Stone becomes just one of five specialists in the UK to be awarded the status. 

Leading circular IT solutions provider,  Stone Group, has announced that it has been recognised as an expert Microsoft Device Sales Specialist, joining the uppermost tier of Microsoft Partners within the education in the UK. With almost 30 years’ experience operating in the education sector, Stone has been recognised for its device, software, cloud solutions, deployment, and training/enablement offerings.

The award, reviewed and compiled by Microsoft annually, recognises partners that are able to demonstrate expert capability in supporting education institutions with their Microsoft device requirements. Stone Group was awarded Education Device Sales Specialist status after a rigorous examination process, taking a wide range of criteria into account, including pricing, licencing, customer journeys, accessibility, and technical expertise.

As an expert, Stone Group will receive ongoing technical development support and training from Microsoft, as well as marketing support and funding to promote joint solutions to primary and secondary schools, multi-academy trusts, higher education, and further education institutions.

Simon Harbridge, CEO at Stone Group, commented, “We’re incredibly proud to be recognised as only one of five expert Microsoft Education Device Sales Specialists, and have our developing services and products recognised as some of the best in the UK by such a prestigious partner. The award, in addition to our Microsoft Gold Partner status, is testament to our close relationship with Microsoft and ability to serve the education sector.

“When working with an expert Education Device Sales Specialist, education institutions will have peace of mind and total confidence that they’re dealing with a qualified and experienced provider. The education sector has faced unprecedented times over the past year, and the quick and efficient procurement of appropriate devices has played a more crucial role than ever before. This will continue to be integral to the quality of education and support offered to students as we move forward, and the support of a trusted, quality education-specific solutions provider will be invaluable.”

Stone Group is a trusted partner of numerous leading global technology brands alongside Microsoft, including Intel, Acer, Adobe, Lenovo, Phillips, Logitech, HP and Cisco.

Stoke-based apprenticeship provider PM Training has relaunched this month as Achieve Training, undergoing a total brand refresh.

The training business, which is Staffordshire’s leading independent apprenticeship provider for young people, has unveiled the new name alongside an updated logo, website and a revitalised business strategy and service offer.

The Achieve Training transformation is being overseen by Dan Canavan, whose father Sean started the business as Project Management Ltd in 1982, and who stepped into a leading role as Executive Director of PM Training last year.

Dan said: “Ever since my dad opened the doors nearly 30 years ago, we’ve had a proud history of supporting local young people to realise their potential. Our core purpose isn’t changing – we still offer outstanding training and support services to help people to fulfil their career ambitions – but Achieve Training is the next step of the journey for us.

“The world has changed, businesses around us are changing, and the way young people learn, develop, and see their place in the working environment is changing. We felt that our name no longer represented what we do.

“Achieve Training is a launchpad for quality, inspirational training and opportunities. We’re a modern, progressive company with a diverse offer. We support young people from all walks of life through education and employment, we have a strong focus on wellbeing and mental health, and we strive to build better futures.”

Achieve Training is part of we are aspire, which also comprises 9,000-home social landlord Aspire Housing and regeneration charity Realise, which supports employment and wellbeing throughout the region.

Sinéad Butters, Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing, said: “We’re delighted to launch Achieve Training. The world of apprenticeships has changed significantly in the past few years and we have continuously adapted to stay ahead of the curve.

“We felt the time was right to create a new identity that more accurately shows the support we offer as a business, alongside a brand that highlights to young people the amazing benefits and growth that can come with a modern apprenticeship. We have plans to refresh and grow, to further diversify our offer, and to continue to support young people in our communities.”

To find out more about Achieve Training, visit

Stone Group’s IT recycling app shortlisted for a Think Global Award

30th March 21 – With over 2,000 downloads of its Stone 360 app, resulting in over 100,000 items of ageing, broken or redundant IT hardware taken to its IT asset disposal facility (ITAD) for recycling, Stone Group’s continued commitment to combatting the UK’s growing e-waste problem has been recognised by the Think Global Awards, with a shortlisting in the sustainability category.

Stone Group, a leading ICT solutions provider, launched the Stone 360 app late last year to help organisations effectively manage the entire lifecycle of their IT assets in just a few easy clicks. The app enables organisations to arrange collection of their unwanted hardware at their convenience. All items, including monitors, laptops, desktops, printers and servers, are then taken to Stone’s ITAD facility in Staffordshire where they are securely wiped of all data, then either refurbished and given a second life or recycled.

App users can track and manage the rebates for their old IT assets and collect points to purchase new or refurbished IT. Stone Group is also working in partnership with the National Forest to plant a tree for every 200 pieces of kit they donate. So, far Stone has planted over 500 trees on behalf of its customers and users can see a visual representation on the app of all the trees that have been planted on their behalf.

The Think Global sustainability award recognises efforts to contribute to a more sustainable society and the judges are looking at the innovation developed to help protect the environment. The winners of these prestigious awards will be announced on 12th April 2021.

Tim Westbrook, director at Stone Group said: “This award shortlisting is testament to our efforts as a business to facilitate positive change and help our customers achieve their own sustainability goals.

“As IT resellers it is our responsibility to minimise the negative impact e-waste has on the environment. The UK is one of the world’s worst offenders, with figures from the Global E-Waste Monitor in 2019 showing that 23.9kg of unwanted technology was generated by each person. We all need to take greater responsibility for the items we no longer use and choose a sustainable route for their disposal and it’s time the IT industry did more to make this as easy as possible for everyone.

“We’re 100% committed to ensuring that zero waste that comes to our facility ends up in landfill and if we’re not able to refurbish a device, we recycle as much as we can of it and any waste materials are turned into other items such as water bottles.”

“The app is so simple to use and it’s a complete game changer for our customers. It not only offers them an easy and sustainable way to manage their end-of-life IT assets, but it also enables them to track their rebates and replace old kit as required.

With many people working at home since the start of the pandemic, Stone Group has seen a significant increase in the amount of desktops and monitors being sent to them for recycling as businesses have been forced to invest in laptops and other mobile devices instead.

Stone’s ITAD facility is WEEE compliant and has these accreditations: ISO 27001: Information Security Management, ADISA Distinction, DIPCOG and Cyber Essentials.

The Stone360 app is free to download and is available on both iOS and Android devices.

Investing in the future

Cheadle-based Klarius Products is offering aspiring young professionals the chance to build a career in engineering, with the business hiring four new apprentices. The largest UK manufacturer of aftermarket exhausts, Klarius is looking for applicants to join its Administration, Maintenance, Technical and Quality departments.

Mark Brickhill, CEO at Klarius, said: “It is imperative that young people are given opportunities in engineering. At Klarius, we are committed to providing apprenticeships to candidates wishing to improve their skills and learn a valuable trade. The current apprenticeships cover varied aspects of our business, from product development to administration.

“As a business, our recent successes, both sales growth and winning Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Business of the Year 2020, has been driven by the specialist knowledge of our workforce. Our continued growth therefore relies on ensuring that we expand our expertise and pass down skills. We work closely with Staffordshire University and training centres to ensure that we are providing local people with the right opportunities to build a successful career in engineering.”

Other brands operating under the Klarius umbrella include KM Tools, a specialist builder of production machinery for the automotive and rail sectors, and Emissco, a manufacturer of liquids, aerosols, hygienic products and a leading UK distributor of Air1 AdBlue. This breadth of capability ensures strong performance across the Group, working with our suppliers and customers both across the UK and internationally.

Mark concludes: “As a proud UK business we greatly benefit from local engineering capability. It is important that we support our community and engage with young people via job opportunities, factory tours, visits to education centres, training and local events, this is a key part of our long-term business strategy.”

For more information and to apply please visit the apprenticeships listing page or search ‘Apprenticeships List UK’.

More people are asking for their savings to be invested responsibly and ethically, according to North Staffordshire pensions and savings experts Richard Jacobs Pension & Trustee Services.

With awareness of issues such as climate change rising, Emily Small says questions from investors about which companies pension funds invest in, are now becoming much more common.

In response, Richard Jacobs Pension & Trustee Services is looking to add more responsible and sustainable investments into their portfolios and have specific investments for those with strong ethical views.

Emily, a Director, at Newcastle-under-Lyme based Richard Jacobs Pensions and Trustee Services, said: “We’ve noticed an upward trend of people seeking ethical investments and it is something that is now being catered for by fund managers.

“For most people with a private pension, their pension contributions are the biggest opportunity that most people have to influence investment portfolios. Traditionally people would put money in their pension and the primary objective was to maximise returns, within an appropriate level of risk, however, we are all more aware about issues such as climate change, experiments on animals, arms sales, modern slavery and human rights.

“Pension funds can use voting rights to try to influence how a company behaves. They can also tailor investment portfolios to reflect your concerns.”

In one example, Royal London Asset Management Limited (RLAM) has committed to being a responsible investor. They state: “Greater public awareness and concern has resulted in us as investors being asked more and more challenging questions about how we are being responsible stewards of our clients’ capital,” said the company’s head of responsible investment. “Fundamentally, we believe that considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in the investment process can help us deliver better returns for our customers and clients.”


Richard Jacobs Pensions carries-out pension audits to ensure their clients’ investments are working well. They then search the markets for suitable investment opportunities.

848 Group, one of the midland’s leading IT providers has appointed a new Head of Project Management Office (PMO) to enhance the existing strategic relationship between the business and sales.

Justine Slade joins 848 with over 10 years’ experience in the IT industry and has worked with clients across many sectors including telecoms, retail, financial services, legal, engineering, manufacturing and automotive.

Heading up the PMO which Justine describes as “a company’s command centre for projects” means she will be focussing on project portfolio management at a strategic level. She said: “I’m looking forward to managing cross functional resource planning and project portfolio management as well as enhancing 848’s strategic relationship between Sales and PMO.”

Justine’s impressive portfolio includes successfully delivering multiple large-scale transformation programmes, including an 18-month warehouse migration programme for a leading Network Provider, and a 24-month implementation project of a new global platform for the EMEA (Europe & Middle East) territories. These projects came with significant budgets that had to be managed tightly through the business and third parties.

Group Technical Director David Burn said: “Justine is already proving to be an asset to the team and is drawing on her wealth of experience. She has delivered multimillion pound global programmes as well as key strategic projects. The knowledge and skills she developed over the past decade are perfect for the increasing demands of the business and we’re looking forward to driving the growth of the business together.”

Justine said: “I am excited about joining 848 group during a period of massive growth and I can’t wait to be part of the momentum. Process is key to both myself and 848 so I’m thrilled to be a part of an agile and forward-thinking company.

“I’m eagerly anticipating the challenge of growing professionally with 848 and supporting a team that drives growth and facilitates success with Business Changing IT.”

If you’re interested in working in partnership with an IT provider, contact 848 Group on 0344 9848 848 or

For more information visit

In response to the changing world of work, two local businesses have joined forces to create a suite of bespoke workshops to support businesses as they reopen and explore new ways of working with their teams following the pandemic.

Sue Green of Evergreen HR and Mary Walker of ELM People have extensive experience within both blue chip, SME and charity organisations and have track records of delivering support which have helped organisations to grow and to maximise the performance of their teams.

Mary said: “Sue and I recognise that these are challenging times for organisations with the unpredictability of this pandemic and having to keep organisations running and the challenges of
managing and keeping engaged remote working teams both during and after this lockdown. We are passionate about supporting the SME community in Staffordshire to access the best quality, bespoke learning solutions to help organisations to both support, manage and to help their teams to thrive.

We work with the Growth Hub and Skills Hub to help businesses access funding to support training and ensure they can libertate the potential of their teams which means that organisations can
receive training from us with potential to access 48% grant funding towards our training”

Fully funded training and HR consultancy may also be available for businesses who express an interest before Friday 26th March, with Skills Hub grants topped up to 100% by the Staffordshire Means Back To Business initiative. For more information view the flyer here.

Evergreen HR provides range of Human Resource consultancy services including the fantastic cloudbased HR software, which has been designed to specifically support SME’s ELM People focussing on learning and development and business coaching. ELM work with a range of businesses and the volunteer sector.

To find out more about how we can help your business contact Sue at or Mary at

A proposed development partnership between Aspire Housing and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council will see a huge boost to housing and regeneration in North Staffordshire town.

Aspire Housing’s Development and Regeneration Report, which was approved by the Council Cabinet this week, proposes a closer working relationship between Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and the 9,000-home housing association, with a vision to increase benefits for local residents.

The arrangement will increase delivery of modern, high-quality homes, revitalise neighbourhoods and communities, create employment and training opportunities for local people, and provide a more sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to development in the area.

Sinéad Butters, Group Chief Executive at Aspire Housing, said: “We have a long and successful history of partnership working with the Borough Council, and we’re delighted to further expand this relationship with the proposal for an exciting development and regeneration partnership.

“With plans on the horizon for aspirational development opportunities at the Zanzibar and Ryecroft sites in the town centre, this closer working relationship will allow us to combine our resources, skills, and shared passion for the local community, to help create a brighter future for Newcastle-under-Lyme.”

The relationship would also explore potential future opportunities for commercial growth in Newcastle-under-Lyme, with an aim to enhance the town’s role as a centre for services, leisure, retail and living, and its connection to local residents.

The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, said: “As we come out of the lockdown we are all looking to the future of the Borough, its businesses and its communities.

“The pandemic, and the way we were able to pull together so strongly to help and support our communities during this unprecedented time, has shown us that we can achieve more by working together in future.

“The Council will seize these new opportunities – and our shared vision with Aspire – to grow our communities and our places, to improve the town centres, and to build back better across the Borough.”

Klarius Products has proved that having a UK-based manufacturing operation and dedicated logistics infrastructure can give customers a competitive edge. The business is using this advantage in 2021 to further expand its range of aftermarket exhaust systems while supporting the country’s ever growing and diversifying car parc.

Continued growth in the Klarius range has been achieved thanks its robust new-to-range programme that develops emissions control solutions to fit the vast majority of vehicles on the road today. With its extensive in-house engineering, testing and manufacturing resources, Klarius is making a fast start to 2021 with a wide range of new parts released in Q1.

Doug Bentley, Head of Research and Development at Klarius, explained: “Our capabilities have given us a great advantage recently. Despite the pandemic, in 2020 we added over 150 new parts covering 3.7 million vehicles in the UK and a further 11.4 million across Europe – further widening our range advantage over other UK suppliers and manufacturers. All in all, our range now meets the replacement needs of 30 million vehicles on UK roads, which covers 83% of the total national car parc. We closely monitor the remaining 17% of vehicles, for newer applications where there is not yet any aftermarket emissions control requirement, and launch development in time for when the parts are needed. This illustrates that we have the most complete range in the UK, backed by a very active new-to-range programme, which identifies the future exhaust replacement needs of our customers to ensure the right parts are available at the right time.

“These future needs include replacement parts for popular hybrid vehicles, with our team currently developing components to fit the Toyota Auris and Lexus CT200. Additionally, we are providing more and more replacement parts for light commercial vehicles, which are covering big miles during this lockdown period. In addition to this, we pay attention to the latest vehicle models released by manufacturers, with new replacement exhausts soon to be in range for the Audi A1, Toyota Verso TR and many more.

“In 2021, we are aiming to provide new components that cover an additional 7 million UK and 16.2 million EU vehicles. This ambitious plan will extend our market-leading position in terms of available range, strengthening the offering of our motor factor and distributor customers. We will continue to be the go-to supplier for quality replacement emissions control components, delivered next morning enabling customers to carry lower inventories.

Klarius offers a range of over 11,000 products designed to fit vehicles of almost any class and age. This is thanks to its expert in-house development and testing facilities, where Klarius engineers use vehicles of correct make, model and production year to prove the performance and legislative compliance of components.

Doug adds: “It is a huge speed to market advantage for us to be the only UK emissions control component supplier to have an integrated site with manufacturing, new product development and our own test track. Furthermore, we independently test and certify our new exhaust products with the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), to ensure they meet or beat OE standards – an investment our competitors in the UK choose not to make as Government regulations regrettably do not require such standards.”

Every Klarius component features a 2-year standard warranty and a Fit First Time guarantee as standard. All applicable components are legislatively compliant. Next morning delivery is available for any product in range across the UK.

You can see every new-to-range parts list here.

Leading digital agency, Netbiz Group is delighted to announce that they have launched a new branding service.

Currently offering website design and development, hosting and support, search engine optimisation, social media, PPC, digital marketing and PR, the new branding services are a welcome addition.

With offices in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Inverness, Netbiz Groups’ 22-strong team that encompasses branding and creative design professionals, will offer bespoke branding services to strategically brand and transform businesses across the UK.

The businesses new branding services include brand identity and strategy development, logo design and updates, branding, re-branding, brand guidelines, product / service branding and brand implementation.

Forming a key element of their growth strategy, this announcement showcases Netbiz Group’s commitment to expand in order to offer clients multiple services to support their businesses.

Jessica Oliver, Brand Manager at Netbiz Group commented: “Introducing branding as a service in its own entirety is super exciting for me. Having worked on branding projects in the past, it’s great to be able to bring my knowledge and expertise to help more clients in this area.

Jessica continues; we’ve got a fantastic team of people passionate about branding and design, and we’re currently going through the process of re-branding Netbiz Group, so we can’t wait to showcase just what we can do for businesses”.

This new move also poses the opportunity to increase the size of the business moving forward.

Will Hayes, Managing Director at Netbiz Group said, “Branding is a service area that we’ve wanted to offer at Netbiz Group for a while now. We feel that it fits perfectly into our current service offering and ensures that we can provide both current and prospective clients the best expert support for their businesses.

Will finalised; adding a new service to our portfolio enhances the Netbiz Group experience for clients whilst enabling further business growth”.

Businesses can find out more about Netbiz Group and their new Branding services by visiting their website: or by emailing: