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

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday Guest Blog

Richard Lloyd-Hughes, Sales & Operations Manager, and Charlotte Morris, Operations & Marketing Assistant, at The Gentry Grooming Co share an insight into the male grooming industry.

Here at The Gentry Grooming Co, we have a passion for ‘Putting the GREAT into British Grooming’ and the terms ‘Great’ and ‘British’ are incredibly important to us. We pride ourselves on our brand that was born in Britain; everything from our packaging to our ingredients has been manufactured and sourced in Britain. Our brand is all about being the experts in male grooming; this is implemented by a small but strong Head Office team which is the core to the franchises and Express Shave & Skin Centres. We have industry trained staff in all of our salons and Express Shave & Skin Centres and are continually developing their skills to match the ever-changing male grooming industry.

The newest addition to our Head Office team, Lynne Taylor, brings a wealth of experience from the airline industry. Lynne has been particularly insightful most recently with our upcoming event next week.
Due to the great success of our gift set in the Jet 2 in-flight retail, we will be attending the Airline Retail Conference in London to secure more contracts with other airlines. About 50 airlines will be attending, including the biggest names in the industry such as Tourvest and Scorpio. During the two day-long conference we will be showcasing the brand by introducing our gift sets and products to the airlines. Our success with Jet 2 has already sparked huge interest with buyers from other sales channels, so we are looking forward to the opportunities ARC will bring us.

As well as in-flight retail, we are constantly working towards new leads with more sales channels. We currently have an Express Shave & Skin Centre in two House of Fraser stores; in Glasgow and Manchester; and we are looking to retail our product range in other House of Fraser stores around the country by the end of the year. We are also working hard to secure space for our product range with other favourite high street retailers.

At such an evolving time in the business, we believe in the importance of our customers’ views. We want your ideas! We are open-minded and believe in one-on-one feedback as we always reply to every email and phone call in the best way that we can. Our customers are very important to us and we are always more than happy to hear your feedback on new product developments or ideas about new services that you would like to see on offer. We also like to build momentum and keep in touch with our customers via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and E-Shots.

As part of our ongoing development strategy, we will open new franchised sites over the coming months. We would love to hear from interested partners. We have a proven business model and offer industry leading training support.

Look out for our upcoming editorial piece in the September issue of the 53 Degrees Magazine.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Friday Guest Blog

Andrea Wilson-Brown, Managing Director of BCH Digital discusses the benefits of hosted telecoms solutions and how the latest developments in telecoms, such as Pay-Tel are not only affordable for businesses of all sizes, but can put them on a level playing field with blue chip companies.

Hosted telecoms solutions have been around for a while, whilst the term ‘Cloud Technology’ is a relatively recent one they are essentially the same – web based solutions that offer economies of scale and allow for the latest technologies to be deployed instantly, without the need for investment in hardware and infrastructure.

We’ve worked with many blue-chip companies over the years, creating bespoke solutions such as customer service lines, surveys and charity donation lines amongst others. The benefits of hosted telecoms have long been known by such companies; adaptability, level of control, speed of set-up, ease of use, lack of heavy financial outlay and flexibility of service, but with the rise in ‘Cloud Technologies’ more and more businesses are becoming aware of the benefits of hosted telecoms.

Developments in hosted telecoms services, such as our recently launched Pay-Tel, give SME’s access to the same level of security, technology and quality of service, usually only affordable to large and blue-chip companies.

Pay-Tel is a hosted PCI compliant solution for taking payment over the phone. To combat credit and debit card fraud, the Payment Card Industry (set-up the by the likes of Visa and American Express) introduced a set of regulations to ensure the security and protection of private data when processing payments. These recently updated regulations are due to come into force in December this year, however meeting these regulations can prove costly if it means replacing or updating in-house infrastructure such as servers and hardware. Unfortunately not doing so can prove even more costly, with fines of up to £300, 000 and the untold damage to reputation should non-compliance lead to loss of private data or security breaches.

Pay-Tel is simple to set-up and use and rather than investing in new infrastructure, users can rely on the incredibly secure and reliable BCH servers to meet the PCI regulations, meaning businesses of all sizes now have an affordable solution to PCI compliance.

This is just one example of how hosted telecoms can help SME’s offer the same level of service as blue-chip companies, but whether it’s for sales, marketing or even debt collection, when it comes to the cloud and developing hosted telecoms solutions there are all sorts of possibilities.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Your Chamber Needs You!

British Chambers of Commerce has committed to a campaign for a simplified, faster planning system.

While we have significant anecdotal evidence of the problems developers and businesses face, we need to explore these in more depth and gather greater member feedback to make an impact with our lobbying activities. Part of this work will involve a national survey asking for views and opinions on the planning system.

In order to assist with this work, we are offering to host a policy forum with British Chambers to help identify member concerns and to have a wider policy debate. This will take place at 11.00am on Wednesday 15 June in the Council Chamber, Churchgate House, Oxford Street, Manchester.

We need 10 to 15 people to make this work, so if this is of interest to you please email

If you are unable to attend but know of other interested businesses, please feel free to forward them this information.