The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Get ready for Carbon Trading

by Chris Hallam, Pinsent Masons

The Carbon Reduction Commitment is a new mandatory carbon emissions trading scheme that aims to improve energy efficiency and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the UK. Many landlords, tenants and developers will be obliged to participate in the scheme. The CRC will result in additional costs for poor performers and potentially cost benefits for good performers.

As a general rule the CRC will apply to any organisation that is a customer of an energy supplier and has a total electricity use in 2008 of at least 6,000MWh (equivalent to an annual bill of £500k upwards). It is thought that around 5,000 organisations will be caught. The electricity use of a UK corporate group of parents and subsidiaries will be aggregated and if the group meets the threshold, it will be required to participate in the CRC. There will also be provision for treating groups within the group separately if they would qualify in their own right. Likely qualifying organisations include large retailers, banks, supermarkets, hotel chains, restaurant chains, telecommunications companies, government departments, large local authorities and universities.

A further 15,000 organisations with half hourly meters that do not hit the 6,000MWh threshold will be obliged to make information disclosures under the scheme and in some cases report their annual energy use. From April 2010, each participant organisation will be required to register and report emissions. From April 2011, each participant will be required to buy and, at the end of each scheme year, cancel the number of "emissions allowances" that corresponds with its total carbon dioxide emissions. From April 2013, Government will limit the total allowances available by placing a "cap" on the number released to the market, which will decrease over time, thus providing the incentive to achieve ongoing emissions reductions. Participants will be able to trade allowances amongst themselves, selling surplus allowances left over as a result of exceeding emission reduction targets, or buying additional allowances if targeted reductions are not met. Those that do not have sufficient allowances at the end of each year will be subject to a stringent penalty regime.

CRC participants will be ranked in a league table according to their success in reducing emissions. Depending on where an organisation is sitting in the table, a bonus or penalty payment will be applied to the participant. Between landlords and tenants, the general rule is that the party who holds the contract with the energy supplier is the person responsible for CRC compliance. Questions therefore arise as to whether and how the parties should share the costs and any benefits of the CRC. This will require analysis of existing leases and drafting to cover the issues in new leases. It is clear that Government expects the property industry to develop good practice in this area. How green will your leases be?

Pinsent Masons is playing a leading part in the industry debate and played a central role in the preparation of the Better Buildings Partnership's Green Lease Toolkit, which offers a pilot approach to both existing and new leases. Once the CRC Regulations are laid later this year, so the industry approach to drafting will develop. We can expect to see significant further developments over the next quarter. The CRC does not just bring in new onerous obligations. The availability of bonuses, the potential to trade surplus allowances at a profit and the reduced energy costs that should result from reducing emissions are all opportunities to use the CRC to improve your bottom line. You should be looking now at:
  • how your business can reduce its carbon emissions over the long term;

  • how you will allocate responsibility for CRC in your contractual relationships

  • what you can do now to make the most of the opportunities available and gain a competitive edge

For further information please contact or

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Top 10 Tips: Recession busting for businesses

Jonathan Chadwick, commercial litigation partner at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, provides his top ten tips for business owners struggling to stay secure in the current financial climate:

1. Treat Cash as King
This is your first priority. Daily monitoring is worthwhile over the next years of recession, as a lack of money is why businesses fail over any other reason.

2. Monitor your business against a plan
Monthly revisions are a good method for reviewing your constantly changing financial security. Be clear what your key performance indicators (KPIs) are and adapt them if necessary.

3. Hold regular team meetings
Brief weekly meetings, orientated around current performance results, are a useful tool for development, delegation and maintaining focus on business KPIs.

4. Regularly update cash-flow forecasts
This is especially critical if you have a seasonal business or if you have to make occasionally large cash payments. Once again, careful noting of all financial matters is key to survival.

5. If there is a conflict between profitability and cash-flow, take the cash-flow option
This may be difficult to do but remember a business ceases to exist when it runs out of money. Make sure you can meet the next payroll or satisfy creditors demands for payments of essential supplies above all else.

6. If you have a loan or overdraft, be aware of any covenants
Covenants are the rules that the banks attach to bank borrowings and are based on a series of controlling financial ratios. Breaking covenants could result in a painful loss of your business to a bank’s beckoning hands.

7. Research new sources of finance
With new lending options springing up across the financial sector, take time to investigate whether there are better financing options available for your company. Be sure to not break the contractual arrangements already set up with your current lender.

8. Know your customers
Why do they buy your product? What do they think of it? What is their lifestyle? Questions like these can be incorporated in an up-to-date consumer profile for your business. Understanding the needs of your customers is key to keeping your products fresh and in demand.

9. Do not stop marketing
Other companies may start to limit their marketing during budget constraints, but now is the time to get your product noticed. Well designed marketing schemes can generate new avenues of business and establish a wider customer base that can compensate for a dip in consumer spending.

10. Clean house
It’s not an endearing prospect, but removing parts of your company that have outgrown their usefulness can save valuable finances and build a cushion for long-term uncertainty. Be sure to adhere to redundancy regulations and proper dismissal guidelines, as cleaning can quickly becoming costly if not handled properly.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Legal briefing for construction firms: competitive activity

Local Construction firms will be able to find out about the effects of the recent Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation into anti –competitive activities in the construction sector in the second in our series of legal updates being organised in partnership with Pinsent Masons LLP and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. The event will be at Pinsent Masons’ Offices in Spinningfields Manchester, on 11 November, from 4.30pm.

The OFT investigation resulted in fines of nearly £130m being imposed on 103 contractors for engaging in a range anti-competitive practices, including cover pricing. This session will consider what lessons can be learned from the investigation and how construction and engineering companies can mitigate the risks of being caught up in any future investigations, where the penalties for non-compliance are likely to be even more severe.

Future events in the series will cover key industry topics as waste management, health & safety, employment law and project financing.

For further information and to book a place contact the events team on 0161 875 2359 or email:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Free event: learn about trading opportunities in Europe

by Rodolphe Soulard, Business Adviser, European Enterprise Network

The Enterprise Europe Network team have organised a free event for Northwest businesses to raise awareness of a number of spending packages announced by France, Spain and Germany to promote trading opportunities in their countries, in response to the global economic downturn.

The event, supported by the NWDA and UK Trade and Investment, is taking place on Wednesday 4th November at Blackburn Rovers Enterprise Centre. Advice will focus on specific sectors including renewable energy/environmental, construction and infrastructure.

There are many great business opportunities to be had in Europe and with the current economic instability in the UK there is no better time to take advantage of the packages available to expand into the EU.
Experienced international trade advisers, specialist lawyers & representatives from our Northwest team will present the latest information on the opportunities. Individuals can meet with advisers to discuss trading prospects in a one-to-one consultation and complementary networking lunch is included.

If you'd like to book a free place or to find out more please call the Enterprise Europe Network Team on 0161 875 2325 or email

Monday, 26 October 2009


Over 6,500 visitors have pre-registered for Business North West, one of the UK’s largest and most successful business exhibition and conference. This is a 15% increase compared to the same time last year. Organiser Nationwide Media Group regards the healthy figure as strong evidence that the region’s decision makers are ready to win new business and make useful contacts.

The annual event at Manchester Central on October 28th and 29th is supported by Greater Manchester Chamber. The Chamber will also have a stand at the exhibition.

Michelle Mone, the creator of the UK’s leading lingerie brand Ultimo, has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the Manchester Evening News Breakfast to be held on the first day of Business North West. Kell Ryan, founding member of Ryanair, will address the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce sponsored breakfast on the second day.

Visitors to the event will have a range of additional features including; keynote speakers in the Business Link Innovation Lounge, the Angels Den Theatre, the Google University, a programme of ‘How to’ seminars from local business experts and the Sustainable Hub.

For further information on Business North West and to register for free tickets visit:

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Free event: European trading opportunities for Northwest business
The Enterprise Europe Network team have organised a free event for Northwest businesses to raise awareness of a number of spending packages announced by France, Spain and Germany to promote trading opportunities in their countries, in response to the global economic downturn.

Commenting on the GDP figures released today, Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber, said: "These figures are obviously disappointing as many people were predicting positive growth and an end to the recession.

Member News: Five new faces for Tangerine PR
Tangerine PR has recruited five new team members who join the company this month to support recent client wins and bolster existing account teams.

BNY Mellon, which employs 950 people in Manchester, and Skills Solutions have jointly won a national accolade for their innovative training programmes.

Warrington-based Optima:RM has recorded 12 consecutive months of growth since launching its new outsourced sales ledger management service in summer 2008. The switch has enabled it to deal with every stage of the order to cash cycle.

Member News: YELL links up with RoSPA to focus on road safety
Yell, the directories business, is taking steps to keep its people safe when they are driving for work by linking up with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to manage occupational road risk.

Member News: Wilmslow's office market set to receive significant boost
Wilmslow's office market is set to receive a significant boost next week with the launch of a new £1.4 million Grade A speculative office development.

Jaime Markey (pictured right), founder and managing director of Manchester based JAMpr, has been named as one of the UK's brightest stars in public relations under the age of 29, in PR Week's annual '29 under 29' awards.

In what has been a challenging year for the Greater Manchester’s Property Sector, local firms can find out about key future plans and development in the area at an event being organised by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 3 November.

Business leaders in Greater Manchester spelt out the key transport issues facing the region at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, today (21 October).

A third of organisations have slashed customer service training this year – but with Christmas looming it could spell trouble at the tills.

Member News: Small businesses suffer from cuts in marketing budgets by professional advisers
Owner-managed businesses are being deprived of expert advice on how to survive the recession because of huge cutbacks in marketing budgets, according to accountants and business advisors Beever and Struthers.

Greater Manchester Chamber says the postal strike will have a bad impact on businesses.

Major civil engineering work started at Bickershaw South, near Leigh, this week after the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) appointed Birse Civils to prepare the former colliery site for redevelopment.

Local businesses can discover the cost benefits of reducing their environmental impact at a breakfast briefing being organised by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at its offices in Warren Bruce Court, Trafford Park on 28 October.

Registrations for both The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For and Best Companies Accreditation closes Friday 30th October 2009.

Member News: Pozzoni listed as a top construction employer
Pozzoni, the Altrincham-based architecture practice has been listed within the UK construction industry's top 50 good employers. The national Good Employer Guide has been announced, also placing Pozzoni within the top five architecture practices in the UK by Building magazine.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is welcoming a regional financial intermediary service for small businesses.

Transport bosses in Greater Manchester are paying for extra carriages on train services running on the Rochdale and Huddersfield lines from today.

Business North West showcases seminars from online experts
Visitors to Business North West will learn how to maximise their company's online presence in a series of free seminars from online specialists at Google. The Business North West exhibition, which takes place at on 28th and 29th October, will feature the talks in the Google University Theatre.

Member News: Generation Pop Gallery secures legendary music artwork
Leading Manchester art gallery - Generation Pop - has become the only gallery outside of London to represent the great Jamie Reid. This legendary artist, responsible for the ‘Never Mind the Bollocks' artwork and many other album covers of the Sex Pistols, is the man that put the safety pin through Her Majesty's lower lip.

There were more than 50 delegates for "Roll out the Red Tape", the inaugural Legal Update Session for the construction industry , hosted in partnership by international law firm Pinsent Masons and the Greater Manchester Chamber.

International logistics and freight forwarding company, Tuscor Lloyds (UK) Ltd is expanding its Manchester based global operations. Whilst retaining its present building in Trafford Park, Tuscor Lloyds is moving into new premises (pictured right) in the landmark Quay West building in Manchester's Salford Quays

The latest edition of Building On, the construction and engineering newsletter from international law firm and GM Chamber member Pinsent Masons, is now available

Friday, 23 October 2009

First Buses strike action - Monday 26th October

Hundreds of bus routes will be hit this Monday as First Group drivers across the UK take strike action.

GMPTE is advising passengers to explore alternative travel options for Monday and to expect demand on services provided by other operators, as well as on trains and trams, to be significantly greater. Extra time should also be allowed for journeys.

Details of which First services will not run, together with - where appropriate - services that will be provided by alternative operators, are available from

Information is also available from or by calling First's Customer Careline helpdesk on 0845 788 1155 and selecting option two.

UK still in recession according to GDP figures

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

Today's figures, showing the UK economy shrank by 0.4% in the third quarter, are obviously disappointing as many people were predicting positive growth and an end to the recession. However, even if the results had been as predicted the economic challenges faced on a daily basis by business would not have disappeared overnight.

Despite some signs of increasing confidence there are still longstanding issues around cashflow and finance that are the main barriers holding back the start of real economic growth. These are the issues at the forefront of most business' minds.

Hopefully the figures will show improvement in the last quarter but even then we are still a long way off anything approaching a full economic recovery. The recovery phase of any recession can be just as fraught with danger as the entry into one and the conditions are just not there yet to promote recovery.

We will continue to do whatever we can to help businesses through these demanding times.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Chamber hosts Greater Manchester Property and Construction Sector update

In what has been a challenging year for the Greater Manchester’s Property Sector, local firms can find out about key future plans and development in the area at an event being organised by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 3 November.

The Annual Development Overview, organised by the Chamber’s Building and Development Section will look at projects across Greater Manchester as well as identifying current and future industry trends.

This year’s briefing includes presentations from Ken Bishop from DTZ on property market trends and Jackie Potter, Chief Executive of Corridor Manchester on the regeneration of the area around the Oxford Road corridor. They are joined by Steven Clarke from Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, GMITA who will brief firms on future transport plans for Greater Manchester, and Matt Crompton, Joint Managing Director of Muse Developments.

This year has been a challenging one for the sector, but the event, which the Chamber runs every year, is a must for anyone who is keen to find out about current and future trends in Greater Manchester’s building and development scene. This year’s line-up focuses on some of the areas most important upcoming developments and should lead to some lively debate and discussion.

For further information and to reserve a place call Vicki Kerr on 0161 875 2359 or email:

Chamber tells Transport Secretary continued investment key for future prosperity

Yesterday the Chamber spelt out the key transport issues facing the region at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis.

Our group led by Chamber Chief Executive, Angie Robinson and the Chair of the Chamber’s Transport Committee, Miranda Allen, raised a variety of priorities including, the need for extra rail carriages on key rail commuter routes and the need to urgently address the limited capacity available for Northern Rail Services travelling through Manchester Piccadilly.

We also added our support for the need for a high-speed rail route through to Greater Manchester. In addition, we also stressed the importance of the need to look at improving trans-Pennine services connecting Manchester with key cities such as Leeds and Sheffield.

The meeting proved extremely productive and we were able to raise a variety of key transport issues with the minister. Transport infrastructure remains a vital driver for the future economic prosperity of the region, and we were keen to stress that transport budgets should not bear the brunt of any planned cuts in public spending. We will continue to liaise with a variety of groups and partners in the region to provide continued pressure for increased investment for our transport infrastructure.

Top 10 Tips: For successful tendering

by Matthew Worman, Bid & Tender Manager, Kinetic plc

1. Devise and implement a robust ‘tender workflow process’ and assign a Tender Manager to both project manage and monitor tenders from initial request through to creation and submission. A simple Gantt Chart is effective if a full project management system isn’t available.

2. Proactively establish and maintain an up to date hard and soft copy library of all professional documents, certificates and formal policies (e.g. insurance, accreditations, H & S, equal opportunities, audited accounts, etc) as copies will be required for most tenders and advance preparation will save much needed time.

3. Ensure that the individuals responsible for producing tenders continuously network with all internal departments to form strong relationships with key colleagues. This will ease and speed up the process of sourcing difficult to find and last minute information when required.

4. Assign relevant topical tender questions to recognised ‘experts’ within the organisation – a Tender Manager cannot be a master of all topics; knowing who to approach in the organisation for specific information is key. However, the Tender Manager must act as an ‘editor’ to ensure that responses mirror the tone of other sections.

5. Encourage the Tender Manager to maintain an awareness of key developments within the organisation, such as company news, financial results, sales success and award wins, etc as these topics can add value to tenders.

6. To aid tender response time and methodology, form an on-going indexed bank of standard answers and commentary for common topics, and organise these by subject area. It is useful to save such content in a ‘tender folder’ and set up hyperlinks from a spreadsheet index.

7. Use a successful tender as the basis and format for future ones. Utilise the appendix section of tenders, include case studies, testimonials and mobilisation plans, etc to strengthen the submission.

8. Fully relate the tender to the environment that the buyer is based in - don’t adopt a generic approach. Use relevant terminology to connect with their procurement team. Write in the third person tense, be concise and cover both features and benefits of the proposed service. Demonstrate current and historic success in the buyer’s sector by referring to appropriate supply experience and support this with key sales figures.

9. Proof read, proof read, proof read and ask two other people to do the same before producing the tender in the required format (printed in colour, on quality paper and professionally bound if a hard copy is required).

10. Seek feedback when unsuccessful and implement relevant changes with future tenders. As ever, price is a major determining factor for the buyer, so conduct competitor research and don’t lose out on this factor when other areas of the tender score highly.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Reducing environmental footprint and cutting costs focus of Chamber breakfast briefing

by Richard Critchley, Transport, Environment and Planning Policy Manager at Greater Manchester Chamber

Local businesses can discover the cost benefits of reducing their environmental impact at our breakfast briefing being held at our offices in Warren Bruce Court, Trafford Park on 28 October.

Hardly a week goes by without climate change or carbon emissions hitting the news. Businesses will be able to hear from a panel of experts who will provide a range of simple practical tips to help local firms reduce their environmental impact and save money in the process.

The briefing will look at how some other organisations have tackled their environmental footprint, delivering environmental improvements and cost savings.

In addition, guest speakers from a range of companies including Groundwork, United Utilities, GMPTE, NISP, Brother, Edinburgh Bike Scheme and Viridor Laing will provide practical advice and tips to help businesses to reduce your water, waste, energy and transport use becoming greener and more efficient.

Attendees will also be able to look at a display of renewable energy and low carbon technologies.
The free event is from 8 - 10am and for further information and to reserve a place, please contact Contact Tina Youngman on 0161 245 4722 or email: Tina.

We hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Chamber News: Chamber appoints new president
A Salford businessman and former cardiac scientist has been appointed as the new President of Greater Manchester Chamber. Dr Moneeb Awan (pictured), Managing Director of eSAY Mobile, officially took up his role at the Chamber's Annual General Meeting.

Ashton Market Hall has won the Greater Manchester Building of the Year Award for 2009.

An update on climate negotiations from PricewaterhouseCoopers sustainability and climate change team.

Stockport and Manchester-based HURST Accountants are playing host to this year’s practice management conference of the Association of British Independent Accounting Firms (ABIAF).

Member News: Paver Smith Manchester is on recruitment trail
Paver Smith is on the recruitment trail for its Manchester office. Liverpool's biggest PR agency, which announced its entry into the city earlier this year, is staffing up after a string of new business wins in Manchester.

Member News: ROK on campus for £2.5m university refurbishment project
Bolton builder Rok has completed a £2.5million project to create innovative study and social facilities for University of Salford students on behalf of Campus Living Villages.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of people in the North West do not trust that pensions are a reliable way of saving for their retirement, according to research commissioned by PwC.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities; AGMA, launch their new website this week.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today show that Greater Manchester experienced a monthly increase in jobseeker’s allowance claimants of 1.2% to 82,591 in September 2009

Spinningfields is taking to the ice again this Christmas as it gears up to host one of Manchester's most popular festive attractions.

Transport leaders in Greater Manchester are taking steps to tackle the severe overcrowding being experienced on the Rochdale and Huddersfield rail lines.

Fanatic magazine is launching its men's lifestyle magazine featuring the latest in sports, music, cars, gadget, and films in the North West. As it is being launched in the North West, the publishers are cutting the price of advertising down for members.

Running fanatics at Engineering & Manufacturing recruitment specialist's Kinetic plc have won the Medium Business category at the ‘2009 BUPA 10K Great Yorkshire Business Run'. More importantly, their efforts raised a fund of £1,300 to provide financial support for Leighton Jones who has complications following his 3rd Kidney transplant in March 2009.

Government is faced with a conundrum – how to deal with even more debt at a time when needs are rising, with the economic downturn resulting in greater numbers of unemployed and disadvantaged people needing state assistance

Fine Lady Bakeries, a family owned company based in Banbury in Oxfordshire, has selected Central Park in Newton Heath, east Manchester as its preferred location for its northern base.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Chamber appoints new President

Salford businessman and former cardiac scientist, Dr Moneeb Awan has been appointed as the new President of Greater Manchester Chamber. Moneeb, Managing Director of eSAY Mobile, officially took up his role at the Chamber's Annual General Meeting.

During his speech he talked about how real innovation is borne out of true adversity - a paradox well known in the medical world - and described the current economic climate as the trigger to bringing Greater Manchester out of recession.

He said: "By the end of my term as president, I hope to see a platform of sustainable business growth in place, with Greater Manchester businesses leading the way through intelligent deployment of innovative practices.

"As President I will endeavour to ensure that our Chamber promotes real innovation and helps entrepreneurship in the region to flourish."

He also talked about his own experience of starting a business from scratch. He said: "My partners and I had a belief that despite the fact none of us had any business experience, we could achieve something. So how has our success come about? And the answer's pretty simple. Apart from luck the path can be traced back to the day we became members of our Chamber of Commerce. You can't say what would have happened if we hadn't joined but what you can say is that by joining we learnt about the true business of business."

Dr Awan launched award-winning eSAY eight years ago with co-directors Colin Yates and Graham Stanley.

He is also Confederation of British Industry's representative on The Court of The University of Salford, which appoints the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellors, and sits on the CBI's Regional Council and national SME Council. Locally he chairs the Institute of Directors' Young Directors' Forum.

Prior to launching eSAY, he held senior research posts at University College London and the University of Cape Town's Cape Heart Centre.

Dr Awan takes over from Peter Heginbotham OBE. The Vice Presidents are Phil Jones of Brother and Martin Douglas of Cargill.

Ashton Market Hall wins Building of the Year

by Richard Critchley, Policy Manager for Planning

We held our Building and Development dinner last night, finally announcing our Building of the Year after weeks of speculation. Ashton Market Hall took the prize over a number of other worthy contenders, Number 1 The Avenue at Spinningfields, the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and Bolton Market Shopping Centre.

The historic Market Hall was devastated by fire in the early hours of Tuesday 25th May, 2004. It reopened on Friday 28th November, 2008.

Steve Burne, chair of the Chamber's Building and Development section, had these words to say:

"The success of the Ashton Market Hall demonstrates the achievements of planners, construction professionals and local businesses working together to breathe new life into a building which sits at the centre of the local community.”

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Friday Guest Blog: Are you a trustworthy business? Then say it!

by Jon Clements, Partner, Staniforth

If business leaders breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t politicians when the UK Parliamentary expenses scandal blew up, they should beware of feeling smug.

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori revealed the public’s distrust is not reserved for our political class, but business people too.
Net trust in business leaders - according to the poll - has fallen to its lowest level since the research began in 1983 and placed business fourth from bottom among 16 groups in terms of truthfulness.

In that context, it seems strange that the leading business organisations were unwilling to mount a defence of commerce and industry, with the Confederation of British Industry telling The Observer: ”We are just not going to comment on the survey” and the Institute of Directors not replying. Why the reluctance to fight business’ corner? After all, not everyone in business works in banking.

In last week’s conference staged by the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) entitled, “Emerging from recession”, the issue of trust was very much on the agenda, with the BBC’s director of communications, Ed Williams, running a session on rebuilding trust and posing the question: “How do we restore public confidence in organisations and rebuild reputations to emerge stronger in the future?”

Among the Tweets from the conference quoting Williams, helpfully supplied by Orchid Communications, the Mori poll’s point was reiterated: people trust companies a lot less than they did a year ago. And, thanks to David McNamara’s tweet, we learned what Ed Williams feels is the best strategy to deliver trust: ”openness”.

The credit crunch, the banking crisis, the fall of Lehmann Bros and Fred Goodwin’s pension package have done little to warm the cockles of the public’s heart towards business people. And that’s terribly sad, as those enterprises which go about their business providing employment, behaving ethically and responsibly, creating things of value for their customers and occupying a meaningful place in their communities have nothing to be ashamed of. Yet they are lumped in with the rest of them in a skip marked “untrustworthy”.

And that’s where business needs to come out fighting. If public opinion has decided business is unprincipled, it’s not going to change on its own; it needs to be persuaded otherwise. And that’s where openness comes in. It’s not about revealing your competitive advantage or the details of boardroom arguments, but being able to communicate effectively across the landscape of what you do and why it’s important. That means recognising it’s not always possible to tell a happy story each time your organisation speaks. In fact, it could include having to apologise when your business has messed up. But being proud and vocal about your achievements - while maintaining transparency about your shortcomings - is all part of building trust.

A more recent, and critical, development in this problem for business is the advent of social media: online, peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge, information and opinions about a myriad of subjects. And that could include your business. Chris Brogan, a veteran of using social media for business, warns how communications around a company are no longer within the organisation’s exclusive control. But social media presents an opportunity also, to show greater transparency and enhance reputation and trust.

I’m pleased to say Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has been willing to participate in the debate and its deputy chief executive, Chris Fletcher, told PR Media Blog:

“It’s natural for the public to be suspicious of large corporations and this can be a positive thing in ensuring that businesses are held accountable for their actions. However, I think a big problem is that business leaders equate to bankers in most people’s minds and this carries connotations of huge profits, big bonuses and inflated salaries. Actually, the vast majority of UK businesses are small to medium and are struggling in the current climate. These businesses play a huge part in driving us out of a recession and need all the support they can get. It’s the Chamber’s role to provide this support and to fight their corner by taking their concerns to the right people for action.”

Whether the present government succeeds in winning a further term in office, or not, it is right to ensure that public trust in politicians of any hue is clawed back by drawing a line under the expenses debacle. And even MPs unscathed by the scandal will have to justify their party political peers on the doorsteps come election time.

And the same goes for business. You might be doing great things and be great people; just don’t assume that anyone beyond the factory gates or the web portal believes you are.

Jon writes regularly for Staniforth's PR Media Blog exploring the ever-changing relationship between media and public relations. Click here to view the blog.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Scam alert: tax refunds

HM Revenue & Customs have reported a record 83,000 scam emails offering fake tax refunds in September. The online attacks, known as 'phishing' have continued this month with 10,000 reports of the fraud made on day alone.

The scam email tells the recipient they are due a tax refund and then asks for bank account or credit card details. Anyone who gives these details to the fraudsters risks their bank accounts being emptied and credit cards maxed to their limit. The victim also risks having their personal details sold on to other criminal gangs. The latest version of this scam originates from different websites, which operate for 20 minutes before changing their domain name.

John Harrison, Head of HMRC Customer Contact Online, said: "We only contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances. I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an email not to open it, send it to us for investigation at and then delete it from their computer."

HMRC is taking action to disrupt these attacks and through co-operation with other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas a number of scam networks have been shut down.
HMRC strongly advises customers to:

If you have reason to believe that you have been the victim of an email scam, report the matter to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.

If in doubt, please check it out with HMRC at:

Local Euro MP in the hot seat

Oldham's Labour Euro MP, Arlene McCarthy will be joining members of the Chamber in Oldham for a networking lunch and Q&A session on Friday 16th October.

Arlene said: "As Oldham's Euro MP it's important to keep in touch with local business and hear directly from them their concerns and ideas for the future. In particular I am keen to hear local businesses views on how the banks are supporting them through the financial crisis."

Arlene has recently been elected Vice Chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Her Committee will pay a key role in drafting new legislation on the financial sector to ensure we never see a repeat of the recent banking crisis.

Arlene added: "I am keeping my pledge to the people of the Oldham to use my influence in Europe and our membership of the EU to deliver results for our region."

"My new committee is taking the big decisions on Europe's economic recovery plan. We must get the real economy moving again and make sure consumers are protected and informed in the financial services sector.

"I will use my position to support and promote Oldham and the North West as a key region to do business and invest in."

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Top 10 Tips: Getting maximum value from your Trade Show stand

by Matthew Goldsbrough, Goldsbrough Consulting

I’m planning on going to the Business North West exhibition later this month. I went last year, and saw lots of people making basic mistakes on their stands. It’s expensive to exhibit at a show, so you really must make sure that you get great results from your trade show stand.

First of all, I’ll assume that you’ve made the right decision as to whether you should be there at all, and you have a high expectation of meeting some worthwhile contacts. Making that decision should be the subject of another post.

Here are ten tips that come from having staged a presence at scores of exhibitions over the years.

1. Don’t Keep It a Secret
Make sure those people on your contact database that you’d like to get to know better are aware that you’ll be at the show. If they’re attending also, they’ll get an opportunity to talk to you. And if they’re not, they may mention you to a colleague or friend, and you’ll get a new contact.

2. Get Your Message Straight
Be clear about why you’ll be exhibiting. In the busy environment of an exhibition, you’ll struggle to get over to people everything that your company is capable of. Decide what you’ll be featuring. Perhaps you’ll have a new product announcement, or a partnership with another company to announce. Make the news item a noticeable feature of your stand, in order to focus the attention of the exhibition attendees.
Be sure to work out what you want to communicate to the people who visit your stand, and make sure that all of your colleagues who will staff the stand have been fully briefed on which messages are relevant.

3. Create a Welcoming Environment
You’ll have designed your stand so that it’s attractive and eye-catching, and hopefully you’ll have managed to negotiate a position within the exhibition that will make it easy for attendees to find you. It’s amazing how frequently you see stands that are messy: keep that stand looking clean, tidy and welcoming throughout the event.
Although you’ve only rented the booth, don’t forget to use the area around the booth. Catch people in the walkways outside your booth – extend the friendly atmosphere on your stand out in all directions, so that it’s a pleasant spot for someone to pause and talk to you.
Be approachable. Don’t take refuge behind the desk that you’ve rented. It just puts a barrier between you and the attendees. Just because your feet are aching, don’t sit down: it puts you on a different level from the attendees walking by and makes you less approachable.
In addition to being approachable, it helps if people know that you’re there to be approached. Consider putting your team into the same style clothes for the event. Identical shirts with a logo on are a good way of showing that you belong to the stand, and are there ready to speak to people. You need to stand out from the crowd.

4. Don’t Be Judgemental
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “If you can’t be nice to strangers, how will you ever meet your friends?” Obviously, you’re at the event because you’d like to meet people who you could do business with. In a brief conversation with the people you’ll meet, you’ll have difficulty making a decision as to whether you’ll actually be able to do business together.
In fact, it would be foolish to try to make that decision in the heat of the moment. Many exhibitors make that mistake, though, and make a split-second decision as to whether the ‘punter’ is a ‘tourist’ or ‘tyre kicker’. How rude! Would you like to be thought of as a ‘punter’?
Treat the people who pass by your stand with respect, answer their questions and draw out from them what they’re looking for. A brief conversation may reveal that, far from being the time-waster they appeared to be at first, the person you’re talking to could be your next big customer.

5. Organise Your Team
You won’t want to make visitors to your stand feel they’re being processed, so you need to be subtle about it, but in truth, that’s what you’ll need to do. You’ll need to catch as many people as you can, talk to them – but not for too long – and then let them go, having agreed what should happen next.
Work as a team. With a large team, you can have some people handling the catching of people as they pass your stand, others answering their questions and briefing them on what you have to offer, and others making sure that you have contact details for them as they leave the stand. If you’re few in number, you’ll have to work out how to accomplish these tasks between you, and you may find you have to fulfil several roles at the same time.

6. Make It Flow
You’ve grabbed someone’s attention, and they’ve come onto your stand. Now is not the time to try form a lifelong bond with them. Don’t spend too much time talking to them, because it prevents you from spending time with the next person. Spend enough time to find out what they’re interested in, make sure that they know what you have to offer, and gauge their level of interest. Get their contact details and agree the follow-up.

7. Schedule Your Activity
If your stand is getting busy, schedule a quieter time for someone to return if you can’t have the conversation with them that they want to. Also do that if you’re coming up to a period when people are rushing to get to seminars.
If you have something to demonstrate, or a little pitch that you want to make to a group of people, show your schedule on the stand, so that people know they can come back for a defined period to hear what you have to say.
If you’ve got a presentation scheduled elsewhere at the event, have flyers ready to hand out that describe the presentation, and tell people when and where it is.

8. Keep Clear Records
Many trade shows have devices that allow you to swipe the barcode on people’s badges. Although that’s efficient, particularly when there’s a large number of people in a short space of time, I’d recommend that you also have a notebook in which you record the contacts that you make.
Here’s a template for a simple form you could use. Print out enough pages and spiral-bind a couple of books to keep on the stand.
Attach the contact’s business card with the stapler that you brought with you, and make a note of what they were interested in.

9. Do What You Promised
Most importantly of all, record the follow-up action that you have agreed with the contact (e.g. sending a particular document or giving them a call) and then make sure that it gets done, on time.

10. Don’t Huddle
Lastly, here’s something you really must avoid.
Think back to when you’ve attended an exhibition or trade show yourself. Do you remember seeing the staff on stands in a little huddle, talking amongst themselves? Why do they do that? Are they afraid to talk to the very people they’re there to meet? Have the right attitude: you’re at the event for the attendees, not for yourself.
Make sure your attention is focused outward, on the attendees, and not inward, on your company’s internal affairs.

And Finally…
Here’s the eleventh tip: have fun!
It can be very tiring being on that stand, but if you look weary and bored, visitors will pick that up. Equally, be in a happy mood, have some fun between yourselves and with the people on your stand, and visitors will react to that. Face it, we all prefer to hang out with fun people.
I hope that these tips will help you to get maximum value from your trade show stand. And if you’re exhibiting at Business North West, I’ll be checking on how well you’re doing!

You can read Matthew's blog here. Recent posts include:

Maybe You Too Need a Personal Social Media Policy
‘Going To A Dance’ – Changing the Business Model of an IFA
In Business Planning, Make Sure You’re Solving the Right Problem

Monday, 12 October 2009

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Member News: SMES given top tips of exhibiting at Business North West
SMEs exhibiting in the forthcoming Business North West show, taking place at Manchester Central on 28-29 October, were given a free masterclass in how to maximise their appearance at the event from experts John Blaskey of The Exhibiting Agency, Linda Donaldson of Geometry PR, and Scott Hider of Nationwide Media Group.

Michelle Mone, the creator of the UK's leading lingerie brand Ultimo, has been confirmed as the keynote speaker on the first day of Business North West (Manchester Central, 28th and 29th October). Kell Ryan, founding member of Ryanair, will address the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce sponsored breakfast on the second day.

Having received over 200 nominations, organisers of the second annual North West Finance Director Awards have begun the task of judging the entries, with 40 candidates already shortlisted for interview by the judging panel.

Manchester-based law firm, Glaisyers Solicitors LLP, has advised DAMS Furniture Limited, a Newco set-up to acquire a substantial part of the business and assets of DAMS International Limited, for an undisclosed sum.

Companies based in the North West are facing a significant increase in prosecutions for anti-competitive business behaviour, bribery, corruption and fraud as UK regulators tighten and enforce the rules more stringently in these areas, says PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is urging the European Commission not to force the UK’s part-nationalised banks to abandon more than two million of their small business customers.

After just six weeks of working with Forever Unique, PUNK PR has been busy styling the stars in the luxury Manchester fashion label.

A brief reminder to all Chamber members that the Chamber will be holding its Annual General Meeting at on Friday 16 October at the Deansgate Suite 1, at the Hilton Hotel in central Manchester.

Tram bosses in Greater Manchester are celebrating a successful night at this year’s national Light Rail Awards.

The sports team at Tangerine PR has been chosen by Concave Holdings Inc to launch its brand new range of football boots to the UK market for the 2009/10 football season.

US company confirms new base at Kingsway Business Park
Los Angeles based company C.R. Laurence today announced it is set to expand its Europe operation with new premises at Rochdale's Kingsway Business Park.

GRAND boost for Biotech firm
A £100,000 Grant for Research and Development (GRAND) has been awarded to Manchester based biotechnology company Ai2, to research a new use for their peptide-based product for contact lenses, using it in a hydrogel for wound dressings.

A Stockport-based charity which provides support for disabled people and their carers has chosen North West based accountants and business advisors HURST to help achieve their strategic objectives.

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, part of the GRA Limited group which operates five tracks across the country, has appointed PR agency Paver Smith to handle its public relations.

Businesses in England’s Northwest have been given a further boost with £2.3 million approved for the Low Carbon Market Development Programme

Weber Shandwick North, part of the UK’s leading multi-specialist PR Agency, has expanded its public affairs offering by connecting with its London and Brussels offices to provide North West businesses and associations with public affairs support at a local, national and European level

Commenting on the postal strike, Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber, said: "We are disappointed that this strike is going ahead. It will have a bad impact on the many businesses that still rely on the postal service for sending goods and receiving payments...

Mantra is heading a collaboration of eight North West training provider partners, and has created an exciting and distinct brand for its Response to Redundancy product: THE JOB GYM

Clients of Bolton law firm Hulton Bailey can now draw on the expertise of lawyers at Kippax Beaumont Lewis (KBL), also based in the Town, following an integration of the two firms

The Rok centre in Bolton is working in partnership with Wigan and Leigh Hospice Business Support Group to organise a series of interesting and informative lunches with excellent keynote speakers. Our first joint event is on the 13th November 12pm at the Park Inn Leigh with Andy Burnham MP Secretary of State for Health...

Interest rates have been held at 0.5% by the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee

Member News: New Business Club success
The Second Thursday Club which meets at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Manchester is proving to be a huge hit with the north-west business community.

On Friday 16th October 2009 at 12 noon Network Knutsford will be hosting a special edition networking event at Leicester Warren Hall in Knutsford with special guest speaker George Osborne MP for Tatton and current Shadow Chancellor

Conservative Policy Director Oliver Letwin MP met Greater Manchester business leaders earlier today

Lewis Hymanson Small Solicitors are holding “Employment Law Update” on Wednesday 21st October 2009

A groundbreaking, pan-industry bakery training course has been launched with four bakeries in the North-west of England taking part in a pilot scheme

Manchester-based law firm, Glaisyers Solicitors LLP, has advised Visualspace Limited on a share buy-back from two major shareholders, for an undisclosed sum. Davis Blank Furniss acted for the selling shareholders

The day after opening the Conservative Party Conference with a speech that focused on tackling unemployment, Leader of the opposition, David Cameron (pictured) spent Monday morning at Greater Manchester Chamber's SkillCentre in Trafford Park, meeting the next generation of young apprentices and exploring the facilities

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Royal Mail postal strike

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

It's just been announced that Royal Mail postal workers have voted to take strike action over working conditions. We are disappointed that this strike is going ahead. It will have a bad impact on the many businesses that still rely on the postal service for sending goods and receiving payments.

The strike comes at a particularly bad time for local businesses who are still facing tough trading conditions and the long-term effect will be that more companies look at alternatives to the traditional post.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

President's Blog: Conservative Party Conference

by Peter Heginbotham, President of Greater Manchester Chamber

The Monday began with a Radio Manchester interview in which I was explaining the benefits to the city of the conference being here - the footfall, the filling of restaurants and hotels, the showcasing of Manchester and all that. Although the congestion is a perishing nuisance I pointed out we’d been given plenty of practice this year with the long-term closures in Oxford St and Deansgate.

Then it was out to our Skill Centre in Trafford Park which David Cameron’s people had picked out as worth him making a visit. He was even more impressed than that and spent a lot of time visiting all the sections and talking to the trainees and the trainers. It’s a classic case of something being designed on the basis of local need not some arcane funding programme designed for other regions and other needs. I would hope it’s a graphic example of something that works and which will inform future policy decisions

Back in the city I was on a Question Time-type panel debate at the Art Gallery organised by the Chambers of Commerce. Philip Hammond, shadow Chief Secretary was the key guest along with Gerard Lyons, economist of Standard Chartered Bank, Ian King the business journalist, Adam Marshall of British Chambers of Commerce and myself. Mr Hammond was focusing on what he called the debt crisis and the jobs crisis. He was concerned about corporate debt too but I pointed out that smaller businesses could perhaps do with some more – after all access to finance for expansion (as well as availability of credit insurance) are two key issues that still need urgent attention.

I don’t think any panel member wanted to see wholesale cuts in public sector jobs, although Mr Hammond agreed that we should have some restraint and more particularly the flexibility on job sharing and part time working that much of the private sector has already had to swallow. We did feel though that the priority is to grow the private sector as quickly as possible and to reduce public sector employment (in some areas at least) in parallel. It was a lively session and people were still ready to ask more questions when time ran out.

On Tuesday morning I chaired an event at which the Chamber hosted a visit by Oliver Letwin. He gave some very thorough answers to questions posed by directors of some of our largest company members. There were very encouraging comments about ending the culture of regulation-creep (my phrase) and the importance of not delaying major infrastructure projects where the decision can be taken now but the main expenditure isn’t needed immediately. We were able to alert him to the issues about credit insurance, a point he’ll be picking up with colleagues.

Visit the GM Chamber website for a list of the remaining fringe events you can attend

Conservative Party Conference Blog: Day 2

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

“When I’m 66”

On a day which saw some firm policy announcements being made at last, not everyone will be feeling particularly happy - perhaps a reflection on a very grey and murky day weather wise too? There were some headlines around retirement age increases. To be totally honest, I’ve had it in my mind for some time that I’ll probably be working way past this age unfortunately, so some of the other announcements were of more interest.

The Chamber had Oliver Letwin MP meeting a group of members first thing in the morning and some of the ideas he said would be policy were later confirmed by Shadow Business Minister, Ken Clarke. One key issue that got the support of our members in the meeting was around making sure a Conservative government would step back from business and give it more room to grow and expand. A key point made concerning legislation was that rather than over-legislate to cover cracks up in existing legislation at the very least firmer efforts should be made to enforce existing rules on those that flout them. A very familiar issue that many members tell us about.

Mr Letwin was also not ducking any issues about the economy, again confirmed by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne. Put plainly, the Conservatives plan to control public spending and will have some unpopular decisions to make and announce before an election. Being realistic about this though so will any party that plans on taking the country forward for the next 5 years.

Angie and I met up with some Chamber colleagues in the early evening for a meeting with Bob Neill MP the Shadow local government minister to discuss the emerging activity around city regions and their future. In a wide ranging discussion we also touched on the Conservative proposals to help local authorities to encourage local business growth and investment whilst simultaneously putting some new measures in around local retention (not increases) of business rates. All seemed to make sense and all had been raised at our earlier meeting with Oliver Letwin.

So, it seems, the pre election build up has started in earnest. Things seemed slightly busier and more business-like today perhaps building up for an eagerly awaited speech by David Cameron on Thursday?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Conservative Party Conference Blog: Day 1

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

I thought we were in Manchester not Brussels!

As day 1 draws to a close the topic that seems to have been on everyone’s lips has been the 'will they wont they' over the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. At the Radio 5 Live event this morning at Urbis, a huge amount of time was spent discussing this at the expense of some more important issues such as the economy, getting people back into work and what plans the Conservatives have for kickstarting the economy.

Whilst I'm not saying the Lisbon Treaty is unimportant, my view is that by getting sidetracked with this we are missing out on hearing more details about what the plans are for a Conservative government dealing with the unique challenges of cutting spending and balancing the books and services.

On what we have so far managed to hear there still seems to be a lot of details to emerge. Phillip Hammond MP the Shadow Secretary to the Treasury described himself as the 'man with the scalpel' not the blunt axe when it came to making cuts in spending with the emphasis very much on targeted cuts and greater efficiencies.

Chris Grayling MP, the Shadow Home Secretary admitted that the Conservatives had not seen the 'books' so were left in a difficult position of saying anything certain about fiscal policies and government departmental budgets.

David Willets MP Shadow Skills Minister said that before some of the work placements could happen – designed to remove people off the unemployment list and benefits - that there would have to be major economic stimulus to create the jobs that, to be frank, aren’t there at present. This is probably the first time I’ve heard a politician of any party actually admit to this. So despite the promise of thousands of new job opportunities you have to create them in the first place. Like money, jobs don’t grow on trees either.

No doubt more details and ideas will emerge and the meetings will get busier as the week progresses. Hopefully we will also get some clearer ideas about what policies the Conservatives have got lined up, Europe included but for me the real problems and solutions lie closer to home.

Briefed: the latest news from the Chamber website

Sir Richard Branson voted Britain’s best ambassador of customer service
"People's champion" Sir Richard Branson is Britain's best ambassador of customer service, according to a poll of experts.

Chamber News - Business Confidence Improving
Business confidence has improved according to Greater Manchester Chamber's latest Quarterly Economic Survey.

Member News: PwC in Manchester appoints local government specialist
Ian Persechino has joined the Manchester office of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) as a director in the government and public sector team.

Your chance to comment on radical improvements to city centre bus services
Consultations over a major set of infrastructure improvements which will help to improve bus services through Manchester city centre are underway.

Member News: Pinsent Masons sponsor Chance to Shine tournament day at Lord's
Law firm and GM Chamber member Pinsent Masons, a gold level supporter of the Chance to shine initiative, has sponsored a cricket tournament for 60 children from six UK schools at Lord's Cricket Ground in London.

Have you applied for 'Queen's Award for Enterprise 2010' yet?
The prestige and recognition that a Queen's Award brings can be priceless. But there are also more realisable business benefits that can give you the edge in the current climate. In fact, 80% of past winners have found their Award to be of sound commercial value.

Tangerine PR helps transform communities with Dulux Trade
Tangerine PR has launched a special project with its retained client, industry-leading paint manufacturer, Dulux Trade, to transform the surroundings of people living in social housing communities.

Member News: An innovative solution for affiliates from Manchester-based ProfitBite
ProfitBite is an innovative new solution which enables web publishers (bloggers, forum owners, webmasters etc.) to generate revenue from their sites whilst removing the need to waste valuable time administering affiliate campaigns.

Member News: Pinsent Mason advises Heywood Williams Group
International law firm and GM Chamber Member Pinsent Masons has advised Heywood Williams Group PLC, the fully listed distributor of branded building products, on an agreement with its UK banking syndicate on the terms of a proposed debt and share capital restructuring, including a de-listing, a proposed Takeover Code rule 9 waiver and related party transaction.

Member News: Cuckoo Design unveils Salford Diocese's heavenly new look
Manchester design agency, Cuckoo Design, is on cloud nine as it unveils a fresh new logo for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford.

British banks to lead the way on G20 bonus reforms
The UK's top five banks have committed to leading the way in implementing reforms to bank remuneration agreed by the G20 in Pittsburgh, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling announced today.

Chamber News: Tickets still available for Building and Development Annual Dinner
Tickets are still available for the Greater Manchester Chamber Building and Development Section Annual Dinner, which is being held at the Manchester Hilton Deansgate on 15 October.

Member News: Regus Free Business Networking event in Manchester 13 Ocober 4.30 - 7.30pm
Chamber member Regus is holding a networking event at its Manchester Peter House business centre on 13 Ocotber from 4.30 - 7.30pm.

Member News: Discount stores offer huge opportunities for consumers, FMCG companies and investors
According to new research from PwC, the discount segment of retail, which includes Poundland, Poundstretcher, 99p Stores and Wilkinson, offers important and growing potential to consumers, investors and FMCG brands.

Manchester Welcomes Conservative Party Conference
Manchester is looking forward to hosting the Conservative Party Annual Conference 2009, building on the city’s growing reputation as an international conference venue.

Conservative Party Conference road closures
The Conservative Party Conference begins at Manchester Central next Monday (5 October) until Thursday (8 October). To accommodate the event there will be a limited number of road closures in the area around the venue.

Countdown to Wigan Business Awards: Family Business of the Year
The countdown to the biggest night in the Wigan business calendar has begun and in the run up to the Wigan Business Awards on Friday 20th November, we will be taking a weekly look at each of the nominees across the nine categories. This week, the Family Business of the Year Award.

David Cameron visits Greater Manchester Skill Centre

The day after opening the Conservative Party Conference with a speech that focused on tackling unemployment, Leader of the opposition, David Cameron spent Monday morning at Greater Manchester Chamber's SkillCentre in Trafford Park, meeting the next generation of young apprentices and exploring the facilities.

The Conservative Party leader met with trainees from a range of courses such as engineering, joinery, scaffolding and motor vehicle training. Heather Green, Director of Apprenticeships, Mike Riley SkillCentre Manager and Peter Heginbotham OBE, President of Greater Manchester Chamber were also present to offer a full tour of the centre and a look at some of the practical projects the students have been working on.

Mr Cameron was impressed with the SkillCentre and very interested to hear about how the apprentices were progressing and why they had selected their course. He also met with apprentices that had previously been unemployed and through the centre have now gained their Level 2 Diplomas and are about to start work with local firms.

Heather Green said: "This was a great opportunity to showcase the range of facilities we have here at the SkillCentre and the hard work of our apprentices. The Conservatives have talked about the idea of moving funding for apprenticeships back into the hands of employers and so it was especially important for us to stress the need for specialist facilities like these as a bridge between learning and employment".

The SkillCentre opened in September 2008, the newly built state of the art facility provides vocational education & Apprenticeship programmes for 14-19 year-olds as well as adult and community learning programmes (including Adult Apprenticeships) across a number of trade areas including Automotive, Construction Craft, Construction Mechanical and Light Engineering.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Friday Blog: Brighton Rocks?

This week's Labour Party Conference
by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

So that’s that then, the last Labour conference before the General Election. This was the fifth Labour conference I’ve attended and the change in atmosphere over the years has been noticeable, from the highs of a few years ago to the current state of play which is …. well I’m not sure actually. Whilst Angie Robinson and myself were just there the Monday and Tuesday, there did seem to be an air of 'going through the motions' about the whole experience (the Labour delegates not us!).

At the various fringe meetings we attended it was more about the potential threat from a change in government rather than what future policy would be. Indicative perhaps of the eagerly awaited pre-budget report in the next month or so which will form the fiscal foundation for Labour’s election manifesto.

Notwithstanding the subdued atmosphere, at the meetings we attended we made sure we put across valid issues that we know affect businesses in Greater Manchester on a daily basis. Something we will be doing next week when the Conservatives hit town.

If you’ve never been to a party conference before you may not know what you can do without having to resort to costly passes. There is a huge range of free fringe meetings offering access to major political leaders, the decision makers and takers whose actions affect us all. We’ve compiled a list of some top meetings that are on the key issues that you have told us affect you. If you are in Manchester next week and get to one why not go and see what it is all about and help us represent the business community in the city region.

Click here for our listing of fringe events

This time in 12 months Labour will be back in Manchester for their conference. Will it be as the party of government? Who knows and I’m not going to start making political predictions. What I would like to see though is that whichever party does win the election they fully understand the vital role that business plays in this country in creating the wealth and jobs that will give us the financial stability and growth that we need now more than ever. Our job at the Chamber is to make sure they don’t forget that.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

53 Degrees: Dec/Jan issue

by Lesley Jarjue, Media Manager, 53 Degrees

We are now working on the Dec/Jan issue of 53 Degrees and I would like to remind members of how powerful a marketing tool the Chamber magazine is across Greater Manchester. The magazine is available in both print and digital format, which enables readership both in the UK and overseas for companies who have a definitive interest in business and commercial opportunities in the Greater Manchester region via the Link2 business portal at, the Chamber website and its own unique url

As it is one of only a few b2b magazines in the region which is fully digital, 53 Degrees is looked on as 'the business voice of Greater Manchester'
We have our annual business focus on Stockport in this issue and our Education in Business feature which is all about training and leadership management. Our rates are very competitive and opportunities are available for non-members to corporately profile their organisations within this official chamber publication.

The magazine is an ideal platform for members wishing to raise their profile and I look forward to hearing from them.

Lesley Jarjue
Media Manager 53 Degrees
Official monthly magazine for GM Chamber
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