddle

Understanding VAT could save you cash

T

WO reports published recently have shown that UK businesses still have a detrimental lack of understanding of Value Added Tax (VAT) which could be leading to significant cash flow and competitive disadvantages. Gemma Gower, VAT manager at Mitchell Charlesworth, outlines how firms are missing out in the VAT recovery stakes, and why more businesses should be challenging VAT penalties and unfavourable decisions: UNDERSTANDING VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT): VAT was introduced in 1973, as a ‘simple tax on the supply of goods and services’. VAT is a sales tax charged on most consumer expenditure in, as well as imports into, the UK. Businesses with a taxable turnover in excess of £79,000 must register for VAT and

Gemma Gower charge VAT on the goods and services they supply. Generally, VAT incurred on goods and services used to make taxable supplies can be

recovered. Unfortunately, the reality is that VAT is not straightforward. VAT is widely accepted as one of the most complex taxes and can be a minefield of ever-changing regulations. A recent survey by Sage found that the combination of a lack of understanding among UK businesses and perceived complexities have led to more than a third of SMEs (36%) failing to claim back VAT to which they are entitled. Of these taxpayers, the research by Sage revealed that more than half (52%) estimate the VAT loss at £500 per year. Businesses can reclaim VAT on items they use to make taxable supplies, such as com-

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puters/laptops, stationery, printer ink, telephone contracts, tea/coffee/biscuits. It must be noted that there are restrictions on VAT recovery for business entertainment, and motor cars, among other things. Fuel, which can often make up a significant proportion of a firm’s costs, is also eligible, even when fuel costs are incurred by, and reimbursed to, staff. This demonstrates why it is vital that businesses develop a deeper understanding of VAT and in particular what can be claimed, in order to maximise VAT recovery and remain on a level playing field with their rivals. CHALLENGING VAT PENALTY DECISIONS: In addition, businesses are reminded that they have the right to, and are urged to, appeal unfavourable HMRC decisions. HMRC is under pressure to

increase revenues for the Treasury, and targeting VAT registered businesses appears to be a popular strategy. Another recent report, published by the tax assurance commissioner, backs up the consensus among advisers that HMRC is being overaggressive in its hunt for VAT evasion and is all too quick to unfairly suggest that businesses have been negligent. The research found that 60% of HMRC VAT penalty cases were cancelled on appeal in 2011/12 (of 30,345 appeals, HMRC’s decision was overturned in 18,317 cases). These statistics should be a refreshing reminder to businesses. However, despite the evidence, too few decisions made by HMRC are challenged. This may be due to confusion about the process, not understanding HMRC’s technical jargon, or businesses being wary of ‘getting a reputation with the VAT Man’.

By way of example, an HMRC decision can be appealed if: you believe that you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for late submission of a VAT return; you disagree with HMRC’s interpretation of the VAT liability of your products or services; or you consider that there are mitigating circumstances relating to a ‘behaviour-based’ penalty. If you are in doubt, seek advice! SEEK EXPERT VAT ADVICE: If you would like VAT recovery advice, or if you have recently received a VAT penalty or surcharge from HMRC, contact Mitchell Charlesworth’s VAT specialist Gemma Gower for more information, and to see whether you have grounds to appeal the decision. Gemma can be contacted on 0151 255 2300 or email her at gemma.gower@mitchell charlesworth.co.uk.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

news

Pay rises among North West small firms a ‘positive move’ MORE than a quarter of businesses in the North West have rewarded their staff pay rises over the past 12 months. Figures from the most recent Close Brothers Business Barometer show that 62% said these increases were in line with inflation, while a further 15% said pay rises were above the inflation rate.

The survey canvasses the opinion of small business owner managers from a variety of sectors across the UK on a range of financial and economic issues. Close Brothers Asset Finance chief executive, Mike Randall, said: “While corporate balance sheets are still being squeezed to the last

penny, it’s encouraging to learn that employees in the North West are beginning to see an increase in their pay packets. “The last few years have been challenging to say the least, hopefully this is a sign that things have begun to pick up,” he added. The Business Barometer

has also revealed that eight per cent of local firms anticipate giving staff a pay rise within the next 12 months. “While this is good news, it is essential that these SMEs are aware of their financial options if they are to safeguard any tentative progress towards recovery,” said Mr Randall.

He said asset finance is one of the fastest growing forms of commercial lending and is an extremely viable option for firms in the North West. “It’s a flexible method of funding ideally suited to businesses who wish to purchase new assets, raise finance for expansion or make other investments.”

LEP and Liverpool Vision sign deal to sell the city worldwide by Helen Davies

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helen.davies01@trinitymirror.com

A “GROUND-BREAKING” agreement has been signed between Liverpool Vision and Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which sees the secondment of 11 staff posts to Marketing Liverpool, the body tasked with promoting the city region to the world. The LEP staff will work for two years with Liverpool Vision’s communications team in delivering a marketing strategy for the city region. The move, agreed in principle in January and officially signed last week, is designed to ensure major global opportunities such as the International Festival for Business 2014 offer maximum economic return for the region. Robert Hough, chairman of Liverpool City Region LEP, said: “What we are creating in effect is a one stop shop for investors, visitors and conference organisers. “This new co-ordinated approach is to fulfil shared aims to grow the sector still further which will benefit the whole city region. “It is a huge positive step forward.” The LEP will retain its overall responsibility for the strategic development of the Place Marketing Strategy, which includes the visitor economy and other key growth sectors, with responsibility for marketing the destination being undertaken by Marketing Liverpool. Marketing Liverpool has been commissioned by the LEP to deliver a range of activities to promote the city region with Liverpool as the agreed ‘attack’ brand. The functions to be delivered under the agreement include: ■ Management of the Visit Liverpool website and associated activity ■ Overseas and domestic marketing ■ Liverpool Convention Bureau activity The agreement comes in the wake of the LEP securing an additional sum of £2.15m earlier this month from the European Regional Development Fund

MERSEYSIDE Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) has signed a five-year deal for its finance, procurement, HR and payroll solutions to be hosted and delivered by managed services provider, Advanced 365. Hosting of the service’s finance and procurement applications will go live next month, followed by HR and payroll over the coming months. MF&RS serves a population of 1.5 million and employs 850 fire-fighters and 350 back-office staff across 35 sites. The service has already made significant savings using Advanced Business Solutions, a partner division of Advanced 365, finance and procurement software over the past five years. The managed service contract will cover 24/7 infrastructure support, a dedicated service desk manned 8.30am6pm, and a full disaster recovery solution. MF&RS selected Cobham-based Advanced 365 following a tendering process, which involved more than five managed services providers. Mike Davies, MF&RS project manager, said: “We were looking for a one-stop solution across accounting software, HR and payroll, including the hosted service. The Fire authority must make £10m worth of savings over the next two years and there is a lot of pressure on back-office functions.”

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Liverpool Vision’s Max Steinberg and Robert Hough from the LEP to boost the visitor economy, part of which has been allocated to the development of the Place Marketing Strategy. Max Steinberg, chief executive of Liverpool Vision, said: “The LEP team has both knowledge and experience of successful destination marketing and has delivered international and national campaigns across a range of media and combined with the expert-

ise at Liverpool Vision means that we will now deliver a greater impact. “Marketing Liverpool can now press ahead to ensure close and meaningful integration between the city region’s economic development, cultural and marketing teams to deliver major projects, events and initiatives as well as a common vision.” Jeanette Kehoe-Perkinson, chair of the LEP’s Management Implementa-

one every 6-7 minutes. Founder Andrew Dwerryhouse said requirements ranged from a simple branded USB to the new innovative Chalk Board Mugs. He said: “This show has now become the largest

industry promotional merchandise showcase in Europe, so as the biggest supplier of promotional merchandise on Merseyside it’s a must we attend if we want to meet the world’s top brands and gain growth outside our region.”

tion Group, said: “This agreement has acknowledged the need for a broad city region marketing strategy to eliminate the duplication of effort that has existed for too long, and to create one ‘go to’ regional marketing body which will end stakeholder confusion. “Crucially, it gives Marketing Liverpool the resources and a mandate to think big and match the scale of our ambition.”

A revolution in the way business people get their news

Workloads rise THE North West construction sector seems to be turning a corner with new projects beginning to rise once again, says the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) construction market survey. In the second quarter a net balance of 20% more surveyors reported rises in workloads, the most positive reading in over seven years.

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Fire service in five-year back office contract

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Wild Thang impresses in London BOOTLE promotional goods manufacturer Wild Thang reported its third successful visit to the Marketing Week Live Exhibition at the London Olympia last month. The firm took more than 250 enquiries, which equtes to

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Bill Gleeson Will we be able to say Britain is at last out of the trough? IT’S A big day today. Economists, business owners and managers and many of the rest of us will be keeping an eye on this morning’s missives from the Office for National Statistics. Forecasters up and down the country, and some based overseas, expect the first estimates for first quarter economic growth to be good news. Whatever the figure is, it will be preceded by a plus sign. The question is what will we be able to read into the figure about the sustainability of the recovery? After all, we have had a few ups and downs over the last few years when one quarter’s good news has been followed by another quarter’s bad news. Since 2009, the UK has in effect been bumping along the bottom of a prolonged trough. If today’s figures are strong enough, we may feel able to say that Britain is at long last pulling out of the trough. Of course, it will take more than a couple of quarters of good figures to be certain about that. Britain had a whole year of growth in 2010, albeit slight, only for the economy to dip back into recession the following year. The fact remains most informed forecasters are saying this is the muchawaited recovery. Indeed, some, such as Capital Economics, believe recovery could eventually turn out to be stronger than previously predicted, with growth rates reaching 4% by 2016/17. There have been times in the not so distant past when the outlook has appeared very grim. The eurozone crisis had everybody fearing financial and economic meltdown that could have knocked another 10% off UK GDP. Fortunately, it never happened. However, the economic slowdown since the start of the financial crisis in autumn 2008 has cost Britons about 15% in lost economic output compared to where we would be had the economy continued to grow at its underlying trend rate of about 2.5%. It has also cost many people their jobs and even those who have managed to hold on to a job have seen their

take home pay fall significantly as a result of pay freezes, pay cuts lay-offs or part time working. Others have seen their business fold. The return to growth, however, is inevitable. Technological developments will combine with population growth to both ensure and require growth. YOU would have thought there is huge demand for car parking in Liverpool city centre. So it makes it all the more puzzling why an apparently fully constructed and ready to open car park in the Central Village development has kept its doors firmly shut for the past eight months. Could it be there is a land ownership dispute, or perhaps a disagreement over the cost of construction? Another possibility is that the operator has got cold feet, believing there isn’t such a margin to be made as previously thought after Liverpool City Council reduced parking charges in the nearby Mount Pleasant multi-storey car park. You have to credit Merepark for their boldness. They have continued with the development of Central Village at a time when everybody else ran for shelter from the economic headwinds. What is clear is that some type of dispute is holding things back. The episode with the car park, combined with the fact Merepark’s construction arm has gone bust, points to some surprising undercurrents in the development of what should be a prime enough area behind Central Station. IT WAS interesting to hear Bishop James Jones’ views, aired on BBC Radio 4 this week, about the ethical failures that underpinned the financial crisis. In a programme called The Bishop and the Bankers, the soon-to-be retired Bishop of Liverpool argued that the world’s investment bankers had become detached and remote from the harmful consequences of their actions. He is, of course, right. Humanity is often overlooked when money enters the equation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Are shoppers Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Britain’s struggling retailers? Bill Gleeson reports

John Lewis says sunbathers need tempting back into its stores

R

ETAIL leaders in Liverpool have welcomed news that shop sales in Britain were showing signs of sustained recovery, saying there was some evidence of the improvement being felt in Liverpool city centre. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that department store discounts had driven another rise in retail sales volumes in June, boosting hopes for overall growth figures due out this morning. The 0.2% month-on-month increase builds on a 2.1% rise in May – the first run of back-to-back growth in a year. It translates to growth in the sector of 0.9% over the second quarter, a rise that will push up overall gross domestic product by 0.1%. Ged Gibbons, chief operating officer of Liverpool City Central Business Improvement District, said: “The footfall is fantastic at the moment. “I have made a point of walking out in the last few days. The children are not off school yet, but town is busy every day. “Last year we had an awful time of it. “The next footfall figures are going to look sensational compared to last year when it rained all the time. “I have heard that footfall at St John’s is up and it’s down to just a handful of voids [empty shops].” The increase in retail should contribute to a widely expected second three-month period of GDP growth for the economy as hopes of a continued recovery rise. The figures are due to be published this morning. Supermarkets were hit as food store sales volumes fell slightly by 0.1% in June, while non-food sales grew 0.6%. The largest contribution came from department stores, which saw a 3% increase, their strongest rise since March last year. Statisticians said it was driven by discounting and clearance sales. There was also a 0.6% rise in household goods sales although the textile, clothing and footwear sector slumped by 0.3%. The month saw weekly spending across all retail sectors reach £6.9bn, up from £6.8bn in May. Year-on-year, all retailing was up 2.2%, including a 5.3% rise from department stores but a 0.4% drop in food stores and a 2.1% fall in household goods retailers. The figures are closely watched because the retail industry accounts for 5.7% of the economy. Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “The fact is that how much consumers spend remains critical for growth – despite the aspirations for the economy to become less dependent on the consumer and more balanced with greater contributions from investment and exports.'' Martin Beck of Capital Economics said there was growing evidence that a consumer-led recovery was under way – though the squeeze on incomes amid inflation that has now reached 2.9% remained a worry. “While on the face of it, a monthly expansion in volumes of 0.2% in June looks like a fairly weak result in isolation, this is a decent out-turn after the hefty 2.1% rise seen in May,” he said.

“Admittedly, with real incomes continuing to fall, the sustainability of a consumer revival remains in doubt. But, for now, retailers will no doubt be happy to make hay while the sun shines.” Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte, said: “Today’s figures will provide retailers with confidence. “Last June’s strong sales were boosted by the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, making this strong year-on-year increase all the more impressive. “The weather will have lifted consumers’ spirits and willingness to spend, as will a recent series of positive economic indicators including increased housing activity, stable inflation and a small rise in lending.” Peter Saville, partner at advisory and restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, said: “The sun is certainly shining on the UK high street. “Retailers have reacted well to the warm weather by discounting products and offering good value to their customers as the retail recovery gains momentum. Retailers need to make sure they capitalise on this warm weather so

‘The footfall is fantastic at the moment’

that they can thrive well beyond the current heatwave.” Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said while there were wide variations in the fortunes of individual retailers, the figures showed further evidence of recovery. “Promotional activity has been strong and customers can find some great deals in the shops at the moment. As the good weather continues across the country, retailers will be hopeful that customers continue to take advantage of the offers that are available.” One local retailer that has been patiently biding its time awaiting the recovery is Shop Direct. It has invested in the technology platform and other infrastructure needed to turn itself into an online retailer, but has run up big cumulative losses in the process. The Speke-based group has recently been briefing retail analysts and journalists about its latest plans to capitalise on the huge amount of data it stores about its customers. It wants to “personalise” its sales and marketing methods. Verdict Retail analyst Patrick O’Brien was one of the analysts briefed by Shop Direct. He said: “Littlewoods and Kaye & Co’s revenues were down 7% in the year


Thursday, July 25, 2013

big feature post business

beginning to spend?

Liverpool City Central BID’s chief executive Ged Gibbons

Could the recent heatwave have caused a temporary dip in the high street recovery? to June, while Isme and Very are up by an aggregate 18%. “Overall sales over the last three years are flat, which for an online retailer seems tragic, but they are, in fact, very different to a pure play (online only) like Amazon or eBay online.” He said another big difference between Shop Direct and other retailers is most of Shop Direct’s customers buy on credit. “They are a credit-fuelled business, but then you look at the likes of N Brown and you have to ask why have they done so well?” “Due to their risk management and credit checks, Shop Direct has much more information on customers than many others will have and they have not utilised that data as much as they should have done. “It might sound an easy thing to do, but there are huge swathes of data and so its not an easy thing to do. “It includes personalising the home page. When you register, it will know what you have bought and what size you are and suggest what you might want to buy. “It’s about how they connect with you

via e-mail and social media, so it’s about understanding you as a customer rather than the scatter promotions you sometimes see from retailers.” To some degree, it’s similar to what Amazon already does with book buyers when it sends out messages telling you what others with your reading interests have bought. However, according to Mr O’Brien, Shop Direct is thinking about further extending the idea. Mr O’Brien said: “They will want to get your permission to search what you are doing on other sites. For example, they could know you have been looking for a pink cardigan elsewhere, and so when you get to Shop Direct’s website the first thing you see is a pink cardigan. “It can work for them. These things are costly and difficult to implement, but if done correctly can add value. Personalisation is not the be all and end all but one of the things they need to do.” Pointing to the example of Amazon, Mr O’Brien said: “They have built it up from the recommendations engines they have been using for years. They have been improving their algorithms all the time.”

‘How much shoppers spend is critical’

ACCORDING to John Lewis’ latest figures, the good weather has kept the high street quiet, except when it comes to hot weather-related items such as barbecue equipment and food. Total sales at John Lewis fell 8.7% in the week to Friday, July 13. However, cumulative sales for the first 24 weeks of the year are up 6.7%, in line with the positive sentiment seen in the Office for National Statistics’ figures for retail sales in June published last week. John Lewis’ Liverpool One store saw a hot weatherrelated decline of 19.5% in sales in week 24 compared to the same week in 2012. However, the store has seen a 5% rise in overall sales so far this year. The chain’s Trafford Centre branch fell 24.4% while the Chester branch fell 22.5%. However, cumulative sales at these two branches rose 6.6% and 6.9% respectively. In a statement, the company blamed the fall in sales on both the “festival of sport” and the heatwave. It said: “In

terms of assortment, all three buying directorates saw decreases on last year with the only high spots being those assortments that sell in the sunshine. The statement concluded: “The beautiful weather is set to continue, offering our customers many temptations outside. We will, therefore, need to work hard to tempt customers online or in to store, and once there to wow them with our fabulous products and knowledgeable service.” When analysed by department, John Lewis’ figures show that fashion was down by 7.3% in week 24 but cumulative sales were up 4.3%, electricals and home technology was down 3.6% but up 15.8% cumulatively. Nevertheless, shops saw a sudden demand for hot weather related goods. Sales of parasols boomed with John Lewis seeing a 10-fold increase in demand compared to the same time last year. Sales of fans and portable air conditioners, increased by 20-fold, while

demand for paddling pools more than doubled. Shoppers also snapped up table and picnicware, including cool bags and hampers, with sales up by 75%. This July, John Lewis sold more sun cream than ever before, while sunglasses (up 347%), sandals (up 91%) and men’s shorts (up 138%) also benefited from the heatwave. Shoppers also chose to take advantage of their own outdoor spaces, with sales of garden furniture more than doubling and demand for deckchairs increasing more than threefold compared to 2012’s cloudy July. Dan Cooke, managing director for John Lewis Liverpool said: “Last July was the coldest for 100 years, so this year’s hottest is a complete turnaround. We’ve seen customers embrace the warm weather by jumping at the chance to dine outdoors. In Britain you never know when your next chance to get out in the sun might be, so it’s important to make the best of the weather while it lasts.”

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

post business wealth management IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Energy – a forgotten sector overlooked by investors? market analysis

by Derek Gawne

LIVERPOOL OFFICE OF CHARLES STANLEY UK ENERGY production is in the headlines with the proposed tax cut for shale gas firms and the use of the controversial fracking technique. The government’s plans would make the UK the most generous tax regime for shale gas production in the world. The UK government is pinning great hopes on benefiting from possible large resources of shale gas. The much-hyped US shale gas glut is ending, while emerging economy gas demand is exploding. China’s natural gas demand is growing at 16% pa. The seven-year growth in US production from fracking was absorbed initially until, in late 2011, supply overwhelmed demand. The industry reacted in classic fashion: the gas rig count has more than halved and electric utilities switched from coal to gas. This will rebalance the market. The only issue is timing, and the signs are good: 2012’s huge storage overhang has now disappeared. Elsewhere, natural gas prices have remained firm – 3x the US price in the UK and 5x in Japan. China has grown its gas consumption by 17% pa since 2000. Its gas consumption is 20% of the

Derek Gawne

US, but it consumes 3.6x the amount of coal. It shows every sign of growing its gas demand 4x in the next ten years. As one of the cheapest sectors in the MSCI World index, energy could be ripe for a re-rating and may merit a closer look for global equity investors. The global oil market is relatively balanced. Under the surface, emerging economy demand is growing powerfully, driven by accelerating demand for motor vehicles as four billion people move into the ‘buying’ income strata. Emerging economy oil demand should grow each year offset by marginal OECD demand decline. There is an impression shale oil will meet this demand growth and more. This is misplaced over-enthusiasm, however. Shale is just like the development of the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea and Alaska in the 1980s after the 1970s price hike. But with one difference: oil demand from the OECD economies had exploded from 1950 to 1973. They were ending a 25-year journey adopting the motorcar; impetus faded and demand naturally corrected as prices jumped. Now it is a different era however. China’s demand for oil per capita has not even reached that of the OECD in 1950. There are 20 years of unrelenting oil demand growth to come while China’s vehicle fleet moves from 100m now to 400m by 2030, with India and others following behind. Looking ten years forward, there will be muted supply growth. Any imbalances will be met by OPEC adjusting their production. Will Riley, co-manager of the Guinness Global Energy fund believes that energy equities have underperformed because these factors are misunderstood. On traditional metrics of P/E, price-to discounted cashflow or enterprise value to reserves, many energy companies are at historically low levels. The 2012 P/E ratio of his fund at 31 May is 10.2x versus 16.8x for the S&P 500. The dislocation over the past 24 months between the oil price and energy valuations is striking and suggests investors should not overlook the undervalued opportunities in the sector.

the symptoms but would not cure the underlying disease”. It said: “To do this requires a cultural shift by the industry, in order to restore trust and ensure that firms are truly ‘treating customers fairly’.” The panel urged firms to show in clear cash terms any price increase when a customer’s policy is automatically renewed and remind them “in good time” they can shop around for a better deal. It said previous research has suggested insurers are “exploiting” consumers’ inertia by ramping up

FAMILY spending power remained unchanged year-on-year last month - because of rising inflation and persistently weak wage growth, according to new figures. The average UK family had £160 of weekly disposable income available to them in June, up by £5 a week from the same month two years ago, but remaining well below its peak of £165 seen in February 2010, says the latest Asda Income Tracker. A key factor behind the stagnation in discretionary spending power was a weak increase in the average UK wage, with average pay excluding bonuses up just 1% in the three months to May. This was a third of the rate of essential item inflation (3%).

The shale gas drilling site on Marsh Road,Banks,Southport

‘Cultural shift’ about insurance urged INSURANCE firms must undergo a “cultural shift” and be more upfront about costs to restore trust in the industry, a consumer watchdog has surged. The Financial Services Consumer Panel unveiled a list of challenges it said the industry should tackle to ensure that customers are being treated fairly. The panel is a statutory body which advises regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on consumers’ concerns. Its report said addressing the issues “one by one might alleviate

notes

renewal premiums beyond that warranted by any additional risk. Households typically spend £822 a year on general insurance products and just under one third of drivers are estimated to have stuck with the same insurer for more than three years. Firms should also be clearer about when cover which might be considered “standard” in a policy is not included, the panel said. They found policies tend to be promoted on “headline price”, with little other information about what is included and left out.

HOUSEHOLDS are the least downbeat about their finances in at least four-and-a-half years amid signs that house prices are back on the increase and workplace conditions are improving, a report has found. Just over one quarter (26%) of people said their budgets worsened in July, while nearly one in 10 (9%) saw an improvement, according to financial information company Markit. An overall reading of 41.5 for this month indicated the strongest household sentiment seen since the survey started in February 2009. Readings above 50 indicate that families’ finances are improving and those below this level show a deterioration. While the overall reading is still a negative one, improvements have been recorded in four out of the last five months.

Raided to top up savings WOMEN are more likely to have raided their savings over the last three months to top up their summer spending budget than men, a study has found. Almost two-fifths of women (37%) said they had plundered their accounts, compared with less than one in three (32%) men, according to research by Halifax. Holidays topped the list of specific goals people were saving towards, followed by adding to their retirement fund or saving for a deposit to buy a house.

However, extra holiday costs were also blamed as the most common reason why people had to unexpectedly dip into their funds. In every region across Britain apart from London, savers have taken out more cash than they put in over the last three months. In the North West 78%of people had saved in the last three months, with £490.03 being the average amount saved. Meanwhile 42% had raided their savings to an average of £1,466.97.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

news

Wirral Grammar School team scores with Vauxhall success PUPILS from Wirral Grammar School for Boys were presented with a signed England football shirt after their success in a Manufacturing Activity Day. The competition offered 16 North West schools a chance to learn about manufacturing through a series of tests, culminating in a business venture. Wirral’s Year 10 achieved the highest profit per person, at £8,765, in the competition. Last week a group of undergraduates from the Cheshire plant of Vauxhall, which sponsors the football teams of the UK’s four home nations, visited the school to present the award. Headteacher David Hazeldine said: “We do a lot to promote and encourage creative and enterprise skills and we are delighted that our team stood out among other competitors.” Peter Harrison, deputy headteacher responsible for enterprise added: “We are very grateful to the staff at Vauxhall Motors for making this project available for our students. “Involving our students working alongside employees from a world class company like Vauxhall Motors gives them invaluable experience that is of real relevance when it comes to preparation for the work place.”

The Year 10 team with Vauxhall undergraduate Jarrod Matthews, back left, and David Hazeldine, back, right

US expert helps city to launch its own Green Partnership by Neil Hodgson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

neil.hodgson@liverpool.com

A US pioneer of low-carbon economies is helping Liverpool launch its Green Partnership today. The initiative hopes to emulate cities like Los Angeles, Hamburg, Sydney and New York who are building their future prosperity on a high value/low carbon economic platform. Krista Kline is managing director of LARC (Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability) and is a key speaker at today’s Green Partnership launch at the University of Liverpool’s Foresight Centre. LARC has brought together local government, utilities, universities and other organisations, and the Liverpool Green Partnership already has the

support of the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, regeneration agency Liverpool Vision and the Mayor of Liverpool. Ms Kline said: “It has been particularly important for LARC to involve the business community in our efforts around climate action. “We believe that working to reduce the impact of climate change, as well as preparing for its effects, can only benefit the LA region economically. “Such action towards resiliency not only brings new, clean tech industry and accompanying jobs – which we are seeing in Los Angeles’s new Clean Tech Corridor and Clean Tech Incubator – but also saves local government, and individual businesses and homeowners the extraordinarily high cost of crisis management and recovery. “We’ve seen that it is much less

costly to prepare for climate impacts than to respond to them.” John Flamson, from the University of Liverpool, is co-chair of the Partnership and said: “Successful cities are collaborative cities, working together to make the city the very best it can be, economically, socially and environmentally. “We hope to learn from the experiences of Los Angeles and bring together some of the excellent projects that are already underway in Liverpool.” Bristol was recently announced as the European Green Capital in 2015 and Liverpool has not ruled out bidding for the title in the future. The Partnership will also recommend that the Mayor works with the city region’s leaders to develop new financial models to stimulate growth through sustainable development.

year, offers businesses up to £2,275 for taking on an 18 to 24-year-old who has been out of work for at least six months. The wage incentives, claimed after someone has been in work for six months, have been paid for more than

4,690 young people. Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “Youth unemployment has fallen by 59,000 since the Youth Contract was launched and tens of thousands of people have benefited from work experience, apprenticeships or the wage incentive.

7

Liverpool builder is spreading warmth LIVERPOOL-BASED building contractor, Frank Rogers, has joined forces with the Merseyside Fire Support Network to promote a new UK-wide free boiler replacement programme. Under the national ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme, the Government has enforced a programme of “affordable warmth” to be rolled out by the country’s six leading energy companies. Under the initiative, target groups, including those on pension credit or with an income below £15,860, may be eligible for a free boiler. Already, Frank Rogers has installed some 300 boilers since the scheme was launched just six weeks ago. The company is now fitting an average of 50 boilers a week a figure that is set to increase to 100 a week within the next month. The Frank Rogers/Merseyside Fire Support Network collaboration will help raise awareness of the scheme. Linda Mitchell, chief executive of the Fire Support Network, said: “This initiative needs to pushed out to this eligible across Merseyside. “We work with many different community groups who fit with the established criteria. “We want to introduce the programme to these people, help guide them through the process and introduce our partner installer, Frank Rogers, to carry out and complete the works. “This initiative is about tackling fuel poverty and promoting affordable warmth.”

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Government hails success of its Youth Contract initiative FIRMS have offered more than 21,000 jobs to young people at risk of long-term unemployment under a Government wage incentive scheme, ministers said this week. The measure, part of the Youth Contract launched last

post business

“Through the different elements of the Youth Contract, this Government is delivering on our commitment to offer young people the best chance to get on in life, but we’re not complacent about the scale of the challenge still facing us.” The Department for Work

and Pensions said take-up of the incentive got off to a slow start, but is now on a “clear upwards trajectory”. But TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “It is far too early for the Government to be hailing the Youth Contract a success.”

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

post business the bottom line

Sales rise but margins remain tight at luxury travel operator by Bill Gleeson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

bill.gleeson@liverpool.com

LUXRY tour operator International Travel Connections (ITC) reported sales growth last year, despite difficult economic conditions. Sales for the year to April rose to £39.2m, up from £36.8m the year before. However, profit margins at the Chester-based firm remain weak. Cost of sales were £33.4m, up from £30.9m and gross profit was £5.8m compared to £5.9m. Once administration expenses of £5.1m and a small interest charge are taken into account, pre-tax profit for the year was £746,000 versus £444,000. The balance sheet shows debtors of £9.1m, compared to £8m at the end of 2012. The high level of debtors arose largely from the transfer of property to the parent company in 2009. Recovery of part of this balance will take place over a period of more than one year as its “realisation will be, in part, dependent on future rental flows relating to the property.” Cash at the bank was £4.4m, up from £2.9m. Total net assets were £4.5m, up from £4m. The accounts reveal directors’ remuneration was £162,000, a bit lower than the £174,000 shown the year before. The number of employees rose from 86 to 89. The company won The Liverpool Post’s Employer of the Year award in the paper’s Regional Business Awards 2013. The accounts state: “As we continue to grow, more bookings depart in the following financial year and this year’s growth in generated sales is reflected in a 7% increase in departure sales in the year being reported on and a 45% increase in bookings confirmed within the year but not yet departed.” Referring to business risks, ITC says: “The directors are of the opinion that the only material financial risk the company is exposed to is that of currency fluctuations. The policy of the board is to minimise this risk by matching future currency liabilities against forward currency contracts. At 30 April 2013, the company had outstanding or forward exchange contracts in the sum of £5.6m.” The company adds: “Due to the nature of the business the company is also exposed to geographic and political risks as well as potential natural disasters. These risks are mitigated through the diverse portfolio of products and destinations that the company uses as well as employing a

HOVIS to Ambrosia group Premier Foods announced a 50% increase in trading profits for the six months to June 30, this week. It said full year expectations have been raised to the top end of market consensus on the back of the improvement. The group, which employs around 300 staff at its Manor Bakeries site in Moreton making Cadbury Mini Rolls, private label goods and some Mr Kipling products, saw sales fall 13% to £742.2m in the period after disposals, while pre-tax losses for the continuing operations halved from £45.8m to £23.5m. The underlying trading profit jumped 40% to £47.7m. Premier said it prefers this measure as it reflects the performance of the core business of the company. It said its bread division restructuring plans are ahead of schedule and £20m of cost savings have been delivered, with a further £10m expected in the second half of the financial year.

ITC chief executive Jennifer Atkinson and, inset, Karl Lloyd (left) collects The Liverpool Post’s Employer of the Year Award

specific highly experienced crisis team that operates during such times.” Referring to trading prospects, the company states: “Based on strong current trading and the growth that has been seen in bookings across all areas of the business, the directors expect continued growth in turnover and profitability. “The core strategy remains the same and is focused on being brilliant at the basics whilst growing specific

high margin brands, as well as agency sales to drive attractive and sustainable rates of growth and returns.” The company continues to invest in and develop its websites to drive incremental revenue streams and leads from other sections of the market. In her chief executive’s report Jennifer Atkinson said: “Despite continuing challenging trading conditions we have seen continued growth in both generated and departed sales com-

pared to last year. “As a result, forward bookings at the end of the year are 45% higher than at the end of last year. “Margin continues to be a challenge, especially in the agent side of the business, although margin was maintained on sales. “There has, therefore, been a small margin erosion year-on-year, although it remains ahead of management expectations. “Costs have been well controlled throughout the year, but we continue to invest in the development of our teams to facilitate our continuing growth in addition to investing in marketing and online initiatives. “The directors look forward with great optimism to the new financial year when we expect to continue the growth in our key brands.” She added that ITC hopes to improve even further its national media reputation for being one of the best companies in Britain to work for.

Across the board growth fuels optiimism at vaccine maker SWISS-based pharmaceutical group Novartis said in a statement last week it delivered growth across all divisions in the second quarter. The Basle-based group, which employs around 600 staff at its flu vaccine production site in Speke, said net sales increased 3% compared with the previous year to $14.5bn in the second quarter. Salers were also up 4% to $28.5bn in the first half. Core operating income was $3.8bn,

notes

up 2% in the second quarter and $7.5bn, ahead by 4% in the six months. Looking ahead, the group said the outlook for 2013 has improved, with sales forecasts upgraded to “low-single digit growth” compared to a year ago, while core operating income improved to “low-single digit decline”. Chief executive Joseph Jimenez said: “Novartis delivered a solid second quarter, resulting in a good first half in 2013.

“Successful execution on growth brands allowed us to navigate patent expiries and new competition, while deepening our footprint in emerging growth markets like China and Russia. “Our underlying business showed strong growth behind significant innovation, with sales up 8% and core operating income up 17% in constant currencies in the first half, excluding the impact of generics.” The group’s vaccines and dia-

gnostics division reported net sales in the second quarter of $411m, up 18% and $738m, up 14% for the first half. The division lessened its core operating loss from $90m to $20m in the second quarter, and saw core operating losses for the first half fall from $208m in 2012 to $118m this year. The Speke factory, which under went a £100m refurbishment a few years ago, makes flu vaccines for the NHS and the health sector in the US.

FASHION brand Nicole Farhi has been rescued from administration after it was snapped up by the daughter of Matalan founder John Hargreaves. Maxine Hargreaves-Adams bought the retailer for an undisclosed sum weeks after its collapse, blamed on a slump in high street spending. Following the deal, she said she was delighted to have acquired the “iconic and much-loved British brand”. Last year Hargreaves-Adams acquired Fenn Wright Manson (FWM), another fashion retailer, after it went into administration. FWM has two standalone stores and 31 concessions. Nicole Farhi, the designer, founded her eponymous brand in 1982 with then-partner, French Connection boss Stephen Marks. Farhi is now married to playwright Sir David Hare. The business changed hands several times, and collapsed earlier this month under “increased financial pressures”. Ms HargreavesAdams has 22 years of retail experience and was head of womenswear at Matalan. She also ran her own boutique.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

small business post business

notes

small

business of the week

THE Government has launched a drive to boost the chances of disabled people finding work. Ministers said they wanted to support businesses to become more confident at recruiting people with disabilities amid new research showing that employers’ attitudes were a barrier to work. A two-year advertising campaign was unveiled at a disability employment conference in London, attended by hundreds of employers as well as Government ministers. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I am delighted we are holding this first Disability Employment Conference and launching this new campaign to help employers become confident employing disabled people. This isn’t just about doing what is right for disabled people. Employing disabled people makes business sense too. “We need to break the myth about the complexities of employing disabled people, or to put it more simply – to give employers confidence.”

by Tony McDonough

POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

M

ARRIED couples becoming business partners isn’t always a great idea but for John and Sandra Cooper it seems to have worked out pretty well. For many years now their very different, yet complementary, skills have helped them gain a high reputation among Merseyside’s artistic community. Together, the couple run Coopers Framing & Gallery in Seel Street, Liverpool city centre. The business came about when Sandra embarked on a career as a young artist and was urged to sell her work among others outside Liverpool’s Bluecoat Chambers. She needed someone to make frames for her work. John volunteered and the combination has been a winner ever since. Today, Sandra, often accompanied by John, sells her work at events such as art and flower shows across the country. From today she can be found at the Tatton Park Flower Show – one of the biggest events of its kind in the country. And John will be there to help her set up and support her. “I am a completely self-taught artist,” she said. “I have always drawn and painted since I was a child. “I started off selling painting by the railings at Bluecoat – I was very nervous about doing it at first but people seemed to really like my work.” Many of Sandra’s paintings are of flowers – very much aimed at people looking to furnish their homes. She added: “I also do commissions – someone has just asked me to do a picture of their three cats. “In the earlier days we would display at galleries and we would get sales that way. “Nowadays is is mainly through the shows – an online through my website, www.sandracooper.co.uk “People who buy my work range from young professionals and the young-at-heart who are looking to downsize their homes.” When John isn’t out on the road helping Sandra, he can be found at Coopers’ framing workshop in Seel Street. Artists and photographers from across Merseyside have flocked there over the years to have their work expertly framed by him. “We first set up here in 1994 and we have had some ups and downs since,” he said. “We had a terrible time during the council’s ‘Big Dig’ a few years ago when this road was closed off. “We were getting hardly any walk-in trade during that time.” As well as framing work for professionals, John also has many members of the public coming into the workshop looking to have treasured photographs or pictures framed. He added: “I think one of changes I have seen over the past few years is in the range of stuff coming in. “For example, these days I do a lot of framing of things such as football shirts. “I do a lot of work for artists and photographers in the city and I also do work for art galleries, universities and Liverpool City Council. “There are quite a few framers working in Liverpool and we do try to help each other out when needed.”

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John and Sandra Cooper at the framing workshop in Seel Street, Liverpool

Picture: TONY McDONOUGH

Making an art out of running a business John acknowledges how many people now look to online providers for their arts services. However, he added: “My prices are pretty competitive and many of the frames I’ve seen offered by online providers are pretty standard. “If you want a premium service online then you have to pay quite a bit more. “And I think for things this such as this people like to actually come in and explain what they want.” Both John and Sandra continue to derive huge satisfaction from their work and say they have no intention of sitting back. “We are both always learning all the time,” said Sandra. John agreed, adding: “I have always enjoyed meeting new people and that is why it works . “I think we are going to bop until we drop.”

Sandra Cooper shows some of the work she has produced

EMPLOYERS should beware of neglecting their duty of care to protect the health of all employees, including part-time workers. That was the warning from health and safety experts Croner, based on a survey showing a clear divide in the health benefits enjoyed by full-time and part-time workers, despite employers’ identical duty of care to all employees. Typical occupational health programmes include activities such as providing relevant health information, counselling, wellbeing initiatives and health checks. While 31% of employed workers in the survey said their employers do not offer any such support, there is a sizeable gap between full-time employees and part-timers, who are more likely to miss out. Of those working full-time, 28% say they do not receive occupational health services, but this rises to 42% among part-time workers. “These findings on occupational health provision raise several concerns,” said Stephen Thomas, safety technical consultant at Croner. “Employers have a duty of care to ensure, to a reasonable extent, the health and safety of all their employees, whether they are full- or part-time. And that is true for preventing ill health in the workplace as much as for preventing accidents.”


10 post business creative & digital

Thursday, July 25, 2013 IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Deloitte on lookout for tech growth ACCOUNTANCY giant Deloitte is calling on growing hi-tech companies to enter its UK Technology Fast 50 awards. The awards, now in their 16th year, aim to recognise technology companies with “exceptional growth in turnover” over the past five years. Last year’s list included two North West businesses. Online retailer The Hut, based in Northwich, was 12th in the league table with a growth rate of 1368%. Jodi Birkett, partner at Deloitte in the North West, said: “The North West has an impressive and growing technology sector that has spawned some of the most innovative businesses of the past decade. These are the companies driving growth in the region and pushing into new markets. “We know there are plenty more out there as the North West continues to mature as a technology stronghold.”

Husband and wife hope for success in the video world by Alistair Houghton POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

TWO students got more than just degrees from Liverpool Hope University – they also got a marriage and a new business. Matt and Kim Watson met during their first year at Hope, where she studied creative and performing arts and he studied film and television. They married during their final year – and have now set up in business as WatsOn Media. Their video production company specialises in music videos, weddings and corporate films. It has already worked with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and secured funding to host film workshops in youth groups and schools. Hope’s Business Gateway centre helped the Watsons win funding from the UnLtd scheme to deliver workshops. which are currently running in Bootle and will return to schools in Liverpool in the new school year. Mrs Watson said: “We go into youth groups and schools and give workshops on how to make

films and how to act for television or film. “At the end of it they get a professional showreel that they can use to get into further education – or they could even get work from it.” Kim said she was also keen to make more music videos. She said artists were increasingly keen to commission their own films so they could market themselves on YouTube. She said: “I love doing music videos – I’m quite soppy and I do love a soppy story. “We’re about to do a video for Spark, by Lauren Wright. It’s a nice soppy story for me to get my teeth into.” Hope is taking part in the HE Support Initiative, run by social enterprise body UnLtd and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which aims to increase entrepreneurship levels among students and graduates at higher education institutions. Hope’s main campus is in Childwall, but its Creative Campus in Liverpool city centre houses its creative and performing arts subjects – including those studied by the Watsons. Liverpool Hope University graduates Kim, left, and Matt Watson

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creative & digital post business 11

Thursday, July 25, 2013

www.ldpcreative.co.uk

Ben Hatton

Use email as a ‘shop window’

Sentric Music’s chief executive Chris Meehan in Elevator Studios, Liverpool Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY

California contract ‘pat on the back’ for growing digital firm by Alistair Houghton

POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

THE chief executive of music publishing and royalties specialist Sentric Music says its partnership new partnership with Californian company INgrooves will boost its profile around the globe. Sentric’s technology is powering the new publishing arm launched by San Francisco-based INgrooves. The division launched last week but is already administering more than 5,000 copyrights – including songs by artists such as Moby and Argentinean

singer-songwriter Federico Aubele. INgrooves will be using the systems that Liverpool-based Sentric built to allow it to collect worldwide royalties on behalf of its own portfolio of artists. Sentric’s CEO Chris Meehan said the tie-up with INgrooves would create “one of the most efficient and advanced music rights services available on the market”. He added: “It means that the profile of the business is going to change in the publishing space now we’re working with one of the largest US-based organisations in its field. “It’s a big pat on the back for everybody who has worked for us and supported us.

“It’s a real sign of intent for what we want to do and how we want to grow. We’re going to be doing quite a few things in the next six months.” Sentric represents more than 45,000 songwriters, helping more than 45,000 songwriters to collect royalties from concerts and airplay. The Baltic Triangle-based business was founded in 2006 and has won backing from the North West Fund for Digital & Creative. Mr Meehan, a graduate of Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, said the INgrooves deal would allow Sentric to work with a different range of artists. He said: “We cannot compete with them directly because they’re much

bigger than us, so the natural thing is for us to try to power them. “It gives us an opportunity to work with artists we wouldn’t normally have the chance to work with. “It looks after the top-selling end of the market – the number one singles and top-selling albums – which is something Sentric hasn’t historically been geared up to do. “It is the second largest music distributor in North America. It does a hell of a lot of music internationally. It’s a really great brand. “Publishing is an easy step for them with the client base they already have as well as the new people that will go to them.”

European trade body backs UK video games tax relief plans A EUROPEAN trade body has given its backing to the UK Government’s plans to introduce tax relief for the video games sector. The European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) has backed British trade body TIGA in recommending that the European Commission allows the UK

to introduce Video Games Tax Relief. Similar schemes already exist in France and Canada – and the EDGF’s member organisations, including the Spanish, German and French trade associations, have all supported the UK measure. They do not believe that introducing

relief in the UK will distort the EU market. EGDF chairman, Guillaume de Fondaumière, said: “The UK has historically been Europe’s stronghold when it comes to video games development. “For several years now, however, we have witnessed an alarming brain drain

and entire studios closing down as global investment has been diverted to other countries, especially in North America, which offer tax incentives. This in turn has reduced the UK’s capacity to develop culturally British video games. “The UK scheme is really about saving this strong-

hold on a European scale by encouraging developers and publishers to produce innovative and culturally British titles. We strongly support the measure and hope it will be retroactive from April 1 2013 onwards. “Europe needs this impetus, and we need it this year.”

WEBSITES are the new “shop floors”. And emails are the new “shop windows”. That is why a vast majority of retailers will be wisely investing in this “shop floor” over the coming year. According to research by the National Retail Federation, 72% of retailers selling online will be implementing mobile optimisation in line with the growth in smartphone and tablet use. As competition becomes fierce online, brands are also stepping up their game with their website offering. The State Of Retailing Online 2013: Marketing & Merchandising report states that 72% of web-based retailers will be implementing video on their sites. But top of the investment list are digital marketing campaigns. Email is one of the most effective ways of engaging with the target consumers which is why it is receiving the lion’s share of investment – 80% of companies will be paying particular attention to this. However there are things brands can do without investing too heavily. Checking to see what time a particular customer signed up to a mailing list and sending a marketing email to them at this time may increase opening rates as this will be the optimum time the customer has to spare to be receptive to emails. Tailoring emails to suit the type of device the email is displayed on has dramatic effects on open rates. The process of this optimisation can be conducted using the brands’ email database to assess which customers are mobile users and which are desktop users. Whether a brand has a little or a lot to invest, at present it is vital for retailers to pay attention to their online offering. ■ INTERNET entrepreneur Ben Hatton is founder and managing director of digital agency Rippleffect. Follow Rippleffect on Twitter @rippleffected


12 post business big feature

Tony McDonough meets STEPHEN HART, managing director of Frese in West Lancashire

S

OME OF the most successful entrepreneurs will talk of periods in the genesis of their businesses when it was just faith alone that stopped them from giving up. In mid to late 2004, Stephen Hart would wonder whether the business he had started in the spring would survive until the end of the year. Hart, 44, is managing director of Frese, a standalone UK offshoot of a Danish brand, Frese A/S. From its headquarters in Burscough, West Lancashire, Frese supplies Danish-made specialist valves used in heating systems. They are utilised in everything from large scale residential blocks to offices and hospitals. The valves, known as dynamic valves, control the amount of flow and temperature running through a heating or ventilation system. They monitor each room or building area then adjust the central heating unit accordingly. This gives a massive boost to the energy efficiency of a building and can slash energy bills for occupiers. In recent times Frese has expanded its range to offer other products, chiefly heat interface units. The company has worked on major projects including the extension of St James Hospital in Leeds, Media City in Salford and the Athletes Village at last year’s Olympics in London. However, in the early days, to Hart, along with sales director, Matthew Dunk, and sales and marketing manager, Andrew Pender, such successes seemed a long way off. “For months we seemed to spend long periods just staring at the phone and when it did ring we would almost do a lap of honour,” said Hart. Prior to starting the business all three had worked for an Ormskirk-based valve manufacturer called Hattersley Newman Hender. At one point it had employed more than 1,000 people and in 2003, when it was sold to a US competitor, that number was around 400. The buyer decided to close the plant with the loss of all the jobs. However, Hart was asked to stay on for six months to oversee the winding down of the operation. At this point, he had been travelling the world promoting its products. He said: “Along with the other board members, I had the job of handing over the factory to the new owners and that process took about six months. “During that time it became clear to me that I did not want to work for the new owners. “400 people had lost their jobs and I wanted to be able to look them in the eye. It was not among the most enjoyable times for me.” Around this time, Hart was contacted by executives of Frese in Denmark. The firm had been selling its products in the UK, but under a different brand, and its ambition was to sell under its own name. They initially wanted to employ Hart and others to do this but Hart had bigger ambitions. “To keep me on side while the factory was winding down, the American company had paid me quite a few bonuses and I used those as start-up capital for the business,” he explained. Frese became an investor in the new business, which set up shop in Southport, owning a 51% stake.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Danish technology a winner for UK heat valve supplier

Stephen Hart outside the Frese headquarters in Burscough, West Lancashire and, inset, the athletes’ village at the Olympics Hart added: “I am a mechanical engineer by trade and I was very impressed with the Frese technology. “The techie in me saw what an interesting gadget their valve was. “At that point I had one young

child and another one on the way. My wife was from Southport and we did not want to move out of the area.” While Hart was convinced by the quality of the product, the UK building industry was unsure.

q&a Age: 44 Highest educational qualification: Honours degree in mechanical engineering Biggest achievement in business: Taking a local small firm from zero to a £3m turnover Biggest regret: It was disappointing to come back from the US when there was such a great

opportunity out there. Best advice received: Make sure you always bring your team along with you Still to achieve: I would like to have been an actor Hobbies/interests: I play tennis, occasionally rugby and I coach an under-12s rugby team in my local community

“This new widget that we were selling was similar to something that was already on the market in the UK and that product had not really worked,” explained Hart “Luckily for us, it was a fact that our gadget was better and we were able to go out and demonstrate that to the engineers that this technology could fulfil its promise. “Our USP in our market was the speed of commission – with our technology, a process that normally takes weeks can be done in a matter of days. “That is great for developers because it reduces the time they have to wait to hand over the building when it is complete and therefore they reduce their risk and costs. “We played a lot on the Danish influence as the Danes have a great reputation for energy-reducing tech-

nology. Our big break came in 2005 when St James’s Hospital in Leeds was building a big extension. That job was worth £200,000 in one go. “That was the reference project that we could then use to sell our technology more widely. “The people involved in the hospital project were singing our praises. We had saved them time and money. That was a real turning point for the business as it legitimised our position. It took off after that.” Frese steadily grew, both in terms of size and reputation over the next few years, and even when the financial crash happened in 2008/9, the firm didn’t feel an immediate impact. “When the economic downturn came it did not hit us immediately. “We were already involved in some very big projects that had already been given the go-ahead.


big feature post business 13

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stephen Hart with some of the valves that have proved a hut with the UK construction sector Picture: GARETH JONES

Alex

Turner Dazzled by the power of brands JK ROWLING’S use of a pseudonym is a case study into the raw power of a brand. As the debut novelist Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling had been well-reviewed and generated reasonable sales, given its marketing. But the uncovering of the author made sales go stratospheric overnight. Authors have been able to profit from a strong brand – it is why some, such as James Patterson and Andy McNab have introduced co-authors to enable the volume to be maintained which will satisfy demand from their book-buying audience. That association with celebrity and profile usually helps massively in raising interest. That is why, of course, the birth of one baby this week got worldwide interest, despite the likelihood that anyone under the age of 40, and possibly 30, will live long enough see him become king, even if the monarchy still exists. One of the much-vaunted consequences of the digital, and social media, era was the democratisation of information and selection of information. It was meant to result in greater representation for broader interests and, by extension, a reduction in the height of the peaks of chatter about that small group of media-selected stories. Yet whether it is the monarchy or the queen of popular fiction, the big stories and brands continue to dominate and often overwhelm to an even greater extent. For the rest of us, it is a case of plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The methods of doing business have changed beyond recognition, and continue to evolve at revolutionary pace, but the fundamentals are unaltered. For the vast majority of businesses, technology offers an improvement to the means, but not to the end. It is a challenge not to be distracted by the bright lights and glamour of the digital world, where the possibility of dealing with Brazilians as if they are based in Bootle and the Chinese like they are in Chester – and the exponential revenue growth that would, we all imagine, immediately follow – can make the traditional and local approaches appear dull by comparison. In our rush to embrace the new, it is prudent to take care not to throw out the baby – royal or otherwise – with the bath water.

‘Basics of doing business remain the same’

“2009 was a very good year for us and we didn’t really start to see the effects of the downturn until 2010. The market for the building of offices and hotels was decimated.”

H

ART was born in the Midlands but was brought up in Dorchester in Dorset. He studied for an honours degree in engineering at Thames Polytechnic in London (now the University of Greenwich). He arrived in the North West in 1993 and ended up travelling the world promoting the products of Cheshire-based Oliver Valves. “I established their US operation and we spent two year living in Houston,” said Hart. “But we came back in 2000 to bring up our family.” He has also travelled the world on

behalf of Frese, but added: “Today I have hung up my passport after promoting the technology in more than 40 countries across the world. “I want to spend more time at home with my family.” That family is his wife, Maura, and children Annie, 13, Ethan, 10 and Luke, eight. In recent times Hart has looked to diversify the Frese offer, which has led to offering products beyond just the Frese range. He said: “In Denmark 60% of properties are connected to district heating systems but in the UK this is just 1%. This is a very energy-efficient way of heating hot water – using heat pumps to generate heat. “This now chimes with the move towards more energy-efficient heating systems in this country.” Frese now supplies what it calls a

“complete bespoke solution” – supplying whole heating systems, as well as just the valves. It is targeting high-end residential developments and student accommodation projects. Hart added: “We are now supplying complementary technology. This enhances our ability to sell the core product.” Frese employs 10 people and has sales reps across the UK. Revenues are already up 44% this year and it is on target for a £3m turnover. The Danish parent company retains its 51% stake and in 2008 Matthew Dunk also became a minority shareholder. Andrew Pender has now relocated to Denmark to become the marketing manager of the parent group. Many companies start growing their market share locally before

spreading further afield. However, Hart, says Frese is looking to do that in reverse. The company has established a solid reputation across the country, particularly in London, but is less well know in its own back yard. Hart said: “Today we are regarded as the authoritative voice in the sector by many people. “We have a new challenge as we have become the victims of our ownsuccess. “The market for this technology is now growing at around 15% a year. The battle to convince people the technology works has been won. “We are quite London-centric and have done well in other parts of the country but we want to become more well known in our home region. We are aiming to become more familiar to the Merseyside building industry.”

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


14 post business legal

Thursday, July 25, 2013

www.ldplegal.co.uk

ask the expert ELAS HR director Pam Rogerson anticipates a royal day off this year

Q

A

HOW can I as an employer prepare for a bank holiday celebrating the royal baby’s christening?

AS the nation prepares to welcome the royal baby into the world, speculation is rising about whether the christening will be marked with a public holiday. With the baby due to be born in July, we’re warning that both employers and employees will have to be quick to factor in the ramifications of a potential day off. Some employment contracts stipulate that an employee is entitled to a statutory 5.6 weeks leave per year, which includes all pre-determined bank holidays, so if the additional day goes ahead employers would not be obliged to cover the costs. However, other contracts will state that an employee is allowed a given number of days off each year plus bank holidays, meaning employers would have to foot the bill in these instances. Whatever the case, the pressure is mounting for a feel-good factor holiday, but it’s the British workforce who will pay for the privilege. The British economy could be hit by up to £1.5bn for this additional holiday, due to a loss in productivity, as businesses shut down operations for an extra day this year. If the Government does grant an extra holiday, to mark the baby’s christening, for example, then employers can prepare for it by taking the time to carefully communicate the effects that this holiday will have on their staff. They must make it clear whether or not employees will lose a holiday day from their current entitlement, and indeed whether the business will close on that day. Employers should also note that if no day off is granted, there could be a rise in unauthorised staff absences as people stay at home to celebrate the wetting of the baby’s head. To help businesses prepare for this potential outcome, we have put together a checklist for employers: ■ 1. It is essential that businesses are clear with staff about the rules for having time off. Requests for annual leave should be decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to make staff aware of minimum notice periods for annual leave requests. ■ 2. Consider looking at flexible working options. Allowing staff to work from home, or to work different hours, will help meet usual levels of productivity while staff are able to escape traffic jams or catch coverage of the event. ■ 3. Reiterate your stance on absenteeism. Staff who are turned down for time off often have a knack of being ill when the requested day arrives. Make sure staff members know the consequences of falsely taking sick leave. The Employment Law Advisory Service (ELAS) is a leading provider of business support services such as HR, payroll services, DBS checks, employment In association with law advice and social media training to businesses both in the North West and nationally. To find out more call 08450 50 40 60.

Businesses must be clear with staff about the holiday rules

Sports lawyer Paul Fletcher joins the team at Manleys SPORTS lawyer Paul Fletcher has joined the team at Chester-based Manleys, completing something of a re-union. He previously worked at Brabners with Mark Manley at the start of his career in the 1990s. Manleys is a niche media and sports law firm with offices in London and Chester acting for a number of high profile players and clubs. The firm has recently achieved national recognition as UK Leader in Field in the Chambers and Partners Directory. Fletcher is also nationally recognised in Chambers and the Legal 500 as a leading sports lawyer and has represented a number of football clubs from the Premier League, Championship and lower leagues, as well as a number of high profile international football players, agents and well-known brands within football, other sports and the media. Mr Fletcher said: “I’m really pleased to join Manleys, with the opportunities this presents, and in particular to be working again with Mark.” Mr Manley added: “Paul’s a great signing.”

Mark Manley, right, welcomes sports lawyer Paul Fletcher to the Chester practice

Hampson Hughes bucks trend to maintain growth by Neil Hodgson

POST BUSINESS STAFF

neil.hodgson@liverpool.com

AS changes to personal injury law threaten the legal services sector one Liverpool law firm is bucking the trend in terms of job creation. Old Hall Street-based Hampson Hughes Solicitors, specialists in no win no fee personal injury compensation, appointed 19 people last month. That takes the total number of jobs created this year to 140 at a time when many competitors are making redundancies. In the four years since it was founded the company has created a total of 250 jobs in Liverpool. The owners attribute this growth to a different business model of a traditional law firm. Joint managing director Paul Hampson said: “This company was established and is used to trading in a tough economic climate,

so, as many firms are battening down the hatches, we’re continuing to invest to increase our market share.” This latest recruitment drive forms part of wider plans to expand into new markets over the coming months. Fellow joint managing director John Hughes added: “By investing in the best people we aim to shake up the legal services sector and establish Hampson Hughes Solicitors as one of the UK’s leading law firms.” The latest recruits join a range of teams at Hampson Hughes Solicitors including: first response; personal injury; catastrophic injury; industrial disease; employment and public liability; accounts and administration. The firm’s most recent addition is Patrick Mallon, new head of employer and public liability, who joins from Paul Rooney Solicitors. He will lead a team of 12, specialising in accidents in the workplace and in public areas.

Patrick Mallon, head of employer and public liability

Cuts to family law funding ‘already hitting vulnerable’ A SOUTH Liverpool lawyer claims the withdrawal of almost all public funding for family law is beginning to affect society’s most vulnerable members. The cuts include contact and residence disputes over children, divorce and

finances and Darren Matthews, from Gregory Abrams Davidson, said: “We are the only law firm in the Garston area and, coupled with the ongoing economic pressures, the long term effects could be catastrophic for people

who need specialist advice and representation. “There is Legal Aid available in limited circumstances – where social services have applied for care orders or people have suffered domestic abuse or violence.

“Irrespective, one of the main criticisms of the changes has been the lack of information provided by Government and it has been left to the legal profession to break the bad news to people. “I have seen first-hand

already how this is impacting on people who feel helpless, and especially children who could become vulnerable without help. It will also place further pressure on the police who are already over-stretched.”


women in business post business 15

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maddy the translator helping small firms to win big work by Tony McDonough POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

MANY small firms find the prospect of bidding for public or private sector contracts a daunting prospect. Winning a contract or even just getting on a framework can be a bureaucratic nightmare which puts many entrepreneurs off even trying. But help is at hand in the form of Maddy Templeman, founder and director of the Liverpool-based Templeman Consultancy. More than a decade ago Maddy was working as a secretary for a small firm and her boss was looking to bid for a contract. “He said to me ‘you are good with words, you write it for me’ – and so I did,” she said. She found she had the ability to make sense of the complex and confusing language often used in procurement documents and over the following years she worked for several firms helping them to secure deals. “I can translate both ways,” she added. Last year she decided that she could most benefit from her skills and experience by working for herself and last September, she founded her con-

sultancy. “Since then the business has gone really well,” says Maddy. “I’ve got testimonials from a number of companies that I’ve helped win work for.” Last week, Maddy joined dozens of other start-up entrepreneurs at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Chambers, for a networking event organised by business support agency, Blue Orchid. Maddy went to Blue Orchid, which has just helped its 2,000th small business, for help in the early days of her business and found the advice she received to be invaluable. She said: “They were great. I also do quality assurance for clients and they pointed me in the direction of getting accreditation to do that.” The Making Business Work event saw people from a number of Blue Orchid’s success stories address the gathering. Maddy was one of those who spoke and she told the audience not to hesitate to seek advice when needed. She talked about her particular pride at helping one client get on a major procurement framework. “They were just a small firm and were up against bigger companies – but they still won a place on the framework,” she said.

‘You are good with words so you write it for me’

Maddy Templeman of the Templeman Consultancy

Is releasing the equity on your home sensible?

R

Richard Jones of Security Financial Services based on the age of the younger. The maximum loan is around 50% of the property’s value, but younger borrowers will have their loans capped well below that. HOW SAFE ARE THE PLANS? Richard says Lifetime Mortgages are regulated by UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, and he explained: “If

A HAIRSTYLIST from Merseyside has made it through to the final stages of a global competition. Kelly McDonald, managing director of Star Salon in Bootle, has won a place in the UK and Ireland final of the Wella TrendVision Awards.

Kelly McDonald

Advertising Feature Independent financial advice

ICHARD Jones of Security Financial Services says equity release schemes are proving to be useful financial planning tools when used alongside state pensions, private pensions, ISAs and other financial products to increase your income or provide a lump sum. The most common type of scheme used is the Lifetime Mortgage. Lifetime Mortgages enable older home owners to take cash from the equity built up in their property without the need to sell up and move out. Richard explained: “You take out a loan on your property in return for a lump sum, but you continue to own the property, with the debt being repaid only when you die or go into long-term care. As there are no monthly repayments, the interest ‘rolls up,’ increasing the amount you owe over time.” Richard says the amount you can raise through a Lifetime Mortgage depends on a number of factors, including the value of your property and how old you are, with the minimum age typically 60. If there are two people jointly taking out the plan, it’s

Salon MD through to final

you choose one that is offered by a member of the Equity Release Council it will have a ‘no negative equity guarantee,’ which means customers will never owe more than the value of their home and no debt will ever be left to the estate.” He continued: “There are things to think about. Before releasing equity from your home, have you considered the alternatives? Have

you claimed all state benefits for which you are eligible, considered using other savings or assets or thought about renting out a room in your home? “If you need money to make alterations to your property because you are less mobile, you may be able to get financial assistance – your local authority may be able to point you in the right direction. For many, the most effective way of releasing equity will be to downsize to a smaller property.” And he added: “Remember that an equity release plan will reduce the value of the estate you are leaving your family, so consider talking to them about it. You may even want to release the equity to help them out, but ask them first if they want this. “Releasing equity from your home could also impact upon other aspects of your finances, including your eligibility to means-tested benefits, so it is important that you take independent financial advice. “As ever, if you’re interested in finding out more, contact an independent financial advisor from this page.” ■ SECURITY Financial Services is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The annual awards are one of the hairdressing industry’s most prestigious competitions. She was one of over 800 competitors who entered at the initial stage. “I have worked in the hair industry for the past 15 years now and this is definitely the most nerve-racking thing I have ever done,” said Kelly.

Independent Financial Advisers in your area Anglesey Security Financial Services

Ty Llwyd, Llanfaelog,Ty Croes, Anglesey LL63 5TY Contact: Richard Jones Email richard@security-financial.co.uk Phone: 01407 811268 Mobile: 07710 468970

Denbighshire Vale Financial Services

info@valefinancialservices.com Studio One,Town Hall, Crown Lane, Denbigh LL16 3TB Tel: 01745 814962 Fax: 01745 814446 Contact: Glyn B. Jones info@valefinancialservices.com

Liverpool Investec Wealth & Investment

The Plaza, 100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9AB. Tel: 0151 227 2030. Fax: 0151 227 2444 Email: paul.brokenshar@investecwin.co.uk Website: www.investecwin.co.uk Contact: Paul Brokenshar

Why choose an independent financial adviser

Because it pays to take an unbiased view

Those listed above are either an appointed representative of a network or national which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority or are directly authorised and regulated


16 post business location

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Schemes underway in Warrington will reverse town centre decline

view point by Charles Goodall of Warrington & Co HIGH street shopping decline is in freefall. Taking a quick look at the number of high street brands that have disappeared, there were 46 last year.

This year, so far, there have been 36 already. Just like new store openings there is no sign of a rescue parachute opening any time soon. Town high streets all tell a similar story – one that reflects how our shopping, banking and leisure habits have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Warrington has an extremely healthy local economy. Four recent independent reports all highlight how the Warrington economy is buoyant and is outstripping the rest regionally and nationally.

Yet this is not reflected in a visit to the town centre which, like any other, has suffered in recent times. A look back 25 years to Warrington then and now tells an interesting story. In the late 80’s the town had 770,000sq ft of floorspace with 50,000sq ft vacant compared with 1.3m sq ft today and 350,000 sq ft vacant. Regional competing retail space was 3.73m sq ft compared with a current 8.91m. Notably, the population living and

working in the town centre has fallen dramatically. Town centre residents have dropped from nearly 9,000 to under 1,000 and town centre employment opportunities from 19,000 to just over 11,000. In Warrington we are progressing two schemes to arrest the decline and feed and revitalise its recovery. The two schemes will complement each other re-populating the town centre with residents and workers and providing a new local high street

‘The town centre, like any other, has suffered’

Merlin cafe opens after a three-year wait A CAFE in Burscough’s “eco-focused” Merlin Park business enterprise village has finally opened after a three-year planning application process. Planning permission for catering facilities at the park was granted following an appeal after the original application in 2010 was rejected. Lancashire Council was unable to approve the request due to policies covering the wider Burscough Industrial Estate. When the estate was originally created, approval was granted for specific types of business – which did not include catering. The owner of Merlin Park, George Bond has worked in conjunction with the council to overturn this decision. Hogey’s Café is a family-run business which is led by husband and wife team, Steve and Sandy Darwin, supported by daughter Sarah. The business has relocated from Southport to “embrace opportunities” within Burscough.

BUSINESS to BUSINESS COMMERCIAL PREMISES

Sandy and Steve Darwin in their cafe

POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

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£100m Asda facility to be reduced in height by Tony McDonough

FOR SALE / MAY LET

Freestanding Chester City Centre Office Building 14,000 sq ft with car parking Potential for Re-Development

opportunity that will entice people living in the suburbs back into town. The Stadium Quarter will be a £190m mixed use housing, office, educational, hotel and leisure offer and The Bridge Street Quarter will revitalise the traditional high street shopping area of the town with a new family friendly leisure and retail offer with a new market at its heart. Both schemes are making good progress. A start on site for the Stadium Quarter, which when complete will bring 4,500 jobs, is scheduled early in 2014 and plans for Bridge Street will be announced this autumn.

• Large private car park • Fully fitted out • Prominent position on Egerton Wharf

A REVISED planning application is to be submitted for a £100m distribution centre at Warrington’s Omega scheme. The 600,000 sq ft facility will be occupied by supermarket giant Asda when it is completed. The revised application, to be submitted by Omega Warrington Ltd (OWL) and developer, Bericote, will see the the height of the building reduced from an approved 35 metres to 31.5 metres at its highest elevation and propose a reduction in height by three metres at the lower elevation. It will also reduce the floorspace of the building by 17,000 sq ft and deliver the building in two phases. The revised application will be lodged shortly and will be subject to consultation for a three-week period. When the development is completed it is expected to create hundreds of new jobs for people in the Warrington area. In a leaflet going out to local people this week, OWL said: “Since the planning consent was granted by Warrington Council in April, the occupier has undertaken a further cost and space efficiency review. “It concluded that it is able to deliver a similar service on the site but with the building at a reduced scale.

Ref: WS

INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY INDUSTRIAL UNITS 3,000− 20,000 sqft, flexible terms. 0151 486 0004

“It was also felt that a further reduced scale would recognise the concerns raised about the original planning application by some local residents, who were concerned that the building was too tall.” The Asda scheme is the latest development on the £1bn Omega site where building work has now been underway for some months. In June, Warrington Council approved a £35m logistics facility to be occupied by building supplies giant, Travis Perkins. It granted planning permission to OWL to construct a 700,000 sq ft regional logistics centre for the Travis Perkins Group on Omega North. The centre will serve to supply Travis Perkins Group wholesale and retail outlets across the region, supporting around 450 jobs on-site. The outline terms of the deal were announced and agreed between OWL and Travis Perkins at the end of April, subject to planning approval being granted. Construction is expected to be completed next year, with operation planned for 2015. Travis Perkins will join Brakes and Hermes, both of which have logistics hubs under construction on Omega North, creating a combined floor space of more than 1m sq ft. This represents a total investment figure of more than £100m and the provision of 1,400 full time jobs.

Seat on the board FORMER chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors North West Regional Board,

Dominic Thompson, has been elected to a place on the RICS Governing Council Board.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Covered shopping centres set to grow COVERED shopping centres are set to be the fastest-growing segment of the retail property sector, according to a new report. A study by Research and Markets – Shopping Centres 2013 – predicts that new shopping centre expansion will continue to increase at a modest pace over the next five years, and projects a growth of 0.8% for 2013, followed by 0.7% growth in 2014. Between 2013 and 2017, the covered shopping centres sector is forecast to be the fastest-growing segment, rising by 12%, compared with lower growth rates of 8.7% and 6.5% growth, respectively, in factoryand designer-outlet centres and retail parks. Covered shopping centres are the largest sector of the market and accounted for an estimated 65.3% of total letting space in 2012. The report adds: “The economic downturn and the Government’s planning restrictions on the development of out-of-town centres have contributed to limit growth. “Much of the growth in the covered shopping centres sector comes from extensions to current in-town developments, where planning permission is often easier to obtain. “Growth rates in retail parks and factory- and designer-outlets have also been weak.”

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

location

post business 17

City centre is heading for an undersupply of grade A space St Paul’s Square in Liverpool

by Tony McDonough

POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

LIVERPOOL’S office market is facing a “tipping point” where the supply of grad A space starts to dry up. That’s the conclusion of a new report by consultancy GVA which says the city centre will have an undersupply of new accommodation by 2015. A supply of grade A space is essential if the city is to attract blue-chip clients from the South East and overseas. While commercial property owners such as Bruntwood and Downing offer a good supply of high quality refurbished space, there will also be some occupiers who insist on brand new accommodation. Liverpool’s remaining grade A office space totals just over 200,000 sq ft at St Paul’s Square, 20 Chapel Street and Mann Island with no significant new space in the pipeline. The headline rent for grade A currently stands at £21 per sq ft – a rate

which is not high enough to convince most developers to build speculatively. In Post Business in May, Stuart Keppie, of local agents Keppie Massie, warned that rents would need to rise before more space could be created. GVA’s latest Liverpool city centre office report – Tipping Point – looks at the supply and demand dynamics in the Liverpool office market and considers when the tipping point will be. It found that the small number of grade A refurbishment schemes being speculatively developed has led to the market being unable to meet anticipated demand among the private sector. The report highlights that from 2010 to 2015, the level of built and available prime supply in the city centre will decrease from 400,000 sq ft to just over 100,000 sq ft. When considering new space with floorplates in excess of 10,000 sq ft, there are only three built schemes that could accommodate such requirements. These schemes include No 4 & No 5 St Paul’s Square and No 1 Mann Island. Ian Steele, director at GVA Liver-

pool, said: “With a limited amount of good quality accommodation remaining and only two major refurbishment schemes currently onsite, occupiers could be left with fewer options than originally anticipated. “Particularly with the anticipated increase in demand and overall take-up levels and the fact that the majority of developers/funds are unable or unwilling to bring forward product without significant pre-commitment.” In terms of demand, the report finds that due to the diminishing supply of good quality refurbished buildings with the ability to provide occupiers with large floorplates and the downward pressure on headline rents, there are an increasing number of occupiers now considering new space as well as refurbished accommodation. Mr Steele added: “There are a number of pending transactions which could potentially see take-up for both new and grade A refurbished accommodation reach in excess of 150,000 sq ft by the end of the year, further reducing supply.”

Ian Steel of GVA

India Buildings owner urges developers to get building in Liverpool Dowload today for your free 30-day trial www.liverpool dailypost.co.uk/ businessdaily

THE owner of what is one of Liverpool most famous office buildings is urging developers to invest in the city and create more grade A space. Mike Tapp is director of London-based Green Property, which owns the city’s India Buildings.

He said: “Whilst there was a spike in availability for city centre offices in 2011, Liverpool, like most regional property markets, has seen a dearth of development and refurbishment activity since. “So much so that we are approaching the tip-

ping point when known demand for grade A space will overtake current supply. “This is the right time for owners to be looking at investing in their buildings. It will be some time until new speculative development is econom-

ically viable, but older, office stock can effectively be refurbished to provide the high quality space that leading occupiers demand. “It’s precisely why we’re creating Liverpool’s largest grade A floor plate at India Buildings.”

India Buildings


18 post business economic development

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No easy answers on zero focus on jobs

by Alistair Houghton

POST BUSINESS STAFF

alistair.houghton@liverpool.com

N

OT so long ago, the term “zero hours contracts” would have won zero recognition among the British public. Now, that system of work is well and truly under the political spotlight. Under so-called zero hours or nil hours contracts, staff agree to be available for work but are not given guaranteed hours. As conciliation service Acas says, “Zero-hours contracts effectively provide employers with a pool of people who are ‘on-call’ and can be used when the need arises”. More than 200,000 British workers are estimated to be on such deals, which are particularly common in sectors including retail, hospitality and social care. The system has been criticised by unions and MPs alike. Unite’s Liverpool- born general secretary Len McCluskey slammed them as “insecure” and, just this month, Halton MP Derek Twigg hit out at the “uncertainty” they cause workers. Last month, three Merseyside Labour MPs produced a report into the effect of zero hours contracts on local workers. Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, George Howarth, MP for Knowsley, and Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, found workers were often happy with the flexibility the contracts offered but were often unhappy with the terms and conditions. Mr Howarth said zero hours was a name for a problem which had “existed forever”, noting that Mersey dock workers used to have to assemble every morning for the chance of a day’s work. The MPs suggested that firms using such contracts should sign up to a code of practice. In June, Business Secretary Vince Cable responded to the criticism by announcing a review of zero hours contracts. He said: “For some these can be the right sort of employment contract, giving workers a choice of working patterns. “However for a contract that is now more widely used, we know relatively little about its effect on employers and employees.” He said there was “anecdotal evidence” of some abuses of the system – and asked his officials to work to “better understand” the issues. But many business leaders say they could not operate without the flexibility they offer. And one of those leaders – Stephen Jacques, managing director of home care provider Bluebird Care Wirral – last week invited Ms McGovern to visit his office to discuss why his company needed to use such contracts. Bluebird’s team of more than 30 care workers travel throughout Wirral on behalf of social services, providing at-home care for many older people. For Mr Jacques, zero hours contracts provide his company with the flexibility it needs to meet the needs

Stephen Jacques, of Bluebird Care Wirral, says his company has to use zero hours contracts of its clients. Bluebird is not on a retainer and only gets paid for the work it does. When appointments are cancelled – if, for example, a client has a hospital appointment – Bluebird often does not get paid. Mr Jacques said it would be “financially impossible” for the company to pay its workers a full-time wage if there was no work for them to do – and therefore the company itself was not getting any income. “The situation is,” he said, “that if customers cancel then we will often not get paid. “When they cancel and they continue to pay us, we will continue to pay the carer.” Mr Jacques said he had to operate

under a zero-hours system. That, he said, was better for care workers than encouraging them to become self-employed. “Taxi drivers don’t get paid while they’re sat at the rank – they only get paid for what they actually do,” he said. “The advantages of having a zero hours contract over being a self-employed person like a taxi driver is that we pay holidays, we pay overtime, we pay maternity pay, we pay sick pay – and soon we’ll have to contribute to a pension as well.” Mr Jacques said he could understand why the contracts have been controversial – but said the way his company operated meant staff got a good deal. “The reason they are frowned

Taxi drivers don’t get paid while they’re sat at the rank

upon,” he said, “is because some people pay such low wages that it makes it (the pay people receive) way below the minimum wage. “Our standard weekly wage is £7.36 an hour, and £8.20 at weekends. So if we add those two together and divide them into the hours that our care workers work, we find that we’re still well over the national minimum wage. “It’s not a problem with the system per se, providing you pay over and above the minimum wage. But if you pay the minimum wage and then take away the hours that aren’t getting paid for, it means that you’re working for £4 an hour or something ridiculous.” MP Ms McGovern welcomed Mr Jacques’ commitment to paying his staff well above the minimum wage – and agreed that flexible ways of working could be beneficial to both

employers and staff in the hands of a responsible company such as Bluebird. The report she wrote with Mr Howarth and Ms Berger was based on a survey of people working zero hours contracts in and around Merseyside. She said: “Our view is that if there are circumstances where there is genuine flexibility on both sides, it’s not necessarily per se a bad thing that it is a zero hours contract. “You can think of examples where the flexibility is there on both sides and that’s ok. “But the problem I think with zero-hours contracts is that they seem to be being used, from the evidence I’ve seen, poorly in some cases and as a proxy for management. “So there are people saying if you don’t do X, Y or Z you won’t get any more hours. Well that no longer


Thursday, July 25, 2013

hours contracts

economic development post business 19

start-up of the month In association with

Merseyside MPs, from left, Alison McGovern, Luciana Berger and George Howarth pictured at Parr Street Studios last month launching their report into zero hours contracts

Robert Edge, left, and Jake Ryan of Bake Media

Bake Media

Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a review into zero hours contracts becomes flexibility, does it? “Good businesses aren’t interested in treating their staff like that.”

M

S McGOVERN said businesses could be encouraged to sign up to a code of practice pledging to treat employees on zero hours contracts fairly. She said: “The first thing that we want to do is talk to businesses, listen to what they’ve got to say, and see if we can come up with some principles that people can sign up to. “They could be, for example, making sure that people get a decent amount of notice of what their hours are going to be, and making sure that people get access to training. “One of the problems if you’re doing low or minimal hours is – what if the company doesn’t invest in you or your training? That’s not great,

and also that undermines the skills in the labour force generally. “From the conversations I’ve had already, good businesses are interested in what we’ve got to say, agree with the principles and want to work with us. “We’ve got to make sure that we find those examples of where people are being treated badly and root it out. “ We’ve always said trade unions should have a role in this and that people should think of joining their union because that’s a good protection.” Vince Cable’s review of zero hours should, Ms McGovern said, include a “serious call for evidence” on such contracts. She said: “The Government could look at the minimum wage regula-

tions to make sure that they’re tight enough. “For example, if somebody is not really being given an option as to whether or not they can work – if they’re being offered hours they can’t really turn down – then how does that count for the calculation as to whether or not they’re being paid the minimum wage? “There are national bodies for HR practice, such as the CIPD, that could look at this. In the worst-case scenario, if we find that those things really don’t help, then maybe you’d want to consider a case for the Government doing more. “But I think we’ve got a lot of options here in terms of spreading better practice.”

Make sure people get notice of what their hours are

BAKE came about when Jake Ryan and I met socially, writes ROBERT EDGE. We discovered a mutual desire to set up a vibrant, creative company that supplies a combination of product photography and video production for websites. Video is now essential for online marketing purposes - a key element of the trust that consumers place in an online shop or the website of a local business. It reassures customers that the business has genuine people running it. With video, a visit to a website is far more likely to convert into a sale. In the last few years the technology required to produce extremely high-quality films has become more affordable. We’re able to shoot amazing films and produce high quality motion graphics, animation and special effects quickly, efficiently and at incredible value to the customer. In terms of photography, we have had many a discussion with web designers who say that they wished all their clients used a professional as part of their web package. Only too often, their good work designing a site is undone when their client decides to photograph products themselves.

I have worked in the creative industries in Liverpool throughout my career and so we have great contacts in all disciplines, writes JAKE RYAN There really is a tight-knit, trusted creative community in Liverpool that makes it so much easier to put a production together. We have spent a great deal of time and effort developing the right plan to guide us towards achieving a successful business and Liverpool Vision has helped us. We made a short film to promote the “I’m Liverpool, I’m Business” programme which Vision runs. This prepared us to pitch, and enabled us to make useful connections. At the moment we are doing our best to put ourselves in front of the right clients and possibly investors. The ILIB team is helping us to do that. Rob concludes, in the long run, we hope to offer a complete service of web design, photography and video. One of us coined the phrase that it will be “One Stop for an Online Shop”. Right now, we are looking for the right partner to take on the challenge of creating a web development side to the business. Until then we are concentrating on the photographic and video production aspects.

‘Reassures customers there are genuine people here’

Names: Robert Edge & Jake Ryan at Bake Media What their company does: Website video production and

product photography Email: rob@bakemedia.co.uk Website: www.bakemedia.co.uk Telephone: 07952 905617


20 post business professionals

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Firms not keen to borrow, says study

Simon Walker will jointly head up the Liverpool Quilter Cheviot office with Richard Thorn

Quilter Cheviot teams come together under one city roof by Tony McDonough POST BUSINESS STAFF

tony.mcdonough@liverpool.com

TWO Liverpool wealth management teams handling hundreds of millons of pounds worth of funds have come together under one roof in the city. Investment firms Quilter and Cheviot Asset Management have combined to create a new brand – Quilter Cheviot. Staff from Quilter’s office in Princes Parade have now relocated to Cheviot’s base in St Paul’s Square and the combined team numbers more than 20 people. They form part of the Quilter Cheviot North West operation, which also includes Manchester and North Wales, with total funds under management of more than £1.2bn. The Liverpool operation will be jointly run by the former head of the Quilter Liverpool office, Richard

Thorn, and former head of the Cheviot Liverpool office, Simon Walker. In an interview with Post Business, Mr Walker said the integration was now well advanced. “The biggest challenge in any merger such as this is always bringing people together,” he said. “Luckily, what we had here was two teams that were culturally quite similar and we have been working on bringing people together since before Christmas. “From an IT perspective we are using the Cheviot platform and that integration should be completed around about the end of the third or the start of the fourth quarter this year.” Liverpool is a recognised UK centre of excellence for the wealth management sector and Quilter Cheviot is already competing against some very strong and well-established brands in the city. They include Investec and Rathbone

Brothers as well as stockbroking firms such as Charles Stanley. However, Mr Walker said the reach of the firm goes way beyond Merseyside. He added: “Liverpool is, of course, a big centre for wealth management but our approach is to cover the whole of the North of England. “If we tried to feed off just Liverpool I don’t think we would do very well. “Relationships between people and their wealth management advisors tend to be long-standing. “Our growth plans for Liverpool and the wider North West region are very ambitious.” Mr Walker acknowledges that the dire reputation Britain’s banks currently have for the mis-selling of financial products over the last two decades poses a risk that the wealth management sector could be tainted by association. But he insists the way his industry works is very different.

In particular, he points out that while banks will often try to sell people products from other divisions within their own group, the more independent wealth management sector’s recommendations are made in the best interests of the client. “Organisations such as banks often have their own financial products to punt and that can be a conflict of interest,” said Mr Walker. “Most of the major banks have their own wealth investment arms. “The more discerning clients want to deal with organisations where there is no such conflict of interest. “We don’t sell off-the-shelf products – we offer an individual solution for each client, because different investors have different priorities. “They want to deal with someone they can trust on a personal level. “I think there have been relatively few issues with the wealth management sector in comparison to the banking industry.”

RESEARCH from KPMG has revealed that while some North West businesses are still struggling to borrow from their banks, a quarter have not tried to secure debt funding over the last year. The findings, part of the accountancy firm’s North West Business Instinct Survey 2013, suggest that many of the region’s companies continue to be conservative when it comes to their finances, opting to pay down existing debt rather than investing to grow. The news follows the Bank of England’s Trends in Lending Report which reveals that lending to UK companies contracted by about £4.5bn in the three months to May, compared with the previous year. Nick Dodd, director in debt advisory at KPMG in the North West, said: “Many lenders are of the opinion that while they have capital to deploy, corporates are not looking to borrow – a position which our research, in part, supports. We are seeing examples of companies in the region delaying capital expenditure and investment decisions until, amongst other things, they have better visibility.” KPMG’s research also found that 37% of North West business leaders believe that the banks are lending but that it is harder to borrow compared with previous years. Mr Dodd added: “Bank liquidity remains constrained and there continues to be a polarisation in appetite to lend. “Borrowers with strong credit stories are being aggressively fought over, while those with poorer models are finding securing finance a real challenge.”

on the move ■

WIRRAL-based conveyor manufacturer Sovex has promoted Mike Williams to national service manager after a recent spate of contract wins. Mr Williams has been with the firm for five years as an account manager. His focus will be to grow the service and maintenance side of the business and manage the six-strong team of technical advisors, 24/7.

Managing director David Lindfield said: “Servicing and maintenance is a key part of our business which has grown significantly over the last two years. It’s also satisfying to promote someone from within the business to such a prominent role.”

ment of Craig Hopwood as senior corporate banking manager. A qualified chartered accountant, he started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and has a broad background in corporate finance, banking and private equity in the North of England.

HSBC has expanded its leverage portfolio management team in the North with the appoint-

LIVERPOOL-based Pavis Financial Management has signalled its growth ambi-

tions with the appointment of a new director. Quentin McCormick, 44, a chartered financial planner with more than 17 years’ experience advising individual and commercial clients, has become the firm’s third director, alongside technical director Julie Calvert and managing director Bob Newton. Pavis advises clients on investments totalling more than £100m.

Mike Williams – steps up at Sovex

Craig Hopwood – senior role at HSBC

Quentin McCormick – takes up directorship


style post business 21

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The summer bash: a thing of the past or a worthy pursuit?

Joshua Taylor looks at the benefits of hosting office summer parties in the age of austerity

W

IDELY held is the belief that nothing lifts the spirits quite like a party and, with the recent spell of clement weather, it has been difficult to recall a better time to throw a summer bash. Work nights out have traditionally been the preserve of the pre-Christmas season, while summer is seen as the time for garden barbecues and family holidays. But in these straitened times, can employers give their staff a mid-year morale boost by organising a summer party – whether an extravagant affair at an exclusive location or a few bottles of beer one evening at the office? Karl Dolan, who makes his living organising events as a director of Liverpool-based Orion Party Architects, certainly thinks the office summer party is making a comeback. “Everyone seems a little more optimistic,” the former Mersey Television producer said. “Forward-looking companies are realising in times of austerity that you have to go the extra mile to maintain the feel good factor among your workforce and clients. “Summer parties are a good way of telling workers that we are going through difficult times but that they are still valued members of staff. “Parties are also good because you can invite along clients and it says something to them about the kind of organisation you are. “It’s very easy to say no because cash is tight, but forward-looking busi-

Karl Dolan, left, and Charlotte Winby, from events organisation company Orion Party Architects nesses realise hospitality is also about sending out a positive message.” Mr Dolan said office summer parties do not need to be fancy occasions and said staff often appreciate the sentiment of a more low-key do. “Thursday is a good night for an

office party or corporate event,” he said. “The whole workforce will still be in town. Fridays are a bad night to invite clients. However, Saturday afternoons can be a good time. “Corporate hospitality events have historically been golf days or days at

the races, but these sometimes aren’t very personal to the company. They’re the sort of thing anyone could do that doesn’t say much about your business. “People are increasingly wanting to do something with their company’s stamp on it. Something unique.”

Wildlife protection ■

IN light of the recent sunny weather and a busy few weeks of summer events ahead, the Royal Horticultural Society has offered tips to property owners to help protect wildlife. The organisation said many species were at risk, including some of the common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees. The society said companies that owned property with land could do their bit to help nature. “Part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wildflowers in the countryside that has occurred,” the society said. It said businesses with land next to or around their property could plant shrubs or small trees to help insects by providing food as well as shelter, create a pool of water to attract a variety of forms of wildlife, leave a pile of dead wood for specialist insects such as beetles, and allow grass to become slightly longer then usual. The horticultural society said even an inverted bin lid that collected rainwater would go some way to helping wildlife. The society gave the advice ahead of this weekends flower show at Tatton Park in Cheshire. A display garden entitled The Dirty Stop Out’s Garden, created by Southport-based Outside Influence and Greenbelt Landscapes, will be on display at the show. It will use a green roof to provide shelter in Tatton Park’s gardens, as well as an additional habitat for foraging bees and butterflies.

past business – nostalgia

Island leaders shared their ‘profound concern’ over Tate & Lyle closure THE closure of Liverpool’s Tate & Lyle refinery was a tragedy for hundreds of workers and their families in the city – but it also sparked fears from the tropics to the South Pacific. The sugar giant announced in January 1981 that it planned to shut its Liverpool plant, which employed some 1,500 people. Tate & Lyle had been refining imported cane sugar in Liverpool since the 1870s. But, a century later, Britain had joined the EEC – and its agricultural polices favoured home-grown sugar beet. The UK and the EEC were bound under the Lomé Convention to import specific volumes of cane sugar at guaranteed prices. But the Liverpool closure meant that there would be less cane sugar refining capacity in the UK – and that, the archives of the Margaret Thatcher

Foundation illustrate, was of great concern to cane producing nations. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, wrote to Mrs Thatcher on behalf of cane sugar supplying countries to express their “profound concern” at the refinery closure. He noted: “The quantity of cane sugar imported from the present Lomé countries into Britain has not increased for 15 years. In the last six years British beet sugar has increased its share of the UK market from 26% to 49%. “This is the reality against which I and my colleagues view with deep concern the impending closure of the Liverpool refinery. “If implemented this will mean the reduction...of our fundamentally static quantity in favour of the expanding UK sugar beet industry and of imports of white sugar from

other EEC countries.” Sir Seewoosagur added: “I am not unmindful of the serious problems that may be caused for those now employed at the Liverpool refinery but I think it proper to restrict the subject matter of this letter to the concerns of the supplying countries.” Sir Kamisese Mara, the Prime Minister of Fiji, also wrote to Mrs Thatcher. He said: “The future economic well-being of Fiji is directly dependent on the maintenance of our traditional sugar market outlet in the UK.” Mrs Thatcher replied to both leaders to say that the UK remained “fully committed” to the Protocol. And, sadly, the refinery closed its doors that April – adding to the “serious problems” the battered economy of Merseyside was already facing. ALISTAIR HOUGHTON

Demolition work at Tate & Lyle, Liverpool, 1985 Inset, Margaret Thatcher


22 post business end piece

Thursday, July 25, 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

TIME was getting on and the 700 guests crammed into a sweltering St George’s Hall last Wednesday night were starting to feel the heat in their black tie suitage and

impressive ball gowns. The occasion was the University of Liverpool’s celebration of its honorary graduates and the 10th anniversary of its esteemed Management School and Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Howard Newby was mindful of time constraints as he took to the stage for his address and round-up of the previous year. To much relief he

announced: “You all know the ‘London to Brighton in four minutes’ film, well, this is going to be August to July in two minutes.” Thus, he set off, and included in his musings the university’s involvement in the CERN scientific project in Switzerland, betraying an apparent diverse opinion on the existence of the Higgs Boson ‘God particle’. “Detectors built in Liver-

pool for the important Large Hadron Collider make it possible to detect the alleged – and it still is alleged – Higgs Boson.” He later spoke of a range of multi-million pound refurbishment work at the university, particularly the Student Guild: “It is the oldest Student Guild in England,” he said. “Only Edinburgh is older – and it looks it.” Ouch.

‘Skiing is like Marmite – you love or hate it’ myday off Chris Bliss is estate director at Liverpool One and has a passion for skiing

I

ONLY discovered skiing when I reached my thirties, but I like to think that I’ve made up for it since then. Skiing is a huge part of my life. It was very much a case of something good emerging from something bad. I was going through a divorce, around 15 years ago and I wanted to focus my energy on a new pastime. A couple of my friends, who liked to go skiing, urged me to join them on a trip to the French Alps. It’s not something I had really considered before then, but I thought ‘why not?’ and joined them on the slopes. The first few days, as you can imagine, were quite difficult; you can’t expect to strap on a pair of skis on and immediately be Ingemar Stenmark! When I first started skiing, I received a sage piece of advice; give it four days before you give up. Skiing can be something of a ‘Marmite’ activity and by the end of that time, you’ll have a very good idea whether you love it or hate it. I caught the bug very quickly and fell in love with the sense of freedom that comes with being on the mountains. Though it was a difficult personal time, in another way I was in a very fortunate position. Flights from Liverpool to Geneva were very affordable, if booked in advance and I had friends who I could stay with in the Alps. This meant it was possible to get out there fairly regularly and, by timing my holidays, I could enjoy up to 40 days of the ski season. I really threw myself into skiing and practised as much as I possibly could, spending all day on the slopes. With so much practice, I developed as a skier quite rapidly. The ability to go where you want in

Chris Bliss, estates director at Liverpool One, with fiancee Becki and daughter Kristelle on a recent skiing trip the mountains becomes addictive, as does discovering breathtaking scenery. Within about two years I had graduated to being able to ski off-piste, which opens up a whole new range of slopes. The feeling when you find a stunning new vista is incredible; it’s like being the first man on Earth. While the adrenaline rush of back country skiing is great though, I still love coasting on the blue slopes (intermediate routes). Skiing is a very universal activity and skiers are generally a very welcoming, tight-knit group. I’ve made some absolutely wonderful friends on the slopes, and that alone has made it all worthwhile. I think there is a perception that it is an expensive hobby. However, I find that if you plan your trip well and in advance, it is no more expensive than an average family holiday to a beach resort. I’d recommend it to anyone, particularly families. When you are on the slopes, you see whole families having fun together; from small children to pensioners. Everyone can spend real quality time together without any intrusion or reliance on modern technology. I go skiing with my 18-year-old son Michael, fiancee Beki and our eight-month-old daughterKristelle. The beauty of skiing is that my son and I can go off on some of the trickier inclines while Beki and Kristelle have a wonderful time playing in the snow

and padding around on snow shoes. Unlike me, my son started at quite an early age so is very accomplished now. We plan to get Kristelle started on the very basics in about a year’s time and I’m sure she’ll be flying past me before she’s finished primary school! Along with getting to spend lots of time with my family, I love going to the Alps, as it gives great downtime and allows you to put the challenges of work into perspective. As well as being a great activity physically and mentally, there are lots of skills that are transferable between skiing and my work life. As a ‘senior’ skier, I sometimes lead people on trips off the slopes to try out more remote locations. In these situations, it is absolutely vital to have strong leadership skills, a clear sense of where you are and remain calm if things don’t go to plan; it may start to get dark earlier than expected, or the weather may take a turn for the worse. Leading groups in these scenarios has stood me in great stead for the challenges of my role, as estate director at Liverpool ONE. I am very fortunate to be able to follow my passion while spending time with my family. The environment, activity and the community are all incredible and I’m delighted I started skiing when I did. Now, I just need to persuade Liverpool ONE to bring a ski slope to the #IceFestival this winter!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

end piece

post business

23

networking

City Wine Bar & Kitchen in Old Hall Street

University dinner LIVERPOOL University held a St George’s Hall dinner to celebrate its honorary graduates last week. In attendance were former Liverpool JLA head Neil Pakey, pic-

tured, left, with former Liverpool One project chief Rod Holmes, and above, from left Julie Johnson, of Morecrofts Solicitors, and Colin Ling and Di Burbidge of Chinese Wellbeing.

heart of the city’s business district. Pictured, from left, From left, Cathy Elliott of the CF foundation, John Pitchford, Barclays, Bill Doherty Hill Dickinson and Karen Fitzgerald, CF Foundation

Q What is your favourite dish and why? A Fillet steak with hand-cut chips, pepper sauce and a rocket salad. I like simple, good-quality food.

Entrepreneurs bloom

BUSINESS support agency Blue Orchid held at networking event for fledgling entrepreneurs at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Chambers. Dozens of start-ups attended the Making Business

business diary FRIDAY, JULY 26

CHARITY Daisy UK is hosting a ‘Disability Hate Crime’ training course at Brockman Hall, 1B Snaefell Avenue, Tuebrook, from 10am until 3pm, with registration between 9.30am and 9.45am. The accredited course costs £20 per person, including refreshments and a lunch, as well as information packs and certificates. It aims to provide the information and knowledge to address disability hate crime by understanding and recognising incidents of disability hate crime and methods of

intervention and support mechanisms. To book a place email info@daisyuk. com or call 0151-220 2319. Places will be reserved on a first come, first served basis.

MONDAY, JULY 29

THE Federation of Small Business (FSB) Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan is staging its free Beermat Monday networking event at The Bridewell, in Liverpool’s Campbell Square, Argyle Street, from 6.30pm until 11pm. On offer will be a free pint of ale – in the form of either three 1/3rd pint tasters or

Heather Cassidy, boss of Confidential Matchmaker Q What is your favourite lunch venue? A City Wine Bar and Kitchen in Old Hall Street, Liverpool. I love the decor, the beautiful mirrors and lights against the rustic feel of the wooden sides. It has a really nice atmosphere, the staff are great and make a fabulous cocktail.

Drinks on the terrace BARCLAYS Corporate in Liverpool held an afternoon summer drinks event at its offices in the city. A number of local business people attended the event, held on the 11th floor of 20 Chapel Street in the

my favourite lunch

just a single pint – on presentation of a Beermat Monday Eventbrite ticket. The pub serves a wide range of drinks, including locally-sourced cask ales, British, continental and global lagers, ciders, spirits and cocktails. Beermat Mondays have no dress code and are open to anyone. For further information and to book in, please visit http://fsb beermatmonday-es2.event brite.com/?rank=12#

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1

THE Hollywood Bowl 10-pin bowling site on Edge Lane Retail Park is hosting a corporate preview night between 7pm and 9pm, offering a free game of

Work session and heard inspirational stories from those already enjoying business success Pictured, left, is Peter Smith of Blue Orchid with Teresa Smith of Change Beyond Belief.

bowling and a sample of the corporate food packages it provides for company nights out. Its team will be available to answer any questions and discounts will be available for companies that would like to use its facilities for their corporate night out or event.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1

A ‘Call for Sites Meeting’ is taking place at the offices of St Helens Chamber of Commerce. Open to chamber members only iIt is the start of the process for St Helens Site Allocations looking to 2026 and beyond. Because of identified development needs the council must source more

Q What is the best bit of business you have done over lunch? A I like to get to know people I work with so I do a lot of networking and business over lunch, so from signing up partner companies for our confidential gold rewards card for our members to meeting some of our clients who wanted to speak with us before joining, I love speaking with people and the ability to offer a personal service when required. Q Who would you most like to have lunch with?

land for housing and economic development including, for the first time, analysis of sites within the Green Belt. It is the opportunity for landowners and businesses to submit sites they wish the council to consider for development uses in the future. St Helens Council particularly wants to hear from businesses who wish to expand but can’t find the sites or where the site is constrained by the Green Belt. The meeting starts at 8.45am and will feature a presentation from St Helens Council on the purpose of the Call for Sites and the timetable for this work. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and receive a briefing

Heather Cassidy A I would love to have lunch with Cilla Black and Paddy McGuiness to come up with a dating show that created real couples and not just dates to last one weekend. Q Where else do you like to go for lunch? A Anywhere with great food, friendly service and attractive decor such as Lounge 10 in Manchester and Olive Bar and Restaurant in Liverpool.

on the process of putting forward a site anyone wishes to suggest for development, and to have an individual appointment with a council officer to discuss a proposed site. To book call 01744 742028 or email events@sthelens chamber.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6

STRIDING Out is staging a ‘Tweet Or Not To Tweet’ presentation, at £75+VAT, which examines how to make the most out of this social media opportunity. The organisation offers free and subsidised coaching support to young entrepreneurs and can work in one-to-one, or group coaching opportunities.To

book on, or learn more, contact: Donna@striding out.co.uk

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9

WIDNES-based chartered accountants Holland and Co is extending an invitation to a free Hawaiianthemed networking night with Hawaiian food and drink at its offices at 102-104 Widnes Road. The event runs from 5pm to 7pm. Proprietor Nigel Holland said places can be booked by calling or emailing on 0151-420 6666 or info@hollandand company.co.uk ■ Send your diary events to neil.hodgson @liverpool.com


24

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Royal Birkdale

JULY 25TH - 28TH 2013

Fred Couples Winner 2012 Senior Open Championship

Over 30 Major Champions expected including

Bernhard Langer Tom Lehman Mark O’Meara Tom Watson Ian Woosnam

Tom Watson

Colin Montgomerie

For ticket and hospitality opportunities, please contact:

0800 023 2557 or www.senioropengolf.com


Post Business - 25th July 2013