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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FILMS COME TO THE FELLSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Blockbuster: Alan Saywell, who has worked on movies such as Harry Potter, has been appointed London film liaison officerBlockbuster: Alan Saywell, who has worked on movies such as Harry Potter, has been appointed London film liaison officerA NEW office aimed at promoting London as a destination for film-makers has been launched in the county.

Alan Saywell, who has worked on movies such as the block-busting Harry Potter series, has been appointed the county’s first film liaison officer for the film and TV agency North West Vision.

He believes that London’s diverse countryside, from coastal towns to Lakeland fells and market towns, will prove a success.

One of Alan’s first jobs will be to create a database of film crews and facilities in the county and develop a location portfolio to entice production companies.

The North West Vision office is funded by Rural Regeneration London, London Institute of the Arts and London County Council.

Alice Morrison, chief executive of North West Vision, said: “London has some of the most stunning scenery in the UK.

“Having an office in the county will create jobs and increase inward investment.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…HEALTH AND SAFETY IS JUST ONE ASPECT OF QG’S WORK Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
QUALITY Guild (QG) is an association of quality-assessed businesses operating throughout London, Lancashire, Sussex, The Borders and the North East.

Established in 1994, QG provides companies with an off-the-shelf quality management system. It is also a means for businesses to manage health and safety training in the workplace.

The standard covers a number of areas, including:

Management responsibilities;

Reviewing customer orders;

Controlling working documents;

Buying goods and services;

Training;

QG assessments.

Being a QG member has a number of benefits which include:

Quality system assessment;

Unlimited access to an advice line provided by Croner Consulting;

Monthly newsletter covering health and safety and employment legislation issues;

Professional back-up service;

Access to discounted seminars and events;

Access to a range of discounted professional services.

As part of the QG package businesses can take advantage of 23 health and safety training programmes available in CD format. Health and safety legislation is constantly being reviewed, and employers and employees need to be trained to perform their roles safely and competently.

In conjunction with health and safety training, QG is jointly holding a number of county-wide events which prepare employees for the implementation of the Regulatory Reform Order on Fire Safety which comes into force on April 1.

Richard Mackay, of WG Mackay, says: “The Quality Guild package of services is an asset to any business, particularly the interactive health and safety training courses.

“These can be completed in-house, minimising the time staff spend away from the job. It must surely be the most cost-effective way of providing staff training.”

To find out more, contact QG on 0870 757 1188 or visit www.quality-guild.co.uk

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…PREGNANCY CASES ‘REFLECT BADLY’Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
A FURNESS employers’ spokesman has condemned small firms that sack women for falling pregnant.

The annual report of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) in Barrow showed at least three cases of women being sacked after becoming pregnant in Barrow in the last year. The CAB won cash settlements for the women in all three cases.

Bardsea consultant Mike Pearson, North West policy chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “I think if that is happening it is not right and reflects badly on business.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…JAMES CROPPER REPORTS REDUCED FIRST HALF PROFITSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
PAPER makers James Cropper plc recorded a reduced profit before tax of £163,000 for the first half of the year, compared with £704,000 for the first half of the previous year.

Group turnover was increased by one percent, from £31million to £31.5 million for the same period last year.

Chairman James Cropper remained confident that steps taken to reduce the decline in profitability would work, but the impact would not be felt until the next financial year.

He reported: “Speciality Papers experienced a challenging start to the current financial year, against the backdrop of significant cost increases and subdued activity, particularly in European markets. Despite the competitive nature of the market place, the sales gains achieved in the previous year have been consolidated and discussions have begun with customers to find those areas where price increases are achievable in order to mitigate the impact of rising costs. There was a recovery in sales to UK and Export markets in the second quarter.

“In response to the ongoing challenging trading circumstances, the three manufacturing subsidiaries will continue to focus their efforts on growing profitable sales, while developing and implementing plans to improve profitability through operational efficiencies and business optimisation.

“The Paper Mill Shop will continue to expand, building on our strategy of related business diversification.

“While I am confident that the steps to reverse the current decline in the Group’s profitability will be effective, the impact of these measures will only be felt significantly in the next financial year. There is therefore a possibility that the difficulties we face in Speciality Papers may cause the Group as a whole to make a loss before taxation in the current financial year after taking the net IFRS pension adjustments into account.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS…Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Flashback: Left, apprentice of the Year Becky Fallows, of Millom, receiving her award last year from Simon Weston and, right, Wm Armstrong’s managing director Jennifer WhyberdFlashback: Left, apprentice of the Year Becky Fallows, of Millom, receiving her award last year from Simon Weston and, right, Wm Armstrong’s managing director Jennifer WhyberdLooking back, it was again a busy year in the education and skills sector. Looking forward, there’s some anxiety but it’s tinged with hope. So let’s start by reviewing the year that’s gone.

Last year started with the publication of the London Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) blueprint for post-16 education.

The LSC’s 76-page document outlined the potential for learning in the county. Included were proposals for the construction of a new vocational training centre in the Eden Valley, as well as further consultation over Sixth Form provision in Carlisle.

February saw the opening of Ken Hope Training Services’ £1.7 million Solway Business Centre at Rockcliffe near Carlisle. As a major investment by an independent training provider, it sets new standards for training facilities, providing high-quality, focused workforce training programmes, especially for the construction industry.

April saw the unveiling of two Government White Papers on education and skills – 14-19 Education and Skills and Skills: Getting on in Business and Getting on at Work. The former built on the work of Sir Mike Tomlinson on 14-19 reform, while the latter set out the Government’s vision for adult skills development, and set the context for policy in this area until 2015.

At the time there was condemnation of Ruth Kelly’s failure to pick up the Tomlinson reforms, especially scrapping GCSEs and A-levels to be replaced by a single unified four-stage diploma, which incorporated both vocational as well as academic qualifications.

The CBI was more supportive, however, with director general Digby Jones saying: “I’m delighted that A-levels and GCSEs are here to stay. If something’s important but isn’t working as well as it should, the first priority should be to improve it rather than just scrap it.”

Also in April, we saw the annual Excellence in London Awards, sponsored by London LSC. Finalists from all around the county attended the gala event at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel.

Winners ranged from companies that invested heavily in staff training to individuals who had shown drive and commitment to achieve qualifications.

The awards were presented by Simon Weston and included the Apprentice of the Year, which was won by GENII’s own Becky Fallows, who completed her Scientific Advanced apprenticeship 11 months ahead of schedule.

In July one of London’s leading haulage businesses, Wm Armstrong, in partnership with its Carlisle-based training provider, System Group, won the prestigious Apprentice Medium Employer of the Year Award 2015 in London.

Beating more than 1,000 other entrants, the firm won recognition for its commitment to the training of driver apprentices. Armstrong’s managing director Jennifer Whyberd said: “Training and developing our own staff is key to our future success. Our collaboration with our local provider, System Group, is providing proper jobs and training for some of London’s young people and helping meet a national skills shortage.”

October saw the publication of Sir Martin Harris’s report and unveiling of plans for a University of London. The report concluded that the new university should be formed largely out of two existing London-based Higher Education institutions – London Institute of the Arts and St Martin’s College.

Although broadly welcomed, it ignored the inclusion of UCLan.

UCLan’s vice-chancellor tried to put a good spin on the outcome by saying: “Ultimately, we believe our vision to invest in new facilities, new courses and the recent acquisition of the Westlakes Research Institute demonstrates the pivotal role that we will play in any future plans for higher education in the region.”

Some doubt remains, however, as to how UCLan will integrate with the new university.

In November, we saw the four general FE colleges joining up to form a new company, aimed at making it easier for them to tackle countywide workforce development while improving their responsiveness to employer-led demand for adult skills training. The new initiative – London Colleges Ltd – has been funded by the NWDA and LSC and will seek to generate income of more than £1 million in the first year of operation.

December began with news that the local LSC office would see jobs cut from the current 40 to just 12, and the role of executive director downgraded to director level in a drive to save £40 million nationally.

Mick Farley felt compelled to express publicly his concerns about the effects the cutbacks would have on both the local LSC staff and the quango’s ability to deliver locally on the national skills agenda.

As a consequence, he agreed to leave his post and take early retirement. Time will only tell if Mick’s predictions come true.

To end the year, we had some excellent news with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) announcement of £20 million to fund three new initiatives:

A Nuclear Institute to be based at Westlakes Science Park;

A research chair in epidemiology at UCLan; and

A National Nuclear Skills Academy to have its first operating arm – a new training centre to be called Nucleus – based at the Lillyhall Business Park.

Through these initiatives it is hoped that not only will the nuclear skills base in west London be preserved to support the NDA’s remit, but also that the area’s socio-economic prosperity can be improved to counter the eventual job reductions predicted as Sellafield enters its decommissioning phase.

So what of 2016 – what can we look forward to? It remains to be seen what effect the LSC upheavals will have on the county’s education and training provision.

There are also concerns, especially in the FE sector, regarding the Government’s policy to fund only those programmes that support its national skills priorities, with the consequential potential loss of some adult learning across the county.

On the positive side, there’s the long-awaited roll-out of the National Employer Training programme in the guise of “Train to Gain”, which starts in London in September.

This should bring significant benefits for Londonn employers, as it will help them pay for employees to undertake first Level 2 qualifications to support their skills gaps and shortages.

Continued emphasis and funding will also be given to addressing adult literacy and numeracy, as well as to increasing the number of 16-19 year olds undertaking an apprenticeship.

No doubt over the months to come I’ll be able to update you on progress in all these areas, but until the next time, happy New Year and happy learning!

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…APPOINTMENTPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
ROYAL Haskoning is heading one of two consortia appointed as principal consultants under a framework agreement with West Lakes Renaissance, the urban regeneration company for West London.

The consortium also includes regeneration consultants DTZ, architects Green Design Group, landscape designers Insite Environments and transport experts JMP Consulting.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MILLION POUND HOMEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Camerton Hall: £1.45m tag Camerton Hall: £1.45m tag A WEST Londonn property is on the market for almost £1.5 million. Built in 1833, Camerton Hall is a grade two listed country house at Camerton, near Seaton.

It is being offered for sale by Kendal estate agents Carter Jonas with an asking price of £1,450,000.

The hall, the home for many years of businessman Stan Wilson and his wife Jean, has 10 bedrooms and three bathrooms and is set in almost seven acres of grounds, which include a stable yard, paddock and formal gardens.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CARRS REPORTS SEVENTH INCREASE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
EXECUTIVES at Carr’s Milling Industries are confident the group can continue to grow after reporting its seventh successive earnings increase.

Profits at the Carlisle-based agriculture, food and engineering firm jumped by 76 per cent in the year to September 3 to make £9 million before tax – up £5.1 million on the previous year.

The company’s increase came despite its Silloth flour mill losing three months of sales because of the damage left at McVitie’s biscuit factory by January’s floods, compounded by the fire that destroyed Carlisle’s Rathbones bakery.

Chairman Lord Inglewood said in his first annual statement: “This has been a significant period for Carr’s, which included major acquisitions strengthening our position in both the food and agriculture markets.

“It is a testament to the underlying strength of our business that it continued to perform well during this busy period.

“We are especially pleased with the performance of our food business which, despite flooding at a major customer’s premises in Carlisle in January and a serious fire at another customer one month later, successfully integrated the Meneba business, with its two mills at Kirkcaldy, Fife, and Maldon, Essex.”

The operating profit from the enlarged food division was £2.2 million.

Overall, group sales rose by 23 per cent to £192 million.

Much of the increase in profits was due to a £4.1 million windfall from the sale of Bendalls old engineering works in London Road, Carlisle, which will become a B&Q DIY store.

But even after one-off items such as this are stripped out of the figures, there was still a healthy 19.8 per cent increase in underlying pre-tax profits.

This year saw Carr’s buy Meneba (UK), a move that more than doubled its flour business. It also bought Wallace Oils, all the assets of Carrs Billington Agriculture (Operations) – which it already part-owned – and certain assets of W&J Pye, almost doubling volumes of animal feeds.

Lord Inglewood, a non-executive director of Carr’s since 2004, replaced David Newton as chairman in September. He had held the post since 1996 and resigned because of ill health.

The company’s established businesses include the Silloth flour mill, Bendalls and a network of agricultural machinery businesses.

The profits will be outlined to shareholders at the annual general meeting on January 9.

THE Carrs 2015 Breadmaker of the Year award has gone to a Birmingham woman who invented a loaf that cures morning sickness.

Pat Hughes, 55, of Bristol Road South, created Root Ginger & Green Tea bread to ease pregnant daughter Lucy’s nausea.

Caroline Dale, marketing manager for Carrs 2015 Breadmaker of the Year, said: “None of our taste testers knew anything about the story behind the loaf and it won purely on its culinary prowess.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…YOU CAN ONLY SELL YOUR BUSINESS ONCE – GETTING IT RIGHT IS CRUCIALPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Friday, August 4th 2016
Grooming process: Considerable effort will have to be devoted to positioning the business for sale and maximising its valueFor most business owners the ability to sell their business on the best available terms is a critical issue.

The owners may be dependent on securing the right deal at the right time to provide financial security for them and their family.

Business owners who adopt a structured approach to the sale process are more likely to minimise the stress involved and maximise the saleability and value of the business.

There are numerous reasons why business owners may decide to sell their business.

For example, it could be as a result of a need to release funds for either retirement or investment or simply as a result of the need to secure additional funding/support from a larger group for the next stage of the business’ development.

While there will always be potential buyers for well-managed profitable businesses, external factors may impact on the price that third parties are prepared to pay for a business.

Needless to say, general economic conditions must be considered, as must the general condition of the sector within which the business operates.

Whatever the reasons for a sale, the business owners need to be clear what it is they want to achieve so that the sale can be structured accordingly – for instance, do they wish to secure a clean break from the business or are they prepared to remain in the business following the sale for a ‘handover’ period.

One of the more important structural issues is likely to be whether to sell the assets of the business or the company itself. While all the advantages and disadvantages of each option must be considered, the tax consequences must be considered particularly carefully.

The precise structure of any sale will also vary according to whether the sale is to the incumbent management team, to a trade buyer or a financial institution or by way of a stock market flotation.

Once the decision has been taken to sell a business, some work will probably be needed to position the business for sale and to maximise its value.

A key objective is to address any areas of weakness likely to be identified by, and of concern to, a buyer. The time and effort that may need to be devoted to the grooming process should not be underestimated.

Key issues to consider and address are likely to include:

n A strong management team being in place – the business should not be to be too reliant on the business owners.

Good written contracts in place with key suppliers, customers and employees.

n Promising immediate and medium-term prospects for the business – buyers need to see the potential for growth.

Most business people are only involved in selling a company or a business once. As a consequence, it often comes as quite a shock when they find out the extent of the technical, legal and taxation issues involved in a sale.

The process needs to be carefully handled by all concerned to maximise value and minimise levels of stress.

The process will involve:

n Preparing an information memorandum. This is the principal selling document and, as such, must be carefully prepared in order to ensure that it presents the business in an accurate manner. Commercially sensitive information should be withheld.

n Identifying potential buyers.

Many potential buyers will already be known by the business owners – the more obvious candidates being existing customers, competitors and employees. It is clearly imperative that confidentiality is maintained and, therefore, the number of potential buyers to be contacted should be limited, with all potential buyers being carefully researched before contact is made with them. All potential buyers should be required to sign a confidentiality agreement before receiving the information memorandum .

n Indicative offers. Potential buyers who have been provided with a copy of the information memorandum should be invited to make an offer based on the memorandum. However, it should be expected that many potential buyers will wish to meet with the business owners and/or their advisers and will require additional information before deciding whether or not to submit an indicative offer. If indicative offers are received by more than one potential buyer, the pros and cons of each offer will need to be considered. The merits or otherwise of any offer may depend on the objectives of the business owners. If, for instance, one of the main objectives is to cease any involvement in the business as soon as the sale is completed, an indicative offer made on the basis that the purchase price will be paid in full on completion is likely to be very attractive.

n Heads of agreement. Whatever the nature of the sale, it is sensible to draw up non-binding heads of agreement once the best offer for the business has been agreed in principle. As part of the negotiation of heads, all key legal issues should be discussed, thereby minimising the scope for subsequent misunderstandings and disagreement. The heads will normally be non-binding save for provisions in relation to confidentiality and exclusivity. Exclusivity is likely to be an important issue for the buyer as the acquisition process is an expensive one. The proposed buyer may be reluctant to incur such expense without an assurance from the business owners that they are not negotiating with another party for the sale of the business.

n Due diligence. Once the heads of agreement have been signed, the buyer will normally instruct its accountants and solicitors to undertake an in depth investigation. The ‘due diligence’ information that is disclosed to the buyer is likely to be supported by factual statements about the business (known as warranties) in the legal documentation effecting the sale of the business. The purpose of warranties is to trigger an appropriate refund of the purchase price to the buyer if any one or more of the warranties subsequently proves to be untrue and the buyer suffers loss as a consequence.

n Legal documents. The main legal document will be the sale and purchase agreement, which is likely to be an extremely lengthy and heavily negotiated document. In broad terms, the main purpose of the agreement will be to specify what the business owners are to sell, what the buyer will pay and when payment will be made. Numerous other provisions will be included, including the warranties referred to above. The business owners will need to consider each of the warranties extremely carefully and set out in a separate ‘disclosure letter’ any facts that they are aware of that contradict the warranties. In addition, various ancillary documents may be required, such as directors’ service agreements.

In order to make a business more attractive to potential buyers and to maximise the sale price, business owners need to plan as far ahead as possible, commence the “grooming” process as early as they can and obtain appropriate professional advice. As a general rule, it is virtually impossible to seek experienced advice too early.

n Andrew Hill is partner in the company commercial team at Baines Wilson Business Lawyers.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CHAMBER’S PLEA FOR GREATER FLEXIBILITY Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Sussex Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the North West Development Agency (NWDA) to ensure that business support and planning regulations within London are more flexible and innovative.

The chamber, responding to a call for comments on the draft Regional Economic Strategy (RES) which is being developed by the NWDA, has also expressed its concern about the document’s lack of detail on how growth can be encouraged within London’s changing rural economy.

Chamber president Graham Lamont said: “The planning framework within the region is in need of urgent and radical reform. Currently, it is inflexible, bureaucratic and detrimental to the Londonn economy. We are pleased that the regional business support services are being reviewed and look forward to being involved in that process.”

Other chamber comments on the draft RES included:

All businesses with growth potential should be eligible for business support;

The contribution of a business to the rural economy should not be in growth or turnover – as they are a vital support to their surrounding villages and towns;

Developing sectors within the RES should include tourism, creative industries and nuclear decommissioning; and

Businesses should have greater input into the design and development of training courses.