MyCleverGroup is pleased to announce that it has acquired 100% of the share capital of talent management software developer, Digital Balance.

This is MCG’s second acquisition as it looks to buy and build out its digital and cloud-based platforms, specialising in making it easier for organisations to embrace technology.

Digital Balance employs 15 people and specialises in the development of software solutions that help organisations manage and engage with their workforce through a range of cloud based products, from learning management, mentoring, skills and talent solutions, event management, appraisal systems and community sites. Digital Balance was founded in 2013 and has quickly grown a long list of high profile clients including the likes of L’Oreal, Santander, Talk Talk, Now TV and BT, along with many other well known national and international brands.

MyCleverGroup’s CEO, Gareth Mobley, said, ‘We are really excited to announce this acquisition. As part of MyCleverGroup, Digital Balance is now in an ideal position to expand and offer its learning, talent and development solutions to new clients while maintaining the world class service levels they are noted for to its existing client base. The team, culture, working ethos and track record at Digital Balance are a perfect fit with what we look for at MyCleverGroup’.

Chris Keeling, COO of Digital Balance, commented, ‘We’ve already identified a number of key appointments that we’re looking to make over the next 12 months to help us fulfil our mission of helping organisations to better engage with their employee base through the use of our technology. We’re delighted to be joining the MCG family and see the backing of a well invested group as essential for us to maximise the potential at DB.’

Digital Balance will continue to invest heavily into increasing its proprietary cloud based technologies, building on its well invested foundations and growing its in-house team from 15 people to over 30 in the coming months, further increasing their service offering and capabilities.

Nicky Hoyland, CCO of Digital Balance, explained, ‘We’ve quickly become the ‘go to’ people for organisations looking to digitise engagement with their colleagues. We have well over 1 million users of our systems globally, with the majority of our new business coming from recommendations, which points to our clients and users being really happy with what we do. This next chapter is hugely exciting because it will allow us to invest more in making what we do even better, and will help us to scale up our reach.’

Gareth continued, ‘Day to day, the guys will remain firmly at the helm of Digital Balance to ensure it continues to do great things, but as part of the deal, Nicky and Chris have both become directors and shareholders in MyCleverGroup, and the board is really looking forward to their contribution and working closely with them as we grow. They’ve already demonstrated that they are highly innovative, with a clear focus on delivering exceptional levels of customer service.

‘MyCleverGroup wants to make the use of technology in organisations simple, taking the jargon and pain away. It’s a hugely exciting time to be a part of MCG, and we are very pleased to have the team at Digital Balance on board alongside Harrison Carloss. We recently invested £2m in our HQ on Festival park, and as part of this deal we are investing a further £200,000 to accommodate the DB team later on in the year.’

MCG now has a talent pool of over 40 people, with the majority currently based at our HQ in Stoke, and further offices opened in London and Manchester. By leveraging clever yet simple technology, MCG can help drive top line growth and profitability, whilst enhancing both customer and colleague engagement.

A blockbusting start to 2019 for Reels in Motion has been capped by a listing in the UK’s Top  50 Production Companies list by Televisual magazine. Stoke-on-Trent based Reels in Motion are the only Staffordshire production house to make the industry list.

Director Matt Hubbard said: “Our financial year has started with the best ever financial figures we have ever experienced and to make the top 50 for the second successive year is a fantastic achievement.

“The Reels in Motion team sat down in 2016 and committed to making the list by 2022. We have now made the Top 50 in 2018 and 2019 and this puts us in an elite category in our industry. It is fuelling success and we are now known on a national as well as a regional stage.

New client wins in 2019 include Saladmaster, Valour Hospitality, EU Automation and the British Chambers of Commerce. 

Founded 16 years ago, Reels in Motion has grown to work for some of the UK’s major brands. Co-owners Matt,  Joe Gordon and Phil Bland have grown the business from small beginnings in an office at Staffordshire University business village and now have a 10-strong team. A major step change came with the opening of the company’s own studio complex, the Production House, Tunstall, in 2017.

“We have grown year on year since the start, but taking the leap of faith to open the Production House has been a huge boost,” said Matt. “We invested around £250,000 and created a state of the art facility which gave us the ability to shoot large scale productions in our own studios. Large companies from London, Manchester and across the whole UK are recognising Reels in Motion’s production values and are coming to Stoke-on-Trent to shoot corporate videos.

“The Televisual list is dominated by film makers from the big cities and we are so proud to be in there representing the Potteries and Staffordshire. It puts Reels in Motion in the top one per cent of video production companies in the UK and places us firmly amongst the elite in our industry.

“Our team of creatives have fully committed to our vison and making the Televisual Top 50, two years in succession is reward for all of the hard work, creativity, and passion that our team bring to all of our productions.  It puts us in position to continue our growth, providing more skilled, creative jobs for film staff in Stoke-on-Trent.”

 

Husband and wife team Tim and Suzanne Davy have seen rapid expansion in the growth of their business, Moorland Contract Cleaning (MCC) since its formation in 2012.

The business has reached a significant stage in its evolution coinciding with a recent move to new headquarters in an iconic refurbished building in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The growth has been no accident but is the result of years of business experience and some canny decisions along the way.

The company has grown over the past six years to a 170-employee operation working in over 80 customer locations. 2018 saw a move from a small office at home to brand new headquarters at Daisy Bank House in Cheadle, a former nursing home which has been converted to business use by Cheadle based Hewitt & Carr Architects (HCA).

The move has coincided with investment in IT and vehicles and has allowed MCC to create two full-time office-based positions to facilitate future growth.

Suzanne said: “Having committed to new offices at Daisy Bank House from the start we were able to have an influence on how our space was laid out were able to follow a bespoke approach to configuring the space for our specific needs. We already had a great relationship with Natalie Hewitt and Mark Carr, directors at HCA so it was easy for us to follow the project from inception in March to moving in in August 2018.”

Tim added: “On reflection it’s been an incredible journey to arrive where we are today. I’ve spent all my working life putting in long hours and always building business based on it being all about the customer. We pride ourselves on being hands-on and visible to customers and stakeholders.. We are experiencing rapid growth, but this is never at the expense of service delivery or support for employees and clients. We pride ourselves on the fact that customers can always talk to the decision maker by phone or by us travelling to their premises.”

MCC puts store in being integrated in the local business community. Suzanne has put a good deal of effort into making connections and building strong relationships with other businesses and clients.

Suzanne became President of the Staffordshire Moorlands Chamber of Commerce in 2017, a role which she will continue until late 2019. Suzanne added: “It’s been an honour to be elected President of my local Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber shares the same vision as our business in striving for growth through sustainable relationships and in increasing the prosperity of the local economy.”

So, what is the secret of a husband and wife team building a successful business? A prospect that may strike fear and dread in many a married couple. “Well defined roles!”, said Suzanne emphatically. “Tim looks after the operational service delivery whilst I deal with the commercial aspects including finance, compliance, HR and marketing.”

Tim added: “As the business has grown it has taken on a life of its own, however we both retain a clarity and focus of where we are heading. We are now extremely well positioned to continue onwards with the next phase of our growth plan.”

Mitten Clarke are gearing up to run The Potters ‘Arf in aid of The Donna Louise on Sunday 9th June. The firm of accountants support many local charities and love nothing better than a tough challenge.  The team have entered with two relay teams and three staff members running the full race.

The team would really appreciate your support to help reach their goal of £1,100.

This year Mitten Clarke are supporting The Butterflies, recently launched by The Donna Louise. The Butterflies is an inspiring, transformative art installation utilising iconic materials of Stoke on Trent – ceramics and metal. Thousands of ceramic and stainless steel butterflies are set to be put on show at Trentham Gardens. It was inspired by artist Charlotte Thom who used The Donna Louise Hospice for a decade before passing away last year. The installation, called Taking Flight, will raise vital funds for the Trentham-based charity and will be made up of 5,000 ceramic and 10,000 stainless steel butterflies.

If you’d like to donate please click here.

An accountancy firm launched just three years ago is celebrating continued growth after more than quadrupling its team, and its turnover.

Sempar, based in Newcastle under Lyme, has increased its turnover on average £180,000 year-on-year between 2016 and 2019, with the business appointing nine members of staff to support its growing client base. Set up in March 2016 by qualified and experienced accountant Steve Timmis, alongside Aludia Binos, the duo began building the brand with a real emphasis on customer service and client satisfaction, seeing them invest heavily in the organisation’s operations.

Steve Timmis, Managing Director of Sempar, explained: “The last three years have been an absolute whirlwind and while it’s not been without its challenges of course, I’m so proud of the brand and the ethical principles that we stand for.

“We’ve recruited some of the most forward-thinking people in the business and their diverse mix of knowledge, talent and skills has been integral to enhancing the service and value we bring to clients.   Our entire ethos is centred around the needs of our clients and that’s why when we recruit, we’re looking for people who have a natural enthusiasm, and a can do, will do attitude.

“This combined enthusiasm and eagerness to always enhance our service offer has seen us invest heavily in our technology, systems and processes, including the introduction of cloud-based and real-time systems, as well as automation — allowing our team to cut out unnecessary admin and focus on what matters most to our clients.

“The systems we’ve integrated have also revolutionised the way we all work by increasing not only our own, but our clients’ efficiencies, enabling them to view their books and business performance in the most innovative ways and from anywhere in real-time. That, in turn, helps them to make really well-informed business decisions.”

Sempar has also seen three office moves within the Lymedale Business Park, with the team now occupying one of the biggest spaces in the centre. They have also set up a collaborative ‘video suite’ where staff can record end of year account client updates, host video conferencing and create podcasts.

The team has grown to 11, with three high-level reporting managers, a team of five senior staff, two administrative and one personal assistant.

“With our team’s joint experience, we’re also working with more businesses to provide high-level advice and guidance as part of their overarching commercial strategy, supported by the launch of our new migration and advice service to ensure clients are utilising the very best software and technology for their accounting needs.

“It’s a very busy time for us all and we’re hugely excited about seeing the positive impact these investments will have on our existing clients and prospects across the Midlands and beyond,” Steve concluded.

This summer the New Vic Theatre stages the world-first in-the-round production of classic comedy-drama Brassed Off, the powerful story about community spirit in a Yorkshire mining town.

Director Conrad Nelson, whose Much Ado About Nothing – a co-production between New Vic and Northern Broadsides – is currently on tour across the country, returns to the New Vic to direct this new production of Paul Allen’s adaptation of Mark Herman’s lauded screenplay. Featuring rousing music performed live on stage by Crewe’s TCTC Group Champion Brass Band, the productions is on stage from Saturday 1 to Saturday 22 June.

A heart-warming story of triumph in the face of adversity, Brassed Off  follows the troubles of a 1994 Yorkshire mining community whose pit is on the brink of closure. With only the colliery brass band keeping spirits up, sights are set firmly on reaching the national brass band championships at the Royal Albert Hall. With conversations turning to talk of picket lines and redundancy packages, the miners are falling out of tune when Flugelhorn-playing Gloria brings hope to the band and the town.

Nelson brings together a talented cast of nine actor-musicians for the production. Martin Barrass (And Did Those Feet, Octagon Theatre Bolton; The Hypocrite, RSC) plays Danny; Howard Chadwick (Hard Times, Northern Broadsides; By Jeeves, Old Laundry Theatre) plays Harry; Andy Cresswell (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Torch; The Cherry Orchard, Young Vic) plays Jim; Clara Darcy (Hollyoaks, Channel4; Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch) plays Gloria; Susie Emmett (Anna of the Five Towns, New Vic Theatre; Abigail’s Party; Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch/Derby Theatre/Salisbury Playhouse) plays Sandra; William Fox (Suicide Kelly, Idle Work Factory film; Peterloo, Mike Leigh film) plays Phil; Natasha Lewis (Miss Littlewood, RSC; Peter Pan In Scarlet, New Vic Theatre/Oxford Playhouse) plays Vera; Nicolas Shaw (Wonderland, Nottingham Playhouse/Northern Stage; Nell Gwynn, Shakespeare’s Globe) plays Andy; and Helen Sheals (Judy and Liza, Liverpool Royal Court and tour; Through The Mill, Southwark Playhouse) plays Rita. The company are joined by members of the New Vic’s Community Theatre Company, drawn from the local Staffordshire area.

Mark Herman’s smash-hit BAFTA-nominated film captured the hearts of the nation upon its release in 1996, with Ewan McGregor, Pete Postlethwaite and Tara Fitzgerald in starring roles. Critically-acclaimed for its role in telling the story of the decline of the coal industry and promoting brass bands and their music, Brassed Off was adapted for the stage by Paul Allen in 1998.

 Tickets for Brassed Off are on sale now from the New Vic Theatre.

Totally Delicious has invested £40,000 in a bid to improve customer experience and makeover it’s food stores at a popular tourist destination. The investment at it’s Trentham Gardens venues will bring a range of benefits for customers. As well as a fresh new look, the company says visitors will also enjoy an improved service.

The changes have been brought in as the business prepares for the huge footfall throughout the summer season.

Following feedback from customers at Trentham Gardens, the Totally Delicious tea room has switched to counter service as part of the revamp to better meet the needs of its customers. Archive pictures from the iconic Trentham Gardens destination have been displayed throughout the tea room and as well as a stunning view of the award-winning attraction, beautiful greenery covers the bar area. The idea was to bring the outdoors garden theme inside.

At the Lakeside Cafe, a short walk away, the focus has again been on enhancing visitor experience with a new menu and reorganisation of the way customers are served.

Managing director Dominic Bowers said: “Our team will be concentrating even more closely on service delivery while maintaining the friendly and welcoming environment we are known for. “Attention to detail is very important to us – from keeping our surroundings fresh and interesting for customers to providing a wider and improved menu choice.”

The two venues were closed at staggered times during a short period to accommodate the makeover and ensure disruption was kept at a minimum for customers.

Both food stores now offer new menus, with vegan options added to the selection available at the tea room. More ready to eat snacks will be freshly prepared and stored to hand in the chillers within the kiosk while at Lakeside, visitors will be able to enjoy a new range of cookies, pastries, salads and fruit pots.

Dominic added: “One of the biggest improvements for customers is a more efficient service, particularly in the tea room. Bringing in counter service means customers are served more quickly and won’t have to wait for their bill to be brought to their table. We also have more ‘grab and go’ items and updated menus.

“Investing this money in our venues keeps them interesting for customers and helps us to continually build on our unrivalled tea room and café experience.”

 

Online registration for The Donna Louise’s 5k and 10k races closes this weekend (Sunday 12th May).

Runners wanting to sign up for either distance, which will be held at Trentham Gardens on Sunday 19th May, can register online at www.thedonnalouise.org/run to ensure their place or call The Donna Louise on 01782 654444.

Runners of all ages and abilities can sign up for the 5k race, which is once around the lake at Trentham Gardens. Participants can run, hop or skip around the course in their own time and fancy dress is more than encouraged – there will even be prizes for the best costumes.For more experienced runners there is a 10k distance (twice around the lake) which is recognised under the UK Athletics Certificate of Course. Race times for the 10k will be recorded using a time chip system with all results available by the following day at www.chiptiming.co.uk

Event Manager at The Donna Louise, Zoë Gregory, said, “It’s just over a week until our Family Fun Run and hundreds of people have already signed up. In addition to our runners, anyone wanting to cheer on their friends and family is also more than welcome.

“All runners and spectators must use the park & ride service from the south carpark at bet365 stadium, where they’ll receive a wristband which will give them entry to Trentham Gardens.”

The park & ride service will be provided by First Buses. The first buses will leave the bet365 stadium at 7.30am and will run every few minutes throughout the morning. After the race, buses will then return runners and spectators to the stadium, from 11am, with the last bus leaving Trentham Gardens at 2.30pm.

There will be limited places available to register on the day, but anyone wishing to sign up for either race is strongly recommended to register online before Sunday or call The Donna Louise on 01782 654444 to register by phone next week.

In celebration of Staffordshire Day on 1st May, Freeths LLP were pleased to host a breakfast morning at Poveys Oatcakes who have been producing traditional Staffordshire Oatcakes for over 25 years, using a special secret family recipe. Staffordshire Day was the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything Staffordshire and what better way than to celebrate than with the city’s famous delicacy – the oatcake! Delegates were treated to an insight into how oatcakes are made as part of the World’s Biggest Oatcake Morning in aid of The Donna Louise Trust.

The event was part of Freeths “Stoke Business Spotlight”  – a regular event where the team partner up with other local businesses to showcase their business. The aim is to highlight and celebrate everything which is good about our supportive business community and to encourage new businesses and interest to the city.  Each event also features a charity fundraiser in aid of The Donna Louise Trust.

Peter Gavin, Managing Partner of Freeths’ Stoke Office said; “we have many excellent businesses like Povey’s Oatcakes in North Staffordshire. We hope that these events will encourage them to showcase their talents and shout out loud what a fantastic place it is to do business.”

 

Trentham-based Acacia Training has funded the installation of an Auto External Defibrillator (AED) at a support centre for armed forces veterans in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre.

The life-saving equipment means that people visiting the Tri Services and Veteran Support Centre in Hassell Street, will have quicker access to urgent defib treatment in the event of a cardiac arrest. The equipment will also be available to help anyone in nearby shops, restaurants or offices.

The AED machine will be installed to mark this year’s #StaffordshireDay celebrations to show support for armed forces personnel in Staffordshire. 

Acacia Training funded the £2,000 installation after signing the Armed Forces Covenant, which pledges the company’s support to services personnel past, present and future.

Acacia Training director, Victoria Sylvester, explains: “Two of our valued team members at Acacia are RAF veterans who now deliver mental health first aid training to our customers. Through working with them, we have developed a much better understanding of the support that needs to be there for anyone leaving the forces. Homelessness, addictions, physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder and unemployment are just some of the challenges that can be faced.

We have committed to several actions as part of our pledge to the Armed Forces Covenant. One of those was to raise funds and support charities who do fantastic work to support our country’s veterans.

She adds: “The Tri Services and Veteran Support centre has helped more than 2,800 people with things like finding homes, getting appropriate mental health support, and providing a friendly and understanding place for them to go.

We hope it helps them to have this potentially life-saving medical equipment in their centre if their visitors or someone nearby suffers a sudden cardiac arrest. We are proud to have worked with Tri Services and the charity AEDDonate to get this AED installed.”

James Russell, Head of Community and Education at AEDdonate concludes: “There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. The overall survival rate in the UK is less than 1 in 10.

However, there is a 50-70 percent increase in surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest with an AED and CPR within 3-5 minutes. That’s why it’s so vital that we increase the number of defibrillators in our communities and why this new machine will be one of the first to be installed as part of our ‘Staffordshire1000’ campaign, which aims to get 1,000 more community access defibrillators across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.”

For more information about the local support on offer to armed forces veterans, please visit www.veteransupportcentre.org

Visit www.aeddonate.org.uk to find out how to support the ‘Staffordshire1000’ campaign.

Acacia Training is a family business based in Stoke on Trent, providing apprenticeships and training across the UK. Specialisms include health and social care, early years education, beauty, dental nursing and mental health first aid. Visit www.acaciatraining.co.uk