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By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 09 Jun, 2017

It’s been a torrid night at the elections. We look at some early views and opinions from business support organisations.


Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, of the CBI said:


“This is a serious moment for the UK economy. The priority must be for politicians to get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy.

“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.

“For the next Government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.

“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.

“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.”  


The Forum of Private Business is calling more loudly than ever for the UK’s politicians to recognise that the economic strength of the UK is reliant on the country’s five million small businesses.

Chief Executive of the Forum, Ian Cass said: ‘The voice of small business has been completely ignored during the election campaign, with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both demonstrating that they have no real understanding of the critical role played by businesses to the importance to the UK, both in economic contribution and job creation,’

Facing a period of increased instability and uncertainty that a hung parliament will once again bring to the business community, Ian Cass is pushing for business to be put at the heart of government, with a Small Business Minister sitting at the Cabinet table and having teeth.

‘Businesses are tired of being paid lip service to. We have over five million business leaders in this country. Young and old, North and South, Remain and Leave, who have their feet firmly on the ground and need, once and for all, to be taken notice of, as the negotiations with Europe are progressed’

The Forum’s ‘Get Britain Trading’ campaign welcomes Members of Parliament into Forum member businesses so that they can truly understand what is needed to make the British high street great again.

‘With such a divisive split in the UK political scene, it is time for business to take control of the Country’s future,’ adds Ian Cass, ‘Not just big business with their sights purely on shareholder value, but small businesses who live and breath common sense survival in a changing world. In pushing for a proper, long term, Small Business Cabinet Minister, the Forum stands ready to support the government and its members in creating a strong and stable future UK. This will not come from politicians throwing verbal stones at each other and trotting out sound bites. It will come from a sensible and calm business approach,’ emphasises Ian Cass, a business owner in his own right.

‘The politicians have a choice. Listen and take note of the business voice, or continue sounding the ‘mayday’ siren,’ concludes Ian Cass.

 

Sophia Haywood, Policy Manager at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce: “These results place even more uncertainty on our local business community, who have already persevered through recent years of political and economic turbulence. Businesses are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit. It is vital there is a swift formation of a functioning government to build business confidence and our wider economic prospects ahead of the EU negotiations. Just as businesses come together in difficult times, so should our politicians.”

 

By Ian Mean, director for Gloucestershire, Business West

With a hung Parliament today - no overall majority for the Conservatives - business will be very concerned about more and more uncertainty and delays in the Brexit process.

When you think that Theresa May had committed us to start the initial Brexit talks in just over a week’s time, the political earthquake that has now erupted puts a big question mark over the whole Brexit negotiation.

Will the opening Brexit talks actually go ahead on Theresa May’s timetable?

Will she even be prime minister by the end of today? Or even in a few days? There are already calls this morning for her to resign.

Our Business West members have told us in our recent survey  how frustrated they are with the lack of information on the ongoing Brexit process.

They will be even more annoyed that our government’s standing will be at rock bottom with the EU now that Theresa May’s credibility has been shattered by the General Election result which she totally focussed on Brexit.

Calling a snap election with just eight weeks to give herself a stronger hand in the EU talks was a big gamble which the British people rejected.

Never underestimate the electorate is an old adage used by experienced politicians and today they have confounded expectations.

For many months now, companies I have talked to in Gloucestershire have been doing their best to ignore the “noise” generated by politics in order to focus on their own operations and ensure they retain good relationships with their export customers.

So, what will happen now?

More frustration for these businesses who now face the prospect of those initial Brexit talks being further delayed, because we might now have a Tory Party leadership election on our hands.

If Teresa May does resign, that delay in the talks could be as much as three months, and on top of that she will not be in charge of the Brexit process.

How can she retain any credibility with the EU, having had her wish for a stronger mandate for Brexit well and truly torpedoed?

For many companies in Gloucestershire where the strength of the pound is a big issue to make them more competitive, the lack of urgency created by a hung parliament could well affect their profitability for quite a period.

The key word here for companies is: confidence.

From day one when David Cameron committed us to an ‘in or out’ referendum, confidence has been the key issue for business.

In my experience in Gloucestershire, few companies have had any confidence in the government’s secretive Brexit process and during the Prime Minister’s election campaign, it became no clearer at all.

And at the heart of the government’s poor showing in the election was that the British public rejected the Prime Minister’s hard-line focus on getting the best deal for Britain.

She failed with a lacklustre election campaign where she almost hid from real voters - as opposed to party activists. This was the case particularly when she made a whistle stop tour to Cheltenham this week.

Most voters did not understand her Brexit argument in my view. They were more interested in domestic matters like the so-called ‘dementia tax’ and the NHS.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn ran an old-fashioned people-focused election campaign meeting everyone he could possibly meet.

Despite his obvious political shortcomings and a vicious right-wing press campaign against him, his anti-austerity ticket resonated with the public - particularly young people.

Business has been largely ignored in the election campaign.

That has to change and quickly.

Whoever now leads the country has to understand that the whole Brexit process will not be successful unless companies are regarded as important passengers on the journey - they must not  be left standing on the platform

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017

NIC Enterprises Limited  has acquired a majority ownership of Worcestershire based, Orchard Valley Foods Limited. Mike Forrester and Cherry Blumberg remain as shareholders, and also become board directors of NIC, with Cherry remaining as Managing Director of OVF in a “business as usual” arrangement.

NIC currently owns three other companies in the UK all involved in the supply of decorations, inclusions, wafers, cones and other consumables mostly to the ice cream industry via food service and retail.  There are a number of other NIC companies based in Europe including Candeco in Sweden which is a long-term business partner for Orchard Valley Foods.

NIC is part of Orkla Food Ingredients within the Orkla group, head quartered in Oslo, Norway.

Orchard Valley Foods said shareholders welcome the fact that synergies between the group companies in both the UK and internationally are likely to bring new opportunities to OVF at Tenbury and Leominster.  Some of these have already been identified and work is underway to transfer business to OVF.  Leominster is likely to become the distribution point for the group into the Midlands, North England and Wales.  OVF makes up half of the sales of the combined NIC UK businesses and bring experience to the group of working with food manufacturers.

www.orchard-valley.co.uk/nic-enterprises-take-over-of-orchard-valley-foods/

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 11 May, 2017
Following the success of a regional cyber trade mission to Maryland last year, a US business delegation of cyber security companies will return to the Midlands between 5-9 June 2017.
Maryland business delegates will be welcomed by companies and representatives from the Midlands Engine at InfoSec Europe 2017, Europe’s number one information security event. Malvern-based QinetiQ will host an industry day on 8 June where local cyber companies, universities and sector stakeholders can attend, participate and learn more about potential opportunities with US partners.

The US delegation from Maryland will also join Midlands companies in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalise the cyber sector’s long lasting business partnership with the USA.
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Marches LEP and Hereford Enterprise Zone are hosting the return mission from Baltimore, Maryland in partnership with the Department for International Trade and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. The delegation forms part of a programme of trade investment missions between the Midlands and US between 2016-18.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am looking forward to meeting with the Maryland cyber businesses again, with the opportunity to show them how fantastic Worcestershire and the Midlands is in terms of high quality cyber skills and internationally renowned businesses.

“We are working with partners to continue the successful trade programme, helping our local businesses to build future relationships with high-profile international companies and also helping to raise the profile of our strength in cyber security on an international scale.”
By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 13 Apr, 2017

Agritech is the use of technology in agriculture and horticulture with the aim of improving yield, efficiency and profitability. The £500,000 investment from Worcestershire LEP, through the Government’s Growth Deal, enables WCG to launch a ground-breaking initiative with an Agri-tech STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) centre based at Pershore College.

The project addresses current and pressing skills shortages in agriculture and horticulture that act as a barrier to innovation and growth for this important sector in Worcestershire. A new applications laboratory and live field-based experimentation and demonstration facility will enable the college, local horticultural businesses and students to work together on industry challenges involving the application of innovative technologies.

The dedicated agri-tech applications laboratory will house electronic, robotic and computer based technologies that will be used to educate and train students and employers on modern applications of agri-tech and provide a centre for simulation of application. The room will also serve as the ‘control hub’ for accessing information from the external applications across the various growing facilities at the college and remotely controlling operations. Technology will be deployed across the Pershore College growing areas to experiment, test and demonstrate innovation and automation across a wide variety of settings.

Alongside this, the project will enable the development of a suite of “Horticulture Technology and Innovation” courses and will embed technology focused learning into all Pershore College programmes to attract more new entrants to the industry and allow progression from school through to HE, employment routes and apprenticeships. This specialist suite of programmes will deliver training in higher level skills to provide technology experts for the agriculture and horticulture industries.

The new STEM-focused facility will also enable the college to develop and deliver a programme of support for schools to raise awareness of agriculture and horticulture as high-tech, highly-skilled industries, again encouraging more new entrants to the industry in the longer term.

Professor Roy Kennedy is leading the agri-tech programme at Pershore College. He said, “This investment from the LEP is vital to ensure we have the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities needed for our students to become the skilled workforce of the future. “Importantly, Pershore’s agri-tech centre will also be a resource for industry, where businesses can come and be trained in innovative technologies and work with students on projects to help develop solutions to the many challenges facing the agriculture and horticulture sector.

“Pershore College has a rich heritage and this investment means that we will continue to be at the forefront of land-based education and training in the region.”

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire LEP said, “Agri-tech is one of Worcestershire’s key sectors for economic growth and our investment into Pershore College will enable our future workforce and local businesses to benefit from the latest innovations. STEM skills are particularly important in supporting the long-term growth of the county’s thriving businesses and the College’s new cutting-edge facilities and equipment will help to provide our younger generations with skills that are relevant for the future.”

For more information about courses at Pershore College, call 0300 456 0049 or visit the Warwickshire College Group website .

www.wlep.co.uk

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Apr, 2017

Two 30-year old Kidderminster carpet maker Brintons is celebrating not only winning three awards at the 2nd Campaign for Wool International Carpet & Rug Awards, held at Chelsea Football Club, but also being included in the annual Sunday Times Profit BCO Profit Track 100 league table. Brintons came in at no 67 in the league table.

The company, which makes carpets in Portugal, Poland and India as well as in Kidderminster and Telford, reported annual profit growth of over 72%, to £9 million in 2016, employs 1796 people.

At the Carpet and Rug Awards Brintons won the Creative Marketing Initiative Award for its 2016 ‘Fleece to Floor’ marketing campaign and the Woven Carpet Installation of the Year Award for its custom-made designs for the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship. Brintons was appointed by SMC Design and worked closely with Cunard UK to provide nearly 20,000 m2 of luxury axminster carpers to the 150,000 tonne transatlantic liner. Brintons also won the Designer Collaboration of the Year for its partnership with Stacy Garcia.

Brintons is owned by US Private Equity company The Carlyle Group since 2011. Last year it was reported to have completed at £26.5 million recapitalisation supported by HSBC leveraged finance. The company reports another positive outlook for 2017.

Other companies across the Business & Innovation Magazine region included in the Sunday Times Profit BCO Profit Track 100 league table are: Worcester-based Gtech appliance manufacturer and housebuilder Lioncourt Homes at 11 and 16 respectively. Gloucester-based electrical contractor Clarkson Evans, at 32, Green Frog Power of Coleshill, Warwickshire at 34 and Cheltenham-based BladeRoom at 40.

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Apr, 2017

The housebuilding industry is stepping up to a whole new level throughout Worcestershire, with the Government unveiling new plans to build more homes.

At a housing breakfast meeting, local businesses had an exclusive sneak preview of the local housebuilding supply chain opportunities that are on the cards.

Lorna Jeynes, FindItInWorcestershire Project Manager at Worcestershire County Council, said: “With such large-scale changes on the cards, all eyes will be on the housebuilding market over the coming weeks and months.

“The housing breakfast meeting provided local businesses with an invaluable chance to get the latest updates and forge relationships and network with the key housing players in the county, as well as learn about the wealth of contract opportunities available to them.”

As well as spending time with the housing partners and hearing about the supply chain opportunities that will be available and what local associations and builders have got planned, attendees:

·        Were introduced to local housing and policy from David Warburton, Head of Public Land at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)

·        Heard from Mark Dainter, Executive Business Manager at Oakleaf Commercial Services (part of the Community Housing Group) , who’s keen to engage with the local supply chain

·        Received an update from major housebuilder, Kier Living , who’ve acquired a site for development in Rushwick, Worcester and are keen to engage with the local supply chain. (For more details about the development, check out this article ).

·        Listened to Carl Taylor, Director at Redditch Cooperative Housing , about how the local housing association supports the supply chain in Redditch.

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Apr, 2017

Deep Secure, based at Malvern, is getting ready to reveal its latest innovation in the fight against cyber threats at the Infosecurity show, London in June.

However, the cyber company was keen to brief Harriett Baldwin, Member of Parliament for West Worcestershire on a visit to the company’s HQ ahead of the event.

The Deep Secure team showed their MP the Anti-Steganography Gateway, part of the Content Threat Removal Platform, which is able to remove undetectable malware or viruses from innocent looking files and imagery, and in doing so prevents businesses from being infected from Zero Day and other unknown threats.

Dan Turner, Deep Secure Chief Executive Officer said “Mrs Baldwin visits us at a very exciting juncture for the business. Our team of technologists led by our Chief Technology Officer Dr Simon Wiseman has engineered a game changing solution. The Content Threat Removal Platform is what we describe as the 3rd era of cyber security. Current solutions are designed to isolate or detect threats – but those threats are already known and   out there.    Our solution removes all threats, including those that are unknown and therefore undetectable.”

Harriett Baldwin added: “Deep Secure has ambitious plans and the team is confident that this new product will launch them into a phase of hyper-growth. They are all very excited by the launch and I was keen to offer my support as they begin to unveil this solution to its UK and global customers.”

“Once again, I am impressed that the brilliant brains of Malvern are developing world-class innovations but also working hard to make them profitable selling to domestic and foreign customers.”

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Apr, 2017

Over 50 finalists have now been announced for the prestigious Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber Business Awards, sponsored by Sanlam, which take place on Thursday 15 June at the Worcester Arena.

Over 100 entries were received from local businesses competing for a top spot in one of 11 categories. Finalists will now face the second stage of judging before the winners are announced at a   spectacular Awards ceremony    on Thursday 15 June, for which tickets are now on sale.
 
The finalists are as follows:

Best Use of Technology – sponsored by Techteam

Green Gorilla Apps - Worcester
Simply Mobile Solutions - Worcester
Simpli WIFI – Kington

Education and Business Partnership – sponsored by Worcestershire Business Central

Malvern Business Academy - Malvern
Pershore High School - Pershore
The Development Manager - Bewdley

Employer of the Year – sponsored by University of Worcester  

Bishop Fleming – Worcester
Fish4dogs - Worcester
Focus Ecology - Worcester
International Glazing Services - Kidderminster
Malvern Instruments - Malvern
Vision Labs - Kidderminster


Excellence in Customer Service – sponsored by Handelsbanken  

BCRS Business Loans – Wolverhampton
Broad Street DIY- Bromsgrove
Kimal - Bromsgrove
Kingspan Insulation - Leominster
Print Strategy Europe - Droitwich
The Hive – Worcester 

Excellence in Innovation – sponsored by Central Technology Belt

GT Access - Bromsgrove
Hugo Technology - Bromsgrove
Olpro Ltd - Worcester
Thorne Widgery Accountancy – Hereford

Excellence in Professional Services – sponsored by EBC Group

Cherington HR Ltd - Worcester
Focus Ecology - Worcester
Haines Watts Hereford Ltd - Hereford
ISO Quality Services - Worcester
Thursfields Legal Limited – Worcester

Exporter of the Year – sponsored by Malvern Instruments

Egbert Taylor Group - Droitwich
Haygrove Tunnels - Ledbury
JMDA - Pershore
Loadmac - Ross-on-Wye
Orchard Valley Foods Limited - Tenbury Wells
Titania - Worcester
TP3 Global - Redditch

High Growth Business of the Year – sponsored by Hewett Recruitment

Allvalves Online Limited - Pershore
Bee Lighting Ltd - Redditch
Fish4dogs - Worcester
Scimitar Sports UK - Worcester
The Smart Actuator Company - Malvern
TP3 Global - Redditch

Manufacturer of the Year – sponsored by QinetiQ

International Glazing Service -Kidderminster
Kingspan Insulation - Leominster
Malvern Instruments - Malvern
The Smart Actuator Company Ltd - Malvern

Most Promising New Business – sponsored by MFG Legal Services Limited

Headturner Search - Worcester
Julu Ltd – Ross-on-Wye
Make More Noise - Malvern
Nana Lily's Christmas Pudding - Worcester
Simpli Wifi - Kington
Swan Brewery - Leominster
The Dispute Resolution Lawyer - Worcester

Small Business of the Year – sponsored by Orchard Valley Foods

Allvalves Online Ltd - Pershore
Apreco - Bromyard
Fish4dogs - Worcester
Hugo Technology - Bromsgrove
Print Strategy Europe - Droitwich
Titania - Worcester

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 12 Apr, 2017

Mazak, which runs an extensive apprenticeship programme from its European Headquarters in Worcester, exhibited at the 017 Get Up to Speed (GUTS) Engineering and Manufacturing event at the Magna Science Adventure Centre, Rotherham. The event showcases opportunities available to young people in the North of England keen on exploring a future career in the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

A team of engineers provided young visitors, as well as parents and teachers, with expert insight into the world of advanced CNC metal cutting. Mazak also showcased simulators from its revolutionary SMOOTH Technology control system – the world’s fastest CNC. Visitors to the event could operate the 19” touch screen control panel themselves, and experience the new Graphical User Interface which has helped machine operators dramatically reduce programming time and monitor all critical machining data from one single page view.

Mazak has a footprint in all of the UK’s key industrial sectors; ranging from food and beverage through to aerospace and oil & gas, providing machines to both the supply chain and direct to OEMs. Notably, Mazak machines are used extensively for the high-precision machining of racing car components, with a total of 33 machines installed at the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey.

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