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

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday Blog: Barry McLoughlin, Director of B S Entwistle on the benefits that apprentices can bring to your business

By Barry McLoughlin, Director of B S Entwistle

Since 2004 apprentices have played an important role in our commitment as a business to training and development and making sure that we continue to develop our skills in-house as we continue to develop our business.

As an electrical contracting business within the construction industry, making sure you anticipate any potential skills shortages is vital and apprenticeships form an important part of this forward planning.

The positive impact of apprenticeships has had on BS Entwistle has been clear. As well as addressing our skills need, apprenticeships are a great way of ensuring you can train people to your standards, to ensure they understand the importance of offering the quality of service your customers expect.

I would recommend taking on an apprentice to any business. Apprentices help to inject new life into your workforce and are an important indicator to our clients that we are committed to investing in our employees and that they are at the heart of our future business development.

Any employer keen to find out more information about taking on an apprentice or about the advice and help available should call 0161 233 2656 or email: for more information.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Senior BIS Policymakers Seek Your Views

By Sana Nabi, Policy Officer, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Next week two senior policymakers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will be coming to see Chamber members to seek their views on two important issues.

On Monday 1 November in Bolton, BIS want to hear members' opinions on supply chain finance and access to finance issues impacting on their businesses; the session will take place at the Business Enterprise Centre (BL3 5EY) from 12noon - 2pm and lunch will be provided.

On Thursday 4 November at the Chamber's Churchgate House office (M60 7HJ), BIS want to know member views on regulation. The session will be from 8.30 – 10am with breakfast.

Places on these two events are strictly limited. For full details and to register please contact or telephone Sana on 0161 237 4045.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday Guest Blog

Lessons to be learned from the Manchester Model: CIPD’s platform for business and jobs to lift economic gloom.

By Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser, CIPD.

As important as the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is, another soon to be published official document, the government’s strategy for economic growth, will aim to contrast the pain associated with the CSR, with the prospect of sustained economic gain. It is set to provide the main context for debate when HR professionals from around the UK and abroad gather in Manchester early next month for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Conference and Exhibition.

While our delegates are likely to be exercised by the national, regional and local impact of spending cuts – especially those working for public sector organisations hoping for practical ideas on how to do ‘more with less’ – the CIPD’s principal aim is to lift the evident economic gloom with a positive message about boosting business, improving the leadership and management capacity of UK plc, and creating the additional private sector jobs needed as state payrolls are slimmed down.

It’s clear that as a country we need to secure the emerging economic recovery by increasing the flow of finance to business – especially the SME sector – and ensure that employers are not unduly burdened by red tape. We also need continued investment in skills and infrastructure to help rebalance the economy toward high growth sectors, especially low carbon production, and raise productivity. And we need to enable company bosses and managers to improve their capacity to lead, engage staff and make the most of all the talent they employ. Only in this way will the economy drive the growth that ultimately creates future job opportunities.

These are of course generic needs. They obviously vary from region to region, locality to locality, variation that in turn requires different types of local response. And such difference is likely to be crucial in the coming period of fiscal austerity as the spending squeeze bites into some communities much deeper than others. Yet while there is no one size fits all response to the challenges facing different localities there are lessons to be drawn from areas such as Greater Manchester which wisely used the years of relative prosperity to move toward exactly the kind of collaborative growth strategy involving private business and public sector bodies that will be of crucial importance to securing economic growth throughout the remainder of this decade.

When staging last year’s annual conference in Manchester for the first time the CIPD was greatly impressed by the vibrancy and degree of innovative activity displayed both by the business community, especially Chamber of Commerce members, and local authorities in all parts of the city region. Although it is clear that success has yet to permeate to the most deprived areas where long-term joblessness persists, and that everywhere there is continued need for investment in skills and improvements in management capability, the fact that the local economy proved resilient in coping with the ravages of a major global recession is testimony to what I guess some might call the “Manchester Model”.

In bringing our own brand of knowledge and expertise about people management and development to the city next month we at the CIPD are eager to get further first-hand accounts of your experience of business growth and how this experience might be transferred onto the broader national and local stage. While we have our own ideas on a platform for growth we’re always in listening mode and would be delighted to hear what you have to contribute. Join us as we forge a path through the gloom and onward to a brighter future.

Dr John Philpott will feature as a panellist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Conference and Exhibition, 9-11 November, in the closing keynote “Forging a New Path Forward”, with Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, Lucy Adams, Director of People, BBC, and Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Public Service, Unite the Union.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Comprehensive Spending Review

Reacting to Chancellor George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement today, Dr Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Whilst the Chancellor’s speech ends weeks of speculation, there is still a lack of clarity as to how the cuts will translate from Whitehall to the town halls and on to the business community.

“Of the Chancellor’s three themes, the announcements relating to growth are the most important to our region. These hit some of our key campaign areas, such as rail transport and investment in the low carbon economy.

“Over the coming weeks the Chamber will be watching local developments closely and listening to our members to assess what these cuts will mean for the Greater Manchester business community. What is encouraging is that this hopefully will end this prolonged period of uncertainty and businesses can plan for the future. Although the environment will be challenging and our latest Quarterly Economic Survey shows that growth is slowing both nationally and in the North West, there will still be plenty of opportunity for ambitious businesses that want to grow.

“We are in a period where the economy is being rebalanced. First and foremost we must support our members, be they small businesses needing finance to grow or large international businesses."

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday Guest Blog

Stephanie Littler, Marketing Manager at St John Ambulance.

St John Ambulance is reminding Chamber members to take extra care this winter when attending or organising firework and bonfire displays and is issuing first aid advice to enable people to be the difference between life and death should an accident happen.

The most common injuries sustained on Guy Fawkes Night are burns, e.g. from picking up a hot sparkler, and injuries to the eye, caused when people look up at the fireworks. Here are St John Ambulance’s top tips on how to care for someone who may have a bad burn or sore eyes.


• Holding the affected area under cold water for at least ten minutes will cool the burn down and help to prevent scarring
• Burns covering an area larger than the palm of the casualty’s hand will require professional medical attention and so the casualty will need to see a doctor or go to hospital
• Major burns should be treated with water and in most cases an ambulance will need to be called to get urgent medical help on the way
• Burns must never be treated with lotions, ointments or creams and adhesive dressings must not be applied to the affected area
• To avoid infection the wound can be covered with any non-fluffy material such as cloth, a clean plastic bag or kitchen film.

Eye injuries

• Stand beside or just behind the injured person. Gently separate their eyelids with your forefinger and thumb and ask them to look right, left, up and down while you examine the eye
• If you can see a foreign object, wash it out by pouring clear water from a glass or jug or using sterile eye wash. Place a towel around their shoulders and pour from the inner corner of the eye
• If unsuccessful then try lifting the object off with the damp corner of a clean tissue
• If you still cannot remove the object, seek medical help.

Most large organised events will have first aiders on site many of whom will be St John Ambulance volunteers, ready to respond if needed.

Bonfire Night can be so much fun for people of all ages but can so easily be spoiled by injuries. It’s useful for everyone to know some basic first aid so if an accident does happen you will be prepared, or visit the first aiders on duty if you’re at a public event. It’s important to get prompt treatment as first aid can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.

First aid advice can be downloaded by Chamber members via St John Ambulance’s iPhone application available from iTunes. For details of first aid courses in your area visit or call 0844 770 4800. Chamber members are entitled to a 10% discount off all St John Ambulance scheduled courses in the North West.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Stockport Breakfast Club

Stockport Council Chief Executive Eamonn Boylan will be the guest speaker at Stockport Breakfast Club tomorrow.

Mr Boylan will set out Stockport Council’s vision for the future and describe the challenges and opportunities that the borough and Greater Manchester face in the coming years.

The event will take place tomorrow (October 14th) between 7.15am and 9am at the Alma Lodge Hotel in Stockport. The cost is £16 including VAT for Chamber members and £32 including VAT non-members.

To book a place email or phone
0161 233 2663.

Friday, 1 October 2010

From Politics to Football – Remember Ossie Ardiles?

By Dr Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy

A week is a long time in politics they say. This week has been more politics than business as the Chamber put the views of business to the Labour party at their conference in Manchester. This was an important opportunity for us to get your messages direct to the policymakers and opposition – they’re not my messages they’re yours! Ring me, phone or e-mail, it is important that your voice is heard and next week we’re off to the Conservative conference, so 5,300 e-mails this weekend please.

The Chamber attended a number of events this week and a recurrent theme was concern over the Government’s plans to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, there is a sense that in this respect the Coalition’s localism agenda will hamper the infrastructure developments needed for future growth. Northern Hub, the proposed rail project for Greater Manchester, with knock on benefits across the entire north of England is a key project priority in which Government must commit to funding. The Chamber outlined the argument at a GMITA organised event and it was resoundingly supported by all. Skills also continue to be a business concern, with one large employer in the region describing the literacy and numeracy skills of entry level applicants to his business as “shocking”. We continue to work hard on behalf of business in these areas and more.

It wasn’t all politics though, to end the week I was invited to the Soccerex launch event at Cloud 23. There were a few famous football faces, Nobby Stiles, Dennis Law and Osvaldo Ardiles, oh and that rapper from New Order – John Barnes I think he’s called! Check out for details of their exhibition in Manchester next March. From manufacturing to media, construction to catering there are opportunities for any business to get involved and remember Manchester and the UK will be hosting many more international sporting events in the next few years.

Friday Guest Blog

Keeping Media Savvy

Stephen Marsden, Partner at Townhouse Communications

Since rejoining Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at the end of last year, I’ve discovered a very different animal to what I experienced in the 1990s as part of the old Macclesfield Chamber.

As then, getting value out of it – and not just added business and more contacts – is partly down to the time and effort you spend on attending events (which in and around Manchester could now warrant a full-time job if your company can spare you!).

Two reasons we rejoined the Chamber were to keep up to speed on practice and developments in business sectors generally, and to add to or refresh our knowledge and skills in areas which impact on our work in media, copywriting and PR.

Although most events are pay as you go, I want to really commend the excellently organised and free ‘Meet the media’ evening at the BBC on 23 September, with five of the region’s senior editors from TV, radio and press all on hand and unstinting in their preparedness to answer questions and offer advice.

My most regular event is the Stockport Breakfast Club, which I’m glad to say now regularly hosts presentations aimed at fostering the business awareness and skills I think many members are after.

So another word of congratulation. As one of the recent main speakers, I ended my presentation on effective marketing media by inviting attendees to get creative and devise a brand name and slogan for a fictional new acne treatment with some clearly defined qualities.

Each entrant received a short personal critique, and such was the range and quality that I ultimately awarded a bottle of bubbly to both James Russell of James Russell Photography for “Dr Spot” and Paul Wareham of Access Self Storage for “Clear acne hell with Acnegel”…Spot on, guys!