ISSUE SIX: SUMMER 2014
TURNING THE TABLE Female force transforms young man’s world ANTIQUE ANARCHY The revolutionists shaking up the dustiest of trades LIVE DEBATE Which way now for city at a crossroads? HALE THE CRUSADER Flying the flag for key industry subjects ISSUE SIX: SUMMER 2014: WEST MIDLANDS EDITION
HASHTAG HEROINE Social media star Jodie Cole on her soaring success in business
BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS
WEST MIDLANDS EDITION
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BUSINESS QUARTER: SUMMER 14: ISSUE SIX There’s a different focus in this edition of BQ – women and religion. Let me explain. Women first: as a business magazine, we often end up covering the progress of various males in what’s so often considered a man’s world. But that, of course, is so old-fashioned and inaccurate. And so in planning this summer edition, I decided to make sure I had at least a hat-trick of women featured in entirely different sectors. First up is Dani Saveker, writing for our ‘As I see it’ section. Dani’s favourite toy as a child was a cash register, and after various visits to the family’s engineering firm she ended up working for Savekers. But with the recession, she was also the family boss who had to close the firm down. Dani’s put all that experience into her new career leading Families in Business, an organisation that supports companies with familial roots, offering support, advice and praise. It’s a great read, and one I hope will inspire some who are perhaps plodding along in the family firm. Next comes Jodie Cole, our star entrepreneur, who started up JC Social Media three years ago after graduation. Already – at the age of just 25 – she’s turning over six figures a year and employing three staff. And now she’s just won the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year award. What’s really captivating about Jodie is that she knows so much, at such a young age, about that subject we ‘oldies’ all need to get our heads around: social media. If nothing else, read our feature on Jodie, because you’ll definitely learn something useful on this fast-developing online subject. The third woman is one who’s really impressive in a man’s world: Cait Allen is in her third year as chief executive of the male-only
Round Table. She explains how she’s slowly evolving the Birmingham-based organisation, turning it into a charity that better reflects the 21st century. And then there came religion. “Why religion?” I hear you ask, “when this is a business magazine.” Well, you’ll find out the answer in my Business Lunch with David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham. But to give you a clue, he once worked with energy giant BP, and he’s currently the Church of England’s spokesman in the Lords on industry. How he applies his background and economic interests to today’s church – sometimes criticising the Government for its policies – makes for a fascinating read. Women and religion aside, this edition of BQ continues to provide you with the detail you just can’t read anywhere else about business and industry in the West Midlands. Aside from our news digests, we feature the success story of Simon Beckett, the man who’s turned his family’s farms into a modern business. And we offer insight into the need for design and technology in education, interviewing Martyn Hale of Bromsgrove’s HME Technology, who’s leading the national campaign to persuade Michael Gove and co. to make the subject a more core one for our children. We also take a peek at other business successes, including auctioneers Nick Davies and Will Farmer who’ve built up a great enterprise helped by the profile they each get on major TV shows. I hope you enjoy reading this edition of BQ as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Steve Dyson Editor, BQ West Midlands
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BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
CONTE BUSINESS QUARTER: SUMMER 14 TURNING THE TABLE
36 LIVE DEBATE
The challenges hindering Birmingham’s economic and social prosperity
42 HALE’S QUEST How a campaign to protect our engineering prowess is gathering pace
22 SOCIAL STAR Why young entrepreneur Jodie Cole has the world at her ﬁngertips
26 TURNING THE TABLE The pioneering woman who’s revolutionising an historic organisation
32 HAMMERING AWAY Young heads bringing a breath of fresh air to a grand old sector
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
54 BUSINESS LUNCH With oil-man-turned-Bishop, the Right Reverend David Urquhart
70 MASKED RAIDERS Meet the fun loving faces behind the hugely successful band of mask-ateers
76 REAPING REWARDS What came after the chickens and eggs for one forward-thinking food ﬁrm
26 YOUNG HEADS IN A GRAND OLD TRADE
TENTS WEST MIDLANDS EDITION
40 COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
HALE THE CRUSADER
Behind the biggest new deals and developments across the region
58 WINE With guest reviewer Dani Saveker of Families in Business Ltd
Regulars 06 BIG ISSUES John Duckers casts a critical eye over recent regional decision making
08 NEWS Who’s doing what, when, where and why here in the West Midlands
60 HIGH AND MIGHTY The SUV that packs a few surprises for one sports car fanatic
62 TROUSER TALK The return of deal-winning power suits
66 WHAT’S IN A NAIM?
The steps and lessons learned as a childhood dream became a reality
FAITH IN REGION’S ECONOMIC FUTURE
Quite a lot actually in the case of this emerging audio brand
80 BIT OF CHAT With BQ’s backroom boy Bill Borde
18 AS I SEE IT
82 EVENTS Key dates to squeeze into your diary
54 BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
>> A critical eye, by John Duckers It’s been another bad quarter for Birmingham. Headlines like ‘Terror chief to lead Trojan Horse probe’ just confirm the city’s wretched image. We’re talking about the alleged takeover of schools by hardline Islamists, said to be segregating boys and girls, with attacks on Christianity. Blackened already this year by TV’s Benefit Street, Birmingham is in crisis again with 25 schools under investigation. What’s particularly disgraceful is that these claims, still to be proved, have been around for ages yet never looked into with any intent. There’s no incentive for the Labour-led council to upset wards vital to keep them in power – with local elections taking place as this BQ goes to press. Seemingly, it’s been easier to brand whistle-blowers as racist, and so the problem has been swept under the carpet. Until now. Rightly the Government deems it so serious that it has sent in Peter Clarke, a former national co-ordinator of counter terrorism. Schools are the future – if they are poisoned there is no hope. As a city we need to know once and for all what is going on, deal with it, and move ahead.So let’s tot this up: Muslim takeovers of schools; Benefits Street; recurring child killings because Birmingham seems incapable of protecting its youngest and most vulnerable. Unemployment in the West Midlands has still risen despite joblessness dipping below 7% nationwide. Even the Aston Expressway is apparently on the point of falling down. One step forward and two steps back: new library, new railway station about to open, new Paradise Circus near, but all tarnished by the scandals which keep surfacing. To the outside world, Birmingham seems to be a byword for failure: and it will stay that way until we address the festering sores.
>> City needs to stand alone The longer I maintain a watching brief on the Birmingham business scene, the more you notice it going round in circles. Labour leader Ed Miliband recently revealed
Seemingly it’s been easier to brand whistle-blowers as racist and so the problem has been swept under the carpet plans to strip £20bn from Whitehall departments and give the funds to regions to create jobs. There was one catch: a West Midlands or ‘Greater Birmingham’ combined local authority was a pre-requisite to bid for a share of this bonanza intended to pay for transport improvements, new housing and training schemes. I could point out that, as with Lord Heseltine’s earlier promises, the chances of stripping that amount of money out of Whitehall’s civil servant and ministerial fiefdoms are not exactly high. But there’s a deeper argument: call me a cynic, but are we not just reinventing a form of Advantage West Midlands cum West Midlands County Council? Who would bet on our weak political leadership agreeing on anything and, if by some miracle they did, working together in a degree of harmony? This may be a blueprint suitable for more geographically and culturally defined
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BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
parts of the country like Manchester or Newcastle. But this is the West Midlands, which has never really existed as any sort of entity since the Dark Ages. Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country are said to be more open to putting aside their differences and creating a regional ‘super council’ focused on economic development. I can’t see it. The Black Country in particular are revelling in the autonomy their LEP has given them. Coventry & Warwickshire too have their own agenda. The most stupid thing the current Government did was get rid of AWM. The Greater Birmingham LEP is all hot air, with the donkey work done by the city council. Instead of actions all we get is endless promises on jobs which disappear like dandelion seeds on the wind. Birmingham should build its own future, succeed or fail on its own merits, instead of constantly pleading for government handouts. Sir Albert Bore: take note. What do you think? Let the editor know via firstname.lastname@example.org
Reinventing our railways - The University of Birmingham is on track The University of Birmingham has been involved in railway research and development projects in Britain and around the world for many decades and is working extensively with industry on the challenges of the sector. For the past ten years, these activities have been delivered by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) BCRRE is a leading interdisciplinary centre, with world recognised expertise and facilities that allow it to conduct research into most aspects of railway technology and performance. Within this, for example, they are currently investigating data architecture and models for future European train control systems and are supporting Network Rail with traffic management investment decisions. In addition they are working closely with the UK Department for Transport on improved methods for analysing railway capacity and novel technologies. The Centre is also working in collaboration with industry to address the energy concerns of main line and metro railway networks, investigating alternative power and traction systems and optimising efficient operations in all parts of
The University is also working in collaboration with industry to address the energy concerns of main line and metro railway networks, investigating alternative power and traction systems and optimising efficient operations
Laser based track inspection trolley at the University of Birmingham
TAPPING INTO THE RAIL EXPERTISE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM The Centre’s Rail expertise covers research in aerodynamics; asset management; condition monitoring; environmental change; geotechnical engineering; materials and metallurgy; modelling and computing; network capacity engineering; non-destructive testing; power and traction; risk and safety management; signalling and train control and systems engineering. If you are interested in working with The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, contact our Business Engagement Team. They can help you to navigate your way through the funding opportunities that may be available for your organisation. The ABIA project (Accelerating Business/Knowledge Base Innovation Activity) is one such funding mechanism and will support a comprehensive and flexible service to regional SMEs. Working across a range of science and technology disciplines, the project will provide: • Research and consultancy support to explore and define the R&D and innovation needs of your company • Free research assistance of up to two days with a piece of research to advance your company’s technology or plans to develop a product or service with options for more extended projects • Support to companies to develop collaborative funding proposals with the University
railways through the use of advanced simulation technology, for both existing systems and proposed new generation systems. BCRRE offers a wide range of short courses and postgraduate programmes, including taught Masters and doctoral studies. The postgraduate programmes are available on both a full-time and distance learning basis. Recently, the Centre has developed undergraduate programmes in Civil and Railway Engineering and in Electrical and Railway Engineering and are looking for industry support to sponsor students enrolling on these programmes.
For more information please contact: Mr Richard Fox, Business Engagement Partner College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. University of Birmingham. T: +44(0)121 414 8921
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Mixed fortunes on the forecourts, SME fund opens up, Broad Street BID goes west, Birmingham shines in quality study, Waterfront move pays off and funding boost drives R&D push >> Accelerated sales for some Car makers Jaguar Land Rover and MG both enjoyed an April boost in new car registrations - but Aston Martin posted a fall. The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that 1,209 new Jaguars were registered in April 2014, up from 1,080 last April, while 4,381 Land Rovers were registered, up from 3,483. MG sales massively rose to 221 in the same month, against just 13 in 2013, thanks to the new MG3 super mini. But Aston Martin, which recently announced sales had passed £500m for 2013, saw their April sales 40% down, from 98 to 58. Nationally, the SMMT said there were 176,820 new vehicles registered in April – an 8.2% rise on 2013.
>> SME fund opens up Over 130 manufacturers from the West Midlands were urged to tap into a £1.89m funding pot as part of the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s Supply Chain Conference at RAF Cosford. Manufacturing SMEs from across the region were given an insight into the support available between now and March 2015, with the view to helping them enter new markets, encourage innovation, boost international trade and create new jobs. Firms can access a host of grants that range from small improvement plans to £10,000 of funding towards major transformational projects that have the potential to achieve 20% growth. Delegates heard how nearly £500,000 had already been committed to 80+ firms and the total assistance has the potential to safeguard or create in excess of 1,200 jobs.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
MAS director Lorraine Holmes said: “MAS wants to ensure that SMEs are aware of these opportunities and, more importantly, are in a position to take advantage of them. This may involve making them more competitive, helping increase capacity, upskilling both the workforce and management team, even helping companies with relocation.”
>> Business stars shortlisted Twenty-nine entrepreneurs have been shortlisted in EY’s Midlands Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 awards. Between them, the 23 firms they represent have grown their businesses by 27% in the last year, with a combined £1.1bn of revenue and 6,422 employees. The final will be held on 17 June at Opus restaurant, Birmingham, before winners compete for EY’s UK Entrepreneur Of The Year
and a chance to represent their country at global awards in 2015. This year’s Midlands’ finalists are: Jeremy Nesbitt, Affordable Warmth Solutions; Steve Morris, APSU; Willie Paterson, Asset Alliance; Mark Kerridge, Benson Box Co; Brian Murray, Boss Design Group; Ian Andrews, Dee Set; Martyn Rees and Will Rees, Direct Online Services; Jonathan Short, ECO Plastics; Wayne Martin, GCI; Alan Barratt and Juliet Barratt, Grenade; Karl Hick, Larkfleet Group; Peter Davenport, Motiva Group; Michael Lilley, My Time CIC; Guy Mucklow and Jamie Turner, Postcode Anywhere; John Sutton and David Whitehouse, Pure Staff; Nigel Curry, Rhead Group; Stuart Bell, Right Track Social Enterprise; Andy Pendlebury, RTC Group; Andy Metcalfe and Steve Speller, Speller Metcalfe; Jean Jarvis, MBE, The Furniture Scheme; Michael Parry, Torus Measurement Systems; Adam Shaw, Uniting Ambition; and Craig Errington, Wesleyan Assurance Society.
>> Coffee queen on stage The Birmingham entrepreneur who made her name selling coffee machines to the Italians is making an appearance at the Rep Theatre in May. Fracino founder Angela Maxwell, now MD of the business support organisation, Acuwomen, has been invited to address an audience of personal assistants and executive assistants. The networking event, organised by Key Recruitment, is dubbed PA:PM, given its target sector, and as it starts at 5-30pm. Key’s effervescent owner and MD, Mary Hendry, says more than 40 people have already signed up for the session, which includes a look-behind-thescenes at the recently redeveloped Rep.
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>> Clogg steps up a gear Cloggs, the Birmingham-based online retailer of branded footwear owned by JD Sport, has appointed Richard Moore as head of e-commerce to drive growth of its redesigned cloggs.co.uk site. Previously, Richard was head of international for Mobile Fun, an online retailer of mobile phone and tablet accessories.
>> Broad Street goes west >> Five star champion Damson Homes has won its fifth consecutive ‘Built in Quality Award’ for The Robins, its new build development in Hall Green, Birmingham. The team were named winners at the Celebrating Construction 2014 Awards by the LABC (Local Authority Building Control), which encourages and rewards excellent building standards and innovation. Damson’s business manager, Dean Chu, who recently featured as a BQ Entrepreneur, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award. It’s been a smashing year for us and we can only raise the bar higher.”
>> Marketing move The ICC Birmingham is extending its marketing operations to a new location next year – within the giant £150m super-casino and leisure complex being built alongside the LG Arena. Resorts World Birmingham, due to open in early 2015, will have almost 540,000 sq ft of space across seven floors, including a 170-bed hotel, 45 designer outlets and an 11-screen cinema, plus bars and restaurants. ICC managing director Nick Waight says the Vox Conference Centre will be ideally placed, able to accommodate any size of event up to a 900-delegate conference, and with immediate access to leisure and retail options.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Birmingham’s Broad Street BID (Business Improvement District) is set to change its name to Westside BID after almost 10 years of operation. Each BID needs its mandate to be renewed every five years by companies, traders and organisations based in its area, and Broad Street’s current term expires in November. Its PR manager Nichole Samuels said around 300 ballot papers will go out, asking if the BID should continue. Another ‘Yes’ vote would see the name change to Westside BID. She added: “Our district stretches from Five Ways to Baskerville House, and we believe the new name more accurately reflects its geography and scale.”
>> Double deal for fizz firm The champagne house which pioneered ‘pink fizz’ has signed a three-year deal with two of Birmingham’s most popular city centre venues. Laurent-Perrier is now an official sponsor of both Symphony Hall and the Grade 1-listed Town Hall, and the former will have an exclusive champagne gallery for the pleasure of corporate and private guests. The house’s UK sales director, Steve Brandwood, said the two venues together attract more than 500,000 guests each year.
>> High growth hotbed The Midlands has the UK’s highest proportion of high-growth companies with 26% considered high-growth, according to the latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index report. This represents a 54% increase in the year to March 2013 – the second highest percentage growth of any UK region after Wales, which saw a 66% rise in high-growth companies. This was also ahead of the North West (44%) and East Anglia (42%). Paul Keiser, regional director, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management in the Midlands, said: “The findings confirm that the economic recovery in the Midlands is gathering pace. It’s very positive to see that as a region we lead the way.”
>> Trifast’s Italian job Trifast, the Black Country manufacturer of fastening systems, has expanded its global reach with the £22.5m purchase of an Italian company. The Waterside Park, Wednesbury-based company is buying Viterie Italia Centrale (VIC), from near Perugia, which it said would strengthen its presence in the domestic appliance market. VIC makes highly engineered parts, with clients including white goods manufacturers such as Whirlpool and Electrolux. Malcolm Diamond, Trifast’s executive chairman, said the acquisition represented an excellent strategic fit for Trifast.
>> City shines in quality study Birmingham has the highest quality of life of any UK city outside of the capital, according to the Mercer Quality of Living Report 2014. The city was placed jointly with Rome, seeing off global competition from hotspots Los Angeles and Dubai. Birmingham and Rome were ranked in 51st place. Its nearest UK rivals included Glasgow (54th), Aberdeen (56th) and Belfast (63rd).
EY ITEM Club Spring forecast - Long low inflation expansion on the horizon EY ITEM Club’s latest quarterly forecast says the UK is set to experience a long period of low inflation expansion as the economic recovery moves on to a firmer footing The EY ITEM Club’s Spring forecast says the UK will see growth of 2.9% this year as favourable labour market factors create “decent but unspectacular growth” underpinned by low inflation. Consumer spending will continue to lead the recovery boosted by wage increases of 1.7% this year – overtaking forecasted inflation of 1.6%. The report predicts that earnings growth will continue to steadily pick-up as the demand for labour strengthens and skills shortages appear in some sectors. At the same time, slowdown in the emerging markets will put downward pressure on commodity prices. The forecast predicts growth exceeding inflation on a sustained basis, after six years of falling real wages. With inflation under control and a stronger pound, the forecast predicts that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will keep interest rates on hold at 0.5% until the third quarter of 2015 – at which point rates will rise very gradually. MORTGAGE MARKET REVIEW KEEPS LID ON HOUSING MARKET The simmering housing market will be dampened as caution by lenders, tighter lending criteria and an increase in house building will cool prices, preventing an unsustainable boom. The forecast predicts prices will rise by 7.4% this year and 7.2% next year, easing back to 4.2% in 2016 as the mortgage guarantee scheme ends. Crucial to keeping the lid on the market, the report argues, will be the role of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). EY ITEM Club warns that the FCA must use their recently gained macro-prudential tools to ensure that the income multiples of borrowers do not become too stretched. The forecast predicts their policing of income multiples in London, which remains the main constraint to purchases in the capital, will help avert a housing bubble. This will work alongside new construction orders to help prevent house prices overheating.
Chris Voogd, Midlands Partner Sponsor, EY ITEM Club
Opportunities for exporters will improve – shown by predicted growth in export volumes by 5.3% this year UK CLOSE TO TOPPLING GERMANY FOR HIGHEST EMPLOYMENT IN G7 While the MPC has dropped the explicit link with unemployment in its forward guidance, the report forecasts the UK will come close to meeting the Chancellor’s target for the highest rate of employment in the G7. The forecast predicts that the employment rate will increase from 71.2% of 16 – 64s in work last year, to 73.7% in 2017. This might be enough to put the UK at the top of the G7 table, which was topped by Germany at 73.3% rate last year. The report predicts the unemployment rate will continue its descent, falling to 6.5% by the end of the year and 6% by the end of 2015, down from 7.1% currently. BUSINESS INVESTMENT STRIKES BACK Business investment is also set to strike back, with growth hitting 9.1% this year, helped by the low cost of capital, high levels of cash in company
coffers and growing confidence in boardrooms. Business investment – which will boost productivity and support real wage growth – will increase by 9.1% followed by 8.3% in 2015 with growth rates of around 7% by 2016. Alongside business investment, opportunities for exporters will also improve – shown by predicted growth in export volumes by 5.3% this year, followed by 5.9% in 2015. Businesses face a difficult balancing act in the new high employment, low inflation environment: the low inflation environment presents a difficult challenge for businesses with a drive towards downward pressure on prices. It makes it difficult for businesses to put up end user prices and should force a reassessment at what growth assumptions and pricing strategies are in place. Meanwhile in a growing labour market, private sector wages are improving and shortages are appearing, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing. This presents an opportunity for businesses to ensure they have they got their people strategy and business investment right. EY’s annual UK attractiveness survey analyses the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects into the UK, and provides insights into international business leaders’ perceptions of the UK as a place to invest. The survey is widely recognised by Government and the media as an important source of information on inward investment patterns. Our 2014 report will be launched on Tuesday 27th May.
Chris Voogd can be contacted on 0121 535 2064 www.ey.com/uk/economics @EY_ITEMClub #EYITEM
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
>> JS lands care deal
>> Best of the bookkeepers Haines Watts, the national accountancy firm that has five offices in the West Midlands, has been declared ‘Accountancy Firm of the Year – SMEs’ at the annual FDs’ Excellence Awards. It’s the third year running that the firm, which has regional offices in Birmingham, Hereford, Worcester, Tamworth and Wolverhampton, has won an Excellence Award – having been declared Auditor of the Year for the past two years. Haines Watts beat competition from other UK firms including Baker Tilly, BDO, Deloitte, Grant Thornton and KPMG. Henry Briggs, senior partner at Haines Watts’ Birmingham office, said: “The significance of these awards is that they are voted on by the client base – and not an academic panel of experts.”
>> Waterfront move pays off The recovery in Birmingham’s city centre residential market is well underway for home-buyers and investors, says Maguire Jackson. With offices in Sheepcote Street and in the Jewellery Quarter’s George Street, director Philip Jackson decided a third outlet was needed in January, on Waterfront Walk, to tap into renewed buoyancy in the market a move which has certainly paid off. He says: “Sales and lettings are both up sharply, with turnover up 40% since 2008.”
Birmingham building services firm J S Wright is to fit out a new £7.2m extra care scheme for older people in West Bromwich. Thomas Vale, a Bouygues UK company, has awarded the Astonbased company the contract, worth more than £800,000, to design and build the mechanical services for the 83-flat development in Dial Lane for social housing group Housing 21. The flats will be available for affordable rent or purchase on a shared ownership basis when completed in March 2015.
>> Free upskilling on offer Bournville College has been granted £7m of European Funding to offer free courses to support new training for staff at local firms. The European Union European Social Fund cash has been secured by Bournville on behalf of nine colleges across Birmingham, and can be used for staff aged 19 plus at businesses with 250 fewer full time equivalent employees. Bournville aims to train 10,000 individuals, alongside the other colleges in the region, through short one and two-day courses, as well as offering full qualifications.
>> Applications deadline Entrepreneurs have until 27 June to apply for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme - innovative and fully funded , it is designed to unlock the economic and job creation potential of small businesses and social enterprises from across the Midlands. The programme is delivered by Aston Business School in partnership with the
ONLiNe: Read the latest news and views from the West Midlands business community every day by visiting our website: www.bq-magazine.co.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Goldman Sachs Foundation and it is targeted at business owners who have clear ambitions to expand their small businesses or social enterprises. The aim of the programme is to provide participants with practical tools and resources to help them lay the foundation for long term sustainable growth and job creation in their businesses. This support includes twelve high quality, practicallyfocussed business and management education modules, delivered by Aston Business School, plus a range of other tailor-made services including specialist workshops and one to one business support. A preview event about the programme, which aims to help small businesses expand, is at The Studio, Cannon Street, Birmingham on 3 June. www.10ksb.aston.ac.uk/events Further information about the programme can be found at www.aston.ac.uk/10ksb or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 0121 204 3225.
>> Factory fortunes rising Small business optimism among manufacturers is at its highest level since records began in 1988, a new survey shows. Total orders and output are also up, according to the CBI’s latest SME survey covering the three months to April, with job numbers up and expected to grow at a faster pace. UK orders also rose strongly and export orders bounced back from a fall in the previous quarter, according to the survey of 366 SME manufacturers. Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, said the report was “very encouraging”. She added: “Hiring is also on the up, and is set to strengthen as we look ahead into 2014.” The survey found 46% of firms were more optimistic regarding their business situation, while 10% were less optimistic, giving a balance of 36% - the highest on record since October 1988.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
>> Picture perfect
>> New leaders at Lloyds
Eye-catching pictures of Birmingham’s spectacular new library have helped a local photographer gain international recognition. Richard Ellis, who specialises in architectural and interior shots of buildings of all kinds, has been awarded a Licentiateship by the British Institute of Professional Photography. Even in the age of digital, Richard – who describes himself as “happily obsessed” by his chosen career – sometimes uses a large format film camera, which he considers to be still the best for quality, composition and definition. He works throughout the UK, from his Birmingham base, and recent customers include construction industry manufacturer Kingspan, the Royal Albert Hall and Willmott Dixon.
Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking has appointed Oliver Morris as regional director and Dan Paterson as director of its Strategic Finance Team in the West Midlands. The pair will support Lloyds Bank’s 28-strong West Midlands’ mid-markets team, working alongside regional managing director David Richardson. Before joining Lloyds Bank in 2009, Oliver spent eight years in senior corporate finance roles with both Ernst & Young and FTI. Dan spent 14 years of his career with Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Services team in Birmingham.
>> VAT man steps in Birmingham accountancy firm Clement Keys has appointed Adam Lloyd as its new director of VAT. Adam, who has 25 years experience including 12 years at KPMG and a stint at HMRC, has specific knowledge of the healthcare, financial services, not-for-profit and corporate finance sectors.
>> New partners named Worcestershire law firm Thomas Horton LLP has appointed Tina Circus, head of wills, trusts & probate, and Lisa Johnson, head of property services, as partners. Tina has been at the firm for three years and as a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners, she specialises in trusts, estate tax planning, probate administration and wills. Lisa joined Thomas Horton last year and works on local and national commercial property
>> Cameron’s new role Cameron Thomson has been appointed as a senior surveyor in the offices team at real estate company Cushman & Wakefield in Birmingham. Cameron was previously with Deloitte Real Estate in Birmingham.
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Compere Naga Munchetty, judge Paul Bleasdale, Jodie Cole, and judge Steve Hollis
>> Jodie comes out on top Jodie Cole, founder of JC Social Media, has become the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) for 2014. Jodie, who also won the Marketing and Communications category in the BPS Birmingham Future awards, set up her social media agency in 2011, and is a co-founder of Clever Tykes, a set of children’s storybooks introducing entrepreneurial role models. Suzie Branch, chair of BPS Birmingham Future, said: “Jodie hugely impressed with her refreshing attitude and really shone out as a person we believe will inspire other young professionals in the city.” Other category winners included: HR, Recruitment and Training – Tony Bates, of IDEX Consulting; Financial Services – Jemal Omar, of Handelsbanken; Legal – Laura Cashmore, of DLA Piper; Property and Construction – Marianne Horton, of Barratt & David Wilson Homes; and Technology – Chris Pyatt, of Class Creative. * Read more about Jodie’s business in BQ’s Entrepreneur feature in this issue on page 22.
>> Heidi back after hiatus Heidi Menin has rejoined Lodders Solicitors in Stratford-upon-Avon more than 30 years after she first started there. Heidi began her career in 1983 as an office junior, and now returns as a conveyancing executive. She left in 1988, working for solicitors in Stratford, Shipston-on-Stour and a spell in the East of Scotland.
>> Team building DTZ has appointed Derek Lawrence as director and Alan Vandrill as senior surveyor in its project and building consultancy team in Birmingham. Derek, who has more than 16 years experience in the design, installation and commissioning of services installations in most sectors, will input on various building services – including the impact of the forthcoming Energy Act. Derek joins from Ove Arup & Partners where he spent 10 years working on high profile schemes including Birmingham’s Snowhill and Paradise Circus designs.
>> Handlebars and heroes A Midlands accountant and his wife will join 300 other cyclists in the ‘Big Battlefield Bike Ride’ in aid of Help for Heroes. Dave Darlaston, partner at the Midlands office of Crowe Clark Whitehill, and Anne will pedal from Brussels to Paris in June to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. Visit www.bmycharity.com/DaveDarlaston, and www.bmycharity.com/darlo50th to donate.
>> Walk on the wild side Yardley-based accountancy firm James, Stanley & Co is planning to swap the urban jungle of Birmingham for the leafy Forest Of Dean for this year’s St Basil’s walk. More than 200 people in 40 teams have already registered for the 14 June event, each facing either a 13-mile or 26-mile challenge in aid of Birmingham’s youth homelessness charity.
GIVING SOMETHING BACK
>> A cracking good time Millennium Point treated children from Birmingham Children’s Hospital to an egg-filled Easter party at The Giant Screen this Easter. The event included a free screening of popular family film, Despicable Me 2, featuring the voices of Steve Carrell and Russell Brand, a ‘teddy bears’ picnic’ and nearly 1,000 chocolate eggs that had been donated by staff and local businesses.
>> Long distance star Katherine Burge, a solicitor with Stratfordupon-Avon based Lodders, is counting the cash – plus the aches and pains – after completing the London Marathon. In her first, and “definitely last”, marathon
she finished the gruelling 26 miles 385 yards distance in 5 hrs 5 mins, raising more than £3,800 for the Heart of England Community Foundation.
>> Dragons help Harry Birmingham’s 2014 Dragonboat charity boat race has set a fundraising target of £50,000 for the children’s brain cancer charity, HelpHarryHelpOthers. The 28 June event – organised by Brindleyplace along with sponsors Deutsche Bank – has raised £315,000 for local charities since it started in 2000. The competitive race will take place along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at Brindleyplace attracting high-profile businesses taking part in 20 teams – made up of between 10 and 16 rowers and one drummer – in traditional Chinese longboats. For more details visit www.brindleyplace.com.
A MAJOR EVENT TO INSPIRE, MOTIVATE & SHARE BUSINESS SUCCESS
EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR DINNER 2014 Entrepreneur MADE The Festival: Sheffield
West Midlands: 25th June, The Great Hall, University of Birmingham
BQ Magazine continues to support and encourage entrepreneurship across the UK. Our mission is to recognise and celebrate the contribution that entrepreneurs make to our economy, whilst encouraging and motivating others to succeed in business. The BQ West Midlands Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner is being held in conjunction with MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival 2014, the UK’s largest annual festival of entrepreneurship. Be inspired, gain practical advice and celebrate as our successful entrepreneurs and emerging talent tell their story. Join BQ and BBC Home News Editor Mark Easton for an evening of chat, celebration and recognition.
Join us for an inspiring evening in celebration of entrepreneurship Book your place now by contacting email@example.com or call Kirsty Tarn or Rachael Laschke on 0191 426 6300
Every day I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to work on ideas and things I am truly passionate about, with people I respect. Since the day I started I feel like I’m learning huge amounts each and every day - that’s so rewarding. Making the choice to start a business was the single best decision I’ve made. NICK HOLZHERR, CEO - WHISK.COM
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>> Flybe’s Birmingham expansion plan soars Airline Flybe has further bolstered its presence at Birmingham airport with a string of new flight launches ahead of the summer season Porto, Alicante, Bordeaux, Palma, Toulouse and Newquay. Paul Simmons, Flybe’s chief commercial officer, said: “These new routes mark our major expansion at Birmingham. Flybe is committed to helping develop and expand the regional economies within which it operates.” Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive, added: “These new routes are key to many of the local businesses in the area. Flybe’s new routes now offer passengers even more choice from their local Airport.” With 12 aircraft now based at the airport, Birmingham has become Flybe’s largest base, operating 32 routes this summer with up to 381 return flights a week. As well as the eight new routes, Flybe has also announced three new ‘twilight’ routes to party destinations Ibiza, Palma and Reykjavik with late evening flights three times a week in the height of summer on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday evenings.
Flybe’s Peter Mathews, Paul Willoughby, Mandy Haque and Beatrix Troger Flybe’s eight new European routes have taken off from Birmingham Airport. Various business leaders joined the first inaugural flight to Cologne/Bonn on the
carrier’s distinctive Bombardier Q400 signature purple aircraft. Other inaugural flights marked the new daily service to Florence and regular services to
The new routes are key to many of the local businesses in the area
>> Five star boost to Birmingham Tour operator Thomson and First Choice has announced five new European and African routes from Birmingham Airport from the summer of 2015. The project will add a total of 37,000 additional flights to Agadir, Morocco; Chania, Greece; Djerba, Tunisia; the Portuguese island of Porto Santo; and Sal, Cape Verde. Extra weekly flights will also be introduced on existing routes to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kefalonia, Greece; Antalya, Turkey and Paphos, Cyprus. Karen Switzer, director of aviation planning for Thomson and First Choice, said: “Adding additional capacity from the Midlands and the introduction of five brand new routes demonstrates our commitment to Birmingham Airport and the local area. “We know that the demand is there and expanding access to our portfolio of destinations is a key part of our overall strategy.” William Pearson, Birmingham Airport’s aviation development director, added: “Thomson is our largest tour operator so we’re extremely pleased to see it expanding its programme further from Birmingham in 2015.”
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>> Monthly surge recorded Birmingham Airport recorded its busiest April ever with more than 750,000 passengers passing through its terminals – a 16.7% increase on the same month last year. Latest figures reveal the Airport handled 758,456 passengers in April, beating its previous record for the month set in 2009 by 5.7%. The record-breaking month also saw a major rise in the number of passengers flying on long-haul services from Birmingham, up by 20.9% compared to April last year. Scheduled routes that saw the biggest increase last month were Jersey (+173.2%), Fuerteventura (+132.1%), Stuttgart (+98%), Arrecife (+78.2%) and Faro (+77.6%). Charter services to Malta (+100%), Portugal (+100%) and Italy (+90.6%) also experienced significant growth. Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive, said: “This demonstrates the strong demand that exists for flights to and from Birmingham and the progress we have made over the past 12 months. A strong performance in April is the perfect way to enter the summer season, a period which will also see Birmingham become the first UK airport outside of London to offer direct charter flights to China, as well as new flights to Porto, Cologne, Florence, Ibiza, Malta and Athens, among others.”
>> Airport jobs to hit new heights Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the news that 8,000 jobs will be created in the Midlands as Birmingham Airport expands to cope with increased demand. On a visit to the airport, the Prime Minister heard that 4,000 jobs would be created at the airport itself and a further 4,000 across the supply chain by 2020, helped by the new runway extension. Mr Cameron watched the final lights being fitted on the runway extension by engineering apprentices, who have gained full-time employment as a direct result of the infrastructure project. He said: “The announcement of 8,000 jobs from Birmingham Airport is more great news.” Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive, added: “The main driver for this growth is the runway extension. By 2020, based on today’s demand, Birmingham Airport is forecast to handle 15 million passengers a year, an increase of six million. This passenger growth will generate an additional 4,000 jobs on-site and a further 4,000 in the immediate supply chain.” The longer runway will allow aircraft fly to long-haul to emerging economies such as Brazil and China, as well as tourist hotspots like the West Coast of the USA. The runway extension is just one part of a long-term investment programme, worth over £300m at the airport. The earlier stages have already delivered a new combined terminal, a new maintenance hangar for larger aircraft and a modern air traffic control tower.
>> Breaking the nine million barrier Birmingham Airport has been voted top in an overall satisfaction survey by the consumer magazine Which? The airport beat its peers all over the country in a vote by rail users. Virgin Trains, which operates the service from New Street to the Airport, achieved the highest score in the poll with 87% of customers liking the low fare of £2.40 for a single journey. Customers also complimented luggage space, cleanliness and comfort of the trains. The survey also highlighted the dissatisfaction for the rail services of the three UK capital’s major air hubs with passengers expressing displeasure around price. The Gatwick Express charges £19.90 for a one way ticket, The Heathrow Express charges £21.00 for a single fare but the Stansted Express tops the charts with £23.40 for a single ticket. John Morris, public affairs director at Birmingham Airport, said: “Coming out on top with the highest rating and beating our competitors in overall satisfaction ensures that passengers accessing Birmingham Airport by train really are getting value for money.”
Philip Ashwell with Richard Gill
>> New visa tie-up agreed Birmingham Airport has teamed up with The Travel Visa Company, a global visa specialist. The 12-month partnership means The Travel Visa Company is the preferred supplier of business and tourist visas for Birmingham travellers, giving passengers access to the correct documentation needed when visiting countries that require visas. Services will include collecting visas directly from embassies and delivering them to corporate and commercial travellers. Richard Gill, head of commercial at Birmingham Airport, said: “Birmingham Airport’s range of long-haul destinations has been steadily growing and the opening of our runway extension will allow aircraft to fly direct to the Americas, Africa and Asia. “By working with The Travel Visa Company we can offer a specialist visa service for those that require it to make life easier when flying from Birmingham Airport.” With important changes to Turkish visas, the new partnership will also assist holidaymakers visiting Turkey with purchasing the required visa before travelling. Philip Ashwell, head of sales at The Travel Visa Company, said: “Our job is to do all the hard work for customers and by offering our services to those travelling from Birmingham Airport we can help eliminate the stresses that the lengthy visa application process entails.”
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AS I SEE IT
BABY STEPS TO BIG SUCCESS
Dani Saveker remembers ‘playing business’ and visiting her family’s firm as a child. This led to her tenure as guardian of the family empire, and drove her creation of an organisation dedicated to supporting family businesses. Here she shares the lessons she’s learned along the way
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I always wanted to run my own business. Why, I have no idea, but it’s one of my earliest, clearest memories. I played business rather than with dolls, and as a painfully shy five year old remember my delight when given an adding machine. While reasonably good at all subjects at school, I wasn’t amazing at anything apart from working hard, something I applied to my escapes – ice skating and ballet. Although reserved, I was driven and ambitious, and outspoken about things I was passionate about. Alongside ice skating, a feature of my childhood was growing up in a family that ran a business. Despite my love of business, I was never destined to join the firm – it was my mother’s family’s business, a traditional metalwork manufacturer founded by my great grandfather in 1903. The signs were clear; its name was T Saveker and Sons Ltd. I vividly remember visiting the business to see my great uncle, grandfather and uncle; well, my mother would see them while I disappeared into the factory, which was far more exciting. Several years later and a Product Design and Marketing graduate, I set about finding a job. This was tougher than expected and my third cousin, now managing director of the family business, offered me a temporary project, which six months on, turned into a full-time role. In 1997, I was given the chance to run the shop floor. I seized this opportunity and developed my understanding of the business and manufacturing, learning to weld, electroplate, anodise, fabricate, operate a CNC and water-jet, and polish metal. This was a fantastic time, but it became clear this historic business had little in the way of efficient manufacturing, sales or business development techniques. I wanted a change for the better and so, with a plan to improve production, which the board approved, I became production director. A month on I recall a series of heated meetings between my uncle, his adopted son and the managing director. These ended abruptly, then, as the most junior member of the family and
board, I was called to the office. The managing director said he no longer wished to continue leading the family business and it was to be sold. My response was swift. I told him I thought it was the right thing for him, adding: “I’ll buy it.” I was given a week. I presented my case and plan, including restructuring the board and with it redundancy for my uncle and his son. The shareholders agreed and unanimously voted me managing director. But before the management buy-out was completed, the business suffered a major fire caused by a faulty thermostat in the plating line. Production was wiped out. The new management team rallied, and the first orders were dispatched 48 hours later, despite the building being without a roof. The MBO was completed around the company’s 100th birthday and optimism was high. But in late 2008, the recession took hold and combined with the 40-year legacy of restricted growth, outdated structures and spiralling costs, the business was struggling. On 10 March 2009 I delivered a speech to the workforce I grew up with that will stay with me forever: “On behalf of my great grandfather and whole family past and present, it’s with regret that despite every possible effort, I am having to close the doors for the final time.” The company was put into voluntary administration. I turned off the life support and allowed it to fade with dignity. The experience left me with a clear personal purpose – to make sure others in family businesses wouldn’t feel isolated as I did at such a difficult time, but instead, have a team that understands the professional and personal challenges. At Savekers, I realised, I had actually been the
AS I SEE IT
guardian of my great grandfather’s dream; I wanted to use this legacy to realise my own dream. I launched Families in Business in 2012; it provides family and owner-managed businesses with the necessary understanding and support with their everyday challenges, so they can build resilience, focus, value and fulfilment. I often look back on my journey from childhood ice dancer to business leader, and see parallels with these lessons in business: 1. Purpose: Be motivated and know your personal purpose. 2. Love: Love what you do; don’t do it because of someone else. 3. Preparation: Preparation and training are vital and this never stops. 4. Dare to fall: It’s how you learn; it can hurt but you have valuable lessons this way. 5. Set the trends: ‘First ice of the day is best’: lead the way, be the first to step out. 6. Fully commit: You can’t half-heartedly do something and expect the results you want. 7. Be mindful: ‘Suddenly’ usually takes years. 8. Off ice: The most valuable practice can be ‘off ice’ observing; use the best coaches, facilitators and model the masters. 9. Systems: Have great systems and processes to help you along the way. 10. You get out what you put in: whether it’s a triple axel or team work. n For more information, visit: www.fibcommunity.com, follow @fibcommunity on Twitter, or contact Dani Saveker, Tel: 07812 99 27 26, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I turned off the life support and allowed it to fade with dignity. The experience left me with a clear personal purpose
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Advice over price Midlands based IHN Insurance Brokers is a firm that strives to make its clients feel the difference. IHN is a Chartered Insurance Brokers – a professional accolade awarded to less than 1% of insurance firms. What does Chartered mean? Chartered means quality; quality advice results in IHN having a 95% client retention rate When buying a new car you can rev the engine and move smoothly through the gears on your test drive. When looking for a new item of clothing, you simply slip into the changing rooms, try it for size and feel the material against your skin. We don’t have the luxury of trying before we buy when we choose an insurance broker and very often we don’t really find out what our broker is made of until the worst has happened and it’s time to make a claim. IHN’s Managing Director, Liz Foster, has turned making clients feel the difference into her life’s work but recognises it’s a marathon and not a sprint. “Adding value as an insurance broker is difficult and some businesses may feel that one broker is very like another. We are sure our clients don’t feel this way but it is not one single unique selling point or differentiator that has led to this. Some insurance brokers have concentrated on price as a differentiator but we have always focused on the quality of advice we provide. The way in which our industry works means any advantage based on price will always be short lived; whilst price is a significant factor, our long term commitment is to providing the best possible advice, service and support.” One of the key commitments to the professionalism which IHN has achieved is in becoming a Chartered Insurance Broker. Chartered status is an exclusive title awarded only to firms who not only satisfy rigorous criteria relating to professional qualifications, but who are also committed to developing and maintaining the knowledge
Liz Foster, IHN’s Managing Director
and capability of their people, allowing them to deliver the highest quality advice. All Chartered Insurance Brokers commit to a Code of Ethics, reinforcing the highest standards of professional practice in their business dealings and placing clients’ interests at the heart of the advice they give. To indicate just how difficult it is to achieve and maintain Chartered status, it is worth noting that less than 1% of insurance firms in the UK are able to display the industry’s ultimate badge of
quality. Maintaining an awareness of developments in the business environment is vital for an insurance broker. The pace at which the political and legal playing field develops means that businesses operating in many sectors now require wider and more flexible cover than ever before. If the last tranche of improved cover responded to an increasingly litigious environment, then it is very likely that your insurance broker should now be keeping an eye on the risks presented by the business community’s dependence in operating in a cyber-world. When consulting with clients and giving advice, IHN will always encourage their clients to consider how their business has changed and whether these changes present a risk that requires an insurance solution. Arranging a client’s personal insurances is all part of the service. Home and motor insurance is an area of the industry that has been driven to the bottom on price. However, amongst a plethora of cheeky meerkats and annoying opera singers, once you have factored in the time it takes to find the right cover, using an insurance broker is still likely to be a better and safer option. Do you really trust yourself to know the real intricacies of an insurance policy when you don’t have the time or the inclination to read the dull but critically important policy wording? Liz Foster still thinks there is a place for quality insurance brokers when arranging personal covers. “A large percentage of business owners and senior managers arrange their personal insurances
Working with IHN should be a refreshing experience for any business and amongst all the things that set them apart from other insurance brokers, it is enthusiasm that comes through as the major theme. The same enthusiasm that drives the business to strive for the highest industry standards also sustains the great client relationships and commitment to quality that is tangible and palpable in the service IHN offers
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A high level of staff retention, resulting in an expert team
through IHN. For many of these clients, the policies we provide offer greater cover than those found on aggregator sites.” Feeling the difference starts with the first engagement: understanding a business’s needs; consulting to identify risk and how best to manage it; before finally providing an insurance programme that protects the business appropriately. However, you really begin to test your insurance broker’s worth when you come to make a claim. Do they have strong enough relationships and enough clout with insurers to get the right result for you? IHN does. Do they have staff dedicated to the claims process with the technical ability to explore all the possibilities on your behalf? IHN does. Once you have taken all the professional steps possible to become a quality insurance broker, then all that remains is to create a culture in which people are allowed to flourish and forge strong working relationships. Insurance is a people business and Liz is extremely proud of the
We have dealt with IHN for over a decade, during which time they have provided us with excellent service and invaluable insurance advice CHRIS PARKES, ROBERT PARKES (HOLDINGS) LIMITED
company’s charity work. “I am Chairman of the West Midlands Development Committee of The Prince’s Trust, a charity committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people. In support of this work, IHN staff have undertaken several overseas challenges: trekking, abseiling and cycling have done wonders not only for our team spirit but also for the personal development of individuals at the same time as raising vital funds. Perhaps more important than raising money, is the opportunity provided to young people to experience our business; we have done this in the past and are committed to doing so in
the future.” Working with IHN should be a refreshing experience for any business and amongst all the things that set them apart from other insurance brokers, it is enthusiasm that comes through as the major theme. The same enthusiasm that drives the business to strive for the highest industry standards also sustains the great client relationships and commitment to quality that is tangible and palpable in the service IHN offers.
IHN Golf Day, in support of The Prince’s Trust, is to be held on 17th July 2014. For more information on how to enter or give your support, please contact Katie Westwood on email@example.com
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RISING STAR OF THE SOCIAL SET
Jodie Cole launched her social media company three years ago. Today she’s got a six-figure annual turnover, employs three staff and has just won a major business award. Steve Dyson reports Monday 8 August 2011 is firmly imprinted on Jodie Cole’s memory: it was the day she landed her first contract, just one week after starting JC Social Media Ltd. It was only for £800 worth of work with an organisation in Blackpool, but for Jodie it was enough to stop off at Manchester’s Trafford Shopping Centre on her way home to splash out £50 on “happy first customer clothes” to celebrate. “That moment signified the launch of my business,” the 25-year-old recalls, “and it was the kind of feeling I’ll never forget.” Born in Harborne, Birmingham, Jodie attended nearby King Edward VI Five Ways
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grammar school in Bartley Green before studying Business Management at Sheffield University. Her degree taught a lot of marketing, and she’d always loved writing – and a combination of these skills led her into social media. After graduation, she secured a full-time placement with the National Skills Academy for Social Care: “It wasn’t until I started playing with social media and marketing that I thought: ‘I could do this.’ So I did some research and pulled together ideas on what I wanted to do for various companies, and started networking.” Jodie launched JC Social Media the day after her placement ended, and was soon busy with
her first customer, Blackpool Advocacy, a women’s centre that also runs dementia day care and support services. “I worked on how they could get their message out and get known in Blackpool for what they did. At the time, domestic abuse was a theme on Coronation Street [with the character Carla], so we tied in what they were doing with a topical story, using Twitter and Facebook.” Jodie asks customers three core questions before she plans social media ‘campaigns’: Who’s the audience? What’s the message? And what business goals do you want to achieve? She then uses social media to find that audience, helping them >>
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ENTREPRENEUR to understand and react to the message. “Traditional advertising is all about push messages – whether it’s adverts on billboards, TV or whatever. It’s one way – telling an audience about your product or service. With social media, it’s two-way, and most companies don’t know how to use that approach. “JC Social Media takes a company’s ideas to an audience and gets ideas back from that audience on what to do next. It’s about engaging with potential customers, and training companies to add value: make your audience laugh, make them think, add something, rather than them just feeling they’re being sold to.” Jodie describes her work with a driving insurance company: “Instead of simply offering this or that cover, we used social media to find people taking lessons and passing tests. We found them through keyword searches, then used various tracking and monitoring tools and set up private Twitter network groups to market to them directly. “We found ‘collaborators’, such as driving lesson companies and others who learner drivers were talking to. Having found the audience, it was then about becoming their friend rather than marketing, giving the company its own brand and presence so people recognised it. “Then it’s talking to people about themselves and their interests, and things that could help them, such as the ‘safest car colours for lower premiums’, or retweeting a national story about ‘stopping distances in the rain’. “This means the business doesn’t need to ‘direct sell’, but builds prospect lists through one-to-one relationships instead. Good social media stays away from sending messages to mass lists. One-to-one is time-consuming but beneficial, because people respond best when they feel social media is ‘for them’. “For example, sending direct ‘Congratulations!’ messages when someone passes their driving test. In effect, using social
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Make your audience laugh, make them think and add something, rather than them just feeling they’re being sold to
media to be that ‘friendly expert’ who people then come to when they’re ready to ‘buy’.” JC Social Media works carefully with clients to make sure their ‘tone of voice’ is right, and then collects and communicates with specific audiences for each one. By ‘tone of voice’,
Jodie means how a company sounds when it’s ‘talking’ online: for the NHS, the tone needs to be “very responsible, sensible and neutral”, whereas for TGI Fridays, a “more funky and colloquial” voice is required. Then Jodie explains the ‘buy’ moment: “It’s about
working out what people are saying when they’re ‘in the market’. People talking on social media about where to get the best steaks in a particular town is perfect for a steak house’s social media. Or for a wedding dress company, who’s talking on social media about getting engaged and buying a dress? They’re all potential customers.” JC Social Media has handled nearly 100 clients since 2011, including: training for the Handmade Burger Co.; a social media audit for the Scottish Police Federation; ongoing social media management for Opus restaurant in Birmingham; Marriott Hotels UK; and Skills for Birmingham. And they’ve just started work for Vibe Audio, a “cool brand” of headphones and earphones run by former Aston Villa star Craig Gardner. Jodie employs three full-time account managers recruited via Graduate Advantage, based at Aston University: “It’s like a recruitment service for top UK graduates. They’ve all got English, Media or a similar degree, and I train them in social media. I prefer it that way as I don’t think all social media courses are that good. I’d rather have fresh graduates with a commercial sense and train them myself.” Jodie lives in Birmingham city centre with childhood sweetheart and fiancé Ben Cook, who she met at secondary school. They’ve founded another company together called Clever Tykes, a set of children’s storybooks designed to introduce positive entrepreneurial role models to children. Being ‘boss’ at JC Social Media comes naturally to Jodie: her mum worked for herself as a business consultant, her dad runs a Citroen dealership, and her sister is sales and events manager at Revolution, in Birmingham. “Everyone’s ‘the boss’ in our family,” she jokes. Jodie’s website offers a free tool called ‘Tweet to the Top’, an eight-part module that’s sent out to guide people through the basics of establishing themselves on Twitter. “I’m not afraid of giving stuff away,” she says, “because it makes social media a more useful place for everyone, effectively helping my clients anyway. And we get business from ‘Tweet to the Top’. Back in 2011, we had clients who didn’t know what social media was, and it was about convincing people of the need to use it. Now, people know what
it is and what it can achieve, it’s just finding the experts. And I want them to find me! “It’s like when websites were first invented and people said: ‘Do you have one? Why do you need one?’ And so on. Now the questions are: ‘Who built yours? What does it do?’ It’s the same with social media: companies accept the need, now they want expertise. What are the right pictures, messages and activity needed to achieve business goals? The owners of SMEs are busy people – they have phones ringing, people at the door, so much going on, and ten or 15 distractions on the computer. And so how can brands stand out? With so many things fighting for people’s attention, social media has to be snappier – just like music. I’ve a friend who’s just signed a recording contract, and she’s been advised to ditch intros and just get straight into songs, and if something repeats to change it all the time because people are constantly getting bored.” Jodie reckons Twitter and LinkedIn are the best social media for businesses to engage with customers, whereas Facebook and others are
“more useful as content platforms”. She adds that Pinterest and Instagram are “better for visual clients like retail and restaurants” and – like other social media experts I’ve spoken to – she doesn’t yet rate Google+, which she feels is “desperate to get user numbers”. As well as her wedding this July, Jodie has serious plans for the future: “I want the company to grow sustainably, increasing the number of account managers, possibly specialising in different ‘departments’ like hospitality, education, and so on. And for me, I really like delivering talks and social media training to high-profile people and companies. I’m forever learning different things, and I’d like to be a thoughtleader on the subject, someone who knows what they’re talking about.” Jodie’s already been invited to act as an ambassador for a ‘Start-Up Loans’ scheme, chaired by Dragon’s Den TV star James Caan. And just weeks after this interview took place, she was awarded the title of Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) 2014 in the prestigious BPS Birmingham Future Awards. n
Are you giving out the right signals? Sitting at a computer screen in her offices in New Street, Birmingham, Jodie explains how she assesses someone’s social media skills from their ratio of ‘tweets’, ‘following’ and ‘followers’ on Twitter. I hold my breath as she considers my @stevedyson profile: “Yes, that’s the kind of thing you want. You’re following 360, a manageable number. You’ve not tweeted excessively [just over 1,000 in five years], but there’s an indication you do use it. And you’ve got about the same number of followers as tweets [1,226], which suggests what you’re saying is of interest.” I reckon she’s just being kind, so I point out top celebrities with millions of followers, and others who obsessively tweet all day long. “The ratio can be skewed by celebrities,” Jodie replies. “But for most people, if they have 80,000 followers, are they really keeping up with them? And when I see someone who’s tweeted 25,000 times, I think: ‘What the hell are they saying!’” Then she’s praising @stevedyson again: “I like the number of @s in your bio, you’ve listed your website and you’re using good graphics. I know what you are – that’s really important when people haven’t got time to digest. “But [I knew there’d be a ‘but’!] update your website. Your Twitter account looks busy, newsy, uses a caricature; but your website is grey, and uses a photo. You’ve got to match your branding.” Finally, Jodies offers three top social media tips for BQ readers: 1. Social media’s about two-way discussions with clients and potential clients, rather than pushing out your messages. 2. Remember your audience is probably on social media somewhere, you’ve just got to work out where. 3. If you’re trying to get a large company on board, don’t think of the company as a whole – think of individuals in it and how you can best appeal to them.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
TURNING THE TABLE
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Cait Allen is a woman in a man’s world as the first female chief executive of Round Table – a charity founded for ‘young men in business’. Ian Halstead reports
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry garnered a long-list nod from Booker Prize judges – and two million worldwide sales – with an inspirational tale of how an unexpected letter sent its hero on the journey of his life. It’s not a link the enjoyably unpretentious Cait Allen would make, but as she recalls her move from the high-pressure environment of strategic PR to leading the Round Table, one of Britain’s best-known charities, it feels right that her current bed-time read is Rachel Joyce’s novel. Not that it’s always easy for her to find time to turn the 320 pages, especially given the presence of twins, Naomi and Eve, who turn seven in June. “I love this job, but the hours are long and there’s always an event to go to, and new people to meet, so when I’m not working I’m usually with my husband and the girls, or down the gym, lifting weights,” admits Cait, who’s based at the historic charity’s headquarters in Edgbaston, Birmingham. “I do believe in being involved with the area where you live though, so I’m also a community governor at the girls’ school, St Mary’s C of E Primary, in Selly Oak. I really enjoy supporting the school and understanding how everything works.” Three years ago though, she was at the crossroads of her career, having previously been tempted both to Birmingham, and into the communications industry, following a degree in English Literature at Lancaster University. “I’d always loved words and writing – when I was a teenager, I’d wanted to be a journalist – and I’d studied English, philosophy and communications, so it made sense to go into PR,” recalls Cait. “I went down to London for a couple of interviews, but didn’t fancy working there, and started working for a small
agency in Birmingham. I met Marcus, now my husband, and I really loved being here. “I gradually started broadening my range of work, and joined the Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency as head of external relations. It was relocating from London to Coventry, and then we were told it was being closed. “I enjoyed the challenges, especially having a strategic role, but had gradually decided that education and government weren’t for me. They were both just too bureaucratic.” Then, like Fry in Joyce’s novel, Cait received a letter she didn’t expect, which set her off on a new journey – and against the counsel of those she knew best. “I’d registered with an executive employment site and uploaded my CV, not that I really expected anything to happen,” she admits. “Then I heard from a head-hunter, asking if I’d be interested in the chief executive’s position at Round Table. I didn’t know much about it, only that it was an organisation for men, and that it had been around for a long time. “I went for an interview, thinking I’d been invited as a token female candidate, but later I met two board members, and I realised that it was all real, and began wondering if I might even be offered the job. “Everyone except Marcus was really negative though. Some said I wouldn’t be hired because I was a woman, others said I wouldn’t
be able to change its culture, that I wouldn’t be able to modernise the organisation, which was what the board members said they wanted.” Even on a first meeting though, it’s evident that Cait is someone to be enthused rather than dismayed by the thought of a serious challenge: “The more I heard, the more I began to fancy the job. Like all membership organisations, it had been declining for 35 years, but I liked the idea that it was run by volunteers who wanted to put something back into their local community. “It wasn’t a job where you were going to be paid lots of money, and be given a big car, but it was a great chance to really make a difference to an organisation which only exists to do good. When the letter arrived offering me the job, I asked Marcus for his thoughts and he said: ‘Go for it’, so I did and started in April 2011.” Her first target was to stabilise the long-term decline in membership – by 2015 – and then to reverse the trend throughout the UK’s network of branches, known as ‘Tables’. “Round Table has always had a flawed business model,” she jokes, “because we kick out our most successful ‘customers’ when they reach the age of 45, so we typically lose between 400 and 450 members every year. “However, to look at that another way, the organisation is constantly regenerating >>
It’s like having the best job in the world... the whole ethos is about making friends and having fun to help people
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itself. People used to have to leave at 40, and still do in some overseas Tables, but here, it’s 45.” Cait began by conducting a feedback exercise among members, to get a proper feel for their perceptions, then devised a 10-year strategy. “I think everyone needed to realise if they were doing things because they still made sense, or just because they’d always been done,” she says. “Round Table was founded in the 1920s, so there were certain things which they did – standing to toast the Queen, wearing jacket and ties, and then taking them off at a certain point, and wearing regalia – which were perfectly natural then, but felt rather out-of-place nowadays. “Now, most members wear Round Table polo-shirts at meetings and during events, and instead of formal regalia, they have lapel badges. I encourage everyone to create their own sense of history, and give them freedom to run their Tables how they see fit.” It’s understandable that an organisation established in the volatile economic and social environment of the inter-war period clung to its original practices, although that was at odds with the instincts of its founder, Louis Marchesi. Just a glance at the life of the 29-year-old entrepreneur, who set up the first Round Table in Norwich in 1927, reveals an intriguing and passionate character – far from the stereotypical image of Tablers which lingers in the minds of outsiders. Marchesi – born to an Irish mother and Swiss father – joined the British Army when still under age, was torpedoed off the Cape of Good Hope but rescued after a 10-hour ordeal, and went on to serve throughout the First World War. In 1927, at an industrial fair in Birmingham, he was inspired by the Prince of Wales, who urged young men to ‘get together round the table’ to adopt methods from the past, adapt them to current needs and then to improve them. Just weeks later, Marchesi set up the Round Table as a club for young men in business, with the motto which has survived until today: ‘Adopt. Adapt. Improve’. Ten years on, the organisation had more than 100 Tables in Britain, its first overseas arm had been established in Copenhagen,
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Fact file First Table: Norwich. First overseas: Copenhagen. UK membership (2013): 5,500. International: Around 40,000 members in Round Table International in 62 countries. Newest club: Singapore, 2013. Largest club: Britain and Ireland. Smallest clubs: Monaco and Greece.
and it had acquired its then national headquarters in London’s Ludgate Hill. Having reached the age of 40, Marchesi was officially ‘disqualified’ from membership, but continued his involvement until his death in 1968, by which time the organisation had some 28,000 members in more than 900 Tables. Nor did he lose his taste for derring-do during the Second World War, using his linguistic talents to work with Britain’s fledgling espionage networks. “There had always been an ethos for change, as the motto makes clear, but although Round Table had been enormously popular, and raised hundreds of millions for charity, it had lost something of its original nature,” admits Cait. “It’s always been non-sectarian and apolitical, which people still find attractive, and its strength has always been about helping local communities, but it did need to be modernised. At the same time, you can’t impose radical change on an organisation run almost entirely by volunteers. “I’ve got three staff here in Birmingham, and we’re the only full-time employees, so change
has always got to be through evolution. I keep in touch with Louis Marchesi’s son, Peter, who still lives in Norwich, and he’s very comfortable with everything we’re trying to do.” Highlighting the merits – and occasional dangers – of social media was an early initiative, and most Tables now have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. “Making contact with your community is at the heart of Round Table, so anything which gets more people in touch with each other is great,” says Cait. “I soon found that for a lot of people, being a member had been lifechanging. They’d made new friends, learned new skills and often become more confident and outgoing. We certainly get very few leavers before they turn 45. “The changes appear to be working: membership has been stabilised well ahead of target, and we have some really strong new clubs. The Penkridge Table was our fastestgrowing in the country during 2013 and Lichfield is also doing very well. “However, I also found that there’s no common denominator for success. Harrogate is our biggest Table, but Cardiff runs the city’s biggest fireworks display, which brings in around £20,000 every year. “Some Tables are event-driven, others are more focused on activities, but they’re all committed to improving their communities, and any profit they make goes straight back into new projects. “I go to as many Tables as possible, and when we’re on holiday, I usually sneak off to a local event just to meet new members, because I think it’s important to be highly accessible and visible, and hearing feedback is still absolutely crucial.” Does Cait, aged 38, think she’ll still be leading the charity when her initial 10-year strategy comes to an end though? “I don’t think anyone can look seven years into the future,” she says. “All I can say now is that it’s like having the best job in the world, because the whole ethos of Round Table is about making friends and having fun to help people. “I meet Tablers all over the country, and the only reason they joined was because they’re really driven to change their community. What could be more wonderful?” n
Launch of new award programme for managers will help accelerate careers With the world of work becoming an ever more complex and fast-paced environment, it is essential for those looking to get ahead in business to develop their skills and keep their knowledge up-to-date. In the words of the inimitable leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here won’t get you there.” At Aston, we are excited to be launching a new programme in the autumn - The Professional Managers’ Award – aimed at managers and aspiring managers alike who are looking to take the next step in their careers. It is designed to provide the latest thinking, tools and models in key areas of business practice, to enable participants to drive real change and have a major impact in their businesses. The Award will provide students with the ability to develop and execute strategies for business, and enable them to anticipate developments in their particular environment. Students will be able to review the key elements of accounting and budgeting that every manager needs in order to make better-informed decisions. There will also be opportunities to explore the latest thinking in operations, and build a deeper understanding of how to drive the maximum performance within an organisation. Additionally, the latest research conducted at Aston into team effectiveness and leadership performance will be made available. And since so much of business is about effective execution, Aston will provide a thorough grounding in how to manage projects effectively, providing skills and tools that can be applied in a wide variety of business contexts. But why take the time to study all this at a business school? Why not just read a load of books? Whilst reading books is in itself a good thing, as an approach to learning and development, it is somewhat limited. However, over recent years, the 70:20:10 model has become popular in helping us to understand the process of learning at work, and it provides a useful touchstone for all of us in thinking about how we develop ourselves in our careers. The model essentially says that there are three elements to skills and knowledge development:
Paul Butler CEng FIMechE, Executive Development Director, Aston Business School, and Course Director for the Aston Professional Managers’ Award
Aston’s Professional Managers’ Award gives participants the tools and techniques they need to thrive in the modern, complex workplace • 70% of what we learn comes from doing “tough jobs” • 20% comes from our managers and colleagues, through discussion, feedback, coaching, mentoring, networking, etc. • 10% comes from what we learn in the classroom Yet the 70:20:10 proportions are a representation, not a hard and fast rule. The proportions will of course vary over time, and we should expect people early in their career to need more assistance in the classroom to develop the fundamental knowledge and skills upon which to build their career. The Professional Managers’ Award programme is aimed at these people. If we are to develop our skills, we need to be
motivated to do it, and we need to be clear on what we do with these new skills. The 20% is key in this regard, as support from a boss or trusted colleagues, frank and supportive feedback, and an environment where discussion and exploration is encouraged is advantageous. If the 70% is about learning from our experiences and the 20% is about reflecting on those experiences, then the 20% is absolutely essential in making sense of it all. The 10% is the foundation on which learning is built. Our Professional Managers’ Award is designed to maximise the impact of that 10%. It will give participants the tools and techniques they need to thrive in the modern, complex workplace; providing a foundation of knowledge and understanding to reflect upon and implement. The programme design includes a strong reflective element, supporting participants as they seek to apply what they have learned at work. In addition to support from the faculty and programme director, participants will also be supporting each other as part of a vibrant and growing learning community. Many participants on our programmes maintain their contacts and networks long after they have been with us, and this resource of colleagues and friends is an often unexpected benefit. We are looking forward to the launch of this programme, and to building a vibrant community of managers in the region who, through their shared experience at Aston on the Professional Managers’ Award, will be ever more equipped to develop their careers, their organisations, and the local economy.
Find out more at www.aston.ac.uk/prof-mgraward/ or call us on 0121 204 3160
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
New pension changes for businesses Andrew Whiting, of Andrew Whiting Wealth Consultancy LLP, continues his series of articles which aims to offer help and guidance to business owners and those who run businesses The 2014 Budget has set out many changes that will affect how people save for the future and the way benefit is drawn from a registered pension scheme, with the most influential change being effective from 6th April 2015. There are, however, in the meantime a number of changes to current rules regarding capped and flexible drawdown and the triviality provisions. AUTOMATIC ENROLMENT During this calendar year, an extra 38,000 employers with a 59 to 499 person workforce will be obligated to automatically enrol their eligible employees. The following revised thresholds have been applied for 2014/2015: • Automatic enrolment eligibility earnings trigger of £10,000, in line with this tax year’s personal allowance. • Lower qualifying earnings band limit £5,772, in line with 2014/15’s lower earnings limit for NI contribution purposes. • Upper qualifying earnings band limit £41,865, in line with 2014/15’s upper earnings limit and higher rate threshold. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY From 6th April 2015, members of defined registered schemes will have greater flexibility in how to access their retirement benefits. Members will be able to draw down savings whenever and however they wish, after the age of 55, as any amount will be treated as income and therefore subject to marginal rate(s) of income tax in that tax year. The tax-free pension commencement lump sum will continue to be available. The following example using 2014/15 allowances and thresholds, taken from the consultation of this issued alongside the Budget papers, will show how it works. It should be noted this new flexibility currently only extends to defined contribution schemes.
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REDUCTION IN ALLOWANCES Annual Allowance has reduced from £50,000 to £40,000 from the tax year 2014/15, where carrying forward allowances for tax years 2011/12 to 2013/14 to remain at £50,000. Lifetime Allowance has reduced from £1.5m to £1.2m from 2014/15 and anyone likely to be affected should seek advice on whether Individual Protection is needed or should contributions to pensions cease. PLANNING Individuals who may have been affected from the reduction in the Lifetime Allowance 2014/2015 will also need to consider whether to have Individual Protection, including individuals aged under 75 in receipt of drawdown benefits if they feel that a future test at the age of 75 may result them exceeding the reduce £1.25m lifetime allowance. However, the reduction in the annual allowance from 2014/15 is softened by being able to carry forward unused annual allowance of up to £50,000 for each of tax years 2011/12 to 2013/14. In view of the complex pension input period rules, great care needs to be taken where a contribution is paid to ensure that it falls into a pension input period in the desired tax year. In conclusion the new pension regime admirably hands more control
EXAMPLE “Mr D is 66 and has an income of £7,500 per year from his State Pension. He has a defined contribution pot of £100,000 and decides to take £55,000 from his pension pot, which includes his 25% tax-free lump sum (£25,000), to pay off his mortgage. Of the £30,000 above the lump sum, £2,500 will be taxed at 0% as, together with his State Pension, it falls within his £10,000 personal allowance. The remaining £27,500 would then be taxed at 20%. In year 2, Mr D takes the full £45,000 left in his pension pot. Assuming the tax thresholds remain unchanged in year 2, the first £2,500 and his State Pension will be taxed at 0%, the next £31,865 will be taxed at 20% and the final £10,635 will be taxed at the higher rate of 40%.” The following case is for example purposes only and should not be used as advice. Individual professional advice should always be sought.
to individuals over their long-term financial plans. But, as with all financial planning, each person’s needs and appetite for risk or security are distinct. Retirement planning requires expert, not off-theshelf, solutions. Remember that the levels and bases of taxation and reliefs from taxation can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances. If you require any further information with regards to wealth management, please don’t hesitate to get intouch or subscribe to our e-briefing service through our website.
Tel: 0121 215 0926 Email : Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org Website: Andrewwhiting.co.uk
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young heads in a grand old trade
Known as ‘The Boys’, Nick Davies and Will Farmer are dusting out the cobwebs from the conservative antiques business and attracting young fans with their passion – and tears. Bob Haywood reports
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It’s not often that a businessman breaks down and cries on nationwide TV. But Will Farmer gave in to his emotions in front of nine million viewers on Antiques Roadshow in August 2013. As one of the BBC hit show’s guest presenters, he was asked to value a collection of Russian ceramics inherited by three brothers and sisters still reeling from the death of their beloved mother. Will just filled up – because the family’s palpable grief paralleled his own tragedy 12 months earlier when his dear widowed mum, Lesley, died. He recalls: “I just couldn’t help it. The executive producer showed me the rushes before the piece was broadcast and asked if I was happy for the sequence to go out. “I thought about it and decided the viewers and the wider public should know what I was going through – as so many others have suffered. The reaction from the viewers, the profession and our customers was overwhelmingly supportive and positive and my Twitter followers doubled. I’m glad I did it.” Will’s outpouring of his inner turmoil came as no surprise at all to his business partner Nick Davies. They both know that life and death can arouse strong emotions. The two men – despite being as alike as chalk and cheese – give their feelings free rein about the world of antiques, too. Will wears his heart on his sleeve and Nick takes a slightly steadier approach. As co-directors in Fieldings Auctioneers Ltd, of Stourbridge, West Midlands, they couldn’t be a better combination. Will is ‘the accelerator’ in the company’s dealings – and Nick ‘the brake’. And the duo have created an astonishingly-successful business: after just 13 years, Fieldings now has an annual turnover of £3m. The firm started out modestly with a shop front – and cellar – in Market Street,
Stourbridge, and monthly auctions at the village community centre in nearby Hagley. Nick and Will ripped up the rule books by holding the auctions on Saturdays when nondealers could also attend. But Nick and Will had to set up on Friday nights – and take it in turns to sleep in the hall overnight to thwart would-be burglars. Will recalls: “Whoever, was ‘on duty’ slept on an airbed and had to wash and shave in the sink. We did that for five years. Looking back, I can’t believe it. We couldn’t get into the hall until the toddler group finished on the Friday tea-time and we had to be out by Saturday tea-time for the Saturday night dances. “There was endless packing, unpacking, re-
packing, loading, unloading and driving.” In 2006, Fieldings moved to Mill Race Lane – a trading estate on the fringes of Stourbridge town centre – and now has 10,500 sq ft of space. There are 11 full-time staff and 10 casual employees. Having all of the company’s operations under one roof seems like auctioneering and valuation heaven for the affable duo. They have no qualms about saying their staff are ‘the best’ on whom they depend heavily. Nick and Will met in 1999 when Nick was working for Biddle & Webb auctioneers and valuers in Ladywood, Birmingham, and Will was a regular customer. They went out for a beer and friendship blossomed. Two years >>
Andrew whiting weAlth ConsultAnCy llP Senior Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management tel: 0121 215 0926 Email: email@example.com Web: www.andrewwhiting.co.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
ENTREPRENEUR later, they started their own business by which time Will was at Weller & dufty auctioneers and valuers in Bromsgrove street, Birmingham. each put £20,000 capital into Fieldings, choosing the single titular name after looking at the big successful auction houses. nick said: “We thought of Farmer davies but that just sounded like a cattle auction firm. We had a shortlist of three names and we came back after the weekend with our choice which we put inside an envelope. “We had both chosen ‘Fieldings’.” Fieldings was like a breath of fresh air to the staid world of auction houses, often – rightly – associated with old, draughty, cold and damp halls. they were affectionately referred to as ‘the Boys’ by rival auctioneers – almost exclusively older men – because of
Will is in his eighth season as an expert on BBC1’s antiques roadshow – taking up about 20 days a year of his time – and counts his fellow presenters and the programme’s production team as friends. he says Fiona Bruce is ‘every bit as lovely as she seems – an absolute and consummate professional’. he said: “she never turns down a request for an autograph.” nick is a regular expert on BBC 2’s Flog it! which attracts about 1.6m viewers. so does he love the show’s presenter Paul Martin as much as Will adores Fiona Bruce? “absolutely,” he shoots back. “Paul is a nice bloke; what you see is what you get.” nick and Will think their tV exposure has helped the business, although they confess they are seldom stopped in the street.
They say the majority of items they are asked to value are ‘pleasant, attractive, ornamental – but worthless’ their relative youth. When the company was formed, nick was 34 and Will 27. they are proud to recall when they set up their first tiny office – at street level, bright and modern – a respected local solicitor said they had ‘brought a spark’ to stourbridge town centre. as well as going off-piste by holding their auctions on saturdays, nick and Will set about attracting a new generation of antique collectors. they point out that many of their regular customers – and those of other auction houses – are elderly and even heading to the great auction house in the sky, so it makes good business sense. Will says he doesn’t even use the word ‘antique’ with younger clients, but ‘vintage’ or even ‘pre-loved’. he is twitter mad and the firm is huge on Facebook which they say considerably increases the firms ‘reach’, even internationally. Both nick and Will are big fans of tV which, they believe, has transformed the image of the profession massively and made the public much better informed, as has the internet.
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although Will is a ‘half-full man’ and nick a ‘half-empty man’, both just relish their work, which is also their hobby. asked about a ‘wow’ moment, nick recalls spotting an early silver pocket watch – circa 1720 – during a house clearance in stourton, near stourbridge. it sold for a relatively-modest £1,500 but nick still recollects its exquisite beauty and unrivalled workmanship. effervescent Will is all over the place with his ‘wow’ moment and trots off a very long list of ‘bests’. But he decides his ‘best’ best was spying a painting by Claude Monet – worth about £4m – on the wall of a house he was visiting ‘somewhere in Britain’. the owner knew full well what it was – and wasn’t selling, through Will or anyone else. the current Fieldings house record for a sale is £53,000 for a Cyril Power linocut, although Will and nick fondly remember a Clarice Cliff May avenue charger which went for a cool £24,000. Fieldings hold a weekly valuation day (tuesdays, 10am to 4pm) at their headquarters, and at other locations in the
The Facts nick davies age: 47 Born: Birmingham lives: edgbaston, Birmingham Family: Married, two sons hobbies: tennis, golf, rugby, running – and antiques expert field: silver, jewellery, militaria Favourite finds: a pair of World War ii submarine binoculars, which sold at auction for £1,900, and a first edition of the hobbit (£10,200)
Will Farmer age: 40 Born: derby lives: Moseley, Birmingham Family: Partner, no children hobbies: art, visiting cities – and antiques expert field: 20th century decorative arts – ceramics, glass and furniture Favourite finds: a Martin Brothers stoneware bird, which sold for £20,500, and a rare collection of documents relating to the stourbridge glass industry (£22,000)
West Midlands. The firm values items – or complete collections – for insurance and for probate purposes and Nick and Will also wield their gavels at charity auctions – giving their services free of charge. They say the majority of items they are asked to value are “pleasant, attractive, ornamental – but worthless”. But gently letting down the would-be seller is part of the job, they believe. Fieldings is proud that 90% of its customers are non-dealers and that it would rather sell better class items than glorified bric-a-brac. Unless a piece is likely to fetch at least £50, it’s hardly worth putting into an auction by the time it has been handled, photographed and put in an auction catalogue, and a seller’s premium deducted. They count many of their customers as fond acquaintances. And Nick and Will say that the business is ‘buoyant’ at the moment – quickly changing that to ‘phenomenal’. They might be tempting fate by adding: “Recession-proof.” Well, Britain went into a
recession – and is now coming out of it – and Fieldings has gone from strength to strength so far, so they are probably right. Fieldings believes that keeping ahead of fashion in antiques is crucial for the ongoing success of the business. Will said: “What was popular 30 years ago is now as welcome as the Black Death. We have to know what is going on and accommodate it, and we do.” What is the best business advice Nick and Will have ever been given? Will cites the words of his late father, John, himself a businessman, who said: “Always remember it will take
you 20 years to make your name – and two minutes to lose it. Integrity is everything.” Nick said: “Mine comes from my dad, too. He told me to marry my future wife, Christine.” But, hang on, that was good personal advice but was that good business advice? Nick said: “It was because, as well as everything else, she’s a good businesswoman!” Although they have different – but complementary – personalities, Nick and Will have built a successful business by believing in living to work, rather than working to live. They just love it – even if it does provoke the odd tear. n
Always remember it will take you 20 years to make your name – and two minutes to lose it
Andrew whiting weAlth ConsultAnCy llP Senior Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management tel: 0121 215 0926 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.andrewwhiting.co.uk
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in association with
a city at a crossroads
The issue: With a growing population and an expanding city centre, Birmingham’s future economic and social prosperity depends upon careful and co-ordinated management of strategic developments. But will they deliver the ambitious economic and social goals they aim to achieve?
Rob Groves, who heads Argent’s major Paradise Circus development in Birmingham, said his company was bringing a lot of learnings from its huge King Cross project in London. But whereas London “sells itself”, he warned “our first challenge is selling Birmingham.” He said: “Back in the 1980s, when the Thames Valley was trying to attract hi-tech companies, it was as much about selling the place as it was the office. So when you’re selling Birmingham, you need to say to potential occupiers, like Deutsche Bank, where are their people going to live, where are they going to employ from, and what’s the rest of the infrastructure? “That’s not just highways, but restaurants, theatres, cinemas, schools, and making sure when you’re doing your sales pitch that you’re selling the whole big picture.” Danny Parmar, of Overbury, said Birmingham used to have a poor reputation but that many things had changed in recent years “in a very
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positive way”. He said that the old perception of the ‘typical Brummie’ needed to change. Rupert Young, of Nurton Developments, said: “Your best sales force is your ambient population, and I sometimes wonder if enough people round here know enough about the city. “I’m a Midlander by birth, and I got fed up of London partners [at a previous company] not knowing anything at all. What I used to do is every month send an email to all partners saying: ‘Five things you never knew about Birmingham’, and I managed to keep it up for two years!” Neil Edginton, of EDG Property, who played a leading role in Birmingham’s Mailbox, Fort Dunlop and the Cube developments, said: “I agree – you have to sell Birmingham first. But in the last 20 years, how much the city has changed for the better. “We will always have to sell this city in the way you wouldn’t have to sell the capital city.
Taking part Paul Brown, director of government and public sector, Ernst & Young LLP Neil Edginton, managing director, EDG Property Mark English, development manager, planning and regeneration, Birmingham City Council Elizabeth Foster, managing director, Ingram Hawkins and Nock Rob Groves, senior project director, Argent LLP Andy McDonald, specialist real estate, Barclays, and debate host Danny Parmar, business development, Overbury Kitty Patmore, specialist real estate, Barclays. Barclays, and debate host Adam Ramshaw, director of capital markets, Lambert, Smith Hampton Alistair Robertson-Dunn, director, GVA Matt Weaver, relationship director, real estate, Barclays, and debate host Rupert Young, development director, Nurton Developments In the chair: Caroline Theobald, BQ Group Taking notes: Steve Dyson, editor BQ West Midlands Venue: Hilton Garden Inn, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HW.
BQ is highly regarded as a leading independent commentator on business issues, many of which have a bearing on the current and future success of the region’s business economy. BQ Live is a series of informative debates designed to further contribute to the success and prosperity of our regional economy through the debate, discussion and feedback of a range of key business topics and issues.
“The sooner we stop worrying about that and just get on with the job we’re doing, the faster we’ll move forward, because that’s all I’ve heard over the last 20 years.” Paul Brown, of EY, and also a board member of the Black Country LEP, said: “My issue is between how we liaise with schools telling them about what industries are out there, rather than sending everyone to university. We’ve got 6,000 jobs, potentially, around JLR and that cluster of high-value manufacturing. There’s an issues of teachers not being aware of industry.” Elizabeth Foster, of Ingram Hawkins and Nock, also chair of the West Midlands development committee of the Prince’s Trust,
agreed that young people were not aware of the opportunities. She said: “The apprenticeship days, which the city runs very well, are huge days [but] young people find those very intimidating, [and are] not very well prepared. “As long as schools are measured by the number of young people they get into college or university, they’re not going to be persuaded to direct young people into the workplace.” Brown said that LEPs were now working with Ofsted on the importance of STEM subjects [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] to make children more aware of the job opportunities available. Foster said this was good, because if children knew jobs were waiting for them they were more likely to work harder at school. Mark English, programme manager for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, the city’s house-building programme, has a background in securing community benefits from regeneration projects. He said: “Part of the problem is to get commercial employers into schools to talk about what [pupils] can do, because if you can get in early enough and get them going in the right direction, it doesn’t matter if they don’t come out with every certificate under the sun, they’ll still be enthused to do something.” Kitty Patmore, of Barclays, is also a management committee member of the Big Brum Theatre in Education Company, a charity working with a charity delivering TIE to 80 schools and 4,000 young people in the West Midlands. She agreed with English, but said: “It needs to be early, though, because by the time they get far progressed in secondary it’s too late because a lot of behaviours are developed. And it needs to be coupled with a pride in Birmingham, combining ‘where do you go’ and ‘what do you do’ with ‘this is
The apprenticeship days are huge but young people find them very intimidating
somewhere to be proud to live’.” Adam Ramshaw, who runs LSH’s Birmingham office, said he worked with the city council and partners to ensure regeneration was “net inward investment” and that “regeneration of one part doesn’t lead to the deterioration of another”. Talking about the need to get industry and education working together, he said: “Whose responsibility is it to coordinate all these things and to make sure that industry is in the schools, that we’re marketed in the right way?” Brown said it sits with a variety of organisations – for example, Marketing Birmingham, the LEP, the city council, who were all “doing great things” – but that: “We’re not quite aligned and go off in all different directions.” He added that universities have “a massive role to play”. Edginton said: “If you want people to stay and work after they’ve been to one of the nine universities within a one-hour’s drive [of Birmingham] – a massive population of students – you’ve got to offer them jobs. And if you want them to stay and have a family, you’ve got to offer them schools and hospitals. It’s about infrastructure. And the same is true if you want to inwardly invest people, you’ve got
to offer them all the same things.” The debate went on to discuss the shortage of space to build new homes in the Birmingham area for an increasing population, with planners talking about the need for up to 100,000 new homes by 2031. Green belt land near suburbs like Sutton Coldfield were being considered by Birmingham City Council as places to expand, but do not have the necessary infrastructure in place. Ramshaw said: “I live in Sutton Coldfield, and there’s not been a new school built there for ages, and the transport pressure means that in rush-hour the roads and cross city trains are packed. Something’s going to have to give. Unless you live on the street where the school is, you can’t get in.” English said: “Section 106s [planning conditions placed on developers to invest in necessary infrastructure] are quite blunt tools. People go in and regulations are drawn… they have planning permissions, but they’re not being developed. With 106s, there’s no ability to renegotiate if developers sit on that site. So will there be moves to enable renegotiation based on changing values over that period?” Young said: “I don’t buy the point of people sitting on sites for the sake of it. There’s usually
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another reason why things are not happening, although I’d back making sure they flow >> through. These strategic projects – building homes and jobs – has to be a partnership, and 106s are only a block if a developer doesn’t negotiate appropriately.” Edginton said: “We’re doing a site in Northamptonshire for thousands of homes, building four schools with a massive infrastructure cost. Trying to get sites off the ground is really hard, and the more things you put in the way – like renegotiating 106s – [will] make it even more difficult to give the city what it needs.” Brown said: “For me, lobbying is a massive area. There are 57 MPs across the region, and we need to use these to the full to get to the likes of Greg Clarke [Minister of State for Cities and Constitution] to promote what we’re doing in Birmingham and the West Midlands. “These are the people who are talking to world leaders. The big PR campaign is quite broad, and we’re all custodians of the brand and need a consolidated approach to make sure we’re recognised on the global stage.” Foster said she found it difficult to get to see
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MPs about such matters. She said: “MPs take their line from the same group of people. They go where the money comes from – people who are going to fund their campaigns. There’s not a wide enough voice to be heard.” Brown responded: “They’re [MPs] not going to come to you. Lobbying is the key. MPs are in their constituencies every Friday – it’s in your interest to go and see them if you have an issue.”Alistair Robertson-Dunn, of GVA, said one of his primary interests was finding a better way of selling new developments in Birmingham to occupiers, who were sometimes bypassing the city. He said: “The international stage is an easier sell for us. The harder sell is in the UK and against the misperceptions we have. We need to change what people locally think of Birmingham and then look at going outside. Educate people locally and let the word spread.” Patmore cited Birmingham Future and Birmingham Forward as examples of a “really active” voice, and drew attention to the recent Birmingham Young Professional of the Year awards – “a most amazing event… it just needs to be continued and highlighted.” Foster said:
“The danger is young people who are not connected with certain charities or groups.” Groves highlighted the forthcoming John Lewis store development at New Street Station and lauded Birmingham’s employment team. “Jobs were at the top of the city’s agenda, in the way we selected contractors based on local employment opportunities.” English said there were various initiatives, such as how the city expected a “bursary payment” for a development with St Basil’s [a homeless charity]. But he added such projects were “too often built on individual people’s knowledge” rather than the “wider psyche of organisations”. Groves mentioned how apprentices had been taken on during the development of the new Library of Birmingham “in joint venture with the city – it’s what we’re committed to”. He added: “We need them [apprentices] in every aspect of developments – from eventual office workers to people on site. You can almost see there’s going to be a shortage.” English said young people were not always choosing the right options. “We need to tell them there are alternatives. Not everybody’s
an academic. It’s trying to encourage people [towards] different career structures and opportunities so they don’t see themselves as a failure because they haven’t got the right piece of paper. It’s saying from an early age: ‘You can do this’.” Andy McDonald, of Barclays, was interested in keeping the city’s talent and attracting more from outside. He sympathised with people having to deal with the system’s “shorttermism”, and said: “The heads of schools are judged on last year’s test results, the chief executives of companies are judged on last year’s financial results. One of the biggest issues for long-term sustainability is that we’re judged on what we did the year before.” Young referred to schools highlighted as “specialist language” academies and other subject champions: “What’s wrong with having a specialist automotive academy? That would be a good way to do it!” Matt Weaver, hosting the evening for Barclays, referred to his experience in schools talking about financial skills: “It’s frightening when you speak to kids who’ve got no knowledge about money. We make a difference.” Talking about the wider vision, needs and communications for the region, Parmar said: “A central deliverer is missing. Having one body to pull it all together and get the message out as a cohesive plan.” Ramshaw agreed: “Ultimately, someone needs to take responsibility. You need to identify who that is or else you won’t coordinate it together.” Young said: “The fact that there is a vision is a good start.” Brown said such a huge vision needed to be delivered in parts: “There are five-year plans. There’s a lot of things to deliver that touch all parts of business. Infrastructure encompasses everything – the community, growing its prospects, spending money on leisure, education, transport and so on. Don’t be fooled
We need to change what people locally think of Birmingham
that we’re thinking about 2031. “Next year is an interesting year. A lot of funds are kick-started next year, but then we’re into a General Election year. The execution is the big thing. We talk about strategies a lot. The real target is that we’ve got to manage and deliver [those strategies].” Edginton agreed, and reminded people that “2031 is far away” and that “plans are meant to evolve and change over time, as the needs change.” Groves suggested that the Government should “stop moving the goalposts, as it can slow things down”, and said if Labour got in [at the next General Election] he hoped they wouldn’t change everything as “it will completely reverse important developments”. Young said there “needs to be stronger government at a local level”, and added it was a shame Birmingham hadn’t chosen the elected mayors system in its recent referendum. “Some of the [council] members need a lot more education [about planning matters]… [also] we often have a rampant outbreak of nimbyism. That more than anything else will hold things back.” On planning, Groves said: “It seems to be easier to deal with in a city centre than it is in the shires [due to the] quality of staff. We have got council members who sit
on a planning committee and I do sometimes wonder if they know what they’re looking at. Planning committees need to take a bit more notice from planning officers.” On a positive note, Young said: “Birmingham City Council are being pretty brave. They’re backing Argent massively in Paradise Circus. We could be hacked off about that, but we’re not at all. It’s important because of the size of what Birmingham has to do. And the results will wash through. That’s a really good thing for them to have done.” Young added that he was keen for Marketing Birmingham to host more visits from international site locators: “If it costs the city council some money to get people over let’s carry on because it’s working.” Groves agreed: “The opportunities in Birmingham are huge… with the Bull Ring, pedestrianisation, the NIA, New Street Station in its final stage [of redevelopment], the Metro extension… everyone always gets taken in by new ‘kit’. This is the best opportunity for Birmingham to sell itself to the world.” Edginton agreed but said the message needed to be tailored for different audiences, as foreign investors often “expect that for a city the size of Birmingham [things like] the station should already be there”. n
Building for the future To boost awareness and ensure young people have all the skills they need for their transition into work, LifeSkills, created with Barclays, recently sponsored National Careers Week. This year, it was also co-ordinated to take place alongside National Apprenticeships Week in March. The aim was to ensure that young people had all the information they needed about the routes into work including continuing in full-time education and vocational routes such as apprenticeships and traineeships. There was a range of sessions and activities taking place across the UK, including opportunities for young people to meet and learn from businesses representing a diverse scope of sectors. Workshops were held to teach valuable skills such as CV writing, job applications and interview techniques. Matt Weaver, Relationship Director at Barclays, commented: “The glaring gap in careers education has become ever more visible. Not only are young people struggling to gain the confidence to carry out tasks, but businesses don’t believe they have the skills for entry level roles. This problem needs to be addressed. We know many young people already have plenty of key skills; they just need support to understand how to put them into practise. We should do more to support teachers and businesses alike by providing the tools to equip young people with the employability skills they’ll need when they leave education. We supported LifeSkills National Careers Week to help bring schools and businesses together, whilst promoting the importance of giving young people these skills to ensure they feel confident and ready for work.” To find out more and register for information go to barclayslifeskills.com.
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Food and drink flurry, new jobs Flo into the region, recruiter pitches into city centre site, Paradise Circus agreement made, property group moves house and history in the remaking >> Estate makes rapid start Calthorpe Estates, the property developer and investor based in Edgbaston, Birmingham, says it has made a recordbreaking start to 2014. Deal activity has surpassed pre-recession levels and more new tenants were secured in the first quarter of the year than in the same period over the last five years. Spanning 610 hectares of Edgbaston, the Calthorpe Estate is a thriving commercial and residential district which incorporates one of the UK’s largest urban conservation areas and is also home to Edgbaston Medical Quarter. Lettings totalling 53,581 sq ft have been secured on the Calthorpe Estate in the first quarter of 2014; and, according to latest figures from the Birmingham Office Market Forum, deals completed on office space in Edgbaston have amounted to a third of all office take-up in the city so far this year.
>> Food and drink flurry Hines and Moorfield have signed up two major tenants for the leisure element of their Brindleyplace estate, strengthening its food and drink offer and creating 40 jobs. Le Monde Fish and Grill has spent some £400,000 transforming a former office unit above Cafe Rouge into a 150-cover restaurant, with ‘dark and atmospheric’ decor which matches that of its original art deco-themed Cardiff venue. Elsewhere, coffee chain, Caffe Nero, has taken a 15-year lease on a 1,200-sq ft outlet at Four Brindleyplace. The Londonbased venture, which is recruiting ten staff, already operates ten coffee-houses in the West Midlands, including ones in Birmingham’s Bulllring and Waterloo Street, at Birmingham Airport, and in Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Stafford.
Peter Khela, Sarah Grange Gemma Butler
>> New jobs Flo into region Up to 50 jobs have been created at Flomatik Network Services’ new engineering services division in the West Midlands. Acting on behalf of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton secured the letting of the 35,000 sq ft unit at Kingsbury Business Park, near Birmingham, on a 10-year lease. Flomatik Network Services specialises in realising next generation developments for the IT, telecommunications, TV and broadband industries. Initially 25 personnel will be based at Kingsbury but this is forecast to rise to around 50 by the end of 2014.
>> Recruiter pitches in >> Landmark instruction is an agent’s paradise The Birmingham offices of CBRE and GVA have picked up the city’s most-prized instruction, for the £450m Paradise Circus scheme. Argent, backed by Hermes Real Estate, aims to create 1.8m sq ft of mixed-use space on the 17-acre site, which will form a development corridor – and long-needed link – between the traditional Central Business District and Brindleyplace. The first phase alone will deliver 250,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, and the agents have been tasked with finding occupiers. GVA’s regional senior director, Ian Stringer, has been involved with Paradise Circus since its conception. Ashley Hancox, senior director in CBRE’s offices team, will lead on the scheme for his agency.
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Joint agents DTZ and Savills, acting on behalf of AXA, have let space at One Cornwall Street in Birmingham city centre to recruitment agency Pitch Consultants. The marketing, PR and creative recruitment specialists have taken 1,700 sq ft of grade A office space on the sixth floor of the building. Andrew Berry, senior surveyor at DTZ, said: “Following recent lettings to Chase de Vere and CMA CGM we are delighted to welcome Pitch Consultants to One Cornwall Street.”
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY >> Vax fills vacancy
Ashley Hancox (left) and Martin Guest outside CBRE’s new premises at 55 Temple Row
Nurton Developments has let a further 14,000 sq ft to floorcare brand Vax at its Two Colmore Square offices in Birmingham city centre. Vax relocated its offices from Droitwich to Birmingham city centre in 2011 and has now taken additional space and extended its existing lease for a further 10 years, committing to 35,000 sq ft. Rupert Young, development director at Birmingham-based Nurton Developments said: “Vax is a fantastic name to have at Two Colmore Square, exactly the sort of company this city is looking to attract, with design and innovation at its heart.”
>> Property group moves house CBRE has moved its Birmingham office to 55 Temple Row, taking 13,500 sq ft on the ground and first floors of Hermes Real Estate’s locally listed building. The property consultancy has taken a 15 year lease at a rent of £22 per sq ft, at the landmark building facing St Philip’s Cathedral Square, originally occupied by the Bank of England. The building was designed by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners featuring Portland stone and copper clad beams and was built between 1969 and 1972. Ashley Hancox, a senior director in CBRE’s office agency team, said: “The unique branding opportunity that 55 Temple Row provides was unmissable. The new office will allow us to provide a unique environment for our staff and clients.” Waheed Nazir, director of planning and regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “The use of the building by one of the pre-eminent professional services businesses in the UK is great news.”
>> REI welcomes Goodchilds Real Estate Investors plc (REI), the Birmingham-based property group, has announced a letting to Goodchilds. The Wolverhampton-based estate agents and lettings firm has moved into 102 Colmore Row in Birmingham city centre, taking 269 sq ft at £25 per sq ft on a five-year term. The business currently has offices at Aldridge, Burntwood, Cannock, Erdington, Lichfield, Milton Keynes, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Telford, Walsall, Wednesbury and Wednesfield. Ian Clark, REI’s senior asset manager, said: “The housing sector is reviving fast – it is very encouraging.”
>> Award winner Real estate company Cushman & Wakefield has been named the most active retail agent in the West Midlands – for the second year running. The firm – which last year completed a massive 221 transactions – finished in top spot in a survey of deal activity carried out by
property trade magazine Estates Gazette. Rob Alston, retail partner at Cushman & Wakefield in Birmingham, said: “To be named as most active retail agent in the West Midlands for two years running is a great achievement.”
>> History in the remaking Part of a once historic mansion in Redditch has been transformed into newly refurbished offices. And Midlands chemist chain Knights Pharmacy is earmarked as the first tenant. The suites, being marketed by property agents John Truslove, are at Ipsley Court, Ipsley Church Lane, the site of a 16th-century country house. The Grade II Listed office element, the oldest part of the original Great House, has been acquired by a local private investor from Elegant Developments who are also masterminding the apartment side. “These are breathtaking offices,” said Ian Parker, a John Truslove partner.
>> Hotelier checks into Stourbridge More than 60 jobs will be created as work starts on an 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on a four-acre site just off Birmingham Street in Stourbridge. The hotel will be part of an £8m mixed-use development, which will include a Brewer’s Fayre restaurant, a drive-through unit and 122 car parking spaces. Completion is planned for the autumn. John Bates, head of acquisitions for UK and Ireland for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, said: “We are delighted to be bringing an 80-Bedroom Premier Inn to Stourbridge, with our development partner Barberry Developments. The development represents a significant £6 million investment in the town and will create 65 new jobs in the local area. It will also contribute to the wider regeneration of the town-centre, attracting new visitors to the local area and boosting local trade.”
ONLINE: More commercial property stories are available on BQ’s website www.bq-magazine.co.uk
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HALE THE CRUSADER A campaign to promote ‘design and technology’ as a core subject in education is being led by West Midlands industrialist Martyn Hale. Sandy Simpson reports What’s the connection between Sir James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame, Adrian Newey, head of F1 racing team Red Bull, and Professor Dame Julia King, vice chancellor of Aston University? All three have pledged support to industrialist Martyn Hale’s campaign aimed at keeping design and technology to the fore of everything that is taught in schools, colleges and universities. Hale began his campaign when his company sponsored the 2011 conference of the National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology. The campaign stems from his role as chairman of HME Technology, based in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, a market leader in the manufacture of design and technology and science equipment in schools. But his passion for design and technology has long since outstripped what might be seen as a vested commercial interest. So much so that he has this year offered The Imagineering Foundation, which runs engineering clubs for young people aged eight to 16, an operating base at HME Technology’s offices on the Saxon Business Park. It’s all part of his desire to keep
Entrepreneur MADE The Festival: Sheffield 24 - 25 September 2014
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design and technology not only on the school curriculum – more of that later – but also at the forefront of young people’s minds as they work their way through the education system. Martyn says: “We are now the operating arm of Imagineering where we service the primary school market of ‘in and after’ school lessons. Volunteers, often retired engineers, work with schools weekly throughout the academic year, building models and having fun in the process. “The Foundation has been a fantastic success story, much of it down to David Yates, founder of the Imagineering clubs, and chairman Bob Shanks’ pioneering work. We are thrilled that even closer links between our two organisations are now in place.” Bob Shanks says: “Martyn and the team are passionate about engineering and education. Both parties were actively involved in promoting and securing a more robust curriculum for design and technology in which they secured the support of Sir Peter Luff MP – that was key to a subsequent successful meeting with Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Education and Childcare, in July 2013. While physics and mathematics capability is crucial for engineers, it is the
‘hands-on’ experience, or ‘learning by doing’, that is far more likely to capture the interest of the young, especially those still at school.” The Foundation was formed in 1999 by a group of West Midlands engineers who were concerned about a dramatic and worrying lack of interest among youngsters in engineering and technology as a future career. It was launched as an educational charity two years later. Highly active, it organises around 145 engineering clubs across the UK. Currently it is receiving enquiries about the scheme from as far away as Australia and continental Europe. Each week around 2,000 children take part. But its work could have been for naught if some of the civil servants around Education Minister Michael Gove had had their way. Only three years ago, as the UK economy was starting to pick up again on the back of a manufacturing revival, an ‘expert advisory panel’ recommended that design and technology should no longer be a compulsory element of the national curriculum. In 2011 and through 2012, Martyn Hale worked assiduously to lobby local MPs including Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, Worcester MP Sir
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Peter Luff and also Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, the constituency for Martyn’s home in Mappleborough Green. But he also took his campaign to the heart of Government, and the likes of Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills and Enterprise, and Elisabeth Truss, Minister for Education and Childcare, were left in no doubt as to how
strongly he felt that design and technology should not only be on the national curriculum but at the very heart of the education process. During the campaign he cited a Local Government Association (LGA) report that showed that in 2011 more than 94,000 people completed hair and beauty courses, despite there being just 18,000 new jobs in the sector,
Hands-on experience or ‘learning by doing’, is far more likely to capture the interest of the young
meaning there were five qualified people for every job. “More than double the number of people were trained to work in hospitality, sport and leisure than there were jobs advertised,” he says. “The LGA report said that as many as 17% of job vacancies in England were now directly attributable to skills shortages.” As the campaign strengthened, more influencers got involved, including: Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore and Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, the former CBI Director General. As 2013 progressed, it became clear that the campaign had reached those that mattered as the Department of Education agreed to strengthen the position of design and technology content on the >>
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national curriculum. it is still not where he would like it to be – it remains as an ‘option’ subject whereas Martyn would like it to be a ‘compulsory’ subject – but he sees the latest position as a step in the right direction. “the Chancellor called the last Budget one for ‘makers and doers’ and this emphasises the need for more engineers,” he says. But he’s still concerned that design and technology is among as many as 18 ‘options’ from which children can chose. “the challenge isn’t over yet. the ministers Matthew hancock and elizabeth truss have not yet fully understood that design and technology needs to be a core subject, not an option, and they are surrounded by civil servants more concerned with designing measuring sticks such as the so-called ‘Progress 8’ which is meaningless to the layman – and probably intentionally so – rather than focusing on what is essential for the economy. namely, that is producing young people with the skills actually required in the workplace, rather than a degree in history or geography, worthy though those may seem.” Martyn is still concerned that the government’s approach to gCses fails to reflect the world of work, and that design and technology risks being marginalised. the government denies this, but it can be assured of hearing more on the subject from Martyn. subject selection is currently taking place in schools with the new curriculum introduced through 2015/16, and he wants design and technology to replace geography and history under the banner of ‘humanities’ in the core tier. he said the thought of the uK being anywhere but at the cutting edge of scientific and technological development “doesn’t bear thinking about”. Martyn adds: “this core competence is in our dna and forms the foundation for our proud and much admired standing in the global marketplace.” and he urges the government: “Please don’t take these vital attributes for granted. retain the subject of design and technology on the secondary school curriculum.” n
Entrepreneur MADE The Festival: Sheffield 24 - 25 September 2014
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From Concorde maker to sector champion Martyn hale was born in 1946 in Coventry and is still, at 67, an ardent Coventry City F C supporter. he attended ash green secondary Modern and left at 15, with no o-levels, to work in a gents’ outfitter in Coventry city centre until he was 21. he then spent two years with dunlop aviation at a time when the firm was working on the Concorde project, providing many of the control systems, the brakes and wheels. at the same time, Martyn returned to education, attending henley College to pass o-levels in Maths, Physics, english and economics. at 23, he joined hJ heinz as a salesman, just as the firm was gaining increasing popularity for its tinned foods. he was heavily involved in the marketing and displays that promoted the products in shops.“everything we did was about tomatoes!” Martyn said. in those days, pre-supermarkets, heinz had the second biggest salesforce after Kellogg’s, so it provided him with a thorough grounding in sales and retail. he toured Coventry with his cloth ‘product launch’ bag containing tins that had to be kept in pristine condition for when they were brandished with a flourish before important buyers. But the lure of a bigger car and more money was too much, and soon Martyn moved to J. lyons & Co, selling teas such as Quick Brew, ground coffees, ready Brek cereal and Maryland Cookies. his next move was into construction, selling steel reinforcements for big infrastructure projects such as the M27, and then selling modular system buildings for projects such as north sea oil. in 1972, he married Jackie and in 1976 took the giant leap into working for himself when he set up linemann halflo in redditch, selling industrial vibration equipment and compressed air blasting systems to the mining, cement and power generation industries. in 1984 he started hMe technology ltd – the acronym standing for hot Metal equipment – which had offices in Kidderminster before moving to its eventual home in Bromsgrove. a series of later acquisitions led to the union name of finishing machines along with heat treatment and dust collectors, which form the basis of the firm’s product range. a passionate supporter of Margaret thatcher, Martyn was the first Conservative councillor on solihull Metropolitan Borough Council from 1972-78, representing shirley West. his son-in-law, Julian davis, joined hMe technology ltd as managing director in 2005 and together, with Martyn taking more of a back seat as chairman, they have established the firm as the leading uK manufacturer and supplier of equipment for school workshops.
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WHAT IS ASSET BASED FINANCE (ABF) AND HOW DOES IT WORK? The term ‘asset based finance’ (ABF) is used to describe a number of commercial finance products available to businesses. Put simply, they involve funding provided by a financier on the basis of the assets contained within a client business One of the most significant ‘assets’ that a business will have will be the debts owed to them by their clients - represented by their unpaid invoices - and for this reason ABF is often referred to as invoice finance, but strictly speaking the terms are not interchangeable. In the UK there are two well known invoice finance products; invoice discounting and factoring. Both products provide a business with the ability to draw money against its unpaid sales ledger. To provide this, the financier advances an agreed percentage of the value of the sales ledger to the business, effectively using the unpaid invoices to secure the funding. Each offers an immediate availability of funds of around 80 per cent to 85 per cent of the value contained within the sales ledger. The remainder is available to the client when the customer pays, less the financier’s fees: Factoring - provides firms with the working capital to operate their business, together with an outsourced sales ledger and collections service, plus the option to transfer the risk of debtor failure to the financier. Invoice discounting – is similar to factoring, but for businesses that prefer to carry out their own credit control. It provides funding together with the option to insure the debtor
Jeff Longhurst, chief executive of the Asset Based Finance Association
risk and can be provided on a confidential basis without disclosure to the debtors. In addition to the two main invoice finance products, asset based lending (ABL) is the third product offered under the ABF banner. Where invoice discounting and factoring are pure revolving cashflow facilities secured against the debt purchase, ABL solutions normally offer a combination of such a facility based upon the debts and assets such as stock, and an amortising loan secured on other assets within the client business. What issues should a business consider in
Invoice finance works well in most sectors and is extremely well suited to such sectors as staffing, construction, manufacturing and professional services
order to decide if ABF is the right option? It might seem obvious, but a business should always consider the nature of their funding requirements and then look at what funding solution (or solutions) is going to best meet its needs. An overdraft or a term loan might work for some businesses; if a firm is looking to acquire a piece of equipment, then leasing or hire purchase is likely to be the best solution. But, if what a business really needs to do is to unlock its cash-flow and/or raise additional funding based on its other assets, then asset based finance products are likely to be the answer. Beyond this, businesses need to consider the suitability of their sector and type of business. Invoice finance works well in most sectors and is extremely well suited to such sectors as staffing, construction, manufacturing and professional services. However, it can be less suitable for those firms with complex sales contracts, for instance those with complicated after sales warranties or stage payments. You can see if your business may be suitable for ABF and find vendors that are best able to suit your requirements at: http://s.abfa.org.uk/1sadPav Funding via asset based finance is generally directly related to sales growth and so grows in-line with the business. This gives the user the added benefit of not having to constantly rearrange funding lines. Furthermore, products such as factoring offer SMEs additional administrative and/or debtor support which can be extremely helpful and cost effective when trying to grow a business. n Jeff Longhurst, chief executive of the Asset Based Finance Association
BUSINESS BUSINESSQUARTER QUARTER||SUMMER SPRING 14
The asset based finance sector helps drive the UK’s economic recovery New research from digital marketing agency SiteVisibility shows that ‘invoice finance’ was amongst the most popular website search terms when it comes to business finance last year. This demonstrates the growth and interest from businesses which the asset based finance (ABF) industry is currently seeing. Since the dark days of 2008/9, the total annual turnover of the industry’s client base has seen a strong upward trend, from £211bn in 2010 to more than £250bn in 2012. Last year this reached over £275bn. The industry is continuing to surge forward with figures demonstrating the strongest performance since the recession. Figures for quarter four 2013 show the industry advancing more funding to SMEs than ever and record annual turnover for clients. Total client funding has also reached record levels. In December 2009 the balance was £13.9bn, but since it has grown steadily to hit over £18bn, an aggregate growth of 32% with an 11% increase in 2013 alone. This has supported significant growth in clients’
sales. At the close of 2013, the sales of ABF clients had increased by 10% year-on-year compared to a GDP growth of just 1.8%. With the 2010 client sales figure being £211bn, this shows a cumulative current growth of some 30% in three years, underlining how much the industry has supported UK and Irish firms since the financial crisis. The quarterly sales figure of £72.7bn is also a record high, up £1bn on the same period last year and only the second time over the £70bn mark for a single quarter. Export figures for both factoring and invoice discounting are also showing robust growth, with year-on-year increases of 18% and 12% respectively. Four in five businesses using ABF have turnover under £5 million. Many smaller companies find factoring advantageous in allowing the outsourcing of credit control, freeing up management time to focus on the business. Invoice discounting and asset based lending (ABL) are increasingly popular choices for growing and larger businesses however and a considerable proportion of the increase
in funding provided by the industry overall is via these facilities. The industry provides more funding to clients in the £100 million+ turnover bracket than any other segment, £5.5bn at the end of quarter four 2013. Apart from financing growth opportunities, the demand for ABF is also driven by increasing requirements for working capital. A recent report from Sage Pay indicates SMEs are owed £55bn in unpaid invoices. With the Government focusing on payment practices and access to finance, the role of ABF in helping business has never been greater. All of which makes a big statement. ABF is providing record funding to over 43,400 clients, which in turn is supporting high sales. The figures are extremely heartening and show the industry is playing an integral part in the UK’s economic recovery. For more information on how Asset Based Finance can help your business grow visit www.abfa.org.uk and to view a series of ABFA member case studies visit https://s.abfa.org.uk/1khGgCJ
Flexible Solution Driven Finance BNP Paribas Commercial Finance supports the mid-corporate market in the Midlands by delivering high-value, multiproduct working capital solutions in both domestic and cross border markets. BNP Paribas Commercial Finance is part of the global BNP Paribas Banking Group and a European market leader for invoice finance in terms of geographic coverage, turnover and revenue. Call us on - 0845 693 1433 and find out how our flexible finance solutions can be structured to assist you in meeting your business objectives.
BNP Paribas Commercial Finance Ltd is a member of the Asset Based Finance Association (“ABFA”) and as such we are bound by the ABFA Code for Members. For more information about the Code please visit www.abfa.org.uk/standards/overview.pdf
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Access to working capital for the growing business is alive and well Gerry Donnelly, Director at FRP Advisory, Birmingham offers a business advisor’s perspective on the benefits of Asset Based Lending Since the onset of the banking crisis more than five years ago, it has become increasingly common to hear Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and their advisors complain about the lack of available bank lending to help support working capital needs. As we enter a period of regrowth in business banking, the complaints in some corners persist about access to capital. But has access to working capital really continued to tighten? Or is there a new norm, where the lending world, including the big high street banks, has diversified its offering in a shift away from the traditional overdraft-based principle to lending and into other areas of credit based more on the principle of cash-flow? This shift in approach to lending is all about providing more security for both parties - creditor and debtor, business owner and investor and lender - in the way the capital is borrowed, invested and provides a return for management and stakeholders. FRP Advisory, along with its independently managed commercial broking arm First Financial, works closely with advisors and companies to acquire alternative sources of funding. Both FRP Advisory and First Financial have found that whilst the appetite of banks to provide overdrafts has definitely decreased, the Asset Based Lending (ABL) arms of both the banks and independent lenders is stronger than ever, including their desire to provide funding to SMEs. If SMEs require working capital funding and bankowned and independent ABLs want to provide this type of funding, why does the perception of a dwindling access to capital still linger? Despite the hard work of the Asset Based Finance Association
Gerry Donnelly, Director at FRP Advisory
(ABFA), the trade body which oversees and promotes ABL, a perception still persists among SMEs (and in many cases among their advisors) that the use of an ABL facility is indicative, however wrongly, of a failing business. The old “lender of last resort” stigma still remains. An analysis of the ABFA’s annual industry statistics tells a story of a mismatch between a clear supply of lending available in the form of ABL and demand among companies for working capital solutions. Whilst a recent survey revealed that approximately 400,000 companies in the UK would be suitable for an ABL facility, at the end of December 2013 only 43,485 firms had such a facility in place. Significantly that marks a drop of over 100 in four years, from 43,590 ABL facilities in December 2009 at the height of the banking crisis, all while ABLs were increasing their willingness to increase funding levels. Among smaller companies (up to
FRP Advisory, along with its independently managed commercial broking arm First Financial, works closely with advisors and companies to acquire alternative sources of funding
£1.0m turnover) the decline in ABLs is even more acute, with 21,000 in place at December 2013, a fall of 3,000 or 12% over four years. ABL has proved more popular with larger companies (turnover in excess of £10m), growing 41% over the same four year period from 2,900 to 4,100 firms. There are also now 335 large companies with turnover in excess of £100m using ABL funding, a 52% rise over four years. The world of ABL has become increasingly more sophisticated and has moved well away from the days of simple factoring. SMEs of all sizes can now obtain Confidential Invoice Discounting (CID) facilities. There are also a number of bank-owned and independent lenders offering facilities to the construction industry, something which was previously unheard of. FRP Advisory believes that ABL is the most readily available form of working capital funding in today’s lending markets and that it is suited for businesses seeking to grow, or to secure their day-to-day working capital needs, regardless of their size. It is no longer a “lend of last resort”, but a sophisticated financial product, which can help businesses maximise their cash flow and therefore their ability not just to survive in an economic downturn, but to grow when the market changes. Access to working capital is alive and well and an asset based lending approach can give companies, both large and small, the security to borrow for growth.
For more information please contact Gerry Donnelly on 0790 896 2086 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.frpadvisory.com
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Growth is on the agenda for Midlands businesses Paul Edmeades, Business Development Director, GE Capital UK, has over 20 years’ experience in asset based lending (ABL). Paul leads a team of experienced ABL professionals from GE Capital’s offices in Birmingham city centre, with a primary focus on the Midlands region. Paul shares recent activity at GE Capital and the SME market outlook. 2013 saw early evidence of sustained growth in the UK, with many economic experts revising forecasts upwards and a rise in business confidence. 2014 has already seen manufacturing output in the Midlands grow at its fastest pace for nearly 16 years, with market projections showing stronger growth to come. In fact there is continued business optimism across the region with a record number of manufacturers (47%) planning to boost investment in the next quarter*. Growth is on the agenda and at GE Capital we have helped many SME and mid-market businesses raise finance to fund their growth aspirations. Findings from GE Capital’s Capital Expenditure Barometer – Capex Research**, reinforces this optimism. The research, conducted amongst 2,250 SME business leaders across seven European markets earlier this year shows that UK SMEs intend to invest an estimated £58.6bn in the next 12 months, a 12% increase on their spending intentions of 12 months ago. In the same 12 month period, UK SMEs also plan to expand the workforce, creating over 661,248 new fulltime jobs (up 26%), with overall, net confidence at 54%, up 21% on last year. Finding the best way to fund business investment is never a case of one size fits all, which is why GE Capital provides smart, flexible and tailored finance solutions wherever a business is in its growth lifecycle.
Paul Edmeades, Business Development Director, GE Capital UK
In recent years, solutions such as invoice finance and ABL have come of age as some businesses look beyond standard-term loans from traditional lenders to solutions that offer greater flexibility and clarity. In particular GE Capital’s ability to provide funding, not only against receivables but for inventory, plant & machinery and property as part of a complete package, has helped support a number of businesses across the region. According to the latest figures from the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) the total
Here in the UK we have helped fund and build businesses over the last 40 years. Annually we supply more than £10bn in working capital to more than 40,000 UK businesses
number of businesses using asset based finance has risen to over 43,000, funding total advances to clients of £18.3bn in one quarter (Oct 13 to Dec13) and supporting relative total customer sales for 2013 of over £275bn, a growth of 10% year-on-year.*** Here in the UK, GE Capital has helped fund and build businesses for over 40 years. Annually we supply more than £10bn in working capital to more than 40,000 UK businesses. But funding is only half the story; we understand there is a need to provide more than just financing. GE Capital brings insight, knowledge and expertise, gained from over 130 years of industrial and global heritage, to our customers, helping them to reach their business goals. We know that better capital builds better businesses. *EEF Manufacturing Outlook survey Q1 2014 ** GE Capital’s SME Capex Barometer is a regular survey designed to provide an on-going view on investment intentions of SME’s in the United Kingdom. *** The Asset Based Finance Association Q4 Report, October- December 2013, www. abfa.org.uk
If GE Capital can help your business grow contact Paul via email email@example.com or phone 07703 107488. www.gecapital.co.uk
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INVOICE FINANCE // STOCK // P&M // TRADE // PROPERTY
You build the business. We’ll build the confidence.
e flexibility and expertise of an independent, together with the strength and extended product range of its parent, Bank Leumi (UK) plc, make a winning combination. Specialising in structured ABL facilities up to £25m with exceptional levels of client service.
Automotive components manufacturer required flexible funding to support fast growth
£20m turnover poultry business required flexible funding to support growth plans
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£7m ABL facility including CID, P&M, cashflow loan + funding from Bank Leumi (UK)
seasonal multi-million £ CID facility
To find out more about the Leumi ABL approach to business call Jason Holland on 07824 486820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.leumiabl.co.uk Brighton ■ London ■ Birmingham ■ Leeds ■ Manchester ■ Reading ABL MULTI FINANCIAL AWARD WINNERS 2013 -2014 World Bank 2013
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Experience afternoon tea in the heart of the city The perfect antidote to the bustle of Birmingham, the Hilton Garden Inn has created its own afternoon oasis of peace and tranquillity with its scrumptious selection of traditional Afternoon Teas. Located in the city’s prestigious Brindley Place, just off Broad Street, the Hilton Garden Inn is quickly becoming the destination of choice for those wanting to experience all that the city has to offer including the nearby National Indoor Arena, International Convention Centre, Symphony Hall, the Bullring shopping centre as well as cool and quirky mixture of bars and galleries which surround it. The new Afternoon Tea offering is served in the Hilton Garden Inns stylishly appointed City Café, which offers views over the city and canals, and provides a welcome retreat after a hard day in the city. It’s a great and alternative way to catch up with friends or take some time out with a loved one. Choose from a decadent selection of dainty finger sandwiches, a handpicked and delicious cake selection as well scones, freshly baked by the Hilton Garden Inn’s team of talented Chefs and served with the traditional and delicious accompaniments of thick fresh cream and sweet, juicy jam, all served beautifully on an afternoon tea stand. There’s even a delicious Citrus Sorbet designed to cleanse the palate. Guests also enjoy unlimited top-ups of their teapot, and can choose from a timeless selection of Twining’s teas including traditional English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong. What’s more, such luxury comes at an incredibly affordable £12.95 per person making it a must have treat rather than a guilty pleasure.
NAUGHTY BUT NICE! Enjoy our Modern Afternoon Tea. Perfect for a romantic afternoon, girl’s day out or a birthday treat! Only £12.95 per person.
The perfect antidote to the bustle of Birmingham, the Hilton Garden Inn has created its own afternoon oasis of peace and tranquillity with its scrumptious selection of traditional Afternoon Teas
City Café @ Hilton Garden Inn, 1 Brunswick Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HW. Tel 0121 643 1003 www. birminghambrindleyplace.hgi.com
BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
faith in regionâ€™s economic future
A former management career with BP means The Right Reverend David Urquhart has a keen interest in the economic world. Steve Dyson breaks naan bread with the Bishop of Birmingham
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It was during a Church of England visit to China in 2006 that The Right Reverend David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham, realised his industrial background was sometimes landing him in hot water. “We were touring a factory making hi-tech radio parts and binoculars,” recalls the Bishop, now aged 62. “I remember being fascinated by what they were doing, the size of their market and so on. There were a lot of puzzled faces at all my questions about ‘the big plan’, and then we were suddenly marched out of the factory very quickly!” It’s not the only time that the Bishop’s economic knowledge has resulted in controversy. Earlier this year, along with other Bishops, he signed a letter criticising the Government’s welfare reforms for creating a “national crisis”. It noted how Britain was the world’s seventh largest economy “and yet half a million people” visited food banks in the last year with “5,500 people admitted to hospital for malnutrition”. This high-profile intervention – the open letter was published in national newspapers – embarrassed the Government, but for the Bishop it’s an example of how religion should play a practical part in real life. “One of the main roles of Bishops and faith leaders is to speak up for those who have no voice of their own,” he says, “even if that’s politically unpopular. There’s always the danger of being misinterpreted or pigeon-holed, but when the issue is as stark as ordinary working people not having enough food to eat, then I believe that needs the widest publicity, coupled with attempts to find solutions.” The Bishop emphasises the word “solutions” – and feels strongly that the church should offer leadership in trying to find answers. Nationally, he’s the Church of England’s spokesman on the economy, tax and business in the House of Lords, and is constantly highlighting how industry can help make Britain a better place. After the most recent Queen’s speech, for example, he spoke during the debate about connecting “profits and poverty”, and how “well-resourced jobs” could help solve the “inequality dilemma”. Back in Birmingham, he chairs a ‘Social Inclusion Process’ – basically an inquiry into poverty – that’s trying to bring politicians, businesses and the voluntary sector together to cope with huge local government
We simply must involve businesses at the heart of the future, because the success of cities like Birmingham relies on jobs provided by successful enterprises budget cuts. Although his language is diplomatic, I sense frustration in his voice as he laments how central Government has “dismantled” the local authorities that Britain relied on for 40 years. I also hear real urgency as he explains the crucial role businesses now have. There’s huge work ahead to draw effective entrepreneurs and commercial leaders into the design and delivery of social policy in the light of catastrophic local budgets cuts. We simply must involve businesses at the heart of the future, because the success of cities like Birmingham relies on jobs provided by successful enterprises.” But there’s no broad brush from the Bishop, who warns against false economic hopes that, when stripped down, are too often based on low pay and zero hours.
“The real tragedy of the economy is seeing employment statistics going down, but although people are in jobs they simply don’t pay enough to live on, and are not secure enough to plan a proper future. “That’s why I want firms to aspire to a living wage and properly contracted employment. I’m not very impressed with employment statistics. What I am impressed with is productivity – goods and services produced that are sufficiently desirable so people are prepared to pay significant premiums for the cost of producing them. It’s about trying to join up the social inclusion agenda and the economic growth agenda, rather than treating welfare reform and business growth policies in silos.” It’s an unusually detailed economic approach for a Bishop, and to understand it we need to travel back through time. David Urquhart was born in a medical family in Inverness; both his late father and grandfather were surgeons in Edinburgh, and his sister, Veryan Biggar, is a physiotherapist. His mother, Betty, is still active and lives in the family home in Inverness, (“I won’t dare to reveal her age,” he jokes.) Aged eight, he was sent to boarding school, first at Pitlochry, north of Perth, and then to Rugby School where he stayed until A-levels. A sense of independence and adventure then took the teenager on a gap year to Uganda via a Youth Service Abroad scheme, run by the Church Mission Society. “I arrived on 6 February 1971 – just seven days after Idi Amin had taken power. I was working with the physically disabled at a former leprosy hospital on an island on Lake Bunyani, near Lake Victoria. Life was really basic – dug-out canoes and all that goes with it – and I found my Christian faith through the examples of local people. Some had polio and couldn’t walk, but there were no wheelchairs, and they were literally on their hands and knees. They had almost nothing, but although they’d been dealt a bad hand in life they displayed a real friendship and an ability to try to make sense of the world. Their faith impressed me enormously and converted me.” With A-levels in Economics, History and English, he returned to the UK and ended up leafing through an A-to-Z careers advice manual searching for organisations to fund a degree. “I got as far as B – that’s B for BP – and they >>
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BUSINESS LUNCH funded my degree in Business Studies at Ealing Business School. It was called a BA Honours ‘thin sandwich’ – six months study, six months working in different departments, for five years, seeing everything.” Graduating in 1977, his first role was in BP’s economic planning, “competing with the Treasury, predicting what was going to happen in the economy”. He then “attempted to climb the greasy pole of commercial management”, spending periods in Germany in specialist oils marketing, in Middlesbrough running sales to industrial markets, in London on product development, and in Northern Ireland on the then huge bottled gas markets. He bought a Kawasaki Z750E in Ireland and “my love of big bikes began”. But it was in Middlesbrough that ideas around a church career began: “I’d been doing volunteer youth work in Middlesbrough, and the parents of those children – real people, unemployed steel workers – encouraged me to go into the church.” Returning from Belfast in 1982, he remembers thinking: “Do I keep going with the career or do I go into the church? Someone advised me to ‘get as far as you can until 50, then go into the church’, but that didn’t seem satisfying. So I went to my boss and resigned, aged 30.” The new Reverend Urquhart’s industrial background meant he requested church postings to urban, industrial areas: he spent eight years in Hull and six years in Coventry as vicar; then six years as the suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead; and in 2006 he became the ninth Bishop of Birmingham. Reflecting on BP, the Bishop says: “I learned about excellence in every aspect of the business – scientifically, financially and commercially. I learned about adventure – after all, in the 1970s the oil industry was very much an exploration company. And I learned about ambition and achievement. I became financially literate. Oil prices doubled a year after I joined BP. Throughout the 1970s the British economy was in trouble, in special measures at one stage, with 21% inflation rates. I clearly remember Denis Healey [the then Chancellor] getting off his plane to America because the IMF had called [to discuss the UK’s delicate finances]. I learned my negotiating skills, and how success in business is partly based on
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A sizzling spot for business chatter Asha’s is one of the Bishop of Birmingham’s favourite haunts, and he looked comfortable talking to the waiters like old friends. We shared a special kebab platter for starters (£21.95): minced lamb kebabs seasoned with ginger, garlic and coriander; minced chicken kebabs cooked with cumin and saffron; chicken breasts marinated in a creamy cheese, cashew nut paste and cardamom; and baby lamb chops covered in ginger-garlic yoghurt, cumin and garam masala. The meat – so tender, full of flavour and cleverly retaining its moisture – was filling, but no foodlover can resist Asha’s main courses, and the Bishop and I love our food. He ordered Chingri Malai curry: sautéed prawns cooked with tomato onion puree and coconut milk (£16.95). “Huge prawns, and so fresh,” was the most said in between bites. I had Murgh Makhanwala curry, ‘Punjabi style’ (£15.95): a half chicken cooked on the bone in a sauce bursting with green chillies and ginger. Delicious. We both had saffron rice and shared a fluffy Peshwari naan. Sitting and chatting in the window at Asha’s was a pleasant experience which, added to the venue’s really tasty dishes, found us agreeing it was possibly Birmingham’s best curry house – no mean feat in a city with so many. Asha’s Contemporary Indian Bar & Restaurant, Edmund House, 12-22 Newhall Street, Birmingham B3 3LX. Call 0121 200 2767 or email email@example.com or visit www.ashasrestaurants.com/birmingham/
talent but mainly on disciplined, hard work. And I learned about difficult decision-making. For example, should BP’s subsidiary in South Africa cut off oil to Rhodesia or not? “And with the introduction of big, articulated lorries, should we close down small rural petrol stations that could no longer accept deliveries? These hard decisions were going to affect people’s lives as well as economics, and that’s how I see my life as a Bishop – from the back streets to the boardroom. At the same time as regarding each human being as unique and precious to God, I realise that we all work and live in a socio-economic framework which
needs profitability and successful management for those individuals to flourish. “That enables me to hold the big picture alongside really challenging circumstances that human beings at all levels are facing today, seeing people as a whole: members of households, communities and also workers in the economy. “There can be tendencies in the church to see people only as ‘Sunday’ people, whereas they spend a third of their life at work and should have that brought into focus as much as other parts.” The Bishop’s experience also prepared him for
his role as a Church Commissioner, reviewing the Church of England’s central assets and helping to structure its organisational and financial development into five-year goals. And he shares his business portfolio in the Lords with his boss, Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury, who he first met in the late 1970s when both worked in the oil industry and attended the Holy Trinity church in Brompton, London. “To have someone in whom I have a very similar background has given me a new boost of energy.” In addition to Birmingham, the Bishop’s diocese includes Solihull, parts of Warwickshire from Balsall Common in the south to the edge of Tamworth in the north, as well as parts of Sandwell and Dudley in the Black Country. It’s almost, I suggest, the Greater Birmingham area as imagined by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
“It is – and I very much back Greater Birmingham,” says the Bishop, although he jests: “If I went to Rowley Regis and spoke about ‘Greater’ Birmingham they’d throw me down the hill!” But on a serious note he adds: “I’m passionate about devolution to the regions, and the more we can link local authorities to business, the more effective we can be. “Birmingham’s one of Europe’s youngest cities and we need to develop the talent of our under 25s so they become creative entrepreneurs in culture, commerce and care – social, health and welfare care. Birmingham needs to operate in the global economy and we need superb communications, transport and infrastructure, and a flexible housing market to make a city which is the best place to live, work and play. “I’ve been very encouraged by Andy Street, the chairman of our LEP.
“He’s been very helpful in identifying proper boundaries between the LEP and our wider social concerns about alleviating poverty. But I’m still looking for a new cooperation between all leaders of commerce, industry, education and society – including politicians – to take responsibility for articulating and delivering that successful 21st century city.” Listing three major challenges, he adds: “One, we need an agreed pathway from school to employment; two, we need a combined negotiation with government – that’s fundamental; and three, corporate social responsibility must become part of the DNA of every single company in the region.” The Bishop is looking forward to a yet-tobe-announced mission to China in 2015, accompanying the Archbishop of Canterbury. But this time, he promises to behave and not get thrown out of any factories! n
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Saveker on Wine
wine lives up to that beautifully, along with a heritage and reliability of such an established French wine-maker My rating would be 3.5/5; Henri Bourgeois is family owned and has been passed through ten generations of wine growers.
family-made favourites Dani Saveker, chief executive of Families in Business Ltd, samples a white Sauvignon Blanc and a red Cotes du Rhone Villages French wine producers boast some of the worlds oldest family owned businesses. The Château de Goulaine vineyard was established in the year 1000 and is listed as the world’s third oldest family business. It’s certainly fair to suggest that there is a strong heritage built on traditional family values. Of course that’s not to say they all get along! Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc Loire 2012 I’m very much a red wine drinker but the first thing that struck me about the Petit Bourgeois was the aroma.
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As the chilled wine poured into my glass you could pick up the wonderful rich citrus scent. Extremely fresh and lively, the wine would be a beautiful accompaniment to fish, chicken and pork dishes particularly if served with rich sauces as the wine would cut through and cleanse the palate. It’s certainly crisp and has a slight acidic taste and although personally I’d not choose it as an aperitif I can understand how some would. Sauvignon Blanc means “Wild White” and I’d say that this
Domaine de la Bastide 2012 Visan Cotes du Rhone Villages Now red wine is much more my personal choice and I certainly enjoy a nice glass, or two, of Cotes du Rhone. This particular wine therefore was one I looked forward to. Having allowed it to suitably breathe – as I was taught/instructed by my father - I must say I was not let down in any way. Full bodied, rich with an inviting scent almost like dark chocolate. This is a smooth yet peppery wine with character; Intense and deep in colour, with a wealth of ripe fruit running through it. It’s a sophisticated and enjoyable drink which would work with everything from roast dinners to tender steak – although I enjoyed it simply as a drink on its own. As a frequent visitor to Serre Chevalier, a ski resort in the Hautes-Alpes region of the French Alps, this wine reminded me of many a happy evening eating a traditional Tartiflette dish and leisurely sipping a glass of Cotes du Rhone. What better way to finish a day on the slopes? My rating would be 4.5/5; Bernard and Nicole Boyer founded their family business in 1989, both came from families steeped in the wine making tradition, and it continues in the safe hands of their youngest son Vincent. n Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc Loire 2012 - £10.00. Domaine de la Bastide 2012 Visan Cotes du Rhone Villages - £8.80. Wines were kindly donated by Connolly’s Wine Merchants and can be brought from stores: Dovehouse, Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, 379 – 381 Warwick Road, Olton, Solihull, B91 1BQ Tel: 0121 709 3734 Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, Birmingham Livery Street, Birmingham, B3 1EU Tel: 0121 236 3837 www.connollyswine.co.uk
high anD mightY
Nicola Underhill, general manager of The Hilton Garden Inn, takes a break from her usual low rider to test drive a Range Rover Evoque SD4 4WD
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For someone who usually drives a low sporty manual car the prospect of driving the Evoque Dynamic SD4 190HP Nine Speed Automatic 4WD was somewhat intriguing – would the drive be as enjoyable (and fun) when you let a car take control and choose the gears for you? On first impressions the car looks great with its 20 inch alloy wheels, its gloss black bonnet louvres and sliding panoramic sun roof and this model comes with a long list of specifications as standard, which gives it that luxury car feel. It would definitely fit in amongst the ‘Cheshire Set’ back at home. The plush interior also has some nice touches e.g. dynamic grained leather seats, ambient lighting and HDD Premium Navigation system. There is also a good sound system that links and gives full functionality with an iPod. I was really surprised at how well the car handled for an SUV and it didn’t feel like you were driving a large vehicle, but then it has been described as the more feminine of 4x4s. The diesel engine offers strong performance which averages over 40mpg and the ninespeed automatic gearbox is smooth and rarely gets caught in the wrong gear. The super-fast, super-smooth gearshifts (apparently this car changes gear in 150 milliseconds) means that even when it does change gear, you barely notice it. In fact there seems to be a ‘right’ gear for every situation and as a result there’s no sense of the ‘gearbox hunting’ that can occur with a manual. There’s even built in technology that allows the car to change direct from ninth to fifth gear for instant response, and corner recognition technology stops it shifting gear mid-corner too, adding to the feeling of reassurance: the Evoque does seem more planted and stable as a result.
The overall feel during our test drive around the roads and motorways of Birmingham is simply one of great positivity. Okay so it’s a completely different drive to my Audi TT Turbo Diesel Injection, but it’s responsive to the throttle and it masks the turbo lag of the diesel engine thanks to its ability to select the right gear for the job. The Evoque nine-speed auto simply feels ‘right’. Drivers like me who love manual gear systems usually find automatics frustrating,
because they’re intrusive and not smart enough to know what the right gear is at the right time. This new nine-speed however surprisingly takes away that frustration. It’s able to secondguess you and feels more like a really refined DSG gearbox than a regular automatic. Nine-speed gearboxes sound unlikely, but this shows they work. Would I swap my own beloved car for one? I would never get rid of my TT, but if I had enough money I’d definitely buy an Evoque as a second car. n The vehicle kindly loaned to Nicola Underhill, General Manager of The Hilton Garden Inn was an Evoque Dynamic SD4 190HP 9 Speed Automatic 4WD. It retails at £41,105. For further information please contact Emma Boydell, Fleet and Business Dealer Manager at Stratstone Land Rover, Solihull on 0121 745 5566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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LooK Who’s Wearing the trousers
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FASHIoN Trouser suits – much maligned during the Thatcherite era – are making a comeback, but not at the expense of femininity, writes Josh Sims
“Power”, giorgio armani recently announced, “can be feminine.” Look to the catwalks, and power is certainly in play. if the 1980s saw women embracing the sober tailoring of their male counterparts – all the better to play them at their own corporate game – then so-called power dressing is back: the middle line of soft mixed separates, as espoused by michelle obama – not an unpowerful woman after all – has given way to a revival of the office style that some women working the greasy pole in big business once felt compelled to wear in order to be treated as equals to the pin-striped men. now the likes of gucci, Yves saint Laurent, christian Dior and, of course, armani are back with those trouser suits for women – but this time with a softer, slender, more feminised silhouette than the broad shouldered kind of 30 years ago. the power shades are still there – the black, navy and charcoal that look right around the boardroom table – but now too are more gentle, pastel shades of metallic neutrals, which can carry the look away from the office and
into eveningwear. the style is not so rigid either – jacket and trousers may well now be co-ordinated separates rather than stiffly matched. that the new power suit is a softer affair is just as well – figures suggest that the first women to buy into this more formal style are young enough not to have remembered power dressing the first time around, and are perhaps excited by the crisp air of authority and grown-upness that it brings; but of course the big fashion brands also need it to appeal to the wealthier, older customers for whom the power suit – as the makers of 1980s satirical puppet show ‘spitting image’ hyped in their churchillian portrayal of margaret thatcher – often suggested a more overt masculinisation that was not always that appealing. today the power suit may be right for a more serious, postcrash working world, but women are, all the same, not quick to dress with androgyny in mind. that was not always the case. if the sight of a woman in a trouser suit is unlikely to upset the
horses these days, recall that it was enough to see women barred from entry into certain private establishments within the last three decades. the first power suits, indeed, very much had in mind the agency of the provocateur. it was bold for any woman to play with gender stereotypes through their clothing during the 1920s and 30s. the exceptions perhaps were hollywood stars the likes of marlene Dietrich, who wore trouser suits by elsa schiaparelli, or Josephine Baker – a regular at the Parisian men’s bespoke tailors cifonelli – or later artists the likes of frida Kahlo or Lee miller. their celebrity and/or avant garde lifestyle somewhat permitted it. certainly, society has long held deeply-cultural prohibitions against women dressing as men, sometimes, as in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, even proscribing it in law. it was only from the early 1890s through to late in the first decade of the 1900s that women were permitted to wear trousers in public for, by turns, horse-riding and bicycle-riding. this was not, however, an issue for most >>
Certainly, society has long held deeply-cultural prohibitions against women dressing as men, sometimes, as in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, even proscribing it in law
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Katharine Hepburn, Annie Lennox, Margaret Thatcher and Madonna knew how to play the power suit fashion game
women. And fewer still would even have considered wearing what was strongly defined as a man’s two-piece suit – the choice of some early women’s rights campaigners during the 1920s precisely because of its scandalousness and bohemianism. This was dressing as politics. In contrast, up until World War Two,
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most women who did wear trousers did so purely for acceptable reasons of practicality – for ranch or factory work, or because one happened to be an adventurer-aviator the likes of Amelia Earhart. But this was a trend that the War made much more commonplace, such that throughout the 1940s trouserwearing by women became fashionable – again ably assisted by the endorsement of ‘slacks’ given by Hollywood stars the likes of Katharine Hepburn (whose characters often played on her supposed ‘mannishness’). Trousers were worn for sport and leisure. For most the tailored suit, however, remained an outsider proposition – the stuff of theatre and androgynous play, and perceived as such. It was a perception that would last, as with Julie Andrews in ‘Victor/Victoria’ (1982), The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox or ‘Vogue’-era Madonna. Certainly the new, more flattering power suit appears to be conscious of one lesson fashion history has offered: what suiting would become accepted by society and fashion alike was a much softer, feminised version popularised through Anton Courreges’ and Yves Saint Laurent’s women’s tailoring of the mid-1960s – most notably the latter’s ‘Le Smoking’ of 1966, a velvet and wool dinner suit reinterpreted for the female physique which both helped revolutionise attitudes to women in trousers, and scandalised society in the process. When singer Francoise Hardy wore it to the Paris Opera, “people screamed and hollered,” she recalled. New York socialite Nan Kempner was refused entry to upscale restaurant La Côte Basque in 1968 wearing hers – so she removed the trousers and wore the jacket alone as a kind of impromptu minidress. She was then admitted. Through the 1970s the trouser suit was taken on by American designers the likes of Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass and Calvin Klein. The fabrics used may have been traditionally masculine – flannel, tweed – but the cut was more fitted in the body, looser in the leg and altogether less manly. By the end of the decade – and in no small part thanks to the wardrobe of Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’ (1977) – the wearing by women of what a few decades perviously would have been considered masculine clothing had entered the mainstream. Power dressing, in its harder
edged 1980s incarnation, was just around the corner. What, in 30 years, will women make of this latest round of sharply tailored style? Perhaps, in another three decades, the notion of a woman’s attire seeking to evoke anything perceived to be a masculine trait will have been consigned to history too. A trouser suit on a woman will be no more cause for discussion than one on a man. n
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a naim worth investing in Attention to detail and a willingness to embrace the digital future of audio delivery has enabled an established, yet little-known, brand to flourish in an increasingly competitive market Paul Stephenson remembers his first encounter with a company that has gone on to become one of the greats of the largely unsung British audio equipment industry. He ran a hi-fi retail business and was looking for new brands to fill his store. “I came across Naim and it seemed as though it had no real sales or any marketing in place – they were all engineers, beards and weird guys. It was just totally product-oriented, which is fine, but it doesn’t get you much business,” he recalls. So he joined as sales manager and, by 2000, was managing director. Now, he is proud to say, the company has 1000-plus accounts, even if it remains what Stephenson calls a “fairly unknown brand”. Indeed, its reach is good going given that Naim
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is, Stephenson suggests, one of a small band of companies operating in their own small sphere of audio experience. “In fact, I think we’re part of a market of audio specialists that is only just emerging, offering something that is very different to, say, the more commercial take of Japanese makers. Theirs is a commodity
approach – it’s not about using your ears to decide if something sounds good. The way people listen to music at home is different to what engineers think they’re making out of electronics at a work-bench. It’s about sensitivities and emotional values, not what you see on an oscilloscope.” The Salisbury-based company has just celebrated its 40th birthday so, beards aside, it must be doing something right. Founded by the late entrepreneur Julian Vereker – who, frustrated by his own experiences of listening to recordings of live performances decided to experiment building his own amplifiers and loud-speakers – Naim can count itself a twotime Queens Award for Enterprise winner,
Every man and his dog has tried to out-Zeppelin Zeppelin in the way some systems look...we’re shifting back from such extreme styling
EQUIPMENT Paul Stephenson current MD, Julian Vereker Founder
and has the contract to supply stereo systems for Bentley, the “technically challenging, noisy environment that is the inside of a car,” as Stephenson notes. In 2011 Naim grew considerably when it merged with French loudspeaker manufacturer Focal. But it has also grown, Stephenson argues, because of people’s increased attentiveness to the audio experience – a surprise perhaps given these so very visual times. “The internet has provided a platform for people to find out about us, and also to be better informed about audio generally,” says Stephenson. “But, more than that, we’re seeing a big change. Typically when people buy their computers and X-Boxes, hi-fi is about no.282 on their list of priorities – but audio is becoming fashionable again. People care about sound.” Indeed, remarkably – given the oft-discussed demise of the CD – it’s not even mP3 where audio is at: already some 35% of Naim’s business is in products to stream music direct from the internet. “The changing landscape of audio is challenging. Five years ago we would have been afraid of the idea of streaming, and would have regarded streamed music as the lowest common denominator way to listen,” says Stephenson. “But coming out of that you realise that millions of people are listening that way, millions more are going to, and what they are out there looking for is a way to do that with quality. Thankfully Apple has done a great job. without their efforts what we do would come across as pure geeksville. But consumers now are much more advanced than their parents in terms of understanding tech and their willingness to invest in it.” most of Naim’s products are now connectivityenabled although, Stephenson notes, “you still need speakers and amplifiers – streaming technology has been the carrot to pull people in to buy other products.” That might include CD players, but not often. They now account for just 17% of sales, with much of those going to China, where there is still a preference for what Stephenson calls “the physical manifestation of music. Vinyl has the tendency to sound better than CD and offers a different, mechanical experience. But a CD is this little plastic box with a bit of silver metal in it – it’s just not very sexy.” >>
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Streaming, on the other hand, may be unnervingly intangible to anyone over 30, but it is, Stephenson assures, the future operating with a higher fidelity than CD, with a solid state back-up solution and software upgradable – and a future Naim wants to be a leader in (even, that is, while operating a service department busy looking after machines now older than the first home computers). For anyone under 30, there is another factor that the company must prove itself a leader in. “Style is becoming extremely important,” says Stephenson, “though maybe not for the audio aficionado. The fact is that most people don’t want audio equipment that looks out of fashion in a year, or, for that matter, dominates a room. We’ve always
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tried to take a form-follows-function approach which doesn’t work for some markets – they want machines that light up like Las Vegas, and every man and his dog has tried to outZeppelin Zeppelin in the way some systems look. But I think we’re shifting back from such extreme styling now.” There is, in this, also a kind of green thinking, moving away from the consumerist habit of frequent upgrading (and consequent dumping of the perfectly serviceable but now seemingly outmoded kit) with audio equipment that lasts, both in use and looks, for perhaps a lifetime. Stephenson concedes that this is probably to cost the company revenue – a quick modification to a stock product remains an easy way for more mass-market manufacturers
to make a quick sale. But that is not what he, or Naim, are about. Suffice it to say that the company’s last big launch was in 2008 and the next is due this year, but still under wraps. Its most recent launch was certainly big in scale and sound: this spring it released its Statement speaker, with all of its 746 watts of power – or one horsepower – and projected $200,000 price. “Well,” says Stephenson, “we’re a British company and we make everything in Britain. To be able to make here taps into long traditions of engineering and design and craftsmanship and puts your products in a higher league, even if it doesn’t always put them at the higher price point too.” Not always at least. n
INNOVATIONS IN HEALTHCARE
An industry calling for regulation It’s rare for any industry to call for increased regulation, but as consultant plastic surgeon, Garth Titley from Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield argues, it is important that the cosmetic surgery industry becomes more regulated to enable it to showcase the innovation and positive impact it has on its patients Earlier this year, the Government announced a series of measures to improve safety for patients receiving cosmetic surgery. The announcement followed a report in 2013 by the medical director of the NHS in England, Sir Bruce Keogh, where he warned of the risk associated with low regulation and a relatively low level of qualification needed to administer some cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers. In recent years, increasing numbers of people have undergone cosmetic surgery, with the use of nonsurgical procedures such as anti-wrinkle treatment and dermal fillers, becoming increasingly popular. Coupled with this increased adoption we have seen more headlines showcasing the risk of damage of procedures going wrong. Regulation in medicine is critical in ensuring patient safety and while procedures such as anti-wrinkle treatment and dermal fillers are non-surgical procedures, they do require anatomical knowledge, clinical training and skilful administration and in the case of anti-wrinkle treatment, a doctor or nurse prescriber. Complications such as unwanted muscle weakness in and around the injection site are possible as a result of poor administering of anti-wrinkle treatment. With regards to fillers, there have been reports of serious side effects with blindness and tissue loss due to incorrect injection technique blocking arteries. Cosmetic surgery is exactly that - surgery. Any procedure should be considered with the same amount of rigour, research and time, as it would be for any other medical intervention. Motivations,
Mr Garth Titley is a consultant plastic surgeon at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield
desired outcome and potential complications must all be well thought through before making a decision to proceed. Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield has invested heavily in its cosmetic unit and now has 10 plastic surgeons and two cosmetic nurses. The procedures we perform can be for reconstruction following injuries or surgery, as well as purely for cosmetic reasons. Whatever the initial instigation for surgery, we work with our patients to ensure we fully understand the motivations behind the need for a procedure before taking it any further. For example, my approach is founded on a thorough understanding of the motivation for the surgery and understanding what they are hoping to achieve.
It’s unusual for regulation to be called for, but in my profession, I think it will be critical in recognising the value we can bring to patient care
As with any medical procedure, there will be a lot of information for the patient to consider and this must be done with a period of time for reflection factored in, regardless of the severity of the required procedure. At Spire Little Aston Hospital we also have the benefit of highly qualified cosmetic nurses who are able to answer additional questions and spend further time with patients discussing desired outcomes and ensuring all aspects of the procedures are fully understood. Where alarm bells ring, perhaps with motivations founded on a major life event such as divorce or bereavement, more time is recommended before any surgery takes place. Done correctly, cosmetic surgery can have a significant positive impact upon a person’s life. We need to ensure that increased regulation provides increased patient safety and helps patients identify properly trained and qualified individuals who are offering non-surgical and surgical cosmetic procedures. Without appropriate training and qualifications individuals should not be able to offer these interventions to an unsuspecting public. It’s unusual for regulation to be called for, but in my profession, I think it will be critical in recognising the value we can bring to patient care.
Mr Garth Titley is a consultant plastic surgeon at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. For more information contact Spire Little Aston Hospital on 0121 580 7119 or www.spirehealthcare.com/littleaston/cosmeticsurgery-at-spire-little-aston/ The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional
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RISE OF THE MASK-ATEERS Chris O’Nyan started cutting out celebrities’ photographs and sticking them onto scrap cardboard ‘for a laugh’ 20 years ago. Today, his party trick is a £3m masks business. Steve Dyson reports Do you remember the scene in ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, Steve Coogan’s TV comedy, when Alan walks into a room which his biggest fan has spookily devoted as a shrine to his hero? Alan is visibly scared when all he can see are images of his face plastered across all four walls (there are no windows), and he flees in terror when his deranged fan, brilliantly played by actor Ian Sharrock, reveals that he’s also had Alan’s face tattooed onto his chest. “You’re a mentalist!” cries Alan Partridge as he escapes the obsessed fan’s clutches, before frantically running away across a farmer’s field. And while there’s no ‘mentalist’ working at Mask-arade Ltd, this scene comes to my mind when I enter their workshop and warehouse premises in Southam, Warwickshire. Because, when I walk up the stairs, I realise I’m entering a windowless room, and all four walls are filled with nearly 1,000 celebrity faces: from George Michael to George Bush, from Angelina Jolie to Angela Merkel, and from Alan Sugar to Alan Titchmarsh. And yes, I’m pretty sure one spot is taken up by Steve Coogan, aka Alan Partridge. But as I gather my thoughts, I’m quickly brought back from the mad world of celebrities to the more normal, but funnier, world of Chris O’Nyan, Dean Walton and Ray Duffy, the trio of entrepreneurs behind Mask-arade. “It all started back in 1992 at my home in
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Great Barr,” says Chris, aged 53, who back then was a financial advisor. “I was reading the Mail on Sunday when a colour supplement dropped out with a life-size cover picture of actor Peter Bowles [from TV comedy ‘To The Manor Born’] looking up at me. I don’t know why, but it just caught my eye, and I ended up cutting it out and putting eye-holes in with a biro, holding it up to my face. Then I cut up a cereal box, glued the face to that, and attached elastic bands. That was my first mask. Later, after a couple of beers with a mate, I put this mask on and he thought it was funny and, when he put it on, I couldn’t stop laughing! After that, I just used to cut out faces from magazines, make masks and wear them to parties, where they went down a storm. “I did that for 15 years and then, when my first marriage broke up, I was cleared out of everything: house, kids, every possession except the clothes on my back – and a shoebox full of my masks. Anyway, a couple of years later, a friend rang and said: ‘Have you still got those masks? Bring them along to my barbecue.’ “And so I did. There was a new circle of people there who just loved them, and one of the lads said: ‘There’s got to be a business in it!’” Chris knew Dean from school and watching “the baggies” - West Bromwich Albion - and Dean had met Ray through business, quickly
becoming a trio of mates. Chris, a dad of two grown up children from his first marriage who now lives in Sutton Coldfield with second wife Gwyn, adds: “It was in May 2008, and Ray was looking for a business idea. We met up in The Hampstead Pub in Great Barr, and I wore a David Beckham mask. It worked for Ray, and Dean had seen it before at parties, so we put our heads together about starting a business.” Dean, also aged 53, and a curtain-waller by trade, picks up the story: “We thought this was a good idea that could and should work, so we decided to trial it. Me and Chris are Baggies’ fans, and it was coming up to their last game of the season away at QPR, a match when fans were dressing up as super heroes to pay tribute to our own super hero, Kevin Phillips. We printed off 350 pictures of Kevin’s face, glued them to cardboard and attached simple elastic bands. Then we went to the match dressed up as ‘Batman and Kevin’, handing out these masks to West Brom fans at £2 a time. We sold them in an hour, the West Brom players all wore one and it was all over the papers.” Dean, born in Great Barr but now living in Leamington Spa with second wife Ruth, adds: “But importantly, we brought home £600 for what had cost us about £17 to print. We knew this could work, so all three of us put £2,000 in to pay for a website and a bit of advertising, >>
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ENTREPRENEUR making masks for stag and hen parties.” Now ray, aged 43, who lives in Leamington Spa with his wife Vicky, chips in. ray used to own a jewellery business, was then into electronics sales, brewing and even once worked as a postman, and he was the one initially keen on the business idea. He says: “People were saying to us: ‘I’ve been looking for something like this for ages.’ And it just took off. we started in Chris’ bedroom, then moved to my garage, using a printer in great Barr and a laser cutter in Sutton Coldfield. At that stage we were making personalised masks to wear at parties – no celebrities at all.” Before they knew it, the trio found themselves appearing on TV’s Dragons’ Den in 2009, and although they were turned down the resulting publicity brought in even more orders. An important one – brewing before Dragons’ Den but not confirmed until afterwards – was for 6,000 masks from British boxer ricky Hatton. more celebrities followed, beginning with everpopular characters like rowan Atkinson’s mr Bean, and David Jason’s Del Boy and Nicholas Lyndhurst’s rodney Trotter from ‘only Fools and Horses’. Politicians, royalty, TV and film stars, football players and sports stars later followed. “Since then the business has gone from strength to strength,” says Dean. “our personalised masks have become a must-have for any self-respecting stag or hen night, and our masks are sold in over 1,000 fancy dress and party shops across the uK, as well as many leading retailers like Sainsbury, Primark, Next, Toys r us, river Island and even Harrods.” mask-arade’s success is mainly down to the official licences it works hard to obtain: it now owns the rights to around 450 iconic faces and brands such as the characters from Coronation Street, Eastenders, Thunderbirds, Hollywood Legends, the rolling Stones, and the world’s current best-selling pop band – one Direction, as well as individual faces like michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and marilyn monroe. It’s also been assisted by the royal Family, producing 250,000 Kate and william masks in the build up to the
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We’ll smash the £3m barrier in the next 12 months
royal wedding in 2011, and then 750,000 Diamond Jubilee party masks last year, which became Sainsbury’s best-selling product in its Jubilee range. In 2011, mask-arade bought its own warehouse, factory and offices in Southam, and in September last year expanded into the building next door to cope with orders. The BBC’s Dragons’ Den team even featured them again in ‘The one That got Away’. Dean says: “In Dragons’ Den in 2009 we said we’d achieve a million pound turnover in five years. we were laughed at but achieved this ahead of schedule. our turnover was £1.2m in 2012-13, will be more than £2m this year, and advance orders for licensed products will ensure we smash the £3m barrier in the next 12 months, with realistic plans for £5m in the years ahead. our long term strategy is to secure more celebrity and character licences, as this removes any competition. we also now promote our new products via social media: we have over 55,000 Facebook followers, offer a Facebook
discount and run regular competitions. Twitter has also been a revelation for us; whenever we meet a celebrity we always ‘tweet’ the photograph to them, thank them and ask them to ‘re-tweet’ the photo to their often hundreds of thousands of followers.” Dean, Chris and ray – who call themselves “the Three mask-ateers” – are all passionate about the business, and are quite detailed about its mechanics: of the hundreds of thousands of masks they produce every year, each one is sold for around £1.10 to the trade, and then retails at around £3.50. The company’s profit margin, after tax, is around 40%. But the trio also insist on having fun, as Dean explains: “As well as creating a successful business, we still see it as our hobby. we involve our staff by taking them to various shows with the objective of meeting the star. we take masks of the celebrity along and make the most of photo opportunities at the end of a performance. we have now met and had photos taken with over 200 famous people. we also send masks to venues and agents to be autographed, and our signed mask collection now totals 2,100 items adorning every wall in our headquarters.” when negotiating new licenses, mask-arade always tries to secure ‘worldwide rights’, as it has distributors in seven countries and is “very near” to breaking into the uSA, with intensive research and negotiations because of different image rights laws. North America is “the big goal” for the business in 2014. Yet despite these international plans, mask-arade’s directors are proud of their home base, with all products manufactured locally in warwickshire by the company’s 15 permanent staff, with up to another 25 home-workers ‘tagging and bagging’ – which involves fitting the elastic and packing each mask. ray adds: “As a country, if everyone made everything in the uK we wouldn’t have got into the dire position we’re in. Sure, we might be able to save a few pence on every mask by outsourcing to China, but we’re all agreed that we want our own economy to benefit from our success.” n
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Business IT – Evolution or Revolution In this article, TSG’s regional managing director for the South Mark Jenner considers how developments in technology have the potential to transform the way businesses operate, and asks the question ‘is it evolution or revolution?’ In the 10 years since leading technology services company TSG entered the market much has changed in the fascinating world of business IT. Whilst the economic downturn has seen caution around investment in IT, during this same period advances have been dramatic and the result is that for many businesses there’s now a substantial gap between their existing systems and what is now possible. More significantly, leading edge technology has become increasingly accessible and affordable and is undoubtedly within the reach of all forwardthinking businesses. Rather confusingly, the technology emperor has worn many new suits of clothes over the last decade. In fact, our industry is prone to hype and over-excitement, most of which drifts meaninglessly above the heads of business leaders and owners who are too busy doing what they do to notice. However, if you cut through the hyperbole, there’s little doubt that technology is more important than ever for businesses determined to drive their competitive advantage. One constant throughout this period of transformation is that the technology itself should never be the story but rather it should be how the technology can enable effective and efficient processes and most importantly drive productivity and profitability. So how do decision-makers determine what’s genuinely useful? And are the decision-makers themselves occasionally part of the problem when old habits and preferences die hard?
Mark Jenner, TSG’s regional managing director for the South
Is it a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ or ‘if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get the same results’? In at least some businesses, a shift in mind-set is probably required and at a reasonably senior level. I was interested to hear that our own CEO, David Stonehouse recently made a fairly radical change in his own use of technology, as he explains, “A combination of necessity, created by failing hardware, and coincidence catalysed the change although in truth it was something I’d been
It’s not about the technology, but rather it’s about the business process and determining the most effective mechanisms to deliver a fantastic customer experience – an experience that others can’t match
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considering for a number of months.” “To cut a long story short, I’ve shelved my iPad and my iPhone for the Microsoft Surface Pro and Nokia Lumia 925. The Surface, much maligned within the tablet market, actually operates as my main computer linked up to a normal keyboard and large format touchscreen.” In many respects, the hardware itself is largely irrelevant. What’s critical is that both devices use the Windows 8 operating system and settings flow seamlessly between them as part of Microsoft’s strategy of ‘one experience, across all devices, anywhere’. Dynamics NAV and CRM 2013 are also part of the Microsoft story and they seem to be joining the dots in a way that others haven’t, and in all probability, can’t. Admittedly, there’s been a lot of talk about Microsoft’s lack of traction in the device market but, then again, history suggests that they don’t always get it right as anyone who recalls Windows ME will testify. You could argue that getting it wrong seems to have been a conscious strategy that allows them to test, learn, move forward and ultimately dominate, even though they may not always be first to market. Amazon Web Services certainly got a head start but Microsoft’s Azure platform is catching up at a staggering rate and in many ways sits at the heart of their future plans. Even Sage – another of our key partners – has chosen to deploy its Cloud offering on Azure. All of this brings us neatly to the Cloud – something that seems to have dominated a disproportionate amount of column inches yet I suspect most don’t really understand including many who are promoting it as a ‘must-have’ for any business. A recent survey suggested 70% of businesses are still undecided about the Cloud, although many of these will probably be using
A recent survey suggested 70% of businesses are still undecided about the Cloud, although many of these will probably be using Cloud services already in some shape or form Cloud services already in some shape or form whether that’s in a personal or business context, and whether they realise or not. The issue of personal use is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can offer an insight into what’s possible in the world of ‘real-time’ and ‘mobility’. At the same time, it can dangerously raise expectation around what can be achieved in the business context, causing significant challenges for those who are expected to deliver – often with outdated tools and restricted budgets. The migration of businesses to the Cloud won’t happen overnight and it shouldn’t. More and more will see the value, but it must be a considered decision rather than a knee jerk reaction. Get the decision right, whether that’s a full on-line deployment, a hybrid approach or a high availability solution, and the improvements in business performance will speak for themselves. Again, it’s not about the technology, but rather it’s about business process and determining the most effective mechanisms to deliver a fantastic customer experience – an experience that others can’t match. Technology should certainly play a part but the industry has been guilty of overcomplicating, constantly reinventing wheels and charging hefty upfront fees for doing so, when the aim is actually to make life more straightforward. It’s this desire to make life more straightforward for our customers that has driven a significant investment in building an R & D team at TSG that combines the highest level of technical expertise with a proven track-record in delivering world-class products at small business, medium organisation and enterprise level. Harnessing on-the-ground intelligence from TSG’s 300 specialists and technicians, with a combined total of more than 5,000 years of experience, allows R & D to focus on developing quality
products that are appropriate, accessible and affordable for our customers. Our focus is developing products and solutions that address the common requirements shared across specific sectors, building on powerful platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, to create straightforward, configurable products that deliver great out-of-the-box functionality. Equally, they offer the possibility of limitless integration – essential when nothing in a successful technology environment can ever exist in isolation – and leave the door open for deeper customisation if required. Best of all, when we launch TSG Tribe for the membership sector later in the Spring, the first product developed by our R & D team, it will be available both on-premise or on a subscription basis as a private or public Cloud deployment to spread the cost of ownership. In sectors or businesses where there has been a technology lag or underinvestment, products like TSG Tribe could be the only way to bridge the gap and avoid being left behind. Everyone is looking to achieve more for less
and deployed astutely, that’s exactly what technology delivers. The key is to remain in control of technology and the starting point is to understand the contribution technology can make. So, is it evolution or revolution? That probably depends on the legacy you’re working with but either way it’s about embracing the positives to be gained through well-considered change. I suspect that we’re all now in a position where we can’t live without technology; the challenge for many remains how do we make the most of it?
For more imformation please call 0845 111 1888 or visit www.tsg.com
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harvesting a bright new future BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 14
Farmers must evolve and innovate to survive as a business in the modern world, according to Simon Beckett, of Beckett’s Farm, which turns over £5m a year. Ros Dodd reports Simon Beckett cheerfully admits to being a “petrol head”. But he’s a slightly unusual one, because he gets as much of a thrill driving a combine harvester around a field in Worcestershire as he does riding a powerful motorbike up the Ho Chi Minh Trial in Vietnam. That’s because as well as being a hugely successful entrepreneur, Simon is also a farmer. He may have transformed his grandfather’s modest farm into a multi-million pound business, but at heart he remains a man of the soil. Simon, who’s just turned 57, is managing director of Beckett’s Farm in Wythall, just south of Birmingham, which today is less like a farm and more like a destination, comprising a farm shop, award-winning family restaurant, conference facilities and a cookery school. “I love fast cars,” he says. “I’m a real petrol head. I’ve had various sports cars, including Lamborghinis, but my current toy is a Bentley Continental GT. I like cars, motorbikes – I’ve just been on a motorcycling trip along the Ho Chi Minh trail – tractors, combines and diggers.” He also likes work, and admits that not an hour goes by when he doesn’t think about business. His dedication has paid off, because Beckett’s now turns over £5m a year and makes an annual profit of at least half a million. This year it’s on course to ring up £680,000. But the furrow wasn’t always so fertile. Twenty years ago, the business was technically insolvent after losing £2m in 12 months. Simon realised it was a case of diversify or die. Today, Beckett’s is an example of agricultural diversity at its best. As well as the main ‘hub’, Heath Farm on the Alcester Road near J3 of the M42, there are several ‘spokes’ to the business: 15 other farms – all within a three-mile radius – that grow arable crops such as wheat, oil seed rape and winter linseed, as well as wild flowers to encourage bees and other wildlife; commercial lettings and venture capitalism. Simon, who calls a spade a spade and exudes
a gruff charm, says that although farming accounts for little more than 5% of turnover, Beckett’s is still a family farming business. The company has its roots in an upstairs downstairs liaison between a member of the landed gentry and a scullery maid in the late 19th century. “My great grandfather, Alfred, was illegitimate. His father was landed gentry from near Shrewsbury who had a dalliance with a maid called Florence, who became pregnant. She was sent off to the country to have the baby and moved into a cottage next door to a farm labourer called Samuel Beckett. She ended up marrying him and went on to have five more children.” One was Simon’s grandfather, Albert Edward Beckett, who initially became a merchant seaman. In the First World War, he was a wireless operator for Marconi and in 1917 picked up a distress call in the mid-Atlantic. “He was paid a salvage fee of £100 and with that brought his sweetheart, Dawn, whom he’d met in Perth, Australia, home to Britain, where they married and started farming in Shropshire,” recounts Simon. “The problem with Shropshire was that it was sparsely populated; there weren’t enough customers for their produce. Two of my grandfather’s brothers had already moved to the West Midlands, so in 1937 he came here and started dairy farming at Manor Farm in Station Road, Wythall, quite close to where the main business is now.” Albert’s two sons, Alan – Simon’s father – and Ken, followed him into the business, which today is still called A E Beckett & Sons. “In 1957, my old man got a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and went to America for six months, where he travelled all over the country, doing dairying and man-management. When he came back, he said to Albert: ‘We can’t make enough money in dairying; we need to get into intensive egg production’. So that’s what they did, and grew the business >>
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SUCCESS STORY together until the mid-1960s when Albert retired to Spain.” In 1972, Ken decided he wanted to go into the pub trade, which left Alan running the business on his own. He became so successful that Beckett’s was soon the UK’s fourth largest egg producer. “My old man was buying a farm a year out of the profits,” says Simon. “In the 1960s, there was a terrible disease that affected poultry, Marek’s disease, and the best way to control it was to quarantine the chickens. That’s why my old man bought lots of little farms – so that he could isolate the hens.” Simon joined his father in the business in 1980 and eight years later followed in his footsteps by winning a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and spending six months in the US. The Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust was founded by William Morris, who later became Lord Nuffield. Born in 1877, near Worcester, he was the grandson of a farmer and went on to be a leading industrialist and philanthropist. He set up the Nuffield Foundation in 1943 to fund a variety of activities, including agricultural advancement. “These scholarships are fabulous,” Simon says. “People can choose to go anywhere in the world to learn more about farming, but they must report back to the industry. It’s all about encouraging innovation and change.” Soon after Simon’s return to the UK, the country plunged into recession. At the same time, supermarkets were becoming increasingly powerful and able to beat down food producers’ prices. As a result, many farmers started to struggle. Although we’d become a prime producer of eggs, we sold them on to a packing company, which dictated the price. In turn, the supermarkets dictated a price to the packers. We started to get left behind.” Beckett’s had always had a farm shop selling eggs, so in 1981 it opened a bakery on the Heath Farm site. But it wasn’t enough, and the crunch came in 1992 when the company turned over a hefty £12m – but lost £2m. “We were being forced to sell eggs at 14p per dozen under the cost of production,” Simon grimly recalls. “The cost of production was 40p and we were paid just 26p.” He realised drastic change was needed. “I knew we needed to get out of chickens as soon as we could. I’d seen in the States that
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I can’t change the world, but I can do something for my little piece of it the most successful farmers were those who’d diversified out of base agriculture. So we enhanced the bakery and added a butchery and delicatessen.” In 1995 – he remembers not only the date, 17 July, but the exact time, 10.46am – Simon sold “every bloody chicken we had” and slashed his workforce from 104 to 27. Cannily, though, he rented cage space to the company that bought the chicken business. The same year, following lengthy wrangling with the planners, Beckett’s obtained permission to build on the Heath Farm site. It added a restaurant, offering “best of British” fare – which customers could buy for themselves in the shop – and the Beckett’s Farm of today began to take off. It now employs 114 staff and in recent years has added the Orange Kitchen Cookery School and conference and meeting rooms. And in 2012, the company won Family Business of the Year in the Midlands Family Business Awards. “We still farm, but the small butchery counter earns twice as much money as our 1,000 acres of farmland,” says Simon. “We have £10m tied up in the land and only £46,000 tied up in the butchery counter. So why do we farm? Because we love it. I love the feel and smell of the earth and the big machinery. Farming isn’t a job or even a career – it’s almost a vocation, a way of life as well as a legacy. That’s why I’d never sell off the land.” Simon, who’s divorced and lives with his partner, Nicky, has four grown-up
children, two of whom – Holly and Adrian – have now joined him in the business. Holly, the strategic resource manager, arrived in 2009 and Adrian, who’s responsible for marketing, joined last year. Simon’s ‘old man’, Alan, is still going strong at the age of 83 and remains company chairman. Adrian’s involvement in Beckett’s is a double delight for Simon, because he has a three-year-old son on whom his grandfather clearly dotes. In fact, you suspect the little boy is the only thing apart from fast cars that can distract Simon’s attention from work. That work could be dealing with 93 different tenants who rent the ex-chicken sheds or embarking on a new venture capital scheme. “We have a share in the company that owns the biggest bouncy castle operating in the UK, and we once had a modular staging business that hired out a stage on which Madonna strutted her stuff.” Having diversified so successfully, it’s hardly surprising that Simon has little patience with farmers who complain about the toughness of their lot. “This business is about evolution, and there needs to be innovation too. We came across a great saying once: ‘Innovation is not a department, it’s an allowable behaviour’. These days you have to talk about agribusiness rather than farming. We sit on an asset – the land – and we can choose how to use it. If you’re a base farmer whose land isn’t working, well, you can park a few caravans on it, and there’s an extra several hundred pounds you didn’t have last week.” But Simon is not only profit-driven; he cares about the environment, the local community and his staff. Value is more important than profit, he says. “I can’t change the world, but I can do something for my little piece of it, whether it’s sponsoring the Scouts or the rugby club. I also want to keep looking after the fabulous people who work for us – some of whom have been here nearly 30 years. They’re part of an extended family. And while we use modern farming methods, environmental issues are always in our mind. Last year we planted eight miles of wild flowers and clovers across our fields.” So what next for Beckett’s? “I know I want to buy a few more farms – I’m more interested in value than cash. And if I can have as much fun with my kids as I had with my father growing the business, I shall die happy.” n
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BIT OF A CHAT
oozells Street venue is already hoovering up global publicity for its half-century, arguing that it’s now technically entered the year of its birth. It’d be churlish to object to such a wheeze though, as the Ikon’s global reputation for contemporary art has added so much lustre to Birmingham’s image over the decades.
with Bill Borde
>> Tarmaccy retirement Not everyone goes to a top executive’s retirement party armed with a six-inch square lump of tarmac. But then not everyone was personally responsible for ensuring that Birmingham Airport’s £40m, 400-metre runway extension got the financial go-ahead. And so it was that Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, raised a laugh when he presented Stephen Hughes, the retiring chief executive of Birmingham City Council, with his very own piece of that runway. Despite budget cuts, Hughes had recognised the importance of the longer runway to enable new flights to the Far East and America, and will go down in history as the man who convinced private sector shareholders to pay for it.
>> A year long birthday Birmingham’s Ikon gallery is cheekily using a bit of creative promotion as it approaches its 50th anniversary. Its real ‘birthday’ isn’t until 2015, but the
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>> £100 tick box ﬁne There was an embarrassing admission from Andy Skinner, managing director of ASAP Pr, when he issued a press release about the importance of filing selfassessment tax returns on time. “I don’t normally preface press releases,” confided Andy, “but if you want a chuckle, I didn’t finish my return properly last year. Thought I had, but when I got a £100 fine notice I realised I’d only 97% completed my form, and had closed it thinking I’d finished…..grrrrr!” Andy, it seems, needs to listen to the advice he was sending out on behalf of Crowe Clark whitehill, of oldbury, who revealed a staggering 700,000 to 800,000 tax returns were not submitted by 31 January. Tax partner rob gunn said: “Around 300,000 are down to human error. People are often caught out by a tiny, easily missed, tick box where they have to agree to accept responsibility for their submission.”
>> I like trucking! Big trucker John m Phillips has just become the proud owner of one of Britain’s most powerful engines. The owner-driver, based in Stourport-onSevern, worcestershire, who delivers sheet and coiled steel nationwide, has taken delivery of a mercedes-Benz New Actros 2563 LS, which boasts a huge 15.6-litre, six-cylinder engine. mr Phillips said his monster truck, which has an 8.0-tonne front axle, is “just like being in a big armchair.” Happy truckin’, John!
>> A last gasp word… Computer spellchecks can be so annoying sometimes, can’t they? They certainly were for Birmingham’s Broad Street Business Improvement District when it published a tender for designers needed to create its new website. The online presence, the tender reads, needs to be “asthmatically pleasing to the eye with longevity”. Hold on a minute… asthmatically pleasing? Aesthetically, surely! Pass me my inhaler…
>> By George, I think she’s got it! george osborne’s pension ‘bombshell’ announcement seems to have originated in the west midlands. Angela South, managing director of magna wealth management, of Alcester, warwickshire, sent an advisory email to Stratford-upon-Avon mP Nadhim Zahawi back in June 2012, which he forwarded to the Treasury. Angela’s email read: “The government could raise billions in the short term and fire up the economy if millions of ‘pointless pensions’ could be encashed. “Pension pots of up to, say, £50,000 are too small to make any significant difference to someone’s standard of living, and many people would be better off with the money contained in them now.” After hearing george osborne’s pension proposals in his Budget speech, she commented: “I’m pleased someone listened!”
The entrepreneurial challenge to fight youth unemployment The fight against youth unemployment is an ongoing challenge with under-25s almost three times as likely to be unemployed as the UK population as a whole As the UK’s leading youth charity, The Prince’s Trust is working hard to help young people into work, and last year we supported 5,873 13-30-year-olds in the West Midlands alone. We help some of the region’s most disadvantaged young people, many of whom have struggled at school, grown up in care or been in trouble with the law. Too often, these young people feel hopeless about the future and need support to help them turn their lives around. At The Prince’s Trust, we run programmes that give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping them develop skills and self-esteem for work. Our programmes work – with three in four of the young people we help moving into jobs or training. However, we can’t do this on our own and need the support of the local community to help more young people in the region. How can you help? Our Million Makers competition offers a challenge for local businesses, giving you the opportunity to engage, develop and motivate employees and colleagues for free as well as making money to help support young people into work. During the challenge, teams of five to ten aspiring entrepreneurs within your organisation compete against other companies in the region to raise as much money as they can through enterprising initiatives. Teams develop a business idea and robust business plan, which they then pitch to a panel to secure seed funding. If successful, the teams receive funding to embark on their fundraising activity for six months. Teams are supported by The Prince’s Trust throughout the competition and we provide a staff member and mentor as well as online resources to
Mitchells & Butlers help you make the most of the challenge. Last year, the Million Makers West Midlands Regional Winners 2013 were Birmingham-based Mitchells & Butlers - the largest operator of restaurants, pubs and bars in the UK - who raised close to £68k. The Mitchells & Butlers team achieved their incredible total through a number of initiatives including: a World Record car wash attempt, a staff lottery, the chance to win a month of Sunday roasts for the family and sold jelly beans in Mitchells & Butlers restaurants and pubs. At the end of their six month fundraising journey the team celebrated their regional win at The Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards. Their achievement was marked by Neil Swain, Leadership & Talent Manager at Mitchells & Butlers, proudly shaking hands with our president HRH The Prince of Wales. John O’Reilly, regional director of The Prince’s Trust in Central England
We help some of the region’s most disadvantaged young people, many of whom have struggled at school, grown up in care or been in trouble with the law. Too often, these young people feel hopeless about the future and need support to help them turn their lives around
CURRENT MILLION MAKER TEAMS IN THE WEST MIDLANDS INCLUDE: • Cross Country Trains • Briggs Equipment • Higgs & Sons • G4S Oakwood Prison • SSP Holdings • Sanctuary Housing • Mitchells & Butlers • University College Birmingham • Newman University
Million Makers provides an exciting competitive challenge that can showcase and develop your organisation’s talent and skills whilst helping to improve the lives of young people. Sonia Kaur, our Corporate Partnerships Manager, telephone 0121 772 9282, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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BQ’s business events diary gives you lots of time to forward plan. If you wish to add your event to the list send it to steve.dysonmedia@gmail. com, with ‘BQ events page’ in the email subject heading
JUNE 2 MBA Career event at Aston University, speaker Charlie Reeve, 5.30-8pm. Free. Drinks and a light dinner included. www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/ programmes/aston-mba/meet-us/mba-career-speaker-series/ 3 Transatlantic Trade Today, British American Business Council, 8.30-10.30am, at Mills and Reeve LLP, 78-84 Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2AB. Free. 0121 607 1938, email@example.com 5 IoD West Midlands Director of the Year Awards 2014, 7.30-10am, Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, Birmingham. £35. Sue Hurrell 0121 643 1868, sue.hurrell@iod. com 5 GBCC Business Showcase Breakfast, 8-10.30am, Chamber House, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH. £15 members, £22.50 non-members. 0121 607 1772, firstname.lastname@example.org 5 CBI West Midlands Annual Dinner, 7-11.30pm, Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham. Speakers: Sir Michael Rake, CBI President & Justin Webb, broadcaster and journalist. Ticket details from Julia Fox, 0121 450 8975, julia. email@example.com 5 Aston University Webinar with Careers Adviser Tripp Martin, 12-1pm. Free. Drinks and a light lunch included. www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/events/ tripp-advises/ 5 Understanding consumer behaviour, Aston University 6-8pm. Free. Drinks and a light dinner included. www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/events/relationshipfading-how-data-can-help-understanding-consumer-behaviour/ 6 GBCC member networking, 1-4pm, Chamber House, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH. Free. 0121 607 1772, firstname.lastname@example.org 10 GBCC Staffordshire Business Club with Chase Chamber, 7.45-9.15am, The Bridge House Hotel, Stone Cross, Penkridge, Staffordshire, ST19 5AS. £10. 08450 710 191, email@example.com 11 IoD Hereford & Worcester, visit to S&A Group soft fruit and asparagus farm, 5.30-8pm, Brook Farm, Hereford. £15 members, £20 non-members. Sue Hurrell 0121 643 1868, firstname.lastname@example.org 12 GBCC Business Breakfast with Mark Rogers, Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council, 7.30-10am, Chamber House, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH. £15 members, £22.50 non-members. 0121 607 1772, email@example.com 14 Help Homeless Young People Onwards and Upwards, with St Basils Annual Walk, Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Sponsored team challenge to navigate 26-mile or 13-mile route. 0121 772 9614, www.stbasils.org.uk/walk 14 Blognix 2014 - Blogging Conference, 9.30am-6pm, The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham, B9 4AA. From £35. firstname.lastname@example.org, @rosalilium on Twitter, www.rosalilium.com
20 GBCC Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, 7-9.30am, Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE. £10. 08450 710 191, email@example.com 20 GBCC Solihull Enterprising Women Lunch, 12-2.30pm, Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport, Coventry Road, Birmingham, B26 3QW. £20 members, £33.33 non-members. 0121 781 7384, firstname.lastname@example.org 20 IoD West Midlands: Leadership Training with the very best from the British Army, 9am-4pm, Marlborough Barracks, Southam. £150. Gareth Hughes, email@example.com 24-25 Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield. At the Global Manufacturing Festival you can understand and access supply chain opportunities, and find out where to focus your investment to gain future business. For more information see www.globalmanufacturingfestival.com. 0114 201 8899, firstname.lastname@example.org. 25 BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner, Great Hall, University of Birmingham. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0191 426 6300 25 GBCC Chase Chamber Business Breakfast, 7.30-9am, Ramada Birmingham North - Cannock, Watling Street, Cannock, Staffordshire, WS11 0DQ. £12 members, £15 non-members. 01283 535 640, email@example.com 25 Inward investment and the regional economic strategy, Aston University, 11.45am-2pm. Free. Drinks and a light lunch included. www.aston.ac.uk/astonbusiness-school/events/inward-investment/
JULY 3 GBCC, Burton Outdoor Summer Event for Women in Business, 11.30am-2pm, Hoar Cross Hall Spa Hotel, Maker Lane, Hoar Cross, Burton upon Trent, DE13 8Q. £18. 01283 535640, firstname.lastname@example.org 4 and 5 Two-day conference commemorating centenary of Joseph Chamberlain’s death, Newman University, Bartley Green (Friday), and the Library of Birmingham (Saturday). All events open to public, ticket prices starting from £25 (£15 students/ unwaged). 0121 476 1181 or search ‘Chamberlain’ at www.newman.ac.uk 8 GBCC Staffordshire Business Club with Chase Chamber, 7.45-9.15am, The Bridge House Hotel, Stone Cross, Penkridge, Stafford, ST19 5AS. £10. 08450 710 191, email@example.com 10 GBCC Business Breakfast with Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham, 7.30-10am, Chamber House, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DH. £15 members, £22.50 non-members. 0121 607 1772, firstname.lastname@example.org 16 IoD West Midlands: Summer Networking, 6-10pm, IoD West Midlands, 11 Brindleyplace Birmingham. Free drinks party in the directors’ lounge for members. Sue Hurrell 0121 643 1868, email@example.com
18 BBBC, 7-9am, Hotel du Vin, Church Street, Birmingham. Speaker tbc. £20.00. 0121 236 0484, www.bbbc.biz 19 GBCC Burton & District Chamber Breakfast, 7.30-9am, Hoar Cross Hall Spa Resort, Maker Lane, Hoar Cross, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, DE13 8QS. £12 members, £15 non-members. 01283 535640, firstname.lastname@example.org 19 IoD West Midlands, with O2 Business: ‘What’s your digital strategy... or do you even have one?’, 7.30am-10am, Futures Gallery & Brindley Room, Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham. Free. Sue Hurrell 0121 643 1868, sue.hurrell@ iod.com 20 Women In Business Expo, featuring ‘Dress for Success’ Catwalk, at Walsall Football Club, WS1 4SA. 07772 045 850, email@example.com, www.headzupbusiness.co.uk
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The diary is updated daily online at www.bq-magazine.co.uk Please check with contacts beforehand that arrangements have not changed. Event organisers are also asked to notify us at the above email address of any changes or cancellations as soon as they are known. KEY: BBBC, Birmingham Business Breakfast Club. CBI, Confederation of British Industry. GBCC, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. IoD, Institute of Directors.