M O N T H LY R E G I O N A L B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E
BUSINESS w w w . l d p b u s i n e s s . c o . u k August 2012
A clear path to growth
Liverpool skincare entrepreneur Sharon Hilditch plots global expansion
● New frontier: Higgs Boson is the business ● The Knowledge: City’s bright sparks ● Suits and boots: Business of sport 1
Pensions conference to generate £500,000 for Liverpool
LIVERPOOL POST EDITOR Mark Thomas 0151 227 2000
BUSINESS WRITERS Bill Gleeson 0151 472 2319
How the Higgs Boson discovery could be a boost for business
Tony McDonough 0151 330 4918
Is sporting hospitality now an extravagance for corporates?
Alistair Houghton 0151 472 2449
Sharon Hilditch, founder of Crystal Clear International
21 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Merseyside’s knowledge economy demonstrates its economic value
Neil Hodgson 0151 472 2451 neil.hodgson @liverpool.com
HEAD OF IMAGES Barrie Mills
26 HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
MARKETING EXECUTIVE Rachel Street 0151 227 2000
ADVERTISEMENT DIRECTOR Debbie McGraw
Yorkshire Bank backs city region specialist recycling firm
ADVERTISEMENT SALES Neil Johnson 0151 472 2705
Launch of new members’ suite
30 INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Mole Group looks to double sales of its water-saving valve
Diana Griffiths diana.griffiths@ trinitymirror.com
0151 472 2311
Cheshire & Warrington markets show resilience in tough times
35 BUSINESS LUNCH
Hanover Street Social
PHOTOGRAPHY Trinity Mirror PUBLISHED BY Trinity Mirror NW2, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L69 3EB.
Key dates for your diary
TELEPHONE 0151 227 2000
FAX 0151 330 4942
Alistair Houghton has a Big Chip on his shoulder
38 SOCIAL DIARY
Carolyn Hughes out on the town
WE ARE knowledge economy heavy in this edition – and so we should be. In part, we are celebrating the fabulous discovery of the Higgs Boson by a massive multi-national team of scientists that includes a big contingent of particle physicists from The University of Liverpool. In both the Big Feature and the Economic Development sections of this edition of Post Business, we examine the huge scale of the economic and business opportunities offered by all branches of science. The application of scientific breakthroughs is nothing new. It has being going on since before the wheel was invented, the North
Post Business is printed monthly and distributed with the Liverpool Post. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher.
26 BILL GLEESON west’s industrial revolution was founded on it, and some of the region’s biggest businesses are deeply dependent on science and technology. Examples include Airbus, BAE Systems, Unilever, Ineos Chlor, Astra Zeneca and many others. They are, of course, all big multi-nationals. I suspect, however, that the big firms aren’t going to have the field to themselves. As with the advent of computing, when
Microsoft and many other firms started from scratch, there will be new opportunities for enterprising scientists to make their fortunes. We take a close look at molecular biology. This area is bursting at the seams with exciting potential, whether that be in human health or crops. This sector is already big, but it is going to get exponentially bigger as regenerative medicine discoveries gather pace. This is the area that our region’s economic planners must focus on if they are to give us half a chance of competing for our share – and
perhaps more than our share – of future economic growth. If the region’s leaders channel their attentions into staking a claim in this field, then we can’t go wrong. We do have to compete with other more established locations in this country and abroad that already have big reputations to support them, but so be it. Of course, there are huge social and economic challenges arising from bioscience breakthroughs. We are not just tinkering with mechanical devices or wires here. Instead, we are playing with the stuff of life. We will
be capable of not just enriching ourselves, but also leading longer and healthier lives. These challenges include how we pay for healthcare, who gets access to what might be costly treatments, how long we work for and at what age we should retire. It is not impossible that people alive today will find their retirement age is extended several decades beyond where it is presently. These are not challenges we should shrink from. Instead, we must make it work. What would be the use of science if we are going to be intimidated by it?
BILL GLEESON 3
New jeweller aiming to shine in Bling Building
Matt Case – bringing more bling to Liverpool
JEWELLER Russell & Case is to open a city store in ground floor space of Herbert’s Bling Building on Hanover Street. The venture is set for a September launch and will be headed by jeweller and general manager Matt Case. The aim is to bring unique, contemporary and fine jewellery pieces from emerging and established designers to Liverpool. Items, ranging in price from £300 to £30,000, have been sourced from across the globe and many pieces
are either one of a kind, or completely exclusive to Russell & Case. They will include designers such as Leyla Abdollahi, Sarah Ho and Vendorafa, as well as watch brands such as U Boat, Nomos Glashutte and Meistersinger and the world’s most luxurious watch winder boxes, Scatalo Del Tempo. Mr Case said: “We have two aims. To showcase beautiful and exciting pieces and to offer a refreshing approach to a personalised client experience.”
Conference considers topical pension issues LEADING financial conference, to be held at Liverpool’s Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre in October, will generate more than half a million pounds for the local economy. More than 1,300 delegates will attend the National Association of Pension Funds annual conference and exhibition between October 17 and 19, which features leading TV presenter, particle physicist and former pop star Prof Brian Cox as its keynote speaker. The conference theme is “better pensions for tomorrow’s savers”, and will include an address on the opening day from Lord Mandelson, former Labour business secretary and EU Commissioner, who will speak on “Politics, power and the economy: what next for Britain and the EU?” Other notable speakers during the course of the conference include Steve Webb, Minister of State for Pensions, Gabriel Bernardino, chair of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, and shadow Pensions Minister Gregg McClymont. With UK pensions at a turning point, delegates will consider a range of topics during the three-day conference. Auto-enrolment for businesses will kick off in October, the depressed global economy continues to stress pension schemes, and the EU is getting more and more involved in pensions policy. Organisers say that, with topical sessions and a line-up of high-profile speakers, their annual conference will get to the heart of all these important issues. With more than 1,300 pensions professionals in attendance, the conference is the UK’s biggest pensions event and should generate at least £530,000 in revenues for the city.
TV presenter Prof Brian Cox – keynote speaker at the event
Michael Sandys, Partner, QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter WHAT’S in a Name? THE business and trading name you choose for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make, and it will impact upon the growth and development of your business going forward, as well as in the development of one of the primary assets of your business. This is relevant to any type of business, whether a company, partnership, LLP or sole trader. The name you choose will also have intellectual property rights appertaining to it. It could be registered as a UK or Community trade mark – if distinctive enough. You may wish to embellish the name by placing it in or as part of a logo design (prime examples being Boots and McDonald’s). This could lead to registering both the name and the logo design as separate trade marks in a designated class (relevant to your business sector). The logo design will also have copyright in it and the colours and design employed can be just as important as the actual name/word itself. Registering a domain is one of the first steps you will take as a new business and the domain(s) will include your business name. If successful, you may later consider licensing your trade mark and brand to a third party, whether by way of a formal franchise arrangement or a looser licensing arrangement (such as with QualitySolicitors). Brand power is king in commerce and protecting your business name, get-up and design from the outset is important, and especially before someone else gets there. The name will also need to be checked before it is used
commercially, so as to ensure that you do not fall foul of any regulations/laws, whether in terms of the Companies Act 2006 or in placing you in a position of being accused of “passing off ”. Your name should therefore be distinctive, memorable and as far away from any look-alikes or similar names as possible. It is worthwhile checking by looking at Companies House and the UK Intellectual Property Office for similar names, and also undertaking an internet search on Google and through Yell.com Certain words and expressions need special clearance such as the use of the word “bank” or any word that connotes a connection with Her Majesty’s Government or a local authority. If you wish to use the word “Charity” in your name, you need clearance from the Charity Commission. If you do chose a name that is similar to another business and you are providing similar services/ products to the marketplace, you lay yourself open to a passing-off claim, which could be costly, and if you lose/concede you will need to re-brand at some expense. Objections to a name can also be made to the Companies Names Tribunal which is operated by the UK Intellectual Property Office.
‘Brand power is king in commerce – so protect your name’
■ IF YOU require any assistance with trademark and copyright issues, contact Michael Sandys (Partner) at Jackson & Canter QualitySolicitors on 0151 282 1700 or by emailing to michaelsandys @qualitysolicitors.com ■ IN ASSOCIATION with QualitySolicitors Jackson and Canter
In Business for your Business
Developing Apps for the iPhone and iPad Two three-day courses Tuesday 4th-6th Sept and Tues 11th-13th Sept 2012
Introductory Level Programme Developing iPhone & iPad Applications 4th- 6th September 2012 Course overview
This successful short course provides hands-on experience of developing commercial software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch platforms. It has been designed to give developers an introduction to the main views, interfaces and hardware capabilities of Apple’s mobile devices, as well as using development and debugging tools.
What will the delegates learn?
By the end of this course, delegates will have an understanding of: • The iPhone App lifecycle, and the underlying event model • The model view controller design pattern and its use in application software development • How to present textual, graphical and multimedia data through a graphical user interface • How to design applications that display various screens in different ways.
Advanced Level Programme Developing Data Focused iPhone & iPad Applications 11th-13th September 2012 Course overview
This short course provides hands-on experience of developing commercial software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch platforms. It has been designed to give developers a more in-depth understanding on how to develop data driven applications and how to store and present information on Apple’s mobile devices.
What will the delegates learn?
By the end of this course, delegates will have an understanding of: • App storyboarding and the use of Segues. • Local data store and supported file formats. • Core Data, data modelling and search. • Customised tables and data presentation. • Pulling data from external sources using HTTP. • Parsing data formats such as XML and JSON.
Booking / Further Information Standard Price - £400 for one course or £750 for both To find out more about these courses/to book your place visit:
www.liverpool.ac.uk/cpd or contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)151 795 4269 A MEMBER OF THE RUSSELL GROUP
Moose poised to double in size Moose owner Nick van Breemen – has ambitious plans for the chain
Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
American-themed cafe chain to open two new outlets
A MERSEYSIDE cafe chain with an American/Canadian diner feel is set to double in size over the next three months. Moose Coffee currently operates two outlets – in Liverpool city centre and Crosby. Now director and founder, Nick van Breemen, plans to open another Moose in Liverpool and also one in Manchester. He was approached by property firm Downing to open a outlet in Hope Street as part of its development of Federation House. And he is also working with another property firm, Bruntwood, to open a Moose in Manchester’s York Street, close to Piccadilly Gardens.
Mr van Breemen said: “I think we have prospered as we offer something unique and a product that is wrapped in a strong brand. “The American and Canadian breakfast brunch experience has developed quite a following, and I think this is due to its authenticity and product quality. “All our dishes are derived from the US following hours in diners and cafes in Manhattan and across the country. “I like to think we have improved on American classics such as grits, along with clever twists like the Liberty Moose, which we discovered in a cafe on Broadway in New York and consists of scrambled eggs with pesto.
“We simply added ham and toasted pine nuts. Our homemade pancakes have also become very popular, which we mix to our own special recipe.” Earlier this year, Moose was awarded a mark of five out of five for hygiene and management systems in Liverpool City Council’s Scores on the Doors campaign. Mr van Breemen added: “It is a very exciting time and we are grateful to friends and business mentors who are sense checking our growth plans against financial prudence, service logistics and product sourcing which will guide proposed expansion in Leeds, Edinburgh and London during 2013 and 2014.”
THE BIG FEATURE
Appliance of science
Elementary . . . an image of protons colliding
Picture: AP PHOTO/ CERN
BY BILL GLEESON
Whether it’s particle physics, materials or molecular biology, our region’s scientists hold the key to economic growth.
THE BIG FEATURE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 AST month’s announcement that the Higgs Boson particle has been effectively discovered has generated huge levels of interest and excitement in the media. It’s a major coup for the world’s scientific community, including those who were involved locally, with some of this region’s scientists playing a key role in the project. It is, in fact, one of many scientific projects that the region is home to that have huge potential to change life, society, business and economics either directly or indirectly. Fields of research that the region is strong in include new materials such as graphene and polymers, cosmology and astronomy and molecular biology. As with the space race, not all of these projects will necessarily produce a direct economic or social benefit, but they could generate by-products that could have a fundamental benefit. The space race of the 1960s is widely credited with producing huge leaps in computing science. Others, such as the work of molecular biologists who are trying to find new ways of treating disease, could directly create new £100bn-plus markets for healthcare. They could also throw up massive challenges for society, including how our economy and governments will pay for a population enjoying much greater longevity. We look at some of these other developments on the following pages. Particle physicist professor Philip Allport has spent a sizeable portion of his working life in Switzerland working at CERN (The European Centre for Nuclear Research) seeking to detect and prove the existence of the subatomic particle known as the Higgs Boson. Christened by some as the “God particle”, the Higgs Boson is seen by many as the missing link that fulfils the standard model of the universe. It explains why objects have mass and has caused some observers to say that physics has entered a new era. This elusive particle has been searched for by physicists ever since its existence was first proposed by Edinburgh University’s Professor Peter Higgs nearly half a century ago. Prof Allport was at CERN last month to be with other scientists involved in the project as they celebrated the success of the project. Just one week later, The University of Liverpool academic was to be found at Clatterbridge Hospital’s Oncology unit using his skills to detect and track proton particles used to treat cancer of the eye. The protons can be precisely targeted at the disease, but need to be tracked to ensure they don’t affect vital tissue nearby, such as the optic nerve. Otherwise, there would be a risk of causing the patient to lose their eyesight. Clatterbridge’s Douglas Cyclotron machine has treated more than 2,000 patients with a form of eye cancer with great success over 23 years. There are 40 similar facilities across the world with more planned,
Liverpool scientists helping with the search for the ‘God particle’, from left to right: Mike Wormald, Prof Philip Allport and Dr Tara Shears including here in the UK. Clearly, the construction of these machines will involve a close collaboration between universities and industry. Prof Allport led the University of Liverpool’s particle physics group until a year ago when he became the ATLAS experiment upgrade co-ordinator in CERN. ATLAS is one of the machines, built next to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, that seek to detect the presence of the Higgs particle. The university built a significant part of the ATLAS collaboration and its particle physics group is one of the largest in Britain alongside Oxford and Imperial. “The silicon array is a key
component in the ATLAS experiment and contributed to the detection and discovery of the Higgs,” said Prof Allport. As upgrade co-ordinator at the ATLAS project, Prof Allport is now in charge of planning for the next 15 years of operations at the Large Hadron Collider. The ATLAS experiment is one of two big general purpose detectors at CERN. Each is a collaboration involving over 3,000 physicists from 174 institutes and 40 countries. While nobody is prepared to say that the discovery of the Higgs Boson will in itself lead directly to new commercial applications in the near future, many suggest that this may happen in the
fullness of time. Prof Allport points to Michael Faraday’s discovery of electromagnetism in the 19th century that ultimately led to the use of electricity in every aspect of modern life. “One hundred and fifty years ago, people wouldn’t have foreseen how his discoveries might have been used, but the world around us today would look very different without him.” However, the CERN laboratory has resulted in some economically useful by-products and concepts, including the World Wide Web, grid computing and early touch screen technology. Prof Allport said: “There is not an accelerator technology in the world that wasn’t first developed
for particle physics applications. Clatterbridge’s cyclotron for proton therapy uses protons to destroy tumours. “We spend time to track high energy particles. What we are contributing is a way of monitoring the paths of protons produced by the accelerator as a way of diagnosing what the accelerator is delivering.” It is by no means without precedent for fundamentally theoretical science to eventually find wide applications. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has found its way into the global positioning system that feeds into the SatNavs used in many cars. Prof Allport adds: “The microelectronics revolution relies
THE BIG FEATURE
Sustainable future for consumers
University collaborates with producers of goods
THE University of Liverpool is collaborating with consumer goods and detergents giant Unilever and sugar producer AB Sugar to develop plant-based alternatives to petrochemical ingredients found in a wide range of personal care products. The work to develop more sustainable sources of raw materials that could be used in shampoos, cleaners, moisturisers and many other products will be carried out at the Centre for Materials Discovery, part of the University’s chemistry department, and Unilever’s research laboratories at Port Sunlight. The market for alternative chemicals is potentially huge. The research has been funded by a £2.8m grant from the Government’s £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund. The money will be used to build a micro-refinery at the university. Professor Andrew Cooper, who is leading the research, said: “Consumers don’t always realise that these products have some very sophisticated molecules in them based on oil, and therefore there is a long-term issue about sustainability.” Prof Cooper hopes to show that fast-growing plants, such as sugar cane, can offer a renewable source of alternative ingredients. “These products will still have to work and be every bit as effective, but without using the petrochemicals. It could also make the industry less of a slave to the cost of oil,” he added. “This is a big worldwide market. Companies like Unilever sell all over the world. If you can find ways to make these products with a lower carbon footprint, then
heavily on quantum mechanics, but the people who developed quantum mechanics weren’t dreaming of microchips.” Modern-day uses for quantum mechanics include the use of lasers in CDs, DVDs and lasers used in surgery. If society and business benefit from physics, has Britain invested enough in its university physics departments? Prof Allport said: “I think society benefits from having a broad mix of skills. “What is a shame is that, in the last 20 years, too many physics departments have closed and many of those that closed were those more focused on applied physics.
“That’s a real pity. “It would be good if there were more physics departments in the country. “The number of people wanting to study physics has increased significantly in the last few years. “There would be scope for more places.” Prof Allport says the increased interest in physics arises, in part, from the number of good scientific documentaries: “That level of good quality documentaries is something I haven’t seen since I was a teenager when we had Carl Sagan on telly. It’s doing a great service in attracting more students to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.”
Professor Andrew Cooper, director of the Centre for Materials Discovery – consumers don’t always realise that these products have some very sophisticated molecules in them that’s also a good thing.” Around £5.9m of RGF cash will also be used to build new research facilities for pharmaceuticals group RedX Pharma at the university’s planned Biocampus, and another £4.4m will be spent on its GAMMA project, which involves research into supply chain technology used in the aerospace industry. The university’s director of partnerships and innovation, John Flamson, said: “These exciting projects are evidence of the university’s strength in industry collaboration and will enhance the city region’s reputation as a leading centre for next-generation science.” Prof Cooper, who is head of the School of Physical Sciences, was been named as one of the top 100 materials
scientists in the world of the past decade. Compiled by the Times Higher Education supplement, using data supplied by Thomson Reuters, the list placed Prof Cooper, who is also director of the university’s Centre for Materials Discovery, 95th in the world of researchers who achieved the highest citation-impact scores for papers published since January, 2000. He was one of only eight UK-based scientists to be featured in the top 100. Approximately 500,000 materials scientists were recorded in the journal publications indexed by Thomson Reuters, which means that those who made it onto the Top 100 list represent the top 1% in the field.
Biocampus to attract leading scientists A PLANNED £28m biocampus will bring 3,000 highly-skilled jobs to the city and make Liverpool a “centre of global excellence in biomedical sciences”, it has been claimed. It will concentrate on research and clinical trials and work closely with both the Royal
Liverpool University Hospital and the School of Tropical Medicine at the nearby university. The buildings will have 35 laboratories over five floors and will be open 24 hours a day. The city already plays a leading role in researching new treatments for diseases like
HIV and cancer, but the campus will help small companies trial and develop the drugs into finished products – keeping all the investment within the city and creating jobs. Experts working on the plans said the city is in a unique position because of the proximity of the
hospital and university, and the land which will be available when the old hospital is knocked down. A large number of construction jobs will be created, as well as research posts for scientists and doctors. Building work is expected to start on the biocampus in 2014.
THE BIG FEATURE UST as computers have developed over the last seven decades from the early machines used to crack enemy wartime codes to become the powerful supercomputers of today, scientists are now saying that the next big thing that will radically shape life, society, economics and business opportunities is molecular biology. While it is still relatively early days, many economists predict that bio-technology and life sciences will create a global industry worth hundreds of billions of pounds a year. Scientists’ knowledge of cells and genes predates many of the major breakthroughs in physics and chemistry, but it is only now that we are poised to truly understand how it all works, thanks largely to technological breakthroughs in recent years. Molecular biology is the study of biological processes at the smallest of scales – the very chemical mechanisms and molecules by which life is shaped and sustained. Central to molecular biology is the concept of protein synthesis – the process in which DNA acts as a template for the “stitching together” of proteins, the building blocks of cells. By understanding how these building blocks are produced and how they interact, it is possible to step in and take control of a wide range of biological processes – and there are an abundance of commercial opportunities that arise from the associated intellectual property. Enzymes are proteins that act as tiny factories involved in producing and obtaining the various other substances that cells need to survive and operate – hormones, vitamins, fatty acids, etc. Many of the inordinate number of chemical reactions that take place in cells would require vast amounts of time to occur, if at all, were it not for the help of these enzymes, and a different type of enzyme is required for each type of reaction. By regulating the rate of enzyme production, a cell can control what substances it produces in response to chemical stimuli. Being able to understand and alter the production of enzymes and other proteins therefore creates great potential commercial opportunities in a variety of areas, such as agriculture and human health. One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is food security – the global population is increasing rapidly and our ability to produce enough food is far from certain. Drought and disease can wipe out crops in a flash. One solution would be to grow crops that are more resistant to such perils by tweaking their molecular biology – grains that can make more efficient use of the nutrients needed to grow will be more productive in poor soils than grains which are less metabolically efficient. Livestock, such as fish, can be made to grow to much greater sizes than they otherwise would, again through the manipulation of the molecular mechanisms that regulate growth. Milk can be made more nutritious by incorporating
Prof John Hunt, at the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering at the University of Liverpool – if we can work out how to regenerate the body then we can expect to live much longer, say to 110
The time has come for
Professor John Hunt tells Peter Gleeson that molecular biology’s golden sections of DNA that lead to the synthesis of useful substances, such as those found in human milk. The potential applications of molecular biology in agriculture are limitless – if there is a way to improve productivity or nutritional content or any other commercially useful aspect of a crop or livestock species, then there is a molecular basis for achieving this. Medicine is another area in which molecular biology has numerous potential applications. Molecular biologists are rapidly furthering our understanding of the molecular basis of disease, and with that knowledge comes the potential to discover new cures and treatments. Professor John Hunt, a tissue engineer at the University of Liverpool, has been working on using adult stem cells to regen-
erate supplies of blood that can be used for transfusions, and he is cautiously excited as to what lies ahead. “Our fundamental paradigm is that stem cells exist all over the body, and we need to understand how these stem cells can be used to develop regenerative medicine. “There are populations of stem cells in your body that are active and that could keep you fit and healthy through life – we just haven’t worked out where to find them or how to use them correctly yet,” he said. “The process of getting old is a result of disease and collateral damage that accumulates over a life time – if we can work out how to regenerate the body then we can expect to live much longer, say to 110.” However, Prof Hunt warns that such an improvement in life
expectancy would have huge economic consequences that society is not ready for. “Ethically and financially, society has to come up with a different model. If we live longer, we will all need more healthcare. It turns on whether we can live longer and remain independent – if not, then it is really not something we can afford.” Although wary, he is still optimistic about the future with regards to the potential of regenerative medicine. “I’m not interested in people living for longer, because we simply can’t afford it – but I do want people to live healthier lives. That is very much how I want to make a difference. “This is the time of biological sciences; regenerative medicine is going to come along and revolutionise medicine as we
know it. The most exciting potential for that kind of research is in the neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc. That's the big one for us – as you age, if you can keep control of your faculties and mind you can age better. Then we would be really talking about healthy ageing.” Prof Hunt is keenly aware of the ethical issues surrounding the field: “It keeps me awake at night,” he says. “It is awesome, but it creates all sorts of problems which are not scientific, and which I don’t have answers to.” Fortunately, impact plans are a compulsory part of all research applications to UK and EU research councils. The ethical and economic consequences that would arise should their work be successful must be taken into
THE BIG FEATURE Merseybio – home to many small firms in the life sciences sector
biological sciences in the UK
age has arrived and the sector is on the brink of becoming a £100bn-plus industry consideration when a scientist applies for research funding, and Prof Hunt reminds us that “it must be a realistic calculation.” What of the business and commercial opportunities? Do academics approach potential joint venture partners or investors, or do they have businesses constantly knocking at their doors? “It's a really vibrant, two-way street,” observes Prof Hunt. “It goes in both directions, but it is an area business has identified will increase in value. These are the times for the molecular biology sector. “What we are good at in the UK is inventing stuff, what we are bad at is exploiting it and making a living from it,” says Prof Hunt. One reason we might not exploit the potential of molecular biology might be due to the way
the industry is very much one of “high value but low volume”. Prof Hunt explains: “Because of cost effectiveness issues, large enterprises are not wading into this area, so smaller enterprises are stepping in.” Professor Hunt knows of “dozens of businesses in Liverpool and the North West”, and also from farther afield. He describes it as “an increasingly vibrant community”, and makes reference to Regener8 – a translational centre for regenerative medicine established by the N8 group of universities to provide a “bridge” between academia and industry. “One-third of the UK's life science-based industry is based in the North West,” explains Prof Hunt. Referring to his own work on red blood cells, which it is hoped
will result in the ability to make enough blood to prevent the need for blood donations, he said: “There is a lot of excitement and urgency that exists. There is no escaping it. If you succeed with this, you are going to make it on an economic scale measured in the billions. Many of the things we are talking about tackling move into that multi-billion dollar healthcare sector. “Just the global red blood cell transfusion market is massive. If you are going to provide an alternative to blood donors, then in scientific and business terms, there is no reason why you wouldn’t do it overnight – it's just a question of whether you can make them fast enough.” As well as the emerging field of regenerative medicine, there are other areas in medicine in which molecular biology is poised to
make a big difference. “Personalised medicine” involves the study of how individuals react differently to drugs. Although we share 99.9% of our DNA with each other, the differing 0.1% can have a profound effect on what protein building blocks are produced and hence an individual’s response to a drug. Technologies such as DNA microarrays and gene sequencing could give doctors a better idea about how a patient might react to a given dose of a drug, and enable them to alter their prescription accordingly. Some diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease and cancer can arise as a result of an error in an individual's DNA that leads to errors in protein synthesis and therefore cell functioning. By introducing working sections of DNA to the patient's cells, it is possible to
alleviate many of the effects of these diseases. Gene therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of SCID, a severe immuno-deficiency disease that is otherwise fatal, and gene therapies for cystic fibrosis and perhaps other conditions are making promising progress. The medical applications of molecular biology aim to correct what has gone wrong, and to do this requires a thorough knowledge of the precise conditions that constitute “right”. Such knowledge requires plenty of research and investment, and as a result, there are plenty of commercial opportunities in areas like bio-informatics and equipment manufacture. Molecular biology's golden age is visible on the horizon and is approaching rapidly.
THE BIG FEATURE
Manufacturing at the atomic scale
Graphene will become the most valuable substance of this century, reports NIALL McGARRY
THE age of atomic scale manufacturing is already with us. Graphene, one of the few one-atom thick, two-dimensional materials on our planet, is predicted to become the most valued substance of the 21st century. It will be used in a vast array of everyday products from the microchip in your phone to the lightweight alloy in your vehicle. Reported to be 300 times harder than steel, while also being lightweight, could also lead to the replacement of kevlar in bulletproof vests, or to make substantially lighter aircraft. The possibility of a strong, one-atom thick material was first proposed in 1947 by Phillip Wallace, but it was thought to be impossible to harness in a stable form after several experiments carried out in the 1970s and 80s. Then, just eight years ago, two University of Manchester professors stumbled upon graphene in the place they least expected to find it – on the sticky side of a strip of Scotch tape, after passing comment made by an associate of the two now Nobel prize winners. Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov subsequently received an investment of £50m in February of this year, funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This investment is hoped to keep the UK at the forefront of graphene research and establish the country as a new technology hub in Europe. The £50m has already led to the revealing of some prospective uses of graphene through projects carried out by both associates of the University of Manchester and corporate giants such as Samsung. Due to the thinness of graphene, it only absorbs 2.3% of light – making it barely over the border of transparent and translucent. This could lead to the development of a wide range of commercial applications, including cheap, crack-resistant and flexible touch-screens for computer monitors, televisions and smartphones. Researchers reported earlier this year that a working prototype of a graphene touch-screen had already been developed. This property of the
material may also pave the way for LCD “smartwindows”, which could render curtains redundant, or replace the glass used in the building of conservatories. If a layer of liquid crystals which scatter light is fixed between two electrical conductors made of graphene and a transparent material to create a window, it will be opaque. If a direct current is applied, however, the liquid crystals are aligned and light is allowed to pass through. Graphene is the most conducting material we know of – for both thermal and electrical energy. Potential uses could be the replacement of silicon in microchips, allowing electricity to flow faster and at higher frequencies. The lack of a “band gap”, a section of a material in which electricity cannot flow, means that researchers are sceptical about whether or not this will be a practical application. It is believed that a small electrical field will be able to be used in place of a band gap, to short-circuit the current when it is no longer needed to flow. These unique electronic properties result in graphene being measurably affected by just one molecule landing on it, creating highly sensitive gas sensors which could be used to detect biohazards and acts of biological warfare. New scanners that work similarly to X-ray machines may be developed to replace detection systems at airports and hospitals. The high frequencies graphene circuits can achieve are able to create Terahertz radiation, which can reveal hidden objects at airport security or external bodily injuries such as skin cancer. Terahertz radiation works in the same way as both X and Gamma radiation, but does not carry any of the harmful side- effects of its distant cousins. When asked about how important graphene would become, Professor Geim said: “I can only accurately predict the past, not the future. I would compare this situation with the one 100 years ago when people discovered polymers. It took quite some time before polymers went into use and plastics became so important in our lives.” Graphene has thousands of potential uses, and those outlined above are merely a precursor of what is to come.
The Liverpool John Moores University-built telescope in La Palma; and, inset, left, LJMU professor of cosmology, Chris Collins
Cosmology inspires down-to-earth innovations
TELESCOPES such as the Liverpool Telescope in La Palma, Spain, designed and built by Telescope Technologies (TT), have already had a massive impact on the local economy, it has been claimed. TT, the former subsidiary of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), provided the university with the automated two-metre telescope that now observes the stars from the Canary Islands. During the years that TT was an active telescope producer, it constructed a total of five two-metre research telescopes. The company still
employs a small number of people in Birkenhead after merging with Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Professor Chris Collins, Professor of Cosmology at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “Telescope Technologies has employed 40-plus people for several years.” Another small Merseyside business involved in telescope manufacture is Senar Precision Engineering, an advanced parts manufacturer based in Birkenhead. The company was recently awarded several contracts through LJMU’s Liverpool
Telescope Initiative, one of which was to provide hi-tech engineering services for the European Southern Observatory, the European organisation for astronomical research in the southern hemisphere. The family-owned business has specialised in highprecision engineering and machined components for the past 30 years, focusing on Computer Numerical Control machining (CNC), the procedure of engineering and programming a machine to automate certain processes, such as drilling a hole. Due to most
telescopes being automated in some way, CNC machining is vital to the industry. It allows the telescope to search the stars unassisted, meaning astronomers are able to focus on more demanding activities while the telescope is capturing images. This also allows the telescope to run overnight or for longer periods of time. Most telescopes have time slots that are allotted to groups that wish to hire it. The technology has optical and medicinal applications, including a new method for measuring large spheres and improving eye health.
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IN ASSOCIATION WITH
With Peter Mooney, head of employment law at ELAS
MOST of my staff use Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites. I’m a bit nervous about how they use it – what can I do to ensure they don’t put anything online that could drop the company in hot water?
YOU are very right to be concerned. Social media is a great way of spreading the word, keeping in touch and sharing information – but used wrongly it can destroy reputations in a matter of minutes. All businesses should implement a social media policy, setting out what is and isn’t acceptable online. There are a number of reputable companies, including ELAS, which can provide training for managers and HR officers to help them proactively take steps to avoid problems with social media and how to reactively deal with them when they occur. Social media training courses for businesses should cover topics like building and implementing an effective social media policy, educating staff about potential issues and how to avoid them, handling misconduct issues arising from social media use, through to employment tribunals and prosecution. Once established, all staff can then be made aware of the policy, and what steps their employer is likely to take it if it is not adhered to. Some of the issues raised by social media can be avoided by taking some simple steps. A surprising number of people still don’t have any security settings on their Facebook page which means they can be easily accessed
by the public – and, therefore, your clients. By asking staff to limit who can view their personal profile page, many problems can be avoided, without employers being seen as “clamping down” or being overbearing. Although Twitter accounts have some security settings, because of its very nature, to communicate openly, few people are keen to use them and, as some businesses have discovered, employees have a bad habit of “tweeting” negative comments about their colleagues or customers online. It is essential that staff are made aware that anything they post could potentially be seen by a client, or their boss. Social media policy doesn’t just relate to a business’s reputation, though. We have seen a significant rise in the number of businesses contacting us for advice about staff misconduct related to social media. Employers have discovered that staff members have pulled a “sickie” when the employee put, for example, pictures of a trip to Alton Towers on their online profile. An effective social media policy that clearly lays out the boundaries is the first step to ensuring your team is using social media responsibly. It should also give clear guidance on what is and is not acceptable when using social media, and state the penalties for breaching the policy. Above all, be consistent with the way you handle all social media breaches – just as you would with any other issue. ■ FOR further information, call the ELAS Advice Team on 0161 785 2000.
‘Businesses should implement a social media policy’
■ IN ASSOCIATION with ELAS
In these times of austerity, is corporate hospitality an CORPORATE hospitality helps oil the wheels of commerce and industry. Businesses keen to establish, or maintain, contacts and networks will use big sporting or cultural events as an opportunity to offer commercial partners, clients, or other organisations, the chance of some welcome “R&R” – or rest and recreation – to get to know each other better away from the pressures of the workplace. Most organisations will allot a specific budget for corporate hospitality, which can extend from either a box, or seats, at either Liverpool, Everton, or Tranmere, or sponsorship – and the associated benefits that go with it – of the arts, such as opera, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, or the city’s museums and galleries. However, in a recent Liverpool Post sporting round table, featuring several key figures in the spheres of sport and business, including former FA chief executive Brian Barwick, former St Helens Rugby League Club chief executive Sean McGuire, and Dr Rogan Taylor, of the University of Liverpool Management School, the view was expressed that corporate hospitality has now reached the stage where it may only have limited appeal for the “big ticket” events. Simon Walker, head of office at roundtable sponsor Cheviot Asset Management, went on to speculate that, in the current economic climate, firms may even be reassessing their corporate hospitality budgets. He said: “The corporate market is interested in headlines. You can always get a client to come along to Anfield or the British Open. “But you will struggle going beyond that. The tennis is quite hard to get bums on seats.” Cheviot opened its first office here outside London last year, and Mr Walker added: “We’re a relatively new business in the city with a limited amount of money to spend, and there are only relatively limited things to spend that money on, and I just wonder beyond those headline areas how can it work? Is it overpriced? “For secondary sporting events, you’re talking £200-£300 per seat.” He said corporate hospitality was not an essential part of Cheviot’s business. “You could split it into two compartments: a platform to get to know people for developing the business perspective; and with regard to existing contacts and clients and entertaining them. “But, nowadays, the more difficult conditions are, the more likely professional connections will be keen to be working on
their business than going out to football or the races.” He said the odd “freebie” might be an occasional treat, but, in today’s business climate, austerity was never far away. “There might be an element of people enjoying the distraction when they get there, but if anything is too lavish there
would probably be question marks, and quite right from clients and contacts, because at the end of the day it is the client who subsidises it.” He added: “We try and avoid anything too flash or lavish, especially in these times. “Clients would prefer us to make their money work for
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
‘freebies’ had their day?
unnecessarily flash extravagance?, asks Neil Hodgson Simon Walker, pictured at the Liverpool Post round table, questions the value of corporate hospitality, and says firms may be re-assessing their budgets Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD
them, rather than be out entertaining.” And while Mr Walker acknowledges that organisations, particularly cash-strapped cultural bodies, appreciate sponsorship and support, there comes a point when companies have to ask just what their return is. He said Liverpool has an
impressive collection of galleries and museums: “There’s a fantastic array of venues in Liverpool which we will be using in the coming years because there’s an element of supporting institutions, like galleries and museums. “We have also been pretty active in terms of supporting
charity dinners and golf days. We would do a 50/50 split on tables with partners or contacts. “But I think you can overrate corporate hospitality. “Do you get a pound for pound payback on these things, and I think it is pretty unlikely – you have to be open and honest on that.”
Brian Barwick, top, and Sean McGuire, above, at the event
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THE BIG INTERVIEW
More than skin deep BY TONY MCDONOUGH
Sharon Hilditch started her Liverpool skincare business, Crystal Clear International, 16 years ago – and now it is fast becoming a global brand
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . SHARON HILDITCH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 FEW years ago, Sharon Hilditch was at a trade fair demonstrating her Crystal Clear product range when she was approached by someone who asked “so where are you based?”. When she replied “Liverpool”, there was a look of shock on the questioner’s face. “But how can you be based in Liverpool?” came the eventual retort. “They couldn’t see why I wasn’t based in London or Paris, but I thought ‘Well, what is wrong with Liverpool?’,” said Ms Hilditch. Such is the confidence she has in herself, her business and her home city that she sees no issue with her decision to remain here despite producing products that appeal to the wealthiest people in the land. She added: “I thought about moving the business but Liverpool has great roots and is a great city to do business in, so I thought ‘Why would we need to move?’” So, from a modest headquarters in Liverpool’s Rodney Street, Ms Hilditch and her team plot global domination for a brand that can count some of the most famous women in the world among its list of devotees. Crystal Clear started off 16 years ago pioneering a skin care treatment machine offering something called Microdermabrasion, which uses crystals to gently exfoliate the outer layers of skin. Ms Hilditch pioneered the treatment after seeing people with horrendous side-effects from chemical skin peeling – once the favourite skin treatment of the well-heeled. Over the years, the machines have been followed by a range of anti-ageing skincare products, and Crystal Clear now operates across the world and is about to launch in China, having already established itself in Europe, Russia, Japan and the US. Its machines and products have traditionally been used in salons, but now Ms Hilditch is keen to push on and become a major high street brand with a new range of retail products. Microdermabrasion and oxygen treatment, meanwhile, has become known as the “skin care secret of the stars” thanks to its popularity with the likes of Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, Victoria Beckham, Amy Childs and the Queen of Pop, Madonna. However, it all started with former BBC newsreader, Jan Leeming. Ms Hilditch said: “In the very early days we had celebrities coming because they found our treatments so effective. “Our treatments are available at salons in London and across the UK in really nice places, and one, in particular, had a lot of celebrity clients. They want results and products that work. “I think the first celebrity we had was Jan Leeming. She was great. And then the biggest we had was Madonna. “There was a piece in a national newspaper asking ‘Has Madonna had a facelift or has she had Crystal Clear?’
“You cannot buy that kind of publicity – it was fantastic for us. We had someone using another product and it was sold off the shelf within two days.” Ms Hilditch acknowledges that the skincare market is “saturated”, but claims Crystal Clear has the edge because its principal architect is a woman. She explained: “I believe we are very different because most skincare companies have men behind them and what they are developing. “I always think that is quite strange because no-one knows better than what another woman wants than another woman. “I want to look younger and I don’t want to have lots of lines
and wrinkles or want my face to go south. That is why I put a lot of passion into skincare and develop products and machines that actually do work. “Everything that we develop, I spend a lot of time working with our chemists to get the product right, and not just because I want it to be a brilliant seller. “For example, when we were developing our body anti-ageing product, I had to make sure it contained the right amount of ingredients to actually have a firming effect on the skin. “As a woman my age, I want a product that will firm and tone and help my skin repair. “So everything in our range has been very much looked at.
“The range that we have contains a high percentage of active ingredients. “Magazines will write about skincare products and they will say it contains the very latest anti-ageing ingredient but when you look at the ingredient listing it may have just 0.001%. “In ours, we use a much higher percentage of ingredients. “All humans have a desire to stay younger. “That is why the anti-ageing market is massive – it is worth billions – and it is going to get bigger.” Ms Hilditch admits that, in common with many other businesses, Crystal Clear has had a difficult two or three years.
The economic downturn has led to people cutting back on the kinds of premium products and services offered by the business. “I think every business over the last three or four years has been affected by the downturn,” she said. “These have been trying times and you have to look at your strategy and decide on what you can do better. “The public doesn’t stop buying, but they buy less. “We still have a certain proportion of people who will still spend on good skincare. “I have had clients here who will say they are making their anti-ageing serum last longer. “So they are not stopping
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . SHARON HILDITCH Sharon Hilditch pictured in her Liverpool headquarters; and, insets, from top, Microdermabrasion devotees, Madonna; Kate, Duchess of Cambridge; and Jan Leeming Main and front cover photos: JAMES MALONEY
on the shelf. However, we will probably launch the new product on the QVC shopping channel, because that is a great medium to demonstrate how the products work. “We used QVC in the very early days and it was really successful for us because it helped us to get our name out there. “We came out of QVC because we were going in a slightly different direction with salons and I just wanted to concentrate on that. It is probably the right time now to go back to QVC. “Going forward now, we have got a plan. QVC is very much in that plan and there are other selected department stores that we will get back into by the end of the year. “I am a very positive thinker and we have a great new product launch and a great new machine launching to our salon market in October. “With those two products, that will give us a little bit of a boost. “Certainly, funding is an issue for salons, if they need to purchase product or equipment, but there are things we can do to help them with those purchases. They can pay us over time. “I think people are fed up of being told we are in a recession. And I think people are fed up of being told they cannot do this or that because of what is happening. I’m a great believer in the idea that we have talked ourselves into a recession. “Going forward, I am very confident. We have a three-year plan in place and I am very confident we will achieve our aims.” Ms Hilditch is clear that there will remain a distinction between products offered in salons and those being sent into the wider retail market. She added: “We have our professional range of products and machines that are only supplied to salons, but we also have a range of products that are for retail. “We are working on both fronts. “We want to regroup and go into department stores and different retail channels. “This is why we are building a new website to really refocus what we do.” S HILDITCH, a mother-of-two, started her professional life as a hairdresser at the tender age of just 11. ““I left school at 15, but I started work when I was 11 in a hairdressing salon,” she said. “I lied about my age and they thought I was a little bit older than I was. “I did my apprenticeship in hair and skin health through City & Guilds and went on to own two salons. “I had salons for about 10 years. Then I decided that, because I had left school with no qualifications, I wanted to go back and get some.” She enrolled on a law degree course at Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, but dropped out after the first year. She explained: “I always wanted to be a lawyer, so I went on the course part-time. “But I only lasted for a year. I
buying the products, they are just using them more slowly.” The downturn led to some costcutting and a retrenchment from some European markets – Portugal, for example. Ms Hilditch added: “We were selling products in House of Fraser stores but when the recession hit we had to look at the business and cut costs and employing staff in a store is very expensive. “And the stores are remote so you never know if the staff are turning up. “We had an incident in one store where a member of staff simply didn’t turn up for three days and we didn’t know until we got a call from the store manager.
“So at that time I decided to pull what we had and looked at our strategy. “I think we have ridden these difficult two or three years very well – we have cut costs and we are still making a profit. “We now employ around 30 people but not all here in Liverpool. Some are out on the road.” Despite the economic outlook remaining gloomy, Crystal Clear is now putting its head back above the parapet with an ambitious three-year growth strategy which includes the launch of a new skin treatment machine and other skincare products, including its latest anti-ageing serum, Lift Away
the Years, a face-lifting product being aimed at the high street market. About 18 months ago, the company had the opportunity to gets its products on the shelves of high street giant, Boots. But Ms Hilditch decided the time wasn’t quite right to go mass market. Some might say it was a brave call to make – Boots is the biggest outlet in the UK for the sale of cosmetics. She said: “Boots is a great medium through which to sell skincare products, but I’m not sure it was the right medium for us at that time. “We had a strategy meeting about 18 months ago where we got the sales team together. We said
‘OK, we have this opportunity with Boots and we have other opportunities?’ We employed a marketing company for the first time and we did some focus groups on the skincare. I just wanted to relaunch and to think ‘what do the general public actually want?’ “The feedback we got back from the focus groups was very encouraging. They said ‘You are a premium brand – is Boots right for you just yet? Maybe it will be right in another couple of years’. “I think for us to be in Boots then, we would have had to have had more of a high street presence prior to that, otherwise there is a risk we would be left with product
CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
THE BIG INTERVIEW . . . SHARON HILDITCH Sharon Hilditch shows off her Crystal Clear product range
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 had two businesses on the go and I think, in truth, my passion for the businesses was greater than for the law. I think I needed to prove to myself that, if I wanted to do it, then I could.” However, while Hilditch retained her passion for business, she had become less enthusiastic about hairdressing and sold both her Liverpool salons. It was then she decided to go into the skincare business, working for dermatologists at first here in the UK and eventually in Italy and Beverly Hills. “I was a bit lost and I wanted a different direction,” she said. “At the time, people were doing deep chemical peels and I found out about the complications that can come from that procedure. “I saw some patients and I though ‘Oh, my God, why would anyone want to take that risk?’ There were people with cold sores all over their skin. “That was when the idea for Microdermabrasion came. “If people go into a salon in this day and age, they want to get a treatment that works and they want to go away feeling great. “But, at the same time, they want it to be safe. “When I was in Italy, I saw a treatment similar to Microdermabrasion – blasting crystals at the skin but still taking off the skin layers. “Myself and my business
partner went to the University of Liverpool and they helped design the first prototype machine and we started the company from there.” However, getting started wasn’t plain sailing. She added: “The bank saw this young blonde coming in saying ‘Oh, we can make all this money’. “The bank manager just looked at me and said ‘No’. “I went to Merseyside Special Investment Fund, who initially turned us down, but one of their account managers – Rose Davies – really believed in what we were doing and so pushed it through. “She has sadly since passed away, but she was our saviour at that time. “I think our products are different because we come from a background of building skin treatment machines for salons. That was our core business – that is where we started. “The actual products came in about two years later.” ESPITE leaving school with no qualifications, education and helping young people has become a passion for Ms Hilditch. She says she is hugely proud that her 22-year-old son, Alan, has just completed his law degree and she has high hopes for daughter, Elle, 16. She got married last year to applied sports scientist Brian
McGorry and now has a stepson, Henry, aged five: “I think myself and Elle are very similar – I think she will run her own business. “One day she will buy and sell me,” she laughs. Despite running and growing Crystal Clear, Ms Hilditch is setting aside time to go into schools to talk to young people about opportunities in both education and business. She said: “I strongly believe education is so important because it gives you choices. “I am working with a company called Educating Me which is doing business mentoring in schools. “I want to go into some innercity schools and tell the kids that they do have a chance. “I think education is down to the teachers. “If you switch off, then you have lost the child. “Kids can do well if the environment is right. “I think we need more business people going into schools and let them see what the world is like – let them know they have choices. “I tell my daughter ‘You can be anything you want to be if you believe in it and you work towards it’. “We stopped talking about apprenticeships in this country for a long time, and I think that is the worst thing we could have done. “It was fine for the kids who wanted to take the academic route
and go to university, but what about the rest of them?” HE 16 years Ms Hilditch has spent building Crystal Clear have represented a steep learning curve for her. She admits she has made “many mistakes” over the years but also made some “great decisions”. She has also learned the art of stepping back and allowing other people the responsibility – something successful entrepreneurs often struggle with. “For me, this business has always been my third child,” she said. “But I did the letting go thing a long time ago. “For example, we now have a finance director on board – at one time, I would never let anyone have access to our bank account. Now she runs our accounts department brilliantly. “She has given me confidence to let that go and that was a major decision for me. “Now I have a great team in place and they don’t have to come to me with every little problem. I think there has been a natural progression towards that during that time. “I work from home a lot more. I still have a daughter at school so I like to be there when she comes home each day. “I will sit in bed with my lap-top and do emails or planning – this is not a nine-to-five job.
“The work-life balance is still a challenge. I got married last year so I have to nurture that relationship. However, he is a little bit like me so there are evenings when we are both sat there with our lap-tops.” Although Ms Hilditch is committed to expanding Crystal Clear, she can foresee a day when the business will be sold to a bigger player. She said: “In the next two or three years, we will have massive expansion plans. “In this industry, you have to keep innovating and coming up with new products, otherwise things can get stale. One of my strengths is that I love innovation. “I want to achieve so much more. I want us to be a high street player and a household name. “I think it is inevitable that we will be bought out. “Hopefully, I would stay on for a while. I don’t thin it will happen tomorrow – maybe not for a few years – but I think it will happen one day. “It would have to be the right deal. That might allow the business to grow even more. “I’ll never believe we are a success until I get where I want to get to in my head. “Until then I will say ‘Yes, we are doing OK’. “Other people will, of course, look at us and say Crystal Clear is a really successful business. “And, yes, we have been through some very difficult times and we are still here.”
The power of knowledge
Dr Neil Murray, of Redx, in a lab at Merseybio . . . Redx is to become the flagship tenant of the Bioinnovation Centre, in the Knowledge Quarter Picture: GARETH JONES
Alistair Houghton on how the Knowledge Quarter could drive Liverpool’s economic growth
T MAY not be immediately obvious as you climb the hill from Lime Street, but Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter could be the engine that drives the city’s economy forward in years to come. The district around the University of Liverpool and the Metropolitan Cathedral has long been a Knowledge Quarter in all but name, even though its official rebranding as such is recent. In recent years, developments such as Liverpool Science Park (LSP), life sciences incubator Merseybio and the new Liverpool School for Tropical Medicine building have helped raise the profile of the area and helped to promote Liverpool as one of the country’s leading science cities.
Meanwhile, both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University have been investing heavily in their buildings in the area. And life sciences firm Redx Pharma has become the poster boy for the city’s biotech sector, announcing plans to create hundreds of jobs in coming years. But it is developments at the Royal Liverpool Hospital that could have the biggest impact on the area in the coming years. As well as a new hospital to replace the current crumbling block, the £451m project will see the creation of a Biocampus that could potentially house dozens of biotech firms. The site could eventually house thousands of skilled workers developing pioneering and lifesaving medical treatments, and could generate
£100m a year for the city’s economy. The Government sees the knowledge economy as being crucial to the UK’s growth, while, locally, bodies such as Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) want to promote Liverpool as a life sciences hub. Last Year, regeneration body Liverpool Vision released a Strategic Investment Framework report for the Knowledge Quarter. The report described the area as “home to an arguably unrivalled concentration of knowledge economy assets within an urban centre setting”. The quarter has also been named by Liverpool’s new elected Mayor Joe Anderson as a Mayoral Development Zone. The biocampus promises an exciting future, but even now the
Knowledge Quarter is playing a key role – Liverpool Vision estimates it pumps hundreds of millions of pounds a year into the city’s economy. Alan Welby, executive director for key growth sectors at the LEP, says the knowledge economy is essential to Liverpool’s future. He said: “It’s vitally important that we position Liverpool as a city that can compete in the global economy in the future. “If we don’t create knowledge jobs and knowledge-based companies that can sell their products around the world, then we won’t compete, full stop. “That’s a challenge, but also a massive opportunity. The opportunity is there because we have a lot of smart people who can develop smart products based on innovation.
“We’ve got to make sure the city can capitalise on that. “We’ve identified that there could be 100,000 jobs in the next ten years in that market. “In the last two years, we’ve seen jobs in the life sciences sector growing by 40%. At a time when unemployment is rising, these firms are job creators.” Matt Biagetti, from Liverpool Vision, said: “It’s an area that’s going through a lot of change. It’s come a long way in a very short time. “The area was only named the Knowledge Quarter in 2005 or 2006. Before then, the economic value of the quarter wasn’t really recognised. “We moved very quickly from about 2006 and we’ve seen lots of
CONTINUED ON PAGE 22
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LIVERPOOL’S KNOWLEDGE QUARTER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 development such as LJMU’s Art and Design Academy, the Science Park, lots of investment by the universities, and public realm improvements in areas such as Mount Pleasant and Hope Street. “A lot of the investment has raised the profile of the area as well. Our work now is about ensuring that we retain businesses and attract new businesses to the area.” John Flamson, director for strategic partnerships and development at the University of Liverpool, said: “We’re seeing the Knowledge Quarter as part of the city where things happen, not just a place where you collect knowledge in departments or classrooms.” Merseybio, in Crown Street, is home to many small firms in the biotech sector. Geoff Wainwright, of Merseybio operator 2bio, added: “There is a knowledge quarter here, whether people outside Liverpool choose to believe that or not. “People in Liverpool should begin to recognise the long-term value that it brings to the city. It will not just create jobs for local people but will bring people back to the city. “The Knowledge Quarter is a very good thing because the knowledge economy is clearly an area where the UK still has a leadership position in the world.” One firm that has recently grown out of Merseybio in a blaze of publicity is Redx Pharma, which has just announced plans for its second spin-out company. Redx uses its own Redox Switch technology to chemically modify existing drugs to create new compounds. It won £5.9m from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) last year to back its plans for Redx Oncology, which will create drugs for use in cancer treatment. Chief executive Dr Neil Murray says that division will create almost 250 jobs over the next five years. And, just last month, Redx revealed it was bidding for more RGF funding to help it launch Redx Anti-Infectives. That division, which will develop drugs to combat superbugs such as MRSA, could create 119 jobs. Redx is currently housed in a University of Liverpool Building, but is set to become the cornerstone tenant of the £28m Liverpool Bioinnovation Centre – the first phase of the Biocampus. Dr Murray said: “There’s no question that the Knowledge Quarter is a good idea. “One of the things we like to promote as far as Redx is concerned is our links with the academic and clinical sectors in terms of our development programmes. “Our links to the academic side give us the science that’s coming next, while we have links to the clinical side in terms of what clinicians are looking for to improve the patient experience. “Having a Knowledge Quarter that brings all that together by locating companies close to centres of those activities is a very good idea indeed.” Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), long acknowledged as a world leader in its field, has grown rapidly since 2001 under the leadership of Dr Janet Hemingway. The school has won tens of millions of dollars in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Some of the key institutions and developments in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter Foundation to support research into tackling malaria. And, in 2008, it opened a state-of-the-art new home in Pembroke Place. Now the school is planning to grow again, taking on more researchers and bidding to win more grants to support its work. For Dr Hemingway, the expertise of LSTM should be at the heart of the Knowledge Quarter. She said: “I think to try to get the value-added, we have to think about what we do better than anyone else. “Every big university town wants to set itself up a knowledge
quarter. Everybody has medical and engineering faculties. Not everybody is going to succeed. “Where the value is in LSTM is that it’s distinctive. It’s the only place in the UK that’s going to do this. Liverpool has something that’s distinctive there. “For infectious diseases, for example, we want to be the world leaders. “If we’re going to become a Knowledge Quarter, at least it’s around an area where we have an advantage, not just the conjunction of having large universities there.”
KEY issue that will affect the area’s growth is its lack of lab space for growing companies. Merseybio houses early stage companies, but as they grow they need to leave for larger premises. If they cannot find space in the city, then they have to leaver the region – some 16 Merseybio graduate companies have had to leave the area to grow since 2004. For Mr Wainwright at 2Bio, the need for new lab facilities – such as those that will be provided at the Biocampus – is acute.
He said: “We have got a few labs, but we are now about to fill them. “You’ve seen what’s happening with Redx. That company will continue to grow. “I’ve been talking to one company today about their expansion in the next year. We want to retain the 50 or 60 jobs that will be created. “The future for the sector looks quite good. People are interested in Liverpool as a place. The problem we have comes back to facilities.” Mr Wainwright says that the
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LIVERPOOL’S KNOWLEDGE QUARTER
Knowledge Quarter’s stakeholders must also consider creating new business premises for companies outside life sciences. He said: “Within the knowledge quarter, while life sciences are quite visible, we’ve got to think about other areas such as digital, ICT and advanced manufacturing. We need to create lab space that’s suitable for those organisations as well. “A ‘wet lab’ space might suit a company like Redx because they’re in chemistry and biology, but you wouldn’t put a company in there with a lathe.
“In the Liverpool city region, particularly in aerospace and engineering, there are opportunities to manufacture a lot of high-quality products that cannot be duplicated easily en masse by other economies. “These products could be manufactured here as well.” 2Bio and other quarter stakeholders, including the hospital and Liverpool Vision, regularly discuss the need for lab space – and Dr Murray at Redx is confident the problem will be resolved. He said: “Lab space is an issue for the city as a whole.
Equally, the city is working very hard to address that. We’re very supportive of what they’re doing. “There’s no question that, if the ambition for the Knowledge Quarter is to be achieved, there needs to be a cohesive plan for bringing facilities onstream. “It’s very easy to say that, but it’s not so easy to achieve. We all know that with the recession it’s a challenging environment. It’s not a straightforward thing to do. “But there’s no question that the city needs more lab facilities. We hope the Bioinnovation Centre is the first step in that.
“There’s a lot of people working very hard to address this issue. “Potentially the biggest challenge facing the city will be delivering facilities to the right level of capacity and in the right time and place to support the growth of the Quarter.” Mr Biagetti, of Vision, added: “We’ve got the ability to spin out businesses and grow businesses within the biomedical sector, which is a great asset for Liverpool. “We have an incubator there in Merseybio, which is a great hub for growing businesses. The issue
is where they go once they’ve outgrown the space at Merseybio – it’s essential we retain them in the city. We do need more lab space in the Knowledge Quarter. The solution for that is the Bioinnovation Centre.” In time, the Biocampus will more than meet those needs. Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust estimates that the campus could house as many as 5,000 jobs. And it estimates that each job could be worth £70,000 to the local economy. Work on the campus will only begin once the new Royal Liverpool Hospital is complete, and the whole 2m sq ft development is not set to be completed until 2025. But the Bioinnovation Centre, which sits on the edge of the Royal’s land, is independent of the rest of the hospital programme. An application for European funding has been submitted and work is set to begin next year, with the centre due to open in 2014. The trust says the project “could put Liverpool on the map in terms of life sciences, up there with Boston and Singapore”. Meanwhile, Liverpool Science Park, owned by Liverpool City Council, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, is also expanding to offer more lab space and office space to knowledge economy firms. The park currently consists of two buildings next to the Metropolitan Cathedral. But plans are now well under way to build a third building, Innovation Centre 3 (IC3). It will include 30,000 sq ft of lettable space, and at least 10,000 sq ft will be given over to space for laboratories. The project has already won £3.8m of European funding and is now out to tender. LSP chief executive Chris Musson emphasised that ic3 was designed to work in conjunction with other developments in the area, such as the Bioinnovation Centre, and not to compete with them. He said: “It fits together perfectly. We have always looked to create a broad-based science park, some of which might be about life sciences – but it could be physical sciences, or computational experiments. I’m utterly agnostic – I want the broadest base possible in these three buildings. “The Biocampus is focused on life sciences. That’s brilliant, and we’ll support them with that.” Mr Musson is also keen to encourage small innovative companies by offering flexible office accommodation such as “starter pods”. He said: “We’re trying to create a real tangle of interesting companies that can work together and bounce off each other.” This month, some 50 researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health moved into laboratories in ic2. Mr Musson said: “All the best science parks have key bits of R&D infrastructure. These are the kind of things that attract companies that want to work with them. “There’s no great magic to this. If you’ve got flexible space with really bright people, things happen.”
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LIVERPOOL’S KNOWLEDGE QUARTER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23 At the heart of the quarter are its two universities – both of which are investing heavily in their buildings. Prof Michael Parkinson, director of the European Institute for Economic Affairs at LJMU, said: “Universities both attract and retain clever people. They help to commercialise ideas and modernise the economy. They’re hugely important drivers for the local economy. “Cities need all kinds of jobs. They need jobs in areas such as retail, and that’s all good, but successful cities want high value-added jobs. That’s why universities matter. “Also, if you have a Knowledge Quarter, it gives a sense of place. It has an important physical dimension. “A lot of buildings put up here are high quality. It shows this is a city we’re proud of, and that builds good things.” John Flamson, from the University of Liverpool, says the institutions are keen to share knowledge with the community. He said: “If universities are essentially knowledge businesses, then knowledge exchange is the application of knowledge assets for the benefit of communities outside the university. “It’s not about students in the university or researchers and their careers. “It’s how we apply that knowledge and use it to have an economic, social, environmental and cultural impact on the world, not just the city.” The University of Liverpool is still investing in its teaching facilities.Work on its Central Teaching Laboratory for the Faculty of Science and Engineering is almost complete, while it is investing £10m in its veterinary school. Mr Flamson says the university has also tried to make its campus more accessible to the public. He said: “There was a time when if you were a resident sitting on the edge of the campus, you probably felt it was a private place. You weren’t barred, but it probably felt that way. “But, in design terms, it’s now more penetrable. You can walk through the campus. “There are things like coffee shops that are outward facing. “When we opened the café at the Victoria Gallery and Museum in 2008, it brought an awful lot of people in for afternoon tea. We now stage more public lectures. “We have a campus that has a cohesive identity but is more blended with the fabric of the city than it was. “Another big thing going forward is bringing more students back to live on campus. We’ll be opening the Vince Court Residences in Myrtle Street and Grove Street this year. Then we have other developments lined up. “Over the next few years, we see a bigger residential population around the campus, which itself will animate the area.” Meanwhile, LJMU is also investing heavily in its estate in and around the quarter. The six-storey £37.6m Redmonds Building, in Clarence Street, off Brownlow Hill, is already a landmark to visitors approaching the quarter from the city centre. It will be home to three of the university’s largest academic schools – the Liverpool Screen
Chris Musson, chief executive of Liverpool Science Park – we have always looked to create a broad-based science park Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
An artist’s impression of the planned Biocampus, left, with the new Royal Liverpool Hospital to the right School, the Liverpool Business School and the School of Law. The building sits just down the hill from LJMU’s £24m Art and Design Academy, which opened in 2008 and was honoured in 2010 by architecture body RIBA for its contribution to the quarter. LJMU’s vice-chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, said: “The completion of the Redmonds Building is part of a decade of development and a £180m investment by the university to create facilities that can inspire our staff and students. “This building is much more than just bricks and mortar. It’s an investment in our students’ future and has widespread benefits for Liverpool and the regional economy. “We want to be known for our excellent teaching which puts employability and entrepreneurship at the heart of the student experience, but we also want to drive and support the ongoing renewal and regeneration of Liverpool by providing
How ic3 at Liverpool Science Park will look
world-class facilities and creating a highly skilled workforce.” LJMU will also play a key role in transforming the approach to the Knowledge Quarter from the city centre. The Brownlow Hill and Mount Pleasant area is largely untouched by the regeneration that has transformed so much of the city centre, with few facilities and much underused space. It’s an unwelcoming approach to such an important economic zone. LJMU bought the former Royal Mail sorting office in Copperas Hill, behind Lime Street, last year and pledged the site would form a key part of its campus development strategy. It is still working on its plans for the site. Other pieces of land between the corner and the city centre, as well as the Mount Pleasant multistorey car park, are owned by the city council. In May, a new joint venture company was set up to create a £140m masterplan for the Lime Street and Mount Pleasant area
on behalf of the council. Liverpool developer Neptune and Manchester’s Sigma Inpartnership created Neptune Inpartnership, and said a key objective of the work would be “to enhance the quality of the routes between Liverpool city centre and its two universities”. Mr Flamson says it is crucial that the quarter is given a “sense of arrival” to impress visitors from all directions. He said: “Because of the developments, there’s a new physical edge to the Knowledge Quarter. If you come by car from Manchester you see the new buildings of the university, and in the future you’ll see the brand new hospital. “The gateway from the South is more subtle, because it blends with Hope Street, which is a very pleasant environment. “The gateway that’s more problematical is the gateway from Lime Street or Brownlow Hill. We are working with the council to see how we can sort that out.
“There have been improvements over time. It will take time to get that right. Then we’ll get this sense of the quarter merging with the city centre, but still having a distinctive edge.” Dr Murray, at Redx, agrees that the Knowledge Quarter should do more to promote itself to visitors. He said: “If you go to a place like Boston, and go across the river to Cambridge which is one of the leading biotech clusters in the world, as soon as you go across the river you know you’re in a biotech cluster. “As things stand right now, I’m not sure you can say the same thing about the Knowledge Quarter in Liverpool. If you’ve just come up the hill from Lime Street, you’d know you were in the university campus, but you wouldn’t know you were in the Knowledge Quarter. “There are subtle things that could be done to enhance the quarter, and make it more recognisably identifiable to the average man in the street.”
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HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
Cash out of trash . . . Environmental Waste Controls chief executive Bill Shaw, right, with employee Kelly Richardson
Bank backs recycling plant
NIALL McGARRY reports on a Knowsley firm’s plans for a go-ahead expansion programme
A SPECIALIST waste recycling firm in Merseyside has secured £300,000 in bank finance which is being used to fund a new facility up in Scotland. Yorkshire Bank arranged the funding for Knowsley-based Environmental Waste Controls (EWC) for its material recycling facility (MRF) in East Kilbride. EWC chairman Bill Edwards said the firm had suffered as a result of the economic downturn and the backing from the bank would help its expansion plans. The MRF has been granted an
Environment Agency licence, which will allow the company to use the processed waste in new ways. The 60,000 sq ft site employs a 12-strong workforce and cost more than £600,000 to build. The MRF currently only takes business from the commercial sector, although Mr Edwards believes the firm is wellpositioned to begin gaining local authority contracts as well. “One of the key drivers of our growth is getting more value from the waste we process, for example
by stripping the plastics from metal cables, which significantly increases our revenues when we sell those materials on. “We have invested heavily in the plant at East Kilbride, and gaining the Environment Agency licence gives us the ability to do more in terms of separating and processing that waste.” The plant is able to process more than 100,000 tonnes of waste per year, which can be recycled and reused to create various different products. Yorkshire Bank business
partner, Stephen Cox, added: “Now that EWC’s Scotland site is fully operational, the company is in a strong position to develop new markets and improve revenues and profits.” Mr Cox added that EWC had shown “leadership in the challenging times the recession has presented with clear plans for future growth”. EWC was founded in 1993 and employs almost 400 people who operate 30 household waste recycling centres for seven local authorities across the UK,
including one in Warrington. Similar MRFs to the one at East Kilbride are in operation in Knowsley and London, with another set to open in the capital. A household waste recycling centre is owned by the company in Lyon, in France. Annual revenues are projected to be around £23m this year. EWC said: “While this is similar to last year’s figure, we have improved profitability considerably through the improvements we have made to our systems and processes.”
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HOW GREEN IS YOUR BUSINESS?
CBI says green means growth
Business group urges politicians to adopt a ‘smarter’ low-carbon approach to energy issues GOING green does not have to mean sacrificing economic growth, the head of the CBI has said. The organisation, the UK’s main business lobby group, has published a report – The Colour of Growth: Maximising the Potential of Green Business. And director-general, John Cridland, called on politicians to adopt a smarter, more consistent approach to energy and climate change policy. It its report, the CBI produces research showing that the UK has the ability to become a global front-runner in low carbon products and services, which could be adding £20bn extra in annual GDP by 2015. But it warns that the Government needs to take the right action to grasp this potential and avoid damaging the competitiveness of key industries. Mr Cridland said: “The socalled choice between going green or going for growth is a false one. “We are increasingly hearing that politicians are for one or the other, when in reality, with the right policies in place, green business will be a major pillar of our future growth. “With something like a third of all our growth accounted for by green business last year, the UK could be a global front-runner in the shift to low-carbon. “In the search for growth, we’re digging for goldmines – and one of them is green.” Businesses capitalising on the growth of renewable energies have sprung up across the country, with many such firms operating in the Merseyside region. The Liverpool city region has identified the low-carbon economy as a key area for growth, but many believe the Government is not doing enough to help. The UK increased its share of the £3.3 trillion global green market by 2.3% in real terms in 2010/11, reaching £122bn and accounting for around 8% of GDP, and CBI analysis suggests that green business may have accounted for over a third of all UK growth in 2011/12. Mr Cridland added: “Get our energy and climate change policies right, and we can add £20bn extra to our economy.”
The so-called choice between going green or going for growth is a false one – CBI director-general John Cridland pictured on a recent visit to Liverpool Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY
Solar panels could hit house values, warns law firm HOMEOWNERS who strike an agreement with utility companies to have a solar panel installed on their roofs could be in breach of their mortgage arrangement, a law firm is claiming. Frodsham-based Rowlinsons Solicitors says that utility companies are in some circumstances
offering homeowners a 25-year lease to use their roof space for solar panel installation. But the firm, which is a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, warns that, while solar panels can help the environment and reduce energy bills, the move could breach the terms of a
mortgage and even affect the property’s value. Mike Daly, a senior solicitor and consultant at Rowlinsons, said: “Solar panel leases could breach the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage agreement. “They are a type of business lease and therefore involve certain liabilities for the
homeowner and their mortgage provider. “When they come to sell the house or remortgage, the property homeowners could find that some buyers do not want to take on the additional liabilities of the solar panel lease. The value of the property could be affected.”
An increasing number of householders are installing solar panels
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NEWS Liverpool Chamber chairman John Sutcliffe with interim chief executive Carole Crosby, at the opening of the new business lounge
Top, from left: Robin Ellis (Downing), Dave Haddon (1st Choice) and Richard Smith (Liverpool Chamber), at the launch, which was attended by more than 100 people, above; and, below, members use the lounge for the first time
Members’ suite is launched Liverpool Chamber offers new facility for working and networking MORE than 100 members of the Merseyside business community attended the official launch of the new Liverpool Chamber of Commerce members’ lounge. Chamber chairman John Sutcliffe and interim chief executive Carole Crosby performed the official opening, after which guests enjoyed drinks and canapés. The suite gives Chamber members a place to work from, whenever they are in Liverpool city centre. The Old Hall Street facility offers full access to meeting rooms, wi-fi internet and a range of publications including the Chamber’s own magazine and the
Liverpool Post. The opening of the suite “represents a return to the traditional role of the Chamber as a hub for city centre business activity”. The centre will also be used as the venue for a series of “drop-in” days dedicated to providing business support and guidance. A Chamber spokesman added: “Whether members have a half hour to kill between meetings, want to arrange client meetings at the Chamber or meet with members of the Chamber team, then the members’ business suite is your place to do so.” The suite will be open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Valve firm to double sales
Mole Group will use Ireland as a test-bed for ‘fit and forget’ device, writes NIALL McGARRY WIRRAL engineering company Mole Group expects to double sales of its water saving valve on the back of a planned export drive into Europe. Marketed as a “fit and forget” device, Mole says the CombiSave reduces the amount of time it takes for a combination boiler to heat water, meaning that a household containing four people can save up to 55,000 litres of water, 1,650kW of gas and £200 every year. The devices are sold to the general public for a price of £99.97 including VAT and shipping – making it cost-effective after just one year for a household containing more than two people.
The product comes with all the parts needed to fit it and a full set of instructions. CombiSave is also sold wholesale to companies wishing to install them on boilers for a cheaper price of £60 per unit. Director and company founder, David Furlong, said that over 30,000 units had been sold in the three months since it had been brought to market in the UK, with the main customer being British Gas. Regional water company, United Utilities, has also trialled the product successfully. Regarding expansion into other countries, Mr Furlong said: "We have achieved excellent market penetration in the UK, but, in order
for us to achieve similar results in Europe, we need to act fast.” He also said that, with the help of £10,000 recently won in the Merseyside Innovation Awards, similar figures could be expected in Germany and the Netherlands later this year, due to the high number of combination boilers in the two countries. Mole has also identified the Irish market as offering good prospects for future sales. Mr Furlong said: “We hope to move into Ireland as a bit of a test run to get the feedback we need to
move into the more lucrative market of the Netherlands.” While fewer Irish homes use water meters, Mr Furlong is hopeful that the fact that the device also reduces the amount of time it takes to heat water will prove attractive to consumers in that country. Mole hopes to begin exporting to Ireland and the Netherlands within the year. Mr Furlong added that his company had been working on CombiSave for four years. Mole has recently branched out
‘We work for BP, Microsoft and the MoD’
into water saving valves, having previously built its business offering trenchless tunnelling services to the water industry. The company owns three drilling rigs which are used to lay the groundwork for water wells and pipes, taking on the jobs that are too technical for the big drillers, and too ambitious for the smaller domestic companies. “We work for BP, Microsoft and the MoD,” said Mr Furlong. When asked about the company’s plans to develop more new products in the future, Mr Furlong said that a new product may be in development, but he added that details were still confidential.
Adept4 chief executive, Peter Birkett – our new platform will provide Viking with the opportunity to seamlessly expand
Firm wins deal worth up to £1m
Director and company founder, David Furlong, left, and, above, with fellow director, Lisa Thomson; below, a close-up of the Combisave valve
A CHESHIRE IT services provider has secured a five-year contract, valued up to £1m, to provide IT operating services for global maritime engineering company, Viking SeaTech. Adept4, which is based at SciTech Daresbury, won the contract with the business, which provides marine services, including mooring, to the global offshore energy industry. The firm now provides full IT support for Viking SeaTech’s current operational centres in Norway, Aberdeen, Perth and Singapore, and also the company’s corporate headquarters in Aberdeen. Adept4 chief executive, Peter Birkett, said: “Viking SeaTech is a growing company with a truly global reach, and this contract allows us to provide it with a flexible, scalable
service which is easily accessible and manageable from any of their offices and equipment bases across the world. “We have installed a cloud-based platform which will give Viking the capacity to seamlessly expand as the company grows, while creating a single point of access for a variety of different programs, which will increase usability and efficiency.” The new contract involves coordinating third party IT providers throughout the rest of the world, providing infrastructure, programming and development resources. Adept4 is also making a significant contribution to the implementation of a global ERP system which will support the business operationally and financially through the provision of key management information.
A computer-generated image of the office scheme planned by Muse for Chester, which will see the creation of 500,000 sq ft of Grade A office space; and, inset, above, right, Premier House
Cheshire market maintains
The annual Cheshire and Warrington property market report shows high-profile deals are
CHESHIRE and Warrington’s commercial property market showed resilience in the face of tough economic conditions in 2011, with a number of highprofile deals. Marketing Cheshire has published its annual property review for the county. The report was produced by BE Group and was presented to more than 120 North West property professionals at the end of June. Speakers at the event included
representatives from the Bank of England, Muse Developments and Marketing Cheshire. It was sponsored by Muse Developments, Pochin, and Lamonts. BE Group’s Peter Crompton said: “Findings from the review showed that Cheshire and Warrington has fared quite well, with the overall number of investment transactions reported showing growth from 2010. “Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester seeing 50%
increases in completed deals.” The largest investment transactions during the year included: ● Prupim’s purchase of a multi-let scheme in Chester City Centre for £56m, based on an initial yield of 4.5%; ● Delancey Estates sold the B&Q Retail Building to ING Real Estate Investment Management at an initial yield of 6.2%, in a deal worth just under £24m; ● Cordia Savills’ purchase at an initial 6.55% yield of CDP’s Apollo
Park development, tenanted by Travelodge, Starbucks and Harvester, in Warrington. Although the office sector has been giving off mixed messages in terms of performance, Cheshire and Warrington received a boost with Bank of America announcing a new back-office technical support centre with the potential for up to 1,000 jobs at Chester Business Park. Warrington’s office sector saw take-up almost doubling from the
previous year. The industrial sector exhibited a strong performance, with the sub-region seeing two of the largest 12 warehousing deals in the country during 2011. Expert Logistics took ProLogis 360 in Crewe (330,500 sq ft) and Regatta leased Pioneer Point at Ellesmere Port (360,000sq ft). Warehousing One also occupied around 200,000 sq ft in Crewe. New developments in the leisure sector included the
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY Chris Brown, Marketing Cheshire chief executive –the strategy and action plan recently launched by the Cheshire and Warrington LEP outlines the potential for economic growth to £30bn by 2030
momentum in tough times
being done – and plans for the future remain firmly on track as new brands continue to arrive construction of Orford Park, Warrington – the largest Olympic legacy scheme in the UK outside of London. Cheshire West and Chester purchased the former Odeon cinema to be the home of a new £43m theatre and £11m is to be invested in a new leisure and sports facility in Ellesmere Port. In the retail sector, the number of retail deals in Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester rose by around 25%, compared to
2010. Major brands new to the sub-region included Ferrari and McLaren and Cheshire Oaks welcomed, among others, Hugo Boss, Armani and Wagamama. In Warrington, two major outdoor pursuits and sports stores were opened by Go Outdoors and Decathlon. Chris Brown, chief executive at Marketing Cheshire, commented: “The strategy and action plan recently launched by the Cheshire and Warrington LEP outlines the
potential for economic growth to £30bn by 2030, with 100,000 more people living in the sub-region. “In addition, the action plans created by the spatial priorities mean that both sub-regionally and locally plans are in place to continue to improve our economy and attract more investment through promoting the region as a great place to invest, visit, live, study and meet in.” Muse Developments is pushing forward with plans to create a
multi-million pound “business quarter” in Chester. The firm has purchased the 3.5-acre former Lloyds Banking Group headquarters, in Hoole Lane, and says it plans to create 500,000 sq ft of Grade A office space. Muse had originally hoped to submit a planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council earlier this year. But Premier House, which is due to be demolished as part of
the scheme, is still occupied by contract staff working on behalf of Lloyds and may not be handed over until next year. Now Muse is aiming to submit the application in the autumn instead. In statement, the firm said: “We are working closely with Cheshire West and neighbouring stakeholders, including Network Rail and Lloyds, to ensure that the new development complements the area.”
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BUSINESS LUNCH Alistair Houghton visits Hanover Street Social with Chris Fry of KPMG N A RESTAURANT that turned out to be a hidden gem, Chris Fry revealed that he was a man of hidden talents. By day, Fry is senior partner at accountancy giant KPMG’s Liverpool office. But when he sets his calculators aside, Fry is a passionate cyclist and bassist in a band that regularly rocks the pubs and clubs of the North west. And Liverpool’s Hanover Street Social turned out to be the ideal place to discuss accountancy, bikes and rock and roll. The restaurant, which opened last year, has a large frontage on Hanover Street, yet still manages to feel hidden away – it almost looks as though it’s an extension of pub/eatery The Hub next door. But, inside, it’s a completely different feel to its neighbour. It’s a spacious, open bistro, with exposed brickwork and an open kitchen giving it a relaxed, contemporary feel. It also offers a good value lunchtime menu, at £8.95 for two courses from a varied menu. And its swift service means it’s an ideal place for a quick business lunch when time is tight. After making our choices from the menu, Fry and I chatted about his journey from the Peak District to KPMG’s office in Liverpool’s Princes Parade. Fry, originally from Buxton, studied economics at the University of Sussex before joining Price Waterhouse in London in 1985. “At the time,” he said, “the things that Price Waterhouse could offer were the building location in London, and things like social activities and football. It was almost an extension of university. They were recruiting a lot of graduates at the time. “I was always particularly interested in economics. There was a nice fit. And some work I did for my degree was on the history of certain companies.” After three years, Fry chose to specialise in tax. “ I found I was quite good at it,” he smiled. “And even then, tax was at the forefront of what businesses were about. “If you go to see a new client, often the first thing they want to talk about is their tax. It can be a bit of a spearhead in terms of meeting new clients and business development.” In 1991, Fry moved to his firm’s Manchester office. And in 1997 he moved across to KPMG, becoming a tax partner in 2001. He has led KPMG’s northern property tax team since it was founded in 2004. And, on January 1 this year, he took over from Ian Goalen as senior partner at KPMG’s Liverpool office, which has some 85 staff. “It’s a really exciting time,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is
make sure we have a full service office in Liverpool.” The Liverpool office cannot have every specialism represented five days a week, but Fry wants to ensure that specialists from other parts of the group are not simply parachuted in. “I’m making sure that when I draw on a specialist, they do have a role in the Liverpool office,” he said. “They might be there four days or two days a week, but they’re regularly based here and know the Liverpool marketplace and the clients a lot better.” Fry believes that he has arrived in a city that is on the up. He said: “I’ve been saying for a while that if we weren’t in the midst of a worldwide recession, Liverpool would be doing really well. “If you look at it in isolation, Liverpool is rated the second fastest-growing city outside London. “There are so many factors in Liverpool’s favour, such as its hotels and conference venues, the turnaround facility for the cruise liners, Liverpool One doing very well, Liverpool Waters looking like it’s going to happen and the river terminal that Peel Ports is planning. “All those things are coming together quite nicely. I think the city should be as confident as it’s ever been.” HE service at Hanover Street Social was swift and efficient, and our starters arrived quickly. Chris supped slowly at his tasty roasted tomato soup, which came with two large chunks of bread. My starter was three juicy chunks of grilled mackerel, with roasted beetroot, goats cheese and sorrel. The fish – served in generous chunks – was packed with flavour, while the sweet sides added a great contrast. Fry has worked with a variety of businesses but has focused in the retail sector and has worked with many private equity-backed firms. He said: “I’ve got some clients in the retail sector doing very well and some doing badly. “Everything is tough and everything is hard-won. People
Hanover Street Social was opened last year by the owners of the nearby Salt House Tapas have to work a lot harder for everything they achieve now. “If they manage to find a niche, there are opportunities for businesses to do OK. I get the feeling that underlying this doom and gloom, there’s a lot of interesting people doing some good things in a very tough environment.” In the private equity-backed market, however, things are generally gloomier. “There’s not been too many deals around,” said Fry. “Private equity is desperate as an industry to realise some of its value and pass it to their investors. I think they’ve been finding that hard. “In the good times, a lot of those companies were bought at a pretty high value, and therefore have been laden with a fair bit of debt. “When you’ve got that pressure and the added pressure of private equity investors looking to sell, that’s a pretty tough position to be in.” Tough market or not, Fry says KPMG is well-placed to grow business at its Liverpool office. “We want to make sure we’re doing as well as
we can with existing clients. Then it’s about winning new ones, which we have had a lot of success in doing in the last six months. Things are moving in the right direction.” My main course was a thick round slice of Stornoway black pudding atop an even thicker slice of rolled crispy pork belly, on an apple and ginger puree with a sage jus. It came with a plate of seasonal vegetables – new potatoes, and tenderly crunchy carrots and courgettes. That rich black pudding was a soft and sweet contrast to the crispy pork below, and the flavours on the plate came together beautifully to form a rich main course. Meanwhile Fry, looking for a lighter lunch, chose the watermelon, feta, roast tomato and mint salad – a bowl full of refreshing goodness. “It was really good,” mused Fry. “I’d come again.” Father-of-two Fry, who lives in Bramhall, Cheshire, has been a keen cyclist for many years and loves following in the footsteps of cycling greats on rides in Europe. He said: “Last year I did the Raid Pyrénéen ride across the Pyrenees from Biarritz. I did 120 miles a day for four days and quite a lot of that was upwards. “It was fantastic. It was very hard, but fortunately we had good weather.” Two weeks ago, Fry completed the 90-mile Maratona dles Dolomites, in Italy – described by
National Geographic as “one of the biggest, most passionate, and most chaotic bike races on Earth”. During the ride, he was interviewed by Cycling Weekly. “Miguel Indurain was in the same video as me,” he smiled, thrilled at the memory of sharing screen time with the five-time Tour de France winner. And when he puts his bike down, Fry loves picking up his bass. He plays in a “Mod tribute band” called The Modern World, whose repertoire includes songs by The Who, The Jam, The Small Faces and Ocean Colour Scene. “I’m still sticking to my youth,” he smiled. “I’ve been doing this for five or six years now. I play bass, but I do a bit of singing as well. “We play all around Manchester, and we do a bit in Liverpool. We played the Head of Steam on Saturday night, and last year we played The Cavern as well. “Me and the other guys may be getting a bit old for it. But, while we’re still enjoying it, there’s life in us yet.”
DETAILS Hanover Street Social, 16-20, Hanover Street, Liverpool Tel: 0151 709 8784 www.hanoverstreetsocial. co.uk
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THE BUSINESS LIST Monday, July 30
THE Employment and Skills Group is holding a series of open days at its Liverpool office in 19 Bold Street, starting on July 30 and continuing with one open day each month for the next seven months, apart from December. The events are aimed at schools, pupils, careers advisors, parents, training providers, JobCentres, community agencies, and employers and will outline apprenticeship-based employment opportunities. Phone Jules Westbrook on 0151-702 6111 for details.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1/ FACT ASSOCIATES EVENING
Friday, August 10 MERSEYSIDE businesses are being urged to support their chosen charities by taking part in Liverpool Cathedral’s two-day abseil, starting on August 10. Participants will take on a 150ft drop above the Cathedral’s West Doors. Time slots are sold by the hour (20 participants) or half hour (10) with no upper limit. Companies can choose their slot on a first come, first served basis. Two ropes are available so that colleagues can abseil together. Businesses can also opt to abseil in aid of the Liverpool Cathedral Foundation. Contact 0151-702 7226 or email rebecca. bentham@liverpool cathedral.org.uk for details.
Wednesday, August 15 THE next Business Network Liverpool event takes place at Aintree Racecourse from 12 noon to 2pm, including a free pre-lunch Seminar entitled ‘Success is Your Choice’ by Geoffrey Prince, a highly respected executive coach, motivational-speaker, business advisor and author. Registration starts at 10.30am followed by pre-lunch drinks and networking taking place in Merryman box 3 and 4, situated on the third floor, with guests seated for lunch by 12:30pm. There is free parking on site. The cost for the event is £30. Please visit /www.businessnetwork-liverpool.co.uk/ book_events.php to book.
The debate will take place at FACT, in Wood Street, LIverpool city centre THIS is the third in the series of FACT Associates evening events in which we explore the role of Digital Innovation in the UK capital and cultural economy. Much has been made of what exactly
digital innovation and this will be debated at the event. There will be four speakers drawn from different areas of the creative industries: ● Ana Botella, the new programme producer at FACT. She will be
Sunday, September 2 LIVERPOOL-BASED Appreciating People is staging a three-day
talking about FACT’s developing programme and her experiences of digital innovation elsewhere; ● Error is a Liverpool digital company specialising in online project development, with an expanding
“Appreciative Living Workshop” at Liverpool Hope University by Jackie Kelm in her first event of its kind outside the US. She says her Appreciative Inquiry course “creates amazing changes within organisations” and helps people transform their lives and relationships with partners, children, family and friends. The course costs £410 per person for individuals, or £490 for company sponsored places. To register, email suzanne@ appreciatingpeople.co.uk or call 0151-427 1146 or 07940 726 067.
Saturday, September 8 Geoffrey Prince will speak at Aintree Racecourse
RUGBY League team Warrington Wolves has joined forces with Warrington council to host a new
portfolio of successful projects; ● Adrian McEwan is a Liverpool-based developer and programmer who has recently co-developed the DOES Liverpool space; ● Kevin McManus is
Abseil down the Anglican event aimed at giving start-up businesses in the town a helping hand. The Wolves New Business Market will be held at The Halliwell Jones Stadium and
Head of Creative and Digital at Liverpool Vision. He will talk about business support for the digital sector in Liverpool. Contact Tracy Fairclough: firstname.lastname@example.org
aims to be the first of many such events allowing new local businesses to showcase themselves to the borough-wide community and beyond. The event is free to attend for new local start-up businesses. Each participating business will receive a free market stall space, with all stalls situated in the South Stand Concourse area of The Halliwell Jones Stadium. Participants will also receive free business support and advice on the day from organisations including Warrington Collegiate, Business Venture and Blue Orchid. Residents will also be able to attend the event free of charge. For more information, contact Angela Hankey on 01925 442371 or a.hankey @warrington.gov.uk
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ALISTAIR HOUGHTON . . . in which we get creative with the dress code as digital types reveal they have Big Chips on their shoulders
IGITAL is different,” opined Shaun Fensom, from the Big Chip stage. And, as the besuited trainer wearers around him revealed, he had a point. This month, I headed over to Manchester for the Big Chip Awards, the annual celebration of digital talent in the North. And before I went, I faced a dilemma unusual for the male event-goer – what to wear. This kind of thing is normally easy for the chap, even the chap of limited sartorial sensibilities such as myself. It’s either “lounge suit”, such as the kind of suit I’m wearing in that unpleasantly large picture to the right, or black tie, in which case it’s time to break out the tux. Your average post-work Thursday bash – say, a bank celebrating the fact it’s given a £10 postal order to a business and, therefore, the banks are lending again – is lounge suit. A glamorous awards do, meanwhile – the Post’s Regional Business Awards being a fine example of that – will sell itself as black tie, and so you know it’s time to battle with your bow tie again. But the Big Chip Awards invitation
sent me into a fashion frenzy. It said: “Dress to impress – black tie, or perhaps something different”. What did that mean? Black tie sounded straightforward enough. But what if, in this case, black tie was a red herring? What if I rocked up in a tux and found I was the only one there, a gauche provincial fish out of water? As this was a creative sector special, would there be fancy dress? Comedy glasses and facial hair combos? Even – evil of evils – shorts? On calmer reflection, I remembered that, at the RBAs, there are always a handful of style rebels who wear thin black ties with white shirts and lounge suits. Obeying the dress code, yet with an almost-rebellious twist – I guessed that would be the creative sector black tie outfit of choice, and was proved right after looking at last year’s pictures of happy, emotional people collecting their Big Chip Awards. Mid-dilemma, I took a lunchtime wander and bumped into Sean McGuire and his colleagues from financial training firm Ambitious Minds. We discussed what creative sector types might wear for a celebration. I
demurred at their suggestion of a T-shirt, but agreed that there could be some corporate wackiness on show. “And,” I suggested jokingly, “I bet there’ll be some men there in shorts.” We laughed. But, as I wandered back to the office, I vowed to check and report back. ND so, as people gathered in the tiled Victorian splendour of Manchester’s Palace Hotel, I kept my eye out for rogue knees. Thankfully, I saw no shorts. But I did see one man dressed unashamedly in a Hawaiian shirt, and a fair sprinkling of suit and trainer combos. But, in the main, most people had gone for good old-fashioned tuxes or followed my style lead with lounge suits and black ties. So I didn’t feel at all out of place as I wandered the room, meeting Liverpool visitors including the team from Glow New Media, artist Sophie Green and ever-ebullient Sound City organiser Dave Pichilingi. The awards ceremony itself was a suitably snazzy affair. Speakers including Mr Fensom, chairman of event organisers Manchester Digital, enthused about the region’s digital community, while host Jason Cook tried to coax speeches out of the emotional winners. My favourite speech came from a representative from Code Computerlove. “What do we want?” he cried. “Infinite bandwidth, zero latency. When do we want it? In a quantum!” Perhaps you had to be there. Comic Cook himself made some style observations along the way. One winner, he pointed out, “had brought back elbow patches”. Steve Smith – tuxedo – was onstage as Liverpool agency Smiling Wolf was named joint winner of the Best Use of Visual Design category. As the smart casual team went on stage, Cook laughed: “The Liverpool contingent: three blokes, one tie”. As for the other local winners, Cybertill went for classic tuxes and Peter Collier, of Hogrocket, went for the lounge suit.
HAD one final reason for being thankful that the simple lounge suit is the creative solution to smart dinner dress fears. Because the great advantage of a suit, as opposed to a tux, is that there’s much less chance of standing out like a sore thumb when you brave the last train back from Manchester to Merseyside. But this evening, in fact, I had to make my way home not on a rail replacement bus, but in a rail replacement minibus. On Big Chip night, even the rail network tried to be creative.
Timmy Mallett – dressing to impress and doing something different
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SOCIAL DIARY THE NETWORKER
Eddie Read, of Leader 1; John Haynes, of Intl Coaching Academy; and Stephan Mayer, of Living Media, at the Buffalo Jacks launch
Jean-Paul Jesstiece, of Airborn Academy; Veronica Leacock, of Batala; Martin Tsang, of Airborn Academy; and Melissa Bosoboe, of MSB Solicitors, at Buffalo Jacks
CAROLYN HUGHES Di Burbidge, of Chinese Wellbeing; Roy Gronow, of GCS Associates; Alice Hughes, of Alice Jewels; and Hazel Dyble, of Jackson Canter, at the Buffalo Jacks diner launch
DIB chairman Frank McKenna, centre; with Colin Sinclair, of Bruntwood; and David Taylor, of DTP, at the business week event
DOWNTOWN hosted its sixth annual business week with contributions from Mayor Joe Anderson, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, Ged Fitzgerald and Liverpool Vision’s Max Steinberg, among others. Downtown Chairman, Frank McKenna, commented: “This was by far our best business week yet, and it demonstrated the confidence and ambition of Liverpool’s business community, despite the challenges that clearly exist.” ■ THE Hilton’s Pima Bar hosted a drinks reception on Sunday night for The
International & European Associations Congress 2012. Now in its seventh series, it is one of the few educational events held in Europe aimed specifically at the Associations sector. ■ BUFFALO Jacks hosted a soft launch of their Queen Square-located American diner with a Brand Ubiquity networking event in association with the Brouhaha International Festival. Guests enjoyed a wide selection of chicken, beef and fish dishes from the eclectic menu, as sampled by regional media and corporate business from within the city.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, left, and Susan Hayden, of Congrex UK, at the Hilton Hotel
Sandra Eyre, of ACC Liverpool, left; and Caroline Mackenzie, of Congrex Group, at the Hilton’s Pima Bar
Ged Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, with DIB chairman Frank McKenna, at the sixth annual business week celebrations
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson with Max Steinberg, of Liverpool Vision, at the Downtown business week event
Elaine Bowker, Principal, Liverpool Community College, with DIB chairman Frank McKenna and Wirral West MP Esther McVey, at the sixth business week event
Kate Currie, of Liverpool LEP; Allan Gallagher, of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE); and Martin Boyle, of Congrex UK, at the Hilton’s Pima Bar drinks reception
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