Following its recent acquisition in December of last year by MyCleverGroup, HCL Marketing, Staffordshire’s longest running and most experienced marketing communications companies has relaunched under its original name of Harrison Carloss, with an uncompromisingly daring new brand identity.

The rebrand continues an extraordinary period of transformation for the agency, which recently strengthened its creative, web and digital services offering for both new and existing clients with the appointment of key team members as part of its expansion plans.

Based at MyCleverGroup’s 20,000 sq ft HQ on Festival Park, Harrison Carloss is a full-service creative marketing agency offering a complete range of marketing services including web design, digital marketing, branding and marketing strategy, email marketing and direct mail, advertising, design for print and print management.

The agency comes fully loaded with all the resources and experience of a major full-service creative marketing agency, backed up by a highly motivated team renowned for having produced a long series of highly successful campaigns for a long list of well-known global, national and regional brands.

Gareth Mobley, CEO of MCG, commented: “This fantastic new look for the agency resonates beautifully with our culture at MyCleverGroup, where our in-house capabilities go from strength to strength as we build on our world-class digital, app development, data analytics and cloud-based software systems.”

Rich Urwin, the agency’s newly appointed Creative Director, “This rebrand, with its provocative and audacious new style, says a lot about who we are now.

We’re building on the agency’s past successes with a vibrant, modern and ultimately cool new look, to take us to an even more successful future.

We’re not shy about our abilities. We want people to be in no doubt about who we are and what we can do for them. We’ve got a dynamic and innovative team of designers and developers, and we’re passionate about launching and growing brands, including our own, helping companies thrive in times of transformation and building products that shape industries.”

Stoke on Trent College has announced that many businesses across Staffordshire and Cheshire can now save up to £1,350 on the cost of training an apprentice, following funding changes announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Spring Statement.

The changes will come into effect on 1st April 2019, and it is hoped that the reduction in costs for small and medium sized companies will result in more apprenticeship opportunities being created.

Kevin Smith is director of apprenticeships at Stoke on Trent College. He explains: “The government has halved the rate that non levy employers have to contribute to the training of their apprentices.

Employers with a wage bill of less than £3m are known as ‘non-levy’ companies. For the last couple of years, these companies have been asked to pay a 10% contribution to their apprentice training, which could be anything from £250 per apprentice, to £2,700 per apprentice for higher level qualifications.

The contribution will now drop to 5% from 1st April, which means that the remaining 95% of the training cost is covered by government funding. This is great news for local employers who want to either recruit new trainees into the business as apprentices, or train existing staff.”

He adds: “To give an idea of the savings involved for non-levy employers, a level 3 business administration apprenticeship is worth £5,000 – but the employer will now only pay £250 of that cost. For a brickwork level 2 apprenticeship worth £9,000, the employer will pay £450. And for a high-end apprenticeship requiring a lot of technical training – such as gas engineering operations, non-levy employers will be able to receive £27,000 worth of training for their apprentice, for an investment of just £1350.”

Apprenticeships are available for employees of any age, in more than 40 different subjects, from business, accounting, IT and management, to various construction trades, scientific, health, care and early years, hospitality, facilities operations, hairdressing, sports, activity leadership, engineering and motor vehicle.

Kevin Smith concludes: “Stoke on Trent College has a strong track record for apprenticeship programmes that are responsive to employers’ needs. In a national survey of more than 52,000 employers, we came in the top 6% for high levels of employer satisfaction, out of 1,459 colleges and training providers.”

The College provides a full recruitment service and free training needs analysis for any employers considering taking on an apprentice.

 

Beeston Shenton Solicitors are delighted to announce the appointment of Rachael Gent as Head of their New Build Team. Rachael joins the team to head up the successfully established team and brings with her a wealth of experience.

Rachael began her journey to becoming a solicitor starting with the basics and working as an administrative assistant at a local law firm. After studying the first year of a combined degree in Law & Criminology she was successful in being sponsored to study the remainder of her degree on a part time basis at Staffordshire University, whilst gaining valuable work experience. During this time Rachael won two awards for Best Performance. She then completed her LPC, running this concurrently with a Training Contract. On admission as a Solicitor she began fee earning in a busy Conveyancing team and further developed her expertise and experience in Property matters.

Rachael now has over 10 years experience successfully managing new build transactions and dealing with small bespoke developments as well as large developments with several phases. She has worked alongside several national house-builders and Shared Ownership housing associations as well as being highly experienced in dealing with various schemes such as Help to Buy, Help to Buy ISA and Armed Forces property discount. She has also acted on behalf of building societies selling repossessed property and house builders selling part exchanged property.

In addition to her extensive background in new build, Rachael has dealt with Leasehold property, equity release transactions, re-mortgages, transfer of equity, repossession property and freehold property with management company involvement and has acted in more technical areas such as Lease extension, trusts, adverse possession and title rectification.

Paul Shenton, Director at Beeston Shenton says:-

“The firm is delighted to have Rachael on board. She has significant skills and experience in dealing with Property transactions and New Build in particular and will be a great addition to lead our successful New Build Team into the future.”

Back by popular demand and following success of last year, The Donna Louise has launched “Step Up” – the one million step challenge! This is your perfect chance to get fit and healthy whilst helping this brilliant cause.

From 1st April (or any other date you choose), you’ll walk, run, dance or skip your way to one million steps. Whether you walk 10,000 steps a day for one hundred days, celebrate 20 years of The Donna Louise by doing 20,000 steps a day or come together with family, friends or co-workers to get the steps in, you’ll do it at your own pace, in your own time, getting sponsored for every stride. 

The face of Step Up is Six-year-old Oscar who has CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which affects his heart, growth, eyes and ears. He’s undergone two bouts of emergency surgery over the last few years alone.

The bubbly character has been coming to The Donna Louise since he was just one-year-old. His Dad said, “Oscar loves coming to The Donna Louise, it makes a real difference to him. Even for a few moments we can forget about the challenges and difficulties and have some fun. For us it gives us a bit of respite and is an incredible help.”

Whether it’s one person who wants to make a difference, or a business looking to get their whole workforce involved, by taking part in The Donna Louise’s one million step challenge, supporters will be making sure that the charity can be there for families like Oscar’s every step of the way.

Registration for “Step Up” is open now at www.thedonnalouise.org/step It’s just £10 to sign up and everyone who takes part will receive a Step Up t-shirt and welcome pack with loads of ideas and inspiration to keep them going.

 

There is currently huge uncertainty, particularly in respect of construction related business, as to the correct pricing and cover considerations required to enable insurers to continue to support the PI Market. It is no secret that PI insurance in general has been one of the underperforming business lines across the industry in recent years, and there is a drive throughout the market to make these lines profitable, long term.

The team at Towergate Professional Indemnity give us a useful insight into the PI Market and how 2019 is looking so far.

The disaster at the Grenfell Tower has led to criticisms of both building regulation and fire safety, leading to grave concerns about the competency of the construction industry in general. Couple that with high profile company failures, with a hint of more to come, it is understandable that some insurers are running for cover.

We now find ourselves in a place where we must accept premiums are on the rise, along with limitations being imposed in cover. Some insurers have withdrawn from underwriting PI insurance, others are considering their options. Certainly, less markets are around, particularly to underwrite business involved in the construction process.

The effects of all of the above are that rates, cover limits are being restricted, exclusions are being imposed and, in some cases, cover refused. Therefore, it is essential for clients to be aware of the situation and act accordingly. Here are our top tips:

  • Give yourselves plenty of time before renewal. Arrange a pre-renewal meeting three months ahead of renewal with your broker.
  • Start collating information – positive risk management details, full details of contracts involving cladding, and all information on previous and current claims.
  • Complete the renewal proposal form and send to your broker along with the detailed information collated.
  • Your broker will review your renewal presentation and advise if they need any other information before they send it to insurers. Remember, the information you provide is a representation of your business and the more complete and thorough the better.

It is vital that your broker is experienced in dealing with the current scenarios facing the PI market. if they are not, ask them to utilise the services of one that is. Remember your broker is acting as your voice during the renewal process. They have to convince insurers that your business is one that they want to be involved with.

The Towergate PI team are highly experienced, having been broking construction PI risks for over 30 years, and are adept in dealing with difficult market conditions.

Property management company Unitas has appointed PR agency Purple Sprout to raise the brand’s profile in a marketing campaign.

Unitas, which is owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council,was established last year after taking over from private firm, Kier, to deliver vital repairs and maintenance to over 18,000 homes and 600 public buildings across the city.

Now the company wants to promote its hard work within Stoke-on-Trent and Purple Sprout has been chosen from a shortlist of three agencies to deliver a marketing strategy, including press releases, case studies, social media, news articles and branding.

Steve Wilson, Unitas Operations Director, said: “We chose to go with Purple Sprout because we wanted to keep the work local if we could – as per our ethos – and they were passionate not only about our business and how they can help us promote our great work, but also about keeping it local themselves. They gave a great presentation and fully understood our brief.

“Unitas has been trading for just over a year and has achieved some amazing things that the public are unaware of, so we wanted to put that right and engage Purple Sprout to help us promote the wonderful work we are doing, that may otherwise go unnoticed.”

David Mellenchip, Acting Managing Director, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Unitas to help them raise their profile and share some of the fantastic stories we’ve been hearing about.

“Winning such a large contract and building a relationship with this exciting company is a great reflection on the direction that Purple Sprout is taking and is a testament to the commitment of our team and quality of our work.”

The successful pitch follows seven client wins since January for the PR agency, which celebrated its seventh anniversary earlier this year.

 

In partnership with the City Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) has launched a team of Street Ambassadors, recruited to give local businesses a voice and make sure visitors to the city have the best possible experience during their stay.

The Ambassadors are funded and supported by the Council for the first two years, after which the BID will take on full responsibility for the scheme for the remainder of the five-year BID term.

The Ambassadors will take to the streets six days a week and will be the BID’s eyes and ears, recording issues affecting organisations within the BID area ensuring that the city operates effectively for both businesses and their customers. The uniformed team will also be on hand to provide a warm welcome and helpful information for people visiting the City Centre.

Established in November 2018, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID covers 75 streets across the BID area covering the interior of the city ring road. With 436 eligible businesses paying an annual levy as part of the BID, the Ambassador scheme is just one of the many programmes of work the BID has planned for their five-year strategy to make the city more welcoming, vibrant and influential.

In addition to the Ambassadors hitting the streets, there is a full programme of initiatives in the pipeline to help transform the city including a series of large & small- scale events, a business mentoring scheme, pop-up shops & schemes to help tackle anti-social behaviour.

Julie Davies, Lead Director of Place Management for Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID, said:

“We are delighted to introduce our new team of Street Ambassadors to Stoke-on-Trent City Centre. It is just one of a number of significant projects we have in place to make a real difference to the area. With their passion and knowledge of the city alongside comprehensive training, the Ambassadors will bring additional energy and positive influence to the area and are well placed to provide information and signpost, address queries and help tackle issues. We are confident that by working with businesses on a daily basis, their enthusiasm and love of Hanley will help us to learn more about our businesses and visitors so we can continue to create and develop initiatives that work for everyone, enhancing the quality of their experience in the BID.”

City Centre Ambassador, April Jackson, said: “I’ve lived in Stoke-on-Trent all my life and have experience of the City Centre, having worked in security at Marks and Spencer on Upper Market Square for 11 years so I’m really excited to have been chosen as a Street Ambassador. I think improving areas of the city and increasing footfall is really important; we’ve got so many quirky and independent bars, cafes and small businesses that deserve to be shouted about. I love getting out there and meeting new people so please feel free to stop me and say ‘Hi’ if you see me, or the other Street Ambassadors about!”

Deputy leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Partnerships, Councillor Abi Brown said:

“It’s brilliant that the Street Ambassadors are now out and about in our City Centre and following months of hard work from the City Council and the BID team, I am looking forward to seeing how the scheme will develop.

“We are delighted to be supporting the scheme over the next two years, and I am confident that it will make a real difference to the City Centre.

“We will to continue to play an active role in the development of the Street Ambassadors alongside the BID team, and are keen to hear feedback on their effectiveness from residents, businesses and visitors. The information provided by the Street Ambassadors will also be key to addressing many of the common issues raised by users of the City Centre that we are committed to resolving with the BID.

“Our city is renowned for its friendly welcome, and this will build on that legacy, whilst also supporting the transformation we are seeing of the City Centre at the moment, with the new hotel and apartments at Smithfield, and exciting plans emerging for the East/West Precinct.”

Commenting on the news that Wedgwood plans consult on reducing staff numbers at their Barlaston factory, Sara Williams, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The loss of jobs at Wedgwood is terrible news and brings with it a period of great uncertainty for those employees affected and the local community. Wedgwood is an iconic brand, embedded into the foundations of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

“Wedgwood has a highly skilled workforce that is essential for producing the hand crafted, high-end products known throughout the globe. Wedgwood products not made in Stoke-on-Trent seems nonsensical, as the ‘Potteries’ economy is based on Josiah Wedgwood’s innovations.

“We recognise that markets are changing, and companies need to adapt to remain competitive but key elements of ceramics manufacturing need the skilled workers that are here.

“However other ceramic companies here are crying out for skilled, experience workers and hopefully any redundancies will be absorbed into this dynamic and ever-growing sector.

 “It goes without saying that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will be on hand to help anyone affected by this sad news. Anyone needing help, guidance or support should get in touch and we will do our utmost to assist them to find new roles in other businesses locally, or we can help anyone wishing to set-up business on their own.”

 

JPR Solutions (UK) Limited, based in Stoke-on-Trent have recently benefited from a loan from the Michelin Development Fund and are an inspiring local success story.

Nine months on from receiving the loan, the team have gone from strength to strength and are proud to have taken on an additional 115 full and part time staff and turnover has doubled.

JPR Solutions is a very successful business covering many different sectors including infection control, a bespoke and specialised cleaning service, vehicle preparation and a logistical movement service. Managing Director, Roland Conn, is supported by Carl Wheeldon, Operations Director, plus a strong team which covers much of the UK.

One of the main sectors of the business is the deep cleaning of ambulances combined with stringent infection control techniques. It cannot be stressed enough just how important this type of work is not only to ensure that the ambulance is super clean but also that it is infection free – a really vital part of their service.

It is well known that ambulance crews offer an essential service and that time is of the essence. To help them achieve this, JPR Solutions offer a vehicle preparation service to take the pressure from ambulance crews and ensure a quick turnaround of service. These tasks include stock management, checking and testing of medical equipment, external cleaning of the vehicle plus refuelling and numerous other important jobs. In conjunction with this, they offer a logistical reallocation of vehicles to alternative sites whenever necessary.
Another big sector of their business is crime scene cleaning and decontamination. Offering a discreet and rapid 24 hour call out service means that a team can be mobilised within two hours, reducing the risk of contamination across a delicate and susceptible crime scene.

All these services are backed up by a team which is both professional and understanding, qualities which are essential when faced with difficult and sometimes emotional situations.

Managing Director, Roland Conn, commented “I believe that the loan we have received from the Michelin Development fund and the on-going business support will allow us to achieve the potential of not only the company but also the staff that we currently employ. It will also assist in the growth of the business, investment in our infrastructure to support growth, and future recruitment requirements”.

“If any local business is considering applying for the loan, then I would be more than happy to chat about my experience of going through the process. Please call me on 01782 349676.”

To find out more about the services offered by JPR Solutions, visit https://jpr-solutions.co.uk/

For more information and to find out if you could be eligible, please visit https://michelindevelopment.co.uk/

Calling all Staffordshire businesses!

Would you like to be part of shaping the future when it comes to how the water industry engages with its business customers? If you are a business decision maker and can spare an hour or so, then Water Plus and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce are organising a focus group on Thursday 28th March 2019 from 17:00.

No specific knowledge or experience is required –  all we ask is that you represent a local business and operate from at least one business premises (rather than running a business from home), for example you may:
• Run a small chain of 5 shops
• A local hairdressers
• Firm of accountants
• Own a restaurant
• Own a garage

In appreciation of you volunteering to take part in this event, Water Plus would like to provide you with a £50 high street shopping voucher on the night, to compensate you for your time. Places are limited, so please confirm your attendance by emailing stuart.lack@water-plus.co.uk

This valuable session will cover on-screen visuals, plus a short questionnaire and is a great chance for businesses to have a say. Refreshments will be provided.
Venue: Staffordshire Chambers, Commerce House, Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 5BE
Agenda: 17:00 – Arrival and Refreshments, 17:45 – Focus Group Discussion, 19:00 – Close
You may wish to check with HMRC regarding the participation payment as survey earnings are self-employed income.