BQ Yorkshire Spring 2016

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Yorkshire: Spring 2016

Celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship

Chairman of the boards

Tom Brown offers a warm welcome at his Leeds skateboard shop

Floor polish

Posh boss has the world at his feet

Keys to success

Piano business is hitting the right notes with a Yorkshire accent


How his mother’s illness inspired Richard Paxman’s business




Business Quarter Magazine

Yorkshire Spring 2016

Family values IN SIGHT




EDITOR’S VIEW YORKSHIRE ISSUE 28 I never quite know if a theme will emerge in each BQ Yorkshire magazine. There are always subjects I want to cover – perhaps an entrepreneur who has been ‘spotted’ making a name for themselves, or an event or announcement that will have ramifications for the region. But often it is only when I assemble the interviews and articles in one folder that I realise how they have shared values and lessons to teach us. That reinforces the longheld belief in BQ that there are certain characteristics and approaches you need to possess to be in with a chance of turning from employee to entrepreneur. This time the word ‘family’ crops up a lot, proving that a new business often starts only because it has a built-in staff of understanding wives and husbands, generous parents or loyal siblings. Then perhaps it grows because one part of that support network joins full-time. Then the whole network is there when things stray off course, and celebrates with you when the work starts coming in. Alongside the investors, mentors and mates, never underestimate the power of a family in driving a new business. In this issue, read about recruitment expert Steven Street and why a small piece of paper in his wallet reminds him – if he ever needs it – of the importance of family and keeping everything in perspective. Neil Armstrong, chairman of Pickering in Business, has two ‘families’ that keep him grounded – his colleagues in Mountain Rescue England and Wales and his ever-understanding wife and children at home. On Boxing Day he hugged his kids and left his home to wade through the flooded streets of York helping shattered families in their own hour of need. And reflect on the immeasurable driving force behind Richard Paxman and his family’s business developing scalp-cooling technology that tackles hair loss during chemotherapy. His close family worked flat out to perfect their work after their own mother was hit by breast cancer in her thirties and started losing her beautiful long hair. She lost her battle when the cancer returned, but the family may well be winning the war in her name. Alongside these business heroes and more are all your usual features, including commercial property, news items we have highlighted for you, the Movers and Shakers who are the most influential appointments across Yorkshire and your quarterly events diary at the back of the magazine. Enjoy – and keep in touch. Mike Hughes, Editor, BQ Yorkshire

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room501 Publishing Ltd, Spectrum 6, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, SR7 7TT. Business Quarter (BQ) is a leading national business brand recognised for celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship. The multi-platform brand currently reaches entrepreneurs and senior business executives across the North East and Cumbria, Scotland, Yorkshire and the West Midlands. BQ has established a UK wide regional approach to business engagement reaching a highly targeted audience of entrepreneurs and senior executives in high growth businesses both in-print, online and through branded events. All contents copyright © 2016 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 content marked ‘Profile’ and ‘Special Feature’ is paid for advertising. All information is correct at time of going to print, March 2016.









Providing the inside track on what drives leading businesses and business people, BQ offers a unique and refreshing mix of business news, commentary and profiles of the most inspirational entrepreneurs across the West Midlands, the North East & Cumbria, Yorkshire and Scotland. Published in four separate editions with content unique to each area, BQ aims to get to the heart and soul of business people to find out what drives, inspires and motivates them towards their ambitions. Each quarter BQ also brings its readership a wealth of regional business intelligence and information, whilst looking ahead to forthcoming events and reporting on recent developments that will have a significant impact on the business landscape.





4 issues - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (4 magazines)

2 x 4 issues - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (8 magazines)

3 x 4 issues - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (12 magazines)

4 x 4 issues - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (16 magazines)






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Spring 16 26


WORLD AT HIS FEET Interviewing Poshfloor’s Dominic Nowell-Barnes


Profile of a skateboard shop that’s on the crest of the community wave




Andy Wood discusses changes at Grant Thornton over a business lunch

KEYS TO SUCCESS Adam Cox has hit the right notes with his business


Steven Street believes in the importance of building relationships


Celebrating and inspir ing entrepreneurship




F A M I LY V A L U E S How his mother’s illness inspired Richard Paxman’s business


BUSINESS UPDATE An update on Yorkshire’s business people and their deals


OPPORTUNIT Y KNOCKS Jillian Thomas thinks Sheffield has everything to play for


AS I SEE IT Vodafone’s Phil Mottram gives advice on getting connected


HATCHED IN LEEDS Peer-to-peer film buff’s inspiration


COMMERCIAL PROPERT Y A round-up of Yorkshire’s latest deals


WHAT THE HECK Let’s Grow has backed a banger of a business


TAS TING T WO WINNERS David Lewis on wine


CHANGING LANDSCAPE Oakdale is investing for the future


F O R M U L A 1 F O R E V E R Y D AY Review of the McLaren 5705


TAKE IT FROM THE T OP Steven Street believes in the importance of building relationships


BIT OF A CHAT Stories behind some of the headlines


IN AT THE DEEP END Neil Armstrong combines community with commerce



Taking a German icon for a spin


WEBSITE OF THE QUARTER Even at BQ Yorkshire, we need to take a few minutes away from the screen to chill out. Go to bit. ly/bqyrelax, to create relaxing patterns that follow your mouse

BUSINESS UPDATE £30m for Yorkshire SMEs The Leeds office of Ultimate Finance has committed £30m over the next year to help Yorkshire SMEs who are being held back through lack of funding. The pledge follows a successful 12 months for the asset based lender, which opened an office in the city centre at the beginning of last year. Since then it has grown its Yorkshire team from five to ten and has recently doubled the size of its office. Group sales director Nick Smith said: “Through our six offices we are regularly introduced to successful businesses who are frustrated their growth is being hampered by cashflow constraints. “They want to take on new contracts and increase orders with their existing customers, but as they can wait 90 days or more for their invoices to be paid, they don’t have the cash available to do so. We are therefore seeing more SMEs using invoice finance as it enables them to have their invoices paid the next day.”

Metro plan for Leeds City Region West Yorkshire Combined Authority has commissioned a study on developing a Leeds City Region ‘Metro’.

An integrated and accessible ‘metro-style’ public transport is a key Combined Authority ambition. with heavy and light rail, tram-train and buses and the proposed NGT system for Leeds among the ideas being considered. Cllr Keith Wakefield, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee said: “Developing a metro-style system with integrated rail, light rail, bus, cycling and walking networks designed to meet local people’s needs, will underpin the economic growth and resulting job creation we are already seeing in the City Region. The consultants, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and Steer Davies Gleave are due to report on their

The Ultimate Finance team, Michael Beer, Richard Waldman, Emma Booth, Hollie France, Michelle Hoole, Adam Myers and Noel Haverly

initial findings this month, after which a more detailed study will start.

Fancy a wild corporate event? The award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is stepping up its conference packages to include VIP experiences, specialist menus and a new meeting space. Included in the packages is food by chef Dustin Hildebrand, who previously worked at Disney in Florida, using local produce in a range of menus including barbecues at Caramba Gardens, overlooking the South American vista and catering for up to 70 guests. Tsavo Lodge will accommodate up to 160 delegates when it opens in the summer.

Boost for region’s tourism A new online training programme designed to inspire and educate overseas travel agents and tour operators about Northern England’s tourism destinations has just been launched. By late summer, 13,000 travel agents in North America, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and China will be licensed to thrill, having completed their Agent North course, which features tourism businesses with commissionable products across York, Yorkshire, the North East, North West and Humberside. It is one of the main activities to be delivered through the Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF) and the online training kit is available at


QUOTE OF THE QUARTER “Sheffield itself is the economic driver for the city region. Its success leads to success for the whole of the Sheffield City Region, and indeed for Yorkshire and Humberside” Jillian Thomas. President of Sheffield Chamber


FACT OF THE QUARTER Leeds is the largest hub for finance and business outside London, with more than 26,000 VAT-registered businesses

Amy Stubbs from Cranswick and Graham Randle from the GMB with HETA trainees Abbie Goodrum (17) from Hessle and George Groves (18) from Hedon

Union backs trainee scheme One of the biggest employers in East Yorkshire and one of the UK’s leading trade unions have given their backing to a traineeship scheme which aims to help young people bridge the gap between school and apprenticeships. Cranswick Plc and the GMB union were joined by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in endorsing the scheme which has been developed by Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA). Kishor Tailor, the LEP’s Chief Executive, said the scheme gave all of the partners an opportunity to support businesses in the Humber region by improving employability and producing young people who are ready for work. He said: “We are in a global competition when we are trying to bid for new business in our patch so let’s work together and make it happen. One of our biggest challenges is about our image in the Humber, to get new employers and businesses here, create more jobs here and get people to come and live here. You talk to businesses who have grown up here and they were passionate about the place. They don’t want to go anywhere else. “But businesses tell us that skills and employability are big issues. If you can’t get people to turn up on time and show motivation they are not going to get the jobs. This collaboration between HETA and the GMB addresses that.” During the six-month course trainees spend one day a week with an employer and then complete a three-week work placement. Many secure apprenticeships with employers before the end of their programme.

“We are all in a global competition when we are trying to bid for new business in our patch so let’s work together and make it happen . One of our biggest challenges is about our image in the Humber”

NOT ENOUGH TIME, THINK AGAIN! I am sure you have all seen the cartoons of the farmer with square wheels on his waggon, who has no time to talk to the wheel salesman, or the medieval knight preparing his troops for battle, who cannot spare the time to discuss the new invention on offer, the machine gun. Whilst these are humorous and bring a smile to our faces, I am sure they also resonate with lots of you, so busy doing the day job, no time to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Often this big picture review highlights the need to change. This is commonly referred to as working on the business not in the business. So, nothing new here, we are all guilty of working in the business and not focusing enough of our time working on the business… we all know this, but do little about it, the most common excuse… I haven’t got the time. This is always an interesting answer, as the last time I checked, we all have the same amount of time, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year (I hope you all used your extra leap day wisely this year, it was a bonus, but how many of you just used it like any other day?) So knowing we all have the same time I ask you to think again… don’t just use time, invest time, get a return from it and seek advice on how to use more of it for a profitable return for your own business. For more information, visit www. or contact David Richmond on 01756 620000 or



TOP TWEETS Smoke swirls from shavings - kippers hang on jet black bars; deceased herring, cured Haiku poet @pauljudges My favourite animal is the Giant Anteater. There’s one at Yorkshire Wildlife Park and it’s MENTAL. @Rodimus_Prime

Chris McKie, director of network development of Vizion Network, with Tracey Taylor, operations manager (right) and Kelly Cawthorn, senior claims administrator

Just meeting the brilliant volunteers who have helped make today’s @UKLabour Yorkshire and Humber Conference possible @jeremycorbyn

Vizion now biggest in UK Hull-based Vizion Network Ltd has taken its workforce to more than 100 and expanded its operation on the way to becoming the UK’s biggest general motor repair management company. Vizion opened at The Deep Business Centre in Hull in January 2009 with the aim of providing quality repair solutions to corporate and individual car owners. Vizion started with Tracey Taylor, Vizion’s Operations Manager, who increased the team at The Deep gradually. But by May 2014 the company had built its workforce to around 30 and had expanded into 1,000 square feet. At the end of 2014 they moved into a 5,000-square foot suite as they embarked on further recruitment.

Age is merely a preconception. #Selfbelief is the real measure of ability @thejoecarnell - BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year for Yorkshire Van filling up nicely for this week’s delivery run to #northyorks + #westyorks, fresh batch braggs, dark alchemy, cat!!! @atombeers About to get on a plane at @DSA_Airport, to take me over Yorkshire and the new FARRRS link road. My job is wonderful at times! @jjjjemma Amazon / Morrisons online grocery tie-up smells of ‘last chance saloon’ for Yorkshire based retailer. @dhoar Leeds Bradford Airport rail line branded ‘unachievable’ - they would have found money for it in London. @waitey

For frequen t business chat at your fingertips on demand FOLLOW @BQLIV



Heron lands in former cinema A former cinema in Hull is to become a flagship store for a family firm which has created more than 3,000 jobs in building a chain of 240 discount food stores. Heron Foods is completing the conversion of the

Priory Cinema in Spring Bank West, Hull, and expects to open the doors of the 7,000 square foot property by early April. The company opened its first outlet in 1979 in Holderness Road, Hull, and is still owned by the same family, with Michael, David and Andrew Heuck buying the business when their father Malcolm retired in 2003. Estates director Jonathan Laverack said the expansion of the business was a natural progression. Milestones during the last 37 years have included reaching £1m turnover per week in 1998, acquiring the first 44-tonne articulated HGV in 2000 and opening a purpose-build distribution centre at Melton in 2009. The investment will create three full-time jobs and seven part-time positions. Of its 3,000-plus workforce, Heron Foods employs more than 700 in the Hull area across its stores and distribution centre.


Co-Educational Boarding School in Cumbria



Yorkshire farmers urged to attend protect and grow advice seminars Land and property consultancy George F. White is hosting a range of advice seminars across North Yorkshire that are aimed to provide guidance and support to the region’s rural community. In partnership with McClarrons Insurance, the seminars are designed to help farmers and rural businesses understand how they can protect and grow their business. Key issues discussed will include important funding and subsidy updates, litigation risks and growth and diversification opportunities. The guest speaker is leading corporate defence lawyer Gary Gallen. His talk will focus on the key regulatory and criminal risks farmers face, examples Tom Mason, Partner of common claims against rural businesses and the protection at George F. White available. Tom Mason, Partner at George F. White, said: “The seminars will be extremely useful to farmers and landowners who can find out more about rural grants, receive an update on the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and learn how they can diversify their business to positively impact profit margins through Combined Heat and Power. There’s also a specific focus on insurance issues, the vital role this plays in business operation and what farmers need to know and why. We are looking forward to welcoming Yorkshire’s rural community and answering any questions or queries they may have.” The seminars will take place at 6.30pm at the following venues on the specified dates: 31st March Golden Lion Hotel, Northallerton DL7 8PP; 6th April Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn DL8 5SG; 7th April Tickton Grange Hotel, Beverley HU17 9SH; 11th April The Feathers Hotel, Helmsley YO62 5BH; 12th April Malton & Norton Golf Club, Malton YO17 9QE; 13th April Coniston Hotel, Skipton BD23 4EA; 14th April Mid Yorkshire Golf Club, Pontefract WF8 3BP For more information about the seminars or to book a place, please contact David Wilson on or 01665 600168.

Neil Woodhead of T&P and Damian Slingsby of Reward

Back in the family A Bradford-based printing establishment is back in family control after the founder’s son stepped in to save it. Neil Woodhead, who joined the then Bakes and Lord at the age of 16, has retaken charge at the printing company which is now operating under the name T&P Print. Bakes and Lord was acquired by Neil’s parents, Brian and Sally Woodhead, in 1984. They had previously been employees, and ran the company profitably until September 2014 when they sold the whole issued share capital to an outside investor. But business took a turn for the worse and in late December 2015, Neil acquired the vital printing equipment from a finance company. Damian Slingsby, business development director at Reward Finance Group, arranged the necessary funding within one week, affording Neil the ability to re-establish this once thriving business, which now employs ten people creating products including brochures, catalogues and magazines.

INVEST IN TIME So the real answer is not enough time, it is not using the available time to its best effect. To try and combat this we introduced our Blue strategic advisory service which takes the owners and key decision makers out of their day to day environment. We work with the business and assist them with how to look at their business from different viewpoints. There is no magic to this process, no complicated formula or workings, it is all about investing time to work on your business, identifying the goals, what the obstacles and hurdles are which are preventing these goals from being achieved, and then addressing them in a systematic, logical, structured and disciplined way. Our experiences to date have highlighted the benefit to business owners investing time in working on their business more. Recent results of which have enabled a business to achieve a 40% margin when they had targeted and hoped for 33%. Another identified an internal team who had capacity to invest time in looking at ways to save money by recycling previously classed waste product. Others have used their time to take a step back and look at their team’s effectiveness and make sure they have the right people in the right roles. All examples of business owners set to task on investing time more effectively and achieving results which have enabled them to have a more productive and profitable future.Talk to us about our Blue advisory team and how we can help you invest your time more productively in your business as well as on it.

For more information, visit www. or contact David Richmond on 01756 620000 or



Phil Mottram, Enterprise Director of Vodafone UK, looks at the entrepreneurial boom in Leeds With more than 24,000 VAT registered businesses in Leeds alone plus a thriving SME community, the city and the wider Yorkshire region have become a major centre for economic growth. The area continues to foster a strong entrepreneurial culture and attract investment from large corporates. However the region’s small business community remains at risk with just nearly half of UK businesses surviving past five years. It is of paramount importance that SMEs get the support they need to overcome any obstacles and extend their lifespan. One such obstacle is the lack of digital skills which are holding small businesses back from reaching more customers, recruiting the right talent and growing their business. Vodafone UK has focussed on Leeds to help small businesses become ‘Ready Businesses’ - able to plan and adapt for change. In today’s fast moving market where the pace of digital disruption has left 50% of British businesses and public sector organisations fearful or worried that their organisations will not be able to keep-up, being ready for change is crucial to a business’ future success. Two factors which really stood out for us when choosing to focus on Leeds for our digital skills workshops trial and for our ongoing support of businesses in the city were the strength of the city’s business economy and our fixed and mobile network in the region. Leeds is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities and is the largest hub for finance and

business outside London. More than 26,000 VAT-registered businesses are based here and the number of mid- to largesize companies is significantly above the national average. And, from our point of view at Vodafone, Leeds is a geography where we have great capability: we have mobile coverage across 2G, 3G and 4G as well as a fibre-in-the-ground presence. Larger organisations can also play an important role in delivering the support and guidance that small businesses need. We’ve learned this first hand through the digital skills workshops, by speaking with SMEs at Leeds Business Week last year and ongoing community engagement. This knowledge, in combination with the resources and scale we hold as a larger business and the tremendous value we see in providing face-to-face support, has helped shape our new, regionalised approach to supporting small business across the UK. By becoming a part of businesses’ local communities we have a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are unique to a specific area which, in turn, helps us to have a better relationship with our business customers. SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy,

representing 99% of UK companies with annual turnover of £1.6 trillion according to the ONS’ latest figures. So they are vital to the growth of any region. Leeds’ economy is forecast to grow by 25% over the next ten years with financial and business services set to generate over half that growth over that period. It’s also been named as one of the UK’s foremost centres for fast business growth, based on new data that says companies which have achieved three years of 20% growth in revenues or employees. At Vodafone we want to help foster and sustain that growth by using our technology and expertise to ensure businesses are able to increase their competitiveness. There are some little but impactful investments in technology which can help Yorkshire’s small businesses be successful and be able to readily plan and adapt for change, sustaining growth past 2016. HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE Almost a quarter of SMEs in the UK do not have an online presence at all,

Adapt for change


meaning they are potentially missing out on sales opportunities and the chance to be more competitive. The internet has created a level playing field for smaller businesses to compete with larger enterprises for instance through online searches where SMEs appear alongside their larger counterparts – providing an equal opportunity to acquire customers. The notion that you have to be fluent in code to set up a website is outdated: it’s easy to do and can cost very little. A wide range of affordable tools and free guides can be found online and with a quick Google search, a business owner can find the piece of code needed to modify the website so as to better attract potential customers. With a majority of web traffic coming from consumers accessing the internet while on the move and via their mobile device, it’s important the business’ website content and format is optimised for tablets and smartphones, not just desktops. By doing this, a website is more user-friendly and attractive for customers viewing it. A recent study into mobile technology has shown that of those SMEs using mobile services most intensively, a quarter have seen revenues grow up to twice as fast as their peers and jobs created at up to eight times faster. EMBRACE SOCIAL Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the gateway to reaching and connecting with target audiences. For instance, setting-up a pay-per-click marketing campaign

on Facebook which takes less than 15 minutes and provides you helpful analytics on your target audience and how they’re engaging with your brand. Free online tools also make managing social media channels, including responding to customer enquiries, quicker and easier. Having a social presence will help to build your brand’s reputation and give you direct insights into how your customer reacts and behaves ultimately helping to drive revenue. LEARN TO LISTEN Social media channels are not just about pushing the company’s messages out or plugging products. The real value of these channels is the ability for businesses to listen and engage with customers’ conversations about the product or service they received and help with any enquiries. Social media is also a great tool for SMEs to increase their awareness online, potentially introducing new business opportunities. Identify your target audience and check out their social profiles to find out more about them, what their priorities are from a business point of view and how you might be able to offer support. It is also good practice to retweet or share their posts or comment on their blog posts. In turn, they’ll start to notice you, helping to build trust and – eventually – to secure that all-important meeting or sale. EMPOWER COLLABORATION As well as improving customer service and


“The prospect of keepingup with technology to stay competitive and meet customers’ expectations around service delivery and responsiveness can seem daunting for SMEs” helping to reach more customers, mobile and digital technologies enable more connected workforces. With a mobile device, secure network, messaging apps, access to information, and cloud based collaboration and project management tools, employees can work productively and together anytime, anywhere. Software such as Asana helps colleagues to keep projects up to date in one central location, listing out latest tasks and tracking progress through updates that are visible to everyone with access. Slack, an instant messaging system, is another useful tool that helps to streamline internal communications. The prospect of keeping-up with technology to stay competitive and meet customers’ expectations around service delivery and responsiveness can seem daunting for SMEs. Ubiquitous connectivity and digital technology tools creates huge opportunities for small businesses to increase their visibility online, reach more customers, recruit today’s tech savvy millennials and ultimately drive more business. n

and get connected





Sometimes it can be our family that helps bring out the entrepreneur in us – as Richard Paxman tells Mike Hughes

Family united in battle against pain of cancer

Cancer is such a cruel disease. Its seemingly arbitrary hunt for victims causes devastation and the pain it leaves behind can last a lifetime. You can still see the pain – and anger – in Richard Paxman’s eyes when he talks about losing his mum and the effect it had then and still has now. This is a personal war – and he seems to be winning. Paxman Scalp Cooling on Penistone Road in Huddersfield makes fitted skull caps that cool the scalp, helping prevent chemotherapyinduced alopecia – hair loss that is often the most unwanted sign that someone is in the grip of cancer. The scalp temperature is reduced to about 18C, which reduces the amount of blood flow and therefore chemotherapy that gets to the hair follicles – a huge step forward from the tourniquets and ice packs being used a few decades ago. “In the early 1990s my mum as a young woman in her early thirties was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer which was spreading to her lymph nodes,” Richard tells me in the modern offices the company shares with the family’s other business Brewfitt which makes drink dispensing systems. “She had beautiful curly hair, so was very interested when someone suggested she tried

scalp cooling during her treatment. But a few weeks into the treatment her hair began to fall out. She had four young kids at that stage and while we knew she was ill, she looked alright. “As soon as she lost her hair she started to look unwell. It was a flag to everyone, including her own children. My dad Glen saw the devastation it caused and started to look at the device. Our family background is in refrigeration, so we knew how to make liquids cold and have done for 50 years. “So, with his engineering background, he started developing a prototype with his brother Neil, who was the refrigeration expert. “The first one came out in 1997, but there was some naivety on our part with the move from our industry into the medical industry – there are a lot more rigorous tests and every year it gets more and more difficult. “But we did it and Huddersfield University agreed to try the machine and the interest grew.” But the initial uptake was not as impressive as the family had hoped for. The lack of enough clinical data delayed any adoption by the NHS and there was a lot of negativity based on how poorly the previous devices had performed. But there were also fears that stopping chemotherapy getting to the hair follicles

“As soon as she lost her hair she started to look unwell. It was a flag to everyone, including her own children”



“But the family was on a very personal mission to make sure that this treatment was given every chance to change patients’ lives and was so much more than just a vanity issue” could mean increasing the risk that it might not get to the parts of the body where it was needed. But the family – six of them work in the business - was on a very personal mission to make sure that this treatment was given every chance to change patients’ lives and was so much more than just a vanity issue. That personal passion was tested in the cruellest way when, despite being cancer free for five years, Sue Paxman died when the disease returned in her bones. “It is still raw, and shows why this means so much more than just selling a medical device. It is her legacy,” says Richard. “There is a belief in the product instilled in all 20 staff that took us past our personal issues and helped us realise we could make a difference to other patients. “Health care has progressed since those days and in the last five or ten years there has been a big shift in the strategy for treating cancer patients, taking it further than just curing or killing the cancer into a more holistic and integrated approach.” Richard has been embedded in the business since 2009. After studying management science at Manchester he didn’t plan on entering the family business. Travelling was more on his mind, but that needed paying for, so Penistone Road seemed a logical short-term solution. But the money was slow in building and by then there was progress into a managerial role at the company and when an uncle moved to another job, Richard made his move for a senior role within the scalp-cooling business. “I believe I would always have done something innovative, inside or outside the family businesses,” he says. “I know I have had amazing opportunities after being given a job and making the most of it. “Of course it helps being Glen’s lad, but we have a Swedish board now after a VC investment in 2000, and I still had to go to


them and tell them this is what I wanted. “I think they would agree that they gave it to me because I could do the job. I had a real appetite for making something different and big.” That decision has been vindicated many times over, with exports now making up 60 per cent of the business, which has a £2million turnover and is in 85 per cent of NHS hospitals and is regarded as the market leader worldwide. There are around 2,500 Paxman units in use by adults around the world, working through 30 distributors. One of the fastest-growing parts of the business – from zero to £250,000 in less than three years - is Paxman Home Healthcare which has teamed up with Healthcare at Home and Bupa Home healthcare to offer the cooling system in patients’ own houses. “One of the biggest turning points for Paxman was a huge amount of support from a Dutch research group which provided a lot of the crucial clinical data we needed. Also, there is


“They all understand the benefit psychologically of keeping your hair, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this has a positive impact on your chances of fighting the disease” a Southern-based breast cancer charity called Walk the Walk, which supports hospitals purchasing scalp-cooling equipment. “They all understand the benefit psychologically of keeping your hair, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this has a positive impact on your chances of fighting the disease. “As the business has grown and become more profitable, we have been able to invest and reinvest in our R&D work, from product development which improves the machine and the cap to some wonderful programmes with Huddersfield University looking at the mechanism and biology of scalp-cooling. “We understand that vasoconstriction - the narrowing of the blood vessels - plays an important role in how scalp-cooling works, and

that cooling slows down the metabolic rate, but there are a lot of other factors that cooling could have an effect on, so we need to get to the bottom of the science.” The spread of the business is remarkable - from an impassioned need to help a mother regain her dignity to a determination to see the work through and now to cell-by-cell research that may yet rewrite the medical textbooks. When BQ Yorkshire recently talked to Prof John Fisher at the University of Leeds, he enthusiastically backed the personalisation of medicine. Not just off-the-shelf tablets and devices, but dna-specific treatments. This will also be a big part of the future for Paxman. The simple starting point is that we all have differently-shaped heads. So each cap



could be made as a millimetre-perfect fit for each patient ensuring perfect delivery. “This is key to any medicine at the moment,” agrees Richard. “We have invested a lot of money into our newest cap, which moulds very well to the head but is still not perfectly personalised. “We have a multi-disciplinary working group looking at it now and I can see it being a big contributor to the business as it improves the efficacy. And we have just submitted a research proposal to the National Institute for Health Research to look at a large population in the UK to understand more about the individual epidemiology of patients and see what links there are.” Acceptance and growth in Japan and America are next of Richard’s list of targets, which means taking on the most demanding healthy regulations in the world. “It has been very keenly embraced by the people I have been working with there, but both have the strictest approval processes. We are investing more than £2m into the US market and have already spent a lot there, which is big commitment, but it could be amazing. “We have set up an ongoing clinical study at six sites in the US to ensure we get clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. We are on track and set for a third quarter clearance which will transform the business and help us roll out more products in the first two years than we have done in 15 years here, with revenues in excess of £10m. “But the most satisfying thing is that I am getting to do all this with my family. I am getting to travel and work with some of the key business people in the world, but as a representative of the family, which is a much more fulfilling role. “There is my dad Glen, older brother Curtis, older sister Claire, me and my twin brother James all working where our key skills are. We are not all the boss, but all respect one another. “We all sit on the board of Brewfitt, and then dad and I sit on the board of Paxman where we work with Claire.” The other name on that family rollcall is, of course, mum Sue - the inspiration in so many ways for what Richard is creating. One side of that inspiration the family will wish had never happened, but how proud she will be to see how her son and his dad and siblings are taking the lessons they learned from her around the world. n

“But the most satisfying thing is that I am getting to do all this with my family. I am getting to travel and work with some of the key business people in the world, but as a representative of the family, which is a much more fulfilling role”

PROFILE York St John Business School


Coaching and Mentoring: The way to business success Recently appointed Ambassador for Mentoring by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, Professor Bob Garvey of York St John Business School explains the merits of coaching and mentoring in the workplace A company director was heard to say recently: “All this talk of coaching and mentoring sounds rather airy fairy to me and I not having it in my business.” The truth is, they’re likely to be in the business whether he likes it or not! The reason is simple, coaching and mentoring works and this article shows how and why. Mentoring has been around as an education and development process since the eighteenth century. It has long been associated with leadership development and in particular it is based on a very straight forward idea that if people don’t pass on knowledge and learn from experience the human race can’t progress! Coaching has been around since the nineteenth century and has been associated with rapid performance enhancement. Taken together, they are a powerful blend of developmental activity. Many organisations know this already and that’s why they are so widely adopted. Whether they are small, medium or large, public, private or not-for-profit, businesses know that both coaching and mentoring work for them and work for their employees. For example, the Penna survey of 2015 shows that 70% of Fortune 500 companies in the US have mentoring programmes and in 2015 Youth Business International supported nearly 19,000 young people to start businesses in 40 countries through mentoring. In coaching, the Bresser survey of 2009 showed that there is coaching in businesses right across the globe and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey of 2015 showed that 75% of all organisations surveyed employed forms of coaching and mentoring as central planks to their learning and development strategies with a further 13% stating that they were looking to introduce coaching and mentoring in 2016. The International Coach Federation (ICF)

“Studies on both coaching and mentoring in many sectors show impressive results”

talent management and succession planning. Both are skilled activities.

Professor Bob Garvey, Head of Research survey in 2015 showed that coaching is found in the Health, Pharma and Science sectors; IT and Social Media businesses; Manufacturing, Engineering and Defence organisations; Retail, Public Sector and Non-Profit companies; Consulting, Financial Services and Transport and in six different geographic locations on the globe. A recent analysis of nearly 2m publications worldwide on coaching and mentoring showed that over 1.3m articles linked coaching and mentoring to performance improvement and 1.2m linked them to enhanced and accelerated learning and development. SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM? Coaching and mentoring share similar skills and processes. Both involve listening and questioning, challenge and support. Coaching tends to be shorter term and more performance oriented whereas mentoring is longer term and developmental. Both can be either directive or non-directive depending on the approach taken and both have a future orientation – they help people look forward not back. Both are linked to leadership development,

HOW DO THEY WORK? Focussed conversations turn into action, action translates into performance impact and performance impact can be maximised and quantified. Coaching and mentoring help support and create individualised performance and development plans and provide ongoing dialogue and support for the implementation and review of the plan. Both coaching and mentoring are essential management skills in any modern organisation and they encourage understanding and mutual respect. Studies on both coaching and mentoring in many sectors show impressive results. For example, substantial return on investment of 200 - 300%; productivity and quality improvements of 30 - 45%; 25 - 40% improvement in customer satisfaction; 20 -30% reductions in complaints; 20 - 35% improvement in staff retention and 10 - 25% improvements in cost reduction; 5 -10% increases in top line income generation; substantial improvements (70%) in a network of stakeholder relationships and reductions in conflict; increases in commitment, job satisfaction and teamwork. So ‘airy fairy’ or not, coaching and mentoring are very widely adopted and appear to generate excellent results on tangible and intangible measures alike.

Professor Bob Garvey, Head of Research 01904 876487 @YSJBusiness



Chairman of the boards


A big part of the definition of a local business should be that it is part of the community. Its awareness of location should go way beyond what the sat nav says and should dig deep to find out about the people it works with and the service it provides. Tom Brown gets that. After working in social services making sure young people didn’t get lost in the system, he knows that his skateboard shop in Thorntons Arcade in Leeds city centre is also a meeting place and a chillout zone. “For about ten years I worked with a charity based in Wakefield which worked in youth support all over West Yorkshire,” he told me. “I also worked with a government body called Connexions, which involved lots of one-to-one and family support. There were some amazing projects and I met the amazing co-workers and kids who were connected to them. “We worked from Garforth to Bradford to Hebden Bridge – all over the region. But then in 2011/12 the Government cuts started kicking in and the organisation I was working for went from 45 staff down to three in about 18 months and there were various waves of redundancy which I managed to avoid. “I started Welcome while I was working there because it was a passion I had always had. We got in a couple of skateboarding lads with a bit of retail experience and got them to run the place. “The rule of a city is that it only really needs one ‘core’ skateboard shop to offer a lot more than just being a commercial outlet. There had been some really good ones in Leeds, but eventually they almost put each other out of business. “So there was a gap, but my mates Sam Barratt, Ashley Kollakowski and I always presumed someone else would step in. But after about 18 months of no one coming forward, we had another conversation with a local entrepreneur with good contacts and a foot in the door with student nightlife because he part-owned a couple of bars.” The breakthrough came when a record-shop

owner offered the use of a basement. Within six weeks the shop was open and those early contacts started to make the difference. “We looked at the other skate shops that had been in the city and thought we knew where they had gone wrong. One had the shop right, but I think we had more business sense. Another one had diversified too much away from pure skateboarding and the third was part of a big chain which started focussing on its website. “I’m pretty good at keeping track of things, so I thought I could handle that side of the

Mike Hughes meets Tom Brown, who offers a warm Welcome to his customers at his Leeds skateboard shop


business. Also, I did a lot of skateboarding and had good contacts through sponsorship, and Sam worked for the skateboarding division at Nike. “We had confidence and felt we could make a go of it, but we couldn’t afford to lose any money, so we put a very small amount in just in case it collapsed after a few months.” We are all pupils in Tom Brown’s entrepreneurial schooldays here. Already have a passion for – or at least a deep empathy with – your chosen sector, and don’t throw everything you have at it from the first day. It will be your dream business but not everyone will get the idea and there is competition around every corner, particularly if you are working in a popular area rather than with a breakthrough product. Take a deep breath, look around... and then go for it. “I think it is important to work out how small you can start, and at the same time think of



what you can do to make an impact. We started with a very small amount of stock, but were always getting our name out there among local skateboarders, even if that was just giving away a T-shirt every month. “We offered the shop up as a local hub, got Josh Hallett working on our social media accounts (there are now more than 1,200 followers on Twitter and 1,600 likes on Facebook) and made sure we had staff who knew the scene inside out. “I had been skating since I was a kid and I was 32 when I opened the shop so I had been extremely passionate about it for about 20 years,” said Tom, now 39. “Whichever city I was in I would know where the skate shop was. Not always to buy something but to meet people in a new city and

find out about the local scene. “I had entered a few competitions, and knew back then that the whole industry was built on magazines, photos and videos. So we would be taken on tours – five or ten of us with a driver and a cameraman - and do demos at skateparks. “It dominated my life, so I had videos and interviews out there which ticked the boxes for sponsors. It was done for the passion, not for the paycheck.” The shop has been open for five years and even in that short time the industry has changed and Tom has had to be on his toes to keep pace and stay relevant to a very selective audience. His success at that meant expansion was soon on the cards. “It’s been a challenge, but we grew and after two years under the record shop we realised

that we could push on and get a unit of our own. We wanted to be in the Thorntons Arcade because it has a history of great independent shops, so I took voluntary redundancy just as we had our second kid, and set up the new shop so I could have enough time to look after our new daughter (the family is wife Emily, son Theo, aged six and three-year-old daughter Rose). “It was a bit scary at times, but it is true when people say that sometimes redundancy has a silver lining and I am so much happier, stressfree and can really concentrate on the shop. “For the future, it is a fine line growing the core shop in a city. You have to be able to sustain yourself while at the same time realising that your customers don’t like to see stores ‘selling out’ and turning from a core shop into a chain store. “I think we will remain as one physical store which can really do something for the skateboard community and keep its identity, and also push the online side of the operation. “But part of that core shop will always be working with kids. The store is set up with the footwear and the clothing downstairs, so people who might just be passing will see a nice pair of trainers and call in and they will get great customer service. “Then on the first floor there is a TV playing DVDs and a seating area for kids to hang out. Me and the staff know all the local kids from when they are 12 and 13 getting into skating. They don’t go to the same schools because their social backgrounds might be entirely different, but this common interest bonds them together.” Leeds has mastered the art of developing into centre which can provide bases for global financial institutions alongside aspirational new businesses and a backdrop of great education, restaurants and bars – which makes it the perfect site for a hip business like Welcome. “There is a huge student population which is great for us, and so much happening with

“It was a bit scary at times, but it is true when people say that sometimes redundancy has a silver lining and I am so much happier, stress-free and can really concentrate on the shop”

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nightlife, music and clothes shops. I think everyone is encouraging each other, without any harsh competitiveness. We are all so happy that there are passionate independents moving in. “Because of that I used to be sceptical about what business support organisations could offer, but the Gazelles have just been able to link us up at a session with John Graham, the founder of Go Outdoors. The fact that someone like that would have time for us is amazing, so it is a serious opportunity for us to have time with him and fire some questions at him.” Despite the workload and the obvious buzz Tom, gets out of the Welcome shop, it is still a device he can use to see more of his family. Like many entrepreneurs who have their heads screwed on the right way, the hard work and commitment is to provide a future. It’s a great fantasy to shut yourself away in the lab/shed/office and emerge blinking into the spotlight a few months later. But if there are children to be read to and taken to school, and a partner to listen to and bills to be paid, then you can’t shut the door. It often has to be Peppa before profits. “Emily’s support has been hugely important,” Tom readily admits. “She is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett and if it was only going to be my income that supports the

“It’s a great fantasy to shut yourself away in the lab/shed/office and emerge blinking into the spotlight a few months later. But if there are children to be read to and taken to school, and a partner to listen to and bills to be paid, then you can’t shut the door” family I would have been looking for other work. But to have that safety net and someone to share the responsibility with has been amazing. “I do as much childcare as she does and am pretty adaptable to that, which is important for the kids. It is a partnership. Emily travels a lot with her work, so I will take myself out of the shop and let Martyn (Hill), Sam (Charlesworth) and Dave (Tyson) run the place while I keep an eye on things from my laptop. “They are fantastic – they know the industry and they know the shop. They are all different personalities, but they are one of the major assets of the place.” As well as his human assets, Tom has to stay in top of the physical stock he has in the shop. The smaller independent core brands are selling well, like Dime from Montreal which started small and has grown with a strong social media following (2,000+ on Twitter) They carefully control their audience by choosing

only a set number of UK outlets. Welcome sells itself to Dime and Dime sells itself to Welcome and a deal is done and the market for each grows by just the right amount. “We have a mutual respect and that is kind of how the whole thing works,” says Tom. “There are also the more commercial brands like Adidas (2.5m+ on Twitter) and Nike (5.7m+ on Twitter), who also like to restrict the availability of their skateboard ranges to proper stores. So the whole industry is driven by exclusivity and now about 95% of the stuff we stock won’t be available at any other shop in Leeds.” That exclusivity is testament to the reputation Tom and his team have built up in such a short time. He leads a firm in a cutting edge, radical and vibrant sector, but that hasn’t stopped him being a businessman. The wardrobe of any good entrepreneur will always need a shirt and tie and a suit next to the T-shirt and trainers. There might only be one suit among 25 T-shirts, but you need to keep it in good nick just in case. n

PROFILE Doncaster Racecourse


Doncaster Racecourse gears up for music live bonanza Doncaster Racecourse is one of the UK’s most recognised sporting venues and has been staging top-class horseracing events since the 1700s. It is also well-renowned for hosting an exciting array of live music events and last year attracted a wave of top bands including ska legends Madness, 1980s new wave band Spandau Ballet and synth-pop group The Human League. Their stunning performances were part of the Town Moor venue’s annual Music Live bonanza, which is set to continue in 2016 with another sizzling summer series of events. Former Pop Idol winner Will Young will be the first act to perform at Music Live this year, wowing crowds on Saturday May 14 following the Visit Bawtry Raceday. The following month, on Saturday June 4, successful 80s band Level 42 will entertain racegoers after Ladbrokes Derby Day – one of the most prestigious events on the UK racing calendar – while iconic Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones will wow music lovers on Saturday June 25 after another evening of top-class racing.

“We have received some really positive feedback from companies that have attended our Music Live events in previous years.” For the second year running, household name Vernon Kay will perform a live DJ set for crowds at the racecourse following the Unison raceday on Saturday July 30. That will be followed by a performance by soul legends Simply Red, led by charismatic artist Mick Hucknall, who will rock into Doncaster on Saturday August 13. These showpiece events offer corporate guests a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a scintillating mix of music and racing while networking with clients in a relaxed, informal environment. As well providing the ideal forum to entertain clients, Music Live is a fantastic opportunity for companies to reward staff for their hard work throughout the year. Guests can reserve their own private box and balcony which offers stunning views of the racing and the live concert. There is literally no better seat in the house

Corporate customers are entertained by Spandau Ballet at Doncaster Racecourse’s Music Live 2015

and it is great value too, with a private box package priced from as little as £119.50 + VAT per person. Corporate customers can also entertain their guests at Music Live by taking them to one of Doncaster Racecourse’s fabulous restaurants, which offer the ultimate fine dining experience with top-class service in a relaxed environment. The Mallard Restaurant boasts a dedicated viewing platform on the third floor and offers panoramic views of the racecourse and music stage. Alternatively, situated on the second floor of the Lazarus Stand is the impressive glass-fronted Conduit Restaurant, which offers an intimate dining experience in stylish and relaxed surroundings, with stunning views of the racecourse and stage. The corporate package for both of these restaurants is priced from £99 per person. Also open on Music Live nights is the Hallam FM Champagne Pavilion Restaurant, which is located within the elegant and spacious marquee on the Hallam FM Champagne Lawn and surrounded by beautiful scenery. A corporate package includes a marquee admission ticket, a taste-bud-tempting three-course menu, a Totepool betting facility and a reserved table for the day. It is the ideal environment for networking and entertaining business clients with the added bonus of a top-class DJ or band to follow. For just £128 + VAT, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Kieran Gallagher, executive director at Doncaster Racecourse, said: “This year Music Live will feature top headline music acts and performances by popular DJs following an exciting day of racing. Companies that choose to join us for one of these spectacular events will be impressed by our warm and friendly Yorkshire welcome, our stunning facilities and fantastic array of music and racing entertainment. “Our ultimate aim is to create a memorable experience for our corporate clients, their guests and their staff. We have received some really positive feedback from companies that have attended our Music Live events in previous years and we feel that this year’s offer is even better value for money. “I’d encourage businesses to get in touch to find out how we can help them benefit from Music Live this year.”

For more information about Music Live and corporate hospitality at Doncaster Racecourse, visit or call the venue on 01302 304200.



Posh boss has got the world at his feet


The drive to be an entrepreneur started at school for Dominic Nowell-Barnes, founder of PoshFlooring School got in the way for Dominic NowellBarnes. But Leeds-born Dominic was distracted by T-shirts. And then floors. “I went to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield, where a lot of the kids were quite wealthy,” says Dominic. “I didn’t have that same upbringing, so I got quite good very quickly at selling stuff on eBay. That’s where I picked up my basic online selling techniques, buying T-shirts from branded companies and selling them on for a small profit. “For the first few years after that it was still predominantly eBay, building a background in ecommerce.” So the EX Factor (let’s call it Entrepreneurial Excellence) was in there from the beginning. “People succeed either with inspiration or desperation. For me it was the desperation of not wanting to have a life where I did not have money. I knew how to buy or sell things from 12 or 13 years old. It was ingrained in me as a way of making money when it just wasn’t there otherwise and was a lot to do with the environment you grow up in as a child.” That environment includes higher education as well as secondary school. University was something that Dominic had always wanted to do – with offers from four out of the five he had applied to. “Like any young person, I really wanted a social scene and to go out and meet people and see an area I didn’t know. But the big thing for me was that I was almost told by my family that they couldn’t afford the fees and they made it very real for me about the amount of debt I would be getting into.

“People succeed either with inspiration or desperation. For me it was the desperation of not wanting to have a life where I did not have money”




“I also knew that it could take me ten years after I had come out of university to match the money I was making, so it was a bit of a no-brainer financially�


“So with the eBay work going well I took a gap year and made about £20,000, just as a wheelerdealer working through my stock. I could then have gone on and spent three years studying but I had seen what I could do and knew I would still be able to see my friends who had gone to university. “I also knew that it could take me ten years after I had come out of university to match the money I was making, so it was a bit of a no-brainer financially. “Practical experience is so important. After all the economics and business I had studied at A-level, I understood what to write down on a piece of paper, but didn’t know how to apply it to a reallife situation. It only started to make sense when I took the year out.” But 25-year-old Dominic would be the first to admit that sometimes business needs an unexpected bonus to set it off in the right direction. Sometimes that is a job offer or a gap

opening up in a particular market. For Dom, it was a family friend who was going bankrupt and suddenly had some flooring in stock that needed to be moved on. “My family has an interest in interior design and I had been brought up with that in the background, so it all built up over time. I agree 100% that entrepreneurs will always have it in them to develop a business in whatever line.” The money driver meant costs had to be as low as possible. So no website, no shopfront, just online trading to get his name out and about. This was only seven years ago, but customers were still wary of buying over the web without being able to touch the goods and look the trader in the eye. The flipside of that argument is that as online fraud has grown, people are now becoming wary again - hence the need for Poshflooring to have a reassuring shop in Regent Street, Leeds. “I just thought I would give it a go. I had been


selling the T-shirts and that was going well, but I had no idea how the flooring would be received. All I could see was that there were quite a few people working on the net, so I started when I was about 17 and soon got that call from my first customer who wanted 70metres of flooring. “It was bankrupt stock for below market value, so I went from about £150 a week selling T-shirts for £10 to this person placing one order that would give me about £400 profit. That was my Eureka moment where I realised this was the industry to be in. “It’s a little bit of luck and a huge price advantage because I had no team to pay and the only overhead was eBay - but I think you can still tell when someone has that entrepreneurial streak.” Dominic’s total self-belief that something would definitely happen at some stage had paid off at a very early stage – but the learning curve had only just begun.

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“It was incredibly hard growing the business from that start,” he admits. “I made a lot of mistakes early on – and I would certainly tell any new business that one of my biggest was to recruit from family and friends. It is such a natural progression when you are not confident about the business world to follow your instinct and pitch it within your own circle of family and friends. “Your family are your blood and if something goes wrong it is just too much of a risk and makes much make sense to have people who are only there because they are employed by you. “I realise now that when you are recruiting – particularly around and above the £30k mark – it is so much easier to use a good quality recruitment firm to save you all the time and hassle”. But Dominic’s advice is to stop there. Don’t take the family and friends ‘team’ too deeply into your business until there is a level of success that will confidently support them. It might work out well, but it is an extra burden you may not need in the first year – even if you have his confidence. “I was fearless at the time and was even trying to sell to high street flooring shops as well. But they just laughed at me because I was a 17-yearold walking into their shops to talk business. There was no chance they would trust me, but there are no preconceptions on the internet of who you are, which was a huge advantage.” If the business was to grow it needed some money, and the early deals paid off as it earned Poshflooring a £25,000 unsecured loan paid to small businesses which have evidence of a period of successful trading. With the help of Business Link, a business plan was also submitted and the loan approved. Dominic has an interesting piece of advice for entrepreneurs about financing. From his own experience he says ditch the outside investor and bring in a bookkeeper. “It is better to grow organically and still own 100% rather than lose a big chunk to somebody who is just putting a bit of money in for the first couple of years. It then took me five years to realise the importance of having an in-house bookkeeper and finance manager. “It is easy when you start a business to simply get an outside accountant and give them all the paperwork to sort out. But then you are not really keeping an eye on how the finances are being run, and the value of having someone

“I was fearless at the time and was even trying to sell to high street flooring shops as well. But they just laughed at me because I was a 17-year-old walking into their shops to talk business” in-house is that they will look after all that and keep it in order. “I would now bring someone on board soon as possible, which also helps with approaches to banks for more funding.” The company now has three years of full trading under its belt, which allows it to move to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme and qualify for £450,000 of loans. That means that the Poshflooring goal of becoming the leading wood and laminate flooring company can be accelerated from a ten-year plan to a three-year one. The money will be invested in industry-leading SEO and PPC technology and will also allow Dominic to invest in his own line of products from China. He now has 12 staff in a business that turns over around £5m a year, and his own character and aspirations have changed just as rapidly. “I am a boss now, still entrepreneurial but now with a senior management team because in order for us to achieve our goals, we need people with the right levels of experience in the corporate environment. “We are now in a position to develop an 80:20 culture, where any member of staff can ask to spend a fifth of their working time in another part of the company. I would say we employ one

or two staff more than we need to give the team the slack to make this happen. “We have five sales executives and I am aware that if you just sit at your desk day in and day out it is difficult to stay highly motivated and you might be tempted by a better job offer and leave. To keep hold of our staff and help them enjoy their work we let them work on another project or learn another skill.” The progress of this 25-year-old from the unchallenged confidence of a schoolboy to an employer who is shaking up his sector is nothing less than impressive. He has the support of his management team and has a mentor – former Phones 4U COO Nick Fisher - but the drive is pure Dom. “It is often said that to be an entrepreneur you have to work 20 hours a day seven days a week – but I don’t agree. I bought into that myself at the start, but I now know it paints a bad image. I became obsessed by the idea of business, but I sometimes regret that now. “You certainly have to work hard, but I think you can do it cleverly.” Clever defines someone intelligent who is quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas. Nailed it. n



West Yorkshire stairlift company reaches world leading heights While Acorn Stairlifts is well-known as a leader in its field in the UK, most people will probably be surprised to hear that one of the company’s stairlifts is installed somewhere in the world every nine minutes!

Acorn warehouse Over the last 20 years, Acorn Stairlifts has grown into a £136m turnover business, exporting to 80 countries and employing 800 people in the UK and 1,400 around the globe. Acorn Stairlifts was set up in 1992 by its current owner, originally buying and selling second hand stairlifts. As demand outstripped supply, the company began manufacturing its own products. Over the last 23 years, it has supplied more than 400,000 stairlifts direct to the customer as well as to dealers and distributors in the UK and overseas. With its headquarters in Steeton and two other manufacturing plants in Shipley and near Edinburgh, Acorn Stairlifts has invested £8m in new plant and machinery during the last five years and now makes one million components annually. Dave Belmont, company secretary, explains the business’ success. “Determination, focus and hard work have made us one of the market leaders in stairlifts globally. We are fortunate that as a private company, we have benefited from ongoing investment and a long term vision. For example, we have invested heavily in setting up our own

“We will be adding further territories and our plan is to find ways to continue to grow and be even better at what we do”

subsidiaries overseas which allows us to promote our brand and ensure that our sales and service levels are maintained, whatever the country. We have been able to make strategic decisions to invest in markets which we believe have potential, rather than having to focus on immediate returns.” Acorn Stairlifts has subsidiaries in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Over the last four years, its worldwide exports have more than doubled, rising from £35.7m to almost £80m and it is the market leader in the US. Its impressive export growth was recently recognised at the EEF/ Aldermore Future Manufacturing Awards where it took gold in the Outstanding Export Award, was runner-up in the Business Growth Award and was named British Manufacturing Champion by being crowned Winner of Winners. “As well as the quality of our products and customer service, we have built the business around the speed of our response. We will often install a stairlift within three days of a consumer contacting us, and sometimes even the next day in an emergency. Given the sheer size of the United States, we had to invest heavily to build up critical mass so we could provide similar levels of service cost-effectively. “Looking to the future, we will be adding further territories and our plan is to find ways to continue to grow and be even better at what we do. A product

like ours can literally change someone’s life and it genuinely gives us pleasure to know that we are helping people to live in their own home longer or to get out of hospital more quickly because we are able to install within 24 hours. For us, it’s more than just a business, for example, we’ve recently pledged to provide up to 60 stairlifts a year free of charge for people cared for by Marie Curie across the UK.” Acorn Stairlifts also this year received the Made in Yorkshire Advanced Manufacturer/Technology Award from Insider in recognition of the success of its modular FastTrack® system. Using FastTrack, Acorn can often install a stairlift on a non-standard staircase faster than any of its competitors – sometimes before one of its competitors has even sent a surveyor. Leeds law firm Clarion manages Acorn Stairlifts’ trademark portfolio around the world. “With its strong track record in handling international intellectual property work, Clarion was an obvious choice for us given our need to protect our valuable brand names in relation to our innovative business and products. Leigh Martin and the team have been unfailingly friendly and helpful, they speak in a language we can understand and always provide a swift response.” Leigh Martin, partner and head of Clarion’s IP practice, adds: “With almost 500 staff in Yorkshire, Acorn Stairlifts has grown into a major local employer as well as taking the region’s reputation for manufacturing excellence around the world. Generally, the better quality the product, the higher the risk is of it being copied so it is vital that innovative British made and designed products like these are protected across all jurisdictions.”

Can we help you? Call Leigh Martin on 0113 222 3207 or email Please visit for more information.

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Feeling very inspired by all the talented entrepreneurs this evening. #BQEntrepreneur

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It has been a great honour and a great privilege to become president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I know I have taken on this role at a very exciting and critical time. The economy is changing, new industries are emerging and new challenges, with the foremost requirement of creating and educating the future workforce. The changes are essential to ensure that the Sheffield City Region continues to compete and excel on the national and international stage. Industry in our region is moving from historical heavy industry to specialist production. No longer is Sheffield the blast furnace of the country; we still make steel, only now it is specialist steel. We still manufacture. These days it is advanced manufacturing and advanced engineering and healthcare technologies and creative and digital industries – and we need the infrastructure and skilled people to make sure those industries grow. This is a once in lifetime opportunity, we can redesign the fortunes of not just Sheffield, but the whole region. Yes, we need an informed

Our once in a lifetime opportunity Jillian Thomas, only the second female president of Sheffield Chamber, tells BQ about her first few months in the role


debate to ensure that we reach the right conclusions; taking the region in the right direction, not for political gain, but for the long term benefit for all. Top of the immediate agenda is HS2. And top of our decision making is; where should the Sheffield station be? As a Chamber we have come to the conclusion that it must be for the best economic gain for the whole region. Most opinions are based on reports created before HS3 and the Northern Powerhouse debate became centre stage. The conclusion needs basing not on whim and/ or emotion, but one founded on cold, hard economic evidence. The economic argument currently suggests the Sheffield city centre option being not just better for the city, but for the region as a whole. The question of where the station should be located is bigger than party politics. It’s not about Labour versus Tory, or people sitting in silos making decisions for their town or their bit of the region. This is not about Sheffield versus Doncaster, Rotherham or Barnsley; we need collaboration across the City Region for the good of the region and for the area to be seen on the international stage, not just the national stage. The correct decision may in the short term cost more, but it will create quality well paid jobs, enhance local GDP, bring jobs for our children and security for us in our retired, golden years. Independent research shows that a city centre station at Victoria could help create up to 13,000 new jobs; twice the amount of jobs compared to Meadowhall. Victoria could create up to £7bn for the local economy – more than if the station is at Meadowhall. But this isn’t about Sheffield trying to get ahead of the rest of the region; far from it. What we know is that only a city centre can provide comprehensive city region and national strategic connectivity. Sheffield itself is the economic driver for the city region. Its success leads to success for the whole of the Sheffield City Region, and indeed for Yorkshire and Humberside. As I said, in Sheffield we have growth industries like advanced engineering, healthcare technologies and creative and digital industries. These really are the industries of the future and they are growing in Sheffield. They are emerging

onto the international stage too. In 12 months Sheffield exports went up 18%, compared with a 2% drop nationally. Sheffield itself is a powerhouse. Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield together add up to roughly 80% of the population of London, but produce just 40% of the economic output. We need to unlock the potential and create a Northern Triangle, which will become the economic core of the Northern Powerhouse. At the start of this century we saw manufacturing move east, but when the quality failed to materialise, the reversal back to the UK commenced. We need to accelerate this reversal and play to our strengths. But for a city region to be successful we need first class infrastructure. If I ran a corporation


students gain the skills and qualifications to open up opportunities for jobs. The college offers specialist courses, designed with employers in mind, in the two exciting industry areas I mentioned before, creative and digital media, and advanced engineering and manufacturing. These areas are growth areas for our city, our region, the country and the world. The college courses mean the companies have the staff they need and the students have strong career opportunities in the future. There are other exciting developments in the City Region too, such as the world leading Factory 2050, a new type of factory, which is being built on the new Advanced Manufacturing Campus. It will be the UK’s first totally reconfigurable, digital factory, which is

“Coming out of the silos and cooperating will strengthen the region and lead to a real Northern Powerhouse, a real Sheffield Powerhouse”

and was considering moving to the Sheffield City Region what are my requirements? I need robust infrastructure, a well-connected transport system that works nationally and internationally, and adequate power. And what do we have in Sheffield? We have the opportunity of a lifetime to get the rail transport right with HS2 and HS3, with effective interactions with the M1 and M18 motorway links. We have an airport at Doncaster Sheffield that is adding flights and passengers and the new link road to the M18 can only accelerate that growth. And it is not just the 1.3 million holidaymakers and business passengers that the airport is key for, it is a cargo hub too, moving our exports out to an international market and bringing investment in. The airport is our global gateway to the city region. And when businesses come here, what else do they need? Workers to do the jobs. And, again, that is, area that Sheffield is thriving in. We have UTC Sheffield, one of the first university technical colleges in the country. Students at UTC Sheffield study an academic curriculum, GCSEs and A Levels, alongside their technical learning. The difference is that all academic study relates to employer-led projects and

designed so that equipment can easily be moved around the shop floor. It’s backed by the University of Sheffield and is yet another example of how agencies collaborate, to mould the future development of the whole region. It’s a great example of how coming out of the silos and cooperating will strengthen the region and lead to a real Northern Powerhouse, a real Sheffield Powerhouse. We don’t want lip service from politicians, we want them to reflect what is happening in the North, in Sheffield. Business will assist, play its part in this difficult period, as long as we are listened to, and the eventual decisions creating effective futures for all. But the most important factor for the development and success of this region costs us nothing, it is for all of us to create a ‘can do’ culture. It is for all of us to speak positively, to create a culture that wants to make companies to come to the region, create jobs and create our future prosperity. So we are laying the foundations for our city and our region to thrive in the future shifting economy. We need to keep ahead of the curve by creating a new and exciting economy. What a great time to be president of the Chamber! n



Filmies - an idea hatched in Leeds



Mike Hughes finds a new spark of entrepreneurialism in the middle of Leeds You know the feeling – you have an evening free for a good film on the TV, but haven’t got a clue what to watch. Reviews can be helpful, but you need to trust your reviewer, and they might not share your particular likes and dislikes. So what if you could instantly ask a group of friends for their recommendations? That’s the scenario that drove film fan Neil McClure to launch Filmies, an app that takes in your mood, environment and preferences, sorts through its library of highly-detailed

recommendations from other users and shows you what you what you were looking for. It can then guide you to a streaming site that has that film available at the best price. The key is in the metadata the app uses, with search tags including phrases such as ‘Friday night’ ‘thinker’, ‘cool’ and ‘twist ending’. “I’m a management consultant by profession, and I think that has helped me get my plans in order for Filmies,” said Neil, who lives in York and has a base at the Entrepreneurial Spark offices in Park Cross Street, Leeds.

“But I’ve always been a big film fan and have had personal experience of how frustrating it can be to rely on the recommendations from some of the algorithms sites were using. What I liked to watch six months ago might not be the same thing I want to watch on that particular night at that particular time. “I just had the idea that I could do something about it and bring in peer-to-peer suggestions and discoveries using a tagging system instead of 1,000-word reviews that people just don’t have time for.



“I’m not a technical person myself and certainly couldn’t write code, so I started an online campaign to find a Chief Technical Officer and found Alan Reitsch.” With Alan on board, the mix was right to press on with this social network for film fans, which is due to release a Beta version by the end of the year. Neil’s experience gives a different viewpoint than other BQ stories. This spark of innovation has come to someone in a well-paid full-time job. He’s not building success like many inspirational entrepreneurs, his challenge is to REbuild it and see how far his redirected faith in his own abilities will take him. “We got a small crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs which has just closed after we exceeded our target and got £18,500. Interestingly, that was broken down into 86 investors, putting in everything from £10 to £4,000, so that is a big responsibility. “Filmies started with an idea in my head, then there were two heads and now 86 people have out their hard-earned money into us. That’s exciting and inspirational.” As well as all that support, Neil chose Entrepreneurial Spark in Leeds as well as the company’s London base to provide the right environment for the business to grow. Backed by partners RBS/NatWest and KMPG, these centres across the country provide office space – or hatcheries – for early stage and growing businesses seeking support from a network of mentors and fellow businesses. As well as Leeds, they are already established

“It is a fantastic space for collaboration with a high energy environment, but no temptation to sit in your pyjamas watching telly”

in Ayrshire, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Newcastle “It has been really good for us,” said Neil. “We are constantly around other entrepreneuers and we bounce ideas off each other because we are all at a similar stage. Leeds has a really cool spirit about it which really opened my eyes to what was going on in the city. There is also an honesty and openness about the Yorkshire people that is just what a young business needs.” The Entrepreneurial Spark centre supplies a tailored and intensive accelerator programme for new businesses, providing a major boost for the region’s entrepreneurs. As well as housing them, Duncan Robertson, head of communications and marketing for Entrepreneurial Spark said whoever gets accepted for a space has to commit to a demanding schedule to get the most out of their six-month tenancy. “We have two ‘enablers’ at the Leeds hatchery who look after 40 businesses – or chicklets each as executive coaches. They are your best friend and your worst enemy because they hold businesses to account. They won’t allow you to

procrastinate.” There are ‘temperature check’ updates on how you are doing, compulsory event nights that cover subjects such as sales, marketing and HR, and 60-second pitches after which the chicklets are closely questioned by their mentors to make sure their business plans are backable. “We look at it as inspiring and enabling positive social change through the action of ‘entrepreneuring’, said Duncan. “By the start of 2017 we will have 13 centres across the country, taking in 80 business every six months. We don’t charge for the space and we don’t take equity in the companies, so a person might come in with one idea or a business already trading – we just need a desire to grow and scale the business. “It is a fantastic space for collaboration with a high energy environment, but no temptation to sit in your pyjamas watching telly. When we were looking for sites we found that Leeds was one of the most entrepreneurial centres in the UK, which was recognised in the StartUp report a couple of years ago. We aim to help convert that enthusiasm into results that add to the economy and create jobs.” n




PROFILE Let’s Grow

Heck - they really went for it! Debbie Keeble got help from the Let’s Grow fund so that her business could make both ends meat In case you hadn’t noticed, things are changing for the humble sausage. Production methods have come full circle as the consumer looks for high-quality meat and easy traceability even in their bangers, and what started out as a hand-made farm product and then got hijacked by multi-nationals has again become the work of a craftsman. In the case of Debbie Keeble that should really read ‘craftsfamily’ as her sons and daughters Jamie, Guy, Roddy and Ellie are all working together to give the sausage a second chance with their new business Heck, launched at Leeming Bar after Debbie and husband Andrew sold their previous sausage business, Debbie and Andrew’s. Now as their top-selling sausages make it to the shelves of Tesco and Morrisons, their future plans are based around a £3m factory, warehouse and visitor centre alongside the A1 at Bedale, made

possible by £500,000 from the Let’s Grow fund. “We have had a brilliant start and are the bestselling premium brand with £1m turnover each month after less than three years,” Debbie told BQ Yorkshire. “We always aimed high, but probably never expected it to be this high, which is probably down to a really good brand, because if you haven’t got a huge marketing budget, all you have is what sits on the shelf. “We knew how important packaging would be, so we spent a lot of money on it to give it real heart and soul and make it more than just a name on the pack. We also have a really good team around us, with the kids and their friends out there shouting about it. “When you look at our rivals, there is a lot of dark packaging out there, which can look a bit dowdy. We use pastel colours so we stand out and look like

something different and we suggest different eating occasions on our packs to help families decide what they want for their tea. “But we also wanted to offer something different and relevant. There has been a lot of innovation in the industry lately and we have focussed on that and listened to our customers. So everything is glutenfree and low in fat, like the chicken sausage we do. People complain that sausage skins are too tough, so we produce a skinless variety and they needed a quicker cook, so we made a square flat sausage so you can have a quick sandwich on the go.” The family’s history at their farm has given them unrivalled experience and determination to succeed, heightened by Debbie and Andrew’s shattering time selling their eponymous company in search of investment for more growth, but losing control of what was happening to a beloved brand and seeing

PROFILE Let’s Grow

their values disappear. Picking themselves up from that bruising encounter, ‘what the heck – let’s do it’ became the new family motto and a company name was born. “There are new lifestyles for our customers now”, says Debbie. “They are more concerned with fitness, low fat, more protein and knowing where their food comes from. For us a happy animal is one that is looked after, it is all about the husbandry, rather than the production system. “The input from the younger generation we have surrounded ourselves with is great and they have such an energy about them, making it a jolly place to be every day. And at the shows and events we attend, people tend to go away with a happy feeling.” With so much growth so soon, there wasn’t a lot of money on the balance sheet and Heck was already outgrowing its premises, so the Keebles turned to Let’s Grow to make the next phase of their dream come true. “We didn’t want to overstretch ourselves, so it was really important for us to get someone like Let’s Grow on our side and it gives the banks a bit of confidence if someone else says ‘yes’. “A contribution of 20% was amazing, and will all go to the new site between Ripon and Bedale, where there is a derelict pig farm which we will be converting. And because sausages always seem to take a bit of a hammering whenever there is a slow news day, we are also opening the place up and inviting people to look around and see what we do


“The input from the younger generation we have surrounded ourselves with is great and they have such an energy about them, making it a jolly place to be every day. And at the shows and events we attend, people tend to go away with a happy feeling”

and crossing that bridge between country life and city living. “The Let’s Grow support also means we will be able to expand the workforce by about 50 over the next few years in both production and marketing. The next two or three years will be exciting – we already do the burgers, balls and sausages and we have more ideas about lower fat products and we will be looking at the meat-free market.” The idea of pairing a plate of Heck sausages with some Yorkshire black pudding sounds too tempting to miss, but Debbie has other plans.... “We went to France to get some ideas and were so impressed by how they make their black pudding that we came away thinking we were never going to be able to better that, so we might bring boudin noir over here. They make everything with fresh blood straight from the abbatoir, but in England a lot of it is made with dried blood and there is less traceability.” My suggestion that it would be a great opportunity to introduce the ‘Bloody Heck!’ black pudding was politely declined. This is, after all, a woman of great taste who knows her market inside out and has

perfectly judged her family’s welcome return to the supermarket shelves. Simon Allen, Senior Project Manager for BE Group, which delivers the Lets Grow programme in partnership with Clive Owen LLP said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Debbie and her team through the Lets Grow scheme. I am sure that their mix of experience and enthusiasm will help them greatly in the planned relocation, and I wish them well in their new ‘home’.”

For more information call 0191 389 8434 or visit or email


PROFILE Let’s Grow

We have weathered the changes Michael Jonas, managing director of Oakdale (Contracts), explains the development of his firm and reveals that he is marking its 20th anniversary with key investments and some revolutionary products Oakdale started life in 1996, when we predominantly supplied hard landscaping products to the domestic market and paid little heed to the commercial market. But that concentration on one sector of the market had some dramatic effects on the business. The domestic market has a defined selling season from about March to August and is particularly prone to the vagaries of the weather. This had the effect of focussing the majority of our turnover into six frantic months of the year, or what is referred to as “the season”. It was either feast or famine, a cold or wet Easter could mean a bad year. Consequently, when I arrived at Oakdale in 1999 we were difficult to manage and had an overcomplicated business model, so it was pretty obvious we needed a change of direction. After the inevitable SWOT analysis and a review of our strategy the plan was to de-seasonalise, but that proved easy to say and difficult to do. We needed to be able to supply both the domestic and commercial markets – we would still have peaks and troughs but they wouldn’t be so dramatic. The transformation was at times inevitably painful and involved a staged investment programme, with new plant and equipment gradually phased into production, it was impossible to do everything at once. But we’ve stuck to our original business plan and steadily over time developed a wider product range that encompasses both markets. Generally we’ve achieved what we set out to do and nearly 17 years on, Oakdale are still ringing in the changes and making tough decisions. This time round our future plans are even more profound and testimony to our desire not to stand still, and it is here that Let’s Grow and the BE Group have been very helpful. Originally I attended a breakfast launch seminar in June 2015, and eight months later in February 2016 we were given the green light to proceed, having already supplied a business plan, narrative and cashflows. Nothing too onerous or out of the ordinary.

“Generally we’ve achieved what we set out to do and nearly 17 years on, Oakdale are still ringing in the changes and making tough decisions”


Because of the complex nature of the project, unique design of the new machinery and generally challenging engineering works, the scheme will run into 2017. The total expenditure will be just under £750,000 and we will receive a six figure grant from Let’s Grow subject to Oakdale recruiting a further ten employees. We hope to supplement all areas of employment within the company, ranging across the full spectrum of business from production and despatch to sales and administration duties. It’s been a very positive experience and has enabled us to create our own concept or ideology around Greenscaping, the manufacture of sustainable hard landscaping products wherever possible using a high percentage of recycled materials, or at least materials which are kinder to the environment. In some markets it would appear that a sustainable product or an eco-friendly alternative can command a premium. But in our business you can’t ask a premium for a sustainable product, and that’s the same whether it’s commercial or domestic hard landscaping. It has to be both sustainable and affordable, not one at

the expense of the other. The Greenscaping ideology started by focusing upon our carbon footprint and progressed to the complete redesign of our products to accommodate a much greater percentage of recycled materials. We designed and built a prototype machine which was completely radical and would enable us to increase the percentages of recycled material used. The new process will also facilitate the manufacture of another Oakdale first, AirPave, which is paving which is up to 80% sustainable - and it also cleans or de-pollutes the air. Air pollution or poor air quality has become a major problem. Britain’s cities are choked with toxic pollutants caused by noxious exhaust gases which are referred to as NOx, with road transport being the largest source of NOx in the UK. NOx is a generic term, it refers to Nitrogen Oxide (NO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) both of which are produced during combustion. It’s a world-wide problem with the UK having some of the most polluted air in Europe. There isn’t an easy answer or a single silver-bullet solution to improve air quality, but we think AirPave


can help because it is a revolutionary yet affordable development in what is known as photocatalytic concrete. Photocatalysis is a well-known natural phenomenon and most life on earth depends upon photocatalytic reactions such as photosynthesis. There are a number of materials that display photocatalytic behaviour and are able to oxidise and breakdown pollutants, including Titanium Dioxide. Advances in nanotechnology have resulted in the production of photocatalytic cement such as TioCem which incorporates Titanium Dioxide. Our unique manufacturing processes utilises TioCem in an innovative and efficient manner, the result is AirPave a new and affordable environmental product which harnesses tried and tested nanotechnology. The concrete surface of AirPave decomposes harmful NOx by means of photocatalysis. Natural daylight is sufficient for initiating the photocatalytic degradation of harmful NOx into harmless NO3 which is then washed away by rainfall. The photocatalytic reaction does not diminish with time and is continuous. In tests, 40% of NOx was immediately oxidised into harmless NO3. We’re just about to launch AirPave and will be offering the option of paving which improves air quality at very little extra cost, or in some instances no extra cost at all, so we are very confident about the future. ‘Simon Allen, Senior Project Manager for BE Group, which delivers the Lets Grow programme in partnership with Clive Owen LLP said: its great to be able to support Oakdale’s next stage of development through the Lets Grow scheme. Their innovative approach to designing new environmentally friendly products is to be commended, and I am pleased that we have been able to help to make the project happen.

For more information call 0191 389 8434 or visit or email

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY Magnet for investment Prospect Estates has transformed a Leeds gateway site through the delivery of a flagship new facility for leading UK kitchen and joinery specialist, Magnet. Planning permission was secured from Leeds City Council last year for the creation of a purpose-built Magnet facility on North Street at Sheepscar Interchange following a pre-let deal to the leading retailer. Castlehouse Construction completed the build contract on time and on budget to create the new facility which, when fit-out is complete, will incorporate a contemporary kitchen showroom, trade counter, warehouse, offices and parking. The showroom was completed for Boxing Day and fit-out work and other outstandings were due to be completed by the end of March. Magnet has relocated from nearby Meanwood Road and the purpose-built facility was designed to provide increased visibility while staying within the locality to retain both staff and trade customers.

Changing face of Sheffield The appeal of Sheffield city centre as a ‘business hub’ is growing in momentum with over 65% of last year’s 486,000 sq ft of office take-up happening centrally. Office market activity across Sheffield hit a record high in 2015 with its strongest annual performance since the recession and a 77% increase on 2014, according to figures from Creative Sheffield, the economic development arm of Sheffield City Council. The research showed that new occupier take-up across the city totalled 486,000 sq ft from over 92 deals and 317,000 sq ft of this take-up was in the city centre. Plans for a new Sheffield Retail Quarter, which is expected to provide further high-demand office space, the redevelopment of The Moor and its vibrant retail, cinema and leisure complex appealing to city centre workers, and the imminent completion of 3 St Pauls Place (the third phase of this land mark scheme providing premium, Grade A office space, in the heart of Sheffield city centre) have all been cited as contributing to the growing appeal of Sheffield city centre. Peter Whiteley, Partner at Knight Frank said: “Success breeds success and as more businesses are hearing about the quality of office space

The Magnet team that has worked on a new flagship location for their kitchen and journey services

available in the city centre and realise that it is affordable, we are seeing an increase in enquires from businesses interested in upgrading or relocating centrally. Often this move is welcomed by staff and clients because a central base can work better in terms of transport links, connectivity with others in the sector and the wider vibrancy of the city centre.”

“Success breeds success as more businesses are hearing about the quality of office space available in the city centre” Recruiting new neighbours Expanding Yorkshire recruitment company Brewster Pratap has taken 2,020 sq ft of prime office space in St Andrew House, a flagship building situated on the corner of Park Row and The Headrow in central Leeds. The 15,000 sq ft office building has recently undergone a major £400,000 refurbishment and Brewster Pratap are moving into the second floor, where the refurbishment has been completed.


Sam Jamieson of property consultancy Knight Frank in Leeds, who advised Brewster Pratap, said: “Although we were extremely pleased, it came as no surprise to the agents that most of the second floor at St Andrew House has been let to one of Yorkshire’s newest and most successful recruitment firms. “The high specification refurbishment coupled with the very reasonable quoting rent of £13.95 per sq ft on a five-year lease, was a winning formula in attracting this new and exciting tenant,” said Mr Jamieson. Established in 2011 the Brewster Pratap Recruitment Group is in the top 1% of the UK’s fastest growing start-ups.

First Class sale One of Leeds’ best known buildings, the grade II listed Old Post Office in City Square has been sold ‘off-market’ to a private UK investor. The multi-million-pound landmark deal was originated by York-based property consultant Toby Cockcroft of Croft Commercial, acting on behalf of Highstone Estates, with Colliers International advising the purchaser. The Old Post Office was built in 1896 by Sir Henry Tanner, who was renowned for building some of the country’s grandest Victorian post office buildings, including in York and Birmingham. The building was Leeds’ largest post office and also served as the city’s


telephone exchange. Highstone Estates, which acquired the Old Post Office in 1987, carried out a major refurbishment of the building in 2005 to create 23 serviced apartments known as “Residence 6” alongside a pair of restaurant units, one of which is occupied by Restaurant Bar and Grill. The leasehold on the second unit has recently been assigned by Loch Fyne owner Greene King to Leeds-based bar group Arc Inspirations, which plans to invest £1.5m in their Banyan branded bar and restaurant on the site later this year. Toby Cockcroft said: “We are more known for marketing large country houses and estates, and commercial land parcels on behalf of clients, but the same principles apply to this type of off-market deal. We have a network of investors and high net worth clients globally that we can approach with unique property opportunities.”

Double boost for Leeds sales

Oh Lord... students! Construction has begun on Select Property Group’s Vita Student Village in York which will see the 6.3 acre former St Joseph’s Convent on Lawrence Street, restored into student accommodation, creating a brand new student village in the city. Owners Select Property Group, a global developer, retailer and operator of market-leading investment brands, will renovate the convent buildings into spaces which will include private study rooms, expansive lounge areas, private dining rooms, a movie room and state-of-the-art gym. In addition to the convent restoration, an additional 14, three and four-storey buildings will be constructed to create an exclusive student village totalling 649 beds to accommodate the city’s increasing student population. The unique campus-style development features extensively landscaped grounds, including outdoor seating areas and the retention of a communal orchard. Yielding two tonnes of fruit a year, the orchard will form a focal point of the development with new buildings named after the pears, apples and plums it grows.

“Spaces which will include private study rooms, expansive lounge areas, private dining rooms, a movie room and state-of-the-art gym”

There has been encouraging movement at two of Leeds industrial parks. CBRE’s Leeds Industrial Agency team has acquired a 54,210 sq ft warehouse at Treefield on behalf of Premier Lasertube to facilitate its regional expansion. The company, which forms part of the Brown & Tawse Steelstock Ltd group portfolio is doubling its Leeds operation in a move from a 25,000 sq ft facility at Confederation Park. The acquisition of the new larger warehouse will provide the company with a platform to expand its operation, taking advantage of the improving economic market conditions. Treefield Industrial Estate is strategically located off the A62 at the top of Gelderd Road within a quarter of a mile of Junction 27 of the M62 motorway. And over at Enterprise Park, Ryden has signed up five new tenants for commercial property company Industrious resulting in 100% occupancy. The units were placed on the market towards the end of 2015 with the new occupiers being Jolanta, Hydraserve UK Ltd, ARK Metal Works, Elite Maintenance and Techno Ventilation. Rents in the region of £5.50 per sq ft were achieved for each unit, which ranged in size from 1,378 sq ft to 2,028 sq ft.

MINERVA OFFICES DELIVER 5H SERVICE TO CITY OCCUPIERS EVANS PROPERTY GROUP’S £25M INVESTMENT TRANSFORMING CITY QUARTER As part of its £25m investment programme into the Bond Court area of Leeds City Centre, Evans Property Group is delivering a unique 5* service to office occupiers in the city at its newly transformed Minerva office building, taking a new approach to traditional office leasing. As part of its £25m investment programme into the Bond Court area of Leeds City Centre, Evans Property Group is delivering a unique 5* service to office occupiers in the city at its newly transformed Minerva office building, taking a new approach to traditional office leasing. Minerva occupies a strategic location in the heart of Leeds City Centre backing on to Bond Court which connects the traditional business district with the

retail core of the city. The nine month internal and external refurbishment programme at Minerva has resulted in a contemporary new façade, 6 floors of Grade A office accommodation with flexible floor-plates and a striking reception area designed by award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley, whose previous projects include the stylish interiors for the Royal and VIP Lounges at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Occupiers

properties with secure long leases together with a substantial development land bank. Evans is a major investor in Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region and its transformations of Minerva and the neighbouring Capitol office building have created over 50,000 sq ft of much-needed Grade A office accommodation. The investment into the offices forms part of Evans’ ongoing £25m programme of works transforming the whole Bond Court area of Leeds City Centre where GMI Construction is presently on-site with Evans’ new 95 bed 5* Dakota Deluxe hotel and extensive Bond Court public realm works and new retail and leisure units are also in the pipeline. In creating a new quarter within Leeds, Evans can deliver a new one-stop, high quality service to its occupiers.

are taking advantage of the unique offer of Grade A quality and prime address, resulting in the rapid lettings by office agents CBRE and JLL. The major refurbishment of the 30,568 sq ft of Grade A, BREEAM Excellent offices at Minerva has already resulted in the prestigious office space being snapped up by high profile occupiers. Leading discretionary investment manager, Standard Life Wealth, property firm BNP Paribas Real Estate, global financial services company UBS and law firm Gateley have all joined the tenant line-up and existing occupier CDI AndersElite has also expanded into a larger suite to facilitate the firm’s expansion plans.

Alan Syers, Portfolio Director at Evans Property Group, said; “We have created an entirely unique office offering at Minerva which is about so much more than the highest quality offices in the best location in Leeds City Centre. Having already ticked those boxes, the creation of the hotel, new retail and leisure units and the redevelopment of the public realm mean that occupiers at Minerva can offer their staff and clients the ultimate 5* experience all in one place. Bond Court is strategically located in the best position in Leeds with a wealth of amenities close at hand and in close proximity to the retail core and railway station. We are incredibly excited with the early success of Minerva and look forward to the hotel and associated works completing the transformation.”

The deals mean that the remaining office suites from 1,000 sq ft upwards, which represent the highest quality, ready-to-occupy Grade A space within Leeds City Centre, are in supremely high demand and it’s not just the quality of the building which is unrivalled in Leeds, the comprehensive package at Bond Court is creating a stand-alone service. The Evans Property Group is a long established private property investor and developer, with a property portfolio consisting of Grade A investment

Take a virtual tour of Minerva at






Power to the people


Grant Thornton’s managing partner in Leeds, Andy Wood, discusses some big changes over lunch with BQ Yorkshire Editor Mike Hughes Grant Thornton has more than 42,000 staff in 729 offices around the world. And they have each played their part in bringing in revenues of $4.6bn. In Yorkshire, Andy Wood is recruiting partners and growing his team as demand keeps rising. But as BQ readers from entrepreneurs to executives know, in business there is little time to congratulate yourself on a job well done, so Andy’s new CEO, Sacha Romanovitch has got the company focussed on her strategic review Vision 2020 - and a radical change of direction. “On the back of a really strong few years under Scott Barnes we appointed Sacha, who has really risen through the ranks and is the first female CEO of an accountancy practice anywhere in the world and I think she exemplifies why we are different. “We are not one of our big four competitors, we don’t want to be part of a big five and we are no longer part of the mid-tier. But we sit very nicely between those groups of firms – and that makes us interesting.

“Those principles have been with us for a long time, but they have come to the fore as a result of changing market conditions, with a lot of M&A in our sector. That is the backdrop to Sacha’s appointment and she is bringing fresh insight and fresh ideas. “Grant Thornton is evolving like any other brand or business and we think the time is right for us to do things in a slightly different way.” Those are the headlines, but the story beneath them is about Shared Enterprise, which is well underway and effectively making 200 entrepreneurs out of Andy’s team and the other 41,800 GT staff worldwide. The company’s partners have signed up to an operating model that shares the power with every employee, from the ideas they come up with to the money they get for solutions. It will be digging deep, going well past the occasional ‘we’re all in this together’ half-hour meeting and A4 email to create an environment in which everyone thinks and acts like an owner. It covers the whole Grant Thornton process,




“It is both exciting and challenging, to be honest. But anything in life that is worth having comes with a little trepidation” crowdsourcing a business plan with employees who can sit on the powerful oversight board and be rewarded straight from the company’s profits Sacha puts a lot of faith in the model, which has prove itself with impressive returns on the Esop index (the FTSE-calculated UK Employee Ownership Index) and says she thinks it can double profitability by the totemic 2020. So what does that mean for Andy Wood and his team? How does a global sector-leading initiative that every other company will be watching so closely work at LS1 4BN? “It is a matter of realising that we don’t have all the answers, so why not ask the people who work for us and take advantage of the broad range of age and experience and share ideas,” he tells me as we watch the snow settling outside our cocooned private dining room at Bowcliffe Hall. “Clearly a bright 20 year old just out of university will have a different view on life to someone like me. “So we have been gathering those views for the last six to eight months, but now we need to be sharing the responsibility for them, so that our people can grasp those ideas and make them happen locally. “It is both exciting and challenging, to be honest. But anything in life that is worth having comes with a little trepidation.”

One of the obvious spin-offs of such a game changer is that it gets noticed by potential new staff, which is just what happened with Simon Davidson, who is a recent boost for the regional operation. Moving from Deloitte, Simon says he was attracted by GT’s ethos “which mirrored my own” and he will now lead Andy’s new Finance Transformation Team across the North of England, focussed on improving the performance of finance functions across all sectors. “Financial transformation is about seeing what is troubling the FDs, which could be systemrelated or people-related or about the yearend,” explains Andy. “Simon has become very well-known for helping these teams make their operations better and creating opportunities for us in that marketplace. “He will sit on the consulting team, the vast majority of which is in London. But there has been a real desire to replicate in the regions what we have been doing in London, and Simon is one of the first examples of how we are now playing in the regions. “He is a family guy with young children and didn’t want to be dragged down from York to London all the time. He wanted to work with entrepreneurs in Yorkshire - and we can give him that.” There will be more like Simon, as Sacha’s bold

shift attracts attention and the right calibre of people think it is the right move to join now and help form her image of the new Grant Thornton rather than wait to see what happens and miss the opportunity. “One of our biggest challenges for business is attracting talent,” says Andy. “How do we bring in, develop and grow the right people in such a tight market. The strategic review and Vision 2020 is one way we will do that because it sets us out as being different and progressive and that is attractive. “Our purpose in all this for me is to help the whole of Grant Thornton shape a vibrant regional economy - who do we want to work with, what do we want to speak out on and what do we want to be known for? “Those are the three pillars and some are more relevant than others in terms of what we are doing in Yorkshire. The first is around how we work in the large corporate market and in financial services, so perhaps less relevant in this part of the world. “The third pillar is around the work we do with government and not-for-profit, creating that environment where businesses can flourish. “But it is the second pillar that really gets to the heart of what we do in Yorkshire – working alongside dynamic businesses and helping them grow with our support.” The global nature of implementing Sacha



“There is no size-cut off here,” he insists. “It is about taking Yorkshire businesses at face value and looking for those characteristics that will lead to growth”

Romanovitch’s 44-page Strategic Review could be off-putting for a six-staff engineering business toiling away in a yard in Horsforth or Castleford, but that is why Andy is in his job. Like so many regional heads of powerful multi-nationals, he is both an appreciator of what his boss is doing and a translator for small businesses. One of the top questions his team faces each day will be ‘What does that mean for me?’ but Andy’s strength of personality and the trust he earns means multi-national messages become multi-regional and then town by town and business by business. “There is no size-cut off here,” he insists. “It is about taking Yorkshire businesses at face value and looking for those characteristics that will lead to growth. We grow relationships and trust throughout the region – just as many of our competitors do in a similar fashion – but it is about how we do it through the personality of our firm and our people.

“We have to grasp the opportunity nationally and locally, which is exemplified in the appointments and promotions we have made here in the last few months. We have made five partner appointments in Leeds and as many directors, which is a serious investment in the region. “But they are all the right blend of personality and character and they get what we are doing so they gel with us as a team. The first thing I will think about when I am considering someone for a job is whether they have bought into what we are doing to the extent that I could put them in the leadership team tomorrow with no concerns. “We do our homework in the markets so that we already know and trust the people we might bring to Leeds and have seen that they are wellliked and well-connected so they can open some doors for us. “We are nothing without our people and I am

now settling my team in and the early signs are really positive. I would never say no to anyone who is a marketable individual, but I am not actively looking as I have been in the past.” 2020 will be here in a frighteningly short time, so the pressure is on Andy and the GT team globally to make headway and forge visible results to back up the CEO’s proudly-announced vision. “Achieving the right financial results is one measure,” said Andy. “But the more important one is that we want to establish a reputation as the go-to firm for growth. If that was the case by 2020 then that would be an excellent result. “Personally, it is important that I am visible and that I listen to those people on my team who ask for five minutes of my time. No one can give me a better compliment than to say I am really grounded guy, to me that means I am accessible and trusted. “What you see is what you get with me, and



I have built my personal brand around that for many years as I work with my staff, clients, markets and operations. “That keeps me really busy - I’ve certainly noticed that Friday nights have never come around so fast during my 16 months in this role. But you need that amount of time to work out how you are going to deliver and what you might do differently.” That workload over a decade with GT needs an antidote, and for Andy it is Pilates and running. He will go out for a run at least twice a week for maybe three or four miles, often first thing in the morning. He tells me he used to look for reasons not to do it, but now the fitness

is good, the weight is staying off, the mental relief is kicking in and the Pilates is looking after the framework, so the urge to relax and run is always there. There is no musical accompaniment, this is free time to let the mind wander. “I just run, and whatever comes into my mind, I let it, and inevitably some of that will be workrelated,” says Andy.

“It is often only a couple of days later that I realise I have been thinking through an issue and it has enabled me to come up with a solution or a way of approaching something that I may not have come up with if I had not given myself that time. “You carry around with you things that have influenced you in your life and for me one of those things is that my dad died in his late fifties

“I don’t turn my phone off, but I am better than I ever was at switching off when the chance arises”

Bowcliffe with an extra serving of ‘wow’ It was as if the gods of Bowcliffe had decided this beautiful old house still wasn’t looking dramatic enough. So for just an hour or so leading up to the latest BQY Business Lunch – this time with Andy Wood, the managing partner for Grant Thornton in Leeds - they allowed it to snow and the manicured lawns became white blankets that definitely had the ‘wow’ factor. So much so that Andy and I even ventured out after our meal to see the view from the stunning Blackburn Wing perched among the trees a few yard from the main hall. Well worth the effort. Bowcliffe deals in perfection – from the manner of its staff to the decor and furnishings and the food on the plate. And what a plate it was. Andy opted for the Chicken, Ham and Leek pie, a white bowl full topped with a golden crust and sitting alongside some of the most tempting chips I had seen in a good while. But, Andy, what about that feast across the table from you? My plate was beautifully arranged with a slice of very tender pork, the softest black pudding and a square of dauphinoise potatoes. As a black pudding fan, Andy looked envious, but there was a safe distance between us. The log burner in the private dining room of the Driver’s Club glowed on to the dark wood panelling that give this space such a special feeling – and that was before the puddings arrived. The weather was right for two portions (one for each of us, of course...) of hot Rhubarb Crumble. The finest Yorkshire forced rhubarb was generously spooned into our dishes and topped with a very tasty crumble and a quenelle of ice cream. What a treat this place is – a real touch of class and comfort that is a million miles away from the A1 crush and rush nearby.

and I was in my twenties. “It’s not always front of my mind, but it is clearly important, so if I can watch what I eat, go for the occasional run and keep the weight off then that makes sense to me as a 46-year-old dad of two. I also have a lot more I want to achieve in this profession. “I don’t turn my phone off, but I am better than I ever was at switching off when the chance arises.” The work-life balance is such a precious thing for a business leader who has responsibilities at home and in the office and needs to show commitment to both. From what Andy tells me he has got it spot-on, which is also good news for a busy client base. “There is much more confidence and activity locally and more money to invest. Sources of funding have become increasingly available and there is a real appetite to spend it, which is good because for too many years businesses have felt constrained and have had to sit on their hands a little bit. “That all helps us boost the growth plans of these businesses and shape that vibrant economy we have in Yorkshire.” The further good news for the county’s businesses is that companies like Grant Thornton are showing that global operations can matter to science park start-ups or the family business that is trying to find a few thousand for a new piece of kit. Such multi-nationals now know how to be an embedded and accepted player in local economies, which can only broaden the choice and level of support for our aspirational entrepreneurs. n



RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Philip Goldsborough, Partner at Irwin Mitchell LLP, gets to drive a classic and the result does not disappoint I’m pretty sure that I was the biggest winner at the BQ Magazine 2016 Emerging Entrepreneurs’ Awards Dinner at the Leeds Marriott in February - and I’m no emerging entrepreneur. “We need someone to pick up a brand new 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera, play with it for the weekend and tell our readers all about it,” said the nice man from BQ Magazine at the end of the dinner. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2016 BQ Magazine Award for being in the right place at the right time goes! The following afternoon, Leeds Porsche handed me the Porsche shaped key fob and escorted me to a stunning new gun metal grey 911. It’s a 911. An iconic classic. So of course, at a glance, it looks the same as ever. But of course in Stuttgart, evolution means improvement. It’s different. Somehow sleeker, a touch

“We need someone to pick up a brand new 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera, play with it for the weekend and tell our readers all about it”






more aggressive but still smart, elegant and understated. I’ll spare you my description of the gorgeous new exterior lines - just check out our photos - enough said. The smart, elegant theme continues in the superbly designed Alcantara lined cockpit. The welcoming leather driver’s seat (this one had Porsche crests embossed in the headrests technically an option but how could you possibly not tick that box?) sits you in a perfect driving position. The switches and dials are perfectly positioned around the driver. The tactile controls push, pull and twist with reassuring, solid clicks. The interior materials are all of rock solid quality, bolted together with Germanic precision and attention to detail. Putting the key fob in the ignition and twisting it to start the engine brings a smile - a welcome retro change in today’s world of keyless fobs

“The switches and dials are perfectly positioned around the driver. The tactile controls push, pull and twist with reassuring, solid clicks”

and starter buttons. Twist the key and on startup the bi-turbo, flat six boxer, 370 horse power engine whooshes into a controlled growl loud enough to let you know what’s in store - but not loud enough to scatter birds from the trees, like one or two other less subtle engine start ups in the luxury sports coupe class. My test route of choice was a round trip from Leeds to Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast, via Newcastle to pick up my 19 year old petrolhead son.

In and around town the 911 is a civilised everyday commuter. The Porsche PDK semiautomatic gearbox is sensational as it takes you up through the gears - the power delivery is unbelievably smooth. The car literally glides through gear changes without any detectable jolts, in fact the only indication of a new gear is the faint sound of a note change from the engine - and of course the gear number display changing on the centre dial. Out of town, the 911’s monstrous power and


“Twist the small dial positioned just off the centre of the steering wheel, first to Sport, then to Sport Plus - the car stiffens, the engine roars and you instinctively laugh out loud”


racing pedigree is licence busting. Be very careful. Porsche’s published 0-60 mph figure of 4.4 seconds for this model is no doubt accurate - but in practice feels about 2.4 seconds too high. And this is just the entry level model! Coasting at 50 miles per hour in the frustratingly long 50 mph limit zone on the A1 heading north to Scotch Corner, felt like walking pace after slowing down into it. Interestingly, even at a sedate, speed limit restricted 50 mph, cars in front seemed to politely move aside. As well as the unmistakeable 911 shape looming in their rear view mirrors, I’m pretty sure their deference had something to do with the car’s fabulous new look daytime running lights, comprising four tiny but super bright and intimidating LED bulbs set in a neat square in each headlight lens. The quiet country and then coastal roads of Northumberland invited a thorough test of the 911’s superbly responsive steering and its several hooligan engine settings. Twist the small dial positioned just off the centre of the steering wheel, first to Sport, then to Sport Plus - the car stiffens, the engine roars and you instinctively laugh out loud. If that’s not enough, press the small Sport Response button set in the middle of the sport dial - all settings go instantly into race mode and all hell lets loose - but just for a limited 20 seconds burst, which counts down on a bright green circular timer graphic that appears on your main dial. Any negatives? One or two. In sensible commuterland mode the 911 is almost too German - too clinical, purely functional. As Petrolhead next to me in the passenger seat observed, there is no sense of occasion. Perhaps this is a harsh criticism though - when after all, one press of the Sport Response button instantly turns the sensible German bonkers on request. If that’s not enough for you, spec your new 911 with the sports exhaust option. Either way, Petrolhead and I had a truly memorable day out in a sensational car. n The car Philip drove was a Porsche 911 (991) Carrera 2 Coupe PDK. On the road from £78,800 incl VAT. Porsche Centre Leeds, The Boulevard, City West Business Park, Leeds LS12 6BG. 0113 389 0600



A treat and two winners

David Lewis, regional office head of Weightmans LLP put the old and New Worlds to the test “Not on a school night” is the standing house rule when it comes to opening up a bottle of wine nowadays. Of course, all laws are open to interpretation and there is certainly some wriggle-room here, but perish the thought that we might ever consciously look for any old excuse. Oh no, not us. So, when asked if I would be willing to review a couple of wines for these pages, I agreed to do so from a selfless sense of duty, nothing more. Ok? After 30 years working in Liverpool, I crossed the Pennines last summer when Weightmans merged with the highly-respected Leeds law firm, Ford and Warren. Since then my weekdays have been spent in a modest city centre flat whilst my better half continues to enjoy living in relatively grand style (ostensibly looking after the cats) at our family home in Flintshire. Needless to say, the importance of this mission was such that it really could not wait until the weekend, so Mrs L hot-footed across to join me. With some understatement, I had told BQ that we enjoy an occasional crisp dry white or a new world red, and the package delivered to the office in front of envious colleagues contained one of each. Now, please don’t get me wrong. When it comes to wine consumption, we are enthusiastic amateurs, rather than discerning connoisseurs. The time between pouring and tasting rarely allows for an assessment of the aroma. Our wine shopping tends to involve a trip to Tesco rather than a journey to the vineyard. Nevertheless, we knew what was expected of us; and we decided that this was an experience to be savoured. We agreed not to consult the tasting notes until we had finished, so as not to be unduly influenced. It was an easy decision to sample the white on night one, as the ideal choice to accompany the smoked salmon starter and roast chicken which Janet had prepared. The Chablis Seguinot

Bordet 2014 (Burgundy, France) had been chilled to perfection before we sat down to sample what it had to offer, tasters’ notepad to hand. We took time out to enjoy the first sip of the Chablis before starting to eat, and before our palates were compromised. We poured it with care. We rolled it around the glass. We held it up to the light. We sniffed it. We exchanged smiles, and then we each tipped the glass. Just a little passed our lips, and it was allowed to linger in the mouth before being swallowed. And guess what…all of that did actually add to our enjoyment. We are regular consumers of Chablis, but this one was new to us and plainly a cut above what we normally buy for about a tenner. Unsurprisingly, it was crisp and dry; but with a light acidity too, allowing for a lingering finish. A little more fruity than some, this wine

had subtle hints of pear and clear notes of citrus fruits, with lemon being our favoured comparison. Our tasting notes refer to this wine being ‘vibrant on the palate with a delicious silky texture of white stone fruits and honey suckle’, which we could not dispute. All in all, delicious and highly recommended. We managed not to open the red, an Esk Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) until the following evening! A tasty home-made beef stew was the fare which lay in wait as we poured a glass each and settled down to eat. This time, though, the jury was split in describing the wine, though we agreed that its silky texture made it terribly easy to drink! We both detected the taste of berries and fruits, but for me an underlying spiciness made this wine rather special. Both wines went down a treat, and they will be on our shopping list in future. If forced to choose (which is hard, because they are so different), we would give our gold medal to the Chablis, after a photo finish. n Chablis Seguinot Bordet 2014 Burgundy France, priced at £13.99. Esk Valley Pinot Noir 2012 Marlborough, New Zealand priced at £14.99.

Contact: James Goodhart Head of Private & Corporate Sales Bon Coeur Fine Wines Ltd Moor Park, Moor Road, Melsonby, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 5PR T: 01325 776446 W: E:


“We rolled it around the glass. We held it up to the light. We sniffed it. We exchanged smiles, and then we each tipped the glass. Just a little passed our lips, and it was allowed to linger in the mouth before being swallowed�




Supermac’s everyday car

Its practicality may be a matter for debate but there’s no question that the McLaren 570S is fun to drive, as Josh Simms reports

McLaren Automotive wants you to know that its latest sports car, the 570S, the first of its new Sports series, comes with a vanity mirror. There’s a glove box too a first for the company that launched just six years ago, later wowing car nuts with its £875,000 P1. There are two cup holders, 150 litres of luggage space enough for a couple of holdalls and even the swingup doors, a McLaren signature, have been redesigned to make the car easier to get into and, more problematically after a certain age, get out of. In other words, McLaren is pitching the 570S the first of which should be on the road by the end of the year as its first ‘practical’, ‘everyday’ and, at around £140,000, ‘affordable’ car. This is, note, the same car that, with its Formula

1-inspired carbon fibre mono-cell frame and aluminium panels, will propel you from 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds helpful for when the weekly shop really must be done and the supermarket is about to close. “Well, for McLaren it’s an everyday car, just providing you don’t need to get two people in the back,” jokes Robert Melville, the company’s 38-year-old head of design, ex of Land Rover and General Motors’ prestigious Advances Design Studio. “We know there’s a growth market for this kind of car. Porsche of course does it so well but this is a new proposition, because the 570S comes with that Formula 1 technology its a sports car with super-car design. People have lives and need to be able to get in and out easily, throw some bags in the back. But

they still want the drama and excitement of the kind of cars we have normally made. Above all this is a fun car to drive.” Certainly McLaren is serious about the proposition and with good reason: the 570S’s practicality may be debatable (the company insists it will never launch an SUV) but it still marks a step change for the British supercar company. It is ploughing some £120m in research and development a staggering 30% of current turnover with the ambition to be making a steady 4,000 cars a year from 2017. By the end of this year it will have launched four new cars as many as it has in its history to date with the second quarter of next year seeing the 540C, an even more affordable version of the 570C. That idea of affordability


But Melville also concedes that it is, perhaps, an odd time to be pitching the idea of an everyday super-car when the future of very high performance cars on the road is, according to some, in serious doubt their status value diminished after a global economic crisis, their environmental credentials highly questionable and, yes, as premium SUV sales indicate, their utility in a world finding increasing appeal in getting about as easily as possible rather than as fast as possible looking to make them look like four-wheeled dinosaurs. Yet he still sees a place for them. “These are complex issues a lot of tech that makes mainstream cars more efficient filters down from the super-car world, and there will in time be a fully electric super-car no doubt,” may be relative, but the shift in gears certainly means that McLaren is set to become a more high-profile name on the roads rather than just the race track. The company, which in 2015 saw its second year of profitability, says some 1,000 orders for the 570S have been placed to date, mostly to customers new to the marque. “Part of the intention with the 570S is to make McLaren much more visible and in doing so lay a foundation for the future of what is still a young company,” explains Melville. “McLaren already has wide appeal as a name. This guy serving in a shop in New York told me the other day that he loved driving the P1, which left me confused for a moment. But he meant in a video game. It was his favourite car. So the brand is already reaching different people in different ways.”


getting greener, more practical, and will show that their impact can be positive.” Certainly the 570S makes its impact felt in the driving, right down thanks to a re-engineered exhaust manifold to the cleaner, more Formula 1 engine note. If, despite the car’s light weight just 1,313kg dry it feels solid and assured in its normal driving mode (good for that supermarket run then) it is an altogether different animal in its ‘active’ mode: nimble, responsive, nippy but rooted too never so super that the everyday driver feels out of control in this supposedly everyday car. That is in large part too due its aerodynamics, with the 570S’s front diffuser chanelling air both above, below and to the side of the car, where the door shape allows for a smaller side air intake and thus better

“Part of the intention with the 570S is to make McLaren much more visible and in doing so lay a foundation for the future” argues Melville. “Sustainability aside there is this other key issue of the connected and autonomous car too which we’re looking at too. But part of me thinks a move away from sports and super-cars would be sad too many people love cars because they’re fun, because they feel they can engage with them, because they make you feel something. They’re not just boxes you get in to get you somewhere. That fun element does have a future. I think the era of the American muscle car with your V10, 8 litre engine is over. But cars like ours will keep

aerodynamics still. All this just happens to look good too. But that, Melville might have you believe, is just a happy accident. “For me the design aesthetic is about beautiful products that show their design. But it’s the problems we face in design, and their solutions, that create the car’s aesthetic,” he says. “Of course, there are ways of interpreting that, and some features are about balance, or catching the light in a certain way, but really the way it looks is the way it has to look. And that’s pretty good.” n



All the right notes, and all in the right order


BQ Yorkshire Editor Mike Hughes finds himself very much in tune with the thinking of Adam Cox, owner and MD of Cavendish Pianos




I’ll start at the end of my conversation with Adam Cox. His mind travelled away from the many thousands of pounds worth of polished piano perfection we had been talking about at his company’s saleroom and workshop at Bolton Abbey on the estate of their patrons, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, to find the ideal advice for entrepreneurs. “Go to a market town. Find what seems to be the busiest stall on the market and ask the person standing behind it if you can work there for free for a fortnight. You have to know both ends of a business, selling as well as making, and there is no better experience than being at the sharp end of selling, which can be a mysterious and mystical thing.” Adam’s huge experience of the music market means pianists around the world want the stunning instruments his team of six make in the workshop, pleasingly scattered with tools, shavings, pots and rack after rack of components that come together to make the fifty or so uprights they make each year. To one side is a Cavendish grand that is being shipped to an international trade fair. Its serial number is 70. These are treasured possessions going to a wide range of owners. “Adult re-learners are quite an interesting category at the moment,” Adam tells me in the barn-like former forge tucked away behind a high hedge at the side of the A59. “They have probably dabbled with pianos in the past but for one reason or another - often a teacher who has rapped them with a ruler over the back of their knuckles – they have given up and then later on in life they seek that creative outlet. “Once you recognise you are doing it for yourself and avoid this misconception that piano is played for other people, then it is extremely rewarding. Quite a lot of them will have started by buying something quite cheap and then might have played on a friend’s piano or one their teacher uses and they realise that they have been driving a pedalo while there are Ferraris out there.” Adam is an accomplished pianist himself, having surprised his parents in Shropshire with a musical gene neither of them saw coming. “We only had two records in the house, but I always remember wanting a music instrument for birthdays,” he recalls. My dad was a vet, so I suppose there was a bit of disposable income,


“They have been driving a pedalo while there are Ferraris out there”




so I got a piano when I was six or seven. “Even at university studying languages, I would always go off to some dusty old music room somewhere to play. I met my wife Charlie there and we decided to do something different, so emigrated to Bolivia where my brother was working as an ornithologist. “I couldn’t take a piano with us, so packed a flute instead. Out in Bolivia, the weather causes it to gum up, so my parents sent out some replacement pads and I really enjoyed fitting them and looking after the instrument. “When we came back to the UK I did a course in music technology at Leeds College of Music and we ran Headingley Pianos for more than 20 years, where we were the top seller for Kemble Pianos in Milton Keynes, who were already working with Yamaha.” When Yamaha took over Kemble, there had been plenty of talk about retaining an element of British manufacturing, but it was not to be and in October 2009 the manufacturing of Kemble instruments – the last commercial maker in the UK - moved to Yamaha’s factories in the Far East. A far cry from the days when Edwardian London was the mecca of piano making and there were 147 companies in Camden alone. “That was when we decided we would have a go and start up Cavendish. We were told it was a crazy idea, but I knew through 20 years of market research what we could do. I think that is quite unusual, for a manufacturer to know what it is like for a sales person and to have absolute insider knowledge of what sells and what doesn’t. “I knew that if we could build to a certain price, we would have customers. We soldiered on with the Kemble side of things, but they had brochures with beautiful bucolic scenes on them - and they were manufacturing in Indonesia. Customers felt they were having the wool pulled over their eyes. “It took us three to four years of sourcing what we needed, knowing how to assemble them and knowing what our end product would be. We do open days with Lincoln College and some training for their piano technology people on a four-year course and so we got their best and nicest people coming to us, providing a good pool of staff to choose from. “When we made our first Cavendish piano and took it to the Musikmesse exhibition in Frankfurt,

“We were told it was a crazy idea, but I knew through 20 years of market research what we could do”

alongside the Steinways and Bechsteins. It sold to a London shop and found a home from there. The dealer, Fadi Hanna, is still one of our main outlets and has been a great supporter.” Support for the Cavendish craftsmanship is widespread, from the Duke and Duchess whose family name is Cavendish, to high-profile players like jazz star Jamie Cullum The appeal of the brand is also a lot to do with its Yorkshire accent. With such a rich heritage in textiles and furnituremaking comes the felt for the piano hammers from Hainsworth in Leeds, the wood from British Hardwoods in the Dales and the metal finishing from Silchrome, also in Leeds. At the last Music Industries Association Awards Cavendish won Best Acoustic for its Contemporary 121, beating a strong shortlist that included Yamaha. “You will comfortably get 40 years’ wear from one of our pianos,” says Adam, who runs the business with his wife Charlie. “So people will often get it for themselves, but also with an eye to their children or grandchildren. It is a rarity these days to buy something with that sort of longevity, and the fact that there is British manufacturing is something people hold very dear.” Adam’s metaphor is that Cavendish makes

pianos with the same method as a builder makes homes. The builder doesn’t make the bricks and the floorboards, they source the very best of each and put them together. For instance, he has warm words for his supplier of piano cases, Bowman Fireplaces in Otley describing owner Chris Foxton as “drastically overskilled”. As Adam says, it is not “all half-moon spectacles and chisels”, but they certainly help to build a unique piano for each home, saleroom or concert hall. “Manufacturers like Yamaha have a machine that can install hammers in seconds, where it can take us two days,” says Adam. “They work to a margin, and all their pianos will be within that margin, but we can tweak and get the very best out of every material by spending time on it. It is all about lots of little things that make each piano unique.” Pride has returned to this old Bolton Abbey forge. Where once it echoed to the sounds of bellows, flame and hammers on iron, Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff now drift around the room as the hum of work continues next door. It is still a place to make things from components, only now they are prized possessions that sit happily in homes around the world. But still brought to life by craftsmen n.

PROFILE Sedburgh School


Renaissance Education for the Modern Age Andrew Fleck, Headmaster of Sedbergh School, Cumbria argues that an education without breadth is incomplete and can limit children’s lifelong opportunities School selection is ever more complex. Ninety maintained schools have a catchment radius of just 300 metres from the school gates and 46% of schools are oversubscribed. Never has there been such a scramble for school places as the population grows and the premium placed on a good education becomes ever higher. At the same time, the definition of a “good school” seems less and less clear as different types of schools proliferate. League tables give a glimpse into academic performance but tell us nothing about the personal development of pupils or the degree to which they are acquiring skills which are transferrable to the labour market. School inspection reports are bland to the point of banality or laced with jargon that renders them impenetrable to all but the most informed. So what is a “good school” or a “good education”? That definition depends on our priorities. A starting point might be to define education as the “making of the adult”. Schools contribute to this process but do not own it; parents, peers and other influences also shape the emerging adult. Academic progress, social character, physical and artistic development and attitude are the products of these various stimuli. Different schools will contribute to different degrees just as parents and social groups will influence the teenage character. The balance of influence between these groups is critical in the formation of the adult and something which parents can influence through school choice. The best schools develop skills which are relevant to the workplace; public speaking, leadership and teamwork, punctuality, presentation and reportwriting swiftly spring to mind. Sport nurtures the competitive spirit and resilience in the face of disappointment in equal measure whilst a multitude

“Aspirant vets at Sedbergh study agriculture alongside A levels in maths, chemistry, biology and physics.”

Andrew Fleck, Headmaster of Sedbergh School.

of extra-curricular experiences provide interests that may diffuse the stress of hectic business lifestyles in the future. Not only do the best schools provide the knowledge, attitude and skills for success in the workplace, they establish character traits to ensure that success is sustainable. Some schools go further, offering opportunities to blend a vocational subject with academic study. Aspirant vets at Sedbergh study agriculture alongside A levels in maths, chemistry, biology and physics whilst courses in maths, economics and psychology coupled with a vocational course in business opens up the practical as well as theoretical elements of marketing. But it is not just schools who must think creatively, the holidays present an important opportunity to parents who seek to give their children a competitive advantage in the global labour market. Universities offer Massive Open Online Courses through www. and the range of holiday study courses aimed at talented teenagers increase year-on-year. And as British schools open subsidiaries overseas the opportunity to study abroad for a year becomes a realistic proposition. We accept the rapidity of change but have we considered its impact on our children’s education?

The statement that “we are educating children for jobs which have not yet been created” challenges us to prepare our children for the workplace in an innovative and flexible manner. Yet as parents, our tendency is to protect our children from risk and to stick to the familiar territory of exam grades and traditional university education. It seems likely that this model will become a limiting, rather than liberating, educational pathway. Those who blend academic with vocational study, embrace a broad education inclusive of the arts and sport and who are bold enough to seek out distinct educational opportunities, even overseas, are more likely to learn the skills and attitudes to secure them the most rewarding opportunities in the years ahead. This is a Renaissance education for the modern age.

Sedbergh School, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5HG. 015396 20535,



Building success into your DNA



Steven Street, corporate director for the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, tells Mike Hughes about the importance of building relationships

First piece of advice: ‘Start at the top and work down’ says Steven Street, group MD of the Cubed Resourcing Partnership, based at the iconic Salts Mill at Saltaire. Our conversation about the lessons entrepreneurs can learn from the world of recruitment has started briskly. The coffee machine is on at his home, the dogs are in the other room and 52-year-old Steven is enthusiastically off and running. He is used to dealing with people at the top of the corporate ladder, either finding people to work for their companies or finding the next role for the boss himself. The strategy he uses to approach recruitment applies neatly to BQ’s world of entrepreneurialism. We all need to find the right people to work with in the right places, whether that is for a new job or to seal the first contract for the first product. “I have always found that people at the top of organisations are generally very comfortable in their own skin. They are much less defensive and less likely to try to score a point off you or wield any power,” he tells me. “The further up the food chain you go, the more receptive people are – no matter how bold the approach is or what the question is you are asking. There is a tactical argument that you should look for influencers and gatekeepers, and that is a part of a dual strategy, but I am all about building relationships at the top and history has taught me they are the people who are most generous with their knowledge and most likely to facilitate something good happening.”

And Steven believes it won’t matter what sector you have decided to work in. The business strategies and approaches you discover, adapt and adopt should stay with you. “When I sold my company Relay Recruitment in February 2011 without a clear idea of what I was going to do next, I was fortunate because quite a few people came forward and asked me if I wanted to get involved with them. What struck me was how universal a lot of business knowledge and method is. I have worked for an online travel company, an insurance company, a manufacturing company and a design company and a lot of the principles stood true. “You couldn’t shoehorn everything into every business, but those principles were there in pretty much every scenario.” By that time he had a small consulting company (being labelled as a consultant doesn’t sit easily with him, but until he can come up with

something better.....) which was rebadged as the hugely successful Hunter Wolff, and became a vehicle for other projects like Cubed. When the opportunity came he took an ‘equity for expertise’ stake in Cubed Resourcing with co-founder and multi-millionaire Rob Fleming. His starting point for what Cubed does is “there are some people out there who are just too good to be employed, so we are the bridge, the enabler of self-determination and entrepreneurship”. “If you feel that you have hit the ceiling and there is no prospect of you moving on and up in your organisation and you have that deep belief that you could make it on your own, then we are the catalyst for that,” he explains. “We are about financing that belief, securing somebody’s income in the short term and providing out of the box everything you will need from accountancy, marketing, finance,

“People at the top of organisations are generally very comfortable in their own skin. They are much less defensive and less likely to try to score a point off you or wield any power”





“When, as a 15-year-old, he was woken up on Christmas Eve morning to be told his mum had died the challenge had well and truly started”

mentorship and the legals. “We will impress on people that they will already be doing 99 % of what it takes to run their own business. I always say that it is not what’s above the door but who comes through it. It is the people who build good quality relationships and networks with their clients.” People like Steven know how people tick and it wouldn’t take long for him to know whether he was going to be able to do business with the person sitting in front of him. But what about age - does it matter that whoever is putting their future in his hands might be 26, 46, or 56? “It all comes down to the individual and the opportunity,” he says. “Is the business scaleable in whatever timeline they decide to put to it. Some people come to me and say they just feel they have another job in them. “But once you start making money and get some traction and momentum it is easy to say ‘well that’s OK’, but if you are 46 years old you still need to know what sort of money you want to make when you are 55 and see if the company has the trajectory and momentum to get there.” His own start along the business route was tough. He grew up in the deprived area of White Abbey in Bradford and was the son of a single mother. When, as a 15-year-old, he was woken up on Christmas Eve morning to be told his mum had died the challenge had well and truly started. He left school without any qualifications, eventually got a flat on his own and only began figuring out his future in his mid-20s. Once he started working he discovered a knack for gathering knowledge as he worked alongside people. He saw how business worked and that a high level of success might not be out of reach.

“I think I had a very basic instinct of security and reassurance that I was competent at most things I tried. I was experiencing some successes I had never thought possible and what followed that was belief.” His personal background is deeply rooted in his family, including four sons, two of whom have autism. His wife Vicki now runs two charities and won an award just before Christmas for securing substantial funding for a double-deck bus kitted out with a sensory area. “When I start to think about what is really important in life, I look at a piece of paper I have in my pocket which son Barney brought home from his special school. It asked the parents and children to pray for a young girl who had died over the weekend. “I keep that with me just in case things start getting out of perspective. That – and Vicki always keeps me grounded.” These are extreme credentials for someone talking about jobs and entrepreneurialism, but they prove – again – that there is no end to the number of reasons why we run our own businesses. We are driven, whether that is by tragedy, circumstance, luck, desperation, sheer talent... or a personal cocktail of those things that can lead to operations as impressive as Cubed, and its very particular approach which would certainly test the resolve of an entrepreneuer. “We have four divisions, Engineering, Electronics, Supply Chain and Manufacturing and have gone from nothing to budgeted sales this year of £5m across three trading locations,” said Steven. “Rather than being employed or running your own show, we have a hybrid in the middle, which has you incubating your new enterprise under the auspices of Cubed. So most of



what you need is already there and you run what is effectively a Cubed operation. “We would agree up front certain triggers, perhaps on operating profit or a set number of clients who stay for a certain period. If they are met we would create a new company and you would get between five and 20 % of the shares. When the next series of triggers are achieved, more shares would be issued to take you up to 49 %, with Hunter Wolff holding 51 %. “In year five – which Rob and I call the magic number – there would be enough cash on the balance sheet for you to buy our stake through an MBO.” Taking on the BQ belief in entrepreneurial DNA, this is gene-splicing. Taking the original DNA - always there but perhaps a little weak - and grafting on the required strengths and security. This gives the DNA time to establish itself and grow before it can be released fully formed. It is the perfect way to make sure you have a ‘soft landing’ when you take that first leap, but it involves a huge amount of trust in Steven and Cubed at a pivotal time for an aspiring business.

“It’s a no-brainer if you are ready for it. But we know we are not entitled to success and are not immune from failure. If your venture failed you will have learned a lot along the way which would mean you could move on to the next role”

“It’s a no-brainer if you are ready for it,” says Steven. “But we know we are not entitled to success and are not immune from failure. If your venture failed you will have learned a lot along the way which would mean you could move on to the next role.” His standards are high, and it is a key part of his role on the executive council at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation to make sure there are standards for others to meet, eventually by making recruitment firms chartered. This would be a transformational move and

would increase the trust people have in the sector because historically there has been no barrier to becoming a recruiter. “The chartered status is key – as with other chartered bodies like RICS you can only practice through qualification and you can only qualify through examination, I think that can’t come fast enough,” he says. I get the feeling Steven will get his wish soon and that the bond between his industry and its clients will be strengthened and lead to more entrepreneurial dreams moving off the drawing board. n

Oulton Hall’s £1.1 million refurbishment Oulton Hall, now a member of QHotels is an exquisite 18th century mansion, which is celebrating a £1.1 million investment in 2016. The refurbishment will aid business and leisure guests alike. The refurbishment is the latest significant investment the hotel has received since QHotels took over in November 2014.The upgrade is not restricted to one specific aspect of the hotel; ranging from new carpets, to an updated Wi-Fi service. This is perfect for the modern day guest, business traveller or leisure seeker. The bedrooms are one of the most noticeable changes to the hotel, as well as upgrading the furniture, décor and furnishings. Their refurbishment also includes: bedside USB charging points in the rooms (fantastic, if you happen to forget your plug), new safes have been fitted that are specifically designed for laptops as they include a drawer with lighting for easy access and use, upgraded LED lighting to enhance the working environment in the bedrooms for business travellers. Oulton Hall’s upgrades have created a modern feel within the hotel whilst complimenting the original features of the grand old building. When you enter Oulton Hall’s entrance,

guests enter the opulent reception area where you will be greeted by their friendly staff! The Great Hall is in the heart of the hotel and has recently been granted a brand new carpet, with wonderful golden patterns. Claire Steven, General Manager of Oulton Hall, said: “The refurbishment will benefit all the different types of guests we welcome, from hotel and spa leisure guests to business travellers and those attending conferences and events.” The outstanding investment made by QHotels - which owns Oulton Hall and 25 other hotels across the UK, including The Queens in Leeds, Aldwark Manor near York and The Midland in Manchester - is part of a bigger £50 million investment across the hotel group this year. This includes the £2.2 million in upgrading Wi-Fi access and bandwidth across the group’s

0113 2821000 | Rothwell Lane, Oulton, Leeds, LS26 8HN

26 hotels, Oulton Hall being one of those hotels. Guests have already remarked on the quicker Wi-Fi speeds at Oulton Hall, which is brilliant! David Kelly, director of IT for QHotels, said: “These improvements will ensure that we can provide a fast and reliable service today, while reassuring customers that we can also meet the technology requirements of tomorrow’s events, conferences and meetings.”



“Maybe it is just something in someone’s personality that makes people do this. It would certainly make no odds to me what I was doing – as entrepreneurs we are always looking for the next angle”

Wading and trading Mike Hughes goes down to street level to look at the flooding crisis with Neil Armstrong, chairman of Pickering in Business Boxing Day is a favourite day for many people. The mayhem of the big day is 24 hours behind you, the heating is turned up, the TV is usually OK and there are the turkey and sprout leftovers to contemplate. Perhaps a walk with the dog, and then an icy-cold plunge waist deep into dark waters trying to rescue as many people as you can as they shout from upstairs windows. That last bit may seem out of place, but not for Neil Armstrong. The plunge is how he spent his Boxing Day, as part of a mountain rescue team called out to help save residents trapped in their flooded York homes. So he doesn’t need any advice on the hazards of being an entrepreneur in Yorkshire’s flood zone. His attention is more on the cash flow than the water flow. Neil runs Trailblazer Outdoors, a clothing and kit

shop on Pickerings Market Place, just across the street from his Toy and Book Warehouse. “My mum and dad have had a business of one sort or another as far back as I can remember,” he told me. “When I was a factory manager in Suffolk I had had enough of working for other people and I think mum and dad were struggling a bit to cope as the business expanded, so I said I would come and give them a hand. That was 16 years ago. “Mum was running a dress and shoe shop, but the rag trade was drying up and the lady who ran this shop was retiring and so we took this on as a mix of clothes shop and outdoors shop. “I don’t think I was ever sure what I was going to end up doing. I enjoy working for myself, but it could have been anything. I didn’t have

a passion to be a retailer, but I found great satisfaction in something that worked because of my own ideas. “Maybe it is just something in someone’s personality that makes people do this. It would certainly make no odds to me what I was doing – as entrepreneurs we are always looking for the next angle. “Then I got a bit older and marriage and kids came along and movement within businesses became a lot harder. I’ll never be a rich man, but I live in a beautiful town in a beautiful area. I walk to work and my wife and kids see me every morning and every night. And I can walk out of my front door onto the North Yorks Moors National Park. What’s that worth?” But Neil isn’t trying to deny his entrepreneurial spirit. He thrives on the business and the need






for his mountain rescue skills. Perhaps for some people being an entrepreneur comes at a certain phase of their life, but being entrepreneurial lasts forever. “Working for yourself gives you an outlet for your mind and you get to see so many interesting people. Retirement can be boring when you have to fill 40 or 50 hours a week. My retired neighbour’s car is immaculate, but that’s hardly living a life, is it?” The story of the toyshop over the road proves the entrepreneurial spirit. Neil tells me: “I had a small unit there that I let from a Pickering business to use as an office. He relocated and the landlord said either take all of it or none of it. So we put some tents up in there and had it as a tent showroom. “But then the bottom fell out of the tent market, so we started with remainder and discount books, which went OK, so we got a few toys in as well and they went even better. “We got an account with Lego by joining the Toymaster buying group. Best business decision I ever made, because of the power it has. Lego is now 50 % of the business.” The outdoors has always been a part of Neil’s life. He has never lived in a city and intends to keep it that way. So the chance to help protect his county and its people with Mountain Rescue England and Wales was a natural one. “The Scarborough and Rydale team is on call covering the southern moors 24 hours a day, 365 day a year,” he tells me with great pride. “We get a text message via our mobile phones, but it is completely voluntary so there is no obligation to turn up. The team costs about £40,000 a year to run and every penny of that is raised by its members, along with an £80 a year subscription we pay and we get all our own fuel, food and kit. “I try to keep some of that from my missus because there is an old joke that goes ‘when I die, don’t let my wife sell my outdoor gear for what I told her it cost!’. “In York there were 20 teams from all over the country, some of whom had only just been stood down from flooding in their own towns. But that shows how quickly the conditions can

“Retirement can be boring when you have to fill 40 or 50 hours a week. My retired neighbour’s car is immaculate, but that’s hardly living a life, is it?”




change in Yorkshire. “I love it. I get off on the thrill of it and the service to the general public. Voluntary work is just so rewarding and the camaraderie means we are all a big family.” The team’s services may be in demand more and more as the freak weather becomes weekly weather, bringing danger for residents and a financial hazard for businesses. “It’s not that we’ve had one 24-hour or 36-hour period when the floods came, but we have had day after day after day of steady rain on the back of a damp second half of the summer. “August was one of the worst months for us as a business simply because of the wet and the chill. There were days in December which were warmer. “This area depends a lot on the camping and caravanning trade and it was very difficult for those people – particularly the campers – to get out. Then September tends to be the month when the older people come away on holiday. They don’t have their kids around anymore and they take advantage of the good weather and better prices. “But they didn’t come this time, either to here or around our concession shop in Dalby Forest. They just weren’t there. “Pickering was flooded in 2007 and I never thought the water would enter my premises, but the river at the back of the shop came up a couple of metres and I was knee-deep. After that happened, the council decided to manage the water before it got into the river. They felled trees to create dams, planted trees to open up the ground and allow the water to run into the land rather than off it. “They also dug an underground reservoir just north of the town to hold back the flow. I watched this being put into place and have seen the river rise, but to nowhere near the heights of 2007.” That highlighted the community feel about the town and the enthusiasm with which businesses and the people joined forces to do what they could to help. “Me and a few others wanted to make sure the Pickering businesses knew they were stronger together, and shared ideas to improve things in the town. “The first thing was to build a website, www., which was a year of hard work that is paying off now, particularly for

“I wonder where the high street will be in 10 or 20 years, but hopefully you will always want to see a product in front of you. Who’s going to buy a pair of walking boots without trying them on?” accommodation businesses. Retail is tough, but this little town has everything you need and a lot of the businesses here today were here when we started 16 years ago. “But I also bet as many as 200 businesses will have come and gone in that time, some without the people of Pickering knowing they were here at all. The challenge towns like this have is to get the message out about what businesses are here. “Loyal shops with loyal customers become part of the furniture in a good town. The independents have a uniqueness because some cities are getting stale, with all the same shops. There are some here that in their third or fourth

generation, but some kids nowadays will be attracted by e-business, but not necessarily want a shop. “I wonder where the high street will be in 10 or 20 years, but hopefully you will always want to see a product in front of you. Who’s going to buy a pair of walking boots without trying them on?” His passion for the town and pride for the part he plays in it is obvious, and thankfully longlasting. “I have no wish whatsoever to move out of Pickering, or even move out of my house,” he says. Good news for his town..... and for York if the waters return. n





01302 304200


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Bill Board’s examining the news behind the headlines Sheffield rolls out the red carpet for Tommy Judging by a recent investment, Tommy Tucker must be a movie fanatic with plenty of blockbusters to look forward to this summer. The UK’s largest independent popcorn maker and a premier supplier to the cinema industry has just snapped up an entire Sheffield business park as it braces for market demand. The company supplies popcorn and confectionary to the UK’s major cinema, retail and leisure industries, and has signed a ten-year lease on more than 41,000 sq ft of warehousing at Target Park on the North Anston Trading Estate in Dinnington, to the east of Sheffield, adjacent to the A57 and close to junction 31 of the M1 motorway. David Greg, managing director at Tommy Tucker, said: “The company is in a position to capitalise on its recent success, creating a new state of the art popcorn and bakery facility whilst adding additional storage and streamlined distribution.” The deal, brokered by the Sheffield office of Knight Frank on behalf of Bold International Properties Ltd, sees the popcorn giant take units one and two, at 21,500 and 20,000 sq ft respectively at the 2.4 acre site.

Victorian values Cober Hill Hotel and Conference Centre near Scarborough has gone back to the good old days to make sure its guests get the respect they deserve. The centre has introduced a new initiative that encompasses Victorian etiquette and engages the hotel’s employees to provide a more courteous and polite approach to guests and to each other at the former Victorian Manor house developed in 1905 by John Wilhelm Rowntree, eldest son of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree. “Our staff receive many compliments from guests and we are certainly seen as a very friendly and happy team. However, we do see

JCT backs TPT Colleagues at family motor company JCT600 have chosen to support The Prince’s Trust with the company becoming a patron of the youth charity, reflecting its own commitment by taking on more than 100 apprentices over the last three years to join its 2,300-strong team. Over the next four years, colleagues at JCT600’s Bradford head office and its 50 dealerships across the North and the Midlands will once again take part in a variety of fund-raising events as well as hosting their own charity challenges with all funds being donated to The Prince’s Trust. In addition to fundraising, the company will work closely with the youth charity, providing opportunities for colleagues to work with young people through The Trust, providing coaching and mentoring support.

in society many examples of poor behaviour and manners and this initiative is designed to remind us that there is a way to provide a polite and helpful service that will be recognised.” said general manager, Lyndsay Chamberlain. Book me a room, Lyndsay, it sounds just the sort of thing BQ readers would appreciate.

Leeds begrüßt den Deutschen Konsulat The Leeds office of national law firm, Gateley Plc, is certainly not afraid of expansion - and has recently become the base for the regional Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany. Mark Green, the Honorary Consul for Germany in the North of England, will be working for the firm on a consulting basis. In addition to

30 years’ experience as a corporate/commercial lawyer, Mark is a Public Notary, bi-lingual and dual qualified as a German Rechtsanwalt (or solicitor). By becoming the base for the consulate, the firm will offer a number of services, including dealing with all applications for fresh passports to German nationals, giving support in various distress situations, close commercial liaison with UK companies having business interests in Germany, as well as supporting German firms with subsidiaries in the North of England. Mark will be overseeing Germany-originated work coming into the UK and will be able to assist with outbound work from the UK to Germany, building on the firm’s co-ordinated international strategy.

Lazaat Hotel

Inspired in 2000, plans were put into motion to create an alternatively different experience in Hull and East Yorkshire. We are now embarking on an exciting new chapter in the history of Lazaat and here are some of the people who have helped make it all happen‌.

Kristian and Ali have been working at Lazaat for a combined total of 22 years. Working where the magic happens, they leave you wanting more!

Ben has worked with us for over 4 years now and you will find him charming our guests in our Imani Restaurant.

Lizzie is a fairly new member of the team, and only joined us a year ago this month (although it feels like she has been here much longer).

Get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

The Reception team are always available to offer a helping hand.

Woodhill Way, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, HU16 5SX 01482 847900


BQ’s business diary helps you forward plan


West and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch in Bradford with guest speakers Judith Cummins MP and Philip Davies MP 2pm at The Midland Hotel, Forster Square, Bradford, BD1 4HU. Contact 01274 206660.


Leeds & Bradford Chamber construction lunch at The Great Victoria Hotel, Bridge Street, Bradford, BD1 1JX from 12-2pm. Contact 01274 206660.


Making History for a Successful City: Sheffield’s First Heritage Conference from 12am at Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S10 2BP. Contact


Business fire safety masterclass from 9-11am at Holiday Inn Express Dearne Valley, Manvers Way, Wath Upon Dearne, Rotherham, S6 7EQ. Contact 01709 386200


Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber City Region Business Breakfast from 7.30-9.30am. Venue TBC. Contact 01709 386200


Doncaster chamber City Region Business Networking Breakfast from 7.30-9.30am at Tankersley Manor, Church Lane, Tankersley, Barnsley S75 3DQ. Contact 01302 640132



MY Network Huddersfield from 9-11.30am at Cafe Ollo, Media Centre, 7 Northumberland Street, Town Centre, Huddersfield HD1 1RL. Contact 01484 483660

York & North Yorkshire Chamber’s monthly lunchtime networking event 12am-2pm at National Centre For Early Music, St. Margaret’s Church. Walmgate York, YO1 9TL. Contact 01904 567838


Chamber construction lunch from 12-2pm at Hazlewood Castle, Paradise Lane, Hazlewood LS24 9NJ. Contact 01904 567838.


Pure Networking breakfast networking event at Leeds United Football Club, Elland Road, Leeds LS11 0ES. Contact 08455 240 240


Doncaster Business Conference 2016 from 8am to 1pm at The Legacy Centre, Unit 12, Shaw Wood Way, Doncaster DN2 5TB. Contact 01302 640132


Mid Yorkshire chamber monthly business networking meeting from 9.30-11am at National Coal Mining Museum, Caphouse Colliery, New Rd, Overton, West Yorkshire WF4 4RH. Contact 01924 311600


Bradford Chamber of Commerce learning lunch on marketing at Devere House, Vicar Lane, Little Germany, Bradford BD1 5AH. Contact 01274 206660


MY Network Wakefield from 12.30-1.30 at The Hop, 19 Bank Street, Wakefield, WF1 1EH. Contact 01924 311600


EU: In or Out Debate from West and North Yorkshire Chamber from 6pm-8pm at Yorkshire Building Society, 1 Broadgate, Leeds, LS1 8EQ. Contact 0113 247 0000/01274 772777/01904 567838


Doncaster Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey Breakfast: The EU Referendum and What it Means for Business, from 8-10.30am. Venue TBC. Contact 0114 201 8918


Doncaster Chamber’s new bi-monthly In Partnership With... event, this month with South Yorkshire Pensions Group from 8-9.30am at Castle Park Rugby Club, Armthorpe Road, Doncaster DN2 5QB. Contact 01302 640100.


Connect Gazelles on Growing your Top Line - Identifying your Market-and exploiting it, from 8.30-10am at The Quadrant, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S9 4WG. Contact 0113 337 2001

M AY 04

York & North Yorkshire Chamber’s monthly lunch from 12-2pm at Novotel York Centre, Fishergate, York, YO10 4FD. Contact 01904 567838


Sheards Business Start Up Event from 5.30-7.30pm at Sheards Accountancy, 40 New North Road, Huddersfield, HD1 5LS. Contact Sheards on 01484 5411552001

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 and please put ‘BQ events page’ in the subject heading

The diary is updated daily online at


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