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ISSUE ONE: SPRING 2013

MORE THAN A GAME Football chief on his club’s vital role HAVING A BLAST Making a big noise in the music market FIGHTING BACK The fall and rise of a car parts empire THE HISTORY BOY Taking an age-old family dynasty into the future

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The regional entrepreneurs who emerged from TV’s most feared boardroom to set up on their own BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS

WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

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WELCOME

BUSINESS QUARTER: SPRING 13: ISSUE ONE As the economy bumps along the bottom of what’s been such a painful recession, there’s never been a better time to launch an inspirational business magazine. That’s because in the good times, it’s almost too easy to find success stories and to throw praise around willy-nilly. During those booms (remember them?), readers sometimes see such reports as too self-congratulatory, often dismissing them as mediocre business chiefs patting themselves on the back when, actually, they’d have had to try damn hard to stop the money rolling in. But during economic downturns, businesses that are complacent or lazy quickly go bust, and those trying to survive are constantly looking out for advice, top tips and the best ideas on how to diversify, restructure and grow. And that’s what’s made the creation of this first edition of BQ West Midlands such a joy: researching real triumphs over failure, spotting genuine accomplishments and putting some extraordinary experiences into words on paper. Take the piece on John Faulkner, for example. This old Land Rover executive didn’t quite know what he was letting himself in for when he left the car giant to join Cab Automotive, a Black Country parts firm. As the recession started to bite, the banks grabbed back all their loans – leaving his company with just £50 in the bank, dwindling orders and nearly 200 workers to worry about. And that was when John sprang into action, remembering all the training he’d had over 30 years at Land Rover. For anyone in industry, his story in this edition is a thriller – yes, restructuring the firm, and yes, cutting costs, but also taking the brave decision to insource a variety of processes, invest in new machinery

and transform the very nature of the company. Cab Automotive, by the way, is now set for annual revenues approaching £40m. Read John’s story – you’ll be impressed. What we’ve tried to provide you with is a selection of winning stories across a range of industries. Find out how Sam Williams, the seventh generation of A.E. Williams, a family firm of metal-bashers in Birmingham city centre, is coping with downturns in the same way as his forefathers throughout the company’s history. Read all about the human side of entrepreneur Hanna Sebright, and how her child’s near-tragedy contributed towards her current role leading the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, increasing its revenues by 25% in the last three years. And discover how bright brass musician Hugh Rashleigh became an inventor – now selling tens of thousands of his new pBone instrument. We’ve also interviewed three of the region’s most memorable candidates on BBC1’s The Apprentice for you. Not the winners, mind, but those who came close. How did the TV experience help or hinder Nick Holzherr, Ruth Badger and Joy Stefanicki? And what do they think of the support young entrepreneurs get in the West Midlands? They tell all in a riveting ‘20 questions’ section inside. We’ve also commissioned Paul Faulkner, chief executive at Aston Villa, to describe what it’s like running a football club as a business during a recession – especially when the team itself is struggling. And we take Birmingham Chamber of Commerce boss Jerry Blackett out to lunch. I hope you enjoy it all as much as we have in putting it together. Steve Dyson, editor, BQ West Midlands

CONTACTS ROOM501 LTD Christopher March Managing Director e: chris@room501.co.uk Bryan Hoare Director e: bryan@room501.co.uk EDITORIAL Steve Dyson Editor e: steve.dysonmedia@gmail.com Ros Dodd e: rosdodd@gmail.com DESIGN & PRODUCTION room501 e: studio@room501.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY KG Photography e: info@kgphotography.co.uk Jas Sansi Photography, e: sansi1@btinternet.com ADVERTISING Alan Dickinson Project Manager e: alan@room501.co.uk t: 07917 733 047

room501 Publishing Ltd, 16 Pickersgill Court, Quay West Business Park, Sunderland SR5 2AQ www.room501.co.uk room501 was formed from a partnership of directors who, combined, have many years of experience in contract publishing, print, marketing, sales and advertising and distribution. We are a passionate, dedicated company that strives to help you to meet your overall business needs and requirements. All contents copyright © 2013 room501 Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, February 2013. room501 Publishing Ltd is part of BE Group, the UK’s market leading business improvement specialists. www.be-group.co.uk

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BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


CONTE BUSINESS QUARTER: SPRING 13 SkY HigH aMBiTiONS

Features

46 LIVE DEBATE Maximising the opportunities of super-fast broadband

24 LIFE AFTER SUGAR What the TV hopefuls did after the cameras stopped rolling

32 SKY HIGH AMBITIONS How trauma and determination helped Hanna Sebright’s career take off

40 HAVING A BLAST The musical entrepreneur making a big noise in a lucrative market

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52 BUSINESS LUNCH Birmingham Chamber of Commerce boss sets out a vision for the future

72 FIGHTING BACK The fall, rise and ongoing resurgence of Cab Automotive

76 THE HISTORY BOY Inside the age-old dynasty which is now an unlikely star of the silver screen

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32 HaViNg a BLaST iN BUSiNESS

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TENTS WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

36 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

The deals shaping our skyline

BaCk FROM THE BRiNk

56 WINE Guest reviewer Richard Vickery turns Italy and Spain against each other

Regulars

58 MOTORING How an apathetic motor man became a Mercedes convert

62 EQUIPMENT Behind the handlebars of the retro riding revolution

06 THE BIG ISSUES Reports from either side of the great high-speed rail debate

12 NEWS Who’s done what, when, where and why here in the West Midlands

22 AS I SEE IT Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner on the wider importance of his club

66 FASHION

72 MEET THE HiSTORY BOY

The Italian menswear master who’s pushing the boundaries of fashion

80 A BIT OF CHAT With BQ’s backroom boy Bill Borde

82 EVENTS Gatherings, seminars and conferences that could boost your business

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76 BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13


THE BIG ISSUES

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>> Opinion split on either side of the tracks The high-speed rail project will create tens of thousands of jobs, bridge the UK’s north-south economic divide and cut journey times in half. But while business leaders in big cities like Birmingham welcomed the news, there was stiff opposition from critics in surrounding towns. BQ records the arguments for and against

>> FOR HS2 Wouter Schuitemaker, investment director at Business Birmingham, feels HS2 is a crucial step towards redressing the north-south divide and boosting regional economies. He said: “Phase two will provide cities such as Birmingham with quicker links to the north of England, which is worth over £200m, and help to rebalance the UK’s economy. One in ten foreign investors looking at the UK are considering the West Midlands – making it the most popular region outside London and the South East. “To bring these investors here, we must have improved transport links. For international companies, fast and reliable transport networks are significant factors in deciding where to locate their next base. Infrastructure improvements such as HS2 are vital. The Government must press ahead with HS2 without delay. We cannot afford to lose out because schemes such as HS2 are mired in red tape and delays.” Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis and chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said: “This transformational initiative represents one of the most important opportunities we have to bring about a step

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change in jobs, connectivity and economic growth. Now we must forge ahead in ensuring we maximise the economic dividend. Greater Birmingham will stand at the centre of this network, providing an unrivalled level of connectivity with the north and the south of the country while enhancing our international connectivity and, therefore, offer to potential investors. Our current local rail capacity challenges will be improved significantly by HS2, enabling us to seek a package of measures to improve access around the metropolitan area. Perhaps above all, HS2 presents the opportunity to create a new industry in Greater Birmingham as we would expect to use our strength as an advanced manufacturing centre to attract the jobs associated with this project to our region.”

>> AGAINST HS2 Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, feels so strongly about HS2 that he resigned as a government whip so that he could speak publicly on the issue. He said: “I strongly believe that the route of the high speed line is completely wrong. In my view, the route should not carve its way

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through unspoiled countryside. It will cause environmental damage not only to southern Staffordshire, but also to other sensitive areas like the Chilterns. “I will not be supporting the legislation in Parliament after it has passed through the Bill Committee unless the route is moved and avoids south Staffordshire altogether by utilising existing transport corridors such as major motorways. This present route is unacceptable. I have no illusions on how HS2 will affect residents of Kings Bromley, Armitage and the Ridwares as the line to Manchester plunges northwards through rural Staffordshire blighting homes and blighting lives.” Coun Alan Cockburn, Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet member for sustainable communities, claims that the northern leg of HS2 will bulldoze through the middle of two popular country parks – Kingsbury Water Park and Pooley Country Park. He said: “We are deeply disappointed and extremely concerned that the proposed Y-route will slice across two of Warwickshire’s premier visitor attractions. They are extremely popular facilities that also comprise some of the county’s finest countryside and most diverse habitats. “Kingsbury Water Park welcomes in excess of 400,000 visitors per annum and is the jewel in the crown of Warwickshire’s country parks. The water park is at the heart of the visitor economy in North Warwickshire. It has thriving businesses within the park itself as well as supporting many businesses in local villages. Pooley Country Park is Warwickshire’s newest country park and has been subject to significant investment to transform a scarred industrial landscape into a valued community asset. These sites are important to the local economy, for people’s health and well being and for bio-diversity.” n


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COMPANY PROFILE

BQ Magazine staff on their marks for QE Hospital patients Kind-hearted staff at BQ Magazine are amongst those limbering up for the BUPA Great Birmingham Run to help patients and their families at the QE Hospital. The Midland’s leading half marathon takes place on Sunday 20th October 2013. The 13.1 mile course starts and finishes in Birmingham city centre and takes in landmarks such as Cadbury’s, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and Cannon Hill Park. As one of the official charities of the 2013 event, the QEHB Charity raises valuable funds for patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, including the UK’s military patients and teenagers and young adults with cancer. BQ Magazine’s Alan Dickinson said: “I’m a keen runner and I’ve chosen to support the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity because it’s a fantastic local charity that helps a huge number of people in the community. I want to raise as much as possible to make a difference to those who need it.” Charity chief executive Mike Hammond will be taking part in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run for the fourth year in a row and added: “If I can run 13.1 miles then anyone can! It’s a really great occasion and the enthusiastic support motivates you around the course. Why not join our team and help us make patients’ stays in hospital more comfortable? “It is thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we are able to provide a range of ‘extras’ for patients, from pizza nights for young people with cancer, to therapy equipment designed specifically for amputees and warm comfy slippers

Alan Dickinson, Project Manager, BQ West Midlands Magazine

for elderly people on the wards. Please join us and make a difference to QE Hospital patients and their families.” When you join the QEHB Charity team you will receive training hints and tips and a charity running top. On the day the wonderful crowds at the cheering stations will motivate you to

It is thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we are able to provide a range of ‘extras’ for patients, from pizza nights for young people with cancer, to therapy equipment designed specifically for amputees and warm comfy slippers for elderly people on the wards. Please join us and make a difference to QE Hospital patients and their families

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keep going around the route and there will be a celebratory post-race reception at the Hyatt Hotel, which is next to the finish line. Here you can meet up with friends and family, have photos taken with your medal and enjoy a post-race massage. You can guarantee your place by paying the £33 entry fee at www.qehb.org/shop. The charity will then send you sponsorship forms and links to setting up an online fundraising page, so you can let everyone know about your run. There is no minimum sponsorship amount to raise – every penny will really make a difference. For example: • £25 will pay for a night’s accommodation in Fisher House for the family of a wounded soldier • £40 will pay for the weekly pizza night on the teenage cancer ward • £100 will pay for a tea party in the elderly care ward • £500 will help provide life saving cancer treatment through CyberKnife, one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatment machines.

To join BQ Magazine and Team QE Hospital in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run please visit www.qehb.org/shop or contact Justine Davy on 0121 371 4852 or email Justine.davy@uhb.nhs.uk

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THE BIG ISSUES

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>> HS2 could be a soaraway success for aviation Phase two of the Government’s £30bn HS2 fast train project could bring 30% of Britain’s population within an hour’s travel of Birmingham Airport. And that, according to airport bosses, should create a strong option for Britain’s future aviation strategy. Steve Dyson reports A fascinating map was issued air-rail transport system where by Birmingham Airport as a HS2 links together a network of response to the government’s HS2 national airports. HS2 brings 30% of the UK’s population within announcements at the end of January. “This will ensure that cities outside an hour’s travel of Birmingham Airport Called ‘Shrinking Britain’, the map of the South East have thriving Travel time by rail to Birmingham Airport shows how HS2 could cut rail travel airports to support local businesses Before HS2 After HS2 1hr 51mins West London 31 mins times to Birmingham by so much that to grow and prosper. We will Glasgow Central London 1hr 10mins 38 mins pop. 1,199,629 it would be mad not to make the continue to work with the Airports 1hr 48mins Nottingham 38 mins 1hr 30mins Manchester 49 mins city’s airport a central part of the UK’s Commission to best establish how Sheffield 1hr 36mins 58 mins 2hrs Leeds 1hr 5mins future aviation expansion strategy. HS2 can complement the UK’s Newcastle 1hr 34mins Liverpool 1hr 8mins pop. 284,000 3hrs Newcastle 2hrs 7mins For example, it currently takes one aviation strategy.” 3hrs 57mins Glasgow 3hrs 29mins hour and 30 minutes to travel from The Government’s Airports Manchester to Birmingham Airport, Commission is a six-strong expert but this is set to become just 40 committee chaired by Sir Howard Leeds minutes when HS2 is complete Davies, examining options for pop. 751,500 in 2032. airport expansion. Alternatives Manchester pop. 2,682,500 Sheffield Similarly, journey times from include: a second runway at pop. 551,800 Nottingham Sheffield could be cut from one Gatwick; expansion of Stansted; Liverpool pop. 675,600 pop. 466,400 hour, 36 minutes to just 58 minutes; building a new airport to the west Nottingham from one hour, 48 of Heathrow; a high speed monorail minutes to just 38 minutes; and between Gatwick and Heathrow; Current travel time by rail Central London from one hour, or using Birmingham as a ‘London’ ten minutes to just 38 minutes. airport, linked by HS2. Travel time with HS2 Birmingham While welcoming the Government’s But some Midland critics think the Airport pop. 3,683,000 announcement of the preferred route debate is currently too focused on London 30 for the second phase of HS2, Paul the South East. m in s pop. 8,174,100 Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham They feel the Government should Airport, used the occasion to call for instead fully utilise existing capacities 1 ho ur an aviation policy “that complements at other major UK airports, like the investment in HS2”. Birmingham, developing a series of Mr Kehoe said: “This sets out how strategic national airports spread • All journey times are estimates based on figures taken from the full HS2 network connects eight across the UK. www.hs2.org.uk out of ten of our key cities and will This thinking is behind Mr Kehoe’s • All population figures are based on data for metropolitan areas transform the economic geography of praise of the Government’s decision as indicated by city councils or the ONS 2011 census. the UK, help rebalance the economy to put on hold plans for a HS2 spur and boost national growth. to Heathrow Airport until after the “Airports are a critical part of this story and and just over half an hour from London. By Davies Airports Commission has delivered we need to build a vision for UK aviation that providing passengers with more choice of its conclusions. Mr Kehoe added: “Building complements the investment in HS2. HS2 will where to fly from, it will help us make best a new rail link to an airport that is already bring Birmingham Airport within one hour’s use of spare capacity at airports across the UK. overflowing is clearly illogical, and so the journey time of 30% of the UK population “We need to build a truly integrated decision to put on hold plans for a Heathrow

Shrinking Britain:

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SPRING 13

spur is the right one. The Airports Commission must be given the space to conduct its inquiry outside of the political spotlight so that they can establish the best solution to UK aviation policy.” The Davies Commission is scheduled to produce an interim report by the end of 2013, with a more detailed report to be presented to the incoming Government after the next election in 2015. n When he launched his Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies set out clear terms of reference, explaining that he expects well-argued, evidenced and robust inputs to the process, including the demonstrable engagement of key economic stakeholders. He also wants to hear long-term, imaginative and ambitious proposals that move the narrative beyond the confines of runway extensions and bus links. With this background, Birmingham-based RJF Public Affairs Ltd and the West Midlands Economic Forum have announced the launch of Connect Midlands, a ‘visioning group’, or think tank, that aims to make a significant contribution to the debate. Marc Reeves, of RJF Public Affairs said: “We will be distinctly focused on what is best for the West Midlands, but unrestrained by local vested interests. We want our proposals to inform the thinking of other regional stakeholders, and in turn their inputs into the Davies Commission.” BQ West Midlands is also determined to play a part by providing the space for leaders of the regional economy to have their say on airports. And so, every quarter, BQ will be reporting on the latest debates and thoughts coming from the Connect Midlands visioning group. For more details on the airports debate, go to www.balancedaviationdebate.com and www.hellomoreworld.co.uk

THE BIG ISSUES

Council comment takes sheen off conference boost, while city gears up for car industry growth >> Enjoy it while it lasts

>> Expansion drive begins

News that the Conservative Party is heading back to Birmingham for its 2014 autumn conference was accompanied by a strangely dour statement from the Labour-led city council. The conference will attract up to 14,000 delegates spending some £20m and will boost Birmingham’s brand as it become a world news focus just months before the 2015 General Election. But Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, warned that it might be the last party conference for some time because the city would no longer subsidise such events. Labour councillor Sir Albert said: “In hosting next year’s event we are fulfilling a commitment to the previous administration. Looking beyond 2014, we are aiming to attract events in sectors the city is also targeting for investment. “This may mean that we do not host political conferences as we look to maximise investment opportunities with a range of events.” Despite Sir Albert’s strait-laced tone, business leaders have expressed excitement at what will be the fourth time the city has hosted the party since 2008. Andy Street, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is good news for the city. The economic benefit and media profile of hosting the event is significant and, as the last conference before the General Election, could make Greater Birmingham the scene of some interesting debates.” The conference was secured with support from the city’s major events fund, managed by Marketing Birmingham through its Meet Birmingham programme. Ian Taylor, commercial director of Marketing Birmingham, said: “This is an important piece of business and one that we have been working on for some time.”

It looks like Jaguar Land Rover is getting ready to expand its factory in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, after making room by buying a huge neighbouring cinema and closing its own social club. JLR has taken over the site containing the former Showcase Cinema, which closed suddenly in January after 20 years. And the popular Jaguar Sports and Social Club, also based next to the Castle Bromwich factory, closed in January. The club said in a statement: “JLR has plans to extend the current car plant. The club stands in the building line of these new proposals so they want to demolish the club and help us find a new home.” The firm has made no secret that it is urgently looking for extra capacity at Castle Bromwich, with a clutch of new models set to roll off the production lines. There are growing rumours that JLR is on the verge of announcing a new smaller car, set to rival the BMW 3 Series. The Castle Bromwich speculation comes as soaring worldwide car sales led to a recruitment drive for more than 800 new jobs at JLR’s Solihull plant. More than 200 of these new posts will be supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, while JLR is itself investing £370m at the plant. The expansion at Solihull, which already employs 6,000, will include an aluminium body shop for the Range Rover. The Indian-owned car maker, which is also developing a new engine plant at the i54 site near Wolverhampton, made a record £1.5bn profit last year, aided by a 71% increase in Jaguar and Land Rover sales to China, with 71,940 vehicles sold. The company also enjoyed a strong start to 2013, with sales up by more than 30% in January compared with the same month in 2012. Phil Popham, JLR group sales chief, said: “All of our key markets saw strong progress, with demand for our premium vehicles setting new records.”

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BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


COMPANY PROFILE

SPRING 13

The ultimate in premium live event hospitality Conveniently parking your car and slipping past the crowds to enter the arena through a private entrance, you can feel the atmosphere building in anticipation of one of the biggest acts taking to the stage. Sound checks and rehearsals have already happened and super-fans are fully-laden with merchandise which they’re desperate to have signed. It’s time for you to escape the crowds and sit down in the hospitality suite, relax in the luxurious surroundings, entertain your guests or celebrate a special occasion with loved ones. Delicious food prepared by award winning chefs is served and drinks from the complimentary bar can be enjoyed. After being ushered to best seats in the house you can sit back and enjoy a truly unforgettable experience. For over 20 years great hospitality has been delivered at the LG Arena and The NIA. amplify is the Arenas premium hospitality provider offering the very best combination of great food prepared by some of the UK’s leading chefs, amazing seats and ultimate live event experiences. amplify have built a reputation as quite simply the best concert hospitality in the business. Providing a truly unique concert experience in sensational stressfree luxury, amplify is the definition of stylish contemporary hospitality. amplify is the perfect treat to make the show you have been waiting for even more memorable, a night out with friends more of an occasion and if you are looking to organise corporate hospitality with a difference, a night your party will never forget. What is amplify? Ranging from drinks and buffet style packages to premium dining with exclusive arena seating, there are many ways to take your experience to the next level. Whether that be as an annual membership package or on a show by show basis (excluding air). amplify offers four levels of hospitality, Freestyle, Club, Air, and the brand new Club Plus, all of which

guarantee fantastic seats and exceptional levels of service.

AIR LIVE THE HIGH LIFE Air is an exclusive, strictly limited membership for pre and post-show hospitality and live performances at the LG Arena. This annual membership allows you to experience luxury and the ultimate in hospitality. You can relax at your table in the private members

restaurant to enjoy a fine dining gourmet grill food offer, then experience the ultimate VIP in hospitality on the VIP ShowDeck.

CLUB+ THE EXCLUSIVE UPGRADE MEMBERSHIP Club Plus is a brand new and exclusive membership which is the perfect interim to Air, our highest and most premium membership. Club Plus is designed to allow

LIVE 10 IT UP! LIVE

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

amplify is the perfect treat to make the show you have been waiting for even more memorable, a night out with friends more of an occasion and if you are looking to organise corporate hospitality with a difference, a night your party will never forget

T R E AT YO U R S E L F, E N T E RTA I N C L I E N T S O R C E L T EB RR E AT EYO U R S E L F, E N T E R A S P E C I A L O CC A S I O N W I T H S O M E O N E S P E C I A LA. S P E C I A L O CC A S I O N


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COMPANY PROFILE

amplify offer four levels of hospitality, Freestyle, Club, Air, and the brand new Club Plus, all of which guarantee fantastic seats and exceptional levels of service members the opportunity to purchase packages within the Club fine dining zones and also the amplify Air restaurant which offers a gourmet grill fine dining experience.

CLUB THE ULTIMATE PRE-SHOW EXPERIENCE Club offers a priority booking period and exclusive access to great seats. As part of this package you will receive a premium, fine dining experience which includes a private hospitality entrance, a champagne reception, exclusive use of a private dining restaurant pre-show, interval and post show as well as a complimentary car parking tickets. To top this exclusive pre-show experience off you will also receive upgraded seating to watch the show in ultimate comfort.

FREESTYLE HAVE A NIGHT TO REMEMBER A freestyle package is an easy, fun and informal way to relax and enjoy an upgrade from a standard ticket, making your experience a night to remember. As part of the package you will receive car parking, pre-show access to a private bar area, an informal buffet style meal as well as great seats to enjoy the show. Freestyle package s are available at both the LG Arena and The NIA. All tiers of amplify membership offer truly breath

taking entertainment and hospitality at its very best. At the NIA, the amplify Showcubes are another premium way to enjoy your favourite shows, with magnificent, panoramic views over the arena and the ultimate in luxury amenities. Each Showcube accommodates up to 14 guests, and guests can enjoy exclusive pre-show supper before taking balcony view seats, conveniently located directly outside the Showcube.

SHOWCUBES A PRIVATE AND LUXURIOUS EXPERIENCE Enjoy the show from the luxury of your own private box. Exclusive to The NIA, our Showcubes (Executive 14 seated private boxes) are a premium and intimate way to enjoy a show. The luxurious and plush Showcubes bring another level of comfort to your live experience. A panoramic view of the Arena, pre-show dining within the cube, hostess service and exclusive private balcony seating mean you don’t need to move from the comfort of your cube all evening. What truly makes amplify the best hospitality on the market, however, is not only the standard of the food, drinks and customer service on offer at the arenas. It is also the sheer brilliance of the entertainment itself. The LG Arena and the NIA attract the biggest stars in the world for concerts, to a degree almost unrivalled by any other UK venue. There is truly something amazing to satisfy

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every musical appetite. From Lionel Ritchie and George Michael to Beyonce and Justin Bieber and from One Direction to Andrea Bocelli and The Killers, amplify hospitality is available at the biggest and best concerts in the West Midlands. It isn’t simply music fans who can benefit from the outstanding hospitality on offer from amplify. Other fantastic events at the LG Arena and the NIA include comedy from stadium-packing stand-up superstars Michael McIntyre, John Bishop and Eddie Izzard alongside other events including Soccer Saturday Live, Crufts and many more. With as much attention to detail given to every aspect of the sensational hospitality as the entertainment itself, amplify are superstars of the hospitality industry. Next time you see your ultimate musical hero in action on stage, why not treat yourself and your guests to a luxury hospitality experience to match the world class entertainment?

For more information on how you can take your experience to the next level please call and speak to one of our dedicated Account Managers on: 0844 388 0333 or email: info@amplify.co.uk

BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


NEWS

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Cable confirmed as top speaker, market leaders scoop hat-trick, casino firm shows its hand, cab making to get motoring again, ale empire expands, and prison threat for banking crimes >> Cities go head to head

Paul Hutchens, centre, with Lord Karan Bilimoria, left, and Shalini Khemka

>> Solar star shines Renewable energy pioneer Paul Hutchens has been named ‘Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the 2013 Midlands Business Awards. Paul, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, set up the renewable energy firm Eco2Solar in 2007, providing solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and heat pump system installations for a broad range of commercial, social and domestic clients throughout the West Midlands and UK. The company enjoyed record growth last year with turnover well in excess of £5m. Paul said: “This is a reflection on the hard work of every member of the Eco2Solar team, which is making a significant contribution in promoting clean energy and reducing the carbon footprint of the region.” Paul accepted his accolade from Shalini Khemka, chief executive of award sponsors E2Exchange, and guest speaker Lord Karan Bilimoria, during an award ceremony in February at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham.

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Teams from Birmingham and Coventry will be competing for the attention of international inward investors at MIPIM 2013, the world’s leading real estate show in Cannes, France. Held from 12-15 March, nearly a dozen top companies will be representing Birmingham, including Nikal, GVA, DLA Piper Argent, Brindleyplace, Bruntwood, Jaguar Land Rover, Miller Developments, Rider Levett Bucknall and Willmott Dixon. Led by inward investment programme Business Birmingham, the delegation will promote development opportunities to an international audience of nearly 20,000 from 83 countries, including investors, business bosses, property experts and architects. Business Birmingham’s investment director Wouter Schuitemaker said: “MIPIM provides us with an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with people who influence where global organisations should be locating and investing.” Birmingham is hosting a number of high-profile events with its partners throughout the event – with topics including its progressive transport infrastructure and the investment opportunities in key sectors such as life sciences. The delegation will also present the latest research comparing Birmingham’s new economic zones with other international locations. Meanwhile, the University of Warwick and Coventry University have both joined Coventry’s MIPIM delegation.

>> New pastures await Tickets have gone on sale for bmi regional’s three new direct routes to Gothenburg, Lyon and Toulouse from Birmingham Airport. The direct flights

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start on Monday 13 May, with six flights a week on each route. Fares start from £59 each way. Cathal O’Connell, chief executive of bmi regional said: “Our choice of destinations is based on business and leisure customer demand. “Toulouse is a significant base for the aerospace business, Gothenburg and Lyon are home to major car manufacturing sites as well as high-tech industries. These three European cities are great destinations for leisure customers as well.”

>> Cable confirmed Vince Cable tops the bill at a transatlantic business conference in Birmingham in May. The secretary of state for business, innovation and skills will address a gala dinner being staged by the Midlands Chapter of the British American Business Council as part of its threeday annual conference. The dinner takes place on Thursday 16 May, in the Banqueting Suite at Birmingham Council House in the middle of a series of special events, meetings and conferences. Cassie Muir, the BABC’s executive director said: “We are delighted to have secured such an important member of the Government for the gala dinner. His presence will be greatly appreciated by our transatlantic audience and anything a government minister has to say impacts in UK-USA relationships.” The BABC, part of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, has secured major sponsorship by JLR, United Airlines and Birmingham Airport for the conference, which will welcome guests from 18 BABC chapters in the USA and Canada. The theme of the event will be ‘Strategies for success in tomorrow’s economy – design, advanced manufacturing and professional services’.

www.dbslaw.co.uk


SPRING 13

COMPANY PROFILE

State of the Region survey reveals prospects for growth Mark Beardmore, office managing partner for international law firm DLA Piper’s Birmingham office, takes an informed look at the West Midlands economy. As 2013 dawned, DLA Piper launched our third annual State of the Region survey in partnership with TheBusinessDesk.com. What shone through the results, despite lingering uncertainty over the domestic and global economy, was a sense of returning confidence in the region’s business scene and a belief that opportunities are out there for corporates prepared to take a bullish approach and proactively seek out growth. Out of the three region’s surveyed, the West Midlands was the most positive on prospects for growth. 75 per cent of respondents predict some growth within their business compared with 64 per cent in both Yorkshire and the North West. In addition, 79 per cent declared that the West Midlands is a good place to do business compared with 70 per cent in the North West and 64 per cent in Yorkshire. Recently a number of experiences, personal and professional, have reinforced for me the reasons why the region is indeed a good place to do business - namely its close knit community, an increasing sense of focus and the calibre of corporates and professional advisors who have an active presence in the region. It has been over a year since I officially took over as office managing partner at DLA Piper’s Birmingham office. Not only was it a challenging time for the economy, it was a challenging time for the office as I was taking on the role from our former managing partner, Russell Orme, who tragically lost his battle with cancer. Russell was an inspiring leader and a dear friend who I had worked with for over 17 years. We were touched by the tributes to Russell from his clients, the local business community and the local media and we continue to receive support in preserving his legacy. Russell was a committed supporter of Marie Curie and in November we organised a dinner in his memory which raised over £17,000 for the new Solihull based Marie Curie

Mark Beardmore, office managing partner, DLA Piper’s Birmingham office

Recently a number of experiences, personal and professional, have reinforced for me the reasons why the region is indeed a good place to do business hospice. In a rapidly evolving global business environment, this helped to bring home the value and importance of a continued sense of community, in which inspirational business leaders can make a mark. Historically, Birmingham built its reputation as the ‘workshop of the world’ and during a sluggish domestic economy, that spirit is shining through, with many companies determined to explore new shores. In our State of the Region survey, substantially more West Midlands companies identified targeting new international markets as a priority - 30 per cent compared to 22 per cent in Yorkshire and 21 per cent in the North West. The region’s reputation is also growing globally. We work closely with organisations, such as Business Birmingham, who are spearheading innovative

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initiatives to attract inward investment into in those sectors in which the West Midlands has a strong cluster of businesses and a good story to tell, including manufacturing, life sciences and technology - also key sectors for DLA Piper. It seems that the region’s renewed sense of focus is paying off. According to the latest figures, Birmingham attracted more foreign direct investment (“FDI”) last year than any other UK regional city and FDI created more than 6,700 jobs in the region. At DLA Piper’s Birmingham office, our international capability has undoubtedly helped us to secure roles on a number of high profile international transactions over the last year or so such as Intertek Group Plc’s £450 million acquisition of Moody International; Specialist Computer Holdings’ disposal of its Specialist Distribution Group and KSL’s acquisition of the Belfry golf resort, all of which are the kind of transactions which, traditionally, were advised out of London. We are also advising on landmark schemes that are shaping the region’s future as an internationally competitive business and leisure destination, such as the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and Genting’s ‘Resorts World’ complex at the NEC. It has been a long journey for all businesses through the double dip recession and whilst the storm clouds have not yet cleared, if we hold our confidence and focus our strategy then the signs are strong for the region in 2013.

Mark Beardmore Office Managing Partner Birmingham T: 0121 262 5889 E: mark.beardmore@dlapiper.com

BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


NEWS

SPRING 13

>> Market leaders

>> Historic lunch for hacks

West Midland markets have scooped a hat-trick of awards at the 2013 Markets of the Year Awards. Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market won ‘Best Market Attraction’, Walsall Night Market won ‘Best Speciality Market’, and the town of Oswestry, Shropshire, won ‘Best Local Council Market’. Don Foster, the communities minister, presented the awards at a Birmingham event organised by the National Association of British Market Authorities. “All of today’s award winners and nominees are playing a vital role in keeping their local high street flourishing,” he said.

Some of the region’s leading business journalists took a step back in time at the Institute of Directors’ Annual Media Lunch, held in the old Committee Room of the former Birmingham Stock Exchange. The lunch was hosted by EFG Independent Financial Advisers which now occupies the building in conjunction BQ at the IoD lunch... Paul Bassi, non-executive with stockbrokers EFG Harris Allday. director EFG-IFA, left, Ros Dodd of BQ magazine, The building combines modern office centre, and Peter London, chairman, EFG-IFA space with oak panelled rooms which have been maintained much as they were in the heyday of the Exchange. Guests were welcomed by John Male, managing director of EFG Independent Financial Advisers, which is part of EFG International and operates in over 30 locations worldwide with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. EFG-IFA was created by combining EFG Ashby London and EFG Platts Fello, the IFA businesses of EFG Private Bank Ltd. The Birmingham office is based in the old Stock Exchange building at 33 Great Charles Street, Birmingham, and also has offices in Wolverhampton and London. Guests from the media were given an overview of 2012 and thanked for their coverage by IoD West Midlands chairman John Rider, who is to retire in the spring after three years in the role.

>> Doors open to award A woman beat muscular male competitors to be named ‘Best Door Supervisor’ in the annual Best of Broad Street awards. Tracey Cowen, of Reflex, picked up her gong at the eighth year of the ‘BOBS’, which honour clubs, pubs, restaurants and the police working on Birmingham’s golden mile. Some of the other 20 awards given out at the International Convention Centre in January included: ‘Best Police Team’ for specials Tom Davey, Wayne Maskill and Zaffer Iqbal, who put in 2,000 voluntary hours on the street last year; ‘Most Innovative Venue’ for Cinema Cineworld, for drawing Danny DeVito to the premiere of animated film The Lorax last July; ‘Best Venue’ for the National Indoor Arena; ‘Best Family Day Out’ for the Sea Life Centre. A special award was also given to city centre police commander Clive Burgess, who retires this year. The BOBS are organised by the Broad Street Business Improvement District to reward the individuals and venues that make the the area a success. BID manager Mike Olley said: “For some, our awards night was their Christmas celebration because they had to work through the holiday.”

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

>> Casino firm shows its hand A ‘mini Las Vegas’ is coming to the West Midlands, with work starting on a new £150m casino and leisure complex at the NEC. It will take two years to build Resorts World Birmingham, a seven-storey structure with 538,000ft² of space. It will support up to 1,750 jobs during the construction, with another 1,100 jobs coming when opened in early 2015. Owned and operated by Genting Casinos UK, the complex will include a casino, a four star hotel and spa, dozens of designer retail units, an 11-screen cinema, various restaurants and bars, and a banqueting and conference centre to be operated by the NEC Group. Quizzed by journalists about gambling concerns and its potential impact on local

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neighbourhoods, Genting UK president Peter Brooks said: “This is an island site; those reservations around casinos on the high street do not apply here. The casino industry has an excellent record in promoting responsible gambling.” He added: “We have spent several years working closely with the NEC Group and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to make Resorts World a reality. “We are delighted to be further strengthening the offer at the NEC and that we will be delivering significant economic benefits to the regional economy.” Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said: “This project, and the decision by Genting to invest £150m here in Birmingham and £250m in the UK overall, is a major signal that Britain is open for business.”

www.dbslaw.co.uk


SPRING 13

NEWS

>> Busman’s paradise

>> A snapper to remember - By John Duckers

Shrewsbury has received the ‘Coach Friendly Town Award’ from the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT). Phil Bateman MBE, the CPT’s regional manager West Midlands, said: “Our award recognises and highlights the work that towns, attractions and local authorities undertake to improve coach access and driver facilities.” The award was presented to Shrewsbury at the CPT’s West Midlands Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony, at The Drayton Manor Hotel, Tamworth, in February.

Tragic news – Tony Flanagan, terrific photographer and a lovely man, died in early February. He passed away with his family around him after a brave fight against cancer, aged just 60. He is survived by his son Alex. Flan, as he was affectionately known, was widely known in the West Midlands business community for his work with corporates as well as coverage of events for the local media. He will be mourned by journalists, business leaders and the many other sectors he touched across the region. Flan was one of those ‘salt of the earth types’ who would do anything for anyone, readily going out of his way to help. He lived life to the full, had a fantastic contacts book and a huge circle of friends. He should be remembered sitting on a bar stool, enjoying banter in one of his many haunts, surrounded by laughter and companionship. It sometimes got him into scrapes – he kept getting banned from his local – but always bounced back. And he had a wealth of tales about the antics he and others got up to when on newspaper assignments – along with bundles of receipts to fool the keenest accountant scrutinising an expenses claim. Tony began his career as a photographer in 1972 when he joined the Birmingham Evening Mail as a trainee. He spent 15 years with the newspaper as a staff photographer, and won a number of awards during that time. He went freelance in 1987 and worked for the national and regional press, and for many Midlands PR agencies, public bodies and business organisations. Contrastingly, you would find him on a red top stakeout one day and a diary function for the Birmingham Post the next. Tony never turned down work and, if double-booked, passed it on to a colleague in the profession in need of an earner. Highly respected, he could produce quality and imaginative snaps from the dullest of jobs. Like all good photographers, he had a persuasive manner which soon had people relaxing in his company and often contorting themselves into shapes and stunts they would never ordinarily have been up for. His home was in the Worcestershire village of Feckenham, a house called the Old Cider Mill, appropriate as cider was always Flan’s favourite poison. He invested in property and rented out several cottages there. A widower, he had a twinkle in his eye for the ladies and the patter to go with it. Andy Skinner, of ASAP PR, and a chum of Tony’s for 35 years, said: “He was a real professional and a great friend to so many of us.” Ed James, chairman of Birmingham Press Club, where Flan was a director, said: “Flan was a great friend to me personally, a hugely talented photographer and one of Birmingham’s most colourful characters.” Press Club vice-chairman Fred Bromwich, who first worked with Tony on the Birmingham Post & Mail more than 40 years ago – and who shared a number of years with him as Press Club directors – said: “He was a photographic magician – full of charm, confidence, and a true professional who created so many award-winning images. He will be sadly missed – but at least we will all have some fantastic memories of him to cherish.”

>> Cab making motors again The production of London black cabs in the Midlands is set to restart soon after struggling LTI was sold for £11.4m to Chinese car maker Geely. LTI went into administration in October, losing more than half its workforce at the Holyhead Road plant in Coventry. But Geely has now announced it has acquired the business and principal assets from LTI owners Manganese Bronze Holdings. The deal, which was agreed with administrators PwC, will safeguard production in the UK and the remaining 80 jobs at the plant in Coventry. The world famous cab maker was forced into administration after more than 400 cabs were recalled with faulty steering boxes. The faults were discovered after two cab drivers reported problems with steering in its TX4 models, which were only introduced into production in late February last year. A total of 99 workers in the city were made redundant.

>> Drink firm’s triple measure Micro brewer Purity is building a new £1.4m brewery on farmland near its Midland headquarters. Purity Brewing Co, based near Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, will triple the amount of beer it produces when the project is completed in March. The business, which first launched in 2006, is also planning to launch a brand new beer towards the end of the year.

ONLINE: Read the latest news and views from the West Midlands business community every day by visiting our website: www.bq-magazine.co.uk

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BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


NEWS

SPRING 13

>> Ale empire expands

>> Influencers are royally recognised A number of top gongs were awarded to leading figures in the West Midland business community in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours. Christine Braddock, principal of Birmingham Metropolitan College and who formerly served as president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, became a Dame for her services to further education. Entrepreneur Denys Shortt, the former England hockey international who has built up his Stratford-on-Avon DCS Europe health and beauty products business from scratch over the last 18 years, received an OBE for services to the economy of the West Midlands. Top quantity surveyor David Bucknall, who recently retired as chairman of Birmingham-based property and construction practice Rider Levett Bucknall, received the OBE for services to the construction industry. Rodney Melville, whose Leamington Spa architects practice has worked on some of the most prestigious buildings in the region, received an OBE for his services to architecture. Professor Richard Parker, director of research and technology for Rolls-Royce Group, received the CBE for services to engineering. And Simona Carol Novelli, operations director at Solihull-based exhibitions company Cox Exhibitions Consultants, received the MBE for services to international trade.

>> German takeover West Midlands engineering group Norman Hay has bought Sterr & Eder, a highly specialised technical engineering business based in Velden, Germany. It is the second major acquisition in as many months for the Coventry-based group, which took over the Sifco-ASC Group in December. The Birmingham office of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking provided multi-million pound funding for the deal, using money from the Government-backed Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). The precise financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. Sterr & Eder provides skilled ‘processing’ services to the automotive and foundry industry, including impregnation, fettling, shot blasting, leak testing, x-ray analysis, crack detection, industrial washing, heat treatment and hardness testing. Nick Ogden, group financial director of Norman Hay, said: “The completion of two high-quality acquisitions in such quick succession is a milestone for our business, and forms part of our strategic plan to expand internationally into areas that have

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

a clear synergy with our existing operations.”  Established in 1946, Norman Hay plc is a specialist producer of chemicals, sealants and industrial coatings that perform in harsh environments. Customers include BMW, Rolls Royce and GE Oil and Gas.

>> Steering clear of disputes Warwickshire-based law firm Lodders has launched a new fixed cost employment advice service to help SMEs with the unpredictable nature of staff disputes. Fixed annual fees from £1,350 allow subscribers to access the new Empline advice service via a secure online portal. Kim Klahn, a solicitor from Lodders’ Business Group, said: “Over 80% of small firms use external expertise to comply with employment regulations, but now there is a more cost effective way to stop employment law holding your business back.”

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Real ale giant Marston’s is planning a huge expansion in 2013, opening up to 25 new pubs and creating hundreds of new jobs. The Wolverhampton-based Marston’s Inns and Taverns is also set to introduce wi-fi for the use of customers at all its managed pubs. Peter Dalzell, Marston’s managing director, said: “We will be on track to open 20 to 25 more in the next 12 months. Our breweries have continued to perform well, and Banks’s has sold particularly well in its new bottle format. “In the pubs we have introduced a range of single hop cask beers brewed in Wolverhampton which have been very popular. “The economy is likely to remain weak for the foreseeable future, but we have a clear, proven plan to keep achieving growth for the business. We will continue to make sure we are giving our customers what they want, when they want it, by consistently improving standards, service and range and by making sure our customers enjoy visiting our pubs.”

>> Tuning into TV sector Birmingham could become the new multimillion pound hub for local television, it has been claimed. Comux UK, the company receiving the BBC’s £25m dowry to set up the broadcast infrastructure for Britain’s new local TV networks, is setting up its base at Birmingham Science Park Aston. Comux, a subsidiary of TV channel management company Canis Media, was awarded the 12-year licence by Ofcom to run the ‘network multiplex’ that the initial 19 local TV stations will use to broadcast their channels. The aim is to have some of the local TV channels on air by the end of 2013 – including Birmingham’s City TV, run by former council spin-doctor Debra Davies and her rocker partner Alan Grindley. Ms Davies said: “We were delighted to be working with Canis on their application. And Canis was very helpful to us with their broadcast expertise.”

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>> Prison needed to reform banking crimes A leading Midland business chief has warned that jail may be needed to help restore banking standards. John Rider, the regional chairman of the West Midlands Institute of Directors, said the situation is so serious that prison sentences may have to be meted out before the financial sector can be made to change its ways. He said: “Bankers are still in the headlines with Libor rigging, money laundering on a seemingly industrial scale, mis-selling and a general failure to do the things normal banks should do – such as responsible lending. I can’t help thinking that even (tax deductible) fines over £1bn will not change behaviour unless they are accompanied by tough criminal sanctions. “The vast majority of business people are straightforward, honest and hardworking. We must not let our standards of morality drop – honesty is the best policy. It’s time to stop bending the rules to breaking point. Let’s challenge dishonesty at every opportunity.” He added that he was quietly encouraged by the words of the new Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins, who has publicly told staff that they should leave the bank if they do not want to sign up to a set of standards aimed at rebuilding the bank’s reputation.

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NEWS

SPRING 13

>> Giving something back

Karl and nurse friends Midland war hero karl Hinett made headlines around the world in 2005 when his burning body was pictured jumping from his tank in Iraq. It took medical staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham five years to patch up his ravaged skin, which suffered 37 per cent burns. Since his discharge in 2010, Karl, from Tipton in the Black Country, has dedicated his life to fundraising in honour of the doctors and nurses on the burns unit who saved his life. And last year he completed an epic two-year endurance that saw him run nearly 3,000 miles in 100 marathons in 26 countries – raising £30,000 for the QEHB Charity. Now Karl, aged 26, wants his feat to inspire business men and women to take part in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run in October in aid of the charity. “It felt amazing,” said Karl. “Leading up to it, I could feel my body was really getting tired so it felt great to have finally finished. If I can do it, anybody can!” Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity exists to support the patients of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. It does this by providing extra equipment and facilities at the Queen Elizabeth hospitals and by funding research, all of which are over and above core NHS services. The charity also

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

supports the military patients treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and is raising funds to build Fisher House (www. fisherhouseuk.org), a ‘home from home’ for military patients and their families to spend time together in a non-clinical environment. Businesses wanting to help raise funds should contact the QEHB Charity on 0121 371 4842 or by email at charities@uhb.nhs.uk. Or sign up for the BUPA Great Birmingham Run at www.qehb.org/shop or by contacting Justine Davy at the charity. • The QEHB Charity is holding the Fisher House Ball at the Palace Suite, Metropole Hotel, NEC, Birmingham on 22 June, to raise money for the new military home. www.qehb.org for more details. Michael allchin, chief executive of The Birmingham Assay Office, has been presented with a Fundraiser of the Year Award by Cyclists Fighting Cancer. Michael raised £16,000 for the charity with a 50-mile ride through a very cold, wet and windy Cotswolds in September. The money funded the purchase of 45 bikes, six trikes, five KMX Karts and one tandem, making a significant improvement to the lives of 57 children with cancer, and their families. Michael said: “The support, encouragement and overwhelming generosity of many friends and colleagues in the jewellery industry has been tremendous and the outcome makes it all worthwhile, although I still never want to be so cold, wet and exhausted again.” The first ever JCB Mud Run raised more than £30,000 to help children in the Midlands at risk of harm and abuse. Around 500 JCB employees and members of the public braved winter weather to slither and slide around a five mile course over

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20 obstacles near to the grounds of JCB’s headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire. The £30,624 raised will now go towards the company’s £1m NSPCC Appeal to support Carole House, a specialist NSPCC Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, dedicated to saving babies and young children across Staffordshire from abuse and harm. JCB has been raising money for the NSPCC for nearly 30 years when Lady Carole Bamford, wife of JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, became involved when her own three children were young. Carole House is named after Lady Bamford in honour of JCB’s fundraising. The current appeal has recently broken through the £750,000 mark – and Sir Anthony Bamford has pledged to double the appeal total once the £1m target has been reached. Forresters, the Birmingham-based intellectual property specialists, has chosen the city’s John Taylor Hospice as its charity for 2012/13. The psychological therapies and well-being team at John Taylor Hospice in Erdington has already received a dictation machine, a selection of books and memory boxes as part of the deal. A retiring senior partner at KPMG in Birmingham raised more than £6,000 for a children’s hospice by asking colleagues to make cash donations in lieu of gifts. Mark Hopton, of Solihull, has been supporting Acorns for more than ten years at fundraising events, and has now been appointed as trustee of the charity. He said: “As one of the most deserving and stand-out local charities, I am absolutely delighted to be joining Acorns as a trustee.”

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SPRING 13

COMPANY PROFILE

Businesses thrive on Birmingham’s ‘Golden Mile’ At a time when major chains are crashing, businesses on Birmingham’s Broad Street continue to thrive. Known as the city’s ‘golden mile’, Broad Street is a mixed-use leisure and business district with a footfall of 300,000 people every week. Recent expansions, redevelopments and consistent acquisitions of business premises reflect an area that rolls its sleeves up and says “work must go on” – despite the recession. The driving force behind this dynamic area is the Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID). Established in 2005, the BID represents and advises more than 300 businesses – including many offices, hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants and leisure venues. Now in its second term, the BID works to create a more attractive, better marketed, brighter, safer and cleaner business environment, and to drive new investment into the area. Long term projects include the improvement of transport links into the district and proposals for the regeneration of Gas Street. The BID has high expectations for future business success in the area. Mike Olley, Broad Street BID manager, said: “The acquisition of Brindleyplace by Hines & Moorfield, and the planned investment by Seven Capital in the Auchinleck House redevelopment, are both testimonies to the renewed confidence in the area.” Saqib Bhatti, the BID’s newly-appointed shadow director, is an associate at Younis Bhatti & Co Ltd chartered accountants, a business that has been based on Broad Street for more than 15 years. Saqib said: “Broad Street is famous for its nightlife, but during the day is a hub for a variety of businesses, including professional services such as our own. We’re proud to tell people that our flourishing practice is based on Broad Street, providing high-quality advice to businesses across the West Midlands. We believe our growth is aided by our central and accessible location.” Younis Bhatti & Co. Ltd Younis Bhatti, the founding partner and director of Younis Bhatti & Co. Ltd, is a fellow of the Institute

Younis Bhatti

Saqib Bhatti

We’re proud to tell people that our flourishing practice is based on Broad Street

Saqib, who studied Law at the London School of Economics, believes in helping to develop the community. At the LSE, he was President of the Pakistan Society and was invited to represent Pakistan on Commonwealth Day in 2007. He is now the youngest serving member on the executive committee of Birmingham’s Institute of Asian Businesses. He is also an executive committee member and chair of the membership committee at The Lunar Society of Birmingham, which influences positive change by stimulating debate of new ideas. In 2012, Saqib was shortlisted in Birmingham’s ‘Young Professional of the Year’ awards.

of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Younis has held many high-profile positions in the West Midlands: he is a former chairman of both the Institute of Asian Businesses and the Birmingham Asian Businesses Association, and is a former council member of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few. Outside of work, Younis is executive director of Al-Shifa Trust (UK) Ltd, which raises funds for the treatment and prevention of blindness in Pakistan. He has also been a director in City Pride which oversaw the development of the Bull Ring and was a nonexecutive director of the Manor Hospital in Walsall. Following in his father’s footsteps is Saqib Bhatti, also a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and now an associate at Younis Bhatti & Co. Ltd. Saqib qualified at Deloitte where his clients included top retail and private banks. He was also a financial instruments specialist, consulting nationally on cash management and the valuation of complex derivatives and hedging mechanisms.

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Broad Street BID, Quayside Tower, 252-260 Broad Street, B1 2HF broadstreetbirmingham.com Younis Bhatti & Co. Limited Chartered Accountants And Registered Auditors 93 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AU www.younisbhatti.com/

BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


NEWS

SPRING 13

>> Movers and shakers The NEC Group has appointed Stuart Cain as the managing director of its newly-created commercial marketing business agency. The development comes after continued success at The Ticket Factory, the UK’s third largest ticketing agent, and the launch of a ‘live event’ marketing agency, Eight Feet Tall. Stuart was previously marketing director at the NEC Group and will be replaced by Nicola Young, who joins from Burton-based global brewer, Molson Coors. Stuart, who also joins the NEC Group’s executive board, said: “My job is to support the great people we have working out of the NEC and make sure the business continues to grow nationally and internationally.”

regarded as one of the UK’s best private equity lawyers. He becomes a corporate partner at Mills & Reeve, which advised on a record number of deals last year including advising Virgin Care on a £500 million NHS contract. Steve Allen, partner and head of Mills & Reeve’s Birmingham office, said: “Peter is widely regarded as a ‘big hitter’ in dealmaking circles. His standing, both in the Midlands and nationally, underlines our determination to become the law firm of choice for business in the region.”

Mike Steventon, senior partner at KPMG’s Birmingham office, has become regional chairman of the accountancy giant from the beginning of this year. Mike’s promotion comes as Steve Hollis steps down from the chair ahead of his retirement this spring. The changes came as KPMG announced that it is to create six new partners in the Midlands. Mr Hollis, one of the best-known faces on the West Midlands business circuit, said: “The KPMG team in the Midlands has done a great job over the last two years. Together we have built real momentum and I am confident Mike will do a great job in taking this forward.” Mike said: “Steve has made a significant impact upon the local marketplace and helped drive KPMG into the position of strength we now find ourselves.”

The Birmingham office of leading business and finance adviser Grant Thornton has made three new senior appointments across key areas of the business. Associate director Becky Eagle joins the firm’s Audit practice following 15 years at KPMG. Paul Tallon joins the Advisory team also as an associate director after seven years at BDO in Birmingham. And Donald Sadler becomes a senior audit manager in Business Risk Services, moving from KPMG.

One of Birmingham’s top deal-makers has been poached from law firm Squire Sanders by rival Mills & Reeve. Peter McLintock, who was a partner at Squire Sanders, specialises in all aspects of corporate finance and is

Birmingham-based chartered surveyors Pennycuick Collins has announced the appointment of Paul Steele as associate partner. Paul has over 30 years experience within

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

From left, Paul Tallon, Becky Eagle and Donald Sadler

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the profession and has particular expertise in valuation, an area of the business that Pennycuick Collins is expanding. To strengthen the existing commercial property team Sara Elwell has also joined as a graduate surveyor after receiving a First Class degree in Real Estate Management and Business from Liverpool John Moores University. National property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has appointed Julian Warbrick as director of its Birmingham-based corporate recovery team. Julian, formerly a director at Jones Lang LaSalle, will work closely with LSH’s national corporate recovery team led by John Knowles. Midland law firm Lodders has promoted three solicitors who all began as trainees to associate status. David Lodder, senior partner at the Stratfordupon-Avon firm, said that kim klahn, Emma Vaqueiro and Laura Eaves were all “talented members of the team” who had “made a substantial contribution to our success”. Clarke Associates, the leading West Midlands based PR and marketing agency, has announced two new appointments to its team. Penny Thorp, aged 26, has joined the Wythall consultancy as a communications executive. She has previously worked on communication campaigns for Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Meridian, CIPR and West Sussex NHS Trust. ash Dhindsa, 20, has joined as an intern from Birmingham City University after winning a competition for a PR placement via the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

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SPRING 13

COMPANY PROFILE

Turning potential into reality Marketing Birmingham is the city’s strategic marketing partnership and the driving force behind its growing reputation as a place to visit, meet and invest. We operate the city’s leisure and business tourism programmes, Visit and Meet Birmingham as well as inward investment programme Business Birmingham. We have a clear vision for the future. It is one where our city is a thriving economic hub and a pleasure to visit time and again. A city that’s proud of its story and confident of its future. To bring this vision to life we put partnership to work, bringing together some of the area’s biggest companies and most influential players to create real opportunities for growth. BIRMInGHAM IS FAST BECOMInG A TRULY InTERnATIOnAL CITY We are a city that is bucking the trend, attracting more foreign direct investment and more visitors than ever despite challenging economic conditions and increasing competition. Last year we saw a near 40% increase in inward investment projects against a 2% decline across the UK, while our visitor numbers have reached a high of 33.5million – contributing a record £4.9 billion to the local economy. These results are no accident. Birmingham is the engine room of the UK economy – it is where ideas ignite and work gets done. And, as the largest regional city in the UK, we have the size, scale and population to make us key, not only to the UK’s economic growth, but also the world’s. BUSInESS BIRMInGHAM Business Birmingham is the city’s inward investment programme. The programme’s aim is to create jobs by supporting companies looking to locate or expand in the Birmingham city region. To do this we’ve developed an ambitious plan for attracting investment to the region. It’s based on comprehensive research and analysis of the area’s sectoral strengths. Working with city partners we’ve established six new economic zones across Birmingham. In a first for the UK, the zones align the city’s planning across all target sectors for FDI, inward investment and economic priorities and allow us to create tailored space, facilities and support for investors in growing sectors. Joining forces with more than 110 strategic partners across the business community, we’ve

The heart of our business is in Birmingham and the wider region, a place that offers so much for potential investors in addition to companies looking to expand. We have worked closely with Business Birmingham to access government schemes and support for our supply chain, which has assisted our growth in the region as well as underlining that the city can truly compete with leading business destinations from across the world. Mike Wright, Executive Director, Jaguar Land Rover developed customised incentive packages to bring businesses to the area by matching them with local companies that can provide specialist support. Focusing on business solutions, the benefits range from market intelligence to bespoke consultancy, networking opportunities and access to finance through our partners. Beyond developing the city’s offer, Business Birmingham has undertaken significant sales and marketing campaigns, taking part in more than 30 national and international sales missions and events in target markets in the last 18 months. Moreover, we’ve established a physical presence in key markets with representatives now based in North America, India, China, Australia and Germany. Since our launch in April 2011, Business Birmingham has helped out some big names including NVC, Gensler, Jaguar Land Rover,

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Skanska, Codemasters, the Business Growth Fund and Deutsche Bank. Whether you are looking to relocate your business to the city, are already based here and have expansion plans, or simply want to get involved in the opportunities our work delivers for partners, get in touch.

Contact: Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director W: www.businessbirmingham.com E: invest@marketingbirmingham.com T: +44 (0)121 202 5022

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AS I SEE IT

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MORE THAN A GAME Aston Villa’s season has been pretty miserable. Knocked out of two cups by lower league teams, they are now struggling in the Premier League. But running a football club is not just about results on the pitch, as Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner explains Aston Villa lies at the heart of the Birmingham and West Midlands community, an integral player in the grand theatre of modern football. Since 2006, when Randy Lerner bought the club, we have concentrated on developing a sustainable local business – and a culture within that business – that can function and grow. Working with and within the local business community has been a key element in our strategy. The history, heritage and great traditions of Villa were attractive to Mr Lerner from the outset. We’re proud of the fact that the founder of the Football League back in 1888 – William McGregor – was a Villa man. We’re proud of the great European Cup winning team of 1982, of players such as Mortimer, Withe and Cowans. And we’re proud of our work in our community, binding us to our roots and to our core fans and fans of the future, from the equality and diversity ideals we espouse through initiatives to bring together a spectrum of young people at Villa Park, to the Soccer Schools run by our FA-qualified community coaches. It was the opportunity to embrace these many different elements of a society and area which had great potential for growth that contributed significantly to the decision to buy

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Villa. The city isn’t a crowded marketplace in terms of football, certainly compared with London and the North West. We felt that a club in the right-sized city would give us the chance to develop a core fan base and corporate backing to support a competitive team. Birmingham and the West Midlands were big enough for that to work. Estimates show the city’s population of more than one million will grow by around 12% over the next 15 years, with a further two million people living within a 15-mile radius. The average age of residents is 36 against a national average of 39, and the city is one of the most ethnically diverse in Europe. Birmingham is thriving and developing and offers exciting opportunities for organisations based in the area. Birmingham has a highly-developed transport infrastructure which benefits from being in the heart of the country. Birmingham Airport’s £40 m runway extension will double its passenger capacity to over 20 million people annually and open new routes to the Far East and North America. This is something we are excited about and hope to benefit from, as new routes to markets with avid followers of English football open up increased sponsorship possibilities with new

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airlines and businesses. Birmingham is also a major hub of the UK’s rail network. New Street Station’s £100m redevelopment, and the new retail and leisure facilities that are part of the project, will give the city centre an economic boost, providing an attractive new welcome to visitors. There is no doubt that the recession from 2008 has hurt the area and hurt good people. But the vitality central to developments such as these, and Birmingham’s general ‘Big City Plan’ regeneration programme, give genuine reason to be optimistic. Jaguar Land Rover recently announced 800 new jobs at its Solihull plant and over £370m of investment to the region. The new £200m Library of Birmingham, of which I’m proud to be a Trustee, opens in September – the UK’s largest public library, it will be a cultural focal point and an iconic city building. The £500m Queen Elizabeth ‘super hospital’ provides a national specialist centre for liver, heart and lung transplants, as well as cancer studies, and is a beacon we can all be genuinely proud of. Birmingham is a national centre of excellence in life sciences, and the QE’s


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future developments could make the city a global leader in that field. I take particular pride in the fact that my wife is a doctor at the QE and also in the ongoing relationship between the club and Cure Leukaemia, whose centre is based there. This took on added resonance when our club captain, Stiliyan Petrov, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012. Cure Leukaemia enables patients in the West Midlands to access potentially life-saving and ground-breaking drugs and treatments. Cure Leukaemia’s dedication and pioneering work is inspiring and we’re delighted to have worked with them. Stiliyan is a very powerful symbol of the way in which leukaemia can strike anybody, however fit they may be, and he also embodies the strength and courage needed in the battle to overcome this disease. From day one it has been our aim to be ‘good citizens’ in our community, and the most high-profile example of this is our longstanding relationship with Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns was proudly displayed on our shirts for two seasons from 2008/09, and has remained our official charity partner. Continuous funding is vital to provide the necessary care for more than 600 life-limited and life-threatened Acorns children, and we remain committed to providing both money and a platform for Acorns to maintain a high profile. We fundamentally believe in the strength of our relationships with our charity and other partners, and with fellow businesses within Birmingham and the region. A strong infrastructure is crucial when you are building something designed to be solid and lasting. For Aston Villa, this is intrinsic in recent redevelopments at Villa Park, for instance in

AS I SEE IT

Football is about communities - people coming together, showing passion and demonstrating a dynamic confluence of their hopes and fears, their anxieties and aspirations the Trinity Road Stand and the Holte Suite, at a cost of £8m, allowing us to offer award-winning hospitality. At the most recent Official Football Hospitality Awards we won seven gongs, including gold standard for chef team of the year. VMF, our renowned training restaurant, currently in the top 10 restaurants in Birmingham on TripAdvisor, addresses environmental issues by using a remarkable 80% of produce from within a 40-mile radius of Villa Park, including fruit and vegetables grown at the club’s own allotment. The £13m redevelopment of the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground, completed in 2007, provided the club with a world-class facility. Players such as Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Chris Herd have recently emerged from our Academy, continuing a rich tradition of youth development. From 1998 through to the 2010-11 season, 145 players came through Villa’s Academy. Of these, 51.7% have played in the Premier League, the Football League or top overseas leagues, and 15 became full internationals. The club secured Category One status for the Academy following an independent audit of our youth development programmes, part of the Barclays Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan. In addition, it was ranked as the No.1 Academy in the country, a real

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testament to our investment in young players, vital in the new era of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play and the Premier League’s tougher regulation of clubs’ financial outlays. All of this feeds into the composition and competitiveness of our first team. Last summer, Villa identified in manager Paul Lambert the kind of qualities we believe will heighten our prospects of being able to compete strongly in one of the most fiercely-fought and unforgiving environments in the world of sport. Although our Premier League performance to date has been more inconsistent than anyone associated with the club would have wanted, results such as winning at Anfield and progressing to the Capital One Cup semi-finals provided tangible evidence of a young team coming together. The development of the team, with its mix of youth and experience, bodes well for the future, which we feel will be exciting for the club.Football is about communities – people coming together, showing passion and demonstrating a dynamic confluence of their hopes and fears, their anxieties and aspirations. It is a vital drama in our everyday lives, and Aston Villa is a central part of the landscape of this modern, growing, constantly evolving, vibrant city. n

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ENTREPRENEUR

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LIFE AFTER BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13


ENTREPRENEUR

Going into business with multi-millionaire Lord Sugar is the top prize in BBC1’s The Apprentice. But what happens to all those candidates who don’t win? Steve Dyson puts ‘Twenty Questions’ to three ex-Apprentice candidates from the West Midlands

SUGAR

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Q. Where and when were you born? Nick Holzherr: “Technically I’m a Londoner – I was born there in 1986 – but moved to Switzerland at just six months’ old. My family lived there for seven years before coming back to the UK.” Ruth Badger: “Wednesfield, Wolverhampton in the very late 1970s.” Joy Stefanicki: “Southampton, UK. You know you should never ask a lady her age! I expected more of you BQ… ;)” Q. What was your nickname at school/college? Nick: “At university I was nicknamed ‘shaggy’ because I had shaggy hair. Most people called me that!” Ruth: “My nickname at school was ‘Sick Note’ as I never went!” >>

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ENTREPRENEUR Joy: “My nickname has pretty much always been ‘Joyous’, started by an ex-boyfriend. It works for me.” Q. What’s your link now with the West Midlands? Nick: “I first came to the West Midlands to study International Business and Modern Languages at Aston University. When graduating I started my first business here, with Aston Uni acting as our first ‘landlord’ by renting a space to put a coffee outlet on. I then started working out of Birmingham Science Park Aston, when I set up a software technology business. “When founding Whisk, I decided to stick to Birmingham because of the great experience I had setting up my other businesses here. I don’t have any family ties to the West Midlands, but truly believe it’s one of the best places in the country to set up a new business. There’s lots of talent to hire, the professional community is both high-quality and very supportive, and everything is far cheaper than London.” Ruth: “My whole family still reside in Wolves so, although I live in Manchester, I visit the city once a month and still call it home.” Joy: “Birmingham is my second home. I was there from 2000 to 2012, bar a year in New York. I’ve still got an apartment in Birmingham city centre that I rent out, and I visit every few months to catch up with my nearest and dearest. Although I’m based in London now, I’ll always support the West Midlands. I can easily see myself coming back some day.” Q. What was your first real job, and what made you want to be an entrepreneur? Nick: “I had more than 10 jobs before setting up my own company. When I was 14 I worked in a hardware retailer organising builder jobs on a Saturday and in a fish and chip shop in the evenings. My first real job was working for Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, in the international investment banking team. It was then that I came up with my first business plan, so decided I’d take the plunge and break away from corporate life to set up by myself.” Ruth: “My first full time job was as a YTS in a local Job Centre which I used as my first stepping stone. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to own my own business and be rich. I think this was founded by being brought

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

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Whisk taker: Former star of The Apprentice, Nick Holzherr

The total silence and presence of Lord Sugar makes us all nervous. His questions are also very short and he always gets to the point immediately up in a loving family but a working class family which pushed me to want more.” Joy: “I worked for my parents who ran a pub from the age of 13 washing dishes and chopping veg. I had weekend jobs in a supermarket and video shop until I discovered waitressing and bar work, which saw me through university. My first role after graduating was as a PR executive at Citigate

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Dewe Rogerson. Fiona Tooley hired me after I did some work experience. I definitely have an entrepreneurial spirit and it’s in my blood to work hard and be ambitious. My parents have always been self-employed so I know how difficult it can be, as well as how rewarding.” Q. What made you apply for The Apprentice? Was it an easy process? Nick: “A friend forwarded me an application and it was only a few lines of text in a few boxes, so I filled the form in without really thinking about it. When asked to go to the auditions I thought ‘maybe I’ll meet someone from The Apprentice...’ and it was only 10-15 minutes from my office. It was a surprise to be offered a contract to go on the show and, after lots of advice from friends and colleagues, I decided to do it. It was fantastic fun and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The process was intense – very long hours, huge pressure and totally new environments and scenarios. But a huge amount of fun.” Ruth: “I fancied a change from what I was doing as I had reached the level of sales director by the age of 26 and was unchallenged. I love being tested and The Apprentice gave me one of the biggest tests I have ever done. The process to get in was easy for me but I only went through three interviews and a two-hour assessment, so I had it easy!” Joy: “When I applied for the show it was to earn a well-paid ‘Apprenticeship’ with Lord Sugar, an employer I thought would make the most of my personality. That’s what appealed. I had just been made redundant from a job in the USA and was setting up by myself. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m not afraid of taking risks and this was one of those opportunities I thought was worth a shot. It wasn’t a difficult process, but there were quite a few stages to it.” Q. Once selected, how long did your ‘reality TV’ experience last? Nick: “I still get recognised in the streets. Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes not – it depends on how tired I’m feeling! The most intense ‘reality TV’ part is two to three months after the show. People still recognise me in business – it helps to have a reputation.” Ruth: “It hasn’t ended! I filmed the show for


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two months, went to work for Lord Sugar for six months and have profited off the back of it since!” Joy: “About five minutes as I was out in week two!” Q. Did you really get to know Alan Sugar? Nick: “We spent a lot of time with Lord Sugar in the boardroom and in project briefing sessions. They are not as short as on TV and can last several hours each. However, we don’t go backstage to have a cup of tea with him and a casual chat. We only see him in formal situations. The production company do it to uphold our ‘respect’ for Lord Sugar – we’re not actors so they need to make the entire process as real as possible for us candidates.” Ruth: “Candidates who say they know him don’t! The only two who can say they know him are the finalists, as they are employed by him.” Joy: “No. I believe that the finalists meet him off camera, but for the most part you only see him while he’s on camera during filming.” Q. What about his assistants, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford and, since 2010, Karren Brady? Nick: “We see a lot more of Nick and Karren. They spend days with us on each task. Both are very nice people, although quite different. I have a huge amount of respect for Karren – she’s a very switched-on lady. In tasks she was always sharp, understood situations well and helped us navigate the process. Nick Hewer is very funny. It’s obvious he’s a ‘media man’ and knows how to work the cameras with his scowls and facial expressions!” Ruth: “I really liked Nick and Margaret and have a great fondness of them as you have more contact with them in the show than Lord Sugar. I have kept in distant contact with Nick.” Joy: “Not them either. Again, my personal experience was that we only got to interact with them while we were filming. I’d met Karren Brady around town before, but we didn’t talk during the show. It’s

businessteam@bham.ac.uk www.birmingham.ac.uk/partners

ENTREPRENEUR

A stern test: The boardoom experience is not for the faint hearted, says Ruth Badger

The Apprentice taught me so much, it pushed me right out of my comfort zone and made me realise what I enjoyed quite strict when you’re in it!” Q. What did it actually feel like in front of the board? Nick: “It’s a scary process. The production

company builds up the pressure by making us wait in silence for long periods of time and it’s all very formal. The total silence and presence of Lord Sugar makes all of us nervous. His questions are also very short and he always gets to the point immediately – you can’t fool the man.” Ruth: “I can honestly say that the boardroom experience isn’t for the faint hearted! You have to be brave, strong and ready to fight, so naturally I loved it!” Joy: “Way more intimidating than I expected. The atmosphere is all set up to freak you out and it works. I guess after a couple of weeks you’d know what to expect and it would stop being so surreal, but I just couldn’t believe I was in the boardroom in front of him. I mainly grinned in disbelief the entire time I was in there!” Q. What about the moment you were ‘fired’… how did you feel? Nick: “Getting fired is obviously disappointing, but because it was in the final I wasn’t too upset. I could see it coming from the interviews – the advisors didn’t see the value in my business idea. However, you don’t 100% know because they do also need to make it ‘look’ tough for the cameras!” Ruth: “I was never fired, so if you watch the show back I must still be in the boardroom.” [Ruth was runner-up.] Joy: “Frustrated. Disappointed. Embarrassed.” Q. Do you think you managed to put across who you were on The Apprentice? Nick: “Yes, I think it is an accurate view of everyone. It’s a bit of a caricature – they make everything more extreme than reality. That’s also partly because to battle against a lot of strong egos you do need to act more loudly and brashly than in real life. The show’s focus is on mistakes and faults, which obviously makes it such compelling viewing for people. But I was presented reasonably well. It may of course have turned out differently had I been fired in week one or two!” Ruth: “Yes I do, although I don’t say >>

Putting world-class expertise to work in your business

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BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


ENTREPRENEUR ‘without a doubt’ every five minutes! The only point I would make is I am far slimmer, younger and better looking in real life.” Joy: “I think people who know me were surprised at how quiet I came across and I’m sure a lot has to end up on the cutting room floor. I wasn’t unhappy with how I came across, though. I demonstrated professionalism and kept my integrity, which was always important to me given the context of the show.” Q. How often did people stop you in the street afterwards to ask: ‘Were you on The Apprentice?’ Nick: “Straight after the programme, I would be stopped multiple times every time I went somewhere. Sometimes I couldn’t walk a few metres without someone noticing. Most people say something nice and want a photo. It does get a bit freaky when I get back from a shopping trip and I have three or four tweets detailing where I’ve been that day and saying what I’ve bought in the shops. “Now, I get a couple of people recognise me when I go on a shopping trip and a few ‘I’ve spotted you’ tweets a day. It depends where I go – sometimes I get noticed loads of times and then sometimes not at all.” Ruth: “I have a very familiar name and went on to do two other TV series, so I get stopped daily and strangely people know my voice as much as my face.” Joy: “While the show was on air it happened quite a lot, but very rarely these days. I have been asked in the middle of client meetings and I always find it highly embarrassing.” Q. What did you learn from The Apprentice? Nick: “Firstly, I learnt how a TV programme is made and how having TV exposure can help open doors in business. It was a great experience to run projects in so many different environments – every task requires candidates to work in a different field and use new skills. Getting to know all the people on The Apprentice was also a great experience.” Ruth: “The Apprentice taught me so much, it pushed me right out of my comfort zone and made me realise what I enjoyed. I think that when you have worked since the age of 16 and climb the ladder you forget the basics and how much fun you have doing sales and

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Moving on: After her time on TV Joy Stefanicki grew her own marketing and comms business

I’m not afraid of taking risks and this was one of those opportunities I thought was worth a shot marketing, as you are caught up with management and finance. The whole experience was fantastic and very memorable. One of the biggest lessons was to deliver what you promise, as most of the other candidates didn’t!” Joy: “Being on the show did wonders for my confidence. It reminded me that I was very capable at a time when I needed that boost. I also learnt a lot about TV and all that goes with it. It was a great adventure.” Q. If another budding entrepreneur was

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considering The Apprentice, what would be your advice? Nick: “I’d say be yourself. Let common sense guide you. Stop yourself regularly and question whether you’re being sensible. It’s far too tempting to over-analyse and over-engineer solutions to simple tasks. When leading a task go with your gut instinct and be firm when setting the project strategy. Don’t let the loud opinions of others set you off track. And try to get on with everyone and you’ll do well.” Ruth: “Do it for the right reasons. I had no desire to be famous or to be on TV. The show really does show the good and bad about you so, if you think you are good in business, make sure you are before you appear otherwise you will look like a prize tit!” Joy: “Go for it! As long as your eyes are open and you weigh up the risks properly. Give it your best shot and make sure you’re as prepared as you can be before you enter so you are ready to capitalise should you come out earlier than you anticipate.” Q. On balance, has The Apprentice helped or hindered your career? Nick: “Before going on the show I asked the advice of my mentors and friends, and overwhelmingly the advice was to not go on the show. I had built a business reputation in Birmingham and had won a few awards for setting up my businesses – so people said it was too big a risk. I did it because I thought it would be fun and I had always shouted at the characters on the TV that I could do better – so I wanted to prove that. In hindsight, it was a great decision. They presented me well on the show and the exposure has had a significant positive impact on my businesses and career as an entrepreneur. I think I was incredibly lucky though.” Ruth: “Helped 100%.” Joy: “It’s impossible to tell as I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t enter. One thing is for sure though, I am Googlefu**ed. Probably forever!” Q. What have you been doing since your appearance on TV? Nick: “The business that I pitched to Lord Sugar on the show was called Whisk, an online tool that allows anyone to create ingredient shopping lists for online recipes in


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the click of a button. Once ingredient lists are created – users can purchase all the ingredients from online grocery shops (Tesco and Waitrose currently, with others coming online soon) by entering their supermarket credentials and the items are automatically purchased. “On the show, Lord Sugar didn’t invest but since coming off the show we’ve raised over £0.5m in funding and have a team of 15 software engineers and business people working on Whisk full time. Our apps are also available on iPhone and Android smart phone platforms. We’ll soon be releasing features like individual wine recommendations for all recipes you find online, and tools which will work out what ingredients you’ll have left over after cooking, and suggesting recipes for you to cook with them. We’ve had great coverage in newspapers and magazines after coming off the show and so far we’re building a strong base of users.” Ruth: “When I left the employment of the lovely Lord Sugar I decided to do two things: my own TV show that then linked into the business I opened called the Ruth Badger Consultancy Limited. The show was called ‘Badger or Bust’ and it was based on me helping failing businesses. “The Ruth Badger Consultancy Limited has been trading for seven years and provides the following services for SMEs: small business mentoring, sales consultancy, start-up mentoring, sales training and business turnaround. We are not normal consultants as we do more than we talk and always deliver. Since 2006 we have helped over 300 businesses successfully start up and in the last two years helped over 30 businesses who were failing increase sales and profitability.” Joy: “Joyous Communications, my own full-service marketing and communications offer, has kept me busy for most of that time. It was born at the same time as auditions started in 2008. As Joyous Comms, I ran the West Midlands Graduate Internship scheme

businessteam@bham.ac.uk www.birmingham.ac.uk/partners

ENTREPRENEUR

with Aston University, Graduate Advantage and what was then Advantage West Midlands. I also worked with Birmingham Professional DiverCity and Clarke Willmott solicitors. “One of the most exciting things I got involved with was CCHQ, a technology start up in the Jewellery Quarter where I specialised in social media. The sector is one of personal interest and it was brilliant to immerse myself in something that was then so new. About six months ago, my personal circumstances changed so I decided to move to London where I joined Tag Worldwide, a global media production and creative agency based in Farringdon, where I manage the DHL account.”

Personally, as one of the lead ‘sales’ people of the company, I spend two to three days a week in London. As it’s only just over an hour and a half from Birmingham it’s about the same commute as living on the edge of London. I am super-productive on trains so appreciate the commute. “Basing our team in Birmingham was definitely the right decision and I recommend any other start-ups to do the same.” Ruth: “I think the Government has an impact on how an area helps its entrepreneurs and as the current Government is shocking, no area is doing all it can. I think the West Midlands has been hardest hit by the recession in relation to retail and opportunities but I do feel

Fact file Nick Holzherr starred in the eighth series of The Apprentice in 2012, when he was runner-up. He can be contacted via www.whisk.com Ruth Badger starred in the second series of The Apprentice in 2006, when she was runner-up. She can be contacted via www.ruthbadger.com Joy Stefanicki starred in the sixth series of The Apprentice in 2010, when she was fired in week two. She can be contacted via www.joyouscomms.com The ninth series of The Apprentice will be screened later this year.

Q. TV aside, how well do you think the West Midlands helps entrepreneurs, and what could it improve? Nick: “When leaving The Apprentice, I had a choice of where to set up Whisk. My previous two businesses had been in Birmingham and I’d had a great experience. When evaluating other cities I made the decision to stick to Birmingham as I genuinely think it’s a great place to start a company. There is a superb talent pool available to hire, it’s cheaper than lots of other cities and the local business community is really supportive. I sometimes get asked why we didn’t choose London and the answer is simple: talent and price.

entrepreneurs can grow and with the right mental attitude and passion can build a successful business within the West Midlands – even in this climate.” Joy: “When I was setting up on my own, I found I had a lot of support from encouraging individuals and my network – especially in terms of practical advice. This was invaluable to me because personally I got nowhere with organisations like Business Link or even Birmingham Forward who I knew well. I struggled a little in the early days with knowing how to go about some of the detail. I had money coming in but needed practical advice with my business plan and contract >>

Putting world-class expertise to work in your business

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ENTREPRENEUR terms. You don’t always want to admit what you don’t know when you’re trying to get things off the ground. “Thankfully my network supported me and I figured out how the theory applied practically to what I was trying to achieve. People were more helpful to me than any of the organisations in terms of practical advice. With regard to what the city can do to improve now, I’m not sure I’m around enough at the moment. It seems to me that it must be doing something right because there are so many great, independent businesses thriving. Glide is an obvious success story, not to mention Big Cat, Urban Coffee Company, FleetMilne Residential, Roar and Orb creative. I love to see West Midlands businesses do well, but I do still wonder if we shout loudly enough outside of the city about those successes.” Q. Which local business support organisations do you value? Nick: “Most of all I value the business sector in Birmingham – the law firms like Shakespeares, IP specialists like Forresters, PR companies like Clive Reeves PR, accountancy firms like Chantrey Vellacott. They all support us through great service and prices which aren’t stupid like you’d expect from London firms. I’ve also received a lot of support from Birmingham Science Park through their various programmes for entrepreneurs. I also need to thank the various people who’ve invested in our company – MidVen, Finance Birmingham and individuals like Doug Scott and Peter Dines.” Ruth: “I’m not familiar with many in the West Midlands that I would support.” Joy: “Birmingham Future is an exceptional organisation for young professionals, and I am a particular fan of Birmingham Young Professional of the Year. I think on top of the opportunity to build real and lasting relationships, the organisation enables young professionals to enhance their skill set in ways they might not otherwise get the chance. “Without Birmingham Future and the

businessteam@bham.ac.uk www.birmingham.ac.uk/partners

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13

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Chamber of Commerce, even the Institute of Directors, I wouldn’t have the network I do. That in turn means I wouldn’t have had the support I did. I think they are invaluable for networking. I also think Graduate Advantage offers an excellent low cost recruitment service. It supports businesses looking to take on graduates for the first time or can provide valuable internships. The upshot here is that we keep graduates in the region, which can only be a good thing.” Q. Who is your local mentor? Nick: “Simon Jenner was my original mentor and still someone I call upon, although we’re also great friends. I now have a lot of more

others too.” Q. Where do you plan to be career-wise in five years time? Nick: “Whisk is my focus until we make it a big success. I don’t have a ‘five year plan’ as such – but at some point my goal is to sell the business and be able to act independently as an investor in other people’s companies. I’d love to be able to share my experience with people starting their companies and add value there. Maybe that will happen within five years – maybe sooner, maybe longer! “It’s very hard to plan a career roadmap when running your own company. I really enjoy running Whisk. It’s a huge challenge and

I intend to continue to enjoy my career, earn some money and keep my integrity. As long as I’m ticking those boxes you won’t hear me complaining formal support through the company. Peter Dines, our non-exec chairman and founder and ex-CEO of Surgi C Group, has almost weekly sessions with me to help me be a better leader. “It’s been great to have a board of investors for our company because everyone has input on how I can improve and they all bring a wealth of experience from various sectors.” Ruth: “That’s an easy question - my Mom! She’s independent, ambitious and the best negotiator I’ve met.” Joy: “They know who they are. I am incredibly lucky that there are a few impressive people I am able to call on in that capacity if I need to. One of the things that makes Birmingham so special is the willingness of successful individuals to share their experience. I have tried to learn from these people and to give my time to mentor and support

amazing fun. We’re building a business that combines two of my biggest interests – technology and food. We have the opportunity to revolutionise how people cook, help people eat healthier and reduce food waste. It’s really, really exciting!” Ruth: “Richer, happier and wiser! I have no set plan as, to be fair, the things I enjoy most are the opportunities I pluck when presented. Entrepreneurs don’t plan, they do.” Joy: “Ultimately I’ve learnt that as long as I enjoy the people, the work and have good earning potential, I’m as happy working for someone else as I am working for myself. I’ve learnt never to second-guess the future. “I am an opportunist, and so I suppose anything could happen. “I intend to continue to enjoy my career, earn some money and keep my integrity. As long as I’m ticking those boxes you won’t hear me complaining.” n

Putting world-class expertise to work in your business

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In 1994, Hanna Sebright’s two-year old son, Rory, was hit by a car driven by a speeding teenager. He survived, but the accident seemed to trigger serious health problems. “Rory became extremely ill a year later,” recalls Hanna, “having seizures and all sorts of things, eventually losing a kidney. Doctors never confirmed the cause of his illness, but the car hit him on the same side of his body as the kidney, and mother’s instinct told me that was the start of his episodes.” At one stage during his illness, Rory was transferred to a hospital by air ambulance and, although it was more than 15 years ago, that traumatic experience was one which Hanna admits could well have fixed itself in her mind, eventually playing a part in her becoming chief executive of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. “Life’s experiences have a funny way of coming together,” she agrees, “and it’s certainly true to say that I’ve had my fair share of ill-health experiences, and links to aviation. Who knows the way these things mix and influence your life.” Rory, by the way, is now aged 20, has grown to six foot six, and “is doing really well”, as is Hanna’s second son Angus, aged 17. They both still live with her at home near Bath, but the ordeal of almost losing Rory still plays on Hanna’s mind. “It was such an awful situation for a young mum to find herself in. There’s guilt, things are said, and it had a

disastrous effect on my first marriage. I regret that. It’s challenging for a single parent mum to develop a successful career, support a family and keep an eye on the kids. But they’ve turned out great lads.” Hanna fell seriously ill herself last year, and was eventually diagnosed with acute infective discitis – a spine infection that can result in mobility or speech problems if not treated quickly and correctly. She spent ten days in hospital, and had daily intravenous drips direct to her heart for seven weeks after returning to work. “When you’re younger, you think you are invincible,” says Hanna. “Now, I’m just happy to be here and lucky to have a job where I wake up in the morning and look forward to work. I’m glad to be alive, and it all makes me love my boys more than ever.” Hanna was born at RAF barracks in Ely, Cambridgshire, her dad being a Squadron Leader navigator on the Hercules and other aircraft. It meant the first 14 years of Hanna’s life were on RAF bases all over Europe. Now aged 49, Hanna has been twice divorced, and her current partner is a former RAF pilot. “It was his RAF medical training that probably saved my life,” says Hanna, “as he spotted my symptoms and knew the treatment I needed. It was meant to be.” Other coincidences of life include seven years with British Airways and then a 12-year career in health – starting in marketing, then

becoming an entrepreneur and ending with a fall-out, legal battle and eventual out-of-court settlement with business guru Alan Sugar. Hanna became chief executive at the Midlands Air Ambulance in the summer of 2009 – just as the recession started to threaten the performance of most charities. Previously called the County Air Ambulance Trust, there was also a real confusion of brands when Hanna arrived. “When I joined it was still an NHS charity,” says Hanna. “It was affiliated to West Midlands Ambulance Service, and had grown organically. But it needed specialist skilled staff to take it forward in the new restricted economy – staff with commercial acumen, strategic players with financial backgrounds, able to set budgets, income and expenditure. “And it needed fund-raising staff who understood sales and commerce. It needed huge restructuring and I had to move like the wind as it became clear it would become a big financial problem if not addressed quickly.” By November 2009, Hanna had brought in new people to help restructure the charity’s lottery. This transformed an “archaic, non-workable” system with just 400 members into a popular scheme with 30,000 members, bringing in £1m a year. She also reinstated the charity’s traditional tin collections, making sure shops like Tesco and big service stations were manned by >>

Medical emergencies and aviation have both played a large part in the life of Hanna Sebright – and that was before she became chief executive of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. Steve Dyson reports

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INSIGHT

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badged, uniformed collectors. Tins now contribute between £30,000 and £40,000 a month. Another important area was the charity’s legacy portfolio, historically providing 40% of income. “This badly needed a proper, qualified legacy office working on the administration,” says Hanna. “And with the name change, we needed to re-promote the new name and brand to solicitors in the area.” Hanna’s action worked. In 2009, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity had revenues of £5.6 million; by 2012, this increased by 25% to £7m. “And that’s during the worst economic recession,” she points out. “We worked assiduously on finance, diversifying so we weren’t over reliant on any one area.” Midlands Air Ambulance now operates more than 3,000 missions a year, serving communities in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands. But one of the biggest jobs Hanna faced was taking the charity out of the NHS and restructuring it as an independent charity limited by guarantee, with a new board of trustees. “This was crucial from a business point of view to allow the charity to grow,” says Hanna. “When a charity is part of a public sector organisation, it’s very difficult for people to treat it as an independent entity and to attract

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staff with the right skills. “The charity’s first 18 years were OK, but with no independent budget it was impossible to plan and it would have struggled to remain sustainable. I needed to understand exactly

I’m just happy to be here and lucky to have a job where I wake up in the morning and look forward to work what income was coming from where, and what costs were going where. There were aircrew, aircraft and all that involves without a clear handle of what was paying for what. Midlands Air Ambulance absolutely needed to

become its own living, breathing entity so it could best use public donations to save lives.” This all meant a difficult couple of years of full-on change, with all the problems that creates for an organisation set in its ways. But Hanna is delighted with the results. “It’s been a wonderful outcome,” she says. “We have fantastic partnerships with the NHS, and great collaboration and relationships with the ambulance service so we can work together and deliver the very best trauma care.” We’re chatting in the Midlands Air Ambulance headquarters, in an incongruous industrial unit squeezed between a bed showroom and a car parts firm on a factory centre in Brierley Hill, in the Black Country. The charity’s three helicopters fly from bases at RAF Cosford, Strensham Services on the M5 and Tatenhill airfield, near Burton on Trent, each carrying a pilot, paramedic and doctor, with all the latest life-support equipment. Their maximum flying time to a hospital from anywhere in the region is less than 15 minutes. “All my crew are NHS employees,” says Hanna, “with all the training and protocols that the NHS provides. What they need from me is the

ONLINE: Read more insights and views from the West Midlands business community every day by visiting our website: www.bq-magazine.co.uk

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funding to support increased specialist training to improve their skills at mobile trauma care. “For example, we now have 100% doctor cover on all missions – that’s doctors on board every flight, a significant improvement. By carefully planning our bases, the aircraft get to patients within ten minutes, and we can demonstrate through data that the extra investment in training makes a difference to saving lives and in lengths of patient-stay in hospitals. All this has happened because being independent means we can choose where to put our investment.” A crucial recent investment decision was a £37m procurement plan for a new fleet of helicopters. “Now we’re independent, we’ve made our own financial decision to buy one aircraft and lease two. By year seven of this plan, when the aircraft is bought, overheads significantly reduce, and yet the helicopter will still have another ten years of life. This sort of

strategic decision-making will help to secure long-term financial stability. “That was a commercial buying decision we just weren’t able to make in the past. Most charities these days say they need strong business acumen without losing their original charitable objectives. That’s what I meant by the need to bring in commercial skill-sets, people able to manage money, with confidence to know where to cut and where to draw income. “Basically, I’m talking about control. I came in with a fresh pair of eyes from the independent sector, with experience of having run my own business, meeting challenges and making decisions you have to make every day, and all the stresses that come with that. I want value for money, I want to drive growth and I’m a strategic planner – looking forward to sustain the charity in three, five, seven years and beyond.”Although displaying hard-nosed

INSIGHT

commercial skills, Hanna also admits to learning an enormous amount: “It’s been fantastic in terms of teaching me about the increasing demand for air ambulance services across the UK, and the great government interest there is in emergency services collaborating. We are now well-placed to support the police, the ambulance service and hospitals in the work that we do.” As well as her main job, Hanna now sits on the board of the national Air Ambulance Association, helping to raise the national profile of the whole UK network. But what drives her to continue with such hard work, especially after being so ill herself last year? “Delivery,” she declares. “Doing a good job, making a difference and then evidencing it. I’ve learned how well loved this charity is, and how generous-hearted people are towards it. I love my job with a passion and, importantly, I’m happy here.” n

How Hanna Sebright’s career took flight After an early childhood living in RAF barracks, at 14 Hanna joined Monmouth Comprehensive in South Wales. She then studied for a degree in Social Policy and Administration at Kent University. In 1984, she joined British Airways as a member of long-haul, 747 cabin crews based at Heathrow. “I joined to travel, and was desperate to explore the world,” she says. “It was a fantastic finishing school and education.” By 1991, Hanna “had an urge to share life with somebody” and got married, having two children by the mid-1990s. Her second career began part-time at the Salisbury Playhouse, working front of house, and she was then recruited to the nearby private New Hall Hospital, where she led the marketing of a multi-million pound redevelopment. This went well and led to a new role as business development director of The Berkshire Independent Hospital. Here Hanna worked on the hospital’s referral problems, helping to improve GPs’ knowledge of specialist services, and introducing patients’ information forums. She also helped launch the Reading Shoulder Unit, now an internationally renowned orthopaedic centre. In March 2000, Hanna took on a senior health consultant role with the Atomic Energy Authority in Harwell. But she felt the pull of business and quickly moved to the Real Creative Group as business development director. This start-up company specialised in marketing, communications and digital media, and thanks to Hanna’s background picked up NHS contracts to provide real-time information for patients on screens in the waiting rooms of GPs’ surgeries. In 2003, Real Creative was sold to ScreenFX, becoming its HealthFX subsidiary, and Hanna expanded health communications networks nationally. The only problem was that the software and screens were “phenomenally expensive”, and she found herself constantly seeking more investment. “Lots of opportunities,” recalls Hanna, “but not enough cash.” The result was a management buy-out of HealthFX, Hanna securing investment to create Electronic Health Media Ltd. This company had a major breakthrough with a Department of Health campaign called ‘Choices for health’, a series of disease awareness and health education messages, backed by major pharmaceutical companies. One success was flu vaccines for the over 65s. Additional investment was needed and at this stage Hanna was approached by Alan Sugar’s Amscreen to buy the business, and by 2008 became the managing director of Amscreen Healthcare. But things quickly went wrong. “My focus was health education communications,” says Hanna. “I was working with the Department of Health, PCTs, GPs and so on, driving really important health messages. But for Amscreen, it was a communications network – their own software and their own screens, which made things cheaper. After the company handover, I just wanted to get back into health.” There was a big fall-out and a controversial legal battle with Alan Sugar and his directors. Hanna won’t discuss this, other than to say it was “a professional fall-out, settled out of court”.

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Tea party in full swing, a sight to bee-hold, running on empty, Anglo expands empire, giant strides onto the market, motoring back to health, and performance plot mapped out >> Tea party in full swing A former landmark bar near Queen Elizabeth Law Courts in Birmingham has been let to a coffee shop chain. The building at 190 Corporation Street and the corner of Newton Street was a Yates’s Wine Lodge until 2008. It will become the first Birmingham branch of the Boston Tea Party Group, which has taken on a ten year lease on a commencing rental of £37,500 per annum, in a deal arranged by Cushman & Wakefield. Boston Tea Party Group is a family-owned business founded in Bristol in the 1990s. Cushman & Wakefield acted for the landlord, London-based LaSalle Investment Management. Ed Purcell, retail surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield in Birmingham, said: “Boston Tea Party has spent a lot of money fitting out 190 Corporation Street and we are pleased to have finally secured the future of this famous old building.”

>> Real rise in rents West Midlands property group Real Estate Investors recorded an 11.6% increase in contracted rental income in 2012. Chief executive Paul Bassi said the increase was just one of the highlights of an outstanding year of progress which saw the Birmingham company pay its inaugural dividend. He said: “There has been a significant improvement in bank lending and the appetite for regional property assets from institutions, new funds and the corporate and private sector. The directors believe that statistics will show a substantial increase in the aggregate value and number of investment property transactions having taken place for the West Midlands region.” Occupancy rose to 86.75% and Mr Bassi said the company anticipated further success during 2013. He added that letting inquiries and viewing across REI’s portfolio had risen

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significantly, driven by lease events and businesses growing and expanding. He said: “Real Estate Investors plc remains well positioned with cash and excellent banking support to capitalise on opportunities that meet its criteria.”

>> Kelly moves in Employment agency Kelly Services has opened offices in the heart of Birmingham’s business district. Working closely with commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), Kelly has chosen Highcross’s recently refurbished Livery Place in Livery Street for its new location. Toner Graham, Kelly’s accountancy and finance brand, will share the same offices as part of a strategy to service client and candidate needs from the same place. Gary Jones, Kelly’s UK managing director said: “We are moving above the high street away from the shop-front businesses that we typically used to operate from. “This will enable us to grow our specialisms, ensuring we have the resources available to meet growing demand from our clients.” LSH senior surveyor Jon Hinton said: “Livery Place has been transformed with significant investment by Highcross and provides an excellent base for companies that want to be in the heart of the city’s business district.”

>> A sight to bee-hold Businesses in Birmingham are buzzing with a new nature initiative from real estate specialist Cushman & Wakefield. The property firm is installing beehives to properties they manage in the city, eventually hoping to produce genuine Brummie honey. The plan is to help the country’s bee population, which has recently been in serious decline, partly due to chemicals used in

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intensive agriculture. Cushman & Wakefield has already kept hives at its buildings in Regent Street, London, for several years, and has now decided to extend the project to the rest of the country, including Birmingham and the Midlands. Last year the company installed hives at a building in Temple Street, Bristol, and has harvested its first honey from them. The first Birmingham hives will be installed at the Colmore Gate office building in the city centre. Phillip Taylor, who heads Cushman & Wakefield’s asset management team in Birmingham, said: “The honeybee population has been suffering. Despite the urban environment, bees can thrive in these locations and we can provide valuable support to our environment and natural species. “Our tenants will be playing a valuable part in helping look after the bees, and we will be offering bee keeping training and equipment – many of our tenants in Bristol and London have taken up the opportunity.”

>> Campus conversion A GRADE II-listed building near Coventry Cathedral could be turned into student flats. Bayley House, in Bayley Lane is currently a business centre but its owner has submitted plans to the city council to create student accommodation instead.

>> Running on empty A leading Birmingham chartered surveyor has said that new Government policy allowing empty offices to be converted for residential use without planning permission could kick-start hundreds of developments. Andrew Rowson, partner at Birminghambased chartered surveyors Johnson Fellows, believes the new development rights could be the green light many developers have been waiting for. Mr Rowson, who leads the building


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consultancy division at Johnson Fellows, said: “Developers and investors will see this as a way of cutting bureaucracy and red tape and, hopefully, will help to get a lot of schemes off the ground. Forward-thinking investors and landlords eager to maximise income generated by properties have always been attracted to the option of converting empty space, such as offices, above retail units into homes. Now, the easing of planning regulations has made this option even more appealing for many who are exploring ways of turning offices and storage into apartments, bringing life back to unloved and under-utilised properties. “The majority of retail premises only utilise the ground floor for trade and the floors above are often only used for staff facilities and storage. This means that there are often a number of extra floors that are vacant and can often be left to fall into disrepair. By converting those unused spaces into residential dwellings, building owners or landlords with long term leases can expect a great return on investment.”

>> Anglo expands empire West Midlands construction company Anglo Holt has started work on a retail unit in Essex for retail giants Argos, which will create 40 local jobs. The £1.1m development will see the West-Bromwich based company make significant modifications to Unit 8, Tollgate Retail Park in Colchester, ready for its new tenants to occupy in May. Anglo Holt was awarded the 23-week design and build contract by London-based clients British Land. The project is a part of British Land’s proposals to upgrade Colchester’s Tollgate Retail Park to attract a wider range of retailers. Tony Wehby, director at Anglo Holt, said: “With the current high unemployment rates, we’re pleased that this project will help to create 40 jobs for the local community. “This is our first project with British Land, so we’re eager to demonstrate our expertise in retail construction.”

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

>> Giant strides on to the market A vast warehouse and distribution unit has become available to let at Hams Hall, near Coleshill, Warwickshire. Colliers International has been appointed to market the 128,000 sq ft distribution facility, the only fully-fitted distribution warehouse in the 100,000 to 150,000 sq ft bracket currently available across the whole of the West Midlands. Avnet Technology Solutions, a US-based Fortune 500 company, has instructed the firm to dispose of Hams Hall 128, a 127,944 sq ft / 11,885.98 sq m warehouse. The current occupier has three years remaining on its lease, although the landlord will consider extending the term. The passing rent is £5.52 per sq ft. James Darby, associate director in Colliers International’s industrial and logistics team, said: “Given the scarcity of this size of product across the region, the pent up demand for this type of space and the possibility of a short-term let, we expect interest to be keen.” The modern double storey unit is on the 430-acre Hams Hall National Distribution Park, close to Junction 9 of the M42 and T1 of the M6 Toll. The Park also boasts an on-site rail freight terminal, which provides direct access to the Channel Tunnel.

>> Motoring back to health New deals at the major business property sites near the M42 motorway in the West Midlands have returned to pre-recession levels, according to a new report. Between January and December 2012, deals totalling more than 420,000 sq ft were completed at sites including Birmingham Business Park and Blythe Valley Business Park, according to national commercial property consultants GVA. The total for the year represents an increase of 40% over the pre-recession high of 2008, when activity along the M42 corridor reached more than 300,000 sq ft. Just under 50% of 2012 activity was secured by GVA, with more than 68% of activity in quarter four coming through the agency’s Midlands office. Adrian Griffith, associate at GVA, said: “It is

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too early to say for certain that this will be a strong year, however there are currently a number of transactions and enquiries in solicitors’ hands that are leaning towards a strong first quarter. While we’ve seen some peaks and troughs over the last few years, enquiries have generally remained consistent and the M42 corridor has remained popular with a range of occupiers representing diverse sectors including biomedical, engineering services, technology and automotive. With available stock diminishing and existing supplies expected to run dry in the next couple of years, there will be an increased emphasis on owner occupations particularly where landlords retain a gloomy outlook, this is where occupiers will look to take advantage of freehold purchases whilst the values remain low.”

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>> Double winner Midland construction trainer Kim Bendzak began 2013 with two new awards on her shelf – the Most Inspirational Women Business Owner and the Most Established Business. Ms Bendzak, the boss of Apple Construction Training based in Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, scooped the awards at the Banbury Women in Business Awards, in recognition for how she has grown the construction training company despite the recession. She said: “Maintaining the skills of your workforce has never been more important, especially during tough economic times.”

>> Park plan up and running Tenders have been invited for the construction of a business park that will create almost 2,000 jobs in the Midlands. The huge 19-acre site in Mill Green, Cannock, Staffordshire, will become a business centre and include a hotel, restaurant and nursery. The project is expected to support 650 jobs during construction and 1,200 full-time jobs from firms at the site once fully open. The Mill Green scheme has been made possible by a £3.5m loan from the Local Enterprise Partnerships. Half has come from the Stoke and Staffordshire LEP and the rest from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. The work had been delayed by dual ownership of the land, just off the A5 at Churchbridge, with Cannock Chase District Council having two-thirds of the site and the rest belonging to regeneration firm Morston Assets. The partnership had problems, and the council has now bought Morston’s land after months of negotiation. Local authority leader George Adamson said: “We can, hopefully, now forge ahead with this scheme that will bring so many high quality jobs to the area.” The money will be used to pay for new road links and site works that will create construction jobs, before a developer is appointed to complete the project. The business park is expected to generate £34m of private investment.

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Jason Jasper

>> Property man on the rise Coleshill-based IM Properties has promoted Jason Jasper to project delivery director after his success delivering £70m-plus worth of projects since joining the firm three years ago as project manager. Mr Jasper’s projects in the UK have included the £15m infrastructure works on IM Properties’ Birch Coppice Business Park near Tamworth. Most recently, he delivered a 28 million flagship logistics hub for BMW in Munich, Germany. His achievements also helped IM Properties scoop two awards last November: the ‘Property/Regeneration Company of the Year’ and ‘Company of the Year’ titles. Mr Jasper said: “I am delighted to be promoted. IM Properties is a really dynamic company that has given me the unique opportunity to work on a wide range of complex and exciting projects for major occupiers in the UK and Europe.” Kevin Ashfield, development director at IM Properties, said: “Jason has played a big part in the success of IM Properties’ development department since joining three years ago. “His promotion is well deserved.”

>> Wates goes back to school Wates Construction has been chosen to rebuild or extend 11 schools in Coventry. The £36m rebuilding contract is part of the Government’s national £2.4bn Priority School Building programme. Wates, which worked on the high-profile restoration of Birmingham Town Hall in 2006, will rebuild six crumbling schools and extend five more to create extra

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pupil places. Wates will now work with the Education Funding Agency and the schools to develop detailed designs and submit planning proposals for each scheme before building work begins in the spring. The schools to be rebuilt are: Whitmore Park Primary; St Thomas More Primary; Wyken Croft Primary; Richard Lee Primary; Ernesford Grange Secondary; and Alice Stevens Special School. The schools to be extended are part of Coventry City Council’s £13m Increasing Pupil Places programme. They are Broad Heath Primary; Clifford Bridge Primary; Aldermoor Farm Primary; Coundon Primary; and Frederick Bird Primary. Steve Beechey, group investment director and head of education at Warrington-based Wates, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise in the construction of next-generation schools.”

>> Sirens and showrooms Midland building contractor MCS Group has started a new £3m contract to deliver projects for the West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Paul Rigby Volvo dealership. The work is underway at the Opus Aspect site in Erdington, Birmingham, a 10-acre site that benefits from outline planning consent for a range of employment uses, including trade counters and car showrooms. A new Selco Trade Centre unit of 37,700 sq ft is already open on the site, and this will soon be followed by Volvo’s new 13,240 sq ft car showroom and a new 17,700 sq ft hub for West Midlands Ambulance Service. Both projects are due for completion by mid 2013. Opus Land construction director Melanie Booth said: “We are delighted to be on site with two more build projects. MCS offer a commercial approach to delivery which is essential in the current climate.” MCS Group, based at Claverdon in Warwickshire, has completed more than 175 projects across the UK in the commercial, industrial, retail and social care sectors and last year had a turnover of just under £20m.


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>> Performance plot A new creative hub for aspiring young artists, dancers and musicians could soon be launched in Coventry. The temporary creative, cultural and community centre concept is planned by Coventry-based entrepreneurs Robert Bowell and John Dawkins, of Flat Cap Godiva Productions. They say the centre, earmarked for a currently disused building at 50 Bishop Street, would create jobs, attract investment and bring vitality and vibrancy to a rundown area of the city centre. They have been given a short-term lease on the disused building. If the concept is successful they will look for a permanent base elsewhere in the city. Barberry Developments, which owns the building, is working alongside Coventry City Council and Flat Cap Godiva Productions to ensure the new centre offers young people employment opportunities and an outlet for their creative talents. Robert Bowell said: “We are very excited about the project. We want to help create movement in the city and spark youth development and creativity. John is an ambassador for the city of Coventry and we are determined to create an amazing venue which will not only create jobs but bring a new lease of life, vibrancy and vitality to the area.” During the day the centre would provide space for rehearsals, art, performance groups, martial arts, an independent vintage market and free internet access for students. At night it will become a music venue. Barberry Developments director Henry Bellfield said: “We support the initiative because it will bring new life to the area and will offer young people fantastic opportunities to showcase their work. “A key part of the project from our point of view is that it offers Coventry University fine art students a venue to stage exhibitions and a fundraising auction.” Mr Bellfield added that he is continuing to work alongside supermarket operators and Coventry City Council to turn the long-term Bishop Gate plans into reality. He said the creation of the cultural centre would have no negative impact on the scheme’s progress. Barberry’s ambitious Bishop Gate proposals could create hundreds of jobs for the city.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

Barberry purchased the 200,000 sq ft former Royal Mail Sorting Centre and adjoining properties, including 50 Bishop Street, in 2011 and the council has granted outline planning consent for a large, retail-led scheme.

>> Hotel up for grabs A former hostel for Irish navvies in Birmingham that became a modern hotel in the 1990s is up for sale for £6m. The Paragon Hotel in Digbeth went on the market after its owner, Dhillon Hotels, went into administration at the end of 2012. The Grade II-listed building has already attracted interest, according to sale agent Christie and company. Gavin Wright, Christie director, said: “We have had an awful lot of interest – the majority of which is for existing use – from hotel operators and wealthy individuals. It is an iconic building. It has got a lot of function rooms – 13 in total – with the largest having a capacity of 600.“ There are also 250 bedrooms, of which 207 are in use, so there is the potential to bring more back on line. There is also potential to increase the conference function.”He added: “It was originally built in the early 20th century for Irish migrants. It was a hostel for many years and in the 1990s it got converted into a hotel. The guide price is £6m.”

>> Barques bags new deal A Birmingham PR agency has been appointed to support commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) in its activities across the Midlands. Barques PR will generate news releases, industry comment and features, based on in-depth market analysis, for LSH to raise the company’s profile in key areas including Birmingham, Nottingham, Northampton, Leicester, Luton, Cambridge and Milton Keynes. Paul Skipp, director of the Jewellery Quarterbased PR agency, said: “Lambert Smith Hampton is one of the leading commercial property consultancies in the UK. I am very excited to be working alongside the regional

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and national marketing teams to raise awareness of the company’s activities and expertise in its sector. “We are recognised as property specialists and we have a track record of achieving great results for developers, architects, construction companies, interior architects, fit out firms and others in this highly competitive sector. Working with LSH is an opportunity for Barques PR to demonstrate once again that, although we are Birmingham based, we can achieve results in regions right across the UK.” LSH regional marketing manager Helena Randall said: “Since Paul and the team at Barques PR were appointed they have already had a significant impact and we have seen media coverage of our business activities increase substantially. “We hope this is the beginning of a long and successful relationship.”

>> Space aplenty New offices are available to companies seeking plenty of space and good car parking in Worcestershire. Delta House, on the Harris Business Park in Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, is a two-storey building with open plan offices and storage. With 4,812 sq ft of space, the property is available to rent as a whole or floor by floor. Two roller shutter doors provide access to the side and rear of the building. Rob Champion, of agents Halls, said Delta House was in a prime location for businesses. “These commercial premises offer a combination of spacious open plan office space, along with the added benefits of great transport links and lots of car parking. “Delta House offers the best of both worlds. While enjoying an attractive location on this very popular business park, it also benefits from easy access to the M5 and the M42, making UK-wide travel convenient.” The ground floor is available at £17,000 per annum; the first floor is £22,500 per annum. The overall rent, if taken as a whole, is £39,000 per annum.

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HAVING A BLAST IN BUSINESS Inspired by beautiful sounds made by a skilled brass musician blowing through a hosepipe, musical entrepreneur Hugh Rashleigh invented a plastic trombone. He’s now sold more than 75,000. Ros Dodd reports When he was 12, Hugh Rashleigh remembers ‘playing’ his asthma inhaler. He also recalls walking around the house making music on a pair of fire bellows. “You can make noise on any bit of tubing: ever since hosepipes have been around, people have been demonstrating this,” explains Hugh, now aged 26 and the inventor of the world’s first plastic trombone. Called the ‘pBone’, it’s become a runaway success with brass-playing musicians across the globe. Available in a range of groovy colours, the full-size, B-flat tenor trombone is half the weight of its brass equivalent and, at about £116, a fraction of the price. “The vuvuzela, a plastic horn that became famous during the 2010 World Cup, can play a few notes, and plastic saxophones have been around since the 1960s. Fundamentally,

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the trombone is just a pipe with a funnel on the end.” Hugh, from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, started playing brass instruments – the cornet and trumpet to begin with – when he was a boy and has “always had a passion” for them. “There’s a saying that ‘you don’t choose the

trombone; the trombone chooses you’. For brass musicians, there’s a presence these instruments have that others don’t: they have a kind of ‘listen to me’ quality about them.” Hugh is now a brass teacher, gigging musician, musical director of the Royal Spa Brass Band – and fully-fledged entrepreneur. As well as >>

I’d heard a good brass player make a hosepipe sound fantastic. So it wasn’t so much a case of ‘can it be done?’ as ‘why not do it?’

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ENTREPRENEUR an early love of music, Hugh also developed an interest in designing things and went to Loughborough University to study engineering design. By this time, he knew it was theoretically possible to make a plastic instrument – and wrote his degree dissertation to that effect. But it was only when he found himself struggling on his course that he decided to see if he could make his idea a reality. “I wasn’t doing very well on my course, because I was spending too much time playing music. Then this idea came along – and I managed to salvage my degree.” As he delved further into the idea of actually making a plastic trombone, Hugh discovered that people within the music industry had been testing the idea of plastic instruments

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since the 1970s. “But it wasn’t the right time,” he says. “The materials weren’t stable and there wasn’t the modern technology around, namely ‘rapid prototyping’. There was also people’s perception of a musical instrument made out of plastic that had to be overcome.” Hugh candidly admits that when he first decided to make a plastic trombone, in 2006, it was a bit of fun. “I’d heard a good brass player make a hosepipe sound fantastic,” he explains, “so it wasn’t so much a case of ‘can it be done?’ as ‘why not do it?’ But the commercial element was unfocused – I didn’t know if it would turn into something that was sold.” Yet the question he came up against most was ‘why would you want to do it?’ Even a

Why plastic was a sound investment Although no one had ever made a commercial success out of a trombone made of plastic, Steven Greenall spotted pBone’s business potential immediately. He first heard of it when his old music teacher, Simon Hogg, called to tell him. “I thought it was brilliant,” remembers Steven, an accomplished brass player himself and owner of Coventry-based Warwick Music, which specialises in music for brass and wind instruments. However, the commercial aspect wasn’t Steven’s first consideration: the initial aim was to bring to market a funky, relatively inexpensive and lightweight instrument that would encourage children and young people to take up the trombone, which had been slipping out of fashion. Even as he realised the full potential, Steven also understood Hugh’s need for time and space to develop the plastic trombone without commercial pressure. “When a young entrepreneur is going through that process, if you hammer them too much, it can be counter-productive. I knew the design element was good enough for people to want to play it.” Steven, who’s also a funding specialist and a former non-executive director of Advantage Creative Fund (ACF), found the money to allow Hugh to continue to develop and refine pBone. “I was working for ACF at the time and managed to secure seed capital from them to the tune of £15,000, because at that stage Hugh hadn’t actually made a plastic instrument and had no idea if it would be commercially viable. What it did was allow him to go off and make a prototype.” Five years later, in 2012, Steven secured additional funding from HSBC in the form of £350,000 worth of invoice financing. In the initial business plan, Steven and Chris Fower, the directors of Warwick Music, predicted just 6,000 unit sales over three years, but since clinching an exclusive, five-year worldwide distribution deal with Conn-Selmer, part of Steinway, in April 2011, more than 76,000 have been snapped up. “Things are going really well,” says Steven. “We’re focused on creating a sustainable business – we don’t want to be a one-trick pony. We’re going to concentrate on making great, innovative products.”

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musician he particularly admired wondered ‘why bother?’ “But I wanted to prove that it could be done,” says Hugh, “and so I persevered with it. I never doubted that it was possible, although there were lots of frustrations along the way.” Once he’d decided it was worth doing, Hugh set about working out exactly how to do it. The process of turning theory into commercial reality took more than five years. “Even then, I was still crying over this thing that wasn’t quite working,” says Hugh. “Having started out as a bit of a gimmick, it had become the most serious thing in the world. “But the crucial thing was that I was given a lot of time. I got the initial investment in 2007, after I’d been working on it for a year. After that, every day, every week and every month I was working my way around the instrument, solving this problem and solving that one.” The biggest challenge Hugh encountered was what to do about the trombone slide, which was initially made of solid plastic, but was inhibiting the instrument’s acoustics. “The point where it all came together was when I switched from solid plastic to a glass fibre tube, which made all the difference to the sound,” he explains. “The first eight inches of the slide are crucial, because that’s where the sound is created. The rest of it is amplification. Once I switched to fibre glass the sound quality improved dramatically.” It was when he joined forces with Steven Greenall, also a trombonist and the owner of Warwick Music, that the project finally gelled. “Through writing my dissertation, I interviewed a number of people, including my old music teacher Simon Hogg, who also happened to be Steven’s old teacher and a good friend, and both were involved in Warwick Music. “Simon spoke to Steven and Steven phoned me up. As a result, I secured the investment needed to make the prototype. Someone putting their money where my mouth was gave me quite a strange feeling and was a reality check – now I really had to do it.” The making of pBone was “quite a learning experience”, admits Hugh. “What I did was to phone lots of people and ask for help. For instance, I called a company in Leicester that specialised in glues and bonding materials. If


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ENTREPRENEUR Having started out as a bit of a gimmick, it had become the most serious thing in the world, But the crucial thing was that I was given a lot of time

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the people I asked couldn’t help, often they’d know someone who could. Simon Hogg and Chris Fower, a professional trombonist, were also very instrumental in the development – they gave me a lot of time and helped me to understand more about what trombone players wanted. Eventually, I started breaking the back of it and, slowly, things came together.” Ironically, Hugh decided against making the “perfect” trombone and instead opted for a more ergonomic instrument. “For example, trombonists are used to the balance of the instrument being a certain way. I could have designed pBone so that it balanced in a more obvious way, but it made sense to make an instrument that felt like a traditional one. The human element was very important – it had to have soul as well as good design.” Finally, at the beginning of 2011, pBone was ready to go: the parts were manufactured in China, with Hugh assembling them in the Midlands. Because of the time it took to put them together – two weeks of working >>

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flat out to make 200 – the instruments were sold, online at first, in small batches. What no one anticipated was how quickly the business would take off. Thanks in part to a YouTube video of UK jazz trombonist Liam Kirkman playing a pBone, which had 17,000

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hits in a few days, a 200-strong batch of pBones was snapped up in just 17 minutes of going on sale. Hugh believes one of the main reasons it took off so quickly is that trombonists are particularly open-minded. “Trombonists tend

to have a certain type of personality,” he says. “The trombone is an unassuming instrument, but it’s very flexible – you can play it in a jazz band, in an orchestra or as a solo performer. “I think musicians who play brass instruments are the only ones who would accept an instrument made out of plastic when it’s not been done before. Someone told me the trombone was a dying breed because it gets overshadowed by trumpets and saxophones, so trombonists welcome an opportunity to see it shine, and pBone is enabling it to do that. That was definitely my ambition – to bring it back into fashion.” The instruments, available in yellow, green, red, blue, purple, black and white, are now fully assembled in China and then shipped direct to the UK and Europe, Japan and the US, where they sell for $159. The pBone’s soaring popularity has been further enhanced by winning two major awards in America, including Music Inc’s Product Excellence Award. Now he has pBone under his belt and has “learned a lot” about business, what’s next for Hugh? “I really like making things. We’ve already done a baby version of pBone, called pBone Mini, and we’re working towards making plastic versions of the rest of the brass family and other musical instruments. A new world of opportunity opens up when you make something that’s successful.” n

Lighter, stronger and cheaper - music to the ears of trombone players Professional musician Paul Douglas bought one of the first pBones and was “amazed” by it. “I’ve had my brass trombone – current RRP is £2,500 – for 30 years now, but it looks very, very old and I recently accidentally damaged it slightly,” says Paul, a full-time brass teacher with Birmingham Music Service. “The repair bill was more than the cost of a new pBone, which was £75 when I bought it. I would say that to get an equivalent standard of brass trombone, you would have to pay four or five times the price of a pBone.” As well as being considerably cheaper than a brass trombone, Paul enjoys the fact it’s lightweight and looks great, even after protracted use. “The brass version is easily dented, bent and the lacquer coating scratched and worn away. The pBone still looks good as new after lots of gigs – and is very light.” There are some problems with it, though, says Paul, who is also a recording artist with Spirit ‘n’ Jazz and a soloist with West Midlands-based Jazz Church. “The mouthpiece, which is very important, is poor, although it looks cool. I’ve replaced it with a standard one. Also, the slide twists a bit when fully-extended, so it’s a bit tricky playing in the low register. I understand the new version coming out soon will address this a little.” Despite its not-quite-perfect design, the blue plastic trombone has given Paul an enormous amount of pleasure. “I still play my brass trombone, but for solo live jazz, I prefer the pBone most of the time. “For recording, however, I use the brass one: the tone is warmer and I can play a little more expressively. For teaching, I sometimes use the pBone, which causes quite a stir. Audiences find the pBone really funky – it particularly works well with Black Tie parties and weddings. Audiences are either fascinated by the design or amazed that a pBone could sound so good.”

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staying ahead of the curve The issue: How can we all maximise the opportunities created by super-fast broadband and tomorrow’s technology and applications to enhance the performance of West Midlands businesses? A diverse group of 19 business leaders, politicians and broadband experts got together for a wide-ranging debate on the future of super-fast broadband. BQ West Midlands editor Steve Dyson recorded the comments made during dinner, and edited the shapes of the discussions that emerged. What were guests’ opening thoughts on super-fast broadband issues? Simon Jenner, a leading entrepreneur who now guides other start-ups, began by challenging the public sector about what he felt might be unnecessary interference. He said: “I feel strongly about the council’s/ government intervention into 4G and broadband.” His views were immediately noted by James McKay, responsible for Birmingham City Council’s role in assisting internet roll-out. James said: “I’m Simon’s interventionist! My responsibility for the council is all around the digital agenda. What I’d be particularly keen to debate is the capacity of the workforce, and the capacity

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particularly of the youth workforce, as a currently limiting but potentially maximising factor in digital opportunities.” Other public sector guests also seemed ready to defend the need for their intervention. Birmingham Chamber’s Katie Teasdale said: “There’s a really horrible statistic that some 40% of the businesses in this area don’t use a computer regularly. There’s obviously a huge job to be done to stimulate growth, to stimulate businesses to make use of this amazing infrastructure that we’re building. That’s where we’re coming from, how do you help businesses to see the opportunity and potential?” Peter Shearer, of Aston University, seemed to agree: “Many small businesses do not appreciate why they should have super-fast broadband. I don’t believe they know what it can do for them. Even young people can see the advantages of downloading films and music at home, but the link between that and improved business performance is missing. I

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Taking part Ian Binks, regional partnership director, BT West Midlands Richard Butler, regional director, CBI West Midlands Debra Davis, chief executive, City TV Broadcasting Dr Phil Extance, pro vice chancellor, business partnerships and knowledge transfer, Aston University Lucan Gray, managing director, Fazeley Studios David Hardman, MBE, chief executive, Birmingham Science Park, Aston Derek Inman, director, City TV Broadcasting Simon Jenner, chief executive, Oxygen Enterprise Partners Alastair MacColl, chief executive, BE Group Councillor James McKay, Labour cabinet member for a green, safe and smart city, Birmingham City Council Bill Murphy, managing director, BT Next Generation Access John Rider, regional chairman, Institute of Directors, West Midlands Peter Shearer, director of the Business Partnership Unit, Aston University Katie Teasdale, director of policy and strategic relationships, Birmingham Chamber Group Emma Tennant, senior media relations manager, BT Councillor Paul Tilsley MBE, Liberal Democrat leader, Birmingham City Council Stewart Towe CBE, chair, Black Country LEP, and managing director, Hadley Industries Holdings Jonnie Turpie, director, digital media, Maverick TV Pam Waddell, director, Birmingham Science City In the chair: Caroline Theobald, BQ Live Venue: MPW Steakhouse Birmingham BQ is highly regarded as a leading independent commentator on business issues, many of which have a bearing on the current and future success of the region’s business economy. BQ Live is a series of informative debates designed to further contribute to the success and prosperity of our regional economy through the debate, discussion and feedback on a range of key business topics and issues.

think there’s a communications exercise to be carried out here.” His Aston colleague, Phil Extance, added:


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“The interesting challenge of fast broadband connectivity is that sense of place and whether or not we have a conflict about whether place matters anymore, if we’ve got fast connections.” Lucan Gray, of Fazeley Studios, picked up on the ‘place’ theme. He said: “We’ve seen that Birmingham businesses can compete globally when they’re digital. Because location doesn’t matter. Place does. “And it is important that they get access to the latest technology.” Regional business leaders seemed to either want to challenge broadband’s reach or to discuss what action was needed. Black Country LEP chairman and industrialist Stewart Towe said: “The LEP’s just put £500,000 into the provision of super fast broadband in Sandwell because there was a black hole there. Do we have the area mapped? Are we covered? Do we have the knowledge and experience to make the most of it having spent that sort of money? How do we get the most out of it?” Regional CBI boss Richard Butler said: “I have more members of the CBI complaining to me about broadband provision than there are excited about the provision they’ve currently got.” While John Rider of the Institute of Directors, emphatically thumping the table, said: “I’d like us to do something.” Paul Tilsley, who formerly led the city council’s internet agenda before the last local elections, said: “It’s all about the economy, it’s about jobs, it’s about technology, it’s about modernising the whole of what we do in Birmingham and the West Midlands.” This theme was picked up by the three guests from BT. Bill Murphy said: “My job is to get super-fast broadband out as far as we can across the country by working with government, local authorities, and communities – all the way to parish councils. I think there’s great opportunity here. Birmingham has never lacked vision. It’s important to turn that into something that’s exploitable and that people can benefit from. What matters is freeing up the talent that does exist and attracting more. Birmingham is so well positioned because of its universities and vision. Making something of all that is really important to us and we want to play a part.” His colleague Ian Binks said: “I’m really interested in how we turn some of the

corporate recognition that broadband is important for the economy into people actually using it, delivering growth and wealth and jobs across the West Midlands.” And Emma Tennant added: “Our main challenge is to get the technology to the people who passionately want it, and in places where people have got it who aren’t using it, to make them aware of what the benefits are and help them to get on and use it.” Derek Inman, a former regional chief for BT and now a City TV director, said: “We should be looking at the potential benefits of superfast broadband. “Look at a day like today, and look at health and education. My daughter didn’t go to school today because it snowed. She wasn’t able to do any lessons from home. Health – people couldn’t get to hospitals. So it’s really what we use super-fast broadband for.” His colleague Debra Davies opened with some challenges: “Even if you’re talking about business-to-business, we have to think of what the end costs are to the user. What does that really mean in the household? Looking around the table, I would also question the access of broadband to diverse audiences.”

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Other guests underlined why broadband’s roll-out was essential. Digital TV guru Jonnie Turpie said: “The city’s made up of a fantastic young and diverse community... There’s a fantastic talent base out there, they live on Facebook, they live on Twitter, they live online. We’ve seen that’s the place that people want to live. Getting super-fast easier to everybody is absolutely crucial.” David Hardman, of Birmingham Science Park, Aston, added: “Super-fast broadband should be absolutely accepted as the case in a city like Birmingham. The issue is how can we maximise the opportunities created by the talent in Birmingham.” Alastair MacColl, of BE Group, said: “The group I run specialises in supply chain development and business-to-business events and publishing. As a body that generates content and audiences, we’re very keen on things that make reaching those audiences simpler and easier and more cost effective. To make sure that not only do we have the infrastructure but that small and medium sized businesses have the capacity and understanding to use it, it needs a concerted push from business, from higher education >>

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and also from government.” And Pam Waddell, of Birmingham Science City, added: “If we’re really going to make a step-change in the benefit that super-fast broadband can bring, we need to set some grand challenges. Perhaps the public sector has a role to play in this. Inter-operable transport systems – what impact could superfast broadband have in that? Health systems – how could we use super-fast broadband to improve delivery of personalised healthcare?”

sector to deliver.” David Hardman agreed: “I’d add to that by saying it’s creating a canvas on which the private sector can act. You’re running a city of 1.2 million people... There has to be structure in which things are happening... a general direction... and I do not believe that can be driven from the private sector, it has to be driven from the public sector.” James McKay tried to give that intervention a measure: “The state does have a role and

The public sector can raise the agenda, get people’s imagination, and then it’s up to the private sector to deliver

Should the public sector get involved in spreading super-fast broadband? Paul Tilsley was first to answer, sticking up for the public sector. He said: “The public sector has got a unique opportunity in actually raising the agenda and getting people’s attention... If you didn’t have a typewriter in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, you went out of business; if you didn’t have a telephone in the 1950s, 60s and 70s you went out of business; if you didn’t have a fax machine in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, you went out of business. And super-fast broadband today – if you haven’t got that you are going to be out of business... The public sector can raise the agenda, get people’s imagination, and then it’s up to the private

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responsibility to set the framework within which market forces operate and, as a council, we try to ensure that framework is the most positive for economic growth here in Birmingham. The intervention always has to be at the minimum possible level, but always to achieve the maximum possible goals.” And Phil Extance added: “It’s about stimulating demand and getting people to want services... The public sector can’t afford the infrastructure but what it needs to be doing is waking up businesses to want to use it. What’s the first killer application that makes people wake up and want to be a part of it? That’s where young people come in. Is there a public sector intervention around the

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placement of young people who’ve actually got the skills into businesses that don’t have the skills?” But Simon Jenner continued with his strong thoughts on unnecessary public intervention. He said: “I think it should be a public-private led agenda, not just a public-led agenda. Maybe the LEP will provide that. My concern is that where intervention is done, typically it slows down the process. We could have been the first city in the country to have 4G; we are now probably going to be one of the last, because of intervention. And I worry with broadband, potentially with intervention, we’ll do the same to ourselves. “Let’s not get the public sector involved in it because you will kill it, you will absolutely kill any entrepreneurial spirit this city has by getting the public sector involved. You should support it and enable it, not own it.” Alastair MacColl argued that businesses needed stimulation. He said: “If you’re going to maximise the potential of this new technology you can’t have a laissez faire attitude towards it. You have to try to do something to make sure businesses know it’s available, understand it and act on the potential. If we took the same sort of laissez faire approach with something like export, it would be irresponsible. “By encouraging businesses to take advantage of what’s there, it can only result in jobs and prosperity and growth. I think how you do that has to be thought through very carefully so you don’t stifle the private sector and innovation. But I do think there’s a role for government, and for the business community


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and for universities as well, to collaborate.” But Simon Jenner countered this, and said: “What it sounds like we’re saying is that all these businesses that aren’t using ICT/digital, etc, we should beat them around the heads and try to educate them. Or should we just let them go out of business and all those that do know it and do get it, come on and build massive businesses here in Birmingham.” Katie Teasdale politely disagreed: “The challenge, and I think it’s a reasonable one, is that you can’t just let a load of businesses go under just because they’re not engaging in this and don’t understand it in the same way that we do. The public-private response, through the LEP, has to be how do you stimulate that talent, how do you make the third of businesses that Lord Heseltine has identified that can grow, how do you help them understand? “You’ve got to do something that says there’s something in it for them... What will stimulate a business to take this seriously?” What do businesses need to do? Businesses could do more, according to Stuart Towe, who said: “For once in my life I would like to let the public sector off the hook here, and say the best people to mentor and support business are other businesses. We were really surprised to discover in the Black Country that only around 10% of businesses were engaged directly with any of the business support organisations around this table. That’s not a criticism of them, but a criticism of the fact that 90% of businesses are not engaged with anybody at all... “You’ve got to work with that 10% of course,

with partners around the table. But how are you going to get to the 90%? How do we look at the 10% who are engaged to talk about their supply chain, their customer base, their service providers, because if that gives you a multiple of fifty to a hundred, then that’s fifty to a hundred times more businesses you can have an interface with. You can then use those mentors to talk about broadband type activities... If there is a business imperative to do this, business will do it.” Better communication about digital communities is needed, according to Jonnie Turpie: “There’s some good stuff going on in Birmingham, the trouble is not many people know that. We’ve got to create an identity in the city, somewhere...that people in and outside of Birmingham see that it’s a digital city, making visible the talent, expertise and delivery that is happening on the planet – from here. But nobody gathers that critical mass. Superfast being available in a digital district that celebrates the value to businesses, to communities, to engagement, to the future, is something that would help the identity of Birmingham being seen as a place that could make the most of that.” What about involving young people? John Rider said: “Is there a way that we can join young unemployment with a project like this? If we start getting kids off the street into employment, or experience of work – doesn’t necessarily have to be paid employment to start.” The young people are there, suggested Phil Extance, but are not always treated properly. He said: “There are already various mechanisms we could use in

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the city. Apprenticeships, the academies, the graduate placements... all sorts of schemes whereby there are younger people who have got some skills in this area who can be placed and introduced to businesses.... But we have this perceived wisdom that young people don’t have the skills that businesses need and that’s the one that really winds me up. We’re not valuing them for what they do have.” Jonnie Turpie said that young people were used by successful digital businesses: “Around Eastside, there are lots of young, diverse people all working in these businesses. We should corral that, create an identity of those young, diverse, talented, qualified people, and then spread the word beyond the boundaries of a small area.” John Rider liked this idea, but wanted to ensure that there was some level of literacy: “I don’t agree that it’s not necessary for young kids to be able to spell. There’s a marketing agency that took half a dozen graduates on last year and didn’t do any spelling tests. So you’ve got marketing graduates who all came from Birmingham universities, and they couldn’t spell, and some of the written work that went out was embarrassing.” This point exasperated Simon Jenner: “That just encapsulates why we’ve got so much youth unemployment. We want them to sit there 9 to 5.30, we want them to wear a suit, we want them to wear a tie, we want them to be able to spell, we don’t want them to go on Facebook, we don’t want them to go on Twitter, because that’s wasting time. You’re taking creativity and you’re just destroying it.” Paul Tilsley argued that during his time >>

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at the council, they had adopted a modern approach. He said: “It’s recognising what’s out there, not putting constraints on it, and trying to meet the need. And at the same time, push the market.” And Peter Shearer added: “The more we can push this idea, of even if you’re not going to recruit a young person do help this, bring them in for a while, they can really take your business forward.” What action plans are needed? Richard Butler said the action needed to start with education: “There’s a big opportunity for the industry to get involved in schools at an early stage, because kids have got no idea that they can get involved in a job that’s closely related to what they enjoy playing with. Even if it’s only one in a hundred that we help to get a job, that’s worthwhile.” Picking up on this theme, Jonnie Turpie said that various academies needed to share their progress: “This ‘academy’ word has become something that was very different ten years ago. Now they’re very accessible, pretty available, and it’s a different form of education that does have that sort of focused education, rather than a broad education, for a whole range of people... There are many academies... The one thing that digital does is bring all these fragmented activities together: sharing skills, services, or networks creating their own businesses. Maybe an ‘academy of academies’ could pull it all together and start to share it a bit more.” Considering the question of action, James McKay was cautious about being too specific: “It’s not about intervention for intervention’s sake. And it’s not about any specific project, because limited projects will have limited

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effects. It’s about doing as much as you need to do to create a playing field that unleashes that potential... What we can probably all agree on is that the market won’t naturally come up with desirable solutions by itself, and the state can’t possibly do this without the market.” BT then began to respond to the comments. Ian Binks said: “One phrase that has popped out a couple of times tonight is the importance of private and public partnership. To get that balance right can best be sorted out by that partnership working together.” Bill Murphy went into more detail: “Most people who aren’t connected today, especially in city environments, can get connected but choose not to. The reason? They need a reason. And then they need the confidence. Then they need some training. And then they need a package they can afford... And someone has to pay for it... It’s a classic, classic situation for a publicprivate partnership... “I can’t think of one business today that doesn’t need computing skills of some kind... Whether you’re choosing a barber, or whatever, people go online to see who they’re going to learn from or transact with... [but] I could show you two exchanges in Birmingham that could get super-fast broadband today,

with 100,000 premises, and it’s 1.5% takeup – there’s only one other city that’s worse in the country... We do have pretty good take-up of the first generation of broadband, and the pricing of that is very low... [but] if you’re not educated to the advantages of the speed increase, the productivity increase, the benefits it will give you, what services you can get access to or what services you can deliver, then you’re not going to spend the money... I always used to tell my team: ‘Always remember it’s their money, and if you don’t give them a damn good reason to take it that’s your fault, not theirs.’ I think the skills agenda – both the digitally excluded and the business element – has to be a high priority for the city. Because I do think you have the framework; you’ve got lots of heroes, you’ve got some place – Digbeth, the Jewellery Quarter – but you’ve got to do more with the heroes, do more with the business community on skills to inform and educate others, highlight the place – everyone wants to be from some place.... ‘Text City’ [in the USA] is a place, and it does have a lot of support. And it has a joined up industry... That same sort of thing could happen here... The way it’s cracked is through educators, industry and government all working together.” Simon Jenner queried one of Bill’s points: “The vast majority of businesses across Birmingham don’t need high capacity – they need band-width for sure, but they don’t necessarily need high band-width. And that may be why take-up is fairly low, because it’s not required. What we should be persuading is more of the businesses to have broadband generally, not opening the ground and putting their own fibre in because it has to be fast. That will come, but it will come when the market dictates... Medical and certain sectors, absolutely, but the vast majority of business services will not need massive band-width in

Always remember it’s their money, and if you don’t give them a damn good reason to take it that’s your fault

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the next few years. What they need is bandwidth, not high band-width.” Bill Murphy replied: “They have to be educated, informed of the benefits of it, the capabilities of it, and the speed for those who care about those things. The fact is, there’s decent broadband take-up in the city, but people aren’t jumping on super-fast broadband. There’s only one other city with worse numbers... I’ll juxtapose that against somewhere else which has 17% take-up, because they got their shoulder behind it, it’s important, ‘this is who we are, we want to be digital’... This city, anecdotally, is saying it’s helping to keep people they didn’t before. They just felt very strongly they wanted to be a smart city, to attract and keep people, and it was all about digital... “It starts with convincing yourself: this is who we are, and this is what we’re going to exploit, this is how we’re going to exploit it, and this is how we’re going to do it together. Not many places do I get this mix of industry and educators and government around the table.” David Hardman agreed: “We do have across the city, from the Jewellery Quarter to Digbeth, a major activity that is not joined up, that does not interact, that does not create a lighthouse around which we can shout. It’s not competition, it’s just apathy. There’s a lot going on, but what we have to do is to get the group round this table talking to each other and delivering as one.” Stuart Towe reminded the debate that not everything is based in Birmingham: “We’re been very parochial here. We’re not just talking about Birmingham, we’re talking about the West Midlands as a whole. The county – from Coventry to Wolverhampton and everything in between. Birmingham is the hub around which those spokes operate. For something as important as super-fast broadband as a tool for business engagement, for business diversity, we should be looking at the whole of the geography of the urban sprawl... business doesn’t recognise geographic boundaries limited by the things others see. This area hangs together best as a region and needs to operate on that basis...We need to learn cohesively as an area... “Having created the [super-fast broadband] infrastructure, how do we then persuade

businesses to use it to best effect? It’s about business to business working, with the help of the public sector, to create the right environment to persuade people that it is a business tool that is best used to effect the growth of their business, and that without it your business will shrink. But that’s got to be persuaded on a business to business basis.” Towards the end of the evening, Simon Jenner set an interesting challenge: “All businesses live and die by leadership. The problem we’ve got is there’s six LEPs, councils as well and all sort of other pseudo bodies. If we think we want to be digital, let’s create a ‘Czar’ that goes across those six LEPs that is responsible for delivering the agenda of the digital, smart city.” Stuart Towe liked that idea, but felt it might be too soon: “We have to keep working at it

DEBATE

really hard. If the public-private sector work well together, listen to each other, understand each other’s problems and try to overcome them jointly and are honest about them, then I think ideas like a ‘Czar’ for the West Midlands will have some traction in the longer term. But – you’ve got to do the preparation work, the digging and the understanding of the other person’s point of view before you get there, and we’re a way away from that just at the moment. That doesn’t mean we won’t get there, and that doesn’t mean we don’t want to get there.” n The debate was held in the private dining room at MPW Steakhouse Birmingham, with the support of BT. It was chaired by Caroline Theobald, managing director, Bridge Club Ltd.

Infrastructure must not be the only area of focus The importance of effective, reliable, fast communications has never been so vital. Communications are the cornerstone of a successful community, helping it to build new skills and knowledge, as well as encouraging the creation of new businesses and jobs. To underpin this, BT is working to enhance the broadband network across the region. Its ongoing commercial roll-out of super-fast fibre broadband will bring more than 1.7 million homes and businesses around the West Midlands within reach of the new technology by the end of Spring 2014, as part of a £2.5bn UK-wide investment programme. And in Birmingham city centre BT wants to push the boundaries even further through a pilot of ‘ultra-fast’ broadband in apartment blocks that could bring speeds of around 330 megabits per second to residents. In the areas of the region where it’s not commercially viable for a network provider to invest in faster broadband, BT is keen to work with the public sector to bring better services to the more difficult to reach areas. The welcome news that the European Commission gave the green light for state aid to be used to help roll-out next generation broadband across the UK has provided a great boost of confidence to the local authorities’ broadband plans and partnerships. The EC decision means companies like BT can work with local stakeholders to develop plans to extend next generation broadband to even more parts of the region. This is already happening in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, where BT was chosen to partner the two local authorities to boost access. But building a new, future-proof infrastructure is only part of the challenge facing the region. Exploiting its many benefits to the full often requires key cultural changes and courage. It’s vital the public and private sectors continue to work together to facilitate this because the rewards are many. Working from home becomes easier and across this manufacturing and engineering heartland, super-fast broadband enables businesses to share designs and other information more quickly, and engage with customers and supply chains more easily and effectively. Ian Binks, regional partnership director, BT West Midlands

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BUSINESS LUNCH One-stop shops for business advice and support services could soon be operated by Chambers of Commerce, giving them a more central role in economic growth. And it’s about time too, says Jerry Blackett, the chief executive at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Steve Dyson meets him for lunch to find out more “Do you know how many people Germany’s Chambers of Commerce have working for them out in China?” I don’t, but I have a feeling that Jerry Blackett is about to answer his own question. “200,” he declares. “And do you know how many people British Chambers of Commerce employ in China?” I think I know what’s coming next: “None!” Jerry, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce since 2006, is in an expansive mood about how Chambers could help to transform the economy – if they could have extra funding and power to provide better, more bespoke services. His enthusiasm comes from a new partnership he is forming with Tory grandee Michael Heseltine, author of the recent industrial policy review ‘No Stone Unturned’. Heseltine’s recommendations are now being reviewed by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, with the results to be unveiled this spring. Jerry believes this will lead to a West Midlands model for regional government funding that could soon

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A POWERFUL PROPOSITION

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be duplicated across the UK. The plans are wide-ranging, but Jerry is particularly excited by a focus on strengthening Chambers. “What Lord Heseltine is saying,” says Jerry, “is that one of the things holding Britain back is the third of businesses that are underperforming. Findings show that only 50% of businesses seek advice, but those that do are twice as likely to grow as those that do not. The latter are put off because where you go for advice is currently so confusing and duplicating. They just don’t know where to go for help so they don’t bother looking. “By contrast, in countries like Germany, Sweden and France, their Chambers are the ‘go-to’ business organisations for help. Lord Heseltine says that we should be doing the same. The Chamber is a global brand, and if we invest in our Chambers as the ‘go-to’ organisation for helping businesses, then we can start to compete with the Germanys of this world. “If you are in business in Germany,” Jerry points out, “it’s a legal requirement to be a member of the Chamber. Lord Heseltine would like the same, a fee, almost a tax to join the Chamber. But I’ve been talking closely to him about that because I’m not sure that would work in the UK. “We currently have 8% of businesses as members in the Birmingham Chamber. If I tax the other 92%, I’m just not sure that’s a great place to be. We would be seen as an arm of government, a tax collector. On the other hand, if the Government were to use the Chamber to deliver great services for businesses, it could make us compelling to join. “That’s what I’ve been putting to Lord Heseltine,” confides Jerry. “If you use the Chamber to deliver great services, you’d get private business contributions voluntarily, and then Chambers would become more sustainable, recycling this into more support services. And I think I’m convincing him that this is what we need – to increase our

• enhancing • connecting • developing

BUSINESS LUNCH

The long term potential for any company is their people. Businesses need to invest in training, their people and their own futures attraction for businesses by increasing the relevance of our services.” Jerry is forthright about the type of services needed: support and advice in the form of understanding human beings, not just another bland website with forms to fill in, links to click and forums to join. “Our services have to be unique,” he explains. “A personal, face-to-face service is our strength. I’m not going to create a Chamber heavily reliant on electronics and online. We need to be ‘good enough’ online, but brilliant on a personal basis. The Birmingham Chamber

celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, and we’ll be here another 200 years if we really, deeply understand that businesses value a personal service.” But what is the Chamber’s advice for businesses as the region tries to lift itself out of recession? “We need to believe in the potential of training,” says Jerry. “We still have not got that apprentice culture. Too many smaller businesses just don’t believe in it. ‘If I train someone they’ll leave’, is the attitude of too many SMEs. “For example, the 800 jobs recently announced by JLR have created what many SMEs feel is a talent drain, and this seems to be frustrating smaller businesses in the supply chain, caught between the ‘of course it’s good’ and ‘we’ll lose our best people’. “But the long term potential for any company is their people, and therefore a good supply of people. Because then, when one leaves, they are not as exposed. So businesses need to invest in training, in their people, and therefore in their own futures. Rather than being frustrated, they should be more confident because of the success of ‘canopy’ companies like JLR.” ‘Canopy companies’? Jerry quickly explains: “They are analogous to the great trees of tropical forests – they allow the jungle floor to flourish. But if they are diseased, the harsh sunshine kills off the eco-system. There are large businesses that provide a canopy for smaller businesses... if they don’t do well, others suffer. If they do well, others prosper. In the West Midlands, I’m talking about the likes of JLR, Toyota, JCB, IMI and GKN.” We’re halfway through our steaks now at Marco Pierre White’s, on the 25th floor of The Cube in Birmingham, and perhaps it’s our view of the region around us that drives Jerry towards a wider, more futuristic sound bite. “The future belongs to cities,” he says with feeling. “Do you know, 55% to 60% of us live within a city environment today? By 2020, they estimate 65% to 70% will live in cities, and >>

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BUSINESS LUNCH by 2040, 80% to 90% will be city dwellers. “Greater Birmingham will only grow, and the future belongs to cities. “If you look at the USA, it’s possible to become American in five years – from migrant to American citizen. In California’s Silicon Valley, most people are immigrants who brought ideas with them. Google was formed by two former Russian students. “Now Birmingham’s a relatively young city, less than 200 years old, and most of us are economic migrants – coming to the city because of jobs, businesses and so on. That American sense of being able to plug and play your ideas. My proposition is that Birmingham should display similar characteristics: bring your ideas here and get them commercialised. That potential is a reason to be confident about Birmingham. We’re very welcoming to enterprise and new ideas.” But, Jerry warns, Birmingham currently lacks the international connectivity to become that sort of city. “Birmingham is a great physical location but the airport can’t reach India, China and South America. I meet business people every day who say they want to fly straight to these destinations. The current runway extension is looking to do that, but the Government needs to incentivise airlines... there’s far too cosy a Heathrow environment at the moment.” This echoes evidence Jerry recently gave to the House of Commons’ transport select committee, arguing that the UK economy was held back by poor aviation links to regions outside England’s southeast. It’s not all gloom, however, and Jerry stresses the “good stories” the region has to tell to FDIs – foreign direct investors. “There is a great pipeline of development in Birmingham and the surrounding region. Not only the extension of Birmingham’s runway, but also the redevelopment of New Street Station, the new Library of Birmingham opening this year, and increased motorway capacity with more fourth lanes around the region. “The prospect of HS2 [high speed train lines] also gives a feeling of long-term confidence, and that’s what businesses want more than anything – stability and long-term confidence. To know where we’re going with rail for the next 30 years is an important part of that.”

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If you’re doing what you love, you’re probably doing it really well and so you’ll be successful and things will work out Transport, travel and connecting people are obviously important to Jerry, who enjoyed an international career in banking with Barclays before joining the Chamber. He was in Toronto for a number of years and his youngest son, Andrew, was born there in the late 1980s. At 17 and with a Canadian passport, Andrew begged his parents to let him return to Toronto to study. Now aged 24, he still works there in marketing for The Keg restaurant chain. Jerry’s eldest son Tom, 28, lives in New York after marrying a girl from Queens, working as a social media marketing expert for the Visa Bureau. This means Jerry, 56, and his wife Flora, 58, regularly leave the family home in Dorridge, Solihull, to cross the Atlantic visiting their ex-pat sons. And Jerry is heartened by what he calls the “confidence” of the region’s younger generation, one he feels is “far less obsessed” with pay, pensions and security, because they “just want to do what they love doing”. He’s

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talking about new start-ups and youthful entrepreneurs now, which sounds good – but is it practical not worrying about the future? Jerry gives me the example of his middle son, Harry, who graduated with a first class honours degree in Fine Art. The recession meant Harry couldn’t find full-time employment and so in 2009 he set up his own design studio, An Endless Supply, in Birmingham. Today, this start-up continues to provide a successful livelihood for Harry, now 26. “If you’re doing what you love,” says Jerry, “you’re probably doing it really well and so you’ll be successful and things will work out. I’ve got confidence in that human condition – innovation, enterprise, the get up and go that humans have. The West Midlands has more 18-24 year olds in economic activity than other regions.” All those new and growing companies require expert advice and support, of course, which over coffee brings the conversation back to Jerry’s main point – the


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need for better-funded Chambers, providing reliable one-stop shops for businesses. It’s hardly surprising that Jerry is keen on Heseltine’s plan for the greater involvement of Chambers. A few years ago, Birmingham Chamber had around 4,000 business members. Today, thanks largely to the recession and partly to the fragmentation of state support agencies like Business Link, membership is down to just 2,800. And that’s from a larger pool of businesses, as the group now not only includes Birmingham and Solihull, but also partner Chambers in Burton, Cannock, Tamworth and Lichfield, plus members of the British American Business Council, the Institute of Asian Businesses and the Future Faces and Chamber Executive Clubs. But if Chambers receive new government funding to become the main body assisting companies, won’t other business membership bodies have their noses put out of joint? Aren’t the bosses of the Institute of Directors, the CBI, Marketing Birmingham and the various Business Improvement Districts, to name just a few organisations charging for membership, getting cheesed off at Jerry palling up with Heseltine? “That might seem threatening,” says Jerry, “but the evidence is when Chambers play this role they stimulate demand for more services from other membership bodies. So what I’d say to bosses of other bodies is: ‘Don’t regard this as a threat, because if the Chamber is better resourced and contracted to play a larger role, you will benefit.’” Heseltine will unveil the detailed findings of the LEP’s review of his recommendations on 18 April, at Birmingham Chamber’s annual dinner. And it’s this prospect that keeps a spring in Jerry’s step as he approaches his 10th anniversary with the Chamber, his 7th as chief executive – with no plans to stop until retirement. “The next few years will be too exciting to even think about doing anything else,” he adds. n

• enhancing • connecting • developing

BUSINESS LUNCH

Great food to match impressive views However many times you visit the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill in Birmingham, you’ll never tire of the views from its location on The Cube’s 25th floor. Birmingham’s horizons can be seen in all directions, and this certainly made it the right place to discuss the performance of business and industry across the city with Jerry. I smile as the big Chamber man – he’s over six foot four – chooses the prettiest dish to start, bright purple beetroot slices with crumbly chunks of goat’s cheese, which with its walnut and herb dressing looks just like a giant pond flower in full bloom. “The sweet and savoury just sets my appetite off,” says Jerry, “and this is even nicer than the first time I had it.” I stick with something that had once lived, quickly polishing off a plate of crispy fried calamari, served with tartare sauce and fresh lemon to squeeze. We then both select the poshest dish in the house – an 8oz fillet steak served with grilled beef tomato, onion rings and chips cooked in beef dripping. Jerry adds sauce au poivre, whereas I ask for mine to be drenched in garlic butter. They both come medium rare and create a pleasant silence as we enjoy a tender chew. It feels good to be tucking into the best part of a cow that the menu promises is “native” and “aged for 28 days”. We add creamed spinach as a side dish to make sure we are being healthy. Though both big men, we have no room for dessert, and instead order Americano coffees with hot, skimmed milk – you’ve got to watch the waistline. A single rose jelly – a mini Turkish delight – keeps us happy. The MPW Steakhouse Birmingham is an experience, and the Midland business community seems to be gradually finding and enjoying it – you nearly always bump into someone you know. Our lunch being on the city’s snowiest Friday means we don’t see many fellow diners at all, but as we leave we feel well-primed to trudge home. For more information ring 0121 634 3433 or visit www.mpwsteakhousebirmingham.co.uk

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VICKERY ON WINE

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VICKERY ON WINE

in association with

SPAIN SHINES THROUGH Richard Vickery, general manager at Harvey Nichols in Birmingham, puts two great wine nations to the test, with Spain edging it - just I am a fairly recent convert to Spanish wine (following a rather enjoyable team building session at a Knightsbridge wine merchant just over two years ago, where the theme for the evening was Italy vs Spain). The finish to the evening was a pretty magnificent and very memorable Barolo but the two players that stayed with me and I go back to regularly are Albarino and Priorat. Zarate albarino 2011 The Zarate Albarino 2011 is Albarino as it should be. In the words of my very enthusiastic wine buyer this wine is ”the very definition of balance and minerality in a bottle”. Strongly mineral, balanced, very focused and tight like a good Chablis. Hidden within the steely character of the wine, stone fruits such as peach and apricot lurk”. Unlike some paler versions, this Albarino should last well over the next two to three years and would benefit from decanting as the wine opens out and the fruit becomes more noticeable although still integrated in

the wine. Enjoyed with a poached salmon or linguine from our new menu. Pasanau, Ceps Nous 2008, Priorat Priorat is always a little special as production is generally low and this one is even more so as it comes from a single vineyard, from a very old hillside Carignan grape. The colour is a high intensity purple typical of Priorat, back to my wine buyer. “This has concentrated fruit flavours with a touch of the animal thrown in [no, me neither]. Brooding dark fruits combine with liquorice and spice on the nose, which is replicated on the palate”. The tannins are smooth and the oak very subtle due to the age of the barrels. Would complement our caramelised duck breast salad. Although it was a very tightly fought contest and Italy rallied back with a sweet strike from Valpolicella Classico, Spain won in the end. n Both wines are available at Harvey Nichols at The Mailbox. Albarino - £15.00 / Priorat - £15.50

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MOTORING

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making up for

As a latecomer to driving, Richard O’Brien, head of PR at DBS Law, is certainly no petrol head - or at least he wasn’t until BQ intervened by giving him a new E-Class Hybrid Mercedes to test drive

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MOTORING

lost time

I am exactly the same age as Top Gear’s James May but, unlike Captain Slow, I’ve managed to get to my 50th birthday without driving a Mercedes. So I was delighted when BQ asked me to review the new E-Class Hybrid for their

first issue. I’m not a big petrol head. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30. So I set off with strongly mixed feelings. I was as excited as on my 10th birthday, when I fell down the stairs holding a Curly Wurly without getting

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carpet fluff on it. At the same time, I seriously doubted my ability to express an informed opinion on the car’s relative merits. I feared exposure before my peers in the West Midlands business community as a learner. >>

BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


MOTORING

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My emotions were calmed as soon as I was introduced to the 300 E. Momentarily stunned by its beauty, like meeting a blind date way out of your league, I quickly pulled myself together and adopted a

suitable air of sophistication and nonchalance. I slipped into the crafted leather seats, switched on the magically silent engine and floated away in rapture to the photo shoot. Now I’d been told in advance about the

I slipped into the crafted leather seats, switched on the magically silent engine and floated away in rapture

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soothing effect of this new engine and the precision engineered sculpture that envelopes it. But I scoffed at this. I was having a white knuckle stressful week at work – there was no way I was going to unwind driving from Wolverhampton to Birmingham in the rain. But after sailing along for just a mile and a half, I was already beginning to purr. Even on the tedious stretch of the M6 that drools sadly between the two towns, the E-Class brought me comfort and joy. There’s no idling engine rumble to ruin the warm timbre of the sound system that was reassuringly set to Radio 2. The sat nav is fantastically informative and rather more polite


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MOTORING

I told my wife how the E 300 made me want to be a better man. I asked whether I could have one...

than the company I normally keep; and the instruments are quirky and blink with scientific wizardry. I didn’t really get to drive the car until I headed for home much later. On the open road it is majestic, 0-60 mph in a heartbeat and scarily fast should you be so inclined. It wasn’t its power and responsiveness that affected me though. It was the fusion of fossil fuel and instantly renewable energy under the bonnet. The flight display keeps you up to date with the energy stored in the battery and the tank. A graphic tells how far you may travel with your current stores of fuel. And I discovered that with steady driving, the

dial stands still. I’m no climate change denier. I recycled long before I had to. So I soon became obsessed with saving diesel, money and the planet all at the same time. I drove like a grown up. I was calm, focused and filled with righteousness. At journey’s end, 100 miles from my office, I had barely consumed more than a pipette of crushed prehistoric bug juice. My carbon footprint was feather light and all the sorrows of the day had floated from me. I couldn’t wait to drive again. Back at work I got the personal buzz from the E. As I pulled into the DBS law car park I could feel the eyes of my colleagues fall upon me with new found admiration and respect.

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I didn’t tell anyone it wasn’t mine. At home I told my wife how the E 300 made me want to be a better man. I asked whether I could have one. “Maybe if you’re good,” she said. n The car Richard drove was an E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid AMG Sport (diesel) with a total RRP including VAT price of £41,355. It was supplied by: Mercedes-Benz of Wolverhampton 46 Penn Road Inner Ring Road Wolverhampton WV2 4HD Tel 01902 427 897

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rolling back the years Retro riding is on the rise thanks to a heady mix of classic mechanics, timeless fashion and rebellious poster boys like Steve McQueen. Josh Sims charts the new wave of old biking

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13


EQUIPMENT It costs well into six figures in any currency. And perhaps that is to be expected. The Brough Superior, after all, is not only a hand-built motorbike, but one with history: the company behind it was established in 1919, made its last motorbike at the outbreak of World War Two and, notoriously, this was the bike on which Lawrence of Arabia was killed in 1935 (swerving to avoid a pedestrian, an accident so celebrated it led to the introduction of the first motorcycle helmets). The difference is that this Brough is bespokemade now, an exact replica of the 1927 spec original, built at a rate of just five bikes a year by the original, recently re-launched company.  Nor is Brough alone in being part of a growing retro bike scene. British bike brand Triumph, for example, has seen a resurgence thanks to the launch of its ‘modern classic’ line of 60s-style bikes, notably the Thruxton and Bonneville. Royal Enfield has launched an updated Bullet 500. Norton has also been revived. These are throw-backs to the post-war eras of classic biking, when, in the UK, so-called Ton-Up Boys raced up the A1 to eat egg sandwiches at the Ace Cafe, and in the US, Marlon Brando ensured bikers were forever associated with rebellion thanks to his role as Johnny in 1953’s ‘The Wild One’. They have also prompted a new wave of highprofile urban bikers, the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Ewan McGregor, for whom the style is a large part of the appeal.  “The retro bike scene is a growing sub-culture that is part of the same non-conformist interest in vintage clothing,” reckons Brough’s new owner, Mark Upham. “It’s an appreciation not only for the very high >>

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Those were the days when socalled Ton-Up Boys raced up the A1 to eat egg sandwiches at the Ace Cafe BUSINESS QUARTER |SPRING 13


EQUIPMENT

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standards of products made in the past, but for its original design, of lasting influence.” It is, of course, also an appreciation of cool one the brands understand. In 2009, Triumph, ahead of the curve, became one of the first classic bike brands to launch not a technical biking clothing range, but a t-shirt line. In part to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Bonneville, the shirts featured old ads for the motorcycle, as well as, inevitably, images of Triumph fan Steve McQueen. Triumph has collaborated with designer Paul Smith on a small collection too. That motorcycles with the styling of yesteryear but the tech of today might well find a ready market - akin to car industry’s embracing the past over recent years too, Ford with its relaunched Mustang, VW with the Beetle, BMW with the Mini, and so on - is an idea catching on beyond classic British makers too. David Angel is owner of the UK’s F2 Motorcycles, Europe’s biggest dealer of Ural motorcycles, a name unfamiliar next to brand giants the likes of Harley-Davidson, Ducati and Kawasaki, but arguably more characterful all the same. For one, the Ural comes not from the great biking nations of the US, Italy or even Japan, but from Russia and, as Angel points out, “there are still some people who would equate any bike out of Russia with poor quality, though that’s certainly not the case now”. For two, Ural motorbikes are the

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essence of pared-down, uncomplicated, elemental mechanics - its original manufacture was launched in 1942 in order to mobilise Soviet troops against German invasion, so a hardy machine capable of dealing with rough roads (which turned out to be a reverse engineered and beefed-up BMW) was essential. “And that has always been part of the Ural’s appeal, because it has always offered huge potential for tinkering and personal improvements,” Angel adds. And last, but certainly not least, the classic Ural bike - at around GBP12,000 - comes, wait for it, with a side-car. Angel, naturally, can sing the praises of the side-car: enough space for luggage, or camping equipment, or, if you must, a friend, but without sacrificing the flexibility and freedoms of the motorcycle to explore the back routes and backwoods. “It’s not about speed. It’s about having a great time getting there,” as he puts it. Indeed, it seems a loss that the side-car has largely disappeared from

the roads over the past half-century - a product, Angel explains, of the advent of the small, economical and affordable car during the early 1960s, which meant that, “unless you were passionate about side-cars, there wasn’t any reason to own one,” he says. “In

Not that riding a motorbike with side-car should be dismissed as beginner’s stuff. Rather, Angel assures that riding three wheels requires training and practice to counteract the asymmetric balance of weight. “You have to read the road ahead all the time,” he says,

Ural has always offered huge potential for tinkering and personal improvements...It’s not about speed. It’s about having a great time getting there fact, there still isn’t any reason to own one.” Apart, of course, from its history - Ural takes its name, for example, from the Russian mountain range near to which production was moved later during WW2 to avoid Luftwaffe bombing - its sheer retro charm - which ensures a dedicated owners’ club - and its stylishness among identikit macho super-bikes.

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noting how the thrill of riding an old-style motorbike might well be most strongly felt less in the style stakes as the fact that these machines will not, unlike their more modern counterparts, ride themselves. “That’s what makes riding a Ural so exciting against other motorbikes. It’s a much more involving ride. You need to be in control.” n

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FASHION

“Put most menswear on a table and it all somehow looks the same now,” says the flamboyant Angelo Galasso. “You have to open the jacket to see the label to know what you’re looking at. What I want to offer are clothes of distinction.” Blurring into the great morass of grey conservatism is one thing Galasso has never done. His may not be a name to rival fellow Italians Armani or Versace, but he has had his influence on menswear: Galasso is the car salesman turned investment banker, turned shirtmaker, who launched the Interno 8 brand in 1990, bringing with it not just the Gianni Agnelli-inspired watchcuff - a section cut out of the cuff to better accommodate a statement, and typically extra large watch - but a trend for towering collars, open necks and loud prints that defined the style of the premier league and, in many instances, still does that of TV presenters. In short, he rescued the humble shirt from wardrobe obscurity, creating a 100 shop international business in the process. “But,” Galasso adds of his decision to sell up, “I like to work with passion and just didn’t feel it anymore. “We’d built a new reputation for the shirt but I spent a lot of time on the shop-floor and could see that the the market was going towards something more haute couture.” And he isn’t kidding. Haute couture may sound like an exaggeration, but Galasso’s >>

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a step above the norm Driven by a passion for mens fashion with distinction, Angelo Galasso continues to challenge consumers to dare to be different, as Josh Sims reports

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FASHION latest incarnation - as the front man of an eponymous brand, via launching Billionaire Couture with Flavio Briatore, with whom he has been through a protracted and “stressful” legal battle - comes close. It is not for the wallflower: lavish print and colour, crossed with a high Italian luxe creates the kind of menswear one does not forget, for good or ill. Everything, from fat ties to pointy shoes, is available in a more bespoke version should you wish to turn the volume right up. Shoes, in fact, are a good example, available as they are in crocodile and ostrich, but also stingray, python, goat, mink... Even jeans may weigh in at £5,000 a pair, thanks to gold rivets. “It’s about selling the right fashion for the right customer,” says Galasso, now 53, who admits his determination to stand out probably comes from his growing up in a big family - even as a teenager he was using local factories to alter his clothes, having brightly-coloured piping put on, for example, or jackets made of blanket material. “And there is a customer who wants something different, something bolder. Too many brands just use womenswear to sell menswear - they just put out a few suits as an afterthought. There isn’t really anything special out there for men.” Indeed, for those more comfortable with muted sobriety, Angelo Galasso’s clothes may prove a leap too far. After all, as he notes, most shoppers - and for that matter, most shop buyers - are “scared of buying anything too different because they’re used to buying the same thing over and over”. But for those bored of the same old, same old, his style is a breath of Neapolitan or Florentine air. For those who can look beyond the extravagant detailing - a jacket lined with tie silk, for example - it is, Galasso argues, actually all rather traditional: Savile Row on a psychedelic high. “Savile Row,” says Galasso, “because that’s where the most elegant men are. There, and in Naples.” Galasso concedes that, despite the rapid launch of womenswear and even childrenswear spin-offs, his new brand is niche - more a case of ‘build it and they will come’ than answering a clear need. But he hopes >>

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FASHION to, as he puts it, “catch the right moment” in a changing male sartorial psyche. “Whenever we open a new shop it’s a risk of course. But so far they have always shown that there’s a customer for what we make,” he argues. “I think so many men out there feel that designers rarely think about what they want, or understand that now the male personality is different, and that men want to look different, to dress more expressively - perhaps a little more flashily, but certainly differently, and to get complimented for doing so. You can’t overdo the flashiness, of course - you do it with one piece, not head to toe. Some people will still think it’s too much, and that’s fine.” Fine perhaps because Galasso - who thinks he could build his young business up into another 100 store chain - has something of a track record of going his own way and finding enough men to follow him. It was while he was working in finance and unable to find clothes he liked for himself that, despite a lack of training, he started to make his own. Soon colleagues were placing orders, enough that he decided to make it full time - with the novelty of having 14 women on motorbikes bombing around Rome taking client measurements at work. Soon after that, the unlikely combo of Jay-Z, Tony Blair and the King of Jordan started buying too. Similarly, his own label has attracted the custom of Paul McCartney, David Beckham, Michael Caine... “When Coca-Cola was launched its growth was all about word-of-mouth,” says Galasso, by way of analogy. “People just asked for it, until an agent turned up, started pushing it, and then suddenly everyone wanted it.” Similarly, now, he reckons, we style-conscious men are all undergoing what might be called - turning to another foodstuff - the mozzarella transformation. Think back, Galasso asks, just a decade, to a time when mozzarella could be bought almost anywhere in the UK. Now think of the kind of burrata mozzarella that can be bought today and which comes, coincidentally, from the southern Italian region where Galasso was born. It’s in another class. It’s the kind of difference men are seeing in their clothing choices. Just don’t drip the olive oil on any of it. n

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So many men out there feel that designers rarely think about what they want, or understand that now the male personality is different

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SUCCESS STORY

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SUCCESS STORY

As the UK plunged into recession, the withdrawal of a £1m loan facility left Cab Automotive with just £50 in its bank account and on the verge of collapse. Four years later, managing director John Faulkner is successfully leading the car parts firm into annual revenues of nearly £40m. Steve Dyson reports on the dramatic change in fortunes It was a dark, cold and damp morning on Friday 12th December 2008 as John Faulkner arrived at Cab Automotive’s factory in Tipton, in the Black Country. But the atmosphere was about to get much chillier during that fateful day’s meeting with the company’s bank manager. “The economy was faltering, and the bank had been coming in to see us every two months, then every month,” recalls John, now aged 55. “We sat down as usual and tried to show them our books, but on that day they simply said: ‘We don’t need to see your data because your customers are also our customers and we know where the automotive sector is heading.’ Basically, the message was: ‘We want our money back within 14 days.’ At the time, Cab Automotive’s combined overdraft and loans amounted to around £1m, and the withdrawal of these debt facilities coincided with a sudden freeze in orders from the firm’s clients, resulting in a cash flow crisis. “The bank was pretty accurate with its information,” admits John, “because from two weeks before Christmas until two weeks after, no-one ordered anything. “With zero revenue and the bank wanting its money back, at one memorable stage we had just £50 left in the bank.” Back in 2008, as much as 93% of Cab Automotive’s work had been with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and, in retrospect, with the car maker struggling to cope with its own major wobbles, the knock-on effect for such a dependent component firm was inevitable. John says: “JLR had been our main work, but suddenly the portcullis had come down. It was

like tumbleweed blowing through the shop floor – no work at all. To start with, we were in a bit of a daze, asking ourselves ‘what does this mean?’ and ‘surely the bank won’t really take the money back’. “But the realisation soon came that they were serious and, because this money represented 100% of our working capital, these were desperate times. Then the penny dropped that our usual orders had stopped, and it was a pretty awful feeling all round.” John, who was general manager at the time, did not remain shell-shocked for long. He’d joined Cab Automotive in 2007 after 33 years with Land Rover, he knew that this was a time for difficult decisions and positive action. “We took a view that we’d just created a new management structure within the company in 2007 and had had a good year with costs and quality. And in 2008 sales were good, with our JLR work going well. So we said to our management team, we either shut up shop or put up a fight.” The fight started with an immediate survival plan. Cab Automotive accepted 12 voluntary redundancies and some 50 agency staff were laid off from a workforce of around 200. Next came a complex piece of accountancy from

the company’s financial controller, resulting in John and the management team carefully talking to suppliers, customers and investors about outstanding invoices, revenues due and loans to somehow keep cash flows going. “We sort of declared UDI,” remembers John, “and at one stage even considered whether we needed a bank, as we knew so much detail about our own finances.” Importantly, during what was a bumpy period, Cab Automotive “never missed a delivery” as it steadied the company to face the future. They looked at all sorts of options, even developing marine seats for high-end leisure craft which, while they never went into production, taught Cab Automotive a lot about its capabilities. It was during this time that John acted on a very simple but challenging option – to start insourcing various jobs that had previously been outsourced. One of the company’s main products was seats, assembled from various basic parts like steel, plastic, foam and coverings. Rather than just assemble the seat, John decided they would start to make each part from scratch. “I started by looking at all the foam we used in head-rests and seats which we bought in >>

JLR had been our main work, but suddenly the portcullis had come down. It was like tumbleweed blowing through the shop floor

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SUCCESS STORY

from another company in Yorkshire. All those costs to the company making the foam, all the diesel spent transporting it to us, and all the stock we had to make sure we never ran out. “In my mind, this equalled an opportunity for Cab Automotive and so I started to look at how we could maximise that. At the time, there was a massive influx in industrial machinery from firms going bust going up at commercial auctions, and I spotted a foammaking machine that had previously been used to make material for caravans. “It was going for a bargain price and, because I had to act quickly, I ended up buying this machine on my own credit card. A bit of a risk, but I knew the machine was worth so much more, and if things didn’t work out I could have recouped my money several times by reselling it. “I then went out and employed an expert to teach us how to make foam. Previously, we’d had up to £100,000 tied up in foam contracts – in terms of another company’s costs, transport and stocks. But by making the foam onsite, we removed all those costs, all that transport and all that need for stock. “This resulted in only around £800 tied up in foam at any point. Obviously, the difference between £800 and £100,000 is huge in terms of operating costs. The machine I’d bought for the equivalent of a second-hand car was soon paying for itself every three days – and it’s been doing that ever since.” John then insourced the laser cutting of steel, wood routing to cut car console profiles and welding. A significant step was buying an entire powder-coating plant at another

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commercial auction, this time for around the price of a new car. Today, albeit after various improvements, that same plant is worth upwards of £1m. “It wasn’t just about costs,” says John. “That was part of it, of course, and we certainly thought we were putting our costs base right with all this insourcing. “But what we didn’t really think about at the time was the extra value we were putting into our own work. Within 18 months, customers were suddenly realising that Cab Automotive was something different. We were not only supplying car seats but were making every part of those seats as well.” Foam, John explains, comes first in the seatmaking process, but it’s not necessarily the most profitable part. By adding the leather, vinyl and cloth, that’s when Cab Automotive began to not only make more money but also to build a stronger reputation for its products. “Once we’d insourced the machinery and skills to manufacture the whole product, people started buying it all from us, leading to new orders for the parts involved, including the coverings and the assembly.” By 2011, Cab Automotive’s resurgence led to John’s promotion to managing director, and he has continued to lead the company’s success. Annual revenues rose to £19m in 2011, increased again in 2012 and are climbing fast in 2013, with signed contracts meaning turnover will reach nearly £40m by 2014. After the temporary contraction in 2009, staffing at the company rose to 230 workers by 2011, was 310 at the time of writing, will be 350 by June and 400 by Christmas 2013.

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“What was effectively a new product line meant new orders,” says John, “which allowed us to recruit people who could make the difference in quality, adding a real depth of skills to the company. “The trick then was to go out to other big companies to convince them about what we were doing. “Another aspect we improved was our cost base, investing in lean training for our managers, looking at all sorts of areas like shop floor layout, stock control and so on, improving our financial performance. “This approach worked hand-in-hand with our new depth of product, our skills and our widening customer base, in ever-increasing circles of success.” Cab Automotive is now a first tier supplier to such names as JLR, Aston Martin, Bentley and a few other super car manufacturers. Its improvement has even resulted in ’JLR Q’ status – essentially a quality award marking the business as a highly-preferred supplier, creating what John describes as “a halo effect” in the automotive industry. It also supplies the likes of Toyota and Honda through an array of other blue chip, first tier suppliers, such as Magna International. Current car products now include complete seats, centre consoles, gearlever gaiters, carpets, load floors, parcel trays and head linings. “We’ve got the technology and now don’t have a problem getting the orders,” says John. “As an example, when we make a seat for Land Rover we now make 85% of it on one site from raw material. From metal welding and powder coating to cutting and


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sewing seat fabrics, and from making the moulded foam to the final assembly. “We also have some major new contracts coming that I can’t talk about yet. But they’re with new blue chip customers, and they are high quality, complex contracts, adding value to components, getting involved in sequence supply and really moving up the food chain. We are not only a ‘just in time’ assembly plant, we are now one of the most diverse interior trim suppliers in the country.” Crucially, Cab Automotive is now less than 60% reliant on JLR orders, and has plans to continuously diversify its order books. The company has also changed its entire banking ethic. John is tight-lipped about the identity of the bank that effectively dropped them in it back in 2008, but he’s quite happy to confirm that he, in turn, has since dropped that bank. The company’s new banker is the Yorkshire Bank, who John describes as “very forward thinking and supportive”. Formed in 2005, Cab Automotive is still a privately-owned firm. Its chairman and majority shareholder is Brian Miles, with financial director Richard McCulloch also owning part of the company. John is fulsome in his praise of his bosses, for their backing, and of his managers and employees, for their hard work and belief in the company’s future. “We truly believed our industry would recover and that we had a strong business case,” says John. “Individuals within the business injected enough cash for me to set a course for that recovery. Brian, the chairman, was very supportive of every step, and as we came across issues he’d give me the opportunity to pull on the 33 years experience I’d had at Land Rover. “When staring defeat in the face I demanded and received 100% focus from 100% of our team. We started and are continuing our journey with that passion. They can say ‘we did that’, and the Cab Automotive philosophy of ‘The quality within’™ is now shining through.” n

SUCCESS STORY

From muddy tracks to pin stripes John was born in 1957 in the village of Marston Green, part of Solihull. His parents were in the pub trade, and when they moved to Wales he went to boarding school in Herefordshire. He left school at 17 to start an apprenticeship at Land Rover, then part of British Leyland, enjoying an unbroken career lasting 33 years. He developed skills as a prototype engineer and achieved ‘Chief Engineer’ status in the late 1990s. A deep understanding of cars was also developed through John’s other interest as a successful rally driver, leading Range Rover’s team to second place in the 1987 Paris to Dakar Rally. After holding senior positions within Land Rover’s Quality and New Model Launch divisions, John ‘retired’ in 2007, quickly joining Cab Automotive. John says: “You only know what you know until you have the chance to try it out. You can do all the courses, and I did at Land Rover – courses in cost management, purchase management, quality management, leadership knowledge and so on. But it all only comes tumbling out when you need it. “I was at Land Rover for 33 years, but my five years at Cab Automotive have been like an entirely new career. There are people who’ve been in industry all their lives who have not gone through what I’ve been though in the last five years. “It’s been a roller coaster ride. But I’ve had a fantastic opportunity to be part of a microcosm of what the entire motor industry has been through. Some people say ‘I bet you wish you’d done this 20 years ago’, but actually I don’t think I’d have been ready until it happened.” To top what has been an amazing turnaround at Cab Automotive, John has just been appointed president of the ‘Made in the Midlands’ organisation for the 2012/13 year. He lives in Solihull with his wife, and they have two children – one following in his father’s footsteps by serving an apprenticeship at Land Rover.

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the history boy The West Midlands is famed for the skills of its ‘metal bashers’, but not many operate in the niche pewter industry. And only one can claim to be a family firm with a history dating back to 1779. Steve Dyson meets a seventh generation member of the Williams business clan The fingers on young Sam Williams’ hand slide and click into action when I ask to see the range of pewter products made by the A.E. Williams company. His computer mouse quickly calls up a picture on the screen of the great dining hall at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with line upon line of children waiting for their dinner. “You see all those plates in front of Harry Potter and all the other pupils? They were all made in our workshops,” says Sam, proudly. He clicks his mouse again: “Here’s Michelle Pfeiffer with her hand round one of our goblets in Stardust.” Another click: “And that’s our jug that Robert De Niro is pouring from in the same film.” Suddenly, he’s off: Rowan Atkinson clutching a pewter goblet in Black Adder, little William Miller holding a pewter bowl in the BBC’s latest film of Oliver Twist, Russell Crowe glaring over shiny pewter candelabra in Master and Commander, and Johnny Depp emptying a pewter tankard in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. All these film props were made with loving care and attention by master craftsmen at A. E. Williams, based in Digbeth, Birmingham. There’s more: Sweeney Todd, Robin Hood, Titanic, Les Miserables and countless other cinema blockbusters all used the firm’s products, because nowhere else can producers

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find pewter items that look and feel so historic. History, of course, is what A.E. Williams is all about. The family company has been making Pewter since the 18th century, and several of the current family shareholders are members of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers, just like their ancestors. At this stage, Sam flicks through various papers and internet pages as he tries to remember whether he is the sixth or seventh generation, so we use my notebook to draw a rough and ready tree. The story begins back in 1779 when Thomas Williams began making pewter on the Welsh border, near Bristol. His son, Richard Williams, took over in 1835, followed by his son, Ernest Williams, from 1865, moving to Birmingham by the end of the 19th century. In 1900, Ernest’s son, Albert Williams, took charge, and

his son, Thomas Williams, ran the firm from 1945. Then, in 1987, Thomas split the firm equally to his son, David Williams, and his son-in-law, Barry Johnson. Today, Barry’s son Stephen Johnson is a joint partner with David, and David’s son Sam Williams, aged 23, has recently become a junior partner. And so we decide that the original Thomas Williams is Sam’s great, great, great, great, great grandfather – making Sam the seventh generation of Williams in the family company’s history. Sam’s taking me on a mini-tour of the workshops now, and he points out the age of the moulds that result in such vintage pewter ware. “This one’s a plate mould dating back to the early 18th century, part of an entire stock of moulds that was part of the James Yates Collection that we bought back in 1990.” We’re in a darkened room with no windows, and the metal shelves around me are sagging with the weight of hundreds upon hundreds of bronze moulds used to shape the various pewter designs. “You must have hundreds of different products,” I venture. “Hundreds?” smiles Sam. “There are five thousand more moulds stored upstairs,” he laughs, “and some of them make parts for up to five different products. You can work out how many products that >>

We’ve survived because we’ve adapted. Come war or recession, to get through it, it starts with the person and they have to want to get through those periods

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makes.” Now Sam’s stopped in front of a small pile of tin ingots, a tangle of copper bars and a small case of antimony, explaining how the pewter’s made. Depending on the grade, you mix between 92% to 96% of tin with 2% to 5% of copper, and then add 1% to 3% of antimony. The latter, Sam explains, is fairly lethal stuff in itself, but in tiny quantities within pewter it acts as a bleach, continuously cleaning the alloy and therefore making it hygienic to eat and drink from. Sam’s tour continues. We pass fires that can heat the pewter to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before it’s carefully poured into moulds, then watch turning machines at work with craftsmen completing the shapes of products, and see other workers at polishing machines making them shine. We walk through several rooms storing the company’s stock: piles of plates, bowls and spoons, rows of goblets and tankards, and shelves of candlesticks and candelabra in all shapes and sizes. “That’s what we call ‘period pewter’,” says Sam, “the kind of thing you see in Tudor dramas and in historic castles.” It’s these products that helped to make up a major order from the Crown Estate in 2008, when A.E. Williams helped to restock the kitchens and dining rooms at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond upon Thames. Another Crown Estate order followed in 2009 for celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the crowning of King Henry VIII, and Sam shows me dozens of pictures of re-enactments using their pewter products. But although the company is proud of its ‘period pewter’, it’s had to move with the times in recent years, diversifying its products to meet new demands of giftware markets and changing fashions. Sam now opens box after box of modern pewter products: fob pocket watches, cufflinks, tie bars, letter openers, thimbles, clocks and picture frames, to name just a few. “Pewter’s just such a versatile metal,” says Sam. “People say ‘can you do this, or this’ and if the demand is there, we just find a way. I could make you a pewter replica of that pen you’re holding, or of your mobile phone – and sometimes that’s the kind of thing people want.” It’s this flexibility and diversity that has helped

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I do want to get to where my dad’s sat now, with my own family, my own children, and thinking who am I going to pass this history onto next to keep A.E. Williams going for the last 234 years, now employing 18 staff and with annual turnover “well over £1m” and steadily rising. “We’ve survived because we’ve adapted,” says Sam, now sitting down with me at desks in the firm’s narrow management office. “Come war or recession, to get through it starts with the person. “And whether that’s been my father or grandfather, and all the other ancestors, they’ve had to want to get through those difficult periods. And if that ‘want’ is there, they make it happen by adapting – either with new products, or with new manufacturing methods, or by responding to changing fashions “I’ve got this theory that those fashions

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change every 40 to 50 years. Back in the 1960s, I understand that tankards were all the fashion for birthdays, retirements and so on. Twenty or 30 years ago, there was not so much demand for them. But now, 50 years later, tankards are back! “Fob pocket watches are another good example. If you’d told my dad 10 to 15 years ago that they’d be popular, he’d have laughed. But now, we can’t make enough of them. So we keep all our moulds, and as fashions change we bring out the old ones again.” As he talks, Sam enthuses, and even though he’s only 23 you can tell that he’s ‘caught’ the pewter-making bug. “Absolutely,” he says. “Not that it’s what I thought would happen. Dad didn’t want me to feel comfortable just coming to work in the family factory. “Originally, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, and even started studying the subject at university in Coventry, but it wasn’t what I imagined. Then I had thoughts of becoming an electrician. But I eventually started work at the Co-op, and mixed that with some temporary work down here in the workshop. And then you just get hooked. That was when Sam was just turning 18, and nearly six years later he’s still learning the pewter trade, slowly becoming an expert in each and every part of the craft to carry on in the family tradition. As things stand, Sam’s still single, so does that expectation of progression weigh heavily on his shoulders? “Yes and no,” he answers. “I don’t feel it’s on my shoulders now because dad’s still here and Stephen’s also a partner. But I do think about 30 years down the line – in that I still want to be here in 30 years time, and so there’s all the business that we have to continue running to get there. “And yes, I do want to get to where my dad’s sat now, with my own family, my own children, and thinking who am I going to pass this history onto next. But that’s a long time away.” And at this point, Sam has to break off to deal with hotel bookings in Glasgow, where he and several staff are heading that afternoon to attend a giftware trade fair, selling their new designs and keeping an eye out for any trends that might trigger ideas for new products. n


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INSIGHT

Keeping it in the family: (L to R) David Williams with his nephew Stephen and son Sam

Creating a lasting legacy Sam’s dad David Williams pops in to chat, and gives me a potted history of the company’s different locations in inner city Birmingham: next to streets of back-to-backs on Angelina Street in Balsall Heath until the 1950s, then moving to premises in Small Heath, and finally to their current Digbeth base in 1970. I ask David what he feels is the magic ingredient in the company’s longevity, and I like his quick, three-point answer: “Putting yourself out; reacting to the market as quickly as possible; and building a reputation of trust and reliability.” David is 61, and still has many years at A.E. Williams left in him, but how does he feel about the next generation eventually taking over the company? “I know I can pass it on,” he says without hesitation. “I know that the people I work with are prepared to continue, and I know they won’t break it up.” It’s a family theme that’s picked up by the other partner, Stephen Johnson, who received his share of the company from his dad Barry in 1987. Stephen, aged 45, says: “With many companies, when times are good, they expand too much. When they’re busy, they just end up employing loads more staff. But when things get quieter, what do they do then? They find they’ve over-reached themselves.” The potential to over-reach yourself is massive in the pewter industry, where companies work with huge amounts of expensive raw materials like tin. I’m shown graphs charting the prices of commodities markets, and Stephen tells me about a crisis three years ago when tin shot from £4,000 to £24,000 a tonne. “We’re doing very well,” says Stephen, “and we seem to be steadily growing, but we can’t forget how the market prices can suddenly change things. “We’ve always been really, really conscious of our workforce, making sure there’s enough work for them. So when we’re busy, instead of just taking on more labour we prefer to give more hours to our staff to provide for them. “At times, that means some of them work six or even seven days a week, but it also means it’s easier to cope when times are slack, as we just cut overtime rather than jobs. We don’t over stretch, we don’t get too big for our boots. “The whole company’s like a big family, and we try to act like that. We like keeping staff secure in their jobs.”

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BIT OF A CHAT

with Bill Borde >> Action man barista In case anyone’s wondering where top Royal Mail ‘fixer’ Mike Dalton has got to, BQ can reveal that ‘Action Man features’ has opened his own posh cafe in Shropshire. Mike, well known to many businesses across the region as the Royal Mail’s head of external relations, launched the ‘stop.’ coffee shop on St Julian’s Crescent, Shrewsbury, in the final quarter of 2012. Mike, who was at Royal Mail from 1997 to the end of 2011, said: “A hugely disappointing experience in a local coffee shop led to a decision to give up my 20-year career in corporate PR. “My wife Nicola and I were seeking a cup of decent coffee in a nice atmosphere. The poor quality of the coffee and the lacklustre service we were offered got us thinking. It quickly became apparent that, if carefully managed, we could cover the costs, make a profit and offer exceptional service and quality. Additionally for me, for the first time in my career I’m in complete control of the decision-making process, not just advising and inputting.” he said. Stop. has quickly built up a loyal customer base and Mike added: “Hopefully some of those faces I know so well will drop by some time and find out for themselves about my new skills as a barista!”

>> Student tax break Britain’s top tax boss certainly watches her pennies when she’s in the West

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Midlands – staying in student lodgings instead of top hotels! Lin Homer, who earns more than £180,000 a year as chief executive and permanent secretary of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, was in Birmingham for a community charity dinner in January. The 55-year-old, a former chief executive of Birmingham City Council, brought her daughter Annie with her to the Villa Park event and decided to spend the night in her digs in Warwick. “Mum’s on my floor,” Annie confided in BQ’s man at the dinner. “Well, I’ll probably stay on the floor so she can sleep in my bed,” the third year French and Sociology student added.

>> Pennies make pounds Poundland boss Jim McCarthy has told how he had to survive on wages of just £15 a week as a newly-wed teenager – saving pennies for occasional luxuries. Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Jim went to grammar school in Birmingham, and after a successful retail career became chief executive of T&S Stores, making his first million when Tesco bought the outlets in 2002. He became chief executive of Poundland in 2006, making another £10m when the discount chain was sold to US private equity firm Warburg Pincus in 2010. But Jim’s personal finances weren’t always as rosy, especially as a trainee newsagent at Dillons when setting up home in Small Heath, Birmingham. “It was 1974, when I was about 18,” recalled Jim. “I’d just got married to Rosie, who was the same age, and was earning something like £15 a week at a newsagent, but my rent was £7.50. It was tight. We used to save pennies in a coffee pot to go the pictures every few months, and we didn’t have a honeymoon.” Jim, aged 57, now lives with Rosie in a house he bought in 2006 for £1.8m near Stratford-upon-Avon. They have two sons – James, 25, and Sean, 22. “Money gives you choice,” added Jim, talking in The Sunday Times’ ‘Money’ section. “I bought myself a new Mini for Christmas for £29,000. Technically it’s for my wife. I think I’ll end up driving it more though!”

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>> Gorilla marketing It’s genuinely been a case of ‘gorilla’ marketing for one West Midland business this winter. A nine-foot high statue of King Kong was bought by Hall’s Garden Supplies, Sutton Coldfield, and has been sitting outside their premises for months since, attracting plenty of passing comments and hopefully extra business. Andrew Paul, partner at Hall’s, (pictured with Kong) said the £3,000 gorilla had been used to promote a range of animal ornaments. “We bought him as a showpiece,” he said, “and he’s caused quite a stir. At Christmas, we even put him in a Santa hat and a red and white scarf! He added: “He is for sale if anyone wants to buy him.”

>> Jerry warms his toes Nothing was going to stop Jerry Blackett from enjoying lunch with BQ in Birmingham on one of the snowiest days for years. “I’ve brought my over-boots with me,” said Jerry, the chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. “I picked them up when I was working in Toronto in the late 1980s.”Apparently, every businessman there keeps a pair of the giant rubber footwear close to hand. “You just stay in your shoes and slip them in,” said Jerry, zipping his shoes and the lower parts of his pin-striped suit into the contraptions before springing away through the snow – leaving BQ’s man to face cold, wet socks all the way home.


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ISSUE ONE: SPRING 2013

MORE THAN A GAME Football chief on his club’s vital role

HAVING A BLAST

Making a big noise in the music market

FIGHTING BACK The fall and rise of a car parts empire THE HISTORY BOY

Taking an age-old family dynasty into the future

ISSUE ONE: SPRING 2013: WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

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The regional entrepreneurs who emerged from TV’s most feared boardroom to set up on their own BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS

WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

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To register for BQ online visit www.bq-magazine.co.uk To request a free copy of the next issue of BQ West Midlands email your details to subscribe@bq-westmidlands.co.uk

DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT BQ WEST MIDLANDS IS ALL ABOUT? WHAT ISSUES CAN IT COVER? AND HOW CAN YOU INPUT INTO ITS CONTENT? If you’re looking for an enjoyable forum to make new business contacts or to bring clients to, then the Breakfast Club is the ideal networking forum in Birmingham for you. Meetings are held once a month on a Wednesday (normally the third), starting at 7.00am and finishing at 9.00am. There are typically 60-70 guests each month representing a wide variety of businesses. Get a free copy of the new BQ magazine and find out how you can be in future editions by booking for the Wednesday 20th March event.

Guest speaker Wed 20th March Steve Dyson, editor BQ West Midlands Magazine

For more information visit www.bbbc.biz or call 0121 2360484


EVENTS

SPRING 13

in association with

BQ’s business events diary gives you lots of time to forward plan. If you wish to add your event to the list send it to steve.dysonmedia@ gmail.com and please put ‘BQ events page’ in the subject heading

MARCH 1 Tender breakfast, with BCCG, at 75 Harborne Rd, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH (9.30am to 12 noon). Call 0121 454 6171 or email events@birmingham-chamber.com to book a place. 8 ‘Ladies, Give Your Business a Boost!’ Celebrating International Women’s Day, Walsall Football Club (10am to 2pm). Email enquiries@headzupbusiness.co.uk or go to www.headzupbusiness.co.uk to book a place. 8 Lichfield & Tamworth Business Breakfast, with BCCG Drayton Manor Park Hotel, Tamworth, B78 3TW (8.30am to 10.45am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 8 Developing Winning Bids, with BCCG at Chase Chamber, Point South, Park Plaza, Hayes Way, Cannock, WS12 2DB (9.30am to 11.30am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 14 Business Spotlight Breakfast, with BCCG, at 75 Harborne Rd, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH (7.15am to 10am). Call 0121 454 6171 or email events@birmingham-chamber.com to book a place. 14 Chase Business Lunch, with BCCG at Hatherton House Hotel, Pinfold Lane, Penkridge, ST19 5QP (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 15 Business Health Check, with BCCG at Chase Chamber, Point South, Park Plaza, Hayes Way, Cannock, WS12 2DB (9.30am to 12 noon). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 19 Effective Work Habits, with BCCG at Chase Chamber, Point South, Park Plaza, Hayes Way, Cannock, WS12 2DB (9.30am to 11.30am) For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

18 Spotlight Lunch, with CWCC, Scarman training and conference centre, The University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL (12 noon to 2pm). To book, call 02476 654 321 or email events@cw-chamber.co.uk 18 BCCG’s 200th anniversary dinner and awards, at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham (pre-dinner drinks from 6pm). Speaker: Lord Heseltine. Call 0121 454 6171 or email events@birmingham-chamber.com to book a place. 24 Professional Networking Lunch, with BCCG at The Winery, Manor Drive, Burton, DE14 3RW (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 26 Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, with BCCG at Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE (7am to 9.30am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

MAY 9 Chase Business Lunch, with BCCG at Hatherton House Hotel, Pinfold Lane, Penkridge, ST19 5QP (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 15 Breakfast with Business, with BCCG at Village Hotel Solihull, The Green Business Park, Stratford Road, Shirley, B90 4GW (7.30am to 9.30am). For more details please call 0121 781 7384 or email solevents@solihull-chamber.com 15 BBBC, Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR (7am). Speaker: tbc. More details and book at www.bbbc.biz, or contact a.hindmarsh@artislegal.com

20 BBBC, Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR (7am). Speaker: Steve Dyson, editor of BQ West Midlands magazine. Book at www.bbbc.biz, or contact a.hindmarsh@artislegal.com

21 Burton and District Chamber Annual Business Luncheon, (and AGM), Branston Golf and Country Club, Branston, Burton, DE14 3DP (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

21 Budget seminar, with BCCG, at Prime Chartered Accountants, Corner Oak, 1 Homer Road, Solihull, B91 3QG (5pm to 7pm). Call 0121 454 6171 or email events@birmingham-chamber.com to book a place.

22 Professional Networking Lunch, with BCCG at The Winery, Manor Drive, Burton, DE14 3RW (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

22 Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, with BCCG at Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE (7am to 9.30am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

23 Burton Business Breakfast – Are you REALLY SERIOUS About Growing Your Profits in 2013? With BCCG at The National Brewery Centre, Horninglow Street, Burton, DE14 1NG (7.30am to 9am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

22 BCCG AGM and lunch, at Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel, Chester Road, Birmingham, B36 9DE (11am to 2.30pm). Call 0121 454 6171 or email events@birmingham-chamber.com to book a place.

24 Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, with BCCG at Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE (7am to 9.30am). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

27 Professional Networking Lunch, with BCCG at The Winery, Manor Drive, Burton, DE14 3RW (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com

The diary is updated daily online at www.bq-magazine.co.uk

APRIL 4 Lichfield and Tamworth Business Luncheon, with BCCG at Drayton Manor Hotel, Tamworth, B78 3TW (12 noon to 2pm). For more details call 08450 710 191 or email c.plant@chase-chamber.com 10 The Mayor’s Business Speed Networking Event, Walsall Town Hall (10am to 12 noon). Pay £10 at the door or to book email pushpa@headzupbusiness.co.uk 17 BBBC, Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR (7am). Speaker: Lord Digby Jones. More details and book at www.bbbc.biz, or contact a.hindmarsh@artislegal.com

Please check with contacts beforehand that arrangements have not changes. Events organisers are also asked to notify us at the above email address of any changes or cancellations as soon as they are known. kEY: agM, Annual General Meeting. BBBC, Birmingham Business Breakfast Club. BCCg, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group. CWCC, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. QEHB, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

The Birmingham Pudding & Dessert Club

at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens | Tickets £24.95pp inc vat | 7th March 2013 | 6th June 2013

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Redcliffe Catering at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TR 0800 389 8950 www.birminghambotanicalgardens.com

BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 13



BQ WEST MIDLANDS issue 1