ISSUE TWENTY: SPRING 2014
flight of fancy How an entrepreneur’s child-like dream took off riding high The tour de force behind Yorkshire’s Tour de France bid sitting pretty Office furniture boss is set to go global a gem of an idea Laboratory-made diamonds shake up the industry
creative zeal Digital agency boss on her company’s meteoric rise ISSUE TWENTY: SPRING 2014: YORKSHIRE EDITION
BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS
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BUSINESS QUARTER: spRing 14: issue twenty Having spent the months since our last issue badgering some of Yorkshire’s brightest entrepreneurs about their plans and current prosperity, I can report a notable shift in the mood. Generally, caution is slowly melting to be replaced by optimism and talk of expansion is becoming increasingly prominent. Business leaders and entrepreneurs are also becoming more at ease with opening up about their numbers, especially with fewer staff cutbacks to be held accountable for. As reported recently, employment in Yorkshire is up 41,000 on last year to 2.5 million, while the first quarter of 2014 saw a 4,000 climb in employment levels on the previous quarter. Meanwhile, manufacturers are said to be creating new jobs at their fastest rate since May 2011 and IPO activity seems to be on the up. Stories like that of Doncaster’s plastic pipe maker Polypipe, which plans a £400m float on the LSE, are increasingly filling up news pages and bulletins. In this issue, our search for inspirational ‘how we made it’ stories here in Yorkshire has taken us into a range of sectors which appear to be bubbling up nicely. Food, finance and fuel are among the industries we journey into and, in each case, we find how individual leadership nouse and some common entrepreneurial traits are delivering success. Serial entrepreneur Jonathan Turner, the road fuel industry exec who’s building an aviation-inspired tree house, is a man in the know economically, given that his empire touches many quarters of the private sector. In this issue we find how an almost childlike enthusiasm for his projects and the ability to spot new opportunities quickly are paying off in abundance. Also in these pages, Rachel Hannan, the former recruitment industry specialist who now provides expertise and funding to aspiring entrepreneurs, tells us about backing winners and avoiding losses. With Grand Départ fever now on the rise, we speak to one of the instrumental figures behind the event’s visit to Yorkshire, Kenton
Robbins. The one-time IoD head plots a route towards a successful economic future for Yorkshire and explains how cycling-flavoured opportunities can be maximised. We also report on how the corporate world is taking advantage of the sporting milestone and update on the economics behind it. Our cover story this quarter documents the rise and rise of Jane Slimming’s Zeal Media. Her bright young firm is part of a growing cluster of thriving, digital savvy businesses which are increasingly snapping up lucrative commercial contracts out of the hands of London agencies and bringing them up north. For these stories and more – including tales of diversified farming, office furniture revolutions and an age-old foodie favourite – read on. Andrew Mernin, editor, BQ Yorkshire
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THE LIFE AND SOUL OF BUSINESS
YORKSHIRE EDITION BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
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Flight of fancy that took off
48 seeds of success How diversification is transforming the fortunes of a family farming business
22 zeal of approval Digital agency Zeal Media’s boss charts her firm’s meteoric rise
34 my flight of fancy How an entrepreneur’s child-like dream really took off
42 becoming an angel Businesswoman’s journey from recruitment supremo to angel investor
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
52 business breakfast BQ meets the tour de force behind Yorkshire’s Tour de France involvement
72 sitting pretty The office furniture boss whose company looks set to go global
76 tree of life Fulfilling a lifelong dream to own Yorkshire’s famous Box Tree Restaurant
34 the headhunter turned angel
TENTS YORKSHIRE EDITION
38 commercial property
sowing the seeds of success
Behind the region’s biggest deals
58 wine Scrum-ptious – our reviewer discovers wines that go down well with rugby!
60 motoring Nissan’s £40K-plus Infiniti Q50 is put through its paces
64 fashion 08 on the record Yorkshire’s biggest-ever sporting event is a great opportunity for businesses
12 news Who’s doing what, when where and why across Yorkshire
The world’s most bespoke tie maker on why £150 for neckwear is good value
68 equipment Diamonds are still forever but in greater number
80 bit of A chat With BQ’s backroom boy Frank Tock
20 as i see it How to prevent your business being hijacked by the software pirates
meet yorkshire’s tour de force
82 events Key business events for your diary
52 BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
ON THE RECORD
>> Will landmark event leave a grand legacy? With Yorkshire’s biggest ever sporting event now within sight, the county’s economic stakeholders and businesses are pedalling fast to ensure every available opportunity is maximised. Andrew Mernin takes a spin through the corporate race preceding the Grand Départ Save for the odd ripple of unrest, the negative speculation that tends to precede expensive and logistically complex sports events has not yet arisen in Yorkshire. And so its preparations for the Grand Départ – the biggest sporting event in the county’s history – is hurtling on seemingly as smoothly as a bicycle tyre on asphalt. When Manchester had the audacity to bring the Commonwealth Games to northern England, a red top report exposed serious security flaws in the main stadium. Al-Qaeda would have a field day, the tabloid crowed. But fears were fortunately unfounded. London’s Olympic run up, under a more intense media glare, was dogged by talk of white elephants, traffic chaos, spiralling costs and a potentially embarrassing inability to put on a show. But history put most, if not all, of those worries to bed. Yorkshire’s two days in the sun may not be on the same scale, but the sheer level of global interest and pressure to succeed should not be underestimated. And under the rising heat of the world’s spotlight, it is so far putting in an assured performance. “Many businesses and cities have already had a big boost,” Welcome to Yorkshire’s Gary Verity told TV audiences recently from his Wensleydale home. “The benefit to Yorkshire will happen in a number of years following the tour leaving and I hope it has the same impact attitudinally that the Commonwealth Games had in Manchester; that actually in Yorkshire anything’s possible,” he added. And, as reported later in this publication, the long term legacy might include a new lucrative era of political conferencing in Leeds. The ability to put a city on lockdown, as they say in the States, would prove that securitydependent events like party political
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Carter Jonas’s David Boulton and Amy Souter, partner and associate respectively, in the national property consultancy’s planning division, with Captain Andy Lister and aircrew paramedics Leon Baranowski and Darrel Cullen of Yorkshire Air Ambulance
gatherings are possible. Meanwhile, the inevitable pre-event talk of rising costs has started. In mid-March the press published details of a ‘damning report’, as one newspaper put it, which showed a £2m underestimation in the cost of managing and marshalling the Tour. It stemmed from a report prepared by Leeds City Council and TdF Hub 2014 Ltd, the company coordinating the organisation of the opening three days of the race. A contract to provide barriers, communications, first aid and other aspects of the event was recommended to go to
Manchester-based WGR. But its value shown in the report was £4.5m, not the originally budgeted £2.2m. TdF Hub is headed up by former Rugby Football League boss Sir Rodney Walker. He told the BBC he could “absolutely guarantee” the total amount of the WGR contract would not be £4.5m, as it was a worst-case scenario figure and savings had already been identified. “We’re confident we’re going to deliver not only the largest event Yorkshire has ever staged, but we’re going to deliver it on budget,” he said. >>
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ON THE RECORD “This is a free event that could attract three million people for the two Yorkshire stages alone – I challenge you to find better value for money than that.” Such issues are par for the course for mass event organisers, as a Leeds City Council spokeswoman told reporters: “As with any project on the scale of the Tour de France, it is entirely normal to experience changes in budget requirements. We anticipate that with continuing prudent financial management...an event to remember will be delivered within the original budget.” And, for that underestimation has come another more positive one. While the economic value of the Tour has been estimated at around £100m, visitor numbers are proving a tricky metric to forecast. As one local councillor put it at a recent Welcome to Yorkshire visit to Silsden, “the original figures were grossly underestimated”, considering the amount of extra people heading to Yorkshire from within the UK. For businesses, then, time is running out to secure what Tour-related riches may be accessible to them. Help is in abundance though. Barclays recently announced it had joined forces with Welcome to Yorkshire to support businesses in the run up to the race. The bank’s lending team has been hosting a series of roadshows across the region to discuss its lending proposals before the event, as well as the impact on economic growth following the race. Caroline Pullich, head of business banking in Yorkshire and the North East, says: “This is a fabulous chance for growth within the Yorkshire economy and we now have a dedicated team in place to help shape lending propositions for businesses that seek to invest for the future and take advantage of the long term benefits the race will bring and the legacy it will leave.” Among other various business flavoured events and workshops announced as part of the Grand Départ is the Yorkshire International Business Festival. Organised by UKTI, Welcome to Yorkshire, and Leeds and Partners and taking place between 2 and 4 July, its aim is to help generate £20m of new business directly from the
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
race. Opportunities in a range of sectors are promised. Increased foreign investment, it is hoped, will come as a result of the Tour. At the recent MIPIM 2014 international property investment event in Cannes, for example, investment opportunities in Yorkshire were showcased to high rollers on the Continent. Leeds Bradford Airport has also been in discussions over bringing new French routes to Yorkshire. Quoted recently, Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (The LEP), said: “The economic impact of the Grand Départ, through increased visitors and the general spending uplift is significant. However, we see the Tour as the beginning of a wider opportunity. It will allow us to showcase the opportunities in the region to an international audience and clearly demonstrate our capability in hosting high profile, big ticket events.” Private sector businesses are also themselves hosting events to cash in on the sporting milestone – commercially and charitably. ‘Sweatworking’ is the phrase coined by national property consultancy Carter Jonas for its Tour inspired activities. It is currently looking to sign up cycling enthusiasts from within the property sector and its related disciplines for a Lycra-clad networking session on two wheels. Its Yorkshire Pedalthon will raise funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and public transport charity Sustrans but also provide an unusual platform for business chatter. David Boulton (pictured on p8), partner in the planning and development division (Harrogate), says the event has provided Carter Jonas with an opportunity to forge stronger ties with clients and fellow professionals in the property-related field. Alongside the clear philanthropic benefits of the event, it will also
be used to show off investment opportunities in Yorkshire to developers. He says: “We felt there was an opportunity to sell what we do and sell what Yorkshire does to a wider audience and equally consolidate our business relationships along the way. “We are also involved in properties in those areas that the Tour passes through and so we thought it would be useful to show our clients that may have an interest. It’s not just putting Lycra on and traipsing through the hills, it’s about having an experience of what Yorkshire can offer in a wider sense as well really. “Looking at the 200 or so riders we’ve got signed up, we’ve got people from across the country from various fields including architects, surveyors and a broad range of other property sector people.” The event, which remains open for applicants, is on Thursday 22 May, and riders will have the choice to complete either the 80 mile Yorkshire Challenge or the 40 mile Yorkshire Scenic route. Both finish at Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire after passing through the market town of Masham where the Yorkshire Challenge riders will branch off and head into the Yorkshire Dales to attempt a steep climb to the top of Kidstones Pass. Commercial law firm Lupton Fawcett Denison Till has also launched its own Yorkshire Classic cycling event as part of its sponsorship of the Grand Depart. The race, which will raise money for SportsAid, takes place on Thursday 1 May and will see 30 teams of four riders cover 67 miles of gentle routes and steep climbs before finishing at Ilkley Rugby Club. Managing director Richard Marshall says: “The Yorkshire Classic is our inaugural Yorkshire Grand Départ sporting event, which we hope will be an annual lasting legacy from the Tour.” n
The Grand Départ...will allow us to showcase opportunities in the region and clearly demonstrate our capability in hosting high profile, big ticket events
Networking face to face or online – what should I do? Networking can take on a variety of different forms. With more and more ways to keep in touch appearing every day, it’s sometimes difficult to work out what you should be spending time on. First of all, it’s important to work out who you’re trying to network with. Are you trying to make contact with new people or are you trying to get more from those who are existing contacts of yours, getting them to spend more or pass on your details to their own contacts? Most businesses like yours are looking to do a combination of both, bringing new potential customers on board while making sure existing customers remember you and spread the word. Next, you need to work out where you can find those people you’re targeting. Firstly, find out where your existing customers go to network – are they regulars at the local FSB meeting? Are they members of the local Chamber? Give member organisations and networking groups a call to find out what type of companies are members – could
these companies be interested in the types of products and services you offer? If so, go along and get involved! Finally, remember it’s not all about face to face. The rise of online networking and social media means that you can now network at any time of day, from anywhere. Particularly useful in terms of in-depth business networking is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 277 million users, so there are sure to be plenty of new and existing contacts for you to interact with. The various features of LinkedIn allow you to start discussions, connect with new and existing customers to broaden your network, and send direct messages to engage more people – all free of charge and all very easy to use. Using LinkedIn with a combination of other social networking tools such as Twitter (particularly taking advantage of Twitter ‘hours’ and other organised networking streams) can all add to your face to face networking effort and ensure that you reach every potential customer you can!
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Workwear provider is first past the post to win racecourse contract, cable firm lands hot deal in Mecca, businesses reveal confidence is high, legal practice goes for rapid growth, airline’s plans win backing >> Good news Ahead A new scheme has been launched which aims to create around 30 new business / education partnerships across the Leeds City Region. Following a successful two-year pilot scheme in central Leeds, Make the Grade – created by the Ahead Partnership and cited as an example of best practice by Lord Heseltine in his extensive report to government on national growth – has been awarded three years of funding from the Big Lottery Fund to develop the initiative.
>> Got your numbers Sheffield-based number plate maker Jepson & Company has acquired National Numbers Limited, based in the North East, for an undisclosed sum. The deal sees Jepson take control of one of the largest registration resellers in the UK. Jepson & Company is one of the longest established manufacturers and suppliers of number plates and number plate printing systems in the UK, Ireland, France and Belgium. It is in its fourth generation of family ownership and this strategic acquisition demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to develop and expand the business for the long term.
>> Baby grow An East Yorkshire baby accessories business plans to sell its bibs overseas in America following a successful period of growth. Funky Giraffe Bibs has grown year on year since being set up in 2009 by Yasmin Drury and now has a £500,000 turnover. The firm, which is based in Driffield, has
offices in Paris and now plans to focus on America as a market for its products. Celebrity fans of the company include Sienna Miller, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Nell McAndrew.
Jockey Frankie Dettori with business owner AJ Swinbank
>> Galloping success A Yorkshire-based workwear provider has secured a contract to supply all the uniforms for racecourse staff working at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. Leyburn-based 121 Workwear is making bespoke jackets, fleeces and beanie hats for staff at the races. These contracts, combined with a new contract to supply work uniforms for hygiene services company Ecolab UK, will take 121 Workwear’s annual turnover to more than £1m. The firm recently invested £100,000 to treble the size of its Leyburn production unit and quadruple its production facility. AJ Swinbank, 24, who set the business up 18 months ago, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be providing staff uniforms at events as prestigious as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. “These are iconic sporting events, not just in this country, but around the world, and we are honoured to be part of them”.
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>> Buy out secures jobs A Sheffield insolvency firm has secured a future for staff at a specialist food packer in Scunthorpe after it was bought out. Wilson Field was appointed as administrators to the Flixborough Industrial Estate-based business Ready Steady Veg Limited, which supplied caterers with prepared vegetables, after the company lost a major contract. Ready to Cook Veg Ltd, part of the established Nottinghamshire food manufacturer Barrowcliffes group, which specialises in the preparation and distribution of fresh quality produce nationwide, has bought the business of Ready Steady Veg Limited securing eight permanent positions. Administrators from Wilson Field in Sheffield were appointed on 5 February with the sale coming within two weeks. The total value of the deal is undisclosed but includes the business and the assets of the company.
Ready to Cook Veg Ltd has bought the business, securing eight positions >> Property group expands Property group RM English has expanded its residential department following a record-breaking year. Jonty Lightowler has joined the York-based company as the principal valuer, while Julie Butters has been appointed as the senior sales negotiator. Jonty joins from Dacre Son and Hartley, while Julie comes from Stephensons.
Combined Chambers team proves there is strength in numbers New Park Court Barristers Chambers is a large and well-established set of Chambers comprising 84 barristers in Leeds and Newcastle, including 10 QC’s. 13 of their barristers sit in a part-time capacity as Deputy High Court Judges, Recorders or Tribunal Chairmen At the start of 2012 Park Court Chambers, one of Leeds’ largest and longest-established sets, merged Newcastle’s New Court Chambers to create a regional powerhouse.The move combined the experience of the North-East’s pre-eminent barristers’ chambers and also provided individual and corporate clients with access to 84 barristers able to offer expanded expertise in civil, crime, commercial, family and other matters. At the time Michael Meeson, Chief Executive, of what has been dubbed the new combined ‘super set’, explained how the increase in size and reach would not come at the expense of the quality, integrity and reliability for which both had been traditionally renowned, and predicted growth for both sets under the new umbrella. The move has since been well received by clients in both Leeds and Newcastle and there has been a real sense of excitement and momentum. Chambers has been operating fully from its two bases in Leeds and Newcastle, and is today among the leaders in the fields of regulatory, family, crime, civil, employment, personal injury, chancery and commercial work. New Park Court Chambers are proud of their strong reputation for conducting substantial cases. Major regulatory, civil and family cases together with complex medical negligence and Health and Safety prosecutions are all undertaken, in addition to inquests, judicial review and cases involving human rights issues. Numerous cases are conducted in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and members of the specialist teams have appeared in the European Courts. Building on this momentum, New Park Court Chambers formed an alliance with a leading set from Birmingham. Birmingham’s Citadel chambers agreed to join forces in a move that saw a further 50 barristers from its nationally renowned crime
The Bar is constantly changing and will look like a very different place in five years’ time but with change comes great opportunity for those willing to embrace new ways of working team – including head of chambers Andrew Fisher QC – become available to New Park Court Chambers’ client base and vice versa. There was a strategic advantage to the joining of these two sets in a business relationship. First and foremost it enlarges the presence of both on the national stage and opens up potential new avenues of work. Secondly it indicates to the existing clients of both sets the type of forward-thinking, innovative and modern chambers they are working with. The Bar is constantly changing and will look like a very different place in five years’ time but
with change comes great opportunity for those willing to embrace new ways of working. New Park Court Chambers is in a great position to take advantage of those opportunities going forward. Focusing on the present, New Park Court Chambers has already seen benefits to its merger as new clients have been won and early financial results have improved. Service levels across both the Leeds and Newcastle bases are consistent by virtue of the very latest in IT systems and video conferencing facilities, with members able to work seamlessly wherever they are in the region. New Park Court Chambers are committed to growth while at the same time determined to continue providing the same high quality of service that they are renowned for. Despite their latest alliance, they are not closing the door to further enlargement and are keen to look at recruitment throughout their areas of specialism. Two recent appointments as QC have only added to the expertise. Michael Meeson concluded “Service to clients is the priority. This together with clear commercial strategy is the only way forward. We look forward to the future with enthusiasm.”
LEEDS 16 Park Place, Leeds, LS1 2SJ T: 0113 243 3277 E: firstname.lastname@example.org NEWCASTLE 3 Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ T: 0191 232 1980 E: email@example.com www.newparkcourt.co.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
>> Business confidence high
>> Cable firm lands Mecca expansion contract Cable cleats from North Yorkshire firm Ellis have been specified for installation in one of the biggest construction projects currently underway in Saudi Arabia. The Shamiya Haram, part of the holy mosque in the city of Mecca, is undergoing the biggest expansion in its history in order to place it in a central location and give it a new architectural dimension that will increase its capacity to 2.25 million worshippers – four times its current capacity. Ellis’ cable cleats will be used to secure power cables throughout its 75,000sq m. central utility complex (CUC), which when complete will serve the 1,423,271sq m Haram. “The size and complexity of this project needs to be seen to be believed,” said Ellis’ export director, Tony Conroy. “The expanded Shamiya Haram will be the size of a small town and as you’d expect of any project of this scale the technical infrastructure supporting it is extensive to say the very least.”
>> Outlook optimistic Nearly six years after the global financial crisis first hit, the economy is finally set to grow past its pre-recession level in the second half of this year. That is according to the latest Business Trends report by accountants and business advisers BDO LLP in Yorkshire. The predicted growth is fuelled by strong optimism and hiring intentions across all sectors of the economy, with manufacturers in particular feeling very positive about the future. The positive outlook is supported by BDO’s Output Index, which rose to 102.7 in February from 102.3 in January, to stand at its highest level since April 2010.
>> SMEs owed £291bn While British SMEs own £770bn in assets – equivalent to 48% of the UK’s GDP – they are owed £291bn in outstanding invoices, a report estimates. The report by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking suggests that more businesses should consider options such as invoice financing and asset based lending to avoid such issues. It also shows that the average SME in Yorkshire is sitting on £278,000 of assets and is owed £75,000 in unpaid invoices.
Businesses in Yorkshire and Humberside continue to feel confident about their future prospects as the economic turnaround gains momentum. The ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) published in midMarch, showed that confidence in the region has been on an upward trend since mid-2012 and now stands at +46.6, which is way above the +37.2 national average. The figures also showed that turnover among business increased 3.9% over the previous year, with gross profits rising by 3.4%, and sales volumes up 3.2%. This upward trend is expected to continue over the coming months, with firms forecasting growth of 4.8%in turnover, 5.5% in gross profits and 4.8% in sales volumes. The first quarter of 2014 has seen businesses in the region report increased export sales, up 2.4% over the last year. Chris Manners, ICAEW regional director for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “As we have seen with the recent GDP figures and this quarter’s BCM, the recovery is accelerating. We need to continue to push to grow our exports, against a backdrop of a widening trade deficit, at the same time as ensuring that the momentum in the UK economy is maintained across all parts of the country. Currently, the region’s reliance on the domestic market could leave businesses exposed to risks in the UK economy such as low pay growth and public sector payroll reductions.”
The recovery is accelerating...we need to push to grow our exports
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Getting the right advice for your business to grow There comes a point when every entrepreneur needs advice to take their business to the next stage. Knowing who to ask and how to make the relationship work is critical to success Look at pretty much any article about the successful traits of entrepreneurs and you will find that one of them is the ability to “know what you don’t know”. In many areas of running a business this is just a common sense decision. Filing for patents, or dealing with employment law are obvious areas where a specialist adviser saves time and takes the risk out of an important task: we rarely question the value of using an accountant or a lawyer and understand the difference between cost and value. Yet when it comes to getting advice around the direction or growth of the business itself, the willingness of an entrepreneur to look beyond their own ideas - or even those of their management team - is an area which many neglect. Finding the right source of advice when you need it can be challenging, particularly for the majority of growth businesses where there is no formal requirement to have a board of non-executives or even the guiding hand of a chairman. So how should you best go about looking for advice for growing your business? In our report, “A Good Piece of Advice” we looked at this issue and according to the entrepreneurs and advisers we spoke to, there were three main lessons to learn. The first is the importance of using the right adviser for the right job. Most businesses don’t need to tie themselves to one single adviser for the growth journey, least of all something modelled on the non-executive role found in larger listed
Mark Yellops, Market Leader for Yorkshire
businesses. Instead they need specific advice for specific situations: a non-executive adviser. Raising finance, exporting for the first time, product development or improving operations are all areas where an adviser can add value around a clearly defined task over a defined period of time. The second is that the quality and range of your
The quality and range of your advisers will be defined by the strength of your network. Nearly nine out of ten entrepreneurs rely on referrals to find advisers who fit the bill for their business so widening your network is a natural way of widening the potential pool of advisers
advisers will be defined by the strength of your network. Nearly nine out of ten entrepreneurs rely on referrals to find advisers who fit the bill for their business so widening your network is a natural way of widening the potential pool of advisers. You need to put yourself in a position to get advice before you actually need it. The third is to be flexible when it comes to remuneration. Any advisers you work with should want to make a major impact on your business. A day rate may be right for some more commoditised projects but for something where the stakes are high and you are looking to transform the business, linking the fees of your advisor to specific success criteria means you are likely to get the most out of that person. Not only will your objectives be closely aligned, they will be highly motivated to help you achieve them. In contemplating any move from self-reliance to using the support of an outsider to support business growth, there will always be the risk that the relationship won’t work out and it will prove an expensive mistake. But when it works out, hiring an advisor can provide an agent for change who can use their experience to transform the growth of a business.
For more information about becoming a Coutts client, contact Mark Yellops, Market Leader for Yorkshire on 0114 291 9242 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Calls may be recorded.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
>> Rapid growth planned Wakefield-based law practice Beaumont Legal plans to create 80 jobs by the end of the year in response to greater demand from the housing market. The firm is confident that it can keep on growing as a result of its work it is receiving through its conveyancing department, which is now one of the biggest in the country. The group, which has a turnover of more than £5m, has seen rapid growth over recent years, with last year alone seeing it expand from 50 staff to 120, with the majority of the new jobs based in its conveyancing division. Roy Cusworth, senior partner at Beaumont Legal, said: “Last year we began a major expansion of the conveyancing business as well as building a management team capable of developing Beaumont Legal into one of the country’s top providers of specialist and modern legal services”.
>> Business heats up Yorkshire online retailer Eco Stores Direct has launched a new division to specialise in newly developed products, following a new supplier deal with an American firm. The new department will focus on ‘far infrared’ heating products developed by
heating technology company Prestyl USA. The products are new to the UK and work by emitting safe infrared waves from discreet thin tiles that act as heaters and can be used to replace conventional radiators in domestic and commercial buildings. Eco Stores Direct, which is based in Knaresborough, has set up InfraredHeatersDirect.co.uk, which will grow its number of websites to three. The firm has grown rapidly since being launch last year by entrepreneur Paul Walker, who has extended its workforce to 10 staff.
>> Vet supplier is healthy Veterinary medicines supplier Animalcare continues to grow in line with management expectations. The York-based firm’s interim results for the six months ended 31 December, 2013 show growth in a number of key areas of the business. Revenue increased to £6.46m compared with £6.10m for the same period in 2012. Profits also grew as a result of the successful six month period, up from £1.34m in 2012 to £1.38 in 2013.
>> £300K boost for Vapour An online cloud services provider is confident of growth after receiving its second significant investment from Finance Yorkshire. Vapour Media, which provides cloud-based communications solutions, from network access to next-generation cloud voice and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, has received £300,000 to help it continue its route to market plan. This follows an investment of £250,000 by Finance Yorkshire during the early stages of the business. Both investments have been made through its Seedcorn Fund. Launched less than a year ago, Vapour Media provides its services to SMEs through a partner
network, with the ability to connect to any of the Tier 1 network providers; Vodafone, BT, Talk Talk and Virgin Media. The firm currently employs more than 10 people and was founded by directors Dom Waterson, Tim Mercer and Jason Sharp.
>> Boom time at BT Telecoms giant BT is creating 30 new apprentice and graduate jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber as part of a nationwide recruitment drive. The company is recruiting science, technology and business graduates who want to develop their career in the IT and telecoms sector. As many as 730 apprenticeships will also be offered by BT to UK school and college leavers in the areas of engineering, software design, IT support, finance and logistics. Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield are likely to be included as bases for many of the new recruits. BT has also created a new digital media technology apprenticeship that will provide the new recruits with experience and skills in web development, digital networks, digital TV and digital media distribution. BT has also said it will provide up to 1,500 vocational training and work experience placements for out of work youngsters in the UK over the next 18 months
>> Deals worth £3m Groundworks firm Howard Civil Engineering (HCE) has clinched four key contracts worth in excess of £3m with some of the UK’s leading construction companies. The Leeds business has begun work for ISG on building the new headquarters for NHS IT specialist TPP in Horsforth, Leeds, which will accommodate 200 people. The second commission involves a joint venture between Hochtief and Buckingham
Available to businesses throughout Leeds and Bradford.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Group. Bringing major improvements to the A57 north of Manchester, where a new port and distribution centre called Port Salford will be built. Howard Civil Engineering will build the concrete abutment for a new bridge to connect the development to the Manchester-Liverpool railway line.
>> Flight plan wins backing Business leaders from across the Sheffield City Region have given their backing to the creation of new flights from Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. UK Regional Airline, LinksAir, announced it will base an aircraft at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, launching new routes to Belfast City and the Isle of Man. Business friendly flight times have been developed in order to allow corporate travellers to arrive at the Northern Ireland capital by 08:15am most weekdays, with return flights at 12:25pm and 18:25pm. Belfast City Airport is just 15 minutes away from the city centre and the route starts from 7 April.
>> Trio back HS2 The chief executives of Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield Councils reaffirmed their backing of HS2 recently and underlined what they call a ‘groundswell’ of support from cities in the North for the project. Tom Riordan, of Leeds, Howard Bernstein, of Manchester, and John Mothersole, of Sheffield, agreed that strong planning and a collaborative approach among the core cities was key to ensuring success. The trio were joined by Fiona Fletcher-Smith, the executive director of development and environment for the Greater London Authority at an event in Leeds held during Investment Week at MIPIM 2014, to discuss how to drive growth from HS2 and build on work started during Investment Week 2013.
>> Cross Channel partnership to boost defence Defence and aerospace group NDI is bringing SMEs from the UK and France together to explore ways of collaborating. In partnership with the strategy and business development consultants Vanguard Intelligence, County Durham-based member organisation NDI is arranging a conference for SMEs and a range of bigger players from both countries, along with representatives and agencies from the two governments to explore business opportunities. The conference, France and the UK – Doing Business Together, is being held at Down Hall Hotel near Bishop’s Storford, Hertfordshire on 4 and 5 June. It will bring together at least 80 SMEs to focus on three important industry capability areas – autonomy, automation and robotics. It aims to boost the potential of SMEs, strengthening the UK-France defence and security relationship and promoting exports success. The conference follows a summit at which the two governments signed a statement of intent on a future combat air system and launched a two-year, £120m joint feasibility phase that will see British and French industries working together. BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation will lead the joint industry activity, which has the potential to promote co-operation between UK and French companies at all levels in the supply chain. Cross-channel collaboration has burgeoned since the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties which provided a framework for partnerships in defence, security, acquisition, research and technology. This NDI conference will seek to explore ways for business to capitalise on this alliance. The conference will also be relevant to those engaged in fields such as aerospace, space, transportation, automotive, marine, medical and energy; specifically to businesses with capabilities in areas including platform systems, propulsion and power systems, sensor and intelligence systems, control and handling systems and navigation and command systems. NDI executive director Dave Townsley said: “France and the UK have two of the most capable and successful high technology industries in the world and the potential for them to work together, both in their respective home markets as well as in third markets, is huge. “But it will not happen by accident. That is where projects such as the future combat air system can play such an important role in providing a focus for joint working and engaging with large and small companies as part of the project supply network. But there is much more that can be done to promote bilateral industry engagement. “As a membership organisation mainly for SMEs operating in the defence, aerospace, space, security and other sectors, NDI is keen to contribute to promoting the industry aims of the UK/ France Treaty and, particularly, to promoting business contacts between SMEs in the UK and France in order to explore opportunities to work together across a range of industry sectors.’’ Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said: “I welcome the initiative being taken by NDI and its partner, Vanguard Intelligence, in creating this opportunity for UK and French companies to meet and identify areas for future business collaboration. This will make an important contribution to the joint aim of the British and French governments to develop greater bilateral industry co-operation in the defence and security sectors, as well as promoting the broader industry relationship. I am particularly pleased that SMEs will be at the heart of the conference.” Information about the conference can be found on NDI’s website at www.ndi.org.uk.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Business IT – Evolution or Revolution In this article, TSG’s regional managing director for the North Mark Joynson considers how developments in technology have the potential to transform the way businesses operate, and asks the question ‘is it evolution or revolution?’ In the 10 years since leading technology services company TSG entered the market much has changed in the fascinating world of business IT. Whilst the economic downturn has seen caution around investment in IT, during this same period advances have been dramatic and the result is that for many businesses there’s now a substantial gap between their existing systems and what is now possible. More significantly, leading edge technology has become increasingly accessible and affordable and is undoubtedly within the reach of all forwardthinking businesses. Rather confusingly, the technology emperor has worn many new suits of clothes over the last decade. In fact, our industry is prone to hype and over-excitement, most of which drifts meaninglessly above the heads of business leaders and owners who are too busy doing what they do to notice. However, if you cut through the hyperbole, there’s little doubt that technology is more important than ever for businesses determined to drive their competitive advantage. One constant throughout this period of transformation is that the technology itself should never be the story but rather it should be how the technology can enable effective and efficient processes and most importantly drive productivity and profitability. So how do decision-makers determine what’s genuinely useful? And are the decision-makers themselves occasionally part of the problem when old habits and preferences die hard?
Mark Joynson, TSG’s regional managing director for the North
Is it a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ or ‘if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get the same results’? In at least some businesses, a shift in mind-set is probably required and at a reasonably senior level. I was interested to hear that our own CEO, David Stonehouse recently made a fairly radical change in his own use of technology, as he explains, “A combination of necessity, created by failing hardware, and coincidence catalysed the change although in truth it was something I’d been
It’s not about the technology, but rather it’s about the business process and determining the most effective mechanisms to deliver a fantastic customer experience – an experience that others can’t match
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considering for a number of months.” “To cut a long story short, I’ve shelved my iPad and my iPhone for the Microsoft Surface Pro and Nokia Lumia 925. The Surface, much maligned within the tablet market, actually operates as my main computer linked up to a normal keyboard and large format touchscreen.” In many respects, the hardware itself is largely irrelevant. What’s critical is that both devices use the Windows 8 operating system and settings flow seamlessly between them as part of Microsoft’s strategy of ‘one experience, across all devices, anywhere’. Dynamics NAV and CRM 2013 are also part of the Microsoft story and they seem to be joining the dots in a way that others haven’t, and in all probability, can’t. Admittedly, there’s been a lot of talk about Microsoft’s lack of traction in the device market but, then again, history suggests that they don’t always get it right as anyone who recalls Windows ME will testify. You could argue that getting it wrong seems to have been a conscious strategy that allows them to test, learn, move forward and ultimately dominate, even though they may not always be first to market. Amazon Web Services certainly got a head start but Microsoft’s Azure platform is catching up at a staggering rate and in many ways sits at the heart of their future plans. Even Sage – another of our key partners – has chosen to deploy its Cloud offering on Azure. All of this brings us neatly to the Cloud – something that seems to have dominated a disproportionate amount of column inches yet I suspect most don’t really understand including many who are promoting it as a ‘must-have’ for any business. A recent survey suggested 70% of businesses are still undecided about the Cloud, although many of these will probably be using
A recent survey suggested 70% of businesses are still undecided about the Cloud, although many of these will probably be using Cloud services already in some shape or form Cloud services already in some shape or form whether that’s in a personal or business context, and whether they realise or not. The issue of personal use is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can offer an insight into what’s possible in the world of ‘real-time’ and ‘mobility’. At the same time, it can dangerously raise expectation around what can be achieved in the business context, causing significant challenges for those who are expected to deliver – often with outdated tools and restricted budgets. The migration of businesses to the Cloud won’t happen overnight and it shouldn’t. More and more will see the value, but it must be a considered decision rather than a knee jerk reaction. Get the decision right, whether that’s a full on-line deployment, a hybrid approach or a high availability solution, and the improvements in business performance will speak for themselves. Again, it’s not about the technology, but rather it’s about business process and determining the most effective mechanisms to deliver a fantastic customer experience – an experience that others can’t match. Technology should certainly play a part but the industry has been guilty of overcomplicating, constantly reinventing wheels and charging hefty upfront fees for doing so, when the aim is actually to make life more straightforward. It’s this desire to make life more straightforward for our customers that has driven a significant investment in building an R & D team at TSG that combines the highest level of technical expertise with a proven track-record in delivering world-class products at small business, medium organisation and enterprise level. Harnessing on-the-ground intelligence from TSG’s 300 specialists and technicians, with a combined total of more than 5,000 years of experience, allows R & D to focus on developing quality
products that are appropriate, accessible and affordable for our customers. Our focus is developing products and solutions that address the common requirements shared across specific sectors, building on powerful platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, to create straightforward, configurable products that deliver great out-of-the-box functionality. Equally, they offer the possibility of limitless integration – essential when nothing in a successful technology environment can ever exist in isolation – and leave the door open for deeper customisation if required. Best of all, when we launch TSG Tribe for the membership sector later in the Spring, the first product developed by our R & D team, it will be available both on-premise or on a subscription basis as a private or public Cloud deployment to spread the cost of ownership. In sectors or businesses where there has been a technology lag or underinvestment, products like TSG Tribe could be the only way to bridge the gap and avoid being left behind. Everyone is looking to achieve more for less
and deployed astutely, that’s exactly what technology delivers. The key is to remain in control of technology and the starting point is to understand the contribution technology can make. So, is it evolution or revolution? That probably depends on the legacy you’re working with but either way it’s about embracing the positives to be gained through well-considered change. I suspect that we’re all now in a position where we can’t live without technology; the challenge for many remains how do we make the most of it?
For more imformation please call 0845 111 1888 or visit www.tsg.com
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
AS I SEE IT
will pirates sink your business? 20
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Sharon Jandu, director of business development & partnerships for the Yorkshire Asian Business Association, offers advice on data security According to a survey conducted by the Association of International Accountants, nearly 80% of small and medium businesses feel they don’t know enough about data security and intellectual property (IP). This is a problem, because the assets that really make a business ‘tick’ are the non-physical ones, like the way you use your know-how and the software and data that support it. The crucial first step is to have a clear view of the assets you own and use in your business. Some will be unique to you; others, you will buy or use under license. Both are types of IP. Every business needs to work (or ‘sweat’) assets like these to the full, especially in these difficult economic times. KNOW WHAT YOU USE Knowing what IP your company uses is critical to the successful running of any organisation. Software piracy is a growing issue across the world, with pirating in developing economies doubling in the past five years. 33% of small UK businesses are under licensed and installing software on to more devices than their agreement allows, and being under licensed is considered an infringement of intellectual property. A new study by the International Data Corporation and the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed a current trend which sees cybercriminals employ malware embedded within PCs that are running pirated software, which are then sold on to unsuspecting businesses and high street consumers. The investigation looked at 203 computers bought in the United States, India, China, Brazil, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Ukraine and Mexico, all of which had been pre-infected before being sold with malware such as worms, Trojans, hack tools and adware. Knowing what you use, also known as ‘software asset management’ (SAM) can
help you control costs and business risks for a healthier financial position. It can also help your business to optimise existing investments so that you can do more with what you already have, and grow. So take an inventory to find out what you have already and get organised, by reviewing and bringing together all of your licenses and documentation. Create policies and procedures, establish new standards and guidelines for all phases of the software lifecycle, maintain your SAM plan, and keep it current through spot checks, inventories and employee training. MAKE SURE YOUR ASSETS ARE SAFE AND SECURE Hackers and virus distributors are a constant annoyance and worry to businesses of all sizes. But today, there’s no reason why start-ups and SMEs shouldn’t be able to protect their PCs, devices and data from these threats. It is estimated that 64% of illegally licensed customers experienced security issues in the UK, and 73% of organisations illegally licensed are more likely to have loss of sensitive data. Despite the risks, many firms are still failing to secure their assets with robust IT security. A number of surveys last year hit the headlines with figures claiming that in excess of 60% of small businesses suffer some form of successful
AS I SEE IT
malware attack over any 12 month period. While many smaller businesses may be tempted to use unlicensed security software, or those offered for “free”, such a decision could prove more than costly. Such freebies can prove the ultimate false economy and can sometimes be the very way in which pirates carry malicious software into company systems. For peace of mind, check that free or cut price software is provided by legitimate companies directly, rather than through third parties. MAKING THE MOST OF TECHNOLOGY In many ways it seems that we are all living the technology dream. The advent of the internet, then the web and the ever faster evolution of services and devices have transformed the way people live their lives. We live in a period where technology is all around us, where it has become a natural, normal part of our every-day lives, the questions business should ask is ‘is my company making the most of it all?’ Small businesses cannot put off installing cyber-security any longer. It has become as normal as hiring an accountant or doing your taxes. Failing to have the proper measures in place could at best cause your business to stall in its future growth, and, at worse, spell the end of it all together as people begin to mistrust you with their data and ultimately their custom. Today’s career cybercriminals are more than shady individuals in darkened rooms, with piracy representing big business for those with the knowledge. Make sure you stay one step ahead and get protected. n
For peace of mind, check that free or cut price software is provided by legitimate companies
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
in association with
shedding light on creativity
Her first client still pays her in sandwiches, but with an annual turnover of £1.5m, Jane Slimming’s company, Zeal Media, is now making some serious bread. Andrew Mernin caught up with her in a garden shed Sitting under the shelter of a giant garden shed is an unusually sedate spot for a conflab about the breakneck paced digital world. Zeal Media founder Jane Slimming, however, wouldn’t have it any other way. And so, amidst the wood-panelled serenity, she charts the supersonic rise of her fast-growing empire. It’s worth noting that the setting for our interview is pretty smart as far as sheds go. There’s a flat screen TV nailed to the wall, a set of skis displayed in the corner and a scented candle for added atmosphere. Oh, and it stands inside an ultra-modern office in which 15 or so well turned out staff are beavering away at computers and devices. Zeal, based in the Tower Works building in Leeds, has doubled its annual turnover every year since its launch in 2010 and is currently at around the £1.5m-a-year mark. The firm, which prefers an indoor shed and Astroturf garden as its meetings spot, has evolved from purely an online advertising company into a thriving digital agency offering an intertwined mix of marketing, advertising and development. “You can’t tell somebody that you have a good product and expect them to believe it. People are far too savvy,” says Jane, the 33-year-old whose firm is a small but growing patch in what is the UK’s biggest
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digital and creative industry hub in terms of staff outside London. And savvy people who control marketing budgets are increasingly switching on to Jane and her team’s approach. Nimbleness and a passion for continually researching an everchanging industry have, says Jane, paid off. A glance at Zeal’s client list supports her theory, with Leeds Bradford Airport, British American Tobacco, Kwiksave and luxury brand retailer Page & Cooper among her customers. The marketing, PR and advertising game has transformed dramatically in recent years – with lines blurring and old methods becoming obsolete – but the Leeds firm has been quick to respond and kick on into several growth areas. These include online strategy, search engine optimisation, web design and development, email marketing and social
media management. But for all the pioneering methodology of the digital age, Jane says it is good old fashioned creativity that is flavour of the month. Jane says: “It is now about the way you communicate with people and find those conversations that have a relevance to your business or product. It’s about joining the conversation rather than forcing the conversation. Back in the ‘Mad Men’ era if you had a really creative idea and it had legs, you could do something with it because people weren’t used to seeing adverts. Then the media age came along and it was all about who had the most money to shout the loudest. “Now it has come down to creativity again. If you have a really creative idea, it doesn’t matter necessarily that you’ve got a small >>
Back in the ‘Mad Men’ era if you had a really creative idea and it had legs, you could do something with it because people weren’t used to seeing adverts
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budget. If you look at most videos on You Tube they are not huge big scale productions; they are things like cats playing pianos. This has created a more level playing field for brands.” With Jane having both youth and a wealth of industry experience on her side, she’s well placed to run a marketing agency fit for the 21st century. She originally worked in the chartered accountancy sector for Baker Tilly before moving into marketing and communications through an account manager post at agency Mediavest Leeds. Here she began to cut her teeth in the marketing industry, working on behalf of some of the group’s biggest clients. However, with entrepreneurial dreams beginning to form, she soon started plotting a future at the controls of her own business. She left Mediavest after three years having learned some vital lessons. She says: “The good thing about working at a small agency is there were no barriers to my progression. Within a year I was running the jet2.com account, which at the time had the largest advertising spend in the North. So I was doing all their outdoor, national and regional press.” With Jane becoming increasingly interested in the digital sector, she then sought to take her career purely into onlinefocused activities. “Digital was an area that I was really interested in. When it first came on the scene, all the
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offline people were like ‘oh it is rubbish’. It was a bit like they were the cool kids and those in digital were the geeks.” Successive account manager and account director roles at Acceleris Marketing Communications and Brilliant Media later gave Jane the opportunity to dive head first into the world of digital communications. But her ambition to set up her own business was becoming too great to ignore, especially as it would enable her to embrace the latest digital trends unhindered. While the reality of going it alone threw up more than its fair share of challenges, she was determined enough to make it work. “I started working out of a friend’s flat,” she says. “You couldn’t get Wi-fi in the lounge so I had to sit on the floor by the front door. Very quickly I moved into an office, where I was joined by Mike Jaques from Brilliant Media. “I never really questioned it would be a success. The first thing I did was go through all my old contacts and I was really surprised with the amount of people who wanted to help me. The first cheque we got was from The Roast Café in Leeds and, as the client is so significant for us, we recently held our 4th birthday party there. They are our smallest client and usually pay us in sandwiches, which we’re more than happy with.” From the off the business immersed itself in digital communications, with Jane’s first cheque coming from a social media project.
However, with many businesses still in the dark ages in 2010, Jane began to realise that she needed to offer services that allowed clients to play catch up, including web development and design. She says: “When we started off we were zero digital. It was just online marketing and we just drove traffic to web sites. However, there came a point where we were creating loads of traffic for clients but none of it was converting into sales. So with Mike’s technical background he changed their websites to make sure they converted better. >>
You can’t do social media without a decent content strategy and you can’t really do PR without social media. Those things are really strongly interlinked
Leeds University Business School
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“At that point we said, ‘why don’t we just build websites from scratch?’ We were a bit reluctant but, after sitting in a number of pitches by other web agencies to one of our clients, I realised that we could definitely do a better job.” Zeal soon evolved and launched a number of divisions, focussing on areas such as social media (Zeal Buzz), blogger outreach, creative campaigns and content generation. However, Jane is keen to stress that adding new services isn’t just about appearing to be up to date with the latest industry trends, but that they must be strategically linked as part of an overall service. She says: “You can’t do social media without a decent content strategy and you can’t really do PR without social media. Those things are really strongly interlinked. The message is definitely getting through to people that content is crucial. You can see by the blogs that we write and the fact that they
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are actually read. I think that one of the most important things going forward is knowing how everything works together and getting people the right touch points in their media.” As Zeal continues to grow it has emerged as a fearsome adversary of larger London agencies. “I think there has been a trend towards shying away from the London agencies. We actually do things, instead of taking 18 meetings to discuss doing them. I say to people hand on heart, we are better than those agencies, far, far better and far, far more cost effective. A lot of our really large clients know that now.” So, what does the future hold for the business? It looks to have already outgrown its current site and Jane admits she is now considering a new, roomier home for her staff somewhere in Leeds. Whether or not the shed will go with them remains to be seen. Perhaps not given that it is so big it had to be
winched up through an open window when it was first installed, breaking all manner of health and safety regulations. With ambitions to become a large agency, Jane is keen to build up her relatively young team with even more talent through the apprenticeships at the Leeds City College programme. She says: “I don’t care if someone has got a degree or not. If someone has a level of intelligence and a hard working attitude there are huge opportunities within our sector. Nobody is perfect, but we are offering somebody an absolutely brilliant chance to walk into a job at an agency. “I have seen a lot of agencies which, as they get bigger, change their culture and forget what it was that motivated them in the first place. I said when I first launched the business that I was going to grow a big agency and that I wasn’t going to lose sight of our core principles.” n
How to get more enquiries from your company website… So, you’ve been set the daunting task of creating your first company website. Or even more challenging you really can’t put off any longer the need to completely redesign the website you created using Dreamweaver back in 1997. It might have been number one back then, but so was Oasis and Blur! So whilst you might be putting off the inevitable, you might be surprised to hear that the perfect website really doesn’t exist. However, there are some key principles that you need to be aware of if you want a company website that will generate more enquiries for your business. First up - people buy from people. Especially people they know like and trust. It’s a given that your potential customers WILL check you out on the internet and it’s up to you to make sure they only find information that adds trust. In a fast paced information society, where data is everywhere, people will only read the headlines,
so what does your content say about you and your business? If you are stuck with where to start, help is at hand for eligible small and medium sized businesses in West Yorkshire. Free website reviews and masterclasses such as, how to effectively get more enquiries from your website are available via the Superfast West Yorkshire’s brand new business support programme. The FREE business support programme that launched at the beginning of February is designed specifically to help local businesses exploit the many advantages that faster broadband provides and includes a programme of events such as social media marketing, SEO and access to exclusive networking opportunities. Several successful events have already taken place across West Yorkshire in Huddersfield, Wakefield, Bradford and Leeds and Halifax, with more set to take place throughout 2014.
ISSUE NINETEEN: WINTER 2013
To find out how your company can take advantage or to find out more about what is on offer visit the Superfast West Yorkshire business support pages at www.superfastwy.co.uk. Or alternatively you can phone 0845 144 0040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about an event or Masterclass taking place near you.
ISSUE EIGHTEEN: AUTUMN 2013
BRIGHT IDEAS The consultant who lights up people’s lives READY FOR TAKE OFF WIND OF CHANGE
FLYING THE FLAG
Woman who’s a breath of fresh air in a man’s world
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PINTS OF INTRIGUE Brewer separates fact from fiction
KEEP ON PUSHING
SCENTS OF SUCCESS
Getting serious about giving
SOMETHING BREWING An old county brand gets better with age
Cartoon man’s vision for big screen success BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS
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Around the world with pram maker Silver Cross
STOKING THE ENGINE A digital empire comes out of the shadows
Freshening up the global hospitality market BUSINESS NEWS: COMMERCE: FASHION: INTERVIEWS: MOTORS: EVENTS
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COCKTAIL FOR SUCCESS
Taking on the drinks industry giants and winning
SERIAL STAR ISSUE SIXTEEN: SPRING 2013: YORKSHIRE EDITION
The nimble housing group that’s fighting back
ROLLERCOASTER RIDE ISSUE SEVENTEEN: SUMMER 2013: YORKSHIRE EDITION
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ISSUE EIGHTEEN: AUTUMN 2013 YORKSHIRE EDITION
ISSUE NINETEEN: WINTER 2013: YORKSHIRE EDITION
Mum’s burning ambition to revive textiles industry
Technology opportunities in focus
Around the world with the colliery kings
The theme park boss who wants to go faster
ISSUE SIXTEEN: SPRING 2013
NEVER TOO OLD
Secret millionaire on keeping business dreams alive
Executive aims to broaden airport’s horizons
Business Quarter Magazine
ISSUE SEVENTEEN: SUMMER 2013
RUNNING WITH THE MOB Mafia group mobilises ahead of expansion
Businesswoman donates skills to the third sector
The prolific Yorkshire entrepreneur behind a seemingly constant stream of start-up ideas
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BQ Magazine is delighted to announce the launch of the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Dinners launched in conjunction with MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival 2014 The BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Dinners bring together our featured and established entrepreneurs from across the UK with the challenge of being accompanied by an individual who in their view is representative of a next generation entrepreneur. The dinners are being held in Yorkshire, the North East, Scotland and the West Midlands prior to MADE in September 2014.
Join us to celebrate their success www.bq-magazine.co.uk/bq-events Sponsorship and ticket enquiries email: Kirsty@room501.co.uk or Rachael@room501.co.uk
Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Campaign Launches Small and medium sized businesses across Leeds City Region have been urged to take on an apprentice, as part of a new campaign officially launched by His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG The Duke unveiled the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Apprenticeship Challenge during his speech to 150 SMEs attending a conference at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, West Yorkshire, on Tuesday March 4th. The campaign aims to secure at least 1,000 SMEs offering apprenticeships for 16 to 24-year-olds during the next financial year across Leeds City Region. His Royal Highness told the audience that businesses can inspire young people by giving them a chance to develop and take pride in a skill, adding that has wider benefits for communities. He said that young people cannot gain experience and work skills if businesses are not prepared to offer that opportunity in the first place, and challenged employers to take on an apprentice. His Royal Highness acknowledged there are risks for businesses but said that the support being offered across Leeds City Region is helping to mitigate those. The Duke said: “An apprenticeship is the start of a career. I hope that the Leeds City Region Challenge can be fulfilled and that the momentum that has already started will continue.” A free and independent advice service is now available for small and medium sized businesses across Leeds City Region who want to find out about the benefits and practical steps involved in taking on an apprentice. The LEP’s Apprenticeship Hub Programme runs across ten local authority areas to make it easier for SMEs to recruit apprentices. For more information about the campaign and the advice available go to www.apprenticeship-hubs.co.uk. The hubs are based in Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire
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The Duke of York KG welcomes businesses to the launch.
An apprenticeship is the start of a career. I hope that the Leeds City Region Challenge can be fulfilled and that the momentum that has already started will continue (comprising Craven, Harrogate and Selby), Wakefield and York. They are targeting SMEs (businesses with 249 employees or less) who have not previously offered apprenticeships or who have not offered an apprenticeship within the last twelve months. Funding for the programme has been secured by the LEP through the government’s City Deal initiative as part of wider moves to tackle youth unemployment and boost business growth.
Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP is committed to maintaining this momentum. We will work with businesses to step up to the Apprenticeship Challenge and offer our young people the opportunities they need to develop their skills and gain vital work experience. We are delighted the Duke of York acknowledged the hard work of all our partners in providing the opportunities our young people need to build a career for the future.”
COMPANY PROFILE KEY FACTS
Small businesses leading the way A Bradford company has given their backing to a new campaign launched by His Royal Highness the Duke of York KG which aims to encourage more small businesses to recruit apprentices, as part of wider moves to boost young people’s skills and kickstart economic growth. Twenty-year-old Jonah Rooke from Tandem Marketing Solutions Ltd, Bradford, was one of three apprentices and their bosses who met His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG at the launch of the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge at the Royal Armouries on March 4th. The campaign aims to secure at least 1,000 SMEs across Leeds City Region offering apprenticeships for 16 to 24-year-olds during the next financial year. Tandem Marketing Solutions Ltd specialises in direct marketing services. Jonah and his employer Russell McGrath were asked on stage to speak to businesses at the conference about the benefits of apprenticeships. Jonah completed a business administration apprenticeship at the company in September 2012. He was based in the workplace four days a week and studied at Shipley College one day a week. Now he has found job success. On completion of his apprenticeship in September 2013 he was appointed Operations Assistant at Tandem Marketing. Jonah has recently been promoted to Operations Controller in January 2014. Jonah said: “It was a real privilege to meet His Royal Highness the Duke of York and was the
culmination of a very successful and rewarding period for me. Becoming an apprentice was the best move for me. Not only did I get to experience working in an office environment but I also was able to develop my people skills and achieve a number of qualifications in the process. The icing on the cake was being offered a full time permanent position with Tandem at the end of my apprenticeship. I now have a career, not just a job, and my recent promotion fills me with confidence for the future.” The benefits of having an apprentice have had a marked impact on the firm. Russell McGrath, Managing Director, added: “Although initially sceptical, especially as we are a micro business, the benefits we have enjoyed as a result of taking on an apprentice have made me an enthusiastic advocate of the apprenticeship programme. The time I was able to free up allowed me to focus on attracting new clients and growing the business, comfortable in the knowledge that the day to day administration and database duties were being looked after effectively. “As a direct result of taking on an apprentice we were able to generate new business which resulted in employing an additional two new members of staff. To have the chance to share our experience with other businesses and to have the high profile support of The Duke of York is invaluable in raising awareness of apprenticeships and the sound commercial benefits they can bring.”
• In Leeds City Region, a minority of businesses employ apprentices. National Apprenticeship Service data from 2010 puts the figure at 12.8%. However, 17% of businesses said they planned to increase the number of apprentices they have. • The barriers cited include concerns about being able to afford apprentice wages, the need for better economic prospects before being able to commit to taking on an apprentice, not being aware of the availability of apprenticeships for their sector, and a preference for recruiting graduates. The programme aims to help SMEs overcome those challenges. • Leeds City Region brings together the ten local authority areas of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York. It is the UK’s largest economic area outside London, with a population of three million, more than 100,000 businesses, a £53 billion economy, and generates 4% of the UK’s economic output. • The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s main aim is to create more opportunities for business to develop jobs. The LEP brings together the private and public sector, including local authorities, in order to achieve that. Go to: www.leedscityregion.gov.uk.
Russell McGrath started Tandem Marketing in 2008. He feels that his biggest professional achievement is setting up the business during the depth of the recession to help other small businesses gain opportunities. The business has seven staff. The company is planning to recruit three more staff including another apprentice.
For further information please contact 0113 247 6947 or email email@example.com
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Project helps small businesses invest in staff The Response Project is helping small businesses in the Leeds City Region invest in developing the skills of their workforce. The first of its kind in the region to be driven by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) skills priorities, the project, led by Leeds City College, offers free support to small businesses to help them enhance their employees’ skills and develop their career prospects while driving up productivity. The scheme is backed by the LEP and benefits from £11.8m of funding from the European Social Fund, which is being made available through the Skills Funding Agency to finance training for people in employment. Tom Keeney, Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber for BT, who chairs the project’s strategic group said: “99.5 per cent of businesses in the Leeds City Region employ less than 250 people - they are the engine of our economy and improving their employees’ skills will improve their businesses, create jobs and deliver growth and I urge every small business to get involved.” Providing free support is one of the key benefits of the project which means employers can enjoy the benefits of trained staff without having to invest their own funds. The project focusses on providing training to employees who are aged 19+ in small and medium enterprises and microbusinesses in a range of priority skill sectors including business & financial services, care, construction, digital technology, education, health, life sciences logistics, low carbon industries manufacturing and retail. A large network of specialist providers is on hand to deliver accredited training at various levels,
Small and medium sized businesses across the Leeds City Region are being encouraged to take advantage of funded training and support opportunities facilitated by the Response Project
dependent of the needs of the employer. In addition to providing learning opportunities that lead to qualifications, the Response project can also enhance employees and businesses with specialist interventions in leadership and management skills, action learning groups, succession planning and mentoring, business intervention and analysis techniques, development of augmented learning tools, rural business engagement and export and global trade expertise. This activity will continue to develop as emerging needs are identified. The project also offers the opportunity to develop new training and resources which meet the exact emerging business needs of employers across the region. Through the Local Response Fund, the project can work with employers to research & design bespoke support packages.
The first of its kind in the region to be driven by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) skills priorities, the project, led by Leeds City College, offers free support to small businesses to help them enhance their employees’ skills and develop their career prospects while driving up productivity BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Project Director at Leeds City College Jennie Beaumont said: “The College is delighted to be involved in taking an active role in supporting the continued growth of the Leeds City Region economy. We ask that companies who have a training or development need come forward and take advantage of this wonderful offer.” Project Partnership Manager, Nat Lindo added “We are aware that only a third of small and medium enterprises in the Leeds City Region access training and this is a real opportunity for more companies to come on board and take advantage of free training to address current skills gaps.”
To find out more about the Response Project, eligibility and how to access support please contact 0113 216 2064 or visit www.theresponse.co.uk
Leeds City Region - delivering our skills ambition The economy of the Leeds City Region is changing. Increasingly, more people are needed with higher level skills to support the growth of our existing and future businesses. We need to: • Improve educational attainment and support enterprise and innovation; • Ensure that those seeking employment are ready for work and are given high quality and impartial careers guidance; and • Develop the skills of the current workforce by helping employers to invest more in apprenticeships and training. The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) ambition is to transform the future of Leeds City Region, building a knowledge-rich, creative economy fired by resurgent manufacturing, technical and engineering expertise. This will demand the highest levels of education in our workforce, from the youngest apprentices through to the leaders of our big businesses. The LEP is acknowledged by government to be a national leader on the Skills agenda. It has established an Employment and Skills Panel, led by private sector employers acting as champions for their sectors and working on very practical and beneficial actions which include: Better Informed Choices – Beverley Parrish, Waste Services Director at WSP, has led this work programme to produce fact sheets, lesson plans and videos across key City Region sectors, for use in schools and colleges and with parents in order to encourage young people to make informed choices about future career options - see www. lcrjobsintel.co.uk. Five three one – this initiative enables businesses to invest in future skills, to offer work placements and real-world exposure to young people. To date, over 300 businesses have joined the campaign delivering significant, positive benefit for the economy. Software Engineering – Paul Gibson, Managing Director at PureNet is leading a strand of work to address skills shortages relating to skilled software engineers, programmers and coders.
Roger Marsh, Chair – Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership
We want to leapfrog other City Regions, not play catch up. Achieving the highest possible levels of education and skills linked to our sustainable economic strengths and growth priorities will be key determinants of how we raise our game Utilising his networks, Paul mobilised eleven MDs and CEOs of software related businesses to a roundtable discussion on the skills issues facing their businesses. Arising from this discussion, funding has been secured for a test-bed ’Accelerator’ programme aimed at people who wish to work in this field but lack the technical or programming skills required by employers. Discussions are now under way with colleges and universities to design the ’Accelerator’ element. Engineering/Advanced Manufacturing - Simon Nadin (General Manager – Mechanical Drives), at Siemens, and Phil Ball (UK Managing Director) at
Kodak are working with a wider group of employers under the banner of the Leeds Manufacturing Forum to develop a University Technical College for the sector. Simon has also toured Leeds City Region universities giving talks to undergraduates to inspire and encourage them to pursue active careers in engineering. Enterprise – Amjad Pervez, Founding Partner at Seafresh/Adams Group, is leading a group of employers and educators to ensure that schools, colleges and universities are doing their best to create an ’eco-system’ of enterprise and help young people to be innovative, and entrepreneurial. In addition, the LEP has had a major impact in reducing the number of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and has secured over £20m of funding to help young people achieve positive results whether it be a job, an apprenticeship or a place on a training course. Our results, with the influence of the Employment and Skills Panel and its key partners, are above those being achieved elsewhere. Stephanie Burras, Chair of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Panel is not complacent though, stating: “We need to inspire and encourage people towards developing future technologies, products and services. To achieve this, we need to couple the passion and commitment of business leaders with that of teachers and advisers so that everyone is stretching the capabilities and aspirations of their students and employees.”
For further information please contact 0113 247 6947 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Producing enterprising and employable graduates is at the heart of what we do Leeds Trinity University runs over 1200 placements a year (with 80% in Yorkshire) and 91%* of our graduates are working or studying six months after graduating. Graduates still face an increasingly challenging job market though, so we have bottled up an ‘employability formula’ which aims to get more of our graduates into graduate level jobs. This formula includes professional work placements with every degree, employer feedback on placements to include required graduate and sector skills, employer events which give us market intelligence to inform our curriculums, local business and alumni networks, graduate internships, employability skills embedded into our degree programmes, volunteering opportunities to develop employability skills, one-to-one support to guide individuals through career planning and job search, and business mentors for final year students. PLACEMENTS Leeds Trinity was the first university to pioneer the inclusion of professional work placements with every degree, and placements continue to form an integral, assessed part of every course. By the time students graduate, they have up to three months of degree relevant experience on their CV, valuable references from employers and a network of professional contacts. Many of our students gain their first graduate job either directly or indirectly from their professional placement. On placement students get actively involved in the working environment either on specific projects or offering general support to the organisation. We work with a huge range of placement host employers including retail companies, financial institutions, manufacturers, law firms, marketing and PR agencies, public and third sector organisations, newspapers and magazines, television and radio, sports and health organisations, and schools. GRADUATE INTERNSHIPS Graduate Internships are paid posts for three or six months and give graduates the chance to prove themselves to employers before any offer of
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Charlotte Scotland, Journalism student, on placement at Northern Ballet
Leeds Trinity is renowned for its incredible success rate in getting its students employed GABBY LOGAN, UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR permanent employment, enabling businesses to try out a new post or project without committing long term. Graduate Internships offer businesses free advertising and access to a diverse pool of motivated, work-ready, and recently qualified individuals with an enthusiasm and willingness to take on new challenges. An internship is a great opportunity for businesses to develop a graduate’s capabilities, adapt them to their business and help retain graduate talent in Yorkshire! Work could include setting up and implementing a social media strategy, market research, project or event management, or general support. IMPROVING OUR WORK WITH EMPLOYERS Our employer events enable employers to meet departmental staff, share good practice, review student performance and discuss recent industry changes which may affect graduate employability; such as changes to funding, new qualifications, new processes and fluctuating customer demands.
This feedback informs Leeds Trinity’s curriculum and ensures our graduates develop sector-specific skills and knowledge. The employers that we work with have told us that holding regular employer events, with a particular focus on graduate skills and recent sector changes, is new and groundbreaking. LEEDS TRINITY BUSINESS NETWORK LTBN is an informal, thriving network where local businesses make good connections and leads, raise their profiles and work with the university to support local business in our area. Established in June 2011, the Leeds Trinity Business Network has run regularly ever since with lunchtime sessions every two months and a steady increase of members. The network is made up mainly of local businesses in the Leeds area and is held at Leeds Trinity University campus in Horsforth, Leeds. Being a university, we have a focus on learning and like each member to go away from each session feeling they’ve learnt or gained something for their business. Some of our members work with us to support students on placement or in graduate internships to help sustain graduate employability in our area. WORKING WITHIN LEEDS CITY REGION Leeds Trinity University plays an active part in the Leeds City Region Skills Network and our on-going work with employers and students are in line with the priorities of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s Skills Plan. *Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Destination of Leavers Survey 2012
We are always looking to work with more businesses so if interested in any of the above please contact Jess Sewter, Employer Partnership Manager at email@example.com tel: 0113 2837182.
Five three one campaign helps Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership add £7m to local economy The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is driving forward an innovative, free to all business campaign to increase apprenticeships, mentoring, links between business and skills providers as well as work placements. 106,000 businesses operate across our city region, which means we have as many opportunities to help our economy, our entrepreneurs and young people flourish. ‘five three one’, is the first campaign of its kind to help increase investment in skills and ensure those out of work have the necessary skills to find and stay in work. With the offer of hassle free support to businesses to take on an apprentice,
offer a work placement, mentor a new business, develop the skills of your workforce and build links with education - the campaign will help to boost local economic growth. Over 300 companies, representing more than 180,000 employees across the city region are now supporting the five three one campaign and their actions have added almost £7m to the regional economy. Councillor Peter Box, chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board, said: “We know that every £1 invested in apprenticeships generates £18 back to the economy.” “Companies across the city region are feeling the benefits of the campaign and we have people
Tel: 0113 2837182
signing up every day”, says the Chair of the city region employment and skills panel, Stephanie Burras, Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership.
If you would like to grow your business please support this free campaign by registering at http://business.leedscityregion.gov.uk/ campaigns/fivethreeone/join/ or contact the five three one team on 0113 2476947
Leeds Trinity is committed to enhancing the employability of its students and helping them secure their first graduate job. This is only made possible by connecting with employers like you Could you offer an internship to a graduate? Graduate internships are paid posts that run for 3 or 6 months. They are flexible to suit your business needs and cost effective as there are no recruitment costs. If you would like to try out a new role, increase capacity at a certain time or get new projects started within your business then a graduate internship could be the ideal staffing solution for you. Could you offer a placement to a student? Placements are unpaid and run for 6 weeks as an embedded and accredited part of our degrees. Students work full time on specific projects or as general support to the work that you do. Work could include accounting, finance, marketing, digital & social media, events, admin, research etc. Leeds Trinity University runs over 1000 placements a year, with over 80% of these based in Yorkshire. Want to find out more? Please contact Jess Sewter, Employer Partnership Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0113 2837182
Student James Gregg on placement at Sky Sports.com
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Irrepressible entrepreneur Jonathan Turner turned a whimsical notion into an outrageously ambitious project. Andrew Mernin reports
flight of fancy really took off Jonathan Turner awoke one morning with a sudden desire to build a tree house. An unusual dream for a 47-year-old man, perhaps, especially for one with so little time for frivolous pursuits. More pressing was his responsibility at the helm of his 95-year-old, £400m-a-year business Bayford Group. But having such wide-eyed enthusiasm for the new and being endowed with that blend of stubbornness and naivety which touches many an entrepreneur he cracked on regardless. “I think any bloke would like to have a tree house,” he says. “I woke up one morning and just thought wouldn’t it be great to have a tree house. Then I thought, where’re we going to put it? And the idea just kind of morphed into having meetings there and it developed.” The catalyst which sped the idea from whimsy to reality was a rediscovered link with the past. Energy-focused but diverse investment group Bayford has as its HQ Bowcliffe Hall at Bramham near Wetherby. This grand old Yorkshire home was also, in a previous life, the stately pile of Robert Blackburn – the unsung airplane buccaneer who helped to found the modern aviation industry. Yorkshire’s answer to Amy Johnson and Louis Bleriot pioneered powered aeroplanes and launched Britain’s first scheduled air service – the half-hourly flight from Leeds to Bradford. As Turner piece by piece uncovered the life
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and times of Blackburn his tree house idea and growing intrigue for the aviator became entwined. The result was a plan for a £5.5m transformation of Bowcliffe in honour of Blackburn, including the construction of a giant tree house shaped like an aircraft’s wing which will host conferences and gatherings. Four years into the project – which opens this autumn – Turner says “it’s already sneaked over budget”, admitting that the current tab is running at around £1m more than initially estimated. But such is his hunger to make the end product match his vision that he’s refusing to scrimp on so much as a nut or bolt on the project. It also helps that he sits at the helm of a business generating hundreds of millions of pounds of annual turnover through fuel, property and miscellaneous interests. “You could say this project in itself is a full time job for me but then I already have about 10 full time jobs,” he says. “I’m not normally a control freak but perhaps I am on this one. I’m picking the wallpaper, deciding the floor and I’m always on the phone. But I have to be because this is such a fantastic opportunity and we have to get it right.” The Blackburn Wing is constructed from copper-clad wooden beams forming an aeroplane wing amid the wooded area of Bowcliffe’s grounds. It will have a capacity to hold almost 150 people for drinks receptions, with additional meeting or banqueting spaces.
The venue will cater for events of all shapes and sizes from weddings to conferences, but has no aspirations to be a hotel. The other major part of Bowcliffe’s redevelopment glories Turner’s one true passion in life – motoring. The entrepreneur, who confesses to owning “quite a few cars”, is never too far away from his next motoring challenge – whether that’s driving from Peking to Paris in a 1907 Itala or tearing round Silverstone in some other vintage machine. His office is the engine room of Bowcliffe Hall and is in fact a shrine to life on four wheels. A giant silver Jaguar leaps out from one corner while legions of other car-related trinkets, pictures and paintings populate every available inch of wall and shelf space. Clearly, then, the other new development at Bowcliffe, The Driver’s Club and Briefing Room, is a project with Turner’s fingerprints all over it. “I’m into racing and rallying so I thought, ‘why not build a driver’s club?’ It’s going to look like a gentleman’s club from the 1920s and 30s, with wood panelling and rich fabrics. It’ll be very British and very Yorkshire. I’m tracing a lot of Yorkshire drivers going back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s and I’ve been collecting old pictures for the project for a while.” Planks of wood flooring and blueprints for the interior of the development are splayed across a large table in Turner’s office. And his tales of >>
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I’ve been told by my team to slow down. But things crop up...and opportunities arise. A few years ago I thought I’d like to have a tree house. Now I’m building a conference centre for 150 people the lengths he’s gone to in sourcing furnishings and other desirables for the new wing and driver’s club show just how involved he is in the project. Real tails from disused jets will be used as tables in the Blackburn Wing, explains Turner as he laughs off the rising cost of his grand redevelopment plans. He has limited almost all of this spending to suppliers and service providers in Yorkshire however as he is very keen on what he calls The Yorkshire Pound. “It is worth the investment even just in terms of the laughs, enjoyment and pride we’ll all get looking at the tree house and wondering how the hell we actually did it.” He has also trod carefully through the planning
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process, realising the historic value of Bowcliffe. “I’m just a custodian of this building and in 100 years time someone else will be sitting here thinking ‘which idiot built that’,” he says nodding towards the window which looks onto the emerging tree house structure. Turner’s passion for the project has intensified as his detective work has brought him closer to Robert Blackburn. A letter he uncovered led him to the dusty corner of an aviation museum where he was handed a book revealing a previously unreported aspect of Blackburn’s life. “The most exciting thing for me is that in the last few months I was given a letter from
1918 which had the header ‘The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Company’. So I was thinking ‘what is this motor business, did he make cars?’ Then a guy at the museum showed me a book and I had tears in my eyes when I saw public service vehicles and buses that Blackburn had made. This was the biggest revelation that nobody had awareness of.” In fact not even Blackburn’s ancestors who have been helping Turner piece together the aviator’s history knew about this aspect of his career. But they did reveal many other things about Bowcliffe though. “Robert Blackburn’s daughters Janey and Sarah lived here until they were 16 and 18 and I’m so lucky that they are passionate about what I’m doing. You could argue that I’m trashing their family home but when they came to the place they were beside themselves with excitement. “They were pointing out where the butler used to sleep, where their nanny stayed, where the groom’s quarters were, which was fascinating. “They sadly sold the house on Robert Blackburn’s death in 1955 and Sarah remembers walking out and closing the gate for the last time. Being invited back here by some mad entrepreneur is like some crazy whirlwind for them.” Walking the grounds with Turner as he points the recently welcomed Red Kites soaring overhead and talks of the sheer opulence he plans for Bowcliffe’s new developments, there’s a hint of the Great Gatsby about the whole thing. “I want people to come here and say ‘wow’ about 26 times before they leave,” says Turner with darting eyes and the vigour of a true showman. Unlike the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, however, there’s nothing shady or mysterious about this entrepreneur’s wealth generation. The empire Jonathan heads up had its roots planted by three muddy-booted Tommies seeking prosperity in the peaceful melancholy of post WWI. Battle fatigue had robbed none of the Leeds lads of their entrepreneurial vigour and, on their return to Yorkshire, named their coal merchant’s business after the Hertfordshire village they had previously been demobbed to. While energy has since remained at the core
of the business, its path towards the circa £400m-a-year giant it is today has been more labyrinthine than meandering. Oil distribution in the early 1960s morphed into petrol retailing in 1969, before further diversification into property, opencast coal mining, shipping, electronics, pollution prevention and fuel cards. Other highlights include the 1995 acquisition of Burmah Oil and involvement in the £47m rescue deal of Britain’s biggest independent petrol firm Save Group plc in 2000 alongside entrepreneur Jack Petchey. All 409 stations have since been offloaded, as has the lucrative Gulf fuel brand it acquired in 2001 – sold in a package with Bayford Oil and heatingoil.co.uk to GB Oils for £22.5m in 2009. Meanwhile, a pioneering move into providing fuel cards to businesses across the UK in the early 90s continues to pay off with the group now a dominant player in that market and enjoying close relationships with the likes of BP, Shell and Esso. “Our fuel card businesses continued growing right through the recession,” says Jonathan. “As fuel costs rise, they help control expenditure for fleets, white vans, trucks and company cars.”
Our interview takes place 10 years to the week that Turner completed a family management buyout (FAMBO) of the business. So busy has he been in the period since, that he is oblivious to the anniversary until prompted by BQ. “There’s been just dozens and dozens of highlights in that time,” he says. Perhaps among them are the seven acquisitions his firm made in the first year after he assumed control. “We were lucky it was in a time when the banks were willing to lend. They lent when I wanted them to and they trusted my management team and me to do the job and deliver and we did. We never let anyone down and we grew businesses. We were successful and still seem to be. “Much of that is down to my MD Liz Slater. After working together for 26 years I wouldn’t be where I am without her keeping me on the straight and narrow”. “We’ve got a good track record and so banks are prepared to lend that’s why we are where we are now continuing to develop and grow businesses.” Holiday homes in remote Northumberland, plans for a motorway service station on the A1, a 13,000 acre Scottish estate and Yorkshire children’s adventure company Battlebox form other investments backed by the group.
Meanwhile its subsidiary The Right Fuelcard Company currently operates a thriving duel-branded fuel card for both Shell and Total customers. Last year the company also invested in a new fuel card business, Diesel 24 and in a return to the company’s roots, oil distribution company Oilfast. Both are based in Scotland and, according to Turner, growing rapidly. So, aside from current aviation inspired activities, what’s the next note in Turner’s entrepreneurial composition? “I’ve been told by my team to slow down a bit. But things crop up, things happen, conversations take place and opportunities arise. A few years ago I thought I’d like to have a tree house and now I’m building a conference centre for 150 people. “We’ve recently bought the Laudale estate in Scotland with acres of farm and forest land, hydro and biomass schemes – so I’m learning about things I didn’t know anything about. “My business ethos has always been have fun, make money in that order. It’s always been about enjoying ourselves.” Given the fervour he shows as we explore the stone, wood and metal skeleton of his new conference centre, he’s certainly doing that. And, as a maxim for success, his approach clearly works. n
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in association with
Hunt is on for a developer to transform iconic building, Enterprise Zone land opened up to potential occupiers, university unveils development plans, surge in demand at popular business parks >> Springboard to success
>> A towering challenge awaits developers The hunt is on for a developer to work on the transformation of the iconic Tower Works site in Holbeck, Leeds. The Homes and Communities Agency and Leeds City Council are working collaboratively to bring the 1.01 acre site to market, and a development competition is due to start in early April. Including the historic Engine House and three Italianate towers, it is a key site in the city’s 136 hectare South Bank development – one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe. Suitable for high-quality residential, office and mixed-use development, it’s hoped that outline proposals from interested developers will be invited by May/June and the final development partners chosen by the end of 2014. While the Engine House will form part of the plans, the Italianate towers will remain under council ownership as heritage assets. Holbeck Urban Village is the hub for the creative and digital sector and has 150 businesses and 2,500 people working there and it is hoped that the competition will help stimulate further regeneration in the area. It is already set to benefit from the creation of a new £17.3m southern entrance to Leeds City Station. With work already underway and due for completion in spring 2015, it is estimated that up to 20% of Leeds’ rail station passengers would benefit from the new entrance. The South Bank is also the chosen site for the new HS2 station which, together with the current station, would make it one of the busiest transport interchanges in the country.
Holbeck Urban Village is the hub for the creative and digital sector – it is hoped the competition will help stimulate further regeneration in the area
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York-based Expresso Investments has made £7m of investments through its Expresso Properties division since moving into York Science Park last year. The firm, which moved into the park’s incubation space, Springboard, last summer, was established by architect and designer Stephen Hampshire, chartered accountant Jonathan Emmott and chartered surveyor Nick Robinson and specialises in developing mixed use regeneration schemes, rebranding properties, refurbishment and green field sites. Projects have included the refurbishment and rebranding of 146 apartments in areas including Darlington, Gateshead and Hartlepool. Jonathan Emmott, director at Expresso Properties, said: “Our first six months in Springboard have been incredibly busy and very exciting. With our combined experience and expertise in both commercial and residential property we have already been able to secure and deliver three quite complex projects which our clients are delighted with. “We have agreed our acquisition criteria for 2014 with our equity funders and we are very positive about the year ahead.” Tracey Smith, managing director of York Science Park, said: “We are thrilled that Expresso Investments has got off to such a fantastic start in Springboard. Their figures reflect that the economy is on the upturn and confidence is returning to the property sector. With their skills and expertise I am sure they will continue to report their success and see sustained growth.”
>> New plans for antiques Work started in March on a new retail development in Harrogate. Business partners Graham Watson and Jason Clay recently purchased the trading companies Harrogate Antique and Auction Rooms Ltd and Brookside Nurseries Ltd on Leeds Road, Harrogate, with plans to create a “retail destination”
for antiques, gardening products and home interiors. Entrepreneur Watson and property developer Clay are now developing the two businesses, which are currently on neighbouring sites, into one retail destination under the new name of Crimple Hall.
phases, the partnership has unveiled the third phase which extends to 29 acres of ‘oven ready’ land and benefits from EZ status.
>> Building sale tops £1m An office building on Gelderd Road in Leeds was sold in February for £1,075,000 to Scunthorpe based The Clugston Group. The deal was brokered by property consultants Jones Lang LaSalle and Bray Fox Smith on behalf of Signal Property Investments. Gelderd Point, which fronts on to Junction 27 of the M62 at Gildersome, comprises a modern three-storey office building, offering open plan accommodation of up to 20,386 sq ft.
>> Business help made EZ As Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone increases in size by almost half, a Sheffield developer has launched 29 acres of ‘oven ready’ land which has EZ status, in a bid to bring large occupiers into the region. St Paul’s Developments has brought land at Smithy Wood to market following news in March of the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone’s expansion. Able to accommodate 500,000 sq ft, Smithy Wood is one of the largest of the nine strategic sites on the LEP’s ‘economic growth corridor’ with EZ status. That means it can now offer various benefits to occupiers such as tax relief through business rates, enhanced capital allowances, simplified planning and recruitment support. Smithy Wood has immediate access to Junction 35 of the M1 and has attracted a host of high profile occupiers since work started on the business park in 2005 including Kier, DPD, Medilink UK and Konica Minolta. Regeneration specialist St Paul’s Developments has already transformed 20 acres of the extensive 50 acre site in a joint venture partnership with The Norfolk Estate with over 165,000 sq ft of developed space in Phases 1 & 2.Following the success of the first two
>> Retail plan imminent Retail property developer Hammerson is expected to start the main construction works of its £150m Victoria Gate retail development in Leeds in the coming
weeks. The project will bring the first John Lewis department store to the city alongside other big name retailers. The scheme will consist of a 21,000 sq m John Lewis store and a retail arcade with up to 30 stores, restaurants and cafes. The build, which is due to be finished in 2016, will also include a casino and a multi-storey car park.
>> Sunny outlook at mill Four deals have been completed at business centre Sunny Mill Banks between Leeds and Bradford, which will see Vision Chemicals, Be Beautiful, Soundproof and Sue Wilson Photography move into the refurbished mill. All four businesses have taken up space in Sandsgate, the 10,700 sq ft Edwardian mill office, which has recently been transformed as part of a £750,000 modernisation programme. The deals follow two transactions made at the end of last year, which saw Leeds Foodbank (West) and Karen Gavin photography move into the complex.
>> Law firm spreads out Specialist law firm Capsticks has expanded its Leeds HQ by almost 8,000sq ft as part of its growth plans. Capsticks has added a further 7,797 sq ft of space at Toronto Square in the centre of Leeds following an agreement with M&G Real Estate, the real estate fund management arm of M&G Investments. Capsticks specialises in health and social care and social housing.
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>> University’s £24m development plans unveiled HLM Architect has unveiled its plans for the £24m development of Sheffield Hallam University’s Collegiate Crescent Campus. The Sheffield firm has been appointed by the university to create a new central building complex for its Collegiate Crescent Campus, which will provide high quality academic, teaching and social spaces. The major scheme, which is due for completion in August 2014, will include a three-storey atrium, a new café, open learning zones and IT areas. The atrium will also become the main circulation route from which all of the building’s facilities will be accessed. The department of Law, Criminology and Community Justice will benefit from specialist areas including a moot court and legal advice centre. The departments of Psychology, Sociology and Politics will also benefit from new teaching spaces alongside specialist research areas. Terraces on the upper floors will also improve the links with the surrounding landscaping and will provide external social spaces for staff and students.
>> Office take up doubles The take up of city centre offices in Leeds hit twice its quarterly average in the final three months of 2013, making the area the best performing outside of London. According to a recent report by commercial property management group GVA, Leeds followed an impressive first half of the year with its highest level of activity in the final
quarter of 2013, with office take-up totalling 259,111sq ft, which is 76% above its five year annual average. Recent significant deals in Leeds include Leeds City Council committing to 170,000sq ft in a complete refurbishment of Merrion House. Professional services company KPMG also agreed to take the remaining grade A space at Broad Gate.
ONLINE: More commercial property stories are available on BQ’s website www.bq-magazine.co.uk
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The report, called The Big Nine, reports that last year, GVA’s nine city centres – including Leeds and all major cities outside of London – recorded the highest level of annual office take-up within the last five years, totalling 4.82m sq ft. Deals at White Rose Park and Leeds Valley Park, also saw out-of-town take-up in Leeds in 2013 more than double its five year annual average. Matthew Tootell, director of national Offices at GVA, said: “It is clear both from investor sentiment and the levels of occupier demand that the UK’s regional cities are once again beginning to push forward. “However, moving forward there are clear constraints which will curb new speculative office development. Whilst we have seen the early signs that this market is returning, there is clearly going to be a looming shortfall in Grade A availability. This will provide selective rental growth during 2014 onwards and investors are now more willing to consider an increased exposure to risk where the right levels of return justify it. “From an occupational perspective there are now a fairly significant number of deals close to finalisation which suggests that we should see 2014 being even better.”
>> Freehold acquired Motor dealership chain Cars 2 Limited has acquired the freehold interest in its Barnsley Peugeot showroom for an undisclosed sum. The firm, which has dealerships across the Yorkshire region, is an authorised and approved supplier of Hyundai, Peugeot, Seat and Mazda vehicles. The deal was part funded by Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking.
>> Go-ahead for new offices The first speculative office building in Sheffield since the recession is set to go ahead following a deal involving developers CTP and Development Securities, Sheffield City Council and central government. The agreement gives the green light to the
10 storey 3 St Paul’s Place development in Sheffield. It will comprise 80,000 sq ft of prime Grade A office space and completes the £180m Heart of the City project. Each 8,000 sq ft floor offers office suites from 2,000 sq ft upwards. The project, which will see construction begin in late spring, will eventually provide space for over 700 employees. CTP are developing the site in conjunction with London-based company Development Securities. They are being supported by Sheffield City Council, regeneration agency Creative Sheffield, and SCR JESSICA, which was set up to support infrastructure and real estate investment opportunities across the region. It is also backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
>> Units ready for action Investors from Aviva have completed a £400,000 refurbishment of two prominent business units in Leeds. The units at City Park, Gelderd Road, Leeds extend to 11,000sq ft and 44,000sq ft respectively and are being marketed on a new lease basis by GVA and Savills. Ben Rennocks, of CBRE, who managed the works, said: “We have undertaken a comprehensive refurbishment of the units. “The old fit outs have been removed, and the offices returned to an open plan layout. Rob Oliver, industrial director at GVA, said: “We are very pleased with the refurbishment. The units are now ready for immediate occupation.”
>> Business parks in demand A property consultant has seen a surge in demand for office space in Walkers Court and Cromwell office parks in Wetherby. Three new clients have acquired premises in the popular business parks, which are both located close to the town centre. The transactions, which were brokered by the Leeds office of Carter Jonas, saw further education provider Pitman Training, which operates nationally, acquire a 3,000 sq ft of office space at Fairfax House, Walkers Court. Agricultural wind turbine suppliers Earthmill will move into neighbouring Marston House, also located at Walkers Court, where it has agreed to occupy 2,500 sq ft. Finally, Bradford-based manufacturing and electrical engineering company Tatham Ltd has recently acquired 1,200 sq ft of office space in Akula House, at the Cromwell office park.
47% ALREADY LET PARK ROW, LEEDS LS1
Park Row House has secured Search Consultancy and icelolly.com in to new office space at the newly refurbished Park Row House in Leeds city centre.
SUITES AVAILABLE FROM 2,054 - 16,372 SQ FT For more information contact
Search Consultancy, a leading total recruitment solutions provider, has taken 6,000 sq ft and Icelolly.com, the low cost internet holiday comparison site, has taken 8,000 sq ft at the Grade II listed Park Row House building which has recently been sympathetically refurbished with a £2 million upgrade. The £2m has ensured that the building combines its traditional pedigree with a newly refurbished contemporary interior and modern functional office environment behind its traditional facade. Park Row House is located on Park Row and is within five minute’s walk of Leeds City Rail Station. Its central location marks the point at which the accepted office core and the retail area merge.
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in association with
headhunter who became an angel Being headstrong at a young age and having the foresight to know when to act in business fired Rachel Hannan to the top of one of the fastest rising executive search firms in the UK. Now, as a valued business adviser and ‘angel investor’ she endeavours to help many more entrepreneurs follow in her footsteps, as Andrew Mernin discovers Competition in the executive headhunting sector glowed white hot in the mid to late noughties, with an intensified push for leaders with an eye for growth being followed by recession and the onset of caution and inertia at the top of many organisations. And it was within this turbulent environment that Rachel Hannan was able to build one of the fastest growing search and selection consultancies in the country. GatenbySanderson, co-founded in late 2002 with fellow entrepreneur Graham Goodwin, grew to just under £23m turnover in the first seven years and blossomed into an empire with offices in Leeds, London and Birmingham with almost 90 staff. Rachel was always destined to be a high flyer of some description – at 13 she was intent on becoming the first female RAF fighter pilot. But that teenage ambition was sadly burnt to dust when her poor eyesight consigned her to a life on civvy street. Perhaps the passion she has today for fast cars is a manifestation of that unmet dream of a career at the controls of high powered machines. Staying on terra firma, she went on to complete an English Language and Literature degree, before working as a tax accountant for Coopers & Lybrand – which merged with Price
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Waterhouse in 1998 to form PwC. The role gave her tools she’d use in her later entrepreneurial life, but it wasn’t long before Rachel decided that a change was needed. She says: “I don’t know how I ended up in tax. I think it was just the draw of the big six firms as they were then. I don’t regret the time I spent there. It was a brilliant organisation to work for. But the subject matter was very technical. However, having finance as a skill has been really useful and stood me in good stead for the next 20 years, but I never thought that I was actually that good at it.” It was at this point that Rachel took her first foray into the recruitment market, working for small search firm GNW Executive Search in Harrogate. Although the move was initially another shot in the dark, it would prove to be the perfect environment for Rachel to develop her skills and business acumen. With Rachel harbouring ambitions to become a journalist, she started out at the firm as a writer before getting involved in the recruitment process, which she found far more interesting. Thrown into a world of blue chip clients she thrived and quickly found her feet in the most cutthroat of sectors. As her passion for the sharp end of recruitment grew, however, it wasn’t long before Rachel
was planning her next move. She says: “Because I was working for a small firm I got involved in much more than I would in a larger organisation. Your experience was much more intense and you learnt a lot more that way. The fact that the firm had a real blue chip client base made it all the more interesting. However, because it was an owner managed business there was eventually nowhere else for me to go in terms of a promotion and by then I’d learnt a lot about research, headhunting and business development. The bulk of client winning was done by the company’s two directors and I felt that I wasn’t able to be as commercially astute as I could be.” Knowing that she needed experience on the front line of recruitment, Rachel joined larger agency HW Group plc in Leeds. However, through her no-nonsense approach, she made it clear that being eased into the business slowly was not for her. “HW Group was predominantly a contingency recruiter so it was very fast paced and the kind of place where best practice is not always stringently adhered to,” she says. “When I joined I said ‘don’t give me a job if you expect me to man the phones all day’. Looking back I was a real pain. “But, it’s no good focusing on targets like >>
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ENTREPRENEUR the number of phone calls or client meetings you have, if when you get to those meetings you haven’t got the knowledge required to come across as credible and interested. That’s worse than not ringing the client at all. I learnt a lot at HW Group about how to do things, and how not to do things. I certainly realised that I had to go out there and get business rather than waiting for it to come to me.” Then, with the cogs of the PwC merger turning, Rachel saw an opportunity to re-join her old employer at a time of rapid expansion. The late 90s and early noughties saw a growing emphasis on efficiency within the public sector, with more government departments and local authorities outsourcing their recruitment. By utilising her ability to spot opportunities and market trends, Rachel’s second spell at the company would leave a more permanent impression. It was also during this time that Rachel really began cutting her teeth in business, with her second spell at the newly merged company including work in a number of professional service environments. These included executive leadership and development work and corporate finance, which enhanced her potential as an entrepreneur. She says: “Looking back, applying for a job at PwC was a pretty arrogant move as I didn’t really think about the fact that they might not want me. It was a really interesting time to return to the organisation as there were opportunities to explore new markets as well as gain experience in various parts of the business. “I realised early on that the big growth area for PwC in search and selection was the public sector, not the private sector. Moving in this direction had never been my intention, but, I’m quite good at spotting opportunities and, seeing as the private side of the search practice was fairly stationary and was up against a huge amount of competition, I began exploring the public sector a lot more. Traditionally the public sector hadn’t used consultancies in its recruitment but by the late 90s there was a greater emphasis on making sure that they had the right kind of support.” Moving over to deal origination in the company’s Leeds office came in particularly useful, opening her eyes to the intricacies of corporate finance’s inner workings.
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My business partner and I had good reputations. We were driven enough to make it succeed – failure was not an option “For me deal origination is the sexy bit of corporate finance,” Rachel says. “And corporate finance is the sexy bit of accountancy. I learnt a lot at that time about how deals are done, how corporate finance works, and how private equity firms scour the markets for deals. My time in corporate finance gave me a real insight into private equity and venture capital organisations.” After a brief spell in global HR consultancy at PwC, Rachel made her entrepreneurial bow – and what an entrance she made, jointly setting up the public sector headhunter GatenbySanderson, in Leeds. Alongside business partner Graham Goodwin, she invested £40,000 in the venture. Despite
the risks involved, Rachel was confident in her abilities as an entrepreneur having helped to set up her former partner’s Yorkshire door and window manufacturing business in her mid to late 20s, writing up the business plan that would help him secure a bank loan. However, for Rachel the new business still represented a step into the unknown, without the weight of a blue chip company behind her. She says: “My business partner and I had developed good reputations in the market place already and with the experience we had, we both knew each of us were driven enough to make sure it succeeded – failure was not an option! At the time it seemed like an easy decision. Looking back I think ‘wow’. It was quite a big risk to give up a stable, well paid role with a well-regarded organisation.” With zero debt on its books, the firm got off to the perfect start winning two senior appointments with Barnsley and Liverpool Councils in the first month. A successful start to the business saw the launch of a London office in only its second year. The firm opened an office in Birmingham in year three, by which time it had attracted the attention of the managing partner of rival executive search company Veredus who joined GatenbySanderson as a partner, helping the company to add weight to its claim as a small but very experienced practice. However, storm clouds were building over the recruitment landscape, with the financial crisis beginning to impact on the public sector by 2010. It was at this point Rachel decided to sell her share of the business after enjoying its best ever year. “I knew if I stayed in the business I’d have to stay another four or five years, maybe longer. I could see what was coming. There was a two year lag for the public sector when the financial crisis hit the UK, with the major public sector cuts not really kicking in until after the general election. “It got to a point where I really enjoyed the process of building the business but wasn’t enjoying the subject matter quite as much. I’d been doing senior appointments for a long time and I was more interested in how you build businesses than appointing senior people. Also, I was working around 70 hours a week and there were other things I wanted to do.
I felt that if I didn’t exit at that point then it would be another five to seven years before I had the opportunity again as I could see that the next few years were going to be really difficult.” It was another hard decision for Rachel, particularly as the firm had put a number of measures in place to help GatenbySanderson weather the downturn, including investing heavily in technology as competition for each vacancy intensified. Rachel says: “The company has been through a really difficult time but now it gives me great pleasure to see it back on track and going from strength to strength. Sanderson is my mother’s maiden name so I am delighted to see the business doing so well. That business will always feel like a part of me.” Exiting the business gave Rachel millionaire status – but she recoils at such labels and wealth is something she seems to wear uncomfortably. Her one extravagance is an Aston Martin but her insistence that money is not the motivator in business seems unusually genuine in this case – where many other successful entrepreneurs make such utterances somewhat hollowly. She has put the proceeds of the sale to good use, however, by becoming a prolific angel investor in Yorkshire. She’s invested in a number of ventures to date, while also providing sound advice to new entrepreneurs and those looking to grow their businesses. Her involvements include the Sheffield dotforge accelerator programme, which provides start-up businesses with intensive mentoring and coaching from experienced entrepreneurs. Each venture is given £25,000 of private venture capital, half of which is funded by national development agency Creative England, with the other half provided by private sector businesses and investors. Her other investments include those in technology, medical devices and software as a service, as well as a social enterprise Skill Will in which she was the founder investor. There was even an investment in a music festival, although she openly admits this was a mistake. “I allowed myself to be overly influenced by the passion of the management team and enthusiasm and credibility of my fellow investors,” she says with a smile. “It was
It amazes me how many people start a business with no thought of how they are going to realise the value of it
heart not head. It was a turnaround situation when we went in and it was just too late to make the difference needed. We lost the money, but I gained some very valuable lessons.” An aspect of post GatenbySanderson life that Rachel particularly values is the freedom financial security has given her to support local people and communities. She is a business mentor for the Prince’s Trust and on the board of the Leeds Community Foundation, which has raised and distributed £20m to local charities and community groups in recent years. Meanwhile, it is as an adviser
that Rachel can really play to her strengths; spotting potential opportunities for growth and speeding entrepreneurs to market. As Rachel has learned, setting up your own business is something not to be taken lightly and she is keen to stress this to anyone considering going it alone.“It amazes me how many people start a business with no thought of how they are going to realise the value of it”, she says. “When we set up GatenbySanderson, we knew what our strategy was, or what we hoped it would be, to enable us to exit in seven to 10 years. You can’t be too rigid because you never know what the market’s going to do or how things will work out. It’s really difficult for people who’ve started a business and want to retire or realise its value, as often this value is associated with them as an individual, making it impossible for them to leave. Helping people work out how to solve this puzzle is really interesting.” While helping others to achieve business success continues to dominate Rachel’s days, she hints that she herself may have a new enterprise in the offing. She gives little away, only that it’ll be “something a bit different” from recruitment. Given her knack of thinking big and her mastery of calculated risk taking, it’ll no doubt be a soaring success. See future issues of BQ for details. n
Why newcomers need mentors like Rachel Andrew Westhead, partner in Grant Thornton’s entrepreneurial tax team in Leeds, comments: “Rachel’s story of how she built a successful business in the highly competitive world of recruitment is inspiring. It’s great to see that she has gone on to help other dynamic young businesses by sharing her own entrepreneurial lessons and experiences with them. “Having the best support and advice can be vital for start-ups, particularly having the benefit of input from those with rounded management experience who are able to take a step back and look at the business as a whole. “Coming up with a great idea is just the start of the journey, transforming it into a viable business takes commercial know-how and real expertise. With a long track record of supporting entrepreneurs, we are used to partnering with young business right from the start – working closely with them to structure their company effectively and providing ongoing support as the business evolves and grows. “It’s good news for the Yorkshire economy that experienced mentors like Rachel are supporting start up businesses which will drive job creation and prosperity in the region going forward.”
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Sourcing talent to help grow business in Yorkshire International executive recruitment company Rilwood Associates boasts an enviable strong track record in supporting the growth and development of businesses across the globe Based in Leeds, the company has been instrumental in defining the senior architecture of many renowned brands and businesses. Now in its 11th year, Rilwood is embarking on a new chapter in which the strategic aims of the business are heavily focussed on growing its market share in the Yorkshire region while retaining its worldwide reputation. At the helm and steering Rilwood into this new and exciting era for the business is managing director Kenton Robbins, a former head of the Institute of Directors in Yorkshire and a previous incumbent at The Alternative Board, Leeds.
NEW VISION Working alongside founding partners Ben Riley and Wayne Underwood, the vision is to take Rilwood to the next level in the UK recruitment industry, building on its considerable success to date by investing in its own people to gain substantial footholds in new sectors. Robbins explains: “By taking the decision to move back into the world of recruitment, I want to take the opportunity to rejuvenate the Rilwood business and take the very talented team we already have forward and develop them as aspiring leaders and business men and women, not just recruitment consultants. “This led me to reflect and look at the recruitment market and how the sector has performed through the recession. Rilwood was reliant on the manufacturing and construction sectors which has seen the brunt of the downturn in the economy and consequently left the business needing balancing with the addition of complementary practice teams in sectors that help give us greater levels of regional relevance. “Working with the business it was clear to see that we had an excellent client base, but it was globally
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extensive, meaning true engagement was difficult. We agreed the team was talented but needed nurturing and the culture and values needed addressing to transform the business into a leading rather than reacting business.”
SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPS It is early days in the new strategic direction for Rilwood, but first steps have been taken in repositioning the business. Robbins says: “We’ve changed the values of the company and centred them around relationships, but not just assignments ones. We take time and use our experience and insight to investigate the real needs of clients and candidates, looking to really understand not always just what they want, but to advise them on what they really need. “Through working with our clients in this way we are growing our relationships, acting as trusted advisors rather than simply suppliers – an important principle that I’ve learned in business and one that’s reflected by our clients when they talk about the differences they find when working with us.” Furthermore, Rilwood is investing time and effort in the regional recruitment market, raising the profile of the business to drive local recruitment needs. “We need to position ourselves more fundamentally in Yorkshire having focused outside of the region predominantly,” says Robbins.
“Now is the time to drive the regional need to attract and retain talent in Yorkshire and the North as well as serving our clients’ needs globally.” Robbins and the Rilwood team have also explored the way the company engages with its target audiences, revising its website to give clarity to the sectors in which it works and developing new teams in practice areas – including professional services – where Rilwood has previously not been a player.
EMPLOYEE TALENT Sourcing talent to help businesses grow and prosper is in Rilwood’s DNA. Robbins says: “Whether you’re a business in growth or looking to enter new markets, it’s inevitable that the talent of your employees will be the driving force behind its future. “You can encourage your team to always look forward and define their own careers or have a strong level of succession planning in the talent pool, but often the best laid plans fall by the wayside or your business grows ahead of the available skills and abilities of the workforce. This is where Rilwood steps in, sourcing the best and right talent for our clients.” With a new strategy, methodology and values in place, the future looks bright for Rilwood. “Distilling down to its simplest form, what it is we do and how we do it has been an enlightening process for the business and helped us all
By taking the decision to move back into the world of recruitment, I want to take the opportunity to rejuvenate the Rilwood business and take the very talented team we already have forward and develop them as aspiring leaders and business men and women, not just recruitment consultants
COMPANY PROFILE For business growth and human capital success Values: • Highest standard of ethics • Excellent client experience • Strive to anticipate our client’s needs • Motivated to make a difference • Integrity & honesty • Pay it forward • Creativity & imagination in everything we do • Dedicated to our people Visions: • To find talent • Represent talent • Build relationships In business for over 11 years, Rilwood Associates has built up an enviable reputation as an outstanding firm of individuals committed to business and recruitment excellence, clarity of thought, value-driven and focused on delivering positive, sustainable results for clients and people.
Kenton Robbins, Managing Director, Rilwood
understand our brand and its values better than ever before,” says Robbins. “My role is to guide and encourage the business through this growth and change process.” Operating from state-of-the-art office accommodation at Springwood House, Horsforth, the Rilwood team has a strong growth plan and further investment is in the pipeline. “We’ve already invested in our systems to ensure our productivity and CRM management is cutting edge in the industry, the development of our own in-house training department ensures that we can offer the very best futures for employees at any experience level and moving forward this will be supported with externally recognised ILM accreditation to help our teams growth.”
Drive the growth and development of our clients and candidates through the talent of our consultants
Robbins concludes: “Rilwood is going from strength to strength based on our new strategy but with our eyes firmly focussed on the recruitment fundamentals of finding talent, representing talent and building relationships.”
Board Services: We are experts in talent management, human capital and leadership strategy development. Our board services include; • Talent Management, Human Capital or Leadership Strategy • Board Advisory (board assessment, organizational advice, governance, diversity) • Management Assessment (management audit, team effectiveness, performance management) • Leadership and Executive Development.
For more information visit www.rilwood.com
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When it comes to farmers diversifying into new markets, few can have enjoyed as much success in these parts as Stephen Kilby, director of Wharfe Valley Farms, Wharfe Valley Stoves and GLO Eco Briquettes. Here the young agricultural entrepreneur tells BQ how he did it
sowing the seeds of future success
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ENTREPRENEUR XXXXXXXX SPRING 14
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ENTREPRENEUR Diversification has been a buzz word in the farming community for some years now with successive years of bad weather forcing many rural businesses into desperate action. While some farmers struggle with the concept, largely because of a lack of time and resources, rising input costs and falling commodity prices have made it almost impossible for many owners to ignore the need to explore additional income streams. Lilac Farm in Collingham, near Wetherby, is one such outpost that has successfully broken into new markets. Its growing array of complementary businesses have allowed the Kilby family to continue the job of running an arable farm while venturing into new and exciting business territories. Responsible for much of this diversification is Stephen Kilby, third generation farmer alongside his father Geoff and his mother Sallyann. At the age of 32, Stephen has already spun out four successful ventures at the farm resulting in him winning the Institute of Directors (IoD) Yorkshire and North Humberside Director of the Year and National Young Director of the Year awards last year. Stephen’s ability to make the most of the farm’s existing stock, most notably rapeseed, has seen the family business move into areas including culinary rapeseed oil, alternative fuel production and even bathroom suites. However, things could have been very different for Stephen, who at a young age was encouraged to make his own way in life, rather than just fall into the family business. He says: “My situation was different from my dad’s, who had to join the family business earlier than he had perhaps wanted to as his dad died very young. I think that’s why he’s always been open-minded with me and has encouraged me to do my own thing.” Before trying his hand at other trades, Stephen worked at neighbouring farms while studying at agricultural college, an experience that could have turned him off the idea of farming. He says: “At the age of 16 I went to work on a neighbour’s farm to see if I liked it or not. Also, I don’t think my parent’s trusted me enough to let me loose on their farm yet. “I’ve had some terrible jobs in the past. The worst was working on a pig farm, which was basically power-washing pig sheds out for most
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of the day. Thankfully the farming I do now means I don’t wash pigs, I just eat them.” After this first experience of farm life it wasn’t surprising that, in 2001, Stephen decided to take some time out travelling in order to see what options life had to offer. However, this didn’t mean shying away from hard work. He says: “I travelled Australia for six months in order to broaden my horizons. As much as I like pigs, I felt I needed to see other sides to life. I worked on arable farms and building sites mostly. The worst job I had over there was digging swimming pools in Perth by hand in a constant 30 degree heat. They like their swimming pools big over there so they were very long days. Working on some of the farms was a huge eye opener for me as I found myself working on tens of thousands of acres of land, sometimes herding cattle or even flying helicopters.”
Stephen’s Australian adventure came to an end when he was summoned back home to attend his sister’s 21st birthday party. It was then that he felt ready to join the family business having picked up enough knowledge and skills along the way. However, his family wasn’t ready to just let him walk into the business without being able to make a full contribution. “When I went back to the family business there wasn’t a massive demand for me,” Stephen says. “Also, I didn’t want to put anyone I grew up with out of a job just because I was family. My parents weren’t just going to hand over the reins without me proving I could add to the business. Farming wasn’t doing great, so I felt a responsibility to bring new ideas to the table.” Stephen enrolled at Harrogate College, where he studied to be an electrician part-time while still working at the family farm in peak season. With his qualification in hand, he now had the option of splitting his time between the family business and working as an electrician and found himself travelling the country to work on sites for retail chain Superdrug. However, the challenge of unlocking new markets for the farm kept drawing Stephen back and it was a fellow farmer that gave him the inspiration he needed. “I’m always looking for something else to get involved with,” Stephen says. “This is probably down to my parents, as although they have always used traditional farming methods, they have always diversified in one way or another, whether it be a livery business using horses or strawberry and raspberry picking. “I had read an article about a farmer down south that was producing something called cold pressed rapeseed oil. Rapeseed was something we’d grown for years but had always sold it to the mass producers for things like bio-fuel or refined cooking. This guy was cold pressing it just like olive oil and producing a culinary product that was rich in nutrients.” With the help of a collective of interested parties, including farmers in Scotland and Suffolk, Stephen was able to secure a £10,000 grant from Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward to push ahead with rapeseed oil production in Collingham. Stephen says: “Yorkshire Forward received a lot of applications from farm shops or people
wanting to set up caravan parks. I don’t think they even knew what cold pressed rapeseed oil was. They gave us a lot of support, which gave us the confidence to push ahead. “As a collective of farmers, we wanted to create something similar in prominence to British beef or lamb and between us produced a generic advert to promote rapeseed oil which worked very well. We don’t do so much partnership work now as we’ve managed to raise the profile of rapeseed oil, but at the time we definitely needed the push.” The product is now stocked in supermarkets as Yorkshire’s Original Rapeseed Oil, as well as being a staple in many farm shops and independent retailers under the Wharfe Valley Farms brand, giving smaller outlets the chance to get their hands on new flavours and recipes before those on the high street. A plug by James Martin on Saturday Morning Kitchen boosted sales, with investment in the farm’s bottling plant following soon after. However, with demand on the increase the farm was now left with a problem – what to do with the leftover rapeseed husks. While the family succeeded in marketing this bi-product as animal feed, this was only a short-term solution for during the winter months, when livestock is kept indoors. “We tried everything,” says Stephen. “We tried to use it in the same way as hemp and make a fisherman’s bait out of it, which worked but wasn’t really going to make us any serious money. We even tried to make it edible to humans after a friend mentioned that we could try to make burgers out of it and market it as a Quorn or tofu-like product. Suffice to say it tasted less than great so we abandoned that one pretty early.” It would be a decision by Stephen’s mum and dad to have a new stove fitted at the farm that would fan the flames of inspiration. “We tried the idea of a briquette as a solid fuel and did a little bit of research,” Stephen said. “The rapeseed takes one year to grow, meaning that it only releases one year’s worth of CO2 emissions compared to wood which can give off over a hundred years’ worth. We also discovered that it created temperatures greater than those of wood.” And so GLO Eco Briquettes was born, with Stephen once again securing a grant from
I built up a great relationship with builders, interior designers and architects. They would send customers around when they were having an extension. People come to us as they are more likely to get planning permission if they have one of our stoves Yorkshire Forward, this time for £20,000. Since launching in 2010, the brand has sold well in farm and camping shops and has attracted the attention of supermarkets
including Tesco. However, as a bi-product of the rapeseed husks, supply became an issue. “The problem is that we have to press the oil and then make the briquette so it’s all linked to how much oil we sell,” Stephen said. “What we don’t want to do is have to phone a large supplier and say sorry we can’t supply the required amount. However, the beauty is if we can’t sell large amounts as fuel we can still sell it as animal feed.” Taking the product to its natural conclusion, Stephen converted an onsite barn at the farm into a stove showroom, with the fuel pitched as a major selling point for house builders and property developers looking to comply with eco-legislation. As a result of increased interest from developers, Stephen expanded further still, with a bathroom showroom now occupying the top floor of the site in Collingham. The My Bathrooms brand now has a second showroom in Harrogate, while a second Wharfe Valley Stoves outlet has opened at a site near Leeds. He says: “I built up a great relationship with a lot of builders and interior designers and architects and they would send a lot of customers around when they were having a new extension. When you build a new property you have to have something called a Code 4 standard, which means the property has to have a degree of environmentally friendly elements. A lot of people come to us as they are more likely to get planning permission if they have one of our stoves in there and equally we try to sell them a bathroom at the same time.” From toying with tofu to selling stoves, Stephen has certainly made the effort when it comes to rural diversification and with excellent results. The business now employs 25 staff compared with 10 in 2010, with its bottling plant now taking on third party contracts from overseas producers looking to sell into the UK and Europe, including current imports of Avocado oil from Africa. He says: “We still try to keep our traditional heritage at the forefront of our business model but it definitely has changed. Ten years ago my day involved ploughing fields, but now it makes a nice change when I’m able to get back on the tractor and do some ‘proper’ work.” n
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BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
The influence of Kenton Robbins extends far beyond his lofty role at the top of global recruitment company Rilwood Associates, with the businessman having served as regional director of the Institute of Directors and been instrumental in bringing the first stage of the Tour de France, the Grand Départ, to Yorkshire. Andrew Mernin talks business, economy and future opportunities with him over a lengthy breakfast Kenton Robbins, looking surprisingly fresh faced for 7.30 in the morning, is in good spirits when he plonks himself down for his BQ interview. We meet in the grand, glassroofed courtyard of Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa and three courses washed down with fresh coffee awaits us. The prominent Yorkshire businessman is still bathed in the limelight of his national TV debut. “A girl in McDonalds looked at me, pointed and said ‘mind the gap’,” he says, laughing off the overnight stardom that came with his appearance on the BBC series Mind the Gap: London Vs The Rest. The show, which explored the economic forces polarising Britain, featured Robbins fighting the corner for the north as he extolled the virtues of Yorkshire and the opportunities for growth it faces. And this is a drum he’s been banging for many years prior, through several guises in his career.
The varied nature of his CV – which veers from the dairy food to the education sector, taking in many more sights in between – has helped to shape him as a go-to person for seekers of leadership advice and insight in an array of industries. He was also instrumental in bringing the Grand Départ to Yorkshire, with his ability to lobby the right people vital in steering organisers away from Edinburgh and Florence as potential locations towards the rolling hills of his home county. However, it took a huge change of direction for Kenton to become the pillar of the Yorkshire business community he is today. Robbins spent much of his early career working in London’s corporate consumer sector for firms including Buxted Foods and Dairy Crest before a family crisis forced him to make an important decision. He says: “I was building a corporate consumer
career based in London and my daughter fell seriously ill. I was basically away Monday to Friday. My wife just turned around and said, either you do something or I’ll leave you. It didn’t take long to make the decision to resign.” Robbins has since built a name for himself in the Yorkshire business community. After moving into the recruitment sector as director of Penman Executive, he began taking on a number of extracurricular roles within both the business and charity sectors. These helped to cement his standing and influence within the Yorkshire region. His posts included chairman of education support organisation the Barmby Community Partnership and chairman of the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People. His role as business coach and facilitator for advisory board The Alternative Board Leeds also helped him to get him noticed >>
from local hero to tour de force
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Persuasive powers: Kenton Robbins owes much of his success to networking and ‘good old fashioned lobbying’ by Yorkshire’s corporate elite, so much so that he was asked by the Institute of Directors (IoD) to become a regional director for Yorkshire and Humber in 2011. Having already worked with the IoD as the chairman of its Young Directors Forum, it was an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands, knowing that his enthusiasm and drive could help to improve the organisation’s image in the region. He says: “The IoD had lost its way slightly in the region in the sense that it was still being seen as a traditional members club for business people and was a bit stale and old school. So a lot of the work I did was trying to engage businesses in the community and help change their ideas of what the organisation stood for. We supported a lot of our members through some pretty difficult times, providing advice and offering our opinion on issues such
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as red tape, all of which saw us become part of the general conversation again.” One achievement that sticks in his mind during that time is getting the Government to back down over the taxation of caravans. While this may seem like a small win, it was celebrated as a huge victory in one corner of Yorkshire. He says: “The Government imposed a VAT increase on the manufacture and sale of caravans. If you consider that nearly 85% of all caravans are manufactured in Hull, it was like slapping a 20% tax on that part of the world.” Forced into swift action, Robbins, with the help of chairman for East Yorkshire Richard Tuffman, was able to convince the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to retract the increase. “It was all due to good old fashioned lobbying that we were able to get a satisfactory
outcome,” he says. “We just explained in a very clear and succinct way what the increase meant to the region. To be completely honest, I don’t think the government had any idea about the economic effect it would have had.” Last year Robbins climbed down from his role at the IoD as his portfolio of business interests began to catch up with him. He says: “I had such a complex life going on with a portfolio career, with the work just increasing all the time. I couldn’t see it subsiding. My position at the IoD had gone from taking up a few hours a week to being pretty demanding post, and, with all my other business interests, my health was beginning to suffer. I was getting pretty frazzled. “Every Christmas and New Year I would take time to reflect. It was during one Christmas that I actually made the decision to get rid of all of the stress and step down from a number
The Grand Départ was won by people coming together and supporting a ridiculous dream of roles, including my position at the IoD.” While his time at the IoD no doubt goes down as a career highlight, his involvement in bringing The Grand Depart to Yorkshire may well rank as his crowning achievement. Yorkshire is gearing up for what promises to be one of the most historic events in its history when The Grand Départ comes to the region
on the 5th and 6th of July this year. The race marks the start of the world’s most famous cycle route, The Tour De France and excitement is building among fans of the sport as well as those that want to catch a site of this once in a lifetime event in their back yard. While an estimated £6.5m has being spent by Yorkshire councils on the event, with
additional day-to-day costs of around £2.5m expected, the resulting boost to the region's economy could exceed £100m. Robbins says: “The Grand Départ was won by people coming together and supporting a ridiculous dream that Gary Verity, head of Welcome to Yorkshire, had. It was Welcome to Yorkshire saying ‘you know what, we >>
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Award-winning hotel is a glass act Don’t be fooled by the business park exterior of this modern 4 star hotel – once you step inside the sliding glass doors, you’re transported to a world a million miles away from the M62 and Yorkshire’s inclement winter weather. The feature real log fire is a welcome sight and sets for the tone for your visit to the stylish 117 bedroom hotel just on the outskirts of Leeds. With a spacious car park right outside the door, it’s an easy location to find and park up and no surprise that it’s a popular venue with local businesses wanting a place to meet and eat and take advantage of the free Wi Fi. There are options too, either choose to meet up informally in the bar, or in one of the 21 state-of-the-art meeting rooms where you can also graze the fabulous Conference Café for unlimited refreshments and snacks. The heart of the hotel is a stunning two-storey internal courtyard with a glass roof to make the most of the winter sunshine. It’s open from early till late each day serving everything from breakfast and morning coffee to cocktails and supper – plus all the bits in between too. Chef Paul Woodward and the team have an AA rosette so you can be sure the food will be well worth the visit.
have to go big or go home’. I thought it was achievable; I was one of the few people who did, which is why I got involved in it to a degree. “My role was lobbying all of the organisers involved, making the right phone calls to the people who needed to be nudged in the right direction. There were also a lot of difficulties around the fact that we had no support from the Government, Sport England or Visit England, who were all pushing for the event to take place in Edinburgh.”
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An exhaustive amount of conversations, including a number with Nick Clegg, saw Welcome to Yorkshire convince the Government to get on board at the point when their bid was looking more and more likely to be chosen. Robbins says: “It was people like Gary Verity that kept us going. He was doing things that were way over and above the call of duty, such as organising helicopter rides for the organisers over the proposed route and learning French, all so that he could give this region the upper
hand. He deserves a knighthood in my opinion. “In the end the race organisers bought into the authenticity of Yorkshire. Couple that with an absolutely devastatingly beautiful countryside and you are on to a winner.” The short term gains of the cycling milestone to the Yorkshire economy are already abundantly clear. But among the longer term benefits, says Robbins, is the proof that Leeds has the capability to host high security events – namely party political conferences. “There’s a real opportunity there and talks are already taking place,” he says. Meanwhile, as well as helping to attract and retain talent in Yorkshire through Rilwood Associates, Robbins is also helping to secure funding for start-ups and established SMEs as part of his role as non-executive director at crowd funding network rebuildingsociety.com. The Leeds-based company is a peer-to-business lending platform that connects creditworthy UK businesses looking for a loan with individuals prepared to lend their own money for returns that outstrip retail savings products. The business epitomises the notion of a ‘big society’ and is an example of efforts to encourage better connectivity between businesses and cities in Yorkshire – a theme echoed in Robbins’ recent TV appearance. He says: “The north of England, especially Yorkshire, is one of the hot houses of England. We have excellence in lots of different sectors, with the largest professional service sector outside of London. It is up to us to really shout and boast about Yorkshire, but it is also the fact that businesses haven’t been working together in a cohesive way. “As a region we go from Hull, to York to Leeds, Halifax and Huddersfield, and reach out economically and geographically to cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. With the right form of connectivity this area could become the secondary metropolis to London.” While raising eyebrows at the prospect of Yorkshire and Lancashire working closely together, he does believe much needs to be done to establish the north as the UK’s second growth engine, with Yorkshire at its heart. Given his track record, Robbins will no doubt be on the front line of any future efforts made to achieve this. n
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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BUTTON ON WINE
truly scrum-ptious Business owner Matt Button, of branding and digital specialists DS Emotion, finds fine wines go down well with a helping of rugby They say you taste with your eyes first and for many I’m sure this is true. As a person who runs a business that majors on developing brands, campaign ideas and beautiful looking creative this is a principle that’s hard to disagree with. We all know, however, that it’s the substance behind the ‘look’ that really counts if you are to capture your customer. When it comes to the food and beverage market a combination of a great looking label design and contents that deliver is surely the most powerful. This is why the first wine I sample, the South African ‘red’ 2011 Reyneke Cornerstone is already off to a fine start. A contemporary and stylish design job, overseen by winemakers Rudiger Gretschel and Albert le Roux, certainly give this wine the instant appeal it needs to stand out on the shelf. Having decanted this wine, I left it waiting at home for me whilst I joined friends to watch England destroy Italy in our final and brutal game of the Six Nations. Whilst decanting I had the chance to view its rich, plummy red tone which held the promise of a weighty, well-rounded mouthful to follow. Once home it’s time to taste and the first thing I notice is that it has the nose of a fine Claret with soft hints of tannin. I’m immediately transported to a distinguished gentleman’s club with rich leather upholstery and a wood fire smoldering in the hearth. I read later that this wine has spent 18 months in French oak barrels, which has certainly left its classic mark. The first taste delivers a powerful and full-bodied mouthful of blackcurrants and a long, fine, dry finish, revealing it as a sophisticated new world wine. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc delivers satisfaction in bucket-loads without breaking the bank. Later that day, with the well-chilled white Roussanne Les Vignes d’a Cote 2012 in my glass and ready to go, we
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moved onto the final game of the Six Nations. I was hopeful that the French could live up to my expectations of a stylish delivery. In order to better appreciate its pale, golden colour I gave it a swirl and caught the aroma of melon, peach and pear. An exotic combination which promised to be easy on the palette. Thankfully the French wine at least did deliver on its promise with a smooth and elegant taste. A delicate acidity balances the honeyed, tropical tones of its aroma. A delightful, easy to drink white that is medium in its finish. It is ideally suited as an aperitif on a hot summer’s day or to contrast the saltiness of a board of Parma ham perhaps. Either way it will
help us all to dream of warmer times. Both vineyards are clearly responsible with their biodynamic and organic processes so it’s great to taste two wines that aren’t costing the earth. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed these contrasting wines. It’s just a shame the ‘French’ couldn’t deliver as well as the wine in the rugby to help us reach our goal as Six Nations Champions. n The wines provided were Cuilleron Roussanne £13.99 and Cornerstone Red £12.99. Both available at Harrogate Fine Wine Company – 01423 522 270. Email andy@ harrogatefinewinecompany.com The store is offering BQ readers a 10% discount off any six-bottle purchase of these two wines.
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 • email@example.com • 0113 204 2150
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
groom-t0-be says ‘i do’ to infiniti Matt Osbourne, corporate director at Armstrong Watson Accountants and Financial Advisers, hunts for wedding venues in Nissan’s new baby
Our ongoing search for the perfect Yorkshire wedding venue gave my fiancée and I the ideal opportunity to put the Infiniti Q50 – Nissan’s latest attempt to crack the German duopoly in the UK executive saloon market – through its paces. The Infiniti brand has been around for a while, although it has only had an official presence in Europe since 2008. For that reason an Infiniti sighting is still a relatively rare thing in the UK. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the test model, with its sporty chassis, distinctive
front grille and moonlight white exterior, pulled into view. The dramatic lines of the Infiniti may not be to everyone’s taste, but this is unquestionably a striking car. I was similarly impressed when we settled into the car with the interior having a quality and hi-tech feel. With its responsive and intuitive touch screen console and full leather adjustable electric seats, the ambience is one of premium executive comfort. Our destination was the dramatic, gothic revival splendour of Allerton Castle and
we opted for the scenic route along North Yorkshire’s winding, undulating B roads to get a true measure of the Q50’s performance. The 2.1 litre turbodiesel engine takes you to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and is undoubtedly a quick car. That said, this is a big machine and would probably benefit from a larger engine. The good news is that for those who demand true sports saloon performance, the Q50 also comes in a 3.5 litre petrol hybrid version. The 7-speed automatic gearbox is generally >>
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The suspension does have a reassuringly sporty feel and yet is still much more forgiving than the occasionally harsh ride found in the popular M-sport variant of the BMW BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
smooth throughout the range, and the engine quiet and refined. What’s more, steering is light and precise, making city driving a doddle. Those of a sportier predisposition may find the light steering makes the drive a little uninvolving. However, the suspension does have a reassuringly sporty feel and yet is still much more forgiving than the occasionally harsh ride found in the popular M-sport variant of the BMW. This is a real plus when negotiating the under-maintained, pot-hole ridden tarmac of North Yorkshire. In addition to the suspension, a poised well-balanced chassis, responsive brakes and good grip make for an excellent ride. Fuel consumption is equally impressive – Infiniti claim an ambitious 58.9 mpg combined. That may surprise some but these numbers seemed entirely plausible when, despite my best efforts – and hours of gamely thrashing the Q50 through the Yorkshire countryside – I was embarrassed to return the car with the fuel gauge virtually unmoved. The highly specified test version of the Q50 features most of the kit – satellite navigation, cruise control, voice control, Bluetooth and USB preparation and a bone-rattling Bose sound system – that you’d expect in exchange for a touch over £40,000. The similarly equipped BMW 320d M Sport saloon remains the undoubted market leader in this price range. However, it’s estimated there are currently about five million BMWs in North Leeds alone – although this may be a slight exaggeration – and a fraction less Audis. By comparison, there is nothing else quite like a Q50 out there. So for those that strive to break free from the mundane and are in the market for a distinctive and highly refined alternative, you could do much worse than giving the Infiniti a try. n The car Matt drove was an Infiniti Q50 Premium with an on the road price of £31,900. Additional options are also available for this vehicle. The car was kindly supplied by Infiniti.
ies T BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
g lon e b ar nce e i w ck es Pr e â€™s n clud nedy a l l ne at in . Ken i r a th F . M oup ohn E of e gr d J s r n it are n el les a e W to a har C
FASHION Maurizio Marinella may have good cause to bemoan the decline in tie wearing and the devastation wrought to those colourful if functionless strips of silk that has come about through the casualisation of the male wardrobe. He is no fan of dress-down Fridays either. “It’s true that there are more occasions for men not to wear a tie but there are still those occasions when a man should wear a tie to show respect,” he argues. “That might be for an important meeting or going to the theatre. Ultimately the tie isn’t just about dressing up - it’s a statement of respect.” Marinella has spent a lot of time thinking about ties. After all, he is the owner of E. Marinella, the company established by his grandfather Eugenio in Naples - it celebrates its centenary next year - and is widely regarded as maker of the world’s best neckwear. Wearers become members of a kind of unspoken fraternity of
It seems that since the 1970s, our ties have been favoured by politicians in particular. I think they sit around talking to each about ties at G8 summits
power-players with a shared taste in a fine tie. The Agnelli family - Italian industrialist owners of the Fiat Group - wore Marinelli. The Duke of Windsor and John F. Kennedy wore its ties. More recently, so have Chirac, Gorbachev, Clinton, Sarkozy and Prince Charles, men of such renown that they don’t need first names. “Of course, just the fact that they wear our ties is good credibility for the company - you may not like your prime minister, but if he chooses your ties that is some testament,” says Marinella. “We’ve been making ties for a long time but it seems that ever since the 1970s they have been favoured by politicians in particular - I think they sit around talking to each other about their ties at the G8 summits.” Indeed, a lucky break saw the organisers of the G7 in Naples in 1994 present each head of state with a box of six madeto-measure Marinella ties, kickstarting the association. Certainly, what is perhaps more remarkable is that the company’s profile has grown through almost no effort on its own part. The Naples shop - where the company started out, only in recent years opening in Milan, Tokyo (where it was alone in offering shorter ties for smaller necks), Lugano and London - is just 20 sqm, but draws enough of the great and good to sell some $8m >>
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FASHION of a merchandise a year. It has never offered any kind of mail or internet ordering service. You want a tie? You go to one of its shops. Indeed, its high quality and tradition has, as Marinella points out, been a touchstone of pride for the city of Naples through some tough times. “It’s a small company and has stayed small because my grandfather always wanted to devote his attention to just a few clients,” says Marinella. “We’ve always preferred face to face
sales, which is more intimate and personal. He always opened the shop at 6.30am every day in person and I’ve followed that tradition. The customer becomes part of the family.” But what exactly does such a customer get for his £150 or more? And that’s for one tie, by the way. Marinella stresses that the family firm’s ties are all hand-made in Naples using English fabrics, folded seven times towards the inner to provide a luxurious density and lined by artisanal makers that require special
It’s a small company, and has stayed small. We have always preferred face to face sales, which is more intimate and personal. The customer becomes part of the family
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FASHION Only four ties are ever made of any one design. People often don’t understand the workmanship that goes into making what can seem a very simple item
training. Only four ties are ever made of any one design, so each is effectively unique to the customer. “People often don’t understand the level of workmanship that goes into making what can seem to be a very simple item,” Marinella suggests. “But the way it’s made is what gives the elegance in the end. You can tell a good tie from a less good one by looking at the knot. That’s where the balance of the tie is. It supports the whole tie. It’s its heart. A good knot is a product of good silk, good linings and structure in making.” For the man who does wear a tie, Marinella recommends a wardrobe of at least five key ties: one self-coloured dark blue, one with blue background and small white motif, one in regimental stripes (with dark blue as the main colour), one in lighter pastel hues, and one bright showy tie. Eugenio’s rule of thumb: light ties should be worn in the morning, dark ties in the evening. The company is not all ties, however. It has since turned the same attention to detail in making other accessories, including shirts, shoes, small leathergoods, bags and fragrances. But the heart of the company remains in ties. As Marinella puts it, “the ties eat all the other items”. It is also why, for all that he worries about the lack of respect, he is not so worried that some men are putting their ties away. “We also make more and more great scarves too now, for men and women,” he says. “They bring the same kind of colour and decoration to formal dressing. Perhaps scarves may become the new ties one day.” n
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BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
EQUIPMENT what a gem of an idea
Diamonds may be forever, but they’re not so rare now that that scientists have discovered how to ‘grow’ them in a laboratory >>
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This isn’t fiction. A retired American army officer visits Moscow to buy a security device, but while he’s there a scientist, Dr. Boris Feigelson, takes him aside to show him blueprints for something else, something developed for the Soviet space programme: a tumble-dryer-sized device that makes diamonds. General Carter Clarke cannot believe his eyes, and buys three, ships them to America and founds Gemesis Cultured Diamonds. The process was deceptively simple: take a seed, a slither of carbon material and put it into a chamber; add varying amounts of gases, including a carbon source, into the chamber; heat to a very high temperature to produce a plasma, in which the gases break down and carbon molecules attach themselves to the seed, causing it to grow; let your CVD, or Chemical Vapour
Deposition, simmer for a few days to a few weeks; remove gases; remove the now larger seed from the chamber and crack it open. There lies a diamond, chemically identical to diamonds out of the ground, as court cases have had to underline. That initial process had a problem though: as a consequence of the nitrogen content of the gases used, it could only produce Coloured diamonds - canary yellows, sometimes lavenders and pinks. If that could be called a problem - after all, in nature coloured diamonds are rarer than the white variety. But now that has been overcome. Last year Gemesis made a leap forward, by producing the largest, whitest, lab-created emerald-cut diamond to date. Washington Diamonds, another leading ‘diamond grower’, has recently produced a white,
Every lab-made diamond has one characteristic lauded in mined diamonds - each is flawless. Unsurprisingly, the powerful companies that make their money from mined diamonds have been less than supportive of the idea
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EQUIPMENT carat-sized stone too and claims to be months away from two carat stones. “And that makes it a milestone,” says Clive Hill, Washington Diamonds’ CEO. “A lot of people in the diamond industry have been keen to view such lab-grown diamonds as marginal. But this stone cannot be ignored.” More than that, every lab-made diamond has one characteristic lauded in mined diamonds: each is flawless. Furthermore, each is around 25% the cost of mined equivalents. Lab-made diamonds have none of the environmental impact of mined diamonds, nor are associated with devastating African wars, and, unsurprisingly, the powerful companies that make their money from mined diamonds have been less than supportive of the idea. Indeed, might that be it for the aura with which we have imbued a substance which, bar a small twist of chemistry - carbon atoms connecting in super-strong, ultra-hard 3d bonds rather than in layers - is little different from the soft graphite in your pencil? Neil Duttson, of ethical diamond dealers Duttson Rocks, says: “Despite some fear in the industry that lab-made diamonds will somehow take over, they are just different - a different product for a different customer,” says Duttson. Over time, there is likely to be increased acceptance of the labmade variety: there was similar resistance to cultured pearls when they were first created, and now they, not deep-dive pearls, account for the vast majority of all pearls sold. Coloured gemstones have long been lab-made by similar processes as those now being turned on diamonds; in fact, so extremely rare are large emeralds, for example, that they would be too expensive to sell - most sold have come out of the lab. In the short term, the diamond market is expected to divide:
between shoppers for whom increasingly influential greenthinking or price is a leading consideration, and those for whom the emotional content of a mined diamond - the fact that it has been created by awe-inspiring natural forces over countless eons - remains important. “The whole market is touchy about lab-made diamonds,” says Tom Chatham, of diamond makers Chatham. “Stores don’t buy lab-made ones because they don’t have to - yet. There is good supply of diamonds - for the moment. But [unless some yetto-be-devised technology makes the finding of and access to undiscovered diamond pipes feasible] we could be out of mined diamonds within 40 years. But the debate over lab-made diamonds may be missing the point. What may prove of greater significance could be the application of diamonds in technology. According to Chatham, some billions of carats of softer, lower grade diamonds are already made each year for industrial purposes, their special properties making them ideal for cutting in particular. But, upgraded to the quality now feasible, white diamonds could also be used more readily in semi-conductors, optical devices, water purification systems, high-powered lasers and other electronics of tomorrow. Never mind the radical change to the world wrought by the silicon chip. The diamond chip could be key to making quantum computing a reality, with machines operating at speeds exponentially faster than currently. Clive Hill says: “The potential for lab-made diamonds in applications are extremely exciting. I’d say that within a decade diamond products will be part of many of the technologies we use everyday. In fact, the very idea of what lab-grown diamonds’ use in technology could do gives me goose bumps. They could really change the world.” n
The whole market is touchy about lab-made diamonds. Stores don’t buy them because they don’t have to - yet. There is a good supply, for the moment, but we could be out of mined diamonds within 40 years
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Could Alex be sitting on a fortune? Having perched himself at the helm of his own thriving office furniture business, Alex Adamson is now ready for global domination. At the same time he’s leading the fight against bad backs and poor posture among Yorkshire executives, as Andrew Mernin reports Amid ongoing signs of an economic recovery, many businesses which previously held off from investing in their workplace are now spending once more. And, fortunately for Alex Adamson, the main beneficiaries are those firms specialising in office and commercial space design and fit out. His business, AA Office Group, has established itself as a major force in Yorkshire since he launched it as a sole trade 10 years ago. The Harrogate based business has secured a wildly varied range of clients due to its ability to provide bespoke and creative solutions. These include a £100,000 refurbishment contract at Bowcliffe Hall (see page 34) in the company’s earliest incarnation through to more recent work for Ski Club of Great Britain and air traffic control at Gatwick airport.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Although the company may be competing against the likes of Ikea, it sees its mark of quality as a true alternative, with more and more growing SMEs beginning to see their office environment as a priority when it comes to cost effective capital expenditure. And fast emerging as a much better way of impressing clients are decent and comfortable seats in receptions and for staff, than shiny sports cars with personalised number plates parked at the entrance. Adamson says: “People are starting to see an office as an extension of their home and somewhere that they now want to spend a little bit more time. In the past people wanted cheap chairs, whereas now they are plumping for things like Italian designer leather chairs or ergonomic, high concept design seating. “Having the right chair can improve productively massively and avoid staff developing bad backs. A lot of bosses are happy to spend £25,000 on a new Merc then get a cheap chair from the high street knowing they will be sitting in it up to nine hours a day.” Alex has come a long way since launching the business, with the 36-year-old recently included in the top 42 UK entrepreneurs under the age of 42 in a trade publication and just missing out on coming face to face with Alan Sugar on The Apprentice following a gruelling selection process for the show. He says: “Trying to get on The Apprentice was very difficult. Out of 20,000, I got down to the
A lot of bosses are happy to spend £25,000 on a new Merc then get a cheap chair from the high street knowing they will be sitting on it up to nine hours a day last 20. I didn’t know how close I’d got until the show came out and out of the 20 all of them were on the show apart from about five, including me. I was a bit gutted, especially as it was the year that the fruit and vegetable seller from Manchester won it.” Prior to his entrepreneurial success, Adamson’s CV has taken in work in Australia’s telecoms sector, the UK motor trade and the recruitment industry. After building up confidence through some large scale maintenance projects as part of a removals role at Barclay’s call centre, he decided to set up his own removals business and seized the opportunity to grow online at a time when many tradesmen were still relying on printed classifieds. He said: “People were still using the old Yellow pages door step book, but I was able to get on Yell.com under removals and maintenance and got quite a lot of work from that at a time when all the big firms weren’t really investing in online. “It was only removals and maintenance at first but then we started being asked whether we could do things like partitioning and fix ceilings. We were like that for about five years.”
His big break came when he began subcontracting more technical refurbishment work out to business contact Marcus Naylor, who was working as a project director for a £3m turnover refit company in Huddersfield. The firm quickly started to grow its annual sales from around £60,000 to a couple of hundred thousand, with Adamson and Marcus complementing each other’s skill sets. “I said to Marcus that if he ever wanted to join us the door was open,” he says. “So when the recession hit he rang me and asked whether the offer still stood. He has now been with us for four years and during that time things have really started to take off.” The firm is aiming to double its turnover to £1m this year, with its already impressive online sales set to benefit further from a significant investment in its e-commerce systems and website. The company’s white boards are certainly an indicator of its current health, with lists of contract wins leaving little room to doodle. However, the picture was very different a year and a half ago. “Those boards are full and busy, but 18 months ago they weren’t >>
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like that," says Adamson. “We’re good at what we do and have a lot of good developer clients with a bit of money to spend, but during the recession they weren’t spending because there was no point finishing off a building if you didn’t think you were going to get a tenant. I would really say that in the last six months the market has completely transformed. We are around three times as busy as we were.” The company survived the recession with a mix of competitive pricing and a solid online presence. And it is now seeing an increase in more luxurious office schemes, which allow its team to be more creative in its approach. “People are spending a little bit more than they were two years ago, when they were happy with just white walls, cheap carpets and grey desks. Now people are looking at their image, they want to impress the client and one way of doing that is having a nice design led office which creates an environment that motivates your staff. “A lot of the quirkier contracts seem to come from London, where things like games rooms have become the norm for many businesses. A lot of people are going for pool tables, and a bit of a break out bar area. I’m not saying they are serving lager on tap, but they might have a beer fridge. It is going a little more Americanised and the work place is merging into a bit of a home away from home.” So what does the near future have in store for the company? In addition to handling more residential contracts, the firm is currently looking to extend its reach to overseas markets as well as take on more work from the education sector. Adamson says: “A lot of countries overseas still appreciate British made products. For example the Chinese are demanding more access to
The chair man: Alex Adamson believes there is a huge market for quality office chairs
British fashion from the likes of Burberry. These consumers are happy to spend a lot of money and I think there is an opportunity for us to sell our products within these growth markets. A classic example is Yorkshire Tea sending tea back to China. “I also see education as another potential area for growth and we are currently making inroads with a number of schools and colleges. The office furniture market is worth £650m a year in the UK alone and I want a bigger chunk of that. Schools are spending all the time and now want to invest in quality rather than have cheap furniture hammered by their students.” The office furniture market is indeed huge, with figures from analysts at AMA Research showing that in 2012 desking alone was worth an estimated £273m and accounted
The office furniture market is worth £650m a year in the UK alone. I want a bigger chunk of that. Schools want to invest in quality rather than have cheap furniture hammered by their students BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
for 42% of the market, while seating reached £208m or 32% of the market, with sales of storage products totalling £117m or 18% of the market. Furthermore, the figures indicate that in the medium to long term the UK office furniture market is expected to show a recovery from recent declines, with annual growth rates of 3-4% from 2014 onwards. The market is forecast to reach £760m by 2017, compared to the estimated level of £650m achieved in 2012. To tap into this growing market, Adamson is sticking to his policy of “quality first” as a cornerstone of the business, which he believes will help to separate it from of the market’s biggest players which he thinks are more concerned with low cost. “A lot of people won’t learn,” he says. “They get a chair for £30 to £40 then wonder why they have got a bad back. “People feel like they are wasting money when they buy more expensive chairs, but it’s a false economy.” With the company now in the throes of a rapid growth spurt, his message seems to be getting through in this region at least which can only be a good thing for the leaders that form the backbone of the Yorkshire economy. n
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Expect More 29/08/2013 16:49
the roots of our box tree romance
For Rena Gueller and husband Simon, the idea of owning somewhere as prestigious as Yorkshireâ€™s most famous restaurant was merely a pipe dream. However, as she tells Andrew Mernin, fate had other ideas
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
The Box Tree Restaurant in Ilkley is one of Yorkshire’s most prestigious eateries, with a coveted Michelin Star to its name. But if not for the current custodians of the 52-year-old institution which, as one national newspaper once said, oozes restaurant magic, it might have closed its doors many moons ago. Just as the famous old confluence for celebrities and politicians has faced knocks along the way, the couple behind it have endured their own highs and lows in business. But with 10 years of unblemished success under their belts, a perfect recipe appears to have been found between the restaurant and owners Rena and Simon Gueller. Rena, the passionate restaurateur whose Michelin starred husband handles the kitchen side of the business, prefers to think of it as a romance – with her partner and in the serendipitous way The Box Tree entered their lives. “I’m a great believer in destiny and for me there is a romantic side of our story,” she says having just sat down after a fevered few minutes of phone calls, disappearances down corridors and commandeering of staff. We’re in an upstairs lounge at The Box Tree and, if not for the hub of the Friday afternoon traffic outside, we could be in some luxuriant haunt of 1930s aristocrats. It’s quickly apparent that hands on boss Rena has her stamp all over the business, but contradictorily she also feels that she’s merely looking after it for future generations. “The Box Tree was just a rose tinted place that we just knew of and it was something that we aspired to,” she says of earlier days in her career when running other restaurants in the area. “In fact we never even had an aspiration to run it because we knew that it would have just been a pipe dream.” But fate had other plans... Originally a Yorkshire stone farmhouse dating from 1720, the building was home to a generation of farmers before being bought by businessman Septimus Wray, the owner of Bridge House Gardens, who developed it for business and was the first to plant box trees in the garden. It became a restaurant in 1962 under the care of Malcolm Reid and Colin Long and went on to become a permanent fixture in most good food guides, welcoming the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Shirley Bassey through its doors. Originally growing up in London,
Rena was exposed to the hospitality sector at a young age, with her parents running a hotel in Kensington until she was in her late teens. Rena met Simon the chef at the age of 18 on holiday in Rhodes and they’ve pretty much been in business together ever since. Rena says: “We’ve been together for 29 years, which speaks for itself. He was working in Harrogate and I was in London, so he moved to London to be with me for a couple of years. We were very young and very entrepreneurial. It was a very Thatcherite period really; with the message being ‘go borrow money and do stuff’, which we did as well as getting a bit of financial support from my mum.” The pair knitted their careers into one business by opening up their first restaurant, Miller’s, in Harrogate in the late eighties. Simon had worked alongside his friend Marco Pierre White during the early stages of his career and had accrued a national reputation
still talked about today in culinary circles.” But after several years at Rascasse, the couple decided it was time to return to running a smaller, fine dining restaurant which would give them greater creativity, as Rena explains: “Rascasse was a bit like operating a conveyor belt service. The style of the food had to be simplified to be able to produce those types of quantities on a consistent basis.” They eventually decided to scale back the business and move into a smaller restaurant in the city called Guellers. This, says Rena, allowed them to reintroduce creativity back into their dishes. With three restaurant tenures on their CVs, Rena and Simon were steadily making a name for themselves on the national restaurant scene. In the backdrop the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and widespread flooding were having a major impact on the restaurant game and staying in the black was tough for traders. But, despite such conditions, the
We were very young and very entrepreneurial. It was a very Thatcherite period really; with the message being ‘go borrow money and do stuff’ as a rising culinary star. And the pair got off to a great start to trading. “It was an interesting seven years but also quite challenging,” Rena says. The early nineties saw the start of the Gulf War and the onset of recession and it was quite hard to learn as a young couple how to take the business forward.” But after riding out that economic storm, the couple then set up a larger restaurant, Rascasse, in Leeds. Industry plaudits soon followed, with the restaurant receiving a Michelin Star and, unusually, a Bib Gourmand, which is Michelin’s award for reasonably priced gastronomic champions. In fact, Rascasse was the largest Michelin starred restaurant outside London – an impressive achievement given the relative inexperience of its young owners. “This was an awesome time in our careers” says Rena. “Rascasse was ahead of its time, incredibly vibrant and somewhere which is
Guellers once again hit Michelin Star standards and created a thriving, popular venue. However, a rocky patch was to eventually follow. A seemingly innocuous yet expensive dispute over the location of extractor fans and the building’s suitability for use as a restaurant delivered an ultimately crushing blow. And their hand was forced into pressing the liquidation button. Rena says: “It wasn’t to do with the restaurant business it was to do with the finances in the end; they were drained by litigation and we were forced to make a decision. We couldn’t run the business and something had to give.” At the same time, Simon had undergone serious back surgery and the couple were about ready to throw in the tea towel. A compromise, they decided, was to practice their entrepreneurship in outside catering. And suddenly Rena, the glamorous host of >>
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
ENTREPRENEUR the finest of fine dining, found herself in the market for a white van. “Because Simon was recovering we thought we could just do outside event catering. I got going by getting a unit and we got a van. Being so hand to mouth, I knew I had to go out and get business by myself. I knew we needed to turnover a decent amount on a month to month basis just to pay our mortgage and feed our two kids. It was a learning curve and was a very emotional time for me, Simon and the kids. On top of everything else, our names were all over the papers with stories written about the fact that Simon, ‘one of the highest profile chefs in Yorkshire’, had gone into liquidation. It was a humbling experience.” This level of determination paid off, with the opportunity to run The Box Tree restaurant arising to help Rena and Simon make a glorious return to the restaurant business. The couple had known former owner, the late Madam Avis, and had already discussed taking over The Box Tree previously. Greek born Madam Avis, as she preferred to be addressed, was one of the most prominent people in Ilkley, having turned around the fortunes of the restaurant when she acquired it from receivers in 1992. Rena says: “We knew Madam Avis quite well, however we realised how run down and dilapidated the place was becoming. After her husband died, she began talking about exiting the business and eventually she approached us about potentially taking it over. “The restaurant had temporarily closed by this point and I think she felt it was time to move on and retire. She didn’t want to just put The Box Tree on the open market and really wanted the right people to look after it.” The decision wasn’t taken lightly by the Guellers given their previous experiences. But The Box Tree had taken on an almost mythic quality in their joint consciousness and in the end it was a “no brainer”. In their early days in business in Harrogate they befriended Messrs Long and Reid, the couple who founded the Box Tree in 1962. “They had sold up and opened a picture gallery, and we went there one day to buy some pictures for our restaurant in Harrogate. “We were quite blown away because being young and being in the industry and knowing
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Living around here, looking around the Dales, it’s such a beautiful place. I just love driving to work and seeing the cow herds beyond the building who they were, they were like demi-gods to us. To a young chef it was like meeting Maradona. They came down to our open day to hang photos for us and bring flowers. “They started coming for dinner and would always tell us the stories about their life and talk about the business. The whole romance and the glitz of those stories was amazing. People like Rod Steiger and Shirley Bassey as well as Thatcher and Hesseltine would all go there and leave their Rolls-Royces outside.” So, when the eventual opportunity to take control of the business faced Simon and Rena, it was virtually impossible to pass by. “In some respects it had to be Madame Avis’s idea. I didn’t want to get emotionally involved with something that may never happen, but then we thought ‘game on’. I tried to take negotiations as far as I could but I didn’t necessarily believe that it would happen. I can’t tell you how emotional it was getting the keys and coming in and sitting down for the first
time, with all those vivid stories in my mind.” In all, they invested around £500,000 into the building. Rena says: “The place was in a bit of a state when we bought it. We began by stripping it bare and thought we’d wrecked the place. I was waking up at five in the morning with anxiety, I lost a stone. Not only did we have our necks on the block but we were also coming back from Guellers. “We also felt the weight of expectation from the local community which was - and still is – so attached to the restaurant. However, I knew we were right for the place.” Her instincts served her well with the restaurant going on to flourish. So, what other plans might Rena and Simon have? “Well I think this would make a really good Indian restaurant,” Rena says with a smile. “No, for me it goes back to the same old adage, it’s the romance of being part of a restaurant with a 50 year heritage. I want it to be here for the next 50 years and I want to ensure its legacy lives on. Eventually I want one of the team to take it over as I would hate to be the person that says ‘that’s it, I’m done, and I’m putting it on the market.’ I think we have too much invested both financially and emotionally to do that.” To give the business added stability, its outside catering arm Box Tree Events is currently undergoing expansion. In terms of staff, the restaurant has about 50 people on its books, including 15 full timers. Rena says: “Young people might be with us from 15 into their 20s and 30s. They go off to university and are always bouncing back. The Box Tree has been life changing for them. It has given them people and presentation skills and taught them not to cut corners.” Overall then, The Box Tree looks to be in pretty rude health with the Guellers at the helm. “It has been a very positive few years,” Rena says. “We have been adding an extra 20% to 30% to the bottom line each year. However, for me, it’s about enjoying what we’re doing. I have a team that is passionate, which is great as I don’t have to be like Mr Motivator. “Living around here, looking around the Dales, it’s such a beautiful place,” Rena adds. “I just love driving to work and seeing the cow herds beyond the building. I just think I am very lucky.” Lucky? Perhaps. Deserving? Most definitely. n
BIT OF A CHAT
>> Facing facts about TV show
with Frank Tock >> Future stars come out Here at BQ big plans are afoot which will help launch the business stars of tomorrow and showcase the brightest regional entrepreneurial talent around the country. We’re hosting a BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner at Aspire, Leeds, on Thursday 22 May to bring together entrepreneurs from across Yorkshire. As part of the dinner, BQ will be inviting entrepreneurs it has featured in its pages, along with others, and asking them to bring along an “up and coming’’ entrepreneur, who could be someone they have mentored, guided or someone who has simply caught their eye. The dinner will also celebrate entrepreneurship in the Yorkshire region, as well as provide an opportunity to formally recognise two entrepreneurs from the region who will be judged – based on a short written submission – by a small select panel. The Yorkshire event will be one of a series of four held in each region where BQ magazine is published, which also include Scotland, the North East and the West Midlands. The eight finalists chosen from the regional heats will then be invited to attend the MADE 2014 Festival Gala Dinner on 25 September in Sheffield, where one will be recognised as the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. The competition is part of a week-long festival aimed at inspiring entrepreneurship and is expected to attract 4,000 delegates from all over the UK. Speakers at MADE 2014 already include internationally renowned business experts and entrepreneurs such as Levi Roots, Doug Richards and Paul McKenna.
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
Thought the BBC TV show The Apprentice was a battle of the finest young business minds in the country? Not so, says AA Office Group’s Alex Adamson who came within a whisker of appearing on the show. Coming within two places of making it through the show’s selection process, the Harrogate office furniture and fit-out entrepreneur says physical attractiveness – and not commercial acumen – played a big part in the final decision of who made the cut. Not that he’s bitter given that, while most previous Apprentice winners have melted into obscurity – or in Stella English’s case faced the upheaval of a high-profile legal battle – he has built a lucrative business as documented on pages 72-74.
>> The middle’s a muddle If forty is the new thirty and thirty the new twenty, then what constitutes middle age these days? According to Yorkshire entrepreneur Jonathan Turner, not 47, given his disgruntlement at BQ lumping him in the middle aged category in our recent interview. Well actually he might have had a point. A study of 2,000 adults by healthcare provider Benenden Health last year concluded that it is now 53 – and no longer 41 – that marks the start of middle age. So Jonathan, a particularly young at heart leader given his involvement in toy company Battlebox and his love of fast cars, hopefully has at least six years left in the ‘approaching middle age’ band.
>> Networking out As reported earlier in this issue, property group Carter Jonas is pushing the idea of sweatworking here in Yorkshire through its upcoming Grand Départfocused cycling / networking event. But might the concept ever grow traction here? In the US networking down the gym is commonplace and apparently a shared experience of suffering helps to establish mutual bonds and aids the ice-breaking process. Plus all those drinks and dinners can leave their mark on the waistband and
so a combination of work and working out can be ideal for time-starved chief execs and entrepreneurs. Only time will tell whether weights rooms and running tracks replace our many lavish conferencing spots. But at least a little sweatworking might be just what the doctor ordered.
>> They’ve come Oolong way Well played to Yorkshire Tea for making it onto the Superbrands list of the UK’s most successful brands among 10 other firms with links to the county, including Asda, Morrisons and DFS. Taylors of Harrogate’s marketing strategy and its encouragement of the nation to ‘let’s have a proper brew’ is clearly paying off. But Taylors and other tea-making empires may need to pull together to arrest a reported decline in the art of communal tea drinking. A recent UK study found that 2.5 million workers are simply too busy to put the kettle on, with a third of those questioned avoiding making tea for others, and four in 10 blaming the death of the tea round on bosses who refuse to make a brew for others. Such studies require digestion with a spoonful or two of sugar but so worrying is the trend that Stephen Fry and Felicity Kendal no less are involved in a charitable push to save the communal brew. Such activities will no doubt be backed to the hilt here in Yorkshire.
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13 The Met Club Grand St leger networking lunch. Racecourse Roundabout Bennetthorpe, Doncaster. Members £25+vat. Non - Members £35+vat. For more details call 01302 364 111. www.themetclub.co.uk. 13 – 14 Buy Yorkshire. Royal Armouries, Leeds. B2B Conference & Exhibition. Includes a varied and inspiring series of business seminars from leading entrepreneurs and the highly innovative companies in the UK. Around 180 exhibitors and over 4,000 delegates are expected. Guests include Karren Brady and Janet Street Porter. www.buyyorkshire.com 15 The Met Club. Xero – Accounting Seminar. Harrogate. Venue to be confirmed. 8.30am - 10.30am. www.themetclub.co.uk
8 Bradford Chamber of Commerce. Cereal Networking. Manningham Mills. The Silk Warehouse, Lilycroft Road, Bradford. 8am – 9.30am. Member Price: £12. Non Member Price: £22. http://www.bradfordchamber.co.uk 9 The Met Club Restaurant Bar & Grill. 5.30pm -7.30pm. For more details ring 01423 525 622. www.themetclub.co.uk 11 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking in York. King’s Manor, Exhibition Square, York. 7.30am – 9am. Member Rate: £16.67 +VAT, Non Member Rate: £25.00 +VAT. 14 Harrogate Chamber meeting. Cairn Hotel. Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground. 5.30pm. www.harrogatechamber.org 15 The Met Club Sheffield Networking Lunch Copthorne Hotel. 12am- 1.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk 23 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Business Lunch in Leeds. Woodlands Hotel, Gelderd Road, Morley, Leeds. 12pm – 2pm. Member Rate: £20.83 +VAT Non Member Rate: £32.50 +VAT www.yourchamber.org.uk 24 The Met Club Hugh Bayley MP - York Lunch. Hotel du Vin York. 12.00noon - 2.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk 25 The Met Club Harrogate Networking Lunch. 12.00noon - 1.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk 28 Harrogate Chamber Yorkshire Business Market. Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground. Free. 10.30am – 5pm. www.yorkshirebusinessmarket.org. 29 Leeds Drinks Evening at Chaophraya. 20A Blayds Court, Swinegate, Leeds. £5. 6pm – 11pm. www.theyorkshiremafia.com/events 30 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Construction Lunch in York. Bedern Hall, Bedern, Bartle Garth, St Andrewgate, York. 12pm – 2pm. Member Rate: £20.83 +VAT. Non Member Rate: £32.50 +VAT. www.yourchamber.org.uk
20 The Met Club Hotel du Vin Harrogate Met Connect breakfast. 8.30am - 10.30am. www.themetclub.co.uk 21 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Bank of England Inflation Report Briefing. Bedern Hall, Bedern, Bartle Garth, St Andrewgate, York. Free. 8am – 9.30am. 22 The Met Club Hotel du Vin York networking lunch. 2.00noon - 1.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk. 22 Bradford Chamber of Commerce. Eco fair. Leeds United, Elland Road, Leeds. A free event that is open to everyone from all industry sectors. Share information on making savings, best practice and new technology. 8am – 4pm. www.bradfordchamber.co.uk 22 BQ Yorkshire Emerging Entrepreneur Dinner, Aspire, Leeds, Thursday, 22 May 2014. For sponsorship and tickets contact Kirsty@room501.co.uk or Rachael@room501.co.uk or call 0191 426 6300 www.bq-magazine.co.uk/bq-events
JUNE 5 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking in Leeds. Leeds United Football Club - Bremner Suite, West Stand, Elland Road, Leeds. . 7.30 – 9.30. Member Rate: £16.67 +VAT, Non Member Rate: £25.00 +VAT. www.yourchamber.org.uk 5 The Met Club White Hart Hotel networking evening event, Harrogate. 5.30pm – 7.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk 6 Harrogate Chamber. Harrogate Business Luncheon. 12.30 - 2.30pm. Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground. www.harrogatechamber.org 9 Harrogate Chamber. How to succeed starting & growing a new business - by 2014 Ackrill Media Group Small Business of the Year - Award Winner + their Business Adviser and their Banker. Majestic Hotel, Ripon Road, Harrogate. 10 The Met Club Copthorne Hotel Sheffield networking lunch. 12 – 1.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk
1 Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber Pure Networking in Leeds. Leeds United Football Club - Bremner Suite, West Stand, Elland Road, Leeds. 7.30-9.30. Member Rate: £16.67 +VAT, Non Member Rate: £25.00 +VAT. www.yourchamber.org.uk 7 The Met Club Doubletree by Hilton Hotel evening networking event. 5.30pm - 7.30pm. www.themetclub.co.uk 8 Bradford Chamber of Commerce. Napoleons Networking. Early evening informal networking Napoleons Casino & Restaurant. 37 Bolton Rd, Bradford 4pm – 6pm. www.bradfordchamber.co.uk
BUSINESS QUARTER | SPRING 14
12 Harrogate Chamber Promoting Harrogate District Tourism – Tour de France Grand Départ - final plans, visit Harrogate District update and Harrogate Chamber 118th Annual General Meeting. Cedar Court Hotel, Park Parade, York Place, HG1 5AH. www.harrogatechamber.org
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.
run Sunderland Be Part of the action on Bank holiday weekend
3 runners 1 team 13.1 miles
take on the challenge with your friends, family or work colleagues!
enter now. may 4th 2014.