Banking market report

Commenting on the CMA report setting out the preliminary findings of the competition regulator’s investigation of the SME business banking market, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Businesses have waited a year for the CMA to undertake its investigation, and many will be disappointed with the results. The CMA’s preliminary report pulls many of its punches — even if it acknowledges that some problems exist in the business banking market.

“While proposals to help SMEs switch banks or compare costs are positive moves, they are unlikely to be game-changing. The CMA is effectively endorsing a status quo that many businesses find unacceptable.

“While it chose to avoid massive structural change in the business banking market, the CMA could have suggested further remedies to boost competition, or signalled alternatives to government, such as a beefed-up British Business Bank.

“Many businesses will be concerned about the prospect of their data being shared around financial institutions. This must only occur with the business’s express consent, otherwise it creates yet another trust issue that businesses and the financial industry will have to overcome. Since businesses trust other businesses, the CMA should focus on promoting initiatives like the Business Banking Insight, which lets SMEs across the UK learn from the experiences of their business peers before choosing products and services from different banks.”

“The CMA is due to publish its final report next year. Many will hope the CMA strengthens its proposed remedies on business banking, rather than strengthen the status quo.”

Eastern Airways launches significant capacity increase on city-hopper route

Eastern Airways has almost doubled seat capacity on its busy Leeds Bradford® – Southampton route by introducing larger aircraft and increasing frequency to give Yorkshire business travellers even greater choice.

This latest announcement follows the news last month that Eastern Airways had increased services on Leeds Bradford® – Southampton service from three to four flights each weekday in each direction.

A larger 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft will now operate services with an additional 3,700 seats a month available on the route from Monday 2 November 2015.  The change of aircraft will also result in

improvements to the schedule.

Weekday flights will leave Leeds Bradford® at 6.50am, 10am, 2.30pm and 5.50pm, arriving in

Southampton at 7.55am, 11.05am, 3.35pm and 6.55pm.  Flights from Southampton will depart at 8.25am, 11.30am, 4.15pm and 7.25pm, landing in Leeds Bradford® at 9.30am, 12.35pm, 5.20pm and 8.30pm.  Sunday services will leave Leeds Bradford® at 4.50pm and Southampton at 6.45pm.

Yorkshire has strong business links with Hampshire and the south coast of England, particularly in

finance, insurance, IT, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, construction and manufacturing industries.  Also Southampton is steeped in maritime history with its world class port for cruise liners.


Kay Ryan, Eastern Airways’ commercial director,
said: “By increasing capacity and recently upping the frequency of services due to the popularity of this important route, this demonstrates our firm

commitment to both regions.  We’re providing greater choice with more seats, a business-focused schedule with improved adjustments to timings to meet increased demand from business travellers commuting between these two vibrant business centres.”

Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford
® Airport’s aviation development director, said: “We welcome the

introduction of additional Eastern Airways capacity on the Southampton route to meet demand from

regional businesses.  With a flight of around an hour compared to over a four hour rail or road journey, there is no better way to travel to that all important meeting.”

Marketing expert takes the helm at York & North Yorkshire Chamber

Marketing consultant, Ed Everard is the new President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber. Ed has served as Vice President for the last two years and also joined the West & North Yorkshire Chamber Board recently. He will be supported by new Vice President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber, Bridget Meynell, managing director of Minster FM.

Ed is an independent marketing consultant, who continues to work part-time with Saville Audio Visual, the company where he worked from the age of 17. In 1996 he and colleagues completed a management buy-out from the Saville family.

He helped to build Saville Audio Visual, based in York, as a market leader in the UK professional audio visual and video conferencing industry, with a unique nationwide network of offices and a growing turnover currently in excess of £40 million.

Ed commented: “I feel privileged to have worked so closely with the York & North Yorkshire Chamber and I am very proud to take on this new role. I hope my experience will be of value at all levels across the region.”

Bridget Meynell has had a long and successful career in commercial radio and media spanning over 25 years. Educated in Harrogate and then London she worked for 10 years in London before returning to her Yorkshire roots in the late 90s to work in West and now North Yorkshire.

As well as being very experienced in marketing and events, Bridget understands the economic challenges facing businesses and employers in the area and has been on the board of West & North Yorkshire Chamber for two years.

Survey shows growth for manufacturers despite challenges

“The latest findings from the West & North Yorkshire Chamber quarterly economic survey (QES) for Q3 2015 present a two speed economy.  The service sector continues to grow at pace, reporting increasing headcounts and solid domestic and export sales, although the pace of growth has slowed in parts of our region.

Our manufacturing base, with more reliance on global markets, is definitely feeling the impact of international economic challenges. Although export sales improved this quarter following the falls reported in Q2, there is no doubt that the appreciation of sterling has squeezed margins with little opportunity to increase prices against a backdrop of slowing world trade. Despite this, growth is continuing across the sector, albeit at a reduced pace.

Companies are taking a long term view, recruiting and investing for future growth, I remain cautiously optimistic but as reported across many channels there is absolutely no room for complacency.”

Read the rest of the foreword and full report here.

Our own view of the market is broadly in line with the findings reported here. The appreciation of sterling against the Euro has benefitted our competition making them more competitive when selling in GBP, in turn placing downward pressure on our selling price. We do get a benefit from cheaper raw materials which we buy in Euros, partially offsetting the effect, dependant on material content and product mix however. We do see a growing order line which perhaps reflects a more contemplative market as we move into 2016.

Mark Viner, Commercial Director, Airedale International Air Conditioning Ltd

150 BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM £500,000 SKILLS FUNDING

Over 150 businesses have benefitted from funded training through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). More than £500,000 has now been awarded to businesses to invest in skills, enabling them to maximise their training budget and support their staff development.

The LEP’s recent business survey revealed that 74% of businesses have identified skills gaps in their workforce, demonstrating the importance of investing in training for current employees to stimulate growth.  From the investment, some organisations have trained over 40 employees with leadership and management courses proving popular to improving performance and enabling staff to move into higher level roles. More specialist training requests have also been supported including parametric modelling, which involves using the computer to design objects by modelling their components with real-world behaviours and attributes.  Companies are also taking the opportunity to learn Russian, Swedish and Italian, with potential to expand their business overseas and tap into the export market.

One business benefitting from the support is Blueberry Marketing Solutions, a business-to-business telemarketing agency in Leeds who have taken advantage of the skills offer from the LEP. Working with advisors to construct a complete training package for their organisation. The training included sales and marketing, leadership and management, PRINCE2 and a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification.

Managing Director of Blueberry Marketing Solutions, Faresh Maisuria explained:

“What’s been really pleasing for us is that we had a specific budget in place to run training this year already – and so the skills service has simply allowed us to increase both the frequency and numbers of staff being trained.

“The skills service allows businesses to really take control of their skills gaps by upskilling existing staff of any age and any previous qualifications. It has helped to make training accessible offering employees a well-defined development road map which will have a positive impact on our continued business growth.”

Board Chair and skills lead, Mark Ridgway OBE DL, of Group Rhodes said:

“With grants of between £500 and £50,000 available to businesses with a budget to put towards training, employers have the opportunity to work with a team of expert skills advisors, discuss their long term growth plans and skills needs, and put together a robust training plan for their staff.

“Offering a comprehensive service to businesses, the team of advisors support employers to tackle paperwork, source appropriate training provision and submit an application for funding. The LEP are dedicated to ensuring local businesses primed for growth have the skills to succeed.”

The £13.9 million funding is available to eligible small and medium sized businesses within Leeds City Region and available until March 2017 and businesses are encouraged to contact the LEP to find out how they could benefit.

Do you want to find out more about how the LEP skills service could help your business? Find out more and apply for funding by visiting: www.the-lep.com/skillsservice or contact one of our experienced skills advisors: skills@the-lep.com or 0113 386 1910.

150 BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM £500,000 SKILLS FUNDING

Over 150 businesses have benefitted from funded training through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). More than £500,000 has now been awarded to businesses to invest in skills, enabling them to maximise their training budget and support their staff development.

The LEP’s recent business survey revealed that 74% of businesses have identified skills gaps in their workforce, demonstrating the importance of investing in training for current employees to stimulate growth.  From the investment, some organisations have trained over 40 employees with leadership and management courses proving popular to improving performance and enabling staff to move into higher level roles. More specialist training requests have also been supported including parametric modelling, which involves using the computer to design objects by modelling their components with real-world behaviours and attributes.  Companies are also taking the opportunity to learn Russian, Swedish and Italian, with potential to expand their business overseas and tap into the export market.

One business benefitting from the support is Blueberry Marketing Solutions, a business-to-business telemarketing agency in Leeds who have taken advantage of the skills offer from the LEP. Working with advisors to construct a complete training package for their organisation. The training included sales and marketing, leadership and management, PRINCE2 and a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification.

Managing Director of Blueberry Marketing Solutions, Faresh Maisuria explained:

“What’s been really pleasing for us is that we had a specific budget in place to run training this year already – and so the skills service has simply allowed us to increase both the frequency and numbers of staff being trained.

“The skills service allows businesses to really take control of their skills gaps by upskilling existing staff of any age and any previous qualifications. It has helped to make training accessible offering employees a well-defined development road map which will have a positive impact on our continued business growth.”

Board Chair and skills lead, Mark Ridgway OBE DL, of Group Rhodes said:

“With grants of between £500 and £50,000 available to businesses with a budget to put towards training, employers have the opportunity to work with a team of expert skills advisors, discuss their long term growth plans and skills needs, and put together a robust training plan for their staff.

“Offering a comprehensive service to businesses, the team of advisors support employers to tackle paperwork, source appropriate training provision and submit an application for funding. The LEP are dedicated to ensuring local businesses primed for growth have the skills to succeed.”

The £13.9 million funding is available to eligible small and medium sized businesses within Leeds City Region and available until March 2017 and businesses are encouraged to contact the LEP to find out how they could benefit.

Do you want to find out more about how the LEP skills service could help your business? Find out more and apply for funding by visiting: www.the-lep.com/skillsservice or contact one of our experienced skills advisors: skills@the-lep.com or 0113 386 1910.

Chamber Board shuffle

West & North Yorkshire Chamber has made a number of changes to its Board of Directors. The group includes Bradford Chamber, Leeds Chamber and York & North Yorkshire Chamber.

Stephen Wright of Thorite, Past President of Bradford Chamber, takes over as Chairman and Andrew Lindsay of Lupton Fawcett, who led the Chamber during its merger last year, stands down.

Graham Cooper of Agfa Graphics, and a key figure in establishing the Universal Technical College (UTC) in Leeds which opens next September, has been appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Board. Also joining the Board is York & North Yorkshire Chamber’s new Chamber President Ed Everard of Saville Audio Visual. His deputy and Vice President is now Bridget Meynell of Minster FM. New Board members also include Paula Dillon of Bond Dickinson and Nick Garthwaite of Christeyns who take on vice-presidency roles in Leeds and Bradford respectively.

The AGM also premiered the Chamber’s new animation film outlining achievement in the last 12 months which can be viewed here. Key landmarks included: a value of goods declared on international documents at £22.5billion, attendance of over 7,000 delegates to Chamber events, 405 individuals helped to start a new business, 3,600 businesses supported through Chamber services (such as the legal helpline), 80 businesses housed in Chamber property and £5.6 million loaned to business by the Business  Enterprise Fund. This comes in addition to 4,000 young people helped to engage with business in the year.

Chief Executive of West & North Yorkshire Chamber, Sandy Needham commented: “It’s important that the board represents a diverse range of member businesses across the region to help determine the direction of the Chamber group. Our mission continues to be to support, connect and represent our members.  I’m looking forward to working with the new board to establish a growth strategy for the Chamber.”

(Pic: L-R: Chairman Stephen Wright with Chamber chief, Sandy Needham)

Economic Forum

The above event is being hosted by Insider business magazine, and bookings are still being taken.

Speakers include Bradford Chamber’s Vice-President Nick Garthwaite and the Council Chief Executive Kersten England.

The future of manufacturing in the area will be discussed, along with how changing technology continues to affect economic prospects.

When: 8-9.30am, Thurs 22 Oct
Where: Cedar Court Hotel, Rooley Ln, Bradford BD5 8HW

Visit Insider’s website for more info and booking details.

Other information on Bradford’s economy:

– The district has the fifth highest number of manufacturing jobs in the UK, while its value of production output has increased to £2bn – a quarter of Bradford’s total GVA.

– A powerful culture of entrepreneurship: 29,000 people are self-employed, the level of business start-ups is strong and unprecedented numbers of companies are being formed each year – upwards to 2,000.

– Research places Bradford at number 22 in the top 100 UK towns for company growth, well ahead of neighbouring cities Leeds and Sheffield, which came in 44th and 80th respectively.

Businesspeople and education leaders: Make under 16 work experience a national priority

A huge majority of business, school and college leaders want ministers to recognise the importance of pre-16 work experience, according to a new survey published today (Wednesday) by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The survey of over 3,500 business bosses and education leaders found that 82% of business respondents, and 73% of respondents from schools, colleges and universities believe secondary schools should offer work experience for pupils aged under 16.

Work experience is not offered universally across the UK and in England, in particular, it has been deprioritised.* However, the survey found that 79% of employers think work experience is the most important activity to equip young people with workplace skills, followed by paid part-time work (69%) and volunteering (55%).

While the majority of businesses offer some form of work experience, a third of businesses (36%) offer no work experience of any kind. Micro and small businesses, in particular, need greater support to offer work experience.

Further findings from the survey:

Businesses should prioritise delivery of work experience.

  • 50% of firms identified work experience as the top priority activity for businesses to offer young people, over business mentoring (15%), part-time paid work (14%) enterprise activities (9%), volunteering (6%), and other (6%).
  • 48% of educational establishments identified work experience as the top priority activity for businesses to offer young people, over enterprise activities (18%), mentoring (13%), volunteering (7%), part-time paid work (6%) and other (8%).

There’s no single ideal work experience model – businesses that offer work experience value a variety of models.

  • 66% of firms offer one to two week term-time work experience placements, 47% offer work placements during school holidays, 30% offer flexible work placements and 27% arrange visits to their businesses for groups of pupils.

Two-thirds of businesses offer work experience of some form. Those that don’t say that they need more support and encouragement to offer work experience.

  • 36% of businesses offer no work experience of any kind.
  • Firms that don’t currently offer work experience would be encouraged to do so by having more information about what is required (36%), someone to facilitate the relationship with the school (33%) and clarity on the benefits to their business (19%).
  • Micro, small and medium sized businesses are less likely than larger firms to offer work experience. 59% of micro businesses (0-9 staff) offer no type of work experience at all, compared to 29% of small (10-49), 16% of medium (50-249) and 12% of large firms (250+).

View survey infographic here

Commenting, John Longworth, Director General of the BCC said:

“Business and school leaders are clear: we won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.

“It was careless of Government to end compulsory work experience in 2012, but it is not too late to correct the mistake – and work with companies and schools to ensure that every school pupil has the chance to feel the energy, dynamism, buzz and challenge of the workplace for themselves.

“Work experience is crucial to bringing down our stubbornly high youth unemployment rate. It will help ensure more young people are prepared for work. It will help close the yawning skills gaps reported by frustrated businesses across the UK, who face huge difficulty filling vacancies at every level.

“The Government must act to bring compulsory work experience for under 16s back in England. Devolved administrations must ensure that it is available to all in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We pledge to work with governments in all four nations to ensure that more and more businesses then engage with schools, offer work placements to young people, and help the next generation get the start that they deserve.”