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My first job – Alvin Hargreaves, venue director of Guildford’s G Live  2 £500 boost for waterways charity  4 Firms must match consumer expectations  5 Stimulus reduction causes markets anxiety  7

June 2013

getsurrey.co.uk/business in association with

Hotel deal protects jobs Surya Hotels, the new owner of the Ramada Guildford, hands over management to Legacy Hotels and Resorts, which promises job security and plans for development By Tim Harris

tim.harris@trinitymirror.com MORE than 50 jobs have been safeguarded following the purchase of a Guildford hotel, bringing it out of administration. The Ramada Guildford/ Leatherhead Hotel, in Guildford Road, East Horsley has been in administration for the last couple of years until it was recently bought by Surya Hotels. In addition to Ramada Guildford, Surya has also purchased the Ramada Farnham. Both hotels have been run by BDL Management for the last few years. However, Legacy Hotels and Resorts, based in Henley-inArden, Warwickshire has now been awarded a long-term contract by Surya to manage both properties. Andy Townsend, chief executive of Legacy, confirmed all 56 staff at the Guildford hotel will keep their jobs. “We are delighted in this

economy that we have been able to protect these jobs,” he said. “It is difficult for any business to operate while in administration and it is therefore welcoming to be able to lift the uncertainty from these hotels.

“This is our first foray into Surrey and it is an area we have been keen to operate in for some time.” “We can also start mapping out new and concise plans for their futures with the hotel teams. “It is planned to invest in both properties over the coming months and as our plans take shape we look forward to sharing these with the hotel staff and customers alike.” In addition to news that no members of the workforce will be axed, Mr Townsend added more

staff could be recruited during the coming months. He also confirmed there are plans to refurbish the Guildford hotel, with work to start at the end of this year. This will be completed in phases starting with the bedrooms, and will take around 12 to 18 months to complete. Mr Townsend said the future is looking positive for the 87-bedroom Ramada Guildford, which will remain branded as a Ramada property for at least the next three months while a decision is made on future brand positioning. He added: “If we can grow and develop the hotel, obviously it is good news. “We are delighted to be operating two additional hotels within Legacy as part of our strategic relationship with Surya Hotels. “This is our first foray into Surrey and it is an area we have been keen to operate in for some time.” The new general manager at the Guildford hotel is Karl Wilson.

The Ramada branding will remain at the hotel for at least the next three months.

The Ramada Guildford, in East Horsley, has been saved after its sale brought it out of administration.

Independent Financial Advice to Business Tel: 01483 578800 www.chaptersfinancial.com

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Hadleigh House, 232 High Street, Guildford, GU1 3JF Chapters Financial Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, number 402899


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June 2013

My first job AN accountancy firm in Guildford has been recognised with an award for its pensions service for the second year running. Baker Tilly, based in Cross Lanes, was voted Pensions Accountant of the Year at the annual Pension and Investment Provider Awards (PIPA), last month. In addition to clinching the PIPA accolade for the second consecutive year at the London ceremony, it means another triumph in just a few years for Baker Tilly, after a previous win in 2009. The PIPA awards, which are now in their 14th year, recognise excellent service delivery by providers of products and services to UK occupational pension schemes. Karen Tasker, head of defined contribution for the firm’s pensions group, said: “Picking up the award for the second year running is a great credit to the whole Baker Tilly pensions team.” Surrey Chambers of Commerce is again taking on a summer health challenge, in partnership with local company Activity4Charity. This year the Chamber will be raising money for its member charities. The team has been set the challenge to complete 10,000 steps per day for six weeks, which is the equivalent of seven marathons. If you would like to support the team, feel free to make a donation by visiting www.justgiving.com/teams/surreychambers. To see how the team progresses or to offer some much-needed encouragement, follow @SurreyChambers on twitter. A GUILDFORD accountancy company has praised business in the South East after the region placed well in a UK-wide league table. London and the South East are ‘leading the UK technology revolution’, according to a recently published league table of Britain’s top 100 fastest-growing hi-tech companies. Chris Cairns, partner at Alliotts accountants, in High Street, said: “It is fantastic news that 70% of the companies on the tech league table are based in London and the South East.” A WATER company covering Surrey has added a new face to its board of directors. South East Water confirmed David Hinton as asset director after he worked his way up from being a laboratory analyst. Mr Hinton has more than 17 years of experience with the firm and his new role will see him responsible for South East Water’s infrastructure, water quality and resources, environmental issues and economic regulation. Husband and father-of-two, David said: “I am looking forward to heading up such a vital area of our business at an interesting time for the water industry.” Paul Butler, managing director, added: “I am delighted David is joining the board. His loyalty to the company and commitment to its successes have proved invaluable to us over the years.”

Editorial Director Marnie Wilson Group Deputy Editor Mark Miseldine Business Reporter Pete Bryant Commercial Manager Amanda Ducas Regional Sales Manager Sarah Firth

Alvin Hargreaves is the venue director of G Live in Guildford What was your first job? As a young boy, having watched my older sister begin working in our local theatre, it wasn’t long before I was selling ice creams and operating the follow-spot for concerts and the Christmas panto season. This casual work from the age of 14 sparked my interest in the theatre world and, some years later, led to my first full-time proper ‘techie’ job working in lighting, sound, film projection and stage management. How did you get from there to where you are today? I was always lucky in the timing of opportunities to develop my career and I jumped on any chance to take more responsibility. Front of house, marketing and duty management opportunities presented themselves and

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What does the future hold? G Live is becoming established in the live entertainment industry and we’ve assembled a talented and committed team. The next phase is to further unlock the venue’s significant potential as a regional centre for the finest music and entertainment. I have made the county my home now and I’m looking forward to taking my son, Wills, to his first shows. There are some perks to the job.

Alvin Hargreaves sees potential at G Live.

Prince’s Trust helps young glassblower put her dream into shape By Jennifer Morris

A

I quickly gained a more rounded experience of the business. From St Albans to De Montfort Hall in Leicester in 1994 was a big move to a larger venue, which after a two-year post-grad day-release management degree course at the local university led to a promotion as operations manager. Being prepared to move always opens more opportunities as I found when I left land-locked Leicestershire for Plymouth in 2002. This was my first senior management post for a large arena, conference and leisure centre, where I programmed acts like Coldplay, Oasis, Green Day and the Manics. Some nine years later I headed inland, to Guildford, for a unique opportunity to mobilise one of the only new venues opening in the UK in current times.

jennifer.morris@trinitymirror.com A GLASSBLOWER has launched her own fledgling business after winning a place on the Prince’s Trust’s enterprise programme for young people. Elizabeth Welch, 26, from Milford, applied for the programme in 2011 after selling her first products at an event called Art in Action, where she made £1,000 – a much higher amount than the other traders. Having skills in glass-making, Miss Welch had always toyed with the idea of starting her own business but did not know where to begin. Now her work is being sold in the Wey Gallery in Godalming, and she is compiling a portfolio in preparation of approaching more galleries. After leaving school Miss Welch completed a foundation art course at Wimbledon College and went on to study ceramics and glass at Buckinghamshire New University. She said: “I had been working part-time jobs since leaving university and when my hours were cut at the pub I was working at, I knew it was time to start.” The trust’s scheme is for people aged 18 to 30 who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours per week. Participants must have a business idea and mentors help

them decide whether self-employment is right for them. A four-day induction course precedes the process. Miss Welch, who also studies at Rodborough Technology College in Milford and then Godalming College, said: “I was mentored for a year by a wonderful lady and when she decided I was ready I prepared for launch group.” This is a Dragon’s Den-type scenario where participants in the programme present their business plan to a panel, and ideas on how they would like to be supported by them. The panel then allocates a loan, with very low interest rates, and Miss Welch was offered the maximum amount available, which she received at the end of March. She currently stores her pieces of work at her Milford home and a studio she rents in Devon because rates are lower. She added: “It has been fantastic, especially in such a tough financial market. “I am working hard on my portfolio and my product ranges and I am still working part-time to pay the bills. I would love to eventually open my own shop with a studio attached.” To find out more about Miss Welch’s glasswork, visit her website at www.elizabethwelchglass. co.uk or email elizabeth@elizabethwelchglass.co.uk.

Glassblower Elizabeth Welch with a piece of glasswork ready to go into the annealing kiln.


June 2013

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App aims to help entrepreneurs configure a deal By James Watkins

james.watkins@trinitymirror.com A BUSINESSMAN from Guildford has invented a smartphone application to help entrepreneurs and start-up companies to seal investments. The new smartphone app is being launched in the summer by former entrepreneur turned corporate finance fundraiser, Aristos Peters. Mr Peters has said his app, called D Risk It, will give budding businessmen and women the ability to take their ideas through what he has labelled a ‘deal MOT’, and will help them approach angel investors. “It flows out of the work I started doing in recent years as an introducer,” said Mr Peters, who grew up in Guildford and moved back to the town in 2009 after living in Cardiff. “I introduce businesses to investors, or deals to investors, and very often they are not ready, so there is a high rejection rate.

New HQ for KOGT AN operator in the oil and gas industries has established a Guildford office to oversee projects in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME). Kongsberg Oil and Gas Technologies Limited (KOGT) will be based in Walnut Tree Close, providing sales and technical support to customers. Jon Stærkebye, senior vice-president for software and services, said: “The growing number of upstream developments in increasingly sensitive areas within the EAME region is driving a requirement for intelligent decision support solutions so now is the ideal time to grow our operations by establishing a new HQ in the UK.” KOGT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Norwegian firm Kongsberg Gruppen ASA. The Guildford office will be the focal point for customers operating in the EAME region. Initially it will concentrate on solutions and services in the fields of process simulation and flow assurance projects as well as realtime information systems for drilling decision support – disciplines vital to ensuring the continued safety, growth and sustainability of upstream operations in the EAME region. In time it is expected the office will expand its range of business activities to include KOGT’s subsea equipment solutions and services. Mike Topp, KOGT UK’s managing director, said of the move: “It’s a key stage in our development providing improved facilities and additional space as we continue to increase our presence in the EAME region.”

“There are a lot of business plans, and finding good ones is like finding gold. It takes a long time. “There is very little out there to help start-ups get prepared before they approach angel investors. This means significant numbers of businesses approach investors too early and with a poorly configured investment deal, inevitably they fail, not even getting their foot in the door.” Mr Peters said that start-up entrepreneurs are currently in vogue, and with popular television programme Dragon’s Den, locating angel investment has been the new goal in terms of taking a business proposition to the next level. He explained that more than 95% fail in the scramble to talk and pitch their deal to investors. The app aims to be a simple education and practical business tool, showing tangible ways to make adjustments in strategic business of fundraising approaches. It has three modules, the first of

which focuses on the money or return that the investors get back upon the exit or sale of a business. Then there is a seven-stage test that reviews and scores key areas of the strategy and investment deal. Finally it gives a suggested valuation based on current investment considerations and the entrepreneur's progress achieved to date. “It is to help them configure their deal,” Mr Peters said. “It is not a business proposition. This is a deal.” He said that having blind hope of just walking up to investors and attempting to persuade them just does not happen. “This is about getting people smart. It is an educational app.” Mr Peter’s aim is that the tool will save entrepreneurs both time and money, but what he says is more important, is that instead of having a deal go straight to the out tray, it will increase the chances of entering into a deal conversation with investors.

Aristos Peters has developed a new smartphone app.

Bank signs up to charity’s business club METRO Bank has become the 25th member of a disabled charity’s business club. Launched in 2011, the Challengers Champions Business Club consists of local firms committed to growing their business whilst supporting the charity through membership. Challengers, based in Guildford, provides play and leisure opportunities to disabled children and youngsters across Surrey. Metro Bank became one of the latest editions to Guildford’s North Street in April, and the store's local director, Ben Sheeran, visited the charity and said he was immediately taken with the work that the charity does and was excited to get involved. “As a new business in Guildford, we are delighted to have joined the Challengers Business Club,”

Mr Sheeran said. “Metro Bank is a community bank which works closely with people and businesses in the local area to understand their needs. “Guildford is a great community and we’re excited to be part of it.” The business club brings members of firms together at exclusive quarterly events with high profile speakers, as well as providing a networking opportunity. Previous speakers at such events have included former F1 world champion Damon Hill, MP for South West Surrey and secretary of state Jeremy Hunt and BBC journalists, Michael Buerk and Kate Adie. Challengers CEO, Laura Sercombe, said: “We are thrilled to have Metro Bank Guildford as part of the Business Club, we are

looking forwards to welcoming them to their first event and working with them in the coming months.” Established in 1979, Challengers is based at Stoke Park and its aim is to enhance the lives of disable children. The charity’s facilities are open seven days a week, 50 weeks of the year, and each year over 1,300 youngsters aged between two and 25-years-old get involved with the projects to make friends, build life skills and challenge their impairments through playing. Its services cost in excess of £2 million each year, and the majority of its income comes from voluntary donations, so it relies heavily on support of individuals, community groups, businesses and charitable trusts to enable it to continue running its services.

Merger of law firms is announced

Metro Bank has opened in North Street in Guildford.

A SOLICITORS in Surrey, which has been providing services to businesses for more than 280 years, has announced that it has merged with another law firm. On Wednesday May 28 Morrisons Solicitors LLP, which has offices in Woking, as well as Redhill, Wimbledon, Camberley and Twickenham, joined forces with Cozens Moxon and Harts Solicitors. Morrisons has served individuals and businesses since 1729, and the firm has stated that the move will enable the combined firms to offer a wider range of legal services to clients. Graham Whitworth, partner at Cozens Moxon and Harts, said:

“Morrisons is a modern organisation which has greater strength in depth, expertise and additional resources to offer our clients. “Becoming part of Morrisons will enable us to offer a wider range of legal services to our clients including specialist advice on litigation, employment, company and commercial matters.” Paul Harvey, managing partner at Morrisons, said: “Having spent significant time with Graham and his colleagues, we are confident that we share the same values and focus on delivering outstanding client service. In recent years we have built a team of talented lawyers and have fully embraced technology to ensure that we have

the resources to provide an outstanding service to all our clients.” The merger means that the partners and staff from Cozens Moxon and Harts will move into Morrisons’ new officers at 8 Waldergrave Road, Teddington, but they will also be able to offer appointments to clients at any of Morrisons’ five offices. Members of the Morrisons’ team recently completed the Guildford Legal Walk 2013, including Adrienne Edgerley-Harris, Robert Mulvany, Mark Walker, Tanuja Sellahewa, Chloe Wilson and Nicole Evans, helping to raise £6,300. The walk aims to raise both funds and awareness to support the Surrey Law Advice Centre.


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June 2013

GREEN BUSINESS

Steps to reduce our footprint

All aboard as scheme gets boost By James Watkins

james.watkins@trinitymirror.com A CHARITY which provides education for youngsters and helps to conserve Surrey’s waterways has received a £500 grant. The Swingbridge programme, launched in 2002 and co-ordinated by Surrey Care Trust, was awarded the money from the Hilton in the Community Foundation, to go toward activities for young people on board its boats. The donation came thanks to a recommendation from the Hilton hotel in Cobham, and Ruth Mitchell from the hotel presented the cheque to Swingbridge trainer, Catherine Frew Brown, at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford. The Hilton in the Community Foundation provides grants with an aim of giving the younger generation a brighter future. There are two Swingbridge boats, which both have the aim of

acting as outdoor classrooms and a base for training, activities, team building and environmental volunteering, with crews working on the River Wey, the Basingstoke Canal and the Thames. As well as helping youngsters, those who have been redundant, long term unemployed, recovering from addiction or ill health are also encouraged to join in with the charity’s initiatives. Offenders carrying out community service of unpaid work also take part in conservation work with the charity and sessions are also held for younger people who have been excluded from school. While Swingbridge receives financial help from a few sponsors and donations such as those from the Hilton, the remainder of its money is raised by the charity’s own fundraising activities. For the younger generation, Swingbridge teaches skills including mooring, rope work, knots,

Surrey Care Trust’s Swingbridge 2 taking part in the Thames Diamond Jubileee Pageant.

how to operate locks and health and safety, whilst learning about waterway habitats. “Swingbridge is great for young people,” said Lynsay Scott, CEO of Surrey Care Trust. “It teaches them practical skills, it challenges them, gives them the opportunity to work as part of a team alongside adults, which fosters their confidence and their social skills, and it can also be enormous fun.”

Swingbridge’s courses and activities can also be booked by other groups and organisations. In the spring, summer and early autumn, Swingbridge1 is available for hire by community organisations for fully-crewed trips. People aged 19 and over who are available during the week to volunteer can contact Chris Wilson on 01483 426990 or chris. wilson@surreycaretrust.org.uk.

Firm doesn’t have head in clouds about energy A GUILDFORD cloud computing provider has been awarded for its efforts to reduce its energy footprint. Memset Hosting, based in Surrey Research Park, picked up the ‘Innovative Energy-Efficient Project Award’ at the Energy and Environment Awards. A project headed up by managing director Kate Craig-Wood concentrated on the energy efficiency of the company’s Miniserver VM virtual machines. Over 32 months the load levels and power consumption of the servers were examined. By iteratively refining and finetuning the host hardware they were able to reduce the average power consumption of each Miniserver Compute Unit from 26 watts in the middle of 2009 to 4.7 watts by the end of 2011. Since then, consumption has further been improved to roughly 3.7 watts per unit. The Energy and Environment Awards judges said: “Memset have been awarded the winner for their excellent project which has shown how attention to detail on a company’s core business can

lead to sufficient energy savings at low cost. “The potential to replicate is substantial.” A spokesman for Memset said the reduction in power consumption has been quicker than predicted by Moore’s Law – an observation which can be interpreted as the doubling of computer power every two years. The spokesman said this makes the company Britain’s cheapest virtual machine provider by delivering a higher performance product through fine-tuning and the elimination of bottlenecks. Miss Craig-Wood said: “This is another fantastic achievement for Memset. “We’re delighted to have been recognised for the efforts we have made in substantially reducing the power of our Miniserver VM virtual servers. “We encourage all businesses to collect and analyse more data about their own power consumption and activities. “It is likely that larger businesses will be mandated to do so anyway so it makes sense to get ahead of the game now.” Sponsor’s feature

Tax avoidance and the general anti-abuse rule David Cooper, partner at Hamlyns LLP, chartered accountants and business advisers, talks about the General Anti-Abuse Rule and how it affects you. On 6 April this year, the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) came in to effect as part of the Finance Bill 2013. The aim of the GAAR is to deter taxpayers and, more importantly, promoters of aggressive tax avoidance schemes, from entering into complicated arrangements specifically designed to avoid tax. It is a long established principle in the UK that you are able to arrange your affairs in such a way so that the minimum amount of tax is due. The courts have confirmed this principle many times and have ruled that there is no obligation, moral or otherwise, on the part of a resident to pay more tax than statute demands. As the government attempts to close the budget deficit by collecting more and spending less, there appears to be an appetite for both corporate and individual taxpayers to become more sophisticated and adventurous with their financial arrangements to reduce their tax bills. To keep abreast of developments in the market, promoters of tax avoidance schemes have been required to inform HM Revenue of the details of their marketed schemes since August 2006. Those taking advantage of such schemes are also required to disclose to HM Revenue the fact that they are using such a scheme.

With the constantly changing tide of taxation we are here to throw a lifeline to guide you through Hamlyns’ David Cooper, left, and Chris Shrubb.

It was widely feared that the introduction of the GAAR would mean that the principal of avoiding tax, by arranging your affairs in a tax efficient manner, would be caught by the GAAR and almost any arrangement could be challenged and substantial penalties levied where tax was legitimately saved. HM Revenue has now published guidance on what they consider to be acceptable which include: • transferring assets to a spouse, civil partner or child to reduce your income and potential capital gain • ‘flipping’ your second home • working through a company rather than being self employed • paying dividends rather than

salary for directors/shareholders • paying into an ISA • paying pension contributions • using government-introduced incentives such as an Enterprise Management Incentive Schemes and Enterprise Investment Schemes These are a few examples from their guidance notes and so planning remains possible. There is no mechanism to obtain advance approval from HM Revenue whether they consider a contemplated arrangement is caught by the GAAR. An independent panel will review any transactions that HM Revenue thinks are suspicious. Talk to us to get the planning right and keep your tax bill as low as possible.

Chartered Accountants and Tax Advisers • Business services • Private clients • Wealth management

Call 01483 755399

www.hamlyns.com


June 2013

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Surrey Chambers: the real voice of business By Louise Punter

Surrey Chambers of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Never before has the voice of business been more important. The way economic development is being handled by the government through Local Enterprise Partnerships has opened the door for business intervention. This doesn’t mean every business needs to communicate thoughts on a daily basis but what it does mean is that by be-

ing part of a business organisation and sharing thoughts and ideas we are able to relay those views. Apart from the chance to influence local spending decisions, around transport, housing, skills and business support, members of the chamber also get the chance to promote themselves across the business community. With clear benefits it has been no surprise to us that we have had an excellent start to the year, welcoming new members of all

types, sectors and sizes. Among nearly 100 new members so far this year we welcomed BT plc, Innovate Services, who transform school canteens, Willmott Dixon Construction and bus company, Arriva. These companies based in our county see the benefits of being situated in Surrey and they are passionate about keeping Surrey on the map as the place to do business in. The variety of businesses joining the chamber is fascinating. Each business has a place in the

JUNE/JULY

to book call 01483 735549 or visit www.surrey-chambers.co.uk

19 Wed

Woking Ask the Experts Venue: H G Wells Centre, Church Street East, Woking

5pm

7pm

25 Tues

Members Networking Evening Venue: Watts Gallery, Down Lane, Compton, Guildford

6pm

8pm

25 Tues

GrowthCLUB 90 Days Business Planning Workshop Venue: Guildford

8.30am

5pm

27 Thu

Chamber Connections Redhill breakfast Venue: Donyngs Leisure Centre, Lingfield Lane, Redhill

8am

9.30am

28 Fri

Grow Your Business – Export Opportunities Venue: Surrey National Golf Club, Rook Lane, Chaldon, Nr Caterham

8.30am 11.30am

28 Fri

HR Advice Forum Venue: The County Club, 158 High Street, Guildford

7.30am

9.30am

12.15pm

2.30pm

2

Tue

Annual Summer Lunch Venue: RHS Wisley Garden, Wisley, Near Woking

2

Tue

Chamber Connections – Epsom Breakfast Venue: Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Downs, Epsom

8am

9.30am

3 Wed

Open 18 Hole Stableford Golf Competition for The Bill Ward Memorial Cup followed by Lunch at Worplesdon Golf Club Venue: Worplesdon Golf Club, Heath House Road, Woking

8am

5.30pm

5

Chamber Connections – Woking Breakfast Venue: Holiday Inn, Victoria Way, Woking

8am

9.30am

Fri

10 Wed

Business Women in Surrey at Pennyhill Park Venue: Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa, London Road, Bagshot

3.30pm 5.30pm

11 Thu

The Formula for Business Success and Beyond Venue: The County Club, 158 High Street, Guildford

8.45am 12.30pm

17 Wed

Chamber Connections – Betchworth Breakfast Venue: Hartsfield Manor ( De Vere Venues) Sandy Lane, Betchworth

8am

9.30am

Be part of the network - find out how Surrey Chambers of Commerce membership can help your business at www.surrey-chambers.co.uk

market and we are working with interior decorators, digital marketing, audio visual, retail, financial services, care homes, consultants, ceramic tiles, property, photography, image technology, medicines and cars to name but a few. We have had some exciting new members to watch out for including the soon to be globally launched ‘The World Birthday Connection’, an innovative social networking business, the Metro Bank, the first high street bank to open in 100 years

and the brand new Whats Up Whats On magazine based in Woking. We have also had some brand new dynamic start up organisations, including I Want To Be and Intuito Coaching The key ingredient for a successful business community is interaction and by introducing these new businesses into the already established membership the result is vibrant networking and business deals. Woking Chamber has also been welcoming many new members and our

joint activities have made the business voice even stronger. We keep working on any barriers that businesses encounter so that the local economy can continue to grow and support UK plc but we need the continuous input from each of our members to ensure we understand the real issues. A big welcome to all our new members and very warm wishes to our established members. Together we have the opportunity to make a difference.

Consumers have changed and so must forward-thinking firms Marketing consultant Vaughan Gordon of VG&A examines why businesses must behave differently to deliver growth through this recession Unlike the downturns of 1929 and 1982, the nature of this recession is unique. In previous recessions, the Darwinian rules of “the survival of the fittest” meant that companies not strategically astute and agile enough to change (and quickly) were ultimately doomed. Clearly, there have been some substantial casualties in this recession, however, some (zombie) companies continue to limp on supported by government aid and historically low interest rates. For many of these companies, this is merely a stay of execution. This, in itself, is interesting enough but this recession is unique due to the impact of the internet on the way we live and work, changing consumer behaviour and the way businesses have responded to these changes. As consumers we no longer behave as we did in the early 1980s where, in comparison with our lives today, resources were hopelessly

scant. Now, we almost exclusively rely on the internet to view, listen, read, research, compare, communicate, review, comment, network and, importantly, purchase. So, if consumers have radically changed their behaviour by taking the internet to their collective hearts, surely businesses have been doing the same thing? And so, we return to Darwin again. The businesses most likely to come through the recession leaner and meaner will have evolved their growth strategies in line with the customer need, using and adapting whichever resources are required to help them do so. Their strategy for growth (not just survival) will almost certainly involve a different approach and attitude which will be shared company-wide. Compare this with those businesses still hanging on to the way they did things back in 2008. Moreover, these forwardthinking businesses will design

customer and web-centric marketing strategies and will demand a closer relationship to the sales function. The question is...which of the aforementioned businesses are you? The Surrey Chambers of Commerce & VG&A have designed a bespoke workshop, The Formula for Business Success in 2013 & Beyond, for those businesses that recognise the need to change but may be unsure of exactly what is required. Presented by three experts in marketing (Vaughan Gordon), social media (Martin Couzins) and sales (Paul Streeter), this half-day workshop will highlight the key changes businesses must make to maximise their potential for growth in 2013 and beyond. n For more info www.surreychambers.co.uk or Tel: 01483 735540.


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June 2013

‘I would say to anyone who has an idea – just try it’ Rebecca Younger hears from a Surrey cobbler whose wedding shoe dilemma turned into a thriving business HAVE you ever spent hours scouring the shops for that perfect pair of shoes, but can’t find what you’re looking for to go with your outfit? That’s the dilemma Marsha Hall faced when she was searching for a pair of sandals to wear on her wedding day in 2001. Instead of settling for second best, Mrs Hall decided to design and make her own pair of shoes. It was a move that not only provided her with the perfect shoes to walk down the aisle in but also led her to launch what is now an awardwinning shoe-making business. “After struggling to find the right pair of shoes I realised that many other women must go through the same thing and so decided I should try to offer them a solution,” she said. At first Mrs Hall sourced a company in Italy to manufacture handmade shoes, but she soon realised that what women really

wanted was a completely bespoke service, “Sourcing the shoes from Italy meant I was still restricted to the styles they manufactured, but I wanted to offer customers the chance to create a shoe customised specifically for them,” the 39-year-old said. Despite studying fashion design at university thus harbouring an artistic flair, Mrs Hall had no idea what skills she required to become a cobbler and so enrolled herself on a footwear design and construction course at London College of Fashion. While on the course she was given an award for innovation and in 2006, she set up Marsha Hall Handmade shoes in Leatherhead. Despite the recession, the demand for her high-end shoes soared. Soon women began asking how they could make their own shoes so five years ago she started

offering workshops to teach people the basics. Now working from a boutique and workshop in Church Road, Great Bookham, Mrs Hall has launched two more shoe making experience days – focusing on sandals and shoe decorating – and the business was also highly commended at the 2013 Footwear Industry Awards. “There were some real major players in the footwear industry at the awards, all the big names were there and I couldn’t quite believe it when I was highly commended,” Mrs Hall said. “It took a while for people to realise the shoes I was wearing on the night, I had made myself.” And it’s not just women she makes shoes for. A number of her customers are cross-dressing men, who find it difficult to find women’s shoes that fit in regular shops. “It’s not easy to find feminine

styles in larger sizes so yes I do have some cross-dressing men who come in,” she said. “I think the location of my shop helps as it’s not on the main drag where other shops are and so people know they can make an appointment to come in and it will be private.” Mrs Hall puts the success of her business down to sheer determination and passion and suggests that anyone who finds themselves in a similar predicament to what she did prior to her wedding 12 years ago, should take advantage of the situation. “I would say to anyone who comes across an idea, like I did, to just try it,” she advised. “If it doesn’t work then at least you gave it a shot, it’s better than regretting you didn’t do it years later.” For more information about Marsha Hall Handmade Shoes, visit www.marshahall.com.

Marsha Hall has a boutique and workshop in Great Bookham.

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June 2013

Investment watch

7

Keeping an eye on the markets

Market dips on stimulus reduction concerns By Philip Scott

Head of Advisory Stockbroking at Simple Investments Current Overview While one might suggest that ‘Sell in May’ this year may not strictly have looked too clever, the market (as measured by the FTSE 100 index) has nonetheless fallen over 300 points in the latter stages of the month from the highs near 6850. It still, however, ended May higher than in April. Volumes remain light and I suggest that investors are now jittery with (shortterm) mood swings taking hold. Anxiety levels have risen in particular as the US Fed (central bank) has suggested that a ‘tapering’ of quantitative easing may be on the cards. This has come on the back of an improving jobs picture and until recently, some relatively robust general economic data from the world’s largest economy. It is also clear that the monetary stimulus being provided across global markets is (at least in part) fuelling the ongoing strength in equities, as the suggestion of it being reduced, has caused volatility. To add to investor confusion, the American ISM index of companies has come in below 50 suggesting economic (manufacturing) contraction as

opposed to expansion. A similar index has pointed to the same in China which has come in at its lowest level for seven months. So, perhaps there will not be any near term stimulus reduction after all and it is worth also reminding ourselves that government spending cuts and tax rises are now starting to impact the US. Encouragingly, the pace of contraction in Europe would appear to be slowing with improvements now being seen in Spain, Italy and Greece. In addition, green shoots are also evident here in the UK. Mark Carney will shortly arrive (July 1) as the new governor of the Bank of England. It is widely anticipated that further sterling devaluation will feature, inflation expectations will rise and thus equities will likely remain the asset class of choice (or as some would say, the least worst option). It is therefore unlikely that his arrival in isolation will mean bad news for the stock market although we need to remember that UK listed companies are not in the main purely UK-focused businesses (improving the state of the UK economy in the context of a struggling Europe will be his challenge). In general, a more flexible approach to policy and targeting is expected to materialise.

Market Specifics It is difficult to ascertain whether the market may fall much further in the near term and a sector specific or stock specific approach to isolating opportunities is required. Last month I discussed what I felt to be the relative attractions of the mining sector and it is interesting to note that this group has fallen no further despite the wider market coming under pressure. Above 4% income yields and single digit PE ratios say much concern is already priced into these names and I would not be surprised to see defensively invested funds (utilities, pharmaceuticals) divested and re-invested in a sector such as this. I would suggest this type of adjusting may have commenced judging from some of the market prices in these companies. I have continued to add positions on behalf of clients into (for example) the Blackrock World Mining Investment Trust, currently trading at 490p. I have been researching Russia and believe medium/longer term there is potential upside. Whilst some talk of corruption and an overdependence on oil (energy), price earnings ratios are low relative to those of many other geographies. Demographically and democratically becoming more

attractive, one way of gaining an exposure might be to buy into the actively managed JP Morgan Russian Securities Investment Trust. There is no material gearing, at 519p it trades at a 10% discount to underlying assets and there is a decent sector spread of companies on the fund comprising energy, consumer staples, telecoms and financials. This is a capital growth investment (there is no income yield) but over 70% held by institutional investors, many are confident the future will bring improved returns. Tesco has come on to my investment radar further to an 8% slide in the price over the past fortnight to a current price of 355p. In the aftermath of their profit warning (January 2012), management has been hard at work to put the business back on track. Internationally and operationally diverse with non performing businesses being disposed of, I believe a PE of 10 and a 4.25% forward yield now rates attractive for potential total returns despite tough and highly competitive markets where consumers remain under considerable financial pressure.

This report was written by Philip Scott, Head of Advisory Stockbroking at Simple Investments on 3/6/13 when the FTSE 100 was trading at 6530.

Philip Scott of Simple Investments.

‘We’re at the beginning of the end of recession’

Financial services expert Keith Churchouse. (Ref: SA133583)

‘THE recession is over’, a Guildford business man has claimed in a new book he has written. Keith Churchouse, a financial planner and creator of Guildford firm Chapters Financial Limited launched his book The Recession is Over...Time to Grow, in May. Mr Churchouse suggested the UK economy is on the mend and explained how the purpose of the book is to encourage businesses to be ready for the transition. “The economy is moving forward,” he said. “Guildford as an area is doing reasonably well in the UK economy. I believe that there are mature small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that need to reflect on their development and growth going forward. “This book is looking to SMEs that have been trying to get through the very difficult period of recession. The key message is: what a business owner does now will make all the difference in 10 years. What we do now coming out of recession is the most vital time for a business to ensure we make the most of an increase in the economy. I think it is a vital time for SMEs, I think it is a positive time for SMEs.” Mr Churchouse said it was 'very easy to read in the press' that the economy was still in trouble, but insisted things were changing. He admitted some people might find the title of his book ‘insensitive’, but emphasised his firm belief that this was the beginning

of a new economic dawn. Mr Churchouse continued: “We have been bombarded with bad news for the last five years, but things are starting to move. It won’t happen overnight. “The recession is over, I think we will see a gradual process of a growing market. “By the time we realise we are totally out of recession it will already have happened. “I am anticipating what is already under way. We are at the beginning of the end of the recession and at the beginning of new growth. I think that is a positive thing for businesses, I think it is a really dynamic time.” To accompany his announcement that the nation is rising out of recession, Mr Churchouse also issued a warning to those who might not heed the change he has predicted. He underlined the importance for SMEs of updating their business models, which were currently set to recession mode, and reiterated how his book urges SME owners to sit down and look at their business to prepare for potential growth. “We need to focus now on making sure we all move forward together,” he added. “Those [businesses] that do not focus now will lose. Those that ignore the opportunity are likely to fail. “More businesses fail on the way out of recession than they do going into it.”


8

June 2013 Sponsor’s feature

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Students from the Guildford School of Acting put on a show at the networking dinner.

Helping Eikon to help young people As a long term Technology Partner of Surrey chambers, Arcom IT recently teamed up with Surrey Chambers of Commerce and selected local companies to sponsor a networking dinner in aid of the Eikon Charity, a Surrey-based charity working to help young people, including undertaking a lot of work in local schools, oneto-one mentoring and group work. Eikon has been working in the local community for almost two decades, providing long-term support to some of the county’s most

vulnerable young people and their families. The charity’s vision is to develop happy, thriving and resilient young adults who are able to contribute positively to society. The aims of the Eikon charity are to: n Inspire greater self-confidence, aspiration, and resilience – positively influencing achievement. n Equip young people to make positive, independent choices when faced with challenges. n Help young people to flourish and become active and

contributing citizens in their local community. n Dramatically reduce the need for subsequent intervention, and costly remedial action. The evening was a great success and raised more than £10,000 for the charity's funds. The Eikon website is http://www.eikon.org. uk and anyone interested in making a donation can do so by text. Text the code FUND20 followed by the amount you want to give (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5, £10) to the number 70070. Here is an example: Text “FUND20 £5” to 70070.


Business News Extra June 2013