Author Archives: Shropshire Chamber

Funding Your Sustainable Goals networking event – Programme

Wednesday 17th May; Shropshire Wildlife Trust, 193 Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY2 6AH

09:30 – 10:00: Registration, exhibition and networking
10:00 – 10:10: Introduction (Adrian Platt, MMBEN Chair)
10:10 – 10:40: Understanding our natural capital: the true value of your natural assets (Adams Koshy, Eftec)
10:40 – 11:00: The Green Business Fund – how to access sustainability funding (Charlotte Houldsworth, Carbon Trust)
11:00 – 11:30: Coffee and networking
11:30 – 11:50: The Business Growth Programme – greening your supply chain and help with other environmental improvements (Tracey Flint, Marches Growth Hub)
11:50 – 12:10: Case Study: The business benefits of sponsoring conservation delivery – the Merefest experience (Andrea Richardson, Clarke’s Solicitors)
12:10 – 12:30: An Environmental Exit Strategy (Vicki McKenzie, McKenzie Law)
12:30 – 12:40: Closing comments (Tom Hayek, MMBEN Coordinator)
12:45 – 14:00: Lunch and networking

As always our next event has been chosen by a vote from our member businesses.  You wanted to know more about what funding is available to help deliver the environmental and sustainability goals that many of you are moving towards (at an increasing pace!).  We have brought together an eclectic programme that we hope will help to answer this question from a variety of angles.

The first presentation will be given by Eftec, the UK’s leading environmental economics consultancy, who will give an overview of how to value the environmental assets (or natural capital) that your business has.  Either side of our first networking coffee break, we then have sustainability funding experts from Carbon Trust and Marches Growth Hub who will talk about the funding available to improve your sustainability profile before 2 of our member businesses will explore some more ‘interesting’ ways of funding environmental improvements in our area.

Booking is essential for this event and there are also opportunities for businesses to exhibit at the event. Please email or call us on 01743 284274 to book or discuss in more detail. Please also feel free to forward this information to any of your business contacts who may also be interested in attending.

When booking, please let us know if you have any mobility issues or dietary requirements.

Sponsored By: Funding Your Sustainable Goals networking event - Programme


Adam Marshal (2)

QES Q1 Results Published Today

BCC Quarterly Economic Survey: Solid economic growth likely in Q1 but inflation remains a key risk

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today (Thursday) publishes its Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and most authoritative private sector business survey. Based on the responses of over 7,300 businesses in Q1 2017, the results show the manufacturing and services sector are reporting solid growth, with both experiencing increases in domestic and export sales since the previous quarter.

The survey shows the manufacturing sector performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, particularly in the exports market, with the number of firms reporting improved sales and orders higher than in previous quarters. However, the rising cost of overheads and raw materials are presenting as a risk to growth in the medium term.

Although the performance of the services sector has not returned to historic trend levels, it is improving from its decline in the two quarters immediately following the EU referendum.

The results of the survey found that businesses are continuing to feel inflationary pressures. The percentage of manufacturers reporting raw materials as the key driver of increased prices is at the highest since Q4 2011, and in both sectors a significant proportion of firms anticipate having to raise their own prices over the next three months.

The findings indicate that while confidence in turnover and profitability is improving, investment intentions remain low. More businesses have increased their employment expectations, although both sectors are being hampered by recruitment difficulties.

Key findings in the Q1 2017 survey:

  • Overall, the figures for both sectors indicate continued expansion. While the services sector has not yet returned to historic trend levels, it is moving towards it
  • The percentage balance of manufacturing firms expecting the price of their goods to increase over the next three months remains at historic highs, despite falling slightly from last quarter from +52% to +47%. In the services sector, the balance of firms expecting prices to rise increased from +30% to +32%
  • 76% of manufacturers report an increase in the price of raw materials (up from 65%), while this held steady for services at 17%. 38% of manufacturers report an increase in the cost of other overheads (up from 23%), while 28% of services did (up from 24%)
  • In the manufacturing sector, the balance for firms reporting increased domestic sales rose from +15% to +20%, and orders rose from +7% to +16%. The balance of firms reporting improved export sales rose from +16% to +26%, and the balance of export orders also increased from +13% to +22%
  • In the services sector, the balance of firms reporting improved domestic sales rose from +15% to +22%, and orders from +13% to +19%. Exports remained broadly steady, with the balance for sales rising from +8% to +10%, and export orders falling slightly from +6% to +5%
  • The percentage of businesses in both sectors trying to recruit grew in the last quarter, standing at 86% in manufacturing (up from 77% in the last quarter) and 59% in services (up from 53%). However, both sectors continue to experience high levels of recruitment difficulties, with the percentage standing at 74% in manufacturing (previously 76%) and growing to 58% in services (previously 51%)
  • Confidence remained fairly steady among both sectors in Q1. The balance of manufacturers confident that turnover would improve over the next 12 months rose from +43% to +44%, and the balance for services firms rose from +35% to +39%. The balance of manufacturing firms confident that profitability would increase rose from +22% to +32%, and from +21% to +28% in services

Commenting on the results, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

 “In the here and now, many businesses are resilient and experiencing solid growth. Many firms tell us their short-term expectations are strong, but that the medium-term picture is far from clear.

“The rise in inflation seen since last year’s EU referendum is the biggest immediate pressure facing most firms. While manufacturers have enjoyed a good quarter, they are facing higher costs at the factory gates, which increasingly translates into companies having to raise their own prices. With inflation already above the Bank of England’s target, this squeeze on firms looks set to continue in the medium term.

“The myriad of upfront costs imposed by government – including business rates, Apprenticeship Levy, National Living Wage and insurance premium tax – are all adding to the overhead costs of firms and the pressure on prices.

“Businesses also continue to report recruitment difficulties, and while we’d like to see greater investment in training across the board, without access to a sufficient talent pool, companies are restricted in their development ambitions.

“Our survey, with deep participation all across the UK, demonstrates the fact that there are longstanding structural issues here at home that we need to tackle to sustain success in the future. The competitiveness of firms depends on a bold domestic economic policy – not just a good Brexit deal.”

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said:

“Our latest survey suggests that the UK economy put in a solid performance in the first quarter of the year, with businesses remaining resilient.

“The services sector continues to rebound from its initial shock in the months immediately after the EU referendum, and while growth has not yet returned to historic levels, it remains a key driver of the UK economy.

“Manufacturers’ export sales are at their highest levels in recent years, with the decline in Sterling and an improving outlook for the global economy helping a number of firms who export. However, if the sector is to sustain this growth in the long-term, there must be action on the difficulties facing it, including chronic underinvestment in the UK’s infrastructure and shortages in the labour market.

“Inflation is a key risk to the UK’s growth prospects, with businesses having to manage rising costs and the pressure to raise their prices. If higher inflation squeezes consumer spending as we expect, the current strength in business activity may not be enough to prevent a period of more muted economic growth.”

QES Summary Q1 2017


Group of 4 - Job Vacancy

Digital Recruitment

Digital Recruitment Project Manager


(Initial 12 month fixed term)

Circa £23,000

Shropshire Chamber has an innovative digital recruitment project, that needs an energetic, enthusiastic person to move it to the next level and take to the commercial market. This exciting opportunity needs your help.

Do you have experience of the following:

  • Understanding of the recruitment and employment markets
  • You have a natural ability in the world of digital technology and communication
  • You are ready to work hard to make the project a success
  • You want to make a difference to people’s lives
  • You have a commercial aptitude and can work to budgets

If this sounds like you, then please email your CV in confidence to:

Poundland tycoon to be guest at county ‘Oscars’

The Shropshire-based entrepreneur whose Poundland retail empire made him a multi-millionaire will be sharing his top tips for success at this summer’s county business ‘Oscars’.

Steven Smith (pictured below), who now lives in a £6 million mansion near Bridgnorth with its own pool, bar and helipad, will deliver the keynote address at the 17th annual Shropshire Business Awards.

Tickets are now on sale for the black-tie evening, at Telford’s International Centre on Friday June 23, when the Shropshire Company of the Year, plus a host of other winners, will be crowned.

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce which organises the event, said: “Since its launch back in 2001, the Shropshire Business Awards has been famed as the largest celebration of our county’s business success.

“A key part of the night is always the quality of high-profile guest speakers, and we are delighted to add Steven to that list in 2017. He is an outstanding speaker, and an outstanding businessman, with strong connections to our area.”

More than eight out of 10 British shoppers have been into a Poundland store since Steven launched the company in 1990.

Steven’s theory was that there is no such thing as bad products, only bad prices.  He was proved right, when they took £13,000 on their first day and he sold his business for an astonishing £50 million in 2002.  The industry is now worth a staggering £5 billion.

The idea of Poundland was born when Steven started work on his parents’ Bilston market stall in the West Midlands at the age of 14.

He noticed that sometimes they made more money from items in the 10p to £1 box than from the takings of everything else on the stall. He left school at 16, and set up his first shop at 17.

Steven and his wife Tracy worked hard when they set up the first store, stacking shelves by day and sleeping in a van overnight outside because they couldn’t afford a hotel.

As a child, money was tight, but selling was clearly in his blood. He and his family lived with his grandparents as a child until his parents eventually took him to live in a flat – he can still remember having to share one portion of chicken and chips between them and smelling urine in the graffiti covered lifts.

He says he never forgets his roots, and is keen to give something back to other business people looking to expand and succeed.

He was voted Britain’s Best Boss a few year ago and is ambassador for the RBS/NatWest Entrepreneur Spark. He is also a Retail Ombudsman, where his job is to oversee the department in London responsible to dealing with complaints from consumers and retailers over the UK.

Want to hear what Steven Smith has to say? To book your seat for the Shropshire Business Awards 2017, go to the website

Entries for the awards close on May 5.

bloodhound 1

Supersonic car is a soaraway success at TCAT

The supersonic car which is aiming to break the world land speed record proved a huge hit during its week-long stay at Telford College of Arts and Technology.

More than 700 students from a host of schools and colleges were involved in the Bloodhound project, an interactive touring roadshow country promoting the value of careers in engineering.

Bloodhound is planning to become the first car to smash through the 1,000mph barrier, and is due to begin its first test runs in the south of England this summer.

As well as getting to see the vehicle itself, TCAT students also built and raced their own miniature rocket-powered cars under the watchful eye of Bloodhound engineers.

It was all part of a busy week of activities, centred around the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

The highlight of the week was a visit from Bloodhound project director Richard Noble, who held the world land speed record from 1983 to 1997.

He told a gathering of students and businesses: “We are in a fascinating time in life, as the procedure to sign us out of the EU begins, and our country has to change, big time.

“We hardly manufacture in our country at all now. Our manufacturing is just about 8% of gross domestic product, whereas it should be 20% or 25%.

“This represents a fantastic opportunity for the next generation, because Britain is going to be on its own, and we’ve got to show the world what we can really do.”

The TCAT Bloodhound week attracted interest from the TV, radio and print media, and the college organising team said it was a huge success.

TCAT principal Ian Clinton said: “The Bloodhound team laid on a fantastic week of educational activities – both for our own students, and those from other local schools too.

“We held morning workshops for up to 400 students from TCAT’s feeder schools, giving them the chance to hear about the car, and learn from the Bloodhound team.

“And around 300 of our own TCAT engineering and technology students worked with the engineers on the Bloodhound Model Rocket Car Challenge, where they built and raced rocket-powered cars.”

Local schools which got involved in the project included Burton Borough in Newport, Charlton and Ercall Wood in Wellington, and Holy Trinity Academy at Priorslee.

TCAT also hosted well-attended fact-finding events for businesses, and parents.

The Bloodhound car is the product of eight years of research, design and manufacturing, involving over 350 companies and universities.

At full speed, the supersonic car will cover a mile in 3.6 seconds – that’s the equivalent of 4.5 football pitches laid end-to-end, every second.

Mr Clinton said: “We were delighted to be able to give students from across the Telford & Wrekin area the chance to experience this cutting-edge technology, and to learn from the best in the business.

“The Bloodhound ambassadors are playing a key role in helping young people to make positive career choices by giving real-life context to their STEM studies.”

You can find out more about TCAT’s range of courses at a Specialist Open Event on April 26, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. For more details, see

bloodhound 2

bloodhound 4

bloodhound 3




Organisations join forces for the first time for THE Business Event 2017

Shropshire’s business support organisations are joining forces for the first time in 2017 for an unmissable event aimed at helping county enterprises grow and thrive.

The Business Event 2017 will be the largest event dedicated to supporting businesses in every sector, no matter what size they are, in Shropshire.

Organised by the Marches LEP in partnership with the Marches Growth Hub, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, The Business Event 2017 will be held at Telford International Centre on May 11.

The Business Event 2017 will feature keynote speakers running multi-million turnover businesses in the region sharing their inspiring stories of success; presentations on using digital and social media to increase sales and engage customers; workshops on export, business rates and skills and clinics on access to finance and funding.

It will kick off with a the biggest express networking breakfast ever held in the county as Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses combine to offer businesses a chance to expand their networks.

LEP Director Gill Hamer said: “This is a first for Shropshire, which is why it is THE event businesses should be attending. We are bringing the county’s business support organisations, information and help under the same roof for the first time, making it easier for businesses to access the support they need to grow their business.

“We also wanted businesses to be inspired and hear how other companies have achieved success, with home-grown entrepreneurs not only telling their story but also giving their tips on growing a business.”

The Business Event 2017 will hear from Edward Grainger, of the world’s leading provider of aluminium casting solutions to the automotive and motorsport markets, including Formula 1. More speakers will be announced this month.

The event will have a dedicated Business Support Zone, with specialist advisers on hand for 1-2-1 sessions on exactly what’s available for individual businesses including information on grants, mentoring and international trade.

The Marches LEP will also launch its annual report at the event, and give an overview on how £104m is being invested in the region in infrastructure, jobs and homes creating projects which aim to remove barriers to economic growth.

Organisations including the Department for International Trade, West Mercia Police, University Centre Shrewsbury and the University of Wolverhampton, will have information stalls at the event to demonstrate how they can support business.

Chairman of the LEP Graham Wynn said: “The Business Event 2017 is the first time the various business networks and organisations have worked in partnership for an event of this kind which is dedicated to business support.

“It’s a valuable opportunity to make contacts, find out what help and support is available and get some real practical advice and insight into how to grow your business.”

To register to attend The Business Event at Telford International Centre on May 11, visit

BCC: Practical support for businesses will help boost UK’s trade performance

Commenting on the UK trade figures for February 2017, published today by the ONS, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Although the UK’s trade deficit widening in February is disappointing, its largely as a result of an increase in ‘erratic’ goods. The longer-term measures continue to point to an improvement in the UK’s trade performance.

“Trading conditions for UK exporters are likely to improve over the near term as a persistently weaker Sterling, and an improving outlook for the global economy, combine to boost international demand for UK goods and services. However, the extent of the improvement is likely to be limited by the rising cost of raw materials, which together with the raft of other high input costs facing businesses, is putting pressure on their cost bases.

“Although trade’s contribution to UK economic growth is set to rise over the next few years, this is unlikely to be sufficient to offset the expected slowdown in other areas of the economy, most notably consumer spending.

“As we move through the negotiating process for exiting the EU, there must be a greater focus on providing practical support for those businesses looking to export, including revitalising and expanding the trade mission programme to help firms take full advantage of growth opportunities in new markets.”

Midland Computers Becomes a Microsoft Authorized Education Partner

Midland Computers earns distinction through commitment to academic customers.

Midland Computers, today announced it has become a Microsoft Authorized Education Partner (AEP), demonstrating its ability to meet Microsoft academic customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment. To earn a Microsoft AEP authorization, partners must complete a test to prove their level of academic licensing and market expertise.

The AEP program is designed to train participating resellers on Microsoft’s Academic licensing, authorize them to purchase and resell Microsoft Academic licenses, and demonstrate to potential customers that they are approved and knowledgeable academic partners.

“This Microsoft AEP authorization shows our commitment and specialism in the academic IT marketplace and demonstrates our knowledge of Microsoft and its academic products,” said Nick Dodd – Sales Manager. “We hope to accelerate our academic customers’ successes by serving as technology advisors for their IT requirements.”

“By becoming AEPs, partners show themselves to be committed and trained in providing discounted Microsoft academic products to the education market,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Education for Microsoft Corp.’s Worldwide Public Sector. “This authorization, along with our other education partner initiatives, gives our partners recognition of their areas of expertise and our academic customers the confidence that they are buying from academic IT specialists.”

The Microsoft AEP Program is designed to authorize and equip organizations that deliver academic products and services through the Microsoft platform with the training, resources and support they need to provide their customers with superior experiences and outcomes.

Midland Computers are a Telford based IT support company, specialising in a range of services from cloud hosting, virtualisation, business continuity and more. They are a Microsoft Gold Partner and take pride in delivering the best IT solutions for business and education with their comprehensive technology services, hardware, data centre and ongoing support.

Property sharing has its pitfalls

Shropshire homeowners who rent out their spare room could be asking for trouble, according to a local insurance expert.

Dave Williams, of Henshalls Insurance Brokers in Newport and Shrewsbury, said not only could the homeowner be contravening their mortgage or lease conditions, they could also invalidate their home insurance policy.

“Nearly 80,000 homeowners in the UK earn extra cash by using property sharing services such as Airbnb, but by letting out available rooms you could actually be risking everything.

“Most leases have a condition that the property cannot be used as anything other than a private residence, but if you let spare rooms to paying guests, you could face losing your lease altogether.

“And even if you are allowed to let your property, you could still be jeopardising your insurance policy if you don’t inform your insurer about your plans to host – if they find out you’ve been sub-letting rooms, they could refuse to pay out if you make a claim.”

Mr Williams said some property sharing services offered a “host guarantee” just in case something should go wrong while a guest was renting the space.

“But this guarantee should not be treated as a replacement for home or tenants’ insurance.

“In fact, generally, the guarantee will not protect your cash, your pets, or cover reasonable wear and tear, or common areas, and there is only limited protection included for jewellery, collectibles and art work.

“If you are seriously thinking about letting your property through a property sharing service, make sure you check your lease or mortgage first to see if it’s permitted.

“And review your home insurance to verify whether you would be covered if you should have to make a claim.

“Existing policies can be amended to allow for a property sharing arrangement, but the changes will need to be made before you let the tenants in, not once they’re in residence.”

Townhouse INVITE 5th April 2017

Award Winning Townhouse Opens It’s Doors to You

The Townhouse at Oswestry are holding an open evening this Wednesday 5th April  from 7pm onwards, to showcase their award winning restaurant to companies that might be interested in finding out more about what they have to offer with regard to meetings, events spaces and group dining facilities.

The Townhouse provides one of the most unique settings in the centre of Oswestry with a range of flexible spaces that can cater from 2 – 60.

So whether it’s a board meeting, business lunch, a creative corporate day away, product launch, or a good old fashioned conference, their dedicated and highly efficient team will make your event run like clockwork.

So why not go along and take a look around this truly individual venue whilst enjoying wine and canapes with them.