Thanet & East Kent Insider
Issue No.: 157
1. Doing Business With France
Are our East Kent companies missing a trick? The continuing advantageous exchange rate with the Euro suggests that there is now a wonderful opportunity for local firms to break into the French market. After all, is not East Kent the closest point to France? With these points in mind, the Thanet & East Kent Chamber Chief Executive will be visiting France shortly on a whistle-stop tour to locate and secure the services of one or more French agents specialising in promoting British firms throughout mainland France. To qualify an agency will need to have at least one employee with English of native-speaker standard, experience of promoting British products, the ability to create multi-lingual websites and a deep understanding of the cultural niceties that need to be addressed in ensuring that East Kent firms reach the customers they need with the profit margins necessary to sustain a successful export trade. We will keep Chamber members posted on the results.
2. Win A Car
3. Suppliers Wanted
4. Increasing Turnover
Successful companies change with the times. They boost their turnover through wise planning and quality training for their staff. As the tastes and preferences of their customers change, so do the products on offer. The really clever guys anticipate the trends or, as in the case of the Sony Walkman, Apple iPad and Facebook, create a market for themselves because what they offer is too tempting to resist. Paul Crocker, big boss at Chamber member MacDonald’s in Thanet, has written to the Thanet & East Kent Insider, with news of his forward-thinking strategy to open an outlet at Minster Services. The anticipated growth of Manston Airport is creating increasing demand for commercial and retail properties in the vicinity of the airport. It is worth recording that Paul employs around 300 people. The success of Paul’s operations is of no surprise to the workers he trains and sponsors. Several of his staff are now working towards their GCSEs in Maths and English on an in-house scheme and he has an enviable record in providing Modern Apprenticeships. Most of the managers on the staff started as members of the crew and now find themselves running multi-million pound businesses. There is no evidence of ageism in the staff profiles as some employees are celebrating 29 years with the group; the oldest worker can justly claim 80 candles on his next birthday cake and is still as keen as the mustard that goes on the burghers. Chamber members will take note that supplies are bought locally wherever possible and all the beef served is native to Britain and Ireland from forequarter and flank cuts with only a light sprinkling of seasoning added.
5. More About McDonalds
This year saw McDonalds appear for the first time in the Sunday Times list of “25 Best Companies to work for in the UK”. Rated as the 22nd best big company in the rankings, the recognition follows the results from extensive employee questionnaires which praised management for the quality of its leadership, career development, wellbeing and corporate social responsibility. As Paul Crocker indicated, the company takes training seriously. Since 2006, McDonald's has introduced a series of progressive training and development programmes for its 85,000 UK employees. These include a Foundation Degree in Managing Business Operations. Last year, over 12,000 employees gained nationally-recognised qualifications through McDonald's and another 16,000 are currently working towards a qualification. Not every firm can link the turnover of burghers on the hotplate to the turnover in its year end accounts, but there is no doubt that most successful companies provide progression routes for their staff and accredited training programmes. Do you? If not, contact one of the following Chamber training organisations for advice; Canterbury Christ Church University of Canterbury and Broadstairs tel: 01227 782196; Independence Support Services (ISSLLP) of Manston tel: 01227 822508; Fire Strategy Company Ltd of Manston tel: 01843 826282; K B Occupational Health & Safety Services Ltd of Ramsgate tel: 07702 951175; Maximus Employment and Training UK of Ramsgate tel: 01843 808410; Profile Development and Training Ltd of Broadstairs tel: 01843 609300; Saint John Ambulance of Maidstone tel: 01732 876417; TNG (Avanta Enterprises) of Ramsgate tel: 01843 570250; Training Solutions At Thanet College At Work, Through Work For Work of Ramsgate and Manston tel: 01843 821580; Venedo Ltd of Ramsgate tel: 01843 591791; YMCA Training of Margate tel: 01843 298625.
6. Preparing For Profit
Chamber President Laura Sandys MP joined Charles Buchanan Chief Executive of Manston Airport, Paul Willoughby, Flybe Sales Manager for Midlands & South East, and the Thanet & East Kent Chief Executive for the launch last Thursday of Flybe’s new three-times-a-week service to Belfast. Business travellers from East Kent will welcome the huge cost and time savings now available to them as well as the legroom on all seats, which is greater than on any other low cost airline flying from the UK. Flybe tell us also that: “The craic is legendary here, making our cheap flights to Belfast a must for weekend travellers, hen parties, stag dos and anyone in search of a good time.” Many readers with family connections to Northern Ireland will be wanting to reserve seats well in advance to obtain the best prices. At the time of writing, a single flight to Belfast from Manston on Sunday 5 th June 2011 can be bought from the website at www.flybe.com for under £30.00, which is cheaper than the train fare on the same day from Ramsgate to London St Pancras. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
The Sandwich Economic Development Task Force published its second report to HM Government last Wednesday. Under the Chairmanship of Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, the report pulled no punches. Although the team remains optimistic over the future of the Sandwich site, the proposals in the first report for a Research, Innovation and Technology Zone have not led to the action requested, provoking Paul Carter to write: “We are disappointed that as yet, Government has not backed our proposals. In particular, immediate uncapped rate relief for an extended period of time that could help the regeneration of the facilities at Sandwich for business use and avoid the demolition of the site is crucial”. This Chamber has led the fight against the pernicious Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007, see Property Week of 31 st October 2008, and we are not surprised that more of the UK’s commercial infrastructure is under threat of demolition. The first page of the Executive Summary gives no cause for celebration: “it has been disappointing that the government has failed to support our proposals for growth and investment in recent announcements”. Paul Carter is keen to emphasize the importance of speedy action and adds: “The next month will be critical to the future of the Pfizer site at Sandwich”. Salvation will surely depend on the results of a bid in the second round of the Regional Growth Fund. Local Enterprise Partnerships have been invited to submit proposals by the end of June 2011 with a response from government expected during the following month. With no public funding of any description, this Chamber is continuing to provide free advice and support to Pfizer employees at all levels of management through our regular Business Advice Clinics.
9. More On Manston
East Kent’s major airport at Manston is approaching a critical phase of development. An independent report has just been published by York Aviation which sets out the economic benefits of implementing the airport’s Master Plan. Key to the sustainability of the airport and its future development is a night flying policy. The global slowdown has not reversed the growth at the BRIC Economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China where York Aviation sees “the greatest market opportunities”. The report concludes: “The ability to handle aircraft movements between 23.00 hrs and 07.00 hrs would be necessary for Manston to attract a low-cost airline with planes based at the airport, as well as handle greater levels of freight from around the world.” It is worth considering how the East Kent economy could be linked to the development of Manston. What are the key facts behind the development? The benefits bill for Thanet is currently of the order of £180 million a year [Growth Without Gridlock, KCC, 1 Dec 2010]. Unemployment in Thanet stands at 5.6%, the highest in Kent and more than double the South East average. In the last 12 months, unemployment in Thanet has increased by 2.2%. The latest figures show Thanet as the only Kent district not to register a year-on-year fall. The number of Thanet workers registered as unemployed stands at 4,382. [All unemployment data from NOMIS and reproduced under the terms of the Click-use License no. C2010000980]. If Manston can deliver its Master Plan, York Aviation tells us that by 2018 it would lead directly to 2,070 new jobs with another 1,035 jobs created as a result of the expansion of the airport. There is understandable concern across the political spectrum on the environmental aspects of night flights, but surely a satisfactory agreement can be reached. If not, can anyone please inform this Chamber of any other proposal in Thanet to create 3,000 jobs? We would like to know.
10. Jean Can Help
Jean Murton is the director of the Belmont Centre for Hypnotherapy UK. She has helped countless people in East Kent to combat their addictions such as smoking and excessive drinking or as she puts it “change also rans into winners”. A Master of Neuro-Linguistic programming, Jean is also a practising hypnotherapist with a string of letters after her name as befits a founder member of the UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy and the official training officer for the British Association of Therapeutical Hypnotists (est. 1951). Among the many patients who have responded positively to Jean’s treatments are sufferers from phobias, compulsions, addictions, anxiety, panic states, irritable bowel syndrome and lack of self esteem. For more details, see the website at www.belmont-centre.co.uk or telephone The Belmont Centre in Ramsgate, tel: 01843 87929. You are guaranteed a kind answer.
11. Marketing News
12. Countryside Greeters
We are grateful to Delphine Houlton of Maxim PR of Tunbridge Wells for news of a new Countryside Greeters initiative from Visit Kent. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia This will be of interest to “Walking and cycling enthusiasts prepared to share their passion for the Kent countryside and coast”. The Kent Countryside Greeters will be volunteers happy to meet visitors to the county who share similar interests. The Countryside Greeters will talk to visitors about the many different walks and cycle routes available to suit different levels of ability and interests, and then join them for a local walk or ride. The Countryside Greeters project for coastal Kent is being launched at The Pines Calyx, St Margaret’s Bay, on Tuesday, 7 th June 2011. Anyone interested in joining the team will be given a short introduction to the Greeter programme and a walking tour of the area followed by discussions and a sandwich lunch. Kerstin Andrews, of Visit Kent, said: “No-one knows the best walks and cycle routes better than local people. Meeting a Countryside Greeter will give visitors a chance to find out about all the opportunities and enjoy a walk or a cycle ride with them.” She adds: “Kent is expecting lots of new visitors in the run-up to the 2012 Games and beyond. We want to ensure that our guests enjoy a great welcome”. So say all of us.
13. Kent Graduates
Grads Kent was one of the exhibitors at the Pfizer Open Day, see Thanet & East Kent Insider of 21st May 2011. We thank Sam Ewing and Nadia Lawes of Grads Kent for answering our questions about the background to the organisation. Research by Kent County Council has identified that of the 11,000 graduates who leave Kent Universities each year, just 30% secure a job in the county. Of course, incoming graduates redress the balance to some extent but local companies appear to be missing the opportunity to recruit aspiring career-minded professionals with the local knowledge to enter management with a flying start. Based on data quoted by Personnel Today, Grads Kent maintains that employers “can expect a return of between 500% and 800% when they hire new graduates.” Any additional costs are justified by the Return On Investment produced by the high level skills available including: “Written and oral communication, Problem-solving, Presentation, Organisation, Data analysis”, Grads Kent adds that self-motivation and the ability to work harmoniously in a team are attributes that undergraduates acquire during the years of study at university. More information is available at the website www.GradsKent.com or by telephone to 01622 696242. Chamber members who offer a quality route to recruitment can save you enormous time in sifting through CVs and interviewing unsuitable candidates. For a professional solution to your recruitment needs, contact one or more of the following Chamber members: 247 Recruitment (Kent) Ltd tel: 01843 294004; Adecco Recruitment of Broadstairs tel: 01843 609292; Connexions Partnership Kent & Medway Ltd of Maidstone tel: 01622 607578; Direction Recruitment of Ramsgate tel: 01843 598694; Maximus Employment and Training UK of Ramsgate tel: 01843 808410; TNG (Avanta Enterprises) of Ramsgate tel: 01843 570250; YMCA Training of Margate tel: 01843 298625.
14. Turner Contemporary Workshops
Art of all kinds is on offer from the Turner Contemporary over the next few months. Budding authors will be interested in the Let’s Get Critical Workshop on 4th June and 2nd July 2011. Participants will be guided on how to make their own film through animation using drawing, paper cut-outs and claymation at the Between the Word and the Image Day on 11 th June 2011. Book-making, story telling, floristry and how to paint in a wide variety of media also feature on the Turner Contemporary timetable of workshops between now and 20th August 2011. Full details are available on the website at www.turnercontemporary.org/whats-on/category/courses and by telephone to 01843 233 000
15. Third Sector
During last week, the Chamber was represented at the Princes Trust Awards at St Paul’s Community Centre and the AGM of the Thanet Voluntary and Community Sector Forum. Space permitting, reports will appear in the next edition of the Thanet & East Kent Insider.
16. Olympic Contracts
17. Say It With Flowers
We are grateful to one Chamber member for an account concerning a local florist. We have our doubts about this story but we leave it to readers to judge for themselves. A new shop opened recently at Westwood Cross. The proprietor received a number of cards from well-wishers as well as some small gifts to make him feel at home in his new business. Halfway through the first morning of trading, a large bunch of flowers arrived with a card that stated simply “Rest In Peace”. Angry at receiving such condemnatory words on what should have been a happy occasion, he immediately went to his office and telephoned the florist demanding an explanation in no uncertain terms. After some careful checking, he received a fulsome apology with the words: “It seems that the card to accompany a wreath for a local funeral was evidently mistakenly exchanged with yours. We are very sorry. But before you get too upset, you might like to reflect that as we speak somewhere at a funeral service near Margate, there is a large wreath with a note that states: ‘Congratulations on your new location’”.