Surveying for our latest Quarterly Economic Survey is now open. We would love to hear from firms of all shapes and sizes – whether starts ups, sole traders, SMEs, medium sized or large corporations – to help create an accurate picture of the business landscape across Staffordshire.

The QES survey results will allow us to find out more about your business and some of the issues you’re having. It’s so important that we understand your challenges in order to raise these issues in national and regional government. Your responses will remain completely anonymous.

Whether you’re a seasoned director or new to your company, please spare just a few minutes to fill in the survey. Thank you for taking part!

Complete the survey here.

We’re excited to share that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has been shortlisted for an award in the category of Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year at the National Enterprise Network Awards.

 

The nomination is for the success of the Chamber programmes Boosting Women in Business, Back Her Business and Start-Up Membership. These all aim to support individuals, from any background or circumstance, to start a business through a tailored programme of workshops and one-to-one advice.

 

Established in 2007, the National Enterprise Network Awards recognise excellence in the delivery of enterprise support, encouraging the exchange of good practice and the development of improved services and organisations.

 

“We are delighted that the success of our projects has been recognised by such a prestigious institution,” said Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. “Through the delivery of these projects we have helped over 300 individuals with start-up business support over the last 12 months which has led to the creation of 141 new businesses”.

 

Alex Till, Chairman, National Enterprise Network said: “The organisations featured on the 2019 National Enterprise Network Awards shortlist have all clearly demonstrated excellence in the delivery of enterprise support or work taking place in educational settings which are focused on embedding entrepreneurial spirt and enterprise into this environment. We’ve always been proud of the work of our members and wider network and congratulate everyone who has been shortlisted”.

We’ll find out if we’ve won when the winners are announced at an award ceremony on Friday 22nd November at Canary Wharf, London.

We want to say a big thank you to everyone who came along and was a part of this year’s Staffordshire Business Festival. Six hundred people joined us this week at Keele University for a range of talks, seminars and workshops.

Day one launched with a keynote speech by Georg Ell, CEO of the digital company Smoothwall and the former Western Europe Director at Tesla, sharing his experience in working for digital and sustainable businesses. The day then saw sessions ranging from what businesses can do to reduce their environmental impact to sustainable marketing.

The second day opened with an inspiring keynote from Kate Beardmore of Synectics Solutions, followed by interactive workshops and seminars including speed networking for social good, wellbeing within the workplace, and a mental health workshop. The day was rounded off with good food, drinks and entertainment at our gala dinner at the impressive Keele Hall.

We hope you enjoyed the festival and found it a valuable experience. The Chamber runs a programme of events throughout the year – take a look at our events calendar to see what’s coming up. https://staffordshirechambers.co.uk/events-cal/

JCB’s award-winning first electric digger will be on display on the first day of the Staffordshire Business Festival on 5th November.

Developed at JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire and built at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffordshire, the digger has impressive eco credentials and is the industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. The digger has just won the RAC’s Dewar Trophy for ‘Outstanding Technical Achievement in the British Automotive Industry’- one of the most prestigious award in the automotive industry.

“We’re delighted to be showcasing JCB’s innovative electric digger at the Staffordshire Business Festival,” says Chamber CEO Sara Williams. “Sustainable business is a key focus for the Chamber and it’s great to see businesses in the county such as JCB taking a lead on developing eco-friendly products and initiatives.”

Come along to the Staffordshire Business Festival for your opportunity to see this impressive digger.

Simple Shared Healthcare (SSHC) is a social enterprise based in Stoke-on-Trent and founded by Phil O’Connell. Their telehealth services are supporting patients’ health from Staffordshire to Australia, helping people self-care for their medical conditions.

Stoke-on-Trent IT innovator Phil O’Connell has spent years perfecting telehealth services supporting patients with health needs, from heart problems to mental health issues. SSHC’s systems, known as Flo, Annie and Nellie, were developed by Phil who then assigned the intellectual property to the NHS. Once a shared clinical management plan is configured, the simple and intuitive technology operates automatically, connecting patients to the friendly persona (Flo or Annie) using a mobile phone, apps, landline or Bluetooth devices.

After joining Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce earlier this year, Simple Shared Healthcare was made aware of the Chambers’ Let’s Do Mentoring programme and decided to take advantage of the free at the point of delivery mentoring hours available to any business in the county.

Phil was introduced to Tom Yeung, a volunteer mentor and owner of Success Management, which has worked with scores of companies to help with building successful businesses, change management and strategic development.

“We have grown organically and now needed guidance from our mentor to ensure we have the right structures to futureproof the business,” explains Phil. “Tom wanted me to feel like I could let go of some of the tasks within the business as we have an extremely talented team with the ability to take responsibility. A focus on revenue is critical as all income generated is reinvested for the benefit of patients.”

Phil and Tom have met regularly since Spring 2019. As the SSHC team are home workers, they have taken advantage of meeting room facilities at Staffordshire Chambers’ Commerce House, Festival Park, to hold whole team sessions with Tom.

“Our mentoring goal was to create a successful, long-term sustainable business,” says Tom. “I approached the mentoring with an open mind as I wanted to understand where Phil’s business needed to get to, what roles were people playing and whether there were any barriers to overcome. The scope of Simple Shared Healthcare is huge, and we identified that we needed to get the structure right.”

This mentoring support has helped Phil and his team develop a clear business plan, define job roles and responsibility, and focus on marketing and sales. “The mentoring has emphasised where we had gaps and allowed us to consider how to fill them,” says Phil.

The support from the Let’s Do Mentoring programme has helped Phil develop Simple Shared Healthcare so the business can continue to grow and succeed.

Apprentices attended a workshop on Tuesday 22nd October as part of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s new programme, NexGen, which aims to support the skills development of young apprentices in the county. The workshop, ‘Introduction to Relationship Management and Stakeholder Communications’, covered the basics of good relationship management to build long standing relationships.

12 apprentices from a range of employers, including Michelin, Ornua Foods, Stone Computers, Keele University, and Strategi Solutions, attended the workshop at the Chambers’ Stoke-on-Trent office. The session started with brief networking and introductions and then Jonathan Nicholls, Talent Resourcing Executive at Strategi Solutions, explored the importance of stakeholder communications including hints and tips about how to communicate using phone, email and face to face.

NexGen is a series of innovative CPD workshops, coupled with social sessions amongst like-minded individuals, to support apprentices with developing their own local, strong networks and skills. The programme of workshops covers areas such as basic presentation skills, Meet the Leader interviews, understanding your character and learning styles, business communication skills, dealing with difficult feedback and more. This support will enable apprentices to perform better in their roles and provides them with the support they require to progress.

Tom Nadin, Mentoring Growth Project Manager, said: “NexGen is all about supporting Staffordshire businesses to develop the future skills talent that the county needs. Our first professional development workshop was a great success, with the apprentices developing their skills to help them manage communications with both internal and external stakeholders. It was also fantastic to see the apprentices networking and sharing their experiences with each other and we will look forward to welcoming them to our next session on teamwork.”

For more information about NexGen or to sign up today please call 01782 202222, email membership@staffordshirechambers.co.uk or visit staffordshirechambers.co.uk

A long-term plan to coordinate future development and economic growth opportunities across Staffordshire has been approved by the county council’s cabinet.

 

The county’s Strategic Infrastructure Plan (SIP) will support the construction of new homes and ensure these communities are provided with job opportunities, high quality transport, leisure facilities and excellent digital connections. It will tie in with the county’s green agenda and the development of the Local Industrial Strategy.

 

The SIP will give evidence and provide a county wide overview to inform policy makers, potential developers, investors, transport organisations and energy and waste companies. The plan demonstrates the county council’s role as a strategic authority in coordinating future development and the infrastructure needed so that it can take place. It will also support funding bids to the Government and investors.

 

The SIP ties in with the local plans of all the county’s district and boroughs, along with the city of Stoke-on-Trent. It includes information about planned development in Staffordshire’s neighbouring border areas so that infrastructure can be put in place earlier on in the process and ensure the effective running of the county’s roads and community facilities.

 

Areas which will see larger scale homes development and employment site construction in the coming years include the Stafford Gateway and Burleyfields, Branston Locks near Burton, Liberty Park in Lichfield, Tamworth golf course, Rugeley power station, Keele Science and Innovation Park, Biddulph and Codsall.

 

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Housing development is an essential part of Staffordshire’s continued economic growth, ensuring we have thriving communities across our county. This development needs to be carefully planned and coordinated, considering neighbouring areas, transport infrastructure, community facilities and leisure provision.

 

“The Strategic Infrastructure Plan brings together the evidence needed for planners, investors, health and community providers and energy companies to promote the longer-term thinking necessary for future development. Crucially it also demonstrates to the Government and investors that we have a strategy in place to enable us to secure funding we will need to carry out our plans.

 

“This high-level plan for Staffordshire will stimulate better coordination to ensure new communities have excellent schools, healthcare, leisure and community facilities, in addition to protecting established town and village residential areas.”

A Staffordshire contract cleaning company is moving into new markets following a £50,000 cash injection from Michelin Development.

Cheadle-based Moorland Contract Cleaning is using the funding to launch a new division, providing janitorial supplies that feature greener formulations and sustainable packaging. Over the next three years, the business is forecasting turnover to double and more than 10 full time positions to be created as a result of the expansion.

Founded by Tim and Suzanne Davy in 2012, Moorland Contract Cleaning operates in the commercial, retail, leisure, industrial and educational sectors across the Midlands and Yorkshire. The company applied to Michelin Development to support its ambitious plans after largely self-financing the business over the years.

Michelin Development offers subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000, for projects with the potential to create quality, sustainable jobs.

Suzanne Davy said: “We are very passionate about high quality standards of cleaning and providing a service that is second to none and our business has gone from strength-to-strength based on these values. The move into janitorial supplies feels like a natural progression for us.

“By expanding our supplier base, we can introduce greener; environmental practices into our own cleaning contracts and expand our market by offering a much wider ranges of cleaning materials, equipment, washroom products and cleaning machines through a fully managed service.

“The support from Michelin Development has been invaluable for us to take the next step. It is helping us to manage the projected growth of the cleaning business overall, coupled with the diversification into janitorial supplies, and has given us the confidence to move forward.

“It is a great service for ambitious businesses looking to scale up.”

Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other North Staffordshire businesses looking to achieve the next stage of growth. Mr Cole said: “Moorland Contract Cleaning is a great example of a business looking to expand, create new jobs and support the local economy as a whole.

“Our message to other small businesses with the same mindset is that we are here to help.

“We have the funds in place, but we need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community. The companies we can help know their markets and figures and they just need a little extra support to move along on their growth journey. That is where we can step in to help.”

To find out more visit www.michelindevelopment.co.uk

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Bibby Financial Services (BFS) have revealed that uncertainty around Brexit, tariffs and exchange rate volatility are holding back the potential of many UK exporters.

The recent survey included 1,140 internationally active UK businesses, and found that general uncertainty around Brexit was considered the top barrier to export, listed by almost half (47%) of businesses, followed by specific concerns around tariffs and exchange rate volatility, listed by 35% and 33% respectively.

Administrative requirements or regulation were considered a barrier by 30% of businesses and the lack of free trade agreements by 23%. Only 7% of internationally active businesses said that they do not face any exporting barriers.

It is not only internationally active UK businesses that being held back from exporting. Among businesses that currently only trade in the UK (338 respondents), just 17% say that they do not face any barriers to export. Therefore, 83% face barriers to reaching their potential.

The lack of clarity around the UK’s future trading environment is clearly taking its toll. General uncertainty around Brexit is considered the top barrier to export by UK-only businesses (listed by 31%) as well.

As a result, amongst businesses currently trading only in the UK, just 7% per cent expect to begin importing or exporting over the next three years.

The research also highlighted the issues that businesses are increasingly facing in relation to stockpiling, payments and the transportation of goods. When asked about business changes experienced over the past 12 months:

  • around a third (31%) of businesses reported that they had increased the volume of inventory held;
  • 15% reported that it already takes longer to transport goods to and/or from overseas, even before the UK’s exit from the European Union; and
  • almost a third (29%) reported that it takes longer to get paid by customers.

Commenting on the results, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General said:

“UK businesses are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty on multiple trading fronts – and, unsurprisingly, they’re holding back on importing and exporting.

“Just this week, the government finally provided some certainty around tariffs – but, the damage of uncertainty was already done for many firms.

“While international trade always involves an element of risk for businesses, government should be working to lower barriers rather than increasing them. Preventing a messy and disorderly Brexit is the immediate priority, but ensuring continuity of trade with third countries and providing firms with clear and timely information about future trade processes, would go a long way to removing unnecessary obstacles.”

Edward Winterton, UK Chief Executive, Bibby Financial Services, added:

“Chronic uncertainty resulting from Brexit is undoubtedly stifling international trade amongst UK SMEs. Importers and exporters are in limbo, and many are postponing investment decisions, while they await further information. Many others are focusing resources on ensuring they’re prepared to deal with the potential impacts of a no-deal scenario.

“SMEs are telling us that they need clarity over the detail, and it’s imperative that the Government looks to provide this as soon as possible to enable businesses to trade with confidence, both domestically and internationally.”

 

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce members will be able to check out customers’ credit-worthiness and access a 5.2m business database at a discounted rate as part of a deal with information services firm Experian

The Chamber B2B Listbuilder gives members access to the Experian database of email, post and telephone information for businesses, while the Staffordshire Chambers Creditcheck allows them to check out the credit-worthiness of potential suppliers and customers in the UK and abroad.

Both will be offered at a 25% discount as part of the deal.

The Creditcheck service enables members to monitor customers and suppliers by receiving alerts on changes to their financial status such as credit scores, county court judgments and late payments and to better understand their customers’ payment patterns to help manage their cash flow.

Chamber chief executive Sara Williams said: “The launch of our B2B Listbuilder and Creditcheck schemes, provided by such a well-known brand as Experian, provides a further reason for businesses to join your chamber and boost your business’s success.”

Jonathan De Gilbert, partnership manager at Experian, said “Experian is proud to be partnering with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. We are passionate about supporting UK businesses and want to help the chamber in supporting businesses across the region.

“We’ve been helping UK businesses for over 20 years to protect and grow their operations. Our products are specifically created for small and medium enterprises to help manage credit risk, target marketing offers and automate decision making.”

Staffordshire Chamber B2B Listbuilder and Creditcheck are only available to members of the chamber. Any Staffordshire-based business interested in joining the Chamber should contact Karena Pawlak via email karena.pawlak@staffordshirechambers.co.uk or call 01782 202222.