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ISSUE NINETEEN: WINTER 2013

Bright ideas The consultant who lights up people’s lives Mercy mission Businesswoman donates skills to the third sector Ready for take off Executive aims to broaden airport’s horizons Wind of change Woman who’s a breath of fresh air in a man’s world

Hot prospect ISSUE NINETEEN: WINTER 2013: YORKSHIRE EDITION

Mum’s burning ambition to revive textiles industry

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

YORKSHIRE EDITION

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WELCOME

BUSINESS QUARTER: WINTER 13: issue NINETEEN As a new year approaches, and economic indicators tell us things out there are getting better, many business leaders will be looking forward to 2014 with optimism. Granted, many markets are still yet to get into full recovery mode, but the picture is certainly brighter than it was this time last year. Hopefully you and your business are among those plotting growth in the next 12 months and, if so, we hope you find something in these pages to help you along. You might want to start by turning to our special report from the sidelines of the Future MADE event in Sheffield, which is a precursor to MADE The Entrepreneur Festival: Sheffield 2014. In our supplement, entrepreneurs from three crucial stages of the going-it-alone journey shared their stories, battle scars and ambitions for the future. And there’s plenty of insight and inspiration in there to be drawn and applied to your own situation. We’ve reported on numerous ‘squeaky bum’ moments for entrepreneurs in BQ over the years, but few could have been as intense and widely observed, as that which faced Mark Johnson last year. As millions of TV viewers from across the globe watched on, not to mention the world’s assembled elite athletes, it was the passing on of a flame that would decide his fate. Fortunately for him the Olympic cauldron, built by his firm near York, passed with flying colours and he is now gearing up for further moments under the world’s glare next year, as he tells BQ. Meanwhile, business media may sometimes be accused of being male dominated for whatever reason – I know I certainly witnessed this in a former life working in the Gulf region. But in the UK also this is all too often the case. Perhaps it’s a reflection of gender imbalanced sectors. But there’s certainly no shortage of trailblazing women in Yorkshire’s entrepreneurial space, and in this issue we hear how a number of them have turned outdated prejudice on its head. Take Farzan Khan for example. She was pushed down the entrepreneurial route after

struggling to find a job that would give her the flexibility to raise children – and the result is a storming success in the retail market. While not an entrepreneur, Joanna Robinson is redressing the lack of women in senior manufacturing roles and then some, with big plans for the Bradford firm she recently became MD of. Read on for these and many more stories of entrepreneurial endeavour and a fair dose of insight on what 2014 has in store for Yorkshire businesses. Andrew Mernin, editor, BQ Yorkshire

CONTACTS room501 ltd Christopher March Managing Director e: chris@room501.co.uk Bryan Hoare Director e: bryan@room501.co.uk EditorIAL Andrew Mernin Editor e: andrewm@room501.co.uk Design & production room501 e: studio@room501.co.uk Photography KG Photography e: info@kgphotography.co.uk Chris Auld e: chris@chrisauldphotography.com sales Katie Davies Senior Sales Executive e: katie@room501.co.uk t: 07977 567478

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, December 2013. room501 Publishing Ltd is part of BE Group, the UK’s market leading business improvement specialists. www.be-group.co.uk

THE LIFE AND SOUL OF BUSINESS

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YORKSHIRE EDITION BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


CONTE BUSINESS QUARTER: WINTER 13

a breath of fresh air in ventilation

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Features 18 The heat is on Businesswoman’s slimming ‘hot pants’ take weight-loss industry by storm

32 bright spark The man who put fire in the belly of the London 2012 Olympics

40 breaking the mould One woman’s determination to make her mark in a man’s world

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

44 Sweet dreams Entrepreneur creates a chocolate-lover’s paradise in the heart historic city

52 Crisis? What crisis? Why Santander believes it has emerged untainted by banking scandals

58 FLYING HIGh Airport executive reveals ambitious plans for expnsions

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Games glory boy going for gold

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TENTS YORKSHIRE EDITION

36 commercial property

Deals, developments, moves and expansions from across the county

48 insight Esh Group dares to be different in its approach to corporate responsibility

Regulars

62 wine Andrew Wallis gets in the mood for a trip abroad with two top wines

punching above their weight

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64 motoring 06 on the record Michelle Beckett’s mission to support a hard-pressed charity

08 news Who’s doing what, when, where and why here in Yorkshire

The head-turning ‘Bond’ car that delivers miles of smiles

74 fashion Barbour’s journey from fishermen to the world’s fashionistas

80 bit of a chat With BQ’s backroom boy Frank Tock

16 As i see it How to future-proof your business in the IT department

Sophie’s choice is a sweet success

82 events Important dates for your diary

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44 BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


ON THE RECORD

WINTER 13

Michelle Beckett at Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

>> An enterprising approach to volunteering Michelle Beckett’s mission is to support the hard-pressed charity and third sector by helping them access the expertise of the business community. Andrew Mernin reports While David Cameron’s Big Society dream may be treading water its theme has been grabbed with gusto by one Yorkshire businesswoman. Harrogate-based Michelle Beckett took over as managing director of the Skill Will social enterprise in September and has embarked on a drive to make it a national - and international - brand.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

Founded in 2011 Skill Will has so far relied on the generous support of the 14,000-strong Yorkshire Mafia business network, with members of the network offering staff for a day or two a year, generally to help with the cleaning and maintenance tasks. But Michelle believes there is much greater scope to utilise the core business skills inherent

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in these organisations, such as finance and marketing. She said: “A lot of charities I would work with would get frustrated with people being sent in just to paint the walls or mend a fence and it’s something I sympathised with. “So I thought, why not use our accounting, marketing and strategy skills, and all of the


WINTER 13

other business skills to make charities more efficient?” Prior to joining Skill Will Michelle had worked in recruitment in Yorkshire for several years and had helped organisations in the third sector, including Skill Will. She said: “I can’t really afford to give much to charity and I’m pretty rubbish at painting a fence, but I thought I’d love to volunteer. “I’d often looked, but there was no real facility for doing that, so I started volunteering my skills as a social media trainer to charities, going into a couple of charities initially for half a day, just helping them get Linkedin and Twitter set up, and really giving benefit and it felt so good to do that. “So almost from a selfish point of view I guess, because giving feels good, not for pure altruism, it actually makes you feel good about yourself and your skills. “So I really bought in to the concept of Skill Will and started volunteering and helping out with the networking events. “At that time Skill Will was mainly focused on matching small businesses with charities at regular networking events.” Michelle continued: “So I came on board, knocked on the doors of the corporates essentially to get sponsorship for fundraising.” This new approach did not go unnoticed She continued: “There has been some feedback from clients when I ran a networking event in my first week and they said they thought I was too feisty for the third sector! “So I’m on a bit of a learning curve myself, but then I thought unapologetically ‘what am I to do? I need the big corporates on board, I need to be able to knock on doors and say will you help, sponsor, or place your staff on a volunteer programme?’ because, if I was to be shy about it, then there wouldn’t be a Skill Will to benefit the charities.” Michelle has been pleased with progress and speaks warmly of how it has helped charities, which are struggling following rounds of cuts in funding from central and local government. She continues: “I placed a consultant to work with Simon on The Streets. They are a Northbased homeless charity and initially it was just to go in for a two hour strategy session to help the director, who had just taken over, and give her a few pointers and a bit of mentoring.

ON THE RECORD

“This consultant came away and said, right, I’m committed to two afternoons a month for the next year and she then secured the charity £50,000 worth of IT support through the network. “So they’ve got an enormous amount of value and when they added it up, if this was to be paid for, the work that we’ve done is about £70,000. If you think about those savings, that could pay for support workers to go out and deliver to the service users. So they are over the moon.” “Aside from what we deliver into the charities and the soft benefits for the individuals there are all sorts of other softer benefits for business. “For example, I think 92% skills-based volunteers said they were more likely to recommend their employer as a brilliant place to work if they had access to a skills-based volunteering programme. “If you’re being released for two or three days a year to give your skills to a charity you are going to feel a bit more warm and fluffy really.” The waves Michelle is making in Yorkshire are spreading far and wide and fit in with her ambition to make Skill Will an international brand. “I’m already getting enquiries from all around the UK. “We even had the Home Office on the phone

fast. So I need to get a team under me as quickly as possible.” At the moment Skill Will is headquartered in Leeds. Michelle’s aim is to have three to four regional offices around the UK, and then start to grow internationally. After years in the recruitment and social media arenas Michelle says her skills and knowledge are a perfect fit for Skill Will. “The elements of the job which attracted me; events management, public speaking, selling to corporates are all things I’ve done for years and I’m really enjoying it. “The best bit is that I’m utilising skills I’ve had for years in business, which are now delivering real, measurable results for charities.” Michelle is now looking at developing corporate sponsorship packages and wants to get some celebrities on board. “We can really get the brand pushed out and get as many businesses as possible in the UK involved. “I don’t miss recruitment and I’m delighted as I feel I have found what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.” Michelle’s enthusiasm for the benefits of Skill Will for both businesses and charities is infectious. And she even has plans to see these efforts make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. She mused: “I decided to turn Skill Will into a verb a few weeks ago. I was driving down the

There has been some feedback from clients. In my first week they thought I was too feisty for the third sector, so I’m on a bit of a learning curve myself recently talking to me about putting some of their graduates on a corporate volunteering programme. “So instead of just classroom-based leadership and management development, our rota has been placed within charities and not-forprofits so they can really cut their teeth on consultancy projects effectively. “We’re getting so much interest from around the UK; we are really going to have to grow

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motorway and thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a name for skills-based, pro-bono type volunteering?’ But that’s clumsy in the way it’s worded. It would be better if it could just roll off someone’s lips with “who do you skillwill for?” or “will you skillwill for me?” With Michelle’s energy knowing no bounds it is not inconceivable that “skillwill” could become part of everyday speech. n

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


NEWS

WINTER 13

Demand soars for dream cars, 100 jobs created by care provider, Yorkshire and Humberside’s high-growth boom, £10m wind turbine fund to help farmers, government neglects ‘forgotten army’ firms >> Carpet firm has it covered Carpet and flooring firm Victoria PLC has announced the proposed acquisition of Globesign Limited, the parent company of Cleckheaton-based Westex Carpets. Geoff Wilding, executive chairman of Victoria PLC, said: “Westex is one of the finest carpet manufacturers in the UK and I am very pleased Victoria has been able to reach an agreement with the directors, all of whom will be staying with the business for a minimum period of five years.” John Shirt, Joint managing director of Westex Carpets, said: “We are really excited to be joining the Victoria PLC Group. “There will be no changes to the existing sales, production and administrative operations at Westex following the transaction. Westex will continue to operate its own brands within the Victoria PLC group, maintaining the same level of high quality service for its customers.” The shareholders of Globesign were advised by a team from Yorkshire law firm Gordons, led by Head of Corporate James Fawcett.

>> Reward on the rise Christo Wiese, one of South Africa’s richest men, is forecasting further growth for Yorkshire lender Reward Capital, of which he is a major backer. The billionaire, who is reported to be circling department store chain BHS, owns 71% of Reward Investments, which operates asset based lender Reward Capital alongside invoice discounting facility provider Reward Commercial Finance. “We remain convinced of the very considerable potential of Reward which, in an environment of restricted lending by the UK banks, is creating a niche for itself,” said Mr Wiese. He said that Reward remained “highly vigilant” of clients defaulting on payments and that, as a result, the company had not incurred any bad debts.

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

Sales Force! The new additions to Oracle Finance, which takes the team to 36

>> High earners consult Oracle for supercar finance deals Demand for supercars among Yorkshire’s high earners could be on the up if the increased workload of one regional finance firm is anything to go by. Oracle Finance, which is based in Knaresborough and has offices in London and Glasgow, has hired 12 new employees, taking its workforce to 36. The company is the country’s leading provider of finance to the luxury car market, and each year underwrites some £250m of funding. The recruitment drive comes on the back of a record October and a 20% increase in business. Oracle Finance managing director Peter Brook said: “2013 has been a very significant year for our company, and boosting our sales force by 33 per cent is a direct result of the sheer number of enquiries we are handling combined with repeat business from our existing customers. “The new additions to the Oracle Finance team will ensure we are able to retain our high level of personal customer service and help our clients drive away in their dream car.”

>> Crown creates 100 jobs Yorkshire-headquartered care provider Crown Care is opening its 11th residential care centre in Selby, comprising 74 bedrooms and creating 100 jobs. It will cater for all categories of care, including residential, nursing, dementia, permanent, specialist and respite. The company also has planning permission for homes in Knottingley, Wakefield and Ponteland, Northumberland, which it hopes to build in 2014. Last year Ladhar Group

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care homes changed its name to Crown Care and is undergoing a rebranding at existing homes, while continuing to build new facilities, as it seeks to become a more significant player in the UK residential and nursing care sector. Group director Michael Ladhar said: “While many building projects have stalled due to the recession, we have continued to invest, creating homes and care centres to the highest possible standards for our residents and guests.”


NEW PARK COURT BARRISTERS CHAMBERS COVERS A WIDE RANGE OF SERVICES INCLUDING: • Mediation • Employment • Commercial/Chancery, Construction Dispute Resolution • Court of Protection • Employment • Environment • Professional Negligence

>> Growth plan unveiled An entrepreneur’s new global recruitment solutions business, XCL Management, has received a £200,000 funding boost thanks to Finance Yorkshire. The Holmfirth-based company, which was set up three months ago by David Gallagher and his son Ewan, specialises in management and director level recruitment for civil engineering, waste management and renewable energies, pneumatics and hydraulics, and financial services. It will use the investment from Finance Yorkshire’s Seedcorn Fund to hire specialist consultants, open new offices, develop the company website and progress a digital marketing strategy. As well as Holmfirth, XCL operates from Wakefield and Manchester and plans to expand into the London market next. David, 62, who has worked in the recruitment industry for over 30 years, is well known for setting up Prime Time Recruitment, which he opened with six offices in 1992. By 2007 it had 130 branches.

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ISSUE TWENTY THREE: AUTUMN 2013

CRASH KING

High tech firm soars despite 200 air crashes

BIG IN JAPAN

How to take your products further

DRIVING THE DRILLS Keeping the oilfield talent flow moving

ISSUE NINETEEN: WINTER 2013

BRIGHT IDEAS The consultant who lights up people’s lives MERCY MISSION Businesswoman donates skills to the third sector

ISSUE TWENTY THREE: AUTUMN 2013: NORTH EAST EDITION

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GOOD SHOUT Fast-growing digital empire picks up the pace

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READY FOR TAKE OFF Executive aims to broaden airport’s horizons WIND OF CHANGE

Woman who’s a breath of fresh air in a man’s world

HOT PROSPECT

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ISSUE FOURTEEN: WINTER 2013

RULE CHANGING Legal niceties that could arise

Mum’s burning ambition to revive textiles industry

SOMETHING CRAFTY Frothy ways to change tastes

SHOESTRING CINEMA

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

Scots film-makers show how

LEGENDARY TRIMMER Haircutter with soul and spirit

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NEWS

WINTER 13

>> Director in buy out Marine safety and equipment supplier International Mining and Marine (IM&M), of Sheffield, has undergone an MBO on the back of a seven figure finance package from HSBC. The company has been acquired by existing director and general manager Mark Westerman, who has increased his stake in the business from 25% to 87.5%. Company founder Alan Justice will retain a 12.5% stake.

>> Region’s soaring success Yorkshire and Humberside is home to the highest proportion of high growth companies in the UK, and the number of enterprises has increased in the past year, new figures show. The latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index report shows there has been a 0.4% rise in the number of enterprises in the past 12 months, making Yorkshire and Humberside now home to 150,725 enterprises. The proportion of high-growth companies in region – mid-sized SMEs recording a turnover of at least 33% in the past three years, as well as 10% year on year growth for a minimum of two of these years – has also shown an increase of 38.5% from 2011 to 2012. A quarter of companies in Yorkshire are considered to be highgrowth, making it the region with the highest proportion of these types of companies in the UK. This chimes with findings from the most recent Centre for Cities Small Business Outlook, which identified Grimsby as one of only three cities out of the top 10 with the highest startup rates outside the greater South East, along with Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The Entrepreneurs Index panel attributed success in Yorkshire and Humberside to a reversal of the manufacturing exodus as the UK becomes more competitive due to wage inflation in the Far East. This Entrepreneurs Index is the third in an ongoing series, and the first to track activity levels throughout the UK of the entrepreneurial life cycle, including start-ups, growth and share sales. However, the report reveals that Yorkshire and

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

(l to r) Richard Moran, Mark Burns and Roger Hutton of Clarion

>> Clarion calls shots as rival law firms struggle Leeds law firm Clarion has put in another strong performance with a third year of double digit growth. Since launching six years ago, Clarion has quickly established itself as a leading player in the Yorkshire legal scene at a time when many law firms are struggling. Clarion grew turnover by 16.5% in the 12 months to 31 May 2013, increasing from £8.4m in the period to £9.8m. Mark Burns, managing partner, said: “Clarion is an innovative, ambitious law firm with vision. Since our launch, we have worked hard to differentiate ourselves by our entrepreneurial approach and real understanding of the needs of our clients and this approach is paying off. “Our solid financial performance has enabled us to invest in prestigious offices as well as continuing to develop the team. While there have been some improvements in the economy, the legal market continues to be very tough and we expect to see further consolidation amongst our competitors. “Our strategy going forward is to continue to provide practical, commercial solutions for valueconscious clients. The mix of services we offer is working well with our business, corporate recovery, private client and litigation offerings all continuing to grow.” Clarion has a 100-strong team, including 18 partners, and last year relocated to refurbished 15,000sq ft offices in Elizabeth House on Queen Street, in the heart of Leeds’ business district.

Humberside saw a 17% fall in the number of active, growing companies recording share sales in the past year to 404, which could reflect potential investors being selective and Yorkshire and Humberside’s entrepreneurs waiting for more favourable conditions to sell.

One in four firms in Yorkshire and Humberside are ‘high-growth’

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>> College invests in skills A £10m investment in Leeds City College will enable it to build a new home for engineering, manufacturing and electrical provision. It is one of 50 colleges throughout the country which is set to invest millions in building modern facilities after two further rounds of government capital investment unlocked £488m. This development will address higher level skills shortages in mechanical engineering in the area.


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NEWS

WINTER 13

>> Firms stronger together Prominent Yorkshire law firms Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley and Denison Till have joined forces. The merger between Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley, of Leeds and Sheffield, and York-based Denison Till took effect on 2 December. The merger of partners and staff means the newly-created enlarged firm will trade as Lupton Fawcett Denison Till and will have approximately 280 staff with more than 140 executives. This makes it one of Yorkshire’s top law firms, with first year turnover expected to exceed £18m.

>> Planning for growth Law firm Chadwick Lawrence has sold its personal injury book to Slater & Gordon. The business, marketed as Yorkshire’s Injury Lawyers, was launched three years ago and now aims to accelerate its growth plans, particularly within conveyancing and employment law.

>> Striking the right chord Gear4Music.com, an online retailer of musical instruments and equipment, is set for 50% growth, with an increase in turnover from £12m to £18m forecast in its current

financial year. The Yorkshire company, which employs 100 staff, was founded in 2003 and has continued to grow at a rapid pace since receiving a £3.4m investment by Key Capital Partners (KCP) in 2012. As well as a growth in sales, the company has moved into larger 135,000 sq ft premises on the outskirts of York to further expand its logistics capabilities in the UK market and continental Europe. The company has also launched an updated responsive design website, to optimise customers’ viewing experience. The site works across mobile and desktop devices and operates in 16 languages to better cater for its international customers.

Musical instrument and equipment retailer, which employs 100 staff, has grown at a rapid pace following a £3.4m investment in 2012

(l-r) Steve Milner and Mark Woodward of Earthmill

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

>> Airline’s new route Leeds Bradford Airport has announced a new direct route to Copenhagen from March 2014, providing passengers with a gateway to Scandinavia for the first time. Flights, operated by Scandinavian Airlines will run two days a week – Monday and Friday.

>> New name at Armstrong Watson Armstrong Watson has announced that Mark Ranson has joined the firm as a restructuring partner. Ranson, a chartered accountant, has significant experience of restructuring companies, and groups of companies, whether robustly solvent or in distress. As a licensed insolvency practitioner he has acted as administrator of businesses as diverse as hotels, engineering specialists and quarries.

>> New business club Prominent Yorkshire businessman Keith Madeley – aka mryorkshire.com – has announced the formation of a new business club for Leeds. Trinity Club Leeds will launch in February 2014. www.mryorkshire.com

>> Fund promises farmers risk-free power Wetherby-based wind turbines business Earthmill has announced a new fund that will finance up to 100 wind turbines on UK farms. Demand for the turbines from the farming community across the UK has soared in recent months as power costs continue to climb, while deadlines reducing levels of government incentives draw ever closer. “We have secured over £10m of backing to fund the installation of new super-efficient turbines with no cost to the farmer or landowner,” said Mark Woodward, of Earthmill. “The fund is open to any farmer who has land suitable for turbine installation and has the capability to connect to the National Grid.” He added: “The launch of the fund eliminates any financial risk to the landowner. Everyone still has the option to buy a turbine outright and we will install and connect it to the Grid, but this opens up green energy as a revenue stream to many farmers who previously chose not to invest in the technology. The installation of a small-scale wind turbine can reduce the farm’s electricity bill by as much as £40,000 a year for high energy users as well as provide a rental income for 20 years.” There are currently over 500 live applications by farmers to install individual or twin farm-scale turbines on UK farm land. This latest boost for the industry will enable more farmers to enter the energy market, bolstering dwindling farm revenues and reducing sky-rocketing energy bills.

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WINTER 13

COMPANY PROFILE

Mapping the ideal social network for your business Social media can be an extremely powerful tool in helping your business to ‘get the word out’ – at a very low cost. However, using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for your business is very different to using social media in your personal life. It’s now less about making friends (or showing off how many friends you have) and telling people what you did at the weekend, and more about providing useful, shareable information about your business to the right people. Word of mouth potential is the focus when deciding who should form part of your social network. Are the people you’re linking with going to be interested enough to share the information about your business? Are they going to be able to pass it on to the right people? You should always have your ‘ideal customer’ in mind – are the people in your network going to be in contact with your

ideal customer and will your ideal customer listen to them? It’s therefore all about quality rather than quantity with your business’ social network. Having thousands of followers on Twitter is great, but if they’re all friends of friends who are never going to be a customer of yours, or are never going to share your messages, then your information will never get to the right people. Once you have your ideal network in place, your next focus should be on creating interesting content that they’ll want to share with their own network, pushing the message further and further and putting it in front of more potential customers. To find out more about mapping your social network or creating interesting content, join us at one of our FREE masterclasses across the region – see www.sfny.co.uk for a list of upcoming dates.

Find out more about making social media work for your business as well as a range of other useful tips and tricks as part of the next Superfast Business Success event taking place on Thursday 6th February at Solberge Hall in Northallerton. For further information on the FREE Superfast North Yorkshire business support programme and how your business can get involved, please visit www.sfny.co.uk, call 0845 002 0021 or email enquiries@sfny.co.uk.

Time for a change? Talk to a law firm that means business In business, in life; imbedded in our DNA is a desire for quality and care. We aim to walk in our clients shoes – listening first to understand your world and then working on your terms, becoming your trusted advisor. To provide a complete service we are committed not only to your immediate problems but also your long term goals.

- Extending your global reach, providing access to local knowledge - Protecting your ideas, data, products and designs - Supporting your property portfolio - Wealth management and succession planning (putting the right structures in place) - Assisting with your cash flow management

Tel: 0113 246 0622 www.clarionsolicitors.com

Expect More


NEWS

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>> Following the leader Accountancy firm PwC’s Leeds office has announced it is increasing the number of places it will offer next year for its ‘Shadow a Female Leader Programme’ following the success of the scheme this year. It offers university students the chance to shadow a female partner or director for a week. The aim is to promote accountancy among women, giving talented students a chance to gain an insight into the firm. The students attend meetings, engage with clients and learn what it’s like to work within a leadership role. In the past six months, five students have taken part in the scheme and all have been offered the opportunity to return as an intern or full-time employee.

>> Feeding on success Goole-based animal feed maker Yorkshire Feedstuffs is plotting out its future expansion on the back of a £3.2m finance package from Santander. The company was established in 1996 and has since grown its annual turnover to £45m, processing nearly 30,000 tonnes a year across four product lines. It now plans to increase production on its heat treated blends, allowing the business to gain a cost advantage against its competitors and increase margins, while the funding will also assist in the purchase of new premises.

>> Fears for ‘forgotten army’ Grant Thornton says the region’s army of medium-sized firms, many of which are in the manufacturing sector, have outperformed the market over the past five years, contributing £270bn to the economy in 2012 nationally. Despite the success of mid-sized firms, the business advisory firm has described them as a “forgotten army” that has been deprived of any real government support. New research shows that mid-sized businesses (which typically employ between 50 and 499 people) grew 5.4% compared with 0.7% for SMEs and 2.4% for large companies between 2007 and 2012.

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NCI Group IT Director, Craig Astbury, with Ogilvie’s Emma Lennon

>> NCI goes for growth with help of IT partner Insurance and vehicle recovery business NCI has boosted the capacity of its Harrogate HQ as it looks to create 50 new jobs and plots exponential sales growth. The PLUS market listed business, which has posted a 400% sales increase in the last three years, expects to grow its turnover from £16m to £20m in the current financial year ending April 2014. By 2015 it expects to grow its workforce from 90 to 140 and, in the longer term, grow it up to 250 as it pursues its goal of becoming a £50m-a-year enterprise. Ahead of its anticipated growth, the company has invested in a new telecoms system which has significantly increased its callhandling capacity to meet growing demand for its services. The firm enlisted its long-time IT partner Ogilvie Communications to install the new Samsung system. It means the group’s base on Victoria Avenue now has the technology infrastructure to facilitate 250 members of staff. Software supplied by Ogilvie also enabled the firm to install a network of screens displaying key information to help staff manage their workload and performance.

>> Gas expansion Gas analysis equipment firm Analox Group is planning to double the size of its engineering design team next year, creating up to nine new jobs at its North Yorkshire base. The Stokesley firm is working on a number of new projects for which it needs to expand its manpower.

>> Two minute wonders A new series of events has been launched for ambitious SMEs and social enterprises in Yorkshire keen to grow their organisations. Haines Watts and performance improvement specialist Velresco will run a monthly series of ‘two minute micro-lectures’ over 12 months. Velresco will cover a key business

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concept in two minutes, followed by an interactive discussion, primarily for SMEs and social enterprises, around what these really mean for them, how to apply and improve on these concepts in real life, and how to find out more about the topics.

>> Just the tonic for gin firm Masons Yorkshire Gin is stocked in the prestigious London Gin Club, and is now available nationwide having partnered with distributer Gordon and McPhail. The company has been in business for just six months and uses Harrogate spring water, and is distilled using a traditional copper alembic; a process that has been used for generations to create the most premium of fine gins.


GOOD FOOD, GREAT WINE...

...AND ALL THAT JAZZ ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY EVENINGS. Christmas and New Year at

The New Ellington Hotel, Bar & Restaurant 23-25a York Place • Leeds • LS1 2EY www.thenewellington.com • info@thenewellington.com • 0113 204 2150


AS I SEE IT

WINTER 13

Is Your Head In The Cloud?

You wouldn’t use a 10-year old mobile phone, so why would you want to use a soon to be out-of-date version of Microsoft software?

A hot topic in the world of technology at the moment is the End of Life Support in 2014 for Windows XP, Exchange Server 2003 and Office 2003. It’s a big worry for many companies and the first question everyone asks me is ‘What does this mean for my business?’. Without worrying people too much, I always start with security as attackers are ready and waiting to take advantage of unsupported software and hardware. Computers all around the world will be in danger of security threats such as harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software, even anti-virus software

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will not be able to fully protect a PC or server once the support stops. Another associated risk worth mentioning with these soon-to-be unsupported products is that certain businesses may no longer meet regulation or industry compliance requirements; this can lead to a suspension of certifications and a public notification of the business’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information, causing a major impact to a company’s reputation. With the ever-developing advancements in technology and with the looming end

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of support, there is a huge opportunity not only to upgrade but to enhance and improve business performance. My personal recommendation would be to move forward and utilise existing IT infrastructures, by either transitioning over to virtualisation or taking the next step further into ‘the cloud’- like they say ‘out with the old and in with the new’. To explain further, virtualisation would allow companies to run multiple virtual computers on a single physical server by sharing the physical resources. The benefits of virtualisation differ slightly depending


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on the business environment. Take a single server deployment, for example, currently one application is reliant on a single piece of hardware, so if another application is needed, another server would also be required. However, if there were a virtual solution in place, this additional hardware investment would not be necessary. Virtualisation is more flexible and environmentally friendly, efficient to back up and fast to restore, allowing businesses to recover quicker and continue trading with minimal downtime. Cloud computing, on the other hand, provides an on-demand service which allows businesses to move their current IT servers into a virtual space, freeing up important floor space within the office. With more availability, faster connectivity and a larger access to internet bandwidth, the cloud is the way forward for companies wishing to pass on the management of their IT. Together with increasing communication and lowering price points, the cloud will soon be an effective and efficient option for many businesses, offering the added bonus of extra security. Companies can be reassured their data is

AS I SEE IT

I predict within the next five to ten years there will be a significant shift in the way IT is handled

fully protected as cloud vendors take security very seriously. Just one incident could result in the destruction of their reputation and their entire business. Although the option to transfer over to ‘the cloud’ is fitting for many businesses, there are still a few who, in the present day, will not find it suitable. I am not saying that in a few years this may not change. However, currently there are drawbacks for some businesses. For example, a certain amount of bandwidth is needed so if your business has limited internet, accessing your data can be tricky

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and will need additional investment. In summary, I would strongly suggest now is the time to jump on board with the rising tide as I predict within the next five to ten years there will be a significant shift in the way IT is handled. In a similar way to the transformation of the internet, virtualisation and cloud computing will soon be the norm for businesses throughout the UK. n Dave Helm is Sales & Marketing Director Of Blue Logic Computers Limited

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ENTREPRENEUR

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in association with

Hot pants could save rag trade Businesswoman Farnaz Khan likes things ‘done yesterday’, believing one key trait of an entrepreneur is impatience. The mum-of-four with a new global success story under her belt, took time off to speak to Andrew Mernin Having had four children and launched two successful businesses by the age of 33, Farnaz Khan now wants to help save Bradford’s worldrenowned textile industry. Never one to shirk a challenge, Farnaz believes her most recent business venture will be the springboard to achieve this ambition. Launched earlier this year Fit Britches – a revolutionary female undergarment which helps women lose weight – has got off to a searing start, being featured on TV and in the national press. Farnaz explained how it came about: “I had my fourth child in 2009 and struggled to regain my pre-pregnancy figure after giving birth. At the same time, my family had yet again arranged a big family wedding just

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after I’d given birth and I hated looking at the photos of myself. “I tried every kind of dieting and fitness, like boxercise, pilates and swimming, but they didn’t tackle the right areas of the body. So I started doing more research, because Google has been my best friend throughout my business life. “Through all the research I found clear symmetry between heat and weight loss. If you think about it, when you go to the gym it is all about raising your core body temperature. That increases your circulation and increases your metabolism and you end up losing weight. ‘OK I need to get heat to those areas’, I thought. “My first prototype was to wrap myself up in cling film and wear big knickers from M&S.

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“My husband was wondering what I was doing in the bathroom every day. Getting stuff on and off was quite challenging. Mr Singh at the corner shop was wondering why I was buying so much cling film. My excuse that I was making sandwiches was running thin! “The last straw was when I turned up to a wedding and mum asked why my dress was making such strange noises? “In principle I believed the theory was going to work. I had to do something about it.” Over the coming months Farnaz beavered away on the idea, consulting world-leading textile experts at mills, factories, and universities at home and abroad. She continued: “The world of technical textiles kind of had me hooked, similar to my >>


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XXXXXXXX ENTREPRENEUR WINTER 13

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ENTREPRENEUR earlier journey with the internet. “When I started discovering the innovations in textiles it really got me excited about it, and all the different things I could do with it. I managed to find a way of infusing heat and many other things into textiles.” Farnaz designed prototypes, wore them, and went down from a size 14 to an 8 now. Family and friends started noticing the transformation and asking how? But Farnaz wanted to refine her invention and enlisted a Brazilian university to help. She continued: “Trials were carried out on women between the ages of 20 to 60. They were told to make no changes to their diets or lifestyle. They were advised to use the product for six hours every day and we assessed them at 30 day intervals. We found conclusive results. “The average volunteer lost between 4cm to 6cm off waist, hips and thighs, saw an 11% improvement in cellulite, a 16% improvement in skin elasticity and collagen, and 92% in blood microbe circulation. “When we got the results back we thought – ‘now, we are ready for the market.” After working with a major European retailer Farnaz thought its emphasis on price was to the detriment of the product and so went the online route, with the product sourced from a factory in Italy. Business is now booming, but if it hadn’t been for the money she was making from her first online business eResponse, and her online marketing and e-commerce expertise it may have been different. She continued: “All of the work setting up Fit Britches has actually been self-funded. I have taken a ridiculous amount of money from the other business eResponse.” Farnaz’s skills in e-commerce had seen her seconded as a British representative on a digital mission to New York in 2010. She said: “I participated in round tables with the likes of Pepsi and Nokia. We were predicting that social and mobile were going to explode. This was back in 2010, just look where we are now.” eResponse is now a well-established online marketing operation securing high quality leads for major retail and service companies. It works with the likes of Ipsos Mori, Orange,

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Gemma Collins from The Only Way is Essex described them as amazing. She was raving about us Ladbrokes, Next and the RSPB. Farnaz explained how it all began: “My journey in business kind of started off accidently. At the time I wasn’t really thinking about business. “I’m on my fourth child at the moment but going back to 2000 I was on my second and what I was searching for was flexible employment. “I had a successful spell in financial services but was looking for flexible employment because one of my sons was actually born with a kidney condition. I needed flexible employment because the possibility of him having surgery and being in and out of hospital was very real. “I was practically registered with every single agency in Yorkshire and what I found was that I’d get shortlisted, go into interviews and then I’d shoot myself in the foot saying ‘yes, I’m a mum of two’. ‘I’ve got a son with such and such a condition’, ‘I need flexibility but hey I can hit all your targets’. “I found upfront didn’t work for me, because to them you’re a woman of child bearing age, you’ve got responsibilities, and you are a liability.

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“So after two years of looking for full-time, flexible employment, I thought it is time to do something for myself. That’s when I started thinking about business.” After being offered deferred financial support from the Prince’s Trust for an e-commerce idea Farnaz decided to crack on and do it herself. “I’ve been told one of the traits of being an entrepreneur is that you have no patience. I certainly don’t have any. I want things done yesterday. “My plan was to run promotional campaigns and develop a commission-based model for advertisers to connect with consumers. “I tested the model with an insurance litigation firm. I ran campaigns for them and 18 months down the line we realised that we were contributing to 25% of this company’s turnover and they were growing rapidly. “Then we worked with a loans company. I worked up a campaign, through my general online portal, generated fresh prospects for them, cleansed and then verified the leads before they got sent to the client. When we did a review with the client they said we were actually one of their top performers. “At that point I knew my model was working but I didn’t want to limit myself to financial services. I started approaching other companies. We got Ipsos Mori, one of the largest market research organisations, on board. We were able to secure other clients like Next, RSPB, and Orange, and it kind of snowballed from there. “We had 1.5 million consumers who opted in online and had annual revenues of £300,000.” Farnaz says platforms like the internet, email and social media have been instrumental to her success. These helped with the launch of Fit Britches earlier this year and within days of the distribution of a press release and samples Farnaz was contacted by ITV This Morning. She continued: “Gemma Collins, from the Only Way is Essex, described them as amazing. She was raving about Fit Britches. It was a fantastic launch for us.“ Since then the product has been featured in most glossy magazines, newspapers and trade publications and, driven by bloggers, Fit Britches has gone viral. It now has customers in over 50 different >>


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BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


ENTREPRENEUR countries and is launching in the US in January. Farnaz is continuing to develop the product and ranges and is now looking at medical and male applications and further developments around micro circulation. Farnaz mapped out her vision for taking the business forward. She said: “We’re also looking at bringing manufacturing back to the UK. We’re going to bring it back to Bradford. “Bradford has actually got a very, very rich textiles heritage. One hundred years ago it was one of the richest textiles industries in the world. It’s really unfortunate to see all of that gone. “We’ve got this heritage here, and we’ve got this knowledge that needs to be transferred to people who want to work within the sector, but we’ve only got a window of eight to nine years left. “Mary Portas, the TV retail consultant, said we’ve got people in pockets within the textile industries, in cities and towns like Nottingham, Bradford, and Oldham, with experience. “But these people are reaching an age in their life where we’ve only got about eight years to utilise the wealth of their experience and knowledge and transfer that to young people to work in the industry. “If we don’t use this window of opportunity now it will go. It’s hard to pull these people back once they’ve gone into retirement. “We’ve got to do something about getting that knowledge and transferring those skills to people right now.” Her success with eResponse has led to many awards including Yorkshire Enterprise diversity award and female entrepreneur of the year. Fit Britches currently employs around 10 people and Farnaz hopes this will grow as she brings production home. The business is currently grossing around £300,000 per year and is up for a best shape brand of the year award in the prestigious UK lingerie awards, with TV adverts planned for next year. Farnaz hopes to take revenues past the £2m mark by the end of next year and says she hopes to grow the business to £100m by the end of the decade and then hopefully sell it. For someone who likes things done yesterday you sense tomorrow cannot come soon enough for Farnaz Khan. n

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Investing in entrepreneurial spirit Neil Sengupta, partner in Grant Thornton’s entrepreneurial tax team in Leeds, comments: “It’s fantastic to see brave new entrepreneurs like Farnaz emerging who, with the right support and advice, can transform their innovative ideas into viable businesses which create jobs and help the regional economy to flourish. “Working with these young, dynamic businesses is one of the most exciting parts of our work. “As a firm that prides itself on our understanding of entrepreneurial business owners, we are only too aware of the importance of investing in relationships, giving robust support in the early stages of development and providing a tailored services as it grows. “Much of Yorkshire’s reputation for manufacturing excellence is built on its long heritage in textiles, so it’s even more pleasing to see new business initiatives coming through in this sector, particularly ones which use new technologies.”

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

Employment and employability As we approach the end of 2013 there are very definite signs that economic recovery is taking hold across the country, indeed the Chamber’s own research has been reporting increasing levels of business confidence in our region since the early summer. As confidence improves we are seeing increased recruitment activity as company owners are more able to make investment decisions with a higher degree of certainty that they will deliver expected returns. In the three months to September we reported that 47% of companies with 10 or more employees in our region had attempted to recruit staff. Despite this recruitment activity youth unemployment in Leeds is 22.8%, above the national average. In his report ‘Education & Employers’ Dr Anthony Mann, Director of Research and Policy at the Education and Employers Taskforce stated, ‘Among the reasons why young people are disadvantaged in the labour market is that they often, in comparison to older workers, lack the skills, experience, job-seeking insights and networks relevant to available jobs.’ Our young people find themselves stuck in the vicious circle of no experience to get a job but can’t get the experience in order to get a job, so how do we break the cycle? Employers frequently tell me that they need to bring new blood into their organisations not just to facilitate growth but increasingly to replace the skills of older workers as they retire. Despite this demand many companies struggle to recruit young people sighting a range of issues that can best be summed up as ‘Unprepared for the world of work’. In recognising that this statement does not refer to all, clearly there is a breakdown between what employers need and how we are preparing young people. Schools are now charged with

providing careers advice and guidance following the closure of the national service; however I am regularly told that the quality of this provision is patchy with some schools providing an excellent service and others less so. With school resources increasingly stretched is it fair to expect such an important role to be delivered in this piecemeal fashion? Fortunately companies are recognising that they have to be part of the solution and I see increasing interest in education – business partnership activity. For example, here in Leeds the Chamber,

Youthful experience of unemployment is widely agreed to have a ‘scarring’ effect on the lifetime prospects of an individual, being linked to lower levels of employment and earnings through life.

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working with the City Council and Leeds City College helped to create the Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency with the private sector taking a prominent role on the board. This organisation was set up to help smaller companies take on apprentices even to the point of employing the young person on behalf of the company. Another great example is social enterprise Ahead Partnership’s ‘Make the Grade’ programme which is helping enormously in assisting companies to work with schools and young people. The programme enables companies to help young people develop the team working, communication and problem solving skills that are so important in life and which employers are crying out for. Organisations like ASDA are playing a key role in making these programmes realistic and business focused, their challenge to schools to invent a new flavour of ice cream proving extremely popular. Quoting Dr Anthony Mann once again, ‘Youthful experience of unemployment is widely agreed to have a ‘scarring’ effect on the lifetime prospects of an individual, being linked to lower levels of employment and earnings through life. Moreover, youth unemployment is uneven, with concentrations in particular geographic areas increasing the risk of wider negative social consequences’. Business has to play its part, not because it is a nice thing to do but because it is vital in securing the future prosperity and growth of the region. Mark Goldstone, Head of Policy & Representation Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

Skills development, career progression opportunities and the ability to develop leaders from within, are the key drivers of a productive and ambitious workforce, says Asda CEO Andy Clarke. As someone who left school with few qualifications, Asda CEO Andy Clarke has a pretty good idea of the challenges being faced by young people in the job market today. But his rise to the helm of the organisation, which started on the shop floor, serves as a shining example of what can be achieved in a career in retail and what opportunities are available for those young people willing to work hard to grasp them. “I am passionate about building a business that is focussed on inspiring and developing our talent, due to being a direct beneficiary of companies that have done just that in the past,” he says. This inspiration and development takes many forms, but the result is a thriving workforce, a relatively low staff turnover and numerous tales, like Andy’s, of rising stars who’ve worked their way up Asda’s hierarchy and enjoyed hugely rewarding careers. Here Andy shares his thoughts on skills development, building a motivated workforce and Asda’s role in tackling youth unemployment: Does the retail sector still carry the same opportunities for advancement as it did when you first started? Much more in fact. The sector will always be focussed on buying and selling, yet the pace of change in technology and society, alongside economic shifts, has fundamentally transformed customer behaviour and expectations. In retail we’ve had to develop and change to satisfy our customers’ needs with online and convenience now the main channels of growth in the industry. By consequence, the level of opportunity within the sector has exponentially increased as retailers evolve their businesses in light of these changes. Are there are misconceptions among young people about just how varied career in retail can be? Unfortunately there are some common misconceptions, but I believe it is an industry responsibility to properly communicate the diverse range of opportunities a career in retail can provide. For example individually, as a company that serves nearly 20 million customers a week, we require a mature business structure that

includes major services such as legal, accountancy and HR, but I believe only a minority of school leavers actually recognise this. I recently did a talk to Year 10s at a local school in Leeds and was surprised at how ill-informed they were about the opportunities available to them beyond the shelves of retail, yet encouraged by how inspired they were when I spoke about the range of retail roles on offer including buying, marketing, distribution and legal. Does Asda have a role to play in driving down youth unemployment? There is a real role for businesses like ours to get closer to the education system. Businesses should take the opportunity to partner with schools and colleges to help shape students’ learning and development, so that school leavers are adequately prepared for the world of work and aware of the opportunities out there. We have to get out of the mind set of the choices being university or straight into work, and we need to do a better job of helping youngsters to understand all the opportunities available to them. We offer work placements to young people to help give them a taster of what life in retail is like, but there is more to be done here. At Asda, we are also looking at ways to use our space and people to help nurture young entrepreneurs, whether that’s through listing new product or providing space in our large stores for concessions or sampling. What are the biggest challenges you face in bringing talented graduates into the business? We have a very successful graduate programme that has seen hundreds come into our business across retail operations, trading, finance, HR, marketing and more recently e-commerce, with many going on to take senior leadership positions in our current business. As for challenges on maintaining a strong flow of talent into ASDA, I believe it’s still the same recurring issue of correctly articulating the scale and diversity of opportunities on offer within our business. Does your link with Walmart in the US aidyour ability to develop and attract talent? As part of the biggest retailer in the world, in 26 markets with over two million colleagues,, senior leaders, store managers, buyers and marketers

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regularly move from ASDA to do secondments across the world, sharing their experience from the UK and returning with an international perspective. Having access to the phenomenal resource and experience that Walmart provides has been invaluable to our business and colleagues. As an industry leader, the focus of consistent and personalised development and offering global perspective and mobility has matured our management quicker than we would have achieved without their guidance. Is the clear signposting of opportunities within Asda an important part of skills development in the organisation? Creating an environment that provides and encourages opportunities, within a culture that supports development for all our colleagues at any level, is built into our Asda values and part of our long heritage. All levels of leadership in our business have the responsibility to communicate and support the development of their direct colleagues through a regular appraisal and ‘stepping stones’ process, where we have allotted a specific amount of time to discuss next steps and coach that colleague. We also launched a set of colleague pledges for the first time (Fairness at Work, Pride in ASDA, Respect for each other and Opportunity for all), which creates a standardised internal benchmark for our colleagues to hold us accountable against to ensure ASDA as a business is delivering for them. Is mentoring an important part of skills development at Asda? Mentors have had a profound effect on my own career and personal life which has made me a huge advocate of nurturing these relationships, but it must be a considered approach. Mentors and mentees are only successful relative to their personality and a natural chemistry that must exist for the relationship to be productive for either party. When right, a mentor can challenge your perspective on an issue or an opportunity, making you consider alternatives or disrupt your stability which is always productive.

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

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People power, a clear focus on progress and an international outlook are among the many reasons why Asda director Craig Bonnar has spent his entire post-university career with the company, he tells BQ. When 19-year-old student Craig Bonnar handed his CV into his local Asda supermarket, he was applying for a mere Saturday job to fund his university days. But instead he opened the door on a fast-moving 20-year career culminating in his role of a Director of Asda’s small stores portfolio. Craig, who started out stacking shelves at Asda’s Kirkcaldy store in 1993, has since climbed the ranks at the supermarket giant and today looks back on a varied and fulfilling career path in the groceries world. He’s had numerous roles along the way, including store manager, Regional Operations Manager and Head of Central Operations “Retail’s always been a great place to be to allow you to learn a broad range of skills because it’s a people business first and foremost,” he says. “As you’re dealing with people every day, it stretches your emotional intelligence, your mental capacity and your ability to work with others in a team. These are skills that will stay with you whichever sector you may go on to work in.” For Craig, who holds a Masters in Economics, it was Asda’s graduate scheme that helped propel him towards the upper echelons of the company. And this great tradition of attracting the best young talent and investing in developing it remains today. “We take graduates into a number of departments each year, whether that’s in retail or central functions like finance and property. “The aim is to bring people with talent that fit our business culture, with the right attitude, and then develop their skills. “When I was starting out and applying for graduate schemes, it became evident that the culture here was significantly better than anywhere else in the sector. And so I made a decision that this was something I wanted to be a part of.” So is that culture as strong today as it was

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when he first began his Asda journey? “The bed rock of our culture is exactly the same. We are a people business we look after our own colleagues, take care of the customers and strive for excellence in what we are doing. Those core beliefs, are what set us apart in terms of culture.” Before taking up his current role, Craig served as Operations Director for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

When I was starting out and applying for graduate schemes, it became evident that the culture here was significantly better than anywhere else in the sector. And so I made a decision that this was something I wanted to be a part of.

A highlight during this time was his involvement in Asda’s community work. “When you work in an Asda store you really have to get to understand the local community it serves. When I worked in Scotland, there were some areas of real deprivation on the West Coast and so we looked at how we could help. This then became a plan for the whole of Scotland and we raised nearly 1 million pounds worth of donations, to put back into deprived areas supporting ‘Cash for Kids’. We also looked at how to support local jobs and tackling youth unemployment.” Meanwhile, a key factor in the longevity of Craig’s

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Asda career has been the encouragement given to him by the company to progress and develop. As part of this personal development push, Craig has been able to spend several weeks training alongside senior staff members from Asda’s American parent company Walmart at Harvard University in Boston. “That was a fantastic opportunity which really opened my eyes and broadened my thinking. That programme is in its second year now and it’s really gaining momentum.” “I learnt some really important lessons there on a leadership basis around how to run a business by looking at the impact competition can have and creating steps for success. From a product prospective, a market prospective and an organisational prospective, the formal education was outstandingly good. “I’m very clear now that my job is to set the right goal and to do everything I can to support and deliver it.” Alongside access to world class training courses, mentoring is also an important part of the staff development journey at Asda. “Sometimes it’s just about giving someone the confidence to progress to the next level,” says Craig, who himself now mentors up-and-coming individuals within the organisation. In terms of his day-to-day role, though, Craig is focused on overseeing the ongoing growth of Asda’s smaller stores in the shape of Asda supermarkets and petrol filling stations. “Asda supermarkets are now a fundamental part of our multi-channel offering and going forward I’ll be working to develop and enhance operations at these stores. It’s an exciting time.” As it has been for Craig throughout the last 20 years.


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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

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COMPANY VIEWPOINT

Since shifting his career goals from accountancy to the retail industry, Feroz Patel has enjoyed a hugely varied journey up through the ranks at Asda, as he explains to BQ. Ignoring scepticism from family and friends, Feroz Patel turned his back on a likely career in accountancy in favour of the retail industry After a part-time stint on the shop floor as a student, his ambitions changed and he decided that, despite his soon-to-be-completed Business and Accountancy degree, the grocery business was for him. “Everybody around me thought I was mad for going into a retail career,” he says. “But the prospect of working with people and really making a difference appealed to me more than accountancy. “With accountancy you are working on your own most of the time - I had no intention of forging a career in the retail field, but I just caught the bug.” Feroz’s potential was quickly spotted when he joined Asda and before long he was on the graduate scheme, which opened the doors to an upwards trajectory through the organisation. “My first two appointments were department management positions. That was a great grounding in learning how to manage yourself, manage colleagues and deliver the truth to a colleague at the right time. In other words, how to celebrate when someone’s doing a good job and, if they’re not, identify why and give constructive feedback to help their development. His career path saw him progress to a project manager’s role working under Asda’s operations director at the time. “All the directors have an opportunity to take on a project manager and so I was given various tasks to do for the operations director, who I shadowed

to gain an insight into their world. “It gave me an understanding of how to balance strategy and tactics and it showed me how to get the best out of people, how to inspire and energise, but equally manage performance “At Asda, your performance is measured by not

My first two appointments were department management positions. That was a great grounding in learning how to manage yourself, manage colleagues and deliver the truth to a colleague at the right time. In other words, how to celebrate when someone’s doing a good job and, if they’re not, identify why and give constructive feedback to help their development.

and carried out the role successfully in four different stores He later became Regional Operations manager of the Manchester area – looking after around 20 stores - before taking up his current role as Head of People for Superstores So, looking back over his Asda career, does he have any regrets about steering clear of accountancy? “I certainly wouldn’t swap this for accountancy. Throughout my Asda career all the roles have been varied and challenging in different ways, which keep you busy and engaged until the next challenge comes along - you don’t get time to think about a different career because the work is so varied” And for young people who may themselves be weighing up their options just as he did in his student days, Feroz says the retail sector is well worth considering. “It’s varied, it’s exciting and very rewarding. Yes you have to be hard working, resilient, and confident. But you learn every day and each day, with experience, you become better than you were the day before.”

only what you achieve – but how you achieve. So it’s very important to learn how to lead well.” Having gained valuable leadership training from his time as a project manager, Feroz then returned to a store-based role, as a People Manager. He then progressed to become a store manager

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ENTREPRENEUR

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games glory boy going for gold Helping to stage one of most spectacular Olympic Games in living memory, Mark Johnson has become a shining beacon of entrepreneurial success. Andrew Mernin caught up with him as his company, Stage One, prepares to enter its latest year of growth In the world of sport focus is now shifting towards Brazil as it prepares to host the World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016. However, many of the images associated with last year’s glorious Games in London still burn bright in the memory. Whether it be Usain Bolt burning up the tracks, Mo Farah winning gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, or Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy cementing their positions as Britain’s most decorated cyclists, last year’s games will be remembered for a host of unforgettable moments. Burning brightest of all may be the lighting of the Olympic cauldron itself during an opening ceremony that instantly silenced detractors and whet the nation’s appetite for a fortnight of awe-inspiring competition. However, what few perhaps outside Yorkshire will know is that this icon of summer 2013 was in fact built by a band of pioneering engineers and mechanics on a remote business park in Tockwith, near York. Following its involvement in the Games, the company – Stage One - is now preparing for the most successful year in its history after securing contracts for the forthcoming winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, with its turnover already jumping from £12m to £20m this year. So it’s safe to say that, for chief executive Mark

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Johnson, last year’s lighting of the Olympic cauldron represented the ultimate squeaky bum moment. “It was pretty nerve wracking,” Mark says. “I had seen it lit in a test event but it had been kept wrapped up in rehearsals. None of the athletes had seen it and it had only three or four tests before the big reveal.” Mark has come a long way since his first entrepreneurial foray into fabrication as a fully apprenticed, mechanical engineer in Leeds 28 years ago. That business, formed out of the ashes of redundancy, was followed by a creative career twist when he joined forces with old school friend Jim Tinsley, who was then working as chief technician at Leeds Playhouse. The pair then decided to go it alone under the banner of Hangar Services, purchasing the plant equipment they needed and moving into their current premises in Tockwith. Mark says: “We were doing staging, set engineering, small automation jobs and scenery building for things like the touring version of Tosca, Carmen and other big name performances. Then we started to move into the corporate events world after starting work with a client called Stage One. ” It was following the company’s merger in

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1998 with Stage One that it began to realise the potential of large scale fabrication and automation in public events. Although the company had already begun to work overseas on larger scale projects, it was the contract for the 2004 Olympics in Athens that really made people sit up and take notice. Mark says: “We had worked across the globe previously on many projects, the General Motors Roadshow and other car launches being a particular example. However, Athens 2004 was on a completely different scale for us. The organisers decided that they wanted a much more creative approach to the opening ceremony than in previous years. This included bringing a massive 17 metre sculptural head out of a lake, which then split into 18 parts.” It is Stage One’s ability to adapt to their client’s unique specifications that has helped shape its success over recent years, with no problem too big or obscure. “In the corporate world projects are more run of the mill, but every show’s got something unique,” Mark says. “For example we are handling parts of the set for the upcoming Sports Personality of the Year Award, which we have done for a number of years. However, they want a completely different set this year. You’re always having to >>


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ENTREPRENEUR

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ENTREPRENEUR

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Stage One won a Queen’s Award for Industry for cable net technology. Here, the Red Arrows fly past cables used in the 2012 opening ceremony

If someone comes up with a problem, no matter what it is, whether it’s a build or automation problem, we’ll try to find a solution reinvent the wheel.” In terms of a unique and challenging build and delivery, there are few that beat the London 2012 Olympic cauldron for sheer scale and theatre. Following Stage One’s impressive work in Athens and also the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where it created the London bus used in the handover ceremony, it was chosen to bring to life Thomas Heatherwick’s artistic design for the 2012 cauldron. The design represented an entirely new approach to what could be achieved with an Olympic cauldron, with 4,780 individual components, including 204 copper petals each attached to fully automated stems. It was a design that represented a unique challenge for Stage One. Mark says: “There were a large number of mechanical tiers within the cauldron, with lots of moving parts. It’s quite a simple design but it’s held within a very compact piece of machinery. It’s a bit like in

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The company’s acclaimed London 2012 cauldron

Intricate creations at the Asian Games in 2006

an old typewriter where all the keys come together. Put it this way, we spent a lot of time getting the timing and automation sequences right.” The cauldron wasn’t the only element of the Olympic vision that the company was able to stamp its mark on. Additional creations included the Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge, the Beach Volley Ball court at Horse Guards Parade and water wheels and beam engines during the Victorian industrial revolution segments of the opening ceremony. The company even helped 32 Mary Poppinses fly across the Olympic Stadium using ‘cablenet’ technology - an aerial system involving cables which enabled creative ideas like manufactured rainclouds to be realised during the ceremony. “The cablenet together with the flying and automation of things is one of our biggest innovations,” Mark says. “Flying the 32 Mary Poppins performers used a similar piece of

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engineering to that used in the 2004 Olympics and saw us win a Queen’s Award for Industry for continuous innovation in cablenet and engineering technology.” So, how do you follow up playing such a major part in the greatest show on earth? Well Mark and his team are certainly giving it their best shot, with a pipeline of contracts that includes top secret work for next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia and closer to home, a major project at the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds. The ability to handle a huge variety of projects, from the small scale to the extremely large, has seen the company grow its turnover from £10m two years ago to a projected £20m this year, with additional growth expected in 2014. Greater demands from contractors for bigger and more outlandish public displays, combined with huge advancements in modern technology, has allowed Stage One to sustain its growth over recent years, with


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entrepreneur

An impressive display at London’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013

Pushing the boundaries at the Athens Olympics, 2004

the company almost unrecognisable from the one formed in the 1998 merger. However, it is a constant strive for innovation that has always been at the heart of the business. Mark says: “We’ve got a basic core traditional skills layer at the top and as much machinery and modern production technologies as possible in support. Our designers have become much more sophisticated in what they can draw. The further we push the boundaries of technology, the further the designers are able to push theirs. The more complicated things become, the harder it is for other companies to catch us up.” The firm is now looking as far ahead as 2022 and to the World Cup in Qatar as it grows its reputation in new markets. It currently employs almost 100 staff, with six of those based at its offices in Australia and others at its bases in Russia and Qatar. “Our Qatar office has two people who are working on sets and scenery,”

The Serpentine Gallery summer pavilion

Stage One’s Olympic Rings for London’s Tower Bridge

Mark says. “We’ve worked out there for the last 10 years, which includes our work for the 2006 Doha Asian Games, and we have used this base to tender for local engineering and infrastructure projects. We’re targeting the whole Gulf region, although not Dubai as we have to admit that we may have left it a little late to join that market. We’re aiming for a slow build in that region so that we’re in place for future contracts like the 2022 World Cup.” With the company currently investing heavily in research and development, including the introduction of its own R&D centre, it looks well placed to succeed in its lofty ambitions. The company has already identified 3D printing as a key growth area and is actively working with other firms to see how it can be integrated into its current business model. “3D printing has huge potential for the company,” Mark says. “We are already working with some of the 3D print

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suppliers and have ambitions to use it in our architecture. Normally things like complex sculptures or pieces of architecture would have to be hand crafted or carved if it’s at full scale. If you’ve got a complex 3D curve going in multiple directions, we can print that rather than make a mould, which speeds up the process and allows us to find innovative solutions for a variety of problems.” Finding solutions for problems is the mantra of Stage One and one that has helped it to remain competitive as others have entered what is a niche, yet constantly growing market. “We’re a problem solving business,” Mark says. “If someone comes up with a problem, whether it’s a build or automation one, we’ll try to find a solution to fit the bill. Obviously, we can’t build a space shuttle and send it into orbit, but we could build you a stunningly accurate replica and make it appear to take off and land. It’s all about innovation.” n

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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

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Sales double as Leeds property market takes off, Media Centre becomes a magnet for growth, Savills retains its place at the top, office take-ups bounce back, firms enter into ‘sweet’ partnership >> Prime spot sells for £7.3m Investment group CBRE Global has bought 2 The Embankment in central Leeds from a private investor for £7.3m. Colliers International advised on the deal for the property, 37,000 sq ft of which is let to Kelda Group Ltd (formerly Yorkshire Water Plc) until April 2019 at an annual rent of £733,000 or £19.90 psf. The property is located 250 metres south of Leeds Railway Station and overlooks the River Aire. Nearby occupiers include Eversheds, BT, Asda and RBS, and the recent KPMG pre-let at the Sovereign Street Development is directly opposite the property. Meanwhile, the Leeds office of global property consultancy Knight Frank has been appointed to market the refurbished Grade A office accommodation at Yorkshire House in the heart of Leeds. Yorkshire House has just undergone a £3m refurbishment, creating some of the finest Grade A office space in the city. The iconic seven-storey building, which dominates Greek Street and East Parade in the heart of the professional and financial core of the city, is owned by the Hansteen Group of companies. It is available for occupiers to lease now.

£3m refurbishment of Yorkshire House has created some of the finest office space in the city >> City property booming A marked upturn in the fortunes of the Leeds city centre property market has been recorded, with sales in the city doubling this year. A new report from Jones Lang LaSalle shows sales and lettings in the city are on the up,

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>> Media Centre proving a magnet for growth Five new companies have taken space at the Round Foundry Media Centre in Holbeck Urban Village (HUV) in Leeds, with enquiries for offices at the digital hub doubling in the last three months. The Media Centre is currently home to more than 100 creative and digital companies. Paul Taylor, director of Creative Space Management which acts as both managing and lettings agent on behalf of landlord, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), said: “The upsurge is partly due to a number of senior staff, formerly employed by larger companies, feeling confident about the opportunities within the market and, as we come out of the downturn, setting-up their own enterprises or new business units. “The Media Centre is a magnet for high growth companies as the product is designed precisely for this market with its mix of serviced spaces, high-speed internet and flexible letting agreements, creating the perfect conditions for SMEs which are key to boosting the economy in the region.” An example of this is The Shopper Agency, a specialist shopper marketing company – and part of the global network The Valley Group, which has moved its team into an office in the Media Centre.

with enquiries rising 50%. It also highlights the chronic shortage of available stock. Saxton remains Leeds’ only new build development on the market, with Marshall CDP submitting planning for a mixed-use scheme containing 77 apartments on the Calls Wharf site, and Taylor Wimpey submitting a revised application on the Green Bank site Meanwhile, yields stand at 6.5%, with an

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average one bed flat costing £110,000 and renting at £575 per month and an average two bed costing £140,000 and renting at £750. The report attributes the impact of the Government’s stimulus measures such as Help to Buy and the Funding for Lending Scheme together with an increase in buy to let and parent purchasers as helping to significantly


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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

improved the sales market. Guy Ackernley, head of residential in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Leeds office, said: “Heightened sales activity and two new planning applications suggest better times ahead. “The market perception for a number of years has been that Leeds was suffering from an oversupply. However, the reality is that a lack of new stock is proving to be an issue for would-be buyers in the city centre. With many units locked into the rentals market and with no new development starts in recent years there is now a chronic shortage of apartments to let and buy.” Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that more than 43,000 new homes must be built in northern England every year to keep pace with demand, though just half this level is currently being completed. The highest number of additional homes needed is in Yorkshire and the Humber, with forecasts suggesting that 18,000 new homes are required every year, shortly followed by the North West with 17,500.

>> Law firm relocates Intellectual Property (IP) law firm Kempner & Partners has moved into larger premises in Leeds after what it describes as the busiest period in its fouryear history. The firm has relocated from its offices in Roundhay to larger premises at Fountain House on South Parade in the heart of Leeds city centre. Headed by leading IP lawyer Richard Kempner with partners Jason Dainty, Stuart Jackson and Martin Delafaille, the practice now has a total of 11 specialist IP lawyers, and is continuing to grow. Its 200-strong client list includes Asda, Costcutter, Farrow and Ball, BASF, Jet2.com, Regus, EMAP and JD.

>> Sweet deal for partners Yorkshire-based civil and structural engineering consultancy JPG has been appointed to advise on multi-million pound redevelopment plans for the iconic former Terry’s chocolate factory site in York. The appointment follows recent announcements to progress development

>> Consultancy lands city centre appointment The Leeds office of global property consultancy Knight Frank has been appointed to market 9 Bond Court, in Leeds city centre. The firm joins retained agent Savills. The instruction comes in the wake of the acquisition of Bond Court by Cordea Savills, on behalf of a client, from F&C REIT Asset Management for £12.4m. The building, which comprises 68,230 sq ft of top-quality office space, is multi-let to a number of professional firms including Stewarts Law, Redmayne-Bentley, Begbies Traynor and Knight Frank themselves. It is about to undergo a multi-million pound refurbishment.

when property firms Henry Boot Developments and David Wilson Homes signed a joint deal to buy the 27-acre site on Bishopthorpe Road. The partnership plans to build 270 new homes alongside new offices, hotels and shops and recently secured critical planning consents to allow a start on site. JPG has been recruited as a key partner for the construction processes and has been instrumental in the assembly of the tender team. It will oversee key feasibility assessments and deliver structural reports to support necessary demolition and listed building retention/restoration requirements. Chris Harding, director at JPG, said: “We are

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delighted to be retained as a key advisor for such a prestigious development. Of course with its famous heritage and valued aspects the site is not without its challenge.”

Plans to build 270 new homes, alongside offices, hotels and shops

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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

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>> Savills retains top spot Growth in Yorkshire has helped Savills to retain its UK number one position in trade publication Estates Gazette’s annual Top Agents Survey. The firm’s 13% increase in UK turnover from £352.3m in 2012 (based on 2011 financial year end) to £399.1m in 2013 put it ahead of Jones Lang LaSalle, CBRE and Knight Frank who were placed second, third and fourth respectively. Paul Fairhurst, head of Savills Leeds, said: “In Yorkshire specifically we have seen a more positive economic sentiment which is creating an increase in confidence and a greater demand for property from both occupiers and investors.” The EG Top Agents Survey highlighted some positive figures overall for the industry with more than 70% of agents reporting an increase in turnover for 2012. Expectations for 2013/2014 are even more upbeat, with almost 90% forecasting a rise in turnover for the current financial year, compared with 57% in 2012. The collective turnover reported in the survey totalled £2.3bn, against the £2.28bn last year. In addition to ranking number one in the EG Top Agents Survey, Savills retained its first position for the tenth consecutive year in Property Week’s top property services firm survey by turnover in June this year.

>> Retail park’s £30m boost New opportunities and jobs are being created in a £30m, 98,000 sq ft retail park extension in South Yorkshire. Helical Retail says it will create 250 new jobs in what will be the final phase of development at Cortonwood Retail Park near Rotherham. This follows the granting of Planning Consent after an appeal inquiry for an extension to the existing retail park, owned by Black Diamond Investments Ltd. Cortonwood Shopping Park, the new £30m extension, will comprise open A1 retail units and restaurants. Helical expects to be on site early in 2015, for trading prior to Christmas 2015.

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>> Building leased to law firm sells for more than £10m A 47,000 sq ft office building, which is home to law firm Walker Morris, has been sold in a property deal for more than £10m by agents Jones Lang LaSalle and Stephenson Day. Kings Court, a seven-storey office building at 12 King Street in the centre of Leeds has been acquired by an overseas private investor from Westgate Management Ltd (on behalf of a Swissbased private trust). The sale price represents an 8% net initial yield. The property, which was constructed in 1989 in line with Walker Morris’ requirements, is let to the Leeds based solicitors at an annual rent of £891,000. Walker Morris recently indicated a further commitment to the building by signing a reversionary lease to extend their occupation until December 2019. 

The extension will bring more quality retailers to this vibrant destination and create jobs

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Company representative Adrian Russell said “The existing Cortonwood Retail Park is already very successful and includes Morrisons, Next, Argos, Asda Living, Boots and B&Q.  We are very pleased to be working alongside the landowner, Budenny LLP, to build the extension. It will bring more quality retailers to this vibrant destination and create much needed jobs in the area.” Edgerley Simpson Howe is the letting agent for Helical Retail on the scheme.


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>> Flint Hyde opts to buy Executive search group Flint Hyde has bought 21 York Place in Leeds and will now move from its rented premises at The Bourse. Commercial property group GVA completed the sale, with Flint Hyde planning to let the unoccupied space to other small businesses. Matthew Tootell, director of national markets and offices at GVA, who negotiated the deal, said: “The Leeds office market is showing positive signs of growth and we’re happy to see that there is still great demand from small and expanding businesses looking to make the move into owned property.” Knight Frank acted on behalf of Flint Hyde in the deal.

>> Office lets bounce back Office take-up across the UK regions is expected to rise significantly in 2014, with Savills latest Regional Office Market Report predicting a 17% increase. The international real estate advisor notes that this increase will be predominantly driven by a return to larger grade A lettings (over 50,000 sq ft) throughout the regional markets towards the end of 2013 and during 2014. Leeds has recorded 107% increase in take-up so far in 2013 compared with 2012, the report says. In comparison, Birmingham saw a rise of

For landlords, investors and developers with well located sites and buildings, there are great opportunities ahead

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

128% with Manchester, Bristol and the M25 witnessing a growth of 43%, 31% and 10% respectively. Savills research confirms that more traditional office occupiers such as the professional sector is showing some bounce back in the regions, with Leeds showing 28% of take-up comes from the professional sector. However, the report also highlights that the technology, media and telecoms sector, which has seen exceptional growth in Central London, has also gained momentum in the regions this year, accounting for the most take-up in Leeds at 34%. Paul Fairhurst, head of Savills Leeds, said: “We have not only seen a large number of requirements in the regions move forward this year, but anecdotally there is a widespread sentiment that UK businesses are doing better and that headcount growth, leading to an increase in the level and size of new enquiries, is going to come forward shortly. “The concern for occupiers is that there is relatively little quality office space currently available for them to chose from and unlike other sectors, most notably retail and industrial, office occupiers more traditionally consume speculatively built vacant product than pre-let or build to suit. For those landlords, investors and developers with well located sites and buildings, there are great opportunities ahead.”

>> Firm makes acquisition Leeds and London executive search and selection company, Flint Hyde has marked its tenth anniversary with the purchase of city centre offices in York Place. The specialist in director and senior management appointments has purchased contemporary offices comprising 4,888 sq ft. The new premises are also home to Flint Hyde’s sister company Vitae Selection. Founded in 2008, the business recruits senior appointments globally across wide ranging markets including consumer, oil, mining and advisory sectors. Both companies jointly employ 25 staff across their Leeds and London locations.

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Recruitment company’s tenth anniversary marked with the purchase of city centre offices >> New premises secured Pullman Fleet Services, a subsidiary of Wincanton Logistics, the largest commercial vehicle maintenance and fleet management company in the UK, has secured new premises at By-Pass Park Estate in Sherburn in Elmet. By-Pass Park Estate is owned and managed by G W Sissons & Son Ltd and is one of the largest single owned industrial estates in north Yorkshire comprising circa 75,000 sq ft of industrial and warehouse accommodation on a site of approx 16 acres. The estate is strategically located just off Junction 42 of the A1(M) motorway providing superb access to both the north and West Yorkshire regions. Pullman Fleet Services has taken on 8,342 sq ft on a five year lease.

>> Property group expands York property company The Helmsley Group has added to its £80m syndicated property portfolio with the acquisition of a mobility clinic and child development centre in Chichester for £1.9m. The 12,024 sq ft Westhampnett Centre is let on a 15 year lease to NHS Property Services which manages the former PCT and Strategic Health Authority properties across England. The Helmsley Group has specialised in syndicating commercial property for more than 20 years. Clients who are either high net worth individuals or sophisticated investors invest in these syndicates and receive a share of rental income plus any future capital growth in return for a minimum investment level of £25,000. The annual yield on the Westhampnett Centre is 6.5%.

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SUCCESS STORY

a breath of fresh air in ventilation

Modernising a manufacturer that’s been in business since the 1860s and getting its long serving team on board is a big ask. And it’s even tougher when you’re the first non-family member and woman ever to be appointed as the boss, as Andrew Mernin discovers

Joanna Robinson this year stepped into Alan Pollard’s shoes to become managing director of Bradford-based ventilation and airconditioning specialist Mansfield Pollard. Now a global success story for Yorkshire, making bespoke double-decker sized systems for banks and hotels worldwide, the business started life working with sheet metal used in the woollen industry. Although the firm has been through a major evolution in the past 150 years, Robinson is aiming to ensure no dyed-in-the-wool attitudes survive to prevent the company achieving its potential. The 40-year-old, who joined Mansfield Pollard back in 2000, admits that being a woman heading a manufacturing firm in the North of England puts her in a pretty unique position. “I would say so,” said Robinson. “Women are a bit more creative and a bit more driven. For me, it’s about modernising a very old company, set in its ways. That’s the way this company is and has been run for a

long time. And it’s been perpetuated because another bloke’s taken over, and then another... “I’ve got two young children – I’m a mother as well. It is difficult and that’s probably why a lot of women aren’t in that position because it is hard. “I’ve never experienced a glass ceiling. I know some people have so I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I have been fortunate and the people I’ve worked for have been superb and I’ve never felt like that at all before.” Leeds-born Robinson left school at 16 with

GCSEs and ended up doing an HND in business and finance, which led to a job as an accountancy junior. She qualified as a certified accountant, worked her way up and joined Mansfield Pollard as financial controller 13 years ago. “The company had expanded between 1995 and 2000 quite considerably and outgrew their existing staff so they decided they wanted somebody qualified,” she said. “From financial controller I was made company secretary in 2005, in 2007 >>

It’s been great - very exciting, very hard, and very difficult. People are the main problem to be honest - getting them to understand where I’m coming from and what I want from them

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SUCCESS STORY

I was made finance director, and then at the beginning of this year, managing director. “We have a board of directors, someone proposed me and everyone agreed so it was quite an easy process really. I was fortunate but I think the fact that I was younger as well – a lot of the company is aging – meant I’m probably the right person at the right time. I’ve just turned 40.” Shaking up Mansfield Pollard’s public image and raising its profile is central to Robinson’s vision. Vision is a word she uses a lot and she has very definite ideas of what she wants to achieve. “We are very team oriented but we have just lacked that somebody in charge saying ‘right,

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we’re going to go in this direction’,” she said. “And because that’s not been my role finance is not that involved in other areas, although I did stick my nose in other areas and try to get involved. People can be very difficult and if it’s somebody else’s responsibility it’s hard to influence what they do, especially when you’re not in any kind of control or a position to do that. The company’s just been going through the motions.” ‘Going though the motions’ has seen the business grow from a £5m turnover at the start of the century to just shy of £13m last year. This year’s figure is around 13 per cent ahead of 2012, which experienced a dip, and around six per cent higher than 2011.

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“We’re hoping to increase turnover to between £18m and £20m within the next three to five years,” Robinson said. “We’ve just rebranded and got a new website and redone all the literature. We’ve got a new logo and a new image, just to try and show off what we do. “We’re very good at what we do and we’ve got a lot of customers that come back to us and have done for a long time. But with very little effort we are managing to grow year on year so imagine if we put a bit of effort into marketing and the image and how we actually think about the strategy and how we grow. We’ve got a lot of growing to do and it’s bound to pay off.


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“I need to raise the profile of the business. I’ve got a new sales and marketing director I’ve hired who is starting in a month and it’s all about going and finding the work. There’s lots of work out there.” Although the majority of the company’s business is domestic, Robinson’s eyes are firmly fixed on the export market. Mansfield Pollard currently has contracts in the UAE and has recently produced a number of large ventilation and air con units for customers in Nigeria and Australia. Its products are also in demand from top hotels and restaurants in Dubai, where the bespoke nature of the equipment – such as the ability to add odour control features to kitchen canopies – is proving very popular. “UAE has been simmering for a few years and in the past year it’s really taken off for us. We’re hoping that’s going to fuel growth elsewhere in the Gulf,” said Robinson. “We are considering moving into a couple of new areas which we are just investigating at the moment like Scandinavia. We’re looking at the areas that want to buy British because we can sell easily on the back of that. British manufacturing I think is quite highly regarded and at the moment there are various countries that are actually positive towards it and looking to buy British.” One of the biggest projects the business has undertaken was a £120,000 stainless steel kitchen canopy for a Russian catering company. Mansfield Pollard is one of the UK’s top suppliers of canopies to the restaurant trade and is aiming to build its share of the market through innovative green product development. Improved fans, motors and lighting in the kitchen canopies, for example, have reduced the equipment’s electricity usage by an astonishing 80 per cent. The company is investing in innovation across the board as part of Robinson’s master plan. She said: “We’ve also got a ventilation department, air handling unit department, which controls the temperature and the freshness of the air, and we’ve got a controls department and a refrigeration department. “Each of these requires someone at the top who’s really technical, or more than one person. We’ve got all these highly experienced people that can all get their heads together

SUCCESS STORY

and usually solve any problem that anybody’s got to do with ventilation, whereas most of our competitors are just a canopy company or a controls company. That’s all that they’ll do. We do everything, so we can get together and solve any problem that exists really.” A key growing market is air con units for data centres housing fileservers, a market that is set to explode in tandem with the growth of cloud computing. “If you’ve just got a bank of severs, a bank of computers, the heat that’s generated from this equipment is immense,” says Robinson. “Once it gets to a really high temperature your equipment can stop working. So it’s really specialist high quality stuff. We are probably one of the dominant players in that market. It is highly technical and again that’s another product we’ve developed that’s very energy efficient.” The company’s newest department, Vibration and Acoustic Control – known as VAC – reduces noise in back-up generation systems used by large financial institutions, hospitals and schools, via a housing system for the generator. “We’ll definitely be looking to create jobs. It’s a highly labour intensive company,” said Robinson. “We’ve got about 130 staff, with 80-90 in the factory. Everything we do is bespoke and manufactured by us.” Taking the helm of the business has been a steep learning curve for Robinson; she is working on her leadership skills and has regular one-to-one sessions with an external mentor. It’s been a tough process to both manage change and translate her vision into something the rest of the team can understand and take ownership of. “It’s been great - very exciting, very hard, and very difficult. People are the main problem to be honest - getting them to understand where I’m coming from and what I want from them,” she said. “That’s the difficult part, getting people to understand what my vision is for the company and making sure that they’re on board and translating.” However, being a woman and the first nonfamily member to head the firm has not been an issue. Predecessor Alan Pollard is

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now chairman and owns the majority of the company. The rest is controlled by the board of directors, which bought out Alan Pollard’s brother in an MBO in 2011. Robinson said: “It’s just difficult stepping up really from being one of the directors. It’s now my vision as opposed to me following someone else’s vision, to get people to understand and get on board with what I want to happen. “There is a lot of pressure, but I think my role is to modernise the company really. We’ve got lots of guys that are highly technical and engineers that are not the most creative people. They haven’t got a great deal of vision. “Just like this room for example,” Robinson points to the boardroom, “renovating and making the whole place a nicer place for people to work, rather than a dirty old back street engineering company. “If you’re going to step up to the next level and you’re going to impress your customers, you’ve got to have somewhere that’s worthy of that. So it’s a modernisation process. “Not just in the site, but the way that we approach everything and the attitude to marketing and selling needs to change. “It is a lot of pressure but it’s exciting and we’re going through the biggest amount of change we’ve ever gone through.” n

We’re very good at what we do and we’ve got a lot of customers that come back to us and have done for a long time. With very little effort we are managing to grow year on year BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


ENTREPRENEUR

WINTER 13

sophie’s choice is a sweet success

Since opening in 2011, York Cocoa House has already become a major visitor attraction in the city and has helped to breathe new life into the city’s chocolate heritage. Andrew Mernin caught up with its founder Sophie Jewett From its winding cobbled streets to its quaint tea houses and market stalls, York is famous for keeping its small town traditions and charms alive. And it is one of its most celebrated traditions and art forms that entrepreneur Sophie Jewett is passionate about preserving; the art of the chocolatier. Less of a shop and more of a chocolate lover’s paradise, York Cocoa House is helping to maintain the city’s longstanding relationship with the cocoa bean. Inside, visitors will find a café, shop and even a school of chocolate to help satisfy their cravings. The venue’s founder, Sophie, is keen to stress that to her chocolate represents much more than a fleeting moment of sweet tasting pleasure. She says: “Chocolate has been a really aspirational product ever since it arrived in this country because of its taste, its combination of sugars and because of the experience you have when eating and drinking it. Really, when

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you begin to study chocolate, you begin to understand society in general a lot more.” Sophie has always had a close affinity with food production, having grown up on a farm following her dad’s decision to leave the corporation he worked for to lead an idyllic life on the Isle of Wight. Sophie says: “When the recession hit in the 1980s my dad left the company he was director of and we ended up sort of living the good life on a little farm in the middle of nowhere. If you didn’t have something in the cupboard to make something with that was in accordance with the recipe books, then you had to improvise or figure out different ways of cooking. That experience made me very resourceful.” Sophie’s physical condition also played a major part in her passion for all things chocolate. Growing up with Crohn’s disease in her teens meant that she gained little enjoyment from

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eating. However, that didn’t prevent her from developing a taste for chocolate. “Chocolate was always something that gave me energy. Eating many other foods left me feeling tired and lethargic. However, chocolate was the one thing that I could always eat.” It seems that Sophie was destined to become involved in chocolate, so it was no surprise that she ended up in the chocolate capital of the North, York, where she studied and eventually worked in events management. Working as an events manager at York St John University, Sophie was able to indulge her creativity on projects such as celebrating the installation of the Archbishop of York as the university’s chancellor. It was after studying a masters in international events management that Sophie began planning her place in York’s celebrated chocolate legacy, following the likes of Terry’s and Rowntree before her. >>


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ENTREPRENEUR Sophie says: “I was coming up to 30 and had been making chocolates for a long time. By 2008 the recession was really starting to affect the jobs market in York, but by then it had become my home and I wanted to do everything I could to stay there. “My idea was to open up a place where people could come to socialise as well as be educated about something. It also had to be somewhere that was welcoming and wasn’t part of all of the snobbery that can often be associated with a lot of chocolate these days.” It’s certainly true that demand for artisan chocolate for the more discerning palate is on the rise. Waitrose recently reported that in the last year sales of milk chocolate had risen by 37% and dark chocolate by a huge 48%. One of the more popular brands, Green & Black’s, reports that one of its best-selling bars, the 70% dark, is sold every 10 seconds. While Sophie is pleased that tastes are evolving from the usual convenience store brands, she is keen to stay away from any sense of elitism when it comes to her chocolate. She says: “When I started out I wanted to explore the idea of matching different types of chocolate to the individual. However, it was important that this didn’t come across as elitist, more that it was about exploring individual tastes.” Starting out as a web based business under the name of Little Pretty Things, Sophie began to spread the word around town by being a constant presence at markets, fetes and other public events, with the occasional home delivery at 4am in the morning. It was in May 2011 that Sophie decided it was the right time to take the business to the next level and approached the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels (YABA) with the idea of the York Cocoa House. Originally pitching for £150,000 to add to the £25,000 small business loan she had secured from the bank, Sophie was offered £2.5m by a collective of five angels to expand beyond a stand alone shop and to develop her idea of a chocolate museum. For Sophie, it was a moment in her life when she had to draw upon her reserves of selfbelief and find her inner entrepreneur. “I was overwhelmed by the offer,” she says. “I consulted my brother, who has a business

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I was overwhelmed by the offer [of £2.5m]. I had to realise that if these people were willing to invest so much in me, the idea must be worthwhile. It was a very strange summer

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in Bermuda, and he helped me realise that this was something that I could achieve. I had to realise that if these people were willing to invest so much in me, the idea must be worthwhile. It was a very strange summer.” Despite the huge offer, Sophie decided to try and make the idea work with her relatively small amount of bank and business finance. “My property agent called me up and said there was a café closing down that I might be interested in,” she says. “It was twice as much as I thought I could reasonably afford, but it was amazing.” Since opening York Cocoa House in November 2011, Sophie has been inundated with memorabilia from York’s chocolate history, including lots of items from the now closed Terry’s factory. Now playing a big part in York’s cultural and historical offering, the business has diversified in a number of ways, including the addition of chocolate making classes, chocolate tasting sessions, and even the chance to enjoy afternoon tea at the Lord Mayor’s dining table at the Mansion House, while learning about the city’s chocolate past. Such diversification has helped the business to become a major visitor attraction, with around 40,000 visitors having been taught the art of chocolate making since its opening. Looking ahead to the future of the business, Sophie is keen to maintain the old world charms that York provides. She says: “We are getting more and more global visitors through our doors, especially from places in Asia. We are finding the taste for chocolate in those countries is growing as their population becomes more affluent, especially in cultures where they don’t consume alcohol. “We have certainly explored the opportunities open to us, with overseas markets definitely something to consider,” Sophie says. “However, at the moment there are easier wins to aim for at home before we look at a franchise model. “At the moment, we are more concerned with putting chocolate at the heart of the visitor experience in York and getting people engaged with it as much as they would the Viking Centre and the National Railway Museum. “The city smells of chocolate most days and

entrepreneur

we want to be a major part of that visitor experience. When you talk about chocolate here it is coupled with family memories of working at Rowntree’s or Terry’s and the camaraderie and social life that came with that. Chocolate is in the blood of most York people; here it’s much more than just a food.” At the heart of the business is an insistence on quality and, however the business expands and develops over the coming years, Sophie insists that it will always put the skill of the chocolatier above all else. She says: “Our chocolate is from Belgium and we’ve also developed a relationship

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with a Columbian based chocolate company, using their ingredients to create some really revolutionary products that have gone on sale nationwide. We combine the chocolate with local flavours and ingredients, with Yorkshire butter and cream used to enhance the taste. “There’s always the option of going down the route of selling in the supermarkets, but we’ve always resisted that as the supermarket is somewhere which is completely devoid of the experience that we are trying to provide. We don’t want to ever produce a product that we’re not happy with, and for us that means everything.” n

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INSIGHT

WINTER 13

Darush Dodds at Thorpe Park Hotel, close to Esh Group’s Yorkshire HQ

Adding value that counts BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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INSIGHT

As a growing force in Yorkshire’s built environment, Esh Group is becoming increasingly prevalent across the county. But, as Andrew Mernin discovers, its influence stretches far beyond builders’ yards and brownfield sites Don’t mention the abbreviation ‘CSR’ on Esh Group territory. For in the corridors of power at the firm – which has its Yorkshire headquarters on Thorpe Park in Leeds – it’s a banned phrase. It is indicative of business box-tickers, says Darush Dodds, added value manager at the multi-faceted construction, housing, infrastructure and engineering group. And his job title is a clue of the preferred terminology at the company. “It is difficult to quantify exactly how corporately responsible a company should be and to who? When it comes to social investment some businesses adopt the ‘pay and display’ model, throwing a bit of money at a community project and then shouting as loud as possible about it through PR channels and in tender submissions. “We try to take a different approach at Esh, proactively supporting students, apprentices, young offenders and community groups in our operational communities, often above and beyond contractual requirements. We deliver such projects at no extra cost to our clients. This is important to Esh Group, it’s in our DNA, and we want to put something back in to communities wherever possible.” A cynic may say, in industries as competitive as those Esh is involved in, talk of added value is essential in standing out from the crowd in the battle for contracts. But, while Dodds believes it can make a difference in terms of contract wins, any businesses engaging in such activities purely for that reason are doomed to fall short and be found out in the tendering process. “We always try to provide added value even if

it isn’t specified in a tender. Since the recession there has been a much greater focus on pricing generally, but at the same time the needs of many of the communities we work with have also increased so we’ve tried not to compromise on our socially responsible activities. In fact in the recession we grew our added value team.” Next year will see Esh Group ramp up its ‘Esh Employability’ programme in Yorkshire. Esh has supported the development of employability skills in schools for 10 years now, working with students to open their eyes to local opportunities, raise aspirations and show the link between curriculum subjects and the workplace. Over the course of the academic year, Esh Group staff and representatives from a number of major employers will deliver employability workshops within the school timetable. Mentor support will also be provided and, at the end of the year, pupils will have the chance to experience the workplace environment and sharpen their interview skills. “Business men and women don’t go into schools to teach, they go there to open students’ eyes to opportunities, to inspire and to act as a curriculum catalyst,” Dodds says. And those business people come from an impressive range of major brands and employers. In all, around 30 companies are on board from a wide range of sectors. In the finance industry for example, Barclays Bank, NatWest and Lloyds are all taking part, while councils, the NHS, Premier League football clubs, recruiters and even the nuclear sector are among the parties represented. Next year the Esh Employability programme

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will be rolled out in Sheffield Park Academy, Richmond High School, Endeavour High School in Hull, Archbishop Holgate in York and Sir Thomas Wharton Community College in Doncaster. This is in addition to Allerton High School in Leeds which Esh has worked with for three academic years. Dodds says: “Our aim is to give young people a better understanding of the workplace and local businesses and also to empower employers to create engagement opportunities. In Yorkshire we hope this results in us developing the workforce of the future through a structured, transferable and sustainable engagement model. It also provides a private sector substitute for programmes previously delivered by local authorities.” This will take Esh’s school total nationally to 30 schools engaging with 6,500 students, this is expected to rise to 50 schools next year in line with projected business growth. With Dodds overseeing the process of encouraging companies to get involved in the scheme, he believes there is a recognition within the Yorkshire business community of the need to improve the employability of school leavers. He also cites research that shows it is making a tangible difference to the youngsters themselves. “Before starting on the scheme 43% of students we surveyed felt they had a ‘poor to average’ understanding of the job application process. Afterwards, 81% felt this had improved significantly. Also, beforehand 51% felt the quality of their CV was ‘below average’ and would not be confident presenting it to a potential employer. On completion, 85% rated their CV highly and >>

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INSIGHT

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‘could not wait’ to send it to employers.” With Yorkshire suffering skills shortages in a number of key areas and many employers looking to increase their intake of new staff next year, the initiative can only be of benefit to the businesses in the county. Meanwhile, Esh is also working to increase employability skills among young offenders and other hard to reach young people using a similar approach to its schools work. Currently around 60% of young offenders who leave custody reoffend within a year according to national statistics, resulting in an estimated £13bn cost to the taxpayer through police, courts and probation activity. On the back of such trends, Esh has created and now oversees a programme called Chance for Change (C4C) which brings together 22 employers and other organisations from across Yorkshire and the North East.“Through regular engagement and positive mentoring, we believe we help to break the cycle of reoffending by enhancing employability and life skills prior to release,” Dodds says. The four month programme was initially launched at Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institute Deerbolt, which houses 18 to 21-year-olds in Barnard Castle near the County Durham / North Yorkshire border. Within the group of organisations who are involved are bakery giant Greggs, Northumbrian Water, Barclays

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and an array of social landlords, many of which are Esh’s clients. Managed by Esh’s added value team, programme is delivered to prisoners in the latter stages of their sentences within the prison itself. It covers workshops delivered by business guests, with prisoners developing an employability portfolio, gaining interview experience and temporary release licence opportunities. “The financial and social cost of reoffending is a big issue, not just with central government but within the communities in with Esh Group operates. Having a track record of engaging with hard to reach and vulnerable groups the C4C programme is the next natural step in our added value evolution.” Alongside its focus on employability, Esh last year launched its new Esh Communities programme in Yorkshire, backed by its Charitable Trust. Esh Communities Yorkshire offers grants of up to £1,000 to neighbourhood groups, organisations and charities across Yorkshire to support new and ongoing projects or services making a difference in their area. With an estimated £500,000 invested every year into its added value services – as well as considerable amounts of people power – Esh is one company that could certainly not be accused of ‘pay and display’ practices when it comes to meeting its social responsibilities. n

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Esh Group, Yorkshire Esh Group opened its doors in Yorkshire in July 2007 under the historic civil engineering brand, Lumsden & Carroll. Within 12 months the company more than trebled a first year income of £3.6m by expanding the range of services it offers and the sectors it operates in. The company now employs over 120 people, with a turnover of £45m in 2013. Chris Walker, divisional director of Esh Construction says: “We have grown quickly in Yorkshire because of our strong reputation for delivering contracts on time and on budget. We enjoy a strong financial position and we are committed to supporting the communities we operate in.” The company works across the social housing, commercial build, education and civils sectors. Both Esh Property Services, specialists in the social housing sector and Esh Build, commercial builders, have shown significant growth in Yorkshire over the past six years. The company recently completed the renovation of The Tetley in Leeds, to create a new cultural space in the heart of the city. Esh Construction’s civil engineering business works with Yorkshire Water to provide reactive and planned repairs to the wastewater network, completing around 12,500 jobs a year, with 6,000 being blockage related. Esh Facility Solutions provides planned and reactive building maintenance across the region and recently secured a major contract with Leeds University.


Why your wealth manager should never stop

managing your portfolio. The issue with investment opportunities is that they rarely stay opportunities for long. Too often one blinks, and they’ve gone. Which is why we at UBS believe in proactively managing your portfolio. It means your client advisor will seek out new investment opportunities, based on the latest market developments. And regularly review your portfolio, balancing and optimizing it, according to your risk profile. But one thing remains constant throughout all of this. Our commitment to meeting your financial goals. And that’s something we’ll never stop doing.

Andrew Aitken UBS Wealth Management 1 City Square Leeds LS1 2ES Tel: 0113 301 8008

The price and value of investments and income derived from them can go down as well as up. You may not get back the amount you originally invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Authorised and regulated by Financial Market Supervisory Authority in Switzerland. In the United Kingdom, UBS AG is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and is subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request.

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© UBS 2013. All rights reserved.


INTERVIEW

WINTER 13

how we punched above our weight

Santander believes it has come through the financial crisis in a stronger position, as Neil Williams explains to Peter Jackson Recent years have not been kind to the banking sector, nor to its reputation. Even as we see tentative signs of recovery from the global financial and economic crisis, for which – unfairly or not – bankers are still blamed, along comes a fresh scandal in the shape of the Co-op. There is, however, at least one bank, Santander, which believes it has emerged untainted and in a strong position, despite the travails of Spain, where it originated and which is the home of its global HQ. In Yorkshire Santander’s regional director of corporate and commercial banking is Neil Williams. He explains: “In the UK Santander is a ringfenced subsidiary and we have a completely separate balance sheet. Santander came through the credit crunch very strongly. There were a few reasons for it. It’s geographically very well spread, we operate across 40 different countries around the world. Spain at the time only contributed 13% of group profit. “The vast majority of its business was with traditional businesses and retail personal customers as opposed to some of the – what in hindsight were – fairly risky investment products which, as soon as there was a problem in America, burnt a lot of the banks.’’ Santander is one of the top 10 largest

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international banks by market capitalisation and has more than 90 million customers worldwide. In the UK, it has more than 1,300 branches and over 25 million customers. Its size and lack of exposure to toxic debt meant it was able to lend to businesses while other banks, frantic to repair their balance sheets, were turning away businesses desperate for support. In Yorkshire the bank has provided more than £1bn of funding to corporate and commercial clients over the past four to five years. Williams says: “To put it in context, the Yorkshire business over the five years has performed better than the Midlands, Wales and even the North West, so we have punched above our weight over that period from a Santander perspective.’’ In recognition of that, he has won the bank’s internal award for regional director of the year twice in that period. “Which shows how successful this region has been against a background that has been quite tough,’’ he says. Santander in Yorkshire has even been lending to sectors seen as being particularly weak during the recent economic downturn. Williams explains: “For instance, we have supported a local residential house builder which historically would have been one of the

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more difficult sectors for banks to support. We’ve also supported pubs and restaurants and hotels. The leisure sector historically tends to be rely on discretionary spend, so as you enter a recession they are the first ones that feel the pinch and they are the last ones to feel the benefit. For us to have helped and supported those businesses is testament that we are open in all sectors and our model serves a purpose in that we really do understand the business.’’ Williams has a team of 50 working for him in corporate and commercial banking across Yorkshire and he is continuing to recruit. In fact, Santander feels it has been so successful in Yorkshire it is planning new offices and will split the territory into two – North and South Yorkshire. Currently, its main offices are in Leeds and Sheffield with people also based in Hull, Bradford, York, Huddersfield and Doncaster. Williams says: “In Yorkshire we continue to recruit. We’ve grown the team considerably this year and next year we are looking to open new offices and continue to recruit high quality directors in various locations. Our plan nationally is to have 15% market share and we are currently at around 6% so the ambition is there. Following the decision to not acquire RBS the bank has the capital on its balance


sheet to fund this sort of organic growth over the next two to three years. It’s about recruiting the right people in the right locations. “The plan is to start moving directors into territories where we are not currently fully represented. Places under consideration for new offices are: Halifax; Chesterfield; Scunthorpe; Harrogate and Scarborough. These are the immediate places that spring to mind.’’ This record of growth is even more impressive given how recently Santander entered the UK corporate and commercial banking market. Santander Corporate Banking was established June 2009, building on more than 40 years of corporate and commercial banking heritage from Alliance & Leicester. Williams was working for Alliance & Leicester’s commercial banking operation in Newcastle in 2008 when he was brought to Yorkshire. “I was given the responsibility of inheriting a small Alliance and Leicester team but then driving it forward under the new Santander banner and that was replicated around the country,’’ he says. “Santander’s strategy was always to build a corporate and commercial bank in the UK and when Santander bought Alliance & Leicester it suddenly had a platform to do that: it had 20 offices, it had a few hundred people, it had a product range, it had some IT, so it suddenly had the foundations at that point which otherwise Santander would have had to build from scratch. “So, as soon as it acquired Alliance and Leicester it suddenly had some capability which it didn’t have previously and at a time when the other banks were starting to batten down the hatches and hit the financial crisis Santander was in growth mode, recruiting people and doing deals.’’ Recruiting people was central to his growth strategy. He says: “For me coming into Yorkshire at >>

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INTERVIEW

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that time, the key was to attract the right people. You are only as good as the people on the ground. “At the time a number of the other banks were changing their strategy and were struggling to lend to and support local businesses, so a number of people joined me who had become somewhat disillusioned with their existing employers and some of the messages that they were having to give local businesses. Over the first six to nine months I recruited a number of really good people.’’ Apart from that, it was a question of going out and winning business. “Then it was a case of just being proactively visible in the market and contacting the various professionals, but, more importantly, clinically targeting businesses across all sectors in Yorkshire to make sure people were aware that we were here and wanting to help.’’ Which sounds straightforward, but, I remind him, this was at a time when the rest of the financial world seemed to be in meltdown, when businesses were going bust because terrified banks could not and would not support them. Surely Santander could not have been oblivious to all that? Williams concedes: “There was certainly a lot of talk in the various meetings we had with professionals and potential clients about the financial crisis, about the impact it was having on our competition. “Interestingly, Santander seems to have sailed through the financial crisis in a strong position. The only real conversation we were having was people trying to understand the Spanish connection and once you have explained the ring-fenced subsidiary and that Spain is a relatively small part – some 15% of the global empire of Santander - then people got more comfortable with us. “It has been interesting to see the strategies adopted by the competition. In the financial crisis all the banks adopted different strategies and our strategy was one of growth and trying to build a business at what was clearly a very difficult time but I believe it has paid dividends locally and also nationally. We have managed to build a fairly strong business in a fairly short period of time.’’ But weren’t they tarred with the same brush as

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other banks and accused of not doing enough to support businesses? “We came through that by using a number of our customers as our advocates,’’ explains Williams. “When you look at the lending growth that we have done: putting over £1bn out to new clients and new customers over the last four or five years and that was funding that wasn’t there before because we weren’t in the market. “People can say banks aren’t lending but I think it’s genuinely quite difficult to point the finger at Santander when we’ve been opening new offices, recruiting new people and we have a number of what we call deal evidences of transactions we have done across all sectors, so we can prove we are doing it. We are able

Santander does its corporate banking through a system of `credit partners’. This means that rather than a banker going to see a potential borrower, looking at the business and then submitting a proposal to the credit department for rejection or approval, credit is involved at an early stage. Williams explains: “If a business wants to borrow anything more than £1m, someone from credit who’s based in Yorkshire will go out with me and my team, meet the customer and work with the customer and their advisors to get the deal approved. They are called a credit partner in that they partner with the business and me to ensure that we do the right things. “It’s good from the customer’s perspective because a lot of the criticism around banks

People can say banks aren’t lending but I think it’s genuinely difficult to point the finger at Santander when we’ve been opening new offices and recruiting new people. We are trying to do the right thing to support the economy to demonstrate with the deals that we did and people locally could see that we were out trying to generate business and trying to do the right thing to support the economy.’’ With all the usual caveats about complacency, there is a consensus that some kind of recovery is underway. Does he see that in Yorkshire? “It’s easier for businesses to do business today than perhaps 12 months ago and it has gradually improved but that doesn’t mean that times are not still difficult because I think they are,’’ he says. “There are some businesses out there that have done the right things over the last four or five years and are in a much stronger position today, so I think businesses that have survived this so far are in a really good position. I think we have been quite innovative or creative or made some tough decisions and are therefore in a better place now.’’

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is that decisions are made by people who have never been to Yorkshire or met local businesses or management and are therefore very reliant on the quality of the director that represents their bank. But those credit partners get to understand the business and get to understand the management and understand the strategic direction and are then able to do the transactions whereas other banks have perhaps not spent enough time to understand. “We have a team of credit partners in Yorkshire but they are a separate team which will normally be completely remote from the customer and from my team. It isn’t just my say-so that this is a really good business. They can say: `I have met management, I’ve had a look at the factory, I’ve checked what they’ve said and actually I really like this’. So, it isn’t just my word for it, it’s someone else’s opinion. “Clearly, it can work both ways and >>


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therefore the bank is managing its own risk in not entering into transactions that perhaps we shouldn’t have done. But then, if we can’t do it, it enables us to articulate why we don’t want to do it at an early stage and perhaps be able to shape it so that we could do it. Customers and professionals think it’s really good.’’ Santander also has its Breakthrough programme to support fast growing SMEs. It includes trade missions, master classes from already successful entrepreneurs, SME summits, subsidised graduate internships and a £200m Breakthrough fund. Williams explains: “It’s for those businesses that don’t want to give equity away because they want to continue to own the business 100%, but are looking for funds a bank wouldn’t normally be able to provide because they would be deemed too risky. Normally a bank would lend up to a point and above that point private equity would come in and you’d have to give some equity away. We have this mezzanine fund which sits between the two,

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Our intention over the next five years is to build an SME business and to become the best bank in the UK for SMEs. That’s why we are trying to grow to a 15% market share. so it’s high risk funding but we don’t take any shares. It’s there to unblock this vicious circle that high growth businesses hit. They can’t get bank funding, they don’t want to give away equity so they slow down their growth.’’ It is through such schemes that Santander aims to make inroads into the SME market. “Our intention for Santander in the UK is to have a business which is 50% retail and personal banking and 50% corporate and commercial. At the moment it’s probably 90% retail and 10% corporate and commercial,’’ says Williams. “So our intention over the next five years is to build an SME business and to

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become the best bank in the UK for SMEs. That’s why we are trying to grow to a 15% market share. Our support for the SME sector is on record from the chief executive.’’ Williams is determined that his team in Yorkshire will make a major contribution to fulfilling this ambition and it will do so by continuing to place its emphasis on people. Williams says: “The people I’ve recruited specifically for this job are those that are best suited to relationship banking, good at looking after customers and trying to deliver as close as possible to what the customer requires. People buy from people.’’ n


TALENT TALK

ADVERTORIAL

THE BENEFITS OF A NON-EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER David Twiddle of Twiddle & Co. explains why more and more entrepreneurs and family business owners are turning to non-execs to fill the skill gaps on their board.

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM ‘NON-EXECUTIVE?’ Forgive me if I’m telling you something you already know, but I thought it would make sense to examine what a non-executive actually is before analysing the impact they can have on your business in further detail. Non-executive directors are differentiated from the other members of your board in that they are separate from your executive management team and not employed by the company itself. Non-executive directors use their skills and experience (as well as a degree of impartiality and detachment) to provide advice and governance useful for developing the company further. Some family-owned businesses feel as though non-executives can often fill the skills gaps standing between them and corporate progress.

David Twiddle, Managing Director of Twiddle & Co.

WHY A NON-EXECUTIVE? There’s a reason why non-executives are becoming increasingly popular with family-owned businesses of late. Family dynamics can be very strong business assets, but a family dispute in the boardroom can prove particularly difficult to resolve. In such circumstances non-executives can provide a cool head and a sense of perspective, helping to provide strategic advice that might otherwise have gone unheeded. Non-executives can provide someone for entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of, preventing your boardroom from becoming too stale, predictable or insular. A non-executive will also prove to be a useful asset ahead of an event – such as an exit or a round of investment – providing both credibility and an insight into the areas where your management team needs changing or strengthening. WHO SHOULD I TURN TO? As with all instances of business-critical recruitment, however, adding a non-executive to your boardroom will only prove effective provided that the

individual is an appropriate fit for your company. When looking to bring on a non-exec, it’s important that you identify the skills gaps in your own organisation and approach someone with the knowledge and experience to fill those holes. If your board already has a very specific range of skills then a non-exec possessed of more general business knowledge would prove the sensible choice, while a jackof-all-trades board would be better served by a non-executive with more focussed, sector-specific skills. Whoever you choose, be sure to include your other board members in the decision-making process so that your appointment doesn’t bruise any egos.

SPOTTING THE TALENT Finding a non-executive who fits the aforementioned bill can be easier said than done, however. You could always scour your professional network in search of a potential candidate, but many family-owned businesses lack the necessary contacts to bring in a non-executive of the required calibre. Instead, an executive recruitment firm will be able to provide you with the perfect match for your business, scouring a broader range of candidates in order to locate the ideal individual for your company’s needs going forwards. WHAT SHOULD I PAY? Non-executive directors should never get involved in the day-to-day running of the business, and their remuneration should reflect the amount of time they give. One or two days a month is typical, as is the flexibility to offer more time around key events or during a troubled period. Pay really depends on the seniority of the non-exec. Be prepared to pay up to £4,000 a day for a non-exec Chairman of a larger private company, but most entrepreneur-led or family businesses will be able to secure the right non-exec for between £750 and £2,000 per day.

TWIDDLE & CO. Headhunters

Twiddle & Co. is a trading division of Renovo Employment Group Limited

For more information, email David Twiddle, Managing Director at david@twiddleandco.com or call 0191 461 5151 or visit www.twiddleandco.com


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BUSINESS BREAKFAST

helping dreams to take flight

Business is really taking off at Leeds Bradford Airport, according to its development and marketing director Tony Hallwood. Andrew Mernin managed to pin him down after a hectic morning organising Santa trips

Fulfilling dreams is the stuff airports are made of and that’s not just confined to the summer months. Trips to Lapland to meet Santa Claus and flights to New York to experience the thrill of Christmas shopping in the Big Apple are among the seasonal delights currently causing excitement at Leeds Bradford Airport. As the main international gateway in and out of Yorkshire, Leeds Bradford has been building on its year-round offer since Tony Hallwood joined as development and marketing director when the airport was privatised in 2007. BQ Yorkshire caught up with him after he’d spent a hectic morning organising this year’s Lapland breaks – something Hallwood readily admits is especially close to his heart. “I’ve been on the Santa trips myself and they are a magical experience,” he said. “I can thoroughly recommend them; it is one of the few occasions I’ve actually seen adults relive their childhood, tears rolling down their cheeks. “We are one of the fastest growing airports

in terms of the number of Santa trips. We do day trips, we do three and four day stays, and are doing trips to the Northern Lights as well; that’s going into the north of Norway. It’s just adding a little variety rather than just going to a city break or a stay trip operation. “Just as your two weeks in the sun will disappear and fade in the memory, your three days in Lapland will stay with you forever. It’s as good as that.” Since his appointment, Hallwood has been working to widen the scope of the airport, which directly employs almost 3,000 people on site. The addition of new airlines flying in and out of Leeds Bradford this year has generated more than 200 extra jobs during 2013. “Across the airlines, we have up to 50 business providers at the airport here, so you can clearly see we are like a small town in effect,” said Hallwood, who has himself worked in the hospitality and travel industry for three decades, starting his career as aviation manager for Saga Holidays.

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In the last 12 months, Leeds Bradford has handled – or as Hallwood puts it, “delivered” – more than 3.2 million passengers for the first time in the airport’s history, achieving a double digit year-on-year growth and a remarkable 15% growth per month during the summer. The completion of the new £11m terminal last year has been an important factor in persuading more airlines to provide services from Leeds Bradford. Hallwood said: “Three new airlines have introduced services this year. The British Airways service to Heathrow has to be probably the highlight of the year, linking Leeds and Yorkshire via Heathrow to the world, offering connecting services across the Continent, to the States, the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, the Gulf...“Number two is the introduction of Monarch Airlines, with two aircraft operating 12 leisure routes for the summer. They’ve done superbly well in the first year of operation, generating over 200 thousand passengers in the first year. >>

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BUSINESS BREAKFAST “Then we’ve had the reintroduction of Thompsons who have an increased range of package tour holidays. We are now seeing an increased move towards the all-inclusive package. “Those are the three major airlines that have contributed to our growth. We’ve also had new routes introduced by Jet2 to Spain and Greece which again has added value. Jet2 have over 45 destinations from Leeds Bradford and they are still our largest based airline.” In addition, new arrival, Scandinavia’s biggest airline SAS, has just signed on the dotted line and will provide services between Leeds Bradford and Copenhagen from March next year. “The Scandinavian link really opens up the whole of Yorkshire to the Danish market,” said Hallwood. “It also connects into Denmark from Sweden and Norway, to basically bring inbound visitors not just into Leeds for its retail, but also to York for its history and culture and heritage. There are very close links between York and Scandinavia - the Viking links. “And of course there are the onward connections, especially to Sweden, Finland and to Eastern Europe, and to Russia. Scandinavia was a missing link in our route structure so to introduce SAS Scandinavian airlines as a major flight carrier, all of a sudden we will create increased awareness of Leeds and the region, which is very, very important for us.” Leeds Bradford has also been chasing Air France in order to reap the rewards when the Tour de France arrives in Yorkshire next summer. The flag carrier hasn’t been secured yet but is still on Hallwood’s agenda. In the meantime, he’s working to expand the airport’s existing links with France prior to the world famous cycle race, when its fans and the global sports media will be descending on the region. It’s going to be a hectic period at Leeds Bradford. “Jet2 operate a daily Paris service and we’re talking to them about increasing frequency over the June period leading up to the tour and the July period when the tour takes place,” he said. “We remain confident that we will be able to offer an increased range of choice for all cyclists and keen aficionados of the Tour de

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France who live in Western Europe. Not just Jet2 to Paris, but we’ve got KLM who are flying four times a day to Amsterdam. We’ve got the SAS flights, which of course will bring us Scandinavian cyclists over, and we have our existing German route to Dusseldorf. “Apart from that we are attracting a range of visitors who are utilising the services of British Airways via Heathrow who will come in not just across Europe but long haul from the

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States. They will visit the region whilst the tour is taking place.” As part of his preparations ahead of the tour, Hallwood visited France to raise the profile of Yorkshire with tourist agencies. He’s determined to sell the region’s attractions to Continental visitors and points out that the cycle race is just a small part of the equation. “We’ve had the opening of the Leeds Arena, the biggest entertainment complex opened in


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Europe in the last 12 months, which is now setting the standards in entertainment.” “We are working very hard with our airlines to use that as a link to come into Leeds. We’ve got the opening of the Trinity shopping centre in the centre of Leeds - a £1bn development which is now setting new standards for retail in the heart of Leeds. “We’ve had our own terminal development which has also raised our profile as an airport against our competitors. The tour is a tourist benefit, but of course we’re working hard with all the other tourism partners in the region Visit York, Visit Bradford, Leeds and partners, and Visit Harrogate especially, to raise their profiles as part of our growth.” Leeds is, of course, on the agenda for the HS2 high speed rail link - but not until the

BUSINESS BREAKFAST

“HS2 is going to deliver a slightly faster link to London. Leeds Bradford would argue that we already have a fast link to London introduced. British Airways is already providing the fastest link to London - you can now fly to London from Leeds Bradford in an hour, and the Heathrow Express will whisk you into London in 20 minutes.” In the long term, Hallwood’s goal is to bring long haul flights to Leeds Bradford, connecting Yorkshire with the US and the Gulf States. “It’s something he’s confident will be a reality by the end of the decade. In the meantime, the airport’s more immediate developments for the next 12 months include new Jet2 services to Spain, increased KLM services to Amsterdam and a number of other potential new services that are currently under discussion. “Interest

The Tour [de France] is a tourist benefit, but we’re working hard with all the other tourism partners in the region

second phase of the project, so it will be two decades before HS2 brings any tangible benefits to the city. Hallwood says that in the meantime, the authorities should be looking at a rail link directly between the airport and the city centre. “We already see other airports in the UK and overseas that have seen significant increases in passenger numbers and increased profile of the city in the region as a result of that,” he said. “Then there is a much wider impact where we link the rail hub at the airport, not just to Leeds, but across to Bradford which allows Bradford through the airport, to go to Harrogate and York, as a regional hub transport across the region. “That’s what we believe should now be on the agenda between today and the delivery of HS2. “HS2 is about delivering connectivity out of the region. We need to look at improving the transport infrastructure in the region.

in Leeds Bradford has never been higher,” said Hallwood. “The airport itself is now putting more into investing in itself and marketing itself, promoting itself to the business community, promoting itself to leisure customers who want to go to away for a city break or on holiday, and working with those regional partners to make sure that we take benefit from all of those inbound visitors - whether they be on business, for conferences or, of course, just for tourist stays. “We see that we are an integral part of making sure that people consider Yorkshire when they want to come to England. “It used to be, go to London and stay in London; what we are now saying is that there is a much better option - you’ve seen London, come out, visit Leeds, visit York or Harrogate. “Come and see what fantastic countryside and culture, history and heritage Yorkshire can offer.” n

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A flying start to the day In amongst the bustle of international arrivals streaming through the great glass doors at Leeds Bradford Airport is Caffe Ritazza. With a spacious seating area, it’s a natural meeting point for business folk before they head off around the world, or perhaps down to Heathrow for a spot of deal-making. When BQ met Tony Hallwood – belatedly after a number of circumstances conspired against us – he was as polite and accommodating as only a man who has worked in the travel industry for 30 years can be. It was barely 9am and he’d already ticked off several things from his mile-long ‘to do list’ and fresh coffee and a breakfast muffin made the ideal accompaniment to Hallwood’s tales of his flighty ambitions. Ritazza serves fresh baguettes, sandwiches and hot snacks all day and, when BQ sampled it, found attentive staff, great coffee and a pleasant backdrop for any business meet up. Elsewhere in the airport, alongside airside business lounges, travellers are pretty well served for other food and drink options. As Hallwood continues his push for more links which span increasingly further afield, no doubt the café and restaurant options will get even better in the coming years. www.leedsbradfordairport.co.uk

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WALLIS ON WINE

WINTER 13

Star attractions worth savourinG Andrew Wallis enjoys a celebrity moment as he turns heads during our photo-shoot, but concedes the real stars are two mouth-watering wines that turn out to be the perfect apéritif to his forthcoming trip to Paris It was a late Thursday afternoon in the middle of November that I met Kevin the photographer for BQ Magazine. Standing in the middle of the foyer of the Mercure Sheffield looking longingly at a glass of wine having my photograph taken, whilst onlookers and passers-by in the Winter Gardens took an extra glance or two, expecting to see someone famous staying in town. The real stars, however, arrived the following day when Katie dropped off at the office a French red and a Spanish White. This was the most perfect start to my trip to Paris scheduled for the following week. So, a trip to Paris and two quality bottles of wine - what would a real celebrity do? Should they be savoured on the banks of the Seine watching one of the many street artists at work? Well, I simply couldn’t wait. That night I started with the glorious deep red from Domain Des Cigalounes. This 2010 Lirac was an extremely well structured blend with clear notes of fruits and spices. It is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. It had a really attractive deep red colour. It was silky and textured, not only in appearance, but also to the finish on the palate. The suppliers, Ake & Humphris, kindly provided a bottle tag describing it as “Chateauneuf styling at a fraction of the cost”. At £13.25

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a bottle and being produced on the opposite bank of the Rhone from Chateauneuf du Pape, this made complete sense and I could perfectly understand the comparison. This red will be an ideal accompaniment to meats and mild cheeses. It was delightful and went down very easily. I was very lucky as the Diez Siglos Verdejo (Reuda) was equally delightful in a very different sense. Reuda is an elevated dry wine region in the tablelands of Castilla y Leon, Spain. These are quality grapes sourced from refracted old bush vines planted on gravel lands. This creates a dry white wine with a fleshy rounded and complex palate. A great alternative to a Sauvignon. I could certainly recognise hints of honey and tropical fruits all of which were nicely balanced by its zingy citrus notes. Fresh and very well balanced, this was one of those white wines you don’t want to put down and before you know it the bottle is empty. Very nice on its own, which is how I enjoyed it, but I imagine it will also work exceptionally well with fish. So, despite my one brief moment of celebrity status, these two bottles of wine were definitely the true stars! n The wines provided were Diez Siglos Verdejo - £8 per bottle (or 3 for £20) and

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Domaine des Cigalounes - £13.25 per bottle. Both available at Ake & Humphris, Harrogate, 01423 566009. www.akeandhumphris.co.uk


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WALLIS ON WINE

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MOTORING

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Aston delivers miles of smiles BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

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WINTER 13

MOTORING

Kenton Robbins is awestruck by the impressive power, grace and sheer ecstasy-inducing beauty of the Aston Martin DB9, one of several new models introduced as the company celebrates its 100th anniversary

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MOTORING

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With this being the 100th year in existence for Aston Martin there couldn’t be a better time for the company to be introducing a swathe of new models. The centenary of any business is one to celebrate, but the new DB9 represents Aston Martin in its truest sense in this special year. It’s a car capable of devouring continents in style and at a pace that would exhilarate even the most hardened of super car owners due to the introduction of the V12 6Ltr engine that was previously reserved for the range-topping DBS and Vanquish. Aston has introduced a new Vantage, DB9, Rapide S, Vanquish and ONE-77 to define the range as Sport, Timeless, Luxury, Ultimate GT and Iconic. Before I get into the technical detail and the all important ‘how she makes me feel’, it’s important to make the following statement: I Kenton Robbins will personally start the lobbying process of the current Secretary of State for Transport Minister, The Rt Hon Patrick McLougnlin MP, to pass the law that all Aston Martin V12 owners must use their cars in public three days a week at least, and more if possible, and drive in 2nd gear at 2,5003,000 revs alternating throttle modulation in built-up areas. If this could be a reality, the nation would be a better place with a greater distribution of visual smiles per capita than anywhere else in the world, as the guttural resonance that’s produced is as close to audible ecstasy as you can get and seems to enlighten those of the public that have a fondness for all things automotive.  This leads me to the centrepiece of the car at its heart is an engine with the strength to carry worlds on its shoulders and the subtle depth and refinement to deliver a surge of power in an infused manner that few engines can deliver. With 620 Nm of torque, it defines a benchmark of power that few can measure up to, and when provoked gives a wealth of feedback and a smooth build in speed that can startle. Upon driving the car for the first few hours I was unsettled by the length of travel that the throttle demands to exercise the engine’s full potential. It was only after considering the ergonomics and design of the DB9 over fish and chips on the way home that it dawned on me why it would have been designed into it as a feature, especially as the

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old DB9 was renowned for having an on/off switch of a throttle. They were designed in an old school methodology in order to help the driver avoid a moment of embarrassment by not allowing them to access the full potential by accident, which could result in a lesson in ditch finding! Aston are the masters of this impeccable attention to detail and anybody who’s owned one will, I’m sure, have experienced this in the care the dealers put into understanding customers’ needs. After all, you don’t have a problem with an Aston - you have a ‘bespoke concern’ that they will endeavour to solve. This is the essence of Aston ownership and the brand, and it is further communicated in the cabin. The dash cluster dials are like chronographs from the face of a fine Swiss watch and the leather is hand-stitched in strong seams where thread dives up and down through the leather like contrails in the sky. This attention to detail is a treat for the eyes and features strongly in the cabin, from the dash to the seats, where a DB9 embroidered stitched logo greets you on the

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headrest. Meanwhile, the aluminium fixtures and features all shout of being hand-built by craftsman, further supporting the desire of Aston to labour the point of the car being handcrafted. The technical aspect of the cabin is now one to be enjoyed rather than sneered at. Long gone are the bargain bucket Ford components that were adorned with shame by previous incarnations of Aston’s. Now you are treated to a sound system that has bark and depth alike and switch gear that reflects the luxury and craftsmanship it deserves. At 6ft 2ins my frame is on the upper end of car designers’ spec, but I was comfortably accommodated. The rear seats were well proportioned for my two daughters, aged eight and 10. White would not be my first choice of colour, but what it does do is define the silhouette and emphasise the strong sill line that incorporates aero detailing. The rear light cluster enhances this with inset detailing drawing the colour into it, with a solid presence that’s been designed with purpose to catch the eye when glancing


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MOTORING

over the muscular rear of the Aston. The rear diffuser also benefits from the white body colouring, once again catching your glance and drawing you in to further explore the detail of the under wrapped nature of the rear valance and how it interacts with the rest of the rear’s design. The two strong chrome tail pipes give contrast to the white as they deliver that infamous snarl that is so well associated with Astons. The vented bonnet, which now has added attitude and elegance, and a deep cutting front splitter in carbon fibre both add to what is now a sportier DB9. These features are all part of what I would consider to be a design icon. Its brilliant proportions and smooth looks are coupled with muscular line detailing, resulting in an exquisite looking car. Almost all cars have an unflattereing angle that can create a sense of unease or disparity with the overall design. The Aston, however, doesn’t

It’s an elegant car that achieves the overall design brief of being ‘timeless’ but now also has the ability to excite and invigorate even the most demanding of customers. It has the energy to provoke a reaction from a wide range of people suffer this in any way. It manages to command a sense of awe that’s intensely pleasing to the eye. It’s an elegant car that achieves the overall design brief of being ‘timeless’ - but now also has the ability to excite and invigorate even the most demanding of customers. It has the energy to provoke a reaction from an incredibly wide range of people. In my time with the Aston, I was approached by young and old alike, with people talking with respect for the brand and a feeling of pride. One elderly couple stopped me as I walked to the car and suggested that it could be one of the finest brands in existence. Aston topped the CoolBrands* list this year, and deservedly so as it holds a special place in the heart of the vast majority of us. The Bond effect in the last year has truly extended the allure of the brand into

a different league that’s now beyond A-list. Much as the past year has seen the birth of the ‘hyper cars’ it has also seen the coming of age of the DB9. With all super cars, the owners are looking to use the car as an instrument to deliver an experience, a wealth of feelings that will exhilarate and create a sense of pride. The DB9 is a master at delivering these sensations. All this is thanks to the sound of the exhaust, the surge of power delivered like there’s a nuclear reactor under the bonnet, and the smooth ride that’s able to transform to a taught, stiff, capable weapon at the press of the sport and adaptive suspension buttons. It’s this ability to change the nature of the car that is its true talent. It has been said by many men over the years that the ideal wife

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is a goddess in the kitchen and minded in the bedroom. The DB9 has the ability to be this ideal companion, a partner that can work with your every mood, responding accordingly. The subtle changes in the throttle response and suspension are hard to notice at first. Once you’ve pressed the aluminium buttons, there seems to be nothing more than a firming up of the ride. It’s only when you are pushing hard and demanding more from the car that you realise the depth of these changes. The engine comes alive with fresh attitude and verve that sings in a baritone ensemble ready to perform for its conductor. The suspension now reads your needs instinctively - it’s intune and sublime, directly lighting the sensors and delivering the feel and sensation desired. Indeed, it is the way the DB9 makes you feel that makes it a very special car. For those reading this who have previously considered buying an Aston in the past, I’d encourage you to take one for a drive. But be warned it might end up being the only car you’ll ever want to drive again! n The car Kenton drove was Aston Martin DB9 Coupe from JCT600 in Leeds and it costs £140,000 with options included. It was supplied by Aston Martin Leeds, 08448 443108. www.jct600.co.uk

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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-pressed 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 like the Maserati A6G, Maserati Ghibli, Aston Martin DB4 and DB5. The Wraith is shorter and 50mm lower

A car like the Wraith is all about capturing modernity in a timeless way than the Ghost, enough that the driver 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

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


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 it-tailors 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 jacketstyle, 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 aims to show that our normally rugged style can be more >>

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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

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 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, Coca-Cola-like, to a secret formula). And, behind the scenes, its repair service may give new life to well-worn jackets

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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. “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

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


ENTREPRENEUR

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WINTER 13

Seek out any research into the causes of stress and you will find there are three life events that are consistently in the top 10 – moving house, having a baby and launching a business. Melanie Shaw did all of them in the space of two weeks. She went from high-flying business consultant in London’s trendy Notting Hill to living on a former farm manager’s residence in the bleak and beautiful North Yorkshire Moors. But the ebullient founder of Thirsk-based Brilliant Lighting took the life-changing decision in her stride, even describing it as a “no brainer”. “Looking back I suppose it was a little scary, but it was a calculated decision,” said Melanie. “My husband Iain and I both had good jobs at Deloitte Consulting. Iain worked as an IT consultant and I advised on business strategy, predominantly working with major pharmaceutical firms. “But we’d had it in our minds for some time that we wanted to get out of London and start a family.”

entrepreneur

However, Melanie, 45, and Iain, 49, had yet to identify the business opportunity that would transform their lives. Inspiration struck the Cambridge and London Business School graduate when she hired a lighting designer to soften and shape the space in her large, open plan home in Notting Hill. She recalled: “During the consultation process it occurred to me that this was something I could do. And I realised there was a potential market for it in the North of England. “Of course everyone said we were mad. But at the same time they said ‘if anyone can do it, you can’ so we began to do some serious research. “It struck me that this idea combined all the elements we were looking for in a business – it was creative, technical and something we could both be involved in.” What happened next pretty much sealed the deal for the couple. A house on a farm in North Yorkshire owned by Melanie’s parents became available. Melanie said: “In the end, it was a no-brainer.

“We’d done our homework and decided the market was there, so even though I was heavily pregnant we felt the timing was right. We ended up moving house, starting the business and having a baby within two weeks.” That was almost a decade ago and Brilliant Lighting now has a healthy £600,000 turnover. Next year Melanie expects that to grow to £800,000 and to £1.5m in five years. Whilst the journey from city slicker to country girl may have taken some friends by surprise, for Melanie it felt like a natural progression. She said: “It might not be obvious at first, but there are similarities between being a business consultant and a lighting consultant. “It’s really all about understanding and interpreting the needs of your clients. Often those needs are unspoken because people are not entirely sure how to articulate what it is they’re looking for. The skill comes in being able to distil the essence of what they are trying to tell you. It’s also frequently about looking at problems in a new way, and seeking inspiration in the unexpected. >>

lightbulb moment pays off A flash of inspiration saw City consultant Melanie Shaw turn her back on London life and head for the Yorkshire Moors. Five years on, the business that emerged from the move is thriving, as Ken Oxley reports

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ENTREPRENEUR “As it happens, I had always been interested in lighting. As a business consultant I moved around a lot with my work and lived in different houses. “Living that lifestyle, you get to understand how lighting can really affect how you feel about a space. “I always strive to sprinkle some magic on my projects. I want clients to walk into a room and say ‘wow!’ because lighting really can get that reaction when it’s done well. “The goal is to make every space sing. Lighting should be integrated and three-dimensional. So many homes can feel flat and boring because of the way they are lit.

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“With any space, you need to look at the lines and focal points and consider how you create both task lighting, which fulfils a function, and accent lighting to create a certain mood.” Even though she is largely self-taught, Melanie’s infectious passion for her work shines every bit as brightly as the products she champions. It’s clear that the learning curve she has negotiated has turned her into something of a lighting geek . But with clients paying around £20,000 for a small project and £100,000-plus for major work, an in-depth knowledge of your specialist area is essential. Melanie is keen to stress though that it’s

We have survived the recession and come out of it in much better shape, unlike many of our competitors who went bust

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very much a team effort. She said: “We are highly unusual in the breadth and depth of expertise we have across the team, and everyone contributes. A scheme not only has to look amazing, it also has to be implemented well: from the ‘design’ part of the team to the project management to the back end administrative support, we all make a difference to the end result.” It’s little wonder that the future is looking bright, but there have been darker days along the way. For the first few years the biggest challenge the business faced was keeping up with demand. In addition to the lighting design Brilliant was also a leading ‘smart home technology’ provider, advising clients on how to utilise advanced automated systems to control functions such as audio, heating and security. In 2008 they also added interior design services to offer clients the integrated package, and carried on growing rapidly. However, the business took a hit a few years back that left the couple facing a sink-or-swim situation. It was, in Melanie’s words, a “steep learning experience.” She explained: “At first the economic downturn did not seem to affect us and the business just kept growing. “Our turnover actually topped £1m for a couple of years leading to 2011, but then the recession finally caught up with us, and three projects together worth £500,000 were all halted in the space of a month as clients just ran out of money. “That was a difficult time and it forced us to fundamentally look at what we do and how we do it. Since then we have restructured, moving out of smart home technology and interior design to concentrate solely on lighting. “On the face it, it might look like we have a shrinking turnover, but it’s actually a more focused, profitable one. “We have survived the recession and come out of it in much better shape, unlike many of our competitors who went bust.” In addition to restructuring, the company increased its marketing spend and is now actively planning for long-term growth. Melanie said: “We currently have four members of staff but we’re looking to recruit


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another two at the moment. “I can count on one hand the number of companies doing something similar to us, predominantly in London. “I believe things are really beginning to pick up and that there is huge potential in the market. “At the top end, people have always had the means to invest in beautiful homes, but they haven’t always had the confidence to do so. Thankfully, we’re seeing signs that that confidence is coming back.” Melanie’s keen eye for detail has enabled the company to identify a niche market in specialist lighting for works of art. It all came about when she visited a stately home owned by one of her clients who wanted advice on how to light some of the building’s formal rooms where many large 17th and 18th century paintings were on display. Melanie said: “There was nothing on the market that was suitable. The type of ‘track’ lights used in museums and galleries would not have been appropriate for the setting. “The traditional style picture lights on the market were not man enough for the job: you got a bright spot at the top of the canvas with the rest of the picture inadequately lit. “The solution was to look at the problem the other way: to get the light source absolutely right, and to then make it look like a traditional fitting.” Melanie teamed up with one of her expert LED suppliers to develop an innovative lighting system that illuminates the entire canvas. Sophisticated controls enable each picture light to be individually fine-tuned, to take into account the nature and size of the picture. Melanie said: “We use LEDs with excellent colour rendering, and with very clever optics to throw light evenly across the canvas. Specific filters are added to achieve the best colour of light, and to remove any damaging UV light. “It looks like a traditional picture light, but it is much more efficient and effective. The end result is that the whole picture comes alive. “When we first tried the system out on some historic three-metre high paintings the client saw details that had never been revealed before!” The company has always sought out the most innovative and best manufacturers and designers.

entrepreneur

I believe things are really starting to pick up and that there is huge potential in the market

Melanie said: “We spend a lot of time looking for interesting craftsmen, or women, to work with – people who can design stunning pieces that really add something to a property. It’s all part of our desire to provide a bespoke service. “We also try to buy British wherever possible, and as a guestimate I’d say 80% of the fittings we use are made in the UK. She added: “My advice to anyone with a business idea is to do your research properly and ask yourself, can I provide customers with a different or better service than is already available? “If the answer is yes, and you have a financial cushion, then don’t be afraid. Of course it helps if you have something to fall back on. “If it had not worked out for us we could have always gone back to our former careers.” There is no danger of that happening now, however. Despite occasional feelings of nostalgia for her old life, the bright lights of the capital can’t compare with the satisfaction of bringing light into the lives of her clients. Meanwhile, for son Alex, now almost 10,

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country life is all he has ever known and it’s important to Melanie and Iain that his upbringing is as stable as possible. That means balancing their busy work schedules with family commitments, which isn’t always easy. Melanie added: “We do work tremendously hard, but family time is important to us. Alex is very sporty. He plays tennis and golf and he has just got into the Yorkshire cricket training squad. “We spend a lot of time encouraging him in his sporting activities. He also sings in an excellent choir so we go to watch him perform at every opportunity. We also get a lot of support from grandparents and friends, which is hugely appreciated. “We have a fabulous house in the Moors where we grow our own veg, and we can borrow the neighbour’s dog to go for walks and play in the river at weekends. “We have friends in London and it’s always nice to visit, but life in the country suits us. We’re thankful to be out of the rat race.” n

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13


BIT OF A CHAT

WINTER 13

>> Smells like success

with Frank Tock >> The stories we tell Like a full-bodied bottle of red, entrepreneurial start up stories can get better with age. Over time they are tidied up into a neat narrative arc which, in a few minutes, sums up the background and humble quest of the business. But sometimes, having been retold repeatedly, the passion in their delivery dies and their impact fades. It was refreshing, then, to hear five young stars at the very start of their entrepreneurial journey talking honestly about their new businesses in Sheffield recently. Unshackled by PR advisers, lawyers or investors, the student start up panel at the Future MADE festival gave jargonfree explanations of exactly how and why they got started in business. And they had assembled delegates hanging on their every word. Watching youngsters from local colleges and universities learn how to turn ideas into money perhaps reminded the assembled business leaders of their own early days and the excitement that comes with realisation that you really can forge your own path in business. Young sweet seller extraordinaire Brandon Park put it best when he proclaimed “you just can’t afford to be scared” in business. Try telling that to a risk averse bank manager near you!

H2k owner Hazel Barry, left, with TV presenter Sally Simpson

>> The walls have ears Social media may be a great way of winning customers and growing your brand. But for Mark Johnson, who heads up Yorkshire-based Stage One, tweets, wall posts and status updates are the bane of his life. Having secretly built the London 2012 Olympic cauldron at its base on a fairly remote business park in Tockwith, the company is now engaged in developing its effort for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. But in such covert contract work, non-disclosure agreements are signed throughout its near 100-strong workforce. And, most importantly, staff must steer well clear of letting the cat out of the bag on Facebook or Twitter. Loose tweets sink ships, as they say. How many other Yorkshire bosses could trust their workforces to keep a secret I wonder?

It was refreshing to hear five young stars talking honestly about their new businesses... giving jargon-free explanations of how they got started

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Two issues ago, BQ’s cover entrepreneur Hazel Barry explained how she was determined to take her globally successful hotel toiletries business onto the High Street. And I’m happy to report that her defiance of retail conditions looks to have paid off. Her new H2k store in Harrogate is now open for business, giving punters the chance to see why the world’s swankiest hotels continue to turn to this Yorkshire entrepreneur for all their scented product needs.

>> Santa’s shame With students at Leeds University winding down for Christmas, academics there are clearly using their extra lab time to focus on their vitally important research projects. For the uni’s school of earth and environment has painstakingly calculated Santa’s carbon footprint. A recent press release tells how St Nick’s carbon output could be as much as nine tonnes per stocking. Shocking. And before you ask, yes they did factor in the methane output of the reindeer and the weight of the tangerines.

>> Banks a million Fortunately for our feathered friends at Ledston Luck Nature Reserve in Leeds, there were no hungry fat cats among the bankers that spent two days helping out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust recently. Staff at Barclays built nest boxes to complement ongoing efforts on site to conserve willow tits, a priority conservation species. The team also built boxes to provide homes for more familiar birds such as wrens, robins and blue tits. The Leeds-based staff even picked up their hand tools to help care for the meadows and flowers that thrive in them. Who says the banks give nothing back?


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EVENTS

WINTER 13

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@room501.co.uk and please put ‘BQ events page’ in the subject heading

DECEMBER

FEBRUARY

16 York Branch Christmas Meal Riverside Hotel www.fsb.org.uk

6 The MET Club evening event, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Restaurant Bar & Grill, Leeds, 5.30pm – 7.30pm. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

16 Huddersfield Huddle with Skill Will, 6pm – 9pm, The Head of Steam, St George’s Square, Huddersfield, HD1 1JB www.theyorkshiremafia.com 17 The Firm Networking Rotherham The Sidings, Whitehill Lane , Brinsworth, Rotherham, S60 5HE 07:00 07527 865 060

11 The MET Club networking lunch, 12 noon – 1.30pm, Copthorne Hotel, Sheffield. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

18 Chamber Annual Lunch York, The Royal York Hotel, York, 01904 567 838

12 Well Connected Yorkshire Lunch with Bradford Chamber, Leeds United Football Club, Elland Road, Leeds, 12 noon – 2pm, call 0113 247 0000

JANUARY

12 The MET Club evening event, 5pm – 7pm, Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Leeds. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

8 The MET Club evening event, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Restaurant Bar & Grill, Leeds, 5.30pm – 7.30pm. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 9 The MET Club evening event, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Hotel du Vin, Harrogate. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 9 Pure Networking – breakfast networking events, 7.30am – 9.30am, Leeds United FC, Elland Road, Leeds, call 0113 247 0000 14 The MET Connect breakfast, 9am – 11am, Copthorne Hotel, Sheffield. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 15 Harrogate Breakfast Business Networking, 8am - 10am, Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, www.4networking.biz

12 Harrogate Breakfast Business Networking, 8am - 10am, Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, www.4networking.biz 13 The MET Connect breakfast, 8.30am – 10.30am, Hotel du Vin, Harrogate. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 13 Master Cutler’s Challenge, official launch, 5pm - 8pm, Cutlers Hall, Sheffield, www.mastercutlerschallenge2014.co.uk 19 Beat the recession and put an extra £2m in your bank account hosted by Urquhart Warner Myers, 8.30am – 1.30pm, Leeds, email info@uwm.co.uk or call 0113 231 0202 19 Networking after hours, The Beauchief, Sheffield, www.scci.org.uk/event/ networking-after-hours/

16 Pure Networking in York, 7.30am – 9am, Dean Court Hotel, York, email alicia. oakes@yourchamber.org.uk or call 01904 567 838 17 Construction Lunch in York, 12 noon – 2pm, Best Western Monkbar Hotel, York, alicia.oakes@yourchamber.org.uk or call 01904 567 838 21 The MET Club networking lunch, 12 noon – 1.30pm, Grand St.Leger, Doncaster. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

20 The MET Club evening event, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Cedar Court Grand, York. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 26 Speed Networking Evening, 5pm – 7pm, The Food Academy, Leeds, call 0113 247 0000 26 Harrogate Breakfast Business Networking, 8am - 10am, Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, www.4networking.biz

22 Community Workshop Series with Business in the Community, 10.30am – 2.30pm, Eversheds LLP, Leeds, www.bitc.org.uk 22 Introduction to Neuro Linguistic Programming, 9.30am – 4.30pm, Harrogate, 0844 406 8008, enquiries@i-dg.co.uk 23 The MET Club networking lunch, 12 noon – 1.30pm, Hotel du Vin, York. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 23 The PA Hub 1st birthday party, 6pm – 8.30pm, Radisson Blu Hotel, No 1 The Light, Leeds, LS1 8TL, marion@thepahub.co.uk

27 Introduction to Investors in People, 9.15am – 12.30pm, Wakefield, iip@i-dg.co.uk, 0844 406 8008 27 An evening with Gerald Ratner, 7pm, Doubletree Hilton, Leeds. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 27 Leeds Annual Legal Dinner, from 6.30pm, Aspire, Leeds, info@leedslawsociety. org.uk, 0113 245 4997, www.leedslawsociety.org.uk 28 The Leeds Club breakfast seminar, 8.30am – 10.30am, Leeds. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

24 The MET Club speaker lunch, 12 noon – 1.30pm, Bettys & Taylors, Harrogate. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 28 The MET Connect breakfast, 8.30am – 10.30am, The New Ellington, Leeds. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 29 Harrogate Breakfast Business Networking, 8am - 10am, Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, www.4networking.biz 29 Be Columbus, Not Napoleon – discover new territories don’t fight over existing space, 9.30am – 12.30pm, Stockdale House, 8 Victoria Road, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 1PF, www.marketingdoctorleeds.co.uk 30 Investors in People – preparing your assessment, 9.15am – 12.30pm, Harrogate, iip@i-dg.co.uk, 0844 406 8008 30 The MET Club networking lunch, 12 noon – 1.30pm, Malagor Thai, Wakefield. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk 31 The MET Connect breakfast seminar, 8.30am – 10.30am, Hotel du Vin, Harrogate. Visit www.themetclub.co.uk

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 13

The diary is updated daily online at www.bq-magazine.co.uk Please check with contacts beforehand that arrangements have not changed. Events organisers are also asked to notify us at the above email address of any changes or cancellations as soon as they are known.

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