A partnership between Stoke-on-Trent College and Parogon Group is assisting the company’s ongoing expansion plans, with three new trainee chefs being the first to get on the career ladder following the successful launch of a work experience scheme.

Parogon currently employs around 350 people at popular Staffordshire venues The Wayfarer in Stone, The Orange Tree in Trent Vale, The Swan with Two Necks at Blackbrook, The Seven Stars at Brocton and The Block House in Baldwins Gate, as well as The Boar’s Head in Walgherton, near Nantwich.

Last year, the group announced expansion plans to grow from 350 to 500 staff in 2019 and increase in size by 35%, with the launch of more restaurants in Shropshire and Balterley.

As part of this growth strategy, Parogon has partnered with Stoke-on-Trent College to offer a 12-week work experience programme in order to attract and train the best young talent to become part of their kitchen teams.

The first successful phase has led to three of the college’s level 2 food preparation students securing part-time jobs as trainee chefs with Parogon, which they will carry out alongside their studies.

Jack Wall, 17, from Blythe Bridge, has started a new part-time job as a Commis Chef at Parogon’s Stone venue, The Wayfarer.

Wiktor Pocalun, 18, from Bentilee, and Kyle Johnson-Cooper, 17, from Madeley have both been offered part-time Commis Chef roles at The Orange Tree in Trent Vale.

Katy Chesters, Business Development Associate at Stoke-on-Trent College, comments: “Parogon Group is one of the fastest growing employers in the hospitality sector in Staffordshire, with an outstanding reputation for high quality food and service.

“We are proud to work in partnership with Ben and his team to provide this work experience programme for our catering students, and even prouder that this led directly to commis chef roles at The Wayfarer and The Orange Tree for Jack, Wiktor and Kyle. These are fantastic opportunities which will get their careers off to a great start, combining their new part-time jobs with their catering qualifications at the college.”

She adds: “The Parogon Group is known for high standards. The right team is critically important to the success of the business and that’s why this new partnership helps them attract and retain the next generation of chefs that will be key to their ongoing growth.”

Ben Allison, Operations Support Manager at Parogon Group said: “Our teams put a lot of hard work and dedication into making our business a success and we are able to maintain this by recruiting the right individuals.

“The work placement scheme with Stoke-on-Trent College is a valuable opportunity to provide potential recruits with some insight into the life of a professional chef, the high standards we expect and how it feels to be part of our team.”

He adds: “We are always looking for the right personalities, so small things such as displaying their passion for food with a smile when describing favourite meals and ingredients, led me to offer the new roles to Kyle, Jack and Wiktor.”

For the students, it’s been a very positive experience. Wiktor comments: “I was made to feel very welcome by the staff at The Orange Tree and I really feel part of the family.  I have loved cooking new dishes and trying new foods, and I have even cooked some of the dishes at home for my family.”

Jack says: “My confidence in cooking has grown and I’d recommend this work experience programme to other students. I have enjoyed working in such a busy and fast paced restaurant.

Kyle concludes: “My knowledge of ingredients and cooking methods has expanded, and I really enjoy working at The Orange Tree. It’s been great to take this knowledge back to college and share with classmates.”


Staffordshire Chamber’s International Trade Team is celebrating after helping Staffordshire companies export more than £250 million pounds worth of goods to 115 countries.

That’s £50 million pounds more than last year and 15 extra countries.

The team help companies, from all sectors with advice, and support on the exporting process from start to finish. They work to ensure local companies trade with countries from Abu Dhabi to Zimbabwe and just about everywhere in between.

While the UK is currently in the European Union, companies exporting to Europe don’t need any documentation, because its free trade – that may change depending on what happens with Brexit.

Staffordshire Chambers is encouraging businesses to think about moving into new markets abroad and can support them with the relevant documentation, training, translation services and ensuring companies are legally compliant.

Staffordshire Chambers’ Head of International Trade, Robert Lawley, says the uncertainty of Brexit has helped lead to a boom in export to other countries. He said: “There is a feeling of making hay while the sun shines because there’s so much uncertainly of what will happen to the economy, when we leave Europe. That coupled with the fact that sterling is weak, which makes it cheaper to export, has led to at least a 20% increase in the goods we’ve helped Staffordshire companies export. This is great news for the local economy and for us as a chamber.”

He added: “I’d encourage any business that is thinking of either exporting for the first time or would like to enter into new markets abroad to contact our team as we can advise them on how to begin exporting and how to build their business overseas.”


ExtraMile Communications has completed a £60,000 expansion into new Staffordshire headquarters, as well as creating four new jobs and launching an office in London’s Monument area.

The Staffordshire agency, which specialises in multilingual website development and search marketing, has relocated from its previous headquarters in Eccleshall to a new 3,000 sq ft office in nearby Stone.

The company’s ongoing expansion follows a 93% increase in turnover in the last three years, thanks to growth in business from existing clients and new contract wins for web and SEO projects.

The company now employs a team of 22 working between the Staffordshire HQ and a new central London office. Recently created roles include a PR manager, sales executive, creative designer and SEO executive.

The team has also unveiled a rebrand and a new website as part of the expansion.

Gabrielle Hadley, Managing Director at ExtraMile Communications, comments: “Our new office enables us to continue to grow. We have plans to increase our staff from 22 to 35 over the next 3 years and of course to take on more national and international clients through our London office, which services our growing client base in the south.

“The team has recently been announced as a finalist in the UK Search Awards based on the results they have achieved for clients over the last 12 to 18 months. We have experienced a high growth in demand for these services, where we have delivered a sizeable return on investment across all client accounts.”

Commenting on the move to the new headquarters, Gabrielle says: “We have been extremely grateful to receive match funding towards the new offices through the Business Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Birmingham City Council. It is this investment which should help us to continue our growth, continue new digital marketing jobs well into the future.”


Staffordshire and Cheshire hair salon owners will have the chance to attend an inspiring free masterclass and meet and greet event with Lee Stafford at Stoke-on-Trent College’s Cauldon Campus on Monday, 11th February, from 6pm to 8.30pm.

During the evening, Lee will be demonstrating the ‘long graduation’ – a simple and effective technique to layer long hair which he describes as ‘a real winner in the salon’. Lee will also be answering questions about his journey from the launch of his first salon, to creating his popular product range, appearing on TV and opening his education academy.

The event will also showcase the training and support on offer to local salons from the new Lee Stafford Hair Academy at Stoke-on-Trent College, where teaching staff have undertaken training on all the latest cutting, colouring and styling techniques from Lee and his team. Salon owners can also find out about new, fully funded business training workshops available for salons, including GDPR, social media, online marketing and PR.

Lee said: “Hairdressing is a huge industry. Figures from the National Hairdressing Federation show that more than 42,000 businesses employ around 260,000 people in hairdressing, barbering and beauty. What’s more, we contribute an estimated £7.5 billion a year to the UK economy. It’s a competitive industry and its important that training is kept up to date and that new recruits coming into salons have the right skills.” *

He adds: “This event is a celebration of all the great businesses in the area and all the talent that is being developed. It’s a great opportunity for business owners and salon managers to find out more about the expertise on offer at the college. I think employers who come along will be blown away by the standard of the college trainers who are all passionately committed to making sure the students are the most employable stylists and colourists in the area.”

Jo Sale, Team Leader for Hair, Beauty, Hospitality and Catering at Stoke-on-Trent College added: “Our partnership with Lee Stafford brings fantastic opportunities to local hair business owners who want to recruit or train the best staff, or keep up their own CPD. Our students are enjoying learning techniques from a multi-award-winning hairdresser and businessman.

“All students at Stoke on Trent College develop the very best technical skills, make strong professional contacts in the industry and learn from experienced business people in their chosen career.”

Stoke-on-Trent College provides level 2 and level 3 hairdressing qualifications, including apprenticeships. It is also introducing a new range of fully funded training workshops available to help salon owners grow their business.

The event on 11th February is free to attend and is open to any hair salon owners or hairdressing industry professionals. Advanced booking is essential – please call Stoke on Trent College B2B team on 01782 603603 or email by 7th February to book a place.


Mitten Clarke had announced the appointment of James Beardmore as Director, who joined the firm in early February 2019.  James is a lawyer by qualification having worked at Knights Solicitors until 2014 when he moved to Butters John Bee as Director until January 2019.

Mandy Mitten, Managing Director at Mitten Clarke, said: “We know James is a great fit for us, having worked with him for the last eight years.  As a Lawyer and Director of a different professional services firm he will bring new skills to Mitten Clarke and we’re delighted to have him on board. ”

His role will be strategic, initially focusing on systems and technology then leading on the company’s expansion plans with new service lines.

James said: “Mitten Clarke is a business I’ve worked closely with and always held in the highest regard for its forward-thinking approach and positive culture. To now be joining the team is an absolute delight and a hugely exciting opportunity.”


Football officials have won support from a firm of chartered accountants as they kick off a scheme to upgrade facilities at the club.

Newcastle Town FC is NOW backed by Barringtons Chartered Accountants for a fourth year as part of its commitment to football in the community.

Manager Robin van der Laan, who formerly played for Port Vale and Derby County, said: “This year has seen big changes at Newcastle. There’s a new chairman, backroom staff and philosophy of developing talented youngsters from our local area.

“In the summer we re-branded as the Red Industries Stadium after teaming up with a local waste management company. We also had to carry out major pitch improvements after the hot weather left it parched. The grass needed a lot of work but is now greatly improved. Next we will be refurbishing the changing facilities which are original and need to be brought into the 21st century.”

The club, founded as a Sunday League in 1964, is now semi-professional with 28 teams from the FIRST down to under 7’s.

Director, Gavin Appleby, said: “The club costs around a quarter of a million pounds to run every year and without the support of businesses like Barringtons we would not be able to survive in such a difficult economic situation.”

Barringtons, based in Newcastle, supports the club with its payroll and tax returns.

Managing Director, Phil Wood, said: “Football bonds a community and we like to give back to the towns where we have offices and employ from the area.

“As a local man, I’m particularly proud of our association with Newcastle Town. The club has strong roots in the community and encourages youngsters to get out and kick a ball while enjoying friendship and the camaraderie of being part of a team.”

Barringtons, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, also supports Nantwich Town FC and Market Drayton Town FC.

An emphasis on service standards and customer focus has seen Adept Vehicle Management gain independent ISO 9001 certification.

The North Staffordshire based business fleet specialists have tested their service standards against criteria including relationship management, commitment to continual improvement and leadership.

“ISO is an independent qualification that fits our company ethos of aspiring to continually improve service standards,” said Adept Director Mark Pedley. “We win business based on a reputation for high quality customer service and we wanted to test our standards against the ISO “evaluation. The process was led by our Account Manager Heather Butlin who worked with locally based business standards specialists Eaglet over several weeks.”

Wayne Pearce of Eaglet Business Systems said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Adept in gaining certification to ISO9001 and are delighted to be able to continue to support them going forward with the continued successful management of the standard with ISOAIMS ™.  We know that the further commercial opportunities and the cost and efficiency saving opportunities will enable Adept to flourish and expand in the future and we are proud to be able to support them in that journey”.

Adept have pioneered unique levels of customer service with companies requiring a vehicle fleet. They have developed a system to embed a manager into the client’s team ensuring their specific service needs are met and this is complimented by Adept’s bespoke Fleet Check and Tracker systems which ensures standards of all cars and vans are constantly high and monitors metrics such as safety and fuel efficiency.

Catering solutions specialist Totally Delicious is fuelling productivity across a wide range of industries by transforming sterile staff rest areas with its very own Canteen Takeover.

It’s concession concept aims to help to feed the minds, bodies and souls of employees, resulting in a happier and healthier workforce.

Totally Delicious has already formed partnerships with a number of businesses in the midlands and north west by building and operating catering services within factories, offices and contact centres.

Occupying around 15 square metres, the new self contained units offer everything from hot drinks and snacks to nutritious balanced meals.

And by creating a separate ‘recharge’ area for staff downtime, Totally Delicious is helping clients to enhance their staff welfare offering, which is so topical right now for staff retention and productivity.

Managing director Dominic Bowers said: “The concessions model gives us the chance to offer businesses who have been put off by expensive fit out costs and disruptive commercial kitchen builds, it’s a genuine alternative to offering staff some added value at work.

“But it also allows businesses to serve up quality food to their teams on site. We formed Totally Delicious to challenge the mindset of what a canteen should be and I think this new concession concept is another step forward in helping us deliver on that goal.

“It is an ideal, self-contained solution for businesses that are growing quickly – such as finance, commerce and e-commerce operations. This type of client can expand rapidly and they then have to look at how they can look after their people with on-site, quality food facilities. The concession gives them a speedy, adaptable and cost-effective solution, quite often 50% less than traditional builds”

Concessions can also be built within 72 hours and open within a working week.

Operating costs roughly work out at the equivalent of £1 per member of staff per day, while the neat design of the concessions reduce any loss of valuable floorspace.

Dominic Bowers said: “More than 90 per cent of our normal menus will be provided from these concessions. The focus is on grilled, steamed or baked food for staff, it gives them healthier food options and simplifies the kitchen investment needed. The result is a healthier offering to staff and great value proposition to the employers.”

“Breakfasts dominate sales but then staff also want access to ‘graze and go’ with items such as coffees, drinks, impulse snacks, sandwiches, baguettes etc high on their lists. We also provide hot pasta and rice dishes so they can have nutritious proteins and carbs.”

The menus by Totally Delicious are already providing food for thought among its satisfied customers.

Dominic Bowers added: “One of the main goals of the restaurant concessions that we implement within businesses, is to provide staff with a contemporary, informal space in which to relax and connect with other employees.

“As a result our clients tell us that they have found that communication between their employees from all levels of their businesses increases dramatically, which has to be a good thing.

“For a management team, working with us not only means that they are investing in the wellbeing of their staff, but we also give them peace of mind from delivering a totally managed service.”



Leading accountancy firm Dains LLP has appointed a new Business Development Director to their Stoke office.

Daran Harding joined the team following over 30 years’ experience in corporate banking across the Midlands and North West. During his banking career, Daran supported clients with acquisitions, restructures and property purchases in addition to working capital support alongside the funding of trading assets.

Ann Diggins, Office Partner of Dains Stoke, commented: “Daran joins us during an exciting growth period in the region, as we see our staff members and client base increasing. Daran’s banking and funding expertise provides us with an additional advantage and broadens our capabilities in supporting our existing client base and new clients. Daran is already out in the local marketplace sharing the firm’s passion for building strong relationships and adding client value.”

Dains’ Managing Partner, Richard McNeilly, commented: “So far this year, revenues have grown by over 20%, following a record year last year for the Stoke office. All business areas are performing ahead of budget and strengthening the business development team will further support this growth.

“Daran will act as the eyes and ears of the firm sharing our corporate finance capabilities within the local professional services marketplace and coordinating this with our corporate finance team. Critically for the business community, we will keep these opportunities local in order that our banking and legal contacts will also benefit from these opportunities.”

Daran joins a growing team of over 180 staff from 5 offices across the Midlands.