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ISSUE FOUR: WINTER 2013

boxing clever with risk Entrepreneur who foiled the competition selling birmingham Chewing the fat with Neil Rami never say die Jim Griffin’s fight to thrive Live Debate China: aerospace threat or opportunity ISSUE FOUR: WINTER 2013: WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

OUT FOR LUNCH A new market for Indian inspired cuisine

BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS

WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

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WELCOME

BUSINESS QUARTER: WINTER 13: issue FOUR The great thing about BQ is the space we provide for the enthusiastic vision and energy from the region’s entrepreneurs. You’ll just love the gap that entrepreneur Mahesh Raikar saw in the marketplace for his ‘wrapchic’ product. Like me, Raikar enjoys his curry, and was therefore often disappointed with bland lunchtime sandwiches. So what about creating a curry sandwich? Hey presto! The result is a business that everyone now wants a bite of, and from a standing start last year his revenues will reach £1.5m in 2014. Staying with food, do you ever spend much time thinking about the aluminium containers that your favourite takeaways and ready meals come in? Peter Reay does – and as a result his start-up company in the foil food packaging sector will soon record a £14m turnover. Another captivating tale is the one told by engineer Jim Griffin who was just fed up with all the despondency in the car industry after MG Rover’s collapse. So in 2006 he took drastic action and led a management buyout of the company he worked for – and has now seen its revenues exceed £12m. BQ’s not all about new start-ups, of course. In our ‘Success story’ feature, we tell the story of a local cricketer and renowned badminton coach who opened his sports shop all the way back in 1948; Maurice Robinson is still running smoothly 65 years later in the hands of his daughter. And in our ‘Insight’ feature we take a look at a hard-working company that has been repairing, cleaning and maintaining the Midlands motorway network for the last 40 years. As well as fascinating stories from the road, executives at R&C Williams warn government

and industry that companies like his need paying on time. Another warning comes out during our ‘Live debate’, where business leaders and academics from the aerospace sector discuss how Britain can protect its intellectual property in a world where China seems happy to buy – or just blatantly take away – ideas. But my favourite feature was the one I developed over lunch with Neil Rami, the chief executive of Marketing Birmingham. As well as finding out about the childhood trauma and ethnic challenges that made Rami the tough businessman he is, I also discovered that after eight years in the job he’s still got plans for the future – if the region wants them. And if not, I suspect, he can always go elsewhere... All the above and more awaits you in this edition – the fourth in what has been a successful launch year for BQ West Midlands. We look forward to continuing to provide you with the most in-depth business read in the region in 2014. Meanwhile, once you’ve digested the stories in this issue, please feel welcome to send any feedback and ideas for future features to me at steve.dysonmedia@gmail.com. Happy reading.

CONTACTS room501 ltd Christopher March Managing Director e: chris@room501.co.uk Bryan Hoare Director e: bryan@room501.co.uk EditorIAL Steve Dyson Editor e: steve.dysonmedia@gmail.com Design & production room501 e: studio@room501.co.uk Photography KG Photography e: info@kgphotography.co.uk Chris Auld e: chris@chrisauldphotography.com advertising Alan Dickinson Project Manager e: alan@room501.co.uk t: 07917 733 047 Mike Moloney Media Sales Consultant e: mmmikemoloney@aol.com t: 07801 849367

Steve Dyson Editor, BQ West Midlands room501 Publishing Ltd, Spectrum 6, Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, SR7 7TT www.room501.co.uk room501 was formed from a partnership of directors who, combined, have many years of experience in contract publishing, print, marketing, sales and advertising and distribution. We are a passionate, dedicated company that strives to help you to meet your overall business needs and requirements. All contents copyright © 2013 room501 Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, November 2013. room501 Publishing Ltd is part of BE Group, the UK’s market leading business improvement specialists. www.be-group.co.uk

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WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

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BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


CONTE BUSINESS QUARTER: WINTER 13 48 banking on relationships

A business that refused to die

Steve Dyson interviews Santanders’ Leon Marklew

52 strength through diversity

Features 25 making a business out of lunch Ros Dodd on a novel Mexican take on Indian food

32 a business that refused to die How Jim Griffin got going when the going got tough

42 bq live debate How aerospace can meet the Chinese challenge

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

Marketing Birmingham’s Neil Rami opens up to Steve Dyson over lunch

59 sixty six not out One Kings Heath business is still at the crease

64 catching up with the road gang Insight takes a look at the business of road repair

82 taking risks but boxing clever Frank Holwell talks to packing Entrepreneur Peter Reay

86 princes trust Breaking down barriers

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32 BANKING ON A RELATIONSHIP

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TENTS WEST MIDLANDS EDITION

36 commercial property

What’s happening in the built environment

68 wine Tasting two winter warmers

Regulars

70 motors Range Rover - best in its class

GAINING STRENGTH THROUGH DIVERSITY

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74 equipment Josh Sims gets to grips with a Wraith

06 big issues Birmingham airport continues to fight for expansion

10 news What’s happening in the West Midlands business world

20 movers and shakers People on the move

78 fashion

TAKING RISKS BUT BOXING CLEVER

Barbour: from fishing boats to fashion icon

88 bit of a chat With BQ’s Bill Borde

90 events Key business events for your diary happening around the West Midlands

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82 BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


THE BIG ISSUES

WINTER 13

>> Birmingham must grow as well as Heathrow Birmingham Airport will continue to fight for expansion as part of a national plan, despite attention focussing on the South East Birmingham Airport continues its intense lobbying as Howard Davies prepares to publish the interim report of his Airports Commission by the end of 2013. The airport, as BQ has reported in earlier editions, wants to be included in any national aviation expansion plan, as it feels it has the capacity to grow to serve up to 70 million passengers a year.

In the Autumn, it revealed £7bn outline plans for its development which could include a second runway – helping to alleviate crowded runways in the South-East. But speaking in October, Davies indicated that airports in and around London were the focus of his ‘emerging thoughts’. He said the UK faced future aviation demands “in excess of capacity in the South East of England airport

At Birmingham Airport, we believe that this country needs a network of long-haul airports serving our great cities

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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system” and that while “regional airports are already serving their local markets effectively” it was “difficult to see how they can absorb all the excess demand”. He added: “Our provisional conclusion is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the South East of England in the coming decades. To rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy.” Many observers have taken this to mean that Birmingham’s ambitions for growth as part of a national plan are unlikely to be addressed in Davies’ forthcoming interim report. But Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, has responded positively to Davies’ comments, and said that even if London expands its capacity the regions still had a growing role to play. He said: “At Birmingham Airport, we believe that this country needs a network of longhaul airports serving our great cities. Clearly, getting the right amount of aviation capacity for London is absolutely critical for the smooth functioning of such a network – but that is not the end of the story. “To build a balanced Britain, we need international gateways up and down the country that are delivering on all cylinders for economies across the whole of the UK – including the South East, the Midlands, the North and Scotland. “We’ve had a good steer on the capacity issue but we look forward to hearing more about aviation and the national economy in the Interim Report in December”. Meanwhile, passenger figures at Birmingham Airport grew to more than nine million in the year to September 2013. Kehoe said: “These growing passenger figures, coupled with the extension of our runway, which is due to be complete in spring 2014, certainly provides encouraging signs for the future.” n


WINTER 13

THE BIG ISSUES

>> Centre for skills

>> Grand folly or overwhelming benefits? Despite all the grand arguments about regional growth, business leaders are still split over the Government’s £50bn HS2 plans. The Institute of Directors became the latest voice to call for the Government to scrap the high-speed Birmingham to London rail project – calling it a “grand folly”. A survey of its 38,000-strong membership, found that just 41% believe HS2 is important for their business, down from 54% two years ago. Only 27% felt the project was good value for money. Simon Walker, the IoD director general, said: “Businesses know value for money when they see it, and our research shows that they don’t see it in the Government’s case for HS2. The IoD cannot support the Government’s current economic case for HS2. “We agree with the need for key infrastructure spending, but the business case for HS2 simply is not there. The money would be far better spent elsewhere and in a way that will benefit much more of the country. Investment in the West and East Coast main lines, combined with a variety of other infrastructure projects, would be a far more sensible option.” Walker claimed that the economic benefits of HS2 had been exaggerated, and that many businessmen felt they currently did useful work during the longer journey to

and from London. But Birmingham Chamber of Commerce was quick to hit back, with chief executive Jerry Blackett saying the IoD’s stance was “disappointing” and arguing that it was actually “grand folly” to believe that the existing rail network could cope. Blackett said: “We have the local knowledge that understands the overwhelming economic benefits that HS2 would bring by spreading wealth throughout the country. Surely the Core Cities prediction of 400,000 jobs and 20,000 construction jobs for 15 years provides jobs on a scale too good to turn aside? “Richard Threfall, the head of insfrastructure at KPMG, says that a high speed rail network could boost annual economic output in 2040 by between £17bn and £29bn, recovering the currently anticipated £50bn cost within just a couple of years.” Prime Minister David Cameron has said that dithering over the high-speed rail project would condemn Britain to the slow lane. And he repeated that he would be asking the new boss of HS2 rail link, Sir David Higgins, to find ways to cut the cost of the scheme. HS2 will link Birmingham and London via 225mph trains from 2026 and create equally fast links to Leeds and Manchester six years later. Work is due to start on the project in 2016. n

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The future of manufacturing skills in the West Midlands has been boosted by plans for a new £36m training centre. The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Park, Coventry, will build the new facility on vacant neighbouring land. Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills will provide £18m for the new facility, matched by a further £18m of industry support. Cable said: “It is important that we act now to ensure businesses have access to the skills they require to enable them to grow.” The new training centre will provide facilities for an advanced apprenticeship programme in areas such as intelligent automation, additive layer manufacture, laser machining and welding. Apprentices will be able to test and develop their skills in sponsored placements, including international assignments. On completion of the programme, the apprentices will be registered as ‘incorporated engineers’ and be able to complete an engineering degree. The training centre is part of a £90m expansion for the MTC to help develop the skills and processes for manufacturing. Founded in 2011 by the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, along with TWI Ltd, the MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers. MTC chief executive Clive Hickman said: “The training centre will create vital skills, developing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technicians. The skills shortage has been an ongoing issue for manufacturing. Our plan is to help SMEs by offering apprenticeships which are costeffective and provide tangible value from day one.” n

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


COMPANY PROFILE

WINTER 13

Helping business owners to succeed Welcome to the first of a series of articles that we hope will be of interest to business owners and those who run businesses. In this edition Andrew Whiting turns the spotlight on the themes of investing in your business and succession planning Lending to businesses shrank by 5% last year, hitting the lowest level since 2006. Lending to small businesses in April was down by £700 million – an annual fall of 3.3% – which continues to make it difficult for small to medium-sized businesses to grow. Banks are generally lending only to firms with a proven track record and which have either assets to provide security or strong cash flows; hence startups and growth ventures struggle to get finance for working capital, as they do not meet the banks’ lending criteria. There are, however, a number of options when seeking funding, and a business should weigh up the pros and cons of each. An alternative finance option not often considered is to either borrow from your pension fund, or unlock the cash by transferring a qualifying asset to the fund, which we shall consider here. LOANS Company pension schemes are not generally permitted to make loans. One exemption to this rule is the small self-administered scheme (SSAS). A SSAS is a regulated occupational pension scheme designed for shareholder directors of limited companies, and is limited to a maximum of 11 participants (or ‘members’). A SSAS is permitted to lend money to the sponsoring employer for any trading purposes, including capital investment or the acquisition of fixed assets. There are restrictions on loans that can be made from the SSAS, as follows: • The pension fund cannot lend more than 50% of the value of its assets. The assets are the

aggregate of the cash sums plus the net market value of other assets held by the pension scheme immediately before the loan is made. • The loans must be secured as a ‘first charge’ on an asset of equal value to the amount of the loan. The asset charged does not have to belong to the business and the security provider does not have to be the business receiving the loan. Banks will only consider physical assets for security, including a charge on the director’s home and/or personal guarantees. A SSAS, however, is able to secure the loan against intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights, databases and domain names. • A commercial rate of interest has to be charged on the loan. The interest payment is both a taxable deduction for corporation tax purposes, and taxfree income for the pension fund. • The loan must be for a fixed term (the maximum allowable term is five years), and have normal commercial repayment terms. Pension borrowing could also be considered to replace existing bank borrowings, as business charges and personal guarantees can be removed such that the business owner’s personal assets/ non-pension assets are no longer at risk. An alternative to borrowing from the SSAS could be to sell a qualifying asset to the pension fund, providing the business with cash. The pension fund can then lease or licence the property back to the business for a fee, again providing an income stream for the pension fund. This is commonly seen with commercial property, but again intellectual property can be considered.

NO EXISTING SSAS? If a business is a limited company, it can create a SSAS as the ‘sponsor’, and then its members (the shareholders/directors of the limited company) can transfer funds to the SSAS Pension funding is not, however, for all businesses and there is an element of risk in any lending if part of the SSAS funds is to be used for this purpose. There must be a large enough pension pot available to make the arrangement viable, and the arrangement also has to be beneficial to the pension scheme with any risks mitigated as far as possible; e.g. if a business is about to fail then pension funding would not be a sensible option. The pension beneficiaries must also consider their long-term position, i.e. a reduction in their retirement funds if the loans were to become irrecoverable. Pensions are often overlooked by businesses as a source of funding. However, in these difficult times, a pension with the correct advice and management can help a business move forward. If you require further information please email andrew.whiting@sjpp.co.uk or call Jan Bloomer on 0121 215 0926 The value of the pension will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested. Please note that failure to keep up repayments on loan may result in the security used being forfeited. The levels and bases of taxation and reliefs from taxation can change at any time. The value of any tax relief depends on individual circumstances.

The Partner Practice represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website at www.sjp.co.uk/products. The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the title ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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WINTER 13

COMPANY PROFILE

SUCCESSION PLANNING Succession planning is critical to the long term success of any business. Only one third of family businesses survive to the second generation and only one-tenth are transferred to later generations (CBI, 2011). And, of course, some are sold or wound up. But when businesses do fail it may be due, in part, to inadequate protection against poor succession planning; planning that is considerably broader than bringing on the next generation, education or promoting from within. Consider the questions below to review how well your business is protected. The term ‘business partner’ has been used – this refers to one or more business partners and to one or more co-shareholders in a private company, members in a limited liability partnership or partners in a partnership. If you require further information please email Andrew.whiting@sjpp.co.uk or call Jan Bloomer on 0121 215 0926

DEATH Do you know which document(s), arrangement(s) or law(s) apply/ies to your business interests on your death? Do you know who will receive your business interests if you die before you gift or sell them? If yes, are they the ‘right’ business inheritors and do you think your family will receive the value you want them to? Do you have a Will?* If your business interests qualify for Inheritance Tax Business Property Relief, does your Will enable specific additional tax savings? Are you sure that there are no conflicts between your Will (or the intestacy rules) and any business documents or other business protection arrangements? If you want someone else to buy your business interests on your death, are you sure they can afford to? Do you know who will receive your business partner’s business interests if they die? If yes, and if it’s not you, would you be happy to be in business with that person? Do you have documentation in place which enables you to purchase your deceased business partner’s business interests? Will you have the financial means to purchase your deceased business partner’s business interests?

DIVORCE Do you know what will happen to the business interest if you, or your business partner, get divorced? Do you and your business partner have arrangements in place to protect your business interests from your divorcing spouse(s)?

Andrew Whiting

Succession planning is critical to the long term success of any business

LOSS OF MENTAL CAPACITY Do you know who will deal with matters on your or your business partner’s behalf if an illness or accident results in loss of mental capacity? If yes, are you confident that they will act in your best interests? Do you and your business partner know which document or law ensures your wishes will be met? DISPUTES Do you have any enforceable arrangements in place to enable you and your business partner to resolve any disputes?

* Will writing involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by St. James’s Place. Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The results of this self-audit should be self- explanatory ,if your business is fully protected, you are in the minority. If, however, you are not sure whether your business is fully protected and your objective will be met, you should seek advice.

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St. James’s Place House, Central Boulevard, Blythe Valley Park, Shirley, Solihull, B90 8AR Tel: 0121 215 0926 E: andrew.whiting@sjpp.co.uk W: www.andrewwhiting.co.uk

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


NEWS

WINTER 13

From automotive supply to aviation and from food to finance we bring you a round-up of business news from across the West Midlands firm Haines Watts, with more than 25% of participants based in the West Midlands. The biggest challenge to growth, according to Haines Watts’ Growth Survey, is cashflow – with 33% of companies reporting difficulties, followed by ‘losing customers’ at 19%. Henry Briggs, senior partner at the Birmingham office of Haines Watts, said: “It’s still a tough world but the prospects do appear to be improving. Despite the toughest economic conditions for decades, the majority of business owners are positive about the future.”

>> JLR hits the £1bn mark >> Premier contributes to iconic cars success West Midland car body specialist Premier Group has celebrated helping to make the 1,000th modern Morgan 3-Wheeler. Morgan, based in Malvern, Worcestershire, restarted production of the much-loved sports car after a break of 60 years in 2010, with an initial plan to build 400 models. But the car has proved so popular across the world that the 1,000th rolled off production lines on 12 November. Wayne Woolford, managing director at Coventry-based Premier Group, said: “The manufacture of the 1,000th 3-Wheeler body at our Walsgrave facility represents a major success story for British and Midlands manufacturing.” Graham Chapman, technical director at Morgan, said: “Premier Group is a substantial Midlands sheet-metal manufacturing operator and a significant link in our supply chain.” Premier Group, which also manufactures bonnets and boots for Morgan’s other cars, has Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Alstom, GKN and Bombardier as other clients. The group was established in 1992 with the founding of Premier Sheet Metal, and since then has grown from 12 staff to more than 120, with an annual turnover of £15m.

>> Brighter but still problems Cash flow and access to funding continue to be major issues for SMEs and ownermanaged businesses despite positive views on the year ahead, according to a new survey. The war for talent is also beginning to affect small companies, with 17% saying recruiting

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

the right staff is becoming their biggest concern. However, on the bright side, most enterprises are positive about the year ahead – with only 7% predicting negative growth. The findings come in a study released by the Birmingham office of accountancy

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Jaguar Land Rover’s half-year profits have reached £1bn for the first time, helped by global demand for the new Jaguar F-Type and Range Rover Sport. The West Midlands-based car maker saw profits rise by 42% to top £1.08bn for the six months to September, with revenues up 26% to £8.71bn and sales up 16% to 197,363 cars. JLR said the figures reflected “strong demand for the new and refreshed Jaguar and Land Rover line up”, lifted over the period by the “sales debut of the Jaguar F-type and Range Rover Sport and a strong Range Rover performance”. JLR reiterated that it would invest £2.75bn in its “products and facilities” in the financial year to March 2014. This includes the new £500m engine factory opening near Wolverhampton next year, with the creation of 1,400 jobs, while in September a £1.5bn expansion of its Solihull factory - expected to create another 1,700 jobs. Including these

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WINTER 13

NEWS

latest jobs means JLR will have created almost 11,000 new posts in Britain over the past three years. Dr Ralf Speth, JLR’s chief executive, said: “Our unrelenting focus on design, technology, innovation and quality has seen Jaguar Land Rover reach global consumers in more markets than ever before thanks to its most engaging product line-up.”

>> New flights already popular The new direct flights from Birmingham to India are already 80% full, according to figures released by Air India and Birmingham Airport. Air India launched its service from Birmingham to Delhi on 1 August 2013 and has carried more than 20,500 passengers since then. The service operates four times a week using the new Boeing 787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft. The 256 seat B787-8 series aircraft has a split cabin, consisting of 18 business class and 238 economy seats. Meanwhile, latest figures from Birmingham Airport show a 13.5% increase in the number of long haul passengers using the airport in September, compared to the same month last year.

>> New water jobs Utilitywise, the energy procurement consultancy, is to create 30 jobs at its office in Redditch, Worcestershire. The vacancies include energy consultant and team manager roles. Utilitywise is one of the biggest energy and water consultancies in the UK. It helps clients to agree better deals from utilities contracts, reducing energy consumption and lowering carbon footprints. The new recruits will be based at EIC – the arm of Utilitywise that delivers energy procurement to industrial and commercial clients with energy spends of £100,000 and above.

Becketts greengrocers Ian Williamson and Hannah Milner

>> Becketts scoop Good Food accolade A family-run farm at the heart of its community on the Birmingham-Worcestershire border since 1937 has been crowned The BBC Good Food Show’s ‘Best Farm Shop’ in the Midlands. Becketts Farm Shop – which was opened in 1982 to sell its own produce and is run by the Beckett family – has been awarded the top prize in a process that included customer nominations and mystery shoppers. The Beckett family still farm some 800 acres of cereals and now employ more than 110 people, making it one of the area’s largest employers. Simon Beckett, managing director and third generation to run the business, said: “I am very proud of all our staff. We also pass on a special thanks to our customers for supporting us. The prize is a fantastic opportunity for our business – we have been given a free stand at the BBC Good Food Show, where we will showcase all our finest produce and hopefully raise the profile of our business even further.” Judge Katy Truss, of Fabulous Food Finds, said: “Becketts is a really fantastic destination for food lovers with an impressive range of local and international produce, its own bakery, butchery, restaurant, cafe and deli counter too.” Beckett’s will take its stand at this year’s BBC Good Food Show on 27 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

>> Car contract win Midland-based Voith Industrial Services has won a £2m contract with Coventry car firm Peugeot Citroen. The two-year contract for the Warwick-based firm includes cleaning, post room,

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reception, security and on-site facilities maintenance at Peugeot Citroen’s Pinley House UK headquarters. It also involves cleaning, battery charging and security services at the car firm’s Tile Hill distribution centre.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


NEWS

WINTER 13

Birmingham, said: “Deutsche Bank’s decision to base their new centre of excellence in Birmingham endorses our strategy to promote the city’s ability to meet the needs of an increasingly international financial services sector. “Birmingham’s financial services sector is the second largest in the UK outside London and is expected to grow on average by 3.5 per cent every year for the next five years. Our talent and quality of life and potential to fuel their growth globally, has helped us secure one of the largest property deals in the UK this year.”

>> Making sense Lorraine Holmes

>> Cash to help regional manufacturers The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has won £2.2m worth of European cash to help West Midland manufacturers expand and create jobs. The new money from the West Midlands European Regional Development Fund Programme will assist 390 manufacturers across the region. This will include ‘transformational’ support worth up to £10,000 to help companies looking to significantly grow by entering new markets, developing products or implementing strategic change projects. Lorraine Holmes, area director the MAS, said: “We are increasingly seeing new opportunities coming online through re-shoring and major inward investment into the UK and we need to ensure our SMEs are in a position to take advantage of them.”

>> Deutsche Bank jobs bonanza Deutsche Bank will create up to 1,000 jobs when it moves to a bigger office in Birmingham next summer. The refurbished premises at Five Brindleyplace will house the German bank’s trading floor, as well as its sales, trading, structuring and research operations. Less than ten years ago, Deutsche Bank arrived in Birmingham with only 30 staff; it’s now become the city’s biggest foreign-owned financial services company.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

And Business Birmingham, the inward investment arm of Marketing Birmingham, aims to encourage other London-based professional services firms to base their backoffice functions in the city, taking advantage of lower costs. Richard McCarthy, managing director and site head for Deutsche Bank in Birmingham, said: “Brindleyplace has a real sense of community and its connection to the main transport hubs enables us to both attract and retain the very best talent.” Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing

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The charity Sense has created 100 local jobs by selecting Birmingham for its first ‘TouchBase’ centre. Sense, which supports deaf and blind people and those with other complex sensory needs, will open its new centre in Selly Oak – close to the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham. The centre will also serve as a resource for the local community, offering residents use of its nursery, crèche facilities, and community cafe. It will be designed with the help of the local community and disabled people. Gill Morbey, chief executive of Sense, said: “Birmingham’s central location will make the facility easily accessible. The city is also home to a range of pioneering healthcare organisations that we hope to work with. Sense will be recruiting 100 new roles in Birmingham for Touchbase, and I have no doubt that we will find a wealth of highly talented people here.” As well as the 100 new jobs, another 100 Sense staff will relocate from across the West Midlands into the new centre.

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NEWS

WINTER 13

>> Call centre jobs blow Barclays Bank is to close its Coventry call centre with the loss of 350 jobs. Staff at the Walsgrave centre were told it was closing next June, although some would be offered the chance to move to another site in Coventry or elsewhere. A Barclays spokesman said: “Our contact centre, in Walsgrave, Coventry will be closing in June 2014. Some telephony jobs will move to our Westwood Park, Coventry site and our other sites in Sunderland and Liverpool. We remain committed to all areas of the UK and will be working with our staff to find redeployment opportunities where possible.” Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a real bolt from the blue. With the recent upturn in the economy, now backed by firm statistical evidence, the service sector has been showing some encouraging signs, so I think this announcement will be a surprise to many.”

>> Doors open to bullion store The Bullion Store is opening a new safety deposit centre for the public in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The Frederick Street centre aims to fill a gap for consumers who have struggled to find security for their belongings after many high street banks withdrew such services. Rohan Somisetti, operations director at The Bullion Store, said: “There has been huge demand from the public trying to find a safe and secure place to safeguard their valuables and important documents. This centre, with facilities such as fingerprint recognition, offers a private and accessible facility all year round. “Historically, the Indian community have been keen users of safety deposit boxes and there has been an acute shortage of secure facilities outside London. This centre is one of

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

Karren Brady and Steven Greenall at the Nectar Business Awards

>> Trombone maker hits high note with award West Midlands-based Warwick Music Ltd has beaten hundreds of small businesses to win the Innovation of the Year prize at the Nectar Business Small Business Awards 2013. The judging panel included Lord Sugar’s right-hand woman in BBC1’s The Apprentice, Karren Brady. Warwick Music Ltd, of Coventry, is the company behind pBone – the world’s first plastic trombone, which featured in the launch BQ Magazine earlier this year. The pBone became the biggest selling trombone of 2012, with 90,000 sold to date. Brady said: “What a fantastically fun product that allows more people to afford to learn a musical instrument; no wonder it has already turned into a global brand with further potential for both short and long-term growth.”

the securest facilities in the Midlands.” Safety Deposit Boxes will be available in four different sizes starting at £150.

>> Doors close to bullion room The Bullion Room, another Jewellery Quarter company, has recently closed its doors amid an apparent cash crisis. The Bullion Room – completely separate to The Bullion Store – processes precious metals and is part of Birmingham-based international investment company JEEG Global Group, set up by flamboyant, Ferrari-driving entrepreneur Eamon Gaughan and his father in 2007. Despite calls from BQ, JEEG declined to comment, but Gaughan – who featured in

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BQ earlier this year, was reported in the local press as saying: “It is subject to High Court proceedings at the moment. I am not prepared to make any further comment – it does not affect any of the other companies in the group.”

>> Anderson joins DBS Birmingham-based DBS Law has moved into the East Midlands with the acquisition of Andersons Solicitors, a 60-year-old firm based in Nottingham and Leicester. The deal will increase DBS Law’s income

www.dbslaw.co.uk


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by 25% but management believe that economies of scale will produce further growth. Rob Bhol, chief executive of DBS Law, said: “I’m delighted that Andersons Solicitors have joined the DBS Law family. They have a great track record in the East Midlands serving the community and they share our vision of bringing high quality and great value legal services to even more businesses and individuals across the whole region.” Meanwhile, DBS Law has introduced shorter hours as a reward for record revenues and improved customer service. The two-and-a-half hour cut in the working week for its staff came as the firm announced a revenue of £5.4m in 201213, £250,000 more than the previous year.

NEWS

>> Law firms merge Two of Walsall’s longest established law firms, Enoch Evans LLP and Addison O’Hare, have merged. The combined outfit, which will boast more than 40 lawyers and a staff of over 70, will operate under the name of Enoch Evans LLP incorporating Addison O’Hare Solicitors.

>> Science park expansion The Government has announced £4m of funding to expand the Malvern Hills Science Park. The plans will see new offices and laboratories built, which developers said could create up to 150 jobs. The Government has said £1m will be provided this year, with a further £3m in 2014. Some 23 firms are currently based at the Worcestershire, employing about 300 staff.

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>> Pertemps climbs the table Recruitment specialist Pertemps has risen 57 places in a new league table of Britain’s top 250 private mid-market companies. The Meriden-based company – recently rebranded as the Pertemps Network Group – has been listed 46th in the 2013 table of the Sunday Times-Grant Thornton Top Track 250, up from 103rd last year.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


GIVING SOMETHING BACK

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Rotary Shakespeare Half Marathon and Birmingham Half Marathon to raise cash. The money that Gateley raised will contribute towards the purchase of a TomoTherapy TomoHD system and Cyberknife.

>> Face lift for St Swithins A Christian conference centre in Barston, Solihull which offers overnight accommodation for guests has been given a major facelift, thanks to funding from Birmingham Airport. Brand new shower room facilities have recently been installed in the living quarters at St Swithin’s House after securing £2,000 from the Airport’s Community Trust Fund.

>> Triathlon helps beat Samaritans target The Birmingham office of commercial property specialists Jones Lang LaSalle has helped raise more than £200,000 for the Samaritans – five months ahead of their target. The annual Property Triathlon in May, which saw a record 2,400 competitors, a 5k run in Regent’s Park and a ‘Cycle Sportive’ in the Chilterns among a series of high profile sporting events in 2013. Other events included a series of treks, team cycling challenges, bake sales, furniture sales and individuals running for the London Marathon, Great North Run and Royal Parks Run.

>> Air ambulance dinner A recent fundraising dinner at the Copthorne Hotel in Brierley Hill with speaker Phil Tufnell raised over £2,500 for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. Organisers Jilly Edge and business partner Laura Iceton from Events with the Edge sold 180 tickets. The evening was sponsored by local solicitors Wall James Chappell, Chiltern Railways and CSCM IT Solutions.

>> Making a splash More than 30 staff from Cadbury raised £6,000-plus for Acorns Children’s Hospice with a sponsored ‘Belly Flop Splash’. Taking place for the second consecutive year, the ‘Belly Flop Splash’ event saw each participant swim half a mile at Harborne pool in aid of the charity, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

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>> Diamond event The Birmingham office law firm Gateley raised a total of £5,407 towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Appeal after a year of fundraising activity. Champion for the charity, solicitor John Quentin, led Gateley’s fundraising with a Diamond Jubilee themed party followed by doughnut sales, competitive sweepstakes for the Olympics and the Grand National, sausage sandwich breakfast sales and charity dress down days. In addition, a number of staff participated in the

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>> Kilimanjaro challenge Seven friends are celebrating completing the challenge of a lifetime by reaching the roof of Africa while raising more than £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. The group, from Aston-based electronic cigarette brand Nicolites, reached the summit of Kilimanjaro – 5,895 metres above sea level – after trekking more than 60km through Tanzania national park.

>> Hospice cheque Lichfield accountancy firm Inspired Accountants presented the local St Giles Hospice with a cheque for £1,170 after hosting a quiz evening for clients and associates.

>> Coffee record Businesses and residents from across the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham raised more than £7,800 for Macmillan as part of the charity’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.


EXECUTIVE SUMMIT MANUFACTURING Tuesday, 25 February 2014 The Great Hall, University of Birmingham

Our exclusive manufacturing summit will seek to map out a successful future as well as celebrate our world class capabilities in what is a crucial industry for the Midlands economy. We are calling on manufacturers to join us to ensure it delivers maximum impact in contributing to economic growth and improvement in the sector.

For more information about the Summit please contact Kirsty Tarn or Rachael Laschke on 0191 426 6300 or email events@room501.co.uk to book your place and we hopefully look forward to seeing you there to help us shape the future of manufacturing in the region.


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Profits and people: understanding how enhancing workplace well-being can promote a healthy bottom-line Understanding and promoting workplace well-being has captured the imaginations of employers, employees and researchers as a way of retaining experienced and skilled workers and as a method of optimising workplace productivity. A new initiative, named w³, brings together practitioners and academic experts from across psychology, sports and exercise sciences, business and occupational health to develop innovative methods and tools aimed at promoting optimal employee health and enhancing productivity and profits for employers. Talking to BQ Magazine Dr Beth Grunfeld, from the University of Birmingham, maintains that in these financially constrained times, optimising the health, wellbeing and productivity of the workforce needs to be a priority for employers. UNDERSTANDING WELL-BEING Well-being is about how we evaluate our lives and how that makes us feel. It encompasses how an individual evaluates their current (health) status and appraises their life as a whole. It comprises three main elements. Firstly, physical well-being, which focuses on how our behaviours (such as sleeping and exercise) impact on our physical health. Secondly, psychological well-being, which includes the sense of purpose we hold about our lives and our ability to manage and adapt to the stresses and changes we are exposed to. Finally, social well-being, which includes our social systems and how we are able to utilise these to support us. Well-being is also important in relation to work. It can be seen as both a response to our experiences at work and a factor that influences how we engage and perform within the workplace. As a consequence by promoting well-being within the workplace it is also possible to impact performance, work capability and productivity.

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Well-being is also important in relation to work. It can be seen as both a response to our experiences at work and a factor that influences how we engage and perform within the workplace WHY DOES A HEALTHY WORKFORCE IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY? Research has shown that people with a higher psychological well-being “score” are, among other things, far more engaged and creative at work, more helpful to colleagues at work, take less sick days and have a happier work/life balance. The implications of these findings for employers are obvious – increasing the well-being of your

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workforce will make you more than just a good employer, it will impact on the bottom line too. IS THIS SOMETHING EMPLOYERS SHOULD TAKE SERIOUSLY? Employers are of course acquainted with the challenges their businesses face that will ultimately impact on the bottom line. While most businesses recognise that the health and well-being of


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HEALTH & WELL-BEING GET IN TOUCH

their staff is clearly important, few have an understanding of the full scope of health and well-being factors that affect productivity and therefore the tools that will help to improve it. In these financially constrained times, optimising the health, well-being and productivity of the workforce needs to be a priority for employers. In addition, due to changing demographics within the workplace, being aware and responsive to the health and well-being needs of older staff could ensure the retention and extended productive working lives of highly skilled and experienced workers. WHY IS THE NEW INITIATIVE - WORK, WEALTH AND WELL-BEING (W³) - SEEN AS INNOVATIVE? A project of this nature requires an interdisciplinary approach. W³ uniquely brings together University of Birmingham experts from psychology, sport, exercise and rehabilitation sciences, occupational health and the Business School in a cross disciplinary project to create a framework for the design and evaluation of health and well-being programmes and analyses of existing data to produce results to inform employment and health policy, Human Resources Departments and wider workplace practices. We are able to support businesses to prevent and/ or manage lifestyle-related conditions shown to negatively impact on well-being, work performance and productivity. Using an evidence-based approach the team are in a unique position to

develop, implement and evaluate well-being programmes and tools that can be tailored to the specific requirements and needs to diverse work environments. Further, the team is able to suggest suitable interventions and appropriate measurement of health, lifestyle behaviours, wellbeing and performance indicators. WHAT ARE THE BIG IDEAS THAT W³ WILL FOCUS ON? W³ will focus not only on the development of well-being related tools and interventions but also is expanding its profile within the areas of health and performance among older workers; examining how workplace practices and organisation can impact on well-being; exploring how career breaks and caring responsibilities impact on well-being and work performance as well as pioneering new ways of examining well-being and productivity and developing innovative tools and measures for use by both practitioners and researchers. LISTENING TO BUSINESS We want the business community to work with us on this research. Our researchers are looking for companies to collaborate with on projects that will deliver results to employees, increase performance and productivity and impact on the bottom line. Businesses will benefit from better assessment tools, a better understanding of the link between health and work and factors affecting work capability and productivity.

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If you are interested in working with W³ our Business Engagement Team 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), which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013, 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 your 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 W³ RESEARCH TEAM Dr Beth Grunfeld – methods and toolkits Prof Fiona Carmichael – workforce, earnings and productivity Prof Jo Duberley – working issues throughout the lifespan Dr Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani –promoting health, well-being and performance in older workers Dr Steven Sadhra - occupational health Dr Les Wright – workplace well-being programmes

Tim Yates, Marketing and Communications Manager, Business Engagement, University of Birmingham T: 0121 414 8635 E:t.yates.1@bham.ac.uk

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MOVERS AND SHAKERS

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>> Nisbet promotion Birmingham solicitors DBS Law have appointed Calum Nisbet as associate director responsible for developing relations with existing and new businesses.

>> Business school professor

Maria O’Donnell, James Cook and Becky Eagle

>> Starring roles Grant Thornton has promoted three ‘rising stars’ to director roles in its Birmingham office. Maria O’Donnell has been promoted to associate director in the firm’s advisory team where she will help run the office’s corporate finance operation. James Cook is a new director in the firm’s public sector assurance business, heading up the team’s work with NHS clinical commissioning groups and the fire service. And fellow director Becky Eagle, in the audit team, will build on the firm’s business relationships as it extends its client portfolio.

David Bailey has joined Aston Business School in Birmingham as Professor in Industrial Strategy. Professor Bailey, an influential business expert on economic restructuring and industrial policy, is perhaps best known for his knowledge of UK and West Midlands car manufacturing.

Tony Deep Wouhra MBE

>> Banana drama Events management firm Top Banana was named 2013 company of the year in the Birmingham Post Business awards at the city’s Edgbaston Stadium. A total of 13 awards were handed out on the night, with Tony Deep Wouhra MBE, one of the founders of East End Foods, receiving the lifetime achievement award.

>> Ford steps up Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s division has expanded its Birmingham-based operation with the appointment of Richard Ford as business development director.

Karen Dukes and Rob Hunt

>> Rob returns >> Gunn made tax partner Rob Gunn has joined the Oldbury office of national audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill, as a tax partner.

>> Ramshaw to head office National commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton has announced the appointment of Adam Ramshaw as its new head of office in Birmingham. Adam steps up from his role as director of capital markets to lead a team of 70 property professionals.

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PwC has welcomed partner and business recovery specialist, Rob Hunt, back to its Midlands practice at Cornwall Court, Birmingham. Joining Rob is Karen Dukes, a partner who has worked across many of the firm’s regional offices since 1997. Meanwhile, David Roper has been appointed as financial services leader of PwC in the Midlands.

>> New consultants Magna Wealth Management, of Alcester, Warwickshire, has appointed Jane Goodall and Tracey Whatmore as consultants.

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Ray O’Donoghue, Graham Nicoll and Keith Webb

>> Barclays expansion Barclays has announced the expansion of its Midlands corporate banking team with two new senior appointments. Keith Webb, who joins Barclays from Santander, will head the large corporate team, whilst Graham Nicoll, previously with Barclays Wealth, will head the mid market teams across the Midlands.


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INNovaTIoNs IN hEaLThcaRE

Data comes to the fore in preventative treatment Data is playing an increasingly important role in our understanding of human behaviour. But, as Dr Mark Gillett, a leading sports medicine specialist at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield explains, it is also aiding our understanding of how to improve the performance of the human body “The world of medicine is no stranger to data. Whether it is drug trials or clinical assessments, the medical profession is awash with statistics and reports. However, how we collect and then utilise data is now beginning to have a profound impact upon how we treat the human body. “Technology is crucial to this and it is enabling us to apply our medical expertise in new and exciting ways as we work towards preventative treatments, rather than solely treating problems when they arise. “As a specialist in sports medicine, my work over the past 15 years has seen me treat many of the UK’s elite sports professionals. From healing injuries to improving performance both physically and mentally, the role of a doctor in sports medicine is to help individuals get a sustainable high physical performance in line with their objectives. “While previously we relied on subjective factors, today I have access to resources that can provide valuable data on virtually every part of a patient’s body. “This is enabling us to gain a better understanding of an individual’s strengths and vulnerabilities, leading us to work on preventative programmes that minimise the risk of injury before it occurs. “For sports professionals and individuals that have a sports driven or active lifestyle, minimising the risk of injury is important in ensuring their bodies

Dr Mark Gillett, the sports and exercise medicine consultant at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield

operate as well as they should and importantly, where any discomfort is starting to arise, we tackle the cause of that problem and eliminate the risk of it returning. “For example, where an individual is experiencing shoulder pain, we don’t just treat the area of discomfort, we look at how the shoulder moves with the neck and chest to see how each area interacts and connects. Often one area of pain is caused by problems elsewhere, and if spotted early

The effective use of data enable us to quickly understand how an individual’s body is reacting to movement and stress. As medical advancements continue, data will remain a central source to validate new and emerging approaches

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enough, can be treated without intervention. “To ensure this approach works well, access to a multidisciplinary team that understands the demands of sports professionals is important. Perform at Spire Little Aston Hospital provides exactly that. Consisting of a team of specialist sports physios and consultants such as myself, we work with sports men and women to address these issues and intervene where needed. Our knowledge enables us to address an individual’s source of pain and work on a programme to minimise the risk of any discomfort returning. Where intervention is needed, we work on a programme of rehabilitation to restore mobility and strength. “The effective use of data enables us to quickly understand how an individual’s body is reacting to movement and stress. As medical advancements continue, data will remain a central source to validate new and emerging approaches. As sports men and women demand more from their bodies, the role data will play in sports medicine cannot be underestimated.”

Dr Mark Gillett is the sports and exercise medicine consultant at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. He is also Director of Performance at West Bromwich Football Club and Head of Sports Science and Medicine at British Basketball. For further information visit www.spireperform.com/birmingham or call 0121 580 7131 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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HEALTH & WELL-bEing

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Edgbaston leads region with healthcare investment Following the launch of Edgbaston Medical Quarter in spring 2013, the healthcare sector has seen major investment that will create further services and jobs. Calthorpe Estates looks at how the sector has grown and what is in store for 2014 The focus on medical, life sciences, and healthcare in Edgbaston has been gathering momentum over years but particularly in the last seven. There is a proliferation of 327 medical and life sciences organisations, including 130 hospitals and specialist care centres, 58 centres for medical research, and 12 training facilities, all within walking distance of each other around Edgbaston. Many are at the cutting edge of world-class technology and involve leading practitioners and students from the UK’s most important medical facilities, like the University of Birmingham’s medical schools and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Calthorpe Estates has tracked the increasing number of both public and private organisations that, like The Binding Site, have chosen to be based in Edgbaston and be part of a thriving healthcare community. Over the last two years MedilinkWM has worked with Calthorpe Estates to gather statistics and compile an extensive database that demonstrates how Edgbaston is the capital of healthcare in the region and the extent of specialisms being offered. This activity naturally progressed to a cluster group, the Edgbaston Medical Quarter, which was launched in spring 2013 and now has 260 members. The aim of Edgbaston Medical Quarter is to harmonise all that is good in the area, and provide an avenue to showcase the expertise, knowledge outstanding achievements of the sector, and provide a platform for inward investment. Jayne Herritty, Sales and Marketing Director for Calthorpe Estates, explained: “Edgbaston Medical Quarter is harnessing the exceptional talent based here, and providing a platform and an identity that can support the growth of the cluster. It is helping to coordinate the growing interest and activities in life sciences that are happening in Edgbaston and related areas across the city, such as the new

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Dental Hospital (left) and Bupa Care Home Pebble Mill (right) scheme at Battery Park in Selly Oak. The sector is gaining worldwide recognition for cutting edge practices and it is important for the wider regional economy.” Calthorpe Estates is supporting the growth in the life science and healthcare sectors by investing in new facilities and creating new opportunities for organisations that want to be based within Edgbaston Medical Quarter. There are a number of sites available for occupation across the Quarter where occupiers can benefit from the connectivity, services and exceptional medical training and skill set in the area. A leading example of the commitment to increasing facilities is Pebble Mill – a destination that will provide a hub of healthcare and medical excellence. Calthorpe Estates has already invested in excess of £3million at Pebble Mill on the relevant infrastructure, including a main utilities substation, roads, pedestrian and cycle routes between Pershore, Pebble Mill and Bristol roads, as well as landscaping and public realm including a central public green. The environment will create the perfect backdrop for new medical organisations who would like to sit alongside the Dental Hospital, School of Dentistry,

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a private hospital and care home. Construction on the Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry has started with the opening planned for the autumn of 2015. These impressive facilities will be matched by plans from BUPA Healthcare for a 62 en-suite care home, complete with cinema, hair salon and therapy rooms. With Circle Health’s proposals to build a private hospital, the three complimentary schemes represent 75 per cent of available construction space at Pebble Mill. Only Plot 4 remains, a 0.94 acre site with potential for a 50,000 sq ft building. The remaining space is being considered to create important amenities, such as restaurants and cafes for visitors.

For details on the new facilities being created within Edgbaston Medical Quarter, call Jayne Herritty on 0121 248 7676 and visit www.calthorpe.co.uk


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ENTREPRENEUR

Making a business out of lunch Indian food is overwhelmingly an evening experience in Britain. Mahesh Raikar saw a gap in the lunchtime market if only he could make curries into a kind of sandwich. Ros Dodd reports Even as the idea of blending Mexican ‘wrap’ food with Indian cuisine was simmering in his mind, Mahesh Raikar had cooked up the ultimate vision: to become the best-loved burrito company in the world. Less than a year-and-a-half after opening his first eat-in or take-out food outlet, in Birmingham city centre, he can already taste the possibility of realising that big dream. Since Wrapchic (‘rap chick’ is Bollywood slang for “sexy”) opened its doors in July 2012, Raikar’s Indian Burrito Company has expanded faster than a food critic’s girth. Along with seven franchises – with more in the pipeline – this autumn saw the launch of an eatery in the heart of London’s trendy Soho. The only chain of its kind in the world, its rapid success has a lot to do with its cleverly quirky – and, it has to be said, extremely tasty – takes on regional Indian food served up with Mexican panache. A multi-national company is now interested in getting on board and 39-year-old Raikar is already in talks that could lead to Wrapchic going international. The business may have taken off beyond even Raikar’s wildest dreams, but he took a gamble in deciding to quit his well-paid job with a Fortune 500 company in the middle of a recession to invest his savings into the venture.

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

It didn’t help, either, that almost everyone told him he was crazy. He isn’t the sort to say “I told you so,” but there’s no disguising his delight in having confounded his critics. Born in Mumbai, Raikar grew up surrounded by the smells and sounds of aromatic food being cooked in the family home. “My mum was the best cook; her speciality was Goan cuisine,” he recalls. “She would grind her own spices, which I enjoyed seeing her do. I’m a real foodie; I’ve always had a passion for food, in particular for the very different kinds of food you get in the different regions of India. “I’ve always loved Mexican food, too: in fact, I was one of the first people to bring Mexican food to Mumbai. In 1999, I ran a small eatery, within an entertainments centre, selling tacos and burritos.” India was just beginning to take off as a global business player, and as multi-nationals moved in, Raikar decided it was time he moved out. “I knew that my knowledge of food and catering and my qualifications weren’t enough, so I came to the UK to do a post-graduate qualification in hospitality management at Thames Valley University (now the University of West London) in Ealing.” While studying, Raikar took a part-time job as a cashier with Compass Group, a global

company that provides food and other support services to businesses, hospitals and academic institutions. It operates in more than 50 countries and employs nearly half a million people. By the time he’d finished his course, Raikar had impressed Compass sufficiently to be given a place on its management training programme. He went on to win an award and to be named Trainee of the Year. However, in 2003, Raikar decided to return to Mumbai. “I’d done what I came to the UK to do, which was to gain more qualifications and knowledge.” Soon afterwards, Raikar married his long-term girlfriend, Vrushali, an architect. “She wanted to do a Masters degree, so I said: ‘I know what it’s like in the UK, and I might be able to get a job, so why don’t you do your Masters there’?” So, only a year after returning to his homeland, Raikar was once again in the UK. This time, however, he moved to Birmingham – where he’s lived ever since – so that Vrushali could study at what is now Birmingham City University (BCU). By coincidence, Compass Group had just won the catering contract for the university and re-employed Raikar – as catering manager for BCU. Over the next few years, he took on a >>

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series of increasingly senior, central roles within Compass, ending up as brand manager for the company’s internal brands in the UK. “One of the great things about my Compass career was that I tasted the best food, experienced the best restaurants and met people with a strong knowledge of the catering sector.” It was one such encounter that set Raikar on the road towards setting up Wrapchic. “One day I came across a Mexican burrito chain, and the seed was sown,” he recalls. “All this while, I’d been frustrated by how Indian food was catered for. “If you think about Indian eateries in the UK, they are predominantly focused on the evening and weekend markets; they are formal, sit-down restaurants costing £20-a-head or more. There is no lunchtime alternative to a sit-down curry. “I already knew about and loved Mexican-style food, and when I came across this burrito chain of restaurants, it was one of those light bulb moments. Burritos and tacos are modern, grab-and-go foods, and I started to think about pairing the Mexican style with Indian flavours.” Raikar spent 18 months carefully researching the market before he felt confident enough to quit his job, plough £150,000 of his own and friends’ and family’s money into getting the venture off the ground. “I visited every burrito chain and pretty much all the outlets in the UK,” he says. “After a year-and-a-half, I knew there was a market – and not just a London market – for Indian flavours with a Mexican/ Subway experience. “That was when I handed in my notice with Compass. But I got a lot of stick from a lot of people. We were in a recession and everyone said I was stupid to give up a good job. But I believed in the idea and was confident I now had the skills, qualifications and experience to make it work. I had this vision – and it was the first thing I wrote on my business

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

ENTREPRENEUR

Mahesh Raikar 1974: Born in Mumbai, India. 2001: Arrives in the UK to study hospitality management at Thames Valley University. 2003: Returns to Mumbai. 2004: Moves back to the UK and settles in Birmingham. 2010: Comes up with Wrapchic concept. July 2012: Opens first Wrapchic outlet, in North Western Arcade, Birmingham. September 2012: Sees Wrapchic franchise open on Leicester University campus. November 2012: Sees Wrapchic franchise open on Coventry University campus. December 2012: Sees three Wrapchic franchises open on Roehampton University sites, south-west London. Early 2013: Sees Wrapchic franchises open in Southampton, Derby and Middlesex. 21 October, 2013: Opens Wrapchic in Beak Street, Soho, London.

plan – to become the world’s best-loved burrito company. “Right from the start, I felt there was enough mileage in the concept for it to go worldwide. Right across Europe and America, people are now used to spicy food, so there are no restrictions on where we can take this. I knew, therefore, that if the first outlet succeeded, I

could roll it out anywhere.” For even the first outlet to succeed, however, Raikar knew the food had to sing. And – for what it is – it does. Using only British chicken and free-range eggs, eschewing frying for the healthier grilling and grinding its own spices, Wrapchic produces stylish fast food, from different regions of India, that packs a spicy punch when it comes to taste. From burritos and bowls of curry-and-rice to tacos and Wrapchos, there is plenty of choice on offer. Mutton (cooked slowly for six hours) is on the menu and so are vegetarian options. A highlight – in my opinion – is the paneer Wraposa – a toasted bread version of the traditional samosa. It isn’t an idle boast when Raikar says: “I don’t have to sell myself when people have tried the food.” But his understanding of good food is patently matched by his business acumen. Already Raikar is in talks with a multi-national company (he won’t say any more at this stage), is negotiating with a 40-restaurant chain in Saudi Arabia to turn some of the eateries into Wrapchic franchises and is working on setting up a spin-off chain of Indian coffee shops – to be called Tapri from Wrapchic – in the style of Costa and Starbucks. Meanwhile, he is looking for further locations in Birmingham in which to open, as well as seeking more franchisees. Turnover for next year is expected to be £1.5m and the company is on track to have opened its projected 50 units by 2015 and to be in America by 2017. “Everything looks nice and rosy at this point, but it was hard to start with,” admits Raikar. Had I not believed in the concept and had the vision and determination, I would have succumbed to the pressure and done something else. But I’m very glad I didn’t. I still have sleepless nights and work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, but my wife supports me a lot and I’m just delighted that the vision I had is becoming a reality.” n

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COMPANY PROFILE

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Pertemps - Pride of the Midlands and beyond What started off life here in the West Midlands has now become one of the largest, most successful recruitment agencies in the land The West Midlands: Famous for its industrial and engineering heritage; celebrities including Ozzy Osbourne, Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles; and, of course, Pertemps. The recruitment agency is now as widely recognised in Dundee as it is Dudley but it will forever be associated with the region where it was established more than 50 years ago. This is where it all began for a business that is now one of the biggest independent recruiters in the land. It may have started off as a relatively small agency in Birmingham but it now boasts more than 100 branches in almost every part of the UK. Pertemps Limited is part of the wider Pertemps Network Group (PNG), which is preparing to turnover a combined £500m this year. PNG is made up of over 40 companies, each of whom are managed independently, and recently rocketed up the rankings in the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250. The business had been listed at 103 in the 2012 league table, based purely on sales, but dramatically climbed 57 places to number 46 this time round. This followed a reported turnover for 2012 of over £411m - an increase of more than £100m on the previous year. Chairperson of Pertemps Ltd, Carmen Watson, proclaimed the success a victory for everyone involved with the Pertemps Network Group, a climb all the more remarkable considering the current trading environment. A time to sit back, light a huge cigar and savour the moment for many businesses. Not for Pertemps Network Group. For them, resting on laurels is never an option and the next stop will be the £1billion mark, something they hope to top within the next few years. This will be achieved by following a strategy that involves organic growth

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Chairperson of Pertemps Ltd, Carmen Watson

Key to our success has been the ability of our consultants to forge strong and effective relationships with clients combined with acquiring selective businesses, something that has already served the business tremendously well to date. Driving the strategy forward is a new brand that stretches across the Network Group. For more than 50 years, the company has been at the heart of the recruitment industry. In 2013, Pertemps became ‘the face of recruitment.’ That is the strapline that is now featured on Pertemps and Network Group logos and replaces the former ‘Jobs@Pertemps’ brand that served the business well since 2003. Branches across the Midlands have already begun to benefit from a facelift in fitting with the new brand and all others will soon follow suit.

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Explaining the thinking behind the re-brand, Chairperson of Pertemps Ltd, Carmen Watson, said: “Pertemps may have started off life predominantly as a high street recruiter but we are also now industry specialists in Master Vendor, Neutral Vendor and Recruitment Process Outsourcing. The Network Group operates across a wide range of specialist and niche markets so whilst we may still be adept at providing work in traditional Pertemps sectors such as admin, customer services, driving and logistics, we also specialise in areas such as education, finance, IT and medical to name a few. “We therefore wanted a brand that better represents Pertemps and the Network Group in 2013 and moving forward. It is an exciting time for the business and this re-brand will drive our ambitious growth strategy that involves acquiring new businesses as well as growing organically.” There is no denying that the business has come a long way since 1961 when it was first formed by Constance Watts. Back then, the company was a one-off, family affair based in a rented office in Temple Street, Birmingham. Now it is represented all over the country – no more so than in the West Midlands where it still retains a huge presence in Birmingham as well as West Bromwich, Coventry, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Rugby - the list goes on and on…. The region has for decades been known as the industrial hub of the country and Pertemps has done more than most in keeping the wheels turning, supplying both permanent and temporary staff to a wide range of sectors and supplying to a diverse number of roles. Last year alone, the business supplied more than 25,000 temporary workers and secured in excess of 10,000 permanent positions. Demand for driving positions, for example, was so strong that a specialist Driving Division was


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COMPANY PROFILE

The West Bromwich branch of Pertemps was one of the first to benefit as part of the company-wide re-brand

established in West Bromwich, headed by Craig Elwell. Each branch previously supplied their own drivers but the company identified a need to specialise. It was a sound business decision and the office has reported a year-on-year growth. Will Hodson, who looks after industrial operations across the West Midlands, explained: “The success of the Driving Division has been phenomenal and this is largely down to the knowledge and experience of our team members. All of the team members are qualified driving consultants, which gives us a real edge over our competitors. Key to our success has been the ability of our consultants to forge strong and effective relationships with clients and we work with some of the biggest, blue chip names in the business. “As well as enjoying lasting relationships with our clients we also take pride in going the extra mile for applicants who are looking for driving work. We never close the door to new applicants and are always on the lookout to expand our available workforce. “ Will added that drivers who sign up with Pertemps

The business has lost none of its family values and is as passionate today about its people as it has ever been are given all of the support that is needed to help them develop, saying: “We have a fabulous offering for our workforce. Not only do we supply drivers with uniform, holidays and a competitive salary, but we also offer CPC courses to both our drivers and our customers’ drivers through our internal training division. Additional training is also available in the shape of FLT or Moffat. It isn’t just about finding an individual a decent day’s work, it is about finding them the perfect position and then supporting them in their own personal development and growth.” The central hub of the Driving Division, based in West Bromwich, supplies staff throughout the Black Country and Staffordshire via its team of five. The office has been such a success that the business will shortly be opening another hub in Stoke on Trent. This has been at the request of customers who have depots in that area. It is a 24-hour operation across the Division with out-of-hours requests for staff

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handled by the dedicated Nightline Office. This service kicks in when all branches close for the day and is open all the year round. It is even open on Christmas Day! The rise and rise of Pertemps since those early days in Birmingham has been nothing short of remarkable. However, the business has lost none of the family values that made it stand out back in the sixties and is as passionate today about its people as it has ever been. Pertemps is run like a family business where employees are empowered to achieve their potential. It is a stance that has worked wonders – over a quarter of employees have worked within the business between five and ten years whilst almost a tenth have been everpresent for in excess of 15 years. Indeed, current Chairperson of Pertemps Ltd Carmen Watson has been with the company since the 1970s, having first stepped on board as secretary right here in the West Midlands. The business was named as one >>

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COMPANY PROFILE of the Top Employers last year by the CRF Institute, getting outstanding recognition for having a family friendly business culture, longevity of employee service and for the opportunities it provides staff in realising their ambitions. The recent re-brand was further proof, if needed, of how seriously the business regards the input of its employees. All members of staff were asked for their views during the re-branding process and members of the Board of Directors went on a tour of the country to meet with as many employees in person as possible to outline the future vision for the business. Roadshow events were held in Scotland, Slough, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, all with the aim of engaging with Pertemps people and staying true to the family values of the business. Sitting behind the re-brand is an ambitious growth strategy for Pertemps Network Group that will push it nearer towards the £1billion turnover goal in the next few years. Growth is the key word throughout the Network Group and just like the industrial arm of the business, commercial opportunities for Pertemps Ltd are on the up. Celia Perry, Operations Director, explained: “We have noticed that there has been a significant rise in companies engaging with Pertemps across the Midlands all wanting to discuss their future recruitment methods. This is, of course, fantastic news for us as a business and we are very keen to meet with them and discuss how our partnered, tailored approach best fits with their particular needs. “We are seeing an increase in higher level salaried vacancies being placed with us, for example over £30,000. We are experiencing a 5% rise in vacancies registered with our branches compared to this time last year.” There is a continuing growth plan throughout the company and the branch network is no different. Here in the West Midlands, like other parts of the country, the business is committed to improving so that it can further excel in the already distinguished service it provides to clients. “We already have some of the most professional and experienced consultants working within the business;” added

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Celia Perry, Operations Director, and Steve Mogano, Finance Director, celebrate the remarkable climb up the league table in the Top Track 250

Celia, “but we are always actively looking to attract talent into our branch network to work as consultants. We have a robust and excellent training programme in place to support this and to ensure we continue to provide a professional service for all of our clients.” For more than 50 years, Pertemps Ltd has rightfully earned a reputation for being the go-to company for industrial and commercial recruitment solutions. However, the business is now just at home in providing business process outsourcing delivered using a range of solutions such as Master Vendor, Neutral vendor and Recruitment Process Outsourcing. The significant climb up the Top Track 250 league standings was no fluke. It has come about through the success of the larger Pertemps Network Group in acquiring new businesses. In the Midlands alone, these independently run businesses – which enjoy the benefits of being part of a wider strategic partnership – are delivering recruitment solutions to sectors as diverse as procurement, IT, healthcare, legal, engineering and HR, to name just a few. Businesses that comprise the Pertemps Network Group are operating within niche markets where candidates and clients are reaping the rewards of the high levels of service they are being afforded.

We have noticed that there has been a significant rise in companies engaging with Pertemps, all wanting to discuss their future recruitment needs

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It is a group that recognises and responds to the highly challenging, fast paced and dynamic nature of the world of recruitment. Revenue for Network Group Holdings climbed by seven per cent to £68.5m in 2012 and, in the first six months of 2013, was double that of the first six months of last year. In February 2012, Network Group Holdings delisted from AIM and re-joined the Pertemps family to form the Pertemps Network Group. The merger brought the two businesses back together, Network having previously demerged from Pertemps in 2004. Jon Smith, Chairman of Network Group Holdings, said: “The figures for 2012 show our continuing strategy of combining organic growth with selective acquisitions. We left the Pertemps group in 2004 to pursue our growth strategy when Network consisted of 12 recruitment businesses. At the end of June 2013, we comprise 42 recruitment businesses, together with a number of franchises. “Our turnover in the first six months of 2013 is double that of the first six months of 2012. In 2013, we have completed a number of acquisitions and start-ups in order to bolster our education, accountancy, IT and medical recruitment sectors. Incredibly, each of the 12 businesses from 2004 still trade within our group in 2013.” Rising profits maybe, but Pertemps and the Network Group are also dedicated to supporting the communities they serve. Giving something back is at the heart of the Pertemps Network Group. Businesses take great pride in their


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COMPANY PROFILE

Pertemps Network is committed to supporting community and charitable organisations - here (back left) Craig Elwell, Transport Division Manager, and Will Hodson (back right), Operations Director, pledge support to Midlands Air Ambulance.

Across the Network Group, our commitment to Birmingham and the West Midlands has never wavered. close links to local communities and charity commitments are high on the agenda. The Connie Watts Foundation, named after the company’s founder, raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for deserving causes every year and employees can take advantage of match funding up to £500 for any charity venture they choose to embark upon. The charitable culture of Pertemps Network Group has not gone unnoticed. This year it has been recognised by the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) as part of their annual awards. The business has been shortlisted in the Contribution to the Community category. It is a double success for the company as it has also been shortlisted for the Best Large Company to Work For award. As well as supporting communities, the business is committed to ensuring the region prospers on the international stage. It continues to deliver thousands of permanent and temporary jobs on a daily basis across a diverse range of sectors but

it is also playing a pivotal role in shaping the future generation of the West Midlands’ workforce. Pertemps has a long and established relationship with the University of Birmingham and recently committed itself for another two years to financing Gateway places for students and also to provide placements across its branch operations, and to work on specific projects relating to the business. The Gateway bursary scheme gives many young people opportunities to improve their personal and professional development that they may otherwise not have had. This year alone, students benefited from valuable work experience in countries as far afield as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda and South Africa all as a result of Pertemps funding. Chairperson of Pertemps Ltd, Carmen Watson, explained: “Across the Network Group, the commitment to Birmingham and the West Midlands is evident and our support of the region has never wavered. We are proud of our close association with

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the University of Birmingham and recognise that an educated workforce has a vital role to play in making sure the region remains at the focal point of the global knowledge economy. “Birmingham has the capacity to become one of the most competitive in Europe and we strongly believe that our students can compete on the world stage. By funding Gateway places and offering internships, we aim to do all we can to help them reach their full potential.” Taking care of the needs of today’s workforce and ensuring a bright future for tomorrow’s. The business is shining brighter than ever in the West Midlands and beyond.

For more information please call 0800 072 3191 or visit www.pertemps.co.uk

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ENTREPRENEUR

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A business that refused to die

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ENTREPRENEUR

When Rover collapsed in 2005, it hit the automotive supply chain hard. Jim Griffin didn’t like all the despondency, so he took drastic action – leading a management buyout of the company he worked for. Paul Robertson reports The date 1 October 2006 stands out as the most important one in the business life of Jim Griffin. Well, it was until 30 September this year, when turnover at his company reached £12m, a target which had, to say the least, looked ambitious seven years ago. But back in October 2006, at the age of 40 and after 10 months of difficult negotiations – including the loss of a customer which threatened to scupper the deal – Griffin’s management buyout of Automotive Insulations, based in Rugby, Warwickshire, was complete. It followed months of uncertainty as the business, where Griffin was general manager having worked his way up from the shop floor, came under severe pressure when the customer it relied on for almost all its work – MG Rover – collapsed. “The business had been run by two brothers and had gone through many turmoils, including the industrial unrest of strikes and the demise of Rover not once but twice,” recalls Griffin. “They were losing spirit and I didn’t agree with the direction the business was taking. “I went on holiday to New Zealand and after three weeks moaning about work to an entrepreneurial friend he said to me I had a decision to make – buy it or quit.” Sitting

on the plane on his way home Jim made the decision to quit, but almost a year later he was the new owner along with partners Kevin Westwood and Karen Holdback. “It was a pretty stressful time and I do talks now on how not to do a management buyout,” he says. “We had taken on a business which was just plodding along and which under-estimated its exposure not only to the big players but also the supply chain.” By 2008 he risked losing his house, was struggling to pay the wages and was beginning to think, despite their best efforts, Automotive Insulations would be another casualty of the recession. With their backs to the wall, Griffin and his partners devised a whole new approach to win new customers, friends and lay the foundations for the spectacular growth it is enjoying today.

He called the workforce together and announced while competitors may go bust that was not going to happen to Automotive Insulations – instead, they were actually going to win the business of those who could no longer continue. “The easiest thing in a recession is to do things on the cheap and cut costs, but such an approach is doomed to fail,” says Griffin. “When you have a good product and a great reputation, diversification is always well worth considering. We decided that we needed to find new markets within the automotive and vehicle sector. “Furthermore, our industry has changed considerably over the past five years with customers increasingly looking for more agile and capable companies – and so we needed to find ways of meeting that demand.” A training programme was put in place so that whatever role an employee had – engineer or designer – they were also salespeople, able to move quickly to take advantage of others’ misfortune, providing a fast, efficient and reliable service with the focus on the customer. “We targeted the business of the companies which went bust and earned a reputation for winning new friends. There were times we wondered how we would be able to design and make certain products, but we found a way.” >>

They were losing spirit and I didn’t agree with the direction the business was taking

Andrew whiting weAlth ConsultAnCy llP Senior Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management tel: 0121 215 0926 Email: andrew.whiting@sjpp.co.uk Web: www.andrewwhiting.co.uk

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ENTREPRENEUR

A new rule was also introduced to avoid a repeat of the drop in business suffered when MG Rover collapsed – Automotive Insulations will never again do more than 30% of its business with just one company. “Our big breakthrough came with Jaguar Land Rover,” explains Griffin. “We won a large amount of work on the Jaguar XJ. Working

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with their engineers, we were able to devise a flexible component at a fraction of the cost they were paying their suppliers. I call it origami-style – it allowed the component to fit a variety of shapes. It was also lighter which again helped save massively on costs.” Automotive Insulations specialise in the design and manufacture of innovative noise reduction

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systems and thermal management solutions for the automotive and marine industries. The company now has an extensive portfolio of international clients, including Bentley 3M and, as already mentioned, Jaguar Land Rover. It currently employs 120 people, a figure that has shot up from the workforce of 40 in January 2012. With further rapid expansion


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on the cards, Automotive Insulations is moving to new premises in Rugby next year, with turnover expected to double to £24m in the next 18 months. While its roots are firmly in the West Midlands, the company is also expanding overseas. Last year they opened a joint venture in Sweden called Scandins, turning over £2m with 10 employees, and last month opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Germany with a projected first year turnover of at least £3.5m. “There are 5.5m cars being built in Germany so I think if we can do £20m in the UK with a market of 2.2m cars what can I do with 5.5m in Germany?” says Griffin. He is also passionate about training and helping SMEs to develop their own workers to tackle

ENTREPRENEUR

admits it is often difficult for SMEs like his where the focus is keeping the business going and on the customer. Automotive Insulations have recruited one trainer with another in the pipeline and it’s Griffin’s hope, working with Semta, to recruit five or six graduates – one for every department. The senior team also underwent leadership and management training which helped “bring greater focus, empowerment and enthusiasm” to those running the company, enabling them to pass their learning down through their teams to deliver market, product and geographical diversification. Griffin’s work-life balance is assisted by the fact that his wife of 25 years, Linda, also works in the business as his PA. But while they both

Business-wise, it has been a long haul but we have listened, listened and listened then acted upon what we have heard rather than what we thought we heard the impending skills gap as older workers retire, which is why he accepted the position as chairman of Semta’s West Midlands regional council. Semta is the employer-led body engineering skills for the future and Griffin says it has a vital role. “I think Semta is showing fantastic vision,” he says. “What we really need is for local business to engage and pass comment – it is no good us providing just what we think is needed but to provide solutions which work. “People are waking up to the fact a little bit too late that skills are obviously essential to future success. The big companies have been very good at sharing their expertise but we need to engage with more SMEs.” While the message was getting through, he

spend a lot of time at work, they also love spending time with their daughters: Natalie, aged 23, who has started her first ‘proper’ job since graduating as a graphic illustrator, and Bex, 20, who after returning from a spell in Australia is working in a bar while she considers her options. “We also have a seven-month-old puppy, Jenny, who likes to take us on lots of beautiful walks which sometimes end up in the pub,” says Griffin. “Business-wise, it has been a long haul but we have listened, listened and listened then acted upon what we have heard rather than what we thought we heard. “You have to take risks to reap the rewards. I have yet to make money out of the business because we are continually

re-investing, but we are in this for the long game and have a highly skilled and committed workforce helping us to create and secure employment in the West Midlands, winning us lots of new customers and making us many new friends.” n

Meeting future needs Semta, the employerled body engineering skills for the future of UK industry, appointed Jim Griffin as chairman of its West Midlands regional council at the beginning of this year. “I am delighted to be representing SMEs among some of the larger multi-nationals,” says Griffin. “Small and medium size businesses are vital to the success of British engineering, so it is important to get a balance of views from companies of all sizes operating in different sectors of manufacturing and engineering. “By working with other businesses and offering feedback to Semta, we are helping ensure the training needs for future manufacturing are met.” Automotive Insulations use the Semta Apprenticeship Service, which offers employers a bespoke solution that makes it easy to take on and upskill apprentices. Its expert apprenticeship co-ordinators handle all administration, recruitment and customised training, as well as mentoring each apprentice so employers get the best results for their business and apprentices receive the best start to their careers. For more information on how Semta can help your business visit www.semta.org.uk

Andrew whiting weAlth ConsultAnCy llP Senior Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management tel: 0121 215 0926 Email: andrew.whiting@sjpp.co.uk Web: www.andrewwhiting.co.uk

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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

WINTER 13

Rentals, leases, new deals, investments and appointments; we bring you a roundup of the latest commercial property news >> ATD expands An expanding West Midland car parts firm has rented a 14,000 sq ft industrial unit in Coventry. Automotive Trim Developments Ltd (ATD), which specialises in interior trims for the automotive, marine and aviation sectors, has taken Bay 1, 892 Charter Avenue on a five year lease. Property consultants Bruton Knowles advised the private landlord on the £55,000 a year deal. Established in 2000 by managing director Brett Townsend, ATD employs 70 people at its production facility in Coventry with an annual turnover of £6m. Its customers include JLR, Jankel, Prodrive, Esteban and KAB. ATD has acquired the new unit next to its existing premises to increase its production capability. Geoff Solman, a senior surveyor at Bruton Knowles, said: “The UK’s automotive industry has turned its fortunes around and is enjoying something of a renaissance. ATD is a great success story and we are pleased to have played a part in the company’s expansion.”

>> Jobs for Redditch Car parts distributor Bromsgrove Motor Factors has opened a new branch in Redditch. The new 5,280 sq ft premises at Springside, Howard Road will house a distribution centre and showroom, creating extra jobs. Bromsgrove Motor Factors, which distributes motor components, garage equipment, tools and consumables, is already established in Bromsgrove, Worcester and Kidderminster with a satellite warehouse in Malvern. John Truslove director Ian Parker said: “This is a go-ahead and successful SME business. We have watched it grow and, as a Redditch concern ourselves, we welcome Bromsgrove Motor Factors to the town.”

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Adam Ramshaw of Lambert Smith Hampton

>> Commercial property bounces back Commercial property investment reached £799m in the West Midlands in the third quarter of 2013, according to latest research. The figures have contributed to total regional investment across the UK of £3.71bn – the highest level since the first quarter of 2011. Significant deals in the West Midlands included Gracechurch Shopping Centre in Sutton Coldfield, Mell Square in Solihull, and 1 Brindleyplace Birmingham. Adam Ramshaw, head of the Birmingham office for Lambert Smith Hampton, which compiled the figures, said: “Over the last two quarters there has been an increase in regional investment and investment has already outstripped the 2012 total. Increasing confidence should feed through to the markets as companies look to move or upgrade premises. “Improvements in the economy should also encourage investors to take on more risk as they see a greater upside in terms of rental growth and the ability to enhance returns through refurbishment, redevelopment and speculative development.”

>> Nine estate role Chartered surveyors Johnson Fellows has been appointed to manage nine industrial estates across the West Midlands for property company Industrious. The sites include: Albion Industrial Estate, West Bromwich; Summit Crescent Industrial Estate, Smethwick; Windsor Industrial Estate, Aston; Kings Road Industrial Estate, Tyseley; Wedgnock Industrial Estate, Warwick; Griffin Business Park, Solihull; and Dunton Industrial Estate in Nechells. Johnson Fellows’ initial task is to secure tenants for 20 vacant units across the portfolio, which range in size from

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2,500 sq ft to 130,000 sq ft. Mike Price, partner at Johnson Fellows, said: “The instruction is the largest for the industrial department since it was set up 18 months ago. I would anticipate demand from automotive-related companies as well as SMEs from the logistics and distribution sector as many of the sites provide easy access to the motorway network.” As part of the project, Johnson Fellows has already secured a letting at Kings Road Industrial Estate in Tyseley. Neely Transport has signed a three-year lease for an 11,340 sq ft warehouse unit.


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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

>> Village pubs More than £800,000 has been invested to transform one of Birmingham’s oldest pubs. The 1894 building formerly known as The Village Inn, in Moseley, has been lovingly restored as a quirky Victoriana-inspired venue in the heart of Moseley, creating 30 permanent jobs. Local entrepreneurs Adrian and Sharon Harvey are the husband and wife team behind The Village, the first venture to be launched under their Suburban Inns brand. Commercial interior design and brand experts Spencer Swinden designed the concept, interior and new exterior areas. Sharon Harvey said: “The combination of introducing an exciting new interior scheme with restoring the building’s original features, such as the vaulted ceiling, has been a real labour of love.” The Alcester Road venue will introduce what’s claimed to be a first for Birmingham – the ‘Carving Platter’, where a family or group of friends can carve an entire joint at their table.

>> US investment US-firm Cabot Properties Inc. has bought a 150,000 sq ft prime logistics unit for £8.55m in Solihull from a private investor. Colliers International advised the Americans in the deal for the Stirling 150 premises in Monkspath, which is let to DHL for a further three years. Justin Harvey, vice president at Cabot, said: “The expansion of our activities in the UK industrial sector is in line with our strategy of investing in high quality assets in strong locations with attractive yields.”

(l-r) Vicky Beach, Jones Lang LaSalle, Lance Turner, Harris Lamb and Steven Jagers, Jones Lang LaSalle

>> Landmark on the market The former Sealine International factory in Kidderminster is up for grabs. The 11.38 acre former manufacturing site has been a landmark in the town for 41 years, but sadly Sealine went into administration back in April. The brand name was subsequently sold to European investors and now Jones Lang LaSalle and Harris Lamb are marketing the 260,000 sq ft vacant buildings for the administrators. Vicky Beach, of Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “Premises of this type and size with cranage and high eaves rarely come to the market and we hope to bring a positive conclusion to the final chapter in Sealine International’s closure.”

>> Business doubles

>> Candy store in centre

A Midland family business has doubled its floorspace to handle growth. Redditch-based Flexel Ltd, which specialises in wiring assemblies, has doubled the size of its premises in a move to a 6,000 sq ft base at Moons Park, Burnt Meadow Road, advised by property agents John Truslove. The SME employs just eight people but is now looking to take on a couple more. “Such companies are the bedrock of the economy,” said John Truslove partner Ian Parker.

Harris Lamb has secured a key city centre retail location for posh clothes retailer The Candy Store. The Birmingham business, founded in 2007, opened its first location in Union Street and opened a second outlet in the heart of London last year, selling exclusive brands including 10.Deep, HUF, Diamond Supply and Crooks & Castles. The Candy Store has now taken on the 833 sq ft premises close to the new Stephenson Street entrance to New Street Station, in Lower Temple Street, with more space in the basement. Matthew Pegg, retail agent at Harris Lamb, said: “The Candy Store is an exciting, successful retailer, with strong roots in Birmingham, so the business was very keen to secure the best possible presence within the city centre.”

Such companies are the bedrock of the economy

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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

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web company The Adhere Creative from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth. The move sees the Solihull courtyard office scheme closer to full occupancy, with 10 out of the 12 two-storey office units now either sold or let. It follows the sale of Unit 5 to South West News Services. The last remaining two office buildings extend to 2,323 sq ft and 3,164 sq ft. Bobbie Bhogal, founder and director of JustSayPlease and The Adhere Creative, said: “The Pavilions was always our preferred first choice. We employ 25 people and the open plan environment is perfectly designed to suit our business.”

>> Authors home up for sale A law firm merger has resulted in the sale of the one-time home of Jerome K Jerome, author of Three Men in a Boat. The historic offices at 23 Lichfield Street, Walsall, is being vacated by law firm Addison O’Hare as part of its merger with Enoch Evans LLP. Jerome K Jerome was born in Walsall, the house and family connection being referred to in the Municipal List of Residents, 1861. The asking price for the 5,000 sq ft property is £425,000 through agents CPBigwood. The town’s two longest established legal firms, with more than 40 lawyers and a staff of over 70, will operate under the name of Enoch Evans LLP, incorporating Addison O’Hare Solicitors.

>> Premier properties addition CBRE has been appointed to manage The Cube, the landmark mixed-use development in Birmingham, on behalf of EPISO3, a fund managed by Tristan Capital. CBRE’s property and asset management team won a competitive tender to manage the 500,000 sq ft, 23-storey building, which houses prime office, retail and restaurant space, apartments, a boutique hotel, spa and the UK’s largest automated car park. The Cube, completed in 2010, was designed by Birmingham-born architect Ken Shuttleworth, of MAKE architects, who created its now famous ‘jewellery-box’ design. The building will be the latest addition to CBRE’s ‘Premier Properties’ programme, which already includes the Shanghai Tower, the Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao and The Gherkin in the City of London. David Charlton, an associate director at

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CBRE, said: “This is a very significant win for us, and highlights our capacity to manage complex, mixed-use assets and balance the needs of a diverse mix of occupiers.”

>> Just say lease Birmingham property consultants KWB and GVA have completed two deals in two months at The Pavilions, Solihull for mobile phone comparison specialist JustSayPlease. The web company has taken a lease with a commitment to purchase the 2,200 sq ft unit at 2 The Pavilions on Cranmore Drive after relocating with its sister

>> NHS offices The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has taken 3,928 sq ft of office space in Wolverhampton city centre. In a three-year lease deal put together by property agents CPBigwood, the Trust has moved certain IT and administrative functions into part of St Johns House in St Johns Square. St Johns House is in a prominent location overlooking Wolverhampton Ring Road, St Johns Retail Park and immediately opposite the grounds of St. Johns Church. The threestorey building is already home to British Mensa Ltd and Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust.

>> Pickavance venture There’s a new girl on the commercial property block in the shape of Philippa Pickavance. Pickavance has set up her own consultancy in the West Midlands after more than 29 years in the business, 17 of them at King Sturge, now merged with JLL. Philippa Pickavance Real Estate, based in Birmingham, will specialise in acquisitions, sales and lettings of commercial property. Contact pp@philippapickavance.co.uk for more details.

ONLINE: More commercial property stories are available on BQ’s website www.bq-magazine.co.uk

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COMPANY PROFILE

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Mike’s BID team goes for its hat-trick in 2014 Birmingham’s Broad Street BID was the country’s first entertainment based Business Improvement District. Ian Halstead considers its past, its present and its potential Nowadays, with some 160 BIDs scattered throughout the country, the idea that companies and individuals working in an area should fund an organisation, dedicated to making their surroundings a better place to be just seems so obvious. However, it’s little more than eight years since the first such body was created, after some 260 businesses in and around Broad Street voted overwhelmingly in support of the fledgling BID’s business plan. It might have been thought that such a pioneering venture would find it challenging to persuade people of its merit, but the 92% ‘Yes’ vote - which allowed the BID team to start work in the summer of 2005 - remains the highest start-up figure yet achieved in the UK. Equally impressively, when companies were polled in November 2009 to decide if the BID should continue for another five years, its support edged up to 94%, which is also the highest achieved by any of the UK’s BIDs going for a second term. It’s clear from the numbers that the Broad Street team is doing a tremendous job, at keeping the area safe and clean, at making its clubs, bars and restaurants appealing and welcoming to visitors and locals alike, and at marketing the district as a location for inward investment - both for club operators and corporates. The BID’s marketing manager, Nichole (correct) Samuels, calculates that it generated £1.7 million worth of positive media coverage in just the first nine months of 2013, in local, national and international media. “When we gave the Birmingham-born actor David Harewood a place on our Walk of Stars, he came here for the ceremony just when he was playing David Estes, in Homeland, on Channel 4,” she recalls. “He put out a Tweet about being given a place in his home-town’s Hall of Fame, then when he was

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Birmingham’s new £190m library

One of our great strengths, right from the start, has been the professionalism and knowledge of our board here, his family and friends came along, lots of people turned up too to see him, for a private screening of his film Blood Diamond, and we got masses of great publicity for Broad Street and for Birmingham. ”To be honest, I don’t think anyone thought that the Walk of Stars could be as successful as it has, but the media attention has been phenomenal. We don’t issue many stars, we only gave out four during the whole of 2012, to keep it special and it’s really working. ”We’ve also freshened up our e-newsletter, and increased its circulation, and as you’d expect, social media plays an ever-more important role in

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promoting events, special offers and information about our members. “Our slogan is ‘enhancing - connecting developing’, and we’re all putting in as much time and energy as we can, to make consistent progress in all three elements.” Her colleague, BID manager Mike Olley, admits that given the image of Broad Street itself as a entertainment destination with a nationwide reputation, it’s a regular surprise for newcomers to the city that Birmingham’s most successful modern business quarter is just across the road. It’s 20 years since Brindleyplace was spawned upon an urban wasteland, criss-crossed by weed-


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COMPANY PROFILE

Homeland actor David Harewood joins the Walk of Stars

The BID team generated £1.7 million worth of positive media coverage in just the first nine months of 2013 choked canals, thanks to the political acumen and vision of council leader Sir Dick Knowles, and the commitment and financial support of developers Argent Group. Long before the vogue for dividing city centres up into ‘quarters’, Birmingham created a brand-new business district, an entertainment zone and citycentre residential schemes, all with Broad Street at their heart. As Brindleyplace evolved, it became the first of a new generation of mixed-use schemes; ambitious in scale and innovative of concept; with massive chunks of gleaming Grade A office space towering above retail and leisure units, designed and landscaped to appeal to all-comers. Even though the location is now well-established, Brindleyplace remains a core element of Marketing Birmingham’s (MB) efforts to attract inward investment and will have a central place in the city’s presence at the world’s largest property exhibition MIPIM in 2014. “We’re pleased to have contributed to Brindleyplace’s success,” says Mike. “We don’t have massive funding, but our street wardens and taxi marshals help keep the night-time

environment safer, and the ‘deep cleaning’ we carry out certainly makes the streets look better. “We also spend something like £20,000 every year on flower baskets and floral displays, and I’ve been told that was a major reason Birmingham was the overall winner in the Heart of England in Bloom awards.” At the same time, massive investment from local entrepreneurs, alongside national and international brands has turned Broad St into a destination dedicated to hedonism in all its legal forms; from lively US-style sports bars to several of TripAdvisor’s top-rated Birmingham restaurants. The rermarkable growth of both the entertainment and business sectors has created a BID area with the size and economic strength of a small town, as Mike explains. “We have just over 300 member businesses, who employ around 15,000 people, from the newsagent down the road who’s been there for as long as I can remember, to Deutsche Bank, which I believe is now Birmingham’s largest private sector employer,” he says. “If you look at the ‘footfall’ figures, you realise just how busy this area is, seven days a week

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throughout the year. In 2011, we had more than 18.6 million people coming through the Broad Street-Five Ways area, and in 2012, the figure was up to 21.8 million. “I think the BID team has done remarkably well since it was established, not least as when you’re pioneering anything, you obviously can’t learn from previous experience, so you have to make some calculated and researched guesses about what to do. “However, one of our great strengths, right from the start, has been the professionalism and knowledge of our board which is full of hardnosed and successful people; from the business community, the leisure sector, the property market, the council and the police. “We put ideas forward, they bounce them around and add their own input. On the question of providing a rapid transit system to increase connectivity within the centre and to outlying areas, for example, we were calling for such a network to be established, long before it was being discussed by anyone else. “Our core guiding principles are to make the area cleaner, brighter and safer, but our discussions, our debates and the projects we deliver are extremely varied. Looking to 2014, we’ll be focusing on promoting the area for inward investment opportunities, and supporting the Westside initiative. “The new library is already attracting visitors in significant numbers, so working with the council and the REP theatre to make sure we all benefit as much as possible from its presence will be very important. “We’re also applying for a third term through a ballot in 2014, and we’ve got a new chairman Martin French, from Nat-West - so I’m sure he’ll have lots of ideas about what we should be doing. The only thing I can guarantee for the year ahead is that it won’t be dull.”

Broad Street BID, Quayside Tower, 252-260 Broad Street, B1 2HF broadstreetbirmingham.com

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in association with

Chasing the dragon The issue: Innovation in the aerospace sector – issues, challenges and opportunities in the light of Chinese expansion The evening’s debate ranged from how soon China might become a serious competitor in the aerospace industry, to how off-putting small business leaders find the bureaucracy of innovation funding. Despite its faults, most guests agreed that the Government’s so-called ‘Catapult’ centres – previously known as technology innovation centres – were crucial to Britain’s future aerospace success. But they warned that government, academia and industry must improve this jargon-filled process to reverse what had become a damaging ‘two class system’ of business engagement. Steve Dyson took notes on the comments. Dr Chris Moore explained how he’d listened to various major Midland aerospace manufacturers looking to expand into China. He said: “This is a huge market for their own growth, and there are some big commercial opportunities for them, [but] there’s also a corresponding threat for them holding on to their IP [intellectual property] and being able to protect it in the face of some pretty aggressive competition. The other threat is that there’s a massive emerging body of Chinese IP which lots of companies haven’t got to grips with,

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China becoming the biggest filers of IP in the world. “The supply chain, they’re looking for cheaper materials, and maybe seeking to offshore their production, which in itself brings threats to them. It’s difficult for those smaller companies in the supply chain to keep hold of their IP when they’re sourcing things from overseas, especially China. And how do they exploit their IP in the light of Chinese expansion, where China is playing catch-up in the aerospace industry, and could actually use some of the skills and technologies that some of the supply chain suppliers in this country could bring to the Chinese market?” Richard Halstead said successful companies in the UK were those who’ve managed “the differentiators around quality and delivery” which were “massive issues” in China. He said: “The interesting thing I see is maintaining that differential, because as China develops their own IP they will become stronger competitors and so their quality and delivery factor may reduce. “So for me, the issue we have is how do you make sure the SMEs in the aerospace supply

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Taking part Susan Davies, deputy regional director, Santander Corporate Banking Matt Dixon, partner and head of engineering, Harrison Goddard Foote LLP Richard Halstead, regional director, EEF Prof. Michael Loretto OBE, Emeritus Professor of Materials, University of Birmingham Andrew Mair, chief executive, Midlands Aerospace Alliance Dr Chris Moore, partner, Harrison Goddard Foote LLP Brian Norton, managing director, Indestructible Paint Co Peter Shearer, director, Business Partnership Unit, Aston University David Townsley, executive director, NDI, BE Group Ken Young, technology director, Manufacturing Technology Centre In the chair: Caroline Theobald, BQ Taking notes: Steve Dyson, editor BQ West Midlands Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham city centre. 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.

chain work with prime suppliers in developing the ‘design for manufacture’? Because I see a lot of prime manufacturers developing new technologies which they want to globalise, but the SMEs, the sub-contractors, just get given the designs to go and make the components. And unlike automotive, where it was all very integrated, and ‘design for manufacture’ was a buzz word ten years ago, I don’t see that happening in the aerospace industry.” The debate Michael Loretto said: “I’ve had a lot to do with China and I have some worries. I’ve just finished a multi-million pound programme funded by the EC [European Commission] and the Chinese government to improve the casting technology of titanium alloys. These are clearly going to be used to aerospace standard by China when they start making


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their own airframes. At the minute, their casting technology is golf clubs, they don’t matter if they break when you hit a ball or a bunker, but it matters if an aircraft breaks. “So we, in that programme, have transferred our expertise to China. All universities are setting up very big interaction with Chinese cities or industries... In addition, of the PhD students that I have supervised, probably in the last ten years 50, 60 or 70 have been Chinese, and many of these have gone to very senior positions eventually in China after they’ve spent time in companies like Rolls Royce. So it’s a very efficient way of transferring technology... “In the short term, universities are enjoying it because, as with the oldest trade in the world, the university will do anything for money, and we are getting huge fees from Chinese PhD students and undergraduates, but I’ll just put it on the table as an issue that SMEs and others ought to be worried about.” Ken Young said: “One of the biggest opportunities the aerospace industry has got is a massive order book, so their volumes are going to go up, and that gives them a huge opportunity to capture data about what they’re doing and really get to understand the

processes they use, so they can do the ‘design for manufacture’ that’s been talked about... “If they can design planes they can actually build, without having concessions all over the place, that would save them an awful lot. The increase in volume also gives them a great opportunity to invest, both in capital kit in terms of automation equipment, but also in people they use on the line... What are the threats from China? Well China’s trying to take over all the material supply. So there’s going to be a lot of materials you need to make these things that you’re not going to be able to get hold of. [And] IP leakage is a massive problem: when you start to make things in China, how do you stop them from learning how to do it and setting up and doing the same thing as well or even better?

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“We’ve heard about universities and Chinese students – look at how many students there are in this country doing Masters degrees in manufacturing. I used to work at Warwick [University]... 500 Masters students a year, 350 were Chinese. How many were British? You could count them on the fingers of one hand. That’s the difference in the way we’re training people. “We’re doing our little bit about it. We [the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry] had an £18m grant awarded yesterday [4 November] to build an academy which allows us to train apprentices, graduates, postgraduates all together – you can’t just have theoretical know-how, you’ve got to have the practical skills as well... “The other concern I’ve got for the >>

At the minute, their casting technology is golf clubs, they don’t matter if they break when you hit a ball or a bunker, but it matters if an aircraft breaks.

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industry, you’re all aware of the aerospace growth fund that’s out there, they’ve got all this money but aren’t being very forthcoming on how this money should be spent and what the real issues are. So there’s a danger we put a lot of money into all the wrong things that don’t help.” Matt Dixon said: “I’m a bit of a stuck record when it comes to IP. The challenge I see is the engagement of boards... fitting an IP strategy into a business strategy. Some businesses do it really well, but others don’t... The Chinese are now filing more patent applications than any other country. There’s a big push from the Chinese government to fund this, they’re recognising IP as important, developing into an innovation economy, and learning very fast how to use IP properly. “The challenge in British industry, aerospace included, is that we’re not complacent and look at how we learn to do this better. If we’re innovators – you talk about IP leakage – how do we stop that? That’s the challenge. The opportunity is to do that well, and really capitalise on the excellent innovation we have: then the world is our oyster.” David Townsley said: “Small businesses wanting to operate in the aerospace industry need to raise their game to become better businesses, particularly if they want to become world class players in what is a highly competitive market. What I mean by that is implementing things such as continuous improvement models, investing in R&D, but understanding where that investment needs to be targeted – from better collaboration with the primes and the tiers in the supply chain, to understand the issues not just in the short-term, but in the medium-term and long-term. “Also SMEs need to get better at attracting and retaining talent within their business, particularly skilled engineers, it’s about giving clear direction about career progression opportunities there are in a small business and tying them in through some incentives. The other thing to bear in mind – we’ve talked about the protection of IP – is throughout the whole supply chain the lack of information security protection, and being robust in your systems around cyber attacks. This is prevalent right from the top of the supply chain through to the SME subcontractor.”

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Small businesses wanting to operate in the aerospace industry need to raise their game to become better businesses, particularly if they want to become world class players in what is a highly competitive market Andrew Mair said: “The Chinese commercial aircraft industry is absolutely tiny. They make virtually no aircraft – a handful every year, of turboprops. It’s smaller than Switzerland, smaller than Sweden. We discovered fantastic things when we were out there, that they have these marvellous aerospace companies, but if you get the breakdown of their businesses they mostly make tractors. The military industry is different, but then we can’t talk about the military industry – or can we? – because we’re not supposed to do business with it, and yet a lot of the technology will leak across. “The IP point, an interesting one for all lawyers involved in IP and aerospace, is that here’s an industry which clearly isn’t very well organised, because although Rolls Royce has got lots of patents, the supply chain doesn’t. This point is about how the knowledge or the knowhow in our industry is managed, and intellectual property – let’s say with a small ‘i’ and ‘p’ – is not the same as Intellectual Property as in a patent, or something which is formally managed. “Because of the product life-cycles in the aerospace industry, one of the best ways you can ensure your competitor gets your ideas is to

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announce that you’ve got them; and publishing them – whoa! So there’s a lot of the knowledge in the industry in know-how. Our casting companies and metal-forming companies are still working in whichever century they’re in, and the best way they can protect their IP is simply never showing people how they do it. They don’t want to share their knowledge with anybody. “If you were Rolls Royce, your strategy towards this would be to say there are critical parts of the engine that we want to protect – what they call the ‘hot gas path’ – but they’re willing to share the other technologies with anybody who’ll buy their way in... And if you’re a Chinese company trying to make an aircraft, you might be able to do 90% of it, but the 10% you can’t do is the bit that stops you making an aircraft that will compete.” Mair then quoted Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace expert who works for Teal Group, who recently referred to Comac, the big Chinese aerospace company, and its aircraft, as being: “Like a lot of very sophisticated technologies flying in loose formation.” Mair added: “They can buy all the technologies, but they haven’t any idea on how to put them


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together, and the question is: will anybody teach them that? “There are some very interesting features that we need to think about if we are to understand how Chinese industry will develop. One of the things that came out of our analysis is that the Chinese competition will matter, but probably after I’m dead. What matters at the moment is to compete with real competitors we have on technology – and that’s Germany and the US. “It’s going to take a very long time for the Chinese to catch up, whereas the Germans we ought to be worrying about now. The German aerospace industry, now supposed to be the third biggest in Europe, [currently behind France and the UK], will be the biggest in ten years’ time. So it’s the Germans we should be worrying about more, and that’s back to the innovation agenda. If we compete with the Germans, then the Chinese won’t cause us any trouble at all...” Answering a question about companies moving factories to China, Mair said: “The Communist Party has probably finished raping and pillaging the peasants’ land now and there’s no more left, so they have no more money to invest in buying all the capital equipment to give our

companies free operations. It was never a case of low-cost production in China, it was they were able to provide all the capital, and now they don’t have any money left. There will be very little movement of work to China from the supply chain.” Loretto contested Mair’s earlier point about IP leakage to China. Loretto said that while companies like Rolls Royce might choose not to allow access to critical technology, in reality Chinese PhD students spent time with such companies learning such detail and were then tempted back to top positions in China. He said: “In 20 years they will have titanium technology sorted out, and will certainly have the hot parts of the jet engine sorted out, because they have the equivalent people going back from industry to China, and we cannot stop that.” Discussing how to involve SMEs in innovation, Brian Norton expressed his frustration at the bureaucracy involved, with various bodies called TSBs [technology strategy boards], KTNs [knowledge transfer networks] and Catapults [former technology innovation centres] – jargon that “simply confused” the average small company owner.

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Caroline Theobold clarified this point: “The companies are told to innovate, and the people who are supposed to be helping you innovate are making a very dense forest?” Norton agreed. She asked Halstead if that’s what his members also found, and he said: “At an SME level, yes. If you’re a university, engaging with a large, prime supplier is very easy. We’ve formed the Catapult centres to bridge the gap between academia, research and business, but they have to exist in their own right. “The easy funding is to go to Rolls Royce and the large companies. While the Catapults do put in SME engagement managers, you’re not going to get much money out of these guys. It doesn’t quite work, because the big money, the income, is going to come from the big guys. It’s a commercial world.” Mair agreed: “The large companies want supply chain companies to be more innovative, and yet not only their own procurement structures... but the whole innovation infrastructure, has been built for the large companies, not the small ones. We’re beginning to talk about the innovation infrastructure being part of a class system – there are two social classes. “There are people who did A-levels, went to university, have Masters degrees and work in large companies, and know how to manipulate all the acronyms that have just been talked about, and they understand the complexity of those systems. A lot of our family-owned, smaller companies, the person that owns them left school at 16. Why? Because they hated that world. “So it’s difficult for us sometimes to even hold events on university campuses – it’s like we wouldn’t hold them in the Ritz, would we? Because culturally there are barriers. We need to understand those barriers, these are the people with all this fantastic know-how [and] it’s a constant struggle... Back to how the Government’s spending is spent, there are questions on the degree to which we make the systems user-friendly.” Townsley discussed how proper innovation and R&D were expensive, long-term projects that “cost cash” – whereas most SMEs are more concerned with paying the bills “next week, the week after and paying their staff at the end of the month,” rather than the long-term >>

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strategies of the next 10 to 15 years. He said: “We need to work more collaboratively with the primes, and the next tier down the supply chain, so SMEs understand where they should be targeting that R&D. [But] when we talk about getting SMEs engaged with universities and the likes of the Catapults, I speak to our members and they look at me like an alien and say: ‘What are these Catapults and what are they there to do?’. One of the problems is reaching out to SMEs in industry and trying to articulate what it is that a Catapult can do to help them to innovate and develop new technology. “There’s no funding from a Catapult: it’s all about the knowledge, linking industry with knowledge institutions, and then finding a commercial project and using that information for development. The big issue is how we filter that down to an SME level to get them to use that to innovate and invest in R&D.” Halstead said: “I’m a ‘glass half full’ guy, so I like to take the optimistic side. We have Catapults here in the region, and they have SME engagement people; we have universities, they have business engagement people; we have networks within the region to help the people collaborate. So it’s all about harnessing, and what SMEs are good at is networking, and sitting round the table, to understand what’s the art of the possible. “Yes, Catapults are commercial ventures, they get a third of the funding from government, and a lot of the funding from running projects for the primaries. That’s right and you can’t argue against it. It’s how you connect the things together, and it’s about making connections. “Forget the 10 to 15 years. For SMEs, we’re talking about the next product that’s going to be delivered in six months time, and their R&D is the project after that which is 12 to 18 months’ time. The Catapult should bridge that gap. They’re still doing the 10 to 15 year stuff with the big guys, but let them encourage the SMEs to come into that process at the latter stage to do the ‘design for manufacture’. And how do we make this more cost effective? Because that’s how you compete against China.” Townsley replied: “I completely get that, and I think the Catapults are great, but it’s about getting people in to understand what a

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The ERDF is probably the best funding mechanism we’ve got for SME engagement, and it’s terrible. You get 50% of your costs if you can prove you incurred them, and the audit is terrible, so you’re lucky if you get anywhere near 50%, [and] you’ve got every chance you’ll get nothing Catapult can do for them. Let’s work out how we reach out to industry and do that.” Moore said: “That’s the same for universities as well – a huge amount of talent doing things which are infinitely applicable to the problems SMEs have day-to-day and reaching out and finding those bridges between them is a real challenge.” Halstead added: “I was sat at a meeting where we were talking about exactly that – with the universities, with a Catapult and a few SMEs, about how we can do that. Catapults have some funding, but the universities have a lot of funding – they’re crying out for business engagement. There’s actually lots of money around.” Peter Shearer talked about the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and how Aston University had gone from having no such projects to working with nine in just three-anda-half years. He said: “The deal is you get half the money back provided you achieve certain outputs – things like business assists with an SME. We are looking for small companies and our academics will work with them to introduce

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innovation, share knowledge, access to facilities. One of the obstacles is getting those messages out, because the people running small companies are busy, they get a lot of communications. It is getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.” Mair referred back to his ‘class system’ point from earlier, and said the right audience of SMEs needed to be spoken at the right level: “We need to speak to and interact with them in the position they’re currently at, as opposed to the position we think they should be at in the future.” Townsley said: “It is so fragmented where this money lies and the various organisations in which it sits. The owner of an SME doesn’t have the luxury of sitting down and doing that research, navigating their way through various websites, trying to understand criteria on all this innovation funding. That is fundamentally the issue and why a lot of businesses are not taking advantage and tapping into what’s out there in the marketplace.” Young said: “The ERDF is probably the best funding mechanism we’ve got for SME engagement, and it’s terrible. You get 50% of your costs if you can prove you incurred them, and the audit is terrible, so you’re lucky if you get anywhere near 50%, [and] you’ve got every chance you’ll get nothing. It’s not measured on the amount of value you’ve added. We really ought to get rid of the ERDF and put some serious money into getting Catapults and universities to go out there and help SMEs. You can achieve great things, but ERDF is not the way to do it... It’s a nightmare, it’s bureaucratic, it’s – I apologise for my language – it’s just bollocks. I want to go out there and help companies to move forward, I don’t want to fill in forms and make up stories...” Halstead interjected and said: “But your challenge is, you’re dealing with public money and you’re falling into public spending, public procurement rules.” Dixon said: “Why is this made so complicated? The aim is to have sources of funding for innovation for particular areas that get through to SME companies so they can do good things and engage with universities. That isn’t that complicated. Why has it been made so complicated?” Halstead replied that it was “fragmented” because so many people were approaching government


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asking for money for their visions, and there has to be a structure for processing multiple applications. But the Government was doing this with a weak industrial strategy and sometimes clashing policies, which only led to even more fragmentation and complexity. Dixon picked this up, and said: “That becomes the problem. There’s all this mass of stuff there and it’s just too hard when you’ve got a business to run. I think your ‘two class system’ is really important [indicating to Mair] because it’s a bit highfalutin as well. I’m a product of the university system and lots of clever stuff, and I can’t make head nor tail of half the funding stuff without thinking: ‘I’ve got to put a cold towel on my head and work out what’s going on.’” Mair concurred: “I talk about it as a Mars and Venus thing – it’s different planets, private sector language, public sector language.” There was much more discussion of this difference between government, academia and different types of business – referred to again as a ‘two class’ system – and how this had created huge challenges for innovations in the aerospace industry, especially with China’s expansion looming in the background. The description of the ‘Valley of Death’ was discussed in this context, and Loretto picked this up to lament the changing nature of British industrial research in the last 30 years. He said: “Universities are pretending to do the research that [people like] IMI used to do, and we don’t do it properly. It’s a complete shambles. We’ve lost the research capacity in industry. Rolls Royce’s research effort is zero compared to what it was 30 years ago. Universities are trying to do it and we’re not good at it. “We’re good at doing airy-fairy things for the hell of it. I didn’t need any government funding, I could do what the hell I wanted and enjoy myself 40 years ago. Now we have to do industrially irrelevant crap. It’s a complete disaster as a funding model for industrially relevant research. We have a big problem. England’s screwed it up.” Eventually, talking about a way forward for innovation and how to help fund SMEs’ part in this, Young said: “The Catapults are set up to fill that gap and that’s got to be the answer.” Townsley agreed: “Because it does bridge that gap – you’ve got business, commercial business, academia coming together to sort

the solution out.” Young went on: “The theory is impeccable, it’s when you try to make it happen that you realise how complicated that is.” He said the universities and the Catapult centres would tussle over IP issues, and that then industry might not even recognise the opportunities. But Young said it was still the way forward: “We’ve just got to work at it and get better at it – the universities, the Catapults and industry. Rolls Royce are the best at using the Catapult centres – a lot of other companies, even big players, have got to sharpen up quicker.” Concluding the evening, Dixon said: “The most

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important thing I’ve heard is this idea about business classes – I wrote down innovation ‘underclass’... Engagement with that group is going to be key, and that was something that I haven’t really heard discussed before tonight, and that was great. And I’d like to thank everybody for a very, very interesting and useful discussion.” n The debate was held in a private dining room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Holliday Street, Birmingham, with the support of Harrison Goddard Foote LLP. It was chaired by Caroline Theobald, managing director, Bridge Club Ltd.

Meeting the innovation challenge for smaller companies The aerospace sector is a thriving part of the UK industrial landscape. The Midlands, in particular forms a crucial component of that sector and is well represented nationally and internationally with prime suppliers, tier 1s and other essential supply chain businesses. Several major aircraft manufacturers have recently announced boundary-pushing aircraft platforms which will likely require innovation investment along the entire supply chain from materials suppliers to component manufacturers and up to tier 1 suppliers to ensure that the new programmes are delivered. In this ever more cost sensitive arena, businesses within the aerospace supply chain will need to innovate to remain competitive as well as to deliver the new proposed platforms. In this sense innovation relates to the way in which business is conducted as well as to new product offerings or processes which seek to generate performance and/or financial benefits. Whilst larger businesses are able to look after their innovation investment agendas, smaller companies, who may provide a large proportion of the aerospace supply chain, are often crucially under resourced both in terms of management time and the knowledge and skills to implement and deliver the necessary innovation. As things move forward, the UK supply chain may well come up against increased competition from far Eastern businesses or, indeed, from European competitors. European businesses, and latterly Asian businesses, have shown themselves to be more adept at exploiting and using the IP system to generate competitive advantage. There is a real sense that without some intervention across key elements of the supply chain UK aerospace businesses may be left behind. Whilst it is true that there is a degree of help available for small and medium sized businesses in the UK to promote innovation, the gateways are often crowded and access is inhibited by the fragmentary nature of the help available and the lack of consistent language to access it. In those circumstances, being able to define and deliver a robust innovation strategy can help save significant management time and resources whilst ensuring that the business can get on with driving forward their commercial aspirations. Harrison Goddard Foote (www.hgf.com) is well placed to help companies across the aerospace sector to maximise return from their intellectual assets. We have a track record of providing bespoke strategic advice tailored to sector-specific requirements. In the aerospace sector we advise aircraft manufacturers, component suppliers and materials companies at each stage to maximise return on investment.

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INTERVIEW

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Banking on relationships Understanding where companies want to be and not just where they’ve come from is the starting point for business banking, according to Leon Marklew of Santander. Steve Dyson fires the questions to find out more What did you want to be when you were a kid? And what first made you go into banking? A marine biologist. I realised subsequently that I didn’t really like biology so that put an end to that! I went into banking because I was really impressed by two recruiters from Midland Bank who seemed to love what they were doing, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I thought I would give the training programme a try. I have been captivated ever since. Who’s your business idol? I have a mentor and business friend who runs very successful management and leadership training businesses. His name is Brian Broadbent and his new company is MH People. I first met him 12 years ago and have been privileged to watch him in action and learn from him on lots of occasions since. He has helped me personally and worked with teams I have had responsibility for, helping them grow both personally and professionally. What I like most about him is that he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. A true role model. How much were the big banks to blame for the recent recession? A lot has happened since 2008, and most businesses, including the banks, now have a firm focus on the future and how we can all

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contribute to the development of economic value in the region. For my part, Santander Corporate & Commercial developed following the takeover of Alliance & Leicester by Santander in 2008, providing the bank with a wonderful opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the SME market. We are not the only one – as in all recessions, new entrants come in to markets and start to make life a little bit more difficult for incumbents. The banking industry is no different and the likes of Santander, Handelsbanken and Aldermore are finding their respective niches, and challenging the status quo of the traditional SME banks. What’s improved in banking – and what’s still needed to make it even better? Customer service has improved although, arguably, this is probably only in the eye of the beholder, as we all have a very personal view of customer service. The focus on service in the banking industry is intense, particularly at Santander which has worked hard to improve its reputation in this area. As an industry, we have come a long way and, every day, we continue to strive for improvements. Competition has improved which must be good for SMEs as improved competition leads to more choice. SMEs are no longer tied to the main high street banks and many of them have exercised their choice to strike up a

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relationship with an alternative provider. What about Santander – how has this bank assisted business and industry in recent years? Santander’s aim is to be the ‘SME bank of choice’, and to achieve this you have to be different. Our focus is on the relationship we have with our clients. We believe that only by getting to fully know our customers’ businesses are we able to tailor the best solutions to meet their needs. This approach has seen our lending to British businesses increase by an average of 20% per annum for the past four years. We want to do more though, and provide our customers with support they are not able to get elsewhere. That’s why last year we established our innovative and revolutionary ‘Breakthrough Programme’, aimed at fastgrowing businesses. This offers mezzanine finance [editor’s note: a mix of debt and equity financing] to SMEs looking to invest in and grow their businesses. But we know it’s not just finance that growing businesses need support with, so we offer ‘masterclasses’ with some the UKs most iconic businesses to show how they have achieved their success. We also run trade missions to help companies explore new overseas markets. And we run an internship programme, which places graduates into three-month >>


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INTERVIEW

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INTERVIEW

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work placements with SMEs, which enables businesses to access cutting-edge thinking from the UK’s graduate population. What about the international aspect, and the fact that Santander is Spanishowned – has this impeded the bank’s UK operations? Santander UK is a fully autonomous subsidiary of its Spanish parent. It is separately regulated by the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, has its own balance sheet, and undertakes its own fundraising. It is one of the strongest of the UK banks with a Tier 1 capital ratio of 11.4%. Indeed, Santander has been the only major and successful challenger in SME banking to the incumbent four high street banks in the UK in recent decades. With signs that the economy is improving, what’s Santander offering to businesses for the future? The important thing with Santander is that you get the right solution for your business – whatever the economy is doing. In the West Midlands, the economy does appear to be bouncing back, led by a resurgent manufacturing sector, and we are active in seeking to support local businesses in driving up turnover both at home and overseas. Businesses with sales over £250,000pa receive their own relationship director based in one of our offices in Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton or Worcester, each of them supported by a team of people to deliver a first-class service to our customers. We are committed to spending time to getting to know our customers so that we truly understand their needs and, of course, deliver against them. We do what we say we will do, every time. What does the Government need to focus on to help banks help industry? And what about firms themselves – what can they do to ease their access to finance? In my view, the Government provides a lot of financial support for businesses, but businesses do not necessarily know how to access it. If I am honest, I work in financial services and I often find it difficult to keep up with what is on offer to help a business. What we need is a

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Leon Marklew Born and brought up: 9 May 1966, Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire. Education: Havelock Comprehensive School and Sheffield University (Geography). Career details: Midland Bank, HSBC and Santander. Current job: Regional director, West Midlands, Santander Corporate & Commercial. Where do you live? Milton Keynes. Family: Two adult children, both in education. Car: BMW 6 Series. Dream car: Aston Martin DB9! Favourite holiday destination: United States. Hobbies: Fly-fishing, exercise, football.

really clear signposting mechanism along with a streamlined application process to ensure the money gets to those that really need it, and in a timely and effective manner. Can you detail two or three good examples of Santander’s funding successes? The team at Santander work hard to understand where businesses want to be and not just where they have come from, and it is all about broadening and deepening relationships. A great example of this is

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Engineering Technology Group, the machine tools distributor and manufacturer based in Warwickshire. They contacted my colleague, Sally Beavan, following a previous contact with her at a former employer. They were looking to refinance their working capital and also for funding to support a management buyout. We delivered a bespoke package to John Temple and his team including a term loan, invoice discounting, overdraft and a commercial mortgage to provide adequate working capital and headroom, which enabled the business to be driven forward. The key thing for the customer was due to the fact we based our decision on the business’ potential, and we were able to provide funding for the deal without John and his team having to release equity to an external shareholder. The funding also enabled the company to acquire the UK business of machine tools giant, Hardinge Inc, in what has been hailed as a landmark case in the machine tools industry. Another example of our relationship banking in action is our partnership with the Solihullbased veterinary practice, YourVets. The business had been growing organically over several years, but began to find it difficult to generate enough money to maintain their rapid expansion. The company explored several alternate sources of funding, but were reluctant to surrender equity. The Santander relationship director took the time to understand the mechanics of the business and the issues that were inhibiting growth. Santander provided YourVets with a tailored solution based on a deep understanding of the company’s needs, as well as enrolling the company in their ‘Breakthrough’ programme. Since receiving funding, YourVets enjoys greater certainty in planning for the future: the company has already expanded by around 25% and as part of the bank’s ‘Breakthrough’ programme is geared for further aggressive growth. Why should businesses choose Santander? Because our focus is on relationships. Getting to know a business inside out is key to our decision-making process. Only by fully understanding a business can we tailor solutions to meet its needs. n


PLAYING MUSIC? MAKE SURE YOU’RE LICENSED.

Music creates a better working atmosphere 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better working environment.* If you play music in your business, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. In most instances, a licence is required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL and PRS for Music are two separate companies. PPL collects and distributes money for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects

and distributes money for the use of the musical composition and lyrics on behalf of authors, songwriters, composers and publishers. A PPL licence can cost your business as little as 19p per day. For more information on how to obtain your PPL licence visit ppluk.com or call 020 7534 1070. To find out more about how music can work for your business visit musicworksforyou.com. *MusicWorks survey of 1000 people, conducted May 2012.

ppluk.com


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gaining strength through diversity

Childhood trauma and half Indian, half Irish-Catholic roots all helped make Neil Rami a determined career man. Steve Dyson takes Marketing Birmingham’s chief executive to lunch

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It was London in 1972, and Neil Rami was only five-years-old when his father suddenly died from a brain haemorrhage. The result was lifechanging for him, his two younger brothers and their mum, Eileen. “Mum was from Swatragh, a little village in Northern Ireland,” explains Rami. “She’d moved to London as a nurse in the 1960s and met my father, Mahendra Rami, known as ‘Ronnie’. “He was the oldest in his family and hugely ambitious – the first to leave Gujarat, the first to leave India, becoming a quantity surveyor and launching a successful commercial property development business in London. “When he died [at 38], my mum [then 32] was very much by herself. She had little choice but to move to Ballymena, back near family, and returned to nursing, becoming a senior sister. It was challenging and she had to work hard. It took time for us to settle in – we were Catholics with Indian blood, and there weren’t many Catholics and Indians in Ballymena, predominantly a Protestant town. “Diversity was the way we were brought up; it certainly taught us all about tolerance and acceptability. And yet it was a great place, fairly quiet despite the troubles, although we knew what was going on around us, and were quickly exposed to the tensions. Things like getting stopped in the street by the army – we just got conditioned to it. It was only when I left that I realised how tough that had been.” This background made Rami “pretty mature very early on in life”, and gave him “a relatively tough skin”. “It makes you very aware of what’s going on around you. You use that maturity in your younger years, making you much more sensitive to what’s happening in the world.” Rami left Northern Ireland in the late 1980s to study for a BA in Business Studies and Marketing at Manchester Polytechnic, now Manchester Metropolitan University, where he also gained a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma. He found a job in

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industrial marketing at ICI, moved to a small development agency owned by ICI in Cheshire, and followed the agency’s chief executive to join The Mersey Partnership, the official tourist board for the Liverpool city region. Fast promotion followed, and within five years Rami was deputy chief executive. “I cut my teeth in Liverpool, a challenging political environment, with a huge private-public sector clash. But I built profitable relationships across the city.” He was headhunted in 2000 to become chief executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative at 32 – then the youngest leader in the ‘city

destination management’ sector. It was a strange moment, because on Merseyside he’d helped persuade Liverpool to make “quite a bullish bid” for European Capital of Culture but then, in the North-East, was part of Newcastle’s counter bid. Liverpool won, but Rami still found himself part of a massive regeneration programme: Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North had been completed in 1998; the £22m Gateshead Millennium Bridge opened in 2001; then the £50m Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in 2002; and the £70m Sage Gateshead music and conference venue in 2004. “It was really creative, a hugely exciting period that helped drive the local economy – new, big, bold and brave, but still small compared

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to Birmingham.” Rami became head of the much bigger Marketing Birmingham in 2005, and found the early years challenging. He faced the drag of a public sector organisation disliking change; then he endured a “sticky” period – a tactful way of describing life with Mike Whitby, Birmingham City Council’s eccentric Conservative leader from 2004-12. The council is Marketing Birmingham’s main funder and Whitby’s input was sometimes – my words – obstinate and unhelpful. “I arrived just as the new political coalition was taking shape,” says Rami. “I knew a lot about the economy, had done my homework, but you don’t know the politics until you’re there.” While Marketing Birmingham is apolitical, he quickly became very aware of the political environment. He invited both Whitby and Sir Albert Bore, the then opposition leader, onto Marketing Birmingham’s board, which meant Bore knew as much as Whitby – not a bad plan, given that Bore is now Labour’s leader of the council. “The biggest shock was the enormous city – I’d not realised quite how diverse it was. And the size of council and public bodies – the scale of challenge was very evident. I’d inherited an organisation that needed a lot of work, not performing as it should. It took longer than I’d have liked.” But Rami did modernise Marketing Birmingham, increasing its budgets – and responsibilities – despite the recession and growing public sector austerity. As the city’s strategic marketing partnership, it runs the leisure and tourism programmes: Meet Birmingham and Visit Birmingham. In the last few years it’s also operated Business Birmingham, the inward investment programme for the city and some surrounding areas. He’s proud of their achievements: “Meet Birmingham helped the city win 14 new events in the past year, attracting 27,000 ‘bednights’ and an estimated income of £11m. Visit >>

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BUSINESS LUNCH Birmingham has helped grow the city’s visitor numbers to an all-time high of 33.8 million a year, contributing £5.1bn to the local economy – up 11% since 2006. In 2012, the visitor economy supported 60,000-plus local jobs – 1,300 newly created. “Business Birmingham secured a 52% increase in foreign direct investments in 2012/13, attracting 41 projects – more than ever before. This created and safeguarded more than 4,000 jobs, with an annual impact of £174 million; 50% of this overseas pipeline is from the US, India and China – a direct result of a strategy to target these markets.” Some critics say the claims are over-egged, but Rami insists: “We use nationally accredited processes used by the UKTI. We’re also more transparent and open than other cities, listing projects and companies, not just lump numbers, so I’m very confident in these figures. “It’s legitimate for any strategic marketing agency to take some credit for all investment, even if they’re not directly involved. But we only claim the jobs we’ve created. I’d like to think we’ve helped greater Birmingham and the wider West Midlands as well.” What about regional jealousies from smaller cities, towns and business organisations around Birmingham? “There will always be regional jealousies,” quips Rami. “I experienced plenty in Liverpool and Newcastle. Other places don’t want to be ‘subsumed’ by Birmingham, but they need to consider the importance of ‘gateway marketing’. “We’re a strategic marketing agency, and that means we’re not competing with other councils, business organisations or other communities of interest. “In China recently, I spent as much time talking about the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and Ironbridge in Shropshire as I did about Jaguar Land Rover. People shouldn’t be scared about losing identity. Instead, a critical mass can benefit everybody when we’re competing with 600 cities.” Some say Marketing Birmingham doesn’t reflect enough of the city’s history, and that public art is not encouraged. Rami nearly chokes: “I’m very committed to commissioning more public art... look at the Gateshead experience for goodness sake! And as for history and heritage, that’s more and more

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relevant in the world today where foreign companies are looking for the roots of an economy, so I don’t accept that criticism directly. We don’t have an image problem internationally. But we have an image challenge in London. One: people’s physical perception of what it used to look like. And two: how we operate in terms of what we want to be known for. That doesn’t seem to happen in other cities.” Are the Marketing Birmingham, Business Birmingham, Meet Birmingham and Visit Birmingham brands confusing? “Maybe locally we need to explain it more, [but] we’re an international marketing agency, and these programmes are very targeted because that’s what the markets demand. They stand for different things. So no, brand confusion is not something that concerns me.” But some SMEs either don’t know Business Birmingham, or feel it’s done little for them. Rami gets tough: “70% of all inward investment comes from existing companies, and it’s important that we grow their business. We’ve not done enough of that in the past. Our success is about being focussed, using resources as effectively as we can. We’re not brave enough saying ‘this is what we’ve achieved’.” An example is Jaguar Land Rover, a success

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story Rami says should drive confidence – not something people should feel overshadowed by. But as for SMEs: “We don’t pretend to be all things to all people. We’re not an equivalent of the old Business Link. Others are better placed to do that. Our activity is focussed outside the area, and on firms with large footprints. We can’t reach everybody with modest resource.” Marketing Birmingham’s total resource was £9m in 2012/13: around £4m from the city council, £1.7m from commercial support, the rest from other councils, Birmingham Airport and Europe. “We raise more money commercially than any other such organisation,” says Rami. Of that £9m budget, £2.4m pays for 60 staff – a big change from 2004-5, when it was a £3.1m budget, £1.7m paying for 78 staff. Has Marketing Birmingham’s average wage bill nearly doubled? Rami explains some of this reflects changing proportions of senior levels, but concedes: “Yes, we spend more on staff. We have better people, the right people. More importantly, look at the proportion of the bigger budget we now use on sales and marketing – more activity.” Some critics say there aren’t enough locals in his organisation, but Rami retorts: “There are more people from Birmingham than critics think. Anyway, it’s much better to reflect not


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just Birmingham but the markets we operate in. We’re stronger if we’ve got people who know and understand those markets.” What about the future? “Birmingham has huge opportunities like Eastside and the M42 corridor, great urban opportunities, developing more employment land. And there’s a hell of a lot of international interest in investing in the infrastructure of this city. We’re now more strategic – for example, the economic zones we’ve pushed have helped shape the council’s thinking. “It remains one of the most exciting cities in the UK. Things have moved on so much, it’s still a very fresh challenge. It’s an adaptable, open, welcoming place. It does not get monotonous. And we’re much clearer where Birmingham is – genuinely competitive, and cleverer about people likely to make that happen. “We’ve corralled the private sector to help the public sector. Those companies have the experts, such as in the professional sector, to help find the investment. For me that’s the greatest success. It’s not perfectly oiled, but we know what the opportunities are, and we’re beginning to convert those into successes.” Any regrets? “It took too long to get to a point where we’re handling the quality of the economy. I wish we’d launched Business Birmingham earlier. But we’ve now got a wider strategy and I’m really quite excited about this proposition developing.” Rami speaks carefully, but it’s obvious that he sees a natural progression to promote greater Birmingham and the West Midlands. Already, Business Birmingham has handled inward investment for Solihull and the Black Country, and the next step could be much bigger, regional responsibility. Aged 46, Rami has established roots in Birmingham. He’s married to Katie Raines, who he met in Liverpool, and she co-owns local marketing consultancy, Indigo Ltd. They live in Moseley, Birmingham, with their two children – Finn, six, and Conor, four. But is it enough to

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keep him in the city? Earlier, Rami had linked his career to his background: “My father was a property developer, my mother a nurse. I came from that partnership and took the role of developing cities and trying to improve the economic fortunes of people.” Now he adds: “I’m still ambitious, like my father was, and that can’t fail to shape you. I’m very committed to Birmingham, which

has become the family home. The role I’ve currently got I can see growing. A broader geography, a bigger difference. [But] One wants to use one’s skills to do the best job possible. When not, it’s time to do something else. I’m not getting comfortable.” He won’t say more but, reading between the lines, Rami’s staying if his organisation, job and responsibilities grow – but he might not hang around if that doesn’t happen. n

A warm recommendation The Opus dining area is spacious, enhanced by tall ceilings and natural light from the front wall of glass. It’s ideal for a business lunch – all the privacy you need, but with a buzz from other diners. Neil Rami chose from the ‘market menu’ and had warm salmon cake, with spring onion and dill, and lemon mayonnaise to start. “Light and well flavoured” was his verdict. For mains, he was attracted by ‘Brixham market fish of the day’ (it was gurnard), served with fennel, steamed potatoes and autumn greens. “Perfectly cooked,” said Rami, “and just right for a working lunch.” The £15.50 price for these two courses was certainly a good one. I went à la carte and had slow-braised ox cheek, served with swede puree and fondant, in a red wine sauce (£7.50). This was fall-apart meat in a deliciously mature sauce – improved by me pacing myself while I took notes. For mains, I had Cornish monkfish with roasted autumn vegetables, butternut squash fondant and rosemary butter (£17.50). Again, I tackled this in sporadic bites, but the meaty fish retained its heat and taste well. Last words to Rami: “Opus provides a great meal and excellent service. It’s one of the restaurants we recommend to visitors and journalists coming to the city.” Opus, 54 Cornwall St, Birmingham, West Midlands B3 2DE, www.opusrestaurant.co.uk. Call: 0121 200 2323 email: restaurant@opusrestaurant.co.uk Twitter: @OpusCornwallSt

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

WINTER 13

What’s the worst that can happen? As economic uncertainty over recent years has prevented many businesses from updating their IT systems, TSG’s regional director for the Midlands Mark Jenner is concerned that this cautious approach may actually be increasing the risk of costly downtime. In this article, he asks the question ‘what if…?’. Approaches to business continuity and disaster recovery have changed in the last two decades and Jenner points out that whilst technology itself is sometimes partly to blame for increasing levels of risk, it certainly needs to be part of any effective solution. So, what if….? ….the area was hit by a hurricane? The building burnt to the ground? A JCB cut through the telephone lines? The third is more likely than the first two, but even then the probability is reasonably low. Rewind 20 years – or as we sometimes refer to it 3BG (before Google) – and these three scenarios represented the main concerns that would dominate the disaster recovery planning of most businesses. Or at least those that worried about disaster recovery. That was in the days when paperwork meant exactly that and flood or fire could literally wipe out decades worth of documents. Whilst many businesses still retain hard copies of critical documents, digital formats now dominate. And it’s not just about data, for the vast majority business processes are dictated by, and reliant on technology, to at least some degree. It might just be time to change your perspective from disaster recovery and focus on risk management and business continuity. So what are the new ‘what ifs’? What if the back-up routine fails? Or you lose connectivity and as a result email comes to a halt, online transactions aren’t possible and you can’t access vital data that’s sitting in the cloud. If fire and water were the main threats of the past, malware and loss of connectivity could be considered their modern-day equivalents. But

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Mark Jenner, Midlands regional director, TSG.

Why real time? This particular customer operates a call centre environment with a high volume of calls and all driven by information that is captured and retrieved on a live system with a couple of very significant differences. Firstly, these two threats are almost ever-present. And secondly, it’s within our power to put in place robust measures to minimise the impact

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or even reduce the likelihood to as close to zero as possible. Without dwelling too long on IT security – a subject which could take up several articles on its own – a UTM, or unified threat management, solution is certainly recommended. It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re still running the Windows XP operating system on any of your PCs then you need to upgrade before Microsoft ‘end of life’ this product in April 2013. The security implications of not doing so could hit your business hard, so be warned. As far as connectivity is concerned, it’s about understanding your requirements and ensuring that you’re in control of your suppliers. Sadly, that’s possibly not quite as simple as it sounds. How much bandwidth do you really need? If you’re running cloud-based applications then the answer is probably more than you think. In fact, the cost of additional connectivity could outweigh any saving touted by those who are pushing cloud, or hosted solutions. Your options are becoming increasingly varied – along with all the usual confusing acronyms like ADSL, EFM, FTTC, MPLS and so on – and connectivity is now inextricably linked with telecoms. With that comes fragmented supply chains, tariffs that are deliberately designed to make like-forlike comparison almost impossible and, dare we suggest, questionable levels of customer service. Who do you call when there’s no dial tone or the connection goes down? And what should you expect as far as satisfactory resolution is concerned?


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Many of our customers are becoming increasingly aware of the cost to their business of both loss of connectivity and data loss. As a result, they have built a sophisticated understanding of the impact and the need for highly robust and resilient solutions. This is something that TSG’s national technical director, Paul Burns is dealing with on an increasingly regular basis, “Over the last decade, the back-up routine has become a standard level of protection against data loss. Some have an automated routine but in many instances it’s reliant on people to remove the tapes to an off-site location. “Assuming that everything works smoothly – TSG provide and monitor back-up routines for hundreds of our customers – then, if required, systems or data can be restored typically in a day or so. Obviously, if all of the business’s hardware is burnt to a crisp then that’s a somewhat bigger issue!” The issue here is all about RPO. Apologies again for the acronym but they’re an occupational hazard in the IT industry. RPO is ‘recovery point objective’. And it sits

COMPANY VIEWPOINT

alongside RTO – or ‘recovery time objective’ – as one of two key factors in determining the most appropriate and cost-effective technology solution to ensure business continuity. As Paul Burns explains, “Looking at RPO, if traditional back-ups are anything to go by, most businesses can afford to lose a day’s worth of work. How many invoices would need to be recreated? How many emails would be lost? Would you risk losing critical information relating to customer orders? “However, if TSG customers are representative of SMEs in general, then an increasing number are re-evaluating what constitutes an acceptable recovery point – and the change can have major implications as far as technology is concerned.” As you might imagine, RTO, or recovery time objective, relates to the length of time it takes to be fully operational in the event of an incident. To complicate matters further, some data and some processes – and by association the applications that underpin them – may be more critical than others, so determining what is mission critical will have an impact on how we assess RPO and RTO.

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It’s all about an engaged conversation, expert guidance and cost vs. impact analysis. The result, in a number of cases, is that we’re now moving away from traditional back-up to replication and high availability solutions, all made far easier with virtualisation, huge amounts of bandwidth and other advances in technology. Burns recalls one specific example, “We’re also looking at shorter recovery point and time objectives; a matter of hours for some and for the most recent solution we’ve built, real time. “Why real time? This particular customer operates a call centre environment with a high volume of calls and all driven by information that is captured and retrieved on a live system. The implication of even the briefest ‘outage’ is very definitely a disaster and the costs involved are both unthinkable and unacceptable. “The solution is built around a full hardware replication across two sites, complete redundancy and two 1 gigabyte leased line links, sourced through two separate suppliers. Crucially, the leased lines are entirely separate from the business’s other connectivity requirements in order that traffic levels never compromise the integrity of these dedicated connections.” It’s certainly an extreme example and most businesses won’t need to invest to the same level but the principles are certainly worth applying. Sadly, there are plenty of scaremongering stats out there on the level and likelihood of failure amongst those who have experienced some sort of ‘disaster’. However, we’re not convinced about their validity and the key is essentially all about ‘controlling what’s controllable’ and taking the appropriate preventative steps. For those who have experienced a near miss, it’s probably a case of adopting a ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ approach For those who’ve haven’t? Ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen’!

For more imformation please call 0845 111 1888 or visit www.tsg.com

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success story

SIXTY SIX AND NOT OUT The once renowned cricketer and international badminton coach Maurice Robinson died in 1994. But the eponymous sports shop he opened in 1948 is still going strong in the hands of Wendy Bill, his daughter. Ros Dodd reports Sixty six years ago, international badminton personalities Maurice and Cicely Robinson opened a sports shop in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Today, Maurice Robinson Sports is still there, now specialising in racquets and swimwear. It is the only retailer of its kind in the Midlands and one of the oldest independent sports shops in the UK. It remains a family business: Wendy Bill, Maurice and Cicely’s daughter, has worked there for 40 years and now manages it, carrying on her father’s legacy. Shops and businesses have come and gone in York Road – part of the Kings Heath Birmingham Improvement District (BID) – but Maurice Robinson Sports has not only survived, it has expanded into adjoining premises either side of the original retail outlet and now attracts customers from all over Britain and abroad. “The shop has gone from being a general sports shop, where we sold everything sportsrelated, including fishing tackle, to being much more of a specialist shop,” explains Bill, herself a former county tennis player. “With every product, there’s so much more choice these days. For example, we used to sell half a dozen badminton racquets; now we sell 150. It’s the same with tennis racquets: if there were 25 on sale before, now there are about 250.”

• enhancing • connecting • developing

The shop also runs a racquet-stringing service. “We do a lot of stringing for international badminton players, and professional tennis player Dan Evans, who is ranked number six in Britain, is also a customer.” Not many of today’s customers will remember Maurice Robinson, and few will know anything of his glittering sporting career. Maurice was born in Northern Ireland and came to Birmingham just before the start of World War Two as an apprentice professional cricketer with Warwickshire. “He also played badminton,” recalls Bill, “and just round the corner from Edgbaston, at St Ambrose Church Hall, was a badminton court and it was here he met my mother, who was a very good badminton player and played for England in 1953.” When war broke out, Maurice joined the RAF and was made a Sergeant Major, training troops first in Weston-super-Mare and then in India. While stationed in Hyderabad, he was summoned by the Nizam of Hyderabad to coach his daughters in badminton. When he returned to Britain in 1946, Maurice was stationed in St Athan, South Wales and Glamorgan asked if he would play cricket for them while he was there. An all-rounder, Maurice won his county cap in

his debut season with Glamorgan; in 1949 he scored a career-best 190 against Hampshire at Bournemouth while sharing what still stands as a club record fifth-wicket partnership of 264 with Stan Montgomery. Bill adds: “He loved playing for Glamorgan and continued to do so for a while even after he was demobbed and returned to Birmingham, where he also played for Warwickshire until 1952.” Maurice and Cicely – she’s still alive aged 96 and is Britain’s oldest surviving international badminton player – opened the sports shop in November 1948. “It was quite ‘the thing’ in those days for sportsmen to open shops and he’d worked for a while in a sports shop in Cardiff,” says Bill. “My mother, who was previously a company secretary, ran it with him.” Cicely was often left in charge of the shop, as Maurice concentrated more and more on badminton coaching, travelling the world to train some of the it’s top players. “He was a world-renowned coach and became national coach for both Holland and Germany. He went to the 1972 Munich Olympics with the Dutch badminton team and witnessed the kidnapping of 11 members of the Israeli team, who were eventually killed.” Maurice also did a three-month coaching >>

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SUCCESS STORY

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tour of New Zealand, during which he visited every badminton club in the country. “University sport was also a big part of his life,” says Bill. “He was the president of the British Universities’ Badminton Association, which at one time held the largest tournament in the UK.” Cicely, meanwhile, was also an accomplished tennis player, once winning the Easter Tournament at Tally Ho in Birmingham. Wendy Bill has followed in her mother’s footsteps, playing county tennis for 25 years and being part of Edgbaston Priory’s and Barnt Green’s first team for almost as long. It is through her contacts, and those of the shop’s racquets manager, Andy Hartley, who is one of only two Yonex ‘super coaches’ in the country, that the reputation of Maurice Robinson Sports has spread far and wide in the years since its founder died. “We have a great network of coaches linked to the shop, which helps people know about us,” says Bill. “What we offer that other sports shops may not is specialist advice such as what type of racquet to use. We quite often have people come in who bought a racquet on the internet but found it wasn’t suitable for them.” It is this personal service and expert advice that has kept the shop, which employs six staff, ahead of the game, despite the inexorable rise of internet shopping. “One of the things we’re looking to do in the near future is to have a new website, as it’s important to be web-faced these days,” explains Bill. “But I would never want to be just an internet retailer, because I like meeting people and discussing their needs face-to-face.” That is not to say that the shop hasn’t been through some tough times. As well as having to weather several recessions, increased overheads and a squeezing of profit margins due to internet shopping, a fire that gutted next-door Cash Converters store last March caused extensive damage to the shop’s stock. “The fire was awful,” remembers Bill. “The road was closed for three days and the smoke

• enhancing • connecting • developing

SUCCESS STORY

Kings Heath going from strength to strength The Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath has long been home to a bustling, diverse community of independent retailers and businesses. Today, thanks to its Business Improvement District (BID) status, it is thriving as never before. Nearly half (47%) of businesses in Kings Heath describe themselves as independents. These 140 outlets include shops selling a wide range of goods, from vintage clothing to garden plants; restaurants, pubs and cafes, estate agents, hair and beauty salons, financial and community services. Just 7% of commercial premises are vacant – considerably lower than the 12% national average. In the past year, more than 15 independent businesses have taken on new premises in the area. In York Road, just off the High Street, every business is an independent. Maurice Robinson Sports, which opened in 1948, is thought to be the longest-standing independent shop, although the 1904-built Hare and Hounds pub – where UB40 played their first gig, in 1979 – classes itself as an independent. Kings Heath BID is administered by the Kings Heath Centre Partnership (KHCP). Town centre manager Kate Smart says: “Kings Heath is not only an up and coming area. It has been doing its own thing and doing it remarkably well for decades, as is evident from the longevity of businesses like Maurice Robinson Sports and the unrivalled and enviable success of our retail offering and low percentage of vacant premises. “My job is to ensure that the businesses, residents and visitors get the most out of Kings Heath, and we are doing everything we can to provide a safe, clean, vibrant environment for people to enjoy. We take every opportunity to shout about how fantastic our local, independent businesses are – and they are just one fraction of the total, exciting melting pot that is Kings Heath.”

damage to our shop was horrendous. There was a thick film of dirt on everything. We had to have a major clean-up and sell the clothing half-price. But the fire brigade were fantastic – they saved our building.” Happily, business has bounced back and the future is looking rosy. Do major sporting events, such as the Olympics, Wimbledon and the Tour de France bring in a new generation of sports enthusiasts? Yes and no, says Bill. “You do get a bit of a rush after certain events, especially badminton. After the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the NIA in Birmingham, lots of people come into the shop wanting branded shirts, shoes and racquets as worn by top player Lee Chong Wei. The Olympics, on the other hand, didn’t have much impact. While it was a wonderful experience for London to host the Games in 2012, we didn’t see a

corresponding rise in business.” Bill believes the only way to really get the country up and running in terms of greater sports activity is to provide more, and better, facilities and quality coach training, such as the badminton coaching seminars held at the University of Worcester’s Motion & Performance Centre. “Facilities are the most important thing – and local facilities,” she says. “If you want to get more young people taking up sport, that’s where the money should go. From what I see, the areas that need facilities the most are the ones least likely to get them.” At least Maurice Robinson Sports will continue to play its part in equipping and advising amateur and professional sports people from across the country. “I am proud to still be running the shop that my father founded, and to be carrying on his legacy,” says Bill. “I like to think he’d be proud of me too.” n

Visit us online broadstreetbirmingham.com Follow us on Twitter @broadstreetbrum Facebook www.facebook.com/Broadstreetbid

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CASE STUDY

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Military families overwhelmed by comfort of Fisher House In April 2013, a new building opened at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to provide accommodation for the families of military patients being treated on-site Six months since Fisher House welcomed its first family through the door, the home has become known as an oasis of calm for the relatives that stay there The comments in the visitors’ book say it all. Page after page in the book is filled with thanks for the hospitality, kindness and warmth the house has given its occupants. “A beautiful home, it’s made a very stressful and worrying time much easier,” said one, while another wrote: “There are no words in my heart to express my gratitude to all the staff at Fisher House.” The £4.2million home is just a five-minute walk from the military ward at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, where all servicemen and women who are injured or sick – whether on the battlefields of Afghanistan or from illnesses affecting all people – are treated. Since opening it has welcomed nearly 350 families through the door. As well as the families of serving troops, it has provided accommodation for veterans or military personnel needing outpatient care. House manager Patrick Hogan said: “It’s been really well received. People have been blown away by the house and really grateful to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity for funding this incredible building. We have even been full on a few occasions already.” “We once had 13 members of the same family here. Unfortunately, it was a sad time as their loved one didn’t make it but they said it was better that they could all be here together to share in their grief.” Falklands-based school teacher Kerry Ford knows only too well the benefits of the house. She dropped everything and made the 8,000-mile journey to Birmingham when she received a call to say her husband had burst an artery in rare complications following a routine operation to repair scar tissue.

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Falklands veteran Nobby Ford, who served in the Royal Engineers, has been left with brain damage and will need long-term care and support. For 44-year-old Kerry, Fisher House has provided a safe and secure base while she starts the process of unpicking their life in Falklands and finding a new home in Birmingham. “To be able to just leave the ward and walk here is amazing,” said Kerry, who has two grown-up children living in England. “Staying here has just been a huge weight off my mind. “As soon as I walk through the front door, I feel calm and in a better place” “I chat with the other relatives and to know we

The house offers 18 family-size bedrooms with en-suite facilities and disabled access throughout. Communal rooms including a large kitchen, dining area, cinema room and children’s play area not only allow families to share their experiences but also give patients the opportunity to spend time with their loved ones away from the hospital ward. Commander Alison Hofman, second in command at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, said the house had made a huge difference to military patients being treated at the hospital. “I don’t think any of us could have realised the impact Fisher House would have,” she said. “It has had a considerable impact on both the visiting

As soon as I walk through the door I feel calm and in a better place. I can’t stress how grateful I am to all the people who have fundraised to build this house

are all in a similar situation helps. We’ve all got somebody in there and we all know how it feels. “Nothing prepares you for that phone call. When I saw him in the hospital, I was devastated. I’d said goodbye to him a well man and when I saw him, he was lying in critical care. “He is going to be here or in rehabilitation at Moseley Hall Hospital for the next two years. I need to go home and resign from my job and find a new home in Birmingham. Knowing that I can stay here while I sort myself out is such a relief. “I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to all the people who have fundraised to build this house. “I’m already thinking of ways I can fundraise to say thank you. It really is a special place and the people that work here are amazing. They are there if you need them but give you the space if you need it.”

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families and the patients. “Each and every family I speak to is overwhelmed by the standard of the accommodation and the stress it relieves for them being so close to their loved ones whilst in hospital. “The military patients also benefit hugely not only from knowing their family are being cared for close by but also knowing they have a sanctuary and a homely environment to spend time with their family and friends away from the ward.” Residents of the house were star struck when Birmingham City footballer Mitch Hancox paid a visit with his brother Matthew, a former Royal Marine. Matthew was seriously injured when a bullet ripped through his chest on patrol in Afghanistan in September 2011. He was flown to the QE for


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CASE STUDY

Kerry Ford finds comfort in Fisher House

treatment. The pair chatted to staff and gave tickets to the club’s Armed Forces Day fixture against Charlton Athletic. “I received excellent care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and I’ve very much enjoyed coming back today to meet some of the staff,” said Mathew, who lives with his wife in Solihull. “Fisher House is amazing,” added Mitch. “It’s fantastic that the QEHB Charity can offer families this wonderful accommodation for free when they receive that dreaded knock on the door.” In November, the facilities were further enhanced with the opening of a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) next to the house. As well as giving families the chance to play sports in the fresh air after being cooped up in the ward, it is also offering injured troops the chance to get back into sports and try their hand at games such as wheelchair basketball. Chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, Mike Hammond, said: “We are really proud to offer a house that, not only offers home from home comforts, but also considers the

It’s fantastic that the QEHB Charity can offer families this wonderful accommodation for free when they receive that dreaded knock on the door physical well being of military patients and their families. “This is a fabulous facility that will enable relatives to spend time in the fresh air, away from the pressure of the hospital ward. “We also hope it is a place where our injured troops can get back into sports with the help of family and staff.” He added: “We are very grateful to all our fundraisers and donors who have supported this invaluable house and continue to support it. “We know from research in America that patients recover quicker knowing their families are close by and are being well cared for. “What a great way to show our appreciation for those brave men and women who give their lives for the country.” While Fisher House welcomed its first families

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through the door in April, it was officially opened in June 2013 by HRH, the Prince of Wales, alongside representatives from Fisher House Foundation and Help for Heroes who donated generous grants to the project.

Fisher House costs £250,000 a year to run. By pledging £25 you can provide a night’s accommodation for a family of a military patient and become a Friend of Fisher House. To donate, please visit www.fisherhouseuk.org/donate-form

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


INSIGHT

WINTER 13

Catching up with the road gang BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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INSIGHT

We all use the busy motorways surrounding Birmingham, but do we ever consider the constant repairs, cleaning and maintenance this crucial network needs? Steve Dyson talks to Nigel Drew about working on the roads It was a dark, cold evening in the late 1990s, and Nigel Drew was busy supervising repairs on an elevated section of the M6, near Perry Barr in Birmingham. “Suddenly we hear this sound that I can only describe as ‘BOING’,” recalls Drew, “and slowly this noise increases above the general buzz of traffic – ‘BOING, BOING, BOING’ – louder and louder. I look up and coming towards us, bouncing twenty metres high, is this huge wheel that’s sheered off a lorry at speed somewhere up the road. “It was one of those split seconds that stretches forever as we stood watching it, mouths open, no-one saying anything. If it had hit anyone or any vehicle it would have been deadly, but it just landed in front of us, bounced high above our heads, and disappeared over the viaduct into darkness.” This was just one of many stories – some chilling, others crazy – that Drew tells me as I explore the largely anonymous work of his highway maintenance teams at R&C Williams Ltd, who repair and clean the motorways, roads and drains around the West Midlands. We’re sharing a plate of crisps and homemade sandwiches at the company’s base at Salford Bridge Wharf, directly underneath the Spaghetti Junction, the constant drone of traffic adding reality to Drew’s tales. “There was a skeleton we found in the early 2000s when we were clearing drains,” says Drew. “It was on Newhall Street, off Colmore Row in Birmingham centre. There we were clearing out all this sludge and a bone appears, an elbow I think, then a whole skeleton. That stopped the town, with police cordons while they investigated. It ends up it was a body from St Phillips Cathedral’s graveyard, which

used to spread to where the road now is. Another time we uncovered a hand grenade and bullets when clearing out a brook in Selly Oak...” These are the lighter moments from a trade that is mainly hard graft, involving all the activities that motorists rarely consider as they race along the motorways and main roads across the region. Like a bridge painter whose job never ends, R&C Williams keep our highways moving with basic gulley and drains cleansing, concrete repairs to barriers, parapets, viaducts, bridges, subways and underpasses, and replacing perished steelworks, fencing and culverts. Born and bred in Cradley Heath, Drew left school at 16 to become a trainee technician at a structural engineering firm, before switching to civil engineering and starting work at the local council. He joined R&C Williams Ltd in 1982 as contracts manager, when the company employed 12 staff and had a turnover of just £500,000. He’s now managing director, annual revenues have reached £8m, and around 60 workers and 12 ‘long-term subbies’ are employed on the roads, with another 20 management and administration staff in the office. Despite the growth, the last 30 years has been hard work, persevering through three recessions and only just emerging from the latest downturn without having to shrink the business or make redundancies. “Before I started, the company was working directly for West Midlands County Council,” says Drew, now aged 53. “But when that was disbanded the work went back to metropolitan councils in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell,

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Solihull and Coventry, with Highways Agency maintaining motorways. “I joined from the council, and my brief when I started was to manage the disbanding of the county council work and to chase and retrieve as much as possible from the seven local authorities, at the same time growing the motorway business with the Highways Agency. “I was only in my early 20s and this was deep end stuff, but we won the first Highways Agency contract in 1983. Before long, we were the main contractor on the M5 up to the M54, on the M6 up to the M1, on the M42 up to Junction 9, and on the northern part of the M40. It’s what is called the ‘Midland Links Motorway’ and in total covers more than 500 motorway miles.” R&C Williams continued to win major Highways Agency contracts for 15 years, carrying out all the structural and routine motorway maintenance directly until the mid1990s, by which time turnover had grown tenfold to £5m, and staffing was more than 50. “But then,” Drew remembers, “in the mid1990s the Highways Agency wanted one main contractor – the ‘big is beautiful’ concept – to run everything, so they only had to go to one person. The main contracts started going to the big boys, national firms like Jarvis, Atkins and others, and we became a subcontractor. It was the same with all the main highways work for the councils and other contracts with Severn Trent and British Waterways. “Instead of direct contracts, we became part of these big firms’ supply chains. But because we were so central, and because of our skills, technical gear and years of experience, we were still a major subcontractor, providing 24/7 emergency cover for all those clients.”>>

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


INSIGHT

WINTER 13

Fast forward to 2013, and the main national company employing R&C Williams is now Amey, which holds the ‘Managing Agent Contracts’ for the Midlands motorway network, now stretching all the way to Monmouth on the M50, to Shrewsbury on the M54, to Warwick on the M40, and to the M1 and M69 on the M6. Many local authorities also prefer one main contractor, such as Balfour Beatty in Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry, Ringway in Worcestershire, and Amey in Birmingham – a different arm to the Amey that runs the motorways sector.

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The big change, says Drew, is the nature of the contracts, which 15 years ago were awarded 50% on quality, 50% on financial aspects – with quality instrumental to winning the work. “In recent years this has swung back to between 10% and 15% quality, and between 85% and 90% price,” he laments. “As the latest recession bit hard, so costs became more important with budget-tightening, making things harder and harder. Now, there’s a relentless focus on margins and cost savings. “Competitors start tactical pricing just to get the work, and we’ve only managed to survive

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because of our ability to micro-manage. It’s our own workforce, so we’re able to move resource from over-staffed jobs to others at a moment’s notice, tweaking jobs day-to-day with seven managers’ constant scrutiny to make ends meet. “It means now, at the tail-end of the recession, we’re holding our own – just. We’ve had no redundancies, but we’ve had a pay cut and absorbed natural wastage. But the sector got too thin for many people, and quite a few competitors went to the wall. We’re still here, but we feel a little under-valued.”


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At his lowest ebb, Drew wrote to Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Erdington, Birmingham, whose constituency covers R&C Williams’ base, to tell him what it was like “at the coalface” in the recession. “I was determined for someone to tell people down in London what it was like. There was a general lack of spending on highways maintenance in the West Midlands and we were being squeezed on contracts we did have, which meant a lack of resource for apprentices and proper training.” Drew, who’s vice-chairman of the Midlands Civil Engineering Training Group, and is also on the Midlands council for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, shows me the letters he sent to Dromey. They include his own costsbenefits analysis – based on employing each of his staff, versus what it would cost the state if they were out of work. “I showed him how unemployment would cost the country £500 a week for each worker, and he was so impressed with the commonsense of this calculation that he asked to use it in the House of Commons as part of his ‘back to

I showed him how unemployment would cost the country £500 a week for each worker, and he was so impressed with the commonsense of this calculation that he asked to use it in the House of Commons as part of his ‘back to work’ campaign

work’ campaign. “I’m not political,” adds Drew, “but someone needed to know. We’re coming out of recession, but I think the West Midlands is still the UK’s most underfunded area for highways and infrastructure management. I see it every day in drains not been cleaned by councils with no money to spend.” But he can’t remain serious for too long, and

INSIGHT

before I leave he tells me another ‘story from the roads’: “There was this West Indian lad called Clive who worked for us is the 1980s. He got arrested by the police for riding his bike home along the hard shoulder of the M6 – I mean cycling, on a bicycle, with all those heavy goods vehicles thundering past him! Apparently he’d been doing this for weeks before the police finally spotted him...” n

A business built by brothers The name R&C Williams comes from its founders, Ronnie and Charles Williams. The Aston-born brothers followed their father into drainage bricklaying as labourers after the Second World War, helping to repair bombdamaged streets and housing estates, before starting their own firm in 1957. Ronnie passed away six years ago at the aged of 74, but Charlie, at 77, is still the company’s main shareholder and chairman. And he’s not the only Williams still at the firm: there’s Steve Williams, Ronnie’s son, a contracts manager; Debbie Slater, Charlie’s daughter, a credit controller; and Paul Williams, Charlie’s son, a site manager. Joining our chat over a sandwich, Charlie says: “Our dad, George, was known as ‘Flash’ Williams because of his reputation for laying 3,000 bricks a day. I wanted to do as well as dad did – and I managed 3,000 a day, but not that often! “I remember catching the tram, tools in my pocket, shovel over my arm. To have come from that to this with my late brother, Ronnie – my partner, my best mate – makes me extremely proud. Back then, we’d never have thought we’d be working for the clients we have, doing the work we’ve done.” Drew also has fond memories of Ronnie: “Today procedures are really complex, nothing like what they once were. In the old days, Ronnie used to open up the cardboard from his empty pack of Park Drive cigarettes and, literally, detail a job on the back of his fag packet!” Drew also remembers how, when he joined R&C Williams, Ronnie taught him the importance of getting staff paid. “When he and Charlie first started, workers used to queue up to be paid in cash by the public works department. But they only ever brought so much money out, and there often wasn’t enough to pay everyone. So it was important to get to the front of the queue. “From that experience, Ronnie always remembered the priority: ‘The lads have got to be paid. We’ve got to make sure we pay the people that matter.’” Drew is proudly married to Jan and has a son, Sam, aged 25, an electrician, and a grandson, Ollie, aged three. That’s his family, but he’s just as passionate about his staff: “They’re all local people, all paying their tax and spending income locally. We care about the workers because they’re incredibly loyal – their average length of service is 14 years. “I tell them: ‘You are our cutting edge, you’re the people that everyone sees in R&C uniforms.’ We treat our people how I’d like to be treated. And we feel responsible for them, as over the years we’ve got to know their families.” Charlie, who has three children and “whole clans” of grandchildren and great-grand children, adds: “Late payments from our customers are a big issue. It means we’re literally financing their work. The Government should really be putting some effort into this. We’re valuable – but sometimes feel used and abused.” Drew nods in frustration at how much time the company spends “chasing money for work that’s done and delivered,” and estimates that R&C Williams are always owed between £1m to £1.5m on overdue invoices.

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BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


TONKS ON WINE

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Portugese boldness and french classic Ann Tonks, director of Opus at Cornwall Street and Cafe Opus, samples two reds Serra Mae Reserva 2009 This fine wine is from the Setubal Peninsula of Portugal, which lies just south of Lisbon on the central coast of Portugal. The wines of Portugal are gaining steadily in reputation for quality and for being ideal with food. This bold red is very clearly made for consumption with quite strong flavours of red meats, especially game, and would hold its own with some intense spices. You can detect some age in the colour: the edge of the wine is breaking up from the core to give a paler garnet shade from the dark opaque ruby at the centre of the wine. The wine has great body which you would expect from the 13.5% alcohol content and the abundant fruit. The nose is powerful and has a lovely aroma of jammy hedgerow fruits. It is quite perfumed with soft earthy tones. On the palate it has bags of tannin balancing the fruit. There is not quite as much fruit on the palate as indicated by the bouquet. Very long tannic finish. Although aged for 10 months in French oak, there is not the vanilla flavour of new oak, which is probably down to the age of the wine. A perfect wine with food. I would open this bottle up for about an hour before serving, drink with a delicious game dish like venison or pheasant with dollops of red currant jelly and end with a strong hard cheese like manchego or beaufort or a farmhouse

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cheddar. A really great choice for these late autumn, winter months!   Domaine de Courbissac, 2003 This is a classic wine from the Minervois region of France which lies in the southern Languedoc-Rousillon area. The grapes used on this estate are primarily the syrah and the grenache, which are big, powerful grape varieties of southern France, usually yielding some lovely blackberry fruit and slightly spicy undertones. The colour of the wine is brick red, indicating age, and slightly paler at the edge. While the bouquet is not packed with fruit, the wine’s earthy tones are evident; there is something almost chalklike and flinty on the nose, which is a nod to the limestone and gravel soil in the region. The palate, however, is full and fruity. It packs a real punch while delivering beautiful silky mouthfuls of blackcurrant fruit. Great structure to the wine and it shows a long, lingering almost nutty finish. This is a wine of quality and would go beautifully with red meat dishes, slightly spiced. Wines were supplied by Birmingham Wine School which is one of Birmingham’s leading wine educators, with a wide selection of fun and informal wine tasting events, from Introductory evenings

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through to advanced Master classes. Birminghamwineschool.com Tel 0121 270 7359 The Serra Mae Reserva 2009 retails at £11.65 at Bela Portugal Wines The Domaine de Courbissac, 2003 retails at £11.25 at Nickolls and Perks


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TONKS ON WINE

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


motoring

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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MOTORING

A range rover for my money

Adrian Harris, director of Fleet Services at Pertemps Network, drives a Range Rover SDV8 4.4 >>

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BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


MOTORING

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If you won a £million on the Lottery – what car would you buy? I guess that lots of us ask ourselves that question at times. Rolls, Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, or Land Rover? “Land Rover?” I hear you ask. Well, JLR do make Range Rovers! And you do not need to be a lottery winner to be able to afford the all-new Range Rover. But in my humble opinion, they are every bit as good as a Roller et al, and they do go very well indeed. Not quite as fast as a gull-wing Mercedes, but plenty fast enough for the vast majority of motoring challenges. And of course, you will not get stuck in mud or snow, and you can carry the guns, the spaniel and the hamper,

Quite simply, it is the most perfect all round luxury car, excellent value for money not forgetting she who must be obeyed sitting in her lofty perch surveying those below her! The SDV8 4.4 just purrs – I defy anyone to differentiate its noise levels with that of a petrol V8 – and of course it delivers a massive 700lb-ft of torque, which provides the effortless ’Performance’ (capital ’P’ intended) and yet it’s still possible to return over 30mpg. The refinement and appointment of the Range Rover Autobiography model really is hard to fault: sliding panoramic sun roof and 21-inch delta sparkle alloy road wheels, to name a couple, then add the optional packages such as the Meridian 1700 watt audio system fitted to this demo car and you are hard-pushed to find any luxury car with a better spec. The styling is still reminiscent of the original from 1972 with unmistakeable heritage, but very much a 2013 design study with lovely feminine curves. The Range Rover mission statement should be “to deliver unsurpassable levels of comfort and performance in a car that performs as well on road as it does off-road”. If this was their statement (it may well be,

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of course) the new Range Rover exceeds expectations by a country mile. Quite simply, it is the most perfect all round luxury car, excellent value for money, and low cost of ownership due to exceptional resale values. And the vast majority of Range Rovers ever produced are still on the road! Would I buy one? I’m not sure that I’m ready for the ultimate in affordable luxury and practicality yet – but soon, maybe. It depends upon she who must be obeyed, I guess. As director of fleet Services at Pertemps, I rarely agree with Jeremy Clarkson’s views. Top Gear is entertaining, but not always as factually accurate as perhaps it could be. But in this case, I do agree wholeheartedly with Mr Clarkson: the all new Range Rover is by far the best in its class! n

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The car Adrian drove was a Range Rover SDV8 4.4 with an on the road price including vat of £94,720. It was supplied by Jaguar UK, Coventry


EQUIPMENT

a roller that bites After the Phantom and the Ghost comes the Wraith in Rolls Royce’s drive to remain relevant to the global jet-set, says Josh Sims

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EQUIPMENT

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EQUIPMENT The name is perhaps the first indication of the gap Rolls Royce is seeking to fill in its portfolio with the Wraith, the company’s latest step - after the Phantom and the Ghost - in its renaissance under BMW ownership from ‘Downton Abbey’ threatened irrelevance to contemporary super-brand. It is named after the company’s two-door sports model - yet one with serious coachwork - of 1938. “And certainly the Wraith is following in that heritage,” says Giles Taylor, Rolls Royce’s design director. “The name was actually decided on not long before its launch, but perhaps ‘Wraith’ was always destined to end up on this creation. It’s a very fast, very comfortable, two-door, true four-seat fastback - which hasn’t been done before. It really is a new kind of car for Rolls Royce, but relevant to our customer.” That’s a customer who is younger, sportier, more style-conscious, who’s after a more ‘feel it in the pit of the stomach’ driving experience but without losing Rolls Royce’s celebrated ‘waftability’ - “the power to give great, effortless pace, but also silence in the cabin and

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a distinctive cushioning,” as Taylor describes it. “A car like the Wraith is all about capturing modernity in a timeless way, without wishing to sound contradictory. It’s what Chanel does in fashion. It’s now but it’s also classic. I’d go so far as to to say it’s my favourite of the new generation of Rolls Royces - it just has ‘it’, that sense of glamour.” Certainly the Wraith’s stats are impressive: a 624 bhp twin turbo V12 giving 0-60mph in 4.4

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seconds, making it Rolls Royce’s most powerful drive-train to date. So too the tech: the debut for Rolls Royce of SAT or Satellite Aided Transmission, for example, which processes GPS data to predict the driver’s next move and automatically select the right gear for the road ahead, thus avoiding unnecessary gear changes and giving smoothness of ride. Navigation is voice-activated and can be app-controlled from a smartphone. Speaking of which, it also has an iBrake, a radar/camera-based system that assists in emergency stops. But the Wraith is no ‘gentleman’s club on wheels’, as Rolls Royces have often been described, though gentlemen may still apply for ownership. Indeed, Taylor doesn’t go so far as to recommend string-backed driving gloves, pipe and cravat, but he does rather reckon his new design is “very much suggestive of the gentleman’s gran tourismo, of the classic GT era of the 50s and 60s, which is perhaps a rather romantic idea, but it does seem just right for getting from Mayfair to Monaco and allowing you to turn up looking the part.” 


EQUIPMENT Of course, passing through Mayfair one would be hard not to at least see some connection between the Wraith and a gentleman’s club after all - and that is both the refinement of the Garrick variety and the sexiness of the Raymond Revuebar kind. Certainly the Wraith’s interior is not short of leather, although the company prefers the comparison of a luxury yacht than an old Chesterfield sofa. And Taylor is enthused by the large door panel in one-piece wood veneer - specifically Rolls Royce’s new open grain wood treatment, Canadel panelling - the largest of its kind in the industry, he suggests. Even the grain is angled to give a sense of forward momentum. Such details are to be expected, both from Rolls Royce and at Rolls Royce prices. More important, for the Wraith and what it represents at least, is that sleek, almost aggressive exterior, which took some inspiration from Taylor favourite classics the likes of the Maserati A6G, Maserati Ghibli, Aston Martin DB4 and DB5. The Wraith is shorter and 50mm lower than the Ghost, enough that the driver

A car like the Wraith is all about capturing modernity in a timeless way

feels closer to the ground - although while any other car design looking to suggest speed would reflect light from the under-carriage to further suggest a car hunkering down, the Wraith, Taylor notes, sits up. It floats rather than prowls. The grill looks like a real air intake too - because it is - “and not a decorative touch, which is true for other Rolls Royces,” he adds. The car’s upper and lower halves being in different tones gives it a nautical effect, one emphasised by frameless coach-doors

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and the lack of a B-pillar (which can make for an exhilarating ride all windows down). And, perhaps most strikingly - and certainly what gets its designer most animated - is the Wraith’s one strong, unbroken line bisecting an already sleek silhouette. “It has a sense of clean architectural surface language,” as Taylor puts it in designer-speak, meaning, in short, that the whole look hangs together with a minimum of fuss to distract the eye. “Look at the side of the car and there’s a very strong sense of linearity to it - which was actually a real challenge. There’s nothing extraneous. The Wraith is definitely a very modern but crafted contemporary piece of design of the kind that Rolls Royce customers are looking into. As a company we now stand for nicely modern cars - but we can go another step without starting to lose out to the fashionconsciousness there is in car design now.” Taylor is presumably working on taking that next step now. But he isn’t saying in which direction he’s pointing or how big a stride he may take. n

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FASHION

waxing lyrical Barbour’s managing director Steve Buck tells Josh Sims about the iconic clothing brand’s evolution from fishing boats to the world’s fashion hotbeds >>

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FASHION “The North East of England is a cold, wet, grey place,” says Gary Janes, doing little for the local tourist industry. “But we love it. That said, it does come with certain demands.” Protective clothing might be one, which is why the area is also home to an icon of menswear: the waxed jacket.  Founded in South Shields by Scotsman John Barbour and 120 years old next year, Barbour is still independent and still making jackets for the horse-and-hound set with which it has come to be most closely associated - “that dream of life in the British countryside that appeals more internationally than it does at home,” offers Steve Buck, the company’s managing director for the last decade. Yet it might be time for that stereotype of Range Rover, tweed and labrador to hang up its wellingtons. Barbour’s latest incarnation is much more slick, adding to its authorised Steve McQueen and its International biker style (also now set for development next year) to create styles more for bar and boardroom than field and paddock, its Royal Warrants with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles notwithstanding.  Having appealed to a more fashion-conscious shopper with its Beacon Heritage collaboration with Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida, now Barbour has teamed up with Savile Row’s ittailors Norton & Son (whose chief is Patrick Grant, lately on the BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’) on a new, on-going line of sharper, 11oz waxed jackets - including a velvet-collared single-breasted, hunting jacket-style, quilted jacket and calf-length all-weather waxed overcoat - as well as Guernsey and other chunky knits, blazers and shirts. It really takes Barbour where it hasn’t been altogether at home before: onto smart city streets, albeit ones that are as much prone to chilly winds and downpours as country lanes. “We like collaborations to challenge preconceptions without shocking anyone - besides, I’m not sure that country stereotype with which we’re associated really exists. You’re as likely to see Barbour wearers in Gucci loafers as much as wellies,” explains Buck. “And his collaboration deepens our story as a British brand and >>

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FASHION aims to show that our normally rugged style can be more refined and tailored. The target here is the aficionado who likes clothes not everybody else has. The thing that has amazed me working for the company is that everybody has a point of view - that can be a strength, but it also makes it difficult to do something new.” But with its Beacon Heritage Norton & Sons line, Barbour has hit that target with what is the most successfully style-conscious collection it has devised in years, albeit one based on considered tweaks of archive pieces. “That’s really the beauty of any Barbour jacket - it’s less designed as evolved, with details added bit by bit,” suggests Janes, its co-creator. It certainly moves the company on from its more traditional, country style and returns it more to its industrial roots outfitting fishermen, dockworkers, later even submariners and, during the Falklands Conflict, the Cowan Commando jacket for special forces. This is a long way from the ‘Horse and Hound’ set. Not that the country image has not been a beneficial one - it was Dame Margaret Barbour, chairman of the family firm, who designed the benchmark Bedale style of jacket and drove the Sloane Ranger image overhaul that first saw Barbour on the backs of aspirational urban folk 30 years ago. But perhaps that has run its course: time to reappraise the waxed jacket as utilitarian chic - a Swiss Army knife of outerwear with, thanks to a Savile Row injection, a smarter casing. Indeed, it is not just the jackets that are pushing on. The company is expanding too, which is good news for the North East. A fifth line will be added later this year to its four lines of 20 seamstresses - and one solitary, brave seamster - in order to meet growing demand. These are the women - and one man - who together assemble some 140,000 jackets a year, many with those distinctive characteristics: the check lining, bellows pockets, the throat latch, the cord collar, ring-pull zip and, of course, the waxed cotton (the wax prepared,

The thing that has amazed me working for the company is that everybody has a point of view - that can be a strength, but it also makes it difficult to do something new Coca-Cola-like, to a secret formula). And, behind the scenes, its repair service may give new life to well-worn jackets to which their owners are too attached to let go - making the occasional find in the pockets, including, on one occasion, the key to St James Palace. But actually waxed jackets now only account for 30% of Barbour’s sales by value, albeit that still amounting to a hefty chunk of £122m. There is, it seems, good business beyond the wax.

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“Without wishing to use cliche we’re half way along that path from being a manufacturing company to being a ‘lifestyle brand’,” says Buck. We try to appeal to more fashion and more mainstream consumers and neither seems put off by the other - all seem happy to be part of the broader brand. We want to keep growth gradual. Besides, there’s no exit for the brand since Dame Margaret wants Barbour to be family-owned forever.” n

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ENTREPRENEUR

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taking risks but boxing clever Have you ever thought about the processes behind the aluminium containers your favourite ready meals arrive in? Frank Holwell learns all about the foil food packaging sector from Peter Reay, chief executive of i2r When you first meet Peter Reay, he doesn’t come across as someone you’d label a risk taker. Instead he appears a conservativelydressed, unassuming, measured man who speaks in modulated tones. The risks we’re talking about, however, aren’t ‘toss of a coin’ or Russian roulette decisions, but judgments based on years of experience and knowledge in the aluminium food packaging industry. Reay is chief executive of i2r Packaging Solutions, a business born in Birmingham just seven years ago but which now boasts a £14m turnover and is set to further increase this during 2014. Businesses among its core of 160 clients include all the major food retailers, from Waitrose and M&S to frozen food specialists Iceland, all supplied through many of the key food suppliers in the UK and mainland Europe.

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Leading retail brands it supplies with its high quality, light weight but robust aluminium foil packaging includes ‘Cook’, ‘Gastropub’, ‘To Cook’, ‘Taste the difference’, ‘Finest’, ‘Simply Cook’ and ‘Go Cook’. i2r now has a 20% share of the UK market, which is valued at around £60m, and its share is set to increase to 25% in 2014. The company was set up in 2007 by Reay and his fellow business partners Jon West, i2r’s commercial development director, and chief finance officer Richard Chaplin (who left the business in 2012). They had all previously worked for Nicholl Food Packaging in Aldridge, where Reay had risen to chief executive since joining the business in 1990. Through acquisitions and growth, Nicholl had grown to a business with a £58m turnover with manufacturing plants in the UK

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France and Belgium, but by 2006 Reay had aspirations to move into different areas and new challenges and left the business – with a view to shaking up what he viewed as “a rather staid” industry. “The aluminium food packaging market has been relatively stable for the last two or three decades,” says Reay. “The concept of i2r was to really focus on the ‘smoothwall’ side of the business, which is aimed more at the high-end, ready-to-cook offerings from the main retailers; products capable of longer shelf life, minimal packaging without cartons, visibility of the food through the film on top.” It was here that the risk taker in Reay showed itself. Initially funded to the tune of £1.3m through directors’ cash and venture capitalists ic2 Capital, i2r had attracted core company >>


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ENTREPRENEUR

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ENTREPRENEUR

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Setting up on your own, it’s a risky business,” Reay admits. “Going from a business that is cash-rich with good lines of credit to a start-up is a challenge, and from a timing point of view we were edging towards one of the most serious recessions the country has experienced


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into the business in the form of Birminghambased Two Sisters Food Group. This was 2007, however. And the recession was just around the corner. “Setting up on your own, it’s a risky business,” Reay admits. “Going from a business that is cash-rich with good lines of credit to a start-up is a challenge, and from a timing point of view we were edging towards one of the most serious recessions the country has experienced. We were fortunate enough to survive that process and grow the business in what turned out to be extremely challenging commercial and financial circumstances.” In 2009, i2r became a subsidiary of Contital Srl, part of the private, family-run Laminazione Sottile Group, based near Naples. “We realised fairly early on that we really needed an industrial partner, and given our previous links with the Moschini family, we structured a swap-out during the final quarter of 2008,” says Reay. “This has given us a very secure position as a business and given the market and company some significant advantages in terms of vertical integration; within the group we have effectively an independent aluminium rolling mill; a lacquering operation; we also have Contital which is our immediate parent and a major European container manufacturer – and then we have i2r.” Whilst i2r produces a jaw-dropping 220 million pieces per annum, this is a ‘lean burn’ business: there are just 36 people employed at its factory in Telford, Shropshire, which became its new home in 2011. High levels of quality, automation and IT are key to the business – and yet there still remains the dichotomy of i2r’s ability to retain its ‘human face’ front. “One of the strengths of the business remains that the company is very flat in terms of its structure, both in i2r and the group,” says Reay. “When people are talking to us, they are talking to the main drivers within the business; it’s not a faceless organisation, and that enables us to get to the point quite quickly. That won’t change and that’s why our relationship works so well with our Italian partners, because their business, while it has a €350m turnover, is also very flat in terms of its structure – the key people and owners

ENTREPRENEUR

Putting together an ethical package While it enjoys a global reach and multi million pound turnover, i2r also prides itself on its environmental, employment and ethical credentials. Recently awarded full accreditation as an ethical company by Ethical Goods, the process included a staff survey, which found that 86.7% of the workforce agreed that i2r was one of the best companies they have worked for. That workforce, like the majority of i2r’s suppliers, is sourced locally. “In terms of the local labour pool, I don’t think we could be better served,” says Reay. “There’s an excellent supply in the area. Both in terms of direct staff we employ and the supply base, it is technically competent and varied. “We’re very keen on local supply and also keen on local companies that aren’t necessarily belonging to national chains.” Reay believes in “rewarding relationships that work both ways” – one example being their recent deal with nationwide distribution partner, Simmonds Transport, to produce new i2r branded trailer curtains. “That’s a demonstration of both companies’ commitment for the long term,” says Reay. “We’re always interested in that style of relationship with both our customers and suppliers.” Simmonds Transport also embodies i2r’s environmental commitment; its entire fleet uses B100 biofuel, made from used cooking oils. Elsewhere in i2r, the green credentials mean all office stationery and outer packaging is made from 100% post-consumer waste, while aluminium process waste is collected and returned to suppliers. As much as 30% of this waste is then re-used in the raw material that i2r buys back. “The biggest driver for us from the start was weight reduction, especially in light of the packaging waste regulations and the ethos of material conservation,” says Reay. “Aluminium is 100% recyclable as a product, and we were keen to promote the positive attributes of the product against other mediums such as coated paper and plastics.”

are highly visible. “The strength of the business lies in the group, there’s no question of that. We see the participation at the highest level being key to everything we do, that’s an absolute core strength. Our ability to think differently and take risks with both our business model and our product ranges has also been a key factor in our growth and flexibility. “Speed is another key factor; speed to market, in decision making; speed and flexibility in production. We’ve been able to take the best aspects of both businesses and move forward on that basis. It’s been quite surprising and satisfying that some of the techniques from i2r have been deployed by Contital. “Both businesses, as you’d expect, hold different core competencies. It’s fair to say Contital’s competencies lie in engineering, production techniques, automation and IT

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structure, whereas i2r’s lie in marketing and development, product design. “Efficiency is key for us: a number of techniques have been imported from Contital in terms of best manufacturing practice. We have strong formal maintenance routines, and as a company we’re heavily committed to staff training both on the job and more formal qualifications. Together we have an incredibly strong business, which in my opinion is certainly out there in terms of the competition.” That’s not to say Reay and i2r will be easing up on the risk taking any day soon: “We’re constantly looking for new ideas and new markets and we’d be disappointed if we can’t maintain the level of growth that we’ve previously enjoyed – especially given the fact that the economic conditions appear to be easing somewhat.” n

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


PRINCE’S TRUST

with John O’Reilly regional director of The Prince’s Trust in Central England

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS At youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, we help disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. Every day we meet so many young people who are struggling to reach their potential - there are thousands of talented youngsters that fall into a vicious cycle where they are met by barriers, at school and in their personal lives, which hugely knock their confidence and affect them finding employment. A recent local success story is Clifford Harding from Birmingham, who won The Prince’s Trust Achiever of the Year Award at the prestigious Pride of Britain Awards 2013. Clifford is an inspiration to his generation - with the support of The Trust, and a drive to better himself, he turned his life around. Clifford is dyslexic and left school with barely any qualifications. His grandparents and mother passed away leaving him feeling alone and without purpose. He became unemployed and stayed this way for nine years, signing on to benefits, and falling in with the wrong crowd. After almost a decade out of work, Clifford decided to join The Prince’s Trust Enterprise

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programme, which gives unemployed young people the skills and confidence to become their own boss. Clifford’s business has now been running for six years and is a great success. He hires out equipment for children’s parties and has developed a unique way of teaching children their times tables using song. His hugely interactive Tunes Times Tables method has proved popular with schools here and abroad and Clifford now employs two people. He said: “Now that I am working and helping in the community I feel happier, prouder and healthier. It’s like I’m on Earth for a purpose whereas I felt like I was under a system before.” “The Prince’s Trust are amazing. They gave me a grant and a mentor who I still see today. Getting The Prince’s Trust money was one of the best moments of my life – it felt like someone finally believed in me.”   Clifford’s story is just one of many The Prince’s Trust have been able to be part of. In the last 12 months, we have helped almost 6,000 young people across the West Midlands through a range of our programmes. Three in four young people supported by The Trust move into work, education or training. Yet still in the West Midlands alone 97,000 16-24 year olds are unemployed. Nationally, there are almost a million young people not in work, education or training and our recent analysis shows that the number of young people in work has reached record lows.This is an alarming situation for young people, parents and businesses alike. We’d like to help even more young people this year, but we can’t do this alone - our work is only possible thanks to the generosity of businesses

and individuals in the region, both in donations and their time. We strongly believe that every young person, regardless of their background, deserves the chance to succeed and with continued support these young people can change their lives. This is the difference that you could make when you support The Prince’s Trust. n For more information contact: Jo Sunderland on jo.sunderland@princes-trust.org.uk or visit www.princes-trust.org.uk or call us on 0800 842 842

Clifford Harding

Clifford is an inspiration to his generation - with the support of The Trust, and a drive to better himself, he turned his life around

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BIT OF A CHAT

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the 40,000 words onto computer, and got kids at St. Bernard’s Catholic Primary School in Birmingham to help illustrate it.” Aimed at youngsters aged 5-12, the book costs £9.99 – with £3.99 going directly to the charity Cure Leukaemia. Buy via Amazon, WH Smiths, Tesco, Waterstones or direct from Cure Leukaemia on 0121 236 9202 or email info@cureleukaemia.co.uk. The ISBN number is 978-1-78148-626-9.

with Bill Borde

>> Wines & spirits

>> Duckers’ silly six The grumpiest, most critical business hack in the West Midlands has exposed his softer side. Former Birmingham Post business editor John Duckers – who leaves industry chiefs shaking in their boots with his merciless analysis and ferocious comment – has now become a children’s author. The Amazing Adventures of the Silly Six tells the story of Angus McMonty, a snake who’s really a softie; Felicity, the dog; Suzi, the cat; Percy, the parrot; Nasher, the hamster; and Mole. Duckers, who still shocks the business circuit with his iniquitous but funny ‘Duckers and Diving’ blog, said: “I wrote it on a typewriter 30 years ago and, despite being turned down by publishers at the time, always believed in it. Children also seemed to like it, so I dusted it down, put

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Ghost-busting investors are needed for what has been dubbed ‘the most haunted pub in England’. Built in 1636, the Four Crosses in Cannock, Staffordshire, has witnessed several tragic deaths which have led to a series of mysterious encounters. Last year, the historic pub even appeared in an episode of ‘Great British Ghosts’ on the Yesterday Channel, presented by Michaela Strachan. Paul Hands, a director at Colliers International which is marketing the pub for £400,000, said: “There are several reports of paranormal experiences at the Four Crosses, reported by staff and visitors alike, including glasses smashing, unexplained footsteps and the apparition of a young girl.” Colliers seems to like spooky projects. The firm is marketing Oakley Court in Windsor, once used as Dr Frank N. Furter’s castle in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And it also sold the Ellangowan Hotel in Dumfries and Galloway, once the fictional Green Man in the scary and iconic 1973 British horror film, The Wicker Man, starring Britt Ekland and Edward Woodward.

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>> What’s in a name? Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre appear to be in an unseemly tussle over the name of a railway station. Birmingham International is currently the name of the station serving the airport and NEC, but visitors are confused, getting off to discover the charms of the city but finding themselves eight miles from the city centre’s New Street station. Birmingham Airport chief executive Paul Kehoe reportedly wants to call it Birmingham Airport/ NEC, but his suggestion is said to be opposed by NEC chief executive Paul Thandhi who wants to call it NEC/Birmingham Airport. Kehoe has been quoted as saying: “You would think I’m being heretical! You’ve got to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes.” But Thandhi is said to be insisting: “Should a new name need to be agreed, our preference would be for NEC/Birmingham Airport.” Network Rail has agreed to look into renaming the station – but only if the airport and NEC agree on a new name. Come on, guys!

>> Brum’s car park blues Birmingham has come 10th in – wait for it – the ‘World’s Coolest Car Park’ awards. Yes, the city’s Millennium Point car park – which glows blue at night – was beaten only by car parks in: Miami, Lyon, Sheffield, Detroit, Rotterdam, Vancouver, Melbourne and Ca¡novas, Spain. Jamie Mitchell, of the respected FX design magazine which helped judge the awards, said: “Most of us settle for parking our cars in utilitarian concrete hulks, but these car parks show how imaginative and innovative these buildings can be.” Wow! Millennium Point here I come...


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COMPANY PROFILE

Introducing Vista Events at the Crowne Plaza, Birmingham City The Crowne Plaza Birmingham City hotel was founded 39 years ago. Following a total redevelopment in 2008 - this month it saw the launch of its Vista Event product, offering the complete solution for all meetings and events Looking for corporate event options? At Vista Events at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham City they proudly declare that each event is unique and the team is dedicated to providing flexible, tailored packages that can be adapted to fit any type of event. They are renowned for their attention to detail and will guide the client through every step of the planning process incorporating all of their ideas to help them begin creating their event. Once all the planning is done the team will be there on the day meticulously managing the event so that it is delivered exactly to the satisfaction of the client. They have 11 event rooms in total and the Vista Suite can hold 300 people theatre style or 190 people for a gala dinner. The Vista Suite is a completely self-contained suite which also provides clients with a private reception area with comfortable seating and a private bar, the perfect area for an exhibition or drinks reception. The hotel’s range of accommodation includes 312 luxurious bedrooms decorated in rich colours and modern furnishings with clean lines to create a soothing atmosphere. All rooms feature one queen bed or two doubles with superb en suite, LCD televisions and large desks with internet access, offering guests a chic design with a stylish twist. All rooms feature an extensive work area, relaxing feature chair, air conditioning and a luxurious modern en-suite bathroom. For VIP guests the hotel has two ‘All Inclusive’ Club floors which are the height of exclusivity,

Michael Mason (Profile Picture) General Manager of Crowne Plaza Birmingham City

providing the most perceptive of guests with a true sanctuary that exudes peace and tranquillity. All Club Rooms including two Suites have access to the exclusive Club Lounge. The Club Lounge is welcoming and sophisticated, the perfect location to relax after a busy day. Complimentary drinks and refreshments are available in the Lounge whilst the adjacent Media and Business area enhance the exclusive range of services reserved specifically for Club Guests. Michael Mason, General Manager of the hotel

Birmingham is a world-class venue for business and tourism and the Crowne Plaza Birmingham complements the city’s offering in an internationally competitive market.

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says: “Birmingham is a world-class venue for business and tourism and the Crowne Plaza Birmingham complements the city’s offering in an internationally competitive market. (pull quote) We enjoy hosting members of the Conservative party attending their national conference and look forward to being the host hotel for other high profile events in 2014.” Michael adds: “The Vista Event product offers clients a complete solution and an unforgettable experience. The team match these qualities in their friendly but professional service to customers with everyone putting in the right effort and attitudes to ensure we deliver consistently high quality service”. “The most rewarding part of my job is receiving the positive feedback from customers requesting that I thank the hotel team for the great service they received”. Michael says: ” Whatever type of event you are arranging, we guarantee you an enjoyable experience in exclusive contemporary surroundings. This is not just an ordinary event room in an ordinary hotel; this is Vista Events at the Crowne Plaza – the complete solution for your events”.

The event team can be contacted for more information on 0121 224 5000 Crowne Plaza Birmingham City, Holliday Street, Birmingham B1 1HH www.cpbhamcity.com

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EVENTS

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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

NOVEMBER 20 BBBC, speaker Arti Halai, director of Fleet Street Group, from 7-9am at Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR. £20. Book via www.bbbc.biz or call 0121 236 0484. 21 GBCC, Burton Business Breakfast, ‘Leadership – getting the most from your people’, 7.30-9am, Branston Golf & Country Club , Branston, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 3DP. £10 + VAT for members, £15 +VAT non-members. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com 22 GBCC, Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, 7-9.30am, Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE. Members £10, nonmembers £15. Please pay on arrival at the event via cash or cheque.

18 BBBC, speaker David Strudley, chief executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice, from 7-9am at Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR. £20. Book via www.bbbc.biz or call 0121 236 0484.

JANUARY 15 BBBC, speaker Sir Michael Lyons, former chief executive, Birmingham City Council, former chairman, BBC Trust, now chairman of The English Cities Fund, from 7-9am at Botanical Gardens, Birmingham B15 3TR. £20. Book via www.bbbc.biz or call 0121 236 0484. 21 CBI, M Club event – ‘Breaking into New Markets,’ sponsored by Deloitte, at Deloitte offices, Four Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HZ. Book at www.cbi.org.uk ot email alice.williams@cbi.org.uk

22 GBSLEP, SPRG consultation: North Worcestershire, 10am-1pm, free. To book email m.dunphy@bromsgroveandredditch.gov.uk or call 01527 881 325.

FEBRUARY

26 Business Breakfast: Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Swinfen Hall Hotel, Swinfen, near Lichfield, WS14 9RE. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com

5 GBCC, Solihull Breakfast with Business, 7.30-9.30am, Village Hotel Solihull, The Green Business Park, Shirley, Solihull, B90 4GW. Members £5.83 + VAT, nonmembers £8.33 + VAT. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com

26 CBI, M Club event – ‘Succession Planning,’ sponsored by GE Capital, at F W Thorpe plc, Redditch. Book at www.cbi.org.uk ot email alice.williams@cbi.org.uk

12 IoD breakfast workshop at Higgs & Sons, Brierley Hill, 7.30-9am, how to create a company health and safety system. Free of charge. Contact sue.hurrell@iod.com

27 Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) competition, for ages 16-19, with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Worcester Warriors, Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Further information can be found at www.careers.icaew.com/events/BASE

13 GBCC, Lichfield & Tamworth Chamber Business Luncheon and AGM, 11.30am2pm, Swinfen Hall Hotel, Swinfen, near Lichfield, WS14 9RE. £20. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com

27 GBCC, Solihull Breakfast with Business, 7.30-9.30am, Village Hotel Solihull, The Green Business Park, Stratford Road, Shirley, B90 4GW. Members £5.83 + VAT, non-members £8.33 + VAT. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com 28 GBSLEP, SPRG consultation: Solihull, 4-6.45pm, free. To book, email psp@solihull.gov.uk or call 0121 704 6394. 29 IoD Hereford & Worcester branch tour of Worcester Arena, includes ticket for Worcester Warriors vs Manchester Giants (British Basketball League), 5.30pm. Book at www.iod.com/Wmidlandsevents or contact sue.hurrell@iod.com 29 GBCC, Networking at The REP, 11.30am-2.30pm, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP. Free for members only. 30 GBCC, IAB Annual Dinner and Awards, 6pm-midnight, ICC, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com

DECEMBER 3 GBCC, Business Breakfast with Sir Albert Bore, 7.30-10am, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP. Members £15, non-members £22.50. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com 3 IoD networking with CIMA at RAF Museum, Cosford, 6.30-8.30pm, included in tour is National Cold War Exhibition. Book at www.iod.com/Wmidlandsevents or contact sue.hurrell@iod.com 4 GBSLEP, SPRG consultation: Staffordshire, 8-11am, free. To book, email johnmorgan@cannockchase.gov.uk or anthonylancaster@cannockchase.gov.uk or call 01543 464308 or 464 481. 10 GBSLEP, SPRG consultation: Birmingham, 4.30-7.30pm, free. To book, email david.r.carter@birmingham.gov.uk or call 0121 303 4041. 13 GBCC, Lichfield Rugby Business Connect Breakfast, 7-9.30am, Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, WS14 9JE. Members £10, nonmembers £15. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

20 GBCC, Burton & District Business Breakfast, 7.30-9am, Barton Marina, Barton Under Needwood, Burton upon Trent, DE13 8DZ. Members £12, non-members £15. Book via www.birmingham-chamber.com 25 BQ Executive Manufacturing Summit at Great Hall, University of Birmingham. To book your ticket contact Kirsty or Rachael on 0191 426 6300 or email events@room501.co.uk 25 Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) competition, for ages 1619, with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Aston University, Birmingham. Further information can be found at www.careers.icaew. com/events/BASE 28 Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) competition, for ages 16-19, with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Coventry University, Coventry. Further information can be found at www.careers.icaew.com/events/BASE

MARCH 5 CBI, M Club – ‘Embedding Innovation’, sponsored by BDO, at BDO offices, 125 Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 3SD. Book at www.cbi.org.uk or email alice.williams@cbi.org.uk

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. GBCC, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. GBSLEP, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. CBI, Confederation of British Industry. IAB, Institute of Asian Businesses. ICAEW, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. ICC, International Convention Centre. IoD, Institute of Directors. IPF, Investment Property Forum. SPRG, Spatial Plan for Recovery and Growth.

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BQ WEST MIDLANDS Issue 04