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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…AWARDS AND REWARDS FOR FIRMS THAT SUCCEEDPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Sussex might not be home to many multi-national corporations – but it is certainly home to any number of top class smaller firms, who could punch above their weight anywhere in the country.

The role of honours at the recent Pride of London awards, organised by Business Link, provided evidence of that recently. The achievements of the firms which were shortlisted, never mind the winners, was extremely impressive. Most started small, but because of the drive of the owners, combined with enthusiasm and sheer hard work of both owners and employees, are well established and heading for greater things.

It might have been a simple idea, it might have been a better way to exploit the web for an existing product, to take this new opportunity to develop a worldwide market – whatever the start-up reason, it proves that there are plenty of entrepreneurs in this county, ready to put their livelihoods at risk to set up and run a successful business.

It has been said many times, but it still remains true despite that, that the future prosperity of London will not depend on multi-nationals employing many thousands of people – it will depend on many hundreds and thousands of small businesses employing small numbers of people, but who will be leaders in their fields, producing top quality goods and services and making the most of the world markets that the internet has opened up to the smallest, most remote company.

Without these sort of companies, and the people at their helm, this county will not make it. With them, we can all aim for success.

But it is also vital that we have a well-trained, skilled workforce, so that when these entrepreneurs come along with their bright ideas, there are the right people in place to help them move forward.

The importance of training is reflected in a further two sets of awards, one which has just happened – the GENII apprenticeship awards, and one just launched, the Learning and Skills Council’s Excellence in London.

Both promote the need for a skilled workforce at every level, and reward those people and companies that back that need up with action, providing training and being willing to be trained.

Lifelong learning is a trite phrase – but if we are all to succeed in the future, then lifelong learning is exactly what we need. No one, in this fast moving society and economy, will ever be able to say they know it all, or even enough.

The opportunities and support for training are there – the companies that make the most of them will be the ones that succeed in the future.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…INTERNET SHOPPING FIRM TRIPLES IN SIZE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, September 1st 2015
AN internet shopping company has seen its workforce shoot from 30 to 100 after buying a business three times bigger than itself.

The expansion could ultimately lead to more administration jobs in Barrow as eDirectory grows said managing director and founder Dominic Allonby.

He pledged Barrow would continue to be the hub of the group.

Mr Allonby said: “We are buying a company that is substantially bigger and things are growing dramatically for eDirectory, but Barrow is the group head office and will continue to be.”

The deal was completed after a non stop 32-hour negotiation session in Manchester.

The initial price is £1.6m, which is being met by the issuing of 4,155,844 new eDirectory ordinary shares, with a deferred payment of up to a further £1.6m. Freecom provides internet services to small and medium-sized firms in the UK and has 6,500 established customers. Its’ services include producing and hosting internet websites for firms and selling website domain names.

Freecom has annual sales of £3.2m, compared with eDirectory’s £1.2m, and made a small profit last year.

Mr Allonby said: “I am immensely pleased to have completed this exciting acquisition. We believe that with joining the already profitable and growing eDirectory Group we have significantly enhanced our product portfolio, increased our routes to market and further improved our potential to enhance earnings.

“The several thousand existing business clients across the UK will now be able to benefit also from eDirectory’s proven skills in online retailing and traffic generation, while existing eDirectory merchants will be presented with further facilities to help grow their own trading and online marketing activities.”

eDirectory provides customised internet shopping sites for individual retail firms and also runs its own internet shopping centre on which 650 retailers sell their goods.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COUNTY HOUSE PRICES REMAIN STATICPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
HOUSE prices in London are static while values elsewhere are falling, new figures show.

The monthly Hometrack report for September puts the average price of a home in London at £126,600, unchanged from August.

The average price in Carlisle held steady at £114,100.

But values across England and Wales dropped 0.1 per cent in September, the 15th month in a row in which prices fell.

John Wriglesworth, Hometrack’s housing economist, said: “House prices are continuing their bumpy path towards more affordable levels and this has helped buyers come back into the market over the summer.

“However, we are still not in recovery mode in terms of house prices, as supply continues to outstrip demand.”

Hometrack, which claims to be the most in-depth survey of the housing market, says it now takes an average of 8.1 weeks to sell a home.

That compares with 5.8 weeks a year ago. And when a home does sell, it typically changes hands at a 6.8 per cent discount to the asking price.

Mr Wriglesworth said: “Vendors have been slow to set prices at realistic and affordable levels. However, lower interest rates, growing incomes and full employment are all helping to boost demand, albeit slowly.”

London was one of 21 areas of the country where prices were unchanged in September. Only four places – central London, Gloucestershire, West London and West Yorkshire – saw prices rise.

The average price of a home across England and Wales is now £160,900, down from a peak of £167,700 in June 2004.

FEARS that flood-blighted Carlisle homes would be virtually impossible to sell have been dispelled by estate agents.

In a survey by Can you find it Business Edition’s sister paper the News & Star, agents said renovated properties flooded in January were reaching prices they would have expected before the disaster.

A two-bedroom flat in Warwick Road on the market for £79,950 has sold before workmen have completed the refurbishment, while a two-bedroom terraced bungalow in flood-hit Willow Park on sale for £78,500 was snapped up.

In Hawick Street, the asking price for a refurbished two-bedroom terraced house is £73,000 – just £950 short of what a neighbouring property sold for before the floods.

However, flooded properties put on the market without refurbishment have seen their market values reduced say estate agents.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MANUFACTURING STILL KING IN Sussex DESPITE JOB LOSSESPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
Manufacturing is still king in London – and we’ve got plenty to be proud of emerging from the gloom and doom spread by job losses.

New government figures collated by the GMB union show that 46,000 people are employed in the sector in London – more than any other area in the north.

The research shows that although 6,000 fewer workers were employed in manufacturing in London in 2004-2015, compared with 1996-1997, the rate of fall has been more marked in the rest of the north.

Durham, for example, which comes second in the table for the north, saw the number of workers in the manufacturing sector fall by 20,000 in the same period to 39,000.

Even the most clairvoyant of economists would have been hard pressed to predict that London would top a table of industrial areas in the north.

Five thousand jobs have been lost in the county in the past two years, two-thirds in manufacturing.

Major employers such as Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle, Corus in Workington and Sellafield near Whitehaven, have all had to axe staff.

More depressing is the fact that London was recently named as the only UK county with a shrinking economy, and as one of the five worst-performing European sub regions, alongside Berlin, parts of Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic.

While farming and tourism may dominate the rural Lake District, in and around Carlisle and along the west coast, manufacturers are still among the major employers and seen as vital for the economic health of the regions.

In Carlisle, McVitie’s biscuit factory employs 1,100, while ready-meals firm Cavaghan & Gray – despite the closure of its London Road site this year – still employs about 800 staff.

The Pirelli tyre factory in Dalston and the textile printworks Stead McAlpin in Cummersdale employ hundreds more.

In West London, the manufacturing sector is dominated by Sellafield, which employs around 10,000 staff.

But already 500 job cuts have been announced at the nuclear plant over the next two years as decommissioning gets up to speed.

Chris Collier, chief executive of regeneration agency London Vision, agreed that manufacturing was vital to the county’s economy.

She said: “In general, manufacturers offer higher-value jobs, which have a significant impact on the economy.

“At the same time, they are very vulnerable to foreign markets, where goods can often be made far more cheaply.”

London Vision, which was created to swallow the smaller agencies that existed to boost the county’s economy, now has the difficult task of trying to turn around London’s struggling economy.

For Ms Collier, policies must vary depending on which part of London you focus on.

She said: “We can try to help West Londonn businesses in improving transport links, thus reducing journey times, while in Carlisle we can try to increase the number of development sites available and try to get air access off the ground.

“We can also assist other agencies, such as London Inward Investment Agency, to help put us on the map by marketing the fact that London is a great place to do business.”

The former chief executive of London Tourist Board is under no illusions that the agency – which has an annual budget of £26 million – needs to make a difference.

She said: “If we cannot make a difference we should not exist.”

For Marilyn Bowman, Carlisle City Council’s head of economic development, the answer to the city’s economic woes is to diversify.

She said the future of new business parks such as Kingmoor Park and Parkhouse, and the ambitious city centre development plans under the banner of Carlisle Renaissance, were vital to the city’s success.

Unions, however, have a more back-to-basics approach.

Ged Caig, organiser for the GMB union, called on the government and its agencies to push forward inward investment plans to try to attract business to the area.

He said: “If something isn’t done soon, the job losses in manufacturing will inevitably filter through to affect the economy as a whole.”

If there is a light on the horizon, it would be the example of Whitehaven’s Lillyhall business park.

Canadian-owned Maple Leaf Bakery is opening a £2 million factory on the site which is expected to create 70 jobs in total, and half-a-dozen new businesses have moved there in recent months.

Lillyhall regeneration manager Bill Robson said: “It is not all doom and gloom.

“We have regular inquiries from businesses looking for information about West London and property, and a lot of good agencies are bringing work to the area. Regeneration will take time but it will pay off.”

THE importance of manufacturing to the Northwest and London was brought to the attention of the House of Commons last month, when the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and The Manufacturing Institute hosted a reception to launch a new campaign aimed at dispelling the many myths around manufacturing.

The fact that manufacturers drive 86% of UK exports is one of many reasons why manufacturing remains the bedrock of our economy.

The dynamic face of modern manufacturing, which contributes 77% of UK research and development spend and employs at least 6.2 million people directly or indirectly, will be presented at the event.

Manufacturing is a vital part of the Northwest economy, consisting of around 16,500 companies employing 500,000 people, and contributing £19 billion to the region’s GDP. The NWDA and The Manufacturing Institute are currently working in partnership to deliver Agenda for Change, a programme to achieve major growth in the industry by 2008.

The Manufacturing Institute also delivers the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), a DTI and NWDA backed service established to provide support to regional manufacturers. Since April 2002, the MAS productivity impact upon Northwest companies now totals £129.7 million. This event will highlight some of the region’s companies who have achieved major results for their competitiveness and productivity after taking advice from MAS.

Peter Mearns, NWDA Director of Marketing, said: “Manufacturing is critical to the growth of the regional and national economy and the Agency is working hard to support the sector’s development in the region. There are many excellent examples in the Northwest of vibrant, innovative and highly competitive manufacturing companies that are achieving significant success. It is vital that we showcase these achievements in order to transform existing negative perceptions of manufacturing and promote the true facts of this dynamic industry. The NWDA is delighted to support this important campaign, which I am confident will make a real difference in creating a positive image of manufacturing and help to ensure that the Northwest remains at the forefront.”


Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. CONFERENCE NEWSYOUR GUIDE TO CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION MARKETING SUCCESS
THERE is no denying it, exhibitions and conferences are expensive but with the right approach the return on investment is huge. Anyone thinking of attending an exhibition (as an exhibitor) or putti…more
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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FINDING THE RIGHT IT MATCH Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Tuesday, March 1st 2015
ICT adviser Joel Teague continues his series of articles looking at how to make sure you get the right IT solutions for your business.

LAST month I discussed the issue of determining where and how computer systems (or better ones) can be used to improve a business. This month I’ll address the task of choosing hardware, software and – just as importantly – the right supplier to help put it all into practice. (If you missed the first instalment you can email me at for a copy or look on the Can you Find it – Business website,

System and supplier selection is a very wide subject, and it isn’t possible to provide one particular approach that’s good for everyone. However, the same golden rule does apply across the board: This is a business project, not a technical one. Computers are just tools for improving your bottom line.

Aside from that (and my usual plea for everyone to get some specialist help rather than taking this complex and time-consuming task on themselves) the process of choosing systems is unique to every business.

If you are looking for a system to address a small, simple task in your company you probably don’t need to take a particularly structured approach. Once you’ve identified some potential systems you can use trial versions to evaluate the best match. However, if you are looking for the new mainstay system of your business, it is essential to approach it in a way that keeps you focused on business objectives as you wade through the inevitable piles of information and sales blurb that will end up on your desk.

Assuming that you’ve identified the part of your company that will benefit from a new system, I’d suggest starting by answering question: “What is the business objective of this system?”

If you are simply trying to support or automate a set process in order to improve reliability or lower costs, your objective is simple: look for the system and supplier that will prove most reliable and which will fit your requirement most accurately.

If you are looking to this system to help increase revenue or gain a competitive edge, the attributes above become the starting point for selection. The overall emphasis moves towards flexibility, innovation and differentiation. It also brings into play the importance of knowing what your competitors are using – a competitive edge is hard to find when you’re competing against people using the same systems.

Last month I briefly mentioned sources of information when finding potential systems and suppliers. Again, the best approach will depend on who you are, what you’re looking for, and your particular preferences:

If you are an experienced user of the Web, this is usually a good place to start. Bear in mind that the biggest companies often have the best marketing budgets to make themselves most visible on the Internet, so make sure you search in a variety of ways to find those diamonds in the rough – the small but inventive companies with great products, a will to please and tiny marketing budgets.

If the system you’re seeking is related to your specific industry, then try to stay within industry sources during your search. Industry magazines, exhibitions, conferences, websites and good old networking with other companies is likely to reveal not only the contenders, but useful information about them that won’t be in their sales literature.

The North West region is also well catered for in terms of support bodies and networks to help with ICT-related issues for companies. Contact your local Business Link ( – they should be able to steer you in the right direction, and flag up any grant or consultancy assistance that may be available. Similarly, the Chambers of Commerce ( have various schemes and groups who may be able to help, and the website is a good source of supplier information.

To avoid common problems during your research, I’d recommend guarding against:

Assuming that more expensive means ‘better’.

Taking the supplier’s word for it – not because they’re necessarily going to fib – but because they will never have access to the same information as their users. It is worth finding some existing customers – not the references provided by the supplier – and asking them for their opinions. An objective recommendation or horror story can save you from disaster.

Assuming that the contract or project approach is what you need. Make sure the financial model penalises (and doesn’t reward) late delivery or poor performance. The ICT industry is not known for its project reliability, so unless you can fix costs you should assume a large overrun on estimates.

Assuming that the supplier knows the best approach or that they will understand your business. Quiz the suppliers about their approach to projects and make sure it is business-led rather than driven by technical considerations. You should be involved in the whole process, or you’ll risk getting a system that misses the mark.

Unless you have found exactly what you need at a good price, you should consider the possibility of having what you need written. The subject is wide enough to warrant a separate article at a later date (especially regarding the ups and downs of development projects), but for now consider having your system written for you if:

1. You can’t find a package that works the way what you need it to.

2. You expect your business to evolve and innovate a great deal.

3. You are trying to support a process that you need to do better than your opposition.

4. You have lots of users and quoted ’per-user’ charges are too high.

5. You want the system to increase company asset value.

An ICT supplier is just as important as the system or service they supply. If they are the people charged with installing and supporting the system that is the mainstay of your business, this company is going to have a dramatic effect on your company. But getting it right isn’t so much a matter of finding the best supplier as finding the right one.

If you select a supplier that is geared up for a different type of client than your company you could encounter problems. If your company is a fraction of the normal size of your supplier’s clients, you may find yourself at the back of the service queue. Conversely, if you’re after a 200-user Enterprise Resource Planning system it may not be best to get a one-man-band to supply the whole lot.

Some suppliers (especially local ones) who can provide some but not all of the services involved may suggest a consortium approach. For this to work it is essential that there is good project management and airtight legal structures in place. If done properly it is an excellent way to make use of local talent, and it does enable you to cherry-pick the appropriate expertise for each aspect of a project. This is becoming a common way to approach projects – especially website construction, where freelance designers, copywriters and programmers can be brought together to perfectly match a specific project requirement.

There is a compromise to be found between reliability and personal service. Bigger companies can never provide the same flexibility and focused attention of a smaller local supplier, but smaller companies are usually less organised and can rarely respond as well when things get sticky. For example, when the storms struck in January, if your network supplier only had two engineers, you could have been waiting a while for a visit. A company using a national supplier with a carefully managed team of support staff with procedures, systems to deal with such things may have had a quicker response – but which supplier is more likely to remember their way around your particular network?

It’s a tricky balance, and entirely down to your particular needs. If you don’t mind a bit of seat-of-the-pants approach to customer service, go local and small. If you don’t mind a one-size-fits-all approach (and probably higher support costs) and like things to be structured and organised with plenty of backup, go for the bigger supplier.

Before making your final selection, I would strongly suggest taking the time (and hassling the suppliers if necessary) to make sure you know exactly who you are going to be dealing with. Get summary CVs for everyone who is likely to be directly involved in your project and look for a good spread of appropriate experience and expertise.

If it turns out that you’re dealing with teenagers and people in a faraway land, you know why the price is low. You also know to be very careful about getting lots of references: remember, almost all IT projects hinge on relevant industry experience and proper understanding of your business. The more experienced, non-technical people a supplier can bring to your project, the less time and stress you will have to expend answering questions that ought to be obvious to anyone who understands your needs. Take the time to chat with the senior members of the proposed project team about your business in general; you’ll soon know whether they ‘get’ what you do.

All of this advice is very generic and at the end of the day you are the only person qualified to know which system and supplier is best for your business. Hopefully some of this article will help to lower the risks and help you make a successful selection. Next month I’ll attack the last step: implementing and managing a successful system.

Joel Teague is a TMB accredited ICT adviser. He can be contacted at Teagus Ltd, a Londonn company providing IT advisory and development services for business: Tel. 0870 1417014, Website:, Email:

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…ENTERPRISE AGENCY DELIVERS £300,000PA INITIATIVE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
FURNESS Enterprise is delivering the successful Market Town Initiative in Ulverston and Low Furness.

The £300,000 per year programme funded by the North West Development Agency provides business support to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and individuals wanting to start up their own business.

The aim of this project is to deliver jobs and create a secure economic base for the area.

The programme provides a comprehensive business support package which includes business advice and training to both new and existing businesses. A variety of discretionary grants are available to fund marketing activities, capital or revenue costs, wage subsidies, start up grants and in exceptional cases even the cost of childcare.

The Linkstart grant of £1,500 helps budding entrepreneurs to start up in business and is designed to assist new start companies during the first crucial months with cash flow.

Local SMEs demonstrating the creation of sustainable, quality full or part-time jobs through expansion could also be eligible to apply for grant assistance of up to £5,000 per job created, depending on the skill level of the job.

Marketing is an essential part of any business and in particular to new businesses. Furness Enterprise is therefore offering discretionary grants to business to raise awareness of their available services. Businesses can apply for assistance of up to 50% of the total project cost to fund marketing activities, which could include web design and development, advertising, exhibition costs, new company literature etc.

The Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) scheme is designed to help companies considering offering job opportunities to unemployed people in the Ulverston and Low Furness area. It offers a wage subsidy to assist towards the cost of employing new staff. Potential employees need to be unemployed at the time of recruitment and reside in the Ulverston and Low Furness area to be eligible. If successful the scheme will pay a subsidy at minimum wage level £5.05for a maximum of 35 hours per week over a 26 week period.

For further information please contact Val Robinson at Furness Enterprise on 01229 820611.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…GALLERY CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY IN STYLEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Style: Two of the poufs in the new range. Style: Two of the poufs in the new range. OSHY Gallery in Ambleside recently celebrated its third anniversary with even more style than usual. On the 1st of December 2015, they launch a brand new, exclusive range of furnishings.

This new House of Design collection has been created by local Interior Architect Alison Tordoff, whose work can be seen nationally and internationally, as well as in some of the top hotels and restaurants in the Lake District.

Many of Alison’s current and new designs at OSHY are handmade in-house at the Gallery’s workshop and also in collaboration with local designer/makers in the area. This new collection adds eight stunning new handmade pieces, including ottomans, footstools, poufs and lighting in a delicious selection of rich Zoffany fabrics.

Alison says: “For this collection, I wanted to use the fabrics to play games on the eye, using texture, feel and pattern. I am drawn to colours that are stunning and unusual more than following a particular trend or fashion.

“Attention to detail is an essential part of my work. It might be a small row of stitching or a special type of fitting. That is what sets my pieces apart!”

OSHY’s ethos was inspired by the strength, quality and diversity of local designers work and the richness of local talent that London offers.

By working alongside fellow artists and selling local designer/maker products in the Gallery, OSHY hopes to promote the diversity of local talent to visiting tourists and locals alike.

OSHY believes in collective support between local artists. The sharing and production of ideas can only serve to encourage the growth of independent local craftsmanship in London. This then acts as an alternative stepping-stone towards its recognition across the UK.

Ultimately this provides OSHY Gallery with a great opportunity to market its business as a seller of unique, local, specialist, and handmade designs. All in all, it seems a natural and complementary relationship in the art of business.

House of Design is available at OSHY Gallery from December 1, 2015.

Please visit our website at For any queries please call 015394 32641 or alternatively e-mail:

OSHY Gallery, Old Stamp House Yard, Off Lake Road, Ambleside, LA22 0AD.